Monday, November 18, 2013

Colyer Camp

I have to preface this post by saying I know this is going to be hard for my mom to read. She wants nothing more than for all of us to take a vacation together somewhere! My side of the family is spread all over the states (brother and sis-in-law live in California and parents and youngest sister are in TN) and my mom is over the moon when we're all together, which only happens once a year. Not nearly enough.
Thankfully, Mom, Christmas is only ONE MONTH AWAY and you'll have all your little chicks under one roof :) Now wipe your tears, and keep on reading. 

Jon's dad (we call him Big John or Poppy) is on the board at Hidden Acres, the largest camp in Iowa. We had been talking for over a year about getting our whole family up there for a weekend. And by some miracle, it actually happened. There were other groups up there so all the activities were up and running. We got to eat in the dining hall (the food was delicious!), and stayed in the Inn they have there, which was nearly as nice as a hotel. 
The first night we were there, we had dinner on our own and roasted hot dogs in the fireplace. The kids ran around and played and had a great time. A few of us went outside for a campfire and Dawson was demanding that his dad and Uncle Adam tell him scary stories, which ended up getting a little too scary when they walked over to the barn in the pitch dark and shone their flashlights on a barrel full of horse bones. Thankfully there were no nightmares. Get it? Night-mares? Sorry. It just came to me. I should delete it.... Nope. Not gonna. 

Channing's pack n play fit in the handicap bathroom so bedtime was a breeze. That was a huge stress reliever to me. (Babies in hotel rooms is my hell on earth.) Me and a couple other sisters-in-law stayed up WAY too late and the boys were up before the sun. I had mentally prepared myself to get up right away with them to go take some pictures at sunrise. So even though I had barely a wink of sleep, I was happy to start our day of adventuring. A very COLD start, mind you. My fingers were icicles taking these pictures. But it was still fun. And beautiful. 
The bones weren't so scary in the morning (I'm guessing they're there for science camp??) but I heard the whole reenactment from Bennett of Old Man McCready who hangs from the rafters in the barn like a bat and eats children, or something awful like that. Can you tell Uncle Adam doesn't have kids??

Good morning, ladies. Sorry about your friend over there in the barrel.
This lobby area with the massive fire place was right outside our rooms, so this became our little living room. They kept that fire burning all weekend and I spent a lot of time sitting on that hearth to warm up. It was lovely.
A big part of the weekend plan was family pictures. Does your family love taking family pictures as much as my family??  (I'm strongly contemplating using this for our Christmas card. Yes? Best caption wins.....something.)
And the WHOLE family. Jon's the oldest of the four boys. Josh (second oldest) and Jenise are sitting and they have the four kids in front. Adam (3rd son, who tells my children horrific stories but we love him anyway) and Kayla (the entire family's hairdresser.) are in the back row on the right. Aaron (youngest son) and Bria have Aben, the blonde on Poppy's lap. And there you have it! This is the loudest group of people you'll ever meet in your life. 
Bria, the horse whisperer. I love the clouds in this picture. They look like a Monet painting.
I made Aaron and Bria pose a lot. They're the only ones who would willingly kiss for the camera ;)
At one point I asked Bennett what his favorite part was so far, the horses or the swimming? He said, "Can I choose anything?" I said, "Of course!" He said, "being with Uncle Adam." This boy wants to move in with Uncle Adam. He gets to go over there to play video games and eat junk food every once in a while and there is nothing this boy looks more forward to than those afternoons.

I get positively joyful when we get to be out in nature with our boys. I so wish we lived somewhere with mountains and rivers instead of corn fields. But I do love how immensely I appreciate it when we go anywhere else.
These little covered wagon cabins were the cutest thing ever. They reminded me of something you'd see in the old Parent Trap movie or something. So naturally we had to drag the kids all over for a little photo sesh. We pretended like it was some amazing little secret house they got to live in and they fell for our trickery. I got sweet smiles from all of them.

These best buddies might just be at camp here together someday, talking about girls and.....farts? I don't even know what boys talk about at night.

I just about died when I went into the cabin Bennett and Caleb had gone into together and found Caleb SWEEPING THE ENTIRE CABIN OUT. He's eight and he's more responsible than I am. I should borrow him for an afternoon. I'd probably learn a thing or two. He would have made a really good Boxcar Child.

Poppy and Uncle Josh stayed back with all the kids and the rest of us grown-ups got to go on a trail ride through the woods. It was so fun. I love being on a horse. It makes me feel strong. 

It's not the size of the horse that makes a man. 
Bria was in her element. She wanted to sleep in the barn with the horses but we didn't let her.
All the kiddos got to ride later that afternoon too! I'm pretty sure it was the first time my boys had been on a real horse. It was so wonderful how casual everything was there. We got to take them around the ring as many times as we wanted. It was such a blessing to be able to do so much with our own little family as a group. Channing missed the horse ride because he took a four hour nap. (Glory, hallelujah!!)

 This might be my favorite picture of the weekend.
At the end of the day a lot of us did the giant swing which was way more fun than I anticipated and then a few of the boys did the zip line. Dawson was a bit too small so he and I went and climbed this tree while we waited for them.
I was outside for the sunrise and sunset that day. Have I ever done that before? I'm not sure that I have. It was definitely a day to remember. Our fingers and noses were cold but our hearts were warm. There is nothing I like more than to be adventuring with my favorite people. I am beyond blessed to be a part of this family. All of the cousins are the fiercest of friends. Four sisters-in-law who couldn't be more different, have learned to appreciate all of those differences in each other and somehow find enough common ground to become some of the closest of friends. I'm so thankful for John and Judie and they way they lead this family with grace and laughter. It definitely says something when you can be with your in-laws for 24 hours and not be ready to leave! Except they don't even feel like in-laws. They just feel like my family.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The last of fall

These pictures are actually from a few weeks ago but I didn't get a chance to share them yet. My mom came up one weekend in October because my niece's appendix ruptured and the poor little thing ended up in the hospital for five days. Thankfully she's fine and fully recovered. But it was definitely a bit traumatic for my sister. I took the boys down to see her one afternoon. I knew Dawson would be quite concerned for Quinn and Bennett would be pretty unaffected, emotionally speaking. That was exactly the case. Dawson was right next to her, holding her hand, and Bennett was psyched about the cookies and juice boxes!
Piper (my sister's other daughter) stayed at our house while my mom was here and we all went to our favorite apple orchard. I love taking pictures in front of this red barn. (Last year, when Channing was just a little punkin.) 

 Real men hula hoop.

 These two six-year olds were wild that weekend.

 Well, as I'm typing this we're getting our first snow. Good-bye fall. You were especially lovely this year.