Monday, June 29, 2009

What I Do

I was just thinking today that while camp is a huge part of my 'real life', I don't write about it on here all that much. And I thought maybe some of you were interested in what it is we actually do 'behind the scenes' of camp! So here I am, to lend some hopefully interesting insights into full-time Christian camp life.

Although we work hard at camp all year long, our summer camp season is the pinnacle of our year, and the crux of what we plan for & pray for all year long. We do hold retreats throughout the fall/winter/spring seasons, and these can be more financially profitable for the camp than our summer season sometimes is, so they are important, too, but when I think about the very center of our camp ministry, it always comes back to summer camp.

Here's the scoop: Parents give us their children for five days & five nights - Monday morning through Saturday morning. We have five days to interact with these campers and change their lives for Christ. Everything we do in those five days matters: the way their counselors speak to them, the things our speaker says in chapel, the way I treat them and their parents at the registration table, the way the kitchen staff serves them during meals, the attitudes the grounds staff displays as they unclog a toilet or mow the lawns....everything matters.

Summer camp is the absolute hardest seven weeks of the year for our family (and for the rest of our staff, as well). But seeing the impact that our staff is able to make on campers during those few days and weeks is worth every second and every minute of frustration and exhaustion and just plain HARD WORK.

One of my favorite memories in camp ministry, one that comes to my mind when I'm thinking of giving up, or getting frustrated with all I am responsible for, and with all I have to do in a short amount of time, is one particular Saturday morning a couple of summers ago. I was rushing around, running to the craft shop, delivering crafts to campers, attempting to deliver leftover snack shack money and shirts and was all frustrated with all I had to do, and my husband was struggling with something, so we were at each other's throats, and exhausted to boot, since it was the end of another exhausting week, and we joined the campers in the chapel to watch a video of the week's events. At the beginning of this closing ceremony, our director asked for those who had accepted Christ that week to come to the front and sign our blessing board (an awesome physical record of those who make decisions during the summer), and NINE campers walked to the front. NINE. I had no idea that our ministry had that impact during that week - I was so focused on crafts, snack shack, and the junk going on around me. As tears rolled down my face, I thanked God for all He does, sometimes in spite of us and our selfishness.

Since I'm also a full-time mom now, my ministry at camp has changed over the last couple of years, to be a little bit more part-time. I work as the camp secretary now, and take my little Z to camp with me. He plays in the office and generally wrecks the place while I attempt to answer emails & phone calls & do various mailings. On Monday mornings, I help the parents check their campers in at registration and spend the rest of the day untangling the mess of money & paperwork left in their wake. It's loads of fun. :) The rest of the week, I do my various secretarial duties and take care of my boy. So, I don't really get to interact with the campers much on a one-on-one basis, as much as a counselor would. But I can make a difference in the way I speak to them when I do get a chance, and how I act while they watch me interact with my family and other staffers throughout the week.

At the beginning of this summer, I asked God what my ministry should be this year, and He reminded me that although I need to be at home more with my little boy (while he naps and sleeps) while others are working hard from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm or later (a counselor's ministry is 24 hours a day), I can use that time to pour into our staff - through prayer, and notes of encouragement. So that has been my goal so far this summer, and a way that God can use me to minister to my child's needs and do His work at camp at the same time.

Although I am looking forward to quitting my paid job at camp at the end of the summer and 'just' being a SAHM, I know I will miss the day-to-day camp ministry. But I also know that God still has a ministry for me and for each member of my family at camp, whether we're paid or not. Maybe those of you who have children have noticed this, but our little ones can open many doors - people of all ages, shy people, even the most frustratingly self-centered teenage campers LOVE to see a baby, and God has and will continue to use this to start conversations, and possibly begin to soften a hard heart in the process. I look forward to seeing what He'll continue to do through me and my family in the future.

I'd love to hear from any of my readers about what ministries you're involved in, and if you have a family, how do you balance your family with your ministry?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What a Day It Has Been.

Today was quite a day. Half the time I felt like crying, and wow. Am I glad it's pretty much over.

I had an OB appt. at 1:00, so Z & I ate lunch & went early to see the ducks (by the little river outside the dr. office) - that was actually a big success, he liked them a lot! Our day went downhill from there.

Then we headed into my appointment, and waited 45 minutes (always fun with a toddler in tow), and then the dr. came in. The big goal today was to hear Tiniest's heartbeat with a Doppler radar. I am 14 weeks along now, so the dr. should be able to hear the heartbeat, but I am rather, ah, how shall I put this...well-padded in the abdominal area... anyway, the Doppler didn't work. The dr. said she could hear movement, but couldn't get a heartbeat. So I had to go to the hospital to have an ultrasound.

And, yeah, since I knew there was a possibility this would happen, and even coached myself about it on the way there, I wasn't freaking out AT ALL. I did not worry, or cry, or stress out over whether my baby was okay or not. Not one little bit. And, yeah, if you believe that, I have a beautiful bridge to sell you... :)

So, yeah, I was totally freaking out. And I had a good long time to stress out, too, because once we got to the ultrasound waiting room, we waited an HOUR AND A HALF. Tiny waiting room + 2 crochety old men + 1 other rather impatient largely pregnant woman +stressed out me for an hour and a half = not fun. We did meet a super brave 7-year-old with a broken arm, though, and he enjoyed playing with Z. :) The crochety old men, not so much. Z went up to them, and waved, and said, "Hello! Hi!" and they just grunted & put their noses back in their books. I hope I never forget how to play with a toddler! :(

Anyway...we finally went back to the ultrasound, and we got to see Tiniest!!! His/her heartbeat was GREAT -147, which is right where Z's always was, and he/she was moving his/her little arms & legs around - it was so neat! Babies are such a blessing, and wow, such a miracle!!! :) And this one part of the day, I am so grateful for!!! Just wish Hubby could've been there - it is always so cool to see the baby! :) I didn't ask what sex the baby was, if the tech could even tell, since Hubby wasn't there and all.

So after that good news, I was forced to take Z to the dreaded post office, site of many, many previously discussed parenting fails. Today I had to return something along with a bunch of packing peanuts, pack them into a new box while in the post office, and write the address on the box, and mail it. So I got my package all ready, and went up to the counter. And I had picked the wrong kind of box. So I went & got another box. And got the box ready again. And ten minutes later, I mailed it. Today my post-office parenting tactic was: nonexistent. Here's how it works: Let your child run wild around the post office the entire time you do your postal business and then pick up his mess and mayhem before you leave. This parenting tactic is always smiled on by other postal patrons. *ahem* NOT! But, seriously, I didn't even care by that point what other people thought. Z was safe, and really happy. One guy even stopped to pick up some of the envelopes Zachary was throwing around the room. Which was kind, but rather embarrassing. And when I was packing the 2nd box & dropped half the packing peanuts on the floor, I nearly bawled right there. And, yes, I only have one. And, yes I have a 2nd coming in December. And, no, I have NO IDEA how I'm ever going to go anywhere with both of them. Thank you for your concern. Prayers are always appreciated. :)

When we left the post office, Z had made a dirty diaper during all his mayhem-making. And of course I have NO CLUE where his wipes are, because of course they are not in the diaper bag (what a silly place for wipes). Thankfully I had an extra baby washcloth in the bag. *sigh* (Could've used the washcloth 10 minutes later after I let him eat a chocolate chip granola bar in a hot car. Smartest move of the day on my part.) Then some old guy almost hit me when I was backing out of the parking spot.

Then we STILL had to go to Wal-Mart. Z (who had missed his afternoon nap in all the hubbub) slept for approximately 10 minutes on the way there, and I had to wake him up to go in to the store. I knew I was in trouble when I was trying to wake him up, unbuckling his car seat, and I said, "Do you want to go to the store?" and he mumbled 'store' and instantly fell back asleep. He actually did fine, until we bought a ball, and he threw an enormous tantrum because I would not let him throw the ball down the aisle repeatedly, and I took it away. He really was screaming the entire time we were checking out. People were staring. Z is typically SO GOOD in public - he seriously never throws tantrums (except at home), so this was a rather embarrassing and unusual experience for me. And humbling.

Yeah, today was a humbling day. In so many ways. And I am SO glad it's over.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Praying for Stellan

Oh, readers, it breaks my heart to share that Stellan is back in the hospital again. Every time I read a tweet or a post by Mckmama about what she's watching her son go through, it just brings tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine the pain of watching your child suffer so.

She has an AMAZING post up today about her faith, and how God grows her faith even through TOUGH trials like those her family has been through these last few months. It was such an encouragement to me, I just wanted to share it with you.

And, will you please take just a minute to pray for Stellan today? That is all. Thank you.

Prayers for Stellan

Monday, June 15, 2009

Post Office Parenting Fails

Because of my secretarial work at the camp, I often have to visit the local post office. And because I take my son to work with me, he gets to go to the post office, too. Visiting our tiny post office used to be a joy, because of our cheerful, friendly, knowledgeable postmaster, Cheryl. She was more than willing to help me with my endless bulk mailing questions, entertain my little Z while helping me check out, and I considered her a personal acquaintance, if not a friend. However, a little over a year ago, she quit her job. She was replaced by a man. A man who argues with customers, knows nothing about bulk mailings, and does not overly appreciate screaming children. As you can imagine, I was less than thrilled. And it seems like every time I have visited the post office since then, I have experienced a parenting fail of one kind or another.

#1 - Last winter, when I had to take Z to the post office with me, he always wanted to run around and get into everything - the trash, the plant, etc. So he had these mittens on strings that he wore under his winter coat. In a flash of 'brilliance', I thought I would stand on one of his mittens, and he would have a little radius to run around, but not enough to get into trouble. It worked really well for a few minutes. Then he tried to run away. And fell flat on his face. And screamed. And screamed. The new postmaster was NOT amused.

#2 - This one is not only a parenting fail, but also a BIG babywearing fail. The next time I took Z to the post office, I attempted to wear him in the ring sling, thinking he would love being held next to me and I would love having him contained. If we're not moving, though, while he's being worn, he tends to get bored. Which he did, within five minutes. And screamed until I took him out. It was a female post office employee helping us that day, and needless to say, she was not at all impressed by my sling!

#3 - This time I just gave in and let him run around. I figured maybe I'd get helped faster that way. :) I think he knocked every priority mail box in the store onto the ground, along with several flyers.

The last time we went, I buckled him in his little Pooh umbrella stroller while I took care of my business. It was not a fail at all, especially since I handed him a bright orange flyer to 'read'. I have since used this technique during two OB visits, and even while getting blood drawn. Although he did end up throwing his crackers on the floor and screaming bloody murder that time. But it isn't his fault that it takes Mommy's veins 15 minutes to make 9 vials of blood. Overall it is a good technique that works for me, especially if I let him stay hungry until we get to where we're going and then give him food while he sits in the stroller.

So...now that we've covered that...what parenting fails have you had lately? :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hubby Appreciation :)

Remember how the other day, in the middle of my long, rambling post I mentioned a new artist I liked, Jimmy Needham? And how I was planning on buying his CD sometime soon? Well, surprise, surprise, I never got around to it. This morning I got everything in the car, and we pulled out to go to church, and Hubby turned the radio on. I thought, "hmm, I wonder if this is Jimmy Needham" but I wasn't sure. A minute later I asked, "Is this the radio?" and Hubby said, "No, I think it's a CD" with a funny look on his face. "Oh, well, it sounds like Jimmy Needham, I think" I said....and then I realized that it WAS! I had mentioned wanting the CD to Hubby the other night, and he had bought it for me & surprised me with it on the way to church! :) Isn't that nice? Well, he's just a nice guy. :)

And if you need to think hard to think of a reason to appreciate your hubby today, just head over here and cry your eyes out. Then leave Bonnie a comment - she mentioned on her blog that they've been really encouraging to her, and she's having a hard time facing Father's Day without her hubby. And then, while I'm ordering you around like a drill sergeant, just pray for her, too, why don't you? And then go hug your hubby. :) Thanks! :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Babywearing 'Stash'

Okay, my stash is NOT that impressive. :) But, as Steph said, how many carriers do you really NEED? :)

I won this ring sling from Kim's Kreations, and I love it - I haven't been using it a lot lately, I don't know, since I've been pregnant I just haven't felt like using it - I've been preferring my other carriers instead. (I haven't felt like hot wings lately, either, which is really wierd.) ANYWAY...here is the ring sling:


I also have a dark blue Patapum, which is at work, because that's where I typically use it, so I have no picture of it. It really needs to be washed, too, because the last time my son was in it, in a back carry, I needed to get some things done in the camp kitchen, and I fed him several cookies so he would stay happy until I was done (at 18 months, being stuck in a carrier is NOT his favorite thing - although he likes the front carry better, but that's not possible in the kitchen). So I was a little relieved not to have to take a picture of it. :)

My newest babywearing addition, which so far I have been VERY happy with, is my stretchy wrap! I made it myself! With no sewing! I just bought 7 yards of stretchy jersey knit fabric from Joann's (on sale for $2 a yard, no less), and cut it in half lengthwise (so I guess I actually have two of these). It's like a Moby, but MUCH cheaper, and it's so comfortable for Z & I - and I can't wait to use it with the new baby in December! I haven't got the hang of a back carry in it yet, though, which is a bummer. I will have to keep practicing!


The one carrier I would still like to get is some kind of water carrier - a mesh pouch or sling, because I know next summer my 2-year-old Z will want to go to the camp pond & swim, and I'll need to wear baby. I've been researching them, so I may order one before too long. :) Any recommendations?

I also wanted to give a shoutout to my favorite Babywearing forum - on www.babywearing.com - if you're ever looking for advice or videos or have any questions about babywearing, this is the place to go! I have learned SO much about babywearing through their forum - everyone is so sweet and helpful!

If you want to share your babywearing stash, or see everybody else's, head over to Steph's place for her babywearing link-up today! :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

LONG week

This has been a long week for our family. Hubby has had lifeguarding classes every evening, leaving while Z & I are still working at camp, and coming back long after Z's bedtime. For some reason, this makes our evenings L-O-N-G! I look forward to Joel being here in the evenings more than I realized, I guess. :) So Z & I have been doing some fun activities to try to make up for the fact that Daddy's not here, and to help me keep my sanity.

Monday night was finger painting, which went rather well, other than the fact that Z thought he should EAT the finger paint...hope it's non-toxic, right?! :)


Tuesday night, we played outside, throwing rocks into the creek, and sliding on the little slide on our porch. Last night, we took a ride in Daddy's Cub Cadet around the camp property (Z loves sitting in his little seatbelt, the wind blowing in his hair as we drive, plus I let him play with Daddy's cool horn that sings songs and makes funny noises - I totally wish I could drive it & take a picture of him loving it at the same time!), and then we played at the playground and dug in the sand for a while. His newest word is 'happy', and pretty much he's just been imitating or repeating me when I say it, but as we were digging in the sand, he all of a sudden turned and looked at me, with a big smile on his face, and said, "Happy! Happy, Mama!" - just wanted to tell me he was happy, I guess!!! I love it! :) We ended our night perfectly, with a few minutes of dancing to the radio station on our TV. :)


Tonight should be the last night of class for Daddy, and it will probably be raining, so you will most likely find us playing Play-Doh on the kitchen floor.

This morning, I had some 'alone time', but it wasn't very fun. I had to go to the dentist. I have a tooth that has been hurting me pretty badly all week. Making me mumble things like, "my face hurts" over and over...which of course, prompts Hubby (or my MIL) to finish the joke: "oh, yeah, well, it's killing me....." hilarious. Anyway...I didn't have to have it pulled, THANKFULLY - the dentist was able to 'just' put on a silver filling & hopefully I won't need a root canal...but I might. Not going to think about that now, or the fact that I have to go back in 2 weeks to get another cavity filled. I don't have a phobia of dentists the way I do of having blood drawn, but it's not my favorite thing in the world either. I have a really low pain/pressure tolerance, so even with numbing, the drill still makes me cringe & sends icky chills up & down my spine! The 1/2 hour drive through the back woods of western NY state to get to the dentist & back was GORGEOUS, though, and Kutless helped it go even faster!!!

Speaking of good Christian music, have you heard of Jimmy Needham? A few days ago I heard his song 'Forgiven & Loved' on our Christian radio station for the 2nd time, and liked it so much I had to come home and Google the lyrics! Another song the radio plays some that I didn't realize was his is 'A Breath or Two'. If you go to his site, you can listen to excerpts from all the songs on his newest album, which is AMAZING...and you MUST read his Bio - I love when artists just want to give God ALL the glory and have such an obvious PASSION for Him!

Z's other newest word this week is 'honey'. And he wants me to call him honey. At lunch, he kept saying, "Hi, Mama" and I would respond, "Hi, sweetie...Hi, baby" and finally he said, "No, HONEY!" So I said, "Hi, honey" and he smiled. :) He also sang a song to his beloved cheese that went something like this:

duba duba duba duba CHEESE...
duba duba duba duba CHEESE!

He is just a hilarious little boy. And I love him. Things are starting to get busy around the office as we head into camping season, so it has been a little stressful with extra work, but before long,we'll be done with the summer, and wondering where the weeks went. :) And if you've survived this long in this rambling post (longer than my Novacaine, unfortunately) you deserve some extra cuteness, so here is Zachary enjoying his new pool in diaper & crocs, just for you, my loyal reader(s). :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Finish This Sentence

I am… tired.

I want… a nap.

I have… an adorable son, and a bun in the oven.

I wish… I was better at keeping in touch.

I know… God's timing & will is always perfect.

I hate… my emotional nature.

I fear… that something will happen to one of my babies.

I hear… my son fussing.

I crave… cinnamon applesauce, and always ice cream.

I search… for more time in my day.

I always… am open to the idea of a nap.

I usually… can be found on the computer during naptime.

I am not… perfect.

I miss… sleeping in.

I love… my hubby & my kids.

I never… turn down an ice cream cone.

I rarely… wish I could go back in time.

I cry… at least daily, happy and sad tears, over anything.

I lose… if I play any sports.

I should… go get my son from his nap... :)

I worry… about whether what I'm doing in my parenting is 'right'.

I dream… about the future...five or so kids...ultra-patient me...gorgeous house... and also about shutting my son in a locker...???

I was… just about to get up when I found this & then spent ten minutes on it. Better go get Z! :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Locker Boy

This morning, I was back in high school. I was in the middle of some kind of science class, and everyone was being handed these surveys/quizzes that had to be completed by the end of class. But the classroom was huge and weird-shaped, and I couldn't find the teacher to tell her that I hadn't been handed a paper. When I finally found her, she handed me my paper, and let me know that it would be a large part of my grade. But the bell had already rung. I thought it was a simple survey, and I could fill it out quickly, but when I started to look at the paper, I had NO CLUE how to answer ANY of the questions on the quiz. But it was too late...I had to hurry to my math class on the other side of the school, which I was already late for.

And, on the way to said math class, I had to check on my son, who was in my locker. Yes, I said he was shut In. My. Locker. He was being very good and quiet in there, so I handed him a sippy cup, some toys, and a snack cup of goldfish crackers, and went to find my math class. I went to several rooms, but I couldn't figure out which class I was supposed to go to. As I was heading to yet another class, passing near the lockers, I could hear Z babbling and playing from inside my locker. Some lady was all concerned about him (Um, really, why am I surprised by this?), and was banging on all the lockers, trying to figure out which one he was in. So I walked past her to my locker, opened it and removed him before she could take him away from me. By the time I got there, he was about to fall asleep. So I rocked him in the food court, all the while wondering how I was going to pass my classes if my son would not be quiet and happy in my locker and if I couldn't even find my math class.

And, you guys...I have never been MORE happy to wake up, let me tell you. What a great big sense of relief I felt! The first thing I thought upon waking up was, "Hey, great- I don't have to take that science test!" The next thought was, "And I didn't neglectfully leave my son in a locker!" I was hugely relieved about the locker situation, truly. :)

I think pregnancy does WEIRD things to your brain, including giving you really strange dreams. Anybody else have any weird or recurring dreams lately???? :)