M&Ms, Lizards and Broken Teeth

We have two junior high retreats a year; one in the spring and one at the end of summer. So that means we all head to a camp somewhere out in the middle of nowhere with 50 junior high kids, tons of junk food, insane games and lie awake at 3:00am while they play pranks on each other. It’s a great way to end the summer.

In the past, Andy and the leaders transport everyone in 15 passenger vans. But this year he told me they were renting a school bus. And guess what? There was room for the kids and I to ride on it! Nope. That’s where I had to draw the line. A hot day, 50 kids singing, laughing, yelling, and their pubescent smells? I have my limits. I happily rode with Andy and our three youngest in the one 15 passenger van that was taken. Two very lucky (actually quite smart) boys chose to separate from the group and ride with us. They both laughed at the poor other 48 souls sweating in the school bus while they enjoyed their snacks in the peaceful, quiet, and air-conditioned van. Brilliant!

The location of the camp was beautiful and all went well, minus Charlie chipping two teeth in an unfortunate carpet ball accident. Who knew the danger of carpet ball? His top tooth is fixed up nicely and the bottom will be soon. You can’t even tell. His injury was minor compared to another tooth/jaw injury on a poor kid last summer. It’s kind of becoming a thing…well let’s hope not.

Josie and her friends, Olivia & Olivia
Judah likes to be organized at camp
Coleman found a friend
The damage

A short get away

We had the chance to go away for a few days with my in-laws. The trip had started off being planned one way, then another, and then we ended up at a resort in Cle Elum, WA. The setting was beautiful, the accommodations were amazing and it had two water slides so enough said.

Though this small vacation did not end up being what it was originally supposed to be, it ended up just right. We stayed in a condo that fit our family perfectly. We were able to cook meals together, swim, relax and watch Mcgyver. What could be better?

This quick trip was just what we needed before the chaos of weddings, last minute summer plans with friends, and back to school preparations. The only thing missing was Sarah and Edmund to complete the family fun. Next time…

The bunk beds, one of the highlights for the kids.

Coleman was hoping to find a frog, mission accomplished.

We made the long hike down to the river; Charles & Andy

Amazing view

My favorites


Charlie & Ben 2003

In June our dearest friends’ son, Ben Finley, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Many times I’ve thought about this post wondering just how I could put something like this into words. How do I begin to describe the emotion, fear, and sadness that entered my heart as I heard my dear friend Vicki crying through the phone telling me the doctors feared it was “not good news…possible lymphoma”. I wanted to jump through that phone and hug her, cry with her, just do anything, anything at all to help carry her burden and sadness.

Later that afternoon I waited to meet them at the hospital, nervous for that moment of looking into their eyes, wondering what in the world I could possibly say to bring them comfort. When Craig, Vicki, Ben and Jonathan (his brother) walked out of the elevator, and hugs were exchanged I stood before the bravest family I have known. Ben smiled slightly through his pain and said, “So I guess I have cancer. Crazy, huh?!”

So many amazing things have happened through this diagnosis, for the Finley’s and many others near and far. Too many things to write here. But I have had the privilege to be near them, support them in whatever ways I can, but most of all, watch them navigate life through this storm. There have been moments when the waves were high and looked as if they might destroy them. And yet there have been moments of calm and peace in the midst of pain and suffering.

Ben’s diagnosis has not destroyed this family, not even close. As I watch him go through chemotherapy and all the ugliness that comes with it, I have witnessed something so much stronger than any disease. Their strength comes from the God they serve, the One who gives each of us breath and the One who holds each of our lives in His hands. And so they choose to thank Him instead of raising a fist of rage and demanding answers to such affliction. They have accepted this from day one and asked God to use it to teach and refine.

As many of us know, it is through true suffering that we become completely dependent on God and that is when we can have a deeper understanding of who He is and His love for us. It is painful. I have not had to agonize watching my child be in such pain and face such difficulty and all the ugliness that cancer brings. I pray I never have to.

After observing these last two months all that Ben and his family has gone through, I have never seen despair. Sadness? Yes. Pain? Yes. Hope? Absolutely. Hope that all the medical intervention will do it’s job and rid Ben’s body of this cancer. But even more, hope that God is using this in Ben’s life, their lives and many others for good. I’ve already seen it. And anyone who has read Vicki’s email updates and her list of things to be thankful for will see the same thing. Hope.

Before shaved heads

What’s going on here?

I just did something that happens maybe once every few years. I woke up at 6:15am without an alarm and actually dragged my body out of bed. I’m not sure of all the details that took place to make it happen, but here I sit, drinking coffee, writing, listening to…what’s that?…oh yes, quiet. Quiet is a sound I am not accustomed to in this house.

Andy’s off to an early meeting, kids all still sleeping, sun shining brightly, birds chirping…it’s pretty much the beginning of a Disney movie around here (minus the six loads of laundry staring me down). Don’t look at it, enjoy this moment. 

So this is what life is like in the early hours…who knew?

Grandma’s 80th in Vegas!

In the spirit of keeping these posts out of order, I take you back to mid-June. My grandma turned 80 and had a big birthday party which not only celebrated her, but was a reunion of family, some of which I had never met before. Andy and the kids stayed home this trip and I flew with my brother, Jason.

I was so happy to see some cousins I hadn’t seen in 20 years and, like I said, one cousin I had never met. It was a great time of catching up, sharing pictures and memories, honoring my grandma, and of course, singing and dancing. Almost all of my siblings were there, minus the rock star.

Jason and I were the only ones without our kids so we talked all weekend about our plans to live it up, Vegas-style. We followed through by spending one night on the strip which included watching the fountains at the Bellagio, staying up til midnight, and not spending one penny gambling. We were wild.

Jeremy, Mom and me
Roomies for the weekend
Evangeline, Natalie, Jeremy and me
In front of the Bellagio
Little Evangeline in awe of the fountain
Ed & Mary Coyle

All the way from Utah

We had another visit from more family, keeping the tradition
of yearly summer visits. Jeremy, Natalie, and Evangeline arrived shortly after
school was out. Last year when they were in town Evangeline was just a baby.
This year she walked around talking like a three year old, even though she
hasn’t hit two yet. I like to think she’s a genius. She will repeat any word,
no matter how challenging. She is the cutest!
This go around we decided it would be a fun idea to take a
trip to Pike Place Market in Seattle. That’s right, walking through the market
with 8 kids, 3 of them screaming and a few wanting to stop at every stand to
peruse the beautifully painted rocks that were “only $6!” sounded like a fun
idea at the time, if you enjoy that sort of chaos.
Overall, Jeremy, Natalie, and Evangeline’s trip was great. I
think the kids’ favorite part was the photo we insisted on taking with all of
them piled on the pig in front of the fish market. And here’s the photo to
prove it…

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