Cousin Camp Week

3:16 PM

Back row: Rand-dad & DD
Front Row (L-R): Sawyer, August, Brooklyn, Avery & Merrick
Wearing Cousin Camp shirts designed by my talented husband, Kyle!
This year, a tradition was born. The 1st Annual Cousin Camp came to fruition this week.
(Technically, Wednesday - Saturday).  There are currently 17 cousins if I'm not mistaken, many of whom are far too young to leave the nest for an overnighter, so the Camp Directors (my parents) said Cousin Camp attendees had to be 5 or older.  The above picture shows the eligible (and extremely excited) cousins as my parents came to pick them all up!

My parents put a ton of thought and preparation into this Camp, beginning with a series of letters they delivered to each child a few weeks before departure day.  Clue letters, actually.  They served to get the kids excited about Cousin Camp, prepare them for what they would be doing, give them clues about the main topic of the Camp, and help the kids know what to pack for the week.

Seven letters in all, brightly colored and bearing the names of each child, magically appeared in our mailbox. The first letter offered a clue to help the kids identify the person they'd be studying this week. They were told that God had given this man a job. My kids took this clue and then sat down with their Bibles and identified every person they could find who had been given a job by God.

As subsequent clues came, they narrowed it down to the right person:

That's August's little note above. He put it on his door. 

The clue that gave it away for them: "He disobeyed God."
It took them only 2 letters to figure it out, but they looked forward to each letter with great excitement. The last letter included a list of what they should pack for Cousin Camp, and as soon as they read it, they each raced upstairs to begin their packing.
August, my little organized man, pulled out the suitcase from the attic, got his clothes all situated and laid everything in front of the open suitcase in neat little piles, so I could double check him before putting it all in. It melts my heart, it truly does. One of those overflowing cup moments a mother gets to cherish. 
Suited up to go horse back riding!
Periodically over the days they were gone, my mom and dad would send text messages to us parents. A video here or there (singing songs about Jonah that my mom had taught them), pictures, etc. We were not really supposed to call them, which did NOT sit well with me, to say the least. This was the first time my kids have ever been away from me for more than one night, and I know my kids well enough to know they would not have been upset by a phone call. I was pretty mad when my mom sprung that piece of news on me right as she was driving away with my kids, but I managed to comply and settled for texting my kids my goodnight wishes and hugs. 
I was super excited this morning to get a call from Brooklyn! It made all of us very happy, even though they're coming home today!

My kids are actually on their way back from Camp right now, so I have yet to hear all the details of their days, but I do know it was at the Farm.  And there were lots of crafts, projects, games and special activities.  They went swimming (like Jonah). They went fishing (to see if they could catch a whale). They made S'mores (cause Jonah would have wanted a S'more if he'd known what they were). They went horse back riding (just for fun). They made whales out of balloons. They made "fish in the water" desserts (see August in the picture above). They even got to explore the inside of a whale! (It was actually a tent my parents set up inside a house at the Farm, but my kids said it was super awesome). They hiked in the woods (and fought off horse-flies). They rode 4wheelers. And they learned about obeying God when He asks you to do something.

I will fill you in more when I hear the details from my two little campers.
In the meantime, since Dorien was too little to go, we had to make sure our time at home was equally exciting. He called it his "vacation." The funny thing was, although I know he missed Brooklyn and August (because he kept asking when they were coming home), he also thrived in their absence. Kyle likened it to a plant given its own pot that just blossoms. The kid was hilarious. He chattered like a magpie, making Kyle and I laugh out loud at the things he would say. He played with Wyeth in a way that we don't often see when his older siblings are around.  

In the midst of prepping for Cousin Camp this week, I managed to catch a stomach bug that literally felled me like a tree all day Tuesday and most of Wednesday. We went blue berry picking extremely early on Tuesday morning, and mid-picking, I just got sick. I barely made it home (from Lonoke) before losing it. The kids were awesome and put a movie on for themselves as I stumbled up to bed and crashed with Wyeth.  I ended up losing 6 pounds in a 24 hour period, and I felt horrendous. On Wednesday morning when Kyle found me lying on the bathroom floor, unable to get back to bed, he decided to work from home. Good call.  After our kids were taken to Cousin Camp, I was able to sleep more while Kyle worked on his computer and entertained Dorien and Wyeth. 

Kyle took Dorien to the library where they played chess/checkers and got lots of good library books.

 The days went by quickly, and we managed to fit in fun things like taking naps (that may be more fun for me than anyone else...)

Playing turtle with the bean bag, going to the pool and the gym, getting smoothies...

Eating at restaurants, playing with Tagg and Oliver and Aunt Anna...

Cuddling with Singer..

Reading some fantastic library books (hint....check out William Joyce)

And getting haircuts (by yours truly!)

Wyeth and Dorien enjoying some special time together!

Love these boys.

Eagerly awaiting the return of Brooklyn and August!

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