Friday, August 3, 2018

Can we talk about "camp dads"?

Which ones are daughters and which ones are dads? Hard to tell with the hats and dresses but I'm pretty sure the facial hair gives it away! This is the second year that some of these guys have dressed up for the talent show because their girls asked them. Talk about a dedicated group of men.

Guess who? I'd hate to give it away BUT I will tell you there's yellow tape over his nipple because Luca promptly came down the stairs and said "I see your nipple"... nipple covered= problem solved!

Who's this stud? None other than my handsome husband! I about died when I saw him! I came down the stairs to ask him to go with me to take a family picture on the beach... needless to say that didn't happen. He also said he was glad he's not a woman because the dress is itchy. Too bad that's the least of my worries as a woman! Let's give him some boobs, some stretch marks, 9 months pregnant, and some heels and see how he does :) I'm kidding... kind of!
Can we talk about these lovely parents of TRIPLETS? Dad is a military cop. Mom is a badass, homeschooling, military wife with triplets with all different needs. He put the boobs in his dress on his own. I bet Erin is glad he belongs to her :) 

In all seriousness, I meet with these dad's in the parents group. They share intimate details of their lives and challenges they face, fears they face and the way they handle situations that challenge them with their kids. These dads are incredible. I wish I had a picture of ALL of the amazing dads at camp. Idaho camp has some killer dads that are super involved with their children. Another dad comes to mind that has a teen, he's a strong guy who is attempting to instill a strong dose of confidence in his kid. 

These guys are completely incredible. They share moments at camp with each other and the other families. Watching their bonds form stronger each day and each year continues to make me proud to know them all. 

At the end of camp, I'm reminded how blessed I am to have this man by my side. Thirteen years ago, our journey together started, in a car across the country. Thirteen years ago, I had no idea that we would be here today sharing this life together. After less than a year of dating, I knew that I wanted him to be my husband. Today and every day for the rest of my life, I will love this man to the depths of my heart and soul. I'm glad he's on my team to parent our babies. I'm glad I get to share Camp No Limits with him. Here's the thing, some times I take for granted that we have each other. In the last year especially, I'm reminded why we picked each other. Together we can work through anything and come out stronger together. I'm beyond lucky to have such a strong man by my side! 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Day one CNL Idaho!

When Mel said “it’s so rustric” she was SO right! Which is part of what draws us to this location. The little cabins, the rocky beach, the staff at the location, the boat rides, tubing, learning to swim, kayaking, hiking, the deck at Wells, the docks, the arch area… the snakes. Yep, I said it, this year I saw TWO snakes and thought that we might never come back to Camp Cross. I’m kidding, kind of. Snakes are NOT my friends.

You fly into Spokane and then make the trek over to Camp Cross, which is a little over an hour away. We rent a car. It would be a long Uber ride and honestly it just doesn’t seem realistic with the 5 of us and all of our luggage. It's really a pretty drive, so much lush green, mountains, sunshine. I was really soaking it up this time. 
This year we stopped at this little hole in the wall cheesesteak place that we found on my phone. It got great reviews so we opted to give it a shot. It was the best cheesesteak I've ever eaten and this girl loves her cheesesteak! Though with recent changes to my diet, I haven't had one in SO long. Maybe that's another reason I really loved it. Ryan and I both got different ones and loved them. The kids got cold cut sandwiches, lame! However after a long travel day, we started at 330 am, we opted to just let it be. Boy did they miss out! 

The first afternoon at camp is a lot of reuniting with old friends and making new friends. There’s no quicker place to make friends than right at camp! I can’t even explain how quickly friendships are formed or how they build over the years and through miles across the country. This picture is of "old friends" reuniting, or more like, the little girls sucked Keegan into kayaking the minute the waterfront was open!

These strangers become family by the end of the 3 ½ days. You come to know information that may not be shared with others. You hear about their story, the way their child’s limb difference occurred, their feelings behind finding out, the difficult experiences they’ve been through, the accomplishments, the fears, the way others react, how they advocate for their child…. The list goes on. I told my nursing students that I wish they could learn from the way these parents advocate for their children. I'm almost amazed when I leave camp at how sad I am to say good-bye. The photo below is new friends that were made instantly!

Due to our travel, we arrived right before waterfront activities. Lots of bonding occurs on that rocky shore, among kids, among adults, among volunteers and families... it's endless, honestly. Watching the kids go from barely knowing some of the campers to swimming together, jumping in the water holding hands, kayaking, canoeing, building rock forms and this year painting rocks!
I didn't get many pictures of "Rubber Pig Baseball" but I did happen to grab a couple. I'm not sure why it's called rubber pig baseball considering I only ever saw a rubber chicken! Either way, it was a blast.Fun was had by all! 

 We finished the night with S'mores by the campfire. The fire happens RIGHT on the rocky shore overlooking the water. It's so relaxing and refreshing.

I think everyone really likes the S'Mores considering my kids
kept asking if they could have more! The great thing is that we all come together again and teamwork makes the dream work. The volunteers, teens and adults just  all pitch in to help with all of the kids. It literally is a village of people that cares about you and your family. There's not a better reminder than the first day back at Camp No Limits!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Our people

How do you sum up a life-changing four-day event? I’m not sure there are even words that can fully describe the emotions that I feel. Every year we leave Camp No Limits with new friends and closer bonds to our old friends. Who knew it was possible to love people after only knowing them for four short days?  I can tell you that I know, I’ve experienced it, year after year when we attend CNL. It’s life-changing each and every time.

This was our second year at Camp No Limits Idaho. The location is breath taking. Those of you who have read about it before on the blog already know. Those of you who haven’t, let me share again. You arrive to a dock on the lake. You unload your stuff onto a boat and then take a short boat ride across the lake where you stay for the next four days. It’s rustic and perfect.

To be honest, I could spend anywhere with these people. We’ve been to Florida Camp No Limits, Maine Camp No Limits and Idaho Camp No Limits… there’s many other locations that we haven’t even explored. It’s not about the location. It’s about the people.  These people are unlike any others that you’ll meet. You go from complete strangers to know some very intimate details of their lives in such a short time. Dawson (one of the teen campers) hit the nail on the head when he said “these are my people”.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to share some highlights of our trip and OUR PEOPLE!

Friday, June 15, 2018

CAMP NO LIMITS all booked!

This picture was taken just last weekend while we were camping. Bella and I were walking around the camp ground just the girls. Dirty from camping all weekend, hiking, biking and exploring... BUT living our best life, in nature, with the ones we love.

Camping is one of our favorite things to do in the spring, summer and fall. It means disconnecting from life, phones, electronics. It means building bonds and making memories. That's what summer vacation is all about in my eyes.

Summer last year meant exploring Camp No Limits Idaho for the first time. We've explored others but we fell deeply in love with Idaho, the people, the location, the rustic cabins. Don't get me wrong, we LOVE Camp No Limits and every single location we've attended. Idaho camp just felt like we had found our home. While I totally realize that it's NOT a location for everyone, it was the prime location for us. It's rustic, like really rustic. We were "warned" if you will by other families and staff and I swore it was right up our alley. We got some side eyes and some laughs. Really though, it was. I barely got cell service, yay me! I was able to really focus on connecting with my kids, the other families there. One of my favorite pictures is a picture of a sibling at camp that's slathered in sunscreen that's not fully rubbed in. It was the first camp that we left that Bella cried, like body shaking cries.

We saw old friends and we made plenty of new friends. We literally can't wait to go back. We are counting down! Tickets were purchased, application was accepted... now to book a car rental and we are good to go! A little over a month to go, but who's counting? Oh that's right WE ARE!!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Stand up for yourself

A couple of weeks ago we had a bus incident. I debated sharing or not but here I am typing so I've decided to share. I'm sharing Bella's side of the story because that's what I know. I also know that we've had a history with this child so that plays into my mind as well.

Bella got off the bus in hysterics. Her face was beat red and her eyes were bright red. The driver motioned for me to come closer so I did. 

"She got smacked by a kid at school while we were still at school and the principal came out. The child isn't on the bus but she's clearly upset. Has the school called you?"

"No the school hasn't called" I said as I tightly wrapped my arms around my daughter. 

"Do you know who it was?"

Bella interrupted and said "Benny T (name changed to protect privacy) did it"

"Thanks for letting me know" I said to the driver. 

"What happened Boo?" I said as I was walking back to the house. 

"Can we talk in private?"

So we got home and we went right into the bedroom to chat. She explained that the child did something sexually inappropriate on the bus in the morning and her and another child reported the behavior to the teachers. When she got on the bus that afternoon the child was angry and said he "knew that she told". Whether he actually knew or not, who knows and it doesn't matter. He proceeded to "tap" her on the face then open handed smack her. The principal was called and apparently according to the kids on the bus it was a disaster to get the kid off the bus. His parents were notified. I called the school IMMEDIATELY. The VP was meeting with the other parents so I had to leave a message. To say I was fuming was an understatement. 

While waiting I talked to my kids about self-defense and what we view as "good self-defense" in our house... while it may not be okay with everyone else, here is what I believe. If someone puts their hands on my child inappropriately, my child has every right to punch, kick, pinch, bite, hit to keep themselves safe. While you might not all agree with that, that's my thought... We can agree to disagree. I'm all about you doing you and I'll do me. For me, keeping my kids safe is a high priority and this is one way I encourage them to protect themselves.

The VP called back shortly after. Our school has a "We can't discuss the consequences for other kids policy"... which I think is complete crap. It involved MY child and I feel like I have the right to know what the consequence is. I may think it's fair or not but I do think that I have the right to know, just like if my child did something, the other parent has the right to know the consequence. Yes, I understand FERPA and no I'm not asking for NAMES from the school. I've even asked "What happens if MY child did that, what would the consequence be?" and was told they'd discuss that if it happened... well out of my control so I opted to do what I could control... which isn't much.

Here's what I asked for: I asked for my child to be moved on the bus so that she was no longer sitting across from this child any longer. That was granted the next time they were both on the bus. It was a stretch but I also asked for them not to be in the same class for next year, as we've had multiple incidents with this child this year... we'll see if that's granted. I don't think that my requests were out of line.

What do you do to teach your kids to stand up for themselves? Are there books you've read with them? How do you teach them to avoid kids that are constantly causing problems? A big issue at our house is that Bella thinks she can "help others learn to be nice"... we've talked about this but she still wants to try. I value that she's a strong, stubborn kid and wants the world to be a better place. I want to protect and cherish that her heart is not hard to the world. But there's a part of me that wants to help her realize that we can't change others... I'd love to hear your suggestions or words or wisdom! This parenting thing is no joke! 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

"Did you date other guys...."

Bella hopped in bed with me this morning and said "Did you date other guys before you married daddy?"

My eyes were BARELY cracked open, like my alarm had JUST went off. Where does this kid come up with such things?

"Yes I dated other guys before I married daddy. It helps you decide what you can put up with for the rest of your life" We both laughed, though it's kind of true!

"That's how you figure out what you want for the rest of your whole life, you date people and decide what you like and don't like. Someday, you find the guy that you love most everything about."

"Why did you pick daddy?"

Okay let's be real, my brain wasn't even awake yet... my eyes were still BARELY open! Why was this child asking deep questions at 6:30 am and where does she decide she wants to know the answer to this question. Where did this come up before?

"Really, why did you pick him?"

Okay that might not be his best angle :)

"For lots of reasons, he's kind and thoughtful. He's funny and fun to be around. He likes adventures. He's supportive of me and the things I love and makes me happy. I knew he'd make a great dad too, was I right?"

"Yeah you were right" and we both smiled. 

"He's actually a LOT like Papa John too. Someday I hope you marry a guy as great as your daddy."

"Well girls can ask boys to marry them right because I'm not waiting forever. Like when I'm 27, I'm asking the guy if we've been dating awhile. I'll get a ring or something."

"You can do whatever you want! If that's what you want to do then you can."

"Yeah and you and Dad will be old like Tutu then." Thanks for the reminder kid!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Limb difference facts

The cost for an upper limb prosthetic varies by vendor and your insurance coverage. According to my research, they can cost 3,000-90,000. Bella's cost about 8,000.

Can we talk about "camp dads"?

Which ones are daughters and which ones are dads? Hard to tell with the hats and dresses but I'm pretty sure the facial hair gives it ...