About Us, Family Fun

July Adventures!

Oh, wow! Where did July go? It has been a busy, fun month for us, with all that we could ever hope for summer to include. As I am getting ready for the back-to-school professional development next week, I thought I would take a break and update y’all on our adventures!

The Fourth (and Our First Time Hosting Since the Plague!)

When we first got married, we lived on a lake. We spent our time hanging out with two other couples, and on the fourth of July, we always invited them over to watch fireworks on the boat with us.

Yes, that is the lake that no longer exists, since the earth dam broke last spring.

The problem is that one couple is not in the picture, which is okay, because they have moved to Texas as well and we took a picture of them this year on the fourth!

We found a good anchorage on the bay and grilled up our dinner. Then this interesting-looking barge anchored disconcertingly close to us…

We realized that they would be shooting the fireworks from that barge. We wanted a front row seat, but we didn’t want to be so close that we had to worry about a hole being burned into to top of our boat! We moved back a little bit, and still got to be right underneath the fireworks.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening!

Summer Camp!

Two days after the fourth, it was time for Iliana and me to take a road trip. Our destination? Camp Blessing Texas!

Ili made a grand entrance, with all the staff cheering for her!

At camp, Ili met Baily, her high school buddy who hung out with her all week, and the two of them went to the cabin to get settled in.

While Ili was away on her adventure, the camp posted daily pictures, so we could follow along!

Days 1 and 2

Days 3 and 4

And then it was time to pick her up! Ili had a great time, and made a lot of friends.

Camp Blessing is located in the same town as Camp for All, so of course we had to stop at Freezy Frenzy on the way home! This time, Iliana drew a picture to put on their wall.

20 Years!

While Iliana was at camp, Rob and I had our own adventure. You see, 20 years ago, on July 7, 2021, this happened:

I decided to begin our celebration with a cake!

Rob approved…

Since Rob had the next two days off, we left early in the morning for an adventure in San Antonio. We got permission to park at our Air BNB early, so that we could explore the town on bikes. We started with tacos for lunch…

…And had lots of fun exploring the River Walk!

We then enjoyed our stay in a beautiful apartment in a cute neighborhood on the Riverwalk.

The next day we arrived at home in time for a beautiful sunset!

Iliana Stays Busy!

Once we got home, Iliana realized that she loves spending time at the marina, and she has been exploring the water in her new kayak.

She also has been having fun with black-and-white film photography. Stay tuned for some of her prints, once she finishes her roll of film!

And tonight she joined us on a bike ride to the food park in Clear Lake Shores. We ate at Okies, which, hands-down, has the best Shirley Temples in town! (I’ve introduced Ili to the joy of the Shirley T!)

And yes, Rob rode his penny farthing, but you will have to wait for Ili’s prints to see that!

Back to School

Not long after our return from San Antonio, I had my first meeting regarding our return to school. I am one of the special education department leads starting this year, so I will be helping to lead a training starting on Monday, and from there on it’s back to career-woman-mode for me! I will still update y’all on my adventures and thoughts, but it will probably only be once or twice a month. I will also aim to check in with everyone else’s blogs that frequently as well.

I hope everyone has had a fun, “normal” summer!

Family Fun

Yes, We Are Still Alive!

Happy weekend, everyone!

I know it has been two weeks since we last checked in. The end of the school year is always crazy, and the pandemic has added extra craziness this year.

Oh, and Ili and I went to camp last weekend!

This was our first time returning to camp since the beginning of the pandemic. Things were definitely different, but it was fun to be back!

As always, our adventure began with the bonfire. We had to socially distance, but there were s’mores involved!

Because of Covid, each family had their own cabin. Ili and I chose bunkbeds on opposite sides, and we made the most of our space!

In the morning, we had (socially distanced) energizers, and then we got to meet our group.

And guess which activity Ili and I got to do first…

Thanks to yoga, I scaled the rock wall in record time. My hip range of motion has definitely increased–noticeably!

After the rock wall and zip line, it was time for the giant swing. This was new at Camp Be An Angel, but it had been one of Iliana’s favorite activities at summer camp two years ago.

And, of course, I took a turn as well!

After we recovered, Ili surprised me by knowing how to steer a canoe.

Fishing was next, and Iliana persisted in spite of the bait-stealing turtles. She caught fish after fish, and was the last to leave when it was time for lunch.

Lunch was a time for Ili to draw and relax. Due to social distancing, each family had their own table in the dining hall.

After lunch, it was time for horseback riding! Much to my surprise, I could move my leg the right way to dismount correctly. More yoga magic, I suppose!

Then it was time to see the barnyard animals. Unfortunately, Dali the Llama is now “retired.” (I suspect he is taking selfies in the big farm in the sky.)

After that it was time for some disc golf.

We definitely worked up an appetite by the time we arrived at the dining hall!

Previous years, we have gone swimming Saturday evening, or if the weather was too cold, we would have a dance. This year, they told us to gather in the dining hall to get ready for an activity.

This activity involved having each family carry one glow stick to the “Star Place” on the opposite side of the camp. The staff would be walking around with flash lights, and if they shined one on us, we had to freeze. If we moved or talked, they would take our glow stick and we would have to go back to the dining hall to get a new one. The game was surprisingly a lot of fun! And Ili and I made it on the first try.

Morning brought us breakfast and our picture from the day before. I bought us matching Camp for All shirts (and a coffee mug) from the camp store.

Previously, Sunday was a very low-key day at camp. We would have free time in the morning, with an optional church service, followed by the talent show.

This year, however, the day was filled with even more activities! We began our day with arts and crafts.

Ili and I always went to the “Tree House” during our free time on Sunday, and this year we had just enough time between arts and crafts and the next activity. Feeling too cool for this tradition, my 13-year-old reluctantly indulged my nostalgia.

After that, it was time to visit the reptiles and go on a nature walk/scavenger hunt.

Our walk ended at the archery range! With the smaller groups, Iliana and I both got some individualized help from the staff. By the end of our time there, we were both hitting the target consistently. We felt like Katniss Everdeen!

Ili was not excited when they sang the tear-jerking song at lunch (they have replaced “The World’s Greatest” with an equally tear-jerking song!), but she was happy to stop at Freezy Frenzy on the way home. Clearly, she does not share her mother’s enthusiasm for taking selfies, however.

So that was our adventure! We were both a bit wiped out after the busy weekend, and Iliana developed a fever and aches for a day and had to stay home from school on Monday. However, it was completely worth it.

We are now looking forward to more adventures! Iliana will turn 14 the day after school gets out, and we will need to celebrate. June will bring a camping trip with my parents, as well as a visit to Elijah’s Retreat. In July, Iliana will spend a week at Camp Blessing. And I plan to order my new lipstick for the fourth of July!

P.S. Rob and I finally ate at a restaurant tonight! Like indoors, at a table. It was crowded, with music and craziness. Normalcy approaches…

Family Fun

The World’s Greatest

When I was teaching full-time, one of my colleagues approached me while we were waiting for the buses to arrive.  “We just listened to a man speak, from Be An Angel,” he told me, referring to the professional development he had attended the day before.  “You have got to look them up.  I think they have a camp that your daughter would be able to go to.”

Always curious about new activities for Iliana, I did look them up that night.  I filled out an application, and, sure enough, she did qualify for their weekend family camp.  So in February, 2016, we made a mother-daughter road trip to Camp For All, near Brenham, Texas.

…And had such a great time, that we made the trip once again in September….

…And three more times.  We didn’t even let Harvey stop us (camp was two weeks after)!

This September was our sixth time attending camp, and it was as wonderful as the past five!

Camp Be An Angel is a family camp for children and teenagers with disabilities and their families.  The camp is free for the families who are selected to attend, and a parent must attend with their child.  The camp is run by Be An Angel, a charity run out of Houston, that also provides services and equipment for children with profound deafness and multiple disabilities.

The camp is held at Camp for All, a barrier-free camp in Burton, Texas.  Both the Camp for All staff and the Be An Angel volunteers facilitate the activities during the weekend.

So here is the story of our latest Camp Be An Angel adventure!

Friday: Early Arrival!

When I was working full time, we always arrived after dinner on Friday.  This year, since I was not yet working at all, I picked Iliana up from school early, and we made it there right before dinner!

The first order of business, was getting settled into our cabin.  There are usually two families per cabin, although once there were three in ours.  Our cabin-mates are usually in the same group as us, and we spend a lot of time together during the weekend.

We were the first to arrive at our cabin, so we found a set of bunk beds and got settled in!  (In order to be accessible, most of the beds in the cabins are not bunk beds).  And yes, that is a yoga book on my nightstand!

Pleased with our work, Iliana was ready to play in the dining hall, which is one of her favorites pasttimes at camp.

And then it was time for the bonfire!

Iiana was very happy to see her beauty pageant buddy, Madison, with her new service dog.

And they sang my favorite camp song, “500 Miles.”

Saturday: Very Busy Having Fun!

We always sleep well at camp, and morning meant breakfast, followed by–of course–dancing!

We saw our friend, Myra, who has been at camp with us all 6 times!

And happily, our cabin-mate was Kimberly, who shared a cabin with us last time as well!

Our day began with horseback riding, which meant that was got a hayride to the barn…

Catching up with some old friends!

Iliana was very happy that some of her friends from previous camps, were in our group.

Everybody can do everything at camp, and they are equipped to make sure that the kids with wheelchairs are able to do any of the activities that they choose to do.  So everybody rode horses!

Then it was off to the barn, to spend time with the animals!

Dali Llama is a very special animal in the barn, because he loves selfies!  Ili and I aren’t that skilled though, so we have someone else take our picture with him.

Here is September, 2016…

April 2017….

September 2017…

April 2018, but a goat was standing in for him!

And here is our latest portrait with Dali!

After the barn, it was time for canoing…

Then everybody caught a lot of fish!

Then it was time to visit the nature cabin…

And everybody had fun in archery!

Iliana always enjoys photography…

And arts and crafts!

It had been a rainy week, but we were lucky to have good weather at camp.  But Iliana got worried when it started raining right before her favorite activity, the zip line.  Luckily, they had an indoor contingency plan.  I had no idea that Iliana could Hulu Hoop!

Time to suit up!

Some kids climbed the rock wall while they were waiting.

Travis, who uses a wheelchair, went around the course first!

Then it was Iliana’s turn!

Zip line time!

In the dining hall, Iliana recounted her adventures and played with her friends…

And we got our very cute picture!

So after all that, it was time for bed, right?

Wrong!

Sunday: Still More Fun to Be Had!

Sunday morning meant picture time with our cabin-mates!

And, of course, more dancing.

Sunday’s singing and dancing always ends with the song “The World’s Greatest,” which always has the effect of making me cry.  Here is a video from September, 2016:

After breakfast, there is an optional chapel service.  And Iliana and I have our own tradition–a walk to the Tree House.

And then, the main event:  the camp talent show!

Iliana sang “Champion” by Carrie Underwood.

Then it was time to return to the dining hall one last time, where Mr. Russ, the camp director, said “Good-bye” to everyone.

 

The end of camp is always bittersweet, but we will be back in the spring!  And Iliana and I have one more tradition, on the drive home…

We always stop at Freezy Frenzy for Thai rolled ice cream!

It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend!