We recently went on an overnight campout and were joined by some of our married children. I actually set the trip up with Joey since he and Jamie wanted to take a practice run in the tent before embarking on a cross country camping trip with their five-month-old twins. I love how they're pressing on and embracing life and their love of travel and togetherness with their babies--not in spite of them. The loving, contented look on Jamie's face says it all. They just love to be together and work so well as a team.
I still had to give Joey a bit of a hard time about the validity of a one night trial run in preparation for a 2-week trip, but I was glad for any excuse to spend time with my family and play with Carson and Keira--who are getting big enough to call it "play" and not just "hold".
We also thought we might get to see the newest grandchild; but, as you can see, Ellen was still 'in waiting'. She and Daniel and the Kleven clan joined us for the evening and campfire time.
This picture was taken almost exactly 100 hours before Karissa was born.
Bryce, one of the marshmallow roasters. If you have a fire, marshmallows, and sticks you can keep kids from about ages 6-13 happy for many hours.
It was really nice to have a family that was mostly old enough to play on their own and not have to be watched and entertained every second (except Gabe, of course, but I had help). It's also nice to have children who are now at the place of being about to just sit around and relax with us.
Gabe loving Keira.
Keira not really loving the love.
Carson was faring better with Uncle Troy.
I love how our teenage children have had the opportunity to grow up surrounded by children of all ages. They know the irritating ages and the trials but also the joy and the fun. Teenagers tend to be fairly intolerant of the marshmallow-roasting-age, but it's good to be reminded of what we once were. I love having so many examples and analogies to remind them of where they've come from and how patient some of us had to be with them. It's a good spiritual reminder, too, to remember what lessons we've learned and to remember what we acted and thought like before we learned them!
Saturday was very warm and sunny and we spent the day at the lake, swimming, picnicking, fishing, playing in the park, and lounging in the shade.
Someone asked us what we were doing coming south to camp when they head up north where our lakes and air are clearer. We picked a central spot to meet up with J&J and allow E&D to take part. The disadvantage was the seaweed filled lake. However, it didn't stop these three from finding new ways to make their own fun.
Carson being cute
Keira napping in the shade
Camping, picnic, and watermelon--Gabe LOVED the freedom to slurp, drip, drool, and eat all he wanted.
Tandem swinging, check out the shadow.
With the aunts
Dana and Carson
Priscilla and Keira
Chet has probably been the most misunderstood of our children. Filled and overfilled with self-confidence and a lack of concern about what others think of him, coupled with an open, honest, no-holds-barred take on life Chet has come across to others in some rather misconstrued ways. Being a college football defensive player just adds to the stereotypes. People are usually surprised to find out that he plays the piano, sings, and writes song. He's always been tender-hearted and loving, but I think Gabe brought that out of him more than anything. Chet turned 17 a week after Gabe was born. During that tough-guy-image time of life Gabe came in with all of his helplessness and need for protection and Chet's big heart rose up to protect and defend him. There's still a bond between these two.
I think as much as anything a mother's heart is warmed by seeing her children love one another. When they can focus on what they enjoy together and patiently overlook the annoyances it gives everyone pleasure being together. I often (and I mean it, OFTEN) think of this in relation to our spiritual brothers and sisters. I suppose that it also brings our Father great joy to see us loving those that He loves, glossing over the weaknesses and highlighting the strengths. I just don't think the Bible would use so many family terms to relate to one another if that wasn't so.