No Laughing Matter

You know those moments when you just have to laugh? Like there’s no option but to accept what you’ve been given and just laugh about it. 
That’s exactly what happened when they were doing role call for the teachers at camp. I was sitting back, minding my own business, when I heard my name being called. I said, I’m here but I’m not teaching. To which they replied, yes, you are, we assigned you a class. I guess I’m teaching then… So, of course, my next obvious question: what age am I teaching? First and second grade. I laughed. I literally laughed out loud, in the middle of the meeting. Then, I proceeded to ask the girl next to me what book of the Bible the lessons were supposed to come out of. This week is quickly becoming a joke. And I think I’m the only one laughing. 

Two of my first graders on bathroom break

At this same meeting, they were talking about kitchen duty. In my mind, I’m thinking, we have 13 kids and 9 of them have never been to camp before, so we’re not going to volunteer our group for kitchen duty. Lo and behold, they announce everyone is signed up and we’ve already been assigned a time. What did we get? Breakfast duty. On what day? Wednesday, which also happens to be my birthday. Happy birthday to me! 

I don’t pick a top bunk for a reason. I don’t want to climb up there all the time or make the bed, it’s just a mess. You know what bunks 8 year olds pick? Top bunks. 10 seconds after we’ve chosen beds, I hear: Brittney! Can you help me make my bed?! So guess what I get to do? Climb around on everyone’s beds and help them get their fitted sheets on. Exactly what I was trying to avoid. 

[*please note Gracie with the Hello Kitty painted face. Yes, I let her go to sleep like that. Sad to say, but I was too tired to fight that battle.]

I guess I didn’t really figure out all the facts before camp. See, it never really occurred to me that I was taking so many young kids. I had 4 girls that were under the age of 8. This fact didn’t dawn on me until I got to camp and realized that I was going to have to make sure these girls went to bed and make sure that they woke up and got dressed in the morning and got fed. You know, all those little details never really mattered until I looked around at the room full of little girls I was standing in. We all know how well I do with being on time when I’m by myself. Add me being responsible for other little lives into that and late becomes an understatement. 

I’ve never felt called to work with kids. I told someone at camp that and they laughed at me. It could’ve been because at the time I said that, I had three children hanging on me like their lives depended on it. But atleast, finally, someone else is laughing. I’m just not sure if they’re laughing with me or at me. I’ll just take what I can get at this point. 

America, Funny, Religion, Summer

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Why are there animal crackers in my bed? I shouldn’t even have to ask this question. Are they mine? No. Apparently we operate on a what’s mine is yours mentality around here and that goes for my bed. And everything else I brought. I don’t know why my bunk is the chosen cool spot for all the eight year olds to hang out but I think we need to change that.
Cool Kids

Cool Kids

So, let me just give you a glimpse of what my day has been like. I had to wake 9 little girls up at 6:30 in the morning and get them to breakfast by 7:15. It was pouring down rain. Everyone wants to hold my hand. I have a rain jacket (which I am wearing) and no umbrella. We have a ten minute walk in aforementioned rain. By the time we get there, everyone is soaked. We sit down for breakfast and one of our little boys taps me on the shoulder to tell me he spilled his cereal and milk, which turned out to be all over the floor of the cafeteria. I tell him to go get napkins and he brings back four, which is not going to come close to cleaning it all up. We finally get everyone cleaned up and fed. As we’re walking back to our cabin to make our beds, our littlest girl comes up carrying one of her sandals and tells me it’s broken. I told her to put on another pair. To which she replied, these are the only shoes I brought. So, I walk into the cabin to figure out what other little girls have shoes (preferably dry, but at this point I’m not planning on being picky) she could borrow. And I’m greeted at the door by one of our older girls, telling me that someone left a Popsicle in the refrigerator instead of the freezer and it melted everywhere. To which my only response was: what color was it?
Camp, I gotta love ya!
America, Culture, Family, Religion

Ready or Not

I’m packing up for church camp and I feel like I should be calling all my friends and deciding who’s bunking with who and what we’re all wearing and what cute boys will be there. But instead, I’m trying to figure out if I have everyone’s forms and if I called in the right numbers so that all the kids have beds and if anyone has any weird medical conditions that I need to be aware of. And I’m wondering, when did I become an adult in this situation?  My aunt (pictured with me below) took us all to camp for years and it was so much fun. I started going the year I turned 9 and some of my best summer memories have been made there. And, so now I take kids to the same camp I went to, so they can have those same memories. Actually, if we want to get down to the facts, I never stopped going. I turned 9 my first year I went and I’m turning 24 this week. So, I think that’s 15 years (someone might want to check my math). My birthday always falls during camp week too, which is an added bonus. And, I forgot to mention that Sherri and I share a birthday, so this is us on our birthday last year at camp.     Not only am I taking our kids to camp, but I have been appointed as the activities director for our week. I don’t know if I look active, but let me say this now: there is nothing about me that qualifies me for this position. I’m not super athletic or graceful or even that well organized. What happened was that I was supposed to be helping with activities a few years ago and then the lead position fell to me. And they keep asking me to do it again. I don’t know how to ref basketball games or set up brackets, but they have me running the basketball tournaments. I don’t know how to play or score tether ball, but why not appoint me to manage a tetherball tournament? I don’t know anything about horseshoes, but throw in a horseshoe tournament. You get the picture. One thing I am good at: delegating. Which is the only reason why I manage to handle any of this.  Church camp is fun. It’s completely exhausting, running on a little sleep and a lot of coffee, early mornings and afternoon meltdowns. More than that though, it is one time in my life that I can point to that helped me begin to discover who I was. Not only who I was as a person, but who I was in Christ, my spiritual identity. Because of Him, I am loved. I am blameless. I am free from sin and guilt and shame. His mercy and grace make me new. I want to share that experience with these girls. I want them to begin their journey here.

Craft, Dessert, Farm, Food

I Think I Can…

There is nothing like homemade bread. Nothing. I have been craving it for days. Mostly because I just finished reading a book about the Russian autocracy and it mentioned bread quite a bit. So, next on my list to bake: Russian black bread. I’ll let ya know how that goes. The thing about baking bread is it’s a process. This one is a 12 hour process, with all the rising and such that has to take place. So, you can’t just have it when you want it. You have to plan for it. Which probably makes it taste that much better. This is one of my classics: maple oat bread. I found the recipe in the Spring and I think I’ve made it a dozen times since then. It’s so good!

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You know what goes great on bread? Homemade jam. Which I made a few weeks ago for the very first time. Out of mulberries I picked. How much more down home do you get than that?

Fresh picked mulberries

Fresh picked mulberries

I have always wanted to try my hand at canning, so I got up the nerve and finally did it. We were going to visit our friends while in Canada, so I thought mulberry jam seemed like an appropriate gift. TSA agreed with me after they checked all my carefully bubble wrapped jars. After they went through it, they probably thought it was a grandma’s bag. But, nope, just me, a twenty something girl, hauling jam across international borders.

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If you’re going to make jam, you need to have a bunch of sugar. Like so much sugar that it literally made me feel a little anxious. I never use that much sugar for anything. Plus, I had just watched a documentary on the decay of America’s eating habits and how sugar is to blame for that. So, expert tip: don’t watch a sugar doc right before making jam.

Also to make jam, you need a whole bunch of fancy utensils that you can dirty up. Just go ahead and take out half the dishes you have and plan to get a sticky purple mess all over them. The instructions said I would need a special pot that had a basket for the jars to go in. You fill the pot up with boiling water, then completely submerge your jars in a few different steps. Well, I didn’t have the fancy pot or a mason jar basket. So, I improvised and used a steamer basket, the spaghetti noodle pot, and a pair of tongs. Was it the most practical? No. Did two pairs of tongs get hung up in the steamer basket at the same time and nearly spill boiling water everywhere? Yes. Did it work even though it wasn’t the fancy set up I should have had? Yes.

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After making the jam, I had a little leftover, so I made a jar and didn’t seal it. Since I needed an expert opinion on whether or not the jam was good, I asked a friend to take the extra jar home and test it out. Turns out the cup holders in my car fits a jam jar perfectly. And I got his seal of approval. Pun definitely intended.

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Have jam. Will travel.

America, Animals, Farm, Religion

Zoo Crew

Everyone keeps asking me if I have a turtle. And by everyone, I really mean all the little kids I know. There’s a festival in a neighboring town that has a turtle race, so turtles are a hot commodity right now.

Do I look like an animal person to you? Probably. And I actually am, I do really like animals. Turtles aren’t exactly my thing but I’ve had pretty much every pet imaginable. I went through nearly a dozen rabbits growing up. I had chicks and ducks, guinea pigs and a hamster. I had a cat named Sarah and a dog named Sarah. The dog was a boy, but I didn’t care and neither did he. One of my favorite dogs was a Bassett Hound that showed up on our front porch one Spring. I had always wanted a Bassett and when Sally showed up, I said she was the one I had prayed for and God dropped her on my doorstep. Unfortunately, I didn’t specify in my prayers that she needed to be able to see or hear. Because she was deaf and almost completely blind. Loyal as ever, though, and so sweet. This is her, in a cone the vet made her wear for awhile. No, this is not a joke.

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I think I’m getting my payback on the animals though. I don’t usually pick any kids up for church, but last Wednesday night I got a call from a mom saying that she needed me to stop by. It was right in town so I swung by and got them, no big deal.

What I didn’t know was that when we got to church, a couple of their cousins showed up and needed to ride home with the kids I brought. I have a car that seats 5. Let’s do the math. Jake was with me, so we were 2 + 2 kids I picked up + 2 cousins. So 6 in 5 seats.

Again, no big deal. If I remember correctly, my record was 8 of us in 5 seats during college. I wasn’t really that concerned. I told the kids it was fine, I’d take them, and we’d make it work. But, when it came time to leave, the little girl came up and kindly informed me that she and her brother had brought their rabbits with them and they would need a ride too. When I asked where the rabbits were, they said, on the church bus, which had picked them (and their rabbits) up that night. So, I went and had a word with the church bus driver, namely my dad.

Alli and Elsa

Alli and Elsa

When I asked him why Alli and Bobby had been allowed to bring their rabbits, he said they had come out of the house with the cages and said they had to go. So go they did.

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To update, let’s do this math again. Me + Jake + 2 kids + 2 cousins + 2 rabbits. So, as we are walking to the car, rabbits in tow, Justin (one of the two original kids I picked up) said while we were on the playground after church, he’d found a toad and he was keeping it as a pet. I’m in the middle of arranging how to fit all these children and rabbits in my car, so how could I say no to a toad at that point? Cherry on the top of the proverbial cake.

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Well, Alli hates toads, but Maddie loves them, so I made Maddie sit in the middle, Alli had her rabbit, Justin had his toad, and Bobby insisted on sitting up front with Jake and his rabbit. Actually Bobby (who is 5) really wanted to drive the car, but sitting up front and turning the key to start the car got him close enough to the action.

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We were fine for the first two minutes. And when I say fine, what I really mean is Bobby cranked my stereo and managed to roll down the windows, before Jake got control of the situation and kept all our eardrums from bursting. After that, the meltdown happened. Which Jake decided was worth taking a picture of. He’s a great co-pilot, as you can tell.

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While this is going on in the backseat and Jake is busy capturing it and I’m trying to drive, Bobby has his hand on the gearshift and keeps asking me, can I move this, can I move this? I was just waiting for him to throw us into neutral, causing this whole escapade to be complete. But, he didn’t. And, Jake eventually calmed the backseat meltdown and all animals and people made it home safely.

Final count: me + Jake + 2 kids + 2 cousins + 2 rabbits + 1 toad

I think I set a new record.

{Epilogue: I have been informed that Bobby’s rabbit has since passed from this life. He made a good pet and from my own experience, was the best passenger I had in the car that night. He will be missed. RIP Michael the rabbit.}

Canada, Family, Outdoors, Travel

Pike Pic

I know this is going to come as a shock to everyone, but my dad is not a professional photographer. He asked me if I wanted my picture with this polar bear at the airport. By the way, in case anyone wasn’t aware, there are some big soccer games (I know nothing about soccer, so don’t quote me but I think it’s the Women’s World Cup, maybe?) going on in Canada this summer, which is why the polar bear has a soccer ball. I wouldn’t even know this except for the fact that one of my friends travelled to Winnipeg two weeks before me to watch one of the US games. So, of course, I said I needed a picture. He’s one of those people that are taking your picture but you don’t know if they’ve taken it so you don’t know how long to pose or hold your smile for. Then, they look at you like why are you still smiling and you feel like a dork. So, I had him take my picture and then I asked him if he’d gotten one of my funny face? To which he said: you were making a funny face?

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Yes, dad, that’s not my normal face. So, I end up with two pictures. The previous one of my funny face. Then, this accidental candid, in which I’m questioning why I had him take my picture in the first place.

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I have to admit that I kinda like the second picture better. The candid shots seem to be the ones that transmit the most true story. I have this picture of me and my mom on the beach when I was a baby and I love it for two reasons. One is because we have the same expression on our faces, which I think says a lot about a mother and daughter relationship. And two, because neither of us are posing. We’re not smiling, making it look any certain way. It captures a true moment. A moment which probably in all reality says “why are we even at the beach?”

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They always say pictures are worth a thousand words. I guess they are because they do depict a lot of details that wouldn’t necessarily be expressed in words. But, they don’t always tell the whole story.

So, let’s take this picture, for instance.

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What do we notice about this picture?

  • 1) I’ve just caught a big fish & 2) I’m looking pretty chill about it.

What you don’t see in this picture is that I had just had a fish bigger than this break my line, and that this guy fought me for about 15 minutes before I got him in the boat. What you also don’t see is that I had just doused my face in sunscreen right before this and I forgot to read that tiny print that says don’t put this stuff near your eyeballs. Apparently they put that little warning on there for a reason because when I hooked this guy and was looking down at the water for the next 15 minutes, my eyes were welling up and it was making my nose run, so it looked like I was literally crying. So I’m out on the water, fighting a Northern Pike that keeps taking off with my line, threatening to break it again at any moment, whilst trying to blink away the sweat and sunscreen that keeps running into my eyes. Dad has the net, and keeps trying to capture him when I get him close to the surface, which makes the fish and me nervous and he takes off again, nearly pulling me and my fishing pole under the boat with him. At this point, I’m just sure I’m going to go blind right before I fall in the lake and have to be rescued. But, mercifully, he gave up the fight. So, once he is finally in the boat, it’s picture time, which means I have to quickly pull my wits together and make sure it doesn’t look like I’ve been crying or that I’m blind or that I am the basketcase that I am at this point. And, I think I did a pretty good job of it. Maybe dad isn’t that bad of a photog afterall.