Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

9 years ago, yesterday (and actually for a week prior), was such a fun, fun day! As we made plans for Lindsay and Troy's wedding, Tom kept saying that he wanted it to be fun and not stressful and that it didn't matter if something went wrong because at the end of the day, they would still be married. And that's exactly how it!

 The parachute going up!
 Troy's family and ours joined forces to transform the Rossville gym into a reception hall. Look how thrilled Troy was to help! ;-)
 Rehearsal time

 Goofy kids at the rehearsal dinner!
 Getting ready on the big day!
The bridesmaids' dresses laced and tied in back. Thus, the train of lovely ladies!
 The ceremony
Group photo
At the airport when they arrived back from their honeymoon.
Happy Anniversary (1 day late), Lindsay and Troy!
We love you both and are so thankful for you!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Another teenager!

Jeremy turns 13 today! He celebrated yesterday by attending the Brickyard with Dad and what a treat that was! He declared it the best birthday ever! (Even though his man didn't win the race and it was very loud.)  We will have a family celebration on Friday but today, he gets to pick his favorites for dinner and doesn't have to do school work! Hooray!!!!

 This is at his last band concert in May.
Jeremy and Langston
 Jeremy loves being an uncle and is a great one!
and with Ethan

Happy 13th Birthday, Jeremy!
We love you and are so thankful that God  brought you into our family!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Victory Lane Camp - warning: Massive Post!!!

It's hard to know where to begin to describe what we experienced at Victory Lane Camp last week. We had no idea what we were getting into and I can tell you that this was no ordinary camp. There were 6 families with a total of 9 special needs children, 7 therapists and a bunch of families who came to serve (Backyard Mission Trips.) 16 different churches provided all the meals for us throughout the week! When we arrived, there were 50-70 children and adults (with yellow camp shirts on), lining the drive to our bunkhouse, cheering for us and welcoming us to camp. I started crying right then and continued for much of the week. The love and acceptance and desire to serve and see our family have a positive camp experience was overwhelming. I will attempt to describe the week through a bunch of pictures, so hang on......

We took 2 vehicles that were packed with bikes, fishing gear, swimming gear, sleeping stuff, clothes, etc, etc, etc, etc.  When we got there, we had lots of help unloading and after lunch, we had the rest of the day to explore the campground, relax and meet everyone. We hadn't been there long until the teen boys were racing on go-carts and Ian was racing them with his chair. Someone got it on video and it was the neatest thing! 
Goofy boys on the first morning, excited to begin the day.
The folks at VLC (namely, Don) made a special trip to Bradford Woods to get an adaptive canoe just so Ian and Caden could have a canoe ride. Ian insisted that Brittany go with him so she is squished behind him in the canoe.
The effervescent Caden, waiting his turn in the canoe.
Since Ian was already wet after his canoe ride and had a life vest on, we decided to try a family paddle boat ride. We almost sank the boat and poor Tom had to work really hard to peddle but we did it!
Lucas did a great job, working with the therapist and meeting new people but at one point, he told me he just needed some alone time on the putt-putt course. ;-) You can see the fantastic playground and tube system in the background. Jeremy and Lucas really enjoyed playing there!
The boys only braved the pool once. It was quite chilly, thanks to the cool weather (which was wonderful!)
There were water games on one afternoon and this is a game of Drip, Drip, Drench, which is like Duck, Duck, Goose, only with a sponge full of water.
Here is the adorable Finton, chasing someone in the same game.
And here is Lucas being chased.
After dinner on that day, we had a Pirate Ball, which was an absolute blast!!!
2 of our fierce pirates!
Cutest pirate ever!
The 3 Amigos!
Pirate Family picture! Brittany (left) and Mary(right) were our family crew chiefs and they were AMAZING!!!!!!  They helped us in so many ways but what we appreciated most was actually being able to visit with people without being interrupted or having to watch where the boys were and what they were doing. Mary and Brittany, we will never be able to thank you enough for sacrificing a week for us!
Mr. Aaron, dancing at the pirate ball. Wish I had a video of it....he really got into it and even let me dance with him!
Perhaps Ian enjoyed "slashing" everyone with his sword just a little too much!
Super Me! was the camp super hero and Jumping Jeremy got to be his sidekick one day. Here he is, showing Super Me! how to jump!
This servant leader drove his golf cart around all week, taking care of anything that needed to be done (and there was a lot!) Ian loved racing his golf cart all the time, so Don gave him (and the other boys) a ride, which they all loved! His wife spent the week, organizing and serving all the meals. What a job!
A giant, 30' water slide was brought in for one afternoon and it was a big hit! With the help of Mr. Brett, Lucas overcame his fear and went down the slide several times. The ladder in back was steep and very slippery so it was quite a challenge. Mary and I had to give it a try!  FUN!!!
Sometimes it's just as much fun to watch others have fun as it is to have fun yourself! There was no way to get Ian up the slide, but he loved watching his brothers (and everyone else) slide down.
Although he couldn't go down the slide, Ian loved the splash booth. There was a bucket of water at the top and it tipped when someone hit the button by throwing a ball.
Of course, he wanted to throw the balls so Miss Brittany would get dumped on, too!
Jumping Jeremy, jumping rope.
The next afternoon, we had time to relax and do some fishing.
Ian didn't let Brittany out of his sight and she was a very good sport to follow him all over the camp!
(He's having withdrawal this week!)
Caught a couple of small fish
Tom spent the entire time getting hooks and worms ready for the fishermen.
Lucas' catch!
Later that same afternoon, we were treated to a Silly Safari. You can see that the boys loved it!

Lucas got called to go help and wasn't too sure but he actually held this snake!
Ian got called up, too, and got to pet this baby owl.
Lucas and Josiah playing on the playground.
We all got to take a wagon ride and you can pretty much see what Ian thought of that!
Chad (and his parents) was a camp favorite and I asked to have my picture taken with the most famous person at camp. What a wonderful man he is!
While the children with special needs were getting therapy every morning, the "typical" kids had Disability Awareness Training." How cool is that?!!!! Saturday afternoon was the wheel race and it was nothing short of inspirational. Ian was a little put out that they wouldn't let him use his power chair but he would have had a completely unfair advantage, so he rode the bike. He and Caden started the relay race off!
This little guy has taken steps in his therapist's clinic but had never used the walker in public. His part of the relay race put me over the edge and had everyone in tears. He worked so hard!
Jeremy's turn!
Lucas is getting his instructions from Miss Mary for his leg of the 2nd race.
Go Lucas!
Here comes Aaron!
This emergency vehicle (Polaris) started the race as the lap car and Ian went crazy. After the race, the guys offered to take him a ride in it. He was so excited!
This is our home for the week, after it was all cleaned up and we were ready to leave. I wish I'd thought to take a picture when our stuff was all over every bed in the room (30 of them, I think!) Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what our week of activities was like but it wouldn't be complete without mentioning the parent training sessions, which were so very helpful. We were reminded to protect our "soul health," to develop a family mission statement, to stop and have a quiet time every morning and to regularly evaluate and reflect on where we are and where we need to be as a family and as followers of Christ. The sessions were encouraging and totally dovetailed with what we have learned in our therapy with Lucas and Jeremy.
It is our hope that some of you who are reading this are the same ones who made it possible for us to attend this camp. If that is true, would you please consider letting us know who you are so we can thank you personally?
It's difficult to explain to "outsiders" how challenging it is to find activities or vacations for our family to do together because of the different special needs we all face. This past week was wonderful on so many was a week away from the normal stress of everyday life and Tom's job, it was a chance to be a family but with the help of our amazing family crew chiefs, it was a chance to connect with other people who face similar challenges and it was an opportunity to get to know and fellowship with new friends in the body of Christ! Our boys are still talking non-stop about the week and are ready to go back. We are thankful that God led us to "take a risk" when we didn't know much about VLC. We hope to help expand the camp and perhaps someday, bring it to the Lafayette area!