On Saturday, July 26, we celebrated Zachary's 18th birthday a few days later than his actual birthdate. He usually picks Mexican food for his meal, but decided on grilled hamburgers and hot dogs this year.
It worked out where most of the area family could be here to help celebrate his special day.
Instead of me making his cake, he wanted a cake from "Hilda's Sweet Shop" in Altus, OK. It was half chocolate and half vanilla. She does a great job!
The traditional "cousins and siblings" picture around the birthday boy. It's amazing how many parties and pictures we've had! Hard to believe that the "party" stage is almost over for him.
Just driving into Ruidoso, NM, last Saturday I knew we were going to enjoy our stay there! Who doesn't enjoy seeing deer just calmly lying on the ground instead of running towards, away from, or into your car on the highway as you would see in SW Oklahoma?! It was such a beautiful site! And we saw many over the next five days!
And then the scenes like this - the mountains, the pine trees, spectacular views. It was beautiful!
Our house was beautiful, too. We found it through vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner), as usual. I like having a big, nice kitchen, but actually, this time I didn't cook very much. I still would have brought the kitchen home with me if I could have!
The owners are from Texas, so we had lots and lots of Texas decor. We liked it - felt almost like home! A neat thing is that we found out that the man is a hot air balloon company owner! He has won lots of awards in the hot air balloon industry! That explains why there was a lot of hot air balloon decor, too! I found myself finding hot air balloon things in the downtown stores, as well.
One fun thing we did was visit "Pillow's Funtrackers". The owner, Jim Pillow is actually a former resident of Tipton Children's Home, that my husband now over as director. He was adopted as a young teen and credits his faithful Christian life and success to those loving parents who adopted he and his siblings. It was great to meet him!
Our children enjoyed the go karts! Here Zachary and Jacob are racing!
Lauren is so funny! It never fails, if she knows have the camera out, she'll pose some goofy pose! I wouldn't be able to do two things at once. I would have wrecked! Ha ha!
One thing Pillow's Funtrackers has is a huge maze. You stamp your card on the time machine, then get several markers punched along the way, then race back to the clock to be the first one back. It was so much fun! Joe cheated! Can you believe that!!!???
We visited the "Flying J" Ranch for a shoot-out, chuck wagon dinner, and Western music show. Tyler and the others all practiced shooting a pistol with wax pellets.
They had fun comparing who did the best. I think Lauren did, actually!
Although we're not big Western music fans, this group was great! They were funny and talented. And it was clean! That's a buggy these days!
The food was really good! It's so much fun eating from a tin plate and drinking from a tin cup! Just like a cowboy, huh?!
Our family enjoyed being in the rental home. The owners leave puzzles for the guest to do. This one was very, very hard, but we had such a fun time doing it together! Well, most of us contributed. Joe tried to help, but he put a lot of pieces together in a row that didn't go!! Ha ha! He was disappointed we took them all apart, but we had to! We didn't want to stop until we had it done, so several of us worked hours and hours at a time!
I wanted to take a picture of each of the kids in front of the house at this bear carving.
So many of the homes had these kinds of bears! Small ones....big ones....cute ones!
We bought one for our house with our last name on it.
It will always be a great reminder of our vacation!
Wow! Eighteen years old! That's just amazing! How is it possible that our second child is that old? The years have flown by, but we have enjoyed every moment of it! He's been a true joy to raise!
Since we always seem to be heading home or on vacation during Zachary's birthday, he's always fortunate to get to choose his restaurant. Yesterday he chose Chuy's - a Mexican food place we had heard of for several years, but never been able to go to. It was GREAT!
We began his birthday in Ruiodoso, NM, so we stopped for muffins at a great little bakery called, The Cornerstone Bakery. The kids posed for a "silly" pose in what they call, "THE LOOK". I'm not sure how sticking your tongue out is "the look", but I let it slide for this silly picture! :)
Lunch was especially neat because we got to eat with my parents as we were passing through Lubbock, TX! Zachary was fortunate because Grandma made him a chocolate sheet cake and brought it to the restaurant! He'll have his family birthday party this weekend, so will enjoy another cake that day.
You really have been a joy to raise. You have been and are a wonderful son. We can not imagine life without you in it! We thank God for the blessing of YOU.
When I think back to when you were little, I laugh. You didn't talk for a long time - Lauren did it for you, but you would hum. You and Lauren would play like you were having worship and you would hum "Jesus Loves Me". You would scream when the door was open and you saw the trash truck! You were SOOOOO excited to see it! It was hilarious!
You wanted to drive the trash truck and be an astronaut, even saying you would fly the trash to the moon! The astronaut phase stopped when Grandma actually rented a DVD that showed real astronauts. I guess it scared you! :) Now you want to be a youth minister. You'll be a great one! Then I suspect you'll follow the steps of your uncles and move into the pulpit minister position. You may not, but that's what I "think", as your mom!
You will be a great husband and dad. You're a wee bit impatient, and I have to say that I'm still more afraid to tell you that I've done something goofy in the house or with the car than I am to tell your dad, but you'll mellow (I think....I hope!) Ha ha ha ha!!! I love to tease you about that!
This past year you have grown and matured even more. When you get up to do the communion devotionals during worship, I don't feel like you are my teenage son. You seem more like a grown man. You have always been a "little" man - even since birth, but now you're not little any more! You don't have the wisdom of an 18-year-old, either. You are wise beyond those years.
During your Junior year, you became the sports broadcaster for your FFA Communications Team, which has caused you to be business and organization minded. It has become your "thing" and you're relied upon by other students and teachers in this area. And now, as FFA President, you will lead your chapter in a new way. You're a great example to all of your class and underclassmen.
Everyone laughs during football season about your "white short Friday" rule - no matter what the temperature! Come warm, cold, snow, rain, ice....you wear those "white shorts" each and every Friday - all the way up to the STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! Ha ha! And, I'm sure you will next year, as well!
Thank you for being responsible, hard-working, intuitive, willing, and able to do the things that will help others. Coach Tyler isn't sure how she will make it without you in school when you graduate. She thinks you have skills that some adults don't even have. Your dad and I have to agree! We're not sure how we'll make it without you, either!! But, you're setting a great example for Jacob and Tyler and we know they will "step up" to the task and are learning from you every day.
This year you accomplished what you've wanted to for many years: You helped your golf team make it to STATE! What an exciting time that was! You seem to stay calm, cool, and collected - even during those stressful, exciting times!
I can't wait to see what God has planned for your life, Zachary. Selfishly I want you home with us, but that's not what we're raising you to do. We're raising you to be a servant for the Lord, and to do that, you'll have to go. And we will be praying for your journey and look forward to seeing where He leads you!
This year will go fast, but it will be fun! I know that I'll shed some tears. But there's no place I'd rather be than watching it all happen. I'm very, very thankful to be your mom.
Last week on our Facebook (Parents After God's Own Heart) parenting page, we listed this "Top 10". Maybe you can think of other things to add to this list. We can't all be perfect parents, but there are lots and lots of things we can do to be great parents. The biggest thing we can do is make the most of every opportunity we have with our children, because they aren't with us long in the scope of life. We have relatively few years with them to teach and train. "Top 10 Things" Parents After God's Own Heart will do: 1. Use the Bible as the source of what is good and right and as the guide for holy living. 2. Teach and train children in things that honor God. 3. Model a servant's heart. Serve one another in the home. Serve others outside of the home. 4. Love each other and show Jesus' love to others. 5. Never allow other things to be first and center in the family. Only God deserves that place. All other things placed front and center are idols. 6. Worship together as a family and with the family of believers...the church...because Jesus died for the church...the family of believers. It's the very least we can do for Him. 7. Be thankful for everything. Say it out loud. 8. Pray all the time. Pray in good times and in bad times. Pray when you're happy. Pray when you're sad. 9. Show a strong faith in daily living. Don't fall apart in times of trial, but fall on your knees! Doing so will be teaching your children to do the same. 10. Show forgiveness. Ask for forgiveness. Nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes. We all need forgiveness. Then accept apologies without strings attached.
This year's teen session of camp, I served as "nurse" and "craft lady". As far as experience goes, I have more experience as craft lady, but my seven years of working for an ophthalmologist did teach me a lot about the medical field! We had no ER visits (thankfully) and not much blood (yay!). :)
One neat thing that introduced into this year's session was, "Why Can't We Be Friends?" Each morning, for about 30 minutes, a teen would have to meet someone new and talk to them. It was fun watching them visit and play together. Many of them enjoyed this "new" thing! Of course, there were a few shy ones who didn't! But maybe they found a new friend during that week, anyway.
The theme for the year was, "What is Your Shape?". Games were brought in to go with the theme. Our daughter served as counselor and is playing "Plinko" to choose what her Family group will clean up after lunch! That was fun!
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law made this big Sequence board, which was a lot of fun to play during free time!
I had a man make these letters and shapes, then we lit them up to go with the theme. It was neat, except a few of them kept falling down in the wind...busting the lights! Oh, well! It still looked good.
"Warm Fuzzy" bags are designed by each camper and serve as a way for campers to communicate with each other and send one another "warm fuzzes".
One of our sons got to play, "Win, Lose, or Draw" and show his drawing skills!
This answer was "Pie in the Sky"! Good job, Jacob!
BIG things was key with the afternoon activities. These soft blocks were fun - even for teens!
The BIG foam dice made for a fun game of "Farkle". I would have liked to be able to play!
Our niece got in on the "Minute to Win It" cup-stacking game. She was the most successful at it, but they tumbled down at the last few seconds!
This was by far the best moment of the camp week - when she gave her life to Christ and put Him on in baptism. Being baptized by her dad was an extra bonus! Just as the gospel of Jesus is His death, burial, and resurrection, MaKenna was buried an unforgiven sinner, was buried in baptism, and raised to a new life, born again...forgiven!
"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his." Romans 6:3-5
For the last evening meal, I decorated the tables in Family Groups. Everyone got a HUGE card for a placemat, and the teens thought of a great idea: They had campers sign their cards as a fun memento for this year's session! Brilliant!
For centerpieces we made "shape" guys from cardboard shapes and the foam blocks. (Robin, notice YOUR styrofoam circles for the bases?? Thanks!)
Later on that last evening, the directors had some of the teens from each Family play "The Price is Right". Of course, there were some who didn't know what was going on, but for many of us "TPIR" fans, it was great! I would have liked to play this, too!! Ha ha!
Another highlight from camp was our oldest being awarded with the male "Christian Leadership Award". He's such a good kid, even though he's my son! See his humble attitude break a little smile?
And then as his uncle talked about his humble spirit and deserving this award, he did a big smile....bug with his head down :). Love that boy! I'll save my other "thoughts" about him for later in the month. He's turning 18!!
During my first week of camp this year, I had seven young girls and two junior counselors in the cabin. These girls were SO MUCH FUN! They enjoyed dressing as ladybugs using my favorite costume accessory - trash bags! The girls were so cute. They thought the trash bags made cute formal dresses, and they were serious! Ha ha! Some parents could get by pretty cheap using that idea some day!
The junior counselors made up some little songs to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot" and "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes", but using ladybug lyrics. It was so cute!
The theme of the week was "Answering Questions". We taught that the BIBLE, God's Word, is the ONLY source we should use for what is true and right. The girls asked some GREAT questions, but thankfully had them answered in the WORD! I know they learned a lot!
We decorated the cabin with red bows and lady bugs, which was perfect for a group of 9-12 year olds!
Camp looked beautiful this year, thanks to the blessing of rain! After a long drought, this rain has made it more lush than it's been in a long, long time.
My oldest son served as a counselor this year. That was neat, since the youngest was there as a camper. That's the oldest flying through the air!
Cute Bible skits were written by one of the directors. This is "Wiki" and "Google" asking questions about what's true and what's not.
Mr. "Truth" used the Bible to answer questions by the "Question" character, played by my daughter.
Our youngest had lots of fun at camp this year, making more friends and growing in God's Word. The games and activities made it extra-fun, like this "Minute to Win It" game. He did it! He balanced four dice on a tongue depressed being held in his mouth!