Last weekend, our family participated in our church's first annual Family Camp at Alpine Camp in Mentone, AL. When this was announced back in the summer, we were excited about it. However, the closer it came to actually going, Heath and I weren't sure if it would be the most practical for our family of young children. So, we actually signed up, backed out, and then re-signed up. Call us decisive!
Blurry, but a shot of the back of the Suburban heading up there. Our friends Jim and Brooks rode with us because Jami (maybe brilliantly?) didn't head up until the next morning. Jim and Heath were in the front, John Burke and I in the middle, and Turner, Collins and Brooks rocked the back. As you can tell, it was crazy and luckily all the children behaved and giggled most of the way up there. I should video Collins - she thinks Turner and John Burke are SO funny these days, and on this ride Brooks thoroughly entertained her as well!
This was Turner the first night. They had endless supplies of popsicles for the children, and he got the message right away. I actually didn't take this picture, but someone else did and put it on Facebook and I randomly found it this morning. I am in the background with Collins strapped to me, because that is how we had to roll the first night!
I had to document this - cousin Collins was there and she was holding baby Collins the first night. 2 people, same name - after our sweet Nanny.
This was the only picture I got in the cabin - John Burke and Read hanging on the bed. It was pretty rustic, but our church was gracious enough to let us have the nicer, more recently built cabins if you had small children. One single girl mentioned we were lucky to get said cabins, and I agreed but reminded her that toddlers came with the nice cabins, so there was such beauty in coming alone!
The next morning, around 6 a.m., Heath headed back to Birmingham. Ironically, the day we made our final decision and decided to participate in Camp, re-signed up, etc. Heath was told he had an unavoidable meeting in Birmingham at 9 a.m. Saturday. Awesome. But luckily, Aunt Stacy and Uncle Derek agreed to keep this little lady Saturday and Sunday - thank you, thank you - and she headed home with Heath early morning.
And side note from the picture, Stacy was good to send me pictures. I had to ask her if she glued the bow on because Collins is still bald! It cracked me up when she texted this to me.
Here are the boys with their bud Brooks that first morning. I had actually taken them out of the group worship time because they were too loud - imagine that. So we had some play time in the field and on one of the trails. The weekend was so laid back that it was nice to be able to exit when my little campers got too rowdy. Heath came back right in time for lunch, so the chaos was contained. And, our dear friend Sarah arrived later that morning, which is always good news to John Burke!
A picture of the group in the Lodge, watching the Auburn game. Banner year for our Tigers.
Action shot of the boys hanging with their friends and climbing on one of the many golf carts used to transport. Our vehicle of choice was the double stroller, and it came in handy!
Also, we did a lot of walking. Which was great because the weather was perfect!! I thought this was just Heath and Turner (on the second, very sleepy morning.) But no, John Burke is riding in the backpack on Heath's back! Right after taking this, I asked Heath about Turner's jeans. They looked short, and we figured out he actually put on John Burke's...that he had worn the entire day before. The boys were in Heath's cabin - lucky for me! - and he was doing his best to get them up and out by breakfast. Made me laugh, but we were so tired we just went with it!
Beautiful scenery. Not so much a vacation in the restful sense, but SO nice to get away and be outside!
Family canoe trip - very fun!
And, a shot of Turner at dinner the second night. At 6:30.
Very asleep at the table. Needless to say, everyone slept well the second night. Especially me - I didn't have Collins in my cabin that night! And Daddy had both boys. But the great thing about the Ridge area where we were was that everyone had small children, as I mentioned before. I didn't get a picture, but both nights we were able to sit and talk - men in one group and then women in the other - in front of our cabins for hours. Great fellowship and much much laughter!!
A glimpse of how we entertained during one of the Worship sessions - adults singing and listening, children distracted by technology so that we could sing and listen. Go on and judge, it made me again appreciative of the nursery on Sundays!
Wonderful, exhausting experience! Well worth it, even with the 8 loads of laundry that followed. So many dirty clothes and sheets and towels for just a short weekend. But it was definitely a little boy's dream! This was John Burke after we pit stopped at the Fort Payne Sonic.
Thankfully they stayed awake until we got home and picked up this little princess and then had family nap time for almost 2 hours!!
Collins and Chloe after Aunt Stacy bathed them. Collins was at her own Family Camp with them - and we were all better off for it! (Well, maybe not Stacy and Derek :))
Speaking of Collins - she is 9 months old today!! She is sitting up and rolling around, but not crawling. And I sort of love it. I am dreading when she is more mobile, though I know it will be very soon. Her nickname is Heather, because she looks a lot like Heath. Maybe she will get her own look with some hair?! And still no teeth, no shocker compared to my other 2. She loves to laugh and "talk", but the only word I can distinguish is "hey" and I am pretty sure it is not on purpose, yet sometimes in context. I am claiming it! She is a great eater, and has steadily moved past baby food. We went to a fall festival the other day, and she was in the stroller next to Burke Burke. I found her with his sucker that she quickly grabbed and inserted in her mouth. And then, John Burke was screaming and pointing and I found her covered in icing because she had jacked his iced sugar cookie. She was doing her best to finish it before he discovered it, but he was quick like a cat and got it back. He loves her, but don't come between him and a cookie. Here she is eating her first bites of banana pudding from Moe's Barbecue. Surprised Heath shared because it is so delicious!
Happy 9 months, my little nugget!
The last picture I could find of the kids with Melissa. This was taken just over a year ago. I will never forget October 22, 2011. We were in Atlanta for Ellie's second birthday party. We drove over for the day, and after the party we headed back to the hotel to hang out with Heath's family before dinner. There we decided to tell them Baby Collins' name, that we had pretty much finalized on the drive over. We had known we were having a girl for about a month, and should have been more prepared with a name, but of course we were not. We were sitting in the Embassy Suites and Kate said, "Tell us the name!" And Heath looked at me, and I looked at his mom and said, "Her name will be Melissa Collins and we will call her Collins." His mom was so excited. She started crying and hugged me so tight and for over a minute straight she just said, "Thank you, thank you." And then little 18 month old John Burke walked over to the table, grabbed a baby wipe and walked it over to MeMe because she was crying so hard. We were all emotional - celebrating her that day and knowing our days were numbered. One of the sweetest memories we have, and didn't realize it would be the last time we would see her up and around and "normal" before pneumonia set in just 2 short weeks later.
MeMe with 9 month old John Burke. She would love her little namesake if she could have held her. I had a crying moment with a saleslady the other day. I was picking out Christmas clothes for a picture and missed that MeMe was so good at spoiling my boys! The lady and I just cried as we held the little smocked Santa clothes, and then laughed at ourselves. As much as we miss our MeMe, we know she is dancing in Heaven with Jesus. And we genuinely rejoice in God's plan for us, though it was not our own!