The New Adventure

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013: Why We're Together and What That has Led To...

This post is a bit different in that it really isn't about the kiddos but their mother instead...bear with me...


So, something I've never really shared this before but I'm incredibly proud of my wife. Like, incredibly proud of my wife. She's an amazing person inside and out. She's my foil…the perfect match that challenges me, pushes me, and loves me regardless of what crazy dumb things I do. She's the best mother to our girls. She so rarely gets frustrated at their quirks and she is constantly enthralled with the things that they do and the people that they are becoming. She's also an amazing therapist. She's one of those people that you just hate in middle school or high school because she knew exactly what she wanted to do. There was never really any question that she was going to be a physical therapist and she was going to spend her time working with kids. It's just who she is and I think it's awesome.

One of the things that came out of Lindsey's desire to help kids was the creation of Camp Horizon. Now, I get labelled as the "co-director" or "co-founder" but that's no where close to correct. So, let's fill in a little bit of the backstory here and we'll get where we're going in just a minute.

Boom boom boom!
Lindsey and I met the summer of 1997 working at Camp Lookout, a Methodist church summer camp. Now, I was hot stuff, head counselor that year, and Lindsey was just some random volunteer who came down for a few weeks to help out because her friends from Maryville told her it would be fun. I wish I could say that the sparks were intense but honestly I have no recollection of even speaking to her. Sorry…

The summer of 1998 was a bit different. She came back as a counselor and I was resource staff. I had the best job in the world because I got paid to throw kids off cliffs. Seriously, paid money to toss kids off cliffs. What could be better? If you have ever spent any time working at a summer camp you will kinda understand the lifestyle. We worked from 7am until 11pm 5 days a week. This was before cellphones were a necessity and we didn't have a working television much less the internet. Weekend groups provided a bit of a break but most of us stuck around and worked those as well. I think I made about $175 a week but zero expenses so wahoo!

So, camp was our life for about 12 weeks each summer. One other thing you former camp people will understand is this: it doesn't matter who you are or what kind of person you try to be, no matter what happens, camp brings out the very best and the very worst in everyone. Everyone. No one is exempt from this. You have such amazing experiences with your campers, the staff, the user groups but you also get stuck in those moments when the rain pours down and puts out your fire and the minister in residence swears that he has zero stories to tell your agitated campers while you try to get dinner ready.

So, I tell you all of that to tell you this: I'm not exactly the most open person in the world. I put on a good front with the best of them. I'm awesome at it. I'm a fixer. Always have been. I'm fine…what can I do for you. That's who I am. Well, someone saw through that and called me on it. And I wasn't terribly happy about it.

Ouchie...
The way it happened was that I managed to break my foot right before camp started for the summer. I had been clearing trees, alone, and decided to go swimming, alone, when I finished the last load of brush. What I didn't notice was that the diving board pivot point was set way wrong. One bounce on that thing and it snapped right back up and clocked my foot and ankle really good. Remember, I'm alone. There wasn't a single person anywhere on site and here I am in the pool and my footie no workie. Not good.

I managed to get out and hobbled around enough to convince myself it wasn't horribly bad. Some ice and it really didn't hurt that much. Good to go and it went like that for the next few weeks. Well, remember that i was resource staff and that meant that I got to do all the fun high adventure stuff: high ropes, caving, climbing and rappelling. Bring it on. I was also one half of the GREATEST SHOW IN HOLSTON CONFERENCE CAMPING. My buddy John and I ran singing on the steps each evening and did lots of fun stuff. One activity involved singing a song and me running around the lodge like a crazy man. According to the doctor a few weeks after the fact, apparently each time I did this running I was re-fracturing my foot. Whoops…

So, as the summer wore on, my foot was bothering me more and more. I spent most meal times icing my foot and no one knew about it because it was none of their business. At least, I thought no one knew about it.

So, here's where we start skipping the mushy part and the fact that it took a whole 'nother year before Lindsey and I were actually dating. Don't ask…

Ok, so if you tuned out, tune back in here…

So, now you understand that the connection Lindsey and I share started at camp and that we both have a pretty strong affinity for camp. So, now it's 2005 and Lindsey has been working at Erlanger for a year. One day, I think it was in May or maybe June, Lindsey tells me that we need to run a camp for kids with physical disabilities. It's just not fair that these kids don't have the opportunity to go to camp and do the fun activities that other kids get to do without a second thought.

And crazy begat...
Dear readers, I wish I could tell you that I whole-heartedly supported Lindsey in her desire to start a camp. I wish I could say that I said something along the lines of, "that sounds like an excellent idea. Let's totally do that!" but I didn't. She was wanting to put together programming, find funding, find campers, find staff, and convince UTC that they wanted to help all in about 3 months. I think I might have said something along the lines of, "Girl, you be crazy…" cause that's what it sounded like.

Well, obviously Lindsey won this one. Camp Horizon was born and went off without a hitch. We didn't have t-shirts. We only had 11 kids. The slideshow was AWFUL (and I can say that since I put it together). But, you know what? None of that mattered one little bit. We had 11 kids who got to go to camp for the first time ever. Most of these kids had never even spent a night away from home up until that point. And, the amount of trust that those parents and caregivers put in us was amazing. We were winging it and the thing worked. 

Pretty t-shirts...
We've watched our numbers increase every year. We've watched our campers grow up right in front of us. Many of those original 11 kids still come each year. We've graduated one and we have a few more graduating this year. If you had asked me back in June of 2005 if this was going to be something this lasting and powerful I would have had my doubts. The lesson here is this: do not get in front of Lindsey when she sets her mind to do something.

Now, the whole reason that I'm writing all of this down was a song. I'm always looking for music for the slideshow. It really is disturbing how many Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus songs I have in iTunes. Anyway, as I was flipping through my iTunes library this evening, I came across this song: Lovely by Sara Haze. Now, if you've never heard this song before, go and at least preview it on iTunes and get an idea of what it's about. Here you go: Sara Haze - Lovely

Got that done? Good.

Now, this isn't my typical music. In my car I mainly listen to Talk Radio these days. It's actually kind of depressing. No, this song was something I downloaded at Camp Horizon 2012 at the request of one of our campers. You see, on Saturday night of camp each year we have a giant talent show. Giant. Huge. Amazing stuff. This camper decided that she was going to sing for everyone. Now, she's an amazing girl. She spends most of her time in a wheelchair these days. She's one of the most encouraging people I know. Always has a positive attitude regardless of the situation.

So, talent show time and I cue "Lovely" up on the sound system. Never heard this song before in my life. What happened over the next 3 minutes literally stopped the world around that campfire. Here was a child belting out a song about being "lovely the was that she [is]". She doesn't have to conform to what the world wants her to be. Here was a kid who was dealt a bad hand and she has totally owned it. Here was a kid who knew more about who she was than I ever will know about myself. And that is beautiful…and amazing…and incredible…and she will never know how touched I was at that moment.

Doing her thing...
You see, what's amazing is that this was an experience that I would have missed out on if it weren't for the efforts of Lindsey getting this whole operation up and off the ground. I know that I protested and grumped and groaned at least the first year or two. Some might say that I can be a bit obstinate and stubborn at times. I did not make it easy. And look at what I would have missed.

This is only one tiny example of the awesome things that happen at Camp Horizon each and every year. I would like to think that I am a bit more supportive these days. I am really proud of the things that we have accomplished over the last 8 years. I look forward to continuing to have these experiences many many years into the future.

And this, dear readers, is just one example of how awesome my wife is and always will be. We should all be so fortunate to have someone this incredible in our lives. I know I'm lucky and blessed... 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yeah, We're Those Parents...

So, we became something that I swore we wouldn't this weekend...we became "those parents". You know the ones that I'm talking about. They have the kid, little Ms. Perfect or something, and she gets to do whatever she wants. This includes running around in public in nothing but a diaper. This just screams redneck...loudly.

Well, we did it one better this evening and added watermelon to the mix. Start with McKenzie, lose the dress, put her on display in the front yard with a piece of watermelon and here is what you get...


I really don't know what else to say...


We took some excellent video of this momentous occasion as well. Makes me proud to be a parent...

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Since it was already raining, we figured running around and playing on the slide couldn't hurt either. Diapers on display!

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So proud!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another Week in the Life...

Big week for the girls and everyone else...

Last weekend the girls got to go to the Creative Discovery Museum for Grayson's birthday party. This was the first trip for the girls and for me as well. Let me tell you, Saturday afternoon is a busy time at the museum. Lots of people everywhere! The girls handled it pretty well though. There weren't any meltdowns that I can remember and that's a good thing!

Here are some pictures of the festivities...







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On Sunday, we went to Rosie's Ice Cream in Soddy Daisy. They were donating money to pay for scholarships to Camp Lookout. We figured we could support them by eating some hot dogs and ice cream. The girls enjoyed both quite a bit. Here are a few pictures and a couple of videos of their antics.



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On the way home from getting ice cream, Lindsey decided to sing with the girls. McKenzie expressed her feelings about her talents.


This week at daycare has been Vacation Bible School. This means that the girls got to go every day but only from 9 - noon. Kids come out of the woodwork for this week so the parking and pickup was a nightmare.

The girls made new friends though. I found out that McKenzie took up with a boy on Tuesday. I met the young lad on Wednesday. We had a nice little chat regarding expectations and limits. Even though he was only 14 months old, I think he got it.

One evening this week we were playing in the front yard. Lindsey pulled out one of the girl's old car seats to clean it up a little bit. The girls became very interested in checking it out.



They also decided to play with their new water bottles from Gigi. Molly had it figured out pretty well but McKenzie constantly squirted herself in the face. It was pretty funny.


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So, that has been our week. More fun and games expected...

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Friday, July 9, 2010

The Lookouts!

So, this evening the girls got to go to their second Chattanooga Lookouts game. There was a bit of rain earlier in the afternoon that knocked the temperature down from the mid-90's down to the mid-70's. That's a good thing...

Here are some pictures of the festivities...


That's a picture of the girls enjoying their first ballpark hotdog. Nothing like paying $3 for something you have at home that cost $0.25...

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Another First...

Tonight the girls had another first...their first ice cream cone! Molly had no issues tearing through most of hers. McKenzie didn't want to bite the cone for some reason. Molly treated hers more like a milkshake and drank the ice cream out of the cone.

Here are a couple of pictures...



So there we have it. One more thing off the checklist...

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Picture is worth 1000 words....

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning Something New...

Molly and McKenzie decided that it was time to learn how to jump up and down. That Elmo didn't do a very good job teaching them how to do it right...

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Lindsey!

Holy moley…a real update to the blog? Could it possibly be? Yes! It is!

Just in time for Lindsey’s birthday, I decided to post an update to the blog covering the last, wow, 6 months… That’s pretty ridiculous but here we go…

So, the last time we were together, Molly had just gotten out of the hospital for a fun RSV infection. It was not much fun for any of us but it leads us to some more fun a few months later. More on that in a minute.

So, the weekend after we get Molly out of the hospital, it decides to seriously snow in Chattanooga. We ended up with something like 8” of the white stuff for the girls to play in. Here are a few pictures of the fun.



You’ll notice grandma in that last picture. She was able to come down before the weather got really bad. She was solo since gramps was baking in the sun down in Guatemala on a coffee tour. Rough life…

Next up was Valentine’s Day. This was really the first time the girls were able to open presents for themselves and kinda understood that this stuff was for them. They got a bunch of new books as well as their then favorite snack Goldfish.





The first of March brought our 15 month checkups. The girls stayed pretty much right on track. Molly was 22 lbs 12 oz (50%), 31.5 in tall (75%) and McKenzie was 20 lb 10 oz (10-20%) and 32 in tall (75%).

Here’s something new for Molly. She started sleeping like this for some unknown reason…

At least she looks relaxed and comfortable.

One other thing to notice about that picture is the pacifier. I’m pretty sure that is the last picture we have of either girl with a pacifier in their mouths. As a birthday present to me, Lindsey decided that the girls were going to lose their pacifiers. Now, looking back on it, the whole process went really well. There were just a few loooooong nights of crying but I think we only gave in one night. They still notice other kids with pacifiers but I don’t think that they really miss them.

Next it was time for Easter. We spent a few days up in Maryville hanging out with friends and family. The girls got to go to the cabin and have an Easter Egg hunt. Here are some pictures of the fun.




We also hung out with my family a bit. The week before Easter, the girls did their first real Easter Egg hunt. Didn’t really know what to do with the eggs other than pick them up. Who cares about the candy? Molly did really well by finding a prize egg that got her some sidewalk chalk!






By the end of March, we graduated from our high chairs to booster seats. Now we can all et at the table and make huge messes everywhere!


Check out McKenzie’s strawberry. It’s bigger than her fist!

The girls continued to do strange and weird things. Here they are all tarted up in ballerina pajamas and wearing our crowns.


McKenzie tried out a new hairdo…I’m not sure if it was successful or not.

Molly eating greens...

About this time, we’ve made it all the way to the middle of April. We discovered something interesting about McKenzie: apparently, she feels no pain…

One of the kids at their daycare decided to bite both Molly and McKenzie. Neither one of the girls cried. McKenzie got 3 bites to show for it. Still slightly bruised even today. The last time we were in Maryville a few weeks ago, McKenzie got stung by a wasp on her wrist. She just kinda shook it and never made a sound. Tough kid…

The end of April had Molly going back to the hospital for her testing with Dr. Screws and Dr. Ledbetter. She had a few scopes done and then spent the night to have a pH probe test done. We won’t talk about how crappy of a hospital stay this was…

Here are some pictures of Molly getting ready for the procedures…


And a movie of her on the happy juice…

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And a picture of her after all the procedures and with the pH probe and monitor. She’s really happy here…

The results of the tests really didn’t tell us a whole lot. Just more watch and see what happens. She should grow out of it, in a few years. The only issue is that it will make her more susceptible to colds. This is part of the reason why she ended up in the hospital back in January.

Fast forward and now we’re in May. Warmer months mean sprinkler time!


We also got to go on a boat ride! Gramps and grandma came down and we went on the Southern Belle Riverboat. It was a lot of fun and we got to cruise the river for a few hours.

We had our 18 month checkup the middle of May. Everything still looks pretty good. Molly was 24 lb 4oz (50%) 32 in tall (50%) and McKenzie was 21 lb 8 oz (10%) and 33 in tall (90%). Tall and skinny for McKenzie.

The end of May was Memorial Day. Our Sunday School class did a retreat up at Camp Lookout. I would say that the girls had a pretty good time. They are definitely outdoor babies. They wanted to be involved in everything that was going on. Here are a few pictures of the festivities.





And now we’re all the way to June…

We went to Maryville the middle of the month to visit with a bunch of Lindsey’s family. Most of them live way far away and had not even met the girls yet. We spent a weekend hanging out at the cabin. It was much cooler up there on the mountain. The girls had a lot of fun playing with everything and going swimming in the lake. Trying to get them to sleep at the cabin was rough. McKenzie figured out that she could use the bedspread on the bed next to her pack and play to pull herself out. That was fun.




We also had our follow-up appointment for McKenzie with Dr. Oakes in Birmingham. We had a CT scan and met with the doctor for a bit. He still thinks everything looks fine even though the place where the cyst was is still very apparent. Here is a short video of the CT scan.

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He says we can come back in a year but if everything looks good they might not even do a CT. I’m not sure I want to drive to Birmingham and back just for a 20 minute doctor’s appointment.

This past weekend, Lindsey’s parents and sister came to town for a visit. We went downtown to the Aquarium and got to play in the fountains. Here are some pictures of that fun…




And finally, that brings us to now. It was Lindsey’s birthday yesterday. We all decided to go out and have some ice cream to celebrate. Here are some pictures of the girls enjoying their first rainbow sherbet.



And that’s it for now…happy birthday to Lindsey! Look forward to some more timely updates as the summer goes on.

Til later…

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