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We Found Gold – Part 1

This was not OUR ship, but another seemingly sailing straight towards us. Obviously, he took a turn.

Another Way for week of September 13, 2019

We Found Gold – Part 1

After serious saving and waiting approximately five years, my husband and I were finally able to visit Alaska in August.

The Christmas of 2015 we told our kids not to give us gifts for Christmas but maybe give money towards an Alaska trip. The yen to go far north started for my husband a number of years ago when his father visited Alaska with his second wife who had relatives there (his first wife died in 1973). So we longed for the opportunity to also explore America’s “last frontier.”

Flag of our 49th state, at a real gold mine, Gold Dredge #8.

Alaska has a limited season for warmish tourist travel, (the prime time is really just mid-June to mid-September at latest), so that’s not a big window working around family schedules and priorities. We planned to travel with Stuart’s brothers, our sister-in-law, and a friend, so meshing all our family birthdays, events, and medical issues meant wondering “will we ever be able to pull this off”?

For one thing, Stuart and I wanted to wait until we retired so we wouldn’t burn two weeks of vacation days on one trip; then our middle daughter was expecting her second child the middle of one summer; then my brother-in-law’s youngest daughter was planning an early September wedding—not a good summer for parents of the bride to go on a big trip; finally last September our oldest daughter was expecting a third baby, and we needed and wanted to be around in case the baby came early. Plus the other grandma had already booked an Alaska trip last September and likely would not be around to help with the baby and older sons, and one of Stuart’s brothers was also scheduled for major surgery. So all that meant we waited. I doubt we’re alone with these kinds of issues at our ages.

We spent many hours together over the winter and spring planning for the trip with my brother-in-law here, and my sister-in-law. Here they're not trip planning but Barbara was figuring out if she would ever enjoy doing Soduku puzzles. The answer? (What do you see on her face?)

We spent many hours together over the winter planning for the trip with my brother-in-law here, and my sister-in-law. Here they’re not trip planning but Barbara was figuring out if she would ever enjoy doing Soduku puzzles like Nolan. The answer? (What do you see on her face?)

But this summer we finally got “our” turn, and as we began planning in January there were many worries about “what if this or that happens” filling our darker hours wondering if the long anticipated trip would actually come true. There were particular health concerns among our party of six so trip insurance was an absolute must. All of us held our breath as the summer edged closer to departure. I watched my steps very carefully: no falls please!

On the morning of August 12, I pinched myself to feel it was real. I thought back to the western camping trip my parents promised us when we were kids, which we began planning in 1959. They said, (wisely in retrospect), “We’ll all save up our money and when Nancy graduates from high school in 1964, we’ll go out west for about six weeks.” We were immediately excited and ready to go, but all four kids groaned that five years was way too long to wait and that we’d be “too old.” By trip time, we ranged in age from nine to 17: smart parents to plan such a trip that we would all be able to remember. So we were old enough to not pinch each other and fight on long miles in the back seat.

Glacier Bay, with some of the best weather we experienced.

My parents gave us the gift of visiting many states and national parks, and a treasury of family bonds and memories. While my parents knew it was important to be old enough, for this Alaska trip we travelers knew at ages 65-71, it was important to go now, before we got TOO old.

Speaking of long miles, fast forward to 2019 as our group of six flew from Washington D.C. to

A bush pilot illustrating landing on a river: a necessity for getting around in Alaska for those who live in certain areas. No, we did not ride one of these to Alaska!

Denver, and then on to Fairbanks, Alaska. The flight from Denver to Fairbanks was over five and a half hours and none of us purchased extra legroom (not even the six-foot-four guy wearing a huge leg boot). I was ready to pinch my husband at times to move his arm over, but finally adjusted to a posture where my shoulder got its space too.

Next time, I’ll share some of the high spots, low moments, and biggest learnings of this particular trip. And how we found gold, both the literal and the sentimental kind. I think we appreciate things more we have to work hard for and wait on, agree?

 

***

I’d love to hear about a trip you were delighted to take. Or you memories of a childhood trip to which you looked forward. Or perhaps one you’re planning now!

 

Share here! Or send comments or questions to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or write to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

***
Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.

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Whitewater Moments, Inspired by a Photo

Another Way for week of August 30, 2919

Whitewater Moments, Inspired by a Photo

With summer winding down very quickly now, I hope you are as full of special and even magical summer moments as I am.

Photo of a photo: from l to r: Stuart; nephew Jamie; sis-in-law Debbe; brother Terry, in front, red hat; nephew Jeremy; yours truly; sister Pert; in back ex-bro-in-law–still a family friend–Stan and navigator for the day.

When I was at my mother’s retirement apartment this July, an old photo brought back a very special moment and trip when our extended family (my siblings, parents, and grandchildren) went on our very first whitewater rafting trip, circa 1990. We ventured out on the pretty rambunctious Nantahala River in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. I would say enjoyed, but not everyone experienced the fast-moving river equally!

First of all, my parents weren’t up to it—just like now I don’t think my husband and I are quite up to it anymore. Also, the children under the age of eight were not allowed on that level of rapids, so Grandpa and Grandma took them on some other touristy outings nearby. Over the years, many us were thrilled to navigate four different U.S. rivers with various groupings of family members.

That first trip, we were all quite green except maybe my then-brother-in-law who apparently looked strong and river-wise enough to be appointed as navigation guide on our particular raft.

In the photo, all of our faces tell stories. I stared at Mom’s photo for quite a while, taken professionally by the rafting company. It brings back a flood of emotions from the trip, and memories of family. Those photos always cost an arm and a leg of course, but they mean so much later.

In the picture, I’m sitting near the front of the raft, oar in hand but leaning back as we were told to do when riding a large rapid. My mouth is wide open: not in horror or fear, but in glee for the adrenaline rush and amazement that we were in real whitewater. One sister is right behind me, and while she looks happy and excited, she looks a bit calmer—I think she had done river rafting before—certainly had many more outdoor adventurous trips than I. My youngest brother and my husband were at the very front of the raft, and their faces reflect more serious caution, perhaps because as fathers and husbands, they were feeling the weight of what we had gotten ourselves into. Would we all come out ok? Not hurt? All alive? Those thoughts passed through all of our minds at times, I know, except maybe the two children in the middle of the raft. Another raft held other cousins and another sister and her husband.

My two nephews—my brother’s only sons—have pure happiness on their faces; they did not need to help do the heavy lifting of rowing the raft (the older one may have held an oar, but he didn’t have the strength his dad or uncles had). His younger brother and the youngest on the raft, about age nine, is totally protected in the middle of the boat and just along for the fun—reflected on his face. Back of him is his mother—my sister-in-law, whose face speaks volumes. She told us later she was praying the whole time, “Dear-God-if-you-get-us-out-of-this-I-will-never-try-this-again.” She was a great sport. My brother-in-law at the very rear also had quite a serious look, reflecting probably the weight of his responsibility to help us steer the craft safely through the waters.

We did make it securely off the river although in the years to come, had some close scrapes where some of us slipped out of a raft and downriver, but safely recovered and climbed back in. I must add that in retrospect, and knowing a young man who did die rafting a Colorado river, I am ever more grateful for the safety we experienced as we rowed in God’s amazing and awe-inspiring world. God imagined and created an outdoor world that beckons and begs us to love and care for it, recognizing not only the majesty of nature, but the mind and Being behind it all.

***

Have you had any white knuckle moments—whether on whitewater or not?

Share your stories here, we’d love to hear. 🙂

Or send comments to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

Howling Monkeys: Adventures in Central America

Another Way for week of August 23, 2019

Howling Monkeys: Adventures in Central America

Guest Columnist Merle Headings

Editor’s Note: Second of two parts by Merle Headings, a pilot who made flying mission trips to Central America for Christian organizations in the late 70s and early 80s. Read Part 1 here.

The village of Sayaxche Petén on the Pasion River was our destination for this mission. Sayaxche had a small 3,000 foot jungle grass runway, a little hard to find in the middle of the jungle. There were no signs of an air strip, no control tower or pavement, not even a windsock or runway lights.

Since I had landed there a number of times, I knew what to look for. I lined up with the south end of the air strip and made a pass at about 50 feet above the ground (this is what we called sweeping the runway, to let the residents know to get animals off the air strip so we could land). It was after four p.m., and time, daylight, and energy were running out. People came to the grassy runway to see who had come to their town.

We had certainly landed in another world. To keep the plane safe, Brother Melvin High arranged for two boys to sleep under the plane wing at night for the next 12 days for a few dollars. Then he hired a truck taxi to take us to the river, and a canoe for the four hour river trip to the missionary clinic. By 5 p.m., we loaded every precious item into a large, wooden canoe. They gave us instructions in Spanish to hold still and not move around—which we had no problem understanding. The pitifully humming boat motor was steered by our native canoe captain. Would this worn canoe and motor make the trip?

Carmen and Anita took in all the sights, noises and strange scents as the canoe smoothly moved along. Soon darkness fell. We could no longer see the muddy river. Here and there lights twinkled on the banks of the river. Sometimes our canoe met other boats with a flashlight or song to warn their presence.

What a glorious sight to finally see a few shining lights from the clinic. The missionary doctor, Elam Stoltzfus and his family were eagerly waiting our arrival. They helped us carry everything from the boat to the clinic grounds, where a generator provided light in the home The hospitality of our hosts was warm and welcoming, making us feel like honored guests. Carmen and Anita made friends with June, the teenage daughter. After talking for a few hours, the girls, Brother High and I were in need of a good night’s sleep. The girls slept on pallets in one of the rooms in the clinic and the rest of us had beds in another building. No electricity or indoor bathrooms at this resort. Not even the strange jungle noises did not keep us up.

The early morning sun soon called us out of bed. Outside, two beautiful pet Macaw parrots were gossiping back and forth. The jungle tree tops were home for many wild Macaws. We had seen parrots perched in the tops of the trees along the river bank.

The damp morning jungle air carried the smell of coffee. The girls were not too sure about this adventure of eating strange food in a strange place with strangers. They thought about skipping breakfast and eating somewhere else. I told them this was their only choice and they should at least make an appearance. At the make shift pavilion, shy and petite native women greeted us as they cooked over a fire. There was sweet coffee in a big black kettle and some jungle bread frying on a large piece of tin. The jungle bread was rationed out and with thankful hearts, we ate. Jungle dining etiquette was our next lesson of the day. While the setting was easy and relaxed, deep respect and gratitude for our cooks was evident. We felt honored to take a seat at the table, be served, and eat the prepared meal. Every guest was expected to be very mannerly. We greeted each other and carried on polite conversation as we ate. It didn’t take long to finish the coffee and bread. My girls and I followed the example of others and said “gracias” as we left.

The forenoon was spent taking a tour of the clinic grounds with Guatemalans visiting the clinic in need of medical aid. We enjoyed a lunch of black beans and jungle coffee. Too soon the sounds of the jungle night life started up again: amid camp fires and fragrant flowers, a piercing scream echoed through the jungle and seemed to land right at the clinic grounds. My girls were quite frightened. They learned this screaming was just the howling monkeys talking to each other. With flashlights, we found our beds, said good night, and listened to the eerie sounds.

Eleven days later when we returned to the U.S. from this mission trip, we thanked the Lord for his many blessings and safekeeping. The plane on this trip logged a total of 15 hours. Considering it was a newly rebuilt engine with only 14 hours logged, we were truly blessed.

***

Much more of this experience is written in a small booklet, “Adventures to Central America,” by Merle Headings and two of his daughters, Carmen and Anita. For the entire book by email, write to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com. Or send comments or questions to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

***

What did you learn or experience in a new or different culture? What would you tell others?

***

One agency offering a variety of helpful and well planned short and long term mission work is Mennonite Mission Network, an organization I was connected to in various ways over many years. See their work and opportunities in Christian service.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Small Plane Adventure to Central America – Guest post by Merle Headings

[We were “off grid” for two glorious weeks so playing catch up here.]
Another Way for week of August 16, 2019

Small Plane Adventure to Central America

Guest column by Merle Headings

Editor’s Note: First of two columns by Merle Headings, who flew missions to Central America for Christian organizations. Columnist Melodie Davis also once flew with Merle on a youth group trip.

Merle Headings photo.

We lived in the Rio Grande valley of Texas for six years in the late 1970’s and early 80’s working with missionaries stationed along the southern border near McAllen, Texas. Four of us pilots regularly flew to Mexico and Central America, each with our own plane. Mine was a red and white Piper Comanche, which could fly 180 miles per hour. Most of the time the planes were filled with people and their belongings, but on this twelve-day trip to Guatemala, there was room to take two of my daughters, Carmen and Anita.

In February 1979, I received a message from a missionary doctor and his clinic, urgently requesting supplies in the deep jungles of northern Guatemala. We located and purchased the items on his list: a new chain saw and parts to fix old chainsaws; tractor parts for their old farm tractor; six different kinds of hand tools; and grocery items they could not get in Guatemala. I began to wonder if all this was going to fit in our plane.

The trip was sponsored by “The Flame of Truth” founders, Melvin and Anna High. Brother High (still ministering today at 90) was invited to speak at a conference being held at a missionary clinic located on the Pasión River.

Anita and Carmen, back seat of plane, 1979. [Photo from Merle Headings]

Early February 28 with the car packed full of supplies, tools, luggage, passports, and flight maps, my wife Verna drove us to the McAllen airport. Our big white bird was ready to be packed, fueled up, and prayed over. While Brother High, Carmen and Anita stuffed the cargo into the four-seat plane, I checked the weather and filed an international flight plan to Guatemala City, with a fuel stop in Veracruz, Mexico. When I got back to the plane, my crew was smiling. The baggage compartment was beyond full. I didn’t dare open that door but I did give it one good bump to make sure it was secure. What didn’t fit in the baggage compartment, went behind and under the back seat. Carmen and Anita would have to share their seats and foot space with the supplies.

The plane was soon in the air and across the Rio Grande river, leaving the U.S. into the wild blue yonder over Old Mexico. With Brother High’s hands soon on the controls, I radioed and activated our flight plan. Nothing looks better to a pilot than a clear day with a nice beach under the wing for the next three hours.

Carmen and Anita were seasoned flyers. Growing up with a pilot father, they had logged many trips. After a few hours, they were beginning to be hungry and in need of a stretch. I said Veracruz was about 40 miles out where we would land soon. After landing, two uniformed men walked toward us and welcomed us to Central America. In broken English, the airport officials asked how long we were staying and if we were U.S. citizens. They looked inside the packed plane, and thankfully did not ask to see the luggage department. After their inspection, I went to get our papers in order and pay for fuel. The girls had gone with Mr. High to order food. Our schedule was tight and we needed to keep moving if we were going to make it all the way to the missionary clinic in the heart of the Guatemala jungle—a four-hour canoe trip on the Pasión River after our long flights.

In short order, we took off. Our flight path soon took us away from the beautiful shore line and over the jungles of southern Mexico. I knew there would be mountains to get over so I climbed to 13,500 feet above the clouds where the mountains were poking up. At two p.m. we landed for another break. Everyone was ready to stretch, breath fresh air, find food, and move on.

While we were getting out of the plane, two Guatemalan officials greeted us. This time they wanted the luggage compartment opened and I thought they were after something. They told me I had to get a cart and bring everything to the terminal. I told them that it was so well packed that it would be very hard to get it all back in and I wasn’t going to bring it in. I went and sat down and looked at a magazine. (I had played the waiting game before in past trips over Central America.) In about ten minutes, the uniformed men came over, gave me my papers and said I was free to go. Thank God! With no time to spare, everyone loaded up with drinks and snacks and again we were in the air headed for the jungles of northern Guatemala. (To be continued.)

“Adventures to Central America,” is a small booklet by Merle Headings and two daughters, Carmen and Anita. For the book by email, write to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com. Or send comments or questions to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

How Children Grow—Especially the Brain

Another Way for week of August 9, 2019

How Children Grow—Especially the Brain

Our two oldest grandsons start real school as kindergartners this August. My mother told me recently she cried when her oldest grandchild, Larry, started school. I was a little surprised.

Perhaps my mom was also recalling her oldest daughter, Nancy, as a very young first grader (age 5, we had no kindergarten), missing the bus and deciding to walk home from school one day. We lived four miles away from town. She bravely started out, all alone, and walked at least a half mile before someone who knew our family distantly, saw her walking, picked her up, and carried her safely home. A small miracle itself.

I don’t think I’ll be weepy, since ours don’t live nearby, but going to school is a monumental step, for sure, even when they’ve been going to daycare and preschool most of their young lives.

When you think about all they’ve managed to “conquer” in five, almost six years since they made their way into the world and our anxious arms, it is nothing short of astonishing. Our grandsons could at first only lay there, look around, and cry if wet, tired, or hungry.

They soon learned to hold up their heads, communicate purposefully with their cries and behavior, sit up, crawl, walk, and talk. And now they are reading, even before starting school. These boys were born in September and November, and as with many other parents, their families decided it was better to start real school at almost 6 rather than almost 5.

So what have YOU or I mastered in the past five years? Anything as remarkable as all that?

From helpless one-day-olds, they can now engage in thoughtful conversation and great questions beyond the endless why’s. They have both certainly been read to for untold hours, and have patient, loving, intelligent parents.

The brain alone grows greatly in the first five years: A website on early childhood development says “At birth, the average baby’s brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain.” Did you know the brain doubles in size that first year and it is nearly 90 percent of its mature size by age five?

Me carefully holding my one day old grandson.

I found this even more fascinating: “A newborn baby has all of the brain cells (neurons) they’ll have for the rest of their life, but it’s the connections between these cells that really make the brain work.” I had known that it is these brain connections that help us move and think as well as communicate: pretty much everything we do. “The early childhood years are crucial for making these connections. At least one million new neural connections (synapses) are made every second, more than at any other time in life.” This is one reason our daughters and their husbands have chosen to not let their children watch much TV or videos. (From https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/early-childhood-matters/brain-development/)

So yes, the mental growth of children by age five is just incredible. I’ve also been thinking about what kind of world their children and their grandchildren will inherit or face: it is almost impossible to fathom the new technologies they will see and use. I certainly never thought of or imagined the many gadgets and tools we take for granted today. In my 16 years of formal education, I went from pencils and chalkboard to a huge computing machine at college (circa 1971) where we made punchcards using “Fortran” to enter data on the machine. Teachers went from old style non-digital overhead projectors using plastic sheets to write on, to video projectors plus whiteboards and smartboards.

The early years of learning are just fascinating, and thrilling to live through again through the eyes and experiences of the grandchildren. Not everyone is so lucky, I know, but most of us have children we can connect with at times through volunteer work, babysitting, neighbors, siblings with children or grandchildren, the nursery at church, or as an aide at school. Or offer foster care. Take time to appreciate, learn from, and enjoy any children in your life!

 

I’d be happy to send you one or several “Guidelines for Parents” postcards from the historic “Heart to Heart” radio program by Ella May Miller. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelop to Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or request by email from anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com .

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

The Rewards of Hosting Cousin Camp

Another Way for week of August 2, 2019

The Rewards of Hosting Cousin Camp

H enjoying watermelon at Joe’s fishing and hunting cabin.

The last in a four-part series on “Learnings from Cousin Camp”

I hope our young grandsons will have memories of cousin camp that stick with them the rest of their lives—if only fuzzy and distant and prodded by pictures. That might be a stretch for H, the three-and-a-half-year-old, but I think most of us have memories from the time we were five so I’m sure S and J will remember some highlights.

And these are some of mine:

  • Although young H was scared of the lightning bugs, I allowed J to go out on the porch with me to see the sea of lights in our hayfield. He took his breath in at the sight of the fireflies and said something like ah. I said “Don’t you have fireflies where you live?” He said, “A few, but not like here.”
  • H being able to put into words why he was so distraught during the Paddington 2 movie.
  • Hearing that S told his mommy he had learned how to lick envelopes to stay shut.
  • J’s excitement over eating his very first ice cream cone. His parents had not been able to find gluten free cones where they lived but I found some in my local Food Lion and he was ecstatic. (And yes, the sugar buzz lasted a little while for all three boys.)
  • S’s mimicking professional baseball players to a T: in stance, pitcher windup, and catcher squat, even though he mainly plays T-ball.

    See light of ceiling solar tube in this photo that J. couldn’t turn off.

  • My amusement when J came out of one of our bathrooms that have solar tubes in the ceiling (special tube—non-electric—which magnifies sunlight exponentially, making a very bright light). He said “I tried and tried to turn that light off but it won’t go off!”
  • H still loving to cuddle his pet zebra Zsa Zsa on swing or couch.
  • S running (almost without looking) in the drive-thru lane at Chick-Fil-A to jump up and embrace his daddy when the week was up.
  • J’s laser focus on the Bingo caller as we played real Bingo at a Rockingham County lawn party for the first time.
  • Enjoying the older boys’ new interest in family pictures hanging on the walls, asking about “who is this?” and hearing more about them.

And here’s my list of “wish we had done this” or to do next time (check out Shirley Showalter’s post about their experiences).

  • Plan a picture day or at least 5 minutes to take some really good pictures of the whole group.
  • Have a list of more chores they need to do in order to earn good behavior points and a small prize at the end.

Overall, we learned to know them so much better – their likes and dislikes and the nuances of who was able to laugh at funny stunts in a movie, who got sad, who paid attention to names of roads, who pretends to like snakes.

At the end of the week, I felt depleted, energy sapped. It made me remember those points as a young mom when I felt like jumping in the minivan and driving off, and then after refocusing on my many gifts and blessings, feeling more grateful and in control of my emotions again.

As grandparents, we walk a fine line between letting them enjoy grandparent love and leeway—and holding up parental standards and rules so they don’t become unruly monsters. But this was such a privilege and I hope we have many more highlights and special moments as the years fly by too fast.

What have you enjoyed or learned in your own experiences in hosting grandchildren,

or memories from when you visited your own grandparents.

 

Can you spot the two extra local “second” cousins here who came over for dinner one night?

For a copy of all four columns on “Learnings from Cousin Camp,” you can write or email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834 and I’ll send it to you by mail or email.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.   

Don’t Try This Alone: Why Help May Be Essential

Another Way for week of July 26, 2019

Don’t Try This Alone: Why Help May Be Essential

The third in a four-part series on “Learnings from Cousin Camp” by columnist Melodie Davis.

Wednesday was the day of our big outing for the week: a trip to Riven Rock Park in nearby mountains. The rustic park has the chilly and clear Dry Run (stream) running through it, a place we frequently enjoyed as a young family with three daughters. One time before we knew better (of how to access it), we climbed down a steepish bank on one side—each of us with a toddler in our arms and the oldest girl hoofing it safely down on her own. They always enjoyed rock hopping, hunting for minnows and crawdads, and we usually took a picnic lunch.

Reading our young campers the riot act before venturing out to the river.

S and Grandpa with the crawdad!

Friend Joe helps our little bit squeamish camper H with his fish.

Grandpa and Henry working the little digger Grandpa welded long ago for our daughters.

Grandpa supervises a “sword fight” with leftover “clappers.”

Grandpa helps J. put together his wooden car project while H watches.

J, at bat and S, pitching working on their baseball skills.

Super helper Aunt Doreen loves her nephews very much.

Now visiting this favorite place with our three oldest grandsons S, J, and H, (ages five, and three-and-a-half), I’m glad we had three adults watching over them. Earlier in this series I mentioned their Aunt Doreen came to help us out. This was one day we needed all hands on deck—or rocks as it were. As I made the boys sit down to go over our safety rules, I emphasized that they needed to listen to Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Doreen because sometimes children in these settings in the wilderness have wondered off and gotten lost, drowned, or hurt. They seemed properly awed, but not scared off. All of them take swimming lessons, so they know the dangers of water. The water was moving quite fast.

We eventually spotted crawdads and minnows: pretty hard for little ones to find, flitting around their feet, but finally they did! Aunt Doreen ultimately captured a crawdad in a cup, so she and S waded back to show Grandpa (who doesn’t have the agility he used to have). He was keeping watch over our picnic basket, cooler, and open car.

I was very glad Grandpa could be as involved as he was the rest of the week—despite his mobility issues. He and Doreen took the boys fishing at a friend’s pond—leaving me home alone to luxuriate in a quiet house as I made several dishes for the wider family group that came over that evening. Toward the end of the week when I was nearing the end of my rope and creativity, he blew bubbles with them, but the bubbles were hard to get sailing on a very still morning. So we scratched that in favor of a water fight with large plastic water blasters and football stadium noisemakers—the things fans clap at a game to make a lot of noise. We got out the digger Stuart made long ago, and they learned how to operate its shovel in the garden. We ended up cancelling the trip to the local pool, feeling we all needed a low key day at home. Plus Doreen had to get back to her job.

Overall, it took three of us reading books, giving baths, picking up toys, helping with shoes (some were too small, some too new to easily slip on small feet), keeping dishes washed and food cooked. We managed to keep the three of them mostly happy, mostly dry, and mentally challenged. In the future I may try a four-day camp if feasible, unless we again have good “extra” help lined up! After raising three daughters, managing three grandsons for 6-7 days (with no parents present) is a fun but exhausting challenge. No one got sick—either homesick or the other kind, not one got really hurt (thankfully!), and we had only a few bathroom mishaps. There was no major fighting, just a few disagreements on whether to play soccer or baseball, who could sit where at the dining room table, and who got which kid plates. J willingly gave up his chosen evening reading book one night, (a Berenstain Bear volume on scary dreams) when Grandma pointed out that it may be too scary for the three-year-old right before bedtime.

As adult cousins and siblings, we don’t always agree and also get irked at one another, eh? The kids helped each other too: sometimes figuring out the ins and outs of their various car seats faster than Grandpa and Grandma. Next week I’ll share the rewards we found from this very special week.

Remember, we all need each other—and everything goes better with love.

 

For a copy of all four columns on “Learnings from Cousin Camp,” you can write or email me and I’ll send it to you by mail or email when the series is finished. Write to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.   

 

 

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