Clifty Falls 2014

It’s Memorial Day weekend and time for our annual, multi-generational, multi-family camping extravaganza at Clifty Falls State Park. We left Milwaukee about 7pm on Thursday night just moments before a house showing (our house has not sold yet – please pray that we sell it soon!). We followed tradition and stopped for dinner at Steak ‘n Shake in Gurnee, Illinois. We ate dinner in the car, and Gwen seemed very agitated about the fact that Everett wasn’t sharing his food with her. She is getting to the point where almost all she wants to eat is table food! We drove to the La Quinta at the south end of Indianapolis. One big difference on this trip was that Everett was so tired he barely woke up as Chris carried him in and got him settled into bed. The babies did not make the transition as smoothly. Teddy was pretty upset, then he was in bed with us for a while, but eventually everyone got settled down.

On Friday morning we got up around 8:40am and scrambled to get to breakfast before it closed at 9am. The woman who was serving it told us to take our time, and that she wasn’t taking any food away. She was really nice and accommodating, even as Gwen was throwing handfuls of Cheerios on the floor. We got on the road and a couple hours later stopped at Walmart in Madison for snacks and treats, then at The Red Pepper to pick up Vampire Slayers for the adults and a PBJ for Everett. We made it to camp about midday.
Clifty Campsite Panorama

Everett experienced a high degree of independence this year compared to previous years. He is a responsible kid, and he is diligent about letting us know where he is going, but even so we repeatedly realized that we didn’t know exactly where he was. One obvious cause is the amount of time and energy that the babies require. Melissa and Chris recently acknowledged the feeling that our job is only half done when we get one baby calmed down, fed and clean. We also acknowledged how often we tell Everett he has to wait for our attention because of the babies’ schedule and needs. However, both the babies and Everett benefited from the older children at camp. The babies got lots of attention from adults and children alike. We spread the red blanket on the ground and they did something they never do at home: they stayed on it for long periods of time. Many of the children including Everett, Trinity, Anna and Amelia sat by the blanket and played with them.

Traditional camp activities included the piñata, a hike to the pool, making bubbles, Saturday night barbecue and listening to the Indianapolis 500 on the radio.
We also celebrated several wedding anniversaries: Jenny and Matt (20 years), Julie and Bill (17 years), Grant and Judy (45 years this year), Matt and Katy (1 year).

This was the babies’ first time camping and the tent seemed unfamiliar to them but they adjusted to it after a while. Going to sleep was not quite as smooth as it has been at home. Cress lent us the super-deluxe tent that he and Amanda often stay in. This allowed us to have our entire family in one tent, including a pack and play for each baby.

On Saturday night at bedtime Chris asked Everett “Did you guys hit it pretty hard today?”. Everett replied “We hit it super, super soft.” This is an interesting interpretation because as far as we could tell he hadn’t stopped moving since we arrived the day before. The kids were constantly in motion: running, bicycling, having water fights, making bubbles, etc. Everett told Chris that he felt cold the night before, so Chris gave him the down sleeping bag and got him tucked in, then showed him how to put your pillow into the pocket at the top of the bag so it stays put during the night. Afterward Chris asked “Wow, it looks pretty cozy in there! Can I have some cozy?” Everett replied “No!”, then “Hold on.” He opened an imaginary jar, put it in his sleeping bag and made glug glug glug sounds as he filled it up. Then he poured the jar on Chris’ sleeping bag and said “There! And here’s two drops of love.” That kid cracks us up!

There have been many firsts over the last week or two, some of them on this trip:
-Everett started riding a bike! Ross and Kiersten lent us a pair of training wheels, which Chris put on Everett’s bike on Friday morning. Everett seemed upset by this at first, but soon his curiosity took over and he gave it a try as Mom walked alongside him.
By Sunday morning he and Chris went on their first ride together!
-On Friday Trinity took Everett and several other of the younger children to the playground without any adults.
-On Sunday the babies got in the baby pool for the first time and seemed to love it. They also both realized at the same time that our bodies are not designed to breath water.
DSC_0456-A few days ago Gwen spontaneously started playing peek-a-boo. She picked up a napkin with both hands, held it over her head for a few moments and then threw her arms down to uncover her face. Of course, our enthusiastic reaction made her keep doing it over and over.
-Gwen and Teddy both wave to us now. They have different styles, and Gwen has been doing it much longer, but they both know their names and will sometimes wave if you call them.
-Teddy has discovered his voice. He often opens his mouth and makes sounds that can best be described as battle cries. He doesn’t appear upset, rather he seems to experience delight about this newfound power. Similarly, he seems delighted with his ability to stand. We mentioned before that he started pulling himself to a stand almost as soon as he learned to crawl. Melissa recently saw him standing in his crib while holding on with one finger and looking very pleased with himself. A few days later he started trying to stand in the middle of the floor with nothing nearby, or pulling himself to stand and then letting go for a few moments. Yes, times are changing for us.
-Gwen has started crawling, though only for a few moments at a time. More often she uses a transportation style that we have never seen: one leg is curled around behind her, one is curled around in front of her, and she slides her bottom along the floor with her arms. She and Teddy have both had a lot of face collisions with the floor while learning to crawl. These look very painful but the babies seem to recover quickly and keep trying almost immediately.

After a few years of raising Everett we have grown accustomed to his level of maturity and development, and in doing so it’s easy for us to forget all of the small accomplishments that children achieve along the way. These new abilities that the babies are developing are no less amazing with the second and third children than they were with the first.

On Saturday Chris received news that his grandfather had passed away the day before. This was not entirely a surprise – Chris’ Dad had called when we were driving down on Thursday night to tell us that Grandpa had an aspiration pneumonia, and that he probably was not going to make it much longer. Normally we drive to Cincinnati for a day after Clifty Falls, but Chris had to fly to Houston on Monday for the funeral service on Tuesday, so we drove straight home Sunday night. Everett was sound asleep within about 10 minutes and he slept pretty hard for the next two hours. So much for hitting it super soft!

Comments (2)

2 thoughts on “Clifty Falls 2014

  1. This was an eventful weekend; full of adventure. Thank you for filming and writing about it for our memories too. I think all the piñata treasures have been found, but there may still be many marshmallows left over from the marshmallow fight lying around the campground and in the trees.
    It was good you were able to be in Houston for your family.

  2. the La Quinta? reminds me of The La Trattoria from the movie Mickey Blue Eyes…

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