Thursday, June 25, 2009

Totally an Adventure

Last Sunday, we packed the van with the three Big Boys and all of their camp stuff and three of the younger children and all of their stuff and headed for SC. Destination: Nanny and PaPa's house! My sister was already there with her family for their annual summer vacation. We have started a new tradition of meeting there during the third week of June each summer for Operation Drop the Kids off at Camp! :)

It is always fun to see my sister and her family, as they live in Ohio, so we usually only see each other once a year. This picture is of my sister's husband, Burlin, and their daughter, Anna, enjoying some "downtime" together!

Monday morning we made the "required" pre-camp Wal-Mart run to get the things the campers needed or forgot! Then, Monday afternoon, we drove up to the Evangelical Institute (EI) and dropped off Taylor, Josh, Joe and Anna, for the Totally His Youth Conference. Unfortunately, Anna's sister, Amber, was not able to come this year, because she had to stay home (in Ohio) and earn money for college.

It is amazing how much stuff kids pack for a week at camp!!!!

One thing Rebecca and I have discovered these last two years is that it is a lot different dropping off boys at camp vs. dropping off girls. Boys grab their gear and toss it over their shoulders along with a, "See ya later, Mom," while girls need help carrying all their paraphernalia to their rooms, and they want Mom to stay and help get their beds made up, and make sure they are acclimated to their new surroundings before leaving them for a week. :)

It was great to get to see my daughter, Ashlyn, who is a counselor and also the official camp photographer for the week. She has created a Totally His blog to document the activities from the week, and to keep parents and friends informed, so I encourage you to check it out! I know I'm a bit prejudiced, but I think she does an incredible job of capturing the fun times as well as the spiritual elements of the week.

After dropping off our campers, my sister and I were off to have some adventures of our own!!! Notice that carefree smile on her face!! :)

Our first order of business was to stop by Starbucks! I discovered that Rebecca had never been there before, so I was on a mission to take her to Starbucks and treat her to a Skinny Mocha Frappuccino! It was the perfect thing to cool us off and give us an energy "boost" to complete the remaining items on our To Do List!

Next order of business was the BJU Christian Educator's Resource Market, where together we scoured the "Scratch and dent" shelves for bargain-priced BJU press textbooks and workbooks. I had my list, and Rebecca had a list for a friend, so we spent a good bit of time there, looking for all the needed homeschool materials, plus drooling over some miscellaneous items not on our lists!

Then, we headed back to Mom's house to take the younger children for a quick swim at the neighborhood pool before supper.

Tuesday we started the day with a trip to the neighborhood pool, since we knew they would be closing the pool for a swim meet at 1 pm. We could have walked over, but I drove over in the van and dropped everyone off, and then went to fill up the van with gas, before coming back to join them at the pool. We had a refreshing swim and I was reminded how LONG those lanes are in a regulation size pool, when I attempted swimming a few laps! I was soon panting for breath!! :o

Here are Abby, Hannah and Audrey on the way to the pool . . .

along with Luke and Ben . . .

Later that afternoon, after running some errands with our Dad, Rebecca and I headed back up to EI to take Anna some medicine she needed. I also wanted to sneak in a little visit with Ashlyn while we were there. It was to be a quick trip, but we were headed for an adventure that we did not anticipate!

When we got in the van to leave, eager to get the AC cranked up, we discovered that the van's battery was completely dead!!!! I could not believe this was happening! It was a dreadful deja vu from last year, when my alternator died on the way out of EI after one of the night sessions, and I had to drive down the dark, desolate, curvy road with NO headlights!! I don't know what it is about my van and EI, but they don't seem to get along!!!

A van with its hood up is a great way to attract attention from some nice, well-trained, young men, and we soon had help diagnosing and jumping off the van! After getting the van started, they pointed us in the direction of the nearest AutoZone to have the battery tested.

I don't understand why, but their tests were inconclusive, as to whether I needed a new batttery or a new alternator, so my Dad and Burlin encouraged us to just have them jump us off again and drive back to my parent's house where they would take a look at it, so that's what we did. After driving the van for thirty minutes to reach my parent's house, it still wouldn't crank after we turned it off. :( There was definitely something going on . . .

Eventually, it was decided that the best course of action was to take the van to the Ford place early Wednesday morning, since we had purchased a new Ford battery 12 months prior and it had a 36 month guarantee. I hoped it was just a defective battery, but in the end, it was determined that the alternator was bad, so the Ford place promptly replaced my alternator, and except for being $400 poorer and 3 hours later leaving for home, I was no worse for the wear. (I don't know about my sister though, it may be awhile before she wants to ride with me in the van again!!)

We loaded up the van, and I left my parent's house about 12:30 pm with three of my children and three of my sister's children; however, I had a few stops to make before we could actually get on the road. My main errand was an Aldi's run! Here you see us stocking up on low-priced groceries from Aldi!

They have several strategies for keeping costs low at Aldi, one of which is having the customer bag or box his own groceries. Another is requiring that you "rent" your cart for a quarter, which is returned to you when you return the cart to its place. It's really a good system.

After the Aldi's run and a stop at the Entennman's Bread outlet, we were ready to "put the pedal to the metal!" We headed south, trying to keep stops to a minimum. The children passed the six hour trip by eating snacks, listening to Jonathan Park CDs and taking turns watching movies on the portable DVD player. Here is a picture snapped on the way home. Don't worry -- I had my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road! My assistant, Abby, took this great photo!

The fun continues, so tomorrow I will post pictures of the Cousin's Great Adventures in Georgia!


Noel said...

I love your family adventures and how great to spend time with a sister - especially at Starbucks, yum :D

Rebecca's Refining said...

I enjoyed all of our adventures together! Thank you for my first starbucks "frapp"....I'm glad we don't have one nearby! I also enjoyed our lemonade....very refreshing. Of course, next time, I think we should order some chicken with that drink! I always look forward to our stops to the BJ bookstore as well....buying more than we probably should, but finding great buys on the clearance shelves. EI is always a fun adventure...I love watching the eager, excited campers take off for a week of camp! It is a toss up as to which one will be the first to call about some "forgotten" item! I am thankful that my sister is so devoted to my spiritual growth, as she goes out of her way to test my faith and contentment in all circumstances!! Thanks for a great few days! Love you.

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