Let’s Hear it For the Boys

Let’s Hear it For the Boys

Hanging out with the boys at Cousin’s Camp leaves me in a perpetual state of gigliness. Say what? Giggliness isn’t a word. Darn it, spellcheck! Get your act together. Hmmm…let me try again. 

Hanging out with the boys at Cousin’s Camp gives me a huge case of the smiles. I love the boys. Number one: I love the woods and the boys love the woods.

Clarkson Covered Bridge

Some of the girls love the woods too but are very much still in the ‘well, I’m not going if she’s not going’ stage.

Number two: There is a lot of awkward pre teen and teen age mirth that travels with them. They’re just goofballs and I love that.

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We took them to Clarkston Covered Bridge to Geocache one day during Cousin’s Camp and had a blast.

Calvert Cemetery

Crazy snake warnings and all:

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Best thing about the day? The look on James’ face when we realized prisoners were working there.

Clarkson Covered Bridge

At one point we had to choose between going on the scary snake trail or the prisoners working trail. How about that orange checked jumpsuit, huh? You can barely see it behind the other guy.

Hiking later during the week with the boys was fun too. We got a little lost – okay, we totally weren’t lost (mainly because I wasn’t the one leading the hike) but we had to hike up to a ridge to see where we were – and this one drew a map in the dirt that had us going home by way of New York City.

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Since we were in rural Alabama at the time we did not follow that advice.

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“Is that New York City I see?”

Here’s what the boys aren’t good at: letting me take their pictures. Every time I try to take a picture it’s this production of groans and whines.

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What’s a groan?”

Okay. So not every boy complains about it but some of them do.

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Look! Everyone is smiling. Well, almost everyone. Dang it, Atticus! Get yourself together. He’s probably still mad we didn’t take his advice and go home via the Big Apple. 

Also present with the boys?

The wildlife.

IMG_3569Ah, hey little turtle!

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Come one! Look at that little face! Boys are just the best.

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Well, usually…

Nellie Olsen and Pride

Nellie Olsen and Pride

Welcome to Sunday, kids. Here’s a little something for you just in case you didn’t find yourself in church this morning. I wrote it as a devotional for a Facebook group I was in last year. Hey look, something serious from me! Oh calm down, it ain’t gonna kill you to read something real here for a change.

Ahem…Raise your hand if you’ve ever grown frustrated with yourself for struggling with the same issues you struggled with when you were young. Please tell me I’m not the only one with my hand raised.

I had this idea when I was young that by the time I was an adult things like jealousy, pride, and worrying about what people think of me would be far in the past. Grown up Paula would NEVER have to worry about that kind of silly pettiness.

And yet…here I am at thirty seven, staring down the smoking barrel of forty, and I sometimes I still struggle with it.

No where was this more evident in my life than in my recent travels with my cousin Margaret. Margaret is pretty much everything I’m not. She is super svelte with a fancy job and, get this, kids that actually behave! Margaret has a very sweet four year old daughter. Think Mary Ingalls. My four year old…well, I’d like to think she’s like Mary’s sister Laura Ingalls but it’s more like Nelly Olsen! We had decided to take our daughters to Disney World together. And therein lay the problem.

Y’all, I was worried. I began to actually dread the trip because I was so concerned with how my four year old was going to behave around Margaret. It wasn’t that I really cared that my four year old might misbehave. Four year old’s misbehave. Oh no. What I cared about was how Margaret was going to view my parenting skills when Stella, my daughter, misbehaved. See, I wanted her to think I was a great Mom. I have this perception of myself that I want others to see and when I can’t control every single move that my kids make I worry what people will think. I’m not like that all the time but it definitely pops out sometimes.

Proverbs 29:25 says “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” That’s exactly what it felt like – a trap. A trap that was threatening to ruin what could be a really special time with my daughter and my oldest friend. All this worry over what someone thought of my parenting.

I’ve been reading Shauna Niequist lately. She talks a lot about pain and suffering. Specifically about leaning away from your self and into God when you are in pain. I thought about what this would look like in my situation. Finally, I picked up my phone and texted Margaret:

“I’m need to tell you something. I’m worried about the trip. I’m worried about how Stella is going to behave on this trip. I’m worried that you are going to think I’m a bad Mom when Stella misbehaves.”

And just like that the fear was gone. The simple act of shining light on my fear released me. Margaret immediately texted back that I was being ridiculous and everyone’s kids misbehave or some such. She reassured me. I felt silly for worrying about it in the first place.

Oh, Lord, save me from me! Let me lean into you and away from my own inadequacies.

And the trip? It was fantastic. I mean, yes, at one point Margaret’s daughter sweetly said ‘let’s share my glow sticks with everyone’ while Stella looked horrified and hoarded them like an old lady on TLC, but all in all it was a total win.

Four year old behavior and all.

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Alan, Alan, Alan, Steve!

Alan, Alan, Alan, Steve!

I love the ZOO. I also love to spell the word ZOO with all caps. I think it comes from being obsessed with the The ZOO Gallery in junior high. For those of you that don’t know the ZOO Gallery is a shop in Destin, Florida that has been there forever. Well, I don’t know about forever but as long as I can remember.

Lest you think that I liked the ZOO Gallery because it featured unique and artsy items let me just stop you right there. The reason I liked it was because all the cool kids would come back from vacation wearing ZOO Gallery t-shirts. Yep, the cool kids.

I did eventually get my t-shirt. I wore that sucker out! I remember packing it for a youth group retreat thinking ‘this is going to look so cool.’

I’m sure the Lord was super impressed with me. Round about the eleventh grade I stopped wearing it. That’s because I wore it to paint a cabin green at a summer camp in Maine and it was never quite the same afterwards. The reason for why I had to paint that cabin is a whole other story that’s best left for later. The shirt is in a box in my attic now.

Me in the 8th grade.

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“My high waisted white denim shorts are great but it would really look awesome if I had a ZOO Gallery t-shirt.”

So…the Zoo.

I chaperoned the third grade field trip to the Nashville Zoo a few weeks ago. What? I’m totally responsible and capable of chaperoning a field trip. Responsible is my middle name!

The kids got to ride a bus WITH A BATHROOM ON IT on the way there and it was pretty much the highlight of their lives.

IMG_5162Good grief, my kid has a big head. That noggin is massive. Whew! Finally. I’ve been wanting to use the word noggin in a post for a long time.

The giraffes were a big hit. Fighting over these binoculars was also a big hit.

IMG_5165Ya know how giraffes are so stately and graceful…

Giraffes nashville zoo

Um, not so much. This guy stayed in this position pretty much the whole time we were at the Zoo.

Here’s my friend Julie.

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She’s awesome.

And how about this guy! If you can look at this picture and not start yelling ‘Alan, Alan, Alan…Steve!’ you’re a stronger person than I am. And if you have no clue what I’m talking about, good gracious, immediately click on this link. 

IMG_5168Wait a minute. You didn’t click on it did you? Y’all, I’m telling you it’s comedy gold.

Also comedy gold:

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The swooping lorikeets of death. Or to be more accurate the comedy gold part was watching people run from the swooping lorikeets of death.

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Sure kids. Go on and the a load off. Laughing at these ridiculous animals is pretty tiring.

Now y’all know that bathroom humor is strictly forbidden in our house. Having said that I will tell you that we saw some absolutely amazing creatures at the Zoo. Kangaroos and elephants and crazy sea creatures but the real highlight of the kid’s trip was when the cow in the farm section went to the bathroom. Well, okay. He didn’t actually go into a bathroom but I refuse to write the word that he did.

Oh good grief. He pooped! Okay! There I wrote it. Are you happy now?

I’m telling you those boys’ faces lit up like Christmas Trees. So there ya go. Welcome to the world of most boys. And Zoos. Just make sure you spell it with an OO instead of an oo.