Tuesday, June 30, 2015

theCAMP and CAMPjr

Our church, Trinity Presbyterian has been hosting theCAMP since 2008. It is a high-quality Sports, Art and Bible camp for children from our church and from the Young Terrace Neighborhood in Norfolk. The YT neighborhood is extremely poor, with many single-parent families who live significantly below the poverty line.  Since theCAMP began, we have partnered with PB Young Elementary to continue to build relationships with families in the neighborhood through things like Homework Club, Gardening programs, GED access and a great Fall Festival. CAMPjr originally began as a Vacation Bible School geared mostly towards younger kids of our volunteers and it has blossomed into much more. We recently began brining 4-5 year olds over from YT to Trinity to participate in CAMPjr. Last year we had 32 campers join us and therefore we needed to make a big, exciting change this year. For the first time, we combined theCAMP and CAMPjr at PB Young Elementary which meant we had approximately 400 campers and over 150 volunteers in one location. It was beautiful. Loud and chaotic, but beautiful.

I was blessed to have a chance to lead CAMPjr again, this year with Liz. Erin also served as our faithful assistant and huge supporter! Last year, I did most of the planning on my own. Learning from my mistakes, however, I realized that it can't be me, but it had to be God running the show. So, I bathed CAMPjr in prayer, especially as we were short of volunteers 2 weeks prior to the start of CAMP.  God provided in a BIG way. We partnered with other local churches, the United Way and the US Navy! WOW. We had more volunteers than we knew what to do with. All campers were safe, loved and cared for and had an awesome week. Our volunteers had endless amounts of energy. So many of them were outside their comfort zone, leading 10 kids around for a whole day. But they gave hugs, laughed, cleaned scrapes, did monkey bars and acted silly! They loved with a BIG love that is only possible because God first loved us.
Erin, so thankful for her!! 
The kids had an amazing week learning about how powerful God is. We played games, did arts, ate good food, sang songs and danced! Jackson really loved CAMPjr this year and was smitten with his two CITs (counselors in training) who we are eagerly looking forward to making our new mommy's helpers around the house! Jonathan coached soccer for two days at CAMP, which was interesting considering the 102 degree heat on Tuesday. He really enjoyed his time with the younger campers, teaching drills, taking frequent water breaks and being an encourager. 
the Byrnes love CAMP and matching shirts! 

Rachel's first year at CAMPjr

June happenings

Here's a little of what we've been up to in June! 

I never win things. But, I won something through Instagram the other day! My friend, Ali, started making knots and is so talented that she sells them at West Elm in VA Beach. She offered a give-away on IG and I tagged my friend Mary, which won us both a doorstop knot! I had been looking for a nice solution to my pantry door always swinging closed when I need to bring up multiple items for dinner or a large load of laundry. I love my knot and hope some of you also decide that one might look good in your home too! She makes decorative ones for book shelves and cute little keychains (at Kitch) also.

We've really enjoyed Busch Gardens and Water Country for the last few weeks. Jackson rode his first roller coaster, several times in a row. He loves water slides and the wave pool. I made the mistake of taking him into 5 foot water (he kept asking and asking!) which became closer to 6 foot water. He had a life jacket on and was totally safe but would get pummeled by a wave and have trouble recovering because he would just continue to get pummeled by each successive wave. Having treaded water in the waves for 6 minutes, I grew increasingly tired and at one point had to do a life-saving side stroke to carry us both into water where I could stand the whole time. Those warning signs in the wave pool about getting tired in deep water...yeah, they are true ;) 

Jackson wanted to go to the opening of a new wall at The Corner Gallery in Norfolk, prior home of my gorgeous painting, "Blush". Jonathan was starting nights and needed a little time to himself so I took J as my date. Turns out he thought we were going to do some painting, not look at paintings. But despite his disappointment, he got to eat some cheese and see a painting of a cow, so he had a great night. I got to meet Stacy Reese, the artist who did my painting and to enjoy more of her new work that night as well.

J's favorite songs of the moment: "Happy" and "Come Get it Bae" by Pharrell. He loves a reference to a motorcycle in the second song. I love to sing along and J requested that I stop singing. Then, I started to lip synch and he requested that I stop lip synching. Sad days. He will, however, still let us have a dance party in the kitchen each morning after our run. This is one of the best moments of my day.
Having a kid makes you realize what phrases you say all the time. jackson now says:
Hey Guys!!
Aw, Man!

Rachel just continues to get cuter. She has 2 big teeth, loves playing with doors and is THIS EXCITED every time she takes a bath. She has never seen a food she doesn't like. Stay tuned for her 9 month post coming up tomorrow or whenever I can find a moment that I am rested enough to write. 
We have had lots of grandparent time, building train sets, going to Tides games, playing at the playground. The kids just love their grandparents and we love having help and lots of hugs from them! School ended on May 22nd (very early....) but we've been busy in Springfield prior to and following our trip, at the beach, in the sprinkler and at the zoo. We're looking forward to 2 LUMP camps for Jackson, swimming lessons, me going back to work next week and maybe little time to rest in between all the summer fun! 

(this was totally 1 month ago...since then, she will no longer tolerate this exersaucer, preferring to crawl or cruise around the house now!)

Jackson Hole, WY

The view from our hotel room and the main lobby of the lodge
My (Heather) continuing education courses are Friday through Sunday, 8am-6pm in some random PT clinic in the middle of nowhere. We don't see the light of day and at the conclusion of the course we all stumble out of the room, sore from practicing techniques on each other all weekend. Then, we hit the ground running again on Monday morning with barely a moment to catch our breath. 
However, the world of Emergency Medicine is much different, as I learned several weeks ago during our trip to Moran, WY to see the Tetons. Jonathan took an Advanced Airway course, led by many of the docs who record the podcasts he listens to. This course was structured as a vacation, attracting a large group of doctors from New Zealand and Australia as well as the US. Class ran for 4 hours each day, either 7-11am or 2-6pm, which gave us plenty of time to go exploring!  We weren't able to participate in the planned group activities (4 hour safari, rafting, etc), but we made our own fun!

Rachel was not a happy camper 2 days prior to our trip which left us feeling a little anxious. Then, once we buckled up for the flight, the captain announced that it would be a bumpy 4.5 hour flight to Salt Lake. 4.5 hours??? Well...I guess I hadn't thought that one through and didn't think we would be on a plane that long for her first flight. But, turbulence and all, Rachel was a great little traveler. She slept a bit on the way out west but mostly played, ate and entertained our seat-mates (who were very kind and gracious to us, thankfully!). We arrived in Jackson Hole fairly late at night but it was still light out enough to see the mountain range right next to the airport. God's creation was so stunning that I cried happy, awe-filled tears.  We then made the long, DARK journey to our lodge, getting to bed at 1am. There were absolutely no lights to be seen, aside from our headlights and the twinkling stars. It was beautiful, but a little scary when you're never sure what creature might jump in front of the rental car! 

In the morning, we opened the blinds and saw THIS VIEW. WOW. That is all I said for about 5 minutes. When JB was not in class, Rachel and I explored the Lodge, walked a hilly loop trail on the grounds and entertained other guests with her crawling and cruising around the lobby. We met another family who was here for the conference. The wife, a dermatologist, told me she registers herself for all the emails and flyers about Emergency Medicine courses. That way, she stays in the know about the Pediatric Course in Disney in April and another course in New York in December. Sounds like a great way to plan our future vacations!

Although my photography course was geared towards taking pictures of kids in manual mode, I figured this was a great time to practice. Landscape photography is known to be very difficult and we don't have a super long zoom lens, but I'm still pretty happy with the results. I was able go get some depth of field and pretty bokeh (the nice blur). Although the primary flower is the yellow one in the picture below this, there were a few gorgeous red and white flowers decorating the landscape. 
The cloud cover was just incredible. It was like you could reach out and touch them each morning! 

Thankfully, Rachel loves the ergo and we were able to take her on an easy, flat Coulter Bay trail. We came pretty close to a doe, which was pretty surprising, but we were all content to look at each other and go about our own business.  The next day we tackled a 3 mile Jenny Lake trail. We did 2 moderately difficult miles and then branched off 0.5 miles up to the waterfall. We were able to catch sight of a moose hiding in the grass. He was HUGE.  I mean, HUGE. His snout was nothing that I would ever want to mess with! The water coming down from the mountain was freezing. I know we spent all week looking at snow-covered peaks, but then you feel it and it's like ice. It was very refreshing after our long hike with a heat-producing baby on my back the whole way. 

Coulter Bay
Coulter Bay...just taking it all in

Ok. Let's talk about bears. I know they exist and they are beautiful and fun to look at in pictures and books. But, then you arrive in Jackson Hole and there are signs EVERYWHERE about bears. All the trashcans have bear-proof (and what proved to be Heather-proof at first) latches. I went out one morning with Rachel in the ergo attempting to do a hike overlooking the Snake River. We got turned around at the start of our journey and ended up on a road with many logs blocking it. A sign rested on the logs that said, "KEEP OUT. Increased bear activity on this road. NO ONE may pass".  YIKES. We scurried away as fast as my rapidly-beating heart would carry me. We chose another trail with several BEAR WARNINGS on it, instructions including "Do not hike alone". Our journey took us about 1/8 of the mile down the trail, which was filled with many chipmunk critters, skittering in the bushes and a snake blocking my path. That was a sign that it was just not meant to be. We were content to watch the horses at the corral and head back up for nap time. 

We opted to get a room with a view, since we might not make it back this way any time soon. And, it worked out that our baby monitor worked on a bench right outside the room and in the Mural Room, their nice restaurant.  We enjoyed 2 nice dinners of bison, elk, lamb and a mushroom spinach pastry. The other nights we did takeout with a local IPA and enjoyed conversation and the breath-taking view. 
One thing I was so impressed with was how environmentally conscious the entire midwest is. There are water bottle filling stations, low-flush toilets and recycling containers everywhere. I know the start-up costs would be high, but I wish our area could make changes like this for a more sustainable planet. 
Finally, can you believe this view at the airport!? We walked outside to our plane and flew alongside these stunning mountain ranges on our way back home.  

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Water Babies

We had a fabulous few days with Jonathan's cousin, Erin, and her husband, Kevin, when they came to VA beach for a long weekend. The last time they were here, J was the same age as Rachel is now. Rachel and Erin became fast friends and Jackson was completely head over heels with Kevin. They played non-stop with him, baseball, running, beach construction projects and tickling! Thanks for visiting. We love you!

Rachel is the queen of food and will eat anything in sight! She can pack away cheese and avocado and her new favorite food is green peas (win!). Until this week, she was just pretty content to sit and watch things while smiling. She had no desire to move much, aside from her cute side-sitting rotated positions which she would use to slowly move a small distance. 
This week, however, she is All.Over.The.Place. She can crawl forward, pull to kneeling and pull to stand. Yesterday she took 2 small steps to cruise along the couch and bang on a box. Seeing as she loves to put everything in her mouth, we have a feeling this phase is going to be MUCH harder than it was with Jackson! 
The sprinkler is going to be our lifesaver this summer. It requires very little effort and we can invite the neighborhood kids over to play, allowing for some group parenting or a break for a few of us while the other ladies watch the kids. The other afternoon, the compound kids played through an entire water barrel full of water: buckets, squirt guns and water frisbees were the main event. 

We are so blessed, as I say all the time, to have amazing neighbors who we adore but also whose children play so well together. C and C, and L and K are significantly older than Jackson but they are great friends and we just couldn't be more thankful for having them around! 
Just for fun, I printed out one of those silly Facebook things that had 23 questions to ask your kids. Here are some of our favorite answers from Jackson:

What is something mom aways says to you: Jackson, please may you clean
What makes mom happy: When I say I love you
How old is your mom: 5 + 2 (thanks, buddy!)
How tall is your mom: (holds up 2 fingers)
What is her favorite thing to do: play, eat, read books
What does your mom do when you're not around: Cry (hahaha)
What does your mom do for a job: Work. I don't know. Tell me. 
How are you and your mom the same: We are not the same because we have different hair

Monday, June 1, 2015

rachel is 8 months old!

Hey friends! I thought I would check back in now that I am 8 months old. I can't believe that I'm so old already. I'll be ready to drive soon! This month has been pretty fun. I really love to sit and I've started to move a lot more. I really love sitting in this cute side-sitting position. Mom thinks I look precious and keeps taking pictures of me. I sit just like she does. I love to pivot on my booty and come in and out of a pre-crawling position to get toys that are just out of my reach.  

I just learned how to sit up on my own last weekend in the pack-n-play at midnight at BB and Grandad's. Mom wasn't sure what was going on because I was crying for help. I think I was a little scared to be sitting up and no one had put me that way. Now, I do it all the time in the crib but I only get scared when I sit up during naps.  I really like doing planks and rocking back like I'm going to crawl. My parents are so funny. They keep looking at me like I'm going to crawl any day now but I will just keep them waiting!  In the meantime they keep bribing me with cheerios to crawl, hehe ;) 

 My hemangiomas are much flatter and less noticeable now too. The one on my lip is so faint that mom barely notices it. i'm glad that it didn't ulcerate and cause me to have trouble eating. The others should be gone in the next few years and in the meantime my hair is growing really quickly and should cover them soon. 

 I'm still rocking the blonde hair and dad gave me my first haircut 2 weeks ago at the beach house. It does feel much better not to have hair in my eyes anymore. I have TWO big teeth on the bottom and now I drool All.The.Time. Just like my brother, but not quite to the extent that he did. I do have to wear a drool bib every day now. I'm very content to sit but I'm starting to explore more. I like banging blocks, reading eating books ,playing with anything that Jackson has and listening to music. My favorite parts of the day are when Jackson sings to me and when mommy has a dance party by herself in the living room.  She's silly.  

 I like to sit outside on a blanket each afternoon while the big kids play. They always want to play with me, feed me cheerios and pick me up. I don't really mind it.  And speaking of cheerios, I love food. love it. "Food" and "eat" are the first two words I recognize and I start to pump my arms and bounce when mom says them. I love everything except for yellow squash. I've  branched out into eating mozzarella, egg yolks, salmon, pork, chicken, and beans. I really like mexican food! My favorite part of the meal is trying to pry the finger from my parent's grip at the end of the meal and splattering food all over my face and the rest of the house.  

 I'm down to two naps a day, usually around 9 and 1 and I think that makes mom really happy to be on a schedule. She is going to back to work part-time in July and seems to be getting life streamlined around the house. I really like having two naps and usually sleep about 1.5-2 hours most of the time. I'm a belly sleeper, butt up in the air just like Jackson. At night, I go to bed at 6pm and have finally started to sleep until about 5:30 when mom feeds me and I go back to bed until about 7/7:30. Then, we go for a morning run and play. I like playing with Jackson. He is very sweet to me and wants to climb in my crib each morning to snuggle. Then, he hugs me all day (and also throws toys at me!) and calls me pretty girl. I think he is the best big brother ever. 

Mom took me on my first bike ride the other morning. I kept trying to pry the helmet off my head for the first 5 minutes but then I think I settled in. I might enjoy this. I like my jumper, playing with friends at church, feeling the wind on my face, eating everything in sight and petting Lincoln. I like listening to daddy play instruments and sing. I can even recognize his voice when we are listening to his album.  
I love my grandparents, especially when I can talk to them on FaceTime. The light of the phone is pretty awesome. I can recognize their faces on the picture on the wall and like looking at it during meal times. They are all pretty great.  I'm still dressing in super cute clothes from Riley and Piper and could wear a new outfit combination every day if mom was that creative. I like wearing dresses and bloomers now that it's nice outside.

That's all for now! Thanks for stopping by, friends!