Weekend getaway with Miss Peggy


Last weekend we had the chance to slip out of town for a little camping adventure with Miss Peggy.  
 We left later than we wanted to and had to deal with a storm and nightfall as we approached the campground.
 That's actually Patrick's bike attached to a hitch on the front of the truck, since we were towing Miss Peggy in the back.  I'm thankful for amazing friends who were willing to stand in the rain to help Patrick back up and set up the site while we waited in the truck.  Good friends, I tell ya...good friends.

Anyway, we actually camped at a private campground at a resort.  We had never done that before since we usually stay at state or county parks.  This resort included many outdoor activities like horseback riding, air boat rides, and swamp buggy rides.  While we didn't do any of those activities, we did venture over to the petting farm.  The kids had a blast.
 Havi loved trying to feed the ponies and even got right up in their faces.
 We went swimming every day, and boy was that necessary.  It was hot as blazes out there, and cooling off was a must.  One of the oldest kids in our 11 kid camping crew celebrated his birthday.  So all the kids got to enjoy some delicious cupcakes.
 There was a little catch and release pond to fish at.  So we slathered on the sunscreen and stayed out there long enough to justify the sunscreen application.  Then we headed back to our campsites, taking the scenic route and checking out some of the longhorns on the ranch.
 Saturday night at the ranch is a good old fashioned rodeo.  All the locals descend on the place.  As a child I had been to several rodeos, so it was not new to me.  However, it was the first rodeo for all the dumplings.  Caleb really enjoyed it.  Madeline couldn't wait to leave.
 We're such a large group (11 kids and 6 grown ups) that we had to spread out over several rows of bleachers to sit near each other.
 I think it's safe to say that the bull riding was our favorite event.  Caleb was impressed that two of the cowgirls that had entered the rodeo were only eight and eleven years old.  Impressive indeed.

Our last day we kept things low key as we had to pack up and head home.  The kids had a blast playing with the bubbles, in addition to riding their bikes around the camp loop.
 Then it was one last trip to the petting farm.
 Upon our return home, we had a new "family member" waiting for us.  Meet "Charlie", Peggy's main squeeze.  Patrick likes to say that Peggy married up because he's a motorhome, and Peggy is not.  We knew that it was just a matter of time, though, before something like Charlie came rolling into our lives. 
 Later that evening I stepped outside to admire the setting sun in all its glory.  Havi joined me, sans clothes. 
 I made Caleb and Madeline come outside to watch the sun set, even if it was just for a few moments.  I had wanted to snap a quick photo of all three of them with Charlie, to make him feel welcomed, you know.  But Havi wasn't interested.  She was too busy capturing the sunset.
 We had a great weekend camping.  In fact, the next few camping trips are already being planned!  We love being outdoors and enjoy just hanging out with our friends.  And the kids really enjoy each other too.  It's such a blessing.

Well, I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July.  
We have some exciting things planned with some very special out of town visitors!

Long overdue tennis wrap up


I was meaning to share a tennis update at the end of May, but with Bammy's visit and then Madeline's recital earlier this month, I never got around to it.  So here it goes.  


He played 10s green dot in a USTA Super Series with/against his buddy Charlie.  He took third for singles and first for doubles with Charlie has his partner.  Charlie won for singles.  The boys had such a good time playing doubles together.
Caleb also played in a local Grand Prix 11 and up yellow ball.
Madeline helped hand out awards.
He just missed second place by one point, behind his friend Nathan.  Then he came home after playing for over two hours and hit the ball some more against the house.

The first weekend in June, Caleb played in the USTA Bobby Curtis Junior State Championships.  This is the highest level tournament for 10 and under in Florida.  Most of the kids playing have been doing so for years.  A lot of them play up in the 12s during the year but play down in their natural age division for the state championship.  The only thing we expected Caleb to do was to get out there and have fun and play hard.  And that he did.
He saw his buddy Charlie (they could've passed for doubles partners in their matching colored tennis attire.)
Caleb played so well.  He won one match and lost three, two of which were in come-from-behind-third set tiebreakers.  We're so proud of his mental toughness.  He really enjoyed himself at the tournament and even commented to me recently that he was bummed he had only one more chance to play in the 10s state championships next year.

This past weekend we headed back to the same tennis complex for another USTA 10 and under green dot Super Series. He saw his buddy Charlie, who again took first.  Caleb was awarded third place.  Both Charlie and Caleb had to get an official for the questionable line calling by another player whose name will remain anonymous.  Not cool.  At all.
But the biggest highlight of the day (apart from seeing my sister and her family) was learning that Caleb had been presented the State Championship Sportsmanship Award for boys 10s!!!!!!  This is an award that was voted on by fellow players, officials, parents, and spectators at the State Championships earlier this month. He was presented a nice plaque (that I still have to get a photograph of) and given a lot of praise by the tournament staff.  He had his whole entourage beaming with pride.  

I'm telling ya, tennis isn't just great exercise.  It's a wonderful opportunity to build character.  Caleb is naturally a bit shy, but he's learned he needs to stand up for himself and get an official when he believes his opponent is making questionable calls.  (He actually had to do that in the state championships also.)  We're proud of him for sticking up for himself. We're proud of him for maintaining his composure in tough situations.  We're proud of him for complementing his opponents on their nice shots.  Apparently we're not the only ones who think he's attitude is remarkable.  This Sportsmanship Award is hands down his greatest accomplishment to date, far greater than any winner trophy he might have earned so far.  

We love you, Caleb, and are so proud of you.  
We can't wait to see what your future has in store for you!

Recital time!


A rainy afternoon following a dance recital is one sure way to get some photo editing done quickly. lol  So I'm getting these photos up quickly, for a change.  Anyway, as has been the case for the last three years, it has rained on dress rehearsal day, which was Thursday.  Oh, that's so fun to get my daughter in costume and attempt to stay dry while toting around my camera bag and other children.  Anyway, I snapped a quick photo of my beautiful dancer with her new smile before heading inside.
This year's Children's Program was titled "In a World of Make Believe".  Madeline's class was Sophia the First, while the other classes were Minnie Mouse, Ariel, fairies etc.  I adored their costumes this year (which were so soft!) and the choreography for their two routines. The girls did such a fantastic job.  It's so heart warming to see their progress each year.  I thought I would share videos of her performances from the dress rehearsal.  So that is why you see a big orange bucket (due to the roof leak).  I sat up in the balcony this year, thanks to my new 80-200mm f/2.8 lens and couldn't have been happier.  And thank you to Caleb who used my phone to videotape his sister's performances.  (Madeline is second from the right in front for the first video and second from the left in front for the second video.)

As you can see from the videos and my photos, I took the liberty of adjusting the magenta colored lights shining down on the girls to achieve more natural looking skintones on them.  Sorry lighting guy.
As you can see from the last photo of Caleb with cousin Josh, my sister's family was able to make it over for the recital.  Oh, that made Madeline's day!  We only had time to grab some ice cream together before they had to head back to their neck of the woods, but we cherished their time with us, though brief.  I think my sister was tickled to be off camera duty this year, all thanks to my new lens.  Hopefully, we'll all get to see each other again next weekend, as Caleb will be playing in a tennis tournament right near their house.  Speaking of tennis, I will play catch up there soon.  After my last blog post, my wrist actually started feeling better again.  So I'm back to normal. Yay!


About This Blog

This blog is a place where we have shared our lives with family and friends while we waited to bring our daughter, Madeline, home from China and while we actually traveled to China for her. It is also a place where we will continue to share our life experiences, as we try to glorify God and raise our two precious dumplings from China.

And now we wait to bring Havi home from China.

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