Friday, July 15, 2011

Cousin Campin'

I once read that the only people who know you your whole life long are your siblings and your cousins. They are there from the beginning, knowing all of the childhood history that even a spouse likely doesn't know. Cousins are special -- no doubt about it. Nurturing those relationships strengthens family identity and gives kids a sense of where they belong and where they come from in this world.
My nephew, Gabe, is going to be a freshman in High School this year. Keeping Cousin Camp going is more important than ever as I realize how few years we really have left with him (Waaaahhhhhhhhhh)!!!! It's going to be as hard on me as his mother when he goes to college!!
We began Cousin Camp when the kids were young. It was a fun way for them to bond, and a good way for us to have a chunk of time to get projects done without a toddler at our feet -- a total WIN/WIN. As the kids have gotten older, we don't need the time as much anymore, but the mission of bonding the family together remains the same. Here is the basic format we've created:
  • The camp usually lasts 4 days -- 2 days at my house, and 2 at my sister's
  • We pick a theme verse and reinforce it throughout the time together.
  • Whenever we go places, each child is assigned a "buddy" (a younger and an older cousin are paired). They are to stick together no matter what.
  • We focus on activities and skills -- fun things they normally don't get to do, or skills they don't know or could improve upon. Here's a list of life-skills we planned to do at my house this year (we got to almost all of them):

How to change a bike tire

How to unclog a toilet

How to build a fire

How to make a dinner for someone special

How to tie various knots

How to calculate your heart rate

Simple technique for studying the bible

What to do in an emergency medical situation

How to compare prices

How to sew on a button

Execute a spin dribble

How to catch a football

How to answer a phone

How to engage adults in conversation

How to tie dye a shirt

Here is a visual snapshot:
Sometimes we do T-shirts

Backyard Movie Theatre
Lots of "Buddy Time" Bonding
We go on fun outings:
The Cherry Picker's Trot Kids' Race at Greenbluff
Silverwood Theme Park

New Skills are Learned:

I even got my nephews sewing camp laundry bags one year!

They spend time enjoying each other's houses..
Here we just finished the Cousin Camp Olympics
Cousin Camp Visits Great-Grandma!

Lots of Crafting
Daisy Chains
& Tie Dye!

We have even had them create a theme song some years

The memories we have made are priceless, and the relationships forged will hopefully last their whole lives long! Cousining is just THE BEST!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Don't be Lazy, Mama....

I've realized that sometimes I say "NO" to my kids just because I'm being lazy. Whatever they are asking me, I sometimes have the time to do, but maybe not the energy. For instance, my younger three kids are avid lemonade standers. They LOVE it -- and want to do it often. This is a big production and there are times when we really don't have the time to set up shop. However, there are times when we do, but the endeavor requires some effort on my part. I have to help them get out the table and take it out to the end of the driveway, help them get the money ready, make sure the lemonade isn't spilling all over the floor (STICKY), and then find a way to get the giant container of delicious refreshment out to the curb without it splashing over the side. Then, of course, is the supervision. I don't have to be right there, but I do feel I need to keep an eye on them through the course of the sales hours, which limits what else I can do during that time. The temptation for me to say "NO" to this is great. HOWEVER, when I hear the negative in my head, I tell myself, "Don't be lazy, Mama," and instead a happy "YES" comes out of my mouth and we get to work. It pays off as I see my kids becoming industrious, and as I see them building some great neighborhood camaraderie as they interact with the neighbors driving by who smile, take a cup, and say, "keep the change!"
My kids are growing up, and I realize now how fast it goes. How sad if I limit their growth and experiences just because I'm not "up for it" that day. This morning I read Proverbs 12:24:
24 The diligent find freedom in their work;
the lazy are oppressed by work. (MSG)
Diligence is important, both for me and my children. I must say, lemonade stands are a pretty fun way to build that character trait! Whenever I say "Yes," I'm so glad I did.....