June 30, 2011

stare directly

Today was spent staring directly into the sun for about 95% of the day. My eyes and skin were screaming for shade by the time I dragged my body back to the cottage at 8pm tonight. Dim lights and a wonderful camp shower.

side note: ever since my first summer here, my brother, sister and I all call a good shower after a long, hot, busy day a "camp shower." They'll still text me every once in a while with a "took a camp shower tonight." There is nothing like it. And back in the day, when we lived in buildings at camp with no air conditioning, it was the best way to cool off and stay that way...at least until you turned the cold water off and started sweating again. Camp showers are the best.

I think I re-applied sunscreen about 5 times today. Thick, gooey layers of sunscreen. Oh, yeah. Thankfully, it was only about 84 degrees today with almost no humidity. A lovely day indeed.

We spent the afternoon on the island, banana boating and tubing and swimming. Well, actually I was just driving the tubing boat the whole time, but all the camper girls and counselors were doing all those things. It's fun to see them laugh and scream with glee. They seemed to really love it. And I never ever get tired of filling up the boat with tons of kids and zipping off down the river at super speed. Wind in my face. Kids laughing and loving every minute of their boat ride. Giggling as we go over bumps or they get splashed with waves. Looking around at their faces and hearing them say "this is my first time on a boat!" Watching them wave at every boat that passes us with a "HI!!!" I love, love, love being on the water with them.

Right now though, I'm going to love closing my eyes and laying my head on my pillow.

Good night, all.


Cottage Girl

side note #2: Learning to surf is on my top 5 things to do before I die, especially in Hawaii. I dream about it all the time.

June 29, 2011

the show

I know this seems like a strange photo, but it's a nightly sight that I wanted to capture on "film" just once. This is taken from a living room window in my cottage.

Each night, after coming home from a long day on the beach, this is what I see around 8:30ish pm. The kids are technically at snack shop right now. You can't actually see snack shop in this photo because they abandon it after getting their snack and head to this hill. Reason? It's the perfect spot to watch the beach sunset show.

We have some pretty spectacular sunsets here. And honestly, it doesn't ever get old. I have stopped taking a photo of every single one, which is why I don't have one of the beautiful one that the kids were looking at here. But trust me, it was amazing.

Anyway, I love that they sit and "oooo" and "ahhhh" over it. Well, some of them do. The others are flirting with each other and checking out boys/girls. That is also a big part of camp too, I suppose. The crowd gets bigger and bigger until they all pack up and head to chapel for some crazy praise and worship.

Such a nice way to end the day....

and for those of you wondering: yes, I hear/see/feel/smell children all day, every day. I hear them play their games in the gym next to my house. I see them running all over the place from one thing to another. I get high-fives and a hug every once in a while on the way to meals. And I can smell sunscreen and bug spray constantly. It's the best...

June 28, 2011



It was a bit of a crazy day.
Too much sun.
I'm super sleepy.

And why is it that when I don't have any time,
all I want to do is make things?
Take photos.
Do anything crafty.
The inspiration just won't stop coming.
Even writing seems to flow more easily.
Just don't have any time to do it.

I'm dying for a free weekend.
Maybe one day....
....in August?

June 27, 2011

Tied on & off

Did you make a thousand friendship bracelets like I did when you were young? I thought that was the only purpose for embroidery thread. All those pretty colors just to make bracelets and anklets galore.

When I saw this pin, I decided it was time to make another one. And summer camp seems to be a perfect time to wear one, right? So I followed the link on the pin and made this one up in no time.

I don't leave mine on all the time though. I would smell like yucky river water if I did. So, this one just gets tied on and off. And I used this photo....

(which I just love for more reasons than it's Elena and the brothers Salvatore) for my color palate. Those dark, dreamy colors. I guess I could call it my Mystic Falls bracelet.

June 26, 2011


I'm trying my hardest to be on a strict diet/fast from TV this summer. Less shows. Less movies. Less time in front of a screen.

Last week, I think I could count the hours I watched on 1 hand. That's huge for me. I'm sure some of you aren't big TV watchers, so this seems silly. But I am really being purposeful with less TV and more time reading books, hanging out with friends, being outside, listening to sermon podcasts, etc.

It's not that I think TV is wrong. I TV. Oh boy, do I. I love the stories and getting caught up in the worlds they create. Always have. But I do think it's good to deny myself of it for a while. A little break when there are more important things to do.

So, this summer, my TV watching is pretty much just these three...

#1 Nikita. Thank you, CW for re-airing this season's shows in order. I'm loving it. I missed this one the first time around, but The Bro told me to give it a try. "It's like Alias when it was good," he said. It is. It's fun.

#2 Vampire Diaries. A second thank you to the CW. Gaaaa. I can't stop. I'm totally addicted to this one. My roommate and brother's constant "it's so good" comments turned me. If I had to watch only one thing this summer, it would be this.

#3 West Wing. One of the all time TV greats (and personal favorites). I started getting the itch to watch it again when I started GWB's book. Season 2 and 3 are the best. Sometimes I just need to see Josh and Donna and Sam and Toby and CJ and Charlie.

What about you? Is there anything you are trying to do less of this summer? Do you find it tough?

June 24, 2011


I know it's wrong, so very wrong, to be jealous of your friends when good things happen to them. It's deplorable. It's silly. And I'm totally guilty on all counts.

My sweet friend told me this spring that she would not be returning to camp this summer. It was a tough pill to swallow, let me tell you. I knew that I would miss her and all our long talks. I would miss our kindred-spritness (yes, I made that word up).

You see, she and I both have a burning passion for orphans and seeing them find their forever homes. Her family has brought home 3 dear ones from different parts of the globe. We talk about Ch*na and the dear babies that are there in orphanages. We pray over their sweet faces through An Orphans Wish. We dream about going to there together and loving on babies.

Then this spring, when her time to make a decision about camp was here, God threw an amazing opportunity her way. Ch*na for 8 weeks. An orphanage with kiddos to love on for 8 weeks. Of course, she had to say yes. And of course I was exceedingly excited for her.

It's that darn jealously that I must repent of. So instead of imagining all those faces she'll see and the hugs she will give, I'll cover her in prayers as she heads out of the country today. And I'll continually think of her as I love on the kiddos here at camp, knowing that she's doing the same thing all the way over there. And I will thank the Lord that He continues to bring new friends into my life to encourage me and challenge me and draw me closer to His heart.

I love you, dear friend! And I'm only about 40% jealous.....and 60% happy for you....

June 23, 2011

Just wanted to say hi.

I'm off to make sure kids don't drown in the river.

Isn't that what everyone does from 6-7:30pm?

June 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, AB

Remember that time we crossed the pond? We had quite the adventure. A fantastic adventure that I still re-live in my head every once in a while.

It was freakin' cold. England in November....not exactly the most popular time to go. But totally worth it.

And then there was Scotland. A bloody hostel bed. Beautiful Loch Lomond. William Wallace statues. Coffee shops and bread and cheese for dinner. Girls who crinkle plastic bags at 3am.

No matter where we are, we manage to have a good time. Sorry to all the dead that we disturbed in our romp through the graveyard. And I sure hope G shows Thea this photo. She needs to know what her mom was like before she was born.

I'm blessed to have you in my life and thankful for the many (MANY!) years we have know each other, the talks we have, the laughs we shared, the tears we cried, the rooms we've shared.

I say it's time for another adventure. Maybe we should be a little more careful about the travel-mates we choose though, eh?

♥ you, sweet friend!

June 21, 2011

summer reading

Since it's the first day of summer, I suppose it's ok to finally post my summer reading list.

Was anyone else a big nerd like me and loved getting the summer reading list for school? I loved looking at that long list of titles. Little thrills of new worlds that were awaiting me. There's just something about summer weather, a good book and a beach chair or blanket that makes me giddy. N...E...R...D.

Here we go. For 2011. A long list that I will probably never be able to get through, but oh, I'm gonna try my darndest.

1. Decision Points. I'm in the thick of this one now and can't put it down. It's good, friends. So, so good. The tough thing is that it's a 14 day borrow from the library. Somehow I don't think my 12 hours work days are going to let me finish this one before it has to go back. Dilemma.

2. Bossypants. Another dilemma. Buy or library? Hmmm. Either way, I simply can't wait for this one. Tiny Fey is the bees knees. If she made it/wrote it/acted in it, I'm in.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird. It's time to take this off the "I really should/want to read this classic" list. This is the summer.

4. Autobiography of Mark Twain Vol. 1. Weighing in at almost 800 pages, this is the most likely to not get finished this summer. But, by golly, I sure do want to give it a go. I've loved Mark Twain's style since I was in elementary school. Tom Sawyer is one of my all time favorites. I would love to hear him talk about his crazy life in his own words.

5. The Screwtape Letters. It's rather horrible how little Lewis I have read. He's my Waterloo. Even the Narnia books. I have to re-read sentences over and over and over. But I'm determined. And a sweet friend loaned me this too, so I gotta read so we can discuss.

6. The Kite Runner. Because so many book loving friends have told me to. And because I want to see if all the fuss is really true. Another loan from a friend.

7. Sophie's Heart. No idea what to expect. But when a fellow booky tells you it's their favorite, then you must, right? I'll give it a go.

I ♥ the way summer becomes a giant lending library at camp. We swap books constantly. With little to no TV to distract us, we spend our free hours turning pages on pool lounge chairs and breezy piers, on the cool(er) evening sun soaked grass and on the front wall with the water lapping. There's rarely a time when you don't see someone hidden away in a quiet nook with a book open on their lap. It's the best.

ps...I also secretly dream that it's another HP summer and #8 will come out at midnight a few weeks from now. I'll head out to the bookstore with friends in tow at some un-godly hour just to stand in a ridiculously long line with about 300 children dressed in robes and carrying wands. I'll get up to the front of the line (finally) and grab that big thick book knowing that I have hours of pure adventure in front of me, mostly in the midnight hours. And good ol' J.K. won't disappoint. Oh, how I desperately miss those summer moments! They were treasured summer memories. I'm so jealous of those of you that still have those stories to read!

June 20, 2011

Day 1

The glamorous camp life. It looked like this today.

The crabbing chicken got tangled today. No, not Tangled. Little "t" tangled. In a major way. It took me an hour to fix it. And by "fix" I mean cut all the string and start all over again. You better believe I wore gloves. If not, I would have smelled like raw, rotten chicken the rest of the day. Not really my favorite scent. (gagging sound repeated several times)

Aside from that, Day 1 went really well. New counselors and staff finding their place, figuring out their role, realizing what they got themselves into for the rest of the 8 weeks they will be here. Kids were on the zip line for the first time. The leap of faith for the first time. It was exciting for us full-timers after months of prep and fundraising.

God is faithful. He provides. He's going to do big things this summer. I just know it.

June 19, 2011

And we begin...

Week 1.

Here it is.

Kids? check.

Counselors? ready and slightly nervous.

Management staff? on call for any problems.

Here we go.

Side note: Happy Father's Day to my Daddy-O. Got to be lazy and watch some of the US Open with him and my momma last night. It was lovely. I'm one lucky girl. My dad is the bestest.

Double side note: This auntie is desperately missing her little nuggets. Just look how sweet they are in this photo...

June 16, 2011

at "work" tonight

My boat died in the middle of the river this evening.

I was towing 8 of our staff on the banana boat.

Not the best time to have your boat die.

The weather was already on the "maybe we shouldn't be driving in this" side.

The waves were so big that driving into them meant getting absolutely soaked.

Our other boat had to pull up to ours (not the easiest thing in the world on rough seas),
pick up the banana,
take it back to shore,
drop off the banana,
drive back out to me (quickly floating down river because of the crazy wind),
and then we had to figure out the problem.

Thankfully, I was surrounded by my 2 other waterfront people and my roommate who was a calm spotter and kept everyone safe and happy on the banana.

And thankfully one of them (yeah for Ben!) remembered that last year a small fuse had blown.

And thankfully, we could just pull one out of another spot and stick it in the ignition spot.

And thankfully, thankfully, thankfully....the boat started right up.

Un-thankfully, I had to lie on my back under the steering column, praying that I wouldn't throw up because the boat was being tossed about like a toy when I was figuring out the fuse situation.

I was seasick for a good hour afterwards.

But I'll take a little seasickness as long as everyone is safe and the boat is running.

And I'm oh, so incredibly thankful for cool heads under stressful situations and the Hand of protection for all involved.

Happy to be back on non-rocking land,

Cottage Girl

June 15, 2011

everyday essence of oridinary life

"We are not meant to be seen as God's perfect, bright-shining examples, but to be seen as the everyday essence of ordinary life exhibiting the miracle of His grace. Drudgery is the test of genuine character. The greatest hindrance in our spiritual life is that we will only look for big things to do." - Oswald Chambers "My Upmost for His Hightest"

Only time for a quote today.
But Oswald always brings it.
Perfect way to start off my day.

Do you ever read My Upmost? It's a life changer, no matter how many times you've read it. The summer months are my favorite. It's so convicting.

June 14, 2011

Random facts and what I've been up to:

I changed my computer background to this photo. My niece, Evelyn, reminds me so, so much of my sister that it's scary. She has that determined (read: strong willed) streak in her. She loves deeply. She's good at manipulating. That little girl melts my heart.

When I told her I was leaving to fly back home after being there for 3 days, she promptly asked if she could come with me. I, of course, told her absolutely yes. I think in her young mind, the decision was made and she was coming. Thus, when I actually went to walk out the door, she was crushed and wouldn't have anything to do with me. I thought it was rather funny and quite endearing. I don't get to see my nieces (!) and nephew that often. Only a handful of times a year. So the fact they want to be near me and spend time with me and come running up to me when they see me for the first time in months with shouts of glee and big hugs, well that's just a wonder.

And you better believe that I will keep that promise of her coming to visit once she gets a little older (Sorry, sis. I'm gonna have to.)

I have been training boat drivers quite a bit lately. We have lots and lots of brand new staff this year. That happens every couple of years as our "old faithfuls" age out of the camp life. It's fun and sad all at the same time.

With this year being a big turnover year, I have the challenge of introducing a lot of new people to power boats and how to use them correctly. Thankfully, the Lord gave me my friend, Neal, this summer to help me with all the training. It would be an impossible job on my own.

I sometimes forget how scary it can be to turn over a $40,000 boat to a brand new driver and teach them how to safely operate it and keep all the children they are pulling behind them (on the banana and the tube) safe as well. Driving a boat is not an easy thing. It has taken me almost 11 years to feel confident in my ability to drive. And even still, it terrifies me at times.

I'm deep into a new book. I picked up Decision Points yesterday at the library and haven't been able to put it down. The first chapter alone was captivating. I happen to find GWB absolutely fascinating. Can't wait to read the rest.

I got to hand over a HUGE project that I've been working on for most of the spring. It felt like 300 lbs was lifted off my chest. During the year at camp, I'm the administrative assistant. During the months of March, April and May I added 2 more jobs on top of that. Now, I'm down to just one again. Waterfront. Kinda nice to just be in charge of one thing again.

It was 66 degrees when I woke up today. Last week it was 104. Everyone was in sweatshirts all day because it felt so cold compared to the heat wave of last week. And, of course, we were inside all day. It's only 104 when we have to do ropes training or work projects all day.

June 13, 2011

yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Not only is the movie poster eye catching and super fun, so is the movie.
If Cloverfield and The Goonies had a lovechild, it would be Super 8.
And I mean that in the best way possible.
Thank you, JJ Abrams, for making a movie that has characters with depth.
I sure do appreciate your love of a good story.
Then there's that Kyle Chandler....he can tell stories with just the look in his eyes.

June 12, 2011

Things I would like to do this weekend

1. Sleep in. Saturday and Sunday morning 6am boater training strike out. No sleeping in this weekend.

2. Stay up late. Getting up at 6am doesn't really lend itself to late night fun. 9:30pm bedtime for me.

3. Eat non-camp food. Accomplished! Lebanese food for dinner last night.

4. Go see Super 8. It's #1 on my summer movie must-see list. Hope it doesn't disappoint.

5. Blog. Accomplished!

6. Play catch up with family and friends that I have neglected because of my crazy schedule. Sorry everyone!

7. Drink lots of sun tea.

June 09, 2011

Vader loves the mouse too

I saw this on Zachary Levi's Twitter feed the other day. (yes, I follow/Twitter-stalk him. so?) I thought it was quite adorable, so I had to share.

The original Star Wars movies are three of my top movies of all time. I know them by heart. Empire Strikes Back is my absolute favorite and most watched.

Were you a SW fan, or did you loath it like my sister? And do you despise the new ones as much as I do?

June 08, 2011

I didn't have time to take a photo today

Dear blog 'o mine,
I miss you already.

Dear everyone who reads this,
Camp started today.
I already forget what having a personal life feels like.

See you in August.

ps...just to be clear, camp started today! Hallelujah. Prep time is nearing an end. 2 weeks for training and it's "game on."

June 07, 2011

What's in...

...my fridge: Not much of anything besides Brita water and Sun Tea. We start eating all meals over at the camp kitchen this week.

...my freezer: Tons of frozen fruit and spinach. Smoothie season is back.

...my car's CD player: Wolfgang Amadeus by Phoenix, Battlestar Season 4 Soundtrack Disc 1, Titanic the Musical, Takk by Sigur Ros and two other things I can't remember.

...my Zune: the last thing I listened to was this sermon by Mark Driscoll (so timely for camp's start) and some Brooke Fraser.

...my nightstand: My Bible. This book. Anne of Ingleside. (I never, ever get tired of Anne. Even after the 117th re-read. My sister gave me a weird face when she saw me pull it out of my bag and she said, "how many times have you read that?!). Journals. Just to name a few things.

...my purse: wallet from UO, keys, phone, small shopping bag and another Moleskin.

...my DVD player: Veronica Mars Season 1 (Loooohgan) and West Wing Season 2 (I think it's the best one).

...my DVR: Recently finished episodes of Vampire Diaries and Nikita (thank you CW for re-airing the seasons in their entirety.) and Anthony Bourdain. We also have some Jimmy Fallon and Oprah Behind the Scenes.

...my head: Camp, camp, CAMP. We start tomorrow. 60 new "kids" to meet and train. I can't believe it's here. Literally. It's also supposed be 125 degrees outside. Ughhhh.

...my heart: Jesus, of course!

Your turn.

June 06, 2011

loved by everyone

Eliza Grace arrived 2 weeks early. Shocked us all. This Auntie, however, is not complaining. Had she been born on time, I would not have met her until she was about 3 months old. That would have been tough to handle, let me tell you.

She's a tiny, almost 6 pound sweetie. So, so tiny. Just look at the way she fits on my lap. And a sleeper too. She rarely cried in the 3 days I got to spend with her. Plus, she loved to snuggle. Very unlike her brother and sister who were wiggle worms the moment they entered the world.

And these two....oh, my. They are head over heels for their new little sister. They ask for Baby Eliza the moment they wake up and about 50 times during the day, too. It's really adorable.

I have about 67 more photos to share, but I'll leave you with this new, happy family of 5. I have to pinch myself when I think about my little sister being a mom of 3. How in the world did that happen?

June 05, 2011

I'm home

And sometimes
it feels like
my heart
in several places
around the country.

I'm happy to be home,
but wishing I was there
and with my brother even further across the country
all at the same time.

Got lots of photos to share.
Sweet baby Eliza
is just that...

June 02, 2011

The day turned out alright after all

These 6 little pounds of 2 week early delight arrived in the middle of the night last night. She's happy, healthy and practically smothered to death with love from her big brother and sister. And she still doesn't officially have a name.

I threw caution to the wind and scooted up to see her for just a few days before camp begins. Completely irresponsible, but that's what aunties do, right?

I'll pop in when I can between stories and playing and snuggling.

June 01, 2011

It was one of "those" days


So, let's just pretend we're here, shall we?

There is potential for today to end in the most fantastic way.
Here's hopin'....

Any guesses why?