Not only do I realize that time actually does seem to fly, but I realize more and more with each passing day that every moment should be savored to the fullest. Seeing all nine and their smiling faces walk through the door, ready for yet another Nana Camp, puts an automatic smile on my face. Their enthusiasm is priceless. They are not the only ones that look so forward to this special time during the summer. I too am enthusiastic about Nana Camp. Several have asked me lately if Nana Camp actually gets harder or easier, as the kids grow older with each passing year. I really do not have an exact answer for that one. There are definitely some things that are easier, but there are also things that are harder. Others have asked me if I plan to just keep continuing with camp indefinitely. My answer to that is an easy one. I plan to continue until the very last one cannot come anymore, or I cannot myself continue.
Last year had to be shortened one day because I was put in the hospital with diverticulitis. I remember Paige telling me she went to the gym to pick up the kids, and tell them I had been put in the hospital. She said they all looked shocked and the first thing they said was, “Oh no! Does this mean we have to leave Nana Camp early?” Believe me, I had to make those two days up. That is worth it all.
Thursday, July 21
There is no other better way to kick off my birthday today than to begin Nana Camp. They are all nine here. That makes my day even better. Camden turned 14 on July 4. Carter and Joshua are both very soon, in a matter of a few weeks, approaching 13. I consider myself a very lucky Nana that I have all three of them with me from today until next Tuesday. They have so many activities they are involved with at school, and to work in a week with their grandmother would make any Nana proud. I told them all three today that I never want them to worry that I will be upset if they cannot come, because that would never be the case. I know that growing up means many things, especially much more involvement in other activities. Their summer calendar gets loaded very quickly. Joshua has had to leave and go to All Star practice now, but that is not a problem. His team is going to Maryland next week for the World Series, and guess what? Nana and Grampy are going up for a few days as well.
The kids had come over for three days a few weeks ago, and we sat down and talked about perhaps some new things they might like at Nana Camp this year. Each year I delete some things I think that were not as great as I had hoped they might be, and I add new things, I hope will be really great. I got a piece of paper and let all of them tell me things they would like. I was just blown away with some of the things they said. A couple of years ago I had written a pledge for them to sign, and I had orientation for everyone when they arrived. I went over all the rules and consequences and opened it up to a question/answer period. I had separate laundry baskets for them to keep items in, and I decorated the house with signs. I put names of cabins on the bedroom doors, just like you would find at a regular summer camp. The funny thing to me was that they all wanted to sign a pledge, name the rooms, and they wanted a bath schedule. When I did all of those things I thought it was probably something insignificant to them, therefore I did not do all of it last year. They were all talking about how all of that was so awesome, and I just thought to myself how it’s the little things that can make them so happy. It doesn’t have to be big things at all.
One huge thing that came out of our conservation concerning the upcoming Nana Camp was that they said they did not want to go anywhere, do any camps, but just stay at Nana’s and play games. I asked them if they knew what was one of the main reasons that I did the camps for them. Ha, I don’t think they realized it, but that time was for me. (Yes, I am the one aging and need downtime, quiet downtime.) I have let them do crafts, cheer, sports activities, and many other things. They said they loved all of those things, but they just wanted to stay here all week and do games. Well, this year is all about game time. I have looked and searched so much on-line, and have written down 67 games in the booklet that I mailed all of them for this year’s camp.
One other thing I did was I added a Great American Cook-off Contest. The girls are all beginning to enjoy cooking, so I thought it might be fun. Putting everything into action for this year was a challenge, especially with so many games. I wrote out another pledge and started planning. They also asked for some quiet time, which I have EVERY SINGLE YEAR. I love it. They also asked for some free time, which I also have every year. I did add some time onto free time this year. Since they are getting older, I thought they might enjoy it a little more.
So, Cabin A is the Boutique Suite, assigned to the girls for the week. Cabin D is the Roughhousing Coliseum, and is assigned to the boys. Lunch is served in the Twilight Zone everyday. All campers met in Rottweiler Manor for orientation. Bath number one was The Crawdad Hole, and bath number two is Serenity Springs.
Drawers were assigned, all supplies were put up, and we kicked off a new camp. This year’s rules and consequences are as follows: (Yes, some years Nana’s rules and consequences have to change a bit.)
Nana Camp Rules
· No screaming
· No pranking ( Dear me! I still remember last year!)
· Abide by the golden rule
· Respect others & their property
· Clean up after yourself
· No arguing
· Keep all cabins clean
· Take responsibility for yourself
· Whatever happens at nana’s stays at nana’s
· No tattling
Consequences for breaking rules
· You will be removed from your cabin for the night
· You will clean other cabins
· You will clean common areas
· Limited popsicles
· Mom and dad will be called
· You will write 50 or 100 times the rule you broke
It’s about midnight right now and only a few are still awake. We were late finishing up our games for the day, and once I get behind, it is tough to catch up. The Cookie Catch game was a big hit, and Pass the Banana was as well. We only did about 13 games tonight, but the kids were great playing some on their own, and it took longer than expected. Grampy had a great Prime Time lesson on “Time.” It was about how so many things get in the way for families. He told them that God should always be our top priority, and time spent in God’s word should always be first in our lives.
This Nana is pooped. This Nana is happy and blessed.
Friday, July 22
EVERYONE was up very early. I know that Ben and Anna had told me the night before Nana Camp started that Abbie couldn’t sleep. She had told them her body was filled with so much energy, and said it was because she was so excited about Nana Camp. That makes a Nana’s heart happy. When the campers are here they really don’t get a lot of sleep. If one or two are awake they tend to keep the others up, even if they don’t mean to.
I am questioning myself BIG TIME! What was I thinking when I added this year a brand new, “The Great American Cook-off?” Oh yes, I remember now, I WAS NOT THINKING! If I am perfectly honest though, it might be because I am probably over cautious about things. Today we had two teams that cooked cookies, cupcakes, and made pies. I let the kids use a hand held mixer. Their little fingers came just too close to the beaters too many times. I finally decided that I had to be right there the entire time they were using the mixer. A couple of times I ended up unplugging it and taking it to my bedroom, until someone needed it, and they came looking for me to locate the mixer. I was afraid they might mix while I was washing clothes or doing other chores, and I could just imagine screams and their fingers wound around those beaters.
I have never laughed so much to discover their comprehension over how to puree food. They smashed and smashed with their hands, which ended up a royal mess. It was a great experience.
A graham cracker pie shell was dropped in the floor without Nana being aware of it, but never fear because they decided to just pick it all up, (all of it they could with their hands), and smash it back down in the pan to make a brand new one. I would have probably never known except that Macy came and told me what had happened, but she assured me it was not a problem because they had followed the five-second rule. I asked her if she had been watching a Hallmark movie that talked about the five-second rule and she told me she didn’t think so. When I talked to all of them, most of them knew also about the five-second rule. That beat all I had ever seen, because I had never heard of any five-second rule until that movie. They explained that if something dropped on the floor and you picked it up within five seconds that it was okay and no problem to eat anyway. HA – Nana doesn’t like that rule. Also, one team forgot to put brown sugar in the cookie recipe, and had to dip it all out, put it all back in the bowl, add the brown sugar, and mix again. Then when the cupcakes had all cooled, and it was time to put on the icing, one team iced their cupcakes and they used the other teams icing without realizing it. Really? Oh well! These things do happen.
After all the cooking, breaking of eggs, sifting flour, measuring sugar, oil, cocoa, and all sorts of other ingredients, can anyone even imagine what the Morrow household kitchen floor looked like? Yep, it was a sight to behold. This was the time Nana called a special meeting with the cooking teams and explained that they did not all run and play and leave the kitchen after their fun cooking experience. They were now all in charge of cleanup. Well, that did not take these little angels but about ten minutes and they left again. Whoops! There just had to be another meeting. The job that was done had a grade of D, totally unacceptable. I do think it was a sweet little learning experience.
The big boys came back in from their golf outing with Grampy just as the teams were finishing up their pies. Camden had told me last night that he was not cooking and that when he got married one day his wife would be the one doing all of the cooking. Carter said he would love to learn to cook and he was going to participate in the cook-off. Joshua didn’t seem to care one way or the other, and Noah decided to join a cooking team so he too could learn to cook. The boys all, including Camden, informed me that tomorrow they were going to be team three, and be in the cook-off of baking a pound cake. This should really be an interesting cook-off.
The cookies and cupcakes were taken to the assisted living where grandmother lives. The kids had a ball going out there. They sang for the residents and just sat and talked for a while. It was great.
Games tonight were fun. We were only able to get in about five or six, but all nine seemed to enjoy them. I think balloon badminton, carpet golf, and marble toss were probably the most fun. Once again, we are late with baths. Tonight is movie night and they get to watch a movie until midnight. Imagine trying to find a great movie that all nine kids would love when ages range from 7-14. Everybody wants something different. I am in my bedroom now trying to finish today’s journal while they are getting in the showers, so it will be interesting to see what movie is finally decided on.
This Nana is signing off from night number two. They are all in the den ready for Grampy’s nighttime Prime Time devo. All is well.
Saturday, July 23
The kids didn’t wake up until almost 8 this morning. Noah was the first one up. He came to me first thing and told me he wanted to talk to me. I knew he was very serious by the look on his face. I asked him what he wanted to talk about, and he proceeded to tell me he thought it would be a good idea if I could stick according to the schedule today, because up until now I have been behind with practically everything. I told him I would try hard, but I couldn’t make any promises. That seemed to pacify him, at least for the time being. I think he is going to be a great employee for someone someday, or even better, maybe he will own his own business. He will be punctual, and make sure everything is done and completed on time to the letter. Those are great qualities. They are just not things that are at the top of my Nana Camp list. I would rank pure survival at the pinnacle. LOL
Today was our water day. Grampy took Camden fishing in Judy Young’s pond. He tried to talk Carter, Joshua, and Noah into going with him, but all three declined. We played a couple of water games, and it was just too hot for this Nana. I let them stay outside on the double slip and slide for a while. Grampy soon sent a picture of Camden with this huge carp fish that he caught. Carter immediately wanted to go fishing. By the time Camden caught a second big one we jumped in the car and headed to Mrs. Judy’s ponds.
Camden later ended up catching two large mouth bass also, and then it seemed even the fish were too hot to bite any bait. The kids went swimming in Mrs. Judy’s pool, and I didn’t care at all about how much they splashed me. It actually felt good in the heat.
I had bought two packs of those balloons that you just hook in a water hose and they fill up, tie off, and fall into a bucket. I let Joshua and Carter take care of that chore, and things just didn’t work out. I think the water pressure just wasn’t enough.
We ended up going to Zaxby’s, and then on to Yogurt Mountain. After dinner we played some more games. Paige and Rodney came by later to drop off some corn his dad had grown, and I begged Rodney to play “GROG,” (whatever that is) with the kids. They had been wanting to play with Nana and Grampy, and it seemed everyone explained rules differently to us. The kids loved it, but Nana and Grampy kept thinking how we are just too old to enjoy some games. There was lots of screaming and running and bumping around. They all declared that Rodney was the very best “GROG” ever.
Caley just came in our bedroom and asked me if we could have some quiet time tomorrow. Marah was right behind her saying we didn’t have any free time today. Well, you know, they were both right. I am hopeful I just might double up on both of those things tomorrow afternoon.
It is 11:15 pm and I still hear many voices. I am not sure I can get up off of my bed right now, but I am hopeful they will all be sleepy soon. I think I will give them fifteen minutes before I have to go and tell them someone will be writing sentences tomorrow if I hear another word. I just heard Noah yell that everyone in the house needs to just be quiet. I second that.
Much love from Nana.
Sunday, July 24
Today was loaded. It was a leisurely morning getting up, eating breakfast, and leaving for church services. The afternoon was going full force getting ready for tonight. Nana and Grampy decided to have the church youth over to play games with the grandkids. It was rainy, so we decided to change the event from our house to the church annex. Most of the afternoon time was spent going back and forth taking things down to the building. After services we spent about two hours playing lots of games. It was so much fun. I am so glad Dale and Michael let the youth participate.
The kids all came straight home wanting to play “GROG.” Nana and Grampy told them we thought tomorrow night might be a better choice. LOL – No night might be the best choice. I know it is probably a great game, but the loud squeals just seem to vibrate in my ears. I thought it was suppose to be a quiet game. That never happened here.
It is only 9:00 pm and I am sitting on my bed. They are all busy doing different things. The main thing is that they are actually quieter tonight than any night thus far. I sort of think we have just totally worn them out. Perhaps it is just that they have worn this Nana and Grampy out. They have more energy than I can remember ever having. We still have not had much of any quiet time and free time. I sure hope that I can squeeze that in tomorrow. I would love it. Grampy is sitting in the recliner beside the bed sleeping away. I guess he is tired too.
It is sad to think there are only two days left with these nine. I have enjoyed them so much. There are lots of games to play tomorrow. The cooking teams have dip to make, and Grampy is taking the guys out for a special excursion. I am looking forward to a great day.
Monday, July 25
Have I mentioned before that when I fix breakfast it means lots of food? I usually use a dozen eggs at a time. I cook about 10-12 biscuits, two pounds of bacon, and that is just for ONE breakfast. We have already gone through two gallons of milk, half gallon of grape juice, one half gallon orange juice, and a gallon of chocolate milk. LOL – All of that does not include all the lemonade, tea, Kool-Aid, and 100 bottled waters either. This Nana will not break the rule of controversial issues by listing how many popsicles, two-liter soft drinks, big bags of M & M’s and Reese’s pieces, and bags of chips that have gone missing. I have been surprised that the three boxes of cereal are not even halfway used up. I also have used an entire box of pancake mix.
Noah found that he enjoyed the syrup so much on his pancakes yesterday morning, that he loaded his eggs with it this morning. Macy takes after Nana and loads her eggs with ketchup. It’s funny all the little things that makes them all so different when it comes to food. Caley is the healthy eater and is gluten free. I get her the Udis’s gluten free bread, and I have found that I love it myself. I fix her cheese toast, and it is actually delicious. She is wonderful about making healthier choices in all of her foods. I think it might be because she knows how much better she feels when she eats that way. I get a lot of the Boar’s Head turkey, ham, and Wisconsin cheese. My main fruits for Nana Camp are strawberries, bananas, and cantaloupe.
I have carried out 18 bags of garbage from the kitchen alone, another three from each restroom, and Nana Camp isn’t even over. I have used 8 rolls of paper towels, but I use paper towels for tons of things. I love using paper towels. Even though I have used paper plates, plastic forks, spoons, and cups, I have still washed 10 loads of dishes in the dishwasher. Most of that is probably due to my cooking, and the Great American Bake-Off.
We had 4 pizzas left over from hosting the youth group last night at church, and this Nana was thrilled to have those extra pizzas. Lunch today was ready made. What a bonus for me! I was supposed to have cooked for dinner tonight, but I just didn’t have it in me. With heat index days of 105, and the kids in and out, I decided to just give Grampy a call, and see if it would be agreeable with him to go out. What a Grampy! His answer was, “absolutely.” I just bet he could hear the tone in my voice that told him I was about pooped, and cooking dinner would definitely add to that. I save up money all year for Nana Camp, so going out one extra time than was planned is okay.
Bailey asked me first thing if it was tomorrow they were leaving instead of today. When I told her it was she just said, “YES” loudly, and went on her way. It always makes me smile knowing they are having a really good time together.
I had to wake Joshua up this morning and give him the news that he was going to football practice. He will be leaving Thursday flying out to Maryland for the World Series Baseball games. We have our fingers crossed they will win. It is just so awesome that they are going. I think they are the only 12-year old team from Florence to make it to the World Series. Go Team! When he was picked up from practice he said he had thrown up, because he ran so many times in the heat. Bless him.
Grampy and I were sitting in the bedroom, and he looked at me and just shook his head. The kids had already finished, and we were just taking a few minutes to finish up ourselves. The kids were loud, which is usually how it is. I just smiled and I asked him to tell me what he heard. He said he heard what sounded like 50 kids screaming, stampeding, and rip-roaring through the house. I told him I hear our 9 grandkids having the time of their life. When nine are playing full force, things just cannot be too quiet. It’s okay by me. There are definitely times I stop them all, scream to the top of my lungs, “Everyone in Rottweiler Manor right now!!!” I have a major talk on how I have had it, and they are to sit quietly and not say one single word until I tell them to. Wow! That reminds me. Not one single camper has ended up crying this year. I need to knock on wood because camp has not ended. Every single year there are always campers that end up crying for various reasons. Normally I find that those crying complain about someone being mean to them, not letting them watch something they want to watch on television, someone being unfair, and so on and so forth. That has not happened YET! So when there are loud voices of kids just playing, and those 9 happen to be my grandchildren, then I let it go, unless they go too far.
I am so so happy that the Great American Bake-Off ended today. The girls finished with their last recipes of making dip. The boys were the judges on the dip, and I am thrilled to announce that the teams tied the Great American Bake-Off. Marah, Bailey, and Noah’s team won the cookie and cupcake competition. Caley, Abbie, and Macy’s team won the dip and pie competition. Although we had many judges from the church youth group, I do not think there was any general consensus on the winner of the cakes from the boy’s team and the girl’s team. Everyone loved both of them, although Mr. Chris did say he thought the girl’s cake was a little better. The boys cake did not rise nearly as much as the girls, and Nana thinks it was probably because they added chocolate syrup, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, and another unknown ingredients their recipe did not include.
We didn’t even start games today until 1:30. Everybody was busy doing this and that. It was a wonderful reprieve for me. I was able to get so much around the house done. I kept asking if they were ready to start games and many said, “Just give us a few more minutes.” I took that as a fantastic response. I will be honest and tell you upfront when the kids are playing on their own, and everyone seem to be enjoying what they are doing, this Nana disappears. I can generally be found in one of three places. First would be in the kitchen, which is always in disarray. Second would be in the laundry room, where mounds of clothes can be found waiting for the washer or dryer to finish. I have no answer why, but I think this is the first year I just cannot seem to keep up with the laundry. It seems like it is on 24-7. Third, which is my very favorite place, and my serene hideaway, is Nana’s and Grampy’s bedroom. It is my sanctuary during Nana Camp. Many times I do not end up alone. It seems when the kids are looking for me, and find me hiding out there, they end up staying with me to just talk. I do not mind at all. I love one on one time with them. When you have nine that time can be illusive. That is one thing I feel I need to do a much better job with.
When we did kick off the games for the day everything went really good and really quickly. I have got to give a shout out to my older grandsons. They participated in every game, and very enthusiastically, I might add.
We had been waiting for the one game that they all love hoping for cooler temperatures, which never happened. The game is the biggest mess Nana has ever seem. It is the popcorn toss. They all put plastic caps on their heads with shaving cream put all over the caps. Camden, Carter, and Joshua opted to toss popcorn, and everyone else runs around, moving their heads back and forth, hoping to get all the popcorn they can to stick to their head. Shaving cream ends up everywhere. I literally mean everywhere. It is definitely an outside game. We have used cheese balls or corn curls, but found that popcorn is much cheaper. They will usually put a garbage bag over their body with their arms inside the bag, but tonight we ran out of daylight, and had to do it when it was practically dark. We just didn’t have time to put on the garbage bags. We rushed this game. I need to remember next year to do it within the first few days, and take the time needed for it to be great. The only thing about having this camp “game week” is that kids can play a game in a matter of minutes, and then that game is over, and they are ready for the next one. We went through the games one after another very quickly.
They have definitely had much more free time this camp than any other, and I think they have enjoyed it immensely. I was a tad concerned about them being here 24-7, and this Nana not having any rest time, but I actually made it just as good as I did when they did other things.
It’s hard to believe tonight is the last night of Nana Camp, 2016. Parents will be coming in late tomorrow afternoon for camper pick-ups, and we have definitely had another successful summer camp. Grampy will be taking the guys very early in the morning to complete the final rounds of the golfing they started a couple of days ago.
Guess what? I still have not had one day of quiet time and rest time. Every single day I say I will definitely do it tomorrow, but I never do. I forget, and not one of the nine remind me until later at night. Perhaps tomorrow I can persuade them to extend the times for those tomorrow. It is only 9:00 pm and I have retreated to the bedroom while they are finishing baths. I am sitting here on my bed just smiling thinking to myself, “I do not hear a peep out of anyone.”
Tomorrow will be sad for me, and it will also be a smiley time for me. Time does go by too swiftly.