Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sand and Sun

Looking at our inked up calendar I realized there would be no leisure family days until August. That just isn't right! Summer vacation should have plenty of mornings of waking up thinking "Hey, there's nothing to do today...let's go to the beach." I may be able to do that with part of the Bitting bunch, but the bossy day planner says no to all of us at the same time. Darn that overbearing agenda keeper.

When Hubby came home and announced he had a couple days off in the middle of the week I made more markings on the calendar, "Going to the beach". I had to get over the fact that all eight of us weren't available to go. Dakota was at church camp staff training for the week. And since she wasn't able to come with us and sit surfside, I had no problem leaving another child behind too. I'm sure you can guess which one!
If you guessed this one, you're a winner.
We packed the pails and the coolers and headed north. Lake Michigan is the closest thing to the ocean for us midwesterners. The weather was perfect! The water was too cold for my liking but I was thoroughly content laying on the sand reading and watching the kids or just closing my eyes and feeling my too pale skin soak up the sun.

"I haven't touched soft sand in so long"- emmaly
I wish I could tell you that we were ALL looking forward to the great time to be had. But....I live with teenagers. The last minute plans didn't allow for friends to come along. This caused a little bit of grumpiness at first.

But who can go to a dreamy place like Silver Beach and stay pouty?

There can still be tears even in the middle of having fun.

I would have been happy to stay there until late evening but I was outvoted. Probably a good thing because my sunblock was wearing off. (Well, if I would have wore any sunblock....)

I did get my way about going on a walk down the long pier. We watched crazy teens run and somersault off the side into unsupervised water. Something I'm sure my boy would have been doing if he was with his friends and not his mom. It's sad and scary that there was a drowning yesterday at this very spot.

Water is a fear I have learned to overcome (mostly) since I was a kid. Not being able to swim until I was almost a teenager left me feeling vulnerable, especially when my dad's idea of teaching me was just throwing me in the deep end. Thanks, Dad. ;) I'm sure, unlike me,  he felt totally confident that I would be fine. My only water fear now is with my unafraid, adventurous, water-loving two year old. Oh, and I'm not fond of crossing high bridges that stretch on for miles....but that's another story.

We missed you, Kodi! too, Faith. Next time! One of the best parts of my day was on the way home when a certain teenager said, "I'm glad we went, Mom. I had a really fun time." Me too, let's do it again soon!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hay Day

Summer is my favorite season. I want it to be autumn with her contrasting colors, earthy smells and promise of cool nights. But the heart wants what it wants and summer has always been my love.

Sunshine and warmth are the backdrop for most of my favorite childhood memories. Summertime and fun go hand in hand. In my mind it is a time for taking a break from school and fixed schedules. A time for staying up late and sleeping in, lazy days spent sipping sweet iced tea while soaking in the sun's rays. Lake trips, picnics under the trees, flowers in full bloom, camping with family, catching fireflies, playing tennis, fishing in the dark, vacation days, star gazing, flip-flops, fresh produce....yes, I am in love with summer!

Even if the reality of summer is not what my mind portrays it to be, I feel refreshed during this time of year. More alive. Maybe even younger.

Along with my favorite season comes one of my favorite smells....freshly cut alfalfa hay. (Hello, Yankee Candle makers! I have a new scent for you to produce!) Being the daughter of a hay maker, I have a special place in my heart for tractors and hay fields. I can't say that I loved spending my summer vacations hot, sweaty, and scratched up with sore muscles from baling hay but I do have some pretty great memories, especially since my friends were always willing to sacrifice their freedom to slave away on McCoy Acres. Knowing we would most likely be jumping into a lake or pool afterward was also a wonderful incentive!

Having not baled hay in many years, I was looking forward to the sting of hay bit forearms and working up a thirst that only the community water jug could quench. (Truly, Dad, I was!) I think there is a rule that the temperature must be above 90* to work with hay...ugh!

I like watching my men throw the 50+ pound bales over their heads like it was nothing. 

the McCoy baby brother

Emmaly took a few self portraits while the camera was in her care. Love this one!

I pay my workers in affection. They are so appreciative.

A day of hard work is good for the soul. And word on the there is a field mowed and ready for baling this Saturday. (Of course the temps are to be record highs!) Come on over, we have plenty of cowboy boots and gloves to share. Come see how farm kids have fun!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Beauty Beyond the Skin

Fourteen years ago my beautiful Brooklyn Alexis joined our quickly growing family. She was perfect in every way. Life was never dull with three kids ages three and under.

  When she was 6 weeks old I noticed a bump on her forehead. I wondered what might have happened and imagined it had something to do with her rough and tumbly three year old big brother. After a couple days with no change, I made a doctor appointment. She was diagnosed with a harmless hemangioma (benign tumor).  We were told that it would most likely disappear on its own by the time she was five. I was relieved it was nothing serious but also vainly sad that my precious baby would be looked at like she had a "flaw". Everywhere we went well meaning strangers would ask what happened. Once protective, big brother answered the question with, "She was born with it, but we think she's beautiful anyway."

Of course I saw her as a beauty inside and out. By age 4 her bump was almost completely gone. Her personality demanded attention, in a good way. She loved people unbiasedly and unconditionally. The joy she exuded was seen by all. Her compassionate heart and spunky attitude are a wonderful combination.

Shortly after her 11th birthday I noticed her skin looked two-toned and uneven. She would usually tan to a golden bronze during the summer months, but parts of her arms and legs weren't getting dark. It was determined that she has an auto immune disorder called Vitiligo. It wasn't very obvious at first. More research told that it will get worse with time. Again, I was feeling sadly bummed for her imperfections (for her sake). If any personality can overcome superficial obstacles, Brooklyn's can. She could be a spokesperson on how skin flaws are much cooler than being boringly normal like everyone else.

Her 11 year old response was, "Well, I always liked Paint Horses best." (Come on, Dad, buy this girl a horse!)
taken by Apryl
True to the books, her skin has gotten worse the older she gets. She has a confidence that exceeds the curious stares. She refuses to wear long sleeves and jeans to cover her splotchy pigment. She sometimes gets questioned and is never embarrassed. Once at church camp a fellow camper came up to her and said, "Awesome, you are camouflaged!" I wanted to find that boy's mom and tell her what a great kid she had.

There is no cure for Vitiligo. The options are make up or procedures that add or take away remaining pigment. (So don't be dissing Michael Jackson's decision to become white. He, too, had this crazy disorder.)

Brooklyn has taught me how to be confident and joyful in all circumstances. God has blessed her with many talents. I'm thrilled that I get to be part of her life and watch her grow and become who God is calling her to be. And let me tell you, this special girl is anything but camouflage!