Saturday, August 20, 2011

National Lampoon's (oops, Patterson's) Vacation

I mentioned our trip to Colorado for adoptive family camp in THIS POST.  Since I didn't have internet at the camp, I was unable to post photos and give updates.  I use this blog partially as my journal when at all possible, so I really want to record this trip, complete with photos (iPhone photos...not the greatest quality, but convenient to capture our memories), so that our memory of our first adoptive family camp will be recorded here.
This photo was taken just outside Raton, New Mexico, on the Colorado side of the border.  We "camped" here Friday night, August 5, on our way to family camp.  We loaded up our RV and left our home in Texas Thursday night, August 4.  We stayed in Amarillo Thursday night, just long enough to catch some sleep, then we were up and at 'em Friday morning, bound for Colorado. We drove all day Friday, August 5, and parked at this small little campground just outside Raton.  It was FABULOUS to wake to cool temperatures,with a beautiful view of Colorado mountain ranges, on Saturday morning!

The generator in our RV completely broke Saturday (it was puttering on and off during our drive Friday...if you look closely in the photo above, you'll see Matt kneeling down at the back of the RV inspecting the generator), but we were just grateful it decided to quit completely die AFTER we got into cooler temps!  We opened the windows of the RV and enjoyed the crisp mountain air as we headed to Westcliffe, Colorado.
This video shows the kids "rockin' out" in the RV as we traveled.

We arrived at Westcliffe on Saturday, August 6, several hours before the camp allowed for early check-in, so we hung out at a beautiful park in the quaint town of Westcliffe.  The kids played football and Frisbee while Mom, Dad, Kiefer, and Selah napped in the camper. 
Family camp officially started Sunday, August 7, but they allowed families to check in a day early to get settled in. Around 5PM, Saturday, August 6, we pulled into the parking lot at Horn Creek Camp, eager to get "moved in" to our cabin and prepare for family camp. We registered and were told we would have two cabins because they couldn't accommodate 11 people in one cabin, so we split our family into girls and boys. We had 6 girls (including Mom) in one cabin and 5 boys (including Dad) in the other cabin.

If you look closely, there's a tiny cottontail bunny sitting on the porch of this cabin, which was an unoccupied cabin directly across from our boys' cabin.  The cute little bunny hung around the entire time.  Many times there are special little gifts like this when we take trips without our Princess Chrissie.  Jesus will surprise us with something unexpected that reminds us of the presence of our little lovie in heaven.  Thank you, Jesus, for all of your good gifts.
This sweet little "love bunny" sat and watched us unload all of our stuff as we transformed the cabins into our home away from home for a week.  (A background story about the "love bunny" is that we used to hide a little stuffed bunny in unexpected places for our kids (and spouse!) to discover and be reminded of our love for the person who found the bunny.  Whoever discovered the hidden "love bunny" was to hide it for someone else in the family to discover.  God gave us the gift of a real, live "love bunny" on this trip!)

 The kids worked HARD to pull everything we'd packed into our motor home and haul it to the two cabins, as the little love bunny patiently watched. We had SO MUCH stuff to accommodate a family of 11 for 10 days of being away from home. We had baby supplies (diapers, wipes, baby food, bottles, formula, toys, Bumbo seat, blankets, pack-n-play), food allergy provisions (all of Sawyer's pre-made food and snacks, plus extras for Matt), plus the ordinary things such as 10 days worth of clothing for warm weather, clothing for cool weather, a variety of shoes (water shoes, flip-flops/Crocs, tennis shoes, hiking boots, etc.), jackets, bed rails (top bunks at the cabins don't have rails), plus toiletries, towels, bedding, etc. Oh my, it was A LOT.

   The boys dumped all of the girls' necessities directly at the entrance to the girls' cabin (see photo above), but I was just grateful to have everything unloaded.  I truly rejoiced that I didn't have to unload it all by myself!!!  We were having some serious altitude adjustments, going from Texas altitude to 8,000 feet at the base of the Sangre de Cristos mountains near Westcliffe, Colorado.  It was hard enough on our lungs just to walk from the RV to the cabin, much less carry 20-50 pounds of luggage at a time.  So grateful for the help of our kids!
This video shows Ella keeping Selah entertained while Mommy unpacked things in both cabins.

Shortly after our arrival, several of us got sick.  Really sick.  Kiefer vomited all night Saturday night, plus he had a high fever and nasty cough.  Matt had severe altitude sickness.  Selah was F-U-S-S-Y and didn't sleep most of Saturday night.  Meribeth and Mattie both had a chronic cough, and I came down with a severe allergy attack.  I sneezed, coughed, wheezed, and had itchy eyes and throat for most of the stay at family camp, but it was  most severe Saturday night.  I took a Zyrtec that literally knocked me out for a full day.  I could NOT wake up.  And Matt couldn't get out of bed due to his altitude sickness.  Plus Kiefer was unable to move due to his severe illness and fever, and he wasn't happy unless he was nestled into Daddy's chest.

Needless to say, Matt, Kiefer, and Mom all spent Sunday in bed.  Asleep.  Wrestling with illness.  Not fun.

Selah slept well Sunday night, praise God! 

Kiefer did not.  He screamed in pain much of Sunday night, complaining that his belly hurt, directly at his belly button.  The pain would wake him from his sleep, and he was pretty much inconsolable.  We contemplated taking him to the ER, with concerns about appendicitis.  We prayed over him continuously, and around 3AM, he fell asleep and rested well until Monday morning.

When he woke Monday morning, he had no more pain and no more fever!  We were so relieved, and Kiefer was eager to have some fun.  He begged us to take him to the water slides at the camp, so after lunch, we spent our day hanging out at the water slides.

Kiefer LOVED the water slides!

So did Ella!
And Sawyer, too!
Ella enjoyed hanging out in the heated waiting area of the slide pool.
Selah enjoyed hanging out in her daddy's arms, playing with his "Boss Your Heart" necklace.
Unfortunately, by the time Monday  night rolled around, Kiefer was once again awakened from his slumber with severe abdominal pain.  Once again, we prayed over him and begged God for healing of whatever was causing this severe stomach pain.  Kiefer didn't vomit anymore (after Saturday night), but the pain seemed to come on without warning, and it was S-E-V-E-R-E.  Kiefer is a TOUGH guy who very rarely complains about pain, and this pain was waking him from deep sleep, causing him to scream in pain repeatedly.  We almost took him to the ER in the middle of the night Monday night, but, once again, around 3AM, he settled in to sleep and rested peacefully for the remainder of the night.

Tuesday morning the big kids (mature, responsible, trustworthy, strong-swimmers:  Parker, Meribeth, Mattie and Sawyer) went on a white-water rafting trip.  Don, one of the awesome volunteers at Horn Creek, drove them to their day excursion, while Matt and I contemplated what to do about Kiefer.  We decided to take him to the Westcliffe medical clinic for an exam by a doctor.  On our way into the quaint little town, Kiefer perked up and was feeling much better.  He wanted to eat lunch.  Matt needed to pick up some parts for the generator, and I desperately needed to do some laundry at the local laundromat, so we altered our plan a tad.  We started laundry at the laundromat, then took the other kids to eat an early lunch at a local restaurant.

Selah enjoyed her very first "big kid" meal.  She's 10 months old and scarfed down a homemade burger with homemade fries!  I had forgotten Selah's baby food back at the camp, and she was determined to steal my plate, so I shared with her.  And, guess what?  She LOVED it, and she had no problem chewing up the food and swallowing it.  Who knew?!?

While we were waiting for our meal, Kiefer began to shake and shiver.  He crawled into Daddy's lap and wouldn't eat his meal.  He once again complained that his belly hurt, and his fever came back, so we left the restaurant, stopped by the laundromat to put the clothes in the dryer, then went to the medical clinic.

The nurse at the medical clinic took one look at Kiefer and advised us to take him to the ER at the nearest hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, about a 2 hour drive from Westcliffe.  They were also afraid that he had appendicitis.  We prayed and decided it would be best to return the other kids to the camp, under Naomi's supervision, in case Kiefer needed to have surgery.  Matt really wanted Kiefer to have both his mommy and his daddy there, so we went back to camp, packed a bag for Mom, Dad, Kiefer and Baby, got the other kids settled (Naomi, Asher, and Ella), then took off for the hospital.

Directly upon our mid-afternoon arrival at the hospital, the ER doctor immediately took Kiefer (and Dad, Mom and Baby) into a room.  He listened to Kiefer breathe, and immediately declared that he felt Kiefer had pneumonia.  They did a chest x-ray, which confirmed pneumonia, so they wrote a prescription for Azithromycin (Z-pack).

But we were still concerned about Kiefer's unexplained stomach pain.  The doctor agreed to do further testing to rule out appendicitis, so they spent several hours completed those tests.  Kiefer had blood drawn, an IV placed, a urinalysis, and a CT chest and stomach scan.  Thankfully, everything came back showing that the appendix was fine, but it did show that Kiefer had a lot of stool in his intestines, which, compounded with the lower right lobe of his lung being infected, could possibly have been the cause of his stomach pain.  (Still didn't seem like it would be so severe to wake Kiefer in the night with screaming pain, especially considering he's such a tough boy, but there was no other explanation.)

Kiefer fell asleep on Momma while waiting for his CT scan.

And Selah fell asleep on Dadda while waiting in the hospital for her big brother to get better.
(Selah had a huge poop that ruined her leggings.  Ugh.  National Lampoon's Patterson's Vacation.  Never a dull moment.)

Finally, around 8:30PM, Kiefer was discharged from the hospital with instructions to take his Z-Pack for pneumonia and Miralax for the constipation.  We got Kiefer's prescription filled, ate a little supper (Kiefer didn't eat as he had fever and felt miserable), and then headed back to family camp.

Kiefer wanted to sleep in the bed at the very back of the motor home during our drive back.  I gave him his first 2 dosages of the Z-pack, as prescribed, and then Kiefer fell asleep in the back bed.  About an hour into our drive, Kiefer vomited, wet his pants (and bed), and also pooped in his pants (diarrhea).  He was one sick boy. :-(

You can't really appreciate trying to clean up such a mess while stabling oneself in the back of an RV, in the dark (because the generator was broken), trying to keep a very sick boy for falling over (and trying to keep Mom from falling over) while winding through a very rough, winding, bumpy mountain road.  Think about the movie RV and the "off road" trip that Robin Williams took the "Rolling Terd" down.  Now you can appreciate what I was experiencing.  Somewhat.  I threw Kiefer's underwear in the trash, scrambled to locate wipes (in the dark) to clean him up, laid some towels on the bed to cover the urine and vomit, and then Kiefer went back to sleep.  Ugh!

We arrived back at family camp around midnight.  Kiefer transferred to his cabin bed easily and slept peacefully through the night with his daddy.  Selah, not so much.  She had napped in her car seat on the 2-hour ride home, so upon our arrival to our cabin, she was ready to play and eat.  For her, it seemed like she'd just had a nap and it was only mid-afternoon again!

The following morning, Wednesday, Kiefer woke feeling MUCH better, praise the Lord.  He was able to play and enjoy the day, although he was tired and winded from his pneumonia.  Wednesday night was "western night", so we got dressed up in our "normal" attire and joined the festivities.
Kiefer brought his toy gun and bull-riding vest!

Sawyer brought his sister's pink camo bandanna, as if that would make him more of a cowboy!

Ella wore her "Forever Cowboys" shirt with a cowgirl vest, while Selah wore a cowboy bib and overalls.

Precious girl!

Brothers.  Best friends.

Asher studied the square dancing for a while, then decided to give it a shot!

This video (very poor videography by Lorraine!) shows most of the kids attempting to square dance.  Asher is standing by the instructor near the end of the video, studying her steps, determined to learn to square dance. :-)

Meribeth bonded with a girl at the camp; they were convinced that they were long-lost sisters. 

Mattie and Naomi enjoying western night.

Parker and Mattie were dance partners.  They actually learned some fun western dance moves that they're still practicing (and showing off!) at home.

Here's Kiefer feeling much better, donning his cowboy boots, jeans, and bull-riding vest.  His normal attire. :-)

Thursday brought a little much-needed rain.  I had most of the kids at the water slides when the storm hit.  Here's a photo of us walking back to the cabin:

Friday was spent with each person focusing on their favorite activities, since this was the last full day of family camp.  Matt spent the E-N-T-I-R-E day working on the generator.  He spent portions of each day working on that silly thing, ordering parts, tearing it apart, putting it back together, praying over it, and getting covered in grease from head to toe.  I wish I had taken a photo of him.  He looked like the camp mechanic.  In fact, I'm not even sure that some of the families realized he WASN'T the camp mechanic!  Finally, after a full day of working on the generator on Friday, Matt got it working!!!  Hallelujah!  We were so proud of Daddy, although he took no credit, giving all glory to God.  Matt is NOT a mechanic, but God enabled him to fix that generator.  Thank you, God!
Naomi finally tried out the slides on Friday (she passed on every previous invitation), and she realized how much fun the slides were.  Yay!

Kiefer fell asleep in the arms of this amazing Christian young woman who served as family camp director this summer.

Mattie and Parker had a blast at the camp.  They said their favorite activity was the white-water rafting, but the water slides also a favorite activity.

Here are the older kids in the pool on the last day of family camp.  (The two kids on either end are not Pattersons. :-)

Kiefer, all smiles, at our last night of family worship at Horn Creek family camp.  He was feeling SO MUCH BETTER at this point. :-)

Selah on our last night during family worship.  She's such a doll.  How unworthy we are of such a blessing from our Father, the giver of all good gifts.

The Patterson Family
Thank you, Horn Creek and Tapestry Ministry, for putting this camp together specifically for adoptive and foster families.  We are grateful!

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