Supposedly, these are the things of which little boys are made. Having been an only child and a mom to two little girls, I could never speak from experience on this. In my short time as a house mom to a bunch of boys, I'd have to say this is true, but limiting. Endlessly amused by bodily functions (namely flatulence) needs to be added to the list somehow. There is a lot I'm learning about guys right now. It's fun and interesting to see what interests them, how they process things, how they resolve conflict, how they relate...and how different all of that is from girls! No doubt about it, God made males and females differently. Not wrong, just different...
As I mentioned before, we have 6 boys. Two are in middle school and 4 in high school. Most of them have been here awhile - long enough to know the rules and how things work here. Our newest one has been here for almost 6 weeks and our "oldest" one has been here for 4 years. Overall, things are pretty mellow in our home because they have been here for awhile.
Our first weekend on duty by ourselves was September 28 and 29. It wasn't a home visit weekend, so we had all 6 boys. We saw an ad for the Shockley Old Timey Days, a display of farming in the "old days." We got to see blacksmithing demonstrations, horse-drawn plowing, and other old time displays. It was a pretty uneventful trip, which was good considering it was our first time taking them out anywhere.
The next weekend (October 5-6) was a home visit weekend, so 2 of our kids went home for the whole weekend and one went for a day visit on Saturday. When it comes to planning activities/outings for the boys, it's usually up to us as the house parents. But sometimes, events come up that the whole ministry attends. It may be a fundraiser, a church visit, or a community event but we are encouraged to go so people can put faces with the Joy Ranch name. This past weekend was one of those events: the Pulaski Tractor Parade. This is country. Our neck of the woods is definitely out in the country - and I mean *country.* Pretty much the only radio stations that come in around here are Christian, country or bluegrass. This area has a section known as The Crooked Road which is, I think, a long stretch of road that you can travel to find numerous bluegrass festivals and concerts. (The jury's still out on how I feel about bluegrass. I'll save that for another blog post, perhaps.) And I think Jason and I might be some of the only ones in our house without a pair of cowboy boots. (I wonder if I could ever convince Jason to wear a pair...I can't see it, but you never know, right?) So, I hope you get what I mean when I say we're in the country. And the local culture around here reflects that, for sure. Hence, the Tractor Parade.
It's just like it sounds - a parade of tractors. And the Joy Ranch kids ride a wagon in it. It's about a 2 hour ride and they get to snack on donuts and visit with each other. This particular Saturday, however, was a 'chilly' 85 degrees and it made for a long ride. (Jason is now, quite literally, a redneck.) After the parade, everyone comes back to Thornspring Pastures for their Farm Fest. Despite the heat (hey, I'm a Yankee - gimme a break!) it was a fun day. We had lunch there, walked through the corn maze, listened to bluegrass music, bounced on the pillow trampoline and just had fun together. It was a good way to spend a sunny Saturday!
That evening was spent playing video games. If you can believe it, Jason bought a Batman game for the PlayStation. The guys stayed up late playing that - and Jason *may or may not* have stayed up into the wee hours of the morning playing after they went to bed. Video games are just another thing I don't think I understand...Oh, well.
This past weekend with the boys was jam packed! We got up first thing on Saturday and all but 2 of them played in the 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament fundraiser for the Ranch. I took the other two birthday shopping, as one of them turned 16 on Friday and the other was turning 16 on Sunday. We had fun picking out what they wanted to buy with their birthday money. When we got home, we met up with the others, ate a quick lunch and then they headed to a car show in North Carolina. I was hoping to go, but one of our boys had to stay back and I had 2 sick kiddos, so that settled that. That evening, Jason took the boys out for Mexican food while I took care of our sick little girls. Sunday was just as busy. The ministry went on a church visit to a little church in Mouth of Wilson, Va, followed by lunch. Since that took up most of the day, we let our birthday boy pick the rest of the day's activities. He is a huge super hero/fantasy fan - so much to Jason's delight, he wanted to watch the Batman trilogy. That was interrupted long enough for a pizza party at dinner and then they were back at it. We topped the day off with homemade ice cream cake (our second in 2 days, since both birthday boys requested it!) And then they went to bed, but not without several of them telling us they love us and would miss us on our day off. Melt my heart...
One interesting thing that our director pointed out this weekend was that these two birthday boys represent our "newest" and "oldest." Friday's birthday boy is our newest resident, who came here just a few days before we did. Our other birthday boy has been here for just over 4 years. That's 4 birthdays he has celebrated here, with probably 4 more to go and he ages out of the program (more if he does the transitional living program.) One thing I want to do in our home is make the days special - birthdays, holidays and even just random ordinary days. While so many other people get to celebrate these days with family and friends, our boys are in a children's home. And while they are, I want to make it as enjoyable for them as I can. I want them to have fond memories. We don't get into extravagant decorations or parties or things, but we do want to send the message loud and clear that they are special, they are loved. Not only by us, but by the God who made them and knows every little detail about them. Based on comments the birthday boys made this weekend, I think they are getting that message.
So, there you have our first three weekends with the boys. I wish I didn't have to cover so much time in one blog entry. They do so many funny or crazy things and I think "I need to put that in the blog!" In fact, one of them will ask every time he does something funny "Is that going in your blog?" But by the time I sit down to type, there's so much to cover. They keep us laughing - and sometimes crying or pulling our hair out. But we sure do love them more than we can even explain. And we wouldn't want to be anywhere else than here with these guys!