We camped!

Another 120 bibs story.  We camped at Pinery Provincial Park this past weekend - a first all-six-of-us camping trip!  Thankfully, camping itself was not something to figure out; camping has been a family tradition since I can remember.  Figuring out camping with feeding pumps and wheelchairs was a new challenge... especially because our site was a non-electrical campsite.

But, surrounded by family and friends, we were supported and good memories were made.  Many members of my mom's side of the family camp together here every year, so we had lots of willing hands. We rotated between four feed pumps - two plugged in at the community washroom while the other two were working. We were able to move the chairs along the dirt paths and the beach, and we even took in a wheelchair accessible hike!

There was no shortage of community this weekend.  

(A special thanks to my immediate family for providing our meals.  We ate well!) 

We must also recognize a special family member who also made our trip manageable.  My cousin Annette Lievaart, from Alberta-soon-Kenya, took several days to hang out with Ontario family.  When she stopped in at our house last week, I mentioned to her my anxiety about camping with our girls and without electricity.  She reminded me of her work (she's a respiratory therapist), her familiarity with medical stuff, and her experience of working in a Kenyan hospital (Tenwek) where power outages are common.

She offered to set up her tent on our campsite, and she was always willing to lend a hand: making formula by moonlight...

Or suggesting things like cutting out the screen at the end of our camper, making our lifting and care of the girls virtually trouble-free.  We didn't have to carry the girls through the narrow door or twist to put them on the bed. 

It was a bug-free weekend with amazing weather, so opening the end of our trailer made the weekend all the more accessible.  We zipped the canvas shut when the girls needed to rest or we had them in their chairs.

Annette is returning to her work in Tenwek, Kenya, and she has dreams of sharing her knowledge and experience with staff there for a significant time frame.  Perhaps I am being bold, but we'd love for her to be supported in her work.  Please check out her blog: respiratorykenya.blogspot.ca/

Yes, good memories were made...

Janneke absolutely loved the waves and water.  Her smiles and sounds were contagious, and it was a joy to swim as a family in Lake Huron.

Rachel was not so sure, but we gave her a good introduction to lake swimming.

(Thanks, Rhoda, for the use of your photos here.)

Emily and Sophia can hardly wait to camp again, and we agreed - provided we had good support camping along with us.  Rachel was the only member of the family who wasn't so crazy about being away from home.  She dealt with stomach pain, and she seemed unsettled more often than not. 

Truthfully, her hesitations and anxieties may just be part of her personality - and not her disability.  I sleep better at home too.  I was reminded of how quickly we measure their quirks by their disability when, in fact, she could just be someone who prefers to be home (disability or no disability).

It was a treat to share the Pinery memories with all four of our girls, as I have fond memories of the park since I was a little kid.  Now my girls have their memories, and I have new ones.

Looking ahead, we go from changing diapers and feeding tubes by moonlight to preparing for school.  Rachel starts tomorrow just like Emily and Sophia.  She'll be at the NPCC School again, but this time, she'll be at school all day, every day!  Janneke will begin a preschool program later this month. 

More on all that later this week...