Friday, May 28, 2010

Richard's Camping Trip -- posted by Richard

(Scroll down to Sarah's post for pictures)

On our camping trip, I was the one that caught the most fish. When I got bored of fishing, I went to the playground.

Mom said she would give us $100 if we caught a fish with our bare hands but it was on the day we were leaving so there wasn't enough time, but we tried.

One night Dad caught a raccoon in the act of eating our potato chips that he accidentally left out of the box. We had to put the picnic tables on top of our coolers because raccoons can get into them if you don't.

I learned how to float on my back. When we were swimming, we saw a nice little place to practice on and it was like a new land not an island. It looked like a beach.

Mom got us new swimming shoes. I lost one of mine in the lake but James found it when we were in the water.

There is a place George told you about called Fish City. I think they all went away when I threw my bobber there because I didn't catch a thing.

I loved the orange juice Mom brought. It was the tastiest I've ever had. The S'mores were really good. We were able to cook the marshmallows. They were really, really, messy, but really, really, good.

When we were fishing, I kept getting sunburned in one second.

I got a fish right next to the shore in a hole near the land that I bet there was a fish in it, so I caught it.

Lake Murray is a wonderful place and we were right across the street from the bathroom. Mom got us each cute baggies with little shampoos and toothpastes that were really cute and tiny.

Mom bought a snake bite kit in case someone on the campground needed it because she wasn't planning on using it on any of us. That would just be too much.

Mom and Sarah met a camper woman in the bathroom scrubbing it and cleaning it up. Mom and Sarah said that was a great idea and they will do it next time instead of worrying about it. They will bring cleaners and scrub it down on the first day.

Dad's burgers were my favorite and we had slaw dogs one night but Dad cooked mine while I caught another fish because I got tired holding it over the fire.

Sarah was very beautiful while we were there.

Mom bought hot dog holders that are backward so we don't poke anybody in the eye.

I loved the hot chocolate that Mom made for us each morning. It was really hot but it was still good.

We saw a river otter swim past our site or maybe it was a muskrat.

James returned a video camera that a camper left and got a $20 reward!

Mom had Dad get worms because she couldn't put on crickets. She said she'd rather eat a worm than impale a cricket so he bought her some worms.

Mom didn't want us to bring any technology on the camping trip. James wanted to bring his claymore but Mom wouldn't let him.

We played pirates and knights and James made swords for us. James was in a pinch when George and me were attacking him, so he finally said he was going to the south side.

The birds were so close and they didn't mind that we were there.

Camping is so terrific that I want to sell our house and camp all the time. I love camping so much!

Having Fun at Lake Murray -- posted by George

Swimming was my favorite part of camping. When we went in the lake, we would be careful not to stir up the red clay that makes the water murky. It was only murky right where we got in the water. When the red clay got stirred up, it looked like someone dropped a bomb under the water. We made sure not to touch the bottom where it was deeper so we could see under water. We stood on big rocks when we weren't swimming or floating or treading water. We put on our goggles and we could see big rocks, like boulders, and it looked cool like there were secret hiding places for fish.

Some of us picked up big rocks and slung them out and held on so they would take us down to the bottom of the deep part so we could see the bottom of the lake. It looked very cool like another world down there. The big kids went out very deep and saw a place they named Fish City because there were fish everywhere swimming around them and they weren't scared away. Once they found Fish City, that's where we would cast our lines when we were fishing.

One part of our site was a bank, like a cliff, we could run and jump off of into the water, and that was my favorite part, but there was a pebble beach, too. You could sit on the beach and the waves would hit you but you could sit in the water instead of standing up all the time. The water had cold spots and warm spots.

Lake Murray was built where there were people living with houses and churches, like towns, in a valley. Some of the buildings are still down there and divers found abandoned things like jars and stuff still on shelves in houses. When I grow up, I want to have John take me way out in a boat and go deep down scuba diving and look for treasure.

Sadly, my least favorite part of the trip was the hike we went on. I missed seeing things like the white-tail deer they saw. I did see the bones of a catfish, but the hike was long and it was hilly and tiring and I was thinking, "God help me." It started raining a little and getting very windy, and if we got caught in a thunderstorm Mom would have been mad at Dad so I heard her and Richard pray that there wouldn't be any lightning. We didn't do the whole 90 minutes of the hike, we only did an hour of it but that was too much. Mom was panting at the end and wondering why Dad had to go so fast, but she didn't get mad. She said next time to slow it down for her and me and Richard and to take a rest and sip some water or she won't go again. I don't blame her; I was dying.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Campy Us -- posted by Sarah Grace

We Love Camping! -- posted by John

Our camping trip was fantastic, and it was even better than I dreamt it would be! The weather was better, the sleep was better, the swimming was better, the fishing was better, and even the food was better than I imagined, and I was imagining it all to be great to begin with!

We had a few showers but they were short and it kept everything cooled off. In fact, the first night was chilly. Once when it rained we went in the tent and I read Tintin, while the family played Catch Phrase, and then the rain stopped and we went back out. We never had a wash out.

Even though Mom and Sarah Grace are the only ones with air mattresses, we all slept like rocks, except for the first night when I woke up a couple of times because I was so excited.

Our campsite was right on the lake so we could jump in any time we wanted. The water felt better than the pool and it was clear and we could see underwater. My eyes didn't sting like the pool water. There was so much to see, like the different fish swimming around, lots of turtles, fresh water mussels, etc. James found a huge leech and put it in a cup for us to observe. It held on to the side of the cup with its suction mouth. Once, before I was born, Sarah and Will got leeches on them swimming in the lake. They said you can't feel them attaching.

One morning, as the sun was coming up, I was setting up the Coleman stove and the coffeemaker. Mom said she can handle mosquitoes and flies and heat and cold and all that goes with camping, as long as she has an air mattress and her Starbucks, so we gave her an automatic drip coffeemaker that works on the propane stove for Christmas. She loved it! Anyway, Dad came out and after I told him good morning, I looked at the lake and saw what I thought was a huge turtle head in the water. It looked like the size of a loggerhead turtle head, so I called Dad to come look. By this time some of the family was coming out and we quickly went over to look at it. At first, Mom thought it was the head of a small mammal, like a beaver-type animal. Dad said he thought it might be a small alligator. As we ran along the bank of our campsite, we saw it was a gigantic water moccasin (cottonmouth) swimming quickly parallel to the shore! It was scary to see such a deadly animal so close up, but it was also thrilling to see one in the wild like that. Later, we also spotted another water snake swimming with us! Mom was surprised it came so close with all our splashing. We just got out for a few minutes until it swam away, and then we made lots of splashing when we went back in.

We saw all sorts of wildlife. We saw a blue heron gliding back and forth across the lake several times a day, and that's a beautiful sight, but we have a blue heron on our pond so that wasn't unusual for us. (Mom jokes that she's going to shoot it for a Christmas present for our neighbor since it eats up her expensive koi.)

I don't want to tell everything we saw so that Richard and George will have something to write about. Just trust me that we saw all sorts of animals.

I learned a lot on my trip, too. I learned how to tread water, finally. I already knew how to swim, but Dad hadn't yet taught me how to tread water. Dad is an excellent swimmer and he gives us lots of tips. I had my arms right for treading water but I didn't know how to spin my feet. It made a world of difference.

I also learned how to put a live cricket on my hook. The key is to put the hook in the neck and come out the back. I can also put the hook and sinkers on a line.

It was an extraordinary trip, but I should save some things for the other kids to write about because we all had a wonderful, unforgettable time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Break Time -- posted by John

Sorry I haven't written in a while but I got out of it, and then my grandmother passed away in February, and then my 13 year old brother passed away last month. I just haven't felt like writing.

We did the funeral ourselves and I gave a eulogy at his funeral. If you want to read it you can go to and click on the sidebar link to the funeral service, or click "Webb."

After Webb passed away we began planning a camping/fishing trip and we went to look at the spot Dad reserved, and it is perfect. We saw 8 or 10 fearless deer that didn't budge when our van drove past them. Word has probably gotten out that there are no firearms allowed on the island. I can guarantee you that when we plan our hunting trip there won't be deer hanging out with the humans! The deer on our property are a mix of the two. The dogs don't scare them (especially around the garden) but we do. They'll stare at us for a moment and then they dash away.

I'm looking forward to hiking the trails, fishing, and swimming but I also hope I can get in some reading. I've been into reading Tintin, a series my dad turned me on to. Dad said it is possibly the greatest comic series ever created. I love how Tintin is so cool. He's like the Jack Bauer of his age. He is supposed to be a reporter but he gets involved in the cases his friends (the cops) are working on. He has high adventures like when he shot down a plane with a pistol and one bullet and then swam under water THE WHOLE WAY out to the plane. His canine sidekick, Snowy, doesn't actually talk but his thinking is really sarcastic, and funny.

I can't wait for our trip, we really need a break.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Save the Drama -- posted by Momma

I don't want this happy family website to become like those carnation cross and teddy bear memorials you see on the side of the highway, but I do have a few more things I'd like to say about Webb's passing.

One thing I've learned is that over-the-top emotional outbursts aren't indicative of superior love. I've thought, "I just lost a child, shouldn't I be screaming, and inconsolable?" No, self-control is fruit of the Spirit, and it doesn't diminish my love for Webb that I have accepted the Lord's judgment. In fact, agreeing with the Lord is where true love lies! All the world can churn up a froth of emotion at will, whether it is sincere or not, so hysteria doesn't denote genuine love. Conversely, Jesus wept, so stoicism isn't any more spiritual. The grace of Jesus Christ sustains his children who are known by their deep, unfeigned love. And yet, he doesn't let us despair!

Of course I have pangs of missing him. Just yesterday we were planning a camping trip for this month and I was stung with the memory of how very much Webb loved camping. He bounced with excitement. I remembered how giggly he was in the tent, and how we all laughed the next morning when his mattress had deflated and his lower body was flat on the floor of the tent while his upper body was hanging on to the little bit of inflation left in the top of the mattress. (Which reminds me to check the mattresses before our trip, so none of us get surprised like Webb!)

A funny little thing that yanks at my heart is when I see the "ugly" pancakes at breakfast. As most every homemaker knows, there are usually a couple of pancakes in the batch that don't brown right, or are misshapen. They taste good, but since Webb's pancakes were served pre-cut, I always saved the "ugly" ones for him. I'd even tease him by saying that once he learned to cut his own pancakes, I would serve him pretty ones. So, when I see those pancakes, my eyes sting, and I take a deep gulp, and wish he was at the table loving my misfit pancakes. For Webb, pancakes were second only to strawberry shortcake made with homemade shortcake biscuits, not cake.

Webb wasn't really into sweets, so it surprised us one Easter when he got caught sneaking Easter chocolate without permission. How did he get caught? Put it this way... Did you know that pastel-colored foil wrappers on miniature Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey's Kisses can make it through one's digestive tract completely intact? That is a sight to behold... as if he "went" in cartoon technicolor!

Just this past year Sarah Grace turned him on to cotton candy. That was hilarious to watch! You know how a huge cloud of cotton candy can instantly vanish once it hits your saliva? As Webb was reeling it in with his lips, it was simultaneously disappearing before he could sink his teeth into it. He was so weirded out, and maybe even partly afraid, by Sarah's strange magic... but he smacked those lips as if it was manna from heaven!

Oh, what happiness he brought us!

Hopefully we'll be posting all the Allen Family latest/greatest as usual, but please indulge us if we have more to share on Webb. We've had a lot of fun talk about Webb, and we're able to laugh and enjoy happy memories with warm hearts.