Friday, June 27, 2008

Family Camp

We just came back from a Christian family camping trip. It was a very rewarding and refreshing trip and to be honest one of the best vacations that I have ever had. My kids enjoyed it so much and it really helped us take our minds off the situation that we have in Singapore.

I was very hesitant to push through with this camping trip. With my father-in-law just passing away and my wife being away to attend to this matter in Singapore, I was pretty apprehensive to venture out on a camping trip as a single parent with 2 kids. Never done it before without my lovely wife. My mind is trying to wrap itself around losing a 4th family member and I didn't really know how to cope with being alone with 2 kids in a family camp and deal with meeting other people, making conversations and trying to get to know other people. I just wanted to be at home in my comfort zone where I have full control (at least that's what I think). But somehow, I felt a strong sense of going and it was pretty strong otherwise I could have easily just dismissed it and just stayed at home.

So off we went on Sunday, June22 to the Santa Clara mountains to a place called Mission Springs. As we get nearer and nearer to the place (based on my GPS directions), I was getting more anxious every minute. Weird thoughts kept going through my mind and the urge to turn back was getting stronger. But I stood firm and decided to continue on.

So we arrived at the place and it was just gorgeous... lots of big, tall redwood trees around and a sense of tranquility pervades the place. I felt at peace but I still wasn't comfortable being a single parent out of my comfort zone. We registered and we saw our church friends and got introduced to people from other churches and my kids just couldn't wait to run around and explore the place.

To summarize what happened during the week for me, I met a lot of people, made new friends, started new relationships (hopefully), shared the situation we have in Singapore and took a bit of that load of my chest, got prayed for by my small group, started each day singing praises and worship to the Lord, got blessed by tremendous teachings of Pastor Ron, enjoyed great healthy food (although I missed asian food and had to grab a bite at a chinese restaurant outside of camp), enjoyed the fellowship and tremendous testimonies of other Christian people, shared my testimony to other people, met a lot of new kids because my kids made tons of new friends, spent a lot of time resting because my kids were always out with their new friends, enjoyed wonderful shakes and coffee from the Camp Cafe, got to know our church friends who are attending the camping better, laughed quite a bit with all the funny stories, jokes and performances in the camp, and so forth and so on. As you can see, I really had a great time after a bumpy start the first night when Abby had a very bad case of diaper rash and she was just screaming when I cleaned her up.

But the most important thing of all is that at the end of the trip when we were driving home...I felt the love of God from this camping experience. He said..."cast your burdens upon me, those who are heavily laden, and I will give you rest". And indeed he does...

I am so happy that I got to spend this wonderful week with my kids in a very welcoming and safe environment. I felt bad at the end of it because I kept thinking if only Weiwei is here, she will feel so blessed as well. Now I can't speak for my kids but I know that this trip has a lasting effect on them. And I know that when they have their own family, this will be one of those stories that they will be telling their kids.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

...and yet another loss in the Family

We just got word from my sister-in-law in Singapore that my father-in-law has lost his battle with cancer. Weiwei is on her way to Singapore and she has no idea yet that her dad is gone because she's in transit. She will only find out about it when she arrives in Singapore.

Another sad time for our family. This is our 4th loss in a year. It's harder for Weiwei because she just lost her mom to cancer late last year. So the wound is still fresh. I am praying that she'll be able to cope with this recent event and that time will continue to heal our wounds.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Camping with the Sayson Family

We went camping over the weekend again. But this time around, we are with another family. I invited Andrew who is my friend and colleague at work. This was their first time camping and they actually did quite well for first timers with no prior experience at all. So we have Andrew and Lorraine and their 2 kids Aidan and Andie.

We arrived at the campsite Friday afternoon and it was so hot. But it cooled down quite fast. Andrew's family arrived about 30-45 minutes after us and our kids hit it off immediately. They were running around and playing while we are setting up camp.

First night was a rocky start for them because their air bed deflated quite a bit and this was a problem for Lorraine's back. I don't blame her. I had a problem with my back as well because my dear wife forgot our air pump so I was lying on a semi-inflated air bed as well. For all you hardcore campers out there you must be thinking, air bed??? That's not real camping. Well, say what you want but I love my air bed and we have to keep the kids comfortable otherwise they are going to be miserable without good sleep. And if they are miserable, then we will definitely be miserable.

The kids had so much fun riding their bikes, blowing bubbles, squirting each other with water guns, coloring books, and just being around each other. We also went to the lake for a swim and the kids were just enjoying the cool dip because it was hot that day. The beach was so crowded and there were a lot of people using the picnic tables in the park.

My oldest daughter was so amused with Aidan. He looked so cute when he runs around and tries to talk. He has so many cute words like "yabadaba" when he wants more food. He also kept saying my youngest daughter's name Abby but he actually meant to call my oldest daughter. He's such a bundle of joy.

It was so much fun watching Andie and Abby communicating and socializing with each other. With their limited vocabulary, it's amazing how they can actually talk to each other and understand what they are saying to each other. I am so happy to see Abby so eager to show Andie what camping is all about.

Here are some more pictures...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Very 1st Solo Camping of the Salgado Family

We just got back from our very first solo camping as a family. It was a blast and I needed it to take my mind off what happened to my brother. A lot of preparations had to be done being the 1st solo camping and all. Stress level was high (at least for me), but we managed to pull it off.

It was very exciting and our kids absolutely enjoyed the experience. We have gone camping with other people as a group and it's different because the activities and the food had to cater to a bigger group and you really don't have that much control on what happens. This time around, we have full control of our time, what we want to do, and what we want to eat. There's so much freedom to enjoy the campsite and what it has to offer.

I am very proud of my lovely bride because she managed to survive and enjoy the experience as well. With freedom doing it solo came more workload because we had to do everything on our own like cooking, making sure the kids are occupied, making sure everybody is warm, cozy and safe.

Our kids had a blast. Abby kept saying over and over that she loves camping. She just kept running and playing and absolutely enjoying the outdoor life.

Cheryl learned how to ride her bike without any training wheels!!! It was amazing to watch. She was quite hesitant when I took the training wheels off of her bike. But when I pushed her bike and she managed to go a short distance without falling down, you could see pure excitement and joy from her eyes. It brought me back to the time that I learned how to ride the bike. I knew exactly the feeling.

We were so exhausted at the end of the trip. But the funny thing is, we feel refreshed even though we were exhausted. I guess there's two kinds of exhaustion. The first kind is exhaustion from doing things that you don't really enjoy or see any value to it. The second one is exhaustion from doing something that gives you joy, pleasure and fulfillment. I'll take the second type of exhaustion any time.