Best Week Ever: Panoramazing

We interrupt your regularly scheduled posting about parts of the amazing Jamaica trip from the summer for one of my absolute favorite pictures from the week.

Click on it. You’re gonna want to see this full-size.

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Special thanks to J. Hoey for capturing all this awesome in one frame.

Best Week Ever. Part 2.

Things you would have told me 10 years ago I’d be doing and I wouldn’t have believed: Chaperoning six teenagers on an overseas trip for eight days and having one of the best times of my life in the process.

But it happened.

You see, this summer I decided to be real nice and I took these goobers with me to Jamaica.

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I was in charge of them and getting them to and from Jamaica safely and if that phrase puts fear in your heart, you are not alone, my friends.

I’ll be real honest. I didn’t know what to expect. Not that I thought anything would go wrong, or I’d have any problems, but I’ve always had someone there to ask how to handle something or to refer all questions to. But now I was the lone answerer of the questions. The keeper of the information. And medical release forms. And rules.

Luckily I took the best group of teenagers in the world with me and had no problems at all.

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Watching this group experience what I had twice before was amazing for me. Watching them make new friends and learn about new cultures and try new foods and live without WiFi for hours at a time.. there were times I just sat there and smiled, glad that I could be a part of a week I know they won’t forget.

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I didn’t always know that I wanted to work with teenagers, that I wanted to work with a youth group. But now I can’t really imagine not doing it.

And it doesn’t hurt that the youth I work with are the best ones on this planet, either.

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I tease and call them my babies sometimes because I feel like i have to take care of all of them. And I got it right back on this trip, when they called me “Mom” at various times. But that’s fine. I did have a Mom Bag.

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And later, when we got home and I watched them share their experiences with others and heard about what that week had meant to them, well yeah. I was Mom all over again. All proud of my little ones for who they are and what they’d done and the love they’d shown each other and our friends – new and old – in Jamaica.

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OK enough mushy stuff. More pictures.

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Awesome week, awesome-er company. Couldn’t have asked for a better group.

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Joining the club

The Olympic swim team did it.

The cast and crew of Big Bang Theory did it.

The Harvard baseball team did it.

And now, you can add my youth group buds to the list.

Yep. That’s them (and me) kicking off the fall talent show we brought back to life at our church last week with a flash mob.

We haven’t had that event in a couple of years, so we took it over, worked together with a couple other teams within the church, and ta-da!!! It was an awesome night, with tons of fun acts, including wrestling moves, stand-up comedy and my pastor dressed as Johnny Angel.

We fully intend to do it again next year.

Seriously, you guys, I have never been so proud of something/someone. These kids pulled together and learned this flash mob dance so fast plus another act featuring Justin Bieber (also known as Aidan, his doppleganger).

Plus we had the full support of the rest of our church and even managed to raise a little money – which is not NEARLY as important as what it did fellowship-wise.

Sometimes I get stressed and wonder if I was taking on too much, getting involved with youth group a few years ago. But those times are few and far between and usually more based on the stress of everything outside of youth group. That video up there, that flash mob and those kids, reinforced that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be.

I’m so grateful for them and hope when they look back on their time in youth group, they remember it for things like this.

And hey, it also helped me cross something else off the list!

Secret ingredient

So at youth group, we let the youths cook.

Yeah, I really just said “youths” so I could use that gif. Because I love it so much.

We gave them the ingredients but no recipes. However, next time they would like things to be different.

Jonathan, twelfth-grader: “Next time we should get to bring our own ingredients.”
Mark, sixth-grader: “Yeah, I’m bringing my mom.”

Mark has already figured out my approach to cooking. Good on him for learning it at such a young age.

Iron Cheflets

Every Sunday afternoon I spend a couple hours with some pretty awesome teenagers. Allegedly, I am kind of responsible for what they do during that time, which is why last week I had them cook lunch for all of us.

Those who can’t do, teach, right?

No seriously, I can’t cook, but the mission of the day wash’t just to make food for us. We didn’t give them recipes, we just gave them ingredients. And said “Here, make some stuff.”

And we ended up with a delicious lunch, with no help from adults whatsoever.

Here’s a look at how we got there, because that’s way more entertaining than saying “We watched them cook for an hour.” ‘Cause that’s what we did. Chaperoning, y’all. And not a single person got burnt on the oven. I call that a successful day.

I’m going to see about hiring them to make dinners to send over to my house every night. That could work, right?

Chaperoning at The Happiest Place on Earth

I may have mentioned it a few ten times, but I spent MLK weekend in Orlando, chaperoning 11 kids – middle-schoolers and high-schoolers through a youth faith conference/time at the Disney parks.

Lots of fun, lots of rides, lots of standing, dancing, singing, running to get ahead of teenagers who had no idea where they were going and had to be told 30 times to “Stay behind an adult!” Needless to say, I’m still recovering.

That said, I love those kids like they were my own flesh and blood and I loved spending time with them. They’re a great group and I can’t wait to watch them grow and do great things.

I could give you a play-by-play of the whole weekend, but that would be less fun than what I have in mind. So. For your viewing pleasure, I’ll give you a little idea of what that three-day weekend — that felt like 10 days but went by as fast as one day — was like through pictures from the new ballin’ camera and several tweets from the weekend.

Yeah, that’s right, I live-tweeted as often as I could and for those of you who don’t/can’t follow me on Twitter, these tweets pretty much sum it all up.

Without further ado, my MLK weekend in photos and tweets.

Enjoy.

Crazy, busy, fun, a little bit stressful for a few minutes, awesome, unpredictable weekend. That about sums it up.