August 29, 2008

Yes, it's been another week

Creative title for this post, eh? It does seem the weeks roll along with some real speed. My dad always said life speeds up as you get older, and it seems like that is definetely true. I wonder what people who aren't Christians have to look forward to at the end? Seems like the older you get the scarier it would be if you didn't know where you were going. I didn't used to realize how fast life was passing by until we had kids. They seem to grow so much week to week, and especially year to year that I am now marking my years by theirs...I guess I never noticed before that the years really were passing by.

Now that I have waxed thoughtful for a paragraph, on to the usual stuff that makes up a week. Monday it rained and rained, and Tuesday it rained and rained, thanks to the tail end of Fay. We needed it badly, and I guess it's been so long since we've had a really good rain that it was kind of amazing to see it coming down for so long. It didn't stop until Wednesday afternoon. Tuesday we had playgroup at our friends the Knott's house. The kids always want to stay after it's time to go home wherever we are for playgroup, and invited themselves to stay for a sleepover. (That's the latest thing to talk about doing, for some reason.) I did manage to get out of their house without tears this time, which is unusual. Usually the kids are that unhappy to leave whoever's home we're at for playgroup. I guess it's because home is so awful since we have NO toys, NO books, NOTHING to do! Maybe some kind soul out there can send us a toy so we'll have one?

I was bummed about the rain hanging around Tuesday though, because Tuesday evenings have become my time at the barn. My friend Susan who has been a professional dressage trainer in years past (and has a REALLY awesome horse she lets me ride) has been giving me and a friend riding lessons. It's a lot of fun and I've learned a lot in just a few lessons. It's been a long time since I've had someone instructing me, and I've really enjoyed it.

Wednesday was gymnastics. Shannon only had to sit in the green time out chair once. The time out chair gives him a place to rethink how he should channel his sillies for good and not for evil. The kids are enjoying their class. Wednesday night we had church, and the kids are enjoying their new classes there as well. I tend to float around on Wednesdays when James and I don't have nursery duty. This week I spent nearly the entire time catching up with a couple of friends who were working and/or hanging around the front nursery desk. It's amazing how you can go to church with people and never get the chance to talk to them.

One friend, Nicole, was expecting twins and had a C-section scheduled for mid-September. She said she was having a rough week and was very uncomfortable. The very next day she was in the hospital, and now identical twin girls Bree and Aslyn Burkett have joined the world! Their story is truly a testimony to God's faithfulness. At 22 weeks she was diagnosed with twin-twin transfusion syndrome, where one twin "donates" blood to the other through shared blood vessels in the placenta. If left alone they had a 100% mortality rate, so Nicole was rushed to Cincinatti for a procedure to cauterize blood vessels between the babies. She then carried a normal twin pregnancy almost to term. The babies are doing great and are truly a miracle!

The babies were born on Thursday, which was also a fun day for us at home. We had a visit from my sister-in-law Lisa Adams and my niece Jordan who just turned one in July. I hadn't seen her since she started walking, and she's truly a cute little busy bee!
It was a fun visit and we vowed to get together more often. They live in Marietta, about an hour and a half away.

I love this face Jordan makes! She's still working on getting top teeth so she does a great little old lady impression.

Lisa and Jordan

Thursday night our dinner group got together at the Hicks house (good friends, also the youth minister at our church), and we enjoyed hanging out with friends and gorging on awesome stuff off of the grill. Try grilling a pineapple rolled in cinnamon and sugar- an absolutely wonderful way to become miserable after already eating too much!

This morning I left the three oldest kids with James and took a couple of horses up to our local primary school, J.P. Nix. Rebecca who works in the office here at camp and Becky who worked at the barn this summer went too, and we talked to the whole first grade about horses and answered questions. They just did a unit on farm animals so this was a fun way for them to end the week. We did it last year too, and I enjoy it. Most of the questions were very good ones. I asked them questions too, and loved the answers. Did you know that a horse weighs anywhere between 65 and three million pounds? And they can live for 150 years? And that they have tails so they can wag them? My favorite question of the morning was, "So where is Strong Rock Camp?" It's like I paid him to ask that.

Good old Taffy and Maverick!

After showing the kids what sweet feed looks like and giving Maverick a bite, I had to hide it from him. He REALLY likes it.

Elizabeth got to ride along today too. I figured James wouldn't like being left with a hungry baby for too long.

Tonight we packed up the kids and headed into Gainesville. We ate at IHOP (yum!) Did you know that for each adult dinner you order you get a free kids meal up up to the age of 12? I wish we'd get an IHOP in Cleveland! The kids ate like it was their last meal and then begged off of our plates. We then made a marathon trip to visit friends and new babies at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. We saw the Burketts who had the twins, and also our friends Tara and Jeff Golden who had a baby girl, Carly Grace, this morning. She's a cutie too! James and I took turns staying in the waiting room with the kids so we didn't descend upon the new moms and babies with a herd of Himstedts. At our church since January there were 8 new babies born, four this week! (Another couple from our SS class, the Woody's, had yet another baby girl on Tuesday.) Out of the 8 born, just one was a boy, born to my good friend Alison Hicks last month. Poor guy, he'll be grossly outnumbered in Sunday School. Hope he likes to color...

This weekend is Labor Day weekend, and we have made plans to do pretty much nothing. James is heading to the hunting club to set up a stand or something like that tomorrow. Every day is the same to me anyway, so I guess I'll do the usual- laundry, clean up a mess, dishes, pick up toys underfoot, meals, clean up another mess, oh yeah, and play with the kids. Sunday the kids' choir Amelia is now a part of will sing at church, so that will be fun. That evening we'll attend "Sunday at the Park,' a big deal our church puts on for the community.

That's all I know for now. And I'm off to hit the hay!

August 25, 2008

Weekend Fun

Well, I broke photo download record today. I put 436 pictures on my computer from this past weekend. We went to my aunt and uncle's lake house on Lake Oconee with our friends the Davidsons Friday through Sunday. They have four kids too, spaced apart like ours but they started a few years before we did. Their girls are some of Amelia's favorite friends. We had a blast this weekend swimming in the pool, riding the waverunner, playing cards, and watching the end of the Olympics. James particularly enjoyed the "frilly froo-froo boys," as he calls them, aka men's diving.

We left after the Davidsons finished school on Friday. It was raining as we pulled up to the house at about 5:00 PM, as we were getting the remnants of Hurricane Fay. The kids played hide and seek and a host of other loud, active games until bedtime, and then popped up and down out of bed for the next hour. We adults played a heated game of Farkle. (This is a great game if you've never played it. All you need are six dice, then Google "Farkle" to get a set of rules and how to score it.)

The next morning dawned bright and sunny...we wish. Actually it was cloudy with off and on sprinkles, but it was fun anyway. The kids jumped between the hot tub and pool all day, and the adults got in all the swimming we wanted too. There were two waverunners but only one would start, so we took turns riding kids up and down the lake. Turns out hurricanes produce wind too, so it was a pretty choppy day to be on the lake. It was still fun though! My mom and dad joined us around lunch time and stayed until the next day with us. That night the kids didn't give us a hard time about going to bed at all. I knew how they felt, I played hard all day too and was too tired to even put in a decent showing at Phase 10. Nothing like nodding off over a hand of cards.

Sunday there were breaks in the clouds and it was a little less windy. We played in the pool and at the lake again all morning and early afternoon. By the end of the weekend Amelia was swimming across the entire pool and Maggie (their 6 year old) was jumping off of the diving board and swimming across without a float, a first for her. She even did a perfect dive off of the board one time. Shannon was trying to swim without a float, but can't seem to remember that he has to move his arms. He kicks like crazy and goes straight to the bottom. Avery is a mad man in the water, and kicks all around the pool in his ring and arm floats. He likes jumping off the board and goes under before popping up like a buoy, laughing and snorting.

All good things have to come to an end, so we left about 4:30 to head back to the real world. It's so nice being away from home even briefly because I don't think about all the things I SHOULD be doing, I just played with kids all weekend. I also ate at least my body weight in food, we had enough to feed a small country. We stopped by our friends the Spells on the way home, to see off their college freshman daughter Katie. She will be studying in Ireland for a sememster and will return home in December to start classes at UGA in January. Gee, what a rough way to start college!

I'm going to attempt to sort through all the pictures to post a few of our weekend.

Here goes Avery!

Kids in "the little hot pool," as they called it.

Elizabeth enjoyed the weekend too.

Ruth Davidson, just shy of her 5th birthday

Bennett Davidson, nearly 8

Maggie prepares to take someone out with a bat.

Lydia turned three in March. Isn't she cute?

Yep, this is me.

James practices his famous "Kung Fu Dive." I give it a 9.

James and Shannon. Shannon informed me a few weeks ago that for his birthday he would like "a waverunner, wrapped up in a present." Guess we'll get him a lake to go with that!

Amelia, me, and Maggie

Avery kept saying, "Go fast!" He cried and pretty much pitched a fit when his turn was over.

Oh yeah, one last highlight from the weekend. This may be too much information for those either not yet in or no longer in the phase of life with a kid who wears diapers, but Avery used the potty this weekend. He was very proud of himself, and I was ready to do a back flip and throw a party. Okay, it wasn't THAT great, but it would be extremely wonderful if he went ahead and potty trained, since we're back to two in diapers. He's not quite two yet, so that would put him an entire year ahead of when Shannon potty trained...and would probably save us several hundred dollars this year! The photo below is of him this morning here at the house. The pink princess helmet was his idea, I'm not sure why he needed it on the potty...perhaps I don't want to know!

Today was back to life as usual. It rained ALL DAY so we stayed inside ALL DAY. We definetely need the rain though, so I'm not complaining. Tomorrow is playgroup, so we'll get out then. I'm off to bed in the meantime!

August 20, 2008

Extracurricular activities

Today marked the first day of Shannon's participation in an extracurricular activity. Wait a minute, actually he has no "curricular" yet, so I guess it's just an activity. It's his first official class outside of church, anyway. I enrolled him in a gymnastics class, along with Amelia. She took gymnastics last year, and he always wanted to participate in her class. I thought he was too silly and not able to pay enough attention then. That may still be the case (Amelia says he got to sit in the "green time out chair" for a few minutes), but it will be good for him, I think. He already tries to do everything she's learning anyway, including forward rolls and flying cartwheels where he always lands on his rear end. Here are a few pictures of them in their class.

This has been a pretty quiet week so far. It's been full though, with meetings about camp issues sprinkled in here and there. I'm still getting used to being back in the non-camp routine, which always seems to take me a little to readjust. Mostly it's the timing of my days, including making meals for the family which I didn't have to do all summer. I'm also figuring out how we fit in Amelia's school work. Right now it's happening while the boys nap, which seems to be a good time to do it. The other day she said, "School is kind of boring with no one else around." I was thinking she wasn't happy with our choice to homeschool when all of her other friends were making new friends at school. (Not that she has any clue what goes on at school!) Then she said, "I wish Shannon didn't have to nap then and could do school with us." So it turns out Shannon was enough company for her. I did try it the other day, and including him right now is a chore. He has pretty much zero interest in "academia" right now. I do plan to start the phonics book I started Amelia on last year sometime after he turns four. We'll see how it goes.

This weekend we will be going to my aunt and uncle's lake house on Lake Oconee with our friends the Davidsons. I'm really looking forward to it and will be sure to document our adventure in a future post. Tomorrow should be an adventure in itself. We're doing pictures for the church directory. There's nothing more fun than getting the whole family dressed up, heading 20 minutes to the church, smiling through gritted teeth as we try to get at least three kids to look at the camera and smile, then spending at least half an hour trying to decide which one is best while keeping six little hands off of everything breakable and expensive set up in the room. Should be great!

Below are a few random pictures from this week.

Amelia and I went to get a haircut, and she even got her hair curled. The outfit demonstrates another one of her creative ventures in fashion. I've seen kids love to play dress up, but I've never seen one so passionate about it!

Avery in his favorite place in the house.

Elizabeth is smiling regularly now, and has started the excited kicking/arm flapping thing. The scratch on her nose is self-inflicted. I've always been amazed at how my babies could do that. I can't find a snag or long place on her nails anywhere. She must have heard us saying we've got pictures coming up! She's now 12 weeks old.

It's once again way too late, so I'm off to bed!

August 17, 2008

There went another one

Today is our 12th anniversary! Had I been thinking I would have had a picture of us taken to commemorate the day. There are very few pictures of just Corie and James anymore, I think the last one was a snapshot taken last Christmas. James got me a new coffee maker since we broke the pot of the old one, and a new coffee grinder since we lost the other one. I got him...a new archery target and release for his bow (though I didn't know I was getting him anything...I found out about that stuff today!). I'm not sure what else I got him the day he bought that stuff. :)

We went to church this morning, then had pizza with the Davidsons for lunch. It's fun to go out with them since between us there are eight kids. I've often wondered if the kids realize if they decided to mutiny they might just win since we're outnumbered. We do have size on our side, I guess.

While the boys and Elizabeth napped, Amelia and I went to the barn and today I started teaching her to ride a horse by herself. (Again, a prime photo opp but I was afraid between the sky threatening to rain and the dust in the arena the camera might not fare too well.) We chose Taffy, who is an angel and is very patient. I had to wrap Amelia's stirrup leathers four times and put them on the last hole to make them short enough for her legs. Amelia had a great time and did well for her first lesson. I mentioned to her that when the younger kids get a little older and we can spend more time at the barn, maybe we could get her a pony she could ride and take care of. She said, "I'll pray for a pony. I would like a brown one with white on it." I'm probably the only parent on the earth who would encourage that kind of thing! (Good ponies are hard to find though, they tend to be prayer would help a lot, I think.)

Later in the evening James shot his bow for awhile, both for fun and to shape up for hunting season. To wrap up this eventful anniversary, he is watching Rambo or some such man movie upstairs while I attempt to simultaneously feed Elizabeth and document the occasion in this blog. Yeah, it's a lame anniversary, but we figure we've got better ones coming again once we can get the kids a little bigger. Not just anyone will keep four small kids, and the window to be away from Elizabeth is pretty small right now. One day...

Might I just for posterity document a few things I love about my husband on this 12th year of marital bliss? First of all, he loves God, me, and the kids unconditionally. He's a terrific dad and truly enjoys his children. He's an incredible camp director, and cares deeply about Strong Rock and the impact it has on lives. He's fun to hang out with, has good taste in most everything, and enjoys life. I love you, honey!

On to another Monday tomorrow. Next time I'll post some pictures too.

August 15, 2008

A review of years past...

Starting this blog thing motivated me to finally do something that has needed to be done for awhile. We have a dinosaur of a computer upstairs, a Gateway that James and I bought in 1999. Our first computer, and we were so proud! The monitor literally takes up 1/3 of a good-sized desk, and the tower is about 2 feet tall and takes up an entire cabinet. You'd think with all that mass it would be extra speedy. Ha! It has every picture I had taken from 2003 (my first venture with a digital camera) to halfway through 2006. Basically every picture I had of Amelia, Shannon, and Avery as a baby. I've been leary of it biting the dust someday and making me very sad by losing all of my pictures. Last week I finally put them all on CD's and loaded them to my laptop. That was a project that took two entire afternoons. The old computer decided to act ugly a few times on top of being slow as molasses. Anyway, it's done, and I thought it would be fun to get some pictures of the progression of our lives over the past five years. One of these days I might get really adventuresome and find myself a scanner and put some pre-digital camera era ones on here. Here we go...

Here we are, before kids James and Corie at Christmas in 2002.I was about 10 weeks pregnant with Amelia at this point. Things were about to change at a rapid speed! I remember thinking it wasn't all bad to be pregnant over the two big eating holidays since I was too nauseous to partake in very much. Isn't James cute?

Here's me pregnant with Amelia, in May before she was born in July. That lovely maternity shirt made it through four pregnancies, though I only wore it about twice with this last one. Talk about threadbare!

Amelia Grace arrived July 21, 2003, 6 pounds 14 ounces. She was a tiny little thing and was alert from the start, like she didn't want to miss anything now that she was here.

Here she is (left)at three months old. She was always smiling, which is a good thing considering the beastly camera I had at the time had about a five second delay!

Personality really starts to blossom at six months (right). I was about 9 weeks pregnant with Shannon at this point.

Here she is on her first birthday. What a fun year that was!

Here's me toward the end of my pregnancy with Shannon.

Shannon James was born October 4, 2004, and weighed 8 pounds 9 ounces. He spent the first two weeks of his life sleeping, then suddenly awoke and joined the family. He's been wide open ever since!

Shannon at 3 months. I always had to work a little harder for a smile from him. The five second delay on the camera starts to get frustrating at this point. What a cutie! There was major craziness at home this year as I managed two babies, three phones (home line, cell phone, and camp line), and running the camp office out of our house until moving into the real office in April.

Here he is at 6 months old (right). He was a strong little booger, able to sit, do push ups from his belly, and was as stiff as a board to hold, like he constantly wanted to leap from your arms. He was a busy guy.

This was also a big month for us at camp (April), when we held our first ever Open House for the public before camp opened in June.
Below is the staff that made the first summer ever of Strong Rock Camp happen!

Shannon at 9 months (left). He's been crawling for several weeks by this point, and learned to walk at 10 months.

Amelia turns two this month. Note the high heels. The infatuation with dressing up begins!

Here's Shannon at a year old. He's demonstrating the results of his climbing skills, having gotten up into the chair by himself.

This is our family Christmas card picture for 2005. The craziness of our lives continued with the sale of our house on Daybreak Road in December, then a move to a rental house in Clermont in January. Just two weeks into life at the rental house we learned I was expecting Avery.

Below is a collage of photos from the summer of 2006. This was a fun summer because we lived in Rockcreek cabin while camp was going on. James' mom Cherry (aka Mimi)came from Texas and spent nearly a month with us, and Grandma Himstedt (also from Texas) came for awhile too.

Here are the kids with their buddy Elliott Hicks.

Fun with Grandma Himstedt

Friends would come to visit us at camp during the summer since we tended to forget the outside world existed during June and July. Here are Amelia and Shannon with Bennett, Maggie, Ruth, and Lydia Davidson. Try getting a wagon load of preschoolers all looking at the camera and smiling! Impossible!

Four-wheelin' with Grandad (my dad) on a day when he could get away from work long enough to come visit.

Mimi and Grandmommy hanging out on the field during at evening activity.

Camp ended, we moved back to the rental house, and here I am just before leaving for the hospital to have Avery. He was born about 6 hours after this photo was taken. Don't I look like I'm having a good time? Note- Amelia's fashion sense continues to grow. The orange thing she is wearing is a "skort." She had figured out how to make it into a dress that went over one shoulder, and traipsed around the house in it nearly every day. Looks like she also had her swimsuit on under it that day, another favorite fashion item. When I couldn't convince her it wasn't suitable (or warm enough) for winter wear, I finally had to hide it.

Here he is! Avery Graham was born September 23, 2006, and weighed 8 pounds 14 ounces. He had a nice, noisy spot in the living room in a Pack N Play. Amelia and Shannon thought he was great.

Here's our Christmas card photo for 2006. Avery is 3 months old. Check out the ever evolving hairstyles on me and James! (My hair went curly after having Avery. All by itself, with no help- or invitation- from me.)

Avery at 6 months (right). He was starting to sit by himself, and was a happy, smiley little guy!

At nine months he was on the move. Note all the bibs. He was a slobber monster. He still pretty much is at almost two years old.

Here we are right before the camoflauge birthday party Shannon had requested for his third and Avery's first birthday party. Just a week after this I would find out that yes, I'm pregnant again!

I love this picture of the kids on Easter 2008. Amelia was a few months shy of five, Shannon was 3 1/2, and Avery was 18 months.

Is this looking familiar, or what? This was taken two days before Elizabeth was born. Church friends had a girls night out and shower for me at Chili's. Again, some serious hair-do progression...

Elizabeth Joy Himstedt arrived on June 5 at 11:04 AM, and weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce. Check out that dark hair! Amelia had announced right after I found out I was pregnant (but before we told her) that she was getting a baby sister, and her name was Elizabeth.

Summer 2008 at camp was wonderful, busy, and blessed. It seemed to go very quickly. Here are Elizabeth and Amelia in August, which brings us up to the present! Elizabeth is a real sweetheart, and a big girl too. She outgrew her 0-3 month clothes at 2 months. She's following in big boy Avery's footsteps! She smiles a lot and is trying to get the hang of laughing.

Well, that was fun. Nothing like a photo time line to see how much can change in five years! Earlier today (on our 12th anniversary) I told James it sure would have been interesting to have been able to fast forward 12 years on our wedding day and see where we are now. We wouldn't have believed it! He said we might have run the other way. :) Nah, I don't think either of us would trade the life we have now for anything. Thank you, Lord!