September 29, 2008

Attention starved children

It's been over a week since I posted anything. Life has been busy this week! The first part of the week was normal, just the daily stuff of life- church on Sunday, one of the dreaded stay-at-home days on Monday that the kids dislike so much, playgroup on Tuesday at the Pittmans...though it was a special day, because it was Avery's 2nd birthday. He had fun playing with friends, then that evening they all got to play with friends again. My friend Alison was a wonderful friend as usual, and let us drop the oldest three off at her house so James and I could have our Tuesday date night. It was exciting too...we went to Lowe's! They were kind enough to send me a new store credit card and an enticing 12 months same as cash offer on new purchases, AND a gift card. Lowe's loves me. And my money. Anyway, it worked, and we took Elizabeth with us and bought a few wish-list items for the house like shelving for the garage, blinds for the upstairs rooms, and cabinet knobs and drawer pulls for the kitchen. Fun!

Here's Avery at playgroup on his 2nd birthday, September 23, 2008

Wednesday we had gymnastics, and then made a trip to Wal-Mart in Dahlonega. I usually save paper goods, diapers, that kind of stuff for a Wal-Mart trip when I can, since it's cheaper there than at Ingles in town. It's amazing how a cart can fill to overflowing at Wal-Mart. (Granted KIDS took up some of this space!) I also picked up stuff for the upcoming birthday party for Avery and Shannon. Pictures of that event to be posted soon. Wednesday night was church as usual.

Thursday was another day spent at home until that night when we went to Rebecca's for our usual dinner group. What enjoyable weather! It's funny to see the mix of clothing we all wear and put on our kids this time of year. Mine were in shorts and T-shirts, others were in jeans and/or long sleeves. If the temperature is 68 degrees in the spring we're all in our shorts and flip flops. If it's 68 degrees in the fall we all drag out our jeans and sweaters.

If you'd like to see what attention starved children we have, check out these pictures. I was on the phone one day this week, which somehow turns me into a magnet for the kids. I have been known to flee to the bathroom and lock the door if it's an important conversation. This day they each had 152 very important things to tell or ask me during the phone call, so I tried to hide on the back porch. When I got off of the phone, here's what I found.
Notice anything about their faces?
This would be red ballpoint pen.
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And this would be orange marker.

Apparently they were thinking,"If we're not allowed to interrupt her conversation, we'll just get her attention some other way!" Brilliant plan. I believe the children are our future.

And here's one from this week, just because it's cute. This is Elizabeth first thing in the morning. Imagine kicking feet and waving hands. She's a happy girl!

'Night, y'all!

September 20, 2008

Life in a small town

I love living in Cleveland. As of next month we will have been here for eight years. We have a total of two traffic lights in the city limits, and sometimes we even have to wait through two changes of the light on a Friday when all the Helen go-ers are trying to get to "the mountains" for the weekend. (Perhaps I will discuss the town of Helen in another post.) Small town living suits me and James, and I like that our kids will be raised here. As a child I remember my folks saying maybe we should just move up here (my dad's parents are from Cleveland so we visited relatives here while I was growing up), and I recall being horrified at the thought. It's so SMALL and COUNTRY! The irony.

Today was the Fall Leaf Festival in town. There were booths and food and all kinds of festivalish things. It was also the 25th anniversary of the Cabbage Patch kids, so there was a big shindig at Babyland General (the big tourist trap, er, sacred birthplace of the Cabbage Patch babies). I remember when they were the hot toy that Christmas and parents everywhere were getting into the spirit of celebrating Jesus' birth by clobbering each other in toy stores to get the last doll on the shelf. Wow, where did 25 years go?

Becky, who worked at the barn this summer and has pretty much been to the barn every day since the summer ended, thought it would be fun to take Strong Rock horses to the parade. It was part of the festival, and Strong Rock was well represented. I didn't get to ride but I did take the kids and got some pictures.

Kids carried three Strong Rock flags, including the Awahili and Waya flags, which represent the two tribes at camp. (You are cordially invited to come see camp in action next summer, if you have no idea what I'm talking about.) The rider in the background is Mali, who also worked at the barn this summer. She's riding Kiefer, one of the Strong Rock horses.
This is Becky (in the green shirt) on Jasmine, and on the left is Susan on her horse Pascal. She is the one who is giving me riding lessons, and came along to ride on behalf of SR just for fun. The horse on the far right is being ridden by a guy we've never met before who jumped right into the Strong Rock group. Guess next year we'll bring some extra shirts, in case strangers want to help represent us again.
One of the requirements for riding in the parade was that you provide a pooper scooper. This is Becky's husband Rick, who is a very good sport! I think more pictures were taken of him today than of the horses.
Here are my kids at the parade with our friend Rebecca Avra. She volunteered her Saturday morning to help me "herd cats," i.e. keep the kids out of traffic. Rebecca is our office manager at camp. She is also responsible for the founding of our Thursday night dinner group, which started as an accountability group amongst some of us girls.
Elizabeth was very excited about her first parade.

You never know what you'll see in a small town parade, but I thought a few of these pictures pretty well represented it.

They were throwing candy from this car. I wondered if we dared to eat it. (In case you can't read it, it says "STOP SPREADING HUMAN WASTE.") The thing that would have made it perfect is if they were throwing unwrapped Baby Ruths. :)

Another shot of the car, which says "STOP SPREADING THE FUNK."

Here's a bigger-than-life sized set of the Ten Commandments.
I believe we have been patrons of the Thomas Deer Cooler. I was hoping they would be throwing deer sausage and roasts out the window. I brought my cooler.

My kids thought it was amazing that people would throw perfectly good candy out on the sidewalk. We came home with a big bag full of it.

The town of Clermont, just down the road from us (where we go to church) had their big annual celebration today as well. It was still going strong this evening when we got to the home of our friends the Pittman's from church for a Sunday School social. The best part was a huge fireworks show, which lasted about 10 minutes and was right across the street from the Pittman's home.

It's been another good day, and we're off to church in the morning. We have to leave by 8:00 to get there on time for the early service, no easy feat with four little ones. My mom and dad are coming to visit tomorrow, and I also have a riding lesson tomorrow afternoon. James and my dad are going to get up the hay we had cut off of our pasture (about 600 bales- with the help of some others, we hope!).

One last picture, just for fun, because you never know what you're going to see when you leave Elizabeth in a room with Amelia.

Yep, I did this!

September 18, 2008

And another thing...

Here are a few more pictures I was going to put on the last post. For some reason I couldn't get that one to cooperate. I went back and edited it...twice...and still ended up not being able to get these pictures on it OR fix the typos I had in the last one. Typos drive me crazy. I will now go and stew all night about why I couldn't edit that last post. No, I will probably just get into this blogging software and reprogram it. Be right back.

Well, seems you have to have some kind of degree in computer programming to fix a problem like the one I'm having. Seriously, I will think about the typos and the fact that I couldn't fix them for awhile. Perhaps I am a bit OCD? While I'm on the what-bothers-me-about-this-blogging-program kick, I will also mention that I dislike the fact that when you preview what you're about to post, it doesn't look like what gets posted. The preview screen is not the same width as the actual blog, so once it is posted it messes up your captions and moves pictures over.

Now I'll do what I always do in situations where I feel like complaining. I'll tell myself that I am danged fortunate to live in a country where I can share my thoughts with anyone who cares to read them- even including the name of God- on a FREE program that I am using on my very nice computer while sitting in my very nice, dry, warm in the winter/cool in the summer house. I am rich, I am blessed, and my problems could certainly be a lot worse! And this is really how I feel. Goodnight!

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Playing the day away

I'll start by summarizing our week thus far. Remember, this is for me and my future reading. Skip on down if you don't care for the boring details!) :) Monday was photo shoot day. Tuesday we went to Ingles again, mainly because I was bringing dinner to some families with new babies. Remember the post where I named off all the friends who had babies in one week? They're all home and trying to get into the swing of craziness with newborns, so friends from church are coordinating meals to make it a little easier. Even though I end up with almost no room in the cart for groceries, it's still fun to take the kids to the store. Yes, you heard me right. I enjoy it, and I think they do to. (More free popcorn.)

Tuesday afternoon was a flurry of juggling cooking three meals with taking care of kids, mainly the one who wouldn't nap when I needed her to (Elizabeth). I made dinner for the Woody family and Raffray family, and for some reason decided it would be a great time to make something entirely different for my own family, beef stew. I learned a valuable lesson about barley that day. If it says add 1 1/2 cups, don't add the rest of the box since even if it seems like such a tiny little bit. Barley takes over the pot. I ended up with a pot of what I have named "Find the Beef and Vegetables in the Barley, If You Can." It still tasted pretty good, though.

Tuesday evening Jenny came over to borrow my camera to take to the soccer field to photograph Ruth, Bennett, and Maggie's games. She took Amelia and Shannon with her to watch and run around the field, and that left me with two less to go to Clermont to deliver the meals. I got to see little Bella Woody, who is a cutie pie. Her mom says she's been sleeping through the night (9:30-6:00) since they brought her home. I guess I forgot to put my order in for that model!

Wednesday was gymnastics and then church that evening. James and I kept the nursery. We've been on a four week rotation, but since he and I don't usually have anything to attend on Wednesday nights we told them we'd be the permanent Wednesday night folks for the two's if that would help free up other people to take other spots. With so many young families at our church it has been a huge feat to get childcare taken care of, even with every parent of a preschooler on the rotation.

Today (Thursday) has been a big day of play here at the happy Himstedt home. I hosted playgroup this morning, which was fun. I had also volunteered earlier in the week to do our Thursday night dinner here. Two of the moms would be back tonight, so I asked if they'd just leave their boys to play until then. So we had Elliott and A.J. Hicks and Caleb Raffray join us for the afternoon. We mostly played outside since it's starting to cool off and the weather is beautiful. My two youngest cooperated and made it easy by taking LONG naps. Shannon enjoyed having boys over and they spent the day doing boy stuff. Amelia had fun too, though she sometimes gets frustrated that little boys don't play like little girls. I didn't hear mention of a single princess all afternoon, and I think she even got used to not being able to tell them all what they would all be playing next. Boys basically do their own thing and don't care if a girl is trying to tell them what to pretend or how to do it. I enjoyed the day with all of the kids, and they behaved and got along quite well. See pictures below...

Here's a picture of Elizabeth at playgroup. I just had to include this one because I think it showcases her mondo cheeks quite nicely. What do you suppose she's storing in there?

Here's sweet little Sophia Raffray. Erin and Brad got back from Florida with her on Saturday, and she's doing well. She has just hit 6 pounds, and is a tiny little thing. Isn't she so cute? (See a few posts back for more info on Sophie's story, if you missed it.)

The boys, A.J., Caleb, Elliott, and Shannon. They had lined themselves up in anticipation of getting to watch a movie while Amelia and I did school today.

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Here's one of Amelia and Elliott. Amelia is 6 months older than him. They've been buddies for awhile now. (I'll don't understand why sometimes captions act ugly and refuse to be put where I want them. Oh well!)

Here they are in August of 2004. Amelia was 13 months old, Elliott was 7 months. This seems like yesterday.

September 15, 2008

Photo shoot

Alright, here are some of the results of my Elizabeth 3 month photo shoot. I am also playing with loading photos from Picasa (try it if you're looking for a neat online photo storage place) to the blog. I didn't realize I could do that until today.

Several turned out cute. I still think it would be fun to actually know what I'm doing when I take pictures. I see readouts of all these little numbers at the bottom of my viewing area as I'm taking the pictures, and I know they just have to mean something! I'd also like photo software that would allow me to do fun stuff like erase drool. I've decided this is a necessity for good baby/toddler pictures.


I have pictures of Amelia in this dress at 9 months old, and it fit her at that age. (The tag says 12 months but I think it's a bit off...) Still, it was starting to get a little snug around Elizabeth's arms already.



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It was more than Avery could stand to just sit back and watch.


Wonder what he's thinking...

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The other cool thing about Picasa is that when I want to order prints all I do is hit the "Order Prints" button and it takes me to a screen where I can choose from 10 or so online photos sites like Snapfish, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, etc.

Maybe one day I'll get all this neato stuff figured out. Probably when I can learn to go through life without sleep. I've always said I think I could get everything I needed/wanted to get done if I could just not sleep. Pesky human body!

On that note, think I'll go to bed.

September 13, 2008


They're finally in bed, and all is quiet in the house. I really wonder what I did with all my time before four kids came along. I can't remember! I blame the failing memory on them too. Research has proven that pregnancy actually causes the loss of brain cells. Apparently you never get them back.

Overall the past few days have been good ones, they've just had their moments of craziness. Yesterday was a stay at home all day day (much to the confusion of the kids, who get up every single day asking, "Where are we going today?"). Stay at home days equal silliness the likes of which must be experienced to be believed. Apparently silliness dulls the ability to hear and/or obey. That always makes me grumpy. The main problem lately has been "bathroom words," "bathroom noises," burping, and the loud announcement of any bodily function in case it wasn't heard properly the first time. Mostly these things take place at the dinner table. It's setting a terrific example for Avery who otherwise wouldn't yet have known those things were supposed to be humorous. Punishments have ranged from sending them to the bathroom for bathroom talk (since they're going to do it anyway, may as well let them but ONLY in the corresponding room of the house), to being excused from the table regardless of the amount they've eaten so far, to the evil mommy voice/eye, or worse. But that's only if it's James that's doing it. (Just kidding, it really is little people against big people on this one.)

Here's where it stinks to be a parent. Amelia asked me the other day after I'd gotten on to her about burping and laughing hysterically, "Well mom, did you USED to think it was funny?" Great question! Of course I did! Frankly, (sorry Mom), I still do! In my past life I was queen of swallowed-air-belching-on-purpose, winning countless burping contests. I even taught my brother how to burp on command, a skill which he honed to an art form. I worked at a boys' summer camp, for crying out loud. But as a parent if I let it slip that I think burping is funny- or if I ever did it on purpose around here- it would all be over. Any clout I carry as the teacher of manners would be gone. So, I think I answered her question by saying something about it not being appropriate, bad manners, the same blah blah blah she hears 452 times a day. But on the inside I'm saying, "Good one!"

Anyway, I did get quite frustrated yesterday when I wasn't being heard and obeyed, and more than once I used my outside voice inside. I hate my outside voice, especially when it's directed at my kids. We did end the day on a snuggly note though, having rented Alvin and the Chipmunks and cuddling with all the kids on the couch. (Dumb movie, by the way...but what else should I have expected?) I love it when days end like that, even though it was a little sad when I started thinking about how short of a time ago it was that both Amelia and Shannon could sit on my lap at the same time and I could still see over their heads. Being in a retrospective mood, I thought it would be fun to look at some pictures from a few years ago, when they could both fit on my lap.

February 2005- Amelia was always such a happy drunk at 19 months.

This was always one of my favorites of Shannon (4 months). Preach it, brother!

Here's Amelia at her 2nd birthday party.

Here's Shannon that same day (9 months).

Okay, that was fun. Random, I know, but it's what was on my mind.

Today is opening day of deer season. James left before light and spent the day in the woods, but is returning home deer-less. He's now playing cards with some friends. Tomorrow is church, then a horsey day for me with a lesson in the afternoon and then plans to take the older kids to the barn for a ride since they've been asking for days. All that to say, we've been Jamesless today, so we made some of our own fun. We went to Alison's (aka Elliott and A.J.'s house) for playtime and lunch. Today is Alison's birthday so we celebrated with brownies and 3 candles, the best I could do. (She said there were a few missing- at least we had 3 to represent the number of decades!) It was good to get out of the house, particularly since the day started with the usual sillies as described above PLUS a good dose of bickering amongst themselves just to make me happy.

After leaving Alison's at naptime I decided to do something which could have backfired severely and left me in a state of regret. Yes, I went to Wal-Mart with the kids DURING nap time! Actually the older two are usually fine, Amelia doesn't take a nap anymore anyway, but Avery can turn on an incredible whine when he's tired. I needed to make a Wal-Mart run and was halfway there already, so I chanced it. I was also hoping to stop by the Raffrays for a peek at baby Sophie on my way home, but they weren't back yet (more on that in a minute). Avery took a 20 minute nap in the car and everyone was very good in the store. Elizabeth even got a nap while being carried around strapped to me. Only one person commented on me having my hands full, and one very nice lady told me it was so great to see a mom with a big family. It's always older folks who stop to talk to the kids and tell me how pretty they are. I love that. One day I'll be sure to stop and talk to buggies full of kids at the store when I'm an old lady.

So then we got home, and that's when it all fell apart. But I'll spare you the details on that. They're all in bed now, that's what's important.

Baby Sophie- I can't wait to get pictures. She is the brand new daughter of our friends Erin and Brad Raffray. They have had about four years of what they have chosen to call "character building." Their first born, Emily, had unpredictable, frequent, and scary seizures from the time she was about five months old. God took her home just a week before her third birthday, this past March was a year ago. They also have a son, Caleb, who was just over 18 months old at the time. They lost a second child, another son, 20 weeks into a pregnancy last November. They have handled all with amazing strength, which they completely attribute to God. Just 9 weeks ago they found out about a mom in Florida who was looking for adoptive parents for her baby. Unfortunately she has had a hard life full of drugs and other things, and felt Erin and Brad were the right choice. Everything came together beautifully, amazingly, and they are now the proud parents of Sophia Virginia Raffray. Caleb (now 3) is a big brother! Just hours ago they were on their way home from Florida after a 10 day mandatory waiting period. Hopefully we'll get to meet her tomorrow! God has done it again, and the way things happened so perfectly only He can get the credit.

A few more thoughts, while I'm thinking them.

Shannon has finally jumped a hurdle this week, and is off and running with praying out loud. Before this week he would shake his head, clamp his mouth shut, and say, "MMM-MMM," when asked to pray. Now he's volunteering, and I love it! It's hard not to laugh sometimes though, for both me and Amelia. I hope she doesn't watch me during prayer times. Here's a sampling of what we hear, spoken very earnestly.
"Dear God, thank you so much for all of your blessings. (Imagine a bit of a lisp on the s's.) Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross. (I love that part.) And God, we just ask that you thank us for sending the weather. And, I just love my bunk bed. Your blessings are so wonderful, and Avery, and Elizabeth, and my friends. Amen." I get cracked up when the sentences don't make sense but I'm over it by the time he opens his eyes. Amelia got cracked up today about the bunk bed comment. Poor Shannon looked at her and said, "What's so funny?," so she told him, and he said, "I didn't say that." "Yes you did," she says. "No I didn't. I don't think I did. Did I say that, Mom? I didn't."

I also love the way Avery talks. He speaks extremely well for a not quite two-year old. He has a few funny words though, and I was reminded of them when he used them today. One is "cement mixer," which he always points out on the road saying, "Look! A mee-ment ment ment mix truck!" The other is when he sees motorcycles, which we saw in large herds today since it's a weekend. He has forever called them "tee tycles," but that has now graduated to "wee tycle." A few other words have started evolving lately too, including "water," which has forever been "wawee," and is now "wawer." The most puzzling was the word "balloony," which he has used for any kind of berry, tomato, or grape. I spent all summer holding up a huckleberry and saying, "berrrr..," "berrrrr," he said. "Eeeeee," I would say, "eeeee," he would say. "Berry," I said. "Balloony!," he said. This could have gone on for days. Just in the past few weeks he has started saying, "berry, grape, and tato" (for tomato). As much as "balloony" drove me crazy, I kind of miss it.

We have to leave by 8:00 in the morning to get to the early service, so I guess I'll go to bed now. I'm going to attempt a homemade photo shoot sometime next week, so hopefully I'll have pictures to post then. As though you weren't tired of seeing picture of the kids! I have pictures of all of the kids as 3 month old babies though, and I want a good one of Elizabeth as well. Having bought a super duper camera over the summer, I figure I ought to be able to get at least one professional sort of looking one if I can get the lighting right. I'd really love to learn how to do some photography for real. (Perhaps anyone out there who may be looking for the right Christmas gift for me- and I know this includes SO MANY of you- a Photography for Dummies book, and a some Photoshop software?)


September 10, 2008


Avery is no longer a baby in a crib. He is now a man. A man with his own bed, free of bars to keep him down. A bed that allows him to roam freely about the house, to grab toys and pile the bed high with them, and to discover where mom and dad sleep. Last week James decided it was time for graduation. Avery has been sleeping in a crib in the room that adjoins ours, and though we moved a loft bunk bed into Shannon's room with the toddler bed under it back in the summer, I wasn't ready then to move him and have him negotiate stairs in the middle of the night. He can handle the stairs at this point, but now the problem is he doesn't know what to do with his newfound freedom. The first night he finally drifted off to sleep at about 11:45, after 12 or so popping out of bed episodes. James dealt with them calmly but firmly, even though he's pretty darned cute coming in out of the room smiling and saying, "Hey daddy," or "hey mommy," like we asked him to stay awake until almost midnight. The next night James wasn't in and I didn't feel like dealing with it, so when he got up for the 5th time and said, "I want to sleep in Avery's crib," I said SURE! The past two nights he's slept upstairs again, and has gone to sleep a little quicker each time. Now Elizabeth will have her own graduation and then we will be free of the toe-stubbing Pack n Play in our room.

Sunday we did the church thing and that afternoon I had a riding lesson. I am learning a lot, I just wish I was able to practice what I learned between lessons! One day, one day. Monday was spent entirely at home, and the kids made their own fun (with a little help from me dragging some toys off the back porch for them.)

Yee haw, a roller coaster ride! Shannon gets some air.




Wipeout! (Yes, he was fine. Didn't even need a band aid.)

"Mom, does this match?" "No." "Can I wear it anyway?"

Tuesday morning we headed out to give Mr. Ingles some more of our money, i.e., a trip to the grocery store because we were pretty much out of everything. I was carrying Elizabeth in the front carrier on my chest, Avery was in the buggy seat, and the other two rode on the cart garbage man style. I had no less than four people say, "You've got your hands full!" before we got to ailse five. "It's a good handful," I usually say, as my friend Jenny tells people when she's out with her four. And it is! They really don't give me a hard time, and are fun to take places...usually. The free popcorn they give out at Ingles makes it all worth it to the kids. My friend Alison says they also do free cookies, but so far I've been successful at keeping this a secret. About halfway through shopping I met a lady who had SIX kids with her. Wow.

Tuesday night James and I had the first of what we plan to make weekly date nights. We had a good talk about changing some things in our life to increase it's quality, and one of those is making sure we make time to hang out with each other. Back in the days before kids (when was that again?) we went out every Friday and/or Saturday. Nowadays we've fallen into a habit of doing our own thing every evening after kids are in bed, so we've institued Tuesday date night. Last night I dusted off the Backgammon game, and we played an intense three rounds. (Well, not really intense, I don't think you could make Backgammon intense if you tried, but it was fun!)

This morning was gymnastics. Shannon said he didn't want to go, he would just get put in time out. I tried to explain how he could avoid the time out chair. "I just can't pay attention!," he tried. He went anyway, didn't get put in time out, and had a good time. Meanwhile I took Elizabeth and Avery with me and got the oil changed in the car. I then terrorized Avery with the 1/2 price car wash they offer. Heh, heh, heh, all part of my diabolical plan. (He ended up thinking it was pretty fun after all.) Next time I'll get the vacuum too. Beware little kids everywhere!

Here's what I found after leaving Elizabeth in Amelia's room for a brief moment. She said she did it.

Tonight we had church, and now we're home, and I'm going to bed. Again. Same old thing every night.

PS- A few more photos, just for fun.

Here's Elizabeth coming out of that larval stage where they just sit, eat, and look around. She's starting to play with toys now (3 months). It's our fourth kid, but it's still amazing!

When an almost two-year old doesn't get his way.

Here's James' project, his pride and joy, his baby.

Here's how it got to be two colors. (February 2008)

All done! Now what was hard about that? Cool, huh?