May 28, 2009

Partying, Graduating, and Blobbing (in that order)

Things are really cranking up with camp now. The entire staff arrives tomorrow (Friday), though a lot of them are already here because of trainings we held this week. Some are helping with a large group we're hosting that won't leave until Saturday. The timing wasn't so good on that one, but we need the money!

So far we've held a horseback riding certification clinic last week, then archery, riflery, lifeguarding (in a VERY cold lake), and tomorrow will be First Aid and CPR for the whole staff. It's been fun having the early arrivals here. This is the time of year we live for!

A few other things have happened since my last post. Mothers' Day and baby decication, for instance. No pictures. Taking my mom horseback riding on Mothers' Day. NO pictures. Last day of gymnastics. No pictures. (Both kids are doing cartwheels well now, if you need a gymnastics update.)

I do have pictures of our class Sunday School party a few weeks back. We had a potluck supper and then all of our kids disappeared to another building at church to be looked after by some wonderful high schoolers raising money for a mission trip. Then the adults had a game night. Very fun!!

Guitar Hero, anyone? Our Sunday School teacher Jay walked in the room to No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn (Beastie Boys). You can find it in the Baptist Hymnal. I can't remember which number it is.

Everyone's trying so hard to focus on what the screen says to do that it looks like they're being tortured instead of having fun!

Golf, I think. Or tennis. I can't remember.

Spades! This game went on for two hours. I think it's cool how playing a game can bring together four people who otherwise might not hang out.

The spades table for the card playing challenged. Amanda, Rebecca, Jill, and me. And a couple of chocolate chip cookies.

Jay, our Sunday School teacher, and Curtis D.

A milestone was reached this past week as well. We've officially graduated a kindergartener! Actually it was unofficial. Many friends went to their kid's kindergarten graduations and programs where they received diplomas and recited some of what they learned this year.

I let my kid dress herself and gave her a popsicle. Pretty much representative of the formality of her first year of school.

I didn't go with a curriculum this year, I just got some guidelines as to what kindergarteners should know by the end of the year and worked with her for about an hour a day to accomplish those goals. I wrote down daily what we did, in case I wish to repeat our not-so-formal school year with the others. My goal was to get her reading, doing a little math (money, basic fractions, adding, subtracting), and learning about God's world and nature. She didn't get any kind of test at the end of the year or anything, but as a possibly biased teacher and mom, I think she did very well. She exceeded my expectations in reading. I'm having her read a chapter book about Heidi to me aloud, and as an example of how she's doing today she read things like, "The lid was not properly fastened, and suddenly there were kittens everywhere," and "'Oh!Oh! Oh! Get rid of these horrible creatures!' She turned to Heidi. 'You dreadful child! You shall be shut up in the cellar with the rats as your punishment!'"

I hate to brag (not true, I'll shamelessly brag on her for a minute), but she won't be six until next month and she reads stuff like that without help. Phonics worked for us...but what's cool is how brains can memorize so much stuff. There are a lot of words in those sentences alone that can't be sounded out like they are spelled. The more I work with a new reader the more I am amazed that anyone who isn't a native English speaker can ever learn how to speak it, much less read and write it. It makes no sense!! It's funny now that she's reading she's forever asking me what a word she just read means, even after sounding it out correctly. She wasn't sure what a cellar was but she read it correctly. Why does "c" say "s?," and how did she know it did in this case? Brains are amazing.

Anyway, I will be homeschooling a first grader this next school year. It still feels right to keep her at home, so that's the route we're going for now. Shannon won't start kindergarten until the following year even though he's just 14 months behind her because of his October birthday. I plan to pick up with our reading lessons with him this summer, and I'm also going to order some piano books and hopefully start that with both of them soon.

Last Wednesday through Friday I instructed a horseback riding clinic to certify riding instructors from five different camps. I only needed one of my folks certified, but it was easy to fill the rest of the clinic with folks who will work at other camps this summer. It was a lot of fun, and proof that God answers weather prayers. There was a 50% chance of storms and we got about four drops of rain the whole three days.

Here are the folks who participated in the clinic, along with my fellow instructor Janice (on the far right). She is planning to start a theraputic riding program at least one day a week at our barn very soon.

And now for a collection of Elizabeth pictures. She will be one next week!! (June 5th) My baby is growing up!! (Sniff, sniff.)

What's this? A bow on the floor? Wonder how it got there...

Oh well, guess I'll eat it.

I love it when someone leaves clothes on the floor! Amelia's shirt is very versatile. It can be a hat...

Or a cape.


Elizabeth is trying to crawl, but still prefers scooting along on her rear. She pulls up to her knees but hasn't figured out how to stand yet. When I try to put her down on her feet she lifts them up so she ends up sitting. I guess she figures if I don't want to tote her 22 pounds around then there must be a good reason and she doesn't want to either!

Let's see, what else has been going on? Sunday we had a Memorial Day picnic after church. No pictures, so that's boring. Everyday this week has been pretty low key too. Amelia spent Sunday night with Ruth, after we stayed way too late playing cards at the Davidsons. (Well, responsible parents who get their kids to bed at regularly scheduled (early) hour would say it was way too late. We were just living life like usual.) We've had meals in the Dining Hall this week, which I can truthfully say is AWESOME! I love it when we're walking in to a meal and one of the kids asks what we're having and I can say, "I have no idea!" That means I didn't have to think of it, buy the groceries for it, or cook it. I am a kept woman in the summer. Except for the laundry thing.

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for. (What is it? YOU know. You've been waiting for it, haven't you?)

The blob tower, complete with it's very own blob:

Isn't it cool?

We went out to watch some of the staff who arrived early give it a try, but they were still working on getting it anchored. They found out earlier in the week that if it's not anchored it log rolls you off.

Then it started raining. It's been raining a lot lately, even out of the (mostly) clear blue sky.

Shannon confers with Winston about the finer points of blobbing, and the fact that it's raining again.

I don't think they were actually helping at this point, but they thought they were.

We've had the privilege of seeing a lot of these lately. Today there was a freak shower complete with fat rain coming down really hard while it was sunny. I saw lightning while the sun was out. It was weird. Afterwards there was a beautiful rainbow and I went through the colors with the kids- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Shannon is such a man's man he surprises me when he says things like, "Why isn't there magenta?"

The staff were feeling ambitious again last night after dinner, and decided to brave the chill of the lake and the approaching darkness with some blobbing. So off I went to get the camera again (and it rained again!), and I had to witness this:

The blob actually ate someone.



This is going to be bad. It's nearly impossible to control the motion of your body through the air once you are launched. She lost both of her shoes but then went back for more. Guess it wasn't that bad after all. (She did hold her nose the next time!)

He actually did a flip. This is the end of rotation. I give this blob dismount a 9.3.

Tomorrow offically kicks off staff training week, then kids arrive on the 7th. Goodbye, world, we are about to disappear until mid-July! Come on out to camp if you want to see some first hand fun. We're praying that God uses camp to really change some lives this summer. We are so very blessed to get a front row seat to witness God in action.

I'll get some pictures and blog again soon. Not sure how soon....soon is relative, I guess.

In the meantime, I leave you with some quotes from my children from the past couple of weeks. Actually they're all from Shannon, come to think of it.

Shannon came to the table last week pretending he was a police officer. He stayed in character through lunch, which was leftover chili. He is not a fan of beans lately, and while picking them out with his spoon looked at me seriously and said, "My officer friends don't eat the beans."

The kids had taken all the cusions off the couch upstairs and made tunnels with them, the coffee table, and some blankets. Shannon popped out his head and said they were groundhogs. It was lunch time so I asked them to straighten up some mess they had made in the room. He was blaming it on groundhogs to avoid having to clean, so I pointed out that he was a groundhog. I asked about a pile of movies that had been left out and he said, "Oh, a groundhog made that mess but then he died." Clever little feller, ain't he?

Another morning he was walking one of Amelia's Barbie's along Avery's bed rail, singing, "I've been walking on the RAIL road."

And for the last one, he told us his friend Lyndsi had her fossils out. (Tonsils and ear tubes, to be more specific.)

I'm off to bed! Feeding horses at 6:30 comes early.

PS- We now have two Jeeps. More on that to come.

May 16, 2009

The promised pictures and then some

I got my camera and card back from Jenny (who has been documenting her kids' end of school activities this past week), and am just now getting around to posting the pictures that were on the card. She added a few I didn't have to my card from other activities we were both at the past few weeks. So here are the promised Fun in The Son musical photos. Well, the photos aren't actually musical, but the musical was...musical. Anyway, there are some from the musical musical which was two Sundays ago, plus a few other random shots. This won't be a real Corie's life post, I'll save the weekly summary drivel for another day. I've got some saddles to clean. (I'm planning to watch Hidalgo while doing it. Nothing like cleaning saddles in front of a horse movie.)

Didn't the set look great? The kids who were the main characters did a fantastic job.

Here she is, our little clam!

The kids who finished their devotion and memorized their verses got a special T-shirt to wear. I re-emphasized many times that we were doing the devotional to know God better, not to get the T-shirt, but she was still excited about getting it. Been there, did the devotional, got the T-shirt.

Our friend Maggie sings a solo.

The next few pictures are random shots from the past few weeks.

Playgroup at the Cleveland park this past week. Doesn't that look suspiciously like a gun strapped to my shorts? James would love it, but it's just my ginormous phone. I could probably defend myself with it if I had to.

Shannon's on the verge of understanding how to pump a swing, but he's not quite there yet.

Elizabeth loves to swing. Hey look, a rare shot of her with a bow in her hair. I've nearly given up on them now since she immediately yanks them out and tries to eat them. She is funny after she gets it out though, she'll usually try to stick it back on top of her head.

Another playgroup, several weeks back. We played in the gym at camp, then took a field trip to the barn to see some horses. You haven't truly golf carted until you've chauffered eight kids 5 and under.

One of my favorite shots of my good buddy Alison, and little Tozer barely in the shot by her foot. (Alison, please don't kill me for posting this for all the world to see.) It's funny how many people have gotten the two of us confused at church. It's easy to see why, since we both sport this "I-spend-all-day-with-little-kids-and-am-slightly-crazy" look. (Neither of us would trade it for a gazillion bucks, though.)

Is this looking familiar? The was a day a few weeks ago when the Davidson family spent all afternoon working at camp to help discount the cost of camp tuition for their oldest two. They split and stacked a very large pile of wood. I came by to watch.

End of the day frolics. Everybody had to get a big rock to throw.


Shannon got to help run the log splitter.

He's such a man. He loves man stuff, loves to help, and James and I look forward to using these gifts of his around camp when he gets a little older.

Another random shot. Amelia had Ruth over to spend the night week before last. She put on her best outfit to celebrate the occasion.

And for the last random picture of the post...

James reading to the kids. He really is the best story reader, complete with voices and sound effects. My mom enjoyed story time too. She never learned to read, poor thing. (I'm spreading lies. Just for fun.)

Another post to come sometime soon. I will be instructing a horseback riding certification clinic this next week, Wednesday through Friday, so it may have to be after that. We'll see how it goes. (In other words, how I'm doing with getting stuff done.)


May 8, 2009

Fun in the Son, fun in the rain, and fun at the doctor

I've resigned myself to the fact that I will never be able to write a blog post weekly.

So here's what's been going on for the past week and over a half. Let me just kick my brain into gear...the wheels are turning...kind of...anybody seen the WD-40?

Saturday of last week Amelia had a rehearsal for the kids' choir musical at church. I had planned to drop her off at church then head to Gainesville for a Target shopping spree for the oldest two so they won't have to be naked this summer. Elizabeth had been grumpy and coughing the day before and got up grumpy Saturday morning too, so instead I spent that time hauling her and the other two well kids to the doctor. She has an ear infection and 10 days of antibiotics. I kicked in my life's motto, "It's always something."

The most notable thing that happened last week was the big performance of Fun in the Son at church. Amelia's choir (K-5th grade) put on an incredible performance. The hours that went into the set, costumes, rehearsals, and every part of it are surely innumerable. Amelia was excited to be a part of it. I like that even if no one in the audence got anything out of it (which I'm sure they did), what the kids who participated learned was worth all the effort. They had an eight-week devotional that went along with it, which we completed as part of school time each day. She memorized Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (so did I), and learned several spiritual truths through the songs and the speaking parts. We must have listened to our Fun in the Son CD at home at least 1,024 times. Then there's the clam, a googly eyed, sparkly hand puppet.

Amelia and two other kindergarteners' hands got to be stars. The cast was amazing for a bunch of non-professional church kids. We have a talented bunch of kids and adults alike at Concord. The littlest kids were hilarious, mostly because they were yawning through most of it, even while singing. It was kind of an early morning for some of them (like us!). Naps were had by all of the Himstedt kids Sunday afternoon and I went to the barn for a little while.

I'll post Fun in the Son and clam photos next time. My camera is on loan and I didn't get the photos off first. This week's photos are brought to you courtesy of James' camera, who has been kind enough not to eat them before I could load them to the computer. (See a couple of posts ago for my angst over losing Easter photos.)

Saturday we got some cruddy news. James' mom (in Texas) fell somehow and broke both bones in her leg above her right ankle. She had already bought her plane ticket to arrive here in three weeks. She always spends 3-4 weeks with us here at camp in the summer, so now that's off. A big fat bummer for me, especially! I'm the one who gets to enjoy her company the most since James is usually doing camp things all day, and the kids will miss spending all those days with Mimi. She was working at a Good Neighbor project, carrying some wood, and proving once again that no good deed goes unpunished.

I can't remember a darned thing about Monday, so I'm guessing nothing worth mentioning happened. Just a little art work with pipe cleaners.

She made this herself. If you have little kids and have never bought them pipe cleaners to play with, go get some now.

Shannon is finally attempting to draw. He's never had much interest in it, so this is a major accomplishment. The stick folks are truly his very first effort at drawing people. The middle picture is a Jeep (duh), and the bottom one is where he traced his hand. His freaky, four fingered hand.

Avery enjoyed driving cars through play dough. Every little car or truck we have has dried play dough somewhere on or in it.

One thing I remember about Monday is rain. LOTS of rain. Thanks to God's abundance of precipitation this spring the grass is doing great, the flowers are beautiful, Lake Lanier, which is our area's water source (stricken by drought this summer and down 17 feet) is looking pretty good, and we've had LOTS of quality indoor time together. God has been good to provide. There were a lot of area churches collectively praying for rain last fall. We dare not complain about His answer to the prayers!

During one heavy rainfall Monday the kids asked if they could go out and play in it. So I gave them the usual default "no" answer, then reconsidered since I couldn't find a good reason for the no. They had a blast, though they were cold. It worked out good since it was late afternoon and we went straight to baths and pajamas.

Other random shots from Monday, before the giant outdoor shower.

D.J. Shannon cues up the tunes...

...and the rock band kicks in! Shannon and Avery are pretty good on the sword guitar.

Cuttin' a rug. You can't dance without a dress. Most of her dress up clothes are getting too small, so she's resorted to changing in and out of real clothes a few dozen times a day.

Dance with me Avery!

Thank you, thank you for your applause.

Elizabeth's new trick; pulling up to her knees. She is now 11 months old. Shannon was pretty much running everywhere by this age. She has no interest in even pulling up to standing yet. Please ignore the alien toes in the lower left corner.

An attempt to capture Elizabeth's strange mode of transportation. She still doesn't crawl, but reaches forward and kind of scoots along on her rear.

She can empty a box very quickly. Pretty fancy toy box, eh?

Tuesday we had playgroup here. Fun was had by all, in spite of the fact that Shannon and Avery were the only boys. That never happens, so they weren't sure what to do. Afterwards Avery confessed that he, "likes shooting girls." Terrific. I'll refrain from too closely analyzing what this might mean for future domestic bliss.

Tuesday after naps we headed BACK to Gainesville, since I never got in that clothes shopping trip. I also had a special delivery to make, a birthday cake for Bliss (my riding lesson student and niece of Rebecca, who works in our office). I practiced my cake decorating, ahem, "skills" on a cake for her 15th birthday. I was supposed to see her Monday for a lesson but the monsoon wrecked that plan. There were no pictures taken of the cake because I didn't feel it's memory was worth preserving, though hopefully it tasted good. I saw them the next day, so at the very least it didn't kill anybody! Target proved a bit dissapointing this year in the sumer clothing department. I usually stock up there because their stuff is cute enough for being el cheapo to get through a summer of hard outdoor playing at camp. We left with a few items, dinner at Wendy's, then home again.

More Elizabeth pictures. Apparently she's the chosen one this week.

She hates actually getting in the saucer now.

Wednesday dawned dull and dreary, another rainy day. That would be because Wednesday mornings are barn time for me. That always brings on the rain. I did get some things done to get ready for camp, though I didn't get to ride. Any barn time is good time. Wednesday afternoon everyone went down for naps, Amelia and I did school, and I planned for Wednesday evening church departure. I should have known something was up when I had to wake Shannon up after THREE hours. He woke up with a fever of 102.8. I'm always amazed how these things can come without warning. Again, it's always something. So Shannon got ibuprofened up, and stayed home with James while I took the others to church. He was coughing a bit, but I immediately thought strep because of the high fever and because we had been exposed to it recently. (Poor Alison carted all three of her boys to the doctor the week before, all for different things, and all on different days!) Grandmas everywhere are probably sure it was letting him play in the rain that brought it on...

He slept on a mat by our bed that night so I wouldn't be trucking it up the steps all night, and pretty much kept the fever until the next morning. He was miserable. I had a busy Thursday with getting 16 horses' feet trimmed by the farrier at 9:00, teaching a riding lesson, gymnastics, and Thursday night dinner, supposedly at our house. So James took him to the doctor, and after the diagnosis we skipped gymnastics and moved Thursday night dinner to the Hicks. Not strep, but an ambiguous, no-name respiratory virus of some kind, most likely contagious while he still had fever. So, yay for fun with breathing treatments for five days and oral steroids. We don't mess around with breathing stuff anymore, not after the lesson learned with Avery in February.

Shannon thinks the way the breathing machine turns medicine into smoke makes him look like a train.

I think it looks more like a peace pipe. "Come, Kemosabe, sit. Join me in smoking the Albuterol pipe, which will promote harmony and good repiratory health between your people and mine."

Friday was a crazy day at home. Some days it seems like everyone is just needier, grumpier, and/or more likely to aggravate siblings than other days. This was one of those days. Is it a full moon? We did have some fun with play dough and art projects, but didn't get to burn off energy outside because of come and go thunderstorms all morning and afternoon. James' work on the blob tower came and went around rain showers as well. I suppose that was a strange phrase for those who don't know what a blob tower is. Camp is getting a blob, which is a huge water toy. The blob needs it's own deck and gang plank of sorts to jump off of, so James, Daniel, and Rick have been working on it this week. For progress and photo updates check out camp's blog on our website,

James came home for a few minutes during the day and Elizabeth had some fun with Daddy.

Yes, those are camo pants she's wearing.

Friday evening was also another "it's always something" episode. Amelia got a shower and was on her way up the steps, fell somehow, and hit her nose. It bled for around 20 minutes, I got it stopped, then 30 minutes later it started again. Between James and I we worked on it for around an hour and a half before it finally quit. I even called our doctor's after hours line, since we had done everything we knew to do. They said take her to the ER if it wouldn't stop. It was crazy! About two months ago she had a nose bleed that took me from 3:00 to 4:00 to get stopped. A.M., that is. Misery for all! She was so tired she just wanted to go to bed but couldn't. She actually fell asleep in my arms while I was trying to stop the bleeding.

Today (Saturday) Mom and Dad were here. Dad and James worked on the blob tower all day, and Mom stayed with the kids so I could get some work done at the barn. I will be instructing a clinic to certify 10 riding instructors from four different camps May 20-22, and need to get some things organized and ready at the barn. It was a fun day for me, though it's kind of a mess out there. My barn time is usually limited to two hour blocks so there hasn't been a lot of time for good barnkeeping.

Just before bed we were visited by a princess and a bride. Oh how I love blackmail.

I think he fills the dress out rather well. This is Cinderfella.

Dance party! I dream of Shannon's first dance with his wife at his wedding. I wonder whose dress will be prettier?

This is probably what he'll actually look like at his wedding if he isn't able to kick the sillies between now and his twenties.

Mom and Elizabeth join the dance party.

Tomorrow is Mothers' Day, and we will do baby dedication at church with Elizabeth. We're getting to the end of an era. Our last baby dedication, AND she's nearly quit nursing. She nurses once a day now, in the morning, and will have nothing more to do with it after that. She's drinking milk out of a cup and eats everything in sight, so I guess she doesn't need it anymore. I nursed the others for a year also, and I thought I might be sad when the time came for her to be finished, since she's the last one. I'm actually pretty okay with it. It's exciting to see all these little folks becoming their own people. I can see how the next several years are really going to be fun.

Hopefully if it doesn't rain, we'll go to church, out to dinner with my folks, and then mom and I will go on a trail ride. It's been at least five years since she's ridden, so I'm proud of her for being willing to go. Should be fun!

I will go to bed now. After I leave you with these quotes from the kids from this week.

Shannon to Avery: "What in the earth are you doing?"

Amelia: "Mom, he's chasing me!" Me: "Stop running."

Shannon to Amelia: "Beat you up the stairs!" Amelia: "It's not a race." Shannon: "Oh yes it is!" Then (after winning the NOT race), "I'm the rotten egg!"

Avery (this happens regularly): "Mom, when can I be a (race car/whale/shark/etc, you name it)? Me: "How about now?" Avery: "Not yet!"

Shannon, while riding in the car this week: "Mom, are there lots of kinds of sausages?" Me: "Yes..." Shannon: "What kinds are there?" I thought about giving him the Forrest Gump answer, "Fried sausage, boiled sausage, sausage gumbo, sausage kabobs, sausage soup, sausage biscuits..."

Goodnight, and Happy Mothers' Day!