June 27, 2009

I love summer!

Sunday another camp session began. We had a relaxing weekend (well, Saturday anyway) between sessions. The last session was awesome and went very smoothly. It was unseasonably hot, though not having rain interrupt was nice.

Our days have fallen into a pleasant rhythm, as they do in the summer. The kids and I get up and head off to breakfast at 8:00, come home for awhile so Elizabeth can nap, go to lunch at 12:20, then come back home for afternoon naps for Elizabeth, Avery, and sometimes Shannon. We then have enough time to play for awhile before dinner at 6:00. Sometimes we splash in the driveway pool here at the house, go to the lake to swim with the campers, or head off to the Lodge to play. Evenings after dinner there is always a camp-wide activity where all the campers play a big group game, usually tribe against tribe for points. We hang out and watch every evening, heading up to the house for much-needed baths around 8:45. Shannon bikes everywhere now, even down the big hill by the lake with us following on the golf cart. Amelia is riding well too, but isn't as aggressive or brave as he is yet. Her bike is also too small for her, which makes it harder for her to ride.

This past week my mom came up to join us. She'll be here most of the summer. Between the two of us we're taking care of the kids and helping with some camp duties. It's been nice for me to get out of the house and into camp some, and I can usually take a kid or two with me. Spending one-on-one time with any of them doesn't happen too often. The kids call them "dates." This past week I lent a hand at the barn on trail ride days and got to guide some rides. A real burden for me, to be sure! I've been getting up about 6:30 to ride each morning and then getting back to the house to get everyone ready for breakfast. I've acquired a small Quarter Horse I've taken on as a personal project, so it's been fun putting some time in on him.

I've said it before, but just let me say again that I LOVE SUMMER! Laid back days, fun going on everywhere out in camp, low stress, accomplishing projects at home, and more time to enjoy the kids are what makes this time of year my favorite. Swimming is a definite bonus too. I've decided that if I could have one kind of domestic help at home it would be a cook. Not that I mind cooking, I just don't like all the time it takes to plan, cook, and clean up after a meal. Just by not having to do that I'm adding at least three hours to my day.

A quick photo of Elizabeth's newest trick:

Lots of babies are walking and running by a year old. Not ours, but at least she can stand up now. She figured this out last week. It's the only place she's pulled up, though she will stand holding on to something if we put her there.

Last week the kids and I got away and went to the spray park in Gainesville. We hadn't been there yet this summer so we packed a lunch and off we went. Elizabeth's morning nap gets in the way some days, but this day we skipped it. That was evident by lunch time. We had fun anyway!

They were a little bummed that we weren't meeting friends that day, particularly Amelia. I told her they could make new friends to play with while they were there.

Amelia got busy making friends right away. There were several girls who looked about her age, so she approached these two.

Pretty soon they were headed off to the other side of the spray ground with each other.

But wait, what's this? A rift in the friendship after only 35 seconds?

Amelia came over and informed me that the ringleader of the two just wanted to play with her cousin and not with her. I made sure she knew that wasn't a very nice way to treat other people and that we shouldn't do that in case we make someone feel bad. She nodded then went over to sit in a puddle and mull it over.

The unfairness of playground politics!

She really did sit there sad looking for a few minutes, and just when I was getting ready to scoop up Elizabeth and head that way...

A few other girls approached her to see what was wrong.

They must have convinced her that life wasn't all bad because seconds later she was walking off with them holding hands. No doubt little people dramas like this one unfold all around us thousands of times a day. Kind of like big people dramas. On an unrelated note, might I take this moment to comment that as much as I loved my babies I am REALLY glad not to be the lady in the background of this picture!!

Shannon made friends right away too, and was truly happy to share the water gun he brought with the other envious little boys. Here's one showing his gratitude by shooting him. I'm not sure I need to worry too much about my children's "socialization" as homeschoolers.

We've also been enjoying the lake at camp. We don't swim in it everyday, as much as the kids would like that. That's mainly because when there's swimming in the lake there's sand from the beach stuck to feet, down bathingsuits, in hair, and everywhere, and swimming time always falls right before dinner time.

Elizabeth enjoys the lake with Grandmom.

Good hair!

Friday after camp ended our family and several counselors went to Rebecca's house for dinner and some Wii. It was fun hanging out with everyone outside of the camp setting. We really do have a great group of folks working here this summer.

The girl band rocks on Guitar Hero- Priscilla (Hugs), Sarah (Scuttle), Jill (Grits), and Meagan (Button). All Strong Rock staffers have nicknames and sometimes by the end of the summer it's hard to remember their real names!

Josh (Pivot) give the drums a try.

Boy band time- Josh (Colorado), Michael (Cricket), C.J. (Swat), and Matt (Tag).

Adoring fans. (C.J., Heather (Gert), and James (Shuffle).)

And then my camera battery died so no more pictures.

Except this one, which was what Elizabeth was doing while the counselors rocked out.

Perhaps we'll have another dress up queen on our hands one day.

Someday soon I'll post photos of the weekend Jeep fun. One of our program directors Mary Beth (Trip) had family members come visit this past weekend. Her brother worked here a couple of summers ago and is now married and they have a little boy. Their son stayed with me while James took Shannon, him and his wife, and a couple of other staffers "Jeeping" on some local forest service roads. Our camp photographer Jackie (Snaps) took A A A LOT of photos so I'll have to sort through them and find fun ones to post. Since I couldn't go myself I sent my camera with her.

Today Amelia took a nasty spill from her bike and got some nice road rash, including her nose. I felt awful for her. Her bike is really too small and I think that was a lot of the problem. She was going down a slight incline and somehow got to wobbling and couldn't recover on that little bike. Amelia, I'll try to take pictures just for you. One day you can see them and prove that you suffered abuse as a child. Your mom wouldn't let you quit until you learned how to ride a bike- and look what it got you!

I'll also try to get out in camp and take some more pictures this week. It's a short session, and will be over Friday. :(

And last but not least, some good news...I have a new niece! Yesterday at 8:00ish PM my brother and his wife had their daughter Reagan Olivia, who was 8 pounds 4 ounces and 21 inches long. I'll try to post some pictures of her as well. I'm really looking forward to meeting her but will probably do so when I don't have to bring along the entire herd of Himstedts. Yay for being an aunt!


June 17, 2009

Summer fun

Another post, so soon! It's not like me to go less than two weeks between posts. But, I have photos, so I blog.

After Elizabeth's party/Thursday night gathering a week ago we closed first session the following day. The counselors agreed that a one-week session is a good way to introduce them to being counselors. James and I dislike one-week sessions because as soon as you're finally getting to know the kids they up and leave!

My Uncle Danny and Aunt Lynn had called earlier in the week to let us know they were coming to their campsite for a long weekend at Unicoi Springs Campground in Helen. They brought four granddaughters and Lynn's niece for some quality grandparent time. We joined them Friday evening for dinner and fun with the kids. The campground is kid heaven with two pools, putt putt, and a playground. There's a sign at the entrance that says "Grandparents at Play." It's that kind of place.

We enjoyed ourselves and the kids had a blast playing with second cousins. Uncle Danny and my dad are brothers, and the girls are the daughters of my cousin Gary.

Love the Eddie Munster hair!

Abi, our cousin who recently turned four.

Kendel, who was two in March.

Bailey helps Elizabeth swing. (Elizabeth is looking healthy these days, no?)


Uncle Danny helps Avery with his form.

Not exactly sure what's going on here....

Avery needs some more lessons.

I love being a parent. I can see how being a grandparent one day will be awesome too.

Saturday was a day off for staff and for us before campers arrived again on Sunday. James wanted to spend some time working on the Jeep, so the kids and I went back to the campground Saturday morning. I didn't intend to spend the entire day, but it worked out that way after all. Avery went on no nap and Elizabeth got one that was about 45 minutes long, but she did fine. Fourth kids adapt! We played all day long and they crashed hard on the way home after dinner.

Amelia with Gracyn and Bailey who are twins and are seven, and with Lynn's niece Lydia. They played a mean game of bean bags on the porch of the main lodge. We also got ice cream that afternoon.

More swimming!

Avery looks like he's wearing a tutu.

Shark in the pool! Aaaahhhhh!!

Shannon would have had them toss them into the pool until they were exhausted had we not left to eat dinner. These are some friends who go to church with us.

Dining al fresco!

I took a few pictures of a horseback riding class from last week. If anyone is wondering how I spent every summer of college, this is it!

Teaching kids to ride while getting dusted. I've yet to work in a non-dusty riding arena. This is Abby, who runs our riding program.

Sarah, my first cousin, who was at camp that week.

Bliss, my riding student from this past year. She got to come to camp for the first time this year.

Here are a few random shots from the opening day's evening game, Multimate Frisbee. (Like Ultimate Frisbee, but with multiple frisbees. A James Himstedt creation.) Camp is divided into two tribes for the purposes of competition and spirit. On the first night they get their tribe if they're new to camp. They are the Awahili who are blue and are represented by an eagle, and the Waya who are red and are represented by a wolf. They have tribal cheers and songs, most of which are truly creative and fun to watch.



Flash explains Multimate Frisbee rules. He's one of the program directors and has been with camp since it's first summer.

Multimate in action!

While the campers play in the evenings the kids and I go to the field to watch. Shannon has really enjoyed riding his (pink) bike all over the place.

He's getting to be a pretty fast little booger.

Avery loves frisbee night. We have to keep him from swiping the ones that are supposed to be in play.

Elizabeth had fun playing with Daddy's glasses.

I did it!

Our fellow camp director Daniel and office manager Rebecca both have dogs that like to watch the evening activities. I got this great shot of Winston trying to convince Lily Belle to play with him.

What's this I spy? An air horn? Goody!

No one's watching...


Shannon hasn't had the first qualm about riding the princess bike, but Darrin who goes to church with us and has been helping us out in the camp kitchen had mercy on him and brought him a bike his son had outgrown. Shannon loves his new cool dude bike.

Wednesday Amelia finally spent some time on the pink bike...

And learned how to ride it!

It's really fun to see your kids accomplishing things. I've been amazed to watch the learning process with reading this year, and watching physical accomplishments is no less amazing. Man, I envy the capacity of a little kid to learn! (And to bounce, when necessary!)

We've had a good week here at camp. This session ends next Friday, then another one-week session follows it, then one more two-week session. After that I'll do two weeks of horseback riding day camp. Call me if you know a kid who would like to come to it, there are still spots left.

Check out what was in the parking lot yesterday:

A fawn! One of our staffers found it bleating in the parking lot yesterday. It was tiny, no more than 3 days old most likely. A lady who lives just down the road rehabilitates wildlife and took her in. She says the doe was most likely gone since fawns will stay hidden by instinct and will only come out when they're extremely hungry.

A few of Amelia's friends were over today and they were discussing the fawn's plight, saying it's mother was probably dead. Avery chimed in, "Yes, she died. She was swimming and went off the board and "died" into the water. Then she was swimming."

He's said some funny things lately. The other day I was tweezing a few stray eyebrows and he said, "Why are you cutting them?" I explained that I was pulling them out, and he said, "You don't like them anymore?"

We passed a large expanse of lawn that was cut so that it had stripes in it, like a golf course. He pointed and yelled, "I see grass letters!"

Shannon cracked me up too, telling our horseback riding director, "I can ride a bike now. And if you have a mom, you can tell her too!"

I love our kids. I'm a blessed woman, that's for sure.

Happy Fathers' Day out there to all of you dads.