The last blog entry of August! And just in time, as it's the last day of August. Can I just ask one more time where all the time is going, and why is it in such a dadblamed hurry?
It occured to me that I forgot to mention a very important occasion that should have been in the last blog entry. If there's not a picture of it I can't remember it! On August 17th James and I celebrated 13 years of marriage. I was thinking on and off that whole day that if someone had told me on my wedding day that 13 years later this would be our life, I would have said, "NO WAY!!!" And then I would have run screaming from the church. JUST KIDDING. I wouldn't trade my life for anything, even on days when I've cleaned up the 163rd spill for the day, or washed the bathroom rug for the 4th time in a week because Avery hasn't quite figured out the art of pointing the plumbing DOWN while on the potty, or any of the other things that happen on any given day. I also would never have believed we would be owners and directors of a camp, especially one as awesome as Strong Rock. I wouldn't have even believed I'd be living in Cleveland. As a kid I spent time with my family traveling from the suburbs to visit relatives in Cleveland, and the thought of living here was appalling to me and my brother. (They only had a Hardees, for crying out loud! Anyone remember the Hardees?)Now I couldn't be convinced to leave. It's rather amazing how both situation and perspective can change in a decade. And I wouldn't want to do any of it with anyone other than James.
We celebrated our anniversary with a nice dinner at Glen Ella Springs in Clarkesville, a historical inn and restaurant. Great place for dinner, if you ever have an occasion for a nice dinner. Thanks for watching the hoodlums, Rebecca! You're a blessing in so many ways, and somehow always willing to babysit, knowing full well what you're getting yourself into.
We started Wednesday night church activities back two Wednesdays ago. James and I are keeping the two year olds (Avery's age group) again, Amelia is in GA's and kids' choir (K-5th grade), and Shannon is in preschool choir and Mission Friends. He's had a breakthrough the past two weeks in choir and is actually SINGING. His teachers are excited. I'm making sure to tell him every week that I don't want to hear about him singing or doing any of the motions to the songs ever again. So far the psychology is working. Thursday we went to the Davidsons for dinner and I stayed late playing some Guitar Hero with the girls. Sometimes you've just got to grab moments for fun when you can, even if you have to stay up past bedtime to do it.
Elizabeth is continuing to work on her personality development. She's also nearly walking. As of a week ago she can stand on her own from a sitting position. She will take a few steps practicing between James and I, but hasn't offered to take any on her own yet. Avery walked the week he was 15 months, maybe she'll do the same. She'll be 15 months next week. I snapped a few pictures of some lunch time sillies last week.
Practicing her mean face. She glared at me for no less than 15 seconds, not even smiling when I was doing silly stuff to get her to laugh.
Ha ha, just kidding!
I captured a small part of a school day on film as well. (I reread that and had to edit it...it's not actually film, I guess, with a digital camera. It's computer memory and pixels and...magic. I think it's probably magic.) Amelia spent a lot of time writing thank you notes for birthday gifts. Language arts, composition, spelling, handwriting, and social studies all in one!
I've also been doing a daily reading lesson with Shannon, using the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book I used with Amelia. He is doing fantastic! I had started it with him last winter but was getting frustrated with the results. So I decided to back off, since there was no real reason for a young four year old to be reading anyway. Now he's really getting it. Don't tell Amelia, but he's actually been easier to teach than she was, and seems to get it faster. You just have to ignore the pogo stick-like bouncing that comes with Shannon trying to sit in a chair for more than two minutes.
He never starts a reading lesson without his coffee. He already bounces anyway...
Seriously, he begs for a cup of coffee every morning when we sit down. So I give him about half a cup of decaf, just like I drink it, creamer, no sugar. It's really a downer for him on days when James and I drink it all.
Technically I guess this would be a red Power Ranger learning to read and drinking coffee.
Teach Your Child to Read also has them practicing their letter writing right away. He's doing well with his writing too.
One day last week while practicing letter writing I got a glimpse of what may become a smart aleck. He wasn't touching both the top and bottom lines while making the circle part of a lowercase "a," so I said, "Okay buddy, next time make sure you touch all of the lines." So the little booger made the circle part, then trailed off of it a line that went straight up the entire length of the paper. I did say touch ALL of the lines, after all. He was laughing. I actually was too, I was wondering which of our kids might share my spiritual gift of sarcasm. Okay, so maybe it's not exactly spiritual...
And now for something cute. Our newest residents at the barn, two miniature horses named Thunder Jack and Co Co.
A friend wants to give them to me, but I don't think I'll have any use for critters this tiny at camp. (Their backs are lower than my waist.) They are extremely friendly but just a tad skittish. I was hoping they would be really calm and that my kids could play with them, but I don't think they've been handled to the degree that would make me comfortable turning my kids loose with them. It wouldn't take much handling to get them nice and quiet, but I just don't have the time.
They are full grown, and Miniature Horses are actually their own breed, having been selectively bred down to this tiny size from full-sized horses. Anybody want them? They don't eat much...:)
Last Saturday we hosted our Sunday School class party here at camp. It was the last weekend the blob was going to be in the water, so we swam, blobbed, ate, canoed, rode bikes, petted ponies, and shot skeet. A lot of kid chasing also went on, as well as some yakking. A fun evening was had by all.
Amelia and Karina W.
Our fearless leader Jay, our Sunday School teacher.
Chris B., who also happens to be competing in his THIRD Ironman competition today. He's a machine.
And now for the evolution of a blob, as demonstrated by almost 8 year old Nix B.
Dad gives the pre-blob pep talk. Looks like he really needs one, doesn't it?
Thankfully his dad didn't blob him or he might have landed in the grass. We strive to keep blobbing weight diffrences to 50 pounds or less, to avoid emotionally and physically scarring children for life.
Someone's best side.
Excellent height and form, I give it a 9.5.
Jason and Deborah W.
Jenny D. and a canoe full of young 'uns.
Alison and Elliott, professional kayakers.
Keith, Alex Anne, and Meg.
A living buoy.
We also trekked about 276 kids (give or take a few) to the barn to pet the minis.
I missed skeet shooting due to horsing around with the kids, so it was too dark for much photo taking of folks and firearms.
Jay our teacher says you know you're in north Georgia when a party's motto is, "Fun, Food, Friends, and Firearms."
Last week was pretty much the usual, now that we're back to the usual. We did have a really fun playgroup Tuesday at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center in Gainesville. I had been wanting to take the kids there all summer.
There was a big shallow play area for little kids.
The oldest two went down these slides more times than I could count. I went down a few times too, and decided that when we can go back without Elizabeth it'll really be a lot of fun. I could have done the slides all day myself.
There's a lazy river that has a whirlpool secion that sends you round and round like a flushing toilet.
And there were some giant dumping buckets.
To make a full day even fuller, we also started gymnastics back that day.
The rest of the week trucked on as usual, with school, church, and trips to the grocery store and Wal-Mart. And the feed store, bank, to the barn each morning, the thrift store (to drop off a load of junk), and the Hicks house to celebrate A.J.'s 4th birthday Thursday night. But I'll spare you the details of where all we've been this week. Wait, I already didn't spare you. Sorry.
Friday morning I left with a group of women from our church for the Women of Faith conference in Atlanta. It was Friday and Saturday, and we spent the night at the Marriott Marquis downtown. It was a fun time with the girls, and we heard lots of encouraging speakers, good music (Steven Curtis Chapman and Mandisa), and I had a night away from life as usual. It was the first time I had left all of the kids at once for that long. James did a terrific job with them Friday and part of Saturday, and my mom came up to relieve him Saturday so he could help with the group we had at camp. I will go again, and will hopefully be able to drag several along with me. Who wants to go?
Today we went to church, and this evening we said goodbye to our pastor of nine years at a reception held in his honor. Our church is in for some exciting times (probably also trying times) as we search for a new senior pastor. God is in control, and it will be fun to see what He has in store.
James took a few pictures of Elizabeth while I was gone.
I was glad to see she was climbing in a basket and not the toilet in my absence! (She loves the toilet.)
I'll be walking soon!
Especially if Dad will lay off giving me the hard stuff in my sippy cup....
We look ahead to a week of the usual, starting in the morning. Maybe you'll hear about it in the next week...or two...or three...whenever I take the time to sit down at my computer again. Seems the time I have to do that isn't what it was since I'm trying to get better about going to bed at a decent hour. Getting up with the chickens every morning seems to be forcing that somewhat. I've fallen asleep in front of this thing more than once lately.
Farewell until next time!