September 19, 2009

A new obsession

I snapped a few photos of Elizabeth yesterday demonstrating her newest passion.

I couldn't get this kid to take a pacifier as a baby. It would have been great to pop one in whenever she was fussy, or have something to give her when we were away from home to signal it was naptime. She spent a lot of time spitting it out, so I gave up on it. She much preferred her own fingers to something plastic.

I went through a lot of stuff in my search for items to take to today's garage sale, and came across several pacifiers that hadn't seen use since Shannon was two. (Avery never took one either.) I had been getting word from nursery workers at church that Elizabeth had been stealing other kids' passies. When I set the basket I found with the passies in it on the floor in Elizabeth's room she toddled over, sat down, and started laughing with glee.

Then she put one in her mouth, two in each hand, and wandered around the house like that for the next hour. Today I had to hide them because she started crying whenever she saw one she couldn't get to. She's at the age now that I always tried to start weaning the others, so I don't want her developing an addiction now. I'd much rather her learn to talk.

But she is really cute!

We've had a week of accomplishments around here. Thursday is the first official day Elizabeth started walking for real. She had been toddling around for about two weeks, but Thursday was the first day she immediately got up everytime she fell. I guess the days of the butt scoot are over. (Sniff. She's growing up!) She also cut two molars this week. Maybe that helps account for the recent passy passion.

Before I forget I want to record some Averyisms from the last week.

Because he is still not a terribly coordinated eater, we put a bib on him most meals. He turned it around backwards and said, "I'm super hero costume guy!" Wonder what Costume Guy's super powers are...

He got down from the table with it on another day, turned it around again, pointed one finger to the sky and put his other hand on his hip and announced, "Super Avery's going to the bathroom!"

A couple of mornings ago I put his breakfast in front of him and he looked at me and said in a serious voice, "Why do we have toast and eggs and no green beans?"

His version of the alphabet song is fun too, "A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, J, L, N, M, O, P, T, R, S, C, U, P, W, S, why, and Z." Close.

Now that he's potty trained life has been one step easier for me. It's also provided some comic relief since he doesn't yet get how to put on his underwear and pants or even that he SHOULD put on his underwear and pants. He came around the corner stark naked from the waist down the other day and said, "Look who's here! It's Avery!" A perfect example of naked and unashamed.

The best part of potty training has been his running commentary of what's going on while on the toilet. I will spare you the details, but any mom of a two year old with an unfettered tongue can probably guess how hilarious it can be. He enjoys kicking off his clothing while sitting on the potty, and shot his undewear across the room the other day. In usual commentator style he said, "That underwear says, 'Wheeee!!!'"

While keeping the two year olds Wednesday night, Avery came up to me, pointed at a little girl standing next to me, and said, "Who is she the heck?"

Avery will be three on Wednesday. He's also growing up. (Sniff.)

Occasionally Shannon mixes up phrases too. The other day he was discussing something funny with Amelia and said, "That cracked my head off!"

Shannon will be five in three weeks. (Sniff.)

And I now leave you with the news that we made $67 at the garage sale today. We're rich, we're rich! And we still have left an infant car seat, exersaucer, double stroller (which admittedly was given to us and doesn't turn very well), bouncy seat, large dog cage, and a few other assorted items which will be doing some more time in the basement. If someone has need of any of it, let us know! It was a big personal step for me to be willing to let the baby stuff go. For a flexible person I have a hard time with change when it comes to the big things in life. (Probably hard to believe coming from someone who added four kids to life in five years. Somehow that was easy. Letting it go, that's hard.)

Enough from me before I confess too much. Going to get some ZZZ's so I can stay awake in church tomorrow! We like to sit near the front so head nodding is kind of embarrassing.

September 16, 2009

Corie's Mega Post #95 or so

I always wait long enough between posts that it takes 15 minutes of your time just to read it.

We've had a fun few weeks since I last blogged. I remember thinking right after school started back in our county that we have had a remarkably illness free summer, and that our turn had to be coming before long. It doesn't matter if you homeschool or not, if your kids have friends they're going to get sick. (A sign that perhaps our kids won't be raised in total unsocialized isolation- they have germs, therefore they have friends!) Nearly one whole week was consumed with illness. Amelia started with a plain old cold, and two days later Avery came down with croup. Croup with Avery is scary. For a big guy he must have a little airway. This time instead of waiting to get help until he was in need of hospitalization (like last February)I called the doctor's after hours line at the first serious gasp. They called in a prescription for prednisone and James returned from Gainesville at midnight with it. The law for croup is that it may only strike after dark, when everything is closed. If it's on a Friday night, even better. Thankfully that got it under control, and I even had a little left over for Elizabeth when three days later she couldn't breathe one night and hacked and coughed the croupy cough for hours. Then Shannon either got it or some kind of similar respiratory thingy complete with coughing, though not nearly as scary as Avery or Elizabeth's versions. I think we've been thoroughly initiated into School Year 2009-2010, so I'm content to stay well for the rest of the year now.

The morning after Avery's croup attack James headed out with Amelia and Shannon to a dove shoot south of Atlanta. They had a fun day with Daddy and learned something about doves, both alive and dead. James said they carried around a couple of dead birds for awhile. James also had the chance to promote camp while he was there. They got back about 11:00 that night, tired but happy.

Getting ready to head out.

Seeing them all camoed up makes a mother proud!

Avery, Elizabeth and I went to the doctor's office that morning to follow up on the called in prescription and make sure he was okay, which he was. I may well have used an entire bottle of hand sanitizer on the two of them and myself before leaving the office, just in case something even nastier was lurking there. I've wondered if having them drink the hand sanitizer would kill whatever they may breathe in while around contagious people in the waiting room, but I hear that is probably not recommended.

Aside from the illness striking our home, the weeks have flowed pretty normally. Normal for around here, anyway. Week before last I made my annual trek to J.P. Nix Primary School in town with a couple of horses for their farm week unit. I always enjoy talking to the first graders about horses. Amelia and Shannon went with me this time, along with Romeo and Onyx, and all were well behaved. I couldn't figure out a way to manage horses and a camera at the same time, so I have no pictures to prove I was there.

Other snippets from our weeks include gymnastics, trips to the store, church, trips to the library, dinner here and at Rebecca's, and school work. Shannon is doing well with his reading lessons, and is on Lesson 27 of 100 in our book, so we're a quarter of the way to having another independent reader. Amelia is continuing to get better at reading and writing, understanding how word endings work, spelling, U.S. geography, nature, and addition including memorizing addition facts (so far, 1's, 2's, and 9's). We've also started piano, though I'm finding my own piano skills to be quite rusty. It's embarrassing that I can't even play some of the teacher accompaniments that go with their beginner two note songs worth a darn! I'm having fun teaching them, and truthfully am enjoying learning things I didn't get the first time around. I didn't think I needed to repeat first grade until getting into some of the things I'm teaching her. Grandma Lee sent us a terrific GIANT world atlas and I've probably gotten more out of consulting it for information than Amelia has at this point. (Thanks Grandma Lee!) Why don't American schools do a better job of teaching geography? No wonder folks from other countries think Americans are so self-centered. We can't even find most of their countries on a map...or even some of our own states, for that matter. Or am I just speaking for myself? (Seriously, I had a friend in college who one day had a revelation. "Whoa, Alaska isn't an island? That's how they always show it on U.S. maps, I had no idea!")

It's also fun when you can get away with making play dough as part of your school day. Last Friday we got out the measuring cups (math) and made some play dough, which required lots of manual dexterity and strength for kneading (physical education), as well as an eye for color and creativity (art).

It was getting close to lunch time and Elizabeth thought she was getting left out of something yummy. They did all have bowls, after all.


I know it's up there, why do you keep saying no?

I said I want some right now!!!

So I put her in her chair and gave her a big old glob of play dough to eat. Just kidding, we had real lunch. The cream of tartar in the play dough recipe gives it a questionable smell. I do have a recipe that adds flavorings (peppermint, etc.) to it but thought that might be asking for it.

Friday night we down to Strong Rock school to sponsor that night's football game. Camp did, that is. James and Daniel set up a booth and had kids register to participate in the half time contest to win a camp tuition.

Grandad and Elizabeth

The school has a band but it isn't big enough to march yet, so they currently have a pep band. Several students play in it but it's also open to most anyone who would like to participate. Several family members were there, as well as members of my Uncle Danny's church orchestra. I saw several people I knew, of all ages. It was cool. I think they might have been able to march an "S" for Strong Rock, maybe also an "R."

My cousin Sarah (waving).

Uncle Danny

My cousin Jesse doing his best deer-in-the-headlights impression.

Cheerleaders, duh. (Guess not everything needs a label.) Not to offend anyone, but can someone explain cheerleading to me? I'm afraid I've never understood it. No one cheers more because cheerlearders are there. And why are they the popular ones? Perhaps I'm still bitter about the double standard my high school set. No one could wear shorts more than three inches above the knee, and we're measuring by golly, but on Fridays cheerleaders can wear their uniforms all day at school. Oh, those are BLOOMERS under the skirt, why didn't you tell me before? I just thought they looked enough like panties to be...panties. I was mistaken in my thought that bloomers were giant balloon-like yards of fabric worn in poufed out fashion from the waist to the knee. (**If either of you two who read this blog were/are cheerleaders, no malice intended. But perhaps you would be best to explain the whole darn thing to me?)

The team they played that night was from Albany, and happened to be from the school at the church that produced Facing the Giants. They are ranked pretty high in the state but at this point in the game here's what the score board looked like. (Our team is on the left.) It ended up being a blow out, and a proud moment for the SR Patriots.

Yep, this is a football game. That's about all I know. The kids had never been to a football game and had only seen one on TV a time or two. Shannon asked me what all the numbers on the field were for, so being the expert I am I said, "They're part of the game. Ask your dad if you want to know more." Our kids call their play footballs at home "flit balls." Go ahead and gasp, friends who are reading this that spend 18 hours or more on football fields every week. :)

Strong Rock fans in Strong Rock stands. (My forte is poetry, not football.)

The half time entertainment consisted of five kids, who were picked to participate in the game we brought by giving us their information beforehand. So we can put them on a mailing list. Anyway, they lined up and ran to the side of the field where they put on and picked up some camp gear.

Shorts, life jackets, climbing helmets,frisbees, flashlights, canoe paddles, and back packs.

Unfortunately the winner forgot his backpack. So he wasn't really the winner after all. James and the guys also threw t-shirts and promotional "rocks" (foamy material shaped like a rock with our info on it)into the stands. We stoned the fans.

We got back to my folks' house with tired kids in tow around 11:00. The next day the unheard of happened. James and I spent a good part of the day together. JUST US. The kids stayed with Mom and Dad and we went to Atlantic Station in Atlanta to see the Bodies exhibit and Dialog in the Dark. Bodies is a tour of preserved humans (Taxidermied? Maybe that's not the right word...)in all stages of disassembly and reassembly so you can take an in-depth look at how the body works. Very interesting, and somehow not that creepy since you can talk yourself into thinking they're not real. The only part that weirded me out a little was the case with individual limbs in it. All in all it was fascinating and a terrific reminder of how awesome God is.

Dialog in the Dark was worth doing for sure. It's several rooms a guide takes you through in complete darkness to simulate what it's like to be blind. They give you a cane, and you even have to leave cell phones, watches with light up faces, and anything else that can light up in a locker outside the exhibit. What made the experience is that your guide is vision impaired. James and I had our own guide, and he was very good and answered tons of questions for us. At the end we got to chat about the whole experience with him. It was really sobering, and gave us a lot to think about. He asked us if we'd rather be blind or deaf, and I had to think about it. I think it would be harder to be blind because so many of the things I deeply enjoy are active- horseback riding, riding four wheelers, hiking, skiing, etc., and those would be nearly impossible if you were blind. It would be very hard going through life without seeing the people I love. At the same time being deaf would isolate you, and I also enjoy people and social activities. I left grateful for what I have.

We also went to Ikea, since we had never been, and so many people love it so much. Did you know that you will walk approximately 32 miles while you're in that store, as they hide the exit so you will have to walk past every single thing they sell in order to get out? We didn't see anything we couldn't live without, so after two false starts we finally found the exit. It was an enjoyable day, and we agreed that we need a lot more of them.

We drove back to Cleveland Saturday evening and I had a marathon day at church on Sunday. Sunday school, church, then a homeschool luncheon, then Sara M.'s baby shower. Sara has become a buddy over the past few years of spending Thursday nights together, and she and Josh are expecting their first baby girl (Ansley) in October. Here's Sara back in June when Ansley was smaller and taking up less of Sara's personal space.

Sara is one of those lucky tall people who have a lot of room for baby carrying, so she doesn't look a whole lot different even now a month from D-Day. I think Sara is 6'7, or something like that. Maybe it's just my perspective from 5'5. Anyway, she is very cute and her shower was fun and she got a lot of nice things. James took the youngest three home after the luncheon, and Amelia stayed with me through the shower. She and her friends were funny ooohing and aaahing over the baby stuff.

Sunday evening we scarfed down some sandwiches and then headed over to Unicoi State Park as a family. There's a nice walking trail around the lake suitable for jogging stroller use, so we took a fun walk and spent some time together.

Ready to roll.

A typical Avery face when something isn't going his way. Thankfully it was short lived, since this is at the very beginning of our walk.

It's just starting to think about looking like fall here in north Georgia.

We've had some SERIOUS rain this week, which usually leads to pretty fall colors. When it's dry in the fall the leaves usually just turn brown and boringly fall off without ceremony.

I was attempting to capture the size and grandeur of the white pine tree behind the kids. Shannon kind of ruined the effect by strangling his siblings. Look happy about it, don't they?

The rest of the week has been pretty unexciting, just the usual stuff. Thursday night was fun and I got to play Waffle House cook at the stove making omelets. I forgot to holler "Welcome to the Himstedt House!," and I couldn't find my Bubba teeth either.

This afternoon I rounded up about a ton and a half of crapola from the basement and closets to add to our friends' garage sale. The Knotts have been kind enough to let us join their garage sale effort. The statement has now officially been made that we are done contributing to Earth's population. This evening we hauled over the baby swing, saucer, bouncy seat, baby monitor, and other similar items in hopes of them finding a new home tomorrow. I'll admit I had mixed feelings about it, as those items have been such a part of our lives for the past six years, and getting rid of them signals the end of an era. But it also signals the beginning of an uncluttered basement, which makes us feel happy and free. You may be upset to learn that you're missing out on a chance at a Christmas tree shaped glass plate with pastel angels, stars, and flowers on it though. If so, show up tomorrow for the garage sale and it can be yours. Or a coffee maker with no coffee pot. (We'll give you that one for free.) Or we might just come home with all of our junk if we can't talk anyone into buying it or carrying it off at no charge, then you can peruse the recluttered basement!


September 1, 2009

And another thing (or two)

When I posted the last blog entry I mentally went through the list of things we had done since the one before it. I couldn't for the life of me think of what we were doing two Sundays ago, so I chalked it up to it being a boring day, unworthy of photography or comments of any kind. Or it could just be that I didn't put the photos in a place where I could find them to post. It might be that we left after church, traveled nearly two hours to my aunt's house in McDonough, spent all afternoon, and then traveled nearly two hours home. Clearly it would be easy to forget doing that, since packing up four kids for an afternoon away from home (that involves extra clothes, swimming, and a Pack-N-Play for Elizabeth's nap)is so simple and routine.

Anyway, I did take pictures and since this blog is for me and my memory of how our life went down, here they are. My cousin Adam (who was married the weekend before)was to leave the next Wednesday to begin his Air Force assignment in England, and my Aunt Angela and Uncle John had a going away party for him.

Since I didn't bother taking my camera to the wedding, I figured I could get at least one of Adam and Jessica.

My cousin Brooke and her husband Ben, who are expecting their first child in February.

A couple of gossips.

I mean a couple of lovely ladies, who just happen to be my mom and Aunt Polly.

Pa Pa and Uncle Clarence, brother to Pa Pa and husband to Aunt Polly.

Yes! Another picture of one of the kids in a pool!

My brother Jonathan and niece Jordan.

Cousins (and sisters)on a tube, Gracyn, Bailey, Cody, and Abi.

Amelia and Uncle Jon.

Jonathan had to be sore the next day after tossing kids for half an hour.

Okay, I've yet to figure out how Jordan was able to make the water levitate in a straight line from the cup to her swimmy suit. Jonathan and Lisa, watch her closely....

She dumped water on head for at least 15 minutes straight. I love two year olds!


Here's my cousin Ashley's husband Michael with their sweet baby Caroline.

Here she is!

Lisa and another sweet baby, my niece Reagan.

Safety goggles are important when sitting outside by the pool. There are all kinds of potential optical hazards, such as water droplets from cannonballs, or flying air molecules.

My cousin Gary.

Aunt Angela

Peek a boo! This week Elizabeth is saying boo, but it comes out "bo." Very cute.

And now for the pictures we've all been waiting for....Elizabeth learns to walk! She's not proficient yet, but is starting to take steps. Last Saturday she stood up by herself for the first time, and will now take 2-5 steps between us or to an object. She's good at standing up from a squatting position, then stands with her arms out like she's surfing. I got her all dressed up for the photo shoot. I took these last night right before bedtime.

I'm doing it!

Yep, dressed in her finest attire, complete with a cute hair bow. Some imagination required.

She gets very excited about walking and laughs all the way from point A to B.

I wanted to get more pictures of her actually walking, but she kept throwing herself at me at me and I couldn't sufficiently catch her and hold the camera at the same time.

While Elizabeth practiced walking the rest of the crew had a jam session. Avery was a little dissapointed that he had to play the "stupid guitar" instead of the drums. He likes the word stupid. He mostly gets that objects can be stupid, people cannot. We try to limit the word altogether...even though hearing him say it makes me laugh. Around the corner, back turned, of course.

This face of his makes me laugh too.

I guess getting laughed at by your audience is too much for a rock star to handle.

And now for one more picture, which effectively sums up why I don't let the kids run around outside and in the woods without adult supervision. I took this yesterday afternoon, while Amelia and I were doing school and the others were napping.

I saw him (her?) wandering around just off the porch, looking a bit like he was thinking about giving the golf cart a spin. Or a taste. He ran into the woods when I opened the front door, then stopped about 100 feet from the porch, turned, and stared at me for several seconds. I hissed and made a shooing gesture and he ran off, but circled back around near the house, then went away, most likely to the visit the dumpster behind the Dining Hall. (You gotta hiss, you can't yell when it's naptime.)

James informs me that archery season for bears opens in 11 days. Look out, Gentle Ben, your days may be numbered! James has threatened to have one taxidermied and positioned standing on its hind legs to put just inside the front door of the house. I say we place a menu board between it's front paws and stand it by the Dining Hall entrance. Or better yet, stand it somewhere near the house as a warning to the live bears that may want to visit our porch. Then the kids could play outside without worries.