November 30, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving week festivities

I have a lot to post but I'll try to make this one just a brief summary. Next up will be Thanksgiving festivities, but I don't want to forget the party week that lead up to it. This is my record of our life on paper, uh, screen after all. The truth is I'll probably forget most of what happened anyway so it shouldn't be too hard to keep it short.

I'll start with a painting by God. Once I'm brave enough to venture out and take my camera off of the automatic setting I'll probably be able to do stuff like this more justice. By then the knobs will probably have corroded into permanent position.

It was really pretty out before I left for the barn the other morning.


Now to see if I can remember what it was I wanted to summarize for the past few weeks. After James got back from hunting we had a pretty normal week, including a retreat group over the weekend. The boys had their 3 and 5 year check ups. I forgot the five year one included a round of four shots, and had already told Shannon he shouldn't be getting any. Whoops. Avery had to get one too to get him up to date on everything. They also all got the H1N1 vaccine, recommended by our doctor. Thankfully everyone was able to get the FluMist version except for Elizabeth who was too young, and got both kinds of flu shots that day. Fun was had by all. Shannon had grown over three inches, as had Avery, who was also still in the 90th percentile for weight. That explains all the short pants this season.

Three days later I took a very grumpy Elizabeth back to the doctor and had my suspicions of an ear infection confirmed. When my sleep is continuously interrupted for several nights I take it as a sign that we should go see the doctor, no matter how badly I DON'T want to make the haul to Gainesville. (It's only 40 minutes, but it feels like forever. Guess I'm not cut out for commuting!) This might be kind of gross, but again it's my blog...with all the cold symptoms that caused the ear infection I've had plenty of opportunities to use the nose sucker with her. She's our only kid that has loved that thing. Everybody else screamed and averted their faces, Elizabeth thinks it's hysterical. She blinks several times, laughs, then grabs it and tries to shove it up her nose. James says she'll probably be our huffer. There's got to be at least one problem child, right?

Since we were already in Gainesville and didn't have anything contagious we stopped by INK to play before heading home. Thus began our party week.

Tuesday morning we had playgroup at our house, crammed in school, and headed off to gymnastics. That night we had dinner with the Davidsons, and Jenny, Rebecca, Amanda and I played Rock Band on the Wii which Jenny had borrowed from a friend. (She had to give it back the next day- I couldn't NOT go.)

Wednesday morning I packed our overnight bags and the kids and I went to Alison's and stayed with A.J. and Tozer while she got her hair cut. After lunch we headed to McDonough. The kids stayed with my dad and Nanny while my mom and I went to what turned out to be the best show I've ever seen. Mom and I got VIP tickets to Cavalia which was playing in Atlanta. It's a combination of Cirque du Soleil and horses, which I have decided I would watch every single day if I that were possible. We were treated very well as VIP's. I learned it either means you actually ARE an important or famous person and are therefore treated well, or that you can buy special treatment as a Very Increased Payer. The whole thing is in humongous tents, including stabling for nearly 60 horses. We were privy to a nice lounge with hors d'ouvres, drinks, and desserts, awesome seating, and a tour of the barn. The show itself was amazing, and included incredible technical effects and music, phenomenal acrobats, and a two hour line up of all kinds of riding and horses performing at liberty. There were people flying around on wires, dressage, trick riding, Roman riding (standing on two horses' backs), jumping, and tons of other things. I can't decide which part I liked the best. You can Google Cavalia for more details. I'd love to post pictures but they wouldn't let us take any. I do have this one though.

A record of my mom and I escaping for a night on the town, just the two of us. It was time well spent!

Thursday we got back in time for me to head out for a Girls' Night Out baby shower for a girl in our Sunday School class. Yay for more partying!

Friday James left for a manly weekend of camping and Jeep four wheeling near Chattanooga, TN. He took Shannon with him, and Shannon got to enjoy his first camping trip. He can't wait to do it again. Here are a few pictures of the weekend, but you'll have to get out your magnifying glass. One of the guys on the trip took them and sent them in a tiny resolution, so do your best! (James, could you please send me the ones you took with your phone? Thank you.) :)

For the sake of posterity I included one you can't see anyone in but it reminds me to record who went. Chad K., Nathan W., Curtis D., Bennett D., James, and Shannon. The midgets.

James and Shannon and the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

While the guys were gone I lead a trail ride for a college group. Then the three kids and I headed to Ingles and grabbed a pizza and a movie. I took a few pictures of Amelia's latest accomplishment, which is riding her bike. We got her a bike after her birthday, but she was scared to ride it because it's a little tall for her. Now she's got it, and is becoming quite a proficient bike rider. She even got a new helmet since the old one was getting too small.

Avery loves leaf piles.

Sunday morning we were greeted by the sound of a torrential downpour, making it tons o' fun to get to church. Some days it would be nice to have a two car garage. This was one of those blow the umbrella away days. James and Shannon were going to meet us at church in time to leave for McDonough (again) for our yearly pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner at Granny and Pa Pa's house. One rockslide in the road and an hour later they made it, and we headed down without incident. It was a nice afternoon spent with family, in spite of the fact that no one could go outside to play. Granny and Pa Pa's house was less crowded back in the day when all of us cousins didn't have 1-4 kids apiece.

We got home Sunday night and got ready to greet James' folks who were arriving from Texas Monday mid-morning.

And that's where the next post begins! Huh, turns out this wasn't so brief after all. Hope you skipped all the boring parts.

PS- Amelia was listening to us talking with my dad at the table the other evening. James was telling him about a chicken dish we're serving in the dining hall now, and was describing how instead of ordering the chicken already breaded we, "put the coating on ourselves." Amelia got a twinkle in her eye, made the proper pseudo-confused face and said, "You put the coating on YOURSELF? Why?" The art of the witty response is beginning to take shape. I am proud.

November 9, 2009

Costumes and critters

Trick or treating this year happened under umbrellas. Last Saturday the kids and I met friends at the Jennings house in the Windmill subdivision beside the church. James was busy with another group here at camp, so he missed the soggy fun. I was supposed to guide a trail ride for that group earlier in the day but they wimped out with the rain. We did our best to stay dry under umbrellas, except for Avery who for some reason couldn't figure out how to share an umbrella the size of the Georgia Dome with Amelia. At least it wasn't too cold. I took the camera to get pictures of the kids trick or treating but decided not to drag it out in the rain. The only pictures I got all evening were right before we left the house.

The cheerleader/princess/cowboys-with-extra-large-hats crew.

Avery didn't wear the hat except for the picture and Shannon didn't wear his hat trick or treating either and added a grey hoodie to the outfit, so we had less than stellar cowboys. And after I had gone to such great lengths too.

Amelia perused the dress ups and thought it would be fun to be a cheerleader. I found a princess outfit that Amelia never got to wear in some things I was going through earlier in the week, so voila, a Halloween costume for Elizabeth. She wouldn't wear her hat either.

After trick or treating we headed up to the church for the Fall Family Festival. They had it indoors because of the weather and I hope they do it that way from now on. It was great being able to keep up with the kids easily, and Elizabeth could run around. It's a lot of work to keep up with them outdoors by myself in the dark. I always feel like a lifeguard, constantly counting heads and not able to have a conversation with anyone very well.

A mere 12 hours after arriving home we were back at church because Shannon's preschool choir was singing in the morning services. All last year he spent each week in choir and during any performance NOT singing. We've had a turnaround somehow and he participates each week now, and enjoys it. I witnessed a relapse during the first service where he just stood there, mostly frowing. I tried to get pictures but he was standing on the back row, behind a rather large bow in the hair of the one in front of him. The second service saw him bounce back the other way and enthusiastically participate. My angle was no better this time.
The two hands on the back row pointing up are Shannon's! He has no head. This is the best picture I got.

Tuesday of last week we had a fun playgroup. A local lady has had a zoo-to-you business for about 10 years and keeps a large variety of animals at her place for educational programs, nativity scenes, birthday parties, you name it. Just a few weeks ago she opened her place as a petting zoo as well. It's only about three miles from our house, and the kids had a blast.

There were lots of goats.

The kids could go in the pens with all kinds of critters. Shannon really enjoyed the baby pot bellied pigs. There were even some that were only two days old.

He chased pigs for at least an hour.

It's a little hard to tell what kind of critter Amelia is after here. It's one of those crazy haired chickens with fluffy feathers all over it.

Amelia and Meg, goat herders.

There was also a large tortoise, and he was pretty cool. Avery taught him a trick.

"Look, he's going through my legs!"

Good job, buddy.

Amelia asks me about every other day when we can get a rabbit, so she thought this one was pretty fun.

There were all manner of llamas and alpacas, burros, yaks, sheep, and ponies.

I thought this part was the most interesting. We got to ride a cart over to the camels and got to feed one. This one's name is Micah, and he had a smaller friend named Obadiah. They said the camels are already booked through the entire holiday season for nativity scenes.

He was a large dude.

Turns out camels don't really spit all that often, and you really have to rile them up to make them do it. Llamas and alpacas, on the other hand, are more easily irritated. Thankfully we didn't have to find out the hard way.

A few of the kids in our group took a pony ride.

Good thing this was a long carrot! This guy was friendly.

Carrots are good, but does he not realize that just inches from him right now is some BACON?

Wednesday night after church James, my dad, and two friends from church left for a week of hunting in Missouri. They drove all night to get there. They're due to arrive home tomorrow night. Unfortunately it's been a warm week in Missouri so it hasn't been the greatest for hunting, but they've had a really good time anyway. Somehow it's been a pretty quick week even with him gone, though we miss him!

Thursday night several friends met in Dawsonville and took dinner to Sara and Josh M. and went to see new baby Ansley. What a cutie! The kids enjoyed some playground time at the Dawsonville outlet mall and at Chick-Fil-A.

Friday Mom came up to stay for a few days since Dad was gone with James. Saturday evening the kids and I headed to Vogel State Park up the road to hang out with some former staffers, campers, and friends. They were camping and invited us over for dinner. What a great place to camp! When we get everybody a little bit bigger it will be a blast to take the kids and go camp for a weekend. After Saturday night's brief experience I can see how it would still be a bit nerve wracking yet keeping up with little people in the dark and trying to keep them from playing and standing in the fire. It was great to see friends though, and we had a lot of fun.

Yesterday Mom and I took the kids to the Mall of Georgia just for kicks. We stayed nearly all day. The kids are always amazed at all the stuff a mall has to behold, since our world mostly consists of Wal-Mart, Ingles, or Family Dollar with the occasional Target thrown in on special occasions. The Mall of Georgia has a lot of extras too, like a carosel, play area, and train to ride, mostly courtesy of a certain Grandmom. Mom went home from there and we headed back to Cleveland and had dinner in front of a movie, then hauled out the tent so the kids could camp in the living room. We had a flashlight fire and devotion to end the day. And we didn't see a single mosquito.

Below are few pictures of Elizabeth I took this week. Folks sometimes ask me what I do with her during school time. Here's one of her favorite pastimes.

She likes to do school too.

She can even hold a pencil the right way. She really does watch and learn, and is very observant.

This was before official school started for the morning, and Amelia was teaching her. I heard her say, "Say circle, Elizabeth. That is a circle." Unfortunately right now all Elizabeth mostly says is, "No, no, no, no, no!!" Maybe Amelia can teach her to talk.

Sometimes she stays after it for 30 minutes or more, even moving to the floor when she gets tired of sitting at the table.

Well, I'm out of pictures so goodbye for now. I'm off to listen to it pour rain again all night. We're getting the leftovers from a tropical storm that hit Alabama. I'll always be grateful for the rain after the drought we just came through. God comes through again and gives us what we've all been praying for, pressed down, shaken, and overflowing!