March 19, 2010

It's been awhile

Oh my gosh, it's been a month since I posted a blog entry! If life would slow down I could get to this every week like I want to instead of every 3 or 4.

We've been about the business of life the past month, as usual. Things are picking up with camp busyness as the summer gets closer. I'm working on hiring two staffers to help run the barn this summer, and we've also been to promotional events at different place. Registrations are coming in, albeit slower then we would like. We have faith that it will get there. We have an Open House Sunday the 21st from 1:30 to 5:30, so come on out if you want to have some fun.

Let's see, what else? A few weeks ago I went to an Extreme Coupon Class, where I began to learn how to save ridiculous amounts of money on groceries. I had determined awhile back that we could forget about college funds, we needed an interest bearing grocery fund to feed all the bottomless pits who live here. It hurts my feelings to plunk down such a large amount every week just to have everybody eat it! (Yes, I realize it's a necessity, but still.) So a sweet lady who has been couponing for about a year taught several of us ladies from church some of her tricks. Grocery shopping is now a bit inconvenient as Publix is one of the best ones to save big bucks at, and our closest one is in Gainesville (40 minutes from here), but I'm figuring out how to make it worth it. Hopefully I'll keep getting better at it. Week before last I spent $87, a considerable savings over most weekly grocery bills. This past week I got there at 8:30 PM (when I could finally leave the house ALONE), and unfortunately still spent A LOT of money...but left with a ton of groceries for that amount. It's all about stocking up when prices are low and you have a lot of coupons, so the following week(s) you don't have to buy those items until they come on sale again. I'm starting to get it. I just hate learning curves, I don't have time for them!

We had a family birthday dinner (many of us have February birthdays on my Dad's side), so the kids and I stayed an extra night and went to Imagine It in Atlanta that Monday. Mom went with us, and Lisa met us there with Jordan and Reagan. We brought a lunch and stayed several hours.

I hauled in my giant camera, ready to take some fun pictures, when I realized the battery was dead. After charging it later to no avail I've finally figured out that it's going to keep on acting ugly and going to force me into buying a new one. (A new battery, not a new camera. It could be worse, I guess! They just don't sell lithium ion batteries at the Family Dollar so I'll have to make a special trip somewhere.) So these pictures are taken with mom's extra slow shutter speed camera. Beggers can't be choosy!

Reagan, now nine months old. And so cute, if I do say so myself.

Big sister Jordan.

Ow, I think I got sthumthing sthuck in my tooth!

Amelia was chosen to "help" with an experiment about the five senses. We had just talked about that in school last week so she was well prepared.

The spazoid Imagine It experiment leader person.

Amelia also got to go up in front of the crowd during a skit they were doing while we were there. She thought that was cool.

Moon sand is cool, its mixed with wax so you can form shapes with it. For half a second I thought it would be fun to have at home...and then I remembered it's still sand, would still go everywhere, and is still hard to clean up. (As Grandmas everywhere roll their eyes.)

We ended up staying an extra night at my folks' house because of a freak snowstorm that hit Cleveland on Tuesday. I was planning to head home that morning but in a matter of hours over four inches of snow had accumulated. Just 100 miles south where I was it was only raining. So I made the best of it and went shopping without kids. I have sung the praises of Ross before, and here it is again- if you have a good one (not a trashy one like the one in Gainesville near us)- GO!!! I didn't buy anything over $9 and left with some great stuff. The wardrobe has been due an update for quite some time.

Something very unusual happened this month. VERY unusual. James and I spent TWO nights away from home WITHOUT children! We were promoting camp at an event in Charleston, SC, and James thought it would be fun for me to tag along and turn it into a getaway for us as well. Out of the goodness of their hearts my parents came up for the weekend and let us escape. Truthfully I didn't know how badly we needed it until we had been gone for a day. It was weird how my brain went on standby. I yawned the entire afternoon and evening of the first day, and James was even asking what was wrong with me. I really think it was my body's reaction to not having to be on duty. When you're with kids 24/7, even when they're asleep, even when the other parent is home, you're on duty. On alert, even. The time spent away was relaxing and fun, and we enjoyed ourselves very much.

Here's the only picture I got the whole time we were gone. James had just gone running.

This is the only one I could eak out of my camera's battery after a four hour charge. This is when I knew for sure I had an uncooperative, undependable, jerk of a battery.

Monday after we got back the kids and I went to story hour at the Helen library. It's right next to the Helen park, where we officially came out of winter hibernation. What a beautiful day! I'm really believing in the power of vitamin D and sunshine. It's incredible how a nice day after weeks on end of clouds and freezing cold weather can change your whole outlook.

Here Elizabeth is telling me she wants her cup, which is over there somewhere. She doesn't want to get down, she wants to "whing," but she wants me to go get it. If I haven't mentioned it before, Elizbeth has learned to talk in the past few weeks. She's putting together phrases, can say everyone in the family's name, gets down on all fours and pretends she's a dog, ("I dog, woof!," she says.), likes to "weed" books, and greets me every morning with "I hungry." In spite of a growing vocabulary she still marks her boundaries with loud squeals when someone gets too close and looks like they might want what she's holding. Real cute.

Amelia and Mallory, a new friend from story hour.

Avery has been setting records lately in slow eating. Some days he'll still be at the table 20 minutes after everyone else is done if we let him.

Surely he realizes we've all been gone from the table for ten minutes by now.

Growing weary of working on his sandwich, he lies down to ponder the impact of slow eating on play ground time.

I finally told him he needed to leave the table if he wanted to play any more before we had to leave. "Okay..."

Now for the highlight of Shannon's day, besides climbing the tree. Man stuff! Workers were replacing a broken slide and he was dying to go watch. He's been a man's man from day one.

No matter that he's never met them. They clearly need his help.

Ever notice how this is the pose men strike when they're either pondering a problem (in the presence of other men) or backing up to a warm wood burning stove? I guess it comes pre-programmed.

They did finally get their problem solved (whatever it was) and replaced the slide. Shannon's day was now complete.

In other news, our Cleveland Zaxby's burned to the ground week before last.

I was not there for the event, but was able to yank a photo off of the White County News site. I was bummed to see the best salads in town go up in smoke, though truthfully we didn't eat there very often. Quite a news week in White County between the freak snow storm, this event, and another fire at a business in Helen. I found a Zaxby's napkin in my car this week but it didn't say "Cleveland" on it. I was going to sell it on eBay.

Last week we had a fun visitor. Papa came to Atlanta on music minister business (a conference) and stayed in Georgia an extra four days just to hang out with us.

And I got almost no pictures the whole four days. I'm crippled without my camera. I must replace that (dumb, stupid, ignorant) battery as soon as possible. We had a great time together, and everytime he got out of Elizabeth's sight she would say, "Where Papa go?" It rained the entire time he was here, but he and James got a few hours of fishing in anyway. We're looking forward to the summer when he and Mimi will both be here for a few weeks.

In addition to language, Elizabeth is increasing in skill in other areas as well. Like the art of undressing. Here's how she greeted me after a nap the other day.

Oops, dropped my diaper! Since these photos she has also learned to take her shirt off.

Hmmm....reminds me of another little girl at EXACTLY the same age.

I found her like this one morning.

Since our coming out of hibernation party at the park we've had some more cold, nasty days. But spring is coming. The daffodils near the front of camp are starting to bloom, I've heard birds during the day and frogs at night, and this week the boys were outside playing and found critters under a rock.

This one was cute, and friendly too.

Beats a snake anyday! Or a bear.

Last week's Thursday night dinner was at the Davidsons, and the kids had a Teacher Work Day the next day, so Ruthie and Maggie came home and spent the night with us. The girls had a great time playing. Papa was still here, so he took the boys for a few hours on Friday to Burger King and Walmart. Amelia and Ruth gave themselves makeovers.

Or maybe they got in a fist fight. Oh well, they had fun either way.

Shannon spent Saturday night with the Davidsons because Jenny said he had to since he never got to. He declared that dinner at their house was awesome. "The steak was great, but the macaroni and cheese was even better!" It might also have to do with the fact that he was hungry from the work of digging a nearly waist deep hole with Bennett in their yard.

The next day we had a camper reunion planned. We invited our oldest campers to meet us at an ice skating rink in Alpharetta for some hang out time and a chance to talk with them about what could improve camp for older kids. We're still struggling a little to keep our oldest campers coming back (over the age of 14), so we had a chance to chat over pizza after we ice skated. It was a fun afternoon, in spite of the fact that I BUSTED MY REAR first thing! Thankfully that was the only time I fell, though I definetely understood afterward that what Olympians and professional ice skaters do is really, really hard. And they must have some wicked strong ankles.

The gang. Not quite the 53 we invited, but it was a pretty good turnout for a first outside of camp event. We'll do something like it again.

This week we visited the Hall County YMCA with a friend and her kids, and enjoyed a great afternoon of swimming. If it wasn't a 30 mile drive I would join in a heartbeat. I considered bringing the camera but then realized my (idiotic) battery was still broken. That, and I already had lunch stuff, five towels, five swimsuits, a diaper bag, and three floats to carry. Oh yeah, and I had to keep up with four kids. Having the ability to go swim all winter is a tempting thing though, even if it is 30 miles away. Wonder how many times they'll let us in on a guest pass....

I am having spring fever bad right now. I'm in field trip mode big time. Forget sitting down to do school right now, let's get OUT! We do have a few field trips coming up which are scheduled through some local home school groups. This has always been an antsy time of year for me. I remember sitting in class on nice afternoons in college hating that I was stuck indoors when I wanted to be out riding my horse. That was also when the camp bug bit really hard and it was all I could do to wait through the spring and get into another summer of camp. It's still that way.

When I wait a month between blog entries I can't remember a lot of stuff. At least I don't think I can remember it. Maybe I did remember it and I just forgot. Well, if I remember anything else of significance I'll just come back and add it later!

Oh yeah, my dad just got back from India. He was gone over a week, and I can't wait to hear how his trip went. He got to visit the orphanage he and my mom have been supporting. I guess he wasn't able to smuggle me out a kid like I asked, he hasn't called me to pick him or her up yet. Maybe next time.

Goodnight and goodbye.

PS- I remembered something I forgot. Amelia came downstairs dressed as a princess and was in full role play mode. When she was ready to leave the castle/ball/wherever she was, Shannon said he would go get the car. She said, "Princesses never ride in cars. They ride in carriages. Maybe the people in villages have cars, but never a princess. Cars aren't fancy enough." Maybe it's time to stop letting Disney movies suffice as history lessons...