May 24, 2010

Snaggletooth rides again

This post will be light on pictures, though I have a bunch of them to post from the past 2 1/2 weeks.

Friday night just before bedtime Amelia came upstairs with this.

It had been loose for days so James finished it off for her. I remember pullling all of my own teeth, probably before they were really ready because they didn't come in right away. Every tooth Amelia has lost has had the next one already visible and ready to take its place.

This is also the face of a rising second grader, as we finished school for the year last Monday. I will be changing jobs too in the fall, as a second grade AND kindergarten teacher. Possibly also a pre-k teacher, if I can work up the motivation to sit Avery down to learn some stuff. I started the other two on the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book when they were four, which he will be in September...but we'll just have to see how that goes. Maybe we can make some macaroni letter art or something. That may be all he gets!

I just finished a horseback riding certification clinic where I certified seven riding instructors from our camp and three other camps to teach riding this summer. That was Wednesday through Friday, then we had a relatively quiet weekend. Amelia's choir did a musical Sunday which was really cute. (Pictures to come.) Summer is really cranking up now, with a lifeguarding and archery clinic this week, then the entire staff comes in Friday to start a week of staff training. It's funny that most people are winding down their year into summer, we're just getting started with our busy time. Except for the part where we don't get to see James nearly enough I could live camp year 'round and be extremely happy.

I thought I'd use this nearly pictureless blog post to chronicle some of the funny and interesting stuff I've heard around here lately.

First of all is Avery's speech in general. He has spoken extremely clearly for his age since he was 15 months old, but there are still a few words he hasn't quite got right at 3 1/2+. For example, "You're not posed to do that," "I hope we don't have a ballcano like the people in Iceland," "I want a churkey sandwich," "I put rocks in the don't truck (dump truck)," "Me and Shannon have been building chrain chracks for the chrains and chrolleys," and "Are we going to see Mr. Becca? (Ms. Rebecca)?" One of his favorite songs is, "All the Bridges Falling Down." (Sing it to the tune of "London Bridge" and you'll get the idea.)

At Easter we dyed eggs and put them in the refrigerator to eat. One day Avery asked, "Can I have a dydegg?" He said it three times before I finally figured out what he wanted. This week he was eating a Dum Dum lollipop and I asked what flavor it was. It was one of those ones with the question mark on the wrapper and he said, "It's a surprise." Then matter of factly, "Tastes like toothpaste," and calmly kept eating it. I know I sure wanted one after he said that. He and Shannon were what-ffing the other day at the table and he wondered out loud, "What if our house was as high as the ceiling?" Uh...

Elizabeth will be two June 5th (unbelievable!), and has a lot to say these days as well. She uses a lot of words and most of them are pretty clear. We came out of gymnastics last week and heard a dog. Instead of talking about it barking she said, "What's that doggie noise?"

Amelia cracks me up sometimes with the words she uses during pretend play. There's always some saga going on at our house between the kids. I truly don't miss TV, the kids are a great deal more entertaining. One day she and Shannon were married with Avery and Elizabeth as kids. Apparently the mother had died-(I will always wonder why they constantly incorporate that into story lines- maybe I don't want to know!)- and she was the new wife and stepmother. I heard her say to the "kids," "Hurry and get to the table! Your father is almost home and I'll be fired!"

Shannon's sense of humor is starting to appear as well. Up until recently he's been pretty literal, and found humor mostly in slapstick-style comedy (Three Stooges style stuff), and of course, potty talk. It's fun to see him getting the hang of plays on words and finding humor in homophones. (Google it if you're not up on your grade school grammar- it may not be what you're thinking. :) )

He does still get things wrong sometimes, for instance thinking the book I've been reading aloud to them for several weeks is called, "Wheel House on the Prarie." When I told him it was "Little House" he asked, "Why?"', maybe? "Yes, but why isn't it a wheel house?" Because they didn't build a wheel house, they built a little house. Shannon, what is a wheel house? "I dunno."

Last week he was rhyming words just for the fun of it and I told them I was going to the basement to put in a load of laundry. He rhymed "laundry" with "bondry," and I realized he had just coined a new word for one of my jobs around here. "Bondry" is what happens when you're in bondage to the laundry.

This is the best thing I've heard in weeks though. My folks brought the boys a digging machine of sorts with a seat and levers and a bucket, and a great big pile of pea gravel to go with it. For a reason only Avery knows, he decided it would be a good idea to use the gravel pile as a toilet. (My friend Alison walked out the front door just in time to witness this.) She said, "Avery, I'm pretty sure your mom wouldn't want you doing that." Just then Shannon walked out, took one look, and said, "Avery, they just CALL it pea gravel."


I'll try to get around to posting the rest of the pictures from our gallavating the past few weeks soon. I've got a list of things I'm trying to accomplish before staff week starts on Friday, so hopefully this one won't get kicked to the bottom too many times. Happy summer, everyone!

May 4, 2010

Fieldtrippin' and such

I'm finally picking up where I left off. Imagine it is three weeks ago, the week following Easter. Now we're all in the same week. Thursday of that week I went to pick up the three oldest kids at my mom and dad's. While they were gone their Easter clothes sat on the steps where I laid them to take them upstairs.

So I took a picture. For me, for later.

The kids had a terrific week, of course. They went to the playground, hung out at Nanny's house, saw the laser show at Stone Mountain, and probably got pretty much anything they asked for all week long. I didn't ask for details. I'm glad they got to have a fun spring break at Grandmom and Grandad's. I have such wonderful memories of times with my grandparents, and I think it's really important for them to forge strong bonds with folks who love them so much. And give them anything they want. (Amelia actually told me that if they went to live with Grandmommy and Grandad they would be spoiled a lot. I reassured them that it wouldn't be that way if they were there all the time!) Maybe. I had previously made plans with my sister-in-law Lisa to head up to Marietta to hang out with her and the girls and play for the day. So Friday we got up and headed to their stomping grounds on north side of Atlanta. We met them at one of the most fun places to play I've been to in awhile. It's a gymnastics school that opens their room o' gymnastic equipment for free play. I definetely had as much fun as the kids did.

There was a giant pit filled with foam pieces.

You could jump into it, slide into it, spring off of a trampoline into it, and bury yourself in it. And you could definetely get a workout getting out of it.

And there was a rope you could drop off of into too.

Shannon found a creative way to get into the pit. It's hard to see, but he's rolling down a ramp in a cylinder.

Splash! Boing, actually. Elizabeth knocked herself out on the trampolines. Seriously, she just about did. I tried to save her more than once when other kids got to bouncing her around and she cried and pitched a fit at my rescue efforts, so I let her take a pounding. There were several trampolines that were level with the ground, that bounced down into pits below ground level. If there hadn't been so many pesky kids there that day I could have had some real fun.


Lisa said she came here when she was pregnant with Reagan, got into the foam pit, and nearly didn't get out. It really wasn't easy, and I can only imagine the helpless beached whale feeling she must have had while pregnant!

Avery wasn't too sure about it at first, but once he warmed up to the idea of landing on foam blocks I couldn't get him out.

We headed to Lisa and Jonathan's after playing, and put the littlest ones down for naps. The kids and I ended up staying the night. Jonathan and Lisa have some season tickets to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and had been planning to go that night for some time. Their babysitter backed out at the last minute, so us staying worked out great. James was on an overnight jaunt to Orlando for a camp fair anyway, so all we had to go back to was an empty house. After naps we played in the backyard.

Reagan, Avery, and Elizabeth, who insisted on being a big girl and swinging on the big kid swing.

Jordan, my sweet niece who will be a big three year old in July.

And then there's this:

I seem to be racking up quite a few of pictures of this facial expression lately. Everyone needs a talent.

I had a fun evening with the gang. Had they realized I was outnumbered six to one there could have been mutiny, but thankfully they were too busy playing to notice. Elizabeth was the troublemaker, as she hasn't slept in a room with the crowd since she was too small to remember. We usually put her in a bathroom or closet or somewhere equally as appealing, so eveyone is out of her eyesight. She thought it was great fun to be able to see her siblings, and stood up and yelled about it for awhile. The next morning we had breakfast and then took the young 'uns to a nearby park to play. There's definetely a trade off for living in a trafficky area where you stop at lights a lot, wait for cars to go, and see people at every turn. It's called Fun Stuff To Do Within A Five Mile Radius of Home.

Reagan and Jonathan. She loves her Daddy.

How many pictures do I have that are nearly identical to this one?


Avery and Shannon spent nearly half an hour in, beside, and under this car, discussing how to best go about fixing it. I didn't have the heart to tell them it wouldn't run because it didn't have a motor.

And then Uncle Jon got a workout.

Run, Forrest, Run!

All you can do when a five or six year old is chasing you is either A) play dead and hope they go away, or B) call the spot of earth you're standing on "base" and hope they buy it.

We headed home Saturday afternoon, then had a pleasant Sunday. I got to ride, then Amelia and her friend Hannah had a riding lesson. Hannah's mom told me after we got back that Elizabeth had thrown up, and she ended up bathing her and changing her clothes. Now THAT'S a friend. We both thought it was weird, maybe she just got too hot. Nope. Monday night I started feeling like ca ca. Symptoms weren't bad though, and it was definetely manageable, I was just wiped out and didn't have a good appetite. (No, I'm not expecting!!) Elizabeth seemed to be feeling just fine. So off to playgroup we went. Tuesday night a teeny tiny circus came to Cleveland, so we made plans to go.

There were a few extra events outside you could give them more money to do. So of course we said, no, like any good parents of four kids.

They enjoyed watching the camel ride though, especially Elizabeth.

For a small circus there was still some cool stuff.

This is the last picture because then my camera died. This picture of Shannon in no way indicates what's coming before the end of the evening.

Halfway through he starts saying he's not feeling well (I could still relate at this point, I still wasn't feeling 100% either), and lays his head down. Nearly at the end he BARFS ON HIS DAD!! James would rather be chased and cornered by ravenous wolves than be anywhere near vomit, so he was quite the trooper. It was pretty dark in the tent, so I missed the gagging that ensued (he assured me that was part of it), but I did hear his desperate pleas for help. Thankfully I had refilled the baby wipes in Elizabeth's bag, but there wasn't much I could do since I had her in my lap and we were several feet off the ground on a set of homemade bleachers with no foot rest. It was also fortunate that there was only grass underneath us.

A few short hours after everyone was in bed, Avery graces me with a 1 AM double whammy. Thankfully that's all he did until FRIDAY, for which I will ignore the fact that you probably don't want to know anymore about our virus and press on to tell about in a few minutes. We stayed home until Friday, and only Shannon seemed to continue to be affected by it. I didn't feel like myself again until Saturday, though I continued to live life as though I didn't feel yucky. The thing skipped Amelia and James altogether, thankfully.

Friday morning our friends the Sumptions met us at the house. We did some artful arranging of booster and car seats to get their two kids into our Expedition so we could all head off on a field trip. We went over the mountain and up to Young Harris College, almost an hour north of camp, for a show at their planetarium. I thought we were in the clear as far as the virus was concerned, but Avery's stomach thought otherwise. Either that or it didn't care for the curvy mountain road. Without warning he filled his lap and car seat with what used to be breakfast. (One euphemism for this that sticks with me from childhood is "technicolor yawn.") Anyway, that's what happened and I pondered how the rest of the morning would go down, as I had only prepared for an accident that required new shorts and undies, not a shirt also (dumb me), and we were already cutting it close on time. I told Tamara that every small town has a Dollar General, so I should be okay to clothe and clean him up if she could take the two oldest kids in with her to the show. Right on cue, we passed the Dollar General. I really will spare you the rest of the details. Let's just say I was occupied for some time and missed the beginning of the show, but thankfully they let us in late. No problems after that, we went on to have a successful afternoon, including a picnic which he heartily took part in. I was scared to let him, but he was hungry.

The show was awesome, and we'll definetely be planning to visit there again in the future. After the show we walked down the road to a city park and enjoyed some playtime and lunch. The kids made a friend at the park.

Avery and his new shirt.

Amelia and Sarah.

Shannon, the butterfly whisperer.

It really is a wonder they didn't kill it. Every kid at the park held it at least twice. A field trip bonus- not only did they learn about astronomy, but got a little biology in too.

The big butterfly handoff. For the 32nd time.

Saturday of that week I had arranged a barn work day with several kids that had been to my horseback riding day camp in the past. They came and cleaned saddles and bridles, the tack room, the horses, and of course got in some riding. It was a (mostly) productive day and was fun. Amelia and Shannon stayed all day at the barn with me and had a good time. I thought it was a good sign that they could be at the barn for nearly nine straight hours and not complain about wanting to leave. I might have some fellow horse folk in this family after all.

Sunday James sang with Shannon's choir. I will attempt to post the video at the end of this entry. If it's successful I'll do a little victory dance. It's the small accomplishments in life that keep it exciting, and putting video on my blog is uncharted territory for me. Shannon has steadfastly refused to sing with his choir on stage every time they perform, usually accompanying his firm stance on the issue with folded arms and a scowl. I've been telling him for nearly two years that Daddy loves to sing on stage. Now he believes it since he's seen it for himself, and he not only partipated but declared that from now on he would sing, and that it was fun. Daddies, never underestimate the influence you have on your little people's lives!

We are officially down to only ten days of school now to meet this year's requirements. During the endless cold months it seemed like school would go on forever, but now it's hard to believe we've nearly got a second grader! And a kindergartner too. I've got all summer to figure out how to balance teaching two kids at once.

Part of this year's schooling has included piano lessons. I not only teach reading, writing, RIDING, and 'rithmetic, I also teach beginning piano. Apparently. I took around nine or ten years of piano when I was a kid, admittedly kicking and screaming through the latter years of it, but am extremely grateful my folks had the foresight to make me stick with it. I've shamefully squandered my abilities for a lot of years and now play more like someone who took has only had piano lessons for about six months. I didn't play at all through college, and that set the stage for a whole lot of slackness over the years. But I can read music, and feel confident enough to save us a few years' worth of paying someone else. I figure I can get the oldest two through another year or two at least, just in time to introduce it to Avery and turn them over to someone more skilled than myself. I've always told myself that's when I'll start taking lessons again too, since I am a lot more likely to practice if I know someone is going to listen to me the next week.

A few shots of the musicians in action:

Not sure what's up with homey's hat.

My Aunt Jackie (who taught me piano for at least six years and now teaches piano classes at Strong Rock School) suggested a series of books to start them on, Music for Little Mozarts. I've found it really easy to use, and it follows a fun story line through each book. They are learning a lot of things at the same time- key and time signatures, type of notes, as well as note names and locations on both the bass and treble clefs. I've always read that learning to play an instrument enhances reading skills, and now I can see why.

Amelia likes to practice on her own as well. She's become quite good at "Chopsticks," which I taught her just for fun. I guess "Heart and Soul" is next. Ever notice how many people who can't read a lick of music or play the piano know how to play Heart and Soul? I've always thought that was weird. It's not even that great of a song.

When someone's concentrating in pictures it always looks like they're miserable.

And now because I don't have any blackmail pictures of the youngest yet, I post this scandalous photo.

Out of the bath, into the boots.

Okay, here's where I attempted to load the preschool choir video. It pretended like it was loading, messed up all the spacing in this post, then posted "FAILED" in big letters for me. So I fixed all the spacing, picked up my frail ego, and decided to try it in another post. I don't trust it not to mess up my spacing again. Failure I can handle, fixing all that spacing again, not so much. I'm off to try it again!

Until next time, au revoir, ciao, adios, ees-ay a-yay ater-lay!

Shannon's preschool choir

Yay! I am doing a victory dance now, as the video decided to load after all. I'm not a failure! Look how cute Shannon is while James is singing.