June 27, 2010


It's been way longer than I planned, AGAIN, since my last post. I thought my summer schedule would slow way down and I would find time to do more stuff- like this- but I always forget how much fun it is around here once camp gets going and how much more fun it is to do camp stuff than to stay around the house. My summer to-do list has about two out of forty things marked off of it so far. Not a chance I'll get it all done, at least not while there are things that are so much more fun going on around here.

First session of camp started the first week of June and went wonderfully. It was a one week session, and although they're not my favorite because they're so short, it was a good length to "break in" the new counselors. (Who are great, by the way. We've been blessed with quality folks every summer.)Since then we've had a two-week session and another one-week one. More to follow on that, as we were camp parents for the first time this past week and Amelia was a camper for the first time. I have about 200 pictures to load. So...I hope to get to it before the summer ends!

Another thing that makes this summer so great is that Mimi and Papa (James' folks)have been here from Texas for the past three weeks. Mimi gets her summers off since she's a teacher's aide, and Papa took some vacation and also got some sabbatical time from his job as a music minister. We've really enjoyed them being here. Mimi gets to stay two more weeks!

Now back to where I left off in early June. The boys took swim lessons at a friend's pool the first week of camp. Shannon was probably already doing well enough to skip them (I realized after day one of lessons) but Avery gained enough confidence to swim a small distance by himself.

Miss Valerie and her class, Caitlin (from church, Avery's age), Avery, and Shannon. Valerie works at the YMCA and has been teaching swimming for awhile. She also goes to our church.

Shannon learned to float.

Day One Avery wasn't terribly excited about taking off his float, but cooperated. Days Two and Three he was a holy terror. Amazing carrying on the likes of which I've never heard out of him. So Day Four I got there early and we worked through his issues, and by the time Valerie got there he was good to go.

He's confident to swim to the steps, except for one tiny problem. He can't figure out how to get his head out of the water to breathe until he gets there.

It looks like he's getting his face out of the water, but the nose never makes it. Maybe I should just get him a snorkel.

Amelia swam around the lesson every day just for fun.

In the deep end.


Peace out, dudes.

We made sure to be back for dinner in the dining hall every evening after swim lessons. Pickings are scarce around the house since I haven't been to the grocery store in over a month. (Yay! I love summer!)

A random shot of Benderoo art. If you have kids or grandkids and don't have Benderoos, go get some.

Somebody ate the "l" in Amelia or it walked away, maybe?

Mimi's sister Aunt Sherry came to visit from South Carolina and brought her youngest daughter's son Nolan with her. This is the first time we got to meet him. His parents (James' cousin Christy and her husband Tyler) were on a cruise for their anniversary.

Shannon was dying to give him a ride in the Jeep. I believe this must be just about what James looked like as a little guy. Not that this one was little. What a cutie!

Mimi, Aunt Sherry (who also goes by Mimi), and the grand young'uns.

We've managed to keep up our regular Tuesday play groups, Sunday mornings at church, and Thursday night dinners as the summer has gone on. The kids like outings and seeing their friends, and I love seeing mine too, but I could just about stay at camp 24-7 for eight weeks and be content. Did I mention that I love the summer? It has been fun going to play group at pools and the spray park. We swim in the lake just about every day at camp, but there has been more than one time that I wish someone would donate a nice inground pool. With a heater, so we can use it April through September. And a springy diving board, since that's the best part.

Saturdays during two week sessions are laid back and we take a break from the regular schedule. During the last two week session we had Superhero Olympics. The Himstedt kids enjoy participating in everything they can.

Dropping coins in water to make them land in a cup at the bottom of the bucket.

Awahili and Waya tribes competing to see who can get the tires to the Batmobile the fastest. One kid remarked that the Batmobile must be going muddin' that day. That's what happens when the camp director only has tires off a Jeep for a game. (This is off the subject, but I don't believe I ever mentioned that James is no longer a Jeep owner. He sold it back in the fall to a former camp staffer because he didn't feel like he had the time for it, especially in light of the new fitness/cycling kick. You just can't do it all...though we've been known to try.)

Amelia was a frequent customer at the face painting table.

Elizabeth sat nice and still for a purple heart on her face and hand.

Avery trying to bust a balloon with a dart.

The object of this one was to toss in flame wrapped toilet paper rolls in with accuracy. (Super Hero "on duty," it says.)

And who better for this skill than Captain Underpants himself? He is wearing underwear over his jeans and walked around like that all morning. This is Morgan, my friend and riding program director's son. She was so proud. A fellow camper remarked that she was probably just proud that he was wearing underwear at all!

Superheros in training practice their sparring.

Shannon proudly wears a Jeep on his face.

While Elizabeth's face tries to hold up enormous glasses.

Random shots from the week:

Avery's torilla art at dinner.

Taking a spin with Papa. Elizabeth calls it the "three wheeler," which is funny because we always call it a four wheeler and she doesn't know three wheelers ever existed. She LOVES this thing!

And then one day we found a baby bird behind the dining hall that had fallen out of it's nest. It was too high to put back so one of our barn girls adopted it. It lived for two more days, then went to birdy heaven.

On Fathers' Day the kids, James' folks, and I went to church without James. The kids made him cards. Here's how the boys chose to express their Fathers' Day love in lieu of an actual paper card.

Window art with Colorforms. Shannon made him a semi truck stopping at a red light.

Avery says his is a helicopter but later decided it was a plane. Either way it's probably getting ready to crash with all that tornado debris swirling around it.

After church we decided to try and get some pictures. Mimi and Papa were getting ready to head out the following week to see old friends in South Carolina and do music week at Ridgecrest in North Carolina, and needed some fresh pictures for the trip. (They've been gone this past week and will return tomorrow. Yay!)

It was a bit bright but they mostly cooperated. It was touch and go with the grandparents, Mimi and Papa were kind of whiny since it was almost lunch time and they were hungry. We got through it though.

Mimi and the girls.

Papa and the guys.

Are we done yet?

The picture below captures a proud moment in a horse loving mom's life. Amelia went on her first trail ride with me week before last. :)

We rode by the house and Mimi took a picture for me. Amelia has been riding Lady this past week at camp too. She's about 200 years old and takes good care of her riders. Old horses are worth their weight in gold for young riders. The first horse I ever rode in lessons was a thoroughbred who was close to 30 and had seen it all.

Tomorrow we open the last session of camp for the summer. It is a two week session and we're looking forward to it being terrific. After that we will have four weeks of retreat groups/football camps/etc., and during two of those weeks I'll run horseback riding day camp as I have the past five summers.

I hope to get the pictures of Amelia's week at camp posted before next summer. Suffice it to say she had a wonderful week and told me she wanted to do next session in a cabin too. I really think she would just move out tomorrow and never look back. I was that way myself as a kid.

In the meantime, I'm going to bed.

June 14, 2010

E.'s partay

We celebrated Elizabeth's birthday with a party on Thursday after her actual birthday on Saturday. It was the last night of first session though, so James had to miss it. (Just like last year!) Elizabeth, why did you have to go and be born during a camp month?

This year's celebration was a repeat of last year's. We again had a shared celebration with Lydia D., who turned five this time. It was again at the pool in the Windmill subdivision next to our church. It was again with Thursday night dinner friends, plus a few extras. I again made the cake, and since Lydia requested a princess we went the Barbie cake route. I figured that would be a no-brainer since I had done two before. So I baked the cake the night before, with the help of Karina W., who was staying with us for the week to help me with the kids. (Karina is the daughter of church friends, and will be coming to camp for her 6th summer during 3rd session. Perhaps one day I will dedicate an entire post to why every mommy needs a live-in kid helper. She was a fantastic help, and a sweetheart to boot. I invited her to move in.)

I learned this week that apparently a butter cake recipe isn't meant to hold it's shape once out of the pan, because the thing fell apart all over the place. So much for saving time the next day by baking ahead. So the next morning I headed back to the store for another cake mix, vanilla this time, and tried again. That one turned out okay, so Karina and I mixed icing so we could work on it after lunch. I was out of disposable decorator bags, so I figured Ziplock bags would work. They will- if you have the thickest ones. I didn't, and when the third bag busted and icing started coming out again I ditched them and headed to the Dining Hall kitchen in search of thicker bags. After finding them and transferring all the icing to new bags we were finally in business. So much for a no-brainer cake.

Barbie turned out okay though.

Do a twirl for us Barbie.

Ta da!

Swimming is a huge hit with the kids. Elizabeth is a maniac in the water. So I suit her so she's virtually unsinkable and let her play. Here she is with her buddy Violet, who will be two in August.

Matching floaties!

Kids in the pool.

Kids in the pool again.

Happy birthday girl, floating around like a buoy.

Carlton and A.J.

She's perfectly content to kick around by herself out in the middle. When I put the camera down and got in next to her she said, "Don't get me!" She was afraid I was going to make her get out of the water.

Elizabeth and Alex Anne.

Avery loves the water too. He and Shannon are doing swim lessons this week, so it will be interesting to see how comfortable he is without a float by the end of the day. Today was their first lesson and it freaked him out a bit, though he did fine.


Grandmommy got to come to the party too. Mom is at camp for the summer, running errands, helping with classes, and all sorts of odds and ends.

Barbie, on fire.

Blow out the candles!

Do what?

Alrighty, then.

Oh, okay. I got it.

Barbie came out of the cake first, and then my mom thought it would be a great idea to hand her to Elizabeth.

Who promptly turned her into a Barbie popsicle.


Then we opened a few presents.

The other birthday gal.

It was a fun party, and was a great way to celebrate Elizabeth's second year with us. Neither Jenny or I got a picture of the entire party crowd. It's hard to remember details like that when you're constantly scanning the pool for four little heads.

We had a quiet weekend, then yesterday opened second session, a two week one. So far it's going great, in spite of the fact that we're in a serious heat wave all of a sudden. James' folks arrived from Texas this morning, and we get the pleasure of their company for a whole month! We've been looking foward to this for a long time.

The bed calls, so I'm off to grant it's wish. Goodnight!