August 26, 2010

Catching up

Yeah, so it turns out school at the Himstedt Home started Thursday before last, not Tuesday, due to a case of ISSSWRP. (It's Still Summer So We'd Rather Play.) We've also managed to miss at least one day each of the two weeks we've been doing school. I feel like I'm getting behind already, and I don't have anyone but myself to answer to. It's silly. In the meantime I'll catch up on the pictures I've yet to post from the summer.

But first, a new friend.

These guys have been on our porch all summer long. The kids think they're terrific. What's not to love about a living leaf? Our science for this year centers on the study of flying critters- bugs, birds, and bats, mostly. Should be fun!

Here's another cute critter from earlier in the summer when Mimi and Papa were still with us. She's been trying to dethrone Amelia as princess of the house.

And I have shoes!

My royal subjects love me.

The week after camp ended Amelia continued her impersonation of a jack-o-lantern.

It's hard to tell where another one came out, but it's the space next to the front right tooth.

That makes five down with two more loose ones getting ready to go AWOL. I clearly remember all those little teeth coming in. (Probably because I was still nursing at that point!) It would be nice if she would follow in her dad's footsteps and not mine and be able to go through life without the help of an orthodontist.

The week before Mimi and Papa left to return to Texas, Aunt Sherry came back and brought some more cousins to visit. London and Harper have been here before, and are James' cousin Tracy's daughters. The girls have a little brother, Ridge, who we've yet to meet. You'd think a trip to Greenville two and a half hours away wouldn't kill us, but in the true spirit of staying wrapped up in our own little world we haven't ventured over to meet him. We should, especially considering how much fun the kids had playing with their cousins.

No trip to Cleveland is complete without a trip to Babyland General Hospital (and gift shop).

The gang.

Creepy body-less baby heads.

I've always regretted not taking Elizabeth to Babyland when she was really small and putting her in one of the cribs with the Cabbage Patch babies for a picture. Hardly a person could pass her without commenting on how much she looked like one. She could still pass for a sister.

"Oh gee, they're right! I do resemble these things!"

London, Shannon, and Harper. Since they wouldn't tolerate Shannon's typical strangle hold photo pose he did the next best thing.

I love little girls holding hands.

Turn around over-photographed girls! Let's get another one!

We also took a swim in the lake. We've spent a good deal of time in the lake this summer. Amelia and Shannon are quite good swimmers, Avery spends a lot of time in a life jacket (in spite of the swimming lessons earlier in the summer), and Elizabeth is fearless in all her floaties.

Harper is just a few days older than Avery.

Elizabeth has been jumping off of the dock all summer. Ready...


Put enough floats on them and they feel pretty confident to jump off of anything. Not that she wouldn't try it without floats. She's a maniac in the water.


Elizabeth: "Come on, London, jump!" London: "Are you sure this water is sanitary? I just don't know..."

The day before Mimi and Papa left we went to the spray park in Gainesville to meet Alison and her boys and their cousins. We barely saw them all summer so we thought we'd take the opportunity to hang with some long lost buddies for a few hours.

Cartwheel bliss.

A picture snapped to show that Elliott really is still our friend, even after weeks of not playing together.

Mommy, how do we get the bathtub at home to do this?

Stretchy bathing suits can hold entire fountains.

A.J. and Shannon, professional bucketheads.

Amelia's birthday was July 21st. (Yes, more than five weeks ago. So I'm a little behind on my blogging.) Mimi and Papa left the week before it, so she got her birthday gift from them before they went.


If there was any doubt about who Amelia resembles, there probably isn't now.

We were bummed to see the grandparents go, but Mimi had pressing business in Texas, namely getting the screws and plates out of her leg from last summer's broken bone fun. Camp ended that Friday as well, and I was also bummed to see the last of the Strong Rock campers go. Camp was full for the next three weeks, though we were playing host instead of planning the program. We hosted a youth camp, a family science camp (very cool, since the kids and I got to participate), and a football camp.

The week of the youth camp I ran my annual horseback riding day camp. I ended up cancelling the second week due to lacking enrollment. I ended up being kind of glad about it since the first week was the hottest week we had all summer. The kids were great and it was a lot of fun. Here are a few of the participants.

Amelia's birthday was kind of a non-event the day of, since it was in the middle of horse camp. My mom stayed with the kids that week.

She got to scavenger hunt for a few gifts from us that morning.

Mom made her a brownie with pink icing, since there was not party or cake that day. Kind of like when you become an adult.

She got a card that said something about being queen for the day, so she took it seriously.

She did keep asking about when we were doing a party, but the same thing happened this year as last- her birthday was during horse camp, then everyone we knew that she wanted to be at her party took turns being out of town for the next three weeks. She kept mentioning it, so we did finally celebrate it "officially" last week. Pictures to follow.

The day after Amelia's birthday, on the 22nd, Shannon crossed over into the land of Snaggletooth.

It had been loose for awhile, so I taught him the twist and pull method, and out it came.

The Tooth Fairy managed to remember him, and he was up at 6:15 telling his siblings all about it. It is pretty exciting after all, but hopefully next time the news can wait until at least 7:15...

Last year sometime Amelia started asking to have her ears pierced. So I told her we could do it for her 7th birthday if she still wanted to then, thinking maybe the thought would lose its appeal. A few weeks before her birthday she was still serious about it. James and the kids are in a wedding in September, and he had to be fitted for a tux, so the Saturday after her birthday off to the mall we went for a penguin suit and holey ears.

She was really excited about it until about ten minutes before the event. I told her more than once that this was a choice, not a necessity, and she finally decided the pain would be worth it. We walked into Merle Norman and picked out some cute rhinestone flowers. All they had back in my day were teeny balls, and you could choose silver or gold. And you had to walk four miles in the snow, barefooted, uphill both ways to get to the ear piercing place.

The face of a true soldier...

Who is still having second thoughts, in spite of the fact that the nice Merle Norman Cosmetics girl who looked like Barbie told her it didn't hurt, and that she and the other sales girl pierced their ears just for fun when they were bored in the store. And yes they did, because she had LOTS of earrings.

I think she looks convinced, don't you? She was surprised that it actually didn't hurt, and asked if the second one was going to not hurt like the first one.

Now we both have holes in our heads! Yay! She has been pleased ever since and is counting the days until we can put in some different ones.

Right after that we headed to Jonathan and Lisa's in Marietta to celebrate Jordan's third birthday. We missed Reagan's first birthday party a few weeks earlier because that was the day I was moving Amelia into her cabin for camp.

In the Adams Family Backyard Sprayground.

The birthday girl.


Somebody invited a monkey to the party.

Mommies should get to have their fun too.

Cheesin' it up for the camera.


There's always one in every crowd.

Jordan played a game of "chase me with the camera long enough and maybe you'll get a shot of my face." She was sporting a pizza sauce goatee.

It's not even her birthday this time yet somehow she still gets to wear the crown.

Jonathan's super duper propane flame thrower lighter.

For me!

She tried a number of candle blowing out techniques before finding one that finally worked.


It's amazing what a grandad will let his grandkids do to him.

Below is a random shot from a few weeks ago when I was testing the light to see if the time of day was good for taking portrait photos of the kids. I like to pretend that I am an amateur photographer, but I'm not. I am still only about halfway through Digital Photography For Dummies, a book I bought LAST summer. I do have an interest in it but am not at this point willing to devote the time it would take to get good at it. A good camera set on automatic can eliminate some of the need to understand things like aperture and shutter speed, terms which I'm sure I read about in my Dummies book but can't explain worth a darn.

Looks like a professional camera took this one, doesn't it?

More lake swimming photos.

A girl enjoying her snack. I haven't given the Elizabeth update lately, and if you haven't seen her in awhile you won't believe how much she's grown up. She learned to talk right before the summer started and pretty much skipped the babbling, hard to understand stage. She says whatever she wants and you can understand pretty much all of it. She keeps surprising me with the things she understands too, and how well she verbalizes thoughts and remembers things. As an example, the other day she was chewing on her fingers because she's cutting two year molars, and I asked, "Do your teeth hurt?" She said, "No, my gum hurts." Huh? Who told her about gums? She calls me "Mom" a lot, and says things like, "You got dressed, Mom?" "You want some of this, Mom?" She asks to be "excused please" from the table. The only word she consistently mixes up is "melon water" for watermelon. And noodles are "eedels." Everything else is clear as a bell. It's hard not to treat her like she's older and didn't just turn two. I forget sometimes.

Her memory is amazing too. We haven't been to the kids' gymnastics place since May, and the other day we went by it (it's down an infrequently traveled side street), and she pointed and said, "I want to do a flip at ji'nastics." I don't think I knew where anything was or how to get to it until I learned to drive and then it became important. She wants to do everything the older kids do and is quite capable. Avery only learned to buckle the top clip on his car seat a few weeks ago- and so did she, although she's nearly two years behind. She can put on her own shoes and socks too, and her swim suit, which she wants to wear every single day around the house. Same as her sister- I had to hide Amelia's from her the winter between her 2nd and 3rd year.

Now Elizabeth has been bragged on.

We got to have Bennett over to spend the night a few weeks back. He's four years older than Shannon but they don't either one seem to know it, so it's a fun friendship.

It's easy to bond over mutual shared interests like bike riding, digging holes, four wheelers, Jeeps, and running Hotwheels through the mud.

Here they are at Vogel State Park a few weeks ago where we went to meet the D.'s for the day while they were camping. There's an awesome creek that runs through the middle of the camp ground, so naturally they had to see what would happen if they rode bikes into it.

And now, the first day of the school year, Thursday, August 12, 2010. Why not start on a Thursday?

Shannon on his official first day of kindergarten.

Amelia, a studious second grader.

A second grader who forgot nearly every addition and subtraction math fact we worked so hard to learn all last spring. That's what I get for not making good on my intention to review math at least once or twice a week.

It's shaping up to be a good school year. I'm just now getting the ins and outs of how you school two at once while fending off attacks from a preschooler and toddler. Shannon is doing fairly well with his reading, just working on speed and remembering that the silent e on the end usually makes for a long vowel sound in the middle. His handwriting is better than mine. I have some new books for history and science, so adding those to the line up has helped me sit down and do a little more scheduling, a little less fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, as has been the style to which I've grown accustomed.

This year a new home schooling co-op started up in Hall county (there's pretty much nothing in White county...that would be too convenient), and we've started joining them for an hour class on Thursdays. It's a great idea, where moms of home schooled kids get together and offer classes to groups of kids in their area of expertise. Several have been school teachers and are offering higher level courses for high school students, which helps moms who don't quite feel up to teaching higher math, science, or whatever. Right now all we're doing are ballet and karate, which are taught by older home schooled kids who have had years of experience and are now passing on their knowledge to beginners.

Our first day of school at home coincided with our first day of ballet. When I signed Amelia up I didn't realize the karate class was being offered at the same time, so when we got there and Shannon realized he could learn how to take people down while Amelia was learning to stun them with beautiful dancing, he was pumped. So was I- the classes are being held at a church about 35 minutes from home, from 1:45 to 2:45. This is nap time for the littlest one, so being able to put two kids in classes made it really worth it. But one of the best parts is that it's only FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH. Seriously.

First day, and we're all official with our black leotard, pink tights, and ballet slippers. No, that's not a vacuum cleaner on the front porch in the background.


Elizabeth doesn't care that she's three years too young for this class.

I used to be able to do this before my back decided to fuse without my permission. At least I think that's what happened. Maybe I should seek an expert opinion.

More than once I've removed her from class so she won't be a distraction and she always puts up a fuss about it because she wants to do ballet too.

When Shannon found out he was going to get to do karate he asked me if he could wear any old bathrobe, since he had one at home. As this is just a beginner class, they can wear shorts. Guess we'll leave the robe at home.

I figure this is a great introduction to two activities they have expressed an interest in in the past, and we can pursue them further elsewhere later if they like them that much. It also gets me into the co-op, and hopefully in the future we'll do more classes like art, science and nature, and whatever else looks interesting. There are a lot of nice folks involved with it so it's been fun to meet some other home schooling weirdos like me. :) We will probably also do gymnastics, which for a change IS conveniently located, once it starts back up for the fall. She's moving her gym, and we're going on a summer vacation (yay!) after Labor Day, so we'll work on pursuing it in another couple of weeks.

Below I digitally preserved Avery's first effort at writing his name. He will be four in a few weeks and up to now hasn't had the slightest interest in anything more than scribble scrabble. We wrote thank you notes to Sunday School teachers since all the kids moved up week before last, and I wrote his name so he could copy it.

Thought I'd better take a picture since we would be giving it away.

The next photos are just some weirdness I caught around here one day. Shannon loves to put in a CD (his favorite is the Christian rock band Skillet), turn it up, get his guitar, and jam out.

I'm not sure about the gloves and black socks. He has his own style.

Getting some air.

Jammin' baby!

What's weird is since we don't have cable or satellite he's never really seen a band of any kind perform. Is this instinct? Do we have a future rock star here?

The only other thing I can think of worthy of mentioning is that our 14th anniversary was on Tuesday, the 17th. James got a babysitter for the afternoon and evening and we took a road bike I've been borrowing to his favorite cycle shop in Dahlonega. They changed a few parts to get it to fit me a little better, then we went for a ride. I'm sure it was the slowest, most boring ride of his life, but he gave me a good many road cycling tips and pointers, and it was fun. After that we went to dinner at a nice place a bit sweaty, but happy. Now if I could just figure out a way to get on that bike more than once a week I'd be in good shape, literally.

I think I'm finally just about up to date with the blog. Time to let another six weeks go by! The very last thing I'll post pictures of is Amelia's long awaited month-after-her-birthday-birthday-party. It really wasn't even her party- it was A.J.'s fifth and Tozer's second, at the Hicks' house, and we hijacked it by bringing our own cake. (I did ask first!) I also told Amelia I would just make her a cake, would that be a sufficient birthday celebration even without the presents, and she said it would.

Not my best cake ever, but she wanted a pink heart, so at least we got that part right. The hearts on top were supposed to be roses, but turns out Mommy can't do roses. Only globs of icing that look more like dog piles, so hearts it was. Apparently I also have no business trying to write in icing, which shouldn't have come as a surprise considering my handwriting on paper. (I should just lower my standards.) It was dark chocolate though, and quite edible.

A.J. and Tozer had a Candy Land cake, sugarless, of course. Or not.

Happy birthday!

Friends ended up bringing presents, so the celebration was complete. Year seven wasn't a complete wash after all.

I love that she's big enough to read her own card and get a kick out of it.

I believe this post has officially been long enough, plus I'm tired of typing, moving pictures around, and I think I hear the bed calling. Until next time- whenever that is!

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