March 21, 2011

February revisited

I think I'm up to the day after Valentine's now. St. Patrick's Day was last week, so I'm officially behind only a month.

The weekend James was gone to Texas and my folks were in Cleveland with us my dad promised the kids a campfire and cookout. I was going to post some pictures from James' weekend but I've had no success stealing photos off of family members' Facebook pages. Usually I can swipe pictures no problem, but today it's been acting ugly about it. Suffice it to say that the weekend was wonderful, and a terrific tribute to Grandpa and Grandma Lee's 60 years of marriage.

The kids got the campfire they wanted. Amelia and I had been at the barn most of the afternoon because I was running a birthday party for a friend's daughter (also Amelia's friend). That was a lot of fun. Anyone want to throw their kid a horse birthday party? Let me know, I'm happy to oblige. Anyway, when we were heading back from the barn Amelia said maybe we would have a camp fire because they had asked Grandad about it. Sure enough, as we pulled in the driveway there was a small fire my dad had built below our house just off the trail.

He had also been to the store just for hot dogs and marshmallows.

We added loaf bread, apple slices, and chips, and voila, dinner flambe!

This is so much fun, Grandad rocks!

Step 1) Find a stick and skewer the marshmallow. Step 2) Place it in the flame and set it on fire. Step 3) Haul it out of the fire and make your fellow marshmallow toasters/pyros think you are going to set them on fire as well. Step 4) Blow it out and eat it, ash, dirt, and all. Yum!

The warm days we've had every now and then in January and February have truly been my favorite gifts of the long, cold winter. Thanks, God! We take advantage of those rare days. Having a golf cart and a creek help.

Here's our ride.

This is an early February day and it was quite bright. Bright = overexposed pictures when you are a photography dummy like me.

We enjoyed a picnic by the creek...

Then some creek stompin'.

And then I figured out the camera setting. Yay me!

"Mom, this feels great!" actually means "Dang this spring water coming off the mountain is colder than Antarctica, but we're not going to tell you that 'cause you'll probably go all mom on us and make us get out!"

And then the world took on a sepia tone. Nobody really knows why for sure.

Days like this are such a lift to the winter weary soul.

Then one day in February, the unexpected happened. I got to go out with girlfriends. Without kids. It was the strangest thing...and the most fun!

Alison, Jenny, Rebecca, and I painted pottery at "You're Fired" in Gainesville. All of our creations turned out cute, if I do say so myself. (This is the "before" shot. They weren't all white after firing. Though for the uncreative/uninspired such as myself, it was tempting just to paint the whole mug white and call it a day!)

Then we had dinner. Apparently everyone and their grandma, grandpa, dog sitter, and 5th cousin thinks PF Chang's at the Mall of Georgia is the place to be. So, turning down their offer of a two hour wait, we settled for Thai elsewhere. And we were happy.

 And then we had Starbuck's, and we were really happy. Back to cold nights- that one was cold!

As if the Valentine's date and girls' day out weren't enough, I went out a THIRD time.  My birthday was on the 18th, and it happened to coincide with the first of monthly Girls' Nights Outs (Girls' Night Outs? Girls' Nights Out? I dunno...) Alison had put on the calendar for our Sunday School class ladies. It was supposed to be for all the February birthdays in the class, but it just so happened that I was the only one. So I pretended that 15 ladies got together to go out just for me! It was a great time, and every time I get together with others like that I remember why the saying says that laughter is the best medicine. I came in past bedtime, in high spirits despite yawns. Fun times. It makes birthday number 37 go down a little bit easier. 

There's a lot I could say about my feelings on getting older; looking at myself in pictures and not seeing anything resembling my 20's anymore, finding grey hairs, watching the beginnings of crows feet forming, noticing how there's so much more of the country's population that is young and dumb than ever before...but perhaps I'll save my ponderings for year 40. Hugs and kisses from the kids along with their cards and wishes, and with a sweet card from James with a gift card for another massage *yay* helped make 37 easier as well. Every year older you get means you got to spend one more year with the people who really matter. Love you guys!

With the busyness of the camp season upon me, plus school, working on taxes (ew), and many other extra things besides the usual routine, it'll be a wonder if I post the next batch of photos before Christmas. I think I can, I think I can...

Before I go to bed, I'll leave you with a couple of Elizabeth quotes from the month. One day recently she was painting with watercolors. Actually she was destroying a paint brush by splaying out it's bristles beyond repair. She looked at the brush's haphazardly arrayed bristles, laughed, and said, "The paint brush has staticky hair!"

I had forgotten how hard it is to get a two year old to understand some things, like pronouns for instance. She has some panties with My Little Pony on them, and always says to me while putting them on, "I've got on your little pony panties." I try to explain, no those are MY Little Pony panties...I mean, YOUR  Little Pony..." Then I usually scrap it because I have no idea how to proceed from there.

And finally...

Spontaneous sweetness. 


March 6, 2011

More snow, more Christmas, more school

Back to March. I will never be able to keep up with this blog properly, especially this time of year when the rush to get camp in order for the summer is here. I've been spending spare moments (as though there really were any) on camp business, setting up certification clinics for staff, interviewing/hiring staff for the barn, getting horse day camp in order, etc. Lots to do right now! 

I spent the entire day today cleaning the house, which has been overdue for about six months. Today is Saturday, so I could. On school days it's all I can do to keep up with the necessities like meals, dishes, and the occasional laundry, let alone frivolities like rifling through sixty pounds of papers (er, art), and socks stuffed under beds and dressers by blond-headed pack rats. The behind the scenes parts of life get neglected a great deal because there are only so many hours in a day. The glaringly obvious things get attention first, like a clogged toilet because a little boy used half a roll of toilet paper, or meals (haven't found a way around those yet), or the clean up on aisle five when another little boy knocks a bowl of veggie beef soup off the table onto the chair cushion and rug. Throw in a couple of hours of school, ten more mini-disasters, clean up from the aforementioned meals, and on most days some quality time just having a little fun with the young 'uns (gotta spend it with them while I've got it!), and the hours are all gone. Hence the closed-door policy on most of the cabinets and closets around here. Today many secrets were exposed. Things were brought into the light. Let out of the bag. Or into the bag, as it were- the trash bag. And the part of me that intensely dislikes disorganization, (and things falling on my head when a door is opened), is content. For one afternoon, anyway.

As though I didn't have full enough days, I'm now two weeks into an exercise program. I'm excited about it though, as I've felt like a shell of my former (pre-baby) self for some years now. Thin isn't the same as fit, and I'm working to close the gap between the two. Turns out it's more like a canyon than a gap. DANG THAT EXERCISE STUFF IS HARD! The program is P90X, which is a set of 12 DVDs that work different sets of muscles on different days. If you follow it faithfully for 90 days you're supposed to get serious results. I've pretty much decided the P either stands for "Painful" or "Pathetic," as my daily efforts have been here right at first. My goal is to get stronger and more flexible, two of the things I've lost in my years of pregnancies and chasing toddlers. 

Hopefully the exercise will strengthen my memory as well. (One can hope!) Below is a note Amelia left me several weeks ago when she lost a tooth. 

"My tooth is lost rember it. And tell the tooth fairy! Love, Amelia. Psst- My tooth is under my pillow."

That's sad. All the girl wants is four seconds of attention from the tooth fairy and she has to leave a note!

Below is a bit of creativity from Avery I thought I'd share. I left the boys in the office with James one day for a little while, and when I got back Shannon showed me the piece of legal pad paper he had cut into the shape of a Jeep. He gave me details about it for a minute, then Avery stepped in front of him with his hand behind his back. He dramatically pulled out his legal pad paper shape and announced, "And these....(pause)...are my underpants."

My preschooler is mastering cutting, a kindergarten skill. Cutting out underpants has to qualify as at least a first grade skill, I'm sure of it.

Now, rewind back to the last blog entry and put yourself back in a snow frame of mind. This is that same snow we had fun sledding in, I just never posted the pictures of the snow person we made the next day when it got melty enough to stick together.

Here she is!

Laurel leaf pig tails and all.

Or is it a he? Snow people are so unpredictable. It's Pat!

Now try to remember Christmas. My brother and sister-in-law and nieces were supposed to come celebrate Christmas with us during New Year's but perhaps you recall Hurl Week here at the Happy Himstedt Home? No? Shall I regurgitate a synopsis for you? I kid.

We finally pulled it off in the middle of January. The 14th is Jonathan's birthday, so we celebrated not only Christmas but his birthday as well.

Lisa made him a yummy cake. Thanks for having a birthday, Jon! Cake is good.

Number 34. Dang.

As for this series of pictures, I have no idea. I think I was trying to get everyone who had just sung Happy Birthday to look at me.

They didn't.

Mother, look already! Geez.

Then we opened presents. The kids enjoyed The Christmas That Wouldn't End.

Lisa is excited about the colorful clay pot with beads and sequins that Amelia made for them. You can practically see the wheels turning as she asks herself, "Now where am I going to put this?" No doubt she really was asking herself that. Amelia, you are sweet to think of other people. 

Yay! A stuffed iguana! I've been needing one of these!

Trying out a new book.

Yay! A stuffed unicorn! I've been needing one of these!

Reagan helps Grandad open a present. Or maybe it's the other way around. It's hard to tell.

The lengths a grandparent will go to to indulge a grandkid's whim.

We had a lot of fun with everyone. I vote we do it again soon, and with cake again. (I'm not sure the P90X people will approve. Good thing they're on DVD and can't see me stuffing my face.)

Since I've been on a random photo kick in this blog, here's another one from January.

Attack of the Large Bed Head.

Random again. This cutie pie is Violet, who is Elizabeth's age. We've been part of a Tuesday play group since Amelia was a few weeks old, and here's a shot from a recent one. Amelia is going to make a great baby sitter.

Here's some school fun we had recently.

Graphing M & M's. Take a bag, divide it into colors, graph the colors, do some greater than/less than, then the piece or the handful, into the mouth.

My favorite concentration face.

I wish all math involved M & M's. That should just be a rule.

One weekend in late January Ruth came over to spend the night.

Amelia has a ballerina/princess dance video they like to do.

Elizabeth likes to be a part of everything the big girls do. 

James celebrated his birthday on January 29th. It was on a Saturday. The Thursday before we had dinner at Rebecca's and I brought a cake in honor of it.

Three candles on one side, seven on the other. We didn't want the cake to melt by putting 37 actual candles on it.

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you." (We used the tune "Happy Birthday. Ever heard of it?"

Then we paused to discuss the National Debt for a minute.

And then we kissed, of course. (Look away kids. Ewwww!)

The actual day of his birthday it was a rather low key event, but he said it was a good day. It was a Saturday, so he got to feed a group breakfast and take care of them. Then he let the kids follow him around for awhile so I could go to the barn (it was a beautiful day, VERY welcome during January), then he fed the group lunch, then went for a bike ride.

Clipping into the pedals...

And he's off. "Bye kids! I'm just going to ride 50 miles in the mountains, like usual! No big deal!"

The face of a happy man. He's also training for a couple of upcoming events, including a half-marathon in two weeks, and a Half Iron Man triathlon in May. (Google that one for information on the distances.) I'm proud of him for all his hard work and efforts to be healthy. What he's doing makes my P90X complaints a bit insignificant. 

Back in December we acquired a fish named Lightning from Rebecca (our friend and office manager). She went to India and Thailand for two weeks and left him in our care, and was perfectly content for us to keep him forever. I suspect that might have been part of the plan.

One day Avery asked me how he could move his ears so fast.

So I explained the whole breathing underwater with gills thing.

February came in quietly. So quietly, in fact, that it's already gone and I feel like I missed it. Darn those short months. They're sneaky. The 100th day of school passed without fanfare because I didn't realize we had done that many until I turned in our last attendance report.

I got the camera out one day while Shannon was reading to me. I'd like him to see a representation of his typical six year old self one day when he reads this.

What prompted me to start taking pictures was watching Shannon walking his feet up the wall until he was standing on his hands, still reading all the while. I couldn't get him to do it again once he realized what he was doing.

Then he layed down and started shuffling this book back and forth between his feet.

Swipe, swipe, absentmindedly across the floor, never breaking his reading stride.

A little person took the book and joined him.

Hey. (Fashionista of the home #2.)

With the book gone he went to chewing on a Lego wheel. Still reading.

Then he trapped Elizabeth's arm with his shuffly feet. Everyday is like this. He has ants in his pants, shirt, and socks. In spite of it, he's doing extremely well with his reading. He has nice handwriting too. He's even learned a few math facts, even though I'm not making efforts to teach them to him yet. He can count by 2's, 5's, and 10's, and has learned all of the books of the Bible. Teaching an active boy has been different than teaching a relatively sedate girl. I still don't know how teachers do it outnumbered so badly, with so many kinds of learning styles, personalities, and sitting still tolerances. One of the nice things about home schooling is that he can bounce all he needs to as long as he's doing what I'm asking him to do.

I'm still not sure exactly what it's going to be like to teach this one. He has a better tolerance for staying seated, but generally has less perseverance when something is difficult. I think he's going to be a good student though, I have a good feeling about it. We'll know soon enough!

And for the last pictures of the post, which will bring us to nearly mid-February:

Marilyn Monroe on the heat vent. She loves the vent. That's probably because she insists on running around our 65 degree house in swimsuits and leotards all winter.

You know you want to be me.

The weekend of February 11, 12, and 13 James made a trip to Texas for his grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary celebration. The kids and I held down the fort at home but I plan to swipe some pictures off of family members' Facebook pages for my next post. 

James flew back on the 14th and had me meet him in Gainesville for a Valentine's date. My folks stayed part of the weekend with me and the kids and graciously stayed one more day so I could go out with my man. He took me to Luna's for lunch, then surprised me with an AWESOME massage. I must do that again. We spent the rest of our afternoon using up some gift cards we got for Christmas. It was great. It was a date. A real one. Amazing.

There are many more pictures to post, and who knows when I'll get to them, but for now I have to be finished. It's bedtime. At this rate I'll update again in July!