April 27, 2011

A trip to Africa and more

I found a few photos from February (yes, you will have to travel back in time again). The kids and I made a weekend trip to McDonough for a family dinner to celebrate all the February birthdays on my dad's side of the family. There are quite a few of us. Did I bring out the camera during the family gathering to take pictures of the festivities and the relatives? No.

But during our stay my dad and I took the kids to a park near their house, so I snapped a few then. Kids, know now that the reason I bring the camera out so often during times like these is so when you're all adults and can't remember us doing fun things with you guys, there will be proof!


..and up!

Now let's play a game of Spot the Shannon. Nope, not one of the kids on the slide. Look higher, where he's not supposed to be.

Playing Chicken on the slide.


Not quite the landing you get in the pool.

We enjoyed our stay with the grandparents and visited with Nanny and Granny, and on the way home we stopped in at Imagine It in Atlanta. There was a west African exhibit, which the kids enjoyed. 

Playing the drums and instruments in the green room made it look like you were playing in an African band on the screen in the front of the room. Amelia found a wrap and stayed in it our whole visit.

Then Shannon delivered some chickens to a vendor in town.

They also had a pretty good day of fishing.

The African princess allowed them to row her around.

Amelia forgot to put a bridle on her camel and it ran wild around the place for a few minutes before we could lasso it. 

They also enjoyed the usual favorites at Imagine It, like the water area.

Amelia finally gets her ducks in a row.

Every so often there's a story, skit, or other activity you can be a part of. This time it was a drum lesson.

When I wasn't taking pictures I was drumming too. It's always hard to tell who has more fun with stuff like this, me or the kids. 

Wish we had a wall at home we could paint on. Without me getting angry, that is.

Just a few short days later, two little girls learned a lesson about obedience. Elizabeth was following Shannon up a retaining wall by the Dining Hall, and I looked up to see it and yelled, "Elizabeth, go back down now!" Instead she reached out to Amelia who was below her so I yelled again, "Go down! Amelia, DO NOT help her down! Don't do it!" I could just see Elizabeth overbalancing her when Amelia grabbed her around the thighs and face planting on the asphalt.

And that's exactly what happened. Praise the Lord it wasn't more serious, it could have been knocked out teeth or a head injury. We had a good talk about obedience. (After I screamed and yelled and flailed about like a chicken during my sprint from the kitchen door to the retaining wall.)

On March 6th, Amelia ran a 5K race with James. It was in Gainesville, and was to benefit Challenged Child, a fantastic organization that helps kids with special needs and their parents. Amelia came in third for her age group.

Since I had the camera out I snapped a few pictures of James reading the evening devotion. This is what it looks like most nights. (Some nights Shannon isn't wearing a toboggan with his pj's, some nights he is.)

Look how these cheeks can squish!

The week of March 14 we were blessed to have Mimi and Papa come visit. We had a fun week of hanging out. Papa got to fish a little, and we also got to see Uncle Jason who drove over for part of the week as well.

Same location as the last photo. The saggy plaid couch upstairs is where a lot of stuff happens.We have been Skypeing with Mimi and Papa every Monday evening, and she always reads them a book during our virtual visit. They had been looking forward to having her read them one in person.

As usual I neglected to get the camera out pretty much the whole week they were here. That Friday, the last night of their visit, we had our weekly dinner at Rebecca's house.

I love catching people off guard with the camera. Amanda has no idea I'm taking her picture.

Papa dines with Elizabeth. It turned out to be Grandparents' night, because Jenny's parents were also in town, as was Alison's mom (though unfortunately they weren't able to come since the nasty stomach plague struck their house), and before it was over Chad's parents showed up too. None of the grandparents live anywhere close to Cleveland, so it was totally random. It was a lot of fun.

Avery has said on more than one occasion that he's going to marry Lydia. I don't know if this counts as an official first date or not. He's still sporting his Burger King crown from the lunch Papa treated us to earlier.

When I went outside Avery and Lydia were out of their seats dancing a making faces at the "camera." I had to explain that that was a speaker and it couldn't see them.

James and Chris discuss training and race strategy. They were going to an Olympic distance triathlon in a few weeks, and then on to a half Iron Man in May. 

Anne and Keith

Rebecca and Mimi

Jenny's parents, the Wallaces, and two random weirdos. :)

A big load of kids on Rebecca's bed, watching a movie.

Amelia, Ruth, and Tanner

Every so often I like to appear in a picture so I'll have a new one for my Facebook profile.

Some of the gang.

The rest of March blew by in a flurry of the usual routines. I finalized hiring of the barn staff for camp and James and Daniel finished getting the rest of the staff hired. It's shaping up to be another great summer. Now we're just working on getting staff training planned and filling in the empty spots with campers. There have also been retreat groups nearly every weekend. This is a really busy time of year for camp.

I've been working on getting our school year wrapped up. I like to be finished by the middle of May so school is out of the way when camp stuff really gets into gear. It seems the kids are up to par or farther along in most areas than kids in their grades. Some of the things we're studying are different though, like World History in the second grade. Amelia can tell you tons about the ancient world, but pretty much nothing about our own country. She's enjoying it though, and the beauty of home schooling is that you can do things in any order you want. It took me a little while to realize that there are human beings who set the standards for public schools, and that those standards aren't necessarily as they are because that's the only order things can be learned in. So far so good, I haven't been fired yet.

As for the S word (socialization) this year, Amelia and Shannon are still doing gymnastics, and we are still participating in home school co-op classes on Thursday afternoons. Shannon has enjoyed both karate and a science class this semester, and Amelia is still doing ballet and is in choir. Karate and ballet have upcoming end of year performances, and her choir is putting on a musical in about two weeks. Having that two hour stretch in Gainesville each week gives me time to run to Publix for my coupon grocery shopping with the other two kids. (It's their favorite!) Elizabeth has done quite well skipping Thursday naps.

For Christmas this year Amelia got a butterfly kit. In March we ordered our caterpillars. (Yes, they come in the mail.) There were two cups with holes in the top, complete with caterpillar food and tiny caterpillars. We watched them grow and grow, and after a few weeks they crawled to the top and formed their chrysalids. Then we took out the paper they were attached to and pinned it to the inside of the butterfly habitat. There they sat for about two weeks until...

One day they started emerging.

The one on the upper left is out of its chrysalis, though its wings are still wet.

Most of them came out that day, though a couple took an extra day or two. We kept nine painted lady butterflies for nearly three weeks, then they started dying. Thus completes the cycle of life. We let the last one go because it was finally warm enough.

Early in April Avery's choir sang at church. That's always a treat.

It never fails. Yawning in the early service WILL happen.

The late service usually has a different feel to it, since most of the preschoolers are charged up on snacks from Sunday School. Avery was in rare form, making faces at some of the girls on the front row. (Well, I wish I could call it rare form. Stuff like this isn't too rare for Avery.)

Goodness, kid, don't your parents put you to bed early enough?

It's a cute bunch, even with Avery singing most of the first song with a pouty lip. One day in the car recently he was unhappy about something and Elizabeth looked at him and said, "Put your lip away!"

A random day when the girls had matching hair.

Sitting on the plaid couch, of course. 

This gets me up to the beginning of April now, so at least I'm now in the right month! I plan to get this thing caught up before camp gets going, so maybe there will be more posts soon.

Before I sign off, here are a few funny things I've heard around here lately:

One day Amelia was looking at the cover of the Home Life magazine I pick up at church. She said, "What are the things we can't know about our pastor?" Confused, I read the title, "Ten Things You May Not Know About Your Pastor." It pays to be concise in writing, particularly for those still trying to get this whole baffling English language thing figured out.

The feed store where I get horse feed has baby chicks this time of year. The kids like holding them and watching them run around in their makeshift water trough home. I asked the store owner if he was was going to dye some pink and purple for Easter to help them sell. Later we were in the car and Avery said to the others, "Did you know sometimes at Easter they kill baby chicks purple?" Kill, dye, whatever.

I've figured out that Avery is definitely getting ready to read because the other day he asked, "How do you spell the ABC's?"

The boys' closet is large, and toys are always mysteriously jumping out of their bins and strewing themselves all over the floor of it. I asked Shannon to clean it up so we could see the carpet and walk without getting trapped. It must have been worse than I thought, because he said, "I can do it, because I can hold my breath that long."

Avery and Elizabeth sit next to each other in the car, and when their playing turned to fussing the other day I asked what was going on. Avery said, "I'm playing like I'm her baby." He leaned over on her and she shoved at him and said, "You're so demanding, baby!"

I'm going now to get our school day started. Then I'm off to the dentist (how a person who hasn't had a cavity in 20 years suddenly gets one is beyond me), and then on to church later this evening. If I don't chicken out, that is. This spring has been a nasty one for storms and it's supposed to get pretty icky later today, so with my love of all things tornado I might batten down the hatches and just stay in! :)