Welcome to November in February. You can never celebrate the eating of turkey too many times.
November was a fun month, full of time with family we don't get to spend enough time with, as well as the usual stuff like school, church, gymnastics class, grocery shopping, (not) cleaning the house, etc.
We had a fun visit from Lisa and Jordan and Reagan early in November. I don't think I've yet taken the opportunity to announce that I'm going to be an aunt again in July! Jordan says it's a girl because she saw a hair bow on the ultrasound.
None of the few pictures I took that day were stellar, but it's always fun to have a record of special days. In this one Reagan is wearing a shirt we had borrowed last year when Elizabeth was two. Who wore it better? :)
Two-year old Elizabeth.
Classic Avery face. Classic Elizabeth dress as well, always in a leotard or swimsuit-type outfit, warm or cold, rain or shine.
Shannon likes chauffering people in the Jeep. I was hoping he'd drive himself to the haircut lady but he didn't.
"You seem to be missing a wheel here, ma'am."
Jordan had fun on Elizabeth's bike, and got one of her very own for Christmas this year. Oh wait, I don't know that yet because it's still November.
A few days later we had a very fun over-the-weekend visit from my college friend Joy, her husband Blake, and their four girls. They had four kids in less time than we did, since the first two are twins. I had so much fun with Joy during our college years. One Saturday the two of us rollerbladed over ten miles off Berry's campus and around Rome. (That will result in very sore legs and big blisters, in case you ever wanted to know.) Thanks to the magic of Facebook we reconnected a few years ago, and the kids and I went to their house last spring, which was the first time I had seen her since college. They got to come up to Cleveland and spent the night at camp and we had a blast hanging out and playing with her family.
Elizabeth (3), Allie (3), Ava (4), Avery (5), Emma (6), Ella (6), Shannon (7), Amelia (8). This family would be one we'd hang out with a lot if they just lived closer. Joy and Blake are both teachers, and considering the fact that White County is not renewing 30 of their positions for next year, the Sims family being able to move here is looking kind of doubtful. :(
We took a walking tour of camp that ended up at the barn.
Elizabeth and Ava on my favorite babysitter, Maverick. I haven't had a chance to write about him yet, but I will soon. I was quite upset to lose him in December. He will be missed very much.
Who knew Joy would make such a good cart horse?
It was a fun time, and we hope they will come see us again real soon.
James made plans to run a half-marathon on Thanksgiving Day this year, as he did last year, and I had decided to run my first 5K ever that day. Turns out I ended up running my first one on November 13th. It was on a Sunday afternoon, and we basically decided the night before to take the family and go to Gainesville after church to participate in the race. Curtis D. brought his kids as well. Jenny had to work, so she missed the fun.
Lydia and Elizabeth get ready for the excitement.
Ruth with Amelia and Avery. James was running the 10K, which started after my race ended, so he hung out with the kids so Curtis could run with Bennett and Maggie.
I finished in 30 minutes, 40 seconds. My only goal was to run the whole thing without having to walk, which I did. A LOT of it was uphill. I'm still amazed that I can run without stopping, since I've spent my whole life not enjoying running, and therefore not running. After finishing my first round of P90x last year I discovered that I could run after all. The workouts tend to be more strength training than heavy cardiovascular, but it was enough to get me in running shape for the first time in my life. I enjoyed the race, especially once the uphill part was over!
Here's Maggie with her medal for winning her age group. She also beat me. Getting beat by a nine year-old is great.
Bennett, Curtis, and Maggie.
The 10K was the same course as the 5K, just run twice. Here's James coming through the first time.
Getting close to the finish..
It was a good experience for me, and for James it was half the distance of his upcoming race so it was good for him too. It proved that I could finish the Thanksgiving Day one. I was a little nervous about that, since on our trip to Vogel a few weeks before I had twisted my ankle badly while piggybacking Elizabeth on a hike. Nothing like injuring yourself to try to keep from injuring your daughter.
The next week we had one of our coveted visits from Mimi and Papa for the Thanksgiving holidays. We took the week off of school so we could enjoy time with them. This was a year when they came east for Thanksgiving. Next year we will go west for Christmas. We were hoping Jared, Laura, and Voa could join us but Voa had surgery just the previous month to correct an issue with one side of her skull having closed too quickly. She has been a miracle from the day she was born, and has been through so much in her first year of life. We were also hoping to have Jennifer join us from Austin, but she wasn't able to make it this time. We are happy to have Jason living so much closer though, because he did get to come for part of the week.
Mimi and Shannon enjoyed assembling Buzz Lightyear and friends.
This is also a favorite activity when Mimi comes. We Skype with them on Monday evenings and she always has a book ready.
Sunday they went to church with us. It's always fun when Papa gets to join us, since he's a minister of music at his own church and rarely gets to skip Sundays there.
Jason has been doing some triathlons, as well as building up his endurance to run. He and James going for a bike ride was unavoidable.
Bye! See you in a ridiculous number of hours after a ridiculous number of miles up some ridiculously steep climbs! (Translate "ridiculous" as "I'm jealous of your super awesome abilities and wish I could do it myself.")
Mimi is a teacher's aide, and brought one of the Thanksgiving projects her kids at school did for the grandkids to try out.
Faux Native Americans!
This one was worth posting just because it's a grandpa playing Twister. I'm convinced our military would be at its strongest if it was made up of grandparents whose grandkids asked them to serve. "Grandpa, will you please go fight a war?" "Sure, honey, which branch of the military do you want me to be part of?" They'll do anything for the little people in their lives.
Mimi also brought a sunflower growing kit. The little green tray of soil looked so much like mini chocolate doughnuts a few of us were actually disappointed.
There was a parade while Mimi and Papa were here.
There were also a couple of assorted skill demonstrations.
Jenga art (?)
Mimi and Uncle Jason took the kids on a walk.
They headed up to the playground for a picnic lunch, in the rain.
Thanksgiving morning we all got up dark and early to head to Atlanta for the half-marathon and 5K. James and Jason headed out a little early since their race started first, and they picked up one of our youth from church who would also be running his first half-marathon.
We started at the Braves stadium. The half runners started in waves, according to the pace they were planning to run. There were people EVERYWHERE! It's a popular way to "earn your turkey," as the race organizers promote it.
Here's the first wave starting the half. James is in this group.
"Corral B," the next wave, containing Jason, somewhere.
Ready to start the 5K.
Whoa, what are the Davidsons doing here? Just kidding, we planned to meet up with them. I wanted to beat Maggie this time.
What the kiddos and Mimi and Papa were doing while James and I were running.
It was a lovely run through a couple of neighborhoods in Atlanta. I was running near one guy with tons of people on every side of me and heard him remark to his friend, "Wow, usually running is lonelier than this."
Look at the photo above and you'll just see the Strong Rock Camp orange staff shirt heading this way.
Hey. I met my goal again, which was to run the whole thing without walking. This time I did it in 30:29. I'll never set any land speed records, but I'll always consider it an accomplishment to finally be able to run in my late 30's.
I won a medal! So did everyone else!
It was fun being able to see James finish. Several times during my 3.1 mile run I was thinking that he was doing the same thing only more than four times as far. That thought almost made me walk I got so tired just thinking about it.
Looks good, doesn't he?
Turns out he was in extreme pain, having in the previous mile torn a muscle. He got a cramp and ran through it, destroying a tiny muscle in the calf. He could barely hobble to the car, and two and a half months and a few rounds of physical therapy later is just getting back to normal.
After seeing such a strong finish you can imagine my surprise to see him barely able to stand up when I got to him! He was still able to finish in 1:43:50, which is very good, especially for someone who couldn't give it their all for the last mile. Jason surprised himself by finishing in 1:42:44.
Here are little people sitting up on a tall column thingy. Sometimes it's just easier to set your kids up on a ledge than risk having them disappear in a big crowd.
Kick out Shannon, replace him with Maggie. I beat her this time, by the way, but probably only because her dad wanted her to stay with him while running through downtown Atlanta.
James and Chad, who they picked up on the way to the race. He was in James' small group on Wednesday nights.
Big bro with little bro.
After the race we headed out to my mom and dad's house. Since we were within 30 minutes of them on Thanksgiving Day they invited us to lunch. It was better than the Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving we had previously tentatively planned. (Neither of us ladies could get excited about cooking a feast after an early morning jaunt to Atlanta.)
We were joined by Nanny and Granny as well.
Nanny was wearing her Stevie Wonder glasses because she had cataract surgery the week before.
The kids talked them into dragging out the indoor/outdoor tree mom puts in the front window. They enjoyed ransacking her ornaments and hanging them on the tree.
You'll rarely find Elizabeth in the clothes we put her in for any given day. She always finds something else to wear, even when we're not at our own house. She's just exactly like another little girl I used to know at that age, who also happens to be a Himstedt daughter.
We headed home that evening after a day of fun with both sets of parents/grandparents/great grandmas, and enjoyed another day with Mimi and Papa before they had to head back to Texas and the real world.
Papa has some big boots to fill.
Story time again!
I THINK James is still awake. It's hard to tell.
The day after Thanksgiving we got to go do something fun and special. Jason was able to reserve some spots for he and Jen, Jen's sister-in-law, and me and Mom H. to go to the warehouse in Gwinnett county where Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes are inspected and sent out around the world. Mom has been wanting to do it for some time, as she heads up the effort at her church.
First we went to a short orientation/instructional session, then they put us right to work.
There were a couple of things that had to happen to each box. Individuals inspected them for money, which some people put in the box to cover shipping We also checked for inappropriate or "forbidden" items (chocolate, lotions, anything liquid that could bust, break, or melt). If a box was sparse there were items that could be added. Finally they were taped up and put into big boxes as groups to be shipped. The boxes we were inspecting were going to Panama. Later that afternoon other volunteers would be working on boxes going to the Ukraine.
I am an excellent taper, turns out.
Packing the bigger boxes for shipping.
There were people from all over the place working in the center. There were groups from churches and individuals, too. that come for several days, some from pretty far away. We met a group from South Florida that does this every year.
We had a special treat and got to hear from a girl who now lives in Missouri who received a shoe box as a child in Romania. Hearing her story makes you realize how truly important something like a shoe box full of things picked out by a caring individual can really make a difference in the life of a child who has next to nothing. Samaritan's Purse is doing terrific work, and I highly recommend their organization. It's worth it to take the opportunity to put together one or several shoe boxes during the Christmas season, and volunteering at a shipping center was great. I'm going to try to do it again next year.
While we were gone for the day, Papa dragged out our Christmas tree for us. James helped as much as possible on one good leg. He really was in some serious pain.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Mimi and Papa once again before we were ready to. They left before the sun came up on Saturday morning. Life went back into its usual routine around here, only with the excitement of the Christmas season in the air, and a giant tree in the living room.
I'll leave you with this final image for the month of November, one that truly sums up the brotherhood, peace, and harmony that is the Thanksgiving season.
I'll also leave you with the latest Himstedt kids sayings, both from Elizabeth.
A few weeks ago Amelia and Avery were aggravating her by telling her a napkin on her chair was a piece of toilet paper. She often does a hands-on-hips indignant look along with a bossy sounding tone of voice when she doesn't like something. Finally when she had enough she looked at them and said, "You crazy dumb creatures!!"
Two nights ago in the car Amelia complained about her foot being asleep because she sat on it too long. It was quiet for a few minutes then Elizabeth yawns and pipes up, "My legs are so sleepy."
December is on it's way! Get excited! Well, don't get too excited, it might still be awhile at this rate. I'm doing what I can, this real life thing just takes up so darned much of my time. Oh well, hope to see you again soon!