July 9, 2012

Summer has arrived

June! I made it to June!

Now if I can just get through this month's post. So much has happened and there are many pictures. (If the life of the Himstedt family doesn't intensely interest you, you might choose to tune out now.)

We wrapped staff training week up on Friday, June 1st and gave the staff a 24 hour break, which I've no doubt they were ready for after so many days of listening, thinking, working, and perhaps trying to stay awake during meetings so they wouldn't look like total slackers. There's almost nothing worse than wanting to stay awake in a class or meeting, only to have your body betray you by telling your eyelids they can't stay open. The closer you are to the front of the room the stronger this phenomenon manifests itself.

The staff came back Saturday evening for a dedication service. On Sunday, Session One opened for business with a one-week session. Amelia and Shannon went to this one. The kids and I went to church, then came home to eat lunch and finish packing for camp. I don't sweat it too much since if they forget something it's not TOO difficult to get it to them. It pays to know the folks in charge.

We arrived at camp in style, on the golf cart for the third summer in a row. Jenny D. helps us on opening days with nursing duties so Ruth and Lydia were along for the ride that day and helped Amelia move into her cabin.

Just like last summer, Bubbles (Angela) and Willow (Rachel) were her counselors and she was in Rockcreek cabin again.

She and Meg were cabin mates. Yay!

Bailey (Daniel and Kristi's niece), Amelia, Ruth, and Meg.

This is the best silly one they could come up with.

On to Shannon's cabin!

He was High Noon again, with Garrison S., A.J., and Elliott. This was A.J.'s first summer at camp. He wasn't about to be left behind this year.

I was feeling a bit sorry for his counselors when I got ready to leave. This is a lively bunch.

He was in the care of FIFA (Brandon) and Bootleg (Owen) for the week.

Camp got off to a great start with several new campers attending that session. One-week sessions tend to have much higher numbers of new campers than two-week ones. I tried to stay as scarce as I could and not follow the kids around with a camera so they could have as normal of a camp session as possible. No other campers had their mothers stalking them. (A friend's son calls her "The Mommarrazi.") They had a terrific week and were thoroughly thrilled and exhausted when it ended.

The day after camp started (Monday, June 4) we welcomed Mimi to camp. She stayed for three weeks, something we look forward to every summer. Jason picked her up and brought her over, and spent a night with us too.

The birthday girl with Mimi and Grandmom.

Jason went home on Tuesday, then Aunt Sherry arrived with London and Harper on Thursday. The girls had visited camp with her two summers before. Neither were sure they would ever want to do camp, and before they left on Saturday they had decided on all of their camp activities for the following summer.

On Friday we had our closing ceremony for Session One. We always have a staff meeting after campers leave, so I went to that while Mimi and Mimi entertained kids.

That night Laura and Voa were scheduled to arrive at the Atlanta airport and would be staying with us for a week. It's the first time we would get to see Voa since December of 2010 when she was two months old and we spent Christmas with the family at the childrens' hospital in Austin. James and I went to pick them up and made a date night out of it with a dinner at Longhorn's in Gainesville on the way. We left my car and the Mimi's took all the kids to Burger King for dinner.

The bus was full.

The booth was full.

The playground was full too.

Amelia had a near meltdown due to tiredness from the week, and kept saying, "I miss camp!" All was better again on Saturday after a good night's sleep.

We got Laura and Voa a little after 10 PM and had a nice drive back up to Cleveland catching up on the past year.

Voa was wide-awake and ready to go the next morning. She was a considerably different little person at 18 months than she was at two months. She's happy and busy, and a lot of fun to have around. We're really glad they came to see us.

On Saturday we were on our own for meals (gasp!) since it was between sessions, and we enjoyed a fun morning playing at home. We also went out to the barn so the kids could ride for a little while. Aunt Sherry had to leave with the girls later that afternoon.

London and Amelia.

The kids threw a surprise party for London with play dough cakes and pastries.

They also got in some TV time.

Before they left we had a photo shoot with the Mimi's. All of Mom H.'s grandkids were present, three of Aunt Sherry's were missing.

I like these of cowboy Shannon.

Saturday was a crazy busy day. While Aunt Sherry and the girls were still here I got a start on Elizabeth and Lydia's cake for their birthday party. I wondered if Lydia (who was turning seven) had gotten too old to share a party with a preschooler, but she was happy to do so for the fourth year in a row. Instead of having it at our traditional Windmill subdivision pool location, we had it at camp that night.

The cake, yet another Barbie princess one. Elizabeth has really gotten into Barbies this year, and Lydia has been interested in them for some time. Both like princesses, so it seemed like a reasonable cake idea. I knew I could do one of those, since this was my fourth or fifth one.

It was nice to have Laura and Voa with us for the party.

The two birthday girls with Aslyn and Bree, who will be four in August. They are in all of Elizabeth's classes at church.

Amelia flipping out with Curtis' help.


Zipline fun was had by all. Here comes Anne.

A.J., who goes further than anyone since he weighs about 50 pounds soaking wet.



Here's the crowd waiting their turn. It worked great having Rebecca in the water at the bottom, until a banded water snake came to visit. She exited quickly. They are often seen in the lake and are, thankfully, non-poisonous. They are curious though, and seem to like swimming near people. We've been able to tell which campers have been to camp for several summers because they are used to them and talk about how "cute" they are. No matter how many summers go by I still think it's creepy to swim with a snake. As the summer goes by we see less and less of them. Maybe they've finally gotten smart and decided swimming with exhuberant kids isn't in their best interest.

Sometimes I open my eyes and take pictures during the prayer.

 Burgers and dogs, chips and salads, YUM!

Pre-dinner antics. Post-dinner this might not have turned out so well.

Setting Barbie on fire. Seven on one side, four on the other.

Lydia didn't want an actual piece of cake, she just wanted to lick the Barbie. Ew.

 All the kids who were present, minus Voa who gave it up a little early.

Moms who also took pictures of all the kids who were present.


Fish squirters!

Sunday the kids and I went to church, then came back in time to eat lunch and welcome a new group of campers for our first two-week session.

We also had some more visitors. Jason and Jenn drove over from Marietta to spend a few days.

They have just announced their engagement, so we'll be getting a new sister-in-law!

The kids and I usually like to join the campers for free swim every afternoon, and we took the family with us.

The kids helped me plant some flowers one afternoon.

The golf cart couldn't accommodate all ten of us, so Jason drove back and forth to the dining hall at meal times too. James was so busy with camp stuff that  he mostly only got to see his family at meals. I sat at the other staff table for a few days so James could join them. It was hard watching someone else fill the kids' plates and cups, make eight trips to the salad bar for them, and  answer all their questions, but I suffered through somehow.

It seemed like a whirlwind visit somewhat, but Jason and Jenn stayed until Wednesday, and Mom and I drove Laura and Voa back to the airport on Friday. (It's a piece of cake to have folks come stay when meals are taken care of!) We thoroughly enjoyed the company. James and I just wonder why none of these folks ever come see us when Mom H. isn't in town. Well, we'll take it however it is!

We actually had some visitors overlap a bit. 

Friday morning, Dad drove up from McDonough, swung by Marietta, and picked up Jordan and Reagan for the weekend. Lisa's grandmother passed away and she and Jonathan (and baby Brynn, our new niece, a month away from being born) had to drive to Florida. I asked them if they'd like to send the girls over to make the trip easier, and they did.

Weekends at camp during a two-week session veer from the regular schedule a bit. On Saturday morning we had a Wild West carnival.

The sheriff  'round these here parts.

Roundin' up the cattle after the shindig ended.

We headed to the house after lunch so the little people could nap, and I found these two cowpokes sitting on the wall outside the house.

That evening we hit swim time with the boys. The girls were camping out, and the boys had a swim party/cook out at the lake.

Here's Avery with his favorite camper, Baylor. I'm not sure why he took such a liking to him, but he yelled like he was seeing a rock star every time we went past him on the golf cart. One day at lunch he ran into the dining hall, straight to Baylor's table, and gave him a huckleberry he had picked at the house. One huckleberry.

Reagan brought me several rocks, saying, "See my seashells?"

Time to wash off the lake water, sand, and sunscreen!

 Sunday was Father's Day, so it was nice to have both my dad and my kids' dad around for the day. The Hicks family joined us for church at camp because Carlton was our guest speaker that morning. Thank goodness for Netflix on the computer, that entertained the smallest people pretty well during church.

Alison and the boys stayed around for the afternoon. Dad had to take Jordan and Reagan home mid-afternoon, so I took them out to the barn to ride first.

Star really has been a very useful pony. She's fun-sized!

Jordan enjoyed riding.

Reagan wasn't a bit scared and kept feeding her grass, about three blades at a time.

Vaulting on horseback (?)

They were nowhere close to being done riding when they had to leave to go home. Dad drove up to the barn in their van, which he had brought the over in, and Jordan said, "I hope that's not Mommy and Daddy." It gave me some consolation to know that my kids aren't the only ones that feel that way about their parents when they're doing something fun!

Alison and I took the kids swimming after the girls left, then they stayed to play Sock War that evening. If throwing socks at other people isn't good for family bonding then I don't know what is.

Monday morning I woke up and breathed deeply. Our only guest was Mom H., and she doesn't count. I worked on my blog a bit, showed up for meals, went to the barn, and made a few weak stabs at cleaning the house. There was some Uno, Monopoly, foosball, ping pong, and Go Fish with the kids thrown in for fun. We were bummed that Mimi would be leaving us that coming weekend.

We chilled Monday and on Tuesday I filled in for our photographer Champ (Laura) who had the day off, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It's a lot of fun to spy on classes, take lots of pictures, and talk to kids all day.

All week I had planned to take Amelia and Shannon to Six Flags on Wednesday, one of the last opportunities I'd have to do it before Mom H. left on Saturday. They oldest two did the Six Flags reading program again, so they earned free tickets and I got one too as their teacher. I half-jokingly asked James if he could just take the day off and go with us, ha ha. Wednesday morning I got us all packed for the day, got in the car, and lo and behold, he jumped in the car with us! He had gotten his responsibilities covered and chose to spend the day with us. He had even gone online and bought his ticket (which was about $10 less than the usual at-the-gate price). We're getting good at doing this day trip thing for cheap.

A photo, snapped with my phone, just inside the Six Flags front gate. This would be the only one we took all day, because we were too busy having fun. (That, and to take my phone out of it's protective waterproof Ziplock covering, which was stuffed in yet another zippy pouch, was too much trouble!) We were happy beyond words that James could be with us, or at least I was, and we had a much more fun day because he was there. We rode things I wouldn't have ridden with just the kids and I, because I didn't want the kids to have to ride something for the first time sitting alone. We rode everything they were tall enough to ride. They still love the Wheelie- I still find it to be hurl-o-rific. This is quite disappointing, as it used to be one of my favorite rides in the park as a younger person. We rode the Ninja three times (a head-banging good time), the Mind Bender, and the Dare Devil Dive, which was a really fun one, along with several others. It was those stupid roundy-round swings that finished me off. Apparently I can't handle anything that spins anymore without feeling the need to barf afterwards. I will go armed with ibuprofen next time to better ward off the after effects of head banging as well. It was a great day with the kids, and we truly had an awesome time. We pulled back into camp about 10:45, totally exhausted. We'll do it again next summer...once a year is often enough for that kind of fun. Avery will be old enough to earn a ticket next time.

Aunt Sherry came back to camp on Thursday. She was going to take Mom H. to the airport on Saturday, because for some reason she thought she needed to go back to her real life like a responsible person. More fun in life has been ruined because people choose to do the responsible thing. Friday we closed down Session Two. After staff meeting and lunch Ringer (Jenna) and I took seven girls on a trail ride. One of our campers was turning 13, and a few months before her mom had arranged with me to surprise her with a birthday party at the barn after camp ended. She truly loves horses and only gets to ride at camp. That's exactly how I would have loved to spend my 13th birthday!

 On Saturday we said goodbye to Mom and Aunt Sherry. The rest of Mom H.'s summer is fairly busy too. She is currently on a mission trip to Canada for a week (she left today), and upon returning will have surgery on her ear for the second time. She has already been to Austin to see Jennifer, and has visited with Jared, Laura, and Voa in Waco.

That gets us to nearly the last week of June. It was a very busy three weeks, full of family fun, visitors, and camp shenanigans. Just the way we like it!

Tune in next time for "Amelia and Shannon at Camp, The Sequel." Yes, we sent our children to camp once again, way out in the wilds of the north Georgia mountains, just out of eyesight of the house. Did I follow them around with the camera this time? You betcha!