January 1, 2013

September at last

Ah, September at last. Time warping forward and backwards is entirely possible in blogging world. 

Before I begin this post, I will complain just one more time about the lack of quality photography. Old Reliable, the good camera, was misbehaving at this point and taking either blurry or overexposed pictures. I hadn't given in and starting using Crappy yet. So, less than satisfactory photos. Okay, end of disclaimer.

The first weekend in September was Family Camp weekend at camp. All four of our kids were finally big enough to play during a Family Camp and I think our family may have had the most fun of all. We knew several families, though as usual, I didn't get pictures of everyone. (If you like the word "family," then this is the paragraph for you!)

On Friday evening we played Multimate Frisbee. This was Avery's first official participation in a camp game, and he was pretty stoked about it.

Alex Anne and Elizabeth, representing the green team. We don't do "real" camp tribes because it's too confusing.

This one brings back memories. It's our friend Betsy, who worked with us at Camp Winshape (ahem) nearly 20 years ago. Her son has come to Strong Rock the past few summers.

The kids went to several activities on Saturday. We open camp skill classes for families to do.

She went exactly five feet up the wall and was done.

The boys enjoyed shooting.

This is Carly, age four, the daughter of our friend Jeff who we've also known since Camp WinShape days. Her big sister attends camp.

She went a little further than five feet up the wall. It was a little disturbing to see such a small person up so high!

Alex Anne and Anne.

Carly and Elizabeth were big buddies that weekend.

Teams competed in relays and games Saturday evening.

Avery gets high fives from the yellow team.

Four year old secrets are bound to be interesting...

James demonstrates proper toilet paper tossing technique.

Go Amelia! Chunk that t.p!

Dice stacking..

Here's my college friend, Joy. Her family came to Family Camp for the first time, along with another college friend Shannon, and her family. I neglected to get pictures, of course! The Lawson family from church was there for the first time as well.

Go Anne, go!

Pyramid cup building contest.

Which team can kick all of their shoes onto the table first?

Apparently, the green team.

The dads got to participate in cup flipping, trying to get a cup to land on top of a bottle.

Some were pretty good. Perhaps harkening back to college days...?

Red Solo cups, no less.

Yay for Yellow Team Dads!

Rambo gave the Evening Lifeline, as usual.

Touche, little guy, touche.

See the dragon? Elizabeth did. If not, you can make up your own picture.

An ice cream sundae party makes a great end to any evening.

Shannon made new friends over the weekend as well.

Here's some awesome Strong Rock staff! I wish they could stay year 'round. I think most of them do too.

Family Camp was a success, and so much fun. We love it!

Later that week we headed out for our end-of-summer family vacation with Mom, Dad, Jonathan and Lisa, and the girls.

This was akin to our August anniversary getaway, in that it was within 45 minutes of home. My folks have friends who have a second home on Lake Seed. It's a small reservoir, between Lake Rabun and Lake Burton. It's only 240 acres, and is long and narrow. It was plenty big for four days of fun, though. We had a great time!

The front of the house makes it look considerably smaller than it really is. There were a few steps down to the water.

The first thing we did after unloading the car was get in the water, of course. The kids did anyway, it was a bit on the frigid side for me. Jonathan's family arrived a few hours after we did.

There were several nice homes with pavilion type party docks. It was a beautiful setting between the mountains.

Avery spent lots of time trying to catch stuff.

A teeny perch! Success!

We enjoyed the pontoon boat. Cruising up and down the lake was nice.

Our house's boathouse.

Fishing, again.


We rode all the dang way to the dam end of the lake.

Here's the first of several tongue sticking out pictures.  Perhaps they were all trying to tell the camera how unhappy they were with its performance.

 Scrabbling after breakfast. James, tongue out.

Amelia says this is the "bow tie of shame," a repurposed Smarties wrapper reserved for the Scrabble loser. Grandad's just modeling it though, he never loses at Scrabble.

We enjoyed the kayaks, too.

Dad and I tried to see how far we could go before our arms wore out. He and James topped that by a bunch the next day, paddling to the next lake's dam and then back against the current. They were gone three hours.

A short walk from the house was an awesome waterfall the kids enjoyed playing in.

Mmm, sandy mud.

Good old-fashioned fun on a protruding branch that rides like a bucking bronco. Yee haw!



Jonathan, king of the waterfall.



The kids were content to play at the waterfall for two hours. 

We took the boat out several more times during our stay.

Pontoon tubing fun! 

Getting some air.

Elizabeth, me, and Jordan.

Reagan and Avery gave it a try too.

Three Himstedts.

Shannon, doing the tubing dance.

I was also able to ski behind the pontoon boat. That was the slowest skiing ever, but as little as I get to do it it was still fun.

What's with the tongues?

Stupid boat rides are so boring. Bleh.

Shannon picked up a leaf from a front porch plant and said, "How nature says, 'I love you.'" Awwww.

Back to the waterfall for some more cold water fun. Would you like a Mudslide?

Yeah, it's cold.

Sand castles.

See the rainbow I have made for you?

Just standing in a river, hanging out in the rhododendrons. The usual.



This was Brynn's first family vacation.

Cousins around the breakfast table.

Thursday was departure day. We arrived without James the first day, because he rode his bike there to meet us. An Ironman in training has to get his miles in. He also left several hours before we did going home. He mapped out a route that took him the long way, to get in more miles. I think it was an 80 mile or so ride that day.

Bye! Be safe! I love you! See you this evening!

We enjoyed some more time on the lake before heading home.

Avery enjoyed some more fishing time.

It's the Ninja Fisherman, hi-yah! Showin' those fish whose boss.

Until he tangles his line, that is, and then Classic Avery takes over. We're still working on asking nicely for help when we have a problem, instead of letting default mode take over.

On the boat again. Just can't wait to get on the boat again.

The girls enjoyed making lake water soup a la sand, sticks, and rocks, with a garnish of floaty green algae things fresh from the water's surface. Seconds, anyone? Firsts? No?

That afternoon we ate all the leftovers, scoured the house for stray toys and belongings, cleaned up, packed the car, and headed home. It was a super fun week of just relaxing and enjoying time together as a family. I've decided I most enjoy vacations where there's no real schedule or pressure to go do things. It's fun just to play with the kids and hang out with each other. We definitely appreciated use of the house and boat for the week. The short drive home was wonderful too, and for the second time this year I remembered why people love to come to the mountains for downtime.

One Friday mid-September at home we heard and then saw a helicopter come over the house, barely topping the trees. I wondered if it was in trouble, then I was pretty sure I heard it land in our playing field below the house. The kids and I hopped on the golf cart, and sure enough, there was a helicopter sitting on the field.

Some guys from Tennessee had flown it over to participate in a weekend retreat put on by Souly Business, a Christian businessmen's ministry that uses our facility about four times a year.

That was a first, and it was so cool! Ah, to be wealthy enough to turn a 3 1/2 hour twisty, mountainous trip into a one hour straight shot to your destination. I would take this baby to the grocery store.

It stayed parked there all weekend, and we made sure we were there to see its departure.

Isn't it weird how the camera captured the blades? Looks like they're not even moving. It pretty much hurricaned us sitting on the golf cart, though.

The next Monday we took a PE field trip to Yonah Skate and Bowl. The skating side was slated to close within the month. Talk about a bummer. Cleveland already has nothing by way of entertainment, and now it has even less than nothing.

Avery's just starting to get it figured out, too.

I guess we'll drive 200 miles to go skating from now on, like we do for everything else. Oh well.

That evening, Monday the 17th, we welcomed Papa who came to visit for few days. Jason picked him up at the Marta station and drove him to Cleveland. He stayed Monday to Thursday and enjoyed a few days of playing with grand kids and fly fishing. Here's where the pictures of his visit go:

Next time I'll take some.

We didn't like saying goodbye to him, but the let down was tempered a bit by a visit from Mimi!  She was in town for the Women of Faith conference, where she and Aunt Sherry worked at a World Vision table as they do every year. Aunt Sherry delivered her to camp and she stayed with us the Saturday after Papa left on Thursday through Monday. It was a short but nice visit.  We're still looking forward to the day she can come and not have to go away!

She went to church with us on Sunday, and I got out the Reliable Turned Sorry camera for a few pictures. Mimi's good about making sure we take Sunday morning pictures.

That day also happened to be a very special day, September 23rd, Avery's 6th birthday!

A real party was to follow in a week or so, and since there was no cake that day we stuck a candle in his bread at lunch. :)

Make a garlic toast wish and blow out the candle!

He did have presents, though, including a Baylor shirt from Mimi.


Hero Factory! His exuberance is awesome.

Later that afternoon we went to a local corn maze. It is owned by the family of Mrs. Tasha, the kids' pottery teacher.

And we're in corn.

More corn.

Corn, again.

They punched their cards when they got to each destination on the map.

Since it was Avery's birthday, he was the navigator.

Mimi gave the kids a quick corn lesson. Kids being raised in the country should know something about agriculture. Kids whose mom is into saving time, however, may have only experienced frozen or canned corn up to this point.  Maybe.

Children, and parents, of the corn.

The North Georgia Corn Maze has a lovely view of Mt. Yonah.

And a lovely view of corn.

I am happy to report that we got out of the the maze without any trouble. I was prepared to shuck and roast some corn for dinner had we truly been lost, but it turned out okay.

The kids also got to jump on hay bales, an activity they do nearly every day at the barn. This was different hay though, so it was a different experience.

There was also a petting zoo.

This dude had some FUNKY teeth.

Monday we had to say goodbye to Mimi.We don't like saying goodbye to Mimi and Papa.

The next weekend we had a visit from my cousin Ashley and her husband Michael, and their girls Caroline, Camilla, and Anna. It was fun hanging out with them, and the kids enjoyed playing with little second cousins. (Or third, or once removed...I can't keep that stuff straight. They are the daughters of my first cousin, that I know for sure.)

In between all the fun we also slogged through the daily routine of real life. This ruthless mama/teacher even made the kids do school work while grandparents were in town. I'm on a mission to finish the school year in May. James continued to train daily for the Ironman, swimming three EARLY mornings a week at Brenau college, running long miles, and riding his bike endlessly on the weekends and evenings, often going nowhere in the basement.

The last Friday in September we took a field trip to see the play The Frog Prince in Gainesville, put on by the local children's theater group. After that we joined some home school friends for lunch at a park. Shannon missed it because, admittedly with some trepidation on my part, he joined Curtis and Bennett D. for a guys' weekend in Tennessee. Friday morning they left for the Dixie Run, a four-wheelin', Jeepin', MAN's adventure. Thankfully Curtis is good about taking pictures.

Welcome to Sparta, Tennesee.

Chad K. and his dad and boys went too, so Shannon had lots of dudes to hang out with.

Don't let its lack of exterior covering fool you. This ride costs more than our two vehicles and four kids put together.

But aren't they cool!

A mom doesn't even want to know what might be said (or done) around a man's weekend campfire.

Shannon and Trevor.

Chad and his dad and boys.

Gah! Here's what was going down all weekend. The boys said this thing actually made it through and kept going!

There was also R/C rock crawling.

And then there was campsite manual powered rock crawling. Shannon took a variety of buggies and monster trucks in anticipation of the event.

On the way home they visited Cumberland Caverns.

I hope the sign labeled "Exit" isn't really the cave exit...

Cave Ninjas?

Curtistown. Poplation: 1.

He came back safe, sound, dirty, and thoroughly happy Sunday evening. Thanks, Curtis and Bennett, for giving him a fun weekend!

Saturday while he was gone we participated in a memorial bike ride at church in honor of Todd Sumption. One of his son Kory's birthday wishes was to go on a bike ride with his dad. This kills me. Some wonderful friends at church (the Taltons) organized the bike ride, and a bunch of folks showed up to ride bikes, scooters, and tricycles. Door prizes were given, and money was raised for the Sumption family.

I got one picture before the camera batteries died. Old Crappy eats batteries. I'm used to a rechargeable battery with a long life, so I hadn't brought extra ones.

Avery, not yet a bike rider, rode our Rip Rider the entire route through the Windmill subdivision. It's a tricycle-looking deal but the back wheels are on casters so it does 360's with the turn of the handlebars. It was fun keeping it going in a straight line!

September was a busy month. I feel other things of note may have happened as well, but if there are no pictures on my camera, there is no memory of it in my brain! I've also started teaching weekly riding lessons to a home schooled teenager on Thursdays, and to Amelia, Maggie, and Sara Sumption on Mondays. It's fun to be at the barn, sharing what I love with kids. If I wasn't also a mom, teacher, camp owner, and manager of the home front I would enjoy teaching riding lessons more regularly.

Well, there's September. Extended vacation time away from home seems to be the only way to get this blog caught up! We've been in Missouri for the past four days and head home tomorrow. :( Back to life, back to reality. If I'm good I may be able to squeeze in October before I leave. If not, catch you next year!