February 17, 2014

On turning 40...

I always wondered how I would feel when it was my turn to put a "4" at the front of my age. This picture about sums it up.

I had a weird silent crisis of fear about three years ago, which I told no one about because it seemed so silly. For about four months I was constantly thinking about getting old. I was brooding over the fact that my body would keep aging no matter how I felt about that fact, and that there would come a day when younger people wouldn't consider me to be someone they could relate to. It coincided with the arrival of some definitely noticeable lines on my face (kids, wear your sunscreen!), a few persistent grey hairs which did not (and still don't) have my permission to reside on my head, and an undeniable sag to my under eye area that somehow seems to fill with fluid every night while I sleep. (I've finally decided it must be fluid from the part of my brain that is responsible for remembering things. If not then that goes somewhere every day!) Some mornings I would wake up and the first glance in the mirror would give me a start. WHO is THAT?

These things are vanity, but all the same they are visible reminders of an inescapable future. My brain will still feel young, but my body won't. I will still think I can shop in the juniors' department, but I can't.

The Bible had a lot of helpful tidbits during this time of inward despondency. James 4:14 reminded me, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." I KNOW!! And who could forget Ecclesiastes 12:1? "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them.'"

Don't get me wrong, as a believer I know my future is secure beyond the mortal realm. I've never doubted for a second where I will go when I die, or that I will get the new body I have been promised. It was how my life would be gradually changing here in the physical world, without my consent, that had me introspective and gloomy.

Then slowly, I began to move past it. I believe the Lord "lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (Psalm 40:2) This verse generally seems to apply to sin, but I think it can also work for times when we get in a funk and He's the only one who can hoist us out of it. The enemy is always looking for ways to bring us down.

So, here on the eve of my 40th birthday, I'm happy to report that I am jubilant about being halfway to officially old. (80 is the new 70!) Man, I am BLESSED! Just look at these if you don't believe it:

The absolute LOVES of my life!

The place where people- those whom God made in His image, loves with a love we can only hope and pray to emulate, and died for- gather to draw close to Him and have some serious FUN!

My happy place!!

The beautiful backdrop I get to live my earthly existence against. (Delightful with or without snow.)

These are the pictures I had readily available since I took them this past week, but I could easily fill up 100 blog posts with pictures of blessings.

There are still mornings I lament a bit over the changes age and gravity are making in me, dismissing it as vanity even as I reach for the third product in my growing "bag of tricks" to attempt to diminish the under eye bags or minimize the appearance of wrinkles. But my heart is peaceful, happy, and full. Bring on decade number four!

Oh, and Mom and Dad- Happy 40th anniversary of the day you guys became parents!

January 5, 2014

More silly kids

I thought I'd take a few minutes to type up the funny things the kids have said lately. Now that I have a real phone (James replaced my dumb smartphone with a smart smartphone this summer), I use the Notes program to keep lists. Here are some of the things I have on a list:

Our Ingles in town has a Starbucks in it, and one day I got a coffee while there with the kids grocery shopping. I was pushing the cart while holding my cup when Shannon slips in between me and the cart handle. He said, "Mom, I really don't think you should drink and drive."

One day recently Elizabeth was flitting around the house chanting, "I'm a lava fairy!" I'm afraid to ask what a lava fairy does.

We had a bicycle pump on the front porch for airing up balls during soccer season. Shannon was playing with it, pulling the handle up and pushing it back down like it was an Acme TNT igniter from a Looney Toons show. Then he said, "Hey, now I know why these pumps are made like this. Give me your ball, Amelia, I'll blow it up. Kaboom!"

I've been teaching Elizabeth several things this year by using songs, including days of the week, months of the year, and the Old and New Testaments. I had her sing through a few of them with me, then Shannon said, "Hey Elizabeth, what month is it?" She said, "Genesis?"

I was helping the girls clean up the play room and came across a Barbie with no head. I asked if we could throw the doll away, and Amelia said, "Well, we do play with her. She haunts the doll house. She was a former resident." I had no idea, the games they play.

Speaking of Barbies, out of the blue one morning at breakfast, Shannon looked up and said seriously, "I'd like to see a sumo Barbie."

Sometimes Elizabeth (the fiesty one) and Avery (the one who likes to debate stuff to a point when he knows he's right), were in an argument that was getting louder and louder. "Uh huh!," I heard, then "uh uh!" "UH HUH!" "UH UH!" Elizabeth finally said, "Stop arguing with me!" I've said this to her before, but again I said, "Elizabeth, how do you stop an argument?" The right answer here is, "stop talking." She was already in a huff with tears starting to well but calmed herself down and said, "Avery, would you stop arguing with me please?"

One day Shannon said, "There were two men who went to the moon first. Lance Armstrong and....his friend." We haven't reached that point in our study of American history yet.

My sister-in-law Jeni had to leave not long after we finished Thanksgiving dinner to catch a plane in Atlanta. She was standing next to the counter with the picked over turkey carcass on it so I asked her if she needed another "carrion." Ha ha ha! Ho ho! Hee hee hee! (This may be where the kids get their sillies.)

When we were putting up the Christmas tree and getting out the ornaments I pulled the tree skirt out of a box. Avery said, "That's the tree's dress."

We did advent Bible readings this year leading up to Christmas, and one was about gifts God gives us. James asked the kids what they thought their gifts were, and Elizabeth (again, the fiesty one) looks up sweetly under lowered lashes and said, "My special gift is giving love." Avery immediately replied, "Then why are you always trying to bite us?!"

Love those guys.

December 30, 2013

June and July 2013

Looks like summer has arrived on the Himstedt Homestead blog! I believe in keeping this thing about six months or so behind so when all four of you reading it feel like complaining about the wretched winter weather you will have a place to go and feel all warm and summery.

This is a long post. Just warnin' ya.

After ten days of staff training, which is always a combination of crazy fun and long hours, session one of Strong Rock 2013 opened on June 2. Among the campers, at his first session ever, was this guy.

Avery and his counselor, Surge. People in the real world like to call him Corwin, but not us.

Avery and Shannon were in different cabins. A few of Shannon's friends from church were there, including Andrew and Nelson Charles.

Amelia and Meg, as is always first session tradition, this time together in Pebblebrook cabin. I am very sure I took pictures of Amelia with her counselors Ace and Scrappy but said pictures are nowhere to be found. I hate it when that happens.

2013's theme

Here's the much anticipated tribal selection. For a couple of years Avery was determined to become an Awahili, because he likes the color blue.

What will fate decide?!!!

Are you serious?! RED? I'm a Waya?!

There was a very brief flash of disappointment, almost a few tears, then...

First tribal cheer of the summer.

Elizabeth likes to supervise.

As usual, opening day was rainy. The summer opened with Battle Sock (indoors) instead of Multimate Frisbee (outdoors).

Rambo gets some help leading songs during evening Lifeline.

Counselors braid hair the best!

June 5th, halfway through the first week of camp, was Elizabeth's 5th birthday.

Happy birthday in the Dining Hall!

With two of her favorites, head counselors Hugs and Pivot.

Yet another rainy evening forces an outdoor evening activity indoors. Little did we know this was only foreshadowing of the wet summer to come.

Newspaper party!

Polo lessons during rest hour.

Here's Polo, aka Emily, who actually plays polo at college.

Yes, it's the directors' kid who doesn't have on a shirt that matches the rest of his tribe for Tribal Council games.

Hard at work solving the world's problems with Pivot again.

I thought this was a rather funny shirt for someone supervising this particular game.

The last night of every session ends with a fire, skill awards, and a final Lifeline (devotion).

Shannon received a skill award.

Here's Daniel (Bacon) and his two cutie pies Carver and Carson at the closing program. Notice the boys' shirts. The staff call the two of them "Bacon Bits."

Rebecca, who has been dubbed Sprinkles (because she's "on top" of everything), office manager extraordinaire, and wonderful personal friend.

The Waya took home the coveted Pride of the Tribe award for spirit and good sportsmanship.

Session one ended on Friday and Saturday we had Elizabeth and Lydia D.'s birthday party.

She asked for a cat cake, so I did the best I could. Turns out about half the partiers didn't care for coconut, so maybe that wasn't the best choice for cat fur! Maybe cat fur shouldn't be on a cake anyway...

The other birthday girl and some silly boys.

Lydia turned eight this year. This is the fifth birthday party they have shared.

Somebody decided the cat needed eyeballs, so grapes were added. We had to re-light it about five times because the wind kept blowing out the candles.

Me and some buds.

The party was a success and much fun was had by all.

Mimi and Papa missed the party by just a couple of days. School ended for her and he drove her over to stay for a few weeks.

Papa likes to take the boys fishing at the lake.

They didn't catch much but they had fun trying.

During the weekend which fell in the middle of second session (a two-week session) we had some fun visitors.

Jonathan and Lisa went to North Carolina to celebrate their anniversary so the girls got to stay with us.

A Mimi is a Mimi wherever she goes, even if she's not the Mimi of these particular grandkids.

This montage of photos captures Avery's personality pretty well. He was telling a story about a fish he almost caught and I just kept snapping pictures.

On Saturday we went to the Star Wars themed carnival on the field.

Little girls love face paint.

Brynn was my little buddy all weekend in the absence of her folks.

Cousins Bailey, Gracyn, and Cody came to this session of camp. Bailey can't resist a baby or toddler.


My cousin Casey filled in at the last minute as our second session nurse. Jaidyn came to visit her for the day.

You frontin' me, fool?

We didn't quite make it back to the house for Brynn's morning nap.

Lake time!

Amelia discovered a fun new trick with her bathing suit.


We enjoyed our time with the girls and on Sunday, Fathers' Day, their parents came to get them back. Love those nieces!

The next day, Monday the 17th, Amelia went to camp again for five days. The Woodlands is here in Cleveland, and is run by my running/exercise buddy Julie's husband Big Jon.

It's a bit different than Strong Rock, so the change was fun for her.

It's especially fun when you have a friend to spend the week with (again)!

Amelia and Big Jon.

They have a fun lake front.

They shared a cabin with a BUNCH of girls, and their counselor Brianna.

She had a terrific week. Mercifully it didn't rain very much, which was becoming an unusual thing for this summer. We picked her up on Friday, the day second session of Strong Rock ended.

And then she packed up and went to camp AGAIN on Sunday, along with Shannon and Avery.

Here's what we use to move into cabins. The oldest two can drive now.

Shannon was in the cabin with Trevor K. and Elliott.

His counselor was Yeti (Jake).

Avery was in a lively cabin with A.J. and counselor Leo (Peter), who was himself a camper for several summers. It's very gratifying to see campers moving up into important roles here.

Foreshadowing of sillies to come, I'm afraid.

Amelia had a fun session with several girls she knew and her counselors Dora (Hayden) and Ace.

Back in this cabin again, after three summers in Rock Creek.

Ruth and Sarah were in her cabin, along with Jaidyn who must have been running around somewhere else when I took this picture.

So was London, her cousin from SC. This was London's first camp experience.

Here are a few random pictures from the session. Amelia took tumbling as one of her skill classes.

Fun during free swim time.


This is my typical summer look. Shorts, t-shirt, and old man hat from the feed store.

Mama Norma, as she's called around here. 

Several fine, upstanding, responsible citizens of Strong Rock, eager and ready to take care of your child.

This one stole Elizabeth's scooter!

Here are campers during Willie Wonka's Gobstopper Grab. Running from the crazy dressed ones is part of the excitement.

"Mommy, take my picture on this rock," she says. Okay.

Really, you never know what you'll see around here.


Shannon took Drumline as a skill class, where kids learn about rhythms and beats and do a performance at the end of the week.

Amelia took Team Sports class, and learned a few things about football.

Maggie and Shannon were canoeing partners.

Arts and Crafts

Visiting Outdoor Living class.

This was shelter building day.

Back to Arts and Crafts for a washable paint manicure.

London shows the Mimi's what she made. Mimi #2 (Aunt Sherry) came to visit and brought London's sister Harper and cousin Nolan.

Free time in the Lodge before lunch.

Apparently Shannon is some kind of bumper pool shark.

Ruth and Amelia playing with Nolan and Harper.

We also had a visit from Tozer and Alison. 

We went to the barn after lunch. All the 4 feet and under crowd love Star.

Here's London during her riding class.

Elliott on one of my favorite ever summer leases, April the mule. She's a very pleasant creature and I hope her owners will let her come back next summer.

Sarah and Teddy, reunited once again.

Lydia on Star.

Here are some climbing class pictures. Maggie is getting to be an expert after so many years of coming to camp.

Amelia loves to climb too.

Here we are at the end of the week, another Tribal Council, another session almost over.

Here are two of my lovely barn ladies, Pony and Polo, with...a wolf.

I'll be darned if Avery is in the wrong color shirt again! I packed one for him the said "Waya" on it this time, and he forgot about it.

It's amazing how Tribal Council always brings out the staff's previously hidden gymnastic talents.

It wasn't actually raining, but the sky and radar were threatening so the final (campfire) part of Tribal Council evening were moved indoors. Rambo doesn't love to get caught out in the rain with his guitar and papers and tablet with no shelter nearby. It did end up raining for about five minutes.

I walked outside while the campers were in the gym and took some pictures of the weird clouds.

This could almost pass as a tornado forming except it was a fluffy cloud and wasn't moving. I thought it looked cool.

Closing day ceremony.

Tumbling class had a final performance for the parents. Shannon took tumbling this time.


Here's the Drumline performance.

Guess who got the Pride of the Tribe award again?

Jenny D. was our camp nurse for the session. Here she is in all her loveliness. :) It's fun when favorite friends come into the camp bubble for extended periods!

Curtis had rigged her up a medical transport to use for the week. The kids hitched a ride back to the Lodge after the ceremony ended.

Just like that, another session ends and a month is gone. In two days another two-week session would start. Happy July everybody!

I wasn't here for this event, but I thought it was worth mentioning since it was a big deal. My dad, Jonathan, and Lisa ran the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta this year on July 4.

Speaking of exercise, here's my early morning summer Crossfit crew at The Woodlands camp. Summer nights were late but getting up early to exercise was still worth it.

The next photos are assorted ones from Session Four, a two-week session. Session Three was the last one our kids attended for the summer.

Lo and behold, more rain, more Newspaper Party!

Also, more Star Wars.

Obi-Wan Sleeping Bag.

Yikes, Darth Maul.

One of the great things about a two week session is that we get to do church on Sunday with campers.

Stretch (Andrew) from summers one and two, as a guest speaker. So cool!

Yeah, we put in a pool at camp over the weekend. Actually Bella W. from church turned five, and we all showed up to help her celebrate during week two of the session.

Elizabeth can go solo in the deep end now.

Avery learned to dive today!

Okay, back to camp.

This is how riding instructors like Blaze (Kara) de-stress. Sitting on a barrel amidst the dust and poo of the riding arena is surprisingly effective at helping one achieve a state of zen.


Lydia, Ruth, and Maggie got to come back to camp for two weeks with Bennett who had aged out of one week sessions.

These pictures are a bit sad to post because this mare, Sophia, was put down in November. She was a little lame off and on through the summer, but in August she started a steady decline and became emaciated and clearly not her usual chipper self. The vet diagnosed cancer.

She had a great last summer.

Rambo gets to instruct the older campers in the fine art of skeet shooting for a few days during two week sessions.

Bennett D.

That's my cousin, Scarlett (Sarah) teaching young folks how to handle guns.

Maggie on a patient critter, Sara. (Clearly different than the Sarah above. One has an "h" on the end of their name, the other doesn't.)

Fortress, a new evening game, NOT rained out for a change.

Shannon doesn't realize others are bigger than him.

This again.

Another Sunday rolls around.

We were privileged to have Jason join the band this Sunday.

These two wrote a song about our summer theme. I should go try to find it and post it here. Good stuff!

Our special guest speaker was our long time buddy Matt McCord from way back in Camp WinShape days. I actually grew up with him. James got to know him when they were counselors together. Camp friendships are long lasting and deep.

This day was particularly special because it was July 21, Amelia's 10th birthday!

She and I left after the service for an afternoon of fun together.

Pedicures first.

Then to the Sunflower for lunch (her choice), then we headed to the outlet malls in Dawsonville for some shopping and hang out time. I thought we'd go to the Mall of Georgia but she really wanted to get back to camp in time for Sock War. Priorities!

More free swim lake fun.

Shannon loves the zip line.

It's already time for another Tribal Council evening!

Our fearless head counselors and program directors. We would lost without the tireless work of these guys and girls.

One more closing program, and we shut the book on Fourth Session. There would be one more two week session, then we wrapped up the summer. It rained a bunch more as the summer progressed. That kind of weather keeps program staff hopping to figure out if the schedule will continue as normal or if they have to substitute in a last minute change. The positive to it was that it never got too hot. Most days were below 90. We've never gone through so many sweatshirts in the camp store!

What a great summer. It's always sad to see camp come to an end.

After closing Fifth Session on Friday, we headed to Marietta to celebrate the birthdays of two special little people on Sunday.

Reagan turned four in June, and Jordan turned six that week.

Brynn with her grandma from Miami.


Look who's walking!

What's better than a party where you can get wet and do art too?

After we partyed down on Sunday, we turned around and did it again on Monday.

It started with a super fun tubing trip down the Chattahoochee through Helen. Friends met us there for a picnic lunch then we got our tubes, bussed it to the start of the ride, and enjoyed just over an hour of adventure and excitement. The over abundance of rain made it a quick trip and the teeny rapids were moving along nicely. Avery got dumped twice, which he was none too thrilled about.

The big folks who brought the little folks, who also happen to be some of my favorite people!

Apparently I didn't get the memo that we were doing a crazy one.

When we finished, six girls came over to help Amelia celebrate her birthday a week late with a spend the night party. Shannon went to the Davidsons for the night, which worked out great. He tends to be the stirrer-upper when it comes to all things obnoxious. (Sorry Shannon, it's true!)

Maggie, Lydia, Meg, Jacey, Ruth, and Abbey.

Present time!

A birthday message from friends.

We made cupcakes earlier in the afternoon, then it was time to decorate. I knew this could go awry many ways, but everything is clean uppable.

Poor Avery was the only dude present. He didn't mind though, and any misgivings he may have had were erased by icing.

They also made suncatchers.

It was a late night for everyone but Amelia! I guess the tubing did her in because she was asleep pretty quick and the others all needed another whole movie to finish them off.

Play the next day was fun too. Meg had to leave early to see grandparents, but everyone else enjoyed some time outside. And inside. And outside again. And inside.

The party was a success, and the summer was a success. I keep reveling in the fact that I am a very, very blessed individual. This is a great life! Thank you Jesus!