Monday, May 25, 2009


This year, we decided to take our vacation as a springboard from our school studies.  We have spent the time since Christmas studying Colonial America, the American Revolution, and the Constitution.  Since we only live 3 hours from the "Historic Triangle" it seemed like the perfect trip.  So, we spent last week visiting Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.  

We had a great time.  The place we rented actually slept 12, so the first 2 nights another family from our homeschool co-op stayed with us and the remaining nights my parents and 2 of my aunts joined us.   It was fun having other folks along.  Abe did really well considering the large amounts of stroller time and lack of normal naps.  Here are some photos of our week away.


The Nemitz and the Campbell kiddos in a pretty Williamsburg garden

Isaac and Lily at the end of day 1- zonked out on the couch!

The man who would not be king.

Day 3- Alexa and Lizzy trying on some armor at the Jamestown Settlement

Abe didn't especially enjoy the matchlock gun demonstration, but most of the others thought it was cool.  
The Campbell girls grinding corn outside a wigwam.

The whole tribe in a Powhatan dugout canoe

My three beauties showing their courtesies at Williamsburg on day 4.  Thanks to Grandma and her sewing talents, they fit right in.

Lily in the garden at the Wythe House in Colonial Williamsburg.

Abby sunning in the garden too.

Lizzy playing this year's piano recital piece on a harpsichord in Colonial Williamsburg.
Isaac reclining in a tree with his trusty musket.

Abe took to the pool after a day or two.

On Wednesday, our dear seminary friends, the McManameys came to visit us.  This is all of our children marching to the pool for the afternoon.
Lily enjoying some pool time.

Lizzy with her beloved Pocahontas.  She was so excited to see her as she had chosen to make her the topic of her year-end report.  This day at Historic Jamestown was probably one of our favorites.  This was National Park site where the actual fort was and we got to watch the archaeologists and see many of the artifacts they've found.  The kids completed the Jr. Ranger program and were very proud of their badges.  They especially loved the glassblower.  I highly recommend a visit!  

This was our last full day.  Isaac convinced his daddy to try on the breeches at the Yorktown Victory center.
Aren't they precious?
Abe was not loving the dress-up concept!

Soldier Isaac with his accoutrements.

Lizzy. taking on the role of quartermaster.

Lizzy, lounging in the sun.

Two pretty girls in a colonial kitchen at the Yorktown Victory Center.

Abe, glad to be free from the stroller.

Ryan and the kiddos climbing the earthenworks at the Yorktown Battlefield.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May Day Fun

As I mentioned in my previous post, Ryan's parents came to visit for Mother's Day weekend. The kids really wanted Nana and Pap to go strawberry picking with them, so we drove them out to Vollmer farms, our favorite agritourism spot.  The afternoon resulted in a sunburn for me and some strawberry pies for everyone else.  Fun was had by all. We're still eating the fruits of that afternoon.

Notice, Abe has been given the Billy Goat head. 

As you can see, Abe enjoyed the homemade ice cream.

Yes, I am taking a photo of Abe licking a rock that he has just dipped in a bucket of nasty water used to mimic cow milking.  I figure, if you can't beat 'em, photograph 'em.

We also participated in Baby Dedication at our church.  Just so you know, there is a reason why it's called "Baby" Dedication.  Let the record show, I am not an advocate for toddler dedication, if it can be avoided.  This is because it is pretty much a given that putting a toddler on the stage in front of an entire congregation will probably result in some unwanted attention on the family of the toddler.  In our case, Abe decided to show his more aggressive side.  I've been working with him a lot on not hair pulling, pushing, and hitting.  These are behaviors that he has known well since we met him.  Basically, he's a bully, though a very loveable one.  So, while we were on the stage Sunday AM and Ryan was attempting to lead the Baby Dedication portion of the service, Abe was at the perfect vantage point for hitting Isaac and Lizzy on the head.  I just kept taking his hand and rubbing it on my face and saying "gentle, gentle hands."  Now, this technique has begun to work at home.  Not on the stage at church.  He simply went from hitting to hair pulling.  Fortunately, the other children just tolerated it while we waited to be dismissed from the stage.  I suppose it's one more story I can reflect on someday when I'm looking back at how very far we've come.  We weren't able to get a fabulous photo, but here's a couple of attempts.

Special Occasions, The Reality

If someone had told me 14 years ago that getting married on the same weekend as Mother's Day was not a good idea, I feel confident I would not have listened to them.  I should have.  It seemed like a great idea at the time.  Ryan and I were so young and so ready to get married that it seemed like the first weekend after our college exams would be the perfect time to go for it.  

Then we tried to get a florist, that experience should have clued me in.  Did you know that florists don't do weddings on Mother's Day weekend?  Apparently Mother's Day is a big deal.  It took 3 florists to get our flowers covered.  One did my bouquet, another was willing to take the flowers for the wedding party, and another took care of the candelabras and decorative flowers.  That meant nothing to a young bride like me, I was in love and I wanted to get married.

Fast forward 14 years.  Now I'm the mom of 5, and I'm tired.  Life has been especially trying the last few months and though I desperately want something to celebrate, I don't have the energy to make it happen.  The last thing I need is not one, but two things that should be acknowledged and hoorahed over.  So I muster the energy to clean my house and prepare for all the grandparents to come and celebrate Mother's Day.  I make it through the weekend with a pitiful attempt at a gift for the grandmas, knowing they deserve so much more than I have managed to muster up.  I struggle with the guilt of knowing it's a pathetic excuse at thanking them for all the sacrifices they've made for the past 30 something years.  I smile at the sweet offerings of thanks that my children and husband bring and think about how much I love them and about how they deserve so much more from me too.

Then I take a nap.  After all, Monday is coming and the Iowa tests are waiting, along with the extra laundry that comes from a weekend of house guests.  I wake up and vaguely consider the fact that our anniversary is just 2 days away.  I realize I have no plan, I ought to fix that, then I go start a load of laundry.  

I wake up on the morning of May 12th and get ready for a morning at the office.  We've got an especially important staff meeting at the church office today and then I need to get each of the kids through another IOWA testing session before our 4:30 piano lessons.  I look at my sweet sleeping husband and remember, oh, it's our anniversary!  I nudge him, tell him "Happy Anniversary," and head out the door, thinking to myself that I ought to at least pick up a card on my way back to the house.  

The day progresses- I managed to remember to stop and pick up turtle food, while forgetting the card.  I managed to get all the kids through a testing session, while forgetting to put the chicken in the crock pot.  It's a wash.  Finally, 3:45 the phone rings.  My husband calls to ask me what's for dinner and I confess my irresponsibility with the crockpot.   He informs me that it's okay because he's scheduled a sitter and we're going out.  Ah, that man, I love him!   A whole evening of uninterrupted conversation lies ahead.  I quickly change clothes so that I can be ready to leave as soon as we return from piano.  I find the time to stop by the CVS and at least get a card to contribute to the occasion.  Now, we're on the right track!

The next 90 minutes go off flawlessly.  Before I know it, we're headed down 401 toward freedom.  My tastebuds are already anticipating the hot meal I' m going to eat and the dishes I'm not going to wash.  Now, this is worth celebrating.  Phone rings.  The sitter explains that Lily just threw up all over the bathroom.  U-turn.  Frustration.  Hardee's drive-thru on the way home.  I hurry in to my poor, sick baby and send the sitter off with great apologies.  Fifteen minutes pass and Lily looks at me and asks if she can go outside and play.  I roll my eyes, look at my husband and laugh at the reality that is my life.   I take comfort in the fact that it is one of many seasons.

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.