30 Blog Challenge · amelia · Paynes

Random Acts of…Aunts

Amelia’s reaction to her aunt’s new art…all captions courtesy of my mama.

Oh, boy, pictures!
What, Mama, you want me to look at a picture of Aunt Calley’s new tattoo?
Oh, Aunt Calley….
What were you thinking?
This is Calley’s new tattoo.  She loves music and the sentiment of mixed tapes.  She is not a fan of strapless dresses, conservatism, or her sisters’ opinions.  Actually, she was trying to distract from the chaos of our other sisters lives.  Love you Calley!
http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · Paynes · summer

Camping in the Rain (in July)

It appears that we are the cause.  The cause of rain that is.  I thought this gift belonged to the NHMS soccer teams because everytime they have a game, it rains.  But apparently, we too are a cause.  Everytime the Bracketts plan a camping trip, it rains.

Back in May I decided that we needed to extend our stay-cation just a bit and camping was an affordable and fun (and work-filled) way to do this.  So, I relied on the trusty National Recreation Reservation Service (i.e. my mom) and booked us a site at Oconee Point on Lake Hartwell.  We invited some friends to join us and the Hollands were game.  Well, Scott and the girls were.  Noelle was pretty sure she’d prefer the Comfort Suites.

I grew up on Hartwell and Russell lakes because my parents are Corps of Engineers and used to take us boating, camping, fishing, all that good outdoorsy stuff I want my children to experience.  Plus, Joshua’s an Eagle Scout so I feel like we should spend more time in the woods using those skills.

Boy is camping different when you have to be the one in charge instead of just the one enjoying yourself.

We packed the van (and I do mean packed, we’re going to have to invest in one of the pods for the roof) and left the house in a downpour.  It’ll be gone by the time we get an hour north we told ourselves.

Whatever, it was following us.  It rained the whole way to the campground and didn’t stop until we were sitting in the car wondering how we were going to unload to get to the tent that was on the bottom and then set it up in the rain.

We finally got camp set up and were eating our dinner of sandwiches when the Hollands arrived around 10 p.m.  Scott had no trouble pitching their tent in the dark and we sat around by lantern light and blessed the rain now, since it had cooled down the temps and made sleeping bearable.

The next morning the kiddos were up bright and early (think prior to 7 a.m.).  We spent the day swimming the lake, walking the campground, fishing for brim, grilling all sorts of yummy burgers and steak and deer backstrap (thanks, Scott!), and riding on the boat with Corey and Alaina.

My brother gets the uncle gold star this week.  He and Alaina came up from Hot-lanta and brought my parents’ old pontoon that Corey has converted to his fishing boat.  They also brought Butter, their water-savvy Golden Retriever, and Jasper, my mom’s only-Golden-in-the-world-who-can’t-swim.
We had a good time with the puppies (Scott and Noelle had also brought their basset, Sadie).  They chased balls in the water, jumped off the boat, and searched the island beach for prey.  Jasper even swam a little in an effort to catch some geese.  Corey helped him out by putting the noodle under him.  Hilarious!

We weathered a brief shower under the picnic shelter and then headed out on the lake.

On Saturday night we sat around the campfire trading stories about family and alternately yelling at the girls to go to sleep.  Sunday morning came early again and Corey is now my favorite sibling because he had the coffee ready when we got up at dawn again.

The Hollands had to head out about mid-day, so we spent Sunday afternoon on the boat riding the new toy Corey and Alaina headed off to Anderson to get and letting Granddaddy bond with Amelia.

Sunday night was quiet once it was just us and everyone had gone.  We went to bed early and woke in the middle of the night to….the sound of rain.

Which meant that when we packed up on Monday morning everything was wet and muddy.  Typical.

But a good time, nonetheless!

motherhood · Paynes

First Days with Five

No, I have not time warped into my future and seen myself as the mother of five.  The chances of that are about as good as the chance that Amelia will sleep all night.

Instead I’m hosting my niece and sister this week since it’s VBS and if I’m going to have 5 kids it might as well be at a time when they can attend pre-planned activities with someone other than me.  Disclaimer: Audrey doesn’t like being called a kid, but since she’s 14 and my baby sister, I’ll call her whatever I want.  I could really embarrass her and refer to her as Weetsie for the rest of this post, but she is being rather helpful and I don’t want to tick her off.

In addition to Audrey, the helpful teenager, I’ve got my niece who is 8 weeks older than Annabelle and almost as entertaining.  So far she has walked through the Mall of Georgia singing about how she’s afraid of thunderstorms, named off which of her aunts she finds the scariest (not me), and picked our beautiful yellow calla lily next to the mailbox.  Hmmmm….maybe entertaining isn’t the right word.  And she only wants to eat Doritos.  For breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  For that matter, Doritos are about all Audrey wants to eat as well, and she refuses to share.  So now who’s the kid?

They’ve been here since Sunday afternoon and things are going pretty well considering that it’s a crazy week and I’ve already used up my patience quota for the month.  The girls don’t want to nap, but they tend to crash by 8:30 and sleep all night (excluding baby Amelia) and I’ll take that.

Monday was very productive, or at least I thought so until I realized that even though I had vacuumed, done dishes, laundry, made dinner, and been to Jazzercise, I had not made my kids animal costumes for VBS.

Today was crazy due to weather and my belief that I can accomplish more with 5 kids than I can with 3.  We do have a Father’s Day gift, though.  Lovingly selected from the dollar aisle at Target, but they’re sure it’s what Daddy needs.  And we did have dinner with my grandparents, even though it was at the mall food court due to the storms blowing a transformer in their subdivision.

Oh, well.  Tomorrow is always another day with no mistakes in it, right?  No mistakes yet, at least.  Maybe it can include a nap….


Random Acts of…Graduation

It was another beautiful night in the Granite Bowl. Well, after the unceasing downpours, big umbrellas that obscure the view, and trek from Elberton Federal down the hill and around the stadium in the drizzle with Uncle Corey wearing Amelia in the Bjorn and the telling everyone that this is his baby he picked up at Wal-Mart, it was a beautiful night in the Granite Bowl. And for those who have never been lucky enough to experience the Granite Bowl, it is what it says. A great big bowl of a football stadium entirely built of granite.

Well, it is Elberton and we only have so many things to be proud of.

But tonight we (and about 2000 other people) were all VERY proud. Proud of the 200 graduates who wore the blue and white and walked the line and turned their tassles and accepted their diplomas as the Class of 2010, a class that has defied expectations. As a sister of one of those graduates, I am so proud to hear of their accomplishments. As an educator, I truly understand the pride that comes with saying they are the first class to help ECCHS make AYP, they have the best graduation test scores in the history of the school, and they graduated a higher percentage of their class last night than any class before them.

But enough about everybody else. Because we were there in force, in ponchos, and under umbrellas, sitting on beach towels and plastic changing pads (thanks, Amelia!) to celebrate for Kelsey, who is Payne #6 to graduate with the sunset behind her and a bright future ahead of her.

Kels, I know you are worried. I know you feel left behind by all your friends heading off in the fall. I know you want to do more than just settle for what’s available. But for now, let’s let all that be and revel in the moment. You have accomplished something that many don’t, that many dream of, that many wish they hadn’t given up on. You have the ticket to a better life inside a blue folder and printed on a transcript.

Twelve years of tears and drama, sports and clubs, friends and foes is over. You will take with you academic knowledge and life know-how. High school is just a foundation for you to build upon. I am so proud that your experience has made you strong, confident, and beautiful.

May God give you all the desires of your heart. Love you sweet Kelsey-elsie!

motherhood · Paynes

Random Acts of…Mamas

There’s just something about a mama. When other people tell me that it’s not so bad and I only have three weeks left before summer and everything’s going to be okay, I don’t really believe them. When my mom tells me it is, I believe a little bit more.

I guess it’s because I watched her work full-time with all seven of us. She would get up in the morning, get herself ready, load the dishwasher, wake us, usually have one, if not two, of my younger sisters she had to dress, prod my daddy to get ready, check us all for matching clothes, two shoes, library books, and lunch money, referee a fight over cereal, drive us down the long driveway to catch the bus, chase the bus if we missed it, and somehow she did all this before 7 a.m.
I can barely handle getting myself and Amelia together in the morning, much less Annabelle and Madelynne who are thankfully becoming a little more independent, though they still want me to brush their teeth, which I’ve learned to do one-handed while holding Amelia, thank you very much.
My mama has been there. She knows how hard it is to balance work and kids and laundry and dishes and dinner and guilt. So, this Mother’s Day I hope she knows how grateful I am that she helps me believe I can do it too. And since I think I turned out okay (most of the time), I can believe my girls will be okay.
The only problem is, she’s an impossible standard to reach. She’s not perfect but she’s way better at multi-tasking than I am. One night when she was here taking care of me after Amelia was born (and she truly was here for me), I watched her fry chicken, negotiate the Easter Egg Roll with the White House, check and respond to rapid-fire email about the situation with the Easter Egg Roll, answer her other phone when my across-the-country sister called, all while she was holding Amelia. I’m not sure what I was doing, but it definitely pales in comparison.
I’m not my mama, but I hope someday my girls look back at me and wonder how I did it all too. Because regardless of how the laundry is folded or what’s on the table for dinner, they are being just as cared for and just as loved as I always was. And even though she’s probably messed up some, I don’t remember loving her any less, and that is what I pray for these days, that despite the chaos of life, my girls will always know I love them more than a clean house or a full-night’s sleep.
I think that’s the secret to being a good mom: raising kids who know they are unconditionally cherished no matter how many mistakes you (or they) make along the way.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! I love you!