Saturday, July 31

Oh, those amazing moments~

Had several today:

James has mastered several knots and spent a great deal of time trying to teach me how to make knots. I am a poor student, but he is an enthusiastic and patient teacher (thankfully). He's getting a better grasp on his temper, but unfortunately he now bursts into tears more frequently. He should not have been the eldest child. He's so sensitive, and comprehends so much... and we do not always realize that he is still such a little guy. We are doing better, though. One incident at a time, one breath at a time. More hugs, more snuggles, more eye contact. He's doing better, and so are we.

Jacob absolutely wore himself out tonight and hit the hay an hour early after chasing The Brothers and Zorak 'round and 'round the house after supper. He's pretty quick for a temporary quadruped. Zorak pretended he was going to eat the Smidget and The Brothers bounded to the rescue, as it were. (Poor Zorak, he got pummeled.) At one point, Zorak said he was going to eat John, and what do you know- The Smidget came to the rescue! Growling like a bear cub (in between fits of laughter that literally paralyzed him and sent him sprawling), he climed Zorak and wrangled him to the ground. Ta-Da! Our hero. He also thoroughly enjoyed an extended game of peek-a-boo with anyone who would play as he hid behind the coffee table and popped up to yell BOO!

John invented a few new games today and spent a while trying to teach me how to play. Um, again I say, I'm a poor student. I also got hit in the face pretty regularly with the Beanie Bear he lobbed at me. He thought it was great fun and didn't mind that he thoroughly trounced me in his version of Calvin Ball (which I'm certain it was, because I still don't know what the rules were!)

*drum roll please* After umpteen failed attempts and the frustration of untold mentors who have attempted to teach me the craft, I think I have mastered the single crochet! WooHoo! I can't tell you what I was doing wrong, and certainly couldn't pinpoint what I'm doing differently now, but I can feel it (well, and see it in the samples). Just as I can tell in the split second I loose the bowstring whether my aim is true, I can tell in the feel of the needle as it slips in and out of the stitches whether I've got the stitch. Now, only how many more of the basics before I can make a "simple blanket"? I have two goals with this project: to make a blanket for Gram in appreciation of her time and patience trying to teach me to crochet, and also to get to a point where it's actually somewhat (partially? I'll settle for remotely at this point!) relaxing. I need a relaxing hobby that doesn't involve having to find a sitter for the boys. At least until they're old enough to hunt with me.

And how is your weekend going?


Friday, July 30

A Fine Day, Indeed

Today was what I would call "A Fine Day". Once again, I was struck by how quickly the boys are growing into fine young men while still retaining their childhood graces and the wells from which they draw their strength.

Zorak and I arrived at VBS for the Closing Presentation (a little performance the groups put on to summarize their week and their lessons). As we found a seat to the left of the classes and settled in to enjoy the children, our eyes sought our own from among the throng of heads bobbing eagerly up and down in the rows. John was easy to spot: he was in the front row, facing backwards, bouncing his chin on the back of his chair and chatting away happily with a little girl in the second row. Ah, good to see he's paying attention. *grin* I had spoken with his teacher earlier this week and knew that he actually paid attention wonderfully most of the time- she thought he was closer to turning five than just-turned-four. This morning, though, at 8:30, he had begged to stay in bed "just a little longer". This, from a child who is normally up by six, at the latest! So, hey, a little case of the squiggles isn't bad. He looked so contented and happy. He giggled and signed "I love you!" when he spotted us in the seats.

We found James a few rows back, almost directly across from us. He sat hunched up, looking sullen and on the verge of tears. My "Mommy alarm" went off, so the three of us (Zorak, Jacob and I) sidled across the aisle to the row behind James. I tapped his shoulder. He ignored the tap. I scratched his back. He gently and quietly shrugged that off, too. Hmmm. His teacher then tapped his shoulder and said, "Look behind you." He turned his small, sad face up to us and the instant recognition that lit his eyes was matched only by the speed with which he flung himself at me, wrapped both arms around my waist and buried his head in my torso. He stayed there, clutching me as if he was afraid he would disapper if he let go. I wasn't about to let that happen. We stayed there for a full couple of minutes. He finally lifted his face, smiled a smile that reached up to his reddened eyes and said, "I'm just so happy to see you!" Then, as if nothing had happened, he was once again fine with the world and all that lay ahead of him. (We spoke with his teacher after the show and she explained that he'd seen Zorak by the door and was sad that he couldn't go to him, nor had he seen that I was there, too.)

Both boys smiled like maniacs every chance they got, sang with more gusto than I thought possible, and bounded along with their classes like Retrievers on a good Autumn walk. They looked so... so big! The pang in my heart at the loss of my babies was easily soothed by the warm comfort of raising such incredible young men. Our little men, our guys, they are amazing, and we get to be a part of their lives. Just when I began to look appreciatively at the other, "older", boys running about the church grounds, I felt a wee hand grasp mine. I looked down into huge smiling blue eyes. Then wee arms wrapped around one of my legs, and I looked down to see the tousled, sun streaked head of my other beautiful boy. They stayed that way as we left the Sanctuary, and with a little grin I remembered that they are growing, but they are, after all, only five and four. The world is a magical place, but Mom and Dad are still magical people. Our little guys, for a time yet, anyway.

Jacob has a mouth just bursting with teeth. He's standing unaided for small bits of time now, too, climbing and cruisng his way around the furniture. His favorite people in the world are his brothers (Zorak and I run a close second in this category, but we don't quite have the "fun factor" going for us that The Brothers do.) He blows the sweetest kisses and growls like a little bear, which cracks us up six ways from Sunday. He understands so much and communicates so well. He'll be 11 months on Aug 9th, and yes, he's small (still wears 6-9 mo. clothes). He's fully functional and very happy, and there's no need for concern. I wish there was a way to convey all that without having to just hand out tracts to everyone we come in contact with each day.

I got this from Lynne- It certainly explains a lot! I have SO been talking to the wrong muse (or I've been given the wrong muse!) ;-)


Seek One of the Nine Greek Muses
brought to you by Quizilla

(Note: I took the quiz again this evening, and got Calliope... which, I am hoping, is more accurate. Who do you talk to about switching muses, anyway?)

The temperatures have dropped, but the humidity has gone up (I'm thinkin' it's around 310% lately...) Everything has a time and a purpose. I may not like the side effects of summer, but the reasons for it are bountiful and glorious. (My less-than-inspired whines over summer will re-commence at some point, I'm sure, but for tonight, I'm willing to think of it as "a necessary evil".)

Alrighty then, I'm going to go play and pretend the dishwasher isn't hollerin' for some attention! Be good to each other!

*I almost forgot! This was posted at TWTM forums the other day, and it is hilarious! My personal favorite... well, I can't pick, but I really want this one for the Suburban:

Si hoc adfixum in obicle legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis propinquus ades.
~ "If you can read this bumper sticker, you are both very well educated and much too close."


Thursday, July 29

I think my muse is sick.

It may have dementia, or perhaps simply a very warped sense of humor. Whatever the problem is, inspirations come fast and hard... while I'm stuck in traffic. When I sit down to the keyboard, you can hear the opening theme from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly whistling in the walls as tumbleweeds scamper across the desk.

Blogger found the ghost in the machine, and it's not ME and my big mouth! WooHoo! (Note the absence of wayward text in the sidebar!) BIG thanks to the Blogger folks!

VBS Days are not text-rich days. I can honestly say that without feeling guilty. We get up, get dressed, eat. We leave. Jacob and I come home. He passes out on the couch. I clean. We pick up the boys, come home and hide from the humidity. Soon, Zorak is home and suddenly it's midnight. If I weren't actually witnessing this process, I would swear I was hiding (or forgetting) something.

Reading: so far this week, I've finished re-reading The Waste Lands (Dark Tower 3) and The Gunslinger (Dark Tower 1) (which is, pretty much, the order in which I read them originally), and read Song of Susannah (Dark Tower 6) . I just love Roland of Gilead and his ka-tet. Yes, I know I'm not reading them in order. I read what I can get, when I can get it. I think books four and five may have come in today. Smidget and I will hit the library tomorrow to pick up whatever's waiting.

Zorak is nudging me to begin writing again. I am willing and eager, yet, what's the word I'm looking for here? I don't know, it's that darned demented muse issue. Not to mention the short attention span. Yes, that may have something to do with it. How do you pick up again when you haven't written for a long, long time? (This would be another good place to insert the theme music. I wonder if I could upload a .wav file to the blog?) Anybody want to take in an apprentice?

Well, it is late (far later than I thought! Yikes!) so I am going to say goodnight here and go visit the boards and blogs while I savor one last cup of coffee. See you in the morning!


Wednesday, July 28

Quick, pointless blog

Had to shave James' head yesterday. The barber botched it on Thursday, then combed it over to hide it intentionally from us. We found it when we got home. Tried to live with it over the weekend, but, erm, no. He looked like quite the neglecterino. Now, sadly, he looks like a chipper little skinhead. Which is worse, really, but the chop job was so bad (and right in the front!) that this was the only way to do it. I hope it grows quickly. I was on the verge of tears until I noticed he was on the verge of tears, at which point I tried to point out the benefits of this newly acquired 'do: it'll be easier to do tick checks, when he is grown and joins the military this is what his hair will look like for basic training, and he has a beautiful head. He's not sold on it. "But MOM, I don't even look like myself anymore!" He's right. He has always had a little Normal Rockwell haircut, and we really, really hate this para-military style. *sigh*

John has overcome his weekend meltdown and is completely enthralled with VBS. He bops and struts all over the place and the moment his eyes meet mine, he clamps down like the little German-Irish child he is and announced, "I don't want to go home! I want to stay here!" I swoop him into my arms, peck his chubby cheek and announce right back at him, "Oh, I'm so glad you've had a wonderful day! Tell me about it!" Fortunately, he's still young enough to fall for re-direction.

Jacob and I were going to have all manner of wonderful adventures during our three hours alone together this week. I was certain of it. He's sleeping. Again. Ah, well, next year, for sure!

We hit the library again yesterday. I picked up some new books (without the librarian's assistance) and spent the time before supper last night thoroughly lost in other worlds. I remember my sisters telling me that I wasn't filling out (I was a late bloomer, so to speak) because I spent all my time reading books. Evidently, you must engage in other pursuits in order to, erm, "fill out" at the proper time? Well, if books will keep the boys focused and away from "other pursuits" for a wee bit, then I'm buyin' a library!

And on that note, I need to go pick up my little adventurers and bring them back to the den of never ending scouring for a little slave labor and treats!


Monday, July 26

We made it!

We made it to the end of the day. Yes, for some of us, that is quite an accomplishment, thank you. ;^)

Steph, yes, they'll read them all. With the exception of the read-alouds, they have already read every book on there at least once so far. I try to pace them on the read alouds, but it's not uncommon for James to chew his way through 15 books in a day. John is picking up the habit, too, of looking through books and asking to be read to more frequently. We spend a lot of time reading, although I can't claim some high virtue or discipline as the cause of it. It's just too hot and humid to go outside (really, just ask me!), we don't have cable, and the house is not fit for company. So, what do you want to do, kids? Do you want me to read to you or do you want to read to me? Ha! My poor children. My list, however, is rather slow. The house related books came first, and then I could begin interspersing my pleasure reads with my second reads. My "completed" list is a lot shorter than the boys' lists are!

I had a weird thought today. As I prepared for my day, I opened the new body wash I'd picked up the other day. It smells so good (and is much nicer than the Dial I've been using the past few years!) I paid closer attention to the scents in the things I use: my shampoo is citrus, the conditioner is eucalyptus and mint and coconut oil, the body wash is almond. My facial cleaner has echinacea and ginseng in it, as well as something else I can't remember. I started thinking about the way "Moms" smell- mine always smelled lovely. As far back as I can remember, she smelled like Zest for everyday, and Shalimar Guerlain for special occasions. As I donned my "spring musk" deodorant and rubbed more of the almond lotion on my arms, I realized something... I smell like a schizophrenic ecosystem! Good grief. Something has got to give.

The boys earn beads at VBS- not beads like Mardis Gras, obviously. It's something that goes on their name badges. They didn't mention this until supper. Sometimes our conversations just seem so... weird.
Mom: So, how do you get beads for your badges?
James: You do stuff.
Mom: What kind of stuff do you do?
James: Tasks, mostly.
Mom: (thinking to herself: Thank you, Captain Obvious) What tasks do you do to earn your beads?
James: Most all of them, I would imagine.
John: And God loved the world!

At this point, I'm not sure I'll ever find out, short of staying there in the morning and seeing for myself! However, we now know that they will earn beads for performing tasks, and both boys seem completely at peace with this. I'm really glad we've taught the boys to be ok with questioning authority...*

Zorak has found a jacket! Gosh, that could be an entry unto itself. He has one in his crosshairs. Oh, happy day! But don't let out that sigh of relief just yet... it's not paid for or shipped yet! (But still, he FOUND ONE!)

And if you have a blog, as you can see, my sidebar is DOA. It needs to be rejuvenated. This is a painful process, as I generally have to go wending about the blogosphere to gather all my favorite links (and they never end up on my list)- if you know I read you, would ya lend me your URL? As soon as I figure out how to put things up on the sidebar, I'll need 'em. ;^) Thanks.

Alright, done blogging before nine. Off for a fresh cup of coffee and one more chapter in a Mommy book before it's time to knock out the Smidget and go read about Bilbo's current adventure.


(*As a side note, no, there's not a question in my mind about the integrity of the staff at VBS- I'm just feeling back to my smart alecky little self this evening!)

ARGH! I give up!

It's done it again- look down below the sidebar- what do you see, but that irritating wrap-around post that demands to live in the sidebar whenever it can! Crap. *sigh* Oh well. Anyone know how to fix this????

HA, talk about embarrassing! I discovered the problem: I talk too much. It's fixed now. ;-) NOW, how to add things to my sidebar and what is the name of that cool script font?

Mid-Monday Tidbits

The boys (including Babyzilla) are playing legos. I've cleaned the dining room, de-spidered the foyer, and tidied the kitchen. So, I thought I'd come chat for a bit.

This template must go. Not liking it one bit. Don't leave comments until then, 'cuz I'll lose 'em! ;-O

Big Boys and VBS- I have to laugh at first impressions. Twice, John attended the Sunday School class at this new church. He loved it, he flourished. All reports were the same: "Very outgoing, very interactive, very pleasant child." Last Sunday, (3rd visit) they moved him to the 4yo class. He was punky from lack of sleep, anyway, still off kilter from the last two weeks of swim. He bolted. He begged to be in James' class. He then stood in the corner in James' class and refused to speak or move or sit. So today, as I took him in for VBS, the director caught me at the front and said, "John doesn't do well without you, so if you want to sit in on his class, you can." I appreciate the proactive approach, but Huh? Doesn't do well without--- ohhhh! She met him for the first time just yesterday. Funny. I took him to the door, the 3yo teacher has the pre-K class for VBS, and she treated him like he was the most outgoing, enthusiastic child in the world. Meanwhile, the co-director was en route to make sure she had multiple ways of getting in touch with me in case he melted down. For the record, he had a great time. And I love the staff involved with this VBS.

James had a good time, too, although there is a wee bit o' 'tude the kid's carrying around, and we aren't sure how best to have it removed. Lobotomy? Hypnosis? Shock therapy? We'll see.

Screens- have to buy screen material and fix our back screen door. What was your normal wear and tear hole by the handle has been, um, enhanced, and will now let through all manner of insects and perhaps a few small birds. Grrr.

I'm going to go play with templates. I'll update in a bit.


Saturday, July 24

All On A Saturday Night!

Ah, well, mostly it was Saturday Day, but I've got that song stuck in my head.

Susan- you will SO have email after I get done blogging! There is a special place in software heaven for kind souls like you. :-) Thank you! Or, if I don't get back on, it's the "rounders 2" template at blogger. :-D

The boys, Zorak and I spent around ten hours today scaling, printing, gluing and building a 1/40th scale model of the house design. The boys had a blast with the glue and the layout. They brought down their Green Army Men to act as inhabitants. Jacob got in on the fun, as well. At one point I heard Zorak call upstairs, "Could you bring the house back down, please?" James whispered furitively from the top step, "Are you insane? You have two choices: upstairs and safe, or downstairs, drooled on and torn apart! What do you think? We're not bringing it down!" We assured him (once we quit laughing) that Babyzilla would not tear apart the house. They were doubtful, but obedient. They're very good boys.

That was pretty much all we did today. Well, and I read many (many) books over (and over) again. A few of these books may find themselves returned long before their due date. *wink* When a 4 year old child has only had a book for three or four days and has it memorized verbatim, it's easy to understand a mother's desire to make it "go away", no? Want to hazard a guess as to which one will go first?

I talked to Gram today, and also to Granny Bette (my Aunt Bette, but she prefers the "Granny" moniker that John bestowed upon her, and I love her, so she's "Granny" now). There are days I wish we could scoop these two ladies up and just wrap them in our hearts forever and ever. I cannot imagine the world without them, and it's a far better place for having had them over the last few decades (relatively speaking, it's an old, old world...) We all wish they lived closer to us, or that we lived closer to them. Either way, we all wish we were closer. I need to start knitting or crocheting or tatting again, too. Hope this weather cools off soon so we can get started!

Oh, Zorak needs to print another roof. Gotta run! Be good to each other, and have a lovely Sunday!


Friday, July 23

A quick few things before bed.

1) I need techie help! I cannot make heads or tails of the code for this template! My sidebar is way down yonder, but I can't seem to scootch it up this way. Tried resizing anything that looked resizable, but just received some terribly funky previews. Anyone willing to take pity and help me out? Please?

2) The last day of swim was, get this, rained out! :-( Sad boys. Mama was sad for them, but my saddlebags leapt for joy. (Or would've leapt if they weren't so firmly attached...) Instead, we met with Zorak and his co-workers for lunch. It was a lovely time. The boys were wonderfully well-behaved. We visited with Zorak's boss' wife and family. They are truly pleasant people. Come to find out, she had wanted to homeschool their daughter, but he wasn't up for it. So their compromise was a private school. They are a very interesting family, and we received an invitation to come see the play their daughter is performing in next weekend.

3) Here is what we've currently been burying our noses in- some on the nightstand, some right smack in the middle of the hallway (both of the older boys have some bizarre predisposition to sit/lay directly in the line of traffic to do their reading and coloring... at least it makes them easy to find, right?) Right now, there are books everywhere! So, in case you're looking for a title or two, here you go:

Mama's Reads:
Some for Pleasure~
Waterloo Station by Emily Grayson (can't get into this one- it's languishing in the room)
More guns, less crime : understanding crime and gun-control laws by John R. Lott (love it!)
Dependent on D.C. : the rise of federal control over the lives of ordinary Americans by Charlotte Twight (good, but depressing so far)
The Waste Lands by Stephen King (part of his "Dark Tower" series- boning up on the first three so I can read the next three!)
Diary of a Mad Bride by Laura Wolf (chuckled for days- witty and fun- total brain candy, but good!)

Some for Work~
Building your own house : everything you need to know about home construction from start to finish by Robert Roskind
Electrician's exam preparation guide : based on the 2002 NEC by John E. Traister
The owner-builder book : how you can save more than $100,000 in the construction of your custom home by Mark A. Smith
Foundations & concrete work : the best of Fine homebuilding
Builder's guide to foundations & floor framing by Dan Ramsey

Read Alouds (although technically everything we bring home gets read aloud at least once- these are just the "designated" read alouds):
The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again [large print] by J. R. R. Tolkien  
The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis
The Children's Book of Virtues
'Again and again' Tales

James' Reads:
What to do when your mom or dad says-- clean your room by Joy Wilt Berry 
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Aunt Eater Loves a Mystery by Doug Cushman
Aunt Eater's Mystery Halloween
Aunt Eater's Mystery Vacation
Aunt Eater's Mystery Christmas (can you tell James likes the Aunt Eater books?)
Snow Valentines by Karen Gray Ruelle
Visit to Another Planet by Jean-Philippe Delhomme
The Bobbsey Twins' Adventure in the Country by Laura Lee Hope
The Chalk Box Story by Don Freeman
The Aesop for Children (Milo Winter's illustrations) 
The Secret Hideout by Paul Hutcheons  (not the one we were looking for, tho-)
James & the Giant Peach by Lane Smith (not the one we reserved, but we took it anyway)
Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith (this is a delightful book so far, according to James)
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
Atomic Ace : (he's just my dad) by Jeff Weigel (written in rhyme, illustrated like a comic book- different, but not bad)
Walter the Farting Dog : Trouble at the Yard Sale by Kotzwinkle, William. (um, yeah.)

John's Picks:
Let's sing fingerplays [sound recording] by Tom Glazer
Once Upon a Potty : Boy by Alona Frankel
The Ultimate Book of Dinosaurs (again)
My Gigantosaurus Book of Colors by Lewis, Jan. 
My "e" Book by Jane Belk Moncure 
The Poky Little Puppy's Counting Book 
Sally Goes to the Vet
by Stephen Huneck (this is that dog w/ the idiot vet) 
Froggy's Day With Dad by Jonathan London
Good Morning, Garden by  Barbara Brenner

And you know, it's now far later than I thought it would be, so I'm going to sign off, check email- I owe a few of you some notes! Coming soon! Have a lovely Saturday, all!

Oh, and I have comments set to accept anyone, so if Blogger tries to make you sign in to leave a comment, drop me a note and I'll look into it. Thanks.


Oh, a whole new set-up.

OK, well, I didn't realize I'd lose everything by changing the format- including my Haloscan commenting feature. SO- comments via blogger now. But I did fix it so y'all can comment w/o having to register or sign up. The sidebar is going to have to wait until I can figure out where it goes in this new template. I have no idea.

Jacob broke through three teeth yesterday. Consequently, he was miserable last night and up until after eleven. It's now 9:21AM and he is still asleep. I packed a breakfast for him to eat at the pool and will be able to just wake him up and go.

Today the children get to go down the slide at the pool. It's the big treat for the kids at the end of the session- they don life jackets, and trek up the stairs to the very tippy top (which, when you are five and four, must seem enormous!) The water isn't turned up full force, so they don't really achieve a high throttle speed going down, but it is exhilerating nonetheless. One of the lifeguards catches them at the bottom and helps them to the side, where they are met by their teacher who gives them a small candy and a certificate of completion. It's very sweet. James cannot wait to go. John refuses to go.

I can't believe it's Friday. Another full week gone. I've been grouchy as heck this week- not fit for public interaction, really. Hopefully that's overwith now. We are all looking forward to a wonderful weekend together. I hope yours is wonderful, too!


Thursday, July 22


Well, it's official. James can swim! Not far, and not fast, but he can swim. He swims under water, even! I cannot believe it! We're so proud of him, and he is so proud of himself. It's just amazing to see the difference in this child- from the fear of even putting his nose in the water, to totally submerging himself and swimming- in only four weeks of lessons! Go Red Cross!

That said, "OW!" I have managed to use body parts while swimming that don't get used at any other time in one's life- not hiking, not biking, not even birthing! The closest description I can give to how I feel is that all-over, throbbing ache that comes on about three days after a no-holds-barred fist fight (win or lose, doesn't matter, it hurts a few days later). For those who've never had the joy of experiencing a fight like that, um, it's like having the brunt of the flu three days after you fell head over teakettle down two flights of stairs. I am SO glad tomorrow is the last day for swim class! Ohhh... ouch. Pass me the Ben-Gay!

We hit the library for "Quest 2" on the Summer Reader's program. James took his reading list from the previous two weeks and showed it to the librarian, then asked for suggestions based on his reading list. She had many suggestions, and most of them were crap. We went ahead and checked out a few because after a while I think she started to feel offended that we weren't taking the bait on anything. (Well, and she started bringing them TO US when we showed no interest in going to get them ourselves... *shrug*) The two we gave in and picked up are... um, well, not great. There is a series of picture books (that was all she would recommend until he told her he read The Boxcar Children on his own) about a lab named Suzy. Or Sue. Something like that. We got, "The Black Dog Gets Taken to the Vet by its Ignorant Owners", which is one in the series. The dog falls and bonks its head while chasing her friend cat. The owners swoop the dog up and take her to the vet, who takes a full body x-ray, gives her a shot (?!? for what, it doesn't say) and then sends her home with medicine to take. This vet would probably neuter a dog that's in for a deworming. The boys caught on to the discrepancies, too, and they talked my ear off about it. The flow is too choppy, the dialogue is forced. The cat is cute. That's about it.

The other book, well, ok, the title is fair warning: "Walter the Farting Dog". The bodily function humor is actually written rather sweetly, as far as that can go. It's certainly not the dog's fault he's flatulent. It's the illustrations and the father's behavior that completely creep me out. First of all, the kids look like zombies. The father looks like "Pat" from Saturday Night Live. Then he goes and sells the family dog for ten bucks while the kids are off getting ice cream and LIES about it when they come back (oh, he also eats the dog's ice cream). The father is a creep. He's an androgynous creep, at that. Never does he apologize, not even in the end, when Walter is a hero. Nope, not good old "Sell-Out" Dad. He hogs the glory, praises the dog profusely in public, and never fesses up. I hope Walter farts in his after shave bottle.

Still no word from Blogger as to what has infected my poor blog. I am tempted to just redo the entire look. *cringe* Oh, I hate to do that! But this is just silly, all the text wrapped wonky around to the sidebar. Pffttt. For those who are hanging in there and still reading: bless you!

Alrighty, the baby is sound asleep. I'm going to lay him down and go hunt for some kind of pain soothing balm I can marinate in for the night! See y'all tomorrow!


Tuesday, July 20


It appears there is something very wrong w/ the formatting of my blog. I apologize- am aware of it, but don't have a clue what happened and it's too late to fix it. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Louie Armstrong was right.

"What a wonderful world!"

Thank you for the birthday wishes. It was a lovely day. The boys made cards and signs and wrapped things for me that we had laying around the house. We had pizza for lunch, which they both thought was a wonderful way to spend a birthday! ;-)
Nifty things I learned on my birthday:
* Motorcycles feel like they're going really, really fast when you're doing 45mph.
* The fear of burning your leg on the exhaust pipe will cause you to stay tense enough to actually feel tired when you finally get off the bike and relax.
* Dinner without children is oddly quiet and fast. I'm not entirely certain I like that feeling.
* There is never a point where you get tired of seeing your children's faces when they give you something they've made.
* Daddies can be sneaky, too.
* I really am truly, deeply, happily content with this point of my life. Death clock and all. ;-)
* I couldn't have seen any of my life at this point, but wow, what a great place to be!* I need more brain candy- my reading as of late has my elderly brain reeling.

I have to say that I am so incredibly in love with Zorak. He is the best. I received two wonderful gifts for my birthday, neither of which may sound like phenomenal gifts, but they were perfect! (A large barrel curling iron and a motorcycle helmet: one I asked for and the other is a show of Zorak's love and affection toward me- very cool.) I will say that having a husband who listens to you is one of the most romantic things a woman could dream of!
Our neighbors took the boys (all three of them!) for the evening, and Zorak and I hopped on the bike and rode off for a nice, quiet dinner. We had steak. I got to eat all my veggies (you have no idea how long it's been since I've eaten one full serving of vegetables at one setting... normally the boys eat theirs, the extras, and then mine, too!) It was lovely. Then the rest of the evening went something like this:
"What would you like to do next?" Asked Zorak.
Hmmmm. "Know what? I really want to go home and kiss my babies before they go to sleep. Can we do that? Then we'll put on a pot of coffee and hang out together?"
So we came home. *sheepish grin* We collected our youngin's and came back. They'd had a downright spectacular time with the wonderful neighbors, but were also very lovey and snuggly and just plain happy to see us. That felt good.

We are into Chapter 3 of The Hobbit (told ya we're taking the scenic route through Tolkein's world!) The trolls were quite an adventures, and James clued in instantly that it was Gandalf causing the recurrent fights. He is thoroughly enjoying this time together, and reminds me daily that he loves it.

Zorak is reading The Magician's Nephew to the boys. It is wonderful that they are seeing that men "about Daddy's age" (to quote John) read, and enjoy books. Still, I feel a little left out... I love C.S. Lewis. Maybe I'll start sitting in on Daddy story time if the boys don't mind (it might be "guy time", if you know what I mean.)

BTW, if you want a good read, try Charlotte A. Twight's Dependent on D.C. Excellent read thus far!


Sunday, July 18

Oh my, where to begin???

First, I apologize for falling down on the blog. Zorak and I have spent our evening hours (well into the wee morning hours!) working on floor plans and building plans. When the boys are awake, we're too busy for the computer. That leaves us, well, it doesn't leave us any time at all to blog or email or do the blogrun. So, quickly, know that I'm not ignoring those of you whome I owe emails, and here's a brief update. I'll think of something fascinating tomorrow. Deal?
We think we will be able to get financing for the house.
We think we may have a piece of land.
We are very certain this land is useless and will need some voodoo to make it buildable.
We think we have the necessary voodoo.
We are somewhat panic-stricken over this whole process.
Anyway, right now it's a wait-n-see approach. Cannot do anything until Monday to firm up the financing or track down the EPA guru with the County. So what, you may ask, have we been doing that's keeping me from the blogosphere?
Drawing up house plans! Oh, this is neat stuff! I am, however, going to just create a separate blog for the housing project so that I don't bore to death those of you who couldn't care less about the planning and zoning and codes that go into homebuilding. ;-)
Boys are doing wonderfully and are enjoying their summer tremendously. The beaches on base this week closed to swimming for the summer, though, due to the annual arrival of the jellyfish. I wish we'd gone more often before they closed. Kind of depressing to be surrounded by water you can't swim in. Anyway, perhaps now we'll spend more time on indoor cultural endeavors and the pool!
White Fang is now letting go of things while standing. I am just not ready for that. He's growing too fast!
Dee, you've got mail. ;-)
Tomorrow is church and then lunch with a family from church. I better get to bed, though, or I'll be falling asleep. If I fall asleep, there is nobody to wake Zorak. If we're both asleep, the boys will slip off and cause unbelievable havoc. If we're both asleep, there is a very good chance that one, or both, of us will tip over. That would all be bad. So, g'nite!

Wednesday, July 14

Books, buildings and children

*mumble, mumble, concrete set, piers, mmmmm, wiring.... mumble*

Oh! Hi there! I didn't see you come in. This GIGANTIC pile of BOOKS has had us somewhat, erm, distracted, today. *cheezy grin* Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or herbal tea for my recently decaffeinated friends!) and have a visit.

Ellen shared this great quote with me, and it left me giggling, so I thought I would share it here ('cuz not everyone reads or leaves comments...)
"When I have money, I buy books. If any is left over, I buy food and clothing" -- Erasmus

Oh, so true, so true! It's a good thing we have little mouths to feed or we'd be hungry, nekkid, and living amidst a very poorly organized library!

Well, the Lord has taken pity on me. After surviving the last round of swim lessons, tomorrow James will be in the ten o'clock Level 2 class. WAHOO! We'll be poolside for two hours straight, but we won't be hauling a sleeping baby from bed at seven thirty in the morning, and I'm certain we will all be the happier for it! It's important to appreciate the small things, ya know. ;-)

Tulipgirl, oh, yes, we have looked at straw bale construction. We have plans for a straw house. We once thought we would always live in the wonderful, arid climate of Arizona or New Mexico... but those plans will have to remain tucked away for our "someday" house. The mold and moisture level here would flatten a straw house before you could get the sheething on it! Yikes! BTW, what part of AZ, if you don't mind me asking? I was born and raised in Prescott, and that's also where Zorak went to college. Also, as an aside, I am so embarrassed to admit that I JUST RECENTLY clued in to your username. Tulip... yeah, got it. I kept thinking you were in Holland, then thought, "Well, no, that's not right..." *sigh* Just think of me as the theological acronym flunkie! ;-)

Um, OK, so I just drew a total and complete blank... I haven't a clue what I was going to say. Sorry. Just *poof* gone!

I'm gonna go blogrun and will come back if I think of it. If not, well, have a lovely day and enjoy those precious little ones!


Sunday, July 11

What to read next?

SO... we have over twenty titles on hold at the library. We are hoping they begin arriving shortly or we'll be forced to spend grocery money at Barnes & Noble! We want BOOKS!

Not just any book, really, but books about building houses. We need to know about getting contractors and bids; buying the land before the horse and cart er, house plans; arranging finances, what to do if we can't perc the land until MARCH of next year! *argh* We need to bone up on NEC codes and plumbing options... we're chomping at the bit to dive into a meaty wiring diagram and, well, ok Zorak is the one who can't wait to dive into the wiring diagrams. As a matter of fact, he's probably the only one in the house who would describe one as being "meaty". Still, I'm an enthusiastic onlooker on that one. The rest, I'm also excited about reading and absorbing. *tick, tick, tick* goes the clock, as we wait and search the web until our eyes water.

James has now read all of the books we checked out at the library last week. Good thing we're going again tomorrow so we can restock. He gives a high-five to Stone Soup and The Little House: Her Story. For quick, fun reads, he said to tell y'all that The Aunt Eater Mysteries are a lot of fun!

Our little bookworm is also developing a "favorite author" (which gives me warm fuzzies from the tips of my toes all the way to my frizzy hair!) He is in love with Dick King-Smith's books. You may know him as the author of Mr. Potter's Pet and Babe: the Gallant Pig, but he's written many more, equally enchanting books, as well. I found a cute biography of him online, complete with a picture. (He just looks like he could keep children rapt with attention as he spins yarns and tells stories!) James is waiting oh-so-patiently for the next few King-Smith books to come available at the library.

We have new read alouds. The Hobbit (yes, the large print edition- it's actually great fun to read in large print! I am working equally hard at trying to create just the right voice for each character, and that has strained every last creative bone in my body, but James is enchanted. We talk a lot during the reading, too. Good thing it's not a movie. *wink* It does seem to keep him involved in the story, though. "Oh, dear, this does sound like it's shaping up to be an adventure, doesn't it?" or "Who do you think is at the door?") We are also starting The Magician's Nephew (C.S. Lewis- James insisted on starting with this one because it's now marked as book 1, and Mom doesn't know what she's talking about... starting with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe... pffttt. Silly, silly Mother!)

John fell asleep at the dinner table again. He is at that difficult stage where a nap will have him either up until midnight if we let him sleep it out, or grouchier than when he lay down if we wake him up. If he doesn't nap, he's done-for by supper time (and we eat around five thirty!) He's been a trooper, though, and tomorrow he will be pouncing on the bed at four thirty, bemoaning the fact that he's "starving to pieces"!

Jacob, aka White Fang of the North, is doing great, eating everything in site, having a grand time being a little guy. What more can I say?

Tomorrow we're going to the reptile exhibit at the library. We are taking one of the Wonderful Neighbor Girls with us, and the boys are so excited!

Tuesday the water torture, uh, swim lessons begin again. Two weeks and then we're done. We are going to the beach on Tuesday afternoon, as well, to meet with another family from church.

Church- oh yes, we visited the other church again today. Really, the boys are in love. I am in love with some aspects of it, as well. *sigh* It's hard to know what to do... a few of the bumps on the road, though, are potentially big ones for me. I am not quite sure how best to proceed. Anybody want to come mentor me for a while? Pretty please??

I'm going to go peruse the how-to books with Zorak (we have a gazillion of them on the shelves here at home, yes, I know, we're strange). Have a lovely Monday, all!


Saturday, July 10

On Neighbors, Friends and Food

Cheryl (see sidebar- Konkadoo) asked how we end up with the relationships we do with our neighbors. It isn't something we think about- it's just something we "do". I don't think we've ever lived anywhere that we haven't befriended neighbors, strangers, friends of friends. She got me thinking, though, and you know, I think it's all about the food.

My Mother was a Southern woman in many ways- particularly when it came to her home, her kitchen, and the people in her world. She had a few rules for company in her home, which were clear and consistent:

1) You're only a guest once, after that, you're family.
2) There is always room at the table for "one more" (or ten more- it doesn't matter, there is always room at the table).
3) If you leave hungry, it's your own fault.

Is it all about the food? I am inclined to think so, or at least partially so. The early Christians gathered to break bread together, and Paul would preach. The food, the interaction and support and comaraderie of fellow believers was central. Am I making a huge theological statement that Religion is all about the food? No, not at all, but ya know, there's a reason the pot lucks and meals at churches are referred to as times of "fellowship".

Joining together at a table has been a sign of respect, familiarity, agreement in many cultures over the years. When you share a meal with another human being, you are sharing in traditions that predate ourselves and our histories. There is an intimacy in sharing nourishment. Some of that is lost by the high rate of dining in restaurants, where there is not so much of one's self put into preparing a meal, but still, sharing the table, sharing the conversation, and sharing your self is inherent in the food and, by default, in the relationships.

If someone breaks your trust by stealing or lying to you or running off with your daughter, it's somehow doubly offensive if that person has sat at your table and shared your meals. Why? There's an intimacy in food. There is an unspoken trust and boundary set by that universal act. Don't ask me how, I don't have the foggiest idea. Like I said, I only started thinking about it recently...

When there is a death in the family, food is a comforting gift. Yes, it helps alleviate the need for the bereaved to figure out what to fix for dinner, but on a deeper level, it says, "You are not alone, share our meals, know that we are here for you". That's what you're really saying. When there is a wedding, there is food. Graduation: food. Holiday: food. Food is integral to celebrations and observations in all cultures in all times. It's one of the things we do, and I really think that when you open your home, your kitchen, to others, you are opening a part of yourself to them, inviting them right into the core of your corner of the world and saying, "Come, get warm, be fed, share with us."

Now, I'm not suggesting that anyone go about using those exact words. And if you do, for Pete's sake, please don't blame me when you get slapped with a restraining order by the recently-freaked-out neighbors. But even if you have lived a year, five years, ten years in the same neighborhood and have never so much as said, "Howdy!" to your neighbors, I'm going to suggest that it's not too late to start. If you want to develop those kinds of relationships, somebody's gotta cook something up and offer to share it. It's just that simple.

Try it. Just walk right up to someone's home and introduce yourself. Say, "Hey, we're going to be roasting the flesh of a dead herbivore on Friday. Want to join in the consumption?" Or, you know, make it up as you go... it gets easier with practice. Particularly when you have one or two who have said yes, and you can then hit up neighbor number three and say, "Several of us on the block thought it would be nice to have dinner together this Saturday. Why don't you join us?" See how EASY that is? Suddenly, you're making friends. Voila!

From time to time, out of sheer odds, we have hit upon the occasional sociopath who we determine that we will never again allow on our property, it's true. Those instance are so phenomenally low, though, and generally those people don't enjoy our company, either, so they're easy to eradicate.

This approach may not be for everyone. It works for us because we love to have a home where everyone feels welcome and at home. We love the loud, chaotic energy of people buzzing about comfortably, interacting and chatting, cooking and singing. We like the activity, and think that life is much better when not experienced in solitude. (Obviously, we would make lousy monks!) We have amassed an amazingly eclectic group of friends and acquaintances, some of whom have nothing in common with each other than that they know us. Yet, they have come together for Holiday feasts, just-because BBQ's, moving parties, graduation parties. They have developed their own intertwined friendships. Our lives have been much richer, and the overall tapestry of our journey together is more vibrant because of the colorful, wonderful, interesting people who have come to our table... and stayed for a while.

That's about it. And Cheryl, if you're ever in our neck of the woods, the door is open- come on in and we'll feed ya! ;-)


Tuesday, July 6

Three Days' Worth of Blogging

We have been absolutely BUSHED! Our wonderful Saturday get together was followed by a day of historical and political discussions with the boys and a picnic on the beach Sunday to enjoy the lightning bugs and watch the fireworks over the water. Monday all the neighbors gathered again for another BBQ on the Green... we got up early, ran hard all day, and went to bed far too late. It was a fun weekend, but terribly exhausting for all of us.

Today was errand day: mailed the paperwork to have my death rescinded, paid some bills, organized some files, had lessons, hit the library, tried some CPR on the kitchen (after all it went through this weekend, it was lookin' rather haggard today!)

Just to touch on the highlights:

*Library Trip*

I took with me to the library a list with 45 titles to look for, as well as eight specific authors. Not a one of them is in the tri-county system. At one point, the librarian asked me, "Are these graduate level books you're looking for?" Um, no. They are popular sellers, actually. Others are classics. *sigh* She was, however, wonderfully kind, and went out of her way to find me one wayward copy of The Hobbit- large print, but it'll work.

James signed up for the summer reading program at the library. He's excited about it. It's designed to be four "quests", and each child has up to one week to fulfill each quest. The lady at the desk was concerned that we're beginning a week behind the others- she didn't think he would be able to get caught up. (?) Here is Quest 1:
1) Visit the library and pick up Summer Reading Materials.
2) I read for _____ minutes today. (date/initial)
3) I read a magazine or newspaper. (date/initial)
4) I read a favorite fairy tale. (date/initial)
5) I read with a friend or pet today. (pet??? ok...) (date/initial)
6) I asked a librarian to help me. (date/initial)

Each task need only be done once. I'm actually really glad this program exists, because if these are the things that are on the goals list, then that indicates children just aren't doing them regularly. That makes me so sad. Other items include (each one is not listed in each quest, and none are required to be done regularly or at a minimum): tell a friend about a good book, read a story and draw a picture about it, read before bed, read with family, read a nonfiction book, learn an interesting fact, read outdoors.

It's a good start. I just hope parents will keep the ball rolling once the kitschy incentives are all gone...

James is done with Quest 1, except for reading to a friend or pet. He couldn't get the neighbor's 2yo to sit still long enough for a story, and I couldn't convince him to read to the quadruplegic spider that lives in our bathroom. :-D


Plugging along and having a wonderful time reading, walking, singing, and learning. I just can't imagine doing things any other way for us. What a great life.


MaryJo- thank you for your note. We really do like it here! Honest. I realize that with my blog, my strongest posts tend to be the ones that I type out from atop my soapbox in irate indignation over the latest B.S. from Big Brother MD. However, yes, Maryland is a lovely, lovely place. It's a beautiful state (if a bit swampy down south, but no terrain is perfect!). The people are incredibly friendly. The activities, the history, the museums and aquariums, the community... there is much about Maryland that is wonderful. (I can't quite do the crabs, but the boys LOVE them!) We are very thankful that we are here and could think of quite a few places where we'd be worse off. My only (and biggest, by default, I guess) gripe with Maryland is the incredible level of government intrusion that this state has. It's unbelievable! Perhaps it does not feel that way to someone who has lived here for years and has seen the changes come gradually, with time, but for one who comes in from other, more Freedom-oriented, states, it's quite a shock to the nervous system. If the crime was lower, or the schools better, or even the pollution less due to all this extra money (taxation) and regulation and intervention than it is in the other states, perhaps that would help. But it's not. So, yes, the government rule here in Maryland has been a pretty large lump for me to chew, and believe me, I certainly have been made to feel the anarchist freak in more than one situation thus far. But that's what voting and talking and recruiting and letter writing... in a phrase, "grassroots efforts" are for, right? ;-)

It's not the place we want to live forever, but that doesn't mean it's not a pretty nice place to live. Just as some people wouldn't want to live in Chicago in the winter, or in the Southwest during 118 degree summers, it's not a reflection on the people or the culture or the place, it's just a preference of the heart, and our hearts are in the Rockies. Anyhow, please don't feel that I don't like it here, or that we are blind to the good that MD has to offer. We are very much enjoying our time here, and I promise to blog more about that in the future. Thanks for your note, and for dropping by! :-)

And on that note, I am off to read my latest stash from the library: Anastasia, the Lost Princess, and The Hobbit in large print! :-) Have a wonderful night, all!


Saturday, July 3

What makes a place "home"?

I'm not really talking about wall sconces and photos in the hallway. What I want to know is what makes the town, city, county where you live feel like "home" to you?

For us, it's the community- not the random, government-funded "community" that gets printed up in Chamber of Commerce brochures, but having and loving your own "community". We are building our community, our adopted family far from home, and it feels so nice. So for us, "home" is...

...knowing your neighbors
...having their children at your place, and yours at theirs
... being able just to knock as you walk in
... and your neighbors knowing (at least at our house, but we're OK w/ it and encourage it) they can just come on in and holler.
... being able to send the boys outside to leave handwritten invitations on the neighbor's doors to join us for a BBQ that afternoon
... having people pop in and out the rest of the morning asking what they should bring
... being able to leave your cooler on the front porch, filled with juice for the kids, and knowing it won't be stolen in the night
... telling your neighbor that the baby just threw up, has a high fever that you can't break, and having her interrupt you to offer to watch the other children while you arrange to take the baby to the doctor
... knowing when your husband goes next door to help the neighbor, he'll be there for a while, and have had a nice time
... emailing photos back and forth of the wonderful afternoon everyone just spent together

We had such a wonderful community in Prescott. It was lovely. Granted, it was chaotic and loud and we fed a lot of people (some of whom we did not know until they walked in the door), but that's what life is about. Dinners taste better when shared with friends and family. Days are merrier when there is laughter and comaraderie. Life is richer when you enjoy the people in it, and they can enjoy you. There is something wonderful about surrounding your home with people who treat your children well and enjoy them.

Jess used to laugh at me because she and I would be on the phone at ten o'clock at night, or at noon, or even ten in the morning, and inevitably, someone would show up. Then several someones. Suddenly we'd be cooking and chatting and the house got very loud. She thinks we're nuts. We are. We loved it.

Now we are developing that here. Our community. Our home. We have simply wonderful neighbors, good friends. Today we spent the afternoon celebrating the Fourth of July early (since everyone is going out of town tomorrow)- we BBQ'd on the front patio, spread blankets on the commons area, and spent a wonderful few hours having a pot luck dinner. What a great way to spend the afternoon! This is what we mean when we talk about those roots that feel so good to put down into the rich, fertile soil of life. I am very thankful.

Tell me about your "home"- what makes it home to you?


Friday, July 2

Lazy Summer Days At Last!

*Ahhhhh* That is the sound of knowing we don't have to be anywhere by eight in the morning for one full week! The boys both completed their first session of the summer, and here are the fruits of their labors:

James tested successfully out of Level 1, and was given this card:

He wants us to laminate it and put it on a cord, like the Base Access ID's are, so that he can wear it to his Level 2 lessons. He is so proud.

John mastered all of the skills required to enter Level 1, but because he is still just a little guy, his instructors said they would be more than happy to work on Level 1 skills with him in the same class. So, I will be in the water for two more weeks. Zorak and I feel good about that decision. It's difficult sometimes, as parents, to know when we need to let go and when we need to be there. I appreciated having the instructors' input as to whether they felt he would do better with me in or out of the water. He also asked if I would be with him, and beamed when I said yes, so that settled that.

What will we do with all our new found "free time"? We will get back on track with lessons. We will frequent the beach. We will enjoy lazy mornings and more read alouds and trips to the library. We will sign up for the library's summer reading program and enjoy all the fun of lightning bugs and fresh ice cream.

Tonight, however, I am going to enjoy Time Bandits and a little brainless entertainment before bed. Talk to you soon!


Thursday, July 1

One more morning...

Just one more morning and this stint of swim lessons will be over and done with. It's been somewhat harrowing, as far as the cleanliness of the house and my overall stamina goes, but the changes and growth in the boys have been worth every sleep deprived moment.

To answer your questions~ No, the pool isn't heated. Yes, it's cold at eight o'clock in the morning. (No, it isn't any warmer at eleven when I have to get IN with John's class.) Yes, we're exhausted. Yes, we're doing it again in two weeks.

Today John's class donned the life jackets. The child whose mantra all week has been, "Let's go to the wall. I want the wall. THE WALL!" Suddenly spent the entire class period shoving off from the wall with his feet, backward, floating into the abyss; jumping, leaping and bouncing; shouting, "I CAN do it! I am so PROUD of me!" Well, that was worth far more than a mere $25 and two weeks without my morning coffee!

James' class has spent the majority of this week reviewing the objectives checklist. I think the instructor is bored. Or angry. Not sure which, but she hasn't gone into the water, just sits atop the wall, giving orders. It's dampened his excitement for going, but has not affected his enthusiasm to make it to Level II. Again, the changes! Wow. Two weeks ago, he was ready with a litany of grievances against anyone who would suggest he do anything as dangerous as put his FACE *gasp* IN the water. Now, he plunges and bobs, floats and flits, giggles and beams. Again, more than worth it, much more.

Jacob is going to join me under the bed for the caffeine-induced meltdown. He normally sleeps until 8:30, and being dragged from bed at some unholy hour only to sit in the bright sunshine and get splashed with cold water just isn't sitting well with him. He did, however, finally cut two bottom teeth. He's raging pissed about that. Oh, and he's cruising along the furniture now. I think he's trying to escape...

Plans are in motion for some fun science trips at the base, geared specifically for 5-7 year olds. I am quite excited about that.

We are also looking at starting a homeschool-oriented Cloverbuds club in the county. There are two great 4-H groups, but all their Clovers have moved up and there were none to replace them, so it died out on the younger end. That has the potential to be a great experience for kids and parents alike.

Tomorrow Zorak has the day off work. He'll join us for James' class, and James is on cloud nine for that! (Zorak has been taking his lunch break during John's class to come and sit with the baby since I have to be in the pool, and James has been somewhat sad that Daddy hasn't come to see him swim. So this will be good.) Then it's the same old stuff- groceries, cleaning, and enjoying another day through the eyes of the boys.

Have a wonderful Friday!