Sunday, October 31

I'm going to collapse into a pot of coffee and HIDE!

I suppose it's time for Auntie Dy's Halloween Costume Tips. Last year, Auntie Dy focused on the absolute absurdity of the Occasional Seamstress (being one who only sews occasionally, and not quite well, at that) having the lack of foresight, or sense, to think that modification of a costume is "easy".

This year, Auntie Dy wants a stiff drink and a funny movie. This year's tip has more to do with motivation than with technique.

It is six o'clock, and she has just finished stapling (yes, stapling) the velcro onto her middle child's "meat-eating dinosaur" costume. (Of course it's modified... it was a cute playful fleece dragon pattern, according to the cover. Well, now it's made of lizard pleather, and it's a big-scary-meat-eater). Zorak The Costumeless One (I did offer to make him a great billowy pirate shirt and tight britches, but he thought that was just a little weird... probably something to do with the accent I used or the gleam in my eye) is now out with The Doctor (didn't have time to write "NMD" on his little scrubs, but we think of him that way), and The Dalmation (gotta really appreciate friends whose children are just a year's size older than yours!) and The Freshly Minted Dinosaur, canvassing the neighborhood, searching for goodies.

As I came flying down the hall wearing a pleather helmet with overstuffed spikes flowing down the back, carrying extra velcro in my teeth and bearing a limp dinosaur with one humongous tail protruding from the side, I swore under my breath that this is the last year I will ever make costumes! Ever! As I kicked the appallingly determined scraps of fleece which clung to my foot and removed a strip of velcro from one of the helmet spikes (a strip of velcro I'd spent a good twenty minutes trying to find), I was thinking that I would rather undergo liposuction that do this again.

I'm not organized enough! I'm not talented enough! The meat-eating dinosaur looks like a very good example of mid-extinction dinosaurs. If it were a fossil, archaeologists would be plotting one another's untimely deaths to get their lab tests on this thing. I'm not a seamstress! This isn't "my thing"!

Then John put it on.

He spun around and looked it over.

He took my face in his hands.

He kissed my nose

and told me that this is the best costume in the whole wide world.


I wonder what we'll make next year?

Happy Halloween, all! Kiss those babies!


Friday, October 29

A Quiet Day of Preparation

Our beloved Zorak will return this evening; exhausted, I'm sure from a week away. We've had a nice morning thus far of preparations: tidying, wash, and freshly made muffins (using spelt flour, which, for the record, doesn't rise as well as I anticipated and I didn't think to use honey, hmmm- they did taste quite good, though), and we are now settling down for some enjoyable reading time and a light lunch in a bit.

Off to discover a good recipe for supper. We're frighteningly low on meats at the moment, and Zorak would think we didn't want him home if I were to prepare a meatless meal for his return! So, the ads are in the paper and if we can find something that sounds scrumptious, we'll be off to the market for supplies and home to create a warm, inviting smell to greet him at the door- along with the delighted squeals and toppling hugs of three happy children.

Probably no blogging tonight, but I hope you'll understand.

Kiss those babies!

Books, books and more books!

As y'all know, I've been enjoying my first encounter with O'Brian's nautical historical fiction. One element of his writing that has left me simply slack-jawed with admiration is the skill with which he introduces conflict into the storyline. It's subtle, and while you can look back and say, "Oh, of course," you cannot do that mid-read. Nope, just sneaks up on you, much the way conflict does in true life, as well. I am only on the first book, Master and Commander, but even so, his characters are so well-developed and I am enjoying getting to know them.

I have, in sheer self-defense, had to incorporate reading Chapman's Piloting & Seamanship to my pile. All those nautical terms! Why did I start this book the week Zorak was gone? Not one of my better plans.

Christ of the Covenants- it's spooled up in the queue. I'm looking forward to reading it.

The boys are reading some neat books, too. If I have time tonight I'll put them in the sidebar (where they will sit for months like that, even though we will have rotated books out many times over... it's a false hope to think I will maintain the sidebar like that.)

Kim mentioned The Five Love Languages the other day on her blog. It got me thinking and pondering. James is such a quality time kinda kid. This week has been hard on him, really, and it hit me today that a big part of that may be the lack of quality time, of any reasonably decent one on one time. So, after a very long and trying day (but with its good points, definite good points!) I let him stay up late, after the other two were asleep. He and I snuggled in the bed under the soft flannels and the comfy sheet and read stories he picked. We read Owl at Home (Lobel) and a few chapters of The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (Dalgliesh). We spent an hour together and talked about more than just the stories. We talked about imagination and writing stories, about lineages and legacies, about family and love. He snuggled in and let out a dreamy sigh, more relaxed than he's sounded all week. "What's on your mind, buddy-bear?" I asked. He said, "Just you. I really love you." *sigh* "I love you, too, sweetheart. I love you, too."

I am anxious to recalibrate our schedule to allot for more intentional time with each boy. This is something I have always promoted, but sometimes forget to do myself. Well, it's not about temporary fixes or schedules, it's about life. This is it, the big engagement! It is who we are and what we do, and in the end, these are the things they will remember. It's actually easier to maneuver with the four of us, as that dynamic is very well-developed and fluid. We do well as a group. The individual time, however, requires making other arrangements and setting that time aside. I think I just got lazy, but that's still no excuse. That's not what I want to be telling them when they are adults, "Oh, yes, I loved and cherished each of you so much... but didn't make the extra time to spend with you individually." No. That will not be happening. So, now that I see where I've dropped the ball, I am anxious to pick it up and continue on enjoying the boys- all together, and individually. :-)

Well, on that note, it's just a little after midnight... I'm going to hit the hay "early" tonight and enjoy some one on one time with a good book, too!

Kiss those babies, one at a time and all together!


Wednesday, October 27

Little Bit O' Everything

First, Jess needs prayers for her 3yo son, Craig. The poor little guy isn't healing properly from his surgery. Tonight the doctor said if he started bleeding again he'd call him in for surgery. Sure enough, Geo no sooner got little Craig home than it started up again. She called me on the way out the door and we prayed. I'd like to ask the rest of you to join in prayer for Craig tonight.

On to less pressing matters, then.

We just returned from viewing the eclipse through a telescope over at the Wonderful Neighbors' place. Wow, oh wow. John thought the moon was emptying out, certain that it wouldn't fill back up. The thought that the moon may be dimmed permanently didn't seem to bother him at all, though. James has a better grasp of what's going on, and WonderfulNeighbor Husband is just the best with the kids. He took the time to explain the rarity of a total lunar eclipse, and answered the zillion and one related questions (and, being that they're only four and six, they also had a zillion and one unrelated questions, which he fielded as well.) James decided the first person to see the full eclipse through the telescope should be nicknamed "Eclipse" (for however long these things last when you're six). We (kinda sorta) made certain it was him. WonderfulNeighbor Girl brought out her planets book and the kids had a fun time going through the phases of the moon and the process of an eclipse. (It's really fun to have neighbors who also homeschool.)

We missed the Skates & Rays exhibit today because I took a seriously delightful nap with Jacob. The boys had some much-needed quiet time, as well. They read together through some new books and some old favorites. We plan to go tomorrow after Spanish co-op.

I had such a wonderful moment over lunch today! John asked me to read a book he'd picked out at the library; Miracle, the True Story of the Wreck of the Sea Venture (by Gail Langer Karwoski). I read the cover notes aloud (which is a great way to give the kids an idea of what to expect in longer books), and what do you know, the story of the Sea Venture was the basis for Shakespeare's The Tempest. (No, two and two did not make four all on their own for me- I was spoon-fed that part.) The warm fuzzy actually came when James became quite wide-eyed, hurriedly swallowed his milk and said, "William Shakespeare? Mom, he wrote Hamlet, too! Neat!" Ohhh, that felt wonderful. Just wonderful, indeed.

Now don't panic on me here, we haven't waded into reading Shakespeare aloud (yet, but we do plan to do it!) We have, however, regularly talked with the boys about the plays and stories of Shakespeare. There are so many wonderful allusions to his work that you run across in other reading, and if you don't know about it, you'll miss it! You don't want to miss this stuff. Anyway, as an aside, Miracle itself is thoroughly enjoyable, as well. We're reading through it first as a story and will go back to explore the sidebars separately.

The boys are certainly full-out in the throes of being four and six. John has taken to tucking his pant-legs into his socks, for whatever reason I cannot figure. Evidently it's comfortable, and makes perfect sense when you're four. (James did the same thing, only with his boots, when he was four.) He looks like a little Dickensian urchin with the pants puffed out above the socks at the knees. Where is that "I dressed myself today" button when you need it?

James has developed an incredibly full-bodied dance he calls The Karate Dance. It's silliness to the core. He rescues, watches or plays with any creature that comes within the parameters of our property, and gets terribly giggly over the silliest things.

They speak gibberish to one another and laugh until tears stream down their red little faces. They pretend to be robots while gathering laundry (you have to push the start button each time they wind down). They climb into bed in the morning to snuggle under the "fluffy sheet" (what they call the down comforter) and make the day's plans with whispered tones of excitement, as if we're organizing a super surprise party. They're really, truly, wonderfully great kids. I'm having such a great time with them, and even though this week is pretty long, it's still so good.

Let's see, well as most of y'all know, the WTM forums have been shut down, pending some serious growing up on behalf of the posters. *sigh* I don't blame the folks for putting their webmasterly feet down and saying, quite simply, "Enough!" It's sad, and I'll miss the Accelerated Learner board terribly. However, the patience and fortitude the folks at Peace Hill Press have shown in continuing to maintain a safe, healthy online environment, hitting the "delete" button and repeatedly requesting that people just play nice... is there a medal for that? If so, they do deserve it. I hope they know that the majority of us have enjoyed and appreciated that forum and we look forward to a day when it can be maintained with a minimum of babysitting required. At least we hope that day will come, but after watching things deteriorate over the past year or so, I can't say I'd blame them if they decided to just nix the whole feature.

And boy-oh-boy, am I glad we have our blogosphere to help us keep in touch now! What do you want to bet several of us (myself included) become much more regular bloggers now? *wink* Oh, and BTW, Patty in WA- if you're out there, hon, you really need to start a blog! And you have mail, too.

Anyhow, I hope tonight brought you clear skies and warm memories. It's time to run through tomorrow's plans and reading and then I'm going to go sail the Med with Capt. Aubrey. *grin*

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, October 26


You know that sensation of dread when you're drinking a liquid... a pure liquid with nothing in it but liquid, not pureed or anything like that... and something sort of solid brushes past your lip on its way into your mouth...

I hate that.

Gotta love having a one year old.

And no, I didn't bother to see what it was, just spit, gag and dump. I don't want to know!

Kiss those babies (and check your cup if they'd been near it!)

Park that stroller

We had a big outing today! It was a lot of fun, and we went with three of our favorite people: Wonderful Neighbor and her two daughters. It was quite an adventure. We drove up to some place north of here (lots of traffic), took the Metro (stuck out like the newbie to rail transit that I am), and then to the National Zoo. The boys were awesome, but we tried to do too much too fast. We tried to keep up with Wonderful Neighbor, who has a stroller.

Now, I've never been a fan of strollers, but couldn't put my finger on just what it was that didn't sit right with me. Today, though, it hit me. A stroller tends to take all the pack mule-type stress off the Mom. It makes the smallest ones perfectly portable. And... an unfortunate side effect of all these nifty features is that Mom then tends to continue to move at her stride, her pace. That's fine and dandy for the child who gets the ride, but for pedestrian wee ones, it makes for a very long haul. (For the pack mule Mom who is accustomed to moving at her children's paces and not that of a perfectly-mobile Mom, it's an exhausting experience.) Wonderful Neighbor took it in good humor when I pointed out that her daughter is quite the trooper and I was ready to keel over in the bamboo at that pace. *whew* I can't imagine trying to get through today if my legs were any shorter than they are.

No, I prefer the non-vehicular means of exploring. It does feel good to know why now. And I understand a little better "how" we're able to enjoy big expeditions and short jaunts alike. We don't see the whole zoo in one trip, and we don't try to hustle through. We mosey. We meander. We like the amble part of ambulatory. We see a portion of things, but enjoy that portion immensely. We'll definitely go back to the zoo- the kids all get on so well, but hopefully nex time it'll be sans stroller.

Thank you, all, for sharing your insights and suggestions on writing! Tomorrow is a trip to the library and books are on hold. I would, naturally, love to be paid for writing. That in itself would feel like a tangible validation that I'd attained some level of competence. It isn't the driving force for writing, though, which is probably good. Is it a realistic goal to incorporate into this particular season of my life? Perhaps, but perhaps not. I don't know that I am willing to give what it would require, nor to ask of my husband and children what they would have to give. Knowing that is good. That's a place to begin. From there, maybe James would lend me one of his Ticonderoga #2's and Zorak would let me commandeer a fresh pad of paper. You know, just to work it out and see if there's a path leading from the corner.

I must apologize for thinking Shirley Hazzard may be "chick-lit with big words". She and I had some time the other night to sit down over a cup of coffee once the boys were down, and while I'm not flying through the book (due mostly to very few decent-sized chunks of time the past few days), I did find myself enjoying The Great Fire long before the 50 page cutoff. Patrick O'Brian, however, is also vying for my time and attention. I need my Sailor Dog here to help me translate some of the nautical terms, but the rest of his writing just picks me up and carries me along. What fun!

And so, to bed.
Kiss those babies! And amble with them, as well.

Sunday, October 24

Make some tea, this is a rambler!

It's chilly out! I have no idea what the temps are- don't really care to know. I think that's why I never put up a weather pixie here (aside from the fact that she simply doesn't wear sweaters nearly often enough); if it's hot out, I'd sit there and stare at her, trying to will the numbers to go down, and if it's cold, I'd try to figure out just where that magic level is- temperature and humidity... riiiiiggghhhhhtttt... ohhhh, yeah, right there. Then I'd snort at her whenever the readout was too high from that. Ha, yes, I'd obsess. Reminds me of my Mother, who would will herself to be as miserable as she thought the temperature merited, even when she was indoors and quite well-insulated from the outside air. Nah, no sense in egging on genetic tendencies. They'll surface eventually without my aid, I'm sure. I will, however, say that it's absolutely beautiful out! How's that?

Zorak headed out this morning (way too early) after coffee with me and breakfast with the boys (which we savored). The boys had hoped to drive him to the airport, but sufficed with some snuggle time at the kitchen table (the heart and hearth of our home) before he loaded them into the Suburban and waved to them through the rain-coated windows. He headed for Baltimore, and we headed for church. After a nice morning, then a quick run up the road to church, it felt good to settle in among others and enjoy the class, enjoy the company, before returning to a tidy and entirely-too-quiet home.

Ok, this has been coming for a few days. Get more tea (or coffee, naturally) and get comfy. I've been picking my own brain on stories, writers, and the way things work since finding myself on the flattened end of a breath-sucking epiphany the other night... Now I'd like to pick yours. The thoughts aren't as clear as they were when they originally surfaced. This bit will be more like the retelling of a faded dream, and for that, I apologize.

One of the themes propelling the last few Dark Tower books is that the story of the Dark Tower is one that had to be told (ka willed it, to use the familiar) and King was merely a facilitator, an avenue, for the story to be told. I know this is commonly said in writing- if you listen (or feel, taste, pick a sense, any sense) you'll *insert form of sensory input here* the story itself, writing itself through you. Yeah. You know, I have a cousin who channels dead voices, and I've never been able to do that, either. So. OK, *sigh* I'm not a Medium for the many stories waiting to be told.

This revelation is sad, to me. I want to be used, and want to be useful in this way. I've stood on the edge of my vista and screamed to the sky, "Show me!" (Therapy eventually cured the nightmares from that particular writing course, where the mantra "show it, don't tell it" was repeated regularly and with cultish, rhythmic tones... I don't know if I really am the only one in the class who didn't get it, or if the others, each afraid to be the lone unbeliever at a spiritual revival, were simply shouting "Yes, Lord, Jesus!" for the benefit of the instructor. At the time, however, that never crossed my mind, so I sat there, mute and fearful that I had been lobotomized at some point in my life without ever realizing it.)

I often hear people asking writers, "What makes a good writer? How do you start? How do you know what to write?" I've asked those same questions myself. I've never received a helpful answer, either, and it's not through fault of accomplished writers who have tried to answer. From what I can tell, outside the realm of technical writing, there seem to be two schools of thought, (neither of which evidently falls under the realm of any muse to which I've been assigned): technical knowledge and the vein process. I've touched briefly on the repercussions of my attempts to learn the technical aspects of fictional writing (creative writing, if you will). I've taken courses and come away more confident in my ability to, well, to write myself into a corner - usually a well-furnished and comfortable corner, but one from which there is no hope of escape. Each course has brought only a finer ability to upholster the furniture or develop the characters stuck in said corner. That's about it. The depth of my abilities as a writer hinge on one major theme: interior design. I can't carry a fictional plot to save my life, but by golly I can sure build a great character and one fine travois for someone else to haul!

The other school of thought comes from Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith*; "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." This is probably as succinct as it will ever get. For us laypersons, the rough translation would be something along the lines of, "We don't know how we do it. We just do it, and we do it wholeheartedly." There you have it. Engineers refer to this very same phenomena as the "PFM box". Don't know how it works, it just does. Yup. OK. So, well, at least that leaves something to work with. If I can change the travois to something waterproof and buoyant, perhaps I could get my characters out of the corner that way, on the flow of blood. Not the nicest way to travel, but hey, if they want out of that corner...

Anyhow, this brings me full circle. I'm not asking "the writers" out there, for you have made your path and know full well that the view from atop the hill is not as clear as it seemed it would be en route. It's ok. People pester y'all enough as it is. So, in the spirit of pooling our resources, I'm asking my fellow travelers. Other writers, other dreamers, others who peek longingly over the edge of that fine line - why do I picture Qaddafi's "Line of Death" when I say that - and plot, plan and scheme to write themselves over that line. Do you think stories wait to be told, or do you think they are drawn from a subconscious existence into the full light of awareness? Do they then begin requesting to be written? Do they talk? Would you be willing to admit in public to hearing one speak to you?

I'm sitting here (on my nicely upholstered chair in my well-appointed corner), working my way through these points. I know full well that I'd be a card-carrying member of one of the "third rate writer's groups" so deigned by some. *shrug* It's ok. You've gotta start somewhere. In the meantime, the coffee is hot. The walls are dingy, and the windows need cleaning, but the company is honest and lively. The dreams are vibrant, and the tension of anticipation keeps things moving along. The ideas, scattered and incomplete as they are, are beautiful in their mosaic gleam. Won't they be magnificent once we figure out what to do with them?

I've got to admit, too, that the furniture is quite comfy here. *grin* Let me know when the next seance is, ok?

Thanks for the afternoon ramble. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, too.

Kiss those babies!

* A thousand thanks to Chris from the WTM forums for hunting down the author of that quote. I searched for two hours and found most sites attribute it as "author unknown"- and one writing professor at a University attributes it to a freshman student in his WU130 writing class.

Less Inspired

Ah, I ought to have blogged about stories and telling and such while those thoughts were busy tearing their way through my mind. They were clear then (as if something that's tearing at you could be somewhat vague and fuzzy?)

Finished The Dark Tower. Now munching on Shirley Hazzard's The Great Fire. Chick-lit with big words? I don't know. Not far enough into it yet to say. *shrug* We'll see. I did find it interesting, however, to stumble upon a direct reference in King's book to Hazzard as a writer whose words demanded to be read, held importance. My eyes flicked uneasily over to her book, lying in wait, and I thought, "Well, alrighty then."

Today we trimmed boy hair and ran many loads of wash. We purchased costume fabric and notions. We thoroughly enjoyed the boys and one another. Zorak prepared for another trip. I am tempted to whine, but really, this is not bad. A friend's hubby is gone much more frequently and she has managed not to develop a maniacal tone to her laughter yet, so there's hope for me, right?

More books waiting for us at the library. Happy Mom!

The National Zoo is calling us. This means a train ride. Happy Boys!

The days are beautiful and deeply chilling. Miserably unhappy WonderfulNeighbor.

I feel almost guilty for being so enraptured with the weather lately. (However, she can now wear a size four jean, so... it's a fair trade.)

The boys are enjoying their new hoodies (hooded pullover sweatshirts).

I am somewhat envious. They look so snuggly and warm in there!

It's almost one. The last load is drying. Zorak wants to check his email, so I am going to sign off. However, hopefully there'll be a lull tomorro in the roar that is our daily life and I can blog more coherently about the stories...


Friday, October 22

Scratch That

OK, I had a blog all written up and ready to go...

Then I settled in with Roland and what's left of his ka-tet.

King went off on a tirade, though- somewhere around page 547- which got me thinking, and so- scratch the previous blog, I'm going to talk to myself for a little.

I really love to read. It's not an easy feeling to explain, so I won't even try, really. I couldn't do it justice. A good way to illustrate (although I don't quite expect this to make sense to anyone but Zorak and the waitress at the truck stop in Las Cruces) is that when Zorak gives me a book- of any kind, for any reason- I find it almost (but not quite) as romantic as when he bought me an arm guard in 1996. I still have that arm guard, too. *insert giddy sigh here*

This love of reading has not exactly made me into a connoisseur of literature. (I think of books in terms of food, for Pete's sake!) My appetite for just about anything printed and bound, however, has led me down some interesting (?) paths, introduced me to some fascinating ideas, made me cry, made me laugh, and in the end, brought me to a place where I am happier with life-as-it-stands than with fairy tales on film. It doesn't always work that way, I know. That's just how it's been for me. I'm not one who is willing to forego a good coffee and brainstorm session with Zorak, either. It's not like that, really. I don't even think I'm more... whatever it is, because of it. But it's there, and I really do love it.

So where was this going? Well, nowhere, really- just... oh, yes, the ignorance of youth (mine, specifically, nobody get yer panties in a bunch over such a generalization!) Does anybody else remember sitting in World History class and hearing the instructor (Oh, slave master that he was!) assign something unbearable, such as pp. 221-263 to be read by Thursday? Anyone? The groans! The cries of injustice! How could he do that? Ohhh, or worse yet, assign such a tedious task on a *gasp* Friday, due on Monday? What?! Has he no life? Whatever will we do?

Yeah, I joined in the chorus. I whined my fanny off. I applied every ounce of leverage I could pull to get such a sentence lifted. *snort* Wow, no wonder our cries fell on deaf ears. So then, twenty-mumble-mumble years later, here I am- I checked out The Dark Tower on, what was it, Monday night? Just hit page 550, and that's only because we have, you know, things to do. Meals to cook. Showers to take. (There are just some places you can't, or shouldn't, take a library book.) Oh, and we lost our electrical power last night around nine. I read until our only candle was a nub and felt I really ought to save a bit of it. (It was short to begin with.)

Now, I'm not equating Stephen King with the texts of McGraw-Hill and company. I'm just laughing in that semi-embarrassed, ironic way that's pretty much become a part of me. I'm laughing at life. Yup. It's awkward. I whined over having to read a whopping forty-two pages in a week. Now I'll gobble that in an evening, and take notes on my own, to boot! (Not because I'm such a scholar, but because my memory just doesn't hold up so well these days.) I wouldn't do high school over again for anything, but I sure would love to have been able to keep my head on straight enough to soak up and make good use of all that guided, directed education while I had it in front of me, with a dedicated time slot set aside each day; much better than expending so much energy and creativity in trying to get out of it! Now I get to devote twice the energy and create my own time slots, make my own dedications.

And I do mean "get to"- I'm thankful that I can do that! How exciting to know that although I made my own road a bit rougher to travel, it isn't inaccessible by any means. The journey is still possible, and still sweet, even though the eyes may water and the joints may creak a bit now.

My hope is that the boys will see the love burning constanly, and watch the discipline - the self-discipline - growing, and that they will see it as "normal". I want it to be just as normal to them to pick up a biography or a great novel as it is to go to the market for groceries or hold the door for strangers. Just add it to the list of things I hope to model well enough that they don't have to wrangle it later on in life themselves. That's the best we can do, isn't it?

It's the story we can tell.
And tomorrow I'd like to talk about stories that want to be told...

But right now it's nearly four, and I'm going to be one tired Mama come sun-up! Kiss those precious babies!


Wednesday, October 20

Reading Our Way Through The Week

Once in a while we land upon a book that just makes us all say "Wow!" This week we've found another one: The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins. Along the lines of The Librarian Who Measured The Earth, it's a child-sized biography. (We need more of those! The boys are thoroughly enjoying them, as are Zorak and I. Anyone else know of some great child-sized bios they'd like to recommend?) It's engaging, the illustrations are delightful, and the boys took an immediate and deep dislike to "Boss" Tweed.

Speaking of which... it's funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same. I've read so much of the nastiness in this election: the intimidation, bullying, badgering, vandalism, even assaults. It's making me absolutely nauseaus. For all the talk of respecting the opinions of others, there is terribly little true respect being shown in America this year, and even less of the so-called tolerance that's supposedly en vogue (a word which I really don't like to use, anyway, as it denotes a certain elitism- in that they will tolerate the poor plebes who aren't enlightened enough to agree with them. Urk.) I really don't get it. There are so many of us here in the blog-circle who are of incredibly diverse philosophies and backgrounds, faiths and ideologies, and yet we don't run about knocking one another in the head and vandalizing each other's blogs. I'm certain we wouldn't be doing it if we actually lived next door to one another, either. What is wrong with some people that they are so threatened by the opposing viewpoint that they cannot abide a little respect for fellow human beings?

Blech. Anyway, politics aside, it's been such a nice week. The weather has been grey and drizzly. It's just gorgeous. Yesterday we had hot chocolate and read, read, read. We played on the front lawn with the Wonderful Neighbors (who have also recovered from the Sneaking Snot). Tomorrow is the hs group's corn maze/pumpkin patch field trip. The boys remember last year's corn maze and they're so excited to go again. John asked, "OH, will it have dead ends and a map and everything?" I love watching those connections string together year-by-year. These are among the memories they're building. We hope to make them warm and loving ones; great and small.

We've done music daily this week, and it has made such a difference! Recorder practice, rythm games, dancing in the living room, background music to our reading- it's been a smorgasboard of musical activity! Today, John, who would probably skip the second coming of Christ if there's a good movie showing, said he didn't want to watch a movie this afternoon because, "We might miss all this nice music!" He danced back through the kitchen and left Zorak and I standing, jaws agape. Well... cool. This is a definite keeper!

We have to make Halloween costumes this weekend. I've got to find a duck pattern for James and figure out a Lone Ranger costume for John. Need to get on that, eh? I'm such a procrastinator! It's embarrassing, really. Nobody's fault but mine, I know. Well, if we do get them done this weekend, it'll be the first time I've done it before the 30th, so that's an improvement. *grin* For those of you who are celebrating Halloween, what are your little ones going to be this year?

OK, well, my play-time is up. Kiss those babies and have a wonderful Wednesday evening!


Tuesday, October 19

Peering over the stack

Mm, I love the day after a trip to the library! We treat it like a Federal Holiday.

I'm knee deep into Stephen King's final book (book seven) of The Dark Tower series. I can't believe this is the last one. Part of me wants to hurry through it to find out what happens, and yet I really don't want it to end.

James is parked on the floor, surrounded by books, sampling each one, going back to re-read the ones that were especially tasty. He squats down, resting on his toes, while he reads. I have no idea how he can do that for prolonged periods of time.

John is camped at the kitchen table with a dinosaur book we bought (10 cents! Gotta love the library sale!) and a cup of hot chocolate. You can hear the delight in his voice as he reads to himself.

Jacob, well, not quite the connoisseur of books yet. But he's so cute!

I love going to the library with the boys. They return their books, thank the librarian at the desk, wait patiently while I hand over my card and ask for the holds that are in. They then ask me if they may go read. At only six and four, I can say yes and let them head into the children's section of the library. I don't mean I say yes and then they're the librarian's problem. I mean they walk in, politely say hello to the children's librarian, and head for the stacks. They take out one book at a time, sit quietly to read it, start their own take-home stack. They don't yell, they don't squirrel around. I swear, they're more reverent in the library than they are in church! *grin* (OK, that's only a slight exaggeration- they're just really good in general.) Once they've amassed a good selection and I've collected the books I'd like to offer them during the week, we load up and head to the Mommy Side of the library. They stake out a table and sit to read through their stash. Sometimes. More often than not, however, we end up spending so much time reading and perusing the children's books that it's time to head out. I've learned to put things on hold so I don't miss out. It's painless and wonderful, and we all really enjoy it.

This didn't come immediately, and it didn't come easy, but it was worth the work and consistency over the years. Relatively short investment for the return.

Last night we went late in the evening. The beardie in the children's section was up and moving about. The place was packed with some kind of Chamber gathering. There was a sweet young girl of about 10 years old who took a shine to the boys and helped James find several good suggestions! We stayed until closing.

We stayed up late to read. Really late. But that's ok~ it was special day: Library Day!

So, we're off to enjoy our haul. Read to those babies!


Sunday, October 17


Well, yes, he appreciated not having to speak to the side of my head. That was nice. He's still not 100%, which is to be expected, since he was the last to come down with it. It was nice to visit and talk news a bit before he turned in for the evening. What a sweetie.

Jacob is officially our first child to escape from the crib. Ouch. Time to lower the mattress. With the older ones, we could tell when they were getting tall enough b/c they always stood by the side when we came in. Not Jacob, he sits there and waves at us when we walk in. Then he smiles and reaches up, but doesn't bother to stand. And it didn't dawn on us until tonight... *thud* Ah, well, he's been up for a few hours now, seems a-ok, no signs of a problem other than the uber-attractive goose egg on his forehead.

Oh, the white bread recipe turned out wonderfully! It's not Wonder Bread, by any means, but it's more tender than the stuff we normally buy at the market. I wonder how good it'll be when I actually leave it alone and let it rise? He he. Pesky directions. Zorak even ate a piece and said it's better than most of the storebought stuff available. Not that he leapt up and down, declaring we should market it... but he ate it, and that's saying a lot.

This week we'll be a bit busy, diving back in after being ill. Time to kick up the pace on our Latin routine. Math is coming along swimmingly. Need to find a fun thing for John to do after his phonics lessons- I'm thinking PlayDoh, outside. Need to incorporate more music and rythm activities into our day. And I'd like to add hiking and swimming to our week- although where, I'm not sure yet. Thursday is the homeschool group's trip to one of the farms in the area. I am SO excited about that!

The Property Mgmt. company is sending someone out tomorrow to check the heater and get it ready. That was nice of them. We didn't expect it, certainly. Too bad we've already changed the filter and flushed the system. Maybe there's something else they check? I dunno.

Oh- yesterday when the boys returned, Zorak told me that as they'd pulled up, James said, "Every place has its own feel, but nothing feels as good as home." I'm so glad he likes his home and feels good about being here. That's why we do what we do, and why we are who we are. I hope he'll always feel that way.

Well, I'm off to an "early" bedtime. Have a wonderful Monday!

Kiss those babies and give 'em extra lovin's!

An Amazing Weekend

Mmm, this is the good stuff (in no particular order):

Finding ALL the library books that need to go back! ~ Getting the call I've been waiting for from the library! (No, not the one about exempting my late fees for all eternity, although that would be nice. A book is in that I've been dying for!) ~ Finding corduory pants for the boys. ~ Being able to breathe again after two weeks of the Sneaking Snot! ~ Wearing sweaters because I can (and not because I have this awkward addiction to sweaters). ~ Baking breads and enjoying each other's company.

We bought more pipes today to add to the boys' collection. This time we went with 3/4" (we had 1/2"). We bought a 10' length of pipe, a handful of adapters and a couple of valves! Guess what the boys have been doing all afternoon?

I've decided that it's time to collect all the Wheat-Free recipes we love and use. They need to be somewhere other than floating at random in my head. Free range is great for cattle, not so great for mental processes. I'm also going through a Bread book we have, adapting recipes from there. We'll see how it goes. Tonight's bread is the "Basic White Bread". I got impatient (well, I got a late start, truth be told), so I cheated and used egg whites to help it rise rather than waiting the full two hours. Probably not the most auspicious start, I know. However, it's starting to smell great!

Also found this neat-o site: Gluten-Free Links! I can't even begin to sort through it all now, but if you're Wheat-Free please do go check it out. Then come back and let us know what your favorite find is!

Time to get serious about Fall. (And here ya'll thought it couldn't get any worse!) Fall is the time I enjoy doing my Spring Cleaning, redirecting the flow of our lifestyle, and just touching base in general. It's the time that both boys seem to be ready to settle in for afternoon teas to begin again, as well. Mmm, very good stuff, indeed.

Ah, I'm going to have to come back to blog later. Zorak wants to visit, so he probably wants me to look at him rather than the monitor. ;-)


Saturday, October 16

Loving Your Home

How many of you really love your home? I don't mean this in the terms of having the dream house with the picket fence and all the architectual style and amenities that you've always dreamed of having at your disposal. I mean, quite simply, do you love your home? Is it a place your children enjoy being and your husband loves to return to after a long day at work? Is it a space that makes you smile when you look up from a book, or stand in the doorway and look around? If so, what makes it that way? If not, why not? What's stopping you?

It is so easy, in this day of mail order everything and high-impact marketing, to convince ourselves that "if only the bathroom had more space, or the kitchen had more cabinets, or the living room had a better layout", our homes would be the places we want them to be. And so, we grouse about, waiting for that magical time to come...

You do know it doesn't work that way, right? The happiness and health of a home isn't directly dependent upon the architectural design or number of Pampered Chef products you can cram into the few cabinets you do have. Feng Shui be darned! It's not about the "stuff", it's about the people in the home and what they actually do with the stuff they have.

Zorak and I believe in form taking a backseat to function. Admittedly, sometimes form gets kicked right out of the family car because we're too busy enjoying the things we do and need a little more leg room to stretch out. Our things work for us, we don't work for them. If the two - form and function - happen to emerge from the same process, well WOOHOO! Major bonus. But we made the conscious decision not to be slaves to our home. I do very little dusting because of this: not that my home is dusty and gross, but there is very little to dust. It's not a high-return on my investment of time.

Three things converged on me mid-laundry load today which brought this to mind.

1) I've heard a lot of "how do you do it" questions this week. While I appreciate the compliment, it starts to feel a bit creepy after a while. I can't answer that question honestly. I am not sure what I do that people don't get, or that they want to emulate, but cannot. I'm not a paragon of patience or creativity (oy, certainly not any combination of the two!) My home isn't scary-messy, but it's not museum quality spotless, either. It's Home. We love it, and you're welcome to visit. Zorak usually gives me a heads up phone call if anyone is coming over, but if he doesn't, I don't panic.

2) Then Mrs. M-Mv reponded on the WTM forums to the oft-heard how do you find the time query. Her response was articulate, as usual. She highlighted many things that just don't seem like they need to be expressed, but I suppose they do. Otherwise, they wouldn't be the points that so many people miss.

3) I'm washing linens now (eradicating what I hope and pray will be the last of the Sneaking Snot germs). I'm really happy about this - and laundry is not usually my forte. However, I have only two sets of sheets for our bed; one for summer, one for winter, and I love them both. They make me feel good when I climb into bed. The room looks inviting with the bed made up, even when the linens are mostly covered with books, as is usually the case. The comforter cover and pillow shams we picked up at IKEA last month for $19.99. I can wash them here at home- just strip 'em off and throw 'em in. Then I can go back to reading or writing or blogging. They don't require much of me, but I derive a great deal of pleasure from them (don't look now, but could that be form peeking from the bedroom door?)

The boys require more attention, tender care and interest than any of our household items. That's how it ought to be. Our home isn't picture perfect, but it's where we want to be when all is said and done. It's an extension of all we value, and who we are. I guess that's how we do it all. Maybe. I'm still not sure what the actual question is...

Anyhow, the boys are home! Time to gather library books and see what we can return. Have a truly fantastic Saturday, and Kiss those babies!


Friday, October 15

Downright Giddy: Oxygen & Math

Wow, I feel somewhat light-headed. I can breathe today, and it feels really good. I mean good as in tipsy-good. Wow.

I have to tell y'all why I love Math-U-See!
Today James was reading the optical illusions book we gave him for his birthday. One section is about patterns and logic, and he just loves that section. (Must get it from his father.) He found a new puzzle today, figured it out quickly, and then wanted to recreate it on a larger scale. (The puzzle was a "complete the pattern" type. It looks like this: 2, 4, 3, 6, 5, ?) The next thing I know he says, "Mom, what is 129 times two?" He'd made it that far on the scale without needing help! Wow. So, there's one neat thing about MUS in itself.

However, the part that got me just silly-tickled was that I could explain to him not just HOW to multiply 129 by 2, but WHY you do it that way, as well. I could show him what he was actually doing with the numbers, and could explain it in a way that he grasped and ran with it. That's something I never got in school. I just knew that you shift to the left, carry, add what you've carried, etc. Just do it that way because that's how it works. Period. Not anymore! *hee hee!* SO, we spent a while "playing" with math and multiple digit multiplication, I made up questions and James solved them. I finally moved on to something else when I started a new one with "361" and James said, "Ooo, multiplied by 174!" ...then he solved it. *whew* Anyone want cookies? Anyone? I'm going to have to order the MUS Algebra for myself next year!

Gotta make a BJ's run when Zorak gets home. I love Fridays. Especially chilly, rainy Fridays like today.

OK, if everyone will get me their favorite Mexican food recipes, I'll put them on our static website if you'd like. We'll call it the Festival Classico, or something equally cheesy. By the way, don't forget to share your favorites with the folks at Peace Hill Press! That cookbook is ON MY WISH LIST, and I plan to be very, very good so I can get it. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, October 14

Just a Quick Coffee Break

Yes, yes! We love good Mexican food! I'll share the pico de gallo recipe if Amy w/ share her Mexican Tomato Lime soup recipe! Oohhh, good stuff. Our friends last weekend brought us can upon can of green chile products! It has been such a good week for food in our house. We've had green chile & cheese broiled on fresh bread, green chile smothered pork steaks, green chile straight from the can. Zorak and I even threw green chiles into our bowls of potato soup last night. The big treat this weekend is going to be a huge concoction of Aunt B's famous Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole! *shudder of anticipation*

Had to smile at the Dr. Laura thing. I actually picked it up with the thought of previewing it in case I needed to recommend it to anyone (I hate recommending something I haven't read). Sadly, I had a very smug attitude that I certainly don't need it... but that's a false sense of accomplishment. I think we can all improve who and where we are, and how we are fulfilling and savoring our lives and duties. When things are good, though, it's easy to fall into complacency. (The the ultimate enemy of vigilance, no?) I forget that sometimes. We aren't struggling right now, and we aren't flat-broke anymore. We aren't stressed to the gills all the time, and aren't passing in the night amidst final exams and job interviews. It all feels so easy right now, and so good. Still, he deserves a wife who won't get complacent. I'd like for the mu-mu and bon-bons to always be a joke.

I'll see what I can do to distill the book, but not while we're all still sick. Zorak fell victim sometime during the night. He awoke this morning, called in sick, and went straight back to bed. He's still out. I think it's going to hit him hard. We'll let him sleep til noon, then wake him for food. He'll be back out shortly after that and will most likely sleep til after supper. That's how Zorak gets sick. He wobbles about for a week, fighting it off, and when it hits him, he's out cold for about 24 hours. Then he arises like the Phoenix, or more accurately, like a bear from hibernation: healthy, but famished. So we'll need to have food ready made and waiting. I like his method much better than my shuffling, snuffling, prolonged escapades, really. Someday I'll have to try it.

I had other thoughts, but that train has been delayed at the station. I just got mauled by a snotmonkey who needs some lovin's. Break time's over! Enjoy your wonderful Thursday. We're staying in one more day- the Spanish tutor called today to cancel. Seems her family was attacked by the creeping crud, too. (I think that's a misnomer, really- if it was just creeping, we could get a good distance from it and spray it with something to kill it, couldn't we? Hmpf. Needs a new name. Galloping Glob or Sneaking Snot... something.)

Anyhow, kiss those babies and give them extra lovin's (human contact and affection does wonders for the immune system- I shudder to think how sick we'd all be without our daily snuggles!)


Wednesday, October 13

Eyore Days

I love Eyore Days. They are grey. They speak slowly, and even when something really exciting happens... it doesn't cause a ruckus. They are good days for stuffed animals and stories under sheet tents, and soup.

Which brings me to blogging. The boys are curled up under fuzzy blankets, watching Ned sing sailor songs - the lyrics to which make me cringe now that I'm sitting here actually listening to them - and anxiously awaiting the emergence of the Nautilus. I'm making potato soup for supper and will throw together a loaf of Bob's Red Mill Wheat Free/Gluten Free bread in a couple of hours. (It's really good for soups if you make it with an extra egg yolk! That gives it a thicker crust that's just perfect for sopping up the remains in the bowl.) Might add fresh veggies and dip to the menu. We've got cabbage, but I'm really wanting to eat that steamed w/ garlic butter, and I want to serve something light and cool along with the soup. It's a texture thing. Makes a meal more of a sculpture than a stick figure. I make enough stick figures elsewhere, but the meal table ought to be a masterpiece.

This brings me to Dr. Laura (notice the smooth transition phase I'm in today... like buttah!) I finished reading The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. This book is a must read, even if you don't like Dr. Laura. Even if you think your marriage is just great, and especially if you think it's not about you (it's about him) and you'd read it only shortly after Hell froze over, read it. You don't have to like or agree with everything- just glean. Gleaning is good for you. Anyhow, this book is about remembering why you married your guy in the first place, then acting like it. It's about the honor, respect and dedication that marriage deserves. Zorak and I have a wonderful marriage (I checked with him before I spoke for him, too, *grin*) yet there were some really good tips, reminders, and general "I know this is a ways out there, but just keep an eye out for this... and this..." type items. Good stuff. Remember when I blogged about vigilance? It will always be crucial, and will always be an inherent part of our roles in tending to our families. Be vigilant. Slaying dragons is hard work.

While we're talking of books (couldn't think of a good dragon segue, sorry), we figured out the food-related recommendation for Eats, Shoots & Leaves!! It's a Flinstones vitamin! It's good for you, but you wouldn't know it from the yummy taste. It's chewable, and fun, too! So there ya go- take a vitamin and enjoy the book.



AMY, Dying?! No. Not dying, changing. Morphing, if you will. You don't like Autumn in all it's "Yea! We aren't going to combust spontaneously in this heat" glory??? Silly Texan. Fall is wonderful! Things aren't dying, they are slowing down and preparing to refresh and rejuvenate. They are spending less time branching out and more time putting roots deeper into good soil. See, Good Soil. Coincidence? I think not. Come over, we'll bake and enjoy the weather. Maybe we could get Donna down here to get us to do crafty things. :-)

OK, soup needs tending, children need snuggling. I'm off. Thanks for the coffee break, y'all. Have a lovely evening!


Tuesday, October 12

Santa Daddy, and Life in General

Last night I watched Zorak smile widely and eat an entire handful of Veggie Stix, which he despises, one "delightful" bite at a time. He simply could not refuse the deleriously happy baby who was feeding them to him. The smile was worth fighting the gag reflex.

As if that wasn't sexy enough, tonight he came home from work bearing gifts:

Thera-Flu for Mommy
Honker Horns for the boys' bikes (one b/c James' broke when he wrecked a few months ago, and the other b/c John needed one for his bike)
Fuzzy fleece hoodies for the small children who have both outgrown their jackets from last fall
Tissues with lotion in them even though he may accidentally wipe his glasses with one and get the lenses all smeary
Cough Drops! Oh, ambrosia!

And he didn't make fun of me for the seriously lame dinner my oxygen-deprived brain came up with! WOOHOO!

Oh yeah, he is very, very cool.


My "how to do stuff" book was written by evil sadists. The first page explains how to cast on, knit, purl. The next page begins, "How knit with four needles" WHAT?!?! Tell me I've missed something- a page fell out of the book or something! Sheesh.

I've decided, by golly, that I will get this knitting thing figured out. I've known how for a long time, but have never been very good at it. I made a scarf for my niece once. It was six feet long and varied from 5" wide to 13" wide, depending entirely on how tightly I knitted. In some places it was waterproof! Of course, if I can overcome the horrible Home Ec sewing accident of 1984, what with the fingernail and the skirt and the shrieking and the failing... I'm pretty sure I can move beyond the scarf incident, too.

I am, however, really glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks it's just far easier to keep track of one needle, one stitch, and it all moves on its own! Voila!


Not much else going on here- quiet day, great game of dominoes after supper, warm lavender baths for the wee ones. Jeans in the wash, kitchen looks great. I'm going to go wrestle with some crafty form of activity and then hit the hay. (Switched out the sheets to flannel last night- oh, I do love Fall!)

Kiss those babies!

Some things I've been chewing on today~

I don't care what's in your wallet, but What's on your bookshelves? I was chatting with Dee last night and we were talkin' books. (Shocker, huh?) In an attempt to be helpful with suggestions for new titles, I glanced at the bookshelf that sits beside our computer desk... Claculus, Advanced Calculus, Basic Technical Mathematics with Calculus, Introduction to Heat Transfer... mmm, I think Zorak took over this bookshelf! Good thing we have others. Hee hee.


It is a beautiful thing when a child learns to blow into a kleenex. This is a point often taken for granted. Remember this.


Forgiveness isn't about allowing someone to repeat a destructive pattern on you again and again. It's about not allowing bitterness to fester within your own heart and freeing that person up to make positive changes without fear of retribution. That doesn't mean you have to keep permitting someone to continually hurt you. Even forgiving yourself makes it easier to move on and fulfill your own journey better. I think it's easy to forget just how healing and strengthening forgiveness really is, and how important it is to bring it into our lives. It ranks right up there with laughter, I think.


Knitting is a lot harder than crocheting. There, I said it, pelt me with balls of yarn. (But make it balls of that soft, squishy, fluffy yarn, please!) I'm trying to knit a hat. It's a simple hat, and it's an easy hat, and I can't get past knitting the first row before I either forget where I am in the process, drop a stitch because I needed to move, or get mauled by a happy, snot-covered baby. Knitting does not survive this onslaught well. Crocheting, however, fares much better. It's more resilient with fewer moving parts.

Gram's lap blanket for reading on the porch is actually starting to look like something! WOOHOO! The babies, however, may remain hatless.


Jacob doesn't really have a mohawk. I am not sure what was up with his hair the day we took those pictures.


Kim, it was just a commuter train we took across the river. Zorak wants so badly to take a "real" train, complete with sleeper cars and dining car, as a family vacation someday. Personally, I'm waiting for AmTrak to be privatized before I do that. It may be a long, long wait. But what FUN!

Hey, if you're ever feeling adventurous, take the family to Mexico to ride the train through the beautiful Copper Canyon! It's bigger than the Grand Canyon, and you can get off anywhere en route to spend the night, do some hiking, relax and soak in the scenery. Zorak went with his family when he was a young lad and it's still one of his fondest memories. It's one of the big trips we plan to take when the boys are a little older.


be, Zorak made up the definition. I can clean a house in no time flat and read a story with all the character voices, but he's the one with the gift for the unusual and creative. I'll pass along the kudos. :-) Good to see you again!


Why does John always get some of whatever he's eating in his hair? I'm not sure how this happens. He smells like raisins now and his hair is the envy of Mallrats everywhere. Aquanet and egg whites couldn't get hair this stiff.



I have become an Uber-Geek. How do I know this? It's easy.

Zorak tells the boys, "Go ask your mother." He does this more frequently than he used to.

My friends make fun of me because we'd go home and look up grates- the history of, and the different kinds and uses, when we got home. (Which I had actually planned to do, but I didn't tell them that while they were giggling at me, though.)

My favorite website: LOVE IT!

James asked at breakfast yesterday, "Mom, does 'plode' mean to move quickly in a certain direction? You know, like explode (he made arm movements going out) and implode (brought his arms back in)." Good question. Let's find out. So, we looked it up.

Then I spent the next five minutes chasing the boys from room to room, clapping loudly at them. (Go look it up and that will make more sense.)

But the big kicker, the ultimate proof...

Is that none of this strikes me as strange! ACK!


Sunday, October 10


Cybernation: n. a withdrawl from the internet for a period of time; most often signaled by a lack of blogging or commenting on message boards, also lack of email correspondence; length of cybernation varies, depending on the cause of cybernating, ranging from days to months (seldom years); is generally cyclical and temporary in nature
v. to cybernate, cybernating

There ya have it. That's where I've been. Thank you to all y'all (that is proper grammar, trust me) who have sent us well wishes and peeked in to see how we're doing. We cybernated, and hibernated. We skipped Spanish and swimming, even a much-anticipated trip to the park, in order to beat back the ickies that had camped in our nostrils. We're all feeling much better now, thank you.

We were all feeling much better on Friday afternoon (except for the Smidget, who we thought was possibly just teething, but he produced copious quantities of snot Friday night which proved us wrong), so we packed up and headed to Philly to meet up with some wonderful Invisible Friends. We all met on an expecting club for those with babies due in September 1998, and over the years we've kept in touch. This group of gals is just wonderful: they have been a source of laughter and fellowship, joy and worry, friendship and strength- both received and given. I don't know what I'd do without them, really. The only problem is that the trip was just too short, but that's better than having not gone at all, and it was great to sit around the coffee table and visit in person the way we've been doing for six and a half years online! (Photo pending permission from all the parties involved in the group shoot.)

Zorak went with us. I honestly thought he'd stay home and hunt (two days guilt free hunting time~ I'd have been all over that!) but he wanted to come with us, and that was great. The boys got to ride the train from Jersey into Philly, and James now wants to make certain we ride the train any and every chance we get! Let's hear it for public transportation!

We had a great time touring Philly, chasing ground squirrels, checking out the carvings on buildings and poking our noses into all the grates.

We stopped at a fire station to admire the fire-engines and wave to the firemen. That resulted in a wonderful invitation to tour the station! The boys had a great time, and we learned more about the different features on trucks than I could have imagined. It was a great surprise in our day.

KinderChoir ROCKS!! We made it today. We were an hour early thanks to a misunderstanding: our bedroom clock is an hour fast, so when we glanced over and saw that we had thirty minutes to get everyone showered, dressed, loaded up and on the way, we kicked it into high gear! We all piled into the Suburban breathless, and still somewhat damp, only to realize we had over an hour to spare. Ah, well, we had a good laugh over that and decided to get Squishies and enjoy them on the lawn at church.

The program is designed to be very parent-child interactive, and it's just beyond my wildest dreams for a program. I'm certain a lot of this has to do with the director: she has a passion for music that surpasses any I've seen. She has music centers set up for the children to enjoy before class begins. Tactile music notes, a table to make rubbings of the day's lesson (today was quarter notes), matching games, building games. Each table is tied to the lesson in particular and to music in general. The children have a wonderful time exploring. Then she sings them to the center of the room and begins the program. It's fully interactive and engaging, upbeat and positive. I cannot say enough good about this program, and am so thankful that we are able to enjoy it. The boys had a thoroughly splendid time and cannot wait to go back. An added bonus is that I now have some idea where to go next with our recorder lessons. *grin*

Boy, I've got a bunch to tell you, but this entry is too long already and I'm dying to go have coffee w/ the rest of you wonderful blog-buddies. So tomorrow ask me about Dr. Laura's Care and Feeding, Gram's lap blanket, and the perils of remembering how to purl (as in, "knit one, purl two", yeah, it sounds so simple...)

Love on those precious babies, and enjoy all these gorgeous leaves that are whirling about!

Wednesday, October 6

Snot-nosed Kids

Nope, not a rant about feral children. It's mine. They're not snot-nosed :: feral, they're snot-nosed :: stuffy-chested, lethargic, snot-infused, running a fever (each one- would that be fevers, plural?) In all, I have three very miserable little ones on my hands.

I've spent the majority of the afternoon trying to convince myself that it's probably just a 24 hour thing. I think I'm lying to myself. The conversation has gone like this:

They were a little punky way back on Friday, remember?
yes, i remember
Monday they had the snuffles and sniffles and started slowing down, remember?
yes, I remember
Yesterday they were all but slugs. Slow-moving, snuggly little slug-like creatures who napped like the wind, remember?
yes, I remember

Wow, it's been a long 24 hours!

Book Review & Lovely Mornings!

Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a wonderful book. It isn't the direction Lynne Truss offers us on proper punctuation that makes it such a fun and engaging read; it's her style. If you were to visit a quirky little village called Punctuation Towne, she'd be the local you would want to connect with early on in your visit. She puts her arm in yours and takes off down the boardwalk, pointing out the local color, sharing wonderful anecdotes about famous visitors, expounding on the local points of interest- all with an eye for the truly interesting that only a local can have. I haven't come up with a food category for Eats, Shoots & Leaves, but this is the book that will take you to the best local breakfast diner, the ultimate little bakery, and, if you pay attention, you'll also find the local brewery. After her tour, you feel you could find each one again without much fretting or frantic roaming.

It's FIFTY! Yep, fifty degrees at nine in the morning. Ahhhh, feel that Crisp! Feel that Chill! Feel that Fall! The boys are freezing, but it is just beautiful outside this morning! The car windows in the parking lot were frosted when I peeked out earlier, and the dew seemed crystallized on the lawn. Mmm, this is the good stuff! As a matter of fact, it calls for a snuggle on the couch in our jammies and some hot chocolate to start the day...

I can't believe Summer is finally at an end. While my mind knew it would end, my heart was so weary from the heat and the stickiness that it had honestly begun to wonder... sort of like the little child who just knows it takes a full year to get from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Off to enjoy the Fall air!

Monday, October 4

The end result

Well, supper has been eaten, the downstairs tidied, stories read and shopping done. We stopped for Squishies -Slurpees or ICEEs for some, but for Simpsons fans they are Squishies- after doing our shopping and had a lovely recalibration of the whole thing. For those of you who could laugh, I have to say I'm glad you read here. You "get" it! I was laughing, too (moreso once the RR kicked in, but even before- it was all that could be done). Without our ability to laugh at ourselves and with our friends, life would be depressing, to say the least. Anyhow, in all, the day was salvaged.

The Sea Monkeys, sadly, were not. And they were getting so big, too! But that's the way natural consequences work. If you insist on lifting the legs of the end table to put the beads around the legs of the table, eventually you will knock over the items at rest upon the top of the end table. This will include the water-filled container of creatures, and they will flail upon the carpet while you stare in utter disbelief (and your mother cringes from head to toe because, well, have you ever seen a large Sea Monkey?? And now that thing is in Mommy's carpet!) And Daddy will have to end their suffering with the wet/dry vac. And it is a sad day, but a day of learning. Natural Consequences; you can run, but not fast enough.

Zorak is just so cool! I hope the boys grow up to share his ability to see the ironic, the absurd, the hidden path, and to embrace it. Some days I hope they just manage to avoid needing to spend their tuition money on therapy. He spiked James' hair last night after bath and sent him into our bedroom, where I was putting away the wash. James let out a deep sigh (the one that says, "You people are so weird sometimes!") and said in a very monotone voice, "Dad said to come say, 'It's a nice day for a white wedding.'" He shouted back to the bathroom, "I did it." Then looked at me and said, "Mom, what is he talking about?" I glanced at my skinny, pale, white-haired boy with his hair sticking out in all directions, and promptly lost it. It was just too funny! I wonder if we can get him to do the sneer?

OK, and speaking of Billy Idol (what a segue- wham, you're just sucked right in, huh?), in my quest to find that excellent sneer pic, I found this article by Steve Tilley, reviewing a 2001 Idol show, the 80's, and the seemingly beneficial trade-off of banning Mony, Mony at school dances vs. going out back to drink behind the gym. Zorak and I did not have the upbringing we hope -pray- to give the boys, so this particular article made me laugh so hard I woke the baby.

And ya know what, y'all? I am bushed tonight! I have enjoyed Toad's Wild Ride, but it's time to get off and go find the Pepto - can you use that instead of creamer? - and let Zorak work some mojo on the computer. (I never know if he's actually doing work on the computer or if he's cruising the sales at Sportsman's Guide, but he does manage to look productive either way!) Have a lovely evening!


Breathe In... Breathe Out...

UPDATE: we got back on a good track. Jacob slept for two and a half hours and awoke much happier. Our Wonderful Neighbors Who Moved came by for a visit, so we all sat outside enjoying the gorgeous weather and wonderful company. The boys are much improved in their general mood, as am I. See, it was salvageable, and beautifully so, particularly with such a great surprise visit.

Now off to the market!


Breathe In... Breathe Out

Just me, havin' a "day" here. It's nearly ten-thirty, and here's how the day has gone by 9:30:

Jacob puked on me before we got out of bed.
James woke up sneezing and watery-eyed.
I gave him some Emergen'C, which he promptly set down.
Jacob saw that as a gloriously serendipitous opportunity to... dump the stuff in my boots. (That'll teach me to put them where they belong, huh!?)
Jacob began screaming - and didn't stop.
John slept late, and awoke with a horrible cough and phlegm. Also whiney.
We're out of eggs.
We're out of oats. (We're also out of jelly, so lunch isn't looking so hot right now, either.)
We're out of apple juice. (Don't know how that happened!)
John has been in tears four times today- not fits, just the helpless crying that he cannot stop. I think he got into some wheat.
James and I went rounds about his attitude (Where is the pencil? *it's in the family room,* NO, it's not, Mom. *James, yes, it is. Your pencils are in the pencil box on the craft shelf in the family room.* NO, they aren't! ARGH- so I went up and sure enough, if he'd bothered to open - the - box he'd have seen them, in all their yellow glory. But I know my Mother had a talent for finding things that were completely invisible to me, so that didn't get me. My issue w/ him this morning was his attitude.)
John wanted to say something, but wanted to take a million years to spit it out, speaking into his chest, and starting over every... single... time... he... got... four... words... starting... over... every... starting... yeah.
Jacob screaming in my left ear,
James clamoring for attention,
John starting over again.


I put Jacob down for a nap at 9:30 (he is currently drooling all over the couch- my best guess is that he's teething), set James up with his "Draw Insects" book, and snuggled John in with a tape on Ancient Greek myths, took some Rescue Remedy, and am waiting for it to kick in.

In the midst of all this, we've done Math and Reading, two loads of wash, made the bed, tidied the kitchen, and ran the dishwasher.


OK, I feel better.

Thanks for listening. Sometimes it's difficult to explain, but I think you ladies know what I'm saying. I'm definitely not angry at anyone or resentful of anything, just a tad bit overwhelmed by all that took place in a short two hours. I love our boys and love doing what I do- but even w/ the bestest job in the world, not every day is a Mary Poppins kind of day. :-) Days like this happen, and it's up to us how to approach them.

On the upside, it's only ten thirty, so there's time still to salvage it! I can feel the Rescue Remedy kicking in, James just brought me an amazing drawing of the Assassin Bug, John is on side two of the tape and seems to be a little more calm now. I'm off to have a puppet show and do a little mock bull jumping! Then, provided Jacob arises from his nap in a better frame of reference, we'll go to the market for those peksy food products that keep disappearing.


Sunday, October 3

It happened!

This morning, as I sat on the porch enjoying my coffee, I could feel it. So, I *sniffed*...
could it be?
*sniffed again* OH!
Joy! Yes!
I was so afraid that perhaps we wouldn't be able to smell Fall here, but yes, *sniff*, there it was! I sat there for a good fifteen minutes, just inhaling and exhaling and grinning from ear to ear.

Later, as we loaded up for church, I asked Zorak, "Did you smell it this morning?" *he gave me a rather disconcerted look* "Fall, honey. Did you smell it?" He hadn't been outside yet, but just then James came bursting through the door, shouting,

"Mom! Mom! The air outside smells SO good! It smells fresher than Febreeze and nicer than cookies! Come smell, Mom! It smells beautiful!"

Zorak smiled and said, "Well, there you have it. It must be, then."

We enjoyed the sniffing of the air today in a deep and wonderful way. Regardless of what the calendars say, Fall began today for our home, and it's a happy season.

We missed services this morning (I think the extended air-sniffing didn't help), but made it to Sunday School. We went anyway mainly just so the boys remain in the habit of going there regularly. It was good. It'll be nice to finish the visitor's class, though, and be allowed to use a room that has some form of climate control. It's just been stifling in there all summer, and today was no exception.

After church, we drove about looking for a property we saw for sale. STILL couldn't find it. We searched four miles in either direction of the supposed location, too, but no dice. Ah, well, if it's meant to be, right?

Mmm, brain isn't working right tonight. Just feeling a little restless. I am going to go work on my blanket and *sniff* for a bit.


Saturday, October 2

Hear that?

Shhh, listen! Hear that?

No, that's the dishwasher... listen again.

Um, that's the washing machine... once more. It's the really loud noise coming from outside.

YES! It's the nice powerwasher guy, ridding our house of the green that wasn't put there by the folks at Benjamin Moore! WOOHOO!

Zorak took the boys to the dump. I cleaned. The belt broke on the vacuum cleaner, though, and I thought, "Hmmm, I can break out the tool box and fix it... OR..." so, here I am, blogging, a little after one on a Saturday afternoon.

What fun!

We watched The Missouri Traveler last night- oh, guys, it's a good movie! You can get it right now for $3.99 at Big Lots (double feature DVD w/ The Lone Ranger!) and honestly, it's the best cheesy family movie we've watched in ages. No swear words. No unnecessary nastiness (as in gratuitous). Lee Marvin's character is such a jerk, but he's got a heart. It's not gold, by any means. The only thing that creeped me out a bit was the, um, romance. That, I'll admit was just a little too creepy to sit well with me. But hey, what can you say? Can't have it all. If you get a chance and want a funny, clean, feel-good movie, check it out!

Zorak decided last night that if he had a time machine, he would buy all the solid wood coffee tables at IKEA and go dump them in some nifty section of the Petrified Forest, then fast forward to Today and retrieve them. Wow, wouldn't that make just the neatest furniture? Perfectly formed, unibody, petrified coffee tables that only need to be polished. The brackets would rust away, but the structure would be one piece. Wow. I couldn't come up with anything cool to do if we had a time machine. I was too sleepy.

Well, while it's quiet and the laundry's not quite ready to switch out, I'm going to go blog run and have coffee w/ friends. Have a lovely weekend!


Wow, we are SO in the wrong business!

How much would you bid to expand an existing, servicable, three mile road from two lanes to four? And how long would your crew like to have to get it done?

$3.2 million? Sounds reasonable.

$5.5 million? Yeah, even that makes sense.

$15 million? Mmmm, well, okay...

How about $52 million, with a pending additional $10 million (without which, said project would "languish", according to State legislators).

Now, could you do it- from design to completion- in three years? No? How about five? No, hmmm, well, ok, you can have six. To begin with. (But anyone who has worked in construction knows that's only a preliminary target date. It'll move.)

This project won't begin until 2007, and is scheduled to be completed in 2010.

For the most part, this whole project is a joke, but the clincher for me was reading "...project was credited to increases in vehicular registration fees". OH MY GOODNESS!!! *banging my head against the monitor*

Now, it's not as if they have actually purchased the right of ways yet. There are 120 properties along this three mile stretch that will need to be negotiated for (under "eminent domain"). This won't take place until the engineering is completed. Then the purchase.

Roy Dyson and John Bohanan, who voted against the measure (as well as the fee increases), did not attend Thursday's roadside ceremony to commemorate the project. They'll have "way to go" letters from this old gal come Monday morning.

My goodness, but it just gets curiouser and curiouser...


Friday, October 1

What a day!

The boys were both a little punky today- not sick, just a little tired and slow on the curve. We slogged through a bit of math and phonics, but then retreated to our favorite hidey hole: reading together. That calmed the Bicker Beasties and warmed the hearth fires a bit, and we did get through the day with relatively few eruptions.

James is working on a new skill set in math. He gets it and enjoys it, but as with most newly acquired skills, this seems to have shoved previously mastered information back into the "must I really drag all that out again" file. Hrumph. Fun. His penmanship has improved so much, it's downright pretty now, and he's enjoying all the various avenues his education is taking this year. I think I'm going to switch the Burgess stories to read alouds, though. He seems to enjoy them more when we explore them together.

John read quite a bit today. He can read with relative ease any of the words I can make using the phonograms he has mastered. The ones he's still working on take a little deciphering, but he can do those, as well. Talk about a warm fuzzy! The way his face lights up when he reads is just one of the best feelings in the world.

Jacob today tried to stage dive. If you've ever seen a Chris Farley movie, then you have an idea of how well that worked out. It seems that either my hair belies the actual size of the head beneath it, or his depth perception is as bad as mine. Whatever caused the miscalculation, however, resulted in a blinding blow to my temple as his knee jerked forward in preparation for the landing. He glanced off my head and tumbled onto a bed of animal crackers, then laid there, looking at me with a "that was sooooo weird" expression on his face. No blood, no foul, and he was immediately back up on his feet for another giggle-filled go. Oh, the resiliency.

Mommy brain strikes again! Got a call from the children's music director at church. She got the blue form, but not the orange form... that means two things: the orange form is somewhere in the Suburban, and I have NO idea what I stuck in the collection plate last week. Anyhow, the boys are signed up for KinderChoir, and we're all looking forward to it. It starts on Sunday! We've held off on music sessions at home until I could get a feel for what they'll be doing in KinderChoir this year, as I'm hoping to incorporate the two.

Ah, well, the baby is just about out now, and we have a sweet movie waiting for us to enjoy. (Missouri Traveler, starring Lee Marvin, who I just adore, although it's strange to see him without Clint Eastwood, a la Paint Your Wagon.)

Enjoy this lovely fall and don't forget to stop and smell, er, observe the critters!



See, I get all excited about the sauces and forgot the main dishes! Mercy, I'm a mess!

OK, so check out Good Soil. I didn't link it HERE, because it's over THERE! (Pointing to the left of the screen.) See, she's there at the top of the list! Her link will also open in a new window. She's not new to the blogosphere, and I didn't just find her, but you know how often we take things for granted- like lunch with a good friend, or coffee at sunrise (like I'm watchin' the sun rise without coffee! *shyah*)... well, I goofed. Amy rocks. I read her daily (as she can attest by the sheer volume of "when are you going to blog again" comments I leave.) She is funny and energetic and much hotter in her bikini than I am in my 1930's "beach wear"...

Dy :-)

Gettin' Fancy!

OK, I fixed the sidebar links, aaaannnnndddd...

Click on 'em- they now open in a new window!

I've been wanting to figure out how to do that for two years. LOL.

OK, now I'm really going. Have a great day!


Good Morning, guys! Can you believe it's October 1st!?!? I can't. It's still August (although I must say, the weather this August is just lovely *grin*)

We had a great day yesterday. We made it to Spanish on time, then got a temporary base pass for me (not nearly as bad as I thought it would be- I think the guy behind the counter took one look at me with three small children in tow, explaining everything in the office to them on their various levels and realized my life is the tangible equivalent of filling out every form in triplicate, without the benefit of carbon paper, and decided that I probably actually really just lost the darned thing in the melee). Then we had lunch with Zorak and headed to the park for Park Day.

The kids had a blast and we stayed for quite a while. It was so nice to visit with the moms in our group. One lady and I were discussing some of the recent not-so-bright articles that have been written about homeschoolers, in particular the concept that homeschooled children are only around other children of like mindset and cultural beliefs, and we had a really good laugh over that one. (This group is about as non-homogenized as it comes!) The weather was pretty nice as long as the breeze kept up or the clouds obscured the sun. The kids all managed to migrate from the play area to the creek. (Kids will do that- you can spend tens of thousands of dollars on playground equipment, but if there's water and Mama says it's ok, they're in the water!)

We drove about on the way home, trying to find a house that's for sale. Never found it. Found one that I thought *might* be it (and I was quite relieved that it's *not* it). John and Jacob fell asleep, so rather than going to the market we came home, had a snack and then worked in the back yard.

We pulled weeds at first.

Then we watched the critters we'd unearthed pulling weeds.

That morphed into trying to identify the different critters, and we spent a wonderful hour and a half just bug watching.

Today we'll work on the front porch. We have to get all the stuff pulled away from the house so it can be power-washed tomorrow. Yippee!! It's very green right now, and it's not supposed to be green, it's yellow. But everything here grows mold if it's not mobile. We were going to wash it ourselves next weekend, but the property mgmt. folks said it's the owner's job. Wow, very cool!

And it's Friday! The time is just flying by. I can't explain it, and I think it has to do with more than just having the boys (although they have sped up my perception-clock tremendously!) Zorak brought up a good point last night: his schedule seems to generate the sensation that each week doesn't take very long. He works a full week, then works a four-day week. We have long weekends every other weekend, and that makes the weeks feel so short, even though he still puts in 80 hours a pay period. We really enjoy the long weekends, and suddenly we look up- *poof* A year has gone by! Hooo, weird.

At any rate, it's a late-morning blog, but it's all good. We're off to read from the Thornton Burgess book we checked out and then to enjoy the beautiful morning while we work on the yard. Have a wonderful Friday!