Thursday, December 30

A Balm for the Heart

My goodness, what a wonderful world! Not only did we spend this week completely captivated by the majestic cliffs of the Northern New Mexico Pueblos, by wide rainbows braced above roaring arroyos, and by the from-the-toes laughter of the boys, but then we came to my "Happy Spot" (here with Aunt Pat and Uncle Ed) to spend the night and most of this morning. Ah, what a salve.

I am thankful we've been in the Southwest this week- the sweet smells of mesquite and cedar, the deep and honest laughter of folks who've known me for most of my life and still love me unconditionally, along with so many other things that act as touchstones, reminders of who I am and what makes us who we are, combine to create a soothing balm for the heart, for the soul. (Remind me to blog about that when we get home- they deserve more time than I can give them this morning.) There is no substitute for seeing your children loved simply because they are children. There is no greater strength than that which is shared by those who understand the importance of unconditional love. Phenomenal. Simply phenomenal.

Then I checked my email and just about fell out of my chair to see so many kindhearted and warm comments regarding the loss of our Wee One. If anyone ever doubts the power of one kind word, they have never been on the receiving end of several. Thank you.

We are heading to Prescott today. Aunt Bette has been caring for Uncle Stan as his health has steadily deteriorated. He hasn't eaten in several days now, and to be honest, I don't know what we will find when we arrive. She sounds so afraid and lost when we talk with her over the phone. She is sometimes angry, which is a normal reaction to being afraid and not knowing what to do, or what will come next. She needs us there, to listen, to hold hands, to help if we can. So, thankful for our time of rejuvanation here with Aunt Pat and Uncle Ed, it is now our turn to offer rejuvenation and unconditional love to others.

That's how life works. It's not always joyous and uplifting at first glance, but it is always good. Sometimes the richness is found in the darkest corners, when someone else brings a torch to warm you and light the walls. I'm thankful for those who have brought them to us, and for the opportunity to take them to others.

We're off to brave the flooding Arizona highways!
Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, December 28

Sad News to Share Today

On Christmas Day, amidst the excitement that accompanies every Christmas when you are six and four (and even one), intertwined with the joy of seeing my brother-in-law engaged to his wonderful girlfriend, we received some most unwelcome news. This pregnancy has come to an end. I hope soon that the process will be finished and the healing may begin. We have not yet told the boys, but please say a prayer that we will have the words to tell them and then to be there for them.

I wrote this from Corona the other night, not sure what I had to say, only that I needed to write. I am sharing it here, unedited...

The thoughts are there, certainly, formed and powerful, undulating like waves in a swelling sea. Emotions, rising in temperature and intensity, come frothing at the break of the larger waves, where swells can no longer contain the power or urgency of the sea.

I am weak-kneed and awe-struck. Suddenly I am small, perhaps six, standing for the first time at the edge of a swaying pier, terrifyingly aware of how large, how unknown (unknowable?) the world is.

Yet I am old, and comforted by life; the same writhing, changing life that once haunted the child. In the rhythms of this sea there is a constancy, even among the changes.

While my mind gropes for control, for understanding, my heart knows that I cannot steer the passage. I have not seen the whole of the ocean, nor viewed the depths to which it opens. Like that small child, I see the beach or the cliffs and I want to go there, climb them. I see the squall approaching and I want to avoid that. The old woman dries the tears of the child and explains that there are things we may not know, cannot know. There are jagged reefs we do not see, dangerous currents we cannot maneuver ourselves.

"Sit quietly, child. This ship can weather the squall. It is strong and dry. It is captained by one far wiser than we, one who has plumbed the depths and has seen the whole of the sea.

I would not stop your grief, and I cannot stop you from seeking explanation. It is good to feel with your whole being and to seek understanding. But, my child, do not be angry if you cannot comprehend. We are very small, and for all the wonders we have seen and held, there are myriad others we will never touch."

My journey continues into farther waters, guided well, accompanied by the finest souls to set foot on this earth. Though I will, from time to time, glance longingly over my shoulder, please do not mistake my sadness for ingratitude toward the course set for me. For though I did not set foot upon that beach or climb those soaring cliffs, I saw them and dreamed them. And they were magnificent.

That experience is forever added to my chest, a bittersweet jewel among the most resplendent of treasures I already hold dear. It cannot dull the brilliant blues I have beheld, nor hollow the deep, rich browns in which I have wrapped myself.

No, I am most certainly not adrift and the journey is no less incredible, the experience no less humbling, for these rough and looming seas through which we must pass.

As always, kiss those babies.

Friday, December 24


Ah, a fresh cup of coffee and some new pictures always helps, doesn't it? The boys and I snuggled in for some stories (something I haven't done much with them while we're traveling, and have missed terribly), then I wrapped presents while Zorak and his mom made pecan log candy (YUM!) Stockings have been filled, and in the quiet of the night, I can feel the boys' excitement in my own heart again. I'm thankful for that.

One thing that helped tremendously was turning off that infernal television. I didn't realize until I blogged earlier just how much that constant background noise was affecting me. It's funny, because Zorak and I used to use the TV for background noise all the time. Get home from work, turn on the tube and head to the kitchen- that was the normal routine. No wonder Zorak's poor mother looked askance at me when I kept asking if we could turn off the TV, you know, since we're all in the kitchen... I'm amazed at the difference not having cable has made in our lives. Not to mention that absolutely base, disgusting stuff that's on TV these days! Oy! But that's another blog. This one is for pictures. :-)

Here's one of Jess and I and our herds... that's a lotta kids, but doesn't it look like fun? (I don't have editing features while on the road, so you're getting the raw images for now.) From l-r, front row: Jacob, Belle, Alyssa; middle row: John, me, James, Jess, Craig; way up high in the back- Ry. You have no idea how many pictures it took to get one with all nine of us looking the same direction!

Here's a shot of me and the boys as we ventured into the snow. (ignore the scarf on the head thing, I forgot to bring a hat.)

Here are the boys decorating a gingerbread house with Granny...

Jacob has already beheaded one of the gingerbread men.

And here's the Smidge, getting his first recognizable experience in the snow! Wee!

Merry Christmas to you! I hope tomorrow dawns with many joys and laughter for each of you.

Give those babies extra special Christmas kisses tonight!

Santa Has Been Sighted In London

Mmmm. Great. That's why I'm here, blogging. (Warning, I'm about to be rather ungracious. I apologize in advance.) I am trying very hard not to dampen my son's enthusiasm. He is so excited and is bouncing off the walls, recounting Santa's estimated speed and checking the weather. He's been looking for a globe for the last half hour (I don't think Zorak's Mom has one, though.)


I'm not trying to be a Grinch, here, honest. In fact, it's just the opposite. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love to celebrate it and enjoy it. But, you see, I had no intention of doing Santa with our kids. I didn't want it to be part of the push and rush and gimme-gimme-gimme that sucks the joy of the season right out the back window. Let's be intellectually honest, here, Santa isn't exactly upheld as an example we should follow. Families don't generally go around being Santa. Perhaps if we did that, I could be more enthusiastic. But we don't. And I'm not.

So, no, I'm not exactly Santa's biggest fan. And I know the arguments ~ the magic of childhood, the spirit of giving, yada yada yada, yeah, yeah, I know. I don't buy it. Sorry. Not to mention that horrible deer-in-the-headlights look I know crosses my face when the boys start asking questions about Santa. Um, you know, I'm the Jesus-question person. Daddy's the Santa-question person. Let's not stray outside those boundaries right now, shall we?

I tried not to do Santa, and for two years managed to get away with it. That third year, though, Zorak brought in reinforcements and I lost that battle in a big way. We do Santa now because Zorak wants to do Santa (although I wasn't aware of how badly he wanted to have Santa until that Santa Battle of Year Three). Considering his dearth of celebratory acknowledgements on any level this time of year, it's probably a good thing for him to have and to do. Generally, I am okay with our differences, as well as with how we go about handling certain differences. But this Santa thing just chafes me to the core.

So while I would love to be sitting by the tree with the boys, reading the story of Christmas... they're bouncing around in front of the television, waiting for another Santa update, salivating over what he'll bring them, and I'm trying to figure out when I can convince the rest of the adults that the TV needs to be turned OFF (please, for the love of God, I wish that thing would blow a fuse, anyway) and perhaps we could focus on something a little more "here", a bit more "present" (as in NOW, not GIMME).

Yeah. This is the one chink in the armor that usually rears its ugly head every year. I haven't learned how to handle it just yet, but at least I can come blog- get it off my chest- and then go rally the troops for something fun! Thanks for letting me get it out. I sure do appreciate it, and to be honest, I feel better already. Nobody here is a victim, per se, and I do hope I didn't sound horribly whiney. A little whiney, I rather expected, but hopefully not too much. *grin*

I put pictures on disk last night, so I'll come back later to post some of them. That'll be a much better Christmas Eve blog, anyway. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, December 23

Where We Are

Y'all would get such a kick out of this place. If you're familiar with New Mexico at all, then you probably know of Lea County (that's where Hobbs is, which is how most folks know the counties in New Mexico, by largest city. Bernalillo County? Oh, that's Albuquerque. Dona Ana County? Las Cruces! McKinley County? Gallup. Somehow, that makes it all make sense. It's weird, I know, but it works.)

If you aren't familiar with New Mexico, fear not, Lea County is easy to find on a map: go to the far bottom right hand corner of the state, slowly work your way North- no, that's Carlsbad, too big, keep going... see Jal? Yeah, that's the southern end of Lea County.

Lea County is a giant landmass of flat stuff that Texas didn't want any more of, and New Mexico was still just a territory, so, well, there ya go. Turned out to be a good deal for New Mexicans, though, as it's a stunningly wealthy county. It's also configured by small towns set approximately 20 miles apart. There are only five towns. Well, maybe eight, if you count the post offices, but I didn't count the ones that close by noon, or the ones that are actually only open two days a week. Anyhow, the biggest one is Hobbs, which is like saying the biggest vehicle Kia makes is the Sephia... If you call any major appliance company, watch repair company, or furniture store and tell them you are calling from Hobbs, they will ask, "What's the largest city near you? Albuquerque?" You'll snicker, because Hobbs is the largest city near you and Albuquerque is five hours away, over empty caliche roads and through valleys of lava beds, in another world, entirely.

SO, moving farther North from the Metropolis of Hobbs, you'll see Lovington, then (if you have a particularly good map) Macdonald (we lived there- Zorak and I nearly doubled the population that year) and finally, at the crossroads of 380 and some other road, you will find Tatum. Population, eh, around 350. Have you heard the John Pryne song, "In a Town This Size"? That was playing on the CD player today as we ran errands; Zorak and I had to give a nod to the accuracy. I'll post the lyrics for ya at the end of this blog.

Tatum is where Zorak spent his formative years, split with Corona (which is another entry altogether). Tatum has one blinking light at the corner of 380 and the Lovington Hwy. He had fun here, but not necessarily the type of fun we want the boys to have. Little things pop up, such as tonight's discussion while driving back to Granny's place.
Me: Is this road part of Lovington?
Zorak: Um... Oh! Look! No, if you're in that house in the middle of the night and the police come, it's the County Sheriff. So, no, this isn't city, it's county.
Me: *making that Marge Simpson groan*

It has an Allsup's (which can't compete with Circle K's coffee, but makes one mean burrito!), two competing cafes (on opposite ends of the town, which seems to highlight the rivalry)- Dorado's Steakhouse and Lil's 380. I have to say, the folks at Lil's have always been pretty nice to a newbie like me... but then, Zorak's mother has lived here for over twenty-five years and she's still known as "----'s ex-wife". Talk about clannish, eh? They know her and love her from one end of the county to the next, but here in Tatum, this is how she's known.

Heaven help you if you ever do anything in public for which you might be branded for life, because here, it is for life, or pretty near that. There is no outgrowing, getting over, or going beyond. When the wheels of change do turn, they move ever so slowly. Ten years later, I think I'm still Zorak's "new woman". And when Zorak ran into his old high school principal, I think the guy was, while definitely thrilled to see Zorak, also genuinely shocked to find Zorak has grey hair and children. (Don't tell Zorak about the grey hair, though.)

HOWEVER, those are quirks. They aren't the character of the town so much as the color. The character of the town is found in every nook and cranny they can pack into this tiny stretch of land. There's Cogburn's Supply, owned by Dan Cogburn, who will come open his store for you when it's freezing out and your pipes burst. The same folks will call you when you first move into a place and suggest checking this or that before a freeze comes since they know you'll probably need to replace it!

There's Rex, who'll gas you up with diesel from his spare tank when you've underestimated just how far it is to town... again. He won't laugh at you because he can't go hunting without getting lost- desperately, phenomenally lost. He understands.

Marco, who is actually from Lovington, but comes to Tatum to service the Xerox machines, and went to the trouble of learning to play Fraulein for our wedding, just because Zorak loves that song. (By the way, if you need a band, the Liquid Gypsies are fantastic! They also travel fairly inexpensively, and did I mention they rock?)

The character of Tatum is in the way folks wave as they pass, the way the men wait at the tire store on the corner and brag about their kids, the Fourth of July all-community celebration, and the fact that anyone will stop and help you if you're pulled off to the side of the road.

It's in the Tatum Cash, which is a grocery store that still works on the Cash 'N Carry principle. You get your groceries and pay for them on payday. You know the gals at the checkout and the kids stocking the shelves. You know who's daughter has passed her babysitting course and is available on Friday nights. You know who needs help, and who to contact to put your help into the pot.

Zorak's Mom and her sister both drive for the local school district, and on one of their routes there's a family who doesn't have much. They make darned sure the kids are clean and well-groomed, but that pretty much sucks it from the coffers. Without prompting, ZMom and her Sister said they'd like to do something for this family and *bam* help came rolling in all over the place- trees, gifts, books, food.

Color and Character, it makes for a wonderful combination (just keep your nose clean!)

Anyhow, that's sort of it in a nutshell. Not a big nut, nor shell, but a good basic gist. We're having fun, that's for sure! (Oh, and we ran into Rex today, picking up a tire- sure 'nuff, he was lost for two days on his last hunting trip!)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, December 22


We wore short sleeves yesterday afternoon, laughed about the weather at Christmastime, and snickered over the "dry heat".

This morning, we awoke to two inches of snow and still coming! There are drifts over six inches deep and the boys are torn between wanting to play in the snow or make gingerbread houses....

snow, or help Granny make cactus jelly (we have been out for quite a while...)

snow, or hot chocolate...

Decisions, decisions!

So, Mom's required course of action- snow, hot chocolate, gingerbread houses, jelly. More snow, decorate the tree (which is currently buried in the snow).

One of Zorak's cousins will be over this afternoon. She and her husband have three boys- almost all of them are the same ages as our boys. James and their oldest are only a few weeks apart. John and their middle boy have a couple of months difference. Then the Smidge and their youngest are just a few days apart. We haven't seen them since the oldest babies were three months old!!! I am so excited, and sure hoping the boys have a blast playing together.

Alrighty, we're off to play in the SNOW!!!

I'll have to tell you tonight all about Tatum, where we're staying. It's a spot on most maps, but like the Pleiades, you'll miss it if you don't know where to look (or if you look right at it). Such a neat little town.

Kiss those babies and snuggle them tight!

Tuesday, December 21

Howdy From New Mexico

Oh, guys, this trip has been so much fun! We're at Granny's now. The boys are off scouting for a Christmas tree with Zorak and Granny. The Smidge and I are hanging out, doing wash and, erm, well, checking email. OK, he's napping, I'm checking email! How fun to find comments- hi guys! Thanks for leaving notes- I don't feel like we're "gone" now. Thanks. :-)

Diane- I would love to meet up with y'all in Phoenix! That would be such fun. If my phone ever arrives, I'll email you the number (yeah, paid for two day shipping and as of Saturday it still hadn't arrived at home- grrrr) and we'll make plans.

Linda- Beef Jerky and peanut butter count for protein, right? ;-)

Stephanie- so, no chance you'll be going west, through New Mexico, first- then on to Arkansas???

Staci- I thought of you as we drove through MO! Well, we more just sort of clipped MO. It's so pretty down that way. I think we stopped at one of the bait, tackle 'n steak places. It's nice to be able to eat and buy ammo in one fell swoop, isn't it? We bought fireworks, too. (Somehow, men never outgrow their fondness for fireworks, do they? I think Zorak had more fun than the boys did!)

I don't know if it's hormones or if I'm just being all girly right now, but I nearly cried several times when we hit West Texas- all the familiarity, the things we know, things that make us smile seemed to bombard my senses. Ian Tyson's lilting voice over the radio, crazy in love, enamorado, alone out on The Llano Estacado; the Dairy Queen, as the place to be, in each small town; population signs with only three digits; valley sprinklers (which we first saw in Alabama, and I teared up then, too). It just felt very good not to feel quite so foreign for a bit, to know where we were by feel and smell, then to see it all laid out as we topped the Caprock.

Our foray up into Oklahoma put us into New Mexico late last night, but it was oh, so worth it! The children (all seven of them!) had a great time at Jess'. They took us out for Mexican food- real Mexican food. With green chile! WeeHa! That was heavenly. The expressions on the staff at the restaurant were priceless when we traipsed in and asked for seating for eleven. However, it's easy when you get the hang of it- four adults, so that's one at each corner; littlest ones by Moms; everyone else in the middle. Not bad. We got a great shot of everyone at the table- I'll post it when we get home. Charles wanted to tuck Belle into his coat pocket and bring her home. Alyssa said we couldn't take Belle, but she'd come with us. They have the sweetest children.

Then we headed on to Aunt Bonnie and Uncle John's. I was going to blog from there, but truthfully, I couldn't pull myself away from the kitchen table. The coffee was hot and plentiful, the company was wonderful, the conversation was enjoyable. No offense, but the computer just can't compete with that. I wish y'all could meet Aunt Bonnie- she is so very much like Mom in all the wonderful ways that make me smile. I felt like we were back in one of the houses I'd grown up in, and that was a very warm, fuzzy feeling. The boys fell in love with Holly, Aunt Bonnie and Uncle John's wee chihuahua. Once she realized they weren't going to squish her, I think she kinda warmed up to them, too. Now they want to move to Oklahoma and have horses and visit Holly! (That's all the important criteria for a move when you're four and six!)

We'll be busy the next few days with visiting cousins and aunts and uncles in the area, catching up with old friends of Zorak's, and preparing for Christmas. My mother-in-law said this morning, "We can just buy the pies and we'll make the candy!" Oh, JOY! (Picture me, doing the Snoopy Happy Dance.) This lady makes the most decadent candies! As a matter of fact, two years ago, we didn't realize I was pregnant with Jacob because I'd eaten so many of her pecan logs that I honestly thought I was just getting fat. *grin* I hope she'll make me a few for the trip back, too.

Anyway, that's all the news that's fit to print today. Will blog again soon.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, December 19

Hey, check that out-

I remembered my login information! WOOHOO!

Howdy from Arkansas! We've covered a little over 1100 miles so far, and the trip is going incredibly well. The boys are great little travellers. James has chain stitches about half the skein of yarn (it's now difficult to get him in and out of the Suburban and takes a while to divest him of all the random strings), John is enjoying the scenery and all the birds (birds! who'd a guessed that's what would catch his eye?), and Jacob seems to be quite tickled that we haven't turned him backwards again. It's as if he relishes each trip facing forward, just in case.

They're looking forward to the destination, but with no whining or fuss. I'm so proud of them.

We left Thursday night and drove straight through the night. Zorak drove until three, then I drove while he slept. We breakfasted in... in... hmm... I can't remember where we ate. It was, of course, a Waffle House, but in the south that doesn't exactly narrow it down to any one town, does it? Then we popped in to Huntsville and stayed Friday night there. Lovely little area! Wow, it's just gorgeous, and the folks are so friendly. And the mountains.... ahhhhhh.

We drove on yesterday, stopping only when we lost power steering and coolant. Yikes! Initial diagnosis: "Something seized up and threw the belt. Please, please don't let it be the water pump." Zorak set to work doing the things he does so well while I sat in the Suburban, knitting furitively, envisioning our weekend in the little hotel behind the "Grab 'em Grub Shack" (bait or steak? I have no idea!) while we had to order the imagined part that nobody in a 3000 mile radius keeps in stock. (Hey, it's happened before!) Turned out that, no, it's not a weird part, it was in stock and half an hour later we were back on the road with a nifty new idler wheel and serpentine belt. (Zorak wanted me to point out that he even asked for directions to the nearest auto parts place! hee hee He was feelin' mighty good.)

Today we get to spend the day with Jess in OK and her wonderful, wonderful family! I'm so excited!!! Then it's off to see Aunt Bonnie and Uncle John, two folks who are sort of like a gift from Mom. They are both so great, and were such good friends with Mom that it makes me smile. I'll tell you more all about them when I have more time to do them justice.

Anyhow, I haven't checked new email or done any blog running, but I'd better head out and get back on the road. (Wouldn't want to wait until Jess is dressed or anything! hee hee!)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, December 15

Weekly Roundup

I think it is so interesting how most families have the same tasks to do each week, yet among 20 families, it's very likely we would hear 25 different descriptions of how they go about their tasks, how they live their weeks.

Sometimes the descriptions are fascinating, like those women who seem to have it all together, and we all gape at them like the first visitors through the door at a live UFO exhibit. Sometimes it's endearing, and you can hear the universal "awwwww" reverberate around the globe. There are descriptions which tug at our heartstrings, and ones which leave us nodding in recognition. And then, occasionally, we hear the ones that give us a good, healthy, all-out belly laugh. The kind that wakes the baby and makes the neighbors glance up from their own evening routines.

What is ultimately fascinating, at least for me, is that there is a little of each of those descriptions (and many more, left unlisted here) sprinkled throughout our own weeks. There is a little bit of each of those women tucked into (or, in some of our cases, stapled onto) our own aprons.

Just neat to see. You're an amazing group of women!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, December 14


Oh my goodness. I'm... wow. Speechless. You folks know how to make a gal feel warm and fuzzy! Thank you, all, for your kind words and warm thoughts. The prayers mean a lot. The humor is always a plus! (Tips on making the transition, as well as donations for college funds, are also always appreciated!) I can't express, not even in my wretched grasp of three languages all mushed together, how much good it does my heart to be in contact with folks who don't look at me like I'm an alien when we announce our excitement over having a fourth child. Y'all may look at me like I'm an alien for other reasons altogether, but I'm good with that...

Eh, well, so much for speechless.

Today was a splendid day all around. I remembered not to do Latin in conjunction with anything involving food. What a difference that makes! Not only in the boys' articulation, but in the mess afterward.

The boys and I made salt dough ornaments. They made some truly hilarious concoctions, very few of which a mere branch on a Christmas tree (even a stout one) will be able to support. We have a hulking dinosaur nest, complete with twenty-some-odd eggs; a gigantic self portrait of John as a baby; a truly Calvin-esque (as in, "& Hobbes", not the theological leader) snowman, down to the limbs akimbo and a wide-eyed look of sheer terror. Tomorrow we will paint them and hope they dry before we head out on our voyage.

Voyage, yes, we are embarking on yet another adventure. This time it's a visit to see the family in New Mexico and Arizona. We're so excited that the mere details of the trip have yet to sink in. Packing? Pfft. We can do that tomorrow night. Plan the route? Eh, it's mostly, well, "West". We can pull a Chief Dan George on that one. The one thing that is ready to go is a full tank of gas and a ton of enthusiasm.

OH! And you will get *ta-da* Pictures! Yes, our new camera came in yesterday. We've played with it a bit, and will have to install the software. Then I just hope y'all aren't stuck on dial up like we are, because it's gonna be a photographic extravaganza! (We still can't get James to make a normal face for the camera, and John has taken to assuming an "I didn't see who did it" expression, so don't expect too much in the way of "adorable". I'm thinking more along the lines of, "these children are en route to either a frat house or an asylum.")

Zorak's new coat came in yesterday. He is a warm and happy daddy! I know he's a big boy, but I feel better now, too.

And ya know, just when I think I had no genetic input on our children, one of them does something so entirely ungraceful that I am convinced that at least that one's mine...

Jacob was dancing in the kitchen this morning. Gravity shifted, a stray atom caught him broadside and down he went. He caught himself with his hands but then, erm, changed his mind? Gave up? Not sure why, but his hands went out from under him and he caught his head right on the inside corner of the decorative molding on the cabinet doors. Shaved off the top few layers of skin. (Who knew those things were so dangerous?) He's now sporting a lovely Clive Barker-style pulsing sore on his head. I've daubed him up with arnica and some Motrin, which seem to have worked. It looks, well, it just looks wrong to see him scampering about, so happy and in love with the world, sporting that flaming red thing on his head. Poor Smidge.

The boys are clean and snuggled and tucked into bed. The kitchen is cleaned and ready for tomorrow. The house is almost vacation-ready. It's cold out and I need to go see what Jack and Stephen are up to (Desolation Island). These books are truly engrossing! If I don't read now, I'll just have to read while I cook tomorrow so I can get the next book for our trip... So, novel concept, I'll stop talking now! :-)

Thank you, again, for coming onto the porch and joining us in our celebration! All of you I consider friends, and the new names I've heard today, as well. Thanks. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, December 13

Yup, the shirt is mine. :-)

I had to make some adjustments to Zorak's Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. He was going to get "two tins of altoids", but you know, gosh, the timing on this was just too good to pass up. Instead, he got "two pink lines". We had a sneaking suspicion this weekend, but confirmed it this morning. Actually, I had a sneaking suspicion; he *knew*. He trusts that intuition far more than I do, so the moment I mentioned that it might be a possibility, he was convinced. *grin*

We don't know when we're due, and since we'll be on vacation, we likely won't find out until after the New Year. My guess is early September (again). We'll stop in at our family doctor's in Prescott while we're there to pick up a fresh bottle of prenatals. We have feelers out for a good prenatal care partner, and other than that we're just quite thankful we held on to Jacob's things so far! *whew* We won't have to start from square one like we did with Jacob! Now, if this one is a boy, we're set for clothes! WOOHOO! If this one's a girl, well, she's gonna have to learn to like denim. he he.

I'm not panic-stricken like I was when we learned of Jacob's pending arrival. This little one doesn't come as a total surprise, at least. We're pretty excited. Although, oh dear, the house may not hold six whole people! LOL!

Anyhow, I'll see if we can get those shirts printed up and shipped out for y'all. I'm sure they wouldn't mind making a few changes on the boy/girl line. Thanks for the congratulations! It's a joyous thing to celebrate, and I'm glad to be able to share it with y'all. Oh, and hey, anybody have any maternity clothes they'd like to sell?

Kiss those babies (all of 'em! AHhhhh, they're everywhere!!)

A Riddle For You...

What would you think if you saw a pregnant woman with three children wearing a t-shirt that says:

"YES, they're all ours.
NO, my hands are not full.
YES, we know what causes it.
NO, we weren't "trying for a girl."

I'm just asking...

Sunday, December 12

Christmas Shopping

We're done shopping for the boys!

This is an epochal statement for us. I generally consider Christmas Eve to be the only reasonable time to begin shopping. Zorak generally considers whenever I get around to it to be a perfectly reasonable time to do it. It's not perfect, by any means, but it seems to work.

This year, however, we had our trade day with the Wonderful Neighbors, so Zorak and I didn't have to split up for shopping. We also weren't wondering this year whether to float the electric bill or the rent for the month in order to buy gifts. It's nice not being a college family anymore.

We managed to find everything we needed, enjoy a stop at The Outback for an appetizer (their aussie fries with cheese are really quite good!) and still get back in under four hours. Oh yeah, that's the way to do it.

Have you ever been out shopping, wondering what to get for someone when suddenly your eyes light upon IT? THE gift for that person. There's no questioning, no pondering, no weighing: this is it. That happened to us today, and boy does it feel great! (Although if you aren't done shopping for others, you'll find yourself wandering around staring at anything that's for sale, trying to get that same feeling again. It doesn't always come and you find yourself staring at some mighty strange things in the attempt.) We turned a corner and there, in all its plastic, brightly-colored glory, was the biggest pirate ship ensemble I have ever seen. It is gigantic. It has three pirates, all of whom are missing at least one body part each! It has a cannon that actually shots big pewter-colored plastic cannon balls!

How cool is that when you're four years old and think the most influential person in the world is a toss up between Captain Nemo and Sinbad? Yeah, that was definitely the best pick we made this year. I cannot wait to see John's face when he opens it on Christmas morning.

We found wonderful gifts for James and John, too. We didn't hit on the "Oh-My-Gosh, that's PERFECT" item for either of them, but I know they'll be tickled pink. Jacob is getting his first bike-like thingy. No pedals, low to the ground. He loves the one the Wonderful Neighbors have, and now that he doesn't tip over quite so easily, we think he'll have fun with it. Good stuff when you're a short-legged smidget. He'll be thrilled.

For James, we found a set of magnetic building things. (They're in the car and Zorak is in search of a plunger, so I can't give you the name.) It's whatever Wal-Mart carries that's comparable to GeoMags. If he likes them, we'd like to expand the set. If they aren't strong enough, but he really enjoys them otherwise, then we'll buy the GeoMags from Rainbow Resource Center. He really wanted something to do with circuits, but we couldn't find anything locally and just aren't ready to deal with shipping this close to the holiday. I think he'll enjoy them, though. Although we can't decide if we want to just wrap the box, or if we want to build something with them Christmas Eve and then cover it for him to discover Christmas morning. What do you think?

Ah, and it's the first day of Christmas! I'm off to corner Zorak and subject him to my whimsical ideas regarding the holidays. ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Friday's Enjoyable Outing

This weekend, aside from the mind-numbing exhaustion that kicked in last night, was truly enjoyable all around. That's a warm fuzzy.

Solomon's Island, which is one of our favorite haunts in this area, hosted their annual Christmas Walk this weekend. We attended Friday evening, along with Kath and her two wee ones. We had supper at a little restaurant on the water. Fed and armed with small plastic drink swords, we then headed to the Calvert Marine Museum, where we listened to a trio perform Christmas and wintery songs, and visited with Santa. James, who thinks the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is hilarious nonsense because he's pretty sure adults, as well as children, must be asleep for Santa to come, had the chance to confirm that with Santa (who had a difficult time keeping a straight face, but bless him, he did well!) John made sure Santa knew we'd be in New Mexico and to bring presents to Granny's on Christmas. Jacob tried to gnaw his way through the candy cane wrapper. Good times.

We made it to the craft area at seven (crafts scheduled from 6-9) and they had just run out of materials. We think they planned this year based on last year's turn out, not taking into account that last year was bitterly, painfully, dreadfully cold, whereas this year it was almost balmy out. Thus, a much higher turnout this year. Ah, well, there was plenty more to do.

The hospital hosted an ornament painting craft. The boys painted sleds. They painted hair. They painted themselves. That was great fun!

By then we'd had quite an evening and we could feel bedtime approaching. We made one last stop, at Annmarie Gardens for their spectacular Christmas Light drive through the park. Wow. That's a spectacular display. We drove around three times, pulled off to the side, played I Spy, everyone pointing and laughing, oooh-ing and ahhh-ing. I am certain we still missed things. We came home sleepy and happy.

Too Pooped To Blog

The stars converged on me today. It began last night. We had a lovely time at Solomon's Island (I'll fill y'all in on that tomorrow). We came home a little after ten and everyone promptly fell into a deep, almost coma-like sleep. My thinking was along the lines of,
"I'll get to sleep early and be so well-rested for tomorrow!"
My body reacted along the lines of,
"Alrighty then, you've had a whopping five hours of sleep. Wakey-wakey!"
*groan* 3:49AM and I was w-i-d-e a-w-a-k-e.

We had a nice day, lounging about, reading stories. Actually, the boys and I fell asleep when we got home. Zorak assembled the toy rack and left it as a surprise for us in the hallway. It was a wonderful treat this morning!

The boys went to Wal-Mart to pick up enough bins to fill the rack properly while I tidied the house. The Wonderful Neighbors brought the girls over to play while they attended a company Christmas Party. Five children can be very loud. Thankfully, five wonderful children who all play well together can also be very enjoyable. We enjoyed having a housefull, and Zorak even said, "Wow, if we had five children, our house would always be this full." Full. Yes. That's a beautiful word, isn't it? Not riotous, not chaotic, but full. Beautifully filled with happy voices, small giggles, voices echoing in a rising wave, but a good wave. Needless to say, everybody had a great time.

The boys begged to finish Oliver Twist before lights out. We had only one chapter, so... well, I'm a sucker. It was a good story, too, and the soft sighs were well worth the extra few minutes before lights out.

And now, it's past my bedtime. So I bid you kiss those sleeping babies and snuggle in. Enjoy the night!


Thursday, December 9

Today, From Jacob's Perspective

My day started out so nicely! I awoke in Mommy and Daddy's bed, all snuggly and warm under the flannel and down. The sun lit the room just enough for me to look around, but not so bright I wanted to get up.

I hear John running down the hall. Oh, I love John! *FWOMPF* John landed on me. Wow. He's heavy. That hurt. I smack him, but he doesn't move. So I smack him again. And again. He yells at me, and that makes me cry. Mommy rolls over on both of us and gives us raspberries. I don't mind raspberries, but does she have to sit on me to do it? She sweeps us up and carries us downstairs. Daddy made coffee. Mommy smiles.

We have sweet cheese bread and fresh fruit for breakfast. YUM! James comes downstairs. He giggles and jumps around a lot in the mornings. I want to be like that when I'm big. I also want to jump on John's head while he's sleeping. I try it today on the couch, but learn that he really needs to be sleeping or it doesn't turn out well. Not for me, anyway.

The timer on the black box in the kitchen beeps and everyone sits down. Creepy. James reads a book while I climb on his head. He likes that. Then I notice Mommy has a book and is heading for the couch with John! That is bad, very bad. I cannot let her read aloud. I cannot let her read quietly. So I scream. I climb on the couch and try to jump on Mommy's head, too, but she's pretty quick for being so large. This happens every day. They call it "Reading Lessons". Well, I haven't learned how to stop the reading yet, but I will. Oh yes, I will...

I'm sleepy. I doze off on the couch, snuggled against Mommy, half-heartedly shoving at the book hovering over my head...

Daddy comes home. He smiles at me and picks me up. He laughs and hugs all of us. Then he feeds me bits of his lunch. He loves us.

As I am basking in the glow of happiness, Mommy sneaks up behind me and shoves my head into a dark, scary tunnel! Out of nowhere, such an assault! I have no chance for escape, and I start to scream for help. Suddenly I come out the other side. Oh. It's that shirt thing again. Well, alright, since it's already around my neck... Then come the shoes. Shoes, I can handle. They don't make my head disappear, and it's such fun to watch Mommy try to catch my feet with the shoes.

Daddy loads me into the car. I help with the buckles. We are off on a trip! Wee!

It doesn't turn out to be much fun. The first place we stop had the most beautiful sparkly things in a corner! I try to tell them about this amazing thing. I'm grunting and squealing for all I'm worth! At one point, I get so wobbly that I literally tip over. Nothing. Well, the boys seem to get it, but the adults just ignore it. Like they see this all the time? I'm over a year old and I don't remember ever seeing anything this exciting! There are shining dangly things, too. I'm in heaven! Mommy keeps saying, "Look with your eyes, not with your hands," and "No-no, Baby."

Oh for Pete's sake, Woman! Just how do you learn anything about your world when you put almost none of it in your mouth? I persist. So does she. The whole ordeal is quite the exercize in frustration. I am glad when we leave.

Our next stop is this wonderful place with cups of bubbly drinks and cartons of rubbery, plastic-like things that smell so good. The best part is that they let me put them in my mouth! We eat. Well, they eat, I explore, making up for the lack of exploration at the first place. (I am still pretty peeved about that.)

Just when I think we will go home for some quality screaming at Mommy while she tries to read a book to the boys time and then a nap, things take a turn for the worse. (You know, the boys are far too quiet when Mommy messes with those books. I think they've forgotten how much fun it is to do that.) Instead of heading home, we pull into the book place. Well, rats.

We walk in, and what do you know, but here are more lovely corners just filled with sparklies and danglies and crinklies. And still no touching. No eating. No licking. No throwing. I don't know where they get these ideas, but I suspect they're wrong. These things are just made for eating and licking and throwing. Why else would so many of them be round if not for rolling along the floor?

Mommy and the boys wander the rows, picking out more infernal books. I try to wander the rows, too, but Mommy (I'm starting to doubt her benevolence) keeps retrieving me. Fine, I think, I'll climb. Again with the "no-no" (as if it's one word? Does she not know she's repeating herself?) and the "come here" and the "shh shh shh, it's ok".

It is NOT OKAY! The boys have plenty of opportunity to bolt while I have her distracted. I don't know why they don't. They could have stripped the green thing in the corner twice over. If they weren't going to take advantage of the chance, the least they could have done is distract her for me. I did manage to cut the trip short, but not short enough.

That place is infinitely interesting if they would just leave me alone and let me explore! I found cords sticking out of boxes! I found another pile of sparklies. I found these great flat, rectangular plastic boxes that just sail across the floor with very little effort. Yup, you guessed it: no-no, don't touch, come here. Oh, I give up. Let's go home.

We pick up Daddy and come home. I like it here, and to show my appreciation, I quit crying. We run and play. Mommy sings. I scream some more. She stops. The boys play at the computer while Mommy makes the kitchen smell yummy. I throw legos into the kitchen. Mommy likes that. She shoves them back my way so I can throw them again.

We hurray the moose and eat. I love to bury my face in a warm, buttery pile of mashed potatoes. It feels so good. You have to try it some time. Everyone uses their happy voices at dinner. Everyone talks. It's noisy, but it's good noise. There are warm smells and soft smiles. James says it's a magical place, where we eat. I think he's right.

We play a bit after supper. I help the boys tidy our bedroom, and then we play in the tub. I pee in it, but don't tell them. They get weird about that. Pfft. Like they've never peed in the tub before. Right.

Then we wrestle and jump. We put on warm jammies fresh from the dryer and curl up in big, soft blankets.

The day ends in Mommy's arms, her voice calling out from behind one of those ~~~~ books. But it feels so good to be here, like this. I'm warm and fed and happy. I don't want to move, so I snuggle in a little deeper and listen to the sounds of my home.


Whooo Boy

So yesterday, John ate pretzels. That's cool. He likes pretzels. Except these were Rolled Gold, not, as I thought, the Glutino wf ones. *whine* We paid for it today. He spent the day on the verge of tears or in tears. Poor little guy.

Jacob has picked up on James' "owie gatherings" and when somebody cries, Jacob gets up and goes running to them. Granted, once he gets there, he squats down with his hands on his knees and stares at them like a mechanic looking at a blown tranny, but he's getting the feel of it, and that's a wonderful thing to see.

News on Zorak! *the hallelujah chorus sings, drum roll ensues, cue lights, camera...* He bought a coat! The same one he wanted to buy last winter. The same one he didn't buy last winter. I think he's excited, though, and is happy about the purchase. I know I am. He has a motorcycle jacket, but it's not quite what he needs to fend off this moist, blustery cold that comes off the water. I'm excited. My honey will be warm. And he saved the $10 he didn't want to spend on it last year! *Oh, that's funny!*

I think we're getting closer to knowing what to get the boys. I've been trying so hard not to buy all the wonderful things in the Rainbow Resources Gift Catalog!!! (Have you guys SEEN this thing? WOW. It's our dream book. Almost everything in there would be great!) James is always game for puzzles and mindbenders, for anything to do with magnets or circuits. John's up for dinosaurs! Preferably meat-eating ones, but any prehistoric beast will do in a pinch. And trains. Loves those trains. Jacob? Eh, he's easy. He doesn't know he doesn't have anything that's just his. Anyhow, we may get them gears or lincoln logs. I don't know. We tend to do one joint gift and then one or two individual gifts. They receive a few gifts from relatives, as well, and are able to enjoy them so much more. They have so much fun with what they have, and they don't get overwhelmed. But we really try to make those few gifts "just right"- things they will truly love.

On that note, the toy rack is nearly done. Stain is drying on it now. It looks incredibly rico!! Oh, I am SO excited!! There was relatively little Greek this time (some, but it wouldn't be a family project without it). I'll tell ya, I am a Muse! Zorak has the talent, skills, and ability, though. He is phenomenal. He's now working on stilts for the boys. What fun!

K, I'm off. Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, December 8


Zorak bought my Christmas present and gave it to me early. He bought a camera to replace the one that was stolen! He didn't want to make the holidays without one.

What a total dear.

I appreciate him so much.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, December 7

Twelve Panic-Stricken Days of Christmas

So. Zorak, you need to stop reading now, please. I love you.

(Is he gone? He never listens to me, but I hope he did this time- I have no other forum for this.)

Y'all know how well I handle Halloween! Expand that competence add tinsel and scotch tape - you now have my Christmas abilities. Oh yeah. It's never a dull moment around here.

A few years ago, I did a "Twelve Days of Christmas" for my true love. I just haven't the stamina or creativity to do it yearly and swore that he was going to have to find a girlfriend for the following year. Thankfully, he knew I was joking. And now I'm nearly stocked up on neat ideas (and starting a whole week- a full week- before the twelfth day! WOOHOO!) But I don't have a full twelve ideas...

Can you all help me? I need ideas that can be done in the multiple of the day itself- starting with one, working to twelve, etc. etc.

If you have my email, drop me a note. If you don't have it, but know someone who does, ask them for it. If you need it, let me know. ;-) You know, just in case he didn't stop reading, it won't spoil the *whole* thing.

If you're some pathetic troll with no other life, just know I will be administering deleting powers at will for anything not nice or appropriate.

(And Honey, if you read all the way through, don't you feel a tad bit sheepish now? I love you dot dot dot)

Kiss those babies!

Not A Creative Thought In My Head

Well, Zorak returned from his trip, dropped his bags by the stairs and promptly succumbed to a cold-like illness. He was mostly unconscious Sunday and Monday. Poor guy. He's been ill more this past year than he was in the entire eight years preceeding. I'm starting to get a little worried about him. This isn't malingering, this is flat-out sick! It seems to get him right after a trip out of town, but even before they put him on the frequent flyer work schedule, he was getting sick more frequently. *sigh*

At any rate, creativity is currently shot. I'm running on two weeks without a mommy-break to clean the house or do any of those things I usually plan to do while Zorak has the boys. It's all good, and I'm functioning... just not on full throttle.

Boys are great! School is a lot of fun right now. They're making good progress and we're happy with it, but more than that, they are enjoying the process. They're having a good time working together on projects and mastering new skills. Forget lighting a candle, I'll set the whole altar on fire if it'll help them stay like that!

Weather is great! I finally hung a clothesline in our back yard. (Wonderful Neighbor swears you can line dry clothing year-round out here.) I hung a load. It dried. Oooooooo, neato! I hung a second load. It started to rain. I brought the load back in. It stopped raining, but threatened me with rain all day. Hey! That's not right! Either rain or move along, there! We'll see if I can bring our electric bill down any this winter or if I'll just get ample exercize bringing in and hanging out loads based on the cloud activity!

I've received several emails from folks saying they couldn't leave a comment. Looks like Blogger has bugs again. Some other bloggers have already gone back to HaloScan because of it. I'll look into alternatives and see what we can do. Sorry for the inconvenience, and please don't give up trying- I love reading your comments and enjoy the stories y'all share!

Well, we're off to do something productive. We'll break from school for vacation next week and I'd like to make some headway before we do. Hope you're all having a productive, enjoyable Tuesday!


Sunday, December 5

Project Purgatory -or- When Worlds Collide

This is how our projects usually go:

Dy: You know, we need a _____.
Zorak: Yeah? We can make one. (It's now out of his mind. We can make one. Doesn't mean we will, just that we could. Problem addressed.)
Dy: Yeah. That would be nice. (It's now embedded in my mind, and oh, how the ideas flow!)

I have to add an aside here that Zorak's Spider Sense has improved dramatically. I used to be able to slip under his radar and move on with my structurally diabolic plans. Occasionally, I could get home with materials in hand and begin digging for power tools before he became aware that something was afoot. Alas, this is no longer possible. A few days later, however, I approach him on the subject...

Dy: OK. Can we built it this weekend?
Zorak: (Thoroughly lost.) Build what?
Dy: That thing you said we could make.
Zorak: (Unsettling feelings begin to form in his gut...) Well, we'll have to figure out how we want to do it: make a design, recon at Lowe's, figure out the details.
Dy: (Desperately hoping to avoid anything that involves a recon mission.) Nah, it'll be easy. See? (I produce stunningly drawn sketches! They're even slanted to show perspective. OK, I just wrote sideways on the paper, but still...
Zorak: (groans, but quietly.)
Dy: We just need a sheet of plywood and some *insert miscellaneous accessories here- tile, dowels, shadecloth, whatever*. Then we put it up like this (sketch 1) and this (sketch 2, which looks astoundingly like sketch 1, turned sideways) and there ya go! All done.

This is where the transfer of enthusiasm begins.

Zorak: Okay... so how does this attach here at the corner?
Dy: With thingies. *pause* I don't know. Clamps? (no response) C-clamps? (blank stare from Zorak) Spring clamps?? (More low groaning.) Staples! (?)
Zorak: Mm-hmm. Ok, we'll see what they have at Lowe's. (This time it's my turn to groan.) What about the supports across this middle section?
Dy: (dead silence)
Zorak: Yeah. So are we going to route the edges here? And what angle do you want for these over here? And what's the purpose for this part here?
Dy: (fidgeting slightly) I, uh. Did you see the sketches I made? *pause* Is there coffee?
Zorak: (pretending his prey isn't struggling to escape) Instead of using these here we can probably rig something on the edges and φέρτε τις άκρες μαζί με την κόλλα και το στερεώστε έπειτα με τη λήξη των καρφιών. Θα χρειαστούμε τα μικρά καρφιά. Θα μπορούσαμε να προσθέσουμε τα comparments στις πλευρές....

I wander off. Get coffee. Avoid making eye contact. The transfer is complete and the project is now wholly his for this phase. It is alien to me now.

I still get called in for input which I'm not qualified to offer. I make more coffee.

This portion of the proccess wearies me. It involves nuances I don't bother to understand (you mean you shouldn't use twist-ties on a permanent structure?), demands that we work with characteristics of wood and cuts of grain (I dunno- can't we just paint it?) It involves the mathematical relation of stress and counterstress (did you notice my dead silence when he asked about the supports? I left those out on purpose. I just didn't want to mess with them.)

I see a vision and am awed by it's potential (and ease).

He sees the parts and revels in the whole (but particularly in combining just the right parts for the whole).

Together, we make some darned fine projects, but there is this space in the transfer of leadership where it's just terribly uncomfortable.

Eventually, we get the details nailed down. We make the dreaded recon trip to Lowe's. We emerge with materials. They are never "just the right thing," according to Zorak (they're always "more than we needed" according to me), and there are always revisions and adjustments upon returning home, but we're almost done.

Then comes the easy part: letting the boys help build the project. We have a wonderful, unspoken understanding that *this* is the good stuff. This is what it's all about, right here, the boys and us, working together, doing this Thing together. They learn the safety rules for using power tools, that the baby should not eat the nails, and why sanding wood is an important step. That's the part we love. The boys love it. It's a family project, and they understand that. We received many hours of pleasure under our lovely awning. The coffee table is a central focal point for our living room, and we all feel warm and fuzzy about it. The shelf we are currently building will one day obtain that status. When it's done.

If it weren't for Charles, I'd have created a patio shade that engulfed people in any wind over 2 miles per hour, a coffee table that ate children at random, and a toy bin which would have been this generation's version of the 800 pound TV on a wobbly aluminum TV tray.

But if it weren't for me, he'd still be searching for just the right materials...

Yep, we're pretty good together.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, December 3

Helicopters and Seafood!

Zorak brought back a little plastic helicopter for each of the boys. He had them out last night, showing them to me, and we forgot to stow them upon retiring. This morning the neighbors probably thought we were celebrating Christmas early. The boys came bounding into our room, shouting, "There are HELICOPTER TOYS downstairs by the television! There's even something for JACOB!"

The next seven hours are a blur of plastic things whizzing past my head, over the fence, and into the kitchen. Inside. Outside. From outside, in. Upside down. It was helicopter heaven. Boys laughing. Giggling. Gleeful and excited. Zorak upped the ante by crafting more flying things for the boys to launch from their 'Copter Launchers. He made UFO's from just about anything he could get his hands on: popsicle sticks, coffee can lids, Enchurrito containers from Taco Bell, cardboard. We have flying mechanisms all over this living room.

We went for supper at Captain Pat's Seafood on Route 235. I have now thoroughly embarrassed myself in public and proven that I am not what you'd call "A Seafood Person". Evidently I am the only person in the history of the world who has been on the verge of throwing up when presented with a hot, steaming pile of food bathed - nay, infused with and buried in - Old Bay Seasoning. I asked if, since the menu didn't say the meal would be covered in this stuff, it was possible to get some that was clean, er, plain. She looked at me like I was an alien, "You mean you want it WITHOUT the Old Bay?" Please. *wavering smile*

She did. We ate. The food is really quite good. Their whiting is tasty. The crab was delicious. Their hushpuppies have a good flavor. The shrimp were yummy. Of course, it took me ages to eat mine because I simply must "clean" them (de-vein them... you know what I'm talking about...) and these were doozies! Wow. I'm not knocking it, and once I got them all clean, I enjoyed them tremendously. I'm just sayin' I didn't know a person could have the willies for two hours straight. That's all. Like I said, evidently I'm not A Seafood Person.

However, if you're in St. Mary's Co. and want a decent, casual evening out with good food (and all the Old Bay you can stand), at a leisurely pace, this is the 100% spot-on place to go! We've found our local spot to take company. We will feed them Old Bay before we go so if they don't like it, they can say something while ordering. If they like it, they're set!

Tomorrow we begin a Project (cue heroic music!). -You have to use your big Voice Over Announcer Guy voice for anything in italics in this part- This one will be The Toy Rack. For those who've been with us through The Awning and then through The Coffee Table, you know what you're in for. For those who are just joining us, you're in for a good laugh.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, December 2

Oh my.

We began reading Oliver Twist last night. I had hoped that the boys would enjoy following the adventures of a young lad (shooting for the whole identify with the main character thing). What I did not anticipate is that the story would touch the boys so deeply.

John was on the verge of tears at several points. He often interrupts stories or conversations with, "If I was there, I'd *insert noble dragon-slaying knight-errant thing here*." Usually he's all about decapitation. The more suffering on the villan's part, the better. Last night, however, his interruptions were of a different and quite touching kind. "If I was in this story, I would bring him a candle and an apple... If I was there, I would let him have my blanket and share my bananas with him." Young Oliver's dilemma has sparked a deeply humane and tender portion of John's Knightly tendencies.

James, as well, reacted quite forcefully, his wee voice taut and slow. "But if we met a child like him, you and Daddy would adopt him, wouldn't you? You wouldn't just leave him like that, would you?" He looked at me almost accusingly. James seems to be coming into a beautiful new awareness of his (our) ability to help others, to steer the ship for good or evil. He's losing a lot of the natural egocentricity so normal in little ones. I saw it full force last night.

Oh my.

How can we doubt (or forget) the influence exerted upon us, upon our thoughts and our vision, by that which we put into our minds? How can we think that the emotions and images evoked by words and pictures do not cause some reverberation in our hearts and minds? I have always known and believed that, but do believe I've become complacent in the worldly knowledge and the filters I've designed for my own use. What about the boys? Their realm is growing, and with it comes the occasional harsh existence, sad story, painful betrayal. In every moment we have as parents, we have opportunities to help our children develop their filters, shape their worldview, and define their vision. Do we remember that?

Oh my.

We will certainly finish the story. They need to see the goodness and fortitude come through in the story. The need to know Oliver is OK. We spent nearly two hours snuggled together before bed last night. Our reading time interspersed with many questions, discussions, examples, anecdotes, and assurrances. After all, that's part and parcel of reading aloud, of addressing bigger topics, and of being a parent. And yet another example of that which is so easy to take for granted - until you are face-to-face with the deeply touching benevolence in your children's beautiful eyes. Until you can run your fingers through the trust they have in you - to help them make sense of things, to guide and model how they are to respond to things in this world.

Oh my.

What a blessing they are.

I am feeling pretty humbled today.

Kiss those babies.

The Jesus Tortilla and Luminarias

OK, if y'all really must know about The Jesus Tortilla, read this article. I claim no affiliation, and for the record, we have never made a pilgrimage to see it. (Much of what New Mexico is famous for is somewhat archetypal. Really. Well, ok, some of it. Alright, just the tortilla. The rest, we can identify with, but the tortilla, we had nothing to do with!)

Now the yard of sand and 200 paper sacks... that's good stuff! Here is a photo of Albuquerque's Old Town, all decked out in luminarias. (Surprisingly few photos of it on the internet.) In high school, one of the youth organizations I was in had the contract to do these. We started stuffing sacks with sand in July. We set them up the day before Christmas Eve. Even with fifty kids and just as many adults, we were out there all day long. We set each other on fire quite a lot. (Teens, fire and fatigue aren't the best combination.) We were out there at o'dark hundred the day after Christmas to remove them. We were so sick of sand and bags and candles by then, but had the best time. The results are truly worthwhile. If you're going to be in the Albuquerque area at Christmas, make a trek to Old Town. If you think you'd like to try some on your own, go for it and send us a picture!

OK. Nevermind. I tried to find a good link to making your basic, plain luminaria. It seems the Martha Stewart/Santa Fe Tourism Bureau crowds have gotten hold of the idea. Too kitschy. Tin cans and dainty patterns. One pattern included a "Merry Christmoose". Pffffttt. Just for clarification, there are no stinkin' moose in New Mexico!

So here is my bare-bones, tires on the roof, old-fashioned directions for making luminarias:
1. Take a lunch sack. (You'll have to buy a whole package, so use all of them. One luminaria wouldn't look right, anyway.)
2. Open it. (Or them.)
3. Dump two inches or so of sand into each open bag. (You want the bag to stand up, not cave in on itself, and not blow over in the wind. However, you don't want it too full because, well, that's just silly.)
4. Set your bags up where you want them. (I don't recommend bedsides, near curtains, or gas outlets. You know, use discretion. I can't be held responsible for folks who don't understand combustion.)
5. Snug a votive candle into the sand. (You could do the candle beforehand, but they shift and that's twice the work. These are seriously minimal-effort directions.)
6. Light your candles.
7. Oooohhhh. Ahhhhhh. Enjoy! (And blow them out before you go to bed!)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, December 1

A Quickie for Ya-

The boys are making paper chains, Jacob is chewing on my knee, and I'm enjoying The Mauritius Command. What a lovely way to spend the evening, no?

Zorak won't be back tonight, but I think I'm less surprised than he is. He is eternally optimistic with regard to time. I am eternally pessimistic. Reality seems to fall somewhere in between. If he says a job will take 15 minutes, I mentally prepare for four hours. Two hours later, he's surprised it took so long and I'm shocked it's already done. Somehow that works for us, and we move on.

Anyhow, I found the following last night and laughed until I cried. Yes, I cried. Then I choked on my coffee when I tried to inhale. If you're not from New Mexico, it may not make much sense. If you've lived there, you'll love it. The site has these for just about all the states- the only states I am truly familiar enough with to "get" and appreciate are AZ, NM, PA and MN. Enjoy! I'm off to make supper while the boys are happily engaged twirling paper chains in the living room.
Kiss those babies!

You Know You're From New Mexico When...

You buy salsa by the gallon.

You are still using the paper license tag that came with your car five years ago.

Your favorite restaurant has a chile list instead of a wine list.

You do all your shopping and banking at a drive-up window.

Your Christmas decorations include "a yard of sand and 200 paper bags".

You have license plates on your walls, but not on your car.

Most restaurants you go to begin with "El" or "Los".

You remember when Santa Fe was not like San Francisco.

You hated Texans until the Californians moved in.

The tires on your roof have more tread than the ones on your car.

You price-shop for tortillas.

You have an extra freezer just for green chile.

You think a red light is merely a suggestion.

You believe that using a turn signal is a sign of weakness.

You don't make eye contact with other drivers because you can't tell how well armed they are just by looking.

You think six tons of crushed rock makes a beautiful front lawn.

You have to sign a waiver to buy hot coffee at a drive-up window.

You ran for state legislature so you can speed legally.

You pass on the right because that's the fast-lane.

You have read a book while driving from Albuquerque to Las Vegas.

You know they don't skate at the Ice House and the Newsstand doesn't sell newspapers.

You think Sadies was better when it was in the bowling alley.

You have used aluminum foil and duct tape to repair your air conditioner.

You can't control your car on wet pavement.

There is a piece of a UFO displayed in your home.

You know that The Jesus Tortilla is not a band.

You wish you had invested in the orange barrel business.

You just got your fifth DWI and got elected to the state legislature in the same week.

Your swamp cooler got knocked off your roof by a dust devil.

You have been on TV more than three times telling about how your neighbor was shot or about your alien abduction.

You can actually hear the Taos hum.

All your out-of-state friends and relatives visit in October.

You know Vegas is a town in the northeastern part of the state.

You are afraid to drive through Mora and Espanola.

You iron your jeans to "dress up".

You don't see anything wrong with drive-up window liquor sales.

Your other vehicle is also a pick-up truck.

Two of your cousins are in Santa Fe, one in the legislature and the other in the state pen.

You know the punch line to at least one Espanola joke.

Your car is missing a fender or bumper.

You have driven to an Indian Casino at 3am because you were hungry.

You think the Lobos fight song is "Louie, Louie"

You know whether you want "red or green."

You're relieved when the pavement ends because the dirt road has fewer pot-holes.

You can correctly pronounce Tesuque, Cerrillos, and Pojoaque.

You have been told by at least one out-of-state vendor that they are going to charge you extra for "international" shipping.

You expect to pay more if your house is made of mud.

You can order your Big Mac with green chile.

You see nothing odd when, in the conversations of the people in line around you at the grocery store, every other word of each sentence alternates between Spanish and English.

You associate bridges with mud, not water.

You know you will run into at least 3 cousins whenever you shop at Wal-Mart, Sam's or Home Depot.

Tumbleweeds and various cacti in your yard are not weeds. They are your lawn.

If you travel anywhere, no matter if just to run to the gas station, you must bring along a bottle of water and some moisturizer.

Trailers are not referred to as trailers. They are houses. Double-wide trailers are "real" houses.

A package of white flour tortillas is the exact same thing as a loaf of bread. You don't need to write it on your shopping list; it's a given.

At any gathering, regardless of size, green chile stew, tortillas, and huge mounds of shredded cheese are mandatory.

Prosperity can be readily determined by the number of horses you own.

A tarantula on your porch is ordinary. A scorpion in your tub is ordinary. A poisonous centipede on your ceiling? Ordinary. A black widow crawling across your bed is terribly, terribly common. A rattlesnake is an occasional hiking hazard. No need to freak out.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from New Mexico.

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My Doctor's Note for Not Blogging

Dear Reader,

Please excuse Dy for not blogging much this week. She's had a rough week, and you wouldn't have wanted her to blog (trust me).

Her diaper bag was stolen Friday night, with her camera, keys, sling, cell phone and wallet in it. The boys were spared the horror of having lost their Gobstoppers when those turned up under the front seat of the Suburban.

The landlord decided to inform Dy and Zorak - a scant five days before the end of their lease - that a property inspection would need to be made before the lease could be renewed. Oh, and to sweeten the deal, rent went up.

Dy was hanging in there considerably well... until Zorak had to work late on Monday. Then had to head out of town on Tuesday (didn't see that one coming in time to duck, evidently). We aren't sure when his ETA home is, but it will be after the home-inspecting-lease-signing-pow-wow.

Dy has cleaned her home from top to bottom (in some cases, more than once - she does have the boys, after all) the past few days. It looks so nice, you'd think the in-laws were coming.

The boys think they've been abandoned, or they would, except for the food that appears mysteriously at the table several times a day. And that the baby finds himself in a clean diaper when one of the older boys shouts "Jacob stinks!" (It's an amazing phenomena, and they plan to tell their mother about it if and when she stops moving and talking to herself in that creepy voice.)

I've prescribed the standard US Military Rx for her: Motrin and Cepacol spray. She should be fine in two weeks, or we will administer more Motrin and Cepacol spray.

Thank you for your patience. Dy will be back to blogging after her nervous breakdown, which is currently scheduled for Saturday night. Possibly before, but no guarantees.

Dy's Doctor