Monday, February 28

Day One is Over

We survived. No, better than that, we had a great time! Evidently I'm not as much of a wuss as I thought. I kicked into Mommy Commando Mode and took charge of the day! True, camo isn't quite as spiffy as the Wonder Woman gear, but I take what I can get.

Since the county schools had their pre-emptive snow day, and the boys were having way too much fun playing together, I called a modified schedule and just let them play. Caffeine has nuthin' on the effects of children's laughter! Hi. My name is Dy. I am addicted to children's laughter.

When Smidge went down for a nap, we enjoyed a light lunch and a game of Chinese Checkers. We played for Skittles, but the stakes weren't very high. You got one skittle for each marble you landed on your objective, so everyone got ten skittles at the end. I also handed out spontaneous "good sportsmanship skittles" (for voluntary and un-coerced great behavior). They boys added a rule that you have to run laps around the house while waiting for your turn. Um. OK. Have at it, you'll sleep like wee exhausted logs tonight, boys! *muaahhhhahhhaahhhh!*

Since evenings are when Zorak normally takes the boys (you know, bath, jammies, bed), I figured the best way to avoid the You-don't-do-it-the-way-Daddy-does-it blues would be to just make everything completely different! We left the house at four to run errands: market, dollar store, library. We got home for potato soup around seven! We danced in the living room to a Raffi video and had a wonderful time. I really enjoy these kids - they are hilarious.

Zorak's testing was rained out. (Shocker! I think the guy who plans the range time for The Project is the only person alive who is not aware that we do have the technology to at least guestimate what tomorrow's weather will be.) They'll try again tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after -- until the Easter Chicken comes and sprinkles them with good-weather dust, or Uncle Sam gives up and orders us to all move to Cherry Point! Either way, his stay has been extended.

I'll have to think up individual interview questions, and will post them tomorrow night. How fun! Thanks for joining in, guys!

Cheryl, yes, I know what you mean. We didn't expect anything to come out of it, either. Neither of us was looking for anything serious (in any way, shape, or form), and we were up front about that from the start (almost painfully so, to be honest). The best way we have been able to explain it is that we knew each other in our hearts, but didn't recognize one another right away. When we did, it was one of those very definite, "Oh! I know you!" moments. We each filled a void in each other's hearts that neither of us knew existed until it had been filled. I don't think you can hide from that- it'll find you, even in a dark, country bar. *smile* Thankfully.

Kiss those babies!

*sigh* Day One

It's gonna be a long week.

Captain Aubrey may be dashing and quite heroic, but he is just not as fun to curl up with at night as Zorak. *sigh* I hope this week goes quickly.

It's not the security factor, or even the comfort factor. It's not having my side of the bed warmed at night! It's not having someone to have coffee and make primal grunting noises to while we wake up. (The boys seem to avoid me until I can make proper English sounds.) It's not having someone to point out the beautiful sense of the absurd during the day. (I am horribly dull. It just hit me- I am the straight man in this relationship! ARGH! But there you have it, I'm the normal one. He's the one that adds color and humor where otherwise, it goes unnoticed.)

Zorak, if you get to a computer while you're away, know that you're loved and missed! The boys are fine- they're fed and snuggled and happy. But we do miss you.

On other topics:

I admit it, I took all the Mr. Goodbars and the peanut butter cups out of the Springtime Mix bag of chocolates we bought at BJ's. There, I said it. I don't have many more years to get away with this before the boys realize what I'm up to. I'm going to enjoy it while I can. :-)

Wouldn't you know it? While we're waiting for the bid results, a fantastic house popped up on the market! IN our price range, IN this county (which means no trips over the big, scary bridge & a shorter commute for Zorak). It's on over an acre. If we don't get the repo, this one's gonna be gone.

Peace, peace, peace. Comfort, comfort, comfort. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

OK, we're off to the market. It should be bustling. They closed the schools today because it "might" snow! Hee hee. That's funny.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, February 27

The Interview

Alright, so I'm, what, the second to last person ever to do one of these? You know how they work (I had to re-read the directions). Chris interviewed me, so here are my answers. If you'd like an interview, post "Interview Me" in the comments section- I'll interview the first five respondants here and you can either reply in the comments (so if you don't have a blog, but would like to do this) or blog your response and let me know when you've answered! Have fun!

1. What is your biggest challenge in homeschooling and how do you cope?

Oh, that's easy: keeping it fun. I'm not a fun person when it comes to learning. Learning should be prolonged and painful. It should make you sweat, darnit! In a previous life, I taught in a dark, scary Middle Ages monastery. Thankfully, the boys tow the line there and keep me focused on the "good stuff". They insist on laughter and raucous giggle fests. They bribe me, too, with their gleaming eyes and tinkling laughter. I can't resist, and I find myself going against every grain in my body to make things fun.

It wears me out, to be honest. But, it's so worth it. Maybe by the time they leave for college it'll be habit and I can turn my machinations on Zorak?

2. Just beyond the edge of househunting sanity, you fly to Las Vegas for the World Realtor’s Association convention. You have strapped explosives and an ignitor to your body, you bum-rush security and steal the microphone from Ms. Perky Realtyface. You now have the attention of the entire realty world, what do you say? Or do you just laugh maniacally and push the button?

Oh, the laughing and button pushing sounds so appealing! I'm thinking that screaming in my most maniacal voice, "YOU'RE NOT LISTENING TO ME!!!" or just uttering a prolonged series of statements, muttered only loudly enough for witnesses to recount them to the media and get the message out, would be the best way to go. Actually, with more thought on it, I'm thinking the second is the best way to go- with the first, news reports might begin with, "Filled with adolescent angst, 32 year old..." Yeah, that would be weird. Well, more weird than bombing the realtor's convention.

3. Tell us one of your Theme Songs. What song do you play for/sing to yourself under what circumstances? You get extra Nothing Points for posting the lyrics.
Ultimate Theme Songs (songs that can pick me up, give me a charge, and turn my head): Copperhead Road by Steve Earl, and The Devil's Right Hand. And I like to superimpose the whistling part of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly soundtrack at the beginning of any good driving tape.

For the All-Around Theme Song, though, I'm going to go with "My Own Heart's Desire" by Ian Tyson- it's a waltz, and it's beautiful.

1.There's a light in the kitchen
As I cross the valley and head her on into the yard
My wife is watching from that light in the kitchen
As I cross that old cattle guard
I unload my horses -- Two Bits and Roanie
And throw them a few Flakes of hay
My wife comes to meet me with that determined look
The first thing that I heard her say

Darlin' we haven't gone dancing
For such a long time now
It's been so long since we twirled around the dance floor
I've almost forgotten how
So gas up the pick-up
I'll bring the babies
They'll stay with the neighbors tonight
If the band at the bar
Can play waltzes and shuffles
I'm gonna dance with my own heart's delight

2.So I drank a cold one
I sang in the shower
I pondered upon marriage and such
They say this country was hell on horses and women
I guess it ain't changed all that much
We make a good team my lady and I
I couldn't ask for anything more
If you don't believe me
Just catch us tonight
We'll be the best dancers out on that floor

4. What is your most embarassing/entertaining Kids in Public story?

Wow, the minute I read this, I couldn't think of any Zorak would let me repeat in public. (I know, I tried- he nix'd three very good ones.) So far, our stash of these have come courtesy of John, who just doesn't have the same sense of propriety that James does. If you were to meet John, you'd see that he is all hugs and snuggles (sometimes like being snuggled by a rhino, but still snuggly), and yet he's the king of the food chain. That child has no fear- not of dragons, not of electricity. He's the Alpha male - in his own mind, anyway.

At one of James' birthday parties, our neighbors, Ben & Claudia, were there, with their wee son, Sam. Sam was playing happily under the counter when John spied the prey on the Savannah, er, the baby on the carpet. He had a paper towel tube. The stalk was on. What he didn't realize was that Ben was standing in the kitchen, observing the whole process: clueless baby vs. mighty hunter. Ben didn't say anything to pre-empt it - he wanted to see what John would do. (We share a wonderfully warped sense of humor with these folks- hence, the deep and beautiful friendship!) John got within a foot of Sam, tube raised high to strike, when he saw Ben. Without missing a beat, John whipped that tube around to his eye and surveyed the living room through his new "telescope". When he swung it back around to Ben, he saw that Ben was still watching. So he faltered, for just a split second, turned the telescope into a cane, which he leaned on and hobbled off.

Ben was still laughing when he told us about it after the party.

5. How did you and Zorak meet?

It's your typical "travelling salesman meets office manager" romance. Ours has fared better than the ones that generally get published. I was at my favorite seedy country bar one night with friends. He was there with his cousin. He never said a word to me, but when he took his cousin home, he told him he was going back "to ask that blonde to dance".

When he asked me to dance, I was leery and pretty certain my feet were going to pay for it, but I was there to dance (and he was really cute). He was wearing Dockers, dress shoes and a business-style button-up shirt. I thought it brave and kind of sexy of him to wear that into this particular bar, but seriously, wouldn't you be a little leery? Wow! He could dance! Quite well! "How'd you learn to dance?" He laughed, "I grew up on a sheep ranch." Oh, well, how can you not want to hear that story, right?

We had so much fun, and felt so comfortable with each other. I broke two of my cardinal rules for him: I let him buy me a beer (two bouncers came to verify that 1) I'd said he could, and 2) I wasn't slobbering drunk and out of my mind, before the bartender would give him the beer); I let him walk me out (normally, nobody but a bouncer left with me- and they made me tell them where I was going) When the bar closed, we drove to my favorite haunt (the truckstop- don't laugh, they had kick-ass chicken friend steak, and bottomless coffee, not to mention the place was filled with folks I knew who would come looking for me if I disappeared!) where we talked and laughed until it was time for both of us to go back to work. He was a little unsettled when every bouncer in the bar filed past us about an hour after we sat down, but he handled it with the grace and upfront openness that he does everything he encounters.

Anyhow, we had a great time, got along famously, promised not to get attached to one another, and saw each other daily every time he came to town.

At some point, we just sort of realized it was too late- we were attached. That was almost ten years ago. Good stuff!

Thanks for the interview!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, February 26

House Update (not ours)

Alaska and the Puppies have been house hunting (rather, she's been house hunting and they've been enjoying a Dude-A-Palooza), and it sounds like they've got a line on a good one! Today, Chris was discussing their plans for selling themselves on the current owners and mentioned that he may have heard it from me.

Sort of.

It was suggested in our comments that we give it a shot, and I did approach the boys on it. I don't mind playing dirty, really. James was all a-go on the idea and promptly sat down to draw up a heart-melting scene for the VA to oooohhh and ahhhh over, showing the industrious Veteran and his happy, hope-of-tomorrow brood, enjoying their very own home.

This is what he brought me:

I love the happy family up on the flat part of the roof (yes, it actually looks like that). However, there are a few items that caused us to refrain from sending the picture in with our bid.

The main question that begged to be asked: "Who is that on the chimney?"

James: That's John. He was cold. But he caught on fire.

(Which I can see by the red face and the smoke billowing from his... er, yes, I see.)

Also, note there is no baby in the picture. We don't know where he is. Possibly he's inside, stoking the fire.

Me: So, um, who's the guy in the sky with the wand and the goatee? Is that God?

James: Oh no! That's the house fairy, sprinkling magic happy house dust on us.

(OK, that's cool. But still, the flaming child on the left freaks me out, and you know how suspicious folks can be of us homeshcooling families!)

We should have asked Max to draw one up for us.

So, anyhow, Congrats to Alaska and the Puppies on making headway and being so darned cute in the process! I hope AK is getting some much-needed introvert tending time tonight. I will continue to live vicariously through you guys!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, February 25

Frozen Drool, Wonder Woman and LOUD babies

I had the day "all planned out": market, Wal-Mart, BJ's (we've been holding off until payday, can ya tell?) But then Zorak had to work. And we slept in. And by the time we had everyone fed, dressed and dropped off, the boys and I made it to BJ's. That was it. Two of three were out cold and drooling when I pulled into the Shopper's lot. It was too cold today to drag them through the parking lot with wet shirts, so we headed home.

Three of four napped. Thankfully, James likes to read undisturbed for hours at a time. I meant to lay down with the baby just long enough to get him back to sleep, but he has this bizarre Star Wars-like ability to throw me into a trance. "This is not the toddler you're looking for." OK. If ever there is an intergalactic war between good and evil, don't bother to draft me. I will be of no use to you.

Zorak thought he'd be done by four. Well, maybe four thirty. OK, be there around five-ish. Closer to six. Poor guy. By the time they were done with the briefing and ready to go, it was seven o'clock. He hadn't eaten all day, and he was cold, tired and g-r-u-m-p-y. We have secret plans to make tomorrow a special day for him. He heads off Sunday for who-knows-how-long. The change of scenery will be nice, and this trip will bring The Project closer to completion, which will do wonders for his enthusiasm in general.

You know, I hate not being able to improve things for him in that realm, directly, and it's difficult to stay focused on improving things for him by the indirect means at my disposal: timely meals, tidy house, clean skivvies on demand, that kind of thing. It matters, I know, but that's hard to get enthusiastic about it when what I really want to do is break out the golden bracelets and sparkly boots and take on the dark forces of the universe!!!

And might I just go on record as saying that Smidge is the - I kid you not, and no, this isn't a case of selective amnesia - THE loudest child we have ever had! Holy Bat Crap, Robin, what are you feeding that child? It's not as bad as it could be, I suppose, as it's usually a happy noise, but... still, seriously. When you are accustomed to having children who use their inside voices from the age of, oh, ONE, on, it's downright shocking to have one that squeals so heartily you'd swear he's strained something doing it. I wanted to d-i-e tonight at dinner. Thankfully, three tables of people made a point of coming up to our table and commenting that the boys are wonderfully behaved and so cute, such a joy to watch and we must really enjoy them, etc. Bless those kind souls. There is a special place in heaven for folks who can handle the occasional Happy Baby Eruption Of Glee and don't see it as further proof of the lack of respect for others in today's society.

And on the plus side, Smidge learned to put his finger to his mouth and say, "Shhhhh, yes, shhhhhh" tonight. So, that was a bonus.

The house is quiet, the laundry can wait. I am going to go read Treason's Harbour with a hot cup of coffee and some chocolate!

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 24

We Got 'Da Snow!

I don't bother with The Weather Channel online anymore. I'm pretty sure they've just put up an infinite "weather warning" for St. Mary's County and call it good. Could be good, could be bad- they don't know, but you're gonna get weather, folks.

I prefer to wait for my little insta-weather guys to fill me in. This morning is a good example. The alarm went off, and I heard, "Mama, it's morning and it's snowing! It's been snowing for a while!"

Now, that's the way to wake up in the morning! Who needs to know the exact temperature? Who cares how long it's going to last? John's morning weather alert told me all I need to know:

* School (at least ours) will be on an abbreviated schedule today.
* Waterproof outer gear is the attire of the day.
* There will be hot chocolate and thick, hot muffins served this afternoon.

Wow, come to think of it, he's like a little pre-programmed Day Planner, too! All in one snuggly little package! Cool.

So whatever weather you're having today, I hope you enjoy your home and your family in it.

Kiss those babies!

Up Too Late & Being Available

Some people are just so thoroughly enjoyable. But they're bad for you, because you end up laughing and talking until almost one thirty in the morning...

Wait a minute! Since when is laughing til the wee hours of the night bad for you? There are much worse ways to spend an evening, definitely. And so, it's quite late and I've told Melissa everything I had to say- so right now nothing sounds quite fresh enough to blog. And I'm tired.


The boys were wonderful tonight. I coached the boys ahead of time that they can come to me ANY time they need me. The pre-arranged child-care had me a little anxious, knowing it would be somebody from the church (and the church is big on letting little ones cry it out rather than "disturb" Mommy by coming to get her. I find it more disturbing to think my children were denied access to me, so my children stay with me.) But this was at a private home and they would be within earshot. Plus, I taught them a pre-arranged sentence to utter if anyone tried to stop them from coming to get me. It was based on James' question, "But Mom, what if they say you're busy?" Repeat after me:
"My Mama is never too busy for me. She said I can go to her any time I need her. Please move."
They both had it memorized before we got to the house. We all felt better when we arrived.

Smidge came in and out pretty regularly, as toddlers will do. That's what they do. They wander off to be independent for a while, then come tank up on Mama Lovin's, and they're off again. I don't believe in interfering with that. That's what I'm here for, and that's what the toddler needs: a home base from which to launch his explorations of the world around him. I could tell it really bothered the sitter, who usually came into the room hot on Smidge's heels with an apologetic look on his face. I'd swoop Smidge up onto my lap and he'd nestle in for a minute or two, then give me a beso and trot off to the next adventure. No fussing. No crying. No disturbance of the dialogue among adults. Nobody rolled their eyes. The other toddlers, however, tried a similar route and were turned back by their parents every time. This inevitably disrupted the study, the calm, and the toddlers. Apologies all around by the harried parents, tense smiles from the other participants.

Near the end of the study, I did hear an adamant little voice telling the teenager in charge, "My Mama said she is never too busy for me!" I smiled. And retrieved my sullen, yet determined four-year old. He came and sat quietly while we prayed, then kissed my cheek, signed "I love you" and ran off to play again.


On the way home after picking up Zorak from the hangar, James asked, "Mom, who is my uncle's uncle's uncle's uncle's uncle's uncle's uncle's uncle's uncle's wife?" So I did the math and added all the great's in there and gave him an answer. "Oh," he said. He was quiet for a minute and then we heard, "What's her name?"


The two younger boys were unaware of the world by the time we got home. We loaded them in their beds, and hung out with James for a bit, eating in the living room, discussing rocks and other fun six-year old stuff. They were just finishing off the peas when Zorak brought up the peas poem (You know, I eat my peas with honey/ I've done so all my life...) James remembered it and thought it was ok. But then Zorak made up a new poem:
I eat my peas with glue
I've done it since I was four
It makes them hard to chew
But it keeps them on the door

I don't know where he comes up with these things, but it had James in stitches and when he finally caught his breath, he said, "Dad, you really need to write that down." And here it is.

I'll see y'all in the morning!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 23

Comment Fixes & Other Stuff

Hey guys- Melissa emailed me to say the comments had just quit working. I've switched them to pop-up version now, so we'll see if that works.

Today, the hustle and bustle ends. It's over. We placed our bid for the house on XYZ street. It's a sealed bid situation, and we won't know the outcome until next Thursday or Friday. So.

On to other things!

Zorak has to fly tonight. He sounded heartbroken on the phone- not only does he get overtime and get to play with a great helicopter, but he won't be able to make it to the Bible study he'd signed us up for, either. Of course, that kind of heartbreak was nothing compared to the groan of utter despair he let out when I told him it would be ok if he missed the first one. *hee hee*

We had a great afternoon! We dropped Zorak off on base and then ran FUN errands- trip to the library, where we picked up "educational videos" - which the boys were not thrilled about in theory, but are currently glued to and thoroughly enjoying! Then to the Naval Air Museum. There's just nothing like a couple of hours scouring fighter jets, sonabuoys, and open trainer cockpits when you're six and four! I love time spent with the boys, doing the things they enjoy. And they've been so patient with us through all the things nobody enjoys (but which needed to be done). That was wonderful.

Tomorrow is our Friday! Yippee! Not sure what our plans are for the weekend, but it should be fun. *whisper* I've heard rumors of s-n-o-w! :-)

Anyhow, Smidge is asleep and we have to be at Bible study in about 45 minutes. Probably ought to feed the wee ones before we head out. I'll see y'all tonight!


Tuesday, February 22

Whoa, what's up with Blogger?

Commenting has become an entire computer-time activity all its own! I've noticed it on other blogs, and have heard from y'all that it's difficult here, too. I've also noticed the new comment format- wonder if the two are related? Weird. Anyway, for those who have the fortitude to leave comments, thanks. :-) Y'all keep me smiling with your wit and anecdotes. And if you have pretty much given up on trying to leave comments, I understand. Hopefully the problem will be addressed soon.


Monday, February 21

Beautiful things

OK, first off, I have to say that I'm not the person to invite to a Longaberger party, and I don't own a single wall sconce or silk floral arrangement (other than those hideous poinsetta things we inherited from my Mother, but as soon as James is looking the other way, they're outta here!) I just don't get a big thrill from collecting things to dust, spend money on, or clutter up my house. So, knowing that about me...

Imagine my absolute delight when I saw the beautiful journals Samantha is creating over at The Home Realm! She posted a few samples of the work she had done, and I was simply, immediately enamoured with them. They're useful and lovely. Granted, I have a deep and abiding addiction to, erm, appreciation for fine stationery and the written word. If you can combine the two in a beautiful fashion, you have my attention. Samantha has done that with her journals.

Then, if you're not all imagined out, imagine my giddiness upon receiving one from Samantha, herself! She asked me what theme I would like, and I asked for one of mountains. Specifically, mountains out west, which are quite different from the ones out east, and that is the one physical feature I miss the most.

Not long after that conversation, here is what found its way to me:
Hosted by
She claims she doesn't do nature scenes well, but look at these!! The images on the inside pages are light enough that I can write on the page (even in pencil) and they don't interfere, but they bring a delighted smile every time I open my journal.

Here is the cover. The writing is from Psalms and says, "God has made my feet like deer's feet, and sets me upon high places..."
Hosted by

Now, if this journal looks green to you, please let me know. It looked right on my computer, but when I uploaded it to Photobucket, it morphed. The cover is a gorgeous buckskin tan with a deep forest green overlay. To do it justice, I needed morning light, but it's winter in the mid-Atlantic region and we just don't get "morning light" for photos right now.

I've been using it for my prayer journal, keeping track of requests and praises. James has confiscated it more than once, and he loves to keep it in his personal library. He fell in love with it, and asked me the day it arrived if it could be a "Mommy and James Journal". I thought he meant for me to write about us in it, but no, he wanted to be able to write in it, too. "It's beautiful," he whispered, as he traced the designs.

Ah, well now, I can't argue with that kind of logic, can I?

If you are looking for a nice gift for the writer on your list, or for the fine paper products addict you know and love, please contact Samantha about getting one of these. They would make a lovely stand-alone gift (with a personal inscription on the inside front cover), or would be the ultimate foundation to a writing basket or gift bag.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, February 20

What You Can Accomplish

No, still no deep blogging. I tried to blog two and a half hours ago, but something had gone horribly awry with my ISP, I think, and the computer refused to believe it was online.

SO, I quit procrastinating (which, incidentally, was not on this year's list of goals) and cleaned the computer desk. I don't mean I dusted and tidied. I mean I dumped every single drawer. Zorak took the big, nasty one out back and shook it out. We sorted, filed and flung. Every piece of paper, every stray CD-ROM, every lurking paper clip- all are home and happy now. The desk is happy now. I had no idea I had a package of blank note cards! WooHoo!

Really, you should never give a room a cleaning, because if you do, then you will find things that belong elsewhere. And when you put those things away, you will find that their homes need a cleaning, too. And that will lead to rediscovering the paper shredder, which will cause you to keep looking for things to shred. And once you've shredded all the incriminating documents, you'll feel ready to run for office. And you'll decide you need to be on the school board, because after all, it's your Village, too. And when you decide to run for office, the papers will want to interview you. So you'll have to give at least one room a good cleaning.

Yes, I do not recommend that you ever give a room a cleaning.

Kiss those babies!

Realtor Rant 2/19- A Breakthrough?

We met with the realtor yesterday morning. She'd found the info on the XYZ house, and we were quite excited.

The alternator on the Suburban gave up as we topped out the Big Scary-Ass Bridge. (We knew it was coming, but were hoping to ignore it until payday.) So when we met with her, we explained that we were running only on battery power and would not be able to view all three homes she had lined up for us to see.

Her: (biting her lower lip and furrowing her brow) Hmmm... Welllll, hmmmm, let's see.

I braced myself.
Zorak started to chuckle.
I slapped his knee.
He slapped my knee.
We engaged in a silly knee-slapping war while she sat there, contemplating.

Her: (perking up visibly) OK, well, if we can only see two, *exhale* then we need to see the best two on the list.

Can you see it all from where you're sitting? It's not in slow-motion, but in full-out 1980's John Cusack self-deprication mode...

*bang, bang, bang*, my head against the dashboard.


There, feel better? That's what I did- in my head. But on the outside, I turned to Zorak for moral support, for him to take the lead.

He ignored me and pretended to tap the gauges, still chuckling. (He saw that coming, didn't he?)

ONCE MORE, from the top. Everybody, on the count of three, say it with me!
the. one. we. requested. is. the. one. for. us. to. see.
If necessary, it is the only one for us to see.
But do not, I repeat, DO NOT leave it off the list in favor of smaller, re-carpeted, more expensive boxes on the list.

She sighed. She grimaced. She compared the three printouts and grimaced some more. (I'm starting to think this is physically hurting her.) She acquiesced.

(Boy, was I ever glad, as we didn't have the juice left in the Suburban for my next plan of attack: chase her all over the County, screaming out the windows, "We want a shack! We want a shack!")

So, we looked at it.

It's infested with mice- they've eaten the bottom two inches off the cabinets.

Window seals are broken so the view, as seen through them, is a hazy dew-coated mirage.

The carpet looks like gypsies camped there over the winter.

One of the skylights leaks ferociously and seems to be fostering the always-fun-and-educational Chia-Roof Ceiling concept. (Zorak assures me there is a huge difference between a Chia Roof and a Chia Ceiling- this house has the latter.)

Something very bad took place in the living room. As long as the police have been notified, I'm good with that.

The list goes on.

Except for being a little far from Zorak's work (which is so not an issue at this point!) it is, in a word, perfect!

Now, though, the key is to figure out how much Dude*, and others of his persuasion, are going to bid for it. We are hoping to find that sweet spot: below full-market fixed-up value, but more than it'd be worth for Dude to dump into it and hope to get a profit after he fixes it up. Anybody want to take a stab at the profit margin for something like this? We're open for suggestions!

After the first hour of us poking around the house and taking notes, the clouds parted and the angels sang. Our realtor actually said, "Yeah, you know, this wouldn't be bad." She stopped trying to usher us out the door to the next box. She quit trying to play down the ugliness (and beauty) of the structure's condition. For the first time, she seemed to be able to look at this house through our eyes and see what we've been trying to explain. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I'd give two thousand words for one good walk-through. I don't think she'll be trying to show us any more 900 square foot trailers in the "200K and up range" anymore.


So, yeah, that's it for now. Will have an update on Tuesday about a few things. Kinda nervous. Kinda happy. Quite thrilled to know we won't have to sell this realtor to the gypsies. It's all good.

Kiss those babies!

*Dude*- pet name for the rude guy who walked in on the showing, wearing the orange down vest and $300 work boots with the toothpick protruding from the corner of his mouth, an "investor," who supposedly has an "in" with another realtor and knows the lingo, but didn't bother to admit to a breech of ettiquette until after he'd seen the entire structure. May his level leak and his angles be off by just enough to not be able to fudge them anymore.

Friday, February 18

A long talk, a busy day, a wonderful family

The boys and I didn't start out quite on the right foot this morning. When things finally erupted into a Picasso-Mensch like combo snapshot of screaming and crying and one-eyed creatures with no ears... it was time for a talk.

I brought the boys downstairs, set them to lunch at the table. Then I tended to the bumps and bruises which had precipitated the screaming and crying. (John had managed to mangle himself quite nicely by jumping on my bed after I'd come downstairs to prepare lunch... after I'd ushered him out of my room on the way.) So, no sympathy because you got hurt while disobeying me, but I will check for actual damage or injuries that need tending to, and remind you that I love you, yes, even when you've made bad choices.

Then I took a d-e-e-p breath.

I exhaled.

The boys stared at me, obviously disquieted.

And we talked in depth about tomato staking (well, deep when you're six and four). We talked about how Mommy's job is to guide them and prepare and look after them, always, with the hope that one day they'll be big tomatoes themselves and capable of looking after their own garden. (We had a slight swerve off course as they asked questions about gardens, greenhouses, and whether we can get a tomato worm. I've gotta back off the analogies a little.)

Back on track (mostly, but they really would like a tomato worm), I apologized for having not done it as consistently as I ought to. I explained that I'll be more diligent about that now, because I love them and they deserve that. They are my precious little ones (NOT going into baby plants at this point- I have a brief window for focus, and it's closing fast by now), and I want to help them learn to have a safe and wonderful home.

They still looked a bit skeptical about where this was all heading.

We talked about staying together in one room at all times for a while, within eyesight of Mommy, much as we do when we are out and about. We talked about the importance of obedience and that Mommy is simply not going to ask them to do something that is against what is Right. Nor, for the record, is she purposfully going to bring a tomato worm into the house (have you seen those things? *gag!*) but we can plant tomatoes this year and if they find one, they can have it. Outside.

The rest of the day went quite well, including a trek to the County Courthouse (where you cannot take a cell phone or a camera, although that's not posted on the building, and you will be asked to trek back the two blocks to the car to unload them before they will let you in, yes, even if it's below freezing, and no, they won't watch them for you, but yes, they will answer your curious children's gazillion questions about how all this stuff works- so, eh, I'm good with that), back to the S-s-s-suburban, back to the C-c-c-courthouse (where another security guard gave the first two a hard time for making us go back out in the cold for a phone), to the market, and finally home again to snuggle and read a bit.

I actually used the "outlast them" philosophy today, as described on the now-famous Tomato Staking website while we were at the market. The boys are generally outstanding in public, but at the end of an already long day, it's easy to lose focus. I was amazed at how much impact there is in simply saying, "Wow. Well, you know how to walk down an aisle with the basket, and that wasn't it. Let's back up and do it again, please." At first, you think you accidentally said it in Pig Latin, based on the blank looks you get. Then you smile and head back the way you just came, and they realize, wow, she's serious. So they re-do it. Properly. Cool.

It IS that easy. No yelling. No screaming. Simply convey the message that you know they know what's expected and y'all both know that wasn't what was expected. Pfft. How stinkin' simple is that? I, for one, was surprised. There was not another incident at the market.

Zorak had to work late. Then he didn't. Then he might. But he didn't. We weren't expecting him home until after bedtime, and it was a wonderful surprise to have him pop in the door at five! Doubly wonderful was that supper was simmering, the children were clean and happy, and he came home to a welcoming environment and fresh coffee. Sometimes fate is kind, no?

Enjoy your home on this cold night, and your family. Tuck them a little more tightly when they're sleeping, but when they're wide wake give them tons of lovin's and kiss those babies!

PS- I'll post the house hunt posts separately so if you don't want to bother with them, they'll be easy to spot. Today's Realtor Rant is below. :-)

Realtor Rant 2/18

So today I talked with the Realtor. The conversation went something like this:

Her: So, since you're willing to look at that one lousy place on this side of the river that's way out of your original price range (you know, the one with 2000 square feet and a lot of work you could do yourself), I've gone and found you two on the other side of the river that are virtually new and need no work at all! And the best part is that they're less expensive that the one on this side! (By, erm, $2k)

Me: (registering the fact that both of the two "great finds" she's pushing are also well under 1000 square feet and are pretty well maxed out on their improvement potential) So, yeah, what about the one I emailed you about? What's the story on that?

Her: *pause* The one on XYZ street? Oh, that's a repo. It needs a lot of work.

Me: Yes. It's been repo'd twice. It's probably trashed. I want to look at it.

Her: I think it's also old.

Me: Well, you know how we've mentioned that we'd rather upgrade a property ourselves... *pause for verbal confirmation that never comes* we think this could be along those lines. Plus, the taxes on it are lower than the other two you're mentioning. And this one's over 1400 square feet. A 1400 square foot home in great condition is really quite expensive.

Her: *laughs* Yeah, it is.

Me: And this one is not in great condition. But we could fix that. So, do you see where I'm heading with this?

Her: OK, so do you want me to look it up?

Me: That would be great. Thanks. And we'd like to look at it. In person. You know, walk in and see it. When can we do that?

Her: Um... So, I think you'll really like these other two. Do you want me to meet you at the one on ABC street at, say, eleven tomorrow? *she's starting to sound suspiciously like the voice response system at Wells Fargo, and that system was a huge reason to change banks*

Me: Why don't you see if we can see the repo first and then email me the itinerary.

Her: I think you're just going to love these two I've found for you!

Me: *making static noises* I think I'm heading into a bad area. I can' *more static noises* Call... later? K. Bye!


James: Mommy, are you choking? Why did you make that noise? Are you okay?

Thursday, February 17

Big Catch Up Blog

Blech. I hate posting these, but just couldn't get to the 'puter to blog the past few days- so, grab a container of your favorite relaxing beverage and come visit.


We drove to DC today (I emphasize DC because I spent the last week thinking The Kennedy Center was in Baltimore! Woops! *ahem* My apologies to the City Dwellers who know better.) SO, we arrived in DC, just the three of us: James, John and I. We enjoyed a wonderful performance by Balafon, a West African dance and musical troupe. The energy these performers have makes a room full of toddlers look lethargic. Wow. It was a riveting and touching performance, and we all enjoyed it tremendously.

We also got caught in the space-time warp that exists up that way. I can get there in an hour and a half. I cannot get home in less than three and a half hours. Exits I took going up are non-existent heading the other direction. Streets that ran perpendicular to the streets I need suddenly loop around and drop me off in Delaware (or thereabout). Interstates end. Just end. For no apparent reason other than an Eighth Dimesion ripple. Fortunately, I know this will happen, so we stock up on snacks for the ride home. *grin* Made it home without anyone starving to death. Now that's a successful trip.

Smidge hung out with Daddy, who was sick, but offered to keep him anyway so we could go. They had fun. They napped a lot together. That's quality bonding time (and oh, how I wish somebody had snapped a picture! I just love to see Daddies sleeping with their Babies!)

Everyone had a blast, but it was clear when we arrived back home that the family unit is happier as a complete unit. The boys doted on Smidge. Smidge snuggled, wrestled, and laughed non-stop. I basked in the glow of all of us together. Zorak just oozed happiness all over the boys. That was the best part of the day.


(If you're tired of house hunting whining, skip to the next set of asterisks...)

It seems we've found another realtor who does not understand that a LOW PRICED two-bedroom shack which is about to fall down smack in the middle of a great neighborhood is right... up... our... alley. We found a little place for way cheap (relatively speaking) last night on the MLS searches- emailed the realtor immediately with a "WE WANT TO SEE THIS OVER COFFEE IN THE MORNING, PLEASE" note. She called to say it's already under contract.

Yeah, seems she saw it come into her office but didn't bother to give us a call because "it's only two bedrooms". What? We are only using two bedrooms now! We've had this discussion. The stacking, the Naval bunk references, the whole beggars can't be choosers thing... remember? That was, what, a week ago! It would take clay to truly recreate the expression. WHAT? Ok, so we couldn't add a third bedroom for the SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR DIFFERENCE? *sigh* Guess not.

And you know, this isn't our "forever home" we are looking for here. This is our "investment to cash in on in a couple of years so we can find or build our forever home." I'm okay with a shack. I'm actually hoping for a shack. I just don't want to pay extra for a shack that somebody has put new paint and carpet in, because if that sub-floor needs help or the addition needs adding, we'd rather do it ourselves so that we know it's been done correctly.

Why am I having trouble conveying these concepts?



Yesterday was the wonderful library run! Those are just so much fun. We took Zorak with us, which was great. He hadn't been to the library with the boys before. He generally uses the one on base, which has all the appropriately engineer-like books he usually reads.

I did take advantage of the opportunity to browse the Grown Up section all by my lonesome without that loathesome "Security Officer" lurking about near the kids. (He is, perhaps, the one and only unpleasant thing about that library.) Anyhow, that was surprisingly refreshing!

Does anybody know how to pronounce the "Mma" abbreviation in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books? Is that "Mama"? The rest of the pronunciations I've been able to figure out, but that one keeps stumping me. I like to make the right sounds in my head as I read.

Picked up the next three Aubrey books, too. *sigh* *happy sigh*



Yesterday the boys both actually begged me to keep reading from Story of the World. They have enjoyed hearing about King Cyrus, the Medes and the Persians. That's a good feeling.

The new schedule is really quite nice, and I have found that we are accomplishing more in less time with the new twist to the morning.

That is about it. Supper tomorrow with some folks from church. We're pretty sure it's a trap, but that's okay. We can always pinch the baby if we need to make a quick get-away. And if it's not, then it should be a lovely evening. :-)

Have a wonderful evening, all!
And Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, February 15

Back from the Library

You know you're officially a regular at the library when...

...the librarian randomly suggests books to you, you know, since you're "finally reading fiction"...

...all the librarians flock to your husband, whom they have never seen before, but recognized because of the baby on his hip...

...and they welcome him to his first visit to the library, but look crestfallen when he just puts books on your card instead of getting one of his own...

...the children's librarian has quit recommending Walter the Farting Dog to your six year old son and finally takes him seriously when he requests books on "plant taxonomy"...

...the librarian who checks in your books doesn't give you the hairy eyeball when you explain that the first 35 pages of your last O'Brian book fell out in one chunk...

...the librarians engage the children in dialogue during checkout, asking how they enjoyed the last books (by title) and making suggestions for their next trip... find yourself keeping a running list of the "best biographies in the juvenile section" and you've read nearly all of them now... spite of the fact that you only make it to the Big People's Side of the library every eighth trip or so, you finally know your way around that side of the building, too...

...I know I've said it many times, and here I go again- I really love our library!!

Kiss those babies!

No go on the house.

The guy called this afternoon. The appraisal came in much higher than he expected, and quite a bit higher than even we anticipated. He offered to hold the note on an interest only loan with a balloon payment if we're still interested.

*snort* Funny. Of course, at the end of that period, we'll still have to get a mortgage for an amount we couldn't afford, so that doesn't exactly help, does it?

So. Ok. *sigh* This isn't going to happen. Zorak and I have talked. We're okay. He's okay. I'm okay. The housing market here is a little messed up, but that's okay, too.

I've been doing the math on many of these homes and comparative analysis. It's amazing. Homes in this area have appreciated over $4,000 per month, on average. (Some have gone up as much as $8300 a month in the last 18 months.) That just blows my mind.

And I am off to bury myself in the library. We'll see you after bedtime!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 14

Before I forget (schedule)

So, this is the Grand Canyon our schedule. I forgot to ask if y'all wanted the ideal or the typical. So, I'll let you figure out for yourselves which one this is.

Our daily routine generally consists of getting up, getting dressed (I refuse to feed anyone breakfast until everyone is dressed - unless it's a declared jammy day, which, obviously, would be a silly time to stick to that rule). I generally have to wash clothes after one wear, but if the boys don't eat in the jammies, the jammies can make it longer between washings.

Dance in the morning before breakfast. We need this. Well, I don't know if the boys need it, but I need to get that blood pumping so it can distribute the coffee more efficiently. This is nothing fancy, and nothing choreographed. We pop in a Kid's Songs CD and dance in the living room like it's the 80's all over again (all the good dancing-in-the-house scenes are from the 80's- bonus points if you can name three!)

Breakfast. We "hurray the moose" (Zorak's take on Latin... *sigh*) and then do catechism and Latin over breakfast. I try to phase the Latin in when they're about done and little mouths aren't filled with potentially projectile oats. Or worse yet, yogurt!

The boys clear their spots when they've finished eating and have just enough time to trash the front half of the living room while I tidy the breakfast dishes. Then it's on to a few lessons. The *new* schedule looks something like this:

John- WRTR - phonograms, a little writing, and reading from the McGuffey book I can't ever remember the name of. (He thinks Rab is a ridiculous name for a dog and asks daily if I will please change the dog's name to something more normal, like SillyCup.) We move on to MUS (Primer), and do a bit of work on that. James, meanwhile, is zipping through the Reader Rabbit software, quietly hoping we don't buy something that's actually challenging.

- then we switch -

James- does HWT Cursive Book & MUS while John is on the computer, honing his powers of observation, and trying desperately to stop the microwave timer with his iron mental will.

Jacob spends this time happily throwing MUS blocks about the room, climbing on John's head, and scrounging up food from places we just don't want to know about.

*This concludes the new portion of the schedule. From here on in, it's the same old thing.*

We take a break, have a snack, read a short story or poem. (I draw from the Ambleside Online list, the Robinson Curriculum books, and the wonderful piles laying around the house for this reading time.) Jacob screams at the top of his lungs the entire time. I am astounded at the boys' comprehension in the midst of this, but they do remember the stories. We set down a trail of treats that leads Jacob around the downstairs living area. This gives us some peace so we can discuss the story.

Then we do Bible, more reading, and alternate days of History, Music, and Art. Please don't ask what we're using for Music and Art. I haven't found anything yet at all. The boys are still playing the recorder, working on music theory, and trying to overcome their inherited inability to clap along with anything rhythmic. That's enough for us for now, thanks. Art is a little better, as James does his Draw Insects books, is getting comfortable with a sketch pad and pencil, and will draw just about anything, any time. John is now making smiley faces, and you know what- that's just fine! He only began doodling at all just last summer, and I have no need to push him. He'll come along with time and gentle consistency.

And then we're hungry again, so we fix lunch. This is usually a group endeavor. Our kitchen is approximately the size of a half-bath. It's always an adventure.

After lunch, I'll be honest, I'm usually pooped. I put Smidge down for a nap, read more with the boys, and then let them have popcorn and watch a movie. I know. That's why I didn't ask. I just do it. It's kind of nice, and I've learned to take this downtime to do the prep work for supper. I still have to make things up as I go, but at least I know what I've got and what needs to be diced or otherwise altered before throwing it in the One Big Pot.

You'll notice there's no formal science in our schedule. Science happens. We jump on it and explore it for all it's worth. Science happens in the kitchen, at supper, and outside. This week, for example, James wants to begin studying the Plant Kingdom. He's a little burnt out on the Animal Kingdom and all it entails. They learn taxonomy, identification, practice Latin, and learn about the world around them in the spirit of the Socratic method. Observations, empirical data, ethics, morals, instinct... these are the discussions we have. We read, read, read. I don't time our reading, but would venture to say that we read with the boys on average four or five hours per day. And we talk about what we've read. This is our science for now.

Afternoon time can be spent doing whatever comes to mind. Outside play, inside play, table crafts- this is the time for it, here. Good stuff.

Library trips are on Tuesdays. If you get into that groove, it's wonderful. Late fees diminish drastically. The boys actually read what they checked out when they know it goes back next week! We have not done weekly library trips for the past two months, and to be honest, it's made me grouchy. This part of the schedule needs to be revived, and will be once the weather is better and we have the Suburban again more regularly.

The boys take time out to play or read independently during the day. I take that extra time with the Smidge. We all take time together to play or wrestle, put on plays or make up stories. We aren't rigid in having a schedule, but rather have taken the long route to developing a "routine", one which is fluid, but predictable. That's paid off for us.

We tidy the house before Zorak comes home. That means a lot to him and makes him feel good. It's easy once it's habit.

And that's our schedule. It's not exciting, but it's ours and we love it. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, February 13

Homeschooling Stuff, Homes, & Life

First things first:
*Ahhhh, a printer!! Happy day!
*Ordered the student pages for SOTW (b/c I just hate having a half-full book from all the ripped out student pages. Yeah, I know. It's an indulgence, but hey, I splurged on $20 for our K-8 language arts curriculum, so I can afford to be a little superfluous occasionally, right? Ok, then. While I'm 'fessing up, I'll admit I bought The Mug, too. *grin*)
*AND I have one of the...

Wow, that last thought is just gone. Poof. It disappeared. Weird. Oh well, if I remember, I'll let you know.

If anybody hasn't read the comments under "Funny Day" for more bizarre house hunting anecdotes, go read them. They're hilarious. At this point, I'm so thankful there aren't 700 homes in our price range(and who'd have thought I'd say *that*, eh?) I mean, we would really like a home, but how many piles of stranger's dirty undies must we scale in order to find one? Maybe we just don't want it badly enough?

We are trying to formulate the right balance between "desperate" and "lookie-lou" with this owner. We don't want him to just sell the house to whomever happens to call him first on Tuesday when he gets the appraisal in his hot little hands- rule of sales is that you will do business with the last person you speak to. It works for sales, and it works for buying. Face time is important. However, Zorak said it would probably be going a wee bit overboard to take the boys over to play in the yard or to stand for hours on end with my nose pressed against the kitchen window. Something about psychosis and legal mumbo jumbo. I don't know. Hard to tell at this point.

We are going to have a great week with school, and are looking forward to getting things organized (I had no idea I was so "printer dependent"! Sheesh!) However, I can't tell you about it just yet... because I'm not organized. I will, however, post our schedule and general plans sometime this week.

It's official: we have a curse. It's The Virginia Curse. Every time we go to Virginia, something bad happens with the Suburban. Twice it's been the transmission. Yesterday, something began grinding and whining on the way back. ARGH. NOW what? See, this is what happens when you follow that silly regular maintenance schedule! Back when we changed the oil in our vehicles ever 8000-10000 miles, we didn't have nearly the trouble with them. But this one's been pampered and now it's spoiled and whiny! Anyhow, we're going to ignore it until the thing dies. Maybe next payday? Ah, well, no more trips to Virginia until the next pay raise, that's for sure. We've maxed out our vehicle maintenance/repair budget for the first half of '05.

Had a wonderful weekend enjoying the boys:

James asked some amazingly cohesive questions about cloning. Would a clone prefers what its source prefers? Would they be the same in temperment and philosophy? Is it okay to clone anything? Can you clone a Mom or Dad? Would you clone a child? I was exhausted by the time something else caught his attention. (And was tempted more than once to use Wonderful Neighbor's distraction technique of yelling, "LOOK! A polar bear!") We had a blast going to and from KinderChoir tonight. It's nice to have a little Mommy 'n James Time each week.

John got new books. He has only a few that are "his"- most were given to us when we had just James, or were joint gifts to both boys. He wanted to read one of "his" books the other day. We didn't have any he can read yet. And go figure -- we don't own the first few books listed in The Writing Road to Reading. *sigh* Wow, I feel dorky. SO, BJ's had a three-pack of Dr. Seuss books- two of which are at the top of the list for the "now you can read, kiddo" list. We bought them, and he sat on the couch, reading Ten Apples Up On Top to Zorak. Wow. Just... wow. He's growing up!

Smidge. What can I say? He's definitely his own little man. He threw a huge honkin' squirm fest in church today while we were up front, being welcomed to membership. You see, the M&M's were in the diaper bag, under my seat, and we were, well, not there amongst them. Thankfully, we didn't have to stand there for the two baptisms that followed, and I was able to trek my herd off the stage with only mid-level laughter from the congregation. He's currently bruised pretty much the entire circumference of his head- when you're one and you're tired, you bump into e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g between where you are and where Mom is. It's like living in a pinball machine. However, he has no concussion and wasn't too grouchy after the pinging process, and went to bed a happy little camper tonight.

That's about all I can remember right now. 'Nite!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, February 11

Funny Day

We left the house this morning at nine thirty and didn't see it again until three. The entire time was spent viewing homes. The boys are connoisseurs of back yards, that's for sure. Forget the house, what's out back?

We looked at four houses today. Two are do-able. One is exactly what I've had wild dreams about, but we won't know until next week what the owner wants for it (he's waiting on a recent appraisal). The fourth was not just no, but, yeah, you get the picture.

I'd like to share a few observations from today's adventure:

If you have to burn that much incense and that many cheap scented candles to try to cover the smell of pot... I don't want your house.

If you cannot see the water heater for all the clothes you have piled in there, it's time to declutter. (And you lose extra points if there's a measurable layer of dust on the clothing thrown in there!)

Yes, we can tell that you added that part on yourself. Lovely.

Black tar is not an aestethically pleasing means of patching holes in cream colored vinyl siding. It looks like a gastronomically deranged pterodactyl has straifed the side of your home. Don't do that.

"New Carpet" is not a selling point. We know you're charging a whole lot of extra money for the cheap carpet that we're just going to have to pull up anyway. $2.80 per square foot, installed, does not justify tacking on an additional $15 per square foot to the price of your 800 square foot home.

Um, that's not a "rambler", it's a trailer. There is a difference. If you dig, you will find wheels down there somewhere. Not that we mind, but let's just all be honest, shall we?

Numerous non-functioning vehicles: they don't add to curb appeal. At least let us know if you'll be removing them or if they're part of the landscaping.

When you're six and four and one, it's all about the yard, Baby!

So, on that note, I'm installing a new printer, praying for a pessimistic appraiser, and trying to figure out how a woman is supposed to look for a home without getting "emotionally involved".... (??)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 10

A Little Howdy

Hi all!

Well, today went wonderfully. The boys have kicked into high gear and seem to enjoy the new routine.

John is reading. I mean, actually reading! This week he's read the first six lessons in McGuffey's First Whateveritis, and today he asked if he could write the phonograms for review all on his own. Starting with "the ones I know first, Mama," he wrote them out, including a few of the two-letter phonemes! He had fun "teaching" me what they say, and then wrote his name all on his own. He was so proud of himself! He even ran downstairs to drag James away from his game time to show him! (Thankfully, James was gracious, excited, and so encouraging of John.)

James is now writing exclusively in cursive. He did his spelling words this week in cursive, and they're all legible! Wow. He says it's his favorite subject, and asked if tomorrow he can write some letters to the family in cursive. I felt a little bad for taking the accolades he gave me when I said yes. Honestly, what else would I have said? Still, you'd have thought I gave him an early birthday gift, and I currently enjoy Most Favored Mommy status with the Childhood UN.

The new schedule leaves extra time for me to savor each boy, and I'm sure enjoying that. With all three so active and inquisitive, I was spread thin. Thin means cranky, and that's not good for anyone. We'll talk about it tomorrow, but I think they will agree that we are on a good path, and that this is more fun than how we've been doing things.

Zorak needs a little extra mommy time, too, I think. He's working hard and staying busy, and although he gets out of the house each day, it's not like he gets to go play at the beach while he's gone. He can't really talk about work much since I could be a threat to national security, so I'll just refer to any project as "The Project," and call it good. You now know about as much as I do. Anyway, I think The Project has him a little tense, and not being able to sort it out in the evenings seems to be leaving him in an awkward spot- a little lonely spot, I think. So, since I'm not the brightest wife in the world (having just caught on to this), but I'm the only one he's got, I'm blogging now rather than tonight and am going to give him some extra attention tonight. We'll fix a fun supper for the boys and then when they're tucked in, I'm going to try to knit my way through a Quentin Tarantino movie. It's one of Zorak's favorites, and I just can't... quite... *sigh* But maybe if I knit when I don't want to look, I can get through it? We'll see. Ah, the things we do for love, and it's all worth it.

Have a wonderful evening, all! Enjoy those families, and as always,
Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 9

Day Two

Data Sheet Re: New Schedule
Progress: yes
Fatalities: none
Hope: rising
Whining: nominal
Fits: zero
Status: go

That about sums it up. The boys did so well today, and actually both did much better on their school work for having the undivided attention. That was handy.

John did math as an Opera. Since I don't sing well, it was obviously a parody. We had a blast, though, and did it all orally. He's really quite good with music and lyrics. I couldn't have pulled off the cadence the way he did (I always have to squish extra syllables together or draw a couple out to make things fit- he, somehow, doesn't.)

James was having a great day until he ran upstairs and climbed in the laundry basket while Jacob was napping. I guess that wouldn't have been so bad, except that something compelled him to make whooping noises (in the hopes we could try to find him, perhaps?) and, of course, that woke Jacob. ARGH. So tomorrow we institute quiet reading time during Jacob's naptime. And here I thought I was being such a cool mom by playing with them downstairs while Smidge napped. *sigh* You win some, you lose some.

The day ended up nicely, though. Zorak arrived home quite unexpectedly. Wait, that doesn't sound right - we expect him home. We just didn't realize it was already that time of day. So there was a lull in the activity around my feet for a bit- I took advantage of it to finish supper... that was niiiiiice.

I also nailed a new favorite supper for the boys, too. It's nothing fancy, but they both ate seconds, so I'll fix it any time they want! Pork chops, rice pasta w/ stewed tomatoes and Italian seasoning, applesauce, and sliced cucumber. Yum! Easy! Very little mess! Sounds like a winner all the way around. And when the weather is nicer, we can do the meat outside, which will be even less messy!

Zorak is out getting starting fluid right now. The Mistress needs some lovin's, but until she gets that, she's getting starting fluid. I dare not voice the thought, but could it be... (shhh, don't say anything until it's already happened!)

PearBudget- I'd mentioned that Charlie (of Peace Hill Press fame) created this budget tracker. Well, I've since actually unzipped it and filled in the little pear colored (hence the name? perhaps!) squares and while I haven't entered February's items in yet, I can say that the flow is great, it's easy to follow. He uses Zorak's favorite little red boxes in the corner (you hover your mouse over one of those and get a great little pop-up hand-holding session!) I think this is going to work. It's going to take me a couple of months to get a feel for where our finances actually are, and then from there I will tweak the budget so that it balances like a double jointed acrobat! Check it out at the PearBudget Blog. Download it. Try it. And be sure to read the introduction and notes from Charlie.

And now, since it's fairly early (been getting sleep lately - that stuff is better than caffeine! Who knew! *wink*), I'm going to treat myself to catching up on blog reading and visiting my favorite boards. Have a wonderful day tomorrow.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, February 8

A New Schedule

I don't know what I was thinking!

Well, I do. I was thinking, "Gee, this might be fun." Evidently, I was thinking the sort of fun you get by pulling splinters from your eyelid and trying to move a waterbed by yourself. BUT, whatever my reasoning, I changed our daily lessons schedule around today. (Can you tell it went well?)

The brainstorm I had seemed simple: install the educational software we own onto the computer (novel already, isn't it?) and then (perhaps) allow the boys to use it for set periods of time during lessons (thus allowing one-on-one time for Mom to study with each child). It sounded like such a great idea! Why didn't it go well, then?

Well, let's recap, shall we? Child one is six and needs more advanced software than we currently have available. OK. We can fix that. Child two is four. 'Nuff said. Change? Bad. Within Reason? Evil phrase. Limits? All about the total imersion factor. I cannot even begin to touch the Toddler Effect on this whole process, but if you have a vivid imagination and read plenty of Erma Bombeck, I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.

So, we stepped back ~ a little too late in the day to salvage it, but early enough to prevent it from bleeding over into tomorrow. (I hope.) We talked about the changes to our schedule and the ideas Mommy had. Potential benefits, the newness of a change in routine, etc. I asked the boys to work with me on this new schedule for one week. At the end of the week we will all sit down and talk about it. I asked them to think about what they like, what they don't (keeping in mind that I'm not going to give them each eight hours a day of computer time and all the ice cream they can stand- house rules will still apply for the health and general sanity of all involved), and whether they would like to make changes at the end of that week, or if they would like to keep the current schedule.

We shall see what tomorrow holds.

Kiss those babies!

The Inquisition

Well, it's over. I didn't give anybody a heart attack and was on my best behavior. Oh, no, wait, I think I made some nice lady cry. But it wasn't intentional. She's just had a baby and she's all weepy already, so it's not like it took much to just plunk her right over the edge. SO, aside from making hormonal women cry, I didn't make any cracks about church history, and I was very, erm, upfront on the rest of the stuff.

One of the things the Session guys asked for was my "Testimony". Now, I'll be honest, that word makes me twitchy. For 20 years, my "testimony" was static: "I asked the Lord into my heart in Mrs. Herashap's K-5 class." Short, sweet, and theologically WAYYYYY off base. But who knew?

Fast forward to a few years back and the dawning understanding that our testimony is fluid. It changes as we change, it gets added to and made more intricate (or at least more interesting) with every passing year. I realized that Jesus has been with me this whole time. Yes, when my sister died; when my father(s) died (pick one, there were several, all passed away); when tragedy has struck us and when we've run headlong into tragedy of our own making. God was with me when we lost this baby, and yes, even twelve years ago when I wasn't walking anywhere near God's path (you just can't get a good tequila there, ya know) and the days I spent walking the earth (you know, like Cain, only I hadn't killed anybody and didn't have a tattoo).

Those experiences, from the ones of my youth over which I had no say, to the ones of my boy-I-wish-I-could-claim-that-was-my-youth, have all been used to allow me to serve God in later days, current days, and probably (hopefully) will continue to do so for the future. There was no one specific time that Christ suddenly started "looking out for me as one of His flock". There has been a flowing, continuous relationship there, beginning with when I was formed, increasing in depth and awareness of, or willingness to admit to, His reign over my life, and my (swallow hard, now) submission to His will. (Does anyone remember when I realized I had to stop praying, "God send us to Idaho!" and start praying, "God, send us where you need us to be... and make me OK with it!").

But not at any one point can I say I had it together enough to look around me and say, "Oh, no, this is far too decadent and pleasurable. Let's try for a more stoic approach to living." Nah. Didn't happen. Wouldn't happen on my own, and yet here we are- not only doing what we're called to do, but finding joy in it! Praise the Lord!! (and, ya know, I just can't say that w/o singing in a small, wee voice, "hallelujah!", but that's probably just me...)

But what kind of a testimony is that? As I opened my mouth to speak, I could just see the music guy passing out and the associate pastor slipping under the table out of embarrassment. But surprisingly, no. Nobody even got the vapors or needed a glass of water. *whew* I'm still not 100% certain what a certified "Testimony" is, and I won't ever have a "The Day I Got Saved" card in my wallet, but evidently I didn't completely blow it. Nobody yelled, "She's an armenianist spy! Get her!"

So, uh, well, we're members now. We're accountable, and we're pretty happy. Although John was mad that I hadn't taken him with me and said that he "would have enjoyed the long, boring meeting. Honest."

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 7

It's Finally Happened!

John is thoroughly engrossed in Huckleberry Finn!! Oh, I cannot tell you how exciting this is. He cried when Zorak said it was time for bed and they'd have to cut storytime short (James was squirrelly and Jacob was snuffling about for a blanket to bring down to me, so it was quite distracting for everyone).

Zorak brought me the Smidge and explained what happened. "I'm going back up to read more to him," he said, with a smile. I am so thankful that Zorak understands what a wonderful thing this is for John, too. What a cool family.


Mea culpa?

A few years back, when we started homeschooling using The Well-Trained Mind approach, a friend warned me that kids will be kids and even if it's Latin, you've got to keep an eye on them. Yeah, ok, thanks for the head's up. (And I promptly forgot that part.)

Last week, we were in the car when I heard from the back seat a little squeak, followed by some giggles and John's giggly voice, "Mea farto!" The riotous laughter that ensued from the backseat was priceless.

Today, during Latin, James asked, "Since Latin nouns usually end in 'a', wouldn't it be 'mea farta'?" Most of our lesson was on mea/tua and the applications of words that can be both nouns and verbs. And there, ladies and gentlemen, you have a great study of Latin, as it applies when you are six and four.

I love our life.


Things are going well here, in general. We're about due for a restructuring of "how things are done", as it's just plain time for one. This will be good. I've downloaded PearBudget, which the highly esteemed Charlie from Peace Hill Press created. I can't wait to play with it!!

I'd like to track our spending and just make sure the ship is as tight as it can be, that resources are being siphoned off in the right places. While we're doing well and are happy with how we've handled things, I don't think it ever hurts to audit yourself now and again, just to be sure.


Tomorrow night I go in for the Inquisition at church. OK, it's just the Communicant Interviews to transfer membership to the church we've been attending. I look forward to the stability of it, the accountability of it, and to knowing that no matter what the plans are for our stay, we will have a church home. This step will be good.

We really like the congregation and the ministry, but I have to say they have no sense of humor! Pastor was trying fervently to allay my "fears" (or what fears he seemed to think I have about this process -- I guess he doesn't realize yet that I'm not one of those slated to inherit the earth) by explaining that the Session members who oversee the Interviews are all gentle, kind, Godly men. I said, "Oh, that's good. So they don't break out the red robes for this, then?" Silence. Stone cold silence. Finally, a somewhat unsettled, "Um, no."

Well, Zorak thought it was funny.


Have a lovely week, and kiss those babies!

Saturday, February 5

Weekend Blog

Gosh, sorry I've been so quiet. Lots going on, but not much I can blog about. Makes for an interesting life, but a frighteningly dull bloglife. Hmm. Some weeks are just like that, I suppose.

OK, O'Brian fans, WHY didn't anyone give me a head's up about The Surgeon's Mate? Hmmm? Yeah, I spent the ENTIRE book suspecting Jagiello of something untoward... Anyhow, finished that one last week and The Ionian Mission over the weekend, so now it's time to get back to the library for the next two. These are so much fun.

The house has been in a bit of an uproar lately.
Mostly it's me.
And my need to move things around.
In a house with a floor plan that pretty much allows for only one setup.

Found a home today for some fabric I'll never use in a gazillion years. It feels quite good not only to no longer need to find a place to hide it, but to know that we won't be moving it with us again when we move. Someday. If the good Lord's willing. And that creek thing, too.

K, math is done, house is great, weather today was gorgeous so I hung clothes on the line. Unfortunately, it just dawned on me that I don't know if I brought it all in or not. I better check.

Have a wonderful weekend! And if you travel this weekend, be safe.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 3

Security and Stuff

Well, I'd planned a thorough blogrun and a fun little update tonight, but I've been installing security updates on our computer for the last three and a half hours! So much for a leisurely evening catching up with friends. We are, however, now ensconsed in an armadillo-like armor, from which I may never surface.

There's snow on the ground, and it's beautiful! When the boys saw it coming down this afternoon, John yelled, "It's SNOWING!" James said, "And you know what snow means? It means ICE!" Uhhh, well, yeah, here, I suppose it does. They cannot wait for the snow to ice over so they can break out the hammers again. Zorak said he saw pictures of the snow in Boston- YIKES!! I'm glad to say, sometimes it's nice to be snugged against the bay like this. We've had nothing of the sort here- just a dusting and some ice. *whew* Stay safe up North, guys!!

I will have to tell you about about Wonderful Gram in the morning. Right now, however, I have a video I need to format and send to her- wanted to send it before supper, but the first one we made was almost entirely black and you couldn't see a thing. So we redid it after supper and I'd like to get that off to her before bed.

Enjoy a lovely Friday, and as always,
Kiss those babies!!

Wednesday, February 2

What Happened To Your Hair?

James awoke this morning and there was something... well, wrong, with his head. It was his hair, specifically. You see, normally, his hair looks like this (only not green- I don't know what I did wrong with the photo editing- he isn't this hue, really- but this photo is for the texture and lay of the hair, so look at that part):

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See how nicely it all behaves?

But this morning, he had a fuzzy patch on it, right near the top. It was sort of felted and frizzed. It felt like carpet- like old, shag carpet. The rest of his hair didn't do this, just this one little island of fur that developed atop his head. It looks like this (he's not mad in this photo- he's trying to see his hair and also make his regularly scheduled silly photo face- the exertion did him in and we ended up with this expression):

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Do you see the tuft at the top? It's a good half inch high!

Can you tell what happened?

It took me most of the day to finally piece together enough information to make a stunning Sherlock Holmes style discovery.

He was trying to make static electricity last night by rubbing his flannel sheet on his head!! I'm guessing he made quite a lot of electricity, but if he keeps this up he'll have dreds before he's seven! It's time to just give in and build a science lab somewhere in the house, I think.

Kiss those babies!

Sweet Bedtimes

Our routines have changes as we've added each child, adjusted to meet the needs (and dynamics) of a growing family (not to mention the switch to zone defense of the escape routes once we were officially outnumbered and could no longer do the man on man defense!)

Some of it has stayed pretty much the same, though, and the general routine for bedtime is simple: bath, jammies, wrestle time, story time. Then to bed for eleven minutes of reading (Zorak just combined the older boys' ages and let that be the "official time", although we'll be in trouble when James actually has a clock in his room and realizes we often let them go longer, or that we cut it short if they're squirrelling and not reading!) So when the boys are in bed and reading, the Smidge comes downstairs for his quiet time. I love this time of night. Zorak sets him down and Smidge comes running (Muppet style- arms flailing) down the hallway to me.

Normally I'd pick him up and go snuggle on the couch, but lately he has his own process. He finds a blanket and brings it to me, setting it on my lap and talking animatedly the whole time. He then leads the way to the couch and pats the couch, indicating I need to spread out the blanket. When it's ready for him, he turns around and backs up to me to pick him up, all the while doing a happy little arm-flapping dance. I set him on the blanket and bundle him up with his little arms held high and waving back and forth, his whole body trembling in anticipation. As soon as the corner is tucked, he closes his eyes and lets out a deep little sigh.

We still snuggle a bit before he goes to his bed, and he still nurses regularly, both of which I am thankful for. These little ones move on to independence so quickly, and I have no desire to rush any of them out of the nest. I love this time with them, and I love knowing that they're content and safe- and that they know they're safe and loved.

Sweet Bedtimes are one of my favorite parts of the day.

And now, we are off to stock the pantry and enjoy this glorious (read: above freezing) day!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, February 1

Deep Blogs - This Isn't One

Blogs are great in that they aren't static. A blog flows and changes along with its owner (master? blogger?) If you read a regular blogger long enough, you do get a good sense of that person's general personality, quirks, and joys. The picture won't ever be wholly accurate, nor necessarily concise, but odds are you'll get a good overall picture. (Like those aerial shots of towns that were so popular in the late 50's- you can, if you look at it long enough, find your favorite spots in town on them, but they may be a little fuzzy.)

Anyhow, this time of year seems to be a natural time for blogs to start running deep. Theology, ideology, obfuscatology*, it just goes on and on. Entries get longer, sentences more complex, and suddenly you find yourself thinking, "Should I be taking notes? Will there be a quiz later?" (Or, if you weren't publikly skoold, you'll take notes whether there's a quiz or not, but I, graduate of the Public School System, just wanna know if it's going to be on the test or not, alright?)

I'll admit this phenomena leaves me a bit intimidated. I haven't the fortitude to blog that deeply in the winter. I haven't the attention span to keep deep, thorough thoughts adrift long enough to get them all in the boat. Also, I just can't leave many comments this time of year. I left one for TulipGirl the other day and after hitting "post," I realized it was well past time to go to bed.

This time of year, if you're looking for thought-provoking posts, I fear this isn't the place. So, rather than allowing myself to not-blog out of a bashful awareness that I haven't much in that realm to blog about, I intend to continue on blogging about silly things and daily things, and I hope that you'll forgive me for not following the unofficial blog-calendar. :-)

Kiss those babies!

*Yes, I made that one up, but wouldn't it be a fun field of study?

Will garlic work on MLM folks, or just vampires?

Sometimes I just have to shake my head.

I have a dear friend who wandered into MLM (multi-level marketing) programs a few years back. It's been good for her in many ways: she's become amazingly optimistic, her vocabulary has increased, and she has learned to think "outside the box".

Sadly, some of this translates into not so positive points, as well: she can't admit when her schemes are falling stunningly short of success and a five-year plan that's ten years overdue is still her holy grail; I swear if she uses the word "paradigm" one. more. time. ARGH; box? What box? What rules of socialization? No doesn't mean "no". It means "rephrase it and try again, and again and again."

It's funny to see someone I've known for so long get sucked under what I consider to be the intellectual bus, but there's really no broaching the subject with her. And, to be honest, she is happy doing this, so there's no point in trying to talk her out of it. The friends she hasn't run off with her constant sales pitch are now happily selling under her, so hey, whatever works, right?

But sometimes, like I said, I just have to shake my head...

Kiss those babies!

Quick Morning Coffee

Hi guys! The boys are taking a quick break and so I thought I would, too.

It's Tuesday (Tuesday? Yes, I think that's right.) There will be no house for auction on Thursday. The sale has been cancelled for this particular house, and while I'm sad that our plans for that house have been squashed, I'm also glad to know that another family was able to stave it off. I'm sure they are relieved, too. I do think, however, that I'm just not going to say anything until we return from the closing table on whatever house comes through. Far too many ups and downs, twists and turns. Makes me irritable and somewhat meanspirited, which neither you nor the boys need to put up with. :-)

Hey, for you knitters out there- Is there such a thing as "Knitter's Thumb", or am I just doing something terribly wrong? The scarf is looking quite recognizeable, though. And, while I'm begging for advice, is it possible to yarn over without realizing it? I'm not sure how it's happening, but every tenth row or so I find an extra stitch in there- just loose, but definitely "there" and I have to decrease. I can't figure out when it's happening, though, and it's driving me batty!

The boys are enjoying a short break before we start our next lessons- James is reading Junie B. Jones (which he says isn't bad, although she doesn't like broccoli, which he finds a little strange), and John is oohing over a Mindware catalog, begging for new puzzles. (Sorry, kiddo, but we're going to have to do more culling before we allow anything new into the house!) Smidge found James' bowl of peanut butter and chocolate chip oatmeal. ('Nuff said.)

In the mornings, before the day's activity begins, I've been reading Breaking Free by Beth Moore and completing the discussion with a group of online ladies. I seem to have doctrinal disagreements on nearly every page, but there are some good nuggets worth harvesting from it. The group is nice, although some are terribly quiet. I hope the discussion picks up soon- there's so much to be gleaned from one another, and that's what makes a study (online or in real life) so much fun.

Also reading The Surgeon's Mate, which is, as always, wonderful fiction for my quiet little nook. Hey- do you have a picture of your favorite spot to read? Maybe we should get Donna to do one of those now that everybody but, er, one nameless person, has showed their desks!

I'm going to go supervise the Latin practice before they start making up their own verbs and things go horribly awry. We don't want to leave Zorak out of the picture, either, so we'll save the word inventing for supper.

Kiss those babies!