Thursday, March 31

The Upswing of the Cycle

I know that life is cyclical, as are emotions, hormones, and circumstances. I am also well aware that these factors impact how well everyone in a specific environment will mesh. When I think of the five very distinct personalities in our home, I'm often amazed that there's as much peace as there is.

So when it comes, I cherish it. When it comes in wave after wave, as it has lately, I just let it wash over me and coat me in a protective layer of joy to keep with me on the ebbing of the tide.

We ran errands and then took a walk through the woods. The boys protected me from "Wild Beasts". Granted, I could see one building just ahead and the building from which we'd left, looming behind us, but that didn't matter to them. No, sir, this is prime Wild Beast territory! Just ask the boys. (They did a fine job and we returned unscathed! My Heroes!)

We bought sketch pads for the boys today at Bay Books. I can't afford to shop there often, but try to shop there when I can, simply because the folks there are wonderful. They're nice to my kids, and they'll order things for us without making me cough up a kidney as a deposit. They aren't a chain, and while I do think chains and franchises are wonderful things, I also like the local shops. I don't mind paying more at a local shop when it provides the service, attention, and personalized care for which it is supposed to be superior to the larger stores. It's seldom that I find such service, but when I do, I return as often as I can. At Bay Books, it's worth the extra money. We bought a few bookplates for the scads of books we picked up at the library sale (85 at last count, and it's driving James nutty wondering which library books are ours and which need to go back, hence, the bookplates), and a couple of Dover Thrift books (because there's just no excuse for passing up an unabridged version of something wonderful for under $4!)

We played and read, we snuggled and talked. We enjoyed a splendid lunch together at Taco Bell (I love our Taco Bell! Not only is it the only decent Mexican food in the county, but they'll make the Mexican Pizza out of corn tortillas for John. I love them!)

Now, I had a very pastoral, 1950's style homecoming prepared for Zorak. He's been slaying dragons all day, and I've been, well, wallowing in my wonderful, incredible life. So, fresh coffee brewed and ready? Check. Mutton roasting in the oven long enough to make the house smell yummy? Check! House tidy and welcoming? Check. Clean undies folded and put away? Check. The boys were playing out back, in the mud, and I had just planned to bring them in, wash them, put them in soft, fuzzy sweats and be snuggled on the couch, reading them something exciting when he arrived. Check? Uh, no.

Not even close.

When he got home, John was running about upstairs, partially ready for a bath. James was covered head-to-toe (including his head under the hood of his sweatshirt) in mud and clay, trying to undress inside on the white carpet. I was nudging him back with my knee, wrangling a large pile of mud off of the baby. The baby was screaming violently, and had gone Vietnam-protestor-limp. He did not want to come in yet. I had no idea Zorak was due home just then, and was laughing myself silly trying to get the situation sorted out. (It was, really, quite funny. You know, in a "had to be there" kind of way.) When what do you know, the door opens and there is my Dragon-Slayer. *sigh*

It was another 15 minutes before we could get enough mud out of the way to reach one another for a welcome home kiss. Poor guy. But at least the house smelled yummy!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 30

Depressing Book, Great Read

The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch. I know there are perhaps ten other people out there who haven't yet read this book. You must rectify that situation shortly. This book is well-written, and while she does have a certain personal bias which comes through, it's faint. She does a very good job of showing how both sides of the political spectrum have sacrificed our children's educational quality in a wrestling match for control of the children's minds. Egads. What a scary bit of knowledge.

Read, read, read. Whether you like it. Or agree with it. Or enjoy it. Or not. Read all you can and infuse your mind with all the knowledge you can possibly absorb. Then start the process of sorting and sifting, of making judgements and mulling over. Then, since you'll have more room (and an ever-improving filing system) read some more!

Don't let the world of learning become a lethargic exercize in uselessness in your home, or for your children!

And while you're reading to those babies, give 'em kisses!

Divers, the adjective

The unseen dangers of reading "too much"...

You know you're reading far too much historical fiction and biography, circa 1800's, when you automatically say, "diverse" when you read "divers".


*Note: as if there's such a thing as reading "too much"!

Tuesday, March 29

Happy Easter!

Well, it's difficult to get good pictures of my children. Most are taken as the children fly past us, always in motion. To be honest, most look like this:

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We can, on occasion (thanks to the agility of highspeed photography!) catch one like this:

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When we herd them together and cause them to be still, their constant activity is still evident in their creative poses...

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Or when something else catches their attention...

James is trying his best not to make a silly face in this picture, and Jacob has learned to say "cheese". As you can see, it's a very Elvis-like smile.

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And this is, perhaps, my favorite picture of the weekend. Did anyone see The War of the Buttons? This picture just screams Little Irish Lad, to me. I love it.

So, until we can get the glitches figured out, these are the only pictures we have. The rest, between the red rimmed eyes and the green skin, look like stills from B-grade horror flicks.

Happy Easter! And thank you for sharing it, both by coming here and letting me share our family, and by sharing yours, too.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 28

How do y'all do it?

Everyone had lovely, wonderful Easter pictures posted on their blogs! They are such fun to see! But, but, y'all did this LAST NIGHT. As in THE SAME DAY.


I get excited if I can get photos edited and uploaded before the boys have outgrown the outfits they wore in the pictures!

Wow, well, there's the goal for today- I'll try to get pictures uploaded. I owe Em and Melissa some, too, you know, from a month ago. *cringe* Sorry 'bout that. And in the meantime, thanks so much for sharing your families with all your invisible friends. It's such fun!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, March 26

Truly Lovely

My brother, having survived some harrowing experiences in the military, holds to the belief that "any day above ground is a good one". While that's a little on the morbid side for me (of course, I haven't eaten the things he's eaten just to stay alive, either, so "morbid" is, I know, wholly subjective, here), I'd agree.

Some days, though, are truly lovely. Their feel is different, richer, deeper, more vibrant, than other days. They are days that leave a delicate shade of difference on your heart and on your soul.

Today was one of those days. I've typed and re-typed, trying to wrap my mind around the day so I can share it with you, but my meager vocabulary fails me tonight. The boys were so thoroughly enjoyable. Zorak was so very "in" the day, with us, near us. I felt the tangible expression today of all I feel for my family every day, and it was a powerful, comforting day.

The HOA Easter Egg hunt was a stunning success. There were, perhaps, a dozen children. As the children gathered in the commons, one little girl noticed that the boys had Easter grass. She said, quietly, and not to anyone in particular, "I don't have grass." Without prompting from us, John pulled out a handful of his grass to give to her. He looked at us. Zorak and I smiled and nodded. "Here," he said quietly, as he gently laid some grass in her basket. Such a generous heart he has! We were both so warmed by this. During the hunt, John found perhaps six eggs. He wasn't firing on all four cylinders (translation: needed a nap), and wasn't terribly focused. Can't say it wasn't for effort, though. That kid ran around like a madman, running right past countless eggs, but very caught up in the whole running aspect of it. When all the eggs has been found, and his basket was so very empty compared to the other children, we cringed in anticipation of the meltdown we knew would come. never came! He took it all in stride, congratulated the other children on finding so many eggs, and then (as if he was trying to make me cry), he offered to share his eggs with the adults once he heard the Easter Bunny doesn't bring baskets for grown-ups. Now, don't think that, at four (and a half!), he has this kind of self-restraint all the time. He doesn't. At 31 (erm, and a half...), I don't, either. But he's learning grace and fellowship and joy. Wow. Talk about humbling.

James got to be "the big kid" today, which is new for him. He is generally among the younger of the group. He voluntarily joined John in sharing his grass with the little girl, and he encouraged the little guys as they went around in circles, laughing. As we watched him help John look for eggs and direct the littlun's to the eggs down low, Zorak and I realized (well, were reminded, is a better expression) that James is just a Very Neat Kid. He laid a few of his own eggs into John's basket ~ a sweet, quiet moment when they thought the adults weren't looking. He's six and squirrelly as can be, yes, but he has a heart the size of Texas and possibly the surrounding Territories, as well. It's vulnerable, and gets bruised quite easily, but he doesn't let that stop him from caring and helping. He's teaching us a lot as we go along.

And Smidge? Smidge just had a beautiful day. First, he got a basket to carry around and swing about. WOOHOO, FUN STUFF! Then we put plastic strings in it! OH JOY! But, look! What's this? What are these colorful things on the ground? Ooo, put them in the stringy basket! This is GREAT, GUYS! But wait! There's more! They rattle! ~ OMGosh, they OPEN! At this point, we became concerned that he'd have a seizure or possibly an aneurysm. I don't think we've ever seen him so enthralled with a process.

Tomorrow, along with many other families around the world, we will gather together to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. The boys look forward to tomorrow with the same excitement that they enjoyed today. We'll spend time with our wonderful congregation and then retire home for a Mediterranean-style feast and a time of sharing our blessings and our hopes for tomorrow. It will be a time well spent.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 25

Because They Dared Ask,

"What if..."

What a wonderful gift to the world that there have always been men and women standing at the ready, unconcerned about looking the fool, or the eccentric, willing to ask, "What if...?"

We pushed back bathtime tonight for that very reason, and had one whompin' great discussion with the boys. It was about many things: the value of being willing to follow your questions, the importance of being able to keep going, the strength in adaptability and the willingness to accept new evidence, the fantasies of yesterday which are the truths of today, and what tomorrow may hold for them. In short, it was about the wonderful world possible as long as the next generation is willing to take stock of what we know and then ask, loud and clear, "What if...?"

It all started with a discussion of Absolute Zero (guess who started that one!), which brought us into the model aspect of mathematics, language, fish, The Universe, and Everything. The main point tonight centered on the mind - as encompassed by curiosity, ability, motivation, and imagination - and how it reaches farther than the boundaries of the physical world allow. Or, as James paraphrased, "Our brains can think of going places beyond our Playplace in the Universe." Yup.

On to pattern recognition, theories, proofs and suddenly (as everyone with a child who is six or four knows), you're landing on Mars, curing diseases, and saving the world - one splendid idea at a time. The boys headed up the stairs, trying to figure ways to get oxygen to Mars and convert methane to a fuel vehicles can run on. They're jazzed. It's all possible, and they could do it.

Our children can do anything. They can make a difference, and we try to keep positive ideals and noble goals in front of them. If you read the news, or listen to the talking heads, you're going to get a dreary picture of the future. If you talk to your children, you can help shape that future. The news is much more encouraging on that front. And you know, the more wonderful families I come in contact with, the more convinced I am that we aren't far from the norm. Don't let naysayers make you feel elitist or inadequate. Just smile and say, "What if...?"

Kiss those babies!

Good Friday Morning!

A little morning blog just because I'm feeling particularly motivated. (lucky you, eh?)

What are you reading these days? James has decided he'd rather not tell me about what he's reading, as he thinks that'll discourage me from reading the book myself. Hmmm. OK. Well, Kiddo, this is going to call for drastic measures... so I have to completely mangle the story as I narrate to him, leaving him in stitches and correcting all my bizarre inventions. It is, really, a great way to see if your child grasped what he read. (It's also just a lot of fun!)

If we can find some Mommy 'n James time, I'd like to start reading The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff, together. It's not quite on a level where John would enjoy it so much, but I do think James would enjoy it tremendously if we read it together, the way we read The Hobbit. The difficult part is finding time alone to read together. Who'd have thought that would be one of the big "issues" in a home?

Seriously, it is. I don't know about you guys, but there's no way I'm going to tell any child that he can't read with us, can't be a part of that effervescent magic that comes of reading together on quiet nights. I'm not going to deny him the mystery of pure imagination as it comes to life on each page. Just not gonna happen. Literature is too precious a gift to refuse to someone on the premise that he "might not get it". If he enjoys it and craves it, then he'll benefit from it, even if it goes straight over his head. The time spent together, sharing something delicious is a worthy endeavor. So, if John wants to read with us, then naturally, we'll do it together. But I do need to find a way to make room for that equally magical "one on one" time that James, in particular, craves with all he has.

Today's our day off, but seeing that we all have a pretty nasty dose of cabin fever and no transportation, I think we may do light lessons, just to offer up a little routine to the day. Like an extra day of math is going to kill 'em, anyway, right? Then maybe a walk out back to look for nests. We'll bake a little banana rice bread later on this morning and hopefully Zorak will bring us the Suburban at lunch so we can head over the Big, Scary Bridge to do some shopping and go stare at the otters.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, March 24

Commenting Woes

Hey all, just a quick note from the editorial staff, here- I've received quite a few emails conveying the message that you can't leave comments. And when Kim can comment, she's usually just so excited that all she can say is, "It worked! Hi!" It seems silly to ask you to leave a comment asking what specific problem you're running into, doesn't it?

According to Blogger's stuff we should read but never do because it doesn't dawn on us to do so page, they're doing a lot of work on their servers (increasing number, size, efficiency, and a few other computer-related terms that meant nada to me). They'll be down tonight, so we'll see if tomorrow looks better for comments.

If not, then I'm thinking I'll set up an email feature on the blog somewhere.

On the plus side, for those who have my email and have taken the time to drop me a note and let me know you're having trouble posting comments, Thank You! I'd begun thinking everyone had stopped talking to me. (Which, yeah, I know is possible. I'm just glad that wasn't the case.)

Kiss those babies!

Applied Physics

Science Nerd-dom has taken over my home. *sigh*

I'd like to blame Bill Nye. But I can't. I married an engineer. He comes from a whole nest of science-oriented souls. It's ingrained. There is nowhere to hide.

It seems our next project will be rockets. Homemade, of course, and if the amount of research Zorak has done just to determine the best release to use is any indication of the, well, the mess we're going to have when this is over, it's going to be a lot of fun. And, thanks to Zorak, I don't think anybody will put an eye out with this thing, either!


Kiss those babies and clear the launch area!

I forget about Wednesdays

Our weekly schedule doesn't allow for much differentiation, and it's common to find that the days sometimes blend. (That's a much better way of saying, "I seldom know what day it is.")

Wednesday nights are just killing me. We joined a Wed. night Bible study. Um, a month ago? (I don't know, Zorak signed us up. The poor guy thought it was a one-time get-together and thought he'd be gettin' surf 'n turf points by volunteering us to go, I think. At any rate, we're in for a 13 week study of Psalms, now.) And it's on Wednesdays. Once we got the child-care ironed out (and that's working well, now that the boys know they can come to me and the adults know my children can come to me!), it's been such a great experience.

Still, I forget when it's Wednesday. It looks surprisingly like Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's been so long since we've had a regular Wed. night activity, as well. Last night, we had an early supper, snuggled in to enjoy popcorn and a family movie, when I realized "ACK! We have to be at the T's house in ten minutes!" The chaos that ensued would have done Barnum (or at least Bailey) proud. The only thing missing was the small car (thankfully!) We made it. It was great. Even Zorak enjoyed himself and the company.

Wouldn't you know this week would be cold and wet? So, of course, the Mistress is parked on the porch, and Zorak has the Suburban, so we're stuck. We desperately need fruit, and I'm out of creamer. It's going to be a long, long day. *sigh* Maybe we'll see a robin this morning, though, and that's always exciting!

I'll talk to you later, when I've had some coffee.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 23

D*oh! Read the jacket cover... first!

So, I picked up The Hiram Key, thinking it was... I don't remember, anymore. I think I thought it was something to do with the Knights Templar (though don't ask me why I thought that- those words do not appear anywhere on the cover!) Turns out to be a couple of Master Masons who hooked up, travelled the world, and have managed, using their razor sharp Hardy Boys detective skills, to piece together all manner of astounding connections that hundreds of scholars, over thousands of years, have been too dull-witted (or dirty, as implied in the book) to ever notice.

Ah, yes, the esoteric diamond of Truth shining in the bleak and filthy mire of...


Yep, folks, over a third of the way into the book and it's nothing but a poorly laid out attack on Christianity. That's. About. It. The logic flaws have had me literally laughing out loud (at one point, spewing coffee all over the couch). I will give The Hiram Key a nod in that, as fiction, it's a better read than The DaVinci Code. As non-fiction, though, it smacks of agendaagendaagenda.

All humor aside, it is sad to know we've sunk to such a poor grasp of logic. That some folks have read this book and have not noticed the blatant fictionalization of most of it, from white glossings-over, to allout "where'd you get that", makes me a titch uneasy. From the claim that "color, race, creed or politics have always been irrelevant to membership" in The Lodge (riiiiiight), to the lack of sources to back up comments, such as, "it's a proven fact that *insert bizarre connection here*" (this thing goes pages w/o a single footnote, particularly when they're revving up on the soapbox), it's clear that the authors have somewhere to go and they intend to drag the reader, kicking, screaming, and asking unanswered questions, with them. One of my personal favorites has been the oh-so critical eye for detail and deep understanding of the original entymology of every. single. word. in the Bible (and, naturally, being big on esoteric knowledge, nothing is what it seems, at least not in the Bible) that suddenly develops astigmatic symptoms when "delving" and "researching" the "facts" on... just about every other religious group known to the history of man. (Sure, a rough translation is perfectly useful and without need of examination. Apples to oranges will always give you fruit salad, and that goes down far easier than the facts.)


I know The Lodge is not a Christian organization. OK. Fine. It doesn't claim to be, and I knew that when I picked up the book. I'll admit it, I'm a huge KT fan, though. And there is a lot of history to be learned. (And this book does touch on the history of the KT, in so much as it's trying to make connections. Some actually exist, some, eh, I'm not ready to return to grad school just yet to figure out where the truth leaves off.) So far, this book has gone so deeply over the edge on so many specific occasions that it's blown any and all credibility it may have had at first.

And no, for the record, the photos of the sacred garments didn't convince me that the authors are necessarily bright, or honest, or above board. Please. Anyone who grew up in The Lodge has, at one point or another, witnessed a number of "secret" things when the grown ups have had just a few too many drinks. Plus, with the exception of the "secret work" of the Order, it's all on record with the Library of Congress. Way to break new ground, guys!

On the postivie side, The Hiram Key does provide a nifty timeline by which you can follow their journey, some lovely maps of the Sumerian region, and 16 pages of B&W photos. Some of the claims are truly interesting and feasible, but they're buried in leaps of faith of such huge proportion that nobody seems to have seen except the authors and, perhaps, their editorial team.

So, the moral of this story: read the jacket cover before you check out the book!

Kiss those babies!

Well Worth It

So it is now nearly three AM. I just rebooted the computer (because we couldn't just update and go, now, could we?)

You must listen to Snell's Law Song. It's great!

See the link in the entry below, if you don't already have the page bookmarked.

Seriously, even if you need to update your music-like software,

even if you have to figure out how to get your speakers to work,

even if you have dial-up.

It's worth it.

OK, tomorrow's going to be a little more difficult to enjoy, due to the lack of sleep, but that's what naps are for, right?

Kiss those babies!

General... Stuff

Do you think I need to start being good now to get high-speed internet access for Christmas? Hey, does Huntsville has high-speed internet access? I may still be downloading the update for "Real Player (registered trademark here) with Harmony Technology (no trademark here - go figure)" by the time we get there. And, you know, I'm feeling particularly whiny about it at the moment! Someone posted a great link to physics songs, which, honestly, how can you resist checking that out? So, we did, and Zorak (while not as enthusiastic as I expected him to be, *snort*) picked a song to listen to, but the aforementioned Real Player needed to be updated and... well, he gave up half an hour ago and went to bed. Curse this slow connection!!

We had so much fun today. We played all the songs from Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang! and danced in the living room. I. am. out. of. shape. (And Dick Van Dyke's physical agility blows me away!) We need to buy the soundtrack, because it takes a long, long time to dance to the songs using the menu feature on the DVD. The boys loved it, though (and it did give me a chance to gasp and rest my quivering limbs between songs).

It was a laid-back, Classical day. Typical around here, really. We did our Latin, then blew bubbles in the back yard. We did math, then played in the mud. We worked in the rest of our work throughout the day. Smidge is either sick or teething. The result is the same: he's covered in snot and miserable. The boys were wonderfully tender toward him and only knocked him over twice while trying to wipe his nose (by the third lap, chasing him around with a tissue, they changed directions and caught him head-on).

I made an unknown concoction for supper. Zorak hates that. Not so much the food that comes of it, but I think it's just that he lacks faith in my culinary abilities. If what I'm fixing does not have a readily known name, or come from a cookbook we actually own, he gets twitchy. (Wonder where he got that from?) I think I'm getting fairly good at it, but who knows? The boys eat it because that's what's on the table, and Zorak eats it... then gets something else from the fridge. Ah, well, nobody's starving or suffering from food poisoning, so I consider it a job well done!

Tomorrow we must forage (ok, hit the market, but "forage" sounds much more interesting!) We must vacuum and continue our decluttering process. We must enjoy one another and be sure to soak up every single precious moment we can, never forgetting that the errands and chores are but the backdrops to the real memories. Should be a good day.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 21

The Gatekeeper

Zorak has instituted a new bedtime ritual that the boys love: in order to get to their beds, they must first pass The Gatekeeper (which you must say in a deep and booming voice, or it just doesn't come off quite right) by answering a riddle.

The laughter that tumbles down the stairs is priceless. I know he does it for them, but what it does for me, to hear that laughter as their last little sounds before they turn out the lights... wow.

Zorak the Gatekeeper, reason #8,566,974 that I'm so in love with this guy!

Kiss those babies!

So... How many David Allen Coe songs do you really know?

You know, I'll admit that I'm a cubby-holer. Until people have permanently embedded themselves into my psyche, I have to leave them tucked neatly into little mental cubby holes. This is purely for info retrieval purposes, here. Remember, I have no actual memory, and don't cite sources. I'm the one who couldn't produce a decent bibliography if Zorak was being held hostage by the editors of The Little Brown Handbook! But I digress.

My point being that I am generally surprised to get comments from ladies (and guys), who I already think are pretty interesting folks, sharing that they not only know who some random artist is, but that this knowledge was garnered voluntarily, rather than via the merciless bombardment of an old boyfriend (or some other equally heinous torture). I don't know why, but that is so much fun! I'm regularly pleasantly surprsied by this. Just one of life's little pleasures. We need to figure out the ultimate background music soundtrack for the Gathering of Imaginary Friends someday.

In the meantime, Chris (who is currently recovering from his adventures in cross country travel), suggested that we make a CD for the trip. Interestingly (or, to me, it is) we'd already decided it must be done. Sadly, it's probably gonna have to be a tape, b/c our CD burner is dead, and our stereo is from... um... alright, it had a turntable, ok? 'Nuff said. SO, being thankful we won't have to figure out how to make an 8-track, we're gathering great traveling songs to preserve for all posterity as "our moving music". What would you include on your tape (or CD, if you're particularly cool)?

Here are the guidelines:
1) Cheese is fine. Though we'll have to keep it to a limit. Certain types of Cheese are measurably more tolerable than others... if you know what I'm talking about, then feel free to go with the Cheese. Otherwise, I'm probably going to be full up on the Cheese Spread as it is.
2) It's got to have whatever it is that makes your head move independently of your shoulders, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. (Rap, however, is out. Sorry.)
3) Accordian, banjo, fiddle, electric guitar, bagpipes, sax, spoons and synthesizers are wholly acceptable instruments.
4) Organs are not.

OK, don't be shy. What music would you want to drive to?

Kiss those babies!


Visible Progress.

The boys began learning the Table Blessing in Prima Latina this morning. We're getting closer to learning the endings for verbs, as well. (I feel like such a nerd, because I am so excited! I love this stuff!) I think with their Spanish exposure thus far, the Latin endings will be fairly easy to pick up and run with.

James is reading through The Second Eclectic Reader, focusing on expression. It's really cute to see, although he's pretty bored with the stories. He's been a good trooper about it, though, and we will exchange it for the third at the next library visit. John is working his way through the First Eclectic Reader and is so proud of his ability to remember so many of the phonograms.

So, with academia well in hand... this week we're going to focus on getting those training wheels off the bikes! The weather's cooperative so far. The boys, eh, we'll see. I think it can be done, and I know they'll be much happier with the newfound freedom and control over their riding once those training wheels are off. I had planned to take the advice I read on the WTM boards (to lower the seat to its lowest position, enabling the child to put his feet firmly on the ground, and thus to feel in control while learning balance) but, um, remember when I said I'd had no genetic input on any of the boys? I was wrong. They got the Ware Family Inseam... The seats are as low as they'll go! So we'll have to do what we do with everything: wingit!

Kiss those babies, and I hope you're having a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, March 20


OK, I think I'm going to have to watch that one again.

Some chuckles. It was cute.

But not fall-on-the-floor, laugh-my-rear-off funny.

Let me just say that, honestly, I think it's me. I get that. It's ok. The thing is, you know, and I'll have to dig up my yearbooks to really prove this to you... this movie hit a little close to home. It could've been a documentary of Prescott, AZ in the 1980's. Funny?

Sure, from a distance.

But you couldn't pay me to go back and do it over.


No chance.

I have got to find those yearbooks.

Alright, already!

We rented Napoleon Dynamite...

No blog for now.

Enjoy your popcorn.


Saturday, March 19

Great Days, Great Folks, Lessons Learned

We spent a lovely day with friends, celebrating a wee one's first birthday. The Honored Guest doesn't remember a thing about the Grand Event, but it's always a joyful celebration.

Zorak had to work, but was able to join the party in time to enjoy some Cuban style beans and rice and a cold beer. *ahhh* Good stuff. Not quite ambrosia, but mixed with enjoyable company and the background noise of a dozen or more gleeful children, it's not a bad way to spend the afternoon at all.

I have only one issue to take with the day, and I hope that new parents or soon-to-be parents, or those who are ever in charge of planning events and games for small children in any setting at all will please listen closely...

(General Disclaimer. I'm not talking about sporting events, nor about planned competitions for which children are prepared. I am not even talking about all children in all stages of life. I am talking about little ones and social gatherings. Everybody doesn't have a water buffalo, but the point that follows is that the little guys don't mind as long as we don't beat them over the head with it. So, here's your grain of salt, enjoy, and read on. Thank you, The Management.)

The Honored Parents are still learning the ropes, and today they gained a valuable lesson: the Inertia of Joy. Children do not naturally need to be organized or entertained. They move on their own internal inertia and it is easy to mess with that, but the results are not going to be good. We've messed with their inertia.

I cringed a bit when I overheard that there were "games" planned, with "prizes" for the winners. This is the under seven crowd, folks. The games of our youth which we may (or may not) remember with fondness were not such fond memories before we hit the more calloused and competitive ages. If the children are little, give them room to run and the occasional snack and you'll be amazed at how much fun they'll have. Musical chairs is perhaps one of the meanest, most humilitating things you can do to a group of small children. And yet, here it came. *sigh* I'm never quite sure how to handle these situations, really. It's going to end in tears. It's a bad idea. I voice my concerns and suggest that perhaps we ought to let the children continue playing happily, together, as they are... and I'm met with the shocked, eye-rolling look that says, "You are SO overprotective." Yes, folks, we all want our children learn to handle failure, but we don't want to consciously set them up for it. Tsk, tsk. So, they called the happy, smiling children to gather 'round. All the parentless adults and the fairly new parents were all smiles. The guileless children heard "game", thought "fun", and agreed to give it a shot.

One. By. One. The tears flowed. First out was John, who would never think to shove a little girl out of a seat (initially because he knew we'd have a fit, but at this point simply because he knows you don't shove and you don't push girls... see how this just doesn't fit when you're four and trying to make sense of it all?) His shoulders slumped, his head dropped, and silent tears fell. The other children slowly realized that this was going to get ugly. Wonderful Neighbors' eldest girl was next. Same tears, same dejection. Some of the parentless adults are starting to think that perhaps it's not such a good idea to be making the children cry. (They CAN be taught! Hallelujah!) Two more children were ousted from the game, absolutely crushed at being banished from the fun of running around to music, before the organizers of the "fun" looked around and said, "What should we do?" Well, how about letting them just run and play? That seemed to be working well.

It took a while to perk up their little spirits, but thankfully, children are resilient and once they're reassurred that the "fun" is over, they go quite happily back to their mundane games of hide and seek, follow-me, run-in-circles-until-you-fall-over, and who-can-laugh-the-silliest. By the time everyone headed out, all of the children were running once again on their Inertia of Joy. (They'd also broken into the gift bags and were tanking up on Pixie Stix! WOOHOO! It's party time!)

Just let the children be. They don't have to compete to have fun. They don't have to have a winner to enjoy the day. They are little, and they are trying to learn how it all fits together. Let them do that without pitting them against one another. Let them find their place and their footing. Enjoy them. There is so much to enjoy in them, if you'll let them be.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 18

Howdy, all!

Oh, I wish y'all could've been here today. Following a few days of bitter, bone-rending cold, we had the most beautiful day! I turned OFF the heat! Opened the windows! The children were summarily coated in mud the latter half of the day, coming in only when the sun faded completely from the top of the fence and the boys began to turn blue. (I will never get this clay out of their clothing.) Several loads of wash hung out to dry and all the mopped floors dried almost instantly in the warm, gentle breeze. Gotta love days like that.

James just came flying downstairs to tell us that he "found an atom that has no neutrons!!" (emphasis his) Wowsa! The Usborne Dictionary of Chemistry has been his regular companion all week, and I'm thinking this is one worth buying. He's learned more in a week of leisurely reading than I did in an entire semester's worth of lectures.

Our lessons are coming along well. John is learning his +2's and James is finishing mastery of his multiplication facts. Both have mastered counting to ten in Latin and have finally reached mastery of the vocabulary to date in Prima Latina. It's time to start the next prayer and move on to the next chapter with that. Reading? Check. Always. Good stuff.

We made up our own pantheon this week, to go along with History. The boys made up the heirarchy of the gods and drew a wall mural to display them. The list is hilarious, with such noble figures as "Nut", the god of all nut products and "Polyneeda", the goddess of housing. It's fascinating to see myths spring to life in the eyes of children.

We've talked with the boys about making the move. It looks like it is definitely going to happen, it's just a matter of when. Can you believe it? We're going to Alabama! WOOHOO! Depending on the paperwork and making sure all is tidied up on this end, we will most likely head out in late April or early May. I can't believe it. Anyhow, the boys are so excited to have chickens and a cow. (I lobbied for goats, but the cow won out.) They have been such troopers through all the moves and upheaval. Zorak and I are just on cloud nine to think that we can finally put down roots and give the boys a place to be "from". That's a good feeling.

Zorak is currently subjecting us to one of the truly horrible movies he picked up at the library sale ("Honey, why'd you get this one?" Um, oh, Mickey Rourke was on the cover. "Oh.") and, well, I can't think with the dialogue running in the background, so I'm going to go see if I can talk him out of a footrub while he watches the movie. (Yeah, if Mickey Rourke is in it, you know it's not likely to end well for anyone involved...) Maybe I can read.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 16

Long Overdue Interviews

OK, guys, I apologize for taking nearly a month to post interview questions! So, if you're still around, wondering if I'm trying to come up with some really difficult questions, no. It's just that I have the attention span of a four year old. Or a puppy. I get distracted.

So here are my interview questions:

1) What piece of advice do you wish you'd received (or did receive, but wish you'd actually taken) to prepare you for parenting? (Or homeschooling!)
2) What gets you through on those days you're thinking, "WHAT was I thinking?" And how are you holding up?
3) How did you and Bud meet?
4) What do you consider your "best find" to use in your homeschooling, and why?
5) Many folks gravitate to a specific verse or chapter in the Bible- do you? What scripture do you think of as "yours", as the one that you return to regularly?
6) Bonus question- what happened to your blog? I keep getting a "url not found" message from blogger! ;-)

1) What have you learned in raising the boys so far that you didn't expect?
2) What would be your ideal weekend vacation? (Think four-day, here.)
3) What is your happiest childhood memory?
4) What US destination would you most like to visit and why?
5) Why are you drawn to homeschooling for the boys?

1) So, fifteen years ago, is this what you pictured your life would look like now? How is it different, or similar?
2) What is your favorite surprise in how things have turned out?
3) Would you share your favorite, guaranteed-to-bring-a-smile recipe?
4) How did you and Mr. LB meet?
5) What would your ideal day-in-the-life look like?

I like the "dude rules" Chris used- if you like someone else's questions, feel free to answer them, too. You can answer on your own blog, or here in the comments section. If you answer on your own blog, though, please post a link to it here so we can all go read it! Have fun. There are no wrong answers. Use a #2 pencil and fill in each bubble completely.


Oh my.

Zorak heard back today. It looks, um, encouraging. To say the least. He is elated. I am, and this is funny, a little scared. It's easier to let fly and head off into the unknown when you have nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. When you've done your best to make a nest, though, no matter how meager, the world looks awfully big, doesn't it?

Zorak brought up a good point, as well, in that we knew this last move was temporary (3-7 years). This move, though, we have sort of titled The 20 Year Plan. No pressure, right? :-D

Well, hot on the heels of another weekend, so we won't know more until next week. Stay tuned.

Kiss those babies!

Songs We Destroy

I know I've mentioned Zorak's tendency to mangle songs on the radio. Alan Jackson and Billy Joel are among his favorite targets. They're just so... easy. He's been much better about the themes he picks, you know, since the boys learned to talk...

Well, it seems this love of lycricsm lyricism is contagious (or hereditary, which is scary), as the boys now make up new words to their favorite songs. This one is from Monday:

Three colored ducks that we once knew
Red ones, spotted ones, green ones, too
But the one little duck with the rocket on his back
He led the others with a

Pre-emptive apologies to folk singers around the world. Nothing is safe.

*Edited to fix whatever I did to that word. I have no idea how I managed that. I should never blog before two full pots of coffee. Ever.

Monday, March 14

Today was weird, but good.

To be honest, "weird, but good" works for me. If I can tally up a majority of these at the end of this life, I'm going to call it a stunning success.

James, Smidge and I got up early, ate yummy banana rice bread and yogurt, read some stories, flew through lessons, and were just finishing math when John (Mr. Up and Hungry By Five) stumbled downstairs. He looked around and said, "This is weird. I just got up and you're doing math."

He wanted to review phonograms and write them himself. (Yeah, twist my arm, there, kiddo. Just a little farther and I'll let you do extra math, too!) In all, it was a painless morning. We took our snack and giggled our way through Edward Lear's A Book of Nonsense.

Then the phone rang. It was Poor Wonderful Neighbor. She was covered in vomit and I could hear the miserable perpetrator in the background.

"So," says, I, "You're not going to be needing help with decluttering today, I take it?"

Wonderful neighbor snorted, "Yeah. No. Not touching the house today."

"Need us to take The Small One?"

"No, this is viral and is threatening to make the rounds."

"That's why I love you. If you do need anything, we can leave it on the doorstep, ok?"

She called later, looking for Popeye's coupons. We ran 'em down to her. Zorak said, "You know, you just can't beat having neighbors like that. Not only are they comfortable enough to call you for coupons to Popeye's, but they actually use coupons for Popeye's, and they know you do, too. They're just great. Can we take them with us?"

I'm trying. Believe me, I'm trying. If we could round up all the phenomenal people we've had for neighbors, or just have lived near, we'd live in the best city on the face of the planet!

The afternoon was gorgeous! I took the herd out back to paint and wade in the muck. John painted a lovely expose on acid rain, or the plague. Something like that. There was a dead body, that's about all I can tell from the painting. James painted some kind of lightning energy converter system... I was lost shortly after he began explaining it. Smidge only drank a little of the brush rinse water. In all, a great day.

And tomorrow, we get to do it again, only with new adventures! Life is wonderful, isn't it?

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 13

Spring Frogs & Puppies & Bows, Oh my!

Um. Nevermind. That doesn't convey as well in print as it did when I sang it in my head.

Anyhow, Saturday was a lovely half-day. The latter half, mostly. The first half was spent in our perpetual struggle against our inner nature, attempting to get out of the house before, oh, say, Sunday. Anyway, once we got where we were going, it was absolutely wonderful!

M's mom and dad are... how to describe them? Well, I wish they would adopt the whole lot of us. They're just joyful and warm folks. They are so very good to the boys, and they make it impossible to feel like an outsider in their home.

M's daughter seemed to really like her bow, and although we did not get there early enough to see her shoot it, I'm counting on *ahem* pictures... soon... ok? Yeah. She has a natural bent for art, and drew for us a beautiful pencil sketch. It's really gorgeous, and we love it. The boys made me promise they could put it in the family room.

James and M's son, J, took off for the pond as soon as we said, "OK". It is really fun to watch two boys ramble down a hill like a couple of St. Bernard pups. The limbs, they go everywhere. I'm surprised James doesn't have more scratches on his face than he does, really. Yet, not a word of complaint. It was an adventure. They played at the edge of the pond, in the boat on the shore, and after I convinced James that the "screeching noise" he heard was actually frogs (M had to fill me in, first), James tried to find some in the dark. (Oh, James did get lost, but not really lost, just "I don't know where I am and am pretty sure this isn't the right way and where'd everyone else go" lost, when we were just around the bend. When the sound of a 60-pound rabbit crashing through the shurbs stopped emanating from the hill, I called out to him, to which he answered, "Um, I can hear you!" I tried to be supportive, but don't know if I pulled it off too well. We knew he was fine the whole time, and it's hard to look serious when you're trying not to laugh.)

It is also, might I add, such a treat to know that there are (yes, Virginia, there are!) other well-behaved, energetic, creative, funny little boys out there. *happy sigh* They hit the door, tore off their shoes and disappeared until hunger brought them from hiding.

I heard John was very sweet to the babies while I was gone. Ahhh, thank you, Sweet boy! (You know, you hope for the best, but you just never know how it's going to turn out...) BTW, M, John is now a "big fan" of baseball. It seems A got him into a baseball computer game downstairs and was very sweet and patient in explaining everything to John. John's in love with the idea now, and sure thinks A walks on water!

E was there with her family, and I was so glad. They are such fun, and I didn't have a chance to email and beg her to come beforehand, so that was a great bonus. It was neat to see Smidge and W interacting more this visit (they're both about 18-19 months old, so at Thanksgiving, they just sort of orbited one another a lot, each in his own little world- this visit was more interactive and "Hey, check you out!") Jacob thought it was absolutely wonderful to have another little guy to hang out with. Zorak got great shots of him and W roaming the great rolls of carpet and smiling from ear to ear.

We left late (though we hope not too late) and drove home with full bellies, happy thoughts, and three stone-cold little sleepers in the back seats. I really wish we lived closer so that we could coerce them to come our way once in a while, too. We do enjoy these folks.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend! Kiss those babies!

Gas 'n Go, Dine 'n Dash... Book 'n Bolt?

The Friends of the Library sale ended today. Zorak and I were going to tag team, going one at a time, but I got there and was surprised by the layout and the lack of a "throng of bodies", so I thought I'd give him a call and say, "Hey, if Smidge is up, throw shoes on the boys, and I'll come get ya!"

I already had a pile of books, and there was no way I was putting those babies back (FIVE Rosemary Sutcliff books!), but if Smidge was still asleep, then I could shop a little more. Attempting to be thoughtful (not using my cell phone inside), I approached a gentleman by the table, explained that I needed to make a call and could I leave my bag there for just a few moments. Well, evidently I have quite a nefarious look to me. He pursed his lips, raised one eyebrow, looked over my bag, then me, then the bag again. Finally, he sighed and said (in that warning tone you use when you know you're allowing your child to do something that he's using as a ruse to do something else), " Alright."

At first, I was pretty offended. I mean, I could've just started beep-beep-beeping away on my cell phone there in the building. *???* But then, on my way out the door, I was visited by an image that left me laughing far too hard to care:
...a group of five women in denim jumpers and turtlenecks (it was chilly today), walk into the book sale. They act nonchalant, gathering scads of books, and head for the tally table. Then one distracts the library helpers and the other four bolt for the door, flinging themselves and their ill-gotten gain into the open side door of a waiting mini-van. Limbs akimbo they tumble as the door shuts, soft rock blaring from the windows, the van burns rubber pulling away from the sale, and amidst the din, the fifth lady quietly slips out the back door.

Dine 'n Dash is for the young, the uninitiated. Real delinquent joy happens in a well-orchestrated Book 'n Bolt!

Anyway, Smidge was up when I called, so I grabbed the guys and we had a wonderful time. We spent $17 ($8 of that was my pile from the first stop), brought home a vast and wonderful array of books (to fill the shelves we haven't yet built), and enjoyed the afternoon tremendously.

So ends our first ever Friends of the Library sale! Happy reading!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 11

Another CWS Friday

I love it when Zorak is home, and we can share the adventures and steps the boys take. Every day has them, although not all are grand or obvious. You have to really be parenting to catch them. They are worth the effort.

Today was lovely: stories, jerked beef, and tremendous castles dominated our morning. I finished a book while putting Jacob down for a nap. Zorak and the boys built the Tower of Babel on the coffee table.

John delighted in showing me how the little Lego people fell from the top.

James happily announced that they'd done it by all working together.

In the afternoon, I slipped out for a luxurious hour and a half to myself, perusing the library shelves for unfound treasures, and then I paid some unsuspecting soul to trim this unwieldly mane that emanates from my head.

Zorak regaled the boys with stories and adventures while I was gone. They set up a target in the backyard and sighted in their bb gun. When I returned, they showed me how well they all did (each shot was circled and labled according to shooter), each boy glowing with the joy of success, and the thrill of adventure. They are so proud of how well they followed the rules, and each repeated all the safety rules to me. Jacob had his own little observation bench set up, far behind the action, where he cheered each brother on. It was good Zorak/larvae bonding time.

Tonight the boys are treating me to supper. They're fixing salmon cakes and a salad. James just came running in, leaping with joy and giggling from his toes, "Mama! Mama! I got to break the raw egg into the bowl!" This has been quite a week for him- yesterday he got to place the order at Taco Bell, and both he and John trekked to the bathroom all by themselves. They're both feeling quite successful at this whole "growing up" thing. It's the little steps, the small rites of passage, that they recognize and savor. For the boys, these moments are filled with unadulterated joy. For Zorak and I, they are pleasing, beautiful, and bittersweet.

Life is like that, really- pleasing, beautiful and bittersweet. It's up to us to decide in what measure.

I'm off to enjoy my guys! Kiss those babies, and have a wonderful Friday night!

Wednesday, March 9

Some Days Are Just Plain "Good"

It's a Prepositional Play Day! The boys played most of the day- during math, through reading, and over breakfast. They just had an awful lot of happy childhood going today. It was great.

John built a huge lego fortress, complete with crayon cannonades and an attacking force across the coffee table. He was quite taken into the whole project when announced, "The Pirate Lilliputians are battling the mice!" Huh?!? Did you just say "pirate lilliputians"? "Yep. See, it's a small castle. Only big enough for Lilliputians. And the mice are running the crane over here, see?" I didn't catch much after that, I was laughing too hard. But it was a very cool day.

The boys wrote out their own personal timelines today and began their "family histories". James interviewed me (me being the only one present at the moment). He was tickled to learn that his grandfather was a "Jr.", and somewhat unsettled that his grandmother didn't have a middle name (no, not even an initial). My favorite part, though, was navigating the question, "What is your favorite memory?" I pondered my childhood memories, digging for a truly impressive one, when he said, "No, not just childhood. Your favorite of all time!" Oh, well, that's a toughie to pick just one... "I know!" He said, "You have three! No. Wait! You have four!" Oh yeah? Do you know what they are? "Yes," he said. "The day you married Dad, and when you had me, John and Jacob." Yeah, you're right. Those are four of my favorite memories. I'm glad he knows that, though.

They both wanted to do math "where Jacob can't reach," so they worked at the dining room table while I made a loaf of bread. The new schedule has been sadly neglected due to all the upheaval (in the form of trips to the courthouse, calls with the realtors, going out of town- that sort of thing can really mess with even the best-laid schedule.) They don't seem terribly scarred over it, though, which is handy.

We read and read and read. This has been a good week for reading. When I needed to make supper, James took over the reading of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. It's difficult to understand him through his laughter, but it's such a joy have that in our home. Good stuff.


Bible Study was tonight. I do like the small groups. The comaraderie is nice. The boys were well-behaved. (Did I tell y'all about talking with the hosts? Things are working out beautifully!) The older two have a blast with the other children and Smidge floats from room to room, looking very busy, but not making much distance with those stubby little legs of his. He lost his cookie to one little girl tonight and came crying to me... one painfully slow step at a time. By the time he got to me, he'd forgotten entirely that he was upset, and everyone else had a good chuckle out of watching the whole process. Snuggles and a beso and he was off again, no worse for the wear!

Zorak made it through Bible study tonight without writhing in pain or spewing foam all over their carpet (real live threats he made on the way there). We both nearly lost it in a fit of supressed laughter, though, upon reading Psalm 1:1. I wasn't quite prepared for the translation in my Bible. You see, I'm accustomed to reading Psalm 1 in King James Version, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." But my current Bible (NIV) says at the last line, "or sit in the seat of mockers." It's the "seat of mockers" bit that got us started. The tagline in our house is, "Are you mocking me?" (The appropriate response to this query is, of course, "Duh," or possibly, "Ya think?") Zorak got it under control better than I did. I had to go get coffee to regain my composure. But in all, it was a very nice evening.


On a completely unrelated note, may I add that WAITING IS NOT MY STRONG SUIT! (Although, by now, you'd think I'd be much better at it. But no. I'm not. Shocker, I know.) Thank you for listening.


But now, the boys are snuggled in and dreaming peacefully, the kitchen is tidied, the wash is done. It's time to curl up and finish The Reverse of the Medal (which is, for those in the know, absolutely killing me! But it's soooo good!) and then Zorak and I are going to read more of Rand's Atlas Shrugged. (Yes, again with reading books in the wrong order. This was all they had available. It's good so far, although I am ashamed to admit I never read this earlier. *sheepish grin*)

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, March 8

Well, that was interesting! :-)

Zorak had to go back out of town this week for work. If they hadn't been able to get down to bid'ness (sorry, just had to say it like that) yesterday (Monday), the next day for the project would have been Friday. SO, since Lady Luck has not been present for much of this project, the boys and I tagged along, blatantly hoping for a really worthless Monday and a lovely week on the seaside (you know, in a town that actually wants tourists) with Zorak.

*snort* That so didn't work. Monday's weather was fine and fair (as evidenced out the hotel windows). The work was completed without a hitch.

Well, that's okay, we can head out early Tuesday morning, spend the morning down at the beach and then head home, Zorak and I conversing with one another in relatively uninterrupted sentences, while three exhausted, happy children snoozed in the backseat!

*snort* That also so didn't work. Not just a severe storm warning (as evidenced by The Nothing that moved overhead at a frightening pace), but there were actual tornado reports! Um, we're scrappin' the beach trip, boys, and headin' North!

Ah, well, let's stop and get a bite to eat in one of the little towns just north of here and... (you see where this is going, right?)

In the end, we made it. Zorak got his work done. The boys and I read a ton of books in the hotel room. They played the piano in the lobby. We watched a little (whisper it with me now) cable TV. We had no encounters with tornados. We thoroughly enjoyed our food when we finally found a restaurant! And the boys, while nowhere near "quiet", enjoyed talking back and forth, making a gazillion observations, asking questions mankind has yet to answer, and nodding off in shifts (lest Zorak and I get lonely without their verbal presence).

Yes, in the end, it was a very nice family trip! And it's good to be back.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, March 5

Who Knew?

Zorak knows WAY more about Men At Work (the band, not some random gathering of male union workers) than I thought possible.

He says, "Of course. This is the 80's. Big stuff."

Oh. Of course.

I love that man!


It's Alive!

Zorak (My Hero!) revived the long-dead carpet cleaner. And boy, HOWDY! I've steamed the living room (twice) and the dining room (twice) and the bottom 2/3 of the stairs (then I started to get a little scared about hauling the thing onto the stairs, or tempting gravity by putting it at the top... with a toddler in the house). The carpet is still nowhere near "white", as it were, but it's relatively clean and the parts that are not clean-looking are actually just very clean stains. I'm ok with that, as it's a huge improvement from the previous condition of the house. I tell you, the carpet had begun to actually absorb light!

Great day making up songs to go along with the stories we read. Read one book in Pig Latin. Yes, aloud. I know.

Wonderful Neighbors had given us a hunk of venison a while back, so today we thawed it, cut it into steaks and ate until we were about to pop. Then I took one more bite (it's just a thin mint...) ugh. Should not have done that, but I hate to see good meat go to waste.

Oh, and anybody know why the WTM boards are down? Zorak responded yesterday to a post on the History of Weaponry, and when he tried to post it- the whole board was gone! (I told him he broke it, but he thinks I'm making that up. Moi?)

I am too tired to blog anymore. We head out for an adventure tomorrow, and the house must be spotless before we go. In that tone, I am going to bed!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 4

New Adventures

Smidge had his first solo outing today. The Wonderful Neighbors came over for an afternoon of crafting and Ancient Greece. When all the Daddies were home and it was time for the Wonderful Neighbors to head back to their place, Smidge was absolutely distraught. He stepped to the threshold, waving and crying. Then he put one tenative toe over the line and waited for the "engh" noise Mommy makes (it means "no", and works on children and dogs). I decided I'd like to see what he was going to do, so I didn't stop him.

Well, the little happy explorer just took off after Wonderful Neighbor, his little stubby legs going for all they were worth to catch up with her. She laughed and asked if he was coming for a visit. Smidge said, "Yep," smiled, and waved to me over his shoulder as he scampered down the sidewalk! Wonderful Neighbor said she'd bring him back in a few minutes and asked if she could give him a snack.

I honestly expected that at some point that he'd realize we weren't coming with him and he'd come back, but no. He toddled all the way to the WN's house and straight in for chips and some juice. When she brought him back a few minutes later, he was happy as a clam. She said he played with the girls and ate a bit. She asked him if he was ready to go home and he said no, so she let him play a little more. In a few minutes she asked if he'd like to go home and he said yes and headed straight for the door.

Reason #386 why we love our Wonderful Neighbors.

And Jacob is growing up so quickly. He is happy, friendly, loving, obedient, and cheerful. We are so blessed.

Kiss those babies~ they won't be babies forever!

Thursday, March 3

What? Do More!?!

Sometimes we are asked to do more than we are doing now, or ever have done before.

That's not always fun.
Or easy.
Sometimes it is.
And that's nice.
But it can still be scary.

The question I beg, though, is how do you rise to the challenge?

This isn't about taking on more than you can handle or schedule. This isn't about trying to be everything to everyone. This is about reaching deeper inside yourself and finding the strength to do far more than you thought possible, when you are truly called upon to do just that. It's something that would benefit society greatly if more of us would do it on a regular basis.

Running is an often-used analogy for this concept. Sarah knows the feeling of running those extra few miles, reaching deeper than the burn in your lungs and coming out with an accomplishment well-earned. She has done that with her children, as well, burrowing deeper and harder to uncover just the thing her children will need, no matter how exhausting it is, or how often she wants to run screaming from the room. She keeps digging.

My wonderful friend, Melissa, has plumbed the depths of her heart, strength and humor to keep her home running smoothly while her husband is often gone, working hard. If you'd asked her fifteen years ago, "could you do it?" She'd have probably looked at you wonky and snorted before she said, "No way!" But here she is today, rich in humor, hope, strength and love, pulling it off. And yes, again with the desire to run screaming from the house on occasion. But that's not the point.

I could go on, listing examples of women who, when asked to Do More for their homes, their families, their countries and their faiths, have taken that slow, scary deep breath... and done it. I'm so fortunate to be acquainted with a great many women who have willingly and wholeheartedly Done More.

Most of the time, Zorak doesn't ask me to do much more than our original agreement (love, honor, bleach the whites). Granted, the boundaries are somewhat fluid, shifting back and forth as circumstances necessitate, but for the most part I've always known what he needed and what I could do. Sometimes I've failed him when he needed the basics. Sometimes I've been able to Do More for him than even he expected. It's not easier to Do More, but it's much better for everyone that way.

I do feel that God, on the other hand, has often glanced at me sideways and whispered, "I need a little more from you, Dy." This comes in subtle ways, such as unemployment or illness or some other upheaval which I cannot control. It comes in obvious ways, such as the daily commitment to do the best by each of the boys, to lift them up and show them the world around them through the eyes of beauty.

I can't think of any specific way to identify when you're being asked to Do More, but if you'll listen and pay attention, then you will know. It's not what you think you can do, it's deeper. And so worth it.

So, all this to say, it's time to Do More here. I'm bracing for it. It'll be good, but I'm sure I'll keep a clear path to the door for when I hit that running-screaming stage. I'm in good company, and want to thank each of you ladies for Doing More, and for doing it with humor and grace and style. Thank you for setting that example and being an encouragement.

Kiss those babies!

It all happens so quickly...

Evidently, it happens so quickly that I don't have time to type it in before the thing posts. That was weird. So, I'm reposting this and editing in the text that was meant to be there in the first place.

We heard back on the rodent-infested repo of our dreams, and we did not get it. Evidently somebody else wanted it v-e-r-y much. Now, before you offer your sympathies, let me explain that this is actually very good news. Yes, good news. See, I told you it all happens so quickly! Things have changed quite a bit, and all for the good. But first, a little background is probably in order.

Go ahead and get your cup. I'll wait.

Welcome back. :-)

OK, we've been here 15 months now. While "east of Texas" wasn't anywhere on our top 50 list when Zorak neared graduation in the Spring of '03, we landed here, about as far east as we could go without, well, without slipping into the Atlantic. It's been good, for the most part. There has been some culture shock, but we have been so blessed to meet the cream of the crop here and have enjoyed our friendships tremendously. Zorak's job is wonderful, and he loves his boss, his team, and his job. We have a phenomenal church home (red robes or not), and will soon have our tags for the Suburban paid off. Things are good.

But it's just... not... us.

The biggest issue is the housing market. Had we arrived a year earlier, we'd have been able to purchase a modest home for our brood without being house poor. But we didn't. And we have watched the prices continue to rise without showing any signs of ebbing. It is quite depressing for Zorak to know he spent four years with his nose to the grindstone, accumulating tremendous debt, so that he can uproot from family and support and still not be able to provide a permanent home for his family. This is not due to any lack on his part, but that doesn't lessen the blow. So, there's that.

Then there is just the lifestyle, the "us" of it all. We hunt, we hike. We love archery and elbow room. We have heated debates about the best action for a .260, and whether the ultimate sidearm is a pistol or a revolver. We both dream of the day we can hunt together again. We think a city with a population of 20,000 counts as "the big city", and it's too big for us. We prefer rodeos and live country music to steamed crab and rap. I'm not bashing any lifestyle, just saying that ours is, well, different.

So, Zorak has kept his name in the hat for positions in places that are more in-line with our lifestyle (and our budget!) Every couple of months, we've perused the realty sites for places like Huntsville, AL and Idaho Falls, ID... Ogden, UT and Amarillo, TX. Like Zorak said, "If I've worked this hard and still can't even afford a run-down double wide, it's time to leave!" He's right. And we've been actively looking to either break into the housing market here (which would have allowed us to keep from drowning in the ever-increasing rent and make some headway with our dreams), or find him a job elsewhere.

Well, we can't relocate the chickens before they hatch, but he's been contacted by a gentleman in Huntsville, who would like to interview him. We won't know more for another few weeks (2-3, at the earliest), but Zorak spoke with the gentleman today and it does look promising. I hope to be blogging from Alabama by this summer.

So, you see, it's a very good thing that we didn't win the bid on the house.

And it does all happen so quickly.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 2

The Greeks ~ Specifically, My Greeks

That was our History study this week: Spartans and Athenians. The boys instantly and without reserve identified with certain aspects of each culture.

John is currently out in the back yard, in training to be a Spartan Warrior. He only has two and a half years before he'll need to leave for the camps, you know.

James wants to know more about Plato, and would like the legal voting age lowered. He's devising waterproof storage for his money so he can bury it in the back yard, too.

The beauty of homeschooling? Teach to their strengths! lol.

I wonder what the market was for real estate between Sparta and Athens?


Zorak just phoned- he's on his way home. They didn't get it all done and he'll have to go back at some point, but that's ok. He'll be home tonight! (I'm thinking we'll have, oh, pork roast! *smile*)

Kiss those babies, future warriors and philosophers!

Tuesday, March 1

I'm a Dork, long days, good books.

OK, today I'm definitely registering on the exhaustion scale. *whew* Time for more reading!

The Dork of the Day Award goes to yours truly today, by unanimous vote.

I took the trash out and forgot to shut the back door. "MAN!" I thought, an hour or so later, "How high is the heater set? It's downright sweltering in this kitchen!" *der* (The theromostat is directly across from the back door.)

I bought a ham at the market the other day. Put it in the oven today, literally high from the anticipation of supper: sliced ham with grean beans and mashed potatoes. Mmmmm. A few hours into cooking, I realized it didn't smell right. No, I'm imagining that. It's fine. No... That is definitely not a healthy ham smell. Huh. Well, when I pulled it out to check, I realized it was not, in fact, a ham. It was a pork roast. A lovely, juicy pork roast that had been cooked with no seasoning at all because I thought it was salt cured ham! *sigh* OK, folks, I'd love to claim that's a one time thing, but it's not- this is precisely why Zorak buys the meat in our house.

The boys needed haircuts. I did that tonight. Let's just say this does go in the awards category, and it's not for Stylistic Representation of America's Future.

Then, my grand entry in the daily awards: I didn't hear from Zorak tonight, so I called around 9:45 and *sigh* woke him up. He'd eaten supper and started to call me. Next thing he knew, his phone was ringing and he had no idea what time it was. Poor guy. I'm a goob, I know. They got one test done today. Order another round, boys, 'cuz we're staying here! The boys are great- they love and miss you, and are doing fine. Love you. Love you, too, now go back to bed- I'm sorry. T's okay, nite. One minute, twelve seconds; it's amazing how much you can say with just a few words.


On the redemption end (equal time and all that good stuff), James and I spent almost an hour playing with trapezoids and learning how to find the area of irregular shapes. He asked. Why not? Fun stuff.

John learned all about the commutative property today. Toes make great manipulatives.

Smidge has stopped climbing atop my head, screaming like wounded yeti while I read aloud. This, alone, gives me hope.

More books poured in from the library, but I have no idea what they are. I'm going to sort and sift here in a bit and will update or post or just mumble about what we're reading now.

On that note, I have JUMEX nectar soaking in the dining room carpet and need to get it out, so this is all the blog for tonight. More in the morning! I have to go refurbish the steam cleaner just long enough to keep the ants at bay.

Kiss those sweet, sticky, wonderful babies!