Saturday, April 30

Blogging on the Floor

So, moving day +2 comes to an end. The big news: we have a truck! We have somebody to clean the carpet for less than the cost of a new kidney! I am sitting on the floor because all our furniture is sitting in the parking lot! WOOHOO!

The move, or rather the ramifications of moving, have begun to hit John. He doesn't want a new church - our church is perfectly fine. He doesn't want new friends - his friends are wonderful. He doesn't want to fish in the pond - he wants to fish in the river. *sigh* Poor little guy. He is adrift. He is, for the first time in his memory, fully experiencing limbo. That has to be hard, and in spite of our strong drive to comfort him and reassure him that all will be well, our efforts fail. He isn't at the stage where he can be comforted. Right now he needs to know that he can be sad and we will still love him. He is learning that there are sad times that come, but with it he will learn that happiness comes again, bolstered by warm memories and new dreams.

These things are easy to know on the upside of 30 years experience. They're not quite so easy to grasp when you're not quite five. So he's up and running and joyful. Then he is tearful and lost. He is boisterous and loving, only to find himself bolting headlong into the brick-hard wall of fear moments later. This requires a lot of love, and the ability to just "be there" and "love him through it". We can't fix it, because nothing is really broken; it's not easy, but it's not wrong at all.

The boys spent the afternoon with the neighbors, playing board games and blowing bubbles. One of the other neighbor families came over a little later in the day with their precious little guy (he's just a few months younger than Smidge). Some of the guys from Zorak's work graciously volunteered their manly back muscles for the less thrilling job of lifting and loading. We ordered Chinese in and had the official BBQ. It was a great evening and all three boys were out cold before their heads hit the pillows. So was Zorak's. He's a tired Daddy.

I've got a few things to tend to on the computer, then I think I'll treat myself to catching up on some favorite blogs before I *gasp* unplug the computer and box it up. We'll most likely leave Monday, after the carpet cleaning guy comes and we finish the walk-through. So, when I blog again, we'll be in Alabama! Be safe, and enjoy your week.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, April 29

Catatonic Battle

It's hard to fight the good fight when what you really want to do is

BUT, (ta-da!) today we put on a good show. I started washing walls and taking a toothbrush to the window frames. Um, yuck. But then, just to liven things up a bit, I joined the family downstairs for supper, leaving the washbasin filled with dirty Pine Sol water and a nasty old toothbrush right where Smidge could find it after his bath. Who says moving is all work and no play? Sheesh.

In the past two days, the boys have blown their way through over 100 oz. of bubble soap. I don't mind, as it's kept them outside and happily engaged. Sadly, however, Jacob has actually ingested several of those ounces. When you're only one and a half, it takes a while to realize you should not (A) put the wand directly ON your mouth, or (B) eat soap... So tomorrow's fun is en route as he digests!

Thanks for the humor, guys. I'll have to get Kim's biker jacket so I can do the really cool break. It's just hard to do the Alias-style breakout with the baby in the sling and the boys telling everybody they see, "We're relocating to Alabama!" You know, kinda cramps the whole shtick. But that's ok, humor and faith will get us through this. Yup.

Kiss those babies!

The Mistress Lives

Zorak *drum roll, please* got The Mistress working again! (Aw, heck, throw in the Hallelujah Chorus, too, he worked for it.) Yes, Chris, The Mistress is a BMW. She's an eccentric 1980 R65 with random parts issues and a sneaky gremlin. She's been intermittently earning her keep since Charles hooked up with her in August. Well, no, that's not entirely fair. She came with an entire herd of gremlins (what would that be? Gaggle? Flock?) Zorak has steadfastly eradicated them from her person, but just as he'd get two out, a new one would reach maturity and thwart his dreams of Mobility For All. From what I can tell, she has a number of oddities that are fairly specific to the R65 series, and to that year, in particular. (Like the coils, which all the specs say require one X type coil, and yet if you look, she clearly has two Y type coils. When you push enough to get a technician on hand, the tech will happily tell the sales rep that you are not an insane freak trying to drive the entire sales division into despair, and yes, it really does require something like that. It's nice to be able to get that confirmation from someone else who has actually touched the model year you're referring to. She sounds good tonight, and yet, I don't trust her yet. She has shifty eyes... so, can we take you up on a brain-picking session in the future? Charles, he is attached to her, and he has this thing about keeping her around.

The Chevy thang doesn't concern me so much. A 350 is a 350 and disk brakes are disk brakes. Nothing under the hood or the chassis on the Suburban that scares me. (And believe me, the next time the tranny goes out after the warranty is up, I'm rebuilding the thing myself. In my garage, on my time, and it's gonna be done right.)

You know, it's funny. Zorak and I do the good cop/bad cop thing when we need to, and it works well, naturally even. Except that, well, I scare the piss out of them and he's just really nice. I mean it, he is nice on a cellular level. So they hide from me and he can't bring himself to make them deal with me if he feels they've been sufficiently shamed. Meanwhile, I'm foaming at the mouth and just ready to do an Ozzy Osbourne show right there on the sales counter with the first bat, er, salesman who tries to blow smoke in my ear. *shrug* It's good that God gave me Zorak. Otherwise, I'd probably have restraining orders against me with Midas, AAMCO, and that guy in San Middle Of Nada near the AZ/NM border.

So, it looks like we are relatively mobile. If we can wrangle a truck tomorrow (which we've heard, through the rumor mill, is a distinct possibility!), we're set. Yay!


Don't go back over the Wall...

Zorak knew, on a subconscious level, that this week wouldn't go well. He mentioned on the way back (long before the tranny sputtered out) that in the movies, when the main characters escape, but have to go back over the wall - for papers, or to rescue someone else, or to finish the job - it never goes well. Never.

Don't run. Don't panic. Try to look nonchalant. That's our only hope. If they see you running for the bridge, they'll loose the dogs on you. So just. act. normal. Smile at the guard and keep going...

But something went horribly wrong. Somehow, I think *whisper* They know.

The Suburban is back. It has all the necessary gears, and a shimmy! And when you brake, it shutters. And the alignment is off quite badly (it pulls a hard left when you try to brake). Is there some kind of odd cosmic conspiracy going on? I'm serious... read on.

Our U-haul reservation had to be changed b/c there is a dearth of vans in Maryland. The one we were supposed to get never arrived. They said we could get one from Virginia, so we made arrangements to do that as a backup. The Virginia folks called us and said, "Oh, we are so strapped for vehicles. There isn't one anywhere in Northern Virginia. It may be 48 hours after your pick-up date before a truck is ready." There is no truck.

Zorak's good-bye luncheon is today, but it's at an Italian food restaurant and so we cannot go along. There's nothing wheat-free on the menu. I even called to see if they had desserts, thinking I could feed the boys before hand and then join them for dessert. But no. So I'm a little bummed that we won't be there, but not bummed enough to drag John over to a pizza joint and spend an hour telling him he can't have any. Ah, well. Gotta pick your hills to die on, right?

Carpet cleaning? No. Been calling places for two weeks and it seems that professional carpet cleaners here are doing so well that they no longer need to answer their phones or return phone calls. The Lease says we must have it "professionally cleaned" and provide a receipt. I wonder if I can get Wonderful Neighbor to do it with my machine - I'll pay her and get a receipt...

I'm just wondering how they could tell. Did I panic? Was there something in the way we walked that tipped them off? I know we'll get out, eventually, even if we have to swim the river, but I'm not Alcatraz-Tough, if you know what I mean. That water is cold!

Well, kiss those babies, and whatever you do, act cool!

Wednesday, April 27

Too Tired To Blog

And yet, here I sit. Ironic, huh?

The day was relatively productive. Plenty of scrapes and scratches from brambles and twigs, so you know the boys had a good time. More things in boxes, several of which are labeled "misc. toys, boys room". *sigh* I forgot to look under the beds when we packed the toys.

Had to shoo the intrusive feral children from the doorstep several times. Nothing like standing at the neighbor's patio, visiting, only to look up and see the very children you just told not to go into your house, setting their grimy little feet IN your house. When I hauled them up short, they all pretended they didn't know that was our house. (And yes, while they definitely knew it is our house, to them, it's also perfectly acceptable to walk right into a stranger's home, uninvited.) I have to say, I will not miss these children. We've done as well by them as we can, welcoming them to our outdoor BBQ's and other outside activities, trying to share some semblance of normalcy (or at least adult supervision) with them, and encouraging their more positive endeavors. But it's exhausting, and we do get tired of keeping them outside.

The Mistress is still not running. Anybody know why BMW now says to use a different coil ignition system? The official suppliers and such all carry one angular coil that won't fit on the bike; the bike has two cylindrical coils. Anyway, we think the end is in sight. I pray so.

Tranny Guy called Zorak today (hmpf) to say that they ordered special heavy-duty whatever parts to replace the ones that keep failing repeatedly. So. Fine. Good on ya, but do you see a running vehicle parked in our driveway this evening? No. You don't. That's why he called Zorak. Zorak won't yell at people. Supposedly tomorrow morning. Zorak has been given direct instructions to tell the man to call ME if he so much as hints at another delay.

On the upside, Zorak's co-worker kindly took him by the market on the way home. He said we were on the edge of a scurvy outbreak, so they brought fruit- wonderful fruit! And creamer for Mommy, who was on the edge of a caffeine-withdrawl outbreak. Life is once again placid and healthy. YESSSSSSSSS.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, April 26

And on to more interesting things...

Ready... Aim... FIRE!! *thunk*

FIRE!! *plink*

What are they doing out there? We peek out the door to see that the boys have strung a bungee cord over the top of a Rubbermaid trash can, affixed to the handles. One boy has a pile of small stones and the other is conning the cord. Lay the stone on the lid, pull back and, FIRE!! Targets are on the back gate. What a cool idea. John thought it up, and is quite pleased with the outcome. He also aims exceptionally well. Hey, Melissa, can Race take trainees this young?

Perceptive Boy
I plopped down at the coffee table with the boys for breakfast and after we prayed, James glanced at me with a singularly worried expression. "Mom, you look tired. Are you okay?" I was caught a bit off-guard. "Aren't you sleeping well?" he asked, when I didn't answer. When did my little boy become so perceptive? When did he begin to talk like such a young man? I don't mean talking, per se, but speaking, with such gentle authority and intuitiveness? He is growing and stepping into new grooves, and while we don't notice the changes as markedly as we do in Smidge - who still seems to change daily, they are there and they are profound. It's amazing to me that this once small, pudgy fluff-headed toddler is growing into the man he will be, and he is taking it in such graceful strides. My heart melted.

Making Connections
We are reading our way through the tales of Greek Heroes. Today we read the journey Zeus and Hermes took to determine the wickedness of mankind, and whether to destroy the earth or spare it. The boys got quite a kick out of the story itself, filled with some pretty amazing stuff as it is. They both caught parallels to the Christian stories of Sodom and Gomorrah and of the Flood. But the question that I felt showed their minds the most was far more simple: why didn't Philemon and Baucis ask for children, because that's the greatest gift anyone could be given. They went on that vein for a while before we could finish the story. I had no answer, other than that they were old and near the end of their lives, citing that they had asked to die together at the same moment. This satisfied the boys, until Zeus also granted the old couple renewed youth, which set off a celebration of joy among the boys: now they can have children on their own! YAY!

I had no idea they felt so strongly about family and children. I'm glad they understand their value - to us, to life, and to the world. My heart's greatest hope is that every child could have that understanding, that assurance.

Today was good. It was, for the most part, wholly unproductive, but only in material ways. Emotionally, it was a great, great day.

Kiss those precious, valuable babies!

Tuesday, Schmoozeday

Do you see the Suburban parked in it's numbered spot? Yeah, neither do we. And yet, I had hoped. I had honestly hoped that he would come through. And service shops wonder why customers are cynical?

According to Tranny Guy, I "should know it's impossible to do this in one day!" OK. And? According to me, "Well, you've had it two days, and so when you said specifically that it would be back tonight, and I took you at your word, it's sounding an awful lot like you lied to me, knowing full-well you would tell me exactly this come five this afternoon. That's lovely."

But, on the upside, we have unearthed his MO. He's used to being the slick snake-oil salesman. He's used to rushing through his pitch, then bolting to the relative safety of the shop with its OSHA-mandated "employees only" sign. When you corner him with a contradiction in his own words, or point out where he is quite clearly full of, erm, it, he puts you on hold or runs past the OSHA barrier with nary a "just a second", barely audible above the click of the hold button or the door pulling to. That's where he digs through the door-to-door vacuum sales skills he garnered just before he joined the Marines and looks for another script. Something snazzier, whinier, more insistent. Ah! There it is, and he re-emerges, immediately talking 90 miles a minute in the hopes of throwing you off the first trail. If that doesn't work, he bolts again to re-group.

With one breath, he swears that he is "very particular" about the work being done in his shop, and in the very next breath he claims he has "no control" over what happens there. If belittling you and treating you like you don't know a transmission from an ignition doesn't work, he'll put you on hold, and come back flinging so many specifics he can only hope you get lost in the techno-jargon and back away slowly. When that doesn't work, he bolts once again. The only viable response the man offers is a defensive attitude, and unless you are ever-so-thankful that he's there to fix it (again), that's exactly what you're going to get.

Just for the record, don't use AAMCO Transmission in California, Maryland. It's worth whatever it costs to go somewhere you will be treated honestly, you will not have to corner the staff for answers to your questions, and you will know where you stand from the minute you walk in the door until you drive off the property.

Dollars to doughnuts we'll be looking for a tranny shop in H'ville before the year is out.


Monday, April 25

Food Fight! (Seriously...) & The Realtor (Rant?)

James has red speckles all over his eye - the eyelid, brow bone, under the eye. They are the kind of spots you get from smacking into something, like a tree or a lichen-covered rock. There's a shadowy tint below the eye, too. It's not quite a black eye, but something obviously happened. I inquired and he filled me in, "Oh, that? Yeah, that's just from when John hit me with a chicken leg."

I couldn't keep the Mommy Composure. Just couldn't.

The most mature, articulate response I could muster was, "That is the WEIRDEST thing I think I've ever heard!" He laughed. It seems that while I was preparing cheese crisps for lunch, there was some kind of disagreement that culminated in a duel. It was all over when the chicken leg came into play. The boys worked it out and they both laughed about it while they told me the story.

Part of me is glad they worked it out between the two of them, eventually, and enjoyed one another for the rest of the day. Part of me is somewhat mortified that my children ever thought this was an option. A chicken leg to the head? Yet another part of me is quietly whispering to the other two, "These are the threads of your children unravelling! The seams will pop soon and it'll be worse than ripping open a beanbag!" That part also includes a very frightening laugh that echoes to the marrow. I'd like to think our familial stitching is strong enough to get them through the topsy-turvy phase, but my prayer tonight is, "Please let this week pass smoothly."

Tranny Guy was sufficiently mortified that we were back (and still under warranty, which is what bothered him the most, I think) and promised to have the Suburban back to us tomorrow at five. Hmmm. That would help. I was as nice as the situation warrants (perhaps moreso), although I did pointedly make the problem of getting all four of us home without the Suburban "their problem". I figure if they don't want to haul us around, then perhaps they ought to do a better job, eh? If it happens again, I'm going to make them swing us by the market, too, because I'm nearly out of creamer again.

Tomorrow, I need to email our realtor. It's nothing big, but I believe there may be a small *do the quote thing with your fingers* communication issue *okay, you can stop now* that needs to be rectified before it explodes into another series of Realtor Rants. It seems that since we mentioned we'd be willing to buy a trailer on acreage and build our own home, she inferred that we must want a new home. So, being the intuitive creature realtors are known to be, she raised the price ceiling we gave her and sent us the listing for "the house you're going to buy, I just know it!" It would leave us with no money for a chicken (one), let alone cattle or fencing for the cattle, it has far less acreage than we want, and it has a monstrousity of a brand spanking new house w/ oak cabinetry (which we so don't really care about). The thing is, if we can't find a great old house that has stories and ghosts and mojo, we want to build our own home and start right then and there with our own stories and ghosts and mojo. We want to infuse them all the way to the foundation. We don't want somebody else's generally contracted cookie cutter house with glamor bath. There is no mojo in a glamor bath! But how to convey this to the realtor species, I don't know.

Anyhow, tomorrow is a huge packing day. We are pleasantly surprised to find that the drawers and the kitchen are all that's left to pack. Bonus!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 24

Oh, my. I did not expect that!

I'm so sorry to have just disappeared. It seems that Huntsville, while absolutely beautiful and offering anything a body could need, lacks one important feature for cyber-contact: public internet spaces. Heads up to any entrepreneurial souls out there - Huntsville could use an Internet Cafe!!! We thought we saw a Kinko's, but couldn't find it again (not listed in the phone book we had). We didn't get a local addy in time to sign up at the library, and our hotel didn't have a business center. So, I apologize for slipping into the Vortex. We're back!

Here's the week in review:
It was Good.

For more detail, read on.

Day 1
We pulled out Sunday, later than we expected, but y'all knew that, I'm sure. With the trailer and the wind, the eleven hour drive took seventeen hours. Huntsville is lovely at sunrise. We checked into our suite, poured cereal for the boys, handed James the remote, and passed out on the couches.

Days 2,3,4
We searched for a short-term rental. We met the neighbors and enjoyed evenings on the front walk, visiting and getting our bearings. The neighbors - a group of welders in town on a three-month assignment - doted on the boys, shared their beer, and welcomed us in true Southern fashion. We had watermelon on the grass and listened to music from somebody's pickup.

On Day 3... We resorted to bribery for the boys. Miniature air-heads candies make wonderful stalling devices for prolonged drive time. Give the "mystery white" ones to the baby, and there's virtually no mess, either!

Day 5
We found a great short-term rental. We found a realtor. We had supper with Zorak's new boss and his family. They homeschool! They are darling. The children meshed beautifully and had a giggly, squealy, grand ol' time playing after supper.

We found Smidge sleeping face-down in the dining room around midnight. Looks like he was heading somewhere and didn't quite make it. I think this move is, for him, much like the stereotypical Freshman Year In College from a good 80's flick. It's a whirlwind of activity, everything is new, nothing makes sense, he parties like a hound, and wakes up in a strange home surrounded by nothing familiar. So far, he's handled it well, but that's got to be confusing.

James mastered riding his bike without training wheels!! No more Benny Hill escapades around corners. He is so proud, and so excited.

John said he was "friendsick", much like being "homesick". He loves his people, and we'll have to find some new people pretty quickly there in AL.

There is Mexican food (and green chile!!) in Huntsville. We ate little else for the duration of the week.

Day 6
We traveled to Arab to look at a few properties. I caught a fit of the giggles. It is not pronounced "Arab", as in the geographical or cultural reference. It is pronounced /AY-rab/, yes, as in Ray Stevens' "Ahab the Arab". I sat in the back seat, singing to myself and laughing like a lunatic for most of the drive. Don't know if I'll ever be able to say it "properly". Zorak nailed the point quite well: "Saying /AY-rab/ is a lot like saying /MESS-kin/. It's just not right." But you know, if dialect is the biggest stumbling block we encounter, we're good with that.

Day 7
We loaded the Suburban, locked up the new pad, and headed north on I-65 to look at properties on our way out. It'll take another post to tell you about the things we found.

And, you will not believe this! Our transmission gave out on us again, just at we hit Virginia, again. And so, once more, our trip home took an exceptionally long time, since we worked without second gear and an intermittent third gear. One more rebuild on this tranny and we'll have the average cost of it down to a reasonable price for a tranny rebuild. This will be the fourth transmission in this thing, three of which have been in the last 14 months. So guess what we get to do this week, in addition to packing and cleaning? Yee-HAW! Four days without transportation at all while they rebuild the tranny again.

But don't let that bit fool ya- it was a wonderful trip. We are happy to be getting settled in and look forward to reaping the fruits of seven years of hard work. And it is good to be back here (online) again, too. I'll make the rounds and get caught up with y'all, but if you don't hear from me right away, please know I'm just a little buried under.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, April 16

Hey now! Y'all be nice! ;-)

I mean, really. Ok, our townhouse includes a washer and dryer, so we haven't thought of ours since we left New Mexico. It was a busy summer. We moved, and the boys were sick with exotic random illnesses (one after another) the whole two months we stayed with family. And I was 18 months pregnant, in the middle of summer, uphill both ways. Then we moved into campus housing (anybody remember the spider hatching episode?) and had the baby a week later. We up 'n moved here two months after that. At some point between the baby and the cross-country trek, we splurged and spent $25 on a washing machine so Zorak didn't have to trek to the laundry once a week. You have to turn the knob with pliers because the knob part is missing. It sat in the kitchen, occupying a full 1/4 of the available floor space, and spent most of its time disguised as a dish rack and countertop.'s easy to forget these things when life is happening at full throttle. Really. Could happen to anyone. *grin*

So. *whew* We leave in the morning, at some unholy hour. We're so excited about the voyage. We haven't found our Forever Home yet (trust me, I'd have inundated the blog with images of the place by now!) We do plan to find it, if not immediately, then shortly thereafter. (What comes right after "immediately"?) We know it's there. It's waiting for us. And since we're pretty sure it isn't mobile, we must go to it. *play theme music in the background... no, not Sweet Home Alabama, play the theme from The Right Stuff... yeah, now you're with me.*

I'm not going to shampoo the entire carpet this trip, but that one stain (the one I mentioned earlier in the week) is terribly obvious now that all items are cleared away from the area. To make it worse, the boys found their baptismal crosses today and for whatever reason, left them laying around the stain. Zorak looked at it and said, "What's that, a faith cleaning?" Um. Guess I better get on that before bed.

We bought the boys t-shirts while in DC last time. They say "Future President". I'm thinking, yeah. It's possible. All three of them. These kids are made of some amazing mix of titanium and rubber. The really stretchy, flexible kind of rubber. They're exhausted and uprooted and in a total mire right now, but they're handling it so well! I'm in awe. (I'm also just a tad bit afraid of the nuclear chain reaction we may face at some point when the dust settles, but that's what chocolate an snuggle time is for.)

Melissa said this morning, "Wow, you're so calm." She meant it as a compliment, but I like her too much to let it slide. I had to 'fess up. I'm not calm. I'm borderline catatonic. What I lack in fortitude, I make up for in partial paralysis of my mental function. Zorak probably doesn't appreciate it, but it gets me through. And now we're here. We're at that part! I can't believe it!

I hope to blog from the road, so I'll let you know if we stumble upon our Forever Home anytime soon. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Great Things Are Happening

OK, confession time. I've been working, quietly, amidst all the other stuff, with another project. When the opportunity to be involved in something good comes along, it's an opportunity worth taking. This is a good project, which is why I felt the need to be involved. Thus far, my contribution is small, but it's one I'm excited about. The result of the work of many, from all over, follows. Check it out.

And as always, kiss those babies!

Madrid, Spain/Houston, Texas /April 11/ -- Communication in today’s world requires openness and a new approach with respect to media. Spero News is that new approach.

Initially in English, and soon expanding into Spanish, Spero News is a bi-lingual weekly electronic magazine and community spanning the globe providing premium content submitted from its nearly 100 collaborators. Spero News aims to enhance society by creating a premier, alternative network for readers seeking quality news, information and interaction through the Internet by providing news, commentary, and analysis that encourages citizen participation. In that respect, Spero News is a unique experience towards creating a constructive dialogue between media and readers with the aim of promoting a correctly informed and discerning public opinion as reflected in Judeo-Christian values. By melding journalists, citizen journalists and sector professionals, Spero News also guarantees that its news is by the people and for the people.

Spero News´ collaborators from various countries are united in an electronic format that will enable the creation of long-lasting relationships with a large audience of discriminating users. Spero News is already receiving contributions from writers in Australia, Canada, Cyprus, England, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, the United States and Wales, with more expected to soon join.

In turn, readers will appreciate and value Spero News´ closer, "grassroots," touch, while at the same time appreciating the maintaining of high-quality standards, coupled with an online experience for a uniquely knowledgeable community of users through a networked environment that provides answers, analysis, points-of-view and like-minded associates.

A primary goal of Spero News is to teach citizens writing skills whereby they may take a more active role in policies that affect the social fabric, and an appreciation of the corresponding responsibility that comes with gained knowledge.

Spero News seeks to promote justice and solidarity according to an organic and correct vision of human development, by reporting events accurately and truthfully, analyzing situations and problems completely, and providing a forum for different opinions. Spero News believes that an authentically ethical approach to using the powerful communication media must be situated within the context of a mature exercise of freedom and responsibility, founded upon the supreme criteria of truth and justice.

Complimenting the community experience is The Spero Forum, which is already averaging 15,000 unique visitors per day. Spero News will also host Writer’s Journals (blogs) for those people interested. Spero News is the product of Spero, launched in 2002 in Houston, Texas, and the Madrid-based website, as well as the addition of a rapidly growing family of collaborators

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Spero News

Friday, April 15

Moving Weirdness

The phone woke me this morning. It was the moving company, calling to let me know the truck will be here "any minute". Gee... thanks?

It arrived. The first question the driver asked was, "Where do you want us to put the washing machine?" Huh? What washing machine? We don't have a washing machine.

Zorak came downstairs, looked at the crate, cocked his head to the side and said, "I don't think that's our stuff. We didn't have a washing machine."


The seeds of panic beging to set it (oh no! they've brought the wrong crate!), when I recognize the swing set... and the hand dolly... and... oh. Yeah. Um, we do have a washing machine. Well that's what I get for trying to interact with the public before I've had my morning coffee!

In our defense, we haven't seen it in a year and a half. We didn't have it long before we packed it up. And we really weren't all that attached to it. Does that help our case any? *sigh* I hope so.

On the upside, the washing machine and the playground-sized swing set made up a good portion of the 700 pounds of "stuff" we had left in storage. Yay! That translates to "not very much else left", which is a good thing. Also, there are five boxes lost to the depths of storage blackness. Don't know where they are. Can't tell what was in them from the descriptions on the packing sheets. (Who knew doctors filled out those sheets? Or, they might as well, for the legibility factor.)

So we're on track. Things are looking good. Thanks for your prayers and positive thoughts. Keep the humor coming, though. That helps more than you know!

Oh, Fitsy, I was going to say that we'll drink any coffee we can get. We drink too much to afford to be persnickety about it. But I was wrong. We have finally found a coffee we cannot handle: Richfood brand coffee. (It's the Shoppers grocery store brand.) It is b-a-d. Beyond bad. Coming from a woman who has been known to add water to a half pot of coffee and run it back through old grounds because she's out of coffee and the market is closed... this is bad.

Tomorrow we load! *maniacal laugh*
Kiss those babies!

Thursday, April 14

Moving Day -whatever's left

See? I told ya NASA wouldn't hire me. :-)

We've hit that point where, unless we can put the boys in the storage closet out back, or box them up and stack them, we really need to get some stuff out of the house before I can make much more headway. Small children emit stuff in their trails. They can even leave a trail of things you thought you'd packed. Honest. It's amazing.

We have more stuff coming in first, though. The Storage Folks are bringing our stuff tomorrow. Yes, this is stuff I have not seen or touched for a year and a half. No, I probably don't need it. I know. How decadent of us. The swingset will be nice, however, and I'm glad we'll have it for the boys to play on in the backyard we will have in AL. That alone is worth the rest of the stuff.

I do think we'll have a full haul, though, and aside from the miscellany of actually living in the place while we pack, it's lookin' good! Woo. Hoo.

I think we have a place to stay for the week. Will have a place to stay for a month by the end of that week. Then, if the Good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise, we'll soon buy the place on which Zorak and I will die happily and peacefully one fall afternoon in the far-far(-far!) future, hot on the trail of a deer. That, my friends, is a wonderful feeling.


On other fronts:
* Smidge took a header on the sidewalk this afternoon and is once again wearing "The Mark of the Toddler" smack dab in the middle of his forehead.

* The boys spent the afternoon doting on the neighbor's little ones. It was so cute. It also allowed me to do a little uninterrupted packing. Very nice.

* Oh! Before I forget! I bought The Red Fairy Book (another wonderful unabridged Dover Thrift edition!) the other day at Bay Books and have been reading the stories with the boys in lieu of "school". Now, I grew up on Disney and the incredibly distanced version of stories it perpetuates. I knew nothing. The most unsettling points of contention usually involved the unseen, unexperienced death of a mother (seemingly a fave for the Disney folks- Freud would have a field day with them!) But I digress...

James responded so enthusiastically to the original Pinocchio, though, that I've been sucked in hook, line and sinker. Still, it's a little unsettling to be reading along when suddenly the rescue of the baby involves cutting off one of its little fingers! EGADS! Erk. Ack. Stutter. Stumble. I think the boys paid more attention to my seizure-like attack than they did to the cause of it, though, because they've asked for me to read the "Red Fairies Book" again and again. Once you get past the slightly jarring points (which, really, aren't bad- they lend themselves to good discussions of whether it's a worthwhile trade; a finger for a life - and whether there were any other options at the time... a lot of this is in how you handle it. Like life.) anyway, the stories are wonderful. The boys are entranced. I am tickled. There ya have it - a book review amidst the boxes!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 13

Baby Steps and Backups: Getting Out 'n About

Did I mention we're moving? Yeah, that's nice. Our plans for today changed, for the better, so today was productive! (Er, mostly.)

Hair cuts for the boys. John can grow a lot of hair. No wonder that child is always hot. It was like watching a sheep shearing! I do like the haircut process, though. There's a certain amount of autonomy for the children: I can't be still for them, I can't take the cut for them, and at some point I won't be able to tell them how to get it cut. With each trip to that big chair, a child takes on just a little more responsibility. Rites of passage in bite-sized bits. That's the kind a mama can handle.

All three boys behaved most excellently while we were there. They are generally top-notch on excursions like this, but that does not diminish the quiet joy I get from seeing it happen again. Yes, I do appreciate it. It does offer up a certain amount of vindication for the looks of concern (doubt?) I receive when I enter a room with three small children in tow. Generally, the conversation goes something like this:
*We enter room. Every childless adult in the room turns to stare at us.*
Someone, anyone: He he. You've got your hands full, there, don't ya?
Me: *toussling one of the kids on the head* Oh, I wouldn't know what to do without them!
*this is where I get the stare. It's the stare that says, "You should have been committed two pregnancies ago, Sweetheart." But nobody says anything. Usually it's just the disbelieving eyebrow lift and a pitiful smile.*

So, yes, when we've waited nearly an hour and leave half an hour after that, and the boys receive cheerful, engaging responses from the folks while we're there, it feels kind of nice. When the folks who leave before us take the time to stop and say, "You've got some great kids, there." It's uplifting.

And it's also nice for the boys to see the direct and immediate result of their behavior on the reactions of others. They get to see, consistently, the difference between adults who expect poor behavior and are pleasantly surprised vs. adults who see the poor behavior they're expecting. In a world that seldom offers much to backup the things we teach the boys at home, it's encouraging and refreshing.

Anyhow, Zorak suggested perhaps we could just get Smidge on the grid in AL rather than here. So I checked, and we can. Yippee! (Yes, I just said "yippee" to the suggestion that I will spend time in the gub'ment office in AL... the point being, they have an office IN Huntsville and not a one-hour drive from wherever I'm going to be.)

The rest of the day was just general fare: had the tranny checked out, bought more coffee at the market (can you believe we ran out?), sorted through more stuff, enjoyed supper, and now am ready to do a little more packing.

I packed... nothing today. No, wait, I packed two boxes today. Must make up for it tomorrow, though, but it was worth it.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, April 12

I feel like the grape...

that got stepped on by an elephant.

Gonna let out a little *wine*

OK, things are coming along well. I think. I don't know. Somebody spilled something on the carpet, um, I don't know how long ago. It's dried. It looks permanent. Whoever brought the spot into being didn't think to mention it. I didn't see it until I dismantled the dining room table today, but considering the spot of the spot, I know who did it and can pretty much piece the process together.

*waves of flashback*

Unnamed child is enjoying a snack with unnamed accomplices. He is flailing his arms wildly while discussing something of truly exciting proportions.
*ker-plunk* Down goes a mostly-full cup of dark-colored beverage.
"Oops!" Unnamed child hops down, grabs the dishtowel from the stove and lays it gently over the spill. You know, to soak it up.
Still unnamed child hops gaily back into seat and resumes exciting adventure story, arms still flailing. This time, however, the story reaches its end, because the empty cup is in the sink.

Yeah, why mention that one to Mom? She always says, "It's ok if you make a mess, just be sure to clean it up." and "Accidents happen. Let's just clean it up."

*sigh* Sometimes they listen a little too well, don't they?

So, tomorrow we go make Smidge legal. You know, put him on the grid. It's going to be a one hour ride each way for who-knows-how-long a wait in the lobby to get one little card. I'm thinkin' this isn't the most effective use of my time, but then, this would also be a prime example of my mantra,
"If you'd done it when you were supposed to do it, it wouldn't be a problem now, would it?"
I'm going to eat the crow I've earned and try to show the boys that Mommy can face the natural consequences of her behavior with grace. (That's why I'm whining now, here, rather than tomorrow, 3/4 of the way to the Social Security office! See how wonderfully this all comes together?)

OK, break time is over. Thanks for letting me whine a bit. I do appreciate it. Zorak does, too, since I won't have to do it when he gets home. he he.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 11

School Is Out. Cuz, you know, we're moving!

It's official. As of today, we're on some sort of morbid spring break. I don't worry so much about whether the boys will be learning: I couldn't stop that process if I tried. What I'm worried about is whether I'll ever find the boxes with the books I need once we get there. They all look alike to me. I know, they're marked, but still, cardboard just looks like, well, cardboard, after a while. It starts to blend together, and it'll be mighty difficult to convince the boys that Zorak's old college books are "just what I was looking for!"

Oh. Just had a thought. Can you imagine Zorak opening a box of reference material in his new office and pulling out Prima Latina and The Writing Road to Reading? hee hee. OK, that was the laugh I needed. Gonna tuck that visual away for future use.

The boys did not behave so strangely today. I did not behave like quite the high-strung speed freak today. In all, much was accomplished, including time spent together, on the couch, reading cute stories and telling tall tales. I need a talking cricket to throw hammers at, erm, listen to, from time to time. That's the good stuff. I didn't get many boxes packed because I had "helpers" taping and cutting and marking for me, but that's okay. I can buy new socks. I can't go back in time and say, more often, "Sure! I'd love some help!"

Someday I will wish I could. Someday I will look back at the times I was too busy to let them help, and will feel the pain of having not understood at all. But not from today! Today's memory will be of smiling boys, being helpful and feeling like a part of it all. Today's memory will be of John singing "The Moving Song" while we worked together. Today's memory will be of Smidge sitting in an open box and the boys laughing hysterically at the mere suggestion of poking air holes in the box before we pack him up! Today's memory will be of James and his enthusiastic monologue on the sheer possibilities (flailing his kabob around while he talked) still untapped in brain surgery!

And today is our anniversary. Zorak got me more boxes. *goofy grin* I love that man! And I, for my gift, am following him to the ends of the earth (and part way back). Because I love him, and because I'd rather be traipsing around anywhere with him than to be anywhere else without him. This is the good stuff, and what makes it all worth doing.

I'll leave you with John's moving song:
"Oh, moving is fun!
It's fun, so fun!
Moving is ever so fun, fun, fun!
Yeah. Yeah. YEAH!"

Kiss those babies!

Photo Screen Saver

Hey guys, you can set your screen saver to a photo slide show by going to Control Panel, click on Display, click on Screen Saver tab at the top of the display window. In the bottom third of the Screen Saver window is a drop down menu, and it's one of the options in there.

On our computer it's called "My Pictures" and is just below "Marquee". Anyhow, that will run a random slide show from all the photos you have stored in your My Pictures section of your computer!

Dy, who is not a computer guru by any stretch and found that wholly by accident

*WARNING* This feature can cause you to stop mid-stride and just stare at your computer screen for huge chunks of time. I can't be held responsible for the time lost in just staring at all those beautiful images floating across your day. *wink*

Sunday, April 10

Morning Already?


James came into our room about an hour ago, "so hungry, Mama". When you're not awake enough to form complete sentences, but must get the message out, that's hungry. Oats with maple sugar, sliced apples, warm cider and cinnamon toast. Yum.

He's still eating. So, I'm letting the caffeine absorb into my body. Slowly. I hope the others are still asleep when he's done so we can just sit and watch the robins in the yard, share a story and snuggle. He needs that. I probably do, too.

Last night, Zorak and I watched our screen saver for about an hour. That sounds a little strange, unless you know our screen saver is a slide show of all the photos on the computer. Then it's kind of sweet. It's random, so at one moment our boys are as they are now, and the next moment James is two, his face still round and his hair still downy soft. Suddenly John is barely walking, all wide-eyed and chubby. Smidge is a little grub again. Where does the time go? What will tomorrow bring? I don't know the answer to either, only that we need to keep these little guys in the forefront of our hearts and minds. They're so very important.

And so today we will pack the family room. It won't be a day spent solely on the boys, but we will spend time with them. More hugs. More laughter. More riddles. I think that's the key to avoiding sedation.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, April 9

Moving Day -6

I think. I may need to recalculate that whole countdown thing. Obviously, I am not qualified to be The NASA Countdown Guy. That's ok, though. I've got a full-time job for the foreseeable future.

The walls are now bare, and our photos have been lovingly stuffed into an old computer box, surrounded by the sordid news of the last month.

Craft stuff has been dutifully dusted off and packed away.

Many, many bags of trash have bloomed and are beginning to ripen in the Spring Packing Frenzy. All systems are "go".

The children, however, are beginning to mutate. So far, the small one seems to be the least affected. He has three moods: happy, sad, irritated. Today he added "clingy". Of course, he was also in bed by seven thirty! (Choirs. Angels. The whole thing. It was lovely.)

The other two, though. Whew. Not sure I'm going to weather this storm terribly well. It's not that they've been bad, they've just been, well, weird. OK, there, I said it. My children did weird things today, and I don't know how to handle it. (Not weird, as in, throwing-feces-at-the-neighbors weird, just uncharacteristic-of-their-normal-behavior weird.) I'm disappointed in their choices, love them dearly, and hope to God they will someday be able to explain their behavior. This is what I told them, as well. Still no reasonable explanation from them. Ghost Winds, anybody?

So, if things progress at this rate, we're going to have to increase fruit rations and begin sedation sometime around Monday. Shortly after Zorak leaves for work.
(Recipient of sedation is classified information. I could tell you, but then I'd have to sedate you, too. Sorry.)

Zorak's Highlights of the Day:
~pulling up cost of living comparison calculators, and laughing
~comparing the cost of having movers move us vs. what-we're-doing-now, and finding that to be incredibly motivating!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, April 8

Moving Day -7

So. This would be the day of the boxes. Boxes, boxes, boxes. Full boxes. Empty boxes. Shifting, heavy, taped up boxes.

We made good progress. The living room books and media are packed. The linen closets are packed. The winter clothes are packed. The master bedroom closet has been gutted and re-arranged and now looks like it ought to have looked the past 16 months. The bathrooms are all packed and we're now using only ditty bags (although that was done yesterday, but I don't remember if I blogged it or not.)

The boys ate cereal, cold cuts, and rice today. We threw grapes at them to prevent scurvy on the voyage. They are fine so far: vitals good, energy levels high, attitudes fairly pleasant although shifting slightly toward edginess by supper. No sedation required yet.

In all, not bad. I'm going to vegetate and enjoy Hussein, an Entertainment, by Patrick O'Brian (because, yes, all three of the next Aubrey-Maturin books had to be placed on hold! So far, it's a great book, though.)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 6

Good Day With Bad Parts

I know, most days could be summed up like that. Today's bad parts, though, were really icky.

Lovely morning, plenty accomplished.

Icky meeting with Property Management Co. about terminating the lease early. (Shyah, like most of their ideas are even feasible!) It's okay, though, they don't have a key to the house so if they do decide to try to show it w/o us being home, HA! Good luck. Cretins.

We lunched with Zorak (always fun), except that as I pulled into the parking lot, I suddenly felt as if I'd been hit by a Mack truck. Full-on, no brakes. Every pore of my body hurt - not ached - hurt. Out of nowhere, I was exhausted, painfully exhausted. To give you a comparison, I have dragged my sick and severely dehydrated body from the bottom of the Grand Canyon on sheer willpower alone, and did not feel this bad. Came home and napped with the Smidge. I think the boys watched The Incredibles. Serious lack of parenting this afternoon, but thankfully I do my job 98% of the time so when this happens, nothing gets set on fire or severed.

We missed our Bible Study potluck tonight. It was for the best. Zorak came dragging in at 5:45 this afternoon, bathed in sweat, and pissed, er grouchy. Seems The Mistress is gettin' uppity and she made him walk her home... the last mile. So I asked what everyone would ask, "Why didn't you call?" This is not the question to pose to a man who has just had to push a motorcycle a mile uphill. His phone was in the Suburban, not with him.


So, we got him rehydrated and he walked back to the corner gas station (where he'd left the ungrateful wench) to try to get her started and home. She made it 100 feet before dying again and he had to push her the other 500 feet home. *sigh* Evening of tinkering. Probably a week of tinkering.

Fortunately, since tomorrow's weather is "not guaranteed", the communal pot luck, hang-out-on-the-grass-and-eat-each-other's-food get-together with all the neighbors in our corner was moved to today. So the boys played. We ate. The boys went to bed late. Zorak relaxed a bit and hit the hay early. I'm going to join him.

Thank you for all the good wishes on the move. It will be another wonderful chapter in Our Adventures. It's going to go more quickly than I'd originally anticipated, but shouldn't be too bad. (This will be my mantra.) Anyone know if Rescue Remedy is addictive?

Kiss those babies!

3... 2... 1...


Zorak and the boys launched the rocket yesterday. The mere vibe of "something happening" brought every child within a one-mile radius. The crowd was good-sized by the time they had it all set up. The anticipation was high on the maiden voyage. Pump it up. Pull the release. And the launch response was delayed by about 5 seconds... then...


The little soda bottle with the bright yellow paper fins and nose cone shot straight into the air, cleared the peak of the townhouses as quick as quick, and landed gently on the grass, all to the delighted squeals of children.

Followed by the delighted, but somewhat stunned, squeals of a few children who happened to be in what was quickly deemed "The Wet Zone".

Oh. Yes, if you fill a 2 liter bottle half-full with water, pressurize it, and shoot it into the air, well, the water does come spraying out, drenching the bystanders. I can't believe none of us thought of that ahead of time. Unexpected bonus.

Every child who showed up had a turn to use the pump, yank the cord, and re-fill the bottle. Everybody took turns and there were no incidents. It was a good hour's worth of clean, fun, supervised activity. The children had a great time. The adults had a great time (we hung out, visiting and laughing with/at the children - they were so cute!)

I'll see if I can get the directions from Zorak if anyone would like to wow their neighborhood children with a relatively inexpensive, fun "science project". (I thoroughly appreciate not being involved in the crafty end of science. I'll read it with them, but Zorak can build it with them. This, my friends, is symbiosis at its best!)

Today we're planting grass, packing linens, and enjoying a pot luck at Bible Study. Should be another lovely day.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, April 5

It's Official!

We're moving to Alabama! Zorak finally got "the call" today. The offer was better than we had dared to hope, and we've both been bubbling over all afternoon.

So, um, I have about three weeks to get packed and moved. Guess my next stop ought to be Flylady's Moving Tips, eh?

Yeah, that's about it. I can't think of a single witty thing to say. So kiss those babies, and we'll talk to you again soon.


One Grass Seed?

Will just one grass seed grow only one blade of grass? A cluster?

I don't know. There's a lot I don't know, and God has given me this child just to keep reminding me of that fact. It's beautiful, really. My Mom would say it's payback, but I prefer to think of it as beautiful.

I will, however, know the answer to this, and probably many other cosmic questions, before he leaves the nest. (Should know about the individual grass seeds in about a week.) How wonderful is that?

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 3

Self-Educating, a Few Things

Some folks feel self-educating is akin to self-medicating; to be avoided at all costs. Some things should be administered only by a trained professional.

What a shame.

I'm not saying that if you've never known the pain-free, loopy bliss of overdosing, ever-so-slightly, on codeine, you're missing out...

I am suggesting, however, that if you haven't quit saying, "Oh, I've always wanted to read/write/study/learn *insert object of star-crossed didactic desire here*," and taken up said desire, well, yeah, you're missing out. Get on it. It's better than codeine, in any dosage. Contrary to popular belief, it's also much more beneficial.

That said, there are a few pointers I'd like to share with you. These are things I've gleaned as I've begun to lay a better foundation for my own educational experiences throughout life. (Yep, "throughout". It's an ongoing process now, Baby! WOOHOO!) *ahem*

Ok, well, anyhow, just a few things I've noticed...

Thing 1
There is a general bulk of work that is recognized as the "basics" for developing a firm understanding of your cultural heritage in Western Civilization. If you were publicly educated in the US, odds are good that you either (A) have never heard of some of these books, (B) vaguely remember some teacher suggesting you read them, but you aced the test anyway so never bothered, or (C) stumbled through an in-class read-aloud of something similar by somebody with a name that sounded like that but you don't remember much except that Jason Q. in the third row couldn't pronounce half the words and you fell asleep by the second paragraph.

Do you know what that means? It means that many of the books you are going to start reading now are not going to be found in the grown-up section of the library. They're "juvenile fiction", and they're over there in the kids' section of the library.

This might bother you. It might not. I've had to get so many from there already that the teens in that corner no longer give me a look that says, "You look so young to have a teenager!" (Or perhaps they were thinking, "I haven't seen her in English class. What's up with that?" I don't know.) If it does bother you, though, you can always just put the book on hold and pick it up at the desk. Or better yet, mumble to yourself as you browse the titles, "What was that book she wanted me to pick up for her?" Eh. Either way, don't miss out on some of those titles. There's a reason we should have read them in jr. high and high school, but there's no reason not to read them now!

Thing 2
Some of the subject matter of these books you'll be reading will really wow you, and leave you thinking, "Why didn't they let us read this in high school?" My guess is that either there's a furiously stringent censorship committee at work where you went to school, or there are very few English teachers who want to spend half their time stifling the fits of giggles that ensue from some of the older vocabulary. Nonetheless, the themes, the topics, and the phenomenal writing are well, well worth the read.

Thing 3
Your spouse may, or may not, become as enamored with this journey of self-education as you will. That's ok. You can either find some like-minded individual with whom to engage in detailed analysis and discourse over your recent reading, or you can follow your spouse around, shouting excerpts through the bathroom door and demanding commentary from him/her on whatever you've just shared before you will allow said loved one out of the bathroom.

How you handle this is, obviously, entirely your call.

Thing 4
Vocabulary. Vocabulary. Vocabulary. Get a dictionary. Use Don't be shy. Ask for pronunciations. You are not alone. Most of us don't know, either, but we can find out. The point is to rectify the Not Knowing.

I hope this comes across as the encouragement I mean it to be. This isn't preaching. This is just a booster shot of, "YAY YOU! Come on! Raise that bar! RAH RAH RAH!"
Don't lose your sense of humor.
Don't take yourself too seriously.
And don't be too hard on yourself.
If you are moving, that's good, If you're moving forward, so much the better. You can break free of the "I've always wanted to, BUT" syndrome. It's not as difficult as it may seem. (And if you spent the 80's in anything near the self-effacing denial of intellect that I did, I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that it's not nearly as difficult or "dumb" as you convinced yourself it was in sophomore humanities class.)

Anyhow, Zorak has a chile cookoff tomorrow, so he's making the kitchen smell yummy. The boys are crashed in their room (Smidge happily spread out on his teeny-tiny big-boy bed). I'm going to curl up with a good book and enjoy a quiet evening.

Kiss those babies!

A Day of History

Yesterday was a momentous occasion for our clan. We had a to-the-city field trip, with Zorak, and no stress! It was lovely. Zorak has agreed that he will go with us, if I don't include him in the planning process, which I can appreciate. He spends his days at work making decisions, developing plans, and troubleshooting. When it comes to time with his family, he would like to be allowed to just come and enjoy the boys. OK.

This is only a problem because I am "the idea guy". I don't do execution well. But that's ok. Sometimes you've got to step outside your comfort zone and grow, right?

I learned a few things on this trip:

1- Mapquest LIES! You cannot get home using their directions. Or, at least, not to our home. I thought, the first two times I found myself painfully lost, that I had somehow not followed the directions. Yesterday, I had an engineer with me to verify the results, and no, it turns out that I was doing everything as directed, but the road Mapquest tells you to take ENDS, promptly and without much warning.

2- It's okay to be painfully lost if you've been there before. And it's a funny feeling to look around and say, "Oh! We're lost! Wait, it's ok! I know how to get out of from here!"

3- Zorak isn't any more comfortable with me heading into the Cities without him. This may be due to my absolute lack of fear of being lost. (You do get desensitized after a while...)

4- The volunteers at the Museum of Natural History know what little boys want to see. Little boys want to see Dinosaurs!

5- When you have been gripped by shyness and can't bring yourself to ask for the dinosaurs, it's pretty amazing to have a total stranger lean over, look you in the eye, and tell you exactly what you wanted to know!

6- Museums are so much fun with children when you let the children take the lead. You won't see everything. You won't see half of what you hoped to see. But what you see will be more fulfilling and enjoyable than anything else.

7- Even an 18 month-old baby can hang with the big boys if you're going at the children's pace. He may pass out before you pull out of your parking spot when you leave, but he can hang.

8- Go ahead and eat at one of the painfully expensive restaurants downtown before you go in. It will cost the same as eating at the McDonald's in one of the museums, but the food, atmosphere and service will be much better.

9- DC is a great visit to make when the weather is really, really bad. Parking is great and the streets are almost empty. This makes for a wonderful trip if you're not big on the whole "city-crowd" thing.

Anyhow, we had a lovely time. The boys were in heaven. Zorak and I glided along, holding hands, grinning at the boys, enjoying the day.

Today, *sniff, sniff* Smidge's crib comes down and we're putting up the toddler bed. This was wholly Zorak's idea (he doesn't want to move the crib, and would like Smidge to have a chance to get accustomed to the new bed before we turn everything upside down). I can see the logic. I can appreciate the logic. That doesn't mean I'm ready to be logical. *wink*

Kiss those babies!