Tuesday, May 31

Happy Birthday, Zorak!

Today Zorak turns three dozen and one. The boys are making cards, drawing pictures, and eager to get on to baking the cake! They zipped through their lessons with gaiety and speed, and thankfully, with a bit of accuracy, as well. Throw in a few stories, some bike riding and extensive play time with the boys' new magnifying glasses, and it's been a great morning.

Surprise phone call! I had the sweetest conversation with LB (in Seattle) yesterday as they prepared to take their first family vacation in two or three eons! She is just so uplifting and encouraging, and funny. I sure enjoyed the phone call. (Thanks, LB!) And I hope they have a safe and fantabulously magnificent vacation! Let's see if we can get her to guest blog their adventures when they return!

Our cocooning days were wonderful. We read more stories, drew more pictures, wrestled more for no reason at all. We remembered to let the boys help cook more often. We bought a gigantic watermelon to enjoy one evening this week.

Oh, and we took the boys swimming. The older two were ready for action. Smidge, however, was wound a little tight. If you were to mainline caffeine into a koala, you'd have a pretty good image of Smidge's condition for the first half of the stay. He did loosen up eventually, though, and had a wonderful time. We took stock of the things we'd like to have for the summer and made a Wally-World run: goggles, noodles, kick-board, diving sticks. The boys are excited and have promised to work on their skills. They also met and played with some of the children at the pool. Fun was had by all! Yay! This summer promises to be a lot of fun.

And now it's time to get on that cake, before the boys implode from anticipation! Enjoy this last, beautiful day of May, and kiss those babies!

*PS* I discovered we can upload pictures from the memory card to the computer via the printer! WOOHOO! I love technological progress! Who needs those pesky ol' cords, anyhow, right? So, pictures will be coming soon.

Monday, May 30

Happy Memorial Day

It doesn't take much to make me cry when it comes to things that inspire my feelings toward America. The Declaration of Independence has me in tears before I hit, "to dissolve the political bands". From that point on, I am sobbing unintelligibly all the way down to the signatures at the bottom.

Sgt. Barry Sadler's Ballad of the Green Berets has always reminded me of my brother, a three-tour VietNam Veteran and member of the 5th Group Special Forces. Now, with sons of my own, this song rings truer and closer to my heart - a feat I did not think possible.

And, of course, we suspect Lee Greenwood was genetically engineered by the MWR or the USO for the purpose of boosting moral and patriotic sentiment, the proof of which is so succinctly conveyed through his haunting and powerful God Bless the USA. *wink*

I spent a good part of today in tears.

But, aside from the Declaration of Independence, these are merely the tangibles, the symbols which bring to the forefront of our consciousness the ideals upon which the United States of America was founded, by which it has stood, and without which it would fall. There are many critics of America, and there are many supporters. For all its flaws and disagreements, however, I am so thankful to live in America.

Many people today have forgotten what a "right" is, and seem to feel comfortable substituting the phrase "my right to" for what should truthfully be "I want" or better yet, "I want someone to give me". This weighs heavily on my heart as I think of the future our sons and daughters will have. It does not portend one of freedom and equal opportunity. It does not encourage the best and the brightest in every one of us. It does not leave us protected from the same tyranny our Founding Fathers most feared, but rather invites that same detrimental power to grow and lord over us in ways unimaginable.

So tonight, in honor of Memorial Day, and what our ancestors have fought and died to provide for us, are the things we are guaranteed and provided... Our Rights.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.


Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.


Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


Recently, I've felt the need to speak out more often and more clearly on politics, but a family blog just isn't the spot to mix that in. I'll be blogging political blogs on a separate space, and this space will be rededicated to our homeschooling adventures. Granted, the two are intertwined and related in minute ways, but for the most part, this will be the last political blog on Classic Adventures.

Tomorrow's Blog: what to do when your youngest child eats the oldest one's math sheet! (OK, maybe not that... but I'll think of something between now and then.)

Happy Memorial Day!
Kiss those babies, and a Veteran!

*You can read the rest of the Amendments and other archival documents online at The National Archives Experience.*

Friday, May 27

Taking a break

I don't know if I accidentally packed my muse, or if she's run off and left me, but right now I'm running on empty: physically, emotionally, spiritually. Any attempt at serious blogging would erupt in a shameful display of adolescent angst (which leads me to guess the chemicals aren't currently combining quite at peak performance, either).

So, I apologize for the lack of documentation of the boys' doings. I know y'all out West check in to see what they're up to. They're fine. They're funny. They're growing and exploring and testing, and right on track for fine young men. Their lessons are going splendidly and I can't say enough good about the things they're doing. All is well there. And I still have no clue where the camera cord is, but I will go dump the card onto disk and upload new pictures soon.

Zorak and I are fine, and things are good. We're happy, and we giggle for no reason. Or rather, I should say, we giggle for the simple reason that it's been almost ten years of working together, learning to work together, and figuring out what to work on together. And here we are. And we giggle. We're still a little clueless, but that's ok. We're clueless together. Kinda fun.

However, it's time to cocoon and regroup with my inner introvert, who has been sadly neglected. It's time to explore more with the boys, an activity which has been pushed to the back burner for paperwork and bill transfers and other such mundane stuff. It's time to take several deep breaths and mellow out. I won't be blogging this weekend, as we'll be busy spinning a gigantic family-sized cocoon and stocking it with books and snacks for the metamorphosis. Cookies and milk blended with stories make for lovely wings, ya know.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day. Thank a vet, and enjoy your freedoms.

And kiss, snuggle, love on, and enjoy those babies!

Wednesday, May 25

Lessons, New Friends, Kinda Quiet

Lessons today were pleasant. The boys are on a roll with their math and Latin. John is writing four spelling words a day now, reading them as he goes. He's so proud of his accomplishment, and he didn't forget nearly as much during the move as I thought he would. His fine motor skills are taking off, as well, and he writes most of his assignments independently. *sniff, sniff* He's growing up.

James is writing letters to friends and family for his daily writing work. They are such a neat way to peek into his mind and see what he deems important enough to share. He desperately needs an actual science outlet. Not so much kits, but books to read. I need to spend some time browsing the library shelves and let him pick the keepers.

The boys lobbied for me to let Smidge watch The BooBahs (or whatever they're called). That took some doing. I'm resistant to change. It still bothers me that the Smurfs aren't on anymore (well, other than in syndication on cable, I know). Barney and the Teletubbies worked their way into my heart, only grudgingly, and only for the smiles they brought my boys. (Smiles and laughter from the boys can convince me to do nearly anything. I'm a sucker for those things.) *sigh* But BooBahs? Not only do I not do change well, I don't do weird change well. But Smidge really enjoys it, and I do get to read aloud with the boys without being attacked by the Atomic Elbow of the Stunted Screaming Yeti. So, I suppose they will stay. Fortunately, they're on while we do lessons. :-)

Our church held its last Wednesday night supper and Bible study of the year. We made it, had a wonderful time, and are seriously bummed that they break over the summer. The boys had a blast. I mean an all-out, filled to the gills, fantastic time. The children from their Sunday School class came running and they were off. That was neat. Even Zorak didn't find it too painful. At one point, he nodded his head emphatically at something the pastor said. I looked at him and whispered, "Are you mocking him?" He said, "No. He's right on." Oh. *awkward pause* "I'm sorry I thought you were mocking him." He smiled, "No, it's ok. Normally I would have been." So it looks like we've found a church home! Yippee!

That's about it. Today was a series of phone calls and information gathering. I did get James in for allergy screening the same day as John (I thought we'd have to trade them, but we lucked out and got a spot later in the day!) I made zero progress on getting Smidge on the grid or figuring which health plan to pick (they're all equally useless for our needs), but I did make headway with tags and driver's licenses. In all, that's productive! Not thrilling, but productive. I'll take that.

Kiss those babies!

Miscellany: stuff, wedding attire, stories

Hot dogs for supper, with the wf hot dog buns, which, incidentally, John refused to eat, because, "Mom! They taste like wheat buns!" That cracked us up. Evidently there is such a thing as being "too good" at something. Go Ener-G!

It has now been a full week since our old realtor was going to "get this straightened out", and also "track down a really great tip"... Uh-huh. And people wonder why I'm cynical? On the other hand, the couple that showed us the property where James' head exploded - they called the next morning to see if he was ok. Now that goes a long way! We're still not any closer to having any clue what's going to happen next, but that's ok. We've got our lifetime to get it straight, and in the meantime, well, this is life. We live it, even if it is among boxes and plans and changes and uncertainty. The important things are not uncertain, so it's all good.

We are (finally) getting ready to finish plans to travel out for Zorak's younger brother's wedding. (I would say "little brother", but he's 6'9"...) What in the world constitutes "semi-formal" attire for someone over (significantly over) 20? Can I get away with a nice broomstick skirt, blouse, vest and lace up ropers? Zorak is set: Wranglers, dress shirt, jacket and "the good boots". I, however, stood in the closet for all of ten seconds today before realizing I own three categories of clothing: "casual", "church", and the pre-child era "extremely formal". Yup, I'm stumped.

And did you know that Zorak descends from a noble and talented race of story-tellers? He does. It's amazing. At night, before I go in to read some canned material to the boys, he sits and tells them "Daddy Stories". These are stories from his childhood, and each night the boys howl with laughter, gasp with surprise, and squeal with delight. It's amazing. Sadly, I descend from a tribe of stuttering mimes and out-of-work gypsies. Seriously, my ancestors were thrown from the caravan because, other than a deep willingness to move a lot, they could not engage in money-making gypsy-like activity.

The boys ask for "Mommy Stories" now when I come in to read. I freeze. I don't have any cute stories from my childhood. I certainly don't have any that are appropriate for the under-drinking-age crowd. Heck, I'm still struggling with some of the stories myself and have not yet decided whether to repress them, let alone subject my children to them! But still, they ask. I tried to convince them that when I was a little girl, I bribed a guy named Paris to give me a golden apple... they didn't bite. So tonight I stumbled through a story. (Parents will do anything to please their children - I should have instead insisted that my mother's name was Rapunzel and offered to tell the story of how she met my father.) They listened politely, didn't interrupt, and were very careful not to make any noise while I spun my tale. I think John fell asleep. In other words, it didn't go well. But on the upside, I don't think they'll ask for anymore "Mommy Stories". They might even go ahead and pretend they believe me when I tell them all about how I helped Daddy find his way through the labyrinth... Ugh.

Ah, well, fortunately, they love me anyway!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 23

A Quiet Night, A Southern Lady, A New Life

We did no schooling today. Well, no, we did discuss black holes and James did math in his head while we ran errands. (I'm glad he can do it, but I wish he wouldn't ask me if he got the right answer. I have to write the numbers in the air with my finger and physically work it out - that gets hairy over, say 30 mph.) We did, however, have a great day getting ducks in rows and stuff in one sock, so to speak. (I can't remember the phrases my mother used to use for getting your things in order... she had some great phrases, though!) We dropped a wad on honey and John is in awe that James gets to suck down an entire Tablespoon at a time! I suppose when you're four and you have a retentive mother who will put jam on your toast with breakfast, but won't let you have a "jelly sandwich" for lunch, that's got to look pretty astounding.

James' eyes are back to normal size. They look pretty beat up, but they've been through a lot. Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes and information. It helps tremendously knowing y'all are out there. He's optimistic about beating this thing, and once he sets his mind to something, get on the boat or get out of the way! (We hope to keep this particular talent focused on positive things as the years progress...)

Renee, Hi! *waving* Thanks for the tip. We've been to the little place on Pratt. It's got an excellent bulk section, doesn't it? I love it. But we have to go to Food For Life, over in the Oakwood Center, for bread. Ener-G has the most "normal" wheat-free breads we've found, and the place on Pratt doesn't carry that brand. Today was a hard-core bonus day, too; they have wf hot dog buns and hamburger buns, wf donuts, and pizza crust (nobody west of Vermont carries Gillians Foods pizza crust, which ROCKS, so we tried a new brand). The folks there said it's "to die for". I'll report back on that later in the week. And I've gotta say, Santa himself couldn't have outdone me today when John saw those items in the basket.

We finally changed the oil in the Suburban, too. I know, not thrilling, but we were rapidly approaching the point of doing it ourselves. rather than having a public record of the actual mileage between changes. It's not like going to the shop that a friend from high school manages, where he just writes in "six months or nine thousand miles" on the sticky note that goes in the window... then rolls his eyes at me when I feign astonishment at such affrontery.

The afternoons have a very good feel to them, and we are so very thankful to be here. I think I've put my finger on why I feel so "at home" here, even though I haven't ever really lived in the South. My mother was a Southerner. She didn't have an accent, but she was, through and through, a Southern Lady. Living here now, I can really see the common threads...
Our dinner table always had room for one more. We always had enough food - it might not be fancy, but it was good and there was enough to share. If you came to the house more than once, you were no longer a guest; you were family. If you left hungry, it was your fault. There is no shame in being poor, only in acting like it. Dignity was huge and so was respect. Hard work meant a lot more than good intentions, but a kind word could also go a long way.
She was born in FL, then lived the majority of her childhood on a farm in TN. This all clicked with me the other day, as we drove past TN farms and I remembered going to Grandma's... suddenly my heart and head were flooded with great memories. And I realized why I feel so at home here - this is the kind of home my mother strove to create when I was a child. She would be tickled to know it worked. *happy grin* I wonder how she would feel about us living here now?

Well, the boys are down and I am going to curl up with my favorite mantis and enjoy the gorgeous evening outside!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 22

Change in Plans

I truly believe that in order to be happy, you have to remain focused on the goals, on what's important and what really matters. You have to be flexible to meet those needs and be willing to change direction to keep the important things together. Today revealed a pretty interesting twist in the plot, and it looks like we will need to sit down and rethink our entire plan for the future.

The property we looked at today is beautiful. The view is breathtaking, and the house is actually the most beautiful thing we've seen in a long, long time. The boys loved the hilly yard, the play area, the swimming pool. John and Smidge played the entire time we were there.

James also ran about, climbing and playing and laughing... for about five minutes. Then his eyes began to water and he said he'd like to wait in the Suburban. I got him settled into the Suburban, gave him some Benadryl and a book, then went back to keep an eye on the other two boys. I checked on him a few minutes later and his eyes were doing that thing again. We knew he had developed allergies, but nothing this drastic has happened since the one incident in New Mexico nearly two years ago. The ER doctor at the time had called it "an incredibly violent reaction to something". Today made incident number two, only it was a bit more violent; this time it was both eyes. The whites of his eyes swelled up and had that translucent, gelatinous texture again. They both had swelled up over the cornea; the left eyeball had begun to overlap the lower lid, and his eyelids were so puffy they had no crease at all. He could still breathe, but said his throat itched down inside. I swooped him out of the Suburban and headed into the house to wash him off, yelling up the hill for Zorak, "His eye is doing that thing again. We need to leave immediately!" We're both very thankful today wasn't the first time it ever happened! We'd have thrown the Suburban in 4LO and hit the hospital trailing fences and cattle parts from cutting straight across fields.

Bless his heart, on the way into the house James said, "Mom, if we move here, I will feel like this all the time." I know, Baby. We won't move here. We aren't doing this to make anybody suffer, and we'll find the right place for all of us. He told the realtor, "This isn't what I normally look like. I generally look much better than this." *my heart broke*

That was at three. It's 9:14 now. His left eye is still mostly swollen shut, and he's been asleep since six. We gave him as much Benadryl as we could, checked with a pharmacist, and that's about all we can do.

Obviously, it doesn't seem this boy is cut out for the pastoral life in the country. I don't know what we need to do. Neither of us wants to make him live the rest of his days ingesting antihistamines just so he can go about his work. Like every parent, we want as few obstacles in our children's way as possible. But obstacles will come. Some minor, some enormous. Our job isn't to try to keep them all out of the way, but to teach the boys how to leap each hurdle; they need to be able to gauge the ones they see coming, and react quickly to the ones they don't see coming. Therein lies our only power, and we hope the boys will learn from this that life is good, no matter what direction you're heading, as long as you can keep in sight the things that are important. (Those things will change course with you, too, when you work together.)

I hate this. Zorak hates this. We hate seeing our baby - no matter how big he is now, he still seems so small when something like this happens - suffering and know we can't make it go away. We can't "fix it" - right now. He's so patient and has such fortitude about the whole endeavor.

Tomorrow I'll call Dr. Jarvis (the NMD here) and see if we can get in earlier than the appointments we have. We will also track down a local honey source and get him taking that, as well as increase our water intake. It's going to be OK - better than OK. I do have to say, though, that it's much easier to say that when my baby is tucked safely into our bed, sleeping peacefully (and breathing rhythmically!), and showing improvement. I worry about the boys' eyes so much, and this strikes at the heart of many of our fears. But it will be ok.

Anyhow, we're off to look at alternatives, ideas and options!

Kiss those babies!

Oh, The Places You'll Go

This is probably not what Dr. Seuss meant, but we did have quite the galloping adventure today. The boys have become rather adept at house hunting. They seem to have developed an intuitive sense of what they can touch and what they cannot while we're viewing a property. They have (finally) figured out that whining in the car truly will not get us anywhere any faster (or in a better mood). They have even begun to remember details they liked or didn't like from different properties. By Jove, I think they've got it!

Today we drove many hundreds of miles (ok, almost 200, but that feels like "many"). We saw many towns with the small population marker (under 5,000 people) on the map - and a few that are nowhere to be found on the map. Thanks to my amazing navigational skills, we were afforded a view repeated views of the wildlife refuge... from a number of angles. It was beautiful. But the big excitement today is that we actually set foot on (and in) three different properties. It would have been four, but I could not understand what the listing agent was saying. He was very nice and very helpful, but I don't know how many curves in the road constitute "a few". Three counties later, we figured we'd passed it and moved on to the next property. It's ok, though, as we can always try again.

Tomorrow, after church, we venture to Tennessee to look at property there. Then Monday will bring us back to the realm of the flightless for another week of daily livin'. It's all good. I am also most likely going to start a separate blog for the homesteading posts. There are a few good reasons for this: it may be unsuitable to a homeschooling blog (pertinent parts can be shared here); as a journal for the boys, some of the tone may be inappropriate to a journal of their childhood, at least until they're older; I don't have categories and that's starting to bother me.

Wrote a letter to the editor of the Huntsville Times tonight and got that sent off. I don't know if it'll be published, but I can say it is phenomenally difficult to make any sort of a well-reasoned argument in 250 words or less, particularly when you must quote a rather wordy individual who has column inches to spare. (Incidentally, 250 words will get you through the first two paragraphs of this entry, and the first sentence following that.) But it had to be done. This week's plan is to write a letter to the City Council, as well. Whether we're on the same side of the board or not, I really love to know people get involved. Government of the people, by the people just won't work if the people won't work. Then it's no longer for the people, either - it's over the people, and that wasn't what the Founding Fathers had in mind. They wanted us to care. They wanted us to think. They wanted us to roll up our sleeves and be a living part of the process. Are you doing your part? (Not a lecture, just feeling particularly perky tonight - it's a good thing. Right up there with "Have you hugged your kids today?" and "Have you flirted with your husband lately?")

Oh, and an one other thing I wanted to say - I cannot recall hearing a single swear word in National Treasure. Wow. I need to go through it with subtitles on to be certain, but if there truly is not one single swear word, that deserves a letter of appreciation to the producers, I think. I love living in a free market, where we truly can decide what goods are of value. I just wish we took advantage of that more often. So, enough wishing, time to put my money where my mouth is, eh?

OK, I'm pretty baked and it's way past even my bedtime, so I am heading to bed. Sunday School comes awfully early in the morning, although thankfully they do have coffee. I'll fill y'all in next time on the things we found and our utter lack of imagination when it comes to "vision". It's scary.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, May 21

But it's more than just that. So much more!

Lest you think my days are filled with flipping through the Yellow Pages, searching for a Haitian Church to help with the realtor issues, I thought I'd share a bit about the rest of it.

James, AKA "The Earthworm Midwife", attended a twin birth today. When he came to the door to announce that "it happened again, Mom!" I was stunned and went searching for the camera. By the time I found it, he was happy to report, "It's twins! And they're beautiful!" We did get some cute pictures of James and his patients. We also spent about an hour watching them, and were impressed with the behavior of the mama worm. I'm not sure what I expected, but something akin to attentiveness wasn't on the list.

John rides his bike now with the training wheels seldom touching the pavement. He also goes frighteningly fast for having training wheels on there at all. Have you ever run too fast with a regular old stroller and hit that point where it becomes molecularly unstable? It's scary, and we're worried he's going to have one heck of a crash soon. So we talked with him about how well he's doing and how he balances so well and is really a great biker - general pep talk stuff. "So," I say, in my most enthusiastic voice, "It looks like you're about ready to take off those training wheels, eh?" He pursed his lips and shook his head ever so slightly. "Nope. You see, when I start to tip, it's the training wheels that catch me. If they come off, there will be nothing to catch me, and I don't even want to think about that." Oh. Well, that talk backfired.

Smidge is chunking up, and although I know it's preparation for another growth spurt, it's just so darned cute! His skinny little arms have fat rolls and his other chin reappeared this week. He's got the Buddah Belly going big-time, too. And it is just the kind of cute that makes you sick if you don't have children.

Zorak has found several things here that lead him to believe he's hit Eccentric Engineer's Mecca. (Aunt B, make sure Uncle Fred isn't in the room when you read this!) There is a Harbor Freight Tools - right here in town. The arsenal has some magnificent (just look at the gleam in Zorak's eye) auctions going on right now. And they have a farm-like equivalent to the Dandy Dime or the Thrifty Nickel, which is filled with building supplies, overstocks, weird remnants, tractors, welders... whatever you could want if you're so inclined to make stuff out of other stuff. Zorak can't wait to close on a place and start bidding. I am afraid. Very afraid. (But there is a lot of neat stuff... *shhhh*)

This morning we awoke to the most magnificent thunderstorm. The rain came down in torrents and the breeze was heavenly. The boys and I sat on the patio watching the birds hide in the trees and waiting for the lightning to subside so we could go play in it. (The lightning kept up until the rain stopped, so we didn't venture out, but we did have a lovely time of it.) We look forward to a great weekend together, exploring our new Home Town! Hope you guys enjoy yours, as well.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, May 20

AL Realtor Rant, 5/20

Realtor Rant, AL 5/21

Curiouser and curiouser. After the white rabbit donned her capri pants and heeled slip-ons, she ducked behind her righteous indignation, claiming she never told the Queen of Hearts not to...

No. Wait. I am so confused. Oh well, OFF with her head! (You can never be too careful with these things.)

"Our" realtor called yesterday to see how it went up north. She made the observation that my response seemed "not thrilled" - for why? So I explained that we, once again, could not see the house, and explained why. Of course, according to her, she never said such a thing. The listing agent doesn't know what she's talking about. The same thing with the occupant of the property. That listing agent has no idea what's going on or who lives where! (Hmmm, yet the listing agent was sitting with the family in the yard when we'd pulled up... and she hopped in their old, 4x4 pickup to drive us around the property... but perhaps she has a tendency to sit in strangers' yards when she has nothing better to do and take off with their vehicles when she tires of that?) Then she dove right into personal attacks on the other realtor. Yup, ya just lost me. That was, quite honestly, even less professonal than the Ducati guy in Richmond. At least he just ignores his customers and doesn't go off badmouthing other Ducati dealers while refusing to do his job. *sigh*

So we took the good advice we've received and today I called listing agents to see their homes. Every single one of them wanted to know if I wanted them to "look around" and send other things our way. Many were very good about it when I reminded them that we're taking a break from "working with" a realtor. Others were quite pushy and irritating about it. "Why not? Are you sure? We could just pull these up for you and we can help..." Ok, in a word: no. Unless you have an exclusive listing that's not in the MLS database, you really aren't going to do anything we haven't been doing for three months already. Not only do I have zero desire to go through the whole flow chart of our priorities with every. single. person. I speak with today, but did you not catch that nifty little phrase in my introduction? Let me go over that again, "Hi. My name is Dy. We are looking for property and have been working with a realtor, but it's not going well at all, so we would like to look independently for a while. We would like to see your listing *insert MLS number here*. When can you show that to us?"

One gal's voice cracked when she said, "You mean you don't want me to send you any listings if they aren't from my office?" Yes, that's correct. She barely whispered, "I'm just trying to help." I thought she was going to cry, and I'm on the other end thinking, "No! There's no crying in real estate!" Ugh. I'm not trying to be a meanie. I just want a house.

We'll see what the weekend turns up. There are eight properties which we've told the ex-realtor we'd like to see. We have told her repeatedly that we would like to see them. I've asked for appointments three times just since we've been back, and we have yet to see any of them, nor have more information on them. She's been too busy finding thoroughly useless listings to press on us. So we'll do it ourselves and let the whole of the commission go to whoever can do his job without being a weenie.

Oh, and for the record, Amy really didn't do this to us. She's a scapegoat. It's realtor-gate and we needed somebody to pin this on, because the idea that this may be Karmic is, well, terrifying.

Hopefully the next Realtor Rant will be a Realtor Rave! :-)
Here's hoping,

Thursday, May 19

What a Wonderful World

Zorak and I used that song for our wedding processional (it went well with the bagpipes for the recessional), and to this day, I get weepy when I hear it. It means more now, because when I look around I see not only Zorak, but a house filled with a family - my family. There are children scattered all over the floor and remnants of their presence evidenced in every room of the house. Whether it's the latest Lego creation on display or a drawing left on the kitchen table, I see that we are fully, unquestionably, and definitely a family. What A Wonderful World, indeed.

We watched National Treasure earlier this week and decided to let the boys watch it with us later in the week. They fell in love with it, with the codes and the sheer adventure. James thinks Riley is the best character in the whole movie. And John's reaction to the scene (trying hard not to spoil the movie if you haven't seen it) where Nicholas Cage's character breaks out the pipe was priceless. He gasped aloud and said, "THAT man is a GENIUS!" Zorak and I cracked up. It's become a key phrase in the house this week.

The week ended nicely (house hunting aside) with a family trip to the park, plenty of bike rides (I am going to have monstrous Popeye-style forearms from pulling that wagon - Smidge needs to learn to ride a bike soon) and plenty of stories and things to learn and do. When, at the end of the day, we can look back and bring more smiles than sighs, it has been a good day, indeed. That there are more good days than bad is a gift I never dreamed possible.

Enjoy your Friday, and kiss those babies!

Realtor Rant: The Alabama Chapters

Oh, for the love of all things chocolate! What is wrong with these people? Do you have to submit to - and fail - some kind of psychological exam to get your realtor's license? OK, I know that's not true because we've had friends and family who had their real estate licenses and they were perfectly functional and downright pleasant. No, it's something about the magnetic field Zorak and I emit that draws the wonky ones to us, like bugs to a zapper.

So, allow me to fill you in a bit. We came to Alabama. We asked around. We received glowing recommendations on this one realtor. Zorak and I both left his office with her name from three different folks. They LOVED HER! We called her and spoke about our plans. We gave her our parameters: over twenty acres, under $X amount, we plan to do organic agriculture on the place, and we do not like new construction at all - it's not a good thing for us. She clicked, she got it. She was in the game, maaaannn! She even showed us one property that I'd have probably bought on the spot (it was so mountainous and lovely!), but which she pointed out wasn't quite what we wanted unless we planned to raise lopsided cattle with tremendous balancing skills. But it fit all the other criteria, and we really thought we had a winner. We headed back over the wall with great anticipation over the place she would help us find.

She called and said, "I have the place you are going to buy. It is perfect!" This was what I call "the first" - it was the first indication that we'd somehow failed to communicate our desires to this woman. It had less acreage than we wanted. It cost more than the limit we'd set. And the house was built in 2004. I gently explained the, erm, "drawbacks" to this property and how it really isn't what we want - at all. We thought she'd been recalibrated. Evidently you cannot undo a lobotomy.

So she emailed me a listing: even smaller than the first (so we're down to half the acreage)! Even newer than the first (have to work hard to do that)! And about $60 grand more expensive than the first (so now we're at double our original ceiling)!

No, no, nooooo. (And, speaking very slowly, I spelled it out.) How about this one? You know, with this MLS number, in this county, on this road. Can we see this one? It took her fifteen minutes to find the property, even with that information and a computer, but she finally found it and agreed to show us.

Sunday afternoon she picked us up in her shiny 2wd Yukon and drove us an hour north of here to look at a property. 85 acres of land, crappy old house, and in our price range. Perfect! We went with the full intention of being sold on the place. We called her the day before to request she bring a plat and a topo map and to make sure we had access into the house so we could see what condition it's in. That all seems so eerily straightforward, doesn't it? You'd think...

No. There's no lockbox on the house and it's in the middle of nowhere in Alabama, so naturally it was unlocked. But the tenant wasn't home, so we couldn't go in. Well, I'd have gone in, since she swore they knew we'd be there to see the place, but she wouldn't let me in.

Ok, let's look at the property. Oh. You have no topo map? You have no plat? You don't know where the property lines are? Well, here's a pond by the house. Is this part of the property? You don't know... huh. Ok. Barn? No. Pasture? No. Is there anything at all about this place you can tell us?

"YES! There's a back entrance to the property!" So we all hop into the shiny 2wd Yukon (I want you to remember this part) and drive down the road "a ways" (which is a legal definition in the really cool counties to live in!), make a turn and... she doesn't know which gate is the one to the property. And with no plat, no map, and no idea what she's doing... we weren't going to find it, either. We did see a neglected field with tracks running through it. The land was flat pasture. The land was dry, flat pasture. But she can't go down that road, because, "Oh, this is only a two wheel-drive." Good heck, woman! I'd take a Yugo down that road! No no. Let's go home. Would you like to make an offer on that place this afternoon or later this week?

Are. You. Kidding. Me. (No, I'm not joking. She honestly started in with the high-pressure sales pitch. On a property we haven't technically seen. At all. Riiiiight. Sign us up!)

Fast forward to today. Zorak gets off work, we load up in the Suburban (because I had insisted that we drive ourselves, you know, in our 4-wheel-drive vehicle) to go look at the property with the listing agent. Our realtor bailed on us this afternoon, claiming she had "fires to put out". OK, that's fine. The last time we went to walk the property she'd showed up in heels and capri pants. Zorak, the boys and I had jeans and boots, but she made a point of telling me, "And this time, you really need to dress appropriately for getting out and walking around." So, truthfully, I'm not terribly bummed that she isn't going to be there today.

We arrive. We get out there and drive the property. We climb out and walk the property. This lady seems to be a bit more on the ball (but they all seem that way at first, so we're leery). She showed us the barn, the ponds, and... she couldn't show us the house. Oh no. Our agent had told her specifically that we have no interest in the house and not to show it to us. She thought that was a little odd, and double checked, but claims "our" realtor was insistent. So. Um, yeah. We didn't get to see the house again. Like my going from door to door, trying each of them last time wasn't an indicator that I'd like to get in there? As if my nose prints on the grime of each and every window didn't tip her off? What the...??? The listing agent laughed and said, "Well, yeah, I thought it was weird, too, but she was so adamant about it I let it drop."


We need a new realtor. No, what we really need is a cattle prod and a bottle of muscle relaxants. But since that would probably not serve us well when the police confiscated the contents of the Suburban, I am going to have to just get another bottle of Rescue Remedy (I've sucked the last one dry, licking the dropper like a starving kitten) and find something funny in all this.

I wish we knew the secret code of Realtorese that would land us somebody who could help us. It really chaps my hide to think somebody is going to make more off the sale of whatever we buy than Zorak makes in a month - for doing pretty much nothing but irritate me and make me question my sanity. I have sisters who would do that for f-r-e-e, darnit.

There's more, but this is too long already. Now that you're mostly caught up, future Realtor Rants (Alabama Chapters) will be significantly shorter. I'll end tonight with a song, and apologies to Waylon and Willie...

Mamas, don't let yer babies grow up to be realtors.
Realtors ain't easy to like and they're harder to know.
They'd rather string you along to get that place sold,
New berber carpet and fresh painted kitchens
Add to that commission each day.
If you don't like this one, and you won't just buy it,
They'd rather you just go away.

Mamas don't let yer babies grow up to be realtors.
Don't let 'em quote prices and push all them features,
Let 'em be ruthless old lawyers and such.
Mamas don't let yer babies grow up to be realtors.
They're never at home and they're always alone.
Even with interest rates low....

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 18

Good morning, all!

Well, it's Wednesday. I can't believe our week is half-over. And I have no idea what we'll do for the weekend. The boys and I cleaned the Suburban yesterday. We worked for two hours to get all the peripherals of moving removed from inside. Then we vacuumed. It was well worth it! Funny how something so simple can make such a big difference.

The boys and I are heading out this morning to explore a bit, hit the market (I feel like we're hitting the market a little too often, but then I remember we're restocking an entire home with food... and three boys eat a lot of food. Ahh, yes, that's better.) Then we'll go hiking or to the park.

I cannot tell you how absolutely gorgeous the weather has been this week! I may wait until after September, but I just might get a weather pixie. (Gotta wait because the humidity information is something I just don't need to be reminded of every time I sit down at the computer.) At any rate, I'd planned to take the boys swimming this week, but it simply hasn't been hot enough to warm the pools. Yes, a heated pool is a waste of energy, but it's oh-so-nice!

I think we're meeting the Realtor this afternoon at the property we've been looking at. Supposedly, she's now found someone who knows where the property boundaries are and has the legal survey on hand to prove it. (It's 84 acres. No, it's 95. I don't think that pond next to the house geso with the house. I have no idea where the eastern boundary ends...) Yeah, that'd be nice, considering the Realtor is already pushing us to put in an offer on the property (b/c, don't ya know, "someone else is also looking at the property" - isn't there always someone else looking at property in real estate? *groan*). Um, well, you see, we would like to know what we're buying, specifically, before we agree to a 30-year serfdom on the place.

The Mistress has been earning her keep, but now she's developed a hole in her diaphragm. We have a few sets of those on order. Zorak rebuilt the carburetor last night in the kitchen so he could get to work this morning. That's when he found the offending parts. Spiffy new o-rings and all manner of non-gooky new parts later and she started up this morning, but he thinks the diaphragms may be what's causing her to idle high when she gets warm. I found last night I didn't resent her need for attention nearly as much as before. Perhaps that's because the ratio of effort:results has shifted since we've been here? At any rate, Zorak was very happily getting into the Zen of his Motorcycle Maintenance. And I enjoyed watching him work. That's a rhythm I've missed terribly over the last year and a half. It's one we hope to recapture and this time, keep.

Lessons are going well, and we're enjoying the newfound pace and feel of that, as well. Everything, actually, just feels very "right". It's not perfect, but it's headed that way. Or rather, it's headed toward the point we'd like to reach - not perfection, but contentment - contentment in it's happiest form. It feels good to be headed that way.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 17

The Learning Curve

For me, it's huge. I have just finished reading Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir, which I've been reading in tandem with The Medieval Machine - The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages (hey Sarah, has Rainer read that one? Thoughts?)

I have to say right off the bat that I'm not enthralled with the Middle Ages. I don't have a "thing" for the chivalric code or knights or ladies and castles. I have no desire to be swept back in time to an era where I could be abducted, violated, tossed aside, and then held accountable for no longer retaining my purity. (The more I read, the more I'm thinkin' "Well, no WONDER so many women were barren by the time they hit 25! GOSH!") I enjoy, appreciate, and truly value the rights, priviledges, and freedoms bestowed upon me as a woman in the 21st Century. Ew.

However, that said, reading these two books together was fascinating. It was nice to get a glimpse into that period which looked deeper than the stereotypes of the age. I enjoyed reading in detail the activities of the people and the economic and industrial development of the region in context with the political climate and the social systems in place at that time. The experience was far more fascinating than I'd given the Middle Ages credit for, I'll tell you that.

So this got me thinking, and I have some truly exciting ideas stuck in my head and completely incapable of making it out in one piece just before midnight. Sorry. But anyway, if you get the niggling to try something like this (combining two facets of history in a tandem reading session), please share with us what you read and what you thought! I think a reading list along these lines has the potential to make one phenomenal logic or rhetoric stage history/economics/sociology study!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 16

Cake and Coffee

Hi guys. The cyber cake was much appreciated. Thanks, from clear across the internet.

Today we worked on attaining "normalcy" once more. The boys worked on their math skills, because girls only like guys with skills**.

We read the story of the Olmecs Heads and looked up pictures of them online. 20 tons of something that actually exists in one chunk is mighty impressive when you are six and four! As always, thank you, Susan Wise Bauer!

Latin today was a preposition review and intro to pronouns. We did the lessons, then ran about doing situational things (Look! I'm under the table! Hee hee! I'm beside the couch. Smidge is under the shelves!)

And now, for a PSA:
Take time today to discuss with your children the dangers of Pronoun Abuse. It's a serious malady, and the cause of many confusing conversations. Scientists speculate that boats have run aground and Kingdoms have fallen due to Pronoun Abuse. Pronoun Abuse is defined as,
"the act of omitting from speech all nouns to which a pronoun may refer, thus rendering the entire task of identifying 'who, what, where' solely on the shoulders of the pronoun itself".
Those poor pronouns simply cannot do their job as well as the extra work of the nouns themselves. The pronouns are small and inadequately prepared. It's too much for them, and suddenly, the whole sentence structure breaks under the strain. Conversations go awry. Entendres are lost forever. Directions are rendered useless.

On a personal note, the boys are at risk for developing this problem, as their father is a notorious abuser of pronouns. I love him, and almost always, sort of, mostly understand him. But this isn't about us. It's about the future. While studies have not ascertained with certainty whether Pronoun Abuse is hereditary, we do feel early intervention is the only hope. Speak to your children about pronoun abuse. Do it early. Do it often. God bless.
:: End PSA ::

Oh, and we had a birth here! I need some information on this, because it came as a bit of a surprise - mostly to James, in whose hand the birth occurred. We saw an earthworm flying across the dirt yesterday. Now, when I say "flying", I don't mean "fast for a worm," I mean, "this thing was hauling". The boys, naturally, touched it, and the thing turned on them, flinging and thrashing. It was incredibly strange. I have never, in my life, seen an aggressive earthworm. Finally, James "tamed" it. (Scared it into submission, pick your phrase.) And the boys enjoyed examining it, trying to feed it, and drawing pictures of it. Suddenly, James screamed:
James: MOM! The worm *speaking far to fast for me to understand this part, mumble, mumble* ...IN MY HAND!!!
Me: It what?
James: The worm just gave birth in my hand!
Me: No it didn't honey. I don't know how worms give birth, but...
James: Seriously, Mom. LOOK! (John is hopping around us, singing Happy Birthday)

I looked and, sure enough, there was the original worm, and a very, very tiny second worm. OK. That's just weird. James described what happened as follows:
The worm just started getting bigger and thicker and then suddenly, that little one just popped right out of it. Right there, in my hand!
John stopped singing long enough to confirm that yes, that's how it happened.
I can't find any information on "live" worm births. Google results (for the google-impaired) returned only photos of births from little cocoons or worm-pods, but no from-the-worm births. Anybody ever seen this before? I felt bad for doubting his sincerity, but did get to share the Dorky Parental Response Award when the boys ran inside to tell Zorak and Zorak's knee-jerk reaction was, "Oh Wow! That is disgusting!" Heh, heh.

So, in all, another good day. It was gorgeous outside, but trying to get John outside to play was like trying to get someone to invite Carrie to the prom just one more time, ya know. I don't know what's up with that.

Here's to a lovely week for everyone!

Kiss those babies!

** (*sigh* I really did not like that movie, but the lines have infiltrated my home and we can't make them stop!)

Sunday, May 15

This is the wall that Mommy hit...

With apologies to... whomever.

This is the wall that Mommy hit.

This is the mess that covered the dress
in front of the wall that Mommy hit.

This is the meal, left out, not sealed
approaching the wall that Mommy hit.

This is the heat that spoiled the meat
in the car near the wall that Mommy hit.

This is the child who's gone slightly wild
atop the wall that Mommy hit.

These are the miles sans markers and stiles
which pass the wall that Mommy hit.

These are the sites for chiggers and mites
around the wall that Mommy hit.

This is the clock, thrown like a rock,
too early to see the wall that Mommy hit.

This is the day she ran away
but there...

there was the wall that Mommy hit.


Doing great, but covered insane distances of land with small children, bad maps, Titan-inspired rain storms, missing snack containers, and a pinched sciatic nerve. Zorak is settling in at work, and it is good. The boys are making their niches, and it is good. Really, it is all good, it's just exhausting. And I?

I am dying for coffee, cake, and conversation with another adult. Wouldn't that be loverly? I mean, first I'll have to back up and dust myself off a bit. These walls can make quite a mess when you're not paying attention and smack right into them, but it would be so nice.

Kiss those babies! (And then somebody put on a pot of coffee and call me!)

Friday, May 13

Friday Night Fundown!

Today went quickly. James is surprisingly healthy and on-the-go. I'm so thankful for that. Not a word of complaint out of him today, and this evening he wrestled with Zorak. I'm thinkin' I really like the arnica cream/dermoplast combo!

We took the day off to build forts in the living room, run amok like small tribal cheiftains, read like librarians gone mad, and just enjoy each other. It was a great day with the kids.

Tomorrow we're heading out to explore. Sunday we'll check out the new church and then go peek at a property that shows some promise. Funny how the mention of a property that's "for-sale-by-owner" will yank a wayward realtor back into line rather quickly. Here's hoping!

It's good, guys. It's really good. Zorak is a happy dragon-slaying mantis. Critters one, two and three are happy and active. I am very thankful for all of it, including air conditioning. Especially air conditioning. It's hard to believe we've just been here a week.

Anyhow, tonight Zorak and I are going to kick back with a movie and some peace and quiet, reflect on the new digs, and pass out before the movie is over.

As always, kiss those babies!

Thursday, May 12

Specto bike wreck, art and family. Wee!

Look! Blogging before midnight! What an odd sensation...

Latin was great today. The boys made their first "sentence": Specto septem lunae. Ok, so we don't technically have seven moons to look at. But it's a J-Brothers Original, and they took the initiative. Oh, and Smidge joined in with us today, uttering "dom-ae, nos" every once in a while. Zorak may never admit in public that he knows me if this child speaks Latin before he speaks English...

OK. The skinny on the Art Museum is simple: we are in love. The displays are great, there is plenty of room to back up, walk forward, back up again. They have a wonderful setting for the Audubon birds, an interactive selection of books to accompany William Joyce's art, and docents to die for. So there goes one membership slot!

The boys reactions were funny. James put his hands on his hips, looked around the Audubon gallery, and said, "So, these are the ones he didn't destroy, huh?" We read a biography of James John Audubon earlier in the year and evidenly James was impressed (either positively, or he was dismayed, either way it made an impression) that for many years, Audubon would save his sketches for an entire year and then, deeming them unfit to be seen, he would burn each and every one at the end of that year.

John fell in love with the modern art display, particularly the sculptures. Smidge even handled it well, considering... well, just considering. He's one and can't touch anything. How fun can that be? Plus, I was a bit high-strung today in general, which probably didn't help.

We came home for lunch and our first major bike wreck. So much for my master plan to enjoy giving them more space and freedom. Now I plan to ensconce them in bubble wrap and keep them chilled for the next 20 or 30 years. Oh, alright, not really. But it is tempting. We are way in the back of the complex, and there is a parking nook between two buildings. We have three windows that open directly into the nook, and at its most packed there are three cars parked in it, one of which is ours. So when the boys asked if they could ride on the black (meaning the asphalt) while I put Smidge down for his nap, I wrangled and wrestled with my inner control freak and finally decided that by opening ALL the windows so I can hear what's going on, giving both boys whistles to blow if they need help, reminding them that "no adult will ever need the help of a child when Mommy isn't right there", making them recite the safety rules, the behavior rules, and the Code of Hammurabi, it would be ok.

I peeked in on them and they were fine. I heard no fighting, no cars, and no tears. Twenty minutes after they went out, James came in through the patio door. He was slathered in blood. I'm talking B-rate movie special effects quantity of blood. His chin looked like it was off-center by about half an inch (turned out to be swelling and his chin is still where God intended it to be). He said to me, very calmly, "Mom, I lost my balance. And, um, I think I'm bleeding pretty bad." I honestly do not know how he managed to do this much damage to his body by simply tipping over on his bike. It's a short bike! He has scrapes on the right side of his face, his chin is torn up something fierce, both forearms, a quarter-sized gouge out of his right thigh, gashes on the inside of his left ankle, and when I helped him switch out his shirt for a fresh one, his upper body looks like that of a prize fighter! Good heck, child! Thankfully, nothing is broken or chipped or gaping. It's mostly superficial, although that chin is gonna hurt for a while. *shudder*

He has been a trooper about the whole thing, and even joked with Zorak that he lost his balance but thinks he can find it again. I'm glad he's getting back on that horse - he's far more daring and self-confident than I was at his age, I can tell you that. Zorak, of coure, knew just how to handle it when he got home, and showed James all the cool scars he has from bike wrecks he had as a little boy. It helps to know Dad survived childhood, too.

I called churches this morning and found one we will try on Sunday. The secretary is wonderfully friendly, although her math is a bit off. She said they have about 100 members, probably 50 families in all. And tons of children. Huh. That's weird. Maybe the aren't counting the children? She did say they have only two teens in their "youth group" right now, but have a large brood of children in the boys' ages. At any rate, aside from the quantitative confusion, the qualitative results of the initial visit were encouraging. I'll let you know how it goes.

And that, my friends, is about all the news I can handle today. I'm going to bed.

Kiss those babies!


I am so not filled with clever titles today. It happens.

So I goofed, big time. Zorak took the Suburban this morning since he had a meeting and... well, I don't know why that necessitated the Suburban, but it did, and that's ok. We were going to the Huntsville Museum of Art today, and he was going to bring us the Suburban after the meeting so we could go. Meeting was at eight. Around noon, I gave him a jingle on his cell phone, thinking he'd gone to lunch with his boss or something and had forgotten. He whispered, "No. It's still going on." Oh! I am SO so so sooo sorry, honey. I felt like such a nerd for interrupting his meeting. Well, come to find out it wasn't a normal meeting kind of meeting, it was an all-day affair. It still wasn't over at five, but he gave up and came home anyway. He doesn't really know what the meeting was about, either. I'm guessing his day was worse than ours, even with the postponed museum trip.

Twenty guesses what we're doing tomorrow. *grin*

John has begun planning his birthday party. He remembers James' fifth birthday party (but doesn't remember his own fourth birthday, which was a year later, go figure) and wants it to be good. Tonight he filled me in on some of the details. The cake should say, "To: John", and the candle needs to be the numeral five, not five individual candles. He would really like ballons, too. I can't believe he's so excited to turn five. This is the first year. Ever. Normally there are tears and protests and pleas not to make him change his age. Not this year, though. He is ready to be FIVE.

Smidge has become quite vocal this week. He roams about talking animatedly to anyone, even himself. He's actually trying to communicate verbally, which is handy, to be honest. It's still mostly elvish, but I think he may tackle English before summer's out.

James has eased up on John (hallelujah!) and is enjoying life quite a bit more now. He's taking on more along the lines of problem-solving and creative adjustment, as well. For all the worry I expend on that child, thinking we ruined him in our parenthood learning curve, when I watch him as he goes about his days I am assured that he's going to be just fine.

Both the older boys have taken to their sketch pads with a passion. They've been out daily, drawing tree bark, flowers, grass, weeds and bugs. I have no idea what John draws. It's still wholly indecipherable and we spend a lot of time having the, "Oh, this is lovely! Tell me all about it!" discussions. But when I consider this is the child who did not color, did not so much as doodle - would not use a crayon or draw w/ a marker - until he was nearly four, I'm really quite happy with his progress. At this point, his enthusiasm will more than make up for his lack of experience. He loves doing it now, and that's what we're after. James is learning the arts of observation and recreation. He's getting the hang of it, and I can usually figure out what he's drawn. Today he was thrilled to discover he can really do this well (always an exciting thing for him). I think I'll throw the sketch pads into the bag before we leave tomorrow, just in case the muse strikes.

Oh, I also put my foot in my mouth today. Mid-morning, I ushered everyone outside to play. Two and a half minutes later, John headed inside. He didn't want to be outside. It's hot. I laughed and reminded him, while herding him back out the screen door, that summer is coming and it's only going to get hotter, so we'd better acclimate to it now. So he turned to me and said, "I want you to come outside and play with me." WHAT? Are you kidding? It's hot out there! *awkward silence* Shall we read a story and have a snack, kids?

That's about it. No news from the Realtor on the one property we asked to see. Hmmm, do you see a Rant gathering on the horizon? If I thought changing realtors would help, I would, but I'm not feeling optimistic about that. It may be a very good thing that the apartment is so nicely appointed...

Anyhow, kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 10

Evil Amy, Personal Space, and Math

Alright, Amy, it's not funny anymore! You just may get more of the Realtor Rants you so enjoyed from before. Our realtor, it seems, in spite of my fairly clear-cut (and, dare I say, articulate?) email explaining the mojo/ghost/glamor bath thing (I didn't mention your bizarre bathroom experience, though), has seen fit to send me a link today with the caption, "Take a look at this!" So. I looked. And I growled and said a few things I seriously hope the boys don't repeat. Less than half the acreage we told her was our "minimum", for TWICE the amount of money we set as the ceiling!! Wow, is somebody bad in math or what?

Speaking of math, the boys are having a great time diving into lessons, but the math lessons in particular are just plain wonderful. John's skip counting and addition skills are taking off. James danced gleefully around the table today because I "let" him do an extra page of math. Ah. May it always be this easy, right? Don't covet, our bad days will come. It's cyclical, but I've learned to really roll around in the good parts like a dog let loose in a field.

And now, for a note on our personal space. There isn't any, you see, and I'm starting to feel the effects of it. This problem is due to no fault of my great children or of my wonderful Zorak. It's just that, wherever you turn, there's someone. Right there. In your face (or, in Smidge's case, in your kneecaps). I have decided to start walking (I don't run unless I'm followed by malicious creatures with teeth) in the mornings, but that will entail getting to bed before the morning to begin with. So as you can see, we do have some adjustment left to make. It's all good, though, and will come together soon.

Oh, and a little geography tidbit for ya: I cannot gauge altitude. When asked to take a stab at the elevation of Huntsville, I thought, I speculated, and I came up with the reasonable (or so I thought) guess of 3500 feet. *snort* WRONG! 600 feet. I forget that things aren't as tall this side of Texas. When you live ON the ocean, it's pretty easy to guess the elevation of your backyard (ours was something like three feet below sea level). But this totally blew me away. It's so pretty and seems so textured with mountains and valleys. Huh. You can do a lot with just a thousand feet or so of leeway!

Kiss those babies!

I don't want to do that again!

The amorphous blob that is everything we own, strewn in boxes here and there, I can handle. The dust on everything from being boxed and moved, I can handle. The total upheaval and chaos that has been the last two weeks, I can handle. But I never want to be without internet access again! Here's an excerpt from conversations in our home:

John- Mommy, has anyone taken pictures of the Nazca drawings?
Me- Oh, yes, Sweetheart, I'm sure there are pictures of them.
John- Can we see them?
Me- Sure! Let's look them up on the computer... um, when we get it reconnected.

James- Mommy, when surgeons amputate an arm, how do they reconnect the arteries so the blood doesn't pool at the bottom of the stump?
Me- Wow, great question! I don't know, but why don't we see if we can look it up?
James- *uncertainly* On the computer???
Me- Uh, yeah. *pause* You know, when it's hooked up again.

*phone rings*
Me- Hello?
Relative- Hey! Did you see the pictures of Bobby I sent you?
Me- No. Where did you mail them?
Relative- I emailed them.
Me- Oh. Then no, I haven't seen them. But I'm sure he's adorable.

Zorak- Honey, did you pay the insurance bill?
Me- Erm... um...
Zorak- Let me guess, you pay that online?
Me- Yes... but that one didn't get paid before we left.

Zorak- Sweetheart, when is your next article due?
Me- *blank stare* I have no idea.

All-in-all, I can't complain. Life is great and the move has gone exceedingly well. But man, oh man, do I miss the internet! We have a lot to look up and do this week!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, May 6

Hey, Hey, Hey!

We made it! Zorak went into super-psycho-unloading mode when we arrived, and although we pulled into the complex after four on Tuesday afternoon, that Budget truck was e-m-p-t-y before we went to bed. It's taken me until yesterday evening to undo the transfer to the apartment. *grin*

All is well here. The boys went fishing with Daddy while I slipped off to the library. Funny story about finding the library... this is the first place I've ever lived where "the library" is treated as an urban legend rather than an actual place. I can't tell you how many people respond to the question, "Hey, where's the library from here?" with, "Oh, I have no idea. I don't know if we have one... um, I think there's one in downtown Huntsville..." OK, this is funny because there are six, yes, SIX libraries in the area. Not one of 'em is easy to find, but I think a lot of that on my part is that I start oogling the horizon and the pastures and suddenly *poof* I'm in Decatur or closing in on the TN border. (Hey, I have never claimed to have superior navigational skills!) However, this branch, which is supposedly a small one, is absolutely lovely. The people are friendly, there are close on a gazillion books, and it's internet speed is rockin'! Wow!

So, um, what's up here? Well, lots of stuff, and nothing much. I'm sure nobody wants to hear about sifting through the kitchen boxes, making trade-offs on what to keep boxed and what to leave out... but, well, that's pretty much been it.

Oh. Guess what? With rabbit ears on the TV, we can get UPN, PBS and FOX. Hee hee. Zorak and I vegged out in our room the other night, eating pecan pies and watching TV: That 70's Show, King of the Hill, Malcom in the Middle. It was fun, but I'm even more certain now that we don't need cable. The brain - ok, our brains - just can't handle the temptation. But, it was fun while it lasted.

Let's see, Smidge developed a honkin' fever on the drive out (didn't have a thermometer on me, but he was hot-hot, as in, scary-hot, and lethargic. Joy.) We pulled over, gave him some 'nuggles and doped him up with fever reducer and kept an eye on him the rest of the trip. Don't know what he had, other than a serious case of "I-CAN'T-TAKE-ANY-MORE-OF-THIS-I'M-LITTLE-YOU-KNOW!" But the fever broke before we stopped for the night and he's been ok since. On the plus side, he slept for most of the two day trip, as well as reverting back to a mongo three-hour nap each day this week. He's also stopped nursing down for the night. He just heads to bed with his usual enthusiasm, blows good-night kisses and snuggles in. That's it. G'nite!

James and John. Um. Threads. Seams. Popping. Sedation. I am quite thankful I am not a single parent right now. I love my children and will love them through this, this is one of those shining examples of how two-parent child-rearing can really pay off. If the boys aren't thankful for Zorak now, they will be one day when they realize all he's done for them during this move.

They are enjoying their newfound freedom with the bikes, exploring the lake, taking off in new directions with their interests and energies. And I am afraid I will have to renegotiate my inner boundaries to reflect more appropriately the changes the boys are going through. Truthfully, I don't wanna! But it's time. I can see that, and while I'd love to keep 'em little forever, I don't want to deprive them of the joy and accomplishment of growing into the fine men they're meant to be. Isn't it our job to encourage that and nurture it? Yes, even when it makes me weepy and grouchy. Even then. They are growing so well, popped stitching and all.

Zorak is happy. Big happy. Joyful. Chipper, even. Occasionally he emits a little "woohoo", which can be somewhat distressing in the middle of the night, or if you don't know he's just come onto the patio. But that's ok. It's a good noise. It's a happy Zorak.

We'll have internet access at the house on Monday. I think. Maybe. We'll see. But now that I know where the library is, I can slip down here and say howdy from time to time until we get set up at the house.

K, that's all I have time for now. Gotta let some other tax-payer enjoy the fruits of pooled resources. Thank you for the well-wishes and traveling mercies. The Suburban behaved, we had clean beds, warm food, and joyful time together. I appreciate the prayers. Will see you shortly!

Kiss those babies!