Sunday, November 27

I took photos specifically to post tonight!

Then I left the camera at the house. Drat. It's nothing terribly exciting, but I thought it was beautiful: cold water rushing from the bathroom faucets! Cold water filling the commode tank! We got some cute ones of the boys, too, but will save those for their engagement parties one day. *wink*

So. We have heat, water, and a toilet. My life is complete. The rest will fall into place. As Zorak pointed out, we can't quite call it "instant" gratification, but we're to the point of tangible results with each new day. That'll work.

The apartment is almost completely packed and what little is left is ready to load and move. And, of course, it's going to rain for the next two days, then snow and rain. *smile* (I have to smile, or I might cry.) Thank heaven for tarps!

Y'all keep saying you couldn't do this, but you know, you could. You really could. If you saw the place, with the sunlight glinting off the dew, heard the deer rustling around in the brush at dusk, and felt the warmth of the wood stove on your chilled toes, you'd probably be even less whiney about the process than I am (in real life). As for roughing it, we don't really rough it (other than the outhouse action). Tonight we had grilled chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes for supper. We washed it down with hot coffee (gatorade for the boys), and enjoyed music with our supper (gotta love a clock/radio!) That's not so bad. I think most of us had it harder in college, trying to digest week-old pizza washed down with warm Dr. Pepper. Really, when you're working toward a dream, and you're doing it together, things become completely do-able. It just has to be your dream, and your team, to make it feel that way.

And I also must 'fess up here, and say that it's all Zorak. He's the man behind the action. Lately I just waddle around, playing gopher and, occasionally, apprentice. (Like tonight, I got to play with the plumber's putty!) Mostly, though, I sit and hand him things and groan when the baby jams a leg up my esophagus. I put things back and vacuum a lot. Pretty useless, to be honest. He's the one hashing out the codes and whether there's a better way to do things, while I sit there, staring at the hole in the wall, thinking, "NOW, I understand why construction is generally so shoddy - by the time they get to this point, the entire crew is ready to just use Liquid Nails on everything, slap some paint on it and call it good." About all I do is keep him focused on deadlines and provide the occasional comic relief (as this evening, when we discovered -- too late -- that I can no longer fit between the studs). Yup, he's The Man: Daddy, Husband, HomeBuilder, Dragon Slayer, Swashbuckling Hero. I am so freakin' lucky!

And now, to finish the task!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, November 25

Fine. We may never have running water.

I honestly don't care. We do have heat, and windows. And the floor isn't going to collapse anymore. That's more than I can say for a couple of the places we've rented in our lives. Besides, running water is so overrated. We can get a filter and haul water up from the creek. Or we can gather it from the basement when it rains. Either way, we will be living in the house come Monday, running water or no running water.

Actually, it would all be *done* tonight, if we hadn't decided to eat a celebratory meal at Fire Mountain (aka - The Motherlode of Local Buffet Joints). We went with great plans to feast, revel a bit, then return Home to complete the few menial, small -- yet startlingly important -- tasks that await before we may urinate indoors and quit freaking out the local wildlife, who are thinking, "Okay, OKAY, we get it. It's yours. Sheesh. Just quit, already."

Unfortunately, we ate until all five of us were just to the bursting point. And I mean that literally. Smidge's diaper exploded not five minutes after we left, and as the poor child had eaten himself into a coma, he never budged. Zorak only avoided puking because they did not have carrot cake on the dessert table tonight - otherwise, it'd have been a Monty Python skit like you've never seen performed live. The boys will make great farmers, if their appetites are any indication. And I? Well, let me just go on record as saying that, even this pregnant, I could eat the 72oz. steak in Amarillo in under an hour - and live to tell about it. (Well, I'd live, anyway...)

So we bailed and came back to the apartment. You know, so we could wallow in our own beds rather than on the futon or the floor. Besides, once we're out tonight, I doubt any of us would notice if the heat quit and the temperature plummeted drastically. We're really. Really. Full.

However, we're CLOSE. And it's good. And the bathroom looks quite nice (I love seeing the faucet through the doorway as I walk down the hall!) The stove was delivered successfully today. Funny little mix-up on that one - the warehouse never called to schedule a delivery after they cancelled Wednesday, so I called the warehouse this morning, just in time to receive the lovely news that our place was "the next stop on the list this morning"! Oh. Um. Should probably wake the children, then, and get out there, eh? (Did nobody tell these people we aren't living there? Guess not.) We made it out; I threw bananas and water at the boys (breakfast of recovering POWs!), dragged the commode out of the foyer (don't laugh - it's been really cold on the porch) and made way for (bugles blare in the background) THE RANGE. The delivery guys were nice enough to set it up, let me ogle it, and then put the box back over it to prevent me from wasting all day touching it, er, anything from damaging it while we finish remodeling...

We signed all the paperwork for our propane, so it'll be setup on Monday. Yippee. (I'm thinkin' we probably ought to pick up a water heater sometime this weekend. "Some Guy" has one for sale, but we can't find him now, and time's gettin' short.) We ran many errands, cleaned many rooms, and I must remember to double check pockets before doing laundry - James filled a 20oz. cup with acorns from one of his pants pockets before bed tonight.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, November 24

The Remodel... Thankfulness

We spent the night at the Forever Home again last night. Zorak had cut some oak from a tree knocked down during Katrina. Not only does it look absolutely charming stacked neatly along the edge of the front porch, but, mmmm, it burns much better than the, er, scrap stuff we've been burning - warm and wonderful all night long.

The boys piled into a tent in the kitchen. Zorak and I stayed up late, talking and drinking coffee at our Favorite Table. We talked dreams and surprises, wall colors and finishes, children and family. We strolled in the meadow and watched the stars turn in the night sky. We held hands, laughed about the amazing events that brought us here, to Alabama, to our "Home". Never would've guessed this is how our life would be, not in a million years.

We gave thanks, even, for the things that had made us angry or sad at the time of their occurrence, for it was each and every step we took that brought us here. It's the easy steps, the voluntary steps, that nobody, including us, has a problem being thankful for. But without the heartache, the fear, the uncertainty to push us down unexplored or undesired paths, we would not have come this route. And we are so thankful we did. It feels good to be in a place where we can look back and understand, be at peace with what has happened, and look forward to what will come.

Today we worked. Well, Zorak worked - he worked like a man possessed. I piddled around a bit, then took some much-needed special time with each of the boys. They needed that. I needed that. It meant I wasn't much use to Zorak, but he didn't grumble, and I appreciate that more than I can say.

James and I took a walk. We found another mystery fruit, discovered another type of oak on the property, followed a game trail, and made instruments from fallen nuts. I watched my little guy maneuver the trail, help me heft a fallen log, and offer to hold my coffee while I attempted to retrieve a mystery fruit for examination... and I melted with love and appreciation for this little man and how he is gliding into his new skin so nicely. He's mighty impressive.

Then I snuggled with Smidge, sang him songs, shared his chips. He fell asleep cradled in my arm, his hand in mine, and a smile on his face. That's more like it.

While Smidge was drifting off to sleep, John came and curled up beside me. He asked about The Man From Snowy River. I offered to watch it with him. We talked and talked and missed most of the movie, but had a really nice time. He got quiet. His head on my leg grew heavy, and his breaths slowed and deepened. I peeked down to see one exhausted little guy, worn out from trying to keep up and keep going. He looked so little, lying there with his lashes draped over his rosy cheeks.

I could have lumbered up at that point, with both boys asleep, but I stayed there, stroking brows and caressing backs. That part was all for me, and it was good.

Busy day tomorrow. But a great day today.

Kiss those blessings!

Wednesday, November 23

Mid-Move Check-In

Hi all! We stayed our very first night at the Forever Home on Monday night. I am amazed at the power of insulation - WOW - was it cold without it. Zorak, the WonderDad, got up several times through the night to stoke the fire and throw on more wood. The boys stayed toasty and warm. My heart burst with appreciation for him everytime I heard him rustling around the woodpile. What a wonderful man (I know I sure didn't want to get out of that warm bed to mess with it!)

Even with the late night stokings, though, I am glad there won't be any floor furnace to pee in, throw things down, or get branded with. And thanks for the humor on the previous post. Yes, if someone is in my home, uninvited (and let's be honest, folks, it takes a lot not to be invited, so that's an open-and-shut question) with less than honest intentions, well, it's "my home" for a reason. Firm believer in the Castle Doctrine, here! *wink*

Oh, guys! Mornings there are virtually indescribable. It's as if the night rained magic on the property, leaving a sheen of glittery pixie dust for the morning sun to dance through. Mist settles in the meadow and morning sunlight whispers through the dew-covered leaves. Everything is gold and white. It's breathtakingly beautiful. The boys were up and out the door before even a thought of breakfast could form in their minds (and for children who wake in the morning and whisper, before anything else, "I'm hungry...", this is big!) They checked on their favorite trees, looked for birds, followed a squirrel. They tromped and ran and dragged us out to the perimeter to watch the sun dance in the meadow and chase the mist away.

John said, "Oh, Mom! Aren't the berries lovely in the morning sun?"
James exclaimed, "And just think: we get to wake up here every morning, FOREVER!"
Smidge... well, Smidge squeaked and squealed and pointed a lot.

Zorak and I worked our tails off. We are so. close. I've got a mock kitchen set up now, almost ready for use. Well, it lacks a range (which will be here Friday), and a temporary sink (the KILZ is drying on the temporary cabinet for that). It's definitely Spartan, but even now has a wonderful Vacation Cabin feel to it. I think the house will keep that feeling once it's finished out and fully livable (the difference being that between Old Kinda Creepy Family Cabin Nobody Really Uses Anymore, and the final Vacation Cabin Filled With Luxuries Like Indoor Plumbing and Gourmet Foods.)

Today we pack some more here at the apartment, and then head back out to work. The toilet, vanity and sinks are going into the bathroom today. The plumbing is beautiful. (If plumbing can be said to be beautiful... well, yes.) Now that we can see the end of the tunnel, I can envision actually decorating the walls of the tunnel - and bookshelves! That's exciting.

Oh - I went to the Piggly Wiggly the other day. It was neat, and had a wonderful feel to it. I felt like such a local chick. Then I realized two things: I can't say Piggly Wiggly w/o laughing, and I think it's "neat" to go to the Piggly Wiggly... so no, I still ain't from around here... But I am starting to blend!

Y'all have a great Wednesday! Kiss those sweet babies!

Saturday, November 19

********drum roll, please********

We have indoor heat!

Zorak just called (yes, at ten-thirty at night) to say the eagle has landed, or the chicken is cooking, or whatever needs to be stated on such a momentous occasion. No matter how you phrase it, the behemoth iron box is producing heat and warming the cockles and crannies of our Forever Home as I type.

Procuring enough stove pipe to create an entire chimney to specifications and fire codes took travel through three counties ('tis the season), but he perservered and has triumphed.

I can't wait to feel it. I can't wait to give him a great big hero's welcome home.



On Help

It is difficult for me to ask for help. That lovely trait often comes across as being proud or perhaps even a control freak. I can't even pretend to claim the first, and there are too many documented instances of the second to deny, but that's really not it when it comes to asking others for help. The biggest problem I run into is that most of the time I don't know what kind of help I need. When someone says, "What do you need us to do?" I draw a blank. The second I hear, "Let me know if you need anything," I cannot articulate what I might need. Not at all. I could be lying nekkid in the snow, starving and sick, and be unable to think to ask for a blanket, a steak and some penicillin.

Right now, I know what I need, though, and it's not helping. I need Mary Poppins to come sailing in with her carpet bag and take care of all the things I don't know are in need of tending to. I need Zorak to come home early and pamper me for a wee bit. I need him to come home early and let me pamper him a bit, too. Unfortunately, none of those are likely to happen.

So, considering the lack of a good carpet bag full of tricks, and the lack of downtime for Zorak and I, today was really, really nice.

The house is about 80% packed. I spent most of the morning tossing miscellaneous papers and preparing random boxes (The Daddy Box, for Zorak's misplaced items; The Craft Box, for stuff the boys have strange sentimental attachments to, like paper bits and pipe cleaners; The Document Box, for the pile of paperwork that refuses to subside since we closed on the house). Then, when I'd cleared a path (albeit a narrow one), I called on the brave souls who offered to help. They came with smiles and children, and it was nice. Claudia and Michelle did a fantastic job and, for the most part, the kids all played wonderfully together (outside! WOOHOO!) We got the majority of the apartment packed, and then hit what just felt like a good stopping point for the day. I can't handle clutter and need to move the packed boxes out so I can see what comes next. So, we put on a fresh pot of coffee and just sat and visited while the kids played a bit. Adult talk. Woman chat. That was very nice. Their presence was a big, big help all around. I feel very blessed, particularly after feeling so very isolated for so long.

You'd think the boys would be exhausted by now (I am), but no... they're bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They are currently using the few toys left unpacked to make all the noise imaginable in their room. I'm hoping they will collapse once I get them to be still for five or ten seconds. We'll see if that happens.

Kiss those babies!

Quick Hi

The leasing office lady called today to see if we'll be out by Monday. I had no idea what to say (and I was covered in popcorn ceiling debris), so I just filled her in on the progress.

"Well, the propane line can't be run until the 28th, so we're trying to get a wood stove hooked up right now. It's in, but we need more pipe. Had a small electrical issue in the kitchen which needed to be handled before everything caught on fire - it's kind of dry now that we've stopped all the leaks - but the plumbing is back on schedule and we should have cold running water tomorrow. Friends are coming over tomorrow to help me pack, since we've been out here working all day and night. Um, we can keep the garage till the end of the month, right?"

There was silence for a bit. Then she said, "Well, it sounds like we'll have to go with the 28th, doesn't it?"

Um... that's not what I was aiming for (I just wanted her to know that we're working hard to get everything possible done ASAP), but... OKAY! I'll take that.

Hung up. Collapsed in a chair. Hopped back up because the rotozip was in the chair. And got on with the day.

Cut a lot of drywall today. Most of it incorrectly. In my defense, Zorak changed the plans twice on me, after I'd already measured and marked. There were more lines to follow than the Metro in DC. And, I'm bad at this stuff to begin with. So, there's drywall (greenrock, moldboard, whatever that stuff is) in the bathroom now. It took more work than it ought to have, but that's okay. As long as I didn't have to handle the electrical issue in the kitchen, I'd happily be there now, still cutting. It's a worthwhile trade-off.

Wonderful Neighbor Ben handled the Fixing of the Lighting in the kitchen. He made a lot of gutteral noises, but there was no screaming or falling, so I assume it went well. He's been such a blessing to us - not only is he wonderful help, but he has such a good attitude and keeps his sense of humor when things get weird (as I'm sure you've guessed, they have done that a time or two). We truly appreciate him.

Brought blankets and fuzzy soft things to put on the futon. Smidge was in heaven. He curled up on the futon with a blanket and a stuffed fleece hat/pillow thing and slept soundly and peacefully for two hours, even with reciprocating saws, shop vacs and hammers all being used in the same room. There's just something about wool and fleece that is so comforting. (She says, wiggling her toes inside wool socks and snuggling deeper into a fleece sweater. Hmm, I wonder where he gets it?)

The boys were much more inclined to at least give a nod to the rules of civilized behavior today. I appreciated that, and let them know. We split up for the drive out and back, so we each got some special time to dote on the children. John received a small set of tools to go in his tool belt - his pride and joy. He has measured everything in the house at least twice (and he's better at it than I am, that's for sure!) He's on a Big Guy roll, and was thrilled to help pump gas tonight - his cheeks flamed bright pink and he was obviously freezing, but I don't think he noticed it through the glow of accomplishment. James got to lock up the basement tonight all on his won. He was so very proud of the job he did - he even dragged a cinder block to the door so he could reach the highest latch and make sure he did the "very best job" he could. He beamed with real pride, and it made my heart want to burst with love.

I won a bet for a foot rub, but Zorak seems to have slipped off to bed, and I have a sneaking suspicion I won't be calling it in tonight. Perhaps I can still wedge in there for some snuggle time. (I'm just waiting now for my side of the bed to get warm before I head off - marriage has many perks, and although I didn't marry him for the bedwarming feature, specifically, it is a splendid bonus in the winter!)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, November 18

Surprise Walls

We've found some truly interesting things as we've been working on this project. Some of it's been scary, and some of it has caused us to laugh like kids at the carnival. We've developed our top five list of Things You Really Don't Want to Find in Your Walls...

5) Pennies in light sockets.
4) Hornet's nests for window insulation.
3) Pine cones.
2) Large chunks of daylight seeping through.

and the number one thing you really never want to see in the walls of your home...

1) Multiple snake sheds.

What are some strange things you've found in your home spaces?


Thursday, November 17

Good Thursday Evening.

Alright, I'm laughing so. hard. Laney's threatening my toilet (it's a threat, because you know Wee Joe's not far behind her with something new to offer to the toilet gods!) Thank you so much for the info on the check and statutes. I'm going to look up codes tonight once the boys are in bed. (They are currently jammied up and eating rice pasta with ham and pineapple and are convinced I'm a genius. HA! They're going to be irate when they find out you can just order that combo on a pizza, and that I won't do it.) Anyhow, I'd like to meet the leasing office in the middle, if we can. The other family waiting for an apartment sure didn't expect to walk into this, either, and their little ones are as important to them as ours are to us.

On the house, the glue is setting up on the Dr. Seuss Tree-looking under the floor parts for all the drains. (How's that for technical? I can hear plumbers' unions rallying against us as I type.) I have the stove board and a 90' elbow for the wood stove. Just need to set the thing in the corner so I can measure how much pipe we'll need to reach the vents. SO. Barring some unforseen (and don't anybody suggest any possibilities, ok?) circumstances, we will have running water and heat tomorrow. Friday. Not bad. Zorak works well under pressure. *grin* We're feeling pretty good about the progress. Still going to look up options, but in all, feeling pretty good.

John's dentist appointment went splendidly. The doc increased the amount of gum goo, decreased the amount of Novocain, and worked like a madman. Ta-da! No trouble, and John was grateful that the numbness wore off more quickly. Bonus! The next step will be his front teeth, and that's a whopper of a bill to pay without insurance, so he'll go in for that the first week in January.

The boys, in general, woke up this morning determined, on some deeply spiritual level, to test *everything* I said last night. When I informed them as we donned our shoes that they'd used up all my day's patience at breakfast, they were shocked. Dismayed. What will we do? ACK. We'll have to... *gasp* behave. ARGH! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! *groan* Well, that's over with. Hopefully tomorrow will go more smoothly now that they've mapped out the new terrain. (A Mom can hope, right?)

Tomorrow we'll head out early, breakfast at the house, work until early afternoon and then the boys and I will come back to pack. A lady from church is coming to take the boys and her kids to the park here in the complex, which will help tremendously. Zorak brought in all the flattened boxes last night, so I'm going to go stuff them with things and be productive.

Have a great night, and thanks for the laugh, guys. And the prayers. Both are coveted and appreciated.

Kiss those little envelope pushers er, babies!

Wednesday, November 16

Because This Was Just Too Easy...

Or we're handling it too well. Or there are evil spirits trying their best to thwart my efforts not to erupt like Vesuvius. Or just to throw a little creativity into the mix... Whatever the reason, we've just received a bit of bad news.

I'm stealing Sarah's mantra for this weekend:

I am a glacier. I am cool. I am calm. I am chilled. I am freakin' enormous and I will wear down anything in my path. I am cool. I am calm.

Remember when I paid this month's rent and asked for an extension to our 30-day notice? They said, "As long as we haven't rented your unit, sure!" I paid for the full month, and they cashed the full check. I called back twice that week to verify, but they still hadn't been able to find the records. They said they'd call if there was a problem.

That was three weeks ago.

They called tonight.

They found the paperwork. And it seems there is a family scheduled to move in Monday. Yes. Monday. Four days from now. (Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat mantra.)

The leasing lady had already called the new family and explained the snafu to them. They graciously agreed to wait until the 28th to move in. But that doesn't give us until the 28th to get out. Oh no. The office said they'll need us to hand in the keys on Monday. They need to "get the apartment ready", and with Thanksgiving coming, they'll be closed Thursday and Friday, so they really need the keys Monday. In the AM. (Repeat mantra, start eyeballing the Khaluah.)


Well, suffice it to say that Zorak, Dragon Slayer and Wonderful Provider, responded to the news as any provider would when faced with the very possible fear that he will not be able to provide. If this were someone else's life, I'd have found it funny that Mr. Uber Middle Child, who has spent the last ten years begging his Gypsy Wife to please-for-the-love-of-God-shut-up-and-stop-rocking-the-boat, suddenly began shouting, "WELL, I trust that you gave them a piece of your mind! You let them have it, didn't you?"

But it's not someone else's family, and so, it was just weird.

Um... no. (It's been a while since I've spiked coffee... how much would actually help?)

So, he and Wonderful Neighbor are still there, working out the initial panic attack. I asked one of the ladies from church to come take the boys to the park Friday afternoon (so I can speedpack). Claudia said she'd come help me finish the packing on Saturday. I will ask the Apt. Office if we can at least keep the garage through the end of the month.

When Zorak gets home, we will brainstorm the best way to mangle er, manage the situation and get heat into the house by Monday. When the lows are in the 50's, we can camp, but they've dropped into the mid-20's, and we aren't polar bears, so the heat needs to happen n-o-w.

John has another dentist appointment in the morning. We'll have been working several hours by that time, and then it's back into the fray. The boys and I had some extra snuggle time and an abbreviated family meeting tonight. We talked about the team effort. I let them know ahead of time that yes, I know this won't be a fun four days, and I understand. I let them know that we love them and that while my love for them will last forever, this stage in the process will not. I tucked them in with kisses and affirmations of total acceptance... and within just a few minutes, had two of three snuggled in my bed. Somehow, I think they get it more than they let on. So I laid down with them and stroked their sleepy heads, made them giggle, and kissed their brows.

Yes, I am calm. To panic right now would be to guarantee our failure. We may not manage to pull this off, but we owe it to ourselves and the children to try. Blogging may be light, or crabby, over the next four days. Please bear with us, and we'll return to our regularly scheduled perspective shortly.

Kiss those babies!

Classical Unschooling

And out of nowhere, a homeschooling post!

I've read several posts and messages the past few days that revolve around life upheaval and the decision to put children in school for a while. For the most part, it's all gone over my head, as it's just not an option for us. But today, after the four thousandth thread on the topic, I started to a) question my sanity, and b) wonder "why". So, lucky you, y'all get to sit in on this mulling session while my children forcefeed bathwater to a rubber crocodile. If the croc dies soon, though, this may be an abbreviated post.

A) The question of my sanity. I prefer to table this part of the discussion. The jury is out, being bribed, and will not be allowed out of the room until it no longer matters, or the verdict returns in my favor. I simply can't afford an indictment at this point.

There, that was easy.

B) Why? Why are we homeschooling? Why are we keeping the children at home amidst all the upheaval and chaos? Why don't we "just send them to school for a while"? Thankfully, nobody has come right out and asked us these questions. It may be that they trust that we make the decisions we feel are best for the boys. It may be that they're afraid of my German/Irish temper. It may be that the people in our lives realize it's just not their business and they wouldn't ask us anymore than we would ask them why they send their children to public school, or to private school, or buy boxers rather than briefs. I don't know. But now I'm asking myself, and that's okay. Even if the discussion turns sticky, I can't not speak to myself for more than four hours at a time, so the repercussions can't be that bad.

We homeschool for more reasons than we had with our Starter Set, that's for certain. Some are altruistic. (This is what's best for them.) Some are ideological. (This is the responsibility we have as US citizens, and we must prepare them to be productive, capable citizens.) Some are purely, wonderfully, deliciously selfish. (We really like being with our children.) Pick a reason, other than religious (well, no, even then, I do feel this is the stewardship God has given me - it's a doozie, and doesn't require I use Abeka or BJU, but I guess even that could be considered a religious reason), and your odds are good that you will hit on at least one reason from our list.

The chaos may adjust goals and plans, but it doesn't negate the reasons we do what we do -- it only alters the way in which we go about it. We certainly take a different route to achieving our lessons and making progress (and, yes, there are some things that are simply on hold until further notice). We don't, however, stop learning, stop reading, stop spending time together, stop having discussions with our children, simply because things have grown wonky. We don't believe James would receive anywhere near an adequate education in the public school system. We don't believe John would be nurtured academically in an institutional setting. And there is no way on God's green earth I'm leaving Smidge with somebody when he can't even tell me what's gone on while I was away! (But that's a whole other post.) We don't believe the boys would be given the preparation to handle life, learning, or loving any better in someone else's care.

So here we are, unschooling in a most academic manner. Or perhaps it's "Classic Lite", just as filling, but in smaller portions. It's possible we are not currently considered Classic Homeschoolers at all, but rather on hiatus from the Classical realm. (I still haven't read Climbing Parnassus, you know...) This is not what I envisioned three years ago. It's not what I planned six months ago. But it's going, and we're doing. Why stop? Why send them off each day? What would they truly get from doing that?

For some, there are positive answers to that question. For us, there are none. True, we're remodeling a house, and that takes a disproportionate amount of our time and other finite resources. Would the boys actually receive more attention, education, and nurturing in an institution each day? No, they wouldn't. Nor would all our blocking in the house be covered in penciled-in CVC combinations and geometry equations.

Yes, I could accomplish much, much more if I were able to hop in and out of plumbing stores and lumber yards with just me and my belly. Would the socialization the boys receive in an instutional setting surpass the quality of learning how to conduct business, figure bids, solder pipe, and in general be polite and well-behaved in public? *snort* Not a chance. Is that trade-off worth it in the end? Not for us.

Yes, I'm pregnant, which means I am swollen, hormonal, have the memory of a brain-damaged goldfish, and would love nothing more than to sleep for days on end. But that's happened before, and it could happen again. I've tried to find a lab that will offer short-term cryogenics so I can suspend the boys in time and defrost them later... but that's just selfish. They're going to live and learn and grow and change. It's my challenge to be there for all of it, even amidst the chaos of life itself. After all, that's what. this. is.

This is life.

This is our life.

It's not always easy.

But it is always good.

I can't change that or trade that, and wouldn't want to if I could.

Every family is different, and that's something I believe wholeheartedly. This post isn't a condemnation of those who've chosen another route. Not at all. I will admit that I have a difficult time wrapping my mind around the concept that not having my children near me will somehow make it easier to raise them, but that's only one perspective on a situation - and it's not the one that matters unless the children in question are mine. Does that make sense?

I guess, in short, our "why" is the same as everyone's "why", regardless of the actual choices: this is what we know is right for us. I'm not a big fan of the subjective morality plays or the multicultural every-contribution-is-of-equal-value ideology, but I am a huge fan of the family unit and its freedom and responsibility to make each decision an informed decision, and the one that IS best for that family. A year from now, our dynamics will have changed drastically. The boys will have grown tremendously. We will be different people who must, occasionally, as MFS highlighted in a quote recently (that wasn't the point of her entry, but it certainly stuck with me throughout the day), give a nod to the people we were today. Last year. Ten years ago. We want to be okay with that, and above that, we want to enjoy it. We want to smile and wave at ourselves of today. So that's what we'll do. And we'll recognize one another because we took the path we knew was right for us.

Yup. That's why.

The croc does sound like it's in need of help, though, and we have Pioneer Club in a few hours, so I'm going to pile them on the couch with some protein and read a good book with them. After all, this is life.

Kiss those babies! (And thanks for letting me ramble on the porch.)

Our Zen Water Cave & Why We Needed to be Married to One Another

It was quite a day: our stove was ordered and greenrock hung above the tub, the sinks templated and marked for cutting, water pipe layout designed, and children herded like wild kittens; the "light thundershowers" forecast for today morphed into one heckuva downpour. Zorak and I headed to the basement to grab the specs on the wood stove, killing time to wait out the onslaught so we could leave between floods.

It was then I heard it. The Zen Water Garden. The gigantic, Buddha-sized Water Garden. The part of my brain that's in denial tried to say it was someone flushing the toilet, or perhaps doing laundry. The very small part of my brain that's still semi-functional insisted that no, we have nothing to flush, that's simply got to be a water fountain. (Notice I've said nothing about my brain being reliable in either instance, only that it disagreed with itself on several levels.) Anyhow, I followed the sound to the Scary Room, and there we found it...

The biggest indoor waterfall we've seen since we hit the Rocky Mountain Knife Factory in Pigeon Forge, TN. Fifteen feet long, eleven feet high, and flowing at an unknown - although thoroughly impressive - rate.

Hey, honey, I think we've found another leak.

Ya think??

Zorak made a funnel from a gallon jug and the garden hose while I went in search of tar paper. He got the funnel set up to catch the water, then trekked into the darkness to divert the water from the house. Yes, we have a tar paper gutter system on the ground now, but this was an emergency. And it worked. We have it staved off temporarily, but that does explain a lot, as well as confirm our plans to move the gutters and install a French drain along the back side of the house.

Since we closed on the home, the weather has been positively perfect (read: dry). The last two times it's rained, we've dutifully checked the basement, the walls, the attic. All have stayed dry. The Smell emanating from the yucky room seemed to increase, but that room is so nasty that it's difficult to tell when something's gone "wrong" in there. Poor Rufus, our dehumidifier, however, went from being able to run for about 36 hours before filling up, to less than 12 before he was stuffed. Huh. Well, yeah, indoor waterscaping can do that to the humidity level in a room.

Now, why, one may ask, does this story highlight how important it is that Zorak and I married each other? It's simple, really. In this case, we were both needed to make the problem not become an issue. He didn't hear the water, so if it wasn't for me and my bird-dog like sense of hearing, he wouldn't have found the waterfall at all. Yet if it wasn't for him and his quick engineering-type thinking, I'd still be sitting in the Scary Room, watching it flow, thinking, "Yeah, this is bad. I hope it stops raining soon so I can slap some tar on the foundation... *sigh*" But together, we found it and stopped it. YAY US!! Things like this make up for the times I forgot to wash the whites or he didn't hear me beg for creamer on his way home from work. It's good stuff, the way we work together. I wouldn't want to be married to anyone else. Ever. He's the best.

Kiss those babies, and those wonderful co-conspirator loved ones. What would life be without them? (Mine would be rather wet and soggy.)

Monday, November 14

Don't Pass Out, BUT...

Our cabinets have been ordered!

If we had accomplished nothing else today, that would have been enough. I am satisfied. All is well. But wait, it gets better...

The Appliance Fairy dropped off a shiny new fridge!

Oh joy! It's huge, and the kitchen is empty, so it looks like an obscure tribute to crisp fruits and veggies - a large monolithic white... thing. And it's *sniff, sniff* beautiful.

But there's still more!

The midwives have several new clients up in our neck of the woods (which is, for their territory, more like the very tippy top of the head than the actual neck), and since there are so many of us who would be caravanning down to Birmingham for prenatals, they asked if they could use the house as the appointment spot for the Northern end of the state. Heckyeah! C'mon over! Granted, that means that at least one bedroom is going to need walls and perhaps flooring... maybe we'll roll out the red carpet and hang curtains for a little privacy... by mid-December, but that's okay. We can get ritzy and put in walls. It's for a good cause.

Zorak and I were really tickled that they felt comfortable asking us about it, and we were also thrilled that we're in a position to be able to help out. So many people have helped us in so many ways over the years. It feels good to open our doors, even if in such a small way, and be the ones doing the helping. Good stuff.

All is well with the baby. It's come to my attention that there are quite a few of the menfolk who read the blog, so I won't go all "pregnancy update" on you here. Just that she's fine. I'm fine. She's inherited Zorak's atomic elbow of death and if she doesn't move it soon... I'm getting scared. I stepped onto the scale, thinking, "Oh, this'll be funny." Um. Ok, shoulda defined "funny" before I got on. I weigh now just two small pounds less than I did when Smidge was born. I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking, "... gosh, but I FEEL so... well, less than that..." Zorak pointed out that the way I felt by the end of Smidge's pregnancy was (and I quote) "one of the unfortunate side effects of abject poverty". Ahhh, good point. Also, as I just realized this weekend, this is the first time I've ever been this pregnant in temps under 100'. I'm likin' it!

That's about it. Oh. No, wait, we also stopped by a plumbing supply place in Birmingham today. The folks there were wonderful. We were there for two and a half hours. The boys were wonderful. They had completely wormed their way into the hearts of every guy working there, and most of the industrial reps who came in during our stay. Not only did we walk out of there with a gazillion fittings and manifolds and a few bazillion miles of pipe, but it was at a good price, great customer service, and we are SET for indoor plumbing! Well, for cold water, anyway. We'll hook up the hot water after we have a water heater, and the propane to run it (you know, details, details, sheesh!) But all we'll need at that point is a bazillion miles of red PEX to go with it. WooHoo!

I'm off to tuck my sleeping angels in again and give them some sleeping 'nuggles (not that they notice or remember, but it feels so good, and sometimes mamas do things just because they really enjoy it), and then to rest, for tomorrow's another busy day!

Kiss those babies!

The Remodel, Day 17

Great day, progress-wise!

The bathroom is ready for greenrock. (That's sheetrock w/ mold resistant stuff in it, but ours isn't green, so I don't know why I'm still calling it greenrock. Good thing this isn't an official This Old House remodel blog or we'd be getting letters from angry drywallers.)

The living room is ready for heating.

There's a tent in the kitchen. How cool is that when you're seven and five and two? WAY cool.

We're going to "live" in the first bedroom for a while when we move in. It's backed against the wall w/ the wood stove, so nobody will freeze in the mornings.

The "shop" has been relocated from the living room and deck to the master bedroom and back deck. Hence, the room and safety aspect for the tent in the kitchen.

OH! And have y'all ever seen a Big Lots FURNITURE?!?!? Oh holy bat crap. This place is amazing! It's Big Lots, which we know and love, but it's ALL furniture. And I'm talking WOWSA, this place is nifty, FURNITURE! Anyhow, I've been looking for a futon mattress for several weeks now. We just wanted a thin (read: cheap) all-purpose pad. You know, something to keep the children from slipping between the bars on the futon frame. A place to, in true futon fashion, pass out when we just can't push on any more. Although we salvaged the frame from the curbside, we wanted a new mattress because... well, c'mon, futons aren't for the prudish... SO. Back to the story, futon mattresses are ridiculously overpriced! Did you know that? Ugh. We found one place online that sells them for $139, but when you add the seventy bucks shipping, there's no savings. So we popped in there yesterday. The conversation (may all future purchasing conversations emulate this one) went something like this:

Me: (openly drooling at the displays) Wooooowwww...
BLF Guy: Can I help you, ma'am? Lamps? Couches? A bib?
Me: Yeahhhhh... I need a futron mattress... and one of those barstools... no. No barstools. Just a futon mattress. Do you have those?
BLF Guy: (chuckles quietly) Yeah, what kind would you like?
Me: Cheap.
BLF Guy: The $79 one, then!
Me: Wow, you're good!

And he headed off to retrieve a lovely, cheap futon mattress for me. I followed slowly, wanting desperately to TOUCH THINGS, but knowing I was covered in grease and would leave many easily identifiable finger prints by which to track me down and make me pay for damages. But ohhhhh.....

BLF Guy came back with a HUGE mattress, rang it up, and then (BLESS HIM) carried it to the pickup for me. *happy sigh*

One. More. Change. To the cabinet order.
I'm not even going to venture a guess on the fridge.
The stove-related eye twitch is back.

But those are Zorak's things to handle. I'm good to go, otherwise.

We have a new mascot. He is The Poor Lizard that walked under a piece of paneling on the deck. He didn't make it. He did, however, dry out quite nicely, and James has adopted (?) him. Absconded with him? I don't know what you call it, but it's a boy and his pressed lizard remnants, and they are quite happy. Now if he'd quit leaving the thing standing upright on the banister (the critter is only three inches long, but it's disturbing to walk out there at night and be greeted by it in its three-legged dance of the dead pose!)

John is learning some not-so-fun lessons in personal responsibility. For instance, if you have gloves and you insist on putting them somewhere other than the tool table, you will lose valuable play time until you retrieve them. Your brother will lovingly help you look, but that offer caps out at three occasions per 24 hour period for the same. pair. of. gloves. Your mother stops speaking coherently after the fourth such occurrence, and you'd rather just suffer than ask her to help you look. However, last night as we headed out, he proudly announced that his gloves were on the tool table and aren't we proud! (Yes, sweetie, we are. These lessons are no fun at all, but you're learning them well. Good Job.)

Smidge decided yesterday that he'd really like a nap and since nobody seemed ready to go for a ride in the pickup with him, he just climbed onto the bench seat, folded his arms, and laid his head down. It was precious, but it broke my heart. I want my baby to fall asleep in my arms, not at some hard table. May this phase be over soon so we can get back to our regularly scheduled snuggling.

Midwife's appt today. Better get on the ball!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, November 13

He grabbed the camera!

Without further ado, here are some shots from the Forever Home!

The fun part of having such a long driveway is that you can ride in the back of the pickup to check the mail!
Ta-Da! Here we are, officially recognized by the US Postal Service! (Great job, guys!) The rocks in the wagon are now decoratively piled around the base of the post.
It took Smidge a bit to catch his breath at the bottom and answer when I asked if that was fun. I caught this shot just as he was breathily saying, "YES!"
This is for Donna. It is what passersby see from the road. With the leaves dropping considerably, you can *almost* see the house (but not quite). All that's really visible is one of the meadows, the barn, and our pickup. I tried to catch the sunlight before it left the treetops, but the boys had my attention up to this point.

And now, I really must get some rest. Thanks for stopping by the Front Porch.

Saturday, November 12

The Remodel, Day 16 Reprise

Zorak and James had a great time working together this morning. Zorak was, I think, a little surprised with the maturity and growth of his eldest spawn. He beamed, glowed, and in general, raved about how helpful and quick James is, how intuitive and on the ball he is, and what an excellent hand he makes. *he he* Ayup, he's growing up, that one. Of course, James also played in the sawdust when his plumbing apprentice work was done. It's important to have balance in one's activities.

John and Smidge had a wonderful morning of sleeping in, dressing slowly - it's imperative to do things slowly when you are two and five - eating eggs and sausage until they both sported some impressive puppy belly, and they were more than ready to head to the House when it was time to go. John picked Smidge's favorite CD (Freddy Fender) for the drive. We sang. We talked. John's a neat kid. He loves to smile, and he gets a lot about the good things in life. Smidge sang and squeaked from the back seat, just happy to have a book and good music.

I'm not entirely clear what we did today. We worked hard, but a lot of it was grunt work (at least on my part, it was). The boys and I did get the mailbox post hole dug and the post set. They put the numbers on the box once it was up, and then enjoyed a celebratory wagon ride down the steep-very-steep drive from the mailbox toward the house. If I can convince Zorak to retrieve the camera from the Suburban, I'll post some pictures.

Cabinet Guy called to check in. Bless him. I was supposed to call him back yesterday after we'd played around with the new fridge and were happy with the final layout, but since it never arrived, I didn't call. He knew the fridge was originally supposed to be delivered Wednesday, so he was a little stunned to hear it still wasn't here today. He listened quietly, then asked if they were going to go get it and bring it to us today. *no* Did they schedule a delivery for Monday? *um, no* What did they do? *they told me to call the warehouse myself on Monday and schedule a delivery* OH NO, says he, that's hogwash! (Says he - I don't use that phrase.) He handled it immediately and scheduled a deliery for us for Monday afternoon. Whew. Maybe, just maybe, we'll have an order in soon!

Oh, I got to fondle my faucets today. Serious perk. Even covered with fingerprints and plumber's putty, they're lovely. *deleriously happy sigh*

Tomorrow is HUGE. It's big. It's scary. It's coming. And it's going to be oh-so-good. I can't wait, and I really truly hope that Day 17 at least remotely resembles the To Do list sitting beside me at the moment. Keep yer fingers crossed!

And as always, kiss those babies!

The Remodel, Day 16

The poor fridge guy got to the house this morning, only to find that the warehouse crew hadn't put ours on the truck.

Of course not.


Oh, but we can call "first thing Monday morning" and talk to them. Yeah, if we didn't have a midwife's appointment in Birmingham, we could do that.


On the upside (there must be an upside to these things or I'll lose my mind!) James and Zorak left the house this morning at seven and had some great one-on-one time, breakfast in a cup, and now they're working on plumbing together. Gotta love that kind of stuff.

I stayed behind with John and Smidge, who desperately needed their rest. They are finishing up breakfast now, and we'll head out as soon as they're done.

Today should be a lovely day.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, November 11

The Remodel, Day 15

In short, this was a rough day. Full of ups and downs. That's exhausting.

The boys were amazingly wonderful. I wish I had the words to convey how much we truly enjoy them, but mere words fall flat. They're just so very good, and we appreciate them more with every passing day. Even Smidge, at two, is a joy and a team player, and a wonderful, helpful child. We're in awe, and in love, and oh, so thankful for them.

If only the rest of life were so deleriously easy to enjoy! We do enjoy it, but it takes a little more effort to stay chipper.

We keep setting parameters and defining goals so that upcoming scenarios can be managed. Inevitably, however, we have yet to hit on a *black or white* scenario. Not once has anything come in within the parameters we've set. If we set a price range scenario (say, x we'll buy it, y we'll finance it, z we'll pass on it), it's going to be the cubed root of x plus y plus z, somewhere in a grey area that we didn't see. If we set a feature parameter (we need it to have a and b, but that's all, everything else is flexible), we will, without fail, have picked the only two parameters that are mutually exclusive and simply do not co-exist. If we set a timeline... yeah, who knew such-and-such company uses the Chinese calendar??? There's just not been an easy, no-brainer since we've started. We don't mind, so much, but we have begun to look at one another and mutter, "OK, this is getting weird. Even for us, it's weird." We would do well on The Price is Right, which is fun.

The stove we decided upon... is not available until late January, at the earliest. I guess GE didn't quite count on the power of their marketing team? We can't wait until late January for a stove, so we won't be getting that one. On the upside, the second choice stove is available for delivery next week, and we can get the 48" range (vs. the 36" we'd have bought today), with two ovens instead of one, and a broiler, for the same money. This one has no proof setting on it, but hey, will it kill me to let my bread continue to rise on the counter? I think not.

John was t-i-r-e-d today. The upside: John was s-n-u-g-g-l-y today.

The fridge was not delivered today. On the upside: It will be here in the morning.

I have heartburn that would bring Spawn to his knees. But, on the upside: I know why!! :-)

I could go on, but you get the picture. There were a few major glitches in the day, and I had to cut it short for all of us before I completely lost my mind. They were unavoidable, unforseeable, and simply caught us offguard. That, too, however, has its upside, as it means we were home and snuggled in early enough that tomorrow's way-early wake up call won't leave us all growly. There's some Zen mastery lesson to be learned from today, but I haven't the energy to decipher it. Discuss amongst yourselves, if you'd like. I'll kick back with my coffee and listen.

The tub is in and plumbed. The toilet is ready to go. The sinks are roughed-in. We need to buy light fixtures for the bath, but we have the tile for the floor ~ got it on clearance! woohoo! Seriously, it's going to be peed on daily for the next two decades... inexpensive and waterproof are just the ticket for that!

The two-oven range means we won't need to buy a wall oven, or a wall cabinet to house it, so I think we're going to scootch the island over a bit and put a kitchen couch against the far wall. Aunt B has this great couch beneath one of the windows in her kitchen, and it's a wonderful hang-out spot for folks to gather. I'd love something like that, and we may have room now. We'll block it out tomorrow and see.

I called the Cabinet Guy to make the change in the island and will pick up the official changes from him tomorrow. We may have cabinets by Easter! I Suspect he is beginning to Doubt my capabilities (and possibly my intelligence), though, so we might want to hurry before he writes us off as asylum escapees.

Zorak has found his groove, his happy spot, his rhythm. It's great to see him rambling forward and enjoying the work. He's not only the provider for our home, but the carrot that keeps us moving forward, the glue that keeps us together, and the warmth that lets us know we're safe. So, it feels good to see him happy and know he's enjoying what he's doing. Because he is doing so. much.

Tomorrow... um... well, we're getting breakfast at a drive-thru. There's a coffee pot at the house, too, so we're all set there. Other than that, I'm not sure what the game plan is. Maybe a little drywall, a bit more framing, and a whole lotta plumbing. I'm on ditch-digging duty, for the most part. And clean up duty (the irony in the fact that I have done more vacuuming at that house in the past month than I've done in our own place in the past year is totally not lost on me). But whatever we do, we'll be one day closer to camping out in our Forever Home. The leaves are beautiful. The days are clear. It's coming together.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, November 10

I love being The Mommy

The boys and I stayed in today. We needed a day of rest rather than recovery alone. It was wonderful.

We made pumpkin cookies and pizza. We told stories. We washed an obscene amount of laundry, and put it all away. We read a bit of The Borrowers and began a bit of Witches (James is a huge Roald Dahl fan. John tolerates it because he gets to snuggle.) Smidge has stopped screaming at me while I read aloud, so we're getting back into the swing of sharing books. Three down, one to go. Maybe Emily won't mind the spoken word so much? (A mom can hope, can't she?) Although, the boys still ask me not to do voices. Even if the book is written in dialect, they'd rather I correct the pronunciation to our own than to have to hear me do voices. And I always thought I had a decent speaking voice... ah, well... can't win 'em all.

Zorak came by for lunch on his way to the house. He took the time to play on the floor with the boys before he left. That had the same effect as slapping those little remote cars onto their chargers for 60 seconds - fully recharged and ready to go. I think Zorak enjoyed it, too.

We cleaned bathrooms, tidied living spaces, jumped on the bed. Patience was in huge supply and low demand today (funny, that correlation). We ate supper at six, and near the end of supper the boys *gasp* asked to go to bed!

Of course, it's nine now, and we've just finished with the whole bedtime routine. Fifty-six teeth to brush, floss and rinse (Smidge doesn't have all of his yet). Three faces to wipe, three heads to comb. Three sets of jammies to don, and three sets of clothes to maneuver to the hamper. Three short books to read, and three chapters from a longer book. Three stories to tell of how this critter, or that shirt, came to live in our home. Three sets of hugs and kisses, given three times over, for each boy and all his soft toys. More stories. Water to drink. Bathroom breaks. Kisses for Emily. Just one more chapter... Yes, bedtime is an event, not a specific time. But it's worth it to see those fully sated little eyes as they peer over the fuzzy blankets, and droop, bit by bit, to sleep. Content. Safe. Loved.

I don't know why I'm always tempted to gyp us all on this last leg of the evening. Sure, I'm exhausted and want nothing more than to curl up and read in the quiet lull of a long day. But this is the big daily payoff. This is the cumulative total of the day's tips, so to speak. It's worth heaving ourselves up one. last. time. To cuddle. To kiss. To serenade with a song or enthrall with a tale. That deep, rich sigh of sleep as it overtakes a child is the ultimate payoff for any day. Why on earth work hard all day and then pass up on that? No, it's worth the last push at the very end. For everybody. And I get to do it tonight. Every night. Thank you, Zorak, for making me The Mommy. I love it.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, November 9

Our Little Knight Will Be Fine

Thank you for your prayers and thoughtful words. They mean so much, and John smiled a big smile when I told him people were praying for him and sending him hugs. He got one for each of you and by the time he had them all, he was a giggly mess. Thank you.

We had a great visit at the dentist's office. They got us in, treated him so well, checked him out thoroughly, and sent us off with a handful of cream packets for his lip and instructions to call if there's no improvement by Friday morning (or even if there is and we just want to have him looked at again before the weekend).

His lip is pretty bad off, but it isn't directly from the Novocain reaction. The best our dentist can piece it together, the reaction John had in the office made his lip itch. Since it was still technically numbed, however, he couldn't feel just how hard he was scraping and gnawing to make the itch stop. Until, of course, the Novocain wore off and he was left with a pretty heavily lacerated lip. And because he's not much of a complainer, he never said it itched. The only thing he said was, "I wish it would stop feeling fat. It's getting annoying."

John seems to feel tremendously better now that he knows what's wrong. And now that he knows it'll go away, he's not quite so self-conscious about it, as well. His spirits were up today, and he asked if we could go to the house after lunch.

So that's what we did. The boys dug for bugs and helped throw more stuff on the fire (talk about the eternal flame!) I did clean up duty from the work the guys did last night (they're making great progress! The laundry room was being framed out and the pipes going into the main bath when the boys and I left! WOOHOO!)

We got home later than I'd have liked, but early enough for a warm bath, a good supper, and some songs before bed. That is just what Dr. Mom ordered, and will help everyone cope better.

We picked up a few read alouds when we visited the bookstore the other day (will blog about that in the morning - I think we've found our Alabama equivalent to Maryland's *Bay Books*! Yippee!) We decided to hold off on reading Farmer Boy until we're camping out at the house, so we've started with The Borrowers. It's good to have our noses in a book again. Life just doesn't feel quite right without that time each day.

And ya know what? This mama is tired. I'm going to clean my mouse and take a hot shower.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, November 8

My Gentle Knight

John is five. He is the most genuinely sensitive of the three boys, in the truest sense of the word. His empathy is powerful enough to move mountains. His tears are healing and soulful. His laughter wells up and spills over. His desire to fight dragons of all kinds and defend his loves is fervent and true. He is the first one to know when someone else needs a hug, often even before the person in need is aware of it, and he's right there to offer it with all his heart. He would rather snuggle than wrestle; rather sing than speak; rather do than watch. Life is there for the savoring, the taking and the sharing, according to John.

He is also the child to whom most things happen. Allergies? John has them. Freak chemical accident? John got hit. Piss Poor ER staff and a fight just to be seen for the chemical accident? That's my John Baby. (He wasn't "fussy enough", according to them, to have had contact that needed attention.) The child that goes down for a nap after a wonderful morning and awakes an hour later with a fever of 106, unable to breathe? John. Cause of the 106 fever turns out to be double ear infections, upper and lower respiratory infections, UTI, kidney infection and strep - all totally asymptomatic until the fever hit? That would be John. The list goes on... If it's weird, difficult to address, absolutely terrifying, and leaves us absolutely exhausted with frustration and the pain of not being able to make it better, it seems it will attack John.

And he handles it all. so. well. "Does it hurt?" We ask him. He says, "No. Only when..." and goes on to list the times it hurts, which boils down to anyone else saying, "Hell yes, it hurts! Make it stop. Cut it off. Shoot me." But not John. For him, it only hurts occasionally... which is always, but that's not how he sees it. He gets sad, and seeks the comfort he so readily gives at any other time. And he waits for us to make it better.

Tonight is one of those nights. Tonight is actually mild on his timeline of events, but I'm just wearied by it. He had a reaction to the Novocain at the dentist. It began to dissipate by the time we left and aside from his fatigue and exhaustion from our schedule recently, he was pretty okay this afternoon. We stayed home, though, as he wasn't feeling 100%. I called Zorak as we left the dentist's office to let him know I needed to be Full-Time Mommy today and our mail box hole will have to wait. He sent his love and blessings and extra hugs for John.

At supper, something was bothering John. He was hungry, but not eating well. This was more than just tired - something was *wrong*. We talked a bit and I asked him about it. He showed me his lip, which had swollen to four times its normal size in the previous hour. (It hadn't looked like that before.) Oh. Wow. It looked like a large blister, ready to burst, beginning inside his mouth and spreading to the outer part of the face. He never complained, just pointed out that it was "irritating" and made it difficult to eat.

I gave him some Benadryl as we prepared for bed. It didn't touch the swelling or wateriness, but did knock him flat out. He fell asleep with his head in my lap as I was tucking him in for story time.

Well, he has no fever, no rashes, no swelling of his throat or tongue. He's not cold or vomiting, or experiencing labored breathing, and not in enough pain to wake him... so I am letting him sleep. I'll give him some Motrin if he wakes during the night, and continue checking on him every few minutes. He did get up to use the restroom, although he's so out of it than when he was done, he put the lid down on the toilet and sat there, cross-legged, until I asked what he was doing. He just shrugged. I took him back to our bed so I'll be able to keep an eye on him. The blistery-swollen part now extends from the corner of his mouth, along the bottom lip all the way to the middle of his lip. It's worse, but he's still sleeping peacefully.

He has two more visits to the dentist which will require work. Naturally, the front teeth that need to be done are on opposite sides of his face, and can't be done simultaneously. (It's the repair and capping of the front ones, which are chipped and in bad shape.) I don't know what they'll do for him, but Novocain is probably out of the question. And if this is from the Novocain (I'm still not sure - with the way it came, then went, and then returned with a vengeance), the thought of putting him under a general anesthesia is even more terrifying than trying to make him tough it out without a local. It's going to break our hearts, no matter what we need to do. And he'll be so brave, no matter what he needs to do. Our gentle, sweet knight and his big-scary dragons...

I would not trade places with anyone in the world, but God, do I hate this part.

Kiss those sweet babies.

A Few Words on Vocabulary Terms

I have been using the term "hillbilly" quite frequently lately, and it dawned on me last night (as I muttered to myself, "We are such hillbillies...") that my intended tone may not convey well on-screen. I do not mean it as a condemnation. It's more a descriptor: yuppies, donks, grandmother-types. Rednecks, yankees and hillbillies are among my regular descriptors, as well.

I'm not 100% clear on this delineation (or on anything right now, so bear with me), but there is a difference between Rednecks and Hillbillies. I think it's mostly geographical, and therefore also somewhat due to the available market. For instance, clothing: rednecks wear cowboy boots more often and hillbillies wear work boots; hillbillies wear overalls and rednecks wear Wranglers. Hillbilly hats seem less stiff than redneck hats, and I wonder if that has to do with the humidity.

Both subsets of society are phenomenally creative when it comes to solving household problems. Bailing wire figures prominently in both. Duct tape does seem to be favored more heavily by hillbillies, however, while electrical tape seems to be the adhesive tape of choice among rednecks (or at least the ones with which I'm most familiar). Caulking has, so far in our experience, remained a predominately redneck fix-all. We haven't seen it used as extensively outside redneck territory.

Both groups resent paying exorbitant prices for services and products, and I'm not talking about grumbling while they fork over the cash. They resent doing so, and will not pay. They'll just make one up rather than part with their hard-earned cash for whatever dodad or thingamajig they need. Don't push 'em, because they'll do it.

If you throw in a case of beer, they'll make it spew flames.

If you bring food, it's a party!

I have to say we (Zorak and I) much prefer redneck music to hillbilly music, but that's an acquired taste, and I am sure the boys will grow up thinking the banjo is the most commonly used instrument known to man. *sigh* Every good redneck knows it's the steel guitar. Geographical issues. There's not much to be done about that.

And that's the thing. We like rednecks and hillbillies. We have chosen to make hillbilly country our home, second to redneck country (which we loved, but couldn't make a living in, and abject poverty just isn't quaint, no matter what the kitschy plaques say), and far and above yankee territory. Sure, they make the more cosmopolitan crowd cringe. That's okay. I'd rather have an old hillbilly or redneck pull over on the side of the road to offer me assistance any day. There's no trying to get reception on the cell phone, or help waving down a cop. He'll pop the hood, break out the bailing wire and duct/electrical tape and I'll be back on the road with a hat tip and a smile in a jiffy. There are many other things to love about the redneck/hillbilly society:

You will not leave their homes hungry if they have anything to say about it.

Whittling. 'Nuff said. That's just cool.

Food and a case of inexpensive alcohol (or, referencing the exorbitant pricing note above, homemade liquer of some vintage), and you've got yerself a party for any occasion. Nothing fancy. No speed cleaning of the house, because everyone's going to gather around the bonfire. No need to clean up because there are dogs that will take all the scraps.

Everybody's Mama can COOK. And I mean COOK.

You will never be without the aid of a pocketknife, and probably a choice of several to choose from to fit your specific need.

You're only company once. Then you're family.

Ma'am is not a derogatory age-related term. It's directly connected to the fact (assumed until you prove otherwise) that you're a Lady.

Manners matter: respect your elders, take your hat off at the table, say please and thank you, and don't spit on the floor.

Private property is just that. Home can be a safe place. There's no "flee your home" doctrine in redneck or hillbilly territory. You know where you ought not be and if you go there without permission, you're in trouble.

So, you see, I do hope I haven't upset anyone with my Hillbilly references. I do love our new Hillbilly Roots. It's just that I don't particularly like having to fix the customary hillbilly handiwork when I'm on a tight schedule. This makes me growly. It also makes me laugh, though, and that's what I've tried to share. Again, tone does not always convey.

And on that note, I am going to be late for our day if I don't get off this computer!

So kiss those babies, y'all. And their mamas, and hug those papas, and enjoy having a Hillbilly, Redneck Day! Make someone smile!


On the boys.

~John is reading short sentences now. He's thrilled. (So am I!) He climbs in bed each morning with a few books in hand, and we read while we wake up. He’s a lot of fun, and so incredibly affectionate. This is good time for him, and he needs it. His daily "reading lesson" while we're in this stage is his morning letter (a tip I gleaned from MFS a few years back). He loves taking those few quiet minutes together each morning to read a note just for him. It's good one-on-one, and it's... well, it's just good. All the way around. I love this life.

~James helped me measure and mark the mailbox post Sunday. That got us talking about angles and degrees... the next thing you know, we've marked up many boards with angles and bisections, equations and notes, and the kid owns the concept, the math, and the process of figuring this stuff out. He had a blast, and carried his "math board" into the back to show Zorak. We never did get the mailbox post finished, but we accomplished oh, so much more.

~Smidge is talking better and more regularly. He’s such a joy. I can’t believe I was so afraid of having a third child. If I’d known it’d be *him* I’d have probably tried to have twins! He’s so smiley and sweet, so exeuberant and full of expression. He loves to follow the daddy longlegs around the FH (Crissy, you would not believe the sheer quantity-in-bulk we have there!) and talk to them. If you blow gently on them, they hurry, and he thinks that is the. funniest. thing. He tried blowing on me the other day, though, while we were walking down the hill. Methinks I was moving a bit too slowly for his toddler pace.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, November 7

The Remodel, Day 14, The Highlights

~All the necessary components of the bathroom are now... *drum roll, please* in the living room! But hey, they're ON THE PROPERTY! It's a glorious bath-in-a-box (er, boxes, actually). I must say, with a bit of imagination and x-ray vision, it's beautiful.

~The fridge is on order. It'll be here (good Lord willing) on Wednesday. No more living out of the cooler half of each week. Yay!

Not New:
~I can't even discuss the stove right now without having a palsy overtake my right eye. Something must give. Soon.

~We stopped by the cabinet shop at Home Depot today to see Gary, who had asked us to stop by, and he was gone. Of course. Jon, Emily, and Missy were also unavailable to assist us. That, evidently, makes up the whole kit 'n caboodle of Decatur's Home Depot cabinetry department, yet not a one of 'em was there. Weird. I have, however, decided the bookshelves in our living room would make wonderful kitchen cabinet stand-bys. So not all is lost. It's just taking a while.

Weird (and probably unnecessary):
~There was a strange odor in the neighborhood today. It smells like all the dogs in the county gathered for a fecal compilation contest. My first thought was that the septic had backed up, but no, that's not it. Then, of course, we peered cautiously into our Hillbilly Toilet (the one that's sitting on the front porch, awaiting execution) to see if anyone mistakenly used it sans plumbing. No, that's not it (whew - I cannot say how glad I am that this wasn't it!) We thought perhaps it was the polecat that met its fate on the main road a few days ago... but this isn't a bodily tissue odor, not even for a skunk. Something terrible seems to have happened to someone, or something, in the neighborhood - brownie pranks gone wrong, or Junior went off his meds and is running amok with the prunes... something. It is not, however, on our property, or our doing. THAT'S a relief! It also, however, means it's not in our power to make. it. stop. NOT such a relief...

~Have I mentioned lately how very much I love our bathroom faucets? They're my Happy Spot right now. I wanted to hang them from the ceiling as a motivator, but Zorak thought that was a little weird, even for me. Still, I can look at the picture on the box and give off small, happy sighs over those beautiful little faucets. Really, I love them.

Cool Idea: Now that we've been here seven months, and have a pretty good average to base this on...
~The boys and I have decided to take the money we would spend this week on late fees at the library and hit the used bookstore to fill our library basket. That way, while the money will still be gone, at least we can keep the books. Zorak made a Marge Simpson-like groan when I mentioned our plan, but the boys think it was a stroke of pure genius. We can't wait.

Well, now it's quite late, and there are so very many things running through my head, but I have a huge "S*** to Do List" for tomorrow (yes, that's the title at the top of the page), and so I'd best get going so I can get it all done with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. Or something like that. Truthfully, I'm looking to not yell at anybody. If I can do that, we'll call it good. But it sounds so much better the first way, no?

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, November 6

On Selling Products (More for the "How to Lose A Sale" file)

I don't know what it is with us and salespeople, but...

So we talked with Buford at the Lowe's in Decatur about cabinets.

October 30th: We took our sketches, CAD drawings, measurements to Buford. We had all the details ironed out. Please give us a quote. We would like to order this week. He said it might be ready Monday, but would be ready "by Thursday at the latest". Sounds so simple...

October 31st: I call to check in. It's not ready. That's okay, it's short notice, and it's a holiday. He'll call us Thursday to go over the quote.

November 3rd: Haven't heard from him by six, so I give him a ring. Still not ready. It will be ready tomorrow.

November 6th: (I gave him a couple of days so he could be the one to call us.) Ahhh, no. Buford is off today. Here's your file... but, uh, it's not been worked up.


Ya know, please leave him a note to go ahead and cancel the quote. We'll go with someone who would like to work with us. Thank you.


Who knew it would be so hard to spend money???


A Funny from Last Night

We were at B&C's house for supper, just getting ready to head out. I asked the boys as they got to the door if they needed to go potty. James said, "Oh, yes, I do." And proceeded to keep going out. the. door.

I called him back and said, "Hey, Buddy. The bathroom's that way!"

He laughed sheepishly and mumbled, "Oh yeah, I'm used to being at the Forever Home."

Evidently he was headed for the nearest tree...

Kiss those babies!

The Remodel, Day 13

We have subfloor in all the pertinent parts of the house! It's starting to look like somebody intends to live there one day!


Saturday, November 5

The Remodel...

I don't know what day it is, twelfth? Now that Zorak's schedule has changed, things are a bit wonky. We get a half day of work in every weekday and then our full weekends. I feel like we're either there, or on the road. (And I would dearly love to know who sneaks in and trashes the apartment while we're gone!) We are, however, only about two weeks out from being able to move in. THAT is exciting. Doesn't translate well into words, I fear, but that's okay.

Yesterday we helped Ben & Claudia get their washer and dryer settled in, enjoyed lunch at the BBQ joint just behind their house (Sweet!), and then worked on our house for the rest of the day. Just around sunset, they came driving up for a visit. You'd have thought the boys had spotted Santa flying onto the property! "They've come! They're here! They're really here! They've come!" They shouted and cavorted with gusto I haven't seen since... well, since Christmas.

They stayed and visited for a bit. The boys ran amok. Their little David is quite a trooper - I don't know how he keeps up with the rest of 'em, but he sure does. Ben played with the fire and the boys. Claudia visited with me while I got a little work done. Zorak got to talk Building Things with Ben's dad. When darkness settled on the ol' homestead, we broke out glow sticks for the kids and threw some supper on the grill. (Yakitori for the boys and "steak on a stick" for the grownups! Yum!)

Zorak told Ben's parents that he really appreciated their positive feedback, as it helps to hear from someone that we aren't insane. They both instantly cracked up and announced, "Oh, no, Dear, you ARE insane! But it's good because you're doing it together." Heh Heh. Yeah, they get it.

They headed out to put their boys to bed and do more unpacking. (I think seeing our house in its current condition helped Claudia feel a little less overwhelmed with her place, which is all ritzy with walls and floors and such.) We stayed and worked until eleven, when the boys simply couldn't hang any longer. They all fell asleep as we loaded them into the Suburban, so the ride home was awfully quiet.

It's going to be another long day. We've enjoyed snuggle time and a light breakfast, and now they're cuddled on the couch together watching cartoons whle I decompress over coffee. Zorak's out there now, and I am giving the boys a little down time before we head out this morning. It's so good.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, November 4

Quick Post Over Coffee

Good Morning! It's a lovely, cold Friday morning. Everyone is still asleep, and while I should wake them up so we can get to the house early... I don't wanna. My inner introvert is about to become a neurotic mess from the utter lack of down time or time alone or time with a book. So, I'm sipping an overly-creamered cup of scalding hot coffee and enjoying the sounds of morning traffic (enjoying it because I won't have to deal with it once we're Home - yay!)

The house is coming along. Today is Zorak's every-other-Friday off, so it'll be a full day at the pad.

Chimney guy came. Chimney guy refused to speak to me. This guy simply did not care to speak to a woman about these things. I hovered beside Zorak and fought off flashbacks of living in NC many years ago, while Zorak talked with him about stuff us womenfolk just couldn't possibly understand. (What? You mean like the fact that a liner for the chimney probably shouldn't cost as much as the one you're trying to sell us? Yeah, I feel dumb.)

We've decided the previous owners were either severely manic, or possibly suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder. It's also possible they were just total hillbillies and knew what they were doing but didn't care. The wood stove in the basement is connected to the chimney with three different types of stove pipe - none of which is the right stuff for the wood stove in the basement. One piece is actually for a range - as in, a kitchen range. It's not even the right size (the difference, of course, being made up for with duct tape - possibly leftovers from their kitchen remodeling project?)

Good news: the wood stove in the basement is a monster stove in decent condition that can be used.

Bad news: it can't be used in it's current configuration.

That's not too bad. We can either buy a stove kit from the store and put it in the living room for now, or we can line the entire chimney and add the right size pipe and use it from below. Or we can buy a new wood burning stove and pretend the one in the basement is for baking wayward children into pies.

Emily has migrated up under my ribcage - waaay up under there. I think she may be an amazon child, which will help keep our freezer full once she begins hunting, but in the meantime, I'm wondering just how many organs can get stuffed up into my throat before cutting off all breathing function. Other than that, though, feeling great, doing wonderfully and getting absostinkinglutely huge.

And so, I'm off to get caught up reading and writing. Y'all have a great day, and please know that if I don't call, comment, email, or send smoke signals, I'm not ignoring you, I'm buried in the house somewhere.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, November 3

Longer Than Summer Solstice

That's how yesterday felt. Our morning careened out of control, then came back between the yellow lines and we were all okay. Then, out of nowhere, came The Afternoon...

It all began simply enough. Zorak would head to the house to work. The boys and I would head to Home Depot in Decatur to pick up the will call items we'd purchased. Now, first off, these items had been purchased one evening, but then the staff decided they really couldn't get them together that night and so they voided the transaction, but said they'd hold the stuff for us until the next day. The next day we had to round everything up again, and pay. But they did let us pay and said we could pick up the will call items the next day. ooookay...

1:29PM - The boys and I arrive. They can't find the transaction. Not even using the will call sheet I had on hand. Then they find it and will be "right out".

1:50PM - Ohhhh, no. Sorry. They're out of 3/4" tongue-and-groove OSB. They'll have some Friday, though, so we can come back then. But they have the tub.

2:00PM - Oh, wait, they can't find the tub. No, they have the tub, but it's way up high so it'll be a little while before they can reach it.

While we wait, I inquire as to whether we could somehow pick up the OSB from another Home Depot store. No, they aren't connected. Oh. OK. If we void this transaction and refund our money, would another store honor the discount code we'd used? Angela, who is the absolute BESTEST MOST WONDERFULLEST EMPLOYEE at the Decatur Home Depot, called the one in Madison (NW of Huntsville) to find out. Yep. They will do that.

An hour later, I have a refund and Angela is well-acquainted with James, the only child who was awake during this process. Yay.

3:05PM - But, um, where's my tub?

I guess the guys had spent the last hour and fifteen minutes looking for the lift thing to get the tub down. They finally found it - parked right there in front of the pickup.

3:30PM - Here comes the tub. (Which, not related to yesterday's adventure, is not a deep tub, nor even a nice tub. It's a regular tub. I'm disappointed, but don't know how to handle emotional reactions in engineers and so simply opted to voice my disappointment and leave it at that.)

The guys load it. Upright. Straight down the middle of the bed. And tie it with twine.

"Um, I know y'all do this for a living, but don't you think that might tip if I, um, turn?"

The guy scoffs a bit and says, "Oh no, we do it like this all the time. It's fine. See?" He grabs the tub top and begins to wiggle it. It sways like Old Glory. "Hmmm..."

They turn it around and begin to lay it down. With the tub at the tailgate end of the bed, facing the cab... think drag racing parachutes. More twine.

Me, feeling quite awkward by now... (I've been there nearly two hours, I have to pee, and I don't trust any of them to stack lumber properly by this point) "You know, I have about a half hour drive on the highway. I, um, well, don't you think that'll cause a bit of drag?"

The guy glares at me and says, "You're going to have drag no matter what!"

This pushes me to quit feeling awkward and get a bit bold. "I'm aware of how drag works, as well as how to lessen the coefficient, and that. is. not. it."

At this point, a Specialist walks out and the guys ask him how he would load the tub. He takes one look and says, "Well, NOT like THAT!" I smirked and walked back to the cab while he helped Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum get it loaded properly.

3:55PM - We head out with a tub that has been partially mangled (but I don't notice that until we got to the house). Call Zorak to let him know I'm on my way. He suggests taking 565 to 67 instead of coming down 65.
*blink* *blink* What??
"Aren't you coming from the Madison store?"
*snort* Explain the status, Ohhhhh, okay.

4:45PM - I dropped off the tub, kissed the boys, and headed to Madison. It's rush hour now, but that's okay. I have names. I have written authorization to do this. I will have OSB soon.

5:21PM - Coming up the road, the train lights begin to blink and the bumper-to-bumper traffic grinds to a halt as the bars descend. I'm close to the front and have a good view. Totally bummed that I'd left the boys at the house - they'd have enjoyed this.

5:22PM - Is the train slowing down???

5:25PM - Train. Stops.

5:50PM - Train resumes forward motion, and enough cars have left the line that I'm near the front. Yay. Forgot I was driving a standard and stall. Crap. Got going. Yay!

6:20PM - The train really backed up traffic in all directions. Finally made it the two or so miles to the Madison Home Depot. Both contacts are at dinner. This is where I start getting a little wobbly, and my ability to laugh and say it's okay is starting to wane a bit.

The rest of this is a blur, but I can say that the folks at the Madison Home Depot are phenomenally organized, kind, helpful, and really really normal. I love them. They got it all set up, cleared, and ready to go.

7:09PM - Loaded the pickup (which dropped like a low-rider with the load), slapped her on the tail(gate) and sent us on our way with the admonition to put more air in the tires (which had been squished flat like pancakes).

The drive home was not good. I was tired, emotionally and physically. I could not get into a turn lane to come around and ended up going all the way to another town I didn't want to go to before I found a place with air. It was eight before I got back to the house.

We worked for two and a half hours longer, then came home. And I crashed. I'm pretty sure yesterday was at least 36 hours long. It had to have been.

But did ya notice we have the OSB now? *grin*

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, November 2

Neat Things About Kids

There are a lot of neat things about kids. Namely, they're kids. They aren't hung up on *whisper* not asking awkward questions. If they want to know. They ask. Until we squish that habit out of them. They will laugh at anything remotely funny. Or gross. Or embarrassing. Pretty much anything will make them laugh. Until, once again, we incorporate "social protocol" into the situation and stifle their laughter. They willingly help when asked, offer when not asked, and wait to be asked. Until we insist that they "do it right". Then, not so much.

But I like kids. And while I do think discussions of ovaries are best not shared in public, and the Top Ten Things That Gross Me Out list should probably be saved for an hour (at least) after eating, I'm good with not entirely squishing things out.

OK, please don't burst into giggles when the elderly man at the table next to us passes gas. Please. Because if you start, your father will start... and one of you will eventually pass gas, at which point the giggles will be so bad someone will fall off the chair. And then there's no help but for me to hide in the bathroom until it's time to leave.

And help is help. It's the love that stems from it, not the end result. To be trite, the end justifies nothing, really. The process is where the meat is, and the end will come of its own accord long, long after we're gone and forgotten. The covers are lopsided, the floor has wet mopped specks stuck to the kickboard, and the TV screen is smeared worse than when it was just dusty. But there's laughter, pride, and effort - and those are the things that will eventually bring the skills up to par. In the meantime, yes, it looks like we hired a maid service from the home for the comatose. It's okay.

Because the kids live here, too. And I'm so, so glad.

When we left Home Depot yesterday, two boys rode in the truck and James decided to ride with me because I had "nobody to talk to except Emily and she just doesn't talk much yet". I'm sure y'all can see that perspective plays a huge role in how that situation could be viewed. But he rode with me, and we had a great time. We talked about what it's like to be a boy and to be a girl. His perspective on what it's like to be a boy cracked me up, floored me, left me in awe, and really warmed my heart. He shared secrets with me (he has secrets?!?!? ack!), and I told Mommy stories. With no other interruptions, it was so nice to reconnect with my sometimes-exacerbating seven year-old. The drive felt rather short this time.

We talked about how important it is to look out for one another, and we played some "what if" games revolving around situations that might arise while playing on the property. I asked him how he would feel if he was doing something dangerous and John came and got help. He said he'd rather John tell him first that it was dangerous and give him the chance to do the right thing. OK, well, what if you were certain it was not dangerous and were determined to do it, but he came and got help? Would you appreciate that he cared enough to keep you safe?

"WOW!" he said, "that's a hard question! If I didn't know it was dangerous, then I wouldn't think he needed to be getting help, and I probably wouldn't appreciate it at all!"

Wow, I didn't think he had the ability to sort through it like that.

And so, the discussion ensued as we drove along the marshes and river bends. It was good. I like having two vehicles, and might see about rotating the boys around so Zorak and I can add in some one-on-one time with each boy over the days. We've missed that, and they've missed the attention that comes from it. If we stay flexible and alert, solutions will avail themselves to us.

And today is a busy, busy day! But right now, Zorak is at work, John is up, and the other two are asleep, so I'm thinking this is prime time for a little one-on-one with this one. I'd love to hear what he has to say.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, November 1

How The Grinch Saved Halloween

Whew, that was a close one! I realized Sunday night, around ten o'clock, that Halloween was Monday! Monday! Noooooooooo!

Pumpkins? Nope.
Costumes? Nuh-uh.
Candy? Shyah, right.
Decorations? OK, if you're still asking at this point, you're not getting it. ;-)

We might as well have been living in, oh, August, for all the Halloween preparations we'd done.

Sadly, my Inspector Gadget-like children, who must have some sort of hearing magnification devices implanted in their little heads, heard me moan, "Oh great. Tomorrow's Halloween." (Nobody was supposed to hear that!) Well, now I was busted. Trapped. Bouncing, joy, and overall enthusiasm ensued in the back seat of the pickup. Yeah, I'll never get away with ignoring it now.

So yesterday we got up, talked about Halloween, stalled, baked pumpkin, stalled some more... Googled "Holiday Coloring Pages" and printed off a few for the boys to decorate and put up on the door (stall, stall, stall). LB called and we exchanged pumpkin baking ideas. She wasn't any better prepared than I was, but she was enthusiastic about it. Well, cool! She helped me get my energy channeled, and we were OFF!

To the store for costumes. Just have fun with it. Pick whatever you want. If we have to put something together, we will. It'll be okay. I'll make you some play clothes in the spring, ok? OK!

The defaulter's list got pretty high:
Green dragon-dinosaur looking thing. James said, "I don't think I'm quite that kind of an adventurous kid."

Reddish-purple dragon with awesome huge gold wings and twisty purple horns (like the one in Sleeping Beauty!) John was awed. Then suddenly made a face. "Mom, that's a girl. No." What?!? It's a dragon! Dragons don't have gender! "Maahhhm!" he says, cocking his eyebrows at me and pointing at it, "It has eyelashes." Ohhhhh... good point.

Smidge was easy. Fuzzy, orange tiger suit. Soft. Snuggly. Did I mention fuzzy? He was in heaven.

We left the store with Batman, Superman and Tiger Cub in tow. And buckets. And candy. Zorak was nearly subjected to a pirate costume, but that would've been more for my own entertainment than the actual Halloween spirit. The boys pointed out that he didn't have the boots to go with it, though, and vetoed the suggestion.

Then it was off to find pumpkins. No small feat, but we did it. The lady at the Church Of Outrageously Priced Pumpkins thought the boys were adorable, wanted to get rid of her Outrageously Priced Pumpkins, and the boys clinched the deal when they picked out a pumpkin for Emily. Awwww. We walked out of there with armloads of pumpkins for a fairly decent price. Yay!

Since this is an apartment complex in a nice part of town, we guessed that it would be inundated with ghouls and Licensed Disney Characters in search of a sugar high. We picked up many, many bags of candy. James made a reversible sign: "Welcome! We have candy!" on one side, "Sorry, we're out trick or treating." on the other. We stayed home to carve pumpkins and play for a bit. No visitors. Hmmm. Weird. Well, let's head out and recon a bit. Not a soul in the neighborhood. It was as if the Child Catcher from Vulgaria had scoured our complex! So we drove over to a few areas and the boys had a lovely time.

They were so good to Smidge, helping him up the steps, reminding him to say "Thank you", proudly showing him off to the onlookers and announcing that he is their baby brother! They laughed, giggled, held our hands and hugged us between houses. Zorak and I roamed around behind them, grinning like fools. They pounced up to doorsteps, talking about all the decorations, complimenting the homeowners on their webs and lights. This is parenthood at one of it's most relaxed, enjoyable moments. Your children have the opportunity to be ill-mannered little heathens, and they don't take it. Ooohhhh, that's nice.

We came home, watched Ice Age, and then, to bed. Happy Halloween, indeed.

Although next year, I hope to be a wee bit more prepared. I mean, this was short-notice planning, even for me. And now, on to ignore November until the 23rd or so! Weee!

Kiss those babies!