Saturday, December 31

Poor Pup

We thought Balto had found the bean sprouts and had gone on some bizarre vegan rampage. But no, *sigh*. He has worms. Poor little guy. And poor Zorak, because I am not touching any messes that might arise from this. Not now. Not that. Ew.

Called a vet who has come highly recommended, both from Ben & Claudia and from Wonderful Realtor. Their office was closing in just a couple of minutes and they were completely slammed, but the lady was very accomodating about making recommendations for what we can do in the interim, and penciling us in for a visit first thing Tuesday morning.


Wash your hands first, then kiss those babies!

Friday, December 30

Scratch That

I updated my sidebar (everyone please check your links to make sure they work - I think I'm all caught up). Alaska, you can never move your blog again. Ever. Please. :-) I'll clean it up and make it a bit less sporadic at a later time, but right now...

Zorak just cleaned the tub, and we bought more grapefruit soda at Wally World today, so guess what I'm going to blow my evening doing!!!


Kiss those babies,

Quick Blog, Then Back to Work

This morning was gloriously beautiful. We awoke to find our meadow, and in fact, our home, encased in a glittery, shimmering fog. I could hear the morning critters scampering about overhead, but could only see the dim shadows of limbs rebounding from some unseen creature's leap. It was magnificient. Zorak and I stood in the kitchen, crouched together in front of the one tiny light sucking hole er, window, both contemplating whether we actually need car insurance or electricity if we could instead use that money to put in a bigger kitchen window now. Mmmm, we decided to wait. It's not always fun to be the GrownUp.

You know, sometimes we feel like cueing up the Team America theme song, and sometimes we feel a lot like Tuck and Roll (from A Bug's Life). It's certainly been an interesting process so far.

The living room is now completely insulated, wired, and sheetrocked. We added one. more. outlet. It's a total pain in the netheregions, but it'll never be less of a pain than it is right now. And after a small scare in the kitchen last night, we've learned our lesson. (I stood there holding the coffee pot, thinking, "Crap. We need more outlets." Turns out they are there, they were just hidden.) We figure we won't ever look around the room and think to ourselves, "Gosh, I sure wish we didn't have an extra outlet in here." When I get done blogging tonight, I'm going to go slap some mud on the screws and then do a little more painting. (We're adding just. one. more layer of paint to the floors. Extra protection for the next five months, as well as changing the color to hide the traffic a bit better.) It's coming along, bit by bit.

Zorak is preparing the bath for priming and then hopefully I can tile it tomorrow. Then it will be done. Finito. El end. Yay.

The boys are doing so well. They're great with Balto (and he's great with them). They love seeing the house tangibly come together each day (there was much dancing and singing to commemorate the completion of the drywall in the living room). They still haven't quite shaken the Ick that descended upon us at Christmas, but from what I've read around the blogosphere, nobody has, so I'm not too worried. I figure if they're eating and getting water and have enough energy to run the property for hours on end, then they're not that bad off. Plus, with all the work going on inside, the more outdoors time they get, the better. (This dog has been an absolute Godsend for my sanity, believe it or not. It doesn't matter what the weather's like outside, or what video they spy in the cabinet, if the puppy is outside, they are outside. How could I not love that?!?)

Three more days of a long weekend to get some serious work done. That feels great. So, I'm off to do a bit more and then to bed with some tea and a book. Have a lovely Saturday, all!

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, December 29

OK, I take it back! (The Countertops Arrived)

I *do* want people to call before coming over!! Yikes!

Not friends or family, of course -- but installers? Yes. You need to call me and tell me you are on your way, or at least two blocks from my home. Please.

The last I'd heard from the Corian folks, they'd be here Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and they would call ahead of time to schedule it. Well, using my astounding powers of deduction (having not heard from them Monday or Tuesday), I realized this morning that they would most likely arrive today. So I stayed by the phone and waited... and waited... and waited... finally, with the boys all settled in and a fair warning that I would make them do useless busywork if they bickered, I grabbed the phones and headed in to take a bath (my semi-annual bath -- hygiene standards have taken a serious dive the past few months).

I relish the mere prospect of bath time for myself lately. It's a rare and wonderful treat, the essence of which Willy Wonka couldn't have captured. I got a big glass of crushed ice and grapefruit soda (my latest obsession). I grabbed Claudia's copy of Eldest. I ran a full tub of scalding hot water and lined up the various sloughing products to make myself feel all feminine and... well, actually "feminine" is a bit of a stretch at this point. I was shooting for less angry-big-foot-meets-mountain-lumberjack-chick-ish. That would have been nice.

I'm in the water not three minutes, still writhing in pain from the scalding my legs are taking, when there is a pounding on the door. Smidge is standing in the hallway yelling, "Door!" John is screaming out the window, "It's the countertop men!" And I'm swearing under my breath, wondering just how weird it would be to have James answer the door and show them where to start while I stayed put. Hmmm... Nah, so we relay the message down the hallway that I'll be "right there" and I scramble grudgingly to don some clothes and put on a happy face.

But in spite of my enthusiasm over having countertops (and the enthusiasm bordered on censorable, believe me), I did not have a happy face. The first thing Installer Guy says is, "So, are you ready for us?" No. No, actually, I'm not. I was taking a bath, which may seem like no big deal for you, but you are not forty pounds heavier than usual with loose ligaments and a thin sheen of fiberglass insulation coating your sensitive parts, now, are you? Argh. One thirty-second phone call would have saved me a whole lot of grief and frustration. (Of course, that was my inner dialogue. All that actually came out was, "No, actually. I was told to expect a phone call to set up a time. *maniacal smile*.") It's now midnight and I never did get my bath. Hmpf.

BUT, it's all worth it. The countertop is splendid. It blends perfectly with the range and the cabinets. It flows. It holds stuff off the floor. It looks so... intentional. Thanks to the wonderful sample sheet, the paint we picked for the walls highlights it perfectly. It's beautiful.

Zorak loves it. He keeps muttering, "swanktastic", and making up other words to convey his pleasure. He also keeps caressing the edges in a way he hasn't done since we bought The Mistress.

The boys love it. We ate supper at the breakfast bar tonight, and it was great. Smidge stayed put and actually ate (been an issue lately, but once he falls off the bench at the table, his concentration is shot and he's off 'n running). John not only finished first, but had seconds and then stayed there to hang out and visit (oh, joy - that is so what we were shooting for!!) James said, "Thank you for making the kitchen like this." ?? Like what, Hoss? "With this breakfast bar we can sit at and hang out in. We can do stuff here, and I like that. So, thank you." Mmmm, that's exactly why we did this place the way we did, kiddo -- for you guys, for us, for the whole team. They love it.

The boys and I felt indescribably decadent sitting on the futon while the installers worked. But what else could we do? At one point, I nudged James and said, "So, how does it feel to have someone else doing the work on something around here?" He giggled and said it felt really good. He's right. It did feel pretty good.

But I could really have used a bath, and that was the last of the grapefruit soda. I suppose that when I do get one, though, it'll be all the better for the wait. And I can set my cup on those magnificent countertops!

But now I'm pooped, and am off to bed.
Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, December 28

Banish That Hillbilly Porch Decor!

I wish I knew how to make nifty accent marks, but hey, who needs to use them when you've also used the word "hillbilly" in the same sentence?

Today we cleared off the front porch. It's not that we use it, er, rather that's been the problem. We first used it as the construction debris holding cell - both bathrooms ended up on the porch until the construction dumpster we rented could be delivered. Unsightly, but functional. Also, perfectly obvious that this is "construction trash", not... you know, the other kind. Then we used it as a staging area for large appliances that had no home yet, for splitting kindling, and for setting the trash somewhere other than the foyer. Again, functional, but growing increasingly unattractive.

Fast forward seven weeks... and ya know, while the toilets and forty tons of plaster and tile have been removed many days past, the washing machine (not a trashed one, but mine) is sitting there, looking quite at home. We've got Ben's cooler sitting out there, too, some fire bricks, the grill, remnants of a horrible trash day episode I'd rather forget, a few other miscellaneous things, stray wood, an axe, and a plethora of pine cones (because no, since you must ask, I cannot start a fire like a normal person and Zorak won't let me rip the paper off the insulation even though it clearly says it will burn... so, the boys collect pine cones and when they've dried on the porch, I use them like mini-bombs to jumpstart the fire in the mornings). But I digress...

The porch had gone from clearly construction trash status to borderline "someone's gonna post this on one of those shame sites" status. And while it bothered us, let's face it, we've had other things to contend with. As long as one could get in and back out without inflicting arterial damage to one's person, it was easy to ignore.

But today - *poof* Like magic, the front porch has gone from slightly imposing and creepy to bright and fresh and "hey, we can hang out here and look for stars". Ooooo. OK, it wasn't magic. We just all got out there and put things where they belonged, swept, and sorted. That was worth the whopping half hour it took, wasn't it? Sadly, yes, it was. I'm just ashamed that it took so long to get around to it. I think Zorak will enjoy the difference when he comes home tomorrow and pulls up to a home that looks lived in rather than squatted in.

The wood was delivered and set far enough away that if we don't use all of it by spring, it won't be an organic beacon for critters to gather near the house over the summer. (Yet, thankfully, slightly uphill, so even I can bring in wood when necessary- just push it with my feet, if I have to. Yay. It's the small things.)

Tomorrow is countertop day! Yippee! Guess I ought to remove the chipboard and mdf we've been using since Christmas night...

The boys had their semi-annual bath tonight. OK, I'm joking. And I realized immediately after writing it that after describing the front porch, I probably shouldn't joke about things like that. Ah, well, it's a weird world. Anyhow, all that just to say it was a normal day. A nice day. A productive day, and a wonderful day. The boys all piled on John's bed for ten minutes of quiet reading time. They just wanted to be together. So I added time to their regular reading time and split it in half - first half together, second half in their own beds. (They do need that alone time, as well - not touching anyone, not talking to anyone - to help unwind a bit). We read stories. Everyone needed water. Random bathroom trips. I know this isn't what every mother envisions for the ultimate bedtime routine, but it feels very good. I'm thankful to have these boys to read to and bring water to, and even to remind for the umpteenth time not to dawdle in the bathroom at bedtime. This whole experience wouldn't be the same without them. And I'm thankful.

Zorak just walked in, kissed me, and said, "Boy, it feels really good to step onto a finished surface." Yes, I'm thankful. And if the weather's nice over the weekend, we can picnic on the front porch.

Kiss those babies!

WOOHOO - Wood!

We broke down and bought a cord of wood to be delivered to the house. The delivery date was "sometime this week", so we've been waiting it out and watching our current supply dwindle (did I tell y'all that story?) The guy just called and will be here in about an hour! YAY!

And as an added bonus, it's been so lovely here yesterday, through the night, and today, that we haven't needed a fire for the first time since we moved in. I can clean the wood stove out. Yahoo!

There's sheetrock on one wall of the living room now, thanks to Zorak. Insulation in the dining room, and paint in the hallway today. I didn't think about texturing the rest of the bathroom before I painted the hallway, though, so that's going to have to wait a few hours, but it'll be done and ready to prime tonight. Oh. How. Thrilling.

And wood! Yay!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, December 27

Slowing Down a Bit

Well, it was bound to happen. I saw it coming, but I'm still not happy about it. I have an inner control freak to feed, you know. But here it is, and today about all I accomplished was picking up the kitchen faucet and general domestic work. I'm sure Zorak is starting to Suspect that I'm malingering. But I'm not, really. Physically, I feel great, other than the normal third trimester aches and pinches. The problem is my head. My head's just a little fuzzy. It's as if I've broken my mental fine tuning knob and can't. quite. see. the next thing to do.

I realized this morning, as I cleaned up the third puppy puddle, relegated the middle boy to cleaning up the styrofoam he'd shredded with a stick all over the dining room (All by myself? Yes, dear, all by yourself, just like you made that mess in the first place *smile*), pointed out to the eldest child that if he had been picking things up off the floor like he was *supposed to be doing* he wouldn't have ground that orange slice into the rug in his room, tracked the trail of spilled egg nog from the kitchen sink back to the eldest son's boot (he has no peripheral vision, I'm convinced of it), steer-roped the youngest child for the umpteenth time to try to get the snotsicles under control (drawback to homeschooling: he hasn't been sick enough to become a proficient nose blower yet), and kicked that stoopid Thomas toy for the fourth time in as many minutes...

... that I needed to set some goals and get on them, or Zorak was going to come home to find the children and the dog locked outside and me in bed with a book and my own box of tissues.

So I set five goals for today:
1 To the Pet Depot for supplies (ie - something for the puppy to chew on other than Smidge's feet, no wonder the child thinks he's going to be eaten)
2 To Home Depot for a kitchen sink (so the installers can drill the sink out for it while they're here and we don't have to mess up a perfectly nice sink ourselves)
3 Wire outlets for the living room (Zorak got off early today because he went in at some unholy hour, and he's ready to sheetrock those two walls)
4 Hang insulation in the dining room, and if I have time, wire those outlets, too.
5 Make turkey soup and pumpkin bread for supper (the carcass is simmering now)

I accomplished #'s 1, 2, and 5. That was it. Zorak put in the last two rows of insulation while James and I wired outlets, but it wasn't ready when he got home this afternoon. The soup was tasty, though. That's gotta count for something. If it doesn't, then it ought to. And I did throw together pumpkin muffins for the boys' afternoon snack and a loaf of pumpkin bread for breakfast tomorrow.

My children need me right now, and ironically, I need a nanny. Not for them, for me. In the professional world, they refer to them as Personal Assistants, or even Executive Secretaries. But they're nannies: responsible, organized adults who take care of, run herd on, tend to, and otherwise assist those of us who just can't get that grip on the next thing. I should have plopped my butt down on Santa's lap last week and asked for one. What's he going to say? No? (Well, yeah, but that's beside the point.)

Anyhow, that was the day today. Pretty mundane, boring stuff, unless egg nog spills excite you. In that case, it was a banner day.

Oh. Smidge. My wee Smidge. I spotted him tonight, sitting on the top bunk with his back to the ladder, head bobbing side to side like he was at a Raffi concert. Spider sense went off (a bit late, might want to get my batteries checked) so I called and asked him what he's doing. He flipped around with the biggest deer-in-the-headlights look I've ever seen, and both cheeks completely puffed out. It seems he has discovered James' stocking stash. The little nutmonkey waits for James to be otherwise engaged, then hightails it up the ladder to pillage the loot. I have no idea how long this has been going on, but at least when I asked him if he was eating James' candy, he nodded happily and 'fessed up. Tomorrow I will reimburse James from Smidge's stocking and James gets the fun task of trying to find a place to hide his things from his wily and stunningly stealthy-for-a-2-year-old baby brother. Ah, the joys of being the eldest sibling.

I sure wish some of y'all would get blogging regularly again - I don't get nearly the RDA of relaxing front porch time lately. ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, December 26

Coming Down, Posting Pictures, and Getting Back to Work

I don't wanna get back to work!! OK, whine over.

We're down to just a few things in the living room and dining room and then they will be done for now. I have 2 or 3 weeks left until this baby arrives, and Zorak is beginning to get panicky, so he worked his tail off today on the wiring in those two rooms. I get to insulate them tomorrow and wire the outlets, then we'll hang the drywall on them when he gets home in the evening. The holidays are over.

Next on the agenda is the laundry closet. Hauling all of our clothing to the laundromat once a week or so is: (a) too expensive to make sense, and (b) too much of a test of my creative mothering abilities to stand at this point. Before this month, the last time I'd done my wash in public, I was single and hungover. I can honestly say it's much more fun in that condition. You can take a book and your Hi-C/Mountain Dew remedy and just hibernate near the warmth of the dryers and wait for the world (and the wash) to stop spinning. When you're sober and trailing three children, it's a whole new world. Not a pretty world, either. So. I need a laundry closet pronto. :-) But Zorak says we need to have more things actually in a finished state before moving on to another project. *snort* Fine. Be all organized and logical about it. One of us has to, at this point, I suppose.

We will have counters tomorrow, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Totally depends on who cancels or not over the next couple of days. The wonderful Corian folks have us on the top of their cancellation fill-in list, so if any spot opens in Northern Alabama, it's ours. Bwaaahaaahaaaaa!!! Of course, that means the boys will be dragged to Home Depot tomorrow to buy a kitchen faucet before their wee little stomachs can digest whatever gruel I throw at them at o'dark hundred. Wonderful way to start the day when there are Hot Wheels tracks and train sets beckoning to you in a warm, comfy home.

The boys and I have so enjoyed this break. It's been fun to be normal again (relatively speaking, I know). It's been nice to get to bed a bit early and read, read, read until the boys slowly drop off, one prolonged blink at a time. It's been fun to sit with them and talk with them over mid-morning snacks, to run errands that take them nowhere near Lowe's or the local hardware store. I'm a bit sad that the break is over, but as the caffeine kicks in, I'm ramping up and will awake tomorrow with the requisite enthusiasm to dive in.

Zorak, not so much. It's difficult for him to block out the wiring and empty studs and just read something non-tehnical. He can't justify spending the entire day on the futon, sipping coffee, eating pie and reading quietly. Drives him nuts, when there is work to be done. I admire his work ethic, and that is a large, large part (ok, the majority) of what has brought us to this point. It's good. It's just so... foreign to me. I have the power to block it all out and pretend it's normal to do things by extension cord. I keep one tucked into my hip pocket, as a matter of fact, just so I always have power when I need it. (The trailing cord also makes it easy for the boys to find me when I get wedged somewhere and begin shouting for help. See? If you just remain adaptable...) But no. So he took the required day off yesterday from all work. He cooked, played, talked, laughed, and awoke this morning All Business, wiring and masonry bits and such. I'm thankful for him. He is the reason we will one day have a home we can allow visitors to enter without getting an OSHA pass.

So, since tomorrow it's back to work, I'll inundate you with Cute Kid Pics from the past couple of days. :-) A word of caution: so far, this has been the Christmas of Truly Bad Photographs. I don't know if it's the camera, or the photographers, but Zorak and I laughed hysterically while we looked through the pictures of the last few days. Some are just bad. Some are unintentionally hilarious (and still bad). And some... we can't figure out what happened. Like the blurry, late '60's photography we've got going on with a few shots. Dunno what's up. Sorry.

Breeding Elves aside, what James really, truly, deeply wanted this year was a first edition Buck Rogers something or other collection. And, since Santa doesn't shop at the used bookstore, but we do, he managed to get it. ;-) This rather fuzzy Big Foot sighting, er, shot of James, shows him in a state of pure ecstasy upon opening that gift from his brother.

The rest of the day, he looked a lot like this...

When he didn't look like this...

Smidge opened only one gift before noon...

That was all he needed.

John, while enjoying the hot wheels tracks and his copy of Dragonology, really has found a soul mate in Balto. This is the sitting version of what he's looked like the past two days. The mobile shots look like NASCAR race photos taken with a very slow camera. Lots of activity around here. This dog and these boys have been inseparable.

Zorak took this shot of the family hanging out on the futon this evening, just after supper (please pardon the fact that my children are filthy - it's the stocking chocolate and puppy spit combo, I think, but it did come off with a little hot water and an SOS pad.) The dog is technically on Smidge's lap, with his head on my leg. He blends into my sweater, but he's there.

And so, we're off. Kiss those babies, and enjoy your Forever.

Sunday, December 25

At The End of The Day

It's nearly nine, and I think we will all be out by nine-thirty. Smidge has been asleep since just before our company turned off the driveway onto the main road. Zorak is asleep on the couch between the boys. He has a cup of coffee in his hand. It's full. Fortunately, it's no longer hot. I tried to get it from him, but he has an iron grip. So I tried to wake him and explain the situation - you are sound asleep on the couch with a full cup of coffee upright in your hands. Without waking, he mumbled, "pretty amazing, isn't it?" But he didn't let go of the cup. The boys are hanging on only to play one round each of the Lord of the Beans Game and then they're off to bed. And I... in about twenty minutes, I'm going to curse not getting a bigger fridge as I try to stuff leftovers into every nook and cranny I can find. But other than that, I plan to put the food away, let the puppy out, stoke the fire and collapse into a deep, richly earned comatose state.


OK, I lied. It's now nine thirty, and while the dishes have been cleared, the fridge stocked, the kitchen tidied, the dog put to bed, and the fire stoked, I'm no longer tired. Go figure. Zorak finally migrated to bed, and he stoked the fire for me before he retired. Yay him. Now he's warming my side of the bed (a serious benefit of marriage, provided I can move him over in order to enjoy it when I head to bed, myself).

James is out cold. He feels better, but sounds disturbingly like Darth Vader when he breathes. I left a light on so it won't scare Smidge if he wakes.

Balto kept escaping his box (new trick, that didn't take long) to go sleep under John's bed, and John is thinking of ways to get me to allow Balto to sleep under his bed. (There is one way, and one way only - the dog must know that we do not run an indoor/outdoor restroom facility. Period. Until then, he sleeps where he must alert me when he's gotta go. Still, I do admire John's tenacity.) After retrieving the dog from under John's bed for the third time (yes, it was as humorous an image as you think, and yes, I got stuck more than once), I moved the dog's bed into the boys' room. That seems to have mollified his desire to be with the rest of the pups, per se. Either that, or the dog has decided the direct route will not work with me and has agreed simply to pretend he'll sleep in his bed - just long enough for me to leave the room, anyway. That'll work.

We had so much fun preparing food today. We learned that the convection feature on the electric oven ROCKS. It cooked an 18# turkey in an hour and a half at 350. I checked on it when I added something to the oven and, well, the thing looked done. Not "coming along nicely", but "done, ready to eat". The popup thingy had popped, too (not that those are accurate, but I was surprised). I told Zorak that it looked done. He said there's no way it's done. We had a weird exchange:

I poked it - clear juices (and copious amounts of them, too) flowed from the fully cooked turkey. "It's done. The juices run clear."

He comes into the kitchen, smirking. "Where did you poke it?" Zorak asks.

"Shyah, alright Mr. SmartyChef, you poke it and see for yourself."

He pokes it. Then he pokes it in several other spots.

Pause for dramatic effect.

"You are so weird," he says. "It's done. Take it out."

Thanks, Honey.

Well, anyhow, that threw off our entire plan. We have never had so much going on in the kitchen at one time. Normally it takes six to eight hours to get everything baked, fried, and steamed. Not today. Although it did take us forever to get done, that was more due to our lack of preparation and not having any countertops yet. It is a neat sensation, though, when it dawns on you that you can put the whole turkey in the small oven to keep it warm. And the dressing, too. At one point, the big oven held two large pans of dressing and three pies. Ok, that's not something you can do everyday. Ohhhhh, wait, yes, we can!! Cool! We just have to get used to it, now, and learn to plan cooking days more efficiently. But how totally fun.

We made the turkey and dressing (wheat-free and absolutely delicious dressing, even for wheat-eaters - all the bread products and pastries were wheat free and they turned out wonderfully), sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, ambrosia, cranberry sauce, corn, green beans, cornbread, biscuits, pumpkin pies and pecan pies. The pies got a tad overdone due to our inability to learn from our mistakes (yeah, if it'll do that honkin' bird in an hour and a half, the pies aren't going to need anywhere near the recommended time... remember that next time, Dy.) Still, it was all edible and I don't think anybody went hungry. So, that's good.

The boys have declared this The Best Christmas Ever. Zorak and I agree. We had a lovely, quiet morning with our children and their joy. We enjoyed the many blessings we have in the forms of health, friendship, love, laughter, understanding and security. I have to tell you about my wonderful Christmas gift, but would like to include a photo of it, so that'll have to wait until tomorrow. It makes me teary-eyed, though, and it's beautiful. Best of all, the boys made it themselves. It's awesome.

And on that note, I'm going to go see if anybody else blogged on Christmas night. Have a lovely day tomorrow, and as always,

Kiss those babies!

Merry, Merry Christmas

Oh, what a wonderful day this is! It's three o'clock, the pies are nearly done. Ben & Claudia and their boys will be here soon (I hope), and we've had a magnificent day. I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas, too.

Smidge came to our room this morning around four, and in his disoriented state, could have sworn there was a dog-dog in the room. Oh, no, honey, I've only been asleep for an hour. There's no dog. But LOOK, Daddy's here and he's warm and snuggly and pleasegobacktosleepnow. Fortunately, he's young and trusting and he did go back to sleep.

The puppy (Balto, by the way, it's official) had been moved from the living room to our room after the fourth bout of whining. Turns out he doesn't make a sound unless he has to pee. Very cool, although it took me a bit to catch on. Yeah, I'm slow sometimes.

Around six thirty, I heard a wee, awe-filled voice heralding the news.
"Mom, there's a puppy in the house. *pregnant pause* Santa brought me a puppy!"
I thought from the tone and softness of the voice that it was John, but when I opened my eyes, there was James, looking every bit the small little boy I haven't seen in him in so long. He was wonder-struck and delighted. John, too, came in to proclaim the news. He, too, was just as awed with the puppy. Smidge sat bolt upright and screeched, "DOG-DOG!" (which is just one word when you are two).

Balto hung out with us while we opened presents, and then when Zorak and I headed to the kitchen and the boys to their room to set up their Hot Wheels Tracks, Balto ditched us big folks and plopped down among the boys. He has claimed his pack, and he is content. That he recognized that relationship gave Zorak and I warm fuzzies of gigantic proportions.

The boys have learned that as soon as Balto awakes, you load him up and take him outside. He will do his thing. We will love on him. John then gives him a dog biscuit (this puppy is going to be obese once he catches on to that correlation). Life is good, and the floor stays dry. *whew* They let him sleep when he's tired, and give him space to come to them as he chooses. They are gentle and sweet toward him. He trembled and whimpered in his sleep this afternoon, and James gently stroked his fur and whispered consolations into his ears. Balto calmed down immediately. I oozed into a puddle of emotion and water in the kitchen.

Balto's no bigger than a football, yet Smidge is convinced that when the puppy prances up to you, it is going to eat you. The only thing for it is to yell 'noooooooooooooo' as you hightail it to the nearest adult, and scamper up the adult's leg if you can. Really, it's best that way. Just ask him. We feel like jackasses for laughing, but it's hilarious to watch. (And yes, for the record, we do hold and comfort Smidge and help distract the pup. No serious therapy bills looming from these incidents.)

Saturday, December 24

The End of the Evening

What a beautiful day. I spent several hours with ammonia and 0000 steel wool on the windows in the main living space. Funny how different things look through them now. Um, ewww. Ah, well, like I said, it wouldn't have made much difference before, anyhow. But now it's great. Someday I'll go outside and do that part, too. (Maybe.) The boys wrapped presents and sang songs. We enjoyed the next few bits of the interactive nativity. We ate like kings and cleaned like scullery maids - and the end result is quite nice.

The boys, unfortunately, were then hit with some kind of Ick. It came on this afternoon and laid them out like Tunguska. You know they don't feel well when they voluntarily crawl in bed for a nap. It's Christmas Eve! There are presents to wrap! Cookies to bake! And yet they napped. Poor little guys. We woke them for supper, let them open Polar Express and we all watched it together, snuggled under fleece blankets. They enjoyed it, and then they headed back to bed. All three have been out cold since hitting the pillows. I hope the morning finds them feeling better. On the upside, the Ick has already made its rounds through Ben & Claudia's place, so they can still come for supper tomorrow.

Zorak is en route to pick up the pup as I type. We are so thoroughly excited. The lady who gave him to us emailed the picture she'd taken in the parking lot, so, until we can post photos of the boys and their dog, here's a preview of a man and his dog. Ohhhhh, this is fun!

I suppose I should go wrap presents. Or finish cleaning the kitchen. Or do something productive. But it feels so nice not to have anything truly pressing to do at the moment. When we got this first bedroom into a sustainable condition, we were able to move the plastic sheeting that's been hanging in the foyer and the hallway entries into the living room. It's now hanging only over the doorways to the last three bedrooms. We have reclaimed the hallway, the first bedroom and the main bath, and it feels so very good. It feels so spacious. The wood stove is earning its keep, as well; it is WARM in the bathroom, and as a pregnant woman in her third trimester, I can honestly say that is a Very Happy Feeling for me.

Thank you for your comments and uplifting thoughts. They mean ever so much as we settle in here and begin the process of putting down roots. This is Forever. It is ever changing, always dynamic, unexpected and astounding. It won't always be easy, but it hasn't ever been. Yet it's always, always good.

Kiss those babies and have a Very Merry Christmas,

Merry Christmas Eve

So last night, in addition to getting the computer up and running, I got to sleep - for the first time in nearly a month - in our own bed! Oh, talk about refreshed and happy! I love and appreciate the futon, but I think I know why we found it sitting out - the thing sinks ever so slightly in the middle, so when five people pile on in the morning, woe is the mama who rolls deeply into the ditch in the middle and gets buried by the masses of bodies. I awoke this morning on a flat, level plane. Mmmmm, Merry Christmas, indeed.

Zorak and I are like a couple of kids at, well, at Christmas. We are totally psyched. We'd decided a while back that this would be The Year For A Puppy. (Did ya hear that, Aunt Bonnie?) James has had to have his dreams of a family pet put off repeatedly, as each new stage turned out to be not-what-we'd-expected. He's been so good about it. John doesn't really think it will ever happen at this point. Smidge? Well, hey, he's two, so we'll just have to find another way to mess him up later on.

So we began our search for a lab mix, or a coondog mix. Whatever it was, we knew it needed to be a mutt, a male, and a puppy. It needed to need a home full of love and adventure and security. And it needed to be Just The Right Dog. As of yesterday, we had begun to give up hope of finding him. But then, as Zorak turned to leave the pound, he met a lady with a puppy... a mutt puppy, an abandoned puppy she'd found in her yard, a little mellow male puppy. He'd been refused at the shelter because they are full, and Zorak, who has a very strange (yet positive) effect on women, ended up leaving with the puppy, toys from another woman and her daughter, a photo of him with the puppy, and some email addresses. Someone mentioned a "Christmas Miracle", and I'm pretty sure someone got teary-eyed. To be honest, I can't even imagine how that one played out. Those things don't happen to me. But they do to Zorak, and Our Puppy has found us.

He took the pup to Ben & Claudia's to stay until this evening. I went over last night to visit with him, and left absolutely floored that Zorak had found Just The Right Dog at Just The Right Moment. He's perfect. He's going to be big. He's got a great personality. I am in love. Zorak is in love. The boys are going to be completely in love. And what's so great about all this love is that we have the space, the time, the resources, to spend on this little guy in welcoming him into the family and making him a part of our lives. How absolutely cool.

LB asked me if I was sure I wanted to take on a new puppy and a new baby within just a few weeks of each other, and I started laughing (perhaps a bit maniacally). It's not like we haven't passed into the realm of the absurd several months ago. Might as well get all the big changes over at once, right? Besides, this will lessen the boys' disappointment in not getting the infrared nightvision goggles (John) or the pair of breeding elves (James) they'd asked Santa for.

My only concern at the moment is that we are going to throw Smidge into a series of epileptic fits from which he may not recover. Everything this child sees sends him into spasms of joy and pleasure. The lights, the ornaments, the cookies, the trees. Even the plain, undecorated trees will get him quivering. Throw a strand of lights on it and he's visibly vibrating. Break out another strand and he's paralyzed with the trembles. I don't know that he's going to make it through Christmas morning without going into a four hour grand mal fit. I have never, in my life, seen someone enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas the way Smidge does. But this year, I know how he feels.

Kiss those babies!

And We're Live in 5... 4... 3...

Happy Holidays from the Forever Home!

Yes, yes, we are alive and well. Not that y'all would have known that if it weren't for Jess (thank you, Jess!! I love you!), but we are here. You know you haven't blogged in a long time when your husband spontaneously blurts out one evening, "Can you get somewhere to a computer and blog?"

Um... is the therapeutic benefit of blogging becoming evident? No, it seems he figures y'all were worried. Or he just didn't want to admit that I could use an evening with fresh coffee and some good old blogging. Whatever it is, I am now sitting in the first semi-finished bedroom (it has insulation, new wiring, drywall, subflooring, and the computer desk... oh, and a Mexican rug hanging in the window - it's one of our fancier window dressings, and it's wonderfully effective). What a gem of a man, I'll tell ya.

What have we been doing the last, um, three weeks? Working like no pregnant woman should ever work -- and enjoying every last, exhausting minute of it. The main bath awaits only primer and tile to be complete. The basement is mostly dry, and the Zen waterfall is losing its meditative powers. The wiring is brand new in the kitchen, living room, dining room, bath and one bedroom. It's ALL coming out as we go, and we're replacing it properly. Much like the plumbing (which is amazing, if I may say so myself, *ahem*), and the walls. We've completely re-wired the kitchen, installed our beautiful range, learned more about electricity than we have ever (ever) cared to know (and, for the record, be careful with that knowledge - the more you know, the more afraid you will be of the wiring job done in your home!!) The kitchen currently looks like a refugee Betty Crocker Test Kitchen that's landed at ground zero of a very frantic, mob-run construction project. And it's beautiful!!! The walls in the kitchen are up, textured, painted, and oogled by the minute. The cabinets came in (won't go into detail, but they are here and that's what matters, right?) and the countertops should be here early next week. We're actually to a point now where the windows could use a cleaning. (They've always needed a cleaning, but it wouldn't have mattered before - now, it'll show.) YAHOO! YA - FRICKIN - HOO.

I don't even know where to start. This whole experience has been simply amazing. Zorak and I both are so in love with one another, with our family, our home, and our life together. The first week or so had a few gear-grinding moments, but after ten years you learn that that's just part of the process. You grind, shift, and move on - together. This is the delayed gratification that cannot be replicated in the short run. It's good. It's oh, so good.

Had a slightly mortifying moment when the midwives arrived for our home visit last week - a day early. The day before trash day... the day Zorak was coming home at noon to hang drywall in the first bedroom so they'd have a separate room for appointments... the day I was on my way out the door with ten days' worth of retreaded laundry to wash... ARGH! They'd already seen me through the window, though, so there was nothing for it but to let them in. I figured they would either "get it" and think the whole process is pretty cool, or they would inform me that they simply could not attend a birth in this place. Have I mentioned before how absolutely cool they are? They "got it", they totally got it. The only other awkward moment that day was when one of them asked me if I was tired. That stumped me for a second. I paused, trying to figure out what she meant, then asked, "Do you mean right now, this instant?" She just laughed, and that's when I clicked that it was an iron-related question. OHHHHHHHhhhhh, rainBOWS. No, I'm fine. I mean, I'm exhausted, but it's a well-earned, healthy exhausted, not an anemic, sluggish exhausted. Yeah, I catch on quick, eh?

The boys. are. amazing. What more can I say? They are happy and frolicking. They're helpful and funny. They have added "flexible" to their list of qualities to look for in a wife, and I think it's because they truly understand how important it is to be flexible and roll with the punches. They have a room to themselves off the kitchen and dining room. It'll be the school room one day, but for now it's a bedroom of sorts. They love their beds, and their things. They have their routines slowly implemented into each day. Story time. Bed making. Forts and puppet shows. Oats, eggs and sausages for breakfast. They have developed a deep and abiding appreciation for hot water and the comforts it provides.

They are more excited about Christmas than I would have thought possible. We picked up a tree yesterday (yes, we have been slacking in the Festivity Department, we are, after all, mere mortals. We are also basically lazy mortals, and so the festive stuff gets sacked first when it's time to cull energy-sucking activities). I don't know if the boys are so cute, or we look so pathetic, but when they asked how much the trees at the lot were, the guy said, "Free. Just grab the one you want." OK. This is my 33rd tree, and other than the little juniper I uprooted by hand from a culvert one year and stuffed into an upturned ottoman, I have never had a free Christmas tree. That was incredibly cool. Even Zorak seemed pleased (and he is not a Christmas fan, by any means). Tonight they watched Christmas movies (nine bucks at Wal-Mart, and completely alleviates my guilt over not having cable for them to watch these things during the season), then decorated the tree. It was a decorating extravaganza, complete with dancing, singing, bouncing of random ornaments, and sparklies. Happy Children. Happy Mommy. Happy Daddy. Tonight Zorak and I experienced the most enjoyable, stress-free tree decorating session we have ever had in our ten years together. When the tree was finished (ie - it can hold no more ornaments without collapsing under the sheer weight), they jammied-up and we opened the interactive nativity I picked up. We enjoyed reading the poem and handling the pieces. It felt so... so... normal. It's been a long time since we've felt normal, and that in itself was a wonderful gift.

There's so much more to blog. So much to say. But this entry is long enough as it is. And we do have the fast-access DSL, so expect multiple updates each day for a while. In the two and a half years I've been blogging, I've never been gone so long. For those of you who still come by, thank you. You have made me smile with your humor and kind wishes. It's good to be back.

Kiss those precious, wonderful babies!