Monday, January 31

Weekend Hodgepodge

Did I spell that right?

Anyway, the weekend update goes something like this:

Saturday: wonderful day with the boys, cold-cold weather, embarrassing shopping trip for jeans for me while the guys stocked up on goods at BJ's. Love the new jeans! Zorak loves the new jeans. Gotta get another pair o' them thar jeans! Went for drinks w/ Zorak's co-workers- lovely folks, had a great time- then to the concert. Wasn't sure how that would be: totally worth the price! WOWSA! If you have the opportunity to hear The Iguanas play (they're out of New Orleans), RUN- don't walk- RUN to go see them. If you like John Hyatt, or Robert Earl Keen, but particularly if you are a fan of Flaco Jimenez' accordian playing (NOT to be confused w/ Weird Al's accordian playing... completely different levels of quality here!) you will love these guys! I danced a Corrida* like nobody's business -- right in the aisle! It was heavenly!

Sunday: did I mention it's cold? OK, just checking. Ice storm, followed by snow storm, topped off with more ice. The trees are gorgeous! A bit bowed under the weight of the ice, but just beautiful anyway. Revamped the family room (which has been un-usable since the Halloween Costume Fiasco er, Event) and enjoyed playing with the boys most of the day. Just fun!

Shouldn't have mentioned having to pull out the scarf. I had about 18" of scarf made when I realized it was far too wide to pull this off with one skein of yarn. (Yes, quite wide, I know.) SO, James got to pull it all out. He was sad to see his scarf disappear, but was thoroughly awed by the size of the ball it made! The scarf is now a manageable width and is back up to around 4" long. It may be done by Easter.

We are going to an auction this week to check out the home auction scene. There is a lot to learn, but it's an avenue we haven't pursued yet, so it's worth taking a look. My prayer is the same one I've been praying (maybe it's time to switch tactics?): if we are meant to stay, then the right home (ie- one we can afford without needing our own live-in police officer) will come along. Mortgage guy said it's kind of like a crap shoot, but that he can get us financing regardless and wished us luck. (Gotta love a lender with a sense of the absurd!)

Everyone is healthy. Everyone is cold. I love flannel. I love wool. Rah! Rah! Rah!

Alrighty, and on that note, I am going to go tuck the covers over my babies, kiss their little noggins and curl up for a short winter's nap.

Kiss those babies!

* The dance, not the bullfight. You know, just for clarification.

Saturday, January 29

Hammers and Baskets and Yarn, Oh My!

Today the boys had a blast using hammers to break up the remaining two inches of ice in our back yard. Smidge stood in the doorway and tried to coax them back inside, where it is warm and they can be nearby. I swear sometimes he's like the family dog. He wants everyone together in the same room, and when we're spread out he wanders from room to room, checking on everyone.

The boys made a dump run with Zorak while I cleaned the downstairs. And I mean I cleaned. The walls are spotless. The doors are lovely. The baseboard is shiny and white. The windows and sills look child-free. The bathroom still has a good inch of pinesol water soaking around the toilet. I'll get to that tomorrow. Or next month. Eventually. Donna's still not getting a picture of the desk, though. I ran out of steam, sorry.

Yesterday, we finally bought baskets for library books, and that's been a big hit. Wal-Mart has these tiny little wicker baskets they're marketing as "hampers" -- which we all find hilarious, as they'd hold perhaps one day's clothing, tops -- but they are great for the boys to keep their books in order. And they make wonderful helmets for space boys, as well.

The boys also picked up yarn for their scarves. (Yes, I know, winter is nearly over. Perhaps they can be more of a fashion statement over the summer?) James' primary criteria was that the yarn be purple. Glorious, magnificent purple! The wonderful lady at our Wal-Mart fabric section then showed him the wide array of yarns available and he immediately latched onto the concept of "soft 'n fuzzy". And Purple. John went for color. Sheer, stark, bold color. He picked a great variegated yarn in colors reminiscent of Rastafarian bands. Not as soft as the fuzzy purple stuff, but definitely a statement there.

Of course I don't have a pattern. Or rather, say it with me, I just modified one. hee hee. I asked the lady in the fabric department how much yarn I could expect to need to make a scarf for a boy "about their size," and she said, "One." WOOHOO! I can do this, and if I totally botch it, the boys can pull it out and I'll start over, right?

I did ask Zorak if James' scarf (which I'm having to knit because my Valiant Knight absconded with my large crochet hook) looked like a normal scarf or like something his blind, palsied mother made for him. Zorak laughed and said it's too soon to tell. *sigh* That's not a good sign.

Tomorrow is a special Mommy, Daddy & Boys day. The plan is to let the boys take the lead and just spend the day enjoying them. So, you know, nothing new. But still so much fun! And tomorrow night, the boys are going to play with the Wonderful Neighbors while Daddy & Mommy go enjoy music at the Museum. Like grownups! (We'll probably be home in time for bedtime for the boys, but the idea is fun to think about, anyway.)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, January 28

Injured Blogger

Sorry for the sparse blogging this week. I injured my thumb. That may not sound like much, but 1) it's right on the tip of my thumb and it hurts! and 2) it was just plain weird. I cut it on a spoon! I keep picturing the Sheriff of Nottingham threatening to kill me with a spoon now, and you know, I'm thinking it's possible.

You just don't realize how often you use the tip of your thumb until you have a 3/4" slice across the top of it (think of a very deep paper cut- at an angle so things keep catching on it and yanking it back open- yeah, there ya go).

Anyway, I don't type properly, so my thumb keeps catching on the 'N' button on my keyboard and makes me whimper.

I'll blog more when I get band-aids. In the meantime, I got this from Sarah's blog- the wisdom of her sister- and thought it was wonderful!

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, January 26

Our Surprise Visit!

So, I haven't told y'all about meeting Janet, Donna's sister, while we were in Arizona! Yes, we were able to meet the lady without a blog. (And oh, does she need one! It would be wonderful!) As you know, our trip was a bit harried there near the end, and the day-long stop in the Valley I had planned on was scrapped so that we could stay an extra day in Prescott and help as much as we could. Just outside Rock Springs, I remembered Janet had sent me her phone number (we hadn't had internet access for four days at that point, so I wasn't able to email anyone ahead of time to say, "We're on our way!"), so I called Jess, who checked my mail and dug up the number for me. (Thank you, Jess!) We called Janet with a horribly short-notice proposal to meet us for an early supper when we hit the Valley. Her wonderful hubby and most of the clan were out enjoying the fine weather, but she and their precious Little One, L, were up for it. Yippee! I was so excited!

We decided to meet at the Cracker Barrel, as it's centrally located and easy to find. Er, well, all the others in the US are easy to find. This one, however, is easy to spot from a distance, but to actually arrive there, you really have to want it. We thought for sure she'd be there waiting for us, as we made our third lap around the Interstate and frontage road looking for the entrance. Fortunately, we arrived before we ran out of gas and were happily enjoying the rocking chairs and oversized checkers games when Janet called... wanting to know how to get *in* the parking lot. (See? It wasn't just us!)

Here we all are, after supper. Tired, but refreshed after a fun visit. James is telling Zorak "yes" in sign language. I guess he didn't want to ruin the smile.

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We had such a nice visit! Janet is so kind and funny. She really does need to blog because she's got a store of wisdom and insight that the world truly needs to have. She's funny, too, and very gracious. Not to mention lovely. Zorak ran herd on the end of the table, so she and I were able to visit quite a bit. We got several uninterrupted sentences in! (Thanks, Honey!)

Her littlest one is absolutely darling, and is so sweet. She's got the same vibrant sparkle in her eyes that you can see in Donna's photos of Katie. (You can definitely tell they're cousins.) She and John got along famously and had a blast on the porch after supper, both yelling very loudly and then asking each other, "Did that hurt your ears?" I'm not sure what they thought was so hilarious, but they would both crack up and do it again. I wish we'd had more time. These kids would have had a blast at a park or a playplace. As it was, though, all four children were pretty good the entire time.

Here they are, all hanging out. Only James seems to realize there's a camera. L and the Smidge are deeply engaged in conversation. Don't know what John's doing...

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Zorak was very impressed with L. Not only was she just cute as a bug during supper (and don't believe a thing Janet says- this little girl was very well-behaved!) but on the way out, she dropped her candy cane and it broke, and she didn't cry. That touched him, and the boys each got her another one. The boys love to look at the pictures and ask when we'll get to visit with them again. I hope it's soon.

One more shot- this is the yelling and laughing game. It's L's turn to yell. So cute!

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Yikes- I forgot to resize that last one. Be right back... Ahhh, much better. Nite!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, January 25

I think we wore them out.

It is 8:50pm. My home has been silent for the last twenty minutes. All three children are out cold! Wow, that's refreshing, yet creepy.

We got out of the house today. It wasn't much of an adventure for folks who are normally mobile; for us as of late, it was sheer decadence! We had many things to do, but time being of the essence, we had to prioritize: oil change, groceries, library run.

Yeah, you know it -- we hit the library.

I cannot tell you what that has done for my mood, as well as for the boys' need to spread their little angelic wings and run like the wind. (Preferably somewhere that isn't iced over.) And no, we didn't run in the library, but going to and from, it was a heavenly free-for-all.

The boys have a fresh stack of library books piled snugly atop their pillows. We have a couple of great new read alouds.

James found Roald Dahl in the Juvenile Fiction corner of the library. He nearly wiped them out of everything they have. That was a wonderful chance to talk with him about the tens of thousands of other children in our county who probably love Roald Dahl, as well, and that there are only a limited number of books at the library. I was able to model this behavior by not checking out the remaining fifteen O'Brian books, myself. Sometimes it's hard to be a good role model. he he

John actually picked something from an area other than the dinosaur section! He got a book on spiders. (Yes, he's branching out!) Oh, and a book on airplanes. He proudly hauled his booty around the library, anxious to sit down and read for a while. He actually whined when it was time to leave. That's a hard hill to die on, really. I didn't want to leave, either, but for now the Smidge reigns on our timing for Public Activity, and he was done. So we came home and soaked our parched little minds in fresh books. Ahhhhhh.

Kiss those babies!

Sidebar Stuff

Y'all may notice some changes in the sidebar. I'm trying to clear out dead links, and streamline the process (make it rico y suave). Obviously, I'm still working on it.

I have deleted two blogs because I simply cannot ever get their pages to load. They're great blogs (and I spend HOURS there the once or twice a year that I can trick my computer into accessing the pages), but I just can't get there from here. So, Modus Operandi and Homeschooling 101, I miss you guys, and please know that taking you off the sidebar was nothing personal at all. If I could find a way to subscribe to your blogs and get them in email, I'd do it in a heartbeat. :-(


Monday, January 24

Wild Mondays

Normally, I don't care to share our less-than-perfect days because although we all have them, the few times I've dared to share that my children have normal fits and starts in their journey, just like every other non-lobotomized child on the planet, someone always feels the need to be a jerk about my children and ya know, that's just crappy. So, no comments on this one (If you want me, you know where to find me.)

Anyhow, Mondays can sometimes feel like a fresh start to a new week. Other times they have more of a wild-animal-loose-in-the-bathroom feel to them. Today was a little of both. I wrote this email at 11:30 this morning (edited slightly for public consumption):

The boys got up- they woke me up by assembling a glow-in-the-dark 3-d dinosaur puzzle on my head. "Mama, can you put the legs in?" I tried. I couldn't find a notch. I gave up. (This took all of two seconds.) "Mama, the legs aren't on." *mumble, mumble* Yes, I know. It's a legless dinosaur. That's why they're extinct. Jacob pounces on my head. James shoves his bony knee a little further into my right kidney. Ugh, what time is it? John says it's time to eat. James says it's 8:39. Crap, crap, and double crap. That means Zorak is gone and we're stranded again.

I tried to get up, but got clotheslined by the alarm clock cord. What the -- Oh. He tucked the alarm clock under his pillow so I wouldn't hear it. (In spite of repeated entreaties to believe me when I say I'd rather get up with him than sleep in and awaken to the Breakfast Brigade, Zorak still believes what I *really* want is to sleep in. It's sweet, just not first thing in the morning.)

Breakfast is nutritionally bereft cereal. They start in on one another. The usual bossy 6yo and the meanspirited retaliation that goes with siblings. Jacob coughs up a ton of mucous onto his breakfast. The boys are fascinated and completely grossed out. I take that opportunity to break up the posturing before they can really latch on to each other, redirect them, and then I clean up Jacob. No Latin, no Bible over breakfast.

While getting the kitchen tidy, Jacob escapes the high chair and does a Coyote Ugly on the tray. I remove him from the show and he begins screaming.

James decides he doesn't want to memorize this week's Bible verse b/c it's "too hard" (It's Luke 6:31- do unto others as you would have others do unto you- I'm thinking this is a psychological block) but he wants to make a flow chart of all the chapters in the Bible and how many verses are in each chapter. Somehow, *that* doesn't seem daunting at all!

John is booby trapping the dining room. I need to remember to ask for a map with all the traps marked. Some of them are painfully good.

Jacob has not quit screaming since I took him offstage.

OK, go get dressed. You have sweats on the ironing board in Mommy & Daddy's room. Fresh sweaters are in the closet. I tend to Smidge while they're "getting dressed". He stops yelling just long enough for me to realize... they're not getting dressed. They've been up there fifteen minutes. James comes flying down just about then, in his undies. "Mom, my sweats are nowhere up here." (Did I mention he went blind a few months ago? Totally blind. Can't differentiate color, shape, or texture at all. I don't know how he's kept from falling down the stairs.) So I go up, and sure enough, on top, just beside the red polka dotted snowsuit we force Jacob to wear (it's a girl's suit, but hey, everyone needs therapy for something, right?) are the coveted red sweats. And the grey ones. Oh, and look, the blue and yellow ones... "Ohhhhhh!" He says, "You mean *there*! OK!" (At least he's positive and upbeat about his disability. I guess that's something.)

I check on John. He's wearing James' church pants and (this is priceless) one of Jacob's pullover shirts! John is a solid size six. This thing is a size 18 mos. I don't know how he got in it, let alone didn't notice that it wasn't what you'd call "comfy"! The sleeves didn't even come to his elbows and the arms below the sleeve were turning blue. The body barely covered his chest, so his Buddha belly stuck out in all its glory! ROFLOL! So we got that sorted out. "Honey, sometimes the clothes get put on the wrong color hangers, but you can usually tell if it's a mistake." He laughed, "No, this was on a red hanger (one of Jacob's)! *giggle*" Yes, he's actually a very bright child. Usually.

Meanwhile, Smidge is halfway up the stairs and irate about something...

I just typed the whole thing with Jacob draped over me like a stole, refusing to go see the brothers. I finally gave him a lollipop to get him off me and he headed straight up the stairs to show the brothers. That was the last lollipop... Is this intuitive on their part???

You know what? We're watching a movie and eating chocolate until two. I am not even going to attempt math under these conditions!

And you know, we didn't do math. We didn't do Latin. We read Time Quest and Old Granny Fox. We played several games of Chinese Checkers. We identified birds and fixed supper together.

I took a lot of deep breaths. They got to run around and be silly, wonderful little boys. We had a snow day in honor of the ice rink on our back lawn. We had a really great day. The moral of the story is... well, I don't know what the moral is. I just know that today I was reminded that a day that starts off less-than-perfect can still end up as a wonderful day together, if you'll let it.

Kiss those babies!

Repost from earlier tonight-

Maaannnnn (whine!)

We braced for a big storm! Weather watch, every warm body in town out buying foods they'll never eat if they survive this storm, hauling out the space heaters and wondering what to burn for heat if the power goes out...

And we got two measly inches of ice. It's like God's Sonic cup spilled in our back yard. Two inches of those little rabbit-turd sized ice chunks, which have since melted over into a nice, textured glaze. Admittedly, it was a little humorous to watch the birds land in the yard... and keep going when they hit the ice. However, we didn't put our own little birds out to scamper and brain themselves on the hard, frozen ground.

Eh, we played Charades, Medal of Honor (ok, I knitted, the guys played Medal of Honor), watched a movie. We had a wonderful dinner and played word games. I hoped somebody would nap (me) but that didn't pan out. The boys played with their gears (All Hail the Moving Parts!) I worked on math a bit (almost through Ch. 2!) and Zorak worked on a spreadsheet for his brother. It was a quiet, productive day. (But we'd have rathered to have gone sledding!)

Smidge is still not feeling up to par, but he does seem to be improving. Many gross details to indicate that, but I won't traumatize you with them. Suffice it to say the boys vacillated between laughing hysterically and gazing with awe. Ew.

Time to hand the keyboard over to Zorak, who is doing mathy things with sciency twists for the Nieces today. Fun! Fun! Oh yeah, and I have homework to do! Guess I ought to get to it!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, January 23

Where's the Snow?

DRAT! Blogger told me it couldn't post it and then it DID.

So I re-posted. And then I had TWO.

So, erm, that would be Double-Drat, then, wouldn't it?

Ok, well, g'nite!


Saturday, January 22

Photos for Y'all

Photos for y'all tonight. Photobucket has added this very nifty "Blog 'Em" feature, and aside from the fact that I truly appreciate any business that will actually use the word, "'Em", I also happen to appreciate this particular added feature! Go Photobucket!

This first picture is a milestone in several ways. It is our first attempt at using the timer feature on our new camera. (Notice the somewhat harried expression on my face- I was the fortunate soul chosen to run across the snow and ice in less than the alloted ten seconds. The camera is so far away because Zorak's "little brother" is six foot nine! We had to back waaayyyyy up!) It is also the first known photo of the Little Brother and his future Little Woman as an engaged couple! (We are so excited! He picked a good 'un!) It is also the first photo in a while that James isn't making an exceptionally estranged face... (we don't know who he's talking to, either...)

These folks are, from L-R Zorak (strangling? John, in the blue), Me (gasping for air), James (in red, talking to the camera) Zorak's Mom (AKA- GRANNY!), Jacob (talking to GRANNY!) and being held by Uncle L, and The-Future-Aunt-M.  
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This next one would be James, making his regularly scheduled photo expressions. We fought this for a year and finally realized someday he won't be a goofy little boy anymore and we will cherish these expressions so very much. Thankfully, he's given us plenty to cherish. :-)

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Smidge and the run-away caramel spoon. He grabbed the spoon, headed out the kitchen door... and this is where he sat for half an hour, chewing on the rapidly cooling caramel and watching his socks freeze to the sidewalk. Tons of fun when you're one!

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Our son, Grace... I have no idea how this happened. As you can see by his expression, though, it didn't damped his enthusiasm one bit.

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OK, I also feel compelled to point out that we are playing in four or five inches of fresh snow and the boys are wearing only hooded sweatshirts for warmth. They are not waterproof. That is because in New Mexico, it's a "dry snow" (similar to the "dry heat" you hear so much about in Arizona...) It's just not that cold!

I will post photos of playing in the snow out here (if we get snow- right now we have two lovely inches of ice that seems to have escaped from a Sonic Drive-Thru. You know the kind- it looks exactly like that.) The attire is completely different. It's the strangest thing...

Kiss those babies, and enjoy their funny little ways!


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Friday, January 21

Cabin Fever

I figured it out! The grumpiness, the grouchiness, and the overall, "ARG-iness" of this week is probably due to a bad case of cabin fever! WOOHOO! I'm not losing my mind. Oh, the boys will be so relieved to hear that!

The older two boys are all healthy now. Smidge isn't getting any better. (But we're not giving up on him.) I need to find a new pediatrician, as we are currently without one. Our beloved ped was charged with child molestation a couple weeks ago. *sigh* That does make it a little awkward, ya know. Zorak is getting recommendations from the guys at work and we have to find a new one. In the meantime, Smidge is so tired and out of it that he has begun to look like Spicoli, which probably isn't good.

I steam cleaned our couch yesterday. That went well. Then I spot treated the carpets and... the carpet cleaner died. Ew! So right now, the living room reeks of a very strong chemical smell, and if you walk around in socks you'd think we're living with an angry cat.

However, there is hope on the horizon. Zorak is supposed to bring the Suburban to me in a little bit, so I can run all the errands that should have been run by Wednesday (at the latest!) And on Tuesday the temps are supposed to get above freezing at some point during the day! Yippee! We can sit on the porch and get some fresh air.

How do y'all combat cabin fever?

Kiss those babies! I'm off to snuggle my little sick monkey.

Thursday, January 20

Just When I'm About to Throw in the Towel...

I get this (see, Donna, I'm writing it down, too!):

James: Mom, did the Ancient Greeks really believe Athena was as big as the statue in the Parthenon?

Me: Yes, probably bigger.

James: Yeah? Well, our God is way bigger than that!

Kiss those babies!

Happy Inauguration Day!

Today we're going to the Wonderful Neighbors to watch the Presidential Inauguration. The boys are excited, in the distracted way you get excited about events in your world when you're six and four. Smidge will be happy to run laps around their house. I am looking forward to witnessing history. (Yes, I know, we have one of these every four years, but we only have so many during one lifetime and I plan to enjoy each one since I'm no longer in that distracted stage, which, for me, lasted well past six years of age...)

Enjoy your day with your children, love on them and cherish them.

Kiss those babies!

Game Reviews

We've begun our family time after supper again -- since supper has been ready earlier now that we're back in our groove.

Last night was Chinese Checkers, which was a huge hit with everyone (even Jacob had fun playing with the leftover balls). The boys woke this morning and immediately set up the board. That's a good sign.

We played Charades for Kids earlier in the week. It's a fun game, but honestly I wouldn't recommend spending the money on the Kids' version. Maybe it's us, but we prefer the all-out free-for-all, the ongoing guessing process, the working together, and the interaction of playing Charades more free-form. So, we kept the cards and ditched the game board (game board?? Yes, because there has to be one winner, doesn't there? Blech.) Much more fun our way, we think. *wink*

If you've never experienced a four year-old acting out phrases, and a six year-old trying to guess, you've got to come play Charades at our house! That's more fun than the game itself.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, January 19

Combining The Well-Trained Mind and Robinson Curriculum

I get a few questions each month about how that's workin' for us. When my printer's working, the whole thing flows like a Class II river. Really. It's not that hard.

Now, I must add a caveat here: we eat sugar; I sit with my children; we do our things together. I answer questions. I don't know that Dr. Robinson would approve. (OK, I'm certain he wouldn't.) Do you know why we do things this way? Because I'm the Mommy. That's my job. We all like it this way, and are thankful for the enjoyment of learning together, living together and exploring together. (Not to mention the sheer joy of M&M's.) However, I'm not widowed, and not in a position where I have a need to make my children self-sufficient straight out of the gate. If something were to happen to me (like, say, a more permanent alien abduction), though, Zorak could sit down with the disks and, after a few pots of coffee and a new ink cartridge, pick right up with the boys and find a way to continue to give them a wonderful education.

Obviously, we aren't strict Well-Trained Minders, though, either. *sheepish grin* We use a combination of the two- and we love it. So, in light of receiving questions about this seemingly odd combination, I thought I'd write up our reasons for using both and how we make it work (and title it appropriately, so I can find it in the archives, unlike trying to track down the posts on "why we love Math-U-See", which has been, thus far, unfruitful.) So, here ya go-

I love the WTM because:
* it is rigorously structured, thorough, and produces the education Zorak and I most want for the boys. It goes deeper on content than any other program I've ever seen simply due to the four-year repeat cycle. Nothing is stale because each time you go deeper and broader, covering more and learning more. It's the education we wish we'd had. Having suffered through six full years of American History with no foundation in Western Civilization, I can say I know for certain that's not the way to develop competent citizens.
* The Well-Trained Mind does a better job of helping us prepare the boys for Citizenship and Statesmanship as adults than any other philosophy I've seen.
* I love the formal study of Logic, in all its forms. What a great way to corral a jr. high age child's natural tendency to question *everything*! That has a feel of, "Wow, God did that on purpose, didn't He?"
* Latin, which I don't consider optional in a Classical Education. Latin allows the brain to comprehend the logic and history in our culture. It opens the doors to the past in a way that translations do not. It creates a structure in the brain that I haven't seen replicated elsewhere, even in the harder engineering sciences. SO that's another point of TWTM that we love.

NOW, for what I love about RC! :-)

* The quality of literature for young minds, even for advanced young minds (or perhaps especially for them- as it's difficult to find higher level modern literature without delving into unsavory themes) is, for me, beyond value. The stories are phenomenal.
* The vocabulary is rich and varied.
* It's easy to follow and I love knowing that I can give the boys an RC book to read and not have to worry about them picking up sentence fragmentation (a la Magic Tree House), poor character emulation (a la most modern children's popular books), or encountering inappropriate content (such as premarital relations, dating- which isn't OK for a 6yo, anti-Christian themes... I could go on!)

*The science fits right in with how I prefer to "do" science for little guys. It's reading. They explore plenty on their own and don't need pre-made experiments right now. Right now they need exposure to the world around them, and RC's "science" books before the actual Physics book he recommends are exactly the kind of enjoyable, engaging, interesting stories that capture a child's imagination and open the door for discussion and exploration together after he's done reading. LOVE that aspect.

***And the biggie (this makes Zorak a bit twitchy to discuss, but if we're being honest here...) IF something should happen to me, RC would allow the boys to continue to be homeschooled. Admittedly, I'm the one who did all the legwork and research into homeschooling and curriculum preparation, so it's "my realm" by default. Zorak trusts me to make the best decision for our children that I can, and I did. But I don't know that he would have the resources available to teach three boys in the manner I've set up to do it. After all, I have all day, every day and thanks to his dedication and effort, I don't have to work. If I should die, he would have to take on my role as teacher, as well as picking up the slack everywhere else.

Since the boys are already familiar with RC, the transition wouldn't be that big for them. They would have to make some adjustment, because I just don't feel like they need to be quite as independent right now as Mr. Robinson does *wink* and I am admittedly a lot more involved, but at least it wouldn't be totally foreign. If they can read, Zorak can move them into RC. He could do it without having to learn all the ropes of the different programs. He can still give the boys a thorough, wonderful, academically rigorous education without me.

Finally, how we combine them!

We use Math-U-See for Math, Writing Road to Reading for Language Arts, Prima Latina for Latin, Plants Grown Up for Bible Study, SOTW for history. We use Robinson Curriculum for reading, science, vocabulary, and supplemental reading that corresponds to whatever else is going on.

Others may blend it differently. There is certainly room to maneuver without sacrificing the quality of education. It's a wonderful mix for our family and allows the perfect level of independent work and snuggle-time-work that I, personally, feel like we need. (The boys are 6, 4, and 1- as they get older, they will get more independent and will probably rely more heavily on the RC-style of independent study.)

I blend.

I print off and turn 'em loose.

Thanks for letting me put these thoughts in a more permanent place, so I don't have to re-type it so often. ;-) If you combine TWTM and RC, would you please share how you do it so that others can get more than one perspective?

Kiss those babies!

Idiot Criminals (PG for language)

Normally I read about the "Stupid Criminal" stories and shake my head. Tonight I'm writing one and am ready to rip somebody's head off.

Last night I spent several hours online with Hewlett-Packard's customer service, trying to fix my grouchy printer. I have to say the customer service rep was very thorough, patient and eventually determined that it may be a cartridge problem. So, since the cartridge is brand new and therefore still under warranty, he arranged to send one to us. Yippee!

Yeah, until tonight at supper when the phone rings. And it's somebody wanting me, by first name, and completely failing miserably at pronouncing it. (Sometimes having a unique spelling does help weed out the solicitors, *grin*, but she mangled it so badly that I honestly didn't think it was a derivation of my name in any of its androgynous forms. She finally attempted the last name and got it close enough that I figured they were shooting for my name.) Supposedly she was calling from HP, they sent us a black ink cartridge, yeah, yeah, and???

"Well, we need to confirm your credit card number so we can get that out to you."

*snort* *sputter* *gag* Excuuuuuuuse me?

Shyah, ok, primer on the term "warranty" for ya. That indicates you're shipping it at your cost, not mine. You're not getting my credit card number. *snort* Thanks, though.

"We need it for security."

*literally laughing in this gal's face* Yeah, I'm sure you do, and security is exactly why I'm not giving it to you!

"OK, fine. Good-bye." And she hung up.


However, this little foray into the world of the intellectually hindered is a strong reminder that while the moron making the call may not be smart enough to walk her way out of an ampitheater, somebody was smart enough to hack something, somewhere. *sigh*

Of course, nobody at Verizon is available to help me track down the call. Nobody at Hewlett-Packard is available to field questions or concerns. Thanks, guys! (I know, not their fault. I'm grumpy.)

SO, just a friendly reminder- keep your passwords secure, don't give our pertinent information over the internet, or on the phone. And certainly never share information with someone who has phoned you!

ARGH. I'm going to play Chinese Checkers with the boys. I'll be back to blog a real blog later.

Kiss those babies!

Snow Day

Another wonderful thing about homeschooling is that you don't have to cancel school just because it snows. This morning we enjoyed our lessons while keeping one eye on the tantalizing snow flurries as they grew and grew. By the time there was enough to play in, we'd done math, Latin, and spelling/phonics.

Then we played.

Now they're cold and wanting hot chocolate. Mmmm, I hear a story coming on! And we didn't have to get in the car, go out on the big-scary roads, keep one ear glued to the radio for closures and updates! What a wonderful way to spend the day.

How do you guys enjoy your unexpected snow days?

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, January 18

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This...

(Sing it with me, everyone!)
There'd be days like this, my Mama said.
*mama said, mama said, yeah!*

We'll start with the good...
Today was a good day academically- math, Latin, reading, reading. (We read quite a bit today.) The boys nearly imploded when I stopped reading Old Granny Fox (Burgess) just as Granny Fox was in Farmer Brown's Boy's sights. But I placated them (and the need to do some cooking) by asking them if they thought she would get out of the situation, then supplying the necessary very big paper and many crayons for them to draw the scenarios they pictured. The results were truly fantastic. I laughed and giggled and enjoyed them thoroughly.

James' art work is gaining great depth: he used a darker shade of red to show her farthest two legs shadowed by her body, her body is positioned so she is leaping at an angle to the paper, and he included "motion lines" behind her to indicate that she was leaping (in case anyone thought she was falling, I suppose).

John's art work is along the impressionistic side, leaving tons of room for interpretation. The stories he makes to go along with the drawings, however, are rich, detailed, and generally involve some Tragic Act of Nature and a helicopter. Farmer Brown and His Boy didn't fare well in John's narration.

Oh, and the house looks great! John mopped the kitchen floor today. The mop is twice his height, and it was a struggle, but he did it, and it was beautiful! Not perfect in Martha Stewart terms, but I think it just shines. I know he did when he finished.

That pretty well concludes the positive portion of today. Thanks for tuning in.


Then the bad...

I think the high today was 20'. Two of three children are now expelling mass crud from their bodies at alarmingly high velocities (the Grapefruit Seed Extract is working wonders on whatever had lodged in their lungs, though, and I'm thrilled to see it coming *out*!) This combination of factors pretty much ruled out the long overdue library excursion I had planned.

Jacob is showing a rather pointed preference not to be located in his crib. When he is wide awake, he will lay down on the couch, on our bed, on the floor and pass right out. Not a problem. You can wash him, change him, roll him over like a little steam roller and he'll sleep right through it. But even from a deep, comatose-like sleep he will leap to full alert mode when lowered into his crib.

I'm inclined to go with it (after all, who wants to sleep where we aren't comfortable), except for the fact that, well, between him pinning me down and Zorak's Elbow of Death (which I can generally avoid if not under a small child), I'm really tired.

So, I'm thinking it's time for a toddler bed. Could it be? Now? Already? *sigh* He may be ready, but I'm not. quite. there. yet. Could it be anything else? Really?

And finally, the UGLY...

Our local homeschool group is taking meals to a homeschooling family that's facing some medical issues right now. This week is my turn. Today I prepared a truly lovely meal. It was a wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, peanut-free, low vitamin-K meal that promised to be succulent and tasty! But then... *insert lost stare* I don't have *any* idea what caused it, but the chicken exploded! I mean that in a very literal sense. Zorak went so far as to approach me and say, "Erm, may I inquire what the chicken did?" I couldn't take that over! So tomorrow morning I get to call, apologize profusely for detonating their food and arrange to bring fresh, non-volatile food to them in the afternoon. *sigh*

Ah, well, I am going to do some math. The boys are over at the Wonderful Neighbors house, watching a movie and enjoying their kerosene heater before bed. Heat pumps don't work extraordinarily well in this level of cold. I got to stay behind and put the Smidge to bed, and am sure wishing we had a nifty kerosene heater to warm our tootsies by tonight! (See, I can handle the Elbow of Death because Zorak's body temperature rises at night- so he gets in first, warms my spot, and I get to enjoy all the benefits of an electric blanket with none of the side effects or concerns! Definitely worth the occasional bruised temple, trust me.) Zorak is over at the Wonderful Neighbor's, "watching" the kids. (I think the adults are actually gabbing in the kitchen, but that's the nice thing about having kids like these four and parents who are all friends!)

So, I'm thinking do a little homework, get an early bedtime, perhaps an early start tomorrow, and hopefully we'll be hosting a much better sing-a-long tomorrow night!

Kiss those babies!


Well, I had a deep, thought-provoking post about forgiveness and healing. But then I checked my email and I got this from Claudia, and well, this is so much better! (We'll talk about that other stuff tomorrow -- for tonight, enjoy!)

Kiss those babies!

I want to thank all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me your chain letters over the past year. Thank you for making me feel safe, secure, blessed, and wealthy.

Because of your concern...
I no longer can drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

I no longer drink anything out of a can because I will get sick from the rat feces and urine.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a stupid number for which I will get the phone bill from hell with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer date the opposite sex because they will take my kidneys and leave me taking a nap in a bathtub full of ice.

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

Thanks to you, I have learned that God only answers my prayers if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes. (Jeeze, the Bible did *not* mention it works that way!)

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl who is about to die in the hospital (for the 1,387,258th time).

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

Yes, I want to thank all of you soooooooo much for looking out for me!

I will now return the favor. If you don't send this e-mail to it least 1200 people in the next 60 seconds, a large bird with diarrhea will crap on your head at 5:00 pm this afternoon and the fleas of a thousand camels will infest your armpits.

I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of a friend of a friend's neighbor's cousin twice removed.


Monday, January 17

The Voting is Over

Well, guys, the 2005 Best of Blog Awards voting is over. I'd venture to say the campaign was a sucess. There was a great deal of interactive blogging, new blogs, new awareness of blogging and all it entails, raised from the whole thing. Thanks to everyone who voted, no matter who you voted for- just "Thank You" for being involved in your online blogging community and keeping it fun and informative.

I'd like to share the finalists from the Education/Homeschooling Blog category (although there were many, many great categories! Browse through them if you have some time. You won't be sorry.):

The Homeschooling Revolution, blogged by Izzy Lyman. Not only does she blog, but she writes, too!

Relaxed Homeskool, by Kim, a homeschooler with a flair for great photos who is in touch with the news, the camp, and the overall coolness of livin' the homeschool life!

Tulip Girl, a long-time Classic Adventures favorite read, filled with a little bit of everything- from what's happening in the Ukraine to the latest on Ezzo. She keeps a wealth of information, fellowship, and fun growing in her garden.

Hipteacher, this is a public school teacher with a love of kids and hope for the future. Her blog was new to Classic Adventures, since, well, we tend to hang out with other homeschoolers, just as I'm sure Hipteacher hangs out with other public school teachers. Her blog is an interesting, funny, and at times heartbreaking peek into what a teacher sees in her classroom.

The Quiet Life, ahhh, another Classic Adventures favorite! Our own Dear Donna, with her funny wisdom, kind words, awesome retro photos, and her annual "Show Me Your Household Apparatus" blog! If you haven't had morning coffee and toast with Donna yet, you really must go do it now. I'll wait.

Homeschool Buzz is a homeschool news-type blog. I admit I hadn't seen it before, but it's filled with homeschool news from all around the world (which is nice!), as well as a "Daily Manna" blurb in the upper left-hand corner, curriculum choices on the right-hand sidebar, and a huge, MONGO-sized selection of online homeschooling resources in her left-hand sidebar! Neat stuff.

Guilt-Free Homeschooling, blogged by Carolyn. She's wonderful! She is a homeschooling mom in the season of her life that allows her to look back and say, "Yeah, I wouldn't have worried quite so much about this," or "Step back, have a cup of tea, and try something different -- see? This isn't etched in stone." I know there are many out there who are in this position, but Carolyn is kind enough to actually do it for us! This is another blog we've known and loved here for a while, and it's always worthwhile to go spend a few minutes touching base with Carolyn.

Amy Loves Books, this is another public school teacher blogging her thoughts and experiences along the way. Amy's blog touches more on the personal journal side of things than some of the other ps teachers I've read. She has a great writing style and is very realistic, witty, and honest in her writing. Again, I enjoyed peering down the path we didn't choose and being reminded that they're just like us, learning to read one digraph at a time, hoping for a good day each morning.

PEDABLOGUE, blogged by Mike. I have no idea why this garnered as few votes as it did, because it's a g-r-e-a-t blog! I think, though, that his readership is too busy actually doing things to go vote. When the boys enter college, it is my hope and prayer that they each have at least one (preferably an entire cadre) of instructors and mentors like this guy.

And while this blog wasn't in the Education/Homeschool category, and it's definitely not a Mommy Blog (although I did see a cat picture there recently -- nearly fell out of my chair), it's a wonderful blog filled with a little bit of everything to get your brain working, pique your curiosity about things you haven't yet explored, and in my case, provide a wry smile to get me started on my day. Mental Multivitamin, hosted by Mrs. M-mv and the rest of the M-mv clan! Congrats on your strong showing in the BoB Awards!

What a fun experience!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging.
Kiss those babies!

Saturday, January 15

What to Blog?

It was Saturday. We're all still functioning around 60% capacity, so it's not like we pulled out all the stops today and had a high-blog-content day. Those days happen.

Slept til nine- all of us.
Panicked when we realized it was Saturday.
Got haircuts.
Had lunch.
Drove around to look for homes.
Didn't find any we could afford without selling a couple of kidneys.
Came home.
Didn't make the trash run.
Played in the living room.
Played in the dining room.
Played upstairs in the hallway.
WEEE! That was fun!

Tomorrow is church and we hope to hear from our realtor, who was going to look at two homes today and if either one lists and is in our range, he'll take us to see them tomorrow.

Hope you are all having a perfectly splendid weekend!!
Kiss those babies!

Third Vow

Well, I tried to Google the term to find y'all something substantial, but the previous entry on it was pretty much the most I could find. So I'll just explain it here, but for an official stance on it, you can talk with your pastor and he will most likely be familiar with it.

The third vow in a marriage ceremony, as we understood it and incorporated it, is a vow taken by those attending the wedding, where they recognized that they witnessed the couple's vows to love, honor and cherish and that they, as witnesses, vowed to uphold that union, vowed to support it and not counsel unwisely or foolishly, vowed to do all in their power to not only just "not get in the way" (phrased much more eloquently in the actual ceremony), but to actively encourage good will and be a source of strength for the marriage and the family formed by that union.

Good stuff. Hope this helps.

Continuing Education

A thread on the WTM forums asked us what we'd like to do or accomplish? The lists were great. Then Steph carried the theme over to her blog. And I, being the sheep I am, just had to jump on this one.

But first, a little backup is in order. Zorak is a math-man. I've mentioned before that he reveres certain mathematical figures the way MFS reveres our dear Mr. Shakespeare. Not only does he love it, but he's good at it.

His natural aptitude and inborn fortitude leave me feeling somewhat incompetent, to say the least, when it comes to all things Math. And I just don't like that feeling. Granted, it's been great fun to learn along with the boys (God bless Math-U-See, which has, I admit, cleared up a few confusing tidbits here and there), but I feel I ought to be more than just a step or two ahead of them on a regular basis.

Zorak is eager to teach them higher math, and he most likely will take over the bulk of the work at some point in this realm. However, just as I want the boys to feel comfortable coming to either of us with questions about history, science, literature, and life, I want them to feel comfortable coming to either of us about, yes, math.

So, I had two choices: keep whining about not knowing math very well, or quit whining and remedy the situation. In response, I began studying from Zorak's pre-calculus text this weekend. (Nothing like taking one's own advice to set an example, right?)

So far, so good. Of course, so far it's all review and I'm not about to show James that it's stuff he could be doing. Let's think of the first few chapters as the, erm, Confidence Boosting period before we get down to brass tax, shall we?

Zorak, meanwhile, is literally salivating at the thought of enlightening me in The Wonderful World of Math! Heaven help me, what have I started??

So, allow me to modify the original question: what would you like to will you learn or accomplish this year?

Kiss those babies!

I may have pictures for you!

I didn't get a chance to tell you all, with all the hullabaloo that's happened since we've been back, but we did have the opportunity to sneak in a quick visit with a surprise guest (and one of her beautiful children) while we were on vacation! I've emailed her for permission to post pictures, and will hold off on the whole tale until I hear back.

Stay tuned!

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, January 13

What Shall We Do Now, Mother?

While I was fixing supper and the boys were doing projects in the dining room, our four year old, John, came to me and said, "Mom, Jacob has a mea culpa." This translates roughly to, "Jacob dumped something in the dining room and the mess is definitely his fault, not ours." Not bad for a first attempt at using a foreign language in daily discourse.

Today we did double duty on the house, hoping to recover from the mess that *other* family left in our foyer. For the first time in over a week, I am not twitchy over the condition of the house. The boys came first, and I'm not sorry for putting the house second in this case, but I am so Very Happy to have a tidy home once again.

The boys played and played. The weather was gorgeous (still is! This is sleeping-on-the-porch weather!) They rode bikes with the Wonderful Neighbors. They had ever so much fun. John is getting more comfortable getting on and off his bike. James may never get off training wheels, as he now rides at a slight angle, always leaning on one wheel. The image brings to mind the old Benny Hill sketches. Smidge was so happy to run and frolic like the little puppy he is at heart! Other Wonderful Neighbor came by with her little 9month old. Neighborly visiting, kids laughing, fresh coffee and nice weather. Today was downright Rockwellian.

The Suburban has been returned to us with a nifty, tight tranny. The Aamco guy solved the Mystery of the Vanishing Water for us. The water pump is on its way out. Naturally, the Aamco guy told Zorak he'd hook us up and "cut you a deal". Yeah, don't take it. $300 to replace the water pump, which may be the going rate, I don't know. What got us was his sales pitch: "That includes both the upper and lower radiator hoses. Yours need replacing." Do they, now? Funny, since one is less than a month old and the other one is less than a week old. It has a shiny, clean shield on it. It has sparkly new clamps. Yeah, we'll replace the water pump ourselves, thanks! The gall of some people is just stunning sometimes.

So, that's what Zorak did this afternoon, and now he's out zipping around town, "test driving". (He's actually getting Chinese food from Jerry's, but we can call it a test drive, right?)

This weekend we'll cruise town, trying to pick up chicks er, house listings. We've got a favorites list going, but haven't been able to reach the realtor to find out how long they've had contracts on them. That's our theme. Here is the typical conversation:
ooohhh, a house we can afford that's larger than 10 square feet!
Quick, call the realtor!
...K, thanks, anyway.
Wish us luck and send us some happy house hunting vibes, if you don't mind! We could sure use them.

Oh, and Zorak is back from his hunting trip. He caught some sweet and sour chicken for me (it's rare to find sweet and sour chicken in-season like this, you know). I'm going to go enjoy a quiet evening with my Love.

Have a wonderful Friday, enjoy those wonderful children, and as always, Kiss those babies!

If You Pour the Pine-Sol IN the Coffee...

Is that a sign that you need more coffee, less coffee, or just a break from cleaning?

The sad thing is, I didn't realize what I'd done until I looked and realized the coffee was the wrong color! I just thought, "Wow, the house is smelling so nice and clean!"

Today the weather is gorgeous, windows are open, doors flung wide. The coffee is brewing, dishes washing, laundry spinning, boys playing (in the laundry) and it feels so very good to be home.

I've been thinking today about marriages, particularly in today's climate, and how very fortunate I am for the friends we have in our life. When we married, we included the "third vow" in our ceremony. Marriage can be difficult enough to navigate, and it was important to us that the people in our life knew that we needed and expected their support through the ups and downs. We wanted those in our life to support our union. This is something we've kept in mind as the years have passed, and while many of the people in our life today may not have been present to take the third vow with the guests at the wedding, they're the kind of folks who would have taken it -- and meant it.

Over the years, I have learned from these friends to be a better wife; more supportive, more understanding. That's helped me to be a happier wife, and person in general, as well. What a wonderful gift! I'm still far (far, far, faaarrrrrr) from perfect, and it's an ongoing process. The process isn't always easy. Sometimes it's hard to take a deep breath and say, "Let's do what you need to do," when what Zorak needs to do isn't necessarily what I wanted to do. But I'm learning, and it's getting easier.

Sometimes we make decisions that are truly terrifying and I'm scared to pieces, but we do it together and it works out well, and I'm learning to remember that the next time a scary decision comes upon us.

Some days it's difficult to smile when Zorak walks in the door at the end of a long day (for both of us) and the first thing out of my mouth is some request (er, demand) like, "Did you get creamer?" Gee, he may have spoken with other people and done other things since that small email in the wee hours of the morning...

Yes, I am learning to remember those things. I don't always get it right, but I want to, and I strive to. And when I forget, I have beautiful friends to give me a gentle reminder that he might have had a busy day, too, out slaying dragons so that I can stay home...

with the boys...

caring for our family...

being the Mama and doing the Mama stuff...

and he brings me creamer, not because he has to...

but because he loves me.

Ask any parent who has uttered a word in traffic that they'd rather not have their children repeat -- your children are listening and watching. They will see that we aren't perfect- there's no getting around that- but will they also see that we love and strive and work together? Is that what we're showing them? It is. Moreso each day. We hope they will be able to say, when they are grown and discussing their ideas about marriage, that they've seen how well it can work when you work together, stick together, and surround yourselves with people who value your union and the strength of marriage, and that they've seen it through us.

Thank you so much, my friends, and my Zorak. What an education we're all getting!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, January 12

Get Comfy- I have creamer!

Yes, I'm back to my 1200 calorie per day addiction. I'm good with it and Zorak doesn't seem to care. I suppose it's better than bon bons, right?

First things first:
I've noticed some new faces here on the front porch, and wanted to give you all a proper welcome! I'm glad you've come to visit. The coffee's always hot (and a kettle is always on for tea), and you're welcome to come and visit. I look forward to getting to know y'all more. As you've probably noticed, we're terribly informal here: kick your shoes off, grab a cup, and curl up on the porch swing. Share your favorite stories and join right in!

Our Wonderful Neighbor offered a lift to the market tonight if we needed to pick up anything. After thinking it over (hmmm, cleaned out the fridge completely before leaving for vacation, made one run to the market for eggs and milk when we pulled in, yup we're out of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g...), I took her up on the offer.

We had so much fun, just she, the Smidge and I! It's been a long time since grocery shopping wasn't an orchestrated event, timed for optimal blood sugar levels and nominal sleep deprivation in the wee ones. We laughed and joked. We perused! Man, I haven't perused in the market in years! I got out of there with twelve bags of groceries for $40, and it didn't feel like it took very long at all!

The boys will be thrilled to have fresh fruit with breakfast tomorrow, too.

Zorak has rediscovered an old hobby this week: he's carving. Earlier in the week, he carved a ball inside a hanging cage. He saw a picture once and figured it out from there. (I'm tellin' ya, I am RCA puppy! I have no clue how he can do that!) Tonight he's making a camel. It's beautiful.

He can also weld a truly beautiful bead and decorate the most delicate, ornate wedding cakes. He swears the two skills are connected and are linked directly to manual dexterity.

Whatever it is, I don't have it- I'm pretty much stuck with the blunt force hobbies such as cooking (ok, cooking the way *I* do it, but then I'm not known for my cooking), basic use of power tools, and the occasional (poorly played) round of racquetball.

Tomorrow is our Friday, as we use a four-day school week. It's been a great first week back, and we're having a lot of fun. We have a little tweaking to do. I need to encourage more activity in our routine. Not that I mind having children who sit still for lessons, but to be honest, I think they are just humoring me for some of it and I'd like to draw them into the lessons a bit. There's nothing etched in stone that says we can't compromise and find a blend that truly works well for all of us. Quite the opposite, actually. We're doing this our way so we can, well, do it our way! I just love that.

That's about all for now. The guys at Aamco (which I cannot spell without saying the commercial in my head) have the tranny apart, but they don't know what they're going to do with it. I am praying we have it back by Friday, as we have an appointment with a lender on Friday. We'd kinda like to make that... I hope they figure it out soon!

I'm going to tidy up a bit and prepare for tomorrow. It's supposed to be a gorgeous day and around here, we nab 'em when they come! So we're schooling in the yard and taking some nature walks! Maybe we'll spend some time sketching, too, if the weather holds.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, January 11

The Daily Stuff

The Suburban is at the mechanics' now. They checked it out and sure enough, second gear is g-o-n-e. It's in pretty bad shape, and we were only a few days out from having a "drive in reverse only" vehicle. Again. So, fourth transmission coming up! I am SO thankful this one is under warranty! That $450 on the extended warranty was money well spent. Talk about opportunity cost!

This does, however, leave us with only The Mistress for getting around. Technically, only the Big People are now even remotely mobile. Zorak is the only driver in the house, since The Mistress and I haven't gotten to know one another yet. The boys aren't big enough that either of us would dare to plunk them on the back and trust that they'd hold on. *cringe* *shudder* Just the mere thought of what could happen makes me queasy.

I need creamer, and since it's cold out, I'm guessin' tonight's not the night.

Therefore, I'm drinking the coffee black, and while it does keep the headaches at bay, it does nothing for the mindset or the muse.

We had a great supper tonight. The boys helped make the split pea soup, then watched a video on the Humbolt Squid while the soup simmered. Something triggered The Giggles when we prayed, and from there it just built up and flowed right over. We joked and were just plain silly. Zorak made up his usual word-play riddles. The boys made up some of their own. They absolutely butchered their Latin and that made them explode in another fit of hysterical giggles.

Zorak and I couldn't have kept straight faces if we'd tried. The boys were laughing so hard. I thought John would asphyxiate and James had tears streaming down his face.

By bedtime, we were all exhausted. The boys passed right out during story time. Zorak took the Smidge upstairs over an hour ago and hasn't resurfaced, so I'm guessing he's out cold, too.

That leaves me, humming "So long, farewell..." to myself here in the living room. Eh, the children are tucked in, safe and warm. The house is recovering bit by bit. My muse is ignoring me. I believe I'll turn in, too.

Kiss those babies!

The Feel of Success

Today during Latin, the boys practiced their derivatives, sang Adeste Fidelis, and recited their prayers (The Sanctus and The Doxology). James usually hangs up on the fifth line of the Sanctus, and needs the quiet prodding of me whispering, "Benedictus" to get him going again.

Not today. Today he recited the whole thing without a stumble, without a hitch. It was beautifully done. I was so proud of him for sticking it out over the months, not giving up, not letting his attiude go sour. He did so well, and I thought I would burst.

But I didn't have the chance to congratulate him immediately. No sooner did he say the last "excelsis" than he leapt from his chair and spun around and around, leaping, jumping, mouth wide open, eyes sparkly but hidden behind high, happy cheeks.

"I did it! I did it and I didn't need any help! I did it all by myself!"

Way to go, Kiddo!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, January 10

Slipping in just one quick blog!

Well, the rest of the day turned out so nicely. The boys opted to recreate the story of Theseus and the Minotaur before we moved on to the re-civilization of Greece. Smidge thought it was hilarious. I narrowly escaped being made to play the Minotaur. It was good stuff.

The evening brought a chill to the air, so clam chowder and homemade wheat-free hush puppies were the order of the day for supper. That hit the spot all around.

While Zorak and I fixed supper, the boys played upstairs. At one point, Zorak went up to check on them (playing happily, engrossed in pirate ships and gears). He asked John if his pirates are the ones that don't do anything. John said, "No, these are the pirates that do anything."

From around the corner, James piped up, "You mean they just go around randomly doing things?"

Zorak just about fell over laughing.

Life is good, isn't it?

Kiss those babies!

The Weather Makes a Great Motivator!

For me, anyway. After a week of nothing but cold, cold, cold, today is simply, gloriously beautiful!

So, it's one o'clock in the afternoon and we're done. Considering we did not wake up until after nine (that was James and he was first -- we've all been battling some crud since leaving Prescott), we've cruised through school this morning and are now heading outside to ride bikes and clean the Suburban. I tried to talk the boys into letting me ride one of their bikes, but that was a no-go. Ah, well, had to try.

What does our Spring term look like, you ask? (Or not, but I'm telling you anyway.)

Math: Math-U-See Primer, starting with Lesson 12. He's shooting for mastery, although I'm not. Primer is designed for introduction and familiarity. He's loving it, though, so who am I to say, "No, you're doing too well. We must speed up!"
Reading: Writing Road to Reading, reviewed all the first phonograms, introduced the first four two-letter phonograms. Then he read the first three lessons in McGuffay's Primer. Major Gummy Bears for that one!

James-Math: Math-U-See Gamma, starting with reviewing Lesson 5. We've pretty much wandered about and created our own problems, focusing on word problem solving. He's not intimidated by them one bit, and that's what I've been hoping for!
Reading: Two chapters of Burgess' Old Granny Fox, four-letter phoneme review, spelling

Both-Latin: Review, review, review. We're somewhere near Lesson 7-ish. (They're young, we're informal, it's all good.) James does the workbook pages from Prima Latina. John does what he's up for, which is surprisingly quite a bit.
Bible: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made!"
History: We'll do history this afternoon, during snack. This week we're picking up with Chapter 22: The Greeks Get Civilized Again. I am hoping to make Eklek this week!

I've requested a catalog for education from the National Gallery, and am so thrilled about doing more experiential, hands-on Art learning!

OK, well, the natives are restless! I'm out of here. Just wanted to touch base today, as I plan to go to bed at a Decent Hour, and a Decent Hour falls long before the truly good Blogging Hour.

Kiss those babies! And don't forget, if you like what you see here, vote (link in the Best of Blog icon at the top). You can vote daily (which I didn't know until last night.)


Sunday, January 9

Back to School Days

I reminded the boys that lessons begin again tomorrow. John said, "Can we do math?" James said, "Oh, good!" Jacob slipped off silently, presumably to start hiding potential read-alouds.

The boys are excited about going back, discovering new things, and having new field trips. I am, too. The Fall was a good term for all of us. It was the first term we've schooled both boys and had a baby around. We had to find new footing, and although we've lost quite a bit of our normal reading to the screaming Babyzilla attacks, we've discovered new ways of integrating lessons into our everyday lives. I asked the boys what they, specifically, looked forward to. Some of their thoughts:

They missed doing Latin games.
They are excited about doing memory work again. (??? Well, ok...)
They've both missed doing math.
Oh, and they've really missed gummy worms and M&M's. (Which are an invaluable part of our daily lessons, of course.)

Those sales in August always sneak up on me, which is a strange sensation. As a child, I had an internal clock that told me they were coming. Or perhaps it was just that my shoes began getting tight and I knew we'd be buying "school clothes" right about then. January back-to-school always came with little fanfare, other than from parents. The children were stripped bare of their mental faculties by too much sugar and no actual structure. Going back to school wasn't quite the "fresh new experience" it had seemed in August.

Either way, the boys' "back to school" experiences are different, both by the nature of being spaced so many years after mine, as well as by the nature of homeschooling. I am glad for that. Yet some things are the same, and as I sat tonight, gathering materials and finishing the odds and ends of the Spring Term plans, I realized I am quite glad for that, too.

Our big project for this term will be art appreciation, to culminate with a fun-filled adventure to the Museum of Art in DC! I must get either a new ink cartridge or a new printer before I can pull this off properly!

Kiss those babies and share with us what your plans are for the Spring. What are you looking forward to?


Mama's 2004 Reading List

This is what my year looked like, although I've left out the titles I began and didn't finish. I think of those as a headstart on this year's list. *grin* They're sorted into semi-categories, but Dee and I came up with them at some unholy hour of the night and so they aren't what you'd call up to Dewey standards by any means... And I know there are a couple I read, but didn't blog about, and so those are just destined to remain a mystery until I stumble upon them later. Sorry 'bout that.

* The Dead Sea Scrolls
* Anastasia, the Lost Princess
* The Man Who Would be King: The First American in Afghanistan
* Reformation and Society in Eighteenth Century Europe
* Treason

* Catcher in the Rye
* Middlemarch
* The Screwtape Letters
* Cat’s Cradle
* The Hobbit (also as a read-aloud w/ the boys)
* Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
* Waterloo Station
* The Dark Tower Series
-The Gunslinger
-The Drawing of the Three
-The Wastelands
-Wizard and Glass
-Wolves of the Calla
-Song of Susannah
-The Dark Tower
* Diary of a Mad Bride
* The Great Fire
* Redwall
* Cryptonomicon
* A Painted House
* several patricia cornwell books- they all start to blend together after a while
* Aubrey-Maturin Novels
-Master and Commander
-Post Captain
-H.M.S. Surprise
-The Mauritius Command
-Desolation Island
-The Fortune of War

Practical (AKA- clueless as to where to put these)
* Building Your Dream House
* Electrician’s Exam Preparation Guide
* The Owner-Builder Book
* Foundations & Concrete Work
* Builder’s Guide to Foundations and Floor Framing
* Cooperative Sports & Game Book
* Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
* I, John, Take Thee, Mary
* Who Killed Homer?
* On Writing
* Simple Food for Good Life
* Gluten-Free Cookbook
* Dependent on D.C.
* More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws

Hamlet, Darnit, She Was In Hamlet!

Zorak loves me unconditionally and wholeheartedly. I know this, and that is why I am not insecure when he gives me pitying, head-shaking looks while we discuss mathematics. Or, more accurately, while he postulates, expounds and monologues about mathematics.

I just sit there like the RCA puppy; attentive, but clueless.

The tables turn, however, when we discuss, say, Shakespeare. Tonight I was trying to explain to him who Helena Bonham Carter is, and all I could say was, "Ophelia! You know, she was Ophelia in Mel Gibson's Hamlet! You know..."

No. He didn't know. Not that he didn't know who Helena Bonham Carter is (he did remember her from Fight Club). He doesn't know who Ophelia is.

This is where we switch roles. I don the didactic robes and he dons the puppy spots. He starts sniffing about the couch, roams into the kitchen looking for food and eventually wanders off completely, leaving me to mumble to myself, "I really do like Kenneth Branagh, but I just felt the way Gibson set Rosencrantz' arrival at the castle fit what I saw when I read it..."

So there you have it, hidden beneath the weirdness of discussions in our home, two very clear academic goals we have for the boys. Zorak wants them to know mathematics on a deep and personal level. OK, I wouldn't put it that flowery. From his perspective, he wants them to own it, make it their slave, use it hard and fling it around like a used tissue, baby! (Mmm, yeah, been a while since I had to talk like a guy, so let's just consider that a wholeheartedly paraphrased sentiment there. Hopefully, however, you get the idea.)

I want them to read and explore the world around them, to grasp words and understand what it means to truly savor stories, books, histories. I want them to understand my food-related book review guide on a nearly cellular level: taste what you are reading, feel the texture. If you are steeped in language and your taste buds are primed, then when you hit on a masterpiece, you'll never forget that full sensation for the rest of your life. I want them to get obscure references - they're like extra smiles you wouldn't get otherwise. Who would voluntarily pass up on extra smiles?

We do have to accept the fact that out of three children, odds are good that one (or more) may never really revere Fourier the way Zorak does. And one (or more... *sniff, sniff*) may not feel a from-the-belly laugh at Shakespeare's comedies.

It could happen.

But at least, if we do our jobs well and expose them to things like this, show them what's been laid out before them, they'll at least be able to roll their eyes at me and groan when I make silly references. They'll see another Laplace diatribe coming on from Zorak and head for the kitchen in search of food.

And they will know who Ophelia is!!!!!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, January 8

Goals Again- Setting them, Keeping them

I had planned to sit down with the boys and get a vague overview of what they might like to learn this year. Of course, when you're six and four, you want to learn all sorts of things and there doesn't need to be any cohesion to it. That's where parenting comes in, and somehow we can pull it all together, put in what they'd like to learn more about, and wrap it in the things they need to learn, as well.

Hee hee. I feel like I'm roaming about the hospital ward in a doctor's coat with a clipboard, hoping nobody realizes I'm not the doctor!

However, since a good leader won't ask of his troops what he isn't willing or capable of doing himself, well, there ya have it- I need to figure out what I'd like to do this year before asking the boys what they might like to accomplish.

I've been setting goals the past few years; broad and defined, long and short term. It's been amazing to see the difference that's come about in response to these goals. Not only is my mindset a little more focused (yeah, completely subjective terms on that one!) but in going over our goals from the past year, I've been pleasantly surprised to find that we accomplished nearly all of them! The only goal we did not accomplish was buying a house, and that simply was not within our means, but not due to anything we dropped the ball on, or failed to do.

My favorite, just-for-me goal is an ongoing goal. This is year three, I think. I realized one day that while I was quite well-read for a five year old, I was sorely lacking for a 30-something woman. Ahem. Yes. So began my quest to increase the quality of my reading, as well as the quantity in general of my reading. I had an inkling it was working when Zorak commented one quiet afternoon, "You read much more interesting stuff than you did when we were dating." I figure this goal pays off in more ways than I can list off the top of my head, but here are a few quickies that come to mind:

* It keeps the world unfolding before me, for my exploration.
* It sets an example for the boys that I wouldn't mind them following.
* It makes me more interesting, specifically to Zorak and the boys, but probably in general (or not, again, subjectivity is a beautiful thing).
* It affords us the luxury of enjoying worlds, places, people we might not otherwise enjoy.
* It keeps me focused (as I said, we're sticking with the subjective, just smile and move on, please).
* It gives me a jump start on great reading lists for the boys in future years!
* It's just FUN!
* It makes me question new things, old things, other things.
* You have no idea (or maybe you do) how much fun standing in line can be when someone else comments on the book poking out of your bag!
* Books are far more enjoyable when you catch references to and quotes from other books because you've actually read them.

There are more, I know there are. But it's time to go play with the boys. The gears have been put away, and it looks like we're going to build a train yard in the living room. Mmm, I do love this life.

Kiss those babies and have a wonderful afternoon!

Friday, January 7

Best of Blog Awards

Well, this all kicked in while we were on vacation, but blogmechanics is running it's "Best of Blog" awards right now. I sure miss cable modem because there are some great new blogs in the different categories that I hadn't seen before! What a great place to find more ways to spend quality internet time. *grin*

Anyhow, I first learned about it when I received a congratulatory note for being nominated. So I checked it out. How sweet. Thank you to whoever nominated Classic Adventures.

When we returned from vacation, I received another note that Classic Adventures made it to the list of finalists. Wow, what a surprise. I feel pretty honored to be in such good company, and it's a little strange to think of having come that far. Again, thank you, all.

If you haven't voted (or didn't know about it, like yours truly!) and would like to, go check out the finalists. You can find them here for the Best of Education/Homeschooling category, but browse around and vote for your favorites all around. I'm not posting this in the hopes of garnering votes, but rather just because I think this is a neat opportunity to learn more about the great bloggers out there- seriously, go check it out.

And on that note, since it's finally not raining we are having a cookout with friends- burgers on the grill, toasted marshmallows, and wonderful company. The boys are so excited they can't sit still... and that's making it a bit difficult to blog. I'll be back when they're in bed. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, January 6

Accountability and Perspective

Have you ever noticed that some people hold children accountable to an unattainable standard? I'm not talking about expecting them to learn to tell the truth or to look both ways before crossing the street. Those are things they need to be taught and held accountable for. The question isn't whether the child gets it right every time, but where is his heart? What does he or she want to do?

What I'm talking about specifically is holding something against a child that the child did not understand was wrong, or was simply too young to even remember doing. Would you tell a child who is ten that he cannot be trusted to ride a bicycle because he knocked one over when he was four? How about refusing to let a 14 year-old child babysit because once, when she was seven, she pushed her baby brother down the stairs?

The Original Case in Point: It has been lorded over me most of my life that I am a dangerous, evil person because I "intentionally and maliciously" threw a knife at my brother-in-law. I still don't remember doing it, but boy have I apologized time and again for it. When I was in my early twenties, I learned from outlying adults, that the occasion took place when I was two. It was a butter knife and was, evidently the only thing near my high chair. He was trying to force something into my mouth and wouldn't take "no" for an answer. Hence, my two-year old brain thought, "Grab something and chunk it at him. Maybe he'll go away!" Hmmm.

So it is ok to throw butter knives at adults? (Well, or children, for that matter.) No. Did my mother explain it to me, reprimand me for throwing a fit? I'm sure she did, she was good about that stuff. Did I ever lob cutlery at him (or anyone) ever again? Nope. To most people, that was a simple learning experience set upon by many children in many scenarios over the eons. Kids figure this stuff out bit by bit. Don't throw hard things at people. Don't bite people or pets. There's so much to learn! Yet to this day, that's a black mark on my record, according to some people.

I hadn't thought about this until we were in Prescott, visiting with a friend of Zorak's. This guy is a good guy. He's one of Zorak's dearest friends. He and I don't usually see eye-to-eye, but our run-ins are mostly of the perspective kind, and I'm guessing this was just another one of those things. He does not have children, nor is he around them much at all, and he's rather set in his ways, which is perfectly normal. Meanwhile, we have three, and haven't had our own way much of the time for the past six years. Rather, we've changed "our way" to accomodate having a family. Again, perfectly normal.

We were sitting at a restaurant, waiting for our meal, making chit-chat and praying the boys didn't bop passers-by with their ballons. Everything was going well. The boys were being good. Jacob was only mildly neurotic (two new teeth coming in that day). Zorak was happy to see his dear friend, and I was thankful we didn't have to go to their house to visit. All good!

Out of nowhere, he asks me, "So, has James gotten over his mean streak?" *pause* HUH? What mean streak, I ask. "Oh, come on, he had a mean streak." Um, he was two the last time you were really around him at all... I just said that no, he was fine, and moved on to give Jacob some unwanted attention to prevent me from pushing the point further.

Later, I discussed it with Zorak and the only incident we could think of was once James threw rocks at one of their many dogs. Friend's Wife just about had a stroke (those are their babies, which I can appreciate), and I took James aside to talk with him. My discussion with the two-year old went like this:

Me: Honey, what are you doing?
J: Playing catch.
Me: Oh. Um, well, with dogs it's "fetch".
J: Playing fetch.
Me: Yeah, well, with dogs, you use balls, not rocks. And you throw it away from the dog, not to the dog.
J: Oh. OK.
Me: *glancing up at our hosts who have retreated to their kitchen window to seethe between the blinds* Got it?
J: Got it.

He never hit the dog with rocks again.

How sad to be held accountable for something that happened so relatively long ago, when he was so very little and just learning. I would hate to be labled as to who I am now based on something I did when I was ten (which is the same ratio). Can you imagine?

James is now six. He's a neat kid, a little uncomfortable under scrutiny and can be rather flighty, but he is pure joy for us. His laugh comes from the depths of his toes and spreads to his eyebrows. Sometimes his eyes actually disappear when he laughs. He's funny and sweet, cries if I squish a lady bug in the door, is hypersensitive and gets frustrated quite easily. He will share his candy with his brothers without being asked to do so. He attends to tasks with a good attitude, and when he forgets what he's doing, he's cheerful in getting back on track. He treats his baby brother like a special gift from God, and he treats his other brother like, well, another brother. He opens doors for ladies and says, "Yes, please," and "No, thank you." He makes up excellent riddles!

And someone is missing out on all that neat stuff because of an innocent child's mistake from long ago.

Sadly, that's not all that uncommon. As my friend put it, some people "think kids walk out of the womb with a complete understanding of culture". How true! We accept that they don't pop out speaking an intelligable language, knowing how to dress themselves or tie their shoes, but somehow it's pretty common for folks to expect little ones to fully grasp the intricacies of human interaction and the norms and taboos of their culture.

Wow, that's just creepy. I know full-fledged adults who don't grasp 80% of it.

So, just for the sake of a child's heart, and our own, let's be sure to check ourselves before making comments about a child we haven't seen in a while. Or stop and ask whether perspective may have played a role in how we felt toward something. The feelings you save could be your own, your friend's, or a child's.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, January 5

Will Wonders Never Cease

Wow. I checked our answering machine today and among the other miscellaneous calls about Sunday School and KinderChoir and Holiday wishes, there were two strange messages. Both from the same lady, wanting to talk to me. (Or some version of me- she couldn't pronounce my name to save her life- but bless her, she sure tried.) I had a strange feeling that she was calling about my diaper bag (remember, it was stolen the day after Thanksgiving), so I talked with Zorak about it, then called her back.

Well, I had to leave a message and wait for her to return my returned phone call, all the while wondering what in the world she would have to say...

She called just a little bit ago. She has my bag. Says she found it in the bushes in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Christmas Eve and tried to call then. It's all in there except the camera.


How great!

Of course, I am a tad bit cynical and not entirely sure she's innocent. Zorak just picked it up and phoned to say it's spotless and hasn't weathered so much as a day in the out of doors. He also said all the stuff is in the one pocket of the bag I never use.

I don't know what it was, and will probably never know the full story. But I'm really thankful that she called. I have been the one to call and return items I've found, so I know how awkward it is to phone someone up and say, "Hey, I, um, have your things here," all the while praying the recipient of the call doesn't lunge at your throat. So I treated her the way I would want to be treated- whatever happened before doesn't matter. She called and returned our things. I'm glad to have the things back that I could not replace- the pictures, the sentiment behind that particular sling, and even the bag itself (a reminder of the four years we spent slogging our way through while Zorak was in college).

I'm sure surprised and thankful for those wonders you just don't see coming.

Oh, hey, speaking of unexpected wonders, anybody want to come help me with this laundry?

Kiss those babies!

Great Gifts

This year the boys received some truly fabulous gifts- not only thoughtfully picked out, but gifts that they will enjoy year-round for many years to come. (That's part of the reason I'm blogging again today- they're entirely engulfed in play!)

The Magnetix (from Wal-Mart) were a huge hit. Both boys have built and played and conspired almost non-stop with these things. The only thing I would change is to have purchased more than the one 70-piece box.

The pirate ship, oh, I wish there was some way to convey the response! We have a standing rule that no hard toys can be bedtime toys, but occasionally, for very special things, that rule can be bent. John slept with two pirates and tucked one into our bed, too. Granny made the comment one day to John, "Wow, you must be part squirrel." He said, "No. I'm part Indian, part pirate, and part good guy." It's good to know who you are, isn't it?

If you've wondered about the Gears, Gears, Gears toys- they're a riot! Particularly if there's a motor in the set. This box came out at nearly every stop we made, and we've still got all 120 pieces. The boys are nuts for building things they can make go.

Uncle Lyndel, who has no children, but he will- oh yes, he will, and we will be there with batteries and toys with many small pieces- brought a K'nex set for the boys. That one is a "during Jacob's nap time only" toy, but I think they'll have a blast with it once we get things stashed and find a safe spot for it to live.

And, as always, books, wonderful books! Three different I Spy books for the boys, some precious board books for Jacob, and Merlin and the Dragons for John. (He's checked it out from the library repeatedly over the last year- it's a love affair that seems to be sticking. The illustrations are fun, and the story is neat. Can't beat the combination!)

And what did I get? I got a big batch of my mother-in-law's phenomenal caramel pecan logs! They are delicious, and a lot of work, so I'm thoroughly appreciating them. She and Zorak keep insisting that you aren't supposed to eat them like a candy bar, but I say, if the shape fits... Hey, I'm willing to forego new jeans just to enjoy these decadent things the way I want! (Although Zorak hid them deep in the back of the Suburban, which is the only reason there are any left for me to be eating now...) Merry Christmas!

Kiss those babies!

2300 miles in two and a half days!

WOW, that's a lotta driving! However, we are home, and boy does it feel good!

The return trip started around four o'clock Sunday afternoon. We left from Las Cruces and drove straight through to Nashville, where we slept hard for 10 hours Monday night, then hit the road again Tuesday. We pulled into town early this morning.

The transmission started giving us trouble just outside Knoxville, so that last leg of the journey took a while as we nursed the little thing home with a cranky 2nd to 3rd transition and no passing gear. (This week's science lesson, boys and girls, How Chevy Should Never Have Made Their Electronic Transmission. Thankfully, we bought the extended warranty nine months ago when we had this transmission put in. And just so you don't believe everything you read, this Suburban isn't from the Carter administration. Our last Suburban was from the early, early Reagan era, but that one died a relatively peaceful death a couple years ago. This one is just a wee pup, a three-legged pup, evidently, but still not even ten yet. It does have heat, though, oh yes, it has wonderful, working heat!

Let's see, only two boys threw up on the return trip, so that's not a bad average.

The amount of laundry waiting for me is beyond intimidating, particularly since we didn't have the energy to take it farther than the foyer when we unloaded last night. The dining room looks like a convention for chronic runaways, with all the plastic bags filled with mismatched clothing and dirty socks.

It's now eleven thirty, Jacob and John are painfully perky and awake up in our room, James may be forced out of bed by hunger at some point, but that's not likely to be this morning. I'm going to feed the Wee Ones and get some wash going. Will be back later today to play around and bore you with our lesson ideas for the Spring '05 school term. Then off to read blog buddies and check the overflowing email. (I had no idea how frustrating it would be to be without internet access for days on end! Hah! Who needs cable when you have an ISP? Hee hee!)

Kiss those babies!