Tuesday, February 28

How cute!

Our library calls to remind you when your books are overdue, and I have to say I've never had a sweeter "bring us our books" call in my life. The lady who called had that perfect Elderly Southern Belle voice - she was just too cute. Fortunately, we have the books in a pile by the front door and as soon as I finish loafing on the computer and hanging the next load of wash (it's still spinning, which is why I get some loafing time), we're heading out the door to return them and run a few other errands that've been mounting this month.

It's another gorgeous day here in Forever Land. Sunny, slightly breezy, and relatively arid. I'll take it! If it could be like this all the time, I'd be in heaven. There's a spot in the back yard area that is just begging for a bench swing for reading. I could hear it while I was out back this morning. "Bring me a swing and discover me! Come, little one! Bring a blanket. Coffee. And snacks." Either we are totally attuned to this place, or I've gotta get out more.

One of the errands on the agenda is to pick up a ball so we can play ball in the meadow. (I have no idea where all of our other balls went, unless Zorak and I threw them out in one of the moves - which is totally possible.) The boys are excited, mostly just looking forward to playing outside and enjoying a nice day. It just hit me that I'll need to get a ball that's Balto-proof. Maybe a soccer ball?

Zorak finished the chase for the gas vent last night. It's in one of the bedroom closets, and we set it so that we can build shelves along the little section that's left. It looks great. It's also a reminder that I have a TON of texturing to do! Yikes! I'd better get on it and do a little catching up! Maybe that will be this afternoon's project?

On the homeschooling front (this reportedly being a homeschooling blog and such), I finally signed us up for two local homeschool support group lists. It's time to get out and meet some people. Local people. Friendly people. Homeschooling people. We need Our People, and the only way to cultivate that is to actually get off our butts and find them. The first step is admitting you haven't done that, right? So, that feels good.

And there's the end of the spin cycle. Off to be productive!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 27

More Progress on the House

We rearranged the living room over the weekend - brought up the couch, put the futon and the stereo into the school room, moved a bookshelf. The living room looks much better - more along the lines of the cabin retreat look we were shooting for. The wood stove must go as soon as the weather warms up. Although we positioned it to take up as little space as possible, it's gargantuan and takes up a huge chunk smack in the middle of a wall. Next winter we'll put in a smaller, more efficient (and attractive) one that will fit nicely in the corner.

Balto spent a good portion of the day roaming free in the house. No accidents. Yay! He wanted to go out on the balcony, but it freaked him out. I don't know if the banister gave him the same sensation cattle guards give cows, or what, but that was one twitchy dog for about an hour and a half. He'd get the front paws on the balcony, then bolt back into the house. In his panicked retreat, he smacked his head on more than one door jamb. But, oh, how he wanted to come out there with us! So he'd try again, make it maybe five feet onto the deck and then scamper like a scalded cat (which, on an animal his size is an amazing feat) back into the house. We just loved on him and tried to encourage him without making him more hyper (it doesn't take much, he's a little spastic.) When we sat down for lunch, he disappeared. Zorak went looking for him (we both had images of the dog gleefully peeing all over the carpet in the boys' room) and found him splayed out on the balcony, soaking up the sun. I guess he conquered his fears in order to claim that tasty little spot of warmth and comfort. Sometimes it's worth is, no?

Emily was right when she called this the ick that has taken over the nation! It seems to have hit everyone we know, from California to Maryland. It's amazing what a rough winter this has been for sinus and respiratory illnesses. I'm glad we've got company, though, as it lets us know that this is normal and we haven't damned the boys to living with some kind of illness for having moved into this place. (Not glad y'all are sick, too, it's just, well, you know. *ahem* Get better soon, everyone!)

Now that the basement has been cleared a little, we can finish clearing out the Tool Room this week and get started rebuilding it come payday! I almost cannot believe we're that close. We could have the master bedroom functioning by the beginning of March! Holy Batcrap, Batman! That makes me giddy!

Oh! Oh! I made a frivilous purchase at Lowe's yesterday! For the first time since this project began, I got to go down the "yuppie homeowner fun stuff" aisle! I bought the boys a closet organizer! The cashier probably thought I'd OD'd on anti-depressants for post partum depression. Picture Laney, buying shoes - brand name, 75% off, and "just what she needed" - that was me, yesterday. What FUN! Of course, now I've gotta figure out how to install the stoopid thing, but still, we are getting so close to Normal that I can taste it!

And speaking of Normal, I've got youngin's to tend to and wash to bring in. Time to go be a grown up and enjoy all the blessings this life offers! Have a wonderful, fantastic Monday, everyone!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, February 25

Three Days Later

Man. This winter has been rough! I am thankful today is going to be a relatively warm, dry day, because we have got to air out this house. Ick. John had a relapse. Smidge kept getting worse and worse. James hovered on sick all week, and I couldn't shake it, either. Florence Nightingale, I'm not, okay? This is just ridiculous!

After quite a bit of research, which I'll blog about later, I decided to use the colloidial silver. I still wouldn't give it to Miss Emily, but fortunately, she's the healthiest of the bunch. The rest of us, though, have been taking it. Smidge's mucous changed from nasty green to normal snot-color about ten hours after the first dose. He awoke the following morning smiling, with those bright brown eyes wide open for the first time in three days. I can't say I'm sorry I made that call. Everyone feels significantly better. What was nice was that it didn't wind down. It stopped. So, now that we are - hopefully - at the end of this bout of illness, we can get back to life.

We're trying to arrange things in the basement to make room for the tools and materials from the Tool Room. When that's been cleared out, we can begin transforming it back into the Master Bedroom. It's taking a bit more juggling than we expected, but that's okay. It's coming together, one load at a time. We brought the boys' toy shelf up last night. It was like Christmas for Smidge! We also moved one of the tall bookshelves into their room and began the process of liberating some of our favorite books from the basement. That was like Christmas for James.

And I'm trying to blog with James questioning me about light rays and eye development. This isn't working well, so I'm going to go and talk about light waves for a bit over coffee with my eldest child. He's still a little guy, and right now he needs some mama time. I can blog later. (After all, they have to sleep sometime, don't they?)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 23

The Mama

We did nothing today other than stare at one another and pass the tissue box. It was a warped, prolonged game of Hot Potato. Only in our version, you wanted the hot potato (tissue box) when the timer buzzed (the timer being any random sinus cavity).

James fell asleep at seven - this, from the child who stays up until midnight reading - and he just barely made it through a chapter of The Horse and His Boy. Smidge didn't make it through supper, and I'm not sure when or how John got to bed because Emily and I were out cold beside James.

So why am I up at three in the morning? Because when you are two and you wake up but find you cannot open your eyes, you cry for Mama. And Mama responds the same way Mamas have always responded, by instinct: make it better. Mama responds by rushing to your room and scooping you into her arms, reassuring you that it's okay (not because she has any clue what's wrong yet, but simply because she is here, and you believe her). She responds by washing your face gently and coaxing your eyelashes apart one by one; by cuddling you tightly and kissing your hair, your forehead, your cheeks; by slathering you with things to clear your nose, and calming your Very Scared Little Self. Then you feel better, because Mama made it better. And you snuggle under your fleece blanket, kiss your soft toy goodnight and drift off to happy two year old's dreams.

Meanwhile, Mama stays awake several hours longer, checking in on you. Are you breathing? Are you okay? Are you spiking a fever? Are you dehydrated? Is she missing anything? Is the path to the hallway clear? Should she bring you to her bed? Should she sleep on the floor where she is near you and your siblings? Should we all live in a one-room house to eliminate these questions? Is the baby still safe? Are you okay now? Come to think of it, is Daddy alright? Mama has work to do, after the crisis has been averted. And so, Mama is blogging between rounds she must make before she is assurred that All Is Well and she can go back to sleep.

Well, this isn't leaving the house easily, and so I do believe it is time to call a doc and see if perhaps there's something bacterial that has invaded the house along with the viral ick. Thankfully, today wasn't Friday!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 22

Comfy Floors and Strange Visitors

It felt indescribably good to put my feet on a finished floor when I awoke yesterday morning! Zorak keeps thinking he's stepped on something and it takes a second before he realizes it's not something that shouldn't have been on the floor. We're having a lot of fun with the whole carpet thing.

I've been smitten. Thankfully, it wasn't a full smack-down (yet), but I am sick. I was miserable yesterday. And today. Tomorrow's not lookin' so hot, either. Ick. However, I feel better than Smidge, who awoke crusted over and slimy like something from a Clive Barker flick, looks. Poor little guy. I had slathered him with items from the voo-doo bag the night before (a little eye of newt, a little dragon's liver, and a dab of chicken foot) and evidently it did the trick because the next morning everything that had been inside his body was now outside it. All over it. Amazing. He was feeling a tad bit better by bedtime last night, so I think he's reaching the end.

Yesterday nothing was accomplished other than two loads of bedding, which I then added to the mining camp ensemble to dry. That's one thing I miss about living in the desert: wash hung on the line dries in the same amount of time it takes the next load to wash. I really, really miss that.

Zorak wants to begin on the master bedroom this weekend. I think I'll let him.

Oh, and we had a bizarre visitor yesterday. While the kids and I were enjoying lunch, a white pickup pulled in and a young kid (I'm guessing mid-20's) got out and came to the door. When I answered, he said he noticed from the road that we're fixing the place up. Said his granddad had built this house and would we like to have the original plans to the house. Now, this, in itself, doesn't strike me as weird. If Zorak's Granny had sold her place and we saw that somebody was fixing it up, we'd stop and say hi, tell some stories about the old place, and just be friendly in general. What strikes me as weird is that (a) you can't SEE this place from the road, and (b) you can't tell we're doing anything other than trashing the place from the outside.

He went on to tell a few stories which may or may not jive with what we know about the place. He said it was built in the late sixties and that it burnt down a few years later and the structure that's on there now was rebuilt after the fire.(County records say it was built in '71. Something was on fire at some point in the Dean Koontz room, but I'm not sure if it's indicative of a whole house fire...) He identified a few of the fruit trees on the property, although one he got wrong (said it's a fig and it's a chokecherry - I have no idea how close those two are in appearance). He shared a lot of information I wouldn't share about my family in a town this small. In all, he was fairly believable, but the whole visit had a feel of "doesn't quite fit".

Anyhow, I didn't let him in. I couldn't shake the feeling that he is the son of the folks who lost this place and that he was running recon for them to see if they want to buy it back. He mentioned having come into an inheritance a while back, and that was the big flag-raiser for me. Both our realtor and the closing attorney said that usually the only way people come to claim a right of redemption is when they receive an inheritance that allows them to afford to buy the place back. He asked if my husband would be home that evening and said he'd bring the plans by. He never came back. I hope he doesn't. But I can't feel at ease about the encounter. I'll be so thankful when we get the all-clear in May. Until then, please pray that it stays quiet on that front.

Today we'll keep cleaning and resting. I'm going to work with John on his reading as soon as he finishes breakfast. The older two are still sound asleep and resting. I think I'm going to go climb back in bed and wait for John.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 20

One More Down

Wow. The War Room is now carpeted. Zorak pulled it off. I'm in awe. It looks downright swanky in here! Didn't hurt that we cleaned the computer and desk before we brought them back in, I'm sure. It is going to feel so good tomorrow to get up and put my feet down on a finished floor! WAHOO!

I got the boys' room mostly stenciled today. It looks really cute. Smidge saw the trains and yelled, "THOMAS!" Then he clasped his hands together and let out a beautiful little, "Ohhh, thank you!". (I should say this is an artistic rendering loosely inspired by Thomas. It's close enough to thrill a two year old, but not close enough to risk copyright infringement which was not intentional, actually, but one of the benefits of not being able to draw freehand.) James LOVED his beakers. John thinks the dragon tracks and eggs are just the best. I may stop right now. They're happy, and that's what I was shooting for. The ceiling fan blades didn't go up today because someone touched them and they had to be repainted. Grrr.

While the back half of the house is coming together, the living room looks like a miner's camp during the bad years of the gold rush: skivvies drying by the wood stove, beans cooking over in the kitchen, trails of mud leading from the door to various spots in the living room, a wood chip trail to the stove, and well, you get the picture - it's just a mess! When, or if, Miss Emily goes to bed tonight, we'll do a big clean before we hit the hay. If not, then that's on tomorrow's agenda.

Thanks so much for your encouragement and gentle reminders on the last post. I feel better today, which is great. (Getting those damned stencils over with helped a lot!) And now I've got this visual of God doing the Extreme Wrestling thing, which cracks me up. It's probably not wise to giggle at the Almighty, in particular not when I'm the one facing a potential smack-down from Him... but I can't help it. It's funny. I will, however, keep in mind the warning signs and I promise not to incur the wrath of the Almighty or force Him to smite me with something viral and ouchy.

Kiss those babies.

Sunday, February 19

Oh, yeah, that's nice. (More remodel news.)

The boys are in their room tonight. Their real room. Their Forever Room. It's carpeted and clean. The closet has wood flooring. It's roomy. It's not right off the kitchen. ;-) The boys all helped move their belongings into the room. "Excited" doesn't begin to describe the atmosphere. Smidge and I sat on the floor, playing ball. James staked out his places in his bed and oriented himself in his space. John ran around in circles, making unintelligible yet happy noises. Zorak can't stop smiling.

The stencils were drawn up and cut out today, but not painted on. It's just not possible to paint ANYTHING with four small children and construction work going on. If Emily didn't need something, Smidge did. If one of the older boys wanted to do something, so did the other two. The constant hum of someone in search of something from somebody else created a distracting air that really killed the focus. Nobody had enough focus to L-I-S-T-E-N. So. Hopefully Zorak will take them far, far away tomorrow and I can stencil up trains, beakers, dragon footprints and dragon eggs while they are gone. (Don't ask me how I'm going to make it look nice - that's beyond me at this point. I just want them UP.) The ceiling fan blades have been painted and are drying. They'll go up tomorrow.

As soon as I post this entry, the computer gets shut off and we'll empty this bedroom to carpet it tomorrow.

My mind is turning now to the school room. It needs French doors and a bigger window, but for the immediate needs, it looks like new wiring and walls. It's exciting!

I'm strung a little taut at the moment. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically, I'm fine. But the other two are feeling a bit wrung out. Not sure how best to deal with that. Getting away isn't an option. Taking a break won't make things better. Slowing down won't, either. This is one of those times that require us to just plough through what needs to be done and try not to be too hard on ourselves for not seeing immediate joy in it. I liken it to hiking the switchbacks out of a deep canyon. The hike down was enjoyable, with new sights and discoveries. The stay, while often grueling, was pleasant and rewarding. Now it's time to hike back up. That always kills me. One foot in front of the other. Step.



Don't look at the top of the switchbacks. They seem insurmountable. But they aren't. You get there one plodding step at a time. Stop for water. Catch your breath. But don't think about how much of the climb is left. Just plug on. There's a thick steak and cold iced tea waiting for you up there, but you won't get closer by trying to see it from the trail. You have to keep. Going.

And I'm done with my water now. Time to put one foot in front of the other and take another step. The end of the trail may not be visible, but it's attainable, and the view from the top will be astounding! We just have to get up there to enjoy it.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, February 18

Darn Morning Blogging

The quality of my blogging is bound to take a serious dive pretty soon. First my caffeine has to go. THEN my night blogging gets yanked out from under me. What's next? Health food?

So, since Emily is now healthy and has the cry of a clear-lunged hyena, I thought I'd take the boys to see The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe yesterday. (Just LWW for the rest of this post - I'm conserving my typing energies.) But at two in the morning, a Very Stuffy Smidge crawled into bed to cuddle and shower me with snot. I realized two things: we'd spend Friday on the couch, and our bed is shrinking.

Really. It is. We used to be able to fit two adults and two wee children in the bed with only minor placement problems. But Smidge. Oy. The kid has the volume of an NFL rookie and he's as active as a tap dancer. Add to it Zorak's Elbow of Death, and Miss Emily's desire to suckle any body part she can find in the dark and... well, that's why I'm up! It was simply too dangerous to stay in there.

Today, Zorak will stay with Smidge (who has once again commandeered my pillow) while I take the boys to see the movie. They're so excited. We've finished The Magician's Nephew and LWW and are just a few chapters into The Horse and His Boy. James *clicked* near the end of LWW - Aslan, Edmund, salvation, the whole sh'bang! I don't know if I mentioned it here, but it was k-i-l-l-i-n-g me not to point it out to him as we read. I could see bits niggling at his brain, hints in his eyes that "there's something more going on here..." and then suddenly, KAPOW, it hit him. Now he wants to go back and re-read The Magician's Nephew with his newfound knowledge. He he. Yep, this is good stuff!

But it's also really great to see it through John's eyes. For John, this is the Ultimate Adventure Tale Ever. It's not any less thrilling to see the stories that way. Not at all. As a matter of fact, I'd read all seven books as a child, loved them passionately, cried when I finished, and never clued in. Not even a hint. (Yes, I actually read The Last Battle and STILL didn't suspect anything.) But I enjoyed it then just as much as John is now, and revisiting Narnia once in a while always reveals something new and exciting. So, in all, we're having a great deal of fun with this.

Zorak shared with me His Plan for this weekend. It sounds a bit ambitious for one who doesn't get started until after ten on the weekends, but who am I to put the kabosh on Grand Schemes and Things of That Sort? (Can you tell I'm abusing capital letters today? Certain things seem to take on a different feel when they're capitalized, and it cuts down on my abuse of italics.)

OK, well, the sun is now up and the day must begin!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, February 17

OK, it's done.

James looks like Lloyd Christmas. John's got the whole Big Brother Chet thing going on. Thankfully, Smidge has no say yet, so he has a Cute Little Boy haircut.

Zorak seems okay with James' haircut. I have no. idea. why. With the faces this kid makes anytime there's a camera nearby, we're going to have a lot of family photos where he looks like this.

Personally, I like John's haircut. Granted, he really does look like Big Brother Chet.* It looks pretty good, though, and is fun to run my hand over, too. It was very difficult for the barber to do it. Not technically difficult, the man has skills; he just didn't want to do that to John's head. I could tell that it was emotionally painful for the man to cut off THAT MUCH HAIR. John is ecstatic over it, and feels pretty manly. Zorak furrows his brow and mumbles, "it'll grow out..." every time he looks at it.

BUT, while they may now look a bit weird, at least they don't look abandoned. That's what I was shooting for, and hey, it worked.

Miss Emily seems to be clearing a bit more with each day. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. She's a tough little monkey. And very cute, but I have to tell you, we took pictures yesterday and... pink is not her color. Now, I'm not making this up just to avoid pink (although I'd contemplated doing so back in November sometime). The child has my complexion at the moment and pink makes her look very, um, spotted. She doesn't look terribly spotted in person. It definitely looks worse on the camera. Maybe she's just not photogenic? I don't know, but you're going to have to wait for a yellow gown day for pictures.

And darnit, it's raining! I awoke this morning around four to the sound of rain on the roof. I tried very, very diligently to convince myself it was the sound of the noise machine and not the sound of my laundry getting soaked again. It wasn't supposed to rain again until FRIDAY!! Wahhhhh. Oh. Wait. This IS Friday. Well, nuts. There go two more loads that'll have to wait it out. I'm really bad at this, you know.

And so, I've no idea what today, or this weekend will hold. Zorak is determined that we will be laying carpet. I'm guessing that means he's picked a carpet? I don't know. I don't ask questions. I'm just the hired help. Call me Cookie, I'll round up the chuckwagon and have the coffee hot when my Cowboy comes in from the range... But whatever it brings, it should be fun.

Have a great weekend!
Kiss those babies!

(* I found the Big Brother chet photo at the Official Weird Science website - if you liked the movie, check this out, it's fun!)

Thursday, February 16

Yet Another Thrilling Day

Zorak awoke, showered, and headed out before the sun even thought about making an appearance. I'm in awe of that man's ability to work so hard on the house each night and still go to work every morning. Thankfully he's not a workaholic, or I'd have to slip sedatives into his coffee to keep him from killing himself!

Me? Yeah, no threat of sedatives, here. I need real coffee each morning in order to get up and moving. Actually, I'd rather not get up and moving. Life would be perfect if I could mount feeders for the boys (think hamster feeders, those are handy!) along one wall by my bed and we could all just stay in bed reading most days. That would be pure bliss. But no. I got up with Zorak, changed Miss Em, made coffee, let Balto out before he vandalized the foyer, fed and again changed Miss Em (who is markedly improved, thanks to a little eucalyptus oil and nonstop nursing - I'm wiped out, but she's quite perky!) Let the dog in. Let him back out. Let him in. I'm getting daily walks via trips to the front door. When we finally put in a dog door, I suspect my weight will balloon significantly.

*poof* John's up. Holy cow, yes, it's seven thirty already! Two chapters in Dragonology, a few peanut butter cups (because I don't have to be the nutrition nazi when there's only one up, right?), and then it's time to get dressed. Clean clothes, please, as we're going to Costco today. "Muenster cheese?" Yes, sweetie, for muenster cheese. (Why don't our regular markets carry this? We have our pick of eight kinds of goat cheese, but can't get muenster! That's just weird.)

Today we get to finish the wash, oogle stackable sets, pay bills, hit Costco, go to the barber (I've been threatening this for, what, a month now? Yeah, well, our barber isn't open Sun-Wed. It's hard to catch him. Today we ARE going!). John wants spikes. James wants it long in front and short in back (in the Land of the Mullet, he marches to the beat of his own drummer - thank God!) Smidge is still blissfully clueless, and I've actually become one of those mothers - he has curls. They are darling. I hate to cut them off, but he's got such a large head that I'm thinking it's not going to go well for him once he loses the toddler fat. So he gets shorn, as well.

We're still making daily, inch-by-inch progress on the house. Laney asked for pictures the other day, and I'd love to have some to post. Sadly, we're not making progress that quickly just yet. However, let me take this moment to solemnly swear that this is not a hoax, nor an urban legend. The Forever House does exist and we are actually living here, fixing it up, and enjoying the reprieve from the Very Cold Weather! I'm still elated over having a washing machine and a clothes line. We're still very thankful for the wood burning stove. We think new insulation is one of the most beautiful things you can hang in your rooms, second only to the walls you hung, taped, textured and painted yourself. I still get schoolgirl-giddy when a room is far enough along that I can attach outlet covers. Yes, progress is being made. It's just not pretty. Not yet. But don't give up on us!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 15

Are You Mocking Me?

Zorak and I joke with one another quite a bit. Sometimes I don't know if he's joking. If it's weird enough, he may just be serious. Many of our jokes, however, rotate around the imaginary Sancha/Sancho. Our standard excuse for missing items around the house is that they've been left at the Sancha's place. (And she'd better wash them before sending them back, too!) But I had an epiphany when the following took place the past week:

I had to go out in public. Since odds are good we'll run into someone who ought not see me in my feral state, I showered and put on clean clothes. Out I went, my small herd of kittens in tow.

Shop, shop, shop. Herd, herd, herd. Pay, do a quick head count, and head home. Yay. We survived.

When I walked in, Zorak hugged me, smiled, and asked if anyone hit on me while I was at the market.

*blink* *blink*

Is he mocking me? I thought to myself. "What?" I asked aloud. (OK, it may have had a bit more inflection, a hint of a mild shriek to it. Seriously, it's not fun to be in drag and get mocked.)
"No, seriously. You're hot!"
(My eyes narrowed with suspicion as I cocked my head to engage the BS-meter.) Perhaps he hired someone to hit on me as a morale booster. A bizarre, warped morale booster...

Then it hit me.

Oh. My. Word. He's SERIOUS. You know what this means? This means I cannot die first. I can't leave him alone to go out there and forage for another wife! I had hopes of getting him betrothed to Thomasina, you know, just in case. But now she's seeing someone and that might make the whole betrothal thing a little hairy. That means he'd be left to his own devices, and do you know what could happen?

Ok, picture this: A personals ad (I'll leave out the abbreviations in case nobody else reads those things just for weirdness sake and isn't familiar with them.)

Do you like moonlit strolls up and down the hall? Do you smell faintly of soured milk and wear stained shirts and men's pants? Do you have enough children to bog down every appendage while out in public? If so, this Widowed Male, father of many, has found his dream woman! I have a job, a home, and a stove that can turn out meals for small armies. Call me. We'll do playdates.

That has become his ideal woman!

What's scarier is that it's ME! Oh, the poor man. What has become of him?

Seriously, what would his options be? Perhaps he'll troll the market, looking for women with slings and white stuff crusted on the slippers they've taken to wearing in public. (Although, in my defense, they do have a rubber sole, and are so comfortable I forget they're slippers.) Stalk La Leche League meetings? Become a midwife in the hope his clients can hook him up? I don't know, but I just can't take chances like that. Better start sucking down the Osteoplex and MSM...


Tuesday, February 14

Hmmm, a lot to consider.

Well, I'm still digesting today's visit. We won't be going back to this doctor, that's for sure.

In the meantime, she prescribed colloidial silver for Emily. I've been doing legwork on it all afternoon, and am still not 100% certain how best to proceed. For any of you who *have* used colloidial silver, I would like to hear your experiences, input, and recommendations. This isn't something we've used before.

It might well be RSV that she has. That was, unfortunately, my thought yesterday. The doctor suspected as much, as well. A lady from church arrived at the baby shower on Wednesday after spending the day caring for her two grandsons who've been laid up with RSV, so it's quite possible that she contracted it then. Ah, okay. It's treatable. We'll take it step-by-step, day-by-day.

I've got to find my almond oil tonight and do a eucalyptus rub on Miss Em. That'll help her sinuses, at least. She's nursing happily, and I'm going to see if I can get her to increase her feedings - it can't hurt in the meantime.

There's some digesting to do, like I said. I'll blog more later, when I've thought out my words better.

Kiss those babies!

That went well...

Well, we got a lot done yesterday. Wash is freezing on the line. Dog is freezing outside. Big Brother's paperwork is sitting on the breakfast bar. Over two dozen doctors offices down, and I finally just called an NMD in Decatur yesterday about seeing Emily. YAY! We have an appointment at ten this morning!

Normally, I wouldn't take a child in for the creeping crud. John has it, and he's fending it off just fine (it'd go better if he would BLOW instead of just trying to breathe around that stuff, but hey, he's five...) So is Smidge (he will actually blow his nose, which could be why he's doing better than John). But Miss Em does the whole infant's suck/swallow/puke regimen and it's not only making her puke a lot more than my comfort level can sustain (seeing as the milk comes with it every time), but the crud has also moved to her lungs, in spite of regular pounding treatments. (Not that we beat her -- it's a technique LB reminded me of, used a lot in cystic fibrosis therapy and also COPD therapies. We used it on my Mom during her convalescence.) So now Miss Em rattles. And she turned magenta yesterday. Not blue, as that would've been an ER Trip of Astounding Speed, but magenta, from the strain of trying to get it out and still breathe. Yes, she needs to be seen. And I am thankful someone will see us.

Guess that means I ought to go wake the wee spawn and get them dressed and fed.

We made it to WallyWorld for KILZ-2 and all manner of good stuff. The boys were awesome, and although it was absolutely packed, we had no lost or maimed children. That always signals a successful outing, in my mind. We didn't get home 'til almost seven, so reading and stencil-making were pushed back to today. Kinda handy, as that relieves me of having to come up with something to do today! (Procrastination does have its good side.)

I'll tell ya, life is one crazy whirlwind. It's like viewing the world from inside a cyclone - a long, snuggly, giggly, mess-making cyclone. I'm not sure what I thought Life would be like, but this definitely isn't it. It's far better, and I wouldn't climb out of this cyclone for anything in the world, but wow-oh-wow, does it go fast. For someone who threw up on the Yo-Yo at the carnival, it's a pretty impressive ride!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 13

What a Day Today Will Be!

I'm hoping that's in a good way. We shall see.

First, we must find the Health Department and pick up one of their "homebirth packets", because that's where they keep the birth certificate forms. If I don't get it done within 30 days from the baby's birth, then we get (another) flag with Homeland Security and will have to go justify ourselves to the SSA in order to get her a Social Security number. Well, yeah, like this is a stinking priority with everything else going on. But then, I don't think it'll go well for us once they realize we've been down this road before... I'm not paranoid, I'm just a veteran! *he he* Should probably keep references to compounds, communes and firearms to a minimum until she's registered and legal, eh?

Then it's off to WallyWorld for more KILZ-2 (love that stuff, and it's only six bucks a gallon at WallyWorld!) And to the post office to buy measly two cent stamps because once again I've had stamps in my wallet long enough for them to be too little to use.

Miss Emily is still sick, so we have to find a pediatrician. On the upside (and yes, this sounds strange, but stick with me and I'll explain), John and Smidge are both sick now, too. This is good, because odds are high that they've all got the same thing. SO. Knowing what they have tells me what she has (probably) and makes it a lot easier to know whether to panic or just wait and see. Still need a ped, though.

The boys' room has been painted "Snowdrop" (which is a gallon of white with exactly two little drops of blue tint - who knew that could make a difference!) It looks great. We'll make stencils tonight (because it seems the only stencils we could find are Disney, floral, or those little faceless Dutch people). We found a great carpet that we really like (Zorak says it's "less grownup" than the one I'd originally picked - he's right). The room is coming together so nicely!

That's about all on this side of the world.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, February 11

James - All-Around Great Kid

I've just got to brag on James a bit tonight. He's seven, and he is really neat. We went to WallyWorld last night to get paint and a few miscellaneous things. We had such a fun time. He's silly. He cuts up and makes me laugh. Sometimes because he's trying to, and sometimes just because he's a goofy kid.

He is polite and respectful. He stops the cart to let ladies go ahead of him, says hello to children, smiles at babies, and brags about his siblings, his Gram, his family. We seldom ever have to remind him to say "thank you", or "please". Last night the man at the paint center showed him how the dispenser works, explained the color codes and the formula charts, let him put the clips on the cans and gave him the mallet to smack them on snug. As James ran to the cart to put another quart in the basket, I thanked the man for being so patient and attentive to James. He smiled and said, "Well, he's polite and interested, and that means a lot."

James loves medicine and naturopathy. He's just about mastered reflexology, just from reading my books on it. Actually, he reads anything he can get his hands on that pertains to these topics. This week he's been busily trying to formulate a cure for the flu, and he thinks he's found one for cancer (although he wants it noted that, "It is still untested, but I'm pretty sure it will work"). OH! If ONLY he had a lab! *he he* However, even without a lab, he's determined to find a way to make it work.

He loves to make up riddles, most of which I can never solve.

How are snowflakes, grains of sand, and people alike?


What's the only type of light your skin can see?

Those were today's riddles. I got one. The other one stumped me. The hint for the first question was, "It's what makes them so interesting!" That statement says a lot about James. He sees the world like that, everyday.

Doing thoughtful things just comes naturally to him; helping Smidge get toothpaste on his toothbrush, or pausing a movie when John heads down the hall. If he sees one of his brothers' hats on the floor, he'll take it to the brother. He helps unload the dishwasher, set the table, and keep the wood box full without having to be told. He holds Emily, kisses her, sings to her, and lets me know regularly when it's time for her to eat (which is always - he must think she starved in there!) The other day I overheard him teaching Emily her ABC's. He cheered her on and encouraged her, showered her with kisses. He never quibbles about bringing me a diaper or wipes - no matter how many times I sit down to do a diaper change and forget to gather those items beforehand. If one of his brothers is getting frustrated with a game or a project, he'll offer to help find solutions. He's forever building things for Smidge or gathering things for John. Just to be helpful.

He cherishes time alone with either Mom or Dad. He gets that we're different and that he needs us both. That is very cool. He loads up the pup and heads out with Dad to cut wood, or waits patiently for Zorak to take him hunting (during the season, of course). He doesn't whine and pounce up and down about going with me to the store, but if I ask if he'd like to go, he disappears in under a minute. I'm just now figuring out that he's in the Suburban, reading a book and waiting for me.

When we peek in on him at Pioneer Club, he is attentive and helpful. He loves to read Scriptures and stories for the class. He loves to help with the projects. He stays and helps tidy the room after class is over.

He handles disappointment far, far better than most adults I know. And he experiences joy to the depths of his toes. He's vulnerable and open, and truly, truly wonderful.

Of course, he still does things that make me remind myself, "They're little. They do that." He's just a little guy in many ways, and that's okay. He's only seven. But he's growing into such a fine, fine young man. I'm pretty sure he won't still be doing weird things when he's an adult "because it made John laugh" (then again, he might, have ya seen Zorak and his brothers together???) And we are relatively certain he won't always feel the need to pick tortillas into three thousand pieces and nibble them to death. But even so, he's well, well on his way to being the kind of man we need more of. And that's not only humbling, but encouraging, as well.

Yep, we love that JamesBear. And we're more in love with him each day. He's just an all-around Great Kid!

Kiss those babies!

Oh, joy, a morning blog!

I know, it's a "blog entry", not a blog. I've been up since two, cut me some slack.

The Great Paint Dilemma has been resolved! We'll paint the walls neutral (I'm making Zorak break the news to James - he'll be heartbroken) and will either sponge or stencil shapes/characters/religious icons of the boys' choosing along the top and bottom border, around the windows and the door frames. In the three aforementioned hideous color. There. That's settled. I don't know about you, but I feel much better.

The boys have power and lights in their room. Yay!

The carpet quote came back a bit higher than we'd anticipated, and putting it in ourselves would only save us about $200. Hmpf. So we're going to look at alternative plans. I have a sinking feeling that we'll be putting it in ourselves, regardless. I was warming up to the idea, but then, as Zorak was explaining it to me, he happened to use the least appealing example possible: "It's just like putting fitted sheets on a bed..." Um, honey, I've seen you make the bed. This isn't going to end well for us, you know that, don't you? Oh well, it's the experience. The journey. Whatever. He's excited (not as excited as he was over the hallway lights or the door in the bedroom, but still excited), and that's worth whatever we need to do.

James has enjoyed being back to doing lessons-lite this week. So have I. The Third Eclectic Reader has some wonderfully fanciful poems in it, and we've enjoyed those tremendously. Math has been all oral review - and will continue to be so until all possible escape routes for the math blocks have been sealed. Writing, reading, history and literature. Plenty of time to snuggle and play. More patience, more smiles, more of the life we like living. More intentional. It's good. He deserves that. They all do.

And why have I been up since two? But the white noise machine worked... what happened? Ah, Miss Emily has the snuffles. And it seems that even if you are calm and collected, lulled peacefully by the sound of ocean waves, it matters not if you can't breathe! Poor thing. The snot sucker has been employed, and I've got to say she's a lot more forgiving about that thing than the boys were. As soon as you stop assaulting her with it, she will stop yelling at you for it. Wow. We even tested that theory by doing snipe runs at her with it - snuggle, snuggle, *SCHLURRPPPP*, snuggle. Yep, no prolonged agonizing screams. How. Weird. (Nice, but still... weird.) Anyhow, she's resting semi-peacefully in her carseat at the moment, and since it's nearly six-thirty, I'm kinda UP.

I guess I'll go make coffee and get caught up on my favorite reading materials. :-) Have a lovely, wonderful Saturday!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, February 10

It Worked!

OK, back up a little bit. Miss Emily is not caffeine-tolerant. Figured that out the hard way today. And that was just throwing in a scoop of regular to round out a pot because we ran out of decaf. Egads. Never, never do that again!

On the upside, however, after the shower last night, one of the ladies at church disappeared into the nursery and emerged with a Homedics white noise machine. She handed it over with the suggestion that we give it a try and if it works, we can use it for as long as we need.

Very sweet. I accepted, but didn't really think it would work. I mean, come on, she has three older brothers and then there's the dog. It's not like we have a lack of background noise at our place.

But tonight. Oh, tonight... ugh. In desperation, I pulled out the machine and plugged it in.

The volume was up ALL. THE. WAY.

I turned it down.

And she stopped.


Jess was on the phone with me at the time - she can verify it. (She also immediately started turning the radio dial in her van, looking for static. It worked on Tristan, too. Screaming bloody murder to dead calm in 0.02 seconds!) We felt like we were getting away with something, what with having the rest of our conversation in silence.

Anyway, that was three hours ago. She hasn't let out a peep since then. (She's still breathing, yes, I checked.)

Of course, I have a passed-out thirty pound toddler on my lap... but at least it's quiet.


Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 9

Progress, I think...

With kids, you never know if you're making headway or not. You can hope, you can pray, and you can even squint really hard to see if it looks any better, but the truth of the matter is that you just. never. know.

And on to other fronts...

The boys are making genuine friends at church. For this, we're glad. We hope to start getting out more and making friends who live a bit less than an hour away. That'd be nice, but it's just going to have to wait until the weather clears a bit. I'd like to think of myself as a dedicated mother who would do anything for her children's well being and happiness, but in reality, I'm a wimp, and it's simply too cold and soggy to be out trolling for children.

The carpet people came yesterday and measured. They're going to work up quotes with and without installation. (That would be Zorak's Grand Idea! My arms and wrists still haven't recovered from yanking two gazillion square feet of subfloor, so I'm going on record now as saying that if we install this carpet ourselves, it's his knees doing the work! I'm gimpy enough as it is - I can't afford to be partially paralyzed from head to toe!)

We're still struggling with *how* to paint the boys' room. Their only request is that we use their favorite colors: the shade of purple on the Aussie hair products (the dark purple), "daffodil yellow", and some random shade of blue they haven't quite been able to explain yet. Zorak is a "white is good" paint person. He's trying to convince them that the walls should be a neutral color and they can paint the trim with wild and wonderful color! Wee! (Knowing that, for James, the words "neutral color" are synonymous with visual death, you can imagine how well that was received.) I'm the kind that would rather pluck out my own eyelashes than have to do something crafty and creative. So now I look like E.T. and the boys' room isn't any closer to being painted. Eventually, though, I will run out of hair and will be forced to face the room and paint. I'll let ya know how that turns out.

Miss Emily slept from ten last night until five this morning. As I changed the largest newborn diaper I have ever seen in my life this morning, I showered her with the kind of praise generally reserved for the dog when he pees outside! Bless that child and whatever it was that knocked her out. (I tremble to think it was the lack of caffeine... short-term, it's not so bad, but two years of drinking this stuff may turn me into a raving lunatic!)

We had our baby shower last night. It was very sweet, and truly wonderful. I was humbled to the point of tears on several occasions. They began by reading Psalm 139, and that pretty much started the tears flowing for me. Among the Very Darling Outfits, and Wonderfully Practical Items we received, the cutest was a little handmade bunny. I thought it was just a cute way to give someone a washrag, but three ladies burst out, "OH! A 'boo-boo bunny'!" Um, okay, what in the world is a "boo-boo bunny"??? (Yeah, for having four children, I'm horribly out of the loop on cute kid stuff, okay? Admitting there's a problem is the first step...) Turns out, it's got a spot to stick an ice cube in it's butt and you can use that for, you guessed it, boo-boos. Oh. Cool. Glad someone said something before I got it home and undid it. I'd have felt rather foolish to have a washrag with a bunny face embroidered on it, anyway. So, now that I know what it is, that is probably my favorite thing from last night. Very cute and creative. (There goes another hair... I hope nobody expects me to make one of these things!)

And that's pretty much it. Today is a day to rejuvenate and spend on the boys. They're so neat, and I miss so much among the paint cans and extension cords. Balance is important, too.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, February 7

Primer Tonight

OK, as exciting as this is, yes, I'd rather be saying "Prime Rib tonight", but alas, I'll take what I can get.

The boys' room is textured. I'm signing off here to finish the outlets and ceiling fan as soon as I blog this (because I'm really excited and the boys just. don't. care. anymore. - but I had to tell someone!)

Zorak can hang the ceiling fan and connect the wires in the attic tonight!

The Very Nice Carpet Lady comes tomorrow to give us a firm quote and arrange installation dates. (I'm tellin' ya - be nice to my kids, say kind things about them, and cough up the quarters for them to have a candy from your parent-trap machine by the door before we leave, and I'm buying something from you!)

And then I can get them OUT of the school room! And bring up *maniacal laughter* BOOKSHELVES, and BOOKS to put on them! And we can start eyeballing the walls in that room, deciding textures and paints for it! And did I mention they'll be OUT OF THERE?

Alright, those who know me know that it isn't about having a school room. And it's only partly about having the bookshelves up and out of the basement (although that's a pretty big Partly...) But my true joy is in knowing that one day soon I can make coffee in the morning IN PEACE! Zorak can stoke the fire without assistance at six in the morning! Why will this blessing be bestowed upon us?

Because they will no longer be camped in the adjacent space! They will no longer know that I am up. Oh, sure, they may still sense it, but they cannot prove it without getting up and out from under their warm covers, and plodding down the hallway (why did we show them the lights in the hallway are working now???) to verify that we are up. No more will they hear the world's noisiest faucet filling my coffee pot, and ascertain that The Breakfast Fixer is, indeed, up and about by merely opening one eye and peering from beneath the covers.

So. We may get a few mornings of quiet mumbling and grunting over coffee before Zorak leaves for work.

Don't get me wrong. I do love my children. I love their enthusiasm and energy. It's just that I can appreciate it a bit more when I've had a moment to compose myself, pee in private, and suck down a cup o' decaf whilst pretending it's triple espresso with white chocolate and whipped cream. Really.

Ok, I'm off to finish working!

Kiss those babies!

Zorak, My Knight In Shining Armor

He and his trusty steed er, bedtime routine, have come to the rescue! Two nights running, he's taken the boys after supper to let them play with electricity (ie. science), guide them in tidying the dining table (ie. home ec!), and then he has seen to it that they are jammied, their wee teeth are scraped clean, and each of their tiny bodies is tucked warmly into bed.

And what am I doing during this time? Lying in bed, incoherent to all but the cries of the littlest one, shifting her from one position to another in an attempt to find the elusive volume control. (It's got to be in there, somewhere!) But the key point to this all is that I am prone. Flat on my back. Under the covers. Deriving some sustenance from knowing that the elder spawn are being tended to and not left to their own devices in the dark of the night.

This is just about as close to heaven as it can get. Or as I can blog about, anyway. *wink*

So it's not so bad when she's back up at three, because by then I've had some semblance of rest and don't feel the need (drive!) to wake Zorak to go dig up a diaper (or some other task I could do myself, if truth be told). He's definitely in this with me, (and therefore I don't feel the need to drag him into it).

OK, perhaps it's not so much the Noble Knight thing as it is a Self-Preservation Thing? Well, either way, it's incredibly attractive, and deeply appreciated! He's my hero, and I love him.

Today the boys and I are going to finish preparing their room. I've got to call the Nice Carpet Lady to come take a look at the rooms, and hopefully just enjoy some time hanging out together. It looks like the start to a beautiful day!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 6

The Remodel That Will Not End

I am determined to paint every room in this house YELLOW! This is ironic, as I'm not a big fan of yellow. You'd think I'd go buy a different color? But no. I buy a different shade of yellow. Brilliant.

At least the first bedroom is now painted and has two outlet covers. Zorak hung a door. The room looks very inviting.

For being yellow.


Miss Emily is a bit colicky. Yes, I've switched to decaf (and, as that tastes like crap, I'm also down to maybe three cups a day... exponential decrease in consumption!) Cut out onions, not drinking dairy. Sling? Check. Baby massage? Check. Soothing baths? Check. Soon we will be introducing her to the joy that is Captain Morgan...

Upon the arrival of our fourth colicky infant, we have come to the realization that colick is a lot like the flu. You can do x, y, and z and it'll go away in so many weeks. Or, you can just suck it up and it'll be gone in about the same time. Either way, you're not gettin' any sleep, privacy, or peace and quiet from sundown to sunup for the next month.


Other than that, though, she's a lovely baby. Nurses well, quite alert. She's as strong as James was as a baby - holding her head up and steady, lifting her torso by grabbing our fingers and pulling hard. She's healthy and precious, and we're all very much in love.

The boys are great. They're getting more attention than they did the entire last trimester, so that's been wonderful for all of us.

Balto has more than doubled in size since Christmas. He's HUGE. Happy, and still not the brightest of the bunch, but a good dog. He hasn't messed in the foyer in a while, and he's figuring out how to play fetch. We just take it easy, go slow, and work with his attention span (which happens to be on par with the boys' attention spans, so that's convenient!)

OK, well, I'm sorry I've been quiet. I've been a zombie, to be honest, and zombie-blogging can get a little creepy. So I've spared y'all that spectacle and will try to blog more regularly (or at least around the latest blogger outage - next one scheduled for this evening!) and will be reading when I can. If I miss something good, let me know, okay?

Kiss those babies! (I'm going to go be productive while mine is sleeping!)

Friday, February 3

Very Shaggy Boys and Good Friends

Man, I need to dig out my old photos and scan some in for ya! Y'all may have seen the occasional, very funny comments made here by a gentleman named James. He's real. He's funny. He has amazingly high integrity. He's witty and smart. (He'll kill me for mentioning this, but he's also single... so, you know, email me if you'd like to know more!)


ANYway, he says, "Don’t fret the shaggy boys, remember the boys you hung out with in high school weren’t exactly sporting high and tights and most of us turned out okay." He's right. And to be honest, most of the boys at our high school sporting high and tights ended up with bad cases of backne and blue urine... *sigh*

So, no, I shouldn't fret having Very Shaggy Boys, at all. James (the little one, not the commenter) has such a naturally pixie-like, Elvish look to him, and John's a bit on the Dwarvish side... dress 'em up and it looks like we're raising a team of extras for the LOTR films, though! So I do tend to get a bit verklempt over the state of their heads.

However, this light-hearted, yet wise, comment got me thinking. It's not the hair. Not the clothes. It's the heart, the mind, the soul that we tend to. It does help to keep the hair out of the eyes, yes, but that doesn't fall in the Top Three of Important Parts to Parenting.

Then, as caffeine-induced awareness will do, I jackrabbited about a bit in my head, and began thinking of friends. (Nice segue, huh?) Sometimes life sends you friends for a short time, and life is brighter because of that time. Then space, circumstances, or Life sends you out on different paths. And it's okay.

But once in a while, Life brings your paths back together, and that is truly wonderful. Particularly when you discover that you've both grown and matured (mostly) and that you can enjoy your friendship and all the changes that have taken place in your lives over the years. Your friendship may be rooted in the past, but it can thrive in the here-and-now. Not too many friendships can pick up like that and exist in Today, but the ones that can are priceless.

In high school, James was one of those Very Shaggy Boys. He was one of my very favorite people then. He's still among some of my very favortie people. Even when he calls me to say that he's in New Mexico, staring at the beautiful Sandia mountains, eating a green chile burrito and he's not sharing.

Yes, even then.

James is no longer a Very Shaggy Boy. I am no longer... whatever description you'd pick for those awkward teenage years I survived by the sheer Grace of God. And I think we've turned out OK. Which is good. It's encouraging.

The boys have friends they love and adore. Friends for whom they make special projects, plan get togethers, and shop for birthday gifts. These friends are dear to the boys, and the boys are dear to their friends (one of John's friends drove his mother nuts last week, worried that John wouldn't get his birthday party invitation in time for the party. It was Very Important to this little guy, and that made John feel great.) If they skip the barber shop on the way to Pioneer Club, who cares? Conversely, if we skip it, who cares? In twenty years (um, or more... but I don't want to get too detailed with the dates, here, okay?) the hair, the shoes, the cars don't matter. It's all about the friendship.

Yep. Friendship is good. Friends are good. The hair is just a messy detail that doesn't. really. matter.

(Of course, we're still getting haircuts, but I'm not going to fret over it if it doesn't happen right away!)

Today, kiss those babies, and call a friend!

Thursday, February 2

A Nice Outing

The boys, Em, and I hit our local library yesterday. As a Libertarian, I love it. I absolutely, positively love it. The land upon which it is built was donated. The structure? Funded by catfish dinners, book sales, and other private contributions. Every book in the library has been donated. Every book. And the entire thing is run and staffed by volunteers. It's small, and doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it is ours. It is truly a public library, and its doors are open because it belongs to the people-with-a-lower-case-p and not at the whim of government funding projects.

When James learned that it's run by volunteers who come and spend a day a week at the library, he asked if we could do that. Miss Joy, the Wednesday lady, enthusiastically said yes, and pointed out that the library would be able to stay open longer, or perhaps even on another day, if we volunteered our time. What a valuable, valuable lesson for the boys! When things are settled a bit more, this will be one of our projects. The pay, while not legal tender, is absolutely phenomenal.

The five of us then headed into town, the plan being to meet Zorak for lunch, take Miss Emily to meet the ladies at Zorak's work, get the boys (my wonderful, but Very Shaggy boys) to the barber, stop at the Crunchy Market for breads and flours, and then on to Pioneer Club. That was the plan, anyway.

We were at the library an hour or so longer than we'd planned. Zorak had an unexpected meeting. Lunch was at 3:30. The ladies were gone by the time we were done eating. The barber is only open Thurs, Fri, Sat (so the boys are still Very Shaggy). We did get some breads and pastas and made it to Pioneer Club not only on time, but early. In all, a good afternoon and evening.

The baby shower was moved to next Wednesday, so Zorak and I got to sit in on the Bible study. I love our pastor's teaching style. He's informal, articulate, well-read, and humorous. Even Zorak chuckles enough to stay awake, which is helpful beyond belief. Pastor is also a history buff, so he speaks to the way I learn Bible the best: in context. I truly enjoy his studies.

Two of three. No, strike that, three of four. Wow. Three of the four children were sound asleep upon arriving home. James continued to talk uninterrupted (not even to inhale, we don't know how he does it) until after ten. He was asleep at that point, but still talking.

Zorak is exhausted. All these months of constant tension-filled progress and utter lack of sleep have now caught up with him and he is sound asleep by ten-thirty (which, if you know us, you know is ridiculously early - that's our equivalent of the retired crowd eating supper at four!) Em and I stayed up a bit (tired grin), talked and tended the fire, then hit the hay.

In all, a nice outing, indeed.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 1

Finding Our Groove

There's such a fine, fine line between a groove and a rut, isn't there? I think we're doing okay, although there are a few weird moments in each day that cause me to question our decision not to pursue development of a child-safe tranquilizer gun. Small doses at supper would make the meal infinitely less stressful. Larger doses around, oh, say one or two in the afternoon would create a lovely naptime reprieve. And if we could add an infant/puppy dose, oh, the things we could accomplish after supper!

Alas, that's not how God intended life to go. And it's good. Even when your children try to make their siblings laugh with milk in their mouths (and succeed...) Even when, among the four children, someone is awake 24 hours a day (two someones, since that necessitates a partially responsible adult to monitor the activity and/or gas level of alert child...) Even when the toddler is sporting a goose-egg atop a goose-egg and if you lay him down, his profile is beginning to resemble the Grand Tetons.

Yes, even with all of that, and the countless other, "OK, who thought that was a good idea?" moments, it's still not a rut. It's a groove. It's the choppy flow of life's rapids and the winding curves that bring new adventure around each corner. It's what makes you turn to your spouse with a big, maniac grin and shout over the din, "Hold on! This one's gonna be fun!"

And thankfully, those are just moments in the day. They don't comprise the entire day (well, not every day, anyway). Interspersed among the chaotic, hair-pulling, milk sopping, diaper blowing moments are the other ones, the pay off. That's where you discover that your eldest child has a phenomenal grasp of the absurd, and a great sense of humor that you really, truly enjoy. It's in those spaces between the grooves (ruts?) that you see your second child cuddling and singing to one of his siblings, rocking her to sleep, gently kissing her brow, and you realize his dragon-slaying nature is also very deeply rooted in the home. If you look at your toddler between the "no's" and the fits, you see a happy, silly little guy who loves to dance nekkid in the living room, thinks the greatest thrill in life is to make his brothers smile, and gives tremendous spontaneous hugs for no apparent reason other than that he loves you more than anything. And at the end of the day, when everyone is tucked in, read to, kissed and hugged, and you curl up with the baby, you realize the potential yet to be released in this little life, too.

I can't say if we're accomplishing much, or not. It doesn't matter. We're enjoying the trip, riding the rapids, laughing at the spray, and teaching our little ones to navigate the waters themselves. Sometimes they throw an oar overboard and we look at each other in total astonishment, wondering what we're doing wrong. Then we realize, we aren't doing anything wrong. They're little. They do that. That is why we're here. With spare oars, big hugs, and the ability to show them how to use the oar and why it shouldn't be tossed overboard. When the river widens, we enjoy a break on the beach, pick flowers, tell stories, enjoy the view.

And just think, when it's all said and done, in the end, we get to kick back in the fully customized houseboat and watch them wonder why their little one just tossed an oar at his brother's head! We'll know, and we'll know it'll be okay, too, because we recognize a good groove when we see it.

Oh, yes, kiss those babies!