Thursday, June 29


Jill mused a while back about the naval theme that her family has taken on, and it made me chuckle. The boys, naturally, asked what was so funny. And there, true to form, we wandered off the deep end - thus accomplishing nothing on the house, but engaging in fun forms of ship-speak for the next hour or so. Last night at supper, I heard, "Mom, the dressing stands by you." I looked up to see an impish little grin, and what could I do but laugh? (Well, and then explain to Zorak what we were giggling over.) We love to hear things like this pop up in their dialogue, as it's more proof that they *do* listen. After all, what are our children picking up when we aren't taking the time to be the ones talking with them?

And this delightful life of ours is about to crank up the pace for a few days! TONS of stuff to do: wiring, texturing, cleaning, hanging, sorting, nailing, trimming, and general readiness prep. Miss Emily won't sleep (teething tablets to the rescue!). The boys are thoroughly enjoying their lessons... to the detriment of any actual scheduling attempts on my part. Zorak's feeling a bit under the weather, and scratched his eye doing who-knows-what. (Safety goggles, Love! Sexy as they are, they're not just a fashion statement!) I go in tomorrow for a follow-up visit with my doctor (to show her that, no, I'm not suffering from some parentally-induced malaise, and yes, I still love and care for *gasp*, all four of my children.) Balto dog is due for more Frontline (ew!) so he goes in at two tomorrow. Sheetrock goes up tomorrow morning, and then it's texture-texture-texture like the wind! (I don't believe I've mentioned how bizarre it feels to walk out of the bathroom now and see, not plastic sheeting and dark, lurking forms behind it, but an open doorway and subfloor - and the window! We haven't seen that window since Christmas! Zorak and I both cringe involuntarily, then relax visibly every time we pass that doorway.)

And, it's really kinda still warm out. (Euphemism alert!!)

After a two-day wait with no call back, I called Sears again. Nobody knows anything about the missing return call, but the lady I spoke with said the laundry center isn't even scheduled to arrive in Huntsville until the wee hours of the fifth. *sigh* At least I have an answer, now. But that's okay - it's less than a week away! Yippee!

Our lessons today went quickly - we did them in our room, where Miss Emily could roam the bed without getting rug burns on her forehead and the boys could curl up and enjoy some snuggles among the phonics drills, Latin chants, and encyclopedia entries. I think James did his math under the couch cushions, or at least that's what it looked like. All I could see were his legs. John did his under the dining table. So, math, Latin, and earthquake awareness; check! Sounds like a good day, to me.

And now, everyone has been fed. Again. We need to knock out Smidge, put up some laundry, and then James and I hope to play our long-awaited game of chess (he's going to cream me). Hopefully, we can get a dresser this weekend and deal with some of the clutter. Yes, the same dresser we've been hoping to purchase for a month, now. Don't hold your breath. We only prepared for two children, so we're winging it on pretty much all fronts at this point.

Tonight's blogging will probably be a little light on content (as opposed to the deeply thought-provoking, content-rich blogging I've been doing lately *snort*). I need a little fun brain-break for a bit.

So, kiss those babies (and talk to them)!

Tuesday, June 27

So Close We Can Taste It

HVAC Guy worked from nine until almost two. In that time, he accomplished quite a lot: the units are set, the lines are run, and measurements are taken. (OK, it doesn't look like much in writing. Maybe I've left something out - to be honest, we didn't bone up for the test on this part because, well, we didn't have to! Kind of nice for a change, to be honest.) He left a list of things we do need to get done before he comes back with the fabricated parts. But the good thing is that he said it may be the end of this week. Wouldn't that be heavenly? Of course, operative phrase is "may be", but I'll go with delirum for a thousand, please. I'm good with that.

It's so interesting to see the difference in working with him vs. the other people we spoke with - not only in that he is a small business owner rather than an employee for a larger corporation, but in that he saw the house last fall, before we bought it. He's almost as excited as we are about the changes. :-D I think I'd rather spend a week in a room of angry two-year olds than have to do an entire remodel using contractors for every step of it. But the few times we've had to work with someone, we've been fortunate to have great ones on our team. He has worked with us, and our schedule, and our poor communication skills *ahem, cough, cough* without ever getting snarky or raising the price on us mid-stream.

I called Sears today to find out if our laundry center will be in the vicinity before the fifth. If it is, then we'll go ahead and pick it up rather than wait for the fifth for delivery. We're using our own power cord, so they won't install it, anyway. Why wait? After thirty minutes on the phone with Sears, being transferred to random departments throughout the store (including women's apparel and tools), the verdict was that "Jennifer", presumably from appliances, will look into it and call me back to let me know. Never heard back, but I have hope. And that hope makes me giddy!

Zorak's Mom and Brother will head our way in a few days. Brother will drop her off with us, then head to PA to get his girls and bring them back. They plan to stay for a week or so. Looks like it's time to slip back into Host Mode, which is always a nice treat. They'd like to see the Caverns and the Gardens, and we'll probably do the boat excursion. Granny loves to hit the junk shops (and the boys, I am proud to say, have mastered the fine art of knowing when it's a "junk shop" and when you really ought to call it an "antique shop" - Granny will be so proud! *sniff*) The boys will be thrilled to have Granny at hand again. We cannot wait to see the girls. They're 14 and 16 now, and although in our minds they are still just 4 and 6, they've grown into fine young ladies who are a joy to be around.

I talked to the Aunts on Sunday and they said Gram is doing wonderfully. She's home, recovering, and growing stronger each day. Gram was resting when I called, and I'd planned to call back in the afternoon to talk to her, but I hate disturbing her rest. Even if she's just laying down, she's getting some rest, and she's probably going to need a lion's share of it over the next week or so. In the meantime, however, it's so encouraging to know she is recovering so well!

Tomorrow starts our church's summer Wednesday program. Looks like fun, and it's scheduled for the hot, hot afternoon hours. Ohhhh, twist my arm, folks! I get to hang out, in an air conditioned building, for two and a half hours while my children enjoy fellowship and all that crafty, energetic stuff I can't quite pull off? And there'll be snacks? What a delightful idea!

Kiss those sweet babies!

He's HERE!

HVAC man is here! There are two beautiful, shiny new units being set as I type! Oh, JOY!


Monday, June 26

Day... whatever, I've lost count

The children and I stayed home (again) today. We waited. And waited. And waited. No HVAC guy. hmmm. Well, alrighty, then. Zorak did get through to him in the late afternoon, to find that he plans to be out tomorrow morning. (As opposed to this morning, or Saturday morning, or even last Friday morning... well, I'm not saving him any coffee. He can durned well bring his own.) To be fair to HVAC guy, Zorak's not the most detailed conversationalist when it comes to hammering out plans. Great engineer, wonderful husband... not so much on the communication end. About the only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that I will never know what happened.

Lessons are moving right along with all the fluid motion you can expect with four children. Yes, some days it's choppy like a lake in a storm. Today was relatively smooth. We did Bouncing Narrations, which are always fun. I read. They narrate. For each accurate point they make in their narrations, I let them bounce off my bed. This is why we never rented a second-floor apartment!

Smidge has become quite a list-maker, and self-proclaimed organizer. So, while I'm bringing water to the table, he's shouting, "Pray! A'er cord! Juice! Raymoose! ROOOARRR! Straw! ROOOARRR! A'er cord! Ooo, ooo, ooo JUICE!" (To translate the less-than-clear bits: "a'er cord" is "AllerChord", the drops the boys all take; ROOOARRR is "vitamins" - they're shaped like dinosaurs, of course.) It's like being dictated to by a drunk. A really, really cute drunk.

Oh, and things I overheard today from the other two:
John: "Watch out, Smidge! I'm about to impress Emily!"

James: (after a particularly loud crash) "No, we're good. Nothing's broken. Well, we need a new plate for the scale. And this time, use the two-ton epoxy."

They make me smile.

The house is nearly ready for company, which is good, because a friend of Zorak's leaves Arizona tomorrow to come look for a home. Yeah, tomorrow. Coming our way. Nothing like a good head's up that company's coming, right? (Again, I'm looking closely at Zorak for this - how do you fail to mention when out-of-state company will be arriving this week? Oh, well, at least I've got tomorrow to get the guest room ready. You know, while we wait for the HVAC guy...)

Tonight calls for a little music, a little coffee, and more cleaning! So, while I'd rather stay on and play, I suppose I'll go do something productive. The boys requested oats for breakfast, and chai tea. So at least there's nominal prep work for the morning. I love that they can formulate menus they enjoy, and that the foods are mostly identifiable and provably edible. This is one of those things I've come to appreciate on a deep level.

Kiss those babies!

(Yes, I know "chai" means "tea". When they change the sign in Arizona that points to "Table Mesa Road", then I'll care. Until then, the box says "chai tea" and that what we're calling it.)

We Made It

Or, to be a bit more specific, We Very Nearly Made It. We got up, dressed, fed (albeit lightly - smoothies, fruit and toast make for a lousy breakfast - we would die off, and be quite grouchy about it in the process, if we were forced to become vegetarians!) and out the door in time to make it to Sunday School. The Very Nearly part comes in because, technically, the boys' classes were doing their Opening Ceremonies thing when we arrived. BUT, they had not gone to their 'age appropriate' holding pens yet, and so, that totally counts! SCORE!

About three minutes into class, Smidge announced (to everyone in the room) that he had to pee. Now. Let's go! We shuffled off to the nursery (aka - nearest facility - I know better than to try to make it down the gauntlet, uh, hallway festooned with classroom art.) I handed Miss Emily off to Sweet Tiffany, who works in the nursery on Sundays, and bolted to the facility just in time to prevent Smidge from starting a streaking career. Dancing, high-fives and general happiness ensued.

As we washed our hands, Smidge spied a toy he wanted to play with. Um... well, yes, you can play with that, but you'll need to play with it in here. We can't take it out of the room. "OK, Mama. You go. I'll play." As this strange alien changeling took the toy and plopped down on the floor to play, Tiffany, Nice Mrs. B, and I stared after him as if none of us knew who this kid was or how he got in. Wow, that's new! I did a quick head count: three adults, and only three children. "Um, would it be okay if Miss Emily stayed for Sunday School, too?" :-) I slipped out, kept my ears perked (our class meets in the room adjoining the nursery), and enjoyed the study tremendously. The pace of the class seems much slower when one isn't also tending to two children.

When the boys and I retrieved Smidge, Miss Emily was sound asleep. I think Tiffany is the one person in the nursery I'm comfortable leaving the children with, which had a lot to do with the next step I took. However, there was also the decadent thought of sitting through the service with only three children... it was like the siren's song and there was nobody to lash me to the mast! We ran for it, enjoyed snack and fellowship and then the four of us slipped quietly into the sanctuary. The service was wonderful. It was good to be able to spend time instructing the boys on the liturgy, the order of worship, and the whole point of the service. Miss Emily was up and happy when the service ended, so there wasn't any residual guilt stuck to me as we left the building.

The rest of the day was laundry, cleaning, laundry, and a nap that I tried very hard not to take.

Smidge ate the cheese off his chili at supper, then turned his nose up at the rest of it, so we got ready for bed before the boys and were able to spend extra time reading Smidge-Speed books. We took our time finding all the buildings in Geoppolis. We talked about moles and tugboats with Scuffy. We looked at spiders. But mostly, we cuddled. We smiled. We shared eskimo kisses and head 'nuggles. By the time the boys were ready for a story, Smidge was out cold, his little heart all tanked up and happy.

We are revisiting The Borrowers. I was pregnant last time we tried, and although I loved the book when I was a child, it pretty much knocked me out last fall when I tried reading it to the boys. Two chapters in, though, and I think we're going to make it!

James just finished Owls in the Family and asked for more books by Mowat. He's collected quite a list of authors he'd like to read more of this summer. I suppose it's time to go pay the late fees we owe the Madison County library.

John got a little extra attention and grace this weekend, which seems to be exactly what he was needing. Rather than being a BIG BROTHER, at the moment he's feeling quite mired in MIDDLE CHILD SYNDROME. It's rough to be standing in this chaos we've built, let alone standing in it with one foot in the "young man" realm and the other foot still dragging heavily in the "little guy" realm. We spent some time reassurring him - through actions moreso than words - that it's okay to be in the places inbetween. You don't have to heave yourself up onto the next step of the ladder in one bound. We love you, and we've got your back. I think we all need that reassurrance once in a while, but we don't always know how to go about asking for it.

And Miss Emily has a new nickname: Girlzilla. The boys made it up. She's discovered the joy of knocking down towers. Or, rather, I suspect she's discovered the joy of making her brothers laugh. That they build things for her to knock down is simply a handy avenue through which she can achieve that goal. They'll build something just within her reach, then stand back and watch with anticipation. She'll knock it down, then immediately look at them and raise her eyebrows expectantly. They'll roll with laughter, and she'll squeal and start chewing on some part of the structure until they gather the parts to do it again. What fun!

I'm going to put Girlzilla back to bed and get some rest, myself. Tomorrow will, hopefully, be a Very Busy Day!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, June 24

In The Summertime

Yes, I've had the Mungo Jerry song in my head all day long. Granted, that's kept a little lift in my footsteps (not to mention the workout my neck muscles have had from bobbing about all day), so I suppose it's not all bad, right? As an aside, I had no idea he's been so busy all these years! is wonderful. I can gauge just when to hang out the wash in order to have it dry before the rains come! Technology, both primitive and state-of-the-art, working together to bring us fresh garments. What a delight - and three loads down today!

The boys' windows are nearly finished. The purple one is done (just had to do the apron today). The yellow one is nearly done now - the trim, stoop and apron are now done with two coats. It needs just one more coat of Irish Mist on the bars and muntins. The yellow looks particularly bright and airy, but I've got to say the purple isn't bad, either. Certainly not what I'd have picked, but then, neither is the grey in our room. Go figure. It is a good thing we didn't find the circa early-1900's (or older) home we were hoping to find, as there is no way I'd feel good about slapping these garish colors on "good wood". These windows, however? A-okay, in my book. And it made the boys smile. How could I not love that?

We had rain today - glorious, cooling, cleansing rain. The boys wanted to run out and play in it, and my knee-jerk reaction was, "no." But why? Are we going somewhere? Is there a tornado heading for the yard? Am I concerned the creek will rise up and release crocodiles? No, on all counts. You know, I don't mind growing up, but I do have to guard against growing weary in my soul - so go, run, play, dance. As a matter of fact, I'll grab Miss Emily and we'll sit on the porch and watch. It was delightful. Miss Emily, Balto-dog and I sat on the porch and laughed along with the boys. The boys were muddied, exhausted, and drenched, but happy.

Four made-up games, three hours, two showers, and a bath later...

Zorak had prepared a delicious mystery concoction of potatoes, pork chops, onions and miscellaneous other things. The boys set the table. We ate and talked, played and tidied. Then we popped popcorn and enjoyed a family movie before story time. We were productive today on many fronts, but the most important front was time spent with the children. By the time everybody had been tucked in and kissed, Zorak and I looked at one another, smiled the smiles of the truly blessed, and said, "This is good. This is really good."

HVAC guy didn't come today. He said he'd tried to confirm yesterday and couldn't get through (we were home all day, though, and I had even paged him in the evening), so he'll be out Monday, at any rate. Lag time between setting equipment and fabricating the remaining parts looks to be about a week. Thankfully, next week promises to be about ten degrees cooler than the past week. Yay. However, then it looks like it's going back up. So my poor Mother-in-Law may have to tough it out for a day or two in the sweltering, marrow-melting heat. But, if she survives, just think how comfortable she'll be when we kick on that new unit! (She's so brave - she must really love us!)

The delay until Monday does buy us more time for duct repair (there was a lot of it!) and perhaps we can get more trim up and finish the closets in the War Room (aka - erstwhile master bedroom, temporary guest room, future Smidge/Miss Emily room. It's been a busy room.)

And tomorrow is another opportunity to make it to church on time! (We were late for our own wedding - and then late to the reception, as well. I don't know why it surprises me that this is a struggle now.) So, in honor of that, I have two minutes to get to bed before midnight and I'm going to jump on it!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, June 23

Ahh, sweet end of day

There is, perhaps, no softer, sweeter feeling than that of getting a few minutes one-on-one snuggle time with each child as you tuck them into bed. Somehow, that quiet time of touching base makes the whole unruly mess of the day recede into the background, making way for the hope of tomorrow, and the unending comfort of unconditional love. It goes both ways, and it is oh-so-good.

Had a busy day, but everything seemed to go wrong. Just plain wrong, from beginning to end. We went to the wrong park for playdate, and that's just the culminating fiasco in the whole getting-out-of-the-house saga that hallmarked this morning. This afternoon, we bought veggies and that was about it. Had more to purchase, but it wasn't going to happen today. Nope. I may have to start shopping online, although that will require a bit more proactivity on my part (ie. planning ahead).

While I'm thinking of it, I found two sites this week that I thought were worth noting. I've just left them up all week, because my bookmarks are a hideous mess and although I don't ever buy much online, I wanted to remember them. So, here ya go (then y'all can remind me that I blogged about them when I'm pondering their actual existence in a year, okay?)

Do It Yourself Pest Control. Saw this site recommended on the WTM boards, and blew two full nights checking it out. (Gee, I wonder why it caught my attention? *grin*) Not only is it informative, but the lady who recommended it said she's been quite happy with her business dealings thus far. Worth looking at!

Make Your Own Stamps. Zazzle is a site that I could easily get so lost in that it would take a full-blown rescue operation to help me find my way back again. Stuff you didn't know you needed, stuff you didn't realize was possible. This particular link looks particularly neat, and someday, when I actually mail out Christmas cards, I think it'd be nice to have specialized stamps made. These stamps are authorized postage for the USPS, so have fun!

Oh, oh, oh! Smidge is on DAY TWO of staying totally dry. Totally clean. Totally not eating good foods because of all the potty treats he has consumed. WAH-HOO!!!

Let's see, what else is there? Didn't do much on the house today. Well, *I* didn't. I just cleaned up my mess from yesterday's work. Zorak, however, got the main vent cleaned and about half the runs to the registers cleaned. That, after working a full day. He is my hero.

We had a nice, cool supper: grilled chicken, rice, applesauce, and cucumbers (sliced, then soaked in salt and vinegar/water, chilled - WONDERFUL on a hot summer evening!) I was going to serve iced water and iced tea, but somebody - probably a boy whose name begins with "J" - used all but five ice cubes from the freezer while giving the dog water tonight. So the dog has a mountain of deliciously cooled ice to nibble on this evening and we drank lukewarm tap water. That part wasn't so refreshing. But did I mention the cucumbers were nice?

Tomorrow, more windows, more trim. I'm sure reading about painting is about as much fun as watching it dry, so I'll try to think of something slightly more scintillating to write about. The HVAC Guy is coming, too, I think. I should see if he'll pose for a picture.

Whew, and I'm going to hit the hay before it's suddenly tomorrow already!

Kiss those babies!

More remodeling work

While we wait for the HVAC guy and the bush hog guy (the bush hog guy was supposed to come today, but the barn still looks more like Bag End than a full-size barn, so my money says he didn't show), we turn our attention the detail work that we have been avoiding... um, well, yeah, avoiding.

We've decided on the closet layout for what will be Smidge and Miss Emily's room. It has two tiny closets, one of which we made even smaller by building a chase in it to run the vent for the water heater up and out. Ah, okay... it doesn't look like a good idea, but it was. At least, it was the best we could do with what we have (what with those pesky codes and all). And we will continue telling ourselves that in ten years, when our youngest children lament their lack of closet space.

So, the littlest closet will get wire shelving, top to bottom. Won't that make it look mighty and useful? We hope so. The other small closet will get two rods with wire racks, but we'll splurge and get the rods with the swoopty things so the coat hangers can slide all the way across. I'm sure that will make a world of difference to the Small Ones.

I got the second coats of paint put on the *one* window in the boys' room. (The other one looks significantly worse now, although I didn't touch it, I swear!) And the tape is OFF. BEEYOUTEEFUL! Next, curtains, perhaps? Mmmm, normalcy... Also got the first and second (I think second, but I don't remember. We'll see in the morning, I guess) coats on the one (and only) window in the master bedroom.

The boys felt a bit neglected after their lessons were done, so they set to making themselves feel better. By yelling at one another. I guess this was an attempt to help me out, so I wouldn't have to do it, myself? I don't know, but by the time Zorak called to see if I needed him to pick up anything on his way home, I was trying to paint with one hand, the hot, sweaty, screaming baby cradled in the other hand, and all three boys were relegated to their beds (but not allowed to fall asleep - nooooo, not at five-thirty, you don't!) It was a lovely phone call, but he refused to bring me horse tranquilizers and rum. Pfft. What'd ya ask for, then?

He did set up the crib for Miss Emily, though, and she is now safely ensconsed in her own wooden cell. Safe from marauding two year olds. Shielded from the pull of gravity. And not sweating profusely against my torso. Life. Is. Good. (I'm all for co-sleeping, under the right conditions: neither parent is a drunk {well, since somebody didn't bring me rum tonight, check}; it doesn't interfere with the parents' private activities {by the time you have four, you've learned to get creative, so 'check'}; the home is somewhat climate controlled to prevent said co-sleeping arrangement from causing undue sweating - and sticking - and a fear that someone will mildew before morning {ehhh, no go on this one, hence the crib}.)

Tomorrow we have a playdate with one of the homeschooling support groups we'd signed up with ages ago. This is our second try with this group. They have a rule that says you must attend X number of functions within 60 days of joining or you get the boot. It's an attempt to keep the predators away, and I certainly appreciate that. It's just that... well, I'm bad about getting out of the house. And even less excited about getting out of the house to go sit at the park and glisten for two hours. Still, we've wanted for a while to go to something and meet some locals, and it won't always be this hot. Right? Right?!? (Quick, someone remind me that it's going to cool off eventually!!!) Thankfully, tomorrow's activity is swimming! I think we can hang with that.

Oh, and Zorak bought an air-mover. We set it up in the hallway and took turns standing directly in front of it. That was better than a weekend pass to Sea World!

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, June 22

Home Remodeling Tip #237

Paint the darned trim before the weather turns hot. Even if you're tired of painting trim. Even if you are burned out on paint, period. Even if you must do it hunched over like Quasimodo, with three children and a baby hanging off your dangly bits. Yes, do it. It's not going to get any easier before Halloween, so just get it over with.


Got the topcoat put on the bars and muntins of *one* of the boys' windows. Got most of the window trim painted purple (yeah, that was intentional). Have to wait to paint the stoop and the apron because they'll be yellow. No blue on the windows now, as we're moving all-things-blue to Smidge and Emily's room next month. (A pink and blue room - how cute, yet painfully cliche!)

Textured the linen closet. Will prime that tonight and paint it in the morning. Yay!

Went to Sears today and purchased THIS. It will be here July 5th. Can you feel the joy emanating from your monitor? I'll yell you, if my mother-in-law wasn't coming a few days before then, I'd probably put a moratorium on all things clothing related until then. *grin* I'll spare her the grim task of witnessing that, though, and at least try to keep up in the meantime.

Zorak has all the ventilation runs removed and ready to clean. That has been, to put it mildly, a disgusting venture. I'd rather do laundry!

And... I think I'm supposed to be cooking supper right now, but this is the first time that particular item has managed to wriggle its way to the forefront of my mind. Guess I'd better go figure that out!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, June 21

A Countdown

If you go back
1 college degree...

2 vehicles...

3 children...

4 states...

5 houses...

6 years...

You come to the day we got this little addition to our family:

Thankfully, he didn't spring from anyone's loins that size. We just didn't get a digital camera until he was about two. But he was just as cute when he started out, trust me!

Much like Titch's little seed, he grew and grew and grew. Our Wednesday hiking days became immensely more enjoyable once he acquiesced to carrying his own water...

He's been our anchor, reminding us that they're just little guys, that everybody needs extra hugs, that it's okay to be small. That everybody needs their comforting things kept near.

John is the one who can find beauty anywhere. He shares it readily, and heads out to find more.

He tends to play the straight man to his big brother's antics...

... but not always.

He "gets" the good stuff, like family -

both young,

and old (er - older!)

And while it doesn't come as a shock that our "JohnBaby" has grown into such a great young man,

and a wonderful big brother,

It's very touching to see just what a wonderful young man he has become.

Happy Birthday, My Sweet and Wonderful Boy! I love you, and am thankful Dad and I get to have you in our lives. You are truly a joy and a delight to our hearts!


Monday, June 19

On Having a Poop Blog

WHEN did my blog go from a homeschooling blog to a daily poop report? I am so, so sorry for that. In an effort to redeem myself from the incessant potty training updates, I'd like to share a little educational blogging for a bit. (Ok, one more update before I stop: WHY can a child stay 100% dry, 24/7, even waking dry from naps and bedtimes and STILL refuse to use the darned thing for solids?!? WHYYYYYYY?)

Alright, now for a little redemption. The other children are doing productive, educational things. Mainly without me, as I'm sequestered in the hallway, running herd on Smidge.

James is working his way through Gamma, namely because I make him. For fun, though, he is playing with fractions. Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. In his head. For fun. And he's not only accurate, but he's fast. I should be happy that my only role in his mathematical education at this point is to make certain he has the facts themselves down pat so that this will continue to be easy and fun for him. It does give me a little leeway with the hallway time. But we may have to hire a tutor named Heinrich to come and live with us in a few years. He's also *drum roll, please* SWIMMING! The last time we went, he put on a life jacket and took off swimming. He swam way the heck out there, where I'd have to find someone to catch the baby before I could divest myself of binding clothes in order to go rescue him if something should happen. Nothing happened, of course, but a mother's mind works overtime in the Alfred Hitchcock corridor while her mouth is shouting, "Way to GO! Look at you GO!! YAY!! YOU! ARE! AWESOME!"

John's writing is wonderful, and he is reading all the word problems in his math sets. He's also significantly more interested in Latin since we've picked it up again. It's clicking. This is the year of the click for him. Thank God, because he's turning six and six is not my best year for remaining calm and encouraging. Anyhow, we've been reviewing all the Prima Latina prayers this month. And he's good. He's having a lot of fun learning his things, his way. I didn't think he'd do so well with the "which subject would you like to do first" approach, but he does. And he picks math first, then Latin, and then - who'd have guessed, Bible. He's also showing a concerted interest in drawing. Perhaps it's time to invest in some quality materials and start working toward offering him something a little more meaty in that area? Nothing replaces the fun, self-directed delight of free time, but sometimes it's nice to have a few more tools in the mental toolbox.

The board games are getting a workout. As is my inner dialogue, which goes something like this:
"This time is short-lived. This time will pass SO quickly. Oh, kill me now, it's Connect Four! This time is short-lived and precious."
Chess is turning out to be quite fun, though, and it's something the older two boys and I enjoy tremendously. Sadly, chess is Smidge's new "Seek and Destroy" mission - it seems to have replaced read-alouds in his "this causes me pain and so I must prevent its mere presence in our home" approach to life. So we only play while he's napping. There are many sheets of paper lying about the house with mid-game schematics drawn hurriedly on them. (The boys start sketching while I lure Smidge back down the hall to the bathroom. It's not a potty thing, it's just a stalling tactic so they can get the notes down.)

We are about 2/3 done with Huckleberry Finn - we're enjoying it, but the slow pace of the dialogue pretty much puts us all to sleep mid-afternoon. One chapter at a time is a painful way to read through Mark Twain, and I don't think we'll revisit any of his work until the boys are a bit older. Perhaps as a read-aside, where we each read the book at a set pace and discuss it, rather than as a read-aloud? Is that cowardly of me? I hope not, but if so, I'm good with that. Suggestions for what to read next? Some good, meaty, delightful summer read-alouds would be most appreciated!

I'm reading The Cat of Bubastes, by Henty; Godless by Coulter; Moby Dick by somebody who abridged it (it was in the basement and I was desperate); Pilgrim's Progress (this caused the desperation that sent me into the basement for Melville's abridged story); The Power of a Praying Parent by O'Martian (re-read, never hurts to get a refresher); and working on my own independent math studies (why, oh why, doesn't Steve write a Calculus book?). In all, not a bad line-up. I do wish I had a little more brain candy on the nightstand at the moment, but it just doesn't seem to be the season for that.

And Miss Emily is doing a one-armed Army crawl now! She'd probably make better headway if the comforter cover offered more traction instead of bunching up beneath her, but that doesn't seem to be a deterrent. She decides to go somewhere (generally to get something) and she is off - like a very determined, single-minded herd of turtles. Just imagine what she will do when we have flooring we can actually set her down on! Wow, the world is hers to conquer!

But now, it's time to tend to the home and the hubby and the things that need tending before turning in. Kiss those babies!


On Doing Physical Labor in 94 degree heat with no a/c

See "On Cleaning Plywood Floors".

On Cleaning Plywood Floors


Just. Don't.

Gram's Through The Operation!!


Aunt B called not too long ago to let us know that Gram is out of surgery. It took a little longer than expected, but they expect her to be just fine. She'll be in recovery for a bit and then on up to a room - a regular room, rather than ICU, which is encouraging.

Thank you.


Sunday, June 18

Almost made it!

Cold cereal for breakfast, baths on Saturday night, clothes hung bedside and ready to go - the little things that can help get you to church on time, without taking the Lord's name in vain on the way. The morning went smoothly, and we nearly made it out of the house on time. However, Smidge decided to keep his streak going just as we buckled him into the carseat, so back into the house for yet another round of: Where do we poop? In the potty! Yes, that's right! So... what's up, then? And then, since we didn't go anywhere Saturday, I forgot to put gas in the Suburban on Saturday. Ah, yes, that would help, wouldn't it? So we had to stop on the way in. We missed Sunday School, but made it for church, and I'm so glad we did!

We had a guest speaker for the sermon - a guy who is 1 1/2 years into seminary. His name is Jonathan Kuiper, and he's the son of Bernhard Kuiper, author of When Bad Things Happen To Good Prophecies. He goes a bit against the PCA grain, in that he's an eloquent, humorous and witty public speaker. Nothing against the pastors of our church, and we've actually got two phenomenal pastors here at this one. We've just found that a style of engaging public speaking doesn't seem to be the "norm" in this denomination, and it's stunningly refreshing when we stumble upon a pastor who has that skill! (Yep, parishioners dig pastors with SKILLS!) Anyhow, back to the subject at hand - we enjoyed the sermon tremendously. There was also a baptism - one of our pastors had the honor of baptizing his eighth grandchild today. That was so nice, and heightened our anticipation of getting the paperwork finished and the Inquisition held so that we can have Miss Emily baptized.

Zorak wanted sushi, so it was off for lunch after church. Swung by the Crunchy Market for more bread (and wf ginger snaps!) Then, to a movie. We saw Cars, and it was much better than we anticipated. Yes, it did have a clear Doc Hollywood echo to it, but without all the angry anti-hunter nonsense, which made it doubly enjoyable for us. In spite of its G rating, there was still a little unnecessary innuendo, but I guess the folks in Hollywood (even at Pixar) don't know how to move a plot without a love interest, and cannot for the life of them figure out how to have a love interest without a little blue humor. That's sad for them, really, as the biggest grown-up laughs in the audience came, not from the bawdy humor, but from the references that were simply geared to our era. In all, though, it was worth coughing up a kidney to take the entire family to a movie. And not a bad way to get out of the heat.

Some friends are in town this week, and we hope to see them while they're here. We worked on the house a bit more this evening, watched Robots again (what was I saying about unnecessary innuendo? Yes, I know.) and read. We enjoyed a late-night snack with Smidge and James. (James and Zorak ate sardines. Smidge and I sat far, far away and ate crackers and cheese.)

I'm feeling more energized about the house, now that it's more organized. We'll see how the new plan holds up to daily lessons, experiments, and general living! ;-)

Gram heads in tomorrow for her surgery. Please keep her in your prayers. I talked to her today, and aside from not being terribly thrilled with the pre-surgery diet, she's in good spirits and looks forward to getting better soon.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, June 17

We Have No Tails!

We worked 'em off today!

Zorak got the new vent for the HVAC cut into the bathroom floor. We wrestled for quite a while with the exact placement of it. Not too close to the toilet, as it'll get peed in. Not too close to the sink, as that'll guarantee the register fins get stomped on, after water is poured down the hole. And NOT, as the Genius who built the place decided, between the tub and the toilet. (WHAT was he thinking?!?) We measured, estimated, gauged, wrangled, and finally decided on "the sweet spot": far enough from the sink not to be in the way, far enough from the toilet to avoid incoming trajectory. Zorak was just finishing the detail work around the new hole when John came in and... still managed to hit the darned thing. GAH!! What IS it with these boys? It's not a "guy thing" - they just aren't even trying! Do I need to get some kind of singing, blinking apparatus that will go off and shower the child in sparkly confetti and chocolate if the stream doesn't veer onto (or past) the rim? Would that work? Anyway, the register is now in.

Zorak took the ductwork apart to clean, but has decided to ask Aweseom HVAC Guy about getting a professional to do it. They've been sitting, unused, for an awfully long time, and while the ductwork itself is in good condition, it was exposed to The Cricket Queen and her Court for a very long time. And the mice. And the mold/mildew/other growing stuff. And what have you. Yuck. This is yet another learning curve for us - ventilation maintenance, cleaning, and repair - and we'd just rather not blow all that stuff up into each room if we can help it. So, if it turns out a professional guy has some cleaning stuff we aren't privvy to, then it'll be worth it to pay him to do it.

While Zorak battled the few things left to do before Awesome HVAC Guy comes to set the equipment and take fabrication measurements, I tried very hard to tame the savage beast that is the aftermath of the closet room foray. Winter clothes, art supplies, two years' worth of toilet paper (we forgot we already had some in there, so we bought more and... threw it in there). It's a veritable rainbow of crap, and it's been squatting in the hallway, the bathroom, and our room all week. That's the kind of stuff that'll make a gal twitchy in a hurry!

The two boxes of Very Cool Clothing that I inherited while on vacation have now been absorbed into the nooks and crannies of our bedroom. Zorak's missing summer clothes re-emerged today, as well. (They were in the box of extra coat hangers, and dresses-I-can't-wear-while-nursing - why didn't I think to look in there earlier? *D'oh!*)

The bathroom, which suffered a direct hit when I engaged the closet room last week, has been excavated and is now back to its previous pristine and comfortable status. James walked in as I was putting on the finishing touches (ie. wiping down the toilet again) and said, "Oh, wow! I'd forgotten how pretty our bathroom is!" Yeah, me, too. It also feels considerably larger, now, what with the boxes and the packs of supplies and the random miscellaneous stuff culled, sorted, and dealt with. (Three children worth of superfluous homebirth supplies makes for a rather doom 'n gloom box of emergency supplies when all piled together. But I'm keeping them until hell freezes over, just in case.)

Oh! The dining room has curtains! We've had the curtains for a while, but didn't have a rod. Zorak picked up a rod the other day, and we hung it tonight. Oh, it looks so pretty. The change does make the dining table a bit more glaringly ugly, mmm, rustic, but that's okay. Once we refinish that, it'll be perfect. And in the meantime, the difference is stunning!

The boys have been on High Critter Alert this week, and boy have they earned their stripes! Yesterday, while I was putting Miss Emily down for a nap, Smidge stood at the foot of my bed and said, "Oh. Bug, ma. Bug." He was so calm and matter-of-fact about it that I figured it was a moth or a beetle. So I asked James to please kill it for me, since I couldn't get up just yet. He ran out of the room, returned with his bug catcher, and shortly presented me with - a wasp! DANG! Then today there was what I took for an earthworm in the hallway. I asked the boys if they wanted to look at it, and they arrived, bug catcher in hand, to apprehend what turned out to be a worm... with a whole lotta legs! Yes, it was a millipede. Lovely. They found an inch worm in the back yard and had a delightful time watching it, too. I'm glad they are so enthralled by nature, but did have to give a quick briefing on what to touch and what not to touch - and that if Mom has asked you to get something, but it looks like it might bite/sting/follow you home and eat you, double check before doing anything. Mom may not have been paying attention enough. *cringe* (And I quietly made a note to myself to pay more attention. *sigh*)

Everyone's been scrubbed and shined, clothes laid out for tomorrow. We were going to let Zorak sleep in for Father's Day - but there's that whole church thing. It's not like we can go to Sunday School, then come back to get him for church. The boys love having him there, so he said he'd go (yet another reason we celebrate him year-round!) and then in the afternoon, we're off to see Cars! (That was what the boys wanted to do for him - sounds like a win-win, doesn't it?) The only part of the puzzle that's missing is me getting some sleep! So, I'm off to kiss my babies and drift off to dreamland. Have a delightful day, whatever you do!


Friday, June 16

I like disgusting things!

That was the comment from my 7 year-old today as we left the ENT's office. As soon as it came out of his mouth, we both cracked up. He meant to say, "I like discussing things!" It just didn't quite come out that way. We giggled all the way to the car, and I have no idea what the folks in the office thought. It doesn't matter. We were enjoying one another.

The ENT visit went well. Miss Emily's ear canals are a bit twisty and curvy, but her hearing is A-OK. James was fascinated by all the audiology equipment. The audiologist was splendidly patient with his questions. Before we left, one of the assistants even showed him a CT scan of a sinus cavity. Talk about cool, eh? The ENT was also very cool, and handled James' scientific enthusiasm quite well. Even made a point to ask James to tell him when the time machine is ready for use. (James is convinced he can build one that will actually work.) Too sweet.

We picked up a few gifts for John's birthday. James and I had a blast at the toy store. We were like, well, like a couple of kids. There is some incredibly neat stuff available! The lady at the counter gave James a set of sample POGs before we left. *sigh* I do wish I knew more about them beforehand. The game itself is actually kinda fun, and we played a bit together this afternoon. It's the characters' names, and the images on the POGs themselves that make me a bit skeptical. I'll go searching for information tonight and come up with a final verdict.

Miss Emily waited patiently through the doctor's visit, the toy store. She Wal-Mart fairly well, and was a trooper at the Steak 'n Shake drive-thru (How could we pass up a milkshake on a day like today?) But when we stopped to pick up a movie for a family movie night, she decided she'd had enough of this junk. Can't blame her. I forgot that her little dress had a bow in the back and that couldn't have been comfortable on her, while she was in the carseat most of the day. Oops. Back to slip on britches and a t-shirt for that little girl! (I like her sense of style vs. comfort already - that's my girl!)

Zorak had taken the middle two down to the park this morning, then to the post office. They came home and hung out under the ceiling fans. When James, Miss Emily and I arrived home, he had lunch waiting for us (oh, so pampered! What joy!) - then he and Smidge napped for a bit, while the rest of us played games and chatted. As a side note, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the day with James - it was such fun to have both ears to lend him and have the energy to keep up with and absorb him. He's a funny, sweet, quirky, neat kid. But, I also missed having John and Smidge around during the day. It's interesting to see how each child contributes so much to the tapestry of daily living. This is what folks mean by "rich" - my life is incredibly rich.

ANYway, once everyone was up, we gave John an early birthday present. He's been begging to watch Pirates of the Carribean for, oh, at least two years now. This month, he asked if six would be "old enough to watch it". You could feel the yearning as it radiated from his big brown eyes. So today was the day. Big fanfare - popcorn, lollipops, and the clickers at hand (just in case - it's been a while since Zorak and I saw it, and our retention isn't 100%, as evidenced by the whole Temple of Doom fiasco). We paused the movie a few times to discuss it and answer questions. Our concerns over the whole "undead" thing seem to have been fairly unfounded - Smidge played in the kitchen most of the time, and the older two just thought the movie was a wild ride, from beginning to end.

Now everyone has been loved on and snuggled, tucked safely into bed. I'm going to go try to muscle in on some of the floor fan action in the living room and see if anything's on the TV (all two channels that we get, ha!) This is Father's Day weekend - do y'all have any plans? I should see if I can get Zorak to guest blog for it, since I don't have any real words of wisdom to share on this Hallmark Holiday.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, June 15

Blew My One Cool Outift

Miss Emily had a newborn (infant, whatever) hearing exam today at ten. I woke the boys early, and we ran to the store to get whipping cream (forgot to ask Zorak to bring some when he came home yesterday - not an auspicious beginning to the day). We came back, threw bread pudding in the oven, got everybody showered, dressed, fed, and out the door in semi-record time. We arrived five minutes early to our appointment - high fives all around! WE ROCK!

The boys filed into the chairs while I signed us in, gave insurance information, and signed the Declaration of, er, some large stack of paperwork.

Then we sat. And sat. And sat.

FORTY-FIVE MINUTES later, the receptionist called Miss Emily to the front to tell us they have our appointment down for *tomorrow*, not today. At ten. I have the paperwork from the referring office that says it was, in fact, for today, but since the main ENT is the one we're supposed to see, and he is in surgery today, it was a moot point. Somebody goofed, no biggie, really.

"But," said the chipper receptionist, "we have all the paperwork done and can just come right on in tomorrow!"

Um... Yay?

And how does the outfit come into this? Well, I have only one outfit that says,
"I am a totally together woman who showers daily, accessorizes, and manages all of this - renovating, homeschooling, parenting, and wifely duties - quite well, thank you."
ONE. I wear it to official appearances, such as doctor's visits and things at Zorak's workplace, in order to counterbalance the things the boys may add to discussions. (see yesterday's post)

I wear it because it's the one I want to be seen in if I must appear on the evening news in less-than-flattering coverage. (Much better than being photographed in Zorak's clothes and my militant boots... or worse yet, sweats and no bra with large leaky splotches on the paint-slathered t-shirt.) And now, they've seen it already! And it's not like the appointment was rescheduled for next week, when it could just be coincidence that I arrive in the same outfit. ARGH.

To make matters worse, this doctor is married to one of the wonderful ladies I've met here recently. They also homeschool, which is a huge plus. But she's really together. She's not "from here", but she can totally pull of that Metropolitan Southern Belle thing with wonderful flair. AND she has four children. It's not like she set the bar low, so us mere mortals can hurdle it. Gah!

I even bathed the baby today! She didn't smell of soured milk (which, in this heat and humidity, it sours pretty quickly, so hush). She was all pink and had a clean neck! And now I'm going to have to do this all over again? Pffttt.

At least if I bathe her again, maybe she'll be so stunningly cute that nobody will notice the stained t-shirt or the men's size designation on my jeans tomorrow?

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, June 14

Kinda Quiet

Well, after the hullabaloo last night, today was rather uneventful. Nice, really. Since I got more sleep in one night than I normally do in a week, I was up 'n at 'em early this morning, and that momentum just carried through the day. The kitchen received a stuff-overhaul (we SO need to get that pantry ordered!) The dining room got cleared out. The living room got a good scouring. We had a nice, hot breakfast, enjoyed our lessons, played a little chess, played outside, and just enjoyed one another's company.

The big event today: we all followed Smidge to the bathroom every few minutes to cheer him on. I'm pretty sure that James would be perfectly happy to go the whole day tomorrow without having to come look at urine. Yes, pretty sure. Yet he'll come, and he'll high-five, and he'll give big hugs. Why? Because he's a cool kid. Even when we interrupt his precious reading time, he manages to muster a smile before he hits the bathroom door. I owe that kid, big time! Smidge was dry all day, save for one accident early on - for some reason, he refuses to believe you can put solids in the little potty - go figure. But otherwise, dry all day, even after naptime! YAY SMIDGE! Naturally, there is a high-fructose corn syrup-based incentive going on. He may end up diabetic, but by golly, he'll be wearing big-boy pants when he gives himself those injections!

Tonight, Zorak laid the cement blocks down where the HVAC was, and will be once again. This time, however, the hole will resemble - or at least hit an order of magnitude of - the unit that goes through the hole. What a concept! Lookin' good down there, too. He's made a lot of strides in the basement. He used all the extraneous lumber to build shelving - it's not "pretty", but it's wonderfully stable and fully functional. It is amazing how much stuff one rack can absorb!

John is reading everything he can get his hands on. Yet, if you ask him if he can read, he says, "No." WHAT?!? Ok, whatever works for ya, kiddo. However, when you put each child's idiosyncracies together, it gets awkward in public. James tells people "We don't go to school." (Yes, period - not "we homeschool", not "we're educated at home", heck, not even a nod toward education with "we study a lot on our own". Nope, he's gone back to saying simply, "we don't go to school".) John follows up with, "and I can't read" and that's about when Smidge starts laughing and yells, "I FARTED!" No wonder the best days are the days we stay home, no?

But it was good. Miss Emily rolled all over the boys' room today while I read aloud, Smidge ran trains over my head, and the older two played chess. We had a great discussion about moving at your own pace, being able to master any task they take on, and having the ability to enjoy branching out as we encounter things they will enjoy. When we finished the read-aloud, they both took their math books back out and did a second page for the day.

I'd requested a catalog from Greek 'n Stuff so that I could talk with Zorak about ordering "Hey Andrew..." for this summer. I shouldn't have looked. Can anybody compare Latin for Children with Latin's Not So Tough? Pretty please? I'd sold myself on LfC, particularly for James. But this looks like fun. (Truth be told, I want to take it and avoid Henle, but I won't. Whatever I order will be for the boys, and I will be a grown up about it and get my own program.) In the meantime, we're plugging along with PL review and enjoying the process itself.

And I hear the baby girl, so it's time to call it a night.

Kiss those babies!

Aaaaand.... she's OUT!

Cold, that is. By nine o'clock last night.

I only wish it was a pleasant evening that included a cooling bath, a foot rub, a few chapters in Heart of Darkness, and some maybe a little teacher in-service. But, no.

It was a migraine. So, my early evening included grilling kabobs outside, having a whomper of a time trying to narrow my vision enough to actually grasp the kabobs with the tongs. (The dog was hoping against hope that I'd fail.) An evening of moving very s-l-o-w-l-y in the hope that nobody would spot me and rip my brains apart by actually speaking to me. Especially not the small one with his nasally little, "Maaa! MaaAAA!" (Where did he get that accent? Ugh.)

I nearly exploded as I pureed the tomatillo soup. Rather than deal with the hubbub of having the boys set the table, I set it myself in *relative* quiet, called everyone to come eat, then grabbed the baby and headed for the cool darkness of our room to nurse and pray for death. Death did not come (retrospectively, I'm glad for that), but I did, at one point, leave a confused and screaming infant when I bolted from the bed and dashed to the bathroom to sacrifice to the gods for a while. I would rather puke from illness than from pain, any day. That is truly miserable.

Zorak is appreciated regularly around here, but last night the man earned his service stripes. He rescued the abandoned infant, coordinated the eating-o-the-supper, navigated the bedtime routine, and kept the general noise level to a dull roar while I laid in bed, doing my best impression of a demonic possession. It's nice to know somebody is reassurring the children that Mommy will be fine, when Mommy just can't muster that much strength. He even put Miss Emily down for the evening. God bless him.

This morning, life is beautiful. Much of that has to do with the fact that it's back in focus, less jarring, and more navigable, I'm sure. If we had plans to go anywhere, they've been scrapped - Zorak noticed on his way to work this morning that I'd left the door wide open on the Suburban yesterday afternoon when we got home. (In my defense, the headache had started on the drive home, three of four children were asleep as we pulled in, and there were the groceries to unload - I was a little distracted. *sheepish grin*) So I think we'll hang out, read books, maybe mow a little more grass (that lawn is the landscape equivalent of an all-day sucker!) and play ball. Sort of an impromptu day, but not so bad. If it doesn't get too hot, we'll try doing lessons on the picnic table out back.

And I need another cup of coffee!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, June 12

Well, it *looked* hot...

It got pretty warm this morning, so I closed up the windows in an attempt to keep the house relatively cool. It got so hot inside that the playdoh lost its structural integrity. It was playgruel. That's just gross. The dog had food and water, two loads of wash had already been hung, so we didn't venture outside at all. We just lingered on flat surfaces and wilted.

Then Zorak came home. And the breeze that followed him in was *~*~*heavenly*~*~*. What the--? When did it get so nice outside? I bolted out the door and sure enough, the air was cool and breezy. Well, you don't have to tell me twice! I switched out the wash, threw open the windows and stuck fans in most of them, then interrupted a rather intense game of MouseTrap to inform the boys that it is beautiful outside and I don't know when this will happen again, so go, go, GO! We then we spent the evening on the porch. That was really weird. But I'm thankful for the reprieve.

Tomorrow, we're ditching lessons to go run errands and play with friends. The boys did math, Latin, and reading on Saturday and Sunday this past week, in addition to our regularly scheduled work week, so we can afford to call a spare. What a great option that is to have!

Hey, does anybody know where one can still purchase training underpants? They are cut like regular little kid undies, but are thicker and more absorbent. (So the mess clings to the clothing, which is a far sight better than trailing it about the house.) I tried three different Wal-Marts and one Target, but they only carry regular undies in Very Small Sizes and those Pull-Ups. I bought the Pull-Ups, but they're a tad too absorbent to really engage the give-a-sh*t gear in a toddler.

Wow, and the dog has figured out how to open the front door if it's not deadbolted. (He just let himself in.) That would explain a lot... We also need to reinforce our fencing. He's found the neighbors, and the neighbors are not happy. I wouldn't be, either, if a 50-pound, snarling, ridgebacked moose came traipsing onto my property. So, that's a priority to be added to the top of the list. Lovely way to meet the neighbors. We should have invited them over before now, but they're related to the people who built the place and... yeah, it's just awkward all the way around. Maybe after we've had the place bush-hogged again and we've fixed the fencing, we'll slip over and invite them for coffee and a look at Balto's rabies tag?

OK, well, I am going to try to get a couple of hours of sleep without Miss Emily's company (she is wrecking havoc on my neck, and I can't move my head far at all - I look like I'm recovering from a particularly rough bout of spinal meningitis at the moment).

Kiss those babies!

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...


Of course, at the moment, I'm singing the Billy Crystal version, not the original. Weee-dawgies, am I sore! However, it's the excruciating pain of accomplishment, and so I will only whimper mildly and promise not to use swear words.

The Closet Room is now just about empty and ready for finishing. Who knew we had so much crap er, treasured material? That room had become the pat answer to the age old question, "Hey, what do you want me to do with this *insert random homeless item*?" From what I found today, it seems the answer is, "Just put it in the closet room and we'll figure it out later." Ah, well, who knew "later" meant "June 11th"? Now you know. And if you've been putting anything off until later, well, you missed it. And now you're behind the curve, so you'd best get on it, okay? Okay.

Did the thorough once-over on the boys' room: reorganized the bookshelf, culled the clothing, sorted/culled the toys, vacuumed, rearranged the closet, boxed and unboxed a number of boxy-like things, cleaned the ceiling fan. It looks much better now, and is just about ready for pictures. We're going to have to move Smidge and Miss Emily out of there soon, though - that poor room can't quite handle all the things and energy of three and a half children.

Zorak worked in the basement, worked on the icon shelf, changed the oil in the pick up, and hung the bow rack. Busy man, he. The soon-to-be-linen-closet is now sheetrocked and taped. The mud is drying and he'll put the second coat on tomorrow after work. It already looks scads better. I can't wait til we can put our linens in there and get them out of the hallway, the bathroom counter, the dresser tops. Yeah. That'll be nice.

Oh, and I'm SO excited! Zorak said he'd take the children for a few hours sometime before the HVAC guy comes back to set the units so that I can CLEAN! Yippee! I love teaching the boys how to do the daily things, but I must admit it's a quirky little thrill for me to clean when there are no children helping, no hubby meandering about, no toddlers coming in behind me to undo the work I've just done. And if I work quickly, I can usually get in half an hour to sit in a clean, quiet home with a good book and just enjoy looking up every couple of pages at the beautiful space around me. That's better than therapy and alcohol! *happy sigh* I love that man.

Today was really. stinking. hot. Thankfully, we did have water. Good stuff, all around. I brought out all of the family games we've purchased over the years (and spent good time and energy avoiding). But now, they're out. They are accessible. Smidge went nuts and I just melted when he asked, "Mama, play game with you?" So James, Smidge and I played a few games of dominoes before supper. Smidge "helped". James was very patient. John played a dinosaur memory game. He and Smidge built domino designs to knock down. It was, aside from the sweat pouring off our chins, quite idyllic. The chess set James got for his birthday last year was in the unearthed box, so it came out, as well. We'll add that to our afternoon relaxation time and see if we can develop any skill.

Zorak and I stood in the basement tonight, looking at all that still needs to be done and he said, "See that drain pipe over there? That's where we started." And I knew exactly what he meant. There is much still to be done, but it's nothing compared to what we have done already, and it's a good, good feeling. Standing arm-in-arm in a damp, disheveled basement, staring at pipes may not be everybody's idea of romance, but it did the trick this afternoon. How could I not be totally in love with a man who would do all this for his family?

And on that note, I am going to take a much-needed shower, check on the babies, and hit the hay. Have a splendid week!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, June 11

The Kids Must Think We Hate Them

Here's what the day looked like, from their perspective:

Hey, kids! It's Saturday and Mom and Dad are unconscious! How long can you go without eating actual food?

And then, once they'd been fed and dressed;

You know what, kids? It's over 100 degrees today! Let's go from hot, un-air-conditioned antique shop to hot, un-air-conditioned antique shop... for hours!

Not that things looked any more promising at home...

The monster in the basement has taken Daddy! You won't see him today! That swearing and crying? No, no, he'll be fine... just fine...

We returned from the shopping trip without a dresser for Miss Emily, who is going to think we don't like her if, when she's old enough to remember this, she is still getting her clothes out of the boxes they were shipped in.

Well, now that you are thoroughly sweaty and probably dehydrated, why don't you go play in the dirt for a bit before supper? Yeah, that sounds like fun, doesn't it? Hup, hup, it's not getting any cooler out there!

You can wash your hands when you get --- Oh, no, strike that! We don't have any water. Ha ha. Silly children! No crying, now, go play while Mommy prepares something unidentifiable for supper.

**later, at supper**

Yes, it's cold. It's a salady... thing. Isn't it lovely to eat a cold supper on a hot, hot day? What do you care what's in it? It has protein. And it's probably good for you. No, we still don't have any water. Yes, that is something we take for granted, isn't it? No, you can't drink from the toilet. That's for company and emergencies, Honey.

Zorak and I were up late Friday night, working on the house. We're getting old and have developed a partial paralysis that kicks in shortly after the sun comes up. It's exacerbated by late night exertion. The kids held out pretty well on the food. I do believe they grazed from the counter, although there wasn't anything edible left out on the counter...

I did give them the pre-emptory antique-shop warning before venturing forth on the shopping trip. They did phenomenally well, actually, and received goodies, hugs, and plenty of compliments from all the shop owners. Well, all but that one that hates children, no matter how well behaved and polite they are. I think the boys decided the shops were worth it just to sit in the air-conditioned Suburban between stops.

While I ran the boys through the gauntlet, Zorak moved the water heater. He re-configured the pipes, and made a new manifold (the plastic PEX manifolds we purchased in December have not held up well to the ever-changing ecosystem of the basement, and for some reason unknown to all but the corporate moles who've bought stock in the company in order to force a hostile takeover in the future, Zurn refuses to make their brass manifolds available for purchase - so, fine, we'll just make some, then! Thhhbbttttt!!!)

This probably wouldn't have been much of an inconvenience (relatively speaking - he had it worse than we did, I'm sure) if he'd started before noon. But when you don't start major reconfiguring until noon, then there is no water for... drinking, cooking, bathing, merely washing your hands... until, oh, around midnight. And that can be a little rough when you have children, and it's in the triple digits both inside and outside the house.

Miss Emily probably had it the hardest. She was hot and miserable all day. And, being miserable, she relied heavily on her instinct that tells her being held will make her feel better. We call that *painful irony*. Sometimes instinct misses the mark by a hair or two, doesn't it?

So it was a long day for everyone involved. But, in the end, we are that much closer to having a/c, the children did comment on how much we take for granted (like cold water, specifically), how much they appreciate all we have (again with the cold water), nobody got lost... or ran off. We'll have a nice, long drive in the cool air of the vehicle tomorrow. After everyone's been bathed and fed, of course.


Some days it's all you can do to say, "Yay, it's over! We made it!" this was one of those days. I think I'll go whisper positive things in the children's ears before I head to bed.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, June 10


Gram: Things look as well as we could have hoped! YAY! She'll go home tomorrow, then go back for surgery on Wednesday. She's full of wit, and sick of being there, so I know being home for a few days will be so very much better for her body and spirits. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Home: The Icon Closet has found a new identity (think super heroes) - it's going to be Linen Closet! It may seem a strange transformation, but if Coat Closet can become Utility Room, then this should be a snap. It does mean there will be no bejeweled Buddha squatting at the door to greet visitors, but at least we won't have towels and wash cloths stacked on the counter in the bathroom. HVAC progress is being made. WAH-HOO. Zorak bought one of those return registers for the main system - it's stunning what a difference that makes when placed over the gaping Omen Hole at the end of the hall. It was waiting to swallow Smidge one day, we just know it, and now we don't have to keep myriad things stacked against it as a barrier. Funny how something can go from frightening to walk past to not only intentional but somewhat decorative with just a little do-dad.

School: We lost James' math book today. Could not find it, although we looked and looked. We eventually gave up and he broke out another math book just so he'd have something to do. Well, I found it tonight while fixing supper. It was right there, next to the frozen broccoli... When I told him I'd found his book, and where, he said, "OH! Of course!" ??? Turns out he'd spilled something on it yesterday and put it in the freezer for safe keeping until we could tend to it. He'd seen me do that with books I've left on the porch during monsoons...

Everything else is going well. John's confidence in his reading skills is blossoming. Both boys are doing so well with lessons, and they seem to enjoy all they are capable of doing. Success is a tasty reward when it's earned through hard work and initiative. (That's a lesson I hope they carry with them for life - if they learn nothing else this year, they've learned that. This is good stuff.)

Poems: The boys love poetry. Nobody's told them it's drugery, and so they devour it with gusto and savor every morsel. Tonight we revisited one of our favorites: Now We Are Six. The boys can finish most of the poems themselves, which is so funny to me because I don't know them that well (and I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who reads them aloud around here). I started to read "Sneezles", when John informed me that I'd broached some unspoken protocol. You must read "Busy" first, and THEN "Sneezles". Ohhhh. I'm glad to know that, aren't you?

I'm a little melancholy at the moment over the fact that the boys are growing so old, so quickly. Gone are the cherubic cheeks, the swaggering gait of the toddlers. Their fears and dreams are different now than when they were two and four. Bigger, both. And new to me. It's intimidating to watch them grow and grow in such vigorous leaps. John will be six this month, and yet, in my mind, he's four. Forever four. But no. Six. One day six will seem so little. Six will be an age for remembering. Right now, though, it feels so big. So momentous. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: they will never again be as small as they are today. We have to savor every curious, stubborn, creative, exasperating moment of it because there are no second servings.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, June 9

Family is Special

Family doesn't always mean blood relatives. Sometimes, yes, but sometimes there are bonds much tighter than DNA. Regardless of where we're blessed to find these bonds, we need not lose sight of them amidst all the hullabaloo and details of the Things That Don't Matter.

Today, the children and I spent a lot of time working together, working on manners and obedience. It didn't go smoothly, but it did go well. The day ended catching fireflies and laughing, sharing a story over gooey pieces of a WF version of Texas Sheet Cake we'd made this morning (came out more like brownies - but who's complaining, right?) We spent a little time today caught up on the little things, but pulled out of that nose dive in time to salvage the day and enjoy one another.

And then... Aunt B called to let us know that Gram has some health concerns. I won't go into too much detail, as I want to be certain to respect Gram's privacy and don't know how much the family would want shared. But you know, as I've blogged before, she's a special woman who has gifted this world with an incredible family, and I'd like to ask your prayers.

When you're in your mid-90's, things are bound to get a little wonky from time to time. And doctors tend to think it's all just elderly frailty. I am so, so thankful Aunt B knows her Mom isn't frail, even by AARP standards, and that she's such an awesome advocate for Gram. Thanks to her insistence that someone LISTEN, things will go better for Gram.

In the meantime, your prayers would be much appreciated. She's so special to so many people. Please remember her, her family, and her physicians over the next few days. Thank you so much.

Kiss those babies, and Grams!

Wednesday, June 7

Academics and Such

Well, we are back in full swing, and it's going quite nicely. Tonight, John asked to read to me - which, of course, melted my heart! The boys are retaining so much and exploring so very much. I can't keep up! This does, however, fall under the "Gee, I wish this was the worst of my problems" category. This, I can deal with.

The critters that keep emerging? Not so much. We bug bombed before we left. Came home to a glorious dearth of crickets (of all kinds), and yet... there are new bugs now. Oy! What have we done?!? Well, it'll give us something to do, right?

We aren't really making any changes as we transition from last year to next year. (Notice we haven't really had a "this year", which may account for some of that...)

* John will move into Alpha. James will move on to Delta. That's it for math.
* We'll keep plugging along with Latin, although we might add in Greek this year, just for fun. We were planning to start it next year (um, next next year...) in earnest, but as well as they like foreign language, I'd hate to waste this time and opportunity.
* History is Story of the World.
* Art will be Drawing With Children - although not until possibly fall, as I need to work through it a bit first, and that's just not happening in the immediate future.
* Science is nature journaling, reading, experiments with Dad and discussions at the dinner table. Maybe a little more reading. (That's just such an effective and enjoyable way to gather information!)
* For religion, we'll continue to read through the Bible, supplement the church studies, and work on the catechism at home.
* Then there's the whole reading/spelling/language arts/grammar/miscellaneous other things category. We tackle that in one shot: we read. It seems such a simple thing, yet it's a powerful way to go. It offers the boys the quality education we aim to offer them. Latin helps take care of grammar specifics, and the rest comes from reading quality literature - discussing quality literature - pulling copywork from quality literature.
* Music - if we can find an upright piano that wants to come live with us and can get along with the house, then we'll add music lessons to the mix.

Well, that was relatively painless. Or, it was once I got over the idea that I can't buy as much as I'd like to buy for school next year. *grin* I'd love to purchase the SOTW supplemental reading books because we can't get our hands on them through the library. I'd love to buy more of the unabridged, unadulterated classic children's literature so we don't have to wade through the junk they have in stock at BAM. I'd love to buy all of the GA Henty titles... just to have them! Ok, ok, my slip is showing, there. I mean, the boys will read them, eventually. But still - y'all know what I mean.

However, I was very, very good this year. We were starting to panic a bit about how to pay for the HVAC upfront when lo and behold, in came extra money. I thought about hiding it in my pocket and bolting to the library (so I could order from Amazon under the radar). I thought about flinging myself on the floor and sobbing about how few books we TRULY have (*snort* like that one would go over!) But I didn't. I showed Zorak and waited for him to offer to let me go on a book buying spree. He didn't, though (I knew he wouldn't, but had to at least hope) - he said, "Hey, shall we buy an air conditioner?" I've never been so conflicted in my life. I mean, I'm a wuss when it comes to summer heat and downright petty about southern humidity... but these are BOOKS, Man! BOOKS, I tell you! Yeah, yeah, whatever. We're getting the HVAC. (I'll be glad for that come August, but for now it's still a little bittersweet.)

Found the math book I'd begun studying last... erm, January. Felt a bit sheepish about not having made it very far. Then I realized, hey, we've been a little busy the past year! So, I forgave myself, and we've decided to start up on that again. Tonight was my first attempt at it. Math still isn't my strong suit, but it is a lot more fun than I used to think it was.

On the forever homefront, I got two acres mowed, we made arrangements to make progress on the HVAC installation (that sounds so much more impressive than, "we still don't have a/c," doesn't it?) More planning and sifting and scheming.

Oh ~ the dumpster people came today and removed the construction dumpster!! Wow, our driveway is HUGE! We'd forgotten. James noticed that the view of the meadow and barn from the picnic table is gorgeous - right after he realized we now have a view from there... :-) Funny kid.

There was no pilfering of paper products today! At this point, I'd just call it a successful day and go find the peanut butter cups. And so, I am off.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, June 6

Where Do They Come Up WIth These Ideas?

So tonight the older two boys got an idea. They decided it would be... mmm, fun? a good idea? remotely reasonable? We don't know what they were thinking, but we know they weren't showing a whole lot of sense. Ingenuity, perhaps, but not sense.

At any rate, whatever they thought it would be, it was good enough for them. So while Pinky slipped inside to get the toilet paper, The Brain waited outside for the fun to begin. Unfortunately for their plan of World Domination, Pinky was caught by The Man on his way out the front door with the toilet paper. "I was, um, just putting it... back. Yeah, back." And off he trotted, back to the bathroom. While he was gone, The Brain came looking to see what the holdup was.

The Man was suspicious to begin with, but that little slip up caused the Conspiracy Alarm to flash.

Bars clanged shut over the windows.

Doors automatically sealed themselves.

A crocodile hatched in the moat, er, creek.

Break out the pinatas and party favors and let the interrogation begin!

This is why some people drink, you know. It's not the plot hatching, per se. It's not even the use of toilet paper (although we did determine the end goal and affirmed that it was not, in fact, good for their health, mental wellbeing, or freedom in general). It was the sneakiness that got to both Zorak and I.

Lately, these two have developed a real "us against them" mentality - ("them" being adults). Mostly it's originated with James, but John will pretty much do whatever James suggests. (Oh, to use those powers for good!) And we don't get it. We've bent over backward to really push the team mindset - family sticks together, we look out for one another. And we walk the walk, too. We don't hold double standards for adults than we do for the children. We don't pit them against each other. Heck, even tattling isn't allowed unless you're trying to prevent someone from getting hurt or in trouble! So where they've derived this mentality is a bit of a mystery to us. However, we're going to unearth it and destroy it at the roots before we have to scrap the first two youth models and start over. Man, and we just got the complete set, too!

Thankfully, the smaller ones seem to be unaware of the cultural battle taking place. But it won't be long. Smidge's mastery of our language is improving daily, and he's a smart one, he is. And the little one - she's just so cute! But can we get to their little minds before they become corrupted?

Alright, alright, yes, I'll get my tongue out of my cheek now. I'm just tired. And slightly exasperated. I suppose it's time for a little one-on-one, a little gentle tomato staking, a little extra emphasis on the integrity that it takes to live life well. They're little. They do stuff like this. Of course, we're totally making this up as we go. It sure sounds good on paper, though, doesn't it? Much better than, "What the hell did we do wrong?!?"

Today my little world decided that we all needed to pile on the couch and read together, watch a movie, and play in the yard. I tried to be productive. I did two loads of wash - but there was no wind, and by the end of the day, those two loads were still damp. I tried to mow the sports arenas around the house - but the mower ran out of gas and Zorak didn't lable the gas cans (one has chainsaw oil, and I'm ashamed to admit that I have no idea what that stuff looks like). I tried to paint, but the prepwork woke Miss Emily - er, rather, my stifled yelps from stubbing my shins were more likely the culprit on that one. So we baked and cooked and then sat around, enjoying one another. Not a bad day, really.

Ah, but now to figure out how best to handle the remaining adjustments we need to make. We do know some people who would probably let them stay for a week or two. The boys would be thrilled beyond measure to get to come home after that. Probably pretty well-behaved, too. he he. But then, I peeked in on them sleeping... I snugged the covers gently over their shoulders and completely melted at those precious, spontaneous smiles as I kissed their little cheeks. I thought of all the times they do make good choices, or ask for help in making their choices. This isn't so bad. One day it might even be funny. Maybe. So we'll keep them. And love them. This is part and parcel of the job.

Kiss those babies!


So, Jess reminded me that I've been painfully remiss with photographs lately. We had fun sharing photos last night, and I thought I'd get off my tuckus and post some. Miss Emily has just grown and grown and grown! So today, in celebration of being able to raise her in the home she was born in (ok, the home in which she was born, but I'm not feeling terribly formal this morning, and have only had one cup of coffee), here's a gratuitous Baby Fest of Miss Emily!

General "Happy Baby" shot:

Big Snuggles from Granny:

Hanging out with Great Uncle Sandy:

Just love those cheeks:

So Happy:

Ready to ride:

And now the boys have found me and are doing laps around the computer, being dinosaurs. The fact that the computer is in a corner doesn't seem to be registering with them, so it seems break time is over.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, June 5

I checked the post office today...

Well, we had a lot of junk mail, many offers to refinance and get a home equity loan, a couple of utility bills, a few boxes (Jess, nothing in there was wet, even the bag itself was bone dry - I have no idea what they were talking about - weird).

But no certified letter.

So, I called Wonderful Realtor to ask her, "Is no news good news at this point?" I had no idea if they'd send an all-clear, or just let if fade into the abyss. She said she didn't think they'd bother with an all-clear notification, and with the deadline this far gone (it was the 19th of May) and no certified letter in our hot little hands by now, well...


It's really, really ours! Yay! Yippee!! JOY OH JOY!

*~*~* happy dance *~*~*



Alrighty, then. I can drop that stiff upper lip and slump back on the couch now, eh? A friend summed it up well when she said she sure hoped we didn't have to drink that half-full glass. Yeah. Me, too. :-)

Now we can get down to business!

Kiss those babies!

House Stuff

OK, I'm mildly wired. One more post, and then I'll go to bed. :-)

Today (drum roll, please) Zorak removed the behemoth wood burning stove from the living room. Can you hear the angels singing? Well, they are. And it's beautiful. I gutted the bookshelves in the kitchen and we put those shelves in the living room - then we brought up another bookshelf from the basement to do kitchen duty 'til we get the Swiss Army Cabinet, and from there, we were able to make it a Real Living Room. You know, like Pinocchio became a Real Boy, only this wasn't such a pain in the butt. It gave the living space a much less, mmm, industrial feel, which is nice. What was really interesting was the added space. There is an unpainted spot on the floor where the stove stood -- the bookshelves and TV all fit behind that spot, between that spot and the wall, so we now have an extraordinary amount of extra living room space. And a bare spot on the floor. We're still putting in an addition, but in the meantime*, this is much better.

For a while, we had a great redneck skylight where the stove pipe had gone through the roof, but I couldn't convince Zorak to just slap a little plexiglass on it and leave it like that. He thought that would be too weird, even for us. Maybe he was right. (But just maybe.)

The kitchen now looks like it's been raided by the mafia in search of drugs or evidence for blackmail. It's going to take a while to get everything stuffed into that one lone bookshelf. But Zorak did hang my spice rack, so now I can dig out my jars, wash them, refill them, and then -- tada! -- we'll have, well, we'll have spices hanging from the wall. (That sounded much more exciting in my head...)

Lesson plans for the week are done, more books have been brought up from the basement, and things are looking pretty good. Good stuff.

The boys stayed up late tonight. I was all set to play the heavy with them for the way they were bunched up at the ends of their beds when they pointed out that they were watching fireflies. Ohhh, pretty! So I climbed up on the dresser with them and we watched the fireflies dancing on the lawn. It was like Nature's mini-firework show! How glad am I that I didn't go in with both barrels blazing and miss out on an opportunity to sit with them in the dark and enjoy the magic of summer? Very, very glad.

Anyhow, have a splendid week, and as always,
Kiss those babies!

* "meantime" - indicates a short-term plan, but generally means a prolonged period of intended activity, followed by an extended planning period, to be finished with an indefinite "review" period. So, if it's going to be for the meantime, might as well get comfy, right?

Say what?

OK, I don't think I will ever let James have the road atlas again. Ever. As we headed out of New Mexico, he tracked our progress from his spot way, way in the back of the Suburban. (It felt farther back than it really is because of the whining dog, the exhaust leak, and the toddler's maniacal laughter every time he poked the baby's head.) Needless to say, trans-suburban communication isn't the easiest thing in the world. So, the conversation went like this:

James: What's the next city we're coming to?
Zorak: Lubbock
James: *pause while he flips pages* It's not on the map.
Zorak: Yes, it is.
James: Nope. I looked on the map, in the index, and on the mileage chart. It's not in there.
Zorak: Yes, it is.
James: The only "L-u" names in here are "Lufkin" and "LuBOCK"
Zorak and I snicker lightly.
Zorak: That's it. It's "Lubbock".
James: "Luvink"?
James: LUVOCK?
Zorak: (shooting me a dirty look because I'm giggling and not helping much) No, it's Lubbock, L-u-b-b-o-c-k.
James: *pause* I don't see it.

At this point, I am laughing so hard, I'm crying. I'm utterly useless. I tried to help, but I couldn't - I just made choking noises. Then Zorak's eyebrows begin moving about on his head and I figured I'd try one more time to help...

Me: Honey, the town that's spelled "L-u-b-b-o-c-k" is the one Daddy's talking about. Just put the accent on the first syllable.
James: LOObock?
Zorak: No, it's LUH-buk
James: OH! They just spelled it wrong in the atlas, then.

Now I'm curled up on the floorboard, trying so very hard to remember that this child totally gets this from me and not only am I wholly apologetic to Zorak for this genetic input, I'm also completely aware that the kid is really trying to figure out what we're talking about, and is sincere in his supposition that the atlas has made a typo. Obviously, something is not getting through the exhaust and road noise.

Me: Honey, it's the first sound of the phonogram uh, oo. (Hard to type the sounds, but I'm sure you follow me.)
James: LUH-buk?
Me: Yes, exactly.
James: *now totally exasperated with us* Well, that's what I thought to begin with!

A while later, we passed a sign that ready "Floydada". I read it aloud with the short "a" sound. Zorak shot me a sideways glance, whispered, "it's 'Floydada' - long a, but don't bring this up with James."

Maybe we need to invest in a good walkie-talkie set for our next road trip?

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, June 4

Trip Pics and Stuff

OK, I have more photos, but Blogger Photo Upload Utility is ignoring me now, so this is it for tonight.

The children, the dog and I only made it as far west as Las Cruces. While Zorak had to go and toil, the rest of us basked in the New Mexico sun...

picked cactus to make fresh nopalitos (well, Zorak was back with us for that)...

enjoyed visiting family...

(and ate green chile until our nostrils gave up and fell off... It was heavenly!)

Balto got thoroughly spoiled at Aunt B's...

So did Miss Emily (well, she got spoiled everywhere we stopped, but this was the last photo Blogger would let me upload in one post.)

I know the mere thought of traveling with two children, a toddler, a baby, and a puppy might make some people recoil and gag, but we had a blast. They're all great travelers, and we had a lot of fun. Everybody was so great about the noise and chaos we brought with us. The trip was long enough that we were able to enjoy seeing everyone and didn't have to do the fifteen-minute visit/pit stop/run routine. We had such a great time - not the most eloquent post, but true. I'll blog the more, erm, interesting aspects of the trip tomorrow, when I'm feeling a bit more awake, er... refreshed. Yeah, refreshed. However, that's where we've been and what we've been up to - what about you? I've missed making the rounds and will be catching up, slowly but surely, over the week (but let me know if I missed anything really exciting, okay?)

Kiss those babies!