Thursday, September 28

General Kid Stuff

James finally lost his two top front teeth. The ones that have been loose since the beginning of August, possibly late July. Both of them in one fell stroke, pretty much. Then he bled profusely, which was more than a little disconcerting. He jumped, danced, whooped. We sang, "All I Want For Christmas", and he danced around a bit more. He'd lost one down the drain (which would be tooth #3 that's found it's way to an untimely demise) and Zorak dismantled the bathroom sink to retrieve it. He didn't really want to, but the reaction from the Delighted Little Boy made him awfully glad he did.

John, who is beyond anxious to loose a tooth (I think, at this point, he'd willingly take a baseball to the head if he thought it would help), treated the occasion with such reverence and awe that I had to leave the room to giggle. James could not get over the concept that those teeth are the same size as the one Miss Emily sprouted yesterday, and so he basked in the wonder of it all, as well.

Smidge hung with the Big Dogs today, and then crashed during supper. Literally, during supper. After several spillage incidents, and a rather negative attempt at tasting the fish steaks, he climbed down from his chair, curled up in Zorak's lap, whispered a spontaneous, "I love you, Daddy," and passed out. He wants to be so big. And we are in no hurry, really.

John is now proficient enough with his reading that he gets, and makes, the word jokes we make all the time. He's in the club, man! And lovin' it! Sometimes, though, he'll read a word that's new, or long, or just unique, and then he'll stop and give a quick RCA Puppy head-tilt before asking, "Did I just read that correctly?" WRTR may be dry, it may be convoluted as heck, but I have to say it. is. awesome.

I asked the boys for a Latin for Children update today. So far, two thumbs up from the Small Ones. They love it, and they're learning. One of the activities in Lesson 3 has a vocabulary word conjugated, and asks for its meaning. Although we hadn't actually conjugated that word (um, hadn't conjugated any words other than the amo/amas... chant they'd learned), both boys spotted it, and knew what it meant. Oh. My. Word. How cool is that?!? The chant CD is also a much-favored hit with the children. I couldn't bribe them to pay attention through the PL chant CD, but the LfC CD they asked to keep in the car, next to Raffi. So if you see us driving down the road, and it looks like we're playing charades and singing like frat boys on Spring Break, it's just Latin vocab review. Good stuff.

Oh, and Miss Emily is so ROUND. She's just very, very round. We thought she was going to get a neck, after the last growth spurt, but them "pft" she just plumped right back up. I have never, in my life, seen such a happy child. A happy, round ball of snuggly Baby. This is so amazing, no matter how many times we experience it. It's just incredibly amazing. We have got to get this child a normal floor to crawl on, though. Now that's she's not only mobile, but has some direction control, it's difficult to keep her in the rooms with carpet. She wants to be where the action is, where the food is, and that's not in the carpeted rooms. Basically, she's an 18# dust mop, and the boys have taken to picking the bits of sawdust and wood chips off her when she sits back up. Sure, it's great family bonding time, but it's a little weird. Even for us. We have GOT to finish this house.

On that note, though, it's time for bed. Tomorrow is a sheetrocking and taping day for the school room. It should be finished by the end of the weekend. And I will, when we put the room back together, attempt to get the old (semi-dead) printer (which has the camera memory card reader on it) hooked up so I can upload the pictures I've been promising for months now.

Kiss those babies!

Cool Latin Stuff

This is mostly just so I can remember where I put it. Too bad I can't keep all my important documents blogged, huh?

OK, so if you want to conjugate Latin verbs instantly, check out Michael McLaron's Website. Neat!

And then I found CONJUGUEMOS!, what looks like a nifty, FREE (gotta love that) program for anyone studying German, French, Spanish, or Latin. I haven't registered yet, so if anyone does it before I get around to it, please post back and let us know what you think/how it went/if anything weird popped up. Nothing like being part of the last round of trials, huh? Next week, we'll be taking randomly selected medications just to see what happens!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, September 27

Not Dissin' The Honey

Evidently, I need to clarify: Zorak is not a goof, nor is he incompetent. I wasn't dissing him in the bicycle post. Honest. He's awesome, and he does amazing things, and he constantly astounds me with, not only his skills and abilities, but his gentle nature and deep affection for others.

That post was all about how *I* am a total loser when it comes to bikes. All on me, there. And the thing was left partially assembled simply because, well, when you have to leave the house that stinkin' early, midnight is a mighty rough time to be doing assembly work. (That was the cause for my Skeptical Look - he's talented and kind, but not so much with the time estimates for projects. *grin*)

Anyhow, I got the rest of the thing done, except for the rear brakes, which I worked on rather diligently, with only minor cursing and the occasional foray back into the kitchen for more coffee. Finally, I had to admit defeat and wait for Zorak. He walked in and, with a few quick moves, had the brakes attached and adjusted to perfection. We stood there, we two. He, staring at the happy boy, me, staring at the Hubby. "How'd you do that?" I asked. He chuckled, "Did you forget about all the kids in Maryland?"

And that's when I remembered, or rather, that's when it clicked with me. There were a large number of kids in our neighborhood in Maryland who just didn't have an adult in their lives to tend to the peripherals. Wonderful Neighbor Wife and I tended to the little ones, providing adult supervision and a safe place to play, as well as constructive activity to discourage their previous activities. We made available the sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, water play, a secure place to toodle around on their bikes and trikes. We packed extra food for the front yard picnics.

Zorak, meanwhile, became the Go-To guy for all the adolescent and pre-adolescent young men in the area. He helped them with their equipment, and with their bikes. It started out simply enough, with a request to use our foot pump to air up a tire. But it soon morphed into an informal mentoring relationship. The boys hung out more in our portion of the neighborhood, waiting for his assistance and a chance to learn. He encouraged them in his natural, gentle way. He made himself available. They began interacting with the other neighbors as they worked in the front yard, and became part of the community. Bit by bit, he amassed all the necessary equipment to make repairs and do maintenance - brakes, pads, calipers, tubes, pumps, etc. He taught the kids how to take care of their things, how to make adjustments, do maintenance, what to look for and where to find answers. It was awesome, and the kids were awesome. When we left, he gifted the boys with all of the supplies he'd purchased during our time there, and we hope that the things they learned will stick with them as much as the things we learned have.

It's all connected, isn't it? Being kind and helpful to someone may just feel like the right thing to do, and your goal may be to help somebody out and make a difference. But it's a bonus to look back and see that there's been a difference made in you, along the way, as well.

And, while Zorak is impressing me with his vast array of somewhat obscure knowledge, I did not know you can grow a loofah! I also did not know you can eat them. He did, and has. And from now on, I promise not to be surprised by the wonderful things I'm bound to continue discovering about this man. :-)

Kiss those babies!

A Little Meat On Your Bones

As a self-conscious teenager, I didn't think that phrase was such a dandy. Tonight, however, it saved the day!

The day started out well enough: we ate a wonderful breakfast, did our Latin on the swings, did our reading and Bible over Legos, and managed to get a few chores accomplished. Then, a little before lunchtime, I felt the vague, twinging pain of a migraine slithering up the back of my head. It was tempting to slide right into full denial mode, but then I did the math and realized I'd be incapacitated, on the bathroom floor, a full two hours before Zorak got home. OK, fine. I'll be a grown up about this and come up with a game plan.

I sucked down a few Aleve, informed the boys that Mommy was going to feed them and then go hide for a bit, and we're watching movies this afternoon (hurray! -- ow, whisper "hurray", okay?) I threw on some ramen, broke out the cheese sticks and sliced up some apples. Then moved the peanut butter down to the counter and loosened the lid, just in case they decided they were still hungry long after I ceased being capable of caring. That's when Zorak called to say he missed lunch today and could I please have something ready fairly early this evening? That is, normally, a completely reasonable request. Today, it made me want to cry. Then he said, "Just thaw some of those pork ribs and I'll grill 'em when I get home." OH. OK, thawing is a quiet activity. I can do that.

I had to lay down, though, before my head exploded, so I put off the thawing of the meat. Eventually, I was not quite recovered, but had the near-certainty that I'd somehow managed to, if not head it off completely, at least keep it at bay, so I got up and began poking around in the kitchen. My thought was that I could partially defrost the ribs in the microwave, throw some veggies together, do a quick and easy tidy on the kitchen, and still have supper ready fairly early.

But there weren't any pork ribs. I know. I looked. In the freezer. In the fridge. In the Suburban (just in case there'd been some horrible miscommunication - we've seen worse). No ribs. No meat, other than bacon and Italian sausages. I don't care for Italian sausages on my best days. Leaning over into the freezer, causing my brains to bulge from my eyes didn't make it sound any more appealing. The boys helped me empty the freezer, graciously ignoring my quiet, frantic whispering, "He said there were ribs in here. I can't see them. He said they were there. Where'd they go?" We emptied the entire thing and all we found was two used glo-sticks, half an otter pop (I don't want to know), a bag of berries I'd forgotten we have, and one small package labled, "Pork for Stew". Huh. Well, it's not Italian sausage, let's see what we can do with it. I opened the package to find... a soup bone. Pork for split pea soup, perhaps navy bean soup, but not stew. (Note to self: don't let whoever labled these things anywhere near the wrapping process ever again, although I suspect I may have been the culprit...)

Well, whaddya know, our oddities paid off: there was enough meat on the bone to make a meal for five! A few chopped potatoes, sliced onions, carrots, celery and a Tbsp. of bullion - brown the meat and onions, throw it all together into a roasting pan, cover and cook for a whopping 15 minutes at 300' (the bite-sized potato chunks make this possible - gotta love that). Ta-da! A delicious, quiet, fast, nutritious meal that saved the day by giving me time to lay down and still get supper going on time.

Too bad Part II: The Leftovers won't work out. There aren't any. It was a surprise hit with all the kids, as well as with Zorak. Sweet!

The moral of the story: It's good to keep a little meat on your bones!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, September 26

The Church and the Environment

What a great discussion!

Sarah has posted a wonderful entry on her musings about getting the church, as a corporate body, involved in a more active role of environmental stewardship. She's looking for ideas, so if you've any thoughts on the subject, please stop by and share them. (You must have an account to leave a comment w/ xanga, so if you don't have one, please feel free to leave your thoughts here. Forewarning, though, comments are moderated, and while I don't filter out dissenting voices, I do filter out sheer nastiness.)

I haven't pursued this line of thinking before now - it's a new twist on the idea, though, and so far some good discussion has spring up from it. One of the things I'd love to see (coming from me, not from Sarah, I'm not sure what her thoughts on it are) is how best to bring this issue to the table without making, or creating, a partisan political rally out of it. How best to take the individual into the corporate without creating a sticky wicket of ire from the left and the right. Or if it should be brought into the corporate realm, at all?

Anyhow, come and join in the discussion about Cristianity and environmentalism. The two aren't mututally exclusive - quite the opposite, in fact - so how can the church, as a body, pick up the ball and run with it?

Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 25

Beautiful Mondays

I'm not making anything beautiful, like Laura, or anything useful, like Alaska. I'm sitting here, recuperating from math this morning. Maybe it was the nature walk we took before breakfast, hoodies and baskets at the ready, tapping into their creative side too early... Maybe it was the music playing on the stereo, distracting him from his work... Maybe it's just that he's eight, and this happens. Whatever it was, we determined it's a housekeeping thing, not a knowledge thing. So we broke out the graph paper, took a few deep breaths, and got it worked out. There are word problems still to do, but we both needed a break.

While he worked on his math, the other ones got their math, reading and writing done. They played with puzzles (in another room - I love having more than one room in which to live!) Then they went back outside to plunder the meadow seas with the trusty Pirate Dog, who refused to wear an eye patch, in spite of their most empassioned pleas.

Some days don't seem so hard, even when the hurdles come. We leap them, not always with gazelle-like grace, and sometimes we do land on our tushes, but we leap them nonetheless. I wish I could figure out what causes that and bottle it, or write it down, or have it tattooed on my arm. Something. Because there are other days lurking, where we won't be able to clear the front door threshold. I know this, so I'm going to savor today, which is a hurdle clearing day. :-)

We also found two different berry plants on our walk this morning. We suspect they're choke berry and muscodine, and after a little research to see if they're edible, perhaps we'll have something to make jams and syrups for this winter! (Or, maybe just dyes... we'll see.)

We'll have a late lunch and do our Latin, and then I think we're going to spend the afternoon working outside. It's too beautiful to spend the day indoors, and this is the time of year for preparing for the winter.

What do you enjoy about Mondays in the Fall?

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, September 24


You know a child is exhausted when it takes nine tries to say, "Goodnight Moon". Smidge was so tired, he couldn't keep his eyes open, and once he finally managed to get the title out, he didn't have the energy to be as enthusiastic as he felt on the inside. But what an effort he put in! I can't believe he stayed awake for the whole story.

Well, James' birthday was celebrated thoroughly today, in full style. This is the first year we haven't had the BBQ and activity d'jour the day of the birthday, and it was a bit weird. But good. Sort of like having a three-day birthday, which probably isn't all that bad if you're the Birthday Boy. However, the friend he wanted to invite is in school this year, so we had to wait for a weekend to do it. It was worth the wait.

The big activity was, for the second year running (and for both boys...) bowling! If we're not careful, we're going to find ourselves wearing matching shirts and carrying little black bags. The boys love it because, well, I don't know why they love it, but they do. We love it because it's a great family activity. The Bigs can bowl and have fun. The Littles can lob the ball and giggle. Then we can all blow a good five minutes watching the ball the Little threw as it inches slowly, slowly toward the pins... By the time it hits something, the small ones have forgotten that it was their shot and they get all excited because "somebody" scored. It's a lot of fun, really. Plus, bowling alleys are not the dark and somewhat seedy places of 20 years back, which helps.

Then it was back to the house for a late supper and some playtime. We've been wanting to have another family from town over, and they were available today, so that worked out well. All told, there were 12 children, and they had a fantastic time. It was very loud. There was a LOT of movement - running, slipping, climbing, hopping... you name it. I think it was a little too loud for one Mom, but she's my Quiet Friend. She's very sweet and gentle and, well, quiet. And her children are relatively quiet, most of the time. It doesn't really matter how quiet your children are, if there are twelve children, it's going to get loud. She handled it graciously, however, and it was nice for Zorak to get to know her husband outside of the usual Sunday morning routine.

The other family is one we've known since March, and they're just delightful. They are loud, and funny, and comfortable to be around. We enjoy them very much. It was a good blend of children, and the adults got along famously, as well. Everyone stayed a bit later than they'd planned, as we got hit with one of those land-based squalls I remember so vividly from last year. Nobody wanted to get out on the road and have a window busted out by a wind-blown squid landing on it. I can appreciate that. Eventually, the rain let up and our company departed around ten-thirty.

It didn't take long to get everyone ready for bed; they were pretty exhausted and more than ready to curl up for some rest. Then it was quiet once again, at which point Zorak and I surveyed the damaged and figured we'd deal with it in the morning.

Eight feels so big, and he seems so big in so many ways. But then, I tell myself, time and again, that he will never again be as little as he is right now. In ten years, eight will feel Very Young, Indeed. So here's to another year to enjoy this child in all his humor and insight, his wisdom and folly, his growing and learning and exploring. This will be a great year for him, I know. And a great year for us, for having him in our lives. Good stuff, that.
Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 21

Not like this!

So, in all my years of doing odd jobs, learning new skills, and taking on challenging tasks, there has never, ever, as long as I have lived, been any desire on my part to put together a bicycle. Ever. I don't care to know how the brakes adjust. If you really, absolutely must stop now and your brakes don't work because you don't know how to adjust them, run into something. I have scars that attest to the efficiency of this approach.

Even less appealing than maintaining or assembling my own bicycle is the thought of having to put one together for the children. I'm willing to take the responsibility for not giving them food poisoning when I prepare their food. I'm confident in my ability to follow road rules and not rack up moving violations that might endanger them when we get into the car. I am A-OK with being the one solely responsible for their education and general life-skills. But I just don't think it's a good idea for my skills and abilities to be the sole line of defense between them and full-body traction when they're riding their bikes down the steep and rutted driveway (usually, straight into the barn).

So, that said, why is there a partially assembled bicycle in the living room, taunting me?

Well, it started yesterday. James got a new bike for his birthday. We met Zorak in town and let James pick one out from the ones Zorak has narrowed to the A-list. All was warm and fuzzy - happy children, new helmets, new bike for the birthday boy... Everything changed the moment the young man assisting us with our purchase asked, "Do you want this assembled?"

Now, I realize he was probably the one helping us solely because he is the slowest sprinter they have (or the one least proficient at looking Terribly Busy, or just plain hiding from herds of families, as they roam about in search of "help"), but bless him, he stuck with us. He looked in the back for us (and as most of you know, The Back must be a terrifying place, based on most employees' reluctance to go there to look for anything for a customer - that he willingly forged into The Back and found our item meant a lot to me). At this point, I'm willing to cough up Zorak's hard-earned money to let this young man engage the one skill I know he possesses with which he can most definitely run circles around me. This is "a wise use of funds", in my opinion.

But Zorak beat me to it. "No, I'll assemble it," he says. "We just need the box, please."

"What? WHEN are you going to assemble it?"

"Tonight, while the boys are at Pioneer Club."

I stared at him with My Skeptical Look.

"After I run that one wire in the school room."

My Skeptical Look intensified.

"It'll be fine."

For the record, I am still wearing My Skeptical Look.

We arrived home to a fully wired school room, complete with functional switches, tons of working outlets, a visible dearth of outlet cords running here and there, and a bonafide light fixture in the ceiling. It's lovely. I'm writing by the light of that fixture right now. And that is my sole consolation, because as we walked in, Zorak popped open the bike box. That's right, pulled the staples out as we walked in. At nine o'clock at night.

I probably don't need to go into the gory details of the evening that followed. But by the time all the children were scrubbed, jammied, storied and snuggled, we were pretty well shot. Zorak gave it a good go. He really did. The manual is for a different model, so none of the pictures match. And the manual was written by an obstinate second grader, so the written directions make very little sense. And Zorak did have to be out the door this morning well before the neighbor's rooster came to our meadow to challenge Balto for a morning race.

But there's an anxious little boy and a partially assembled bicycle, and I am now faced with having to pick between two incompatible desires: not to ever, ever have to put together a bicycle, and making that little boy smile.

I guess it won't hurt to have another set of skills added to the list.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, September 20

Hee hee

It's 60' outside right now. The boys went outside to play, and promptly came back inside to find their hoodies.

I love this time of year!


Someday, the real grown ups will appear,

and take over the running of this home. When that happens, things will be very different around here: laundry will seldom have to be run twice through the washer; meals will begin to appear earlier in the evening rather than later; the lawnmower will be used frequently enough that one will not need the machete to get to it through the grass... where it was left the last time the grass was "mowed".

When Zorak is asked to fill in for lessons, all pertinent materials will be displayed obviously and accompanied by graphic, borderline compulsively detailed notes as to the process.

But most importantly, all birthdays preparations will be completed at least a week in advance.

Who knew the Juice Clock is a seasonal item? Seriously, clocks are a summer thing? Or, at least clocks that "will run on virtually any liquid". *sigh* And that is the only gift he asked for. He really needs more organized parents.

Tomorrow, we'll have a busy day, though, and I hope to make it a good one. We'll start with a birthday breakfast. After much prompting, he decided the menu should be: soft boiled eggs, toast with Granny's Cactus Jelly, bacon, and apple juice. Easy enough, although we will offer fried and scrambled eggs, as well. The other two would mutiny in a heartbeat if we tried to foist soft boiled eggs on them.

Then we'll shuffle off to the store for a bag of wheat-free cake mix and come back home to make and decorate a bajillion cupcakes. Transport cakes into town and store in hot car while we pick up bicycle. Yes, I know, logistics aren't my strong suit. To avoid the more obvious olfactory issues of this plan, we're making our own icing rather than buying the cheap beef fat icing. (The cheap beef fat icing was in order to avoid the more fiscally taxing aspect of the Very Expensive Icing plan. It's our plan-within-a-plan, um, plan.)

ANYway, lunch with Dad, new bike, supper at church, cupcakes with Pioneer Club and we are SO off the hook as far as this goes, as his actual "party" is Saturday, which buys me an additional 72 hours to make the Superman cake. We were going to go with the Big "S" emblem for the cake. It's easy, angular, and blue. We can do all three of those. Then tonight he said he'd really like the "whole body Superman"... I'm still trying to figure out how to make our basic Bob and Larry cake look like Superman. And fighting the urge to bribe him with another puppy. (It's okay, I know that's the desperation talking. Things will go more smoothly in the morning.)

Zorak has finished the new printer shelf, so maybe I can get it decoupaged tomorrow (*snort* *guffaw*) and then we can set everything up in a less hodge-podge fashion so we'll have our photo uploading capabilities back again. I'll post more photos when I can.

As always, kiss those babies!

Monday, September 18

Oh, FUN!

There are so many wonderful events in the area this time of year. Some are recurring, such as the County Fair. Some are unique opportunities, like the Egyptian exhibit at The Frist. Ohhh, how fun! I wanna go! Wanna come with us? It seems that there are Egyptian displays all over the place, but I think that's just the circles we run in. Everybody but us has made it to one at some point in the past two years. This is, though, truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I hope we can make it.

We'd also like to make it up to Nashville for the Harvest Days. There's something almost every weekend from now until Christmas. The hard part will be choosing what not to attend.

James' birthday is approaching, also. Way too rapidly, really. He's growing up - they all do that, but somehow, the first one seems to hit me the hardest. The two front teeth that have been dangling lopsided, a'la Nanny McPhee, are still hanging in there. But not for long. When they're gone, and those big adult teeth come in... *sniff, sniff* Where did Baby go? When did this happen? How can he be eight when he was just five... two, even? Of course, he's ready and rearin' to go. He's enjoying this journey. He's challenging himself, and finding the things he's proud of and the things he'd like to work on. If he simply must grow up, at least he's doing it well.

We watched "Elf" this afternoon, and laughed until we cried. I can't watch the chewing gum scene, though. That just grosses me out too badly. I've got the shivvers just thinking about it.

School is moving right along. The kids are learning new things, reviewing old things, building on the two. Today wasn't an "a-ha" day, but it wasn't a freaky circus of climbing and hooting and hollering day, either. Considering we had to be at an appointment by ten, which I discovered when I called at nine to confirm that it was at one (not enough zeroes made it to the calendar - oops!), it was a pretty low-stress day. Claudia called for a bit this afternoon and got to hear Smidge marching around the living room, chanting "Amas, amat, mamus" (yep, drops the a on that last one). I think the rejuvenated Latin studies with the older two may be helping quite a bit with his speech and vocabulary skills. We don't require anything of him in Latin, obviously, but he picks up the chants and songs so easily that he's capable of reciting it quite well. A friend had mentioned hearing someone speak at a homeschooling convention many years ago, and the speaker said she never really schooled her youngest child. At the time, said friend panicked inside and thought, "Oh my word!" But now, her third child is a junior and she looks at me and winks as she says, "It'll all turn out okay. Trust me."

There's a ton to post, but it's my turn at the dentist tomorrow bright and early, so I'd best sign off and get some rest.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, September 17


Sundays don't start out too terribly hectic for us, anymore. Or, to be more accurate, they are horribly hectic, but we've learned to ignore it. Many experts wax eloquent on the keys to a non-stressful Sabbath morning. They do have some excellent recommendations:
* Lay out your clothes the night before.
* Set the table and have all breakfast ingredients gathered and prepped before you go to bed.
* Restock your bag (diapers, wipes, snacks, band-aids, whatever) and set the bag, with your books and keys, by the front door.
* Get to bed early.

We've tried these things, but they haven't ever quite taken in our household. I don't know if it's a lack of concerted effort, or if we subconsciously miss the thrill of experiencing the Home Version of The Amazing Race every Sunday morning.

From a note taped to the mirror in the bathroom: "Old Mother Hubbard went here." Um, kitchen! Kitchen! Everyone to the cupboard in the kitchen! Maybe there's food in there!
*we all scramble like mad to the kitchen cupboard, where we ingest food and look for the next clue*
Instead of being eliminated for coming in dead last, you just get to be the one to carry all the miscellany everyone else has forgotten in their haste. (Ask me how I know.)

So we've modified some of the tried-and-true guidelines, in order to breathe peace and tranquility into our Sunday mornings.

* If it's missing a button, either tuck it in to hide it, or find something that doesn't require buttons. You'll be fine, let's go.
* Yes, we're going to be late if you take the time to chew the toast, that's okay. Either chew now and stop talking, or get in the car and you can chew on the way.
* They have diapers in the nursery, don't they? (Similar to the coffee donation at work, we've stocked the church nursery with diapers and wipes, just to be sure.)
* Define "early"...

We'll never be the ones waiting on the landing for someone with the keys to come let us in. We know this, and we're okay with it. The boys have learned that if it's their turn to carry something, say something, or have any kind of role in the opening portion of Sunday School, they need to let me know so that I know just how fast I'll need to drive. Coffee is always a must have for the Bigs, and Protein is always a must have for the Littles. If any portion of that requirement is missed, it will get ugly. As long as the small ones have had some good fats in their diet, and you've had your coffee, there will be no meltdowns.

We do still arrive late more often than not, but we get there without hurt feelings, yelling, or ugliness in our hearts now. And that frees us up to focus on learning, sharing, growing, and striving. We get better as we go, and the goal is to get there a little less late each week. Someday, we'll get there in time for the kids to go to their rooms with their classes. But in the meantime, while we work on improving our timing, our hearts are in the place that counts, and we're good with that.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, September 16


Today was just glorious - a lovely breeze, tons of progress on the wiring and the house, a new bookshelf, and a number of other delightful things crossed our paths today. Some of it was our reading this week:

Outrageous Women of Ancient Times - our library has it! I've looked for this book for two years, so imagine Zorak's joy in learning that we won't have to buy it, after all. We're enjoying it this week. The boys went nuts as we read about Semiramis, an Assyrian queen, when the text mentioned that she was actually from a country south of Mesopotamia and had married into Assyrian royalty when she wed Shamshi-Adad. HEY, we know HIM! Oh, wow, how cool! And so it went, the boys pretty much took the ball and ran with it and I sat there thinking, "Oh cool. They do listen."

The Imperial Shah, An Informal Biography - One of the most striking books I've ever read is Shah of Shahs, so it's interesting to read this book, written from a completely different perspective and historical context, of the Shah of Iran.

I've got JCO in the queue, this time with Bellefleur. This will be my third attempt at reading Oates. So far, I haven't enjoyed any of it, but after reading a friend's latest discovery of this author, I'm willing to give it one more go.

Another great bit that came across the desk today is the 100-mile diet, courtesy of Drew. Right on the heels of yesterday's food import discussion, this was timely. There are still some specialty foods we cannot get locally, although once the kitchen is finished we could theoretically start grinding and making much of our own. However, the 100-mile diet site is great, full of tips for getting started eating locally, humor, ideas, and miscellaneous stuff. Check it out and get to know the farmers near you.

And one of our goals for next year is canning, so when I found a link for getting started, it was like finding my very own mentor. Sort of. It's a good thing we have all winter to bone up!

Not everything gets done each and every day, but that's okay. I know that we aren't guaranteed a tomorrow, but if we live each of our days as intentionally as possible, the things that do not get done until tomorrow won't be missed if tomorrow doesn't come. I can study canning this winter, but today I read with James. I can shampoo the couch tomorrow, but this afternoon I wrestled with John and did the airplane thing. (Hopefully, my legs will recover by tomorrow!) I can finish lessons plans for next week tomorow, but this morning I snuggled with Smidge and Miss Em and made up silly stories to make them laugh. And now, although it's nearly tomorrow, I do believe I'm going to go inquire of my beloved husband and see if he'll let me sample whatever decadent-smelling concoction he's frying up in the kitchen! What a great ending to a delightful day.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, September 15

Around the Globe

We've found a little market that sells rice pastas in forms DeBoles and Tinkyada have never dreamed of making. It's the East Asia Market in Huntsville, and their selection is mind-numbing. But it feels wrong to be buying rice imported from China when so many of their own people cannot get enough to eat, and we have rice growing all over Arkansas. There's a disconnect in the process, and it doesn't feel good. I'm not sure yet how this plays out (though after doing some digging, I have my suspicions) - are we helping an export industry that is, somehow, improving the quality of life for those in the fields, or are we gnoshing on flat noodles and rice sticks that have been lovingly harvested by a child who will not see a full bowl of the stuff for her day's labor? There is little to no information that I've been able to find on the companies, but I plan to keep looking before we shop there again.

Oh, I heard something disturbing on the radio today: someone hypothesizing that McCain may be hoping the Republicans will lose seats in Congress, with the possibility arising from that move that the Republican Party will interpret it as a cry from the People (sadly, yes, with a capital P) that it's time to come more to the left, giving him an actual shot at the White House. This scares me for many reasons, not the least of which is that it's a possibility. But if the GOP does interpret a loss in that manner, that's just piss-poor data interpretation. If Republicans lose their seats, it'll have more to do with the fact that it's getting more and more difficult to tell a difference between the two lately - they all seem to want to control more of our industries, our philosophies, and our lives, down to our our children and our diets -- and take more of our money to fund the takeover. The other concern is that "President McCain" is about as appealing a thought to me as reviving Lenin for round two.

Then, KathyJo posted a bit and linked to this lovely blurb on the UN Charter - they're going after our children! Joy. I've left politics alone on the blog, but I'm going to have to hash this one out. First, I must go on the record as saying, "Yeah, what she said," regarding KathyJo's comments. Our children will be raised with the values and ideals that We (the Royal we, Zorak and I) hold dear. Not Kofi Annan's values and ideals. Not those of the Chinese government, the Sudanese government, or even the United States government. We have a hard enough time keeping the Federal government out of our homes, let alone having to deal with International Oversight and ideals-compliance. No, thank you.

Hornblower posted her thoughts on the issue, from the perspective of one who holds the UN near and dear. She and I probably have not once agreed on anything political, but we've never had a problem discussing it, and I love that. I love hearing her side of things, and her compassion for those in third-world countries who are suffering horribly comes through beautifully in her post. And that, wonderfully enough, is one area in which we do agree: nobody ought to suffer the atrocities that some countries have heaped upon their people. Where we differ is in how best to help.

We aren't talking about People Who Care vs. People Who Don't Care, although, sadly, that's how the flow charts are often drawn up. Putting the United States under the jurisdiction of the UN is not going to do the trick for third-world countries. There are already issues concerning real, actual, tangible situations wherein the US has been/is being pressured to alter its own domestic policy and law of the land to conform to the values and laws of other UN-affiliated nations with which we do not agree. For the US to sign this charter, we would further subjugate ourselves to a coalition that has little respect for the values that we DO hold dear. It's not so much about the children, in this case, as it is about the precedent set. Precedents can be dangerous things. Also, she noted that "it's not about US", and goes on to list the places it is about. But then, I must ask, if it's not about us, then why must we agree to abide by it? If it's not something we need looked into by the UN, why the insistence that we agree to let the UN come look into US, OUR homes, OUR children? If it's about them, then go ask them if the UN can come have a look-see.

However, what I'd like to know is why the UN? Why can't this humanitarian work be accomplished without asking us to put ourselves under a planetary tribunal, complete with oversight? Grass Roots movements (true grassroots - from the people, up, not from the Bureaucracy, down) have traditionally had the strongest, most long-lasting impact. These issues would best be addressed by volunteer organizations and philanthropic groups, bolstered by the invitation and support of the people within the countries, themselves.

One of the biggest obstacles to so-called good Federal government that we see so often in the United States is that of a disparity of understanding. People in Lower Manhattan have no idea what would work for the neighborhoods in Chula Vista, CA, and vice versa. There's too much incongruity in the cultures, values, ideals, and communities for governing and regulation of one over the other to be effectual. This is why government on the smallest possible level is the most efficient, expedient, and least intrusive means. Now, that is within one country, an industrialized country, a relatively well-blended country. Imagine the diametrical perspective of Canada, the US, or India in trying to tell the countries in Africa, Western Europe, or Asia just how things ought to be done. It would result in frustration and offense, no matter what. Now, add a subjugation of authority to these groups over each other and you have a recipe for trouble, for political bullying, for corruption, and squandering of resources. (All of which we have seen come to fruition in the UN, by the way.) No, these changes need to be made from within - with the support and encouragement of those countries which have the resources to do so, but not by putting those resourced countries under the Jurisdiciton of an International Tribunal, subject to Charters which would trump our own Constitution. No.

This isn't a boogey man we're concerned about. This isn't shadows on the wall from the moonlight outside. This is a deeper and much more broad-based issue, with regard primarily to sovereignty and accountability. We are United States Citizens, not subjects of the world, nor Members of the UN. America has always been a generous country, a country filled with citizens who are willing to offer aid at the drop of a hat, willing and ready to teach, guide, and build. All one needs to do is ask. But to ask us to give up those things that make us uniquely and beautifully American is asking the wrong thing from the wrong people.

As always, kiss those babies!

Early Morning Ramblings

I should be in bed. But what's a little sleep deprivation, anyway? I've had four children in seven years; just when I get to sleep like a normal person, I'm pregnant again and it starts all over. (No, I'm not pregnant - somebody is, though!)

So, today I had to go to court. They showed no mercy, but they'll let me make payments. Gah, how embarrassing. Our tags expired, and our renewal notice didn't make it under the forwarded mail umbrella, so we had no clue until the nice, albeit somewhat enthusiastic, Hartselle policeman pulled me over one night to let me know. *sigh* Too many irons, not enough fires. Oh well, all is up to date and I'm no longer on the lam. Yay.

We do have too many irons in the fire, even now. I'm so glad for fall and winter. Those are my happy seasons, where I naturally turn toward our home and kitchen. Things slow down again. Not that they've been busy over the summer, but I'm in a better frame of mind when my upper arms don't stick to my sides. Better able to lead the life we want to live, to set the pace we prefer to walk. It's good stuff. Plus, the boys get up with the sun, so winter will buy me a few minutes of quiet solitude in the mornings. That's always handy.

I got to meet one of our neighbors from up the road today. The Suburban died on me when I stopped at the market after my appt., so I wandered back into the store to see if anyone could give me a jump. I love living in a town where the cashier can eyeball the store, shout, "Mr. E----!" and you hear, "Yes, ma'am?" come from somewhere beyond the bread. "Meere," she shouted, and from the end of the aisle came a very sweet gentleman who agreed to help me out. Turned out it wasn't the battery, which did take a charge, but the thing still wouldn't start, so he offered to give me a ride home. As we neared the drive, he said, "Ohhhh, you bought the Cook's old place!" Yep. He filled me in on the family histories and those neat little bits you don't usually get to know about your home from before it was yours. Then we pulled up the drive and he said, a bit wistfully, "Oh, this place used to be so pretty. Miss Cook sure did keep it looking nice." Um... yeah. *hanging head in shame* Landscaping hasn't exactly been at the top of our list, just yet. We'll have to invite him and his wife over... after we've bought a tractor.

Ohhhh, we tried a new recipe this week. "Instant Sizzling Rice", served in miso soup. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? Yeah, titles can be deceiving. It was a total flop. We tried scooping the rice out of the soup, since we love miso soup, but it had infused the soup with a nasty smell, so we had to scrap it all and just eat crackers and cheese for lunch. We couldn't even stand to leave the trash can in the kitchen when we dumped it out. Blech.

But today, we made up for it. For breakfast, we made one of those beautiful Better Living-style meals: homemade cherry muffins (sprinkled with red sugar crystals, even!), served in a lovely woven basket; scrambled eggs with green chile and cheese; bacon; yogurt with granola; and your choice of coffee (duh), almond milk, or peach juice to drink. Doesn't that just scream "Bed and Breakfast"? It felt wonderful, and we spent a good hour literally luxuriating over our meal. I need to work on my timing a bit (the eggs had to wait in the oven while the first batch of bacon burnt and the second batch fried up), but that may become a standard Company Breakfast. It's easy, offers a little something for everyone, and looks WAY more elegant than the effort required to prepare it.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, September 13

A Rainy Day

Yes, we set the books on the balcony to dry out, and it rained. What can you do besides laugh? Well, and bring the even-more-damp books back into the house?

Monday night was rough. Balto was a bit freaked out and spent the night warning us that there was something on the property. It wasn't anything, but his bark had the very definite tone of a "HEY, you don't belong here" bark, and so we kept checking it out. Until around three thirty, when we just stopped caring if someone was out there. Really, if someone wants whatever's in the barn, and wants it badly enough to come at three thirty in the morning, he can have it.

But today, the rain brought cooler temperatures, gentle breezes. It was a good day. It was a warm breakfast and good story day. A day for playing on the floor with the children, lying prone to do my studies while Smidge sat atop my back and "fished" into the sea of carpet. It was a day for studies and cake for lunch and made up jokes. I love these days.

Autumn is coming! Autumn is coming! Autumn is coming! I know we need a season of light and heat and growth. I appreciate that. But I'm of the opinion that summer just takes itself way too seriously when it gets soooo hot and sooo sticky. Really, now, is any temperature over 100' necessary? 90, even? No. And so, we have made it through another summer and now we veer into the beautiful, beautiful fall months. Mmmm, yes.

And I fell asleep before posting this last night, so I'm just going to leave it as is and post this morning. But boy, did a good night's sleep do wonders for this dragging mama!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, September 12

Ugh, what a day

We started Latin for Children today. The boys like the program. James loves the activity book. John likes the cadence and chants. We all like the video, EXCEPT that the video for Primer A seems to use exclusively Classical Pronunciation. We've been using Prima Latina and LC1, so we are accustomed to hearing principio pronounced as "prin-SHE-pee-OH", and silva as "SILL-va", it took a few double takes to adjust to hearing "prin-KEE-pee-OH", "SILL-wa". "WEAR-bum" rather than "VAIR-boom", as well - just sounded odd.

Anyhow, I don't think I can pull it off. I have no logical stratagem for it. I will not appeal to any sense of reason whatsoever. All I can say is:

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam...

Can't do it. For purely cultural reasons, we're going to have to stick with Ecclesiastical Latin. But I've heard that the videos for Primer B begin to include both pronunciations, and other than that little gripe, the program itself looks simply fantastic.

Other than the new Latin program, I've got nothin' tonight.

Today we did:

1 trip to the dentist
2 hours of lessons
3 loads of dishes
4 rounds of "please don't sit on the baby"
5 games of "Don't Eat Pete"
6 hours of nursing (or so it seemed, could be off by an hour or two)
7 ... mmm, I don't know, but we must've done something seven times...
8 pages of lesson plans for the following weeks
9 loads of laundry washed, dried and put away. (Another load still in the dryer and yet another sitting in the wash.)

and I'm out of Hours In A Day. Pretty sure we borrowed some from tomorrow, too.

Kiss those babies!

PS - Bonus points if you know the quote. And extra bonus points if you know without me having to explain it that I'm not insinuating that anyone ought to use Ecclesiastical pronunciation, nor am I disparaging Classical pronunciation as a viable option for others. It just wouldn't work for us, and at least I'm willing to admit it's a cultural bias, however pathetic that culture may be. ;-)

Monday, September 11

This time, it's personal

There's mold, and this time, it's taken things a bit too far. It can no longer infest our mildew-resistant walls. It cannot fight the power of climate controlled air and tight plumbing. It cannot stand up to gutter control.

So it went after my books.

It must die. Oh, yes.

I won't complain if I have to redo a house or something, but you don't mess with da books! Grrrr.

From what we can gather, the seemingly dry basement walls were just damp enough to wick moisture into the boxes that touched the wall. Cardboard then goes from being "handy storage" to "mold feeding water capacitor" and Voila! There goes an entire weekend hauling all the books up out of the basement for a little fresh air and your standard pre-incarceration delousing. Damn, that makes me mad.

Work progressed on the school room, between creepy loads up from the basement. More plans for major renovation - this time involving new roof trusses and a vaulted ceiling. The hurrier we go, the behinder we get. (Was that Winnie the Pooh?) Anyhow, I believe now that keeping our eyes on future projects prevents us from becoming mired in the despair that is the current project. Eh. Okay. Everyone has their drug of choice. Denial is ours, and we'll take it straight up, thanks.

Thanks for the birthday wishes for Smidge. He had a fantastic birthday. I'll post pictures when we get the thing with the card thing hooked back up. (My IT brain is gone for the day, so that's the best I've got.)

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, September 9

Keep Them Guessing

Tonight, we held the kickoff supper for the women's ministries. It was a nice evening in which four women spoke on seasons of life. That's a language we use often in homeschooling and general childrearing circles, and it's a beautiful way to describe the phases of chaos in which one lives. They divided the speakers into four seasons - for brevity as well as not having to make up new seasons, since we only decorations for the basic four, into "Youth", "Young Mother", "Empty Nester", and my personal favorite, "Perfectly Seasoned".

One way to capture your audience immediately is to begin your speech with, "Although I love my husband, and he is a wonderful man...*" Yup, that'll quiet a room pretty quickly. I did mean to say that, but I hadn't thought out the effect such an opening would have on those assembled until I looked up to see the Deer-In-The-Headlights reflections on three dozen stunned faces. Well, now the cat's out of the bag, I guess. We'll see on Sunday how well my words were received, eh?

I think two of the other women who spoke did so quite eloquently, expressing not only the challenges they face in their particular seasons, but how we (those of us in other seasons of life) can best support and encourage them. That was good. When you are a mother of small children, your field of vision is restricted to the five feet and under area, and anything that moves erratically. We don't mean to be anti-supportive or lack encouragement for others. Really, we don't. It's just that if we take our eyes off the target for a few moments, said target will sense an opening and get into something potentially dangerous, messy, or embarrassing. It was nice to hear, specifically, what will help others.

My little targets had a great day. Our Revised Attitude Toward Working Together went well today. We accomplished much. We were late for everything (we're only working on the attitudes, not the actual execution). We had a fantastic time. When I announced that we had, in fact, left the house without any yelling, we all erupted in a big Hurrah!

I've been good about doing my Latin (three days in a row now, woohoo). The math, not so much, but that's okay. Pretty soon the boys will be caught up and we can all hire a tutor for a group rate. The boys asked to do their lessons "the new way", so we did. We did not get a cake baked or a birthday present purchased, but that's okay. Smidge did tell us something funny today, at breakfast, though.

"OK, guys. I have a plan." It was so clear that all three of us turned to look at him. Yeah, what's your plan? "Tomorrow, *pause* when it's my birthday, *another pause* I'll turn three."

That's it. That's the plan. I like the way he thinks. So, that's the plan for tomorrow.

Zorak is home, now. He came bearing green chiles. Twenty-five pounds of green chiles. I think I'll forgive him for calling me from various restaurants in Las Cruces to tell me what he ordered and how good it was. For the next month, we will be adorning everything with green chile: eggs, sausage, steaks, stew, corn flakes, you name it.

(*) The end of that precarious opening line is, "I don't deserve him. But I have been given this marriage and this home and this family, and that's quite humbling. That is Grace in action, and that is my testimony." (Didn't want to leave anybody worried, you know.)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 7

Laughing Lessons

We haven't been laughing much lately. We've wanted to, but we've allowed other things to get in the way. Some of it needs to be addressed: obedience, respect, kindness, honesty. Some of it doesn't need the attention it's been getting, but rather just needs the gentle consistency that I completely lack. (I'm consistent, but far from gentle - that whole meek, quiet, gentle thing somehow got caught in the genetic filter of my parentage. Science has yet to come up with anything to remedy that, shy of a partial lobotomy. So, I'll keep working on it, but let's not push it.) And some of it is that we forget why we're doing what we're doing.

Today, I learned more than was jotted down in my planner. I hope to hold on to these lessons and use them before they slip away and I'm left wondering if I actually thought it, or just dreamed it, or if I'm plagarizing someone and going to lose my shirt over it.

Lesson I: Signs of encouragement:
* High-fives are a great way to say, "Good Job!"

* But a hug is even better for fostering smiles.

* Doing both will never hurt you, nor sap your day of precious time. Instead, the time spent : benefits received ratio is pretty darned high. It is guaranteed to benefit at least one, if not both parties involved.

* Encouragement is contagious, and the best way to spread it around is to just start in with it.

* If what you're doing isn't working, it's not necessarily the child.

* It's not necessarily you.

* It could actually be what you're doing.

Lesson II: Signs your child is bored and that it wouldn't hurt to change things around a bit:
* He's doing his math problems upside-down AND backward, and still getting the right answers.
* He's writing his answers in made up languages that only he can translate.
* With his non-dominant hand.
* In cursive.

Lesson III: Reminders that This Is Why We Homeschool:
* Wonderful friends who point out that you don't have to do every page, you know. If they don't get, try a new approach. But if they've got it, move on. (Residual Saxon guilt, I suppose. Thank you, LB!)
* Mastery vs. grades. I'm not assigning a grade until it's an "A". This does not mean they're going to coast and get straight "A" grades just because. It means the content they cover, they will know, and they will know it well. That is delightfully freeing.
* There is nothing wrong with asking a child how it's going, and then giving credence to what he/she has to say. Rather, that's the point, isn't it? How can we know if we don't ask, and how will they learn to articulate if we don't offer them the opportunity to do it in a safe and nourishing environment?

So today, there were Lessons for Mom tucked in among the worksheets and chants and stories. It was a good day for me, and tonight, for the first time in a long time, we gigled and laughed. We made sound effects and jokes and silliness. There were smiles and giggles and snorty guffaws. We needed that. We all did.

Kiss those babies!

Some things we take for granted

And I'm not talking about things like indoor plumbing and diaper rash cream. Those, we've learned to appreciate. Every waking hour. It's the little things, such as items we run out of so seldom that we forget that it takes a modicum of effort on our part to keep things running smoothly.

Coffee filters, for instance. You buy 10,000 and forget about it for six months. Then one morning you stumble into the kitchen to find your spouse surreptitiously stuffing coffee grounds into one of your knee-hi stockings.

Dish Detergent is another thing. I do not take our three-legged dishwasher for granted. It may hobble about, but I know what awaits me if that thing dies, and so I treat it very, very well. But the detergent? Not something I really notice until I run out and don't have an outing on the schedule for two days. MAN, we do a lot of dishes! And no, I'm not washing them by hand. I could, yes, but that might anger the Dishwasher Spirit into leaving it's ugly little shrine under the counter, and then I would cry.

Naps. No, I don't take those for granted. They rate up there with chocolate, foot rubs, and the bliss that is waking before my children. So, no, naps don't go on the taken for granted list. But they are nice, and therefore, worthy of mention whenever possible.

The presence of another adult in the house, though, now that one, I take for granted. Except, you know, when there isn't another adult in the house. And I'm "it". I don't have enough apendages to be "it"! Somehow, I managed to feed and dress the children (cake and whatever was clean, it's all good), tidy the house a bit (restacking the dirty dishes multiple times), triple check the shopping list to make absolutely certain we had dish detergent on the list (it was, twice, even), and scootch out the door in time to run almost half the errands we needed to get done yesterday. Of course, none of that is new. Zorak's usually gone by the time we are up and in need of sustenance, anyway. But at the end of the day, he's usually there to pat me on the head like you would a good coon dog, and mutter promises that tomorrow will go more smoothly.

Which brings me to: Getting Out the Door. HUGE thing I used to take for granted, once upon a time. It takes longer to get out the door these days. Thankfully, the days of grabbing my keys and wallet as I head for the door a mere five minutes after I've decided to go somewhere have faded into the mist of memory - right along with the intensity of childbirth, the deep pang of dry heaves on tequila, and grocery shopping trips with just a quaint little bag for all my supplies. I have to think really hard to remember that there was such a time, and even then, I'm so steeped in today that I cannot call up the sensation, or even a good visual anymore. It's probably a good thing, because the comparision might make me cry (harder than losing the dishwasher).

It seems we spend more time preparing to go somewhere than we do actually going anywhere. There's the inevitable missing shoe (are those things allergic to each other, that they cannot stay in the closet together?), the ever-important whatchamacallit that we need new batteries for (and somehow, we need to find and take with us in order to remember this?), the one-armed loading process (because Miss Emily evidently thinks I need a handicap for this event), the dog (who will not get in the car when he needs to, but keeps trying to get in any other time), the blank stare in response to my complicated demands (climb in, buckle up, let's go!), and the always fun hunt for the carseat carrier after those occasions we'd naively carried a sleeping Miss Emily, carrier and all, into the house, thinking she'd stay asleep. If our pastor's wife hadn't said the same thing last night, I'd probably be worried about this.

But some things I don't take for granted: the comfort of a head count five miles down the road (at least, when it comes back that all are present or at least accounted for); a chance to swing a child up and around as I lift him out of the car, just to hear his squeals and giggles; warm, chubby hands in mine as we walk along; the excitement of new batteries (although why nobody recommended we buy stock in Duracell before we had children, I will never understand); hearing "HOME! YAY!" as we pull back into the drive after a Very Long Day. And those things, among many others, make it all worth it.

So I'm learning not to take so much for granted these days.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, September 5


Learning never stops, does it? On my fourth child now, and I still forget things and learn new things. When we were at Dinosaur Adventure Land, they did some electricity demonstrations for the kids. The tour guide was great and kept the whole thing very hands on. Miss Emily sat happily, or at least patiently, in her sling, and I was completely tuned into the boys and their adventure. The guide turned off the lights, advised us to keep our eyes on the overhead fluorescents, turned on the Tesla coil, and
"HOLY MOTHER OF-- WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? WE'RE GOING TO DIE! If I could walk, I'd run! Why aren't YOU running woman? Go!Go!Go! I'm going to die! HELLLLLPPPPP! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Ohhh, yeah. I didn't stop to think what a shock that display would be to someone who, (a) couldn't understand a word that was said, (b) had no idea what was going on, when suddenly there's a leaping blue flame setting the ceiling aglow in the dark, joined by a loud crackling, surging, faintly terrifying sound... and the mass intake of breath from all the little observers. Right. Freaking. There. In front of me. Once it was turned off, she quit screaming instantly, but she was pretty torqued for about an hour after that. So, I was quite appreciative when the guide took the boys so they could enjoy the rest of the demonstration while Miss Emily and I watched from the relative safety of the outdoors.

Today was a great day, as mail goes. The boys new Copybooks and my Henle arrived. Part of the boys' Latin for Children arrived. I've been eyeballing the Henle all day, and wondering if I could bribe Steph Not in Texas to hold my hand for just a few more steps. It only took me two years to order it - so I figure I should get through lesson 1 in three or four months, right?

I find it ironic that I am now, in my mid-ish 30's, taking up Latin. It was offered at one of my high schools, but we were required to take a foreign language in 9th grade, which was still at the jr. high - and Latin was not offered at the jr. high. Graduation requirements stated that the two years of foreign language had to be two years in the same language, and we had to take a foreign language our Freshman year. Sooo... guess who refused to take Latin? Because that extra year of high school Spanish has served me so well, right? This is why we are not living on our own at the ripe old age of 14. We're idiots, and what's worse, we're myopic idiots. I'm not saying I'd have taken Latin if someone had explained the virtue and importance of pursuing Latin studies. But it'd be nice to know. More importantly, it's important to have our eyes on the years after that seemingly all-important ceremony. Learning doesn't end there. God willing, learning won't end at all, as long as we've breath to take. But it's the rare child who gets that at 14. I learned more Spanish working in various industries over the years after I graduated than I did in those two long years in high school. I've learned more math along the way, as well as slowly and painfully working on that slightly myopic view of the future. I'm also learning to be a better mother with every day. Thankfully.

Off to figure out which end is up!

Kiss those babies!


I spent the last part of this evening uploading photos, which has left me sans mental reserves to think up something creative. Or even mildly interesting. So, while these aren't Home Renovation Photos, they are Photos. I hope that counts. :-)

This is what the bigger two boys looked like during most of our time in Florida:

I'm not sure what was being said, but it doesn't look like she thought it was as funny as he did...

Once you can sit up on your own, the world is yours to enjoy!

John wasn't so sure about the zip line...

Neither was James...

But they went for it!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 4

We've been busy!

The bathroom door is now painted with two non-dripping coats of mildew resistant paint, in a lovely shade of... well, white. But it is a nice white. And it's shiny and easy to clean, too. It's the little things.

Next week's lesson plans are done. Now to put everything together. I panicked when I realized how many hands-on projects I'd penciled in. What was I thinking? It's going to be a long week, but if we can pull it off, just think how interactive and delightful it will be for the children! I can always brew the coffee double strength and jack up the creamer level.

The second closet in the nursery has shelves. They look nice, so clean and level. By tomorrow, hopefully, they'll be buried beneath all the cr-- er, supplies, we have in the school room.

And, judging by the look on James' face when I mentioned today that soon this house will look like a normal house, like his friends' homes do, it is clear to me that he still does not believe us, but has chosen silence as his particular mode of survival. Well, the voice may be quiet, but those eyebrows can say a lot! It'll be so nice when we can give that child a normal life. He really deserves it. He's been a trooper.

Promotion Sunday went well - John loves being in the 1st & 2nd grade class. He's feeling pretty big, now. James is happily snugged in among his favorite girls in the 3rd & 4th grade class, and they're assigning daily reading and study for the kids, which has him tickled three shades of pink.

Smidge didn't change classes for the fall. He'll remain as one of the "older kids", and that suited him just fine. He took off into his class without a second glance at us. It's his class now, and his room, and his teacher. And I'm glad. It was worth it to wait until they each were ready to go. We aren't big on saying, "This is how you raise children." There's a huge swath of acceptable options, and it's nobody's job to raise your children but you (or our children, us). But I have no trouble saying, without hesitation, "This is something we're glad we've done." There were no tears, no "adjustment periods". We feel that little guys shouldn't have to "adjust" to us not being there if they just honestly don't have to, and things like Sunday School or nursery are among the non-necessities. They aren't Have To's. The little ones will go when they're ready, and if they know we're there, it's easier for them to get ready.

I'm glad we've not buckled under the pressures, subtle and not-so-much-so, to let the children cry it out in the nursery. It wouldn't have been worth it, and it wouldn't have brought any of them closer to this point any more quickly. The path would have been strewn with tears, instead of warm memories. So, one more round of the, "yes I know you have a nursery, but I'll keep her with me" litany, and then we're done.

The day will come, all too soon, when Miss Emily bolts for the classroom door and flings her arms around Mrs. B in a joyful, gee-I've-missed-you embrace. It will be wonderful, when the time comes. But I'm in no hurry, for then my arms and my lap will be empty. There will be no more little heads to nestle my nose into while I listen to the study. There will be no spontaneous hugs, or quiet, conspiratorial nose rubs. No secreted and shared mints, no wild toddler doodles on my study notes at the end of my Sunday mornings. It will be quiet, and still. Very still. Which is good, in its own way, but why rush it? It will come soon enough, no?

Kiss those babies. They just don't stay babies for long.

Sunday, September 3

Overheard and Remodel Stuff

"Look, Mom," James calls to me from beside Emily, who was perched on a pillow, "A plate of laughter with a side of smiles!"

Smidge, after story time tonight: "I want to be three."

John, explaining how he knew we were having pizza for supper: "I figured it out because I'm smart... and *giggle* I peeked."


We've kicked ourselves back into gear on the house. We have simply got to get this finished. So, today we:

* Laid out the shelving plan for the second closet in the nursery.
* Hung a door in the guest room. (See, if you come stay with us for one month, you get walls. If you stay for two, you get a door! Poor Ward.)
* Painted the bathroom door.
* Laid out the plans to frame out the new bath and storage closet in the basement.
* Cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.

We're in full live-in sprawl mode right now, and that's made it difficult to keep making progress on the actual work. Things get set in unpainted windowsills, and when I have time to paint, I find that I don't have the time to move, clean, paint, and then find a home for all the other stuff before somebody needs to be fed, cleaned, or loved on. So. Not much gets done.

Same thing with this last room. There simply isn't anywhere to put the stuff that has landed in here. I suppose we could stack it all on the dining table and eat around it... or, stuff it under the beds and then buy duplicates when we forget where we've put it all... or set in on fire. Yeah, I'm at that point.

Back away from the clicky torchy thing, Dy... just back away. It'll be alright.

The general game plan now is that we'll finish building stuff this weekend (shelving for the closet, toy shelf, printer stand). Then, while Zorak's gone next week, the kids and I will clear out the school room and further organize things. Next weekend is Smidge's birthday, so we'll focus on that, but the following week will be my trim assault mission (hopefully, I will not be staring at a partially trimmed ceiling in five years - this is my hope), culminating in a weekend (what is that, the 15th?) where we will do the wiring and walls in the school room.

And then (THEN!) we can make the final selection on flooring! WOOHOO! I told the boys I'm buying each of them a Swiffer when we get flooring laid. :-) They're almost as excited as I am. With Zorak's traveling, and our sprawl, it's going to be rough just to meet that three-week timeline, but I think we can do it. The weather's cool and breezy. The air feels relatively dry, and eventually I will get to bed before two AM. What a glorious day that will be, no?

Kiss those babies!