Monday, May 29

Ahhh, relief!

I second Andie's sentiment: God bless the Hyland's folks!! Some of the family got a kick out of it over the weekend, so the running joke is "What's a little belladonna among friends?" I am so glad we're not wire tapped, you know? Anyway, I don't know if the little blue chemical-filled teething ring will survive the gnawing she's giving it, but thanks to the Hyland's folks, we will. OH yeah, life is good.

All is well on this end. Balto dog is going to make a very good dog one day. He's been introduced to several other critters over the past week or so - ranging from pups his size to small older dogs, a couple of chihuahuas and a newly mobile kitten - and he's done quite well. We honestly didn't know how he would do, and there's always that little bit of nervous energy (ok, gut-wrenching anxiety) over whether you've got the dog that simply feels no other animals should be allowed to live in his presence. But no, he's quite sociable, it seems. Yay, Balto Dog! (Still tick-free, too! Yay, Dr. English!!)

So much has been going on here, yet when I sit down to write I can't always think how to put it together - some has to wait a bit (family stuff), some just isn't that interesting (I dyed my hair red), and some of it would sound pretty odd (as in, she's drinking, isn't she?) if I shared it before I shared the rest of it.

So, brief highlights:

Humidity - my hair actually likes it, and evidently so does my skin. Still not thrilled about needing an anti-wrinkle cream with non-comedogenic zit preventer, but what can I do about that, other than complain?

Small Legos - the Marquis de Sade's own personal Montessori School. It's the next phase in parental torture through child play!

Hand-me-downs from someone who actually likes to shop - WOW, that is so much fun!

UPS - I love UPS. *heart* (I don't know how to make the symbol appear in blogger.)

Grass - if you're from the Southwest, guess what - grass can (and will) grow on its own down here! Even if you don't water it! Even if you let the kids play on it! And from where we stand, that is downright terrifying.

"Two half" is the cutest, sweetest little way of saying, "Why, yes, I'm two and a half years old, thank you." Maybe it's the smile that follows, or the little shrug of his shoulders. Whatever it is, it makes me feign total ignorance of how old he is, just to hear him say it again.

And we've gotta get a pool! *whew*

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 24


Don't you love the things that make you chuckle? Gretchen's comment yesterday got me thinking about that (by the way, Gretchen - can you email me? I can't find your addy. Thanks!)

There are so many things that make me chuckle ~ Smidge's vocabulary, John's uncoordination, James' insistence that time travel is possible if only we could... *insert new theory here*

They make my head spin sometimes, all three of them, but they also make me smile, make me feel warm and fuzzy, make me stop and enjoy this beautiful garden I'm tending. I think I smile more now than I ever did before I became a parent. What a great change to make in one's life!

Miss Emily seems to be teething. Or she has developed a hard-core Prima Dona attitude toward life, the universe and everything. Not to mention her particular frustration toward her servants erm, family. But we think it's just teething. And I think I'd rather it be a 'tude - a bad attitude, we can correct, but teething we're just going to have to weather. *WHINE* She's not any happier about the process, though, either, and just now (after four in the afternoon) she passed out for her first real nap of the day. I called Zorak and, thankfully, he will pick up some Hyland's on the way home. Nothing like a good narcotic to make things all better (said in my best sing-song voice).

Zorak's cousin's daughter (did I loose ya?) headed out to the Great Northwest this week. She's off on a great adventure, and already has several job interviews awaiting her there. This is exciting, as we've watched her grow and mature over the years. But then it got a bit weird when Zorak and I realized she is now the age I was when he and I met. YIKES! How'd THAT happen? NO NO NOOOO! *sigh* But they don't listen... :-) Ah, well, she is doing so well and is off to a great start. (But just for the record, I'm not aging at the same rate she is... okay? Just so we're all clear.)

Well, I know this is short, but Smidge and Miss Emily are sleeping, John is outside playing, and James has been waiting patiently for a few days for just such an opportunity to play a little Snakes and Ladders with Mom. In this case, I'm Mom, and so that means I'd better get off here and go pick my color before I end up at the end of the line! Have a great afternoon, and enjoy those babies - in every way you can, and all the chuckles they bring.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 22

Blogging Fast!

As in "refraining from", rather than "doing so quickly". Yeah, the ambiguity of the title hit me four paragraphs later. This is my brain - this is my brain on wine. No, I'm not drunk, but I did entertain the idea of writing the entire entry in "buzz lisp", just for fun. Does punch drunk count? So, eesh, talk about just falling off the face of the earth. Suffice it to say, when there's no blogging getting done, there is plenty of actual *work* getting done. Boring as that translates to type, it is pretty good stuff.

John has matching bruises on his forehead now. I'm not sure how he got the full set, but it could have happened at any point in the last few days. I could tell even he saw the pattern when he came to me and said in an exasperated voice, "Mom, I hit my head AGAIN!" Sure do hope his skull is nice and thick, as it doesn't seem like he's going to be easing up on it anytime soon.

Update on the Frontline tick medicine... *angels sing the Hallelujah Chorus* WOW oh, wow, Balto has been tick-free for nearly a week! Six blissful days of rolling in the grass, wrestling with the boys, and still being allowed back inside at the end of the day. I think the humans aren't the only ones who are thrilled with this stuff.

The boys went swimming today and -- OKAY, so who has my real children? Huh? Seriously, these are good imitations, but not mine -- they both swam under water, crawled on the bottom (granted, the shallow water, but still - voluntarily submerged themselves and stayed there). Didn't plug their noses. You can try, but there's always going to be some giveaway that'll tip us off to the changelings left in our midst. Seriously, though, it was an occasion for high-fives all-around. I think this may be a banner year for John, too, if he will quit accepting visits from the Bad Idea Fairy. (That's a whole other blog entry unto itself, by the way. He has taken the whole "I'm Six" thing to an HNL, folks - God help us.)

So, in-all, things are going well. We haven't heard anything yet from the people, but they have ten days to contact us after their people's last day and so on and so forth and then you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself about... um, something like that. Whatever. I'm good with the whole "no news is a cliche, but one I'm willing to run with". Yay!!

This sweet baby girl is needing to be moved (she feels like she weighs a ton, although we buy potatoes and onions in larger weights - what's up with that?)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, May 18

Quick Note:

We found a pediatrician! He rocks. We are THRILLED. Not only is he totally competent and well-versed, he is willing to let the parents take the lead, views it as a team thing, and he's open 7 days a week! AND he's on our insurance.

Can I just say I think I'm in love???

That's it. That was all it took today to totally make our day.

Miss Emily has just about doubled her birth weight - she's now at 12 pounds, 12 ounces. She's growing just fine and things look wonderful. Happy little girl. So bright-eyed and sweet, but I am very thankful she is healthy and strong.

I'm off to kiss my babies!!


Well, when you do things like that...

*sigh* John has completely overcome his fear of the bike. Yes, he has. And he has on his forehead a goose egg the size of a silver dollar to prove it. One would expect he received this noble badge from riding down the hill...

through the meadow grass (that now comes to the windows on the Suburban)...

smack into the back side of the barn (yes, in-to, lovely, eh?)

But, no. Astonishingly, he walked away from that one unscathed. It seems the actual injury came in the form of a Very Stupid Dog who thinks if he stops directly in front of the bike, the bike will be intimidated and stop, as well. Evidently not. The dog was not harmed (nor did he learn his lesson) and God bless John, he got right. back. on. Personally, I'd have milked that baby for a couple of otter pops and a movie on the couch. But he was all about getting back out there and trying again. He's going to make a fine man one day.

Tonight was the last night of Pioneer Club. They break over the summer, and while the boys are somewhat disheartened by the break, I'm absolutely thrilled. That's 90 miles round trip (plus an additional 50, if you add in the wrong turn I took tonight - we were nearly to the TN border before I realized what, precisely, was wrong). Yes, I am thankful for the break. The Suburban will be, too, I'm sure. Perhaps we can make Wednesdays our Special Outing days - field trips, school at the river, things that can be done within, say, 12 miles of the house.

Smidge went to his class and when it was over, he was the first one out. He came bolting down the hallway, all smiles and enthusiasm. Change is hardly ever fun, but familiarity just downright breeds joy, pure joy, in a two year old. He is so proud of all he's done, and couldn't wait to show me everything in his little bag - his sash, his cup o' crayons, his Jonah book. I think there were some edibles in there at one point. Either that, or his teacher gave him a bag with crumbs in it, but I'm betting he just got to the goodies before he found me.

We're making huge headway on the Forever Home. I didn't realize just how much progress we'd actually made until I cleaned the place this evening. Wow, that's... embarrassing. But still, in the light of day tomorrow it will feel invigorating and motivating! (Remind me of this tomorrow night when I'm dragging --- again, okay?)

The Frontline seems to be working. Baltoid hasn't had any ticks for the last twelve hours! WOW! (Just think how wonderful it will be when we get the meadow bush hogged again!)

And on the Wonderful News front: Zorak has received a promotion at work. Yay! Same job description, but different pay band. He was so sweet, and so humble about it. I, however, am thoroughly proud of him. He's such a hard worker. He's honest and loyal to his company, and he always does his best to represent them well. After some of the antics he's been subjected to in the past (prior to going back to school), it feels very good to see him working in a place that values his efforts and lets him know as much. It does my heart good, and doesn't hurt his any, either. :-)

Tomorrow's a busy, busy day, and I'm up way too late (yet again - it's an illness, I tell ya!) Have a fantastic Thursday, and as always,

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 17

Poems and Adventures

I have two phrases stuck in my mind tonight. One is "plod, plod, plod" and the other is "tiddly-pom". Both have me smiling like a goof. Milne always makes me think of the children, and the Wonder that is childhood - and that, naturally makes me smile. I've no idea where the plodding comes from, unless it's just my inner self making up a poem to match the cadence of my mind lately. Thankfully, though, I seem to be the only one plodding along. While I'm sitting back, basking in the thrill of getting two whole windows finished today, everyone else in the house is just whizzing about, doing new things and making wonderful headway.

James has devoured several books that have found their way upstairs. He's having a blast. He's moving into tougher material and actually enjoying the challenge, too. Tonight, Zorak suggested he start a list of the words he comes across that he doesn't know - write them down and then look them up in the morning. My little list-maker jumped on the idea. What a great plan! Um, except that the dictionary wasn't one of the books we've found so far... Guess I'll be spending time in the basement tomorrow morning.

John came to me this afternoon, suited up in helmet and pads, and said, in this great James Lovell voice, "Alright, Mom. I need your help." It was late last summer, about a week before we closed on the house, that John ditched the training wheels on his bike. For all his knightly bravery and adventuresome spirit, riding that bike just struck fear in his wee, armor-clad heart. So, he managed to do it -- then we left the sidewalks of the apartment for the wagon-riding hills of the Forever Home... and he hasn't been on his bike since. By the time we had the opportunity to ride with him again, he'd lost his handle on it and instead was, himself, firmly in the iron grip of Fear. (Fear of what? No clue, couldn't articulate it - just your general, all-purpose Fear.) I don't know what prompted him today, but he'd steeled himself for it and was ready to go. Of course, he nailed it in just a few minutes, and the only "help" I needed to offer was just being there as an encouraging presence. But overcoming Fear usually has nothing to do with our actual abilities. It was pretty amazing to watch the transformation. He went from being completely gripped by Fear, with dogged determination to Enthusiasm, Confidence and finally, Total Enjoyment. Yay, Little One!! He informed me before bed that tomorrow he'll ride *before* breakfast. Love that stuff.

Smidge talked to his Granny tonight. He asked to call her, so I thought we'd give it a shot. She doesn't speak Elvish, but it's the thought that counts, right? Well, whaddya know, they had a pretty good conversation and when I got on the phone with her, she asked who that was. When I told her it was Smidge, she just squealed with delight! "OH! I thought it was one of the older boys! I could understand everything he said!" Way to go, Smidge!!

I had a front row seat to some pretty amazing stuff today. New adventures, new accomplishments, and I got to witness them. There isn't a paying job in the world that could compete with the pay and benefits of this one! I love it.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 14

Well, that worked out well...

I planned to get a lovely picture of all the children by the pond at church. I wanted one I could post here, for Granny (Zorak's Mom), along with a Happy Mother's Day wish from her loving grandchildren...

When we left the house (on time, no less), everyone looked so nice. John wore a yellow shirt with his suit, James went a bit more casual with Dockers and a button-up shirt - still nice, very springy. Smidge patiently submitted to the perpetually adorable clothing that's easy to find in size 3T and under, and Miss Emily donned an exquisite little gown sent by one of our Invisible Friends.

We got to church after a pleasant Sunday morning drive. It was lovely: nobody fought, nobody cried. Bliss. Then, as my children piled out of the Suburban, Circus Clown Style, I realized something had gone horribly amiss.

John's shirt was no longer yellow, but pink and yellow, James' hair stood completely on end, Smidge's face was covered in some... foreign, chocolatey looking substance (please let it be chocolate, I prayed), and Miss Emily had evidently been mauled by a large, drooling varmint which left her gown completely saturated in spittle.

I thought we'd all traveled in the same car...

Ah, well, that's okay.

Zorak's gift to me today was that he came to church with us. And as an added bonus, he didn't fall asleep. Granted, sitting in the front row can do wonders for your ability to stay awake. Not only can the pastor see, specifically, if you're praying or faking it, but without another row of seats in front of us, it takes some creative effort to keep the Free Range Toddler from scaling the podium or dissipating into a disco frenzy during the hymns. Never a dull moment in the House O' The Lord, I'll tell ya!

The boys have been anxiously counting down the days until Mother's Day. They wrote something on a piece of paper, then sealed it inside an empty Kleenex box. That box has been the answer to most of my inquiries into the unusual behavior the boys have exhibited lately. And that box contained "my gift". Occasionally (usually when I'm nursing the baby and too intoxicated with oxytocin to get up and investigate) I've heard squeals of laughter and the sound of running water from somewhere in the house. When I've asked what was up, I'd hear simply, "It's in your box." So, not only out of sheer morbid curiosity, but also a sincere desire to know whether we needed to upgrade our homeowner's insurance, I was quite anxious to open "the box" today.

Their gift to me was to let me in on a little secret. They've been plunging the toilet... just for fun.

Maybe I should have opted for breakfast in bed...

Tonight, while the boys pretended to ready themselves for bed (I know better - even inebriated, it doesn't make that much noise to get your jammies on), Zorak worked on more window trim and I cleaned the guest room to make way for BOOKS! (This was a little treat for myself.) I brought up eleven boxes of books, and let me tell you, it was like Christmas. When you're six. And you have been good ALL YEAR! Wow. I was never that good, so this was a new experience for me. But still, thoroughly enjoyable.

I think the only thing that topped my joy at unearthing all the delightful titles one at a time was hearing James' giggling gasp of happiness - and the ongoing rush of enthusiasm (think the lady on The Price is Right who hyperventilates when she wins the grand prize that she actually wanted) as he perused the newly stocked shelf for bedtime reading. He said, "This is like the library, only with too many choices!"

We read, and laughed, and giggled. I cleaned and sorted and laughed some more. It's quiet now, another day gone. Another day enjoyed. What more could I wish for? Besides many more like this one. Perhaps without the color-changing shirts, though.

And Granny, if you're reading this, WE LOVE YOU! HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! Thank you for raising the man that is such a wonderful husband and father. Thank you for sharing him with me. And I will get you a picture of all the children, hopefully all looking the same general direction, soon. I promise.

Kiss those babies,

Saturday, May 13

My First Mother's Day

Eight Der-de-der, SEVEN years ago (Thank you, Shannon!), we took my Mom out for a Mother's Day breakfast. We ate at the Iron Horse in Chino Valley, AZ. Also affectionately known at "The Metal Mule" - no, it's not the champage brunch at the Hilton, but they do manage to find the all-out best cooks in the area! James was um, (yes, I'm pausing to count. yes, on my fingers. hush.) eight months old. He fell asleep just before the food arrived, and Zorak held him. I ate my meal with a napkin in my lap and used both hands. I even finished it while it was still hot. That breakfast is still on my top ten list of great meals. It was a wonderful Mother's Day.

Tomorrow, around oh, perhaps noon, there will be thousands of men trekking their way out to the dog house. And there will be an approximately equal number of women in some state of unpleasantness, glaring at the backside of their little pound puppies. Now, I'm going to wax philosophical for a sec, but please don't tune me out. Just bear with me and I think you'll see where I'm going with this.

I can't speak for the women who do expect flowers, breakfast in bed, jewelry, and other shows of appreciation. I'm not one of them - flowers are nice, but I don't take care of them and they end up dropping nasty bits all over my counter and the water is always grey and fuzzy and quite smelly by the time I give up and dump them out. That's just gross.

I don't want food in my bed. Have you ever tried eating anything with four children galumpfing about on a bed? It's not pretty, and there isn't enough Shout! in the world to get that much bacon grease out of a mattress pad. Just give me a cup of coffee out on the back deck and five minutes for my pupils to dilate properly and we'll call it good, okay?

Jewelry, I love. I do. But I like the stuff I can wear all the time because if it's just for special occasions, I'll get desperate and want to wear them while I'm washing the Sunday clothes and really, who am I fooling? And if it's good, but I wear it all the time, I'm going to lose it. I just will. And then I'll feel bad and end up trying to pawn a spare child for a replacement diamond and, well, that just looks bad in court. So, for practicality purposes, jewelry is out.

This is just me. But there are women who do expect X, Y and/or Z to be delivered. And they're heartbroken and wrathful when it is not delivered. I think the best advice I can think of includes some words of wisdom I read on a homeschooling message board, combined with a philosophy I try to bear in mind daily, anyway.

(1) Be proactive. Don't hedge around and hope that the mortal you married has gleaned supernatural powers at his last management seminar. If you must, set money aside in the budget, give the kids a list and an envelope of cash, and send them to the store with hubby and very. clear. instructions. No, he didn't learn last year, and if you're going on year ten and it's still not in his nature to remember these things, please don't expect this year to be different. In his defense, this only comes once a year. In that time, a lot has happened: teeth have been lost, gas prices have fluxuated wildly, there have been birthdays, Christmas, Easter, mortgage payments... heck, we women can grow -- and birth -- an entire human in less time than the span between Mother's Days!

(2) This is really about motherhood, right? Well, we're fortunate to be the ones in charge of mothering, which involves training. I like to use the phrase, "My daughters-in-law will thank me for this." It reflects the training I try to do daily, whether it be teaching the boys to put their shoes away, hang up towels, clear their spots, hold the door for ladies, or not pass gas on purpose at the dinner table. Being thoughtful and willing to show appreciation is one of the things I try to instill in them. Now, whether they marry women who like to be Queen For A Day, or women who'd rather have a general all-purpose appreciative tone year-round is up to them. But I will have done my part. Yay me! (I'm still formulating the bits for, "My future son-in-law will thank me for this." But Miss Emily is young, and I'm still in the psychotically blissful grace period with her.)

Fortunately for Zorak, who took six years to remember the year of my birth, and another two to get the day of the month right, I don't want much more than a hug, a kiss, and a "Happy Mother's Day" from the boys and Zorak. I get celebrated daily in this house, and it's really nice.

Ah, ah, ahhh. Come back. I'm not saying that the odor emanating from the fridge is a celebration of motherhood. To be perfectly truthful, my fridge had funky odors before I had children. I just had a much better chance of finding the source of the odor back then.

Yes, a card is nice. Sure, doing something of my choosing is nice. But I am loved and needed and appreciated every time I sit on the couch and my lap, shoulders, and head are suddenly bombarded by small ones clamboring for a spot on Mom. (It used to be for a spot on my lap, but now any appendage with a landing surface seems to do.) No, *I* don't always appreciate those moments, but then, that's my issue, not theirs. *They* are showing that they appreciate me.

Every time the children come to ME to show me what they've found, or drawn, or read, they are celebrating motherhood with me.

Every time they ask me what I think, or "what if", or just ramble on to be in touch with me in some way, they're savoring me, The Mama.

Every time I get a hug-for-no-reason, there really is a reason: because I'm Mom. It's like drawing dividends year round on an investment.

Every "please" and every "thank you" I don't have to pull from their distracted little minds - whew, love that!

Every time Zorak has to leave town, and he knows that his children are in good hands, he's celebrating motherhood. My motherhood.

The fact that I'm the Mom, and that I am appreciated, is a given. That's kind of nice. And it beats only getting the special treatment once a year. It beats wrangling the Joneses for Best Mother's Day Gift. It beats giving money to Hallmark.

But there is nothing - no diamond big enough, no weekend quiet enough, no spa-certificate-I'll-never-use-before-it-expires elaborate enough, to beat eating a meal with a napkin on my lap, using both hands, and maybe even enjoying a cup of coffee on the back deck afterword. And just maybe, if I'm lucky, nobody will intentionally pass gass while I'm eating.

Kiss those babies!

House Whispering

We tried to ignore it. Individually, we each treated it like a mild hallucination. Hallucinations, we can handle. But, no. The house has been telling us both the same thing, and tonight we had to admit it. I suppose this is what happens when you've bought FrankenHouse. Or when you stay up way too late drinking. Coffee. Either way, it has spoken and we have heard, and we're now looking at... *deep breath* an addition.

It'll be okay. We'll take it slowly. We'll do the work ourselves. (Der.) And... ok, what? Were we just too close to being done? Things lookin' a little too lax here at the Forever Home? What is with this house? Well, alright, FINE. We'll give it the addition. But I can tell you right here and now that I don't care how much it begs, we're not, I repeat NOT, adding a second floor or an inground pool! (Which, actually, that's easy enough to say because it doesn't want either. But, I digress.)

We do both feel better now that that's out in the open. We can move forward and scrap a few things we've been trying to force. Anyhow, if the scanner will work, I'll try to upload the drawings and give y'all a peek at what's in the works. And this time, I'm doing pictures as we go (because they won't be nearly as terrifying as the renovation pictures were). This will also require that I get on it and update y'all with "after" photos of the rest of the house. You know, so it doesn't look like we're adding on to... that.

In other news:
* Balto goes in Monday for a thorough vet check, and we will hopefully bring him home tick-free. Joy! Elation!

* We may have found a pediatrician for Smidge and Miss Emily. The receptionist registered a 6 on the Richter Scale upon learning that Miss Emily hasn't seen "ANYone???" (said just like that, with a high-pitched catch in her voice), but she didn't seem phased when I mentioned that I'd "like to discuss vaccination plans with the doctor". (Perhaps there is a benefit to shocking them with the homebirth first and then slipping vaccines in during the aftermath?) Anyhow, I got his name off a billboard, and he's the only pediatrician out of the 20+ I've contacted who is accepting new patients. This could go any of a number of ways.

* You know, I thoroughly enjoy my children. 99% of the time the boys are beautifully behaved in public. Then there's that 1%. That's inevitably the one that gets me. This is a universal parenting point, too, as I've heard similar stories from other parents. Your kids are just great, and they're so good for such extended periods of time that when they do go off the deep end (and God help you when they do it en masse), it catches you off guard. You're immobilized in your shock. Do you sedate them on the spot? Start screaming at them in Spanish? Pretend they aren't yours? I still don't know what the correct answer is, but the *calm, pleasant, please-don't-call-child-protective-services* tone was pretty ineffectual today. So the next time you're out in public and you see a irate white woman screaming Spanish slang at her herd of clueless anglo children, say hi, will ya? I'd love to hear from you.

* Busy weekend coming up, so blogging may be light. (Or it may be heavy - that depends on just how hard I work to get out of the projects at hand.)

Kiss those babies, and remember that no matter how big they may seem now, they will never again be as little as they are today.


Thursday, May 11

Not feeling quite so guilty now...

You know, I really felt a bit guilty when I forked over the cash that would allow us to exit the building without a getaway car yesterday. We had so much fun picking out books that... well, it adds up, you know. However, today I received absolution! The workbooks and other great titles were a HUGE hit today. I feel like inserting some Latin blessing right about... here. We interspersed the workbooks with our regularly scheduled day: laundry, Calvin Ball, picnics (spent a lot of time outside today, guarding the wash from the stoopid dog), learning and reading.

I did have to force James outside to play ball with us. He'd come out for a bit, then slip inside, ostensibly to use the bathroom, and I'd come in twenty minutes later (ostensibly for more coffee, but who am I kidding? I needed a break!) to find him hunched over the book, giggling maniacally as he wrote out equivalent fractions for each of the problems. No, nothing he was working on asked for equivalent fractions. He just thought that would be fun. On the upside, it looks like I won't have to teach him how to handle mixed fractions. He said, "Hey, Mom, check this out! If you just divide the fraction, you can get a mixed number! And you can switch it back by multiplying it." Hey, that's pretty cool... where did it show you that? "Oh," he says, "It didn't, but that's how it works, see?"

OK, that's just plain wrong.

John saw that I'd grabbed a copy book for him that involves more writing than he's been doing. I was hesitant, as reading and writing haven't come as easily to him as they did to James. Pfft. I am a dork! He was thrilled. I mean absolutely thrilled. (What is WRONG with these children?) Anyhow, I had a pile of worked planned for him already today, so he had to hold off on that until tomorrow, but he's chomping at the bit. He laid out the book, sharpened his pencil and placed it in the pencil cup just before bed tonight. He did get to wallow in a mazes book, though, and that was a lot of fun. Or it sounded like it, anyway.

Now, Smidge's reaction, I get. At least more than I get the other two. He got a tracing book. OK, yeah, that's fun. Of course, in another life, I used to enjoy sprawling out on the floor with a PB&J sandwich, a box of crayons, a coloring book... and a beer. So I can vouch that he comes by this honestly. I did purchase presentation books at Wally World the other day, so the maze book is going to be dismantled and inserted into the page protectors. He's two - he won't realize right away that he's done the same ten mazes every day for two weeks. And if/when he does finally catch on, well, I've got a whole book I can rotate out! He is currently my most cost-effective child.

I'm not getting excited until I have a receipt in my hot little hands, but I've heard rumors of a s-t-a-c-k-a-b-l-e that may be adopted by a loving family sometime soon. (*shhhhh* Don't jinx it by actually saying anything, okay? Thanks.)

Oh, and the cobbler? YUM! I couldn't even tell it was wheat-free! YAY! Still can't get Zorak to try any, but that's okay. This is so good I'd take it to a potluck and not feel compelled to tell anyone it's wheat-free. And that's saying something.

Well, I just might make it to bed before three if I stop talking right now and finish this cup of coffee. It's worth a try.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 10

Sometimes You've Just Gotta Do It

Get dressed.

Load everyone into the car.


I've been slacking lately, which isn't anything particularly new. But I haven't really cared that I've been slacking, either. That's new. And if I'd cared to give it any thought beyond, "Huh, that's strange." I may have recognized it a little sooner and headed it off at the pass. But I didn't care to, and so I wallowed in it a bit before really deciding to tackle it.

Jess affirmed today my suspicion that a little St. John's Wart and a day trip around town might do wonders. I love having friends who only laugh at me mildly when I do something truly goofy like this. :-)

So we hit BAM, leaving poor Zorak out of it, and had a delightful time. The boys stocked up on a little science, some history, a book of maps, and some fiction. I snagged a few things for Smidge, and some workbooks just for fun. Yes, my child actually did a happy dance when he saw the title, "Decimals, Fractions & Percents" in the basket. I don't get it, but I'm not about to question it, either. I did manage to walk straight out of there without the ONE book I really wanted to pick up: Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book. Guess that means we'll have to go back, right? But the boys had fun, Miss Emily talked to everyone who would make eye contact, and I mentally rolled around in the grassy knowledge that my love of books has been inherited by my children. Happy Mommy!

Tonight we dined at home (forecast called for severe storms until midnight, and I just wasn't up for traversing the bridge in the dark in a storm - call me a weenie, that's fine, but we stayed home). ANYWAY, we enjoyed homemade hot wings, fried potatoes, steamed broccoli and sweet tea. (See? We're beginning to blend!) I made a peach cobbler for dessert. The boys really went to town on it. Zorak was too stuffed right after supper, and I was busy getting Miss Emily down, so we haven't tried it. But it does look lovely, so perhaps I'll go give it a taste test in a bit and see how it is.

And to answer the million dollar question: no, I'm not forty. Yet. (Who knew that would be the thing folks caught? *wink*) But it's coming. I suppose I was fortunate enough to turn around early on and realize that it's just flying by. When forty does come, it won't be a shock. Even if it does have a small "brace yourself" factor, it still won't be nearly the shock that some other things have been. And it hasn't been about me in a long, long time. I picked forty intentionally, for two reasons, mostly. One, I know that most young mothers (early 20's?) don't realize how quickly the next twenty years are going to pass - you do turn around and *poof*, the years have gone. But mostly, because in my mind, as opposed to turning 30, it carries with it a sense of being centered; taking the time to pause, reflect, recollect, and then get back with the program. I often think we, as women in our society, don't develop the sense to do that properly before forty. So it was a nod to wisdom and grace, and I raise my coffee cup in a toast: may we all turn around and be forty!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 9

And then you turn forty.

That's it. That's how it happens. One minute, you own matching jeans/boots in a full array of colors and then everything you own comes in two color choices: primary, and spitup. Eventually you graduate into crayon and dry erase, but you have to work for those options. They don't just hand 'em out to anyone, you know.

One day, it's all about highlighting the eyes - draw attention to your best features and really make 'em "pop". And then, a few years down the road, you realize your best feature is only two feet tall and randomly sticks his hand down strangers' shirts. Yes, the eyes are gettin' a bit crinkly around the edges, and so you play off the lecherous-but-cute angle with exuberance (because as long as they're looking at the kid, you appear normal -- you know, from a distance...)

For a while, it's all about you - what you want, who you are, where you're going. Then comes this humongous detour. It's so big, you have no idea how you didn't see it coming (and most of us don't), but the road's not paved. There are no maps! Everybody is barreling down the path full steam ahead, tanked up on caffeine and completely sleep deprived. And you panic. Because weren't we told to expect that the path to the future had been... paved, at least? The job, the career, the husband, the children, the tan, the perfect gravity-free breasts, and the maid?

What do you do when you're bumping down this detour of Parenthood and you suddenly find that your goals, your dreams, your aims, your values - in general, your entire job description for Parenthood is diametrically opposed to what you'd envisioned down that paved, four-lane highway? Instinctively, you want to reconcile the two. Soon, before you run out of gas out there in the boonies.

So you put out the SOS, and people reply. But their input varies widely. Some encourage you to follow what you know in your heart to be right for your family. Some people insist that if you aren't feeling martyred, you're just not working hard enough. Some may even encourage you to ditch that whole "instinct" hoopla and just turn around, drag the kids back onto the highway and keep going as if nothing's changed. The status quo awaits and they'll keep the light on for ya. And yet others nod slowly and back away, muttering something about stocking up on condoms. Whose advice do you take?

Well, I'm not even going to pretend that I am unbiased when it comes to this point. Obviously, I have a skewed perspective on things. We're bumping along the dirt path with kids and a dog hanging out every open window, still sleep-deprived and overly-caffeinated. Nobody will admit to being in charge of navigation, but we both do a head count before we head out and again when we arrive. (We don't care where we are, as long as everybody makes it.) But we've met others along the way and have a pretty great caravan of fellow travelers. We stop at all the Historic Markers, let the kids pee on the side of the road, take pictures, eat whatever we find in the cushions and glovebox of the Suburban, hop back in and head off to the next adventure. Is this what we envisioned? Um, no. It's harder. And it's better. And it's far richer than any measly plans we concocted all those years ago. And when I'm feeling small. Or inadequate. Or even just a little selfish, I turn to the One Person who really has all the facts and all the insight into why we do what we do: Zorak. More than anybody else on the face of this planet, he is the best one for reminding me that it's all good. That we're okay, and that this is GREAT. And I am his best resource, too. Because it's OUR family. Just like your family is YOURS. And THEIR families are THEIRS. And when you're afraid you're going to turn around and find that suddenly you're twice the age you were the last time you checked, the best person for a pre-flight check is your partner and fellow traveler. The rest of us may have the best of intentions, but we may not always be on the same wavelength.

We believe that in the end, the detour is short. It is, undeniably, life-changing. But it's short. One day we will be handed back our days, to do with as we please. We will be given all the time in every year hence to travel, conquer the world, write novels, run for obscure offices in small counties. Whatever. And I can say with certainty that we won't look back and say, "Wow, I sure wish we'd have gotten more sleep that week that John was so sick," or "Boy howdy, homeschooling the kids worked out so well, but why didn't we just put them in daycare?" And it's safe to say that at least some of those days we get to ourselves in the next season will be spent calling "the kids" to see what they're up to, to take the grandbabies to the park, to invite everyone to come for supper (you know, that one meal of the day I can never figure out what to do with now? Yep, the same one.) I don't want there to be any irony at that point.

But the beginning is hard. Sometimes you feel like you got the junker car and it must be push-started every. single. time. Sometimes you feel like you meant to go North and you think you're going North, but the compass keeps saying Southeast. Sometimes you feel like there are so many bumps and detours-upon-detours that you'd get there (wherever that may be) faster if you got out and walked. But you know, you'll never gain momentum if someone is always getting out to walk. It's the continuous, focused, team effort to Life and Parenthood that gets the junker going in the right direction. And once you've got momentum, a map, a plan, and the ability to enjoy the scenery, you'll find that it's a great trip! It's most likely not the one you laid out in your heart of hearts way back when, but it's great. And like I said before, it's short.

So, bare bones survival list for the whole Parental Detour thing:
___Someone to watch your back, cover your butt, and love you through it. (And vice versa.)
___A vision, and the flexibility to blend it with n other visions (n being the number of folks involved in your journey.)
___Sense of humor.
___Graciousness to handle the truly embarrassing things and come away without making anyone, including yourself, feel bad. (The boob-happy two year old mentioned above is nothing compared to other delightful surprises that await you!)

We are still SO new to this journey - only eight years into it. We have a lot more to learn, and probably a lot of things to add to our survival kit. We do get wonderful suggestions, tips, and BTDT insight from others, but we have also come to turn immediately to one another when there's a question of which way to go, or a concern that we might run out of gas before we hit the next stop. We've learned that there are those who will always be honest, and those who will always push their agendas. There are those who will blow smoke, and those who will be lovingly open. We've learned to trust that, too, and one another.

So, just a word or so of encouragement to those who find themselves on the detour and wonder if it really will be worth taking. It will be, just stick together.

Kiss those babies!

My, how you've grown~

Oh, Miss Emily, you've gotten so big!

Kiss those babies!



Well, I thought I'd get quite creative and try refilling our ink cartridges. In the past four hours, I have not accomplished my goal, but I have learned much. Here's what I've learned:

Epson is a vile company that makes lousy products.

Crafty people have found ways to handle that.

These people, while having my absolute awe, scare me.

I actually own one of those "resetters" - and had no idea. LOL.

I don't have the dexterity to be a surgeon.

...or to refill cartridges.

These things bleed like stuck pigs when you don't do it right.

I don't care how much I could save, theoretically, because I'd spend that much in cleaning materials to get the ink out of my clothes, my sink, my hands, my teeth (don't ask).

And, it's now two-thirty and I don't have the boys' pages ready for tomorrow yet.

We need more workbooks.

We are going to BAM tomorrow to buy some workbooks to tide us over until The Purchase Of The New Printer happens.

I think, on my List of Priorities, a new printer actually falls before a stackable washer/dryer set. If it didn't before, it certainly does now. Blech.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 8

Sunday Ramblings

Nine thirty doesn't seem too early for Sunday School, even with having to leave by eight thirty to get there in time, except that all the parking lots of all the Baptist churches between here and there are empty as we drive past them (their Sunday Schools begin at ten thirty or eleven), and we cannot help but think as we drive past that if we went to one of those churches, we'd still be in bed right now. Tempting, that is, after the shotgun starts we incur each Sunday morning. However, we made it. Yay.

We had a birthday party to attend after church, so we hit Books-A-Million to pick up gifts. BAM is, for the boys and I, the equivalent of Disneyland for other folks. We just love to go. And browse. And buy. For Zorak, it's pretty much icing on the gotta-get-out-of-bed-and-suck-it-up Sunday morning torture session that we like to call, "Going to church as a family". He was so chipper and glad to be there. Poor guy. So we grabbed a few nice books and headed out rather quickly, with the promise that we'd plan another trip to Disne- er, the bookstore another time. When Daddy is at work. :-)

The birthday girl turned four today. I'm not good with the food analogy descriptions of children (like "just sop 'em up with a biscuit" - I love them, but they don't flow from my mind with ease), so I'll just say this little girl has a full complement of precious. Actually, all of the children in that family are simply adorable. And our families get along well. Even the husbands enjoy each others' company! (MAJOR bonus!) They also drive almost an hour to church because they, too, live in the middle-of-nowhere. Sadly, they live in the North-West Middle-of-Nowhere, vs. our South-East Middle-of-Nowhere, so playdates aren't a regular occurrence. But the kids are in the same classes for Sunday School and Pioneer Club, and so they do get to enjoy playing together a bit, but today was extra nice. BBQ, playing in the yard, laughing at the kids' quirks and silliness. It was also fun to see one of our pastors in his Granddad mode, away from the church. So sweet!

We came home to find the clothes from the line strewn about the lawn (I cannot get the line high enough to keep out of Balto's reach and yet still within my own), so we gathered those up, checked the weather forecast, and rounded up the do-overs.

Zorak had thrown in a brisket this morning - so the house welcomed us in with the mouthwatering aroma of supper, ready to go.

Zorak ran a mock-up of the trim on the window in the kitchen, with a new stoop and everything! It's going to be so pretty!

The boys tidied their room and then I vacuumed before storytime.

Everyone was asleep within minutes.

And I am going to follow...

I love lazy, wonderful days like today. I'm thankful they aren't all like this, as absolutely nothing resembling progress was accomplished. But it was a day of rest. A day with the family. A day with much to give thanks for, and to appreciate. Tomorrow, back to work, but today we rested and prepared.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 7

Where I'm From

I am from faded jeans and Dad’s cardigans, from Michelob and Pepsi, and The Sons of the Pioneers.

I am from the cool mountain pines; gentle breezes on dry clear summer days; dirt roads and winding paths and bonfires on Friday nights; Lynx Lake with all its hidden trails and the fish I never could catch.

I am from the junipers and mountain lakes, the saguaro and mesquites in bloom.

I am from big buffet dinners, “always room for one more”, “you’re only a stranger once”, and laughing aloud to the Sunday Comics, from June and Mary, and friends so close they’re family.

I am from the procrastinators and those who’ve never met a stranger.

From ”You’ve got such potential!” and ”hush little baby, don’t say a word”.

I am from enthusiastic Amens and humble prayers, from a solid rock and “Jesus loves me”. From fellowship and brotherhood and abiding love. From the comfort of a well-worn Bible and the struggle of living its directions.

I'm from the mining towns of Arizona, and the farms of Tennessee. From farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs. From a newsstand owner and a fiery widow. From Germans and Irish, Dutch and English, but wholly American. From buttered noodles and thick steaks and hot coffee.

From the death of my father, always wondering “do I get this stubbornness from him? This sense of humor?”, the gift of my stepfather, knowing “Dad loved this”, and the depth of being loved by the family I married into.

I am from the backyard swing in Texas, five years old and full of life; from the Christmas gatherings in Albuquerque, bittersweet, even then. I’m from green chile burritos, cruising Tramway, and hiking the Appalachain Trail. From the airport in Charlotte and a suburb of Pittsburgh. I’m from the apple orchard in Gleason, TN, and Mr. Brown’s farm down the road.

I’m from sunrise in the kitchen, hot coffee and fresh note paper. From the local news talk show and the annual lighting of the Courthouse.

And from my husband, I’m from New Mexico, from sheepherders and teachers and cowboys. From Corona days and barn dances and hunting in Cloudcroft. From mormon tea plants and lamb’s quarters, the Rio Grande and the Gallo. From so much more than before...

Hat Tip to Amy, who found it (and directions/tips for making one of your own) here. Give it a try, and if you do it, either let us know where you blogged it or, if you don't have a blog, leave it in the comments section.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, May 6

Oooooooo, 'dat's nice!

Zorak ventured into town today and returned bearing gifts - namely, a contractor's pack of window trim (which translates to, "a whole lotta trim")! I can't tell you how sexy that is.

The kitchen and dining room windows are now all painted. The tape has been removed, and they are awaiting the trim (which will have to be done during the week, but it's here, on site, and that is HUGE). The windows in the boys' room and the master bedroom are cleaned and sanded, ready for tape (another alluring gift Zorak brought me - he's on a roll today!) I was going to tape the windows while the boys got ready for bed, but then I realized there are three of them, what-was-I-thinking?!?! So, it can wait. Easier on the ol' ticker.

Smidge did so well with the toilet training today. It probably helped that 80% of the day was spent outside, naked. It's just a lot more fun to pee outside than in the house. Or, allow me to correct that -- than in the potty. It is, an astute observer would have noticed today, quite fun to pee in the hallway. But, he's got the basic idea, and those nasty little candy-coated kisses are pure gold - he even high-tailed it to the potty of his own accord after supper. WOO HOO! (Have y'all tried those? They don't taste *right* - they're like carob chips, or some other imitation of real candy. We can't put our fingers on just what's off about them, though, and Smidge doesn't know any better, so what the heck - it's a good way to get rid of them.)

Thanks for the paint commiseration. If I discover the magic formula, I promise to share it. I'm still holding out hope that Alaska will chime in with what worked on their Forever Home after her mad-mad-marathon-o-painting.

Zorak is building sawhorses from some of the salvaged lumber so that we have somewhere to lay the trim and the doors for painting. To be more specific, so that we can paint these items downstairs, away from curious little fingers and the clumsy children to which said fingers are attached. When he emerges, we're going to call it an early night and watch some dismally horrible movie together. Yes, again with the romance - and the thing is, I'm not being sarcastic. I really love this weird little existence we have; bad movies, house fixin's, the wayward urinator and all... *happy sigh*

Today there was no rain. You have not seen a woman wash so many clothes in a day - and be this happy about it - in a long, long time. (Perhaps not since we got running water to the house and I COULD wash clothes.) The canopy is lush, the honeysuckle is in bloom (upwind, so I can enjoy the scent, but far enough away that I don't have to deal with the bees), and I realized I have it good. Really good. And I'm thankful.

Oh, I just heard Zorak making coffee - time to go enjoy that wonderful hubby.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, May 5

On help and children...

Will somebody PLEASE share with me the Disney-like magic that is required to paint trim? Please? The Romper Room priming job, while, well, ugly, sanded quite nicely and is smooth to the touch. And it did its job, as you cannot see the wood now with only one coat of the top paint over the primer.

But this paint job just isn't, um, well, working. I CAN'T DO THIS!! And it's making me nutty. The color is beautiful. The high-gloss sheen would be beautiful if I could get the paint to lie flat. Smooth.

I cleaned, sanded, wiped, primed, sanded again. I bought the fancy-schmancy "angled sash brush" - and not the el-cheapo two-dollar one, either. It's a really nice brush. The paint is good stuff, too. But I'm getting bumps and waves and lines. And when I finish and think it finally looks really nice (or at least not hideous), it waits until I walk away and the stuff buckles up, folds in on itself and runs. Then Zorak walks past it, sees a mockup of Madame Tussaud's after a fire, and wonders what I'm smoking and why.

This is 100%, totally and without hesitation to admit it: OPERATOR ERROR.

I've tried thicker coats, thinner coats, grand sweeping motions, slow meticulous motions... and the result is always the same: bad. *Gah.* And this, after I tried being so encouraging to someone else with my, "You could TOTALLY do this, really" rhetoric.

On other fronts:

The HVAC guy came out today. He gets it. Of course, he saw the place back in August, when we were trying to close on it, too. So that's settled and we'll be installing HVAC around the end of the month. Wow. Central Air. Those are beautiful words.

Smidge actually used the potty today! And the floor. And the couch. And the driveway. Two out of four ain't bad. ;-)

Ain't. This word is sneaking its way into the boys' vocabulary. Yes, the irony that my use of the word just now reminded me of it is not lost on me. I, however, was mutilating a song title. The boys have decided it's funny. This is not funny. When you mutilate a word, or use a word such as ain't long enough, you will eventually forget that it's a joke. One day you wake up and find that some horrible word or phrase has embedded itself into your vocabulary - and that you really mean it when you use it! ARGH! There's still hope for them. They still think they're joking. John used it today and there was a small, but significant, pause and a smirky-chuckle thing that emanated from his lips as he paused. So there is hope. (right?)

Night has fallen on Narnia. I'm a basketcase. John still has no clue where they all are, but agrees that it's one grand adventure. James catches my voice cracking and pipes up with, "It's okay, Mom. They're in 'Aslan's Country' now." Well. Yeah. I know that. But. But. BUT IT'S SAAADDDDDDD. "No, it's not sad. It's beautiful." Huh. Out of the mouths of babes. I get the allegory (or the not-quite-allegory), and I know, in my head, that "all is well", but you know, I'm pretty heavily invested in life on this earth at the moment, and the mere thought of the children... *gasp**choke**sob* Well, at least they haven't asked me to read The Littlest Angel in a while. So it could be worse.

And it seems Miss Emily is up. Again. I can't complain, as she's been sleeping well ever since that one fretful morning. (Although I wasn't going to mention it for fear of jinxing it - I can, now that she's broken her streak herself.) And so I am going to go and cuddle my sweet baby girl, maybe read a little of my book to her (that always reminds me of Three Men and a Baby - "It's not what you read, it's the tone of your voice.") Perhaps even hit the hay a little early tonight. If I can get the boys' windows painted and trimmed, I'll post pictures of those this coming week.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, May 4

We Can Buckle Down Tomorrow

Gale Force winds, enough rain to swell the creek 4 times its normal size, animals crossing the property in pairs of two, clean and unclean...

Nope, didn't do any laundry today.

Didn't paint, either. I live in perpetual fear that the latex paint is going to rebel against being laid down in this humidity and that it will, for revenge, dry permanently soft and kinda tacky. (I honestly have no idea what causes that, only that in New Mexico, when that happens, we blame it on the whopping 20% humidity that day.)

What did we do? We read. Grimm's Fairy Tales, Tales of Old Korea, The Last Battle, The Book of Joshua, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Frosty the Snowman, and Dancing Dinos (it can't all be deep reading) -- we fed our imaginations and explored the world without ever having to set foot outside in the flood, er, rain.

We snacked. Peanut butter and honey on toast, crackers and cheese, freshly blended fruit slushies, thick and gooey hamburger pie -- we kept our bellies full and the table busy.

We played. Spin-the-pink-chair-til-someone-cries. Well, okay, that one didn't hold much nostalgic value. But there was a pillow fight, a wrestling match, tape roll races and playing in the mud between downpours. Oh, and Miss Emily rolled over - not once, but twice (and she's still mad about it).

What actually got done today? Oh, plenty. We lived. We laughed. We read and talked. We took the day and lived it intentionally. The windows will still be there when the rain stops. The laundry won't ever be "done", not completely. But the boys and Miss Emily will never be as small as they are today. They won't be the same tomorrow as they were today, and I wouldn't have missed today for all the material things in the world. I'm glad I didn't miss it.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesdays are LONG!

However, today was productive on many fronts:

The indoctrination of the small one is nearing completion. Tonight, Smidge made a collage of "family", and it was the sweetest little thing to see him pointing to these images of toned, manicured, beautiful people, saying, "Mama... Dad! My Dad!... " *sniff* You've learned well, young grasshopper.

The eldest one seems to have missed the whole point of forging your parents' names... He came running into the hall after class tonight and we had the following exchange:
Son: Mom, if you've got a pen, I need to borrow it, please.

Mom: Wow, well, sure, Son. Whatcha doing?

Son: Oh, I need to write your name so I can build a fire.

Mom: *blink**blink* Oh....?

I touched base with the instructor, who filled me in. One of their badges involves learning how to build and light a camp fire, but the instructor wanted to get parental permission beforehand to let us know what's happening with the kids, and he wasn't sure all the parents would be comfortable having their children near fire. (Zorak also brought up the point that this gives the parental units a heads up that their children are to be exposed to... "certain technology", which may carry the potential for abuse. Good point.) Of course I gave my okay - the boys have been tossing construction debris into the fire ring for months - but I'm still trying to figure out just what on earth made James think he should sign my name -- or why he'd mention it to me in the process!

You! Move! - John heard last week that he'd be moving to a different class over the summer, and he wasn't too happy about it. He'd been a bit standoffish about the whole prospect all week, even to the point of asking if he can just not move up at all. We talked this morning as we hung clothes, and during the course of the conversation I managed to figure out that he was thinking HE, alone, was going to have to be moved, for some unspecified reason. Once I explained that his whole class would be advancing to the next level, and that it happens each year, he was much relieved and rather excited.

Thanks for taking a peek at the photos of the renovation ("remodel" just doesn't seem to convey the umpf of the project, does it?) We're still plugging along. Several of y'all have asked about the official expiration date on the Right of Redemption, and according to TPTB (in this case, the Papers that Be) it's the 19th of May. Prayers would be much appreciated. ;-)

I did some severely piddly stuff today - laundry, installing outlet covers, laundry. Zorak tackled another closet organizer - this one in our room! It needs a little tweaking, as it's a lot more modular than the one we (ha - HE, not we) put into the boys' closet. (OK, he's sitting here, informing me that it's not modular. It's just the components rather than a full kit. There's a difference. In my defense, though, we bought the components because they have a more modular design - in that the brackets can be moved around and futzed with without having to fiddle with the holes in the walls... Sometimes it's hard to type full conversations and have any of it make sense.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, and he put the casings (casing overlays? casing facades?) on the kitchen windows. Starting to look better already!

But I've now been up for 21.5 hours. I'm done. G'nite!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 3

Kitchen Remodel Photos

Ok, so if I wait until it's completely finished, I'll probably be posting pics along with the boys' college graduation photos. SO, without further much more ado, here's the montage of the kitchen changes.

I feel compelled to point out a few things, first, though.

The barstool cushions look like that because small children spill myriad things on them... and I'm cleaning them TO-DAY. Ew. I was tempted to edit that part out, but decided I'd shame myself into rectifying the situation, instead.

There are two bookshelves in the kitchen, doing pantry duty. We'll order the Swiss Army Cabinet later this month and it will go to the left of the sink counter. That'll absorb a lot of the clutter you see. Not all, but some. *grin*

Yes, the sink is not aligned with the window. That's not because we're aiming for an abstract kitchen. It's because when we replace the windows, it will be in the middle, and that window will span the wall.

Obviously, we still have no flooring (it will be hardwoods), or trim (someday...), or kickboards (they'll go up w/ the trim - they're in the basement, um, acclimating, now). So, still a bit to be done. But the progress has been good so far.

*Edited to add:
Jess, the range has a built-in griddle. The shiny silver flat spot to the right of the kettle is the cover for a huge, Waffle-House style griddle.
Also, if you click on the slideshow, each photo has a caption that explains a bit about what you're looking at.

Alright, already, I'll shut up - here are the Kitchen Remodel photos.

And, in case you missed the Bathroom Remodel, you can click here to see it.

It's not going to make it to Better Homes & Gardens, but it's certainly a Better Home - it's our Forever Home.

Kiss those babies!

Four Down...

The kitchen and dining room windows are primed. It looks like a Kindergarten Art Class has been turned loose in there. I did everything the way I'm supposed to do it: clean, sand, wipe, tape, prime... even bought the super whomperdine brush for it and used an oil-based primer, thinking that might be thinner than the latex. It just doesn't look "right". Zorak swears it's going to look gorgeous, but I think I may be creating my very own little hand-shaped paper turkeys in there.

So far, I've learned a lot:

* Yes, the upper windows are supposed to come down like that. Well, not to fall down randomly the way they do, but yes, they are intended to be lowered if you would desire to do that.

* The storm windows may have be installed by the same guy who built the pillars in the basement scary room (the ones that go up just far enough to be clear they wouldn't hit a joist and then end there, mid-air.)

* Moths really like to hang out in the space between your storm windows and the inside windows. Really Like It.

* It takes all day to prep and paint window frames when you have four children and no tranquilizer gun.

* When it gets dark, you need to stop painting.

* If you don't, you'll learn that moths stick to oil-based paint pretty well.

* Yes, that's as gross as it seems.

* I'm pretty sure the Big Orange Book uses the phrase, "Trim is Forever", not because you can't change your trim color, but because once a happy homeowner gets all the windows in a home painted, happy homeowner would rather jab toothpicks up his nose than go through that again.

Well, anyway, it was a busy day, but definitely goes into the "what made me think I could do this" file. Today should be good. Miss Emily and I crashed around ten thirty last night. So here we are, up at four. We hung out for a bit, but she wasn't sure she wanted to be up any more than I. She is now happily watching a documentary on student teachers while I try to decide if I'd rather get dressed and start the day or go back to bed. (If there was any hint that it'd be light shortly, I'd get started on the day, but it's really quite dark-and-creepy outside.) There is a book calling my name... hmm... Coffee's ready, kids are asleep... this is technically like getting free hours in the day, isn't it?

Ok, that settles it, I'm going to curl up with a book! Have a wonderful day!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 1

I'm Just Not Funny

Laney and I have talked about it. She knows my pain. I want to make Zorak laugh - the deep, from-the-toes laugh of true hilarity. I want to make him laugh the way Ron White makes me laugh. For ten years, I've been grasping at the few strands of humor I maintain, twisting them in knots, setting them on fire, and then doing the hula around them in an attempt to make him laugh.

Sometimes I get a smirk.
Or a chuckle.
Tonight I got a nod. What's with THAT? A nod?!? (It was a good joke, too.)

I don't think it's him, though, because I usually get groans, sometimes snorts, from the boys when I try to make them laugh. But they do laugh - heck, Zorak can make the boys laugh so hard they cry, just by dancing Miss Emily atop the back of the couch. Maybe it's a guy thing?

Anyhow, hilarity aside, the foyer is done. Bullnose beading, arch, paint, outlets, booblights (thanks for that - it's the perfect name). *sigh* It's lovely. And we bought batteries for the camera! But now I have to clean the kitchen again (because, you know, we've eaten since I cleaned it last, and you can see it from the foyer). We're closing in on this thing, and the better it looks, the worse the remaining parts look. For instance, the front door, the Icon Closet, and the basement door look downright hid-e-ous now. It's funny. In a sleep-deprived, inhaled paint fumes kind of way.

Back 40 has been mowed, back yard has been fertilized, and the fire ant mounds have been eradicated. What more could a girl ask for?

Well, since you asked... (OK, since I asked, but this is a lot like talking to myself, so I'll just run with that)

The beautiful foyer now needs a rustic old bench. I doubt our chances of finding "the one" are good out here - antiques here run to a different era - but perhaps when we trek to New Mexico again we'll be able to find one there. We don't want one that stands guard at the door, thus creating a checkpoint of sorts (the arch remedied that - no sense in bringing in something else to do the job). We'd like to get one that says, "Come on in, take your coat off and stay a while!" - in English or Spanish, we're not picky.

The living room is begging for an entertainment center - something with doors, perhaps. But definitely something other than the Altar to Heat and Media which we have currently. I'll have to post a picture of it - a pretty grandiose set up for folks who only use rabbit ears.

Um, let's see... oh, curtains! We are nearing the need for curtains! Actually, I'm sure if we had neighbors who could see in, they'd say we're past that point. However, it is time to do away with the Blackout Curtain method of window dressing and start thinking in terms of aesthetics rather than insulation alone. I feel giddy!

The boys are still on their checklist kick, and I'm keeping up pretty well. It's amazing what we do get done each day, using this method! Miss Emily has developed an eczema-like rash on her cheeks. It looks awful, but it doesn't seem to bother her at all. It just appeared yesterday, so I figure I'll give it a few days before I start slathering her with stuff. She has finally sprouted enough that the 0-3 clothes just can't be made to work anymore. *sniff* Suddenly the 3-6mos. clothing looks so BIG! Time is going to fly way too quickly, isn't it? Well, we'll just have to make sure we enjoy it more, then!

Kiss those babies!