Monday, July 31

A Joke From James

What is a frog's favorite food?

(Answer in comments.)

Which is more challenging?

Keeping the small ones within arm's reach and quiet during church, or keeping Zorak from darting off on tangents unrelated while the kids and I are gone.

He did get a lot done this weekend. The master bath (The Bathroom at the Asylum, from the pictures) now has a dandy new sill plate, a reinforced joist or two, brand spankin' new boards spanning the joists, and a new subfloor. Oh, and a new, mold-resistant ceiling. It's nice not to have the Den of the Crypt Keeper lurking behind the bathroom door anymore.

I got the children's rooms somewhat resituated. The boys' room looks great. The nursery, well, we need to build another toy shelf for the nursery, and get some tubs for it. That'll help tremendously. Probably wouldn't hurt to move the computer out of there, too. Nothing says, "I care" quite like giving your toddler unrestricted access to the internet, eh?

Speaking of the toddler, he has discovered that he can say, "No" and mean it. That would work out nicely if he were being propositioned by drug dealing three-year olds. However, it seems that when one experiences a dearth of soul-maligning peers, any near parent will do quite nicely. This is when I remind myself that I have almost two decades with them... so, um, pace yourself, Dy.

We've been dealing tag-team with the moods of the older ones. They enjoyed their day of touching base with Daddy on Friday, but it wasn't quite enough for them to make it through a day of working on the house come Saturday. All three of them needed some extra lovin's. I tried Heidi's approach of swinging the children around to help defray the bad moods. They catch on quickly; all three promptly misbehaved, in the hope of getting a swing around the living room. Had to smack a couple of them into the furniture before they decided perhaps it's best to just go with ice cream and a story. (That wasn't on purpose -- they're heavy and I'm uncoordinated.) The positive attention does work wonders, and I thank you, Heidi, for your gentle and uplifting reminder. The kids thank you, too. Or, they will once their shins heal up.

We're all loving The Little House in the Big Woods. The boys love the adventure of it all, and I love that I don't feel I must stop every time a gun is mentioned to give them the, "this person has an agenda, has never fired a firearm, couldn't tell a .357 from a shotgun, and has no idea what she's talking about" speech. They're hoping to find a hollow tree to build a smoke house. Should make for a fun autumn!

This morning we are total slackers. It's after nine, and the older two just got up. Those were two tired little boys! (The Small One and Miss Emily were up this morning a little before four, and stayed up until nearly six. Come five-thirty or so, the idea of a live-in nanny sounded far more sensible than I would have believed!) And so, we're off for another day of learning and working, growing together, and enjoying this life we've been given.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, July 28

A Day of Nothing

What a delightful day we had! We'd planned to paint the bathroom door, sister the joists under the master bath, repair the sill plate in the master bath, and do a lot of trimwork. Instead, we packed up and went to play with friends! Can't beat that for a segue, eh?

The boys swam and played. Zorak came with us in a last minute twist that just made the boys' day. He took them out in a canoe and taught them how to work the oar. He went with each of them on a paddle boat. Each of the boys had some time with Dad, one-on-one, in which, for a time, each boy was the center of Zorak's attention. They soaked it up like only children do, and it was glorious to watch. I do mean glorious, too - better than sunset over the ocean, better than a snow storm as seen from inside a fully stocked cabin, and better, even, than a steak dinner after dragging your tired butt up out of the Grand Canyon after two harrowing weeks of hiking with total strangers. Truly beautiful.

And then, because children just don't have any sense at all, the boys picked Bubble Gum flavored ice cream at the market. This is why they cannot live on their own yet. Children have parents to guide them and help them make good choices. Sometimes, though, parents get to say, "Yeah, go for it. Just grab me some of the french vanilla while you're over there, okay?" And that's good, too.

After supper, I slipped out onto the porch and called Melissa. She was home! She was awake! Yay! I love talking to Melissa. Her children bolster my hope in the future. Her stories make me smile. And her appreciation of the absurd helps me feel normal. Or, at least she'll join me in laughing so hard at the things I find humorous. The only drawback to having Melissa as a friend is that she's so darned busy, we don't get to visit often enough. But when we do, we talk until one (or both) of our phones dies, and it's more than worth the lag time between visits. She's always a source of encouragement and wisdom. THANK YOU, Melissa!

And now, it's quiet. It's late. And I've got a door waiting for me in the morning. I'm going to go kiss my babies and get some zzzz's.

Dy, The Recalibrated One

Thursday, July 27

We Have A Four Bedroom Home!

It's official! As of tonight, all four bedrooms are fully functional and in use! It feels very good to stand on the front porch and peer into the guest room - all the way through to the bathroom (mmm, might want to get on it and install some curtains, there) - and it's all pretty paint and nice light fixtures! It feels somewhat unreal to walk the length of the hall and see that every room, save the stairwell to the basement, has been renovated. Just wait 'til they all have doors! he he

We now have, in no particular order, The Big Boys' room, for James and John and all the little, intricate things they've come to enjoy; The Master Bedroom, also known as Our Hidey Hole; The Nursery, for Smidge and Miss Emily - Smidge is currently passed out in there with a goofy grin on his face and a pile of his favorite books on the shelf beside his bed; The Guest Room, with a real guest bed and a full bookshelf.

The Master Bedroom, without the crib crammed into it, looks like a decent-sized room once again. It's going to take me three months to stop inching sideways along the length on my side of the bed!

The Boys' room looks downright spacious with the other child and a half out of there. Or rather, the stuff of a child and a half. The other half of Miss Emily's things still have that dejected, misplaced child-in-transit thing going over in our room.

Give me the weekend to get everything shifted around and presentable and I'll post pictures. :-)

Granted, we're still a one-bath household, but that'll come. Oh yes, that will come. Which reminds me, I need to go request the new IKEA catalog.

What FUN!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, July 25

Things I Learned Today

1) Men can be kinda weird.

Yesterday, I worked my tush off. What with the mowing and the loading and the hauling and the sorting and the cleaning and the teaching. Not to mention the sheer dehydration. I was so proud of all I'd done. (I even arranged the cooler on the porch for the guys to use as a beer cooler/coffee table - it was a neat idea.) When the guys got home, they said not one (unsolicited) word about all that shining Progress.

Today, I painted the guest room (yes, one room, and no trim - just ceiling and walls), and the way the talked about it, you'd have thought I'd built the Taj Mahal out of dixie cups and gold leaf. Truthfully, the first two times they commented on how hard I'd worked today, and how much I got done today, I didn't reply because I thought they were mocking me. They may have been... I'm not sure.

I don't get it.

2) It's hard to get yourself straightened out when you get up on the wrong side of the bed.

John woke up this morning just completely out of sorts. And somehow, he decided it was Smidge's fault. Oy vey! What a day! End of day report: they both survived and will try again tomorrow.

3) It's delightful to snuggle with the Littles.

I laid down with Miss Emily this afternoon so she could rest. Not long after we got settled, I heard the small, staccato tap of little round feet headed down the hallway, and in came Smidge. He sidled up to the bed and slipped in on the other side. Soon, they were both sound asleep and I laid there, holding my breath, whispering to myself, "Don't give in, Dy. If you fall asleep now, you won't budge til supper. Don't. Fall. Asleep."

That worked, but I did allow myself to relax for a bit to the hypnotic, rythmic sounds of deep Little One sleep. That's better than an hour of aroma therapy or a full day at the spa! Mmm, yummy stuff!

4) A breeze is a wonderful thing.

OK, didn't learn this today. Known it for years. Really missed having one today.

5) I am really very spoiled.

Today I had the pleasure of being read to by John while I painted; being protected from "bad mice" by Smidge (again, while I painted); playing with the "windy cave" James built in the boys' room; watching Miss Emily sit unassisted; hearing the joyful shout of "DAD!" as the boys realized he was home.

And those are just the highlights. There was more. Much more. And it was wonderful. How were you spoiled today? Or what did you learn? Or were you spoiled by what you learned? Whatever comes to mind. :-)

Kiss those babies!

What Day Is This?

I'd make a truly deplorable farmer. Come to think of it, I'd have made a lousy Mayan, too. They'd have run me out of the village for my total disregard for all things chronological. I guess my best hope would have been that they'd keep me around as the village idiot. Which wouldn't necessarily have been all that bad, as it might have made me unfit for sacrifices to the gods. Always a plus.

We got so much accomplished yesterday that I just had to whip up a strawberry dacquari and sit on the clean, comfy porch to recover. The boys hung in there with me while we moved the wood pile off the porch (yeah, now that summer's half over and we're only going to have to move it back in a couple of months - that irony probably won't hit them for another couple of years, though). They played on the freshly mowed grass while I worked on the other stuff. Got about two acres mowed, and I vacillated between feeling quite good about not having a tractor mower because I was getting all kinds of wonderful exercize and fresh air, and thinking I'd rather get a tractor mower AND cough up the dough for a gym membership because at least at the gym, I'd be in a climate controlled environment while I worked out.

Never did get that room painted. I wonder how much of that had to do with the dacquari?

Anyway, this is the in-between period of life. This is the daily to and fro that lends itself to strong bonds, gentle memories, and really crappy blogging. This is the laundry list, and the laundry, but it must be done.

The boys have new binders, and this year I think I may have pulled it off! They have sections for reading, history, science, and memory work. I gave them composition books for their phonics, spelling, and copywork. They have binder pouches, each with their own markers, pencils, lead refills (because what kind of geeks would I be raising if they didn't have mechanical pencils?) Plus, there is hope they'll now quit stealing Zorak's. They have their own scissors (again, the hope for less theivery among the household supplies). In fact, they are now decked out for lessons like little kings. They decorated the subject dividers, and the images are hilarious. I'll have to see if my scanner still works and post some of them. It's fun to see how they view things, how they interpret subjects, and what the world looks like to them. With my scissors safely in my kitchen drawer, I've got to say the world looks pretty darned good to me, right now!

Miss Emily is just one big fat blob of happy. She's so... round. It's delightful. She squawks and squeals and makes all manner of ruckus. She has discovered depth, and knows that if she can't reach that tantalizing little object, she can dislocate her shoulders and other various limbs with one good lunge to get another inch or two of reach. She'd really like to crawl, but right now her butt's too heavy. She gets up and... thar she goes! But the idea is there, and that's what this life is built on: ideas and persistence. If we give her nothing else over the years, we will give her the motivation to be determined to reach her goals. What goals they may be, I have no idea (you should have seen the havoc that ensued upon checking the mouse traps yesterday!), but she will attain them, and she'll have plenty of laughter along the way.

This is good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, July 24

Dust Yourself Off...

OK, enough of that. A good night's rest, some curriculum planning (always seems to perk me right up, that), and a gung-ho morning have helped clear the cobwebs from my head. But you know, one of my biggest pet peeves is someone who will accept your hospitality, stay in your home, and then have the gall to lob insults at you from left field when nobody's looking. That's just plain cowardice, and if you're going to come stay at my house, I don't ask that you do my wash, or my dishes, or even take out the trash. But by God, I do expect you to be at least civil to me. Thhbbtth. (Had to get that off my chest.)

I'm reading Burl Ives' The Wayward Stranger's Diary - a delightful book of anecdotes as collected by Mr. Ives over the years. Makes for very easy bedtime (ok, two AM) reading, as the stories are fairly short. If I fall asleep mid-read, I don't have to go back forty pages the next day to figure out where I dropped off.

After a week of sweltering Southern Summer weather, it's been absolutely beautiful the last couple of days. Sadly, we're a little slow on the uptake and completely missed one full day of it because we never ventured out (it looked hot, okay?) Today, however, we've collected debris, mowed the front forty (er, patch, if I'm being honest), did a little math, and fixed a delicious breakfast. Oh, and tidied the house, read about the Barbary pirates, and decided we really deserve a trip to the corner gas station/market for a bug juice when we get more gas for the mower. No reason not to kill two birds and cook them up with one stone, right?

This afternoon, I hope to paint the guest room. The guys got it primed yesterday, with much ado. Still, it's primed. Yay.

Last night was almost fall weather. It didn't have the smell of fall, but it had the cool breeze, the rustling of leaves (in our case, the leaves from last fall, but still, they sounded nice). I got the back porch cleared off, and finally removed the electrical-wiring-as-clothes-line from the eaves. It still has a distinctly backwoods air to it, but it's much more roomy and inviting now. Just don't look up at the spikes protruding from the tin overhead, and you're good.

Okay, I hear fussing. Time to go play military dictator and irate peasants. Weeee!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, July 23

If You Have Been Praying for Patience for me...

QUIT! Please, stop. Now.


That's all I can say here. I would rather wrestle a grizzly with my bare hands and just get it over with.

A Very Tired, Dy

Friday, July 21

General Day

We had our new patient visits for all three boys today. God bless any physician who is willing to schedule them all in tandem, on the same day, and in the same room. A pox on any physician who simply isn't that brave! If we mothers can manage it on our own (WHY didn't I ask Zorak to come? What was I thinking?) then so can they (and they have nurses for backup, too!) I do love our pediatrician.

We learned a few things today:

* John is terribly, completely, and utterly left-eye dominant. He is SO left-eye dominant that he tipped over twice while the nurse attempted to test his right eye. He was be fine with all the directions, right up to, "just look at the red dot"; then the head began to lean and swivel. You could see that left eye jockeying for position. I could have helped, if I hadn't been sitting behind her, laughing. He tried, though, for all he was worth, and finally succeeded in keeping his head mostly straight long enough for her to test his right eye. You could see the concentration in his face, though, and his little neck muscles strained and trembled with the effort. Both eyes are fine, although it's pretty obvious he has no intention of using that right eye, except in emergencies.

* Smidge will never volunteer to go first again. Ever. The boys each took turns going first for various bits of the visit: weigh-in, height, exam, talking with the doctor. Oh, this is easy! This is fun! The nurse comes in and asks, "OK, who wants to go first?" It's not his fault he didn't recognize the little alcohol swabs and plastic capped syringes. Smidge volunteered and hopped gleefully up onto the table. Two shots: polio and tetanus. HOLY CRAP, WOMAN!! WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU!?!? Or, that's what he would have said if he'd thought of it.

In all, the boys all held out far better than I did at that age. We talked about FDR and rusted things. We talked about Smidge's duck band-aids (which turned out to be a bad choice, as it sent him off, muttering to himself and glaring at us all over again). And then, it was over. For me, it was delightfully wonderful to hear the doctor say, "It is up to you." I love that man.

* James has a referral to an ENT for a full audiology workup. I'm not in full panic mode, and we won't have any firm information until after the ENT visit, but it does look like there may be a few hurdles in his path. If there are, well, then it's our job to show him how to leap them. If there are, then that's that and we'll do what we can from here. It's not a big thing, in the grand scheme of things, as a friend said today. But you know, I'm going to go ahead and be sad. I'm going to have a little period of grief and fear for my child, who may be facing some really tough stuff ahead. That doesn't mean I'm throwing in the towel. And it doesn't mean he's any less capable of doing the things he loves to do. It simply means that, as every mother would, I am going to wish like hell that I could take his limitations on myself and leave him free to flourish. I'm going to stand at his bedside and let slip a tear or two for the inevitable pain and disappointment that all our children encounter in life - pain we just would rather they not ever encounter. But they do. And rather than your basic conditioning and running skills, we may have to teach him some leaping and vaulting skills, as well. And that's okay, too.

In all, though, the boys got clean bills of health. The doctor prescribed eye drops for James' EyeThing (yay!), and said that if he has another incident and the drops don't help, he will schedule an appointment with an allergist.

We came home, popped popcorn, watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factor, made milkshakes, and then read stories til our eyes watered. It was a good night. It was a good day. And tomorrow's Saturday! Yay!

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, July 20

Do As I Say???

I work very hard to model the behavior I would like my children to embed in their delicate little psyches. My success at this endeavor will be weighed largely by how much of their savings goes toward therapy rather than college. However, in spite of my natural swaggering rhythm and rather tense facial expressions, I feel like I'm gaining ground in general. Sure, there are things that seem to hinder this process, but in general, they are delightful little boys who live for two things: the ultimate laugh, and to please us.

So today, when all three boys left their wee brains in their room as we headed out the door, I kept calm. I quietly nudged, whispered, guided and directed. This was modeling the behavior at its best, and by golly, it was good!

It was good for the first thirty, possibly forty incidents. Then I found my vocal chords tensing up a bit, and my lips began to do that weird terse, pokey thing they do when I'm trying very hard not to lay into someone. This is the second day in. a. row. that I've experienced the vocal constriction response, so you know, I was pretty primed.

But I ask you, how long does it take before one realizes that you do not STOP in certain places? You do not stop in the middle of a doorway. You do not stop in the middle of any heavily trodden egress. You do not stop in the narrow, crowded section of a grocery aisle. You do not stop in the middle of the crosswalk. You do not stop and loiter in the little entrance to the cashier's cubicle. There are places to "go" and there are places to "stop", and to be honest, they're all pretty well defined.

But, if the consistency of it all isn't a dead giveaway, how about the adults milling about, staring at you, mouthing words in that foreign language your mother swears you ought to know by now? The man said, "Excuse me, boys," but what, what is it that the boys heard? Their blank expressions gave me neither hint nor glimmer of an answer. *blink* *blink* More nudging, guiding, breathing deeply. We'll be okay if we can just get. to. the. car.

As the boys, in unison (the only time they do anything with a unanimous consensus), stopped directly in the middle of the exit doors at the market, I lost it. The pointy lips began flapping wildly as a stream of unintelligible words came frothing from my general direction. The jist of the lecture being that you know how to behave in public, and I know you know. There are simply some things you don't do, and while you DO know that, if you cannot figure out how to implement this information, then perhaps you need to stay home and I will run errands in the middle of the night, when your father can keep guard at the asylum. Sheesh, these are simple, common things, boys.

"Yes, ma'am." They piled into the Suburban while I, lips still flapping wildly (but really, was I ever talking to anyone but myself?) began to unload the cart into the back.

That's when I felt something on my shoulder. I shrugged, thinking it was just the post-partum mange. But still, something on my shoulder. Sort of tickling. So I looked down, and there, mere centimeters from my eyes, is a spider with a body the size of a US Quarter. Crawling ON my skin. Crawling TOWARD my face.

You know the liturgy of well-defined things you don't do in public? I broke every single one of them. And while I was there, cussing like a sailor, flailing madly and backing away from wherever the monster might be crouching after it's death-defying flicking from my body... I happened to catch a glimpse of something shiny out of the corner of my eye. And I looked up to see...

A man and his wife sitting in their car, in the driving lane, waiting patiently for the insane swearing woman to stop dancing in the lane so they could pass.

Um... yeah. Maybe it's best if we all stay home for a while?

Yeah, I kissed those babies. Very humbling, indeed.

Wednesday, July 19

Forever Home Photos - The Living Room

The before photos have been lightened to show detail. It was actually quite a bit darker in there. The wall between the kitchen and living room came down, and that's now where the island is located. The changes opened the place quite nicely, but they also hogged out a lot of the actual "living room space". Then, in addition to moving the "dining room" into the other end of this room (it was originally one long stretch of living room, and the original dining room was what will one day be our school room/reading nook - it's the last room left to do), that left us with a very tiny space for a living room. That's when we started hearing voices, but that's another post.

This is the room as it appeared when we first looked at it. The long, scary hallway is to the left (that door's gone now, and it's just a hallway again). The kitchen/laundry space is to the right, on the other side of the built-in bookcase. That door against the back wall leads to steps that pretend to lead down to the back yard.

A basic shot from the entry, looking in. On the other side of that wall is the kitchen and the washer/dryer set up.

This wall came down pretty easily...

But then there was "the wall of fear", which also, incidentally, came down easily. But it wasn't such a warm and fuzzy feeling when it did. This is the back, exterior wall. The one that sits there, looking so innocent and solid in the first shot. We pulled the paneling and found this:

That is exterior brick peeking through, my friends! There's nothing there but snake sheds and a few unfortunate squirrel remains. Oh, and an old fireplace. (Remember the stove in the basement with the myriad pipes? They led to what was left of this chimney!)And just in case you need a closer look...

We rebuilt the wall, framing it out and jamming it into place. (See the pretty, new white wall there, on the right?) Then, since it was December and as you can see, there was no insulation, we brought up and installed the behemoth stove. The living room stayed like this for quite some time:

This is what nesting looks like when you're renovating. It's not a pretty sight, I know. But if you wanted to know how easy it is to texture walls, well, there ya go.

And now, the living room is about 85% finished.

The space above the back door will be trimmed with a rough hewn board, to give it a litle architectural interest, as well as delineating the change in "spaces": kitchen, living, dining. (We'll mirror that on the opposide doorway leading into the hall.) The door, painted. Eventually it'll be removed, and that opening will be widened to extend into a family room. The space is much easier to use now, and it acts as wonderful overflow seating when the kitchen fills up.

And this one, taken from the entry again. Look, Ma - No Wall! The picture's a bit fuzzy, but you can see the finished paint on the kitchen window. What a difference nice trim makes! Yes, it's frustrating, and yes, I will be complaining about it again in the near future. But when all is said and done, it is worth the effort.

Still a lot of work to do, but it's come a long way toward feeling like Home. Hopefully, I will be able to get the bedroom before and after shots posted before the end of the month. And someday, when we're old and decrepit, we may get to working on the exterior of the place!

Thanks for taking a look!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, July 18

Dining Room Photographs

Well, here it is, the dining room. This is, perhaps, my favorite room. Not that I'm knocking the bath, which was our first encouraging hint that we would not, contrary to our most terrifying nightmares, still be living in a half-baked shack for the rest of our natural lives. I still love the bath. But I really like my spring-grass green walls in the dining room now. It's about as far from the color of mold as you can get and still be green. This is the abridged version of the visuals, mostly because it's late and I haven't the mental integrity to come up with captions for all of the images that belong to this montage. (That, and I just don't want to relive it right now. I hope you understand.)

So, without further ado, I give you The Dining Room:
This was what it looked like when we bought it. Remember, that carpet is supposed to be platinum white, not, as mere visual input would indicate, taupe. Ew. Low ceilings - not much we can do about those. Light-sucking holes there at the end. And you can't see it in this photo, but everything was fuzzy and the smell - if I could somehow get the smell put into a scratch-n-sniff sticker and sent out for everyone to use as they read. Well, I wouldn't. That's just wrong.

And yet, we fell in love with the place... it still boggles the mind. So, we took to gutting it while the weather was still nice enough to keep the children outside. Here it is, as we rip out the walls.

And here, with the source of the smell, all piled up into one stench-filled pile. Have I mentioned that I hate carpet? I mean, I really, really hate carpet. At least, now I do.

I think it was about mid-November that we had the new subfloor in and Zorak found the table. We could allow the children inside the home, now. (Note how incredibly brown Smidge is, there in the middle. That's what happens when you live outside for two months. James is not brown because you must have pigmentation in order to turn brown and he, evidently, has none.) However, everybody can eat inside now! Yippee!

And then, *poof*, *poof*, *poof*, two Federal holidays and one additional child later, we finally have the dining room relatively finished. Still lacking a floor, trim, and a little detail work. But just look at the difference the paint made on those windows! (Imagine what they'll look like when I get around to cleaning the storm windows and screens.) This shot was taken from about the same place as the first image.

This next image is a slightly closer shot, to show off the two little photo-helpers who helped out. Also, to point out that when the dining table and that corner hutch are refinished, they'll be close to the same color as the curtain rod. (Zorak wants me to mention that he does know the rod needs to be trimmed, but that zany wife of his was literally jonesing to hang the curtains now-now-now when he brought the rod home. I've mentioned it.) Also, I'd like to mention that John dressed himself, and I had nothing to do with the sock selection for today. Thank you.

I'll post the living room shots in a separate post. It's late and I have a TON of sleep to catch up on. One of the wonderful things about photographs is that they can help you regain your perspective, and remember what you've done, and why. I think this is true of many things: loved ones, favorite places, and special times; the things and parts of our lives. There is so much beauty to soak up in each area of our lives, but sometimes we need a little reminder about the things that are beautiful. The things that motivate us. The progress we've made, and the growth we've experienced. So while the paint and the drywall and the safe wiring is one thing, I've got to say that this last picture is a better descriptor of what motivates us and makes us smile.

Kiss those babies! And thank you for sharing our Forever Home adventure with us.


Well, goodness.

I owe someone a "Thank You", but I don't know who!

Have y'all seen the Blogs of Beauty Awards? I've seen the logo around. You know, on other people's blogs. Very lovely, and pretty. They are like gentle paintings, or nice wall sconces - something I'd love to use to adorn my home (virtual or otherwise). But with the construction dust, the herding of cats, the mental exhaustion and the occasional drizzling sarcasm, (not to mention the fact that I don't think I've ever posted anything that really called for accompanying Scripture), I felt very confident that it would take, oh, someone else doing my blogging for me before Classic Adventures was ever mentioned in those circles. Well, then tonight I saw two links over here from over there. Hmmm, being the naturally curious creature I am, I popped over to see how on earth anyone could get here from there.

And there it was! Classic Adventures, nominated for best encourager (general) and best meet for a mocha. I didn't win in either category. Wasn't even a finalist. (The winners are some truly fine bloggers, by the way, and there are a number of great blogs in general. I found the site two hours ago and just got done cruising about!) But what a sweet delight to find our little spot mentioned.

So, to whomever nominated Classic Adventures, thank you! I'm glad you are encouraged here. (I also think it's totally cool that someone would like to meet me for a mocha! How'd you know I like chocolate? Or was it the caffeine?) And I do have one niggling little question - how'd you filter out the Nicene Creed thing? I can't remember mentioning it here, ever, and of course my latest reference to church included referring to our elders as the Spanish Inquisition (which is totally tongue in cheek - our elders are awesome, wonderful men!) Either way, thank you. I don't know who you are, but I hope you see this. You really made me smile this evening.


Sunday, July 16

And now, it is quiet...

I've got lesson plans set for the morning, then we'll break for some play and exploration time. When it gets hot out, we'll come in and pay homage to this:

The late morning is targeted for a thorough cleaning and sorting on the house. I'm tempted to do something like this:

But we've worked so hard, that it seems a bit rash. *grin* So, instead we'll just put things back in order and get moving again. Ward's bedroom needs texturing and priming, the cabinets need to be put back in order, and that poor little linen closet is patiently awaiting a final coat of paint. Should be a productive day, in all.

Oh, we should probably work on the deck, too...

Ignoring the paneling along the rail (the posts are too far apart to prevent certain toddlers from attempting an aerial assault on the drive below), that limb just didn't do the deck any favors when it performed a triple-axle with a half twist from the top of a tree. I think that's the next project, hopefully this weekend. But it could use some cleaning and prep work first.

Granny and the rest of the gang headed out this morning. They left shortly after the children and I left for church. That seemed to soften the blow a bit for the boys - all the hugs and kisses were shared, and then, before anyone had a chance to really start crying, it was hustle-hustle-hustle into the Suburban and off to Sunday School, which is always a treat. By the time we returned home, there was lunch to be made, adventures to be had, and a trip into town to see friends.

Now, it's quiet. A slightly lonely quiet, but honestly, I think I'm ready. A little routine. A little normalcy. Vacation is wonderful, but I don't think I have the energy to live on Vacation Time all the time. The boys were in bed by nine-fifteen and out cold by nine-thirty, a full hour and a half earlier than any night the last two weeks. Funny how they didn't fight it, either. I think they had a glorious time, but don't think they'll fret much over getting back to our Normal Time. (I misplaced the camera the last few days of the trip, so no photos until somebody takes pity on me and uploads from their cameras.)

And on that note, it's time to hit the hay. Sunup will come far too early, but I've got to get a jump start on the morning before the boys are up!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, July 14

Um, hi!

It's almost noon, and I've not had nearly enough coffee just yet, so this may be a bit disjointed.

Zorak and his brother spent the night on the boat the other night. They moored halfway between the bank and the channel (thus avoiding the unpleasant event of being awoken by a barge slamming into the boat at five in the morning, yet still getting far enough off the bank to avoid a good portion of the 'skeeters.) The next morning's run was hectic, but everybody loaded onto the boat with muffins and jams and strawberry cider for breakfast while Zorak drove me into town to the dentist.

Ow. I completely underestimated a tooth removal. Somehow, I'd had it in my head that it was similar to a root canal. Funny, funny Dy. Um, no. But all went well and I've got to go see another torture professional next week for the replacement parts. The swelling should go down someday, and thanks to Miss Emily's diet, the narcotics offered to me weren't an option. Tempting, but still not an option. We went back to the ramp and met the boat around noon. I laid down and slept peacefully to the rythmic thump and thud of small children leaping from port to starboard. Once in a while, I had to scootch about a bit to get my head back out of the sun, but that's not bad. Life on a houseboat sounds rather appealing...

Mid-afternoon, we pulled into a neat little cove, where everyone swam and explored. Zorak cooked up a pile of various things on sticks, and everybody ate their fill. By five o'clock, the palest folks had tested the outer limits of the 40SPF sunscreen, the smallest folks had run off their energy reserves, and the older folks, well, we were just plain pooped. So we docked the boat and came home for showers and... and I don't know what everyone else did, but Miss Emily and I passed out around six-thirty.

Since we pretty well fried the girls yesterday, and would like to avoid their mother's wrath as much as possible, we decided they'd best not to go swimming today. So, everybody's going to see the latest Jack Sparrow flick this afternoon. I wanna go, too, but somebody needs to stay with the wee ones. Smidge, Miss Emily and I are going to go visiting with friends and relax a bit in the relative quiet.

Should be good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, July 13

Hey, it's a 2AM blogging!

We're having a fantastic time with our company. Particularly, I believe, when you consider the mind-boggling logistics of navigating around the schedules, preferences, and communication patterns of eleven people. We're doin' pretty well.

I really love blogging in the middle of the night. The house is quiet, the children aren't being neglected in order to gain computer time, and the coffee pot is mine, all mine! (That, and I have some strange disorder that will not allow me to just turn the pot off and go. to. bed. No, if there is still coffee in the pot and nobody else is going to drink it, I cannot leave it there. Just can't do it, sorry.) So tonight, I was going to spend a good, lengthy time recounting all the interesting tidbits that have transpired the last few days.

However, the phone just rang - yes, at two in the morning - it was one of the girls, calling to say they can't sleep.

Now, it's not that our nieces are strange young ladies who enjoy phoning relatives in the middle of the night to share their insomnia. It's just that we rented a boat today and the girls thought it might be fun to camp out on the river. Seems the 'skeeters thought that was mighty generous of them, though, and the girls have decided perhaps it's best to run for the shore while they still have enough blood left in them to think straight. Zorak just pulled out to rescue them - he may stay on the boat. Miss Emily and I may slather on the 'skeeter repellent and join him. Then, too, he may just tie the thing to a stump and pray for calm weather 'til after breakfast! I guess we'll know in a little while.

One benefit of having a house full of engineers: all your broken things get fixed! So far, between Ward, Creighton (brother-in-law) and Zorak, our coffee pot no longer leaks, the handle on the cooler will once again retract, and we think we know what's wrong with the Suburban. It doesn't get much better than this. I may just do a round of laundry for everyone tomorrow - on me! (Hey, when you don't go to a bar, you make do.)

Our nieces, who, by our recollections, ought to be a mere four and six years old, are actually quite enjoyable fourteen and sixteen year old girls - and we're so enjoying them. They're a little quiet, and I sometimes wonder just how badly we may rattle them with our noise and antics and unrepentant giggling over admittedly sophomoric bodily functions. Probably won't do any long-term scarring, at least. That's good. But we're enjoying them a great deal.

And I do believe I hear a car pulling up the drive, so I'm off to find out the status of the situation. Will talk to y'all later~

Kiss those babies!

Monday, July 10

Welcome to the Family

This Sunday, Miss Emily was brought into the covenant family. Pastor didn't pour water three times over her, as was done with the other boys. Just once in this ceremony. When I mentioned this at supper, my brother-in-law (father of two wonderful girls, himself) said that's because boys need the extra washing. ;-)

We did a quick scramble to get all the ends tied up nice and quick so that she could be baptized while her namesake could attend. (Can you tell they're enjoying one another?)
And here she is with her GodPapa, Mr. Ward.

The boys were proud to be there, and we had a heck of a time keeping everyone facing somewhat forward for pictures. I'll have to edit some, as our neices are in most of them and I don't have their Mama's permission to post their images. However, here's a cute one of Miss Em and Her Guys. (Note how both boys made sure they are touching her. That's our pastor, holding Emily.)

We're having a lovely visit, and got some great pictures to share, but the computer is still in the guest room and that means there's no two AM blogging. It's way too busy to blog during the day (right now my online banking isn't working, so I'm goofing off on allotted time *grin*), but am thinking of y'all and hoping everyone is having a Very Nice Summer Week.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, July 8

Visiting Time

Visiting Time runs differently than Regular Time, or School Time, or even Christmas Time (which, we all know, runs at one speed for adults and at another for children - truly, the most unique time of all!) But Visiting Time is different altogether than any other Time.

Mornings linger longer and then vanish completely, seemingly without warning. There is no steady progression of time from waking to noon. Days become somewhat superfluous, as if today being Thursday or Saturday really mattered to begin with. Meals seem to anchor the days, and aside from the late night dragging of bodies to bed, become the only time to gauge the actual passing of time.

Visiting Time is a slower time. A pot of coffee may disappear in the blink of an eye, but an entire morning will pass before anyone thinks to head out or be productive. The gaunt expressions of the children generally trigger a quick time check... and breakfast.

Visiting Time is a time for sharing stories. Sometimes the stories are new. Often, they are old favorites, retold for newcomers to the porch, or shared again simply for the warmth and humor they impart. They become more interesting when told through two or three perspectives, the convolutions growing deeper and more insightful as the story progresses.

Visiting Time is a time to sit back and really watch your children. Since there is no schedule to keep, you sit back and see them through the eyes of your visitors. And you realize that these little people truly are just as neat as you thought, but sometimes forgot. They're also bound to surprise you with some new trick, or comment, or behavior, now that you're paying attention.

Visiting Time is a time to share favorite recipes, call in requests for new ones, and break out the good china. Or the paper plates. It really doesn't matter, because it's not about the things; it's about the time.

Visiting Time goes way too quickly, when your visitors are wonderful.

Thursday, July 6

What a great feeling!

We actually got the house down to 72' yesterday evening. While that was a bit too chilly, even for us, it felt good to do it, anyway. The inside of the Forever Home is now a climate-controlled 79', and the difference is amazing. Not just the temperature, but the humidity! Our new little condensate pump is earning its keep pretty pronto! Yay!

The boys set off fireworks in the front yard with Zorak and Mr. Ward (boys and big boys, I suppose - something about noise and fire that speaks to the very heart of many generations of men). Granny kept to the living room with Miss Emily and Balto - both of whom were none too thrilled with the noises, lights, and smells of fireworks. (Melora, I think Balto would've loved to have had some of Bo's stash of nerve-calming goodies! Poor nervous little thing.) I took some pictures, but mostly just wandered into the house... ahhh... back out onto the porch... back into the house... ahhhhh... back out... in... ahhh... I think I walked twelve miles last night. And you know, it felt wonderful to come inside every. single. time.

Today, we've all had more energy than we've had in ages. The house has been tidied, meals prepared and eaten, wash done (and dried! woohoo!), and yet nobody's coated in a salty, dried-sweat crust. Miss Emily's hair, what little she has, is quite pretty when it isn't encapsulated in sweat beads. It's actually fluffy! Mr. Ward keeps teasing me that now I'll be getting all uppity, since I have a washer and a/c. Admittedly, I do feel pretty darned spoiled, but I figure I'll whip up a tasty supper tonight and a cool, homestyle dessert to quell any rumors right away. *grin*

That means I, erm, need to go buy some meat at the market, and um... yeah. Better get on that!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, July 4

Not Dead (yet)

Hello, hello!

Well, the company we expected to arrive Saturday evening called from the corner market in the morning. That slowed us down, but we had a great time visiting, and had an extra set of hands to help get the place ready for our company arriving on Monday.

Until, that is, they pulled up Saturday evening!

So, we've done a lot of visiting and working, but not much downtime the past few days. The ductwork wasn't completed and ready for HVAC Guy to pick up until yesterday afternoon, so it will be tomorrow before we get the a/c hooked up. Talk about trial by fire: we've peaked 100' at least once since our company arrived! Boy, does that feel inhospitable. But thankfully, our company is gracious and has borne the discomfort without much fuss.

You've never seen three happier children, though, than when Granny climbed out of her car Saturday! We were out in the yard, enjoying the cool evening breeze. The boys had their bikes out. Smidge was doing his best to keep up on his little trike. Mr. Ward had the air compressor out and was running pit crew. Balto just ran from boy to adult, basking in the head rubs and energy. Then a strange car pulled up. And Granny got out - that's when chaos hit full steam!

John just about killed himself trying to get off his bike - first, he tipped it over, then he got his foot caught trying to get up. He finally extricated his foot, but left his boot behind. By the time he got himself put back together, she was halfway across the yard.

Smidge was so excited, he didn't know what to do. He'd run toward her, screaming, "Granny! My Granny at MY home!" Then it would hit him, and he'd run back to the porch to tell us that his Granny was at HIS home. He'd do a little dance, then realize he hadn't hugged her yet and off he'd go, making it part way across the yard and then back to the porch. The whole time, giggling and yelling and announcing that Granny was actually HERE!

James wanted to show whomever it was that had arrived his new bike tricks, so he was way at the top of the upper meadow before she got out of the car. Once he started down, he realized who it was and, well, that kind of excitement will sure mess up your ability to steer. Straight into the swing set, he went. He had an easier time of it removing himself from the wreckage, but was about as conflicted as Smidge as to whether to salvage the show and greet her with an impressive display, or toss it for now and go hang on Granny.

In the end, it was a wonderful evening, filled with lightning bugs and biking, iced tea and good company. It was the kind of thing we wanted this house to offer, and it does.

We'll be heading out to a party at church here in a bit. The boys are out with Granny, buying fireworks. (That's a lot like sending me to buy tomatoes and beer, but she's been a trooper about it.) Zorak and Mr. Ward are putting the finishing touches on the HVAC system so it will be ready to roll in the morning.

Sears called to confirm our "Special Delivery" tomorrow - they'll be here in the afternoon. I may wash things that don't even need washing, just for fun!

Have a splendid and wonderful Fourth of July! Give thanks for the blessings in your life, and as always, kiss those babies!