Thursday, August 31

Sargent, The Troops Are Mobile!

It looks like Miss Emily needs some good camo to go with her Army crawl. She's whizzing from place to place, completing mission objectives with alarming speed. It also seems she will be the one child of ours who'll eat anything. Tonight, she ate two patches off Smidge's Pioneer Club baldrick.

Zorak's workplace had its once-a-year mandatory-fun-day today. This is the one time of year family members are allowed on base without having to give bodily fluid samples and extensive background information. They had good food, mediocre music, and the most frightfully rude clown I've ever seen in my life. At least, in a child-oriented clown. There was that awkward incident in the hospitality room with the Shriners one year, but as far as an on-the-job kids' clown goes, this guy took the cake. We nearly walked off when he tried to convince James that it's okay to tell your mother, "Chill, Woman," when she corrects you for breaking a pretty common rule. James didn't know how to take the man, and he stood quietly while I stood my ground. When the man told me that kids don't have to ask permission to touch other people's things, the kid stepped back a bit, and the look on his face was a cross between, "I don't want to be near you when the lightning strikes," and "Is this how rabies manifests itself in humans?" The man went on to brag about how he taught his four year old grandson to throw up his hand and say, "Speak to the hand" when the child's mother asked him to come here. I've never seen someone act so gleefully spiteful like that, but he certainly didn't make a positive impression on any of the kids in line with us. Or their mothers. What a jackass. Once we escaped the sociopath clown, however, we had a lovely time.

James did a great impression of a 65-year old Catholic lady on Bingo night. I had to stay at the Bingo Tent while Zorak took Smidge and John fishing because James simply was not going to move. Well, no, that's not accurate. If we'd told him it was time to go, he'd have gone, and he would not have complained. He is very good about that. We just couldn't bring ourselves to do that to him, though. He was in the ZONE, and having an absolute blast. It's not often he finds activities that grab his attention like that - activities that are just for fun, no mathematical work, no cerebral challenge, just fun. Be a kid. Talk with your neighbors. Giggle. Chat. Eat ice cream. That's it, kid, have fun. How could we say no? So, we didn't. And I'm so glad.

John got to fish a while, and on the way out, he fielded a foul ball back to a softball game. The guys were so sweet to him, and you'd have thought he'd been allowed to join in pre-season play for the pros. Man, that was cute. Then he walked right into the wagon as we left because he couldn't peel his eyes off the game. Um, yeah, outfield may not be the position for him...

And that wonderful weather? It held. It was delightful! The air, it moved. The sun, it shone gently. The temperature, it stayed put. Oh, man, this was nice!

Oh, and while I'm at it: THREE CHEERS FOR JIM AND LISA, the MATH-U-SEE reps in Georgia!! I placed my order Tuesday, smack at the height of Panic-Stricken Curriculum Ordering Season, and this afternoon we had a box waiting for us on the porch. Wow, great service, guys!! The boys opened the box, gathered up their new books, and paraded them around with glee. We also got an incredibly clear sentence from Smidge, who pointed to the stack and said, "I want a book like THAT!" Math-U-See: not just for math skills anymore! Yay. :-)

The day ended on a delightful note. There are very few regrets in looking back over the day. Plenty of smiles. A lot of hugs and hand-holding. Tons of giggles, and a lot of working together. It was a good day. A day to savor, and remember.

Off to kiss my babies!

Wednesday, August 30

Blessed Reprieve

Summer would be wonderful if it wasn't so hot. Or if my children were content to sit quietly under the ceiling fan, mainlining iced drinks and listening to stories. Alas, I have four of them, and they are truly ours, so... no, it doesn't work like that. They have Zorak's seemingly limitless energy, combined with my intolerance for the heat and humidity. If we could rig a child-sized hamster wheel to a generator, we could turn the A/C down to 70 and still cut our electric bill in half.

The thing is, by the time we get up in the morning, it is very hot 'n sticky outside. The air is suffocating and still. It hangs heavily, clinging to your neck, your eyelids, your nostrils, filling your throat with its sticky, moist presence. Before you can descend the porch steps, your body is coated in a thick, salty film, not a refreshing, drenching sweat, but rather a heavy, oily sealant. Try this to get the full effect:
Rub lotion lightly onto your hands. Now stick them in dirt and wave them around. Then put them in the oven - just turn it to 200' and hold them in the open door for a minute.
OK, now imagine that sensation on your neck, your torso, your inner thighs. Call me a weenie, but I can't enjoy that feeling.

Thankfully, the temperatures over the next few days are supposed to be in the mid-80's. I never thought I'd say this, but YAY! Mid-80's, I can handle. The boys are dying to be outside for more than ten minutes at a time. I am dying for them to be outside for more than ten minutes at a time. The dog would be thrilled to have them outside... ok, let's just say this dip in temps will make everyone Very Happy. And our home has been such a source of comfort, to have one place we can go to get out of the humidity and heat, to sprawl out in relative comfort and while away the hottest hours of the summer. It'll be nice to get out and stretch our legs, but it's been nice to have a hidey hole, too.

And soon, fall...

Fall, with its smells, its harvests, its festivals, and bearable temperatures outdoors. Sweet, sweet fall. It will do wonders for all of us, I think.

Ten more days til Smidge's birthday. Zorak will be on the road again next week, arriving home late the evening before the big day, if all goes well. I thought he'd earned enough travel points to get a waiver on this one, but it seems not. We'd thought about making another big family trek out of it, but there's still so much to do here, and I don't think the little ones are up for another long trip from home just yet. So we will stay home and prepare for the birthday, work on our home and our lessons. We will press our noses against the glass, waiting for fall, and for Daddy's return.

It's good to have a home that keeps us safe and dry amidst all life's quirks - big and little. It truly is a blessed reprieve.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 29

Setting Goals and Living the Dream

Man, this is nice. The house is quiet, the coffe is hot, and the computer is up and running. Sometimes, that's payment enough at the end of a long day. Most of the time, though, that's not all the payment that comes. How I ended up with this sweet, sweet life is somewhat beyond my comprehension, but I'm glad for it.

I'd mentioned that during our "OK, Let's Look Normal" pow-wow, the boys and I set goals. Today, they began putting them into motion. It's fun to see children setting and then reaching for their own goals.

John's one self-set goal for this year is to have his own reading log by Christmas. Not one I write in for him, but one he maintains himself. Today, the child spent two hours reading, "as practice" for improving his writing skills. I sat back and grinned like the Cheshire Cat.

James would like to do more writing. He's switched to using cursive exclusively, on his own, aside from letter-writing to friends who don't read cursive yet (which I thought was so sweet that he'd think of it on his own). He is also determined to read all the books written by several authors he's found recently.

Both boys would like to pursue art and music this year.

For my part, I would like to see us spend this year on Rome, tying our Latin studies in with our History and language studies, moving into the Middle Ages in late spring of '07. Not sure how that's going to pan out. We are already several years out of synch with "the plan", but it doesn't seem to have hurt anyone, so we'll just put that under the gee-I'm-glad-we're-flexible list and move on.

Fall is coming (eventually), and that's exciting to me, as this summer has simply been too hot to get out and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. Hopefully, the boys will have ample opportunity to break in their backpacks and drawing supplies! Oh, and the messenger bag I bought? Got it at Target, but found one I wish I'd bought, instead. You can get it from American Science & Surplus. You can find it on this page, the "Not Black Canvas Bag" at the top. Check it out, shop around - they have a ton of stuff you'll realize you really need, so even with shipping, you'll come out ahead. Or broke. But you'll have a nifty bag to live out of!

And so as not to break our productive streak, I've got to get to bed. Those small ones seem to use energy more efficiently than I'm capable of, and they're starting to gain on me.

Kiss those babies!

Please Print This Page

I love seeing that message. It means I've just purchased something, usually curriculum or books. It means I've written a schedule, or a list, which I will probably lose. It also reminds me that I can now print that page. So I do. Just for fun. It doesn't take much.

Well, after James informed me that he is a little sad that he won't be promoting to the third grade Sunday School class with his friends, I realized it's THAT TIME OF YEAR for everyone else. (Yes. I know. As if the sales, the queries, the suggestions for First Day of School Fun Stuff, the *ahem* blogging, weren't clues enough. *sigh* I know.)

So, in an effort to appear a little less odd than we actually are, the children and I held a pow-wow yesterday to discuss our goals for the year, which include, but are not limited to, not taking a four month break, including more music, adding in a formal science program, and getting up to speed on our curriculum choices. We will have a big day next Monday (yeah, again with the oblivion, I can't be the only one who didn't know it's a holiday...) er, Tuesday, then, wherein we will observe the formal beginning of both First and Third grades for the boys. Smidge wants to be blue. So, we'll have a first grader, a third grader, and the blue kid. Miss Emily may, or may not, be promoted to Toddler this term, but the Principal and I have agreed to have a little inservice meeting to discuss the options later. ;-)

Then I phoned the church to confirm that yes, James did pass this year, and please put him in the third grade class. His teacher laughed and said she remembered that we homeschool year-round and figured it just wasn't something that had come up yet. She'd already put his name on the third grade roster. (Bless that woman!)

And so, with our calendar filled in (Science Fair on the 8th; Smidge's b-day on the 9th - again, already?; Moundville Indian Festival coming up; promotion Sunday on the 3rd; new math, latin, and copy books; Zorak going TDY - WTH... again, already?!? *sigh*) I'd like to say I dusted the living room and put on a little music for the children and I to read by. But I didn't. I freaked, put the calendar away, popped in Chicken Little, and grabbed a cup of coffee. I can only handle knowing so much about what we need to get done. Seriously. This is new to me.

In my younger days, I'd ask, "What about the adventure of denial? The heart-stopping terror that is throwing together a science project while flying down the Interstate, praying for time to stop so you can make it on time. The cry of the infant, the whine of the toddler, the anxious bickering of the neglected older children. What would life be like without that niggling feeling whispering to you at night that you've Forgotten Something... Something Important?"

Well, now I know, and I don't particularly care for either option. But there is something to be said for facing the dread of upcoming responsibilities with more than 15 minutes of preparation... it's still somewhat heart-stopping, but does cut down on much of the audible background whining. So, we'll keep plugging along. We'll write in in, and then print that page.

Someday I'll get the hang of this.
Kiss those babies!

Sunday, August 27

What to print, what to print?

Oh, joy! Elation! Our new printer arrived while we were gone. It's now hooked up and functional. I printed numerous test pages, some activity sheets for the boys for church today, and then... I drew a blank. There are so many things I have been simply anxious to print for the MONTHS (and months, and months) that we've been without a functional printer. Now, can't even find the things I'd saved to print off!

Honestly, I think it's the speed of the printer. The thing goes so quickly and stealthily that I panic. I used to have time to peruse things, compose the items I wanted to print out, and have a cup of coffee while another project printed. No downtime. I felt rather productive. But now, the thing spits out the job and then sits there, staring at me. THE PRESSURE!!! (Oh, but it's nice!)

Mr. Ward joined us for church this morning. He's in the zone right now, and a church home is in the forefront of his mind. I think he liked it, as he did a drive-by after the service from the church to the house they have a contract on right now. 2.5 miles - pfft, I'm envious! Even if he doesn't end up coming to this church, though, I think he's now primed and ready to find one for himself and his wife when they get settled. (It's always the first visit that seems the hardest to just get up and go do, isn't it?)

And the brain? It's not fully engaged yet. Still very sleepy. Not witty. Not organized. Just sleepy. It's like living inside a cotton ball. Thankfully, the boys don't require any actual venturing out and about tomorrow. We'll do lessons, tidy, engage the brain tranny and see if we can slip into second gear. Maybe. Or we'll leave it in neutral and coast for another couple of days. That's always nice, too.

Kiss those babies!

Quick Recap

We ate very poorly, spent far too much time in the sun, and it will take us a full week to catch up on our sleep, not to mention getting the sand out of nature's crannies. But what a great trip! These kids are so much fun to travel with. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Miss Emily has eaten her fair share of sand, and found it to be quite tasty, gauging from the amount of time she spent grazing the beach. I bought her a sun bonnet, and she hates it. Fortunately, it ties under her chin, so she's stuck with it and is at my mercy. Took me a bit to convince the boys that she was not going to be strangled with it, though. (Glad to know they listen to our "never put anything around your neck" speeches!)

Smidge wore himself out running from the waves. Back to the waves. After the seagulls. From the seagulls. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you must RUN! And squeal! Stop to giggle. Then RUN again!

Most of the time, I only saw James and John from the shoulders, up. They hit the water and didn't emerge until the skin began curling from my body, in spite of the 35 SPF coating, and I insisted that six hours was enough time on the beach for one day. The surf was pretty rough, and although I'm not up on maritime terminology, the red flags on the beach didn't look terribly encouraging, in my estimation. Did that deter the boys any? Nope. They just flung themselves face first into the fray and called it good. I don't know how a boy can go under a wave, come up blustery and irate that he got water up his nose, yet dive back in, only to re-emerge a few seconds later, bleeding from multiple wounds, shouting, "WOW! That was FUN!" Obviously, I was never a little boy. All I could think was, "They're going to attract sharks if they keep bleeding like that."

In the end, though, I'm the only one that got seriously burned. No sharks came to feast on my children. Miss Emily seems to have passed most of the sand, and thankfully, seems completely unphased by it.

We had a very good time catching up with my friend from high school (his name is also James, so for clarification sake, we'll refer to him as "Mr. James"). The boys adored him. I enjoyed his company tremendously, but tried hard not to impose our presence upon him too much (we can be a bit of a shock). He gave the boys a tour of the police department, which they could not wait to tell Zorak about this morning. The biggest hits being the scale in the processing room, the license plate cover on his cruiser (it's on the back and says, "Smile... I could be behind you.") and the Chief's office (he has a box of goodies and lets the kids pick something out when they visit). Mr. James graciously agreed to join us on the dolphin cruise when I was informed that they had a 2:1 child-adult restriction, but we let him off the hook when the amenities lady realized she'd called the wrong boating place and yes, I can, if I am odd enough to want to, take all four children aboard all by myself.

The dolphin cruise was amazing. John saw a jellyfish cruising along (glad I didn't think about that before we hit the beach!) James saw a crab swimming alongside the boat (had no clue they did that, and I thought he must have been mistaken, but the cute young lady beside him confirmed that that's what it was - how cool!) The dolphins came and swam by the bow of the boat, showing off for the crowd. Miss Emily got loved on and serenaded by a delightful couple from Georgia - in Ukranian, no less. James got his "sea legs" (translation: he quit slamming into the rails). John fell in love with the sea, in general. Smidge hung with the big kids pretty darned well, but slept like a rock once his head hit the pillow. Or the floor.

After we checked out of the hotel on Friday, we had the chance to visit with Anniesue and her adorable little chunk of toddler, T. Willy. He and Smidge made fast friends, playing in the sand, eating grapes. The bigger boys got in more beach time, and Anniesue and I had a very nice time visiting. She's so sweet! And she is funny - she made me smile a lot, so don't let her tell you otherwise. I was glad she took the time to come and meet up with us, but was sad that I'd left her number at home on the counter and didn't get to get together earlier in the visit. You know, before my brain was fried. However, hopefully we'll be able to see them again the next time we go down.

And yes, in spite of muttering under my breath at six in the morning on Wednesday that I was never. doing. this. again (I really hate packing and planning), we have got to do this again. It was really fun! But next time, we need to stay a full week, and we need to take Zorak, too.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 23

T-minus two hours, fifty-eight minutes

You'd think I'd be asleep, huh? *snort* It'll be so nice once the boys can drive.

Ahhh. That is the sigh of accomplishment. The alarm is set. The laundry is done. The kitchen, while not clean, at least will not attract feral hogs while we're gone. And, the bags are loaded and waiting by the door.

The boys are packed in their very own, brand new backpacks! Are they ever excited about it, too. I'm talking Price Is Right, excited. James' bag has enough pockets and gadget holders to keep him happy well into his early teens. John's has Superman on the front and TWO cup holders. What more could a boy ask for? Smidge inherited John's old backpack (the one the wooden blocks came in...) and James has requested that his old pack be set aside for Miss Emily. So, we should be set for a number of years, now. We'll see how this foray into the realm of personal responsibility goes. Ideally, each boy will guard his pack with all his wee might, and I will be unencumbered by the earthly belongings of our entourage. Experience has proven, however, that, at least for a little while, I will now be responsible for not one bag, but four. Sometimes I'm still amazed that Someone thought me capable of being The Mom.

Ooooo! Big splurge today: I bought a messenger bag! It's been a long time coming, as my diaper bag (a backpack) has served me well through four children. Prior to that, it served Zorak through three years of college. Can't complain, but it's clear the poor thing would like a rest. It would also like not to carry small things, as it's begun spitting them out through holes in the bottom. Anyhow, I've had some pretty graphic dreams about having a bag large enough to handle all my stuff without squashing anything, and without hanging awkwardly off one shoulder. The messenger bag seems to fit the bill. This thing is LOADED: sketch pads, colored pencils, pens, teething tablets, a change of clothes, wallet, brain candy (for Mom and Kids!), sunscreen, phone, diapers, wipes, envelopes and paper (not that I actually expect to write letters, but I could if I wanted to - and we know it's all about the ambiance). I think it weighs about the same as Miss Emily, so the theory I'm going with is that if she's on one side, in the sling, and the bag is on the other, I may walk upright for the first time in a long time! Or, people will mistake me for a pack mule and try to hire me out.

Aside from my idiotic decision to leave at o'dark hundred Wednesday morning, I'm pleased with the plans and the overall feel of the trip.

And Miss Emily is up, which is my cue to head off to bed!
Kiss those babies!

Monday, August 21

Going On Vacation

I don't think we've vacationed somewhere other than the homes of friends or relatives in... in... um... well, ever. This is foreign ground for me, and I'm certain the places I called thought they were being cranked by Mel Tillis, for all the stuttering and stammering I did on the phone. Conversations went something like this:

Operator: "Welcome to ReallyLongNameOfRandomResort, where your comfort is our concern (or some such slogan)."

Me: Yeah, hi... um, honey I'm on the phone. Please wait.

Operator: *confused pause* Okay...

Me: Oh, no, not you. Sorry. Children. Have them. I do.

Operator: *sigh* No problem, ma'am. How can I help you.

Me: Well, I need a room. Er, suite. Or, uhhhh... (trying to remember where it is I just called) lodging. Yeah, lodging.

Operator: For how many adults?

Me: One.

Operator: How many children?

Me: Four.

Operator: What?

Me: What?

Operator: How many children?

Me: Four... please don't do that.

Operator: Ma'am?

Me: Um, sorry, children.

Operator: Okay, so you'll be wanting a three bedroom condo...

Me: NO! I mean, not you. Well, yes. No, I wouldn't like a three bedroom condo. But the emphasis. Hang on. *trying to muffle the phone* If you want to sleep somewhere other than the Suburban while we are there, I suggest you find something to do other than stand right here, arguing with your brother. I will take the bench seat, I swear I will, and you will be left with the floor. Now, GO! *ahem* Yes, anyway, a one bedroom would be fine. They're small.

Operator: Our one bedrooms are about 800 square feet...

Me: Oh, *nervous titter* I meant the children. They're small. Well, two of 'em are, anyway. One bedroom would be fine.

Operator: How long will you need accomodations, and what is your arrival date?

Me: *I give her the dates.*

Operator: *pause* Two days? You're coming for two days?

Me: Yes... *awkward pause* *more awkward pausing - dead silence on the other end, and I'm wondering what further information I could possibly add to that* ...It's a short trip.

Operator: *wondering just how large the deposit on this place ought to be* OK, Ma'am, I have a one bedroom with a pullout sofa, pullout kitchen table and sheets for the ironing board. Would you like beach front or *muffled something I could never quite catch*

Me: Water. I want to see the water. Easily. Without having to stand on the railing.

Operator: *chuckling* (Although I'm not sure if it's good-naturedly, or just hoping to get through this without yelling "FIRE! FIRE!" and hanging up the phone.) Alright, we have you set with a one-bedroom unit with free beach umbrella for *insert random price, here*

And, Voila! It took only two hours of phone calls and web surfing and we have a place to stay. I hope it's a wonderful place. One we will return to time and again so that I never have to have those conversations again.

So, condo is reserved. Lest you think I'm getting all uppity, let me say that beachfront condos are about 20% LESS expensive than your average Best Western (not that I'm naming names or anything... *ahem*) So, I can save 20%, AND I get a kitchen, so we don't have to eat out all the time (thus saving even more money), AND I get a bedroom in which to tuck the wee burnt darlings at the end of the day, AND a beach front balcony, with unlimited hot coffee at my disposal? Oh, my, word. I may never want to leave.

And I so need to hit the library for a little brain candy to take on this trip!

Sadly, that's about as far as I've made it. Total lock up. I can't think what else to bring. Obviously, clothing, sun screen, snorkels, um... what do people take on vacation?!? Hit me with your best short-but-sweet vacation list. (The trip is short, but the list probably ought to be, also, since I won't have another responsible adult for backup.) Remember, I'm a minimalist. Before having children, I traveled with an internal frame backpack, no matter how long I was going to be gone. If I could fit diapers and socks for all of us in my backpack, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

The boys have the map spread out in the dining room, and have marked off our route (James), inquired about fishing (John), and shouted "Wango beee! Wango beee!" (Um, that would be Smidge, yes. Translation: Want to go to the beach!) I think they're excited about the trip.

I'll get to touch base with a friend I haven't seen in 16 years. Egads, that's a long time. But I am so excited, and it'll be nice to visit and enjoy a legal beer together. :-)

Oh, and I did find one completely goof-nut tourist thing we simply must do: Dolphin Cruise!

Now, to locate a Crunchy Market, something that will make me look decent in a swimsuit in less than 48 hours, and a black market source for gas and I'm good!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, August 19

Really Be There

The biggest challenge, for me, of the part-time single parenting gig is just how much work it takes to balance all the needs of all the people, when there is only one of me. Er, of us. He's not another "me", but he sure is handy! For the most part, we handle the separation well by focusing on the positive things: the living room stays tidied, the laundry is easier to manage; meals are a bit less formal, but still nutritious; evenings don't have the same feel to them, but we do get through them. In general. The boys know Dad will return, and all will be well. I know it's temporary, and so, it's fine.

Smidge, however, has been hit the hardest this week. You see, in his two year old vision, there is no next week or last week. There is here, and now. There is the immediate and the impending, although the latter is pretty vague and manifests itself as more of a sensation than an upcoming event. And at bedtime, it hits him the hardest.

Bedtime itself hits me the hardest. Unless you could be billed as a double-jointed singing, juggling wonder (which, I couldn't), it's difficult to floss someone's teeth while the wailing infant is dangling precariously over your knee, her head coming uncomfortably close to both the tile floor and her brother's flailing feet. Why does he have to do an Irish jig while brushing his teeth, anyway?

Someone is always running around, clad in only skivvies, singing songs through his nose. Someone else is always leaping, gazelle-fashion, down the hallway, then slamming, mosh pit-fashion, into the door jamb. The boys seem to love bedtime, although I'm pretty sure we don't have the same goal in mind. Miss Emily seems to loathe bedtime, and I can't say I blame her. But Smidge, well, it's hard to be two.

What he wants and needs, come bedtime, is far from what I usually have left to give him. He needs a soft, gentle round of "I love you, a bushel and a peck..." He needs Tommy Tinkers and the Granny treatment. He needs "fife stories", at least. And he gets those, but somehow, they aren't enough.

Because those are the trappings, the decorative wrappers around what he really desires: he needs me to look directly into his eyes, with my whole body telling him that he is special, and that this time is for him. He needs that song to be sung with all of the attention my heart can give. He needs me to show him that all this craziness means something, and that it will be okay. He needs to have ten minutes where he is the center of my heart's attention.

And yet, every night I tell myself that I need to rush through bedtime and get these kids to BED. NOW. Hut, hut, chop, chop, let's Go, People! And they go. And we rush. And then, when it's all said and done, there are tears. I'm frazzled. I'm done. What? What's the problem? Didn't we sing? Didn't we read? Didn't I fluff your blanket enough to make that stupid fabric softening bear envious?

I'm ashamed to admit that even the tears aren't always enough to pull me back to reality. It's so easy, in the middle of the day, with the sun shining, and a full tank of energy, to smile at strangers as they pass us and say, "Pardon us, we move on toddler time." It's not so easy to keep moving on toddler time, especially when there is the promise of rest, quiet, and a chance to sit, quivering on the couch, and recover from the day. Perhaps even get up and walk around the living room in complete strides, rather than the short-legged shuffle at which I usually pace myself. But then there are the tears, and the what's-wrong-now, and the fleeting thought that if I toss enough stuffed dogs in there with him, he'll calm down and be okay.

And then I click. Because I'm slow sometimes. And I put the baby in the swing with whatever is on hand (probably some completely inappropriate toy, like Daddy's glasses, or my car remote), give the big boys an extra ten minutes to read in bed, and just sit with Smidge. Hold his little face in my hands and kiss all over him. Pull him into my lap on the floor and whisper with him. Ten minutes to be all his. And in return, he is all mine. And it's wonderful. The day's stresses recede, the week's worries melt off our shoulders, and we taste, however briefly, the sweetness that is this life.

And I'm an idiot for not remembering that. It's like Groundhog Day around here, you'd think I would clue in! ARGH. But even though I am nowhere near the mother this child deserves, he keeps reminding me that I am his, and that this is now, and that it's always going to be busy and hectic, but that it's no excuse for ignoring the important things.

I love you,
a bushel and a peck,
a bushel and a peck,
and a hug around the neck.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, August 17

Welcome to the USSA

Maybe we should have kept the KGB foyer...

National ID Cards

I'm just sick. Absolutely sick.

I'm going to go kiss my babies, and mull.


Wednesday, August 16

The Things They Do

It's funny to watch the boys. Usually from a fairly safe distance. With coffee in hand.

John has been Very Six lately, riding his brothers like a little rule-master, leaving very little room for grace. James did this at six. Friends' children have done this at six. Doesn't make it any more pleasant, but at least we know it's not us. But yesterday, as we head into the dentist's office, John says to James, "OK, while you're still here, I have to ask. Do you want us to go in with you this time? You know, because I worried about you back there last time."

Well, where did that come from? And what will it take for it to stay?

James, after absolutely nothing happened at his last visit, was feeling pretty big, so he said he'd like us to wait in the lobby for him. OK. *sniff sniff* (Motherhood seems to be a series of events that leave me completely torn, no matter what happens. Part of me wanted to be back there, to hold my baby's hand. Part of me was rather glad I could sit in the lobby with the other three, where we each had someplace to sit. You know, not on top of one another. Y'all know what I'm saying, I know you do.)

John positioned himself where he could see down the hall to the exam rooms - presumably so he could run to James' aid if the bat signal flashed. Em, Smidge, and I curled up on a couch and... I don't know what we did. There was no actual sitting still, and I can't remember finishing the dolphin book, or the duck book, or the kitten book. There was a lot of talking, and a lot of general activity, but this part's a little fuzzy. It's like drinking, without the hangover.

We were there about ten minutes, when Miss Tammy, the World's Greatest Hygienist, came back and said our presence was requested. Again with the two minds: "Oh, my baby needs me, let's go," and "You mean I have to gather all this stuff that's seeped out of the bag and MOVE?"

It turns out, all was well with the big, independent child, until the numbing process kicked in. Then he felt that perhaps a little Mama Presence might be handy. But the thing that had me chuckling all the way down the hall was John.

He snapped his book shut, hopped to his feet and muttered, "Well, it's about time."

Everything went well. As usual. The offending tooth was removed (it was already loose, so it didn't take much work), and as the boys received their goody bags, James asked, "But, when are you going to take out the tooth?" Miss Tammy laughed and told him it's already out, and the look on his face when he stuck his tongue through the hole was hilarious.

Hopefully, we won't have to go anywhere today. We'll just stay home and recuperate.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 15

What did you EAT?

Delightful days. They come along on occasion, and we soak them up. We smile at our children as they play together peacefully. We sigh with joy as they do kind things for one another... we, wait. That wasn't today. Today was good, but it wasn't that kind of good. It was typical, "I have four children and no organizational skills," good. I take what I can get.

We left for the library after completing our lessons, tidying the kitchen, making some fabulous muffins, and rearranging the living room. We also cleaned the bathroom, did a load of wash and picked up the dining room. It would probably sound impressive if I just stopped talking there, but in the interest of honesty, we, erm, didn't leave the house until three-thirty.

I hid my non-Southern hair in a clippie, which almost hides the flaws. Almost. It's kind of like wearing a dickie under a blazer; everyone knows it's not a real turtleneck sweater under there, but nobody's so rude as to say anything about it. To your face. Ok, I'm good with that. Now I just hope the children don't ever find my clippie hiding spot and use it for "The Claw!!" I have lost more of these things that way...

Anyway, we loaded up, feeling very with-it and adventurous, and headed into Decatur to check out the library. That was when James busted me. I was singing a song as I unloaded the Small Ones, and he said, "What song is that, Mom?" Oh, just one I made up. "Yeah, but what's the tune from? Where'd you get that?" HE KNOWS! He now knows I don't have a rythmic bone in my body! He knows now that I am nothing more than a *gasp* lyric hack! Wait till we have to cover budgeting and finances. It's a long, yet rapid, trip from Awe-Inspiring Omniscient Mother to Whatever Replaces Awe-Inspiring Omniscient Mother.

We got into the library and got in line behind the one guy at the counter. And there we stayed for just over 20 minutes, while four library workers tried to explain to him that no, he doesn't have a fine, and yes, he can use his card, and no, really, there's no fine. The line began to build behind us. The boys became antsy. Miss Emily wanted D-O-W-N. It was all I could do not to just reach over and swivel the monitor to face him so he could see it in writing and go about his day. But then, with four women standing there, nodding, looking Very Authoritative, I really expected that at any moment one of them would maybe go man one of the other machines. Didn't happen.

Smidge started out well, but by the time we were motioned forward, he was a Puppy Dog. A panting, whimpering, on-all-fours Puppy Dog. I have no idea where this came from (or why he graced us with it right then). He wasn't like that when we loaded up! I actually asked the boys if they'd fed him anything on the way to the library. I checked for crumbs, artificially colored moustache stains, telltale chocolate smears. Nothing. Either it was just a strange burst of energy, or those children have become exceedingly efficient at Evidence Removal.

In the end, we all got cards, even Dog-boy. We picked out our TWO books (first time borrowing on a new card they limit to two items - thankfully we have to be back in town tomorrow), and came home to enjoy the adventures of the Ancient Greeks, Miss Sophie, and Bob the Builder.

Tonight, I actually got Miss Emily to sleep without having to bribe her. She sat on my lap, happily playing with whatever she could reach (it was dark, there's no telling what it was) when suddenly, said object clunked to the floor and she slumped back into the crook of my arm. *awkward pause ensued* I peered cautiously down at her, not wanting to make actual eye contact, but wondering if she might need medical attention or resuscitation, and there she was, doing the best John Belushi impression I've seen in ages. Eyes half-open, goofy grin on her face, both chins showing, arms sort of floating to her sides. She looked very intoxicated. After I checked to make sure it was just sleepiness and not whatever she'd been chewing on, I stroked her nose a couple of times and *donk*, there she went! Out!

This is the first time, in four children, that I have been able to do that! I haven't been able to put a nursling to bed -without nursing - E-V-E-R! It was beautiful. I feel so... competent.

So yeah, today was good.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, August 14

The Homeschooling Wierdos

I'm pretty sure Ward is starting to think we don't actually homeschool. Since he works the same schedule as Zorak, he's gone when Zorak is gone and, well, that's when we do our lessons. Most moms know that if Dad's home, ain't no schoolin' gettin' done. The wise ones are okay with that and just kind of work with it, doing lessons at, oh, midnight, or migrating to the library for studies. Whatever it takes. But it sure does look strange to an outsider. Thankfully, he's not a nasty-Nellie when it comes to things like this. I think the way we treat our dog probably irks him more than whatever we could do with the children. *grin* (He's been hinting not-so-subtly for over a week that the dog needs a bath. Yes, the dog needs a bath. But it's 100' out, with a ton of humidity, and the dog weighs 60 pounds. Somehow, that bath just isn't falling high on my priority list. He's healthy and fine, just a bit dirty, but it's not like he needs to be pretty for the neighbor dog, or smell good enough for hunting the opossum, okay? Okay.)

However, we are schooling regularly and it's going well. Right now, it's a little too hot 'n sticky to do any exploration. That's killing me, as the Wildlife Refuge is right there, and it looks so inviting! The large lily pads and little inlets are teeming with life. The water is high and the foliage is thick. It beckons to us, calling, "Come! Bring your magnifying glasses and notebooks! Wallow in me!" Then I open the car door and *whump* the heavy, stagnant air punches me in the chest. I cannot breathe. I cannot move. Bits stick together instantly. I yank the car door shut and turn to the boys, "Who wants a cream slush from Sonic?" Thank heaven for the bookish side of academia! There will be time for exploring come fall, glorious fall...

I've been dying to get out and explore our turf, though. Not necessarily the out-of-doors exploration, but the area in general. It's gorgeous down here, and there is SO much to do that we, well, haven't done. Been too busy. And I'll be darned if that's going to be my mantra while the children are growing up. I don't want them to look back and feel like we were always "too busy" to do the things we would have liked to do. My mom's mantra was, "circumstances prevail", and I can understand that. She had to be the bread winner, drill instructor, chief cook and bottle washer, head nurse, disciplinarian, chauffeur. There was no tag team for her - she was "It". But I don't have to do double duty, and that's much appreciated. So, in honor of how very fortunate we are, we're going to get out and enjoy it a bit more. We're planning to make a couple of road trips while Zorak's gone. He's not a big fan of the family excursion day trip, so this is a perfect time to do these things. Ward's here, so the house will be fine (and we don't have to take the dog!) The adventure will alleviate some of the we-miss-dad that the boys experience, too. I don't have a laptop, so I'm not sure what the blogging situation will look like while we're on the road, but I'll try to keep ya posted.

OK, time to go look productive!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, August 13

Preparations & Games

Two small boys stood in the dining room this morning, waving out the window. One small Smidge stood in his mud pit in the front yard, waving. Ward's Jeep pulled away, taking Daddy to the airport.

And now it is quiet.

We wanted to take him ourselves, but Miss Emily's nostrils have her on a sinus-driven nursing strike. She can eat, or breathe, not both. Smidge's lower face is somewhat crusted over in a time-lapsed photography model showing the formation of stalactites. Rather fascinating, really. The older two haven't fallen prey just yet, but it's not for lack of effort on part of whatever viral ick is doing the dirty work.

The past few days have been days of preparation. Cleaning, packing, itemizing. We soaked up as much of Daddy as we could, and tried to cover him in love and assurrances that he will be missed.

It sounds so idyllic, doesn't it? But you know it's not all picture-perfect. There's the stress of being on the road, which translates to some pretty weird behavior on his part. There's the stress of knowing we will be without him for a while, which also translates to some pretty weird behavior on my part. You can't have that many translation problems without creating some rather awkward moments. That's the way of things, I suppose. It doesn't change the fact that we'll miss him, or that he'd much rather be planning an excursion with everyone traveling together. In some ways, it highlights just how deeply we are a part of one another's lives. It's good.

And then, as if we just didn't have enough random noise and chaos in our lives, I picked up the ultimate home accessory for a house full of boys: a foosball table. Oh, for the love of cabbage, what is the attraction? I don't know, but for $12.99 at the thrift store, I couldn't pass it up. The table also includes a small pool table, a ping pong table, a hockey table, and - BONUS - most of the dodads necessary to play each game are actually there! If the kids continue to play for at least one week at their current rate of play, this thing will have more than paid for itself. If they're still at it by Christmas, I'm going to consider it The Buy of the Year! (And perhaps Zorak will have forgiven me for lugging it into the house.)

Granted, I didn't give any real thought to where, exactly, a foosball table would reside in our home. File that one under "pretty weird behavior", shall we? Zorak handled it well, and for now it lives between the living and dining rooms. Literally, right in the middle of the walking path. Oh, but you should see the fun the boys are having - it's totally worth it.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, August 10

I'm Not Brave

I was going to hang out with my coffee, visit and play online for a while, maybe make some cookies and enjoy the peaceful rain and the quiet of the house.

But it's not quiet. It's thundering right. over. my. head.

And this rain has a mind of its own. Right now, it wants IN.

And this computer? Mmm, I'm thinking "high point", and perhaps I ought to go work in the basement...

The cookies can wait.

I'll talk to ya'll in the morning.

Kiss those babies!

Please Make Time

There's talk here, there, and everywhere about "the pace of life", for lack of a better term. Generally, I don't join in the "how do you get it all done" discussions. I don't get it all done, so I assume nobody is asking me. *grin* This week, however, a few points have caught my attention, and I've been mulling. Lucky you.

The Europhiles, it seems, love to extol all the virtues of the pace of life in Europe, as opposed to the gawdawful speed with which we Americans devour our way through every. single. thing.

I've got to say, I don't get it.

Pace is, among other things, "The rate of speed at which a person, animal, or group walks or runs. The rate of speed at which an activity or movement proceeds."

Assuming we move on our own power, wouldn't this definition indicate that we, being the supposed "person, animal, or group", control our pace? We aren't pre-programmed automatons. We are beings capable of thinking, determining, and choosing. I've always thought so, at least to a large extent. Perhaps I'm off a bit. But perhaps it's a matter of priorities and goals. Where are you going? Why are you taking the path you're taking? What will you do when you get there? Who is going with you? Certainly, things such as food and shelter must be tended to, but beyond the basic necessities, it's all elective.

We once spent a wonderful weekend in Philadelphia with friends. We had a lovely time together, although none of us moved at the same pace. Some of them had flown in from out of state for a mom's weekend getaway, and so each moved at her own long-legged pace. (It probably felt good for them to stretch their legs and move faster than a speeding snail.) We drove up and, naturally, had all the children with us. We didn't have trouble keeping up with our friends, per se. We simply kept in our heads a general idea which direction they were heading and chose not to worry about keeping up. Our poor friends kept looking back to see what in the world was keeping us.

Sometimes it was a sewer grate, or leaves on the sidewalk. Occasionally, it was an inscription on a wall, a carving in a pillar, or the extra time it takes to walk single file along the planter curb. Nothing particularly spectacular, just a different pace.

It's okay. We'll meet up at the fire station. Or the restaurant. If we get too far off, we've got our cell phones to touch base. Pace is something you control. Or not.

If it's a group or activity that is proceeding too quickly, and causing us to feel harried and cranky with our fellow travelers, why not take a look at whether that particular group or activity is paced appropriately for us? I hate to sound trite (and yet, I'm going to do it, anyway), but we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day with which to accomplish the things we'd like to do, and the things which need to be done. Occasionally, the two intertwine beautifully and there is less need for intentional living. That is not always the case, however, and so we must take stock, pack (or re-pack) our bags, and set the pace.

Zorak, for example, would much rather work six months out of the year and spend the rest of the year exploring with the children and I. Since he has yet to convince his employer of the benefits of this plan, obvious as they may be to us, nor has he found another way to provide for his home and family as well as he can now, he has to determine the pace at which he'll live this life, and go from there. We aren't looking at a uniquely American dilemma. He'd have to make the same decision in Europe, Asia, or even Australia.

If we want more time to do things, or not do things, to savor things, or to inhale more-more-more, well, we must make time and do it. We must weigh the opportunity cost for our decisions. How will we spend our time, and what will we have to show for it? Chatchke and appointments and hissed cursewords as we punt everyone out the door twenty minutes late for everything? Memories, friendships, stories, thoughts? Creature comforts, soul comforts, dreamy smiles, from-the-gut laughter? Not everything is an either-or situation, but when it comes the pace we set, it is. Either we will go quickly or we will not. Encouragingly, we aren't locked into a set pace. We've been known to slow way down to prolong our enjoyment of the sunset on the riverbank, to stave off the bittersweet ending of a favorite book, to giggle like kids at the wonder of sunrise through freshly painted windows.

No, I haven't got all the answers. I've nowhere to keep them, even if I did. I understand that it's more common to bemoan something that's self-inflicted than to hike up the britches, tip the cap foreward, and do something wonderful about it. It's easier. The payoff, however, is exponentially larger for the added effort of setting our own paces.

In a delightfully-timed entry, MFS recently revisited her thoughts on making time. I particularly enjoy re-reading her no-nonsense list of ways to make it easier. They're all common sense suggestions, which makes them easy to forget, and worth remembering. Check it out if you're feeling overwhelmed, or perhaps would simply like to make time to get back to the good stuff. You know, at your own pace.

And always kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 9

Hey now, not so fast, folks!

Can you believe there are people who think it doesn't matter whether we articulate our thoughts clearly? Look at all the excitement I caused with just a couple of poorly-picked phrases. *grin* So, to answer the comments and emails, no.

What I meant (and evidently said very ambiguously), is that if someone(else) has a baby at some point that isn't during a traditional school break, and needs to know how to get back in the swing of things in, say, February, I can help with that one. And if some imaginary family, who-is-not-us, is moving, I'd be happy to share my mid-move sanity savers. But moving again? No. In the eight years since James was born, we have moved ten times. Statistically speaking, there's a good chance we've moved in any given month. I just pulled November out of my hat. It was something like one in the morning. So, for clarity's sake, here's a quick run-down:
A) Not pregnant again. Still not out of the cards, but I'm not the one shuffling the deck, if ya know what I mean, so we'll see what happens.

B) Not moving again. At least not any time soon. We might like to retire to Tennessee. Or Wyoming. But for the forseeable future, we are putting down some deep, thick roots right here.

Today was, I believe, the last of the Whatever Wednesdays at church. Pioneer Club begins again in September, and I'm... really not looking forward to it. I liked having our Wednesday activity in the middle of the afternoon. We enjoyed being home for supper, even moreso just being home before nine or ten o'clock on Wednesday evenings. It's been delightful to get to the library (although Grandma Joy did let me know that August and September are amnesty months for our little library, so enjoy!) and then toodle into town shortly after lunch. It was a good pace. But now we'll be going back to the six-thirty meeting time. After supper. After being away from Zorak all day. More time away. Supper apart as a family. Supper in the car. Ick. It's one thing if we're apart because his work calls him away, or because one of us is out saving the world. But this... this doesn't count.

That I should write this at all is somewhat ironic. You know, the "I just ate what" kind of painful irony that those who know and love you find hilarious. I had just drafted a bit last night in reply to the "pace of life" angst that seems to be spreading like a psychological virus this month. My basic point: we set the pace. Why set it, then bemoan it? Doesn't make sense. *ahem* Yes. Well, then. It's almost as if someone chooses to drive an hour each way, at the end of the day, in the middle of the week, to drag her children to a one-hour function. Shyah. What a maroon.

*sigh* Well, I still stand by what I never got around to posting in the first place. I'll see if I can run a quick spell-check on it in the morning, okay? Don't want to move too quickly and burn myself out tonight. *if only you could hear my eyes rolling all over the place...*

Thankfully, no matter how dumb we behave sometimes, our children love us. Our spouses love us. Our friends with the blackmail photo editing capabilities love us. We are fortunate, whether we're harried or peaceful.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 8


Getting caught up over at Donna's last night, the older contingent of the house spent almost an hour trying to figure out if this guy influenced this guy, or vice versa, or if they were peers, or, or, or what... We were like kids on the debate team, preparing for an extemporaneous speech. (Which, yes, completely pegs me as a total geek, I know.) It took some doing to convince Ward that Donna's photo wasn't a Rockwell. They're that close.

The pupils aren't feeling well this morning. They weren't feeling well last night, as evidenced by the sniffly, snarfy, snuffling noises during reading time. The sad part is, these kids blow their noses like bulls crash through china shops, so I didn't recommend they go get the tissue box until I'd finished reading a chapter to them. The boogers will still be there when I'm done, but I can't hang in there long enough to read an entire chapter of anything, pausing for the blowing-of-the-noses. James has a dentist appointment at 2 something (might want to narrow that down a bit, yes?) and the smallish one is still sleeping, so I decided to treat the older boys to a morning movie. They're watching "Hoodwinked", and the laughter pealing from the living room is more fun than the movie itself. (I previewed it last night and giggled a lot - a good movie for the six and up crowd.)

I've been trying to read 1919 by John Dos Pasos. It gets weird and choppy and very difficult to care much about, then it gets mildly interesting for a few pages and drops back into lithium-induced choppiness. I think this will be one of those train wreck books that I finish simply because I have a slightly morbid sense of curiosity. Not one I'd recommend so far, in spite of the reviewers promises that I will "never look at The War the same again"... I'm thinkin' I'll never look at sailors the same again. And it's probably a good thing I'm already married to Zorak, or I might not look at him the same again. But so far, the "biting commentary" seems to be more focused on just how miserable one can make oneself by making bad choice after bad choice. We'll see how it goes.

So far, our curriculum choices have been winners. We've begun Apologia's "Exploring Creation through Astronomy", which is the only new program I've added. It's a bit pedantic in some areas, but that's where the beauty of having children who share my sense of humor comes in. In all, though, a well-done book, and I think we'll enjoy our year of exploring the skies.

Anybody else going to trade in their old copy of Famous Men of Rome for the new color version? I saw that offer and just about flipped. I'm not sure what to liken my excitement to, as I hate it when black and white movies get colorized, but this is different. I think. At least, it was to me. Now perhaps the boys won't spend so much time debating what color this or that would have been? I'm soooo trading mine in!

Ah, well, the movie is just about over. Time to enjoy the rest of the morning with the Littles.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, August 7

Earth is too small! Back to school.

We are fairly out of synch with the traditional "school year". A school calendar, for us, would be mostly a log of what the year looked like, rather than what it might/may/ought to/hopefully will look like. We go year-round, taking breaks when needed, but never really stopping or starting a year. The back-to-school sales always catch me off guard. When people begin posting questions here and there about the best way to start the school year, I'm usually stumped.

This isn't to say (in an exaggeratedly snooty accent), "OHHHHhhhhh, WE go year round so we NEVER have to deal with that." Oh, no. No, no. Ask me again in February, after yet another birth, or mid-November, after we've moved *again*, or sometime in the middle of April, between visits from family, and I've got ya covered. We can kick start like pros. It's just the "this is the start of the school year" tag line that causes me to trip over one of my left feet and look around to see if anybody actually saw that.

However, among the starts and stops, I've figured out a couple of things. During those late night gab sessions with good friends over curricula and reading lists, I've been given some real gems. Occasionally, as I talk to Zorak while he sleeps, we experience a stunning epiphany and make all manner of life-style-altering-really-big-adjustments. (Yes, "we". I poke him in the head when I need feedback. Whatever works, in a pinch.) Today, you get absolutely nothing deep, but hopefully something useful.

When I see questions that begin with, "I have everything planned for the first day of school..." I smile. I'm not mocking them. I'm mocking myself of four years ago. She was a funny, compulsive woman.

What I've learned since then: if you must plan it all out, write it in pencil. Lightly. Trust me.

When I read, "What can I do to make the first day of school special?" all I can think is, "Do you have a timer on your coffee pot? And a cattle prod? Perhaps a backup plan? And tell me you wrote your plan in pencil." Each day is going to be as special as we choose to make it, but there are definite phases to "special". It's easier when the children are younger and stickers make everything special. It's harder when they're old enough to know that you're not actually allowing them to "help" make cookies when you give them a bowl, a whisk and a tablespoon of flour to play with while you bake. Then it gets easier again when they can bake cookies on their own, and better yet when they surprise you with a clean kitchen. See, "special" is such a subjective term. Don't set yourself on fire in an attempt to make something spectacular. Not only will you set the bar way too high, but your insurance company is going to stop paying the burn center after three or four incidents.

What I've learned: concentrate on making bonds and memories; traditions will bloom from those roots.

"What am I missing?" Oh, my, you're missing a ton. We all are. Homeschool, public school, private school, highly paid live-in tutor - nobody can cover it all. There's simply no way to learn it all, not even if you give the little darlings a caffeine drip and run them like dogs 24/7.

What I've learned: It's better to ask yourself "what do I want them to take from this year", and then ask others how to flesh it out. There's just too much. But if you can get them moving, intertia kicks in and it gets easier.

And you know, out of three dozen balloons, we haven't any small enough to make Mercury, Earth, or Pluto. Our solar system is now flying around the living room and the rest of science will have to wait for smaller balloons. But that's okay - there's still plenty to learn, plenty to do. Thankfully, we have cookies to bake and I wrote the week's plan in pencil!

Kiss those babies!

*gurgle* Going under for the third time

We've been without a computer since the last time I blogged. I hit "publish", and that was the last task I was able to accomplish. I would love to harp on the planned obsolescence of technology, but really, how much dust can you cram into a fan before it stops working altogether? *sheepish grin* It's up and limping along right now, but I'm going to have to go cannibalize a power supply from one of the old computers in the basement. Probably need yet another hard drive, too - it seems those things can only get so hot before bad things happen.

This past week has had me wandering about, absolutely awed that two fully functional adults can manage to drop the ball so incredibly often. It's just... well, stunning, really. I guess I should be glad Zorak and I are well-matched, but then I look at the children and feel I ought to just apologize now for the trouble they're going to have in the future. Pesky things like deadlines, appointments, renewing things on time... it's gonna be rough, because they didn't have even one parent from whom they might inherit some kind of propensity for juggling these tasks. There is no genetic foundation upon which to improve, folks. Our best hope is that they will find (and somehow attract) OCD-driven first child spouses who can help make up for this.

So, tags renewed, premiums paid up, checkbook balanced, groceries purchased, appts. made, yeah, yeah. Dull, dull stuff. But it's done. And I still get a thrill out of doing the laundry in a rain storm or late at night. Small bodies tucked under soft blankets let out contented sighs when we kiss their little brows. They'll bicker again tomorrow. We'll probably forget another deadline. But it's okay. We're together. Life is good.

Tons to blog, but it's late. It just felt good to get back online tonight. But the sun will be up soon, and with it, the small ones. So I'd best get going.

Kiss those babies

Friday, August 4

What A Weird Day

It began with a phone call from the sporting goods store and ended with a new bookkeeper. And not once did it slow down!

I'm not sure if I'm heebed over this or not, but I got a call from the lady at the sporting goods store, letting me know I'd left my keys there yesterday. OK, the call I appreciated... but how did she get my name and number? Books-A-Million! I have the little dodad card on my key ring. She called them, and they gave her my name AND phone number. Eeeesh. That's not sitting horribly well with me. My house key is on that ring. I don't know.


We veered precariously close to a unit study today. After we read a chapter from Little House, we made "lantern covers" like the ones Laura described. We don't have any tin, and I'm not up for open flames without another adult to call 911 if things get out of hand, but construction paper and flashlights work quite well when you are seven, six, and two-half.

Mr. Ward gave the boys a telescope this evening, as a kind of a combination birthday gift for them. It's pretty neat, and they are thrilled. They (ok, "we" - like I was going to miss out on playing with it!) got to view the moon tonight before bed. I don't think it really clicked with the boys as much as it will later, though, as all three of them were literally vibrating with energy most of the day. It was too hot to go out and dispel some of it, though, and so they vibrated their way through supper, showers, jammies, and the telescope action. I'm pretty sure if you listen closely, you can hear their little beds humming with the vibrations. (And Smidge is laying here, talking in his sleep, as I type.)

Tonight I fired our bookkeeper. Her method of filing left a lot to be desired, and although she works cheap, she was costing us a fortune in late fees and added stress. Fortunately (?), I am not only the personnel manager, but the personnel, as well. So at least I was able to get someone on the job immediately. ;-) I spent the last four hours sorting through the two milk crates, three cardboard boxes, and five grocery bags that have been our filing cabinet since, oh, well, from the looks of things, since we got to Alabama. *cringe* The current status isn't permanent, but at least everything's labled and in something mildly resembling order.

Ward also hooked up a wireless router to our computer. Nifty! Now, if I'm really, really good, maybe I could get a laptop to go with it? Nah, only five months 'til Christmas. Not gonna happen this year. BUT, we can now get the computer out of the nursery without having to futz with more wiring right-at-this-moment. Yay.

And, it seems my computer just did something very strange. I cannot get to the bubbles in the task bar at the bottom. Okay... probably a sign that it's time to go to bed and ignore the problem until it rectifies itself or completely knocks out the system, right? (And Zorak says I couldn't be an IT guy. Pffft. No sense of adventure in that one, I'll tell ya!)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 2

Doctors and Tallies, and Clay, Oh my!

Well, first things first, we managed to get to the ENT's office on time, which is, in and of itself, a miracle. The nice lady at the pediatrician's office either doesn't know us very well, or doesn't like us much, because she scheduled our appointment for 8:15 this morning! Ay, carumba, mijos! I can't get to the car by 8:15... let alone into town, with everyone in tow. But we did it.

The ENT's office was, as usual, superb. Their audiologist, Miss Tammy, is a dream to work with. She's just fantastic with children, and thorough. As a matter of fact, she's so thorough that I started to panic a bit. When I was doing hearing tests, we didn't do a bone conduction test or masking unless there was severe loss and/or tinnitus. She did one on James, and my heart sank into my toes, passing my stomach on its way to my throat. I got everything crammed into my tonsils long enough to ask if she normally does that, and she said she does, unless a patient has absolutely perfect hearing, in which case, there's no point.

And with both boys, it seems, their hearing issues are purely selective. Yes, we have two fully functional little space cadets. They can hear us, they just don't care. Um, yeah, we're good with that.

The boys were so good for all the testing and beeping and waiting, the staff decided to shove all six of us in a 7'x8' room with only two chairs (one on wheels) for forty minutes, with no outside contact, just to see which of us would lose his or her mind first. Smidge went, and he went with flair - shirt pulled up over his head, finger up his nose, ricocheting off hard surfaces, giggling maniacally. It was fascinating, really. Our suspicions about the experiment were confirmed when the doctor suddenly appeared just as Zorak attempted to sneak out of the cubicle with two of the little ones. *poof* And, it's time to begin! Evil researchers.

The boys did their lessons this afternoon, since they were lucky to get their vitamins on the way out the door this morning. John's learning tally marks, and loving it. He'd do all the pages in a lesson in one sitting, if I'd let him. (But really, he does require prolonged practice to help lodge a little something here and there in his long-term memory.) James is ready to move on, and has clicked that as soon as he has mastered his facts (he's got the skills and formulas down pat, and is quick w/ the facts, but if you watch his eyes, you can see he doesn't own them yet), the math world is his to explore. So he's working hard to finish those. It didn't help (me) any that he looked at my math work this afternoon and said, "Oh! I know these. You'll love them. They're easy." *groan* He meant to be encouraging, and although it's just. not. I will take it that way.

We've got a boiled cabbage simmering on the stove. Forgot to buy rubber bands, so we'll have to do that tomorrow. Then we will have some great "school shirts" - Story Of The World-inspired tie-dyed t-shirts, made with the Phoenicians in mind! (And only a month after we'd covered the Phoenicians - not bad!)

I broke down and bought modeling clay the other day. No clue what I was thinking, as I hate that stuff more than play-doh and waterpaints. Possibly even more than I hate unit studies, really. They're the work of the devil, and they bring out the lowest form of communication in children: screeching. Followed closely by wailing, gnashing of teeth, and general whining. And that's from both me and the kids! But I've got it, now! Next year, I will purchase thirty tons of natural brown clay. There will be no colors, there will be no options. There will be no cute individual boxes. It will live in a vat in the basement, and there will be a place for each child to keep his unspoiled creations covered in dust for untold centuries, or until his brothers forget about it. Ta-da! Why didn't I think of that earlier?

Busy day tomorrow. It's hard to look productive on a regular basis, but we're almost good at it. There are times I feel like the boys look at each other and smile, not because of all we're accomplishing, but because they seem to know I don't know what I'm doing, and they're okay with that. They love me, anyway. And I love them - for that, and for many, many other reasons - their goofy grins, their deeply felt senses of justice and reason, their delightful math-is-done-yay drawings, their hugs, their ambushes from beneath the laundry pile. I love them, screeching clay blobs and all.

Kiss those babies!