Saturday, March 31


Man, this whole having-to-be-places-regularly thing is a challenge!

John's team had two practice games back-to-back last night. Seemed a bit on the trial by fire side to me, to have the little guys out there so long, so late. But they're not... you know... babies... *sniff**sniff*

His team got wallopped pretty thoroughly the first game. The other team knew what the ball was for, and how to stop it, and all those pesky details of the game. *grin* Fortunately, we've got a great bunch of kids, a great team of coaches, and parents who can keep it positive. The overall enthusiasm stayed high for the second game, and they all did better. Still got trounced, but definitely better.

I'm still the only one who laughs herself into total debilitation, though, and am pretty certain there will be an intervention for my drinking problem before the season ends. HOW they can not laugh is beyond me. One boy hunkered down in the dirt and built dust castles. (It was windy; he had to keep starting over.) One boy spun around in circles until he tipped over. Another boy (*ahem*, mine) spent a good portion of the game doing some sort of leaping, kicking, toe fluttering ballet maneuver. One little sweetheart of a guy hit the ball, scrambled to first and kept on running - straight. We have no clue where he was going. This is funny stuff, folks. You just can't get this kind of entertainment from Hollywood. And someday all these children will be proficient, aware, and together enough that they won't have the adorable "puppies tumbling pell-mell" thing going, anymore. I have no desire to wish that away. It'll go quickly enough.

You'd think with all that activity, we wouldn't have been up until eleven with the boys (and until two with Baby Girl - what is UP with that level of stamina?) but we were. They were tired, but way too wired to stop vibrating and chattering.

And this morning? Up 'n at 'em with one more game. Not bad. None of us expected to see an improvement this morning from yesterday's games, but the kids did a great job. They can hustle. They can hit. They can mostly run. (John, not so much on the running. He's more of an ambler. Would've made a great cowboy.) They shouted and encouraged each other. There were high-fives and thumbs-up gestures all over the field. They lost by only one point. It was a sweet, sweet morning.

Now we're home, but only for a little bit. We've worked the compost, cleaned the kitchen, and now Zorak's fixing lunch. Easter Egg hunt is at two o'clock, so we've got to eat and get going. (I'm having a cup of coffee. This crazy schedule has my caffeine maintenance schedule all out of whack.) J and I were talking about scheduling multiple children for activities, and I kinda like her game plan. She laughed and said, "One child per year. Not one activity per child per year, but one kid gets to do one thing this year. Next year, the next child gets to do something, and so on." Doesn't sound like much fun for the kids, but I'll bet I go grey before she does! Smart lady. *whew*

OK, off to be helpful.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, March 29

ACK - it's dead!

Our memory card for the camera is dead. Well, not quite dead, but needs to be shot. Of all the photos I took today, only three uploaded. And of the three that uploaded, only one is even visible. And of that one that's visible, well...

...that's just not good.

Believe it or not, there's a funny story that goes with that photo. But it doesn't make much sense now.

Life is like that sometimes.

Kiss those babies!

Not At Bad As It Sounded

No, none of it is as bad as it sounded. I was tired, and rather than going to bed like a normal person might, I stayed up blogging and chatting wtih J and Dee. Actually, that was cathartic. I wish J and I still lived in the same town - she's a wonderful friend, and I miss her. I miss her wonderful children, her funny husband (Ok, he's Zorak-funny, so it's probably not always funny to *her*, but he makes me laugh), and I miss her sweet, gentle nature. And her snarky side. But mostly just - all of them.

We'll head in to town today to make a Costco run. Payday is the day *after* Pioneer Club, so once a month I have to make two runs into town, and that's... well, *whine*whine*whine*. (ahem) Not bad. Really. The boys are dying to take flowers to Me-Tae, and if I can get moving quickly enough, perhaps we can stop by the art museum or at least Big Spring park and enjoy a nice day out.

John has practice today (that's somewhat like saying, "we're going to be breathing today", or "we thought we'd eat today" - I'm really thankful the ball field is just a few miles down the road!) and it's *team pictures* day. He gets to wear his full uniform. Oh. My. Word. The ANTICIPATION! I just hope we can find the socks. Smidge had them on as gloves the other day, and we had a heck of a time trying to convince him they're off limits.

Need to come up with some crockpot recipes this week. Want to share your favorites?

Aunt B's friends' son and his family are moving to the area, and we hope to be able to feed them this weekend sometime. (That has nothing to do with crockpot recipes. We have our "feed company" menus ,and they're all about the process and the fun of preparing food for enjoyment. If you leave our house hungry, it's not our doing, know what I mean? The crockpot thing is for our practice nights that happen to fall on errand days.) Anyway, they're doing the whole hectic "find a house and move" process. We'd like to help make the transition more enjoyable if we can. And we look forward to meeting them. Good people.

OK, I've got some fun things to post, but the Small Ones seem to need a little direction, and they've come running to the tapping of the keyboard like cats to a can opener. So, I'm going to go enjoy my little kitten-y Small Ones and have a productive, wonderful day. Y'all do the same!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 28


(You know, I have to work very hard not to abuse that category!) It's been one heckuva week around here, folks. Not all bad, but please allow me to whine a bit, first.

All that dental work we've had done over the last year? Not a bit of it has worked. Not. One. Bit. I've got an appointment Monday with a new Dentist For Big People. I'm in so much pain right now from bad work the first dentist did. Gah. I hate this. I hate going in blind. Of course they're going to say they can help you. They want your business. But can they help? I've asked around, stalking people who have lovely teeth, but they either don't have a dentist locally, or they don't have anything yay-or-nay to say about their dentist. "Eh, he's okay. He's on my insurance." *sigh*

Well, being the eternal optimist *snort* (Yeah, I know, but it sounded good, didn't it?) I'd think some dentist, somewhere, is capable of filling a cavity and not leaving the edges sharp enough to break those teflon flossers. (Had those "fixed" by him, twice. And three of 'em are still breakin' floss.) Or perhaps of putting on a temporary crown that doesn't protrude so far out of whack that it forces the patient's jaw out of line. (My favorite memory of this guy will always be when I mentioned that particular one, and was told, "Oh, well, that's only for six months." Wha--? And it hurts now. Well, it hurt then. NOW, it's more than mere inconvenience.)

I had a delightful dentist once. He did an amazing job. He got it right the first time, every time. He was gentle, thorough, honest. Well, mostly honest. Turned out he had a pretty rabid cocaine addiction. But even with that little glitch, I find myself wishing I could make a quick run up to PA to get the rest of my work done. Yes, I know that's wrong on so many levels. But it just serves to illustrate how desperate I am.

Then, this morning Balto had a Grand mal seizure. Whooo boy. Of course, I didn't look at him vibrating on the porch, and think, "Oh, looks like a seizure episode." I looked at him and thought, "Holy cow, can fresh rabbit do that to you?" Actually, my first concern was that he'd been poisoned. The boys helped me get everybody shod and loaded in less than ten minutes (WOOHOO) and off we went to the Wonderful Vet, who did a thorough check and said he's in perfect health and shows no signs of toxicity. He said it looks like epilepsy. Huh. So, I looked into whether we need to worry about Baltoid's mental stability (such as it is) and general personality changes (could he, by chance, be a little more calm after a couple of these things?) From there, it's just a matter of learning to live with epilepsy.

Wonderful Vet did touch base about letting him go down to the creek, but when we described it - nothing like Melissa's creek, which is a real creek - we just call ours a creek, but the other creeks would shun it and deny it membership in the AW-CRAP (Associated Waterways - Creeks, Rivers, Aquaducts, Ponds), he gave the a-ok. Poor BaltoDog. He's been a big clingy since then, and I don't blame him. Seizures are freaky enough for a fully functioning human who can listen to an explanation and process the whole thing. What's that like for a dog? Ugh. I can only imagine, "Oh, man. It was awful. One minute I'm chasing robins off the porch and chewing on my feet, and the next minute, I'm belching foam and peeing all over myself. Then they made me get in the CAR! What's that all about? I don't know what happened, but... I don't ever want to be alone again, man." Plenty of gentle lovin's and snuggles seemed to make him feel better. If he plans to stay inside more often, though, he is SO getting a bath tomorrow. He's such a good dog, and I feel bad for him. We'll see if we can identify any triggers he may have, and help him develop a safe spot for when he's feeling punky. He's our Balto-Dog, and we love him.

Oh, the finger? Almost healed! I still can't put any real stress on it, or it makes a wretched tearing sound - similar to velcro being pulled apart - and somehow, that doesn't seem like it should be happening. But it's significantly better. I thought it was lookin' pretty good, until I showed it to Zorak and he said, "Aww, a FrankenFinger!" Um... yeah, thanks, Love.

AND, we made it to Pioneer Club. We made it home. We got everybody snuggled and loved on. And in the end, I'm sitting here typing with my FrankenFingers (it's okay, I never planned to be a hand model, really), with my goofy dog draped across my foot. My wonderful husband is passed out cold with Smidge, and there's probably no way I will be able to wiggle in there with them, but it's such a snuggly, inviting scene, I may try anyway. The big boys are big. They did well this week. They've really learned how to work together (when they must) and how to be caring for those who need it. Really, it has been quite a week. But not as bad as it sounds. I'm thankful.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, March 27

Is it really only 9:30?

I lured Zorak into proof-reading for me last night. It was painful, for both of us. But he's such a trooper, and I really appreciate him for going that extra ten thousand miles for me. Anyway, by the time all was said and done, we were too tired to gather the trash before bed. But our trash men are shockingly punctual, and when they recommend you have your trash out by six o'clock Tuesday morning, they mean it.

Of course, we live amongst the raccoons and stray dogs and other country varmints, so you can't just haul it to the road before bed. Well, you could... but, ew. (We know about the boxes. We'll make one. Eventually. The work on the property just hasn't radiated all the way out to the road yet.) So, we usually just gather it Monday night before bed and then Zorak trails it to the road as he leaves for work in the morning.

This morning, I got up and stumbled around gathering trash while he asked me questions, as if I were awake. "Have you seen my belt?" Honey, I love you, but I haven't seen anything other than the lower half of my right eyelid since I rolled out of bed. I'm gathering the trash on pure radar. Let's just pretend I'm not actually up, and go from there, shall we? (We did find another belt, though I have no clue, even now, with three cups of coffee under me, where his usual one went. I probably did it, but I don't know what I did. Or where.)

I stumbled back toward the hallway, bounced off the arm of the couch (that's my radar at work), and heard a giggle. Huh? James was up already. Smidge was up already. Look at them, there, all curled up and chipper.

Do y'all know it's still dark out?

...You do?

...And that doesn't mean anything to you?

Oh... I'm not going back to bed, am I?

And so, we've gone non-stop since whenever that was. I thought for sure it was time for lunch and a nap, only to check the time and see that it's only 9:30. Theoretically, we should be quite productive today. ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 26

A tulip?

You tell me. I have no clue.

Other than that, school, composting, books (oh, I've GOT to blog about the books!), ball practice. Pictures Thursday. John gets to wear his whole uniform. He thinks it's almost as good as Christmas.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 25


You get no title, but I'll post pictures. :-) I got up at some unholy hour the other day and figured I'd just run with it, so when the sun began to rise, I grabbed my coffee and camera and went out to take pictures. By the time I stopped wandering about like a lost child in Wonderland, the sun was pretty well up. Oh, well, it was still nice to just be there, in the quiet, the beautiful, sparkling, dewy quiet of it all.

Zorak wasn't feeling well when he went to bed last night, but I figured it was just allergies. (OK, posting flower pictures alongside an illness post, when the flowers aren't in a bedside vase, seems a little wrong. Poor post planning. Sorry 'bout that.) Anyway, he figured it was too much sun. Either way, no biggie. Then he slept pretty late this morning, and when Me-Wa called to see about going fishing, he wasn't up for it. I started to ask why, but then I looked up to see him sitting on a barstool, phone dangling from his hand, just sort of staring at the counter speckles and weaving back and forth. hooboy. That's one sick Daddy.

He went back to bed and hasn't moved all day, save for two brief attempts to eat. Oh, and I'd slip in every few hours to rotate his pillows and get him to sip some water, but he didn't ever really wake up for that. He is SO sick, and so out of it. No fever, just chills, sweating, and total lethargy. I'm terrified to google those specific symptoms, but if he's still like this tomorrow, I plan to drag him to the doctor. At least on the upside, he'll be too weak and exhausted to kick and scream. 8^O

In other news, we are inundated with blooms and buds! The dogwoods and redbuds are all in full bloom, and it's BEAUTIFUL here! We have a lone flower in bloom, down among the bulbs, too. I thought it was a tulip, but the boys checked it out and said they don't think it's a tulip. It does look a little more starry-shaped than tulip-shaped. We'll have to post a photo, though. Whatever it is, it's the kind of flower that makes people say and do silly things in response to it.

Speaking of silly things, I've turned into "that woman". You know, the neophyte gardener, who is just beginning to get a feel for it. Or, as Zorak put it the other day on the drive into town, "Plants have become your Gamecube, you know." (I believe this was after the ninth or tenth time since leaving the property that I pointed and exclaimed, "OH, would you LOOK at THAT tree!" Um, yeah, we live in the south. There's more foliage here than probably anywhere else this side of Cambodia. Pleasant drive for him, I'm sure.) But it's fun, and it's wonderful, and I am *finally* beginning to understand how people can tell the difference between things like bulbs and ivies! It's much, much easier when you live among them, and can get to know them. Delightful!


Our digital camera doesn't take very good video, and I think our memory card is about to go t-u on us because the audio/video is out of synch. But we just couldn't resist trying to capture EmBaby's singing on video. She stopped singing the second the camera came out, and this is what we got, instead: her surprised look.

Oh, and that's Smidge in the background, singing "Mango", which you can find and then embed in your head, too, simply by clicking, here. That's also what EmBaby was singing, until it was time for her close-up.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 23

What are you bad at?

That's what the boys asked me today. The actual question was, "What do you enjoy doing that you're *really* bad at? And I don't mean, just *not good*, but truly awful."


Well, there's a lot I'm just not good at. Some of it I do enjoy, anyway. Some of it, not so much.

But something I'm really bad at and still enjoy?

That would have to be singing. I've been asked not to participate in church choirs, recommended for transfer from school choir to another elective, and all four of my children have screamed like they're being eaten alive when I've tried to sing them to sleep. I think that probably ranks right up there in the "truly awful" category.

But, oh, how I love to sing!

That got me thinking, though. How do we view the enjoyment-competency relationship? I think it's natural for us to enjoy doing things in which we succeed. But do we lose touch with the enjoyment of doing? Or lose sight of the potential to accel, if we press on, and find enjoyment? Is there much room for enjoying an activity or venture that you are truly, deeply bad at doing?

Worth thinking about.

There's probably a song about it, too.

Kiss those babies!

Music in the House

This year, I've made a concerted effort to include more music in our daily pattern. We used to have music playing in the background almost constantly. Then, I think between all the change and chaos and noise, well, I admit I liked the quiet places between conversations and questions. But a day without music, even for people who don't play music, or write music, or consider themselves connoisseurs of music... still kinda quiet. It's been nice to get back to the sway of background music. It's also been nice to make our choices a little more intentional.

Now, we don't have iPODs, or nanos, or slingwhatsits. Just a very old stereo with the radio, a double tape player (although don't put tapes in the one on the left, it eats them), and a CD player. Simple. Old. The kids can operate it (which probably explains the situation with the tape player). But perfectly useful, and fun. We've been listening and talking and looking things up. It's active learning, but feels passive in that it's just part of the day, rather than anything structured.

Yesterday, I popped in our "From Dublin to Dakar" CD, and the kids surprised me by striking up a conversation about the music. John said, "This sounds very Egyptian." James said, "No, I think it's got more of an Indian sound." Smidge said, "HAHAHAAAAA!" (?? We don't ask.) We talked about the artists and their backgrounds. We danced a little and picked favorites. I asked them what about the music gave each of them the impressions it did - about its origin, its authors. What instruments do you think you hear? Some of their instincts were right-on, some were a little oh... really? but that wasn't the point of it. It wasn't a pop quiz. It was why we do what we do.

So they can learn.

So we can explore the world around us, and expand the world within us.

We'll take some things along permanently, and some we'll savor and discard later.

It's okay. We can enjoy this delicious life together. (If I were to dust off my food-related review guide, I'd say it was a musical sampler for a light afternoon's repast. Tapas, perhaps. Good stuff.)

Times like that, I'd give body parts to have a pocket musician I could pull out and set up on the futon. Wouldn't that be wonderful? He'd come with a full array of musical instruments, a broad background in various forms and music theory. Ah, yes, that's just what I need. I wonder if you can order one of those in a catalog somewhere? Can you see the ad:

Get your own pocket musician! Amaze your children, astound your friends! Choose from many schools, and training levels. No bands or wholesalers, please.

What delights have you found in music lately?

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, March 22

Goof Ball

Say Cheese stick

I love that goofy, sweet kid.


Getting Out The Door

A friend observed once that in order to get out the door at seven, she has to start the process at three. She wasn't joking, but the only ones in the group who knew that were the ones with more than two children. (This friend has six, and she's *good*. I want to be her when I grow up.) If you have children, you'll laugh because this wasn't you. If you don't, hopefully it will inspire you to have tenderness, and a flexible time frame, for your parent-friends. The friends in today's story are just such friends, and I love them for it.

Zorak calls at lunch and says, "Hey, they're gonna have the boat at the dock right after work. Can you have the boys ready?" (Me-Wa and Me-Tae bought a little fishing boat and wanted to surprise the boys. Totally awesome idea.)

Um... sure?

Now, I was planning to do all this on Friday. Or Saturday. This is Wednesday. What, in our ten-plus years together, made him think I am capable of this task on such short notice, I do not know.

But I gave it a good shot, and thought, for a while, that we would make it. I let the boys off the rest of their studies under the condition that they would please go find socks and some kind of shoes and meet me at the door. (Yes, this was around one. No, we didn't have to leave the house until after four. It takes that long.) Walk with me through the afternoon.

The three big ones shout, "OK, Mom!" and we're off!

Five minutes later...

I've scrounged up some empty bottles, filled them all carefully 2/3 full with water and set them (mostly) upright in the freezer.

I found a cooler. (Huh? This isn't ours. Where did this come from? *sniff* Well, it smells clean. It'll work.) Wiped it down. Threw in some cheese sticks. And some ice. Eight cubes of ice, to be exact, because somebody has - once again - turned off the ice maker.

John is standing in the front yard, wearing church pants. And pirate boots. And no shirt. "John, sweetie. You're going fishing. Don't you think you might not want to wear your navy Dockers?" With a cheerful, "OK, Mom," he heads inside to change. I'll deal with the boots later.

Smidge, honey, let's get your socks... why are you naked?
"Me wants to have JAMMY DAY!"
OK, that would be a place to start. Where are your jammies, then?
"No me no."
Alrighty, get some socks, sweetie. I'm going to go find Baby Girl.
"OK, Mom."

(I haul screaming BabyGirl in from the precipice of death that is our front porch, while yelling down the hallway, "JOHN, Honey, you can't leave the front door open. BabyFlash is an escape artist!" He yells back, "OK, Mom!")

As I set ScreamingBabyGirl down in the nursery, a pair of underwear lands on her head. *Huh?* Smidge has his head *in* the drawer, flinging skivvies, hand-over-hand. James enters, fully clothed in a sweater, jeans, thick socks, and boots. He immediately starts trying to intervene. (He's trying to help. He's trying to help. He's trying to help.)

Smidge is screaming, BabyGirl is screaming (and apparently stuck in the leg hole of a pair of whities). James is getting irate, shouting, "Stop it! You are NOT a cartoon character!" (I can't help but think he wouldn't say that if he could view this scene objectively...) I see movement from the corner of my eye, through the foyer and out the front door. Leaving it open.

That was John, now wearing his tan Dockers. And cowboy boots (because pirate boots just don't go with tan?)

"Smidge, why are you crying?"
"No me have socks."
"*sigh* James, can you catch BabyGirl (she's back on the porch now, and heading for the steps) and take her to your room while you change out of that sweater? You're going to roast."
"OK, Mom."

"And Smidge, let's get you some socks."
"OK, Mom."

(Yelling out the door,) "John, Honey, I was thinking something more along the lines of your cargo pants or jeans. Remember, not church pants, okay?"
"OK, Mom."
"And shut the door!"
"OK, Mom."

We get Smidge some socks. I direct him to find the clothes he was wearing prior to the JAMMY DAY announcement, and put them back on. James has BabyGirl safe and sound... I bolt to the basement to find the life jackets. Find them, just in time to hear a thump and some kind of wailing noise. (I have a game I play sometimes, where I try to guess the incident before I get to the scene of the crime. Was it Smidge, in the nursery, with the corner of a drawer? Or was it Emily, in the boys' room, with the ladder to the bunks? Kinda breaks up the tension.)

It was Smidge, in the nursery, on the doorknob. I was close. More crying. James announces he's ready. And he really is. Oh, bless that child!

(You do know, though, that we're not even CLOSE to being able to head out the door, right? But at least they're cheerful, and their hearts are in the right places. I can't get angry about that.)

John informs me that his shoes have no laces. Why? Who has taken them, and where are they now? (We launched a full-scale man hunt for the laces, but I ended up calling Zorak. "Are you still at the store? Oh, good. Can you please get John some shoe laces? Thanks!")

Smidge is dressed. But his feet have grown. Since last weekend. (Call Zorak back. "And Smidge shoes? I don't know. Hang on. Um, they're six and a half inches long... *screaming erupts in the background as BabyGirl claws at the front door and perfoms an opera about the orphan child locked in a dungeon - while Smidge starts yelling at James, who is digging through the craft things, searching for shoe laces* Can you convert from that? I've really got to go. Love you!")

James? Still good to go. Thank God.

Baby girl? She's okay, although exuding some kind of weird slime that's going to make her look dirt-breaded after five minutes on the bank of the river. But otherwise? She's fine.

Smidge? Still mostly dressed. I didn't even ask about underwear. He had pants. A shirt. Socks. Life is good.

Quick head count - 1, 2, 3, 4. *whew*

Check the water in the freezer. Only two spilled. Still no ice cubes. Stupid gremlins. Pack. Load. Wrangle. Wipe. Clean. Tidy. Pray. Pretty simple routine once you get the hang of it.

Zorak pulls up and it's a flurry of lacing and fitting and wiping and loading. Me-Wa calls. They've been at the dock for a while. They're waiting for us. What's taking so long? Zorak rushes. I do one last once over. Nobody is wearing anything too weird. Nobody's naked. Ah... I no longer care. "Load up!"

Zorak tells me we're taking the Suburban. Oh.

Yell out the door, "Wrong car!" Smidge cries again. Three hours ago, I would have bothered to ask. Right now, I can tell he's not bleeding, not stuck in the pickup, doesn't have a pitbull stuck to his head. He's fine.

And that's when Zorak looks at me and says, "You ready?"

Me? Oh, Honey. (Don't cry. Please don't cry, Dy. Deep breath.) I'm wearing one of your shop rag t-shirts, soccer-shorts-as-boxers, no bra, and I haven't showered in three days. I have zits. My finger isn't healed yet, and it hurts. Until you'd called, I'd been cleaning and teaching all morning long. And did I mention that I have PMS? Listen, I know where to find you. But there is No. Way. NOWAY I'm passing up the opportunity to wait until you leave so I can take a shower. Alone. With no "help". No stray drafts. No on-off-on-off of the vent fan. Nobody crying. Nobody screaming. No worries that someone has set BabyGirl adrift.

I. Am. Tired.

He shakes his head, but smiles. "OK, Mom."
I smile and wave. "OK, Dad. Love you!"

Ten years ago, a story like this would have scared the living daylights out of me. Now? Not it's not so bad. I wouldn't trade it for all the quiet, calm, or free time in the world.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 21

Oh, look! Another big... uh, move along, kids.

So after working hard last Saturday, we realized we had (once again) not prepared something for supper ahead of time, and so... into town for supper. While waiting to be seated, we noticed another good-sized family beside us.

"Oh, look, they have as many children as we do!" I whispered to Zorak.

He counted. "More. They have five."

"Oh. No, one more. Six. How cool."

"They're cute, aren't they?" By now, our children are waving and smiling at their children.

"Yeah, they are. Oh, seven. Wow, that is so awesome!"

About this time, the father, whose ears are probably programmed to hear any mention of the number "seven", turned to find us staring at his family. He looked prepared to tell us it's none of our business. We smiled.

"We were just admiring your beautiful children."

He smiled.

We began talking. They're in town for a soccer tournament. Oh, what fun. Kids and hotels, and negotiating travel with so many people. General family chit-chat. The wife overheard adult conversation and turned around. She's pregnant! Oh, she's beautiful. Made me want to have quadruplets right then and there, just because.

Then she gave me the once-over and her whole demeanor changed. She shot him "the look", he gave us (me) the once-over. Conversation ended.

Huh. That was a little strange, I thought. Well, we have been working in the barn all day. We're a little grunged out. Maybe... I don't know. Maybe she thought we're in the business of nabbing other people's adorable children. *shrug* OK, whatever.

So we sat down, and I took off my coat and went up to get some food. And I got several other really odd looks. Mostly from families. What the --??

THEN it dawned on me.

We have a selection of t-shirts we use for wearing around the house, working on the land, etc. And I was wearing one of those. Emblazoned across my chest, in bold letters and detailed artwork:

Polygamy Porter
Why have just one?
Bring some home to the wives!

Well. That would explain a lot...

Kiss those babies!

*edited to fix the slogan

Tuesday, March 20

No Goats?

I got this in my email today...

You have been thinking up a cool brand, right?

or are you still all about the goats?

I wanna be a goatboy, baby!
Goatboy Up!
Goatboys stay in the saddle...

Even sheepherding is cooler.

So, it looks like we'll be going with cows because of... semantics.


Kiss those calves er, babies!

Getting It All Done

Nobody gets it all done. Ever. Everybody must decide on the best return on investment for his resources: time, emotional attachments, money. Whatever resources you have available, you have to decide how and where to invest them. If you get up early, you don't get to sleep late. If you choose to eat out, you don't get to control what goes into your meal. Or you don't get to pretend you're an Old World Italian matriarch, feeding your famished chicks and fussing over them. (But then, that may freak your family out, and they wouldn't mind skipping it entirely.) But the point is, no matter how good anybody makes it look, there will always be something that doesn't get done.

And in that vein, I really feel I must 'fess up. Emily, who is currently running the "new mother of two" gauntlet, is feeling a little frustrated. (Y'all remember that beating, right? Shortly after baby #2 arrives, and suddenly it feels like the workload has grown exponentially and the workday has shortened by 16 hours?) She wrote:

How, how, how do you get so much done in a weekend? Tell me your secret, please!!! Somehow we never seem to get done even the basics that we hope to accomplish - the weekend is taken up with catch-up chores and grocery shopping and errands and then maybe, MAYBE we'll get one of our house/garden projects STARTED...sigh.

I was going to sit back and feel smug and organized. You know, bask in the warmth of Adoration and Awe ('cuz I don't get it from anybody who knows me in person, believe me). But, well, I really like Emily, and so, I have to be honest. If you look very closely, you can see my trick. Details. It's all in the details. I write down every. single. move. we. make. Normal people might have written something like this for the "Progress!" post:

We prepped the garden and set the bed. Then we cleaned up the mess we'd made, and took ourselves inside. There, we shuffled boxes and culled a bit. There are slimy things growing on the bathroom counter, and the guest room looks like we have an insane mathematician living in there.

But you see, THAT kind of wording really makes it obvious that we stayed in bed 'til ten, didn't get outside until after lunch, came in when it got dark, and... well, that brings me to my second little trick.

"The Basics" - things like laundry, mopping, airing out the beds and dusting the ceiling fans. *snort* OK, I don't dust the ceiling fans. If you leave them alone long enough, you can just switch the direction of the fan blades and the furry bits fly right off. Kids think it's great fun, and scamper to gather all the "caterpillars", Voila! Put the blades back the right way, and as long as you don't turn the fan off while you have company (or blog it to the whole world), nobody will ever know.

But back to the general point. I don't do those things during the weekends. Weekend time is family time with the family member we miss out on most during the week. We do grocery shopping during the week. I have a husband who is thoughtful enough to keep us supplied with miscellany, should we forget something while we were there, but I don't set foot inside a market on the weekend, if I can help it.

Errands? P'ffft. I'll run errands on Wed, while we have to be in town, anyway. Unless you need me to drop something off to prevent, say, full-scale economic implosion, or a foreclosure on your home, I'm not dropping it off on the weekends. (Well, and chocolate. I will bring you chocolate on the weekend, but that's an act of mercy and love and totally doesn't count as an errand.)

By Friday (or Thursday, on alternate weeks), the laundry's caught up enough that Zorak can get through the weekend and have clothes to wear to work on Monday. The floors are relatively clean, the bathroom has been tidied. There's not much they can do to the house... well, strike that. No sense is tempting fate. I tried for years to have everybody pitch in and let's clean-clean-clean on Saturday morning! WOOHOO Isn't this FUN? (um... no.)

It feels like tradition to do it that way, but in our home, it just makes for a cranky dragonslayer, and an irritable mommy. So, I do those things during the week, and come the weekend, we can hang out, eat late, mosey about, work on whatever needs it, roll around like puppies, wallow in Daddy's presence. No, my home isn't showroom clean. But my family wouldn't be any happier if I spent the weekend getting it that way, and come Monday morning, Zorak would go off to work and the kids and I would be left wondering where our fun time with Daddy went. So I do it that way, and we get more done in a very enjoyable manner.

And then I record every. single. move. ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 19

Random Plants & Musings

Two big things:

1) I figured out how to control *change* the exposure on my camera. And how to do something else.

2) And... I don't know what that "something else" is.

Technically, this could be #3, as well, but it's not. It's just me, thinking we really ought to see if we can find the owner's manual for the camera. Not only do I not know what the other thing is, but I do not know how to determine which one I'm controlling (and I use the term loosely).

There's one button on the camera that does more than one thing! Shutter speed, perhaps? Or isn't that exposure? What controls action? The other one allows me to capture action as if it's posed. For example, when I told the boys to wave their hands and heads as fast as they could, they did, and I started snapping and poking buttons. This is what I got:

Looks like your typical self-posed boy portrait, doesn't it? This is them, in motion. Sort of.

Do you know what this means? NO MORE SHMU PICTURES! If I can harness this technology, we could have crystal clear photos of all our children, and not have a photo collection of one-eyed, three-nostriled furry things. This is BIG!

And a few more things... dunno what these are. As always, input (knowledge, guesses, whatever) is appreciated. Thanks.

I found these on the ground while I was trying to get a good shot of a mushroom.

And Ernie, this is for you.

Those things grow fast out here. That log fell in a storm during the fall, and already it's covered in fungi (ok, "mushrooms" - but I don't know what kind, or if they're technically mushrooms, or whatever, but there they are, and the boys have been instructed not to eat them). This is the biggest one, and I love the way it cups up and out, and how that vine has grown right through it without either one seeming to take notice of one another.

This is so much fun!

Kiss those babies!


I was quiet this weekend because I was either busy or asleep. Good stuff for the Forever Home.

We got the first raised garden bed built, painted, and out into the upper meadow. It's beautiful. Zorak ran herd on the boys while they painted it. I tried to go watch, but had to just snap some photos and then run back inside. Drip edges make me twitchy and overbearing, and I didn't want to ruin the adventure for the boys by micromanaging. So I'd slip out, shout *rah* *rah* *rah* *Look at you guys go!* (click, click, click), then run back in before I said anything else. That seemed to work well.

We got quite a bit of land tilled. By hand. God bless the horse-drawn plough. *whew*

We pulled two barrels full of weeds from Old Mrs. Cook's garden plot by the barn. That'll be our melon patch this year. We cut down quite a few stray trees, dug up quite a few stumps, removed about half of the rotted railroad ties, and turned the first few feet of soil. Then we collapsed in a heap.

We refurbed the old bookshelf from the boys' room and set it up in the guest room, then loaded it down with the rest of the boxes in there. Turned out to be box after box of Zorak's school books. So now, it looks like we expect our guests to indulge in a little light differential equations and statistics reading before bed. (J, I promise I will find a better selection to add to it before you come! Honest!)

Are you familiar with those boxes that get packed at the very end of a move: pictures, drawings, single pencils, paperwork, tea bags, the occasional stray shoe? We went through a few of those. Probably three moves' worth.

Zorak trimmed out the master bedroom closet! WOOHOO! It's still a gaping hole, but now it's a decorative gaping hole.

Last week, Me-Tae gave the boys some foam critters that grow when you put them in water. So far, John's crawdad has grown to the size of a lobster. Smidge's pink seahorse is getting pretty big, too. James' whale-shark-thing just exuded some kind of slime and rolled over, but didn't grow. Actually, they all oozed slime, but his seems to have absolutely spewed it. We have a pretty nasty little menagerie on the bathroom counter at the moment. (How long do y'all normally keep things like that laying out before you make the kids pack 'em up?)

And now, we're back to work of another kind: areas of polygons and addition by 8; Caesar Agustus and Dick and Jane; the end of Aeneis' journey and the return voyage for young Harve and the crew of the We're Here. For me, this work is more restful than that which we did over the weekend, although both are equally valuable for forming young minds, and old bodies. It's good, good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, March 17

The End of the Day

Zorak is in the groove. He's brainstorming. He's sketching. He's on fire! The man's brilliance is showing, and he's throwing ideas out there the way some people throw, oh, I don't know, spit balls. It's impressive. But, you know, I'm really tired. I mean, really tired. As in, I would die an early, and probably whiny death as a depression era farm wife, tired.

I'm trying to hang, but have this internal running monologue:

I wonder if he will give me a foot rub? Ugh, my stomach hurts... I wonder if a foot rub would help? It couldn't hurt to ask. What's he talking about? Beams? Beams. Huh. That makes my feet hurt.

Then he asks me what I think.

I... uh... what was that, again?

He probably thinks I've become daft. I may have. But man, oh, man, am I tired. It's a good tired.

Maybe he'll give me a foot rub if I can come up with just one really good idea...


Friday, March 16

Tips from the shop

I slipped down to the basement last night to see how the garden beds were coming along. (They're coming along splendidly, by the way.) But what caught my attention was this:

The work we've done would have been a lot easier with all the proper equipment (in this case, say, a table saw), but we've mastered the fine art of jig making. Er, in all honesty, Zorak has mastered the art - I couldn't make a jig if you handed me shoes and played me an Irish tune. He laughs and shoves off my compliments, usually convinced I'm mocking him. But I'm not. To him, it's just a matter of looking around and spotting, with his CreativeEngineerVision, something that would do the trick.

I don't know about you, but I never would have looked at quick clamps, stud hangers, scrap wood and saw horses and thought, "Oh, a table saw!"

It's not pretty, at all, but it's allowed us to do a lot over the years that we just didn't have the equipment for. And that's a beautiful thing. I hope the boys get Zorak's creativity, among other qualities.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, March 15

A Box!

Today was slightly chilly and rainy. Ball practice was cancelled. We did groceries, paid the electric bill, and got gas. Then we just came home and piddled about the house.

But then, the Big Brown Truck pulled up, and we got a box - a goody box from New Mexico. Aunt B, Gram, and Aunt Sally sent the kids all sorts of neat goodies: a beautiful afghan, delightful books, snacks, and a box for baby girl. Well, what better things to have on hand for just such a day as today?

We didn't move from this very spot until it was suppertime. :-)

Oh, and there was a box of beautiful chocolates that included a map, so there are no surprises when you bite into something! I would have posted a picture of that, too, but, well, I've hidden it. :-D

Thank you, guys!

Kiss those babies!

Bad Mother of the Week Award

As I packed our bag for ball practice tomorrow night, I had to smile. We’re getting the hang of this. We’re not half bad, really. Well, most of the time. Monday wasn't what you'd call a "stellar" parenting moment. It's not quite Bad Mother of the Year quality (wouldn't want to peak too early in the year), but of the week? Yeah. You see, Monday, John was doing so well. He was hitting and running. Throwing and catching. Cheering and talking imaginary, mostly polite, 6-year old smack. He was a man possessed by the love of the sport. Until they put him on third base, which is about the same time I lost it.

Suddenly, the kid turned into Jack Sparrow. He was weaving and dodging, swiping at some invisible (to us) foe just above his head. The look on his face was an exact replica of Capt’n Jack – a mix of suspicion, irritation, and general confusion. I started to chuckle.

And then, I made the worst mistake you can make when you’re laughing and really oughtn’t be: I tried to stifle it. Might as well feed a gremlin in a pool at two in the morning. It was over. Soon I was cackling between sucking breaths. Tears bubbled up over my lids, and splashed down onto my cheeks. Just when I thought I had myself composed enough to join the practice again, I’d look up in time to see him sidestep and stumble over the base. Arms flailing. Eyes squinty and leering, chin set. And all composure was lost. My final hope of getting it together died instantly when a batter fielded a ball straight past him, and he didn’t notice until a hoard of children flew past him, all duck-walking to catch the ball. He spun around, cocked his head toward the children and then began swiping at the unseen foe. I was a goner.

Zorak chuckled a little at first, too. Then he started to ignore me. I’m pretty sure he scootched over at some point because when I toppled over onto his arm, it wasn’t there. Finally, he gave me the, “have you been drinking” stare, and that sobered me up somewhat. Well, that’s about when practice ended, too, so that may have helped.

For the record, no alcohol was imbibed at, or before this practice. Turns out there were mosquitos buzzing around John’s head at third base. After he’d been bitten by one, he determined there was no way he was going to let another one so much as land on him. Suddenly, his behavior makes a world of sense. And mine? Well, what do you want to bet someone slips me an AA tract after the next parent meeting?

But it was funny.

I do love that John Boy. Thankfully, that part’s a given, so when his parents occasionally perform a stunningly moronic slip, it’s easier to forgive. And, as James pointed out, I wasn’t laughing at him, I was laughing at the action. Yeah, I like that. But I still expect the award to arrive sometime this week.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, March 13

From the stack...

I'm reading Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. Most of the time, I'm laughing. Heartily. From my toes. It's like reading letters from my snarky brother on his travels. But, then, I amble across a tidbit of wisdom, or insight, that hauls me up short. Stills my laughter. Reminds me what made Mark Twain one of America's eminent story tellers. Makes me think. I found this tonight, and wanted to share it here.

When an acre of ground has produced long and well, we let it lie fallow and let it rest for a season; we take no man clear across the continent in the same coach he started in -- the coach is stabled somewhere on the plains and its heated machinery is allowed to cool for a few days; when a razor has seen long service and refuses to hold an edge, the barber lays it away for a few weeks, and the edge comes back of its own accord. We bestow thoughtful care upon inanimate objects, but none upon ourselves. What a robust people, what a nation of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves on the shelf occasionally and renew our edges.

Wisdom, indeed.

Kiss those babies!

Red Wasp Control

First, you cleverly disguise an entrance for the wasps. Hide it so well that even you have no idea where it is.

Then you let the wasps in, one at a time. This method works best if you make sure you have a decent alarm system. A child who has been stung before works well, but if you haven't got one of those, any child who reads voraciously and proceeds to freak out about the possibilities of, say, a cobra attack in North America ("but someone could have smuggled one into the country!") will work just as well.

When the alarm sounds, you simply leap from the floor, sending the small ones flying (some head for cover, some simply roll right off your lap) and grab your trusty fly swatter. The wasp will likely show you to it, landing quietly just. by. the. handle.

Begin the umpteenth search for bug spray this week (which you haven't got, and never remember to put on the list until you're mid-battle, of course). In a pinch, Lysol works relatively well. More of a mental boost than any actual help, but that's okay.

Now, exude confidence. Express to your small ones that it's only a small wasp. It's okay. It doesn't want to be here (anymore than you do), and that it won't hurt you if you stay still. Unless, of course, you make it mad by spraying it with Lysol. (Small, of course, also being a relative term. They don't need to know that its red body bouncing off the walls looks, from your vantage point, particularly large and invincible. And angry.)

And so, you begin. Wait. Smack. Spray. Smack. Leap! If you'd like to do it the way I do it, which is truly quite exciting for all involved, shut one eye. This will eliminate any of that pesky depth perception some people have which allows them to hit the wasp on any attempt in the single digits. If, however, you happen to be fond of your depth perception, well, I can't blame you. I'd use it if I had it, too. Smack. Spray. Smack. DIVE! And so on.

Red wasps have incredibly hard bodies. It's amazing how quickly your standard store-bought fly swatter will crumple and bow beneath the impact, while the wasp will only glare at you and start dancing a jig above your head. But if you have the cardiovascular strength to keep up, you will eventually be able so show your small ones the corpse. And they always want to see it. I don't know why. It's not impressive. Honestly, for all the pomp involved, it's more than a little humiliating to have only that to show for it, but they insist on viewing the vanquished foe. (And am I the only one who cringes the entire time with fear that it's not Really Dead, but only playing oppossum and waiting to poke one of my children in the eye with lightning speed before I can reach the Lysol again?)

The house is wasp-free for another hour or so. It smells clean and antiseptic now, too. Ah, I love Springtime in the South!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 12

This is a recording.

You have reached the blog of Dy. She is not at home right now, because she is in the barn, or at the ballfield, or en route to town.

Other people do these things, and do them with many more children in tow, and still remain articulate beyond suppertime. Yes, she knows this. (And if she were still articulate tonight, she would agree.) She is, however, a slow learner (remember, that's why God only gave her one at a time, no?) Plus, the typing-related speech impediment from her wound has reduced her to thinking in terms of spelling out entire words as she hen-pecks the keys. This new glitch, it seems, renders paragraphical thought a mere notion. Humor or wisdom are likewise out of reach for the time being.

Please leave a message at the bottom and she will get back to you when EmBaby leaves for college, or the splint comes off, whichever comes. Eventually.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 11

Not so bright, and not so stoopid

Not so bright: I sliced the meat off the third knuckle on my middle finger today. Stoopid, stoopid thing to do. Knew better, but sometimes we just get so comfortable in the things we do to stop thinking about the things we know. Thankfully, it was a sharp knife, and everything could be put back in place fairly accurately. I'll leave it splinted for a couple of days, hopefully it'll stick back together okay. Please pardon typos over the next few entries. I had no idea how integral to the typing process that middle finger is!

Not so stoopid: Evidently, Balto should have been named Houdini. We had company for supper tonight. Fresh children to herd - WOOHOO! So, we let him in the house after supper, while the children played outside. But, no, that would not do. The in-and-out traffic through the front door was just too heavy to expect him not to make a break for it and succeed. SO, we put him in the basement. Not fifteen minutes later, there he was, skulking along among the iris and daffodils, heading straight for all the fun! I took him back in, flipped the two locks on the basement doors, leaned a cinder block against the door, propped a pallet under the door knob, and braced that with a mongo extendo-ladder/scaffold combo. As I emerged from the basement into the hallway, I commented (half in jest) that if he can get out of that, he's a genius.

Well, he's a genius. Who knew? He's out there, now, rolling happily in the grass.

And so, another weekend ends.

We made a lot of progress on the Forever Yard. The mystery tree from last week is in bloom right now, so it looks like it's hearty enough to have survived the frost. (Yay!) Zorak has the forms almost done for the first garden bed. The pile for the chipper is growing impressively. The barn is nearly cleaned and ready to earn its keep. Zorak's already making plans for fencing, and our first cow-calf operation. It looks like I've lost my argument that goats are smaller (and thus, less intimidating to, erm, the small children... yeah, the kids...) But all taken, things are looking good. Feeling good.

The children ran wild for hours today, thoroughly enjoying their friends and this beautiful Southern spring weather. Sleepy children seem not to notice the time change, and so, they slipped to bed without complaint. I think we will have to make it a tradition to spend the first day of Daylight Savings Time BBQ'ing with friends, running the children into a dreamy, happy, exausted sleep come evening. Quite nice.

And now, I am off to continue traveling with Mr. Twain, who has left Tangier, and is headed for points further East.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, March 10

Tell me this wasn't planted on purpose!?!?!?

There are three different plants in there, but the one I'm asking about is the thick, stalky one in the foreground with the greenish, reddish coloring and no leaves. Can you see the thorns on that thing? Oy! Zorak and I look like we've taken up Olympic cat tossing.

There's another one among them that has tiny, curved hooks that are sharp and hard. Possibly barbed. I suspect evil, as well. Particularly the one that reached down and nabbed me in the hollow on the back of my neck while I wrestled with the reddish ones above - ohhhh, okay. Strike that. Zorak just informed me that they're one and the same. These things get whip-like near the end. Yeouch!

And that means there are only two plants in that photo. So, then, what's this stuff, with the leaves?

If you run into it, castor oil is incredibly soothing on the injuries inflicted by these plants.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 9

Old Mrs. Cook

Today, we scarred the boys (but only slightly) by dragging them to the hayloft. Smidge is the only one who went up willingly, at first. (But that boy has more adventure than sense, sometimes.) Once they got up there... nope, still not thrilled. We began to wonder if these are, in fact, our children. When Zorak and I were kids, you couldn't have pried us out of a spot like that. But then, the magic began to come alive..
For all the times we've worried that James has grown too old for some adventures, it's a soothing balm to hear a wee voice shout from behind the fence, "I'll be up in the loft!"

The majority of the upper level of the barn is oak. It's dry, sturdy, and well-built. Pretty neat, up there.

We've been looking for a burn barrel, and today we found one. In. The. Creek. *sigh* The yahoos who had this place before us were just jackasses. It's going to take us a good five years to remove all the trash they left strewn about the property. However, the more we work on our Forever Home, the more attached the boys become to "Old Mrs. Cook". She and her husband built the Forever Home, 35 years ago. She was known among the neighbors for her cooking and hospitality. It was she who most likely planted the pear tree, the apple trees, and the chokecherry bushes. It was she who nurtured the place in all its horticultural glory. The shrubbery was probably her idea, and the terraced garden down below was most definitely hers. It was another family who trashed the place, in between the Cooks and our family, but the more we do, the more we find ourselves attached to "Old Mrs. Cook". Today, we found something amidst the hidden landscaping alluded to earlier in the week. See that... No, not the tires. (Although that is a mighty impressive collection, isn't it?) The rectangular flat spot to the right of the monkey grass. See that? That's a patio! We'll get better pictures once we've got it cleaned off (it took us five hours to get to that point, today), but you can see there are some lovely rocks embedded in the patio.
She had a secluded, shaded spot (before the shade tree was overtaken by that climbing stuff and succumbed to despair), down by the barn, where she could sit and relax while... I don't know, while the kids worked the horses? While Mr. Cook worked in the barn? Perhaps a tea break after working in the garden, herself? We don't know. But it's fun to guess.

Tomorrow, I'll need more help identifying the dangerous, man-eating vines that are growing down along that fence. Right now, I'm going to go find the witch hazel and castor oil and see if I can stem the bloodflow.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, March 8

Not With My Child

So our previous dentist decided he could not address John's and Smidge's dental needs (after extensive costs on our part), and recommended a pedodontist to have the work done. I called the insurance company, called the denstists on the list, and made an appointment with one whose office staff said they could certainly address the situation. When I shared my excitement with a friend, she said, "You mean you found one who would let you go back with the boys?"

What? I didn't even ask. What kind of a set-up would that be? I'd heard of the occasional dentist not permitting parents to go back, and the reasoning usually ran along the lines of "I am the child's care provider, and he needs to develop a relationshp directly with me." (Parents get in the way, essentially.) Well, ok, if a parent chooses to submit to a policy like that, that's fine and dandy. I'm not among them, so I thought I would call to confirm.

Good thing I called. But now, they've changed their line of reasoning. "It's a HIPA ruling. It's the law."

It's "the law" that the parent of an unemancipated minor cannot be present during exams and treatment? Um, no. Not exactly.

Firstly, HIPA addresses "privacy" with regard to the patient's files. It does lay out the framework for very specific cases in which a parent may not retain the rights and responsibilities of a minor's legal representative. Of the 60+ pages I've read of the Act thus far, suspected neglect/abuse, court order giving representative rights to someone other than the parent, and treatment for mental health when the child desires it and the parents do not are the only three specifically named conditions wherein a parent's right of representation may be removed by third parties. Parental consent to release responsibility is the fourth. All of which are set forth very clearly, and with precedented understanding and foreknowledge by all parties. I'm not going to tackle HIPA itself today, but only this specific point:

Nothing in HIPA authorizes a health care provider to deny a parent the rights of representation for the minor without cause.

Do not let a health care provider tell you that you cannot be present for your child's treatment due to HIPA privacy acts. If you allow it, then you have rescinded your rights under one of the specific provisions in the Act: express permission for the provider to bypass your representation. I have yet to find anything that cites rectification of the process when that permission was given based on faulty information, and I suspect that future searches will yield the same results.

When a provider denies you the right to be present for treatment, consultation, or examination right off the bat, that provider is acting unethically, if not unlawfully. If that provider tells you that it is the law, find another provider. You are being duped. Unfortunately, we are all too often unaware of our rights, what few remain, and our ignorance is going to completely strip us of our rights and responsibilities, in the end. When a harried parent is informed by a brusque staff member that something is a federal regulation, how many parents are readily armed with subsection and paragraph citation to counter it? (I also wonder how properly the staff are being educated. This isn't to say there is an onslaught by receptionists nationwide to participate in the Agenda of removing parents from the parental role. I honestly believe they are simply taught this, and thus propgate it.)

You can read the full text here. (It's a .pdf file.) Truthfully, the devils are in the details.

But not with my child, they won't. And we did find a dentist who isn't on the Gov't in loco parentis bandwagon.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 7

Oh, Freud!!

Tonight, in the chaos that engulfs the church hall after Pioneer Club, I shouted to the boys to hut-hut, as we had to stop at the grocery store on the way home. One of the ladies beside me did a double-take and burst out laughing. She admitted she'd thought I'd told them we had to swing by the liquor store. *chuckle* I must look really tired.

There will be some changes in the way we approach the sorting of our days. I'm looking forward to that, but right now, am too tired to even remember what we agreed upon, let alone share it here.

And so, I'll leave you with a cute joke that landed in my inbox this week.

A mom was concerned about her Kindergarten son walking to school. He didn't want his mother to walk with him. She wanted to give him the feeling that he had some independence, but yet know that he was safe.

So, she had an idea of how to handle it. She asked a neighbor if she would please follow him to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, so he probably wouldn't notice her.

She said that since she was up early with her toddler anyway, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.

The next school day, the neighbor and her little girl set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbor boy he knew. She did this for the whole week.

As the boys walked and chatted, kicking stones and twigs, Timmy's little friend noticed the same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week. Finally, he said to Timmy, "Have you noticed that lady following us to school all week? Do you know her"?

Timmy nonchalantly replied, "Yeah, I know who she is."

The friend said, "Well, who is she"?

"That's just Shirley Goodnest," Timmy replied. "And her daughter Marcy."

"Shirley Goodnest? Who the heck is she and why is she following us"?

"Well," Timmy explained. "Every night, my mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, because she worries about me so much. And in the Psalm, it says, 'Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life,' so I guess I'll just have to get used to it!"

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, March 6


Tonight, after a particularly grueling day flogging the meadow into shape, wrangling the children into some semblance of an educational position, off-kilter napping schedules (mainly mine, but BabyGirl helped), baseball practice, and... did I mention it was a particularly tough day? We came home, and I managed to have supper on the table in less than an hour.

While I cooked, Smidge and John sidled over to the dining table for some horribly mangled game of chess-meets-dragonlore. Zorak and James played a riveting, and rather loud, game of chess at the breakfast bar. (James may one day be a mean chess player, but the kid will get beaten consistently if he ever tries to play poker.) Emily screeched protests against the injustice that everybody got to touch the chess pieces except her. You know, in my daydreams about the idyllic family evening routine, it's much quieter...

No idea how we managed it, but we sat down to eat before seven o'clock! We said our prayer (Smidge has stopped screaming while we pray, always appreciated!) and enjoyed a hot meal after a long day. But, that's not the SCORE! The SCORE! came when Zorak said, "Wow, you're getting really good at this. Just being able to walk in and whip up something good."

Angels sang, folks. They sang. They danced. I think a couple of them even waved lighters. It was beautiful.

And that's it. That is the summit of my felicity today. It may not seem like much to those of you who are culinarily gifted. Or have husbands who are thus blessed, (or will eat anything and not quietly decide to cook all the meals from here on in). But for me, this is huge. I have, after a mere thirty-three and a half years on this earth (admittedly, only about the last ten spent actually trying) achieved a major goal as a wife and mother. I can whip up something that my husband actually likes and doesn't sniff, poke, and then add Tabasco to before eating.

Sometimes, it's the small things.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 5

A Rose, By Any Other Name

Would be just as difficult to pick.

She-who-must-not-be-named (well, she could be named, but refuses to pick one), has, ironically enough, blogged about naming her children. Her story is great. She asked me to blog about it, too. My story? Well, they're named James, John, Jacob. And Emily. It's a pretty sure bet my story isn't that creative. And we don't have a cat named Smidge or Jimmy or even... well, we don't even have a cat.

So, here's how the basic scenario played out the first time around:
Z: How about Roland?
D: No.
Z: Creighton?
D: No.
Z: Roland?
D: No.
Z: Fine. You pick one.
D: *squeal* OK, how about Christian?
Z: *snort* How about B'hai?
D: You can't make me say okay to Roland, you know.
Z: Muslim? Unitarian? Agnostic?

Thomas. We both liked Thomas. But you can't pair Thomas with our last name. It invariably comes out "Thomas Edison". Hmmm. No good. In the end, we picked James. We both like James. We both have positive connotations of the name. He has a buddy, James, who he thinks the world of; I have an Uncle Jim and a buddy from high school who I think highly of, and so, it was done.

The girl name-picking session took a bit longer. It seems between the two of us, we either knew a thousand children with the names we liked, or could think of horrible things kids can do to the other names we liked. A few, we tossed because they would have condemned a girl to life on the second barstool from the end. A few more, we weeded out due to the somewhat restrictive nature of the names. The list of those rejected by only one or the other of us is enormous. We just couldn't come to a consensus. It was rough. Honestly, if we'd had James, then Emily, we'd have had to stop there, because we'd run out of girl names we could agree on.

Here comes child number two. The conversation(s) went something like this:
D: If it's a girl, Emily, right?
Z: ...right... and if it's a boy, Roland.
D: *hairy eyeball*
Z: Do you like Martin?
D: You know, I do.
Z: *pause* That was almost too easy. Do you really?
D: I really do -- wait. No. We can't do Martin.
Z: Why...?
D: My buddy, James? Yeah, Martin is his other name. That might seem creepy at high school reunions. I'm sorry.
Z: No. I totally get that.
D: Well... wanna try Thomas again?
Z: I really like Roland.
D: Chester.
Z: What?
D: If you can put Roland on the table, then I want Chester. Chester Christian. Or possibly Christian Chester. You can pick.
Z: Can we talk about this later? (And then, in his head...) Like when you aren't pumped full of growth hormones and kind of scary and irrational...
D: I heard that.
Z: I didn't say anything.
D: You thought it.
Z: And I was right. But you can't get me on a technicality. Even if we'd been taping this conversation, there's no evidence to convict me. Want a foot rub?

I don't remember how we came to John for a name. I do remember that we'd had it picked for a while before we realized we'd then have two children with the same first initial. My mother did that with her first batch of kids, only it was intentional. They all had the same initials, first-middle-last. Monogrammed gifts were a nightmare in that family. I thought it was kind of creepy, personally, and have always been glad I came later, thus dodging that bullet. So, we made sure his middle name did not begin with the same letter, and called it good.

There. We were done. Two kids. Only one slight snafu on the whole initial thing. Zorak liked the combination. As he pointed out, I could tell folks from church we'd named them after the Sons of Thunder from the Bible, and he could say they were named after the Belushi brothers. Everyone wins.

But, wait! There's more!
MORE? We can't have any more! We're out of names, and we're not having a girl. So. So, we're done. Remember? Two children? D-o-n-e. *chuckle* Ah, okay. But if we DO have a girl? (both, in unison) Emily. Ok. Cool.

Now we were in a pickle. We couldn't have James, John, and The Spare Kid. Or possibly, James, John and The One We Didn't Plan For. We felt compelled to use a J name. Do you have any idea how many bizarre J names are out there? Wow. Three months of wading through those, including a brief, yet enthusiastic, courting of Jedidiah (Zorak went to school with a Jed. He was twitchy, but brilliant, down-to-earth, and didn't seem terribly scarred by his name, but we couldn't come up with a middle name that could pull it together, you know, like a rug), and we emerged with Jacob. Again, I don't know how, exactly. We weren't even 100% certain the day he was born. I think poor Smidge spent the most time nameless of the four.

And then, Number Four.
D: Emily?
Z: Emily.
D: But, what about her middle name?
(*editorial note: no backstory to the boys' middle names. The combinations had to offer plenty of variations, enough nicknames to fit whatever they might like in the future, work well when yelled in full from the front porch, and not be difficult to pronounce or spell to strangers. That last one is my personal issue. Enough years being called "Dylan" or "Dion" and you get pretty fanatical about plain-Jane spellings.*)
We picked the boys' middle names by how they sounded with the first and last names. I'd like to do something special for Emily's middle name. You know, since her first name is a hand-me-down to the fourth generation. She needs a really special name.
Z: Yeah.
D: Would your Mom mind if we named her after her?
Z: *blank stare* Mind? No.
D: Ok. We should do that, then. Emily Radna. I really like that.

We toyed again with Jed. Wrangled over Roland (that doesn't even BEGIN with a J - I don't know how it kept coming up.) If she'd have been a he, we'd have probably gone with Joshua. It has a J. It's easy to spell, difficult to mispronounce, and we were out of ideas. Thankfully, though, we had our Sweet Miss Emily.

And now, we're done. I think. No guarantees, but I'm relatively sure. We're out of names.

Sunday, March 4

Unearthing the Mysteries

We're learning. We've been inhaling, on a much smaller scale, I'm sure, the intoxicating fumes of history that archaeologists must feel when they begin a dig. We knew when we began working on the Forever Home that this place was once much-loved, and very well-cared for. In spite of the years of neglect, the signs were still there...

Now, as we venture deeper into the land, we're seeing remnants of 30-year old landscaping, long neglected. In a place where full trenches will grow over and become invisible in one year, you can imagine how rapidly the rest of the work vanished. Last week we began pulling "weeds" in the upper meadow that led us to a core "weed" that looks like a tree, but upon closer inspection looks like it was, at one time, a shrub. A decorative shrub. Hey... wait a minnit! (Back up, to take in a broader view of the area.) WHOA!! Check that out! Big tree, flanked by two "shrubs" here, and over there, Big Dead Tree (Magic Castle) flanked by two "shrubs"... so they aren't trees? And they're not supposed to be twenty feet tall? And the design made this little indentation (which we've thought was begging for a gazebo or a greenhouse) - a perfect little hidey spot. Wow, I'll bet that was really pretty...

Today, we worked around the barn (pictured in the header). See the mass of growth there, right in front of it? There's a fence-like thing at the back of that growth that I've imagined would make a lovely arbor for muscadines. Today, we got up close and personal with that mass of growth. There's terracing in there. Landscape timbers. Monkey grass, and ornamental "shrubs" (yes, the tall things), as well as some type of creeping vine thing (probably more poison ivy, and possibly a little Virginia creeper). WOW. Thirty years ago, this little lower meadow was absolutely inviting. The skeletal structure is there for an English garden style landscape. We've been down there a time or two, but never stayed long because of the snakes and wasps. This is the summer, however, for reclaiming the land, and it looks like it will be quite the adventure.

I doubt we'll ever restore it to it's former grandeur, but that's okay. It looks like it was much more high-maintenance than we'd be capable of maintaining; it's also just not practical for what we'd like to do with the land. In the meantime, it's exciting to walk in the shadows of years past, to see what others saw and loved in this place long before we came and loved it.

And the boys are not quite yet convinced our barn will ever be a place to play or hang out. Ever. But they said that about the house, too, once upon a time. *grin*

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, March 3

Great Days

Friday, we enjoyed a tour of the WHNT TV station with our homeschool support group. What a delightful outing! John-Paul Dice led the tour, and he was wonderful with the children (and the mommies!) He started out with general descriptions, and geared his responses to the children's levels of interest. Southern hospitality at its best, truly.

Then, since we were in town, and the boys might mutiny if they didn't get to see Ward and/or Terry, we wrangled Terry (Me-Tay) into joining us for a trip to the crunchy market and lunch. It was so pretty that we played in the gazebo at the market while we waited for Me-Tay.
Zorak joined us at the restaurant, which is always a bonus for the kids. We couldn't find Me-Wah, though, so he couldn't join us. Smidge has yet to let us forget that, either. ;-) It was so nice, and the weather was absolutely beautiful, but since we'd all been up since six in the morning, we decided to come home rather than run any more errands in town.

We came home and worked-worked-worked. Thank you all, SO much for the discussion on the foliage. Turns out, I've been yanking poison ivy off many of the trees all week, and didn't realize it. Just sort of waiting for the rash to kick in now... eeek. Thankfully, the boys were relegated to the pulling of the tree-like things that definitely aren't poison anything. Yay!! The boys found quite a few earthworms in the process, which is an encouraging sign for the overall health of the land. Each worm has been lovingly fondled, oogled, and then placed gently back in the ground. I guess when you're six and three, it's important to mark your worms.

John had his second ball practice this morning. It was cold and windy. John had a blast. Baby Girl is one tough toddler. James and Smidge may forego the play area entirely in favor of the snack shack next time. Come to think of it, I love my son very much, but I may forego the bleachers and join them in the relative warmth of the snack shack if we have another cold morning like that!

John really found his stride today. They worked with the pitching machine, and he started out so timid, obviously nervous. He missed the first one, then cracked a few out there, and you could watch the transformation take place.

Next time he was up, he sauntered up to the plate, grinning like a cheshire cat, squared up, and tapped the plate with the bat. I have no idea what gave him the idea (we don't even watch ball on tv), but the coach who was catching chuckled and said, "That's right, look like a baseball player! You got it!" We do have *one of those* adults in the group. I'll have to blog about that one separately, but my-oh-my, it will be difficult not to slip a little valium into that person's coffee. Oy. Thankfully, it's just one.

We came back, prepared to work on the property a bit more, but we talked with some friends who just moved back and figured they could use a little help getting their place cleaned out and ready to move in. So we packed up lunch, yard tools, plumbing tools, and a picnic bench (thank you, Aunt B - those things are SO handy!) and headed over for the day. I'm glad we went. The kids played (as kids are wont to do, eh?), and we were able to lend a hand and enjoy the company of good friends.

At the end of the day, we are tired. Happy. Glad to live here, and to have the life and friends and opportunities we do. Impending itchy blisters and all. *grin*

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 2

Hint #2: leaves, (also vines and bark)

We dug around beneath that tree. There were quite a few other leaves, but some of them we could recognize as belonging to other trees nearby. These are the ones there were the most of. Does this help any?

Also, this is from the tree behind it, but I'm wondering if it's vines that did this to the bark, or something else? I know this poor tree probably isn't healthy, but isn't the detail fascinating? (Click on the image to view the MONGO detail.)

Zorak asked me today if we are assuming that all vines on the trees are poison ivy. I have no idea. I'm just assuming that all vines on the trees ought not be there and must come off. Probably ought to check on that at some point, huh?

There's a lot I have put off, for the simple reason that this whole landscaping thing falls into one of those "painful ironies" categories. I've got two pretty big fears embedded in my imagination. One is of a vampire-werewolf cross - horrible creature, really. The other is vines that have malicious intent and will grow clear across the meadow, up the side of the house, through the window, and kill me in my sleep. Rent Watcher in the Woods. It could happen.

So today's three hours of yanking vines off trees and out of the ground? It's like shock therapy for the overly imaginative.

Kiss those babies (and keep the vines away from the windows!)

Thursday, March 1

What is this?

We're going to play a little game. (Don't run away! No, come back! I have coffee!)

I'll post a picture of something, and you guess what it is. This is like "animal, mineral or vegetable", except they're all going to be plants. More specifically, they're all going to be plants I cannot identify and have no idea how to go about identifying. So, you get to play AND do something altruistic for a friend. (Please come back.)

Let's start with the tool grabbing tree. The full shot is in the previous post. And here, we have a closer shot of the bark (bonus points if anyone can identify the tree in the background, too - no idea what that is)...

Here's a shot of a branch with buds (and the other tree limb mugging in the background - we've got a wild bunch of party foliage, here!):

And, to show off my inept photography skills, a blurry picture of a bud:

Fun, huh? (And yes, I really do love my youngest son. He was in no danger of being konked on the head by the trimmer. It was thoroughly lodged in there when this picture was taken.)
Kiss those babies!