Monday, April 30

Monday Evening

This is why I've never done drugs: one minute I'm reading the front of the saline bag, and the next minute a nurse is walking me to the door. I have only second-hand input as to what has happened to me, and absolutely no recollection of the event at all. What a wild sensation! Thank you for the prayers. I'm guessing it went well. That's the first time I've been put under since I was eleven months old.

The staff is delightfully cheerful, and this is perhaps the first time my smart-alec sense of humor didn't get me nasty looks. The nurse gave me the run-down on staying relaxed, putting my feet up, drinking something sweet until the effects wear off, "pretend you're at the spa, okay?"... I laughed and told her I may just be back again next month. Well, after the fact, no, I'm not going back again next month. (God willing.) But Zorak has been wonderful, and I do appreciate it. He kept the little ones comfy and happy and brought me a Vicodin every three hours, and I've slept the day away.

John's second game is going right now. I'm irrationally sad to have missed that, but truth be told, I don't think the bleachers are the best place for me to be at the moment.

And that's about all the brain cells I've got to rub together at the moment. Just wanted to touch base and say howdy. I'm going to go dig up some pudding and a soda!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 29

Really Nice Sundays

Andie asked, "Who... is Claudia?" Is she a mystery guest? An "invisible friend"? A fully-developed figment of my imagination? No, although it wouldn't hurt my case any if she'd leave a comment now and then. *ahem* She's real.

If you've read here for a while, you know that we have been fortunate enough to find Wonderful Neighbors in nearly every place we've lived. In Maryland, we had our Wonderful Neighbors and their two Wonderful Daughters. In New Mexico, we had Wonderful Family, and it's a small state. Way, way back in Arizona, we had Wonderful Neighbors Ben & Claudia. Ben went to school with Zorak. Then they moved into the apartment adjacent to ours. We shared a landing, which was handy - just one baby gate at the top of the stairs and all the children had free rein of both apartments and an outside playspace. Well, they live here now, too! They're still Wonderful, but now they live "down the road a piece", so I had to switch to using their normal names rather than the generic moniker of "Our Wonderful Neighbors". They'll probably become a blog staple. I should see if she wants cool nicknames.

So, we've begun a bit of a tradition lately, which I hope they enjoy as much as we do: Sunday Supper. It's not quite the way the Old Timers did it. Or perhaps it is. I'm not sure. It's laid-back, usually a pot luck affair. Today it was a picnic affair, per the requests of the Small Ones. The five boys get to run about and be squirrelly and shake off the trauma of having to be still ALL MORNING LONG. They get to play in the barn, in the creek, in the woods. Claudia and I get to sit in the grass, wondering if we'll have ticks after all this, while the babies free range and graze and trade sippy cups. It's really nice, and hopefully as we gather people, we'll find others who would enjoy coming to our place for Sunday Supper. Door's open, come on over!

We tried the VTC today. Wow. Yes. Tiny. Five people, including the pastor. But the pastor is good. He's wise, but not haughty. He's slightly grizzled, but not in a David Allen Coe sort of way. Good stuff. Everybody made a point of reminding us that they've all done their toddler-time in the pews, and they remember what it's like. One or two parishoners also mentioned that it's great stuff... in retrospect. Everybody was glad to have the children there. The pastor pointed out a room at the back of the sanctuary and said that they'd be happy to start up a children's Sunday School program if we would like. The boys liked it pretty well, although there was no break between Sunday School and the service, and we all could have used a little leg-stretching and a snack. The music is just as bad as it is at the VSC, but they do give it their all. I think my favorite quote from the day came from the pastor, in response to our appreciation for their patience with the children's noise. He said, "I've preached in congregations with upwards of 400 people. I can talk above anything." Gotta love a pastor who can go with the flow! Zorak wasn't feeling 100% this morning, so he stayed home to rest up a bit. I wish he could have gone with us, so we could be more certain, but I think this may be it.

Tomorrow I have to be at the oral surgeon's office at 8:30. (HOW am I supposed to get up, dressed and out the door that early without my COFFEE?!?!?) If you wouldn't mind, please say a prayer for the procedure. I'm feeling like quite the weenie at this point, and a little beat up over this whole mess. Yes, it's minor. Yes, I know, it could be far worse. That doesn't really make me feel any better, though. It only ups the weenie factor. ;-) I'm thankful, though, that Zorak will have the Small Ones. Knowing that they're with him, and all that that entails, makes it easier for me to do so many things with a calmed heart. What would I do without that man?

Kiss those babies!

Tech Stuff, General Stuff

OK, it seems there's a hitch in Blogger's comment feature that will only sometimes allow an anon comment to come through to me for moderation. If you've been leaving comments without using a Blogger ID, and they haven't been appearing, and you know that you haven't been swearing maliciously or threatening me (about the only causes I've had to call upon for comment rejection, really)... and now you're thinking I've gone off on some completely unidentifiable, arbitrary moderation system, I haven't. They just aren't coming through. I'll put in a quick question to the folks at Blogger to see if I can fix it. In the meantime, though, a quick heads up that I'm not ignoring anybody.

And just where have we been since Tuesday? Oh, we've been pretending we're a normal family. It's hard work, and leaves Zorak and I absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. The boys are working their way through some sort of tribal rite of passage thing that involves a great deal of "creative use of time". Then I'm forced to engage in the complementary rite of passage known as "running the maternal gauntlet", most commonly identified by the middle-aged woman standing on the porch, screaming into the woods, "Whoever left that THING in the sink had best get back up here and take care of it RIGHT. NOW!" But in general, I believe the New Initiates are giving a good showing, and this will be a good year for the tribe, if not for the sink.

Zorak's been running wires like a... well, like something catchy that I can't put my finger on right now. But he's been one busy man today. There's light in the basement stairwell. Light beneath the stairs, light in the "post apocalyptic storage corner" (ok, pantry) of the basement. There are functional outlets and runs of shiny conduit at appropriate intervals. It looks and functions SO much better now. I've got to say that electrical codes are far more intuitive than I'd ever given them credit for, in many respects. I love it when things that just make sense - three way switches on stairwells, illumination on every step - turn out to be within code. I know, weird thing to get all warm and fuzzy about. Still, it does make me go all warm and fuzzy to have my home eeking its way out of Full-On Condemnation Mode. Also, in spite of the rain we've had lately, we are tickled to announce that the basement only smells like an average basement right now, and is relatively dry. Exponentially more dry than last year this time. WOOHOO!

We're trying another church this Sunday. VSC isn't going to work - it turned out to be of a completely different type than we'd thought. Der, I know. It's listed wrong in the phone book, and if you don't come up to it from the main street, you never see the little sign. It was just a fluke that the Easter bulletin didn't have the affiliation written on it anywhere. Anyway, it's a delightful congregation, but the differences in beliefs between our home and the denomination are just too extreme for us to bridge the gaps. I talked with Wonderful Pastor about our situation this week. He gave me the names of two more churches to try, and said he'd look into some others that might have something in the area that we may have missed. The one we'll be visiting this week we'll call the Very Tiny Church (VTC). According to the gentleman on the phone, it's just two families. Not sure what happened, there. I guess we'll find out, though.

Other than working on the house, working on the parenting, working on the Never Ending Laundry, we've been celebrating the kick-off to Catch Up On Neglected Health Care Month. I don't think it's a National celebration, but it seems to be a big local thing, and we're knee-deep in it. That, of course, makes for hideous blogging unless you are a) morbidly interested in others' health care, b) suffering similar ailments and looking for proof that you aren't alone in the world, or c) really desperate for something to read. So, for those who know what's up with that, all is going well. And for those who don't, that's why I haven't really touched on it. Blech.

And, that's about it in a nutshell. (It was a big nut.)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, April 26

They Played!

The rain continued to come down for most of the morning. Then the clouds parted, Noah kicked the animals back off the ark, walked out onto the field himself, and determined it was a fine day for a game. So at 5:30, John's team played their first game of baseball.

We got pummeled. There was an inordinate amount of spinning and picking and leaping out there on our team's part. BUT ya know, I wouldn't trade teams for the world. The team we played against has an uber-competitive coach. They've been focused to win during all this practice time. Win. Win Big. Win Now. And the umpire (referee? the guy calling the shots) turned out to be another uber-competitive guy in the same Circle of Trust as the other team's coach, which didn't help any.

The other team scored two runs on us because of a foul ball the ref. didn't call. It was clearly foul. Our kids didn't make a play with it because they all thought it was dead. The other kids kept running (at their coaches' insistance), and the ref let the runs stand. No, that didn't sit well. But honestly, I don't think John's team would have won even with a fair call by the ref. The other team did have it together, and they played their hearts out. They did a good job, and we cheered the little guys for all their hard work.

Sure, I'd love to see our little guys win a game, but as they work toward that goal, I'm quite happy with the other things they're learning on this team. They even got it together enough in the last inning to pull off a couple of impressive plays. They cheered each other on. When all was said and done, they shook hands with the other team like champs, congratulated the team on a good win, and huddled together for the post-game pep talk. Their coach found a lot of positives to share with them, and they left on a positive note.

I think tomorrow we need to make something for the coaches. Today highlighted just how fortunate we are to have the group we do to model, guide, and in general, compliment the things Zorak and I try to teach every day. I can't say how much it means to know the boys are seeing examples outside the family of the values we hold up as Good. Yep. Good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Game Day!

Current conditions as of 4:53 am CDT

Feels Like: 61°
Barometer: 29.88 in and falling
Humidity: 93%
Visibility: 5 mi
Dewpoint: 59°
Wind: SE 12 mph
Sunrise: 6:03 am
Sunset: 7:28 pm
61°High: 72° Low: 52°

Well, folks, it doesn't look like the big game is going to happen today. It's been raining all night. The field is going to be a mess. The kids are going to be so disappointed.

See the humidity? It's the South. It does that. (Even when it's not raining.) Claudia told me last night that if it gets much more humid, she's going to be homebound. I thought she meant she would be heading for the California desert, but it turns out she just meant she was going to hole up in her home with the climate control. Heh. I don't blame her.

It's seven o'clock, and the house is eerily quiet with everybody gone. No snoring. No snuffling. No shifting in the beds. I wish I was still asleep, but it's going to be a busy day!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 25


"Hi, Mrs. Dy, this is somebody from the Sparkly New Big-People's Dentist Office. I'm just calling to remind you about your root canal tomorrow at a really inconvenient time."

What? No. NO! It's next week at a really inconvenient time... isn't it? (I really hate that I can't keep these things straight.)

Turns out, it's both days, at equally inconvenient times. (Seriously, it's a root canal, how accomodating can it be?) Pick one! Weee.

All three boys got in today to see New Mr. Good Dentist. (Mr. Please-Please-Be-Good Dentist. Please.) We'll just call him MGD: the dentist, not the beer. He's wild. The office is... wild. On an intimidation factor, it rates a negative number. And he seems pretty competent. But I don't entirely trust myself on this anymore. Previous Dentist seemed that way, too, at first. Of course, all the work the boys had done by Previous Dentist has to be redone because it either a) fell out, or b) wasn't done properly and caries have developed beneath the filling. Lovely, that. *sigh* You know it's bad when MGD starts out giving you his introductory Philosophy of Non-Invasive-Techniques speech,
"At this age, I mostly watch this or that and see if - HOLY CRAP, we've got to get this done PRONTO!"
He may not have actually said "holy crap", but then again, he may have. It was hard to follow the flow once he got excited.

He also uses euphemisms which caught me a bit off guard. Like when he said, "We need to screw this one."

You what?

"Screw it. You know, p-u-l-l it o-u-t. It just sounds better."

No. It doesn't. Trust me.

Later, while explaining why he does one procedure in two visits, "It tends to cause a little b-l-e-e-d-i-n-g, so..."

Um, they're eight and six. While you *do* spell rather quickly, I'm pretty c-e-r-t-a-i-n they can s-p-e-l-l b-l-o-o-d. But you know, that's a quirk. And it's a thoughtful quirk. And I'm good with that. (Although, for the record, I don't *think* in spelled out words, so if by chance you're reading this Dr. MGD, I'm not a moron, but I honestly didn't see that coming and it took me a while to switch gears. I'd only had one large travel mug of j-a-v-a that morning.)

Tomorrow is Drag Your Spawn to Work Day at Zorak's work. He's taking the three eldest spawn. BabySpawn and I are going to have a busy, productive day, and then we'll all meet up at the secret r-o-n-d-a-y... erm, spot. (You know I'm kidding, right?) The boys were so excited (how excited were they?) excited that it's a good thing I made them go to bed at seven-thirty so they could lie there and twitch for a while before getting sucked into oblivion. excited that even an entire chapter in Eagle dedicated to Marcus' recovery couldn't lull them to sleep.
If they ever give in and get some rest, it should be a fun day.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 23

Someone's in the Kitchen With Dy, Now

Because you really needed a cheesy song stuck in your head. With the wrong lyrics, too, huh?

Well, we made it there and back again. The Suburban is now provably legal. (Is that a made up word? It feels like it.) Anyhow, I can't vouch for the pickup, but that's a whole 'nuther post.

The boys were in an awesome place today. Aside from the paperwork and organizing issues, I was in an awesome place today. It was good, all around. We needed a really good day. James got up early, so we had hot tea and played chess. Then I tried to convince him to go for a walk with me. "But MOOOOOOOOOOM, it's FREEZING out!" It is not. Let's go. "OK, let me get my winter coat out..." So, to prove that a hoodie would work just fine, we checked the weather. 64 degrees. "That's practically snowing!" I was going to clear up that little misconception, but by then Smidge and Emily were awake and in need of some snuggles, so James was spared a trek across the Tundra. :-) Funny kid.

We made a fantastic banana bread. I found the recipe at Fitness and Freebies' wheat-free recipes section. And, of course, I modified it a bit. *grin*. If you'd like to see the original, you can find that here. But here's what we did with it:

WF Banana Bread
1 c. flour blend (I use mostly garbanzo, fava, brown rice and a little white rice - just use whatever)
1/4c. teff flour (I've been slipping this into *everything* lately. It's like I've become the neighborhood grain dealer. *psst*, Kid, wanna buy some protein?)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt (ok, I don't measure a quarter of a teaspoon of anything - that's officially "a sprinkle" in my kitchen)
1 packet gelatin
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
3 egg yolks (Trust me, save the whites. They come in later, and you don't want to be staring at the trash, thinking, "Why didn't somebody tell me to reserve the whites?" I'm telling you now.)
1 tsp. vanilla (OK, I'm a bit liberal with my vanilla - I just splash it in til it looks right. Odds are good there was more than one teaspoon in this loaf.)
3/4 c. mashed banana (I used two bananas and figured they'd have to work, whether they made exactly 3/4 c. or not - turned out pretty close. I don't think this is a horribly touchy ingredient.)
1/4 c. plain yogurt (We never have plain. I always forget that I'll need it for baking. I used vanilla. You could also use sour cream. Or even buttermilk. Really, it's your bread. Have fun with it.)
3 egg whites (Preferably the ones you saved from earlier.)

Preheat your oven to 350'. Grease AND FLOUR your pan. I like rice flour. It's the least expensive of the wf options, and doesn't seem to get absorbed by the rest of the batter. Win-win, in my book.

Sift all your dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. (If you don't want to sift, you can dump and whisk - works equally well.)

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and continue to beat until light. (Seriously, it'll get somewhat fluffy.)

Mix in the banana and yogurt. Blend well. Add dry ingredients. Blend well (yes, again. I know.)

Now, in a small bowl, beat your egg whites until soft peaks form. This is for the texture of the loaf. Once you've got soft peaks, fold the beaten egg white gently into the batter. You don't want to mix it in too much, b/c it's the little air bubbles in the egg white that will pull mock-gluten duty and keep your bread afloat. Just fold it in. You won't end up with a weird quiche-loaf. And if you do, then tell everybody it's quiche-loaf and swear you never said a thing about banana bread. But I've done this a lot and never had to rely on that one.

Turn it all into your pan, smooth the top and pop into the oven.

Clean the kitchen, kick back, read to the kids, and in an hour you're eating delicious fresh banana bread. Tada!

My one and only gripe is that it makes just one loaf, and I've not had a whole lot of success in doubling my recipes. However, I'm going to master this one. The entire loaf is gone, except for the bits that stuck to the pan. (The original recipe says only to grease the pan, but I'd recommend slapping a little rice flour in it, too.)

On the upside, my hand-held mixer finally died today. I usually use it until it starts to emit a burning smell, then switch to the trusty wooden spoon. Today, there was no smell. Just a very loud, obvious clanging... and a slowing... of the beaters... until, finally... they stopped. As the clanging grew disturbingly loud, James looked up from his math and said, "WHAT are you making?" Heh. Yep, that's my boy. So why is that the upside? It means, WOOHOO! (singing) I can buy a mixer now! I can buy a mix-er! We need a heavy-duty one. One with a transmission in it. Yeah, baby!

Lessons, lessons, lessons. Good, good, good. Math, reading, Latin, science. Stories. Snacks. More banana bread. Play time. Errands. 'Nuggles. Laughter. Baby kisses. Toddler hugs. Big kids who still hold my hand while we walk, who still give me hugs for no reason. Even if I'm not holding baked goods. What more could I ask for from the day? Not. A. Thing. Ahhhh. Yes.

Next week looks like it'll be heavy on the doctor visits. Nobody's sick, it's just that everybody needs something at the same time. And when we must do several things at the same time, I realize there are a lot of us. I told Claudia today that I need a personal secretary. She pointed out that I'm kinda-sort Zorak's personal secretary. Oh. Wow, he's getting gypped, then, isn't he? But maybe if I can get him to promote me to "Executive Secretary", then I can start the hunt for an "Assistant Executive Secretary" for ME? Yeah? Think it'll work? Me, neither. But it's fun to pretend.

Kiss those babies!


Well, I guess at least they're leaving the mail box alone for now.

Things have developed a habit of not arriving at our mail box, and it's starting to torque me off a wee bit.

Anniversary or birthday cards - sucked into the abyss. Family calling to see why we didn't mention it. Hmmm, never got here. Sorry.

Our tax refund from two different states from *last year* still haven't arrived. "But it was mailed."

Our tag renewal, just called to find out where that went... "Well, it was mailed."

Add to it the arrival of the fraud form from our bank (credit card stolen last month), and yet, no replacement cards tagging along anywhere within a week's delivery of the form. All processed the same day. "Yep, we mailed it."

Gah. I'm frustrated. And now off to drive all the way into town to pick up our replacement tags because 1) they're WAY WAY past needed, and 2) "If we mail these to you and they don't arrive, you'll have to pay again" - oh, pfft. Yeah, I'd love to cough up that much money *twice* for something I cannot control. *sigh* So, we're into town. This isn't the week I really needed one. more. trip into town.

But it'll be okay. We'll get some mango juice for making squishies after ball practice. Squishies make everything better.


Sunday, April 22

I can't read that!

Tonight, the Small Ones passed out during AFV, so I told the Big Ones that if they could get ready for bed without setting off flares or fire bombs, we could huddle up in Mom and Dad's bed and read their choice of books tonight.

It worked shockingly well, and the Big Ones piled onto my bed with three books to read. I peeked over the pillows to see... Captain Boldheart (Oh, I love that one!), The Star of Christmas (OK, I can handle that one...) and --

(insert theme music from Psycho, here)

ACK! NO! NOnononononono!

The Littlest Angel!

I CAN'T READ THAT! You *know* it makes me cry. (And it does. It makes me cry every. single. time. I have never, in almost nine years, been able to read that book aloud all the way through. It has always made me cry. I always brace myself and tell myself I can do it, and then the next thing I know, there's snot flying and tears gushing and I have to call in Daddy to finish it.)

At this point, John looks over, "Oh, hey, that looks like a neat book." (Were you not listening?)

So they're in my room now, and James is reading it to John while I hole up clear across the house, with the music turned up loud, so I'm not a blubbering mess when it's my turn to read.

Maybe I should've saved this for a Works for Me Wednesday? "When you just can't do it, pawn it off on the oldest child."

Oh, it's my turn to read. And I'm pretty sure Captain Boldheart won't make me cry.

Kiss those babies!

Favorite Mother

I did something the other day that I thought was pretty darned cool. I don't remember what it was, now. Probably got us somewhere on time, or without hitting anything on the way. Anyhow, it was cause for celebration.

As I turned off the engine, I said, "Alright, so who's your favorite Mom?" (Yes, a loaded question. I know.)

In UNISON, my two eldest shout back,


...uh... but she's not your mother.

"She's Dad's mom," says Thing 1.

"Yeah, that counts!" Chimes in Thing 2.

Oh. Well, that's not quite what I was looking for, but I'm sure Granny will be glad to know she's loved.

And she is. :-)

(And in the next round of voting, I did, in fact, come in a solid Second. You know, out of two...)

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, April 21

Book Update

I am still slowly making my way through Last of the Mohicans. It's enjoyable, but I've been a bit lax with my readings. First, I forgot where I put the book (right there on the bookshelf, with all the other books-to-be-read). Then Claudia mentioned something about the ending and, being the obstinate dork she is, wouldn't tell me what she meant. So I, being the obstinate dork I am, went to the back and read the last four chapters of the book, in reverse order, going far enough back in the story until I could figure out what she was talking about.

And for the first time EVER, I wish I hadn't done that.

I wish she'd have just told me what she was going to say. That wouldn't have ruined the story for me (I know, I'm weird like that. If I ask about how something ends, just tell me. If I thought I didn't want to know, I wouldn't ask. Really. And I don't blab endings to others, unless they're weird like me. I get that.) What ruined it for me was realizing I'd read too far back into the book before I clicked that what she'd meant to not tell me was right there in the last chapter... and so, I kind of ruined some of it for myself by reading too much of the end first.

But I still maintain that there's not a thing wrong with reading the last chapter. Sometimes you've just gotta.

Still reading The Innocents Abroad, and still enjoying, although only in snippets. If I try to take it in bites too large, the flavors begin to go bland, it seems.

The boys and I finished Captains Courageous tonight. The boys were taken in by the quality of Troop's character. They really liked Dan and Harve's relationship. The cook freaked them out a bit. They fell in love with Mr. Cheyne, although they didn't get to meet him until the end. Somehow, Kipling pulled his character together in a way that, although you didn't go to sea with him, you did get to know him in the end. That was fun. John really has a soft spot for Penn. James likes Long Jack. Smidge wants to know when we'll be reading Farmer Boy again.

What next? I'm not sure. Not sure at all. Right now, I have so many things I want to read with them that I find myself a bit paralyzed by indecision.

James and I have been reading Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth. I'd begun this with him about two years ago, but he wasn't interested, so we laid it aside. Last year, I put it out on his "check this out" shelf, and he showed some interest, but it didn't quite hold him. This time, as a one-on-one read aloud, he's enjoying it much more.

Now I need to find something to read to John one-on-one, as he wants to have that time, but isn't quite ready to follow Sutcliff's book at the pace James needs (truly, any slower, and the book would be dull as dirt, too). Somehow, when you're six, the group read aloud just doesn't have the same sparkly glow to it that the one-on-one time together does.

Together, we are finishing up Memoria Press' Famous Men of Rome, starting Padriac Colum's The Boy Who Knew What the Birds Said (a Baldwin Project book, if anyone is interested), The Japanese Twins (another Baldwin Project book), and delving back into daily poetry (now that I've found the box with all the poetry books in it!) Oh, and Jess brought us a copy of Bennett's The Book of Virtues, which has long been a favorite on rent, erm, loan from the library.

Reading with the boys is so good for me. I know I'm mortal. I realize it's very possible my eyesight and my brain may give out before I can read all the books in the world that need readin'! I want to take one deep breath and inhale them all, but the boys, they slow me down. They still think they're immortal and that every book was written just for them. They don't want to inhale it. They want to take it apart, the way you would a big chunk of crumbly, moist cornbread, and savor each and every part of it. Truth be told, it's haarrrrrrrd to slow down. But it's good. It's really good. How many delightful meals would we miss if we swallowed them whole? And why is it that children have an easier time remembering that than adults do?

So, we'll go slow. And we won't get it all. But oh, what we do get to - it'll be wonderful!

Kiss those babies!

A Linky of Love

I need a linky for a special post. Mr. Linky's main site won't let me in unless I register first, and let's be honest, I'm pretty maxed out on coming up with another password (and then remembering it).

So, all of the blogs I've seen a Linky on are typepad blogs. Will a Linky work on blogger, too?


Thursday, April 19

I love grey, rainy days

They just make it such fun to look out the window, and snuggle in the dim light, don't they?

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 18

General Life Overview

Well, today was better. And I have evidence. Sadly, Blogger's photo utility won't upload anything but little red X's in boxes on blogs. Maybe the photo tech team is working on a new Dr. Seuss-style code?

We found Captains Courageous earlier this week (under the couch! It had gone MIA a while back - I don't know if Smidge hid it in the hope that we'd pick up Farmer Boy again, or what, but there you have it), so we've been finishing that up. I think this is one I'll read again a time or two. The story has enough complexity and development to keep the reader engaged; the characters, enough depth and, of course, Kipling's wry humor, to keep the reader attached.

We don't have the next Dick and Jane book, and John got tired of waiting for a chance to get to the bookstore, so he picked up More Days and Deeds and asked if he could "challenge" himself with it. (What am I gonna say? No, we're not there yet? *snort*) It's a stretch for a new reader, but he sees it as the challenge it is, and he's up for it. We spend his time reading together, one page each. The only concern I have is that the font is *tiny*, so I'd like to see if I can find him something comparable to spend more of his actual reading time on (or possibly find a large print edition of this book). The brain could use a good stretching, but those big brown eyes just don't need any added stress.

James is sort of in his own world lately. I'm not sure what to make of it. He's still very loving, and he still desires to be helpful and diligent. He simply forgets what he was doing and gets distracted. If you gave the Poky Little Puppy some espresso, you'd have my 8 1/2 y.o. son right now. And he's having a difficult time stopping to think before he acts. Sometimes I just watch him go and think, "Oh, my. That one'll never be able to live on his own." Friends who have been there before (and those who just want me to hang in there, even if they don't believe it) tell me it's a phase and it's perfectly natural. I hope they're right, because if nothing else, it's exhausting.

Smidge wants to learn how to read. This does not mean he'll be reading by the time he turns four, of course. (I mean, he could be, but he's not focused on it. It's what his brothers do, and what we do, and it's fascinating; therefore, he wants to do it, too.) Today he spent a good twenty minutes in the tub, making words with the bath letters and then reading them to Baby Girl. They all spelled "eww", according to him. I really love this stage. (It's familiar. The learning curve has shallowed considerably. I know we'll survive it, and he will not be, at the ripe old age of 15, still insisting that "QBEZ" says "eww". When you know what's going to happen, it's easier to enjoy the bizare and unique that makes up childhood. I should take the knowledge I have in the lessons I've learned and apply them to the faith I need to get over the *new* humps and hurdles. *sigh* Yes, I know.)

EmBaby is changing SO fast, and growing SO much. We're *right here*, every day, and yet we still feel like we blink and somebody switches her out for a larger model with more features and optional programs. She's just amazing. And funny. And sometimes I look at her and feel like my heart is there, walking around outside my body... and it's beautiful. So beautiful. And a little snot-encrusted, which I didn't expect, truthfully. But still, so beautiful.

They all are. And when I think about all four of them, in all their unique, quirky, loving, silly, brilliant creation... All I can do is gasp for breath. Where's the Motherhood Nebulizer? The one for all of us who just freeze up when we think of ALL that this life entails, and it's all we can do to draw a breath. I'd love one of those. And while we're requesting special parental medications, how about a Gear Switching Enzyme? Wouldn't it be great to take a few drops of this stuff and *poof* you can slide from MommyMode to KitchenMode in the time it takes to walk to the fridge? Another drop or two when the kids go down and you can downshift from TidyMode to RomanticEveningMode. Man, Bayer Pharmaceutical would have NO trouble getting enough participants to run thorough trials on a drug like that! ;-)

However, since there's no wonder drug on the market, I suppose I'm going to have to rely on Old Fashioned Will Power and Integrity and get myself to bed.

Kiss those babies, and even on the rougher days (or months), remember the mantra:
They're little. They do that.


Why I Didn't Blog Yesterday...

Because I couldn't laugh until today.
Just the highlights, though...

8:30 AM:
"Hey, Mom! Emily looooooves tea!"
- You gave her tea? In a cup?
"*snort* NO. I gave her the tea bag."

9:45 AM:
Smidge cries.
"Smidge somehow got shoved".
- Somehow? Was this, perhaps, a miraculous shoving? Shall we call the papers and the priest?
"Um, no. It was more like he was in our way while we were rough housing. And he hit our bodies with his head. When we landed on him."
- Uh-huh.

9:47 AM:
Smidge, crying again.
- What happened this time?
"Smidge sort of got hit with a bat."
"A bat? In your ROOM?"
"Yeah. It was weird."

10:15 AM:
Well, no, from 10:15 to about 11:00 wasn't bad.

12:25 PM:
"Why do we have to pick up before we can make candy?"
- Do you want to make candy, or not? I thought so.

1:10 PM:
-Does it MATTER who gets that particular wrapper off the floor? There are, after all, THREE OTHERS waiting to be picked up!

2:00 PM:
-OK, gather all the materials on the list and let's gather around the breakfast bar.

2:01 PM:
"Mom, we're out of cornstarch."
- We can't be! (search, search, search) then,

around 2:25 PM -
- I guess we are. Let's pick another project.
"OK. What do we need?"
- I don't know... since you have the list. ;-)

2:28 PM:
*bringing me the baby* "Hey! Look who's up?"

2:38 PM:
We've now finished the changing of the baby, which also included -
1. having to find the wipes Smidge "put away" for me. Seems simple enough. "OK, where are they?" (NO ME NO!) :-) Aww, he's so cheerful about it...
2. wiping the poop from everything the baby could contaminate while we tried to retrieve the wipes
3. sterilizing everybody's hands
I look up to see that James has already. begun. the project.
Without us.
And it's not going well.
"Mom, I don't know what I did wrong."
- *snort* Well, neither do I, since you didn't wait for me.

It was all I could do to usher everybody out before I began foaming at the mouth.
Regroup, try again.

We tried another project, but what was I thinking? I gave up when I turned to see one of them licking the prepared baking pan. By that point, it was after five, the day had been just one weird fire after another, and none of us had any umpf left in us. I sent them outside.

5:35 PM:
(Coming in with a Very Serious Look) "Mom, see this blood?" (shows me a bloody hand) "It came from my head."
- Of course it did. Today, that would make perfect sense.

We cleaned the wounds, fed the children, repaired the kitchen. Eventually, the sun went down, the bodies slowed, tempers cooled...

I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, but we had stories and snuggles in bed. We told jokes, and gave plenty of hugs. We agreed to start over again in the morning, and it was good.
I kissed my babies.
Brushed the hair back from their faces.
Kissed their sweet, sleepy, warm cheeks once again.
Turned off the lights.
Collapsed in bed, closed my eyes, and pretended I was invisible.

Tuesday, April 17

Technologically Challenged


So I took the unformatted XD card to Wal-Mart, where they ever-so-helpfully directed me to the photo thingy. You know, the one that makes cheap copies of your Olan Mills pictures for you? Yeah, that thing. Upload, burn to disk, you're good to go. (And no, I do not make illegal copies of copyrighted original materials.) What they not-so-helpfully neglected to point out is that the pictures are burned into a marketing nightmare thirty layers deep, from which you will emerge embittered and probably burdened with Kodak products you never knew existed.

Once you arrive home, if you would like to view, retrieve, or in any way claim ownership of the images on the handy-dandy disk, you have to wade through a butt-ton of Kodak "Easy Share" software demons that want your email address ("makes it easy to share photos with friends and family through email!" Um... as opposed to hitting the "attach file" button, "browse", "attach" and *poof* you're done?), automatically sets itself to your default picture viewer (EVEN if you click on "FinePix Viewer", because you've developed Stockholm Syndrome after being held captive by Fuji's stoopid photo software for so long), and then finally locks down completely after doing something horrible to your existing files, and yet never letting you anywhere NEAR the ones you put on disk.

Where is the "I do not want your services. Please release the images into my control NOW" button? Where!?!?

Bee pictures.
Cute, clean baby pictures.
Awesome FOREVER HOME pictures - the school room (all decked out in kids and jelly beans), the baseboard in the bathroom (which makes potty time a happy time around here), and the latest really cool unidentified plants... all stuck!

I hate Kodak. Believe me, they don't want me to share these moments.

I'm going to bed. G'nite.

Sunday, April 15

A Tale of Two Churches

It wasn't the best, or the worst. But it was pretty painful. I'm starting to wonder just how much bribe money it would take to relocate our entire congregation at our Wonderful Church so we don't have to change congregations. Zorak thinks this might be a prime opportunity to just scrap it all and start our own "church".

Last week, we visited what we will call the Very Small Church (VSC):

It's Very Small. Perhaps 30 people there, total, on Easter Sunday.
Quite family-friendly; we walked in and the boys said, "They like kids here! Look! There's a baby in the choir!" And what do you know, there was a toddler hanging out with the choir.
They have the children's lesson incorporated into the service, where the children are called to the front for a short talk. Very sweet. The pew was filled with... a 16-year-old-boy, a 5-year-old-girl, the toddler from the choir, and... our kids. That's a lot of work to put into such a small demographic, but by the same token, it was abundantly clear that we were all welcome there.

The pastor of the VSC was kind. Sweet. Mmmm, what's the word I'm looking for? I don't know. He was a bit nervous, and he told a story about another pastor's first Easter service that he informed us was, "absolutely awful" (at this point, we knew VSC Pastor was not a storyteller, per se), then he tied it in (sort of) to this service... leaving us to surmise that although he's been preaching for at least four years, this was his first Easter service. We think. If not, then all bets are off. The sermon he preached was "different". He did a dramatic first-person narrative. In one tone of voice. Stephen Wright uses more inflection than this guy. Good material, but the delivery was just. not. his. strong. point.

In all, though, a good, solid place. Small, so there's no anonymity. The children aren't likely to get lost in the background noise of a larger group. It's full of love and sweetness. Met a lady who's "new here, too" (she's been here over five years, *sigh*). Judging by the toddler's free reign of the sanctuary during the service, they will have no trouble at all with us keeping our children with us for worship.

Drawbacks? Well, no children's ministries other than the children's talk in the service. Actually, the dearth of children is a bit of a drawback, as well. I'm not sure about the pastor's leadership abilities. He seems very nice, and could very well blow us all away by being a phenomenally strong and intuitive leader. But if so, he doesn't exude those qualities right off the bat.

That led us to try what we'll call the Big Shiny Church (BSC):

It was big.
It was shiny.
Not a hymnal, or a child, in sight.
From 0-3, they want them (the children) in the nursery. From 4-6, they will let them in for the singing, and then they want them in another wing of the building, entirely, for the rest of the service. I'm guessing once the kids hit the ripe old age of 7, they've given up, as we didn't see any in the sanctuary under about 12 years old.
I don't know what they've done with the hymnals.
Great band. Really. I thought the music was a soundtrack until we stood and I could see the drum riser. The music is fresh, polished, and well-done.
The fellowship area looks like the coffee bars in Barnes & Noble. Faux marble, wrought iron, barrista area, inlaid wood tables and gourmet beverages on display. Truly a stunning place. They've thought of everything, down to the soda vending machine by the nursery.
These aren't necessarily drawbacks. The place is huge, and it was packed, so obviously, it's filling a need somewhere. It was just a bit... glossy for our comfort. Like the pages of a magazine.

We suspect the BSC Pastor made a bet with the elders before the service to see how many times he could use the word "sex", or one of its derivatives. "Sexuality," "sexual", "sensually satisfying", "sexually pleasing" (OK, we're starting to understand why they kicked the kids out...) I lost count at 15. I actually began feeling somewhat uncomfortable. We've never heard Sarah (Abraham's wife) raked over the coals with such sexually charged fervor... To hear this man speak, Sarah was the Paris Hilton of the Jewish people.

And, just to keep us on our toes, he made SURE we know that "tired out" is a synonym for "past menopause", "post menopausal", "no longer menstruating".


We thought, based on the children's ministries at the BSC (chorus, catechism, weekday activities), that it would be a good place for our children to find fellowship and for us to find the support the church can give in parenting. Instead, it felt more like Vulgaria. You can, however, collect your children from under the tunnels as you exit the coffee bar.

In retrospect, inflection isn't everything... So next week, we'll try the VSC again, with a fresh perspective.

Or we'll start proceedings to start our own church. There'll be coffee!

Kiss those babies!

Too Tired To Blog

It's almost two o'clock. We've just emerged from the basement. The stairwell is ready for us to move the steps tomorrow. (Currently, you walk down the steps, turn toward the back wall, and descend the last four steps facing the Scary Room. To get to the rest of the basement, you've got to wander back under the stairwell and around. We're guessing this stroke of inspiration happened about the same time he - whoever did the work - realized the third support column in the Scary Room wasn't gonna hit the joists, either.)

Six boxes completely emptied. Two big black trash bags filled, and two large boxes of trash. Two donation boxes filled. We started to get cocky in our decluttering, and wouldn't you know it, the next box we opened was just full of stuff we don't want, but is either collectable, or valuable, or simply in too nice a condition to throw out. *sigh* The entire box... (Anybody want a mechanical cooking pig?)

We did find several boxes of the boys' things. They've been set in the middle of the boys' room, as a surprise for tomorrow. Who says Christmas comes but once a year, right?

More brainstorming on the waterproofing and culvert plans.

We need rain barrels. Definitely need rain barrels.

The dog seems to be back to his excitable, yet not-horribly-intuitive self. I think I liked him better when he stayed in one place. He kept stealing stuffed toys from the boxes and running off to dismantle them. Not helpful. Or cute.

Thus rounds out the less glamorous *snort* side of home repair. Still, good stuff. At least there are no crickets this year!

Kiss those babies!
(Drat. Zorak just informed he that he did see one cricket. So I'll modify that, "At least I haven't had to deal with crickets this year! WOOHOO!")

Friday, April 13

Meet Balto the Wunder Dog

He is the Source of, well, of a lot of things. You may have seen him in such pictures as...

Autumnal shots of the children, playing the part of "Dogzilla, The Rampage"


Playtime in the yard photos, doing his Gladiator role.

His cameo crotch shots would make the leading stars in *ahem* a certain industry blush.

And there's been no stopping him. He. Never. Quits.

Until Sheba came along. If I had any technology skills at all, this is where I'd post a photo montage along with audio of Flock of Seagulls singing in the background,
And I ran, I ran so far away. I just ran, I ran all night and day. I couldn't get away.

And then they left. And he tried to go with them. But none of us evil humans could understand his angst. He circled the van, waiting for one of the Small Ones to give him an opening, any opening, through which to join his Precious.

That was Tuesday afternoon. It is now Friday, and he's looked like this ALL WEEK LONG: He occasionally varies the location of this pose, say, onto my feet, or the boys' laps. He even tried the living room chair once. But for the most part, he is the image of heartache.
They Broke My Dog!
Poor Balto. (He misses you, Sheba!)


Homeschool Field Trip Today

That would be the only reason I'm up, showered and dressed right now. Barely beat the sun in rising.

We're going to see bee hives. Thankfully, it's cold, so I'm hoping the little critters will be s-l-o-w. Kinda like I am right now. That'll make us evenly matched.

The boys keep asking the strangest questions, too:

Can you get stung in the exact same spot twice? (Theoretically, yes. But you won't.)

What happens if you get a wasp sting on top of a bee sting? (I have no intention of finding out.)

Why don't wasps make honey? (?? I don't know!)

Do you think we'll make them angry and they'll swarm us and we'll die? (Lovely thought, but no. I don't.)

It could happen. (Would you stop chaneling my mother and eat?)

Do you think your mother's a ghost now? (Ugh. OK, I set myself up for that one.)

We leave in an hour and a half.

What was I thinking?

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, April 12

About the bed

Andie asked (because otherwise, I'd have *never* brought it up, of course!) how the bed handled company. Well, like I said, we really like these folks and so we took the risers off. (Which doesn't mean if you come to visit and there are risers on the bed, that we're inclined not to want you back. It means we've managed to create non-life threatening risers. Or, probably, at least.)

And so, there were no collapsing incidents. And no injuries. They even left the room tidied and almost the way they found it.


Did ya see that? How about a close up?

So... I'm guessin' they had a pretty good visit.

We Made It Another Year

I know, bad picture. It's a photo of a picture. We weren't digital yet when that was taken. However, hey, sometimes procrastination pays off, because now I can do the wedding meme everybody else did last month.

1. Where/How did you meet?
Oh, if only we had any idea how much of this story we'd have to modify when we told the kids. *sigh* But, you're not the kids, so I can tell you. We met in a little cowboy bar in a border town. Zorak was in town on work, and had taken his cousin out for a drink. I was... well, I pretty much lived there, so I was there with friends and guys from work. He sat there at the table next to us, in his Dockers and dress shoes and button-up shirt, looking so handsome. I kept thinking how absolutely adorable he was, and that he's got to have a lot of hutzpah to come into a place like this in those clothes. He never looked my way, and then he and his cousin left.

He was back in an hour. (I found out later that he'd dropped his cousin off and said he was "going back to ask that blonde to dance". I guess he had looked my way.) Walked right up to me and asked me to dance. I was hesitant, because, really, it didn't seem as if he could dance... in a country bar... in those shoes... but I said yes, and WOW OH WOW, could he dance! I knew I had to get to know him better when I asked him where he'd learned to dance like that and he laughed and said, "I grew up on a sheep ranch." He was interesting from the first moment we spoke (and he's never stopped being interesting to me, not once).

2. How long have you known each other?
11 1/2 years

3. How long after you met did you start dating?
We never discussed it. We simply began spending all our spare time together and one day just realized this is it.

4. How long did you date before you were engaged?
You know, this meme really highlights how poorly organized we are. Again, not really something we spent a lot of time discussing. We knew we'd marry. Everybody else knew we'd marry. It was just a matter of getting it all done.

5. How long was your engagement?
I dunno. (See #4)

6. How long have you been married?
Nine years. But it's supposed to be ten. We had planned for a Cinco de Mayo wedding in 1997, and had almost everything set to do it then. But the morning of the Cinco de Mayo festival, we realized we'd forgotten two important things: invitations, and a wedding license.

So we rescheduled for September 1997. But we were in the Gila hunting that week, so we forgot to get married then, too.

And then, well, we had to get married sometime, right? So we finally did.

7. What is your anniversary?
April 11, 1998

And for those who've followed the weirdness, no, the pastor never did file the license. So, according to the state in which we were married, we are not married. But we have the signed and witnessed certificate, and warm bodies to testify on our behalf. No worries. We're good.

8. How many people came to your wedding reception?
Um, I don't know. 50-75, I think.

9. What kind of cake did you serve?
Oh, my mother-in-law made our cake. It was sooooo pretty. Three-tiered with ivy designs, and... I'll have to find a picture. She makes amazing cakes.

10. Where was your wedding?
The little Nazarene church in town.

11. What did you serve for your meal?
Um... barbacoa? Beans, rice. I don't remember. I do remember that the reception was at a brewery with frou-frou management who thought we all wanted to be Santa Fe Cool, and I had a hard time getting across to them that we did NOT want the black beans, corn and pimento dish. We just wanted pintos. With nothing sparkly in them. Just. Pintos.

12. How many people were in your wedding party? 8.

13. Are you still friends with them all?
Oh, yes. You can't run from family.

14. Did your spouse cry during the ceremony?
I don't think so. It was hard to tell through all the sweat (it was HOT in that church, and no a/c).

15. Most special moment of your wedding day?
Dancing our first dance together as husband and wife.

16. Any funny moments?
Oh... yes. The one that sticks out the most is that the pastor called me Lindsay. Zorak's family thought perhaps Dy was just a middle name or something. My family thought the pastor had been drinkin' and that's why we should've gone with a good Baptist preacher instead. Zorak and I just needed to confirm that he was, in fact, married to ME, no matter what name I was called in the service.

17. Any big disasters?
Nah. We're married, and we didn't set anything on fire at the reception. Life. Is. Good.

18. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We didn't have a honeymoon. We stayed at a hotel there in town and headed back to work on Monday.

19. How long were you gone?

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?
Ay-yi-yi-yi! We'd have pulled it together enough to get married when we meant to!

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on?
In theory, the right. In reality, in whatever wee little space I can squish out for myself among the bodies.

22. What size is your bed?

23. Greatest strength as a couple?
We're in it for the long haul. When that's a given for both parties, you can pretty much make it through, or accomplish, anything.

24. Greatest challenge as a couple?
Well, it's a good thing we're in it for the long haul, because as bad as we are with procrastinating and organization, it's gonna take us a while to get it all hauled.

25. Who literally pays the bills?
He earns the money. I dole it out to the people who follow us around asking for it.

26. What is your song?
I don't know. The super-awesome band we had at our wedding learned to play "Fraulein" for us. But when I hear, "My Own Heart's Delight", by Ian Tyson, I *always* think of us. I'll ask Zorak if he thinks we have a song.

27. What did you dance your first dance to?
Fraulein, which is why the band learned it.

8. Describe your wedding dress:
Ivory, with... eh, you can see it for yourself in the picture-of-a-picture up above. I'm bad at that.

29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?
I have no idea. My sister did the flowers. I tried to help pick some out, but after about the fourth time I picked something that evidently would have been disgusting, she handed me the basket and told me not to help anymore. LOL.

30. Are your wedding bands engraved?

31. How old were you when you got married?
I was 24. Zorak was 29.

Wednesday, April 11

Homeschool Blog Awards

Hey, it's that time of year! I heard from KathyJo, who heard from somebody (or perhaps she tracked it down all on her own, the multi-tasking fool that she is) that the nominations for the Homeschool Blog Awards are up and ready to go!

One kind reader nominated me for Funniest Homeschool Blog, which means several things:

1) I cannot think of a single humorous thing to blog about now that I know this.
2) Have ya seen the list? Amy! Chris!
2a) I'm in good company. Really good company. Thank you.
2b) I haven't a chance at winning. And that's okay, too. (See 2a)

And, evidently, I've been showing my, erm, mortality in public, because I noticed I was also nominated for Best Nitty-Gritty Homeschool Blog. I'm assuming (er, hoping) it wasn't the same person, but if it was... Does that mean y'all are laughing at my challenges?

Anyway, all that to say, the nominations are up, there are literally DAYS worth of good blog reading all compiled into wonderful lists, waiting for you to go, enjoy, and vote. (Because we can't always be busy homeschooling, right? I mean, we do get the occasional inservice day, don't we?) Voting ends Friday, so it's a short run. And, as Jessica, at Trivium Academy (who, by the way, was nominated for Super Homeschooler - I suspect due to her ecstasy-inducing book lists and resource files, although it could also have something to do with her terrifying stamina) said, "encourage them to keep encouraging you".

And I am going to just wallow in the fun of it all. I've got a handy-dandy logo, see?

And great readers who make it fun to blog, make me laugh and think, and encourage me to kiss my babies, too. It's good stuff.


Eight Years Ago

Eight Years Ago, Jess and Geo stayed at our place to watch James for us so we could go out for our anniversary. James was fine. We were a mess. And we went back to the house first thing in the morning for breakfast, then took everybody back to the hotel to swim. Know what I remember most about that whole thing?

Jess said she will never again stay at my house because we had no junk food and it was the healthiest house she'd ever seen.

Jess' quote from this visit?

ACK! There is candy everywhere you turn in this place!

Well, that year Easter hadn't fallen the weekend before. I swear that's my defense, and you can't prove otherwise!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, April 10

A Refreshing Visit

But first, a public service announcement for Hillary. Zebra Cakes, made by Little Debbie and her high fructose corn syrup kitchen crew. The official description (straight from Deb, herself):
"A delicious yellow cake with creme filling covered in white icing and trimmed with fudge stripes.
Twin-wrapped 10 to a carton."
Well, as with most advertising, that's a little misleading. In fact, a better description would be something more like this:
"A semi-stale, crack-filled cake wrapped in a concoction of mostly wax and sugar. Five tiny two-packs per carton. Buy two."
My blatant coffee addiction aside, these little delicacies may have contributed to the current condition of my teeth in no small manner.

However, I've had better than Zebra Cake Therapy over the last 24 hours! Yes, better. I've had children *everywhere* - stacked up, spread all over the place, running in and out and up and down. Geo is hilarious. Jess is just as wonderful as always. Her children make me want to scoop them up and pretend I have no idea what she's talking about when she wants to take them home. No. They're mine. Go find some other kids somewhere. I'm keeping these. And now I know for a fact that they'll all fit in the house! (And most of them fit on the tractor, too!)
We didn't get nearly the pictures I thought we would. The bags weren't even unpacked before the children grouped up and dispersed. Did you know you can lose a lot of children on six acres? We couldn't even find them for breakfast. (Although I swear they were all safely in bed last night. Honest.)

I don't know about her children - we'll have to let her tell their side of the story - but mine had a wonderful time.
James was particularly thrilled to find somebody to play Monopoly with him!
This is the only one I have of the two Mommies.

And here's Smidge and Belle, "drivin' to town".

Jess got more pictures than I did, so hopefully she'll share when they get home. And I have a few more to post, but I need to make use of her mad Photoshop skills to remove some redeye first.

We should all have friends in our lives like they are. Friends who will laugh with you, at you, and for you. Friends who'll shoot you straight and love you anyway. Friends who will encourage you and cheer you on. Friends who will not be afraid to tell you if you have eye boogers. Friends who are willing to extend and accept a pre-emptive apology for anything the children may do. The only thing that would make their friendship better is if they didn't live so stinkin' far away. We love you guys!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 9

What was that?

It's only 10-something here, and I'm ready for some intense Zebra Cake Therapy. James has been on Strong Prophet mode this morning. ("But I didn't ask because I KNEW he wouldn't let me", "I KNEW it would work now, because we've talked had a long talk", and my favorite, "If I did that, then I KNOW it wouldn't work." Yep, just call him Jonah.) With that, the plastic egg/land mines on the floor, and the discovery that Smidge "shared" his egg (more specifically, the egg yolk) with Baby Girl this morning... I'm getting a little twitchy. Life, or at least my life, is a fine balance, and I can feel the scale starting to tip.

We've accomplished quite a bit, but it's not been smooth. It's been more like that weird uncle's scalp - bumpy and scaly, with a few hairy bits here and there. And we haven't even done anything that requires a pencil yet! So already, I'm on High Parenting Alert. Some days are just. like. that. I know. I know.

But when James disappeared after history, and I couldn't find him to come unload the dishwasher, I immediately dug out and donned my "Authoritarian Child Herder" hat and went to find him.

"JAMES! Where are you?"

"I'm in my room."

(Oh.) "Well, what are you doing in there?"

"I'm reading."

(Oh. Um. Huh.) "Uh... what are you reading?"

"Something from my 'To Be Read' Shelf. It's really good."

(Now I'm getting suspicious - both of his earlier antics, and my own sanity) "Ah. Very well, then. Carry on."

"OK. *pause* Did you need me to do something for you?"

"No, you're good. Thanks, honey."

(Crap.) Why doesn't he ask that when I CAN think of something I need done? I mean, he'll help any time we ask, but it'd be nice if I could take him up on his offers once in a while. The minute he offers, it's as if he's performed some Jedi mind trick, and I turn daft and can't think of a thing to suggest. I simply turn around, trip over the next load of wash in the hallway, wander past the living room with its Bedouin-style blanket decor in the living room (I think there are camels in there, so I don't mess with the tents), and start unloading the dishwasher myself. But did any of that dawn on me when he asked? Of course not.

This better not be one of those things he confesses to me when he's 30. "You know, Mom, when I used to offer to help out while I was reading? Yeah, I knew you'd never take me up on it if I had a book open. It was just a safe bet and an easy way to score brownie points."

I'm going to go see if I can catch him between pages and get him to hold a pencil.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 8

A delightful day

We have so much to be thankful for...

A beautiful family with a world of love.

A world to explore.

A world of adventure, and friendship.

A world of awe.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7


Well, the forward-facing carseat is clean and ready to put into the Suburban in the morning. *sniff* The last of my backward-facing carseat days is gone. (Yes, I know, she turned one in January, but her legs are short and we had some wiggle room.) Weird. I still haven't quite let go of the idea that this is what I do. Which is probably even more weird, considering. *shrug* Anyway, life is like that, sometimes.

Now that the guest room is all cleaned up and ready for company, it looks a little barren. I scrounged in the basement for something bench-like, or even table-like that I could put in there to make it less like a hostel for traveling nuns, but to no avail. We were going to raise the bed a bit, so we made risers for it. As we fitted them on, they seemed a bit wobbly. I asked Zorak, "It won't collapse if they, you know...?" He laughed and said if they're comfortable enough to, you know... then we've done our job, and what's a little collapsing furniture going to matter. Good point. (But we didn't test the theory. The bed has been returned to its non-collapsing position.)

Smidge petitioned us last night to move him back into the boys' room. He said he misses James and John, and the dragon prints, and the trains. We talked it over, passed it by the boys, and tonight we put his bed back in there. Truly, that room is better suited to hosting three bodies than the nursery is for two. Still, I'm not sure EmBaby really needs to be 1) the only girl, 2) the baby of the bunch, AND 3) always have had her own room while the boys always had to share. Some small, wee voice in my head keeps whispering, "Just start calling her Princess now and get it over with." We'll see. She seems to be holding up well so far. :-) And she makes great sound effects!

The boys actually all petitioned to have EmBaby moved into their room, too, but that room won't quite hold four little bodies and all their accessories. Plus, 8yo boys enjoy toys that pose quite a threat to 1yo babies. Too many logistics to try to finagle just now.

Well, everything's ready to go for tomorrow. The kids' clothes are layed out. The menu is set. The house is mostly done. I've got to go forage for my shoes, iron Zorak's shirt, and then I'm done. WooHoo!

OK, Zorak's channeling the Weird Idea Fairy. Time to go brainstorm with My Love and see what weird, wonderful adventure we're up for next!

More Grandkids!

A truck pulled into the drive today. We thought for a minute that it might be the brush hog guy, coming to retrieve the tractor we've been fostering for almost a year, but no. Turned out to be another grandson of Old Mr. Cook, and a friend of his. We suspect they'd heard the place had sold to foreigners and they wanted to check it out, as their initial introduction seemed a little off. (But then, all our initial introductions thus far have been less than encouraging, when it comes to this house and its former owners.)

Zorak popped his head in the house and gave me the Ten-Minute Warning. Then he ducked out to show the guys around while I cracked the whip and got everybody to help me do the panic tidy. It wouldn't have been bad, except we've been working this morning. Wiring, sorting, moving, nailing, sewing, trimming, and washing... I didn't figure "backwoods sweatshop" was a very inspiring theme for visitors.

The guys came in, and they were very nice. I'm sure all the changes were a bit of a shock. The first thing the young guy said when he came in wasn't "check out that cool arch" or "wow, it's so open and inviting". Nope, he swore under his breath and said to himself, "I can't believe you took out the bookshelves". Um, yeah, the bookshelves that harbored billions of mold spores. The bookshelves that had rotted away under years of bong water spills and incense smoke. Yeah, they had to go. Sorry. But still, it's hard to reconcile memories with reality. And even though *we* love all the things we've done to the house, we really don't like being the harbingers of death for fond memories.

After a while, though, hanging out at the island, drinking coffee, sharing stories of the place, seeing the work, and hearing about how all the choices had been made, he was happy to know that his family home is being loved. He dug the coat closet conversion, and could appreciate why we took the laundry out of the kitchen. He understood the importance of having the floor vent in the bathroom *not* wedged between the toilet and tub.

We now have two standing offers to buy the place should we ever decide to sell it. Both would put the property back in the hands of the original family, which gives us warm fuzzies. But that's not an option for a long, long time. We understand and appreciate that it was their home, but it's also our home now. Our Forever Home. And it means more to us with each month, each memory, each new discovery. One day it'll be our children who have all those memories attached to the creek, the barn, the Scary Room. And, like the young guy said, we "aren't from here, and aren't family, and no matter how nice (we) are, (we'll) never be from here". That's okay. The children are, and this is their heritage just as much as it is someone else's.

It does make me miss the Southwest a bit more, though. You don't have to be "from" there to be From There. You can be naturalized into the Southwest, by loving it and living it, by absorbing it and sharing with it. You don't stay a foreigner long in the Southwest. And while we do love it here, and this is where we're putting down roots, our roots don't go back three generations on this soil. So, no, we probably won't ever be From Here. But at least we're here.

Kiss those babies!

High of 44?

I don't think I'm the target audience for most gardening books. Me-Tae gave me this wonderful book on gardening in Alabama, and it is just filled with great information. I do love it. But there's a disconnect for me in the author's style that I just cannot get over. It happens when the author makes comments such as,
"Sometimes you find a really great plant and just have to buy it, although you don't know where you will put it. It happens to all of us."
Oddly enough, I've never had that happen. I don't think I've ever walked through a store and said, "AH! Something else to leave laying around because it has no home! I MUST buy this! And even better, it's something I'll have to keep alive in the interim!" Just doesn't happen. Truthfully, I hope it never happens. Zorak may call a time out for mental health reasons if it does.

There is also one phrase I keep running across which, I suspect, is designed to weed out the transplants from the natives. In discussing when all danger of frost is past, she says, "The weekend of the Auburn - Alabama game is a sure bet."

Do you have ANY idea when the Auburn - Alabama game IS? I don't. Or, I didn't. So I googled it. That took a while. Best I can figure, it's over already. And yet, last night's low was 25, and tonight's temps are going even lower. I know, I know, it's just a rule of thumb. But my thumb isn't green, my home isn't decrated in orange or crimson, and to be honest, I don't even know which is which. So, obviously, I need something a bit less intuitive. Right now, I just know it's cold, and the little greenhouse we planted during The Week of the Hormones isn't faring well *at all*, and what was I thinking??? We'll give the County Extension Office a call on Monday. Hopefully, they use a slightly different means of averaging. We've got amateur beds waiting for amateur gardeners! And I know what we'll do with all those plants, too!

In other news, we'll be trying a different church this Sunday. I don't want to leave our church, but it's getting more and more difficult to attend as a family. If we go on Sundays and Wednesdays, it takes about $200 in gas each month, and it's just not working for Zorak to come with us as often as we'd all prefer. I am thankful that he will come at all, and it doesn't help to make it more difficult for him to agree to go. The killer point was when I mentioned "sunrise service" to Zorak. He instantly calculated drive-time, child-wrangling time, and food, and realized we'd have to leave here around three AM to make it. In that split second, I could see the "Not just no, but..." phrase forming in his head. So I called Claudia (they're back - did I post that? They are! Yay!) to see if she and her herd wanted to come with me and my herd to the PCA church in Hartselle. It's only 11 miles from the house, instead of 50. I hope it's where we need to be, but boy, oh boy, do I hate uprooting everyone *again*.

Zorak is putting baseboard down in the bathroom this morning!! We were going to go outside to burn more leaves and spray the poison ivy, but, as I've mentioned, IT'S COLD. So we'll be working inside. I'm off to tidy and see if I can kick a path in the guest room for our guests. (Joking! It's more of a nudge than an all-out kick.)

Kiss those babies, and stay warm!

Friday, April 6

I don't think that's what it means.

When the Bible says we should encourage one another, I don't think that means encouraging them to do certain things...

like dropping stuff in your milk,

or putting tabasco on your cereal,

or eating something you found and cannot identify.

Funny, but you'd think that would be a somewhat instinctive understanding.

Evidently not.

Ah, well, this is why they don't live on their own, right? ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, April 5

Sweet Success

Today, John finished reading Fun With Dick and Jane. Smidge was so proud of him that we all got hugs. Then we got ice cream. (I love Cerrone Cones - wheat free ice cream cones! As you can tell from John's face, he's not accustomed to eating from an ice cream cone. Obviously, he views this as some type of edible makeup applicator.)

The ice cream wasn't a reward for finishing a book; the excitement of finishing a book, of knowing a story, of meeting the characters, is reward enough for that. The ice cream was a big pat on the back for the hard work John has put into his reading skills so far this term. By the last chapter of Dick and Jane, he'd added character voices, made up jokes and puns on the reading as he went along, and generally had a delightful time of it. Since the second chapter of the book, he's been reading it to Smidge, and that's become their special time each day.

What cracks me up is that he thought that was his reading "lesson" each day, yet all the while he's been reading aloud to me, Among the Forest People, by Clara Dillingham Pierson. Yeah, check it out. Not quite Dick, or Jane. He has worked his furry little forest tail off on these. He works hard to put the story out there, to absorb it into his mind, and to put into practice all he's learning along the way. He enjoys them, but he knows they're Work. And while he doesn't read these with the silly, completely fluent inflection he's able to apply to the basic readers, he is gaining invaluable skills along the way. He's improving his decoding and comprehension skills in a way that allows him to read the brain candy for fun, and to know it's fun. To read the more challenging material, and know that it, too, is good.

It's like that with everything we try. The things worth achieving and perfecting, are worth the effort it takes to attain them. Sometimes it's pure fun.

Sometimes you have to stretch yourself to reach your goal.

This Spring has been John's season to soar, to stretch his wings and see what he can do on his own. He's doing so beautifully (if a bit stickily), and I couldn't be more proud of him. This is why we do what we do.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 4

Funny, What's Important

I'd intended today, after...
working in the garden, doing my math and Latin, setting up the school room (yes, finally - but no pictures yet, it looks hideously cramped at the moment), running numbers and investment options for the finances, wading through miles of laundry, listening to stories, reading stories, taking a walk around the property to see it through Little Eyes, attending baseball practice, preparing supper, reading more stories, tending to the character training (for me and them, right?), writing letters, and finalizing lesson plans for the rest of the week,
to blog about the various knocks and dings being dished out this week to stay-at-home moms and homeschoolers.

But you know,

I was too busy

enjoying my life

to really be bothered.

I suppose that's enough, in itself.

Kiss those babies!

*Garden note: I actually know what those are all pictures of!! WOOHOO!
The first is an iris. I'm so excited to have an iris!
The second is a tulip. It's pretty beat up from the storm, but it is one of THREE now. Each one a different color, and each one on a different side of the tree. :-D
The third... oh, this is my favorite. See the heart? That's the leaf of the redbud. They grow wild out here! The flowers are a gorgeous purple, growing all down the branches, and then the tree erupts in hearts! Isn't that beautiful?
And that final one is the elusive North American Smidge. While not difficult to find, Smidges are often quite difficult to photograph. They move quickly and make very little noise, so you have to shoot fast.

Tuesday, April 3

Great Paper Folding Site

OK, one more post and then I'm going. I've been trying to jump start my creative battery, but it looks like it isn't going to happen this morning.

Somebody posted this link on one of the boards, and it's really quite neat. Paper folding projects of the Wonders of the Ancient World! You can have your own Colossus of Rhodes. And I know you've been wondering just what centerpiece to put on the dining table. Now you have it.

This blurb from the main page tells a little about the project's inception:

The Small Wonders Project was originally planned to provide free paper models for rehabilitation therapy purposes to hospitals and rehabilitation centers. This idea came up after Delta 7 Studios chief designer saw how building models helped his Father in Law recover important motor, reasoning and reading skills in the wake of a major stroke. Since the inception of the project many others including educators have asked that we make these models available to everyone.

Neat stuff, no?

Kiss those babies!

New Card, No Photos

Zorak grabbed a new XD card for the camera so we could take pictures of the kids playing ball over the weekend. He got a big card, too (so now I can go years between uploads!) and we took a bazillion pictures. Some movies. Lots of fun shots, too.

We put the card in the uploader, presumably to upload. Nothing. We got crickets. With a lot of wiggling and finagling, we did get a message that we don't have a high-speed USB port, and it'll be slow. OK, how slow? (I honestly doubt we could tell the difference. We aren't big 'puter fiends.) Well, two days seems a bit on the ridiculous side, but still nothing happened.

Then we found it.

"Would you like to format this card?"

Honestly? No. No, we wouldn't. We'd like to get to the pictures that are currently ON it! ACK.

And so, no pictures. I know we'll most likely have to format the darned thing and will lose the pictures. And that makes me cry. We didn't know. We put the card in the camera, and the camera recognized it. The camera and the card worked together beautifully. Was it all a hoax?


Kiss those babies!

Garden Update

Hey, hey, what do ya know, the guys were busy while I was gone yesterday! They got the border to the melon patch levelled. Zorak laid the first row for a retaining wall down there. He and the boys moved about a ton of sand and a few wheelbarrows of manure into the boxes in the upper meadow, and down to the barn. They played a lot of catch, and ate a lot of otter pops. In all, it was a very productive day for them.

Those kids slept HARD last night.

It's good to be productive. ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Dentist Update

Well, it went okay. They are pretty upfront, which is nice. There's still a lot of work to be done, which I knew, and yet the other dentist had said, "You're all caught up!" Huh.

This dentist seems to think that root scaling would be a better route to go than the flaying-grafting process the other one wanted to do. I don't know if the damage isn't as bad as the first guy thought, or if the things I've been doing to help repair some of the tissue damage have actually had an impact. He also recommends extracting three teeth. I started to freak when he said that, BUT, they're the same three teeth that two different orthodontists have told me would need to come out in order to do braces.

So, now we've got to get going on it. I am glad to be healthy, but please pardon me if I don't leap about and do the happy dance. I'll dance when it's done.


Monday, April 2

Almost Productive

"Now that fear of yours makes more sense."
-Zorak, to me, as I lay sprawled out on the ground today in the melon patch.

I'm just not cut out for things that require coordination. Simple tasks, such as baking, installing brake pads, or chasing herds of small children, I can do. The more complex tasks, like, say, pulling weeds while keeping my balance, will do. me. in. I had a good one, too. I pulled and yanked and hauled. I braced my feet and bent my legs. Perhaps that was my undoing, because no sooner had I thought "It's coming up! It's coming up!" than I began to lean and twist and slide... in slow-motion, too. Up, up, aaaannnnnd, OVER. Face first into the freshly turned dirt in the middle of the patch.

And my brain, ever ready to defend me and prove that I am fit to survive, warned me that I was about to impale myself on a sapling stump on the way down. Wasn't that nice? Of course, did it also send the message to LET GO of the rooted devil plant that was taking me down? No. No, it did not. Evidently, my ever ready brain is only wired for one signal at a time. Thank God we don't have tigers here.

And when I landed on my side, with a most satisfying thud, I looked up, laughing, at Zorak, who looked either bewildered or concerned. And that was when he, oh so eloquently, referenced my big hairy fear of malevolent vines creeping in to kill us while we sleep. I would like to get offended and huffy over it, but it was funny, that was a stoopid thing to do (on my part, not his), and really, I'm just glad he understands me a little better now. I'm also glad we're a family that can laugh at ourselves (and, obviously, each other). That we can have fun doing what we do.

And we worked today. We worked hard. We dug half a dozen tree stumps out of the melon patch, and easily ten old railroad ties. Some of the trees had grown up through the wood. That was wild. The melon patch (13'8" x 22') is now ready for a border and compost.

If I've learned nothing else in this adventure, it's that landscaping should be kept simple. Sure, those trellised wisteria vines looked great behind three tiers of monkey grass and blackberry bushes. And yes, the whatzits definitely set off the dogwoods -- back when they weren't 30 feet tall. If the next people who own your home don't happen to have the Better Homes and Gardens Gene, well, a decade can make for some pretty nasty wrangling for the ones who follow after that. So we're learning to keep it simple and easy to maintain.

Well, that, and "let go" when you're going down.

Never stop learning!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 1

Holiday fun

I wanted so very much to write a fun April Fool's Day post. A few things stopped me, though. First, I truly detest April Fool's Day. Not a big trickster at all. And second, lacking inspiration, I couldn't think of anything good. I'd thought about saying we were going to send the boys to Orme Academy, a boarding school in Arizona, but was afraid that might start rumors in the family that it would take the rest of the year to quell. Then I thought perhaps I'd come clean that Zorak is moving to Mexico to join the Partido del Trabajo, but I couldn't bring myself to even joke about that. *shudder*

And when I'm not inspired, all I can think to do is plagarize. Every time I began to write, I'd think of last year, and start giggling.

Then I thought I'd post a bit about the history of April Fool's Day. Plenty of mystery and conjecture. Looks like the change of the calendar was as popular when it first came out as Daylight Savings Time is today. But still, nothing concrete. The best I could come up with was a little anecdote about the origin of the "Kick Me" sign on a person's back. (Authorities seem to blame that one on Scotland. They're a tough crowd, those Scots.)

Now the children are up, the ground is soft, and Spring is coming! So, however you celebrate April Fools' Day, have a very happy day. And if you do have big news to share, please wait until tomorrow, for you may not be believed today. ;-)

Kiss those babies!