Wednesday, May 30

Oh, I'm not a technical person.

I thought I might fiddle with the camera card while I had the house to myself. Well, there's been a whole lotta fiddlin' but no music. I've just spent the last hour on Fuji's website trying to find out if there are others or if I'm the only moron to do this to not one, but now two cards.

The old card that was dying, but I reformatted and renamed Lazarus... is now "not initialized". I've no idea how to "initialize it", but I'm terrified to try to fix it, because that horrid Kodak Queasy-Share software lost the batch of pictures it sniped from that card when we got back. The rock pictures? Gone. The baby eating yellow flower shot? Gone. (You didn't see that one, but it was cute. I was going to blog it this afternoon, which is how I discovered it's GONE.) My hope is that they're still on that card somewhere, because they are NOWHERE TO BE FOUND on the computer.

And the big card that will not be formatted, no matter how nicely I ask? No clue what's up with that. So, I've written to FujiFilm. I'm hoping they will help me. Here's my email:

I own a Fine Pix S 5100 digital camera. Have had it for years. Love it. I received recently a new FujiFilm XD-Picture Card (DCP-1GB), which I immediately inserted into my camera and began taking pictures on it. Camera identified card. Card, camera. No errors. Life was good. Until I tried to upload the photos to my PC (Dell something or other, Windows XP Home - please don't tell me that's the problem). My computer (never one to make small talk) said, "Card not formatted." Huh. I never formatted previous FujiFilm cards. Never had this problem. Had to take the card to a photo shop to save to a disk without formatting it (which worked, but not quite what we're shooting for, here). Took the card back home to the computer. "OK, format it," I said. "Cannot format," said the computer. I can take pictures on the card, and they'll show up on the TV, on the camera, and on a disk, but I cannot get them off without taking them to Wal-Mart, whereupon I get stuck w/ Kodak Easy Share Software. I don't want Kodak, I like my Fine Pix Viewer. I just want my pictures. But I can't figure out how to get them off this card. I'd be willing to suck it up and take the Kodak for this one batch, but how can I fix the card so that I can use it in the future? Can I format it on my camera? (If so, how?) Am I doomed to use Kodak anyway? Any way you could help me? I make a mean chocolate cake, and I'm nice to tech support people. Please help.

They'll either take pity on me and throw me a technical bone, or they'll laugh morbidly and toss it into the circular file. I can hope, though, can't I?

Kiss those babies!

Random Dental News

Is it a bad sign that I actually look forward to dentist visits now because it means I'll have a guaranteed half hour between prying/propping sessions to get a little extra reading done?

The visit went well. You know, for a trip to the dentist. They did have a heck of a time fitting the crown, but not because of my opossum gums*. It was because they've got a new girl. She must be new. Please let her be new. (I don't know her title, sorry. Honestly, I can't tell you what half the people in a dentist's office do - I think they're extras, except that one at the end of the hall who never moves. She may be a prop.) She kept pulling on the wrong tooth. I tried pointing it out (the big wobbly one in the back, not the solid firm one near the front), but that didn't do any good, and when I became afraid she'd actually get the wrong tooth out, I just pulled the temp off for her. Anyway, she scraped the adhesive cement off the tooth, but left a big chunk of on, so the crown didn't fit. It was like someone had slipped Teddy Roosevelt's tooth into my mouth. It took them a long time (and filing most of the crown) before they called in Dr. New Dentist. He spotted the problem immediately, inspected the crown, gave the New Girl the hairy eyeball, and plopped it in place. Then they turned New Girl loose on me with the scraper to get the cement off my gums. Next time I think I'll just opt for skin irritation and abrasion at home to get it off.

Filled a tooth. This is the first time since we've been here that all the scheduled events actually took place. The old dentist was notorious for scheduling A and B, but then only getting around to B. By the time a few small problems got addressed, multiple schedulings later, they were no longer small problems. It felt good to walk out of there with everything done that ought to have been done. Yay. I like this place, New Girl and all.

Next visit: the root scaling. Yeah, the fun never stops.

Kiss those babies!

*opossum gums - they play dead


Before we left, we broke out a watermelon and enjoyed the absolutely exquisite phenomenon known as Spring Evening in the South. She enjoyed it tremendously, and just acted as if she'd never had this delightful ambrosia before. Then it hit us... she'd never had this delightful ambrosia before. Her first watermelon!

She's also a ham. If she even sees the camera come up to your face, she'll stop what she's doing to shout, "cheese!"

Of course, it doesn't have to be your first watermelon in order to really be able to dive in...

One of the things I love about watching the children is just how whole-heartedly they immerse themselves in what they're enjoying. It's a good reminder for me, anyway. Nothing tastes as sweet, is as much fun, or means as much as what you're sinking your teeth into right this very minute. We just need to make sure we fill those minutes with the good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 29


"Mommy, me love Aunt Salwey. Me want hers to be at ours house. Yous call her?"

Yeah, that's not a Pittsburgh accent. We're still working on the speech thing. And pronoun mutilation aside, why throw a "w" in where it's more difficult to pronounce? I can't even say "Sally" with a "w". But Smidge seems to think it's just gotta be in there. And he loves his Aunt Salwey. So who am I to argue with a stray consonant? It's good to be loved.

We got back to the grind today. I'd have thought it was simply "the routine", but according to James, when Zorak asked if they did school today, it was much, much worse. "Oh, yeah! We did school. We did a whole lot of school." Huh. I didn't think it was *that* bad, but I, evidently, am not an expert.

We also made KathyJo's "muffins". (You know, in an attempt to lessen the severity of the torture of today's lessons.) I can't even say with a straight face that they're muffins. Iced muffins? No. I don't care what she tells you, those 'er c-u-p-c-a-k-e-s, if they're anything this side of haggis. Trust me. Make them. Wallow in them. Roll around in them and get them in your hair. They're to. die. for. I'm going to try to make a "pan muffin" (*snort* ok, a cake) out of them later this week. Ironically, with the bean flours (because no, I haven't been out to buy more grains yet lately, so they aren't quinoa, but who's keeping track?) they've still got more protein and fiber than colon-binding-whole-wheat, full-fiber-assault-bran muffins. So really, what's a few sprinkles and icing among family, right?

And just to show you how incredibly dull (well, dull aside from the muffin ecstasty of mid-morning - after that, it pretty much went downhill) our day was, the big super-exciting highlight of the whole. entire. day. is that Zorak brought home a sample of a store-bought, gluten-free, profesionally decorated cake tonight. We found the place a while ago, and thought that if the cakes were good, we'd get one of those for the team party. He stopped in today and she gave him a sample to bring home. Huge excitement, there, yes, over a slice of cake smaller than a stumpy cupcake. But we all tried a bite and John got to lick the plate. Survey says: Mom's is better. Ok, ok, I shouldn't be quite so tickled with that. I really shouldn't. I know. But still... *hee hee* They like my stuff! The thousands of dollars we've put into gummy, lumpy failed experiments paid off tonight, when they led the clan to say that my cakes were better than a pro's. *contented sigh* I tried a bite, and it was pretty good. The icing was scrumptious, and everything she makes is made from scratch. She (she, being "the cake lady") just hasn't quite mastered "cake" texture yet, so it was like a two-layer brownie with mocha icing. Seriously, who's going to complain about that? Yeah. It was good. (But they like my cakes better.)

Oh, oh, oh. I almost forgot. I was supposed to call my new dentist today because 1) I couldn't remember when my appt. is for setting the new crown, and 2) I popped the temporary crown off on the flight TO New Mexico and figured I ought to at least let them know about that. Well, they beat me to it when the gal at the front desk called this morning to remind me about my appointment tomorrow afternoon (egads, better find someone to watch the kids, quick!) to set the crown. So I filled her in, let her know that I'd popped the temp., and asked if that was going to be a problem. She's so sweet, but the conversation gave me many random chuckles throughout the day.

Nice Office Girl: Do you still have it?

Me: Do you need it?

Nice Office Girl: Is it in now?

Me: Huh? No. It's somewhere... in the diaper bag.

Nice Office Girl: Did you try to put it back on?

Me: *choking on my coffee* What?

Nice Office Girl: Did you try to put it back on with anything?

Me: Um... no?

Nice Office Girl: You know, like with toothpaste or something to hold it on?

Me: (*internally* Uh, your professional-grade two-ton epoxy didn't work, what would make me think a little Tom's would do the trick?) *aloud, I said* Um... what?

Nice Office Girl: *long, awkward pause* So... you didn't put it back on?

Me: *chuckle* No. I didn't put it back on.

Nice Office Girl: Well, you could try that.

Me: *long, awkward pause* Aren't I coming in tomorrow for the permanent crown?

Nice Office Girl: Yes, that's why I called.

*pause for the connection to be made*

*connection is never made*

Me: Ok, well, we'll, uh, thanks for the reminder call. I'll see ya tomorrow, then. Have a good one.

Nice Office Girl: You, too, Mrs. Dy. See you tomorrow.

Did I miss something, there? I mean, I don't know what the ramifications are of not having a temporary crown ON the tooth. But it's smooth, sealed, and doesn't hurt. And really, toothpaste? For a ten-day trip? Biting down on one of those things the first time it pops off is bad enough. Can you imagine setting yourself up for it every. time. you ate? And I'm still not entirely clear why she thought I ought to put it on today, but she didn't think it was a good idea to fill me in, so hopefully it's not that important. I'm going to feel pretty goofy if I get in tomorrow and they tell me the bone structure in my entire lower jaw will have to be rebuilt because I didn't have the temporary crown all this time. Oops.

Anyway, dishwasher's running, house is quiet. I'm going to finish this pot off, blogrun a bit, and head to bed. Hopefully we'll find our groove again soon and I can spend more time on the creative and technological side of blogging for a while. (As opposed to the Spartan, only-blogging-to-be-blogging side of it, right?)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 28

A lot like this

Right now, the amount of work that lies before us after our absence feels a lot like this. But, she made it to the top, and so will we.

And the view looking back at all the work you've done...


Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 27

Home Sweet Home!

Hi guys! It's one o'clock, and we are home. The bug bombs have been picked up, sheets switched out, coffee made (duh), and the kids are all sound asleep in their own beds. EmBaby was the only one still awake when we pulled in. It was fun to see her reaction. We stood on the porch (oh, the porch is lovely, by the way!) as she gazed into the house, then she pointed, "In!" She ran about, touching everything, talking to herself (reacquainting herself with the lay of the land? I don't know what she was talking about) while we got things up and running.

You know, the house looks nicer than I remembered. That's sort of a good feeling to walk in and say, "Hey, this is nice! We'd buy this place if it was on the market." ;-)

I don't think we left anything. That'd be a first. (Ack, no. Zorak just reminded me that we left a box of wipes at a cousin's house. Oh, and a shoe. But we actually *lost* the shoe, didn't forget it. So that doesn't count.)

Smidge learned first-hand how bad a goat head hurts in your foot (the burr, Jess, he didn't actually step on the goats in Corona). Poor little guy. (Picture from the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science The Ohio State University - they seem to be the only ones who willingly photographed anything other than the deceptively lovely yellow flowers on those things.)

Zorak scored on the goodies haul. He got a new shotgun (well, inherited-new, not new-new), and two big bags of calf fries. When the TSA folks asked what was in the cooler, he said, "beef". I'm really kinda glad I didn't hear that one, or I'd have started giggling enough to make us all look suspicious. I mean, yeah, it's beef... technically. I'm going to have to brace myself for this one. It's been six years since the "roasted heart" incident, and I've only just recovered. So, if anyone is up for a big calf fry supper, come on down! Third hillbilly shack on the right as you head out of town.

OK, ok, time for bed. Will see if Kodak will release my images to me tomorrow. It's good to be home!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, May 25


Well, I had grand plans to blog the trip. But that would take internet access, something which I haven't had since we left. Oops.

We are in The Land of Enchantment, busily procuring all manner of chile-induced intestinal distress, performing pigmentation experiments on all the children (it doesn't look like EmBaby has any pigmentation at all and Smidge is just about coffee-bean brown), and riding the adventure of trying to see every. cousin. we. have. in just a few short days. It's wonderful!! And we shall soon see if that "unlimited mileage" feature on the rental car is true.

A brief synopsis is probably in order.

Thursday: flew to New Mexico. Did not get flagged for any "special" searches, yay. Didn't get flack from the TSA about flying with a firearm. Yay. Eldest child did not make C-4/string cheese jokes going through security. (Triple yay.) Missed connecting flight (boo - hiss), but if you've got to be stuck for three hours in an airport with four children and a cranky husband, DFW is the one to do it in (yay!)

Friday: arrived in New Mexico WAY too late at night/early morning. Within minutes of arriving, Emily fell off bed (thus producing the first bruise of the trip. She has since obtained one bruise per stop the entire trip. We may get stopped by security on the way home if she keeps this up). Ate green chile products. Slept late. Loaded up, and headed to the City of Rocks.

Fri-Sun: camped out. (I use the term loosely - it was more like having a portable four-star suite at our disposal than actual camping.) Did not see much of the children as they and their cousins hit the ground running and returned to camp only for food, water, and maps. No internet. No cell phone service. Great company, grilled foods and good wine. Fantastic time had by all.

Sunday PM: returned to civilization, spent the entire time sitting and visiting. Kids kept busy. Good stuff. Got to spend time with Gram, and meet Aunt B's Wonderful Neighbors.

Monday: Trekked to Lincoln County to see Great-Granny (Zorak's Granny). More cousins. More running amok for the children. Emily became possessed by what we thought initially was a demon, but turned out to be only a one-two attack of teething and allergies. Cancelled exorcist.

Tuesday: Drove to the farthest, most remote corner of New Mexico to see Willy & Shell's house (that sounds like the name of a band from the 70's - one of the pitfalls of coming up w/ nicknames in the middle of the night). Lovely house. Wonderful time. Again with the cousins and the running. Dinosaur tracks. Basset hounds. Brisket.

Wednesday: Stayed at Willy & Shell's until bedtime. (This was my brilliant idea.) Drove way-way-way... yeah, well, we're back down south-ish now, at Granny's. (You may remember her from the Favorite Mom poll of '07.) The children are wallowing in the joy that is SuperGranny. We're having a wonderful time, but I really miss my front porch. And my bed. And the dog. Not throwing away the number for that exorcist, either.

We'll head out for Cruces tomorrow afternoon. The boys want to go w/ Granny on her bus route in the morning. (That's one way to address the "but they'll never be able to ride the school bus" argument. There are definite perks to having a Granny who owns her own bus.) And horseback riding. I think. We fly home on Saturday. The housesitters said the house is fine and doesn't really miss us at all. Nor does the dog, which is probably just what you want when you're on the road. It's nice to know things are well cared-for.

So, that's it, in a nutshell. We'll soon be home, rehydrating and wishing we'd finished that second bathroom by now. See ya soon!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 16

Hi all...

Just slipping in nonchalantly to, um, procrastinate a bit. I think I'm done messing up Emily's kitchen, now. And the laundry is done (at least at my house, I don't know about hers). The bathroom's clean. The guest room's clean. BabyGirl's room is clean. Life is lookin' better all the time!

The boys are outside. They helped until lunch, and they were so diligent and didn't whine (even when I wanted to) that I just had to turn them loose to run and play for the rest of the day. It sounds like they're having fun out there, too, but I'm... I'm... I think I'm ready to get up and do a little more.

Am I the only one who likes to come home to a clean house? To the point of making everybody else nuts in the last few days before a trip? It's worth the insanity to drag a travel-weary body into a clean and inviting home at the end of a long day. Preferably, a home that says, "Hey! I've missed you guys! Come on in. The beds are ready. The dishes are clean, and if you'll give the coffee pot a minute, he'll have a little somethin' for you."

Yeah, I'm glad we bought a house that can talk.

But now it's whispering that it's bigger than I think and I'd best get off my duff and finish or I... *gulp* won't finish. (Well, that sounded far more sinister than it did in my head. The voice isn't threatening me, just warning me that I may have to leave something unmopped or unwashed.)

Ah, yeah, I'll be going now.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 15

I love that man.

Tonight, amidst all the "fun" of roasting marshmallows and moths outside, I hopped back into the house for more coffee. It wasn't until I was all the way in the kitchen again that I heard a creepy scritching sound following me. It sped up when I did, stopped when I did.

I could still hear the children laughing in the yard, which meant either Zorak was behind me, or they hadn't seen the mass murderer enter the house. But *something* was wrong. I could even feel it in my back and right leg.


I think my body is starting to slip into paralysis! I can hardly lift my leg now!


Wait. Just. One. Second.


Sure enough, I somehow managed to step on a melted marshmallow. And then on about two inches of leaf debris on my way to the porch. That would account for the scritching, the discomfort in my right leg (which was hefted up a good two inches), and the trouble lifting said leg. But what could possibly account for the fact that I didn't think to look under my foot to begin with?

*sigh* I don't know.

I scraped most of it off, then the small ones came at me with their flaming trophies and I had to hot-foot it back outside before they set fire to the floor or the curtains. And then there was bedtime, and laundry. And that death nap thing with the Elmo chair. The shoe lay, forgotten and sticky, in the kitchen.

Just now, Zorak asked if I wanted to go see the progress on the railings. Yeah, but I've got to mess with my shoe first. I stepped on something...

"I know," he said, smiling and pouring coffee. "I already cleaned it."

Oh. *sniff* I love you! I have to go blog this. *sniff*

But now I have to go because he took the coffee and left for the porch without me. He was muttering something about "addictions" and "obsessive behavior". Huh. Wonder what that meant? We'll blog about it later, right?


Top Ten Ways I Procrastinate

You know, I really shouldn't get on the boys about procrastinating. Ever. I have absolutely no right. Oh, sure, I get all noble and righteous about how I don't want them to make the same mistakes I've made. But the truth of the matter is that they are going to have to take care of me in my old age, and I have no desire to suffer hallucinations, thinking I've been left in a cave because they keep putting off giving me my medications or taking me out for an airing.

I should be cleaning.
I should be packing.
I should be digging up forms of identification.

But is that what I did tonight?
Of course not.

I played with the squash (fresh ginger and garlic - almost a big hit).

I okay'd the roasting of the marshmallows in the front yard. (Yep, that desperate not to have to do anything productive.)

And then, just to prove a point and win my medal, I fell asleep arched backwards across a foam Elmo chair in the boys' room. Perhaps that'll get me a silver. If I'd been truly dedicated to not being up and mobile, I'd have gone that extra mile and drowned in my own spit or something, considering the angle of my head and such.

Ah, well. OK. So I'll be productive tomorrow. What do you do to put off the less pleasant tasks?

Kiss those babies!

Oh, my!

We're going to have to pick up the pace in the kitchen now. Sunny (the name for our new kitchen servant *wink*) is fast. Startlingly fast. Egg whites whip up into "soft peaks" in a matter of seconds - just enough time for each of the cavebabies to oogle the process, and then *poof*, it's time for me to step in and do something... but what? I normally read the recipe over while I'm whipping... where's the recipe? where's the spoon? what's the... ohhhhh, lookit that!


This is fun. And the banana bread looks higher and fluffier than it's ever been before.

I *heart* Sunny.

Kiss those babies!

Oh, and the pancakes...

I'd mentioned last week that we had that rice and buttermilk thing congealing on the kitchen counter...

It works! It's officially been deemed by even the non-wf folks in the household to be "The Best Pancakes Ever And Can We Eat These Several Times A Week". So, having passed the Flavor Board (ha ha - little wf inside joke, there - board, cardboard, lumber... *ahem* yeah...) Here ya go!

(*edited to add: I got this from someone who got it from somebody else who'd shared it on a forum. Today I heard it's originally from a Sue Gregg cookbook. So. Due credit. The recipe is hers. The comments from the peanut gallery are mine. :-)*)

Brown Rice Pancakes

Before you go to bed, pour into a blender:
1 1/2 C. UNcooked brown rice (yeah, I know, weird)
1 1/2 C. buttermilk (or regular milk with about a Tablespoon of vinegar)
2 Tbsp. oil (veggie, flax, whatever)
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend on HIGH for 3 minutes. Go to bed and try not to fret over ingesting dairy that's been left out all night.

In the morning, add:
1 egg
Blend for 1 minute.

2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt

Blend just enough to get it mixed in well. Then cook like you would normal pancakes. (Listen to me - "normal". OK, fine, pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle. Flip them when the top is covered in bubbles, and then they're done when the bottom is browned nicely. There, more specific detail.)

I haven't tried these with the coconut milk, but have to say that coconut milk and a banana thrown in would probably be delicious!

They do work okay with rice milk, as well. (If anybody tries any other substitutions, as always, please leave a comment and share the wisdom you've gained. The wheat-free label works best when y'all don't just have to rely on what we've pulled off, ya know.)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 14

Blogging Wounded

I did something bad and painful to my right arm earlier this week, and it hurts to breathe. Typing isn't easier. So, please accept my apologies if I didn't reply to each of the wonderful comments on the bricks, and the paint. I did read them all (reading doesn't hurt much), and your insights and stories were more helpful than I can say. Thank you!

Oh, I think I now know what early man looked like when he discovered the secret to fire. My guys gave me a Sunbeam stand mixer for Mother's Day. We loaded up the bowls, turned it on, and the clan gathered 'round to stare in awe at the technology. I'd have taken pictures, because it looked hilarious, but I was one of those standing around the fire, um, the mixer. We grunted. We oooohhhhh'd. We ahhhhhh'd. The Small Ones poked at it. The Big Ones admonished the Small Ones not to put their fingers in there because it'll snap them in two. Then, when they weren't looking, we Big Ones put our fingers in there, just to see.

It's delightful, and powerful, and wonderful, and did I mention delightful? I know, I know, domestic accessories aren't everybody's cuppa for gift-giving. But this is, for me, more akin to buying ammunition for an avid shooter, or parchment for a die-hard calligrapher. This little baby has just taken an activity I enjoy and engage in regularly (namely, making all this heavy, dense, wheat-free grain into edible foodstuffs), and turned it into less of a career and more of a hobby. I haven't words to describe the joy that brings me.

But you wanna know the best parts? Zorak has fallen in love with the Mixer. We made pizza for Sunday Supper, for the Usual Crowd. Three of the five of them are wheat-free, also, so I made the wf crusts in the mixer and we stood around staring at it while it worked. Then I rinsed the bowls. (Ta-da! All done!) Then Zorak stepped in to make his Famous Pizza Crust... and he could not believe how simple it is to make dough using the stand mixer. He's been singing its praises ever since. It makes me glad to know he doesn't view it as "one of those contraptions the missus has been clamoring for". Not that he'd ever say that, but, well, yeah. Nice to know he likes it, too.

And, as usual, the boys were just delightful. They planned a treasure hunt (for the record, I'd make a lousy treasure hunter - the maps were excellent, but I'm navigationally impaired). They made the entire breakfast, from the coffee to the bacon. They served the meal, and did the most hilarious Serious Waiter impressions I've ever seen. Then they butchered a few songs for my edification, and Emily's. As a matter of fact, the singing went a little long because of her addiction-inspiring squeak-n-squeal of joy. That was fun, and after all was said and done, we got to work on the framing for the screened-in front porch.

OK, I say "we", but what I mean is "Zorak". I took a vicodin and slept on the couch for a few hours. Then I sat on the porch letting him know I wish I could *wince* help *wince*. Yeah, I'm sure that made him feel better as the got the boards cut and fitted and secured into place. He's so good to us.

Happy Belated Mother's Day. I hope your day was just as delightful as ours.

Kiss those babies (and Daddies)!

Saturday, May 12

What Shall We Do With A Dated Brick Home?

Well, the inside of our wonderful Forever Home just looks and feels (and smells) so much better now than it did when we first adopted it. We're pretty happy with the work that's been done, and the work that will be done, and we have a clear vision for all that. But now we're faced with a New Challenge (one I'd hoped to put off for a while, actually).

The Forever Home is A Brick Home.

This is a huge thing to many people. They love brick. For myriad reasons, however, we just aren't enamoured with brick. More specifically, *this* brick...

I know, heresy. Yes. There, we've said it. But honestly, this house isn't ensconced in a lovely, timeless brick that harkens back to ages past. It's covered in That 70's Brick.
Click on the picture. There, do you see the little decorative swirlies there? On every. brick. Wasn't that creative? Eventually, the brick is comin' off, and it'll be replaced by stone and stucco, and it will be *lovely*.

HOWEVER, all that's going to have to wait for the den, and the master bedroom expansion.


That leaves us with brick (this brick) for at least the next 5-7 years. (Because we are SO taking a break to enjoy this place between major jobs!) But in the meantime, my house is really ugly on the outside, and we'd like to do something not hideously expensive to update the exterior. Obviously, fresh paint on the trimwork will help, but I'm wondering if any of you have ever resurfaced a brick home? I'd love to mute, or blend, or somehow update these colors. Don't get me wrong, of all the palettes from the '70's they could have chosen, I am eternally grateful it's the "Orange" palette rather than something from the "Avocado", or "Goldenrod" collection. Yes, we dodged some pretty heavy caliber bullets in the color scheme. I'd thought about paint, but from all I've read, it seems there is a special place in hell for those who've painted brick. It's said they are required to pick the paint out of the mortar with toothpicks. So, honestly, we'd rather like to avoid that.

Still... this is... well, yeah. So, if we can do something to make it a little more appealing, I'd sure like to. And then we could further highlight the new Classic Neutrality of the brick with an appropriate trim color. (I've been angling for the slate grey you can see there on some of the bricks. Zorak prefers the more orangey color in some of the bricks - not the lightest ones, but the next down from that.) Anyhow, we were doing such a splendid job of ignoring this little problem until today, when we realized we really need to pick a trim color so we can stain the frame of new screened in porch we're building this weekend.

Tips? Ideas? Humorous anecdotes that'll make me feel like it's not *that* bad? Or should we just cave into the allure of 1971? What do you think?

Kiss those babies!

Friday, May 11

In Your Eyes

What do your children see when they look at the world around them?

I found this tonight, while sorting through photos, and had to pull it out. I hope what he sees tells him that he's loved, and cherished.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 9

Where are the shoes?

The delightful L often posts about being able to spot the "formal" events in her area, because the children wear shoes. That always makes me smile. I grew up in Arizona and New Mexico. If you're outside, you have shoes on, because there are cacti and scorpions and goat heads. If you're inside, you have shoes on, because there are probably goat heads in the carpet. Not to mention, if it's after June 1st, your feet will blister, peel, and fall right off above the ankles if you go outside barefooted. You just wear shoes. But not here. Here, kids wear shoes for formal events, or February. Sometimes for church.

We had a bit of a logistical snafu getting out the door today, and Emily, in the chaos, got loaded up without shoes. I thought for sure we had shoes in the Suburban. After all, we have snacks, paper, books, crayons, and possibly a squirrel in there. There's got to be shoes, right? No. So I carried her sheepishly into the dentist's office, feeling just a wee bit defensive about my piss-poor parenting and the effect this shoe-less foray into "The City" will have on Emily's future prospects for therapy and possibly marriage. We enter. Nobody blinks twice. And that's when I see before me a lobby filled with... unshod children. There had to have been thirteen kids in there, and not a one of them had on shoes! Instead, there was a pile of shoes beneath the reading table. Is there some kind of unspoken ceremony, wherein a child enters the building properly shod, grabs a book, sits down, makes a few sacrifices to the Adults in Charge, then leaves the shoes at the altar and runs off to enjoy childhood as it was meant to be enjoyed?) Huh. I've never seen that before. But it does bode well for Emily's marital prospects, at least.

Really, I think it's just me, and my Ye Shall Protect The Hide Of Thy Feet upbringing. The kids don't seem to have the same hangups I do, and are slowly assimilating into the native condition. Smidge acclimated almost immediately. Our first summer here, Smidge ran about the apartment complex barefooted, and I didn't mind so much. I just tried not to think about the feel of chalky concrete on the soles of my feet. (It makes me cringe just typing that out.) But that was, mmm, okay.

Then we moved out here, and I thought for *sure* he would take to wearing shoes. But no. We bought the forever home, kicked the kids out in the yard, and I have no idea to this day where the shoes he had on have gone. His feet are the color of rich Peruvian llama wool. His little fat baby feet have grown and become lean, but now they have the "weathered" look of... of Ghandi. Blech.

Then, last summer, all three of them signed on with the Barefoot Brigade. Shoeless! Sockless! Not even sandals could placate the innate desire to... to do that. I gave them shoes. I made sure they fit. I tried various styles. I finally resorted to standing there on the porch cringing and yelling,
"The vet said the ground is infested with hookworms! Do you want to go BLIND?!?! Get your shoes on!"
They're good boys. They'd try. Well, the older two tried. We'd already lost Smidge by then. And near the end of last summer I thought for sure I'd fought the good fight and that my children would understand the Importance of proper footwear.

Now summer weather is here. The children all have crocs, which I thought for sure would make wearing shoes *so* easy, and *so* just like not wearing shoes, that I could put my twitches to rest. But, um, evidently not...

Ah! Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 8

Kitchen Chat

I've got some brown rice concoction languishing in the blender. Rumor has it that it'll turn into pancakes if I leave it there long enough. But just in case, I didn't mention to the boys that there may be pancakes tomorrow. The dishwasher and washing machine are doing their thing, and I'm sitting here with dry hands, a comfortable back, and a whole lot of appreciation in my heart.

We had a pretty good day today, all around. Lots of time outside. A good portion of time really connecting with each other. I've been working hard on not letting my own lacking strength or enthusiasm seep out onto the boys, and I *think* (hope, pray!) it's beginning to sink in with me. So I set the tone, and really, they do tend to follow suit. (Funny how that works. Remind me of this when we have "one of those days" - odds are good it'll be because I dropped the ball.) One of them was feeling a bit contrary, a bit cranky, but he opened right up when I approached him about it and we were able to get to the root of the matter. It doesn't always go down that well, but when it does, it feels like winning a marathon. Or how I would envision it would feel to win a marathon. Maybe a three-legged race? I don't know, but it felt good.

The boys have been ploughing through the fruits and veggies lately, so we had to make an emergency trip into town for more fresh stuff. (NOT complaining!) It was nice to load up on things with the boys' input. Asparagus is in season right now, so we picked up five pounds of that. (You can never have enough asparagus on hand. Never.) With the grill now dead, we've been brainstorming quick meals. It's not so much preparation time, but more specifically we needed meals that will not require the oven, and only minimal stovetop use. Stir fry fits that bill nicely! I do love summer cooking.

I sent the boys ahead to find the next aisle we needed, and John approached a little girl at the end of one aisle and began talking with her, kidding with her, squirrelling around a bit. That took me off guard. "Huh," I thought, "he doesn't usually just dive right into - OH MY WORD, did he just nudge that child with his elbow?!?!?" Thankfully that was all internal. Turned out to be one of the girls on his baseball team. I'm glad he recognized her, because I've never seen her with her hair down, dressed in something other than practice clothes or their game uniforms. It was nice to actually run into someone we know while we're at the market. That was a normal occurrence when we lived back out west, and I didn't realize how much I've missed it. So, small Poky Little Puppy distraction. Kind of nice.

We found little gardening hand tool sets for the boys, so they're each armed erm, equipped for the garden now. Hopefully, we won't find ourselves regretting this decision from the comfort of the ER lobby.

Since I had my act together, we finished eating early enough to go outside and play after supper. (That skill's going to come in handy when the summer humidity hits!) While we were out there, Zorak had a Truly Brilliant idea, probably inspired by one of the children running smack into the woodpile in the dark *again*. He dug out our camping lantern and hung it on the cheesy windmill thing in the upper meadow, then pulled the picnic table over close enough to enjoy the light, but not so close that we had to deal with bugs. The boys played some horrible combination of rugby, football, high-speed cop chase... I'm not sure what it was, but it sounded fun. And painful. Baby Girl and Smidge walked atop the railroad ties around the windmill, ooohhhing and ahhhing over the bugs, the leaves, the stars in the sky. And I can't believe we did this, but Zorak and I sat on either end of the picnic bench for a good five minutes before we realized...

"HEY, we're the only two here!"
*scootch* *scootch*
"Mmmm, much better."

So what began as a simple means of preventing major neck injuries in the Small Ones turned into a lovely impromptu date night and family excursion. (The garden-gnome version of a windmill is still outta here the first chance we get, but now we think we'll replace it with a post for hanging the lantern.)

Did you have an enjoyable day today?

Kiss those babies!

Oh, this feels good!

James just posted his translation work on the fridge. He worked hard, and he's proud of that work. He bounced and leapt and whirled out the front door to tell his brothers how excited he is over the work he did. I'm sitting here snickering to myself, and simply didn't have the heart to tell him that he'd just written a *whole page* of work. (Didn't have the heart to do that to myself, that is! Normally, getting him to write is torture, right up there with expecting him to floss sharks, or stab kittens with toothpicks. Not that we'd ask those things of him, but you wouldn't know it from the terror a simple writing assignment typically inspires.)

And so, he's learning the things he needs to learn.

And I'm learning the things I need to learn.

And here it is, lunchtime.

That went quickly. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Bad timing #432

The heating element in your outdoor grill dies in May.

Perhaps it's time to put in a pit bbq?

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 7

Done by 7AM

I have a vague recollection of someone placing a book on my chest this morning around six, and a disembodied voice from somewhere beyond my peripheral vision murmuring, "Look, I'm done with my math." I think I mumbled something encouraging (I hope it was encouraging), and then everything went blissfully black again.

There's a slightly clearer memory of a voice and a blurry-headed boy at my bedside around six-thirty, showing me what I can only guess to be a completed Latin page, based on the jarringly chipper narrative that accompanied the bobbing movements of the blurry head.

Around seven, James came *bounding* into the room once again, fully dressed, to snuggle up beside me and whisper, "I've done all my schoolwork."


"Did you hear me, Mom? Isn't that wonderful?"

(OK, ok, I'll get up.) You did *all* of it?

"Yep. All of it. I even did my reading this morning. And see, I'm dressed!"

Mrmpf. Um... yeah... why?

"Because I wanted to make you smile." *big cheesy smile*

*choke* *snort* *grumble* (Riiiiight. Sure you did.) And?

"And may I play a little Paper Mario?"

Heh. OK, that makes a lot more sense than the initial presentation of a burning desire To Do Right In The World.

Still, seven in the morning and the kid is up, dressed, has fed the dog, and done all of his schoolwork independently. Yeah, that's a bargain I'm willing to strike this morning. And when he's done, I think I'm going to show him how to make coffee, in case this ever happens again.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 6

You are so not in the club.

"What club?"

"The church club."

"Yeah... I noticed."

We went to the VTC again today. They don't really break between Sunday School and the service (the pause is only long enough for the pianist to walk to the front of the church and sit down), and two and a half hours is just a bit long for the little guys to sit still and quiet without any kind of a break (potty, snack, stretch-yer-legs). So we decided to go for the service only, which the sign says begins at 10:35. We got there at 10:30. Sunday school ended around 10:50, and they moved right into the service. We got out of there at almost one. I asked what time they normally end Sunday School (thinking that perhaps today had been a special study), and was told, "Whenever I finish." Oh. Well, that'll make planning easy.

After the service, the pastor's wife approached and mentioned that it's been a while since she's vaccumed in there and hoped we didn't encounter too many bugs when I'd taken EmBaby to the far back for a bit. (We did. They were pretty numerous. The windows are filthy, too, and the place could use a dusting.) She said she'd get the vaccum out and bring it over and tidy up a bit, and so I offered to come and help. I've never been in a congregation that wasn't clamoring for women to come help clean the church. That is, never been to one until today. You'd have thought I'd said I'd come clean her home. Nope, they don't need any help with cleaning the church. OK, well, you know, if you ever do the big spring cleaning, or need help with the woodwork, or whatev--- "NOPE. We don't need any help ever. We're fine."


On the way down the steps, I asked the pastor about two of the ill who'd been mentioned in the prayers that morning, and let him know that if anybody is ever ill or homebound and they need someone to do grocery shopping or bring meals, please don't hesitate to let me know. His response took me by surprise: "We take care of our own in this community. We don't turn to any 'church organizations' when we need something." He expounded a bit, but it didn't make any more sense than that, and wasn't nearly as gentle.

That, a few other things, all of it together, struck me as... odd. Isn't a congregation part of the community? Isn't it the calling of the church to take care of those who need care? I wasn't offering to send out FEMA requests, or to call in a representative from a large national organization to come survey the situation and make recommendations. I was offering to help, myself, in person. Coming from a pastor, as well, the facial display of ironic quotes when he said "church organizations" seemed a bit... well, off. I thought maybe I was just being prideful in feeling snubbed so curtly, and decided not to say anything more about it.

Then on the drive home, Zorak hit me with the observation above. That's how it sure looked from his point of view. Folks, just a tip: when someone from outside your faith sees the flock snubbing other believers, it's Painfully Obvious. You're not being subtle, or probably even kind.


I know. We're not "from here". You don't have to remind me. (And I wish the people who are From Here would stop making such a point of it, themselves.)

I don't know how long this congregation has been down to five people, but it seems its been long enough that they've become settled in their ways. To the pastor's wife, it probably felt as if I *did* offer to come clean her home. In her mind, that's her church. She cleans it. She decorates it. It's hers. I wouldn't even say she knows she's developed that attitude, honestly. She acted more offended by my offer than anything.

Same thing with not taking a fellowship break between Sunday School and the service. Everybody who comes is there, so let's just move on. It's comfortable for them, and it works... for them.

And the pastor's response to an offer of a warm body to help out when help is needed? I have no idea.

But I want to cry.

Saturday Wrap-Up

The game this morning was amazing. Both teams played their wee hearts out. The team they played today has an inordinate number of little guys, too, and that made the coaches from both teams out on the field look like the Gulliver family enjoying a reunion in Lilliput. John's team lost this game - something like 17 - 14. It was close, hard, and fast. Kids flying past home plate from both teams the entire time. Obviously, neither team has quite mastered the whole concept of "fielding the ball" yet. But they had fun, and there was no tension, no attitude, from the stands or the refs. It was what baseball should look like. Good, good stuff.

Zorak's making progress in the basement. He built a door for the Scary Room, strung more wire (thus bringing the rest of the lights up to code), and added a few much-needed outlets. There's only one more wire to run and we can put the cover back on the electrical box! WOOHOO! He also cleaned up a lot down there.

The boys tended the fire. And had a sword fight. Thankfully, not all at the same time.

Zorak built stilts for the boys, and they had a blast trying to master a new skill.

BabyGirl ran around in circles, fed the Baltoid by hand, and insisted on climbing the Terrifyingly Dangerous Stairs to the Very Dangerous Balcony. (Anyone know where I can get a shirt that says, "No, I do not know fear"?)

James just about made me cry when he hit a MAJOR "growing up" milestone today. He started to snap at one of his brothers (who was, admittedly, being a bit irritating), but he stopped himself, and corrected his tone - without prompting from an adult! Nobody said anything, he just caught it on his own. Oh! It was beautiful. *sniff* My baby's growing up.

I spent h-o-u-r-s decluttering. I swear our paper products must be made of rabbit. There's no way we have brought *that much* paper into the house in the last month, so it's got to be breeding. New House Rule: you may not leave any two sheets of paper unchaperoned for longer than one day. (And if that doesn't work, then all paper products will be checked at the door.)

The rest of the day was pretty much the same old stuff: we wrote, we read, we laughed; we talked, we ate, we worked. Well, I say "same old stuff", but it's the stuff that holds the day together amidst the decluttering and building and planning. That's the stuff that gives you the time to make eye contact more, and smile a little longer, and sit closer together. In that stuff is where you get to say to your children, "I'm here," and they get to say to you, "We know." Can't beat that, even if it's not hilarious or poignant or eloquent.

I don't know what I would do if it weren't for the downtime, the loud and raucous time, the together time. A friend said something a while back about how hard it would be to get things accomplished when you never get six hours during the day with all the children gone, to get things done, to regroup, and to take quiet breaks. At first, I thought, "well, yeah, that's true," but then I realized, "*pfft* who am I kidding? If I had six hours to myself every day, I wouldn't accomplish a darned thing. I'd put the coffee pot and half-gallon jug of creamer on my nightstand, dig out the stash of Zebra Cakes, and spend six hours every day reading in bed and eating myself into a coma!" Sure, it sounds heavenly for the first three or four hundred pounds, but eventually? No, let's face it - the life I have right now is exactly the life I need. They keep me focused, keep me honest, and keep me going. It's really, really good.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, May 4

Citrus and Beverage Stands

Not-so-clever attempt at avoiding a cliche. ;-) There's that, and the Byrds (or Solomon's) To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... *pfft* That is so much easier to say (or sing) and not mean (or to mean, but from a distance; makes a delightful third person pep talk), than to live and still say meaningfully. Let's just say I don't think the Book of Ecclesiastes was written by a hormonal woman. It's still wise, and good, and pertinent. It's just far easier to identify with at certain times. This is not one of those times.

But even so, it's been a good week.

Zorak did some concrete work in the basement this week and had a little leftover cement, so he got the boys together and they made "dinosaur eggs" using that and the plastic Easter egg remnants. Today they opened the molds, and the little eggs look great. We'll put some clutches out in the garden beds next week.

The horned toad we were planning to mummify... well, we packed it in salt so it wouldn't puff up and rot before we could buy the materials to preserve it. Then Zorak built a "tomb" to keep Baltoid out. And it seems the tomb was so well-concealed that we forgot about it. I'm mostly afraid to go look now. But we did get all the things to mummify it. Think we'll have another slightly cool day before summer hits full-on?

While everybody else was busy watching William the Conqueror and the Tapestry of Bayeux, both of which are excellent, I found this little gem...

And I've been giggling to myself all night.

Yes. It's been good.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, May 3

Too yummy not to share.

A cup (or so) of frozen blueberries.
One can of coconut milk.
Half a cup of cold water.
2 Tbsp. cooking oil (NOT olive, okay? Ew.)
1/4-ish c. sugar (or perhaps honey? Somebody try honey and let us know how it works!)

Dump all this into your blender. Fill it almot to the top with ice. Blend for two full minutes.

Goes great with lunch! (And look, Melissa, it's kinda healthy... And Amy, I didn't use the "t" word!)

Kiss those babies!

Heh. Yeah.

Well, we had great morning lessons, and then, since the humidity wasn't stifling, we headed out-of-doors. (That sounds so formal, doesn't it?) The boys wanted to help me mark out a track for our walking/running plans (I've been wanting to do the Couch Potato-to-5K program), so we got started on that.

Um, what's less active than a couch potato? Would that be the eye of the potato, perhaps? Or just the skin? Whatever it is, that's me. Whoo-boy. The boys endeavored to make me feel better, though, by bolting back into the house for granola bars so they could snack while we trekked, and then back and forth for water breaks, and finally yet again for books to read. When I'd had enough of their mocking (and I couldn't breathe anymore), we plopped down in the grass with our books and inhaled gnats for a while. That was nice.

The boys did copywork and illustrations today, which they enjoy more than narrations, but less than, say, puppet shows. John copied and illustrated the opening lines to the poem, "My Town", by Lois Lenski. James chose a quote from Themistocles' teacher:
You, Themistocles, are destined to be something out of the ordinary. Great you will be one way or the other, either for good or for evil.
It was all uneventful until he showed me his illustration. Is that a loin cloth? "No," he says, "See, it's just like how they blur faces and private parts on TV, with the little squares. Cool, huh?"

(On TV? Where is he seeing blurred faces - OR private parts - on TV? Do I need to be keeping a closer eye on PBS?) Ahhh, moving along, then.

We made the pendant craft from Chapter 37 in SOTW. And we now have one tiny head, two brittle snakes, and three broken, chipped, or cracked pieces of pottery pendants lying about the kitchen. Probably not the best craft for this crowd. But by gum, we did it, and we enjoyed it! GO US!

Then we blew an hour and watched Radio, which made me cry, of course. The boys decided it would cheer me up if we went outside to play frisbee. They were right. That was a hoot!

Zorak arrived home to find his clan enjoying the afternoon breezes, running about, mowing the lawn, eating the pine cones. (I'll let you decide who was doing what. There was an awful lot of activity, and it's sometimes hard to keep it straight.) Really, it was good.

Then, thanks to our running and snuggling and mowing and squirrelling, the children peacably brushed and flossed and curled up for the bedtime read, but didn't make it through more than three pages. What a great day!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 2

I need a name for these!

Oh. My. Word. I love squash, but if I had to face another plate of steamed or broiled squash slices, I'm afraid I was going to go Serial Mom. So, get creative. Why not? If you have a firm grasp of what will and will not explode upon combining, then the kitchen is your Crazy Private Lab. It's like I told LB; in theory, I'm a great cook! ;-)

Anyway, I have no idea what to call these things, and the only things popping into my head are cheesy 1960's-era names like "Heavenly Squash Cakes" or "One Potato, Two Potato, Three..." well, ew. That's just where I give up. (And this would probably be a good time to remind you all to visit the Gallery of Regrettable Foods! If you haven't been before, you'll laugh until you embarrass yourself or your loved ones. If you haven't been in a while, well, nothing like a little Broiled Yeti... yeah, to get you through the arsenic hour! *note: not for the children, the squeamish, or the prim*)

However, this recipe is a wholly G-rated, family affair. EmBaby has eaten two already, and supper's not even on the table.

Here, try them:
-Pre-heat your griddle to... oh, let's go with Hot.
-Make the two-serving size of instant mashed potatoes. (Or make two servings of regular mashed potatoes. I won't tell if you won't.)
-Shred one yellow squash and one zucchini (use the carrot shredder)
-Sautee (brown, whatever, I'm not finicky) half an onion and one clove of garlic (squished or pressed - however you break it up is fine) just until softened

Dump the potatoes and the squashes into a big bowl. Crack an egg into that, and blend. Add the onions and seasoning to taste. Blend well.

The mixture will be a bit thin for cooking at this point. Throw in some flour. I used bean flour. You can use whatever you'd normally use. (Why do I even bother with writing down recipes? I know.) About a quarter to half a cup, depending on how much moisture your squashes had in them. It'll be about the consistency of pancake batter when it's right. Lumpy pancake batter with colorful bits in it.

Use some kind of scooping device (I'd go with a Tablespoon, for uniformity and ease of flipping) to scoop the concoction onto the Hot griddle. Smooth out a bit. Cook until brown on one side. Flip. Repeat. Remove to plate.

OK, seeing it written down, they're basically potato pancakes with squash. That doesn't sound as good as these things taste, though. Seriously - YUM!

Kiss those babies!

A Good Homeschool Morning!

I had a splendid plan to get up early this morning to go walking. Sounded good, anyway, until the sun peered in the window, the birds began their serenade, and the Mighty Snuggly Smidge crept into bed to... well, to snuggle. And so, instead, we all slept in a bit, and are now enjoying hot tea, Themistocles, free play... and the free concert the birds are still providing. If we had a porch swing, we'd be out there right now, instead. (As a matter of fact, I've decided a nice, big porch swing is a homeschooling necessity. Skip the desk, use the kitchen table, and invest in a swing. Yup.) We'll walk later, when our lessons are done.

Spring brings with it an end to our mini-hibernation from the bitter cold of January. We get out and roll about in the daffodils. We stretch our limbs and scratch our mosquito bites. But we keep learning. Spring is a good time to review the plan and see how it's coming along. And that's what we've been doing. I like taking that time to review my job. For instance, it's my job to create a safe place for our children to learn, to provide good things for our children to learn, and to model the things for these children to learn. It's the best job I've ever had, and yes, a task to which I sometimes feel inadequate. But when that happens, it's not a time to give up (how would we feel about any teacher, pastor, mentor who simply rolled over and gave up when things got a bit challenging?) That's when it's time for me to take a deep breath, take stock of our plan, and work a little harder at what I do. Part of that whole modeling thing, I suppose. It pays off.

I had the delight yesterday of watching one of my children do something "for fun" that, just six months ago, would have caused him no end of frustration and sadness. He sat, writing words, solving crossword puzzles, reading directions, as if he'd been doing it his whole life. He giggled at silly games and said laughingly, "Oh, I know this! It's easy!" And it is, now. But I remember when those things didn't come easy for him, when the task of deciphering felt insurmountable to him. And I couldn't help but smile because this whole world is open to him in a way we often take for granted. I'm thankful to be a part of his learning adventure. And I'm humbled, when I stop to think that I have been a participant in history. Not world history, perhaps, nor even events that will make it into the annals of the state records. But our history. His history. His story. Wow.

While one child enjoys the gift of the written word, another child grapples with the spoken word. He works hard, every day, to express himself more clearly, to grasp the sounds and syllables that often evade only him. His speech and vocabulary have expanded tremendously this last year, but the work isn't done. He knows it, and I know it. And that's okay. He knows we are a team, and we're working toward the same goal. He knows he's safe among us and won't be ridiculed for his failures. He knows they won't be counted as failures, or held against him, or used to define who he is. His "classmates" won't ever tease him, or mock him for that which he attempts -- whether he succeeds or not. He knows that when he does succeed, we'll be there to lift him up in triumph. He knows that when he needs to try again, we'll be there to cheer him on. Of course, he doesn't know how to express it like that. He doesn't even know there is another way to learn, to live. And once more, I'm humbled and thankful.

And again, I've watched another child (wow, there's a lot of children in this reverie!) fly through some tasks and skills with the ease of one who has been doing them for ages, then in turn struggle and wrestle with others. So while the math and the science, the analysis and deduction all come intuitively to him, the self-discipline of staying on task and paying attention, of remembering what he's heard, and remembering that he's supposed to be reading... and paying attention to what he's read... well, those are his special challenges. And I am here, to guide, instruct, cheer, encourage. He'll get it, and it'll be his hard work that gets him there. But I will be there when he does, and I will know just what it took for him to enjoy the savory, rich flavor of a job well done.

The thing that strikes me clearly is that none of this is due to any Phenomenal Educational Training on my part. It's the dynamic of our homeschool. It's the ebb and flow of Life that we've chosen to embrace. It's the Big Picture goals Zorak and I have set for our home, our family, and our children. What they do with the tools we give them is up to them entirely. We hope to teach them to use their tools well, to take care of their tools, and to put them to good use no matter where they go or what they do in their lives.

And in the meantime, we're here. We're modeling. We're learning, striving, failing, achieving. I can't think of a better place for a child to learn than right here, at home.

Tuesday, May 1

Oh, boy!

So I gave the Small Ones the option to stay inside and help me clean, or go outside and play. A no-brainer, I know. Normally, we do work together. I just don't have it in me today to direct traffic, and the house is shot. So, go! Play! Enjoy the day!

Smidge came back in. "Me done playing outside." Oh, yeah? Well, if you come in, you'll be cleaning. "Mmm, okay. Me clean." Heh. Ok.

I got him set up in his room, putting Tinker Toys back in the bucket. Simple enough for a 3yo to do, right?

He comes out, "Look! A sword!"

Yes, honey, that's a nice sword. Put it in the sword bucket, please.

He disappears, only to reappear a moment later with a new creation. "Look! TWO swords!"

Oh, aren't you a handsome knight? You're the Knight of Cleanliness. Put it up.

He starts back down the hall. Stops. Comes running back up the hall. "Me no knight. Me a WARRIOR!"

*chuckle* OK, warrior. Go pick up your things.

"Mmmmm. Nope. Me no knight. Me WARRIOR. Warriors no clean. They FIGHT!"

Ahhh. Well, then. So much for my brilliant child psychology tactics.

Kiss those wee warriors!


Oh, and I missed it! But John's team won the game last night. I can't get details from anybody about the game. Zorak came in, fed John a hot dog and then promptly passed out. James just doesn't pay that much attention. John was too excited and exhausted to remember anything. Smidge... well, actually, he'd have been my best bet. But I didn't get to him in time, and something else had already filled in RAM for the night.

So I don't know what happened.

But I do know that John got the game ball. That really made him beam. He's carrying it around this morning. (I don't know if it's a standard tradition, but Coach Paul gives a game ball to one player after each game. He shoots to find something to really boost the children up, through the work and effort they've put into it.) John said, "Mom, I got the game ball for hitting a triple, but I'm not sure what a triple is." Oh. OK. Well, that's a clue, at least. :-)

Happy children. Good stuff. Good morning!

Kiss those babies!