Friday, August 31

A New Challenge

Boning up on bird identification can be quite the humbling experience. Where one thinks one is, perhaps, "observant", one discovers one is... probably due for glasses and a dose of Focusin.

So how do you use your bird guide? Do you just browse it here and there? Do you set out to learn about one bird at a time? Do you wing it (har-de-har) and just go along as you find new birds? How do you make it work for you?

We have two different woodpeckers out there. Somewhere. I hear them, and I've seen them. I know they're there. But I don't know what they are.

I do know there was, at least, one Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (which I think is one of the best names, ever, for a bird!) Unfortunately, I only know this because of what it did to the alleged apple tree in the back yard:

I don't think I've actually seen it. The only one we see regularly has a lot more red on it than the Lily-Livered Tree Mauler. So. Last night I sat with my Peterson's guide and boned up on the woodpeckers in our region.

This weekend, I think I'm going to catch me a photo of our regular visitor and see if we can give him a name.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 29

Common Threads

Tonight, I read Laura's post on Great Heart: The History of a Labrador Adventure, and I mentally did a little happy dance. You see, in this book, Dillon Wallace joins an expedition group in 1903 that heads up the Labrador coast...

OK, so what? Well, it's the touch of the familiar that made me smile. I'm finding myself on the receiving end of those familiar starts, those enjoyable exchanges, more often these past several years. And I have to thank the books. The books have brought an entire tableau to my kitchen window, and I recognize the faces. That's exciting. It thrills me even more in that I know the more well-read we are, the better we are able to find the more subtle delights which abound in the world around us.

When King Arthur admonished Hank to "make like Horatius", I got a chuckle I'd have missed entirely if I hadn't known Horatius and his story. It's nothing earth-shattering, nothing of compound magnitude which propels me to instant mental celebrity. It's a small smile in the middle of a book. It's a little chuckle in the middle of the day. It's a nod to the familiar, the shared knowledge, the common thread, from age to age.

And that's okay. Just as it's seldom the Big Things that are bound to compel us to throw in the towel (oh, no, it's those Little Things that wend their way about your ankles, one small thing at a time, and then tighten at just the right moment so you hurl face first into the fetal position and beg for mercy)... *ahem* Sorry. Anyhow, as I was saying, just as it's seldom the Big Things that make us cry "Uncle", it's also seldom the Big Things (the Big Good Things) that keep us afloat. It isn't the passing grade in Calculus, or the generous promotion at work that gets us through the inbetween times, although those are certainly handy and often appreciated when they come. It's the private jokes among good friends, the shared memories of delights and discoveries, or of disasters and hilarious squalls, that steady us on when we wear down. It's the line a loved one always sings wrong, or the scent of something that came to you on one particularly beautiful day, at one particularly special moment that illuminate the beauty tucked here and there in the periphery of our vision. Those things, the Little Things, are the things that keep us afloat, keep us connected, keep us attuned.

I just finished, and passed along to James, a book called Arctic Stowaways, written by Dillon Wallace. It's a delightful (if, at times, a touch pedagogic) fictional account of two relatively spoiled American blue-blood, college-bound young men who, by reason of a series of Very Poor Choices, find themselves stowaways aboard an Arctic whaling ship, headed out for a two-year voyage. It reads much like Captains Courageous, but in an easier vernacular than the late 17th Century Massachusettes Fisherman brogue. It reads like every good adventure should, with plenty of detail from the mundane to the insane.

Dillon Wallace, I have since learned, wrote a number of adventure and nature stories set in the far Nor'eastern tip of North America. The land had his heart, and his imagination firmly in its grip by 1917. Reading Laura's post about her book was much like having a friend say, "Well, you know how he learned so much about that area?"

When people find themselves lacking a connection with the rest of the world, I wonder if perhaps they might find themselves, or their hearts, laid bare in the pages of a book written last month, or ninety years ago, or two-thousand years ago. As for me, I pick up every new book now wide-eyed, and anxious for the next little smile, little insight, little chuckle, little connection. I cannot do it justice, but my heart and mind can do it homage.

Kiss those babies!


While reading The Seven-Headed Serpent from The Yellow Fairy Book:
"Every year you must bring me from among your people twelve youths and twelve maidens, that I may devour them. If you do not do this, I will destroy your whole nation."

Then I heard a wee Smidge voice say, "Well, that was rude!"


James, during a water break at practice the other day:

"You know, I've been thinking. Nuclear power is clean and efficient, but the problem is that the little waste that's left is radioactive. There's got to be some way to use the waste itself to create more energy, and in doing so, destroy the waste."

(OK. Yeah. Good that you're thinking of these things, but perhaps on the field isn't quite the place for pondering this? Although, this does explain how some things simply aren't good combinations.)


John, while reading about Augustine's arrival in Britain:

"What was that king's name again, Ethelburp?"


And Em, The Great Adventurer, wearing a Toobers-and-Zots crown, armed with a PVC pipe sword she built herself, wearing a cape-backpack combination thing, running down the hall,

"Oh! I pooped! I pooped! Ow! I pooped!"

Her subjects fled in terror.


They make me smile. They make me think. They make me laugh. I couldn't ask for more.

kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 28

I swear by my tattoo!!!

No, I don't have a tattoo. But Ned does. We love that movie. Do you know that movie?

While enjoying an after-lunch sanity break, I'd drifted almost to sleep when I heard the sound of rushing water. Considering our recent adventures, I thought for sure something truly awful had happened and came bolting up from the couch, upending three children in the process. (As a side note, I now believe early settlers had so many children so they could pack fewer quilts. Two or three of those little guys piled atop you, and you're warmer than you'd ever be with five or six handsewn quilts.)

A quick inspection revealed that no pipes had burst, no neighbors had turned a firehose on our non-flaming home, and Emily was still asleep in her crib. That meant... no, it couldn't be. We looked out the window and YES!! it was RAIN! Glorious, beautiful, wet rain. Rain, coming down in torrents. That meant two good things, in particular: 1) I didn't have to remember to feel guilty about not watering the garden, and 2) the rest of the afternoon could be spent relaxing and enjoying the rain. Well, mostly.

It didn't rain long enough to cancel football practice, of course. But that's okay; James enjoys it, and Zorak had offered to take him today so that he could get a feel for what's going on in practice. There are some, erm, concerns, about the way things are being managed. Personally, I have no desire to be loping onto the field, looking all hormonal and bloated, because no matter what comes out of my mouth, the five men on the field who do not see what's going on will only hear, "Blah-blah-blah... My BAAAAABY!" Zorak, on the other hand, can amble out onto the field, utter the same exact words, and the five men on the field will hear, "You know, we lost fifteen yards in Saturday's game because of holding. Don't you think this ought to be addressed before it becomes habit?" Ridiculous? Definitely. A hill worth dying on? No. I have no delusions that I can somehow undo generations of ingrained gender beliefs. It was enough to remind the coaches that perhaps the mouthguards would do more good IN the children's mouths, eh?

On the upside, James is developing excellent leg muscles from dragging 70-pound kids around the field while they dangle from his sleeves. And, eventually, he's going to get angry enough that he's going to come off the line hard enough to knock them clear out of the way in the first place. So. There are benefits, if you're willing to find them. Or make them up, if necessary.

And did I mention it rained? It was a warm, August rain, too. The boys and I were two steps down the front porch, aiming to play in the rain, when the lightning (evidently, the close, August lighting) made an appearance and sent us scrambling back up under cover pretty darned quickly. Thankfully, we did not have nearly the upheaval Jennie did! So, I'd say it was a quiet, rainy afternoon, and much appreciated.

Baked ham, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and fresh bread -- that's what's on the table tonight. Good "Come On Autumn" food, isn't it? It's ready and waiting, and now, while the big'uns are out doing big'things, the littl'uns and I are going to finish a movie and make popcorn.

Kiss those babies!


Well, the boys had their first game Saturday. As you can tell, the siblings were there pretty much for the food. (Pardon That 70's Hair on the boys. John is growing his out so he can be Harry Potter for Halloween, and I haven't mustered the umpf to break out the sheers for just Smidge.) The players gave it their all. It was hot. It was sunny. It was hot. Zorak and Me-Wa thought the game was pretty good. Me-Tae and I thought the kids were just adorable. (I'm guessing some of us didn't get the point of being there? Either way, it was okay.) It'll be a lot better when it's not so hot.

Here's James, lining up. Can't see him? That's okay, neither could I, most of the time.

This was at practice the day before. (Also hot.) They were doing running drills. Not my idea of fun, but the boys do it with a great attitude. And there's gatorade and granola waiting in the cooler.

Also at practice. I've not quite got the Herding of the Cats figured out yet, so the picture taking is a bit off. The football field isn't as sibling-friendly as the baseball field is, and the herding process must be a bit more pro-active at the moment.

This was supposed to be a collage. I don't know why it's not. But I'm up, and the garbage is at the road. The coffee is hot, and life is good. What's a formatting snafu here and there, right?
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Kiss those babies!

Monday, August 27

1:40 and still out

Today hasn't been a "quiet" day, by any means. The littles have run bus races up and down the hall. I've made bread (and Sunny, while delightfully helpful, isn't the quietest kitchen helper in the world). John and I have done lessons. EmBaby has stated her position on a number of things. Loudly.

Through it all, James has slept peacefully.

I checked on him at eleven, and he was still alive.
At noon, I made sure he was breathing well.
Just now, I checked his temperature.

He's fine. He's just one. tired. boy.

I can't imagine how his day would have gone if he'd had to be up and out the door by seven to get to school. Ugh.

Kiss those babies!

Beautiful Reprieve

Hi 91°F
Lo 69°F
Precip 30 %
(Yes, I'm thrilled about 91. After 100+ for so long, 91 seems downright reasonable. *grin*)

Hi 89°F
Lo 69°F
Precip 60 % (SIXTY PERCENT! That's almost wet!)

Hi 90°F
Lo 69°F
Precip 50 % (I'll take fifty. Fifty is good.)

Hi 87°F
Lo 67°F
Precip 30 % (Was going to bold the "87", but...)

Hi 85°F
Lo 66°F
Precip 50 %
(LOOKEE!! EIGHTY-FIVE! Heaven! Heaven with the potential for RAIN!)

That's the most beautiful five-day outlook I've seen in AGES!

Kiss those babies!

Wrong Day

Got up this morning at five-thirty. Gathered the trash. Dropped it off the balcony. Couldn't find the bumper buddy, so I asked Zorak about it as he headed out the door. He blinked at me a few times, trying to figure out why on earth I would need the bumper buddy. Then he said I could probably use the pickup when he got back tonight.

"Well, that's silly. The garbage men will have come and gone by the time he gets home tonight," I thought. But he was looking at me so intently, I knew I had to be missing something.

I was.

Trash Day is Tuesday on our street.

Ah. Yes. Well, then, carry on. I'm... I'm up for no reason.

I think I'll just get started on the day, then. Beginning with studies on the porch and some delicious, fresh coffee.

Happy Monday!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, August 26

The Things They Pick Up

And her brothers say they "can't wait to teach her things". Heh. If only they knew.

Kiss those babies!
(yes, I know, she's dirty. she eats all the time and I can't keep up. think of it as proof that we feed her.)
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Friday, August 24

We're Done!

The last of the children had the last of the dental visits. There is no more work to be done on anybody under 18 in this house. I have absolutely no hope that it will remain that way, but at least I won't have to know about it until October, when they all go in for their routine checkups. So. That's something.

Em stayed in the lobby most of the time, enduring the nonstop administrations and nurturing affections of every girl from 6-9 years old who entered the building.

Oh, I'm sure she didn't mind. It would make me testy to a degree that makes Klingons look warm and fuzzy if I were to have somebody in my face like that for more than, say, the amount of time it takes to whisper through gritted teeth, "Get. Back. Now." Em, however, seems to have not yet developed a Personal Space. She was in heaven. I don't get it.

It was good, but nothing lasts forever. I knew we were nearing the end of our "happy waiting time" when I heard a Comanche war-cry and looked up to see her come barreling down the hall to the treatment arena, waving a stolen disposable nitrous oxide nose piece in one hand and a book in the other. There's a special place in my heart for good pediatric office staff. Truly. They perched her happily on the table beside James and fawned all over her while she pointed at James' head and said, "Ewwww!" and "Uh-oh!" (So comforting for him, I'm sure.)

The front desk ladies are nice, too, but Jess and I were laughing today over the almost Monty Python-esque approach of bookkeeping staff. There were things I did not buy this pay period, simply because I knew we were going to have two whomperdine dental visits today to pay for. So, I came semi-prepared to pay for them. The lady who handles checkout and bookkeeping mentioned there is a balance forward of nearly $400 (what insurance didn't pay, I think. We're not just slacking on our bills.) "Adding that to today's visit *tappity, tappity, tap*, and that'll be $600 and some change. Will that be debit or check?"

*snort* That would be a felony, wouldn't it, if I were to write a check that's that bad? Truly, we've been in several times a month, every month, for the last... what, six months? What would make you think I have ANY money left, let alone a spare six hundred to just pop right on out, here.

Without skipping a beat, she said, "Or, would you just like to pay half today?" Again, I think we're speaking past one another. If you couch it in terms of what I'd "like" to pay today, you may not get much. But in terms of what I'm "prepared" to pay today, I'm prepared to pay today's visit. Today. We'll have to budget for the rest.

*blank stare*
Uh-huh. Well, if you're sure...

(As opposed to waiting for you to print out the receipt, whereupon the camera crew reveals itself and I yell, "Surprise!" Yes, I'm sure. Unless you're trying to hint to me that some surprise malfunction is going to befall me for this? You don't have armed hygienists in the parking lot, do you? Because if you do, I can leave the two small ones with you until payday... Of COURSE I'm sure.)

And then, in the blink of an eye, she's the Chipper Desk Lady again. It's pretty wild. I don't know yet what I'm going to do to throw her off next time. Perhaps I'll slip in one day when none of the children have an appointment and pay the balance. :-)

Now, at least, the children are all caught up. And it's all done properly. And that is a mighty fine feeling.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, August 23


Whew, long day. Longer day tomorrow. Saturday, I think I'll leave a trail of cereal around the kitchen island, and put out sponges soaked in milk. Sort of a deranged breakfast bar. Might stick some fruit on all the chairs, too, for nutritional balance. As long as nobody feels the need to inform the kids that this is a weird thing to do, I'm pretty sure they'll think it's a splendid way to begin the day. (It would be for me, as long as it bought me an extra hour of sleep.)

You know, this week has just about killed me, and I've spent the day wondering why. Why are people doing stoopid things? Why is my husband coming to me with really bad ideas, expecting me to leap at them with gusto and filial joy? Who stuck turkey slices to the couch, and why? (And when, come to think of it? I don't remember serving turkey...) Why are my nostrils stuffed up when I don't have a cold or allergies? Why am I so unbelievably tired all the time?

No answers, but I was startin' to feel like a real pansy.

Then a friend mentioned that she really thinks I ought to play the pregnancy card more often.


Oh. I get it now. Not that it's a card to play, but, der-de-der, I'm nine or ten weeks pregnant. I'm nauseaus. I'm hot. I'm hormonal. And I'm not sleeping well. I think we have a winner!

Really bad ideas are STILL really bad ideas, and I'm not going to be happy about them, pregnant or not. And I'd still love to know where the turkey came from.

But at least this answers *some* of my questions. I guess it would be boring to have *all* of them answered, right? (Right?)

Well, then. We're good.

Kiss those babies!

Water and Politics

Wow, there were so many questions and suggestions I think I'd have logjammed the comment thing trying to respond there! Thanks for being so supportive and insightful and helpful. Most of all for making me laugh. It helps to keep a sense of humor about things like this, and right now it would seem there is an inverse relationship between pregnancy hormones and humor in a crisis. So, I'll just kind of address the questions here. The plans, however, are subject to change according to my hCG levels, whether I have creamer, and the direction of the wind.

So what happens now? Do you have to have a confrontation with your neighbors or is the water company going to take care of it? Will you get a credit for water paid for but not used? Is there going to be legal action? ACK! The unanswered questions are driving me crazy!

We looked at several options and have decided to go with "business as usual". There would be, if we were moving our water line, and the neighbors were not, in fact, parasitical thugs, no reason for us to contact our neighbors. It would be weird to contact them before hand, actually, because if they truly were upstanding citizens, we could set our water line on fire and it would not affect them. (Well, except for the burn ban that's in effect until October, but barring that...)

To contact them would accomplish nothing other than to raise the ire of the ignorant (are they going to drop to their knees, beg our forgiveness and ask, "How much do we owe ya for the last two years?" Um, no.), and the law on "theft of services" is pretty much a break even proposition. There are no penalties or fines or jail time. It's simply a reprimand to pay for the actual cash amount they've benefited in this (but "no more than $500"), and absolutely no guarantee that we'd be able to recoup attorney's fees. It's only a class C misdemeanor, so they'd still get off pretty much scott-free, but would have had plenty of time in the courtroom to memorize our features, and it could result in some kind of awkward confrontation which might include the shooting of our dog.

I'll answer the water company questions all at once, at the bottom.

Wait, so the water company knows your neighbors?Will they pursue this? Will they help you at all in fixing this? Is there any way to make sure that if you dig lines again they won't tap into THOSE?Are your neighbors sucking your power too?They put barbed wire and tree stumps across *their* drive? Why? So no one could come to their house?How soon can you dig new lines?

Oh, yes. The water company knows them. The cops know them. The ladies at the corner market know them. And not in the same, friendly, affectionate manner that everybody knew little Opie in Mayberry.

They aren't sucking our power. The house is just horribly inefficient. (Although I did make a point of ascertaining that all is well when the Elec. Co. replaced our transformer earlier this summer. Never hurts to check.) :-) The driveway issue happened the day we first came to look at the place. I'll link it -- well, huh. I thought I'd blogged about that, but I can't find a link to it. I'll have to do it another time. I'll go get pictures -- it's still there. Let's just say we had to build a driveway to get onto the property in order to be able to buy it.

We're relatively certain the water lines were tapped back in 1983, when the neighbors' house was built (family property - "sure you can tie into Daddy's line"). Then, their own line was set when this house was sold to the meth-family that came before us. They most likely just have a valve somewhere so they can switch at will. I don't think they have the wherewithal to tap the line right now. And honestly, while things do grow fast around here, it still takes a good year for a ditch scar to grow over completely. It's not something they could do without our noticing.

Will ANY action be taken against them? How will you prevent it from happening again?

Well, there's no way to forestall a truly determined criminal. But we don't believe they have that in mind. This was "there", it was easy, and nobody said anything until now. Not exactly noble of them, but we aren't concerned about drunk men in ski caps tripping through the poison ivy in the dead of night to tie back into our line. Not at the moment, anyway. And, like I mentioned, the State's coverage of this charge isn't worth pursuing, which really, why bother with legislation at that point? (OK, mostly. But still, pffft.)

The word 'prosecution' has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

*sigh* It does. Too bad the punishment isn't a punishment. I'd demand more of my seven year old in the way of setting things right than the law does of full-grown adults for theft. That is, perhaps, the most disappointing development in this whole case.

I guess the best thing to do is take that family off as dependents on your income tax :)

Now that is a fantastic idea! I like the way you think!

I'd also give a call to the water company and make SURE they are going to pursue action on this. Consider the Water Co's usual scumbag corporate position on this ... as far as they know, your water-grifters are a bunch of scumbag hillbillies who couldn't actually pay for their water, so the Water Co. may be quite content to let sleeping dogs lie since YOU are actually paying for it.

OK, the water, the water company, and so forth. Here's the skinny.

The Water Company is not responsible for this, and that's not some "scumbag corporate position". It's the logical conclusion, and the only right conclusion, intellectually, ethically, and legally. We contract with the water company to deliver water *to our property*. They run the main, they provide the meter. At that point, they've brought us water. It's on our property. The laying, maintenance, and use of the water line from the meter to its end, is our responsibility, just as it is with everything else that is on our property. What we do, or do not do, with that water, once it has been delivered, is up to us. It's ours. We've paid for it. The water company has fulfilled its contractual obligation to us by delivering said water to our property. The amount billed is based on the amount that passes through the meter (or, more directly, from their hands, to ours, at that junction).

A wonderful example is that if we were to come home and find our neighbors have broken into our home and hooked a hose up to our faucet and are stealing our water that way, we wouldn't expect the water company to do anything. That's our home, our faucet, and our water, on our property. It's not the water company's responsibility. Well, whether the water is taken from our faucet or from our water line makes no difference; it's on our property. That's not their responsibility -- it's ours. And the neighbor did not steal from them (it would be a different situation entirely if the neighbors had tapped into the main, which IS the water company's responsibility); they stole from us, so the issue is to be settled between us and the neighbors.

If someone steals from my garden, I'm not going to expect the feed store to replace the seeds. If someone steals from my closet, I'm not going to expect the thrift store to replace my clothing. If somebody comes into my drive and siphons out my tank, I'm not going down to Gina's to demand that she refill it for free. Private ownership of property is something we value very highly, and we do not expect anybody, particularly any business, to maintain liability for the use or abuse of their products once those products are in our possession.

The only reasonable thing that could be asked of the water company would be that they provide documentation that the line at the neighbors' address has been inactive, and the dates during which it has been inactive. Likewise, if one wanted to pursue the case in court, the Postal Service and the Electric Company both could be called upon to testify whether that home has been receiving mail or power, respectively, at that address during the same period of water utility inactivity. I have no doubt that they would gladly provide that information. Beyond that, I have no right to ask anything more of them. They have a job to do and they did it.

Conversely, we have a job to do, and we did not do it. If there must be finger pointing (beyond at the neighbors for stealing in the first place -- I think we all agree they are at fault on their end), we would have to admit that we've dropped the ball on maintaining our water line's integrity and being proactive about investigating the water use. We could have stopped this sooner had we done so. That responsibility lies entirely on us, and while we do not hold ourselves culpable for premeditated theft, we couldn't look to a company that did provide what it was contracted to provide without first looking very closely at ourselves. Due diligence -- it's not just a comfortable phrase to throw around, it's an important thing to practice daily. We've learned our lesson. The hard way.

Zorak and I have NO beef whatsoever with the water company.

And so, hopefully, this will soon come to a quiet, if awkward end. We can move forward into autumn and winter and all the fun that that brings (and hey - at least this winter the pipes will be properly insulated and won't freeze when we have a snap frost I didn't see coming! Yesssss!)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 22


I am SO glad to hear from you! I need your email! Please leave it in the comments section, and I'll get it from there, but not post the comment.

{{hugs}} Dy
*edited to add: Thanks, sweetie!!*

Check, check, 1,2, 3...

Lessons? *check*

Meals? *check*

Practice? *check*
(Sub-check-list for practice:
drinks *check*
uniform *check*
...with all the parts in the right place *check*
snacks *check*
chair!! *check*
cell phone for directions *check*
can-do attitude *check* - ish...
four children leaving the house
four children returning home *check-check*
(Did it have to be the same four children?)

Fret over things I cannot control? *CHECK*

Talk with girlfriends who make me laugh and snort coffee out my nose? *check, thankfully*

Some days are just like that.

Kiss those babies! *check*

Monday, August 20

Mystery... Solved

OK, so the Great Water Mystery of '07 seems to be coming to an end. I can't believe it.

I first blogged about it here. With an update, here. And I blogged when my mental capacity for logical reasoning was put to the test.

Today I went to the Water Co. to pay our past-due bill (because even under protest, you've got to pay it or they'll turn it off, and that wouldn't do any of us any good!) The counter lady finally let me talk to the maintenance guy. He was great. He ran his own numbers and tried to give me the, "Well, we're a household of four, and we use 143 gallons a day." Song. Dance. Whatever. I asked whether all four people shower daily? (Yep.) And he waters his garden, no? (Yes.) And his lawn? (Oh, um, why yes.) And does he, by chance, have a pool? (Yeah, yeah we do.) Well, then he listened to OUR water habits and it clicked. From that point, on, he was very helpful in helping me figure out how to find the problem.

We walked through all of the things to look for, and how we've already looked for them. Down to using the cell phones while one of us stood at the meter and watched as the other one said, "OK, I'm flushing the toilet now." Or "OK, I'm filling a one gallon jug right now." The meter works, down to the gallons. (It might have an error of <10%, which isn't something we can do anything about.)

I steeled myself, and asked, "Could you give me the reading for 123 Forever Home Rd.?" They pulled it up. There's no account for that address. There IS an account for 127 Forever Home Rd., but it's not active. Been listed as "vacant" for a couple of years. (On the county GIS, 127 IS the house next to ours. I don't know why their mail box says 123.)

The silence in the office was painfully loud, as the implications of this information sank in. People looked at one another and raised their eyebrows. I stood there, praying for all I'm worth, that none of the people standing there are related to either of the families historically associated with this property.

EmBaby broke the silence by slamming into the glass door and yelling at the baby who'd hit her in the face. Then the maintenance guy, with one look around (as if for confirmation or the go-ahead) raised an eyebrow at me and said, "So, um, can you go out of town for a week, or so? You know, lock your meter with a padlock when you go."

That broke the spell. The room erupted in nervous chuckles, and the knowing looks as people said, "Well, we know the C's and the H's, don't we?"

There's no well on the neighbors' property, so they aren't getting their water from a well, and now we know they aren't getting it from the county.

The general consensus is that we've been paying for their water all along. And that they knew it. They had theirs turned off sometime before we bought the place. With the shared power lines, and all of the other "oddities" we've encountered so far. (Strange cars in our meadow, down by the water lines, the barbed wire and tree stumps and spray paint across the drive, the guy who switched out our meter not able to say where the neighbors' meter was at the time, the water never being turned off while we were negotiating the purchase, it goes on and on... one oddity after another, all compiling to make it look like our neighbors are, well, less than stellar citizens. Certainly not good neighbors.)

I was able to choke out, "Well, 'not being from around here,' I never know when I'm about to step into a hornet's nest. But yes, that was our original thought." Nobody jumped me for it. They said from our records, our logs, the reputation that family has for grifting and such, along with everything else we've shown, it's almost a certainty that the neighbors are tapped into our water line.



Well, good to know I'm not imagining things. Or thinking we're so water-savvy, when, in fact, we're water-sucking buffaloes. That's good.

So why doesn't the knot in my stomach feel any smaller? Hmpf.

I'm gonna go kiss my babies, and try to remind them that they are always, always responsible for their actions. Be truthful, be kind, be diligent. It's so, so important.


Sunday, August 19

Divested of the plague, we carry on...

We've had a wonderful first week back to school. No, really, the little things that happened are little things that, well, happen. Life is funny; it does that. We simply pause, adjust, and move on.

In our Baldwin readings,
...we finished the couple of stories we had left of The Boy Who Knew What the Birds Said. We were all sad to see it end. It feels like there should be many more stories to be told. I suppose that's the sign of a gifted writer, and I look forward to more of Padraic Column's work. (His book, The Children's Homer, is one we've enjoyed more than once over the years.)
...and then we began Celtic Fairy Tales. The boys have noticed that these stories have a different tone, different themes, and different morals to them than the Greek and Roman stories we've been reading. A fun beginning. (Oh, James just came to me and said, "Wait! We don't have to print that one. We have it." I thought he meant we'd already printed it out, but, no, it was in 'the box in the car'! A real, bound copy! WOOHOO!)

We finished The Return of the Indian. Abrupt ending, there, but that left plenty of time for discussions about magic and mystery, people and places, and where we'd go with a magic key. (Because, seriously, they're 8, 7, and three -- how could we pass up all those lovely ideas?)

We finished The Railway Children. I did not, contrary to rumors spread by certain small males, cry as much as with The Littlest Angel. At least I could actually finish The Railway Children aloud, okay? Hrumpf. Okay.

Beowulf has slain Grendel (I'm guessing I don't need to post a spoiler alert with this, right?), and last night he sank to do battle with the Water Witch. Emily is not so fond of this story, but the boys? Riveted. Absolutely riveted. "His men were so loyal," said the boys. Yes. Yes, they were. What a lovely quality to notice, isn't it?

And I, in my Mommy Reading Time, just finished an enchanting journey through India with the Little Friend of All The World, Kim. It took a bit for me to delve into, as Kipling really does require more mental acuity than I willingly put forth in my personal reading time. But it's always, always worth the effort, and in the end, it was such a delightful way to spend a few summer evenings.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, August 18

Ah, and this is where we diverge...

So far, there have only been a couple of instances where I've found myself completely unable to connect with the football folks on any level at all. Of course, we haven't even had a game yet, so who knows what that means. Both of these situations have left me pretty jaded toward the football community, and more confident in what we're doing with our overall philosophy toward life.

First case:
This little guy we'll call Dexter. (No, of course it's not his real name - I could use his real name because there are about 6.8 million of them in the South, but that's okay. I like Dexter.) Poor kid cries. A lot. He's not used to this, he's never played sports before at all, and we've had record-breaking heat. He's probably 30 pounds overweight, but I think they weigh on a curve down here, anyway. His parents seem to be accustomed to his crying, and he gets about as much empathy from them as, say... well, none. He's a sweet boy. He cries and cries, but he gets out there and tries. Gotta give the little guy credit.

His Dad was a little encouraging. His Mom turned out to be one of the women I had avoided studiously at the football camp. You know the kind, her kids are harder on her than any other mother's children, her labor was more damaging/difficult/dangerous/etc. than anybody else's ever, her husband is a bigger slacker/less observant/stoopider than any other man on earth. These women, I Avoid. Like. The. Plague.

So, last week, Dexter is practicing, but he's favoring one arm. And he's crying. (He hadn't cried in two days!) His mother starts telling me that he'd hurt it the day before (Monday, I'd missed that practice), but that she'd made him keep practicing, using the argument that he'd "just sprained it real bad". She'd told him not to show the coach. And Tuesday morning, she had made him write his name, and he could do it, although he cried the entire time and "he couldn't eat", but she sent him to school anyway. I looked over at the boy, and could see from several yards off that his wrist was bigger than my ankles are 8.5 months into pregnancy! And there was a huge bump. My immediate thought was, "That kid has broken his arm!" As I turned to ask his mother just how stupid she really was (not normally something I'd actually do, but I'd reached a saturation point with this woman over the last two weeks), the boy walked up to tell his mother the coach had called him over and told him to go get it x-rayed. Right. Now.

She was a little put off that they had to go to the hospital. I don't know if it even dawned on her that she wasn't treating her child very well. Or that, perhaps, she was wrong. She wasn't in a hurry to pack it up, and made him carry all his gear. We haven't seen him since, and today was weigh-in. Zorak took James, so I don't know if Dexter made it for that, or if he'll be out for the season. It breaks my heart to think this little guy is going to live with the attitude that, somehow, it's his fault. With that woman, it always is the kids' fault or the husband's fault. I'll be sorry to see the little guy go, but not so much about not seeing his mother.

Second Case:
Ball-Carrying Positions. In this league, a player cannot weigh more than 85 pounds to play a ball-carrying position. The point being, if you're *that* much bigger than everybody else on the field and you have the ball most of the time, you'll be the cause of nightmares, broken bones, and possibly some post-season bed-wetting among the slight-of-build crowd. We have a couple who came in over 100#, so they obviously won't be in ball-carrying positions.

But I learned yesterday that one little boy lived at the coach's house this past week. The first week of school. He's 8. And he lived at the coach's house for "intensive dieting and physical therapy," so that he could "make weight". In seven days, this boy went from 91 pounds to 85 pounds. Now, lest you think I just "don't get it", I do. I remember the guys in high school walking around in sweat suits for a week before a weigh-in. I remember the guys taking protein shakes and power bars for wrestling weigh-ins. This isn't a completely foreign concept to me (although I do find it ironic that it's perfectly acceptable for a young man to do this to himself, when we acknowledge how damaging and dangerous this practice can be for young ladies -- but that's another topic for another day). I remember one guy getting sick and winding up in the hospital from taking diuretics, too.

But these kids, the ones I'm talking about today, are 7 and 8 years old! And it's not as if the coach and this kid's parents did this for his overall health and well-being, to help him develop a healthier lifestyle. No, he has two all-you-can-eat meals awaiting him "anywhere you want, after you make weight". Because who cares what he weighs once they've got him approved for a ball-carrying position?

There's more to life than football. And it's obvious that some people do not get it. I know some of you out there will disagree with me, and that's fine. I'm not going to back down from my position that children are not pawns. Children are not tools to be used. If this is all about the game, then why are we putting kids through this? Last I checked, a "game" doesn't involve this kind of manipulation in order to "win". And really, who's winning in these two cases? Nobody. Certainly not the children, that's for sure.

This time, I'll be the one to say it: we definitely aren't from around here.

Kiss those babies, and go easy on them. You only get one shot at this.

Friday, August 17

Cool Celtic Resource

Well, it looks interesting. I, obviously, do not know enough to know what to do with this information. But maybe one of you will. :-) At any rate, you can hear words pronounced, and that should make our Celtic Legends read-alouds go Much. More. Smoothly.


Thursday, August 16


Five of six are stricken with some kind of Tremors-like intestinal parasite. It hit... while we were at the market. (Grocery day, what better day to catch the plague?)

We stopped at the sporting goods store and started to run in (and I do mean r-u-n) to grab a new chin strap, when I opened the back door to find one child curled in a ball, crying silently. "My neck hurts."

Ack! Meningitis! Possibly Malaria! Wait, does malaria cause a stiff neck? No. Yellow fever? Hmmm. Wait, is it on the inside or the outside? "The inside, where I swallow." Oh. *phew* That's alright, then, isn't it?

Sprite, crackers, rice, and hot tea for all of us. Throat lozenges for the achy one. Doctor can see us en masse tomorrow at eleven. God bless that man.

But I didn't get a chair. We couldn't all stand still for that long. Ah, well, perhaps tomorrow.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 15

Home Economics, Part 1

Home Ec, as a high school course of study, takes a lot of knocks. Some, admittedly, are well-deserved. My brother took Home Ec in high school to get an "easy A", and to meet girls. (Both plans worked quite nicely.) Thirty years later, I took the same class (though not for the same reasons), with... the same teacher. I did learn a few things:

1) There is a school of thought that says you will go straight. to. hell. if you open your cookbook and leave it on the counter while you're cooking. The only people allowed in heaven are those who dutifully transfer all their recipes onto index cards (preferably then laminating the cards), and keep cookbooks stored out of the kitchen at all times.

Yeah, this did wonders for the instructor's legitimacy in the eyes of a bunch of junior high kids. I can tell you now that if it weren't for the grease stains and bits of stuff stuck to my recipe pages, I wouldn't ever be able to find the right pages. I hope they have double ovens in hell. :-S

2) All you need to know about nutrition you can learn from the Four Food Groups, no, I mean, the Food Pyramid, erm, wait, from the Five A Day poster... and all you plebes who are still following the Basic Four Square from the Stone Age know nothing. Not like the government NOW knows. NOW it's infallible. NOW we've learned all there is to know. (Until the next revision.)

Nothing like a little PBS cartoon-based educational film to prepare young people for going out to forage for themselves in a couple of years, eh?

3) You will have to model in front of a hundred other students (who also don't want to be there) whatever hideous project you end up sewing. Whether that impacts your project choice or not -- entirely up to you. But now you've been warned.

This is when I learned that knits are not for the intemperate, and that a sewing machine WILL sew straight through your pinky finger and spit it back out the other side before you can get out enough bad words to be sent to the Principal's office. (True story.)

And that's... it. That is all I learned after nine long months of taking Home Economics.

Imagine my surprise when I learned you can actually Major in that in college. (You can, wait, what? No. *snort* You can't be serious?) YES! And what's even better? It's a great degree. A degree in Home Economics is a very rich, well-developed Bachelor of Science degree that offers far more than the milktoast high school programs would lead most people to believe. Some of the studies included in college level Home Economics programs include:

food science
chemistry (got a little carried away, there)
dietary development needs
child development
home management (budgeting, etc.)
cultural studies/sociology
soil conservation
water management
safety and sanitization (both private and commercial)
food management...

There is a host of other beneficial topics, depending on the focus of study for degree plans within BSHE programs. What a fantastic degree program! Many of the programs I've looked at include teaching certification, corelated to the specialization the student chooses. The only drawback I see in the Home Economics field is that so very much of it is relegated to government jobs. There's no reason for the private sector not to jump on these. There are so many innovative opportunities that are waiting to be made use of by an enterprising individual with a Home Ec. degree. But I guess if most of us just don't know about it outside the out-dated high school classroom set up, it would make sense that it often slips under the radar for those not previously inclined to look into the social services or service/food industry degree applications.

Anyway, all this to say that we've always planned to include "Home Ec", in some manifestation, in the children's studies, but in a vague, not-certain-how-to-pull-it-off, sort of way. Now we're getting closer to building a defined scope and sequence for a year-long high school level course that would work beautifully toward providing children with the knowledge and tools they'll need to manage the Economics of their Homes, as well as to develop an interdisciplinary approach (an almost holistic approach, really) to managing their own decision making processes. It's a lot bigger than making a t-shirt and brownies, and I'm really excited about it.

In the meantime, of course, we cannot just sit idly by and "waaaiiiittt, wait for it..." We include them in all ages and stages in discussions on money management, budgeting choices, allocating funds and projecting plans for future options, preparing meals, maintaining the home (the car, the lawnmower), caring for our bodies, meeting the needs that need to be met, in general, "how it all comes together". Perhaps that's what's helping the high school course idea to gel: seeing what needs to be addressed, and then, addressing it.

And that's how we spent our evening after the children were in bed: discussing ideas, options, tie-ins, and benefits of various courses of study. What a delightful evening!

If you could create, or re-write a high school level course, what would you choose? What would you do differently? What would you incorporate? And have you done it? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Kiss those babies!

School, Schedules, and Reading Aloud

According to the weather channel, it's 104 outside right now. (It's 108, according to the bank display.) But what's the humidity? Nobody is willing to say. Is it because they think we'll all become despondent and burrow into the earth until Halloween? (Because we have been thinking about it, already.)

We're back in full-on school mode now. It's good to be back. It's good to have routine. The children didn't forget *all* of their lessons. James needs a bit of review with math, and John needs a bit of review with phonics. Otherwise, though, they're pretty well on board.

I did panic on two books, because we aren't quite finished with them yet and I know we've been diligent about our studies up until the last month... and you know the monologue that follows:
what are we doing wrong? How did this happen? How can we be so far from done when it's time for the next year?!?! Am I just not teaching the material? Are they simply not mastering it and so we are not moving on?
Then I remembered: we didn't start those two books until November of last year. So, that would put us, oh, right about where we are. Ah. Yes. Time for more coffee.

This year looks a lot like last year, with the exception of the next level books.

Monday - Thursday, regular school.
Fridays - science and history project days.

Daily Work:
Reading (Includes History, Science, Literature and Free Reading)
Writing (James is going to hate this part, but hopefully he'll survive.)

Mon, Wed:

Tues, Thurs:

James and John will both have spelling 1x a week. They don't seem to need much more of that just now, although we plan to stay alert and flexible. We're still working our way through the Ayers Extended Word list from Writing Road to Reading. Memory work will come from a variety of sources. This year we would like to host an Open House, although I'm still not sure how to put that on. If you've done them, please share your ideas, tips, stunning successes, and would-rather-die-than-repeat-them failures. Pretty please?

The older two are thoroughly enjoying Stories of Beowulf. That little one, though, he's the reason mothers don't read aloud. Not if they can help it.
Whosis Bee-oh-wuff? Why? Whys him dooos dat? Whosis Rotgar? Whys hes not fighting? Whats a sea-people? Whosis they? Whatsis theys names?
This is particularly challenging, as this book was written in 1908. It has a cadence and flow that take me a while to slip into comfortably. I've broken it into a formula.

No flow = no comfort.
No comfort = verbal bloopers.
Verbal bloopers = utter, riotous chaos.

By the time I've got the big ones to quit sniggering at my bloopers (although some of them are funny), the Small One has thought of more questions.

And heaven help me if it's a book with illustrations. It seems this small one has visual sensors in his fingers. And they're slow to process information. Every illustration means an additional ten minutes of waiting, waiting, explaining, waiting. It took me an HOUR to read a chapter of The Railway Children last night. An HOUR. This is not Dante we're reading, here.

But *inhale, exhale, try not to hyperventilate* to him it is. His "whosis" and "whatsis" and "whyses" are just as important and necessary to him as the questions Zorak and I ask on the porch at night about raising young men and DangerGirl into adulthood. Just as important as finding the mouse in Goodnight Moon. Just as necessary as learning to talk, to read, to Be. And if I can suck it up now and not scar his memories of these stories, he will eventually learn that the story makes much more sense when told in some sort of connected fluid momentum.

And at least he doesn't hang from my forehead and scream anymore. So there is progress.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 14

OK, I admit it. I was never a little boy!

For the most part, boys are so easy, so intuitive. I love my boys. But there are a few things I just don't get, and I'm willing to attribute them to my being female.

1. Peeing on the toilet lid. Granted, this is in the middle of the night, and if you're awoken from a dead sleep to answer a call to nature, you're not expected to be at your Rocket Scientist Best. Still. Is there no warning system anywhere in the wiring that lets them know something is not right? If Clorox hadn't invented their wipes, I probably wouldn't have been able to bring myself to have touched a toilet in the last six years.

2. Testosterone Play. I don't get that. How, exactly, are you to know the difference between being spiked in the head from behind with a football in fun, or in fiery aggression? You know, if one of my friends walked up behind me and slammed her diaper bag into the back of my head, the response would not be one of frivolity and camaraderie. Ever. But the boys on the field seem to know which is which. I have no idea how to impart this information to my sons. Hopefully they can infer what they'll need in order to survive. Meanwhile, I'm on the sidelines, feeling like Jane Goodall in her early years.

3. Faces. Silly faces in the mirror, in the window, in store display glass, at one another. I don't mind this one, but I also don't get it. It's not a game, it's a pastime. A hobby. A Way of Life. Little boys feel about making silly faces the way little girls feel about... I don't know, something else. Something pretty darned important to little girls. But the faces -- they're never ending!

That's pretty much it. Not bad, really. I do consider myself blessed. It's a good life, this. It's funny, a little stinky (one of the hazards of bodily function jokes, which I will never admit to the boys, but Zorak knows, I do find mostly funny), and always interesting. And there is nothing quite like watching your son do something, knowing his yardstick is Dad, and beaming with love and pride and joy in his eyes when he feels like he's getting it right. That look, I hope to see over and over again in the years to come. That look, I think I understand.

Kiss those babies!

Clickbook Update -- It works!

I was going to say I could die happy, now. But no. I have a lot of printing to do, first. ;-) You may remember I blogged some time ago about finding this print manager, ClickBook, and that I wanted to try it out. Being the genetic procrastinator that I am, it is now six months later, and I gave it a shot.

I just printed out the first three chapters of The Baldwin Project's Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children, using ClickBook -- and

I have a perfect little book in my hands!

The first three chapters, including front matter and all the images (a total of 26 pages, with my settings) printed out using 7 sheets of paper. Seven! The best I could do before that would have been 13 sheets! Do you *know* how delightful that is?

And I can have it bound at Staples for about $2.00!!

And it fits in the boys' backpacks! Or, in my backpack. Oh. Oh. This is delightful.

I can make workbooks based on our reading (because I have those offbeat children who clamor for workbooks, as fate would have it).

I can make the church booklets in the blink of an eye! No more brain-straining formatting for me! Hee hee!

Ooooooo, I can make my own day planners! (Alright, now I'm just feeding the monkey. But let me bask, okay?)

Now that I've listed a pro (or three), there are a few quirks:
1) The little second side printing instruction sheet that comes out with your print job? It LIES. Don't believe it, unless you want to print your pages upside down. So, do it the way it says not to do it (at least on my Brother HL-2070N, anyway.)

2) I downloaded the free trial copy, and it prints with an annoying banner in the header and footer of EVERY PAGE. "Blue Squirrel *" at the top, and "ClickBook Trial Version * Sales: etc. etc. etc." It seems obvious that the "trial version" footer will not print if I buy the software. I need to confirm that the "blue squirrel" header won't print, either, because it's annoying.

3) Staples is not, for some silly reason, OPEN at one in the morning, and so I cannot toodle on down there right-stinkin'-now to have something bound.

But you know, truly, I can live with most of that. Staples has to open eventually. And if this continues to work this easily, I'm most definitely going to buy the full version. (I have seven days left to figure it out.) And, eh, ignore directions? Not. A. Problem.

Our school year just got a whole lot more affordable. Life is good.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, August 13

High School

I stole this from Staci. She didn't tag me, but that's okay. She likes me, anyway. :-)

1. Who was your best friend?
I don't remember having a best friend in high school. I did have several wonderful friends, though.

2. Did you play any sports?
Track my sophomore year, but that was b/c my ride also did track and I needed something to do. I wasn't a sportsy person. At least, not until I became an adult and "backpacking" was considered a sport. :-)

3. What kind of car did you drive?
1971 Chevy pickup. Still have it.

4. It’s Friday night. Where were you?
Hmmm, either at work or out with friends.

5. Were you a party animal?
The mere thought makes me laugh.

6. Were you considered a flirt?
I cringe to even think about it. I didn't think so, but looking back, ugh, probably.

7. Were you in the band, orchestra or choir?

8. Were you a nerd?

9. Were you ever suspended or expelled?
Oh, no. Nono. That would have been terrifying.

10. Can you sing the fight song?
Too many high schools, and I never learned any of them.

11. Who was your favorite teacher?
Barbara Harber, the Academic Decathalon teacher.

12. What was your school mascot?
Freshman year - Badger Pups
Sophomore year - Bears
Junior year - Eagles
Senior year - Badgers, then Matadors

13. Did you go to the Prom?
Twice, but not my senior year.

14. If you could go back, would you?
No. I survived, and did it almost solely so that I could live this very life. While it's tempting to go back and undo the stoopid mistakes, that would also undo who I am now. Sort of that whole killing a butterfly thing. Makes me twitchy.

15. What do you remember most about graduation?
It was hot. My mother was mad that I wanted to go to dinner with friends and not out with my family (Mom, sister, and niece). I had agreed to go out with family, but Mom pitched such a fit during the actual ceremony that nobody wanted to go. So we skipped it. Niece went out and partied with the kids who graduated. *sigh*

16. Where were you on Senior Skip Day?
I have no idea, but I was on campus somewhere, in classess and all that good stuff.

17. Did you have a job your senior year?
Um, yes. I worked as a telemarketer. I did a buttload of volunteer work, also.

18. Where did you go most often for lunch?
Jr. year, we went to Dion's pizza. Sr. year, we all walked to somebody's house for lunch. There were four of us all within two blocks of the school that year.

19. Have you gained weight since then?
Not really. I wasn't what you'd call "wispy" to begin with.

20. What did you do after graduation?
Went to see my Dad in the hospital, then back to the hotel.

21. What year did you graduate?

22. Who was your Senior Prom Date?
I didn't actually go to prom my Senior year. Junior year I went with Dale Hester. He put so much into making it such a sweet evening. Good guy. Sophomore year I went with Paul Lee, one of my dearest friends - we doubled with another friend and his girlfriend (that was awkward, actually). Both were great guys, and we had a lovely time.

23. Are you going/did you go to your 10 year reunion?
I'd wanted to go, but the date conflicted with Corona Days. I'm glad we went to Corona Days, with family, instead. Those are the people who mean so much to me now, and that was good. Maybe I'll catch the 20th?

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, August 12

Back to a small family

Oh, it was so good to see Kris and David today. They look good. Tired, obviously been on the road this week, but good. Contented. Happy. Enthusiastic. You know, *good*.

I think getting their wee ones back under their wings did wonders for the enthusiasm level.
It was helpful to be able to get all the paperwork, filing, searching, loading, shipping, etc. done without worrying about the boys, and that was good. But once a mama, always a mama, and it just feels better to have your chicks back in your own nest.
We had a fantastic visit, and then they headed out. We'd planned to get right back to work on the windows, but...

it was over 100' today...

and that ceiling fan on the porch sure is nice...

combined with iced tea...

and uber-friendly butterflies...

well, the windows can wait.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, August 11

Did you know...

You can tape a glow stick to a water rocket and extend your shooting time by a good two hours? Good to know, huh?

I might have put a twitchy, stammering halt to the firing of the rockets after yesterday (muttering something about eight thousand gallons per launch), but the boys discovered that the rockets fly better using *less* water than they'd begun with. So, one 8oz. cup of water gives you ten minutes of pure entertainment. (Set up, priming, pumping, countdown, ooohhhh-ahhhhh, and then -- search and rescue.) That's really not a bad ROI.

Today I cleaned. Not the daily swish 'n tidy clean, but a gooooooddddddd clean. Zorak took the older four to the ball field. The younger two slept until ten. It was blissful to get caught up. Also (the highlight of my day), I can once again use the bathroom without my feet and/or legs sticking to some random surface. Yes, I know. The inside scoop on a home with six males in it.


So, then. Let's see, what else is going on? Oh, random Em shot: I love those little fat arms, that expressive face, the duck fluff and wisps of hair.

It's hard to believe James used to have duck fluff and fat little arms and cheeks. He takes off his helmet now and reveals a head of wet, thick hair atop the flushed and browning face of a young man... young men don't have duck fluff. And I didn't take the camera to practice. But I need to. If he doesn't see me, I might be able to get a photo of him where he isn't making a silly face. (The missing teeth on either side of the front teeth aren't helping my case, either. It's just too easy to suck in your lip and do a gopher-smile right before the shutter clicks.) And yes, I know that one day I'll look wistfully back on the gopher-boy shots, so I take plenty in preparation for that time. I'm just not there yet.

The boys' parents arrive tomorrow to fetch them back to their new home. We'll be sad to see them go, but glad that they'll be getting settled in. And they'll only be a few hours away, which will be nice. It's been such a good two weeks in so many ways. I feel guilty for saying out how absolutely exhausted I am, because it sounds like I'm pinning it on the kids. It's not. Well, it's not those kids. It's the small, somewhat parasitical one at the moment that's doing me in. But all-in-all, I think I've been able to hang with the herd okay. And I hope the herd has had a good time, too. We've got to try to get to the Wildlife Refuge in the AM for the sketching we weenied-out on this afternoon, and back by ten. Can we do it? I have no idea. But we'll give it our best shot.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, August 10

Still Hot!

We went to the Space & Rocket Museum yesterday, all prepped and ready for a full day of exploring in the air conditioned building. We made it one hour before two of the children decided we didn't really mean it when we said not to wander off. They wandered off. I felt a blood vessel pop in the back of my head. And we left.

Eventually, children grow up and learn that you mean what you say. (As long as you really do mean what you say.) But honestly, sometimes consistency is no fun, even for the grown ups. I wanted to ride on the motion thingy, too! Ah, well, I do look forward to going back sometime. And I'm willing to bet there will be no deviation from the rules when we do. So, there's that to look forward to.

We had the pretense of a storm come through this afternoon. It toyed with us, hovering above us with its impressive Black Clouds, hammering all sorts of thunder at us. We quivvered with anticipation, and got... more humidity. *sigh* Oh, well, it was exciting while it lasted.

The guys did get the new ladder up on the barn. It's now Smidge-accessible. Yay! Looks great, too. (From what I've heard - I haven't actually gone down there. It's hot, don't you know?)

Then we decided, eh, what's five liters of water when the meter says we've already gone through 400 gallons today, and ran a test launch of the newest water rocket design. Good stuff. Sadly, it seems I am completely incapable of using the video feature on our camera. So, all you get is this:

The boys were quite proud of their work, and really thrilled with the end results. Good job, everyone!! The cousins don't know it yet, but we'll be sending this puppy home with them. It's nice to have a little something to show off what you've done over the summer, right?

They're all at the quarry right now. Hopefully, heading home so that James can eat, change, and make it to football practice. Smidge and EmBaby are out. cold. Poor little things. It's like watching miniature dachsunds try to keep up with Great Danes. The nap should do them wonders. I know it's reviving me considerably. (And oh, momanna98, I *do* get tired. I've been a walking zombie all week. We won't speak of the cranky part, though. That's, um, classified information. *grin*) The kitchen is clean, whites are sorted, food is ready, and I'm going to curl up on the couch with a fresh cup o'joe and a book!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 8

An Outing

Outings are such fun!

Wednesday we hit the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. In spite of the heat, the children all had a very nice time. We bought cheap birding glasses for five bucks, and a handful of arrowheads for a quarter a piece. Not authentic, but certainly a whole lot of fun!

We picked up a tree identification pamphlet, and the boys figured out quite a few new-to-us trees. We also experienced the joy of having this little guy show off his kill by landing on several of the kids.
We got there a bit late in the day to see much bird activity, I think. There was a Small Blue Heron out on the water, and a few up in the canopy that we could hear, but couldn't find.

We hit the observation building -- which is beyond fascinating, and a place we will be frequenting this fall and winter! WOW!

We stopped for a picnic by the water.

Then we hiked the trail through the cypress grove and around through the fields. It was a good outing. The boys all wanted to spend some time sketching Hawkeye, the red-tailed hawk who lives at the Refuge, so we headed back that way. Isn't she a beauty?
EmBaby and I hung out in the shade of the trees for a bit, wandered back inside, wandered around... all the while, four little boys sat in front of this bird, drawing, drawing, drawing. They sat for a good half hour, and would have continued on for a long time still, but EmBaby was done being hot, sweaty, and *up*. It was time to go.

Promises all around that we'll go back to do more sketching before they leave. (Mental note to take more food next time. I got hungry.)

A good day. A very good day.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 7

This is a rush, man. Just wild.

This is why God gives me one child at a time. I don't do exponential increases well. I mean, we had a great day, but it was =fast (see the streaks? See how fast that was?) And it was loud. And it started with an earth shattering ka-boom. They all emerged in one large, hungry, talkative group this morning, wanting food and teaching and conversation. (I'll shoot you straight, camp cooks and counselors are now among my most revered heroes. Those people can face larger hoardes at six in the morning, and do it with a smile! Wow. Truly. Wow. Because it's scary when they all start moving toward you like that...)

So, we did Latin, math, and a little reading. Then, being out of fruit (all of it), milk (why don't we have a cow yet?), and creamer (seriously, how did I let *that* happen?), we called it good and headed to the store. Stores. Fruit, milk, creamer, yogurt. Man we really do need a cow. And then, oy vey, where was Charles when it was time to buy the football stuff? (Oh. Yeah. Heh. At work. That probably has a lot to do with why we could buy the football stuff.)

You know you didn't get the brightest employee in the store - the locally owned sporting goods store that caters to the local teams, and the very one everybody shops at - when the clerk asks what you need, you list four standard items... and she completely crumbles. Fell apart and looked at me like I wasn't even speaking English. Like we weren't the hundredth family to come in asking for exactly the same things: padded chin strap, good mouth guard, practice jersey, and socks? Seriously, I could see a path worn in the carpet that followed our exact journey from the mouth guards to the checkout. Evidently, it was worn there by the other employees. The ones who didn't look lost when their customers asked, "Are these the good mouth guards, or is there really a difference?" Or torqued when their customers paid with a debit card, causing the employee to get off the phone to dial the transaction in. *sigh* But we made it, and DangerGirl managed to not crack anybody in the head with the bat display. Yay us.

Then, Zorak vetoed most of the things we bought. I've been informed that James was the only kid on the field tonight in "a white jersey and black socks". This, it seems, is a huge factor. A huge factor for a group of boys running about in fishnet crop tops. Riiiight.

Well, I was told to get black socks. Coach said so. (My new excuse for anything I botch, for the record. I'll let ya know how long I can milk that one.) And they were out of black practice jerseys in James' size. The entire rest of the team, I guess, had purchased them all, with the help of the other clerks in the store. Oddly enough, he loves the practice shirt -- the one item I nearly didn't get. (You know, on that point, could NOBODY have warned me that they are holey and see-through, and... look like that? Seriously, I thought she was joking when she held that thing up. Like some kind of newbie hazing thing.)

We got the super whomperdine padded chin strap with small guard dogs, a proximity alarm system, and a GPS receiver. Zorak said it's something-something too something-or-other.

There also was some issue or concern with the mouth guard, but it eventually passed muster. For now. (Although I have been informed they have mint scented guards. You know, just FYI.) I did get snapped at during the molding process. If you haven't done it before, evidently you simply haven't got the right amount of empathetic encouragement to offer. Yes, that's right, I'm an unsympathetic meanie, and was told to GO. NOW. But it's molded, and Zorak and James have created a shared, (evidently rather painful) experience between them.

Then, James practiced. First practice in pads. One of the hottest days of the year, so far. It was pretty harsh. He told Zorak after practice, "You know, I'm just not sure I'm seeing a return on expending so much energy." (Ah, the beauty of genetics - that boy is all ours!) This is going to be a very interesting season, indeed.

Kiss those hot, sweaty babies!

Monday, August 6


Fear is seeing a "what's for dinner" thread on your favorite forum, and realizing you have no. idea.

Thank heaven for pasta!

Kiss those babies!

To Cousins! To Friends! To Life!

I am a horrible host. We have been having so much fun with the boys, and I haven't taken hardly any pictures. Their mother is going to want to strangle me for this. But there's so much to do, and we stay so busy that I forget we didn't hire the professional photographer to follow us around. :-D

The boys have settled into the fold so well. We're really proud of them, and are enjoying them so much. We looked forward to it, but in a different way. What we're getting out of this right now is just a whole lot more. I'm so glad they got to come be with us.

Today we went back to church. Our church. The church John asked about two weeks ago. The church Smidge asked about last week. When the cousins said they'd brought church clothes, I figured God was done whispering to me and about ready to thwack me in the head and we'd best get back to it. We never found anything closer, but that's okay. The final decision is that we'll go on Sundays, and if we do decide we need a Wednesday activity, we will look for something local to fill that niche. Weeknight activities aren't usually heavy on doctrine, and so I don't think we'd have difficulty joining in with some place for that. Fellowship doesn't know doctrine, and that's what the Wed. night activities usually are -- fellowship. Community. Good stuff. OH, MAN, it felt good to be back "home", too!

Yesterday, the guys all worked on projects. Me-Tae and Me-Wah came out for the afternoon. We enjoyed supper together, Me-Wah toasted their anniversary that day. (HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, GUYS!) It was neat to have three couples together for the celebration: Me-Tae and Me-Wah, celebrating 23 years together; Zorak and I coming up on twelve; and T. and P. soon to wed. Things like that warm the heart, and foster hope all around. Just very encouraging.

"The men" went to the river to fish and ride the boat. The girls (aka - those of us who just didn't see the allure of sitting on rocks a hot 'n sticky bank, covered in mosquitos, trying to keep the Small One from getting sucked downstream) stayed home and visited. T and Me-Tae helped me switch out EmBaby's clothes to *sniff* 2T. Smidge was tempted to stay with us, until it dawned on him...
"OH! The mens is going. The girls is staying. *pause while he digests this news* I is a man! I's going!"
And off he went, without a backward glance.

All the kids had a fantastic time. No fish were caught, but that didn't dampen the boys' spirits. There were frogs to catch. Lightning bugs to chase. They came back just as happy and exhausted as young boys should at the end of a warm summer day.

They've been busy with projects and interesting things. Reading good books. Making up stories. I look around and think, "OK, this is really good stuff." I mean, it's challenging, particularly for one with perpetual stamina/motivation issues, but not challenging-in-a-bad-way.

Tomorrow we start back to school. Fourth grade for James. Second grade for John. Maths for Smidge. I've been gathering books and lesson ideas for the cousins - Cousin M. is starting third grade, and Cousin S. is starting 6th. (Wow. Ok. Sixth grade has a lot of stuff in it!) I hope they enjoy it, and I hope they get some good stuff out of it. And I hope I don't really mess up something important and end up making things harder for them. (Ohhhh, talk about guilt! Do they make a card for that? "Sorry I confused your kid this summer.")

But, if I have any hope at all of getting up before they do, I'd better get to bed ten minutes ago! :-)

Kiss those babies!

OCD manifests itself is intersting ways

I have become absolutely obsessed with this stoopid water issue.

20 gallons during the night. That would mean somebody got up and flushed the toilet over and over and over again, for, what, thirty minutes (if they waited for the tank to fill each time). We didn't even make coffee before we went down to check it.

0 gallons used from the time we left for church (8:30) until we returned home (3:30) Seven hours and no movement.

And then, 90 gallons registered through our meter from our return until all the littles got tucked into bed.


3 pots of coffee (1.5 gal - didn't rinse the filter or the carafe)

6 tooth brushings (no water running, just wet the brush and then rinse the sink once when you're all done - total time for all kids, under a minute, so 3 gallons there, if that much - I think the faucets have low-flow, too))

10 toilet flushes (with a flow of 1.6gpf, for a total of 16 gallons for toilet water use.)

1 quick, timed five-minute shower (1.5gpm flow x 5 = 7.5)

That is all. we. did. No laundry. No dishwasher. No car washing. No bathing the dog. I didn't even wash my face!

What is that? 1.5+3+16+7.5 = 28 gallons

So, ok, let's round up, just for fun - let's just piss away a little water, here -

2+5+20+10= 37 gallons

That still doesn't explain where the remaining 53 gallons went!

That there have now been two fairly long periods where the meter change was zero indicates very strongly that there is not a leak in the lines. (Once, the night of the 3rd-4th, and then again today, during church.)

I'm ready to get out there and dig up the entire line with my bare hands to find out what's going on. Zorak, thankfully, is more patient, more laid-back, more Jimmy Buffet like. That's a good thing.

There are other, wonderful things going on, too. So I'm going to end this entry. (There is nothing I can do at one in the morning, anyway, other than wander down to the meter every half hour and become "that crazy lady who digs in the weeds by the side of the road in the middle of the night", which won't help anybody. I know.)


Saturday, August 4

Mystery Update. :-O

Well, there was zero water usage during the night. None. Numbers didn't move one iota between 2:00 and 6:55 this morning. Five hours, no activity.

That pretty much rules out a leak.

So far today, we have run one load of wash (12.5 gallons) and one load of dishes (7.5 gallons). Patrick has watered the garden (10 gallons - he filled a five-gallon bucket twice).

The meter reads 130 gallons.

There is, obviously, a problem.


Did we mention the power pole comes onto our property and the transformer splits it in our front yard, over to our house and to the neighbors' home? Yeah, if we want to move our transformer, or make any changes that will affect our neighbors' power, we'd have to pay to have poles and a transformer set for them on their property. Grandfathered situations, family property and such, being what they are.

There were two other structures on this place at one time, both with power, water, and septic. Makes me wonder what else is tied to our utilities...

We can't find our neighbors' meter anywhere on the road.

Interesting stuff, isn't it?


We have a mystery on our hands. The water company had come and switched out our meter. They didn't warn us first, so that was a bit unpleasant, in itself. A more organized woman would march boldly down to the office and demand to know what's going on. I, however, scrambled to pull up our bills to make sure I'd remembered to *pay* the water bill before I called anybody at all, even Zorak. "Oh, yes," they say. "We've turned off your water. We're switching out your meter. Your old one was broken. We don't know for how long, but at least for several years." (Nice to know y'all are on top of things, and, uh, thanks for the heads-up on cutting the line.) It took the man many hours to get the new meter installed. Most of which he spent in the truck drinking tea and smoking. (When I walked down to talk to him, he said he was having trouble getting it installed. But then he left ten minutes later without ever doing anything else to the meter. Weird.)

So they installed the new meter, and neglected to record the initial number. Our first water bill was for 22,000 gallons. I've still got pericardial damage from opening that one.

Forward to the last few months, when I've begun paying closer attention to our bill. We're in a drought, and I began to wonder just what our water usage is, and whether we're doing all we can. Hmmm... 4700 gallons one month, 5800 gallons another month, 6200 gallons... odd. We're pretty stingy with our water consumption. I don't *think* we use that much. Really, I don't.

So I did some poking around. Some number crunching. Found some water use calculators and plugged in our information, using all the specs from our low-use, high-efficiency appliances... added to our habits and routines... um, says we should be going through just a hair over 2,000 gallons a month. A shorthair. ;-) Hmmm, we may have a leak.

We dug up a spongy spot along the line, where it enters the house, expecting to find a leak. No leak. (Bad gutters, and thus, the spongy spot. Yuck. But no leak.) We've poked around all up and down the line, but there are no signs of water leakage along the line. We checked the line where it crosses the creek (it goes up and over, and isn't well-insulated there, so we expected that to be our 'ah-ha! gotcha!' moment. Nope. No leak.

My next step was to turn off the water at the house and leave it off for an entire day. (This isn't something you do spontaneously in a home with people who still wear diapers... or when you have company. Just, not.) But they beat me to it! We got the bill for this last month, and it's for a whopping 11,200 gallons!


That's 373 gallons of water a DAY! A day! We don't have a pool. The kids only shower about twice a week (much to the chagrin of the cousins when they first arrived, but still). We don't water the yard at all (that much is obvious). We water the garden with rain water and the condensation from the HVAC. According to all the water use calculators, we're running about 70 gallons a day for our home. So, uh, where are the other 300 or so going?

We monitored our use today. According to our estimates, we should have used 100 gallons (the older cousins came back, *everybody* showered today, I did lots of laundry, and Zorak ran some intentional water use experiments). According to our meter, we used almost 600 gallons.

We'll continue to monitor it at intervals over the next few days, to define the parameters of the "leak". This is what we've found today:
* between 11:30 and 11:50, the meter did not move at all (373 gallons a day comes out to about .25 gpm, plus the dishwasher was running, and that's 7.5 gal per load, so the tens number on the meter should have moved during that time, at least a little, if there was a leak);
* during a fifteen minute interval in the afternoon, the meter registered ten gallons (Zorak measured 9 gallons in the process);
* the meter shows a use of 440 gallons between the hours of 3PM and 1:30AM. (Our estimated use, timing and monitoring everybody's movement all day, was no more than 100 gallons)

If there is a "leak", it's not a consistent leak. It's an intermittent leak. It's a leak that really picks up when people are home, doing things. It's a strange leak. What do you think? We'll be doing a bit more investigating over the weekend, and hope to be able to solve the mystery by Monday morning. We think the answer may be surprising.

The kids are dying to know "for sure"!

And while that's not been the highlight of my day, that has preoccupied my thoughts all day, so that's why I posted it and not adorable kid photos of the boys and EmBaby running about like a small, rural farmer gang. (They are SO cute!) The boys all helped build a ladder for the barn. Cousin M was especially helpful, and he did such a fine job. They all got a turn with the drill and the saw. They did a fantastic job, and are so proud. I'll get a photo of "the hanging of the ladder" this weekend. We're really proud of them.

We did hit the quarry today - it was everything they'd dreamed it'd be. Cousin S went off the rope swing. Said it was "scary as heck" at first, but then he "was addicted". Well, that's not a bad addiction, if you've gotta have one. Cousin M spent hours on the canoe and announced that he thinks he's mastered the fastest way to paddle it. EmBaby (aka Chicken Jane) took quite the dust bath. They're so much more... er, decorative, when you're sweaty to begin with. (blech) All is well, and all is quiet, and I'm going to follow suit.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, August 3

Something Crafty!

I did it! And nobody died! *savor the moment with me* Ahhhhhh.

Today was the first non-chaotic, non-purpose-driven day all week. It was -- ah, nice. The boys got up, got dressed, enjoyed a light breakfast, took out the compost, read some books, played some games, researched "ticks of Northern Alabama", trekked to the creek. (For the record, I could not have done it in that order, myself. I didn't want to go out on the porch after reading up on ticks, let alone down to the creek. But eh, they're little. They do that.)

That all took place before ten this morning. The children re-emerged from the swampy backwoods of the creek to watch The Price is Right (I don't get that, but that's okay), and then played some more.

They were so helpful. So sweet. So... gosh, I felt guilty.

So I hauled them into the kitchen and they helped me make playdoh.

You pretty much need to quadruple most of the recipes out there. Or, at least we did.

Talk about a BIG HIT. It was amazing. And when it was time to clean up, they cleaned up. We ate lunch. Read a short bio of Julius Caesar. Time for EmBaby's nap -- everybody grab a book and read for an hour. *sigh* I love structure.

They made it (early, even!) to the last day of football camp. It ended with just enough time for Zorak to drop Em, Smidge and me at the house and head to the baseball game with the older kids. The small ones and I held a matchbox demolition derby in the kitchen, watched a movie, and got ready for bed. Zorak and the big ones returned around eleven -- absolutely exhausted. Zorak started to read to Smidge, but he fell asleep so Smidge joined us in the Big Kids' Room. The children stayed awake for the first part of a chapter in The Railway Children, but we'll have to finish that in the morning. Maybe over playdoh.

Heh. This is fun! I feel like the kid who just mastered riding a bike without training wheels. LOOK, Ma! I can do it! (Of course, it helps that the children are so helpful and sweet. That really does help tremendously. It also most likely covers a number of shortcomings in my skills and abilities. Yeah. I know.)

Today was just the thing, really. Precisely what the doctor ordered. Or, would have ordered if I'd called him and asked for something. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, August 2

Book Reviews

I think it's Amy (The Foil Hat) who likes to go through the recipe sites online and read, not the recipes, but the recipe reviews. She notes the tendency for people to write some really interesting things that can't help but make you giggle. Read enough reviews and you're bound to read something along the lines of,
"Well, this recipe is fantastic! I used potatoes instead of eggplants, and substituted the lamb, pork, and beef chunks with firm tofu, and then I dipped it in bread crumbs and deep fried it instead of coating it in sheep's blood and broiling (couldn't get any sheep's blood). It was SO EASY to make this recipe! You've got to try it!"
(Um, which one? The one you're reviewing, or the one you made?)

I had one of those moments tonight.

In the eye-blearing joy of compiling my wish list for books for our Middle Ages study, I noticed that Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth is actually part of a trilogy. Huh. I had no idea. I know, that particular book is a bit convoluted. The boys ended up rather fond of Esca and Marcus, though, and even today, when Cousin S. mentioned the eagle bearer in one of his computer games, both boys shouted, "The EAGLE!" And launched off on an excited, charade-driven exposition. It took me ten minutes to rein them in. So, it was already in the forefront of my mind when I saw the listing.

Hmmm, I wonder what people have to say about the second book? Only nine reviews. (Well, her books do tend to fill a fairly small niche in a part of a subset of a small category of a certain following...) Seven good reviews, and two negative reviews.

I had to look.

I'm so glad I did. I'm going to be giggling over this one for a long, long time. (Copied and pasted in its entirety. I did not change a thing. It's just. so. perfect. as it stands.)

Confusing! I'm Sorry but I DEFINATELY did not like this book, January 16, 1999
Reviewer: A reader

This book was extremely incomprehensable!!!It was BORING and it kept bringing new characters in without introducing them or anything.I'm not a stupid person and I'm not to young to read this "hard" book,but it simply was a bad book!!!

Have you read any good reviews lately? ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Bad News, Dental Fans

*sigh* In spite of "significant improvement" in my periodontal condition at today's six week check-up, it looks like I'm not going to avoid surgery after all. I think. Maybe. Mostly. But, depending on who you ask, it won't do any good, anyway. Yes, it was that strange.

The New Dentist was not in today. Nobody told me that. Some guy I've never seen walked in, gave me a limp handshake, sat down at the x-rays and said, "HOW old are you?" (34) "I'd expect to see this in a 60 year old, or 70, even, but this is BAD."

He then went on to give me vague, yet unsettling, advice to prepare to lose several teeth, even with the surgery, going on and on about my cavities (of which I have none - tons of fillings, but no cavities). When I asked for details about what he was saying, he fell back on the whole periodontal onslaught that would cause me to end up toothless in no time at all, and simply reiterated that I need to be prepared to lose some teeth. I could not get him to talk to me straight. (The hygienist and I had just spent half an hour going over my x-rays and the probing results, tooth-by-tooth, and according to her, I have some really great bone density and only three spots with bone loss, although those three spots are pretty severe. She was much less apocalyptic about the whole endeavor.) I tried to get specifics about what he was saying - did this affect the applicability of implants? Are we looking at full replacements? Are crowns out of the question? Is it going to be feasible to complete the dental work the other Dr. had scheduled before dealing with the periodontal issue? He wouldn't address any of that.

Finally, unable to handle this guy's belligerent and vague attitude any longer, I asked him pointedly, "You obviously see something specific that makes you say this. You're telling me to decide which teeth I want to keep, and I think it's safe to say the answer would be 'all of them'. Yet from your tone and message, I take it that's not going to happen. If there are teeth that are going to go, and you know they're going to go, could you stop with the ambiguous doublespeak and tell me, please? I'd sure hate to pick the 'wrong' teeth."

He said, "Oh, your two front teeth, for sure. Most of them, actually. You might be able to save five."

That's when the hormones kicked in and I started to cry. I didn't sob or wail, but that pretty much did me in. (And yes, I know. I asked. I should have been pushier at the onset of the conversation rather than wasting twenty minutes getting worn down before I pushed it.) It's been a long three days, and I was so looking forward to a positive report at this visit, and the image of me out-to-here pregnant with no front teeth at all... Vanity, I know. I know that. But there's the disconnect, too. After being told my bone density is good, and my oral health is excellent (in general), and there are no cavities, and there was no build-up... well, this guy was just a breath of fresh radon.

I asked the hygienist why Dr. S had said my bone loss wasn't bad enough to warrant all of this when it is now seemingly obvious (from the very same x-rays) that it was, and has been all along, and why did we just do all this, again? She said, "Oh, he was just encouraging you to get your home care up to the level it needed to be. And it is." Um, lady, my "home care" has been consistently as you see it now for the last five years. What the -----.

Ok, this is making less and less sense. I have to leave. I have to go off and digest all this. And I want MY dentist back. I want to hear from the man who made this plan with me what nuances have appeared that have led us down this course of action, and whether, in fact, things are better... or worse. Where do we stand?

As Smidge would say, "No me no."

That, on top of getting our water bill this month, and it says we used 11,200 gallons of water! No. We. Didn't. *sigh*

Is... is that locusts I hear???

I've got to get some rest. I'll be less whiny tomorrow. Honest.

Kiss those babies!