Thursday, September 27

It's a good sign you're pregnant when...

You cry at E.T.

Not when he gets sick.

Not when you think he's dead.

Not even at the very end, when E.T. says, "come" and Elliot says, "stay".

No, you know you're pregnant when you cry as the bicycles lift off from the ground.

Seriously, what's that about?

I'll be glad to have my brain back soon.

Kiss those babies,

Tuesday, September 25

School Days

I love this time of year as a homeschooler. Our friends are all on different schedules, drifting in and out of routine. Some have been at it hot 'n heavy since August, some are starting up this week or next. Some haven't taken a "summer break" at all, but simply kept moving along, doing their thing, and are now ready to take a week or two off and relax beneath the last of the summer leaves.

To the uninitiated, I'm sure it's a terrifying scene. To the homeschooling eye, however, this schism of uniformity is simply a snapshot of the essence of the homeschooling lifestyle: individual adaptation to the child's needs and environment. It wouldn't work in an institutionalized setting (could you imagine kids straggling in mid-way through a pop quiz, two weeks into the term?) It's uniquely homeschooled. And, I will venture to say, it is part of the health and vigor of homeschooling.

Recently, a question has come up that generally makes the rounds in September, again late November, February, and again in late April: what do you do when you feel the need to do something "different"? I love reading the responses, and they are as varied as the community from which they come:

We hit the museums.

We take our books to the woods.

We sit at the fountain in the park.

We jump on the bed while we shout out our grammar lessons.

We read something new.

We eat decadent foods and wallow in a really great play or musical performance.

We go hiking.

We take on a volunteer project.

We start a new curriculum.

Do you see it? Every answer says the exact same thing: we do what we need to do to keep moving forward and keep enjoying this adventure we're in.

It's easy to take for granted the incredible opportunities we have as homeschoolers. It's easy to get bogged down in retrieving yet another unit block from the baby's nose; in reminding the children that they are not to suggest to anyone in uniform that the Hagia Sophia should, in fact, be decorated with opium *ahem*; in thinking about the tasks to be done that aren't getting done while we're knee-deep in grammar forms.

But don't let it get you down. You're the only one who is capable of looking at those eyes and seeing if they're shining. You're the one who can change the course of a conversation from "ho-hum" to "let's find out more". If you feel ho-hum, well, that'll rub off. If you want to find out more, and do find out more, well, that, too, will become "the norm".

Our "normal" will not look like your "normal". Yet, the beauty of the homeschooling lifestyle is that if you see another "normal" out there, you have every opportunity and advantage of making it yours. Want to read more? See more? Explore more? Do more? Why not? Many of the delightful aspects of our Adventure aren't things dredged from the recesses of my own creativity. They are ideas, books, philosophies I've seen from a distance and thought, "We need to aspire to that." Aspiration. Goals. Do it. It's your school. It's your adventure. Go for it. Make it uniquely yours.

I do love this time of year.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 24

And it just gets better!

This is a bit of a continuation from the last post...

We're reading about the Orthodox church. We get to mosaics. It's been a relatively normal bout of lessons, really. The boys are into it, they're excited about our plans to get some tiles and make a mosaic for the foyer. Things are good.

We veer into talking about different types of gems you often see in Byzantine art. Rubies, sapphires,

"Ohhh, opiums!"

Uh... (OK, perhaps we do need to sit down and have a little family talk...)

"Honey, did you mean 'opals'?"

*sheepish grin from the offending child* Oh. Yeah. *chuckle* Those.

I'm so glad we're home when these things happen!

Kiss those babies!

Come again?

This morning, while the littles and I were cleaning out the car, Smidge- whose speech is nowhere near "clear", at the best of times - was rattling away, just chatting to all of us in no particular order, when I heard him say, quite clearly,
"Oh, I do love marijuana! I love it even when we are all in the car!"

In my most eloquent form of paralysis, I responded, "I... uh... what???"

He repeated himself, "I love marijuana! I do love it SOOO much!"

*gag* *choke* *cough* "Um... James? What on earth is he talking about? Why would he say he loves marijuana?" (Not that I should have any reason for suspecting James to be the resident pot pusher, but he's usually pretty good about cluing me in to what I missed in the conversation.)

James burst out laughing, and said,
"No, Mom! Not 'marijuana'. He said, 'Medal of Honor'."

Oh. Well, okay, then.
Ah, kiss those babies!

Saturday, September 22

A little orange, in honor of autumn

Me-Wa and Me-Tae bought James this cute outfit for his birthday. Me-Tae forwarded the pics to me yesterday, and James really wanted me to get this up today. He's so proud. And, oh, the POCKETS on this thing! It'll take us half an hour just to get it cleared out for the wash once he starts stuffing those pockets.

The "guys" are all out this morning, doing a little more dove hunting. Me-Wa came down, too, so all three boys went. Embaby and I are hanging out, making bread and cookies, enjoying the lovely morning breezes and wishing for a cold snap. (Well, I'm wishing for a cold snap. She's perfectly happy with everything at the moment.)

The other day, she went into the guest room and emerged with this ensemble:

She was so proud of herself! I guess she didn't want to wait for her turn to go, so she made the best of it while the gear was unguarded. With the watermelon accents, she could hide out in a garden patch quite nicely, don't you think?

You know, they just make me smile. That's all there is to it. Sometimes they break your heart, sometimes they make any and everything seem possible. But always, always, there's love, love and more love when you've got these little ones in your life. It's good, good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, September 21

The Last Birthday of the Year!

My very first "baby" is now nine years old. He's a neat kid, and he had a great day. First, he headed out with a travel mug of hot chocolate for some dove hunting with Dad. They didn't see anything, but they had a nice few hours together. I have no idea what they talked about; all Zorak said was, "He's a great kid. I mean, a really. great. kid." Sounds like it was good.
From there, we headed into town to meet Me-Wa and Me-Tae at the bowling alley. A couple games of bowling, a few quarters at the arcade, pizza and time with his favorite people. (We have no pictures, because the camera decided to stay in the truck. I think it was hoping for more hunting shots. *ahem*) All three boys *bolted* across the bowling alley as soon as they spotted Me-Tae. That was so cute!

James did give us all a chuckle, when Me-Wa and Me-Tae wished him a happy birthday. He didn't respond with the customary, "Thank you". He bobbed up and down a little, his eyes wide in his head and hummed, "Mm-hmm!" I guess he thought it was more of an inquiry than anything else?

James asked to have "the perfect meal" for supper, and so we did: thick steak, cooked rare; asparagus spears with a light garlic butter sauce; baked potatoes with butter; for dessert, banana ice cream. It was all absolutely perfect. Except, well, turns out there are some pinholes in the ice cream maker. So the ice cream was actually salt and banana flavored. *shudder* We'll try again another time. Zorak, thinking quick on his feet, mixed a little banana flavoring into vanilla ice cream and dished it up with a couple maraschino cherries. Not a bad second-place, eh?

Again with the Last Minute Cakes: this was supposed to be a bust of Superman, but we didn't get home until six and that just wasn't going to happen. James, however, was perfectly thrilled with this:

He was tickled pink to *finally* get Book 4 of the Harry Potter books...
And I think his brothers might actually be more interested in his new pocket knife/utility tool than he is... (he might want to keep a close eye on that one!)
Nobody got to bed before eleven. It was a full, wonderful, exhausting day. James was a satisfied, thrilled, happy young man. And we now have a nine-year-old. Happy Birthday, Wonderful James! We love you!!. Posted by Picasa
Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, September 18

A Day in the Life???

You know, I do love a humorous, yet honest, Day in the Life piece. By the time my sense of humor kicks in, though, and it dawns on me to grab the camera, the day's half-gone. Ah, well.

On that note, I found this little do-dad in my inbox. IKEA is sponsoring a photojournalism essay on the whole Slice of Life theme: What Makes Your Home a Home. Something like that. For those of you who don't run three to four weeks behind the rest of the world, you might want to check it out. It started yesterday, with daily assignments, and (bless them) a two-day grace period. (OK, in the interest of proper marketing and all that good stuff, the official title is: America At Home, a close-up look at how we live. There. Now I feel I've performed due diligence and all that.)

Tomorrow is also Talk Like A Pirate Day. Again with the coffee kick-in lag time, all you're getting from me is a Pirate Name Generator. But hey, a little rum and a couple'a coconuts, and you won't need anything more from me!

We've excperienced some stunning time-warp issues at the house today. Two hours to count to five in Latin and then stare blankly at four *review* questions. That pesky review. Such challenging stuff. Oh, what was that? Zelda? What? Uh-huh... *sigh* OK, let's take it from the top. Zelda has nothing to do with Latin! No, nothing. Fine. If you can prove to me that Zelda has ANYTHING to do with Latin, we'll talk. In the meantime, I am going to force you to recall such painful information as vocabulary, and then I am going to torture you further by forcing you to look up that which you cannot recall. No, it's review. Re-view. Looking back over what you've already done. So, um, yeah, it's not gonna be on that half of the book. It'll be in the half that looks vaguely familiar. Yeah, the part you've already drawn in. Yup. There ya go.

And yet, set the timer, and they can perform amazing feats in very little time. (90 challenging math equations in ten minutes!) *shaking my head* I'm going to have to get timers. Perhaps I can get timers implanted in their foreheads for Christmas. Not much fun for them, but oh, what a gift for me!

EmBaby, aka The Pit Viper, is learning the nifty lesson that if you are going to do unpleasant things, then the fun things will not happen. I hate this part of parenting. This is where I want to be able to explain once, "IF you bite somebody, you will not be allowed within arm's reach of people" and have that be... well, enough. There. Now you know. "IF you throw things at people during storytime, storytime will be abominably short." And again, that should do the trick, right? No? No. You're right. I know you're right. It's worth the effort to be gentle, consistent, and to develop the fortitude of our ancestors in not just eradicating the herd and starting over. That's why those little ones have such big eyes and fuzzy heads: God's protection for them while they work through this phase. They're too cute to toss to the wolves or exile to the compost bin.

Plus, when they do catch on, you have the opportunity to enjoy such beautiful moments as this:

And look, they were even all there, working together!

Right now, it looks like the grass suffered a stampede of sorts. Well, it did. But there's hope it'll perk right up soon. We might post pictures, if the plants survive!

OK, break time is over! Back to work. Hyeah!

(Kiss those babies!)

Monday, September 17

The Dove Hunt

(The following post contains pictures from the hunt. While not "graphic" in nature, if you're upset by hunting, or by firearms, please go ahead and skip this post.)
Well, John was a little sad when he learned that he wouldn't be able to actually shoot until he's passed his hunter safety course. In Alabama, that's still two Very Long Years away, for him. So, Zorak took him to the upper meadow and they shot a few rounds before heading out. See that stance? That's not poor form -- that's recoil. A shotgun behaves very differently from a .22. A couple of those, and John decided perhaps it's best that Dad does the shooting this trip. (And yes, he's got hearing protection in.)

There's a lot of waiting.... and more waiting...
But when the company is good, it's not such a bad thing.

John wasn't sure how best to carry the birds, at first...

But he found his stride the second time around. He took his job very seriously, and I think he has a grasp of things that's good. As he laid the doves on the table to prepare them for the freezer, he commented on realizing now why it's so important to give thanks before you eat.

And Dad? How did Dad fare? Well, he had a truly fantastic day enjoying his son's company, enjoying the countryside, getting to know some of the farmers, and imparting a bit of himself with his child.
He's still glowing, and looking forward to spending more one-on-one time with the kids. It was a great day, all-around.
Kiss those babies!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 15

Saturday Coffee

My goodness, I think our house is a place of lore: Where Insects Go To Die. Blech. The windows are vile! It's time for a coffee break.

Zorak and John are out dove hunting today. I've never seen a child more excited about anything. Ever. That includes Smidge's full-body vibration when he's thrilled with something. John was simply abuzz with activity, packing, checking, loading, double checking. He was understatedly serious, yet eager. He's still a little guy, but he's veering into the next port, and it's never been so obvious as it was this morning. He loaded the Suburban, then climbed in and waited. I didn't get the chance to kiss him good-bye, and had to give his travel mug of hot chocolate to Zorak. He was off and ready. Then, I stood on the porch and waved good-bye to a child who had already turned his mind and his heart toward the awaiting adventure as they headed down the drive. He's spending the day with his hero, doing something that beckons of high adventure. My heart is bursting with joy, with thankfulness, and with a wee bit of wistfulness that my JohnBaby is fading so quickly. (Not too much wistfulness, though, because this Young Man is a wonderful person, as well. And I am thankful that Zorak has both the opportunity to spend time like this with him, as well as the desire to do so. That's good stuff for both of them.)

I've got the dining room, living room and kitchen windows (insides only) washed, as well as the sills, stoops, and aprons. It feels delightful (particularly as I've interspersed the cleaning with a little time at sea with Hornblower, and some fresh bread with peanut butter and honey!) However, my stomach is queasy from being eye-ball-to-spinnerettes with all the spiders that live between our storm windows and our house windows. It's like living on the INSIDE of a spider farm. Thankfully, our current "moving forward without much cash" project is the windows - still stripping, priming, glazing the windows, and repairing/replacing the storm windows. They do need a lot of work. I wish we could just replace them all in one fell swoop, but that would require much cash, and then we wouldn't be doing the "moving forward without much cash" aspect of it, would we? *grin* Actually, Zorak Of The Indomitable Spirit is insistent that we replace the windows *ourselves*, and... that's just not a horribly enticing concept for me at present. So, well, I'm not going to complain (too audibly) about having to repair/replace and clean the storm windows. Plus, it's that savings that'll pay for the new windows in the long run, so it's all good. And it will be wonderful once they've all got properly fitting screens and have been reinstalled w/ the proper gaskets so that the spiders cannot get in there to set up house at all.

The remaining Smalls are out back, digging for things I probably won't want brought into the house. Particularly not after I've finished cleaning. But they'll come in. And it'll be fascinating to see and hear all about it from their perpective. I really must find a place to put things like that. The bookshelf isn't conducive, as I realized while vacuuming the school room the other day -- cicada shells don't survive the shopvac well, at all.

And so, my coffee break is over, and it's time to turn our attentions back to the day at hand. Thanks for taking a break to visit this afternoon.

Kiss those babies!

*edited to correct my typographical stuttering problem :-) *

Friday, September 14

Vaccines, delays, and disease, Oh, my!

Thanks to the threads recently at the WTM forums, I found this article on delayed vaccinations. It includes a suggested schedule, as well, which is why I'm including it here. Sometimes it's difficult to get an idea for the "how" or the "what now" once you've come to a point where you say, "OK, that's not going to work." Hopefully, if you're looking for more information, this will help.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 13

Well, that didn't work so well.

You know, we've kept the shopvac out for our daily vacuum jobs on the laminate floors. It's more efficient than sweeping, and does a better job than our "normal" vacuum does on the bare floors. One of these days I'll buy the carpet attachment for it, and then I can do away entirely with the "normal" vacuum. In the meantime, however, it's just my hard floor vacuum.

Well, one of the things I *love* about the shopvac is that it will suck up ANYTHING, from about six inches away from the opening of the hose. That makes it so easy to get into the crevices and crannies, beneath the tea cart and the corner hutch... just, easy.

One of the things I *don't* love about the shopvac is that it will suck up ANYTHING, from about six inches away from the opening of the hose. That means I may have to sieve through the bin before dumping it, in order to retrieve stray socks, tinker toys, chess pieces, and matchbox cars (man, can those things move, though, when they fly across the floor to the hose! It's quite a sight, really. Kinda fun, too, but don't tell the boys that.)

Ok, I don't actually try to suck up the toys. But there are so many of them. And they're small. And my eyesight isn't what it used to be. Nor are my reflexes (which were never stellar to begin with). And so, most of the time, it's the clunk-rattle-schlooop, followed by the kathunk-thud-thud of a solid object pinging it's way up the hose that alerts me to the fact that I've just sucked up Something That Oughtn't Be Sucked Up. I sucked up something just the other day, as a matter of fact. But it didn't have the distinctive sound of any previously identified objects. So I didn't really worry about it.

And now, we cannot find the key to the corner hutch.

I wonder if Rigid sells a 1/4" screen attachment for the floor attachments? Might be a good investment on their part. I can't be the only one who uses the shopvac for daily cleaning? (Andie, back me up, here!)

Well, it's grocery day, so I'll handle that, and then, perhaps, Zorak will take pity on me and check out the shopvac this evening? I'd probably better make sure supper is FANTASTIC, huh?

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, September 12


Fall. Is. Coming!

I'm so excited, I can hardly restrain myself. Or spell. I had to put on a *hoodie* this morning, people! Well, I suppose I could have just gotten dressed, instead, but where's the fun in that? It's so much better to sit on the porch and watch the oppossums destroy the garden when I'm in my comfy jammies. Come to think of it, where was the dog while that was going on? Hmpf. Probably inside, wallowing on the couch.

It was DARK when I got up this morning. At six. It was still dark at six! It was foggy, and chilly, and dark. Oh, the joy! The sun didn't actually come up. The air lightened, the fog glistened, the birds went absolutely nuts. The neighbors' rooster did his thing. Repeatedly. Ah, here comes the dog, once he heard the rooster. (The rooster likes to strut into our upper meadow. He's not horribly bright, that one.) All of it, except the potential for rooster mutilations, was absolutely beautiful.

We've been on a pile-claiming rampage this week. I think it's working. Zorak mentioned something last night about the progress of the "house reclamation project". Sounds like it ought to be subsidized, doesn't it? Heh. Better that it's not. At least this way, we know we're making headway and we can work when we need to. Yeah, we're getting there.

It's not all about the grand adventures. Sometimes it's the great adventures. The melons slowly swelling in the patch. The sound of the pickup heading down the drive in the morning. The things that become normal, commonplace -- birds at the feeder, little children draggin fleece blankets out from the closet and into the living room, getting up in the dark -- that really cement this life of ours and make it Real. So I watched the pickup head down the drive, gave thanks for yesterday's rain, and watched the little guy drag his blanket to the living room. And I smiled at all that's real. All that's mine. I feel so lucky!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, September 11

It's 5:00 -- Do You Know Where Your Wife Is?

I got to bed at such a decent hour last night, that I awoke this morning around 4:15. Bright-eyed. Ready to go! That's wrong on more levels than I can name right now.

So, I gathered the trash (right day, this time), finished pre-reading The Story of Marco Polo, cleaned up from supper (we had company, and the guys talked into the night, so I just put the kids down and crept into bed for some reading time to let the guys have a little "me time", or the male equivalent. What is that? "Us time" sounds a little bizarre, though. You know, "guy time".)

ANYway... I'd been at it about half an hour or so, when I heard footsteps shuffling up and down the hall. Shuffle to the bath. Pause. Shuffle to the guest room. Pause. Sounds too big to be one of the boys. Balto's outside (and besides, he doesn't shuffle, he goes "clickety-clickety"). Zorak?

I peeked up from cleaning the stove to see Zorak checking the lock on the front door (he's a checker. he loves us.) "Honey? You okay?"

"AH! There you are. Are YOU okay? I woke up and... there wasn't anybody."

*chuckle* Yeah, this is what happens when I have enough sleep. I actually get up before you. Weird, isn't it?

"Mmpf. Yeah." shuffle, shuffle back to bed.

All is well.

Just checking.

Maybe I shouldn't get to bed *quite* so early next time, eh? heh. Oh, but this quiet time in the morning is nice, nice, nice.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 10

And Then He Was Four

Saturday night, I kissed Smidge "three kisses" for the last time. Sunday morning, he came to get "four, now, Mom!" It's gone so quickly, and it's been such fun. What would we do without our Smidge?

So, Sunday, we headed into church with a pirate ship cake, a pirate ship pinata, and a Very Happy Boy. We had lunch with friends from church -- she's from Japan, and oh, dear me, I'm glad she didn't make more food than she did, because it was fantastic and we'd have kept eating until we embarrassed ourselves. The kids ran around and had a fantastic time. And then, we headed back to the church for cake and ice cream.
Me-Tae and Me-Wa came, and another family with littles. It was a good crowd, not too big, and everybody very laid back.

Me-Tae is so. much. fun. I swear, everybody should have a Me-Tae. Like I told her, we do these things because, well, we sort of have to. But she does fun things because they'll be fun for the kids. She brought an ice cream bar - ice cream, sherbet, strawberries, caramel, and several kinds of sprinkles. What a great idea is that! The kids loved it. The adults loved it. We're going to have to start paying her for this stuff. It'd be worth every penny.

My batteries were just about dead, and I didn't get all the pictures I'd wanted to get, but the day was nice. And now, he is four. Happy Birthday, Sweet Smidge!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, September 7

Book Stuff

Some interesting things have crossed my desk this week.

The Myth of the Teen Brain -- on the heels of a recent article citing a belief that the human brain isn't capable of making consistently good choices until around age 25, this article seems timely, and offers some interesting mind-fodder for discussion.

Also, after Mere sent me some links on Permaculture and its founder, Bill Mollison (and then I stayed up WAY past my bedtime watching the entire series of videos), I spent some time poking around Alabama's agricultural/permacultural communities. Interesting stuff, there.

And enjoying the music at Pandora. (Gee, thanks, Steph...) That site was very aptly named. *grin*

Offline, the boys and I are enjoying some of the Arabian Nights tales, as well as Celtic Fairy Tales (Jacobs), and the Young Jack Sparrow books John received for his birthday.

Smidge has fallen in love with The Easter Pig, and EmBaby is completely entranced by a new Carl book. (We love Carl. We can make up beautiful stories for the littles, and when they get a bit older, and wise to our humor, we can cut loose and get a little wild with that ol' dog. Carl's good stuff.)

Have any of you ever read The Virginian, by Owen Wister? I just finished it. So well-written, but I've got to say, if Zorak were to come home from work Monday and say, "So what do you think of BFE, Wyoming?" I'd be packed and en route before he could bother applying for the job. *sigh* Beautifully written. A definite must-read for the boys' in a few years' time.

There was more, but I've been invited to go enjoy a crossword puzzle with my honey. We used to do crosswords together quite a bit, and tonight I wondered aloud why we don't. Then it hit us - we aren't getting the paper, scouring for jobs every week. Oh... yeah, that would do it. We read our news online, or from the radio. And by default, we stopped doing the crossword. But tonight, he found one. So we're off to play! Have a lovely Saturday!

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 6


Well, tonight I'm the proud owner of two 13-gal. trash bags, packed solid from top to bottom with shredded paper, and a 16" high stack of papers that's been filed appropriately, to boot.

And I still didn't find what I'm looking for!

But that's OKAY. I still have the papers stored in the master bath to go through. (That's probably one reason I'm not terribly gung-ho to get the master bath completed. It makes a fantastic hidey hole for holiday gifts, and a perfect storage room for luggage, floor fans, and all the paper -- boxes and boxes of paper -- I didn't want to deal with the last umpteen times I picked up before company arrived.) It's going to be a very. long. weekend. But if I can find what I need, life will be pretty durned sweet, lemme tell ya!

We go in the morning to see a guy about a horse. (No. Not really, but that's all I can say about it.) Then we might see another guy about another horse. I really just want to go to the quarry and hang with the gang tomorrow afternoon, but I think I'm going to be stuck here in the afternoon, getting the paperwork together, shredding more stuff, doing the right thing, and being whiny about it. (Please don't tell me it doesn't count if you whine! LOL!)

An inspector for the power company came onto the property today. Of course, I see some guy with a clipboard walking around my place, looking far too interested in things to be a casual visitor, and I just can't let that go. Things get too weird around here, too quickly, when left unattended. Turns out he was doing inspections on the lines and there are "a number of violations" with our power lines. Including several that are strung too low, and a few that "don't go anywhere". They just lead from the transformer and dangle somewhere? *shudder* I believe I mentioned here that I'd spoken with the power company not too long ago, when they replaced our transformer... and they did not mention ANY of this! As a matter of fact, they even "fixed" a wire that had fallen and was laying in the yard. Come to find out, that wire shouldn't even be there at all. *sigh* I keep telling myself that eventually, they can't surprise me anymore. But I can't quite bring myself to believe it. On the plus side, he was trying hard to find something wrong with the pole in our yard (legitimately wrong, something other than the fact that it's smack in the middle of the front yard with huge trees dropping limbs on it) so they'd have to move it. If there's a violation there and he can find it, then they'll move it, on them, and we wouldn't have to pay the second-born child and a quarter of our crops to have a new pole set outside the front yard! That would be rather helpful, actually. I just hope they dilly-dally long enough for us to get our tax refund back, just in case. Once the power is off at the service head, for any reason, our grandfathered meter and lode panel set up are void and we'll have to fix those before they could turn it back on.

Gifts are en route. Party place is planned. Guests are coming. Did ya hear that sigh of relief? Smidge is so excited. This is a big change from the other two, who spent the first few years filled with dread because they loved being their own ages and didn't want to get older. Smidge can't wait to be John's age. Somehow, that's it. That's the pinnacle, for him. He said when he gets to seven, he'll be done growing. Funny boy. Part of me wants to always have a little Smidge, but I know he's going to be such a neat young man, and then a wonderful grown man. And at least I'll always have the memories of the Smidge when he's six feet tall and finally has his pronouns straight.

And so, to bed, before I feel compelled to shred some more. G'night!

Kiss those babies!

Happy Little Dirt Ball

Chickens love to take dust baths, and so, it seems, do little girls. It's one of EmBaby's favorite outdoor activities. Mostly, I smile and nod, mentally add sod to our list of things to buy, and give thanks that we didn't get the high maintenance, dry-clean-only children.

While a chicken can take a dust bath and come out fine, humans tend to have those pesky sweat glands. The end result is strikingly different.

But does she care? Not a whit. The final bath was just as much fun as the dust bath. At least for her. ;-) There, you've seen the worst of it (well, except for the marshmallow incident, but this is a close second). And now, I can post crumb-lipped photos without guilt or caveat, because this is a truly filthy little face!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, September 4

A Birthday Brainstorming

Smidge's birthday is fast approaching, and we are nowhere near prepared. It dawned on us today that he's pretty much outgrown Thomas, and Bob, and... well, goodness, what comes next?

He's such a happy, contented little guy, and he seldom asks for much. When we're at the store, he doesn't oooohhh-and-ahhhh, doesn't beg for every dodad and shiny-packaged thing on the shelves. For that, we are very thankful. It's nice to have a contented child. But, well, sometimes that leaves us a little clueless as to what he might actually like to have as a special treat.

He is anxiously awaiting the start of T-ball season, which he'll be eligible to play come Spring. So, there's that. A little forethought on our part would have done wonders in procuring a Tee for him at this time of year. (Only eight or nine more children and we might get the hang of that.) I'll try Amazon tonight and see what we can rustle up, there.

We asked him this evening at supper what he might really like. He said a pinata would be nice. Oh, and "a pirate ship, with three pirates on it." (Hmmm, we have one exactly like that, but as he put it when we mentioned that point, "Oh, but that belongs to John, and it is his special ship." Ah. Ok, I get that. Didn't expect it from an almost-four-year-old, but I do get it.)

Whatever we do, he'll have a lovely day, and he'll know he's cherished, and he'll smile and laugh and be a joyful little boy. It would be so wonderful if we were all that contented with what we have in life (talking mostly to myself, here *sheepish grin*) -- but then, he's had that gift from the start, able to revel in Granny's caramel with his tush frozen to the patio, or wallow in snuggling with Dad on Saturday mornings while the bigger boys watch cartoons.

Sitting here thinking about it, I realize he's given us more gifts already than we could even bestow upon him. That's a tucker.

Ah, I'm off to browse for a bit, then.

Kiss those babies!

*A "tucker" is one of those things that makes you smile, so you tuck it away in your heart and pull it out when you need it later.

Out of the Pile - and a Tirade

Well, nothing sets things aright like a little surprise visit with family -- the Engaged Cousins, on their way to set up their new home and prepare for the wedding. They brought their dog, Miss, who enjoyed the playtime with Balto. Well, no, strike that. Balto enjoyed some playtime with Miss. Miss much preferred to be inside, away from that pesky pup. But in all, they got on well and it was good for both dogs to have time to play.

And I'll tell ya, if you don't have children, a few days spent in a home with children coming out of every nook and cranny will either give you baby fever, or a desire to get your tubes tied at the first available moment. I forget how quirky, vocal, funny, noisy, hectic, and particularly loud our home is, until I get a moment to see it through the eyes of others. Yep, pretty chaotic, when you don't have the chance to gear up for it, one or two children at a time. But oh, when those little ones climb up on your lap for no reason other than to be near you, or hug your legs and give you unsolicited kisses, ah, that's something you don't find just anywhere. I hope the cousins left feeling loved.

Now that EmBaby has a birth certificate, I am trying to get her a social security number. This is proving even more challenging than it was with Smidge. A birth certificate is not enough to validate identity (in spite of the hoops you must jump through in Alabama to get a homebirth birth certificate). The lady at the social security office was somewhat mortified that EmBaby doesn't have a Medicaid card (*sigh*), or a "school ID card" -- a quiet reminder that the child is one and a half didn't seem to sink in.

About the only proof of identification the social security office will accept (that we have any hope in hell of obtaining) is a "medical record" -- namely, the insurance sheet/bill you get when you pay for a doctor's visit. Right. Anybody actually keep those? I mean, if you don't itemize your medical deductions, or file your own insurance claims? Just curious, because the lady at the gubmint office was quite thrown for a loop at our total lack of identification for this little person. It has to be one of those, and it cannot be expired. Did you know they expire? I asked, specifically, what constitutes an "expired" medical record. She said it can't be ten years old, or anything like that. Which, okay, sounds reasonable enough, except that we're talking about a 19 month old child. If it's even two years old, it's fake. Seriously, what constitutes "expired for a 19 month old"? Oh, well, she hemmed and hawed and finally declared that it must be issued within the last month.

*sigh* They don't even know what they want. They only know that you must figure it out if you want to get this done. I am so done with our federal government.

No, the doctor's office cannot run us off a copy from her file (it must be the *original*), and no, they will not accept a letter from the doctor's office, and well, all I have to do is get her medical records, and what's the problem...

She began to chide me for losing EmBaby's card in the first place, and how difficult it is to replace a card. I stopped her. WHOA -- this is a NEW card, a FIRST card. I explained this at the onset. "What? Why doesn't she have one yet?" Oh. You have got to be kidding me. AS I HAVE PREVIOUSLY EXPLAINED, her birth certificate was just issued last week. She has nothing. She's ONE. At this point she said, "Well *exhale* the sooner you get a child into the community, the easier this is."

Ah, and there it is. The community? Oh, she's into the community just fine. They know her at church, among friends, down at the corner market and gas station, at the Pig, at the water company, and even among our homeschooling community. What this woman meant is that the sooner I get my children into gov't sponsored health care, or gov't sponsored daycare, or gov't approved activities of some kind, the easier the government will go on us. This is the way our federal government works on a daily basis, and yet people keep clamoring to the federal level with "help us", "take care of us", "provide for us". And those of us who don't, then we simply must not understand how nice it is there in the Nanny State.

Finally, in an exasperated state, the lady said our doctor's office should know exactly what they need (since she obviously didn't) and offered to transfer me "to the voice mail of the front office", where I could leave a detailed message. I left my message. I called the doctor's office. Twenty minutes on hold, and they have no idea what the social security office needs. They said they'll try to figure it out and get back with me. Like the doctor's secretary said, "Well, all we have is what you gave us? How is that going to help?" Yeah. I know. This is ridiculous.

Don't you all feel safer, now, knowing that law-abiding citizens have so much "security" to go through to be recognized by their own government? Me neither.

Ah, well, whether the government recognizes my children or not, they're here, they're legal, and they're wonderful. Hopefully, they will grow up as far from the reach of the federal government as we can keep them so that they grow up to be competent, thinking, self-sufficient citizens. It certainly won't make life easier on them, not the way this country is heading, but it will make them better off, as people.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, September 1

Piling Up

Things are piling up right now, and they're doing it right on top of me. I'm pretty sure the boys and Zorak are under here with me, and it sounds like EmBaby is busy scaling the pile so she can check out the view from up there. No fear, that one. Tomorrow is Sunday, a day of rest, a day of family, and a day of worship. I've got everything done that I can get done tonight to help bring about at least a semblance of the "rest" bit.

It's promotion Sunday for the children's Sunday School program, but only Smidge moves up to a new class. The other boys will now be the older ones in their classes (the classes are grouped two grades to a class), and will assume more responsibility, but they get to keep their teachers and their rooms. Not much will change for them, in that regard. But Smidge moves from the 2's and 3's room to the "Pre-K" room. Pre-K? Smidge? Ack. He's plenty excited, but I'm not ready for it. When we first started attending this church, he was nursery aged and he stayed with us all the time. How did he suddenly get old enough to be in a class with a designation to it?

Zorak glazed the bottom windows on the guest room today. They look lovely. Too bad the glazing takes "7-14 days to cure, depending on temperature and humidity" (this translates to: "if you live in the South, it's gonna be a few weeks, folks"). So much of this is on him, now, and he's got a lot on his plate, but one step at a time, and we'll get there. (He bought the heat gun for me, but that was the same week I bought the hpt, and come to find out using the heat gun to remove glazing is a no-no for expectant mamas. It's important enough that that's the one and only decipherable warning in the heat gun manual. I swear I don't get pregnant just to get out of doing work. Honest!)

The compost is composting nicely (this rain has helped with that quite a bit). The watermelons are coming in beautifully. Our pickling cucumbers (which will not be pickled, but it was a nice thought) are still producing regularly. Our regular cucumbers seem to have hybridized, but they're finally producing some interesting fruit. The pumpkins are still sportin' flowers, flowers, flowers, but no pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins. They've had flowers for a very long time, now. I've never seen a plant do that before, but they all are. *shrug* Obviously, we're not "farmers", in even the loosest sense of the word, or we'd have some idea why this is. Still, it's fun, and the children have learned so much this summer. So, while we won't be stocking our larder with canned goods from our garden's bounty, it's been rewarding in many other ways that count, and I can't say the adventure wasn't worth it. We all look forward to doing a much more proficient job next year!

Kiss those babies!