Monday, March 31

Random Thoughts

- We got the game schedules for two of the boys... and in spite of how much I've enjoyed *not* running around, I am really looking forward to making it to their games.

- Six o'clock is way too early to have to be on the road for an 8:30 appointment... but it's worth it for a good pediatrician.

- I keep getting spam in my inbox, offering me "guaranteed quantities of viagra"... Considering we've had five children in nine years, is this really a concern for us?

- You might be tempted to argue with Mom's counting... But you really can't argue with a metronome.

- I *heart* the metronome!

- There is nothing cuter than a four-year-old in his first baseball uniform... except, perhaps, pictures of a four-year-old in his first baseball uniform. But I was too busy oogling him and squeezing him and watching him beam with pride. Sorry.

- Waiting to see if your fifth child is going to be the fifth one to have colick, too, is like waiting for the other shoe to drop... when you wear anvils for shoes.

- Good friends... are really good.

- Nice weather... is always appreciated.


- It's a good life.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 30

The Balcony O' Death

*breathe in* *breathe out*

This is my new plan. I'm going to stick to it, no matter how hard it (or parts of it) may be. Remind me of this over the next month, will ya?

Today, Zorak began work on the preliminary portion of the balcony demolition, erm, rehabilitation. OK, no, demolition is the correct term. We were going to just shore it up a bit, make reinforcements here and there, and try to do this with as little expense as possible. Unfortunately, the closer we looked, the wider we realized the gap is between "possible" and... well, we pretty much had to redefine "possible" just to get started. Every. Little. Thing. Needs to be yanked and re-done. So, that's what we're going to do.
First, we banished the children to the Upper Meadow and the Back Yard. Only. Ever. Under penalty of having to live in the Scary Room until this project is completed if they so much as set a foot in the lower portion of the drive, or anywhere near the balcony. Obviously, they happily obliged.

We (the Royal We - I stayed inside and hummed loudly to myself - Zorak did all the work and the scary stuff) started with removing a limb that's been threatening to increase our insurance premiums ever since we bought the place.

The limb starts out from the tree about 20' off the ground, and extends straight up and out, extending over the balcony for a good 15'-20', ending in a gangly mass of dead weight, just waiting for a tornado, a heavy rain, or possibly just more than two migratory birds at one time to land on it. Zorak climbed up on the roof and started by removing the smaller pieces. Since the balcony is coming down, we didn't have to sweat it out any longer as to whether it would survive another limb-dive.

It mostly did. The hole on the left is from the first limb-dive, oh, a little over a year or so ago. The hole on the right is from the impact of the branch you see lying there. The balcony, itself, however, although now significantly more reminiscent of a foundering-ship-at-sea, did not collapse. So, armed with fresh determination, and an unyielding belief that I'd remember to call 9-1-1 if something horrible happened, Zorak took off a huge portion of the remaining limb. This is what it looks like, now. (Standing at the far, far end of the balcony, looking up.)
And this, is where the limb landed. I should have had Zorak go stand by it, to give you some perspective. Hmmm, perhaps I can use the debris to help? The camera is a good fifteen feet up, and 12 feet back. Those are five gal. buckets, there to the left of it. Cinder blocks comprise the two grey squares between the limb and the balcony. I'd guess the limb is a good 8" diameter where it broke off.

And so, the first of the many puckering phases of this project is complete. The rest of the limb looks solid, and should clear the balcony easily. It will come down this week. And then, so will the balcony. And then, the New Balcony, the one that will not shimmy, shake, or make anybody seasick, will rise from the rubble like a... like a non-flaming, not terribly magical Phoenix. Yup. That pretty much sums it up.

Tomorrow, more pictures, and I'll highlight some of the Hideous Contracting Decisions that make this deck oh, so special. But for now, BabyJ is up and so is my blogging time.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 28

The View From Here...

... is a nice one.

Kiss those babies!


About that hat!

Emily asked where we found the beautiful little hat Jason's wearing in the pictures. I'm so glad you asked, because I want to just gush and gush about this little hat! It's actually a set: hat and booties. They were a gift. Now, I know the rule is not to knit things for non-knitters, because they seldom appreciate what goes into knitting a garment. I promise you I am the exception to the rule: I am a non-knitter because I've tried. I know *exactly* what goes into it, and also that I am supremely incapable of knitting anything other than what essentially amounts to a yarn-based "anxiety read out". (Oh, here she was stressed, and here's where she got sleepy, and oh, boy, something made her mad, here - it's nearly waterproof for four inches!)

So, this beautiful gift was given to BabyJ from the incredibly talented Miss KathyJo, who can put up with goats, raise chickens, pop out exquisitely beautiful children (and photographs of said children), write up Latin answer books, make me laugh no matter how crappy my day has been, and, as you can see here... knit cool baby stuff!

The hat is so sweet, and so soft, but what really makes me act like I've got some kind of fetish is these booties. Oh. My. Word. Are they not the cutest, sweetest, most beautiful little things in the world? Only baby feet would be worthy of such beautiful little coverings, don't you think?
Oh, they just make me smile, smile, smile. My plan is to find her weakness and bribe her with it for the Next Size Up, in perpetuity. Basically until one of my kids figures out how to knit, or KathyJo gives up and tells me to take a hike.

I got a pair of socks, too, but have yet to either remove them from my feet longer than it takes to wash them and get them back on, or at least prop my feet up somewhere with good lighting so I can take a picture. They're fantastic. They're way too nice to put on my big ol' land yachts. Pearls before swine, I tell you, but I'm not giving them up.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, March 27

Good, Old-Fashioned Fun

Man, we had a great time today! Ben and Claudia came over with their crew - we had a picnic in the newly fenced-in back yard. (Roast pork, roast chicken, Claudia's Super-Secret-To-Kill-For-Potato-Thing, and Zorak's-Super-Rice. Yes, the children may develop scurvy, but sometimes nothing beats a beautiful afternoon with friends and a pile of comfort food.)

The guys played ball. The littles wandered here and there. Claudia held BabyJ and I got to eat Peeps and Marshmallow Eggs with no heartburn and nobody in my lap.

Then, before it got too dark to see properly and risk losing not only eggs, but the smaller children, we hid the eggs in the meadow and had another Tractor-Themed Easter Egg Hunt. (The first tractor that lived in our meadow for a year or so is gone, now, and in it's place is a working one we borrowed from a friend. Someday, we're going to have to break down and actually buy one - working or not. It's just not Easter without a tractor.)

The kids had a blast. The guys got to visit. Claudia and I got to eat the candy that didn't make it into the eggs.

Just look at that precious little doll! Does she not just radiate cuteness from every pore on her being? Gah. She's only a couple months younger than EmBaby, and they are so. stinkin'. adorable together. Zorak and I turn into gooey morons who'll do anything for one of those wee little smiles. *gush*

I managed to take a couple of great pictures, a few kinda creepy ones (still working on action shots - my action setting seems to be impaired), and some really sweet ones. Then, as the children began to show signs of weakening, we brought them in and let them OD on sugar and chocolate while they vegged over Season 1 of Jonny Quest. YAY NETFLIX!

In all, you really can't ask for a nicer belated holiday get-together.
Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 26

Riding the Vomit Comet

I know. Ew.

Monday night, Zorak took the kids for the pilgrimage to the ball fields. After Smidge and John's practices ended and James' began, he brought the three littlest home and returned to watch James and his magic cleats do their thing. (All three of the kids have magic cleats - evidently they do really amazing things, like make you dance and spin and leap up on your toes, when you're standing on the baseline in the dirt. We don't know if it's just our kids, or if there are other magic cleats out there - feel free to chime in.)

John got sick and couldn't finish supper. He went to bed.

I'd just tucked him in and settled down with BabyJ when Smidge came running down the hall, yelling, "Alert! Alert! Ernh-ernh-ernh! Alert! Emily puked!" (Not sure why he thought the sirens and such were needed, but he was pretty alarmed.) I got up, got her cleaned up, cleared the mess, rolled up the table cloth, and went back to bed.

Ten minutes later, Smidge was sick from both ends. He actually made it to the bathroom. He immdediately became Officially My Favorite Child.

Once more from EmBaby. She gets the Official Second Favorite Child slot for knowing to step back out of the way after she throws up. Good instincts on that one.

Then Zorak got home. I filled him in, told him I was clocking off vomit patrol and headed back to bed.

He got the two Littles down and snuggled in, when only ten minutes later, EmBaby called from her room, "Oh, Dad! Mess! BIG mess! Mess, Dad!" Sure 'nuff, the poor thing was just covered from head to toe. Into the bath, into the laundry, fresh linens and jammies and back to bed.

Today (Tuesday) wasn't much better. The two big boys alternated curling up in bed and skipping meals, although thankfully neither of them threw up today. The two little ones took turns being sick. We've gone through a lot of laundry soap and toilet paper today, folks. Wowsa.

BabyJ and I plan to remain in hiding until the plague passes. It should pass quickly. There's no fever, no aches, no lethargy. We can't figure out what only the kids have eaten that could cause it (Zorak suspected the Easter candy, but I had to admit that, um, I've been nibbling out of the stash pretty regularly, and I'm fine, *grin*) I guess it could be viral, in which case, it's got to be fairly mild. No problems keeping everyone hydrated, at least.

But still... ew, you know? Just. Ew.

And so, back to bed before somebody senses that I'm up and decides to be sick! G'night!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 24

About Saturday's Game(s)

Well, y'all remember Saturday's game/practice schedule... Boy, did that turn out differently than we'd expected! The boys all managed to get up, dressed, geared-up, and out the door on time.

(I took a few pictures, but couldn't get any that really worked in the lighting. It was bright enough, but just not clicking... and it wasn't until just now that I realized what the problem was with the lighting -- it's back there, on the other side, the *morning side*, of the house. We're never up and outside to take pictures with the sun over there!
The boys, however, didn't care at all. They were stoked! They were even willing to mug for me and play it up a bit. This is their "cool" pose:

(Yeah, I have no idea. I was never a little boy.) Anyway, these photos were taken Saturday morning, around eight. And that was the last I saw of two of them... until SIX O'CLOCK THAT NIGHT! James had not one game, but two. Zorak dropped a very worn-out Smidge and EmBaby Duo around 12:30, after James' games ended. Then he and James went on to watch John play, thinking they'd be back shortly.

Well, John had not one game, not two games, but FOUR games. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back. GAH! Turns out, it was an official tournament, tied over from the games the night before (yet nobody thought to mention this, at any point). If you win, you keep playing. All. Day. Long. I didn't send him with food! I had breakfast burritos planned for when he got back! Thankfully, he'd had a high-protein breakfast, and some blessed soul bought team burgers and drinks after game two.

The poor kid played until a quarter to six that night. That's nine hours of playing ball, folks. He's *tough*. And in the end, his team came in second. He's so proud. That medal was enough to keep him awake for the drive home, and if I'd thought to take a picture that night, it would have looked much like the ones posted above, except perhaps his smile's a little bigger. Zorak and James were slightly burnt from nine hours in the sun, and Zorak was just about dead on his feet.

I was right - I so got the better deal on that one! The littles and I stayed on the couch, watching Johnny Quest, episode 1 (over and over - toddler OCD kicks in at the strangest times), singing spider songs, playing with the dog, and calling Daddy to make sure nobody had been taken to the hospital, abducted to Guatemala, or struck by lightning (in other words, to find out why they were gone so long!)

Yeah, it is a good thing they're cute. ;-)
Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 23

The Easter Baby

Welcome, Jason Thomas!! (Far better than Heinrich, I know. *grin*)

Just a short two hours after I posted this morning, our sweet Easter Baby joined the family. After such a long lead-in, he made a quick and easy (relatively speaking, of course) arrival. Zorak and I weren't remotely ready, thinking we still had several hours of labor ahead of us. He was making sausage and biscuits, and I was wondering if he'd put an egg on mine. But you will never, ever hear us complain!)

So here's the pertinent stuff:
* 21" long (which explains how one can bury his head and still have a foot stuffed up Mom's spleen)
* 7lbs. 4 oz. (we took bets on the weight, and we were all off, except Zorak - James swore he couldn't weigh more than three, maybe four pounds - they do look SO tiny!)
* APGARs, 9, 10 (the water was a little cool, so he got docked a point for his color at the start - you'll notice in the pool shots that he is a little blue - but he was not "purple", which is what James told Granny on the phone - I'm hoping Zorak corrected that and didn't leave her thinking we'd nearly lost the little guy.)
* And, of course, his name: Jason Thomas. Not Heinrich. (Sorry, Melora - I thought you knew we were joking!) The boys immediately took a poll, though, just in case, and were all quite relieved to hear the official verdict.He's alert, turns to the sounds of his siblings' voices, nurses like a champ, squeaks like a mouse, cries like a kitten, and does all the wonderful, endearing things newborns do. (Like sleep... he slept beautifully this afternoon, and let me crash like a flaming jumbo jet, as well.)Me-Wa and Me-Tae came down to help with the little ones and be here for the big arrival. Actually, just as Me-Wa walked in, I yelled to the boys, "He's here!" I could hear James ask John, "How did she know?" Well, *I* meant your brother! :-) They were so gracious and so sweet. Their presence really made the whole rest of the day much nicer and easier, both freeing up Zorak to take such good care of me, and letting the kids wallow in being loved. *happy sigh*

I'm sorry to have taken so long to get these posted. I couldn't leave the room without being swarmed (does four count as a "swarm"? Well, it feels like a swarm after the morning we had.) So I stayed holed up in bed, where they could swarm without knocking me over. It was really nice. And I slept. And Zorak made me sauteed shrimp with garlic, roasted turkey, baked potatoes and mixed veggies. You just can't get that anywhere but home. We didn't get a chance to make the chile rellenos, so we'll make those sometime this week, and on the upside, since I won't be, erm, otherwise engaged, I'll be able to take pictures and post the recipe.

Kiss those babies!

Guess What the Easter Bunny Brought?

No, not a baby. (Though that would've been rather handy.) He brought baskets for the kids and contractions for Mommy! Big, ugly, healthy ones. (The contractions, not the baskets. The baskets are actually rather pretty.) YAY! Looks like we'll be having an Easter baby.

I'm pretty sure I jinxed the past three days by showering, doing my hair and makeup, and putting on shoes. Yup. Got up this morning, look like death warmed over, and of course that's the day to take a million photographs for posterity: "our haggard mother". It'll be a lovely album. Hmpf.

Have to share a funny, and then I'm going to go crawl under the bed and wait to see if there's another bunny lurking somewhere who'll bring us the baby, or I'm going to have to actually work for it.

I got up this morning around two with massive heartburn. Made the normal third-trimester laps (bathroom, kitchen, bathroom, back to bed), grabbed my papaya tablets and set the pillows up so I could recline a bit. I fell asleep sucking on papaya tablets, and had the strangest dream. I dreamt I was holding one of the kids' plastic cups and there were jelly beans in it. But I couldn't get them out because the cup had a lid on it. But that cup doesn't have a lid. The discrepancy woke me up, only for me to realize it wasn't a cup, it was the bottle of tablets I was holding and trying to get into. And yes, the lid was on.

I never did get my jelly beans. Maybe the kids will share with me later?

Hopefully the next time I blog, it'll be with an actual baby and an actual name for the baby!

Kiss those babies! And have a blessed Easter!

Friday, March 21

No Fear

It's a good thing they're cute.

Tomorrow's schedule:

8:30AM (AM?!?! *whimper*) - James to the field 10 miles west of us for a 9:00 game

9:00AM (SO not much better than 8:30...) - John to the field 15 miles east of us for a 9:30 game

10:00AM (WHY, rec. association? WHY? Do you people not sleep in?) - Smidge has practice at a different field, but at the same park at James' game

Heh. I get to stay home and labor.

Somehow, I think I'm getting off easy. (Although I do hate missing the kids' games. This will be James' first game, ever. *sniff*)

Fortunately, John's going to get a ride in with one of his team mates. It's really nice to have lived here long enough that we know the other families. It's also really nice of them to call and offer to haul our children, in addition to their own, to the games. It's... well, I'm feeling very blessed about our Forever Home Community right now. We're gathering Our People. People are getting to know us, and to like us, and to look out for us. You can't legislate that kind of community. You have to build it.

So, hideously early timeframe aside, Zorak just has to hold the fort between Smidge and EmBaby (oh, I hope he plans to take EmBaby...) while James' game gets started.

John had a tournament game tonight. James had practice. Smidge was pretty upset to discover he'd been left behind. Well, he'd been sleeping. You couldn't have paid one of us to wake him up to haul him around for that!

Same progress on the labor. Consistent, small contractions. All. Day. Long. Five to seven minutes apart, but still not long. Nothing beyond uncomfortable and irritating. By the time this thing kicks off, we're probably (hopefully?) looking at 30 minutes, tops. Boy, wouldn't that be fantastic?

The boys' uniforms are in the dryer, and I'm going to go wrestle my body pillow from Zorak and catch some shuteye!

Kiss those babies!

What Is This Beauty?

I thought last year it was apple, because of the blossoms. But then, that's why I have to post here for help. Obviously, I don't know an apple blossom from a horse apple. Soooo... Help me out, here.

This is the tree. I circled it in red, and marked the 3' height on the cedar stave in the fence beside it, just to give you an idea of how Eiffel Tower-ish this thing is. I imagine it's either something that grows wild, or, if it's a domesticated plant, it's been neglected for a long, long time. It does bear fruit - there was some left on it from last year's late frost - but I didn't get a good photo of those. (Click on the photo to see a larger image.)
The bark is tight - would this be called "tight scales"?
The leaves - oh, look at that vibrant green of new leaves! They grow in clusters, as you can see here...
And these are the blossoms. Such a brilliant white, and in large clusters of many blooms. They're not terribly hardy, and when the wind kicks up, it looks like it's snowing.
So, fellow readers, any ideas what this tree may be?

Thursday, March 20

I think this is going to be another long one.

My initial post was that "nothing is happening," and that's how it feels. I slept a good part of the day. I wandered from room to room, looking for something to read, to eat, to do... nothing looks interesting. Very restless. But then Zorak asked me to let him know so we could time contractions.

Huh. Whaddya know? They're very regular, 7-10 minutes apart. They're just short in duration. This means two things: it's gonna be a while, and at least they're probably semi-productive. (Wee!) From what I can remember of EmBaby's birth, there was only about 30 minutes of active pushing (although I'd have sworn at the time that it was hours! LOL!)

So. I found a mystery plant and got pictures. I'm going to edit them and beg y'all to help us identify the mystery tree. :-) And then, perhaps we'll watch a movie. Zorak made cookie bars. I'll probably eat the rest of those.

Oh, funny. I just went back to read Em's story, and read this:
I'm anxious for things to pick up the pace a bit. Threw in some laundry, snacked on breakfast leftovers... roaming around looking for something to do. I might go down to the basement and see if I can find a book I haven't read yet (you'd think, considering 3/4 of what we own is books, that wouldn't be a difficult task, eh?)
Sound familiar? Heh. At least this time, all our books are upstairs and I don't have any walls to texture. Pretty cushy, if you ask me.

Thank you for your prayers and cheerleading and general sweet, encouraging words. I really do have the best blog community in the world, you know that?

Kiss those babies!


Well, I slept soundly enough, for which I am thankful. But this morning, things are... still moving... slowly...

This could end up being an irritating few days. At least on my end. ;-) Zorak is home, and that is a great comfort to me. Not that I worry about suddenly being disabled by pitocin-like contractions, stuck at the barn or under a persimmon tree. He's just comforting and soothing to me, and makes me feel that, no matter what comes (or how long it takes...) it'll be okay.

Our pear tree is in bloom. So are two other unidentified fruit-ish looking trees. We found the other apple tree, which doesn't look as degenrate as the first one, and Zorak says he remembers picking an apple from it the first time we looked at the Forever Home. Too bad we couldn't find it back when we were pruning, but maybe it's not too late to nudge it along this year?

I'm going go hike the property and take pictures. Maybe that'll move things along? And if not, we can play a few more rounds of Lazy Man's Plant Identification Guide! (I love playing that - you all are so helpful and share such interesting tidbits!)

At least it's not dull to be in labor in the springtime in the South!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 19

And So It Begins...

Well, folks, it looks like we'll have a new "finished project" to blog sometime this weekend. I was sure hoping to hold out 'til Friday, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. (Part of me thinks it would be really nice, because there is still SO MUCH TO DO, but the cramping and the ache in my back has me thinking we really need to hurry this up and get it over with! Yeouch, I. Am. Such. A. Wuss.)

Fortunately, we slogged through the Health Department's self-perpetuating onslaught and got our Verification of Pregnancy affidavit this afternoon (required to obtain a birth certificate in the State of Alabama). Hopefully, we won't have much trouble getting a birth certificate or SS# this time around! But man, oh, man, getting out of there without signing up for WIC, Medicaid, Food Stamps... I don't know how many times I had to repeat, "No, we just want a verification of pregnancy letter. That is all I want, and I only want that because of this state's legislation. We neither qualify for, nor desire, enrollment in any of these programs, thank you." James beat me to the punch and said it for me at one point. He was respectful to the nurse, but I think he was surprised by how incredibly pushy they were down there. (Although probably not as surprised as every employee there, who kept up the sales pitch and simply couldn't understand *why* we wouldn't want to sign up for their "free" services.) The funniest part was that they actually made me take a u/a to verify pregnancy. The most exhausting part was that it took an HOUR to get out of there.

We stopped at Sonic and bought three bags of ice. I don't have to leave the house for a week, now! WOOHOO!

We bought groceries for Easter supper (which, if you're planning to come, will be prepared entirely by Zorak this year - thankfully, he loves to cook, and he's good at it!) And my sweet Zorak asked me to pick up some Anaheim chiles and jack cheese. Guess who's gettin' rellenos again! SCORE! I feel so LOVED! (I am so loved.)

Meanwhile, Zorak's been doing a little nesting of his own. The fence pickets are all up now, and it looks spectacular. All we're missing is the front gate and the stain. Talk about exciting stuff!

I'm gonna go beg one last back rub and lay down for a bit. As much as I'd love to blog this, I'm really hoping and praying we aren't looking at another two and a half day labor! (Not that I don't love y'all, but a girl can only take so much of this stuff. *grin*) However, I'll check in later, anyway.

Can't wait to kiss my baby!

Monday, March 17


I had a sweet, poignant post all made up in my head, but it has a picture that needed to go with it. I just spent ten minutes looking for the camera so I could upload it and regale you with Smidge's utter Cuteness on the field today... turns out, it's still in the car. And it's dark out there. And to be honest, I get all stiff and hobbly when I walk. So that's just going to have to wait for tomorrow.

We picked up the dog. He's lost weight and he smells like the mudholes elk rut in. It's disgusting. But he's otherwise just fine, and was very happy to see his children. He even shed all over the car on the ride home, just to share his joy with us. The car now smells like something died in it, right after servicing the herd. *shudder* This wasn't the best trip for the ol' pregnant olfactory functions.

The retrieving of the dog pretty much threw the rest of my nicely laid plans right out the window, and we spent the rest of the morning playing with him (mostly in the form of trying to keep him downwind from us while still being affectionate), airing out the car, and then... off to the fields. Tonight was a snap - two practices, same park, same start time. WOOHOO! I could go year-round if it was always like that!

EmBaby has been out of diapers for three days. She's still striking out on the Big Jobs, but for your basic functions, she's 100% dry. Even after naptime. Even at the ball field. (And you'll be glad to know I'm keeping in shape by making the trek to and from the bathrooms every twenty minutes. Considering it takes us five to get there, five to get back, and five to hang out and touch. every. single. thing. in the stall, that gives me a five minute rest between laps! Not a bad cardio plan, really.) And the best part is that it's of her own volition! I just ask if she's still dry, give her a High-Five for being dry, and call it good. Success. Can't ask for an easier job than that!

The balcony project still has not begun. The pickets we thought we could use on the front panels of the fence, we can't. Rats. The fence is still lingering, waiting for a row of pickets before we can move on to the balcony. Everything else is done on it, though, and it's really nice! The wire is strung along the back, stretched nice and tight. The Plan for the backyard is starting to take shape, too, now that we have visible parameters. Just as I lamented that we're three weeks behind schedule, a friend suggested I look at it more positively. She said we aren't three weeks behind, we're "a full week ahead of being a month late". Well, heh, when you put it that way, right... (well, actually, when you put it that way, I have to wonder if she's been into the rum. But she makes me smile, and she's wonderfully supportive, and I'd share my rum with her, any day.)

Our addition of typing and piano to the curriculum is a huge hit so far. That's my happy spot for right now: the children's sweet smiles, total enthusiasm, and warm hugs. Happy Spot, indeed. And now, it's a little late, so I'm going to meander back to my other Happy Spot and drift off to dream of dogs in baseball suits chasing children through open fences while some lopsided freak plays piano tunes on the balcony-o-death. Er, something like that. (Sometimes it's best that we don't always remember our dreams.)

Kiss those babies!

How ya doin?

Me? Well, it seems I've gone mildly insane the past couple of days. Just when I was beginning to worry that this might necessitate medication (or, preferably for all involved, forced isolation and a regular supply of crushed ice), Erin mentioned that this might possibly be "nesting". These are the symptoms:

* Irrationally irate response to clutter in any form.
* Sudden desire to sort every. piece. of. clothing. we. own.
* Absolute inability to think about things like "preparing food" when there is cleaning to be done.
* Delusional fantasies that involve me wanting to do things like help stretch fencing and pour concrete... yeah, now. Riiiight.

Oh. That nesting.


I'm really, really hoping to go this weekend. Friday would be nice. Not that we have a say in these things, really, but that would give me a couple more days to finish terrorizing everyone in the house with my Susan Powder-meets-Martha Stewart tirades, and one more Thursday to tweak how that day goes, and then we have a nice, long three-day weekend with Zorak, anyway.

My family is probably praying I'll go into labor tonight and just end the roller coaster ride. I wouldn't put it past them to spike my Cherry Lemon Sun Drop with castor oil, just to buffer the odds.

The stoopid dog jumped the fence earlier in the week, and I've got to say that while I've worried about him, I haven't missed him. At all. The kids have. I think Zorak has. I was kind of hoping someone would just fall in love with his furry little ears and big brown eyes and KEEP HIM. But no, we got a call this morning from a gentleman who has him. So as soon as I post this, we're going to load up and go retrieve the non-repentant little Prodigal and bring him home. But seriously, what am I going to do with an 80-pound fence jumper? Oh, I know, keep him and love him and keep working with him on it. I know. It's good.

Sunday, March 16

See, we're not that weird!

I just checked Amazon to see if they have the inflatable aquarium pool we love so much for birthing in, and they do. But not only that, the bundle "offer" that came up with it was this:

Better Together

Buy this item with Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin today!

So obviously it's a pretty popular birthing purchase. That made me laugh.
Nice to know we're not "entirely" weird! :-D
Kiss those babies!

Friday, March 14

A Joke From James

What would the Seven Dwarfs sing on their way to work in today's world?

IO, IO, it's off to work we go!

(When he first told me this joke, I thought he was saying, "I owe", which I've heard before, but then he smiled his impish smile and said, "You know, binary, ones and zeroes?" Oh! Gah, who wakes up thinking these things up? He always makes me smile.)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, March 13

A New Thursday Plan

Traditionally, our school week has run Mondays through Thursdays, year-round, with Fridays off for errands, appointments, and hanging out with Dad. After today, I realized that is not going to work this year. For some reason, the planets, stars and traffic lights have all aligned to make Thursdays our new Activity Days. (If I didn't know I'd be getting out of it here in a couple of weeks, I might have a more colorful moniker for it, but we'll use this. For now. Zorak may voluntarily rename it himself after the baby is born.)

The two big boys have piano on Thursdays. This made sense to me when I scheduled their lessons, as it requires a drive into town and we could hit the market on the way home. It wouldn't interfere with Zorak's alternate days off, or with any spontaneous long weekend plans we might want to make. Boy, did I feel smart! (S-M-R-T...)

But then, I'd forgotten about Scouts. The boys' pack meets Thursday evenings. Well, okay, I thought, that's not too bad. It still gives us most of the afternoon to finish up projects and lessons, and we can still have supper together as a family before they have to go.

But THEN (and all you well-seasoned baseball families started laughing at me two paragraphs ago, didn't you?) I'd forgotten about baseball. Specifically, about how three teams' worth of children might muddy the scheduling waters.

As it turns out, two out of three have practices Every. Stinkin'. Thursday. Smidge probably will, too. I'll find out more on Monday. I'm afraid to find out more.

My beautifully orchestrated Thursday brainchild has suddenly morphed into scheduling hell, erm, "Activity Thursdays". We have to be somewhere, or en route to somewhere, from one in the afternoon until NINE THIRTY at night! Kill me now. Please.

The boys handled the stress quite well today. I am beyond proud of them. EmBaby held it together very well, also. Can't complain about the success of our indoctrination plan: "Flexibility, Grace, and A Can-Do Teamwork Attitude" (or, as I call it in my lesser moments, "Just work with me here, will ya?") By six o'clock, though, I knew something would have give.

*cue drum roll* *angels sing* *light shines in a very conspicuous manner from above*

What we have here is another beautiful point for the Homeschooling Flexibility Plan (HFP). For the rest of Spring Term (and possibly Every Spring Term Hereafter), we'll implement the HFP. We'll now have school on alternate Fridays, with Thursdays reserved for Music, PE, and Group Study. Yay. (I was going to say "Thursdays off", but Zorak pointed out that it's not like we're all sitting around on beanbags, eatin' Cheetos, watchin' TV. Yet another reason I love this man.)

We'll spend Thursday mornings in preparation for the Activity Gauntlet, instead. My hope is that by enacting the HFP, we can attempt to make at least 80% of our obligations under the following conditions:
1. Nobody's out of breath from bolting across three parking lots.
2. Nobody's crying because Mommy lost it and threatened to move to The Mosquito Coast.
3. Nobody has to starve during one of the many Long Periods At The Field.
4. We don't go broke at the Snack Shack in order to meet condition #3.
5. All gear is, if not actually ON the correct child, as least IN the correct vehicle.
6. We can come out of the season without major scarring, an automobile accident, or having left someone at home (at piano, at Scouts, etc.) inadvertently.

If we can keep our focus on the fact that each of the activities they're in, when taken separately (and preferably on different days), are high-quality, life-enriching activities, each chosen for a clear purpose and in order to provide specific benefits, and that all of the above activities are those which the children enjoy and from which they learn a great deal... (breathe in, breathe out)... then I think we're all good.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, March 12

No matter how you look at it,

It's no fun to be sick.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, March 10

Quick Update

Em's napping and the boys are supposed to be reading quietly in their room. I've got to wake her here in a bit and throw the two Littles in the tub, so I'm taking a water break and trying to bolster myself for the Rest Of The Day. We have to be at the field at four, and won't be done til eight, so I figured I'd blog now because I don't think I'll have time to blog tonight.

Forever Home Update:
We're about two weeks behind on the big projects. What's coming along, however, is coming along nicely. I think the only thing we won't get to by Zorak's birthday is installing the new kitchen window. That's okay, though. It'll come.

I was mistaken when I said the creek "nearly" overflowed its banks the other day. It did flow over - straight over the driveway! Washed away eight inches of top soil/gravel and two rows of cinder blocks! It nearly dislodged the railroad timbers that form the skeletal structure of the drive over the culvert. YIKES! We've got to do some major shoring up of the drive or we'll find ourselves having to park at the courthouse and hoofing it two miles to the house. ;-)

Zorak's picking up t-posts and a driver this afternoon, and then we'll buy the pickets and the wire on Thursday. The back yard will be completed, and, weather permitting, stained and lovely by the end of this weekend! WOOHOO!

School Update:
Gem, you'd asked about Smidge's work. I'll write up -- *hang on, have to go threaten, erm, remind the children what "reading quietly" means* -- *ok, I'm back* -- anyhow, I'll write up an general list of the things we use for his 'schooling' sometime this week and get it posted.

The two older children have just about finished their spring term. They've done quite well, and are looking forward to doing things a little differently for a month or two.

The new keyboard should be delivered Wednesday, which is good, because the boys have lessons on Thursday and I'd feel more than a bit sheepish if they hadn't touched a key all week. They're both thrilled about the lessons, though, and have done all their theory work for the week already. I think this will be a good addition to our routine.

General Update:
Today, the boys are a bit flighty. I am a bit cranky. There's still much to be done. What an ugly combination! Sheesh. You'd think we'd have a better plan in place than "wing it til something either clicks or falls apart". But, no. No, that is the plan, at least for today. Fortunately, once the Littles are bathed and the wash is put away, all we'll have to do is make up burritos to take to the field, load the wagon and go. I'm actually looking forward to the afternoon spent on the grass. :-)

Ok, timer beeped. Time to rouse the sleeping beauty and see if I can squeegee enough dirt off her to take her out in public.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 9

Time To Slow It Down A Bit

(A post in which it seems I've decided to abuse quotation marks and hypenation. You've been warned.)

I've been feeling a bit punky the past couple of days, and I think it's time to slow down. Not slow-down-relatively-speaking, but honest-to-goodness-slow-the-heck-down.

We had a prenatal appointment Friday, and while there is nothing "wrong", things weren't quite as "spot on" as I'd like them to be. The swelling's getting worse - up to my knees now, and leaves imprints if I lean on something (ew - but not to the point of having to worry, as it's not in my hands or face, and there are no other concerns on that end), my blood pressure (while not even close to being considered "high") is high-for-me, I'm throwing a little protein (again, not enough to raise the flag of alarm, but a little, which I've never done before), and little Heiney is now measuring smaller than the last visit (which we think is b/c he's snugged in so tightly and so far down that the midwife could only feel the nape of his neck - that's a good thing, generally speaking, although not-comfortable-in-the-least from my perspective).

Then yesterday, I was out of breath and crampy all morning. Finally, in the midst of fixing breakfast, I did something I've never done before. I fixed myself a plate, asked Zorak to feed everyone else, and hid in my room. Well, "hid" is a relative term. I went to my room, whereupon everybody followed me. But still, at least I was holed up in bed with a high-protein plate of food and all the water Smidge could bring me in many, many trips with a 3oz. cup. I think he covered a good mile with all the trips he made. (He's so good to me. gush-gush) And then, I napped. Sweet, blissful, guilt-free napping from mid-morning til after noon. Felt much better.

But it still took a few hours for me to realize that *this* is exactly what I need to be doing more of.

So, I'm going to do more of it.

Which means that unless I can come up with some way to make the inside of my eyelids into an interesting blog post, or regale you all with detailed analysis of the thread count on my sheets, the next week's worth of blogging may be a bit... um, incoherent? Boring? I don't know. Maybe I can get Zorak to guest blog once in a while or something, right?

And so, early-to-bed, it's 10:37 and I'm off for a nap!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, March 8

Oh, we had fun!

Our Wonderful Neighbors arrived Wednesday night. The kids picked up like it hasn't actually been three years since they've seen one another. Erin came in. The kids disappeared on the property. We have no photos from Wed, other than this one, which Zorak couldn't resist taking at bedtime. That's a pile. of. children. Doesn't it look like fun?

Thursday morning, all the kids were up by SIX-THIRTY! ACK! No time to lose, right? They ate and headed out to play. They played all day. Erin and I spent most of the day standing at the window, oogling the children, ooohing and ahhhing over how much they've grown and how totally fantastic they are.

The boys had their first piano lessons Thursday, so I ran them in for that while Erin stayed with the littles. Then, due to the freakish weather we've been having, the coaches all decided to schedule impromptu practices Thursday evening. I ran John to practice, made several parts runs (the compressor on the Suburban died last week, so Zorak worked on that for us), and then Zorak tagged me out so I could stay and visit with Erin while he took James to his practice at six. I was exhausted. Erin and I sat and visited and had a really nice time. More child-watching, more oohing. Definitely more ahhing. We didn't realize until Friday morning that there are NO photos from Thursday, at all. We're losers.

Friday was also good. The weather turned cold-cold, but Zorak fired up the plough disk and a little fire so the kids could have a cook-out and play outside. HUGE hit with the kids.

I'll tell you, these kids make having seven look like a cake walk. They are all. such. great. kids. We tried to convince her to leave them here, but she didn't figure she'd get such a great reception with the Grandparents if she arrived without them.

And, here's a picture of the two preggo women after they lumbered down to the fire. Yes, it looks like we've been camping for a week straight. I love friends who don't care if you wear make up or do your hair. :-)

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Tuesday, March 4

Beauty is...

Definitely in the eye of the beholder.

This is the ex-Zen waterfall back in the Scary Room. The tar paper funnel? Unnecessary now. (Well, and partially useless to begin with, but that's what we had at the time.) There is a bit of dampness (Amy, I won't use the "m" word in this post, just because you're still recovering and I adore you - but it is "m" down there.) What there is not, however, is actual FLOW, conveyance, or white water rapids.

It rained harder last night than it has in over a year. The creek nearly flooded. There is debris along the edge of the drive, it came up that high. Zorak actually called to ask that I keep the kids away from the creek today because it was so full and moving so quickly. That's a LOT. Of. Rain, folks.

Until now, this basement has flooded in the kind of light rains that Bert and Mary Poppins dance in. Normally, you can hear the water flowing when you go into the basement. This morning? Silence. Sweet, semi-dry silence. And after I screwed up the courage to open the door and look I was quite delighted to find it THIS dry. Also, up top, there are usually small pools (filled with some kind of aquatic life, I'm sure, something like Smeagol), but as far as I could tell - not that I scampered up that embankment - there aren't any!

And all we did (well, all Zorak did - I stood there and pretended to be able to eyeball the slope) was the dirt work from the last couple of weekends! WOOHOO!

So, now...

A french drain...

Some foliage...

It'll soon be dry and snug under there. (Not that I'll want to hang out in it, even then, but, you know, it'll be progress.)

And yes, it's still an ugly room. But that nearly dry corner? Beautiful!


*for the record, Zorak objects to the use of the phrase "screwed up the courage" - he says it sounds like I messed it up somehow. But you know, I really, truly didn't want to open that door, and I can't think of a better way to phrase it!*

Monday, March 3

A Work Day

First, we worked. We dug post holes. Emily drove the tractor. Emily found the cement water. Ack! We washed Emily off and put her back on the tractor. She didn't seem to mind.

We dug some more. Cleaned off the back porch. The front porch. The muddy shoes from the front porch (so that's where all the shoes have been!)

And then, having earned our keep for the morning, we settled in to enjoy the fruits of our labor with a picnic on the back porch!

The boys thought this was a pretty great way to start the morning. Me, too.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 2

It's Feeling Like Springtime!

It was in the 70's today, and absolutely "glorious", as James put it. Zorak worked on the garden, the yard, and the fence. I worked on the house. We turned off the HVAC and flung wide the doors. (We also let in the spiders and moths. Oops.)

The children alternated between climbing trees to perch up there and read (which sounds infinitely more romantic than it is - they're all covered in scratches and bark-burn now, and we've yet to locate one of the books), and helping with the work. Emily free-ranged most of the day, buried a pair of shoes in a pile of leaves, rode her tricycle down the driveway, talked a brother into hauling it back up for her. All-in-all, a really great day.

Me-Wa and Me-Tae came out mid-afternoon and visited. The guys got a good portion of the fence panels put up. John learned how to mix concrete. EmBaby delighted in having her "Nice Terry" (her personal name for Me-Tae) to wallow in all afternoon. I didn't accomplish much at that point other than fetching the occasional beer, and enjoying a relaxing visit with friends. Good stuff, that.

Erin and her little brood of chicks (most of the familial unit of our Wonderful Neighbors from MD) will be here in just a few more days. We'll turn the whole flock loose to play in the mud while us preggo mamas sit on the porch and gestate in the lovely Spring Weather. The kids are stoked, but I think I'm actually more excited about this visit than they are.

Did you have a lovely weekend, too? I hope so!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, March 1

Keeping Busy

It is difficult to remain mired in pity when one's hands and mind are engaged in more productive endeavors.

Isn't that a fun thing to say? I just love it. I love that picture, too. (Although it's been mangled beyond recognition by a wildly over-caffeinated woman who has neither the software nor the ssense to be futzing with photograps. You know that point where an artist's eye whispers to the artist's brain, "That's it. Stop... there." She doesn't have an articulate eye, not even a mumbling one. But she had fun, nonetheless.)

That's a shot of one of the Giant's Cairns that lie atop each of the many dirt piles around the property now. (Many? There was only one dirt pile when this all started... are these rabbit mounds?) Well, regardless of where the piles have come from, wandering giants can now find their way from the main road to the house for water and snacks by simply following the cairns. (Might want to remind the boys: giants eat children.)

Today was busy. Productive. Laundry, meals, grading, scraping, a rousing game of Musical Ball Fields from one 'til four, supper, washing, mending, hugging and encouraging... No room for pouty or whiny. Scads of room, however, for a round or two of Let's-pass-out-exhausted - played by all the children until about 8:30, when the last of the kids crashed and the house fell silent. Whew. That's a day well-lived!
Kiss those babies!