Thursday, May 29

So Busy!

I have something Very Exciting to share! But I don't want to blow it just yet by saying anything without posting pictures. This is killing me. (No, we aren't pregnant, and nothing identifiable is actually growing in the garden.) Maybe I can pick up the construction debris enough to post pictures soon? (It's not a finished balcony, either - the rain didn't stop until last night!)

We've worked and worked and worked... and worked. Today we drive and drive and drive. Dentist appointment for me. Piano for the boys. Tournament games for all three kids. Plus, groceries and general planning/cleaning to do.

We get to rent-a-kid on Friday! Well, actually, it's another homeschooling mom who is loaning out her teenager for manual labor over the summer. :-) He's a very sweet boy to agree to come help, and it'll be a serious blessing to have those extra hands. He's a huge help to his mom, but they don't have any manly-man jobs left to do on their house, and she'd like him to have some experience in that realm. Definitely a win-win for everyone: he gets experience, we get help, and she knows he's with people who aren't going to use the Slave Trader method of motivation on her son. I hope we can find people to help work the boys if we're out of things for them to do when they're teenagers.

That said, I've got about half an hour to do some sewing before I need to start making phone calls. Have a great day!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 27

Um... no.

We are just slightly to the right of the red stuff north of the I-65 sign in this picture. Yet, the baseball reps are refusing to cancel John's game tonight. (Supposed to start in one hour - do *you* see a clear spot coming in behind that in the next hour?)

It's been raining steadily since yesterday afternoon, folks! No other teams in the league are playing tonight, and we cannot figure out why on earth they won't cancel this one. However, we just had thunder that shook the entire house... I haven't seen lightning yet, but that doesn't mean I won't.

No, we're not going. Don't care if it's a tournament. Don't care if it's a "big game". This is a lesson in prioritizing. And, from the looks of it, making sure the flashlights all have good batteries!

They cancelled the game at the eleventh hour. If we'd planned to go, we'd have already been on the road to get there. *whew* Good call, refs! Good call! ;-)

G'night! Kiss those babies!


Here's a sillcock. This one has all the goodies in ours: anti-siphon, freeze proof, metal ears. It's one of those things you just don't give much thought to, until it leaks, or breaks, or... you don't have one.

Life. Is. Good.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 26

Mmm-mmm, good.

We accomplished so much today. It was fantastic. But my favorite parts of the weekend had nothing to do with progress, or preparation, or anything on our To-Do List. My favorite parts were, as photographed...
* listening to James play the recorder as he sat cross-legged on the bumper buddy...
* watching John rig a contraption for carrying the bucket as he collected pine cones (Zorak and I agree that while he would do just fine on a deserted island, he's enjoy it way too much and douse the fire anytime he heard a plane -- we'd never hear from him again)...
* gardening with EmBaby, and wondering how it is that toddlers can beat the odds and get those little shoes on the wrong feet, every. single. time. But oh, what precious little backward feet...
* looking at Smidge and realizing he's just not much of a Smidge anymore -- he's growing up fast...

This is why we do it, you know. I need to print this photo collage out and tape a copy up in every room, for those times I can't quite wrap my mind around why we're doing this. I just need to remember that I won't find the answer on any list. I have to look around to really see the A-list priorities.

Of course, that said, we worked 'em like black-market child labor all weekend. :-) The upper meadow is mowed and de-limbed. The entire front yard is seeded and mulched. There are five happy little hostas planted in front of the porch. We dismantled the old stringers, removed another good chunk of the brick steps, gathered the bricks and cement debris from the sidewalk we'd pulled up, and took them down to begin filling the driveway holes and building up where the creek had washed away a good five feet of drive over the culvert. We tidied up the construction zone, gathered wood and kindling for a bonfire, and worked in the garden.

Zorak installed not one, but two, sillcocks at the upper end of the house -- one for the front yard and garden areas, one for the back yard. WOOHOO! (That one is almost as exciting to me as the day we got indoor plumbing!)

I finally made it to the fabric store for muslin, the missing key component in the reupholstery project that is destined to make Brand New Furniture sound like a great idea the next time something goes to pot around here, and velcro.

Then, the kids feasted on Otter Pops and played. Zorak and I are going to collapse.

Five days til the birthday bbq. Still trying to line up a bush hog. Need to firm up rental reservations tomorrow. Need to start the shopping list, and buy a grill. Oh, and finish that couch.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 25

The Awesome Saturday

We got up, fed the kids, spot-cleaned uniforms (the boys wore their jerseys to Smidge's party - it made him feel very proud, and I think the big boys got a kick out of it, too. But, of course, they got mustard, ketchup, and grass stains all over them.) AND out the door for a 9:00 game! WOOHOO!!


The field, glistening in the morning dew (or maybe that was just the glow of being on time?)...

was totally empty...


I called the coaches. Turns out, there are no games this weekend. There was enough uproar that they moved all the games. Huh. Well, cool. It's nine o'clock, and we're up, awake, and ready to tackle... um... something else.

Zorak finished the lumber bids. He put up a post or two. He would have accomplished more if the rest of us didn't keep needing his help.

I tilled the front yard. By the time we're done with the tilling, I should have shoulders and forearms that would shame the old East German swim team! Yeah, that's a sexy look for summer. Until then, however, I'm so not there, yet. Zorak had to restart it for me, every time. At one point, I wanted to throw an old-fashioned temper tantrum because I. Cannot. get this thing to start. Makes me feel so helpless, and I hate it. Fortunately, he doesn't complain about having to stop what he's doing to come help me. He always says, "It's tricky" - which is probably a lie - then he smiles and winks at me and sometimes gives me a kiss. That takes some of the sting out of it.
John helped me plant the hostas. Smidge and Emily drowned them. I think we should have put water lilies there. We found some more hostas in the sloped yard, and since there isn't enough sun, they aren't very big, so I think we're going to move those today up to the foundation area.
John moved all the limbs out of the back yard. He tossed bricks out of the back yard. He dumped cement into the driveway. He helped tidy the house. That child is a Work Horse of the First Order. He's amazing when he puts on his game face.

James took care of JT most of the day - having him around is like having Super Nanny - he's fantastic. He finally got the baby settled on the porch with his bouncy seat, where he happily hung out talking to spider webs and hummingbirds for the rest of the afternoon. When James wasn't busy with the baby, he gathered all the pine cones from the yard for the bonfire next week, and kept busy doing tidy work on the garden bed and the rest of the meadow.

We took on the poison ivy. We won't win, but we can hold it at bay while the company is here.

We put grass seed down on a quarter of the lawn, and mulched it with straw. I've got to get pictures of that process today. Oh, my word, the kids are SO cute spreading the straw! James and John may not be big, but they can manhandle a bale with gusto. One flake is as big as EmBaby, and she feels SO BIG helping to spread it around. If I hadn't been afraid my shoulders would seize up and refuse to move, I'd have stopped working to just watch them do their thing.

We took a break to check our fruits. As we walked past one tree, I told Zorak, "I swear, that tree looks like it should BE something." He stopped, stared, and said, "Um, it is!" Hey, whaddya know! We've got another fruiting tree! It looks like it's a pear, although a different variety than *the* pear tree we've been working on all this time. How. Cool. The count is now up: two apples, two pears, one peach. It's like Christmas in May!

Can't wait to see what we accomplish and find today!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, May 23


The ultimate cake to take to the end-of-season game? Baseball cupcakes!

1. Make cupcakes.

2. Make white icing (powdered sugar, lard, butter flavoring, and a titch of salt). Make it a little thin, with just a bit of meringue powder. This way, it will go on the cupcakes easily, self-level to a smooth, uniform surface, then harden in place. Voila!

3. Use red icing, and a small, round tip to pipe on the stitching - two half-circle lines opposite one another for the seams, like looking at the top of a baseball. Then pipe a series of short "stitches" going across the red half-circles.

4. For a real thrill -- complete with the kind of leaping up and down and spontaneous leg-hugging you get only from excited four-year-olds -- individualize the cupcakes with the kids' jersey numbers. (But be sure to take extras that look *exactly* the same, sans jersey number, for siblings - no matter how cool your other cupcakes look, they will pale in comparison and go untouched.)

So. Easy. Especially if you have either a) help, or b) a press-style decorator. The bag works beautifully, but unless you have calloused tendons from years of cake decorating already, the cramping starts in around the sixth cupcake.

By the twelfth cupcake, I began to appreciate child slave labor.

By the end of two dozen, my hands were shaking so badly, I was certain I'd developed a sudden-onset form of Parkinson's.

Oh, and #5 - take pictures *before* you leave for the party. The cupcakes won't last long enough to get a single shot once you arrive.

Kiss those babies!


I have no idea why I'm so excited about that! I don't work outside the home. I don't get the weekend off. It must be some residual Pavlovian training.

Smidge has a team party today. He's thrilled. I'm panicky. I'd offered to make the cake, but then never got any further information from the coach's wife. Yeah, I'm good like that. So, as soon as the boys are done getting their room picked up, we're off for more powdered sugar and some beer.

Oh, speaking of alcohol in a dry county in the Bible belt... Y'all remember my last awkward t-shirt moment? Well, folks, I did it again. Smidge had the last game of the regular season. We had a Very Busy day, what with all of whatever we did on Tuesday. (I don't remember, but I do remember being rather harried and working outside.) John had a game at the same time, another field. We did the ol' one-two, slow-down-and-kick-'em-off-at-the-field drop. (I like to pretend they're paratroopers and I'm the cool Army pilot.)

Got to Smidge's field, dropped everything I had in my hands (including the carseat with Jason in it - but he's just a paratrooper-in-training, so he only had to drop three inches - but still, that was probably enough), and plopped down in my seat just as one of the other moms said, "Been one of those days?"

"Yeah," I mumbled, as I looked down, only to realize that the "rodeo" t-shirt I'd put on for yard work was still my main attire. And, if you've ever been to a rodeo in the West, you know they're all sponsored by (say it with me!) COORS! Yeah, that's me - the frantic woman in the alcoholic beverage shirt at the youth activity. If you're ever down this way, I'll be easy to spot, so you can come say hi, or give me a wide berth. I'd understand, either way.

In relating the story to Zorak later that night, he pointed out that you don't usually get COORS this far east. That made me feel better, until I saw that the folks who printed the shirt must have had that in mind, because they made a point of writing, in block letters, "BEER" across the bottom of the picture. Oh, well. Anybody who'll be that offended by something like this would probably be even more offended by getting to know us better, anyway. So it's a good thing. I'll think of it as a friend-filtering device. If you take yourself *that* seriously, you don't want to know us better.

Oh, my. And then, to highlight the point. EmBaby is having animal crackers in milk for breakfast. She wanted them cracked. So while I'm cracking the little animal crackers into her precious little bowl, she's singing me a song, "You're crapping the animal crackers. Crapping the crackers. You're crapping the animal crackers, just for me!" And I'm trying very, very hard not to laugh like a 12 year-old boy. Some of the precious toddler words, I will miss - words like "kingcummer" for cucumber, "weepoh" for Webelos, "cammer" for camera, and "plantit" for planet. Those are so very precious and endearing. But I think it'll be a good thing when she gets a handle on the whole "ck" ending sound. A good thing, indeed.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, May 22

No Title Today

Can't think of one. However, is there anything more relaxing than a canopy of Dogwood leaves?Saw the periodontist yesterday. He said the underlying tooth is surprisingly intact, structurally, and thinks a new crown can be reset on it. He referred me to a new dentist when I expressed my concerns with the one who had originally referred me to the perio. (The upside of getting a dental referral from a periodontist is that he sees the work of all the dentists around, and can steer you in a direction that may fit well with your needs! I *really* hope this pans out!) I showed him the concrete-like slab my last dentist put in, and he said this new guy does fantastic restorative work. Say a prayer, please? I go in today at 1:30.

I've accomplished diddly-squat around here, lately, other than treading water and barely keeping up with feeding and cleaning. This weekend, I'm locking the children outside with little satchels of snacks, bottles of water, and a GPS so that I can finish up:

* the couch (the book I mentioned last week did seem to help, at least with pointing out what an idiot I am, and where I've gone wrong thus far - so, that's good),

* the covers for the barstools (my initial plan hasn't worked so well - they're a PITB to get off to wash, and so, they don't get washed -- ew),

* hopefully the new curtains for our room (because the current blankets-on-nails motif is just soooo early "Broke Undergrad"),

* and curtain trim for EmBaby's room (she's had Thomas curtains this whole time -- not imperative to correct, but would be nice, I'm sure).

Hopefully, we can also borrow a tiller and get some seed planted, as well as put the two little hostas in the ground before they go into total shock and die back completely. I still have to go talk to the neighbors about keeping their chickens in check for a couple of weeks, so the seeds (both lawn and garden) can take root instead of becoming chicken feed. Not looking forward to that, but I think I've just made it bigger in my head than it needs to be. I *will* suck it up and take care of that before Saturday. (Hold me accountable!)

And, as you can see, Smidge is still into both baseball, and posing for pictures (he actually scrambled to get his glove when he saw me stalking him with the camera!)...

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 20


Oh, man. Nobody warned us that Brindlee Mtn. is WAY. THE. HECK. OUT. THERE. Or, that it's atop an actual mountain. (I didn't know we even had mountains around here!) It took longer to get to James' game last night than it takes Zorak to get to work in the mornings! AND, since it was way the heck UP there, as well, although it was 81 at our place, it certainly wasn't 81 up there. We froze. We also didn't get home until ten.

The kids played hard last night. The final score was 23-4. I hate games like that, even when we're the ones with 23 runs (and we aren't always - our kids have had their share of spankings this season, as well). There are 11 other children who played hard, stayed up late, and still felt the disappointment of getting spanked on the field. We much prefer a close, well-matched game, for overall enjoyment factor. The team our guys played, though, had some players with serious heart. One kid got "cleated" - our guy slid into the base just as their guy reached down with the ball and, *ka-pow* cleats to the back of the hand. Yeouch. I can't believe he shook it off and stayed on the field! I'd have spent the rest of the game at the snack shack, trying to get free sno-cones "for my hand".

Gotta call the dentist today. Last night one of my crowns fell prey to a killer grilled cheese sandwich. *sigh* Go figure, it's the one I paid almost $2000 for in Arizona. The one I paid $350 for in Mexico is still standing strong. Gah, I'm so over the dental issues.

Today, also, we've got to straighten the wall in the barn garden, and finish baiting the fire ant mounds. Thrills-a-minute this week, folks! Just wait til Thursday, when we sort underwear drawers! You won't believe what wild and crazy guys we are!

Ok, ok, now I'm just getting silly. I'm going to go. You have a great day. I'll post pictures tonight, or something. To make up for the lousy posting this week. Honest. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 19

Conversations and Tidbits

James: Will aphids bite?

Me: No, they're just irritating.

James: Oh. Ok-- uh, irritating, as in annoying? Or irritating as in, they will irritate your skin?

Me: Just annoying.

James: Well, that's good!


We have decorative ivy climbing the new fence! It's pretty cool.
We have poison ivy climbing everything else. Not so cool.
We found earthworms.
We found fire ants.
We found a butterfly.
We found grubby, leggy, swarmy things. (I think it was a disturbed ant bed.)
So, in general, we're not making fantastic headway out there.
But it's not all bad, either.
But I am seriously done with the Mary Poppins attitude to landscaping today.


James: I found a swarm of something in one of the bricks. They look like maggots, with legs. Like this. (Makes legs with his fingers sticking from his abdomen.) Can I touch it?

Me: (It's only 12:26, and I am SO done doing the yardwork-with-kids thing already.) Honey, if you find a brick swarming with anything, just leave it be.

James: (Not looking at me...) Like that?

Me: What?

James: Like that.

Me: Like... what?

James: Like that bee? (Points at a hovering bee on the porch.)



EmBaby: Em 'a want 'a swing!

Me: (There's an empty swing right in front of her.) Well, ok, go swing.

EmBaby: Em 'a want 'a THAT swing. (The one her brother is in, of course.)

Me: Well, that one's in use, Baby. You can pick one of the other swings...

EmBaby: *bursts into tears*

Me: Well, Love, a fit won't get you what you want. If you need to throw this fit, you can do it in your room. If you want to swing, you need to stop with the fit.

EmBaby: *sniff* *sniff* OK. I all done. *sniff* Em 'a want 'a swing.

(What's the computer code for an endless loop? Yeah, insert that right about... here.)


And the general MO of the day: don't think about what you do before you do it.

EmBaby comes to me, crying that John bonked her in the head with a dirt clod.

Gah. We have discussed this, I don't know how many times. We. Do. Not. Throw. Dirt. Period. (But particularly not at people.)

Me: JOHN! Did you throw dirt clods?

John: (in his most humble, I really don't want to be telling the truth right now, voice) Yes.

Me: Don't we have some kind of guideline about that?

John: Don't do it.

James: Um, Mom. I was part of that. You know how when you throw dirt clods and they come apart due to the... something-something... friction and gravity... mumble-something... time-space continuum... average PSI... inhalation... (OK, I wasn't paying attention - his explanations get overly involved and unnecessarily exhausting. I've taken to standing there, looking stern until his lips stop moving and he makes eye contact again. So shoot me. But I did give him immediate credit for 'fessing up to his part in it before I even had to ask.)

Basically, they were playing some kind of game wherein James rides his bike and John tries to hit him with dirt clods as he goes by. Aside from the fact that I think that's a weird thing to play, I have other problems with it. The thing about moving targets, of course, being that they often bring into the line of fire non-moving, non-targets. And when you're seven, it's not like your aim is the greatest.

So, I ran through my mental parenting rubric:

Told the truth the first time, +5 pts.
...without me reminding him of the importance of doing so. +10 pts.
Spotted the error in their thinking process, +3 pts.
...without me having to point it out. +10 pts.
Sibling coughed up a truthful inclusion confession on his own, +20 pts.
Both parties showed concern (ok, some awareness) that their actions, however unintentional, had negatively affected someone else. +50 pts. (been workin' on that one for a while!)

So it's not 100% (that would be reserved for "thought things through before doing them" - it will be a Very Happy Day when that happens!) But it's not bad for a 7yo and a 9yo. I couldn't really justify leaping into Lecture Land. They handled it well. I'm proud of them.

But I'm still done doing the yardwork-with-kids thing. :-P

That's why I'm in here, blogging, under the pretext of figuring out what to fix for lunch.

Sunday, May 18


That's all that's left to pour! There's one support post up, and Zorak plans to hit Lowe's on the way home tomorrow for ledger board/band board, and columns! WOOT!!

I wish my progress was as exciting. It wasn't. We sifted the closets. Had the boys try on *everything* in there. Took out the winter garb, put it in a pile. Took out things that don't fit, put them in a pile. Set aside the things that are not in good repair any longer, put 'em in a pile. Took out things they just don't wear, put those... in a bag. (The piles were starting to irritate all of us at that point.) The clutter sneaks up on me, season after season. Thank heaven for Spring Cleaning, no?

Smidge, EmBaby and I went to the feed store to see about buying a Croton (thanks, Melora - that's just what it was!!), but they don't have a supplier for them. We'll have to go back to the fruit stand for those. We bought two hostas, instead, and they're sitting out front, waiting for to the muse to move and show Zorak and I where, exactly, to put the holes.

Saturday was a whirlwind of activity and stoopid Home Depot employees. But it was a good day, other than that. So, all-in-all, all is well. I'm just too pooped to write tonight, and have too many thoughts bumping into each other to make any of them make sense individually.

Thursday, May 15

I thought I'd told you about that.

But I've just searched the blog, and it seems I never mentioned it. However, to tell tonight's story, I have to tell the first story, so...

The first Scout meeting we attended, back in December, turned out to be one where a Sheriff's Deputy spoke about arrest warrants, drug use, and other niceties of the trade. He was very good with the boys, and they were all riveted to the spot. One of the kids asked him what the most common warrant is that they issue. The Deputy said there's actually a lot of meth activity in this area...

Cue James, who listens, kind of, and joins in at random times, occasionally with disjointed information that may - or may not - be pertinent to the discussion. Our first contact with a new group of people seems to be a fairly regular, and not-as-random-as-I'd-prefer, occasion for sharing information out of context.

"Oh, yes! My Mom said meth is easy to make in your basement!"

*blink* *blink*

...Are ya gonna follow up on that comment?


A few minutes later, as the Nice Officer explained that marijuana is a plant that is grown, and some of the other drugs are made from chemicals, James again decided to move straight to the head of the class (or right into the interrogation lamp, depending on your perspective) by offering:

"Yeah! My Mom said you can make meth with common household materials."

(Gah. Where IS this kid's mother, huh?!?)

Again, no further explanation. I'm out-to-here pregnant, with kids hanging all over, kind of dirty because we'd been working on the storm windows all day... and I'm wanting to DIE.

Now, what I'd said, in context, during one of our many "Drugs Will Destroy Your Soul And Make You Do Weird Things" discussions, was that meth is commonly made in homes in rural neighborhoods, and that the nice pharmacist asked me to sign for sinus medication because many common household materials, including OTC drugs, are used in the production of methamphetamines and the law enforcement agencies are trying to clamp down on that. THAT is what I said. Sounds totally different, doesn't it?

Right. So, here we are, six months later. I'm hoping the folks at Scouts are starting to get a feel for us (you know, like feeling fairly confident that we aren't whipping out crack in our spare time). James' den is talking about community, taxes, and law enforcement. His contribution to the discussion? Well, when the Scoutmaster pointed out that so-and-so's Dad (sitting right there - same guy who gave the talk in December) is a Deputy, James points out...

Well, if everybody followed the law, he'd be out of a job!

Sooo... this is the Economic Security Through Default Crime approach? Ahhh, yes. I'm kind of glad I wasn't there for that one. Thankfully, however, he's getting better. At least he followed this one up with,
"But, you know, we should all probably still follow the law."
Good save, kiddo! Good save.

They do learn. It's good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, May 14

Party Planners and Parenting

Party Planners: I will never mock them again.

On the other topic...

It was a pretty good day, today. Most of the "stuff" was your normal "stuff" - the kind of mental gymnastics that are part and parcel of parenting. Those, I can handle. I generally ignore them when I blog, because they're just so... mundane... but today, they felt somewhat refreshing. Eh, it's the devil you know, right?

The boys had piano today, since their teacher will be out of town tomorrow. James needs to work with a damper pedal, but do you think they left the damper pedal alone when we first got the keyboard? Do you think they put it where I suggested they put it? Do you think they remember any of those discussions? No, no, they don't. And so, he's a bit upset that he can't do his studies because "we" (he's mastered the Royal We already - see, told you he was advanced! ha-ha.) can't find it. Uh-huh. Okay, then.

Smidge stayed with Zorak because I had to ask him three times to put away the train tracks so we could leave. I'm just having to crack down on this whole, "You need to do what I ask you to do when I ask you to do it" thing. If they don't do it right then, they will forget. They're little, they do that.

Seriously, I work hard at not being a dictator, but a few train tracks before we run to piano, a pair of socks before brushing your teeth, cleats left in the doorway, clean clothes that don't make it to their drawers before lights-out... times four... and suddenly, I live in a home that would shame Samson & Son. Argh! Clutter makes me twitchy. Clutter that is not mine, that I do not want, and that is not picked up makes me think fondly of Joan Crawford. I don't want to live like that, and whether the kids know it or not, they don't want to live like that. So, please, let's stick with the one-thing-out, one-thing-back rule and move on, shall we? Yeah, thanks.

He got to help Zorak and felt pretty good about all the work he did. (All part of my genius! Or, at least I'm going to take credit for it tonight.) And when we got back, even though it was raining, he put a coat over his head and ran out to give me a hug and fill me in on all he accomplished. So I'm guessing he wasn't terribly scarred by not going with us.

EmBaby stayed home because it was, blessedly, naptime, and... because I could get away with it. A sippy cup, a Disney flick, and a molasses cookie and I've not only ensured our dentist's future employment prospects, but she's out in five minutes, flat. Don't judge me too harshly, here, folks. I've only got about six more months where that'll work, and I. need. them.

We made it to piano *EARLY* (two days in a row that we haven't been late for things - it is a personal best - the boys and I did a victory dance in the parking lot to mark the occasion), performed a rain dance (aka - hit the car wash, guaranteed to do the trick every time!), picked up more anchor bolts and a couple of good books (hint: when you want to know whether a book is good and should you buy it, be sure to call the one friend you know who can justify a book purchase under almost any condition. She'll come through for you!)

One of the books I bought is called "Slipcovers Made Easy". Of course, everything about our couch is listed under her "Don't Start With THIS COUCH" section. But that's okay. If she can make it even do-able, I'll be happy. We lost sight of "easy" two months ago. We're almost down to shopping, or arson.

OK, I have more stuff to do before bed. I better go be productive.

Kiss those babies!

ufda! - but things are getting better

I forgot "the rest of the story" from yesterday - LB asked me about it this morning (I called her yesterday for a little talk-me-down), and honestly, I think I blocked it while I was blogging.

Baby Jason took a tumble while we were in Sam's. Best we can tell, the spring on the locking mechanism came unhooked and so, while we were standing around the basket, enjoying seconds of the tortellini samples (it so helps to have cute kids - the sample ladies offer them extras just to keep them talking!), all of a sudden, the carseat flips up and over. He landed, face-down, on the floor. My heart stopped for a full 30 seconds, I think. The boys didn't fare much better. And every sample lady within view came flocking to make sure "that precious baby" was okay.

He is, thank God, just fine. The straps did their trick, kept him tucked safely within the walls of the carseat, and he, personally, never hit the floor. He shows no signs of discomfort, not having any trouble moving, holding up his head, or focusing on objects. We kept an eye on his eye dilation, looked for signs of lethargy, and put everyone on alert about projectile vomiting. Nothing. But I didn't sleep for squat last night from checking on him regularly. We finished our shopping with him in the sling, with both arms wrapped around him. Tight. He may end up with squished parts from me holding him so snugly!

Today... much more peaceful. We planted the salad bed! We took a slightly unconventional approach, since trying to make neat, perfectly spaced rows with four children and a dog just wasn't happening. We raked back the mulch, turned up a light layer of dirt, scattered seeds in the general vicinity of each section, raked it lightly, and put the mulch back. If it works, it should be a fantastic garden. If it doesn't work, well, we saved some seeds and can always try again. James made a chart which will go up on the corkboard display (um, which I need to make this weekend), John and Smidge watered it. Em, who has had a fever off-and-on for two days (molars, weee!) roamed back and forth from the garden bed to the porch, whining. It's part of the official Toddler Pulmonary Strength and Vocal Training Program, I think.

We dead-headed the rose bush. This is the first year we've had roses on it, and I'm shooting for a second bloom, if we can get it.

We checked on the fruit trees. This year, we're getting fruit! We finally have fruit on the two apple trees, the pears are growing beautifully, and what we've always though was a peach tree down by the propane tank - IS a peach tree - this year we have peaches! The elusive persimmon still hasn't surfaced, but we know it's out there, somewhere. (We found a few over-ripe persimmons our first fall here, but can't find the tree.)

One of the goals we've kept in the forefront of all we do on this property is to make the land healthy as we make it useful. It's a bountiful piece of earth, and, if properly cared for, will yield many wonderful things - not just for our table, but for our children, our life here, and beyond. So far, in spite of our woeful ignorance of Things Agricultural, we've seen many signs that what we're doing is working: new fruit, increased earthworm numbers, better drainage, more birds, fewer trees going down in storms, cleaner creek water, and several flowering plants that hadn't flowered in years now covered in blooms. It's exciting! Just imagine what we'll be able to do once we have some idea what we're doing! :-P The kids are getting a kick out of it, too, because they are a part of it. They help prune, clean, tend, and feed. They get out there and take part in all that happens, and they have a vested interest in the outcome of our work. This is why we bought the place. Definitely why we bought it.

Tuesday, May 13

Oh, for the love of Pete.

I don't know Pete, personally, but I hope he's happy, now, with all the love I've wished him the past 48 hours.

We have new house phones. We've needed to replace ours for a while, but yesterday there was this HUGE straw, and this camel with spinal injuries, and a lot of poop... fortunately (?) it wasn't camel poop... I don't know. It's all relative, really.

So, my plan yesterday was to strip the forms from the weekend's piers. But I couldn't find the square bits. I can't find anything down there. I gave up before I dismantled the forms entirely and left Zorak further behind than when he finished Sunday.

We were going to dig the next hole and start tearing off the back steps. (I really do hate brick. Oh, how I loathe brick. There are so many ant beds inside those steps! YUCK!) But EmBaby needed a bath first, and Smidge needed to get dressed. All was going fairly well, with just a glitch or two here and there. Then, out of nowhere...

One kid had diarrhea.

Em needed to poop.

Since the sole toilet was occupied, why not use the tub? The tub she was bathing in... sure, sounds like a plan.

So Smidge, mostly naked at this point, is running up and down the hall, yelling, "Emily POOPED!" John is trapped in the room with the vile concoction, probably wondering why he continues to eat jalapenos in such large quantities.

Em's standing in the tub, crying.

I pull her out, pull the drain on the tub...

...and drop my phone in the tub.

Cue Angry Baby! Jason wakes up, evidently realizing he got hungry ten minutes earlier. Oy, he's ticked. Smidge is still playing Town Crier, announcing the Great Poop Incident of '08. John's out of toilet paper. I can't find James, and I'm not sure the phone is worth rescuing.

James brings toilet paper. I dig out the phone (fear of electrocution should someone fall into the vile water overrode my squeamishness). I try to redirect Smidge to Get. Dressed. John's starting to look a little light-headed. Emily's still crying.

We have exactly eight drops of bleach left. OK, it'll have to do. Bleach the tub, delegate James to change Jason, threaten Smidge with banishment if he doesn't stop with the play-by-play. John, bless him, tries to switch out the toilet paper roll. (I love that they will replace the empty roll, I do. Just... not. while. you're STILL on the commode, ya know?) The bar falls in. Yeah, it did.

If I'd have thought it would clear the p-trap, I'd have just flushed it.

I'm not entirely sure how I got through the whole situation without imploding, or teaching the kids new bad words, but I did. It helps that we've got two older children who can understand when Mom explains, "OK, hey, listen, *everything* is falling down around my ears at the moment. I need you to do x,y, and probably z twice, to help me get it braced back up. Can you do that for me?" Once they stop laughing (they have a beautiful grasp of the absurd), they do help. They don't panic.

I *had* to go get bleach. Simply had to. There is no way I'm going to end up in this exact situation again, folks. So, we got Smidge dressed, tended to Jason, re-washed EmBaby, took a few deep breaths, then loaded up and ran to Sam's. We're now the proud owners of four and a quarter gallons of bleach (should last us a good year or two, right?), some quick-fix food for game night (which, of course, we consumed last night), and another large bag of toilet paper (we were disturbingly close to running out).

This is the third day in a row that's thrown me a few curve balls. I'm so very thankful to have this family, these kids, and that wonderful, wonderful bed to collapse into at the end of days like that. I'm guessing a good sense of humor doesn't hurt, any.

The new phones are charging now. They're lovely. They've never been pooped on. And, they have an intercom feature. I think I may just put one in the bathroom (but you know, up high, and glued to the wall) to facilitate Smidge's journalistic leanings. What do you think?

Today, we're tackling those steps! (And Zorak showed me where he hides the "hot tools" - the ones he's currently using - so maybe I can be a little more helpful down there on the balcony today.)

Kiss those babies ~ they may be what keeps you from the asylum one day! ;-)

Monday, May 12

A Lovely Day and Big Plans

Well, BabyJ kept me up until about five this morning. I think Zorak had intended to let me sleep in a bit, but the boys were anxious to fix me breakfast in bed for Mother's Day. Had I not been (a) still mostly asleep, and (b) nursing the wee one, when they made their grand entrance (setting the plate on the wee babe, since that was closest to my head, I suppose), I'm sure my gratitude would have been more clearly evident than with my groggy, utterances of, "oh. OH! Oh, um, oh" It was all I could come up with. When they brought in the coffee, I got really nervous, pried myself loose and joined everyone for breakfast at the table.

By the time we'd eaten (and I was a bit more alert, erm, coherent), we decided today should be a work day. Zorak, John and Smidge worked on the balcony piers. I worked in the basement. James watched Jason and Em for me. We talked. We worked. We planned. It's not your typical Mother's Day dream plan, but it's so very "us". Yes, we're geeks. We know this. We embrace it. It's what makes it all work, you know.

Zorak managed to avoid having to discuss his birthday plans with me just long enough that I hit that stage where my voice cracks and my right eye twitches involuntarily. I'd written on my calendar that invitations were to go out Monday. TOMORROW. And here, we didn't even have a menu, or a theme, or a balcony! He took pity on me and nailed down a few details. Invitations won't go out tomorrow, but we have a theme, a menu, and he's promised me a list of names from work by tomorrow evening.

We may, or may not, have a balcony in time. We've decided we're not sweating it. However, since I evidently only work well under incredible pressure with unreasonable expectations, my insane inner self decided that I need to have the basement party-presentable "just in case" the weather is bad.


Because a tent in the meadow somehow provides less shelter than an open-air balcony.

I know. I don't get it, either. It's a wacky world inside this head. But I seldom get bored. So, there's that.

It's about time for a curriculum and scheduling post, too! I just have to stop hyperventilating over the cost of the new curriculum, first. It'll come.

And now, in case that little bundle of late-night energy decides to wake up and party, I'm going to get some shut-eye, myself.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, May 11


Well, yesterday ganged up on me. (If one thing can be said to "gang up", that is.) Everything was going fine until we had an impromptu water-rescue, and that, while it turned out nicely, threw the entire rest of the day into utter chaos. There's just something about having to rip open a box of nursing pads in the checkout line and inconspicuously trying to stuff a couple in while letting your 7yo hold the screaming, hungry baby because you didn't grab a decent nursing shirt, and you can't get home to change (again) if that one gets soaked and you're already running very-very late for something you *swore* you'd be on time for... So, um, let's just say that we called it a successful day when, at the end, nobody was seriously injured or missing, and everybody knew they were loved. That's all it takes to make it a great day, right? (Sometimes, yes.) And to be honest, my 7yo ROCKS. That kid is awesome in a crisis! Wow.

Today? Much better. James and John had games out of town, thankfully both at the same field in the same town (woohoo! yes, it's the small things) so Zorak took them. Smidge had a game in town, so I took him, Em and JasonBaby... yeah, I'm thinkin' his morning went a bit more smoothly than mine. All three boys won their games. But more to the point, all three boys "showed up" for their games, and played well. They felt good, and rightly so. We came home, grilled kabobs, played in the dirt and the grass, and crashed hard at the end of the day.

Zorak and I watched Shaun of the Dead and laughed ourselves silly. I know, it seems weird to laugh at at zombie movie. But what can I say? Well, not much. We are weird, and it was funny. And I'm still giggling.

Then we realized it's been raining for a while, and gee, that lightning seems awfully frequent, and hey - whaddya say we check the weather channel? So, in case you're thinking of calling tomorrow - yes, there were tornadoes, yes, we're okay, and um, no, we didn't go to the basement because by the time we realized there were warnings and watches and alerts galore, they were almost expired. What's the sense in waking everybody at one in the morning, anyway? And it's not like we'd go down there without them! So, the family that's oblivious together... yeah...

So what about you guys? Having a good weekend? Tomorrow is Mother's Day! I'm getting a concrete pier and some extra lovin's. Probably will make pancakes since a little bribery never hurts. Do you know what you're getting/giving/doing for Mother's Day?

Kiss those babies!

Friday, May 9

Yet more visit photos

Getting tired of them yet? I hope not, because we're having fun taking them!

LB taught the boys how to make Fresh Rolls earlier this week. They caught on fast and had no trouble taking over the kitchen. Allow me to say, here, that as much as I believe in keeping kids in the kitchen, and as wonderful as I think it is for the children to cook with their parents... I've discovered that it's a whole lot less stressful to stand in another room while someone else cooks with your children. If you can lure someone to your home to do this, go for it! Wow.

Yesterday, we went to the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. We were there for two and a half hours, and that was not nearly long enough to see all that we wanted to see. I think we'd have made more forward motion if they didn't have these wonderful, plush chairs in the Visitor's Center lobby. It's not the chairs so much as it is that the chairs are set in front of a glass wall that overlooks a little garden with bird feeders. You could put quite a dent in your life list while sitting there! However, the bulk of my bird knowlege being contained in the Cardinalis cardinalis, and the neighbors trespassing rooster, I'll have to leave the bird sightings to LB to share. While LB visited with the volunteers at the desk, the kids and I splayed out to watch birds and kill the batteries on the world's coolest bird song book.

We did, however, go properly prepared. We first stopped at our little fruit stand on Hwy 67. I love this place. They're nice to the kids, they have great fruit, plus good local honey and other snacks. Not to mention, they are always nice to the kids. Those three little traits turned us into loyal and regular customers, and we buy a large portion of our produce there during the year. They have a fantastic nursery section, too, so of course we had to play in there for a bit. I have no clue what this gorgeous plant is, but we must get some for the house.They vibrate! Or, at least the ones there do. I reached down to feel the leaves (they beg to be touched, don't they?) and it was vibrating. So I tried a few other leaves. All of them, quivvering like mad. After I checked to see if there as some freakishly large spider or insect in there shaking the stems (there wasn't), I asked LB to touch it. Now, she'll tell you I didn't warn her. But I did. I said, "Hey, this plant is vibrating." Or something like that. In the leaping and giggling and further plant-fondling that followed, I forgot what I'd said, exactly. But I swear to you, I warned her! I wish we'd anticipated that EmBaby was going to grab the leaves on it, because the look she shot us was priceless. LB and I laughed so hard over that. She touched every leaf on those plants after the initial shock wore off.

One of my staples for any outing that will involve walking is the wagon.
This poor wagon has seen better days, it's true. But as long as the bottom continues to hold out, there's nothing wrong with this wagon that a folded sheet and a little WD-40 won't take care of. It will easily hold a cooler, drinks, snacks, diaper bag, and a worn out toddler or two. And when we aren't using it as a trail limo, it can go back to hauling straw, dirt, and children down the driveway. (Ask LB about that, too. She'd heard about it, but that's just not the same as catching a harrowing glimpse of it, first hand.)

Our pace has been slow and leisurely. Thursday turned out to be a shockingly laid-back day. No practice FOR ANYONE. No Scouts. I hardly knew what to do with all the pre-emptive angst and panic I'd built up. So, we hit the buffet and then came home to lounge about and think of reasons for LB not to pack. (We came up with plenty, but unfortunately, they'd have all left her pretty much nekkid in the airport. While that might make getting through the security line a bit easier, it wouldn't do anything to extend the visit, so we gave up and got her packed.) Tomorrow, she'll be back in the loving arms of her family, who so graciously held the fort for her while she came to visit. We'll miss her (and Smidge is not entirely convinced that her family needs her more than he does!), but it's been a lovely visit, a wonderful visit, and I'm so grateful for the time to get to know our Needleroozer better. She's left us with warm memories, new woodless pencils (who knew such a thing existed?!) and anticipation of another visit with her one day.

Kiss those babies (and hug those precious friends!)

Tuesday, May 6

Blogging backward-- beautiful burp cloths

Gah, this never works (although the unintentional alliteration is kind of fun to say). OK, we've been showered with thoughtful things the past month, and I was going to start with the most recent and work my way back to get caught up, but you know I wouldn't get caught up and remember to give credit where credit is due. So, I have to go back two weeks, to the first package that arrived. Isn't this lovely?

These are burp cloths from the talented and sweet Emily, at Laundry and Lullabies. (THANK YOU, EMILY!)

What a great idea - thoroughly practical and helpful, but prettier than just slinging a rag over your shoulder and calling it good, no?
I've had these pictures waiting for a couple of weeks, but have been too busy, you know, using them, to post the pictures. (Sorry about the delay!)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 5

Why We Haven't Blogged...

We have Our Nice Lady!!
We've been busy taking walks, chatting, checking out the birds and foliage (she knows WAY more about both than we do - YAY!)...
...snuggling the baby...

...doing art... (I swear, my kids have done more art in the last three days than they've done, cumulatively, in the last nine years! They're in heaven!)

...doing more art... (told ya!)

...and staring at the baby... (who has begun to stare back, and smile, and even sing)...

LB is the most gracious guest. I hope we can make her feel at home here. The kids adore her, and so do Zorak and I. This is when I wish even more than usual that we all lived closer together. There are many other things to post, and I'll do that in bits and pieces tonight - a beautiful blanket (two, actually!), a box of goodies, and some really great artwork.

Zorak worked himself to the bone over the weekend, but still made time to come up and do some of his famous Company Cookin' - we're feeding her well! (I hope!) The balcony is coming together, bit-by-quirky-bit. But I couldn't post pictures of that when I had pictures like this...

(Um, ignore the fly strip in the corner, please. It's been a weird week for flies.)

Kiss those babies!