Wednesday, July 30

Let the Games Begin!

"Family Game Night" That sounds so idyllic, doesn't it? Conjures images of contented adults gathered around a table, gleeful children perched upon their parents' laps. Maybe there's hot cocoa, or a plate of cookies. Perry Como croons in the background...

Some things, (right up there with read-alouds and "quiet time") don't work out quite that way, though. The whole Family Game Night thing has gone a little differently for us...

It started off when we had the lack of foresight to have our children more than 9.5 months apart. This pretty much ensures that they will not be able to play the same standard games, simultaneously. Ever.

And on the odd, totally freak opportunity that their skills come within a level of magnitude that might allow something like CandyLand or Chutes and Ladders to be a possibility for play, it'll then be a sure bet that their tastes will vary so wildly we'll never manage to get a consensus on which game to play. Ever. (Which doesn't really hurt our feelings, as we're not big board game players, Zorak and I.)

Cards? Did someone mention cards? Kill us now. Zorak and I are not card players. We both come from families of card players. They can do that for hours, speaking their foreign language of tricks and passes and liquor and internal organs*. We don't get it. Didn't get the gene. Don't have it in us to cultivate the desire. The boys got it. They got it, bad. So, in order not to be completely awful parents, we've taught the boys one card game: solitaire. (But hey, we have enough decks of cards that they can all play at the same time! That counts, doesn't it?) Random family members who felt the need to "share" the joy of other card games, games that require we play, too, have been written out of the will. (Such that it is, I know, not a big slap on the wrist. But it could be, okay? It could be.)

Still, the Rockwell-esque imagery of Family Game Night haunts us. We get caught up in the oily, painted goodness of Americana, rapidly forgetting that somebody ate the cheese pieces to Mousetrap, that Scrabble's no fun if you can't spell or read yet, that Jenga *will* drive the eldest insane and the smallest to tears, and that at some point, someone's gonna take it personally. When the call gets too strong to ignore, much like it does with my twice-annual attempt to keep my toenails painted, and Zorak's occasional wild foray into follicular maintenance (he grows a beard once every couple of years), we fire up the jukebox, break out the cookie plate, and try for game night.

It's not all lost, really. Some of our experiments have been a bit self-defeating. Some have left scars that the boys will have to dip into their college/therapy accounts to deal with. But not too deeply. In all, I think, we've found some workable, enjoyable things. Mostly, what we've realized over the years is that the block is the build-up, the planning, the need to make Family Game Night something that might need to be capitalized. Sometimes, it's just the fun of doing it together.

So while we don't have official game nights, we do, on occasion, get a wild hair and decide to go for it after supper. It's not always neat and tidy. It's not really even a big deal, as deals go. But the kids love it. We love seeing them love it. I think, second only to spur-of-the-moment desserts, a quick game after supper is one of the best bang-for-the-buck family activities we can offer. It really is a nice way to end the day, and we never regret doing it.

Some of the games we've found particularly adaptable to various ages and temperaments:

Charades - we really like to play charades with the boys. Actually, we like to sit there and laugh until the tears soak our shirts while the boys try to figure out the answer. As the boys get older, they've begun to catch on that repeating the same exact motion none of us could identify the first time, varying only your facial expression as your frustration over our idiocy mounts, isn't really going to work. That has both improved the game for everyone, and cut back on the inner dialogue Zorak and I keep going in our heads - the one that makes us laugh until we cry. Probably a good thing, all around.

Pictionary - or, for us cheap folks, pictures-drawn-on-a-dry-erase-board and random-made-up-words (we do have the game, with the box and the little pencils and all, but the dry erase is so stinkin' handy for this). This one isn't so much fun for the literalist in the family, but the rest of the brood has a really good sense of humor about it all. We can usually play this one for an hour before anybody overloads.

Mumbly Peg - because you know it just can't be all Victorian, all the time, right?

(I'm KIDDING! But that is an interesting link. I had no idea there was so much to the game. And I'm not telling the boys, either.)

Boggle - yes, Boggle. You'd think, since Scrabble can be such a joy-sucking excursion with two kids who can't spell and one who is just now getting the hang of it, that Boggle would be on the Nix-it List, but no. The kids love it. We play House Rules, and everybody joins in. Adults can't use words of less than four letters. Kids can use any words they can find. We cut some slack on spelling for new readers, but not much, and they get up to speed pretty quickly.

Smidge loves to play along with us. He mostly copies letters from the box and presents his paper to Zorak at the end of each round for a point tally. Zorak gets into doing this, and gives Smidge enthusiastic feedback and various points for his efforts. 9/16 of a point, or 3/8 of a point. Smidge made a most impressive string of letters tonight, for which he was rewarded with a score of "one point three repitend". Oh, the giddy, giddy joy of getting such a score!

EmBaby loves to shake the box, turn the timer (sometimes she runs off with the timer, but we're usually thankful for the extra few minutes to find more words, so nobody complains terribly), and help me write. It's important to keep spare pencils on hand if you're going to play with Em, because nobody feels bad for you when you try to claim that you got spanked on that round for lack of a writing utensil.

We don't have to do it like everybody else does. We've just got to get in there and find a way that works for us. Then do it. And enjoy it. (Life, not necessarily games. But it could be games, too.) Sometimes, it really is that simple. I cling to that knowledge.

And in the meantime, the boys are counting down the days until somebody will come play cards with them. Anybody? Any takers?

Kiss those babies!

*gin and hearts

Tuesday, July 29

The Day That Wasn't

I left for a "quick consult" this morning at 7:45... at 11:40, I called Zorak en route to the credit union to tell him I was hoarking cash from savings to make up the difference in the bill and then I'd be on my way home. Three and a half hours at this consult. GARGH! (Or insert your own gutteral sound of defeat. Feel free to improvise.)

When I arrived home, lunch was just about ready, Zorak had made more headway on the balcony detail tidbits, and the boys had done their school work. (*snarl* - I'm glad they did it, but why can they get it done by lunchtime for Dad, and we struggle to get it done by supper??? Adding insult to injury, he told me he, Em, and Jase were *outside*, working on the balcony, and he left the boys *inside* to get their schoolwork done! What the ---??? If I went outside and left them to their own devices... *sigh* Nevermind. We'll address that later. When they're 30.)

After lunch, the boys asked if they could play video games for a bit. I told them they needed to wait until Em was down for her nap. "Oh, she's out." Huh? Where? Can you find the sleeping girl?

Sure enough... there she is!

No clue what was wrong with the perfectly spacious bed beside the soft toy bucket. Perhaps it was the lack of soft toys? Still, that doesn't look horribly comfortable.

Zorak moved her, the boys played Star Wars Lego, and Jase and I practiced our synchronized napping routine.

This evening, I worked on my turkey couch some more. I put the closure on one cushion. I swear, this is like watching Mr. MaGoo walk around a construction site. Things keep going wrong, with the potential to go *horribly* wrong, but somehow I seem to be just clueless enough not to notice and to emerge fairly unscathed. It's pretty exciting. Two more cushion closures and the side closures to go, and then I can post actual, honest-to-goodness COMPLETED PROJECT photos! (It's been a while since I've posted those... probably because it's been a while since we've completed a project. Go figure.)

And then, the day was done. *poof* Gone, just like that. I'm not sure how it happened so quickly, but there you go. Some days do that, I guess.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, July 28

I've scared you all off, haven't I?

Is it me, or is it the season? I know we're so busy here that I blogrun, I read, I smile, I commiserate, but then I don't post a comment. Mostly because I fear that the tappity-tap of the keystrokes will alert the children to where I'm hiding. But also because we're so busy, and I'm so sleepy. I've been sleeping in lieu of leaving comments. Still, it's sad not to hear from you. And yet, I realize what a slacker I've been, too, in keeping in touch.

I have another visit to the dentist tomorrow. Actually, this one is to the periodontist. Not the second one, but a new one. The rabbit trail is pretty impressive at this point, and I found myself apologizing to Zorak tonight for suddenly becoming a "high maintenance woman". It's not all furs and gems and luxury cars, either. Oh, no. I've become Olympic competitor for Senior Specialists or something. Seriously, all of my doctors are now specialists, and I'm the youngest patient they have. *sigh* Anybody want to buy a kidney? I'm serious. If I can sell just one of these puppies, I can pay for everything right now and get it all done in four, short, very expensive visits. (Instead of the 80 long, drawn out, yet still surprisingly expensive visits we're currently going with.)

Speaking of feeling old, I will be particularly tickled when summer ends. Or when the hormones mellow out a bit. I keep asking the kids, "Gah, isn't it hot in here? Are you hot? I'm hot." They blink, look around at each other, and then try not to make eye contact with me. They're fine. They aren't sweating. They aren't flushed. And they move around a lot more than I do. Meanwhile, I feel like someone's stuck a space heater down my shirt and I'm clawing my way to the thermostat to see if someone's got the heat on and set to 95. So help me, if I am going to jump straight from child-bearing to menopause, I might lose it. I've been plotting, planning, and daydreaming about having "normal" hormonal levels for TEN YEARS, people. Please let it just be summer.

Zorak brought me thread. I've encased it in a locking box, shrink-wrapped it, and buried it in the yard. Hopefully, EmBaby won't be able to get to it before I get home tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed!

Kiss those babies!

A Not So Classic Adventure

The stars nearly aligned today - the boys kept busy outside, Em and Jase napped simultaneously. Zorak and I looked at one another and yelled, "Wonder Twins, Activate!"

"Form of, woodworker!"

"Form of, seamstress!"

(No, not really. But it could happen.) The next few hours were a flurry of sweat, lint, sawdust and thread. Outside, it looks like he made a lot of headway.

Inside, it looks like... I glued my fingers together, put a patch over one eye, and tried to sew with my feet. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe my WonderTwin ring is broken? (Couldn't be my total lack of skills, could it? Nah.) Then I ran out of thread. Actually, I didn't "run out" - I bought two spools (it's a huge couch), but Em ran off with one at some unknown point in the last four months and doesn't remember where she put it. So, just about suppertime, I was dead in the water. I thought I could just run into town, but the Suburban's broken. Or it just wanted Sundays off. Something like that.

So, tomorrow, Zorak will bring me gifts of upholstery thread and bandaids. And I will honor him with my offering of the upholstered version of the five-finger paper turkey. And all will be well in our world.

James helped me remove the weird fabricky stuff from the bottom of the couch. We should have counted the spiders that we vacuumed up, but I think we both got the heebie-jeebies and it's hard to count at that point. I was also able to point out how Daddy and Mommy work so well together. Daddy does things like planning ahead, making materials lists, and having the proper tools on hand. Mommy is more of an idea man. Yes, son, that is why we're removing staples from the couch with flathead screwdrivers. Very perceptive. I know. I wish Daddy could come help with the couch, too. *heart*

John watched Jase for me. He sat on the rocking chair with the baby in one hand, brownie bites in the other, rocking and watching TV. Every once in a while he'd look over at James and I doing the screwdriver dance, snicker, and say, "This is SO easy! I love it!" Even after Jase spit up all over him, he still thought he had the best job. I don't know if he can just put a great spin on things, or if it was that obvious that we were floundering with the couch.

EmBaby wanted to help. She has an unhealthy attraction to the t-pins. But I couldn't resist her charms (and the whining - that did factor into it). It was so sweet to have her there, leaning across my face, jabbing the pins into my fingers. She was so proud to help. (And that's when I realized we have no bandaids.) Thankfully, blood comes out in cold water, so all that'll be left are the memories. Good stuff.

Smidge had a rough start to the day. Everyone else had taken all the dangerous jobs, so he was left following Zorak around, hoping for a bit of the power tool action. I think he would have enjoyed it, had today not been hotter than snot and twice as sticky. But he ended up taking an impromptu nap and awoke in time to enjoy the end of AFV and supper with the family. So, when you're four, that's not such a bad day, after all.

And tomorrow, we will "uncancel" school for Smidge, get the rest of us back to work, and await the return of Zorak, bearer of thread and Daddy extraordinaire.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, July 26

Basking in the Chaos

Me-Tae came and spent the day with us! See her there? Amidst all the movement? No? That's because she's buried beneath all the children, but if you could find her, you could see her beautiful smile, too. (This isn't the clearest picture, but Zorak and I liked the composition. And it was fun to play with. I know you don't come here for the mad photography skills. Or, if you do, that's kind of sad...)

I told Zorak it felt so good to be able to have someone out on the balcony and not be afraid. He said Me-Tae may have been afraid, but was too nice to say so. I said, "Not her, me! I wasn't afraid on her behalf! I knew she wouldn't fall through. That felt good!"

We had an epiphany. Y'all are going to laugh at us when I share it, but let me say now that IT WORKED! I'm so excited, I could just pee. I plan to ignore my children tomorrow afternoon in order to finish it up and make John document it with photos.

We ate well today. Of course, we had the obligatory Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls while we watched Saturday Morning Cartoons. That's a great way to start off a day. My favorite part was lunch, though. Grilled salmon, brussels sprouts, rice, corn on the cob, beans (the beans almost go without saying around here, there's always a pot of beans), fresh pineapple, and for dessert, ice cream -- that makes a lovely Saturday afternoon luncheon. It was so lovely, we didn't have to make supper! Double bonus!

And that's pretty much it. Only five-ish more days of July. Then we have to make it through August, and then we can start acting surprised that it's still hotter than Hades come September! Woohoo! Summer's almost, nearly, partially, halfway over!

Kiss those babies!

Doin' Yer Own Thing

Jase has found his toes. They are really good. The boys think it's pretty gross, although Very Cool. I'm sure Em actually remembers doing this, as she is suspiciously silent on the topic. Personally, I think it's adorable. James pointed out that he's pretty certain I wouldn't think it was adorable if he or John did it.

Good point... But I know where Jason's feet have been. And I know where *your* feet have been. And to be honest, if you want to chew on his toes, that would be fine, too. But yours are officially in the "not to be anywhere near the face" category.

So, are we good?

We're good. But I still think it's funny.

Yeah, I'm a funny, funny mom.

"Mom, why did you cancel my school?"

Evidently, Smidge does not feel he received a "full week" of school.

Em was in the midst of a total breakdown when I popped my head into the room to see if it was drama or trauma. I managed to figure out that she had wanted to help push Smidge's bed under, but the big boys had already done it. After I explained to the boys what was up, James said, "Oh! I just thought she was a little crazy."

Mom, how many days until Easter?

(Wha--? Why?)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, July 25

Basement Frog

It's a rodent! It's a reptile! No! It's... BASEMENT FROG!
And this explains the dearth of critters in that back corner of the basement recently. That's a healthy lookin' fella, there, isn't it? (I have no idea if this is a frog or a toad, and to be honest, I'm too lazy to look it up. Ok, I poked around a bit. I think it's a toad. But "Basement Frog" sounds cooler than "Basement Toad". Since we don't plan to lick it or eat it, and the boys aren't currently hallucinating or anything, so I think we're okay.)
Zorak tried to catch it and liberate it back outside, but he/she (how can you tell? It's a she - her neck is light colored. Oh, the joy of the internet!) is FAST. I mean fast-fast, and rather agile. So. We still have a basement frog. It's kind of like having our own totem. Sorta. (And don't you love the nasty concrete floor? Someday, we'll acid etch it, now that we know how relatively easy it is to do!)

Kiss those babies!
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Wednesday, July 23

Happy Together!

These two are such a riot. They irritate each other for fun, but they are seldom found more than three feet from one another. They're only 2/7 of the population, yet they produce approximately 90% of the noise in our little compound. And, this is how they learn. (Shortly after this picture was taken, they learned that if man was supposed to use his elbows to play the piano, the keys would be elbow-sized. They thought that was funny.)

We had a productive day, but it took ALL DAY to do it. James was still doing Latin at eight tonight, but he pulled it off and finished in time to have cookies with everyone else. John was still doing spelling around the same time. Same eleventh-hour save. I guess I shouldn't say "was still doing" - I should say "finally got around to doing". These kids like to liven things up with a little pressure now and then. Nothing says, "Yeah, I'm really serious" quite like, "I'll eat your cookies if you don't hurry up."

And no, I wasn't flogging them all day long to complete three conjugations in four tenses and a 100-word pre-test. This was one page. Each. Basic review stuff. If any of you tell me this is what testosterone does to the mind, I. will. cry. okay? Yeah, just so's we're clear, here. ;-)

It reminds me of a joke I need to share with the boys...

A man entered a marathon. His first one, ever. He wasn't fast, and he wasn't much of a runner, but he was determined to do it. He came in dead last, a solid 10 hours behind the first place runner, who clocked in at a little over two hours. Dead tired from running all day, the man slipped into a pub on his way home to enjoy a cold one before heading home to collapse. He hadn't been there long before another man entered the pub with a group of people, and was instantly recognized as the day's marathon winner.

Tired as he was, the man just had to meet this man who could run a marathon in two and a half hours. He inched up to him, introduced himself and offered to buy the man a drink in honor of the day's win. The winning runner asked if he'd seen the race, to which the man replied, "Oh, no, I was in the race. I don't know how you do it so quickly, and still have the energy to go out with friends." The runner asked how the man did in the race. "Oh. It took me twelve and a half hours." Sheepishly, he added, "And I'm exhausted."

The runner smiled, clapped the man on the back and said, "Well, then I think you should be the one we're toasting tonight."

Baffled, the man asked why.

"To be perfectly honest," said the runner, "You must have an incredible amount of fortitude. Personally, I can't imagine doing *anything* for twelve and a half hours!"

... I wonder if they'll get that joke...

Ah, and it's time for bed! Kiss those babies! And smile - it's contagious.

Monday, July 21

Back to School!

Dang. It's a PAIN to get back into a routine! (Yeah, this is why we try to go year-round. I know. Well, *now* I know, anyway. Or remember, at least. I knew there was a point to it...) We did it, but we were all exhausted long before the day was up.

However, the day itself actually went incredibly well. John was up and at 'em early. He finished typing, piano practice and most of his math before James could be cajoled into slinking into the light to join us for breakfast. (James has my Child-of-the-Night genes. He wants to go live with Amy.) The boys enjoyed their first lesson of Meet the Great Composers. They got 80% of the day's work completed. We outlined a GP plan for writing work. AND, the highlight of my day, they didn't forget everything they learned before our break. That's good stuff, right there. That'll get ya through, man.

Smidge drove every one of us nuts with his incredibly non-redirectable enthusiasm. Please, Lord, help him learn how to pace himself. He's going to need that motivation when he's eight and doesn't want to write soooooo much... And while I'm praying, Please, Lord, help me always to enjoy the delight of learning and teaching the kids. I pray that enthusiasm will always be at least a little contagious, and that a smile will always be on the ready. The hardest part of my day was figuring out how to fit in three children at three levels, but that's only a challenge to be met, not grounds for going into hiding. No matter how tempting. I can do this.

James had a good groove going until he made the mistake of not at least looking like he was engaged in something. At that point, I begged him to take EmBaby out of the room. Somewhere. Anywhere but right there beside me, whining at me to mooooove. Ironically, when I was done working with Smidge (I forgot how hands-on the littles are in their lessons! If you're currently inundated by small children who cannot be left to their own momentum without grinding to a screaming halt, believe me when I tell you it gets better. But, also believe me when I tell you that you'll either have to keep having children yourself or borrow someone else's small one in a few years before you'll actually feel like it got better. It slips up on you so slowly that you don't realize how independent those kids have gotten.) ...anyway, by the time I had Smidge squared away, James and EmBaby were happily building things out of stuff and couldn't quite be interrupted at the moment. *grin*

I'm going to have to find a way to get it done without losing momentum or ignoring the Small Ones. If anybody has suggestions, please fill me in!!

We enjoyed a light supper of pasta, salad and steamed squash. Angel Hair is the *ultimate* summertime pasta, since it only takes three minutes to cook. The kitchen can't heat up before we eat. SCORE! Then, in spite of the fact that it was still hot-n-sticky out, we just had to have dessert out on the balcony. The kids made me laugh. They spent half the time looking for shapes in the sillhouettes of the tree canopy against the evening sky. They spent the other half wondering what else we could put in the ice cream. Zorak and I just sat there, feeling quite stable and secure, smiling at one another as if we shared a warm, fuzzy secret. It was nice. A nice first day back.

Tomorrow, trash day (aren't you glad to know that?), library day (I think this is EIGHT WEEKS RUNNING! Maybe seven. Enough to lose count. That works for me.), and hopefully some general purpose loafing (it is, after all, still summer...)

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, July 20

Let them eat cake!

Well, perhaps not cake. (Too hot to bake.) But how about ice cream?
It was a lovely birthday weekend. Not the most exciting, as birthdays go, but we're not exactly thrills-a-minute people. (Shocker, huh?) The boys did bring out the surprise ice cream maker. Smidge feels vindicated, and none of us pointed out that he blew the "secret" twice since the last big spoiler. He's such a funny kid.
EmBaby is enthralled with it - carried it around everywhere. The biggest surprise was that all the pieces were still in the box by the time we got around to making ice cream. We used Aunt B's psychotically easy, yet rich and dreamy recipe: two quarts half-and-half, two cans sweetened condensed milk. Pour into ice cream maker. Turn on. Lick the milk cans clean while the ice cream blends. How easy can it be? (OK, we made up that last one. I don't know if Aunt B licks the cans clean. But we do. It's good stuff.)
Since we (a) procrastinate horribly, and (b) are impatient (yeah, talk about irony), we didn't have time to harden it before bed tonight, so we ate it like they serve at a certain expensive-yet-yummy ice cream parlour. I would mention the name, but after listing the recipe, there'd probably be a lawsuit for libel from associating the two. The boys had cookies folded into theirs. Zorak and I ate it straight up. This might make August bearable.
Since the big boys just couldn't shake the disappointment of my knowing what they got me, they talked Zorak into letting them get something else. Zorak warned me that it's not quite a bowling ball with "Homer" written on it, but it's close. They bought a DVD player for the little TV in our room. I can see what he meant, although I do think it's pretty cool, and it'll be nice to be able to watch movies back there, now.
The balcony is now, technically, if you aren't too concerned about the effects of gravity and siblings on your smallest children, usable. We promised Smidge we could have breakfast out there. After we put the kids to bed, Zorak showed me all the hot spots to keep Em away from - there are no stairs, for one. And other little details that won't stop us from wallowing in the piney goodness that is a non-scary balcony. (Yes, even with gaping maws leading to certain death at either end of it, it's now far less scary that it's previous incarnation. WOOHOO!) He plans to work on the side planks tomorrow, and we should be taking the baling wire off the kitchen door. Yeah, buddy, we're movin' on up in the world!
Tomorrow, we start back to school. I'll let you know how that goes.
Kiss those babies!

Thursday, July 17


(Can't think of a title.)

Thanks for the encouraging words on the balcony - that's been All Zorak, man. He has really put so much of himself into it, and it's just beautiful. Then, typical of his wonderful nature, he just had to go and be all noble and sexy the other night, on top of it. The boys had been wondering who should be the first to step onto the finished balcony. (Asked in whispered tones - this place holds some serious awe right now.) We'd figured Dad, since he'd worked so hard on it. Before bed, when I was telling Zorak, he shook his head, "No. No, I think the kids should go onto it, first. They're the ones who had to go without, who had to wait, while I worked on this. Plus, they put a lot into it, too. They've earned the joy of being 'The First' to use it." Oh, man, this is why we have FIVE children, people. He is awesome.

In other news, the kids are getting restless. Heck, I'm getting restless. We're so not Summer People. Give us a grey, wintery day with soup and bread and a good story and we're happy as clams. (Are clams generally happy creatures? We'll assume they are.) Anyway, it's too hot to play in the afternoons, and it's, well, it's too hot to do anything in the afternoons. So, we'll start back to school on Monday. They're pretty stoked about that, and I am, too. This year, because I cannot quite fathom how we'll put in the time for lessons, with Scouts and piano tucked there in the middle of the week, we're going to go to a full five-day school week. I haven't told them, yet. Figure I'll just slip it in there and wait for them to notice. It seems to work with onions.

Back to the dentist tomorrow. It was kind of nice having the man on vacation, actually. But now it's time to get back to the business of whatever it is we're doing. Weee! This visit won't be too bad, since I don't have to be there at o'dark hundred, and it won't be another four-hour visit. I hope. Didn't plan for it, anyway, so here's hoping!

And, that's about it. Today, truthfully, was not a stellar day. It was a boundary-pushing day. I'm tired, and yet, for whatever reason, the day is not over yet. Hopefully The Stubborn One will go to sleep here, shortly, and then I, too, can get some rest. Although it was a long day, and a tiring day, it was still a good one. Just more the meat-and-potatoes good, instead of the ice cream with sprinkles and uninterrupted reading time good. Here's hoping we can pull together a little ice cream, a little pudding, a little smoothie action, among other good things for the weekend! (Why, yes, I am going with a "soft foods" theme for the weekend.) We all need that, from time to time.

Kiss those babies!

Shhh. Balcony Pictures!

I slipped out there this afternoon and took some pictures, just for Konk, who said she needed some encouragement. Here you go, a little more progress. (If you are new, or don't remember what we started with, it began here, then with more info and pictures as we've worked, posted here, here, and here. There, now you know as much as I do.)

It has upright railings, now, with pretty cross bars. The pickets will go in behind them after we put the deck boards on. That way I can help. (If I tried now, the only thing I'd manage to do is cling to the joists and vomit all over the workbench beneath the balcony.) The eaves will be antique white, like the front, and the gable end will be that same 'sclusively greyish-yellowish-reddish High Veldt... oh, wait, wrong story. Anyway, it'll all match, eventually. The railings will be the same green as the porch. The deck, itself, will be the same as the gables.

And here is a view from beneath the peach tree - you can see how the balcony angles around to wrap around the house. (Zorak asked me to point out that yes, there is another piece of bandboard waiting to go up, there on the corner. The post won't just stick out like that.) The rest of the cross bars are what he's working on in the evenings this week. It's so exciting to look out the windows and see this take shape! That area beneath the front part of the deck will eventually be screened in, with a rock knee-wall and a stone floor, ceiling fans and creature comforts and such.
Actually, as I look at the pictures, I tend to see, not what we've done, but what remains to be done. That's why I don't post pictures very often. I get twitchy. So, I'll just add that we'll be replacing the basement doors. And now I'll quit. But just had to say that. :-)

We asked the boys if we should start putting the deck boards on the front, or the side, first. We both thought they'd opt for the side, so they can use the door from the kitchen to get to the back yard. But, no, all three said the front should be done first, "so we can cook out there sooner!" Ah, yes, food is a priority. Glad to see our indoctrination is working! Muahaaahaahaaaa!

And, I have a question. I think it was Laura who asked if this will be a deck, balcony, veranda, or what. Um, but I'm not sure I know the difference. Anybody want to hazzard a guess? I think I always thought of a deck as being on the ground level. A balcony up on the second level. A veranda having a solid covering or roof of some sort, spanning the full width of the structure and/or wrapping around. So, that makes this an actual balcony, right? Or are my definitions wacky? I don't know, but I'd love to learn!

The kids are getting excited. I think they may decide all this work has been worth it, in the end. (I hope.)

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, July 15

One More Chance

Bah. A friend of Aunt B's and Aunt Jo Ann's lost her son recently. He was 35. Had two young boys. Sometimes, this stuff comes out of nowhere. We get so content, thinking it's okay to be short with our little ones or our loved ones because we're tired or achy or just in a pissy mood. We'll get over it, and do better tomorrow. And while it's good to give ourselves grace and not hold self-flogging grudges, I wonder how often we just don't try too hard to do the right thing because we figure we can fix it, make up for it, and move on -- later. Sometimes, later just doesn't come.

I don't want to go from this world, leaving a story unread, a secret unshared, a joke untold. I don't want "later" to be the lingering word that defines my legacy. I'm not saying I do that. I'm not saying you do that. And I'm definitely not saying this man did. I'm saying, simply, that this news struck me hard, right in that spot where I'm all quivery and vulnerable - that spot that knows there isn't some magic point at which we become impervious to death. Not when we hit one year old and the risk of SIDS goes way down. Not when we hit twelve years old, and can be hired to watch other people's children. Not when our insurance drops for good behavior or statistical improvement (age, marriage, high GPA). Not when our cholesterol levels are low, or our EFA levels are good, or when we're on top of the world and looking ahead. Not even the presence of little hands that need holding can stop death from collecting us when it calls.

And that scares the piss out of me, folks. I don't fear death. I just don't want to go right now. There is so much to enjoy, and I all too often do forget how enjoyable it is. The spitup and crying, the fear of conquering new skills and the absolute conviction of a child that if he doesn't have something to eat riiiiggghhhhhht noooooooowww, he'll never make it the fifteen minutes until dinner is ready... there's joy in that. There's good work in that.

And I want the work to be done well. There's no other job in this world that needs to be done well so much as this one of having a family - spouse, child, mother, aunt, uncle, cousin - people who look to you and depend on you, people who love you and care about you, people who know you love and care about them, in return. We want to do that well. We want to do that now. Not later. Not after another trip to the store, or after the dishes are done. We can talk while we work. We can read before we go. We can always, always, always remember that this might just be all that's left, and we want it to be sweet.
Well, that'll kick a gal out of a funk pretty darned quick, lemme tell you that. So, it's only eleven o'clock. I'm taking my vitamins, and going to bed. Because in the morning, there will be another stack of stories to read, more jokes to tell, and probably more dishes to wash. I don't mind leaving the dishes behind, actually. But the rest, I don't want to miss. Not if I can help it.

Kiss those babies!


I've got to get pictures when Zorak's not looking, because the balcony is really looking NICE. (It has to be when he's not looking because every time I mention it, he says, "Let me pick up down there, first." It's been, what, over a month now? I tell him you know all about our slovenly construction site habits, and that you love us anyway. But he thinks I'm delusional.) Anyway, I love the railings -- they are very worth the seemingly endless engineering that went into them. Lovely, lovely, immobile railings. I can't reach them, yet, as we have no floor up there, and I don't do the balance beam on the joists bit, but they do look nice as I peer out the kitchen windows and doors. That's something.

We have a riding mower, now, which I think I mentioned. I thought I'd mow the upper meadow today, but that didn't go so well. First, I managed to hit an old rusted somethingorother, although, thankfully, that didn't kill the mower. Unfortunately, my stopping the thing to touch base with the boys about what, exactly, "picking up the meadow so we can mow" means in our native tongue gave the thing an opportunity to curl up and die on its own. Hmpf. I tried jumping it, but perhaps it sensed my fear of bottled up electricity, because it only turned over once, backfired, and then laughed itself into silence while I tried to gather my composure. Stoopid post-partum bladder.

Smidge has announced that he would like, for his fifth birthday, "a bow, some arrows, and that thing you wear on your back that holds the arrows". His wish is Zorak's command, so Zorak has spent his free time (say that with a straight face - the man never stops!) this week designing a NEW bow, just for Smidge. We have the material for a quiver, and will only need to track down buckles. I'm not sure who is more excited over it. It may be a draw. It will be a joy. Good, good stuff.

Smidge also asked when I'm going to put a table back in the school room so that he can start school. Whatever happened to enjoying summer vacation? Weird. And, evidently, working at the dining table or the breakfast bar (my fallback plan) simply doesn't feel "official" enough to him. So now I have guilt. Enough so that I probably must DO something with the school room. Which is fine. It needs it. But it's not coming to me - not the furniture, nor the arrangement.

Neither is the guest room/nursery/playroom speaking to me. It's like the house has fallen silent. (It's probably ignoring me until I get the rest of the trim painted. Who knew we'd get the pouty house?)

Let's face it, nothing's coming to me right now. I have funk. It hangs on me like the stench of fear. Only less endearing. Yech. Gotta shake that off and get moving, or give in and buy a mu-mu and a box of bon-bons. (Guess which is more appealing in the heat of summer? Yeah, this'll be an uphill battle.)

But the lure of headway beckons. It calls. It feels mighty darned fine. Forget the mu-mu (although I may hoard a stash of bon-bons, just for emergencies, of course). We'll beat the beast back, sure enough. Because it feels so very good to be tired at the end of the day for a reason, for a purpose, and know that it is good. Yep.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, July 13

What?! Third grade, already?

Yeah, he didn't see that coming, either.
I don't know if this is some post-traumatic homeschooling disorder, or just Mommy Brain at an all new high, but for some reason, John is stuck in my head at about four years old. This has no bearing on reality, at all. He's funny and insightful well beyond his years. He remembers details and makes connections in a way none of my other children do. He's the one in whom I most often catch glimpses of the Man He Will One Day Be -- in his mannerisms, his speech, his thoughtful actions. I glance over at him and *kapow*, I have to do a double-take, because I could have sworn I just saw a 19yo Marine home on leave rather than an 8yo boy sprawled on the couch. Yet, when I sit down to make out the year's plan for him, I find myself stuttering and flailing about, wondering how on EARTH this child can be ready for third grade...

But here he is, and so there we are. Just gotta roll with it. This is our 3rd grade plan for John:

Math: Math-U-See Beta. John took his time in Alpha, and he learned it well. He also spent a great deal of this past year learning math as it applies to carpentry and surveying. So, while he isn't moving into Gamma yet, I also don't feel that he's "behind" in any sense of the word. He'll fly through fractions and decimals, with the practical experience he's already gleaned, and when all is said and done, nobody will ever look at him askew for the order in which he learned his arithmetic and math.

Latin: Latin for Children, Primer A. I think he'll enjoy it this year, and will also enjoy working on Latin through a different program than what his brother is in. That seemed to work beautifully this last year -- took a lot of pressure off John, and alleviated quite a bit of the boys' tendencies toward "education as a competitive sport".

Writing: John's writing plans are similar to James', only geared for third grade rather than fifth. (Funny how that works out, huh?) Imitation in Writing - Fairy Tales. (I suspected there was an order to the books, but Logos School's website is pretty lousy about helping you figure it out. So when the books arrived, I realized John gets "book 2" and James gets "book 1" - I would have switched them, but they're both already attached to their respective plans for the year. However, if you are interested in using this program, it seems that the Fairy Tales book is designed to be used after the Aesop's book.) Italic Handwriting, Book D Again, I went with Italic handwriting this year, because unless this child also becomes a doctor, his current handwriting may find him isolated in a military outpost in Siberia, hand writing ciphers. I don't know, maybe that would work for him, but I'd like for him to have options. Spelling Workout C This has come in, and the boys are both absolutely, positively tickled pink to have a workbook in their hot little hands. Woot!

Reading: I don't have an official list together yet (sound familiar?) However, his reading has taken off this summer in ways that I could not have predicted. I'm glad I didn't have a list ready to go, because I think it would need significant updating shortly. As it stands, I don't think I'll have to work hard to get him to pick up whatever we may stumble upon.

The rest of the materials are things we'll work through together --

History: Story of the World, Vol. 3, with additional readings and encyclopedia work. A little outlining here and there. Good stuff. We'll start up... um, right after we finish up the Middle Ages...

Music: we'll be breaking this up into two segments
Theory: Meet the Great Composers
Practical: Regular piano lessons will continue.

Art: Artistic Pursuits (Got it in. It looks fairly painless, but then, that's how they suck you in. Still waiting for someone, anyone, to start an art co-op class in Morgan County... *hint-hint, nudge-nudge*)

Greek: easy, gentle intro with Hey, Andrew!

Religion:Kids Catechism, Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ for Kids, and interspersed work from Doorposts, Keys for Kids Daily Devotionals.

Still waiting for a science program to grab me and whisper, "Use meeeee, my preciousssss..." (OK, the "my precious" bit is new. I'm starting to get a bit manic about it, alright?) BUT, we did buy a riding mower, so there is hope that I can clear a swath down to the river that'll be wide enough to allay my fears of water moccasins or copperheads sneaking up on us. I've read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and since we do not have a mongoose, I simply do not rest easily around water in these parts.

Yeah. Anyway. Then we can take samples and do a bit of botany, or biology, or zoology. With a microscope. And a shovel.

I think that's it. He's all set, and now, we just have to wrap our minds around the fact that this is third grade... sheesh, where does it go?

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, July 12

Good, Clean Fun

Adults just don't see the hot summer days the way children do...

I guess that's a good thing...

Because they can help us see it anew,

and you know, that's kind of fun.

Kiss those babies!
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Wednesday, July 9

Food Storage

Ah, thank you, Jennifer! The calculator is from Walton Feed, and it is fantastic. You all can locate it here, if you're interested. It's not all-encompassing, but it's a nice start, and helps uncover any glaring gaps (oh, say, perhaps one may be a hard-core high-protein planner, leaving some of the other mineral-oriented foods a bit neglected, *ahem*).

Moving on, might as well round out this post with all the other stuff I find and forget.

Track My Food Storage - they have both a basic free option (max 25 lines, no analysis, but still handy), and a premium paid option (includes a number of other features)

There's a post here, at Survival Monkey (I love some of the names I've run across today - this one made me think of Ernie), with another spreadsheet calculator. I haven't played with it yet, but if I post it now, I can find it again when I have time. I'll post back on how it compares.

Of course, the good old LDS, perhaps one of the few groups of people left who intentionally plan not to have to look to the gov't if things get bad. Yay, you guys!! And while we're at it, thank you we appreciate the wealth of knowledge that's available due to your diligence.

Walton Feed also has a page that offers a great general overview for planning, including reasons to plan - ranging from long-term-trouble, to serious injury, and even the climatalogical hey-here-comes-another-one situations. (I love my dark, cricket-filled basement, I really, truly do.)

Hey, while we're on a roll, and in the hope of keeping it all in one place, want to share your favorite Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy link? (That just sounds much more fun that "emergency preparedness", doesn't it? And it also point out, since you can't see me, that my tongue is still firmly planted in my cheek. We just can't take ourselves too seriously around here, you know.)

Ok, I'm off to finish watching Becket with Zorak. (Does anybody else suspect that Richard Burton is Bill Murray's father? I know, it sounds odd. But watch the movie and tell me you don't see a resemblance...)

Kiss those babies!

Can't Find it - Can you Help?

ARGH. A few months back, I found a fantastic food storage calculator. Rather than asking you to plug in the ages and numbers of family, then figuring what you need for X-amount of time, this one asked you to input what you have on hand and then figured up how long the stuff you have will last. It even gave you caloric values, distributed out among the persons you input. It rocked!

And now, *sigh* I can't find it. I would tell you how many Google terms I've used to try to locate it, but that would be embarrassing. Have you seen it?

Kiss those babies!

Plenty to do

The air was showing through on the pickup's front tires, so Zorak stopped in at a used tire shop yesterday and replaced them. That's usually a good way to go, but today he had to take the Suburban because one of them (on the truck) didn't hold air during the night. So, we're here for the day, but there's plenty to do here.

We'll gather some blackberries. I think some of the pears are ripe, too. The basement needs more work, as well.

The barn garden is sprouting beautifully. The salad garden has mystery plants, no root plants, and in spite of the lovely, mild summer, the lettuce and greens are a bit bitter. But oh, so pretty, anyway. Something ate the tops off the jalapeno plants. All that's left are green sticks protruding from the mulch.

John is reading the first Harry Potter book. James is nearly done with the sixth. I'm trying Great Expectations. We'll see how that goes - I'm not a big Dickens fan. And in between, we have plenty of fun adventures to take with Pooh and Frances, with Sal and Swimmy, with Sylvester and Chester. Yes, there's always plenty to do.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, July 8

Sibling Differences

I feel like Jane Goodall, but without the smell. Or fear of being attacked by my subjects.

EmBaby stands directly in front of the TV, blocking the boys' view of the screen. They all respond so differently:

James: EmBaby, scootch over here out of the way, please. Down in front, Baby.

John: *sigh* Moooooove, Emily. *sigh* Please.

Smidge: I can make her move. *evil cackle*

Yet when it's Smidge who is in the way, it's a different scenario entirely:

James: Smidge, moveit.


Emily: I can make him move. *evil cackle*

(Well, perhaps not "entirely" different...)

They aren't usually this abrupt with one another, which is good. It's just the "down in front" thing that seems to irritate them. (And they do have to re-request if they put it like this. The rule being, "Would you happily comply with a request someone made of you in that tone? If not, then try again, please.") They'll willing help one another with most things. They split treats evenly and without being asked to. They include everyone in their outings and adventures. They do try to antagonize one another on occasion, seemingly for the fun of it (although I've found there's usually some underlying point that's niggling away at the antagonist and since he/she can't quite articulate it, it comes out in huffing and posturing and nose-picking). But for the most part, they're very good to each other.

Yet, I remember a time when the boys were so deferential toward Smidge. Now, he's just another pup in the litter. Already, I can see that EmBaby is losing her Preferred Sibling status. Everybody warned me that once the babies are mobile, they loose their cute-factor, but it seems that in our house, it's not when they can move, it's when they can argue that the siblings tip them off the pedestal. Weird.

However, I've also noticed that once the sibling has been tipped off the pedestal, that's when the real fun begins. That's when he (or she) is considered an equal in all things play, gets a vote in the tribal concessions, gets a storefront in the front yard. That's about the same time the newly-dethroned sibling starts clearing his/her own spot at the table without being reminded, gets to pick a table-setting chore (which the boys allow without any territorial nitpicking) and gains access to the "special things" of the others. (Each child has things over which he has sharing veto power, and it seems to become a non-issue to share with the ex-baby at some unspoken point.)

It's all very interesting, actually. The dynamics of sibling interaction fascinate me. Have you noticed trends and patterns in how your children interact?

Kiss those babies!

Monday, July 7

And there went the weekend~

What a great few days! We enjoyed having Ben & Claudia over for the Fourth. Of course, we kept them way too late. Poor Claudia - I don't know how she keeps from getting into the knife drawer and throwing things at the guys until they quit talking and head for the car. But she doesn't. She's so good about that. The guys don't get to see each other very often, so when they do get together, they gab like a couple of teenage girls on a sleepover. The kids had a fantastic time, and when they left, it was after midnight - but there wasn't one single meltdown!

The five boys stayed outside, playing with the loud and smelly firecrackers and fireworks. The girls (EmBaby and Luci) stayed inside, looking out the window from their vantage point on the couch. The boys tried to get them to come out, convinced they were missing all the fun. The girls, however, yelled at them to go away and shooed them back out the door. "It's scary out there!" Yep, I think it's safe to say that we girls are all about the sparklies. The guys are all about The Big Ka-Boom. At least at our house. :-) Something for everyone.

I tried to read the Declaration of Independence aloud to the boys, but by the second line, I was in tears. I do that. Every time. Someday, I will be able to get through it without leaking vociferously. Until then, we'll take it one line at a time and finish going through it this week. That'll be easier on my sinuses, and the boys can focus on the words without worrying that Mom's going to collapse.

Not much else going on, here, really. The boys' piano teacher didn't show for lessons on Thursday, so I am assuming she's had her baby. This means we're off from lessons for the next month. I hope she'll decide to take a little longer with her little one, but if she doesn't, we'll enjoy having her back. In the meantime, we'll be making use of all the great links everybody shared with us in previous piano threads! Thanks, guys!

I need to make several huge treks into town to drop off the many clothing items we're culling. Some to the pregnancy crisis center. Some to the thrift shop. Some to the consignment shops. I really wish we knew someone who needed baby girl clothes - I hate to just send them off into the unknown. There are a few special pieces that I'm not parting with until we find somebody. So, you know, if you're thinking about it, hurry up, okay?

We went to a birthday party at a skating rink Saturday. Longest two hours of our lives. Oy. I don't remember the skating rink in my hometown being so dark. And stinky. And loud. Yuck. (Yet another sign that I am old, I fear.) And what's up with grown men putting flashing pacifiers in their mouths??? This is attractive, somehow? Really?? (Well, then, I think I'm okay with getting old. And ever so glad I'm married. *whew*)

James and John really gave it a go on learning to skate. It was painful, and to be honest, I wouldn't have kept going. But they did. They really, honestly did. And we stayed until they could do it. I forgot how hard it is when you haven't done it before. As in, ever. (How did my kids get to this point without learning to skate? Doesn't everybody know how to skate? Is this just a sign that you grew up in the 70's?) Oh, yeah, we live in the boonies. We did that on purpose. I think they'll be fine. Although, I am tempted to take them individually to lessons at least once, just so they'll have the ability to skate if they're ever in this situation again. I don't know. It seems like something one should have in his pouch-o-skills... don't you think? *shrug* I don't know.

Gotta get organized this week. Must do it. That's all.

have a wonderful Monday!
Kiss those babies!

Thursday, July 3

It's OK, Y'all can laugh

If the "spice" is self-inflicted, it's pretty much fair game immediately. It's when someone else decides to spice things up on my behalf that I need the cool-down period before it's funny. ;-)

Zorak was a doll about the whole thing. I called and explained that the fridge had exploded in my hands. He offered to track down the part and take care of it so that I wouldn't lose much steam on my pre-company freak-out train. He's so good to me. He called back in a bit to let me know nobody in town has one in stock, but he did find it with a distributor and it would be $50 for the glass. Shipping is anywhere from $9 (for three week delivery) to $27 (for next day delivery - which would still be no sooner than Monday, what with the holiday weekend).

Then came the redemption-idea. Hey, can't we call a glass company? Storm doors have to use tempered glass, don't they? (Yes, I've just cost us almost $80, but if I can find some way to cost us less, then that counts in the redemption category, right? Or is this like saving a dollar on something you wouldn't buy anyway, but you do because you had a coupon? Eek.) Anyway, Zorak called around and found a place that would cut us a piece of laminated glass (think "windshield glass" - same stuff) for about $30. And no shipping, since he could pick it up on the way home. Yay.

So, in the end, we have groceries *and* a place to set them. (We were going to just put plywood over the hole until the glass showed up, so it would've been all good, regardless.) Our company came, ate, and just left. The kids were a wee bit excitable, but very polite and welcoming. We had a lovely visit, and good fellowship.

One of our guests has diabetes, so we tried to offer something he would enjoy that wouldn't trip him up. We made mashed cauliflower. Wow, that was tasty! (And I don't even care for cauliflower.) Once our guest realized the white stuff wasn't potatoes, he tried it and was pleasantly surprised. Yippee. I love it when food makes people feel comfortable and welcome.

And now, it's late. The three smallest turned into chalk outlines early on in the evening, and the older two are just now dozing off. I'm going to go watch Zorak play with the Rubik's Cube. Yep, the fun never stops around here. We're just crazy that way!

Kiss those babies!

Spice things up!

When things are going just a lit-tle too smoothly, give this a shot. I guarantee it'll do away with that pesky monotony of ease in a jiffy!

When your elder calls to say he and the pastor would like to come visit (or anyone with whom you have only a casual acquaintance, and still feel the need to be dressed when they arrive), be sure to invite them to stay for supper. (Which I did out of guilt, because, seriously, it's the equivalent of driving to another state to come all the way down here, you know - this is why it's taken three years for them to schedule the first visit).

Then, make certain you have to be somewhere every. single. day the week of their visit. That way, you won't be bothered by all that cleaning and decluttering. (For fun, watch your husband's eyes grow wide when he sees that the children have taken the beer cans from the recycling bin and used them for yard darts and frisbees!)

The night before your guests arrive, be sure to write up an absurdly overly-packed prep schedule that entails nobody touching anything. Ever. (Then stay up late, just to really add to the "wow factor" of the whole experience!)

And, if you're still feeling like it'll be okay, and you really think you have this whole thing figured out and you're making good headway...

Be sure to break the BIG shelf in your fridge. Man, watching those things implode is better than any fireworks display known to man!

Yeah, good stuff, ya know. I love my shop vac. And my sense of humor (the only things that prevented me from teaching the kids snappy new vocabulary words when the glass erupted in my hands!)

Thankfully, it's a gorgeous day out, the kids are being almost helpful, and my fridge is so. incredibly. clean right now. :-D

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, July 1


The first bottle. Ever. For any of them. That was weird.

But man, when you *need* them to take one, it's nice if they will! (And James was so proud that he got to be the one to feed Jason! I'm glad Zorak took a picture for me so I didn't miss it entirely.)

Me-Tae watched all five of them for me for the root canal this morning. She is an angel on earth, I tell you.

I've also decided that Dental Blue must define "preferred provider" as "inept charlatan who will work for whatever insurance will cough up". So far, having stepped outside the coverage of our insurance company, we've worked with five different dental providers (one restorative dentist, two periodontists, an endodontist, and a something-or-other) who have all been more honest and proactive and - so far - competent, than the previous ones ever were. It's refreshing. It makes it a lot easier to make jokes in my head about the idiosyncrasies of bone conduction while I'm in the chair. I want to say it's costing us a lot more, but to be honest, if it's good work that does the trick, it won't cost more than what we've already paid and are having to re-do, or do properly in the first place. That's worth it, any day. So, root has been canalled... or however you'd say it. Crowns go on tomorrow. General treatment plan is, I think, figured out. Yay.

After I picked up the kids, we met Zorak and some of his co-workers/friends for lunch at the Miso House. Yum-yum. Good food. Good conversation.

Picked up my Rainbow order on the way home. Missed the library because three of five were out cold and I just didn't have it in me to deal with three groggy, cranky children in the World's Strangest Library at the end of a long day. (Call me a coward, if you must, but I know my limits.) We came home and wallowed in new books all afternoon.

Can't ask for a better end to the day than that!

And tomorrow, we get to do it all over again!

Kiss those babies!

Shhh. Don't tell!

Smidge cracked us up last night. Poor little guy is so upset with James...

I made chile and corn bread for supper, but somehow I salted the living heck out of the chile. I think I could have bagged it and left it on the shelf for storage, it was that salty. No clue what happened. John, trying to be helpful, said, "It's not nearly as bad as the salty ice cream." (Our ice cream maker got pinholes in the canister, which we didn't notice until we tried our first batch of ice cream for the season. Salt-flavored ice cream is pretty vile, for the record.) We all agreed.

James said, "Mom, are we ever going to get a new ice cream maker?"

I sighed. I've meant to get a new canister, but couldn't find one online, and have been holding off on buying a whole new machine because that seems wasteful when everything else on our machine works okay. But still, that's one more thing I haven't taken care of, and should have. "Yeah. I meant to take care of that."

Smidge started *seething*. Now, if you've never seen a 4yo seethe, it's pretty funny. His little jaw clenched. His right eye both widened (at the top) and narrowed (from the bottom). His nostrils began to twitch in and out. His little hands started working like he was getting ready to go off on someone in partial Italian. "JAY-mzzzz," he hissed. "You gave it away!"

We all looked confused. Zorak tried to change the subject. But a seething 4yo will not be diverted.

In the best stage whisper I've ever heard from a child, Smidge proceeds to hiss out, "James, you spoiled the surprise that we were going to get Mom an ice cream maker For. Her. Birth. Dayyyyyy."

We all cracked up. I mean, hard-core belly laughs all the way around. Seriously, James had done nothing of the sort. But in Smidge's little 4yo mind, the mere mention of someday buying one was tantamount to just sauntering up to me and annoucning the plan. Oh, he's pretty mad at James over that one.

The big boys both tried, at first, to set Smidge straight on that one, so I took them back to the bedroom to have a little talk...

"Listen, it's no fun to get blamed for something you didn't do. I get that. But. Am I upset about the surprise? (no) Is my birthday completely ruined, never to be salvaged again? (no) Is Smidge upset? (yes) Do you think that if you were to somehow get him to see that *he* is the one who let the cat out of the bag, he would feel better, or worse? (worse) OK, then. Do you see where I'm going with this? In 30 years, we will buy him an ice cream maker for his birthday, and we'll start telling him about it in January. It'll be funny to him by then. In fact, this will be one of the few humorous kid stories I'll have that don't involve poop. I'm good with that. But right now, this is a good chance to be gracious. Honestly, did y'all hear that stage whisper? He did everything in his wee power to be discreet. We've got to honor that, guys."

By the time we rejoined the table, the boys were laughing about the more infamous poop stories we've already got. They'd decided Smidge wasn't a villian. James even apologized to Smidge for "letting the secret out", which I thought was an incredibly magnanimous move on his part. It helped Smidge feel much better. And I promised the big boys, with a wink and a smile, that I would "forget" between now and then, which made John feel better.

Funny kids. I love 'em.

We leave in about fifteen minutes for town. Me-Tae said she would watch the ninos for me while I'm at the dentist this morning (root canal -weeee!) I'm so thankful, I don't even know where to start. Hope she doesn't mind that the smaller three will be in their jammies. *grin* Hopefully, I won't be feeling too punky, as I think it'd be fun to take the kids to the Space and Rocket Center afterword. Once the novacaine wears off, we can get sno-cones! (You know, for the kids...)

Kiss those babies!