Saturday, August 30

He's actually very happy.

I was having some fun editing photos, and I loved how this one turned out. I call it "60's Dad".

Don't let the photos I post fool you. Zorak actually has a beautiful smile, and a wonderful laugh, both of which he shares freely and often with us in life. They are two of the things I love about him. But for some reason he really dislikes it when I come at him with the camera. I suspect he'd rather I trap him in the bathroom, reading Shakespeare excerpts to him through the door all afternoon. He and EmBaby were laughing when I squatted down for this shot. He saw me, and suddenly went all 1800's portraiture on me. *shrug* That's okay. It's still a shot of three of my favorite people. I love the way she looks at him. And I don't know what was up with Jase at the time - doesn't look like he's partial to the stroller. Or perhaps he's developing a sense about when Mom squats down with that black thing over her face...

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, August 28

Never Stop Being Willing to Smile

We're still exhausted, but we're back in the swing of things. Piano, scouts, school, chores. It's good, but it feels a little Blah. Today, it felt a little oh-so-help-me-I-can-send-you-to-Mexico-and-start-over! Still, there's plenty to make us smile. Today was grocery day, which means fresh fruits and milk - that makes us smile. Tomorrow is Friday, bringing us three days with Zorak and with friends - that makes us smile.
AND, we discovered where Santa works in the off-season!
Check it out:

That *has* to be the REAL Santa, right there. He was jolly and sweet, too.
(Just like I knew he'd be! *sniff, sniff*)

Aunt Linda also had a really great time. You just have to love this shot. Zorak had taken Em on the elephant ride, and when he got off, he said, "Man, that ride is AWESOME! You guys have to check it out!" (Evidently, it goes surprisingly fast for a kiddie ride, and you can control how high your elephant goes. Always a bonus.) Aunt Linda took him up on it.

Be willing to laugh. Be willing to enjoy these things. Oh, it's so worth it! (And then, when you have days like we had today, you can draw on the laughter and the memories and push through. You know, instead of just leaving the children strategically along the market aisles until they start to think you might really leave them and decide to shape up.)
Kiss those babies!

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Wednesday, August 27

Getting in the Picture

Donna posted a wonderful tidbit about getting in the picture *now* - don't put it off until you've lost weight, or done your hair, or whatever reason you give yourself for not wanting to have your picture taken. She's right. She's so very right. I have very few photographs of my own Mother, and perhaps two of her together with me. I wish I had more of them. She was beautiful. Sometimes, however, the problem isn't so much a reluctance to be photographed...
It would seem that some of us are just a bit too, erm, animated to be photographed. And when the photographer isn't really paying attention to the Mommy (who can blame him, when he's got such a plethora of adorable, smaller subjects, really?) the result isn't quite what Mom would like for her Lifelong Memorial.
I submit, in my defense, the most recent string of family pictures which include yours truly...
I particularly love the Ichabod Crane-themed shot. Yeah. These are some of the better ones.
It would seem that my issue is not pride (duh - posting these is evidence enough of that), nor is it lack of opportunity (the horses just kept coming around and around, so Zorak snapped away - he's very good about that). It seems that I am simply way too animated to be photographed. Or, something. I'm not sure which.
Of course, it doesn't help that over the course of a four-day trip, the camera was pointed, while not exactly *at* me, at least in my general direction, exactly twice (on the merry-go-round, and again on the train, as you can see). I usually have the camera, and nobody holds still long enough to use the timer. Those would be some sad, sad shots of me, all alone, standing in front of random backgrounds, talking to invisible people outside the frame. But the facial expressions would be similar, so really, what's the point?
So, if you start with limited opportunities, and add in slightly manic physical behavior, you have children who will wonder, as they peruse the family photos, exactly what affliction their mother suffered for her to be always making those faces. But they will love their father even more for staying with her, in spite of that. So, that's something.
Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 26

The thing about life

Sometimes we watch other people, and think how nice it would be to live our lives in that kind of high-glam, thrills-a-minute existence. It's better than watching MST3K, or more depressing than watching Sex and the City. Either way, we keep watching...

And sometimes, it's easy to then look around at the chaos of our own lives, and get impatient with the responsibilities we have. Particularly in our little charges. We start thinking about how some people can pee in peace, or eat badly without feeling like a guilty hypocrite, or do what they want to do when they want to do it because they don't have anybody they're responsible for. And when what we really want to do is live off of boxed wine, Susy Q's, and rare t-bone steaks (or, that could be just me), we have to put down the book, and haul ourselves up off the couch to fix food, wipe noses and butts, explain things again and again (again), stand firm...

and be nice about it.

And it's easy to think that there's got to be something better. Somewhere. Somehow. Something we're missing, or missing out on, that we can never recapture. It's true that every choice we make indicates a choice we didn't opt for. Every responsibility we take on necessarily takes other options off the table. Call it a trade-off, call it choosing your path. Call it whatever you want, it can be frustrating.

But if we can, we need to look hard and long at what we're choosing, and what it will grow, what it will yield. When we can be honest about who we will become in those choices, and who we will impact in those choices, suddenly the choices become easier to make. Easier to embrace. Easier to be thankful for, added responsibilities, communal latrines, and all.

Because this doesn't just happen. This is the kind of thing that takes time and love to grow. It takes security and affection to thrive. Those things don't exist in a self-absorbed vacuum. They exist when we bring them to the table. When we nurture them in our own choices, in our own actions. They come to life when we put them into action, into life. Because this is it. This is life. This is what it's about. Not just parenting. Perhaps not even parenting. But life, family, friends. Love. Devotion. Doing what needs to be done because it needs to be done and we can do it. Sometimes we are the only ones who are supremely equipped to do it, whether we know it or not.

Because we may begrudge putting down the book or foregoing the t-bone. But we will never regret doing the right thing. And sometimes we may get grumpy. Or whiny. (Again, that could be just me.) But we get over it, and we move on. And that's the good stuff. That what makes us, at the end of the line, look back and say, "It was a good life." Having someone still with you at the end to hear you say it, or being the person there to hear it said, well, that's kind of the point, isn't it?
As always, kiss those babies!

Summer Fun

Kiss those babies!
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Monday, August 25

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

Actually, if you asked me to jog right now, I'd glare at you. Or, at least I'd think about glaring at you. But I don't have the energy to do more than that. Please don't ask me to jog.

We are home. Two very full days at Dollywood. One day at Splash Country. Five sunburned kids (even SPF30 has its limits - but it's nowhere near as bad as the lobster children I brought back from Florida a couple years ago, so I have minimal guilt this time). One lobster-mom - again, the limits of SPF - you just can't expose fish-belly white skin to the sun all at once, no matter how well you slather on the cream, you know. Zorak, who has had the foresight to work on the balcony without his shirt most of the summer, was able to even out his tan, and emerge quite bronzed and notburned. Pfftt.

We got to stop in at the Smoky Mountain Knife Works on the way back. This is Zorak's very favorite place to shop. Or at least it's in the top five.

Gram has good days and not-so-good days. It's a little scary on the not-so-good days, but like Aunt B said, she has those at home, too. The RV is so self-contained that she can be just as comfortable on the road. And when she's lucid, she loves to know that she's out and about. She loved the magnolia blooms, and the tall oaks. She loved reminiscing when the things she saw in TN reminded her of her time in VA and VT. She enjoyed watching the kids play, and she really wants to take BabyGirl home with her. Aunt B asked her last week what she'd do with her once she got her, and Gram said, "Well, I don't know. But I want her." Today she had a good day, and we were able to talk and visit for quite some time.

We think Aunt Linda has had a really good visit. She's always busy, doing something, or touching base with her daughters and friends back home. She tidies up a bit, writes some cards, holds the baby, and then starts all over again. I hope I'm doing that well, and can find that much joy in daily life, when I'm her age.

Aunt B needs a day at a spa, a really nice bottle of wine, and a book that's so funny it makes you laugh until you cry. But she probably won't take it. Gram had a bad night Friday night, and she stayed home from going to the park on Saturday. She worries. She's a caregiver, in the truest sense of the word, and even when she's exhausted and ready to drop, she takes a deep breath and keeps working. I wish like the dickens I could find a way to help her out, give her a breather, and help make her feel appreciated. Haven't hit on anything yet, but I'm not going to stop brainstorming for something.

I'm not sure the Aunts will ever want to travel with the Family Circus again- we're a loud, sleepy, vociferous, slow-moving, really vocal troupe. (Did I mention the decibel level? Whew, that'll do some damage to your hearing.) However, we had such a nice time. This isn't something we'd have ever gotten around to doing, I don't think. And now, we have. And we'd love to do it again!

The kids are all overwhelmed, exhausted, slightly crispy, a wee bit dehydrated (in spite of sucking down the water - sometimes you just cannot keep up), and all things considered, they held it together incredibly well. We even survived supper at the Cracker Barrel tonight with only one minor meltdown, and that was just a misunderstanding which was easily rectified and ended with smiles and snuggles.

I'll upload pictures tomorrow (today?) after we've unpacked and tidied a bit. Sit right down with a fresh pot of coffee and my USB cable and just go to town on it! (And hey, Erin, I did take pictures of the other four children, even!)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, August 22


No, I haven't forgotten how to spell. I haven't even just decided it'd be fun to spell random words incorrectly (although it probably would be). We really are Kamping. And you know it's not like real camping, because this is way too swanky. And a little kitschy. Perhaps even... well, before I go overboard, let's just say it's a K-kinda word. As in KOA Kamping Kabins. (Nobody should make that much money off of bad spelling.) I haven't been in a KOA for more than two decades. Maybe three. Wow. Why not!?!? This is the way. to. go.
so, to recap:
Thursday: 1 RV, 2 dogs, 5 kids (10 people total), 300 miles... and we're in Pigeon Forge! The trip -- surprisingly low-key and non-scary. I don't know if it's Aunt B's calming influence, or if we're just starting to figure this thing out. Whatever it is, once in a while, you hit on something that just really clicks.

Friday: Dollywood! Aunt B stayed with Gram to help her rest up. We took aunt Linda with us. Fantastic place. Will fill you in with really funny pictures and details later, but for now, just a few bits. Take your own food. That's not 'flat bread', in the sense that most North, South, and Central Americans use the word. Ice water is free, and those souvenir cups are worth every penny just for that. And, um, don't wear jeans unless you're here for the Christmas to-do. Yeah.

Friday Night: Dixie Stampede. Very cool. Kids were totally riveted. LOVED the ostrich races. Gram had a good time. I think everybody did. Our waiter, Matthew, was astonishing. I could not do his job. WOW. But WHY did nobody warn us about the silverware issue? What's up with that? Try convincing my OCD-sympathetic 9yo that a whole chicken IS a finger food, and then get back to me on why you didn't feel the need to tip me off about something like that, please? That should so be the first thing out of any reviewer's mouth: there is no silverware. Not even for the soup. It's not a bad thing, but again, a little forewarning goes a long, long way, does it not?

Saturday: Back to Dollywood. This time, Aunt Linda stays with Gram and Aunt B comes with us. (We tried to convince her to let us stay with Gram and then the Aunts could take the boys and Fearless Sister, but that was kind of a no-go.)

We could easily stay here for a month and never feel like we've seen it all or run out of things to do. It's most impressive!

And so, I've just fallen asleep twice while typing this (a pitfall of laptops is that you can, technically, get way too comfortable!) so I'm going to go.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, August 21

Hey, all

We're off on an adventure. I've heard there's wireless, and Aunt B said I can use her computer. We've got somebody to house sit, and all is well! I'll write more tomorrow!

Kiss those babies!


Wednesday, August 20

Tuesday, August 19

The Mess

We're enjoying the visit, and the mess. The mess stays in the kitchen, though, which is helpful. A messy kitchen means there's been food, and with food comes laughter, fully bellies, shared stories, and contentment. Food is good. But you can't have good food without messing up the kitchen a little bit here and there. And you could stop to clean. Or you could just enjoy your company and clean later. My experience indicates those pots will be waiting for you after your guests leave, so there's really no hurry...
The boys were in heaven all weekend, having Patrick to play chess with them. They're wallowing in Aunt B's willingness to play cards. They love having Gram to dote on and do things for. And Aunt Linda lets them gather things for her and help out. It's really nice.

It's hard to see Gram as fragile as she is. But you know, she's 99... and a half! I think you're allowed to slow down a little at some point, right? And it's a reminder that the pots and pans will be there long after all of us are gone. I plan to clean enough to be able to make good food. But then, relax, tell stories, play games, and enjoy the things that won't be here later -- things like little babies, smallish kids, big kids, friends and aunts and grams. Really. It's okay.

And we have a surprise adventure planned for this weekend! I can hardly wait!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, August 17

The Visit

Hi! Wish you were here! We're eating, visiting, eating, chatting, eating, napping, and then eating some more. It's good stuff. And check it out - the mostly-finished balcony!
Aunt B, Aunt Linda, and Gram arrived safe and sound Friday night. Cousins P and T arrived sometime Saturday morning, while everyone was asleep. Anybody remember being young enough to drive all night and still function sometime in the following 24 hours? Me neither! But they're tough.

We had company today to visit with the... company. That sounds weird. Friends of Zorak's from work came down. Me-Tae came down. (We bribed her with puppies and children - she's such a softie!)

Zorak cooked and fed everyone into a near-comatose state... pulled pork bbq, chimichangas, beans and homemade Spanish rice... so good! Then we just sort of plopped down until our circulation could be rediverted back to our limbs.
And this... is a great way to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon, is it not?
Kiss those babies!

Friday, August 15

You don't say...

Doesn't that look like exactly what he's thinking, there? I love that look.

So, I nearly had the police called on me this week. Forgot to tell ya about that. Yeah, I was pumping gas when I noticed this...

And although my UpCloseNatureShots pretty much aren't worth taking, I couldn't resist. This little guy was SO cute. While the pump sucked the last of the checking account from my wallet, I scootched all around this post, snapping shots and trying to hit a Donna-worthy moment. (No luck.) The last picture on the disk shows the nice lady manager approaching me to find out why I was taking pictures at her gas station. Of course, she didn't identify herself, just came up and started in on me. I, being guilty of nothing untoward, and having severe personal space issues, as well as a deep disdain for being approached and questioned in public, I asked her why she wanted to know. THEN she explained that she's the manager of the gas station, and it all clicked. Ohhhh, crazy middle-aged lady snapping photos of... of what? *shrug* Well, I'd made her uncomfortable, regardless. Private property. I'm good with that. Mea culpa.

So when she asked me what I was taking pictures of, I pointed to the moth (which was, thankfully, still there - wouldn't that have been awkward?) and said, "A bug." I think that actually made me more suspect in her eyes, as she didn't even glance at it. She just frowned. (Could have been the frown of 'great, another loon', but it looked like the frown of 'thank heaven for Homeland Security', okay?) But as I lost control of my verbal diarrhea (I'd caught sight of her husband/friend/bodyguard in the background, with his phone open and his thumb hovering over the keypad, his eyes blatantly glued to the two of us - and I realized he was probably waiting for the signal to hit 'send' and bring in the cops...) I waxed on about photography and photoshop and bokah (or is it bekah? buuka? bummah?) the poor woman actually backed. away. from me. as she said good-bye. I panicked. "Wait!" I yelled. I no longer feared the cops. But I realized she thought I was a fruitcake. "Do you want to see the pictures? They're not very good, but they're-" She cut me off and ran for her car. She got in, he closed his phone, and they sat there, tag-team mad-dogging me until I left.

So, I think I'm at least cleared of potential terrorist activity. But I may now be the new Local Nutcase. Yep, me and the guy who talks to his shoes, hangin' at the gas station. We are the local color. (She couldn't have identified herself, first? I mean, really? *sigh*) Oh well, I'm only a little nuts. It's a benign nuts.

Today, we did go to the park. We played in the water. We did the picnic thing. We laughed a lot. And when we loaded up to leave, we found we had company. They've named him Wobbles, and they are *quite* excited to watch him emerge from his shell. (If you look closely, you can see his back had just begun to split, although he was still walking around.) They've been waiting for this ever since Meredith's boys found one last year. He's now on the tea cart (still on the sling) in the dining room. Zorak is pretty sure he'll hatch out while we sleep and we'll have a cicada round-up on our hands come morning. The boys plan to be up early to catch The Emerging.

I'm just trying not to think about it.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 13

Roundup Time?

It's only Wednesday, so, in lieu of an academic end-of-week report, I'll give you a quick peek at our week, in general.

Monday - We rushed through math and Latin, loaded up and had Em to her Very First Dentist appointment (in town) at 11:30. Too bad it's scheduled for September 11, not August 11. *sigh* We came home, finished lessons, and then I abandoned the children to fend for themselves while I sorted and sifted through all the outgrown clothing we own. Somebody needs to have a baby who needs clothes!

I got distracted after bedtime, organizing my closet by color (blaming that one on hormones!), bringing up all the nifty stuff I got to wear for maybe fifteen minutes about three years ago (you know, between pregnancies - you get into it, yell, "Woo-Hoo! Look what I can fit into!" and *poof*, you're pregnant again) - and am now fully stocked up and feeling human again.

Tuesday - We finished ALL our lessons, plus some work on the house and basement before heading into town for the follow-up meeting with the periodontist. Long meeting. (Lots to cover.) The kids were awesome. The staff wanted to divvy up the kids and take them home. Otter pops for all upon our return! Thank you, thank you, children-of-ours.

Wednesday - We ran out of milk! Ack! How can we not have milk? Oh, we need a cow. I schlepped down to the corner market and paid WAY too much for a half-gallon of it. Kids had oatmeal-in-a-glass. Morning crisis averted.

Lessons - Right now, the boys are all just gearing up. They've got the latitude to work as far ahead as they need to in order to get to a point where they're challenged. Thankfully, they're taking advantage of that. That's good. It'll give us more elbow room for fun stuff as the year progresses.

Fun Stuff -
* Aunt B, Aunt Linda, and Gram are winging their way to our place. We expect them sometime Friday or Saturday, and everyone is so excited to spend time with them again. The last time Aunt Linda and Gram were out, the guest room was still sheeted in plastic, the foyer and hallway had no walls, we had no floor, no patio, no balcony. So the change will be fun, and I think Zorak is really looking forward to sharing with Aunt B all the little engineering tidbits that he's put into the house.

* James was invited to read the Scripture at church this Sunday. He's very excited. This will be his first public speaking experience, so he's prepping for it and ready to go.

I think that's it... it's not too late, so I'm going to skedaddle. Tomorrow we've got groceries, piano lessons, and I'd promised the kids we'd have a "Wow, August Isn't So Bad" picnic if the temperature was going to be under 90. It looks like it will be, and so, we will picnic like maniacs in the August afternoon sun!

Tuesday, August 12

This one looked like fun.

The instructions:
Think back on the last 15 years of your life. What would you tell someone that you haven’t seen or talked to for 15 years? How would you sum up your life? You get 10 bullet points. A list of 10 things to summarize about you. At the end of your list, tag 5 more people and send on the love…

OK, 15 years ago, I was... 20. (Yeah, tricky math. I haven't finished Beta yet.) I was living in Pennsylvania, working as a nanny, waiting for my slot to open in nursing school, in the hope of saving enough money to someday pay for medical school...

Let's pretend this is a phone call.

10 Yeah, yeah, I did get married. We've been together almost 13 years, now. Yes, I know it's a much bigger commitment than signing a lease. Yeah, shocker for all involved. But it's good. We're getting pretty good at it, too. It's mostly him - he's awesome, and he takes my quirks in stride.

9 Kids? Oh, yeah. *awkward pause, because I know how this part's going to go* We have five. *choking noises ensue from the other end of the line* Hello? Are you okay? Yes, I'm serious. No, I'm not medicated. I really like being a mom. Yes, I'm serious.

8 We're in Alabama. Yeah, I know. Who knew? Actually, we really like it. It's a great place to raise a family. But we tell people we live in hillbilly heaven, because we don't want an influx of people who move here because it's "quaint", only to turn around and lobby two years later to have everything paved and taxed.

7 Would you believe we bought a foreclosure and have spent the last three years revamping it? Ourselves! Yes. It's amazing what one can accomplish when one can't afford to pay someone else to do it. But now, we just wouldn't trust too many others to do these things for us. We've learned a lot.

6 No, I didn't make it to Bastyr. I did transfer to NMSU for pre-med, but then Zorak and I knew we wanted to have children (obviously, heh) and I knew even then that I just don't multitask well. So, it was med school or a family. The family keeps me plenty busy, and we don't have nearly the debt.

5 I stay home with the kids.

4 Well, actually, no. They don't "go" to school. We're homeschooling them... Yeah, all of them. The older three, anyway, in 5th, 3rd, and Kindergarten. The two small ones mostly serve as sensory overload training for the older ones... Yeah, we've always done it. It's no different for us than the way you do things is for you, really.

3 Yes! I do still have that truck. We need to bring it out here and get it running again, but it got us through Zorak's years at Riddle. I love that thing. But I sold Harold (the Buick we'd fixed up in PA) shortly after I left PA. Made a grand on it, too.

2 Haven't been backpacking since I left PA. I really miss that, but between always being pregnant and/or nursing, and the fact that Zorak would rather sit, nekkid, through back-to-back church services than go backpacking, it gets put on the back burner. I figure at least one of the kids will be willing to go with me one day. Or be willing to push my wheelchair on the bike trail and pretend we're backpacking.

1 *pfft* No. I don't run anymore. I didn't run, then, either, to be honest. It just took me the same amount of time to walk one quarter the distance that you ran. Why do you think I always ran east when you ran west? Der. *laughing deeply and happily* No, I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. The cold IC Light at the pub afterword was just as cold and refreshing when I could breathe as it would've been if I'd collapsed a lung. Probably better. Life's too short to hurt myself on purpose, you know. And it's too good to rush through it.

Well, there ya go! 15 years in a nutshell. I don't normally tag people, but I really want to, so...

Staci, because she "gets" it
Melissa, because her stories inevitably make me laugh
Dawn, because I'll bet she knows things don't always turn out like we thought they would (it's usually better!)
Emily, because sometimes the post-partum brain needs something easy to blog about
Jenni, because I love her Wayback Machine anecdotes!

And if you want to join in, please do!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, August 11

Still not farmers.

Or, more appropriately, "Damnit, Jim, I'm a mother, not a horticulturalist!"

Zorak and I took our random ramble around the property to check on the fruit, and we found this:

Sooty Blotch and Flyspeck. Ew. (Yes, Hillary, more mold! LOL! Actually, they're fungi, from what I've read.) OK, I keep telling myself that we eat mushrooms, and mushrooms are fungi... but reading that these are "cosmetic" flaws, and that the apples are still edible... kinda heebes me out, to be truthful. The sooty stuff washes off. The flyspeck (could they have come up with a less appetizing name, huh?) doesn't go all the way through the skin. So, I guess, technically, it could be cut off.

And you betcha, I've researched how to head it off for next year. It starts this fall, with burning the leaves. Thankfully, we're raising a houseful of pyros-in-training, so I don't think we'll have to engage in much arm twisting to get the project started. More pruning in late winter, to improve air flow and sunlight penetration. And, then we'll have to decide if we want to go with fungicides or not. So far, everything we've grown (*cough, sputter, aherm*) is "Organic". Actually, it's "Apathetically Organic" - which means there are no pesticides, chemicals, or unnatural feeds, etc, only because we never get around to it. However, this trial-by-fire-and-total-lack-of-preparedness approach may reap serious benefits in the end, no?

The pears on one tree are HUMONGOUS, but not ripe yet. They look like they could kill someone when they let fall, though. Makes me nervous to have them dangling there. The few pears that survived on the second pear tree are teeny-tiny, and the most beautiful reddish color. They're starting to ripen now, which is exciting.

AND, we found the persimmon tree! Several hundred yards from where we thought it was! (Maybe there are two?) How cool, huh? What, um, what does one do with persimmons? Besides trying to figure out when they're ripe, that is. (On this week's checklist!) It may not have more than two dozen fruits on it, and we may not have any idea what to do with them, but it's exciting nonetheless.

Zorak's managed to urge the late-plant "Desperation Garden" along quite nicely, and we've been enjoying zucchini from it this week. The okra is trying to produce. We're cheering it on! Go, okra, go! C'mon and grow, babies! *rah, rah, rah* (That's the extent of my gardening skills, thanks.) The melons, pumpkins, and peas are toodling along, doing their thing. I don't know if they'll produce in the end, but it's fun to watch.

And that's the big gardening update from the Forever Home.

Sunday, August 10

It was bound to happen.

Five kids. Way too much creativity. All that pesky craft time, learning how to use scissors...

We hung out in the deliriously gorgeous weather earlier this week. It was nice, but the kids were a bit sweaty. I brushed Em's silky locks back from her face, and *sproing* a handful of little spikes appeared at her hairline. What the-- I tried to smooth them out. They would not smooth. Only sproing. Oh, no. NOOO.
I swallowed the shriek. If I've learned nothing else in nearly ten years of parenting, I have at least learned that if you shriek before you start asking questions, your odds of getting the Truth, The Whole Truth, or Anything Resembling The Truth go waaayyyy down.

So, um, did somebody cut Em's hair? (I ask, in what I hope to be my least suspicious voice.) The answer surprised me.

Smidge. "Yep, I did it." *grin* (It was a grin that says, "Don't mention it. Glad to be of service." You know, rather than the grin that pleads, "Look, I'm still cute and my eyes are REALLY BIG. Don't kill me yet.")

Why? (Another question that has a number of surprising, interesting answers when not prefaced with some kind of gutteral noise, I've found.)

"So her hair wouldn't get in her eyes." *grin* Again. He's really thinking this was a fantastic move.

And yes, her hair does er, did get in her eyes...

But-but-but... it had FINALLY grown out enough that it would stay back in a rubber band. And now, she has Buster Brown bangs. *sob*

But at least they're not in her eyes. We acknowledged Smidge for his thoughtfulness, and then filled him in on the whole "only grownups get to take sharp objects to other people's heads" rule. We let James know that yes, that's just another perk of being a grown up. Right up there with staying up late, paying the bills, and going to work whether you want to or not. We gave John the hairy eyeball to let him know that she's not traumatized now, so please don't laugh and give her a complex.
No blood, no foul. It's all good.
Kiss those babies!

Friday, August 8

Too funny!

When we left the house yesterday, it was spotless. Lovely. Well, could'a used a mopping, but the rest was looking mighty fine, indeed.

Today, I can't find an angle (I don't mean a room, or a wall, either - I mean one clear space as the semi-background for a close-up shot - any clear space would do - an ang-le) without showing all the papery gore that coats this house right now.

So, I walked the boys through it, gently, clearly, and asked that they remedy the infestation, plague, malaise, or whatever it is that has affected our living quarters.

John took on the coffee table, and he hadn't been at it three minutes before he came up to me, holding up something that looked kind of gross (it was way too close to my face for identification - turned out to be a lollipop stick) and said, "It looks like the eagles had a liver pop."

It took me a second to grasp his meaning, but the twinkle in his eye gave it away. I'll be chuckling over that for a while.

You know, I'm glad he gets it, and I'm even more glad that he shares it.

Kiss those babies!

Laughing Until I Cry

I need a thorougly entertaining hobby. I don't mean that our current hobbies aren't entertaining, but they don't generally make me laugh until I cry. Jen, at Cake Wrecks, has the best one out there, though.

You must start with this cake (just thinking about it makes me start choking on my coffee again), but then go back through all of her entries. I'd say it's rated PG-13, at least, so you may not want to invite the kids in straight away to show them the cake wrecks. This is more of a they're-all-in-bed-and-I-need-a-cold-Mike's-and-an-irreverent-laugh blog. Take your time. Read her commentary. Giggle until the apples of your cheeks hurt.

I wish I could remember where I found the link, because I owe somebody some serious thanks. So, whoever you are in my sidebar who linked this, I apologize for not remembering. It's 2:20AM now, and I found the link shortly before midnight... it seems my attention span is shorter than I remember. (The irony in that is painful.)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, August 7

The one day I don't take the camera...

I've been absolutely irrational about taking the camera *everywhere* lately. We've been through such a dry spell with pictures, and I know my mother-in-law loves me, but I can only be a slacker about photos of the grandbabies for so long, ya know. In spite of my fantatical insistence on having the camera *ready*, though, there really hasn't been much in the way of composition available. I mean, the view from the dentist's chair isn't that spectacular.

Yesterday, we left for piano. It's not in a beautiful room. The kids are behind a wall, and while I could take pictures of the wall and describe the children... um, that's a little strange.

So I didn't take the camera.

But our plans got changed along the way. The library was closed (so we couldn't spend an hour and a half there). Figured I'd take the kids out for lunch, since we just don't do that very often. But Em fell asleep on our way to lunch. So we grabbed a drive-thru meal... still had an hour to blow...

Well, I know it's a hundred stinking degrees out, but let's check out that park by the music store.

Oh man. It's a photographic Mecca. Water fountains. A splash-n-play area. Rock-walled rose garden built in the 1930's! Hastas the size of small elephants. Gorgeous, lush grassy field where the kids ran about looking incredibly photogenic with their flushed cheeks and slightly sweaty heads.

THIS is why we should never think we know what's going on. This is why I've been taking the camera with me *everywhere*, except yesterday. *sigh* Always be prepared. I should've been a boy scout. Maybe then this wouldn't happen.
We're going back to the kids' dentist today so they can re-fit the spacer that fell prey to a Sugar Daddy last month. I'm taking the camera, just in case.
Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 5

Not a question of whether, but of how...

Once I realized the creamy tan fabric simply would not work, in spite of the lovely flecks of color and the durability of the fabric itself, the obvious conclusion was that we just had to dye it. But there was a problem...

The directions said to use a washer (top load), or the stove top. We have a front loader, and we're talking about 13 yards of Very Heavy Canvas - it doesn't matter how big the stove is, we don't have a pot big enough to pull this off! I called RIT to see if I could do it easily over an open fire in a metal washtub. The lady hyperventilated, then told me they have directions for using a front loader. (Which she sent me - let me know if you'd like them.) Very cool. Unfortunately, there is the risk that the plastic fins would take a stain. It wouldn't harm clothes, but it would bug me. It bugs me enough to do laundry as much as I do. I didn't need something else to bug me at the same time. Sooo...

Well, you know we aren't the kind to be thwarted by something as simple as a hurdle, right? Right. OK, hot water...

Check. (See the hose? Also note that the dining room and living room have been switched around - we like the new layout significantly more than the previous one. Nice flow. And no, we still don't have nice fixtures for the kitchen. Or a range hood. Yeah, thanks for noticin'.) Moving along, according to the nice lady at RIT, the key to getting fabric to take their stuff is "agitation, agitation, agitation". I suspect she used to work in real estate and that triplet thing stuck with her. Anyway, you can't get more agitating than this:

Yup, that's a cement mixer. It's all metal, so we didn't have to worry about staining the inside. Nevermind - it's plastic, with steel fins, but it didn't stain. Yay! (Or the next batch of cement.) And it'll agitate, oh yes. It agitates beautifully! Check it out.

And all those lovely folds create the kind of dye job that makes you look for a label explaining that "This fabric was hand dyed by high altitude monks somewhere in Peru who chewed berries to just the right consistency, thus lending a softened, unique pattern to the color. These inconsistencies are a part of the unique dye process, and are not to be considered defects."

Plus, the kids thought it was pretty cool. (And a little weird. But "weird" is not going to hold much weight from a kid who walks around in winter slippers and a thick bathrobe in in 100 degree heat.)

See? Easy as construction work! (Which, for some of us, is far easier than pie!)

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, August 3

Project Blogging - Completed(ish) Couch

Well, here's what we started with... or, no, scratch that. We started with a free white couch almost six years ago. It was used when our neighbor got it, and it still looked great when he decided he didn't want to move it, so we thought it would wear well, in spite of its color. (We were wrong. It had worn well because the two previous owners had each been childless men with impeccable taste and meticulous cleaning habits. The fabric had nothing to do with it. Go figure.) Note the tear on the cushion, and the fact that it's not white. The uglier portions are cleverly concealed by Gram's awesome Family Blanket.
I'm thinking this, also, may have had some bearing on the overal condition of the fabric...

But if I have to pick, I'm keeping the children. And the ice cream. We can live in a museum when they're grown and gone.

And that's it for "before" pictures. Would you believe that out of the 20,000+ images stored on our computer, there are fewer than a dozen that include the couch to any recognizable degree? So, without further fanfare or apologies, here is the new cover on the couch. Everything is removable, machine washable, and made of heavy canvas. The striped stuff on the front is fabric I'd bought five years ago to recover it, but never got around to using. In hindsight, I'm glad because it's not nearly sturdy enough to withstand this home. These children. Our life. But it does make a nice decorative edge. In order to make it look more intentional, I'm going to make some comfy throw pillows that'll have both fabrics on them.

I still need to sew on the closures, which will eliminate the wrinkly bits on the arms and sides. And the front needs some elastic and hemming. However, I'm down to one needle, so I'm going to wait on attempting those so that I won't be dead in the water (again) if when I break another needle.

I could list a thousand things you could do to make a cover for your couch that would look exponentially better than this. You could measure the fabric. You could cut with a straight edge. You could plan ahead of time. You could do it when children aren't frolicking in the pin boxes or peeing in the hall. Really, there is so much you could do differently than I did. But, as Nestor says, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." If I waited to do it perfectly, we'd still be telling the kids not to pick the stuffing out of the hole in the cushion. And nobody would want to sit on the couch.

There are a few other niggling things that I want to fix, but Zorak asked me to "let it wear for a month or so and then see what adjustments it needs". Do you get the feeling he's sick of this project? Might like his wife back? Yeah, me, too. So, I'll finish the hem and the closures. And then we'll live with it for a while.

(Please ignore the socks - they were clean when he put them on this morning. And kindly overlook the coffee table. I've nicknamed it Prometheus, as it gets put right every night and then the little eagles come and destroy it anew each morning. It's all part of a Classical Adventure.) In all, my goals were to improve the overall appearance of the couch (check!), make the couch inviting to sit on again (check!), and create a warmer, happier space for the family to spend time together (check!) So. Mission accomplished. (But I do think I'm happier doing woodworking. Definitely happier working with wood. But sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones, and that's okay, too.)

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, August 2

Fun with Black and White

We hit the barber's shop on Thursday. I love this place - it's Old School, and it's fantastic. We had plenty of time to kill while we waited, so I got to play with the camera a bit.

No wonder it takes the little guys so long to load up! Look at that thing beside that little girl? I'm surprised she is so insistent that she can do it herself, thankyouverymuch.

I love the benches they have in the waiting space. And the black and white photos on the walls. It's a very comfy place.

Don't let the worried look fool ya. He was fine until he got something in his nose. A few sneezes and a good tissue later and he was all smiles again.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, August 1

Happy Friday!


Doesn't Friday look like fun?

Kiss those babies!
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