Friday, October 31

Typical Virtual Friday

A kind-of, sort-of Day in the Life. Thursday is the new Friday!

No, not really, but it's late, and that's the best I could offer. Although, it *is* our friday...

*aherm* Anyway...

8:00 - We stage our own little revolt this morning and refuse to get dressed. You can carry compost to the heap in your jammies, right? It's not like the neighbor's chickens care if you match. The kids grab fruit and start their lessons while I read the news and warm up with a cup of coffee.

8:20 - They're all in here, reading the news over my shoulder. From the comments they're making, I'm guessing they'd like a little breakfast. (Namely EmBaby: "That boy looks hungry, mama. Hungry like your Em-lee. I'm jus' a hungry girl." Someone tell me she will somehow master "subtle" without going into "codespeak", right?)

8:45 - I start the pancakes and ask them to get back to their lessons. James starts with reading. John starts with math.

8:50 - We're fixing pancakes while we discuss random thoughts that pop into their heads. Not a lot of reading or math getting done. Redirect the Bigs. Throw pancake scraps to Em. Flip pancakes. Redirect again.

9:15 - Pancakes are ready, John's math is done, but James' reading book is now lost. We don't know how it happens. He never once moved from the breakfast bar. The breakfast bar has a finite flat surface and no shrubbery surrounding it. Where'd the book go? *shrug* Oh well, let's eat.

11:00 - I've been done for an hour and a half. The boys are still eating. After I finished, I took advantage of having a semi-captive audience to read two chapters of Five Little Peppers, do a little geography, and cover Music History. But still... I've been dancing with Embaby to Handel's Hallelujah Chorus for forty minutes, and my knees ache.

11:30 - I finally declare that if they keep this up, I am going to put us all on a public school schedule, complete with "bus ride" at six in the morning, pee breaks only between "classes", twenty minute OUTSIDE recess (no matter how cold it is), and the one that always gets them, HALF HOUR LUNCH PERIOD.

11:32 - Their spots are cleaned, books gathered, and all the happy, well-fed children are looking at me expectantly for the next lesson. (Um, it's art. But I didn't expect my public school schedule speech to be quite *this* effective, and I must go dig up the art book.) Oh, hey, this one is on observation and detail! We're supposed to go outside and "observe the marvels of the world"! James looks outside, at the 40-degree day and says, "How 'bout we observe the marvels of the MODERN world?" Yeah. We'll stay inside. I don't know where your coats are, yet.

1:27 - Art is done. Chores are done. Math, latin, reading - all done. James has my Henle because he cannot find his LP text. The four principle parts are laid out differently, and it makes us batty. I really hope his book turns up. (Perhaps it's hiding with his reading book? I'm sensing a pattern, here. Remember to check the pantry and cupboards tonight, when he's in bed.) James makes lunch for everybody. John sets the table. Jase serenades us with jokes in his native tongue, and laughs maniacally at each and every one. I wish at least one of us could speak Infantese. Smidge and Embaby do not fight. This is a beautiful moment in my day.

1:45 - They're done eating. (I'm having that "schedule speech" printed out, dipped in gold, and hung on the wall behind the dining table!)

2:00 - Break time. Video games, stories, games, reading, playing, napping. Kind of a free-for-all, but in a good way that doesn't result in any broken bones or bleeding noses. Smidge helps me make banana bread. I send him on his way with a kiss and a snuggle after he blows flour from the bowl all over my head. Love that help, though. It changes so quickly into "can I do it all by myself".

At some point, Zorak gets home. Since it's Virtual Friday, we have a special movie to watch. Zorak suggests a finger food supper (he brought shrimp! *swoon*), and so that's what we do. Shrimp, green olives, tortilla-cheese-ham-wrap-things, pickles, okra, and banana bread. Journey to the Center of the Earth (the new one, with Brendan Fraser).

And then, bedtime. Quiet time. I'll do the dishes tomorrow, unless the Project Fairy* comes and does them for me. Not holding out much hope on that one. It's okay.

But first, I'll kiss those babies!

* The Project Fairy, from the tv show, The PJs - who the super told his wife he thought magically came in and cleaned the apartment each night.

Thursday, October 30

Wow, talk about lazy... and weird.

Not us. We've actually been quite productive. (But there's some swearing in this post, so, you know, brace yourself.) I'm talking about the Sparkle Hands church. I've probably hinted before that it's not going well. Did I write about the seriously boundary-challenged nursery worker (BCNW) physically barring me from EmBaby and telling me to "step out into the hall"? No? That's because I still foam at the mouth just thinking about it.

Basically, Zorak was gone, it had been a rough week, and EmBaby didn't want to go into the nursery. She and I did go into it to use the bathroom there, as that commode is little, and I had Jase, and so, well, that seemed reasonable. On the way out, though, I asked Em if she was sure she didn't want to stay. She said, "No, I just want to stay with you." I told her that was okay, put out my hand for her and we headed for the door.

That's when BCNW physically picked the child up (yes, taking her out of my hand) and told me to step out into the hall. Um... pardon me? Yeah. I reiterated that I was leaving, and taking Em. Badda-boom, badda-bing, I ended up exerting every. ounce. of grace God was willing to spare me not to go all Wild Wild West on this woman and ask her to step outside at High Noon. Give me my child and get out. of. my. way. She did finally put Em down, but she mad-dogged me the entire time.

I wasn't going to say anything, just figured I'd keep Em and Jase with me from now on. Thinking perhaps this is not a good place for us to be, but whatever. UNTIL I found out she'd been talkin' 'bout it around the church. And, of course, her story involved what a helicopter parent I am, and how I'm really-really wrong, and what are they gonna do about me? Ohhhhkay... yeah, not okay with that.

Long story shorter than it could be: the Children's Minister and I have talked, and she's "pretty sure" they could "make an exception to church policy" in allowing a parent to come and get her child "without the church staff insisting otherwise". You know, "just for you". Oh. Policy? You have a policy that mandates church workers interfere with parents like that? Wow. Don't I feel special? But we're going to have to sit down with BCNW to have a mediation, first. (Can you sense the tension? Good.)

So, on to other things, they've been riding these kids hard for two months, now. ("Sharp hands! SHARP HANDS!") Last week, two kids were visiting from out of town and their grandmas brought them to the church on Wednesday night. The kids were told they can't come. (Because they'd be too far behind the rest of the group, and you know it's far more important to have a perfect show than it is to welcome visitors! And since nobody ever shows up anywhere in the Autumn, we wouldn't want to keep a bag of Cheetos and some Bible games on hand. Just in case. Pffttt.)

Zorak mentioned a couple weeks back that he can hear me seething at night, and to be truthful, it's kind of starting to freak him out. What with having to sleep near me, and all. The truth of the matter is, this place has very different goals and priorities than what we are comfortable supporting in a church.

Last night was the last straw.

I sit at the sign-in table, with the Big People. I suspect it's so that they can keep on eye on me and my subversive tendencies, but whatever. The Powers that Be started going through the roster, figuring out who is keeping up the pace and who isn't. There's one little boy who hasn't been there in a month. The Children's Minister says, "Oh, yeah *sad face* I talked to his Mom, and they can't afford the shirt. That's why he hasn't been coming."

*blink* *blink* (I'm waiting for her to say something like, "I told her that's SO not a problem and to bring him back," but that didn't happen.)

Another lady says, "Oh, yeah, they're really struggling. Like, they're living from paycheck to paycheck, and having trouble keeping it together." Minister says, "Awww. That's so rough."

*blink* What the--?? I'm sitting here, watching this bizarre scene from a how-not-to-run-a-church video, waiting for the rest of it... still nothing. I hadn't moved or spoken up because I just couldn't believe that this was happening.

The woman picks up her pen, folks, and starts to CROSS THIS CHILD OFF THE ROSTER! Suddenly, I realize they're going to do it. They're cutting dead weight. They're... what the fuck is WRONG with you people?!?!? You can carry the interest on a million dollar mortgage without batting an eye, but you can't fork up TEN DOLLARS for a child?

I didn't smack the pen out of her hand, but I got very, very close before I could just force my hand down on the paper, instead. (I'm thinkin' an assault charge wouldn't bode well for me at this point in my life.) I'll buy the kid the damned shirt. Put the pen down. NOW.

What do they say? "Oh, but you have five kids!" Um... what, exactly, does that have to do with it? You know what, just... don't talk to me. Don't look at me. Do. Not. Engage. Me.

I can't begin to tell you how absolutely disgusted I am with this place. So, yay for them, they have wireless mikes (what is the abbreviation for microphones? mics?) for all the chosen children, but if you can't hang with the Ralph Lauren crowd, Jesus doesn't love you? I know this isn't in the New Testament anywhere, but I'm pretty sure Jesus has a big ol' bitch-slap waiting for people who behave like this in His name. (He may have one for me, too, for plenty of things I've done in my life. I get that, too.)

"Let the little children come to Me," He said. I know that part's in there.

December 14 is the date of the play. December 15, I'm going to have a Captain Morgan's and Coke to celebrate never having to wade through that place's BS again.

Kiss those babies! Oh, kiss them and love on them with all your heart.

Monday, October 27

Funday Sunday

Heh, you can mock. I couldn't think up a decent title. I'm beat. Happy, but beat. We had such a great time today. Ben and Claudia, et al., came over to carve pumpkins and have supper! I had helpers in the kitchen while we got ready for company...

Once they got here, the kids got to get messy and gross, and they worked quite diligently on their pumpkins...

And in the end, we had a lovely evening by the fire(s)...

Food, friendship, life... it's good.

Kiss those babies!
(P.S. I figured out the watermark feature, but it seems to be a bit of a PITB to use. Bummer.)

Sunday, October 26

Busy, Busy

Has it been four days? Sorry 'bout that. With Zorak out of town, and new schedules all-around, I lost track of time. However, he's back, we're all rested up, and we just had the best Saturday!
James and I headed into town early for his Citizenship badge service project. He picked the project, and put it together on his own - making contacts, getting all the legwork done. It was hideously difficult for me to let go and let him handle it all (and I didn't hit it spot on, at first, but eventually I did my part and got out of his way). He did his part and pulled it off splendidly.
We arrived in time to help unload the truck and set up (this was for Angel Food Ministries). Then we spent the next three hours putting together food boxes and assisting customers with hauling things to their cars. I didn't take any pictures because we were too busy learning the ropes and trying to stay helpful. Well, James stayed helpful. I hung out in my corner, drinking coffee and hauling heavy things when needed. He was the brains of this organization. He just took me along for the muscle and the driver's license.
From there, we headed to the downtown Fall Festival in Decatur. Nothing like sugar, costumes, sugar, music,

and a little more sugar, to make a day fun!

Yes, those are basically Pixie-Sticks, but the tube is the diameter of a Sharpie, and as long as a twirling baton. WEEEE! Interestingly, it was the church we've been attending that had this set-up. I think we may let the kids have their sticks for breakfast before church tomorrow... just as a thank-you to the Children's Minister. ;-) (I jest - she planned for the kids to eat them on the spot and then just ping up and down the street until the effects wore off, I'm sure.)

The weather was gorgeous, just cool enough to necessitate a hat for Jase. You know, those just don't work so well once they've been chewed on for an hour or two. Ew.

Ben and Claudia brought their kids. The sheer mass of children vibrating around created some serious momentum, so we adults just wandered along behind - it was like a cattle drive, but without horses, and it smelled better. Just as noisy. But, oh-so-cute!
Kiss those babies!
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Wednesday, October 22


The "help" was entirely Em's idea. Smidge went along with it. They're pulling vines off one of the persimmon trees down by the barn.

And Em made her own chopsticks to handle the persimmons. I don't know if it's a textural thing and she doesn't like touching them, or if she just thought it seemed like a fun idea to try out. She's pretty good with those chopsticks, though.

Why we do what we do, no?
Kiss those babies!
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Tuesday, October 21

He Has Your Quirks

Ever notice how much time people spend analyzing babies? ~ Oh, he looks just like his Daddy! ~ Aw, she has your thinning hair. ~ He's built just like great-great-granddaddy's side of the family. It's like playing with those build-a-creature books. Remember those? The head of an aligator, torso of a hippo, legs of an emu. You could be the next Andy Warhol, or the next Dr. Moreau. Either way, it's fun.
But what about temperament? Y'all ever parse that one out? Zorak and I do. And not just to blame each other for the more interesting qualities that emerge in the children, either. We're both honest enough to willingly chuckle and say, "Oh, yeah, sorry 'bout that." But it's not really something we give much thought to until it's staring us in the face (or mortifying us in public).
Zorak's gone right now, and I miss him, but the day-to-day is not as challenging as one might think. For when one of us is away, the other one is free to get it done (or blow it off) according to his (or her...) own natural bent. It's not ideal. I'd much rather spend the next eight decades compromising, and for the most part, we do it so well that I forget about some of the differences until he's gone.
So tonight, after an early supper, a quick house tidy, a short movie and/or story, the lights went out with all the children kissed, snuggled, and tucked in, at 8:32. (My i-d-e-a-l evening, lemme tell ya!) I've had time to think back on the kids, who made me laugh a lot today. They are funny, witty, quirky. They could make the Pope think dark thoughts, and they could make Scrooge feel warm and fuzzy and generous. All in one fell swoop.
I can see myself in them, and I can see Zorak in them. Uncle Creighton, Aunt Sally, Granny, some cousin I vaguely remember meeting when I was 12. It all comes together to make distinct, unique, amazing people.
And then, because I had WAY more time on my hands than I normally do, I started wondering about my parents. How did this happen? How did I happen? What will pass through to the kids, and what will get filtered out by more dominant genes?
My mother was a pack rat with the kind of kitchen table that you were welcome to sit at, but there was no guarantee you could set your coffee cup there. Same thing with the counter tops, the washing machine, dressers, shelves. Oh, the woman loved her horizontal surfaces and paper goods. She wrote beautiful letters. Every morning began with a cup of coffee and a letter. She loved to laugh, even at herself. She loved to cook, and by extension to feed people. She didn't have to know who you were, just show up around meal time. Or earlier. Or later. If you left her place hungry, it wasn't going to be her fault.
My father, from what I've heard, was a strict disciplinarian with a firm belief in order, self-discipline, punctuality, (Yeah, I know. If it weren't for the whole genetic combination feature, I would have inquired about the personality of the milk man, just out of curiosity), fortitude and self-reliance. He valued integrity above sentiment, loyalty above whimsy, and honesty above all else. He wasn't so hot with keeping in touch. He was fiercely devoted and doting, but also set the bar pretty high for those around him, as well as for himself.
But what do you get when you cross those two? You get a person who disdains clutter of any form, has no emotional attachments to things that require dusting, yet harbors an utterly irrational fondness for stationery products. Paper, pens, envelopes. And stranger still, can't seem to put a stamp on something and part with it to save my soul.
You get a control freak who wants things done "Just So", yet wings it, herself, every time. There is no recipe I cannot alter, no process I cannot botch, no system I cannot over-analyze. But if I'm going to make it up, then I'm going to make it up "my way".
You get a scheduling list-maker who was late to her own wedding. (HOW does that happen?)
You get someone who is totally, utterly, completely loyal and devoted, who loves wholeheartedly. But more directly, you get someone who gets that to put up with me can be a challenge that deserves rewarding. And then some, I'm sure. My parents seemed so normal. I guess you just never know what you'll get.
So while it's nice to have things all Spartany and done once in a while, I much prefer the compromise. I hope the kids got a good lot of Zorak to carry them through. A little quiet humor to counteract the hypertension, a little easygoing sway to balance out the rigid spontaneity (in itself, an enigma), a touch of gentleness to overlook the control issues.
The double dose of fortitude, loyalty, love, and integrity won't hurt. But when it comes to organization, punctuality, or attention to detail, well, they'd best hope they marry into those qualities. 'Cuz they just didn't get those genes from us.
Kiss those babies!~Dy

Sunday, October 19

Autumn Joy

We're breaking out the flannel sheets! That means the temps will probably be back in the high 80's at night sometime in the next two weeks! heh. I hadn't even thought of it, until James asked tonight if we could turn up the heater, and I realized we don't have the heat on. Uh, come to think of it, why don't you try wearing warmer jammies? Oh, and hey - warmer bedding! Ta-da! We don't need to turn on the heat yet, at all.

Zorak took all the kids to work on the barn and lower meadow Saturday, leaving me in relative peace and quiet (so there were no witnesses, should the whole experiment go horribly awry) to put up four jars of persimmon jelly and eleven jars of pear jelly. They haven't set yet, and that's okay. The pathetic level of enthusiasm I garnered just hearing the little "pop" of the jars as they sealed, one by one... that was worth it, right there. (I was somewhat certain the whole canning thing may be the homemaker's parallel to snipe hunting.)

Me-Wa is back! He'd been gone the last four months. Long months, for the kids. (Probably a lot longer for Me-Tae!) And today we were able to head up that way to visit. It was good to see him, great to visit. We got to meet the newest member of their clan, little Katie (a golden lab - oh, so cute!) The older dogs are not so fond of her, but she's sweet enough that I'm sure she'll grow on them.

There's a little boy who lives just up the road from them who comes over to visit - he's a sweetie. They play outside, go in to play pool, and migrate to the computer after a while. He hit me today with a doozie out of nowhere, though, and I had to laugh at how it all turned out.

Boy: You still homeschoolin' them?

Me: Yes, we are.

Boy: What's wrong with y-- uh, I mean, why don't you just send 'em to school?

Me: *aherm* WELL, we like the education we can give them at home.

Boy: Hmpf. Well, they're lucky, then.

He left it at that, and we moved on to an in-depth discussion of Dodgeball. I'm not entirely sure what the converation meant from his perspective, but it made me chuckle.

There's an awful lot going on right now, not the least of which is that I can't seem to carve out time during the week to be left alone for fifteen minutes or so. Long enough to compose my thoughts, find something humorous in it, and write it up. I've been able to compose my thoughts, but I could sure use a few more minutes to find the humor before having to move on to the next thing. Hopefully, a little more rest, and a better schedule will help. I'm going to give that a shot this week and see how it goes. The kids deserve a Mom who can find humor in the daily things. I'm sure Zorak prefers that, too, over the rather irritable alternative he's been presented with lately. So. Yeah, gotta work on that.

And in that vein, I think I'm going to sweep up a bit, lay out tomorrow's plan, and try to hit the hay before eleven! (Livin' large, no?)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, October 16

Playing With Pictures

The barn is fun to photograph. Plus, I have a thing for Autumn afternoon light. It's the best light in the world, I think. Makes me all warm and fuzzy. Gives everything a happy glow. It just whispers, "You made it through summer. Yay you."
One of these pictures has been sharpened, and the other had the "film grain" filter applied to it. I haven't had enough coffee, yet, to see a difference. May be the subject matter, though. Can you see a difference?
Also, can you see the watermark? Picasa added that feature in the last upgrade, and I've been wanting to try it out. Not because I think my pictures are just so awesome that everyone will want to steal them and enter them in their county fairs as their own (although the thought makes me chuckle - wouldn't that be a silly thing to do?) Just because I think it's neat. And it's a nice additional protector against people who steal pictures of children and claim that those are their own. (Did you know people do that? How weird. Get your own kids. Or send money to help feed these.)
Kiss those babies!
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So, so true...

Gianormous Spiders - Nature’s Reminder That You Are, In Fact, A Little Girl Demotivational Poster

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, October 14

Fall Fun

Smidge took that picture. The SmidgeCam has come a long way in three years. I love digital cameras - the kids can take pictures til their eyes bleed, and we don't have to pay to develop the nostril shots. But we can enjoy the gems that come with progress, and with seeing the world through their perspectives.
Just as Smidge had his pear tree, John had his apple tree. He picked the first apple of the season (not counting the ones we picked and cut open to see if they were ripe yet...)
And we began collecting apples. (And a stray pear.) Man, that tree will be a lot easier to harvest from when we're done pruning it properly! (We have to move slowly so the tree doesn't succumb to Fire Blight while we restore it.) However, the metal bucket is about half-full now with fresh apples, and they will become, hopefully, (magically...) apple pie filling this weekend!

Kiss those babies!


Well, Ernie and KathyJo swear it's a mushroom. I'm inclined to think Josh is on to something, personally. Either way, I figure if we lock the doors and clean the air filters, we should have all our bases covered. Thanks for playing, guys!

Today we began week 10 of the school year. Ten-ish, anyway. Of the previous nine weeks, we've taken three off. That sounds so bad. I can hear NEA members puckering in their seats from here. And yet, the boys have worked up to the nine-week point in a couple of subjects, and worked beyond the nine-week point in all the rest. Heh. Yeah. I love this lifestyle.

So this morning, we sat on the balcony, re-working our plans that will take us through Christmas break. The boys opted to adjust some of their goals to reflect the progress they've made. We sorted, sifted, printed, and planned. Then they got to work. I got sucked into the Tanglewood site. *sigh* There ought to be something I could take for that. Really.

We're off to the library, where we won't find anything and I will return with a bigger Amazon list. (It is SO easy to justify book purchases when you know you'll use each book through five children. So, so easy. I'm going to owe Zorak big-time for this.) But it'll be nice to hit the library again. And, they've fired the wacky library lady and replaced her with someone from an organization we refer to as "The Northern Alabama Branch of the Illuminati" - so I want to be sure to stay on top of the library sale, as they'll be culling all the good books soon, and I don't want to miss out on those buys!

Kiss those babies!

Oh, help.





Zorak found these near the cedar tree the other day, while we were picking apples. I'd gladly post the apple picking pictures, but we really want to know what these are. I don't even know how to begin Googling this...
The closed pods are bigger than a golf ball, slightly smaller than a tennis ball. The opened (exploded? bloomed? erupted?) pods are about 4 1/2" across.
I have no idea if they smell.
And, as with the other weird-ass things we find around here, no, I did not touch it.
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Sunday, October 12

The Magnificent Mere! (More Photos)

OK, so here we have The Mamas, hanging out and watching over the masses. My utilitarian, yet utterly futile, attempt at keeping my hair from the Wee One's clutches is painfully evident in this shot (thanks for the heads up on that, Honey...) But look at Mere - so poised, so pretty, so in shape - and that necklace? She made it. Herself. With fire. She rocks.
AND, she made this little gem of a dress, which I've had a hard time getting off EmBaby long enough to wash. (Bless you, Mere, for making it machine washable!) Oh, yeah, and Em does have different shoes, but, well, where there are goats, there is goat poop. Sandals, not such a good idea. Once again, function wins out over form in our little clan.

But oh, that dress! I believe the fabric on the bodice, or actually, all the non-solid fabric - with all the swirly, lovely, flowery designs on it, came from our Donna (Quiet Life Donna - Donna of the psychotically photogenic children and the sweet wit). And that plum color - it's a perfect match. It swirls, it spins, it feels good to the touch. It fits perfectly. *sigh*

(And at this point, I just stand in awe, and feel kinda cool by association. Yup, I know incredibly talented people. That doesn't make me talented in any way, but it does mean I have really neat friends.) Thank you, Mere!
Kiss those babies!
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Friday, October 10

Trip Pics, Part A

Of the 284 pictures we took, a surprising number were somewhat blurry and/or grainy. That bums me out, but I'm not terribly surprised. There's a lot of edible sticky stuff crammed into the nooks and crannies and moveable bits of the camera. Add in the lightning speed with which children change positions, and I'm pretty much hosed on photographing this trip. So, please forgive the grains and blurs, but here you go.

This is SJ and EmBaby. Birthday buddies with uncanny similarities in mannerisms and habits. They saw an airplane...

And then they both - without even looking at each other - stuck their arms out and shouted, "Airplane!" (Complete with sound effects.) It was pretty funny to watch.

We kinda-sorta semi-managed to get the kids all rounded up to where they'd fit in a frame. The tree helped. SJ and Em both decided to cry the minute we started to take the group photos. Em's not in this one because she'd already given up and was somewhere behind me, snuffling.

We did manage to get a few shots on the sly, though, when she wasn't looking...

And SJ was sweetly compliant for an individual shot. Oh, so much Cute! It was hard to leave.
Kiss those babies!

Thursday, October 9

We're Back!

We meant to be back days ago. This is what happens when procrastinators marry.

Melissa got it right - we got to see Mere, from The Ugly Trunk. The trunk is so cute in real life, but it's abso-stinkin-lutely nothing compared to her kids! And seeing all eight of them running around, playing Legos, playing chess, playing some random ball-kicking game - oh, that was almost too much cute for me to handle. The kids could be cousins, they have so many of the same mannerisms. Mere is, of course, elegant and sweet and fun. And oh, so patient. And her husband, bless him, was such a trooper in letting the whole horde descend upon his house with all of our lateness and loudness and messiness.

We also got to have lunch with Rebel, of The Looney Bin, while we were out there. She is so sweet and so gracious, and knows all the totally rockin' joints to eat at in her neck of the woods!

Granny came and met us in Waco, so we had two wonderful days with her. Then she drove with us to see Great-Granny (or, Granny the Younger, as she's a mere 94 years young - longevity seems to run in Zorak's blood), and Aunt Veda. It was fun, fun, fun. John contemplated smuggling a goat back with him. Thankfully, he had only his backpack and there was no way he could have hidden the whole goat in there.

From there, it was off to Arkansas, where we rounded off the trip with more cousins. Would you believe we were thisclose to New Mexico and I had to go all the way back to Arkansas to get chile rellenos? Oh, they were good. I'll be stuffed for another week, at least. This was the first time we've had to really spend any time with these cousins, and it was such a treat for us. They opened their home so warmly, and the kids were completely taken up with their lifestyle, even down to getting up early to work with the animals. (We emptied the van tonight when we got home and didn't find any puppies, kittens or chickens, so I think we're good.)

The children have named every animal they've come in contact with this week. And now I think they're totally on board with some of our more Out There projects, which is good, because I'm still mildly terrified of birds, so they'll need to be pretty involved.

It was a fantastic trip, but we're glad to be home. Jase didn't sleep the last four nights of the trip - which means I didn't sleep, either. And so, I'm going to finish this cup of coffee and see about rectifying that. I'll upload pictures tomorrow, while we recuperate.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, October 2

Wanna Play?

We get to go play! Can you guess who we'll be playing with? I'll give you some hints...

Adorable children.

Cool parents.

WAY more creative than I could ever hope to be.

Probably WAY more interesting than I am, too. (They're so gettin' the short end of this stick - but I'm excited!)

Hmmm... ok, I'm going to finish packing and cleaning while I think up better hints.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, October 1

Thoughts on Education

(I had a couple of things written out. But Zorak just made me laugh, and I forgot most of it. You get what's left. Sorry.)

...What I find even more fascinating is how our own definitions and goals change as the children grow and change. Education, or rather, the pursuit of education, is a dynamic enterprise that extends beyond the entries on a sheet of paper. Do we want them to know basic arithmetic? Of course. Do we want them to understand basic physical properties and laws of nature? Naturally. Do we want them to take an active part in their literary heritage (...and I think I just lost Zorak...)? OK, to at least catch references and nods to great stories in their reading? Yeah, I do.

Is that the sum of our goals for the children?

Not by a long shot.

And tonight, while Zorak tried valiantly to give me the indoc primer on RF attenuation (yeah, I know...) I managed to put my finger on a goal that's been there from the very start, although not always articulated this way. (I also put my finger on an Arby's coupon. I love Arby's.)

In some ways, I hope the boys receive a Jack-of-all-Trades education. I hope they know enough about a variety of topics to feel comfortable in any venue, to understand how much there is still to learn, and to have the ability and interest to articulate a desire to listen and learn.

...and, yeah, that's good for tonight. Listen. Learn. Want to. (Sometimes we have to work on that last one. heh.)

Kiss those babies!