Tuesday, December 30

Life With Kids

I kept finding the magnetic letters all over the floor in the kitchen. There were bits of ripped up foam packing there, too. So I'd put all the letters back on the fridge and the packing in the recycle bin. Next time I went it, it had happened again. What in the world is this?

Then I saw it, and realized what was going on.

EmBaby was putting her babies to bed. Albeit in the kitchen, yes. But she'd lovingly lay each letter down, and tuck it in beneath a bit of foam packing, tucked just under what would probably be their little chins.

Now that I know what it is, it's cute. Before it was just annoying. Funny how perspective changes things, no?

Kiss those babies!

Monday, December 29


It's nearly next year! My Event Smidge broke. It's buried somewhere beneath the Playmobil and the bean bag, neither of which I've been able to extricate him from for the last few days. So that means that at the end of the day, when I look quite bleary-eyed at the computer and think, "Ah, I can blog tomorrow," it means I have no. clue. how long it's been since I blogged. (Ya think?)

Oh, I do hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Or Solstice. Or Hannukah. I think we've even blown off Learn a Foreign Language Month since the last time y'all heard from me. Yeesh. But ya know what I've been doing?

Eating leftovers. (Leftover sirloin and roast asparagus beats the snot out of leftover turkey, I don't care who you are!)

Stealing bean bags from small children. (When Granny ok'd the buying of the bean bags as her gift, I SO should've angled to get me one, too. Do you remember how much fun they were when you were a kid? They're just as good when you're a grown-up, too! Zorak and I dragged them into the playroom to watch a movie, just the two of us, the other night. Totally fantastic gift, if you're looking for something to give.) Me-Tae figured out that if you stack two of them, you have a decent fascimile of a reclining lounger. Emily has napped in her bean bag every day since Christmas. It's the cutest stinkin' thing I've seen since... well, there's just an enormous amount of cute to trip on, around here.

Eyeballing the tree. And, for the first time in over a decade of Holiday Festivity Negotiations, I do believe I beat Zorak to the "let's take the tree down now" speech. Yeah, he couldn't believe it, either. But then, it went up before Christmas Eve. There was no harrowing search for a tree, no coughing up money better spent on chocolate, no delightful Festivus-style Airing of Grievances over decorating, and so... I'm sated. Content. Got my fill, and am ready to put my bookshelf back by the couch, where it belongs, thanks.

Then there's the cleaning. But that's not pleasant to discuss. And it never lasts long enough for me to provide tangible proof. But we had company on Christmas, and then again the day after, and then we're going away for a bit. So. You know, that's more cleaning than any one person should reasonably do. Ever. And that's all I'm going to say on that topic.

And right now, that's all I'm going to say, in general. Not because I don't care, but because it's cold, and Zorak just got the fire going, and it's warmer over there. So. See you tomorrow!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, December 21

How Many Days?

This is the year Smidge has discovered the concept of time, in a linear manner. He counts down to one event, then immediately calculates the number of days until the next event. You'd think this would be helpful, somehow, right? I mean, he's been counting down Halloween, Thanksgiving, AND Christmas since his birthday in September. At least he's got place value down pat, now. But no. I'm still waiting, puckered up by the front door, for three more boxes to be delivered tomorrow. Next year, forget using Outlook or a Dayplanner, I'm going to make better use of my Event Smidge.

I've been busy dating this week, so I haven't had time to write. Just night out on the town after night out on the town. But let me tell you, ladies, there are some good men out there.

Thursday night, we spent fifteen minutes or so gleefully sniffing candle scents at Hobby Lobby, after oogling bead displays and sparkly paints and picking out the Perfect Wrapping Paper. Then we kicked back at Starbuck's for iced coffees and cheese danishes while we laughed and joked and had a fantastic time. Didn't find a thing we were looking for, but that didn't dampen the evening at all.

Friday night, I had a date with another admirer. We went a bit more casual, going the gaming route, and buying bedding and Santa gifts. We supped at Taco Bell, which doesn't sound like much, until I mention that when I said it was a bit chilly in the restaurant, my date immediately whipped his coat around and offered it to me. *swoon*

Both men held the door open for me (and the next twenty ladies behind us), both held my hand and made me laugh, and were just such perfect gentlemen. Ah. Yes. Good stuff, that.

Of course, it'll be another six years before either of them can drive... there's that. ;-) And although there's nothing wrong with shorter men, I do think they'll benefit from a few more years' growth.

Yep, I got to spend some one-on-one with the two eldest children, and it was really fantastic. We've all decided to make this part of our traditions - and, since it gets Zorak off the hook of having to do the Christmas Thing, in public market places, listening to Christmas Muzak, he thinks it's an incredibly wonderful idea, too.

Tomorrow, I get to spend the evening with Smidge. We have just a few goodies to pick up, but he's waited so patiently that we could be buying toilet paper and he wouldn't mind. He's also hinted that he'd like to hit McDonald's for a shake. Should be a fun evening, indeed!

Traditions have to start somewhere, right? What traditions do you enjoy with your family?

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, December 16

Pack Christmas Party

Oh, we had SUCH a great time. I think we're finding our spot. I also think the leadership is finding a good vision for the pack. It's all gelling into a pretty good experience. The majority of the party looked like this:

A little blurry. Very loud (can you hear it?) This is an animated, balloon-popping, carol-singing bunch we have, here.

They did awards. The little Tiger Cubs just made me want to scoop them all up and bring them home. But I'm not sure where we'd put five more children all in one fell swoop. And there's that pesky "parent" issue. Yeah, their parents might mind. So I just oooh'd and ahhh'd over the Totally Adorable little Tiger Cubs.

The boys worked their tushes off the past couple of months, and tonight their efforts were recognized. John's Cubmaster just gave him a bag to hold and dropped each item into the bag as he called it off. John was a bit dazed. I don't think he realized how many beltloops and beads and pins he'd earned. He's still in the hey-this-is-fun stage, not so much on the record keeping or goal setting part, yet. But he's been busy!

And I really wish I'd taken more pictures of John, because he was just *beaming* by the time he was done. But the batteries on the camera died about the third shot. So you get Bewildered John, the Bear.

James had a similar experience, and he was absolutely vibrating with excitement. But he *knew* how much he'd done, and he had painstakingly recorded every detail, every project, every experiment. He's written more reports, fixed up more displays, and made more contacts than I think he knew he was capable of. So this was pretty exciting for him.

Topping it all off, James earned his Webelos Badge. We didn't realize it was such a big ceremony thing. OR that we'd have to go up there. But one of the other moms kindly took the camera and snapped a few shots for us. As you can see, they ALL came up. John, Smidge and Em were pretty proud of James. That was just as good as the badges, themselves. Moreso, actually, for this Mama. And James was glad to have them up there, with him, whispering, "Ohhhh, COOL!" and "WOW!" - all of which must be sibling-speak for, "Way to go, brother. You've done a fine job."

Kiss those babies!


Why are there more pictures of the babies than of anybody else?

Because you can stick the babies in a box under the tree and snap 200 pictures in less time and with less effort than it takes to find the right settings and capture one shot of the mobile ones as they dash from here to there.

And if you whistle and sing and make faces at the older ones, you don't get quite the same expression you do with the babies.

I'm convinced that's the reason. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, December 14

The Play

It was a long, long, LONG day. We arrived at 9:30 for rehearsals (which they didn't have - they just put all the kids in Sunday School), stayed through most of the service (lovely musical service), and then slipped out early to feed the kids (they gave everyone an hour to eat, but we ate at the buffet and that takes us two hours to really do it right, and the only other food the children would be offered between noon and eight PM was going to be hot dogs, so we intended to do it right).

In retrospect, this may have really angered The Powers That Be, as not one person was so much as *civil* to me when I came to help serve supper - a task I'd been asked to do earlier in the month. Whatever. It was worth it. The boys made it through pretty well, and Smidge really enjoyed his lunch...

The boys all did a fantastic job. We can't believe Smidge hung in there. I fully expected him to burst into tears and just sit down at some point. (They'd scheduled in a "nap time" - I think, actually, it may have been an awkward attempt to placate me after I'd expressed dissatisfaction with the schedule of keeping the kids at the church for the entire day, without the option for the little ones to rest before the busy evening. Anyway, then they were surprised that nobody napped. Der. Talk about a monumentally bad idea!) But, he didn't fall over. He didn't cry. He really hung in there, and he is so proud of himself, too.

James and John nailed their parts. They were clear, strong, and obviously enjoyed the whole thing.

EmBaby danced, made up her own hand movements, and kept Me-Tae apprised of every step. "We are going to sing another song! We are going to see a movie!" (One of the songs had a video accompaniment.)

Jason didn't fuss a bit. He was his typical happy, complacent little self. Can't ask for a better evening than that!

And just for fun, to round out the photos, Smidge and Em were so happy to see each other again at the end of the day!

Oh, I love those babies! And we're so glad we stuck it out for them. They will enjoy these memories for a long time. Good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, December 13

They're Going Out!

OK, no pictures. No cute, funny year-end letter. Just a card. And a personalized note. And the knowledge that I love you enough to just get it in the mail, already.

Aunt Jo Ann sent me an address book. What a cool idea, and yes, I needed one! Just one of those things I kept putting off - I have no idea why. So, I broke out my little box of envelope corners and bits of paper, and transferred everything into the book. I feel so grown up. *snort*

However, my stellar bits-and-corners method of keeping track of mailing addresses has proven to be somewhat lacking (to say the least), and so, if I *should* have your address (meaning, if I've ever had it before, but you haven't heard from me... or if you've moved since last I feasibly had it) it's safe to assume I haven't still got it, and would really like to include you in my New, Grown Up Method of Keeping Track of People I Care About. So, um drop me an email.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, December 12

Hey, where'd the picture go?

I haven't messed with the template at all, but just noticed now that the barn picture in the header is gone. Poof. I hate to ask this, but has it been gone long?


I wonder where it went...

Nevermind. It's back now.
Kiss those babies~

Thursday, December 11

Flooded In.

Normally, our little "creek" looks something like this:

It's deepest pool is just the right size for Em to wade in, up to her hips, and that's after a nice rain. Really, it's idyllic.

This morning, however, that spot where John and Em are, in the above picture, looked like this:

The water was a good six feet higher than usual. I couldn't get over to the other side to take a picture from the same angle, but the big tree behind John, in the first shot, can be seen just to the right of center in this picture - taken as if you stood behind him to get the shot. That water spans 50 feet between the bank of the creek and where I stood to take this shot:

(It's blurry because it was cold and rainy. It's safe to say I'd never make it as a National Geographic photographer...)

And the drive, itself, was amazing...

You know, from inside the cab of the truck. But the deepest point in that overflow atop the drive was probably almost two feet deep - a pool filled with slick clay, and water rushing headlong over the top. Nah. That stuff was really moving fast, too.

Needless to say, we found plenty to occupy our time inside today.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, December 10


We've all been sick. Yes, in the last 48 hours, we've fallen like clumsy gator wrestlers, into the muck.

Zorak went down sometime during the night on Sunday. He could not move come Monday morning. Slept it off and was functional by Monday night.

Which is good, because the kids dropped, one-by-one, all day long. And that evening, I fell prey.

Yesterday, I was done for. Useless. We ate cookies for breakfast, and watched cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix. The big boys picked up the slack so nicely, refreshing the cookie stash and changing diapers while I laid on the futon chair, rocking back and forth and begging for mentholatum and tissues. Chills, aches, drainage, stuffiness - like being beaten with the soap-filled sock of the Common Cold.

It was all I could do to get some laundry done and tidy the house by afternoon, but supper wasn't happening. So Zorak brought home a delicious roasted chicken from Sam's Club. And clementines. And a pineapple. He *hearts* us.

Everybody out cold by ten. Even our late reader didn't last beyond that.

And yet, the boys managed to get the tree up and lights on it. It's lovely. The boys strung the lights (yes, it's pre-lit, but you can just never have enough lights) and they did a spectacular job.

Em hung a couple of sparkly ornaments before moving on to stashing sparkly ornaments around the house. The bell wreath for the front door is stacked atop the advent wreath on the dining table. Best of all, all the loud, annoying Christmas decorations (singing Pinocchio, for example) live in the playroom this year. How cool is that?

Time to dope up on Vitamin C and guaifenesin and brace myself to face the day!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, December 8

Where have we been?

We've been enjoying the Advent season! The boys rode in the Awesome Local Parade on Saturday. They had a blast. Smidge got to ride in the float with the bigs, and they even had an extra marshmallow-on-a-stick for him to hold, too.

Sixteen boys on a trailer with pointy sticks and nowhere to run. If I were a betting woman, I'd have laid heavy odds that someone would have lost a marshmallow. Or a stick. Or an eye. Fantastically, if I were a betting woman, I'd be broke, now. The kids were great.

Zorak, the littles and I scored a ride in the back of the truck pulling the float, and I only got beaned in the head by one piece of candy, followed by a quick, John Candy-esque, "D'oh! Sorry!" hollered from somewhere on the float.

I made chocolate chocolate chip mini muffins and mixed up a big jug of hot chocolate for all the boys. Wasn't sure if that would peg me as a total dork, or a cool mom, but the kids and adults all seemed to enjoy it, so that was nice. The weather was much better than we'd anticipated, although Jase and Em were not as impressed as Zorak and I...

The playroom is nearly complete. Zorak laid the carpet Thursday night, and we've put it all together over the weekend. It lacks baseboard (naturally), but it's functional and the kids love it. I was so proud of us, until...

I realized we'd neglected (OK, *I* had neglected) to account for the two large bookshelves (and all their books) that would now be homeless. ACK! So we spent all evening Saturday and all day Sunday sorting, culling, shifting, and reorganizing the bookshelves all over the house. Some of you will get this -- you cannot simply take those two shelves and move them, with the same contents, to another place in the house. That messes with the flow. Those books went there for a Very Specific Reason, and they cannot live elsewhere for No Specific Reason.


We ended up moving and sorting five bookcases (six? I can't remember) to accomodate the shift of two bookcases. And I carved out a spot for the tree, while we were at it (gotta harness that manic energy and use it for good, once in a while!) The house still looks vaguely like someone ransacked a used book store, but it's significantly better than before. The boys helped. They slept like the dead as soon as their heads hit the pillows, too. Not sure who will be more thrilled to have this project end, Zorak or the boys. It's safe to say this will be a jolly household, indeed, by the end of the week. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, December 5

...As opposed to "our" town.

We suspected we'd moved into a not-so-great town when we started hearing it linked with high meth rates fairly regularly. Since then, our suspicions have been confirmed more than once - from the cut-down 2 liter soda bottle of gasoline left down by the barn by a string of vehicles that tore out of here when Baltoid heard them (???) to the threatening, name-calling letters sent by the mayor trying to intimidate (or shame) people into agreeing to his town expansion plan. Mailbox baseball isn't indicative of a "bad area", nor were we surprised when most of our campaign signs were stolen during the election. But the most recent display seems a bit off, unless it was done by a 30-year-old lefty on a bicycle.

Somebody had to have come down *into* our drive to bash it in the way they did. It's on the side of the mailbox opposite oncoming traffic, so it wasn't just some kids driving down the road, smacking boxes. And the dent indicates the blow came from behind the box, further up the driveway. Gah. Lovely, people. Absolutely lovely. I am ready to install a camera and surveillance.

Thursday, December 4

Well, that didn't work.

I'd written two separate posts, intending to use the auto-post feature for one to show up later. Since it's sitting there, you can tell I botched it. However, the first post is this one.

We had the most AMAZING experience today, in a neat little town.

Arab, AL (It's pronounced /AY-rab/, too - not /air-ub/. I thought, when we first got here, that it was an accent thing, but it's not.)

We wanted to check out Warehouse Discount Groceries to see if we could garner savings there worth adding the drive to our regular monthly trip. The prices weren't that great - higher, actually, than a few of our regulars (The Pig, Foodland, Aldi) - however, the service was TO DIE FOR. Everybody there was helpful, friendly, gracious. EVERYBODY. Even the customers were nice. The building is older, but the store is delightfully clean. The produce is good. They have large canned foods! We plan to go back.

Since they didn't have a few things we needed, we stopped at the Supercenter Wal-Mart there in Arab. Ooh, my. It was like shopping at Wal-Mart back when Sam Walton was still alive! I was stunned when we asked one employee if they had any little girl gloves in stock and she helped us find them! And when another employee overheard me telling the boys that I'd like to see if they had turtlenecks in the boys' section, and she volunteered that she didn't get any in this season... wow. Most of the time, they'll just let you hunt until your shoulders hunch over and one eye swells up.

You could have absolutely knocked me over with a whisper, though, when that same lady tracked us down in the diapers section, holding several turtleneck sweaters in different colors, to tell me that she did have some in the girls' section, but, as I could see, they weren't feminine-looking, and would that possibly work for me? I hope I didn't seem rude, as it took me a while to answer her while my brain ran through the possibilities -- 1) maybe she doesn't actually work here, she's just bored, or lonely, 2) she's a stalker, 3) it's part of a huge plan to coax me into feeling comfortable so someone else can hoark my wallet -- But NO, no. It was all legit.

We were asked more times than I can count if we were finding everything okay, if we needed any help, and if there was anything they could do for us.

The people shopping there were so nice and gentle. It was fantastic. I felt like those kids in Disney commercials look. Just all wide-eyed and grinning.

And when it was time to go, there was NO waiting in the checkout aisles.

The lady who worked at the register we ended up in was nice. And she smiled at us. Do you know how long it's been since anyone employed by Wal-Mart has voluntarily smiled at us? I had to tell her what a truly delightful experience shopping there had been that day. And I told the lady at the door, and the manager. And I'm about to write to corporate and tell them that whatever the folks in Arab have going on, everybody should get them some!

As much as we love our little piece of earth, I found myself today wondering what houses in Arab are going for...

Mid-Week *whew*

Went to the dentist. But we don't want to talk about that.
Went to play rehearsal. But I'd rather talk about the dentist visit than that.
On the Kid Front, which is way more fun to talk about (for me, at least), we've had a good week.

James cracks me up. We stopped at Home Depot tonight to price carpet for the playroom. He pointed at the (evidently broken) inflatable santa snowglobe display, with it's three pieces of "snow" floating around in the window, and said, "Look! It's regionally accurate! It gets as much snow as we do!"

John has kept us in wood all week. He's been splitting, hauling, and stacking like a pro. I forget that this isn't a standard chore for an 8-year-old, until Erin says, "He what? That's a fully grown man's job!" Yeah, it is, but he's really good at it. I'm thinkin' he needs some marshmallows in his hot chocolate tomorrow.

Smidge has taken to wearing overalls. He's feeling mighty big, that one is. But then, he got teary-eyed after he showed me that he didn't need my help with the clasps. Turned out, he's not quite ready to not need Mom's help just yet. So we hit a compromise -- he can keep learning to do new things, and I'll still be right here to help anytime, "just because". That seemed to do the trick.

EmBaby is 3 for 3 now, on relocating to our bed sometime in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if Jase wakes her, or if she just decided she likes our flannel sheets better than hers. Or perhaps she just isn't up for the long trek back down the hall after she hits the bathroom? Either way, we're good with it. It won't be long before she stops coming in except to tell us she's hungry, or there's a snake in the fridge, or something far less pleasant than the warm, sleepy presence of a Little One snuggling in with us in the wee hours of the morning.

Jase found a forward gear. He also found the cake pans. And the trash can. And the broiler drawer. YIKES! Nothing. Is. Safe. But oh, he is so excited to be able to go where he wants. He'll start to fuss, and then you can see it dawn on him, "Hey, I don't need you coolies! I can get there, myself!" And he's off.

Our low tonight isn't much lower than our high for tomorrow. And then it's going down, down, down from there! Tomorrow is grocery day. I do believe we'll set out early for groceries, and do lessons in the afternoon. Yep. With marshmallows. Good stuff.

Heh. I love this time of year.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, December 2

Thanksgiving Pictures

John learned how to make carved flowers. I didn't get a picture of the end result because, well, because I have five children and some of them were puking and somehow, "grab the camera!" just doesn't spring to mind in that situation. However, the lure of carving was enough to drag him off the couch. You can tell he doesn't feel well, but he's also content.

Jase learned to crawl. Whether it was an attempt to keep up or get away, we aren't sure. He had a really great time, though. (That's a cousin Em's age who's "helping" him along. Or thwarting his escape...)

James is still working on perfecting The Ultimate Camera Smile...

Cousin Veronica VERY graciously allowed her stash of non-shattering ornaments to be used by all. I'm thinking we'll need to get a box of these this year, because I just don't think it'll go so well with Grandma's glass ornaments...

We pulled up to find the porch lit with luminarias. It was a warm fuzzy. It's nice to have family out here that loves the traditions from back there like we do. (I also love that these are electric. Adobe isn't such a fire hazard, but out here, where everything's made of wood, it's nice to avoid open flames whenever possible.)

Kiss those babies!