Friday, February 29

Feeling a Little Pouty

It's an odd sensation to be able to acknowledge that your feelings aren't rational or based on reality, and give them room to just float to the surface so you can deal with them and move on. This is funny, because... well, because I am feeling a little pouty, and because I know it's infantile.

But you know what? My ankles are bigger around than my calves right now (and I am not a "petite" woman with slender calves, to begin with), and gosh-darn-it, while I'm okay with embracing the fact that this is a different season of life than we were in nine and a half years ago and we're in a different place, and none of it is bad...

I'm feeling a wee bit neglected in the "expectant mother" category this time around. I can't get a foot rub, or a back rub, or even a sympathetic place to elevate my legs and moan quietly. And to be honest, the pampering from Zorak that I've always received while I was pregnant, well, it kind of made pregnancy a bit more enjoyable for me. Probably made it a bit more work for him, too, which is why I understand that my feeling neglected is infantile. Let's face it...

The man is up and out the door before the sun each morning. He's not a morning person. He does not do this for the fun of it. He does it because he has integrity and does the job he was hired to do. He does it because he loves us and by doing this, he is able to provide this wonderful home and life that we live. If it were solely up to him (and if we would not suffer for it), he would sleep til' noon and work on something interesting after his mid-day coffee. But because we would probably not fare well on that plan, he does the Long Haul thing, instead. How can I possibly complain about that? I can't.

He has a *lot* on his plate. Not only does he drive nearly an hour each way for work, he works a nine-hour day, and then comes home and works-works-works some more. Whether it's on the property, or the vehicles, or on projects with the boys, there is always something to demand his time and attention. Sometimes he is still hard at it well past midnight. There's no burning the midnight oil, because the lamp gives out before he does. Thank God for drop lights. Again, can't really look at that and throw a little fit, now, can I? Nope.

He does not ask much of me, really. School the children well. Love them and keep them safe and healthy. Keep the house running smoothly. Run the kitchen in a manner that won't actually poison anyone directly. Continue to love him and support him and let him know I'm on his team. There's not a hint of the whole "Sleeping With the Enemy" issue anywhere in the man's psyche. (For the record, the spices are organized the way they are because *I* have issues, not him.) ;-) And he doesn't come in and mess them up, either! Do I have it good, or what? I do. I know.

Two, three, four pregnancies ago, we didn't have so much on our plates. We didn't have a home to refinish, or a barn, or a garden or land. We didn't have plans-in-action yet, or large equipment rentals and drainage to contend with. Come the end of the day, we were both just kind-of tired, not I'm-just-going-to-die-here-on-the-couch exhausted.

We also had cable. I imagine being able to watch History of the Gun and Mail Call helps take your mind off the fact that the woman beached on the couch beside you has just stuck her garish feet in your face and started whimpering like a beaten kitten. Yeah, I get that.

So, I'm good with our quality time being spent on box blades and harley rakes (both of which he has explained to me, and I get! Yay!) But I think I'm going to have to go draw a hot bath and prop my feet up and sing along with Raffi to "Baby Beluga" while I pantomime the song with my feet. Pampering yourself still totally counts as pampering. And it won't put more pressure on him right now, either. And come morning, when the swelling has subsided a bit, so will my little whine-and-cheese party.

After all, it's all good. And for a good cause. And in the big picture, this. is. nothing.

Only three and a half weeks to go!
Kiss those babies!

My Turn!

Mmm, Smidge woke me this morning.

- Where's my new school book?

- Mrph.

- Where?

- Urf, mumble, mumble. Banana?

- Noooo, not the bananas, my new school book.

(He was going to force me to open one eye, I could tell. And I did not want to because it was still dark out, and who in the world does school when it's dark out, except for people who live in the Arctic?)

I tried to nudge Zorak, but nearly fell off the bed. He wasn't there. That's when I glanced at the clock, thinking certainly he'd only just got up (and also hoping perhaps he could talk Smidge into a banana and give me a few more minutes of sleep).

- Honey, it's only... oh... is it really 8:30?!?!

(I did a double take out the window - it really is dark and grey and overcast - so in defense of my subconscious, it looks like it's maybe six, at the latest.)

Well where have I been for the last three hours? And where is everyone else? (Zorak, obviously, at work. The kids, still asleep. But Smidge had held out as long as he could. He was just too excited to try out a new book we'd bought for him to play with while the other boys did school.) It was nice, though, to have a turn to sleep in. I've been alternately staving off and succumbing to a cold, or mid-winter ick, or whatever it is that's going around, and this little reprieve was certainly appreciated. The kids are all getting over it, which is doubly nice, as hopefully we'll slip into March nice and healthy.

And so, we're up - albeit at the crack of mid-morning - ready to do school. Emily's up now, too, and so is John. James will stumble out shortly and we'll begin what promises to be a nice, slow morning (since, thankfully, we don't have to be anywhere today. It could have been a much worse start to the day!) I've held them off for a bit with animal crackers and peanut butter so I can have a cup of coffee and let the level in my brain catch up with my body.

In spite of the fact that I'm still a bit fuzzy, I am also thankful. Thankful the children haven't "missed" any of their education due to our need to recuperate. Thankful that we don't have to drag them to the pediatrician's office (thus subjecting ourselves to things far worse than the mid-winter ick) just to get a professional's letter exonerating me from negligence in allowing them to rest. Thankful that Zorak can be so sweetly quiet in the mornings, knowing I was almost down for the count. Thankful that, when we do all arise, our learning and exploring can begin and flow and move with us, rather than it being we who must try to catch up with it. Thankful that today is not a waste, no matter how it starts out.

I love this life. (And Smidge loves his new book, which it only took me a couple of minutes to locate.)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 27

Wordless Wednesday

Kiss those babies!
(well, "nearly" wordless, anyway)

Tuesday, February 26

Dirty Work... (Forever Home Update)

This is the view from the edge of the upper meadow. Thanks to the pesky law of gravity, and water inevitably taking the path of least resistance, you can see that both come together here to form the Zen Waterfall in the basement. (Evidently, it's easier to get under the house than around it. Weee!)

The slope is fairly steep, and the valley is right against the house. Do you see the little yellow dump truck in the distance (near the middle of the shot, but way in the back)? To the left of that is a HUGE stump that prevents water from flowing away from the house. So, we've got to do something about that. The white things sticking up are the stakes for the fence, and we kinda-sorta figured it might be best to deal with the drainage issues before we put the fence up rather than try to finagle it around the fence later.

You can see all kinds of things in the photo above: the family pirate, James and Zorak doing a little survey work, Me-Wa playing with the heavy equipment, and in the foreground, my dead salad garden boxy-area-thing. Busy space.

This is a closer shot of Me-Wa grading the back yard to redirect the runoff. Until now, it has always flowed from the upper meadow, straight toward the house. Whatever didn't go into the basement, ran alongside the house until it found a way in, and then, finally, down toward the carport/fire thing, as a last ditch effort. Now, it will hopefully run *around* the house, and down the valley farther from the house, into the creek.

Now, here, you can see that they'd levelled quite a bit. They did more after I took this shot, but it rained last night, and I'm surrounded by an 80-foot-wide swath of mud and mire from every exit except the balcony door. (The mud pit goes all the way around both the front and back of the house.)

The guys found a concrete slab by the basement window, so we used that as the basis for the new grade. It all slopes away from the house, toward the middle of the mud swath, which will one day be green and lush and hopefully not boggy in the least (if we did our math correctly!)

And this is the best that could be done with the time allowed for the rental, and the equipment itself. As you can see, they did get the sidewalk torn up and moved down to the driveway. I haven't braved the mud swath to get to the barn yet, but they also put a good-sized dent in the garden by the barn.

This is basically our final grade. Again, they did a bit more after I retired the camera (the gutter drain is gone now and that corner's been built up and contoured, for example). From what I understand, we need a tractor and a Harley Rake, or a bobcat and a box blade to do the finish work at this point. (For the record: that last sentence is entirely Greek to me, and since I'm spooling up on carpools, schedules, and meals-to-go, that's Zorak's ball to run with this week. Once he fills me in on what we're doing and why, I'll be sure to let ya know.)

The kids had a BLAST this weekend, between playing with Me-Tae, playing in the dirt, helping Dad and Me-Wa... it was just good, good, good.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 25

Random Baseball Post

We've heard from two out of three of the coaches. So far, I'm tickled with one, a little nervous (or "cautiously optimistic", if you will) about the other.

John's coach is fantastic. I'm so excited! He coached John's team in the Summer League last year, and he is all about the boys and helping the boys learn new skills, learn to work together, learn to really enjoy the game. His whole family is so sweet, and so into just enjoying the kids. I couldn't have dreamed up a better coach for John. Plus, since we do know his wife and son, for those times when we have three kids at three different fields at the same time, we'd feel comfortable asking them to keep an eye on him for us. And they'd be glad to do it.

James' coach sounds enthusiastic and nice. They have only 11 kids on the team, and he has three others helping him coach, so there is a lot of potential for this to be a fantastic learning experience. He's also one of the football coaches, and after our football experience, I'm really hoping he's not all about getting into the Majors and making this Your Entire Existence At The Cost Of All Else. Because if he is, well, it's going to be a rough season for all of us - including him. I'm not going to be as quiet about abuses of power or neglectful coaching in baseball as I was in football. This isn't foreign turf to me this year, and I've been fortunate to see how it can be run, and run well. We'll see. I'm not going to pigeon hole him right off the bat, and he does sound very encouraging. I also really like his philosophy about the boys' attitudes and respectfulness - it's always nice to have similar standards with outside groups that you have at home. I'm just not all gushy and tickled like I am with John's coach. But it could be good. It could be very good.

Smidge's coach, we haven't heard from yet. He has, however, the ultimate faith that his coach will call soon and that he ("OR she," as Smidge reminds us) will be absolutely wonderful. The only thing Smidge is concerned about is whether we're going to make it into town before practice starts, to pick up "all the things I need to have, Mom!" Evidently, he's got a list made up and ready to go. Been saving up for this ALL YEAR, don't ya know?

And me? I've got my list of "travel supplies" and my "meals in minutes" stash ready to go. Just need to get to work on that foyer... :-S

But for now, I've got to get some rest. I'll post pictures of the latest in the Forever Home work tomorrow. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, February 23

The Derby!

Today was The Big Day.
The kids had a fantastic time. The races were a riot. All the cars were such fun to see, and the boys' encouragement of one another was so heartening to the adults in the room.
The Littles had no trouble keeping busy.
They even enjoyed a little early luncheon out together...

And at the end of the day, we can say, it was a Good Day.

(James placed first in his den, John placed second or third in his. - It was hard to tell over the leaping and high-fiving and other sibling noises. - There was an overall Pack heat, and James took second in that one, as well. They were both so proud of their cars, and of each other. It was a great event! They cannot wait until the District Race next month, and I think I overheard them talking about "next year" already, as well!)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 21

Watching the eclipse with kids.

The boys were so excited. As if to remind us of the big event, the moon came out early in the day the last two days. (This is the only decent moon photo we took. My camera, and my skills, are not so good with night photography.)

Then we had severe cloud cover last night. At seven, it was complete. Not a shred of light slipped through the clouds. But what with kids being kids and all excited, I couldn't make an executive decision not to give it a shot. We figured we would wait and try, anyway. I'm so glad we did!

We still had to compete with the cloud cover, but it moved so quickly, and in the opposite direction of the eclipse, that the boys were able to enjoy the spectacle.

It was cold! (Can you tell which of the children runs a little warmer than the other?) The littlest ones stayed inside to play. Smidge came out just as the big orange shadow made it's grand appearance. I missed it, as Emily also put on a grand I-am-so-done-with-this-being-up-nonsense show about the same time. So, while the boys were enjoying their time with Nature. I was enjoying some bedtime snuggles with Em. 2010 may sound like a long way off, to catch the next eclipse, but that's nothing compared to all that will transpire with these children between now and then. She needed me more than I wanted to see that - and we can catch the next one together.

When I left the boys, they were settled in for the duration. Or so it seemed...

Not too long after the eclipse began to fade, however, they decided to play football. In, as you can see, the dark. Of course there was crashing and wailing and yelling and a tear or two. My sympathies didn't run deep. They've been told not to play football on the sloped meadow in the dark (things you never thought you'd have to explain, #286) So when they needed a referee, I called bedtime, citing the rule that says: I just got the baby down, and I will not be pleased if I have to take you all out in this weather to visit the ER. Game! Round 'em up. Stories, snuggles, no broken bones or bloody lips. (Had to check, just in case. I may not have sounded terribly sympathetic, but a Mom still worries.) All is well.

Dad comes home tonight! Yay!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, February 19

In for a quiet few days.

The children spent the morning down at the dirt pile. Or, what's left of it. They've amassed quite a pile of dirt clods atop it. "Dirt Bombs," they call them. They claim it's a defensive measure to help protect "the pile". Looks more like a cairn for lost giants, to be honest, but I didn't tell them that. We got back this afternoon and they all headed down there, lined up like little ducks. I love that Em can go down and wallow and climb and play with the big kids, everybody can have a wonderful time, and her brothers don't give her a hard time. They don't give me a hard time about having her around, either. I don't think it would dawn on them to exclude Smidge (who is convinced he IS Big now) or Em. Another thing to be thankful for!

When it's time to go into town, I just brush them all off with a whisk broom and send them in to wash their hands and faces. They're still slightly rust-colored, but I figure we live in the country and when we go into town, a little country dust isn't such a bad thing. Not that I'd wear it like the badge of honor the kids do, but that's okay. I'm glad they're happy with where we are and what we do.

We ate in town with Zorak and then he headed off for a few days' travel for work. Yuck. He doesn't have to go often, and we appreciate that. Still, he's so nice to have around, and he's missed when he's gone, so we all feel just a wee bit whiny when he does have to go. He hates it, too, and I have to admit that that makes me smile. Not that I'm a sadist. I'm just glad he's not clamoring to get out of Dodge whenever he has the opportunity.

Zorak didn't leave me with any specific tasks to finish while he's gone (other than the obligatory, "try not to lose one of them, and don't forget to feed the dog"), so I'm going to try to get some crochet work done after the evening head count. That'll fill my evenings quite nicely (and probably sharpen my tongue a bit, too). I have a hat nearly finished, and hope to move on to John's scarf. Poor kid has been waiting for *three years* for this yellow scarf. I can't knit to save my soul, so I figured perhaps I can get the thing done if I crochet it. He's feeling optimistic. If I can get those two projects done in a reasonable time, I'm going to take the plunge and try to make a hooded pullover! I found a really cute one in a book this weekend, and am dying to try it. I just feel that I ought to complete a few UFOs before I can justify starting yet another Big Project. (But truly, you just cannot have too many hooded sweatshirts, jackets, and pullovers. You just can't.)

It's getting dark. I'd best go turn on the porch light so the dirty children loitering in the meadow can find their way to shelter and food here in a bit.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 18

Well, that was a shocker!

We got a lot done!

Well, Zorak and the boys did. I, um, well, I got one curtain made. Heh. Yeah. (Mere, never did find the thread, but I did find the empty bag! I asked around, but nobody saw anything. Nobody knows anything. *snicker* Fortunately, I did find an old spool of white and made that work. I hope it holds!) The rest of my productivity was mostly the same productivity I have every week: made bread, did laundry, cleaned the kitchen. Nothing to blog about, really. So, um, I'll stop and talk about something else.

Zorak, however, really romped on the chores. He got four 6-foot fence panels built (this is for fencing in the back yard - it'll hold domestic critters, namely Balto and the children), plus three corner posts. Big old H-posts that'll hold up to the strain of children clamboring over them (because it's so much more fun to climb a fence than go through a gate when you're little). We figure if you're big enough to climb the fence, then you're big enough to be let out of the fenced yard without Mom having to worry. A premeditated rite-of-passage, if you will.

John learned how to make mortise and tenon joints. He would make a fantastic carpenter. The boy loves to channel his inner Pa Ingalls.

They worked more on their derby cars. The race is Saturday! Yikes, that came up quickly!

We had a bonfire Saturday evening. It was a gorgeous night, with a clear sky and no wind. The kids brought their chili down and ate around the fire. Zorak and I snuggled on a chunk of wood and basked in the warmth of it all - the fire, the children, the life we've built. That felt very good.

We did get a dumptruck of dirt delivered. Then it rained, and rained, and rained some more. Then it was cold and wet. So, we skipped the skid steer this weekend. No sense in using large machinery to rip up the land when we have four perfectly capable children who will do it for just the cost of food.

The children played quite happily in the rain, and the mud, and the cold. I wanted so badly to get a picture of it, but the camera was out in the Suburban, and I'm not a child who is willing to go out in the rain and the mud and the cold for something that doesn't involve my immediate survival (or comfort - I'd do it for comfort). So you'll just have to take my word for it that they were really quite adorable out there. The little drowned wharf-rats. :-)

The boys were so busy working and planning and playing that it took them until this afternoon to find the dirt pile. We may not even have to go down there to spread it all out, by the time they're done with it! They had a fantastic afternoon and only one of them made it more than three pages into tonight's story. That's a sign of a Very Good Day.

In all, it was a Very Good Weekend. More productive than most. Plenty of time to enjoy the little things. We ate like kings with fresh bread, venison steaks and saffron rice and steamed veggies. I made a dump cake, which didn't last much past supper. Little things. Good things. Can't complain.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, February 17

Ready for Spring

The children spent the afternoon playing at the creek earlier in the week. John came running up to the house to tell me they'd found a bird's nest. We traipsed on down to check it out.

It's empty right now. I don't know if it's something that may see the arrival of a family this Spring, but wouldn't that be fun? I love possibilities.
What's possible for you this year?
Kiss those babies!

Friday, February 15

Weekend Plans

It's a long weekend, which doesn't bode well for making actual progress on our projects. And yet, we forge ahead with grand plans, anyway. (Ha - I typed "forget". Twice. How's that for fighting our natures?)

We have dirt coming at nine. A tractor to pick up at, erm, *whenever we get around to it* (skid steer - thingy with a bucket - whatever it's called, it's for moving dirt, and hopefully we'll be able to move enough dirt to put a bit of a non-Zen-like hurting on the Zen Waterfall in the basement!) Post holes to dig. Fence panels to build.

And, in case we run out of things to do (cough, cough, ahem), I have a brand new bottle of grout sealant. Because you just can't have too many layers of grout sealant on a boys' bathroom floor!

The boys are psyched about "getting" to use the post hole digger. Heh. You know, some things just look like a whole lot more fun than they are. This is one of them. And hey, since we've both used those things before, we are in no rush to explain that to the boys. We figure we can get a hole or two out of the big boys before they catch on that it's all a big, hairy illusion. We might even get one decent hole out of Smidge. That'll do.

I've decided the foyer needs a make-over. Not like it's "finished" to begin with, but more a functional make-over. I realized this evening that we really need a Central Command for bags and supplies. Some place to land everything when we come in, and have it ready to go when we need to go. Since we don't have a coat closet, mud room, game room, or garage, the foyer seems like as good a place as any. Or, more to the point, the foyer is the only place, other than the barn, that isn't already pulling its own weight around here. So it gets the job by default.

This ("this," being the whole "organizational, ready to be places on time" thing) is not my strong area, by any means. Particularly the "ready to be places on time" bit. Add in the need to be "prepared", and we're in way over our heads! My hope is to really tackle that demon and beat it down this spring. If I don't, I may end up on sedatives and st. john's wart/antacid cocktails before Memorial Day.

And... it's after eleven, and I can't think. I can't write. I am going to give up and go read. Sometimes, that's just how it goes. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 14


Great day, all around, and I have news for the boys when they get home from Scouts tonight!

We made it to Sam's. The boys were only mildly out of whack. I have a plentiful stash of tortillas. Yay us.

We got to see Me-Tae, who really and truly went out of her way to make a point to hook up with us today. (Literally - I'd just said we were going to Sam's, but it turned out we were at the *other* Sam's Club in town - neither of us knew there are two of them!)

We made it to see the midwife, and all is well with wee Heinrich. No wonder I feel like an 8-day old August roadkill carcass. I've netted almost 40 pounds this pregnancy, and it's all jammed up against my liver. Maybe a lung. Ugh. But that's okay. You're supposed to be miserable at the end of a pregnancy: you know it's near the end, and you don't mind seeing the end.

Back home, unload, sandwiches all around, and off the boys went for their meeting. The small ones and I gorged ourselves on pork rinds and M&M's and watched a Christmas movie. Nice, quiet evening in the fast lane, eh?

And then, the phone rang.

It was the baseball lady.

I was going to let the answering machine get it, but we don't have an answering machine. That sort of forced my hand.

WOOHOO - we can fill out the forms and pay the fees tomorrow and get the boys started playing baseball this season!

*ahhhh* Sweet relief.

But now, I'm looking at our calendar, and it's starting to creep me out a bit. Scouts, baseball, piano, balcony refinishing, new baby, camping trips and summer camp... what's happening to us? I guess this is what the Changing of the Seasons looks like. If it is, this will certainly be an interesting new season of life here at the Forever Home.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 13

23 degrees and snowing

Well, John says it's snowing. To me, the world just looks mildly blurry, more like I might need glasses than anything else. But hey, if the 7-year-old says it's snow, I'm bound to trust his opinion. Young boys are, certainly, more highly attuned to "the presence of snow" than 30-something women who wear cardigans and wool socks and have no vested interest in snow as long as they don't have to go out in it.

Now, however, I'd like to know why Smidge is surprised that his Thomas sandals don't keep him warm. Three times, I said, "Put on socks, and your warm, brown shoes." Three times. And three times he slipped out the back door in a stinkin' t-shirt and summer sandals without socks. Now he doesn't want to go out "because it's too cold". Well, no kidding, genius! Gah. (I hate to sound curt, but seriously, this child has already contributed more than his fair share to the growth of the Klingon bump between my eyebrows.) I do have hope, since he's not Toddler Insane anymore, but still - why? WHY on EARTH would Mom tell you to wear socks and warm shoes? Or, heaven forbid, get down your big blue coat rather than your green fleece hoodie? Because she doesn't like you? Because she likes to torture you? *snort* Obviously.

And the fact that John's out there in boots, a coat, hat and gloves, having a glorious time? Certainly, that must be proof that he's simply given up on standing his ground. John's gone and caved to the Evil Maternal Empire.

That's okay. The myopic snowfall isn't really quite sticking, and it won't last long. As soon as the temps come above freezing, we'll be heading to the store for yummy things like bananas and milk and eggs. And then, I won't seem so evil, and he (wearing a coat and warm shoes at that point) won't seem so revolutionarily insane, and all will be well with our world. Sometimes it pays to have the same attention span and short-term memory as your younger children. :-)

I just have to remember to give the list to James before we head out, or we'll come home with a random hodge-podge of things we probably don't need.

I'm so thankful I didn't have all five children in one fell swoop. The staggered ages help me keep things in perspective. The little ones are cute, I mean really cute. Those great big eyes and top-heavy head:body ratio can make even the most criminal-feeling behavior seem surmountable and give you hope. They remind me that the big ones looked like that once, and that makes me smile, makes me remember that it'll be gone all too quickly.

The big ones, well, they simply aren't insane anymore. They have the ability to reason and discourse (not that they always use it, but they do have the ability, and I cling to that). They make better decisions on a more regular basis, and can usually spot their bad decisions with very little prompting or explaining. They are helpful and funny. The think it's funny when we tell them that they did the same things the littles are doing now. That, too, gives me hope, and makes me smile.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, February 12

Piano Lessons!

It's going to happen! It's a reality!

James and John start piano lessons on March 6th!! (I start on the 7th *sheepish grin* - I don't remember enough to be of any use, otherwise.)

The teacher came highly recommended (which, really, is my only hope). She loves homeschoolers, worked us in back-to-back for the boys, and sounds like she has wonderful expectations that jive with the way we do things, here. She's big on consistent practice in shorter sessions vs. prolonged sessions less often. She said she provides fun projects and songs for the kids to work on, but it's contingent on the kids getting their theory work done... I think I'll like her. Plus, she doesn't have my gruff, scary R. Lee Ermey demeanor. Always a plus when working with children.

Now, I guess I'd better order that keyboard, eh?

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 11

Monday, Monday...

Well, today turned out, um, not half bad.

The baseball rep said to talk to the Community Rec. President. I left a message for him. He had somebody else call me back.

She was baffled as to how we could have not known. I mean, they have it on the high school display board, and they sent letters home with the kids. How could we not have known?

Well, my eldest is nine, so I never go to the high school, and we aren't in the public school system, so we're out of that communication loop. Sorry. (Although, come to think of it, this isn't through the schools...)

She didn't seem to like those reasons, but she did stop being quite so curt. She then went on to explain that they've got to "run the numbers" first and see what the teams look like (sounds like the group is coordinated by bookies, doesn't it? It was difficult not to snicker when that thought hit me, but I was still on the phone, so I managed to stifle it.) They'll let me know by Wednesday if the boys can play. She said she figures Smidge can play, but doesn't know the status of the other two groups.

Um, yeah.

So, not sure how this is going to pan out. I can't see having Smidge play and making his brothers sit on the sidelines (especially John, who has spent all winter out there, practicing his batting, running and catching - although, interestingly enough, he was the most gracious about this whole thing when I explained what I'd done. What a doll.)

If they can't play, I will probably try the next nearest districts and see if they'll let us play for them this year. Something.

I still feel like a heel.

On the Forever Home front, Zorak priced the materials for the fence today, and it looks like it'll be not only easier to do than we'd thought, but will also cost less than we'd anticipated. Yay! It looks like it's going to rain Saturday, so I don't think we'll be renting the tractor or moving dirt. But we can build the fence panels in the basement and get them stained. Plus, it's easier to dig post holes in moist dirt, anyway, right? ;-)

Oh, and we have propane. For a while, we didn't have heat, though, and that had me freaked out. I went all Useless Chick in Adventure Movie when the whole system shut down entirely and started blinking at me. Called Zorak up and he donned his shiny armor and walked me through it, saving both the day and my sanity in the process. I was thisfar from loading everyone up and spending the day at the mall, just in case the place exploded. (It wasn't anything that bad, but it was if you'd asked my imagination ten minutes into trying to figure it out! I'm such a goober sometimes. And yes, the pilot was lit. I'm not THAT much of a goober. Or, at least I wasn't... today.)

Tonight, we sleep soundly, and warm. Tomorrow, we... do more stuff! Hurrah!

Kiss those babies!


Claudia asked me last night when baseball sign-ups start. I told her they should be this month, sometime. I felt so proud of myself for remembering that we have to start thinking about warm weather sports during the coldest month of our year. Yup. Feelin' pretty with-it.

I got online to check our community rec website, and it still had last year's sign-up info. Huh. That's weird. It didn't have last year's football info at all, which I thought was doubly strange. After a little finagling and clicking and roaming, *poof* the page suddenly changes - all new updates, all new info, all new site design! Same URL. Ahh, well, here we go, baseball... sign ups...

January 26th

Feb 2

Feb 9


I've sent an email to the baseball rep, begging for clemency. Three little boys may disown me if I've blown it for the entire season.


Kiss those babies!

Sunday, February 10

Busy Weekend

It's been a great weekend for productivity here at the Forever Home. Zorak hauled the carcasses of dead appliances down to the Recycle Guy, so the carport-that-wants-to-be-a-fire is looking a bit more, well, a bit less terrifying.

I cleaned the kitchen pantry, then sorted, organized and inventoried the food storage shelf (yes, "shelf", singular. We're not good Mormons, Catholics, or survivalists... just slackin' Protestants). I am tickled, though, to see that we've nearly met our first goal! I was hoping to get to a two-month supply, and we're just about there! We need to flesh it out a bit, as there are some things I've completely forgotten to store - like pasta, and (gah, this is embarrassing to even admit) water. Yes. Yes, I know. Der. However, I'd only begun this project in September, so I'm quite happy with the results, and we've been able to accomplish it without any appreciable increase in our grocery bill.

We have the back yard staked out for a fence! We have the new garden boundaries marked, as well, and we have the spot for the chicken coop laid out. Now, if only we can decide just how we want to design the coop, we might make some progress on it! I tried to talk KathyJo into coming down with her crew so we could turn the menfolk loose down there, but she's not budging. Pfft. You'd think she's enjoying the snow or something. ;-)

Oh, hey, and while we marked out the back yard boundaries, the house spoke to us again (shhh, you're the only ones we tell about this stuff - the neighbors might think we're nuts... but, then again, that could come in handy...) Anyway, there's a door off the kitchen that leads out back. We don't use it because, like so many other things on this place, it's scary-dangerous. The first step is over a foot down, and if you misstep, you'll tumble down a painful, brick-edged, gauntlet. The little iron railings have long rusted away, so if you mistakenly attempt to grab hold of one, you'll only increase the likelihood that you'll be impaled before you hit bottom. As of yesterday, that door is now marked for a small landing and wooden steps that'll lead into the back yard. (Not only will it be lovely and functional, but then the children won't have to traipse through our bedroom to get to the back yard. WOOHOO!)

Zorak eyeballed my hammock trees for a tree house. He even measured them. I don't want to sound territorial, here, and I would do anything for my children, but I worked for two full summers to clear enough briars and poison ivy to get *to* those trees, so I could hang a hammock. Not so they could build a tree house. A hammock, darnit. I've never had a hammock. I'd like a hammock. I WANT a hammock. Besides, there are eighty bazillion suitable tree house trees on the property, but not so many suitable hammock sites. *ahem* Um, so, that particular piece of land is currently in limbo. (It'll probably end up being a tree house. Maybe I can sling my hammock beneath the deck?)

We ran out of propane on Saturday morning. Gah. I hate this little tank. (Riiiiight. Because it couldn't have anything to do with the fact that I'm the one who forgets to check it? OK, let me rephrase that: I hate that I forget to check that little tank.) If you ask for a delivery Not On Your Delivery Day, they hit you with fees: "Should've Checked Your Tank, Stoopid" fees, which add up to several hundred dollars. Plus, you pay a higher price for the gas, itself, at an "off route" price. We called to find out just what the "off route" price is, and see about scheduling a delivery, but the emergency delivery guy never called back, so Zorak hooked up a little tank and we'll use that until Monday.

I had to smile. That brought back memories of our first home together, when we were often too poor to afford the 100 gallon minimum delivery. (And that was when it was $1.75/gal., too.) He'd use the small tanks to limp us along, getting them refilled at the gas station (back when gas stations still did that sort of thing) on his way home from work, switching the tanks out, until we could save enough money to get a real delivery. I'm glad we're not *there* anymore, and that if the guy had called back, we could have had a full tank. However, I'm also so thankful Zorak is the guy he is and does such a good job of providing what we need. (Now, if he could just find me a mental supplement, or a personal secretary, or *something* so I won't forget to check the darned tank next time!)

I have no idea what we'll be doing today. Zorak stayed up far too late last night drafting fence panel designs, so I'm sure we'll be ready to make some headway on those shortly. And the carport-that-wants-to-be-a-bonfire is much less creepy now that it's all cleared out and semi-functional. I was hoping to get some sewing done, but that's not looking like it's going to happen. That's okay. There's plenty to do in the meantime, and when the time comes, I'll be ready!

ACK, and they're heading outside without me! I'd better go.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 7

Oh, they make me laugh.

The older two are working at the breakfast bar, finishing up their Latin. Smidge finished eating. He cleared his spot and ran down the hallway to finish getting dressed (why this is a two-part process, I do not know, but that's not the point of this post).

I heard John yell, "Walk!"

Now, the children tend to abuse any authority they might have over one another, so I try to discourage their desire to correct one another (even when they're right - yes, Smidge ought to have walked - John was just quicker on the draw than I). I'll allow it for life-endangering issues, but not for general purpose eye-poking. (There is a vain hope that if they know it's dangerous, then they'll be inclined to listen. This grand scheme, however, hinges on the others following that general pattern, which has yet to happen. And still, I persist. Go figure.)

So I said, in the same tone, "John!"

He replied, without skipping a beat, "Latin!"

Heh. Yeah. Latin.

They *know*. I know they know, because little exchanges like this tell me they've been listening. I have a choice: despair that they will never internalize and implement this knowledge; hope that eventually it will. sink. in.

I'm going for hope, today.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, February 5

Stay Safe, Guys

Tonight we sat on the front porch, enjoying a balmy (over 70 degrees, 73% humidity, breezy - absolutely, unnervingly beautiful for February) evening. The boys caught several moths for the lizard. I cleaned and read a bit. It felt so idyllic. Then I checked the weather online.

Oh. My. Word. Tornadoes are ripping through the South tonight, and a good portion of the region is under watch until the morning.

So. Be safe. Stay alert. Check in, and then turn that computer off and go hide in the tub or something, okay!?!? ACK.

It's okay. Go on. No pictures tonight, anyway. Due to an unfortunate miscommunication in basic procedures (evidently the 9yo and I do not speak a similar enough dialect of the same language to communicate effectively) I had to reschedule the hair appointment.

Tonight, let's just all hunker down and get comfy in a doorway or two, and meet back here tomorrow, shall we?

Kiss those babies!

There's Something to be Said for the "Grizzled Look"

Really, there is. I wasn't going to agree to pictures, because I wasn't entirely certain this could be fixed. So I rounded up all the baseball caps we own and contemplated asking Aunt B to sent me a really big, really gaudy sombrero from Juarez. I'm set for Spring!

As of right now, however, I have an appointment with a lady in the salon (actually, a different salon, but the same company - every time I called the first salon, HairGuy answered, and I panicked. I know, I'm a wuss. I accept that about myself.) This lady is supposed to be excellent with "color correction" (which is, I take it, a specific field within the hair-realm). So I'll see if I can get John to take some before and after shots. You're a sick bunch, you know that? ;-)

I do think, though, that after this incident I'm just going to let the wrinkles and the naturally bad hair come and ensconce me and call it good. Perhaps I can learn how to pack mules and hire out as a camp guide. Or I could tend the saloon in a re-enactment camp. There's always a use for our natural talents, if we'll just look for one.

Zorak suggested I go ahead and show you now, with this photo. (It's okay, I laughed, too. Then I choked on my coffee. I would have said it's more like this. But then I'd be lying. It's worse.)

And for the record, I'm just having a little fun with it. Yes, even my previous post was written with a grin. There is nothing that can be done to my head that will send me into tears or convince me the world is going to end. It's hair. It'll grow. Granted, a bad haircut grows only mildly slower than dying grass, but it'll grow. And if I'm going to stick with keeping it real, *whispers* this isn't the worst dye job I've ever had. Let me fill you in a bit...

1990: Henna. Yeah, bulk bin, mix-it-yourself, do-it-yourself Henna from the health food store. Did you know you *can* dye your hair calico? And your eyebrows, if you use the same mixture. And, did you know Henna doesn't come out without hardcore chemical warfare? It's true.

1993: my first experience with "cellophanes". In one fell swoop, my stylist chopped my then-golden (naturally golden, at that point) locks from waist length to a chin-length bob and turned what was left into something resembling an oil slick in a wet parking lot. It was a variegated eggplant, with hints of orange and purpley, and very, very shiny. It clashed horribly with my favorite fleece pullover (which had more red tones). I remember sitting at supper one evening with a gentleman friend who couldn't help but comment on the freaky irridescent halo cast by the romantic lights bouncing off the refractory of my head. He also bought me a different jacket to wear until the stuff wore off. Which, it never did. I looked like this for nearly a year. Evidently, my hair is terribly porous.

1996: I had red hair. Beautiful, Maureen O'Hara-style red hair. OH, how I loved it. Oh, how delightfully Irish and whimsical I felt. I loved having red hair. Until I picked up a different brand for a touch up. (It was on sale, and it looked the same on the box.) Turns out, different brands do not always get along. I spent the end of '96 and the first four months of '97 with what we affectionately refer to as "Biker Bitch Burgundy" hair. Lovely. And, wouldn't ya know it, that's the color it was in the last photograph taken of Mom and her four children before my sister passed away. So, yeah, there are 10x13 photos of this particular look hanging on several walls across the country. Nice, huh?

Spread out here and there are the inevitably bad hair cuts. The blunt cut Sphinx head. The Amazing Water Buffalo. The "so, were you mad at me" cut. The list goes on.

But amidst all that, I've managed to hold down jobs, pay for food and beer, expand my education, maintain absolutely fantastic friends (who all have a superb grasp on the absurd), find a delightful man (during one of my more normal phases, anyway - I don't know that he'd have come back to ask me to dance during the Irridescent Eggplant phase), and have children who love me enough to be honest with me when I make bad decisions. (Come to think of it, I can't believe not one of them shouted, "Bad Idea Fairy" when I walked in the door. Huh. I'd have thought that would be the most appropriate response, to be honest.)

Don't let a bad design presentation get ya down. Ever. It's not worth it.

Monday, February 4

Hopefully EmBaby Will By My Ally...

I *love* living in a house filled to the bursting point with male creatures. Really, I do. It's lively and funny (sometimes a little *too* funny). It's always active, creative, adventurous. It's also... um, brutally honest.

I made it to my hair appointment yesterday. HairGuy did all the work. I sat in my little chair, visited a bit, and read my latest brain candy. I don't know how to do what he does, so I don't try to follow along. Really, if your HairGuy is going to do something *wrong*, by the time you realize it, it's too late to stop it. Plus, there's always that doubt that perhaps it looks just fine and what you need is three days to live with it and adjust to the new look. (Am I right? I'm right.)

A house full of guys does. not. get. this.

I walked in and scooped up Smidge, gave him a big hug and told him how much I missed him. He pushed back a bit, furrowed his brow, and said,

"What did you do's to you's hair?"

I dropped him on the couch and wandered into the kitchen.

...Where Zorak started eyeballing my hair. I don't mean he admired it, or just looked at it. He eyeballed it like he suspected it of outlaw activity in an old Western mining camp.

"Did you pick that tone, or did he?"

(He did. I just sat there.)

He kept staring while he worked. A few minutes later, he could no longer resist and started picking at the front of it. My personal space was being invaded, and my vulnerability levels were already riding high (because it really is Very Very Light - much lighter than my borderline headcovering-like tendencies would have preferred - but I thought we'd already established that I didn't pick the tone.)

"Huh," he snorted. "You have a huge chunk at the front that he didn't get."

(Perfect. I didn't notice that when I'd left. Yet, notice I had not asked what he thought. I wasn't ready for that yet. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'd have found the chunk, eventually, but right there in the kitchen, with Zorak rubbing teriyaki-covered fingers through my bangs was not the most comfortable way of having my hair critiqued.)

I wandered away to the school room to hide for a bit. James entered. He stopped dead in his tracks and did this wide-eyed, slapstick comedy, full halt that can only mean something painfully blunt is coming from a 9yo boy.

"What? Is? That? Are you going grey, or did you do this on purpose, Mom? You don't even look like the same Mom!"

(Yeah. Like you have any hope of ever dating with this approach, kiddo.)

"You know, how about next time, you just don't do that, okay? It doesn't look natural."

(It's highlights. It's highlights they had to blend into year-old highlights from another salon. I know it's not "natural". Nobody thinks this is my natural color.)

"Well, if you're going to do this..." (He starts messing with the hair on the sides.) "Why don't you try purple next time?" (There is something very wrong with the fact that I know he's trying to be helpful. I do get that.)

(I love you. And I'm going to go rearrange the food shelf in the basement, now. I'll be back when all of you are asleep.)

John? John may just have the mojo it takes to live with women. He never said a word. He smiled and acted like absolutely nothing was wrong. All. Evening. Good boy.

My hope lies with EmBaby, now. Will it come naturally, or is there some kind of indoctrination process I'll need to begin? And when should I start it?

I'll call the HairGuy today. He can fix the missing chunk, I'm sure, but the guys are simply going to have to adjust to the "tone" of my new hair for a while. (Which makes me laugh, because then I picture someone yelling at my hair, "You watch your tone, missy!" For the record, they don't get that, either. *snort*)

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, February 3

Sausage and Highlights and Denim

Today was sausage day. The guys made sausage. Oodles of sausage. Pizza sausage. Breakfast sausage. Cajuny sausage. There is a vice stuck to the dining table, and scads of little white sausage chubs in the freezer. I'm not sure what's left to do, but I do believe that by the end of the day tomorrow, I may have both the kitchen *and* the fridge back. (woo!)

I tried to get a cut and color in town today, but by the time I hauled my big ol' self into town, there wasn't enough time for the color to set before they rolled up the sidewalks. So, eh, I have to go in tomorrow. (Which, in itself, is a shocker - I'm surprised they're allowed to color on Sundays. However, I'm not going to complain, because I really, really need some hair-help, and Zorak really, really doesn't want to do it himself.)

James went to town with me, and I dragged him into, um, we stopped at Hancock Fabrics. I've signed up for their flier a handful of times, but their system refuses to add us. So I had no idea they were having a sale today. I was just desperate for *some* kind of fabric to cover the Cheech & Chong couch we're limping along. I lobbied hard for vinyl, but James wasn't going for it. After my third attempt, he led me back to the "normal fabrics". (P'shaw - what mother hasn't contemplated vinyl upholstery, at least once? Well, outside of summertime, anyway.) He also vetoed regular blue denim, which was my next choice. Finally, I turned the process over to him with the one requirement that it be either waterproof *or* machine washable. (Do I know how to pick my battles, or what?)

Turns out the kid has an eye for decorating fabric and he found one he loved - a great, heavy weight, 100% cotton, MACHINE WASHABLE, denim in a creamy tan color (did I mention that it's machine washable?), with small flecks of blue and dark brown, which, he pointed out, could easily be used for accent colors at any point. (Evidently, all those episodes of The Christopher Lowell show I watched while he was in utero have paid off.) And the best part, well, after the fact that it's MACHINE WASHABLE, is that had been marked down, marked down again, and was on sale for 50% off. YEEHAW! $15/yd. fabric for $4/yd. Life. is. good.

The kids got to run around outside today, which they needed. Then they didn't get to bed until very late, which I didn't need. (And I'll admit it, I went just a little teeny-tiny bit nutso around 10:30, when they were still up, making noise and moving about in the air that I needed desperately to be still and quiet at that time of night). BUT, no blood, no foul, everybody still knows they're loved. And, I suspect, that Mommy really might want to consider upping her B-complex dosages. However, they are all bright enough not to have mentioned that while I was kissing everyone goodnight and making them swear not to leave their room before the sun comes up tomorrow. It's all good. Every day can't be a stellar day, but if you can keep the perspective that even the things that *feel* big... aren't really that big (and we're learning that), and the things that may slip our minds... really shouldn't be allowed out of sight... well, that goes quite a long way toward restoring harmony and warm fuzzies all the way around.

Warm fuzzies for everyone!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, February 1

A happy change of plans.

(Hunting story ahead. If hunting or photos of game bother you, you may not care to read this post.)

I borrowed an episode of Little House on the Prairie from the library Wednesday, and planned a cozy evening introducing the boys to the Ingalls family Zorak and I grew up with. Popcorn, hot chocolate, hanging out as a family. Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? We did spend the evening hanging out as a family, but it was outside, up to our knees in a gut pile. I decided to skip the popcorn for this one.

Zorak's routine this season has been to give me a call when he hits the bridge on his way home, at which time I alert the Boy On Call that it's time to find his coat and pop on his shoes. When Dad gets home, they head into the woods to hunt for a bit before supper. So far, they hadn't brought anything home, but the time together has been fantastic for everyone. The children get one-on-one time with Dad. Dad gets some time to talk with each of his children. I get to stay inside, where it's warm. Total win-win.

Wednesday was James' turn. They weren't gone more than 30 minutes when we heard a shot. I didn't think anything of it, as we live in the country and there are shots fired all the time, from all directions. However, soon here came James, who'd run the entire way, to ask me to get everyone bundled up and bring the camera, and Dad's knife. I was surprised that he'd want us all to go down there (in the cold... and in, you know, the cold), but we rounded everyone up and headed down.

It was getting dark by the time I got down there (takes a while to get us up and out, ya know), but there in the meadow was a beautiful buck and One Happy Daddy. The first deer he's hunted on our own property. A full freezer. A chance to tan some leather and teach the boys new things. Then I understood why he wanted us there. That was a really great moment for him, and he wanted to share it with the people he loves the most. I'm glad we went.

We took the deer back to the house, where the boys helped him field dress it. I have only the photo of them all after they got it in the pickup, because once we started work, I realized pregnant olfactory issues aren't a big help in field dressing game. So, I stood as close to upwind as possible, and held the flashlight with one hand, my nose with the other.

They got it hung and then we came in to resume our planned family evening.

Yesterday, I took Em to Sam's for groceries while Zorak and the boys came home to skin and butcher the deer. When Em and I got home, Ben and his boys were here. It was total happy chaos. Kids everywhere, the guys happily packaging meat. The boys helped skin and prepare the deer, which they've happily recounted several times. Good stuff when you're a young man. I'm so glad Zorak is so willing to take things slowly and teach the boys as we go.

My kitchen was horriffic. The two covered porches looked like the staging area for Tremors5. We were able to send Ben home with a roast and some steaks, and then we enjoyed a delicious meal of backstrap steaks, green beans and fried potatoes last night. I was exhausted, but in a good way. It's been a very happy, well-fed two days here at the Forever Home.

Kiss those babies!