Tuesday, December 29

Buddy: Felted Jackal, Family Dog

This is Buddy. He's new here.

He's a Yellow Lab/Heeler mix. Probably some other things in there, too, like hyena or jackal. Not entirely sure. But he's got a good temperament and seems to be well aware that this is his crew. Mutts are good like that, in our experience.

Santa brought him for all the kids,

But... mainly, for John, who has felt most severely that puppy-shaped hole in this home, and in his heart since we lost Balto. You can see the look on his face, here.

He could not believe his eyes when Buddy came snuffling through the foyer...

He could hardly speak for a few minutes afterword. I think we nailed it.

And so, A Boy and His Dog begin a beautiful friendship.

They picked his name well. Buddy.

Kiss those babies!


Just Tuesday. It's trash day, and I overslept (man, our bed is comfortable, and the blankets over the window for warmth have the added distraction of also making me think it's still 5:30, no matter how late it gets), but it looks like Zorak got up and at 'em and got the trash out. He also left coffee and a fire. It's like Santa's slightly odd cousin came. He doesn't leave wrapped gifts, but it's still a wonderful feeling.

We aren't supposed to get back to schooling until the fourth. But... yeah. We might ditch that plan and start back today. The lack of structure is about to kill all of us. Maybe just math, Latin, reading and music. That would make for an easy week back, and it would also keep us from spending the day wallowing in mindless entertainment while the debris piles up around us. Not that that's a bad thing, per se, it's just that after two weeks of it, we need to dig our way out and find the path again.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, December 27

Too Many Pictures!

I took too many pictures, and cannot seem to distill Christmas into just a few. That leaves me somewhat paralyzed, which is silly, but there you have it: I have pixel-induced paralysis. (Go figure.) So I'll probably drag this out over a few days, as my brain picks out memories here and there.

EmBaby, once she woke up (not a fast waker, that one...) thoroughly enjoyed every sparkly, pretty, girly thing about the entire day. Including the impromptu photo shoot. (I started out to get pictures of her playing with her Playmobil nursery in her favorite doll house, but we got sidetracked and forgot what we were doing.)

The Oball, from Rainbow Resource? HUGE hit. Go Santa! Everybody loves this thing.

Oh, it kills me how big they look, knowing that in five years I'll look back on this very picture and get weepy over how "little" they looked. But they are happy, and they are great friends, and that's what I hope and pray will not change.

Granny's gifts were huge hits across the board. As exemplified by Jake's reaction to Em's gift of Monkeyball 2.

And there was math. Because that is what happens when Engineers hang out...

It was, indeed, a Very Merry Christmas!
Kiss those babies!

Friday, December 25

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Or, more accurately, 'Twas Ridiculously Early Christmas Morning. Doesn't have the same ring to it, though, does it?

Aside from not having actually mailed anything we needed to mail, we had everything done before midnight tonight. Gifts are wrapped, stockings are stuffed, children are loved on and passed out. (James and John were amazing Santa's Helpers this year, and they set up the gifts so nicely around the tree. They also ate all the snacks, so I had to break into the Emergency Stash after they went to bed.)

So why are we up? We're up because Santa brought one of those live critters this year, and it will not go to sleep. It's noisy, too. I angled for a guinea pig or a chinchilla or a garden gnome - you know, some relatively mute creature, but it looks like the kids were better than I was this year. It's been nearly two years since we lost Baltoid, and the kids are ready to share their adventures again. (They've actually been ready for a while, but Zorak and I have been putting it off. We weren't quite ready until now.)

But regardless of the lack of sleep, we're so excited about morning we can hardly stand to let the kids sleep. Zorak Claus outdid himself this year, and EmBaby's new play kitchen turned out beautifully. I'll get better shots of it with her enjoying it, but I just couldn't resist getting a shot of it sitting in the living room. It's got open pantry shelving, a fridge with two glass shelves (plexiglass, of course), the oven has a self-closing hinge, and the broiler drawer rocks! We cannibalized the range top from her defunct set simply because, although it's ugly, it does make a cool bubbling noise. When it dies, we'll pop it out and replace it with something we've made (We... *snort* OK, Zorak.) It's stained to match our kitchen cabinets and counter, too! So cute!

However, I guess we really should see if the pup will get some shuteye and then follow suit, ourselves.

Merry Christmas!
Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, December 23

Shameless Retread of the Day

It is nearly three o'clock. I'm copying this from a discussion with friends and calling it good (with some modification for clarification and compliance with witness protection agreements, etc.). Here's how the day went...

I had a psychotically non-stop day.

We hit the restaurant supply, hoping to find a slightly shorter chafing tray, but no luck. Narrowly avoided being car #2 in a five-car-pile-up, when some idiot cut across three lanes of traffic and then couldn't get into the turn lane so he came to a complete stop perpendicularly in my lane -- in a 50mph zone -- thank God the motorcycle behind me and the semi-truck beside him both reacted quickly or it would've been ugly.

Hit Ace Hardware for screws, a bar sink for the play kitchen, upholstery cleaner... they don't sell likker, or I'd have grabbed some at that point.

We did make it to Penny's, where I returned my latest Really Bad Purchase. (Jeans. When I bought them, I wasn't sure about them, but I was semi-desperate. So I brought them home and tried them on for Zorak. I didn't even have them zipped before he said, "No. Take them off. No. Bad fit.")... he liked the other pair, though, so I figured I'd just switch out while we were at the mall.

The kids bought our Christmas guest a microwave omelet maker. (They'd wanted the egg poacher, but saw the omelet maker and just *had* to do that, instead. "Because, really, an omelet is a more substantial meal, Mom.") Naturally, right?

Then I tried to run the gauntlet to Belk, at the other end of the mall, for the jeans-that-fit. But they have a Merry-Go-Round, and that aggressive lady hawking some kind of nail product (she's awfully Mediterranean Market Touchy, too. Dang.), and the fountain, and the candy store, and...

I got within 20 yards of Belk and gave up. I kid you not. We turned around, hit the Merry-Go-Round, and left the mall. No screaming, no fits, no problems, but I just didn't have anything left and realized if I pushed, I'd end up taking it out on the kids, who didn't exactly ask to run errands in the first place. I'm still somewhat pantless, but also guiltless for the day, so it's a win. (Score!)

We came home and baked and baked and baked, cleaned and baked and cleaned.

And now... I'm tahred.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, December 22

And then there was baking!

Today, we baked. Fancy Fingers, Bon Bon Slices, Pushbuttons, and some thing that Emily got a hold of before we finished with it, so we baked it like that and called it good. Oh, and James made a Devil's Food cake for Scouts, too.

I took no pictures, because when you are in a kitchen with five children, a hot oven, and myriad open containers of various tempting and/or messy substances (and gravity! there's always gravity!) the last thing you want to do is get out of arm's reach long enough to snap a photograph. However, I also did not drink, and I did not swear, so it's not all bad. I didn't even raise my voice!

And I only made Emily cry once, but that wasn't even on me. I just asked her to get down for a second and she burst into tears. When I asked her why she was crying, she paused, and said, "I'm not sure." *rolling eyes* Oooohhhhkay. Well, then you need to stop, because that's just... weird. She stopped, got down, we got into the drawer we needed to get into, and she was soon happily back in the loop and feeling the love.

Since Zorak and James were at Scouts, and I was still kind of tired from the not doing things today (that... sounded more reasonable in my head), we had a lazy man's evening: leftovers, cookies, and a movie. I started the movie with Jason in my lap, then laid him in his crib and moved Em over onto my lap. She was out in minutes, at which point Smidge climbed over with this Snuggie. I never did get around to starting a fire, and didn't even realize the house was chilly until I sent Smidge to bed! Kids are such fantastic insulators.

And the countdown continues!
Kiss those babies!

Monday, December 21

Oops. Well, the Ten Days of Christmas, then.

I know I missed two full days of blogging, but was too busy and/or tired to fix that.

Saturday, we had company, and it was so nice. Me-Wa and Me-Tae came out to see the kiddos and visit. (We just don't get to see them often enough.) Zorak smoked pork chops and salmon for a delicious lunch. The guys hung out and Me-Tae and I got to visit a bit. The children were in and out, up and down, all over the place. They couldn't have been happier if we'd had Santa himself over for lunch. And then, they got to open their presents from Me-Wa and Me-Tae: Snuggies! Best pick, ever. The kids have lived in them since.

EmBaby even mentioned on the way to church Sunday that she should have brought her Snuggie with her. (Yeah, that'll help you stay awake, huh?)

We had another guest Saturday, as well -- a gentleman Zorak works with. Nice guy. He's been here since August, and his family is still back in Missouri. That's a tough gig, and I know he'll be thrilled when school is out and his family can join him. I'm guessing he was comfortable here, as he stayed until four o'clock. Sunday morning.

Seven-thirty and the Sunday Morning Routine came awfully early, after that. Zorak mumbled something about being tough when I fell out of bed and scrambled for some clothes and a toothbrush. (Or maybe he said, "That's tough." I'm not certain.) I tried to talk the kids out of going, but they were already dressed and ready to go. Not even the allure of baking cookies could talk them out of it. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe we're raising them a little too well. Seriously, what kid wouldn't rather stay home and bake cookies?? Goofballs.

Sunday afternoon, the boys had a friend from Scouts over. Great kid. Not even like having an extra body in the house. His Mom was really worried that he'd do Something Stoopid (I think we all worry about that, when our kids are somewhere without us), but really, even if he had (and they all do, at some point - that's why they can't live on their own yet), it wouldn't have been that bad. He's just a neat, neat boy, and the kids all enjoy one another so much. The big kids were great with the Littles, but sometimes it's nice to play Twister or Chess without random full-body tackles and mid-leg take-downs. So EmBaby, Jase and I made cookies that afternoon.

The little boy stayed for supper, and that night, the kids went to bed exhausted, filled with contentment and joy. So did Zorak and I.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, December 19

Project Blogging: Christmas '09

The kids worked like Roman galley slaves all morning, took a break at lunch to watch a movie and hang out a bit, and then went back to the rowing-rowing-rowing. They laughed and worked, ate like fiends, and crashed like the dead come bedtime. I appreciated their work today, as we got the house ready for Christmas and company.

Sometimes, (like right now), when two-thirds of the house is clean all at one time, I feel like we've accomplished so much here. Other times, (like when someone comes to visit for the first time), I look around and see only *all that remains to be done*.

And then, there are times when we're discussing one project, which is dependent upon another project, and that's tied to a third (or fourth, or fifth) project... and I realize, we will never be done. I guess that's a good thing. It'll feel better in the morning, I'm sure.

Tonight we worked a bit more on the play kitchen. Then we worked a bit on the wall in the basement. Yep, brand new project, six days before Christmas, when there are still myriad other things to be done upstairs, in the climate-controlled portion of the house. On the surface, it seems silly, I know. But in the Grand Scheme of Things, that wall will make a number of other projects (some of which await upstairs, yes) so much easier. And so, we do it.

The plan is to build a wall separating the water heater & HVAC unit from the rest of the basement. This will alleviate some visual clutter. It will also give us a Christmas Closet. It will create an entire 20' wall with electrical outlets, and a guaranteed space for sewing and other projects. AND, it will give us (because we designed it that way) a little half-bath in the basement. But of course, in keeping with tradition, the half-bath will remain an unfinished room which we'll use for storage, for the foreseeable future.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, December 18

... in which we live to cook again.

We survived the delicious, untested turkey! And I picked up meat thermometers at Sam's. We are such a bunch of nerds, though. My first thought was not, "Oh, these are excellent thermometers!" My first thought was, "Ohhh, fun, you can self-calibrate them!" When I got home, the first thing James said was, "Oh, COOL, you can calibrate these, yourself!" Yep, he's ours.

I checked in with the dentist for my every-three-months cleaning. Everything's coming along nicely. Yay. It's hard to be too sure of yourself about cleanings going well, when you know you were just there not even one full oil change ago, you know? But the hygienist dotes on me and raves about what a great job I'm doing, and it seems to make her happy. That's good. (I'm thinking it's probably also good not to get on your hygienist's bad side.)

This evening, we did the Full Family Excursion into town, so the kids could shop for each other.

Mainly the boys. They love to give gifts. They really enjoy the excitement of finding something somebody will Truly Love. That is so much fun to be a part of!

Emily is good with going, but right now, she's all about buying things that she can have and use and love and share (but keep in her room, of course). That does make it easy to shop for her, since you know upfront, and for two more aisles, what she really falls in love with.

And Jase is pretty laid back, if you have him tethered to something. For the most part, he rides along, mumbling to himself (probably contemplating how to undo the buckle on the seat). The only trouble arises we bypass anything with SpongeBob on it. I contemplated letting him hold the SpongeBob Connect Four box so we could shop in peace, but thought the aneurysm that would follow when we put it back would have scarred him for life. If he survived it. Better frayed nerves for the parents than a frayed central nervous system for the rest of his life, right?

They found some gems. We grabbed supper at Five Guys. Then we waddled home and wrapped up the day. Santa worked in his shop. Santa's elves enjoyed some stories and made plans for tomorrow. Mrs. Claus hit the jackpot and got a fire before bed, as well as some extra snuggle time with Little Elves whose brains wouldn't shut off and let them sleep.

Zorak was right, so far, this has been the most enjoyable Holiday Season we've ever had.

Kiss those babies,

Wednesday, December 16

Just a Wednesday

The kids had music today, which meant a trip into Town. Since it's such a haul into Town (no, it's not really, but it feels like it is), we try to hit as much as possible while we're there. That means groceries, car wash, random weird errands.

It worked quite well back when the boys were in piano for an hour, but now that we're on the Quirky Cheap Parent Schedule (hyphenate as you see fit), and they alternate piano/guitar each week, they're only there for half an hour. This only leaves me time to... um, well, grab a McCafe or something and then go back to the music store. Em no longer naps during this time, but Jase is usually out before we cross Flint River, and stays that way until the boys clamber back in the car, so I'm not up for waking him, just to haul him into the building full of breakable expensive things. As you can see, we're still working out the details of the new schedule.

Generally, I have a Master List of things to accomplish, and imaginary highlighter marks on the ones I *hope* to accomplish. We hurry and scurry and go-go-go, only to get home and discover I need a new highlighter or something, because I've completely spaced a good quarter of the things on the hopefuls list. Today it was a meat thermometer. And somehow, although I've gone 37 years without one (generally preferring my meat to be nowhere near well-done, at all), we suddenly NEEDED one. Because Zorak smoked his first turkey, and the whole poultry thing, combined with using what amounts to an inefficient oven perched on your front porch, in the middle of the day... yeah, a thermometer would have been rather comforting today.

However, it was a small turkey. The smoker stays at 200 degrees, and it'd been going all day. Plus, we didn't have any guests. So, we decided to go for it. (If I don't blog for a few days, you'll know how that went.) It did taste delicious, though!

The boys picked pan-fried potatoes and steamed broccoli for the sides. (We've been playing around with Kosher Salt lately, after watching Alton Brown rave about it, and nom! nom! it does wonders for cooking!)

We ate at the coffee table, watched Open Season 2, and enjoyed the somewhat tenuous fruits of our labor. (Royal "our", of course. I pretty much had nothing to do with it, other than bailing on the thermometer.)

We're planning our Christmas meal, and Zorak thinks he'd like to smoke a turkey for one of the main dishes. That sounds good. And I've got a new list going, with one item on it, already.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, December 15

Quick Day.

It's still today - either technically, or practically, I'm not sure which. But, I haven't gone to bed yet, so this totally counts.

We had a freakishly gorgeous day yesterday, so everybody hightailed it outside to enjoy the sun and the warmth. The kids built a "fort" in the back yard. They worked together, and nobody was left out. They hauled the limbs themselves. They made it big enough for everybody to fit. It was Very Cool, on levels that had nothing to do with the fort, itself.

I didn't have the heart to point out that they spent all summer hauling those very limbs *out* of the back yard. Maybe we can just burn them there, when the fort falls down?

Zorak Claus is working on building a play kitchen for the EmBaby. He made the oven door and the broiler drawer tonight, and they are so adorable they make my knees ache. The kids and I will stop by the restaurant supply place tomorrow to see if they have any small rectangular chafing trays that might work for a sink. Really, the kitchen itself will be wonderful, but we're most excited to enjoy *her* reaction to it. Those big beautiful eyes just disappear behind her cheeks when they bunch up in a great big smile. I hope I can capture it on film, but if not, I'm sure I can be excused for just wallowing in it.

The UPS lady came today. John dutifully put the boxes beside my bed without so much as glancing at the sender's address. No worries that the older two will try to peek. But that little stack of boxes is about to drive Smidge out of his happy little mind. Normally, we'd buy presents in person, hide them in the bathroom/storage room, and nobody had to think about them until Christmas Eve, when Zorak and I stayed up late wrapping them and watching bad movies. But now there's a room where the storage used to be, and we've done our shopping online, and so there they are... little Amazon boxes smiling, winking at him, every time he goes into our room (which does seem to be more frequent lately).

And then, because it took me ages and ages to get the pictures off my camera, and then another age and a half to edit them, here's a shot of the Alabama Snow Angels:

Yep, we got snow. And they played and played - snowboy hood ornaments (not quite fully grown snowmen) - teeny tiny snowballs - and then, the snow angels. It was gone by noon, but they were already inside, enjoying graham crackers and hot chocolate by the fire. These kids know how to enjoy a little of a good thing!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, December 14

Twelve Days of Christmas

I know. I'm late already. Or unreasonably early, depending on when you opt to observe them. But my goal is to blog daily for twelve days straight. Not exactly a habit-making goal, but... well, considering Smidge is standing here, talking to me while I type, and that they've been like this (all of them. I do mean ALL of them...) for the last month and a half, it looks like I'm going to have to suck it up and learn to write while people talk to me.

We're in the throes of Christmas preparations. Really, it's going well. I think. Won't really have any idea until Christmas Eve, when I'm wrapping presents and discover I've completely forgotten gifts for one child, or bought R-rated movies for the toddler, or something equally absurd. But for now, I'm feeling good.

I'd hoped to do cards this year. But we all fell ill immediately upon returning from our Thanksgiving trip, and it took us two full weeks to recover from that. So, no-go on the cards. Didn't even do my annual routine of sending the file to Target so they could mess it up for me. This year, it's all on me.

The tree, however, is up, the garland is hung (I have yet to find the extension cords to light up the garland, so it's dark, but still, it's up). We got that done and EmBaby looked around and announced, "OK! We're ready for Christmas now!" The boys pointed out that we have yet to make any of our regular edible goodies. I thought about the gifts I hadn't bought yet. Zorak refused to make eye contact because he knew what I was thinking. We all clapped and cheered, anyway, figuring we could make it up as we go.

And, that's what we've been doing all month! I got most of the gifts bought before inspiration truly struck. Then Zorak said Granny had called to let us know she was sending shopping money for gifts. Total bonus - Granny's going to do REALLY WELL this year, since all the truly inspired gifts are coming from her.

How about you guys? Are you ready for Christmas? (Or Solstice? Or, how was your Hanukkah?)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, November 23

And now, for something completely different...

I know, just when I think I've got time to write, we slip off for a trip to the beach! Sheesh, why don't I own a laptop? Someone needs to talk to Santa about this. I've been shockingly good this year. (Actually, I've been pretty pampered, too. I've got warm slippers and a flattering swimsuit. Not that I wear at the same time, of course, but still... I have them.)

Anyway, we took a gazillion pictures, but it's a little after midnight, and I've just now gotten the last of the sand out of the camera (and then I wonder why it doesn't work properly?) and don't have time to edit them before my eyes start to cross. So, I'll share a few SOOC shots and call it good.

Jason, of course, hit the sand running. And kept running. Straight into the water. And kept running. Didn't even slow down until the water came up over his head. I spent the next three days repeatedly hauling him up out of the water. Me-Wa and Me-Tae will be glad to know, however, we didn't lose him once to gravity, momentum, or dolphins. In all, that's a successful trip!

The water was cold (for those of us who don't live in the Midwest or the Northeast, that is), but did the kids mind? Not one bit. The key, it seems, is to keep moving. Lots of -ing going on: running, jumping, squealing. Plenty of -ing, just none of it tacked on to words like "relax" or "calm". We had a fantastic time. A busy time. (It's so good to be home!)

And that's the end for the night!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, November 14

Kefir, The Learning Curve

I'm filing this under "Not Quite Gardening". I mean, okay, it's nowhere near gardening. But the Kefir is, technically alive, so it's kind of like having livestock. But I don't have a livestock category. Actually, it feels more like we're raising Sea Monkeys. But since we've never had much luck with those, we're calling them livestock. And we're filing it under gardening. (Yeah, you should see our filing system for bills!)

So, we got some milk kefir grains, and some water kefir grains. And we got them set up and doing their thing in the sunny spot on the counter. (I feel compelled to point out that this is *not* what ours look like. This is a generic kefir-picture. You don't want to see what ours looks like right now.) And then we forgot about them for a few days. Or, I should say, a few days longer than we're supposed to forget about them. Not that they just sat there. The boys picked them up and swirled them about every time they entered or left the kitchen. (I found myself wondering if this may be what went wrong with the Sea Monkeys.) But we didn't strain it when we should have strained it.

And so, yesterday, I strained. And strained. And tried not to breathe through my mouth. (Because honestly, I don't really enjoy the way things smell in their natural state. I like the way fish doesn't smell at the store. I like the way processed vitamins don't smell like a cow puked in the bottle. And, I like things that do not smell... fermented. Even if they are... fermented. Which is why I prefer wine to beer.) And strained some more.

At this point, it would be SO handy if I had any clue what I'm doing. But I don't. If you use kefir, please comment. Please fill me in. You can laugh, I don't care (we did!) But HELP!

We have "kefir", in the milk-form, that one would traditionally *cringe* drink straight up. But this is strong, so I'm hoping this next batch will mellow it out a bit. (Can I cook with this? Put it in bread? Or would that be mass kefircide?) The grains are back in fresh milk, and there's some thick stuff that we are bound and determined to turn into a dip of some sort. (Garlic makes everything better.)

And then, we have the kefir water. To which, we added grape juice to make kefir soda. My gag reflex is still going strong. The kids, however, *loved* it! Drank almost all of it over lunch. It's good for them. They like it. Life is good. Even when the learning curve is really, really steep.

Kiss those babies!

I love this time of year.

Fall keeps me sane. There's just no other way to put it. The nights are cool enough to need comforting blankets. The days are nice enough to wallow in the out-of-doors. It's like emerging from a horrible, damp, hot blanket after Summer. Like storing up on sunshine for the grey, wet, cold winter months. (And yes, it does seem to be a water-related issue. I grew up where water, if there was any, was 500 feet under ground, and you had to really want it to find it. Here, it's everywhere. It's wonderful, in the ground. In the air, eh, we're still adjusting.)

Zorak and James are camping tonight. James' first campout with his new Troop. He's elated. Zorak seems to be hanging in there fairly well. It's hard to put your child out there, in a group with such a huge age gap (he's 11, and the other boys are ALL 15-17). Even when they're great kids (and these boys are - they're awesome), it's stil... there's a lot of room for... yeah. It's just a little on the tingly-knee side for Zorak, I think. They'll both be fine. Probably be pretty cold by about 2AM. But in general? In the grand scheme of things? I think they're going to have a blast and do just fine. Both of them. (Still, watching your children venture out on new highwires, over faster rivers, deeper ravines, bigger life... I'm glad we have each other to hold onto.)

John, who wanted with every fiber of his being to GO, to Be There, to CampOut, was so good about it. He didn't whine or mope. He was great about helping James get his stuff rounded up. Enthusiastic about the dry run on the tent (on the balcony - I love that - no leaves or dirt to contend with when you're done). And they had a very heartwarming-moment-turned-squirrelly-grab-ass bit of sibling familiarity as James headed out the door. (Boys are so weird about that, sometimes.)

But you could tell he really wanted to be going, too. So, we decided to have a fun Alternate Weekend, here:

~ Movies John wants to see that James would rather not. (And, of course, a Princess movie for EmBaby, and a not-a-princess-movie for Jake. It was an all-inclusive movie rental trip.)

~ Dinner at the coffee table.

~ Bedtime Story, all of us piled on the couch, instead of everybody in their beds.

~ Fresh cinnamon rolls tomorrow, watching the sun rise and the thermometer creep up. We may toast the warmth with hot chocolate. ;-)

~ Time together, just the five of us, hanging out and doing things a little differently.

I kind of like the change in routine, and the break. (And I'm really thankful I didn't have to go.) But I do remember wanting so badly to go somewhere that I couldn't. Sure, learning to be OK with that comes with maturity, and with time. But sometimes, it's nice to know somebody understands and remembers what it was like to go back inside after the truck pulled away. And sometimes, it's nice to have someone help you learn that it's not so bad to be left out of one thing, when there are other things awaiting you just around the corner. Plus, it may be the start of a nice new tradition. After all, in nine years, it'll be Jason looking longingly as his siblings file out the door, one after another, and the house he goes back into will be quieter, lonelier, and a bit different than it is now. It'll be good to know that some good things stay the same.

Like Autumn leaves. And great weather. And people who love you.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, November 12

A Digital Peek

The weather's been so absolutely magnificent here, and the children are starting to remember that this weather precedes the oh-help-me-why-isn't-the-compost-bin-right-outside-the-kitchen-door weather, so we've all been out there, wallowing in it. Good stuff.

There was a time we all stayed pretty much together, inside or out. Now, however, Jase just doesn't want to be where anybody else is. (Perhaps it's part of being 5/5? I don't know. Maybe he's just the next Lewis. Or Clark. Or that guy who runs across North America for no apparent reason.) So, we go outside, and disperse. I follow Jason like a ravenous hawk follows a bunny. The rest of them... do whatever it is they do.

They're usually pretty predictable. James gets on his pogo stick and tries to break his latest record. John sets up the archery bales and tries to improve his aim. Em and Jake take off for the back yard to conquer the high seas, or stave off dragons, or something interesting. Sometimes they all have a few rounds on the Vomitor 2000. Sometimes, they just find a comfy place to watch bugs and have snacks. (I do sincerely hope the two are not even remotely related.) But they all gravitate back together, in the end. They like to be together. Often, one of them will snag the camera. I never know what I'll find when I upload pictures.

But it's usually pretty interesting.

And it's almost always fun. I love seeing what was important enough to them to capture an image of -- what the distilled version of their day looked like.

(Those are John's jalapenos, in Earth Boxes from Aunt B. They're last things still producing from this year's garden. We're trying to recruit him to full-time Resident Farmer status for next year. He's good!)

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, November 10

Tree, again...

Well, none of the berry shots turned out. That's not terribly helpful. Here's a long shot of the tree, with the boys standing beside it, for scale.

Kiss those babies!

Mobile Blogging

Nevermind. Shortly after I wrote this, they showed up! Please look below to see if you have any idea what these berries are! I'm off to send more pictures (probably sideways) of the berries themselves.

I never feel as old as when I'm trying to do something new with technology. *sigh*

Trying to upload some pictures for the Lazy Man's Plant Identification. The boys came running up a few weeks ago with berries. Bless them, the first thing out of their mouths was, "Look what we found! We didn't eat any!" They just might survive growing up out here.

We got pictures, but they're on my phone. I have a pretty cool phone that could blow up small parts of Russia with the proper combinations. Sadly, I'm feeling pretty good when I can answer an incoming call with the thing.

Been trying to set up the mobile blog and claim it and so forth. Blogger Help looked clear cut. I thought I'd done everything I needed to do... and yet, there are no pictures of mystery trees on here, now. Anywhere.

Somehwere, someone has just received anonymous texts with images of leaves and tree bark, instructions to "kiss those babies". And quite possibly there's been an explosion just outside a small town in Siberia. I'll keep working on it.

Kiss those babies!

The Bark from the Berries Below.

And, still sideways (I wish I could remember which direction to hold the phone to make them upright!)

This shows the bark...

Kiss those babies!

Look! Berries!

Well, it worked. It's also on its side, and I have no idea how to change that...

This tree grows in the lower meadow. It's tall and thin, and is covered in berries. There's not a stitch of red on it, so we ruled out chokeberries.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, November 9

Happy Halloween, 2009!

We had a wild crew this year!

The kids took a huge role in creating their costumes this year. It was so much fun to see their own characters and strengths come through in their designs. We had...

The Butterfly Princess, who put together her entire ensemble, herself. Yes, even the boots.

The Headless Horseman, who came up with some fantastic ways to make it happen.

El Conquistador, who took over, well, not quite Florida, but most of Morgan County.

Our latest Harry Potter... oh, he's breaking my heart! When did he get so tall and slender?

And, the Running Man.

OK, also a turtle, but although the outfit was cute as can be, it took an act of God to get him into that thing, even for a little bit.

It was good. Costume bits are still part of the daily attire. Somehow, in spite of being given free rein with the candy, they've still got scads of it left. And, they had FUN. It was, indeed, a Happy Halloween.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, November 8

And then, all at once...

Wednesday was my surgery. This was the dental surgery that we've been putting off, saving for, then putting off some more, for a year and a half. Yeah, nothing like letting your dual natures duke it out while you stand back to see what happens, right?

For me, it was less harrowing than I'd feared. Significantly so. Kudos to general anesthesia and Percocet! For Zorak, it was... probably about as bad as he feared. I'm not sure. I still catch him looking at me occasionally like I'm a half-starved, Parvo-stricken puppy he found in a back alley (which, to be completely honest, freaks me out, because I *feel* fine... until I see him looking at me like that).

I stayed contentedly drugged up for the first two days, then eased up so I could function and remember when to take what. (MUCH easier to do if you're not leaning too heavily on the pain killers, and I have enough respect for chemical reactions not to taunt the Clotting Gods by drinking alcohol.) Even so, the rest of that week is a bit of a blur.

The doctors were wonderful about filling me in on what to expect, from the swelling, to the fact that the surgery was extensive enough to alter the shape of my face. The swelling was quite impressive, and somewhere around day five, I began to worry that perhaps the Manimal snout was the new shape of my face. (Thankful for health, and bone grafting and technology, but there were a few Panicky Vanity moments. I'm not going to lie!) The doctor was able to do all that he'd hoped to do, so that was good, and the follow-up visits I've had indicate things are healing well. I am also happy to say that I'm free of cheezy, early-80's special effects.

In the meantime, Halloween and all its attendant activities were in full swing. The boys got to give their outfits another round at the Reformation Party at church. This was the first year for it, and it was, from all accounts and pictures, a fantastic success. Pastor's wife put it together as a spur of the moment thing, and she did an amazing job. I'd give body parts to have her organizational skills and talent for party hosting! Next year, we'll plan ahead more and she'll have more help.

Then, Halloween. Good stuff. Busy stuff. I slept. Also good stuff.

The kids shared all their softer candies with me - peanut butter cups, mostly. So sweet, and so thoughtful. (Also, so tasty!)

And, that pretty much brings us up to the present! I'll post pictures separately, because they don't want to be in with the surgery re-cap.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, November 1

More Mackerel...

Right, so, as you can see, things were not moving along swimmingly. Thank God, Me-Wa had come down to stay with the children so we could go to the hospital. And now, here we were, sun-up, day's a'starting, and... oh, wow... *yawn* So tired. Me-Wa headed home. Zorak and I looked at each other and tried to focus long enough to figure out what to do.

John needed to see the dentist that morning to have a recalcitrant baby tooth forcibly removed. (He'd been waiting for this appointment for ages, and rescheduling with his dentist is hard, because his dentist is possibly the most coveted pediatric dentist in North America. So, when you can get it, you get in.) I needed to see the urologist. Both Zorak and I needed some rest. Neither of us had slept since Monday.

Zorak took John to the dentist and the kids to music.

I went to the urologist. He gave me a couple of prescriptions for oral antibiotics, and then a shot of Rosephin. Oh, holy mother of holy things! Even loaded with lidocaine, and administered by an amazingly skilled nurse, that is one Painful Everlovin' Shot! A week and a half later, I will still whimper and cry if you so much as look at my right hip. Is there no room for technology to perhaps take a look at this particular drug? I mean, I am thankful for it, but wowsa- it should come with a recommendation for a 3-week supply of cheap vodka and a leather thong to bite down on at random intervals. Ow.

Thursday (the 22nd), we recovered a bit. I think the kids played video games and ate leftovers. Not sure, and they haven't mentioned anything. So, *shrug* there's that.

Friday (the 23rd) - LB arrived!! The house was not ready, groceries not done, guest room only moderately put together (thankfully, Zorak pulled it off while I drove to the airport). But, you know, we'd lost Wednesday, which is when we were going to put it all together. She understood. And let me stop at WalMart for potatoes and a vacuum on the way home.

Saturday (the 24th) - mostly just picking up pre-surgery supplies and preparing for Jason's baptism.

Sunday (the 25th) - Baptised Jason. Camera still was not working, so we're waiting for pictures from others. I'll post them when I get them.

Monday/Tuesday (the 26-27), more preparation for the surgery, grocery shopping, going over the school schedule with LB, and finishing up the kids' Halloween costumes. James was the headless horseman; John, a Conquistador; Jake our latest Harry Potter; EmBaby put together a darling "butterfly princess" costume, all on her own; Jase was a soft-shelled turtle. (He had a darling turtle outfit, but would only wear it rarely.)

James' Webelos II Den finally had its Arrow of Light Ceremony. He's been attending the Boy Scout Troop, but is now officially recognized to call himself "A Boy Scout". Proud night for the kiddo. They also had the boys wear their costumes. All had a great time. Too much adorableness in one room, man. Just. Too. Cute.

And that night, we went to bed, ready as we were going to be for the big dental surgery. But that's another post.

Kiss those babies!

Holy Mackerel!

Just when we thought we had it all under control, we got hit with the gentle (*snort*) reminder that we're not really at the helm. Sometimes I feel that if life came with an instruction manual, the "Quick Start User's Guide" would look something like this:

1. Kiss those babies
2. Say your prayers
3. Hold on tight

Obviously, there's more to it than that, but that's what it takes to get started, isn't it? And sometimes, to keep going.

We've got to back up a bit. Let's see, I got sick Sunday (the 18th). Thought it was nothing big. Nothing a little rest and some cranberry and water couldn't fix. Stayed home from church to pound the liquids. (Didn't help.)

Monday (the 19th), I thought I had cramps (sorry - no cute or euphemistic way to put it), and we learned we have what Melissa calls, "A Runner". Yep, we now have one that, given the chance, will bolt swiftly and silently, leaving the whole ball of wax for one glorious shot at freedom. Thankfully, he is safe and came to no harm. My knees still hurt just thinking of it. However, he is now on a lock-down the likes of which no child in this house has ever seen. He will probably never be allowed to watch Blade Runner, or Logan's Run until he moves out, or can explain where he's going. And we spent a harrowing week, holding our breath, keeping the house Company Clean, in fear of a visit from The Authorities. Adrenaline does wonders for pain relief, by the way.

Tuesday (the 20th), I realized I wasn't fighting a mild UTI and cramps, and started to worry that this was, perhaps, appendicitis. That's a scary thought. (It was a scary pain.) Nothing touched it - not asprin, not hot baths, not the gazillion gallons of water and cranberry I imbibed, not the hot pad, not massage; not walking, not laying, nor rocking nor crying. At that point, with the severity of the pain and the lack of relief, we called the nurse line and she recommended I be seen "within six hours". Blink Off to the ER, where I was diagnosed with, but not treated for, a rather severe kidney infection, and blood, most likely caused by a blockage. We're voting for "stone sludge", as whatever it was, it passed during the five-hour wait in the ER. Yes, FIVE HOURS. And yes, they had a sample. Oh. My. Word.

It seems that the confirmed presence of a raging infection (the lab was quick), a "9" on the pain scale (figure there's always room for it to hurt worse, right?), chills and swelling just don't cut the triage scale if you have somehow managed not to spike a fever. The poor Triage Nurse took my temperature every way she could think of, but there was no fever. No fever, no check mark. No check mark, no spot at the front of the line. She was very apologetic about it, and begged me to stay, because, obviously, there was something Very Wrong. But still, back to the lobby.

What's with that, anyway? Nevermind. I am currently trying not to think of the myriad reasons I had no fever. Just. Not. ThinkingAboutIt. If I'd known, however, that they would not give me antibiotics at the end of that wait, to be honest, I'd have gone home to writhe in the comfort of my own floor while waiting for the urologist's office to open. Away from the lady who likes to hang out in the ER, being obnoxious to other patients; away from the guy who came in for a cough; away from the three other guys who came in to hang out, catch a nap, and then move on. As it was, we got home a little after 7AM Wednesday morning, mildly re-hydrated and just a little bit stoned on pain killers.

Wednesday was supposed to be our Preparation Day. The day we washed the car, did the groceries, made up the guest room, finished the basement work, took the kids to music and did all the things one normally does on a Wednesday. Or something like that. Obviously, that's not how it went down. I'll fill you in on that, tomorrow. It just hasn't slowed down in the least.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, October 7

The Days Roll By

We probably ought to start a new project soon. It's been terribly quiet, here. Actually, the guys did build an HD antenna the other night. It's mounted on the wall (and needs some aesthetic support...) but now we get a few channels on TV. I celebrated last night by falling asleep watching My Name is Earl.

Scouts is a little wonky, at the moment. Everybody who is supposed to move up to a Boy Scout Troop has been holding off to see where the Den Leader and his son are going to go (so that they can all go elsewhere). The entire Den. In retaliation, he's refusing to declare until everybody else does. So, we have all these boys in limbo, who should be in Boy Scouts, but are, instead, stuck at the Pack meetings. *sigh* Last night, we broke the standoff and declared our Troop and made arrangements for James' crossing over ceremony. What we didn't do was mention that it's a one-year trial, and if this guy ends up being "the adult in charge" at any point, we are out of there. The leaders of the Troop know our stance. We'll see how that works out.

In the meantime, the Cub Pack is really growing and changing, now that this guy has released his hold on it. The Pack Master has grown into his new role so beautifully, and all the parents are stepping up to assist him and support him. I think the Little Guys are in for a Spectacular Year.
Smidge loves being a Tiger! I love the Tigers! Oh, my, they are adorable. And enthusiastic. And cute. And just oh-so-precious. And did I mention adorable? It really is like a big ol' litter of fuzzy little puppies, all tumbling about together. Except they don't bite your toes, or pee on your lap. And they're funny! So really, they're better than puppies. Plus, they grow up into fine young men, and that is encouraging, as well.

We've got a busy day ahead of us. The boys start guitar lessons today, I think. (I hope. It's one of those things that crept up on me.) Groceries and cleaning out the car and working a bit more in the basement. It doesn't sound like much, but it's all good stuff. A clean car feels fantastic. Food is always good. Always. And the basement is rather exciting because Zorak initiated this particular project, so I have hope it will stick! The boys have already made great use of their new work area, and they're loving the new "space".

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, October 6

Fantastic Fall Days

This is the best time of year, down here! Spring's a close second, but this is pure Heaven.

The boys are outside, trying to find the "best" way to make yourself sick on the tire swing. James' favorite, so far, is to lie face down on the tire and have someone twist the rope to its max capacity. It works well enough to make me queasy from the front porch! Ugh.

The Littles are roaming about, finding new fungi that have sprung up in the past week. There are still flowers in bloom, here and there, and EmBaby keeps us in kitchen bouquets every day. What a beautiful use for flowers!

I'm inside solely because Zorak actually mentioned last night what he'd like for supper tonight, but I cannot, for the life of me, now remember what it is. Yes, I know the answer is more likely to be found in the kitchen than the computer. But I had cooker's cramp, so I came to decompress a bit before trying again.

We got so far behind on the extras in the peripheral of our life while we were finishing the house, and as much as I'd love to say we got right back on that train, well, we're not really "runners" and the train was going rather quickly, and... and... yeah. Things are still popping up to catch me completely off guard - like Cub Scout Camporee *this weekend* - and we were supposed to go camping with friends sometime *this month* - and books! - and switching the boys' music schedule to squeeze in guitar lessons - and probably getting a guitar - and now it's only three weeks out from the Big Surgery - and ACK! Sometimes, I really wish I was a drinker. At least then, I'd have an excuse.

But, barring an out-of-the-blue drinking binge, which would be really difficult to explain later, or severe head trauma, which I'd just rather not even entertain the possibility of dealing with, I guess that leaves us with the tried and true, "Suck it up and get moving" approach. It's no fun, but it is effective. And consistent. (So why does it make me want to throw a little bitty tantrum and yell, "I don't wanna!" - how's that going to help?)

CHICKEN SOUP! Aha! That's what he wanted! I think. Maybe. Well, we have the ingredients for it. And the weather's perfect. And it'll let me get on with putting the rest of the things in order. So, yes, that's what we'll be doing.

OK, time to chop! (And hey, the kids just wandered in, looking blissfully unaware that they're about to be put to work! Heh. Love that.)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, October 5

My-my-my-myyyyy Papaya!

John butchered a song, just for me, while we were making the fruit salad Saturday! I'm so glad I let them "help" in the kitchen back when they weren't much actual help. Now they really are a riot in the kitchen, and they like being there.

We had the boys' belated birthday cookout last night. We had rain for ages. Then it cleared up, with stray downpours on the various days we tried to have the cookout. I chose my words poorly at some point in the planning process, by referring to the get-together as a "BBQ", at which point, James decided we had to use the grill. So. There's that. (I can't complain. I'm the genius who's always telling them to be precise in their language. Obviously, I need to be a little more precise about "Mom's limitations" from time-to-time, no?) Finally, however, Saturday dawned dry and clear and glorious.

It was a small group, and a little disorganized (which is sort of our signature *sigh*), but a really wonderful time, regardless (hopefully, also, at least a little, reminiscent of "us"). They got to play with their friends, and see Uncle Wil, and shoot off fireworks and enjoy a small bonfire. Both James and Smidge feel duly celebrated, now. Good stuff.

We served fish tacos (those hamburger baskets for the grill work beautifully for fish, by the way -- we may be the last people to know that, but in case we aren't, now you know), tropical fruit salad (fresh papaya tastes SO much better than dried papaya! WOW!), beans (of course. If you're eating at our house, there will be beans. Always.), rice (again, sometimes we are just. so. predictable.) and homemade carrot cake (because there just isn't a mix that makes it worth it to not have to shred that many carrots).

The boys helped with the cake decorating by making the molded carrots to put on the cake. Oh, too cute! Thankfully, because they'd been working in the kitchen all morning, their hands were washed repeatedly and well by the time we got to the Making of the Carrots.

I'm still stuffed. They're still glowing. And it's raining again. :-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, October 1

Virtual Friday

Tomorrow, Zorak is off for the day, and so are we. Well, from school. There's still work to be done, wood to be hauled, equipment to be moved. But, in theory, we're off for the day. Which means today we must bust a hump and really make some progress.

It's been a slow week. It's been one of those weeks where you look at the children making origami (drawing pictures, having swordfights) and you think, "I'm pretty sure the math we JUST went over isn't done yet."

No sooner have you made the rounds, getting everybody back on task, only to return to your original spot to find the beginnings of a paper crane...

a stunningly complex rendition of Harry Potter Meets Captain Nemo...

and clue in to what's happening, just in time to duck a particularly wild sword thrust.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Feed them. Get back to the repeating part.

Collapse into a heap around ten PM, with a glass of wine and a pile of peanut butter cups. Watch as many episodes of Chuck as you can before your spouse starts making snarky comments about how he could be an inept spy, too, if it would help.

The down side is that you get to get up and do it all. over. again.

The up side is that you DO get to get up and do it all over again.

Today, I'm taking the sword to the crane for "history". But I think we may just call the drawings "art". I'm out of wine.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, September 30

Under Threat of Harm, The Year Of Joy Recap

I'm blogging! I'm blogging! (I'm starting to get scary phone calls and emails!) So, do you remember that 2009 is slated in my book as "The Year of Joy"? Since it's hard to blog with all that pressure *aherm*, I thought maybe a quick recap of where the Year of Joy has gone thus far would be in order. It's not over, yet, but it is flying by!

It began with a bit of a bang - the whole Stranded in the Boonies with the 20- something% Sales Tax thing. An impacted wisdom tooth (and its extraction), and then a doctor whose nonprofessional attitude cost us a *lot* of money and time, getting to the root of the problem.

The Suburban finally died a cranky, Shakespearean-style death. Two procedures for the kidney thing. There's still something wrong with my arm from the heplock. The kids' pediatrician has had his license suspended. I won't even go into the political scene right now, but suffice it to say there's been little joy on that front, for us. (I get that it's been quite joyful for some. I do.) The garden has leprosy. The pear trees developed mange. Some days, we've been pretty sure EmBaby has rabies. The deck still doesn't have stairs on the front, and there are still no screens on the doors. Zorak hasn't had his sinus surgery yet, so nobody's slept well in... oh, about 14 years.

But, wait. Is there joy in there? Yes, there is. There's a lot of joy in 2009! Allow me to expound.

I'll bold the Joy.

Along the way, we've been blessed with kind-hearted, loving souls, from the lady who brought us diapers in Arkansas, to the sweet friend who loaned us her vacuum for the appraisal... From phone-friends who have made us laugh, and made us think, to family who teach and guide and encourage... From finally finding a church home, to developing deepening friendships locally... From building slushmen on the balcony to catching fireflies in the lower meadow. We finished the bathroom and have two working toilets! We've had a number of wonderful afternoons with the kids, and splendid evenings together without the kids.

We've learned and stretched and grown. We've worked together, and learned how to work together better than ever before. We've been able to help others in many ways. And we've been helped in many ways. The kids are all a year older, healthy, happy, and loved. We all have a better idea of what won't work in the garden. There's a plan for next year's garden! (It may not work, but that's not the point.)

So. Much. Joy. Sometimes, I don't know where to begin. We didn't expect that this would be the Year of Nothing Challenging. Where's the joy in that? This truly is The Year of Joy, and sometimes, Joy arrives in the most delightful places, just where you need it the most. Where do you find your Joy?

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 17

2nd Bathroom in the Forever Home!

Technically, it did not just take us 14 days to build a bathroom. Not only was there a ton of finish work on other projects to complete (because we're just not so much about the finish work, really), but we seem to have angered the toilet gods mightily. The toilet pictured is the *fourth* commode this week - however, it's the first to have both a matching tank/bowl, the first not to spritz water against the back wall like a deranged bidet, and the first to have all its pertinent parts (present and facing the proper direction). So while it may not be our favorite, it works, it's in, and, heaven help us, it's staying.

Not to mention, after four years in a one-bathroom home, 14 days seems silly to fret over. However, we've gone from this, a few days into the project, to this:

Taken from the pocket door, looking in. I love this room.

Still at the door, looking straight in. I know, the turquoise towel throws it off a bit. Truthfully, when I needed a towel at two in the morning, I wasn't worried about which color I grabbed. The recessed vanity cabinet is a favorite feature. We thought we'd have to go with a pedestal, because of the cramped quarters. But this gives us the best of both worlds - cabinet room, smaller footprint, and a nifty sink that makes us smile. (Best of all worlds, then? Since there are three points?)

And, standing *in* the shower, looking back. Love the light fixture, but those itty bitty bulbs are 50watt halogen bulbs. I'll put the other two in later, when we aren't working and sweating in there. Too. Much. Heat. However, come winter, I'm sure it'll be handy. And the ceiling details - Zorak's "racetrack". Love it!

The walls are really gorgeous in person. My phone camera didn't quite do it justice, and I'm far too impatient to keep trying for a good shot when these are at least somewhat in focus. This bathroom is narrow (4.5' stud-to-stud) and long (10', thanks to the wall we'd pushed out). I don't even remember how the original bathroom was laid out, other than that the shower was barely big enough for one person to turn around, but not for said person to bend down or raise arms. Weird.

And, now, the house is pretty much finished. Or, more accurately, Phase One is pretty much finished. If it'll ever stop raining for more than six hours at a time, we can put the last of the deck stain on the balcony, and the porch off the master bedroom needs to be pulled off and replaced with something that remotely resembles the balcony. (I'll have to post a side-by-side of those two - it's a jarring, and rather humorous, contrast.) We still have to finish the awful (as in, wow-this-is-inexpensive-and-wonderful-but-good-hell-what-were-we-thinking) project of rehabbing the storm windows. And screen doors would be nice. Oh, and the window. But, if things go as we hope they'll go, the Big Kitchen Window will be the next project to get done! Still, that all seems like such simple little weekend projects, now. It's... weird.

The children seem to have lost only a modest amount of their civility, with those most affected being Smidge and EmBaby, who snarl if you touch them while they're eating, and have taken to marking one another's "territory" (thankfully, thus far, with toys, not urine - another week, and who knows how things might have gone!) Jase seems oblivious - evidently, he's used to being raised by wolves. The older two have held up well - being aware of the calendar and the general passage of time helps, I'm sure. The past 14 days haven't felt nearly as long for them as three days' worth of writing assignments!

And so ends another project with the family intact, and the house getting better as we go.

I think, on payday, we're going to do something fun just for the kids. They've been troopers.

Wednesday, September 9

Sweet, Sweet Six

Six? Wow. He's so happy about it. We are, too. We're just a bit caught off guard. Six? I blame Jess and Andie for letting their kids turn six. Then everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon and do it, too. (Keep 'em off the bridges, okay, guys?)
Since we're *still* in the middle of the Mad Rush To Finish, we all agreed that a belated, joint party, later would be best. When we're done with the Madness and the Rushing and can relax a bit. He was good with that. So very good with that, really. But still... *today* was his birthday.
So this morning, there were fudge ripple pancakes (from The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks), and there was singing, and there were phone calls that made him smile a sheepish smile.
For tonight, he picked shrimp scampi, with salad and garlic bread for supper. And for his cake? Cheesecake. The four-pack sampler from Sam's, to be specific. I love that kid, and his taste in food.
And now, he is six.

Kiss those babies!

(The pics are bad b/c they're from my phone. The camera finally died a horrific death and needs to be shuffled off to ICU. Later. After the rushing and the madness have died down, and I can get it boxed up.)

And the beat goes on...

The kids have all been absolute troopers this week, and their willingness to pitch in on any level has made this project so much more enjoyable. It's been neat, though, to see how they work. They're each getting more and more into their own "thing", and while it does remind me that Dora won't stick around forever, it's also nice to be able to enjoy them where they are, at each turn.

John loves to turn on music and jam out while we work. His taste runs a little to the hard-rock side, and we're not sure how that happened. So, we compromise with an eclectic mix of radio stations and CD's - some of what he loves, with a little other stuff to keep the rest of us from getting to high-strung or twitchy. His favorite is a band called Hand Over Fist, out of Prescott, AZ. Funny, we had that CD for eight years and never played it all the way through, but that's the first one he asks for when we get in the car these days.

James has taken to downloading Mark Levin podcasts to listen to while he works. He gets a lot done this way, since each one is almost 50 minutes long. But I have to have him physically turn the thing off and stuff the ear buds into his pocket when I'm giving him directions or he'll slowly tilt his head to the side, trying to get his ear close enough to hear it while I'm talking. It's actually kind of funny, and I will admit that occasionally, when in need of entertainment, I'll not say anything for a while, just to see how far he twist while still maintaining eye contact with me. When he realizes what's going on, he blushes and stuffs the thing away with a sheepish little grin. Then he's all mine. Such a funny, sweet kid.

Smidge and Em are... Smidge and Em. They bicker like a married couple, but stick together like glue. They're so good to each other in small, constant ways, that the bickering is bearable, though. And Jase? Well, he's teething. Molars. Hyland's and Desitin to the rescue!

Today is a big and busy day, and we're really looking forward to it. And, then, tonight, perhaps, hopefully, I can texture the bathroom walls! (It was SO humid yesterday. Then, finally, it just rained and got it over with. When it stopped raining, the air glistened for the rest of the day. Not droplets on the leaves. The actual air. It wasn't quite like fog - just Very Wet Air. We didn't even try to work with Things That Need To Dry yesterday.)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 7

OK, that didn't work.

The joint compound would. not. dry. this weekend. Just wouldn't dry. And so, we still do not have a functioning bathroom. (Took me five minutes to type this. This is why I only blog at night, when everybody is in bed. Obviously, I am not alone at the moment.) However, we did get up more trim, more do-dads, and got a plan for something that we didn't realize needed a plan until we got to it and it wouldn't work.

Anyway, the upshot is that Jason hasn't figured out where we are all day, so at least we have hope that he won't get in there and help with the texturing, when we get to it. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that we could potentially pee in peace for a week or so before he figures it out!

Everything else is done that can be done, for now. And now, we wait. And pray for an arid few days. And a breeze. That'd be handy, too.

What'd you all do this weekend?

Kiss those babies!

Project Blogging! Master Bath

We've been camped out in here...
"Somebody" was supposed to send for help, but we suspect they got distracted. Netflix Watch Instantly and a box of Cheez-Its, and hey, who needs parents, right?

We think we'll be done tomorrow. If not, I may just move the computer back there, so we can keep in touch. We have wireless; the kids won't miss a thing on Netflix.

In the meantime, we've also finished up most of the remaining (OK, "neglected") details on the house. Baseboards painted, door trims painted, ugly basement door in hall painted, previously painted doors re-hung (doors are over-rated, really). I even had John take the air return grille out and scrub it off with a brush and the jet blaster on the garden hose! Evidently, it's white. Huh.

And, we've taken out the Ghetto Adobe Pink in the kitchen (we love it, but it's too close to Kraftmaid's "Toffee Maple" finish, so there wasn't the *POP* we wanted) and replaced it with a creamy creamish cream color (which is not "white", okay? and yes, cream can *POP*. Really, it can) and green. Both, on one of the walls! I got a little nuts. Zorak still isn't sure if he's going to leave me unsupervised with the paint cans, again. But I *love* it! I used KathyJo's method of painting -- literally, called her up and begged her to hold my hand and walk me through it -- she is very patient with slow people. And I *LOVE* it.

I'll get pictures later, when the fridge is back in place, and all the other random things are not in the middle of the floor. Things always look worse right before they look better. Or, that's what I tell Zorak, anyway.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, August 26

OMGosh, where have I been?

I've been sorting, washing, and tagging clothes for the Kids' Swap Clothing Sale in Decatur. I've been sorting, washing, and boxing up things for the thrift store donation, the "gotta get this MAILED" stack, and the "REALLY need to get THIS mailed" pile. I've been to the dentist. I've been to the car wash. I've been going-going-going non-stop for a week!

Mice found the pantry shelf in the basement. Naturally, we don't have doors on it, yet. We will soon, though. Nothing motivates us quite like urgency, does it? Yick. Spent a lot of time reconfiguring that. Thank God for the compost, or I might have cried.

Jason yells, "Maaaaaamaaaaa" all. the. time. now. It'll be darling once we have a bit of space between the event and the memory. His inflection is fantastic, though. We can tell what he wants from clear across the house.

EmBaby just yells. I think she's feeling pressured to keep up with the noise level now that the older boys are doing their studies during the day. I'm sure they appreciate that.

Smidge is happy as a clam, and about to get happier: he gets to be acknowledged as an official Tiger Cub tomorrow night. Woot! (He doesn't know this, yet.) We'll swing by the Scout Shop tomorrow, after yet another dental visit (man, am I just the burgeoning medical butterfly, or what?), and hopefully get the proper dodads glued onto the proper spots in time for the meeting tomorrow.

Don't know what happened with the Pack, but there's been a total 180 lately. It's been fantastic. Even Zorak, who had begun to contemplate semi-spontaneous road trips for Thursdays, looks forward to going. They're *doing* things now. The attitudes have improved. The meetings are more organized. There's a plan-of-sorts in place. Even the kinda-scary-problem-child has been a totally-different-child. Everybody's enjoying the differences.

All this makes for good living, but lousy blogging. How have you all been? Fill me in!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, August 18


Too much to post, and not enough time without people touching me, climbing on me, or digging their bony little elbows into my leg. I could blog regularly and well with a few minor modifications. All I need is voice recognition software, a laptop, a gilly suit, and a caramel launcher. Is that so much to ask?

Tomorrow, ask me about the cool new Grammar program for 1st and 2nd! It's awesome! We're going to use it, and we don't normally use a Grammar program at all. But this? This is cool.

We had a splendid Sunday, hanging with Me-Wa and Me-Tae. They met us at church. Actually, they got there on time. We slipped in even later than usual. But I *had* to mop. There was simply no way around it.
Death by Irony point: this, right after Zorak helped talk me out of mopping Saturday night, by whispering sexy things into my ear, like, "It's okay to drop your standards a little, just one more time..."
See what happens when you listen to the Siren's Song, people? You have to panic-clean before church!

After a typically fantastic service (we are SO fortunate for this church), they came to the house, where I did not have to choke down convulsions and horror, because at least the floor was relatively clean-ish. We ate a weird lunch (I don't remember what we made.) Then the guys sighted in a few things, the kids blew bubbles, and played the piano for Me-Tae, and just generally enjoyed the lovely afternoon and the good company.Monday was gorgeous, but we didn't realize that until about 12:30, because it's the middle of August, and seriously, who expects a gorgeous day in the middle of August in the South? Once we clued in, though, we hustled through the rest of our lessons and then got out and enjoyed it.

When, what we should have done was work in it. Because today it rained and rained and rained. And now everything we should have picked up, or mowed, or harvested, is all sparkly and highlighted by droplets of sparkling guilt. But it's beautiful enough that we really hardly felt the guilt at all.
Dishwasher's still not fixed, another part will arrive Friday. I'm running out of one-pot meals we can all eat straight out of the pot, with our hands.

And that, my friends, is the week so far.