Tuesday, April 28

They're Back

I think they brought the laundry for the whole Troop home with them. There's no way they took this much on their own. Is there?

Yesterday, we waded back and forth through the sea of laundry and sleeping bags. Between lessons (which must be done) and stories about the camporee (which we wanted to do), the boys had to hustle to find John's uniform and enough other clothes to do a load of darks (bless the mother who picked his team's uniform this year - all black! So easy to keep looking nice.) He had a game last night, and Mama isn't doing their laundry until after Mother's Day. (I don't mind doing the wash, but I do mind re-washing clean things that nobody can be bothered to put away. Since discussion did nothing, I figured I'd take the old-fashioned route and go with action. They are learning that laundry is Not Fun, and you really do not want to Make More if you can help it.)

Today... we have plenty to do, but would you believe I cannot think of any of it? Guess it'll come to me, eventually.

One of the things I enjoyed over the weekend was the quiet. But one of the things I realized upon their return is that the noise - and oh, there is a lot of noise - is mostly the kids making each other laugh. It's Good Noise. It's the kind of noise you take for granted unless you stop moving, stop fretting over dishes in the sink, and shoes on the floor, and socks in the kitchen, and listen. But when you listen, you can't help but smile. And contribute to the noise, yourself. And it's wonderful.

So, it's noisy here, again. But I am so glad for it.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 26

Up Too Late

But for a good reason: I'm on vacation!

Well, not really a pack-the-bags-and-go-on-a-cruise vacation. But even Official Vacations aren't like that. Not now. Or, um, ever. No, this has been a vacation-of-sorts. A parenthetical vacation. Just a little break from the routine. Zorak, James and John are at a camporee, and they're having a wonderful time (or at least the boys are), and truth be told, so am I.

It's been a bit of a decadent little treat, really. I've had a day and two nights of relaxation. An ease in the laundry load. Everybody (else) in bed by a reasonable hour, as everybody (else) ought to be. Time alone, with nobody filibustering (which I can appreciate), or making lewd comments (which, truth be told, I also appreciate, but on a totally different level). *ahem*

But still.

My Inner Introvert has been fairly starved as of late, and it's been so unbelievably nice to have a little down time. (I had ice cream!) (With sprinkles!) (That I didn't have to share!) Nice to watch a GURL movie without comments from the peanut gallery. (Wives & Daughters) Nice to clean the kitchen and find it still clean the next time I need to use it. (Stop me if I'm sounding pathetic, okay?)

I'm nearly done re-reading Fellowship of the Ring. In more than three-page chunks. (It makes so. much. more. sense!)

As frivolous as all this sounds, the Littles haven't been neglected. (Quite the opposite, actually, as this is a break with them, not from them). We've played dominoes and watched movies, read stories and told jokes. EmBaby, Jase and I sat through Smidge's baseball game and cheered him on. EmBaby and I and chased down the water bottle Jase kept tossing beneath the bleachers. We had peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and steamed cauliflower with supper (they picked - I prefer broccoli, but they love the White Trees). We ate candy canes, just because they found a box of them. They've been a joy and a delight all their own on this little vacation of ours.

And in the morning, the Big Guys will return, and it will be wonderful. Perhaps EmBaby may then believe me that they haven't been shipped off for good (she didn't seem terribly convinced after they left). We'll hit the ground running in our loud, noisy, messy way. And that, too, will be wonderful.

I won't even mind giving up Zorak's side of the bed. (much)

But now, to bed, or I will mind how quickly the sun comes up when one's vacation comes to an end!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, April 24

Easter Pics

Hey, look - Easter pictures posted before the Fourth of July!

Jase finally overcame his fear and loathing* of the grass...

To be replaced by utter curiosity. (Hey, Mom! Did you know there's stuff living in here?)

EmBaby loves all things "flower", and there is no such thing as a weed, if it will flower.

We had more fun than one would imagine possible in such a small space, but it was such a beautiful day out (and we got there early - a total fluke)

After the service, since everyone was relatively clean, awake, and all in one place, we thought we'd shoot for trying to get everyone facing the same direction...

AND, we got it.

(Though EmBaby insisted on the Victory Pose. We took eight shots, and she's standing like this in every one. Ah, may she always be that comfortable in her own skin.)

THEN, since there were Other People there, while we were all, as I've pointed out, relatively clean, and kind of facing the same direction, we thought we'd try for a family shot.

It almost worked. :-)

This was our first year celebrating Easter without company at the Forever Home, and it was quiet, and odd, but coming on the heels of the Month of Ills, we didn't have time to gather the Loved Ones. The big boys did get to help the Easter Bunny this year (John worked up to that one by asking, "Mom, does the Easter Bunny know Santa?" He's a clever one.) And we enjoyed our church family tremendously. It was a beautiful day, in so many ways.

Kiss those babies!
*bonus points if you know the reference

Thursday, April 16

Tea Party in Huntsville

The kids and I donned our civil disobedience garb (I kid - we just wore sensible shoes) and trekked to downtown Hunstville for yesterday's Tea Party. The police were out in force, but the biggest problem they had was keeping everyone within the boundaries of the area we'd reserved for the rally. We weren't being difficult. It's just that the turnout was fantastic, and the area we had available to us was just a might-bit packed. It was a sardine rally! Next time, we need a larger venue. The capitol building, perhaps?

We started out in the Way Back. I had Em in the stroller and Jase in the sling, and wasn’t up for wedging ourselves in. I've no desire to relive younger, concert-going days. (Not to mention, the fear I had of knocking over a sweet old lady and becoming the Problem Child of the Rally.) The big boys, however, wanted to *see* what was going on. So, they edged their way to the front. They didn’t have to edge very hard. The crowd happily let them through, and they ended up in the front row, with perfect seats to the whole thing.

They were close enough to read name tags (which I know they didn’t do, because when I mentioned to Zorak how great Dale Jackson’s emcee work was, they both said, “THAT was Dale JACKSON? COOL!”). So many things are wasted on the young, like having those big ol’ eyes and being short enough that people happily let you stand in front.

There were so many great signs, and so many friendly, encouraging people. And I really need two or three more arms. And another set of eyes. And... yep. I missed so much, just trying to make sure Smidge and Em didn't wander off to become Statistics. (My knees still ache a bit just thinking about that.) After the protest, though, I gave John the camera and turned him loose.

Everybody was helpful, friendly, and encouraging. This is the kind of change we need. The question now is whether we can keep the momentum up long enough to make it to the next Congressional Election.
Anyway, it was everything you’d expect from a rally attended by people who are big on Personal Responsibility. No vandalism, no rioting, no random fights. (Even the enthusiastic pack of Ron Paul supporters behaved quite well.*) We had to disperse much sooner than we were ready, but folks had to get back to work, and the permit for the space expired at one-thirty. However, it was great to see people from different groups all talking animatedly as they left, sharing ideas, arguing points, sharpening one another's thoughts, and lifting each other up.

Good stuff. The kids are ready to do more. And that, too, is good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

*About the Ron Paul supporters: awesome bunch!! It was the running joke, even amongst themselves, that they were the "rabble rousers", what with their unbridled enthusiasm and rampant humor. The volunteer security guys laughingly said if that was the worst of their worries, they were in for a very easy day. Completely awesome turnout from the Ron Paul crowd!!*

Monday, April 13

Weirdness and Landscaping

I've leapt into a worm hole. A time warp. Perhaps some kind of little cubbie in space. Whatever it is, I swear I'm only getting 3-4 days out of a week! Unsettling.

We've been working on the land. Currently, we're turning the lower meadow into an aquarium. Two or three more days of rain, and I think we'll be ready to bring in the sharks and rays. Pretty exciting.

We've also hired Zeus' Tree Trimming and Electrical Service to handle those pesky dead limbs we can't quite reach. A few more storms and we should have that all cleared out, too. (If the storms and rain coincide nicely, we could have everything done by the end of April.) Now if I could harness some random force of nature to actually plant the blueberry bushes and nut trees. And mulch the back yard.

In the meantime, the wasp hives are churning out new generations of wasps quicker than anyone would ever have thought imaginable! (said in a rather tense, squeaky voice) Our hope is that once we get the hang of raising wasps, bees shouldn't scare us a bit. And, just for the record, "Organic" is a lousy way to kill things. I'm on a hunt for some Organic Agent Orange, or Organic Sarin Spray, perhaps. That'd be handy.

Eh. *shrug* Stranger things have happened.

And that's 'bout it, here. Baseball keeps getting rained out (hence, our new aquaculture program in the lower meadow). I *heart* Amazon, and am looking forward to next year's literature winging its way here, box by smiling box. Tomorrow's going to be psychotically busy. And today looks to be just beautiful!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 8

Communication and Loopholes

So Smidge came in this morning to ask if he could use the hatchet to cut kindling. I gave him the standard song and dance (you can use the hatchet when Daddy is home, and only when Daddy is home and supervising. There is no using of the hatchet when Daddy is not home.) We've been through this. I just don't think it's wise to have ER trips for subsequent children for the *same* *exact* *injury*. Really, it seems like such a reasonable boundary.

But, being Smidge, he needs to really "get" what I'm saying. So he says, "Um, so are you saying we can't use the hatchet?"

Me: Yes.
Him: So nobody can use the hatchet?
Me: Yes.
Him: Only you can use the hatchet?
Me: Yes. (Yes, for the love of God, yes!)
Him: Oh. OK.

He walks out, and as he hits the foyer, I hear him talking to himself,
"OK, so it looks like we can only use the machete."

*blink* Somehow, I don't think we were having the same discussion. And yes, the irony of today's photo being part of the SmidgeCam upload is not lost on me.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, April 7

Photo Trouble

We finally got around to slapping a little cake in front of Jase and singing "Happy Birthday". We took pictures, even. Unfortunately, at the moment, the computer refuses to recognize the camera. So. They're stuck on there for a bit. Or until I give up and take the card to Target. Like I need another disk laying around for the kids to play air hockey with? The last upload, however, had some fun shots. So, until further notice, all photos on this blog will be provided courtesy of the SmidgeCam.

This particular photo is the last remnant of our time outside before this freak cold snap kicked in. Sometimes it pays to be procrastinators, since we didn't have the entire garden up and running yet. (Now to overcome inertia, and not wait until the end of May to put it in! That may be a bit of a challenge.)

We're once again oh-so-thankful for the wood stove. The freak cold snap doesn't hurt so badly when there's fire. Mmm. Fire. (said in my best Homer Simpson voice)

Plus, on the Uber-Positive side, we're in need of propane! This is fantastic! We haven't had a fill since October! Seven months, and we used less than 150 gallons of propane. Theoretically, with a 500 gal. tank, we could go at least a year and a half (maybe two, with some minor adjustments) between fill-ups. That's a warm-fuzzy, if anything is. And we owe it all to our beloved wood stove. (She needs a name, I think. We'll call her Maggie, short for Magnolia, which could be considered her given name.)

Today we've read and studied, fed Maggie, and read some more. We've made muffins and biscuits and drawings. Poor Zorak had to go out in this weather. But he does that so we can do this. And we appreciate it more than words or actions could say. I think we'll at least try, though, by having something warm and comforting ready for the table when he gets home tonight.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 6

Monday Monday

Where'd this cold front come from? Freezing tonight and tomorrow night! Those-Who-Live-Here have already begun using the flat surface of the stove to hold stuff! Guess what I'll be doing today? Yes, moving that stuff... to other flat surfaces. One day, I will have a home with no flat surfaces, anywhere. Everything'll be rounded off, or just pointy. It will be delightful.

In Other News, we officially have a "farm". We're putting in water to the barn! Not that we have crops down there (the okra didn't make it), or animals (nothing's died down there. yet.) but we will have water! This little improvement greatly increases the odds that future endeavors down there will not die. Always a plus on a farm.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 5


One Big Blur.

Rain. Sun. Yay. Rain. BigScaryStorms. Hide. Rain. Sun. Yay. ACK - baseball.
Jase is getting the Sideline Sibling Trial by Fire. He'll handle it better when the weather warms up. Or when he can walk. Or maybe next year. Something like that.

That's pretty much how the rest of the week went. Thursday, the schools all let out at noon, in anticipation of the storms. When the schools let out early for weather, none of the community rec activities are allowed to continue. I made the boys' day by cancelling our school when I got the call. They thought that was great, as we still had several good hours to play outside before the storms hit.

Today is Sunday. We plan to make it to church. But it's nearly eight, and I'm having a hard time waking people. Oh, sure, they'd get up if I asked them to. I just don't want to ask them to. It's so quiet. The birds, the rooster, the morning glow. Just me, a cup of coffee, and you all. It's so peaceful.

And did I mention quiet? Now that everyone is well, we don't so much have the Quiet anymore. Mixed blessings, and all that.

EmBaby owns the baseball fields - just ask her. She can navigate to and from any field at any time. She thinks she's All Grown Up, able to go to the Snack Shack and the Playground on her own. All the other kids do it. Why can't she? *sigh* Well, Mommy has this odd quirk about thinking three-year-olds should maybe still have the occasional parental oversight, honey. Sorry.

James, on the other hand, does have a lot more freedom. He's nearly 11. He checks in. He comes back if something weird happens. He loves taking his own money to the Snack Shack, finding acquaintances from previous years, telling jokes and sharing stories. He doesn't leave the fields, or go looking for trouble. (I still check in on him when he's off and wandering, though. Good kids tend to stay good kids when they've still got a little guidance, here and there.) And, I worry. Working on finding that middle ground between Overbearing Suffocator For Your Own Good, and Turn 'Em Loose WAAAYYY Too Early. gah. Parenting requires a lot more finesse than I gave my Mom credit for.

Smidge... yes, he's Jake. Jacob. Not Smidge. He informed me a while back that we can still call him "Smidge" on Tuesdays. "JakeRabbit" on Thursdays. But the rest of the week, he's "just Jacob". That was a shocker, really. At least he's weaning me slowly, I suppose. Good kid. Go easy on the Mama.

And now, EmBaby's up. Time to get moving!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 1

Wednesday Weediness

In spite of the fact that we are not farmers, we're doing it again. I do wish I'd remembered my camera when we headed out to garden. Em took forever to join us, because she had to stop and pick every little flower on the path. By the time she got to the barn, both hands were full - little daisies in one hand, and some teeny-tiny lily type thing in the other. She carried them around, and refused to set them down, so she wasn't much help. But she was awfully decorative.

We put our big, strapping okra plants into the ground. Then we stood back and gave a collective, "Oh, that's pitiful!" They looked much larger in the sprouting trays. All alone in the big, big world, however, they look like weeds, just waiting to be picked.

Then we tried to use the wood chipper to mulch the leaves in the back yard. That didn't go so well. Not that the thing hasn't already worked off the $10 we spent on it, but I want to mulch leaves and cannot figure out how to make it work! Zorak wants to just burn them, but we desperately need that material IN the ground back there. Where it's not damp, it's covered in clover. And where there's no clover, it's just kind of... damp. You can see this is not going to work well for a play area, with at least one child who is violently allergic to clover. And "damp" just doesn't seem like a good backyard theme, either, come to think of it.

The boys or, rather, John marked off the area for the sunflower house. It's enormous! I started to say something, then stopped. I did give him leave to do it the way he wanted, and I did suggest he make it big enough for them to enjoy come August. He did, and it is. Directions followed. But we're gonna need more seeds.

The boys' piano teacher called this morning to see if we could come later than our regular time today, so we were on the road when we normally are not. I'm really glad we don't have to do that every week. I suspect that "rush hour" in our little hamlet is when the inmates escape from the asylum, and make a break for the open road. (It has to be lunatics. I mean, the Very Basics were totally out the window -- Red generally means, "stop" -- The dotted white line is not for straddling, in the hope that one lane will suddenly open up for you -- OK, the speed limit can be considered a general guideline, to some extent, but if you're in the front of the line and there's no wreck or rain or flying squid, you might want to consider going a titch faster than 25mph under the speed limit -- Or put on your hazzards and pull over for a bit until the voices get you all caught up. That's what I do.) I don't know how Big City folk do it every day. Yeesh. They're tough. We, however, are weenies. Weenies who like being on the road when nobody else is. Or at least when the other people on there are those who know some of the basic rules of the road.

And, we found our First Tick of the Season. On EmBaby's head. *collective shudder* Tomorrow, we all begin taking our garlic tablets. Tonight, we began the ritual evening tick-checks. Like a bunch a' apes, I tell ya. But we'll be the tick-free apes with the cool sunflower house, and boquets of dead flowers all over the house. So, that's something, right?

Kiss those babies!