Tuesday, June 30

It's Over!

I hope.

Had the surgery this morning to knock out the rest of the Death Star. This time through was a whole different ball of wax, on a few levels. Instead of being out for four hours, I was only out for one. Less bleeding, less pain, less nausea. Good-bye Joe? Oh, I hope!

The staff at Huntsville Hospital was fantastic, so that was the same. (I did get the lady again who refuses to use the word "urinate". She's very nice, and I'm sure she's quite capable. However, I'm also rather glad that they put her at the end of your stay, as the repeated use of the word, "pee-pee" just doesn't instill confidence.) Really, my only gripe about Huntsville Hospital is that it's not horribly clean. But the nurses are amazing. My doc is phenomenal. The receptionists and techs, everybody, really, is just great. Even pee-pee lady. And the doc prefers to use that one, because their Astroid-Shooter (as James calls it) is better than the one at Crestwood. All in all, good stuff.

Got home and crashed. The boys made me lemonade, since they know that's recommended for kidney stones. I'm so spoiled.

The Bigs had Scouts tonight, so Zorak took all five children, kicked the Bigs off at their meeting, and took the Littles to the park. So sweet. (And it is SO quiet.) It's wonderful to have the house so peaceful while I'm waiting for the meds to kick in! (Did I mention how spoiled I am? It's wonderful.)

Just... trying to fight the urge to clean. I haven't been alone in the house in ages, and it's so, so tempting. Must fight it. I guess I'll go read blogs for a bit. If I leave a loopy comment on yours, please forgive me. I'll try to get off the computer before it gets too bad.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, June 28

Accomplishments, Big and Small


The pickets are up on the balcony. Changed the *whole* look and feel of it. Will try to get pictures. Someone's going to have to remind me to post before and after pics, though, because my brain isn't working properly. (I'm also working on obtaining grant money to prove my hypothesis that humidity clogs the synapses.)

Dad's old desk - circa 1940's, awesome, Ed Harris as a gov't agent, heavy, wood desk - has now been cleaned, refinished, runners sanded and waxed, and reassembled. Due to The Way I Do Things, it is already covered in stuff.

Basement progress is picking up speed. Zorak headed to the recycling bins with an entire pickup bed (long bed, at that) full of flattened cardboard boxes. The erstwhile contents are now shredded compost material, loaded up for a trip to the donation store, or filed away neatly.

AND, I vacuumed the basement.

Yeah, no kidding.

FOUND the disk for the camera upload software. Thankfully, as that model has been discontinued and Fuji no longer has any disks in stock. Big old vampire-killing silver bullet dodged, my friends. *whew*

Uploaded the 422 pictures we've taken since switching computers.

Most of them are blurry nostril shots, courtesy of the SmidgeCam.


Um, still can't figure out how to use Photoshop Elements. Not for a lack of trying. Must push harder on that grant money.

And, on a rather obscure note, we (the kids and I) cleaned out "the pen boxes". Picture, if you will, 70 years of writing implements shoved into desk drawers, all collected and bound in cardboard during various moves, just waiting for us to one day be so desperate not to have to go outside that we scrounged up scrap paper and plunked ourselves down on the floor to doodle our way through the pile. A surprising number of pens still worked. The totally, irrationally exciting part, though, is that we found two fountain pens!! You may not know this, but I have a teeny tiny obsession with stationery products. So, when I discovered they still have ink in them, and they work, and learned the histories behind them, and fondled them, and figured out that you can buy ink pots, and, and, and...

well, you just can't end a day of cleaning on a better note than that.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, June 25

It's not all nosebleeds and starting fluid

But it's felt that way.

We pretty much slept through Sunday, although we kinda-sorta made it to church. None of us was rested up. The Adults were a little off our game (namely defense), and the Littles were on FIRE. We sat in the back, which was a bad call, as EmBaby refuses to believe Pastor is talking to *her* if she cannot see him. She talked, hummed, sang the whole time. I suggested to John that perhaps she has Pentecostal blood. (The story being fresh in his head of the time I took my strict Southern Baptist mother to a FourSquare Pentecostal service, and the prophecy of the morning seemed directed pointedly at her, he got it.)

Zorak got even later on, though, when Jase started throwing things (mostly hymnals and Bibles, since I don't have a purse to ransack) into the aisle before I could react, and John had to bury his head between his legs to keep from cracking up. Zorak whispered to James, "Pretend we don't know them." Honestly, we are not usually an irreverent wrecking crew. We probably should have just slept in, in retrospect, but we were trying to the right thing. We hope to make it up at the pot luck this Sunday.

The rest of the week has been a bit of a blur. John's had a few nosebleeds, which is weird, since he's not a bleeder, really. We stayed home from the art-oriented reading thing, since we figured nobody would appreciate an impromptu exercise in hazmat containment. I keep checking him for other symptoms. Any symptoms. So far, nothing, but if it keeps up, we brave the malarial swamp to see the Wonderful Doctor.

EmBaby, Jase and I, all three, seem to have developed some kind of pre-summer narcoleptic superpower -- able to fall asleep at the slightest provocation any time between two and five. Thankfully, I haven't gone down while they're still up. But it's a struggle. I can only envision the Bigs taking wild advantage of that by eating all the chocolate chips in the pantry and playing video games until their eyes pop from their heads.

James has a new hobby. He's taken to mocking my first attempt at starting the car, loudly (and somewhat humorously, to be honest) wondering why I don't just pop the hood, spray it, and *then* try, instead of going the long way around. If I had a good reason, I'd share it with him. Totally irrational hope. That's all I've got. We thought we'd found a good replacement vehicle, but it turned out not to have the third row seat. Three of the five children balked at the idea of riding on the bumper buddy (Smidge thought it sounded fun), so we figure that extra seating is somewhat integral to the new car criteria. Still looking. :-)

And the days just keep coming and coming. I've got to go in for the follow-up on Joe tomorrow. (Thank God they called to remind me, or I'd have been wondering around mid-August if maybe I wasn't forgetting something.)

Meanwhile, the garden keeps on growing. The compost-raiding raccoons keep getting fatter. The pears are coming along beautifully and seem to have stopped dropping at a horrifying rate. The "blueberries" sign is out at the intersection. (We don't know for sure what's down there, and that's literally all the sign says, "blueberries". We suspect there is a pick-your-own farm somewhere down that road, but nobody in town seems to have been there. Ever. It's a bit odd, but now our curiosity is piqued.)

We did have a wonderful experience last week, though. The Suburban wouldn't start (not the wonderful part), and the starting fluid was empty (definitely not the wonderful part). I called down to the corner store to see if some kind soul would be willing to drive a can to us. (Because yes, we do live in the wonderful kind of small town where you can do that.) The sweet gal at the corner got off in a few minutes, and ran us up a can. *happy sigh* That's the wonderful part. It's nice to know you're only as stranded as the nearest helpful soul, isn't it?

I've heard it said it'll be the little things that break you, and to some extent, I think that's true. But I also believe it's the little things -- the humor, the kindness, the grace, the encouragement -- that get you through, and put it all in perspective. So, blurry as this week's been, it's been full of the right kind of little things, and that's good stuff.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, June 21

Nine, not just a daydream, anymore.

John is nine. He has never been so happy to be a new age as he is to be nine. It's funny, though -- in my heart, he sort of hovered at five-ish, or six. But, no. He's kept on growing, changing, maturing, all the way to nine. He's huge. And still wonderful.

To celebrate, we had a BBQ. We invited a few families over for the day, and had a truly, completely, utterly delightful day of it. It was such a success, actually, that Smidge said he wants, "the same people, the same, exact group," to come to his birthday BBQ.

We're so thankful for the friendships we've all made. Good friends, which take time to develop. New friends, slowly growing into Good friends. Roots, going deeper and growing richer.

The kids ran down to the creek, up to the meadow, all over the balcony. They played video games for a bit (it was 97 degrees, and eleventy-hundred percent humidity outside - they appreciated the reprieve from the weather), then ran back out and shot their bows for a bit, ran amok a little more. The kids were funny and energetic and polite, and they tumbled from one thing to another seamlessly, moving from one activity to another either in one large lump or a couple of smaller herds. We were really impressed with how well the kids meshed together, and I know Me-Tae and I had just as much fun watching them play, as they did playing.

Granny was still here for the party, and I'm sure it was nice for her to see that the children don't spend all their time locked in a dungeon, doing school work and sweatshop labor. Even when you know that's not how it is, I think you still worry a bit when you live so far, and your son and daughter-in-law have adopted some offbeat lifestyle quirks. So, it's probably nice to meet the friends who influence your children and grandchildren. Plus, we enjoyed showing her off. She's a Very Cool Granny.

So now, having been duly celebrated and christened into being nine, he's feeling pretty big. Pretty happy. Pretty good. Last night, as he drifted off to sleep on the twitchy haze of a great day, he told Zorak it was his best birthday, ever. That's always nice to hear. Every year is special and precious, but for a parent, it's more momentous than the children will ever know. One year older, one year wiser, one year closer to the fledgling years. *sniff*

Next up, Smidge. But I have a couple of months to brace myself for that, thankfully.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, June 20

And then a week later...

Good heavens, where has the week gone?

Granny, brother-in-law, and his friend left tonight for a straight 20-hour drive home. It was hard to see them go, but the friend is anxious to be home. In the week he's been gone, his family has been under evacuation for wild fires, he had a ton of work come into his shop, and then one of his littles fell ill with a mystery illness. If you would, please say a prayer that they'll arrive home, safe and sound, with good tailwinds to urge them on.

I can't believe how quickly the week flew! The kids had a wonderful time, wallowing in Granny's affections. Granny had a wonderful time soaking up the children and all their joyful love. Zorak and I accomplished an unbelievable amount of work, since Granny was able to make sure the children were not starving, or killing one another, or dismantling the foundations of the house while we worked.

Granny said next time she comes, she's coming in April. Or January. Or the middle of the night. Whenever it's not hot'n'sticky. Poor Granny.

We got the first half of the stain on the balcony (seven hours of squatting, kneeling, and stooping -- my thighs feel like I've been chased cross country by Susan Powter), and we put up the first 80-thousand or so pickets. It's very nearly Jason-proof, if he stays in the corner that's finished, anyway, and looks spectacular. If you look in the corner that's finished.

We cleared enough limbs and vines and brambles from the creek bank that we unearthed a little sandy, beach-like area. It's full of dragonflies and spring frogs and birds. It's shady and quiet. We sat down with the kids, and it was so idyllic that it took an act of God to get us up and moving again. (Mosquitoes, to be precise.)

We hung a tire swing down by the barn. The kids have played more on that this week than they have on the swing set in the back yard in the last two years.

We found a bridge! There's a bridge across the creek! Four years here, and I'm pretty sure I never knew that. Zorak knew, and he swears I knew, but it didn't ring a bell with me, at all.

So, we're making more progress on the property. And I seem to be delving into early senility. Good to know.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, June 14

On reading, flasks, and limbs

Zorak was gone all last week. You'd think we'd have taken that time to be productive and industrious. Or get out and explore. Or maybe even blog. No? Good call. We did nothing. We ate, read, cleaned a bit, read some more, ate a bit while we read, napped... we accomplished a little less than diddly, without any squat. It was heavenly.

But he's home now, and Granny is coming. The kids are beside themselves with anticipation. They're also lobbying for a calendar that's marked off in hourly increments, so they can tick those off, instead of having to wait for an Entire Daaayyyy to pass, first. The wait is killing them.

Meanwhile, the preparations are killing me. Not so much for Granny (although I do want to have the house clean for her, she knows I'm no Donna Reed, and I'm lucky to have a mother-in-law who is coming to see us, not the house). Moreso because Zorak's brother is bringing a friend-we-haven't-met-before. And while you don't mind family seeing your general squalor, it's a totally different thing for a stranger.

Come to think of it, I wonder if that's why he's bringing a friend? That's a pretty good way to make sure the accommodations are tip-top, eh? Hmmmm. I need to find a stranger for our next big trip...

Either way, it worked. I finally (almost a year later...) got the elastic and velcro on the couch slip cover. Might even wash it, if I'm feeling motivated tomorrow. And while I had the couch upside down, I was able to talk Zorak into fixing the broken leg. (Happy Coincidence, or Brilliant Design? You decide.)

OK, happy coincidence. You know us well, my friends.

ANYway. The Summer Reading Kick-Off was not bad. They had a ventriloquist who focused mostly on books, stories, fairy tales, etc. He was engaging, and good with the kids. Just as I was thinking we'd get out without a visit from the Bad Idea Fairy, they passed out otter pops immediately after the performance. Otter Pops. For the kids to eat *inside* the library. I made our kids put them back while we made our book selections, and then twitched my way across the library, watching all the other kids slurping, dripping, and flinging their way amongst the books. Why not set the cooler by the door, and hand out the goodies as people leave? Thinking about it still makes my eye twitch, almost a week later.

I'm toying with the idea of taking the kids to Shakespeare on the Mountain. They're doing The Merry Wives of Windsor, set in 1950's Miami, "with tributes to American TV Classics". I'm not a purist... but, evidently I'm close. I can't quite get excited about this one. Still haven't made up my mind. There are only two more show dates, though, so I've got to decide soon. James would love it, regardless. John might enjoy it. Smidge is happy, no matter what we do, as long as he's involved. Or gets a passable alternative to enjoy.

One would think, considering the amount of decluttering I've done (not last week, but today, at any rate), I'd have found my camera software. But, no. It looks like I'm going to have to call and beg them to send me a new disk. Maybe they can throw in a better filing and storage system, while they're at it? That'd be handy.

OK, morning comes early when you don't get to bed until it's on the porch.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, June 8


The Summer Reading program start date is upon us. The last few years, it wasn't too bad. Required no actual changes on our part, other than simply recording what we read, instead of just reading it. OK. But this year, they're requiring that we attend some hohah twice a week. And they're doing "themes" each week. Themes? Is this tied to the reading, or is this simply something "new" from the enthusiastic librarian? They've released no actual information, but it looks like it's just "something new"! (New librarian. Very enthusiastic. Perhaps overly so. *shrug*) I had no intention of doing it, but they put up ENORMOUS signs all over town. And, since two of five can read, well, I'm stuck.

I'd rather just stay home, read books, make our own pizza. For one thing, I'm always up for a reason to buy more books! For another, it's hot out there, why not stay in?

And getting back to the themes thing... arts & crafts (because I just don't have enough junk laying around my house), movement (in a tiny, one-room library, I'm thinking this is not the best activity), music (I'd rather stay home and read, or introduce the kids to John Prine...), and finally storytelling and drama (ah! the only one that's conceivably connected to reading!) Twice a week, they want us there. This may cause me to miss the old plan, which was pizza coupons for our local pizza joint. I never thought I'd look fondly on those days.

Lest you think I'm getting cynical, a little background on that. Our local pizza joint has... some serious issues. Their buffet is smaller than your average apartment kitchen counter. And yet, it takes up a huge proportion of the eating area. Not really a big deal, just don't order the buffet. But they love to have karaoke nights (complete with equipment that takes up the remaining space and makes getting to the bathroom an Olympic track event). And sports nights (creating a unique "surround sound" atmosphere, accomplished by turning the volume on each cheap TV up to full-on distortion level). They leave the doors open, so you freeze in the winter and have to battle the flies in the summer. If they hired a guy to pee in the corner occasionally, it would be a lot like being in NYC on a major holiday.

So, if you need something to do today, swing by the library. I'll be the one in the corner, twitching and trying to hide the flask.

Saturday, June 6

Scouts and Ball

That's it. See you the end of June.

OK, I'm kidding. It's nearly over. But that's not too far off from what our schedule has looked like the past month.

Smidge's team took their Division Championship today in a back-to-back gruel-a-thon. 15 minutes between games! (Who scheduled that one??) But they hung in there, and nobody puked. Hallelujah! They play for the County title on Tuesday, and, being five and six, they are excited about that, when you mention it. But for the most part, they are focused on having a Team Party! PAR-TAY! WOOHOO! Partypartyparty...

John's team went all the way to the County Championships this year. They played their wee hearts out, and they have coaches who are all about doing your best -- that's a winning combination, no matter what the scoreboard looks like. We have a team of boys who have just thrived under that guidance, from the ones who hustle like there's no tomorrow, to the ones who still can't quite manage to make the bat connect with the ball, they are a team. And they did well. They lost the final game today, placing second in the County, and maintaining their Division Championship status. That is one tired bunch of boys. Thankfully, next up on the schedule is the Team Party! PAR-TAY!! (Yes, some things don't change, no matter how old they get.)

James and John had Cub Scout camp this past week. To them, it was an amazing, magical, wonderful, fun-filled week. To Zorak and I, it was something entirely different, entailing transportation schedules, an inordinate amount of laundry (who assigned the *one* t-shirt they give the kids as the daily uniform for camp? Obviously, not the person who does the laundry), and a lot of seemingly wasted time. Adults look at things through a completely different set of lenses, don't they? I know that's how it should be, or nothing much would ever get done and humanity would die off from starvation and the fumes from dirty laundry. Still, sometimes I think it would be wonderful to look at opportunities through the Kid Lens rather than through the less-thrilling GrownUp Lens.

Maybe a combination? Perspective Bi-focals, for all of life's opportunities? Think there's a market for that?

We better get on the R&D for those, because the boys now want to have their own Camp in the upper meadow, complete with tent camping, cooking on the fire, and athletics. Smidge informed me tonight that "Dad gets to come, too!" Heh. Gets to...

I'll let you know how that goes.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, June 1

The Others

Man, we lived the life of Other People yesterday - the Other People who are always on the go, always heading to another place. No wonder so many people are cranky! They don't have time to stop and smell the silk flower arrangements, or curl up for a few chapters in a good book "just because", or to sit down around the dinner table and enjoy the good company necessary to ensure good digestion. It's safe to say that we would not make good Other People. We don't move that quickly, and it's hard to move-and-read without getting hurt. And we truly need our familial gathering time, or all gastro breaks loose.

James and John have Scout Camp this week. They are having a blast with it. I am a little ooked out by having to pack lunches and send them out the door at 7:30 in the morning. No AM piano practice? No coffee on the balcony, listening to the practice? No jokes over breakfast? (Well, there are jokes, but not ones that make any sense. The Littles are funny in a different way, Charlie Brown.) 90% of the noise in the house is... gone.

John had a tournament game last night at 5:00. In another town. This was actually doable, except that he was so tuckered out from Camp that he fell asleep on the ride home, stumbled into the house and slept on the couch until I sent him to get his uniform on. He staggered back to his room and fell asleep on a bean bag. (I'm pretty sure he just fell over, and remained where he lay.) By some miracle, he got dressed and loaded both self and bat bag into the car. Then he curled up and slept all the way to the ball park in another town. DANG. That was one. tired. boy!

He played a great tournament game. Since it was just he and I, I got to sit up front with the other team Moms, and cheer until I went hoarse. I've never been able to enjoy a game like that before. We didn't get home until after 8:00! That's a 12-hr day! Yuck!

Thankfully, today is only be a short day. James asked if they'll at least be reading. I didn't tell him that it's all part of our evil plan, to make them want to read and study, even when it's not a formal part of their education. That might make him suspicious of all the books on the shelves... (but I am glad he likes a little light routine - that's good for the clutter, not to mention the soul). We'll walk by the creek (now that we can reach it), and we'll enjoy a nice, long supper together, followed by a little reading before bed.

Kiss those babies!