Tuesday, January 26

So, we made stew tonight.

Oh, and I cleaned my coffee pot. I mean harsh chemicals and scrubby pads and scalding water and a hazmat team, cleaned it. Yep, it's been that exciting around here, these days.

I've been busily blowing right past deadlines so far, in 2010: NLE registrations, *fwoosh*, gone; Candidate Open House for a lady planning to run for Governor *zooooom* sailed right past me. Thank God my dentist calls the day before to remind me of appointments, and is kind enough to call early in the day so I can remind Zorak that he'll have the kids! Because, yes, we are the Eternally Late leading the Perpetually Behind.

Oh, and today, when I got through to someone at Farmer's (23 minutes on hold) so I could beg them to take our money (they didn't want it online, or in the office - I tried - but today was the deadline, and that's just one you shouldn't blow, right?), the lady laughed and laughed at/with (ahhh, we'll say "with"...) me over the fact that we somehow only owed $12 for our insurance. See, that's what happens when you just wing the payment. Best we could figure from the forensic recreation is that I'd made a payment, forgot, and then made another one (thus, paying this month's bill last month), but just pulled a number out of thin air (not having any actual paperwork in front of me at the time) and called it good. She stayed on the phone with me while I jotted down February's due date on the calendar. Hey, I was going to get my customer service, after that wait! So, we're all set, and we both had a good laugh.

Perhaps 2010 should be my Year of Better Filing? Or maybe when Wells Fargo called to offer me my own Personal Assistant, as a "Thank you for being a valued customer," I should have taken them up on that instead of telling them that if they'd like to thank me and enjoy my appreciation, they can just lower my interest rate, instead, thanks.


No. No, I'm good with that one. I guess we'll focus on the filing system, instead.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, January 20

Classically Four

EmBaby asks, "Why did God give you an Emily?" Her favorite answer? "He knew we really, really needed one." She always smiles and says, "That's right!" I think she's got a good grip on the situation.

Sunday, she turned four, and so did all her dolls, and all the girls in her favorite stories, and her little ponies. It's a houseful of four-year-olds, if you ask her.

The timing wasn't that hot, on our part. (Not the birth, itself - we all know there wasn't much say we had in that!) But, it was a Sunday, which is a busy day for us. And then someone from work offered Zorak a deer, so there was a drive to pick it up - yes, that day. She had a birthday party/deer butchering party. Bit unorthodox, I suppose, if you don't live in the more remote parts of Russia. We were all busy, getting things done and visiting in between, so that's the best shot we have of the cake.

EmBaby went with Zorak and Smidge to pick up the deer, so I made her wear warm clothes that morning. She compromised by layering. A girl doesn't have to sacrifice feeling pretty just to stay warm, you know! Particularly not on her birthday!

There were stickers, which we are still finding in weird places on Jason. He has got to be the most patient little brother, ever. And there were the People We Love, who came to spend the afternoon with us, and help celebrate her into her new stage with love and cheer.

The felted jackal was fantastic with all the guests and activity. He stayed in the living room, of his own volition, while everybody ate. He didn't terrorize even the smallest guest. He had a lovely time. And when everyone left, he promptly crashed.

And, of course, she loved her annual serenade-by-phone, from LB and her tuneful crew. (Love the outfit. Her brothers picked out the skirt and headband for her. They're pretty good at having a sister!)

And it's shaping up to be a beautiful year!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, January 19

A Celebratory Weekend

Zorak woke me Saturday morning with a kiss, saying, "You get your birthday present a day early." I felt bad pointing out that my birthday is in July, not January. I also worried a bit, considering he's known this for 14 years, and he's had the actual date down pat for about eight years, now. But, no. No worries. He had the right date, and the right girl. He also had a beautiful sentiment...

He gave me a gift, to commemorate Emily's birth. A token of the work I'd done that day, and a loving Thank You for everything I do, every day, year in and year out. Talk about humbling! (And here, I was wondering if perhaps he needed a Palm Pilot to keep track of dates! Sheesh, what a dork.) That's it, up there: a pasta maker! I love it!

We spent the day, making pasta, trying new things, laughing, eating the mistakes. It really was the perfect way to honor our family, and all we share.

The boys were helpful and interested, and we all learned a lot. (Let the smoke right out of the pasta bottle, so to speak. That was cool!)

But I think they got a whiff of the whole meat grinder introduction (do you know how long it takes to grind 30 pounds of sausage by hand? *grin*), and while they hung in there and tolerated my weirdness, after a couple hours they dispersed to go do more varying things, like playing with Legos and cleaning the bathroom. EmBaby hung in there, though, cracking jokes, asking questions.

I introduced her to my favorite pasta obsession: CHEESE! Cheese IN the pasta! (Confession, I could eat my weight in cheese ravioli, cheese manicotti, and cheese-based-cheese lasagna. But I never buy it at the store, and I don't order it at restaurants because, either way, it would cost $90 to feed me on that stuff. But now??? Whoooeeeee! Yeah, baby! We're eating right!)

Em is a master crimper. She's awesome. And she's tough. She never left the counter to follow the siren song of Other Things. What a trooper, huh?

"I did it! Can we have pasta on my birthday, Mom?"

Yes, Baby, yes we can. With cheese.

I hope to earn that appreciation, day in and day out, from both him and the children. I know it sounds hokey, particularly coming from me, the Queen of "Suck it up and do yer job, already," but I am honored to be their mother, and his wife, and to have brought these children into this world. There's not another job in this world that would be worth it, to me.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, January 14

Delayed Response

I tried to post this yesterday from my phone, but my figurative VCR clock is still blinking on that thing, and I couldn't make it work. I may have inadvertently sent a death threat to Putin, though, so... yeah. Remember my Come Find Me post? Totally counts, even if the no-longer-KGB is involved, okay?

So, we got our order in from Yesterday's Classics. The boys perused the books on the way into town. When we arrived at the music store, Smidge held up a book and said, "Mom, we need to add this to my school!"

I looked up to see what he was talking about. Fifty Famous Stories Retold, by James Baldwin. He loves it. He read the first two stories on the drive! Score!!!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, January 12

The Quiet Times

I love winter. It brings quiet times. For years, I fought the rhythm of this time, trying to maintain the hectic, hurried pace of the Holiday Season. But that is some serious crazy-making, there. The past few years, I've chloroformed my not-so-inner control-freak shortly after New Year's Eve, picked up the notepad and favorite pen, and turned toward this time of quiet.

Once I quit fighting it, I found hidden, special times I'd missed before -- times of routine, and waiting. Times of quiet work, and preparation. Times for taking stock and weeding out the clutter. Plus, all that down-time for planning feeds my inner list-making-freak.

Well, ok, "quiet" is mainly metaphorical. But still. This is good. Spring will come soon, and with it, the endless list of things that Must Be Done Right Then - the pruning and planting, grading and mulching, sewing and painting, building and fixing. We won't have time to stop and breathe much, then. But right now, I plan to take the deep breaths, read the extra chapter, bake another loaf, have another cup. And enjoy the quiet.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, January 9

Snow Day

Well, first off, the low last night was 9 degrees. Nine! And the pipes didn't freeze. W00T!!

The "snow" is still around. The kids are thrilled. We've never had "snow" stay past noon, before. Granted, this is more ice pellets & chips on a bed of ice, and therefore infinitely more dangerous and less thoroughly enjoyable than the soft, fluffy snow I remember from my childhood. But I don't tell them that. It would spoil their fun, and keep them inside, staring wistfully through the window.

Since I kept my mouth shut, however, they came up with all manner of fun things to do, not the least of which was... Ice Hockey!

And after a while, they straggled in, one-by-one, for hot chocolate and a place by the fire.

Not a lot of snow, but a very good Snow Day.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, January 4

Think of A Happy Spot!!

(That's the Happy Spot.) Good grief, we've spent four years thinning our blood so we don't burst in these Southern Summers, and now we're ill-equipped to handle a chilly winter. We got up to 24 degrees today, according to the weather channel. Although, at one point, when it said 23, James checked the outside temp w/ the thermometer and it suggested a balmy and clear 16! I am, again and again, thankful for the wood stove, and the wood to put in it.

We started back to school today. The boys did a stellar job of it. We took the time before breakfast to do a quick term overview (where are we going and how shall we get there), then they gave me feedback on the books they read last term (what do you think of the transportation we've been using to get from Point B to Point Q?), and then we dove in.

James had some excellent suggestions for his work, and we agreed to implement them this term and see how they work. (I'm just so thankful he's willing to give it some thought! Honestly, even if they'd been relatively lousy suggestions, I might have given them the green light, with a few caveats, just to encourage him to keep being involved). He talked a bit today about wanting to put additional focus on his writing (knock me over with a sideways glance!) and his goals for producing quality work in greater quantity this term (*thud*). I just hugged him and quit, right there.

John's got a great attitude about tackling his projects and plans, and he's giving some thought as to where he'd like to go with Latin, from here. (I'm really hoping for LP1, to be honest. I love that program. But we'll see. It does seem to have made an impact on him, as he listened to James work through it. Today, when James read in his book (LBO), "He's hurrying from the house because he sees a sailor in the road," John piped up from across the room, "Yeah, he better run! I've heard about those sailors!" If you've done LP1, that's hilarious. If you haven't, it makes no sense, I know.)

Smidge dove right in, excited about everything except writing. We couldn't find his book, and the prospect of actually *looking* for it just about did him in. And then, he just couldn't bring himself to draw when he could be pestering his sister, who was trying to nap. But really, that's not a bad start after a break. Usually, between the three boys, we're having to locate at least four books the first day.

The Littlest of the bunch? Well, they had a hard adjustment today. Lots of crying and whining and yearning for snacks. I didn't realize how much extra attention they received during break (or how little actual, in-your-face time they get during the school periods). So, it looks like one of my goals for January will be figuring out how to educate the elder ones while not leaving the Littles to feel they've been left to the wolves. Or at least try to find a really nurturing wolf, right?

And on that note, I'm going to have apple pie and ice cream with my Littles and read some stories!

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, January 3

Happy New Year

We've had a quiet, recuperative few days. If I were going to get sick, this last week would have been the prime time to do it. Unfortunately, I waited until tonight, the last day of vacation, to get sick. Gotta work on my timing, but school this week may look an awful lot like the last week did...

(Note how James and EmBaby are kind of trying to smile for the camera. Jake has no clue I'm even talking.)

The kids and the dog are finding their groove. He's a delightfully patient puppy. It doesn't hurt that they spoil him rotten (see here, watching Saturday morning cartoons),

or that he has the choicest spots for leisure...

Zorak and I had romantic plans for New Year's Eve: in bed by nine and out cold by nine-fifteen, at the latest. However, at some point we've taught the children to tell time, and use calendars. No clue what we were thinking. So. There had to be New Year's Activity. We put the littles to bed, as normal, and stayed up with the bigs, playing games, drinking root beer floats, and finally -- completely blowing past the midnight hour in our focus on the game!

We wished everybody a Happy 12:05, at which point they hit the wall and were out by 12:20. Not bad. Not bad at all.

And that sentiment pretty well sums up our 2009. It wasn't what we planned, and some things went horribly awry. Some panned out well, and a few turned out better than we anticipated. In all, it was not bad. Not bad at all.

Happy New Year! And Kiss those Babies!