Thursday, February 25

Out of the Gate

Aren't the baseball pros still down in Florida for their training? (Or preparing to head to Florida, once it warms up down there...) It was *below freezing* when we left practice tonight. That's just too cold to be sitting on metal bleachers, I don't care where you live, or how Viking your ancestors were. (And mine were not. My family seems to hail from some semi-arid region, and is of a culture that does not engage in outdoor activity beyond certain very comfortable parameters.)

But the boys? Happy as frozen clams. "Did you see how I was catching tonight, Mom?" "Did you see that throw, Mom?" "Did you remember to blink often so your eyeballs didn't freeze open, Mom?" Yes, honey, yes, I did.

I also remembered coats, scarves, and hot chocolate. (That's right, folks! I'm not the neglectful mother, this year! Let me know where to forward the Banner of Shame.) Yet three hours later, my pinky toes are still so cold, they burn. How embarrassing would it be to get frostbite from sitting on my butt at the park!

Tomorrow is JakeRabbit's first practice. Supposed to be just as cold. I wonder how awkward it would be to take a couch cushion, since I don't have a stadium chair?

At least Zorak will be home, so the Littlest Ones don't have to go, too. And tonight, we came home to fresh chili and a fire! Really, it all evens out quite nicely. Happy kids, full bellies, and eventually, warm toes.

Kiss those babies!

Blame it on Lent

Well, maybe not. I'm not sure how God is with the whole Striking With Lightning bit these days.

However, I did decide to stop vying for time *alone* in the evenings. Something had to give, but what? Reading time with the boys? No. We're not giving that up, and we can't really shorten it. (They keep adding to the stack, anyway. I'll be reading to them from my death bed if I shorten our nighttime reading.) Time spent tidying the kitchen? No, that one is a sanity-saver come sun up. Time with Zorak, alone, together, speaking in full sentences? Somehow, I don't think sacrificing that is the best thing in the world for a marriage. And I like Zorak. I want to keep him, always.

The only thing left was my late night foray to stay up and blog. It wasn't working, anyway. The Bigs' read-aloud time lasts longer than the Littles' does, so Zorak gets done first and beats me to the computer. (My grand plan to hook up the old computer in the basement fell tragically short because I can't get it to connect to the internet. I seem to have misplaced... the modem. Yeah, not sure how that happened.) Zorak and I are both night owls, so in order to get time alone and on the computer, I'd have to stay up until well past two in the morning. Even then, there was no guarantee. After falling asleep on the couch several nights in a row, waiting for the computer, I realized I was being silly. Very Silly, Indeed. *sigh* That's always embarrassing.

Lent just happened to be an excellent opportunity to quit being Silly. So far, I've been a'bed by eleven six nights out of seven. The extra rest helps. I'm more productive in the morning, able to spend time in study more often. I'm a much nicer mother before noon, too. But boy, does it make for a dull blog. And no photo editing time, either. I'm not sure why I feel pressure to include photos with blog entries, anyway. (Yet I do! Just a peek into my weirdness, I guess.)

So here's a quick recap of the last week or so:

~ We fed a stray. Turns out my Mother was right. They do stay if you do that.
~ Jase is LOUD. I mean, unbelievably LOUD. ALWAYS.
~ Baseball kicks off today. (*whimper*) It will be in the low-low 30's at practice tonight. One kid has practice, another, a meeting.
~ James is anxious (both excited-anxious and fretting-anxious) about taking golf lessons this Spring. No clue what's up with that.
~ The Pinewood Derby is this Saturday. The boys have done amazing things this year. It's not unusual to go to the basement and see a boy with a torch, melting weights, or a boy with a drill press, making holes. They may not win, but they will have learned a great deal, and had a lot of fun, and that is, for us, the point.
~ Netflix really needs to get Season 4 of Big Love on DVD. Seriously. This is important.
~ EmBaby knows where to find, and how to use, the shut-off valve on the toilet! I don't think I've ever been so proud of the sense and composure of a four-year-old in my life.
~ We've had company every Saturday for the last month. As of Monday, the boys have officially petitioned that we re-define "Company Clean". They say this pace is killing them, and that someone will figure out The Truth, eventually, so why not just use that to help weed out the weak ones. (Yes, I'm both proud and horrified at the same time. Parenthood will do that.)

And, I think that's it.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 17

Mid-Winter Curriculum Yearning

It's the middle of the winter. The middle of the school term. The middle of the same books we've been looking at for months. Not a thing wrong with what we're using. Except that... it's the same. old. stuff.

I really need to remember this point, and schedule in some Radically Interesting And Different program for us to use in February and March. That would probably eliminate at least a few late nights bouncing between Project Gutenberg, Veritas Press, Amazon, and Myriad Booklists.

Or maybe not. Sometimes it's just fun.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 15

Classic Winter Weirdness

Happy Survival of Valentine's Day! We made chocolate covered strawberries. They were ugly, but oh, so delicious. That was pretty much the extent of our celebration. James filled us in on trivia he'd picked up about the holiday. And the boys enjoyed Fun With The Camera. Yeah, that was about it. We're high rollers, here.

Awoke to yet more snow this morning. All together, I think we've had about four inches this year! It's like living in Alaska, compared to our regular winters! The boys are in heaven. I don't know what they'll do if-or-when we ever go skiing somewhere with Real Snow. But we can't do that until we can convince Jase that he will be MUCH happier if he'll leave the gloves ON. So, we've got time.

And in the meantime, we're going just a little bit stir crazy. The kids get out, then in, then out, then in, then out. Then I threaten to lock the doors and they decide if I'm going to do that, they'd rather be in. So in they stay, to have more Fun With the Camera and Physics!

How are you staying sane this winter?

Kiss those babies!

Friday, February 12

Today, we hide!

We've been out of the house every day this week. For homebodies like us, that is wrong on so many levels. Not to mention, leaving the house dinks with our mojo and then we get *nothing* else done around the house aside from... getting ready to leave the house.

I'm sure there are those who would say homeschooling is to blame, but in all honesty, I've been like this my whole life, and I've got almost two decades of institutional education under my belt. I was late for most of it, too. Some of us just aren't meant to be corporate go-getters. We know who we are. It's okay. You're safe, here.

So today, we plan to hide. We'll clean the house and have it ready for the weekend activities (whimper...) We'll bake bread to keep the living room warm (love that!) We'll catch up on our reading and spend time together. We've missed that. It's amazing how relatively cranky we all get when we can't just *be* together, at least a little bit, each day.

On other Domestic Miscellany fronts, I got my oils in yesterday! Grapeseed Oil and Squalene Oil. It's for making facial oil, but I told the boys I've decided to become a mad scientist. Then they learned where the Squalene comes from, and asked if, perhaps, I wasn't referring, instead, to alchemy. Goofballs. Hopefully, I'll get a batch mixed up today. I do hope KathyJo knows I'll be calling, begging for help, and that she'll be on speaker phone because there's likely to be oil *everywhere* and I won't be able to hold the phone. It's a good thing I don't want to make soap, isn't it?

And, that's about it, on the homefront! Well, there's a titch more, but I can't blog about it, just yet. (Not pregnant. Not moving. Nothing *big*. Well, not *big-big*.)

We're off to read!
Kiss those babies!

Thursday, February 11

It's over!

I was afraid to say anything until I awoke this morning to verify it, but yes, it's true; yesterday is OVER! It was one of those amazing days, where one bizarre thing after another piles on your back, clutching at your neck, sticking a clingy little foot into your spine, pulling your hair. You blink and rub your eyes, wondering if you've developed vertigo.

And there were tortillas everywhere.

My saving grace is that once I could breathe, and quit foaming at the mouth, I could sit down with the big boys and tell them a story -- how the morning was going, from my perspective -- and they got it. They sat there, wide-eyed, trying not to laugh, shaking their heads sympathetically. When I was done, they intoned quietly that they were pretty sure the day was salvageable. And then we laughed. We laughed like nervous people at a funeral, but at least we laughed.

We never quite got on the ball. We missed music lessons entirely, standing in the checkout line at the grocery for a full 30 minutes longer than even the most pessimistic shopper could have foreseen. But you can't just leave, at that point. Not with that much food in your basket. Not unless you want the produce guys to take you DOWN the next time you enter their domain.

We didn't clean the car. We didn't go to the museum. We didn't make it to Bible study. We didn't even really stay on top of the kitchen.

But we did do lessons, and we did eat supper as a family. We did laugh, and we did read. And in the end, we got through it. Although, I forgot to get more tortillas at the store.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, February 10

Appointment Week

(With apologies to Bill Cosby and Picture Pages)

Appointment week, appointment week
So much to do appointment week!
Time to see the chiro and the dentist!

Everybody had dental appointments Monday, which was fantastic, as we could just nail it and not have to do that again for another six months. A two-hour block is a small price to pay for not having to go in waves, or, worse yet, one. at. a. time. The kids don't think so, but they're kids. They aren't in on the logistics.

John needed to have one sealant redone, and one little cavity that needed some attention. And that was the only problem! Everybody else looks great! (Considering our past history, even the kids were high-fiving people at random.) We were told to back off on the flossing, which nearly caused Smidge to fall right off the table. Zorak and I have been quite the floss-drivers the past year, it seems.

I had my three-month follow up with the periodontist yesterday. The bone scan looks great - the grafts have taken beautifully, and everything is in excellent shape! I didn't realize how anxious I was about that until I got home and collapsed, exhausted, on the couch. The kids thoughtfully let me lie there while we watched the Reduced Shakespeare Company. They even brought snacks and Snuggies. These kids are born nurturers, aren't they?

Oh! And, not appointment-related, but makes me happy: I've finally found a carpet stain remover that may cause me to quit inflicting curses on various members of my family and that lying Olefin spec sheet. So, that's kind of exciting. I'll let you know how that works out. (Because you're dying to know, aren't you?)

We have at least two more appointments scheduled this week, and then, I think we're done. Until next week.

[closing] "You can schedule Appointments,
Fill your day with Doctor Visits,
'Till it's time to have another Appointment for you!"

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, February 7

Scout Sunday

Or, so I heard. Tonight. After the fact. *sigh* This whole schtick about putting the boys in charge of things is really not panning out well, here. I keep telling myself it's because he's new to it... but there's not a lot of conviction behind this particular mantra, to be honest.

As it was, we at least nearly made it to our church on time. We're meeting in the fellowship hall right now, because it's easier to heat. I have to admit I kind of like it. Even if we have to sit "in the back", we're not that far from the pulpit, so the kids can still pay attention. Plus, the bathrooms are right there, and there's no trekking across the breezeway in the cold to get to them. Of course, there's also nowhere to take Jason when he gets loud(er), except outside. That's not so much fun.

Me-Wa and Me-Tae showed up today. The kids absolutely lit up when they saw them walk in. EmBaby scurried up to sit with them, and she was as quiet and attentive as you could ever hope (in those wild, crazy daydreams mothers have, where their children are suspiciously quiet, but nothing's actually being damaged... yeah, she was *that* quiet!) Smidge was a little appalled that he didn't get to go sit with them, but I didn't want to just dump all the kids on them unexpectedly. I did warn them that next time they'll probably be buried in the deluge of migrating children as soon as they sit down. (They didn't seem phased. They are so cool.)

We had grand plans for the afternoon, too. But our Netflix had arrived. And there was caramel corn to make. And once we got the fire going, everything was so cozy. Not to mention, I think lunch was laced with a sleeping drug. (The smoked venison, sliced thin, served on fresh whole wheat bread with horseradish, cheese, onions, mustard... baby carrots, and green olives on the side... pintos with cheese... mmmm...) Everybody was somewhat lethargic after lunch. (Imagine that!) What's a family to do, right?

Tomorrow's a marathon day - dental checkups, follow-up visit with the chiropractor for John, and back to the grind for school! Guess I should catch up with Chuck or Modern Family and get to bed!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, February 6

Derby Day

We had an unofficial Derby prep day today. (Because it's that season!) First, the boys went bowling with their Pack. Zorak took EmBaby and James, too, which left me free to clean and declutter to my heart's content. Mostly. There was Jase... and Buddy... but you'd be amazed how much time a movie, a couple of milk bones, and a bowl of frosted mini wheats can buy you!

Shortly after the crew got home, our guests filtered in. It was just a few boys from a couple of packs who needed access to tools, and some dedicated time to work on their cars. And food. There's always food. Today, we smoked the hind quarter from a deer. ~drool~ I honestly think that I could eat some form of red meat for every meal, every day. But I digress.

The nice thing about Children Who Listen, and being able to select your group based heavily upon that criteria, is that you can *do* things like this that you wouldn't even think of trying with a random group of children who may be likely to chase one another with power tools, or pull the mat out from under each other while making a cut. (And they are out there. Oh, yes.) These are great kids, though, and they listened. They learned. They got to work the drills, learn how to chuck things into the drill in order to file them or polish them, how to use a band saw and jigs and such... without actually endangering limb. (Life or limb, but limb's the most likely thing to go, if you're not careful.)

It was a small group - about six kids, which allowed us to take the kids through in waves, giving each child instruction and guidance and one-on-one time so they could do their own work, while the others worked at the drafting table, or the axle station, or ran in the back yard with Buddy.

Their parents had a good time. The kids had a good time. We know we've done our job when the children bounce up and down, asking when they can come back again.

Thursday, February 4


I was JOKING about the theme for this year being a better filing system! I didn't WANT a new theme! I was happy with,
"Oh, hey, look, it's 2010... how'd that happen?"
That was a perfectly acceptable theme, to my way of thinking.

God, however, being the God of life... and humor... had another plan. His plan is that we WILL learn exceptional time management and resource allocation skills. Or die in the attempt.

You see, so far, this year, we've only had one Really Busy day each week: Wednesday. That's our grocery, car wash, stray errand, music lesson, Bible study day. It starts at noon, for Pete's sake! It's not like we're good at this.

But, starting tomorrow, when we sign away the next four months of our lives, it's all going to be a nightmarish jumble of Things We Do For Our Children (or, more aptly called, Crap We Couldn't Talk Our Way Out of, Although Don't Think We Didn't Try).

John wants to play ball again this year. He'll be in kid pitch.

Smidge then decided that yes, he'd definitely like to play (since John is playing). All attempts to remind him that he wasn't all that fond of baseball last year fell on deaf ears. "I'll like it this year."

And, of course, EmBaby's been counting on playing the split second she turned four. Some of you recall her attempts last year to convince us she was "three AND four", just so she could play last Spring.

Our weeks are now shaping up a bit frighteningly:
Monday - baseball, and Cub Scouts
Tuesday - baseball, and Boy Scouts
Wednesday - grocery, car wash, stray errand, music lessons, Bible study, and Baseball
Thursday - baseball
Friday - baseball
Saturday - all baseball, all flippin day -- heaven help us on the weekends Zorak is away at Scouting Stuff with James! (I cannot physically be in three places at once, and I guarantee we'll never have three games at the same field on the same day.)
Sunday - restock the cooler and the Shout stash, and try not to sleep through church

If I don't blog until June, it's because I'm drinking beneath the bleachers. Send burritos.

And, as always-always-always, Kiss Those Babies!

Wednesday, February 3

Quick Check-in.

The basement's coming along. It is very, very yellow. This is good, in that we meant to paint it yellow. It's just that it's... well, there's a lot of yellow down there, now. I'm hoping some furniture will help disperse the visual before the children start having nightmares about hanging Sesame Street hides on the wall. It does look great, though, in general. Very clean. That won't last, but for now, there's that.

Unfortunately, as with any (every) project, the finished portions only highlight (and not in a good way) the Rest of the Stuff. And so, we either need to buy the stuff for acid etching the floor and hanging a dropped ceiling, or we need to remind someone (me) that we're still saving up for the kitchen window and the range vent. We want the window, and we need the range vent (the ceiling above the stove is in danger of looking much like we must cook over a peat fire).

So, it's true that, at some point (or every point), the project list is just a titch bigger than the project budget. But it's all good, because we will never (ever) be bored.

The boys are completely on board with the work, though. They got the grand idea that it would make a *fantastic* playroom. Then I mentioned that I'd like to get some hanging chairs. "Like the ones at IKEA?" They asked. The very ones. That was all it took. Although, mixed in with their help, they've logged a lot of time on "joist appraisal", so they'll have located Just The Right Spots picked out for hanging the chairs, when the time comes.

Yeah, this is good.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, February 1

It's February?

Wow. Didn't see that coming.

I've given in to the fact that although I crave time ALONE, I function better and am a much more civil human being if I actually get some sleep. So far, I haven't convinced myself that time asleep counts as time alone, so we're still hashing that out, my inner Introvert and I. Also, no blogging. No picture editing. No writing. No building-of-interesting-things. Something's gotta give, or there'll be a mutiny of bizarre proportions. Unfortunately, it seems winter is the time that it's hardest for me to carve out that time to myself.

February bring daffodils and buds on the dogwoods. It brings pruning time and planning time. And, eventually, the sun will rise before noon, which will help. The master bedroom only gets the very early morning sun, and that only comes through the window in the door. So, when the sun comes up later, it's a lovely little cave. A sensual hidey-hole, perhaps? Well, not with five kids. With children stealing the covers and emitting body heat in exchange, I open my eyes just long enough to peek at the window and tell myself it's still two in the morning, then roll over and go back to sleep, never quite registering the digital display that proves my sense of time to be so poorly calibrated.

So, it's a season of life, and all that jazz. I get it. Still, there's got to be a way to get sleep, tend to the needs of the Zorak (this week, he needs me to paint the new wall in the basement -- quit being dirty-minded), keep the kids fed and relatively tick-free, the house below DefCon 3, the education going, and still be left alone long enough to write, think, read. Don't have a *clue* what it is, yet, but it's got to exist. That's what keeps me going, sometimes.

But most of the time, what keeps me going is this:

And if I blink, let alone wander off too much, I'll miss it!

Kiss those babies!