Tuesday, December 20

Got your Christmas On?

I think... maybe... we do. Maybe. Then I read blogs of interior designers, and I realize... my theme is sort of a rustic, 'manger' theme. I leap from the chair, high five the startled children, and whoop around the house, yelling, "We have a THEME, folks! We're good!"
Jacob's Den Christmas party was Friday, here at the house. We had several stations set up around the living area - garland making, paper crafts, leathercraft, cookie baking, and cookie decorating. 13 children, 3 adults, 500 square feet. Go! They made the cookies (and decorated and ate them in one fell swoop), made leather gifts for their families, and garlands and ornaments for their trees at home.

That was pretty awesome. But I have *great* parents who pitch in, and roll with it, and bring their fantastic suggestions to the table. They rock. And their kids? Their kids are so freakishly wonderful and amazing... :sigh: One Mom surveyed the activity, and all the children working, interacting, and playing. Smiling and wide-eyed, she turned to me and said, "You know, I wouldn't even attempt this with just any group!" Every adult youth leader should have this kind of a setup.
Zorak's company Christmas luncheon was Wednesday, and I got to slip off to join him for that. Then we did a little present searching before heading home. It was nice just to hold hands, stroll along in the crisp winter air, and talk about nothing in particular and everything in general. This year, with the master bath now being a functional bath, and the basement slowly becoming a functional game room, we had to come up with somewhere else to store unwrapped presents. So we got creative and borrowed the boys' foot lockers. One in each car, so no matter who picks up something, it goes straight into the foot locker. That has worked out quite nicely.

And so, that was last week. Lovely Christmastime.
Kiss those babies!

Monday, December 12

Another 10 Miles

(Argh! Blogger informed me, after I'd uploaded the post, that it no longer supports Firefox for the upload-from-Picasa function in Picasa. So, now I understand where random pictures disappeared. Carrying on...)

We took another ride this weekend. (Just realized I hadn't blogged about the previous ride. Last weekend, James and John began the rides required for completing the Cycling Merit Badge for Scouts. They'll have to plan and complete seven rides: two 10-mile, two 15-mile, two 25-mile, and one 50-mile. This weekend was their second 10-mile ride.) This merit badge may kill me, but the boys are learning a *lot*. They were up, dressed, had their gear packed and their bikes ready to load before Zorak and I had even thought to wonder if there was coffee. If I'd thought about punting (and I'm not saying I did, but yeah, I had), their enthusiasm and willingness to do a little thinking for themselves shamed me out of bed and into motion.
 Did I mention this badge may kill me? Yeah. We rode the Richard Martin trail, which is really not all that *hard*, except that, well, it's hard if you're old and out of shape. Or just a weenie. It's uphill both ways, I kid you not. The downhill portions aren't downhill enough to be able to coast and get that feeling of just cruising downhill, and the uphill portions aren't steep - but they are loonnnggg. So long.
Jacob hung with us like the champ that he is. Even when his deraillier dorked up and he was stuck in sixth gear. Even when the cold got to his nose and made it run, and made his eyes water. Even though he's grown about three feet since his birthday, and we'd already gone a couple of miles before I realized we needed to raise his seat. He never gave up, and he really didn't complain, at all. Again, if I'd considered whining, I quickly realized I had no wiggle room, there.
The scenery was beautiful. The few dogs we saw were mostly friendly. (One small dog with a Napoleon complex chased James down and nipped at his heels, but he was easily deterred.) We saw some neat places - a covered bridge, an old church, and some relic railroad cars. In all, it was a great day with the boys. And at the end, they could take a victory lap. (Or just sit there and raise their arms a bit.) Plus, Zorak had packed pie and milk in a cooler for us, so we got to sit on the trailer and watch the little Elkmont Christmas Parade while we chatted with the folks parked beside us and admired their horses.

Kiss those babies! ~Dy

Sunday, December 4

What's This? It's Christmas!

Our wee town Christmas Parade was yesterday. This was our 7th parade, and the first time we haven't been absolutely freezing. We took hot chocolate and peppermint bark, anyway. (And consumed it, anyway.) But it was so nice, we couldn't resist stopping by the park on our way back to the car.

One of our chairs gave up the ghost on our last campout. Of course, I forgot about it until we pulled it out of its sleeve yesterday. D'oh! But we had rope, and we had a Boy Scout, so we had a solution. It held! I was pretty impressed. (Also, I need to learn lashing.)

Jacob's Pack decorated the float themselves. They did such a great job. It was supposed to be "Scenes of Scouting", and that's just what it looked like, with the fishing, camping, archery, and boyish enthusiasm. They got 2nd Place in the judging, and the boys beamed all the way to the end of the route.

And we'd meant to put out the Christmas decorations this weekend. But our tree - oh, that poor tree. Two years ago, we lost a third of the lights on it. No amount of fuse/bulb changing could remedy the problem. We threw on extra strands and called it good. Last year, the stand broke. We made one out of wood, and called it good. This year, the wooden stand is MIA, and most of the lights (on the tree and the strands) don't work. Not to be deterred, the kids grabbed an axe and headed to the woods to find a tree. They found one. They got it down. They hauled it back. I'm going to love it because they picked it, and they worked together. (And nobody lost an appendage in the cutting of the tree!)

It's definitely beginning to look (a little) like Christmas!
Kiss those babies!

Saturday, November 26

Thanks, Given and Received.

 This Thanksgiving, we were thankful for much. For our kitchen, and all the things we are able to make in it (James helped with the pies)...
 For the children, who learn, grow, and love a little more each year (John made the bread)...
For friends to share the bounty of our table (the Pinot was good, but the name was just too precious to pass up!)...
And for the ability to enjoy traditions past and present, together, with joy and love. (Also, so VERY thankful Jacob and Zorak fixed the other long table in time for us to use it that day! It was so nice to have all 15 of us seated at one table for the meal!)

I hope your Thanksgiving was filling with blessings given, and received.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, November 7

Autumnal Doings

Wow! What a week this has been! The weather has been absolutely gorgeous - nights near freezing, days in the 60's. It's been dry enough to finish gathering wood for the winter, although so far we haven't needed to fire up the stove. (As much as brick is not my favorite building material, I grudgingly admit that it does have several fantastic characteristics. Heat retention is my second favorite.)
The kids and I have taken advantage of the cooler mornings to break out projects and activities we've neglected in the milder Autumnal weather. Paints, Beads, Boggle, and Monopoly were this week's fun. Gah! Look at that easel. It's taken more than one beating over the years - five kids, three moves, and whole lot of use. It's not terribly attractive anymore, but man, have we gotten (more than) our money's worth out of it! I love that thing!
I've done some cleaning, as well, in preparation of making the more elaborate meals that cooler weather facilitates. (Yeah, I'm gonna bake! Cookies, cakes, and probably pastas! Bring on the winter weight!) Zorak said he's ready to make the hanging pot rack for the kitchen, so I cleared that spot - got it dusted, blessed, prepped - whatever it takes. I'm ready for the pot rack! (Yes, our nuts are hanging in the basket. I'm not thrilled with that plan, but we're out of shelf space, and I was desperate to clear off that wooden shelf below, to make it look more intentional and less like a landing spot for leftover junk and random snacks.)

Zorak and the Volvo took on a charging deer the other morning. He always keeps an eye out for deer, just as a matter of habit, but this one came barreling out of the woods where they're the closest to the road, and there was no way to avoid him. This was a solid hit at 50mph! Thankfully, Zorak is fine. He was able to drive the car home, and I am now a die-hard Volvo fangirl. Also, we're in the market for another commuter car. :-)
And that's been about it. Busy. Good. Much to be thankful for, and in many different forms. (Jacob's reading Pinocchio right now. He's loving it, and hopes someone will make a movie that actually matches the book.)

Monday, October 31

The End of October

(Had some technical difficulties with the pictures. I think they're fixed, now.) Jacob broke out the Lincoln Logs one chilly morning. I love how their play mirrors their lives. See the awesome wood pile for the fireplace? (He took the chimney off for me, so I could see the interior layout, too. But a full wood pile, even in Playland, makes me smile.)
Em has a pair of shoes that she has loved to death. Actually, she hasn't worn them out yet, but she's dirtied them up pretty heartily. I hate to throw out anything that's still usable, and these still were. But oh, their once white, shiny ribbon trim was looking mighty gross, and we could not get it clean without doing some real damage to the shoes. So, we took a different route to the spiffing of the shoes. They cleaned up well, and the blacking on the ribbon gave new life to shoes that had been relegated  previously to the grunge pile.

Thursday, James had a follow-up appointment with the Ortho Surgeon for his arm. We expected a routine x-ray and a reminder not to overdo it on the physical activity. The way his bones had broken, and the trouble the surgeon had setting them, prompted all the people involved to warn us that while they *say* 6-8 weeks in the long cast, we really need to expect a full eight. And while they *say* 2-4 weeks in the short cast, we really need to be prepared for four weeks. So imagine our surprise when, after only five weeks in the long cast, the surgeon pronounced James' arm fully healed, and not in need of a cast at all! He's got a brace to wear when he's biking or hiking, and instructions to work on getting full range of motion back over the next week or so. He's one very happy camper, and I'm one very happy Mama.
The kids made their own costumes this year, for Halloween. We're following Dave Ramsey's plan for budgeting and finances, and it just doesn't make sense to blow $20 a piece on costumes they'll wear once or twice (well, the smalls will wear them well past Easter, but it's the principle of the thing). Plus, it's never hurt anyone to get creative. Being the team players they are, they got creative. And had a blast. These were two of their outfits: PacMan Ghost (used an old tarp and sign board - $3 total outlay, there), and Cinderella (she inherited the dress from a friend's little girl and although most of the sparkles have been loved off of it since we got it - she *really* loves this dress - all we needed was a blue headband a little glitter hairspray left over from previous projects - total outlay, there, about $1.50) Then we spent our holiday envelope money on a brisket and a great evening with friends, instead! Everyone agreed that's a better use of Blow Money, all around. :-)

Kiss those babies! ~Dy 

Monday, October 24

Weekend Camporee

I spent the weekend at the Camporee with the Boy Scout Troop. This was James and John's first time as grubmasters, and they absolutely rocked it. We may not be athletic, up on pop culture, or interested in fashion, but we know how to eat! I think the biggest hit this weekend was the boys' favorite winter-time soup: Loaded Potato Soup. It modifies beautifully for the camp (the pig pot didn't hurt - I don't think we have any dutch ovens large enough to serve 21 hungry Scouts!), is easy to make, and clean up is a snap (it helps that there was very little soup left over).
The days were gorgeous, but those mornings? Whooo - chilly! It got down to 29 degrees the first night, and the second was a warmish 34 degrees. The kids are tough, but I think they're agreed that they're going to need better sleeping bags if we're going to do this gig properly.
Zorak brought the Smalls out for a bit. They got to run in the woods (TICK CHECK! Always, always take your garlic, and check for ticks. *shudder*), watch the catapult launches, and enjoy a dinner with the Scouts. EmBaby found so many beautiful things tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the meadows and woods. She'd make a great naturalist, if she'll learn to take the camera to the plant and not the other way around.
All in all, though, it was another great outing. And I've finished out my Christmas list for Santa: good tents for the boys, a camera for Em, and some Ben-Gay and Epsom salts for me! There we go. That should just about cover it, yes?

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, October 18

A Beautiful Day for a Hike

The boys chose to complete their Hiking Merit Badge this year. This means we need to complete five 10-mile hikes, and one 20-mile hike. I've been... um, not hiking for the last 15 years. So, in order to ease me into this plan slowly, and to get a grip on what we need to gear up with (not to mention to ease me into this...) we decided to do a few trial hikes (of significantly fewer miles) to start.
 Zorak had Jake and Em at Cub Haunted this weekend, so the rest of us did a quick two-miler. The boys carried their 10 essentials and water for everyone. Jase got into the action, too -- he packed his bag with a ball, a truck, Gary the snail, and some pork rinds. I carried Jase part of the way in the Kelty carrier - but he was eager to put some miles on his wee feet, too. Also, we learned he does not need to be eased into this! (He did ask that we stop for a little playtime and a snack, though. Who are we to deny such a cheerful request? It was nice to sit in the beautiful weather and just be, visit, watch. Good stuff.)
We hiked along the river, and enjoyed the cool air, the dappled trail, the amazing birds. It was pretty great. Our pace? Deplorable. Or attitudes? Not bad. If we can get out the door a little faster, and with fewer reminders, I think we could get the hang of this and enjoy many miles along the Alabama trails.
Over the years, I've jokingly told the children that at least one of them needs to develop a love of backpacking, so I'll have a buddy to hike the Appalachian Trail with me one day. Wouldn't it be great if I had several? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, October 13

Weekly, ah, roundup?

Once a week blogging? It has guilt, but it seems to be about all I'm capable of, lately.

Sooo... this week in review...

Thor. Yeah, that was fun! I have no pictures, but it was fun. For the rest of the week, we finished a few projects for winter...

A rack for holding the firewood (salvaged t-posts and scrap metal - we do love our recycling program). This turned out nicely, and Zorak hopes to make two more to go with it, so we can sort the wood a little more efficiently. This latest set up is a far cry from the stray pile in the driveway we had our first winter here! Each new iteration shows some improvements (pallets, railroad ties, now this). Someday we'll have a pretty swanky plan!

The pantry looks like we've been battling (and losing) a raccoon invasion. I found a plan online for making a rotating can dispenser, and it looked too neat to pass up. So we made one. We pretty much half-assed it, but even with the few assembly-line errors, it's functional. I found some scrap Luan in the basement and got the green light to make the next one from that, instead of cardboard. If we can pull that off, the pantry just might end up raccoon-proofed. (It's not really raccoons, unless raccoons have taken to wearing boots and jeans. But we'll just say "raccoons" and you all know I mean "children", right? OK, cool.)
And we enjoyed an Autumnal evening with friends and a campfire. They bought a new tent and wanted to try it out, so we made a party out of it. Yes, that's ash in the air. Leaves will do that. Nobody caught on fire, set anything on fire (outside the fire ring), or broke a bone. We called the evening a success and headed home to let them take on the camping test. (Heard from my friend, K, the next day. She said the kids did beautifully all night. And, she's looking for an air mattress, for herself. These are the things you need to hammer out before you get too far from a Dick's, right?)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, October 6

A check up, a follow up, and a plan.

We had our Troop's planning meeting at our place this week. It was a blast, and the boys came up with some fantastic ideas for the coming year. They were enthusiastic and engaged, which is always a good thing. (It helps if you give them food, first. And fire. Fire is always good.)

I had my follow up with the dentist this week. All is well, and I got asked to the prom. I love his sweet, silly staff! My also-sweet-but-proper dentist... well, he'll get used to us, eventually.

James had a check up with the surgeon this morning. I about passed. out. upon seeing the x-rays (honestly, I was expecting things to look like they are trying to knit back together, at least a little bit maybe, at this point - yeah, they don't, at all), but the surgeon is quite pleased with the healing process and wants to see him again in two weeks. He seemed to be able to see the gaping holes, but since everything is straight, he's not worried. M'kay, then, we won't worry (much), either.

The weather is gorgeous, and I am chomping at the bit to get out and do some hiking before things get cold and damp and windy and wintery. In honor of my latest fixation, the boys have kept busy picking out places to go. (Actually, I think they're picking out places so that they can have some control over the terrain and access to food, shelter, and emergency medical services. They're quick studies.)

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, October 1

It's the First of October!

October! Wow! We really need to get our outdoor projects wrapped up, and get some firewood stacked for the winter. Today, however, we're airing out the tent...

And heading into the woods with friends...

And generally having a grand old time.

Kiss those babies~

Friday, September 30

This was a fun one!

I discovered our camera (the one that's about to die) has a "self portrait" setting on it. I'm not sure what it does, precisely, but I do know that it means I can cross that arm extension surgery off my wishlist. That, and photos of all of us don't have to be one giant conglomeration of nostrils and eyeballs. WooHoo! Now, to figure out how not to lean so far back that my chin gets sucked into my neck...
I'm not sure what Jase was looking at, either. He really was having fun. He rode the carousel every chance he got. But from the expression on his face, it looks like he's waiting for one of the carousel horses to take off. *shrug* Maybe he knows something we dodn't. Anyway, today was a homeschool event at Spring Park. We met some friends there and enjoyed the festive atmosphere.
It's a small park, but maintained so beautifully, and laid out so thoughtfully, that it's easy to spend a whole day there without getting bored. Hungry, yes. But not bored.
Actually, I think there's a food stand there, as well, but by the time it opened, we were ready to head into town for ice cream. Which I then had to flake out on because of some stoopid hot flashes. I really hope it's sleep deprivation, or not enough red meat in my diet. Something. 20 years of this before hitting any of the actual perks of menopause really doesn't sound like a hot deal. But the walk through downtown Tuscumbia was nice.
We hit the Jack's drive-thru for milkshakes, instead, and when we got home, half of us napped and half of us played games for a bit. This silly game is one they all enjoy - Toss Up (Toss It? I honestly don't remember. I just take the pictures and keep score.)
The weather was gorgeous. The kids had a lovely time. I am completely bushed. And now, to bed.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 29

The Canoe Trip

The boys went on a canoe-camping trip with their Troop last weekend. Between sign-ups and launch, we lost several to injuries and unexpected soccer tournaments, so only three boys ended up going. That didn't stop them from having a blast, though.

Jodi, the awesome owner of the marina they launched from, offered use of his services and a supply boat for their gear. The boys paddled out to the island, then unloaded the boat, set up camp, and enjoyed a great campout. That island is a bit of a party island for the local... party crowd. So the boys picked up trash while they were there. Between the three of them, they filled six 35 gal. trash bags and hauled it off the island! Wow! I'm glad they understand the importance of leaving a place in better shape than you found it. Can you imagine how beautiful it would be if everyone lived by that philosophy?

They had time to explore the various islands and bluffs while they were there. They marked a few places they'd like to go back and explore more. They fished and fished. One of the boys had a catfish on the line that was big enough to break the line. That left an impression!

 (That's a plow disc behind John's head, not huge hair or a jaunty hat.) I wish I could have gone. It sounds like they had an absolute blast.

They paddled over to an RV park on the far side of the lake for a soda. The owner of the park came out to visit with them a bit - invited them to karaoke that night (the boys were out cold before it started, but the adults said you could hear it clear across the lake!), and gave them some goodies just for fun. Nice people. I appreciate them being kind to our Scouts.

Then Zorak sent me this picture the next day. Because he's cool like that. Isn't that a gorgeous sight to wake up to in the morning?

We have a planning meeting to get the coming year sorted. I hope the boys are up for more adventures, and that they all get as much out of Scouting as they can. It will be time well spent.
Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 26

Week (an'a half) in Review

So, since last we surfaced for air...
We made sour cream and cheese,

We went fishing,

James broke his arm, then turned 13 (he got surgery for his birthday! Not quite what he'd asked for...),

 And we've... well, yeah, that's about it.

 The older boys went canoeing this weekend. I'm waiting on picture from that trip, since I had to stay home and watch Those Who Cannot Cook For Themselves. It sounds like they had a good time, though!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, September 14

Bring Out Your Dead!

I tossed Monty Python and the Holy Grail into our Netflix queue for this weekend. The Boy Scout Camporee this fall is going to be Holy Grail themed.

I'm torn between feeling this is a *wildly* inappropriate theme for Boy Scouts, and being really, really excited, because the itinerary sounds like a total blast. (There will be a killer rabbit!) It's hard to balance reverence/irreverence, sometimes.

Anyway, the boys haven't seen more than a few clips here and there, and the weekend will be significantly more fun if they've seen the movie. (I knew this would be an issue as the Scoutmaster mentioned the activities, and others in the room promptly chimed in with pertinent quotes from the movie. The boys looked most confused when somebody asked if they'll have a duck for the weighing of the witch. So, ok, yeah, that makes zero sense if you haven't seen the movie.)

I suspect Zorak will take the three littles fishing, if only to get out of having to sit through an entire Monty Python movie. (I know! The poor man. I can barely remember plot lines from important movies we've actually seen together. You would not believe how often he'll quote a line and I'll tell him, "Hey, that sounds like an interesting movie. We should watch it." And yet, I can still quote entire swaths of Monty Python, which I haven't watched to any extent in 25+ years. I don't know why he loves me, but I'm glad he does!) Also, I'm looking forward to sharing something with the boys that *I* remember first discovering in my youth. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

Kiss those babies!

Domestic Bliss? Sure, okay.

Today, I wished it was still Saturday. Saturday, we ate with friends, enjoyed the mother of all household bon fires, played with the kids, and wallowed in the gorgeous weather.

Today, we were at the dentist again, then to the post office, the museum, music lessons, gas, errands, groceries, Scout preparation, and... and that's when I fell asleep on the couch. The Novocaine had worn off, but the Ibuprofen hadn't kicked in, so sleep seemed best.

Naps were a lot more restful before I had small children. Namely, Jase. A prone adult figure just begs to be scaled, leapt from, leapt on, kneed, poked, and coated in whatever he's eating at the moment. I'm sure it's great fun when you're three, but it's not so much fun for the prone adult.

Zorak made enchiladas (because he loves us), and then we enjoyed piling everybody on the couch to watch Shaun the Sheep. By the end of the day, I was glad it was today, because even the busiest of days end up with all of us, together. I can't beat that.

Kiss those babies!