Sunday, April 24

Color us contented!

We are notoriously non-crafty people, Zorak and I. As such, we tend to forget (or blow off) the craftier aspects of holidays. Paper chains, doily hearts, and even, I'm sorry to say, Easter eggs. Every year we insist to one another that we'll do better. Every year, we experience some kind of neurological twitch that blows the whole thing, and the kids end up bringing us unearthed boxes of egg dye in September, asking if we can use them now. Well, not this year!

This year, we dyed those eggs. There were rainbows, and layers, and wax. (And plenty of supplies, from prior years' boxes...) The kids really got into it, and just did a fantastic job. As a matter of fact, we're so flush with the joy of pulling it off that I'm thinking next year we'll go Big Time and try Pysanky. (That gives me a year to remember to buy/build/borrow the pens... someone remind me of that in a couple of months?)

I think a few factors really came into play. One, the balcony. There's room, there's light, and there's absolutely no worry about messes. It's like having an actual studio right off the school room, but one I don't have to *clean*. Another is the round yard sale table Zorak picked up last year. It's a fantastic table for doing crafty things - sturdy enough to handle Jase clambering about on it, large enough to fit everybody comfortably working around it, and at $10, I don't feel compelled to worry if it gets stained. Actually, between the Christmas cookies, the gingerbread houses, the kite-making, and now the eggs, it's starting to look quite colorful and festive.

The kids and their attitudes make the whole process infinitely more enjoyable than we are prone to expect it to be. I love them for that. And finally, I think we're just wrapping our minds around how much these things can mean to the little guys when we can relax and let it be about what it ought to be about: spending time together, doing something delightful, learning something new, and enjoying the whole thing. So, that's what we're doing. Pretty crafty!

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, April 21

Busy and Beautiful

It's just been gorgeous, here. Even with the rain. And in spite of the storms. And the tornadoes. But if you grade on a curve, it's been gorgeous. And we've been delightfully busy! No curve needed.

We have five new fruit trees to put in -- 2 figs, 1 nectarine, and 2 plums. The boys dug the holes, but Zorak and I both keep forgetting to pick up peat moss when we're out. There are figs on the trees already, though, so we need to get on that. Perhaps this weekend?

In the meantime, we've been tending the other things. The pears are looking good. The apple trees haven't died yet (we'll grade on a curve, with those poor things). The blueberry plants all have blueberries! Very exciting. EmBaby has added three other flowering something-or-others to her growing collection of perennial flowering plants. And she's getting quite good at identifying them, which is great, because I can barely remember the things I've put in, and it's a sure bet we're going to need her input in the years to come. If I can just convince her to develop a deep affection for shade-loving plants, the front yard would look spectacular!

The strawberry plants aren't faring so well. Something keeps eating the leaves off the plants. Whatever it is, it's leaving the berries alone, but that's not helping. Now we just have sad, wilty plants with wee green berries and no leaves. Whatever it is also has no interest in the plant inside the trap we set near the plants. Clever critter. I need a more clever planting scheme, it seems.

The kids are wrapping up their schoolwork, and doing so well in all regards. We're toying with the idea of doing an Herbology-meets-Potions Summer Intensive Course, studying essential oils, indigenous plants and their culinary and medicinal uses and, of course, the always handy What Not To Eat Under Any Circumstances list. At the end of the study, I'd like the kids to have a basic grasp on making balms and salves, tinctures and poultices. They'll hopefully have a few things to keep in their backpacks on hikes and campouts, as well as a seriously beefed-up herb bed.

Zorak's shoulder is healing just beautifully. He's out of the sling, and moved on to doing weight-bearing exercises. He showed off last night by replacing the dead light fixture in the kitchen. Good stuff. And now I can see on that side of the kitchen at night! Yay!

There's more, but it's late. However, I just read this article, from The Happiness Project, and it inspired me to remember to do what I love, instead of putting it off. Voltaire wrote, "...a beautiful secret is to live at home." I love that imagery, and I love this life, in this home. But there are other things I love, as well, that fall by the wayside -- not intentionally, but due to some fault of my own to mind my time well and keep myself focused at will. I get wrapped around the details of getting things done, and have forgotten to stop and remember the moments at the end of the day. I miss that. And so, here I am.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 11

Fun on the water

First of all, it's fun being three. Mainly, you can fish without having to worry about what to do with the fish you catch. He didn't even want a hook - just threw the weight into the water and reeled it back in. For an hour. Good stuff, that.

A friend of Zorak's invited us to go sailing on Saturday. We went, and had a truly lovely time. Oh, my gosh, it was spectacular! I found myself wishing we'd bought a place on the water. (We'd considered it, but when we learned of EmBaby's pending arrival, we decided we weren't up for having wee non-swimmers on a lake-front home. We're just not that organized.) Still... life in a flotation device can't be that bad, could it?

James enjoyed the rigging. And the tacking. And all the little details that make sailing what it is. I think our friend has awoken the seed of interest, there.

The rest of the crew enjoyed it, as well, but I think the allergies kept them from firing on all cylinders. James has dealt with allergies since he was five. This is the first year ALL THE REST OF US have them, too. It's like we're walking around in a haze. Blech. Doesn't stop us from enjoying the days, but it sure cuts down on our ability to focus.

At the end of the day, nobody was burnt (YAY!), everyone had fun (YAY!), and four of the kids were asleep before we hit the highway (um... not so yay). We hope to do this again soon. It was a lot of fun.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 3

A Busy Beginning

The big boys camped this weekend, so the littles and I worked around the house, then headed out for a little yard-sale action. I haven't had the umpf to try this with all five, yet, so a dry run with the smallest three seemed the most do-able. (I figured if it works with the least cooperative, then we're golden.) They were awesome and fantastic. I'm sure the stop at Dollar General for junk food before we hit the list of sales didn't hurt one bit.

Didn't find any bookshelves or patio furniture, which is what I'd hoped to find. But we did score some awesome lamps (for the bedroom re-do that I had to mention to Zorak when he got home and wondered aloud where on earth those lamps were supposed to go... it's, um, a project... for later... when your arm is healed and you build me the Farmhouse Bed for my birthday or Christmas... or something), a Springform pan (I now feel like a real grown-up), Dockers (for the child who can't just go grab something from the basement because, well, that's the joy of being the eldest - we don't keep spares for your random and uncontrollable growth spurts), a necklace (because who can pass up a string of pearls a'la Maggie Simpson for the girl, right?), a terra-cotta pot (to plant things in, because we do not have a single pot for planting things in, and this comes up a surprising number of times throughout the year, believe it or not - so, now we do!), and some other things I can't quite remember.

Then the pollen hit. And it laid the three smallest quite low, in a sneezy, snotty pit of springtime despair. Ew. We called it a day and went home to snuggle with the tissues and clary sage oil. *sniffle* Meatballs, salad, and a movie. Jacob was excited to be able to pick the movie for a change.

The bigs got home at some unholy hour. I have no idea. I was sound asleep, in spite of trying to stay awake through three episodes of Eureka and two chapters of some book. (The book was my downfall. It's like having someone read me a bedtime story, but without needing someone else to do the reading. Out like a light in two chapters!)

What with the pollen and the general trip exhaustion, we did not make it to church today. We did not make it much of anywhere past the compost bin, actually.

And then, this afternoon, we had company. A sweet couple and their precious little baby boy. They're new here. He just started working with Zorak. She and the wee one have been staying with family while he house hunts, and they think they've found something. (*yay* it's on this side of the river!) They're expecting Baby2 in August. That poor woman has got to be exhausted beyond reason, but she's quite lucid and sweet and chipper. I wanted very much to offer up any of the beds for her to take a nap, but instead just held the baby so she could eat with both hands. (Didn't want to scare her off on the first visit.) Still, I should probably tip her off that this is a safe place to hide if she needs a nap in the future. We'll watch the babies, just close the door and pull the curtains...

And there we are, another week is up and running!

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, April 2

A Good Turn

Jacob's Scout Den has been very busy since we've made some changes to the whole set-up. It was a little touch-and-go there, for a while, but it's been wonderful. We have a small Den, with only three boys in it, but they've been busy little beavers - uh, wolves - the past few months.

The boys have gone to the Indian Mound museum. They've learned the protocols for Flag etiquette and hosted an outdoor flag ceremony. They've made kites. They've staged plays. They've covered the well-known knot-tying lessons, complete with ways to finish off loose rope ends! And most recently, they picked up the roadside for a service project.

Those kids *hustled*! (And yes, that's more than three boys, there. That's two whole families' worth of kids. It's how we roll.) They cleared all of the trash from both sides of this stretch of road, and never a complaint. Well, except for Jase, but we asked him to put a whole lot of wear on those wee legs of his that day. He got a well-earned piggy back ride, in the end.

The kids made trash pokers - flat-headed nails duct taped onto the ends of dowel rods. They wore gloves and everybody had a bag. We only turned back because all the bags were full to bursting and we were afraid we'd have a blowout if we pushed on any farther.

I was so impressed with the boys and their attitudes on this endeavor. And the best part is that they've asked if we can do it more often. That's Scouting in action! Love it! And I appreciate the willingness of the other Mom to step up with me and keep it going. She is just awesome beyond words.

With the weather finally breaking free from winter's grasp, it looks like we'll be doing a lot of great stuff this Spring, too.

Kiss those babies!