Friday, April 27

Back to work again!

As nice as it was to be home, we didn't have time to be still. We had this beauty waiting to greet us in the foyer:

It's a range hood for the kitchen! We got it up that week, and I took pictures, but seven years of cooking without a vent did a number on the ceiling (peat moss fire ring a bell? Ew!), which looks even worse with the sparkly shiny new hood in place. So that's going to have to be repaired before I'm willing to share photos.

And this fun pile in the drive!

We've used some of it to finish the drainage work that's been looming. The rest will go toward pouring a pad for the balcony stairs, and prepping the lower drive for the next project. (Of course there's a next project! *pfft*)

And, of course, we had a Day of Birth to celebrate.
How is my Baby Boy *four*? Wow. He is so glad to be four. According to him, he can have gum, and learn to read, and do whatever he wants to, now. Heh. Set his sights a little high there, but we're not going to knock him down. (Maybe that last one. We'll see.)

And it was nice that we made it back before the tulips that James and Em had planted were finished blooming. They weren't in their full glory, but the kids beamed to know they'd done the job well.

 It can't be all work and no play, of course. That's when people start setting things on fire or running away. And so, we've turned a little work into play, as well, at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.
We hit the Whooping Crane Lottery this year, and got to see juvenile whooping cranes at the Refuge before they migrated north for the summer. I wish I'd been able to get a better shot, but with my phone, this was the best I could do. Still, it was amazing!
 Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 25

And then...

We spent three days at Zorak's Mom's house. For him, it was three days of doing nice things for his Mom. (Electrical wiring, plumbing repairs, pouring concrete, etc.) For the kids, it was three days of pure, unadulterated kid-fun.

She made them pancakes and chocolate fudge brownies. (Jase cried for a week after we got home, "When are we going BACK TO GRANNY'S???")

They played with Legos indoors when the wind kicked up the sand.

They rode their bikes to the corner store when the wind died down.

They identified plants and critters and read some of Granny's book stash.

I served as the parts gopher, and washed a lot of laundry. Bless my mother-in-law, she understands how nice it is to get home with clean clothes instead of bags of dirty laundry, so she gave me free rein of the laundry room and let me get it done. That's some happy stuff, right there.

And then, to Texas - to the middle-of-nowhere to see KathyJo and her punkins (we missed Ernie, much to both of the guys' chagrin) - to Austin to see some dear, dear friends, there. Meredith and Jami and ALL the children in between.

And then, homeward. With a passion. We had a beautiful trip, but it was a full two weeks on the road, and the children were beginning to unravel. Zorak and I were beginning to grow road weary. It was time. We pushed on that first evening, then made the last dash home in a 17-hour drive the next day, pulling it at one in the morning.

We could have stayed another night along the road, but I couldn't quite muster the umpf to rally everyone up and out early one. more. morning. (The kids were fantastic! It was me. I was done with the mustering and the rallying.) So we plugged along.

Home again. The South had sprung up in buntings of white and orange, dotted with flowery ribbons of orange and yellow. Springtime in the South is one of the most beautiful, amazing things I've ever seen. (And quite a contrast to the sandblasting we'd received during a New Mexico Spring.) That blunted the sting of being away from loved ones, and warmed the welcome upon our return. Oh, how I love it here in the Springtime.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 23

Dancing Adventure

The night of Granny's party, there was a dance in town. ("Town" being Corona, pop. 165, bumped up to approximately 225 for the dance.) I completely dropped the ball on taking pictures for this trip. I was too busy having fun to even think about it. Thankfully, among the throng of people, there were a few shots I could pilfer from others to help frame out the day.

EmBaby had a hat, new pink boots and a pretty dress. She was set.

The boys, on the other hand, were a little uneasy. Dancing is not such a thing here in the South as it is in the Southwest. (It's actually somewhat frowned upon, in large part, here.) So they haven't been to dances, and we haven't danced in ages, just out of general lack of opportunity, and the whole concept hit them like a big foreign wall of awkwardness. "It'll be okay," we told them. "Just ask Granny to show you how."

They did.
They got it.

They danced the night away.

16 years ago, Zorak and I danced in that same building for Corona Days. We'd only been dating a few months, then. This year, we watched our children dancing, running, talking with family and friends. Then we danced. And we danced with the children. And we danced with others. But the highlight for me was dancing in his arms again. Oh, how I've missed that.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 22

The Great American Road Trip

Well, nuts. I can't get my phone to authenticate to Picasa. No pictures yet, then. (Also, I thought I'd posted this. Obviously, I've been in mental hibernation for a month.)
Since we don't really take actual vacations, we decided to make this one Official. We hit the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. From there, we included stops along the way to wallow in some of our Favorite People. We stopped in to see my cousin and her son, who we haven't seen in 13 years. (Man, kids grow a LOT in that time! Crazy!) Zorak got a wild hair and we splurged on a day trip to Six Flags. That was pretty impressive. EmBaby, it turns out, is a roller coaster riding fool. She loves the thrill of it. (This does not bode well for the year she hits driving age.)

We got to see Deb (who doesn't blog, but who is so busy being completely awesome in every other way) and Jarrod, and their Amazing crew. They took us to see fossils and play in the creek. We sat on their back patio area around a fire, watching the children play and talking about Life, the Universe, and Everything. They fed us well. (Oh, so well!) They make me want to live in Texas.

From there, we hit the family circuit -- Granny's, then to a cousin's (where there were easily 30 people, most of whom were children, absolutely scampering to and fro and having a wonderful time!),  Here, the children are dying eggs using silk ties. I'm so glad Zorak has crafty cousins because there is no. way. I'd have tried that with so many kids, raw eggs, and tile floors! They dispersed throughout the house to work on them, but notice how she kept the smallest of the crowd within arm's reach? She's smart, that one. The eggs turned out great, and the kids had a blast.

... and then to Corona for Great Granny's 98th Birthday celebration.

The field at Granny's was filled with cars as we pulled up. The kids were stoked. We got out and headed up the hill, anxious to see loved ones we haven't seen in years. As we neared the top, and the people came into view (perhaps 150, or so), John's eyes widened and his gait slowed. He whispered, "Are we related to everyone here?" Yep, kiddo. Mostly cousins, and all yours. :-)

The children disappeared into the cliffs with their cousins to search for rocks, snakes, petroglyphs, and adventure. Several of us had thought to bring wine. (Those two points are not connected, I think.) The food was unbelievable. The company was even better.

And really, for Springtime in New Mexico, the weather was pretty darned fantastic. It was windy, but that's what makes it Springtime in New Mexico. The sandblasting storms, though, held off until everyone had eaten and was already contemplating whether it was time to get ready for the dance. So that worked well. We got ready for the dance! (And I'll tell you about that, but right now, I'd best get ready for church.)

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 4


Granny turned 98 last month. And we were able to be there.

Of course, if you're going to drive 1200 miles, you don't just go eat a little BBQ, take a few twirls around the dance floor, and go home. No. At least, not with five children in tow. If you're going to go, go big and get your effort's worth out of it.

So, we spent two weeks on the road. (And the two weeks prior to that was all prep work and packing, which I couldn't blog about because, well, because for one, it wasn't very interesting, and also because I didn't want to announce to the world on Google that our home would be available for squatting.)

And this time, Zorak and I traveled well together! I can't tell you the joy that brought both of us - happy little smirks and discreet high fives along the way. We are an awesome team in so many areas, but travel has never been our strongest arena. I think in metaphors and literary adventures. He thinks in bullet points and destinations. (So, for example, when we cross the Mississippi, I want to pull over and think about Huck and Jim trying to navigate that on a raft - a RAFT, people! Whereas Zorak crosses and calculates whether it's best to stop for gas and coffee in West Memphis or wait for a truck stop.) Bless us, it's been all we can do to get moved across country a couple of times. But this time we were intentional, thoughtful, and purposeful.

And flexible.

And not a little giddy by the time we pulled in at home.

I'll post pictures and share more of the adventure after we run the million errands we have to run today. But I did want to touch base and say we are safe, sound, and still around.

Kiss those babies!