Friday, January 27

Turning 6, and Other Fun

 EmBaby turned six last week. I'd be having a hard time wrapping my mind around how on earth my baby girl is six, if she hadn't timed her birthday perfectly with some kind of sprinting Amazonian growth spurt. Suddenly, she's so TALL, and her legs are a bazillion miles long, and all her sweet little dresses are tunics. Thank heaven for leggings! I *just* got caught up on shoes and pants for the males in the house, and we haven't quite recovered that envelope yet. So, anyway, I asked her what she would like to do for her birthday, and in my head, I thought maybe she'd like a lovely tea with her girlfriends, and a girls' day out. No. Before I could offer that suggestion, she hopped about, shouting, "Sushi! Sushi with Mr. Ward and Miss Terry!"

Well, there ya go. Happy as a pretty little clam, that one. Terry was under the weather that day, but Ward came along to help EmBaby celebrate her day. And her brothers helped, of course. Because they're good like that. (Camera phone! I forgot about the camera on the phone! Yes, I'm new to the 21st Century.)

Her favorite gift was a plain pink t-shirt from Hobby Lobby, given with express permission to use the fabric markers Terry had given them years ago (I'd hidden them. The kids found them in the room re-shuffle. You would not believe how incredible the concept of fabric markers can be! We sort of bought the shirt out of self-preservation. This way, I can enjoy the children enjoying the project. It wouldn't have gone so well had they run with their initial plan of, "Can we use these on the curtains in the living room?") But really, it was awesome. She is awesome. She is going to be *great* at being six, I just know it.
We've had a warmish and wet winter, so the freeze the other day was fun. Friends came over and the kids all headed to the creek to play (because isn't that where everyone wants to play when it's freezing out?) James came back up and asked for my phone to take some pictures. They'd found quite a few beautiful and interesting things - this ice ridge is one of them. I thought it was kind of cool that a herd of children would want to stop for pictures of something, to enjoy the beauty of it. Made my day. Well, that, and getting the last of the muddy clothes washed and dried before the other kids' parents came to pick them up. There may have been a little internal high-fiving over that, too.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, January 23

Lost the cord again!

I saw a camera the other day that has the USB bit attached to the camera. Santa needs to see about getting me one of those for Christmas. In the meantime, we've cleaned the house, and there's no sign of the camera cord.

The camera is full, though, as the kids have been making videos. Oh, I need to buy each of them a camera with a boatload of storage (and an integrated USB dongle). The videos are sweet and funny. Or, they are once I stop hyperventilating over the fact that children don't tend to pick up before they film. Heh.

School is going beautifully. The first two weeks have been great. The kids' new math books arrived last week, and they dove right in. James moved over to Wheelock's for Latin. I hate Wheelock's, but he's happy. He'll wrap that one up this term, and then... I dunno. Orberg? Wing it? No clue. But that's not now, so we'll enjoy the rest of this term. We're hoping to have a few good adventures along the way!

John's ankle is healing well. He's off the crutches, and winging about with the boot. I've put a total moratorium on Paper On The Floor. Normally, I try not to be too uptight about it. It's hard not to have paper on the floor when someone is always sketching or drawing or making diagrams - between the five kids, there's... there's a lot of paper. Aesthetically, meh. But if you step on it with a boot? You're goin' DOWN, folks. And I can't... we can't have two broken bones on one child all at once. *shudder* For the time being, paper is now a Controlled Substance.

Jacob brought me the first Daffodil of the year, yesterday! We don't normally get them until February, but here they are. It's been a wet and balmy winter. I hope we haven't missed our pruning window for the trees! We'll check this week and see what we can do. In the meantime, we have a beautiful bit of sunshine in the kitchen window. Hopefully, it's the first of many to parade through the house this year!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, January 10

Back to School Week

We started back to school this week, which has gone nicely. Mostly. The days have been long (seriously. long.) I'm going to give it a couple of weeks before deciding if I've given them too much. It could be that, or the weather. It could just be inertia that's kicking our butts. It could be a little of each. Time is an excellent sorter, though, so we're going to muscle onward and wait it out.
The boys also start back to music lessons this week. They've not had them in three months, and although they didn't touch their instruments for two and a half months, they've both picked up practice again willingly and enthusiastically. They were ready. So was I. It's nice to have music in the house, but it's not spontaneous for us. We need to be intentional about it. The bedroom with only one child inherited the instruments and practice space.
We're settling in nicely with the new arrangement. We all love that we have more room in the bedrooms, but there's still an entire toy shelf loitering in the hallway. I'm, um, I have nowhere to put it. We've simply outgrown this house. I've culled and culled and, for having five children, there truly aren't a lot of toys. It's just a lot of toys for a house this size. We need to repaint and add a little decorating in some rooms, but for now, I'm happy with the progress. The Littles feel like their space is downright palatial, too.  :-)

 The boys like having a safe spot for the Legos and other creations, and with the Littles in the bigger of the bedrooms, a full-scale invasion is less likely. I like roaming up and down the hall, glancing in to see fairly tidy rooms. (They don't notice the lack of artwork or curtains, but I've got to fix that soon.)
 And that's pretty well taken up all our days lately. Music. School. Tripping over things in the hall. Zorak has sketches all over the place for stairs from the balcony. I guess that's the next big project. Blessedly, he's designing it to use as little concrete as possible (but still be wholly over-engineered). I love that about him. Meanwhile, we're hanging out on the couch, fighting that inertia...

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, January 7

Decorator Tired

If it's not a theme, it should be.

We're making some adjustments to the Forever Home. People keep growing, spreading, changing their interests. What worked five years ago isn't quite cutting it now. (Imagine, huh?) Today, we got some wild hairs waving in the wind that whipped through the TN Valley and figured if we can't work outside, we can work in. So we began. We emptied the playroom of every last Lego and so very many random bits of string, moved the toy shelves into the hallway, vacuumed, wiped, swiped, and touch-up painted all over the place, dismantled the boys' bunk bed and reassembled the erstwhile top bunk as a stand-alone twin in the playroom.

It's... been a while since I've had to move like that.

And I now remember why. ;-)

However, already we are seeing the benefits of the plan, and it's very exciting! Visually, bringing it all down a level is going to be huge. People will have the space they need to do their thing without us having to build on an entire extra house. (Building the Den would still be awesome, but there are so many other projects that need doing. We had to act now.) This is good stuff, here. Pics to follow.

Tonight, though, I plan to sleep the sleep of Those Who Move Heavy Things For A Living. (Or, more accurately, the sleep of Those Who Don't Move Heavy Things Very Often At All But Suddenly DID. Yes, that's more descriptive.) The kids are already there.

Kiss those babies!

Friday, January 6

A Different Plan

The bed risers came today. We got them installed. (Or, put in. "Installed" seems a bit heavy on the pretense, doesn't it? All we had to do was lift the bed and slide the feet under each corner.) It's pretty neat, except Jase seemed to think we did it just so he can't get in the bed. (He figured it out, and all is well in his world, once again.) However, we didn't do much with the room, because we ended up with a different plan:
Yay for picking the Sports Medicine doctor as our regular doc! 

John took a tumble playing (ironically) Wipeout at the skating rink today. I have NO CLUE how to tell if an ankle is broken. It seemed broken - my gut said it was broken - but everyone around us seemed to think it was just a nasty sprain. And honestly, I couldn't have given one good reason to think it was more. Barring actual bone protruding through the skin, I'm not sure I could spot a broken ankle vs. a sprain on any given case. So we called our doc, explained the situation and John's condition, and they got us in this afternoon to give it a look. Three cheers for in-house x-ray, and immediate diagnoses without having to go to the ER! (We are all about the bright side, here.) He did break his ankle, right by the growth plates. Doc has made it clear he will be very aggressive with keeping an eye on how things heal up, and we'll adjust The Plan as we need to. In the meantime, John's got a boot, and he's to live in the boot and love the boot and use the boot to garner sympathy and milkshakes. Well, I'm paraphrasing, really. But yes, the boot stays put. The boy stays still. We'll check in on Monday, then again in two weeks.

John's so good-natured about the whole thing. He'll be fine and right as rain in no time. I really wonder where these kids came from, but wherever it is, I'm keeping them. They're awesome.

And yes, we stopped for an ICEE on the way home. (I offered a milkshake, from Zaxby's, even - actually, I kind of begged, because that did sound really, really good - but he had his heart set on a squishee from the gas station, and who was the stop for, anyway?)

Bedskirts and sheets can wait for another day. I'm just very glad we could get him taken care of - and that we have such a fantastic doctor (and ALL his staff - really, the whole practice is superb) to help us put them back together when they start to fray at the seams a bit.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, January 5

Too Pretty To Stay In

We thought about staying in today. Then the temperature rose above 35. And then I saw that our homeschool group had a field trip today that sounded like fun. So, we spent the morning finding everyone two shoes that match. Each. Then it was time for lunch. I'm giving serious consideration to buying everyone one pair of shoes, and everybody gets the exact same style. Then I'm putting some kind of homing device on each and every shoe, just to be sure.

We got distracted, nailing down the details of this term's reading lists and missed the field trip with the group, but didn't want to waste a fully shod opportunity. Before anybody could kick off their shoes, we bolted out the door and headed into town.
It was beautiful today! I think the high was 63F, which is just about perfect. It's cool enough that you have to keep moving to be comfortable, but not too warm for fuzzy scarves and warm sweaters (if one is perhaps insistent, as I am. January is the only month I can reasonably wear warm sweaters, here.) The energy-emitting youth wore t-shirts and short sleeves. It's okay. They move more quickly than I do, so they never had a chance to get cold.
And yes, those are crocs. With black socks. That wasn't intentional. He wears them as house shoes, and forgot to switch shoes when we prepared to leave the house. Oddly, that's one I didn't think to check. However, he has two, and they match. Plus, he's funny and helpful and sweet. Those count for double. We called it Good.

The museum has a delightful exhibit by artist Michael Liu (a quick Google search seems to indicate that that's a shockingly common name, even when you narrow down for "artist", and I still haven't found his specific site). The Carnegie Visual Arts Center has a little information on him, and one of his pieces featured on their page of current exhibits, but if you have the chance to see it in person, go. Do it. Wow. What you can't see online is that the paper pieces are so intricate and multi-layered - and that's all paper! It's truly magnificent in person. The pieces on display currently include paper cutting, some phenomenal collage, charcoal, and graphite. Jacob says he likes Mr. Liu's charcoals the best. We were all enthralled.We spent over an hour in this display, and I didn't even have to restrain Jase. much. James had found this zebra image during his research of Mr. Liu. It was in the exhibit - in person, it's entrancing. Also, we all think it's fun when you see a piece of art in person that you'd previously known in books, online, or through some other medium. That's always a treat!

From there, we wandered over to the music shop to get new strings for the guitar. I love the people at the shop. Not only did they put the strings on, then and there, but they took John behind the counter and taught him how to do it properly - what each step means, and why it's done. He got some hands on experience. If I weren't worried about scaring people, I'd have hoisted myself up over the counter to hug both of them for that.

Also, I found out why the boys haven't lost all their guitar picks. They keep one in the guitar! Yep, just drop it down in that hole when they're done, and shake it out when they want to play. And here, I just thought they'd been using the pocket in the case. Well, whatever gets it done. (Although I am very glad to know that rattling sound wasn't something that had broken off in there!)

Before we knew it, the day was done. Time for home, supper, and bed. I'm so glad we didn't stay in, though!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, January 4

A Beautiful Start

We had such a great day today! One of my cousins was in town on a layover, and let us kidnap her for lunch and a trip to Burritt Museum. The kids are in awe of her, and I'm so happy that we re-connected. It's been 13 years since we've seen each other. Life gets busy, but it just shouldn't ever get that busy. I didn't get any pictures, though. We were too wrapped up in talking, eating, talking, and planning future visits.

The kids were amazing! Bless them. I didn't even do the usual, "For the love of God Almighty, PLEASE keep your brains on!" speech. (I meant to, but I forgot.) Serious fist bumps to the bigs and the smalls for keeping it normal on their own. Of course, we got back in the car after dropping her off, and all kinds of absurdity broke loose. There was so much poking and wrestling on the drive home that I began to wonder if their heads would have popped off if we'd stayed much longer. I love these kids. They make me laugh. I'm glad they didn't explode.

Tomorrow, our copy of The Codes of Hammurabi and Moses should arrive. I know, exciting times. Good stuff.

Friday, the bed risers should be here. If I can blow off skate day (unlikely, but one can hope), I can spend the day getting a little Old English Housekeeper action going on the master bedroom and storage plans.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, January 2

And A Happy New Year!

This weekend I've read some fantastic lists - reading lists completed and planned, goals met last year and set for the coming year, hopes and plans of hearts and minds. It's been encouraging to read through them. And in the process, I've muddled out some goals for us for 2012. (This house is up the road from us - it has no relation to this post, other than I think it's pretty amazing, and don't have another place to share it.)
2012 will be the year I learn to work around the things that normally pull me up short. Considering these are things I've been unable, or unwilling, to work around up to this point, it'll be interesting to see how that pans out. I suspect the keys will be (in no particular order - or rather, in whatever order I can pull them off first): getting over the stories in my head that make me feel paralyzed, letting go of what I think the delegation process should look like, and being willing to just leap right the heck out of the box so that we can move forward. I'm starting with bed risers.

See, under the bed is absolutely *crammed* with things. But I've held off on getting boxes for those things because we plan to build or buy a new bed (then I'll know how much room I have for boxes). And it's ugly, because there's no bed skirt (the old one, being 25+ years old, finally refused to stay stitched, stapled, glued, or tucked). But I've been holding off on buying a bed skirt until we bought or built the new bed (no bed wants highwater skirting, right?), but we're putting off the new bed because it's not on the top of the list (and it has to be patient and work its way up, like all the other good projects), and to be honest, we'd both rather have a new mattress - which we need, as it's even older and far less compliant than the defunct bed skirt - before a new actual bed frame - which is still functional. All of these things are fine, taken on their own. No biggie. But if you add it together, now I've got an antagonistic relationship going with the entire bedroom, and we keep stubbing our toes when we make the bed. It's not the bedroom's fault. It's nobody's fault, really. It just is what it is. For 8 bucks, I can clear the bottleneck and move forward. Why on earth not?

In other words, 2012 will be The Year of The Blindingly Obvious Solution. Well, yes.

I also hope to mail all the things that are sitting here, withering away and doing their intended recipients absolutely no good, whatsoever. They aren't getting dusted, either. The initial push is going to cost a fortune in postage, but after that - again, clearing out the bottleneck. And from there? Drop ship directly from Amazon and bypass myself, entirely. Put the good intentions into good practice, and bless all the people who have blessed us so very much. (I'm actually more excited about this one than I am about the bed risers! It'll be fun.)
Reading. Always. Good, good stuff. Didn't get nearly enough of that done last year. Facebook is quite the attention and time slayer. This year, I won't be my own worst enemy. This year, I will reconnect with the books. I've missed them, but it wasn't until I read the reading lists of others that I realized how very much I'd missed this last year. That's not good - not good for me, and not a good example for the children. So there is that. Again, blindingly obvious solution to a simple problem. What an exciting year this will be!

And time with friends. This year, we've been so glad to have some real community coming together for us, locally -- people we enjoy, people who challenge us, people who give and take in many ways. That's some powerful stuff, there. I want to tend those nooks and crannies and give them whatever they need to flourish this coming year.

And, we're punting on school for this week. Zorak's off a couple of days this week, and a cousin is coming into town mid-week. It seems silly to get spooled up for a day's worth of schooling. So we'll spend that day looking for all the things I'm sure we won't be able to find right off the bat, and then - theoretically - we'll start bright and early on the 9th. Granted, we aren't theoreticians, so I won't hold my breath, but it seems like a good plan at first glance. And if it doesn't work, I'm sure we'll be able to find a solution that will move us forward.

Kiss those babies!