Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Saturday, July 12

Plan A, B, or C

Pick one, it's all good.

We had planned to go on a river float today but the river is too low, so that trip was canceled. While we all appreciate the safety aspect (and, truth be told, none of us was up for a 1.5 mile hike in the river...) we were a little disappointed. Not quite ice cream falling on the sidewalk disappointed, but close.


So we did something else!


Just because the water's too low to float down river doesn't mean it's too low to get wet and play and splash around, right? (Right!) It's about 8" deep in this pic below.


This was Jase's first river trip, so of course, it was awful. Until suddenly, it wasn't. I think he's starting to trust the process. (And just a heads up - he was not in danger, nor was he hurt or injured. He just doesn't like New Things. Ever. Once they're not New, they're fantastic, and he's quite the adventurer after he knows what to expect.)


He did go down the rapids (not Real Rapids, just shoals, really - and remember, the water was low). About halfway down, he panicked. He screamed like a yeti had hold of him and was chewing on this calf. Holy heck, that kid's got a set of lungs on him! He wasn't hurt. He wasn't stuck. He wasn't in danger. He was just afraid - and that warrants a rescue, because being afraid is Real. I floated over to him and scooped him up (where he proceeded to scream inmyface until we got to the calm water). I beached us and asked him if he'd like to climb into my float so we could have some snuggles (because those make everything better).

That's when we discovered I'd beached us in muck. Knee-deep muck. When it's disturbed, it smells like rotting trash. And when it swallows you to your thigh and starts stinking, well, that's when it's clearly time to start screaming bloody hell all over again. At least, that's how it goes if you're six.

I got us dislodged and back out into the current, got him calm and loved on, then we made a plan. And we did it. He walked back up the shoals, slowly, processing the whole thing aloud with every step. I held his hand, carried both tubes, and kept up a running stream of cheerleading and encouragement while trying not to slip since I didn't have a free hand and it's generally bad form to break your fall with the child. By the time we got to the top of the shoals, he was ready to try it again, this time on my lap.

Well, that was *great*, until my butt snagged on a rock and we flipped out of the tube. I don't know if ear drums can pucker, but if they can, mine did. I was braced for the panicked screaming and general freak out common to the timid child. But, no. I mean, he did yell, but he yelled,

"Don't panic! Nobody panic! We've got this."

And we did. We let the tube go (the teens were down at the next bit of shoals and we figured they'd grab it as it went by), got out of the water, and worked our way back to the beach head.


By the time we got back to the beach, he pronounced this day, "The best day, ever!" Which,when you're six, totally counts. He was ready "to go for a little swim", but to be honest, I needed a nap at that point.


Plans don't always go according to, you know, plan. But the day doesn't have to be a waste. We don't have to stay home because a trip is canceled. We don't have to get out of the water because something didn't pan out the way we expected it to. He's learning a lot. So am I.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, July 7

Fourth, early

Our little town had its annual Independence Day celebration last night, so that's when we had friends over and cooked out. The Charter service man came to switch out our modem in the morning. Hopefully, that will reduce the amount of downtime our internet suffers. He was fantastic, Charter, we're not so thrilled with so far. Then we commenced the preparations for the party.


We could not have begged for better weather - sunny and bright, but breezy and comfortable. Wow. Just wow. Z rocked the asado action on the smoker, and I think if we hadn't had guests I'd have eaten the whole thing myself, keeping the kids at bay with a poky stick - so, unbelievably good! Thankfully, part of my filter is still in place and I didn't assault the guests. Or run cackling into the woods with the pan of asado.


The teens got restless about an hour before the fireworks began. They wanted to get down to the square while it was still light and see the sights. Since none of the adults were quite ready to roll yet, the boys asked if they could take their bikes. We have a million bikes, so there were plenty for everyone who wanted to ride, and off they went. I'm guessing they had fun. We put eyes on them when we arrived at the square an hour later, and everyone had shave ice and was laughing. No blood, no limping. We called it good. It was nice, though, to run into friends who volunteered that they'd seen the boys and spoken with them and were so glad to see them. I love it when people volunteer good things about teens. They get it, and they get the kids. That's good stuff, right there. The rest of us, big and little, were happy to take our time moseying about in the meantime.


The fireworks were, once again, absolutely spectacular. It's one of my favorite parts of living here. Well, the whole thing, really - the show is amazing, the people are sweet, the food is fantastic. It's a good combination.


After the show, everyone (plus a few we picked up at the square) came back to the house for a bonfire and to finish off the desserts. That was, quite possibly, the perfect ending to a lovely day.

Today, we laid around doing nothing. It was delicious. Jacob told me he really needed a full week of that, and then interrupted himself to add, "Oh, wait! You have Circe coming up, which means Dad will be watching us, and we'll have a week of doing nothing. Oh, that's perfect!" And off he ran to share his revelation with his siblings. Z grinned when I shared that story with him, but he didn't deny it. I guess Kinderspringa shall become a tradition. They could do worse, really.


Have a safe and thankful weekend!

Kiss those babies,
Dy

Sunday, February 16

The Week in Review

We had Snow Week!

 Not just a day, but four days of snow and fun, cold fingers, wet pants, snowball fights and gimpy snowmen. It was wild, and wonderful!

Then Friday was so beautiful we were still able to get out and hike with friends! (The hike also involved cold fingers, wet pants, and a fairly awesome 11th Doctor snowman. But it was warm enough that we only needed light jackets and t-shirts. Double bonus, if you ask me.)

This coming week of school is going to be... hard. We're all sort of girding and trying to find a way to not cringe when we think about it.

Jacob had his second week of communicants class. I ran some errands to get ready for small group, and so missed most of it. Of course, this was the night they asked some pretty in-your-face questions about church membership (and we don't plan to join this church, but it's a somewhat nuanced position that's challenging for a 40yo to explain, let alone a 10yo...) JakeRabbit sounded like he'd handled it fairly well, though. He's cool like that. And he enjoys the class, overall.

Our small group also had its first gathering. That was, oh man, so nice. Good discussions, a lot of laughter, and some very real conversation about things that matter, and why. I'm glad we're in this group. Hopefully, we won't be the weird ones. (Or if we are, maybe it will be in an affectionate way...) There aren't any teens in the other families, so James sat in with the adults. He may be the one to pull up our average score from the judges - such an insightful kid, and so thoughtful.

So now, it is with a good deal of gratitude, wet clothing, mud on the floors, and wood chips in the foyer that we head into another week. I can't complain. (Obviously, I can't clean, either.) Right now, it's all about the Good Stuff.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy


Wednesday, January 22

So, it's winter...

Shouldn't be surprising that it's cold, should it? But it's not Southern Cold right now. It's just plain Cold. Crazy Cold for Alabama. And it's been that way all month, with one lovely break last week. It happens. It only lasts a month or so, but it does happen. We're rather appreciative of the wood stove, yet again. (I don't think we've ever looked at each other and wondered if that was a good investment.)

However... tomorrow night's low is supposed to be 8 degrees, with a high on Friday of freezing. Yeah, for those of you in Florida, you read that right: it'll eventually, with a good deal of effort and focus, get UP to freezing sometime after noon. This isn't a big deal (there are always books to read, soup to make, you know), except we have our first group hike planned for Friday morning, and I'm thinking we're not likely to have a high turn out with this forecast.

People start hemming about when it's not going to top 50. When the high is 32, they just stop talking to anyone suggesting we go out for the heck of it. And rightfully so. We're all wired differently. I do get that. I mean, they'll be out there in flip flops and tank tops at the height of Summer without breaking a sweat while I'm dragging myself from shady spot to shady spot, working feverishly to stay hydrated.

And then, there's Jase. Poor thing. Not an ounce of insulation on his wiry little frame, and very little enthusiasm for being out in the cold in the first place. (I forget, he was born here. This is his Normal. He's got his flip flops by the front door, just waiting for the chance to be worn.) I wonder if we know anyone who would take the littles for the morning in exchange for letting me take their teens hiking? Hmm... I think I'll get on that and see what we can work out. Jase will thank me, and so will anyone else who decides to brave the cold and didn't want to hear his play-by-play about just how miserably cold it is. (Have I mentioned how articulate he's become lately? Bit of a double edged sword at times, but there you have it. Quite articulate, that one.)

Z and John worked on the forge some over the weekend.

Em and I worked on her room a bit more. (She loves beading, but doesn't like to wear jewelry, so we're taking on projects that will get some actual use around the house. Kind of fun!)

Jacob's been drawing and drawing. If you have a budding artist, and you need a gift idea - the articulated drawing mannequins are phenomenal. Z looked at me like I was nuts when I put one in the basket for Christmas, but it gets used daily. We don't even ask him to put it away when he picks up, now. It just lives on the breakfast bar, like a weird wooden joint fairy. Love that thing.

Oh! And, we've been working on creating a family vision this week. The kids have had some great input regarding what their ideal home philosophy would look like, and what their visions are. The Official Family Vision isn't finished yet, but it's coming along. I'd started out just hoping to make it something that reflected a general perspective that included most of us, but they're working to turn it into something that reflects each of us as individuals, expressed through the family as a whole. Far more than I would have been able to do on my own. Funny how that works, eh? Good stuff, this.

Kiss those babies, and stay warm!
~Dy

Tuesday, January 1

So, it's a new year...

That would explain the look of bewilderment Z gave me when he asked what our plans were last night, and I said, "I don't care what we do, but we better get on it, because they are not staying up until ten-thirty again!"

It was a long day, okay? In the post-Christmas lag, with the ongoing parenting, feeding, cleaning, general wrestling of the feral cats (and rounding up the slippery one), my brain shuttled any knowledge of a pending celebration and instead focused (somewhat intently) on curling up with a roaring fire, some Bailey's in the coffee, and a Jasper Fforde book. I love my kids, but none of that scenario included having the children up until all hours of the night.

But, it's New Year's Eve!

Aaanddd, they're old enough to know what's going on. I kind of miss the days that I could point to the sunset and say, "Alrighty, kids! It's almost time for bed!" Not so bad in the summer, because they're outside, and in the winter, hey, half the population of Florida eats dinner at 4:30 and hits the hay by five. Nothing wrong with that. But they grow up, learn to tell time, read a calendar, and eventually look at you expectantly because they *know* there's a holiday on. And, as I explained to EmBaby when she asked what the big deal was about marking a full rotation around the Sun, humans are celebratory creatures. We like to come together, we like to mark the special amidst the mundane. We look for any opportunity for a feast or a gathering, and we set those opportunities aside. They become special because we make them so. It's good stuff, this being Human. The reminder didn't hurt me one bit, either.
Luckily, it only took a little recalibration on my part (made easier by Z taking everyone with him to the grocery and the video store, so I had a few minutes to think in full sentences and not have to mediate the cabin-fevered children - bless him!), and we were off for an evening of fun.

We had jalapeno and green chile cheese dip. We had fish tacos. We had root beer floats and Christmas candy. (Evidently, our theme for the New Year is, "Eh, why not?") Then we put the two littles to bed, and we had zombie movies and sparkling cider. We chased down some good ideas for 2013, and sketched out a plan. I thought back to when I was 12 and 14, already ready to be gone from the house for NYE, instead of stuck at home, not talking, just sitting there, staring at each other. And I thought how thankful I am that we have a different dynamic in our home. That the boys are forgiving of their aging mother and her desire for quiet in the wee hours of the night, but that they're not surprised that she can get in there and laugh and fisk a good zombie movie, too. We laughed. A lot. We ate a lot. They shared some of their ideas, and they have good ideas. We shared our ideas. (Have I mentioned that the boys are patient? They are.)

We don't know what this coming year will bring, but we know we'll give it our all, and we'll do it together. That's enough. That's actually more than enough. It's going to be an amazing year!

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, December 17

A Busy Day in December

Z and I did quite a bit of shopping today, finishing up the majority of our gift purchases. Coffee, quiet time in the car, no bickering over what to buy or where to go. It. Was. Wonderful. Long-term monogamy is handy for us slow learners. Give us another 15 years, and we are absolutely going to *rock* this living together thing!

I'm finally entering the... whatever century this is... and actually used my Amazon app to buy books. In the car. On our way home. I don't know why that felt like such a milestone, but it did. :tinylittlefistbump: Had this phone for two years, and it's only been in the past few months that I've figured out how to use it. This is why I'm not an early adopter, right? But, yay, Amazon loves me and there will be books beneath the tree!

James watched the siblings for us, which was huge. He wants to babysit, and so the experience is good for him. Plus, it's not a bad gig - they played Apples to Apples and Battleship. He made lunch. Jacob made smoothies. Then James and John read to the little ones, and spearheaded the video game rotations, all without wielding the Staff Of Power, or any other nonsense. Just a good, warm, gentle time of watching the Littles. They were all quite content and safe. Plus, he called to check in while we were out. :happy melting heart: He's such a great big brother. And a neat kid, overall.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center is here in Alabama. I'd feel silly if we lived here a decade and never made it over there. (Kind of like not making it to the Walls of Jericho, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Buck's Pocket, Rock City, and a few other places on our To Do list...) So that's where we went today. Wow. Oh, wow. That is a cool little place. They have a museum, with displays and information on the more interesting things that have come their way. They have a central pillar display done up like ancient Venetian plaster, with money and pictures from around the world worked into the columns. I'm pretty sure I couldn't go on a highly hormonal day, as there were a few things that you just *know* someone really, really missed, and I couldn't imagine not trying to find out who and where, to reunite them with the lost item. So. There is that warning. But if you're of a less sentimental nature, it's a neat little place to find interesting things. No pictures from there, though. They do have a hashtag and posters for Instagram users who want to tag them. I nearly took a picture of that, but couldn't decide if it was weird or ironic. If you can't tell, it's best to pass, I think.

And the window trim is up! (As of two minutes ago.) I have to clean, and we need sunlight, but then I'll share a picture of the end result. This project is as big an improvement as pulling the carpet was! (Z says not quite, from a health standpoint, the carpet wins. That's a fair assessment.)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Wednesday, December 12

Wow.

There is a window in the wall, folks! It's IN. It's not foamed or trimmed, but I don't particularly mind. It's IN! It's so pretty, too. We may get up early tomorrow, just to enjoy the light as the sun comes up.

Also, that was just in time. We have a Scout meeting here tomorrow. The boys will be down in the meadow (additional serendipity: meteor shower tomorrow night! WOOHOO!), but the committee members will probably appreciate meeting indoors before that. It will be nice for there to be a marked difference, yes? Yes, we thought so, too.

Standing back, taking in the progress, I'd wondered aloud if we could find before-before pictures of the house, and Zorak mentioned that he's pretty sure there are some on the blog. I'll bet he's right! That will make before/after shots significantly easier, but it also got us thinking about how much we've done, and how much we've learned. We're really quite fortunate to have one another -- it's a good combination. Although I am excited about living in a normal, finished house for a time. At least until we have the opportunity to take on another Big Project.


Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, December 2

Watching Paint Dry

Turns out, it won't dry any faster if you watch it. (And yet, I stare. Go figure.)

As of this writing, the kitchen has been textured and primed. I wanted to paint tonight, but that's not going to happen. Of course, I wanted to put the kitchen back together tonight, too, so admittedly, I had ulterior motives at work, there. Still, we are moving forward, keeping our spirits up, and our debris to a minimum. If I can get two coats on tomorrow, then Zorak can do a few things under the cabinets when he gets home and then we'll be in business. I can't describe how giddy I am over this project.

We bought enough paint to do all the living area spaces that are currently Heavy Cream. (Fresh paint does wonders, even if it's the same color you had before.) I thought I'd run into a bit of a snag, though, when I pulled the paint chip for it. It's... tan. According to the paint chip, Olympic's "Heavy Cream" is a tan color. I stuck it under the wonder lights, to see if our lighting must be making it look different. Nope. It looks tan under all the different lighting options. So I called James and asked him to read the label to me. It matched. No extra letters, numbers, or runes anywhere on the can? Nope. :shrug: OK, then. Since we're redoing everything, I guess it wouldn't matter if it were way off. It's just unsettling to think you've been living in a creamy yellow house for seven years, only to find out it's tan and everybody you know just smiled and nodded when you described it as yellow.

The guys began the brick work today, removing the bricks from within the space for the new window. The boys helped get them off, and took turns cleaning bricks (some of the old window space will now be wall, so we want to re-tread bricks to match where we'll have to build new wall.). If there is a patron saint of lungs or respiratory systems, I need to know. The dust is astounding! Even with filters and tarps and a good breeze to keep it moving away from the house, everything is covered in abrasive dust. Blech. By the time we're done with this project, it's going to take another six months to get it all out of the house.

Anyway, the boys worked their fingers to the bone this weekend. Zorak declared they did a steak-worthy job, so we splurged on steaks and turnip greens tonight. So good. I wish we could afford for them to work this hard all the time!

The window will be here in 13 days. That's plenty of time to finish what we can of the brickwork, have the rest of the kitchen back together, and start another project. I love this time of year!

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Wednesday, November 28

Encroaching Obligations

For years, I've guarded our time at home. It's our downtime, our quiet time, our sanctuary from the ever-pressing Busy Life. This is where we delve into the ideas we have, share our questions, and explore new things. When the boys had baseball practice on Thursdays, we had piano lessons, bought groceries, and ran errands on Thursdays. Granted, it made Thursdays a little hellish, but it kept the rest of the week free and flexible. When we dropped baseball, I moved things around a bit to free up the ends of the week, but kept that same mindset: one day a week is all I'm willing to give to outside activities and demands. That felt so good. It felt so good that I clung to the idea long after I'd allowed it to die.

Recently, I've felt as if we're just bowled over by a lack of time. But we only leave the house two days a week! (Errand day and church.) How can that be? How can we not have enough time? And I pressed to make us more efficient, more focused, more diligent. Let's get to bed earlier, get up earlier. More focus, less distraction. Let's go, move, DO! Hop on one foot with our tongues on our noses while we feed the animals.

OK, that last one, not so much. But for all the good it would have done, we might as well have tried it. I sat down tonight to make our menu for the next two weeks, and thought about how I often get caught without a *good* plan on the rare occasion we have somewhere to be. So, I thought to myself, let's jot down in the menu where we have to go on those days and see if that helps remind me to plan quick meals, or crockpot meals, or whatever creative endeavor needs to happen on those days.

What the what, Batman!?

We have piano/guitar/groceries/errands one day, Scouts another day, Cub Scouts another day, community activities another day, church on Sundays. Roundtables and committee meetings. Add in the monthly Scout outing (which takes a full weekend), the regular Pack events (an additional night a month, plus prep time), Forge meetings, homeschool social activities, work, and the time required for the Projects That Must Be Done and...

We're never home. We're never still. Not for any appreciable length of time. There is no downtime. There is no quiet time. We've allowed the demands of time to be made on our every little corner of the day. And I never saw it. I never realized that this obligation, or that activity, or those events had effectively robbed us entirely of the buffer I'd thought we guarded so carefully. And the funny thing is that if you'd asked me about each thing, individually, I'd have defended each item as being Beneficial and Worthwhile. Taken as a whole, though, I'm not convinced. Our lives have not been significantly richer the past six months. They've not been more enjoyable (although we are not miserable by any means). They've just been... Busy.

And I've continued to try to pack our home life, our studies, our projects, and our downtime into what little space is left. No wonder it's felt like we're swimming with only one arm against an undertow.

So, something's got to give. I'm not sure what, or how. That's going to take some family time and discussion. It may be that we decide to keep it all and pare down the home goals, but I doubt it. I think we need to rebuild the buffer and rethink our priorities. Or, at least, I do. This one's all on me.

It's good to know, though. Meal planning for this week was a snap, at least! And hopefully by next week, we'll have a clearer idea of the path forward.

And I'm reminded of the phrase, "Live Intentionally". I know better than to let life happen to us, than to relinquish my post at the lookout, or neglect my duties at the helm. (Reminds me of another adage: "Be vigilant, for nothing one achieves lasts forever". *aherm* Yes. Well.) We must be diligent in our choices, and make each decision as if it is taken at the expense of all the other choices, because it is. Let it be worth the trade, so that we do not look back over our lives with more "If only..." than there has to be. (The natural learning curve of Life somewhat necessarily mandating that there will always be some, at least.) And so, we will live intentionally,

and kiss those babies.

Dy

Saturday, November 10

Weird Family Traditions

Not much going on today. I culled and cleaned. The guys split wood. (This will be a recurring theme.) Zorak and I did enjoy dinner so very much. Not only was the food good (pulled pork, homemade slaw, leftover pintos - always better the second day), but the kids were on a roll. They are ridiculously funny, and their inside jokes keep one another in stitches. It's like having front row seats to a well-oiled comedy team. We laughed and listened, and generally enjoyed the entire evening.

And then, the guys settled in for what I jokingly refer to as their "stories". (Did your mother watch soap operas?) They are watching The Walking Dead. It's become A Thing they do. After supper a couple of nights a week, we let the Littles play video games or watch a movie in the basement (it's like a game room - not like we just shove them into a cellar for an hour), while Z and the Bigs spool up their show. They call me in to come watch with them, because they're cool like that. It *is* a good show. But, I get... tense. So I have to get up and walk around, switch out some laundry, get a cup of coffee at... crucial moments. Drives them nuts. "Mom! MOM! You're missing it!" Either one day they will understand, or they'll go to their graves thinking their mother just didn't know how to have a good time. Regardless, they're building memories. I hope they're good ones.

Deer season starts next week, the stores have the holiday displays in full swing, and the electric bill has mellowed out for the winter. That's all such comforting stuff. The kids are talking about making Christmas presents, and they're ready to get moving. After seeing what they did for birthdays this year, I'm looking forward to it!

We'll probably have to split more wood, first, though.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, September 10

This Is Not A Productive Week

Yeah, I know, it's only Monday. But we're not exactly shooting right out of the gate this week.

Everyone was up early this morning because there were presents to open! (We didn't get home from our ride until around ten last night, and there was no way I was going to give the kid a remote control helicopter, a Trilobite kit, and a video game, then tell him to get some shut eye. Even for me, that would have been pretty clueless.) So up, up, UP they were, bright and stinking early.

He opened his presents, and was so genuinely delighted with each one. MeWa and MeTae gave him the coolest Smithsonian set - Trilobites, a Volcano kit, and an archeological dig set. Wee! (And we're doing Ancients this year! Double Win!)

But the gift that took the spotlight was the one from EmBaby and Jase: they wrote him a letter...


... and made him a paper doll set, complete with a crocodile, a lion, a bridge, a shrub, a guy, a gun, and a zombie!



Look at the detail on that - the little gun, for fighting zombies, is detachable! Oh, my gosh, Zorak and I were speechless - it was the sweetest, most delightful, thoughtful present we've ever seen. I wish we had a camera other than on the phone, because the details are fantastic - the lion's mane, and the crocodile's jaws - all of it, just neat. They made this a week ago, and have kept it a secret the whole time. None of us, not even the big boys, knew what they'd made.

And Jacob's reaction? Total icing on the cake - he took out each figure, commented on some aspect of it, set them up, let the littles explain all the details. I think he got how special that gift was. Z and I will never forget it.

After that, it was pretty much all fun and games. The Trilobites are incubating in their environment on the dresser, the helicopter logged many flight hours, and it has been decided that the dolls need to be laminated so that they won't ever get torn or destroyed. Sure, we got a little school done, but really, nobody was paying attention. That's okay. You only turn nine once.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy


Monday, August 20

Not Like Any August, Ever

I hesitate to say anything, but this August has *rocked* in Northern Alabama. Temps have remained in the nearly-reasonable 90's, the humidity hasn't gone over 100% more than maybe twice*, and so far nothing has landed on the house or the car! Someone's been Very Good, I suspect. Wow.

So we've been braving the out-of-doors more this year -- going to the river, on hikes, to the park, canoeing. We didn't spend nearly as much time at the water park this Summer as I'd hoped to, but some of that was because we weren't sweltering and desperate for relief the whole time. (June. June was awful. But after that, Mother Nature backed off the ire and we recovered.) We did get some good use out of it, though. I only lost one child, one time (which is pretty darned good, all things considered), and nobody got burnt at all this summer! No, I take that back. Zorak and the boys all got sunburned shins on a canoe trip with the Scouts a couple of weeks back. But that wasn't on my watch, so I don't have to claim it. BOOYAH! First time, ever!

We're in Week 5 at school, and so far, we're... pretty darned slow. Wow. We seem busy. We feel busy. But we're not laying tracks like we'd thought. So today, the kids brainstormed a new schedule, to be implemented tomorrow morning. No clue how it's going to go, but finding out is half the adventure, right? (That face you just made? Same one they made when I used that phrase this morning.) In all, though, it's going really well. EmBaby's reading more fluidly - her accent is killing us in the phonics, but she's starting to clear those hurdles. (I've never had one with an accent before. This is a whole new ballgame!) Jacob's just rolling through it to get to the books. I can't keep him in books. (Yeah, I know. Third child this age, you'd think he'd be inundated. I guess not.) John finally got a good callous from playing guitar. He feels legit, now, and it's given him a renewed vigor in many areas. And James is kicking into high gear is so many areas. Mostly after 11:30 or so in the morning, but once he's caught a gear, he can *go*.

For me, the big excitement so far was hearing John announce that he *likes* Latin. One day, Dwane Thomas at Visual Latin, and the good folks at Memoria Press (thank you for First Form!) will receive cookies, or brownies, or a copy of someone's NLE results with a thank you note. That's some crazy joy, there.

And the rest of Summer? Well, things don't always go as planned. We did get the sand - uh, this past Saturday. The windows we'd been putting in, one at a time, all went on clearance (not to be re-stocked  - ACK!) so we snagged all we needed in one size, and we now have new windows along the whole front of the house. We'll be eating beans and rice for the next three months, but the marked improvement in insulation is worth it already.

Oh, and okra! Our mad gardening skills have once again yielded insane amounts of okra. Not much else - maybe one cucumber, a handful of squash, two and a half tomatoes... we'll spend the Autumn pickling okra and giving thanks that we do not have to rely solely on what we grew for Winter sustenance. Again. Amen.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

* Tongue in cheek. Mostly.

Wednesday, June 27

The Push Continues

We're still pushing hard to get our affairs in order. The house-cleaning project will probably continue for another couple of months, as we freshen paint and finish the details on projects that stagnated once they hit "functional". (Our Family Motto seems to be: It Doesn't Have to Be Pretty to Be Functional ~or, more accurately, If It's Functional, That's As Good As It's Gonna Get. I need to see about getting that changed before we get to the point of ordering engraved items.)

After James' last physical, his doctor had suggested some strength training to help combat the growing pains he's experiencing. So he and I have been working out regularly, using You Are Your Own Gym. He is an absolutely hilarious workout partner, with a very positive attitude and a willingness to slog through new things with flair. Although I can't say this is "fun", it's getting done. And we laugh. A lot. Mostly at me. But it's good stuff.

This is our last week of break before heading into the next term of the year. We didn't intend to take off all of June (instead of just the first two weeks, for camps), but the weather was too beautiful to spend indoors. It's... not, now. And I have a suspicion that we'll more than make up for it when the heat that's now moved in stays through September, so it's all good. We need something to do in the afternoons other than watching Eureka, right?

The kids were invited to VBS with some friends this week. Jacob was reluctant to go, but agreed to an extension of our "One Honest Bite" approach to life (that started with food, but anything that applies to food can be applied to any element of life, so it gets wide use around here). EmBaby got wind that there would be crafts, and she was IN. Oh, yeah! Jase wanted to want to go, but he wasn't so sure. It was loud. And... well, loud. (We don't go to a loud church, and this was all very new to him.) He said it was scary, so I told him he didn't have to stay and we headed out. The ladies at registration were gracious and kind, and utterly accomodating, but you know, he's four. There's not a single thing he would get from a few hours at VBS that he won't pick up elsewhere in his life over the next umpteen years. (And if there is, then we're doing something wrong. Which we may be, but not with this.) We got back to pick up Jacob and Em a bit early, so we sat in the back to listen to the closing announcements and songs. That's when I realized he was not convinced this was a Good Place To Be, and that he viewed the whole retrieval less as a routine pick up, and more as a SpecOps extraction. We navigated the fine line of Awkward Situations for a bit (thankfully, it was loud, so I don't think anybody overheard our exchange), and escaped without causing a scene.

(Jacob and Em both had a blast, and were thrilled to learn they could go back each evening this week. After hearing that, Jase decided he'd give it One Honest Bite, too, and he stayed tonight, tentative and anxious, holding Em's hand. He says he loved it. Zorak said he was dancing and singing when Z arrived to pick them up. I'm proud of him for giving it a shot, but was also proud of him for knowing it's safe to say, "no, thank you", as well.)

Now, to reconfigure the menu for being in and out all week! :-s


Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Saturday, June 16

Things Are Changing!

Mostly, my email spam. I used to get offers for Sexy Asian Singles and lots of Viagra. Today, I got my first "hip implant recall" solicitation. *sniff* I feel so grown up.

A co-worker of Zorak's is coming down today so Z can do some welding for him. He'll probably bring his wife, and that's always a treat. She's one of those beautiful, deeply rooted ladies who are kind and gracious. She doesn't mind the chaos of the house, as it reminds her of her years raising their children. (I'm still going to clean up, here in a bit, though. No sense in triggering any Maternal PTSD that may be lurking. We all have it. We should try to be aware.)

The kids are sleeping in this morning, except for John, who bounded out of bed at seven, made his bed, let out the chickens, fed and watered everything that needs us to feed or water it... without me having to ask. That makes me so ridiculously happy! So I let him play some video games while his siblings sleep. (I like to think of it as positive reinforcement.) Of course, Em awoke not long after he started and stumbled sleepily over to me to inquire why, exactly, John gets video games. I could see in her eyes there was a "not fair" skulking about back there. When I explained what he'd done, and how it was on his own motivation, and I felt that merited game time, she was pensive for a moment. Then she perked up, said, "Oh. OK!" She grabbed an apple and plunked down on the couch to watch him. I guess she weighed the options and decided a little game time wasn't worth getting dressed and started on chores just yet. Fair enough.

In other news, a cousin and his family were able to return to their home in New Mexico today. So many homes have been destroyed in the Little Bear fire. Theirs survived, and so they are home. Now the community begins the process of mourning, healing, and rebuilding. As far as I know, all of the family is safe. Over in Ruidoso, the folks at Ski Apache used some ingenuity and turned the snow makers on to help keep the fire at bay by spraying the area with Hail Mary shots. Meanwhile, there are floods in the southern part of our state. I find myself nudging the boys to consider some kind of engineering study that would allow them to devise a feasible means of diverting water from one place to another, cross country - eliminate damaging floods, and quell the raging fires, all in one awesome project.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, June 10

It's Not The Rubicon

But we're headed in a good direction, overall. We have the Bigs home. The house is once again noisy and messy. It's wonderful.

They are both smack in the middle of a transitional phase, though, and I've got to say, it's a weird one. They're big, funny mancubs right now. Sometimes more man, sometimes more cub. For example, they came home, brought in their trunks, got a load of camp clothes going (even managed to get the washing machine to start on the first try!), showered and got in a round of music practice -- all without nudging from the Parental end.

And yet, they both lost their water bottles, forgot to get a few merit badge accomplishments signed off, and one lost his wallet and his pouch with his epi pen in it. Neither of them has any clue how any of that happened. Yep. Same kids who hit the ground running. It's weird, but I get it. It's a challenge to grow up. Just when you get the hang of one thing, Life throws a new package of things to master your way. There's really very little time to sit back and just wallow in your achievements (at least, until you get old enough to insist on sitting back now and then).

So we sat back and enjoyed their accomplishments. One boy has rappelled, and taken part in a rescue search. How cool. One boy has used a forge, and made tools. How fantastic. Then they wrestled with their siblings, and helped in the kitchen. They told stories on each other, and on themselves. They switched out their wash and watched Doctor Who for a bit.

They didn't want to get up this morning, but they did it on their own. They don't particularly want to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow, either, but they're going to. And then they'll spend the bulk of the day (actually, all week) volunteering at the District Cub Scout Day Camp. That was their own call - they got the training and paperwork squared away. I paid for the shirts, and offered up transportation - that's it. The rest is on them, and they're doing it.

So, yeah. Sit back, wallow in it for a while. There is time to learn to keep track of things and to remember to get paperwork signed off. But there's a lot to be said about tapping your internal motivation and doing Good Things on your own. Even if it means getting up way too early to do them. And there is more wonder and joy in seeing them master the every day things - tending to their relationships, managing their time, working together, encouraging one another - than I could ever put in words. That's where they are right now, these mancubs. There will be another packet of things to master winging their way in no time at all. Today, we sat back and took in the breadth of the things they have learned so well. This is the stuff that will help them make the right choices when they do come to the big crossings, and I'm okay with that.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, June 4

It was!

It was absolutely crazy. And magnificent.

Friday's airsoft gathering went well. We had about nine boys, all properly attired with safety gear and low-end guns. (Minor Injuries Only, for the win!) We moms stayed on the balcony, figuring the 16' height would keep us out of firing range. It did. That's where we kept the food, too. It was a blessedly normal, witty, engaged group of women. I'm fairly sure I was the loose peg in the wall, and that's okay. Gives me an opportunity to work on my Don't Be Weird Around The Nice People routine. We'll see if it worked. The boys, at least, I know had fun, because they only came inside when thirst drove them in, and there were small, polite, but clear protestations when it was time to go. They all agreed they'd like to do more things together. Mission accomplished. (I told Zorak that night that I really loved all the boys - they were just the right kind of weird - sweet, quirky, fun kids.)

That evening, our friend, Daniel, arrived with his wife and son. He's been stateside, studying Chemistry, for several years. His wife and son joined him in the fall, so this was the first time we were fortunate enough to meet them. And she's pregnant with Baby #2!! I didn't know (Zorak may have known, and thought he told me, but there's a lot he thinks he's told me and didn't) -- so there was a lot of happy squealing. And I cannot tell you how hard it was for me not to just fondle her and swaddle her up and wallow in her adorable, beautiful pregnantness. But *aherm* I restrained. Also, watching her stand up from the table, I realized she may look "just adorable" to me, but she's probably larger than she's ever been, hot, off-balance, uncomfortable, and none of the joints are connected properly at this point. It really does look better than it feels. James made her sage water, and we kept her fed, and tried to pamper her as much as possible (she's quick, though - like lighting - up and helping any chance she gets!) Their son disappeared with the littles, the tiny herd making random appearances to dance, sing, or just make a lap around the living area.

We had a little cookout for them Saturday. It started out as a little cookout. We ended up with 30-some-odd people, and I'm not particularly clear where the line goes from a small gathering to a large crowd. It was a delightful outcome, regardless! The weather cooperated nicely, and we were able to spread out onto the balcony, the upper meadow, and the front yard. Naturally, we didn't get a single photo.  However, I didn't fret about the cleanliness of the house, or about putting people to work when they arrived. So this was probably the most enjoyable gathering we've had - internally, at any rate. No stress, no worries, just a really great time with some really fantastic people. More than once, I found myself standing at the edge of a cluster of people, just smiling and giving quiet thanks for having these folks in our lives. We are so rich.

The Bigs left for Scout Camp early Sunday morning. They'd packed at some point over the weekend. (Mostly at The Last Minute, and I've already got a list of things to bring to them on Family Day.) We got them headed off and then the rest of us went to church. From church, we hit Sam's for dry goods and travel food (because it's one glamorous outing after another when you have pantry locusts!), then took a lovely stroll along the river before heading home. Daniel and his family pulled out around five, and that felt too soon for them to leave. We hope they'll return again and again. Our door is always open.

And then, it was quiet. SO quiet. Jase promptly passed out. Zorak played video games with Jacob. EmBaby worked in her little MineCraft world James had set up for her before he left. I sat down with a few books and drifted in and out of sleep.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

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!
~Dy

Wednesday, April 4

98

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!
~Dy

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!
~Dy







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!
~Dy