Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Thursday, January 4

They know me so well!

If you've got your sense of humor, you stand a good chance of keeping your health. I firmly believe this. And so, evidently, do my older children ...

This was one of my favorite gifts this Christmas. Not only because we desperately need magnets that don't fall off if you swing the refrigerator door too enthusiastically, but because it made me laugh. The last seven or eight weeks have been mentally hectic, butt-puckeringly scary, and in general, really, really hard.

Not too hard for God, which is great, but definitely too hard for me. And the kids haven't ever actually seen me admit that there's something I'm not sure I can do. But they have now. And they've stepped up. I mean, they're still kids, and when you're a kid, offering to share your coin jar to help with groceries, or volunteering to share your fuzzy blanket seems a lot more satisfying than, say, clearing your spot after dinner, or doing the chores without being prompted, or maybe even just not nattering at your siblings for hours on end so that Mom can work. So, they haven't really felt that my requests were sane, or truly helpful, but they've shrugged and exchanged eye rolling glances, then stepped up and tried to contribute to the sense of overall peace and productivity that we needed in the house. So that's been pretty fantastic.

And no, I have not taken to drinking heavily. But I've joked about it. And John knew just what would make me laugh out loud. I'm so glad he ran with it.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, January 3

The Nutcracker

Well, THIS was exciting. A year ago, Jacob sat in the farthest row of the highest balcony at the Von Braun Center and watched, mesmerized, as The Nutcracker played out before us. He leaned forward, spellbound, the entire performance, but particularly watching the men's parts - the Nutcracker Prince, the Rat King, the dolls. He was captivated by the power and strength of the dancers. When he asked if he could do that, we had no idea that this December would find him backstage, preparing for his own parts.

All week, he kept whispering at random, "This is what started it all. And I'm here." He was in a bit of a dream world.

He gave his all to every role. As a Party Teen, he was so exuberant and festive. He was so, so great with the little ones on stage. He was a delight to watch.

As a gypsy, he was beautiful and vibrant. I got to watch from the wings one night when he danced that part, and the look on his face as he landed in the final position ... I will carry that image with me to my grave. I've never seen him look so happy, so at home (and this is a kid who is at home in most any setting, so that's saying something).

As half of the dragon, he was entertaining and delightful.

But most of all, he was kind, considerate, and engaged. He even goofed around with me a little bit!

The atmosphere backstage of a Huntsville Ballet Company production is one of the most professional, courteous, and team-driven endeavors I've ever been fortunate enough to witness. (I got to help, too, which was fabulous. Everyone should help backstage at least once, just to appreciate what goes into making the magic happen when the curtain goes up.) I could not have been more proud of him, or more pleased with where he is. They're a good fit, and I'm thankful for that.

For all the things we wish we could go back and do differently, or do better, I really feel like we've hit the sweet spot in encouraging them to pursue excellence, and to work hard at what they love. It's one thing to dream, but it's another to put your effort and hard work into achieving it. That's huge, and I am so thankful that he's doing just that.

Be encouraged!


Tuesday, December 27

Merry Christmas

Those are bottles of Harry Potter Butterscotch Beer, not actual beer.

This was the world's most laid-back Christmas. I found replacement stockings for three of the five children. Everyone agreed they'd rather wait and get one they love than to get a new one just for the sake of it. So, maybe next year we'll get the other two fixed up. We decorated. We planned a simple meal. We set it up so that there was no stress and then we said yes to every invitation and event we could. We relished our friends and loved ones. We observed Advent, and spent a lot of time delving more deeply into what it looks like to live out our faith -- in the home, in the community, in the congregation. It was good.

On the less spiritual end, I think we nailed most of the gifts, and other than James' incredulity when he thought I'd paid $125 for a pair of pants-that-he-didn't-even-particularly-want, all the presents were pretty spot-on and appreciated. (And, for the record, no, I did not spend that much on a pair of pants - they were on sale at a screaming discount, and since he'd worn them for a photo shoot recently, I knew for a fact they fit. Can't walk away from that.)

Also, don't trust estimates that say shipping from the UK should arrive in "5-7 days". That is a lie. At least, it is in December. We still have two packages that haven't arrived, and tracking is useless. But they'll show up eventually. Or not. Either way, it's all good.

We had a lovely visit with the Godparents today. The house is still decorated, but the residue of Christmas Day has been tidied and dealt with. So we could just sit and be together. Good stuff.

I plan to use the coming week to create a plan for the Spring semester, get lesson plans squared away and make sure we have (or rather, can locate...) all the books we'll need. And then, on to 2017!

Be encouraged!

Wednesday, December 21

It Is Time

James went to a party last night with friends. I have no idea how it went because I went to bed long before he got home. Z was up doing homework, and I'm out of things to watch on my own, so I read and got sleepy. I have my ringer volume set to Mind Numbingly Loud, so if there'd been an emergency he could have reached me. I'd have likely shown up looking like someone from an archived episode of Cops, but still, there. That's what counts, right? Pass the Okayest Mother of the Year Award this way, please.

This is not James getting home from his party. This is John, who was in charge of casting music while the Littles decorated the tree. Bonus points if you recognize the video.

We're nominally still doing school. In my head. Actually, right now, Jase is devouring the next in the Warriors (cat) books, and John is in the basement playing his favorite video game. (The basement is nearly finished - it's not as creepy as it sounds.) Everyone else is either sleeping in, or lying in bed praying I won't come poke them. And I haven't the umpf to poke them. Clearly, it's time for Christmas Break.

So today we'll wrap the rest of the presents. I will take notes as we wrap and make sure I haven't missed something important. I'm still waiting on a few packages, because I can't get my financial shizzle together in August and shop like a grown-up. Mahabis (that's James big gift this year) has awesome tracking info... until the package leaves the UK. After that, it all goes dark. I have no idea where his shoes are, if they're nearly here, or if they're now decorating the happy feet of a Somali pirate. And we'll clean a bit. Because that makes everything better.

James has to take his AP Physics final exam today. He won't let me make excited happy faces until that's over. (But I am totally making them in my head!)

Oh! We made liver pate yesterday. It's ostensibly "mellowing", or something, in the fridge, and we'll have it Christmas Eve. It tasted pretty good, although I don't know if it will taste good enough to overwhelm the visual... issues. (That is one unattractive dish!) But it was fun to do, we learned some new techniques, and so that was fun. I've got a package of Braunschweiger, just in case the pate is a no-go.

Be encouraged!

Monday, December 19

Party Fun

We made it to the church's Christmas party last night, and I am so glad we went. (It was dark, and cold, and we were kind of ready to pile up on the couch and watch Foyle's War...) But we went, and I am so glad we did!

The teens took The Resistance to play - it's a guaranteed ice breaker, and, in fact, the families with teens were the last to leave because they were waiting on the kids. Gotta love that.

We brought ice cream cones for the little ones to decorate as trees, with frosting and sprinkles. Yes, I brought sugar. I know. But the sticky thank you hugs I got were totally worth it.

Father Geoff came dressed as a Wise Man. He also brought Frankincense (in the form of incense), which was rather clever. Next year, we're going to have to step up our "festive garb" game, for sure.

The food was amazing. The hosts had a shrimp boil, and everyone brought sides to share. There's just something about shared food... it's good for the soul. It's good to nourish and be nourished in turn, and while "potluck" doesn't sound particularly inspiring, it's actually quite an ennobling way to gather for a feast when you think about it.

And people shared - they shared their happy memories of years past, their concerns and hope for the years to come, their experiences and their ideas. Truly, it was a wonderful evening. Totally worth staying dressed and braving the cold for!

I'm not sure what series of thoughts brought this plan to fruition,
but it's hilarious and I could not resist a photo of it.

Shopping With the Lone Girl

Em is such a happy, sweet, insightful girl. She brings us a balance of beauty and surprise. She's also got the straight man shtick down like a pro, and we often have to do a double take to tell if she's joking. Occasionally, she'll be trying to talk about something lovely, or thoughtful, and a brother will pop off with a fart joke... that's when she turns to me and says, "Would you please get me a sister?" But most of the time, she's pretty content with her home of males.

The other day, I took her Christmas shopping with me. We haven't really done that before, which I hadn't realized. Christmas shopping for a large family in a small house is a series of insane acrobatic maneuvers and online shopping. That's just the only way to do it. And we don't really do "girls day out", or shop-for-fun, or things like that. It's not some moral thing on my part, just not something we get around to. The kids are usually divvied up by age groups or interest, not gender, and while some of it is logistics, some of it is practicality. We do things together, and we thoroughly enjoy them, just not shopping. But this time, we did. Just she and I. And she was *shocked* at how expensive it is to buy Christmas gifts for half a dozen people.

First, though, she needed pants. We've been so blessed with hand-me-downs for her that we seldom need to buy her more than socks, unders, and shoes. Not really exciting stuff. But right now, if the pants are long enough, you could fit two of her in the waistband. If they fit in the waist, they're capris. Not so great for winter wear.

Now, this is my secret Achilles heel. The boys have their styles, and those styles are functional, straightforward, and... not a lot of fun to shop for. Black and soft, or OD Green and sturdy -- Bam, done. But her? She's a wild card on style - color, texture, fabric choice - it's a world of possibility! I love to window shop for her and, had she been an only child, we'd probably be broke from impulse buys because I wouldn't have had the boys there to whisper, "Focus. We're here for socks, Mom. Focus." Plus, because she's so readily pleased, it's even more fun. She is, however, incredibly practical. She found a style of pant that is comfortable and feels good and she was ready to go. I had to convince her to at least get a couple pairs, maybe in different colors. Couldn't talk her into the long plaid tunics or the adorable print leggings, but she agreed to get a couple of long sleeve shirts to supplement her current options. Then she spied a pair of cranberry jeans like mine, and she loved them. "These are just like yours!" So we got those, too, because how fun is that? (I could not pay the boys to wear matching clothes with me on purpose! Gonna take this win while I can.) Eventually, she was squared away and then she proceeded to herd me back to checkout by whispering, "Focus. We're here for Christmas gifts, Mom. Focus."

Then we hit the serious Christmas shopping -- goodies for John and Jacob, and the perfect gift for James... just-the-thing for Jase (she'd found it in September and has been reminding me daily, so I don't forget - thank God they hadn't sold out yet). We stopped for lunch, and wrapped it up in time to join the boys at Game Day. (I've been shuffling bags from room to room ever since. We should have bought wrapping paper while we were out!)

The restaurant where we ate lunch was a little loud, and it was hard to hear, so she started signing to me across the table. BRILLIANT! We had a mostly-silent lunch, punctuated by bouts of laughter and her declaration that this is really useful for loud spaces.

I think it took going out shopping for the boys to kick start her into thinking of things she would like to have. Up until now, she'd asked for a set of Perler beads and that. was. it. Yesterday, she handed me her notebook to show me that she'd made a list. It is so sweet. (Please ignore the spelling and my weird shadow puppet action, there.)

A sharpie? Her own sharpie. That's a pretty sane request in this house. I might ask for one, too. And I think I know just the place to find a perfect replacement blanket.

Be encouraged!

Tuesday, December 13

BIG Weekend

Saturday was kind of quiet. Then Sunday was packed with church and a photo shoot and headshots, and it bled over into Monday with school and parade prep, and now we overslept on Trash Day. Oops!

Em was acolyte at church on Sunday. She's not a Center Stage kind of person, so this is a challenge for her. She'd gladly decorate the church, make blankets for the homeless, sew hats for babies. Being in front of people, however, is hard for her. And learning new things (skills, routines, steps) in front of people? Oy vey! But she does it sweetly and with a good attitude. We have enough children serving that the kids only have a turn once every six weeks or so -- she appreciates the reprieve, but I think she needs to do it every week for a month straight so it'll stick. Right now, it's a little like it's her first time every time. She's adorable, though, even though she's probably not much actual help for Father Geoff. And I love our vestry for being so sweet about directing her when she gets lost.

Did I tell you all James is modeling? He started in June, and he loves it. We're all moderately surprised at this (not because he's not lovely, but because he's so cerebral and analytical - we just always assumed he'd be an engineer or a scientist -- this is what comes of raising your children to work hard, study hard, and find their joy -- it doesn't usually look the way you thought it would, but it will be good). He is good at it, he works hard at it, and he's learning so much. Then Jacob decided to give it a go -- he was selected in November to work with the Alabama Fashion Alliance. This incredible organization is hosting Fashion Week Alabama, which is in March. (I'm sure I'll talk your ear off about it as it gets closer. Good stuff happening in North Alabama.) Jacob was cast to walk in it, and James got his first paid walk that week, too. Very exciting stuff.

This was Jacob's first shoot, and he could not have asked for a better first experience. From the stylist (who is a dream stylist!) to the photographers (who are fantastic), to the other models, the whole thing was fantastic. James brought his A-game, LeJeune (the AFA director) found a tremendously talented designer of men's clothes, and I cannot wait to see the results in the look book.

This is just friends hanging out after the meeting at the end of the day. We should all look that good at the end of a work day. :-)

Monday was the Christmas Parade. John is doing a prince role for a local princess group. They do a lot of charity events, but also hire out for parties and dances. It's an incredible group of young people who make it all happen. I just showed up to drive the trailer. We had to wrap up school in the morning so we could hit the car wash before going to get the decorated trailer. Then the normally five minute drive to downtown took about 30 minutes because we couldn't go over 20mph. But the end result was fantastic!
Prepping the float - he's not only handsome, he's helpful.

We got home and everybody crashed!

Today, we read. And make coffee, pot after pot. And rest.

Be encouraged!

Tuesday, December 6

It's a Party! With Party Food!

This fall, I've been part of the most amazing book club. It's been a source of humor, support, prayer, encouragement, ideas and insights, thoughtful conversation... You name it. We've also managed to read a couple of books. But that turned out to be the excuse, not the purpose. Tomorrow, we party.

The gift exchange plan is that the adults have drawn names and are to give gifts that we already have lying around, or can make. Wish I'd thought about the potential for this at some point in the last year of purging and wardrobe capsules and decluttering. I'm down to offering up a spare cast iron skillet, or maybe a SCOBY... So, I think we're going to go with making something. (But it's 10:30 and I don't know what. The odds that it will be "something laminated" are increasing as we approach midnight, I'm not gonna lie.) The kids are doing a similar gift plan, but they're planning on doing a Dirty Santa exchange instead of drawing names.

Em crocheted a mermaid while we read today.

I.... I've got nothing like that up my sleeve.

So James and I were thinking homemade treats would be nice. But of the group, we have varying degrees of dietary restrictions: sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, peanut-free, Keto, and Paleo. Plus one who can pretty much only eat cotton candy and nuts. (It's not that bad, but if I'm going to feed her, I take a picture of the ingredients, or the label on a product and text her, "Can you eat this?" Because if I guess, I will guess wrong!)

James happily decanted some of his vanilla erythritol, slapped a bow on it, and went back to studying. John grabbed a carabiner, which he hails as "the most useful thing since the pocket knife", wrapped it, and went back to studying. Jacob made a bracelet. Jase found a recipe for mint chocolate cookies that meets ALL of the dietary limitations of the group, so that's what he wants to make in the morning.

I still don't know what I'm going to do for the gift exchange, but in my search for inspiration I found some neat links to random things you can feed people who have special dietary requirements and thought perhaps you would enjoy some of them. (I've been full-on Keto for the last year, and feel amazing. But we don't really eat a lot of treats and sweets and such, so I haven't looked for alternatives. We make our mayo and sriracha and everything else can be killed or grown. Boy, was that search eye-opening! I had NO IDEA how far recipes had come for the dietary-restricted diets! Dang, people, way to get creative with your bad selves!)

First up, I found this recipe for what the author says is a lot like a Jolly Rancher. It's made with xylitol and either LorAnn's candy flavoring or unsweetened Kool-Aid. Oh, and a hot plate. (We do not have a hot plate, or a mug warmer, much to James' sorrow, so we used the coffee pot. It seems to have worked.) I didn't get pictures of the process because I am so far out of that frame of mind you wouldn't believe it. But it's a very low key process. We didn't add enough flavoring, I think. Prototypes are like that. But we also did not napalm anyone in the kitchen, break the coffee pot, or poison the dog. Plus, it's very satisfying to get xylitol to crystallize.

Then I found this mother lode of links for mug cakes. Paleo, low-carb, crazy, rampant cake recipes! I haven't made them, yet, but we did put Meyer lemons on the grocery list. I'm kind of toying with the idea of having batches pre-made and bagged with mugs set out, so guests can just pick their mix, dump it into a mug, and IT'S A PARTY!

If I can get up and out the door early enough tomorrow to buy some Swerve, I really want to make these Butterfinger Bars by Maria Emmerich.

And my sweet friend who has to preview ingredients graciously sent me her own pumpkin "pie" recipe after Thanksgiving... I doubled the egg count, threw in a titch of stevia, and we ate the whole danged thing. So she's getting a ramekin of that with whipped coconut cream tomorrow. In a heart shape, because I love her, and I'm a dork, and it'll make her smile.

Then we'll sit and catch up on each other's lives over the last week. We'll share a few quiet minutes while the kids play The Resistance and yell in the other room. We'll refresh our spirits and bolster ourselves for the coming week. It's good stuff.

Be encouraged!

Wednesday, September 9

Mid-way Through

Today is my mid-point scan. Part of me thinks we should re-enact the fight of the 6yo me who didn't want to go to Mrs. Schnitzius' class. (It was a pretty epic fight on a six-year-old's scale.) The adult part of me is being rather stoic and philosophical, preparing and planning. Thank God that part still functions. As I went through the prep instructions, I got to the part about clothing. They recommend "comfortable clothing with no metal (like zippers)". I have... Well, I have one piece of clothing that fits this requirement.

A pair of yoga pants.

So I sat in my room, stared at my yoga pants, and wondered for a while if I could actually wear them out in public with a straight face when I know full well that I'm not working out. I'm not even going to walk quickly today. Then I slipped them on and giggled a bit.

A friend texted some support and I shared the situation with her. She reminded me of this, and now we both have this song stuck in our heads...

It's also JakeRabbit's birthday. He's at the lake with friends, celebrating another friend's birthday, so although I miss him and hate that his birthday is Scan Day, I know he's having a lot more fun than we are! My friend (the other boy's mother) sent me a pic of JakeRabbit enjoying a birthday breakfast, complete with bacon, eggs, and a cake. They're going to swim before the storms hit, then hang and play and squirrel around indoors. Not a bad way to turn 12.

OK. First bottle of Redi-Cat down (berry is a lot easier to choke down that the mocha -- it tastes less metallic). Time to crack open the second bottle and take this bad boy on.

Be encouraged~

Friday, August 14

The Last Hurrah of Summer

Every night, Em asks me a series of questions. It's her Bedtime Catechism. What day is tomorrow? What are we doing tomorrow? Do I have to get up early? What's the temperature supposed to be? Can I read in bed? (And by "read", she means "craft". We both know this.)

It makes her a little bit batty that starting in June, my response to the temperature question is, "hot". It's going to be hot from now until October. "But WHY can't you look it up?" Because it's August in the South, baby girl. It just depresses me to see the actual numbers. Just plan on Swelteringly, Wiltingly Hot, and if it happens to be only moderately hot, or perhaps not sweltering, well, that's like a special surprise. She remains unconvinced, but every afternoon she says, "Yeah, you were right. It's hot." I'm excited for the first forecast day in the 70's - not just because the 70's are pretty awesome after a hot summer, but to see her face when I have a legit answer.

The public schools are back in session this week. As of yesterday, all of our county schools were up and running. But the local water park stays open until today before switching to the weekends-only schedule to wrap up the season, so we went yesterday to enjoy having the place to ourselves - along with another hundred or so homeschoolers, which is a bit of a tradition. It's such a tight-knit community that we ran into someone we know at every spot we landed, and the kids met new friends, too. I love the non-traditional back to school photos (bad lighting, random pose, and all):

We're on the far side of this project for the older two. I can't quite grasp how that can be, and yet, there they are - taller than I am, learning to drive, branching out in amazing, fascinating, and sometimes terrifying ways... It reminds me to enjoy the bedtime litany and listening to books I don't care for, because it won't take much time at all before Em and Jase are taller than I am, learning to drive, and branching out...

Today, it's going to be moderately hot. What a pleasant surprise. Perhaps we should go enjoy one last hurrah...

Be encouraged,

Wednesday, November 5

November, What A Great Month

Having a great month so far! (Yeah, it's the fifth. I've decided to call it early and just enjoy the rest of it, whatever comes.)

Jacob managed to get a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup out of the wrapper without skinning the bottom. He was very excited (as I figured when I saw this on my phone --->)

We had a party on Halloween. It wasn't a scary, gory party - mainly because nobody would have come, and parties are more about the people who come and enjoy time together than they are about props or themes or decorations. (Thank God, because even for other holidays, I pretty much stink at any of that.) But I do miss grown-up costume parties. And I wanted to have some fun with the day, too. So I bought sparkly silver eyelashes. The children were scandalized. (Evidently, that's not appropriate attire for a Good Mother. I had to take my own picture, with my short little dinosaur arms that are not made for selfies. And what appears to be a fish eye lens... I'm not sure what's up with that.)

I'll be honest, I couldn't see, and the sparkly bits threw light around and I kept dodging and twitching because it looked like things coming at me out of my periphery. But it was fun. Also, I have so much respect for anyone who can wear those things and dance. Clearly, I'm not going to be heading for the Vegas stage any time soon.

Em and Jase were *stoked* to find their pumpkins on the wall at the library. When you're in the under ten crowd, this is right up there with getting published or having your picture in the paper.

Jase looked so cute in his costume. But the flash on the phone is really bright, and it stays on a long time. So I got this shot, which was live-captioned by Jase, "Mom! You're blinding me! Ow!"

And that's been about it. We want to take December off to do fun things, so we're doubling down on November to take up the slack. We'll see how that goes. Should be fun!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, May 12

Happy Mother's Day

I'd have posted this yesterday, but to be honest, I slept through it. We got up, dressed, and out the door for Sunday School and church, and I was awake. I was right there, on the ball, no stressing or worrying. Not even feeling particularly focused, to be truthful.

About ten minutes before the end of the service (which was a great service - this isn't a reflection on the pastor, at all), I realized I was dangerously close to going into full-on hibernation. I sat up. That didn't help.

I ate a mint. That didn't help.

I leaned forward. Boy, that really didn't help.

I sat back up and tried to stretch without shoving my arms into anyone's face.

Still no improvement.

So I got up and went to the hall, got a drink, stretched where only the little 11-month-old toddler and her mother could see me (they came around a corner mid-stretch - there was no way to pull out of it gracefully, so I just smiled and went with it).

I thought I was okay, so I slipped back in for communion. All was right with the world.

Until we got in the car. I fell asleep. Repeatedly and without warning.

And when we got home, I changed out of my church clothes and laid down for "just a bit". Kind of figured a little Mother's Day Nap was within the rules, right?

Five and a half hours later...

I got up then only because Z was starting to fret that I hadn't eaten enough, so he insisted I at least sit up and have a little something, even if I went straight back to bed afterword. Which, I didn't. I did stay up for the evening, for a nice visit with my mother in law and her sister, for hanging out with the kids and reading aloud. So, the day started nicely and ended beautifully, but I'm just going to have to trust everyone else on how the middle bit went.

I hope your Mother's Day brought you opportunities to make people feel appreciated, and opportunities for others to do the same for you.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, April 15

One Last Freeze

Surprise Spring Cold Snap! After wearing shorts and light shirts all weekend, we had to break out emergency layers this morning! The ground is littered in oak and grass pollen, but the temps were in the low 40's by noon, and the low tonight is going to be in the 20's. That's a little crazy.

We went to see the San Jose Taiko performance this morning. If you ever have the opportunity to see this group perform, please treat yourself and go! They truly are art in motion, and it's a visual thrill as well as a musical one. Every one of our group sat, entranced, through the whole performance. I was a little nervous about how quickly two hours would pass (what with the small one), but it was over before anyone got antsy. I'd have gotten pictures, but they said we can't. And then one of the door guards sat right behind me. James thinks I looked a little sketchy. He's probably right.

James needed a suit for an upcoming project, and he's outgrown his Dr. Who outfit from Halloween, so we got him suited up and ready to roll. Luckily, the old suit fits John, and he thought it'd be perfect for Easter service. So now, of course, Jacob's thinking a suit would be swanky for Easter, too! It's been a while since everyone had a suit. The default "dress clothes" have consisted of a general pair of Docker-esque tan pants and a polo for so long, now. (I really miss the days when we could pop into Sears and grab those little boy suits for $30. Those days are long gone for most of the crew.)

And, haircuts. Because we are a shaggy, scraggly bunch at the moment. Jacob's hair whisperer is back to work at a new place, and he can't wait to see her. Brian, The Hair Guy, can squeak us in, too, for the rest of the kids. (Funny tidbit about Brian. He has two homeschool families, and he's spent the last four years constantly asking us if we knew each other, but we didn't. He insisted we had to. We just HAD to. We figured it was a case of, "Oh, you're from Earth! Do you know Bob?" It happens. Yet, now that we've met, we can see how he thought we *had* to know each other. We do SO many of the same things. And we live in such a small area. Somehow, we've orbited around each other without ever being in the same place at the same time the last few years, like a comedy sketch in a restaurant kitchen. I think his stress level has dropped considerably now that we don't all smile-and-nod and give each other sidelong glances when he mentions us knowing the other family!)

We've had an airsoft gathering, and done some work on the property. Buddy doesn't smell like skunk anymore. The dogwoods are in bloom. We haven't tackled a garden, yet, but everyone has expressed an interest in having one, so I guess we'll have to get on that at some point. (This is where my competent gardening friends roll their eyes and start saying, "Honey, you should've had..." It's a wonder they admit to knowing me in public.) I'm going to blink soon and find we're smack in the middle of Summer, aren't I?

Kiss those babies!

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!

Sunday, December 30

Kitchen Adventures

We had such a lovely Christmas with friends and loved ones. I didn't bother trying to take many pictures on Christmas Day - that was my "gift" to my family. I'm not a fun photographer, and it's just no fun to have Beulah Balbricker yelling at you on Christmas. So. That was fun.

But I *did* get some pictures of Em (aka: The Compliant One) as she put her Christmas gift from MeWa and MeTae to good use.

They brought her a little bag of kitchen goodies - some mixes, a pretty little apron, her own whisk and spatula - Oh, she was elated!

And keeping the camera in my hands forced, erm, helped, me to let her do it all on her own. That was important, in keeping with the spirit of the gift.

We had a really good time.

Thanks, MeWa and MeTae!

I hope your Christmas brought you together with people you love, to do good things and make lovely memories!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, December 24

An Early Christmas

It's 11:07, and we're done! Stockings stuffed, Santa gifts laid out, cookies eaten. Normally, it's a little after one in the morning before we get this far.

The difference this year? Jacob is in on the project instead of us having to wait for He Of The Iron Will to fall asleep. Now we have three Christmas Eve helpers. In just a few more years, it'll be a full-blown party when Santa stops by! They grow up quickly, but it doesn't have to be sad. There are so many neat ways to enjoy them, no matter their ages.

However, now that nobody's looking, I do believe Z and I are going to call it a Date Night and watch a movie. Alone. (It's a Christmas Miracle!)

Kiss those babies, and have a Blessed Christmas,

Sunday, December 23

A Hobbity Holiday Outing

We saw The Avengers earlier this year, and we try to keep treks to the theater to a minimum (it's SO expensive!), but we really wanted to see The Hobbit in theaters, too. So we splurged and called it a Christmas present. The three older boys - who have all read the book many times and know and love the story, and I - who would watch Martin Freeman read electric bills - hit the theater on Friday afternoon.

They are so fun to be out and about with, but I think on this outing, Jacob was the most fun. You could see the frustration on his face at every change and deviation. He'd whisper the original to me, then glance my way, as if to say, "You see that, right?" I started to worry that this had been a bad idea (while also quietly celebrating how dearly he loves the written word. I admit it.) The screen went black, the lights came up, and then you could hear a lone little voice gasp (had he not been breathing this whole time?) and whisper-shout, "That. Was. Awesome!"

Yeah. It was. It so was.

We thought it would be fun to make it a Full Adventure for the Whole Family, so I got tickets for Zorak to take the Littles to Santa's Village at the Early Works Museum while we were at the show. The program material said there would be crafts, programs, Santa's reindeer, an elf workshop. It sounded neat. Guess it turned out to be a bit of a dud (no real crafts, or interactive or hands-on activities, but plenty of stations with different winter scenes to take pictures in various settings. At $5 a head, they at least paid for the cut-out snowman, right? Weird.) The reindeer were cold and sleepy. But the letters to Santa were hilarious (Jase marked that he had been both Naughty and Nice), and Z did enjoy the time with them. They consoled themselves with sushi and miso soup while they waited for our show to let out.

We ate sushi, too, because really, who turns down the chance to eat? Then we drove through the Galaxy of Lights at the Botanical Gardens. The wait in line was about 45 minutes. The drive through, itself, was nearly an hour. It was beautiful, but I'll tell you, if you want to enjoy the full experience, let me know and you can borrow Jase. He was like this at the sight of every. single. display.


We didn't think he could keep up that level of intensity for long, but we were wrong. He did start to short out a bit at the end, but he was still at full-throttle. It was magnificent. I'd happily pay $20 for anything that elicits that response.

Then we hit Krispy Kreme. The light was on. We were distracted by the pretty doughnuts. It was worth it.

We didn't manage to get a picture of the family, but everyone wore their non-holey, non-camo clothes just in case there was a random photo shoot. Three of the kids were sound asleep before we hit the edge of town. We pulled into the drive around midnight, feeling our ages, but really glad we ran with it. The movie was fun, the food was good, the lights were pretty. Most of all, though, the kids are neat, and they are so much fun to be around. The whole outing turned out to be more of a gift to myself than to them. It was a good gift.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, December 16

Late to the Festivities, but Getting There

It's taken us a while to push through this project (the paint on the trim is drying, but as soon as it's up, I'll post photos - it turned out really well, and I'm so happy with it), but we're finally kicking into the Holiday Spirit. Our Advent readings started out well, then we got into discussions of prophets, Israel, Jacob wrestling with the angel... now we're reading through parts of Genesis, and I'm not entirely sure how we got there. But it's good, you know? We're thinking, and talking, and sharing. So, yeah. Yeah, that works.

Zorak brought home a tree a couple days ago. It was pretty scrunched up, so we left it to unfold overnight. It, um, never really unfolded. It just is the size it is. Z likes it, though, and the kids think it's beautiful. I like them, and think they're beautiful, so it's a win-win if you look at it like that.

The boys tested all the lights today, fixed the broken ones, and decorated the bathroom. (Priorities are important, and a festive bath is a happy bath.) Then we got to the tree. They handled everything; I mostly wandered about taking pictures of the backs of people's heads. It's like trying to make two magnets align when they're not facing the right way. You can get close, but one's going to shoot off at the last minute. 

Every once in a while I can use the zoom to capture a moment that's honest and wonderful. That makes me smile.

They make me smile.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, November 18

How Many Days Until...

Halloween? Christmas? My Birthday? Thanksgiving? My eleventy-first birthday? Sunday? Christmas?

It's so much fun when they start to realize time has some kind of continuity. It's even more fun when they learn to take it for granted. Right now, however, I can safely say there are four days until Thanksgiving, and 37 days until Christmas. You'll have to figure out your own birthday if you want to know that one badly enough, and you can ask James to figure out how long until your eleventy-first birthday because, frankly, he enjoys things like that and I don't.

37 days until Christmas? That doesn't seem right. But I've been using weeks, because weeks leaves them just confused enough that I can slip off to refill my coffee before they think up another question.

Em's already making Christmas presents. Paper owls and paper dolls seem to be this week's themes. I'm pretty sure the EMT will find our bodies beneath the composting piles of cardstock one day, but as long as we can breathe, we will enjoy the pretty little creations she brings us. (There are. so. many. Thank goodness nobody here suffers from Pulpuslaceratapohobia*.)

Deer season has begun. The guys were out cutting wood when one trotted right past them. Fortune, however, favors the prepared, and it didn't seem wise to lob a maul at it, so we had ham tonight, instead. Perhaps this week, at some point, we'll have time to go hunting. After the kitchen window is in. We're working on that this week!

The boys hosted an airsoft gathering at the house on Friday. Good turnout. Lovely women. Naturally, EmBaby got wide-eyed and whispered, "Upstairs?!" when I told her she and Jase could watch a movie while the boys played. What was I just saying about how we don't just shove them into the cellar? In front of new company, too. Kids are good for that - keeping you humble and on your toes. At any rate, the boys all had a really good time, and I hope I didn't do anything too weird.

Kiss those babies!

*Fear of paper cuts. Learned something new today!

Monday, June 18

Hot 'n Sticky Holiday

Zorak worked on the project with his co-worker most of the day, Saturday. I don't think they got it finished, as he needs a torch. I wish I'd known that before Father's Day. Someday, we will manage to figure out what he needs and get it for him before he runs down to Home Depot or the Welding Shop and buys it for himself. Not that he minds. Gifts don't say I love you to him - time, thoughtfulness, naps, kind words, affection - those things wrap him in a big hug and whisper, "You mean so much to us." And humor - a family that laughs together is happy and solid. We're fortunate, and we've got it good.

Father's Day was spent working in the garden. Sort of. I like to think we'd be better at it if our lives depended on it. I may be wrong, though. It's pretty miserable down there in the afternoons, and we haven't disciplined ourselves enough to get down there and get it over with in the cool of the mornings. (Of course, there will be no cool, ever, in another two weeks, so maybe it's just a pre-emptive adjustment on our part?) Thankfully, okra will grow with pretty much no input from anyone.

We graduated a couple more chicks from the basement to the barn. I cannot tell you how glad I will be when I no longer have livestock living in my home.

The kids and I made lunch for Zorak (shredded BBQ brisket sandwiches, tomato/cuke/sweet pepper salad, green salad, pintos, and cheesecake). We enjoyed lunch and then laid down -- and stopped moving. Z got a Father's Day nap. (Best Gift, Ever!) The rest of us watched MacGuyver and lolled about, with our limbs dangling off the ends of the furniture.

If I haven't done so already, I need to go on record now as saying I am SO wholly on board with the implementation of siestas in the South. Nobody wants to work during the hottest part of the day, and in the summer it's light late enough that you can get more done after a refreshing nap, anyway. When you add in the humidity and the lunch... Oy! Siesta is the only thing that makes any sense. But it's never caught on here in the South, for whatever reason. A shame, really - it's a lovely way to get through the hot'n'sticky part of the day.

This week? This week we don't have to be up at 5:45, so we're not going to be. That's about as far as we've made it on the planning end. And we're okay with that. :-)

Kiss those babies!