Showing posts with label just for fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label just for fun. Show all posts

Monday, April 10

Oh, my goodness! Memories

We worked in the basement a bit today. We have worked in that basement so many times over the years. We've never gotten it "done". It's a definite If You Give a Mouse a Cookie situation. "Well, if we're going to do this, we'll need to do these things. And if we're going to do these things, we really need to do that Big Thing." Next thing you know, we've cornered ourselves and can't get anything done down there, so we stack it up and go back upstairs. This time, however, we have doors!

Yeah, I know. Doors. Woohoo? Yes, Woo. hoo. Seriously huge progress, and I'm going to drive this donkey cart into the ground now that we have some momentum. Today, we got the industrial junk relegated to a corner that's not right smack as you walk in, and what do you know, it made a huge difference. (Yes, this should have been obvious. We suspected, but it wouldn't have mattered before, so we didn't try it out.) Then we flipped the hanging out area (gaming area? living area?) whatever, we moved the couch and the tv over by the Real Doors. So now, it has a vaguely Legitimate Living Space feel to it. As long as you don't look at the walls, or the rafters, or the floors. But if you keep your eyes firmly between 2' and 5' from the floor, it looks nice down there.

Actually, you can look at the rafters - we vacuumed them this afternoon, and they, too, look nice. That floor, though, is just going to be ugly until next year.

Then we realized the camping shelf, which, for the last ten years, has been THE tidy focal point of the basement, looked horribly shifty and ugly. I could have wept for joy! The pretty bit looks ugly, now! We're making tangible progress! So we moved it, too. Now the industrial bits are locked into a corner by makeshift walls of storage, and there is a clearly defined livable space emerging around it. I can live with that.

We picked up and cleared out so much that we found James' missing Mahabis sole! 😂 (It fell off while he was walking around down there about a month and a half ago. We have looked and looked for that thing and had both given up on ever finding it.) I think he is now certain that ALL the work was worth it, even if we never finished the basement. Happy kid. Maybe his lost tube of thermal paste will show up in the next round of shifting?

Back when we'd painted some of the walls and built the closets down there, we'd painted all the wall we could get to. As of today, there's double the amount of wall now visible, and it needs painting. When we moved a couple of shelves, we found a little spot on the wall where John's been testing spray paint for his projects over the years. It's actually kind of pretty. The more we walked around it, the more it grew on us. Finally, John asked if we could just do that, intentionally, to the wall behind the sofa. Yeah, why not? It won't preclude us from hanging drywall someday, but in the meantime, they'll have a space that's all theirs. That's on tomorrow's docket, and I'm stoked.

I am so close to being able to use the weight machine again! I think after tomorrow's push, it'll be safe to use without fear of knocking over paper piles or cracking someone in the head while they attempt to read in the chair.

We'll devote the remainder of this week to fixing that up as much as possible off this momentum. Then this coming weekend we'll see what we can do about the landscaping. Once things start to green up down here, it's on. You've got to stay ahead of it, and I just know all my local friends are going to shake their heads and point out that we're already behind.

But in the meantime, Be Encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, March 29

The Search for Senior Photos

Most of my friends already had their kids' Senior Photos done by, um, the start of April.


Of course, most of my friends also took their own Senior Photos. I have very talented friends. And I'm pretty sure they keep me around just to see what ridiculous thing we'll set fire to in the front yard next. And maybe for allergy-friendly snacks. It's definitely not for my photography skills, though. Also, although I can take a decent photo of some of my children, I cannot take a good one of James. Nor he of me. It's like some kind of bizarre grudge match, where we're determined to under-do each other.

So we've hired a photographer. It seemed the wise course of action.

Then the photographer asked us to send a list of outfits...

OK. So. For someone who models, this kid really doesn't care what he's wearing. As long as it's soft and not binding, he is happy. (If you're picturing sweats, an over-sized graphic t-shirt, and a hoodie, you must know my child, or have one like him.) He understands the value of wearing the appropriate apparel to certain venues, and honestly, I am happy with that. He is happy with that. Overall, we're happy. But he has no idea what he's going to wear. Or what he wants from the shoot, other than pictures.

We called on the power of the internet to get some ideas and inspiration. Here's what we discovered:

1. He does not have a football, or a football uniform, or a letterman's jacket. (Or, insert appropriate sport here.)
2. He does not have a favorite automobile (I suggested we use the Volvo and go for a vintage vibe - he snorted at me).
3. Photos for girls in this context do not convert well to photo ideas for boys.
4. Nature. Um, not so much. We're all surprised he stayed in Scouts with all that outdoorsing going on.
5. Random chair. In a road, or a hiking trail. (We just don't understand this one. How does that capture the student? Unless the student actually sits in chairs in meadows, but while we do think some do, we suspect that there aren't nearly as many as Pinterest would have you believe.)
6. Train tracks. (This would explain the recent deaths attributed to selfies. Don't try this at home, kids. Always have a professional photographer make you stand on the tracks for photographs.)
7. Ticks. So much lying in grass. ARGH.
8. Writing on feet. I don't want an 8x10 of the soles of his feet on my wall. I'm sorry, I just don't.

Overall, it wasn't an inspiring experience.

We tried brainstorming some other suggestions. He does like the city, so we thought something in the downtown area, with tall buildings in the background might work. I suggested a coffee shop (that might have been just so I can sit in a comfortable chair that's inside a building and have coffee, but I still maintain that it would work for the photos, too). Or maybe we can go to a park in town (one that gets sprayed regularly and isn't likely to have ticks) and use the laptop and a cup of coffee with the downtown buildings in the background.

He wants to bring the cat. I tried to warn him that those end up on Awkward Family Photographs every time. He remains skeptical.

I'm thinking I'll need to pay the photographer a lot more than he's asking.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, March 1

It's Go Time!

While James has been writing essays, researching scholarships, pounding the pavement looking for work, he's also been working towards this week: It's Fashion Week in North Alabama!

Photography by Mannon Giovanni
Suit by Dionicio's Closet
Styled by Shauntana Buchannan
Hair by Hair of Essence 

The Kick-Off is tonight, with runway looks by designer LeJeune, a special presentation from Belk styled by Shauntana Buchannan (who is available to help you put your look together - just stop by the Belk in Bridge Street, Madison, and ask for her), a formal wear show, as well as pop-up boutiques, art, and more.

There will be shows each night, from tonight through Saturday's Finale.

If you would like to come, please consider purchasing your ticket through this link and help support the AFA, as well as James. (He does not receive proceeds from the sale of tickets. He only helps move Fashion Week Alabama forward.)

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Thursday, December 15

Big News. Ish.

Well, not Big-big News. I'd hopefully come up with a much better title for that. But little-news-that's-exciting-to-me-because-I-hate-using-the-computer-for-reading. ACNA (the Anglican Church in North America) has been working on a Texts for Common Prayer, and it looks like it'll be available in print January 1st. (It's been available in PDF for a while.) We're relatively new to the Anglican Church (it's been about a year and a half), and I do love me some hands-on reading. So I'm quite excited about this.

In other news, it's Alabama-cold. The kids set small cups of water on the porch last night, and were not only disappointed, but quite surprised that the water didn't freeze. They were relatively certain that the ice should have been rock solid and rather impressive. I don't know if we need to move to Minnesota, or just double down on how temperatures work. (Although to be fair, with a low of 24, I thought they'd at least get a little something around the rim. Our pipes freeze up when it hits 27... So maybe I need to study up, too.) Either way, we're loving the warm goodness of wool this week.

Not a lot, really, going on today. Had lunch with a wonderful friend -- we got to talk a bit about what it's like to have a student done with homeschooling... and then (as I'm about to graduate my first, she's about to graduate her last) what it's like to *be* done with homeschooling. Nobody ever blogs about that. Probably because it's just as terrifying as getting started, but with less heads up. You're plugging along, doing your thing, and the next thing you know, there's nobody coming up the ranks... just, done. Weird. Exciting, liberating, wide-open, and not a little unsettling. But I'm excited to see what she's going to do, and I'll be jotting down ideas for when I look up and realize I'm done.

If you're in the thick of it, know this - you're doing good work. Be diligent. Be kind. 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!

Saturday, September 6

This is the week that will not end

Some weeks seem to go on forever in an idyllic onslaught of joy and adventure.

This is not one of those weeks. This week we're all on full throttle, but only half the cylinders are firing, so there are are lot of backfires and rough starts. It's crazy. We've been up and out the door early every morning this week, and that's starting to wear on our collective nerves. We'll have to be out the door early both mornings this weekend, too, and I suspect the boys are about to lobby for a Late Start Monday policy after weeks that carry this level of intensity. If they don't, I just might.

But it's all good stuff. Today was particularly fun: our local homeschool social group started back. It felt so good to get in there and *know* people, to see kids we haven't seen all Summer and spend time with friends we've seen just recently, to hear the plans for the coming months and get excited all over again about what we've got to look forward to. That part was awesome. Today, I felt like I was home, and remembered being new and feeling like an alien interloper every time I walked in to the meeting. It's good to be over that. It's good to be home.

And we have a lot of new families with teens, so that's also exciting. Except for the part where people seem to think I'm in charge of teen activities... which I'm not. Or, more accurately, I strive very hard not to be. I will continue to insist that I'm just inviting people to come do things we were going to do, anyway. The idea of giving the impression that I'm organized, or that any of our outings resemble anything other than relatively organic eruptions of activity in beautiful surroundings, is likely to leave people disappointed. But if they show up to hang out with friends, make new friends, and maybe see or do something interesting in the meantime, then yeah, I'm your gal. I hope the new families are very laid back and understanding. That would also be pretty fantastic!

Homer took off Tuesday to do... whatever it is cats do when they take off. I don't know. This is the first time he's done it, and he hasn't really told me much about his trip. Kerouac impressions? Do they find wild catnip and discarded absinthe bottles and channel their inner Hunter S. Thompson? Whatever it was (and based on his condition when he showed up this afternoon, I'm laying odds he could tell you stories about those bats), he is home. He's eaten an entire can of tuna and hasn't stopped purring and kneading the floor since he got in. He hobbles around like a 90yo after hip replacement surgery, and he with every step he gripes like a hungover co-ed: "Ow. Ugh. Ow. Damn. Ow. Oh, cold floor. Gah, I should have just peed in the closet."

Bless him for not peeing in my closet. And we're all really glad he's back. But dang if that wasn't the longest week of trying to be optimistic I think I've had in a while. I tried to keep it positive for the kids, but by this morning, they were looking at each other skeptically, as if to say, "Do you think we should tell her he's probably dead?" So, yay for having Homer Kitty home.

Z was on the road for work the first half of the week, but he got home a couple of days early. The littles made him a welcome home banner and hung it on the door. The boys refrained from watching shows they know Z would like to watch with them. I love that they notice his absence. I love that his presence makes such an impact on our home, and our lives. He is pretty much everything a family could want in a Dad. And he puts up with us and our weirdness - our wonky schedule, random animals, weird diet, non-stop talking. Yep, we're pretty fortunate.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 1

As You Like It

Every year, I remember that Nashville has a Shakespeare in the Park performance. Usually, I remember this the week after the last performance. So this year, we invited friends (accountability), picked a date (procrastination), and we went! I am so glad we did.

It was absolutely fantastic. We took our blankets and spread out on the grass near the front of the stage. This is probably my favorite way to watch live theater, now. It was a long day, with the 2-hour drive each way, but that was made more fun with friends. It was, without a doubt, absolutely worth it, though.

Everything about this performance by the Nashville Shakespeare Festival was delightful and engaging, but one thing I hadn't thought about before hand was the music. This is *Nashville*! The music blew us all away. At first, we didn't think the actors on stage were singing live. It was too good. Then we realized that's exactly what they were doing. So that was like getting a whole other performance on top of the Shakespeare.

I would have better pictures, but they asked us not to take pictures during the performance (understandable), and we were just having too much fun visiting, watching, laughing, and eating during the time we could take photos.

Actually, most of the pictures I did get centered around the food. They had Thai, Egyptian, and BBQ. Oh, how much we spent trying a little of everything! I'm so glad my kids are adventurous eaters. And we do love some food truck food. (As an aside, anybody ever call them "roach coaches"? I get that that's considered derogatory, but we always meant it affectionately. I'm working very hard on not squealing with delight, "Oh! Let's see what's at the roach coach!" when we pull into a venue and see the trucks lined up. But I do still say it on the inside.)

So, yes, Mr. Shakespeare, we did like it. We liked it very much. From the atmosphere to the production to the food trucks, this was one of our favorite outings of 2014 so far.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, July 24

Re-Entry is Hard

It's Thursday, and we've been just wallowing in indecision. Do we hang out? Clean? Plan? Go adventuring? Oh, look, Netflix! I should consider asking for a coupon for a maid service to clean the house the day before I return from Circe next year.

It's not the house's fault for being untidy, and having a clean home wouldn't buy me more hours in a day to get in all the planning, adventuring, and hanging out with the children that I would like. But it feels like it might, and so, I daydream. (That doesn't particularly help with the paralysis.)

But, the older boys' 9th and 10th grade years are mostly planned out now. We're using Norms & Nobility as the basic guideline. I've spent the last few days parsing the titles out into 12-week terms, matching the memory work up with the historical and literature content. It's coming together, and I'm looking forward to the Renaissance! The only change I'll make (and it's small, but as with most things, I reserve the right to can the plan and run off with the family at any point in the year), is that we're swapping out The Tempest in favor of As You Like It. We read and watched video of The Tempest last year, and we have the opportunity to see As You Like It performed live next month. Seems like a no-brainer. And let me tell you, three chapters into Norms and I need a no-brainer tossed my way!

No, wait. Also foreign language. We'll keep Latin, but James wants to take Japanese, and John wants to take Russian. I found online high school courses for both through BYU, which was incredibly exciting (for me) because I'm just not going to learn Japanese, and if I'm going to learn the Cyrillic alphabet, it's going to be for Greek studies. So, there you have it: we need to find someone else to keep up with modern languages. I'm good with that. If you have used a BYU online course, I would love some feedback. It looked good, but I've since heard some negative experiences (nothing drastic and terrifying, just experiences that indicate it may not be a good fit for us). So now I've pushed our start date back a bit while I do more legwork.

JakeRabbit, Em and Jase are going to continue on with Ambleside. And wandering in the woods. And catching animals. Because honestly, that seems like a pretty darned fantastic childhood.

Meanwhile, James has got to learn to drive. But he's in no hurry. None of his friends really are, either. What is that? I was willing to give up a kidney to get my license the day I turned 16. Not that it helped a lot (and thankfully nobody took me up on that offer), but it was such a nice bit of freedom. Even today, I love to get behind the wheel and just GO. I felt guilty doing all the driving last week, but it turned out my traveling companion was fine with that, and so my gypsy self just soaked it all in. James? Not a gypsy. And that's okay. But it would be nice not to have to drive to Scouts.

And tomorrow, we get to spend some time with friends! But not here at the house, which means we still have quite a bit of cleaning left to do (we should just host something - that would get it done quickly and well).

Kiss those babies!

Friday, July 11

We're Almost Done... Peeling

Dang. We went on a float trip on Saturday. It was supposed to be a four hour float trip that included a stop mid-way for lunch and time to play in the water. How cool is that?

But the river was low.

It was so low that the trip took seven hours. Yikes!

Now, I'm not known for being the most prepared mom in the world on the best of days. Most of the time, we're just kind of winging it, glancing at one another to make sure we're all still upright. I figure if I account for food and hydration, and return with approximately the same number of children I left with, it was a good day. (We didn't even lose anyone to that man eating tree on the right!)

But that day, we had a friend's child with us. So I was on super good behavior. I made everyone spritz up with sunblock, reminded everyone to drink, reapplied sunblock just before we got in the river... man, I was rocking this responsibility thing!  We even remembered to wear sneakers to protect our feet (and, evidently, to host mayflies, which was a little weird, as they were rather distracted with mating and didn't seem to care what they landed on to do it).

Except... we were good for four hours of sun. Not seven.

And my friend had told me that she'd sprayed her son down very well. Since she's Super Responsible, I didn't make him re-do his before we got in the water. But she didn't expect that he'd take his swim shirt off, so she didn't do his back. And I didn't know that.

:hangs head in shame:


Of course, the rest of us got fairly well toasted, too. So, you know, at least I'm liberally negligent.

Anyway, we have another float trip tomorrow. I bought more sunblock (higher SPF, too). And I bought two containers of it - one of them is going to live in my bag. It may take me until the last of my children is out of the house, but I WILL get the hang of this gig. I swear I will.

(And we did have a blast on this outing. Even with the burns and the occasional need to lift our floats and duck walk across the shoals. For which there are no pictures. Because I was waddling along with everyone else.)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, July 3

Seasons in the Sun

We're learning to love Summer. Just a little bit.

There's always something historic to see, like the Observation Tower at Mt. Cheaha, built by the CCC in 1934, and painstakingly maintained by a team so that it can remain open and accessible to the public today:

Or to find, like the wildlife hiding in plain sight...

Or do... like playing in the water. This is probably the thing I appreciate the very most about living in Alabama - the water. Every place has history. Not every place has water.

The kids don't really take this for granted - they pick up trash along the way, leave the area cleaner than we found it, and they're respectful of the terrain and the things that live here. But they have no idea how good they've got it - this is normal for them. How cool is that? I was 20 before I got to swim to the base of a waterfall.

Still can't identify most of the plants that catch my eye, but that won't stop me from trying. It's all about getting experience by continuing to try until you get it right.

And then we headed out, and up. Funny, it didn't seem very far on the way in...

(I wrote this several days ago, but didn't post it. No idea why, but I'm going to blame the heat. Or maybe old age - I think I went off on rabbit trails to identify that flower and then suddenly, they wanted food again. That happens more than I'd like to admit.)

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, June 1


I had to go through my pictures to see what we've been up to this week, but after I looked at the pictures it all made sense: my brain is waterlogged. This has been a week of water, water, milkshakes, and water. We were invited to share Memorial Day with some special friends. We sat on the deck and visited while the children roasted themselves to a gentle crisp in the pool.

Immediately after that, we had to get a few bodies squared away on camp physicals and vaccinations. Milkshakes all around! We had one visit a day, all week. It was a long, long week. The boys are all quite philosophical about getting a shot. Jase is... not. Well, he may be, but he has a very different philosophy than the rest of them. If my mother were here, this would be the part where she'd smirk and whisper, "One just. like. you." But, we survived! And on we went...

Swimming with our homeschool group. The weather threatened mightily, and it scared off many of the people who'd planned to come, but those who came had a BLAST. We had an hour of clear weather on either side of a slight squall. When the rain did come, the rule was that as long as there's no lightning, they could stay in the water. And they did. We had to lure them out with food and previous obligations ticking away on the clock or they might have stayed until dark. It was a fantastic outing!

And Saturday, we got to join some friends and the Friends of the Locust Fork for their annual hike to Cornelius Falls. It's a fairly challenging hike, but entirely do-able. (Although the Littles stayed home with Dad, and that was a good call.) The payoff at the end of the trail is magnificent! We swam and played in the falls for an hour or so before heading back up the banks to go home. It was hard to leave. This is a seriously gorgeous little spot.

We've got our bags re-packed, our on-the-go food prepped, and we're ready to go back for more! For the first time in a long time, I can actually say I'm looking forward to Summer - good friends, beautiful country, and a willingness to explore - what more could we ask for?

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, May 20

A Soggy Adventure With Good Company

That was pretty much the gist of our weekend. Since last year, when I first found out about it, I've been anxiously awaiting the return of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga Battlefield's once-a-month bike tour. Normally, you have to walk these tours. I don't mind walking. We hike every week. But I do have a little bit of a mental block about walking civil war battlefields. in the South. in the Summer. We did one once. It was horrific. The whole experience was just one of those things that'll be funny in ten years. (It hasn't been ten years yet, so I can't properly tell the story yet. Someday, it'll be hilarious, though.) And while I was certain it would be a completely different experience with a completely different group of people, well, it left a mark.

So I was anxious (really anxious) to rally up a new experience to wipe the RAM and re-set the whole memory bank. (Been talking with James a lot today.) I asked a friend if she thought her family would like to go, too. They said yes! WooHoo! (I love them.)

So, last weekend was the first one of the year, and we were ready to go! The kids and I got all the things squared away: tents, food, chairs, first aid kit... Z modified the trailer to haul a billion bikes plus a cooler and the plow disc.

Reservations made, dates and times confirmed. (Ohhh, yes, I felt like such a grown up! No more showing up in New Orleans two days into Mardis Gras and no clue it was happening. Not this girl. At least, not when I have children depending on me. I could unravel completely after Jase leaves home.) But this time? I had this.

Except, the weather. The rain came, and it stayed. The weather app just showed clips from The Neverending Story as The Nothing swept across northern Georgia. We broke camp in the morning, just in case. (The lady at the campground couldn't believe we were checking out early and was rather insistent that the folks giving the weather report were from Atlanta, and they have no idea what they're talking about.) We smiled at each other as the rain drops began hitting the windshield as we pulled out of the visitors center.

Then we raced over to the Battlefield to see if they were still having the tour, or if it would be postponed. Yep, still on. They knew it was going to rain, but didn't really mind. So we dismantled the Rube Goldberg machine that has become our trailer, checked the bikes, and saddled up. Off they went!

I stayed behind. EmilyGirl still hasn't quite mastered bike riding. (Comes of living on a damn steep hill with a gravel drive and a terrifying drop into the creek if you don't stop in time. Since we've moved here, the kids have been learning to ride later and later.) So she and I trundled about in the grass, in the rain. We made it about half a mile in two hours, going one half a pedal push at a time. She never quite got the hang of it, but she never did give up. She did, however, fall quite a bit, and that was her biggest fear going into it, so... yay? I think. (I'm not glad my child wrecked. But at least now she knows falling off your bike isn't the most horrible thing that could happen. Conquering fear is good. Conquering fear on grass is even better.) I didn't make her cry, and she's been back on since we got home. I'm going to call that a win.

The boys returned wet, tired, and happy. The park ranger was amazingly knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The group they rode with was a great group. Jase had his inaugural ride on the Trail-A-Bike, and he was walking ten feet tall by the end of it.

And that's when the skies opened up and let loose the fury of a thousand shipwrecks. Holy cow, that was some amazing rain! We smiled at each other again, glad we didn't have to go back to break camp in the storm, and we all headed back home with a stop at Jefferson's for some oysters and burgers, and the necessary stop at Unclaimed Baggage to see what we could see.

And you know, it was a totally different experience. We just had to go with the right people. Our people. And it was fantastic!

Friday, May 2

Small Town Fun

Steak sandwiches made with real ribeye steaks, grilled there on the courthouse square, live music (fantastic Fleetwood Mac covers - wow!), local vendors, good friends, and, as a final touch, some of the most spectacular fireworks you could ever wish to see...

That was the game plan at the annual town celebration today. That doesn't even count the antique car show, the 1 mile fun run and the 5K. 

It doesn't include the beautiful skies and friendly local personalities, the charitable groups doing good things for people in the community, and the community itself.

Sometimes, it's just awesome to live here.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, April 19

New Adventures!

Thursday morning, James and I headed out at four in the morning. It was dark and chilly and awesome!

We drove to Chattanooga, and from there, he flew to Albuquerque to participate in a computer competition he's been working on since September. He had to tidy up his hair a bit, for presentation's sake, and get a suit, and then he was off. (He loves the suit, but was sad about the hair. I told him if he knocks it out of the ballpark this year, he can probably show up in house slippers and long hair next year, and as long as he brings the best game, nobody will bat an eye -- he hasn't seen Real Genius yet, and he wasn't really nurtured into adolescence on John Hughes movies, so he probably just thinks I'm in early onset dementia). It didn't cheer him up, any, about the hair, but flying and traveling in relative comfort (meaning, without your siblings' feet in your face, or drool on your shoulder) are compensation enough for a re-set on the hair of your 15yo dreams.

(I have pictures, but there are some changes to Dropbox and I haven't quite figured them out, yet.)

So far, he's having a great time! He enjoyed the flight. His terribly awesome Uncle took him shopping at the Asian market, where he got to stock up on all manner of goodies and interesting things. (He does love interesting foods!) He's been working on things I don't understand, and taking on projects I didn't expect, and in general, just spreading his wings and giving them a good stretch and a couple of flaps.

I miss him terribly.

But this is so good, and such a neat part of growing up. I can't feel anything but excitement for him.

Kiss those babies ~ even when they aren't babies, anymore! They're still so amazing!


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!

Friday, April 11

Awesome Weather!

This is why we school year-round. It was so cold, and wet, (and did I mention cold-for-here?) this Winter, and we know Summer's going to have its hot'n'sticky days (it always does...) So we've been running amok now, with highs in the low 70's and lows in the high 40's.

We went to Clarkson Covered Bridge and spent the day playing games, roaming about, enjoying the day.

We went to Monte Sano and spent the day running about, enjoying the view, and refreshing our spirits with all the color and laughter the day had to offer.

Our local homeschool group had Field Day this week. We spent the day... well, you get the picture. Plus, there was ice cream!

The chicks are out of the basement and into their tractors!
Em told me the other day that she really enjoys reading.
Jase loves phonics. (Classical Phonics, from Memoria Press. If you have one that likes to illustrate and doodle, this is a great, great program!)
We've had to replenish the duct tape supplies twice this week.
James is gearing up for a trip. (I can't wait to tell you more!)
John is happy.
Z is happy, and busy, and making things, and just generally excited about life.
Aside from the fact that I simply cannot get a grip on the house right now, life is pretty darned fantastic!

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, March 11

Oh, Such Beautiful Weather!

We have been on the go, go, go! The weather's been perfect - highs in the 50's and 60's, lows in the high 30's and 40's. The ticks aren't out in force yet, and the mosquitoes haven't arrived, either, so we've been out and about.

The Friday hiking club activities have been a blast. We've gotten to know some truly delightful young men with the hikes. Jase found Fairy Dust on the last hike (granite dust). He brought home an acorn cap full, but I think it's... still in the Suburban. Oops!

We made the drive to a town South of here for another game day with another teen group - it's a haul, but the group is great and the boys all voted that it's worth the drive. I've got to replace an oxygen sensor on the Suburban and see what else I can tweak to get the gas mileage up on that thing if we're going to keep pace with the boys' activities. In the meantime, some of them have said they'll be at the next game day here, so, yay!

Thankfully, there's still plenty to do at home. We spent a good portion of this past weekend working on the back yard. The leaves are burned and we have some good spots picked out for flowers. We had thought to stain, since there's no rain in the forecast, but we had the chance to play with sweet friends. The stain and landscaping can wait... these opportunities aren't for passing up.

And really, that feels like all we've done this month. Hike, play, read, work, laugh. It's been a good, good, month. For that, I am thankful.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, February 25

Huh. That went well.

Oh, look, right after I got all excited about getting to bed early on a regular basis, here I am, up at the witching hour. Oops. The Bigs and I got in late tonight, the bed was full of Littles, and I caved to the siren song of solitude. Tomorrow's going to bring some stout natural consequences. But while I'm up...

The boys attended a Scout meeting tonight with this other Troop. It was... whoa. The difference in this meeting from what we've known as Scouting was astounding (and I'll probably spend the next month kicking myself for not moving them over there four years ago). Wow. They went just to see what they thought, and all three came to me after the meeting and OK'd putting in their memberships. They're all in. They're each in different Patrols - I think Jacob was a little unsure about that, but his brothers assured him that it'll be okay, and that they're still *right there* if he does need them. They reminded him that they were in different Patrols at NYLT, too. 

Pancake breakfast fundraiser at Applebee's in Decatur this Saturday, if anyone is feeling generously inclined toward donating to the boys' efforts to pay for Scout Camp this year! (I did the math on the drive home for three boys, plus getting Jacob geared up, and got just a wee bit queasy thinking about that part, but it'll come together. And for a positive experience, it will be worth it a thousand times over.)

Watched a new show in the quiet time tonight: Zen. It's a BBC America production. Rufus Sewell plays a character who is Not A Villain, which he does very well. The show is spectacular, but since I remember him mostly from his villain roles, I spent most of the first episode waiting for him to bring out the Count Adhemar or Adam the Vampire. He doesn't, and the end result is a delightful police show, as far as I've watched.

School went so well today. I kind of wish we could do a once a week plan and call it good. Everyone is so energetic and enthusiastic (and focused) about one day a week...

Oh, and with the absolutely beautiful weather we've had, today we had lunch on the balcony. It was fantastic, aside from the blinding light. Even with sunglasses on, we ended up shoveling the last bites in as we walked toward the door. I think the general consensus was that we'll try again for breakfast and hold off on eating lunch out there until there's some foliage to help buffer the glare.

Overall, as the Littles would say, "it was a pretty good day".

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!