Showing posts with label life in the south. Show all posts
Showing posts with label life in the south. Show all posts

Friday, September 25

FALL IS HERE!

It's my favorite time of the year - time to sit on the balcony in the mornings and shiver with a cup of coffee. In a little while, I'll be able to grab a hoodie and curl up. This is the reward for surviving the Summer, and it is awesome.

In the meantime, this is also the time of year when ALL THE THINGS need doing: ACT registration, PSAT registration, clearing leaves off the roof and driveway, last mow of the season, winterizing the home, planning for the holidays. Additionally, there's driver's license road exam (James), permit (for John), switch out the clothing (gah, the basement is the bane of my existence these days), and staying on task for school.

About the only thing we're not doing this fall that we normally do is getting firewood onto the porch. We took the wood stove out in April when we built the wall, and there just isn't anywhere for it to go, now. Fortunately, we have a dual fuel HVAC system - heat pump and propane - so we're all set for winter. It'll be different not having wood heat this winter, but I'm more than a little excited about not having the master bath be ass-bitingly cold in the mornings. There's an up side to everything.

Meanwhile, school is going along swimmingly. (It's actually going well, even without grading on a chemo curve!) The older boys are enjoying Lost Tools of Writing. John even mentioned the other day that he took out his ANI template in order to write a history essay. "It really helped!" (Oh, hallelujah!) **** James is hoping to sign up for AoPS' Intermediate Counting and Probability class in November. I'm just hoping they don't fill up before I can get the registration done. **** Jacob has stopped glaring at the First Form Latin videos (years of butchered pronunciation on my part is making the transition to their pronunciation difficult, regardless of how much more clear and accurate theirs is - I've apologized, but change is hard).****  Em and Jase are loving - absolutely loving - Memoria Press' Insects study! That was a sleeper win that I wasn't expecting, and I am so thankful for it. It's been helpful that we started early enough in the year that insects have been plentiful and given us ample opportunity for sketching and observation.

We'll be taking a break in a bit to enjoy the Autumnal weather, make some warm cider and read some books just for fun. I'm looking forward to that the way a six-year-old looks forward to Christmas morning. Good stuff.

Be encouraged,
~Dy

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,
~Dy

Wednesday, November 19

Overwhelmed By Stuff

I keep trying to write, but the words that come aren't terribly uplifting. I'm tired. I'm irritable. I want to hire a team of mafia cleaners to come in and eradicate the house of identifying marks. (OK, mainly paper. Paper and stray socks.) They can take the stack of stuff I need to mail with them on the way out and deal with that, too.

Every single problem I have is not a problem. I get that. Doesn't stop me from wanting to go back to bed and read in peace. (Why does Neal Stephenson write such long, engrossing stories? He needs to get into writing short stories. That might help.) But life is good.

James received his Life rank at the Court of Honor this week. He's been working hard on that, and the reality that Eagle is on his plate hit him this week. He's excited/stunned/mildly surprised that it (meaning his entire childhood) happened so quickly. I love that kid.


Em and Jase joined a local My Little Pony club. They made ornaments this month, then played and ate. Perfect. The room was packed with 18 6-8 year-old boys and girls, and it was adorable.


And so, everyone is hunkered down for Winter, which came early and enthusiastically. The kids are hoping this means we'll have snow. I've reminded them that most people who live in the South do so out of a desire to avoid snow, so we don't mention this hope in public. We just fire up the wood stove and enjoy some downtime.


I think I'm going to go burn some stray papers. Maybe socks.

~Dy

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!
~Dy






Monday, October 27

I Have Learned Something Very Important

We must use the wall calendar. October was absolutely harrowing as far as time management, and I've spent the last week trying to figure out how I dropped ALL THE BALLS in so many ways. It didn't make sense.

This morning I sat down with the boys to go over the calendar and Lo, and Behold - October is blank. We never filled in October's plan, and evidently the mantra, "If it isn't on the calendar, it doesn't happen" is more true than we realized.

Without it, the days zip past in a whirling blur of picking up, rushing out the door, and not having anything ready for dinner until it's way past bedtime. Without the trusty wall calendar, every event is a surprise and preparation fails to happen. I know this now.

Not that October was unpleasant. We had a lovely time.

We've been to museums...


And toured Cathedral Caverns...


Celebrated with friends...


And visited an apple orchard...


We did forensics labs with friends,


Enjoyed Historic Downtown Decatur during the 150th anniversary observance of the Battle for Decatur,


And captured this magnificent ruff at the Renaissance Faire! (James ducked down onto one knee when he requested the honor of taking a photograph with the Queen - I told him I wish I'd known he was going to do that because it was awesome and hilarious and caught me completely off guard so I didn't get a picture. He said he had no idea he was going to do it until he got in front of her and it just seemed like it had to be done. Love impromptu fun!)


So, all in all, it was a wonderful month. But November's calendar is filled in, if for no other reason than that I don't like eating at 9PM.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

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!
~Dy

Wednesday, September 3

My Favorite Things

One of the best things about living in Northern Alabama is the ready access to water. My children think of this simply as "going outside to play". They have no idea why I get giddy every time I see water. (Yes, ten years of living here and it still thrills me. Every time.)


The weather has been lovely enough for water activity, and this is a little spot we found a few weeks back and just had to check out with our hiking group. What a pleasant surprise! The grounds are clean, the area is well-maintained, and although everyone had on shoes, nobody ran across stray glass or hooks. (Still, wear your shoes in the river, kids.)


There was a child on the rope when we snapped this shot. Kind of looks like the Kraken is emerging, there, though, doesn't it? Or diving. I promise it wasn't as creepy as it reads. Someone (either James or I) is slow on the trigger, and I have quite a few pictures very much like this - swaying rope, no child, churning water. We left with the same number of children we arrived with, however, and that wrapped up the first year of hiking group with a stellar record of no lost children and no ER visits directly related to the hikes!


Today, mid-way through what has turned out to be a particularly grueling week, I've found myself trying to figure out when we can slip away for another morning's play before the weather turns cool again. Just... one more... please? I'd bet the kids are up for it. We just have to convince the schedule to give a little.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

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!
~Dy

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

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:

I BURNT SOMEONE ELSE'S CHILD!

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!
~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

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!
~Dy

Tuesday, July 1

It's so hot

I'd promised Jacob I would bike with him to the post office today to pick up our local paper, as he's anxious to make sure we don't miss the 4th of July festivities on the courthouse square. Actually, I'd promised to do it yesterday, but by the time we finished picking blackberries, it was 97 degrees with 70-someodd percent humidity, and we were ready to eat blackberries and lay over the air vents. So we did.


This morning, the ride was on. I'm not convinced it was an improvement, though. Lord, it's hot. But he got his paper, and we got out there and moved. 3 miles! Woohoo!


(Why doesn't he look sweaty there? He was - we both were. It was hot. But it was fun.) Then he somehow convinced James to do it again (this time to the corner store) this afternoon. By the time James and I returned from a meeting tonight, Jacob was out cold. I guess it was a good day.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, June 8

Starting to Feel It...

The heat, that is. It's been a wet, wet Spring, and that means 85 degrees feels significantly less do-able than 70 did. Stepping outside feels like a sort of sauna-meets-obstacle-course. Which is fine if you have athletic ability and... gills. For mere mortals, however, it's a little tricky.


Not stopping us, though!

This weekend was the annual Howard Hill Southern Traditional Archery Tournament. (This is commonly shortened to the "Howard Hill Shoot", and for the purposes of this post will be, "the shoot".) This shoot has been a dream of Z's for years. Back when we lived in the desert Southwest, it was one of those Someday things - too far away to be plausible for two broke kids, but cool enough to merit a standing spot on the list anyway. But now? Now we're less than two hours away from it!


And we all have bows again! So, of course we had to go! Ward came, and some other friends came. It was hot. It was humid. The sun shone, and the atmosphere was fun. The boys shot,



and shot...


Em and Jase hung in there for the whole trail (thank you, hiking group!),


...and I have clearly not lost the ability to laugh at myself.


Z was in his happy spot. It was a good day in our little world.

Oh! We got to see Byron Ferguson in action! AND we got to meet G. Fred Asbell! (If you're into traditional archery at all, you know why this is cool. If you're not, it's the equivalent of Classical homeschoolers getting to watch Andrew Kern lead a socratic discussion *and* visit with Martin Cothran. Very cool.) And, just like every time I get to see Kern and Cothran, I walked off yesterday in a happy haze without getting any pictures. But it happened. And it was awesome. Everyone's got next year's shoot penciled in.

Because of the rain, we didn't go down Friday, and had a spare day on our hands. The Huntsville and Madison Anime Convention (HAMACON) opened, so I took those who like it enough to spend their own money on admission, and we spent a surprisingly fun day at the convention center. Parent Passes are free, too! That was a pleasant bonus.


There was some incredible art, neat activities, special panels and discussions. There were also regular showings of interesting (either new, or particularly noteworthy, or unique) anime. The gentleman running the projector took the time to give introductions, insights, and some Q&A for the audience. We had fun. Nerdy, nerdy fun.


And, we got a cat. His name is Homer, in honor of the Homer Ball. He came home with the boys after a hike on Z's birthday.  (Z has never wanted a cat. Hence, the name.)


I think he's comfortable here.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy