Showing posts with label littles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label littles. Show all posts

Saturday, May 27

It feels so good to succeed.

(I found this in my drafts folder from 2008. It made me smile. I thought it should see the light of day.)

We all know that it feels good to succeed. We all know the power of praise well-earned. I think we (and by that, I mean "I") fall into the trap of wanting to praise perfection, and feeling exasperated by failures or struggles.

But life is full of failures and struggles. How we handle them is one true measure of success. (And perfection? Just throw that one out the window. It's overrated and stressful. Blech.) It doesn't take much to say simple things that have a strong impact on guiding how they learn to handle the struggles and failures:

I'm proud of you for sticking that one out.

You really put a lot of thought into that, and it shows. Good job.

Wow, you did it! *big smile*

Whew, that one used to be tricky, but it looks like you've mastered it.

Well done.

Slow down, I know you can do it.

It's okay. You gave it a good shot. We can try again tomorrow. How about we do...

You got farther today than you did before. Excellent.

Feels good to tackle a challenge, doesn't it?

And if it doesn't feel good to tackle a challenge? Well, then it's worth looking into why. That'll be different for everyone. I know when I'm not up for tackling a challenge, it's usually due to one of three things: I don't feel like I have the tools to tackle it; I don't have a clear idea of what, exactly, I'm supposed to do with it; I don't feel like I've got somebody in my corner on it. While I haven't done any official studies (and even if I had, I wouldn't be able to cite them because my organizational skills are deplorable), but my guess is that people often fear (or avoid...) taking on a challenge because of something very similar to that list.

The wonderful thing is that we can be a positive resource to eliminating those barriers. If we listen and provide presence and understanding, we can help them free themselves up to tackle the challenge, clear the hurdle, create the metaphor!

Be encouraged! (I added that bit tonight, but it seems appropriate)

~ Dy

Monday, May 1

Wedding Attire and Projects

We've got a wedding this month! I'm so excited for the young couple - they're a great team, and I think they're in for being an unbeatable duo.

That said, now I've got to find something to wear. I tried browsing online for wedding fashion 2017 and it seems this year everyone's wearing slips and hankies. I'm... um... well, now I feel old. Also, I'm starting to understand old ladies and pant suits. Although that's not gonna happen this year, it does at least make a little sense. Give me a few more years and I might be buying celery green shoes and earrings to match my linen slacks. But I'm not ready to go there, yet. So, back to browsing for ideas.

The SpaceAppsChallenge sounds like it was really interesting. The competition was stiff, and the boys enjoyed working in a focused, fast-paced environment. Although their team did not win anything in the high school category, they came away from the experience with some good insight tucked into their belts and some good stories. James kind of wants to keep working on their project and get it working. Might be a fun Summer project.

It's time to get serious about the party planning and Summertime plans! WOOHOO! I'm actually rather excited about that.

Next up, beadboard ceilings? Maybe? The oak caterpillar-like debris has finally abated and the green pollen dust is down, so this might just be the year we get that ceiling in! It sounds like there's competition from the back porch, which also would be lovely. If we could magically get both done by graduation... Ohhh, I won't know what to do with myself other than have more company! Oh, my goodness, what will it be like to live in a finished house? *swoon*

Also, I desperately need a better system for time management. It's been cat herding central here, lately, but they're all large jungle cats and harder to herd than mere bobcats or Siamese. I'm flailing terribly. We clearly need more work and more projects - this tail end of the crew has no idea what it's like to DO things like the older kids did at the same age, and honestly, I don't think it's been for the better. So we're going to fix that. That's one nice thing about Life - if what you're doing isn't working, do something different. Figuring out what to do differently can be a bit of a challenge, but you can try one thing and if that doesn't work, try something else. (It sounds significantly less exhausting in print than it is in real life, I realize that. Still, it's exciting to know we aren't without options.)

And, that's about all I've got this lovely Monday morning. But it's good.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Friday, April 21

Just Like Snow White

Except I'm not cleaning. Or singing.

Jase picked these. No clue what they are, but he had fun putting them in.
But the doors are open, the birds are singing, and it is gorgeous! I could probably whip up some dancing. We're smack in one of my favorite parts of the year - where the days aren't terribly hot, the mornings are still cool and breezy, and the mosquitoes don't come out this early yet.

That cat, however, is not my favorite right now. Several of our screens bear the mark of his wrath (or perhaps general displeasure) and I'm pretty sure the bugs will find those very spots every time we try to open the windows this year.

The Littles (still thinking up a good moniker for them - they've requested something else) and I went to the market yesterday and picked out some plants for the earth boxes. We didn't go in with a plan other than Find Something That Makes You Smile. They did.

Hibiscus! Em was absolutely smitten with the blooms, so we got one that has a ton of buds. I'm guessing it won't be able to live in this box long-term, but it'll be lovely here in the meantime. (We're getting mulch. It's a work in progress.)

Zorak is home today, which means the time-honored plan of Not Doing School. Of course, it's also going to be a day that somewhat violates the spirit of that plan -- they're not going to spend the day "hanging out with Dad", but rather, "working outside with Dad". All time well spent, though, so there is that, right? Plus, they get to sleep in. Nobody really complains. Much.

May is coming! None of us is looking forward to the heat, but the kids are starting to get antsy - finals week at the college is the first week of May, the water park opens the end of May, anatomy class ends in May, kayak weather... more time for hiking... so many good things are coming. They're ready.

I just need to get through this weekend and present a hospitable venue for the cookout. Then I can relax and look forward to the good things, too. If I lose focus between now and Sunday, though, it's likely to turn into a, "Hey, can you help us lug this wood to the bonfire and get the clothes off the line?" party. That wouldn't be fun for anyone.

I hear rustling and ambling. I've camped out near the watering hole (coffee pot) so I'll be sure to catch people as they awake. Time to get my Snow White on and whip this place into inviting shape! (Although, yes, I realize the visual is more reminiscent of Marlon Perkins than Snow White. That's probably a more accurate visualization all the way around, but I don't want to think up a new intro.)

This needs something else, but we're waiting for inspiration. Native, volunteer ferns, though. They look almost intentional!
 Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Saturday, April 15

Headway!

So, we got the doors in and all was well. Then the blinds just conked out in one of the doors. We followed the instructions on how to fix them if they break, but evidently something... else broke. It didn't work. Today, Z called Jeld-Wen to find out what our options are, and they'll be sending someone out to replace the dorked up bit, themselves. Mad love for Jeld-Wen right now, I've gotta say. (Because if they'd said, "Sure, just bring the whole unit back and we'll replace it," I might have cried, cussed, and curled up in a ball. Bless them for not doing that.)

Meanwhile, the boys and I painted the background for the basement wall.


Then, this afternoon, the kids decorated it up. I haven't been down this evening, but just before I headed up to get ready for church, it was looking pretty fun.


We're definitely going to have to raise the bar on the rest of the decor so the whole place doesn't look like a back alley in the midst of a gang war. (The Russian is a nice touch, though. Heh.) Aaannndd, do something about that couch. The wall isn't doing it any favors. So, projects lined up. That'll give us something to do this summer.

All in all, it's been a fun project. The kids all joined in with their own ideas and experiments. Z and I even put a few tidbits on there. They'll enjoy it for a while, and when they're done (or when we need to sell the house), a layer of Kilz and it's a fresh slate.

Tonight, we attended Good Friday service. The service focused on praying through the stations of the cross. I'm thankful for waterproof mascara, humbled by how little I know, and encouraged by how much there is to learn. Also? My youngest children have no concept of how to be still. Just still. Even the shushing brought noise in reply. What on earth? It was like worshiping between Heckle and Jeckle. So. We've gotta work on that. The congregation is great, and nobody shot us the hairy eyeball or anything, but it's just not good for your spirit if you can't hush up and just contemplate once in a while!

This is the last weekend to prep the house before the cookout for the models and photographers next week. I'm a little nervous, wondering what we were thinking - there's no way this place is going to be Lovely by then - but it is Better, and that's a good thing. Fortunately, the bulk of hospitality is creating a space where guests feel welcome and at ease. I think we don't stink at that, at least. So although, as I told a friend this morning, we aren't good at Martha Stewart style hospitality, we'll play to our strengths and feed them well.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Friday, April 7

It's Showtime!

Months of preparation, daily rehearsals, so much sweat in one room... And now, it' time!

Huntsville Ballet Company is presenting its Spring Repertory Mix performance this weekend. They will have special guests from Ballet Chicago performing George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes Pas de Deux, as well as Huntsville Ballet Company's performance of Billy the Kid, and a special presentation - for the first time in Huntsville - of Balanchine's choreography of Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.



I'm going for one of the Gunslingers in Billy the Kid, but he assures me that the rest of the performance is going to be OMAZING and totally worth it. (Picture his eyes going wide, there.) From what I've seen in rehearsals, he's not wrong.

If you're in North Alabama this weekend, and are looking for something delightful to do, come with us! You can get more information and tickets here.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Thursday, April 6

*poof* It's Thursday

I got a weekly map drawn, but didn't get around to re-configuring anything. That's crazy, and I can't even blame the Instant Gratification Monkey. Perhaps later... maybe.

Adventure Thursday is out today. We've got storms and rain and scary winds. It makes more sense to stay home and watch the tips of the pine trees sway. Philosophically, I love to see them - they are comforting and remind me that we must bend in the storms so we don't break. Pragmatically, I am always thankful I'm not a tree stand hunter (or a ship's boy in the 18th Century British Navy, stuck in the crow's nest). Yes, that's a bit specific, but it makes my knees hurt just thinking about being up there when they're swaying back and forth. So, all in all, much to be thankful for as we watch the trees do their thing.

Jacob's first on stage experience is coming up this weekend. Rehearsals are running full tilt, even among the storms. I appreciate the dedication of the Company, and also that the school itself will cancel classes when the weather's nasty. It did crack me up, though, to get the alert that classes were canceled but rehearsals were still on. The work they're putting in shows, though, and they look amazing. I can't wait to see the performance! I also look forward to having the days between classes back, but that's the mother-chauffeur-chef-and-chief-bottle-washer in me talking.

All in all, things are going well, here. I've lost my train of thought. Jase, of course, got up and started talking a million miles a minute as soon as I started typing. Want to hear about a trap door in Minecraft? I've got a 9yo who will tell you all about it! You don't even have to ask.

So it's taken me an hour to write this, because it's important to stop and listen. It's also important to be still and stop talking occasionally. (I remember my mother sighing and smiling weakly as I bounded down the stairs at five in the morning to sit with her at the table and have coffee - it never dawned on me that she got up that early to have some time to herself. She never said a word. I wish she would have, though.) We're working on balance, on mutual respect for space and time. But I know also that sometimes you just wake up with all the words stored up in your head and have to get them out to make room for your day.

I'll write again when they're in bed and I can make room in my own head.

Be encouraged!
~Dy

Sunday, January 15

Whoa, that's crazy!

We're down to only two for the weekend. One of the Bigs is at a youth conference with a friend and the other two are somewhere in a WMA in Tennessee. It's so quiet. It's also not nearly as weird and confusing having two *now* as it was when we only had the first two. Experience helps so much!

We're going to go see the cranes and hang out with friends.

And do a week's worth of laundry. (The pump on the washer went out last week, and although the service and pricing at RepairClinic.com was fantastic, as usual, the shipping took its sweet time. It was weird and uncharacteristic of them. But on the up side, we had a substitute mail carrier, so he actually delivered it the day it came in instead of just pre-emptively popping a "sorry we missed you" note into the mailbox like our regular carrier does. That means we got it yesterday and got a head start on it! Woop-woop! Even re-treading clothes, we crank out a lot of laundry, and it was getting gnarly in here.)

Between loads, we'll get the property tidied a bit, since it's going to be 71 degrees today. Tick abatement doesn't wait for Spring around here! In the words of my favorite Auror, "Constant vigilance!"

Be encouraged!

~Dy






Sunday, January 8

The Things You Miss

Aside from one child's era of tying things in knots, I've generally loved the weirdness that comes with having children in the house. This latest bit cracks me up...


A friend described it as a hipster plush party! LOVE IT! Everybody should have a party in the hallway. At least once.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, January 4

Beauty in Life

I've said so many times that God gave us Em because we needed to be reminded that life can (and ought to be) beautiful as well as functional. We can do functional 'til the cows come home, but sometimes it's ugly. She corrects that.

For Christmas, Em had asked for Perler Beads. If you don't have an 8-12yo child in your life, you're probably missing out. They're small, like little pony beads - they have sharp edges like Legos - and they roll like airsoft BBs. So, basically, when I saw that item on her wish list, I immediately scanned for something more reasonable, like a pony or a Disney cruise where you never meet anyone in character costume. Nope. No luck there. The rest of her list was so simple - a sharpie of her own, a soft blanket to replace her gnarly, unsalvageable one... Really, it was a shockingly sane wish list. So, Perler Beads it is!

Recently, I lost my Pampered Chef brown scraper. Since we use nothing but cast iron, and occasionally enameled cast iron, this is A Problem. But I can't find it. It's probably in the upper meadow, and there's probably a perfectly good explanation why, but none of us has any ideas.

And so, one evening, when I started to clean the kitchen, I found this waiting for me at the sink...



She gets functional. But she sees that there should be beauty, as well.

Viewed sensitively and with love; the world blossoms in beauty." ~Kristian Goldmund Aumann

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Monday, December 19

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!
~Dy

Sunday, October 4

The weather has cooled off so nicely, and we don't have any of our cold weather clothing out! Also, I realized the other day, when the high was 65 degrees, that we don't really understand "cold weather" anymore. We were freezing! (It was wonderful.)

We saw the strangest thing at dance last week: the Mayberry PD car. Or, maybe not the, but a (although... how many of these are there?) At any rate, I thought it was neat and made the Littles go stand in front of the door for a picture. The Bigs would have understood how cool it was, but they were off being responsible. The Littles let me know they thought it was awkward, and potentially inappropriate, to approach someone else's vehicle and take pictures. 


When we do groceries, we try to find something new to try. We've always done this, and it's just sort of our thing, now. (When the boys were small, it was more a clever means to avoid the impulse buys at checkout - nobody thought to whine over a candy bar when he was holding his very own pineapple or ugly fruit or whatever delight he'd found in produce. Now, it's habit.) This week, Jase and Em found a beautiful, colorful, enticing vat of assorted licorice candies at Sprouts! They smelled horrible, but we had stuck to the list and we hadn't grabbed anything unique, so we thought this would be something fun to try. It was fun, but they tasted about as good as they smelled. I think James got them all -- he's the only one who found anything positive to say about them. The rest of us just took a snapshot and called it good.


And back to schooling. Or not. While the Bigs worked on portfolios and chemistry research, I found the Littles camped out in the den, playing a game they'd created. They were still hashing out the rules, but paused so I could snap a pic for Z. Sometimes, a little reminder of why we're doing what we do goes a long way toward getting us through another long day.


This has been low immunity week for me. I'm covered in bruises, a little tired, and more than a little irritable. Thankfully, it's short-lived. In the meantime, life! School, reading, playing, dancing, hiking. Not nearly enough napping. We should remedy that. But the rest? It's good. Even when it's a little awkward, or gross, or not really what we ought to be doing at all, it's good. I'm glad for that.

Be encouraged~
Dy

Saturday, September 12

Saturday Doings

The boys collected donations this morning to send BSA popcorn to the troops overseas. Now John's nerding with his People. James is doing the school work he couldn't get done during the week, and JakeRabbit is wandering about, pretending to be looking for his copy of Ivanhoe... Z put up the brick molding on the new door. I used the time in town without children to pick up some much needed garments (also decided I need to drop a good 30 pounds and spend all the grocery money on Target's fall line - PONCHOS, people! They have ponchos! ~swoon~), ran laundry, and got in some work.

The Littles played video games until Em wandered in to lie on the couch and stare pitifully at anyone who wandered by as she whispered, "I'm hungry..." (This is a clear case of Video Game Head. There was bacon, pancakes, and nut butter all within arm's reach. She didn't have to languish on the couch. But I'm convinced video games turn my otherwise intelligent children into garden slugs.)

Every few minutes, people switch it up. JakeRabbit runs a load of wash and then plays Modern Warfare 3 with Z. We check with James to see how his Japanese is coming along and he is reminded that he's not, in fact, supposed to be playing TeamFortress2, but is supposed to be doing the work he didn't get done during the week. (This is always a surprise to him, based on the "Oh," he utters when we check.) Jase is loving the goat simulator on his brother's tablet, insisting I watch as his penguin self slides about, or his goat version licks random passersby. It's a gross looking game, but I'll probably see about getting it on my tablet because sometimes you just want to be a giraffe on a trampoline. I'm a little concerned about starving to death, though, since I doubt Video Game Head is limited to just children... But first, some reading and a snack.

The weather is gorgeous. Fall is coming! Tonight's low is in the high 40's, which means if it doesn't rain, there will be coffee on the balcony in the morning! These weekends are perhaps my favorite in the cycle of days. They are quietly busy, relaxed and pleasant.

Be encouraged ~
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






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

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

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

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

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

The End of the Year

Well, not our year, but the year-in-general. Co-ops are wrapping up, SAT tests are everywhere, and just about everyone I know has that weathered, exhausted look in their eyes that says, "Is it time to play yet?"

The weather was perfect for our hike today. The teens covered about 4.5 miles, and you could hear them laughing from a quarter mile away. Jase and I ambled about in the back, holding hands and looking for interesting things. He was in a bit of a mood at the start, but seeing turtles and snakes and dragonflies up close does wonders for the soul. On one log, we saw a snapping turtle and a red-eared slider. Jase wondered what they eat, and I said we should find out. He smiled up and me and said, "You should ask Google." So I did. Turns out, they eat everything. And now we know! Thanks, Google!

Sadly, by the time we got to Skate Day, he was tired and hot and just plain out of energy. It's hard to learn many things at once.


Our local homeschool social group breaks from official meetings and regularly scheduled events for the Summer. Today was the last of the Skate Days until the Autumn. Of course, we're all going swimming later in the month, and there are still field trips on the docket, so the kids didn't have that End of Year feeling that I remember from the last days of school. Mostly, they were stoked about the glo-skate. (30 minutes in the dark with black lights and fog! On wheels! I usually just stay in the snack area, not looking, and assume if someone gets hurt, they'll let me know. Otherwise, I'd probably cause a wreck with all my gasping and yelling, "Watch out!" It's better this way.)

Glow sticks are always fun! (For Jacob, everything's fun. Although when he saw this photo, he asked when I'd taken it, and what on earth he'd been doing. "Ohhhhh! Yeah, I was showing you my glow sticks!" Admittedly, I should have turned off the flash.)



Our little town Celebration is coming up, and we're ready to enjoy some local food and fireworks! What are you up to this weekend? I hope it's a great adventure.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy