Showing posts with label on the road. Show all posts
Showing posts with label on the road. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 26

What A Ridiculously Long Month

I got home Sunday evening. It was wonderful to be home! I think the family actually missed me. Jase got up bright and early Monday to begin sharing with me every random thought he's had the last month. I think he saved them up, because they came hot and fast that morning. Em keeps hugging me Just Because. Z keeps smiling and saying, "I'm glad you're home."

The biggest indicator, however, seems to be the number of things they don't know the schedule for. When is the movie shoot? When does ballet start back? Are we taking Burritt classes this year? Can I do dual enrollment? Can we build a rocket? When are we going to the water park? I spent Monday finding answers more concrete than "soon" and planning the school year so we can begin it.

The concrete on the front porch has been repainted. The basement stairwell is textured and painted. Both are so lovely! I'd hoped to come home to boxes, but no boxes so far. That worked out well in the end, though, as I needed to pull out this year's books and set them aside. Today, perhaps, boxes.

I have so much appreciation for how they all worked together to take up the slack that my absence caused! Other than expressing it verbally, I've tapped into my joy at having this home, this family, this life, and I will remember to share that joy with them, as well. This month away was long, but it was a mental and spiritual sabbatical during which I had the room to breathe, to think, to align my priorities with my goals. This is some exciting stuff!

Other than the weather (it is July in the South), it is so good to be home!

Be Encouraged!
~ Dy

Wednesday, March 8

Kentucky is Beautiful and Life is Weird

So, John and I are in Kentucky to visit the University of Kentucky. Since it's a full day's drive and the tour starts before we usually even get around to making breakfast, we decided to come up the day before and spend the night. The little bohemian in my head started chanting, "Road trip! Road trip!" It is so beautiful here. Wow! Go, Kentucky!

He, however, was not so keen. Turns out, he doesn't have a little bohemian in his head. He has a homebody and someone who bakes... a comedian, and a pretty competent first responder. And that's about it. I don't get it, but he's happy, so I don't have to get it. He is also a very good sport, and he agreed to stop at the Hidden River Cave for a tour and some rappelling yesterday. So that was cool.

We were about three hours into our drive when he told me that he's actually pretty committed to going to one college, in particular. He'd only agreed to come on this because he has made the reservation before he'd toured the other one. By the time he'd made his decision, it was too late to cancel with any decency, and he didn't want to just be a no-show.

Thus begins, and ends, our Spring College Tour of '17. *moment of silence*

Jacob's already making noise about the Naval Academy. So, probably not gonna get a lot of travel time out of that one, either.

If this keeps up, I may just drag the Littles to see every school on every continent. I've been looking forward to week-long road trips with fledgling kids ever since I learned that was A Thing. I pictured unplanned segues into neat little shops, eating at small diners, walking the streets of cities we hadn't seen before. I envisioned mad dashes to get from one place to another because this next one might just be The One. I hadn't honestly expected that it wouldn't be Our Thing. So far, it's not. Both of them hit a couple mandatory tours that I'd set up to help them get a feel for it, then promptly poked around, picked the school they wanted, and said, "Found it." Done. (None were on the Mandatory Tours list, so at least I know they weren't just picking something to shut me up. That's good.)

Yet another reminder that it's all OK - however it shakes down, whatever it looks like, it is all OK. Also, it's about them. Enjoy them. Let them lead. Follow where they want to explore. If you can get a road trip out of it, savor it. If not, enjoy hanging out at home. Whatever works, works. And that's good stuff.

We're off to breakfast at the hotel. Checked the weather, and it doesn't look like we'll need to stop for rain jackets, so we're set for the day!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Friday, February 24


Last night, when the boys returned from class, James said, "Wow. Now I understand how hard what you do really is."

I truly appreciated that. He wasn't talking about the teaching, planning, guiding, or feeding aspects, but that's OK. Because what's really killing me this semester is Thursday's driving.

Z and I have a car sharing arrangement that allows whoever is driving more miles to take the most fuel efficient vehicle. So, two days a week I get his commuter car. (We're not quite where we can sell the Suburban, but we are very, very close.) It's a great arrangement and it's run smoothly for the most part. Yesterday, however, on his way out the door, James snagged the keychain with the one and only key to Z's car. I didn't realize it when he grabbed the keys, because we keep all the keys on the same shelf. We have copies of most keys, and he just didn't think about it being an issue.

But when the rest of us got ready to head out to run errands, hit the book store, get shoes, and head to class (all things I'd planned because Jacob had opted to skip ballroom to buy us an extra two hours), I couldn't find the key (obviously, with it not being home). Eventually, I called James to ask where he'd set it when he'd gotten in the previous night. (This is the one time I hated that he's so good about putting his phone on vibrate while he's in class. I had to keep calling and just hope it was in his pants pocket.)

"Well, I have one here, in my pocket."

"That's the only one. I need it!"

So, bless him, James drove up from Ballroom to bring me the key. And I tasked him with getting Jacob to ballet so I could take the Littles straight to sign language because the delay had made it likely that no one would get to the right place in time if I had to do both (there is no time to detour to the house, really, and we hit rush hour traffic). He did (because he's awesome). And then he had to drive back down for class, and to pick up his brother who'd waited for him at a coffee shop, then drive home. When he got home, he'd logged 192 miles. Or, as we like to call it, A Full Thursday.

He was beat. I sympathized and suggested a hot cup of tea and an early lights out. He probably slept like the dead.

And as much as I hated for him to have to run the gauntlet of a Thursday, I'm actually glad he did it. It's good for him to understand that sometimes the schedule is a high wire act and we all have to do our parts in order for us not to keep falling off the wire and having to scramble across the net, back up the ladder, and out onto the wire again. But it was also very good for him to have first-hand experience of the way you scramble across the net, back up the ladder, and out onto the wire again. Ta-da! It can be done. And it's OK.

I mean, I wouldn't ever shove a kid off a bike just so they could learn to get back on, but it is good to fall off and see that it's not the end of the world. I guess we'll just call those the happy accidents in life. (One more, and then I'll stop. Promise.) Things come apart at the seams and you learn how to use double-sided tape or a stapler to keep it together until you can get home and redo the seams, right?

As a parent, it was a huge win, if only because I didn't yell (well, outside my head). It was an accident. It wasn't malicious or indicative of any massive character failing. It was just a goof up, and although it made SO many things hard for the rest of the day, it didn't do an actual harm. Plus, the Littles got to class on time, and that was fantastic for them.

Happy accidents, none on the actual highway. I'm a happy camper. And today, we get a spare key made for Z's commuter car...

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, January 29

We Cannot Do Everything

That sounds so trite. I know. But here it is, Sunday, and I'll tell you, I am dragging. Dragging more than the schedule would indicate makes sense. But I think maybe I've reached the limit of my contortions and we're going to have to scale something back. (As I write that, I am reminded that I have a meeting Wednesday to see if I can help with the back end of a project coming up... hmm... probably should have written this post last week. Someone get me a Time-Turner! Or a virtual assistant!)

James and I headed out of town yesterday for a photo shoot. That was a fantastic experience. Not just the shoot, but the whole road trip. I so enjoy spending time with him, and when we're on the road (and nobody's doing Zombie Rainbow Dash impressions in the second row, so it's quiet), we have time to just talk. Laugh. Ponder. He's a neat young man, and I'm glad to know him.

This afternoon, the boys went to their Godparents' with Z to split and stack wood for the house. I love that when we mentioned the need, they all said, "When do you wanna go?" This wasn't on my radar when I was pregnant with any of them, but if I'd thought about it, it's one of the traits I'd have prayed for for each one. Lord, make them generous in spirit and willing to work. ( Now, I pray, "Lord, thank you for thinking of that when I was too young and scared to think beyond, 'Please let them be OK'!")

When the rest of us got home, I turned the Littles loose to play video games for a bit and I worked on the menu, the lesson plans, social media, work, and chatting with a cousin. That was lovely. No clue how to make our weeks less draining yet, but hopefully inspiration will strike soon. If not, there are a few episodes of Doc Martin left, and I have fuzzy socks!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Friday, July 8

Well, that was awesome. And I need to work on my geography.

We ran away. Just piled the kids in the car, hired the Most Wonderful Housesitter in the World to stand in for us, and took off to Colorado for a week. If you can swing it, I highly recommend it.

Having two additional drivers made the trip a total breeze. They are expensive to insure, thanks to the unpredictability of that Y chromosome, and they are expensive to feed, thanks to... well, I'm not sure what's going on, there, but it's costly. But boy, are they worth it on a road trip!

We've made the drive Out West many times over the last 12 years, so I didn't really plan the route or make reservations (like I do that on a first-run? whatever. anyway. This is probably why Z doesn't like it when I travel while he's gone*.) We loaded up, I asked them to fire up the navigator and off we went. I didn't actually look at the navigator, and we leave it muted. In hindsight, this is tantamount to drugging your map reader and making him ride in the back seat blindfolded. At any rate, it didn't dawn on me that we might be taking a different route when we went through Nashville instead of Memphis. Or rather, I figured there was road work, or a giant accident, maybe even an alien landing, that may have re-routed us. When we hit Kentucky, though, and Jacob announced, "I've never been to Kentucky!" I realized we were on foreign ground for getting from Here to There. And I was not entirely certain how or why we were there.

Then we hit Illinois. And I know that I took geography, and did rather well in it, but in my head, Illinois has Chicago (which it does, but not the way my brain interprets that information), and that meant we were very near the Great Lakes (no, we weren't), which, based on what I had decided was a rapidly deteriorating grasp of geography, was probably not the fastest way to get to Colorado from Alabama...

But we were on a road trip, so what the heck. We'll trust Google. Either it'll pan out, or we'll be seeing Mt. Rushmore around lunchtime tomorrow, right?

Missouri came next (as it is wont to do, if you're traveling West through Southern Illinois, but I made a mental note to spend more time on North American geography with the Littles, at least. It's too late for the older ones, who also vaguely suspected we had just veered way north, then way south, and where were we going, anyhow? I promised to drop a few bucks into their therapy jar when we returned home).

It was at this point that I had to pull over and see just WHERE we were, and how we were going to get where we wanted to go. From the looks of it, Kansas was next (that was another total surprise - I've been to nearly every state in the Continental US and have somehow never actually been in Kansas. I think). And it's about an hour and a half shorter than the route we usually take (score one for the creepy-yet-effective Google algorhithms!) So on we went.

If I had planned ahead, or even looked at the map beforehand, we could have seen friends on the way. Actually, now that I realize they don't live eight days' travel by boxcar from our place, we may be able to see them more often.

Texts with Z were fun.

"How's it?"

"Good. Just stopped at the weirdest gas station I think I've ever seen. Heading your way, now."

"What was it?"

"Bernie's. If they weren't so far out in the middle of nowhere, I'm prety sure they'd have to answer for some severe copyright violations. The logo looks like The Walking Dead hit the Weekend at Bernie's set and did some damage."

"...where are you?"


"Why are you in Kansas?"

"I have no idea. But we'll be there tonight! Gotta go, John's driving."

Probably didn't do a lot to make him more comfortable with the idea of me dragging the children on road trips without him. I see that, now. Maybe I'll do better next time. Probably not. We had a lot of fun! And we made it safely to Colorado, where we spent a wonderful week exploring, hiking, trying to think of ways to convince Z that we should all move into a small apartment above a store in Manitou Springs...

*Note: his reluctance to embrace me road tripping without him has nothing to do with my capabilities or lack thereof (hey, we made it in one piece, in record time). It has to do with the idea of everything he values most in this world hurtling across the planet in a metal box, surrounded by potential psychopaths and texting drivers while he is far, far away and unable to do anything about any of it. And maybe a little bit of my refusal to learn to make an itinerary. But mostly it's just the "I love you, please be safe, why don't you wait and we'll all go to Florida together when I get back" kind of thing. It's sweet. I appreciate it, even if I don't always show it.

And now, we are home.

Be encouraged!

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!

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!

Tuesday, April 29

Busy Days!

The kids asked for a day at home, since we've had one in the last ten days, but that was for re-packing gear and doing laundry. Not quite the same.

After the storms that ripped through here last night, I think they'll get their wish today. We weathered it just fine, but not everyone did, so as the reports come in, we're looking for opportunities to help and pay forward all the generous care we've received in the past. If you don't mind saying a prayer for the Southeastern US this morning, that would be much appreciated.

James spent a fantastic week in New Mexico, eating, learning, experiencing, and doing.  He ate a lot of new food (mostly Vietnamese and Indian, I think), which thrilled his food-curious heart no end. He Skyped with us on Easter Sunday so Em could show him her dress, and Z and I could put eyes on him in real time. It was a chance to see the tangible benefits of hard work and self-discipline, and to walk away with more knowledge and insight than he arrived with. That's hard to pass up. His team won an award for Creativity and Innovation in Design: they each received a plaque and $50.  We picked up a very happy camper the following week.

Meanwhile, we had a quietly busy week while James was gone. (I spent a lot of time standing in parking lots, waiting for him to come around the back of the Suburban, then realizing he wasn't actually in the parking lot with us. The kids thought that was hilarious.) We went to the annual Earth Day movie (it was Bears this year, and absolutely fantastic) with friends, then shuttled over to the Teen Game Day for a visit and some fun.

The rest of the weekend was taken up with projects - for me, mainly the quarterly changing of the seasonal clothing and updating of the sizes. I realized I have a lot of things in the basement we can pass along, now. They're too small for Em or Jase. Some of them were rather large sizes, to my way of thinking, for me not to have a child wearing them. Things are about to get weird, I suspect. Easter was a lovely day of joyful celebration with church family and local friends. Then I took the kids camping.

We slipped out to DeSoto State Park to enjoy a little camping and exploring. We scampered around Cherokee Rock Village in the fog (fantastic for kids, a wee bit terrifying for mothers), hiked and hiked all over the place, and played at DeSoto Falls (something I've been dying to do for the last five years! It was worth the wait!)

John and Jacob absolutely rock the camp set up action. Em and Jase have found their groove, and they're more help than not at this stage. It could not have gone more smoothly, or been more fun. Even John mentioned that the loading and setting up seemed "freakishly easy". He was worried we'd forgotten something, or left someone. I told him I know the feeling. We did a head count and called it good.
James flew back in on Wednesday as we headed out from DeSoto, and everyone arrived home covered in road grime, exhausted, and happy.

We had Thursday to re-pack, wash clothes, catch up, and rest, for Friday we headed out to the Camporee. That was a truly amazing experience. I sat in with the Rocking Chair Patrol (the adult leaders). Seldom saw the kids except when we ambled over to take pictures. The boys' Troop hosted the Camporee, and these boys were on fire. They were busy and engaged the whole time. They handled everything from administration to direction. They were gracious and encouraging. I think my favorite tidbit of feedback came from one Scout who came panting up to the check-in desk after the Orienteering course and exhaled, "That was hilariously awesome!" Well, that's hard to beat, isn't it?

We slipped out after the camp fire on Saturday night so we could be ready for Sunday's adventure... which requires a post all its own.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 1

Upending All The Things

So. Here we are, huh?

A while back, Zorak and I talked about whether this is where we want to stay. He's aching to go back out West. I'm pretty good with whatever we do. The biggest thing for me is that we're together, and we're in it together. Because things can get weird if everyone isn't on the same page.

So we began the search, keeping it fairly quiet for the most part. He had an interview back in January, and although it fell through, it cemented our General Plans. If you read back very far on this blog, you'll see we're well-versed in how quickly Plans can change, but as general sort of positioning thing, "We're trying to move back out West" is a pretty good overview. He also outed the plan online, so then the cat was out of the bag. And, now that I can talk about it, blogging should come significantly easier!

We just returned from a trip to New Mexico. This was a nice visit, but the occasion was somewhat dampened by the purpose. Z's Granny passed away earlier this year. This March would have been her 99th birthday. In keeping with her wishes and the way she lived her life, there was no traditional funeral. Instead, the family gathered for a celebration of her life as they laid her to rest in the New Mexico Springtime Wind. Everyone shared stories of playing Scrabble with her (even when she was mostly blind, she could beat the pants off anyone who sat down to play), Granny's open door policy (door's always open, there's a pot of something on the stove), and memories of growing up on a sheep ranch (nobody knew what lamb tasted like, but they sure knew how to make the most of the old ewes). They had a pot luck with people from all over the place, and an Easter egg hunt for the next generation of children to start building their memories of the old homestead. And then, there was a dance. Granny made it clear she wanted a good band to play at the dance, and her heirs did just that. It was a lovely way to remember a lovely woman, and although she is certainly missed by those whose lives she touched, there's a lot of her still milling about in the 70+ grandchildren and great-grandchildren she left behind.

On our trip, we also got to visit the Bob Wills Museum with the kids' Granny (Z's Mom), play in the Brazos river with friends, and stay up way too late visiting and laughing. All things we love, and they remind us that we're just too far away right now.

But we came home to tulips and redbuds in bloom! And rain! So pretty. It was the morning after we returned before I stopped saying, "Oh, look! We got rain!" and realized... we always get rain here. It's still beautiful, though. Everything's coming in green and vibrant.

In the meantime, we're finishing up a few little projects here and there so the house will be ready to list when Z finds the right job. We're plugging along with Scouting and music and trips to museums as we try to keep everything as normal as possible. The kids are good sports about it. James and John remember living elsewhere, and they trust that we aren't going to drag them off to a miserable existence. Different, maybe, but still good. Jacob knows vaguely that he's lived elsewhere, but pretty much relies on his brothers to assure him that it'll be okay. EmBaby and Jase are fairly overwhelmed with the whole idea and keep asking questions to help them make sense of how moving works. "Will we take the dog?" (Yes.) "Will we take our stove?" (Uh, no.) "Will we get to take our clothes?" (Yes. I never thought about that, but yes, you get to take your clothes.) "Will we take the chickens?" (I'm... *phew* I honestly don't know. I've never moved with chickens, and to be honest I'm kind of hoping we can pitch them as part of the pastoral appeal of the property...) "But what about Tame*?" (:squirms uncomfortably: I, uh, gah. I have no idea! Maybe he'll want to go live with Peter and Elizabeth? Or Me-Wa and Me-Tae? We'll, uh, see... :cringe:)

Kiss those babies!

*(Tame is our "special" chicken. He survived an early dog encounter, and has since become somewhat human-endeared. He would be a house chicken in a heartbeat if I'd let him. He's very content to spend time with people, and has become a bit of a party prop when we have cookouts. It's like having a weird dog.)

Thursday, June 7


Last night, we trekked up to the Scout Camp for Family Night. Basically, it's just a chance to take forgotten items up to the Troop, make sure the Bad Idea Fairy didn't stow away in the footlockers, and see for your own self that your child hasn't spontaneously ignited or started dropping appendages in the woods. But it's fun. And it keeps the Littles from imploding by dividing the week into manageable segments. (It dawned on me last night - er, more accurately, Jacob pointed out - that in two years, all three of the bigger boys will be going to the same camp. I might have hyperventilated a little on the inside, at that.)

John showed us his metal working projects - wrought iron dutch oven lid lifters, and a lantern hanger (which, he pointed out, can double as a back scratcher!) There is some serious joy for that child in working with his hands. He *gets* that materials have ways, and he loves ferreting those ways out, finding the right path to follow to coax a piece of iron, or wood, into the shape he needs to emerge from it.  He was a bit disappointed that they won't let the boys make swords (thank you, BSA guidelines! Good call), but perked right up at the thought that we could build a forge on the property. Turned out that he didn't get into the woodworking course, but he's enjoying Space Exploration and they're launching rockets today that they've been working on this week.

James - He Who Prefers To Stay Indoors If At All Possible - has a full week of Camping, Wilderness Survival, Emergency Preparedness, and Climbing. And he's having a ball. His favorite program this week is the climbing course. He said both the hardest part, and his favorite part (Wha--???) is leaning out over the edge for rappelling. Even with a broken thumb. (More internal hyperventilation. If they ever discover that Mom's "wow, that's fascinating!" face is actually her, "oh, dear heaven, please stop telling me this!" face, it's all over. I'll have to find a new way to cope.) To finish his Camping Merit Badge, we'll have to get out and go camping several times. I'm ridiculously excited about that, as I love camping, but it's easy to punt it to the back of the queue with everything else that needs doing. Now, we'll have an excuse!

EmBaby ran in the woods (oh, the poison oak!) with the boys playing capture the flag, then sat by the campfire soaking up all the Happy. She wants to camp with the boys. And stay there. She offered to sleep between the cots and pointed out hopefully that they could each share a little mosquito netting... come to think of it, she may be more excited about the upcoming camping trips than I am!

The Littles fell prey to the Sandman one at a time as we made our way back down the mountain. Zorak looked over at me and said, "I'm not going to handle the empty nest well, at all. Just a heads up." I nodded, understanding. And yet, they're all such neat people. It's hard to be sad about seeing wee babes grow into amazing youth when I think about the panoramic view that lies ahead for them. I will probably be a teary, snotty mess as they leave, but right now, I'm just so proud of them, and enjoy the people they are. I'm glad to have them in my life, and excited to see where life will take them. There will be great joy in being along for that journey, too, however it may look. But I'm keeping tissues in the pantry, just the same.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, March 27


No roadtrip would be complete without touching base with those Invisible Friends who just can't remain invisible for long. This last trip was no exception. Going through Texas put us in line to see Meredith and her amazing clan of wee ones again. (Some of whom are not so wee anymore, and just about blew my mind with how big and tall and ginormous they've gotten! I know *mine* aren't growing like that... they can't be. *gasp*) But it's all good because she's had another one since the last time we all got together, so Zorak and I alternately hyperventilated over the growing young men and then oohh'd and ahhh'd over the gorgeous, impish little one.

Look at those feet! And those cheeks! Oh, and he is just as sweet as her older ones are. (I have a good one of Meredith and me, too, but that baby is so much cuter than I am. *gush*) And Meredith is really that lovely in person. Inside and out.

We also got to meet with another dear friend who has since moved into the same area. (*squeee!*) She bravely, er... graciously (well, both) hosted the big get-together at her place. And then -- AND THEN (as if I weren't already just wallowing in the total awesomeness of it all) -- another friend trekked down to spend the day, as well.
That's Jami, the hostess of the year, in the red, and Deb - the O'mazing! gypsy traveler (who drives four hours and still looks that good?) in the fantastic swirly grey.

So there we were, the four of us, kibitzing in the kitchen, trying vaguely not to lose anybody in the greenbelt (the children just intermingled, split up, and took off, as kids are wont to do - thankfully, all four families live by the Buddy System, so nobody got lost alone), noshing on some spectacularly delicious food. Just... just... It was just... I don't have words. I just. don't. have. words. It was awesome. The kids are awesome - ALL OF THEM - I could not do them justice in less than 1,000 pages each. Great kids. And these women are awesome. The whole stop was just full of warmth and wit and humor and wisdom. And Zorak totally owned the occasion -- he remembered to get pictures of all the children before they dispersed too randomly!

There were 18 children between the four families, from 13 years old, down to one. Oh, it was beautiful! And not nearly as loud as one might think. But twice as much fun as you could ever hope.

Deb allowed us to follow her home Monday night. We hoped she'd let us stay forever, but those pesky job requirements and mortgage payments called us back. We left bits of our hearts in Texas, though. And a t-shirt, and a pair of boxers...

I guess we'll have to go back!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, November 23

And now, for something completely different...

I know, just when I think I've got time to write, we slip off for a trip to the beach! Sheesh, why don't I own a laptop? Someone needs to talk to Santa about this. I've been shockingly good this year. (Actually, I've been pretty pampered, too. I've got warm slippers and a flattering swimsuit. Not that I wear at the same time, of course, but still... I have them.)

Anyway, we took a gazillion pictures, but it's a little after midnight, and I've just now gotten the last of the sand out of the camera (and then I wonder why it doesn't work properly?) and don't have time to edit them before my eyes start to cross. So, I'll share a few SOOC shots and call it good.

Jason, of course, hit the sand running. And kept running. Straight into the water. And kept running. Didn't even slow down until the water came up over his head. I spent the next three days repeatedly hauling him up out of the water. Me-Wa and Me-Tae will be glad to know, however, we didn't lose him once to gravity, momentum, or dolphins. In all, that's a successful trip!

The water was cold (for those of us who don't live in the Midwest or the Northeast, that is), but did the kids mind? Not one bit. The key, it seems, is to keep moving. Lots of -ing going on: running, jumping, squealing. Plenty of -ing, just none of it tacked on to words like "relax" or "calm". We had a fantastic time. A busy time. (It's so good to be home!)

And that's the end for the night!

Kiss those babies!

Monday, July 27

Campout, Complete

Shiloh Battlegrounds, the site of one of the turning point battles, a scene of horrific bloodshed, and an amazing story in the Civil War. This is where we hiked this weekend. We were fortunate to be able to listen in on a presentation about medicine at the last half of the 19th Century, although I wish we'd had the opportunity to attend more presentations. The Rangers who work there are a wealth of information and history, and do a beautiful job of maintaining that for posterity. I'm still processing much of the visit it in my head, so I won't go on about that. If, however, you ever have a chance to visit, please do so. Just, um, not in the summer. Gah. Hot.
Due to some pretty amazing miscalculations and lack of planning (thankfully, not on my part, this time! Woohoo!) we were only able to complete one hike. The terrain is easily accessible, but you must bring your own broad-shouldered man to carry you, if you so choose.

Or, you can arrange a convenient carriage to tote you about, as modeled by The World's Most Patient Baby.

The boys use the Buddy System pretty extensively in Scouts, so it's hard to get shots that don't have at least one other child (that I don't have permission to blog), and my scenic photography this trip was lacking a bit due to the carriage arrangement referenced above. However, it is beautiful, and powerful.

Still, we were all pretty glad to trudge back into camp at the end of the day. (Edited to add: Zorak was tired, not smug, in this photo. I didn't realize until I uploaded it that it might look a bit odd. So, you know, just touching base on that one.)

Just thinking about what it must have been like to march all the way from Indiana or Ohio, only to engage in battle upon arrival, absolutely boggles our pampered minds.

Humbled, thankful, and as always,
Kissing my babies!

Sunday, July 19

Mobile Blogging

Hi! Do I look all small & shiny? I`m blogging from the front porch at the Swamp! (`cuz we have cool friends who name their homes, too.)

But it`s not the Swamp that makes me look different. My guys gots me a preshuss for my birthday. (This is where I`d normally insert a picture or a link, but I haven`t figured out how to use this thing yet & I`m afraid I`d never get back to this page. So go look at the Verizon LG nv3. I`ll wait...)

Pretty cool, huh? Fortunately, it does not allow you to see me while I`m typing this. If you`ve seen Zoolander, though, picture the guys trying to get the files out of the computer. (pause) Yep, that`s it. It`s OK. I`m sure James will show me how it works soon.

I`m going to try to figure out the picture taking bit here next. Will update (or have James do it) later today.

Kiss those babies! (ksthzbbz?)