Sunday, May 31, 2009


What a great weekend.

Friday, Gina and kids came over and we watched Hugh Jackman sing and dance his way through the musical Oklahoma. Saturday we worked our collective hineys off combining the ex goat pen and the dog pen into one big area with a gate on both ends, so we can still walk around the house.

Bobby came out Saturday night and we watched The Day the Earth Stood Still. By the end of the movie, I was ready to toss that kid to the nano-cloud.

Today we got up and headed out, saw a couple covered bridges, had lunch and ended up at Turkey Creek outside of Pinson. That was so much fun! We floated down the creek and over the big falls at the end, then relocated to another point to swim and play in the water a while. The weather was perfect-sun hot, water cold.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wontin' and Gettin'

Taking a 13 year old boy to get a hair cut can actually be one of those experiences you look back on in the future and wonder if it was all worth it. I mean, the hair will be right back in his eyes because in this period of time for him, EVERYTHING grows at an alarming rate and most of it smells a little off if it's been more than an hour since their last shower.

I had him scrub his head first thing yesterday when we woke up and while he was in the shower, I made an appointment to have his hair cut. We headed down to the shop, him glaring and growling from under his fringe, me humming along with the radio. When we got there, I said, "If you will be a good boy and sit still while the nice lady trims your hair, I will get you ice cream." He snarled and made some guttural noises.

We walked in and she took one look at his wild, still-dampened locks streaming in all directions, winced and said, "Are you wontin' a hair cut, or are you gettin' a hair cut?"

I think that is about the best way to sum up life in general, not just giant little skulking boys who once had shiny brown eyes. I know he had eyes at one point, because you have a picture of them. Sometimes you get it, whether you wanted it or not. And sometimes you don't get it, no matter how much you wanted it. Wanting and getting. Or, if you live in rural Alabama, wontin' and gettin'.

After the trim-she was very kind and clucked and fussed and was easy with the comb-I was once again reunited with the shiny brown eyes I had been missing. They were full of spit and vinegar, but 13 and 3 are nearly identical phases, I knew he would be distracted by something else soon enough-especially now that he could see again.

I paid the $10 and thanked the lady, looked back at the tumble and fall of the 6 inches of his hair now littering the chair and floor. There was a quick hitch in my breath, I am often just behind myself in reactions, I do-then think. It wasn't the cutting his hair, it was the leaving it behind to be swept up and discarded. It was a piece of my child to me, a mess to be swept up to her.

A few months back, we came home with a van full of abandoned kittens we had found out geocaching. We placed what we could, kept one and after much thought, decided to take the last 2 to the pound. I researched and found a local animal shelter that had an 90% success rate in placing pets. It helped if they were young, attractive and healthy. We had adopted through their program twice and send a small donation in on each of the dogs' adoption day every year. We have also helped foster dogs for them in the past.

We took them in one afternoon to drop off and were told we could not drop them there because we did not reside in that county. Our county animal shelter has a 40% success rate. I sobbed all the way home. We could not find a home for them-I had tried for 2 months-we could not afford to keep them, Matt's job was secure, but his take home for the year was cut 20% to keep it that way. There has not been extra money in months.

Finally, a friend who lives in that county said she did not mind running them in and we arranged it, dropped them off and I headed home very happy about the way things had turned out. She called on the way to take them to the shelter and asked a couple questions, their age and sex and so on, so she could better pull off them being 'her' cats. In the background, her daughter asked something and she told her, "We don't need to know their names."

After I hung up, I cried a long time. Their names were River and Simon, they were sibling cats. What had I done? Now no one would ever know their real names, they would not be adopted out together, River in particular was the most beautiful cat I had ever seen and we kept Tuesday Jane, the plain orange tabby who was not regal at all, she laid with her back legs splayed all over the place and had a rusty purr and big wide eyes on a wide, flat face. Was she even really a cat? She could have been some alien posing as a cat and now I was stuck with her.

Then Ben came in and scooped her up, telling her she was his friend cat and they went outside to play with a stick and some string.

And I realize now, it's just another case of wontin' and gettin'. We saved those kittens back in November and they did not freeze to death or get run over. They got fed, got homes-the 2 animal shelter drop-offs were adopted, but not together. And we have 4 other rescue cats already. I wanted to keep them all, we got to keep one. I wanted the pretty one, we got to keep the one Ben loved.

At some point, it becomes what you can realistically do. You let go of this to make room for that. Possessions, people, family, animals and even emotions.

And Jake managed to let go of being pissed about his shearing almost as soon as he got back in the van. He sat down, buckled up, looked at me and said, "I want my ice cream."

He got what he wanted.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Making it up as you go along...

We have an active vocabulary of our own made-up words. I found myself thinking about this around 3 this morning after 90 minutes of tossing and turning failed to lull me back to sleep. I used to pitch a fit about 'wasting' time from my life watching a movie that turned out to be crappy. Now, I realize I will get that time back-somewhere between midnight and 5 a.m. on any given night, I am wide awake and doing nothing more than thinking, so I don't mind so much, wasting waking hours.

Here are some of our more frequently used words:

Feat-mostly facon, which is fake meat, and most often fake bacon. In our case, facon is not tofu bacon, but turkey bacon. I don't like pork. But I love me some facon.

Foap-foaming soap

Fugar-artificial sweetener or fake sugar.

Facation-forced vacation, or time off work with no pay. Heavy emphasis on the first half of the word. FAKE-ation.

Lunc-this is what was left on a sign we once saw after the 'h' fell off advertising 'lunch'. Then it said "Lunc served here" and so we told Jake we were having lunc for lunch, which at the time totally freaked him out and now is just the general menu suggested when no one else has a real plan.

Bob's House of Barnacles-where we plan to eat every time we go out for food, but can never find and so we have to resort to somewhere else.

Last night, we came up with a new one. Dessappetizer. When you are at a buffet and get dessert twice, the first is a dessappetizer.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best Friends

Yesterday, the boys (13 and 9) came bounding into my room holding hands (in a manly fashion) and jumping up and down yelling, "Matching pants! We are wearing matching pants!" And the younger adds helpfully, "And we didn't even know it!"
They proceed to put on shoes and grab machetes and head off into the woods for about an hour.
Then today, the older, Jake, makes quesadillas for breakfast, offers the last one to his brother and they decide to play Neverwinter Nights 2 together over team speak. They encounter an enemy and have a dance-off, then Jake says, "I can bluff the enemy, what do you have?" Ben says, "I can bluff the enemy, too!" Jake considers for a minute and says, "Hey, let's bluff the enemy!" Ben agrees and they proceed.

We have scouts this afternoon, our last meeting until fall, and they discuss dressing the same again, but Ben says, "No, let's be different because someone might think we are twins." Um, yeah.
Then he launches into his favorite recent 'twin' story. He and Chandler (11) have been mistaken for twins since he was about 6 months old-never mind that she was over 2 by then and walking. Well, about 3 months ago we were at a restaurant and the server asked how old the kids were. I said, "9 and 11" She said, "Oh, are they twins?" hehehe!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

We have been hanging out with the Lackey's since last Thursday, it seems sort of odd to not have 5 kids and another adult or two in the house. I gripe now and then that I wish we had another room or two, but after camping and company, the house seems too big as it is.

We spent Friday in Huntsville, running a couple errands and Saturday Matt and Jake went to Geo Woodstock in Bell Buckle, Bobby came to the house to locate his missing family and that evening we all went to the drive-in movies. Night at the Museum 2 and X-Men Wolverine.

Having read X-Men comics from nearly the first issue, I take issue with many points in the movie, but I won't pick it apart here, people get paid money for that and probably do a better job.

Yesterday, Sunday, they headed back out to the house with a friend in tow, one who helped load up the last 2 of our goats and take them off to live on a real farm. The girls were quite calm in the truck, I was glad of that at least. Not as glad as I was to be done with goats in general-they had developed a new hobby called 'escape and conquer' which involved getting out of their pen and breaking into the dog pen to eat their pine tree. The same dogs who ripped the throat out of their fellow goat less than a year ago...

I was a little concerned they would get out while no one was here and head across the road and eat the plants in the farmer's field or go next door and terrorize Judy. They had mangled my roses and nearly killed a couple baby trees in our yard. All of this was collateral damage and the fence could have been added to and made a little more goat-worth with some time and money.

That was not the last straw-that came when Boca started screaming like she was being set upon by wolves whenever she saw Matt. He would have to go and talk to her, feed her by hand, pet on her and cut branches for her to snack on before she would stop the panicked bleating. It was getting to the point that if we had a window open and she just heard his voice, she would start the noise and it was LOUD and unnerving and kept us all on edge.

Chan saying goodbye to Lilly Anne

Uno Boca all loaded up.
Bye, girls! Enjoy your new farm!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I have a couple projects going, one is to clean out the house and rearrange everything, which leads me to wash walls and scrub things like door frames and light switches and ceiling fans. Part of this is sanity-keeping, part is because after a certain amount of time, general cleaning just is not enough to actually CLEAN a house and the other is I love to move things around, to have a different view when I wake up, a different path as I move from room to room.

My second project is along the same lines, I am ready for something different in other aspects of my life. I just hope other aspects are ready for me. And while I hope, I wait.

Today is library day, the sacred jewel in my schedule. With camping last week, I did not finish my previous load, so I feel particularly luxurious in that I still have a couple books on my desk AND the whole library laid out in front of me, waiting. I love the rows of books in all colors, anything could be inside the covers.

I love that anticipation, I like to have things lined up, I think I have summer plans and camping plans and travel plans through this time next year and beyond not just because I like being busy, but because I like the thrill of waiting. As a kid, I liked long car rides, I never minded waiting for vacations and holidays. I like to imagine how it will go, how things will be, places I will see and so on.

It's not just some things that are worth waiting for, anything is. That time without pressure, the waiting, the thrill of getting what you waited for, that's a gift in exchange for the payoff. Happily, my kids have the same ability, to be content with how things are, hopeful for how things could be and able to be happy with nearly any outcome.

I am blessed with them, these leggy young people who eat and make noise and laundry and ask endless questions-which I thought they would grow out of, but curiosity is another gift, one that serves a person well throughout life. Delving into new things, sure, but moreso the ability to adapt an idea or change your mind or seek more information without feeling challenged or cornered.

The desire to know and to absorb and accept, that's curiosity in a nutshell. It's just up to the mama to know and accept the intellect of the kid can encompass planets and insects and Pokemon and presidents and religion, but not where the mustard is. Think of how often you go on vacation or to a relative's house and dump your stuff in your room and head out to see what's there. That is a child's life-they just need a landing place for their clothes and their head, the rest is running around all day seeing and doing and catching up. Sleep is when they grow because the rest of the day, they just don't have time for it.

Mud pies and tadpoles and rainy afternoons with their DS or a movie they have seen 12 times before. It's never wasted time, what's down in the well comes up in the bucket. Time to absorb and contemplate, to scheme and daydream, to dance and create and play and do nothing, these are cornerstones of childhood, not schedules and quizzes, tests and grades, pressure to know something by a certain date or age just because someone else somewhere else decided that was right. There is time for all of that.  Later.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Home, pooped

What a trip, we had so much fun, I am not even ready to head back home yet-we dumped the camper off and headed into town to hang out with Gina and Bobby and Cathy this evening. We just were not ready to be done with the trip just yet.

Quick run-down is this:

Day one, two at Tellico Plains, TN.
Day three at Amicalola Falls, GA
Day four-six at Keowee-Toxaway in SC.

We swam and hiked and ate and drove and drove and slept in campers and got rained on and laughed hard enough to nearly pass out more than once.

I was so glad Matt could take off to go, we had such a good time. Our group size (21) was too large to do everything together, so we split with the older kids and younger kids for most things, which worked well. But I have to say, our best day was when we were all together at the sliding rock.

No one was ready to come home, which I think bodes well for future trips, I am well pleased with how things went and ready for another round ASAP!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Damp Campers Sing-along Blog

Oh, it's raining on my camper and the window has a leak,
The place I parked my van has become a creek.
Dinner was boiled hot dogs, too wet to make a fire
Hiking to the bathrooms, in the mud we mire.

Oh, camping in the rain
It can be a pain
The sun breaking through the clouds
Is so rare, why it draws crowds

Despite the rain, we have been having a ball, we have seen some amazing new places and strengthened friendships, long talks and lots of laughing and food, having 21 people on a camping trip has been a blast.

Tomorrow we lose 2 of the dads as they head back to work on Monday, but Gina and Cody have decided to stay on with us, so we will only be down to 19, though I have to say we will miss the guys!

We arrived yesterday (Friday) early and got set up next to Gina and Bobby and headed out to Bald River Falls, the Donelly Cabin and Whigg Meadows. We had a big taco salad last night with everyone and this morning we got up and had breakfast at Tellico Grains and came back to the camp and the kids swam and went down the waterslide until the rain rolled in. We waited it out in our camper-a couple small leaks but it was like a fire hose was turned on us!

We had lunch in the camper, cheese, herb flatbread, pepperoni and hummus with lemonade. mmm
The skies cleared and we hit the road with Gina and Bobby and we had Emily with us, the rest of the group had gone to see the falls and such they missed by arriving so late the day before!

Our small group made our way up up up up up to the lookout tower just outside Coker Creek. What a view!!

We got back to camp, made hot dogs and ate, the rest of the group showed up and they ate and joined us for a campfire and marshmallows (it POURED again while we made dinner and ate) and we saw a rainbow!

The moms all combined efforts, detergent and quarters and everyone got their laundry all done and dry for the next leg of the trip. The kids went swimming or wading 5 different times-new clothes and towels for each jaunt. I had 2 washers of clothes and we just got here yesterday! But the kids are having a blast and so am I, a little towel rationing and all will be fine. It's just so wet, anything left out to hang gets soaked through.

I hate the other dads are going to have to leave us in the morning, I feel lucky Matt can stay all week, even if the time off is coming out of the paycheck. Stinking forced vacation, blah. Still, if he has to take the time off, better to spend it here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ready, set...


Tomorrow is the start of our big trip and instead of tending to the last-minute details, I am online, tinkering. I have loaded the camper, made boiled eggs, packed stuff to make tea and made arrangements for the guinea pigs. I really do love the pigs or else they would be in a stew one of these days, I just wonder what you call guinea pig meat? Guinea pork? No, they are from South America and they say everything backward, so maybe pork guinea.

I tried to look it up and got distracted by a post on guinea pigs as survival livestock. Uh, no thanks. They tweet and scamper and are otherwise too cute to eat. I am so American, but then again, I am not so American that I think meat grows in the case at the grocery store and no animals are harmed in the process.

Let's see, I have not packed any clothes yet-though I do have swimsuits and towels in the cabinet of the camper. I have priorities. I also have the chocolate and marshmallows loaded up. The van is all cleaned out and ready to get a vacuum and to be loaded up with the rest of the food, clothes and last-minute items we HAVE to have.

I sometimes get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we have on camping trips. Not only did I go on purpose and buy everything we have, but I packed it thinking it was so vital we could not go a week without it. We used to be able to camp with all three kids for a full week at a time and I drove a Mitsubishi Gallant. And that was with the tent, screen tent and cots.

Now I 'need' the whole back of the van, the camper cabinets and I have stuff in the floor of the box like pillows and food and toys. Because...we NEED a football, bubbles, 3 kites and a bucket of sand toys. hahaha. At least I can see my insanity, surely that makes me saner. And I did decide to leave the 4-man boat, paddles and life jackets at home. Though I think the pump is still packed...

I am off to finish the details, get the pigs to the sitter and refill the dog food. I need to pack me and check the kid clothes, make a grocery list for when we get there, post reminders to get the CPAP and camera bag and laptop and all the things I like to panic over forgetting as we drive 60 mph up the road.

For a trip down memory lane, I found this pic of one of our early trips.

That's a chocolate turnover from Tellico Grains.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Getting ready to go!

There is always so much to do before a trip and much of it involves one of my favorite inventions-the list.

This list has on it camping gear, groceries I lack, clothes to pack and tasks to accomplish. I like that a trip chops up life, things must happen before or they can wait until after and during-that's where all the fun lives.

We are camping in a new place and a new state this time, we have not been to South Carolina before and I am especially excited about all the waterfalls, and with the rain we have been having, I don't doubt even 7 hours away, they are feeling the damp. And damp is good for waterfalls, puts hair on their chests.

But for now with the trip still days away and this particular day all but over, about all I can do is piddle in the house and partake of a second of my favorite inventions-the hot bath.