Monday, November 29, 2010


Gatlin 1750
I think this may be the original family to be buried in the cemetery

Just loved these names.

This was not a child's stone.


One of the many Gatlin's

In heaven there is two angels more

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nano Dunno!

I had a writing jag today, 4k words!  I hit the 50k mark and validated my word count and now I am 'done'! 

I still really like my story, I will keep working on it, I am not even halfway through the story arc, Henry is on his way to the largest settlement in their world, at the junction of two rivers.  There are still so many little plot holes and places that need to be filled in, questions I had to research to find answers for so I just highlighted them in yellow and went on.

There were a couple of places that I was stuck and could not move the story ahead-I knew where I wanted to be next, but could not get my characters moving that way because I got mired in the detail.  I told Matt it was like that song about a feather on a bird in an egg in a nest on a twig on a branch on a tree in a hole in the ground.  And the green grass grew all around all around and the green grass grew all around.  Instead of just saying there was a feather.   So I highlighted those in blue and just jotted down a few lines that had them awake the next morning and on the way again, no long paragraphs of details about the way to soak rice before cooking over an open fire. 

I am quite pleased to be finished, I hope the kids are able to wrap up their stories quickly as well.

Tomorrow, I am going with Daddy to find and photograph various graves of various relations.  I found out Thursday that he has already bought a site in the cemetery we are going to first and already has a marker erected.  With his name and birth date already on there.  I hope I don't come unglued when I see it, I thought I would have years and years before I went to his graveside.  At least I will have him with me this first time.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Manufactured Obligations

I hate the holidays.  Someone always gets slighted, being married and having divorced parents creates 3 or 4 families that all want their kids with them for holidays and then there's us, our little core family of 5.

Everyone has been understanding when they get the shaft for the date, but it still stinks to have to choose.  I swear, divorce is what's wrong with our country.  People should have to enter marriage with the knowledge that it's forEVER and only death will end it.  I think it's too easy to just quit a marriage and bust up a family, anyone can do and they can do it over and over.  Maybe if there was a death penalty, people would slow down and think.

I know there are abused spouses and children, but that was not what busted up either of our families-or pretty much anyone else I know who has divorced parents.  It's running around on the side, 'growing apart' or something else just as selfish. 

Today, we spend this holiday with my father.  His mother says she understands.  When I was a kid, I used to think ahead to holidays with my family.  Mother pointed out a small tree in the yard when I was about 10 and said when I had kids, she would hang a swing on the branch for them.  I would be at my grandparents house and mark things in my mind.  "We will do this.  We won't do that."  I had it all planned out. Macaroni and cheese as a major and required side dish, check.  Football, X.  I even liked the super hokey turkey cakes my mother would make, I gave those the check.  Dressing with gravy, check, smoking in the yard, X. 

We are off, pies and sides packed and Chandler's muffins-the only thing she took away from a 6 week unit study on Frank Lloyd Wright was the recipe for his favorite scones.  hahaha  I love my kids. 

Natural Sleep Aids

I have always had trouble sleeping, I can fall asleep, but not stay asleep.  I lie awake for several hours a night.

I can take commercial sleep aids, but they only help with the fall asleep part and if I am awake too much and don't sleep off the drugged effect, I feel like I have a head cold the whole next day.  

If I get a LOT of exercise, sometimes I can sleep through, or at least fall back asleep when I wake up.  But I can't move the furniture around every single day or walk 5-6 miles-well, I COULD, but I won't.

I have been taking one or two melatonin a night ($3.75 for 120 3 mg tablets) for about two months now, it helps me fall asleep, I don't have to take it every night, but on nights before we have something happening the next morning, I find it useful to knock me out without the side effects.  Around 1:15, I wake up and I am awake until 3:30-4. 

I started last night adding valerian root to the mix. It's $4 for 100 capsules, you take 3 30 minutes before bedtime, just like the melatonin.  It smells earthy and gross, like leaf rot and maybe fresh peanuts.  There's nothing quite like it.  I went to sleep around 10 and did not wake until 3, went back to sleep around 4 and slept until 7:30.

Melatonin is the natural hormone made in the pineal gland that helps animals fall asleep.  Here is the WebMD link for it.

Valerian Root is in short, a relaxant. Here is the link for it.  It has several other uses, including anxiety!  That might be a nice side effect for sure.  The article says it may take 2-4 weeks of use to see improvement.  I will report back about it before we leave for our holiday break, see if there is any real improvement.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Jake is going to apprentice with Mr. Holmes, so today he went along to start learning how to change a tire.

My rear passenger side tire has been patched 4 times and had about 1/176 of the tread left.  I have no idea what's up with that tire, I bought it the same time as the other one, which still has about a year of wear left.  The van has been balanced and aligned twice in the last year...anyway, it needed to be replaced.

Mr. Holmes had a couple good used tires from a recent job that had as much tread as my other rear tire, so he sold me one for $35.  Score!
after a quick safety check, Jake is let loose with the lug nut removermabob.
I only have to buy one new
nut and bolt.

It's off!  So exciting!

He helped with taking it off the rim and putting the new one on, but I hate that machine and had run away outside.
Back inside at the much quieter balancing machine
That thing is pretty cool.

At any rate, I have tires that will last me another year, easy and  that noise is fixed, oil changed...I could not be more pleased about how everything turned out.

Decent Huntsville Area Mechanic

The front end of the van has made this...noise...for about 6 weeks now.  I have had it looked at several times, no one can find anything.

Today, I called about getting an axle from O'Reiley's in H'ville and they don't have Kia parts, so they gave me the number for Cannon's Racks and Axles.  I called them and after talking with the owner, Stan,  a few minutes he said, "You know what-bring it down and I will look-no charge, I can tell you what's wrong and you don't have to buy anything from me or pay to get it fixed here."  Whoa.  That never happens anymore!

An hour later, I pulled into the shop-it's right in front of Southern Adventures-and talked to the other guy that works there.  He drove the van around a few minutes, heard the noise, put it on the rack, used a crowbar to wiggle the joints and found the noise-in the bushings.  He lubed those up.  Noise is GONE.  No further action needed. 

They pulled the van around, opened the door for me and sent me on my way-no charge.  They could have easily replaced something, lubed up the bushings and I would never have a clue.

While I was there, I admired their shop blankets and when I got home, there were THREE in the van.  : ) 

They were SO kind, chatty, the owner seems to run wide-open on the energy level and he was all about explaining how everything under there worked, I know more about axles and bushings than I ever thought I'd need to.  Now I know what can actually go wrong on the van and what is total crap-in the rack and axle department anyway.

They do other work, timing belts and that sort of general maintainance, I will be back in the spring to get some stuff done before the camping season and the trip to Disney, since we are staying nearly 6 weeks total on that trip. A week of that with Jacki!  Eep!
I am thrilled, Nettlevan is running totally silent now and I am not out anything more than the drive-which worked out because I ran to the library and picked up contact solution.  At Sullins Eyecare, they will give you contact solution if you come in and ask for it.  They said there was no need to buy it when they get it free.  That saves us $13 every 3 weeks.  Woot!  And, the library was of course, free-walked out with 2 brand new bestsellers and a dvd.  Pretty darn good day.

2101 Leeman Ferry Cir SW
, AL 35801

Tell them you homeschool and heard it from the lady with the dinosaur security system.  ; )

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The oldest and youngest take an afternoon nap...

 Today, I woke up feeling great and ready to go do something!  I wanted to hike, climb, swim, play-move.

We ended up at High Falls Park near Guntersville.
About...fifteen minutes into our walk, my head started hurting.  Waa. 
Then, it hurt the rest of the day.

  We started back for home earlier than intended, hoping a stop for something with sugar or caffeine might kick my headache to the curb.

On the way to the store, my left eye started hurting, then burning, then tearing up and finally, I had to just sit with my hand clamped over my eye while it streamed tears down my face. It was bright red, too.  Ack!!
Matt got me some eye drops PDQ and I pulled out my contact, which felt like it took some eyeball with it, and rinsed my eye, my contact and put my contact in a little plastic container with some eye drops on it.

After about 15 minutes, my eye felt better and I put my contact back in because being blind in one eye was making the headache worse.  We stopped for a geocache since I was no longer leaking from the head area or in eye pain, but still headed in the general direction of home. 

As soon as we got in the door, I took both contacts out and washed my face, threw away the left contact and laid down for a few minutes with both eyes shut.  My left eye kept watering and making my nose run, how craptastic!  It's feeling better now, but I can't put any pressure on my eyelid, I think...maybe my contact tore and injured the underside of my eyelid?   I could not see well enough to examine it, just tossed that sucker out.  It was due to be replaced Monday, so at least that was no big deal.  It felt like a tick or something, ugh, that hurt. 

Zeppy about passed out walking up the hill from High Falls, hahaha!  She conked out as soon as we put her in her puppy bucket and snoozed a while.
The blue monster in the pic fell out of the bed and was rolling around in the floor, she started barking-Matt was convinced she hated Dan Fogelburg, hahaha!  I looked back with my one good eye and saw her perched on the edge of the chair, staring at the floor of the van and yapping her scary yap, the one with the growl attached "grrrruff".  The blue monster rolled into view-it has huge bug eyes on one side.  When the eyes came up, she would squeak-bark, like "ACK!"  Ah...gotta love the dramatic dog.

She finally got down in the floor and shook it so hard the legs flapped.  I guess blue monster is not going to be a favorite toy.  hahaha

Friday, November 19, 2010

Around here

 Thanksgiving lunch at Cathy's
We had a whole flock of turkeys this year!

At home, Zep is playing the pitiful puppy card, licking her sad empty bowl for those few remaining morsels of flavor...

 Well, no one would pass up taking this shot, OMG, look how freaking CUTE she is. 
 In her little bed, I call it her puppy bucket.  She has been sleeping out of the kennel some nights, that's going well as far as house training, but I have a hard time sleeping if something is walking around in my room-or, on me as the case sometimes is.
And, pre-marked for his birthday in less than 2 weeks, Ben has SHOT up in the past 2 months and is now almost 2 inches taller than Jake was on his 11th birthday.  Chan is now an inch taller than me, putting her at 5' 7, she outweighs Ben by a pound.

I need to get new shoes and clothes for all 3 kids, got the news yesterday that Matt is going to have to take unpaid leave at Christmas and the van has a rear tire that will have to be replaced before we go anywhere.  We have two different family dinners at the same time in two different towns on Thursday, with full expectations from both sides that we WILL be there.

'Tis the season. 
To be freaking stressed over crap.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Great Day!

Yesterday we had birthday cake for breakfast and bundled up to head to Birmingham to Sloss Furnaces for a while. 

We had spent Saturday afternoon finishing out the fencing for Zephyr's pen so she could stay home without us without having to stay inside in her kennel.  The one time we had to leave her here, she got out and was running around on the furniture when we came home.  She can unzip the kennel flap, I have her in the camping kennel since the pigs live in the big metal kennel with an actual latch.

When the weather Sunday turned out cold, I did not want to leave her here to freeze (never mind the heat lamp and warm bedding and weather-protected doghouse I was so happy with a few weeks ago).  We looked around online to see if we could find the pet policy for Sloss, since it's mostly outside.  There were a few references at dog-friendly sites, so we opted to take her and see when we got there. 

I asked at the desk-sure, dogs are allowed on a leash. Yay!  So, we all headed in to explore the ruins of Sloss furnaces, stopping first to pay homage at Spot's gravesite. 

Zeph did well for a totally new place-and one so alien at that.  She did not want to walk on any grating and she did NOT want to go in the furnace building. Ben walked her most of the time, but I got her back when he ran off to play hide and seek around the huge...I don't even know what they are called!  Pieces of machinery.

I got several good pictures, I was playing with lighting yesterday and I am pleased with how well some of the shots turned out.  I did not bring my tripod, I will next time.  Going yesterday compared with a year or so ago on a very brightly lit day, I was happier with the overcast shots.

After Sloss, we piled back in the van and headed to Moe's for Jake's birthday dinner.  Zeph stayed in the van just outside the door, happy with her kibble and fresh water.  She was curled up in her bed when we came back out. 

We caught the last half of This American Life while we drove around looking for geocaches.  As it started getting dark (at 4, UGH) we headed back toward the house.  I stopped at Gardendale, planning to get ice cream at a place called G'daddy's, but the business had closed.  So, we ended up at Sonic where we had sugar cookie blasts.  I won't do THAT again, talk about sugar coma-inducing foods.  Blech!  It's  been 17 hours and I still can't bring myself to eat anything.

I think Jake had a good day, he loves running around at Sloss, it's a really cool place.  I am glad we got out of the house a little, I have only been grocery shopping and to the dentist in the last 2 weeks, once for me, once for Jake.  That's no fun. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Fifteen years ago, I was in labor with my first child.  I had no business having a kid, but there I was, 9 months and 2 weeks pregnant.  Jake was 14 days late and even then, he was induced. 

He was born after 36 hours of med-free labor, he was 7 pounds and 13 ounces and he was born at 2:13 in the afternoon.  He was 21 inches long, had a head full of fluffy black fuzz and brown eyes-the minute he opened them, they were brown.  The nurse told me only Hispanic babies had brown eyes at birth.  I still don't know what to do with that tidbit, so, I'll just pass it along. 

I named him Jacob Spencer and they let me take him home 48 hours later.  I spent the first few months waiting for someone to realize I had NO clue what I was doing and come take him back. 

I had postpartum depression, which I now know is pretty typical, but at the time, I was a vacuum of alone with an infant I did not know how to put down.  If I was not holding him, he wailed, so I held him-he lived in the Snuggie strapped to my belly.  We were both completely bewildered by life.  Sometimes at night I would show him the squares on the quilts I had covered the walls of our tiny house with for extra insulation. I could not afford to feed us if the electric bill went over $40, so that winter, we spent a lot of time in bed or under a blanket in the rocker.  I couldn't think of what else to do with him.

He had HUGE eyes, he would stare at me, mouth hanging open, panting a little-probably because he was roasting in my efforts to keep him warm. In December,  I set up a tiny Christmas tree and put on a string of lights, which I would turn on for 15 minutes each evening to keep from using too much electricity.  It was an odd time, even going back to work did not help relieve the depression and I would spend my breaks pumping milk and crying in the bathroom.

I recall his start as the most difficult stretch of my life.

But, he was always happy.


Here we are, fifteen years later on the eve of his birth.  I can see him from where I am sitting, he's between his brother and sister on the couch, they are all eating cereal-his is dry.  He does not drink milk, his choice, he has no food allergies.  He does not like chocolate or macaroni with the cheese.  He won't eat cheese at all unless it's shredded and melted. 

He is kind, the sweetest child I have ever met and that's saying something because Ben and Chan are pretty fantastic.  He looks up and catches my eye, I look at him, he looks back.  He gives me a huge shiny grin, his braces flashing in the light, his bangs are hanging in his eyes, his shirt is too big, his pants are missing an entire knee.  He is a most beautiful boy.

I can't imagine a day without him.  I don't really remember what I did before he came along for the journey.  I must have had a life, but whatever it was filled with, it wasn't enough.

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt