Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Guitar Hero, that is.

I am.

Photo by Doodlebug

This could be a serious addiction.  Icy D.  That's my stage name for my band, "Evercool."  Too bad we had to box it up to move to DC.  I'd be playing right now.

The truck is packed - all but the last few things we'll need in the morning.  We're not staying up to watch the ball drop - the new year will just have to start without us.  We've got a long drive ahead of us.  Needless to say, there won't be a long post tomorrow, unless we get there and get unloaded in record time.

But I'll still Twitter from the road, so you all can follow my every last move. 

I know you want to. 

Don't try to hide it. 

It should update over there on the right hand side of the page, or you can click to follow me on Twitter.

Dr. SmartyPants will be driving the big Budget moving van, and I'll be driving his car - so no long travel naps for me, darn it.  I love to sleep in the car.  I'm sure Doodlebug could drive, right?

Stay tuned, peeps.  This weekend, I'll be back in action, laying out the 2009 plan.  It's still being formed in my head and I'll have about 8 hours tomorrow to contemplate whilst driving up the Shenandoah Valley. 

I hope your New Year's Day is peaceful and full of hope.  And I hope your new year is peaceful, full of hope and rife with adventure.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The Christmas packages have all been opened, packaging discarded. 

Different kinds of boxes have taken their places.

Joshua's Camera 123

In two days we begin our next adventure.  In two days we leave.  In two days.

I'm excited and nervous - wondering.  Doodlebug is struggling with it.  "Why do we have to go?  I don't like change.  I like my house.  I like my room.  I want to stay."  Junebug says he's kind of happy, kind of sad.  The adventurer in me is eager to go.  The mother in me is having a hard time watching her eldest son suffer.  Even though I know it is the right thing.

The best thing.

I met with Linda yesterday evening - for far too short a time.  For the last couple of years, we've met on New Year's Day to set goals and encourage each other.  This year, we had to revise the meeting date a little, but we still accomplished a lot.  We set new goals, reviewed the last year and vowed to do better.  Both of us had years that started out very differently than they ended up, and our goals didn't keep up with the changes.  We'll strive to be more flexible and attentive in the new year.

I'll write more about that later.  Right now, I'm checking off lists and strapping tape around cardboard and worrying that I'm forgetting essentials.  I'm trying to let go of the perfectionistic tendencies that sometimes paralyze my ability to sort out the mess and pare down the boxes. 

I'm missing Ben, and so thankful to all of you who left such sweet and sympathetic comments on my last post.  It just reminds me of how wonderful a place this internet can be.  Thank you all so much. 

I talked with his sweet veterinarian yesterday, and she believes he suffered some sort of acute event, such as a stroke or sudden heart failure.  I think he was just a gift that was here for a short time to remind us not to take ourselves so seriously.  He also reminded me that an afternoon spent napping in the sunbeams of the back door is an afternoon well spent. 

Especially in the short days of winter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Joy. Wrapped in Sorrow.

Santa's Goodies

Christmas was a success.  Much Star Wars was had by all.  We had a lovely restful day of Lego-building and Guitar-Hero-ing and Wii-ing.  I hope that yours was wonderful, as well.

Last year, on the day after Christmas, we brought home a wiggly, feisty little cat that Junebug named "Ben."  He quickly grew into to a wiggly, feisty ginormous cat that kept us on our toes. 

He's been my faithful lap-warmer and constant muse - always good for a pose or two.

This morning, Dr. SmartyPants woke me and asked me to come upstairs.  Ben was laying on the floor, as he often did, sprawled out on his side in complete relaxation.  Except he wasn't asleep.  There was no warning.   He was fat and healthy and feisty last night.  He came to cuddle up with me around 4:00 this morning, as insistent as ever that I move my arm so he could curl up under my chin.

The internet says cardiomyopathy or heartworms are the leading causes of sudden, unexplained death in cats.  We'll take him to the vet tomorrow to see what we can find out.


Goodbye, Sweet Ben.  I hope there are lots of Rokenbok balls to chase, wherever you are.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


3,285 days ago today, I became a mom.


I'm still hopelessly in love with that kid. 

I still remember the first time I saw him - all red and covered in goo.  He was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

And the loudest.

Still is.

I still remember when they gave him to me for the first time and I looked down into his perfect little round fat-cheeked face.   Gorgeous. 

Still is.

He is halfway to "adulthood."  Halfway to the point where he can vote.  Halfway to the point where he could join the military or get married without my signature.   I choose to not think about that.  He was my first baby.

Still is.

I can remember sitting and staring at him during those first few weeks when he slept all day long.  I didn't do that with Junebug - because he was the second, and I had a 20 month old Doodlebug running around.  I could have stared at him 24 hours a day - just watching him squirm and dream and coo and pee and poop.  He was the most interesting part of my day.

Still is.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


This blog, that is.

We're camping and enjoying the Christmas festivities in Stone Mountain, Georgia.  My folks met us here yesterday, and we celebrated the Doodlebug's upcoming birthday with them.  The lights are spectacular here - they really do it up right.  Too bad I didn't lug my tripod around with me - no clear light shots.

But they are still pretty...


We'll be back tomorrow, eager to celebrate D's big day on Tuesday!  Woo hoo! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tic. Tac. Toe.

I just had to share this with you all.  My friend, Cathi, gave this to us today.

Tic Tac Toe

It is so simple, and so fantastic.  Just a piece of slate and some river rocks, but add a grid, some X's and O's and's a game.

Isn't that the best?  And it just illustrates the idea that the best gifts are those that cost almost nothing...Cathi and her husband own a flooring business (FloorDomain, if you're in the Knoxville area and need flooring - look 'em up - her husband is a MASTER craftsman), so they had the slate already.  They traded a couple of pieces of slate with a friend who had river rocks, and voila!  A perfect gift.

I just love crafty people.  Don't you?

Monday, December 15, 2008


In light of the last two posts, I give you...

Buzz in Blue

Doodlebug and I were drawing together this afternoon, while Junebug caught up on his long winters' nap.  D had been rifling through his bookcase, when he came across some NASA postcards we'd ordered back in Kindergarten for a project.  He brought them to me and we picked one each to draw.  I picked Buzz Aldrin, as photographed by Neil Armstrong.

It's such a cool photo, with all the reflections in the face shield, including Armstrong, the American flag and the lunar module.  What I really love is how the horizon of the lunar surface lines up with the horizon line in the face shield.

I did this as a contour drawing for the most part.  Not a BLIND contour, but I tried to not lift my pen as I traced around the image.  I love the quality of the line when I do this, and it always makes me wonder why I don't do it more often.  It is so freeing to use cheap-o pens on cheap-o paper - to draw with and as a child - simply and with reckless abandon.

Lesson learned.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Lunar Perigee cropped

The clouds finally parted and allowed me to take a photo of the moon last night.  I really wanted to see the moon rise, but the clouds just didn't get out of the way quickly enough.  Still, with the clear night sky and the cold air, the moon was crisp and bright. 


I realized after I posted last night, that it was my 501st post.  I had all these plans to make a big deal about post #500, and I totally forgot.  So - I'll make a big deal today.

Woo Hoo - 502.

Look.  I even made a rhyme.

Five Hundred and Two posts ago, I really had no idea what this blogging business was all about.  I'd heard something about it on the Today show or something, and I had to go check it out.  Now?  I'm still not sure what it is all about, except that it has given me an outlet for a lot of pent up creative energy and a lot of wonderful people I've been privileged to know in some small way.

To all of you who stop by on a regular basis - it's been a pleasure to have you...I'm looking forward to seeing what the next year will bring - in your blogs and mine.  If you've just stopped by randomly - HI!  Good to have you.  Have a seat and hang out a minute - I'll grab you a drink and some popcorn.

And to all of those lovely 18 people who have clicked "Follow this blog" in the sidebar, or the untold millions 6 who have clicked on the subscribe button...

Thanks.  I feel pretty.

And I'm saving you the good tequila.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Or trying to.


(Photo from National Geographic - please click on it for story)

Stupid clouds.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I hope you all enjoyed yesterday's guest post from Snivel E. McWhinybritches.


Anyhow. Today has been rainy and rainier, with temperatures dropping and expected ice tonight. Dr. SmartyPants is on travel, and so the bugs and I slept in an extra hour or so. Junebug came and crawled into bed with me around 6:30 this morning, gave me a big hug and we cuddled, listening to the rain for a few minutes. He sighed, snuggled in a bit closer and said, "Do we have to go anywhere today?" I told him no, and he smiled. "I think today would be a good day to stay in our pajamas, don't you think so?"

I did.

It was also a good day for baking my favorite kind of cookies. I got this book, The Cookie Book, by Eva Moore, a hundred years ago when I was in elementary school - through the bookmobile or weekly reader or something. It has a copyright date of 1973, but I am sure I picked it up around '76 or so. The pages are browning - almost the same color as the cookies I baked. I can remember baking almost all of the different kinds of cookies in the book at one time or another, but Peanut Butter have always been my favorite. The book falls open to this page without effort.


My mixer is a lot fancier than the hand mixer my mom let me use, but the cookies still taste the same. Perfectly peanut-buttery goodness.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Cades Cove

The end of the year always gets me thinking about what I've done over the past year, and what I would like to do in the next one, and this year is no different. Only this time, I'm less sure of what I've accomplished and what I'd like to do. I know that I've checked almost everything off the list that the guys and I sat down and made last December 31...but I'm just not sure how important any of those things really were in the grand scheme of things.

Hey - learned to play some bar chords on my guitar...woo hoo! World changer...I am not.

Sometimes I look at the world and I feel pretty darn insignificant. I am not looking for anything here, people, even though I know you all - you're too dang nice. You'll say I'm raising children and that's world changing, etc. and I know all that and I appreciate your thinking it far more than you know, but some days I'd just like to know that I'm really making a teensy difference in the world at large, you know?

So, I draw a little, and I make a little music and I knit a little and I write a little. Little, little, little, little.

As we used to say in high school...BFHD. And if you know what that means, welcome to 1986. Please set the Aqua Net down and move over so the rest of us can squeeze our giant bangs in the room.

There's just this really restless part of me that needs to accomplish something big, just for me. There's this curled up giant sleeping in the core of my spirit that needs to stretch out and show the world that I CAN DO THIS.

Whatever this is.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


We had cookie decoration time last night after supper.  Nanny and Pop Pop gave us a kit of four pre-baked gingerbread cookies, frosting and candy decorations, so each of us took one and got creative.

Doodlebug made a Santa cookie,

004 005

and Junebug made Santa's son.

006 007

Dr. SmartyPants made Santa's brother,


So that, of course, left me with Mrs. Claus...


Such a happy little family...


Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Staple it Together and Call it Bad Weather

If you don't know what that title means, you haven't been listening to Jack Johnson

Shame on you.

Anyway.  I saw on the Everyday Matters group that this week's drawing prompt was "stapler," and I knew that I had one, and that it was already sitting on my table, just beside my glue gun that I still haven't put away.  So I drew it.


Don't hate me because my life is so exciting. 

In other news, the Dell tech came and installed my new hard drive, and I'm happy to report that as of now the computer is happily humming away and working fine.

I hope that is a permanent fix.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I Love a Parade

Gets me in the Christmas spirit every time.

Even if we did freeze our, uh, noses off.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Quincy Park

Things are gearing up for this move. I've been making lists and checking them, uhm, 900 times. It's kind of nice to not have to move my entire household - I don't really feel the stress of it like I would if I had to pack everything up in this short amount of time. Now - I'm sure that if you call me the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, it will be a different story.


This is the neighborhood park near our townhouse. It's a lovely, big tree-filled space and I can't wait to spend some time watching the boys cavort on the playing fields. Doesn't it look pretty with all those fall leaves still remaining? I'm sure it will look quite a bit different once we get there - bare branches and all.

n n n n n

The Dell technician showed up today. Pretty fast service, I'd say. I called Dell on Tuesday, the tech called me on Wednesday saying he'd received the hard drive and he came this afternoon and installed it. The hard drive came pre-installed with all the software that the computer originally came with, and it's cycling through the decompression, opening everything up right now. I'm keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed that this will actually be the fix.

And people? Back up those files. Way more often than I do. 'Cause they are all gone...

n n n n n

My community is having their annual Christmas parade tomorrow. It's got a really small-town feel, with homemade floats and folks throwing candy. The boys and Dr. SmartyPants went last year, and I stayed home to wrap gifts, but I think I'll go this year. Should be a lot of photo ops, I'm imagining. And I need to get a little more Christmas spirit in me. Steviewren posted about it yesterday, and she asked what we were doing to get into the spirit, and I had to answer, "NOT ENOUGH." I haven't even loaded up my Christmas playlist on my iPod.

And that's just wrong.

Once the Dell comes back to life, I'll have to make a new Christmas-y banner, too.

How about you? What really gets you in the spirit of Christmas?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Merry Fishmas

Merry Fishmas

Why a tropical fish on my Christmas tree?

Why not?

People. I'll tell you what. This parenting thing ain't easy. Nothing about it is easy. It is full of worry and self-doubt, of frustration and the occasional outburst. Our children fail and fall and flop. So do we.

How is it that the same child who, when asked to use the word "pretty" in a sentence, says, "Mommy is very pretty," can turn around and look at that same mom with hate in his eyes when she won't let him go to right now.

And yet.

We continue to parent. They continue to grow. We hope and we pray and we nurture and we love. And sometimes it works. And that deepens our resolve to try even harder. To push through the resentful eyeballing. To pull them into our laps and hug them one time more than they really wanted.

What does this all have to do with fish? Well - nothing, really. Except that fish stink and sometimes kids do too, and that a little Christmas goes a long way in making them both a little more attractive.

So. Plug your nose and hug your stinkers today. Maybe if you say, "ass, please," they'll even hug you back.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Do you all remember last year when I was complaining about my lack of the appropriate Christmas tree on which to display my prized ornaments? No? You mean you don't really remember every little thing I say?

I'm crushed.

Dr. SmartyPants remembered, however.

My tacky white Christmas tree.

It's so bright, you can actually read by the light of it. It glows and shimmers and sparkles.

Yes. I am aware of its completely tacky nature.

It is unrepentantly fake. It is undeniably plastic.

And I LOVE it.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Customer Service.

So. Computer issues. They seem to be going around, and I hate to get left out of anything.

About 6 weeks ago, Dr. SmartyPants bought me a shiny new pink Dell laptop, because the last one we purchased was, uh..., let's just call it troubled, shall we? I put quite a lot of strain on my computers, with all the pictures and graphics and videos and STUFF, and it just couldn't handle it. It's working just fine, now that I've unloaded the high-intensity photo- and video- editing programs and the many (MANY) gigabytes of photos. The boys use it for school, and it is happily chugging along.

The Dell - what can I say - it has been pure bliss to use. Not only is it shiny and PINK, but it is fast...blazing fast. Or, rather, it was blazing fast.

Now? It's dead. Or it is really infatuated with the welcome screen on start up. It is a lovely shade of blue, after all.

The Smarty managed to run a self-diagnostic on it and found some serious hard-drive errors, so I called Dell just a few minutes ago to see what they would do about it.

Turns out they are going to send me a new hard drive, pre-loaded with all the software, new memory modules and a CERTIFIED! LICENSED! TRAINED! TECHNICIAN! to fix it all up.

Oh, I do so hope that he or she does. I'd love to add Dell to my list of companies that take care of their customers - companies like Crayola and UPS.


I woke up this morning with the urge to draw something. I haven't drawn in a month - November is all about the photo, you know. So, when I sat down at the school table for the boys to read to me, I picked up my new softcover Moleskine and a #2 pencil and stared off into space, waiting to see what inspiration would come.

I got nothing.

So, I drew on the advice of Danny Gregory and others and just drew what was in front of me.


I used this hot glue gun back before Thanksgiving and it is still sitting out, because I'm such an awesome housekeeper. But, now I can say it is still sitting out because I needed something to draw - so it is art, not clutter.

You'll back me up, won't you?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hello December.

Snowy today...must be December!

Hello December.

I'm having some computer issues that are limiting my blogging, but I hope to be back tomorrow with more to say.

I wouldn't want to deprive you all of the daily minutiae of my life.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Doodlebug in Sunlight

Doodlebug: Why does "ass" mean "butt?"

Me: I don't know why. They just both mean the same thing. We don't say "ass," though. Right?

Doodlebug: Right. I know. I just wondered.

Junebug in Sunlight

Junebug: Well, instead of "but, please," can we say "Ass, please?"

Me: Snicker, glumph, ha hahahaha

Dr. SmartyPants: Hooo haaaa haa ha ha

Me: (Having now recovered from the pre-adolescent meltdown of laughter) No, dear. At least not outside of this house.

So long, November, and thanks for the memories.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Oscar Snout

Do you know how hard it was to find a place to live where we could bring this gray-beard?


But worth it.

We're back in Tennesse right now and the full magnitude of this upcoming move is starting to sink in. I'm making lists and planning and budgeting and panicking and obsessing. It's typical of my life that all major changes must be closely related to Christmas. Not sure why.

I got married 2 weeks after Christmas.

I had my first child 2 days before Christmas.

We sold our second house and had to move out 10 days before Christmas.

Now, we're moving on New Years' Day, a mere week after Christmas.

Because the holidays are not enough to stress a body, you know.

However - we'll make it. We always do. We'll put up our tree tomorrow and hang some lights, although less than I normally do, given how quickly after Christmas we'll be taking it all down. Our Christmas shopping is done already, with the exception of a little candy to fill out the stockings. We'll manage one more camping trip right before Christmas for Doodlebug's birthday.

And then we'll be off on the next great adventure.

I sure hope you'll all come along.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble Gobble.

Hope everyone's Turkey Day has been as full of delicious food and delightful family as mine has been!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I've been hinting at something on the horizon that was exciting and new and exciting and not a baby. I've finally been released to reveal what it is...

Townhouse in Arlington

We're moving.

Kind of.

Dr. SmartyPants is being assigned to a temporary position in Washington, DC, and the boys and I are packing up Ottwork Academy and hitting the road. We're maintaining our current residence, because his posting IS temporary, and we'll be back and forth a lot, mainly because I can't bear to give up my orthodontist.

We found this cute little townhouse in Arlington, just a couple of blocks away from a Metro station, so we'll be super duper mobile and taking some really SWEET field trips. This homeschooling mama is way excited about the possibilities that are set before us. It's also near a park and a library and pretty much anything we could possibly ever need, so our carbon footprint will be much reduced. And our activity level will be much increased. YAY.

January 1 is the official move date, so our December will be chock full of fun and boxes. 2009 will start with a new home, a new job, a new city and a new decade of marriage.

Should be interesting

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Burnin' Up


I'm feeling a little better today, although the source of my stress has not been resolved.  I'm just choosing to let go a little bit.  I'm choosing to revel in the fact that my laundry is done.  I'm choosing to rejoice over the two knitting projects I've finished this week.  I'm choosing to not let my present circumstances overwhelm my present mood.

And all the people at Ottwork Academy rejoiced with a great loud voice.

I'm preparing to go to Alabama to visit the families for Thanksgiving, and I'm choosing to look at my blessings instead of the grasp the beauty that is around me instead of the swirling chaos of life.

Deep breath.





Monday, November 24, 2008


Dead trees on Clingman's Dome


I'd like very much to write something witty or profound or even somewhat amusing, but I'm tapped out. 

Stressed out. 

Maxed out.

Maybe tomorrow.

Aren't you glad you stopped by?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Dead tree on Clingman's Dome, originally uploaded by diahn.

I don't know why, but these dead trees up on the roof of the Smoky Mountains are both sad and beautiful to me.

Sad for the obvious reasons - it's a terrible thing to see something so majestic has died.

Beautiful in the stark contrast of white trunk against crisp blue sky.

I'm feeling a bit melancholy and introspective the last couple of days. The approaching holidays trigger it a bit, I think - even as much as I know I'll enjoy them. There's always a place that feels a little like this tree. An expectation that I know will always remain unmet. A gash that heals but never quite closes - and can't be closed.

Holidays are hard on those left behind.

Hug your family today, okay?


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Moonrise over Smithsonian Castle

Moonrise over Smithsonian Castle, originally uploaded by diahn.

I'd like to be there right now.

But I'm not.

I'm here.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Things are Looking Up

Ben in Museum

I just never believed I'd having something hanging in a museum.

It's a dream come true.


I'm still sleeping?


Thursday, November 20, 2008


A Light in the Darkness

Okay, people.  November is still kicking my butt.  All over the place.  NaNoWriMo has been a NaNoNoGo, my knitting projects have been, well, difficult and really?  All I want to do is find my sweats, blankey, the corner of my couch and a bag of Dove chocolates.  And Bull Durham.  Over and over.

My kitchen is a mess, the dining room table is covered in piles of school materials, I'M COLD, I'm behind on laundry, there are toys everywhere I look, I'M COLD, I can't turn a freaking heel on a sock I'm trying to knit and I'M COLD.

People are mean and cut me off in traffic.  One lady totally broke in front of me in the line at the store with 900 items to my 1 and was completely lacking remorse.  The economy is tanking, etcetera...etcetera...etcetera.


Yesterday afternoon, I was finishing up some school-related stuff at the aforementioned dining room table, when the doorbell rang.  I saw that it was the UPS man, putting a package by the front door.  I finished what I was doing, as I knew the package didn't require a signature, before I went to the door to get the box.  When I opened the door, the UPS man was still there.

Not waiting for a signature.

He was picking up the pots of dead mums that had fallen over during the night and placing them back on the stand.  As I opened the door, he was just reaching for the doormat, which he then proceeded to shake out over the flower beds, to clean off the dirt and blossoms.

I was rendered near speechless (which is not a common thing).  I stammered out something like, "Y-Y-Y-You are the nicest UPS man.  EVER."

He grinned and looked down, a little embarrassed at having been caught doing his random act of kindness.  He kind of half smiled and said that he knew people liked to keep their front porches neat, and he just liked to help out.  Then, he jumped back onto his shining steed into his brown truck and drove away just as the birds began to sing and the clouds parted and long, glorious rays of light touched the ground on which it had so recently been parked.

And that, my friends, is exactly how it happened.

That's when I understood.

The Darkness can be defeated.

It  just takes a few moments - go out tomorrow with your mission as this:  Find one person today and do something completely out of the blue that is nice and helpful and kind and giving.  Smile.  Ask for nothing in return.  Maybe even try not to get caught doing it.  And if you are, make like its no big deal.

Shove a little light into the dark and see what happens.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Play Misty for Me

Indian Lake

This is my favorite time of day at the lake.  I love watching the morning mist move and undulate over the still, undisturbed waters.  It has its own current - the mist, I mean.  It dances across the lake, as graceful as a ballerina.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When the Whole World Fits Inside of Your Arms

Family at Bald River Falls

A rare photo of all four of us together, on a recent camping trip.

Look!  It's me!  Right there!  I didn't take this picture!  Weird!

I'm always so glad when someone offers to take our picture together and they actually frame up a nice shot that includes head and feet and never know.  There's always that moment when I hand my precious (preshusss) camera over to a stranger that I think about how many pictures I have on it at the moment, and will this random stranger take off with the whole kit and does my homeowner's insurance cover theft when you voluntarily give the item away?

Am I the only paranoid in the bunch?

In any case, it's nice to have tangible evidence that I do, indeed, exist - and that I did accompany my men on our many camping trips...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Would You Be...My Neighbor?

Would You Be My Neighbor?

It's funny - I was reading Mommy Needs Coffee this morning, and her post really struck a nerve with me.  She said her worlds were colliding - mine are too.  

And, strangely enough, in the same way.

It's all Facebook's fault.

Do you compartmentalize your life, too?  I think that most people probably do.  You have your family in one compartment, work friends in another, maybe your church friends and neighbors are in a couple of other ones.  Then, you have your online friends - and those can even be compartmentalized further - mine are.

I have my art-blogger-friends and my mommy-blogger-friends and my homeschool-blogger-friends and all these old-high-school-chum-friends and so on and so on...

My Google reader window has Dissociative Disorder.

All this to say - my world has both expanded and contracted exponentially since I left home for college.  I now have friends all over the world and those friends can become friends with each other with just a few keystrokes.  For someone like me who has been kind of a loner all my life, it's quite disconcerting.  I start watching the news with a different eye.  I see wildfires in California and immediately worry about Marta and her firefighter-husband Rudy.  There are tsunami in the South Pacific and I wonder if they are affecting Ai and her family.

A hurricane blows into the Texas Gulf Coast and I am immediately concerned about Stefani and Heather.  You see my point?  That's a lot for one OCD hermit to keep track of.

Except that its really good.  I've found friends I've not heard from in over 20 years.  I keep in touch with those that I love dearly and don't see nearly enough (here and here).  I've met new people, and lurked on the edges of a thousand parties, all while soaking in the goodness of it.

It's like one giant neighborhood, and there's a block party all the time.

I like my neighbors.

Do you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008



They're growing so fast.  Maturing before my very eyes.  I'm so proud of them, but there's this little Mama part of me that wants them to slow down a little and stop it already.

At supper the other night, Doodlebug broached a subject with such maturity and compassion it melted me a little.  It wasn't anything earth shaking - he and Junebug had just been talking about their bedroom decor and wanted to see if they could do something different.  It's been a "Cars" room for about two years - since they were 5 and 7, you know.  No biggie, right?  Here's what got me.  He started the whole conversation by telling me how much they have loved their room, and how the paint on the walls is really cool and they don't want to change that AT ALL - maybe just get some new comforters and could they be Star Wars, please.  At this point, Junebug joined in with his ideas as well - maybe it could be Indiana Jones?

And can we keep Nana's Lightning McQueen wall hanging that she made for us, but maybe hang it in another room.  But keep it.

You see - I worked really hard on getting that room ready for them.  I taped off grids on the walls and painted two different shades of blue with the occasional red square - it's really a cool modern paint job.  And they wanted to make sure that I understood that they liked and APPRECIATED it.  They didn't want to hurt my feelings by suggesting that they change their room.  They didn't want to hurt Nana's feelings by not having their wall hanging in their room.

I was just so proud to see them thinking of someone other than themselves - a hard thing for little kids to do.  I was so proud to think that they had talked it over with each other and had chosen a spokesman for the issue.  I was so proud to think that the spokesman sat down at the dinner table with a clear agenda and a purpose and clearly defined points.  I was so proud that he began with the positives - with affirmations and gratitude - before he proposed a change.  I was so proud that he then gave his little brother a voice and let him propose something different than he had proposed.

We discussed it - with ideas and brainstorming for the rest of our dinner, and after Christmas we'll implement those changes.

But they'll still be my babies, right?

Friday, November 14, 2008


Late Afternoon at Quincy Park

There's something about the light in Autumn that just dazzles me.

It's so warm and golden and juicy, don't you think?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Excuses

Sorry for the doom and gloom yesterday.  Let's just blame that on The Darkness, shall we?

Outside the Lines

Thanks for your comments, though.  It's nice to know people think I'm being an okay role model for my kids.  I'm not always sure.  Days like yesterday, I have to ask myself if I'm doing what I should be doing - doing the right thing by my kids.  Am I teaching them enough, giving them enough space to discover things on their own?  I'm full of self-doubt and worry and hand-wringing.

Those are the days I want to break out of the controlled environment in which we live and do something completely outside the box. 

But I rarely do.

Instead, I insist that we finish this one thing.  I insist that that sentence get diagrammed, by golly.  I push and I prod and I cajole and I occasionally resort to threats.  And I don't like it.

I long to be one of those unschoolers who strew learning materials around and watch the wonder and amazement in their children's eyes as they discover something on their own.  I'd love to hand my children a cookbook and tell them to make whatever they like and watch as they perform feats of algebra before my very eyes.  I'd love to wake up in the morning, fling a pile of Legos and string on the ottoman and watch as my children recreate the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. I read unschooling blogs and I envy the flow of their days.

Except for one thing.  Neither I nor my children are capable of such unscheduled days.  Junebug and I are far too competitive and task-oriented, and Doodlebug is too much a dreamer.  It would never work.

Perhaps there is a compromise between school-at-home and unschooling.  Maybe, on days when their eyes glaze over and drift up into their heads, we can put the sentence diagramming aside and paint a picture instead.  Maybe when the multiplication tables have taken their toll on their brains, we can stop everything and go make Lego multiplication problems instead.

Maybe we can take time out to do a little boogie-woogie in the music room.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Bald River Falls

Last night, after supper, we all sat down to watch "When We Left Earth," a multi-part documentary about the space race.  It was the one called, "Ordinary Superman," the first in the series, about the 7 men selected to be the first to sit on the top of a missile and go hurling off into space.  Dr. SmartyPants had DVR'd them a while back and we finally had a chance to see this one.  (He's a total space program geek - it's so cute.)

Anyhow - they show a scene where thousands of people had gathered on Cocoa Beach to watch Alan Shepard become the first American in space.  As the missile goes up, the camera pans across the faces of these folks and shows every range of emotion possible - shock, wonder, fear, amazement - and the voice over of a reporter who was on the scene describes people dropping to their knees to pray for this man as if he were their own son. 

That scene was played out again and again as Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, and Gordon Cooper made their historical flights.  They were greeted, upon their returns, as heroes.  Children wanted to grow up to be like them.  Parents wished their children would grow up to be like them. 

The American public retained this sense of wonder about them.

Now, the American public venerates hotel-heiresses and their couture-wearing accessory dogs.  The nightly news is filled with stories of which celebrity is in rehab or was in rehab or is coming out of rehab or is thinking about maybe possibly going into rehab.  We buy video games that celebrate the wanton destruction of human life.  We idolize football players and basketball players and baseball players more than police officers and firefighters and EMTs.

The whole thing is upside down.

I don't really have a point, by the way.  I'm just frustrated.  I'm frustrated that my boys have no role models equal to the Mercury 7.  No - they have Zach and freakin' Cody.  I hate them.  I'm frustrated that we've become a nation of whiny, entitlement-minded, spoiled brats who can't even begin to imagine what the word "sacrifice" means. 

I'm frustrated because I have never done anything to change that - watching it happen while sitting on my comfortable sofa and complaining that I don't care what Madonna's divorce is all about.


Now I'm going to be in a pissy mood all day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008



Sherron E. Harbison

He was my cousin, but I never knew him.  He died three months before I was born, in a country on the other side of the world. 

And yet.

Standing at the wall, running our fingers down the list of names, tears sprang into my eyes - an instant connection - an instant sorrow and, seriously, an honest-to-God overwhelming urge to find a veteran and give him a big giant hug and sloppy wet kiss for the sacrifices he or she had made.  That's the purpose of the Vietnam Memorial, I think.  To help us remember that, regardless of our politics, the men and women that serve our country in times of war and in times of peace deserve our utmost respect, and our undying gratitude.

There are over 58,000 names on this wall.  58,000 people who gave that "last full measure of devotion" that Lincoln spoke of so eloquently in his Gettysburg address.  And that's just from one war.

There are countless others who served our military and came home, and they deserve our very best.  My father is one of those - he served in the Air Force for 20 years - for the majority of the Cold War and for a great deal of the Vietnam War.  I've been proud of him my whole life.  I loved seeing him in his uniform, the stripes on his shoulders, the crisp blue hat on his head.  He looked like a hero.

Because he is one.

My grandfather was in the Army Air Corps in World War II.  I've never once heard him talk about it.  It wasn't something to brag about, to him.  It was just what you did when your country called on you.  He left my grandmother with her parents and went off to England.  My mother has no memory of him until she was around 3 years old.  I've seen him in his uniform in pictures, and he looked like a hero.

Because he is one.

The men and women who put themselves into the line of fire so that we don't have to are heroes.  Right now, in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are people who have volunteered to fight.  Maybe you don't believe in those wars, but you know what?  What they are doing?  They believe in it.  They are doing it because for them, it's more important to ensure that you have the right to believe whatever the heck you want and express those beliefs without fear of repercussion.   They are there because they believe that the Iraqi people and the Afghan people should be able to live in a country where they can do the same thing.

So today, and every other day, honor your country's veterans.  Tell them thank you.  Shake their hands.  Let them go ahead of you in line.

Treat them like the heroes they are.


Monday, November 10, 2008

How Do We Measure Up?

Measuring Up

It's funny.  The establishing of monuments, that is.  When confronted with such tributes, how can anyone feel they can ever measure up?  As we walked around DC this past weekend, it was constantly tempting to go and see how we physically measured against the monuments.  Here, the boys determined that they were two-and-a-half blocks high.  Not even a blip on the radar.

We walked along the reflecting pool toward the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday and I had a thought.  I wonder what archaeologists in a thousand years will think of our society.  Will they gaze upon the ruins of the Lincoln Memorial and wonder about the great god Lincoln, so high upon his throne of mercy?  Will they wonder about the majestic splendor of Jefferson in his ivory palace? 

What will they think of Washington's soaring, uhhm, monument?

It really makes one wonder how accurate current archaeologists are when determining the origins of ancient monuments, doesn't it?

Regardless, I think we should look to the giants in our history and at least attempt to measure up, don't you?  Isn't that the real power of a memorial - or a monument?  It helps us gaze upward, rather than down - it sets our sights on the possibilities when we live up to our potential.

It reminds us that we can achieve great things when we set our minds on a goal, a purpose...a passion.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Someone's Got the Big Head


But I'd say he deserves it.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.