Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I'm going to present to you three or four separate strands that have been weaving themselves together in my mind over the past few days. Be patient. The dots connect.

(Yup, I know, mixed metaphors.)

Happening #1: I hear an interview with LOST producers Damon Lindelof and Carleton Cuse, in which they address one of the many fan questions with the following comment: It is not our intention to explain away every detail on this show, because we believe in a certain amount of mystery in this world that cannot be tidily rationalized (my paraphrase).

Happening #2: I take the kids to a free summer movie at a local theater -- Charlotte's Web. In the movie, Fern's mom bares her troubled soul to the family doctor, concerned about her daughter's "excessive" hours spent in conversation with barnyard animals. The doctor points out to Mrs. Arable that perhaps those conversations really are happening, that perhaps there are miracles happening every day that most of us are too busy to notice. Philosophy aptly highlighted by this song.

Happening #3: We share a dinner table with some lovely childless friends, and during their husband/wife banter, the husband comments that they'll get around to "throwing a kid" (he's a horse guy) once they have more money, 'cause kids are so expensive (and inconvenient). A common enough attitude.

Happening #4: In the course of three days, Caroline, age 3.5, progresses from mild fear of the water to swimming underwater to jumping off the side of the pool, swimming submerged for ten feet to our waiting arms, and then repeating for two hours with a ferocious intensity that defies exhaustion. No lessons. No secret I can share with you. She just lit her own match.

It's too easy to inhabit a cynical crust as one grows older, in which there must be a rational explanation for everything, and even if one believes, as I do, that God Himself plays a pretty involved role in the affairs of men, to assume that He only does so for a good reason.

But when we become parents, we inherit a front-row seat at an ongoing, unfolding display of magical, mysterious, ordinary miracles. Expensive? Not really. They only cost the willingness to notice, to take delight in discovery. To watch them bloom.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Maker kids

I may have mentioned, a time or two, what a fan I am of simple crafts one can produce with the children by pulling a few things together from around the house. Ensemble trips to JoAnn or Hobby Lobby aren't the best way for us to spend our time, mostly because neither I nor the kids can make it through the store without desiring at least ten things other than the one thing we came for (let's call it Wal-Mart Syndrome). I'm pretty good about saying "no" (to self and them) but still, I always end up at the counter, hearing our grand total, and thinking, "Really? Fifteen dollars and eighty five cents? But all I came in for was a two-dollar package of large white buttons! Guess we'll be skipping lunch this week." (I exaggerate. That's why God made PB&J.)

But all you need for this particular hour of entertainment is a package of coffee filters, a spray bottle of water, a few clothespins or pipe cleaners, and some markers.

Step One: Color the filter, any way you please.

Step Two: Mist with water, watching colors run together and exclaiming about their beauty.

Step Three: Dry.
Step Four: Attach clothespin or pipe cleaners as "antenna." Color antenna, if you desire.

Optional Step Five: Combine butterflies into a mobile or string from the pull chain of a ceiling fan.

It's Magic!

And then, if you live in Austin and you're up for an outing that doesn't involve heat, head for the Children's Museum, where the Maker Kids feature exhibit is in full swing. Plenty of hands-on sunshine, headed your way.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Five

Five Great Books for Picky Middle-Grade Readers

(recommended by Ian -- in other words, appealing, but not strictly geared, to boys, and highly imaginative)

1. Rapunzel's Revenge (We both loved this, and I also loved Austenland, a book for adults by the same author.)

2. Knight's Castleand all other works by Edward Eager, such as

3.From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler It's always nice when your kiddo really likes one of your childhood favorites.

4.A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-13 We've also all loved the audiobooks read by the delightful Tim Curry.

5. George Washington's Socks Probably our biggest hit yet with historical fiction for independent reading.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's a Guest Post!

(One of these things is not like the others ...)

I have a Guest Blogger today -- my mother-in-law! The idea that she would ever blog would probably make her fall on the floor laughing (although she does possess an astonishing array of skills), but there is a first time for everything. You know, some of my best childhood memories are of times spent at my grandmother's house. I don't think we ever baked cookies, but she provided me with plenty of love and attention and oatmeal served in Bunnykins bowls ("Eat up," she'd say, "so you can find out which picture is at the bottom.") I sometimes think that my grandmother was most successful in her role as a grandmother, that that perhaps gave her the most fulfillment in an otherwise rather painful life. She suffered a massive stroke when I was sixteen, changing her life and our relationship dramatically, so I'm so glad she made the most of our time together and left some indelible memories.

So, without further ado, cutting and pasting from an email sent to my SIL and me tonight after we fetched home our adored offspring, I give you ... JoAnn, a.k.a. Nonnie, in her own words.

We have just had a wonderful, awesome time together, and now that the children are all in the care of their mommies, I am going to post some photos and try to convey some of the highlights of the past 24 hours, before I forget them altogether ... Life is full of memories, and it is always a joy to be a part of the happy ones.

All the children play so nicely together. I don't know how much longer we can expect the older ones to be content with this; I think the Great Divide may not be too many years off, now, but we shall continue to enjoy their imaginative play as long as possible.

Everyone enjoyed a dip in the Corks' pool; it was a blistering hot day, so the pool was so welcome. Then we all packed into my car and went to our house.They all got into their dress-up clothes almost as soon as they got in the door. I got out the doll clothes my mother had made for my best doll when I was growing up. She had made a whole wardrobe of clothes for her, including a bride dress (!). The veil from that outfit spent more time on little girls' heads than on the doll, but that was fun, too, and they took turns. the girls really enjoyed playing with Cathy's clothes. I'm glad I saved them.

Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs, then we went upstairs to watch a movie. Ashley chose to watch a Christy movie, Ian played a computer game and the others watched Alice in Wonderland. I finally got everyone bedded down around ten. I'll never stop enjoying the sight of five little ones sprawled all over the game room fast asleep in various ridiculous positions. How can they be comfortable all twisted around like that?

They were all up by eight, and Ashley fixed the eggs and I did the sausage and cinnamon toast. Yum! Lots of pink lemonade, made pink by the addition of pomegranate juice, which as we all know, is very healthy and compensates for the fact that there is so much sugar in the lemonade. We sneak those vitamins in any way we can.... ;-)

While they played upstairs, I cleaned up the kitchen and set up for the tea party. I was so amazed at how excited they all were about this, even Ian, who I hadn't expected to want to participate. I brought out my beautiful china tea cups, and he was in there early on to choose the black one with roses on it. Ashley was a great help to set things up. then they all went to collect their dollies and put on their fancy dresses. I had the little china tea sets for the dolls and the real tea cups for the children. I fixed one pot of peach tea and one pot of lemonade. The lemonade won, hands down. I think Eliza was the only one who liked the peach tea. Even the dollies didn't like the tea! But they really enjoyed the miniature Oreos that I found for them. There were also regular size Oreos and chocolate chip cookies for the children.

Ian enjoyed his portion, then left to play a computer game, while the rest of us stayed at the party. At one point, Ashley tapped her cup with her spoon and said, "I have an announcement to make." When she had our attention, she said, "Nonnie, I want to thank you for having this lovely tea party for us." Then she asked the other children to say something. Eliza: "This is really a lovely tea party." Amber: "We forgot to pray. Let's pray." At which point we all joined hands, with dollies in between, and had a brief prayer, emphasizing our request that the Lord would bring Opa home safely. Caroline also tapped her tea cup and shyly said, "Thank you, Nonnie. I love you." Needless to say, Nonnie's heart was filled to overflowing.

After the tea party was over, they all went upstairs to make crowns. A little while later, Caroline came downstairs with hers on her head, skipped around the room and sang, (to the tune of "happy birthday") "Happy tea party to you..."
And a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Anything but the weather

I am trying -- honest! -- to make this blog a weather-free zone for the next few days, so that means even if we've had our eleventh day of 100+ degrees, and even if the bank thermometer said 95 degrees when we whizzed past at 9:45 p.m., I'm not saying anything about it. Whining doesn't help, right? So you didn't hear it from me.

Today started off rockily (is that a word?). My first communication with my husband involved him sharing the news that Ian and Eliza's beloved pets, Agent Fluffy and Snowball, were missing from their pen, with no trace except a few white feathers. Hearing their tears of anguish when he sat them down upon their awakening was almost more than I could bear.

Onward and upward: I read a beautifully illustrated version of Bambi, the original tale, to Caroline this morning, and she was both horrified and fascinated, not letting me stop reading even when the tears glistened unshed in those blueberry eyes. Let's just say that the significance of the sentence "Bambi never saw his mother again," was not lost on her, even the tiniest shred.

So basically, Mother of the Year Award officially coming my way today.

But now the children have been bundled off to their grandmother's house for the night (swimming in the afternoon with cousins; tea party with dolls in the morning), and Tim and I took the unheard-of opportunity to attend a prayer meeting at some friends' house. Man, was it ever refreshing to just get out of my little box for a while! You know, the one where it's all about ME -- how am I doing as a wife and mother, how are MY children doing, what's going on with MY friends, will MY husband get a job before we run out of money, blah blah blah. Well, guess what? God is doing something on this earth, and it's sure a whole lot more momentous than whether my kids ate enough fruits and veggies today and what I should order from the Rainbow Resource catalog!

It was so good to get recalibrated, because tomorrow I have to attend a big hearing with some state legislators who need to see the obvious truth that we Texans should be able to buy and drink whatever kind of milk suits us, wherever and whenever we're willing to pay for it. No matter what Big Agribusiness says. God bless America.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summah Time

It was officially Day One of Summer, and time for a little Fowl Play:

What is it about summer, especially in Texas, that fills me with a strange cocktail of delight and dread? On the sunny side, we have popsicles, kids on the trampoline or bikes after breakfast and dinner, trips to the pool, very relaxed expectations for ourselves. On the dark side, we have a hiatus in our regularly scheduled activities, which means days of absolutely no plans and forbidding heat, which fills me with a quiet panic, especially if it's 3:00 p.m. and we've gone nowhere and even though we've done craft (check!), read-aloud (check!) and game (check!) the day seems endless, as if I'm fording a river of Jell-O. Just, you know, being honest with you.

But in the meantime, lest I leave you on such a doleful note, here are two sweet cupfuls of inspiration to share. Think of them as a glass of iced lemonade, or maybe a chilled bottle of Sweet Leaf Tea Company Mint&Honey Tea. Ahhhh ...

1. Leslee's Story continues to unfold, as they bring their three new children home from Ethiopia. Riveting, wrenching, uplifting -- it's all there.

2. My dearly beloved wrote an incredible post about his nighttime strategy last week. In case you missed it, check it out here and feel free to leave him some bloggy love. That man. He's something else.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Right now ...

- Eliza: splayed out on bed (those ever-lengthening legs!) in satiny pink nightgown among her dolls. Content after a weekend of bonding with attentive houseguests.

- Caroline: crashed on beanbag (the child eschews beds), fresh from a certain party in her honor today, loving her new-to-her bike, slumbering after telling me six times that she loves me.

- Ian: listening to a Return of the Jedi radio dram
a on CD he found at the library while tinkering with Legos in his room with Daddy.

- Daddy: completely cool with delaying his Father's Day celebration until we can give the occasion our full attention.

- Me: Not pregnant or nursing, or both, for the first time in nine and a half years. Roses from my mother-in-law to mark the occasion.

Life is sweet.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Engineering for success

Ian's domineering mother MADE him attend a Children's Museum camp this week, partially for his own mental growth and stimulation and partially for her own sanity, since she functions best when hot, hot summer days with three children in the house aren't completely unstructured. Can you imagine?

Oh, and here's the kicker: This camp lasted for SIX hours a day! Torture for a child who's not used to school, and finds two hours per day (max) of something resembling school work to be egregious. Such a mother! Let's not forget our household motto: No one escapes from Stalag Thirteen!

He did, however, attend the camp with a good friend, and the camp was all about building and programming robots to do super cool things with Lego Mindstorms kits. It amazed me to discover, at today's demonstration, that nine year olds with no previous programming experience could press a button on these little Lego creations and presto! Two robots "sumo wrestling!" Or playing soccer, or fetching a ball, or contributing an attraction to "The Extremely Dangerous Amusement Park." (Ian's creation: The Barbie-Que, in which Barbie and Ken basically become rotisserie meat. As he explained to the audience three times, loudly.)

All in all, quite a success, and I promised I'm not saying that smugly. Interesting aside: On Day One, Ian's friend informed him that because the camp was chosen for him by his (the friend's) mother (whom I do love), and not himself, he (the friend) would be receiving a toy as a reward at the end of the week. (Insert sound of self biting tongue, hard.) Ian's response to his friend? "Well, I think my mom would say that the camp ITSELF is a reward."

People, I think we are on message. Or at least, we're getting there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Don't read this if you LUV Hannah Montana

Here I go, winning friends, influencing people, and probably stepping squarely on some toes with this highly inflammatory post. 

So the thing is, I have daughters. The older one is heading inexorably toward the tween years. And unless you've been living on an ice floe for the past three years, you've probably discovered that American girls of this age seem to live and die by what Hannah Montana is doing or selling at any given moment. You can wear her, blinged out, on your skimpy T-shirt, prevent the onset of preadolescent body odor with Hannah deodorant, fill in your insufficient crown with a Hannah wig, catch Hannah in 3D on the big screen ... the list goes on. 

And let's not forget High School Musical or any of the other teen sensations heavily marketed toward eight year olds these days. 

Call me judgmental, but here's the main value I see being pushed at younger and younger girls:
Your worth (a.k.a. coolness factor) lies in what you can buy, and how you can look. You must be HIP! Sensuality a plus! Singing/dancing ability a bonus!

If HM and the rest are your/your daughter's cup of tea, that's fine, and I don't condemn you. Honest. But the very nature of making decisions about what you want guiding and inspiring your children implies that you find some values and influences more to your liking than others. 

A fellow mom I know through one of our homeschool groups had a dilemma: Her eight year old was crazy about American Girl dolls and books, but felt frustrated at being unable to connect with many of her peers, who were more into the kind of pop culture stuff referenced above. This mom felt that her child deserved to be a child for as long as she wanted, not sacrificing a genuine and healthy interest just to fit in with her peers. 

So she and a few others of us started a club, which met for the first time yesterday. As I may have mentioned a time or two, Eliza's been really getting into the AG books, which we read aloud together and discuss, and the accompanying movies. I feel comfortable with this kind of mental diet, and even with a certain degree of AG-related consumerism, since the stories' themes dovetail with the same kind of values we're working to present to our daughters: the importance of family, of loyalty to friends, of unselfishness, of generosity with people in less fortunate circumstances, of following your heart and conscience when the going gets tough. 

We met with about eight or nine other moms and their daughters at a library meeting room (Ian was at camp). The girls introduced themselves and their dolls (some from American Girl, some from other sources such as Target), had a "tea party" with cookies and lemonade served in one mom's impressive teacup collection, and then made fabric-covered journals inspired by Kit Kittredge's reporter notebook. 

I suggested to Eliza that she use the first page of her book to collect signatures from the other girls present, and she overcame her shyness to do so, which started a flurry of autograph seeking among the girls. It's hard to describe the magic of the moment I saw unfolding before me. Girls from three (Caroline) to thirteen, connecting in their shared excitement over girls like them from the past, passing their dolls around, lending out books, trying their hands with a glue gun, creating an atmosphere in which every single girl felt accepted. 

"I felt like everyone there was my friend," remarked Eliza as we headed back to the car afterward. 

A mother cannot ask for more than that. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Keeping the main thing the main thing

Here's a quirk of mine: I love walking through cemeteries, and I always have. They're quiet, peaceful, burgeoning with secrets and stories at which one can only guess. I love reading the inscriptions on the headstones and wondering about the lives summed up in so few words, and about the ones who chose those words for their departed. 

But here's the thing. In all my rambles, I have NEVER, not a SINGLE time, encountered a headstone to this effect: "She always kept a spotless house." Not once. 

I've also read through the entire Bible several times, and never encountered anything that leads me to believe God particularly cares about how closely our homes resemble an ad for The Container Store. 

Over the years of childbearing and childrearing, I've gradually surrendered many of my perfectionistic standards, although they haven't gone down easily. But this week we get put to the test, with four houseguests coming to stay, two of whom we know and love, and two of whom we're never met (we're helping out with a conference our church in hosting). 

Of course I'm cleaning, decluttering, making sure all the beds have sheets, etc. But in the midst of it, I'm also trying not to lose sight of the main thing, which is an attitude of hospitality. Yielding to the temptation to try to have things JUST SO, I will not only kill my family but also allow resentment to creep in, not to mention a hope that these guests appreciate my efforts. Not good. 

Instead I want to keep the main thing the main thing. People are more important than things. We'll get things as ready as we can. But when it comes down to it, I hope what we really have to offer our guests is a peaceful home and an open heart. Even if there's a smear or two of blue toothpaste on the edge of the bathroom sink. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

She's Amazing

I think we are all a bit in awe of our youngest sister. 

One minute she was tiny, and I, ten years her senior, was changing her diaper, tucking her into pajamas, and rocking her to sleep. 

Another minute later, she had this wispy blonde hair and huge blueberry eyes, and both looked and behaved like a china doll. A china doll who blurred her "r"s most adorably, and I wondered if she'd ever speak like a regular person. 

Next minute, she was suddenly ten and bursting with visceral excitement, hands clasped, face bright red, while presenting Tim and me with her handmade mugs as wedding gifts. 

And then, whaddyaknow, she's grown up, graduating from Harvard after four years of insanely hard work, rowing crew, playing viola in the orchestra, serving with the church youth, being ordered around as an undergraduate research assistant, and learning to accept her role as the family youngest and not to blush so very hard when we tease her, as we are always wont to do. And she went home every single Sunday afternoon to take care of my dad during the night. 

She's going to be a doctor by the time another minute passes, and maybe the M.D./Ph.D. kind at that. She recently had dinner with Rory Stewart, author of the bestseller The Places in Between. She's also dined with the president of Harvard University. She's outdone us all, really, yet she maintains her humility and sweetness in the midst of her intense drive and considerable accomplishments. Case in point: Three days before her graduation, she took the time to dig out her American Girl doll from the attic and take her young nieces to have the doll's hair styled. I bet she had to miss some Special Harvard Events for that. 

She's not really my little sister anymore as she's not only taller than I, but also my intellectual superior. I'm just glad she reads books I recommend and shares her own picks with me. Oh, did I mention she was homeschooled for seven years?

Happy Birthday, Louisa! 

(Here's a little something I made for the kids' scrapbooks in honor of graduation week -- my first fully digital layout! ...)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bearing witness

Friends. My heart is brimming tonight. Pretty much to overflowing. 

I was given the very high honor today of attending the delivery of Sam and Vanessa's baby girl, Aliya Grace. It was so nice to feel that the experience of giving birth three times endowed me with some sort of intuitive sense of what to do when a woman is in labor. I mean, I don't feel like I'm really an expert in anything, but it just meant something to be able to contribute a bit, to lend a hand to a friend accomplishing one of the single greatest feats of womanhood -- of humanity, even. It helped that Vanessa, who did beautifully in labor, is so adept at stating/asking for exactly what she needs. May her daughter be similarly blessed.

Aliya is adorable, with round baby cheeks that beg to be kissed. Photos to follow. 

Then tonight. A short Facebook video. Our dear friend Joanne is fading in body, but not in soul or spirit, and as she sings, and flashes a wide smile at the camera, the life and light inside of her shine unwaveringly. If you're friends with me on Facebook, I think you can see it on my profile now. I suggest a tissue or two. 

New life, just beginning. Indestructible life, never ending. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sweet SIXteen

See this girl?

Really sweet, right? And precious and lovely?

She's also SIX YEARS OLD today. Six years since she emerged into our garden tub while the first birds of dawn greeted the day outside. 

She deserves to feel unequivocally special. So, today's To-Do List:

1. Hang traditional Happy Birthday banner in family room before she wakes up. Check.
2. Cover sleepy face with six birthday kisses when she staggers from room with new American Girl doll (from grandparents). Check.
3. Present special birthday dress. Check.
4. Let siblings present offerings and homemade cards. Check.
5. Make chocolate chip waffles for breakfast. Check, minus the choc chips. (We are out. Bummer.)
6. Let her wear "Birthday Girl" tiara to Bible Camp. Check.
7. Serve with her class during camp, feeling grateful that today's craft project does not involve eleven girls clamoring simultaneously for glue dots. Check.
8. Bring cousins home from camp with us, stopping for lunch at place of her choosing -- P. Terry's. Check. 
9. After "quiet time," take all five children swimming. Try not to panic about letting one or more of them out of my direct line of vision at any given moment. 
10. Pick up BFF (Rhynn).
11. Upon arriving home, present children with Shrinky Dinks to engage their creative pursuits until dinner. 
12. Grill hotdogs for children, grown-up food for parents, uncle, aunt.
13. Bring out pink-frosted gluten-free chocolate cupcakes and a couple more presents.
14. Clean bonus room and prepare to accommodate five girls and one boy.
15. Pop popcorn and insert disc from new American Girl movie collection (Felicity; Samantha; Molly.)
16. As closing credits roll, kiss goodnight and watch all children fall promptly asleep. Mmmhmmm. 

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Shall We Dance?

We just finished participating in a Great American Tradition, which is about 50% about the child and about 50% about parents living vicariously through their offspring. 

It's called The End-of-Year Dance Recital. 

And this is my three year old's sober summation: "I just can't handle so much prettiness."

Eliza and her classmates were beyond adorable, tap dancing un
certainly away in their sparkly costumes on the big, big stage with the bright lights and dark
 audience stretched out before them. I got to watch from the wings, having volunteered to be ... get this ... a BACKSTAGE MOM.

Normally, I'm a bit short of confidence on the kind of skills one might need to be a BSM. I always feel a bit in awe of other mothers (who tend to be older than I; I got a really early start). You know what I mean. The kind in that Neo-to-Go commercial who, at the first squawk on the playground, whip out their handy dandy first-aid kit, because they would never be caught in public without a fully stocked first-aid kit in their handbags. Or even the moms in our homeschool co-op who come up with ten weeks' worth of fascinating material to present to children with short attention spans, and arrive each week with approximately fifty six craft supplies in tow. Yes, Camille, I mean you. 

But today, all those moms? The older ones, who were always chatting away with each other during class about preschool politics (the horrors of parents who do not promptly return emails regarding the end-of-the-year teacher gift!) and who knows what else (what DO they talk about for fifty five minutes straight?)? They were asking ME the questions about what their daughters' precise longitudinal coordinates should be when, and thanking me for bringing extra Q-tips so they could smear scarlet lipstick on those little lips. I even had crayons and coloring pages at the ready. A miracle. The fact that I left the entire bucket of art supplies there? Not so much a miracle.
But really, let's address the chief point of the dance recital. For us, it's all about the cuteness, and the proof that our monthly tuition has produced some demonstrable skills in our daughters. For the girls? It's ALL ABOUT THE MAKEUP. For that one day, all those mysterious treasures of the adult world become theirs. Smoky blue eyeshadow! Bronzing powder! Blush! Lipstick you can see from the back of the auditorium! 

Of course, patient little sisters get their own privileges at home. That's what big sisters are for. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Five

I took a blogging vacation, somewhat involuntarily, since my children and I were at my parents' house in MA all week, helping my baby sister celebrate her graduation from HAHVAHD. (Yes, she is a total slacker. Such wasted potential.) And computer access was quite limited. So. Now I'm back again, and with no plans for travel in the near future, although I do need to re-validate my passport. Just in case I get the itch AND simultaneously win the lottery by finding that golden ticket lying in my driveway.

I have deep and complex feelings about my time in Boston, spending time with with our growing family, including members in various stages of physical decay. My dad is finding the process of breathing more and more of an effort. On the other hand, we discovered that he can still play Memory, simply by telling us which cards to turn over for him, and play it very well. One regret is that I did not get to visit Joanne, a family member who is now under hospice care for peritoneal cancer after a year-and-a-half long fight. But it's hard to put those sentiments into words, especially in a public forum. Maybe they'll simply leak out now and then.

Instead, I give you ...

Five Reasons My Husband is Amazing

1. If this is Too Much Information, avert your eyes. BUT, as background info, you need to know that my husband has this uncanny habit of popping into the bathroom just as I emerge from the shower. "Impeccable Timing!" he crows, very much in touch with his inner thirteen year old. So last Saturday, after that jaunt the kids and I made through Brightleaf, I was toweling off and what does Mr. Peeping Tim find on my back? A TIC!!!! Already UNDER MY SKIN!!!!! Even still, this totally freaks me out. Since he can also channel MacGyver, he ran for a match and somehow singed that baby right out of my epidermis, rescuing me from a life of debilitating Lyme Disease. (I also have 16 chigger bites. If I ever go into the woods again, I'll need a Dharma jumpsuit.)

2. While I was in Boston, he missed his Domestic Goddess (now stop that laughing!) so much that he made homemade yogurt and homemade granola. He just made another batch. The entire house smells like apple crisp. Realtors welcome.

3. He has met someone who knows someone in the engineering department of the University of Hawaii, and is going to work the connection for him. It's a long shot, but STILL. Yes, we would buy a house with a guest room for you and all your favorite relatives.

4. He went to work super early this morning so that he could be with us, watching over our travel-stupefied selves, for the afternoon. That takes commitment. And coffee.

5. The house is relatively clean. 'Nuf said.