Monday, August 31, 2009

Begin the Madness

This week, Steve begins work in a new office, for a new company. So he has to go in to the office every day this week.

This week, school starts. The official start date is Wednesday, but Nick and I will go on a special Kindergarten Only bus ride tomorrow, so we can get used to the bus and meet his teacher. Then on Wednesday Nicholas will ride the bus alone, and I will take Nate to HIS new school.

Gymnastics begins this week, too. Nick and Nate went to their new classes this afternoon. Because of their school schedules, they both have class right when they are used to having nap. They do skip naps every once and awhile, so I was more worried about Andy. But Andy fell asleep at 10 this morning, exhausted from HIS gymnastics class - one I do with him. So he was wide awake and in a good mood while we waited. And by the way, he loved gymnastics. He jumped right in, jumping, climbing, and just having the best time.

It's funny that, technically, I'm not starting anything. But I'm more exhausted than everyone else put together.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Heart

Sometimes I look at my kids and realize how big they are, and it breaks my heart. I still think of them as little kids and I still think it's funny when Nick says "When I was a kid..."

I never think about how little Andrew or Nathan seem to Nick, or how big Nate or Nick must seem to Andy.

This morning they woke up too early, so I went in and sat on Nate's bed while they played. Andrew walked up to Nicholas and held up his arms. "Up!"

The funny thing was, Nick actually picked him up.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Full Hands

This video has nothing to do with the rest of this post. But it is funny, in a way, if you watch it to the end.

I joined the pool at the nearby Holiday Inn. It's a way to encourage the boys to learn to swim without taking actual swim lessons which are A) costly B) a mere 40 minutes a week and C) crowded with lots of other kids who also need the teacher's attention. I can swim. The kids love the water. Eventually they will learn, as long as I can motivate to get there at least once a week.

We went this afternoon. Getting in the pool is an ordeal, but getting out is a tragedy. No matter how I try to fix it, I'm always naked in the locker room with one kid stomping his dry clothes into a puddle on the floor, one crying because he wasn't dry before putting his underpants on and now they are rolled up and stuck halfway up his thighs, and one kid who is fully dressed and telling me he'll "wait out by the pool!" There is usually crying and yelling involved.

Today, after wrapping it all up and exiting the locker room into the sauna of the pool room, we were all silent and tired, and the boys held my hands and did well, except for the one time Nate slipped and accidentally almost pushed Nick into the pool.

I passed the only other adult at the pool. She looked at me and smiled. "You have your hands full!" she said.

I smiled and nodded and said "Yes, I do!" Because that's more polite than saying "Don't you think I KNOW THAT?"

And as we rounded the corner Nick very loudly asked "Mom, why do ladies always tell you you have full hands?"

Hmmm. Why DO they, now that you mention it?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

non sequitur

After the older boys woke up from nap, we started talking about which room we were going to pitch their play tents in and install the huge mega ride-on train that we still have but that I keep in the basement most of the time because it is mega and huge.

Nick: It should be in the living room

Me: Yes, but then Andy might use it early in the morning before everyone is awake, and it would be a problem if someone wanted to watch TV.

Nick: We could put it in my room!

Me: No, because no one would get any sleep. I could push back the dining room table and you guys could ride the train in there.

Nick: Um, yeah, but I don't like that.

Me: Nate, what do you think?

Nate: Tomorrow, I'm gonna have an orange one.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

To Market To Market

When I was a kid I HATED going to the grocery store with my mother. It wasn't her. At least, not until I was a teenager and became hideous. No, she had a difficult job. She was shopping for seven to ten people. She sometimes ended up with three carts full of food. And a trip often meant being send back to aisles we'd already covered for items she had forgotten or didn't know we needed.

And every time she went we ran into someone she knew. "Hello, Jean!" They'd say. And suddenly they were talking about people I didn't know and didn't care about and chatty chatty chatty and the thing is (sorry Mom!) I knew my mother hated it, too. And more than once, after we walked away and I had asked "WHO was THAT?" in a rude way, she would say "I have no idea."

I rarely run into people I know at the grocery store. For one thing, I shop weekday mornings, when many people work. I also shop at a store one town over, because I like it there better. Finally, I just don't know that many people.

Today we came back from visiting Lillian at the beach place she and her sister rented. I was so tired. I was so tired that on the drive home I kept reminding myself that I was awake. But when we got home I still had to throw sandy clothes into the wash and go grocery shopping so that we could eat. So I dragged the boys to our usual grocery store one town over.

And wouldn't you know it, we ran into TWO somebodies. First was the parent of a child in Nate's class. "How are you?" she asked, har hand on her cart. "Fine!" I said, shoving a barefoot Andrew back into the car cart and trying not to react as Nathan spilled Rice Krispies all over the floor. And then... we chatted.

And it was a little nice, just as it was when we later ran into Nick and Nate's old teacher. But I had to wonder, did it have to be on a day when I was falling apart? And the kids were bouncing all over and spilling things? And I forgot to brush my hair? Maybe I dreamed it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fleen Goin Green

I have a new blog.

Don't worry, don't worry, it won't keep me from writing on THIS blog... I hope.

People blog in different ways, for different reasons. Among The Savages (otherwise known as "Kathleen's Blog" or "Your Blog") is primarily about my life, my raising three boys in New Hampshire and cleaning my house. But probably mostly about my kids. The point being that my family lives apart from me and this is a way that I can bore them with minute details while posting pictures of my kids so that everyone can see how they are growing.

But other people have more focused blogs. Like Susan, for example, who is still posting about her weight loss journey. I urge you to go there and check it out if you haven't already. It is very inspiring. In fact, she is part of the inspiration for my new blog.

No, I'm not posting about weight loss, or my exercise log, or my diet.

I'm posting about going green.

When I was a kid, not polluting meant picking up your trash after a picnic, but these days not polluting involves what you eat AT the picnic, where it was grown, how it was grown, how it was packaged. It involves what you use as silverware, the plates. It involves the linen - the picnic blanket itself, what is it made of? And transportation? How did we get there - the bus? Did we walk, bike? Tell me we didn't take that SUV! PLEASE! SOMEbody think of the CHILDREN!

Anyway, I've been thinking about this for some time. And I've been taking tiny steps. Baby steps. And I think I've accomplished a lot (pat self on back.) But I still have a ways to go. There is still a lot I want to do and change. And this new blog will document my changes, my challenges, and will, I hope, be a place where people can either get ideas on things they can do, or where (please please please) they can give me new ideas and things that I can try.

So please stop by. I probably will not be posting there as often as I do here. But I really would appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Official Excuse

I am bad at keeping up with my yard. I won't say 'garden' because there are no flowers this year, not since the tulips died (and I love the tulips, how I planted them three years ago and how they keep popping up in the spring, more and more of them each time.)

See, when I weed and trim the hedges in the spring I think "There! I've done it!" and I cross it off my list. Because it takes me three weeks to get it all done, and I have other things to DO with my LIFE for goodness sakes! I can't, just CAN NOT go out there every three days and yank the same stupid weeds from the same stupid beds. I can't keep clipping the hedge back! Not when I find myself running after the baby every two minutes to keep him from running into the street, and all while I'm carrying these huge pointy sharp clippers!

So needless to say, while I'm basking in a task well done and stuffing myself with bonbons and gin and tonics by our pool, the weeds grow. And one day I pull into the driveway and wonder when the jungle plants took over the front of our house.

Yesterday I finally went out to weed and clip, huge clippers in hand. I started out well. I was on a roll. I yanked out clumps of the grass that rooted itself there last year. I took down something that had grown taller me. And then I started clipping.

And then I noticed that there were a lot of bees flying around me suddenly.

And then I saw this six inches from my hand.

It was scary. I screamed and yelled at the kids to "Get Inside! NOW NATHAN!" While more and more of the buzzy beasts poured out of the nest. And twenty minutes later I went out, picked up my clippers, and put them away. No more yardwork for now.

But really, it IS a good excuse, is it not?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Foolish Me

Remember how upset I was that the battery charger didn't work for my camera battery?

Well... I was wrong. It does. I just didn't know how to put the battery in. Ha! Hahaha.



Friday, August 21, 2009

End Of The Summer

It is not, actually, the end of the summer. In fact, here in New England, the summer has just begun. The problem is that we have set our calendars and our internal clocks to have this be "Back To School Time." It is supposed to be fall. Leaves are supposed to fall, the air crisp itself, and sweaters and cute plaid skirts emerge from the closet.

But things don't work that way, do they? No, instead, the seasons have shifted. "Summer" as in hot, humid, shorts and T-shirt weather lasts until about October, which is when the leaves really fall and the air crisps. And snow, heavy snow, won't really be expected until January, despite the "White Christmas" songs and tales of early storms.

Sure, Nature surprises. But sometimes I feel as though we expect it to conform to the grid I have posted on my kitchen wall. Pools ALWAYS close in mid-August, they say. Even though the heat and humidity waited until them to show up. And just try buying a cute summer outfit right now. No - this is the time to stock up on sweaters and boots, even though the thought is making me ill because I am so overheated.

I do have to say that I'm looking forward to the start of school. I have been planning, anticipating the details, plotting ways to make things run smoothly - which kid gets picked up first, which day is best for gymnastics, the library, food shopping, the pool, how to get Nick fed and dressed and at the bus stop by 7:50 AM...

Watching Nick get on that bus. THAT is going to be hard. Summer won't be the only thing that's over.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I had a dentist appointment today.

I've posted about my dentist before, but for those that haven't read those entries, let me explain. I found my dentist online while working in Cambridge, when my insurance changed, and I wanted something closer to home. He practices in this little town, in the middle of practically nowhere, in a huge farmhouse. He has no receptionist, or hygienist, it's just him. The waiting room looks like a living room from 1972, except for the large desk and the signs talking about payment. The first time I saw him I sat in the chair and suddenly thought about how my body would be found in the woods years from now...

But I like my dentist. There is no wait. I show up, he's usually ready to go. He gets right to it. I never have to "wait for the dentist" after my teeth are cleaned. Twenty minutes, tops. And he doesn't go on and on about how I need a root canal or gum grafts and such. If I need to do a better job brushing or flossing, he'll say so.

I really hate people poking around in my mouth, so I'm just as happy having it over with quickly. Although if I ever actually need a tooth pulled or need a root canal I may choose one of those places with more people in waiting rooms with a doctor too important to learn your name before putting a hand in your mouth.

But usually, I go alone.

Today, I took my three kids with me.

To make matter a bit worse, and I'm sorry because this is TMI (Too Much Information, Mom) but I kind of had to pee. Only I didn't want to make a big production of bringing the kids in with me, or not, so I just decided to wait.

I'm there, in the dentist chair, kinda needing to pee, with a guy scraping my teeth, listening to my three kids start to argue about the toy that's in the waiting room. I could not have been more uncomfortable.

But then the kids worked it out without tears, and I was finished soon with "Look, Mom! No cavities!" So I guess it wasn't THAT bad.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Bad Day.

Andy got up at 4:30, and I think that set the tone of the day for me. We spent the first part of the day at the beach, and that was fine. It didn't get REALLY bad until I got home and had to go grocery shopping. The boys were loud and cried. I forgot to get Steve gum, which was the only thing he asked me for. Then I got the battery charger for my camera, but it is the wrong one. Everything I'm doing seems to be wrong, and I am bursting into tears for no reason, and sometimes when I hear a really sad TV commercial jingle. Which is how I know this is all because I am too tired. So I'm just going to have to get back to you all tomorrow.

Love, Kathleen

Sunday, August 16, 2009


We got new shoes.

And by we, I mean the kids. I actually bought myself a new pair of sneakers to replace my old stinky ones, but they aren't as exciting as the ones the boys got.

Nate got Cookie Monster sneakers. He started talking about these sneakers before we left for the mall. They have pictures of Cookie Monster on them.

Andy got Ernie and Bert sneakers. One has Ernie, the other... Bert. Or, "Nenei" and "Meht" if you happen to be Andy.

Nicholas... despite all the Sesame Street sneakers at Kids Foot Locker... chose black Chuck Taylors. Black converse high tops. Which he is still very excited about.

The monster shoes are cute. The high tops.... make me sad. Because they make Nick look like a big kid.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Frank's Gift

Frank is our cat. One of our cats. He is orange. He drools and sounds like a pigeon when he purrs. He likes to sleep on our bed, even if it means getting kicked many times. He will simply cling to the blanket and pretend all is well.

Just after I put lunch on the table, Gunther started barking. This isn't unusual - Gunther barks at every neighbor that has the audacity to drive a car in or out of their own drives, at every jogger or walker that passes by, and at every truck that drives through our neighborhood, even if it doesn't come anywhere near our HOUSE. But this time Gunther was barking at Frank.

Frank was outside, on the deck, asking to be let in by scratching the glass door and meowing silently. But when I went over to let him in I realized that... Gunther wasn't actually barking at FRANK. What he was REALLY barking at was the thing that Frank and just dropped a centimeter from the door to the porch. A small, furry, dead.... something.

Actually, not so small. Not a mouse. Bigger than my fist. A mole or a vole. I didn't want to look to closely.

I don't remember screaming, but Nick looked at me and said "Mom, why did you make that noise?" And I realized that I was going to have to be very, very brave. Because Steve was not home. And if I didn't clean it up, Gunther was going to eat it.

Once I tried to carry a dead furry thing to the bushes from our house, but I only got halfway there with the thing resting in a pile of paper towels before the weight of it in my hand became too much and I screamed and waved my hand and danced around as if I had just discovered it there, suddenly appearing in my wad of paper towels.

So I took a different approach. "Stay here!" I ordered the boys. Then I walked across the kitchen and out the door to the garage, so I wouldn't have to step OVER it. In the garage, I found what I was looking for - the snow shovel. I then opened the garage door and walked around the house and up the porch steps to the dead furry thing.

All three of the boys were standing at the door, their noses pressed against the glass. It actually took a couple of tries to get the dead thing on the shovel because I didn't want to SMOOSH it, and it kept moving and flipping over, leaving little dots of blood on the deck. But finally I got it. I then walked down the steps the the backyard, and then over to the bushes, where I flung the dead thinginto the brush (which has so nicely sprouted up from where I cut it back this spring.)

I wiped blood off the snow shovel and hung it up, and then went back into the kitchen, where the boys were standing, staring at me while Gunther tried to eat their chicken nuggets.

I was proud of myself, but I guess I wasn't as sturdy and calm as I thought. "Mom," Nick asked later, "why were you crying out there?"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Please, Weight....

I have a new link in my sidebar.

When I was in Florida this spring, I found myself talking with my sister and my brother about our weights. My brother and I were telling my sister how amazing she looked, and how incredibly skinny. And my sister said something... I don't remember exactly... but she mentioned that she refused to let herself weight any more than XXX pounds.

And my first thought was "Dude - that's my goal weight. That's what I've been trying to get down to since before my first pregnancy!"

So... I know that I am not huge, and I do love my body and my curves (except my tummy) and all that stuff. But I also know that I like being in shape and that I could stand to loose a few. In my case it's more about eating less cookies, but... you know. Cookies - who can say no?

So, in case you haven't noticed, I have a new link in my sidebar. Susan is someone very dear to me who is willing to share her weight loss journey, and if you're trying to loose any weight at all, or maybe even trying not to gain, she might be going through the same kind of things you are. Drop by her site and see what she has to say!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Time Is On Your Side

I have ordered the battery charger for my phone. When I have good pictures (or even bad ones) I can think of things to write here. But sometimes... I guess I just think "who would want to read this if there isn't a visual aid / distraction?"

The good news is, I am actually getting things done. I am filling out paperwork for pre-school. I am returning books to the library. I am ordering battery chargers. All that fun stuff.

so just a few more days, folks, and cute photos can be viewed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It Is Hot

It is so hot today. I made absolutely no effort to take the kids out of the house, unless you count the phone call I tried to make to the Pool, to see if it was open (they had closed it.) But the phone number seems not to be working, so I couldn't get through.

It's the first really uncomfortable day of heat. In August. Just as I'm thinking that I'm late with the back-to-school shopping.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Crazy Train

Today I took the kids on a spur of the moment trip to Canobie Lake Park. We got very wet, spent a lot of money on food, and Nick and Nate both won very large stuffed animals, one of which was larger than Andy with five time the head size and ended up taking the stroller because there was no other way to carry the stupid thing.

I am tired and going to bed now.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Stop The World... etc.

Last night I spent my first night on the boat.

Note To Self - Sleeping on the boat after a lobster and two green apple martinis is NOT a good idea. I couldn't stay below deck, and had to sleep outside. It was very cold. But the sunset / sunrise was amazing!

The only thing is, I've been off the boat 12 hours already and the world is still bobbing up and down like waves. And since I'm tired from my restless night.... this little post is all I can eek out.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Fishy Fishy

We have a boat. The day after we got home from Tennessee, Steve took Nick and Nate fishing on the boat. I wasn't there, but they all seemed to have fun. No one caught anything except Nick, who managed to somehow catch 4 skate, which is are a little bit like sting ray.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Diego In Tennessee

This trip to Franklin I noticed that the playground we visit has a trail leading to a civil war fort. Or at least the place on the hill where the civil war fort once stood. And a trench around it. And since I was curious, I forced Jamie and the boys to go hiking with me one morning, in between rainstorms. It was very, very wet and muddy, and also very humid. After about ten steps into the woods Nathan practically shouted "This must be the rainforest!"

I managed to ruin my sneakers by getting them so soaked they didn't dry for four days.

It wasn't too long a hike, but it was so wet and such an ordeal getting the boys to walk without falling or bumping or pushing that we were exhausted. I took off my sneakers and we let the boys play at the playground until we just couldn't stand it anymore and piled them into the car so we could go to lunch.

Only we then checked the clock and discovered it was only 9:45. AM.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

New Things

Over five years ago, when Lillian offered to purchase our crib, I chose one that could be changed to a toddler bed. How ideal, I thought. Although I had no idea when that transition would take place. How long does a child stay in a crib? I guess the answer is... it depends. At least according to our pediatrician. Some children stay in their cribs until they are past 3 years old. These must be the same kids who learn to climb stairs at age four and sit in strollers until they are six. But my kids usually climb out somewhere at 18 months, and while this doesn't mean I HAVE to get them out of the crib, the threat of small broken limbs is definitely a motivator.

But in our house, there was usually another baby on the way at this point. So both Nick and Nate went right to big boy beds. Nobody knew how much use that crib would actually get.

Today, for the first time, the crib was reconfigured into a toddler bed. Not that it will keep him in or out - I'll still wake up at 2am to find him next to me. But it will keep him a little bit safer. And Andy, who is very happy and maybe even proud, is sleeping there as I type.

Also, I think I left the battery charger to my camera battery in Tennessee, so until I can order a new one and recharge, you'll be getting whatever I have.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Historic Town

No trip to Franklin would be complete without a visit to, of course, Ben and Jerry's. Never mind that we could drive to the actual factory in Vermont in a few hours, we had to go to Tennessee.

Seriously, Franklin has a lot of History, due to being the site of a battle during the Civil War. Read "The Widow Of The South" which takes place in Franklin, and you'll see what I mean. Lots of boys died, and there is a graveyard, and the famous Carter House, to prove it. But the Carter House looks downright shabby when compared to some of the grand homes we drove by - huge porches and gables and columns and trees... And the folks in the downtown area like to prove that the town is grand by keeping open a number of pricey and interesting shops. Like that soap store that makes it in the shape of food. And the toy store with really sure toys... and the second hand, the boutiques, the craft shoppes...

I took the boys into a craft shop so I could peek at some handmade quilts, and the lady there asked if she could give them crackers and jam... which they eagerly ate, and then walked over to me with their sticky fingers. "Mom! What are you looking at?!" Oh, just a quilt that costs more than you STEP AWAY WITH THOSE JAMMY HANDS!

Also, in case you were wondering, taking Aunt Betty to a Pizza Place called "The Mellow Mushroom" might be a little awkward.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Travel With Children

Kids are... interesting.

I can't remember all of the crazy things the kids said and did on our trip down. Sure, Nick did ask me how I felt sleeping with no pillow on the way down. "Because there are three pillows, and I like sleeping with three pillows. So how about I sleep with three pillows, and you sleep with no pillows. Is that OK?" And Nate cartwheeled off the bench in Cici's Pizza for no apparent reason except the floor was acting as a head-magnet.

And there was also the horrible, horrifying day we went to visit Mary's grave, where we got out of the car and then Nick threw up all over the drive - we hope none of the people at the funeral (including the military guard) noticed.

Here are a few rules for myself, if I even forget and decide to do this again:

- Do not forget the sip cups.

- You are driving. It's OK to bring extra pants for the boys.

- No matter how long you spend at a rest stop, one of the kids will have to pee ten minutes after you start driving. Bring a big cup.

- If you pack snacks and bring fruit, throw it out after the first day.

- Order the boys happy meals if you must, but don't order anything for yourself. You aren't really hungry, and the boys will not eat their happy meals, they just want the toy. You can eat the cheeseburgers when they run off to the huge gerbil tubes.

- It's OK to drink soda, but switch to decaf after 3pm so you will get a good night's sleep. The same for the boys.

- Do not go hiking in your sneakers in the wet grass the day before you leave, because your sneakers will still be wet and it will make the car smell like a giant wet sneaker.

The End.


Monday, August 03, 2009

Opry Mills

As much as I love visiting in the house in Franklin, there is only so much time three little boys can spend sitting still. Eventually, they need to get out and run around the yard, or be taken to the park. Since the weather was rainy a lot of the time during our trip (and almost every second Jamie spent behind the wheel) I took us all to the Opry Mills Mall. Well, not Aunt Betty, because she was tired.

I know. I know. The mall. But hey, this is not a small mall. It's got really, really high ceilings and huge stores. The food court not only has a carousel, but a rope challenge! I thought Andy would have trouble with that, though.

Then we visited the Stingray Reef, where we paid money to touch stingrays. Really. There was this huge swimming pool full of stingrays. The very tip of it was limited to baby stingrays, and we were allowed to pet the baby stingrays. I touched one. I even made my boys touch them. Because we were there, and the stingrays were there. But Jamie refused. Did you know he's afraid of fish? He is. It's funny.
I also paid $2 for "Stingray food" which turned out to be three peices of shrimp, which I was supposed to hold between my fingers while allowing a full grown stingray to envelop my arm. I tried. But those suckers and as big as bathtubs. I closed my eyes, but even so, I felt the fleshy wing of one on my arm and I couldn't help thinking my whole hand was going to disappear. So I screamed and yanked my arm back. One of the employees came over to show me how easy it was, and she held out the shrimp, and the stingray bit her! And she was bleeding. Ha! So we rode the carousel that belonged to the Stingray Reef,

and then moved over to have lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant next door.

While we were there, Jamie pointed out that a stingray killed Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, and that I had taken the word of a ten-year-old stranger that the stingers had been removed. I must have lost my mind.

It was fun. I had a great time. I think the boys (including Jamie) did, too.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Reason for the Thing

One of the questions I am asked when I have imaginary interviews in my head is "Kathleen, why do you insist on dragging your young boys to Franklin, Tennessee once or twice a year, especially when it is so far away, and so difficult to spell?" To which I reply "I have an aunt living in Franklin, and try spelling Albuquerque."

I don't get to see my Aunt Betty very often, but I think about her a lot, and I wish we lived closer. I only drive down because flying is so expensive and unreliable. I'd rather know I'm going to spend two days in a car and then spend two days in the car than think I'm going to take a three hour flight and then spend eight hours on a runway only to disembark and fly to Detroit and then fly to Charlotte before finally making it to Nashville with no more diapers or juice and also they sent my bags to Fargo.

This trip would not have been possible without Jamie. When I sent the message out to my brothers and sisters asking if they wanted to join me I fully expected a chorus of NO's. But Jamie said "OK!" in that way that only Jamie can. He was great! THANKS, JAMIE!

Betty is fine. The trip was really great. The worst part was after we dropped Jamie off, when it took us six more hours to get home. Where were all these people going at noon on Saturday? The Cape? Also, our navigation system was overcome with a burning desire to see Chattanooga on our trip home, and we took a few wrong turns before we figured it out.

I'll post more photos soon.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My Own Home

When we were kids coming home from vacation, the first thing my brothers and sisters and I would do was run around the house to look at each room. There was a funny feeling. Everything looked so odd and so familiar at the same time, as though there were some alternate reality and we were visitors in our own home.

That's where I am right now. In the "visitor in my own home, familiarly disoritented" stage. But I am back, and I do have photographs, and stories, and new adventures to share with you!

Gosh, I hope people still check in here.