The Puppy and the Panther

Yes, I know I should be talking about my boys here, but hang on. We’ll get back to the humans next week.

In two weeks time, Salem has conditioned Major not to cross his path. The cat will perch on whatever piece of furniture he can in order to look down upon the rambunctious eight-week-old puppy. He watches the dog with keen, steady eyes and when Major finally notices that he’s been watched, he’ll stop, stare back for a few seconds and then back up slowly. Essentially, when Major locks eyes with Salem, he backs away to give Sir his space.

When they’re outside, it looks like this:


There have been a few occasions when the pair have been within a few inches from each other and all was well. Salem is always aware, Major not so much, and I’m eyeballing the whole thing to make sure the 16-pound panther doesn’t skin the eight-pound puppy with one fell swoop.

So far, so good. And then, this morning happened on my lap:


sleeping together

Yay for progress! Happy Weekend!

Five seconds of peace

It was quiet for a smidgen of a minute this morning during school. I had to capture it so this would be what I remember from our puppy days.Peace for five secondsIt’s cold and rainy today, which is no fun for taking a dog outside to pee every 20 minutes, but ideal for watching movies and snuggling on the couch. Cheers to another pot of coffee and a wonderful weekend to you.

Cough, cough, sniff

Open mouth, insert foot. I bragged to three people this week about how our family rarely gets sick. We’ve never had the flu shot and have never gotten the flu. (Actually, the ONE year Chuck got the flu shot, he got the flu. But anyway…) We’ve been in a variety of social circles over the past two weeks, so there’s no telling whether or not we picked up a bug.

But I’m coughing a bit, and Chuck’s coughed a bit, and now I’m thinking – OH CRAP. We have plans tomorrow night that I want to keep, so we better sure as HECK be well enough to go. I’ve rested and drank several doses of Emergen-C in an attempt to keep things at bay. Please, please, pretty please, dear Lord, let us not get sick.

Meanwhile, most of the Christmas decorations are down and we are ready to ring in 2013.

To start your weekend, here are some leftovers from the week:

The Millers


My son Tony Stark

Love thy kitty



If I could clone days like yesterday, I totally would. I had two happy, eager students who didn’t fight with each other and even ASKED me to continue reading aloud our current astronomy chapter on space rocks. (Comets are super exciting!) They finished their math efficiently and correctly, and for the win, they worked together on a crossword puzzle. Mine eyes have seen the glory of two brothers working in harmony.

Furthermore, they built a Lego city together last night with only mild bickering. Shock of all shocks. I assume our day of troubles was a necessary reset.

Part of me wonders if they were super sweet yesterday because Timmy was watching them from the bookshelf.

Timmy in a cup

Creepy Timmy watches everything.

Tea Pot Timmy

By the time school was over the boys had put on their costumes (Jackson as Captain America and Jeremy as a ninja) and ran outside to play. The school room/library/office had been abandoned, which left a quiet space for Salem to stretch out and relax. He usually hangs with us throughout the morning but he spent much of yesterday in hiding. I suppose he felt the tension of the week and didn’t want to participate.

Smart man.

Abandoned schoolroomHappy Weekend to you, and welcome, Butch Jones, to Vol Nation! All eyes are on you.

A Day of Testing

Nobody told me there’d be a test, but I suppose there has to be. How else will you find out if you are parenting correctly? It’s only 11:50 a.m. and I’ve already taken a handful of tests, failing two of them, I’m sure.

The only child who’s being perfectly fantastic today is the furry black one. I think the brass fixtures bring out the gold in Salem’s eyes, don’t you? I love that he doesn’t talk back or whine or argue. And when he gets sassy, I throw him outside.

SinkingKnow this: I love my boys. I INSANELY ADORE THEM. They are EXACTLY what I wanted.

HOWEVER, if you see me running for the hills later this afternoon, you will know they’ve won. Send help.

Halloween and Birthday Prep

We only just bought Jeremy’s Halloween costume over the weekend, and the pumpkin we picked two weekends ago still hasn’t been carved. What up with that? I don’t have a good explanation for our lackadaisical holiday planning, but I hope we’ll get it together by Wednesday. It’s Salem’s seventh birthday, after all.

Doesn’t he look so excited about all the attention coming his way? That really is his happy face.

School has been particularly prickly as of late. We’re on the cusp of holiday season, which easily translates to “vacation” and “sleeping in” and “taking a break” from school. It is requiring all of my willpower to continue on with our lessons and keep the boys afloat. If they had their way, Jeremy would melt in front of the television for a Star Wars marathon and Jackson would roll play Ironman with the Avengers theme song set on repeat. (How do I know this? Because that’s how Jack spent most of the weekend. It was like having a teenager in the house. I finally had to tell him to turn it down and then turn it off. You can only hear Soundgarden’s “Live to Rise” so many times before you want to stab yourself in the ears.)

The Best Month

Welcome, October! You are loved in this house.

The boys are already talking about Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating plans, but I’m having none of that just yet because I plan to enjoy all the other 30 days of October first. Yesterday I brought out the ceramic and blown-glass pumpkins from the holiday containers, as well as the faux autumn leaf garland and pumpkin spiced candles. Fall is here, and I’m not going to wish it away so fast just to get to Halloween.

This truly is the best month to be in east Tennessee. Spring time is a close second, but there is nothing like watching ripe green summer leaves turn every shade of orange, red and yellow.  The temperatures are perfect for open windows, evenings on the front porch and star gazing. (Camping trip to come!)

Halloween will certainly be celebrated, especially because our favorite feline will turn another year older and we wouldn’t miss an opportunity to spoil him rotten.  Of course, we don’t know Salem’s real birthday, but October 31 seemed appropriate, so I declared it as such.
But first, there is much to do in the way of visiting pumpkin patches and getting lost in corn mazes. There’s also an anniversary to celebrate (12 years!), friends to visit, and a slew of great football games to watch. Happy Best Month of the Year! Let’s celebrate with a new bag of candy corn, shall we?

Ninth Birthday Round-up

We’ll move on from Jeremy’s birthday after today, but I couldn’t move on until I’d shared these pictures with you.

He was super thrilled about the new bike!

Another great gift was a pair of tickets to the Tennessee football game Saturday night. They were free and entirely unexpected! It was Jeremy’s first college football game in Neyland Stadium. Thank the sweet Lord the Vols won.

As you already know, Jeremy also received a black Webkinz cat, and Salem got to meet the stuffed animal for the first time through the patio door. Per usual, he’s unimpressed, because in his mind, there can only be one.

Salem resumes his spot.

When we started homeschooling last year, the boys and I got a kick out of Salem’s insisting upon sitting with us. Specifically, he required a spot directly on top of Jeremy’s school work, as seen here.

Well, it’s a new year but not much has changed. As expected, Salem resumed his spot on Jeremy’s math sheet.

Happy Weekend to you all. Keep me in mind as I travel to D.C. for Girls Weekend Summer 2012. See you soon, ladies!


Last year I bought a black tinsel-covered cat for a Halloween decoration, but in some sort of redneck way I’ve kept it out all year. I get so tickled when Salem pays him a visit.

I know some of you are saying, “OH MY GOODNESS you’re just like your mom!” But Mom and I both know these pictures are cute.

The first week of school is moving along smoothly. We spent most of Tuesday at the zoo for science classes. The boys learned about states of matter, molecules and how various animals use matter. (For example, did you know that chinchillas don’t like water? They clean their fur with dirt.) The jury is still out on whether or not Jackson will take every class this semester. His interest level was minimal, but part of that is because some of the other children were distracting. Towards the end of the class, he came to me asking for a book to read. Oh, how I adore that!

Jeremy, on the other hand, loved it. He has a big heart for animals and is very good about retaining what he learns. The older kids were able to take a mini-tour of a few exhibits and visit the animals they talked about in class.

At home, our subjects have gotten off to a solid start. The boys aren’t arguing about assignments yet, so keep your fingers crossed this lasts for at least another week. It’s enjoyable when everyone’s attitude is positive.

Happy Friday!

May your weekend be filled with lots of hot tubbing.

I, on the other hand, will be catching up on sleep, because apparently I cannot dress myself anymore.


Welcome, Rain.

Miraculously the 100-degree temperatures broke and rain has been pouring steadily all morning. This is after a few rounds of scary thunderstorms with lightning on Monday and Tuesday. It is almost reminiscent of autumn weather, which makes me want to do cartwheels down the driveway.

The rain presents one little problem, though, for the cat who likes to prowl around outside.

Salem didn’t think this was funny, but we sure did.

“Do you think he wants to come inside?” asked Jeremy.

Oh, I’m sure of it.

Rest assured, His Majesty is relaxing comfortably in the library now while giving me the stink eye.

My side of the library

We finished the shelving and other touches on my side of the library this weekend, so I finally feel like I can leave this room alone and go on to other things. Last week I showed you the homeschool side.

This side is mine:

Finishing this room was such a fun little chore. Most of these treasures were already mine, but I found a few deals around town in the last couple of months while anticipating this room. The lamp was a five-dollar find at the Habitat ReStore, as was my desk (which is only partly shown in the bottom righthand corner). The green rug on the floor was $20 at Ross and the yellow plate on the top shelf was fifty cents at a thrift shop.

With three desks and plenty of floorspace, this will be a wonderful homeschool room for us in the fall. Originally I thought we’d all need separate space but as it turns out they need my attention quite regularly, so being in the same room will work just fine.

Our mascot has already been enjoying it.

Dead Mouse, Dead Birds

We are animals lovers here, so when a strong storm knocked two baby bird eggs out of the nest last week, we were heartbroken for the mama. In fact, we’d been watching her for  nearly two weeks as she lovingly kept her babies warm. Jeremy was especially sad, as his heart is so tender towards animals. The homeschooling mom in me thought, “We should dissect them!” But in the end, I couldn’t do it.

How we’ll get through Biology, I don’t know.

Also, Salem is back to hunting. All the victims have been mice until this morning when he flung a dead cardinal on the back deck. Watch out, critters! You don’t stand a chance against the the big black panther.

He’s always watching.

Fill your Dog Tank

I don’t know this dog’s name, but he lives across the street and makes regular rounds of salutations to neighbors. He’s super friendly, and when we’re outside I encourage the boys to pet and love on him in hopes of filling their empty Dog Tank. It works well.

The only one who disapproves is you-know-who.

The weather is absolutely lovely this morning, but it looks like rain is coming, so we’re off to the mountains for a quick romp around the river rocks beforehand. Grab your galoshes, boys!

May your three-day weekend be this cozy.

Seriously, could Salem’s life be any sweeter?

This morning the windows are open to let in the fresh spring-like breeze. Chirping birds were my alarm clock and the daffodils in our yard have bloomed. It’s about to get breathtakingly beautiful here. Springtime in east Tennessee is as magical as autumn, which means my camera will be well-used. Just wait and see.

Happy weekend – xoxo

It’s not Math Time, it’s Nap Time.

I pretend like Salem’s little intrusions bother me, but they really don’t. He’s so stinkin’ cute I can’t stand it.

The weekend was suuuuper busy, but it was all fun and good times. Friday night was dinner, drinks, movies and games at the Pritchard’s house, then Saturday was a trip to the Mast Store and dinner at Hot Rods. (Mom and Dad, we should’ve eaten there when you were here at Christmas. Mental note for next time!) Sunday involved a seven-mile run with Jeremy alongside on his bike and then we attended a Super Bowl gathering last night. I’m pooped! And Jackson has a cough.

All of this means that we’re building a little life here in our new hometown. We’re finding our favorite spots to eat and play and great people with which to spend time. We’re settling in, which feels timely and comfortable. In keeping with our transient selves, we can’t stay settled for too long, which is why we’ve started a modest house search. (Read: loose and non-commital) We both like the house we’re renting, but it’s time to  buy something of our own again and try to stay still for a little while. The “modest search” is to make sure we’re not missing out on a great deal or settling for a house we like “pretty well.” After all, there could be acreage we don’t know about, which would be a shame to miss.

I wonder if this counts for school.

There’s a “Pass and Play” option on Words with Friends, which means two people (or one mother versus her two sons) can play each other without needing the internet. I said I wouldn’t take it easy on them, but they insisted on playing me anyway.

Once I was more than one hundred points ahead of them, they asked Salem for help. He had nothing.

A School Intruder and a Birthday

Just as we start school, he lays down right on top of Jeremy’s Explode the Code notebook. Naturally.

So we decide to see how he likes it when our stuff is on top of him.

He cared not.

In other news, Saturday was Chuck’s birthday. When Jackson asked me why Darth Vader was on Daddy’s birthday banner, I quietly answered in my best James Earl Jones voice, “Because he is your father.”


He Who Oversees

I’m glad we have him to keep us in line.

(Click photo for a larger version.)

You’re Not the Boss of Me

Salem is discontent. His sleeping conditions (i.e., not being allowed to sleep on our bed at night) are unsatisfactory. To make his protests known, he’s pawing at the closed door throughout the night at the most inconvenient hours and running to hide when I approach him. This goes on for days at a time.

Lately, he’s had a haughty expression on his face when he walks by, as if to say, “You’re not the boss of me. I will win this.”

Naturally, I don’t mind that Salem wants to sleep with me, but another person (ahem) will not allow it.

Just when I thought that raising kids was a test of wills, we got a cat.