Saturday, August 29, 2009

a good ol' time

Note: We've not been around much lately...we've been out and about having a good ol' time all over the state. I love those last minute, drop of the hat adventures that we like to make a habit of. I'm working on giving you all the details, loading all the pictures...but just about the time I get everything all set up to post...we leave again. My apologies. Just know we are out having fun. And eventually, you will hear about it!


I think I was meant to live about a hundred years ago. Perhaps a hundred and fifty. Don't get me wrong - I love how convenient the internet is and the massive amount of world and life it opens up for me, but I would give it up in a second to move out to the absolute outskirts of civilization.


A couple weekends ago, the boys and I got to mess around with some old fashioned fun. The boys had to remind me after some time that we couldn't stay all day at either of these venues. They actually close. And people get out of costume and go home to technologically advanced houses that have indoor plumbing and electricity and (gasp)high speed internet.

The first day was the Threshing Show. Dangit, I'm probably revealing just how redneck and old school I really am...but I think tractors are so cool.

I don't know a thing about the mechanics of them, but they're still really awesome. For some reason.
The older, the better.

At the threshing show, they also have a household set up as it would have been a hundred or so years ago.

I asked them if I could move in. The politely refused my offer. I stopped asking when they threatened to call security. (Ok, I'm kidding.)

I had oxtail soup and Ooky entertained himself with washing clothes.

Divine. Absolutely divine.

A couple days later, we went to Pioneer Park . Partly because the whole place is set up like an entire town from 100+years ago (using actual buildings from Minnesota that were either moved there or reconstructed)...

One room schoolhouse

Funeral parlor (one of only 14 historical funeral parlors in the whole country!)

Drug Store

(There are a million more pictures of a million more historical buildings, but I've found blogger gets pretty crabby with me if I post a lot of pictures. If you have the chance, you should definitely visit this place!)

We also went to Pioneer Park that day because they were having their annual fiddler competition. And seriously, fiddlers are even cooler than tractors. Did you know bluegrass is at the top of my list?

Fiddler "jam session" at the end of the competition.

We sat there in the shade of the giant oak tree listening to the fiddlers.
It was absolutely gorgeous.
The tree, the music...the freedom to just be there, doing what we do.

and then, all of a sudden...

Today started off as any other day at MamaTea's house - which is to say we didn't really have a concrete plan, but did have a list of many things we could do.

Like freezing sweet corn. Making salsa. Cutting and using the giant bag of apples donated to us from a friend. Shooting some arrows. Catching frogs. Collecting acorns.

Uh....yeah. Searching over that list...I don't see visit urgent care with child having severe reaction to bee sting.

Darn. I must have forgotten to write it down on the list of suggestions.

Ooky, who has been stung numerous times (without reaction) since he was old enough to walk, apparently tangled with the wrong bee today. Perhaps a mad mama who was having a bad day. Or some freak bee with extra terrible poison. Or maybe it was just "one of those things".

About eight minutes after he'd been stung, his ankle started swelling.
About three minutes later, Ooky started complaining about being itchy.
When MamaTea lifted his shirt to investigate the intense itching, she discovered a lovely spattering of hives all over his stomach and chest. Kid you not, if you sat there for a minute, you could watch them pop up on his skin. Kind of like something out of a weird horror flick.

Of course I didn't sit there to watch anything. We quickly plopped ourselves into the speedracer mini van and hightailed it to the nearest Urgent Care. All the while listening to the darling in the backseat coughing. Saying he was going to puke. And becoming less and less able to form actual words because his face or lips or whatever else was becoming nice and fat, getting in the way of itself.

All I could keep thinking was but he's never had a reaction before.

He's fine now. They pumped some good strong meds into Mr. Ooky to reverse the reaction and watched him like a hawk for a couple hours. His heart rate went back to normal, his oxygen levels came up, and he started talking (and making sense) again. Eventually the doctor released him with a couple prescriptions and we were on our way back to normal life.

Well...if you can call our life normal. ;)

If all for spontaneity. I'm down with living a fluid life. But rushing a kid into urgent care with very real thoughts of "just keep breathing, just keep breathing" running through your head was not what I had in mind as spontaneous or fluid. But, in a weird way, its ok.

It makes you stop.
It brings you back.
You take a second look.

You know, life goes as usual...but every so often, all of a sudden, it changes. Things are what they are. And then all of a sudden, they're not.

Life is funny that way. Ain't it?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gosh darnit, we're famous!

Or at least that is what the boys think when they find things about our life on someone else's blog. :)

Check out my interview at Debbie's site. And then open your box of crayons and color a lovely picture. ;)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ganging up on mamatea

Today Ooky was writing something and wanted to spell the word "inside". He writes i-n-s-i-d.

I pronounced what he'd written, and then suggested he might want to slap an "e" on the end of his word to make it work.

Iggy, who is also in the room, says "You know Mom, he could still leave it spelled like he had it. It would work. Without the e."

How so?

Iggy explains, "Well, you know, if you were inside someone's body, then his spelling would work."

I tell Iggy that regardless of what you are inside of, the way to spell the word is i-n-s-i-d-e.

"No," Iggy continues. "If he was inside someone named Sid, then his spelling would work. You know, 'in sid'? It would totally work then, Mom."

The two brothers shoot each other a look. And a smile.

I think they are ganging up on me. ;)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

of bladders and kidneys

Life kinda gets in the way sometimes. Its all those never things, again. Like saying "I will never join facebook."

Oops. I guess I screwed that one up, too.

Other things, I simply wished wouldn't happen. But you don't talk about them because really, they aren't on your radar. So you don't think you have to worry about them. Like sitting in the drivers seat of a car with two insane children who are really excited to go to that perfect ice cream shop that happens to be next to that really awesome park and that really cool sculpture garden...and realizing, a half hour out that you have to turn around. Because you're 372% sure you have a bladder infection.

You can't drive with a bladder infection. You just can't.

Then you explain to the insane children what a bladder infection is. They want to know how you get tested for one of those. You tell them "You have to pee in a cup."

Don't ever tell two young boys about peeing in a cup. Because its probably the funniest thing in the whole world. I mean, really. Hilarious. And they will repeat "pee in a cup" at least five hundred times. Its not funny to you, however, because you are now 412% sure you have a bladder infection. And you're driving. But you can't drive with a bladder infection.

The whole thing turned out to be a learning experience, though. We learned that there is an urgent care really close to the house. We learned that we hate the medication Cipro. Taken without food, it makes you feel completely drunk. Taken with food, you're just tired. Really tired. Bump on a log tired. We learned how bladders and kidneys are related, and that if the medication ain't doing its thing, you will end up with a kidney infection. Which is exactly what happened to MamaTea. We learned that MamaTea is extra crabby when all of this happens, and that when she discovers you have graffitied your name into an inside panel of the minivan, she's bound to freak out. A lot. Even though it totally washed right off.

Gosh, this learning from life is great. And sometimes funny. If you're a five or six year old boy. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

something to be said

Home is great. Home is your own private world. You can let in what you want and stay hidden from the rest.

Homeschooling is much the same. My family's hard-to-define educational process exists in our private world. We can let in whatever goodies we want and forget about the fluff or crap of whatever else seems unnecessary or otherwise unrequired.

And that is lovely and quaint and delicious.


There is something to be said about two children who are so ridiculously attached to each other that they have a hard time functioning apart. Yes, they can be social, but its almost always that ball of tangled up IggyandOoky finding friends together.

There is something to be said for Iggy having friends.

There is something to be said for Ooky having friends.


There is something to be said about Iggy hanging out with lots of other kids and finding out that even though Ooky lets him be King of the Hill (and everything else), most other people will not cave as easily. Iggy can't always be the first, the best, the most, the fastest, or on top. Sometimes hearing that from non-family members is most effective.

Conversely, there is something to be said about Ooky hanging out with lots of other kids and finding out he can be first, the best, the most, the fastest, or on top. Around his brother, Ooky tends to cave...even if MamaTea and Hubster are right there encouraging him to be tough and stand up to Iggy's sometimes tyrannical behavior.

Don't get me wrong. They are fiercely protective of each other. And extremely close.

They are also brothers. Who pick at each other constantly.

Over the past few months, I'm starting to see how constant togetherness can really hinder one child's individuality and bring out a few less than stellar personality traits in the other.

Its not as if I want to see Iggy's heart smashed to pieces and flattened on the ground. But I also don't want him to learn that the doormat responses he gets from his brother are indicative of the way the whole world works. And I don't ever want Ooky to think he's less than simply because of an older brother who makes it hard for him to be more.

So I'm excited for co-op. For all those other kids we will be with. For the situations we will be put in. I'm looking forward to putting my neck out a wee bit more and finding ways for us to be a part of something that is (socially) bigger than ourselves.

Yes, staying home is great and safe and controllable. But there's something to be said for the parts of life that aren't.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

That whole socialization thing

Today was actually hot. We went to the beach.

It was packed and hard to find a patch of sand to plop down on, but we made it work. Spongebob blanket spread out, cooler settled, sandals off...and just like that, they are gone.

Not just gone, as in off to the water. But gone. As in talking to everyone within a two mile radius. Interacting. Making up games and playing and laughing and running and soaking up the goodness that is other people. Various topics of conversations, with various people, included:

"Wanna play volleyball?"
"Do you watch Teen Titans..."
"Wanna play soccer? Wanna make teams?"
"Do you want to play Splashwars? But if you don't want to, that's ok, too."
and on
and on
and on
and on

In fact, on and on so much, that something questionable happened. Yes, don't tell anyone, but I started thinking that perhaps they were...dare I say...too social.

What? Two homeschooled children? ****

I found myself trying to figure out a way to gently advise the boys its not necessary to strike up a conversation with someone simply because they have a pulse. It is not required of you to make a greeting like comment when passing by anything that breathes. It is actually possible to be around other people and not have to engage them in a meaningful (or not) discussion.

Then again, why am I so concerned? Why does it bother me that they want to talk to everyone.

Oh yes, that's right. Because generally speaking, I don't want to talk to everyone under the sun. Not even half the people under the sun at the beach that day. Not even the two teenage type boy men who walked past and said whatever it was that they thought I'd be impressed with. I wasn't. I didn't want to talk to them.

My kids would have though.

Somehow, two not-quite-social beings conceived and bore two very social monsters. And sometimes I'm not sure just what to do with them.

I have to remember, this isn't really a bad thing. Kids who can be in a room with someone else and not have to size up the situation for two hours before saying a quiet "hi" are actually a blessing, I'm sure. I keep thinking of all the times I'd sat in the corner with nothing to say because I was too afraid of what someone would think of me and what I had said. All the people I didn't meet. All the friendships that never happened because one or both of us were too caught up in the whatever-the-word-is to get up and start a freaking conversation.

My kids don't have that issue. How amazing to walk onto the beach and see a sandy shore exploding with potential friends. I've never quite seen it that way before.

And that's kind of a bummer. For me, I mean.

I don't think I have anything to worry about with that whole socialization thing. Except perhaps a little tact, and a few directions regarding body language and when others might be ready to end a conversation.

But the simple love of chattin' it up with others...they've got that taken care of.

You know, I'm not sure we will ever win that socialization thing, anyway.

If my kids sit in a corner, they will be pegged as those homeschoolers. You know, they are too freaked out by the real world to know how to talk to anyone. Its such a shame, them sitting by themselves like that...

If my kids, on the other hand, have no issue talking your damn ear off, its immediately those homeschoolers. You know, they're so starved for attention and socialization in the real world, that they will talk to anyone or anything that moves.

Yeah, we just can't win.

Monday, August 10, 2009

at first glance

...this might appear to be a sadistic ritual hanging of symbolic animals.

...but its actually a response to the request there are far too many stuffed animals on this bed, so pick half to put up in the pet net, or rearrange them so there is actually room for a five year old boy to sleep. Iggy was sad to think that Ooky would lose any of his 53 sleeping companions to to pet net, so he came up with the above pictured solution.

You see, it was a hanging done for love.

At first glance, this might seem to be a simple army tank and school bus, possibly used to play out wars between GI Joe and an antiquey set of Fisher Price Little People...

...but recently these have been used by two little men to deliver love notes to their Mom and to each other. Let me tell you, there is nothing like seeing a tank come around the corner with a love note taped to its gun.

And finally, at first glance, this might look like two boys and their Dad getting ready to blast the heck out of a bunch of pop and beer cans with their BB guns...

...but what it really is...ok, I won't lie. They are getting ready to blast the heck out of pop and beer cans with their BB guns. But its also a picture of two kids soaking up the Dad Love before he leaves home for another week of work.

Soak it up boys.
And enjoy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Never say never

You know, its almost like when you utter the word never, you're tempting fate or the universe or whatever to mess with you. As if she perks up her ear and says "Really? Are you sure you meant never?"

Look at what happens when you say "Oh, I would never say that (or do that) to my child."

Yeah. Exactly.

This whole never business has a history of messin' with me. It was me, after all, who said she would never date a cop, fireman, or military man...and then ended up marrying someone who is two of the three.

You think I would learn.

Alas, dear friends of the blogosphere, I don't learn. And so I come to you today with yet another never that has been shot right out of the water. This time, it pertains to homeschooling.

Yup. I joined a co-op.

Gasp. Whisper. Whisper some more.

A few years ago, my knowledge of co-ops was limited, and the ones I had been exposed to through friends were pretty strict. And expensive. And strict. Did I mention expensive? I think I might have already said strict. Obviously, not something anywhere near my alley, let alone "up" it.

Although homeschooled kids together is a lovely thing (cue angelic choir) I just couldn't see how I would ever find a group of adults that would be open to the different ways that we do things here . Not that everyone has to agree all the time (in fact, that would be horrible!) but sometimes its hard to find in peace in something that is a) such a huge commitment and b) you spend more of your time caving in for the sake of smooth waters than truly agreeing with anything that is said.

Except for that one smallish sorta hidden co-op. You know, the one that always does the wicked cool things for the community that you always seem to end up at? The one with some members that you don't know incredibly well, but whenever you bump into them and chat, there seems to be a connection? That really different one that you've always thought I'm never going to join a co-op...but if I ever did, which I won't, would be something like that one?

Yeah. That one.
The one that conveniently happens to have some openings?

So I called the phone number and talked to one of the women who started it. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you feel like you don't have to explain yourself, because they get it? Have you ever found the things you disagree on aren't met with a gasp-whisper-you-horrible-mother, but more of a hey, whatever works for you? And then, as the person talks on, you wonder if she's been reading your blog and studying up on your fitting in posts...because you really feel like you're on the same wavelength...

And then you happen to reconnect with a friend (over something completely different) and remember she's in that same co-op, and when you ask her for the dirt, she gushes about how fabulous the co-op is, even though she (like your former co-op loathing self) fully expected to abhor it?

This all came just as the fitting in posts were being written and commented on...and the people concerned with this co-op I met and talked to just seemed to...for lack of a better phrase..."fit in" to everything I was talking about. What I was looking for. What I wanted.

Who knew I would find them in a co-op?

I'm excited as all heck for it to start up. Call me weird...or whatever, but I think this just might end up totally kicking ass. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009


That's the name of the jam I bought today at the farmers' market. Hodgepodge.
But its also a fitting name for the constant randomness of life.

We've been busy.
Getting dizzy with our vintage 1968 Battling Tops game.

Creating the Ninja Fighter Bike Gang.

You'd best watch out.

Losing teeth. That makes five so far. (I kid you not, i was seven before I lost a single one.)


But I've been busy, too. Me. Apart from We.

Having coffee with a friend who reminded me that a great many groups founded on perfectly wonderful philosophies can have members who turn those perfectly wonderful philosophies into psychotic unrealistic mindless babble. And I should be careful not to confuse the two.
I'm trying to find center, and deciding that center always moves. So play it where it is.
"Life is fluid".

I'm writing. I mean, writing besides this blog. I'm working on young adult fiction. And other stuff, too. Its all dark and messy, but I prefer a friend's term: edgy.

I'm baking. And visiting farmers' markets. And cussing out my own garden.

My brain is busy, too. I'm struggling with a certain six year old, whose attitude has blown through the roof, who tells me things like "Mom, if you would have bought me a better rod and reel, it wouldn't get all tangled up like this."
Did he seriously just say that?
Ungrateful. I don't care what attachment parenting, peaceful parenting, or radical unschooler term or reason or quick fix they want to apply to this, its still ungrateful. And it pisses me off. So I yelled. And then put the fishing pole in the barn. We were done for the day.

Hubster wants to help and tries to think of millions of grand things to do. And he has fantastic ideas. But I get frustrated. What I really want is to go ten minutes without kids feeling as though they need to be by us, with us, MamaTeaHubsterIggy Ooky. And then I get mad, thinking maybe that's the downfall of choosing this life. Constantly being THERE for the kids can sometimes be a double edged sword, no?

I'll take the double edged sword, however. Its better than the alternative. Everyone has a something to deal with.

Tomorrow we will be back to bike riding, creek wading, beach playing, tent sleeping, table building, and whatever else flops out of our brain and into the day. Maybe find a county fair or a demo derby. Who knows?

Every day is different. And you can't do anything but love that.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

mud. sawdust. perfect.

Some day we laze around and soak in the sun.
Yesterday was not one of those days. :)

Iggy grabbed a branch from the woods, a tie down, and all on his own, built a bow.

Our sensitive creek (which hasn't had rain for a couple days and is pretty dry again) needed some exploring. We discovered a pass through from the first creek to the second that shouldn't be there, and is diverting the water in ways it shouldn't be diverted. Which is definitely affecting the water levels. So...

...time to build a dam.

And you can't expect the boys to sit quietly to the side!

They've gotta get in there and pack the mud and guck around our built-for-free dam.

It was a chore to keep our boots on. They were stuck in the muck...

And then stuck on us....

Water diverted, showers were taken. Time to raid Grandpa's scrap wood pile.
Hubster and Ooky shared in a designing "somethin'".

Iggy wanted to do something "different".

We ended up with two tables: Ooky's, which he and Iggy demonstrated was sturdy enough to dance on...

And Iggy's, complete with a swing out cup holder.

The night ended around the campfire, where the boys were able to show off how great their tables worked for holding food, beverages, a mancala game, and other goodies.
Now, that's a good day's work. :)