Monday, December 28, 2009


Its hard to peg how old kids are in Homeschool Land. In fact, homeschooling and age together in the same sentence are kinda tough. You can't look at what someone is learning and assume they are a certain age, because in Homeschool Land, kids are all over the board. In Homeschool Land, the kids mix up with other kids of all kinds of ages. You can't walk into a room of homeschoolers and say "This is clearly a room of 7 year olds."

So I've got two wee homeschooled babes. Or...well, not so wee. Hubster is 6 ft 5, so...let's be honest... my wee babes have never really been quite wee. In any event, sometimes its hard for passerbys to figure out their age.

Sometimes MamaTea has a hard time figuring out their ages. I know from their birth certificates they are almost 6 and almost 7. Some days (the whiny crabby dramatic ones) it feels like they are almost 2 and 3.

But lately, there are frightening glimpses of having almost 12 and 13 year olds. Case in point:

These are my winter boots. Size 7 Columbia's I inherited from a foreclosed house I helped to clean out. They are just about brand new.

Yup, my boots.

But I don't wear them. Nope, that honor goes to my son. Darling Iggy, who will be 7 in March, who stands 4 ft 3 inches tall, has claimed these as his boots. Because they fit him.

He's gettin' bigger.
He wanted boxers for Christmas. No more tighty-whiteys for me, Mom.
He reads at night in the top bunk, with a flashlight clutched in his hands. He tells me in the morning, "Mom...I finished that book last night. It was pretty good. Can you find me another one?"
He needs to shower. Like, right now. Not like a few months ago, when he showered because he was muddy from playing outside all day. He needs to shower now because he has the faint (but distinct) odor of Boy. I mean, Guy.
He's almost 7.
Is this normal?

Oh. My.
Life is a crazy thing.
When did everyone get so big?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

warm fuzzies about wild boys

Every so often, when things are wild around here, I get to wondering how exactly the boys got to be the way they are. As in, what moment did their life turn utterly spastic? What event in their short lives caused their brains to short circuit and changed them from lovely, calm, well behaved boys into crazy-insane, more than slightly off, deranged, messy, risky little men?

And then I remember...they've always been crazy

Ooky, 22 months old, Feb 2006


(Iggy, almost 3 years old, February 2006)

more than slightly off

(Iggy, almost 3 years old, February 2006

wearing MamaTea's zip up heel boots


(Ooky, 22 months old, February 2006)


(Iggy, 14 months old, May 2004)


(Ooky, not sure of age or date)

little men.

(Ooky, 22 months and Iggy almost 3 years old - Feb 2006)

And now that I think about it,
I wouldn't change a thing.

Bring it on. :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

so, instead....

We had many peaceful, magical plans for learning about and celebrating Winter Solstice today.

Life, however, had its own plans.

Although our piratey sword carrying boys tried their darndest to defend the house from illness, sickness somehow weaseled its way in. So we now sit in the middle of sneezes, coughs, dizzy stumbles, sore throats, not hungry, pleeeeeeease sit by me Mama, but I don't waaaaaaana throw uuuuuuup, toss and turn and can't sleep, freezing, sweating, temperature taking, lay on the couch and watch old cartoons. And I mean OLD cartoons. (They have magical healing power, I am told.)

We could still make borax snowflakes stationed on the couch.

I could hang out our ice ornaments in trees specified by Iggy and Ooky while they lay on couches with eyes barely open.

I could read to them from Winter Sosltice by Ellen Jackson (a really good book).

We could still discuss weatherlore and imagine how these sayings came to be.

We could still fasten our wishes and hopes for the next year to a lovely log and add it to the fire already in the woodstove instead of building a giant bonfire in the backyard.


I could keep all these treasures in my back pocket for another day.

We could just rest.
And snuggle.
It might be peaceful.
And magical.
So then, I guess it all works out in the end. ;)

Happy Solstice. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

not your average christmas party

The invitation was set in front of me.

Trying my best job to decipher a five year old's invented/phonetic spelling, I gathered this much:

Elizabeth Swann, You are invited to a party for pirates. There will be legos, guitars, and doings.

Me: Elizabeth Swann?
Ooky: That's who you are from Pirates of the Caribbean. Remember? I'm Will Turner.
Me: So we're having a party?
Ooky: Yes. Tonight after supper.
Me: And there will be legos, guitars...and doings?
Ooky: Yes, Elizabeth. That is another way to say stuff going on.

You've gotta love him.

Ooky: Don't forget you have to wear a black shirt. And you have to talk in your best Elizabeth Swann voice.

That means thick British accent, I think.

Come to find out, the entire household (except for Hubster, who was leaving for work) was invited.

Grandma, who apparently plays the character of Calypso, even got a costume made for her.

When I asked how we would know the party was starting, Ooky explained: "You will know it is time for the party to start...because it will start."

And there you have it.

So we all hurried into the appropriate attire, were presented with wooden or plastic or Construx or Lego made weapons, and posed for the very important picture.

Front Row (L to R): Iggy as Captain Jack, Ooky as Will Turner.
Back row (L to R): Grandma as Calypso, Grandpa as Barbossa, and Me as Elizabeth Swann.

It was a wild party. A swashbuckling good time. And the invitations were correct. There was, in fact, lego pirate ship building:

a pirate playing his guitar:

and lots of other "doings":

It was wildly unlike any other near-Christmastime party I've ever attended.
I don't know that any other near-Christmastime party I've ever attended has inspired so many smiles to brighten my face.
Christmastime parties should be like that.
Thank goodness for little piratey boys.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

shh...enjoy the loud

Life with boys is loud. Out of control in a sort of smack-fest, you're the worst brother ever, I hate you, rubber band gun fight, Christmas crazies, incessantly kicking the bottom of the bunk kind of way.

That's why it doesn't surprise me when in pictures, certain shots might look like they are trying to tear off each others ears.

Life here is insane. Crazy. Did I mention loud? Loud, like I'm pretty sure if a tornado ever goes through, the roaring tell-tale train sound from the wind will just be static underneath the decibels at which our house operates within.

I won't lie - sometimes I get crabby.I have been known to summon Freak Out Monster Mama...who is not unlike the Kraken (sea monster), who will swallow you up whole and drag you under the sea if provoked. Trust me, its not pretty. It generally starts with a look like this:

and heads south. Really fast.

I hate those days. Days where Thing 1 and Thing 2 band together as their own monstrous force to do what I refer to as "GUMS and PHO" (or Get Under Mom's Skin and Piss Her Off.)

I hate those days. I hate how one thing sets the rest of the day off kilter. I hate how it skews my view of everything. I hate what it does to me.
December has had a lot of those days.
I'm all for honesty, so I want you all to know that last week I was in fact laying in my bed all crabby and Krakenish, fresh out of ideas on how to deal, and even a little bit I'm-so-frustrated-I-think-I'm-gonna-spit-tears over the insanity, chaos, and random yuck of it all.

I'm sure no one reading this blog has ever had a day like that. ;)

Nevertheless...Perspective, that darling, she eventually comes. And through visits with friends in real life, and reading writings of friends in blog land here and here...I can get up off the bed and put the Evil Krakenish Mama away.

Yes, we need boundaries.
Yes, some form of structure is a decent thing.
Yes, mutual respect is necessary to co-exist.

But aside from that...I am being way too serious for Christmas.
Perhaps even for most days.
It's just Life, right?
I don't want to believe we are here to sulk, be crabby, dwell on The Crappier Side of Life, keep tabs on what's wrong, or beat ourselves up for not being able to fix something out of our control.
We are here to learn and explore and taste and imagine and invent and wrap ourselves up in the good things around us and explode into silvery bits of Light.

Shh...let it be.
And enjoy the noise.

** Check out this super hilarious (and sweet) post about raising boys. If you're the only female in a family of all boys/ will understand.

Friday, December 18, 2009

how the spelling thing made me smile

Some days in December, there is a very likely chance I will spontaneously morph into Freak-Out Monster Mama. It might be due to the energizer bunny on cocaine type of energy blasting through the house.

Other days, however, it is easy to laugh and smile. I've yet to pinpoint what exactly the difference is, but was one of those days.

Working on spelling today, my darling Iggy and Ooky had me belly laughing.

Ooky is asked to spell "star".
Ooky: Mom...can I just sign the word star to you? Because I know how to do it in sign language, but I'm not exactly sure how to spell it.

Iggy is asked to spell "Santa".
Iggy: Mom. Here. I spelled Saint Nick (s-a-n-t-n-i-c-k)instead of Santa. You know, that's his other name.
Me: But we are working on spelling Santa, darling child.
Iggy: Does it really matter? I mean, he goes by lots of different names. Can't I just spell one of his names?

Ooky is asked to spell "tree".
Ooky: Tree? So I need to start with a letter "c"...
Me: Um...tree most definitely doesn't start with a c, darling.
Ooky: What are you talking about? You don't even know how to spell, Mom. Sound it out. Ch....r...eee.

I casually point out to Iggy that his "s"'s are backwards in what he has just written.

Iggy: It doesn't matter. Because you know that its an "s", right?
Me: So it doesn't matter if the "s" is backwards?
Iggy: Nope.
Me: Ok, Not Lock.
Iggy: Not Lock?
Me: Yeah, that's your name backwards. C-o-l-t-o-n backwards is n-o-t-l-o-c. Not Lock.
(I think he laughed so hard he almost peed his pants.)

Ooky is asked to spell "bell".

Ooky: This is one of those words that ends with more than one L, right?
Me: Yup.
Ooky: Because its got a really long LLLLLL sound, right?
Me: Yup, I guess.
Ooky answers with:

I feel like I live in the middle of a comedy show. The best days are the ones where I remember to laugh. ;)

Yup, its busy

It's a busy time of year with so many things to do.
Like what, you ask?

It is delightful to make stars.

Can you believe it was our first year to make
cinnamon applesauce ornaments?

It is a very important job to hang them on the tree.

Iggy and Ooky had their first experience with a Twinkie while we made miniature french yule log cakes.

(Not difficult. Frost a Twinkie with chocolate frosting, drag a fork through the frosted sides to make it look like bark, sprinkle with powdered sugar for snow effect. Taken from the book Merry Christmas Everywhere that we are currently having a slammin' good time with...)

It's a messy and lovely project. And if you like Twinkies, I suppose it might be tasty, too. ;)

We made a batch of our bestest hot chocolate ever to share with friends.

Also not difficult. Add these ingredients to an empty ice cream bucket: 2 lb can of Nestles Quik, 7 oz jar Creamora creamer, 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, and 10 cups dry milk powder. Mix it up! Add 1/3 cup to mug of hot water. Enjoy.)

We also survived another pirate invasion. Thank goodness we didn't have to stop talking about pirates just because the unit study was done!

We hope you are pleasantly busy with holiday goodness at your house as well. And may you be equally as lucky in any pre-Christmas encounters with pirates. ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

frozen, but yummy

Windchills here in Minnesota are approaching normal winter gorgeousness: -25 to -30.

Love it. ;)

And like many families, we are doing a countdown-to-Christmas chain here. Inside each loop, I have added a little note that tells of something lovely about the day…a fun project, something groovy to create, a special place we are going, friends who might be coming to visit…

A couple days ago, when it was particularly frozen outside, my little note mentioned “frozen puppy chow”.

Some (or all) of you may be familiar with the recipe for Puppy Chow. (Or Muddy Buddies, as the actual Chex recipe is called.) But we do things a little different with puppy chow/muddy buddies here.

We eat them frozen.

Yeah. Like from the freezer.

Which only makes sense to someone from Minnesota. You know, eating something that cold when it is...this cold...outside.

I don’t know how it started. Someone at one time decided they’d be goofy and stick the puppy chow in the freezer (maybe in an effort to hide/stash it and keep everyone else from eating it) and discovered that puppy chow which is frozen is quite tasty.

I love accidental discoveries, don't you?

Anyhow, puppy chow makin' time had come. The boys did not try to contain their excitement, and got right to work.

Regardless of the fact they are frying brain cells, they can't resist watching (and giving a play by play report of) the butter, chocolate and peanut butter melting together.

What a relief to me to discover that there are still a few instances when Iggy and Ooky can refrain from talking for more than 30 seconds…

Then again, isn't licking the spoon the best part??

By the way, stuffing the puppy chow into the freezer does not make it last any longer. 24 hours after you have made it, you will still be wondering where it all went, and vowing once again to make a double batch for next time…

** When making the freezer version of the recipe, allow the puppy chow to cool completely (like the original recipe states) and then place in freezer.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pay attention

As a parent it’s important to have at least a clue about what your kids are into. Or up to.

It’s a good idea to have at least a clue about what they’re watching on tv, listening to on their MP3, or googling on the internet.

It might also be a good idea to know what it is they are doing in the back of the van. Or what they might be playing on their Leapster. Otherwise you might end up in a situation similar to this:

MamaTea was quite proud of herself for having gathered the eclectic mix of “stuff” that would help her to carry out a little ditty on telling time. She thought it might be beneficial for Iggy (6.5) and Ooky (5.5) to know that out in the big wide world, there are clocks with hands…and they can be a bit on the tricky side if your only exposure to time has thus far been digital.

Technology, ain’t it great?

So she drags out the stuff one day, all geared up for the creative excitement to begin. She gives her schpeel and hopes to see a bit of light flickering from behind the eyes of either child in the room. She blabs on for a moment about time and clocks and blah dee blah. Then she waits.

Nothin'. Absolutely nothin' but a blank stare from the Iggster.

What is it? she wonders. Did I not explain it well enough? Should I slow down?

Iggy: I already know this stuff.
MamaTea: No…we haven’t done this stuff yet. We haven't talked about this yet.
Iggy: No, mom. I already know this stuff.
MamaTea: Oh yeah, where did you learn about telling time on clocks with hands if there are no clocks with hands anywhere in this house?
Iggy: (sighs) Its on my Leapster.
MamaTea: (silent with blank stare)
Iggy: On the Jedi Math game. I learned this stuff a long time ago.
(Iggy then demonstrates he can actually tell time on a clock. With hands. Cripes.)
MamaTea: Oh yeah? Oh yeah??? Well then, how many seconds are in a minute?
Iggy: 60.
MamaTea: Minutes in an hour?
Iggy: 60.
MamaTea: Hours in a day?
Iggy: 24.
MamaTea: Days in a week?
Iggy: 7.
MamaTea: Days in a month?
Iggy: Seriously, Mom? Do we have to do this? Ok. It depends on the month.
MamaTea: Months in a year?
Iggy: 12.

Ok. Well. Class dismissed?

That, my friends, is how MamaTea wasted a lot of time preparing a telling time unit, simply because she wasn’t aware of what all was on that Jedi Math game…which Iggy frequently entertains himself with in the van.

And I thought I was such an involved parent. ;)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Life with an Ook

Today was my Christmas date with Ooky. We got all dolled up fancy and had ourselves a special afternoon, just the two of us.

The thing about an Ook is that he's hilarious. You're around him for longer than 14 seconds...

...and he's working on you. He's trying to get you to laugh.

He generally succeeds.

You can see how simple things like school could be a challenge. Good thing he's so sweet.

I mean, really...who does he get this chaotic insanity from??

One will never know.... :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lego Men need Christmas, too

Through our Early Christmas unit, we've been learning about how the early American settlers celebrated Christmas. And we're learning a's most interesting tidbits revolved around the dishes that were sometimes served: boiled buffalo hunp, dried moose nose, smoked buffalo tongue, and beavertail.

I guess that's called using what you have. ;)

But what's always most amazing to the boys are the many (many) things the early settlers did not have that we take for granted today.

Like, for instance, lego men.

Life is so incomplete here without Lego Men, according to Iggy and Ooky. And I suppose that's to be expected. What was not expected, however, was MamaTea figuring out a way to deck the halls in Lego Land.

(I can't take the credit for this. The credit goes to some late night/early morning blog wandering here.)

I think its a nice eclectic segway...don't you? Pioneer Christmas to...Lego Man Holiday?

"Don't look now, men...butI think there is a giant snowman sneaking towards us...coming through the forest..." (Iggy)

"Is it time to open presents yet?" (Ooky)

"Stop distracting me! I'm trying to decorate this tree with joint poppers!" (Iggy)

"Wow. You guys are tall. And freaky." (Ooky)

Ah, the fun of Lego Men. As long as the boys don't try to feed them boiled buffalo hump, I think we're ok. ;)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cold but uncaged

We live in Minnesota, which means a) it snows and b) it gets cold.

Last night we had our first decent snow. Not nearly what they had predicted (6-10 inches at one point), but enough to whiten the ground a bit.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do love the outdoors. Love the outdoors.

But I hate being cold. Really hate being cold. So it takes a bit of convincing to get my warmish self outside into a blowing snow, below zero with windchill kind of day. You know, like today.

But there is one thing that always convinces me: children who act like caged animals.

Now while its cute to think that two high strung boys and yourself can relax, staying warm and dry inside the house, snuggled in together under a quilt reading storybooks and sipping hot chocolate...the truth is, that hardly works.

I was blessed with two boys who go until they crash, never giving into defeat. They don't know the meaning of slow down. They run without stopping to rest, they talk without stopping to breathe. They need to move. A lot. Snowy cold weather does not mean snuggling to Iggy and Ooky. It means sledding and wrestling in the snow and snowball fights and run run run turn your cheeks red and no we don't want to go inside. That's just the facts of how it is.

But not liking the facts doesn't change the facts.
So we bundle up and go outside.

Smile for the camera, MamaTea. Come on, its not that bad out, is it? ;)

And within a few minutes, the boys are doing what they do best. Attempting to use all that energy. All that excitement and zest and power that I wish I could bottle and sell to every adult I know.

I wish I could bottle and sell their flexibility as well. Iggy plowed himself right under a chair around our campfire ring while whizzing down the hill at a billion miles an hour. He laughed the whole time, even while his crazy mother was saying "Holy crap, Iggy! Are you ok? Wait...let me get my camera!!!"

I'm glad he was laughing. I can tell you, for sure, I would not have been laughing if I would have been stuck in the same position. Under a metal chair. At the bottom of a hill. Notice, his legs are underneath his back??

But I was laughing. Laughing because he was happy, because Ooky was happy, and because I was happy. And warm.

Ooky tried to give himself a Santa beard...

Iggy tried to see how much (very clean white) snow he could fit in his mouth at once...

After an hour or so of playing in the cold, it was time to call it quits. We did have hot chocolate. And a wee bit of a snuggle. You know, for that brief moment Iggy and Ooky weren't moving. But I'll take what I can get. Because its not long before they are up and ready for round two. Or three. Or ten.

Such is life. :)