Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I love history

We got our first time off this month and went to the Yoop.  You know, the U.P.?  No?  Yeah, I didn't know what anyone was talking about either when they referred to this.  Turns out there's this part of Michigan called The Upper Peninsula which is basically, but not really, Canada.  You have to cross a five mile bridge over the tippy tops of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to get there, AND you have to pay a toll so it kind of feels like you're entering another country.  Anyway, we went there for a couple days and of course, knowing us, turned it into an educational field trip for our offspring who we forget to homeschool half the time.  Here's what we learned:

When you use a spray-on sunscreen, don't be fooled.  You still need to rub it in, just like you would the regular ol' lotion type.  Why?  Because if you don't you will end up with a sunburn in the lovely pattern of a lace doilie or knitted afghan. 

Other things we learned:

There's a fort called Michilimackinac.  It's the longest on-going archaeological dig in America right now; they've been digging it up since the '50s.  It was built in the 1700s, so we're talking colonial times, people!  My favorite time period!  Now I have an uncontrollable urge to watch my very favorite movie ever, The Last of the Mohican's.  I can hear Daniel Day-Lewis calling to me actually...No matter where I go, he will find me.  No matter how long it matter how far.  Sigh.  I could watch that movie everyday and not get tired of it.  But anyway.  For a mere $30 we got to spend all day inside the fort, soaking it up.  The fort was originally built by the French and was used for the fur trade (getting all those beaver skins back to Europe for high fashion was a major trade) via the lakes, which were the international highway of the time.  After the British overtook the French during the French and Indian War, the British got their redcoat rumps kicked by the Indians who were annoyed by the British lack of gift-giving (the French were good gift givers it turns out).  During a game of Baggatiway, which is like lacrosse, the Indians "accidentally" hit the ball over the fort walls and the British didn't think twice when they rushed in to retrieve it.  The Indian woman pulled out knives from underneath their skirts and blankets, handing them to their men, and after a large handful of soldiers met their fate and the rest were captured, the point was made.  Afterwards, the British remembered to give better gifts and friendly relations were resumed.  Well, until the next war: the American Revolution.  Right around that time, the general decided the fort was not super well protected and for two years, they dismantled it and sailed it (summer) across Lake Huron, or sledded it (winter) across Lake Huron, to Mackinac Island.  What wasn't worth taking was burned so the French couldn't have a comfy place to camp out while they plotted and planned their attacks.  So what didn't burn completely is what they're digging up now.  The rest of course, is replicas.

A typical hearth.  Imagine keeping this going 24/7 because it was also your oven and stove top!  And then imagine you're wearing a corset and skirts that each have three yards of material in them.  Interesting facts about the clothes: by the age of 7 the girls made their own, and by the age of 9 the girls made all their younger siblings as well.  Because the washing and scrubbing on a washboard would pop off buttons, the women would snip off every single one EVERY SINGLE TIME they did laundry, then sew them back on.  This is why the ladies clothes had less buttons and more ties and ribbons.  I guess the saucy flirty look was just an added bonus. 

Moose in a tri corner hat.  I am concerned about how shy and introverted he is.  Should we seek help for that?  It must because of how unsocialized and weird us homeschoolers are.

Part of the fort.  See the bridge in the background?

Also shy, my girls.
And short.
Oh, if you were shorter than 5'6" you couldn't join the British army.  Unless you 'promised to grow.'  True story.

So, that's the story of Michilimackinac (silent C at the end).  Actually, that's only some of the story, but I forgot to grab a brochure on my way out so I'm going on my flawed memory.  That concludes the history part of my blog, at least for now, and until the next field trip.  If you're hanging around for a math or science blog, you'll be waiting a loooooooooong time, my friends.  The very thought sends shivers down my spine.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Favorite Things

My noise maker alarm clock.  It makes thunder storms noises, rain forests, ocean waves, white noise...this way I don't hear every sneeze, burp, cough, toilet flush, door open, bed squeak, dog toenails clacking, dust mite fart, you get the idea.  I heart this machine and I do mean it.  I would take this to a desert island.  Where I suppose I wouldn't need the ocean setting.

My programmable coffee maker.  Like most everyone else, we enjoy taking advantage of Gevalia and their practically free coffee maker and then canceling our membership so we don't have to purchase their crazy expensive coffee every month.  I set it to magically brew itself before I mosey out of bed and that way, I am a happier mommy and much less scary to talk to before 8 am.

My library cards.  I live outside a town of 4,000 and still manage to have three library cards.  It's free entertainment when you HAVE to get out of the house and it holds my favorite invention: the book.  Plus, with this new fangled world wide web doohickey, I can decide what I want ahead of time on and then put it on hold at the library of my choice and voila! it's waiting for me to pick up at my leisure.  Just finished:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Highly recommended.  In the middle of:  The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, where I learned that because of the ridiculously high amount of corn we Americans consume, would someone take DNA analysis of us we would basically be 'corn chips with legs.'  Also highly recommended, especially if the thought/imagery of walking Fritos tickles you the way it does me.

The smell of Gain.

Buying produce at the farmer's market from the 79 year old Mennonite lady who grows it herself.

The fact that Haagen Dazs has reissued their Bananas Foster flavor.  It was that or get a restraining order against me.

Gianni singing the I Love My Mommy song, especially the high note at the end.

The fact that I will be moving into my own house in 10 days after eight months of not having one.

Seeing lightening bugs for the first time.  It took 32 years, 6 months, but the little critters were worth the wait.

Getting chickens soon.

A good hair day.  Not that I've had one since 1995.

A phone call from a friend.

A letter from a friend.  Not that I've had one since 1995.

A comment from a friend.

Laughing til your jaw aches.

Country Living and Food Network magazines.

Good music when I'm cooking.

When I see the girls next to teenagers and see how small they are.  I still have time with them before they, gasp, leave me to go get tattoos and join a biker gang.  Or go live in a college dorms - not sure which is worse.

Swinging spider style on the swings with my babies.

For dinner: medium rare steak, green salad with blue cheese crumbles, sauteed spinach and mushrooms.  For dessert: ice cream shared with my groom on the couch.

Going barefoot.  Mike calls me a hillbilly and now we have hillbilly offspring.  If you ask Moose to put on shoes, he'll say 'It's ok, I'm going in my feet.'  Shoes are dumb.  Except for girly shoes, those are fun, but only for about an hour.

Going wine tasting in Idaho with my sis and mom and best friends.

Seeing the state of my son at the end of a long summer's day.  He's the first to tell you he smells like an old goat.

Holiday preparations.  Even better than the real thing, baby.

Internet when I'm so far away from the ones I wuv.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Miss Cora!

Ten years ago today I was having my first child.  And today, you get to listen to my birth story.  Cuz that's what moms do; force you to listen to their either beautiful and/or harrowing tale and then we all discuss who had it the worst/best.  And everyone tries to get the last word and everyone tries to one up the others.  That's how mommies roll.  No small wonder the dads just pass around the cigars; they're emotionally drained from the adventure their petite little woman just went through (and probably shocked at the words those little petite women used at around 8 centimeters).  The nine months hadn't exactly gone as planned;  my plans were a home birth with a fabulous midwife.  If you think home births and midwives NOW aren't the norm, they were even more looked down on a mere ten years ago.  None of my friends had done this way, nor would ever want to do it this way, and besides our families and a couple friends, people thought we had gone 'round the bend.  I even had an acquaintance from church tell me I would have to learn to live with myself when my baby died due to my negligence and stupidity.  That's a lovely thing to tell a pregnant woman, riddled with emotions and hormones.  But Mike and I felt strongly that we educated ourselves far more than the average American consumer and we really believed in this natural childbirth thing.  Of course, natural childbirth is a lot like parenting; man, we were GREAT at it before we actually had to do it.  I mean, experts! We didn't find out what gender of baby we were having, and so the names we had picked out were Cora Nycole or Ian Nathaneal.  Oddly enough, my sister ends marrying an Ian a few years later, so good thing we had a girl.  We got Cora's name from a tombstone, because we're morbid like that.  Also, our favorite movie is The Last of the Mohicans.  Gianni was almost an Alice.  We were concerned that we'd have to rename Anna to Chingachcook.  I should probably google the spelling on that, but I figure only 2 or 3 of you are actually with me right now anyway.  The rest are typing up their birth stories.  During the ninth month of pregnancy my midwife said she really felt that our baby was breech (upside down.  Or actually, NOT upside down) and that we should go get an ultrasound at the hospital to check the position.  We dutifully did so, and you know those sweet excerpts from all the movies where they have the ultrasound and it's so heart warming and the mom cries and the dad cries as they get to see their perfectly formed little person?  Yeah well, that was so not my experience.  They made me drink like a gallon of water - which is a horribly mean thing to do to someone whose bladder has an 8 pound human jumping on and down on it - and they won't let you go to the bathroom - which pregnant woman have to do like, every 10 minutes even if they haven't had a gallon of water to drink - and then they tell you get up on some freezing cold table in a tiny dark room where some intern who doesn't have the foggiest notion what he's doing squirts jelly all over your stretch marks and then presses down with his magic wand, making the bladder bursting sensation dangerously close to reality.  He can't figure out the head from the rump and I just want to go home.  My baby looks like a thumb print smudge.  I'm giving birth to a smudge-y alien baby?  Finally,  a real doctor comes in, who's a real peach by the way, and announces yep, this kid ain't turned the right way.  What they can do, he says, is an external version.  That's a really fancy term for 3-large-doctors-will-now-jump-up-and-down-on-your-stomach-pushing-as-hard-as-their-bulging-biceps-will-allow-and-try-to-physically-flip-that-baby-like-a-cheese-omelet.  I ended up with eyes red from crying and bruises all over my tummy.  For the next four weeks I tried lying upside down on a ironing board, drinking orange juice, eating spicy food, playing music to the baby, chiropractic adjustments and even acupuncture in my toes, all in an effort to make her somersault.  And that alien smudge baby stayed put.  So much for those child bearing hips I thought I had all those years standing next to size negative 2 ballerinas, I was having myself a C-section.  I did not relish the thought of the I told you so's.  I was emotionally, well, kind of devastated.  I had to say goodbye to my lovely midwife, who kindly refunded a chunk of our money, and went and found myself a new doctor - one who was about the size of Betty White (I thought if SHE tried something like an external version, I could take her).  If you've never scheduled a C-section, here's how it goes: early in the morning you arrive at the hospital.  This won't be hard because you won't have slept all night anyway.  They tell you not to eat, but I figured that was more of a guideline really, not a hard and fast rule.  They prep you.  I don't remember what the heck was involved in all of that, but I do know whatever dignity you may have had before the O.R. you will no longer have after.  Everything is poked and prodded and shaved and slapped with that sticky brown stuff, I don't remember what it's called, and all this happens while you're in your birthday suit and the room is stuffed full of all sorts of people you don't know but who will be happy to bill you as soon as you get home.  Your husband isn't allowed in yet.  When he does come in, he'll be in scrubs.  The doctors asks what side of the tent he wants to be on.  I don't know about your husband, but mine wants nothing to do with the sight of his wife's uterus on the outside of her body so he elects to stay by my head.  I remember being scared that I'd be the first person in history that major drugs wouldn't affect, and that they'd start operating on me when I could feel it.  I think I even lied a couple times when the doc poked my legs and stomach and asked if I could feel it.  I couldn't really, but I said yes, just to be sure to give me a little more time.  There's a sucking sound when they vacuum the blood.  Sorry, but it's true.  You can feel them slicing and pushing and pulling but it doesn't hurt.  Mike lifted up the camera over the tent to snap a picture when they pulled the baby out.  He said it was a boy.  We all know now that it wasn't.  But in fairness to him, it's a little hard to tell sometimes when they're brand new...everything is kind of, well, swollen and messy and weird looking.  Alien smudge like really.  The doctors laughed and said, 'Guess again, Dad!'  I don't really remember anything after that.  I think Mike put her up close to my head for a minute so we could meet properly, this little girl that had been inside me for so long.  He went back with her to our room and I had to be stitched up and sent alone to recovery.  That's the worst part about C-sections - being the tenth person who hold your child instead of the first.  And then being too drugged up to remember anything afterwards. But she gives me plenty of memories now.

Ten years ago.  Amazing.

Oh, and when you take out a letter and combine two words, it's called a contraction.  After three birth stories, it's no bloomin' wonder I blocked out that word.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I like chores.  Much more so now a days than back when I had to do them all.  I remember playing Cinderella with my sister when we had to clean the bathroom.  I remember washing dishes before, gasp, there were dishwashers.  Well, there probably were dishwashers, just not in our house.  We also had a party line, so maybe we were just behind the times...I remember listening in on strangers' conversations but they were so boring, it made the whole experience less than titillating.  Anyway, where was I going with this?  Right.  Chores. 


My firstborn is mowing the lawn.

Actually, that makes me slightly nauseous. How can that sweet little bumpkin be old enough to push around heavy machinery?  What if she mows off her foot?  What if she gets trapped underneath the mower like Sissy Spacek in that Mel Gibson movie that took like, five years off my life and I watched through my trembling hands?  Ok, that was a tractor, but still.  What was the name of that movie anyway?  I'm emotionally exhausted just thinking about that.

The first person to tell me the name of that movie gets a kitchenaid mixer!

Not really.

Do I look like the Pioneer Woman?

But back to chores.  Anna is doing dishes and she is terrified of soggy food left in the bottom of the sink that some turkey dumped in there instead of the garbage.  You'd think it had the power to come to life and grab and pull her down the drain, or turn her hand into some slashed up shriveled crone's hand or something the way she is carrying on.

Gianni doesn't do many chores yet.  He mostly squishes frogs.  And gets stung by hornets.  I forgot to tell you all that one.  He got jumped by a swarm of yellow jacket thugs last week: two on his face right below his eye and one on his chubby little baby hand.  He swelled.  I grabbed the never used EpiPen Jr. and rushed to WalGreens to ask advice of the 13 year old Middle Eastern pharmacist who thought I was asking how much Bendryl to give him, not WILL BENADRYL SAVE MY POOKIE'S LIFE??? which was really what was I asking her.  Anyway, allergic to bees he is not.  But he did swell and could've used a Phantom of the Opera mask for a couple days.  He was Quasimodo-ish.

And while my children do chores, I relax and change the locks.  We even have teenagers now to take out the trash and mop and clean bathrooms.  Heck, I just made two batches of zucchini bread, one of banana, and one of banana chocolate chip, and do you think I shall be cleaning up the kitchen?  I think not.   I should probably take up soap opera watching and bon-bon eating. 

Mike and I are beginning to decide what to put in The Binder here at the group home.  Every house family gets to write their own binder with their particular rules.  The things are THICK.  Everything you could think of is in there, in writing.  That way, when things go amiss or the kids run all over you, you can yell, 'Knock that off!  It's in The Binder!'  We're constantly threatening to put all sorts of things in there, because once they're in there and written in stone, it's like gospel.  At least that's what we tell them.  I heartily recommended every one of you moms and dads get yourself a binder.  While I am some what limited in what I can put in there, due to pesky state laws, you could get away with all sorts of things.  Thou shalt not fart, is one that comes to mind.  Or:  the designated trash taker outer has better replace the trash bag or he/she is in danger of having their arms pulled off and beaten soundly about the head and shoulders with them.  Or:  all children must learn the art of cocktail making and serving.  All of these I alas, cannot put in my binder, but you're welcome for the ideas.  Kinda makes you want to have more kids, doesn't it?

On other notes, according to spell checker, 'could've' is not a word.  Huh?  Say what?  Have I been butchering the English language for years and not realizing it?  Me, who can't hardly use slang and abbreviations even in texting because it annoys my grammatically correct brain?  Have you EVER seen me use "LOL?"  No, and you never will.  Once in a while, if I'm texting while (confession time) driving, I will not correct a spelling error or I'll put "ur" instead of "your," or "thnx" instead of "thanks" but even that causes me to break out in hives and risk losing my life to rectify it.  Wouldn't is in the spell check.  Shouldn't is in there.  I'm is in there.  And what is it called when you shorten a word using an apostrophe anyway?  It's not a conjunction...what is it?  Just bad English?

The first person to tell me gets a Rolex.

Nah, not really.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Lovely Bedtime Story

Once upon a time, Gianni brought his mommy a frog.

"See, Mama!" he said in excitement.

"Wow! Look at that!  A Frog!  In my living room!"

"I catch-ed it!" he said, proudly.

"Wow! Let's take the froggy back outside, ok, little man?"

Three minutes later...

Cora and Anna come in.

"Mom, Gianni squished his frog.  His legs are broken and his tongue is sticking out and he's not moving and he's squishy."

"Nice," says Mom. "Let's have some popsicles."

Ten minutes later Mom sees Gianni licking his fingers.

And remembers his frog.

And the frog juice.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

just things

1.  I pitted ten pounds of cherries today with nothin' but my digits and a pastry tube/piper.  Now my fingers are mottled red and I feel like Lady MacBeth.

2.  Those same cherries are bubbling in a pan with a crisp topping, alongside their buddy: wild strawberries and freshly hacked off rhubarb from my yard.

3.  Cora got her hair cut today. 

4.  It's the fourth tomorrow.  Lock up them little doggies.

5.  We went to Lake Michigan yesterday and I have the pink shoulders to prove it.

6.  I'm still only on season 3 of Lost.  Big sigh.  And in spite of hollering 'I haven't seen it! Stop talking!' for two weeks after the finale, I managed to accidentally see part(s) of the big ending.  Bigger sigh.

7.  Sometimes I feel like blogging, but have nothing to write about. 

8.  #7 explains this post.

9.  So then I rack my brains for subject matter.  But a lot of the time there's nothing in there but Tim McGraw and he is strangely silent.

10.  Anna has trained her brother to say 'Please, favorite sister' whenever he asks her for anything.

11.  I adopted her training method and now he says, unprompted, 'Please, favorite mama.'  We're still working on the 'You're so beautiful and skinny, Mama' part.

12.  I don't believe the health nuts who say you have to drink 8 glasses of water a day or you'll be dehydrated.  If that were true, I'd have been hospitalized years ago.

13.  I actually do drink that much water.  I just heat it up to scalding and pour it over coffee grounds first.

14.  I like a healthy dose in my mug of half and half.

15.  I just realized why I'm 15 pounds overweight.

16.  Oh, and the cherry crisp. 

17.  And the strawberry rhubarb crisp.

18.  And that incredibly fabulous banana bread I made the other day.

19.  I need to order a new bible, so if you have a translation that really floats your boat, let me know.

20.  My baby girl is turning double digits in 16 days.

21.  That makes me want to throw up.

22.  Soon she'll run off with the preacher's son and leave the suds in the bucket and the clothes hangin' out on the line.  Cuz Sara Evans doesn't lie.

23.  I actually have clothes out on the line right now!  I love it when the towels are super scratchy from line drying - that may be in a list of top twenty favorite things of mine.  Soft fluffy towels are terrible.

24.  My gray hairs are back.  Thinking of going redder this time.  Thoughts?

25.  My best friend, Mariah, started her own blog but I refuse to comment on it for a year and a half because that's how long she ignored me.

26.  I'm overly sensitive like that.

27.  My oldest memory is of a staircase in our house in California that I would sit on my butt on and zoom down.  I really, really, really, thought I was FLYING.

28.  Cora just finished her first Trixie Belden book and it made my heart melt.  Trixie Belden was my best childhood pal.  Honey, Jim, chocolate malts and double cheeseburgers, Reddy, Diana, the Bob-Whites of the Glen, the jalopy....I remember more of those books than I do my own childhood actually...Anybody with me?  Anyone want to join my Trixie Belden fan club?  Hello?  Why do I hear crickets?

29.  There are 12 snakes in the shed.

30.  There is the love child between a beaver and a porcupine trapped in the garage.

31.  I am moving into a house with pink carpet.  Hold me.

32.  In August I have to ride a bike 25 miles for the annual Baptist Children's Home Bike-A-Thon.

33.  They may have to leave me on the side of the road where I will have melted into a large puddle of Melyssa in this Michigan humidity.

34.  Gianni has two major loves in his little life: tractors and fruit snacks (which if you ask me, are like crack for kids).  When we found john deere shaped fruit snacks, he wet himself with excitement.

35.  Of course, he is two years old, so wetting himself is a common occurrence.

36.  Cora wants a waterbed for her birthday.  Anyone want to ship THAT to her?