Thursday, April 28, 2011

You're Cordially Invited to Join my Commune

I have authority problems.  I don't much care for people telling me what to do and how to live my life, plus I crave simplicity and the homesteading life (in spite of the fact that I can kill a house plant in six seconds flat and have never milked a cow).  Regardless, I've decided to start my own commune.  Should be easy enough and y'all are invited.  My brother already thinks I live in one anyway and he calls occasionally to make sure I am not wearing long dresses, marrying off my daughters, allowing Mike extra wives, watching for comets, and drinking koolaid.

Now I didn't say I didn't like RULES, I just said I don't like following other people's rules, so I'm sure you'll understand if I just lay out Lyssa's Family Commune Rules right now.  Breaking the rules will terminate our weird, crunchy, granola, hippy-dippy, love fest, way of life, so try to adhere.

1.  No sports.  Well, you can play them, but no watching them on TV.  No idolizing sports stars either, that's totally against my rules.

2.  There will be an outdoor movie shown every weekend in the warm months and I get to pick the movie.  Yeah, that's right, every week, my pick, no whining and complaining and making fun of the movies I like.  You want to pick one?  Go start your own commune.  Oh, and I don't like popcorn so we'll pass around a big bowl of Cheezits and sugar snap peas.

3.  I'm not much of a gardener so if one could make sure you are, that'd be great.  Good.  That's settled.  Did I mention sugar snap peas?  We're gonna need a separate garden for those.

4.  Small children will be allowed to run around in their birthday suits.  No larger humans though - that'd be awkward.  We don't want our commune to end up on the evening news.

5.  No spouse swapping.  Also awkward.  We're not that kind of commune!

6.  No video games.

7.  Tie-die in moderation only, please.

8.  There will be a large community library with one of those rolling ladder thingies, so I can pretend to be Audrey Hepburn and you can pretend to be Fred Astaire.  

9.  There will be lots of music playing, for enjoyment and also to fulfill our hippy-dippy minimum requirements.  I plan to learn the fiddle.  You can play whatever you want.  I'm thinking of seeing if Steve Martin and Zac Brown want to join my commune and also that cool redhead who plays violin for Taylor Swift.  Also, Ritchi Sambora.  And if he happens to bring his best friend along, well, it's a friendly commune...can't exactly just kick the guy out...oh OK, Jon Bon Jovi, you can stay!!  Gosh, you don't have to beg, silly man, we'll find a place for you somewhere, don't you fret.  You'll look great in my library.  Hey, you like Fred Astaire, don't you?  Do you think I look like Audrey Hepburn?  Do you - 

10. Where was I?

11.  We'll cook lots of cool, interesting things that we've never eaten before and there will never be a box of mac and cheese or a cake mix or anything instant.  We'll eat things like wild mushroom ragu...goat cheese fritatta...panchetta risotto... It'll be like an episode of Chopped every night!  I'm so excited!  No iceberg salad with pink tomatoes, no flavorless spaghetti, and, hold onto your hats, Mommies, no chicken nuggets.  Ever.  Mostly we'll live on crusty bread, stinky cheese, and Cab Sav.  And veg.  And we'll throw in the occasional steak.  I know, I know, I had you at wild mushroom ragu, right? 

12.  No bedtimes and no wake up times.  Cuz I'm cool like that.  

13.  No fart contests.  I mean it.  I will kick you and your stinky patootie out the door.  I have been in the downwind area of enough of these to last a lifetime;  I live with five teen boys.  And two daughters who can seriously hold their own.  

14.  Mike will read aloud from Patrick McManus around the campfire while the kidlets roast marshmallows.  

15.  Genesis will make anything we need from scratch.  Sorry, Gen, can you put off Ireland a few more years?  It's for the good of the commune, woman!

16.  We'll probably have to homeschool because, let's face it, we'll be in the middle of nowhere and besides, homeschooling is a kind of commune thing to do.  But we should rotate.  I'll teach cooking and sewing and history and English, and you all can teach math, algebra, science, geometry, and chemistry.  That seems fair.  Ehem.

Now all we have to do is pick a place.  I know we have a couple votes for New Zealand and I'm all in with that one.  Also have a weakness for the Oregon coast, and South Dakota.  Any other thoughts? 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

homeschool blogs

Oh lovely and loyal readers, give me a vote here:

I know you're busy.  And I know I won't break the top ten...or the top three hundred.  But it'd be cool to reach new readers so that someday I can get enough confidence to actually write that book, make millions, vacation with JK Rawling, and send you all little drinks in coconuts with umbrellas.  You can vote once a day and it doesn't take but a minute.  Unless you have the world's slowest internet like I do, in which case, while you're waiting for the page to load each day you can:

knit a pair of socks

gestate a baby

read War and Peace

fell some trees

write your own novel and plan your own vacation with me

go ahead and take that vacation - there's time

watch Gone with the Wind

grow and harvest your own coffee beans

wait for summer

learn a foreign language

But those are just suggestions.  Thanks for the love, my little gingersnaps.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Years Ago Again

The last post I wrote with this name ended at 21 years ago, so I'm picking up where I left off.  Hmmm, that was a long time ago.  I need Sherman from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show to go back in time with me in his time machine.

It was Sherman, right?  And the dog?  Or was Sherman the dog?

Anyway.  21 years ago and further... that'd be me at age 12 and under.  Here goes nothing.

I remember taking my dance classes at the Elgin Opera House.  It was a gorgeous old, old, old building.  It even smelled old, but that's a good thing;  I mean it as a compliment.  There was a huge old backdrop that had hundreds of signatures of actors and actresses signed on the back of it - it had to be three quarters of a century old, I'd bet.  I've always loved old things, so I had a particular fondness for that.  Our teacher's name was Reuben and he was the strangest old cat you'd ever want to meet.  Strange.  Straaaaaaange.  We were never quite sure what the dickens he was doing in Nowhere, Oregon, but he was originally a dancer from New York City and he always wore this old Tshirt that said, 'New York, New York - So Nice They Named It Twice!'  He had long, crazy, curly gray hair and a real artist's temperament.  That's a nice way of saying he could be mean as a snake, but all in the name of art.  Dancers are a piece of work, if you didn't know.  Also, he was a modern dancer (nowadays I guess they call it contemporary, or is still called modern?  I don't even know, I'm so outta the loop).  Modern dancing is weirder than ballet or can be anything: fast or slow, tragic or funny, goofy or sexy, lots of jumping or lots of stretching out on the floor like a dying animal.  It's all up to interpretation, which is one of the reasons I loved it even more than ballet.  Bad modern dancing is deliciously awful.  We're talking ridiculously terrible.  Good modern dancing is breathtaking and lovely.  Reuben's choreography was just plain weird most of the time.  But my sister and I were two of his only child dancers and for a couple of years we were his pet project.  Probably because we were the best Nowhere had to offer and he missed New York, New York (so nice they named it twice) and he was trying to keep from killing himself by hanging from the neck with his own tights right off the opera house backdrop in a vicious fit of artistic depression.  Some of his dances were kind of neat - he did one about a violin player who sold his soul to Satan and that one was interesting to watch and to dance.  At some point I was wearing feathers.  Not cool.  My years with Reuben were strange and odd, at times embarrassing and humiliating, but I most likely would have quit dancing without him and for that, I'm grateful for the strange old cat.

Another thing I remember is my horse, Cherokee, whom I have mentioned before.  He was an ornery Palomino.  He was green broke (which means...slightly trained...sorta) and we had a love/hate relationship.  I loved him.  He hated being told what to do.  Some days it would take me all day to catch that rotten horse and by the time I did the sun was going down and my mom was calling me to come in for the night.  Then he'd snicker at me and gallop off.  He was a real sweetheart with tiny little kids though, sweet as pie with my bitty cousin, Cacie.  Ornery as all get-out with the rest of the population.  He'd stand in front of his water trough and stomp in it, getting his rider (me) soaking wet.  Stomp, stomp, stomp; he was like Lord of the Stomp.  If that didn't detour me from riding, he'd go plopping out into the middle of pond and stand there.  And stand there.  And stand there.  No amount of kicking and yelling would make him move.  He'd stand there.  And stand there some more.  Until the sun went down and Mom would call me in for dinner, at which point I'd have to slide off my loyal steed and wade to shore.

I remember the winters being crazy cold.  We'd bundle up and look like Ralphie and Randy and couldn't put our arms down due to the amount of winter coats and hats and scarves.  We got a ton of snow in Eastern Oregon and there was a record breaking ice storm that was a little scary and it bent our giant pine tree in our front yard.  I remember our pipes froze and my dad had to climb under the house and when he came out we were afraid his fingers had frostbite and my sister and I huddled behind them while my mom tried to rub feeling back into them.  I also remember washing my hair at night and we had this wood stove that I would stand in front of and comb my hair and flick the loose strands of hair on it.  They'd sizzle and cook on the hot stove and it made this strangely inexplicably delicious odor.  I know.  It's odd.  I'm odd.  Don't judge.

Another memory is of my dog, Kammie, and our detective agency.  Have I written about our detective agency before?  It was called Blue Skies Detective Agency.  We had the posters to prove it.  And the Open sign that we'd hang faithfully in the window each morning.  I was determined to be the next Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden.  I worked during the day at training Kammie to be a bloodhound.  This was tricky, as she was a spaniel.  A spaniel who wasn't taking her bloodhound training too seriously.  I would convince my little sister to go hide and then I'd give Kammie one of her smelly socks to sniff.  You know, to get her scent?  Like Lassie?  Or Benji?  Are you with me?  Hullo?  Then I'd clip her to the leash and off we'd go, all over the neighborhood, looking for the poor lost girl.  She'd sniff around, quite eagerly, just like a bloodhound as a matter of fact, and as she was never great on a leash and I was usually on roller skates at the time, it was a whirlwind of speed and mystery solving.  She never found her, and typically I'd get tired of looking too and go home to read The Ghost of Blackwood Hall, leaving lil' sis who knows where.  Once she got stuck in the chicken coop and everyone forgot about her.  My parents and I laugh uproariously at this memory, but she recalls it as being much more traumatic.  We were safe inside the house, munching on snacks and watching a movie while she was evidently scratching the number of days she'd been gone on the side of the coop wall and trying to tunnel out with a spoon.  She always was a drama queen.  Not like she was going to starve:  she was surrounded by chickens, for goodness sake!  It's not like Mrs Brown was going to live forever...sheesh.  And we remembered her eventually.  She didn't need THAT much therapy.  And she always had that nervous tic.  I think.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

But Jillian Michaels Isn't French!

Yesterday I had a Facebook conversation with a published writer friend, whom I asked for advice about writing. 

"Write a book," said she.  "Or just write."

"But I'm like, really busy," said I. "I mean, seriously.  You have no idea.  I have nine kids.  That's right in between eight and ten.  I don't have the time."

"There was a famous French writer who wrote fifteen minutes a day in the time it took his wife to prepare dinner.  In one year, he had a novel."

"So, you're saying I need a wife?  Cuz I haven't had reason to look, but I think my doctrine could have a problem with that...also, my husband.  And what was this French lady preparing that only took fifteen minutes a night anyway?  Were they having cold cuts every night or something?"

"I think you should go back to ballet," she answered. "And stop putting so many photos on your blog.  And arrange your thoughts better, you ramble.  Can you be more concise?"
So then I poked her mercilessly and sent her really annoying FB game requests and random suggestions of friends she doesn't know.  Not really.  And she didn't say that thing about the ballet.  Mostly because she's smart enough to know that I no longer fit into the pink tights and even if I were to fit into the pink tights, the world is not ready to see the result.  Also against my doctrine is pink tights.

Speaking of which, some funny bunny shrunk all the pants in my closet again.  I'm considering possibly maybe purely hypothetically buying Jillian Michael's Shred DVD and going on a diet.  This is the part where you all talk me out of it.  That's why I have you and I don't ask much, just a trifle;  send bigger pants.

Also, I thought of dvr-ing some yoga or pilates programming on my TV, but I kept scrolling through the whole menu a squillion times last night and I couldn't even find the right channel.  I'm sure out of my wealth of channels to choose from, there's got to be a Fit Living, or Health Network, or Get Skinny, Chubby channel, but I couldn't find it for the life of me.  I kept getting distracted by the Food Network anyway.  And the Cheezits crumbs were messing up the remote.  So, I gave up.

Really, I'm not kidding around here, send bigger pants.

Monday, April 18, 2011

VayKay Part Two

Beautiful winery and two cute girls in their twentys.  Or something.

This time Anna tries to escape with the munchkin.  All went well until he pooped.  Then she gave him back.

This little guy on the right?  His name is Grady.  He has always had a small piece of my heart and willpower in his grubby little fist.  He's too darn cute.  I promise him ponies and candy quite constantly.

It's a moose sighting in the pool!  Would it surprise you to no end that he has no fear of water at all?  We're talking none.  He leaps off the side, goes under, comes up sputtering and laughing.  I leap off the side, go under, come up sputtering and need therapy.  If you could get me in a bathing suit to begin with, which is unlikely.

Anna, Nonna, and Cora.  Purty, purty Italian heartbreakers.

Airianna and Gianni sharing brownie batter. Wuv...twoo wuv...that's what bwings us togever today...that, and brownie batter.

OK, if you ever need to rent a car, get one with a sunroof.  Hours of unadulterated fun, boys and girls.  Rowan and Gianni found it immensely satisfying and entertaining.  Also, it has a voice activated something-or-other-thingamabob that Mike can hook up an Ipod to and then tell it what to play.  Very awesome.  Unless Gianni is obsessed with one particular Sugarland song and demands it to play constantly, which he does.

Cora and Channing.  We met this family when our respective girls were itty bitty and their respective mothers were starting the homeschooling process.  We went to a meeting and had to introduce ourselves and give our kids ages, and when Channing's mom stood up and I realized our kids were exactly the same ages I went over and threw myself prostrate on the ground and begged her to be my friend please, because all my other friends were enrolling their kids in preschool and kindergarten and thought I had completely lost my marbles.  Lucky for me, she obliged.  However, I don't like how much her daughters grow when I don't live here and so I think I'm breaking up with her.  Channing is eleven, which sort of makes me want to curl up in a corner and suck my thumb because that means Cora is almost eleven.  Which makes me want to curl up in a corner and suck my thumb.

Silly cousins.  

Thank you everyone for a wonderful vacation.  We miss you.  We love you.  Please come visit us in Michigan - a few more kids won't even be noticeable.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Halfway thru vacation

Half gone is our little Idaho homecoming.  Sadness.  I can't be optimistic and say it's half full, it's simply slipping away by the hours like we knew it would.  Here are some photos and can I just say my thumb is sore and has the shape of the "erase" button on it from having to go through and delete all of Gianni's photography?  I have never seen so many pictures of toes, behinds, windows, nostrils, and nothingness.

This is Cora with our new carry-on piece of luggage.

We may have trouble with this lady, but she can come too.

Having fun with friends.  I heart them.  I miss them.

Once again, we try to abduct small nephews.  We got halfway to Oregon this time before Mama apprehended us.  Fishsticks.


In spite of being told SPECIFICALLY not to grow, these two little gremlins did anyway.

Such cutie patooties.  I changed all their little diapers at one point.  Sigh.

I know you're dying for more and they will follow in the exciting follow up of the second half of vaykay.  Right now I have to go scan and print my contract from my ezine article so I can get paid my millions and billions.  Actually, I don't know how to scan anything so that's why I have a hunky assistant to do those things for me.  He's so very swahvay.

If you are traveling with a small child, say a three year old, and he has food allergies and you can't buy him the usual suspects as far as an airport terminal snack, and you find a lovely and tiny bottle of what looks to be a delicious type of strawberry banana nectar and you give it to him at the layover in Chi-town and he drinks it all and then your husband suddenly yelps in fear and hollers to you across the plane,
"Why did you buy our son an energy drink????"
then, my dears, I will feel your pain.  And let me tell you, although I have never had an energy drink before, I can now attest to their supreme and sublime energy making abilities.  It was a night time flight.  A flight when every single person on the aircraft was snoozing.  Every single person except my hyped up Moose, who was talking so much that spittle was flying out of his mouth.  When we landed, it was 1 am Michigan time and he did the funky chicken through the airport.  When he was done with the funky chicken, he rode the luggage.  Then he talked for another 45 minutes to my parent's house.  Then he crashed.
The end.