Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occupying My Life...It's Not Really a Protest But It Does Tend to Get Out of Hand

Whew!  Have you been worried about me?  I've been gone for a long time, haven't I?

Actually, when I'm "gone" from the blog it means I'm being hysterically present somewhere else.  I have been busy occupying my life (where I am Actually Part of the 99% and pardon me for saying so). My Friend Mark does a monthly photo-dump post.  This is kind of a photo-dump.  Unlike Mark's photos, though, mine are blurry and grainy and generally Not Very Good.  But they're all I've got.

We went to see Ellie. 

It was a long drive and we couldn't even begin it until Camille got out of rehearsals for The Nutcracker - that's right - we began a long car trip loaded down with pillow pets, a Sardine Mama, a Sardine Daddy, a Sardine Grandpa, and a school of fishies - at the Worst Possible Time of the Day. 

We like to treat old people with respect so we stuck my dad in the back seat with a blanket, a windbreaker, and a jar of pretzels.  We hate it when he whines that he's cold or hungry.  He loved listening to the 110 Red Hot Chili Peppers songs we lined up for the least we think he loved was hard to hear what he was saying back there.

When we finally arrived in College Town, USA it was late, but I figured my kid was still up studying or practicing because I Know Her.  I sent her a text:

Hey, I know it's late but we're here and I would like to swing by your dorm for a hug if you're not busy.

She was busy practicing dictation for her Aural Skills class.  I don't know what Aural Skills are but I'm pretty sure it's one of the things they teach at Hogwarts.  She dropped it all and came bounding out of her dorm to meet us on the sidewalk.  I apologized to her in advance for the fact that I was probably going to hug her until Awkwardness Set In.  She sighed and held out her arms.  She felt SO GOOD and I didn't want to let go but I did and was immediately replaced by Camille.  Ellie happily gave her little sister a longer hug - everyone else got the half-hug. 

The next day was spent touring the campus, visiting the dorm, and yes!  We ALL FIT in there with even enough room to spare for the thoroughly traumatized roommate!  My dad really enjoyed it and says he feels better about her being gone now that he actually knows where she is. Camille took this picture of him and it is a great photo because it shows exactly the way he looks when he's looking at Camille.  He's the only grandparent my kids have, but what we lack in quantity we make up for with quality!

And here Ellie is (barely - i almost cut her out) posing with The Brothers.  While we were posing in the auditorium foyer - one of El's professors walked by.  She looked at him - he looked at her - he looked at us - he paused - Ellie didn't say anything - and he kept walking.  "You could have introduced us!" I said.  She was like, "I'm pretty sure he knows you're my family."  She looked at all of us.  "I don't think he thought I was here hanging with my friends - aged 7 through 80-something...."

Jules's shirt is bleach-stained and has a large hole in the back.  He wore his best clothes so as not to embarrass his sister.

And here she is with Camille - who stuck to her like glue.
And here are Camille and Jasper taking a break from Running Amok.
Did I mention Camille stuck to her sister like glue?
We spent all of one day with Ellie - and then we picked her up after classes on the second day.  She took us to a cute little coffee house and out for Thai food.  We dropped her off and said our final goodbyes in front of curious onlookers.  She headed off to her dorm, clutching her take-out container of tom kha gai before heading to a study group, with Camille waving dramatically and tearing up.

And then?  After her study group was over we snagged her up off the street and took her for ice cream.  This was followed by another tearful goodbye.  And then?  The next morning she texted that she wanted us to bring her some CREAM FOR HER COFFEE.  And since we are the pathetic, sad, lonely people that we are....looking for just one more reason to see her....we did it.  We pulled up to the sidewalk as she came out of class and held the carton out the window.  She grabbed it, said thanks and goodbye, and scurried off before we had a chance to start yet another round of hugging.

We couldn't head home yet, however.  Joel had spotted a sword in an antique store the day before and had become somewhat fixated on being its new owner and so we headed back downtown to make your general commonplace no big deal whatsoever sword purchase.  He proudly brandished the thing on the sidewalk, looking all kinds of fierce.  It was weird but only in the expected sort of way.

The next time we'll see Ellie will be at Thanksgiving - and that is when The Nutcracker is up and running and we'll be all crazy so I doubt I'll even feel her presence.  Plus I suspect The Boyfriend will be taking up a certain amount of her time. 

Other things I've been doing? Include turning 16-year-olds into 17-year-olds. Joel is 17. I can't believe it. He celebrated by having a bunch of wild boys over - something he's been doing for his birthdays since he started having birthdays. When he turned 8 he had an Indian Party (although I'm certain I called it a Native American party because sometimes I'm so PC even I can hardly stand myself). The Indian Party was probably the crowning achievement of my Over The Top Birthday Party Phase. I still get just a little bit proud when I think about it.

The boys were each assigned a regional tribe - they were to come dressed in tribal clothing that they had researched themselves, they were to bring a peace offering, and we were to play Actual Native American Games and have an Official Pow Wow. The evening mostly consisted of half-naked boys running around trying to poke each other with Peace Sticks Turned Spears, while screaming at the tops of their lungs. There was Loosening of the Loin Cloths as the evening wore on - the boys too hysterical to notice or care - the parents too exhausted.

If you've read the Indian Party Story on the blog before - pardon me - some of these folks are new here. During the Peace Circle the boys were supposed to make their offerings and give brief reports on their tribes. One little boy, who shall remain nameless but who appears on this post years and years later and wearing a Ramones t-shirt said, "I don't have an offering or a report and my mom says if you pull this crap next year we're not coming." He was wearing a paper sack as a costume, kind of an after-thought, and that made it all the more hilarious.

Look at my little boy with his missing teeth. (I'm going to go cry a little bit now but I'll be right back.)

Can I just point out that I made the tee-pee on the cake MYSELF?

I no longer try to camouflage the violent birthday games by calling their weapons Peace Sticks - these boys have gone Mafia on me, now.  They're into Airsoft Weapons - much as it disgusts me - and so Joel chose to celebrate his birthday by staying up all night shooting at his friends while they shot at him.  As moms pulled up to drop off sons they shouted, "Don't shoot!!" and luckily for the armed boys - they didn't.  Jeff wasn't as fortunate.  He went outside to fill up a cow trough and forgot to yell, "Don't shoot!"  He got shot.  I'm not sure what sounds or words escaped his lips when he felt the first ping, but I'm betting it wasn't G-Rated. 

The boys wouldn't even come in for cake - but when I woke up in the morning it had somehow disappeared during the night.  I tried to be a good hostess and take care of the guests.  "Can I get you boys anything before I head off to bed?" I asked as they took a break from Actually Shooting Each Other to begin Shooting Each Other via video games.

"Just a girlfriend and the keys to your car..." said one of the boys.  Every time I asked a question I received some version of this as an answer so I quit asking after awhile. 

I woke up to this: (That's my big baby sleeping under the piano).

Speaking of boys being boys...Joel and Jules and a couple of friends have started their own animation film company.  Thus far, they have produced one very offensive and not even marginally funny 2-minute video where a cartoon cat is killed, a building is bombed, and the words midget and porn are both used.  I would share a link but NO.  Because a cat is killed, a building blown up, and the words midget and porn are used and oh my god I hate to see what The Googles are going to send my way now.  But the animation is good and Joel did that part all by himself.  It took him hours and hours and hours and hours and I'm really proud of him.  We are currently involved in discussions about crude and offensive humor and what makes it humorous - and the fact that his is lacking the humor. He gets it and is trying to figure out how to get the humorous ramblings of his mind (and they are humorous - I'm subjected to them daily) to stay humorous once it's been transferred to an actual medium.  There's a learning curve.  I'm still trying to perfect my own story-telling craft...often I find that the stories in my mind are Way Less Awesome once they've been written down.  If only we could use those little magic flash drives - just stick them in our heads and then stick them into the computer....

Joel plans to actually own an animation and film studio someday.  He has promised to employ all of his friends and his brothers, thereby making it a charitable operation as well.

Finally, our Homeschool Co-op took a little field trip to see a play adapted from one of R.L. Stine's stories...R.L. Stine of the famous Goosebumps series. 

Our family and two others crammed into our bus and headed over the the insanely crowded theater and its accompanying parking lot and BOOM.  Rock star parking.  One of our mamas suffers a condition that requires the use of a cane and while I'm sure she would gladly trade in her Handicapped Parking Tag for the chance to toss her cane out the door - the rest of us are not used to Rock Star Parking and we were all like Booyah!!  Whoop!!  Right. Up. Front. Sistas. We piled out and were immediately disheartened by the lines and lines and lines of School Kids waiting to get in the front door.  But guess what?  Way up at the front of the line - way off in the distance - we saw that there were two doors.  Two.  And one was for students and one was for individuals.  Again with the Booyah!!-ing and the Whoop!!-ing and we headed right on past all the hundreds of students to correctly identify ourselves as Individuals upon whence we were escorted into the theater that was completely empty except for some families (I spotted tie-dye immediately) seated in the first three rows.  Those are our people!! We were seated in the Homeschool Rock Star Row and awaited the seating of the masses.  Also in the first 3 rows?  Sat R.L. Stine.

As always, when we attend field trips along with School Kids, my ears were ringing soon enough.  Every time the lights dimmed (to start the show, to switch scenes, etc) the kids erupted in out and out total and complete SCREAMING.  Jasper put his hands over his ears and at a certain point, so did I.  And I have seen Van Halen FOUR TIMES, people.  And it was before there were sound ordinances. I'm practically deaf. But I had to cover my ears on this field trip.

After the show R.L. Stine took to the stage to answer questions.  The kids in the audience started raising hands and the questions that came out of the kids' mouths were all the type of questions you would find on the annoying Reading Comprehension quiz at the end of a standardized test literature passage.  Why were they ghosts?  What happened to the parents?  Why was he on a skateboard?  Why did the brother and sister fight?

I wanted to ask, "How did you get noticed by an agent?  What are your advances like?  Could you have busted through as easily in the industry climate of today?"

Finally they took a question from a homeschooler and she asked him how old he was when he started writing.  That was the kind of question we'd been waiting for.  He was 9, by the way.

I'm not sure that the kids in the audience knew that Mr. Stine is a world-famous author or what that even means.  With the exception of that one question, it didn't seem like it.

Would you believe they wouldn't let him sign books?  Rush rush rush - no time for pics - thanks for coming and out the door with all of you.  We waited around and broke the rules.

Hope you enjoyed the pics and are reassured as to my continued existence. 

I have been asked to blog about what a typical Unschooling Day is like for us.  I'm pretty sure I've done it before, but I'll do it again because as I pointed out earlier, some of you are new.  Also?  It's been awhile since anyone bothered to e-mail me to personally tell me that I'm ruining my kids.  

So tell me - how've you been occupying your time over there in your life?


  1. Well? I've been checking your blog regularly to get any news, glad to read this photo dump post! Ellie looks like she's doing just great. And so are the birthday partiers. And I've also been checking Marc's blog, but nothing new over there... And I've worked a bit and tried to sleep at night - but we've been ill and the children are coughing and coughing and so the sleeping is not easy. And then I've checked your blog again for new posts... And that's all. So please, hurry up living your life, so you can write us a new one soonish!

  2. like all of us, life interferes. That is not a bad thing, but you have much to say when you do.

  3. I made it all the way to the end!! However, now I'm too durn exhausted to read any other posts. Ellen is glowing. I guess she is happy!

    How long ago was that Indian party? I still own that skirt - wore it to work last week.

  4. Thanks for reading everyone! And Julie - ha - I almost e-mailed you to tell you to look at the blog :).

  5. I just love when you give me a shout-out. Thanks!
    I'm glad that you could all see Ellie. And here's my thought. If she has time to check her phone for texts during practice, she has time to run down and say hi to you all. And now I finally know who R.L. Stine is. He could have smiled though, don't you think? At least pretty Camille did.
    Okay, so Thanksgiving is coming up. Is that the one where you stand on a bridge and through pumpkins off of it while hosting local soldiers. I seem to have great memories of that post.
    And in my early 20s, I also had parties with a bunch of wild boys, tribal clothes optional. But my guess is that Joel's was a little different.
    Welcome back.
    I think I'll start blogging again next week. You won't believe the tons of things I can get done when I'm not sitting in front of a screen 24/7.
    Your Friend, m.