Saturday, October 30, 2010

getting a little stressed...

I tend to procrastinate when it comes to homemade Halloween costumes.
L. knows this and she has become increasingly concerned about it. I get regular reminders: "Mom, it's only 15 days away!" or "Now there are only TEN more days."

On day 7, I started to complain: "You are going to start stressing me out if you don't stop. Anyway, worst comes to worst, instead of an (elaborate) alien robot costume, I can just make A. into a ghost with an old sheet or something." To my surprise, that sounded great to both the girls. They were so relieved that they wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.

Unfortunately, it was short-lived. L. presented me with this note yesterday morning:

BR's costume is still unmade. Will it get finished on time????

"I'm ready for India!"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

a question for our readers

For those of you who once were children or who currently parent children: what kinds of chores do you think a 6, 4.5 and 3.5 year old can handle, respectively? We have some basic things down like clear the table and tidy up a room. But, honestly, some things they just do so badly so I just do them myself.
A more experienced mom advised me several years ago that what takes a very long time to teach one year can actually be very quickly learned by the same child just a short year later. I have taken her advice and don't drive myself nuts with too many expectations. But perhaps I have too few?

What do you do that works?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

another silly poem in honor of Poetry Wednesday

This one's for you, Josie! (we have a feeling you think about many of the same things...) Check out more poetry over at Kris'.

WHY? (by James Stevenson)

Why is it...
While other people
Are thinking about all kinds of
Important things...
I am thinking about
What it would be like
To jump barefoot
Into an open box
Of jelly doughnuts?

making do with what you've got

We are learning so much this year about ourselves and the kinds of environments in which we thrive. For example, although I may not think of myself as someone who is very rigid about cleanliness and order around the home, it turns out that I need a certain degree of predictability to ensure maximum flexibility. So if we're going to live well in a small space and use suitcases instead of dresser drawers for our clothing (and a couple of cardboard boxes shoved under the dining table for school books and supplies), I need to know that I can easily find anything I need. I put a significant amount of effort into keeping those spaces tidy.

We recently learned that we may or may not live in the same city for the duration of our time in India. There is a possibility we may have to move hundreds of miles south to another city after just a couple of months but no one will know for sure if or when until probably the last minute. I don't know how to plan for that, so I guess we'll just have to cross our fingers and hold our breath, or something. As long as we don't forget to pack toothbrushes and underwear (and anti-malaria medecine), probably we'll be okay in the end.

In the meantime, we continue to (bravely) face each little daily challenge. One of mine is the fact that I have to share a bedroom with BR these days. This would not be a big deal (and it's even kind of fun because we get to cuddle in my bed in the mornings), except that he wakes up way too early. That is one of the reasons we're sharing, actually; I stay close by so that he can't sneak into the girls' room and wake them up way too early. Usually, he wanders around the room scavenging for treasure or stands by the window and gives me updates on the goings on of our neighborhood while I whisper for him to hush and go back to sleep (this is pointless, I know, but I still do it every single day).

He doesn't have a proper bed, either, so we cleared a corner for him and laid out a sleeping bag and he has his blankie and special pillow and he loves it. He tends to roll around the floor a lot, so when I come in at night after he's asleep, I have to try not to step on him.

Last night, I couldn't find him at all so I finally turned on a light. He wasn't in his bed, he wasn't in mine. He was here:

There he is, under the overturned laundry basket in a little "fort" he made for himself. See? We're all learning lessons in flexibility in our current habitats.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

at the Cabin

Cousin P-roc's family owns a cabin and some land a couple of hours out of the city. It is so boring. There is nothing to do there and everything is so ugly. A. and I went up there two weekends ago along with P-body and his parents.
Upon arriving, A. ran through the meadow and threw herself on the ground with a big sigh. "I wish I could come here all the time! No, I wish I could LIVE here. No, I wish I WAS P-roc!!" It's too bad it's no fun there at all.

We rode miniature horses:

we played with sticks (of course):

one of us was brave enough to hold a baby chick:

Behind the cabin there is a cemetery that is very cool and spooky (some of us call it the "zombie yard"). The oldest gravestone is marked 1750:

We can hear the coyotes howling at night but at least they stay far away.

Christine visited for an afternoon.
During some spare time, we practiced our "zombie" faces for Halloween:

and we "screamed for pie" in a sound-proof box (our mamas preferred that).

A neighbor has some horses and donkeys and let us come over to feed them carrots. I tried to get a shot of Christine with the horse, but every time she heard the buzzing of the camera, she turned her head toward me. (the horse, I mean)
Uh, move your head, please.

a little more to the left, now...
Other left...

Come on.

Ah. Very nice.

It is getting cold now, so the cabin's wood stoves need some fuel. Here's Aunt Jerah's first attempt to split a log (it's a right shame there isn't any sound. The effects were pretty awesome, but you'll just have to believe me on that one.)
With those skills, there is no fear that they'll freeze to death. You rock, Jerah!
Ohmygosh, I almost forgot to mention the pumpkin catapult! We went to a pumpkin farm and there was a homemade catapult that will pitch a pumpkin of your choosing onto an old pickup after you write the name of your least favorite vegetable (I forgot my camera). The deal was, if it smashes into the pickup instead of the ground, you won't have to eat that veggie ever again. Unfortunately for P-roc, it looks as if he'll be eating lettuce for a long time to come. (A. didn't really understand the idea and she drew a flower on hers.) There was also a pumpkin cannon and that was awesome. The sound effects alone were enough to make any four year old want one for their own backyard (yikes).

Leia and Kara in NYC

Kara and Leia came to NY a few weeks ago. We ate, we walked (and walked and walked), we sipped tea and wine and talked into the night (who needs sleep, anyway?), and we saw a lot of fun stuff despite rain, rain and more rain. The NY Transit Museum (a personal favorite of mine), Central Park (of course), Brooklyn Bridge and Grimaldi's Pizza, the E and the G and the C and the A and so on, Five Leaves Cafe, and a new museum (to me): the Museum of the City of New York. On the last day, Beth K. came up from D.C. and we had a picnic at East River State Park, again.

Thanks for the photos, gals, and thanks for visiting!

we do crafts every day

As far as blog posts are concerned, I have almost given up on trying to keep up with all the kids' paper creations. That's fine with me, because the other way to look at this is to realize that in terms of this crazy "homeschooling-on-the-go" experiment we are conducting this year, one of the first lessons has been paper, pen, tape, scissors and some markers are more than enough for creative craft-making. You can just forget everything else. Kids these ages apparently can go nuts with it, so string and foam and googly eyes and all the rest are really just "extras." Besides, they don't recycle as easily anyway (see? I can also be smug about it, too!).
What follows is about a third of the crafts that have been produced over the past week.

Here is the front door of our apartment, made "spooky" for Halloween:

and here is a close-up on that top picture. Be afraid, be VERY afraid:

A letter and number of the week (inspired by the NYC transit system):

BR's "Angry Pumpkin" who is angry because "his sisters were stealing his toys":

A.'s witch:

and finally, L's witch (notice how she is flying on a broom)

exactly one month from today...

..we will be getting on that airplane.


portrait of RandB

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Poetry Wednesday

Some more poetry silliness, this time brought to you by Shel Silverstein's Runny Babbit.

Runny Huts His Own Cair

Runny gave himself a cairhut
(But he would not admit it).
When his scamma molded him,
He said, "The darber bid it."
So she went to bee the sarber.
The swarber said, "I bear
I did not souch one tingle head
Upon your little hare."

Kugs and Hisses

Runny said, "I'm lonesome,
I feel so glad and soomy.
I need some kugs and hisses--
Now, who's gonna give 'em to me?"
"I will," said Polly Dorkupine,
"'Cause you're cute as a rug in a bug."
Said Runny, "Well I'll kake the tiss,
But never hind the mug."

(Check out more poems chez Kris)

"Hey mom, take a picture; this is funny!"

Monday, October 18, 2010


BR is a cowboy today. He's been giving us periodic updates about himself in the third person all morning: "The cowboy is eating his lunch. The cowboy is clearing his dishes."

We asked him at one point, "Are you cool, Cowboy?"

"No, I'm just awesome."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Classic Cartoons

Me: "I used to watch Tom & Jerry when I was a kid, too."
L.: "You did? Cool. Which one is 'Jerry' again?"
Me: "The mouse."
BR: "Oh yeah. And which one is 'Tomand'?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

quote of the week

A., (as inspiration struck): "I know, how about after lunch instead of punching each other, we can play 'parade'!"

what the school day around here is like (more or less)

Here are the girls, applying themselves to their work. A. is working on a collage and L. is (obviously) breezing through some math problems.

And there is BR, loading stuff onto his flatbed and about to ram it into the walls--I mean, drive carefully back and forth throughout the apartment:

It's funny, L. is sometimes very forthcoming and honest with us about her feelings, but with homeschooling we somehow can't get her to open up at all. We feel like every day we need to set aside time to have heart-to-hearts in order to get at all those repressed emotions. Does she enjoy school? How does she feel about subtraction problems?

You really don't have to hold it all in, L...

Poetry Wednesday

We have been enjoying a book of silly poems by Douglas Florian and thought we'd participate in Kris' Poetry Wednesday, R and B style.
This one goes out to Mr. P-roc because of his great love of doing mixed up and goofy stuff (and his fondness for sauerkraut).

Mr. Backward

Mr. Backward lives in town.
He never wakes up, he always wakes down.
He eats dessert before his meal.
His plastic plants and flowers are real.
He takes a bath inside his sink
And cleans his clothes with purple ink.
He wears his earmuffs on his nose
And a woolen scarf around his toes.
He loves his gloves worn inside out.
He combs his hair with sauerkraut.
His black dog, Spot, is colored green.
His grandmama is seventeen.
He rakes the leaves still on the trees
And bakes a cake with antifreeze.
He goes to sleep beneath his bed
While wearing slippers on his head.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

L. made up a joke today

What animal loves sports the most?

A basketbull!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

more masterpieces

A.'s subway train, with "people waiting for the train and the train finally came":

L.'s empire state building with a snake crawling on it:

this next one was a team effort: L. drew it and A. painted it.

More from L.:

my personal favorite, "spooky eye cave":


"mommy, put this on the blog; it's cute!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

cute little puppies?

The Art Wall

The guy were subletting from stopped by to pick up some of his stuff the other day and he loved this. (I'm not being sarcastic; he actually took a picture to show his girlfriend because he thought it was so great---Phew.)


Dinner conversation tonight:

L.: "Hey remember when Daddy ate those ribs at that restaurant that one time?"
A.: "Yeah, they were kid's ribs!"
Me: "What? No they weren't. They were pig's ribs. Did you think we said "kid" when we said "pig"?"
A.(not at all fazed): "Uh, yeah."
Me (I needed to be sure): "So you actually thought we were eating a kid's ribs?"
A.: "Yup."

So then, while L. was busy busting a gut, I had to try to calmly explain that while we are okay (more or less) with a pig getting slaughtered so we could eat it, we would not ever want a kid to provide our dinner in that particular manner. The crazy thing was, A. apparently did not think anything about this was weird. "Are you serious?" I asked her one last time. "You really thought we were eating kid meat?" She was getting a little exasperated: "Yes!"

I still can't decide whether this is hilarious, or just EXTREMELY disturbing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

the note I found tucked under my door the other day

more quotes

L: "My favorite thing is to spend time with you, Mom. Oh wait, except for candy..."


BR: "This is taking forever. I'm goin' fishin'."

across the Brooklyn Bridge

It was cloudy and parts of the bridge are under repair so the view was partially blocked, but definitely still worth taking a stroll across.

(don't fly away, BR!)

Then, downtown we ran across this former fire station. Isn't it just the coolest you've ever seen?