Ten weeks

26 Apr 2017 01:24 pm
wayfaringwordhack: (art - guitton housework)
For some weeks now, I've been feeling really puffy and moonfaced. Just the other day (no points for observation for me) I noticed that this puffiness is in my legs, too. I'm feeling stiff and sore for no reason.  So, I've decided that I'm going to go off gluten for the remainder of the time we are here. Not because i have a proven sensitivity to it, I just want to see what my body does without it. I'm also cutting down on carbs* overall, especially those in a processed form. I'll still eat veggies and fruits that contain them. I haven't decided on brown rice, etc. yet. Of course thinking about what I put in my body makes me more aware of the lack of exercise I get. I'm going to change that as well. To get rid of the edema, I'm drinking lemongrass infusions; juices with celery, parsley, ginger, lemon...; cutting back on salt; elevating my legs; and giving myself massages to move the fluid. I'm going to do some yoga for lymphatic flow.  If it doesn't go away or comes back again, I'll have to go to the doc to figure out why I have it and try to get it under control before flying out.

I hope to be a lighter in body and spirit when we get to our new place.

Speaking of weeks, the kids and I are without J as he spends two weeks working at the French consulate in Alexandria. We had planned to go see him this weekend, but some unexpected work on his end and the fact that Alex is even louder, apparently, than Cairo and is not kid-friendly to navigate, we've cancelled that.

This separation is a foretaste of what our lives will be like in France, and so far the kids are sort of OK. Junebug, however, seems to be a bit needier than usual and is more set on persecuting Sprout. "It's the age and the stage," she stoically tells me. This comes from me telling her that she also went through this when she was younger. Junebug's issues are exacerbated by Ti'Loup's presence in his life. He loves his baby brother and is often affectionate towards him, but boy does he dislike Ti'Loup being near me when he, Junebug, is tired or in need. Ti'Loup just turned 11 months old, but he already senses the rivalry and is starting to glare at Junebug. :-/

Now back to my cleaning and packing...

____________
* Carbs are a no-no of sorts for me because of my PCOS.


wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
As you can guess from the subject line, Sprout is still crazy in love with dinosaurs (at this time in her young life she says she'll be a paleontologist when she grows up), so dinosaur fun it was.

A peek at the preparations and some party photos.

I made my first ever pinata, a triceratops that I failed to get a picture of before it was smashed to pieces. Huge Fail. Especially since it was finished days before the party. Have some production shots:



My mil tactfully said, "That's not a dinosaur. It's a rhinoceros." And then wisely--since she'll be the first to tell you she isn't really "up" on her animals, much less dinosaurs--added, "Or maybe not." LOL

OK, I lied. I pulled a stillshot of the finished pinata from the video of the kids smashing it, but it was filmed at night and doesn't do it justice. If I do say so myself.


Out of salt dough, I made four dinosaur skeletons, one for each team of mini paleontologists to race to assemble. Here is part of the pterandon, drying:


Each dino had 45-50 "bones"  and measured one meter long. That's a lot of salt dough. I assembled and photographed them so the kids would have a "cheat sheet."  I had to use it myself to double-check the spinosaurus.


I would have loved to have the kids excavate the "fossils" and then put them together, but a) we don't have the room in our yard, and b) I didn't think the fossils would survive that. :P

Since this wasn't a surprise party, Sprout and Junebug got in on the decorations:


I got the idea for this cool banner off Pinterest:


Instead of cutting out each letter, I drafted the whole on three large sheets of paper, which I taped together.

I made dino eggs out of salt dough and coffee grounds with a small (not as little as I wanted, actually) dinosaur figurine inside. I was going to make one for each kid, but Egypt is not the US where one can find any little trinket one wants, not even in the Egyptian Toys-R-Us. So the eggs, which looked very much like rocks, doubled as decor, holding up an ostrich egg as a centerpiece. You can barely see them in the photo above, but I'll post another. There where just enough eggs that I could give them out to the members of the winning team in the Great Dino Games. But we played those after snacks, which were:

Herbivore Munchies, Cretaceaous Chips, (GF) Carnivore Chicken Bites, (GF) Pterosaur Tuna, Dino Tails (baby corn), dinosaur eggs, dino DNA, Fruitivore salad, Marshosaurus Molars (large and small marshmallows; I was pretty chuffed to find a dinosaur called Marshosaurus); dinosaur fossils (huge pain in the butt; will never make again), dino print cookies, and prehistoric popcorn.



I jazzed up some free food tent printouts with free clipart.

After snacks, the kids divided up into their herds: Triceratops, Stegosauruses, Spinosauruses, and Pteranodons.

Then they played Dino Stomp, which consisted of a timed race to pop all the balloons tied to J's ankles and wrists while he did his best to escape them. Next was Pterosaur fishing, at which the Pteranodon team exceled, clenching their victory of the games since they were able to catch the "special" fish, worth ten points. :P Then came the fossil puzzles, and finally the naked egg spoon race. That didn't last long, as you can imagine with small children, but it was OK because it was getting late and time for cake.



pinata.jpg

See how narrow our yard is:

pinata.jpg

I was all over the place with the party and didn't take any of the photos. So my absolute biggest fail was not getting a photo of the cake. It was a volcano, four layers high to get the cone shape. It had both chocolate and red velvet layers and was covered in icing, then ganache, and drizzled with red and yellow icing to simulate lava flows. It was a pinata cake; the top three layers were hollowed out to make the volcano chimney and filled with candy. It had fake palm trees and sparklers, and it was pretty awesome, even if prior to being decorated it it looked like a steaming pile of dino poo. LOL

Again I tried to pull photos from the video, but yeah...just not the same.



Happy Birthday, Sprout.
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wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
I forgot to take pictures of this week's creative endeavors,* but I remembered to take one of Ti'Loup's quilt. (fresh out of the washing machine; should have ironed it for the photo. :P )  And because [livejournal.com profile] frigg made me laugh with a comment the other day to the effect of "In my mind, your craft room is a pristine space," you also get a bonus of the reality that is my atelier. I did spare you the mess that is the children's side. In fact, their workspaces so are overflowing with their stuff that they always come to my tables... o.O In fact, I had just cleaned the table on the left to install the new tablecloth and the stuff you see there is Junebug's and Sprout's paintings in progress.

So, the blanket:





Mess:



_______________
* I did some colored pencil sketches of fruits and plants, and two watercolor "exercises". One was an attempt (following a tutorial) of painting mixed media abstract flowers. I kind of failed on the abstract part. I think I'll take another stab at it is this week. I also did a painting of a leaf as an exercise in mixing colors. While I'm not happy about how my leaf turned out, I did succeed in mixing up the colors I wanted, using those handy watercolor mixing charts I made a while back, which you can see hanging on the left-hand wall in the photo above.  Junebug joined in every now and then, but Sprout did both exercises with me, and we had a lot of fun talking color together. It was neat to hear her repeating Quinacridone Magenta and Burnt Sienna to herself. It is amazing to watch a kid making knowledge her own.
wayfaringwordhack: (Junebug: Diggin' life)
This morning, Sprout and Junebug donned J's and my clothes so they could be the parents.  Sprout informed me that our housekeeper would be keeping us "children" while she and Papa went to the Opera.

She and Junebug went into the yard and were sitting on the steps:

Junebug sings "Who Let the Dogs Out!" *
Sprout: That is not what you listen to at the opera!

Sprout begins to hum a La, la, la, lilting tune, and Junebug insists on repeating, louder, Who let the dogs out!!!!

Sprout: No, no, no. That is not opera music.

:P

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* Junebug's interest in (and knowledge of the existence of this song) is thanks to his father who heard it over 15 years ago during his first visit to the States to meet my family. He never heard it again. Talk about a good memory for earworms. If only he remembered other things as well as he remembers music. ;)

Junebug sings this a. lot. A couple of weekends ago, we were on a family retreat, and at 1:30 a.m., Junebug woke up crying.  Both J and I tried to comfort him, to no avail. Finally, he began to quiet down, and we heard a dog bark outside. He happily sang, "Who let the dogs out" and fell back asleep shortly after. :P
wayfaringwordhack: (Junebug: Diggin' life)
The other day, Sprout and I set up a crystal growing experiment.* After the water evaporated from a shallow dish with Epsom salts, we observed the bits of string, wood, rock, cement, etc. to see which materials the crystals grew on the best.

Sprout: The crystals didn't like this metallic pipe cleaner.
Me: Yeah, they seem to prefer natural materials over synthetic ones, man-made things.
Sprout: Human-made, Mom. You don't know if a man or a woman made them.

Right you are, Sprout. :P

_______
We set up three different solutions: 1) Borax 2) Epsom salts, and 3) Borax and Epsom salts.  Both 1 and 2 grew crystals, but the mix of Borax and Epsom salt, tested both hot and cold, didn't "grow" anything and nothing has formed upon evaporation.
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
Last week, Sprout and I were in an accident on the scooter.

It was my fault; for some reason, unknown and completely unrecallable, I accelerated when I was trying to brake to avoid hitting two cars who were closing the gap I was driving in.

I flipped over the front of the scooter, landing on my back, a mercy for a woman who is 7 months pregnant.  My right side was banged up from flying over--and breaking--the mirror, but I had no other big injuries. Sprout's bottom lip and chin were cut by the visor of her helment, and her left wrist was abraded, but the sweet love's first words were, "Momma, are you OK? Are you all right, Momma!?"

Many Egyptians came to our aid, offering help, water, comfort...even returning the two coins that had fallen from my pocket.

When Sprout finally calmed down enough, she told me that she is not used to crash landings. To which I fervently replied, neither am I and I hope we never have to get used to them. The baby was moving normally that night, and since I had no abnormal pains or anything suspicious, the doctor said all was well. I was a little nervous upon discovering a bruise just above my navel, but Coquille has been unfazed.

The next day, I was pretty sore, but Sprout seemed fine. She and Kainam got the full-fledged flu, though, and I got a nasty cough that insured this was one tiring week.  The kids still have fever today, but I hope we are all on the mend...

The gift

4 Feb 2016 05:11 pm
wayfaringwordhack: (glass ball)
Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts about gift-giving in my last post.  I'm going to reply here with what we ended up doing.

After discussing it with J, we decied to let Sprout make a gift (a picture she drew, for which we got a frame) and then to offer a second gift from the rest of the family.  So, Sprout did her drawing, and we went to an art supply store to look for a frame. While we were there, Sprout saw a heart-shaped canvas. She grabbed it and exclaimed, "Oh, Mom! I know A would love this! Can we please buy it for her?  It's just like a heart and will show her I love her. Oh, please!" I agreed to the great idea and suggested we also buy some paints and brushes, so A would be sure to have something to make a masterpiece with.  Then Sprout picked out "the most hearted gift bag" to show A how much she loves her.  We put the framed picture and art supplies together and voilà.

I liked the idea of buying something Sprout could personalize, but in Egypt, things like that are not to be found just anywhere. With the short delay, we didn't have time to hunt something down.

And we don't know if A liked the present or not. It is the family's tradition to open the gifts after the guests have gone.
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
Tonight, Sprout enjoyed telling us (pseudo-enacting?) her conception at the supper table.

Sprout, pushing J's beer bottle next to the water carafe:  This is Papa and this is Momma, and you have to put them really close because, you know, they have to be touching so...

Sprout puts the salt shaker behind the water carafe, opposite the beer bottle: This is me. What do sperm look like?

J: Comme des têtards (Like tadpoles)

Sprout, taking pieces of bread and molding them into tadpole shapes: OK, so we're going to have the girl's team and the boy's team, and we're going to see which one gets to Momma's egg first.

Me: On your mark, get set, go!

Sprout, making the sperm swim, with the girl sperm in the lead: Ha! You know why the girl sperm got there first? Because all the other girls were holding the boys' tails!

And that, friends, is why Sprout is a girl.
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
A bit of a mixed bag today. Lots of emotions, not all good.

This morning we all went to the store and bought food to give to those in need, then J went this afternoon and bought lots kids clothes, blankets, socks, and hats. We went to a roundabout where we know some families sleep and handed out the stuff. After everything but two bags of food had been given, another lady came running and tried to make someone share with her. The sharing did not happen, so I gave her the remaining two bags. She wanted us to give her more, but we had nothing else. Then two other men showed up, and J tried to explain that we had given everything out and they should divide it amongst themselves. We drove off with some still begging and others sitting on their goods. Don't know what they decided, how it was settled, but it left us feeling bad.* :(

Sprout was asking hard questions today, like: How do you make yourself die when your family dies so you don't have to live lonely? :-/

On a brighter side, I bought a new sketchbook to motivate me to finally get some work done on the kids book I started last year and to organize my thoughts/ideas better since my doodles were scattered all over the place in my other drawing pad. I did two studies this afternoon and hoped to do a third, but I feel a bit beat up and am carrying stress in my lower back. I think the wiser thing to do is to go to bed.

__________
* I've been repeating to myself that the giving is not about me and was never meant to make me feel good about myself or what-have-you. I believe one should give a gift without any kind of strings or expectations projected onto the receiver. But I do feel that we weren't responsible givers in that we didn't try to spread things out a bit make to make sure more people got help. Knowing that people live in such desperation that they will fight to get or keep anything makes me feel totally hopeless to help in a meaningful way.

FIVE!

1 Nov 2015 05:24 pm
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
Last week, we celebrated Sprout's fifth birthday. All parents say this, but, Wow. Where did the time go?  A little update on the not-so-little Miss:

Read more... )


All in all, she continues to be a real live wire...
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: Soëlie eating)

Can you guess which one?

I made a Thai-influenced soup for lunch:

Junebug took his spoon, dug in, and proclaimed, "Tasty!"*

Sprout looks in her bowl and without tasting it, wails, "I like shrimp, I like calamari, I like chicken; what a bad surprise this is, having them all together! And rice! I didn't want my rice mixed in!"

o.O


_________

* Yes, I made the soup, so I might be biased, but it was very tasty.

wayfaringwordhack: (art: energized)
At last, a full week on the creative front.  I finally finised the "Project of the Week" that I've had on my agenda since we got back from our holiday by the sea:  Make Junebug a bucket hat.

I used fabric from my stash, which means one side of the reversible hat is exactly like the last hat I made him, and the other is from one of the hooded towels I made from Sprout before she was born. Nothing like getting mileage out of one's purchase.

The model was not too pleased with having to wear the hat. Naturally.

Photographic proof of productivity this way... )

I also did a lot of research about illustrating children's books--watching videos, tutorials, browsing sites for inspiration--and now I need to get back to finishing up the text.
____________
* Sticky tack is the greatest thing for paper dolls, infinitely re-stickable yet mess-free. Way better than paper tabs that get weak and tear from overuse.
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
While I predicted this past week would be a wash on the creative front, I secretly hoped it would not be so.  I even took the time before our trip to download a scad of reference photos to my hard drive so I could work on my children's book illustrations.  'Twas not to be, though; I only managed one sketching session with Sprout while Junebug napped on our second to last day.

This is a view of a succession of terraces at our hotel as seen from our terrace.  The perspective was so cool that I started to do a very precise sketch with pencil and then realized I wouldn't have time to finish something accurate and detailed. I defaulted to a charcoal stick. Sadly, I had only my "cheap" sketchbook with me; its smooth paper doesn't have any tooth to hold charcoal so it is very smudgy and loose:


I also planned to make headway on Junebug's sweater but I had to rip out the rows I had on the sleeves (again) and start over because I'm sure they will be too small. I still have hopes of finishing it before May, though. :P

Today I did some doodling* with the kids and broke out the sewing machine to fashion some eyeholes in a sleep mask for Sprout, who wanted to pretend she was a Mousquetaire (Musketeer).
_________
* I set it up as a Double Doodle activity, but Sprout soon started doing her own thing. And of course, give a one-year-old markers and "do your own thing" is the de facto name of the game. :P
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
I don't know if I've shared before that we are planning on unschooling our kids or not, but yes, we are.

Anyhow, yesterday, we were carpooling to and from ballet and as we were approaching our building, I turned to Sprout and told her to say bye to her friend.

Sprout: I'm telling Salma about unschooling.
Me: Oh, I'm very interested to hear what you said.
Sprout (while we were climbing the stairs to our apartment): I told her it means you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.

After a good belly laugh, I gently corrected that to: LEARN whatever you want when you want to.  And yeah, you get to do a lot of stuff you want to do, just because you want to.*

And don't you know Salma must think unschooling is a pretty cool thing. :P

___________
*Obviously this is missing a lot of nuance, but she's only 4. ;)
wayfaringwordhack: (art: energized)
I was a sketching fool this week, so much so that on Thursday I thought it must already by Sunday and time to post something.  I also pinned a ton of reference photos and sketching exercises to help me work on a style that will appeal to kiddos as well as myself. I have never excelled at "cartoony" illustration and I'm not sure that I will this time, or even that I want to. Whatever I come up with has to be me.

As usual, I didn't get around to taking photos, even though I have some stuff that is non-spoilery and would have worked for a snippet.  I, however, take a photo of a craft I did with Sprout and will share that instead:

Behold, unicorns:

IMG_6561
IMG_6565
Sprout is very into unicorns at the moment (in fact she just used the magic in her horn to transform me into a unicorn, too), so when I saw this craft on The Artful Parent from the book Happy Handmade, I knew I had to do it with her.
wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
I keep saying I'll take photos of what I'm doing so that I can make a decent snippet post, but we've taken other pictures of late, which I'll include under a cut.

On the creative front, I've been crocheting a sweater for Junebug.  Given the shortness and mildness of Egyptian winters, I'm making for 18-24 mo, but I don't know if it will be big enough next year. I've also been doing some sketches, working on a suitable style for a picture book idea I have. And baking: galettes, pizzas, bread. Baking counts, right?

So photos:
family time )
____________
* Sprout was 14 mo in the photos in the link; Junebug is 10 mo. :)
wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
To paraphrase from The Princess Bride, There is too much; I'll sum up...about our trip to Oklahoma, that is.

For three weeks:

We rested, following the sun's rhythms pretty closely, not bothered at all by the yapping of coyotes, which is so much more melodious as it rolls down hills and creeks, echoing off oaks than is the barking and snarling of the wild dogs that run the concrete labyrinth of this city.

sunrise

(the photos are clickable)

Rest of the trip, this way... )

_________________________

* Has anyone else been in proximity to an armadillo? There was one funky smell in its wake, and we don't know if it was the creature itself or something it had come in contact with. It smelled like skunk and wild garlic/onions.
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
We are all still trying to get over our jetlag. Truth be told, without the kiddos, J and I would be just fine by now.  Sprout is never ready for bed at "bedtime," and three weeks romping around the countryside have made her even more of a caged tiger in our apartment. Even though Junebug is getting better about falling asleep at his regular time, he doesn't stay asleep. New favorite:  Playing from 1 a.m. to 4a.m.  It is jetlag, yes, but it is also teething.  He is going to get four teeth in the space of one month. Three are already in and the other top one is just beneath the skin.

And all of this adds up to a very tired me.  Sorry I'm not back yet, not in the sense that I'm able to keep up with anything.  Hopefully by week's end.  Hopefully. For now, color me brain-dead.

In the good news department, the weather here is lovely, not getting hotter than 32C/89.6F.
wayfaringwordhack: (art: monk)
Art is partly communication, but only partly. The rest is discovery. -William Golding, novelist, playwright, poet, Nobelist (1911-1993)

The above is a quote that I received in my inbox.  Very apt as I'm working on my painting and am a bit terrified of moving on (read: messing up). I thought I had a better paint selection on hand than what I actually have, so now the question is: Continue with the discovery or put progress on hold until I buy more paint.  My creative impulse is telling me to 'Get out and make your own discoveries!*' but my mind is screaming, "Don't you dare ruin it!"

In any case, I have the underpainting done in raw umber and burnt sienna:

underpainting


_________________
*Paraphrasing Dr. Scott, who, at the end of each episode of the cartoon "Dinosaur Train," encourages kids to:  "Get outside, get into nature and make your own discoveries!"
wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
I've finally gotten around to working on that oil painting idea I have.

This week's art effort )

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