Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Final Results

From left to right: D2 as a dangerous green and yellow dragon, D4 as a cowboy turned workerman at the last minute when the other cowboy hat vanished, D1 as a medieval princess, and D3 as a cowgirl with a lasso. Guess which parts of the costumes I was carrying within five minutes of arriving at the carnival, along with four balloon animals, the water, and DOB's shoes.

A good time was had by all, and the following morning as they sorted out and compared their candy, D3 composed the following song:

"I see mine! It's all mine! It's all mine! I love that it's mine! I can see mine! ..."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Into the Woods

Fun: Building forts and climbing in the giant maple trees on a sunny fall day.

Not so fun: Clearing out half an acre of nettles in order to get to the trees.

As Long As It's Gray

So the big kids have been thinking a lot about costumes this week, and about the AWANA carnival coming up next week. Actually they've been thinking about it a lot for the past two months.

D1 has remained unvarying in her choice: a princess. However, she's been designing her own costume, including making a headdress loosely inspired by Griselda in The Court Jester which consists of a piece of purple gingham in an embroidery hoop, with purple butterfly charms sewn onto it. (Yes, she did them herself, with some help threading the needle.) I'm not sure what will wind up being on the rest of her, but you can be sure of one thing: She will not look like she got a Disney Princess costume off the rack.

D2 initially varied between being a robot and being a knight. No problem, I said, and made sure his fall wardrobe included a pair of gray sweatpants and a gray thermal shirt. Robot or knight, we're covered with the base, and he already had the knight accouterments, whereas a robot merely required a cardboard box spray-painted silver.

But "indecision" is D2's middle name. As the time drew near, he started thinking about other things. I got worried. DOB suggested a dog or a wolf. "It's OK," I said, "Dogs are gray. Wolves are gray. All it takes is a pair of ears. I can do that." Other ideas came up. D1 made a long list of possibilities (and an equally long list for herself, all variations on Girls Wearing Fancy Dresses), then asked me to correct the spelling and recopied it twice. Most of them could be done in some variation of gray, if not just regular clothes.

Unfortunately, what he finally seems to have settled on is Dragon, after some concern over whether it would violate the carnival's ban on scary costumes. (I pointed out that some dragons are non-scary, like the one in The Reluctant Dragon.) And what kind of boring dragon is gray?

I did dig up an old but not impossibly small bright yellow hoodie that I can sew felt spikes and a tail on. But I'm still kind of hoping he'll switch back to knight before I do it.

And I have an uneasy feeling that whatever I sew, he'll wish at the last minute he'd picked something else.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Picture from D2's Birthday

Impressed by my glamorous cake? He asked for a house. It was a house. He could help make it. We actually got it made. Someday D1 will be old enough to make fabulous complicated cakes like I used to make before I had kids to make them for.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The State of Things

After being absent all summer (and spring, and winter), the sun has finally come out. When it gets high enough to shine over the trees. Not entirely coincidentally, I recently decided to scuttle school in the mornings in favor of going outside. I needed more fresh air. The twins needed more activity in the morning, or they failed to fall asleep until 4:30 in the afternoon, and then had to be woken for supper, and it went downhill from there. The hard part has been persuading the big kids (OK, D1 mainly) that the great big world out there is in fact equally if not more interesting than that of books and drawing.

The main culprit in the aversion to outdoors has been the spiders. This has been an unusually good year for spiders, and for most of September one could hardly take a step outside without getting entangled in a web. Cars parked overnight would sport webs in the morning, sparkling over the slug trails.

As a counterbalancing measure, we read Charlotte's Web and Spiders by Seymour Simon and learned to identify and distinguish them, but academic interest could not entirely overcome the icky sensation of an unexpected face full of web. But the spiders are starting to die off with the advancing fall, and there are compensating activities: raiding the last of the raspberries and huckleberries; making stone soup; spotting rare squirrels, heron nests, and gopher snakes giving birth.

At the same time, the Washington Bar rule change finally became effective and I can qualify for active status again if I take 45 hours of continuing education; half of that has to be live. Then another fifteen hour class for good measure. Fortunately webcasts count as live classes for the first requirement, but even so getting it all in over the next two months so I can be active at the beginning of next year will be daunting. It also looks like the legal research I've been doing will be picking up, for another 15-20 hours a month. Which doesn't seem like that many hours on paper, but it does when someone wakes up early from naptime.

And school? Well, they taught themselves to read last year, so we're already ahead of the game. Why rush matters? They have their whole lives to be chained to desks; best to get them out and running while they still can. Besides, I still hold the best and simplest method of education is to leave a child idle in the presence of heaps of books. It worked for C. S. Lewis and Samuel Johnson. And, less illustriously but more practically, for me. Why not the ducklings?