30 septiembre 2014

The Benefits of Big Eyes

Once upon a time, I had a friend with the biggest, brightest blue eyes.  She knew just how to blink, and voilà!  Free coffee, free scones...

Well, now it's Mita's turn.  To make a long story short, the other day, a woman was so mesmerized by Mita's huge brown eyes that she brought her a piece of cake.

I am a bit jealous, as my smaller and piercing eyes just seem to put people on edge; however, at least I get to benefit from those larger-eyed beauties around me.

29 septiembre 2014

Our Little Archers, Three

Ty and arrows?  Clearly, I was away, far away, working at Market.
Girumy, while Rob wasn't ready, shot an arrow all by himself and it hit/stuck in the hay bale!
Notice Mita's nice form and the flying arrow!

This week's harvest

It seems to be almost over.  I mean, there is still a lot of parsley and kale to eat, along with some cool weather greens and the spaghetti squash, if they ever decide to mature, but... -a sad sigh-...

Broccoli side shoots, ground cherries, a few tomatoes, the last peppers and a few beans from the very protected late planting that I put over at the dacha.  I only have two more weeks to work over there, so I hope I get some more.  They are oh-so tasty.
These are more of the volunteer squash that ended up covering the bed where the destroyed-by-rabbits beans once were.  Rob has been making them into bread, which has been such a nice treat.  Those are a few Trail of Tears beans.  I planted a few, quite late, thinking that something is better than nothing.  And though the amounts will not be more than snack-size, I am so happy that I sneaked them in.  What is it with ground cherries?  I still cannot decide if I like them or not.  My babies love them though, so I will always try to have at least one plant.  It is still covered with fruit.

Check out others' harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

25 septiembre 2014

Around here

This morning I put on a skirt, which is a very rare happening: I only did it because I couldn't find any pants.  As I walked into the living room, G said to Ty and Mita, "She's cuter than the world!  Eh... she's cuter than everybody in the world!"  -a huge smile-

Once, when I was working in Ukraine, a teacher asked me if, to my ear, they spoke British or American English.  I replied, "You speak Ukrainian English."  I don't think that they liked my answer, but it was the truth.  Although I would like to avoid it, our situation is such that we speak Slightly Stensbergian Spanish.  We have coined the term, to my knowledge, "doto," which is short for dormitorio.  Girumy came up with picazón, which is what he calls rubbing alcohol, for its effect on open wounds.  And we also have hacer crac, which is the verb I use when I want the kids to crack my fingers or toes for me.  -a defeated ay-

School.  Oh, school.  So, I really felt that I needed to force some things to make home school legitimate.  I was wrong: That is one of the blessings of home school, we can make our own schedule.  Our morning doesn't have to look like the morning at the school across the street.  Consequently, I have re-instituted "children-only play time" after breakfast so that I can finish a cup of coffee and do the dishes.  There is time to get everything done in the morning.  There is time to finish a cup of coffee.  Everyone is happier since I put that time back in.  The kids have the opportunity to be free and I can start the school time with an alert and calm mind.  I am so grateful for the freedom we have to homeschool.
After doing a sorting activity with the pegs, Ty decided to make la cruz de Jesús.
Mita still needs a LOT of work on her fine motor skills.  Here, she is working to link a set of mosquetones.  It is so difficult for her, but she finally linked and then unlinked them all.
G's letters are getting so clear.  I now let him pick if he wants to do upper- or lowercase.  Afterwards, we do a page in his alphabet book, followed by copywork (from a list of words he created by initial letter and his name).  Then we do some Math activities.  This is his morning seat-work routine.  

22 septiembre 2014

This week's harvest

Ooo!  My first parsnip ever.  I am so glad that I decided to grow them.  And I know that it's early to pull them, but I just wanted to see what was going on under the ground.  And wahoo!  A beautiful parsnip.  I, did, however, mangle it during the unearthing.  I will have to be much more careful when I finally pull the rest.
Fried green tomato sandwiches anyone?  Lunch is at noon.

More of the great seed pumpkins and chard, parsley and basil, which made another delicious pesto.
Check out others' harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

19 septiembre 2014


1.  So, the first time it happened was already several weeks ago, but the phenomenon has continued.  It is called "the other side of the lens" and it makes me feel strange.

A completely veiled mother and her dark-browed son bought some vegetables from me at Market.  And as the son and I were making the transaction, the mother pulled out her phone and snapped some photos of us...  not of the vegetables, not of the scenery, but of me, the exotic one, doing business with her son.

Now, I have been to lots of markets.  And I have snapped photos: of overflowing boxes of chicks in Simferopol, of piles of glistening fish in Venezia, of a rainbow of fruit in Santiago... Hm, and of the group of ladies that sold woolen shawls... So, I guess that I am no different.  But it just feels so different.  I wonder if my taking a photo of the shawl-ladies made them feel exotic.  I remember that they were quite excited to get photographed and asked me to where I was taking them, photographically.  They were thrilled at the idea of going to America.  :). If I had to guess, I am now, photographically, in Iran.  I HAVE always wanted to go there!

2.  A few visits back, our pediatrician, who is African-American, told me the following as we were talking about race: She was at a conference.  One of the days, she wore her hair in a sort of French braid.  That day, she felt that people treated her differently and made so many comments about how nice she looked.  At the time, I was like, "I don't know.  That doesn't seem like such a big deal."  Well!  This week I was a bit lazy and so I put two French braids in Mita's hair, instead of the ten or more twists that I normally put it.  A recognizable number of white people have gone on and on about how cute she looks and how I should do that hairstyle more frequently.  Hmm.  I get it now, Doctor.

3.  I was given the exercise this morning of imagining that there was a fire in our house and of preparing to get out.  I put the kids near the unlocked doors, got a coat and shoes for each of us (Yes, I consciously picked my precious Kickers.), and grabbed the kids' adoption binders, our passports, our computers and camera and my bag with my medications.  That is it.  It made me happy that, as I surveyed the scene, nothing else said, "Take me."

17 septiembre 2014

Welcome to...

el Colegio Mansoul

Finally, during a very rare bit of alone-time this morning, I chose to begin reading volume 4 of Charlotte Mason's homeschooling series.  And there it was!  The name for our school.  I love it.

I had imagined beginning classes at el Colegio Mansoul with some sort of fanfare; however, we just woke up at 7 on Monday, instead of the 7:45 that I have been working on all summer, and began our day.  For my memory's sake, I am going to record our general schedule.

At 7, we go straight to the couch for free prayer, Bible reading, Hebrew prayer recitation and hymn singing.  Rob is able to join us for this time, for which I am so grateful.  Right now we are working on Holy, holy, holy and it has been so nice to hear Mita singing, "Merciful and mighty" throughout the day.  Then we eat and get ourselves and the house ready.

We begin with classical music appreciation (currently: Vivaldi's Summer), followed by reading.  We do a chapter book (Charlotte's Web, in Spanish, for the fifth time), a page from a kids' encyclopedia, a themed non-fiction book (It's Australia right now.), poetry in English and Spanish, art study (It's the Mona Lisa right now.), and then a S____ hymn.

From there we move to Calendar Time, which concentrates heavily on numbers.  Then it's Individual Activity time: I have three stations and each kid needs to do at least one activity from each station.  We finish with Map Study.

The twins then get to go play, while Girum does his seatwork: personal information, handwriting, math.  And finally he gets to go play too.

After lunch I do Reading in both Spanish and English with Girum and then Phonics in Spanish with Ty and Mita.  Ty is SO excited to be learning to read!

We all do so much better with this structure for most of our day.  I am so glad that they love this time and don't fight it at all.  That is a blessing.

15 septiembre 2014

This week's harvest

My need for order last fall seriously messed up this year's grape crop.  Usually I have buckets and buckets.  Argh!  To next year!  Meanwhile, these few are so, so tasty.

Really, I am so impressed with these seeds.  The Silver-Edged Something Pumpkin was FULL of them.  I added these to our granola this week.  Next week, I will pre-toast and chop the seeds, before adding them to the finished granola.  I have about five more pumpkins to use.  Wahoo!
I harvested quite a bit of parsley (for falafel) and dill (for the accompanying yogurt sauce) this week, along with more basil for pesto, using sunflower seeds.  Mmm... potatoes, beans, tomatoes and pesto!

Please check out others' harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

10 septiembre 2014

Good riddance!

So, for the past two and a half years, I have shrouded myself in a pink or a purple hooded sweatshirt.  They brought me home, post-surgeries, they kept me warm in the chemo-chair, they covered my bald head and then they passed as "real clothes" while I was trying to figure out how to be a mom to three.  Over the past couple of years, I have worn them probably four out of every seven days.  (By the way, Moose Jaw, you make some seriously durable clothes!)

I have come to realize that I am an all-or-nothing kind of person, that I deal best with thorough separations.  And so, as one step in an effort to move on from the _____ (I don't mean for that to be a swear.  I just really don't know what I want to call IT.) of the past few years, my sister and I held a Hoodie Destruction Ceremony.

Notice the ceremonial candle in the background.  It just seemed appropriate.
It is finished.
Just to make sure...
And then Madame Clicquot and Snyder came to celebrate with us!  L'chaim!
- a cleansing sigh-

P.S.  A funny note regarding the title:  I once told my GranniOna, as we were leaving her house, "Good riddance!"  I had no idea what it meant, but I thought that it sounded intelligent, because it was longer than "Goodbye."  Oops!

08 septiembre 2014

Last and this weeks' harvest

Although we didn't plan anything for Labor Day weekend, all of the sudden, Bam!  We were happily booked solid: babysitting, Market, an African (including us, the honoraries) gathering in honor of a visiting Brother, an extended family lunch, sleep-overs, an extra hair-braiding session, a visit to dear old friends in Illinois... Wow.  Consequently, I am combining last and this weeks' harvest.
I didn't even plant this broccoli, but it volunteered.  And it was most delicious!  Those potatoes were left-overs that I found as I was weeding at the dacha.
So, the volunteer acorn squash have been falling off of the seriously mildewed vines.  I'll see what I can do with that one.  The Galia melons have also been just falling off the vines.  This one was good enough, but not dreamily tasty as it should have been.  To next year!
I am so thankful for all of these tomatoes!  Presently, I am oven-drying some to make Lidia Bastianich's most delicious, and my children's favorite, artichoke heart and dried tomato pasta sauce.
Those are our Silver Something seed pumpkins, which are supposedly very easy to hull.  We'll see.  The first Macaroni pepper was ready, along with some more Sunshine peppers.  And more tomatoes!
I do believe that we'll be eating fajitas this week.
In addition, we have harvested lots of kale, mizuna and basil.  
Check out others' harvests at Daphne's Dandelions.

07 septiembre 2014

Welcome, China, India and Germany!

So many families from around the world (Puertollano, Sevilla, Brussels, Parma, Perugia, Québec, Cherkassy, Shevchenko, Yalta, Jonquoi, Santiago, Addis Ababa) have invited me into their home and taken very good care of me.  For some time now, I have wanted to do the same for those newly arrived from Elsewhere.

Every year a woman from our church organizes what has become to be known as The Tour.  Newly arrived international students sign up (This year there were 200!) and then they are grouped and assigned a driver.  The driver takes them on a very informative and fun (Swings over the river?  Yes, please.) tour of the city, ending with dinner in an American family's home.

Due to the difficulty of the past three years, this is the first year that we have participated in a long time.  Rob and our downstairs neighbor did the tour part and then brought them back to our house, along with a carful of Germans, for dinner.

It was such a blessing all around.  No one wanted to leave when it was time.  I am so thankful for these new friendships.  We have tentative plans for a Chinese feast cooked by "Maggie" (I say xiexie in advance!), a trip to the archery range with the Deutschers and maybe a bit of golfing with "Doris."

Thank you, God!
O pile of plates!  I was ready for thirty guests; but two of the carsful got lost, ending up elsewhere for dinner, leaving us with twenty.
"So, welcome to the U.S.  Have some Mexican food!"  In addition to the Mexi-feast that RaRa and I prepared, only some of which you see here, Rob made venison kabobs.  It was the first time for all of our guests to have that meat (Google deer!) and it was a huge hit.
One of the five seating areas that I had prepared.  Who knew that we lived on such an enormous compound?
This book is always such an ice breaker.  We ended up having every one share their home town.

04 septiembre 2014

The happiest boy's saucy smile

G redeemed his personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut tonight, thanks to the library's summer reading program.  The child was SO excited... to go in the station wagon with PapA, to go to a brand new place, to pick his own topping, to eat a different dinner than the rest of us (Which was definitely his loss, from my point of view.), and the list goes on in his mind, I am sure.  Good job reading, my son!

(Ty, upon learning that he would do the Readers' Challenge next summer, once he can read, and win a free pizza, ran to the shelf, took down a book and began sounding out letters.  He told me though that he wants a coupon to Pizza Shuttle and not Pizza Hut.  If only!)

02 septiembre 2014

New toys!

A pizza!
The children were entranced by the light shining through the tiles.
Girumy told me that this was the Aurora australis.  I know, I know, we are in the north, but they've only learned about the southern light show so far.