The world is a wonderful, if very wacky, place to be.

Bear Necessities

It seems that all the other blogging homeschooling mothers are posting their summer to-do lists. I’d feel intimidated by these displays of foresight and initiative but I can’t plan at all yet because I don’t even know which country I’m going to be in this summer. I can’t even predict the hemisphere we’ll be in, and it’s almost July. I’m hoping to be able to make it to the USA for Fred’s wedding (yes, the same Fred who spent our wedding night with us. I’m hoping not to return the favor), but I might end up dragging all the kids back to Seoul and experience monsoons. Or We’ll stay here in coastal Israel and see who buckles first and turns on the air conditioning (we haven’t turned it on yet. Our ability to withstand baking temperatures is a point of pride). So making a to-do list is out.

The kids, however, are good at making their own fun, and yesterday Aquila pulled out one of her birthday presents. I had given her a Fimo (hard-baking plastic clay) kit, and she made these:

It took her hours and no matter how difficult the steps were, she didn't quit.

Today I helped her paint on the eyes and mouths, and they were done. She’s really happy with her little bears, and has been hitting me up for more Fimo since these plastic ursines were baking.

She followed the directions for the brown one, and reinterpreted them for the pink one.

Aquila was generous enough to share some of the leftover clay with Lyra, who made a little girl:

I'm still getting used to her new do.

Honestly, I’m on the fence when it comes to Fimo. It’s a wonderful toy and tool and the girls really enjoy it, but do you know what happens to Fimo once it’s baked? Yeah, me either, until I step on it in the middle of the night. The one thing I’ve learned is that crafts projects pile up and pile up until you’re swimming in a sea of papers, pencils and glue. I’m not so sure I want to add Fimo to the mix. Back when the kids were little, I had the most perfect solution to the problem of sculptures and what to do with them: pretzels. We’d make the dough, the kids would shape it, we’d bake, admire, and the most important step: eat. The products were consumed within minutes and we’d have full tummies to show for all the effort. The kids had the joy of self-expression (“I made a heart!” “I made a flower!” “I made an AK-47!”) and we’d have lunch. It was all very efficient. I’m not sure I’m ready to move on to the more professional, and permanent, material.

You all know where this is going, though. The craft store, for more Fimo. I should probably put that at the top of the to-do list already.

Chopped

Before

After

This is how Lyra gets her summer on.

At Steves’ Salon, of course.

It’s June and my hands are sticky with hair gel. This can only mean one thing: dance recital season.

There’s nothing like watching a flutter of little ballerinas cavorting on a stage. Lyra, of course, is the least little one.

I'll only worry if she gets in the habit of beginning sentences with the words "fee fie foe fum".

When we entered the class for the first lesson the teacher tried to explain to me that this was the kindergarten group. When she realized that by age, Lyra was in the correct room, the teacher looked up and down my 5 foot, 5.5 inch frame and asked, “so, where are the tall genes in the family?”. Fortunately, Lyra doesn’t think too much about being a half a head taller than the really tall girls, or that she towers over her more moderately sized classmates. She’s just there to dance.

And does she dance.

With her whole heart.

Next year she moves up to the first grade classes with their black leotards and chiffon skirts.

Portrait of the Ballerina as a Young Woman.

I’m enjoying the pink while it lasts.

Lunar Eclipse

"Did you see a white thing? Then it was the moon." -- Lyra

In Flight.

You know what happens when you help them raise their wings?

They fly away.

I really should have seen this coming. We’ve been planning this trip for months, yet seeing Volucris hop into Benny’s taxi with his suitcase behind him still left me stunned. Volucris is going with his grandparents to see family in the USA. He’ll be away for two and a half weeks. I’m really happy for him (and for all the cousins waiting to see him on the other side of the ocean). But those of us still left here miss him terribly already.

Our morning was spent sitting and moping (“But who will play piano with me?” was but one of the laments. The way some people here carried on you’d think we’d accidentally indentured him to pirates and wouldn’t see him again until he was twenty-one).

By afternoon, we were slowly having fun again.

Aquila and Lyra were prepping playsilks for dye, and Sagitta was deeply involved with the dishes in the sink.

I won’t bore you with a tutorial on how to dye your own playsilks, as a simple google search will turn up a bijillion of them, but the basic idea is white square silk scarves + food coloring + vinegar + heat = totally awesome open-ended (and colorfast) toy.

The whole process is lots of fun and very easy.

The scarves dry fast once they are dyed, and the pink one was a headscarf, a blanket, a tallit, royal robes, wings, and a field of flowers within a few minutes of play. It was dizzying, really.

The girls fell in love with this one because it looks like the sky with clouds.

It’s a shame Volucris wasn’t here, though. He’d have turned them all into tanks within seconds.

I do miss that kid.

Today was Sagitta’s half birthday. She celebrated by exploring everything she could get her little toddler hands on, and by expanding her horizons.

Yes, this one scares me, too, but I don't let on. If I panic, she panics, and then bad things happen.

It’s very hard to be a toddler. I try to be a conscientious mother and talk to her about what’s going on and include her and have her help me around the house (and it’s lovely to have her help loading the washing machine). But the more she (rightly!) explores, the more everyone around her seems to start every sentence with “No”.

No, you can’t play with the laundry detergent.
No, you can’t knock that glass onto the floor, and how did you get hold of that, anyway?!
No, butter is not a main dish.
No, not on Eema’s laptop!
No, No, No, Get down from there! No, No, the baby is WHERE?! No, No, Dangerous, Hot, No, No, No.

We try to keep a lot of the No objects out of reach, so Sagitta just figures out a new way to reach them. And also, she’s become really irritable. No one can be thwarted that often without developing a bit of a chip on their little toddler shoulder.

In order to show their appreciation for Sagitta’s struggles as well as this milestone, the girls and Tigress decided to bake some cupcakes for her.

I did promise to tell you about Tigress. She has been living with us since right before Passover. She was studying Chinese Medicine when her school suddenly moved from Tel Aviv to our neighborhood. She needed a place to stay and we had the room. It's a real blessing having her with us, and only partially because of her excellent baking skills.

See what they did with the candles?

The slash is a toothpick.

Sagitta was very, very pleased.

She shows such wholehearted appreciation.

The leftover cupcakes are in the freezer. I am very pleased, too. Midnight snack, I hear you calling!

On Safari

Today a llama blew in my face.

Cloud Man came home for Shavuot, and managed to budget in enough meeting-free time for us to go the Ramat Gan Safari with the kids. We decided to go there because it’s been forever since the kids have been to the zoo (we did sort of race through the zoo in Seoul in Children’s Grand Park but it was freezing cold, we were already exhausted by the time we got to that part of the park, and as lovely as it is, it does fall short of the zoos we have here). The Ramat Gan zoo is the largest in this region, with over 250 species, not counting the zoo keepers. And this species:

known for its low hanging fruit.

We saw giant tortoises and bearded dragons and lots of birds and Indian elephants and African elephants and giraffes and camels and bears and tigers and rhinoceroses and an overly aggressive ostrich. But my kids’ favorite part of the zoo is the goat enclosure. Because there you can go in and bond with the locals.

we got there at lunch time. Ours and theirs.

Which is how I found myself literally blown off by a llama.

This one. Apparently, I had violated llama introduction protocols. Who knew?

And then a goat tried to eat my bag.

I can't fault its taste.

The kids had a great time, though, especially the baby. Up until now, Sagitta’s zoological experience has been limited to dogs, cats, and pigeons, so she was really wowed by the sheer variety of creatures she saw. I think the elephants concerned her deeply. She is used to animals being the same size or smaller than her. The elephant can be very intimidating.

It takes a lot to intimidate Sagitta. She runs the house.

We could only see about half the safari in the time that we had (we don’t rush through exhibits, so half the zoo took us over 3 hours with a short break for lunch). By the end of the trip, I found myself relating more than usual to my orangutan friends.

Zonked. Totally and completely zonked.

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