Sunday, October 31, 2010

NEWS FLASH! Lucius Malfoy Attacks LEGO Brick!

Here lies Voldemort.

He's plotting his comeback, but it's taking time. Fortunately Voldemort is a patient guy. Good thing, too - last I heard all his horcruxes were toast.

He doesn't like that little pumpkin sitting on his tomb. Kind of takes away some of his gravitas.

And what with Voldemort otherwise occupied, Lucius Malfoy is back to his old tricks: taking out his frustration and irritation at not being Top Bad Boy by attacking random LEGO bricks.
Give me all your Star Trek LEGO, you ridiculous little brick, or I'll slash off your protrusions with a Sectum Sempra spell!

A Halloween Vignette: In Six Parts

"Hello earthlings. My name is Storm Trooper Al. I do not come in peace. I come to overthrow your pathetic little world. It is far too peaceful here and there is an evil dictator over on Rigel 5 who needs to leave in a hurry. Prepare yourselves."
(heavy metallic breathing, as if through a big white heavy plastic helmet)

"Not good, this is. Small and puny I might be, but strong in the Force I am. Pulverize you, I will. Go, you must, or die."

"Serious backup, he has!"

(much weird high-pitched giggling - think goblins on helium)

"This story is too scary! Leaving, we are!

Oops, sorry, that Yoda-speak is catching.

We're out of here!"

Wait! Was that what I think it was? Were those cookies talking? No, of course they weren't. Everyone knows that cookies can't talk.

(cue ominous music)

"Mmmm, good, this Storm Trooper is. Crunchy they are, when to the Dark Side they go."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Smells Like Teen Spirit?

Laundry Day At Greenridge Chronicles...

Me: "Max, what's this? How long did you wear this t-shirt?"

Max: "A day."

Me: "ONE DAY? Why is it in the wash?"

Max: "Because it smells."

Me: (inward sigh at the finickiness of kids) "Of course it does..."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random Tweets

In which I post pretend tweets from the day's events...

# Can Naonka get any more irritating? That girl needs a crash course in Genial Philosophy, crash being the operative word here. I'd like to crash her head into Brenda's. Those two have egos the size of Jupiter.

# Why do they give the bikini-clad butts of the girls on Survivor the LONG PAN? I sometimes feel as though I'm in a teenage daydream.

# It's cold. Is there a possibility of having the winter go away before it evens starts? I don't feel as though we had a proper summer here. In fact, I KNOW we didn't have a proper summer here. I must take this up with the weather gods.

# Watch Neil Gaiman on Arthur! Love that his story was with Sue Ellen.

# The cat has the squits. Oh joy. That explains a LOT. Maybe he'll stop leaving dead mice at the back door now.

# FDPG's new word is SCOURGE (after reading about Attila the Hun). I heard her telling Dominic that her pink Webkinz pony is the scourge of the Webkinz Cemetery. Gosh, the drama around here. What do you think it DOES in this cemetery? I dread to think.

# FDPG and I have watched the Viva La Sorbonna lipdub over 30 times. Fist pump!

# I am going as an Highly Emotional Edward Gorey Female for Halloween. It will involve a long scarf and some black eyeliner. Sequins. Maybe a holstered stiletto and some sharp pumps. Oh, and champagne - we mustn't forget the champagne.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Approaches...

And the denizens of this house are gearing up for That Time Of Year: the time when little people roam the streets and knock on doors and shout TRICK OR TREAT! I say little people because, for the first time since he was 10 months old, Max is not going out trick or treating. He's not a little people any more.

It struck me today that this should give me pause for nostalgia or sentiment - that I should be trolling through photos of every Halloween costume I ever made him, feeling sorrowful. But I'm not - which kind of perplexes me. I mean, heck, I cry at Superbowl commercials. And no, I am NOT going to provide links, although I will say that these commercials usually involve impeccably groomed Clydesdales and beer.

This lack of emotion might be, of course, because I am still deep in the clutches of Halloween Costume Making Frenzy. There are other little people in this house who ARE going out inflagrandus costumatus. And, me being the Martha Stewart aficionado that I am, those costumes aren't making themselves just by me lookin' at 'em.

Of course, it might be all the Halloween candy I am test-tasting.

Hic. Up. Hic. Up. Hic. Up.

Mmmm, caaaaandy.
(do I sound like Homer yet? By the way, did you know that the Simpsons have a lipdub?)

Anyhow, getting back to making ourselves look weird and unusual for one single solitary evening Halloween: one of us is going as Lucius Malfoy. I won't tell you who, but I will say this: she's her mother's daughter. We both have a crush on ole Lucius. It's that white wig and those tensely clipped syllables, methinks. Does it to us every time. We even have a white wig for Little Lucius to wear, along with a black cape and a wand, although the paper wand I made her for her birthday a couple of years back is now a bent paper wand, sadly. Here's the new and Lucius-licious version:

This is a twig inserted into a piece of broom handle. I feel rather pleased with myself because I drilled that hole with my own two hands. I was standing there looking at that twig, thinking "Hmm, this twig is kind of scrawny - it needs a sturdy handle or something..." then, when I backed away to contemplate the twig a bit more deeply, I tripped over this lacking-a-broom-head broom handle. FDPG picked it up and looked at me worriedly, and my first thought was "You bad broom handle, I'll show you!" I cut off its head then and there. So there.

Now it's resting after its wood glue labours. Then I plan to add some silver metallic paint. FDPG thinks Lucius is a silver guy, as opposed to gold metallic paint. I think she's right.

Here is the Lucius Mask, almost come to life. FDPG was impressively composed, I have to say. She lay there, listening to Odd and the Frost Giants, while I dripped all over her eyes and ears.

The other one of us is going to be a LEGO brick for Halloween. A yellow brick, because this one of us does every single thing in yellow. Every. Single. Thing.

Here is a box, a box from the LEGO store coincidentally, that one of us hid under under our bed about 10 months ago. Some of us are very attached to our LEGO boxes, evidently.

We added some paper cups and sprayed it with yellow paint, and now here it stands, almost done with its transformation from LEGO box to LEGO brick. Those yellow ropes are going to go over the shoulders and one of us is going to dress entirely in black so only the brick shows up.

Oh, and before I forget, here's who we'll be remembering this coming Day of the Dead. Who's to say he didn't see it coming?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tagging Games

In which I am asked a number of questions for no particular reason, a pleasant game for those of us who are unrepentant nosy parkers.

There I was, minding everyone else's business, wondering what a pulled tea would be like over at Suji's blog, when I clicked over to Christina's Rockhound Place (because she started it all and I wondered what her favourite drink was) and noticed, much to my shock, that she'd included me in her list of Answer This! contestants.

(Unrepentant blog ogling is one thing; being the blog oglee is quite another)

The game has the following rules:

Answer five questions, then tag five other players with your own set of questions.

Okay, here goes. Can't promise I'll be ogle-worthy though.

1. What book from your childhood do you remember the most, and why?

I don't think I can remember ONE book the most, to be honest. I went through a lot of book adoration in my early teens: Farley Mowat's animal stories, Harriet the Spy, Lord of the Rings, Journey to the East, anything Daphne DuMaurier or Mary Stewart, Les Miserables (why I have no idea), a strange little book my friends and I used to amuse ourselves with by opening at random and trying to be the words for the rest of the day. I've mentioned this before, but I loved Harriet the Spy so much that I wanted to change my name to Harriet for a while in honour of her. Of course, I also went through a phase of wanting to eat my dinner in a bowl off the floor like our dog did but that's not quite so literary...

2. What type of music do you enjoy the most? Please include examples.

I quite like choral music but I am extremely picky about it. I also love Christmas music - I might even classify myself as a collector of Christmas music although I realize that in revealing this my edgy street cred is gone forever, sigh. Again, I am quite picky: no tacky orchestras and no 'swing cheese.' My friend Mrs Deeply Suburban gave me what is quite possibly my favourite Christmas CD: The Roches.

In the pop vein: the Cure (Friday I'm In Love remains the only song I've ever bought on iTunes), Pet Shop Boys, Crash Test Dummies, the Killers, Billy Bragg, and Ron Sexsmith.

And right now FDPG and I are caught up in the LipDub phenomenon. Here are our two faves. We have plans for a lipdub of our own, once we get past the copyrighted song dilemma.

3. What subject do you find most challenging (to teach or to learn)?

Ask me this when we get to calculus, but in general my homeschooling adage is: If I can't grasp it, I don't teach it. In terms of learning, well, I've had my struggles with organic fruit tree care - successful organic fruit tree care.

4. What is your favourite hot drink? Bonus points for including the recipe!

If I tell you what my current afternoon pick-me-up is you'll all feel ill, so I'm going to distract you all by adding that if I don't get a latté first thing the whole day loses it's balance. And don't be offering me that drip dreck that some pass off as coffee because I AM a snob. Here's my own personal recipe: take one Richard (not mine), add a well-used espresso machine, some coffee beans, an attractive mug and some 2% milk and you have yourself a lovely morning beverage.

5. About what new book, movie, or tv series do you want to let others know?

I'm going to go out on a completely different limb here and give you my latest revelation, one that only came to me after the warranty on my beloved Canon i450 expired: buying ink and refilling my colour ink cartridge.

Yes, laugh all you like but I've just discovered that I can buy jars of ink for the price of one new colour cartridge - and I can inject them into the cartridge myself for a fraction even of what it would cost to have someone else refill it. From the looks of it those jars will last me at least 3 years.

And so it is that I feel compelled to evangelize this to all and sundry (because, heck, this IS my meme) on the basis that if you're anything like me (and do buckets of colour printing), you could use a Cheap Printing Tip. All you need is a wee syringe and some tissues, and perhaps a rubber apron should a child burst in while you're injecting the ink and shout "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? IS THAT INK? OOPS SORRY WOW LOOK AT THE COLOUR OF THAT INK WILL IT COME OFF THE COUNTER? UH OH LOOK AT YOUR PANTS WHAT A MESS!"

All of a sudden the world has a new meaning to me. Cheap thrill girl, that's me.

Okay, moving right along. Here are my five taggees: Samantha, Heather, Sandylein, Michelle, and Subadra. I won't link you, in case memes are not your thing, but Inquiring Minds DO want to know...

1. What is your biggest time suck on the internet? We want links here, please.
2. Do you consider online shopping a blessing or a weird anti-social thing?
3. Do you get dressed upon rising in the morning, or do you stay in a dressing gown for a while?
4. What piece of parenting advice do you wish you'd been given before you had kids?
5. If you could have a habit of excess, which would you choose: shoes or hats? Again, we want examples. Links. Pictures, dammit.

Alright, all of you. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

LEGO Kits We'd Like To See

Coming soon to a pretend store near you...

We saw this ghost on the LEGO website the other day and one of the LEGO-mad children here instantly decided to build his very own. Saved me $2.99 plus shipping, because most cruelly we don't live near a LEGO store in the US (if you're wondering why I make this distinction, check the prices between American items and Canadian items - it's more than a little irritating).

Oh who am I kidding, I wouldn't have bought that little ghost anyhow. I'm far too cheap, besides, isn't that what imaginations are for? (ooh Sheila you sound just like your grouchy-no-doubt-even-cheaper forebears) One of us also made a bat, but tragically only one of us had enough black bricks, leading to a flurry of Frantic and Heart-Breaking Negotiations, all to no effect: Black Brick Bearer clung grimly to his hoard.

And now, we present more in the LEGO Kits We'd Like To See vein (as per this post):

This first kit was inspired by two things: 1) the fact that one of us has the Winter Toyshop and another one of us has long coveted some of the reallyreallyrare pieces, and 2) the new Winter Bakery now in catalogues everywhere. It's enough to make one of us gnash our teeth.

Fish Shop
Item #: 3660
Ages: 5-12
Pieces: 293

For the fish-monger in your family. Tidy two story shop with clear window in front for displaying your wares. Comes with 2 non-smelly fish and 1 very smelly fish vendor minifigure.

Treasure Hunter's Craft
Item#: 3978
Ages: 5-12
Pieces: 130

Spend the morning hunting for underwater treasure in this sleek, flat bottomed boat then spend the afternoon swimming, knowing that your treasure is secured in these state-of-the-art chests. What better way to wile away your summer days? Comes with 1 minifigure (with swim kit), 2 blue crystals, and 6 green crystals.

Retro Trailer Camper
Item#: 3164
Pieces: 360

Lounge around the campfire and look tres cool whilst doing so! This little unit comes complete with propane tank, water hookups & sunroof. Inside are bunks for 3 and a tidy little cooking area. Comes with minifigure & latte mug.

Custom Camper Van
Pieces: 405

Fred here is just giving the windscreen a touchup, but otherwise this little van is in perfect nick. Sleeps 5 and has the most amazing cooking set-up you've ever seen: converts to a catering van when you need a little ready cash.

Golf Cart
Pieces: 68

For the golf enthusiast in your family. This is a minimalist golf cart: fewer extras means more room for your friends and all your clubs. Seats 30 and more if you sit on each other's laps.

Droid Execution Fighter Jet
Item#: 8009
Ages: 5-12
Pieces: 353

Two views for this impressive little piece of engineering! First we have her as she flies: quick as lightning, thrusters armed, and ready to blast those pesky droids into smithereens.

Then flip a switch and your ship is in landing mode: thrusters and phasers lowered for quick replacement, but we don't think you'll be doing much replacing of anything - this baby is made for speed. Nothing will catch you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Those Happy Golden Klimt Girls

Just before our school year started, when I was still wandering the internet pondering direction and inspiration and motivation and all those other daunting intangibles many of us homeschooling parents dither about, I saw this post over at La Paz Home Learning. Right before my eyes was a Klimt girl taking life on the page. I'd forgotten in the heat of the summer and the greenness of the garden just how luminous and golden those Klimt girls were.

I even recognized the origami paper - FDPG has some of that very same origami paper.

Then I clicked the link that accompanied that post and saw more Klimt girls. It was wildly inventive and even more inspiring. I bookmarked both pages and made a mental note to come back one day, kids in tow.
I don't know about you but I like Klimt girls. Klimt liked women and it shows. They always remind me of earthbound angels, glowing with the love of their (equally earthbound) creator.

I know, I know: gush gush gush. Klimt's work does that to me.

Fast forward a month or two...

Today we started our own Klimt project. We used card stock, origami paper, Ferraro Rocher papers, paint, and dollar store gems. Tomorrow they'll be mounted on large pieces of watercolour paper, washed with gold and yellow and green. They aren't quite as elegant but some of us sure were thrilled with ourselves...

Monday, October 11, 2010

We Had No Idea Things Would Go This Far...

News Flash!

"We were young and trying to advance our careers, so we just started making things up: Homer, Aristotle, Socrates, Hippocrates, the lever and fulcrum, rhetoric, ethics, all the different kinds of columns - everything. Way more stuff than any one civilization could have come up with, obviously," he added.


"One thing led to another and before you knew it, we were coming up with everything from the golden ratio to the Iliad. That was a bitch to write, by the way..."


And this just in: kids can understand irony.

No kidding, Sherlock, I could have told you this. Case in point:

My house, dinner. Dominic is eating brussell sprouts and exclaiming over liking them. Richard says "Funny you should like them. I don't. Maybe I'll call you BS - as in brussell sprout."

I object, on the grounds that the first thing people think of when they hear the initials BS won't be brussell sprouts. I frown at Richard. Richard smirks, pleased with the hilarity of this double entendre. Dominic looks shocked. Then annoyed. FDPG and Max howl with laughter. Dominic glowers at this new and unwelcome intrusion on his sense of personal dignity.

"Would you like me to call you F?" he asks archly.

We gape as one at Dominic, then burst out laughing. He's grasped the essentials of the ironic insult and turned them back on Richard with a certain amount of oddly mature sarcasm. Then again, he's always been like that: a very adult wit for such a very small body.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why Is There Butter On The Kitchen Window?

(my question to the General Populace that is my family)

"How did you know it was me?" says Max (which immediately tells me I was correct to look at him when asking this question).

"What were you doing to get little flicks of butter on the window?" I repeated. "And why didn't you clean it up?"

"Huh?" he says, looking puzzled. (obviously my questions are too complex)

"Where did the butter come from?" I ask again. This time I fix my Patented Mother Glare on him. Never fails me, the PMG.

"Uh, um...well...I didn't actually KNOW there was butter on the window," he mumbles, in between giggles. Apparently this is a hysterically funny topic, although I feel a bit left out of all the hilarity.

"But you know it was you, right?" I say.

"Um, what?" he says. More laughter. I am feeling the tedium of the moment, rather.

"BUTTER! WINDOW! WHEN! HOW!" I shout. It gratifies me immensely to see them all look up suddenly, instead of falling about the table laughing at the idea of butter being on the windows. Circular discussions are so not high on my list of Amusing Things To Do.

"Oh!" he says, light dawning on his face. "Right! The butter! Um, I think it was from my remote helicopter. It fell in the butter. The rotors sprayed a bit and I think I saw some butter fly away. I didn't see where it went but I think it went in that general direction." He waves his hand, encompassing the entirety of the south-facing kitchen wall.

He pauses and looks at me, triumphant. For what, exactly, I'm not sure.

"Oh," I say. "So, um, you just left the butter for me to clean up, is that right?"

"Well, yeah, I guess," he says. "I couldn't actually find it so I didn't think there was any."

We look at each other. He smiles hopefully. I continue with my PMG. The twins are on the floor, laughing so hard they can barely breathe.

He thought he saw the helicopter fall in butter, rotors twirling. He thought he saw some butter fly away. He thinks he saw it land on something.

But he couldn't actually find it. I guess that's MY job.

Little charmer.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend Projects

We're smack dab in the early middle ages right now - monks and illuminated letters and gold leaf. So it follows that we would make bookmarks with illuminated letters on them, doesn't it? When we've added the gold leaf I might laminate them to keep the colours from getting smeared. Or give them a little spray with some urethane. Not sure yet.

The idea for these came from this website. They very handily include the alphabet letters for tracing. (and you thought we all had really amazing talents for making perfect letters, I bet, didn't you?)

And yes, there are only three bookmarks in this photo. Someone hadn't finished theirs yet...

We also cleaned out the basement today. Richard got to reclaim his workshop and I got to empty the fireplace flue. Gosh, what fun that was. I also got to hear about how much of a squirrel I am, which is always high on my list of fun weekend activities. But I had to admit it later, when we hauled out a bag of maps and guides from when we lived in California. Maps and guides from ten years ago. Sitting tidily in a little cardboard box. "Hey!" I said to Richard, "I saw a very cool room in a magazine the other day - they'd papered one wall with maps! We could do that with these maps!"

We both smiled at each other: him with the knowledge that I am a Squirrel In Denial; me with the knowledge that papering a room with old maps is such an excellent idea even he can't disagree.

Later, in the spirit of doing something with all my, err, squirrellings, I finally finished up a project I've been accumulating for for the past three years.

Look! An old fork. A piece of pottery - leeks. And a postcard.

All together on a piece of board I found at the beach.

So there you go - you never really know when you'll need some of that crap you've got sitting in the basement in boxes and bags and tins and things those interesting items you found in all those second hand stores you drag your children into.

Friday, October 1, 2010

In Which Sheila Discovers The LipDub

Do you know what these are? Until yesterday I had been blissfully unaware of them. Then Richard came home, picked up the newspaper, and said "Oh look, I heard about them filming this. You should have gone up with the kids. I bet FDPG would have killed to be in this one."

I peered over his shoulder at the article. It seemed mildly, chaotically, amusingly...odd.

So off we went to that bastion of visual excess: YouTube. And I discovered that thing known as the LipDub. The one that was filmed here isn't ready or up yet, but we found a couple of addictive examples that I'm going to link here, just because they are so light-hearted and fun. And seeing as how it's Friday I think we all need a frivolous treat. No?

First, the one in Spain. The song they use in this one is a song that used to really grate on me; after seeing this I feel exceedingly charitable towards it. Besides, this is such a charming and happy lipdub.

Living La Vida Sorbona. This one reminds me of a cross between the Killers (video) Mr Brightside, and Pet Shop Boys Being Boring, with all that baroque fancy dress, and languid nostalgia. Tres cool.

This one is filmed in a mall, and the lighting as a result totally rocks (a definite issue in most of these things).

I was quite struck by the difference between American girl behaviour and European girl behaviour. Tell me if you notice it too.

Happy Friday!