October 31, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers!

Ok, so I finally really understand why the Dread Pirate Roberts relied mostly on the word-of-mouth of his reputation to do most of the advance work of plundering and pillaging. In all the many iterations of that identity, there had to have been at least a few guys who didn't quite have the, um, facial qualifications, to do the job appropriately - so they needed to have the pre-instilled fear to compensate. After all, without worrying about the whole "leaves no prisoners alive" thing, exactly how scared would you be if looked in your spyglass to see that what was coming after you was this:


October 30, 2009

More Halloween Decor

I set this all up a few days ago, and when Lara came home she said, "Oh, you made it spooky and scary in here, Mommy!" "It's not too scary, just mostly spooky, right?" "No, it's a little bit scary."

Which was great to hear, since I was working on straddling that line where Halloween-appropriate meets too-frightening-for-a-four-year-old. What do you think?

Halloween 09 - dining table

A "dripping" tablecloth, a skull with a clacking jaw, and a picture of a ghoulish tree with an owl and a skeleton swinging on a swing.

Halloween 09 - door drippings

Some more black "dripping" coming from the top of the door. I'm glad I didn't make that part red. Black dripping = spooky. Red dripping = too scary even for me.

Thanks so much to Apartment Therapy Ohdeedoh, The Crafty Crow, and Labbe for all the creepy garland love! Commenter Monkey's Mama was right, it comes from Paper Crave's clip art.

Halloween Parade

Yes, it's that time of year again - the annual candy-solicitation adventure through the neighborhood office park!

Lara's costume is my slightly dark-fairy take on Tinkerbell...

...which I think is rather fitting for a girl who is mostly magically good, but every now and again reveals a magically - shall we just say "bad"? - side.

Jakey came in full pirate regalia and practiced his "Arrgh!" so much that he ended up napping through most the parade. I may have grabbed a few pieces of candy on his behalf.

Ahem. They have since mysteriously disappeared.

Central Park in the Rain

I had never walked through the park in the autumn rain before.

Central Park in the Rain 2

It was just gorgeous.

Central Park in the Rain 1

Why is it that leaves and branches look somehow sharper and more defined when they are wet? Is it the glistening sheen? Is the gray of the sky a better contrast?

Central Park in the Rain 3

Maybe it's the feeling of newness that rain caries with it.

October 28, 2009

Birthday Brunch

We had a lovely multi-birthday brunch over the weekend chez Nancy.

Most of the crowd made it into this photo. See how everyone is watching Lara do something? That's pretty much what the whole morning was about - she was over the moon to be the star of the show! Really funny.

Jakey got his fair share of love as well, of course.

So lovely to see everyone all together in the same place! I loved it.

On Daddy's Shoulders

I love the light in this picture. And, you know, the cuteness helps too.

October 23, 2009

Halloween Garland

I have been trying to make more of an effort to have seasonal changes in the house, to change the daily objects of our gaze in keeping with what is happening outside. The temptation is to call it decorating, but I don't want to use that word because the small changes I am talking about come not so much from a desire to celebrate any particular holidays (although that's there, of course), but from a more deep-seated need for a connection to the passage of time. Barring the opening and closing of windows, our apartment stays the same through the seasons. Summer brings with it only air conditioning. Winter does not frost our windows, and however copious the snowfall, it never blows in when we open the door. Flowers can be had year-round, and even though the box of vegetables from the farmer tends to be full of mostly tubers by the middle of winter, the grocery store fills in. And yet, time should be marked. Occasions should be noted and celebrated. Days should not flow one into another without pause, alteration, memorable incident. So this is one small thing to help with that. It is autumn. We have pumpkins - real, painted, kid-made, (perhaps even carved, if I can remember to buy a small carving set). Yesterday I found some bright red fallen leaves to spread on the dinner table like a runner. And now we have a Halloween garland hanging over the kitchen island.

Halloween Garland

Three blown-up clip art images, some poster board, yarn, and tape. Makes me feel the fall.

October 21, 2009

Jakey Baby

Jakey is five months old today! And he continues being his happy, grinning little self. He smiles very easily, into the face of pretty much every person we come across (to the delight of countless strangers on the street), but laughter is harder to come by. He has a kind of a half-cough half-chortle that is his giggling noise - usually, it's easiest to get him to crack up with tickles, but he sometimes also thinks it's funny when I sing silly songs with his name in them (is it possible he recognizes it already?) or slowly move my face close to his with my eyes wide open. Babies have the best sense of humor, don't they? He loves being talked to and stares with rapt attention to anyone talking.

Let's see... any demerits? Well, he's not nearly the sleeper Lara was at his age, preferring little catnaps throughout the day, and waking up every few hours at night - in a good mood, but still wide awake and ready to party. Every week or so I try to toss him in the air to see if he likes it, but so far it just scares him.

Yay, tiny baby Jakey!

October 20, 2009


We went from a few glorious fall weeks of 60 degree weather to 40 and raining overnight. Over a cold, cold night that made Lara wake up and moan "I'm cold, I'm so cold, Daddy!" from her room (which for some reason is much colder than the rest of our apartment). I know - I felt awful.

pajama pants out of baby blanket

So I made her two pairs of new jammy pants out of a fleece baby blanket that I took apart into its two layers. I used this tutorial, which is spot-on, and the whole thing took about an hour - and that's including the time spent dealing with Jakey every five minutes. The next night she didn't wake up at all and in the morning I asked her if she slept well - "Yes, it was warm in my new toasty pants," said she.

I made myself a pair the next day out of a couple of Jakey's flannel receiving blankets!

October 19, 2009

Birthday Flowers

red zinias and lilac bouquet

It was my birthday a couple of days ago...

birthday red orange purple bouquet

...and my day was filled with love and flowers (thanks, Nancy and Peter, for the gorgeous roses bouquet!).

October 18, 2009

Lara's Eye View, part 2

Lara has really taken to the camera - and honestly, since a digital camera can take a million pictures at a time it's really conducive to being used by a kid, especially since you can instantly see the photo you took on the view screen rather than having to wait to get a roll of film developed (which I imagine would really dissociate the picture-taking process from its results for a four year-old). Back in the days of film, I can't imagine being allowed to waste 17 rolls on just clicking the button, but this way - hey, click away. And she did - and took some really fantastic pictures of us!

October 17, 2009

Lara's John Hancock

Lara Writes Her Name

What, you can't see it? Here is a disambiguation:

Lara Writes Her Name (explanation)

I guess we should work on putting the letters to each other...

October 16, 2009


curly leaf cluster

I took this during a brief respite in the farm activities. It was just such a glorious day.

Anyone know what kind of tree has curly leaves like this? It was quite large and shady, if that helps.

October 15, 2009

Apple Picking

Last Sunday was perfect for going to nearby Terhune Orchards farm for the all the fall festivities (and we even managed to fit some apple-picking in!). It's a wonderful place, as good as Linvilla - so everyone, go there!

Lara ate her first caramel apple, which was mildly unorthodox since it was also covered in M&M's... but she didn't seem to mind. Speaking of eating amazing food for the first time, Misha and I tried the farm's kettle corn. Where has this stuff been all my life? We devoured a giant bag of it, and I was tempted to drive out there again today to buy some more.

Lara ga-zumped out of this stump like the Lorax.

We went with Sam, Inna, Mikey, and Benji - and I believe I am correct when I say perfect day enjoyed by all.

I wanted to crop Sam and Benji out of this picture and caption it, "Look how big Jakey has gotten!" but then decided our family would freak out a little bit.

Getting the actual apples involved some heroics...

...or at least more height than most of us could attain.

October 14, 2009

A New Little Kitchen

A feisty red number from MnC for a lucky little boy she knows:

File Under "Learning Process"

So the other day, I had the brilliant idea that I should try to bake my first set of oatmeal raisin cookies... and... how shall I put this? In Russian, there is a really great expression - pervyi blin komom - which roughly translates to "the first pancake will come out crumpled."

mistake - oatmeal raisin "cookie"

Turns out that is pretty much true in this case! Did you know that cookie dough should be put in tiny pieces on the cookie sheet? Because I, for one, did not realize that each dough dollop would expand as much as it did. What I ended up with is basically, a bunch of sweet scones. Still, I have to say that they don't taste all that bad! I actually ate one for lunch today with a cup of tea - and just one of these "cookies" was enough for quite a filling lunch. Don't think of it as eating a giant misshapen oatmeal cookie - think of it as a bowl of sweet oatmeal with raisins!

October 13, 2009

More sisterly love

Sometimes Jakey gets fussy in the car, and since I can't really do anything for him without letting go of the wheel, my bad-parent solution tends to be to just ignore him if we're almost home. Lara's good-sister solution, on the other hand, is to start talking to him in a voice so soft and full of tenderness that I can't believe it's coming from a four year-old (almost!) child. "It's ok, Jakey, don't cry. Here, do you want your butterfly? I'll give you your butterfly toy. Shhh, it's ok. We're almost there, and then we'll go home and Mommy will feed you, and then you'll be happy."

October 12, 2009

Horse Stance!

Lara started karate. It's just about the cutest thing I think I've ever seen.

October 8, 2009

Lara the Good Fairy

Ever since I made Jakey's pirate outfit, Lara has been clamouring for the wings and magic wand that will complete her fairy costume (the main part of which will be this green dress). This will be the surprise that awaits her when she gets home:

Lara's fairy wings and magic wand

I used this excellent set of instructions for the wings, and the magic wand I just winged from a cardboard tube, a piece of the same tights I used for the wings, some pink felt, and a bit of stuffing to puff out the star.

October 7, 2009

Palette Knife Painting

For her birthday, my mom asked for a large abstract painting - and this is what I came up with:

Abstract painting for Mom

This was really fun to work on because I love the buttery softness of oils being spread with a knife, and also because this was the first time I stretched and gessoed my own canvas - and it's always fun to do a new thing. Most difficult to manage was the complete lack of space in our apartment to accommodate trying to paint on such a large canvas (it is something like 1.5 feet by 5 feet). I actually ended up having to put it into our little basement storage area to dry since we have no surface large enough and elevated enough for it to remain undisturbed in here!

October 3, 2009

Following in her mother's footsteps?

Hi world. Mr. Forty-two roads here. This morning Lara and I sat down to create some artwork, and lo! it appears the little lady may be following in her mother's footsteps. Here are some of Lara's "crafty endeavors" from this morning.

She started with this picture of Marina:

And then we decided to create a birthday card - here's Marina again, with a little message written (partially) by Lara. I'll let you guess which letters are hers.

Then Lara created a self portrait, and added her little brother. So cute!

As attention was waning, I tried to get Lara to draw me. You see the 2 lines I got where my mouth is? That's my beard.

She's the best!!