So as you *may* have surmised from my total lack of posts this last week, Russia was a bit of a non-starter. I had plans! Kandinsky art projects! Russian tea cakes! St. Basil’s Cathedral! But Ellie very politely said “No, thank you” to learning hello and goodbye in Russian, and neither of the girls were at all interested in the local Russian Art Museum (which I hear is wonderful, and I still want to go). Maybe it was because it was a holiday week or maybe we just needed a break. We played with our matryoshka dolls, watched Peter and the Wolf (both the Disney and the very cool short film version) and Anastasia and called it good enough. And then we watched some fireworks and ran through the sprinkler and did other 4th of July week things.
This coming week, however, is France, and I am optimistic that there will be more interest in the land of patisseries, le Petit Prince, and patriotisme. Also, Ellie and I were looking up French wildlife today, like you do, and found the little bugger pictured above, which is a garden dormouse and is so cute we both squee’d out loud. I mean, look at that! It’s like a miniature raccoon and a chipmunk had a baby! I’m taking it as a good omen.
Oh! and before I forget – be sure to check out the Camp Nellie Bly tab at the top menu – I’ve added lots of links and material for all the countries we’ve hit so far. And if there’s anything missing, let me know!
Today was arts and crafts day at Camp Nellie Bly. And since we’re “in” Australia this week, I decided we could learn about aboriginal dot painting, which is extremely cool, fun, and kid-friendly. We invited some friends over to join us, which – I cannot tell a lie – can occasionally stress me out a little. Not the kids themselves, but my ability to keep them entertained. But this turned out to be really fun and not stressful, which is why I’m sharing it. Could be my meds working like they’re supposed to, could be that I’m getting the hang of this. Don’t know, don’t care.
First, I blew my own mind by making paint. MAKING IT, y’all. It was like being God. Well, if God is broke and has no childcare, which is the situation I found myself in last night after the girls were in bed, and I realized that I had zero paint in the house and 5 children with whom to do a painting project the next morning. Chad is in Nashville on a business trip, so I couldn’t just run out to the craft store and grab some tempera paints. (Also because they make you pay money for those things, unless you steal them, but I haven’t stolen anything since that time when I was six, and I shoplifted a lipgloss from the drug store, and my sister ratted me out [THANKS, ELLEN] and my mom made me GO TO A PRIEST and confess my sin. Which is kind of hilarious if you know how not like that my mom usually is.) But then I remembered Pinterest!! Pinterest will save me! And sure enough, there were, like, twelvety-thousillion different recipes for making paint on Pinterest. Finger paints, face paints, interior wall paints (!), textured paints, you name it. I settled on this one, since it was simple (flour, salt and water) and chemical (cooked until it thickens) and sounded like it would work. It made about 2.5 cups of paint base, which I could then put in a squeeze bottle and squirt into the egg carton cups I’d cut out for each kid. Stop rolling your eyes.
Of course, once I’d made it I had to try it out. At midnight. Because I’m dumb like that. It worked pretty slick, using food coloring for the different shades I wanted. The handprint painting in the picture above was my finished project. Continue reading
The days, you guys. They are just packed. Newsflash: it is kind of a lot of work to plan a summer-long camp where you switch countries every week. I’m really wishing that I’d had this brainstorm back in, like, February or something, because for one thing, it would have given me something to focus on besides how much I HATE WINTER (it must always be capitalized), and for another, maybe I wouldn’t feel so scrambly every weekend. Or actually sort of all the time. Sweden week was pretty good, although I feel like it could have been better. I was out-of-commission sick one day, and we never did get to the Swedish Institute; nor did we manage to bake off the ginger thins dough we got at IKEA, or eat any swedish pancakes. My stepmom suggested teaching the girls Swedish massage, which is a GENIUS idea, but again: didn’t get to it. Things we did get to: dancing to ABBA, eating meatballs and swedish fish (separately; we’re not cretins), making adorable flower wreaths for Midsommar, reading Maj Lindman and Astrid Lindgren books, coloring dala horses and making Viking paper crafts, and increasing our knowledge of Thor. Which looks pretty good all written out like that, and
probably definitely I should just let it go, but it didn’t feel very organized or coherent.
We’re still navigating the camp/play balance – after all, this isn’t really a camp, and all of their friends have other schedules and activities, and we dearly love our friends and want to see them as much as possible. My tendency is to immediately jump on any proposed playdate activity – Yes! Things for the kids to do! Socializing! The potential for adult conversation! Whooo! But then again, one of the supposed reasons for doing this camp thing in the first place was to give some structure to our days and weeks, and I think I haven’t been paying enough attention to that. I mean, we will survive if we only have one playdate in a given day, you know? We don’t have to spend the whole day out of the house. This week I’m trying to be more intentional about planning specific activities for each day and not over-scheduling. We shall see how it works.
So: AUSTRALIA! Yep, we’re going to the land down under. Where women glow and men plunder. Or so I am reliably informed. It’s already been a learning experience for me, as I would have sworn that Sydney was the capital of Australia. But no. Canberra. It’s like finding out Sacramento is the capital of California: a vague sense of being conned coupled with strong geographical embarrassment. Continue reading