Saturday, October 30, 2010

All Hallows' Eve Eve

It's the night before Halloween! Mischief Night! Cabbage Night as they call it in some parts of the country (New England, I believe?)!

Daria is spending the weekend with us so we can maximize our fun and frivolity and this evening we are making Welsh Rarebit and Witches' Brew (lime punch) and stoking the fire and heating up cider and chocolate and carving pumpkins.

Check out this MASSIVE pumpking Daria got at the grocery store of all places last night!  She was like a kid when she saw it, begging me for it, telling me how awesome it is!  And when I saw the price sticker ($8.99 for a pumpkin that would clearly cost close to $40 at one of those pick-ur-own and pay-by-the-lb places) I agreed as long as she figured out how to get it from the floor into the cart, from the cart to the car, the car into the house and then finally to wherever it was going to be displayed.

I did try to help her hoist it into the cart, but, thankfully, a kind man shopping nearby saw that nonesense and came over to help.  I'm very sorry to all you people who insist that there is very little difference between the sexes but when you need something heavy lifted, you need a man.  They just have more upper body strength and that's all there is to it.  Hmmm...wonder how that happened?  It couldn't have been that someone designed it that way, could it?  But I digress..back to pumpkins...

Everywhere we went in the store, people stopped to gape at or comment on The Great Pumpkin.  We had a hard time fitting the rest of our groceries in the cart (thankfully it wasn't a very big order).  And when it came time to remove Behemoth from the cart and put him into the car, two male employees had to come out to the car with us to do the lifting.

Somehow, we managed to get the thing into the house and onto the dining room table without a male present and are looking forward to carving it and its fellow victims later on.

More to come...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rendered Incoherent

Colored trees...gorgeous, crisp sky...fluffy, cottony clouds...crunchy, raspy leaves...apples...PUMPKINS...CIDER...CRACKLING FIRE...WOODSMOKE...!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Hot Time in The Old Town Last Night

We live mere minutes from Philadelphia: Philly, The City of Brotherly Love, or as we locals sometimes unaffectionately call it, "Filthadelphia" (though I'm sure with this area's penchant for spelling any word that begins with an F and has anything whatsoever to do with Philadelphia with a PH instead--think Philly Phans, Philly Phun, the Philly Phanatic, the Philly Phlash--I should spell it "Philthadelphia" but that is just a few too many "H"s in one word for me).

We call it Philly. It's shorter and to the point. I don't know any locals who call it Philadelphia, now that I think about it. And with our accent it's usually pronounced more like, "Philwy". Only the "L" is silent. The Philly "L" drop is not quite as pronounced as the Pittsburgh drop, but it's still there. Now you know.

So, why am I droning on about this? Well, as you probably know, Philly is known for, among other things, Ben Franklin! We have the Ben Franklin bridge, Ben Franklin parkway, numerous statues and memorials, his grave, countless impersonators and (I'm getting to my point) The Franklin Institute!

Ah, The Franklin Institute: destination of South Jersey first-grade-class field trips for over thirty years! You get to walk through a HEART! While it's BEATING! For some reason that was (and still is) so eye-poppingly cool!

Apparently, and I discovered this from a Homeschooling website, TFI has a free community night every third Wednesday evening of nearly every month. And yesterday was the third Wednesday of October. So Daria took Man-Cub for a fun-filled, excuse me, phun-philled, not to mention PHREE, evening!

One of the best things about going from South Jersey into Philly is taking the PATCO, which we call the Speedline and is just the train line that connects SJ to Philly. This was always a huge treat when we were kids and my kids feel the same way today. Man-Cub was almost as excited about that as we was about going to the museum.

My part was easy as pie: I dropped them off at the train station and then, three hours later, rode as Mom's passenger to drive in and pick them up. Man-Cub got into the car all breathless and glowing, chattering non-stop about the many wondrous things he got to see and do, despite not being able to see Jupiter and its moons at the Observatory because of the cloudy skies. They had a great time (even though the Cleopatra exhibit we've all been dying to see was stingily closed for the evening) and are even talking about going back next month!

And then, as we were making our way to the bridge, Man-Cub piped up, "I'm HUNGRY!" Daria chimed in, "Yeah, me know, I've never had a Philly cheesesteak..." Mom couldn't believe that Daria had lived 20 minutes away from Philly for 26 years and never had an authentic cheesesteak! Then I timidly added, "I've never had one either!" I've had many cheesesteaks, many great cheesesteaks, but only from South Jersey where, truth be told, the cheesesteaks are just as good as in Philly.

Well, that did it. Mom made a sharp turn to the left and next thing we knew we were on South Street where we had to cleverly turn Man-Cub's attention in different directions a few times to avoid giving him the kind of education no nine-year-old boy should have. There are some...unique shops on South Street. You'll know what I mean if you've been there. Or on St. Mark's Place in the East Village.

Anyway...Mom knows a thing or two about Philly (honestly, she's the best Philly tour guide I've ever seen and an historical trip for both my children is being planned even now) so she took us to her favorite cheesesteak shop.

I know what you're thinking, "Was it Pat's or Geno's? Or even Tony Luke's?"

NO! I'm sorry, but a real, authentic, original cheesesteak does NOT have whiz on it! And that's Cheese Whiz in case you're worried and grossed out. Which you should be even after knowing it's Cheese Whiz! Cheesesteaks have been in existence before Cheese Whiz ever was! You get AMERICAN cheese on a cheesesteak (maybe provolone if you're feeling extra fancy) and it HAS to be on a soft Amoroso's roll and nothing else.

We went to Jim's Steaks a small hole-in-the-wall with its own walls covered with signed photos and napkins of the many stars and other notables who have eaten there. They do make steaks with whiz, but you can choose between that, American or provolone. Man-Cub went purist by ordering a steak sandwich, no cheese, no onions, I went Old School with the American cheesesteak and Daria went fancy with the provolone cheesesteak. We made the cashier's day by handing her $14 worth of Susan B. Anthony coins we'd been lugging around courtesy of the ticket machine at the Speedline (they were gold and made us feel like pirates) and Mom thoroughly impressed Man-Cub by leading us through the back of the shop to the "secret" side door near the service entrance.

I gotta tell ya, there's nothing more Philly than eating a cheesesteak in the car while driving across the Ben Franklin bridge into Jersey. We had a blast. And those cheesesteaks were divine!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Still Learning...

I only have a moment, but this poor blog is feeling the squeeze of my new busier schedule and has been sorely neglected. I managed to get the new festive Halloween colors up last night but haven't had the time or mental acuity to actually get a post out.

We're revamping. I hear good teachers do that regularly so I am no longer fretting about it but it is time-consuming. Well, it was. But now it's actually saving us time.

I've been learning about the way Man-Cub learns. I've also learned a smattering of Latin, Marine Biology, Old Testament History and the beginnings of how to play Chess but most importantly, I'm learning about my child.

He's a GENIUS!

Okay, I just said that because I'm pretty sure you were expecting me to! And, of course, I think he's a genius but then every mother does so I know it doesn't count. But really now, he's pretty spectacularly smart. I think he's smarter than me but I still have the benefit of many years' education and experience to keep an edge over him.

I thought he might be a kinesthetic learner and was overwhelmed by that. Then I discovered he's actually a visual-spatial learner and was overwhelmed by that. But then I spent many days letting him "unschool" (highly recommended for VSLs) while I researched and read and clicked and scrolled. And I found some tips that are actually helping!

I would love to explain in more detail but I do have to get school going today. However, you may notice the time stamp on this post and that we are beginning school at around 12:30 in the afternoon. And still ending at 3:00. Chew on that for a while...

Friday, October 01, 2010

When is the weather going to catch up to the calendar???

It's the first day of October and I am usually running around, gleefully frolicking in abundant Autumnness but, instead, I am too tired and discouraged to care.

My house is going to suck me down into the depths of despair. I need to do a massive clean. I haven't been keeping up with my normal daily or weekly chores and now the realization has hit me that this place is depressingly bad. It smells in here. It stands to reason. I mean, the house has been sealed up all Summer. I usually do have to do an Autumn airing the way many people do a Spring one, but this year seems particularly bad. I blame the dog. And the terrible September we just had that withheld all its fine, dry days in which I usually would have thrown the windows open and instead behaved more like August-lite.

Ugh. We need to open windows, bathe the dog, pull all the furniture out from the walls, sprinkle the carpet, maybe deep clean the carpet, deep clean the upholstery and wipe everything down! And I have no time in which to do it!

How do I enlist the help of my family without a) sounding like a demented shrew and b) expending more energy in getting and keeping them moving than it would take for me to just do it myself?

Where do I start?