Saturday, August 23, 2014

Baking cookies with Chef Eliot

Recently the boys have been interested in watching videos on YouTube showing how various things are made.  It started out with the process of making cheese, then we learned how peanut butter is made, then chains, golf balls, gummy worms, you name it.  Eliot decided it was time to make his own demo video.  He does a great job of explaining what he's doing, step by step, and he has a wonderful assistant.

Eliot wrapped the "cookies" in wax paper and then asked me to write numbers along the side of a scrap of paper that he'd glued on.  It wasn't until he asked me re-write them with a different orientation that I realized he was making a bar code.

Developing his brand.  A package of These Are Cookies (guaranteed to make one happy) all wrapped up and ready to go!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Penguin Island

The lease on our car ended this week (in fact they came and picked it up today) so last weekend we decided to take it for one last day trip out of town.  We chose to drive south and visit Penguin Island.  In summer time you can walk on the island and see the penguins, but evidently winter is their breeding season so the island is closed.  There was a boat tour, however, that takes people around the three islands in the area and points out wildlife, etc.  So we went for it.

Waiting for the boat to board was made less painful by a fun playground (I asked Eliot to put the hands at three o'clock, and he did)...
...and a nice little beach area.
Nevertheless, the boys were anxious to get going.

The boat had windows in the floor so that you could watch for any marine life underneath the surface.

Mostly bubbles.

As the boat got going Peter settled in for a cuddle.

Apparently this area was once dry land and covered in a forest of Tuart trees.  The stringy texture of the rock is the fossilized root system.  Pretty cool.  In the centre of this picture you can sort of make out a somewhat cylindrical shape; that's a petrified tree trunk.

Just enjoying the water and the sun.

Peter had all sorts of observations to make.

The ride was a bit rocky, Yellow Bear needed a snuggle.

Though we didn't spot any penguins (which, our guides informed us, are hard to spot at the best of times) we did come across a few sea lions basking in the sun, and of course there were plenty of pelicans.  One of the islands has the largest penguin rookery in the world.  I've decided I really like pelicans.  They're just so massive and they look so graceful and majestic as they sail calmly over the water.

Eliot snapped many, and I mean many, pictures with my camera.  This was one of his best.  He really caught the sparkle of the water.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Getting Out and About

Here are some of the outings we've been taking advantage of the past few weeks.  The Herdsman Reserve is always a fun and accessible place to visit.  I like to think of it as our backyard.  This boardwalk does a loop through a paperbark swamp and for the past year or so it has been partially closed due to some damage done by vandals.  We visited it a month ago and found that it had been repaired.  The boys were thrilled.

Stopping off at the favourite bridge for some pebble tossing.

Last month the boys and I got together with Merlene for a potato roast up in the hills.  It was the same spot we visited two years ago and Eliot had not forgotten his important job of gathering sticks for the fire.

Peter got in on the action this time around.

Helping Merlene light the fire.

The boys were pretty good with the fire and kept a respectful distance.

While we ate, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos watched from the trees and ate their lunch above us.

Our next trip was to New Norcia, a monastic community north of Perth founded by Spanish Benedictine monks in the 1840s.  It was a really interesting place, sort of the last thing you'd expect to find in the Australian bush.

Attempting to get the wiggles out by doing cart-wheels in the grass.

The monks made the bricks on site, though they didn't bake them hot enough and the bricks are weak and subject to erosion.  Eliot found this very interesting.

The ground was very rocky and Peter Garbage Man went right to work gathering up the rocks.

And of course there's the beach.  We just never get tired of the beach.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Plugging along

Recently the boys have been playing hospital.  They will set up a bed and then one will be the patient while the other wheels around a cart with "medicine" (raisins or Tick Tacs) then the patient is spoon fed the medicine.

Eliot's culinary skills continue to grow and he's actually getting pretty good at making pancakes.

He is justly proud of his work.

Peter is happy to help out as well, especially when there's a bowl of brownie batter that needs cleaning out.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful for the past several days so we took the boys to the beach for a play the other afternoon.  Of course Garbage Truck was put to work.

Peter always enjoys having his feet buried.

We have to take advantage of these beaches while we can.  We'll be missing them in few weeks.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How the boys are going

Eliot and Peter have been enjoying these last two weeks together.  Eliot has been out of school for a mid-term break and he and Peter have had a lot of time to spend together.  It has been so fun to watch their friendship grow.  The other day, after they had been playing in the other room, they came out to the kitchen for lunch and Eliot said, "Peter, you're the best Peter in the whole world.  I love you."  Peter said, "Oh."  I told him to say "I love you too Eliot" and then he added, "I wuv you too Ewiot."

Peter is totally obsessed with trucks, and with garbage trucks in particular.  Eliot has embraced this and it has become the central theme of their play.  If they're playing trucks, they're hauling trash; if they're playing trains, they're hauling trash; if we go for a walk in the park with the stroller, they're hauling trash.  They are always collecting "rubbish" from around the apartment which could include scraps of paper, magnets, small toys, dirty laundry, really anything they can get their hands on.  This urge to throw things away will be very useful in the Major Purge that will precede our upcoming move.  Already we've taken several trips to Good Sammy's and Salvo's where the donation bins look conveniently like garbage bins. 

Stories and book-reading are still favourites.  Over the break we went to the library and found that in the kids' section they had put up a huge cardboard castle.  There were markers that children could use to decorate the walls along with nooks and cubbies where cushions had been placed for some comfy and secluded reading.  The boys had a great time and chose several books to read in the castle and take home with us.  Both boys like to cuddle up to read.  Peter is especially insistent and will order us with a commanding, "Snuggle me!" before any story begins.

Enjoying a little artsy afternoon on a rainy day.  Eliot has been learning about primary and secondary colours in school and they were having a good time mixing the colours to see what they could make.

Peter has been introduced to the fun of a "close shave."

Eliot, always the attentive big brother, was delighted to show Peter how it's done.  Peter thought the whole thing was unspeakably hilarious.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Launch

The other day I overheard a conversation between Spencer and Eliot.
"You know Eliot," said Spencer, "each book has a story of its own, and not just the one that it tells.  Take this book for example," lifting up a copy of A History of the American People, "I bought this book at the Strand book store in New York City when I was there with your Grandpa, Uncle Aaron, and Uncle Hugo to see a game at the old Yankee stadium."  He went on, pulling down different books and explaining how or why they had found their way to our shelves.

As of a few weeks ago there is a new book on our shelf with a very special story behind it.  It is the product of Spencer's own blood, sweat, and tears.  The dissertation that he slaved over back in the early years of our marriage, and which earned him a great deal of praise when he defended it, has been fleshed out and published as Scholarly Community at the Early University of Paris.  And not published by just anyone, but by Cambridge University Press, the most prestigious press in Spencer's field.

Right now the boys are not capable of grasping the significance of their father's accomplishment or what it means to contribute to a body of knowledge, but someday they will.  We're all so proud of him.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


I love listening to what the boys have to say.  Recently they've been addressing each other as "Brother."  We were at the park the other day and Peter was following after Eliot calling "Brother, Brother!"  Eliot still has quite a few "special" pronunciations for words like shushi and brefiskt.  He has also caught on to some Aussie pronunciations, like the other day when I told him that something was a pattern and he said, "No, it's not!  It's a pattin" and of course he still insists that his teacher's name is not Miss Taylor, but Miss Tayla.

The almost constant barrage of Why Questions from Eliot sometimes traps me in some pretty circular reasoning.  For example:

"Mama, why don't cats have hands?"

"Well, they don't need hands."


"They walk on their four paws and carry things in their teeth."

"Oh.  Why do they carry things in their teeth?"

"Well, because they don't have hands."

Peter is also quite the talker though he's often shy.  When I pick him up from the gym's creche or nursery at church, the carers often comment on how quiet he is.  However the moment he sees Spencer or myself he becomes a fountain of information, relating all of his little observations.

Some of his baby pronunciations have given way to something more recognizable.  Where he once said "ee-mow" he now says "oatmeal" but there's still "peebeebubber" and "matewa" (peanut butter and Nutella) and his l's are pronounced like w's (Ewiot).  Now that Eliot is in school full time it's just Peter and me at the library's story time and he really likes it.  He and Eliot often distracted one another and it was hard for them to sit still, but Peter will go right up to the front and sit and listen to the stories and follow along with the little songs.  Here's a song that he learned at the library:

They're so much fun.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

I find myself sitting in front of the computer, wanting to write something eloquent about motherhood and all it means to me and all of the mothers who have touched my life in addition to my own wonderful mother.  But I'm almost too tired to think (I'm counting the days until Spencer gets home on Wednesday).  I suppose there is a kind of eloquence in the exhaustion that comes from caring for young children.  
So it may not be very eloquent, but it is certainly sincere.  I am so thankful for my mother and for all that she has done and does do for me.  I am thankful for my two splendid mothers-in-law and for the man who brought them into my life.  And of course I'm thankful for the two little boys who call me "Mama" and who break my heart every day--it's bursting with love for them.

It was a beautiful, sunny day so I took the boys to Kings Park to have a walk.  Peter's Smile For The Camera Face has improved considerably.  I kind of miss the scrunched up face, but now we can see his beautiful eyes.

Eliot took off his shoes to do some yoga with his scooter.  I asked him if they'd been teaching him yoga at school and he said, "No Mama, you taught me."  I'd forgotten, but he hadn't.

I love my sweet boys so much.  They made it a very happy Mother's Day indeed.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sibling Revelry

I love seeing Eliot and Peter playing happily together.  And not just because it allows me a little peace to read or do a blog post on a Sunday afternoon.  It's fun to observe their interactions with one another and the things they incorporate into their play.  Like most older children Eliot can sometimes boss a bit ("Peter, you don't know a lot of wisdom as we do"), and like most younger children Peter finds great enjoyment in pushing Eliot's buttons.  So cooperative play occasionally erupts into squabbles, but for the most part they're good at getting along. 

Here they're playing Auto-Parts Shop.  Eliot had set up his shop (notice how he has stacked the tires) and Peter was pretending to buy items to build a car.  Just about everything was going for $500.

A picnic on the beach after paddling in the water.  This picture was actually taken a few weeks ago, on Grandma's last day with us.  Since this time the days and evenings have gotten a little more cool and rainy.

They were so sweet, sitting together and munching on their picnic supper, waiting for the sun to set.