Archive for Dolls

Tuesdays With Mooch & Fuss: The Power of Ten

Last week, Fuss focused on the number ten. We didn’t do it in a Sesame Street “Let’s count to ten” fashion, because that would have made us both fall into a math-induced coma. In a rich conceptual way, we explored addends that equal ten (2+8, 4+6, 9+1, 5+5, etc.). We also reviewed counting by tens, counting to ten in Spanish, and playing with tens in money. She spotted tens everywhere — the air conditioner, the clock, the oven timer.

Making Tens on the Montessori Addition Strip Board

Adding up to Ten

Art in Tens

In Language Arts, Fuss is learning about possessive pronouns, possessive proper nouns, and when to use apostrophes. Science-wise, she’s been interested in why and how water boils, how fish know when to stop eating, and how long it takes cars to slow down from various speeds.

Mooch reviewed expository writing last week. She wrote a paper on parents being some of the most tired people. There were three revisions and one typed final. She is loving Saxon math more than Singapore but is starting to feel like it repeats a lot. I think she needs the repeating. We’ll see how it pans out. Singapore moved much more quickly, it was at least challenging. Now she feels like she learned all the stuff she’s doing now last year. To stave off boredom, I purchased an Algebra curriculum on the side. It should be here next week.

Mooch decided to randomly make a doll this week

Mooch learning to draw manga characters in her free time

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Voyage Update: “Here We Are Now Entertain Us” (Peru)

As the six-by-nine speakers in the back of the small seventies cab blasted Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” my friends and I piled in like sardines waiting to be entertained. Instead of men selling fruit, like back home, the center dividers in Callao and Lima dawned dancing children expecting donations. Some really had skills, but others relied on cuteness to earn soles (the national currency). We kept our windows up and our doors locked despite the mild heat in the atmosphere. The city bustled like New York, with people moving very quickly to their destinations. Lots of things were being yelled, and in Callao, they honk incessantly. When street traffic stands still like the freeways in the states, everyone just lays on the horn.

Crammed in the back of a cab

This time we were traveling with Juan, a local, who was a friend of a friend of a friend. He’s an activist in Callao, who works along with El Ministirio del Culturo (the Ministry of Culture) to bring good health, educational opportunities, and other enrichment services to the Afro-Peruvians. The friend who connected us with Juan is Owen, who actually works at El Ministirio del Culturo. We met with him Thursday for about an hour and a half to discuss the current state of Afro-Peruvians. His organization is currently in the research phase. They must collect the data on how many Afro-Peruvians there are and where they are before being able to help them. Peru hasn’t done a census since the seventies, and being black is not considered a thing to necessarily be proud of. When surveying people, they must be clever and ask whether a grandparent or great-grandparent was of African descent. Because Afro-Peruvians are sprinkled here and there, it is difficult to prove there is a need for services and that if funded, people will be accessible to receive the help. Sometimes the organization has to use the hospitals diabetes and hypertension statistics to prove that there are sufficient numbers of Afro-Peruvians, because the government recognizes these as diseases prevalent amongst those of African descent.

Meeting Owen at The Ministry of Culture

The conversation with Owen was perfectly timed. It followed a trip to an Afro-Peruvian museum, where we learned about slavery in Peru. The guided tour included descriptions of the middle passage, the type of work the enslaved Africans did in Peru, and the impact on society following slavery. Apparently, there was a caste system similar to India in Peru following slavery, but it was based on ethnic mixture. The less African and Indian one possessed in their lineage, the more well off they were. While the system doesn’t legally exist anymore, the effects are still present today, of course. We explained that in the United States a similar situation took place (i.e. house negro, field negro, etc.), but it sounds like the perquisites for such differences were greater in Peru.

Afro-Peruvian Museum

The museum was fairly close to the presidential palace. Though it was thoroughly guarded, we were able to take photos. The fountain in the center of the area was surrounded by a beautiful cathedral and a courthouse. We were on foot at this point, so I was really able to take it all in. I’m sure it hadn’t been a coincidence that Juan had the taxi driver take us through the Graphic Design District. There was a whole alley plus two additional blocks of graphic design companies, printers, paper companies and the like. I appreciated it, even though he claimed it wasn’t on purpose.

Wednesday was our first day in Peru, and we covered a lot of ground. Mooch sat on my lap in the back of the first taxi, so by the time we got to the Naval Museum my foot was asleep. The weaponry was very interesting to look at. They had everything from swords and guns to canon balls and torpedos. Mooch was able to learn how a torpedo works, and she plans to study it further. She really liked that. Juan took us to eat lunch next door to that museum, and when we walked in, not only did we feel underdressed, we thought we wouldn’t be able to afford it. A pianist played Mozart and Christmas tunes in the corner of the airy restaurant, which was decked out in crisp white modern furniture. Everything turned out just fine. The food was really good, though it was a tad too salty for my taste.

Mooch at Coney Park in Peru

The kids were asking for fun. Juan looked a bit confused, and we ended up taking a small van-like bus, called a combi, to the mall. That’s not exactly fun for kids, so they seemed let down, and we thought the language barrier had soiled our intentions, but Juan had a plan. There was a small amusement park at the mall called Coney Park, and boy were they amused. We had gone to the bank to change our dollars to soles prior to crossing the street at the mall, so after gelato, I purchased six rides for Mooch for twenty soles. The exchange rate is 2.57. Not bad. I even had a chance to step away and videotape some young men doing skateboard tricks nearby.

To get to our next destination, we darted through dense traffic in the combi. Los Angeles, Compton, hell even Watts doesn’t compare to the way folks drive in Peru. The “bus” driver threw his hands up and yelled obscenities out of the window each time he cut someone off in transit. He went backwards down a one way street during rush hour. There is no real map or system for combis or buses in Peru. As the driver drives, another worker hangs out of the door and shouts out the destinations and collects the money from passengers. Cities and streets are painted on the side of the combi. We almost collided with other cars several times, but we arrived at our destination alive.

I changed my tampon standing up in a fifty cent bathroom. I had already planned to suggest the Magic Circuit, which is a park with several fountains and dancing water with lights. We travelled there that night, and it was beautiful. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Mooched was getting a little ill by that point, so Juan bought her some manzanilla tea (like chamomile). We got back to the boat around ten — in time for snack.

At the Magic Circuit of Water in Peru

By Friday, I was used to dipping and dodging in traffic. Juan’s brother drove us to the artisan mart, and we left Mooch on the boat with tea, Ibuprofen, and a television to get plenty of rest. Then we got our Peruvian shopping done. I had noted to Juan on Wednesday that none of the dolls in any stores had brown skin. He said he had a friend, who made black dolls, and he’d connect us Friday. Her name was Marite. We met up with her first, because I’ve been collecting dolls from every country. Her dolls were not what I expected, but I purchased one anyway, and I helped get one for Empress (the other child traveling with us). Marite simply paints white dolls black. I was looking for hand sewn. It’s interesting, though, that she does this because Afro-Peruvians literally don’t have any other way to get black or brown plastic dolls. Those varieties exist only on the internet.

We didn’t get to go to Machu Picchu with others from the boat. It was too expensive, and the excursion took the entire three days in Peru. I was content with detailed explanations, photos, and living vicariously through shipmates. I think it would have been too much hiking for Mooch, and it’s a journey one should complete without children.

We got lunch, more gelato, and then headed back to the ship. I really loved the Mira Flora area. The houses are very modern and the city is well established. The people in Peru weren’t particularly warm, but everyone we met directly was very nice. I appreciated the physical contact. They gave a hug and a kiss on the cheek with every greeting — even in business settings. Though there were times when language was a barrier, like when we described a food court to Juan in Spanish and he took us to the grocery store’s deli section, he was an awesome host. He carried bags, wiped kids faces, consoled them, and described each facility thoroughly. He only spoke Spanish, but we hung on to his every word. Others in our group were put off by the traffic, but if there had been more of a concentrated community of Afro-Peruvians to raise my kids in, Peru would have been on my list. I felt very at home. It delivered.

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Thematic Thursdays: Photo Winter Update

Where the hell have I been? Here it is all categorized and photographed for you. ūüôā


We’ve been dating, cuddling, loving, working, and hanging out with people like this awesome guy with whom Hannibal used to play MUD (similar to Dungeons and Dragons). I took this picture with my arm extended, because there’s no one to take a picture of us when we’re out on the town.


Brunches. Lots of brunches. Also, a few trips to the mall, in-home hangouts, Skype sessions, phone calls, and general awesomeness.


Rearranging crap. I got rid of an old TV — actually, it’s still sitting on the living room floor if you want to come and pick it up, you can have it for free.

Reorganizing things for Fuss’ new school year. I still haven’t made the calendar area for circle time. I seriously have to do that before January 3rd. Seriously.

Making the girls Kwanzaa gifts — Waldorf dolls, portable dollhouses, clothespin dolls, and quiet books:


The logo for Renaissance Mujer:

The Booking Packet for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company (email me to request the full packet):

Schooling Fuss

I put out some pretty cool activities in the last couple of weeks. Among Fuss’ favorite is the washing the baby activity.

She also loves the winter sensory tub (Snow!!!).

More Fuss?

Crafting with Mooch

She sewed a doll out of her socks for a handmade gift exchange at school. In return she received a cool handmade pillow. I sewed on one of the eyes to teach her to sew a button. Other than that, she made this sucker on her own after watching me make my first Waldorf doll (the test doll).

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Tuesdays With Mooch & Fuss: A Handmade Holiday

It started in November. I got bitten by the Waldorf doll bug. I’m not a fan of the curriculum or anthroposophy, but the dolls are SO FREAKIN’ CUTE. I decided that each of my daughters had to have one, and that they had to be handmade by me. There was one problem with this. I CAN’T SEW, and I DON’T have a sewing machine (well I didn’t before Hannibal got me one for Kwanzaa). I made the dolls by hand after making a test doll for myself.

I couldn’t stop there. I took the handmade theme and ran with it. I made each girl a quiet book. For Fuss’ quiet book, I cut everything out of felt by hand without drawing it first, because I didn’t want any lines on it. I just eyeballed it. Then my wonderful brother sewed the book together with his sewing machine. I also made one for Mooch, which took under two hours, because I hot glued everything. She is older, and she won’t be as rough on hers. If you have a younger child, I recommend the sewing.

Next, I hand painted clothespin dolls dressed them in cute little designer fabric remnants. The finale fete was designing and hand painting portable doll houses for each girl. This was sooo much fun, but Mooch’s was kind of difficult. I think I still have paint in my crotch from trying to do it in secret in the bed. I used Mod Podge to put some fabric on the floor of the bedroom, and Fuss’ box has a swimming pool and grass on top courtesy of a glue gun and Mod Podge.

Then to add to the natural elements in all of the items (wool, soy paint, 100% cotton, etc.) I bought tree blocks, which I wanted to chop, sand and make myself, but I couldn’t find a fallen tree branch large enough here in sunny California. The girls love the possibilities with the tree blocks. I would highly recommend them. Hannibal built a few platforms out of them to showcase the dolls for the first morning of Kwanzaa. We also built a fort to put everything under. It was very fun working together to build and rebuild until it didn’t collapse. ūüôā

There were some store bought items also, which I placed on our two tables. Mooch’s things were on the dinner table, and Fuss’ items were on her small table. For Mooch, I thought it was important to get her some books regarding socializing and organizing. The American Girl Book Store was perfect for that. I got each girl one Wii game, because Fuss is always jealous and left out when we play Wii. Now she has a Cookie Monster game with a Cookie Monster remote cover that she can play with. Fuss got a few puzzles and some Dot paints, which I’ve been eyeballing for a while, but they’re so expensive (like $13, I think). I also found a wooden Connect 4 game set, and that is Mooch’s favorite game. Out with the plastic!!!

I got Hannibal everything he asked for — slippers, a 1 terabyte portable external hard drive and headphones. I also added in two items themed from one of his favorite TV shows — Glee. He got Glee Karaoke for the Wii, and Mooch rocked “Bad Romance!” I also got him Glee Uno, which has special Sue Sylvester rules added. We haven’t played yet, but it should be a lot of fun.

I got a new green grown woman trench coat, slippers, some Victoria’s Secret items, and a new Singer sewing machine that actually matches my desk items. Now I need someone to show me how to use it. Any takers? ¬†I also embellished our “Peace Corner” or “Serenity Garden,” as Hannibal likes to call it, with a Bhudda Board and a gong.

I made some delicious Gumbo the first day, and my friend is having a chili Karamu on the last day, where everyone brings a topping. I want to find some Vegan sour cream. Ooh, one more thing! Guess what I’m pregnant! Just kidding, but guess what, I found VEGAN NUTELLA!!! It is delicious. It’s in the pics below in the gallery.


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Thematic Thursdays: Things I’m Getting For My 30th Birthday

I was born in 1980. That means that I’m not responsible for the election of Ronald Reagan, the invention of pleather or the introduction of the Happy Meal at McDonald’s. It also means that when my next birthday rolls around on October 15th, I’ll be crossing over to the dark side. I know what you’re thinking — turning thirty is better than the alternative. While I agree that it’s better than death, it still sucks monkey butt.

I’ve embraced most of the appearance crap — my 7 gray hairs, giggly backarms and breasts racing for my kneecaps. Those are battle scars mostly from raising my darling little girls. My problem is the physical stuff. I can’t stay up until ass-crack o’ clock anymore without feeling it in my spleen the next morning. It’s difficult to get up off of the floor, and my shoulder feels like I’ve been carrying bags since I was in-utero. That’s why the first thing on my list is ironic.

In no particular order, here goes:

1. Poppy Coach Bag
New Poppy Pop C Jazzy Hobo

I’ve never had a Coach bag. ¬†It’s not because I couldn’t afford one or I was boycotting them. ¬†It’s because they were fucking hideous to me. ¬†Nothing stood out about the designs. ¬†Nothing said, “Myshell, come get me. Come spend a house note on me.” ¬†Until now. ¬†Coach came ¬†out with a Poppy line that is completely gaudy and garish. ¬†It screams my name. ¬†I have to have one. ¬†I want this backpack and this and this¬†purse too, but I’m starting with the one above.

2. Dr. Hauschka Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream

This is basically, because I’m almost certain that the day I turn 30 crows feet will appear.

3. The 1980 Collectable Barbie Doll

My first Barbie was actually Peaches n’ Cream Barbie in 1985, but this one is totally hotter and it came out the year I was born, so I want it too.

4. Yu-Be Skin Cream

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream soothes and moisturizes dry skin. This glycerin-based cream is enriched with vitamin E, vitamin B2, and camphor. It has a uniquely high glycerin content and absorbability achieved through a special manufacturing process which makes Yu-Be so effective. Use it to smooth rough, dry patches on hands, elbows, knees, and feet. It softens and reduces tough calluses, including hard, cracked heels, and helps heal and prevent split cuticles. It replenishes lost moisture from water damage or frequent hand washing, helps heal and minimize scarring from burns, and protects and moisturizes skin exposed to cold, wind, and water.

5. Brown Sugar Body Polish

I love this stuff. ¬†I replace it every year in October. ¬†It makes my skin super freakin’ soft. ¬†Enough said.

6. Canon PowerShot SD4000 in RED

This. ¬†This is finally a camera slim enough, sleek enough, and awesome enough for me when I’m on the go. ¬†Fun fact: I say that every year. ¬†Anyway, this year’s shooter promises to deliver even in low light and when subjects are moving at high speeds. ¬†I can’t wait!

It all sounds pricey. ¬†I know. ¬†Think of it this way, though. ¬†Instead of paying prime pesos for party people to pop Perignon, I’m spending it all on me! ¬†I’ll only turn 30 once.

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