Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Spring!

I've never celebrated Spring before. I mean, I guess everyone sorta celebrates it, they acknowledge that winter is over, the days are now equal with the nights and will soon be longer. They move their clocks back. But I've never really celebrated it before.

Ember is Pagan and celebrates the seasons, and invited those that wanted to to celebrate with her. She was careful to point out that not all Pagans do the same things to celebrate, just like different Christian families have different traditions for their holidays, and so that what we did with her today wouldn't be necessarily what other Pagans did. She said that her family didn't always even do exactly the same thing year to year, and that this year we were going to do something a bit different.

She said that she doesn't do so much "woo woo magic" type stuff, that for her personally, that the scientific aspects of nature was the focus of her belief. It's a lunar holiday, and this year there was something called a "super moon", which Ember explained was when the full (in this case) or new moon happens at the same time when the moon is really close to the earth making it seem really big and low. She said the next time that happens won't be until 2016! In order to see it, we got to camp outside in the back yard, and we didn't have a bedtime! It has been warming up lately, but it was definitely pretty chilly, even with a bunch of girls stuffed into a little tent. Good thing that we had a small campfire to keep us warmer!

I woke up when Ember shifted out of the tent around 7am. I think she must've had a tiny alarm set or something because all of the other girls were out cold. I didn't get up until she left the tent though, and even then I stayed in my sleepbag and just watched, since I wasn't sure if she'd wanted to be alone. She relit the fire, and sat in front of it, writing in what looked like a journal. She tore the page out, stuck it on a stick, and put it into the fire until it had all burned up. She sat there for awhile, but I think I must've fallen back to sleep. I asked her about it later though and she said that she'd written down some things she wanted to start doing.

I woke back up again later, must've been closer to 9, when I heard the back door close, and Ember was carrying a big tray, so I rushed out to help her. She'd made us scrambled egg wraps, which is sort of like an omelette in whole wheat tortilla. Aedon and I had ham and cheese and Riley and Ember just had asparagus and mushrooms in theirs since they don't eat meat. Ember said that eggs, spring greens, and ham were all fairly traditional foods to eat for Spring celebrations. After we were done eating we packed up everything but the tent (because an adult had to break it down so that it could fit in it's case) and went back inside the house.

We made flowers from pipe cleaners and crepe and tissue paper, and little paper cones to hold them to give others, and after we had lunch, we went to a nearby park for a walk. On the walk Ember told us some of the things that her family had done in previous years, like egg hunts and egg races, but she said she thought she was a bit old for things like that. She said that one year her family stayed with another family who owned a non-working farm with a lot of land, and that they had an enormous bonfire that a bunch of people danced around, and that there was a basket of bells and other instruments, and that the children used those to make a lot of noise to "wake up the Earth". She said other years when it was too cold or snowy still for outside stuff, they had cleaning games inside. I told I was glad that she didn't make us do cleaning, even if she did make it into a game!

On the way home from the park, we picked up some stuff to plant a few things in pots, and we worked on those before dinner.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Sorry that I've not posted recently, my Hatshepsut paper had to be turned in on Wednesday, and I was working hard on that. Last Saturday I wrote up all of my index cards of notes for each paragraph, and though Sunday I started turning that information into sentences, Monday I mostly got distracted drawing things for on my cover sheet. Doh! So Tuesday evening was a mad dash finish turning my notes into something that resembled a paper that had to have one opening paragraph plus five more paragraphs (each paragraph consisting of, at least, 3-5 sentences) detailing who they were and their notable accomplishments. I thought that you might like to read my paper, I think that it turned out fairly well, considering how much I hated sitting down and focusing on it:

While Hatshepsut was not the last, and posibly not even, as she was long-believed to be, the first, women to rule Ancient Egypt as pharaoh, her reign during the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty New Kingdom is frequently regarded as the most successful. Despite this, because deliberate erasures, vandalism and defacing of her accomplishments meant that information had been missing from histrical records until the early twentieth century, we may not have known the scope of her success.

Hatshepsut's father was Thutmose I, her mother was Queen Ahmose. Her husband and consort was Thutmose II, her half-brother. When their father died, Thutmose II became pharoah, and when he died, the next in line to become pharoah, Thutmose II's child with another wife, Thutmose III was next in line to become pharaoh (because Hatsepsut and Thutmose II had only one child, a daughter, Neferue). However, since he was just a child at the time, Hatshepsut became regent. It was not long before she identified herself as pharaoh rather than regent, and when he was of age, Thutmose III was co-regent, reversing the expected roles. Upon Hatshepsut's death, Thutmose III was made pharoah.

Hatshepsut's reign was the longest of all female rulers, twenty one to twenty two years long, as well as the most prosperous. While she experienced success with warfare early in her reign, she is general considered to have brought to her people a long peaceful and prosperous era due to reestablishing trading relationships. The wealth that this brought allowed or building projects that raised Ancient Egyptian architecture to a much higher standard, high enough that it would not be rivaled by any other culture for a thousand years.

One of her major accomplishments was reestablishing the trade networks that had been disrupted during foreign occupuption of Egypt. This allowed for a mission to the Land of Punt, where notably, the Egyptians returned baring thirty-one love myrrh trees, which were then replanted in the courts of Hatshepsut's mortuary temple-- the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees. The depiction of this expedition in relief is also famous for a realistic depiction of the Queen of the Land of Punt, who appears to have suffered from steatopygia. Hatshepsut was also one of the most prolific builders in Ancient Egypt, with hundres of building projects, ans so numerous was her statuary that almost every major museum in the world has some of it amongst their collections.

Many of her more public works of were willfully defaced, rather than eroded or broken due to weather or age, and it was once widely believed that this was an attempt by Thutmose III to erase the name of Hatshepsut from the history of Egypt, due to negative feelings of being reduced to co-regent and denied his place as pharaoh. However, all of this vandalism and rewriting of Hatshepsut's accomplishments only occurred during the end of Thutmose III's reign. When one considers that Thutmose was the head of Hatshepsut's army for over twenty years, that he had considerable power, and that he could have easily orchestrated a take-over had he been willing to, as well as more private depictions of Hatshepsut were left to remain, it makes the premise of a personal vendetta seem questionable. It is instead posited by many Egyptologists that Thutmose III's successor, and co-regent during his reign, Amenhotep II, would have had a motive to do this because his position in the royal lineage was not so strong as to assure his elevation to pharaoh. That he also usurped many of Hatshepsut's accomplishments as his own also supports this premise. Who did it, and their motives, have never been proven completely, however.

The erasure of Hatshepsut's name, whoever did it, and their motives, almost caused her to disappear from history. It is only when 19th century Egyptologists became confused when they started to interpret the texts on temple walls began to suggest that things did not add up. The 2006 discovery of nine cartouches bearing the names of Hatshepsut and Thurmose III in Karnak may shed additional light on the attempt to erase her from the record and correct the nature of their relationship, and her role as pharaoh.

I'm so glad to be done! We'll get them back graded on Monday; I'll let you know how I do!

On Tuesday the British kids collectively made dinner for the rest of us, which was super nice. They made these things they called pancakes, but they're more like crepes I've seen, and we ate them with lemon juice and confectionary sugar, so it was a lot like eating very flat funnelcake. They said that it was traditional to eat pancakes on the Tuesday before Lent, that they called it Pancake Day. Part of my family's heritage is German, and there's a lot of people with erman heritage in this area, and around here we eat fastnachts, which are a bit like sugary doughnuts made of potato flour, on that day. My grandmother brought some home from work with her for all of us, so it was quite a carb-tastic day! It's funny to think how some traditions are similar, but get changed as they move around to different locations or cultures. Is there a time of the year when you eat something specific?

Monday, March 7, 2011

gone to the dogs

Since it was nice on Saturday, and I needed a break from working on my paper, I asked if the others with dogs wanted to get out and take their dogs to the dog park with me and Omicron and Epsilon. It's an off leash park so the dogs got to run around and play a bit which was fun.

Llinos brought a frisbee and Terebinth (above), Myfanwy's Seren (to the left), and Omicron and Epsilon had a good time running around after that, until they were tired. I got a good photo of Myfanwy and Seren while they were resting.

Niamh brought Beagan and kept him on his leash, though she ran about with him a lot. She said that he's a Patterdale terrier and that that breed tends to be really excitable and she was worried if she took him off she'd never catch him to get him home again. I had to laugh, because Niamh is a bit like that herself!

Myfanwy said that Seren is a bit like that too, and needs lots of exercising and attention or else she can get onto trouble, like digging through her drawers and eating socks. Myfanwy said it's because Seren, who is a Welsh Sheepdog, and Beagan are working dogs, and that those breeds are very intelligent and use to being active so you have to keep them busy and stimulated or they get into trouble trying to entertain themselves. I don't know what kind of dogs Omicron and Epsilon are, we adopted them from someone who fostered them after they were left abandoned in an apartment after their previous owners moved - can you imagine!? :( How sad. They use to get in trouble doing stupid things, too, though not so much now that they're no longer puppies. They once really did eat my homework (well, they chewed on my whole backpack)!

I wish that they'd eat my stupid Hatshepsut paper! It rained all day on Sunday, so I pretty much did nothing but worked on that.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fashion Friday! (guest blogger Iona McKenzie)

Hi there, this is Iona here. Aurora was telling me how she needed more clothing which was appropriate for Spring, and we got to talking about what's "in" this coming season. I nattered on at her for a bit and she suggested that I make a blog post telling people my thoughts.

First thing: colours. The biggest colours this coming spring are pinks. Anything from carnation to coral to "honeysuckle pink", which is a slightly subdued hot pink. Other popular colours are neutrals like nude, beige, and white, and subtle femininely coloured versions of neutrals like bronzey rust, and mauve, particularly in pretty floral prints, which compliment the overall nostalgically sweet romanticisation of the the 50s, 60s, and a bit of the 70s styles that's also going on.

Some of the style elements being recycled and updated for this season are:

- sheer elements, lace, crochet and macramé

- wide legged trousers like bell bottoms, flared trousers

- nautical looks such as stripes, all-in-ones like jumpsuits/playsuits, and military inspired jackets and vests

- bohemian looks that pair seemingly-contrasting elements together; ex: a) 50s styled floral playsuit with a military vest and a pair of heavy-looking boots, or b) high-waisted wide leg trousers paired with a tucked-in billowy shirt w/ bishop sleeves. Remember to use sense when interpreting these look for your own closet, though. We're young ladies, no need to be vulgar. Here's some examples, because I know people like visuals:

-- Sadly, I couldn't find much in the warm pinks for sale that had good shape, but this peach top from The Dolly Stand is a great age-appropriate way to introduce the colour via a simple staple. I think it would be great with Julie's meet jeans.

-- However Lavenderlore's Crochet top can be ordered in a variety of colours, and 6, 8, 9, 10 & 11 would all be great colour choices. I think it would look fabulous worn over a simple tank with the pair of white trousers from AG's 2008 2-in-1 Beach Outfit.

-- The silhouette of this BunnyBear pattern, even though meant for historical Molly, is very up to the minute. It would look very now in a slightly oversized floral with a removable leather belt! For dressier occasions, you can't go wrong using AG's 2005 Gala Gown's shoes with this look.

-- This is a great non-fussy outfit for a more casual day. I'd pair this with a pair of lace leggins and a pair of boots like Nicki's meet boots.

-- The 2010 Pet Show Dress has a great silhouette but is rather dull on it's own. I'd probably bump up the colour drama by pairing it with the 2006 Petals and Plaid's jacket; that is such a hot hue and looks brilliant with navy!

-- Alternatively, if you crochet, you can make your own fashions. Crochet doll clothes can easily become tacky, so keep in mind to stay in scale - cotton thread works better than acrylic. Here are two great, and free! patterns; one for a top, and one for a dress.

Other AG bits that you may already have and could re-use with other bits to update them:

- the sheer/satin blouse from the 1998 snowflake Jumper

- navy jacket from 1998 Riding Outfit

- boot cut jeans from 1999 Blue Jeans Basic

- 2003 Beachside Outfit

- 2004 Garden Party Dress

- 2008 Sweet Kitten Heels

Thursday, March 3, 2011

rain, rain, go away

It's been raining off and on here, lately. In fact, on Monday it poured all day, and the ground still hasn't completely dried out from that. It's not so bad because it's also starting to warm up. I said that it feels like spring is right around the corner and Ember reminded me that it's only a little over two weeks until it's officially here!

Since it was the first day nice enough to be out in short sleeves, Poppy and I went for a walk in the wooded area behind our house yesterday after school. The ground was still squishy, so we needed to wear our rubber boots. It was really windy, too, and I had to chase after my hat once! Maybe we could get some kites and try flying them this weekend. Well, maybe if I ever finish my report project on ancient Egypt and Hatshepsut.

Oo, time for school!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Saint David's Day

Myfanwy tells me that today is Saint David's Day, which is a big holiday in Wales - so Happy Saint David's Day! Or Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant Hapus, as Myfanwy would say! It seems a little like a Welsh version of the 4th of July, ie patriotic stuff. St David is the patron saint of Wales so they have things like cultural events at school, and parades and stuff to celebrate.

This is a photo of Myfanwy wearing her traditional costume for school instead of her usual uniform because they're having a special program for the chorus and some poetry reciting. She said most people, like adults and stuff, don't dress up like she did, but that lots of people do wear daffodils or leeks since those are symbols of Wales and St. David.

Myfanwy is also going to make us something called cawl for dinner tonight. I've never had it but she said that it's just lamb and leek stew - she said she'd make a small pot for Ember without any meat in it, which I thought was very sweet of her.