Oh bugger.

Next door neighbor thought it would be cute if she would 1) invite me over for a drink at her place while the kids trick-or-treat and 2) invite a man over to check me out for a potential date. Mr. Man was actually sent to my front door to walk over to friend's house. Then he says, "You far exceeded my expectations." Huh? Mr. Man is said to be - so far - head over heels. Maitresse, unfortunately, cannot say the same of Mr. Man. I would actually prefer to wretch right now.

Friends do not put friends up on impromptu dates or introductions (without fair warning). Good grief.

p.s. if anyone otherwise happens to know Ralph Fiennes well enough to make an introduction, drop me a line. After all, he was homeschooled for a bit. We could talk about homeschooling. Or something.

I am outing myself (again) as a NaNoWriMo entrant...

...so that my readers know I will make mention of this project now and again on this blog. NaNoWriMo starts at 12:01 a.m. today!

Kudos to Calletta and Staci for committing themselves to their involvement with NaNoWriMo...anybody else?

Today we are installing the new laser printer. Creating tests for A will be much easier now. : )

Tonight A is going to be Beowulf's Grendel...


All is quiet...

at BigLaw...and at 11:03 p.m., I am still here. I am seriously going to join the Cirque. The attorney I was working for [edit: this sentence was total potty] who did not go home all week finished his major deal. He treated his staff all week to free food, a la carte, which we ordered online from his laptop and was delivered to our office hot and savory-smelling within 30 minutes. Ah, Manhattan.

A has just rung me up to ask if he can delete the AOL software "entirely" from the computer. "Go ahead," I answered.

Bloody AOL and the pop-ups and trojans it brings. Still, we can't live without it. We plan to re-install sometime this weekend until the new equipment arrives. A has no idea he is getting new equipment. Happy Birthday, loveeeee.....

Tomorrow: Catherine, Latin test. More Geography. More details. I know, I am slipping with the edu-details. Perhaps I will compensate to my readers by providing this Aloo Gobi recipe:

Aloo Gobi a la "Bend it Like Beckham"


1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
Large bunch of fresh coriander, separated into stalks and leaves and roughly chopped
Small green chilies, chopped into small pieces (or one teaspoon chili powder)
1 large cauliflower, leaves removed and cut evenly into eighths
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes
Fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Fresh garlic, chopped
1 Teaspoon Cumin seeds
2 Teaspoons Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Garam Masala

Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan.

Add the chopped onion and one tablespoon of cumin seeds to the oil.

Stir together and cook until onions become creamy, golden, and translucent.

Add chopped coriander stalks, two teaspoons of turmeric, and one teaspoon of salt.

Add chopped chillis (according to taste)

Stir tomatoes into onion mixture.

Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly.

Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus a few tablespoons of water (ensuring that the mixture doesn't stick to the saucepan).

Ensure that the potatoes and cauliflower are coated with the curry sauce.

Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minutes (or until potatoes are cooked).

Add two teaspoons of Garam Masala and stir.

Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves on top of the curry.

Turn off the heat, cover, and leave for as long as possible before serving.


deadlines, deadlines...

I guess the downside of not homeschooling is not really knowing what your child's deadlines at school really are, all the time. Exhibit A: Conversations with me and A this week, after several days of his absence from school, causing us to really really work hard with "catch-up"...

A: I need poster paper by Wednesday.
Me: OK. Do you have to have the poster together by then?
A: Yes.

Tuesday night at 10 pm-
A: I need my presentation costume tomorrow.
Me: WHAT??????????????????????
[Maitresse frantically calls up Miguel, the firm-provided driver and now Maitresse's friend.]
Miguel: You've got to be kidding me.
[Miguel attempts to drive up to his grandmother's in the Upper Upper West Side, but doesn't make it, because he was already running late, and has to pick me up from work]
Me: OK. Serenity now. I am actually going to ignore A's costume deadline. He told me too late. Even by Manhattan standards.

A: I need poster paper by tomorrow. You forgot it.
Me: Oh, man.

A: I need a Halloween costume by tomorrow, Friday. There's a contest at school.
Me: Erm...Yeah, actually got that. Look in the bag downstairs. We'll hand-make the rest of it at home before tomorrow.
A: What about the poster paper?
Me: Oh, man.

When I create deadlines at home, I permit fluidity. If A is working diligently on a project and requires more time, and it is not an "excuse" sort of extension, I allow the extension. But deadlines are a skill that must be learned. Eventually, once A is in college/university, he will actively need the skill of "meeting the deadline."

How do you treat deadlines?

It turns out poster isn't really due until Wednesday of next week. Why the teacher needs the poster paper this week is beyond me. She has said that she wants it completed at home. Anyway, rushing to get poster paper...


Maitresse you are nuts (no I'm not). Yes you are. No, you are just jealous.

What is getting me all Smeagoled? I am doing this. I am committed to writing a 50,000 word novel in one month.

Who is with me?

(Get the kids and their Writing Strands skills involved!!!!!! Go here. )


This is what I am doing right now:

This is what I'd rather be doing right now:


and on the third day...

A has not been feeling well. Three days in a row with malaise and some fever (on his birthday, he came home early from school on a white horse called "Central Taxi"). Today I received a call from his Science teacher; it is official school policy that parents are allowed to request homework on the third day of a student's illness.

So I, Maitresse, have done some deciphering. I read: parents are required to kiss up to teachers but DEMAND homework on the third day of a student's illness lest said parent appear to be less competitive/valuable/upstanding than the rest of the competitive/valuable/upstanding families in your village.

Yes, village.

The friendly lady Science teacher informed me that she had collected the homework assignments from the other teachers for me and put them into a tidy packet, as well. Well, that was mighty generous. In the packet were included some websites where A could look up his homework assignments online and catch up.

Whatever happened to *resting* when one is sick? Good grief.

Catherine phoned. It's been a long hiatus. She was working a film festival for nearly a month. Catherine has a billion artistic jobs around the City that keep her busy during some inconvenient times; I do not complain. Once she has A under her supervision, she is spontaneous and generous in too many ways that I can mention.

And like me, Catherine is broke most of the time. So I think some womanly supportive quid pro quo is in order.

Why do I have Liv Tyler here? I don't know. Maybe a longing for what I might have been. My parents named me after Ingmar Bergman's other wife.


Overheard on the westside subway train...

Mother to young boy: Give me the flowers. Now. Give them to me!
[Boy is three feet away, and blocked by a person. He tosses the flower bundle to his mom.]
Mother to young boy: Now. You WILL NOT get to play your Playstation 2 for 3 HOURS because you threw them disrespectfully to me!
Boy: Let me try again! Let me try again. Please.
[Subway passengers smile, some emit "awww" sounds.]
Mother to young boy: No. No Playstation for you. For 3 hours.
[Boy covers his face and sobs.
Mother reads paper.]

If my aim were to teach the boy good manners, I would have allowed the second chance (but perhaps would have reduced the Playstation time, instead of eliminate it altogether).


In brief...

We are learning the map of the U.S. for the National Geographic Bee. We have been learning the "sides" first (the West Side: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California), the four corner states, now the East side states. We are learning one chunk of states per week.

I am taking absolutely forever in filling out A's CNED form. What is holding me up? The sections entitled "Renseignements pédagogiques" and "Renseignements complémentaires." Ech.

This Land is an American-made 'net animation. I rate it "PG" due to its alternative word for "behind." Edit: There's more offensive stuff in it (a quasi-South Park style animation. Definitely for adults only). It's one of the most even-handed funnies I've seen in a while.


Don't tell anyone (at least not here in New York)...

A and I were rooting for the underdogs!


: D

I couldn't help it. It's Fall. Fall is cool. And Halloween is coming.

Today is A's birthday. When I presented him with not one, but two gifts, he looked surprised and said, "I didn't expect two." He was happy. But his gracious expression on receiving the extra gift (and trust me, it was not too lavish), honestly, was the most endearing part of the day.

I guess it's a reciprocal gift. When A presented himself to me and the world for the first time, he arrived very clean, not bloody at all, but full of his baby "cream" which the midwife suggested I should massage into his skin. ¡Ese niňo nació muy limpio! Yes, he did. Clean. Uncomplicated.

After the birth, I vomited.

Care to share a little endearing detail - of your child(ren)'s birth(s)?


from NY Times Magazine..

Without a Doubt, an article on George W. Bush. If you do not already subscribe to the Times online, you may need to register - but it's free.

Oh, and BY THE WAY, feel free to comment.

The article makes me think of a certain Hans Christian Andersen story...


The case for Fantine

To love another person is to see the face of God. —from Les Miserables

I found some information on post-Revolutionary France in the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia on page 346.

Historical questions: How was King Louis-Philippe installed? Who were the Bourbon kings? How would a prince-president different from king? How would the republic be different?

We are jumping ahead in Kingfisher to ask these questions (by over 250 pages).

More questions: Would we love/accept a Fantine today? Would we accept a Jean Valjean today? What if we found out our local mayor - a good, and even a highly moral man - had been an escaped convict? What if his crime was stealing bread when he was hungry? What if his crime was stealing bread and he was sentenced to 20 years? What if during those 20 years terrible things happened, and he killed a man? Would we accept him as our mayor? Is there a line that we draw with who we allow to represent us?

What do we think of today's Judge Mathis, who had a rap sheet as a juvenile? Do we accept his role as a modern day judge of the court? Are there other public officials who had criminal blemishes that we choose to represent us anyway? (hint, hint, there is a big one).

Anyway, I loved the Liam Neeson movie. I also loved Neeson in Michael Collins.


and then later, after movie-watching and laser tag...

A: Mom, it was so chaotic. Most of the kids had no manners and they kept bugging me. Some threw food at me while I was watching the movie. Annoying. And the mom didn't even say anything.

Me: But did you have fun?

A: Oh, well, yeah.

And now, he sleeps...

Eye on the prize...

Interesting. A few hours ago, I dropped off A at a friend's house for a birthday party in Westchester. Prior to purchasing a gift for the birthday boy, A called up his friend and inquired about what his friend would like. The mother did not know. He likes movies. He likes music. A persisted, "But what, specifically, do you think he would like? What are his tastes?" The mother did not know. At the house, I figured out why she was not sure. The friend and his family live in a multi-million dollar home. Too many rooms, too much househelp, and to top it off, she appeared a bit ditzy. Oh well. Maybe the mom spends her spare time at the spa, which is why she can't devote too much time to her son's interests.

Learning with our children is not necessarily an academic endeavor...listening to music, jumping in the car to visit a town, a city, or a museum, discussing current events...these things help us learn about our children, and each other.

Anyway, I'm back at home, and my digs are much more modest than where A is hanging out right now. My eye is on the prize, however: A's bookshelves are full. The knowledge imparted to A, and his knowledge of himself, is more important to me than posh digs.

Thanks to L's inspiration at MySchola, we put "Les Miserables" featuring Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, and Uma Thurman at the top of our Netflix list, and watched it last night. A had lots of questions for me about life in France post-1789. So, we have a bit of follow-up learning to do on that one. Also on our movie list is the French film "Camille Claudel." If I recall correctly, Camille's brother runs up to her and blurts out, "Victor Hugo est mort!" and French countrymen dress in black in mourning Victor Hugo's death.

Tried to find out Christopher Reeve's memorial service information in Pound Ridge (about 20 min. from us); turns out it was for his family and friends. We're hoping to attend the public service for Reeve, the announcement scheduled next week.

I am preparing some information about paralysis, stem cell research and the issues surrounding stem cell research for A.

OK - and since I, La Mai, need to keep up my "not quite conformist" image, anyone care to comment on this bag? Color okay? More to choose from here. A bit of an investment for a piece of truck tarp. But I like it.


On croquet balls and flamingos...

Last night I had a fever. Alexander was studying cell biology for a test, and unfortunately, my fever worsened. I began babbling. Endoplasmic reticulum? Oh yes, A, just think of Hampton Court. And the ribosomes are croquet balls. And I don't know what we can call the flamingos...maybe... Um, no, mom, I'll think of a maze for the endoplasmic reticulum. But it's so much like Hampton Court! A looked at me with his trademark hah hah hah mom you are tripping expression. But A, the diplomat, instead said,

Mom, you need to stop thinking so much. Just rest. Let me bring you some Tylenol.

note to self: He's going to make a good husband one day.

And now, a day and lots of rest later, I believe I really fell down a rabbit hole with the cell biology.


Ramadan begins tonight...

Some information on the holiday from this site.

"During Ramadan, consider giving your Zakat online for the much needed project in North America to promote Islamic Information and making a lasting contribution towards da'wa, an invitation to discover peace."

Peace. I like that word.

On my mind are my friends, the Whirling Dervishes of Damascus, and Omar Faruk Tekbilek; some very talented musicians and performers with whom I've had the very special privilege to get to know in Miami.

Ramadan Mubarak...

Questions, questions...

Maitresse to A's Social Studies teacher: Does your school participate in the National Geographic Bee?
Mr. Teacher: Yes. We do every year. It's a very exciting time for the kids.
Maitresse: OK, great! And...erm...may Alexander turn in his typed assignment one day late, since we have had 2 trojan horses (not the kind Homer would have thought of, mind) and a virus attack our computer?
Mr. Teacher: Sure, no problem. And by the way, your kid is a great student. We talk a bit about A's homeschooling, and THEN HE SAYS, Kudos to you, Maitresse!

Wow. I mean, huh?

A public school teacher stroking my homeschooling ego? Never happened before. I mean, never.


ItineraryMarletteandGuisseppe got me thinking about this book. The Socratic method in law school is not quite like the classical Socratic method. Wouldn't it be great if we spent some time really exploring the issues that bug us or perplex us in honest Socratic fashion?

Even the platforms of the Presidential candidates would appear clearer (and if you are undecided at this point between the two very different candidates who have two drastically different agenda, and felt that you required more debate-viewing on Wednesday evening to decide, sorry voter you are).

A has been asking about the Geneva Convention accords. We have looked at Articles 2 and 3.

Questions we have contemplated: What is a High Contracting Party (country) to the GC accords? If you are not from a Contracting Party of the GC accords, should you be treated as said in the GC accords? What if you come from a country which signed the accords, but your country, as a nation, has not declared involvement in your conflict?

[some of the answers are in the GC accords]

Are the accords meant to be applied universally? Was that the motive of the Geneva Convention in creating them?

Are the accords, as they are written, like the "Golden Rule"? Or not?

Yes, we have been talking about terrorism, and the prison situation in Iraq. Deep stuff and our conversations have kept us up until the wee hours.

Spotted a couple of these on some hip-looking Manhattanites. They are Swiss and made out of Truck tarp. Eco-friendly, brightly-colored, and hip. Should I get one? Hmmmm...


This is a call...

To visit Darby's blog, because aside from the artist, Darby gets credit for this wonderful pic.

Other bloggers: please know that I am fully aware that you visit my site, that you post links to my site, and I am truly, truly grateful that you mention this blog. The reason I haven't created a proper links setup for the blogs that I frequent, is that the last time I tried to insert my blog links into my new template, I wiped out my blog (See, Sarah? I really don't have a brain). So Sarah at Poppins, you rock. L at MySchola, you rock. Concierge Services at ItineraryMarletteandGuisseppe, you guys rock. Mental M-Mv, you rock. Modern Mother, you rock. Donna at Rustling Leaves, you rock. Mthelikon, you rock. Writingandliving, you rock. Oro et Laboro, you rock. Lisa (what is your blog address?), you rock. Orion, you rock!.

And...I hope you have noticed, that in no order of importance, you all rock. Including the ones I was too daft to mention here. You rock. Because you found my blog, and we found each other, and we are all just great like that.

I think I am going get my hanky now...

p.s. - I am blogging from a computer that is not my own. Forgive the erratic posts for the time being.



today was a sunny day when I got on the train...

to Grand Central Station.

As the train approached the platform, the cover of today's New York Post appeared plastered to the inside front window of the train. It seems the conductor had been reading the paper, then left the front page headline, just so, for all to see. Thus, Maitresse got on a train called "Massacre." I later fell asleep on the Massacre train that took me to the City.

Will post something substantive once I've had some java in my system...

computer issues.

My computer has been crashing. Will post again when all is fixed.


Man, this is a big pic

Whenever I step out of BigLaw, I see one of these, usually being pedaled by a bunch of laughing, happy tourists, headed up or down Broadway, onto a side street where Chicago or the Producers is showing, and back again to its starting spot on Broadway. And sometimes driven by a big black man dressed in a Wonder Woman costume.

It is getting cold in New York. Today I saw calf-length boots everywhere, for the first time this season.

A's birthday is coming up. It will be a small affair.

Got to plan the Writing Strands and Singapore Math properly this week. Our afterschool schedule, now that we are easing into institutional school life, has been erratic.

I am not worried. Our full-time homeschool schedule had been erratic initially, as well. It takes time getting the right rhythm on those mommy-teacher pedals.

Got up this morning...

...at 7:33 a.m., 18 minutes before A was supposed to head out the door for school.

Emergency wake-up plan consisted of: Quick bathroom run. Muesli, milk. Yogurt. Orange juice. Bookbag. Did you pack your homework in it? Kisses! [door shuts]

This is where Maitresse thinks, Gee, if we were homeschooling full-time, the wake-up time wouldn't be an issue. This is like...using formula instead of breastmilk. Or something. [Maitresse breastfed A for three whole years, mind you]

Our Lady of IKEA did it again. A's room is finally pulling together. Cords and cables nicely gathered in an IKEA-designed plastic cord bunchy. IKEA TV and DVD wall stand, installed. Glamorös mobile, installed. 4 different kinds of lighting, installed. Birch wood shoe rack, check. Silver blinds on window, installed. Inexpensive and stylish chair, bed and table, on the way. Giant Robot (from comics store, not IKEA): in place. Next: frame comic books in home-made frames and place on walls. Manga room, here we come.

Did I mention that I got a few 25-cent mugs from IKEA, too?

Is anyone planning to register their child for the National Geographic Bee? Send me a comment if you are.


Beowulf: A reading.

A very, very late night reading...

"He told what he'd heard repeated in songs about Sigemund's exploits,
all of those many feats and marvels,
the struggles and wanderings of Waels's son,
things unknown to anyone except to Fitela, feuds and foul doings..."

Who is Fitela? Who? Who? Who? Why don't we know about Fitela? It's like Marmite and Vegemite, mom. Only it is like Nutella. Or Nutella for Vikings. Yeah, Viking Nutella. Hah, hah. With a sword coming out of the Nutella/Fitela like the Lady of the Lake...

"...that his sword plunged
right through those radiant scales
and drove into the wall. The dragon died of it.
His daring had given him total possession
of the treasure hoard, his to dispose of
however he liked. He loaded a boat:
Wael's son weighted her hold
with dazzling spoils. The hot dragon melted

Wael sounds Jewish. Or Arabic. Oh, and what about the leaf and lemon? It's a lulav and etrog. OK. But it's a leaf and a lemon. What's up with the leaf and lemon? We use those things for Sukkot. A leaf and lemon? Lulav and etrog, A.

"Meanwhile, the Danes kept racing their mounts
down sandy lanes. The light of day
broke and kept brightening. Bands of retainers
galloped in excitement to the gabled hall

[M does clop, clop, clop on the floor] We definitely need the "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" coconuts to make the correct sound.

"Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:"

Ec-theee-ow, the ek-zen-o who came from a toast family... [A narrates Beowulf as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"]

[Maitresse attempts to sound like Russell Crowe, for the sheer manliness of this passage]:

"We have gone through with a glorious endeavour
and been much favoured in this fight we dared
against the unknown. Nevertheless,
if you could have seen the monster himself
where he lay beaten, I would have been better pleased.
My plan was to POUNCE, PIN HIM DOWN


What's so funny?

You sound like Steve Irwin!


And then we ate chocolate...

Tonight, A and I opened a National Geographic political wall map (that had been folded, not on the wall) and played, "where is it?" and after we figured out the where, we asked, "what about it?" for about an hour. Coupled with his studies using the Kingfisher History of the World, I believe that he knows much, much more world geography than I did at age 11.

And that's as it should be.

Earlier today, A headed over to our Swedish neighbors' house and helped out his classmate there with homework. I think that A is secretly attempting to learn yet another language. I ask you, dear reader, to not tell anyone.

Also today, A asked me about the Magnetic North Pole. Is there a magnetic pole placed there? I tried to remember the stuff that my Geography, Physics and Biology professors taught me. Nothing in the grey matter to pull out a decent answer. Fortunately, I found this.

Our film and music appreciation for this week was comprised of viewing "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "This is Spinal Tap." Note: A has been exposed to a variety of somewhat more mature films, stimuli, and environments, with my supervision or guidance. I do a lot of prep before we sit down and watch a given movie. A watched the Monty Python flick three times.

We ate Swiss chocolate tonight - one of two remaining bars, out of the original 30 I brought home.

"Your amphora handles look like hydria handles." Yeah, ok. But the chocolate tastes so good.


Gimme. Shelter.

Yesterday I volunteered for photo day at A's day school. Can you say the most obnoxious, vain, inconsiderate, smartas&h middle-schoolers ever?

And it's supposed to be the best school district in NY. Ech.

I had envisioned assisting students who would be quietly waiting for their photo-taking opportunity, if anything, discussing the latest social happenings or their academic angst. No. There are clear definitions between the nerds, soshes, punks and dorks. The foreign kids who cluster don't seem to fit in anywhere. Combs thrown around. "Samantha, could you stand next to me, right here, so that nerd won't come near me?" She sticks her nose in the air. A small group of Japanese girls quietly chatter amongst themselves. Girl who just asked Samantha for the nerd protectiion flips her hair down by bending over, butt in air, as she primps that way, in really really tight jeans. She is wearing lip gloss and Lacoste shoes. "Yeah, she's hot." Boys engage in arm wrestling. "Wizeman?" I call out. "Yeah, I'm here. So?" When students learn they have to go to 5th Period after their photo-taking, they suddenly appear lost. "Um...5th Period? Ahh....but maybe I should just check on the class before that....my teacher in that class said she needed me to do something" and then they are gone. To waste as many minutes as possible because they can, because just came back from photo-taking, and who will notice, anyway?

Student status is expressed by the labels on their clothes. Like: Stanford. Nike. Yale. East Hampton. Cornell. (Canadian) Roots.

The pretentiousness really bugged me. The school is not in the City, and the kids with pink and blue hair are not doing pink and blue hair to necessarily express themselves or look chic. The pink and blue hair kids in A's school have issues. They are clearly Different. I sensed more "demarcation" from them.

Even the Canadian flag Roots girl looked annoyed.

This. is. socialization.

Maitresse action plan: Reassessment of the current school situation.

After a mini-interview asking (begging) A if he'd consider homeschooling full-time again, we agreed we're already "in it" in this and will stick it out a bit longer.
While everything feels so foreign right now, our classical home afterschooling is still functioning.

There's more. Someone plunged from the 48th floor carpeted stairwell to his death at BigLaw this week. As soon as the carpet was cleaned up a few short hours later, it was business as usual. How is Maitresse feeling? Odd. Out of sorts.

Gimme. Shelter.

AND.... I have been missing the familiar in other ways. Like Miami. "You from Miami, Maitresse? What the heck you doin' here?" If anything, I do want to get out of this "place" - geographically, if necessary. I am considering that Oxford acceptance more seriously. Otherwise, I expect a call from Morpheus via a conveniently-delivered FedEx package, telling me to just stand out on the ledge, that Trinity will be waiting on her bike downstairs, and it'll be all over.


Registration deadline extended

National Geographic has extended its deadline for the National Geographic Bee to December 10, 2004.

In the 2002 Global National Geographic Literacy Survey, in which respondants aged 18-24 years old from Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, and the U.S. were surveyed about world geography, the United States placed second lowest next to Mexico.

Our low placement as a nation on the Survey is NOT unusual, but we CAN change our students' statistics for future surveys.


I am watching the post-debate commentary on MSNBC...anyone care to share his/her thoughts on the speakers? Open forum.

(dare I say that I am too proud of my alma mater's involvement in tonight's debate!)