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Thursday, September 13, 2018

summer sewing recap 

My two bookend girls have such different body types that my older daughter’s hand-me-downs don’t fit my younger one. Also with the decade between the two girls, some of the clothes in storage have developed terrible, previously unnoticed stains. Most of what I so lovingly set aside we can no longer use. While Z and I mourn the loss of some of her favorite items, we have also thoroughly enjoyed spoiling her younger sister with some new things. And Little M squeals with delight about her new clothes, tickling us to no end.  This summer, I made her three dresses using my favorite, the Geranium pattern (and Expansion Pack).  I sewed them up in the space of a few evenings, I think. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

when in doubt, order yarn

I really have no business ordering more yarn or starting new projects, and yet, at the end of last week, in a moment of complete weakness, I did both.

I fell in love with the quirky and whimsical label of Retrosaria’s Mondim Sock, and so I ordered a skein.  It arrived yesterday, along with a pair of embroidery scissors.  I think I have finally found my go-to, workhorse sock yarn. I love that it’s not superwash, and it feels like it will wear well.  I can’t wait to see how it knits up, although at the rate I am knitting I may have years before I do.  (And the Tolt packaging!  Squeal! Sheep washi tape of adorableness! )

In a perfect storm of guilt at not having anything new for my littlest one in a while, annoyance at my large (by my standards) stash of unused yarn, and the realization that I had enough of her most often grabbed skein of yarn to knit her a Paulette, I cast on for size 4.  It’s sport weight, which is a little thicker than the pattern calls for.  Still, it seems to be working well, and I have gauge.  She keeps asking when her tunic will be done.  Because the word "tunic" is one she remembers, despite her tender years.

(My uncle knows my boys collect stamps, and a package containing all of his vintage stamps and albums arrived yesterday, too.  My boys kindly shared a few with me!)

Monday, September 3, 2018

yarn along: september 2018

Indian summer, pshaw!  That’s not until October.  Here it’s full-on summer with 90+ degree days, and there’s no end in sight.  The schools have been closed in our township because of excessive heat.  My husband has mowed the yard twice in the last week. It’s as though summer decided to give one last crazy effort to grow all the things and cook all the people.  Ugh.

It’s too hot to knit with a blanket in my lap, but I’ve still made a little progress. I try to sit in our one air-conditioned room and knit for an hour each evening while catching up on the BBC’s Victoria.  I am really enjoying it, despite some historical liberties.  It’s so rare to see dramas about faithful and virtuous couples!  While supervising schoolwork, I reach for my sweater, which has lots of stockinette.  Knitting while reading aloud has added an inch or so to the bottom in the last week.  I started with 3 skeins of Malabrigo sock, and I’m skeptical I can get the rest of the body and two full-length sleeves out of the remaining yarn.  It’ll be a nail biter, for sure.

I have blown through this book.  It’s an easy read, but such inspiring stories.  I’ve really enjoyed it.  I’ve still got Little Dorrit on my shelf, slowly chipping away at it, and hoping that when all of the kids’ activities are going full-swing I’ll have a chance to read for pleasure a bit more.

joining Ginny...

around the house


Our first day back at our new homeschool routine saw eager students and excitement about the novelty of everything.  Already on Tuesday, though, there were grumbles and heels dug in deep over lessons.  By Friday, everyone was in tears at least once during the day, and I wanted to shout "Uncle!"  How is it that Friday’s failures so completely overshadowed Monday’s successes? It would be so, so easy to blame the sticky hot weather and the lack of central AC, or our exhaustion from a late night.  Those definitely played a part in our terrible moods, but I think weather, fatigue, and grouchiness are part of a larger picture, one that’s not going away anytime soon.  We’re learning some valuable lessons in patience, diligence, self-control, and perseverance. Or maybe those lessons are just meant for me!  :)  We’re all participants in the Grand Work of salvation together, and my small part, right here and right now, is to cultivate an attitude of joy and gratitude even on the days when I want to growl.  It’s easy to write, but infinitely harder to put into practice.

Anyway, this week I toured the house, taking little snapshots of our life NOW.  Tools in a 12 year-old’s bed.  A dog needing major surgery. T took that one of me knitting, turning the camera askew and chortling at his cleverness.  My bookmark collection. Next year’s planner.*  Bookstacks. Hand-me-down Legos.  (The toys the littles love these days all have umpteen pieces, which is slowly causing my insanity, as I find yet another Lego stud in my knitting or, worse, in my bed.  I keep such toys around only because the littles play so deeply with them!) Yarn. A new worktable, built by my husband and sons. Violets, blooming for the third time! Books being read. A little house, complete with one exhausted mama slumped over the homeschooling table. New school shoes and clothes for a three-year-old who squeals appreciatively over such things.  Water samples for a biology unit.

* I pre-order my planners because they tend to sell out.  I am finishing my second year of using the Midori MD Monthly/Weekly A5 planner.  I LOVE them and wish I had found this analog system much sooner.  I use it as my planner, journal, commonplace book, and photo album. Pictured are my first year(2017), my second year (2018, in its leather cover) and 2019. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

ready, set, go

I wrote a copious post last week, musing about planning for my oldest, and waxing sentimental about how my youngest child is going to be my only child to attend an official three-mornings-a-week preschool.  Somehow it was lost into the ether, so I’m having another crack at it.

Because I find other mothers’ posts about their homeschool planning inspirational, and because I’m always curious about how other homeschools keep on humming, I’m posting a bit about our coming year.  I am now at the excited to begin stage, which is a relief after feeling so burned out and nervous about how this year would come together.  I still have some fears, but my excessive anxiety has abated a little.  Last year was incredibly challenging, between the short notice move and the new expectations from a new state.  I had some health issues in the spring, and Little M weaned completely just after her third birthday.  Isn’t it easy to forget, when we’re in the thick of a full life, that the little things add up and can lead to depression?  I was definitely under a cloud for much of this past spring and some of the summer. All that to say, the worst is (making my cross as I type this) over?  Let’s hope so!  And if not, I will pray for patience and perseverance, and to be equipped with what I need to pass through another trial.

So!  On to the school plans and related miscellany.  I attended the CMEC retreat in Philadelphia this summer.  I think I wrote about it in a previous post.  It was game-changing, but only because of all of my experiences in the past year!  I was completely receptive to the ideas discussed. Finally, after several years of thinking I understood some of the Charlotte Mason philosophy, do I have an actual understanding.  Celeste Cruz’s talks and blog have been especially formative, and helpful with the nitty-gritty, sleeves-rolled-up work of managing our home and school. (Some of my forms are Celeste’s with slight adaptations to our family’s needs). I am incredibly disorganized, really!  I have all of these plans and checklists and schedules to keep me on task and to prompt my terrible memory.   But they’re also in place so that my kids don’t have to ask me so many questions all throughout the day!

The first form up there is our chore chart, which has most of our daily tasks disbursed to my three older children. My two younger children are assigned as helpers, the blue and lavender chores.  Everyone has a day to be the "host," which has the most exciting perk--getting the mail!  Not everything gets done, but we’re getting better at establishing a habit of doing certain chores at certain times.  I’m probably going to have to change things a little once school picks up, but it will work for now.  

I loved the idea of a weekly planning session wherein I read the week’s assignments. For the past several years I have spent my planning time loading assignments into an assignment book, and trying to wing it with narration and discussion!  My pre-reading all took place during the summer, so by the time my students got to what I read, I had no memory of it!  I write my notes on the back of the sheet, where I have a little checklist of all the books that should be there. I’m hoping to have a meeting with the older three kids each week to talk about their work and to share notebooks, but we’ll see if we can make time.  It might be that I meet with each child alone, when we can squeeze in a moment.  The next form is going to be my "did we get to all of this?" checklist.  

This year will be the first that we’ve used a formal timetable.  I’m hoping it will bring some needed structure to the day.  Z has worked out her own, based on her online class schedule, which is why her column is empty.  Her two classes (a math and a writing class) start next week! She’s also following the Ambleside Online Year 9 Lite curriculum his year, less the Literature assignments, and with a few substitutions. The two older boys are attending a once weekly, all-day Charlotte Mason school, which meshes with our at-home curricula. Every other Tuesday afternoon the whole family meets there for art and music and a few other things.  

Each child (even Little M, by request!) has their own weekly checklist.  I’m most skeptical of how this will work, but hoping and praying that it will help everyone set little goals and develop habits.  I should probably have one for myself, not to help with assignments, but to help me remember how to encourage each child and remember what habit I’m trying to impart...

Finally, the last form is the thing that will keep everything humming: a logbook.  Z’s is pictured because the Ambelside Online curriculum is available for public use.  There are expectations for every book, including time spent, etc.  She logs her assignments as she completes them, which is a huge load lifted from my shoulders.  I’ll log the boys’ work on another logbook that has all their books and expectations, etc. combined.  This is a new concept to me, and I hope it will free my planning time up for reading and really forming a relationship with the material.

Whew!  I think I wrote this post more for myself than anyone else. My apologies if it was a snoozer! It’s good to see it all fleshed out.

I wouldn’t be much of a Charlotte Mason enthusiast if I finished the post without a quotation from one of her volumes.  I’ve been devouring Volume 3, School Education recently, which is where I read this.

"We begin to see the light, both as the lines upon which we should form habits and as to that much-vexed question--the subjects of instruction proper for children.  We are no longer divided between the claims of the classical and the modern side. We no longer ask ourselves whether it is better to learn a few subjects ‘thoroughly,’ so we say, or to get a ‘smattering’ of many.  These questions are beside the mark. In considering the relationships which we may initiate for a child, I shall begin with what we shall probably be inclined to call the lowest rung of the ladder. We may believe that a person--I have a ‘baby person’ in view--is put into this most delightful world for the express purpose of forming ties of intimacy, joy, association, and knowledge with the living and moving things that are therein, with what St. Francis would have called his brother the mountain and his brother the ant and his brothers in the starry heavens. Fulness of living, joy in life, far more than we know, upon the establishment of these relations." iii, 75.