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Monday, October 29, 2012

A reason not to homeschool


Sorry, kids.  Unless we lose power, we'll have lessons as scheduled.


Friday, October 26, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

One of the things that I take for granted is the proximity of our house to hiking trails: there are miles and miles just a two minute walk from our house, and there are miles and miles just a two minute drive away.  In any direction.   



We visit at least one trail for a hike each week, sometimes one every day, when the weather is nice.


 It's amazing to me how we can just disappear into the woods, for hours at a time.  



T and I took our first walk just a few days after we returned from Athens. 
I remember sighing to myself and saying, "This.  This is what I missed the most."




Sometimes our hikers need a little pep talk, but usually we have willing participants.





I love watching T follow in M's strides. 




 M is usually yards ahead of the rest of us, scoping out the best sticks with which to hit things.




Or spotting a new bird in the branches above.



Or just being still.






(T kept asking, "Me in a picture?"  How can I refuse that face?)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Channeling Bright

I don't really know what came over me when I picked the fabric for these trousers.  I think I had been reading this blog(which I love), and admiring the author's bright color choices.  Whatever the reason, when I saw the froggy flannel at my local Joann store, I knew that it was meant for baby trousers.


Froggy-side front:

Red-side back:




These pants reversible, and they're of a cozy and soft flannel, which will be perfect for a winter babe.  I chose to make the 3-6 month size, but they look baggy enough for my monster-sized children to wear them past 15 pounds (or four weeks of age, whichever comes first).  I loved adding a little side tag (in picture above) with the size marked on it.  These pants will definitely be handed down to our next child.  (You know there's going to be one, right?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Homemade

I was truly excited to be reunited with my sewing machine after a year's absence, and as soon as I got home I got to work sewing.  T was in desperate need of a pair of shorts--his hand-me-downs from M were in tatters a little worse for wear, and many got left in Greece.  I decided to try out one of the pattern books that I received from my mom last Christmas, Happy Homemade, vol. 2.  

Despite the fact that the directions were in French, I muddled through and produced this pair of khaki shorts:



I made the smallest size, but they were a little long on T, which means that they'll fit next year (and possibly the next, too!).  I loved constructing the faux fly, the pockets and the seams.  The whole process only took me a few afternoons, while the kids were visiting their grandparents and T was napping.  The pattern diagrams were fabulous, which definitely helped bridge the French/English gap.  My real excitement about the whole process was that I "reclaimed" the fabric from a pair of XXL pants that I purchased at a thrift store.  For $1.50.

He's already gotten a lot of wear out of them, first this summer and then more recently.  Today was unseasonably warm, and he could be seen running around in his mama-made khaki clamdiggers.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gender Unspecific

My mother-in-law saw the blue sweater in my last post and wanted to confirm that I wasn't hinting anything.  I wasn't, as the following gender-neutral sweater will show, but my money is still on BOY.  I did the math the other day: of the 21 babies born (or soon to be born) to friends in 2012, only 7 have been boys.  Odds point to us having a boy, no?

Yes, we do seem to be in the midst of another baby boom, as always happens when I am pregnant.  The next delivery is a scheduled one.  Remember my friend that visited from Tunisia?  She's delivering tomorrow (prayers for her, please), and she doesn't yet know the gender of her baby.  Exciting! Somehow I'm convinced that we're having whatever gender she doesn't.  See these wacky mind games I play to drive myself crazy keep my brain occupied in the last few weeks?



This sweater is a version of the Puerperium Cardigan, which is a free(!) and easy(!!) pattern.  It's a metaphor for my pregnant brain, confused and all jumbled up, but somehow still functioning.  I used four different weights of yarn, as I had so little of each color.  I didn't swatch.  I don't even know how or when I finished it.  The sweater still needs a way to be fastened; I was leaning toward snaps, but am very indecisive at present.  The sleeves are short (again, the shortage of yarn), but I keep telling myself that keeping this baby's core warm is the important thing.  Right?  I am totally inexperienced when it comes to winter babies. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A February Sweater for a December Baby

I have committed to a year without new yarn.

There is a huge stash of yarn sitting on our shelves, just waiting to be made up into something spectacular. (Most of it is teeny-tiny, skinny yarn, so I'm expecting it to take forever.)  So far I've done a great job restraining my yarn purchases--I haven't made any in the 2012 calendar year.  It wasn't that difficult when we were in Athens, but beautiful yarn is far more available in the US.

Despite the large amount of yardage on the shelves, I don't have enough of any one weight (except teeny-tiny skinny) or any harmonious colors to make up sweaters for our three children.  I basically have small amounts of everything, enough for lots of baby sweaters.


With that in mind, I recently used two skeins of yarn that I bought when Z was a wee babe for this:





It's a modified February Baby Sweater, and it's for our fourth baby.  That's right.  Number four.  Who will hopefully be arriving sometime in December. (Which sort of explains my blogging absences this spring and more recently.)

I'm aware that this sweater is blue.  We won't find out the gender until this baby makes an appearance, which always drives me crazy (especially during the last few weeks of pregnancy).  I'm hoping that the blue is sweet enough to work with a girl or boy.  It needs a few buttons, but those will be sewn on in the hospital.

p.s.  Just for the record, my money is on boy.

p.p.s. Also for the record, I am 1 for 3.  M is the only child whose gender I correctly predicted.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Shift

Whew!  We have been busy and popping in and out of town since my last post.  The kids and I were visiting my family for almost the entirety of the month of August, and apparently I didn't manage to take a single picture with our camera.

When I transfered the pictures from the camera to the computer this evening, I stumbled upon this gem.  I don't even remember taking it.


Huh.

But really my brain has been foggy for the last few weeks, and now that the early school haze is beginning to clear, I can finally string two words together.  We have moved successfully from our out-of-the-house Greek education to our stay-at-home American one, and despite a few hiccups everything is going well.

I have been hinting at our "new" homeschooling system, and I am pleased to report that it has passed the test of keeping us on task for the last five weeks.  Therefore, I'm ready to share.


Z and M each have a cubby that contains a binder and their personal workbooks, in addition to a drawer, which holds a cassetina and any non-book items needed for the week (such as their small dry-erase boards and math manipulatives).  Z's color this year is red, and M's is green.  T has the little green drawer on the bottom, which I fill with little games and his markers.  We've never had all of the student items contained so neatly before.  (I toyed with the idea of workboxes, but it just sounded like a lot of, well, work.)

What keeps us going every day (and helps me stay organized for each child) is the Binder, which contains one week's worth of assignments.  I read about it during my scads of homeschool-free time in Athens here, and while we don't use Sonlight, I instantly liked the idea of having everything laid out for each child, one week at a time.  At the end of the week we store the work in a portfolio.  I don't mind spending an evening coordinating the week's assignments for Z and M.  It's usually on Friday night, while I am thinking about it.  And also because we don't use Sonlight, I have had to come up with my own personalized sheet for each child.  I thought about typing it each week, and then decided that was a little too annoying, so excuse my handwritten notes.

Here's Z's.  Hers is a little beefier than M's.
(Also, please excuse the picture quality.  My free time this year comes only in the evening, and natural light has been hard to come by.)




SIDE 1





SIDE 2

All of the abbreviations stand for the different textbooks we have been using, and the shaded boxes indicate work that can be completed by Z independently.  I am very excited that we are moving toward so much independent work!  

Here's what her assignment sheet looked like today after we finished all of our work.


It's immensely satisfying to cross off a task when we complete it!  And then, on Friday evening, this becomes the first page of the week's worth of assignments in our portfolios. These will probably only be stored for a semester.  Our county requires that homeschool programs are evaluated by a county official at the end of each semester, so we'll hang on to all of the paper until after we pass.

I hope that this isn't too much information that no one wants to know.  I love taking "peeks" into how different homeschooling families juggle all of their work, so perhaps this post will provide that peek for another curious Mama (or Papa).

And, yes, I am spending more time preparing lessons this year, but our work feels so much more organized...totally worth the extra time.