Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Company of Women

One of the supreme pleasures in my life is sharing my passions, interests, and talents with other like-minded people. I love meeting new people and learning more about them in a framework of a class. Yesterday, I was privileged  to have the opportunity to meet and teach some lovely people how to knit my pattern, Hester's Hope.

The class was intimate, with just three students, but what fun we had! We met at Knitwitz, a Jacksonville knitting establishment that stocks lovely, yummy yarns. It was a day spent with great company, surrounded by gorgeous yarns. In other words, knitting bliss!

Another nugget I was able to share was my appreciation for the iPad/iPhone app, KnitCompanion. This powerful tool has made me a better and faster knitter. I spent about ten minutes the night before class getting the project formatted, and they were able to see just how easy reading those pesky charts becomes when it's in KnitCompanion.

Of course these ladies rocked Hester, and I'm so looking forward to heading back next week for the next installment of the class, the lace bind-off. For those of you who knit, you may wonder if you can complete this full-sized shawl in only a week, and the answer is absolutely. As it's worked in bulky yarn on size 13 needles, it truly flies, and before you know it, a last minute Christmas gift is completed!

What a great bunch of gals!
Here's a few snaps of the wonderful progress they made:
This beauty is being knit in Cascade 128 Superwash.

And this colorful Hester is being done in Marble Chunky.

This pretty periwinkle number is also being done in Cascade 128.
Thanks, ladies, for coming in and spending the afternoon with me! I had a blast! I can hardly wait to see all those finished shawls!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Best Laid Plans...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope that everyone is spending this special day tucked up with family and friends, enjoying all the wonderful trappings we've come to associate with Thanksgiving. I am doing the same, except I almost wasn't.

This past weekend was a soccer tournament for my daughter's U12 team. My husband and I arranged to get separate rooms, as I was going to host not only my daughter, but one of her friends in the hotel room. All started normally enough, with me not sleeping in the room Friday night.

As I stated before, this is not normally unusual for me. I tend to not be a great sleeper anyway, and especially not when traveling. Here I was, tossing and turning the night away, unable to get comfortable for some reason. When 6:00 finally rolled around, I scooted out of bed, crawled into the shower, and began my day.

The girls spent all day Saturday out on the soccer field giving it their best shot. Throughout that day, my discomfort continued to increase. Upon conclusion of the team meal at Roadhouse, I took the exhausted but excited girls back to the hotel room, praying sleep (and relief) would come. It didn't.
A nearly completed scarf kept my mind off the pain as much as possible.


By 2:00 my pain was so severe, I became convinced I was experiencing appendicitis. I tiptoed across the hallway to my husband's door and quietly knocked on it. When he answered, I explained my fears. With his help, we found a hospital for me to travel to, and I packed up a backpack, hauled myself into our van, and began the 18 mile trip across town to the hospital. AT 2:00 IN THE MORNING.
Sorry, I was a little high on all the pain meds, so my photo isn't the best. I wonder what I was thinking when I took it!



Upon arrival, I was quickly greeted and gowned. Sarah, the P.A. on duty concurred, and off to CT we rode. By this time, I was in extreme agony. Except it wasn't appendicitis. CT instead revealed that there was a mass of some sort near my right ovary. To confirm, I was whisked into an ultrasound room, where it was indeed confirmed that I had a seven centimeter cyst attached to my right ovary.


The radiologist searched carefully and was unable to find any signs of torsion, so they decided to release me to my newly arrived husband, medicated with two rounds of morphine, one of Toredol, one of Fentonil, and one more of some other pain medicine. It would have been lovely if at least one of those meds would have helped.

It was a rough two and a half hours home. My stomach had completely rebelled. I gave up. Brett somehow got me to bed, and I slept for the next 12 hours or so. By the time I woke up, I decided I wasn't going to let a little (or large) cyst stop me, so I proceeded to get ready to head out for Sarasota, which is where we were planning on spending the holiday. We were within twenty minutes of leaving when my personal doctor called me and asked me to come in.

I did. I repeated the same ultra sound, and he saw the same thing, except he wasn't convinced the cyst wasn't torcing. And then he said, "I'd like to operate on you this afternoon." I was speechless. Instead of heading out for a fun, family-filled weekend, we instead rushed home to gather what necessities we could and returned to the hospital. Surgery was scheduled for 4:00, and at 4:30, only 30 minutes late, I was in the O.R.
Waiting for relief.
I understand the surgery was routine. The doctor's suspicions were confirmed, as the cyst had torced at least seven times (not a good thing) but it was out of my body, and that was the main thing. Our family was able to head out to Sarasota only a day later. While I've definitely not been feeling well, I'm glad the surgery is behind me rather than ahead of me. I've enjoyed spending time visiting with family and doing one of my other favorite activities:
Believe it or not, it's a shawl.

So, this Thanksgiving is different than any other I've experienced. I am truly thankful for the miracles of modern medicine. I'm praying for healing, and I'm resting in His Grace. I look forward to feeling better and am hoping this never happens again. I pray that your Thanksgivings are filled to the full with blessing upon blessing!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Feral

I never realized when I moved to Florida that I would become the crazy cat lady. That seems to be the case, however. When our family came down to Florida five years ago, we came with one cat. Jasper, our sweet kitty, was acquired unbeknownst to me by my husband on a blustery October evening while he took the children out to trick-or-treat. He saw her under a vehicle and she tugged at his heart strings. Cold, frightened, and hungry, this tiny grey cat was too great a temptation to resist so he scooped her up and took her home with us. We had just lost our previous cat and were still in mourning. While he was thus engaged, I was serving in our church bookstore, blissfully unaware of the future litter box demands to be once again placed on me.
Sweet Jasper, begging to be let out.
I quickly fell in love with this little cat, and she has been my friend and companion ever since.

Not long after we moved to Florida, though, we found another cat. This one, while very sweet, was quite wild. We watched her and observed that she was pregnant. Because of that, we called her Mama. Mama gave birth to her kittens somewhere in the community, and, as things would have it, she quickly became pregnant again. I'm not the most brilliant at math, but it didn't take me long to realize that a pregnant feral cat can quickly become several pregnant feral cats, so we decided to trap her as soon as we could and rescue her kittens for adoption. As luck would have it, she and her daughter from her earlier batch (we named her Fluff) both gave birth together. Mama had her kittens under my office window. She had ten orange tabbies!

Thus began the marmalade round-up. Between our neighbor and us (with our neighbor the most involved), we managed to capture all 15 kittens. Yes, 15, as her daughter, Fluff managed to have babies at the same time. Given that they were all orange marmalades, I suspect some incestuous activity, but nonetheless, all the kittens were duly captured. Mama and Fluff were successfully spayed, and all the kittens were adopted out.
Ginger, Mama's or Fluff's baby is now our baby.
One of the kittens, which we named Ginger, came home with us. Our house officially grew by one more indoor kitten, and two more (still wild but non-breeding) feral cats, namely Mama and Fluff.

Which brings me to today. Last week, I managed to capture a robust male our daughter affectionately christened "Tippy." I scratched the active plans to instead drive the new guy north to First Coast No More Homeless Pets, Two days later we came home with him. No longer locked in his love of the ladies, he quickly settled in for home life.
Tippy
My original plans were to do what we did with Mama and Fluff: catch, neuter, and release; however, this guy doesn't seem to want to leave. He's as gentle as they come and happy to be out of the crazy wild cat life. But now we have THREE cats, plus the two "wild" ones! I think somewhere along the line I crossed over to crazy, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how I got there. I'm going to blame my family.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Shining Moments

This past weekend, I experienced something very special. Very early on Sunday morning, I sneaked out of the house with my oldest son and drove to the seaside. Ostensibly, we were there to view the annular solar eclipse at sunrise. I had ulterior motives, however. The eclipse was simply the mechanism to allow me special, unhurried time with my son.

Awake!
He's growing up way faster than I ever imagined when I first took him home from the hospital, lo these sixteen years ago. All my children are. And I'm finding that in this growth and development process, I'm falling in love with the not-quite-yet-adult person he is. I like to listen to his insights. I enjoy hearing him laugh. And his hugs are heavenly!

So with my thinly veiled educational opportunity before us, we bravely (or unwisely) left the house shortly after six clad in untidy sweat pants and t-shirts and headed east where we were forced to stop about 20 minutes later lest we tumble into the Atlantic. And wearing our super cool solar viewing glasses...
Looking good, mama!
we were treated to this:

You can just barely see the "bite" out of the sun. This was towards the end.
This is what I imagine it means to have life, abundantly. This is the good stuff. It's not the possessions, the stuff, the minutiae of life. It's people. It's the opportunity to love and live and serve. And it's the delight of a mother over her son. Jesus said it best. "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38, NIV). I am blessed beyond measure. The path less traveled has been the one to challenge and bless me over and above what I ever imagined.

And for thirty chilly minutes spent on a nearly deserted beach, I reveled in it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dressing Up

My two youngest kids had a great time dressing up in costumes last night to do the annual candy collection thing. I had two doctors in the house: the 11th Doctor from Dr. Who, and a medieval plague doctor. My daughter grumpily informed me at the completion of her rounds that no one knew what a medieval plague doctor was, so I congratulated her on informing them. 
Does anyone need a doctor?

No outfit is complete without a sonic screwdriver!


While my youngest were out doing their thing, my oldest was keeping watch with his friend over the kiddos visiting the house. They had a great time checking out all the little princesses, sumo wrestlers, and warriors (and I suspect helping themselves to the stash of candy) while I took their offering of pumpkin seeds from their carving efforts and roasted them into spicy treats. 
Who's eating candy? We're not eating any candy! No ma'am!

Out of these...

came these!
I hope everyone had a safe evening. Ours was very peaceful, complete with happy kids. Now that November is here, I'm looking forward to even more happy memories and cooler (hopefully) weather!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

OTN

My knitting life has been a bit of a mystery lately, in that I've been doing design work. Since I design (and knit, frankly) at the pace of molasses in winter, that adds up to a whole lot of silence! But I'm happy to say that my one stage of my design is done, and I am moving into completing some work that I can share. And that makes me very happy!

One of the first patterns I can share with you is one that I actually started while on vacation in Scotland. I picked up a special yarn at Kathy's Knits in Edinburgh spun by Blacker Yarns. This particular yarn is sourced from the island of St. Kilda's from the feral sheep that live on it. Called St. Kilda Laceweight, this fine lace is rugged. I learned from the owner of the store that the sheep are manually rounded up, sheared, and then the fleece is hand-picked to remove the guard hairs and then spun. It comes in two colors, cream and brown (both undyed). By the time I reached the store, the only color left was cream, so I picked up one precious skein of it. Because I was limited to 440 yards, the question then became what pattern to choose for it. I elected to knit a free pattern that I found on Ravelry, called Jardin d'hiver. The name means "winter garden," and I think this will knit up nicely in it.
Jardin d'hiver, unblocked, and still OTN


Another project I recently completed was a true delight to knit. One of my favorite companies, Tom Bihn, is a company located in Seattle, WA. Known for their excellent travel bags, they also construct knitting bags out of high quality materials such as ballistic nylon, Cordura nylong, and Dyneema nylon. I own several of their bags, and love Tom's responsiveness to his customer base and the way he treats his staff. Someone on Ravelry suggested people stitch up a few scarves or cowls for the staff out west, so I decided to contribute. I dove deep into my stash and came up with some Cascade Magnum from my days in the frozen north called Dayton, OH. I only had a small amount left, but I had three different colors, silver, black, and red, so I decided to combine them together to knit the Clydesdale Cowl. Knit on size 15 needles, this project fairly flew off the needles, and I loved the result.
Me, wearing the completed cowl.
I hope it gets cold enough to wear in Seattle, as it is an extremely rare day in Jacksonville where anything that thick would ever be warranted! I have gone ahead and modified the pattern somewhat to begin some more in lighter-weight yarns to give as Christmas gifts to some special people in my life.
Hmm. I wonder who will get this? Oh, and is that a Tom Bihn Swift I spy?!?
So that's where I'm at currently. Given all that's happening in my life, that's quite enough. Homeschooling is still my main thing, and it's where I daily labor in the love of learning. But it's good to have an outlet from the daily trials and tribulations. I look forward to sharing more photos as I continue to work through the fall.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Violets

Deep violets, you liken to The kindest eyes that look on you, Without a thought disloyal.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning Quotes , Source: A Flower in a Letter


They're blooming! And more blooms are on the way! I smile each time I see them.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Room of One's Own

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. ” 
― Virginia WoolfA Room of One's Own

Virginia Woolf and I were good friends in college. Unfortunately, it's been years since I've seriously sat down to re-read her essays on the status of women and the relationship they play to writing and the professional sphere, but I remember how vibrant I recalled her frustration, more specifically her disgust, that women were not at that time (turn of the century) accorded the same accommodations as men and were thus prevented circumstantially from rising in society. Thankfully, those margins have vastly narrowed, and women are excelling in many ways they were unable to in the recent past. But as a nod to my favorite essay, I titled this post, "A Room of One's Own," to reflect on the need for each of us to have a space in which to exist, to ponder, and to create.

In many ways, living in Florida has been ideal. The weather, if sometimes intolerably hot, encourages the growth of the most beautiful flowers and plants. The animals, even if many of them can kill or maim you, are robust and unique. And the copious attractions, even if they congest the roads with out-of-state license plates, are worthy of the world's notice. It's the little things that make things a little more challenging for me, and this is one of the hardest- that I don't have a private corner of the house to escape the noise of a bustling family.

I know that I am blessed. Abundantly blessed, in fact. But this little introvert sometimes needs to recharge herself, and our home, although beautiful, isn't conducive to that. But all of that has changed recently. I have found a way to capture a little piece of peace in our robust home, and I didn't spend a cent!


Complete with cat, knitting, and one of my favorite paintings!
This is a little corner in my office. The office is one of the only places in our home that has doors that can shut and offer a tiny reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the house, but it has glass doors, and as a consequence I always feel a bit like I'm a goldfish in an aquarium, with people looking at me curiously from the other side of the glass.

In order to pull this lovely look together, I went around the house and gathered up an old tri-fold room divider, a small nesting table, my old baby glider, and my Mini-Ott Light clamp-on lamp. My divider is wonderful in that I'm able to easily hang my latest magazine on one of the black iron cross bars, using it as a bookmark. Not only that, but it came with a little attached bin that will be helpful for holding tools, knitting projects, books, and pens or pencils. 

I can sit in the glider and look directly out onto the street, or I can close the blinds and enjoy privacy. The screen doesn't completely obscure me from view, but, like an ostrich who hides her head in the sand, I'm happy hiding most of me for my little recharge sessions.
Here I am with the cat on my lap, a cup of tea next to me, and The Dyslexic Advantage in my hands. I'm a happy gal!
I don't get much time in this little space, but what little I get is well used. So far, I have knit, studied, read for pleasure, graded, and rested. My challenge now lies in convincing my cat that she doesn't like this space and encouraging my daughter to find another spot to do her math!

On another front, I'm very excited in that I am about to actually have African violets bloom after I nearly killed them both!
Here's my dark purple one.

And here's my light violet one!
I'm not much of a green thumb since I became a mother. I think that raising three beautiful children has kept me busy enough, and husband, children, and cats rank higher than botanical life forms. Still, I have always enjoyed African violets, and whenever Wal-Mart has those pretty pots sitting out, I can't seem to hold myself back. The plant blooms for awhile, and then once those blooms are gone, I slowly proceed to kill it. Well not this time, baby! I've been working hard trying to nourish these fellows, and the fruits of my labors are starting to pay off. It's been more than a year in the making, but flowers are well on their way, and I can't wait to see them bloom!

Which reminds me, there's still a fair bit blooming outside! Today I was pulling a few weeds in the front garden and kept hearing a persistent buzzing sound. I finally located the little bee, hard at work within a blossom of one of my rose bushes.
Working hard well into the fall!
Yep, I see a weed in that photo too. I'll rush out to pull it after I post this update. He was quite busy, and was positively vibrating with the excitement of fulfilling its mission!

I hope you can find a spot to hide yourself from the world, even if it's in a tiny corner like I have claimed. You'll be glad you found it!




Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Settling Dust

Now that our little school has been in session for a little over a month, I thought I'd peep in to reflect on what sort of routine we have settled into. Despite my best wishes, I don't believe any year has kicked off without a hitch or adjustment. This year is no different, although I do feel more settled and peaceful about our curricular pursuits. If you are keeping score, you may enjoy doing a compare/contrast to what I initially planned on doing. I was amazed at the differences! You can find my initial blog post on the upcoming year here. Here's where we stand now that the dust has settled...

For my 10th grader:
This year my son will be continuing to expand his horizons academically. I have made a lot of changes in order to anticipate upcoming SAT/ACT and SAT Subject testing...

For my 8th grader:
My middle guy is seeing less change overall, but there are still some changes that we are exploring. Here's what he's working on currently.
For my 6th grader:
My youngest is continuing to advance her skills in reading. A strong dyslexic, she has struggled to find a place to pin her reading skills, but they are coming together nicely with specialized curriculum, namely...
  • Barton Reading and Spelling System: a God-send for the dyslexic student and her instructor/parents!
  • Math U See Zeta
  • Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Astronomy:  I think this one is my personal favorite. I love the projects that are listed within its pages!
  • IEW's Fix-It: This is a big win for my daughter this year. She's learning grammar and editing, all while rewriting a classic novel. The errors are embedded in the text, and she fixes them, looks up vocabulary words, and rewrites the corrected passage. It's brilliant, and really works to her strengths!
  • A Reason for Handwriting, Cursive
  • IEW's Ancient History Writing Lessons.  It fits in nicely with her history, which is...
  • Easy Peasy Ancient History, Ancient Art, and Ancient Music, just like her brother's.
  • Sign Language for Everyone. Because learning a foreign language is nigh impossible when you're dyslexic!
  • Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola as accompaniment to Fix-It.
  • Added to all that, she is involved in a local soccer league for recreation.
That's it in a nutshell. Things seem to be coming together nicely. This year I'm going to pray for smooth sailing and that we would all enjoy each other. The year will fly by, and there are fewer and fewer school years to look forward to with all of us together. Before I know it, one will be leaving the nest. I am so thankful for all the wonderful memories we have shared as a family who homeschools. 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tangled Contemplation

I have never been much of an artist. It wasn't until I found knitting as a medium that I really hit my stride as an artist. For me, art has always been of the useful variety. A knitted sweater, a beaded necklace, or a lacy scarf, while beautiful art, was always useful. I never considered that I was any good at drawing until I discovered through my favorite podcast, Craftlit, an art form called Zentangle.

When I heard Heather mention this thing called Zentangling, it stuck in my head for a long time before I bothered to look it up. To learn more about it, I bought a copy of the book, One Zentangle a Day:  A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun.  Well, I read through the preliminaries, bought some basic supplies, and started in. Right away, I was hooked!

What is now known as Zentangling is what I used to call doodling, and it typically happened for me between the lines of my notebook paper when I was zoning out in class when I was in high school. While there are specific steps, essentially it is doodling on steroids. This doodling, however, is done with a purpose, namely to de-stress.

It worked. I took about thirty minutes to work my first design, and at the end I was hooked! I started tangling every day, and it wasn't long before my daughter noticed me at it. She asked to join in, and I started teaching her in our little impromptu class. She also found that it relaxed her as well.

One of my first attempts
Eventually, I decided to ask a few families over to learn about this relaxing and contemplative art form. I set the time for rainy Friday afternoon, adjusted Pandora to a relaxing station, lit a candle, and shared some basic motifs with everyone, and they were off. Both mothers and daughters appeared to enjoy the process, and I saw some lovely designs come out of it as well.
Our little class, in the creative zone.

In addition to the music and candles, our group also incorporated some prayer and Scripture, although that is entirely up to the individual about how she approaches the art. For me personally, it is a wonderful time to still my worries and open up to the Holy Spirit.

While I am not a "certified" Zentangle instructor, I was able to introduce our girls to a different way of expressing themselves and releasing tension. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a way to reduce stress and build creativity. Supplies are minimal (Zentangle tiles - we used squares of paper for our class, Pigma Micron Pens, 2H and 2B pencils, and blending stumps). Over time, you can build supplies to design other Zentangle inspired art pieces, but the basics will take you a long way. 
Our class board



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Frankenminion

It's been a monstrous couple of days. I'm currently suffering from some fairly extreme pain (literally) in my neck, and it seems no amount of massage, medication, or manipulation is working for it.  It didn't stop me from responding to a call on my Ravelry Tom Bihn group to knit a mini monster, however! After tossing around a few possibilities, I decided to knit a Minor Minion using the pattern designed by Heather Sebastian. It was the perfect time to tackle the little fellow, as we were breaking from our lessons to enjoy time with a friend from North Carolina who is visiting for a few days.

I decided to use some Knit Picks yarn called Palette in the colorway of Edamame for the miniature body, and then cap it all off with a stocking cap knit in some scraps of my handspun. Unfortunately, the tightness in my neck made it a little challenging to complete, but I finished it eventually!

And here he is... FRANKENMINION!
Here he is, peeking out of my Swift bag by Tom Bihn.

He was nice to knit in a lull in my design work, and I'm looking forward to knitting another monster as soon as I recover a little more in my pain department.

Here you see him resting in my hand for scale.
He was knit with size 0 (2.00 mm) stainless steel double point needles in order to get a nice tight fabric. I started him yesterday and finished today, although I'm certain he could be knit in less time. I can already imagine the girls' knit club having fun with these guys!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kick Off

While our school year started a couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to kick it off in style, by attending a class to decorate notebooks! My girlfriend was so sweet to open her home and get the new school year started off in style by jazzing up plain notebooks with all sorts of different supplies!

Ready to start!
While the girls got busy on their creations, the guys had time to catch up on everyone's summer with some visiting.
And once everyone was done, it was time for a little cool-off in the pool!
Needless to say, everyone had a great time doing something creative, spending time with friends, and swimming in the pool.  We are all now ready to get started with the year, complete with a decorated binder!
Love it!
Pretty hibiscus I saw

And a cool beetle!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Clubbing It

As a knitter, one of my hopes was to pass on my love of the craft to my children. The first one to get excited about it was my youngest boy. He has become quite a fine knitter in his own right, and I love to see his unique creations, as he rarely uses a pattern.

My daughter was a later convert, but like her big brother, she has also turned out to be quite a knitter. Over time,  I learned that she was a social knitter and preferred to knit with friends, so I happily taught some of her friends to knit in our homeschool co-op. Our co-op is no longer meeting, but one thing that has thankfully continued is the girls' Knit Club, which started a little over a year ago (or is it two? I forget!).

Friends (and a cat)!
Of course, it's not all about the knitting (or crochet). There's always the tea and yummy snacks!
Tea, with a little honey
And of course, there's lots of laughter and conversation. Some days, I think there's a lot more of that than actual knitting going on, but that's all OK. After all, the most important part of the experience is friendship.

If you have a child who is interested in something, consider expanding the fun and inviting friends to take part as well.  Who knows, maybe you'll have the best knitting, painting, literature, or coin collecting club in your area! And you undoubtedly will have wonderful friends there to share in the experience!
She's not fat, she's fluffy! (and fast asleep!)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ancient Music Fun

This year, my two youngest are taking a bit of a divergent road from our accustomed "hard-core" history approach.  Believe me, I love and believe in Biblioplan, and I fully expect to return to it, but I have learned from my oldest (it's a pity we don't get Mulligans in child-rearing) that there's plenty of time to be more academic in some pursuits.  This year is my middle guy's 8th grade year.  Next year I'll have two in High School. So this year, I decided to spend his last year traveling down some different roads.

My kiddos have always loved history (well, with one exception, my youngest!), so there was no doubt that we would continue to study it. The question was rather, how we would approach it this year. I have personally gone through the history cycle (as outlined by Susan Wise Bauer in The Well-Trained Mind) three times fully. All of my kiddos have gone through it at least two full times. This year, we were approaching Ancient History, AGAIN. I just felt I couldn't face it. AGAIN. So I started looking at other alternatives, and as what I believe to be a God-sent inspiration, I came across Easy-Peasy.

Essentially, Easy-Peasy is a website that offers entirely free curriculum via your computer and an internet connection. I had never heard of it before, and was doubtful that it could be of quality, but I gamely started checking it out. What I have found is that it is a delightful combination of multi-sensory resources that are engaging, Christ-centered, and rigorously sound. While many out there are using the website, which was designed by Lee Giles, I have chosen to select just a few courses. For those of you curious about the program, you can find her FAQs here.

As a part of her Ancient History program of study, I chose to also include Ancient Art and Ancient Music, as well as selections of Bible. We are only one week in, so I suppose I can't completely assert that all is going to be awesome, but what a start we've made! For the first time, my daughter is enjoying history! This week alone, she has toured caves in France, virtually designed and built a pyramid, created music such that might have been enjoyed by Adam and Eve, and currently is in search of a rock and natural supplies to paint it with. In short, I'm impressed!

This is the type of learning that I've yearned for for my children. It is multi-sensory. It is engaging. It is creative! I will continue to evaluate it throughout this year, but in the meantime, go over and take a look at it. I bet you'll be as impressed as I am! And if you decide to take the plunge, you will find plenty of support at the EasyPeasy Facebook page.

Oh yes, one more thing of note:  for those of you who are wondering whether the curriculum adheres to Common Core Standards, Lee emphatically states that it does not, nor will it. For some of you, that may be welcome news, and for others, maybe not so much, but I found it something noteworthy. Obviously, you can see that it doesn't bother our family at all!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lotus Flower

This past weekend was a good friend's baby shower.  This is her third.  It's been a while since I've had the joy of expecting a baby in my friend circle, so I went all out and knitted up a little baby blanket.  Called the Lotus Baby Blanket, this project casts on in the center, than then spirals outward into a sweet, squarish shawl. The most difficult part was the cast-on, but after you get past that, it was smooth sailing, as long as you remembered all those yarn overs at the corners (I frequently forgot them and had to go back to fix it).
The center Lotus Flower motif
For harried-Mom, easy-care washability, I used Vanna's Choice yarn in worsted weight. The main color I had in stash, and I purchased the contrasting edging color.
Love that orange contrast!
All in all, I spent a little over two months working on this blanket, although I wasn't able to give a ton of teach time to it every day, so I suspect it could be done in as little as a month.
The finished blanket
I'm looking forward to meeting this new little guy!  It won't be long now, as she is due in less than a month!
Happy Mom-to-be at her party