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

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Blooming Where You Are Planted

I was leaving the house the other day, and caught a brilliant flash of white out of the corner of my eye. Bending down, I saw these...

Underneath the hibiscus are some petunias!
I'd grown petunias a little over a year ago in a pot on my front stoop. Eventually, they got long and leggy, and I pulled them out to put the hibiscus in their place. Then I promptly forgot all about them. Now, a year later, I see how the petunias seeded somehow in a crevasse between the brick and the stone, and in spite of the poor location, decided to bloom anyway.

Isn't that how life is? I remember my pastor, Charlie, at SouthBrook Christian Church in Dayton, OH spoke about how we should not over think things too much, but simply bloom where ever we are planted, even if it's an "accidental" planting! So often, we Christians wonder and sometimes even agonize about whether we are living in the right place to serve Christ, or if we are working in job He would have us in. The simple fact is, that where ever we are, we can be in the center of God's will simply by serving Him in that place.

I have experienced this truth not only geographically, but occupationally as well. After living in Ohio for many years, I felt very happy and planted. Our family had a wonderful church, and a strong and supportive group of friends. When my husband left his current job and our family moved to Florida, I felt adrift. I spent time questioning how I was to make sense of this new situation. How would I find friends for my children? For me? How would I find a church like the one I'd loved and left in Ohio?

It took time, but I took the first steps to being in God's will by simply submitting to my husband and trusting him to make the right decision for our family. I say it was simple, but it certainly wasn't easy. It took time and prayer. Then, I worked hard at breaking out of my comfort zone by connecting with new groups, churches, and people. Things didn't necessarily connect for me the first time, nor even the second, but with persistent efforts, prayer, and bravery (as an introvert, it took more than a fair share of that!), I eventually succeeded in establishing connections, not only for myself, but also for the children.

Blooming where I've been planted has also happened with regard to my current profession:  that of homeschooling mom. The role of Mother is such a critical one, and when you add the moniker of "homeschooing" in front of it, it becomes even more complicated. This has not always been an easy path for me. At times I have looked over my shoulder at other, more glamorous professions. Other times, I've sighed with longing when I've heard about the luncheon appointments or gym meet-ups of my less "time-challenged" sisters. But even though at times the surface ripples of discontent have been swirling and swift, underneath the stream has remained steady.

You see, I realize that I am incredibly privileged to serve my family in this role. God has entrusted me with His most precious possession, the souls of His children. And I take that role seriously. I never expected to homeschool three children back when hubby and I were first thinking about children, but here I am. As wild and challenging, and at times even difficult a ride that it's been, I wouldn't change it for the world. Now that I can look back over the past with 20/20 vision, I can see how God has been at work in my life and the lives of my husband and children. There is now more time behind me than in front of me on this educational journey I'm taking, and I'm incredibly thankful to have yielded my stubborn will to His, and have enjoyed the blooms in this corner of life I'm living in!