Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lyddie and the Kitty

Sweet kitten, Penny with my sweet girl.

I spent part of the morning in the garden with Millie picking big fat green worms and gray aphids off our brussels sprouts plants.  Ew!  I hope we can save the plants because they are Millie's and she takes such pride in them that she will be disappointed if they die!  I love how she loves helping me in the garden.
I have had fun planting a fall garden in spots where other crops are done, and hope that we might still get some spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuce, and arugula.  We are up to our ears in tomatoes, and I'm excited that I've been able to save our squash plants from the squash bugs thus far.

 The other exciting thing is working on our new schoolroom in the outbuilding next to the house.  I have no idea how I want to make it homey besides rearranging the furniture but I'm thinking about it.  Do you have any favorite things you have done to make a room particularly cozy, especially one with very little natural lighting?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

yarn along: grays

This week I am still knitting my Hitofude and reading this delightful mystery novel by P.D. James! A few days camping in the mountains afforded extra knitting and reading time. 
I am finishing up The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim read by the amazing B.J. Harrison on the Classic Tales Podcast. I have sincere hope that it will end happily for each character but can't yet see how exactly, even two chapters from the end. I can't say enough about how I have loved the book. It has me laughing out loud so often and the character growth is delightfully fun. In wish I was vacationing at a castle in Italy along with them all!

The sky is hazy with smoke from the wildfire just some distance away near Mt. Adams. We are in no danger and the fire is on closed land of the Reservation so there are no homes currently threatened, thankfully. I am missing the bright clear air and sunshine since I woke up to a red sunrise and am unable to see even the hills just miles away from us. This is the second of the four summers that we have lived here that smoke in late summer has been such an issue. I am yearning toward the bright crispness of fall. September and October are my favorite seasons anywhere but especially here in Central Washington, when the weather cools a bit and the garden continues to produce massively. It's coming!
Joining with Ginny's Yarn Along today, won't you?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

yarn along: mamma mia!

I have been admiring the Hitofude cardigan for many months now.  Everyone seems to be knitting them and I know at least one friend who is knitting her second!

My mom and I escaped last week together to a little town just about 45 minutes from my home; mom had to drive a bit further but I was so glad she did.  It was such a special time!  We visited my local yarn shop, Yarn Folk, and I was even more impressed than ever by Ann's selection of truly wonderful yarns.  I went in intending to pick out yarn for a hat and mitts but when I saw Ann's Hitofude, I decided to take the plunge and see if I could find a yarn that I liked that was affordable enough to fit into the little budget I'd set aside for yarn on this trip.  I settled on Skacel CoBaSi and I am loving the way it is knitting up!  I'm savoring the knitting.  Other than the knitting we did for many hours, my mom and I also spent time in bookshops and coffee shops and eating out and one of our evenings was spent singing along to "Mamma Mia," my ultimate summer movie, and it is especially fun to watch that movie about a mother and daughter with my mom who also [shamelessly] sings along with the Abba music.  If we hadn't been in a hotel room, we'd have belted it out even louder and I, at least, would have had to dance around the room.  I love the movie for several reasons, but one is because it portrays the older ladies and the younger ladies all having wild, raucous fun in community together.  I need more raucous fun in my life and I'm on a mission to find it this coming year.  Any ideas on how to be exciting and have light-hearted fun with your family are welcome!  ;)

I finished my Radiance shawl the first night of my getaway and although I still need to block it I thought I'd show it as is. I can't wait for cooler weather to get to cuddle into it; right now the apple orchards are being watered and it is HUMID on our property.  

I have been waiting for a good time to pick up the book that I'm now reading and I was finally between books and hunted it down at the library.  I usually scoff at Jane Austen fan fiction (I mustn't, though, it's really too snobby of me and I am seeing the error of my ways) but P.D. James is one of my favorite authors and it's really fun to get to spend time with my "friends" at Pemberley again.

Other than that, we are in the thick of the long languid days of our summer.  The garden is full of weeds and ripe vegetables, the sparrows and doves stay out late on the line, the children chatter long and loud in their beds while the sun still shines.   We are getting ready to start our homeschooling journey next month and part of my preparation for that is to finish "KonMaring" our home, so I've been working steadily through her categories of tidying up. 

Joining in with Ginny and all the others at Yarn Along this week, and hopefully this week I will get a better chance to peruse my friends' blogs than I have had the past few weeks!

Monday, August 10, 2015

major in the majors: a glimpse of a new homeschool mom's kindergarten plans

We are getting ready for kindergarten in our house.  Well, mostly I am getting ready, and not too ready since I am pretty convinced about how kindergarten should look for us and it doesn't involve a lot of extra planning or coordinating of materials. I thought I'd share a little about it because it has taken up residence in my thoughts and will take up residence in our days very soon. 

I love the word:  Kindergarten:  Child's Garden.

It fills the mind with images of exploration and undirected play, of discovery and nature and delicious things to experience.  Of character building and cuddles and fun. 

My goal for kindergarten is to not do too much kindergarten. I appreciate and plan to employ Charlotte Mason's general education philosophy for this "Year 0" with all three of my children, carrying it over into this last sweet year of "pre-education" for my Lyddie. 

My girl already reads; she learned to read last year and is now devouring book after book and I find myself having to slow her down since it is such a natural thing for her but I want her to really experience the books and not just wolf them down. 

But still I get nervous and hear voices rattling around in my head that I am going to do it wrong or wonder how I'm going to have time to homeschool one, and then two, and then a couple years from now, all three girls when my life already feels so busy with just keeping up with things around the house and property.  I am firm with those voices and keep reminding myself to major in the majors and keep the minor things in their places.  The phrase "Major in the majors" has been bouncing around in my mind. 

So I'm picking a few "majors" to include this next year in our life, majors that will enrich and hopefully not detract from my Lyddie's education.  

  • Family Math:  I was given this book and have enjoyed perusing it and have created a simple math curriculum from the games and activities included that will lay what I believe to be an excellent foundation for concepts that we will encounter later in a more formal math curriculum.  A few of the topics we'll cover in simple ways appropriate for a five year old are numbers and operations, measurement, logic and story problems, patterns and charts, probability, geometry and spatial concepts, estimation, and time and money.  What I'm looking forward to is that these activities look like a lot of fun for all of us and I imagine we will return to them in the future regardless of our curriculum!
  • Kitchen science (baking or other projects together, I may come up with a specific set of ideas to pull from)
  • Music appreciation (mainly building classical music into our days in an intentional way)
  • Beginning piano lessons with me once a week 
  • Poetry (just reading some and maybe a few simple poems or nursery rhymes naturally memorized)
  • Handwriting Without Tears: since she is already writing, I have decided I want to address letter formation the correct way now before her incorrect letter formation is too firmly established.  This resource looks simple and short, taking just minutes on the days I choose to build it into the plan. 
  • Nature study:  a short time journaling/drawing and labeling outdoors together once a week
  • Handiwork like knitting or cross stitch or sewing or some other crafting fun
  • Mostly "majorly," I plan long hours out of doors as we already do but will continue to do; even in the cold months I am hoping we can spend some time outside even if we are bundled up.  This will also include hikes or day trips to nearby destinations, I hope!
  • Reading excellent books: we read a lot and I will focus on the books on the Ambleside Year 0 reading list, most of which we've already read and own but all bear repeated reading. 
There you have it, my friends, a brief overview of a very simple kindergarten for under $50!  I know it isn't much but I think it sounds just right for us and having a little plan mapped out for how I want this coming year to look brought me a lot of joy and excitement for the fun we have ahead in exploring the world together. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

yarn along: radiance

"Now, have a good summer.  Dabble your feet in the water and fill the sock-drawer against next winter. I find this as satisfying as studying seed catalogues by a roaring January fire."  --Elizabeth Zimmerman, The Opinionated Knitter

 I may not be knitting socks right now but I am enjoying finishing up a delicate shawl for the coming colder months.  I am now casting off using a picot edge for 700+ stitches.   I ended up having a few more rows of stockinette to do than I realized when I posted last week, but I will definitely have this shawl cast off in a day or two.  I haven't decided what I will cast on next, but I decided to rip out the pair of socks I was working on because I don't like them, which leaves me with nothing on needles??  My project-in-reserves for a long time has been this lace shawl so now I get the fun of deciding what to do next.  And in perfect timing because my mom and I are spending a couple days together alone this week near my LYS, Yarn Folk.  I fully intend to avail myself of the yarn at hand while browsing with another person who loves yarn as much as I do!

I am reading Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson, and listening often to The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim on the Classic Tales podcast. Such a great find for me, these one-at-a-time installments of literature that someone else has chosen for me.  Have you heard of Elizabeth von Arnim?  I hadn't but I am really enjoying this book.  It makes me feel the way I feel when we watch Parks & Rec; I can be laughing out loud one moment and tearing up the next, all because I love the characters.  (Other than that it's nothing like P&R.)  I am also still loving Sense and Sensibility in small doses each week with CraftLit.  

A few weeks ago someone asked me about the light fixtures in a glimpse of a picture I shared.  My husband designed and built them and deserves many accolades.  There are two matching mason-jar fixtures, one hanging above my small kitchen and one hanging a few feet away over our table.  It is a little piece of the remodel we are doing; before we started, there was a hideous falling-apart drop ceiling with inset fluorescent lights, like a classroom.  *Shudder* I hated the lighting, I hated the buzzing noise from the lights, and oh they were ugly.  I tried not to complain but it was reaching critical mass this past winter when we just didn't even want to be in that room anymore as one of the bulb flickered and was burning out and buzzed even louder. When Jesse and my dad removed the drop ceiling we discovered that instead of drywall the ceiling was fiberboard so we had to drywall and texture completely.  This is a small piece of our kitchen remodel and I will have to post more about our projects soon!
I have been without a washing machine for two weeks now.  Our new one should be delivered on Friday, Lord willing. Thank goodness for good friends and laundromats. 

We are also in the process of getting a new porch, thanks largely in part to a few people who visited the area last week on a team and were willing to come get rid of the dangerous old porch that was falling in and replace it.  I was really worried about it after Lyddie fell earlier this summer and gouged her knee presumably on a nail and had to get several stitches at the ER that evening. The Rotting-Safety-Hazard that was our previous porch is gone...

... and the picture below is of the new redwood porch almost complete.  Pretty, huh?  We hope to build a pergola over it with grape vines (or wisteria) climbing it eventually and line the porch with a simple flower bed with lavender and maybe a couple bushes (and replace those awful windows and the awful door and put some furniture and a built in bench on the porch but....... slow down there, Sar, in time... in time).   We definitely live in a fixer-upper and it is encouraging when I see dreams coming true.  The girls love the new porch and have been playing on it in the sunshine with their baby dolls.

I always look forward to connecting with the other friends at the Yarn Along linkup!  Join us, will you?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

yarn along: finishing

Knitting: What a busy weekend we have had here.  My little girls were the flower girls in their uncle and new auntie's wedding and we were so glad we got to be a part of their special day.  I had lots of time in the car to knit and am nearly to the picot edge I am going to do on my Radiance shawl.  That will take me all week.  I can't wait to finish it and see it blocked.  Right now it mostly just looks like a wad of lacy yarn.

Reading:  I finished All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr with two days to spare before it has to go back to the library this second time.  I thought it was incredible.  The writing was lovely and careful.  As I sat on the couch with tears trickling down my cheeks during a particularly beautiful scene, Jesse looked at me inquisitively.  "He hits all the right notes in all the right ways," was all I could choke out before diving back into the scene.  It is a big book and I feel some relief over leaving WWII behind after spending so much time there.  But it is a good book and I am glad I read it.  I loved this short segment in particular for the wisdom in it and for the depth of character it provides for each speaker  (Slight spoiler possibility if you are planning on reading very soon):

He says, "You are very brave."She lowers the bucket.  "What is your name?"He tells her.  She says, "When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave.  When my father left, people said I was brave.  But it is not bravery; I have no choice.  I wake up and live my life.  Don't you do the same?"He says, "Not in years.  But today.  Today maybe I did."
Listening:  Sense and Sensibility on CraftLit this week, and a bit of The Enchanted April on the Classic Tales podcast.  We spent a lot of time with Frances and Gloria during our drive, too, thanks to a library audio collection I picked up; I love Frances!   Russell C. Hoban just writes children so well. 

That's it for my Yarn Along post for today!  It's hopefully a week of finishing up for me - books and yarn projects, as we end July (how can that be?!) and move into August, another busy month for us and yet a different kind of summertime busy.  I'm already getting that little ache in my bones for the beauties of autumn!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

yarn along: needles and pages

 "Look, Mommy, this cottonwood fuzz is like snow!  Let's throw it up in the air and pretend!"  *Mom sneezes and resolves to take an allergy pill on arrival home*



I've been cranky.  What you can't see in the pictures of the walk at the river was my scowling face and the sweat pouring in rivers down my back. Mom-fail.  (My kids overheard that description as I whined it and have hijacked it, describing how sweat is in rivers on their backs, haha!) How can I be cranky in the face of such beauty?  I don' t know, but I know it's possible because I have been.  I've been so tired.  The photos help me see the beauty that I sometimes forget to watch for and be thankful for. 

On the needles:  I'm back to working on my Radiance shawl, and am unknitting what I think is going to be the last row to get back to the mistake.  I made a Fair Isle hat using Elizabeth Zimmerman's directions in Knitting Workshop but for some reason it ended up being too short so Lyddie has a new, slightly slouchy winter hat that actually will match her winter coat nicely.  I wove in the ends and blocked my Adama cowl - it doesn't look terribly adorable laid out flat in the pictures but I love how soft and chunky the Malabrigo worsted is and I will hopefully soon have a day to take pictures of it being worn. Today was not that day since there were sick kids and a broken washing machine, messy clothes, messy hair, no makeup... not this day!

Between the pages:  I am diligently  making my way through All the Light We Cannot See and according to my Kindle, I am 70% of the way through.  The problem is that I can't read it before bed or I am filled with sad, restless thoughts about WWII and my dreams are more and more affected by what is in my head before sleep now so I'm squeezing in bits of reading time here and there in the day.

 I picked up A Brother for the Orphelines, which is illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, and I wanted to pre-read it to see if it would be a good read-aloud with my Lyddie; it will be.  I am listening to Sense and Sensibility via CraftLit, and am totally entranced by The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim on the Classic Tales podcast, an author I've never even heard of.  I also am about to start listening to Lear as ChopBard starts it. Audiobooks can be a companion to me no matter what I am doing because my time to sit and read an actual book feels so limited if I also want to do anything crafty like knit.  I make it a general rule not to have my headphones in and to try to limit my screen time when the kids are up, but I have a chunk of time in the afternoon that I can listen and then I often listen to something in bed before going to sleep. Since each of these podcasts typically releases only one chapter a week, I don't feel overwhelmed trying to keep up and actually I think I retain the books more at a slower pace. 

I hope all my dear readers are having a great week!  We're off to my brother-in-law's wedding in the next day or so (schedule pending sick children) which will provide lots of car time for knitting!  Looking forward to see what everyone else is posting about on this Yarn Along day!