Friday, November 30, 2012

Teacher Notes

Just to warn you, I ramble a bit for this post, but that may not surprise many of you.  I tend to ramble a lot.  There's nothing striking or eye opening in this post.  It's merely a document of what's running through my head as a homeschooling mom.  I hope that someday my grown kids will get a good laugh at it.

This week at school, we keep plugging away.  There seems to be a lot going on, and we just keep doing it.  The kids' Winter choir concert is coming up soon.  Hopefully I'll get to see it this year.  I believe last year I had to stay home with a sick kid (probably Elias), and sent Knut in since he didn't even get to hear snippets of practices.

We've taken our kids' curriculum into our own hands a bit, as Knut requested some read aloud time with them in the evenings.  So I put on hold our reading on the American Indians that is normally done in the evenings, and instead Knut is reading them "The Hobbit."  He really wanted to read it to them, and that's just the best time.  I suppose I could try to get that extra reading done during the day, but our days are already so full.  We'll probably just extend reading aloud to the Summer, which the kids love anyway.  Normally in the Summer, I come up with my own book list, and we're just doing that a bit mid-year now as well.

Although Knut requested this job, it's been slow starting.  The kids are losing interest fast, but I can't blame them too much.  One evening he literally fell asleep while reading to them.  He needs to work on that.  Kids need a bit more excitement in the voice than snoring.

The kids are doing really well in most of their subjects.  With Silje, I'm still getting lots of drama in spelling.  This year we're doing "Sequential Spelling" with her, and I think it's exactly what she needs.  It has a lot of repetition, and works a lot with word families.  She's what I've read is called "an intuitive reader" meaning she easily figures out what words mean, but the down side to intuitive readers is that they are often terrible spellers.

David is not an intuitive reader, but needs to know every single phonics rule in order to feel comfortable even trying to sound out the word.  He tends to memorize words, so we're doing lots of phonogram work with him to develop that side of reading, which he is thriving with.  I like Silje's program for her, because we do go over phonics rules, but there's a lot of memorization of odd words as well, which she really needs.  He's really arriving at a good spot, learning-wise.  He's learning consistency, and he works hard without much prodding these days.  He still lacks in confidence, but he works hard and has had a good attitude the last few weeks...most of the time.

As for Silje, she is a very emotional learner.  She normally cries when she gets something wrong.  That's really hard for me to know how to deal with.  This last week, we were going over the strange spellings of "would, should, and could."  She wrote out "would" then "could" and I told her the next word for her to try is "should" and she "should" look at the 2 previous words to get a clue on how it is spelled.  She wrote out "shud" and when I sighed and said, "Silje, I told you to look at the other words for a clue on how it's spelled..." she just burst into tears and said she hated spelling.  I hear her.  I'm pretty bad at spelling as well.  That doesn't mean we skip it.

We keep plugging away, and she is improving in this subject, but there are some things that she is consistently getting wrong still, and I'm not sure how to handle that along with the emotions.  I figure as long as I see improvement in both cases, we're good.  I think improvement rather than perfection needs to be my goal for her most especially in this subject.  Helping her deal with failure, or at least deal with working hard to learn something has been something we've been working on for a few years now.  She's such a perfectionist,  and she's so accustomed to having information come easily.  She gets so shaken every time she gets something wrong, which happens about 4 times a day in her daily list of 25 study words.  The first mistake she rolls with and corrects, but when she misses a 3rd or 4th word...she gets completely undone.

Working on handwriting along with spelling has been helping a lot.  She's so good in cursive that I have lots and lots to compliment her on as she's working.  At least some part of her feels accomplished during this subject.  Really, 21 out of 25 words isn't bad at all, in my opinion.  Apparently, she has higher standards than me.  She just gets angry with me when I won't let her skip working on it.  I can handle that.  ;)

She still goes through books like crazy, though.  She devours books like a teenage boy devours food.  I don't have any idea how she reads so fast.  Knut and I both have concerns that she's not getting everything she's reading.  I've started doing way more comprehension work with her, but she consistently gets every question right.  I have her read aloud portions, and she gets it all right.  I have discussions with her about what she reads, and she has the most insightful answers.  I have her write about what she read, and draw pictures.  She's obviously understanding things, but my goodness, she gets through her reading lightening fast!  I can't think of any other way to slow her down to notice the details, but so far I can't seem to even catch her missing the details either.

So we keep on getting books, and she keeps on reading them and talking about them.  I've noticed that she needs 2-3 hours of independent reading everyday or she starts feeling lost.  So I'm just filling up her library pile with some amazing books from poetry to science to classic novels and she spends a few hours every day just reading them over and over again.  That part is so much like me when I was her age.  I was lost without a book.

Knut and I have talked about Silje's reading pile and the amount of things she reads a bit in the idea of how much education she is actually getting.  We're finding that the benefits of homeschooling isn't the curriculum that WE do, although we think we picked a fabulous one.  The benefit of homeschooling that is our favorite so far is that our kids are able to go so far in depth in their own interests because they have the time to do so.  Our curriculum covers what we feel is important for them to know.  Then we let them loose to soak in more of what they want and they are soaking in so much during those off times!  It's almost freaky how much they learn that I don't teach them.

We have been continuing to work on dictation from her reading, and that has been helpful in her observing small details like punctuation and capitalization.  The only interest she has shown in doing any activities around her reading is not related to her school reading at all.  She finds cookbooks related to certain series of books like the "Little House" books or the "American Girl" books and wants to cook what those characters would have likely made.

I'm so thankful for the library near us.  She needs a steady stream of books to keep her content.  She remembers everything she reads, and spouts off the most amazing snippets of knowledge she gets from her library books throughout the day.  She recently read a book we found on different types of eggs in different species.  She officially the egg expert in the house right now and could tell you all about lizard eggs and ostrich eggs and chicken eggs...

The week before Thanksgiving I checked out for her the American Kennel Club book of dog breeds, and she read it cover to cover before the dog show on Thanksgiving.  She was telling us all about each of the breeds, and what each breed was good at.  Most of the comments were in relation to whether or not that breed would be a good fit for our family.  "That breed doesn't do well with little kids."  or "That breed is too small for our yard and would need a fence or be kept indoors.  I think it would be in danger in our yard from hawks swooping down and eating it."  That one made me laugh.

She wants to be a vet when she grows up, and is currently reading through the entire animal section at the library.  I've started pulling animal books from the adult section for her as well, and she reads those too.

Both kids are nearing the end of their math books and I'm soon ready to order some more.  My goal was to get them working a year ahead on math, and so far their both about half a year ahead, which I have no complaints about.  I was planning on moving Silje from Saxon math to Teaching Textbooks after this level, but Knut has recently told me that he has big reservations about doing the switch as Saxon has been going well.  So hopefully we'll have some time to look at both programs together soon and make a good unified decision.  Any insight about either program would be very welcome!

My main concern is that she's starting to get into math that I understand, but have a harder time explaining.  I like that Teaching Textbooks is all on the computer and she would have a lot more help available outside me.  Plus many of my friends have raved about it.  I feel like using Teaching Textbooks would help take some things off my plate each day, honestly.

Saxon is very traditional, and that's what Knut likes about it.  I haven't been getting the teacher's guides for the last few levels because I found them to be redundant and useless to me, but he thinks if we just start buying the teacher's guides again, I won't be searching for ways to explain certain concepts to her as much and I won't be spending as much time on that subject.  In his mind Saxon is the gold standard, (I agree, it is doing a great job thus far) and we shouldn't mess with something that is teaching our kids math very thoroughly.

So we'll just have to see.  There's still some stuff to talk about and decide, and we have about a month or two to do that.

The thing I personally need to work on is consistency with some of our "supplementary" work that is important to me.  For instance our memory work, and Silje's Latin.  I have some Christmas crafts planned for our school day that I was planning on starting next week.  I know the kids will really love that, and I hope that I survive.  I'm not that good at crafting with the kids because I tend to get annoyed with the messes and it gets loud, and things don't turn out and then I have to keep them anyway...

It's my biggest guilt as a homeschooling mom.  I need to be better at art projects.  I definitely need to improve in that area, and I think Christmas-time is probably one of the most opportune times to step it up.  Hopefully next week you'll see what fabulous creations we did!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I know this post may shock some of you.  In fact, you better put whatever you are drinking down before you spray all over your monitor.

I sewed something.

I know, you were beginning to think that this blog should have been titled "He Sows, She Knits" which would have been cute too, but I didn't think of it back then.  No, I haven't done any sewing really since last Spring when I went on a quilting retreat.  Seriously, I had not even fully unpacked.  There were tubs of fabric still in the laundry/sewing room, and patterns and notes stacked on top of them in a haphazard sort of way.  Then lint from the dryer fell everywhere, and more stuff was piled on top, and it really started looking quite sad in there.

This nesting craze I've been on has been great for organizing my house, and I decided to clean my sewing room so I could actually sew something.  It took me a whole evening after the kids were in bed, but it was so well worth it!  I ended up getting some organizational extenders for my little cubby unit in there.  I got some baskets to put in the little cubbies, and now I don't have balls of yarn falling on my head while I sew.

What I do know is that I am now officially on a yarn spending freeze, as I was/am on a fabric purchasing freeze.  Once I've gotten the organizational tools in place, I just can't fit anymore.  If I want more, I'll have to use some up.  Whatever I get has to fit in this space.

So after walking past this clean sewing space over and over the next day, by the time the kids were in bed, I was just dying to get in there and just sew something.  Sure, I had patterns and projects that are always available to pick up.  I wanted to just be creative and see what I could come up with.

I remember seeing my friend, Beth's sewing project once, where she just took a variety of orange fabrics and put them around some very plain fabric with this incredible result.  Then she took the leftover patch fabric and sewed up a bunch of napkins.  I thought that was so cool.

So I figured I could do something like that.  With very little measuring, and using 2 1/2 inch squares, I just put this tan lightweight canvas-y type fabric with some Christmas prints I happened to have in my stash.  Well, I actually picked up this tan fabric at the quilt shop a few days ago, because I didn't have that on hand.  I had one impulse buy when I was there, and that's the green polka-dot fabric that made it into this project.  There's something about polka dot fabrics that just get me, and I have a tough time not getting them.  So I just got a tiny bit.  I know I said I was on a fabric buying freeze, but this fabric was used up right away, and aided in using up some stash fabric, and that's the loophole in the spending freeze rule.

I'm not sure if this runner will stay in the dining room until Christmas, or be moved to the front entry way table so it will still be in use, but for now it's going to be here.

Anyway, the whole project went just so easy.  The first day I sat down to my sewing machine, which just happened to have the right color thread in it.  I didn't have to rip out one thing.  When does that ever happen?

So, Knut popped his head in once to see how it was going, and he said, "Looks, um, whimsical."  I knew from his tone that he was trying to say that the look we're going for in the dining room isn't quite whimsical.  True.  But I love sewing whimsically.  Whimsical sewing means doing what you like.  It means that I can shrug my shoulders when corners don't meet up quite exactly.  That's probably not what whimsical means, but I like my definition.  I think I'll still keep my eye out for a fancier runner for this buffet, but until I find one I like, this will be some good protection for this furniture.  Right now the kids and I are forcing some paper whites and amaryllis for Christmas in this spot, and I wanted something under the pots.

Actually, most corners did meet up, which surprised me.

Well, I did sort of mess up the front edge.  I should fix that.

But then I realized, that's right where some poinsettias should go.
I still need to play with the stems a bit.

Well, some more "whimsy" made it into the project.
The bottom of the lining accidentally whimsically is facing out.  Isn't it cute?  I immediate decided I liked it.  The alternative to liking it would be ripping out the entire lining.  That's logical, isn't it?

Actually, the whole project went off with hardly a hitch.  When you consider I did pretty much zero measuring, and just started stitching, I'd say it turned out fantastic.  It was like my sewing room was just welcoming me back with open arms and saying "Please don't leave us like that again!  We'll all work together and be good, we promise!"  At least that's what I heard Sassy Pfaffy and all the tools quietly cheer.  The last few months have been pretty lonely in there.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yarn Along

This week I keep plugging away at my super soft cardigan.  I'm having a tough time coming up with a name for it.  I have a few ideas floating around as I stitch back and forth.  This is basically my knit-while-Elias-is-trying-to-fall-asleep knitting.  He may be 4 but he still needs a nap everyday, and he still starts playing right away if I'm not sitting in his room.  I actually enjoy that part of the day because it's so quiet.  The big kids are occupied with their own projects downstairs, Solveig is asleep in her crib, and Elias is just staring at the wall for awhile until he drifts off.  I get to just sit in the rocking chair and knit.  It's quite peaceful.

Not only am I in love with this yarn, but after knitting a few cardigans that are either fingering or sport weight, I'm pleased with how quickly this worsted weight cardigan is going!  I don't plan on releasing this pattern until after the baby is born, but it's just going so fast, the release date may be moved up if she decides to make a late entrance.  We'll see.  I don't promise anything at this point of the pregnancy! At this time it's the plan for my January pattern.

I'm at the point of the second book in the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter where it's getting really good.  O my goodness, do I love this book!  Reading it is like enjoying a fine piece of chocolate.  Sure, little romances are like a KitKat.  You can just go through a bag without noticing or even thinking about it, and it's a fun little delight.  But then there are other times where you have, like a Godiva cheesecake, and it's so rich that you have to eat it slowly, and savor every morsel.  That's this book.  Each description, each scene, each complex relationship is just so rich in words that you can only handle so much of this book at a time.  Books like this don't come a dime a dozen.  Books like this one, won a Nobel Prize.

Books like this feed the soul.  So good!  The first book, "The Wreath" covers Kristin's childhood, courtship and marriage.  Kristin's relationship with her father and with her choice in love is in such conflict, and as she loves both men so dearly and is conflicted so many times, her relationship with God is also put to the test as subject of sin is wrestled with.  Issues like loyalty, tradition and honor are examined.  It's just so good!

I'm now in the second book "The Wife" where sins from the previous book deeply effect the characters even years later who are maturing and developing.  Relationships are complex and messy, as they continue to try to understand what God expects of them.  Like every other marriage, it's 2 sinners going through life together.

Christianity is still pretty new to Norway at this time in history.   The Catholic church rules, but "old ways" and superstitions survive in the countryside.  Outside influences, both successes and involvement in overthrowing the king of Norway (all historically based in medieval times) make life simple pretty quick as the characters realize what really matters.  Is it too late for relationships to be restored as a trial for high treason begins?

Now I'm just making it sound cheap.  It's not.  It's so beautiful.

Linking up again with Ginny.  I love knitting and reading, and meeting others who do too.

O!  I almost forgot.  Be sure to check out my new FREE PATTERN "Winter Butterfly Cowl" I just posted yesterday, and the yarn giveaway I'm doing with it's release.  Free baby alpaca chunky yarn...doesn't get much better than that!  You don't have to sign up for anything, or any hoops like that. It's just some Christmas fun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winter Butterfly Cowl

I've been on a major stash busting spree, in an attempt to find the surface of my crafting room.  The chunky yarns would seem easy to get rid of!  Simply knit them up and move them to the outdoor clothing drawer!

This pattern is super simple.  It's nothing difficult or mind blowing.  It's something quick and easy and uses only one skein of chunky yarn.  It has these little butterflies all over this simple fabric.  If you can manage a knit and a purl stitch, you can handle this quick pattern.  This would make a great last minute Christmas gift, at least I think.

I made it for myself, with the desire to have something a bit deeper than my Clara Cowl because sometimes I need to pull a cowl way up to my nose, and just bury my face in it as we walk in the cold wind.  Winter and wool go so nicely together!  No wonder winter is my favorite season.

To make this quickie project, you'll need:

Size US 11 circular needles on about a 24 inch cord.
One skein (or 110 yards) of super soft chunky yarn.  I used Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande because it's one of my absolute favorites.

Gauge: 11 sts and 18 rows = 4" or 10 cm.

Final size: 26" around, 7" deep.  (Modification note: if you want it wider or slimmer, simply increase or decrease cast on by 6 stitches.)

The one part of the instructions that can be confusing is when you knit into the next stitch in the row below.  For this instruction, you'll have a purl stitch to work next, but you're going to ignore it completely, and knit into the knit stitch just below it, and slip it off the needle.

Cast on 72 sts, and join in the round, being careful not to twist.  Place a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round.

Rows 1-3: (K3, p3) repeat to end.
Rows 4-5: knit.
Row 6: (K3, p3) repeat to end.
Row 7: (K3, p1, knit into next stitch in the row below, p1) repeat to end.
Rows 8-9: knit
Row 10: (P3, k3) repeat to end.
Row 11: (P1, knit into next stitch in the row below, p1, k3) repeat to end.

Repeat rows 4-11, 3 more times.

Work final ribbing as follows: (P3, k3)  for 3 rows.  Bind off loosely in rib.  Weave in ends and block to size.

That's all!  Feel free to knit a dozen of these and give them out for Christmas, sell them on Etsy and make some Christmas money, or do whatever you like.  If you sell them, please point back to this pattern in your listing.  That's all I ask.

Want some of this soft yarn for you or to whip up a gift?  Well I happen to be cleaning out my stash.  I'm doing a giveaway for it right here.

Yarn Giveaway


Brooke won this skein of yarn, and I'll be in contact to get this delivered!  Hope you enjoy!!!

So, since I'm stash-busting, and trying to make room in my crafting space, I thought I'd part with one of my favorite types of least cowl making yarn.  This stuff is so soft and lovely to have near sensitive skin like the neck and face.  It's 100% baby alpaca, and one skein of this is all you need to make my brand new "Winter Butterfly Cowl."  (You could get a standard sized Clara Cowl out of it too, if you like.)  If you don't have knitting needles, or know how to knit, maybe you'd like to get it and just stroke it when you're stressed out.  (Don't judge).  It's in this brown, gingerbready color, which is just so heavenly.  I have a winder and swift now, so if you want me to wind it up before I send it out to you, just say the word.

So, to win, you need to leave a comment.  In your comment, I'd like to hear what your favorite handmade go-to gift is, or what you'd love to receive as a handmade gift, etc.  It could be cookies, hats, bookshelves, whatever.  Let's inspire each other to make some gifts this year.

I'll randomly select a winner next Tuesday, and post who it was at the top of this very post.  Of course, I'll try to contact the winner directly as well. Please be sure to leave your email or some sort of form to get ahold of you to let you know you won.  You wouldn't believe how often people forget that part.  I'll try to get it in the mail ASAP so you can whip up something before Christmas.  Please only enter if you live in the USA, as international shipping just isn't in the budget at this point.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm Blessed

Good morning.  This Monday morning, I'm blessed with coffee.  I'm blessed to still be pregnant.  I was blessed with an incredibly relaxing Thanksgiving weekend.

I've been lazy about blogging, but I tend to attempt to keep first things first.  I'm excited that my very own computer should be coming sometime today, so that means I no longer have to stand in line to write a blog post in my house.  It's exciting news for everyone!  I've got about 15 blog posts written in my head, and I'm excited to let them out and enjoy some clear headed-ness.

I've reached 36 weeks, and it's hard to believe that someone who is about the size Elias was when he was born is residing inside of me.  I'm excited that the minimum goal of 37 weeks hits this Saturday.  I've just so barely entered the "OK, I'm ready to be done with this pregnancy" mode as everything is starting to be sore pretty much all the time.  I'm starting to worry over everything which is normal for me at this point in the pregnancy.  I worry if the baby doesn't move as often as I think she should, and I worry about how she may be turning or positioning herself.  Of course, she starts moving whenever I eat something or just poke her a bit.  She's just getting a bit cramped.

At my last midwife appointment, our little girl was head down, but posterior (meaning face up instead of the traditional face down).  That's not a huge deal because she still has plenty of time to turn, and as this will be my 5th delivery, it's very common for babies to change positions more often right up until labor starts.  I've been doing some stretches recommended, and I'm fairly certain that she's already turned, although I won't know for sure until I see my midwife again.  I very much don't want a difficult labor.  I think I need to be a tad bit more fed up with this pregnancy before I welcome labor with open arms.  Usually by the time it comes, I rejoice over it.

I'm so blessed that we'll be home for Christmas this year.  I'm loving the Christmas decorations slowly being put up around the house.  We'll wait until closer to Solveig's birthday before we get our live tree.  The day of her birth 2 years ago was the last time we got a tree.  (We don't bother getting a tree when we're visiting my family for Christmas.)  It sounds like a fun tradition to get a tree for her birthday.  Hopefully she won't mind.  Hopefully her sister won't pick that exact day to be born.  I have no idea how to plan for Solveig's birthday party.  Should I send out invites if I have to call everyone if I happen to be in labor that day?  What if I go into labor the day before and don't exactly feel like hosting a party?  What if labor starts an hour before the party and I'm trying to just get through it without anyone knowing?  That doesn't sound like fun.  I'm a bit at a loss at what to do about this particular party.  It falls into my "don't plan on anything" time frame.

I'm going off track, but I feel like there's so much to catch up on with you guys!  I wish I could sit over coffee and Mint Milanos with each of you and just talk about life.  This baby has me craving Mint Minlanos pretty much all the time.  It's like the Oreo situation in previous pregnancies.  Apparently this baby has a bit more refined taste.

I'm blessed to get 3 batches of Swedish meatballs in the freezer this weekend for post-baby time.  It was such a lazy weekend, I actually felt like cooking something special.  I got lots cleaned in the upstairs of my house too from scrubbing the bathroom to doing every last stitch of laundry, and that just felt so good!  AND...(wait for it...) 

I cleaned my sewing room.  No, for reals.  An avalanche doesn't happen when you walk past it anymore.
I smile whenever I do laundry now.  (On a technical level, the sewing room is actually the laundry room, but I find I like saying 'sewing room' better than I like saying 'laundry room.')  I am so blessed that Knut was around here and there this weekend, and he got lots done getting wood split and stacked for this winter.  Things were just getting done left and right this weekend and it just felt so good!!

So besides the open tubs of Christmas decorations that are mostly plopped on in the dining room and den, my house is mostly clean right now, and that's a GREAT way to start out the week!  Well, that and getting a new computer which will basically insure that no housework will get done for a few days.

So to finish up on theme:

I'm blessed to have a hubby that gets up with the kids in the morning and start the coffee, and gets everyone started with breakfast so I can wake up slowly. 

I'm blessed to have a mostly clean house for the next 4 seconds.

I'm blessed to have Christmas music playing now around the clock, and since it's after Thanksgiving, there's no guilt.

I'm blessed that my kids are finally eager to play outside all the time.  Man, they have so much fun in the snow!  Strange, that they've been waiting all Summer for it to "cool down" so they could go play.  They are sort of weird that way.

I'm blessed with birds at our bird feeder outside the kitchen window pretty much every daylight moment.  They're just fun.

I'm blessed with Baby Alpaca yarn on my needles.

How has God blessed you this last week!  With the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you all had time to reflect on how blessed each of us is!  Let's pretend we're all sitting around the table, and give some thanks.  What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yarn Along

This week is getting hectic.  This last weekend I was in a stash busting mood, and knit up a simple cowl for myself, and thought I'd share this simple pattern free on this blog yesterday as a fun surprise.  With school, and choir and Knut needing me to do some farm paperwork with him yesterday I just ran out of time.  So I'll have to finish writing up this quickie later this week. 

Since I've been on such a stash busting kick, I rewarded myself by buying more yarn.  ;)  I indulged in some Plymouth Eco Duo for a cardigan for myself that I've been planning for several months.  I've been working really hard at fine tuning my pattern writing skills so that I wouldn't be ripping out my samples so much, and perfecting it as I knit.  I've been trying really hard to write out as much as I can from my brain, and see if the knitting matches.

Normally by this point in a new sweater design, I have ripped out the yoke at least twice.  I'm surprised that this time I haven't had to rip anything out even once, and I'm bracing myself for undoing tons of work down the road in case there's something huge I'm missing.  Either that, or I'm getting better, and I can actually just cast on a project and have it work out.

Either way, this yarn is pretty much like knitting with kitten fur.  It's fun to stroke.  I bet it will pill up like crazy, but it's my crazy indulgence, and I don't feel one bit guilty about it right now.  As soon as I felt it in the yarn store I knew I wanted to just wrap myself up in it.  I should be finishing up Christmas knitting, but this project is my current sanity knitting.  I think my family would appreciate a sane Mommy for Christmas.

I've been able to get about another 2 chapters along in Kristin Lavransdatter, and with the kids, we will finish The Sign of the Beaver tonight.  We have really enjoyed this book, and I think the kids will be bummed when it's done.  Hopefully our next read aloud will be as engaging. 

Joining along again with Ginny for the Yarn Along.  Knitting and reading are good for the soul.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm Blessed

It's Monday, and has been a busy one at that!  This morning I had a midwife appointment, and I really didn't think it wise to take the kids along this time, and I was blessed that Knut was able to stay home with the kids.  I was even more blessed that he was willing to get some school done with them this morning so I wouldn't come home feeling behind.  Plus I think it's good for him to get a hands on peek into our school day.  He always has some good suggestions, and some good sympathy coming my way.

I was so blessed to give my testimony at a Thanksgiving service last night at church.  I'm not that great at public speaking, but I practiced over and over again, and I think it actually went well this time!  I didn't say "Um..." 50 times, so that was a relief.  It's so neat to do a reflection on how God has, and continues to change and renew us...I was very blessed to go through the process of assembling and sharing my story.

Baby is looking good.  Having a healthy pregnancy is definitely a blessing!

I got a "free meal" coupon in the mail today from one of my friends in this cute card.  She told me to call her and enter code: SOONTOBEMOTHEROF5 and she'll bring us supper if I'm feeling not quite up to cooking as we draw to the end of this pregnancy.  Friends are awesome.

I've been blessed with some good sleep...some of the time.  Pregnancy insomnia has kicked in, and I've had a few very late nights.  My mind just starts running around 11pm, and I have trouble turning it off.  Last night around 9:30 I told Knut I was feeling really tired.  He told me to go to bed quick before I got my usual second wind.  I'm glad I followed his advice, because I slept until 7:30 the next morning.  I was so in need of a night like that!

I'll keep it short today, but I have some good posts and pictures planned for this week.  It's getting tougher to get computer time to myself as Knut has been home more, and the older kids are doing more work on the computer.  I now have to stand in line for a turn, and usually get my turn at very weird times.  I'm very thankful that my pattern writing hobby has now paid for my very own laptop that I don't have to share.  I ordered it online, so it should be here in a week or so.  I'm looking forward to working more efficiently, and whenever I have the time, not just whenever no one else wants it (which is never).  I'm so blessed to be getting one!

As always, please leave a comment and tell us all how God has blessed you this last week!  It's good to share your story, and the grace given to each of us.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Teacher Notes

As I posted before, we had a great week of school and I'm giddy about it.  After not feeling so well, I feel like I'm back on board, and the kids are so anxious to be as well.

This last Sunday, a lady at church who is back from the mission field with her family for an extended leave, asked me how homeschooling was going.  When they were in Africa, she homeschooled, but here in the states her kids have other arrangements.  Anyway, I didn't think I was too down about how it was going, but she read between all the lines, and told me she was going to be praying for me.  I didn't realize she meant right then, because she walked me into an empty room in the church, and we sat down together and she prayed over me right then and there.  She asked me what I wanted her specifically to pray for, and I told her I really wanted prayer for more personal discipline in my own life.   She prayed for me then, than gave me her cell phone number and told me to text her when I needed prayer throughout the week, and she would stop what she was doing and pray for me.

All I can say, is what a great way to start off the week.  First off, Monday was a successful day, and then Monday afternoon I spent nap time writing out their assignment pages for the rest of the week.  That way if I got distracted, their work was written there.  I intend on doing this every week because the kids thrive so much on this method, but I've been too scatterbrained to get it done.  So everyday they have enjoyed crossing things off my list, and will let me know after they finish their independent reading that "Mom, I just have spelling left with you and I'm done."

All the subjects that we've been doing good on have continued to do well, but the subjects that I haven't been pushing as much as I should have been going so much better this week.  Silje and I spent a lot of time on language arts, which was so needed.  She struggles in the details and we've been working on dictation, spelling and basic punctuation.  Her cursive continues to be beautiful, and I'm about to transition her to assigning all of her work in cursive.

David has been so immersed in memory work and has surprised himself at all he can fit in his brain.  Did I mention this last Sunday he was the first student in his class who was able to memorize all the books of the Old Testament?  I think memorizing is his favorite thing these days and I plan to harness that as much as I can. 

He's also started assigned independent reading this week, which he was really nervous about.  Normally I have him read aloud next to me, as I help him track the words.  He knows a word if you point to it, but he gets overwhelmed looking even at a whole sentence and will say he can't do it.  I've been slowly working to have him track the words himself, and just take one word at a time.  The idea of sitting and reading a whole book (his favorites are the Adventures of Little Bear books) without help was so intimidating for him, and this week he has done just that every single day.  He can read books harder than Little Bear when I'm standing next to him, but he still enjoys them so much, and I really want him to get in the habit of sitting with a book and reading the words with enjoyment.  Through the whole week, only once did he come to me to help him with a word.  As soon as Knut walks in the door, David can't wait to tell him what he read all by himself.

I'm working on transitioning him to do the same thing in math as well.  He always asks me to read him the word problems, and I know he knows how to read it.  He knows every one of those words, but seeing them strung together intimidates him.  So we've been transitioning to him doing more and more of this independent problem solving, taking a deep breath and just reading one word at a time.  I think it may be possible that by next week he'll be coming to me with actual math problems instead of reading problems during math.

We got all caught up in history, and have been able to broaden out all the things we can talk about there, and not just cross it off the list.  We've been spending so much time on the age of Exploration in history, and the discovery of the Americas.  I'm hopeful to do some really meaningful Thanksgiving lessons this next week, now that the kids have a bit more of a context to all that was going on in that time in history.

The biggest struggle I see right now, is trying to motivate equally both Silje and David.  It seems that these 2 siblings, only 15 months apart in age, but 2 school years apart have this habit that if one of them is doing well, the other one isn't.  If one of them is taking initive, the other isn't.  If one of them is thriving, the other is failing.  The negativity does not lay just on one child.  They take turns pretty routinely and sometimes even multiple times a day, although it's most noticeable when one of them takes a run at sulking for a week or two.  I wish so much that both of them could just once thrive at the same time. 

Those are the things Knut and I discuss after the kids go to bed.  How do we get both Silje and David doing well at the same time?  I have some more talks, some visuals, and some other motivational activities planned for the next few weeks.  I hate seeing one climb a mountain and the other sulk in the corner.  The theme to David's sulking is usually "Silje gets to do everything and I'm not as smart as her, and I have to work too hard.  Everything is hard for me.  Everything is easy for her."  Silje's sulking is usually to the tune of "I've done that for years, in fact, I did that yesterday and no one applauded me then.  I do that better than David does, and no one notices that."

I'm hoping to come up with some goals for each of the kids and write them for the kids where they can see them right next to their name.  I want them to come up with some goals as well, and really embrace the idea of working towards something. I want them to see that they're running different races.  They each have their struggles and the things they need to work on, and what is important is that they run the race set before them, and not the race set before the other child.  I want to get them in a habit of cheering each other on in reaching their goals.

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  It really would have been a better post with some inspirational pictures.  I'll have to work on that for next time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Yarn Along

Forgive the late night picture lighting again.  I wanted to finish up the little wool soaker before I snapped the picture.  It's been my handwork when I'm sitting in Elias' room waiting for him to fall asleep at nap time.  When I'm not there, he gets up and plays and never sleeps, and he's a bear to deal with when he doesn't sleep.  So I sit in there for anywhere from 5-45 minutes every afternoon as he looks bored in his bed.  15 minutes might be a good guess at some sort of average.

I used my Buttercup Soaker pattern, which I notice very plainly was written B.K. (Before Katherine, my tech editor).  I had this pattern tested, but never tech edited, and there were several things in there that I noticed were of the standard I have set for myself now.  Still, I think anyone familiar with knitting can navigate it.  It's been reviewed well, so that has to count for something. 

I made a size small for our little one due in 6 weeks.  The rainbow yarn leftovers has been in my scrap bin for ages, and I used it all up before I got to the leg bands, so those ended up an ivory color. I may put some ivory embroidery on the bum just to make it look more "planned" that way.  I'm going through some major yarn stash purging these days.  I want this yarn used up!

I've been a bit lost in knitting projects ever since I finished the Clarity cardigan.  I really enjoyed that knit, and the endless stockinette stitch that I could take anywhere and work on anytime.  It was so peaceful to knit, and finishing it was like finishing a good book.  Of course you want to get to the end, but it's also a bit sad because you start to miss hearing what's going on with the characters.

I suppose I've never compared my knitting to a book like that, but that's the exact feeling I'm going through.  I miss that yarn. I miss that pattern.  I don't miss the sweater though.  I'm wearing it all the time. 

I've had 2 more patterns in the queue to work on, one being a shawl using that brown alpaca yarn in the photo.  My local yarn store gave it to me because a local yarn "grower" (is that the right term?) supplies them with this lovely yarn, and they thought if they could get some local yarn and a local designer working together, magic things could happen.

Don't get me wrong, I love this yarn to pieces.  However, working on a shawl design as requested hasn't been as easy as I'd hoped.  I've gone through nearly 10 sketches, and I have knit up over 4 swatches, and none of them seem to fit this yarn in the way I had imagined.  It's so earthy and soft and wholesome...I just want a design that would fit those characteristics, and I just haven't found it.  Plus, I'm in no mood to be doing constantly-thinking-knitting these days.  I miss my hours of stockinette stitch.

So as a hopeful remedy, I've picked up another design that I wasn't planning on working on until way after Christmas.  (Hence, the pink lace weight Madelinetosh yarn in the photo.)  Seriously, I should be doing Christmas knitting instead.  However, this design has been sketched swatched, number crunched, and just waiting to be cast on for over 2 months.  It has tons of mindless knitting to it, and I just thought maybe I could sneak ahead just a little to this project.  I need that therapy these days.  Maybe I'll pick up my fair isle/charted Christmas knitting next week.

I'm very proud of myself that as I have actually made time for some more Kristin Lavransdatter.  I still love this trilogy, and am in the middle of the second book.  I was worried when we returned from vacation this Summer that I wouldn't ever have time for it, and I got so distracted that it wasn't ever finished.

The characters drew me back in, though, and I'm enjoying the depth of this writing so much, once again.  I've only managed  to find time for about 2 chapters in the last week, but that's still something!  I've needed a bit of literature back in my life, and I feel all the better for it.  The characters in this book are so incredibly real and human, it's stunning.  It's beautiful art.  No wonder it won a Nobel.

For all who found my blog through Ginny and her wonderful Yarn Along, thanks for stopping by!  For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, you can always click on this link, and see Ginny's beautiful blog and her list of other bloggers who are chatting today about what they are knitting and reading.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm Blessed

 4th birthday party for our growing-taller-by the-minute Elias.  His "real" birthday isn't until Thursday, but it worked out better this weekend.

Colder weather bringing constant fire.

First ski of the season in the yard.  He didn't wait a moment, and it didn't bother him a bit that the grass was still poking through quite a bit.

A morning spent on puzzles.

This week we were blessed by a visit from my brother.  He flew up from California for the long weekend.  He's a spoiling kind of uncle (I'm not sure if there's another kind) so the kids look forward to his visits quite a bit.  We celebrated Elias' birthday while he was here.  

I finished up doing the big winter/baby prep of all the kids' clothes.  Elias now has all 4T clothes in his drawers, and as I was folding them, I was thinking "he's going to be swimming in these for at least another month!"  However, that's proving to be untrue.  Look at that shirt on him.  

Knut commented the other day as he was helping David clean up his room that David's pants aren't that smaller than mine.  It's true, he's up to my shoulders now.  I'm so blessed they're growing, but I feel this daily reminder that it's all going by so fast.

Speaking of growing up, Silje and I had another late night talk.  She's coming to me so much these days, and it brings me to tears how blessed I am as a mother that she continues to come to me with things on her mind.  She still has had the frustrated or overwhelmed feeling, and as I listened to her, it dawned on me that Knut and I try to provide alone time for each other without the kids, but most of Silje's activities are with her siblings or other kids.  

You see, sometimes she would complain and I would focus on teaching her contentment, and I wasn't hearing that she's growing up and her needs are changing too.  So I listened to her for awhile as we were snuggling in front of the fireplace.  She doesn't get much alone time without someone around, and when I really listened, it seemed that's what she's craving.  So after Knut, Silje and I talking about it, we decided to raise her bedtime to 9pm, so after all the little kids are in bed she can stay up and read and just wind down from the day in some peace.  It seemed like such an easy fix.  I can't believe I didn't see it before. 

Knut and I are also pretty close to saying "yes" to a few barn cats this Spring.  She gave me a pretty good argument, and I know she really, really wants some more animals around here.  I think having some kitties to play with would draw her outside and into nature more as well, which I think is good for her.

Even though it's mentioned last, I'm SO BLESSED to be past my cold!  I'm feeling 100% better in the sickness area, although the 3rd trimester discomfort has sunk in.  Still, I'm planning meals again with my clear head.  School has been going fantastic, which I'm so giddy to report.  I feel like this big, stuffy, fog has lifted from my head and I'm able to speak without hurting, and breathe without hurting, and I'm not going through 250 tissues a day anymore.  

My cold lasted weeks and it was so difficult to deal with along with all the kids and household responsibility, and school responsibilities.  I feel once again on top of things from laundry to meal planning to school to dishes.  Thank you, Jesus for good health!  It makes everything better!  We went from the stress of harvest straight to the stress of "Mom's sick" and for the first time in months, I feel like we're back to some sort of normal.  

Well, at least for a few weeks.  If you can believe it, I've reached 34 weeks.  (Reminder, previous pregnancies have gone to 40, 37, 36, and 39 weeks.)  This baby isn't too far off.  I'm so blessed to have such an amazing pregnancy this time around.  I do feel prepared for this baby, or at least I think I'll feel ready in about another month.  

When I wasn't feeling well, I just about completely wiped out my freezer meal stash intended for after baby was born.  Fortunately, I've been blessed with energy and gumption to remedy that situation.  I have a big freezer meal week planned.

I love this time of year.  I love the constant fire in the fireplace.  I love the smells in the kitchen of pumpkin bread and apple pie.  I love the kids running outside at the thinnest layer of snow.  Ironically, they much prefer playing outside in the cold to playing outside in the Summer.  I have never quite figured that out.

I love that Thanksgiving is coming up.  I love that I get to make pumpkin pie this year for dinner, as it's one of my favorites.  I love how it's putting all these thankful posts on my Facebook feed instead of angry election posts.  We are all so blessed.

How has God blessed you this last week?  You can be less scatterbrained than me in your response, but I just love reading how God is meeting each of our needs in his own way.  Please share!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Teacher Notes

As I draw closer to the end of this pregnancy, I find myself struggling to reign in frustrations and gauge how kindly I'm communicating with others.  It's only natural, I suppose, but sometimes we need to hand our "natural" over to the Lord.

My frustrations come from ever so slight questioning by loved ones on whether or not we should be homeschooling.  They're so well intentioned, I'm certain.  My frustration isn't so much with the individuals, but with the whole philosophy against homeschooling that seems to permeate our culture.  I would file under that category:

-The priority of friends over academics.  Yes, both are important, I won't deny that.  However, is it right to say that hanging out with friends is more important than a good education?  What about the priority of family?  Families haven't been doing such a great job in our country lately, which is why many public school teachers feel that they must fill in the gaps so that at least someone is looking after this child and teaching them about things that used to be the roll of the parents.  I've heard numerous teachers complain about this.  As schools try to reach out to fill the gap, parents step back even further, and do whatever the school wants them to do because "they're the experts" as I'll rant about later. 

When it comes to these 3 items, I would hope our family would prioritize them as: family, education, friends.  Maybe education is tied with family, I don't know.  Those 2 kind of mesh together at home as they are not separate.  At any rate, family/education is over friends.  I'm realizing some people have a problem with that, and feel it is a bit selfish in our part.  Upon reflection of that thought, I can honestly say it doesn't feel selfish.  It feels sacrificial.  I don't know, maybe there is some selfishness in there of wanting to be the one to teach my kids some of these things.  I honestly don't believe that we're doing it for purely selfish reasons, though.

-The assumption that just because my kids are homeschooled, they don't have friends, or they don't spend much time with friends, and all their friends are as sheltered as they are.  I chuckle at that because I feel like my kids see their friends all the time, I wish we could be home more to do more school as we seem to be running around a lot lately, and several of their friends are public schooled.  Sure, some homeschool families cocoon themselves, but I find them to be few and far between.  At least with my experience. 

Really, though, I've learned that comments made about socialization are about the most ill informed that I get, and they've started rolling off my shoulders faster than any other comments.  It's hard to get mad when someone means well, but is educated badly.  You bring up socialization with a homeschooling mom, and you're not going to win that argument.  Not only have they had that argument 1,243 times before, but pretty much all the data and science and logic is with them.  You might get flooded with tons of information that you didn't even want, or she may start laughing uncontrollably.  So don't say I didn't warn you.  

-The idea that public school should oversee homeschoolers to make sure they're doing a good job, or that you need a teaching degree to homeschool.   This one just gets under my skin.  Probably because I read Dumbing Us Down and am a big fan of James Taylor Gatto (the author) who is a retired public school teacher and winner of the "teacher of the year" award a couple of times I believe.  I read that book last year and it totally "ruined" my idea of the roll of public schools.  The fact of the matter is, different states have different regulations for homeschoolers.  Multiple studies have shown that regulations have ZERO effect on how well homeschoolers do.  It does not improve their education, it just lets the state into your home, into your parenting, to regulate how you raise your kids.  Many homeschoolers don't send their kids to school so that they will get a different kind of education, and regulation is there to make sure that they get the exact same kind of education, which defeats the whole purpose.  I'm fortunate enough to live in a state that is pretty friendly to homeschoolers, but I still get comments related to that philosophy. 

I am not anti-public schools, and don't mean to portray that.  It's just, I don't hold public schools as the gold standard in education that we must all strive for.  I don't believe they are the expert in my child.  They may have insight into what is going on, and I've had some very smart teachers advise me out of ruts I've gotten in my own teaching. 

I think the greatest confusion is that homeschool moms are not running traditional classrooms.  Public school teachers do this amazing thing of handling 25-30 students at once, all with different stuff going on at home, all with different gifts and abilities and challenges.  They don't control whether or not that child had Mountain Dew for breakfast or if their parents are involved or not.  Yet they press on and despite having a lot stacked against them, work to get their job done.  Having school teachers in my own family, I know that a ton of their job is running through miles of red tape and test prepping that would make most normal people's head spin. 

That doesn't resemble my job at all.  I work one on one with my students.  I make sure they get a good breakfast, and we stop school and switch gears to do chores or open reading time if they need a break.  I tuck them in bed at night.  I discuss biology with them on the way home from the grocery store.  There's some crazy office romance I have going on with the principal of our homeschool.  We play math games when we're making lunch.  I sure as heck am not qualified to manage a big classroom, but I'm certain I'm qualified to educate my kids.  We're talking about 2 different job descriptions. 

People don't stop and think about that, though.  I wish we could open up our minds and think that all of us should be educators.  You don't need a degree to teach Sunday school.  You don't need a certificate to read a book to a child, and help them sound out words.  I wish every single adult we encounter out there would take the time to look at a child and explain to them what they are doing, and satisfy their bottomless curiosity. I believe every single one of us has something to teach...something to give.  We may not all be classroom managers, but we can all be educators. 

People, don't think that way, though.  They believe only certificated, trained, unionized teachers should do the teaching, and the rest of us should contribute only through our tax dollars to hire more qualified, unionized, certified teachers.  They believe education takes place at a desk, with pencil and paper, with tests and reports. We do teach our kids some things that way, but the longer I've homeschooled, the more my mind has opened up to how much BIGGER education is than that.  That's mainly what the book I mentioned above talks about.

I wish that teacher's unions would stop telling people that teachers are the only qualified people to teach, and I wish our overworked teachers would get flooded with volunteers from the community wanting to read to kids, and mentoring kids so it wasn't all on the shoulders of our teachers.  I wish people knew they had something to give, and you don't have to be an expert to give it. 

I'm sure that would just be disastrous as I'm sure there would be some sort of regulation/red tape as to who could see the kids and read to them, and some sort of volunteer screening.  It would end up just like New York's city homeless shelters who no longer accept food donations because they're unable to monitor the fat, salt, and fiber content of donations.  Charity regulated.  Giving regulated.  Public giving stopped, government financing only.  Sigh.

Along with this exaltation of the public school system, people are always so eager to point out, "While you may be doing a good job homeschooling, some people do a bad job academically with their kids, and some people don't socialize their kids, and their kids end up very messed up, and they end up being the problem of the public school system."  For those teachers who have dealt specifically with those situations, I'm sorry they had to deal with that.  I know it happens.

I am pretty sure, though, (and pretty much every study done on homeschoolers confirms this) that while homeschooling families have produced less than stellar results at times, they produce less -- less stellar results than the public school system in our country.  It happens less often.  Public schools kids have higher dropout rates, lower college entrance rates, and less community involvement as adults than their homeschooling counterparts. 

Now, I don't believe we should run our lives based off of what studies say, but what God has called us to do.  So if God called you to send your kids to public schools, than you better do that, and put your whole heart into it.  Support your kids' education.  That's just it: I don't believe there is a one-size-fits-all way to educate.  Homeschooling may not work for your family, and that's okay!!  Every family should figure out what works best for each of their kids.  God has made the parents the authority of what is best for their kids...not the government, not some blogger, not your next door neighbor.  The parents and the parent alone will have to stand before God on this issue on how they chose to raise their children. 

I don't like public schools telling homeschoolers "you need to do it this way..." as if there were only one right way, and they have the edge on that market.  They are the experts in ONE method of education (the modern/Dewey/classroom kind), but as I have learned, there are several.  Most people looking into homeschooling curricula can relate, and have had their heads spinning within hours at the choices out there.

However, I'm still looking for the reason that public schools are superior, and need to oversee regulate, and direct my work.  If the public schools financially supported our homeschool, I would understand that, but they don't.  It's hard to communicate that without seriously offending my friends who work in the public schools or send their kids to public schools.

And now I need to stop rambling and get some school done...and laundry...and dishes...and probably some cooking.  Hopefully I didn't say something especially moronic today.  I don't have time to proofread anymore.  I apologize in advance for any broad generalizations I may have made, and it's only my reaction to broad generalizations I've heard personally made towards homeschooling.  I think I'll add my old disclaimer for comments on my blog just to be safe:

I don't care if you leave comments disagreeing with me, and I actually enjoy good discussion from multiple points of view.  So don't feel like you're being mean for disagreeing with me because you might have some good information to share.  However, anonymous mud-slinging type of comments aren't allowed.  You can't anonymously post "You're stupid" or something along those lines and not expect me to delete it.  I like to keep my space on the internet bully-free and clean.  So just leave your first name, even if it's fake, and make sure your comment is contributing to the conversation if you feel you must comment.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yarn Along

 Good morning from my front porch! 

Lately, I've been feeling a bit lost as far as what I should be knitting, so I keep plugging away at all these little projects.  It's been too busy for me to do the math preparations for some designs I really want to get out, so in the mean time, I just work off of patterns.  You see, Elias still needs me to sit in his room to insure he actually takes a nap, and I need something quiet to do during these times, and I also need something for my hands when the little ones play in the bathtub.  I'm not good at just sitting.

So I'm working on a rainbow colored Buttercup Soaker for the new baby due next month!  This pattern probably takes longer to make than any other wool soaker patter out there, but it's just so bulletproof, and I just love how easily they go on and off.  I figure taking the time to make one I'd actually use is worth more than 3-4 that I would pick last from the stash. 

I was hoping to use up this yarn, (just a cheap 100% wool from somewhere) because it always pools badly, no matter what the project.  I figured the linen stitch in this one would prevent that a bit, though it still stubbornly tries in places.  Pooling looks cool in the linen stitch, though!

For books, we're looking at 2 wonderful books just sent to me by an old friend of mine in Norway.  She also sent a crazy amount of Norwegian "melkesjokolade" and other goodies for the kids.  This isn't all the chocolate, simply all that's left

One book has these vibrant pictures of Norway that our whole family has been enjoying immensely, and the kids are now bugging us constantly about "when can we go to Norway?!?" as if it were just down the road.  She also sent a book on London that she bought when she was on vacation there.  I was so flattered that when she was on vacation, she thought: "O, I bet Gretchen's kids would like this book!  There's some great history in it!" 

I have amazing friends.  Seriously.

For those wanting to get some more knitting and reading inspiration, I strongly recommend you head over to Ginny's blog for her weekly "Yarn Along" get together.  There are so many neat things over there.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Random Tuesday

I woke up this morning being able to breathe through my nose AND my mouth.  It was quite exciting.  I felt so rested.  Then I looked around.

I was gone all day Saturday at the yarn store party.  I don't clean on Sunday.  Not because I can't, or I fear that God will strike me down if I do.  It's because I feel Sunday rest is a gift, and I'm not about to give that gift away.  So I took a nap and went to Knut's grandma's birthday party.

 (This is the smiliest, most happy Eeyore you've ever met.  Although, she kept pushing the hood back, and looked more like "Boo" from "Monster's Inc."  Her personality fit that part better anyway.)

Yesterday was another no-chore day as we were running errands pretty much all day long.  Today I was excited that we could spend it all day at home, but I see we have to go to "the barn" to vote and then the kids have choir practice.

Yes, our voting place is a barn.  I might get in trouble for putting it like that.  It used to be a barn, and now it's converted to something else.  However, I do pass sheep and chickens and such to go inside the old barn so that has to count for something.

I'm not sure if it's nesting, or just the extreme dislike of seeing my house like this, or the fact I have company coming this next weekend and throwing a birthday party for Elias, but in any case, this morning is consisting of cleaning like a madwoman, as I look over my kids' do their schoolwork.

We got a dresser for all the baby clothes, in a lucky situation where a friend of mine was getting rid of one, and it suits our needs just perfectly.  However, I can't help Knut carry it upstairs, and it's too big for him to maneuver himself, so it's in our kitchen right now.  I'm tempted to start washing baby clothes anyway, and fill the drawers upstairs until he gets around to inviting someone over to help him carry it upstairs.

I need to wash newborn diapers.  I need to organize the boy's closet and move all the baby girl clothes out of there and into the newly made space in the girls' closet.  It may sound like a quick task, but sometimes I feel like managing all 4 (soon to be 5) kids' clothes is my part time job.  Every couple of months, someone hits a spurt and needs all their clothes packed up and put away, and new clothes brought out, washed and put away.  However, sizing is never across the board, so sometimes one kid is wearing 3T pants, but 4T shirts, and 2T underwear all at the same time.  So I'm constantly in and out of those sizes...and that's just one kid!

I'm rambling.  I'm sorry.  I'll go back to cleaning.  I need to get to the bathrooms today too...and perhaps vacuuming.  That would make me feel better.  The boys need haircuts and baths tonight.  Sorry, I rambled again.

There's just a few things on my mind today.

I entered a few Halloween pictures to this post for no reason but fun.

I need to put away/throw away the Halloween candy today.  It's time.

Go Vote.  It's a privilege.  Like Sundays.  You can't just give gifts like that away.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm Blessed

I'm feeling so blessed these days.  So many thing are going on that it feels a bit like a whirlwind.  I hope it settles soon, but looking at my calender for this next week, I'm thinking I'll have to readjust my expectations.

On Saturday, my local yarn store through me a party to celebrate my Knitscene publication.
They had flowers, amazing cupcakes that I guess the owner's daughter made (and who I must hunt down and get her recipes...salted caramel cupcakes, strawberry cheesecake cupcakess, chai cupcakes...), and people came from even an hour away to have me sign their copy of the magazine.  I've never seen the shop so packed, and I couldn't believe so many people came.  My old Norwegian teacher from high school came, sat by me for a few hours because she was just so proud of me, and she doesn't even knit.  It was so very sweet.  I can't believe she still remembers me, but I guess since she was also my mom's teacher, as well as my brother's, she's had multiple exposures to our family.  I met some new people too, and it was just so fun to learn about each one of them.  I wish I had more time to talk with everyone.

This is me knitting at the party, though it doesn't look busy right then!  My friend, Sheila, stole my camera and took a few of pictures at the party since I forgot.  Thanks Shelia!  Of course I brought a knitting project along for during the lulls.  I didn't get nearly as much done as I thought I would.

The day before, I released a new self published pattern so I had another pattern to bring to the yarn store party, and it has really taken off.  I mean, it's about twice as popular on Ravelry in the last weekend as my next popular pattern has been since it was released about a year ago.  I'm overwhelmed.  Seriously overwhelmed and every sale feels like this amazing compliment.

How else have I been blessed this week?  Let me think of something non-knitting related.  Knut and I finally got our post-harvest date.  I ordered steak with served with a bacon-butter sauce.  There was broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes on the side so that makes it ok, right?  It was amazing.  I still dream of it.  I apologized to Knut for clogging his baby's arteries before she was even born.  He was convinced it was good for her.

I'm still fighting my cold, but today I see my midwife, and I'm hoping she'll be full of suggestions.  She normally is.  I get to bring all 4 kids along to my appointment today, so if you're reading this you could say a little prayer for me.  I've brought them all along before, and they actually did quite well.  She has a little play area set up for them, and I usually bring some snacks.  She doesn't mind, but I seem to cut our talk short when all the kids are there.  None of that is talking about blessings, though, so let me think.  I'm blessed to have a midwife that anticipates kids coming along and doesn't mind.  I'm blessed my older kids are usually a big help.  I blessed to have healthcare available.

As I look ahead in my calender this week, and see piano lessons, election day (and won't we all feel blessed when that's over and we can all be friends again?  Seriously...), church stuff, and my brother visiting from California for Elias' birthday, I know I can't do it all well.  I'm so blessed that I feel God has been supernaturally holding me up through my cold season, and encouraging me every morning.  I've been really blessed reading through Isaiah lately.  I'm taking my time and really seeing a lot for the first time.  I've been blessed to catch a few naps, and have had some really good deep discussions with my older 2 kids lately.  They have the most amazing minds, and I love that they come to me and tell me what is on their minds and just teaching them about life.  I feel so blessed to see my relationship with my kids bloom as we press on this journey.

This next week my prayer is that I can sleep and breathe a little better.  I pray God will continue to wake me up for devotions, because I don't think I'll make it the whole week without crashing otherwise.  I pray the visit with my brother is good.  Even with a full schedule, I don't know exactly what blessings God has in store for me this next week.  I'm eager to find out.

I love reading how each of you has been blessed!  If you want to leave a comment saying how you have been blessed, it would be such an encouragement to me, as well as other readers who stop by.  Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Clarity Cardigan

The Clarity Cardigan pattern is finally done!

This pattern is so very simple, with a double breasted front and stylish cowl neckline. Closure is unique as the buttons are near the shoulders, and the fronts are buttoned in a gathering way to add to the cowl neckline. It’s really very fun to play around with.
Simple pockets using contrasting color yarn are added for some interest and comfort.
You’ll need to know how to:
M1P (for largest 2 sizes only)
as well as the provisional cast on.

For ease of knitting and wear, the cardigan is seamless, worked from the top down in a comfortable raglan sleeve, with the pocket linings and cowl neck added last.

I'm so in love.  I apologize if I just put designing on hold and make myself 2 more of these.  I really want one in gray, and another in deep purple, maybe.  We'll see I guess.  I'm tempted at least.

Thank you to Knut's cousin, Jessica, who graciously modeled for me.  I was trying to think of someone thin like me, and although she is, she's much, much taller than me.  On me, the sleeves actually go to my wrist.  She's so grown up now.

Also, thank you to Katherine, my technical editor.  I hire her to check all my math.  She lets me know things like "According to your pattern, the armhole in the 50" bust size is coming out too large, and the wording in this pocket section should be cleaned up a bit.  You can fix it this way..."  I owe her a debt for continually keeping me from looking stupid.

If you would like a copy of this pattern, it can be purchased for $6 here:

or you can find in on Ravelry, and soon on Craftsy as well.