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Wherein you will find posts with humor, photos, reviews, occasional rants and journalistic entries of interest to me alone but that I hope will touch you, the reader, in some way. I remain sincerely yours,
A Work in Progress

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sewing Class Today!

Usually it is an art class and my friend, who teaches it, was thinking Monet?, Degas?  But then she thought, ok, if the world ends tomorrow and we get left behind, is all the knowledge of the Impressionists going to matter?  Perhaps, something more practical, she thought.  And so, today's class.
She got the idea from Studio Five.  Recycled Mittens!  Kind of a misnomer, as it is old wool sweaters that are getting recycled into fleece with which to make the mittens.  Leiko brought an old fleece jacket to work with for material and off they went, cutting out the pattern.

Next, they took turns at the sewing machine.  This is a really great project for those of us who don't really like involved projects. :)
There is a video of the process here.  I tried to embed it but I couldn't, sorry.


These are only the mock up's so they are have unfinished edges and such, but now that we know how to do them we are good to go!  Off to the attic to find some old wool sweaters and fleece stuff to play with.

Our favorite beginning sewing book


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Self Basting


Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Spot

In a home with little room, it is a struggle to find a personal space.  One little corner of your world where your stuff lives and stays, handy to reach and comfortingly there.  My "stuff" is a small but important stack of books, my Bible and devotional, my reading glasses, a lip balm, my favorite lotion and my notebook and pens.
This is my spot.  My space.  My favorite place in the whole house.

The chair is threadbare now, concealed in a throw over the top.  The arms show scars from cats sharpening their claws on it, I keep meaning to sew a patch on.  Underneath it's cushions have been found spare change, Cheerios, an earring or two, knitting needles, stitch markers and shredded tissue.  Stains from coffee   spills and red wine, barely discernible, are there.  But is is integral to my "spot".  I want no other chair. 

The window too, has seen better days.  There is a crack in one pane and a yellow puffy sealer in all the edges.  There is medical tape covering a space to the outside where the window pane has slid down.  But it is this window that has given me such joy.  Here in my spot I have watched the birds come to the feeders and the water and the suet.  Here I have watched my children play.  Here I have watched friends, family, UPS and the postman come up the driveway.  Here I have sat watching for my beloved to come home.  Out of my window I watch the seasons change and the years go by. 

Here it is that I sat, in this very chair and nursed my children.  It is here that I sit in the early morning quiet and pray for them and others.  Here, at my right hand, is my journal, kept sporadically but for many years.
Here I have read alone and read aloud uncountable hours.  Here I watched a plane hit the Twin Towers and sat in shock for a week, unable to take my eyes off the footage in disbelief at a world gone mad.  Here I have sat in prayers of gratitude and petition, in tears of joy and those of sorrow.  Here I have sat beaming with happiness and here I have sat, head in hands in frustration and despair. Here I have watched our children grow and here I will be when they are gone.

And when there is no longer a struggle to find personal space, when the children are grown and gone, this will remain, my spot.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Five Question Friday

1. Have you ever hit an animal with your vehicle?
Wow, that one takes me back.  Yes.  Once.  I was heading to work and a cat ran in front of me.  I did actually check to make sure a car wasn't behind me and slammed on the brakes.  It was raining and the next thing I knew, I was in an inverted position on the side of the road on top of a small tree.  Worse, I had hit the dang cat anyway.  So I left the car and went looking for the cat, I don't know who was more muddy and bedraggled when I found it but it very clearly needed a vet.  I was heartbroken to have injured it and I went knocking on doors with the cat wrapped up in my coat in my arms.  Found the owners and they said, "Leave it on the back steps, we have to go somewhere."  And off they went.  "Over my dead body", thought I.  Next I went down the road to a friends house, big guy named Hoss and asked for help getting the car out of the tree and upright.  Bless him and his room mate I was back on the road in 10 minutes, pulling pine needles out of the rear view mirror and on the way to a local vet.  When I explained what happened and my opinion of the owners, they agreed and assured me they would take care of it and find it a proper home.  Gratefully, I went to work, a little late. I actually have a way funnier story about helping an animal someone else hit in front of me, but I'll save that for another day.

2. When you see a string on your clothes do you pull it off or cut if off?
Pull and only resort to scissors if my clothes are unraveling.
3. Did you have your own room or share a room when you were young?
Both.  Mostly I shared with my sister on and off for years.  Sometimes my parents rented out rooms for extra cash and we would share again.  Never had a problem living with my sister.
4. Would you rather wear the same thing for the rest of your life or eat the same thing for the rest of your life?
Too funny, I already pretty much wear the same thing and I am fine with it.  My favorite jeans and my black cardigan.

5. What was your favorite TV show as a child?
I don't know really, we didn't watch a lot of TV.  We loved the Disney Sunday night movies and The Banana Splits and the Monkees.  When Battlestar Galactica came out my sister and I were riveted.  I had the bubble gum card stickers all over my headboard. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fatherly Advice, Round Two, Guest Blogged by My Husband

So Jenna and I just got back from a bottle and can recycling run.  When we got home she said, "Hey Dad, guess what?".  There must have been an 'I'm gonna guess something' look on my face because she followed it up quickly with, "Never mind, don't guess anything!".  Then she explained how she had gotten the recycling idea last night at bed time and, not wanting to forget, she had written it down using the symbol for recycle because she didn't know how to spell the word.  Then she described how she had, not wanting to lose the note and not having any pockets in her PJ's, tucked the note into her pants and gone to sleep.  In the morning as she woke up and rolled over she felt and heard a crinkling and, reaching into her pants, came out with a note which she promptly read.

 I told her that I never would have guessed any of that.  I asked her if she had, at any moment before she remembered, wondered who had written a note and stuck it in her pants while she slept.  She deftly avoided the question by stating that she recognized the handwriting!

Wasn't it wonderful, she thought, how she had carefully protected her idea and it was able to come to pass.

The moral of the story, I informed her, is that if something is important to you...keep it in your pants.  This is the kind of fatherly teaching that sort of makes me yearn for a man-child.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Looking Forward to Ancients

I am really excited to start a new history rotation with Jenna.  We are finally back in Ancients and I am excited.  Our primary curriculum is going to be Mystery of History.  We used it for our Logic Stage rotation with Rowan and loved it.  Best of all is that I finally and for the first time, get to use one of my treasures.

Olive Beaupre Miller's, A Picturesque Tale of Progress.

It is a treasure for many reasons, not the least of which is that is the companion series to the books I grew up with, My Book House.  I can't begin to tell you the hours I spent reading those books or the memories I have of my mother reading them to us.  I remember each book, each story, each picture. 

Imagine my delight to come across a mention of a whole series I had never known about and for history!  My passion!  We will be using it as our chosen "spine".  The books which give us a nice chronological overview as we go through the Mystery of History and the living books I have chosen to go deeper into the time period.

When I first heard of it I immediately set off in search of a set for my own.  I found one fairly quickly at a local used bookstore, but it was incredibly overpriced at $175 and I held off.  My bargain book hunting skills have been honed to a fine point over my years as both a collector and a home-schooler and a short while later they were in my hands only $60 out of pocket. 9th printing, 1955, mint condition.

We will only be using the first four volumes for Ancients.  Each book is richly illustrated with many explanations in small print and a summary of each book is at it's end.  Like most of my favorite resources, these include Biblical history in it's time period along with the rest of the known world.  The index of each volume as well as the 9th Index Volume are helpful in lining up each book with your chosen curriculum.  While Jenna is more than capable of reading them on her own, I look forward greatly to doing these as "read alouds". 

Beginnings I goes from 150,000 years ago to Tutankhamen and a short paragraph introducing the Persian conquest.

Beginnings II takes us from about 5000 BC Babylon to the Fall of Jerusalem

Conquests I tells us the story of Greece.  It begins in the Mediterranean World around 1500 BC and takes us through to 323 BC and the Empire of Alexander the Great .

Conquests II teaches us of  Rome from about 750 BC through the missionary travels of Paul til about 62 AD.

Here is a close up  of several pages.  The writing is wonderful, the illustrations rich, the explanations enriching.  I love just holding these books in my hands.

Mrs. Miller was a woman after my own heart.  In her own words, here is her reason behind the books.

"I myself emerged from high school and college with only a dry collection of dates, a jumbled memory of many apparently meaningless wars, and a fragmentary, disconnected knowledge of a very few periods in history, through which I could follow no continuous thread....history had never been presented to me as though it concerned human beings whose lives were more full of human interest, of tragedy, comedy, romance, and great adventure than those of the hero in any novel. So I...determined not only to get for myself a connected and general view of history, but to make that history alive in my own imagination. For years I pursued this work as a hobby...[until] at last came my opportunity to give children what I myself had wanted from childhood on--a picturesque and living history of the world from the Stone Age to the beginnings of modern times.... To bring history to life for children, to present to them a fascinating historical panorama, to let them travel up the path of time with the men and women who had made history--that was my purpose in writing A PICTURESQUE TALE OF PROGRESS."


Sunday, February 14, 2010



What Love Means to Me or Am I Nuts or is He?

I am sick.  I am rarely sick.  I feel like my head is about to explode.  My dear solicitous  husband sweetly tells me to stay in bed and rest and I gratefully lay my aching head back down on my pillow.

Several minutes later I become aware that someone is breathing on my face.  Opening my eyes, the dog is eyeballing me with urgency in her eyes.  Ignoring her, I turn over.  Then the cat walked up my body and over my head and sat, purring, nose to nose with me.  Sighing, I got up to get some ibuprofen.  I went downstairs and there were Rowan and my dear husband, each at a computer.  The birdcage was still covered, the fish tanks still off the guinea pigs squeaking for food and the cats frantic.

I got cranky.  I said, "I can't believe you would tell me to take care of myself and then NOT take care of anything that needed to be done?  How can I take care of myself if I can't be assured that everything else will be taken care of?"  He says, "you just like being angry sometimes"
As if it were somehow that I had looked for a reason to be cranky. So I fed all the animals, did the dishes, took ibuprofen, straightened up the mess on the floor and said nothing.  (notice that no one jumped up saying, :let me get that for you dear?)

Giving up entirely on going back to sleep, I got a cup of coffee and sat to read my email.

He comes over holding a card in his hand.  I glared at him.  But, I love him and so I took the card and opened it and read it.  And I looked up at my husband and glared at him again.  He sheepishly grinned at me and said, "well, it was funny yesterday".


Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Jennaisms

We were driving home from a family function tonight and all of a sudden we heard a great peal of laughter from the back seat.  Wondering what was funny we waited for her to say something.

Done laughing, Jenna says, "Sorry, thought bubble".


A Review of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Lightning Thief

My 9 year old and I are always certain the movie is not going to be the book. 
It makes our viewing easier with such small expectations. :D 
For instance, we loved Spiderwick and Inkheart, whereas Rowan hated them.
So our opinion is greatly less harsh than Rowan's. 

The 13 year old perfectionist has spent every waking moment since the movie either picking it to shreds or explaining what was supposed to happen to my dh, the only one who has not read the series at least 3 times.

Sean Bean, King of the Gods.  Enough said. The man is a god.
Percy was perfect, Logan was an excellent choice
Grover was, IMHO, dead on and everything he did was in keeping with being a satyr, but it was entirely retarded turning the Lotus Blossom into an adult themed casino.  Plus, nitpicking again, he was not black.  While being a satyr is, in and of itself, "suggestive", the whole disco pimp crap was stupid and needless.
Chiron looked magnificent, I was pleasantly surprised with Pierce Brosnan in the role.
Medusa in her Matrix outfit was fun.  Gabe was good as was Sally in their miniscule roles.
The effects were pretty great, the score was good and the cinematography decent.

Where to being? lol
Camp Half Blood, the only other place besides Hogwarts I have ever wanted to be, was all wrong.  They didn't even have the Thalia tree.
No Ares, no Clarisse, having Hades with the bolt was ludicrous. 
Persephone?  Do NOT get me started.  Another needless, stupid choice both in character and content.
Athena's daughter with brown hair?  Ok, maybe nitpicking but how many times was the word "blonde" used in the Camp Half Blood chapter?  More than a few I can tell you.
Changing their ages?  Very bad move, Chris Columbus, having done Harry Potter, ought to have known better.
Where will the series go from here?  It had better pick up in the quality department I can tell you that.

Bottom Line: If you knew nothing about the series, you would have enjoyed it bias free and given it 3 or 4 stars.  If you are a devotee of the Rick Riordan series and a fan of Greek Mythology, you will be disappointed.   But you will go see it anyway, because you have to.

3 Stars with qualifying remarks


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February Beachcombing


God Bless Our Friends

And right before a storm too!  What incredible timing. 


Monday, February 8, 2010

A Day in the Life

It's Monday morning.  It is bright and sunny and cold and the stove is playing catch-up from being banked overnight.  Jenna is putting away the silverware in the dishwasher.  Mike is singing a hymn.  Rowan is hastily finishing a chapter of Ann of the Island before doing her chores and I just printed out some pages of Math Mammoth for Jenna's math today.   Rowan's workspace is all ready for her, looks like she even has a classmate for the morning.

Jenna's workspace now faces the back yard and though we have put out feeders for birds out there as well, they don't come yet, except for the crows.
I couldn't get the pole into the frozen ground where I wanted it so it is a bit back in the raised garden bed.
Perhaps I will be able to rearrange the whole back feeding station in the spring and the birds will come.
In the meantime, we do have some wildlife checking out the feeding station out front.....  I hope he doesn't get one of the Bluebirds.  Isn't he gorgeous!

Mike has left to drive a friend with no car to work, not sure where he is going to work today but I have faith that there will be work.  Tonight he and my brother in law are going to go get more wood from Mom and Dad's house, it is cold and there is snow coming in Wednesday.  It would be really nice if it would be enough to make some money on.  (not that Mike would think so)

The girls have done their chores for the most part and are getting dressed for school.  I have no idea what I am going to do for supper yet, perhaps we will get rid of the leftovers and cook fresh tomorrow.  I am encouraging Rowan to get as much work done as possible so she can go on the Teen Winter Retreat without playing catch-up when she gets home.  She is going the 15th-19th to Camp of the Woods with our youth group.  Hoping I can extend a bribe to Jenna to work hard and cheerfully this week with a trip to the cinema pub to see the Lightning Thief this weekend.  We are all dying to see it, I am so excited!!  We have read the series at least 3 times.  Not Mike, but the girls and I.  You just knew you would love a book whose first chapter title was, "In which I accidentally vaporize my Pre-Algebra Teacher".   Jenna got her own set from her grandparents for Christmas and treasures them.

Third Grade is good.  It is the last kind of relaxed year we are going to do before beginning the first of 2 full classic rotations next year.  I love literature based history and living book sciences.  The Wonder Book of Chemistry (not pictured) is fabulous, a favorite for sure.  I am going to pull out the micro-chem box a friend gave us and try to pull off some of the experiments.  The other night Jenna and Mike got out the Super Circuit lab we picked up and experimented with all the projects in the box.   Major goals are memorizing math facts and getting typing down preparatory to more advanced writing next year.   Jenna works fairly independently, half her day is doing that and the other half is assigned reading and read alouds. I teach new math concepts, do writing with her, make sure she isn't falling into bad habits in handwriting, discuss and read from Truthquest American History for Young Students and am here for support. Also not shown are her Truthquest, CLE Math 300, Math Mammoth worksheets and IEW Fables, Myths and Fairytales.

8th grade is going well.  Rowan is doing all BJU dvd's with the exception of Bible (no dvds) and vocabulary. (Vocabulary from Classical Roots)  As sad as I am that the home-school in my head had to be put away, it is going very well.  She seems to thrive on the textbook approach as well as working independently.  I will never regret our WTM classical school for two full rotations but her needs are different now, as her learning style has always been.  BJU is both rigorous and well laid out, each text has the same style and she is learning well with it.  She is even working a year ahead in Spanish, Algebra and Physical Science, all high school courses.  I would really like to do a different writing and lit course from IEW next year but if she would prefer what she is doing than I will be okay with it, I guess. It is actually a great deal of work for me, administratively, more than I had anticipated but it's all good.

Now it is time for my part of the school day, Ro takes a break between classes and we do Bible Study Guide for All Ages together and have a snack.  Then she will go back to her work and Jenna and I will do our read alouds.  Rowan has her laundry going, later I will put in ours and that will be about it for my own chores until supper.  As soon as I am free I will be able to read and work on my own course of self education.  I have a reading list that I am working through, Bible study, journaling and Latin.    Just need to find the things for Rowan's physical science labs this week and I am good to go.


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