Category Archives: Homeschool

Interminable

This has been one of those weeks that seem to go on and on and halfway through, one wonders why it isn’t Friday yet because it seems like a whole week’s worth of work and activity have gone by in just three days. When this happens, I know that it is either Christmastime or it’s May. May, in our lives and in the lives of many people we know, is that month when summer is almost here, but not quite. You can see the end of the school year or the beginning of vacation season, but there are still a hundred and one things that need to be done before any of that can arrive. There are final evaluations, tests, recitals, end of year picnics and parties, not to mention the holidays that occur in May.

For some reason, this year seems worse than other years to me, though I know it must not be because neither one of our boys is playing baseball this season, which is always a huge time suck. I think perhaps this has been an especially draining school year for me. As the boys get older and the content of their work increases in difficulty, it requires more mental and emotional energy to juggle it all. And the lessons are not all academic, either. The major lesson this week: time management. It’s a tricky thing to teach because if someone doesn’t want to learn the easy way, the consequences can be quite hard to swallow. But, as a dear friend of mine likes to say, our job is to be a parent, not a friend.

In the meantime, while things on the school front seem to be dragging on and on, I tend to make up for it with some quick, instant gratification projects that I can (sort of) control. Like cookies.

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These are the shortbread cookies from Bouchon Bakery and they are quite good. They are crumbly and have a nice texture and sparkle from the dusting of sugar that they get right before they are baked. I like these better than my usual shortbread recipe because the dough is easier to roll out. These also use real vanilla beans instead of extract and I like the fancy speckly look they have from the vanilla.

So, what’s the lesson here? Maybe it’s when the going gets tough, bake some cookies. Really, everybody could do with a cookie break every once in awhile. A cookie can make all the difference between a day that seems to drag on and a day that is satisfyingly productive.

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Finished Just in Time

This week, I finished another shawl.

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The yarn is from the March shipment of the Bare Naked Knitspot Club. It’s a lovely fingering weight blend of wool, silk, and lot of other fibers. I loved it. It was nice and bouncy, with just a little shine.

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Frankly, I am surprised that I got this done in less than a month. It was blocked and done on Tuesday, the day before April’s pattern and yarn arrived. This means that, so far, I have kept up and knit all the projects in the club, which is something I was unable to do with the Fall club.

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Funny picture, I know, but it shows off the size of the shawl well. Here’s a more natural look.

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The boys also finished something today.

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They look pretty happy about it, don’t they? They should be; it was a lot of work, especially for the husband, who did all the helping. I was just the support staff on this project. So, we all had some good finishing results this week. Time to celebrate a little, maybe?

Not Snowy Day

Our snowstorm yesterday turned out to be a big disappointment. It started off in a promising way with big, fat snowflakes and an inch or two of wet snow covering most things. However, the day turned out to be like many other snowy days recently: a rainy day. Everyone around here agrees that a rainy day is not nearly as fun as a snow day and, as the day progressed and the snow melted away, I knew I would have to do something.

Sigh. What’s a parent to do?

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Well, we turned it into a rainy day activity day. First, we made lighthouses out of oatmeal and pringle cans. This was supposed to be a model of the famed Alexandrian lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The elder rigged up a light at the top using his snap circuits set.

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Then, we made pipe cleaner animals and set up a little ark scene. I got this little kit on a clearance sale a long time ago and was saving it for a rainy day. Very cute, are they not?

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The boys were not the only ones to indulge in some crafting. I was able to get my mystery shawl blocked. It was a challenge to find enough floor space in my house to spread this out. Can you see what the mystery pattern turned out to be? Tulips!

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Of course, if I knew it was going to be a flowery theme, I might have picked a different yarn color. When the husband saw it, he immediately called them dead tulips because when the shawl is worn, the tulips are hanging upside down. Regardless of the orientation of the tulips, I love the shawl. Th beads add a lovey heft and sparkle to the shawl and helps it to drape wonderfully around the shoulders. You can find the pattern here. It was great fun doing a mystery knit along, and I am sad it is over. In fact, I was so sad that I had to start another shawl.

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This time, I am thinking of spring, with this lovely laceweight alpaca yarn from the Knitspot Fall in Full Color club. Just looking at this color makes me happy. The pattern for this shawl is challenging, with lace on both sides and nupps!

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To counter balance the complicated lace, I had to start a little kid sweater in worsted weight yarn. Actually, I started it about 3 times before I really started it for good. I am hoping this will be a quick knit. That is, if I don’t get distracted by something else.

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Like bread. Harvest Bread from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman. This book has been my bedtime reading lately. I have been finding the recipes highly entertaining, not because they are really funny in any way, but because he gives recipe amounts to make bread on a large scale. If you want a recipe for making 29 loaves of bread, it’s here, right next to the formula for making 2. As much as I would have absolutely Loved making 29 loaves of bread, yesterday, I only made two. It was delicious. Today, I will bake two more. Why? Because there’s room in the freezer and it must be filled.

Who says a rainy (not snowy) day can’t be fun?

Back on Track

This past week has been crazy busy with all kinds of special activities.

We had car races, which involved a variety of emotions ranging from excitement to disappointment to anxiety to joy. It was a veritable roller coaster of an event, the effects of which lingered in our house for a day or two.

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Then we had a hectic couple of days of cooking and cleaning to get ready for our (sort of) annual Chinese New Year dinner party, of which I got absolutely no pictures. All that I have to show for it are these menus, which the elder drafted, and a lot of leftovers in the fridge.

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Yesterday, was a perfect day to go downtown to the aquarium to visit some of the animals. We saw some fun things there, including this skink. Apparently, if this little thing is attacked by his tail, he can detach it and get away. The tail will just grow back.

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Does this sound busy? I haven’t even mentioned the African American Family Art festival that we went to on Saturday or our other weekly sports events.

Today, I am focusing on just getting back on track with our normal schedule of life. School. Tea. Snack breaks. Nap. Knitting. Those are the things I am focusing on today. Oh, and knitting involves beading.

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There were a lot more beads in this bowl when I started. This is the last week of my mystery shawl knit along. Despite all of the crazy activity around here, I have managed to stay on schedule with this project.

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It just looks like a messy blob now, but this time next week, I hope to be blocking. Fun!
That is, if nothing crazy pops up.

Rewards

How can you visit 12 countries in two hours? Well, physically, I am pretty sure it is impossible, but the boys and I managed to do it yesterday at our homeschool group’s annual International Luncheon. Every family studies a country, prepares a display and oral presentation, and brings a food from that country to share with everyone. This kind of event is right up my alley, since I love food of all kinds, and am interested in all kinds of different cultures. This year, I got to be in charge, so I was not able to relax and enjoy it as much as I would have liked, but it was still super fun.

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We represented Israel and it was as much a trip down memory lane for me as it was a research project for them. Twenty years ago, I spent 6 weeks there and those days are, hopefully, etched in my brain forever. The food, the sights, and feelings all came rushing back at me. Especially the food. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the only decent photo I got during the event. I meant to take photos of the chicken and rice dishes that I made, but it was kind of a hectic week, made slightly more hectic when several families came down with the flu (yes, the one that is going around like wildfire) and left me totally and completely in charge. All this is to explain why you are reading a post about homeschool activities instead of the usual FfwD. Well, Long and Slow Apples will have to wait. So will pictures and the recipe for the fabulous chicken I made for the lunch.

Today, I am rewarding myself with a day off. So far, I have gone for a long walk with a friend, done a little shopping, and worked on a new knitting project.

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I think I am going to try to squeeze in a nap as well.