Saturday, December 11, 2010

Looking for Me?

I've moved!

You can find my new posts on Now that the big switch has been completed, regular posts will once again be forthcoming!

Please remember to update any feed readers that you might be using.

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Moving Right Along

It's time to move on to other things. I'm certainly ready. A couple of days needed to go by before I felt right again and by now I don't think much about what happened at the bookstore. I'm reluctant to go into the city on my own again, but I'm sure this trepidation will pass in no time.

I admit that it's surprising how long it took me to move past it. Usually, I spring right back from setbacks, but this one knocked me for a loop. But what's done is done. It helped me to realize that nothing that I or the kids had done had merited his attack. Had we been dancing around him chanting "Evermore, Evermore" we still wouldn't have deserved such intense abuse. My friend said he was a bully and a coward and I think that sums it up very nicely. No one else would go after a woman out alone with her small children. He certainly wouldn't have said those things if my husband or brother had been there (at least not if he had any sense of self-preservation at all).

Speaking of my brother, and moving on to more joyous subjects, he and his unit are back from Iraq! They arrived last Thursday just before the holiday weekend. The armory is about half a mile from my house so I walked there with the kids, pushing the stroller with Henry and a six pack of beer--for Pete. I left early because I didn't know for sure how long it would take us to walk there and by the time we got there I found that I had left pleeeeeennnty early to meet the buses. Still, there were many families there as well as what appeared to be a group or two of volunteers who came to help greet the soldiers. They had everything decorated with flags and music was being piped over some speakers. We waited and waited. My parents arrived so the kids and I waited with them. Finally, the buses pulled up and my brother was one of the first ones off. I didn't think I would be able to tell him apart from the others since, well, they all dress alike, but I could pick him out right away.

We walked over to where they were standing in formation and a general, then the commanding officer, then someone else all took turns saying "Have a nice weekend, relax with your families" before they were dismissed. I was the first one to get to him and gave him a big hug, but he wouldn't rest until he met up with his wife (Really, I can't understand this. Isn't a sister just as good as a pretty wife? ;) ). After we all caught up we just stood around smiling at each other. I have a really nice picture of Pete and his wife, but I haven't asked their permission to post it, so you'll have to do without.

I haven't seen him since because all he wants to do is sleep in his own bed, shower with the door closed, and drink beer (no beer in the desert apparently). He's supposed to call when he's ready for company so I'm guessing he'll be calling around Thanksgiving. It's enough to know he's home and happy.

While we were waiting for the buses, a reporter for our county paper asked if I'd give a quote. I'm obliging, if nothing else, and gamely agreed. The question she asked was how I felt about my brother coming home. I wish I had a better answer than, duh, "Excited." I wonder what she would have said if I'd said, "I feel GREAT! Now that jerk can pay me back that money he owes. I've been waiting to squeeze it out of him ALL YEAR!"

Monday, June 28, 2010


The most shocking and unusual thing happened to me today. Really, I've never experienced anything to equal it. I'm still stunned and I'm not quite sure how to process what happened.

I had the kids out today to take care of some grocery shopping in the city. I thought to swing by a local tea shop to replenish my stash of tea, but the store didn't open for another half hour. To kill some time, I took the kids around the corner to a used bookstore. I wanted to find a specific book on U.S. History and I thought that they might have it. We browsed quickly through the Nature section and then headed back to the History section.

There was one man looking through the general U.S. History already, so I stopped the stroller and stood behind him a bit, trying to scan the titles quickly. After a minute, I tried to see if the books were arranged by author so I could see if the book was there or not--the kids were getting a little rowdy as they tried to entertain Henry into sitting still. I wasn't able to get anywhere, so I asked the man if he knew if the books were arranged by author or not.

He turned around and practically shouted, "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING ME? I think you are so RUDE to come back here with your KIDS. . ." and then proceeded to scold me in the harshest manner for DARING to bring my kids anywhere near him. I was absolutely shocked. My skin in still tingling all over from the encounter and my hands are still shaking. I told Thomas and Anna to go to the front of the store, mainly because I didn't know what this person was going to say next and I had no idea what would come out of my own mouth in the face of such confrontational behavior. They went a little bit away, though not quite far enough for my taste.

I wanted to explain that we were only going to be there for a minute and that I was trying to find a specific book and that then we would leave, but I only stammered a bit before he lit into me with a "No! NO! I'm not interested in anything you have to say, so JUST LEAVE." And of course, he was on a roll, so he didn't stop with that. Somewhere in my head I thought, "There is no reasoning with someone so divorced from common courtesy and feeling for others. Just walk away.", but I kept thinking that there must be something to say to help this man understand that I really wasn't trying to piss him off and that, really, I was only going to impose my kids on him for a minute. He was welcome to the History section for the rest of the day, for all I cared. But I quickly realized that there was nothing to say to anyone like this. He was past reason.

He got what he wanted, in the end. We left and I wondered in a numb manner what the life of someone like that must look like. As we walked back to the car, I told the kids, "Remember the people in the stories who don't like children? That man is one of them. You were a little noisy, perhaps, but it doesn't matter because that is someone who can never be pleased."

I'm still reeling from the encounter. I rarely bring all three kids out on my own because it's simply easier to get our few errands run in the evenings by myself. And I thought it would be ok to go to a big used bookstore with less than mouse-like kids. One spends so much time and energy avoiding being a public nuisance that it comes as something of a shock when it happens anyway.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Under Way

Summer is in full swing now and it's easy to tell because of the sporadic posting. We're outside, walking around the pond, pulling weeds in the garden, and playing in the yard. It takes up most of our time. When I'm finally inside, there's the usual housework to tackle, though the amount I complete is limited with a toddler around.

The other morning I was amazed to find that by 9:30 a.m. I had baked a batch of banana nut muffins and had a couple loaves of bread set to rise from freshly milled flour. I poured my first cup of coffee and looked out the window as I marveled at my productivity. Look at what I had accomplished! And so early! I couldn't figure out why I usually don't seem to manage to do the things that I really want to do. What made all this possible?

I then realized--all three kids were outside. There was no one under my feet and no one demanding immediate attention. There was no one stealthily attacking the computer or table lamp and no one standing on the couch. I was able to be focused and efficient. It was then I realized that I was neither lazy nor unmotivated on a regular day. I was simply overwhelmed! If you remove One Toddler from my home I hit a level of basic functioning. Allow me to take a bow.

Henry is a lot like Thomas was as a toddler. He is full-speed, head-on, faster-faster. He is happiest when he is into Everything and furious when he is not. I think he'll be happier when he's finally able to speak clearly enough for the rest of us to understand. I'll be happier when I can afford to develop a dependence on alcohol. I'm sure a happier Henry is right around the corner but I'm not quite sure that I'll survive until then. If I hadn't had a child like this before I would seriously doubt that a day of sanity would ever come. Thomas is still pretty intense, but at least he doesn't break things any more. At least not on purpose.

In other news, strawberry season is drawing to an end. I've picked about 15 lbs of berries. It's translated into a batch of jam, rhubarb-strawberry sauce, and one poorly executed strawberry pie (ask me why sugar and cornstarch are important). I still have about five pounds of berries waiting to become jam and dessert. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. For now, I'm out of sugar.

The biggest thing occupying my attention lately, apart from the aforementioned toddler, has been homeschool plans. I am a big Planner. I love plans, I love knowing what to expect, I like An Outline. I like to know what things are going to be like. I don't think I'm terribly inflexible, not that anyone thinks they're inflexible, but I like to have a general idea of what MIGHT happen. So, I've been reading a lot about homeschool nuts-and-bolts.

The past few months I've been reading Charlotte Mason's book Home Education. I've read a couple companion books that are written to condense the Home Education book into simple, practical nuggets. I've read blogs and websites about this approach to teaching. I've been hip-deep in writings about Narration, Dictation, Copywork, etc. There are few corners of or I haven't explored.

Anyway, all that to is to say that I've been hearing about some wonderful books lately. It makes me wish the kids and I could read all day. The hardest part is that we can't do it all. We can't read every book on every list and we can't follow every curriculum. For history alone there are many, many books that seem so promising--A Child's History of the World, A Little History of the World, The Story of the World, An Island Story, This Country of Ours. . . How do you choose? Thomas and Anna would listen to me read all day, but how much is too much? I don't want them overwhelmed to the point where they don't remember anything we've read!

Of course, at this point there is little fear of really reading too much. I have a toddler to make sure of that!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Uptown Boot Sock

What is this glory of golden yellow you see? Why it is one of my NEW SOCKS! I'm sure you remember this yarn from earlier, but here it is in it's knitted destiny. It's the Uptown Boot Sock pattern from the book Favorite Socks.

I used Pagewood Farms Denali sock yarn in the colorway Golden. This was a treat to knit. Usually I don't go nuts over how soft a yarn is (Malabrigo? I could take it or leave it.), but I did enjoy how buttery this yarn is.

I loved knitting this pattern. It was a very easy pattern to memorize which made it ideal for travel knitting, if cabling with out a cable needle doesn't faze you. My ONLY complaint, if you could call it that, is that when the foot is being knit, the stitch pattern is on more than half of the stitches. It makes the sock look better, but it meant needing to rearrange the stitches for toe decreases, which I never remembered to do. But the sock was a success and I know I'll love wearing these little rays of sunshine.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Knit Like a Turtle

I've been knitting slowly lately. I think it might be the advent of summer or perhaps it's all of the stress we've been wading through lately, but whatever the reason my knits have been hanging on the needles longer than usual.

Here's a pair of longies I knit for Henry. I didn't even enter this project into Ravelry, if you can believe it. I thought I'd show you here instead. I knit the toddler size of Picky Pants from Little Turtle Knits.

Normally I would shake my head at a $12 pattern, but in this case it is totally worth it. The pattern covers such a wide range of sizes and is so, so, so well written that the designer has earned her fee on this one. She even incorporates a gusset in the crotch of the pants to make this better than the typical longie pattern. I've knit these again and again.

I used Briggs and Little Heritage yarn in the Brown Heather colorway. Can I tell you how much I love Briggs and Little? This is a yarn that knows what wool is meant to be. This is the wooliest wool and I love the affordable price. I'm knitting a sweater for my not inconsiderable frame and it is only costing me $45. It makes me want to burst into song.

I've also just finished a pair of socks. I'd love to show you, but this silly blogging software is being uncooperative. I'll have to try again in another post. I've been considering a switch to a different format. My biggest complaint with this Blogger set up has been that it doesn't allow me to easily respond to your comments. So often I've wanted to send back an email saying, at least, "Thanks for reading and I appreciate your comments!", but there is no straight forward way of accomplishing it. My husband Peter has a blog and uses a format that lets him do this.

With everything going on I don't know that I'll be getting to it soon, but I thought I'd let you know it's been on my radar.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Bookstore

There is a new bookstore open in Hastings.

It's a real hodge podge. The guy is just getting settled in and disorder reigns. But it is loaded with books.

This book, Toads and Frogs, reads amazingly wells. We just found a large toad in our yard two days ago so the interest is high in our house.

I was impressed with how well written this 1942 pamphlet is.

I'm a big fan of Charlotte Mason's book Home Education. Two books that many Charlotte Mason fans recommend are Tanglewood Tales and Wonder Book, both by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I have no idea if the kids will like these books or if they are even old enough for them yet, but I was glad to find this copy on the shelves. I can look through it without having to spend a lot of money ordering it online. I'm sure a free copy could be found on the internet, but I find reading on my computer to be a little tedious. Now, if I had one of those new iPads, it would be easier.

My great-aunt Grace was a school teacher way back in The Day. When she retired, she brought home a couple of the readers she had used in her classroom. She gave them to me when I was a child and I enjoyed reading them. I found one of these Alice and Jerry readers when I was poking around on the shelves. This one was originally published in 1936, but this printing is from 1957. I'll have to check and see how old Aunt Grace's copy is, but it looks identical.

I also found this copy of Editha's Burglar by Frances Hodgson Burnett who also wrote The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. This copy is marked as being printed in 1899.

I also found a couple of children's songbooks. One is called Songs from Childhood from 1927, I think, and the other called The American Singer and the only date I can find in it is from 1948.

There were a couple of other books, but this is the majority of the haul. I was so glad to find these old, obscure books. So many wonderful books have gone out of print and are hard to find and yet I love to use them in our learning.

In other news, my father-in-law continues to do poorly. Please remember him in your prayers. This week will bring an appointment at Mayo in Rochester. We are hoping they have some ideas for treating his cancer. I haven't said much on this blog regarding that situation, but it dominates our thoughts these days. Thank you so much for your prayers.

Monday, May 17, 2010


These are a few of the pictures we took on our outing today, in no particular order.

Here they are, climbing the stone stairs.

Some pretty orchids:

Mr Handsome, with toddler in hand, at least for the moment!

Into the woods:

Peeking out from a mini-cabin:

Taking a rest in the shade, after their walk up the stone stairs.

Here the kids are, smiling in front of some tulips:

Long Past Due

I've been long absent from my blog and I know it.

It started out as a somewhat planned break as my attentions turned to other things, namely my dear father-in-law's struggle with cancer and posting health updates to a website for friends and relatives. My father in law is finally home for a short respite in his treatment. We are praying that he will be well again soon. But, then the planned month slid into two and now I find myself sliding into a third. I'm ready to come back now. I'm putting on my big girl pants and getting back to it.

I spent a month wading through homeschooling curriculum. I spent hours reading through blogs, articles, books, and websites on different products and methods each promising in turn to make my life easy and my child a genius. Awesome. I love it when money can buy easy solutions. At least when there's money to be had.

In any case, I bought books (lots and lots and LOTS of books) and now I'm settling in to go over my list and I'm making plans to get an outline ready for next year. I'll need to browse through our history/geography books and get an idea of the areas we'll be covering.

I have also been planning how we'll be spending our summer. We frequently go for walks through a local park. There are paved paths which wind around a shallow pond and there are many things to see. Last week Anna spotted a baby turtle swimming through the water. Its shell was slightly larger than a quarter so it must have been newly hatched. I have guide books on trees and animal tracks and wildflowers. Thomas and Anna will enjoy looking through them, even if they don't become expert naturalists. I think that this book will be fun for the kids, too.

It might seem like a lot of books, but honestly, Thomas really loves books. He gets most of his ideas and plans and information from books. Most of the time, if I just have the books available he will find them and read them in an afternoon. It makes my job very easy. Except when he gets this Really Great Idea about how he can build a real train and give Henry, Anna, and me rides and how he will be able to use his train to move packages! And he doesn't understand that this is just not something we can help him to do. The time he got into Calvin and Hobbes wasn't so great, either. Hm, or those Peanuts/Charlie Brown comics. Hearing him call Anna a 'Blockhead' was funny the first time, but it got old quickly.

Peter is taking a vacation from the Madhouse this week. We are staying close to home and putting a heavy emphasis on relaxation. Wish us luck. Today we went on a trip to the Arboretum. We had a wonderful time. I packed a lunch and the kids spent most of the day running down the paths shouting, "Really, I'm quite overwhelmed!" and "Mommy, isn't it a GLORIOUS day outside?" and "We could explore and explore every day for a YEAR and never see it all!" I need to stop letting them watch British BBC movies. And I'm definitely nixing the Masterpiece Theatre productions as well. And lest you think that I'm raising Little Lord Fauntleroy and PollyAnna Whittier, you might enjoy knowing they fought with vigor and passion over an empty Almond Extract bottle this afternoon. Ah well. It wasn't as bad as Henry's persistent screams in the van on the drive home.

I'll see if I can find some nice pictures to post of our outing today.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Water Washes All Things Away

I am a lucky girl.

After a year (or more) of working around a washing machine that literally ate holes in our laundry we were finally able to replace it with a HE washer. Hurrah. The up side is that I can retire the delicate bags I had been using to protect our nicer clothes from the jaws of doom. Laundry is much easier when all you have to do is toss it into the machine and let 'er run. It feels weird, but very nice. I'm taking it for granted that the machine is actually cleaning the clothes, though I don't know how this is even possible with such a small amount of water. I use more water to spot clean after embarrassing salsa incidents. But whatever. It line dries before I even have the clothes pins snapped on so it has to be ok.

The drawback to all of this technological luxury is that I have no idea how I'm supposed to get the cloth diapers clean. Let's just say that the "Heavy Soil" setting doesn't even begin to imagine that you'd want it to clean off POOP. The machine sits there like a spoiled debutante with a wrinkled nose and says, "You want me to clean what?" And I say, "Yes, I do, Cupcake! Try again."

Have any of you advice on what it takes to get one of these fancy-dancy washers to clean cloth diapers?

With my old washer, I'd run a shorter load with cold water and then run a longer load with hot water and an extra rinse. That was it. If it was extra toxic, I'd run another short load on hot, minus the dry bag and any other waterproof things. Tonight, with the new machine, I tried a prewash, a regular cycle on warm, and an extra rinse. All this with the "Water Plus" button pushed because the extra water is really necessary with the diapers. The big drawback is that this took nearly TWO HOURS to complete.

Can you help me? Please tell me what you know!

Friday, March 26, 2010

All That Shines

It's too bad, but these pictures really don't do this yarn justice. They may begin to give you an idea, though, of the knitterly joy I have been experiencing these past two weeks. This yellow is absolute glory.

It's soft, which doesn't always impress me, but it feels like I'm knitting with butter or daffodil petals. I was knitting on the patio the other day, watching the kids play, and the color was like medicine. The whole world seems better when you can just soak in some sun and ignore your problems for a while. Of course, now that Henry has figured out how to climb the slide there will be much less relaxing and virtually no knitting from now on, but it was great while it lasted.

I finished the first sock last night but I'm going to save pictures until they are both complete. However, the complete satisfaction that the first sock gave me when I put it on is the very reason that people take the trouble to knit socks in the first place. Happy Day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm a Beginner!

I think it's good for people to be beginners at something from time to time. I don't mean just "trying it out", though that's fine, too, but to begin learning something with the intent to become skilled at it. Cooking, origami, knife-throwing, whatever. It keeps one's mind open and spirit humble to be a student at the feet of an expert. I think it's good for the ego to mess up the perfect attempt.

Six years ago I began knitting in earnest. Apart from learning the basic knit and purl stitch, learning to be a Knitter involves a lot of beginnings. Fair Isle, sweaters, socks, short rows, lace, cables--you name it, there is always a new aspect to explore and new places to 'begin'. To develop a skill you always need to start from the beginning.

This weekend, however, I became a true beginner again and started from square one in a whole new area. At the same time, I kept a promise to myself that I would learn this new skill before I grow old. This weekend I learned to spin. On a spindle.

I remembered what it is like to be an absolute beginner at something. All of one's movements are awkward, pre-planned, and inept. It is a truly humbling experience to start down the road towards one day, hopefully, knowing something. I know that there is going to be a lot of mangled merino between here and my future skeins of glory. Luckily, after so many years of knitted patience, I know my own determination and I know how to learn.

It doesn't look great. I know it looks like something one might pull out of the bathtub drain. But it's a beginning!

Now, what do you guys know about spinning on a wheel vs spinning on a spindle? Because when I get some money together, that could be the next step!

Of course, when one is in the weak, clumsy stages of learning something new, it helps to be reminded of something you're good at.

Pattern: Lyalya Hoodie
Yarn: A bit of this, a bit of that. Mostly Knit Picks, Wool of the Andes in assorted Rainbow Colors

If you're looking for me over on Ravelry, my user name is sarahgraceknits. I'd love to see you over there! I waste waaaaay too much time on that website. Luckily I'm afraid of Facebook so Ravelry gets to be my only big time-suck.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Humble Homemaker

I have a question for all you granola munchers out there.

I used to make yogurt a lot, a tradition which fell by the wayside as soon as I realized that I was expecting my third child. I'm ready to pick it up again, happily, but I have a question about the process that the Internet seems at a loss to answer for me.

In every set of directions I find, they recommend heating the milk to 180 degrees and then cooling the milk to 110 degrees to add the starter. I understand why you would want the temp at a certain point for the starter, but why would one heat the milk to 180 to begin with? If I am using store bought milk I wouldn't need to pasteurize it, so what is the point? I don't get it.

If any of you know why I would need to do this, can you please enlighten me? I would love to know!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Journey of 1000 Blogs Has Led Me Here

There are so many reasons that I love the blogs I read. They provide me with company, comfort, and cohorts. I love the advice I get from the moms, the stories of other families, and the sneaky exploits of other knitters.

This time, The Blogs did not let me down. I was reading Erika over at Redshirt Knitting when she posted about her latest sock. It is an explosion of yellows and oranges, like orange juice for your feet. It is just the thing I always admire, but seldom choose to knit for myself. This time, though, when I saw the storm of sunshiney brightness flash up on my screen I knew that I must knit it. Now.

Let's face it. I live in Minnesota. Like Wisconsin and South Dakota, the winters here are hard, long, and brutally gray. Weeks can go by between sunny days and after a while one's retinas become starved for even a flash of color. Anything but white or steely gray.

On Erika's blog I commented on how much I admired her socks and she kindly replied back that a later commenter had seen this yarn for sale at Borealis Yarns in St Paul. I'd never been there before (Surprising since I've been to nearly every other yarn store in the metro area.) so I jumped at the excuse to go.

Oh my goodness. What a terrific yarn store. They had some yarns that I haven't seen in other Twin Cities yarn stores and a decent selection of colors in the brands that they carried. The staff was helpful and the store was full--FULL, I SAY--of knitters coming and going, sitting and talking the whole time I was there. They had a whole WALL of Jamieson Shetland wool. They must have stocked every color Jamieson makes (this is important because the subtlety of the colors is hidden by a computer monitor and it must be seen in person, in my opinon). There was another wall that was ONLY SOCK YARN. And it was a big wall, too. I can't believe I'd missed this neighborhood shop for SO LONG. Forgive my caps, but I was amazed. I am in the first blush of love.

Anyway, they carried many, many colors from the company that made Erika's sock yarn, but sadly they didn't have the exact color. There was another one that was close and I nearly bought it until I saw this beauty sitting in a tub by the front window.

I think you'll be coming home with me, my pet. You're so pretty. And yellow. Sigh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


This morning I have had three cups of coffee, spent a half hour exercising on the elliptical machine, ran out to the cold, cold garage to retrieve some canning jars and I am still, still tired. I can't get over how tired I am. Soooo, soooo sleepy.

The first among you to suggest that I'm pregnant will get kicked in the shin.

What do you do to wake yourself up when sleep is threatening to take you down?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hair Cut

I think my blog may have hit a new low for interesting content, but I'm going to post anyway. With my favorite blogs, I like to see updates, even if it's just "this is what I made for dinner and this is the color of my socks".

So here is my quasi-interesting post for the day. Last night I got my hair cut. Short. The front of my hair is now chin-length and the back is a bit shorter. The only true significance is that yesterday I had hair that reached nearly to my waist. I had meant to take the obligatory before/after pictures, but my day was thrown off by Anna's ballet class in the morning and a surprise dinner invitation from my parents. Before I knew it I was sitting in the salon chair having my hair removed when I remembered that I was supposed to have taken a picture earlier that day. Oh well. Imagine long, long hair and now imagine short, short hair and you'll just about have it.

My hair had reached the tipping point. I couldn't bear to have it so long because it was becoming my Fourth Child, difficult to manage and in need of thoughtful consideration. Eventually I knew I would find myself on Oprah having a Drastic Makeover with some cosmopolitan hair dresser using words like 'soft layers', 'gentle highlights', and 'backside of an angry squirrel". So The Hair had to go and on my own terms.

I've had the same young woman cut my hair (using the term loosely--for the past two or three years I've only really gone in twice a year or so) for years now so she knows me pretty well. She knows that somewhere in my house there is a blow drier, but that it would take me more than five to ten minutes to lay hands on it. She knows that I'm feeling pretty good about getting regular showers in again now that Henry is getting bigger. She also knows that I have never, ever been skilled in the use of Product.

Ever since I was in middle school in the mid-80s and had an unfortunate incident with a curling iron and Aqua Net which resulted in a failed attempt at poufy bangs I have been beyond reluctant to take on hair styling again. So I don't. Ta-da. I have the mythical "Simplified Morning Routine" that so many woman's magazines promote. It can't get simpler than "Be clean. Now stop." But I digress.

I went to the salon and told my hair cutter that I needed to go shorter. I would leave it up to her as to whether that meant that we would go 'short' or just 'shorter'. The last time I had been in she said that my long hair was really cute so I thought I would leave it to her. Am I still cute with long hair or is it time for a change? I have to wonder how annoying it must be to have someone sit in your chair and say "I have no opinion. I also have no desire to do any hair styling." I did add, though, that if we went short enough that we could donate my hair to Locks of Love.

So that's what we did. We cut off at least 10 inches to send in and another three inches must have gone off in the styling process. I just can't get over how short my hair is now! I'm not bothered by it, though I wish I'd waited until summer. I am unbelievably cold right now!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Statistics Poetry

Peter took Thomas and Anna sledding today. We finally achieved the ideal convergence of warm-ish temperature and snow so they seized on the opportunity and headed to a nearby park. They must have had a thrilling time because I was given two accounts of their morning out at the same time.

Later on I learned that my oldest son is a boy of many talents, one of which includes the writing of poetry.

He discovered my old electric typewriter in the basement and has been hammering out all sorts of messages. It's like living with the young Edward R. Murrow. When he had warmed up from his snowy escapades he went down and typed out this gem:

120 steps to climb the mountain
12 times sledding down
2 times down alone

My favorite part of his post-sledding narrative was when he told me he fell over when going down by himself. And how he has a hard time controlling the sled. So the next time he went down by himself with Daddy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hanging in There

It's been a while since I've posted, I know. We haven't been terribly busy, but at the same time we've been slogging through a lot of troubles. It's amazing how trials and tribulations can bog one down so that days pass by unmarked as one tries to simply get by.

Have no fear. Life may be tramping right over my head right now, but if I stay right in this moment, I find that it is exactly what I can handle.

And this moment brings knitted victory. Well, maybe not victory, but at least satisfaction. So I will dwell on that.

This is a baby/toddler vest (because Henry is now toddling). I used a free pattern from Crystal Palace. I like the style, though check my project notes on Ravelry if you are considering making it yourself. I used ONE SKEIN of Encore Colorspun yarn (just over $6--I am thrifty). I modified the ribbing around the arms to a rolled edge to make this work out. It fits him well. I'm not usually a fan of acrylic (it usually feels like plastic and I don't care for the static electricity it generates), but I really like Encore for kids' clothes. It washes up well and it seems to like the dryer, too. It feels soft and fluffy.

I used random brown buttons from my mom's button bin. They don't match, but it doesn't matter to me since this is a casual, every day vest. One could even say the buttons add a funky, eclectic feel to the vest, but I won't since I'm really not that hip. Neither is Henry. Adorable, but not hip.

I love those green eyes!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Mind Unfocused

I left the house today. It was the first time since Sunday that I walked out my own door. It was such an occasion I put on my fancy pants (jeans) and a clean shirt. I even wore shoes, remembering to change out of my slippers.

I just bought Cathy Duffy's book 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. I spend the last four days marching through this book, making notes of books and programs that sound promising, struggling against interruption after disruption. Today I finished the book and arranged to leave the house so that I could review my notes and re-read sections that were plowed through so quickly that I'm pretty sure I missed something important.

I came to the coffee shop tonight, sat down with Peter's laptop, my coffee, and books. I got all prepared to dig in. Then I realized that over the past four days I have lost my ability to focus. The hazing from small children gets my martial gaze fixed on the topic at hand. I wonder if I handed out gift cards if people would start screaming and throw cups of milk off of the table or need an apple cut up? Maybe then I could focus again.


Here's a question for all of you homeschooling moms. Where do you go to find curriculum choices? We have a homeschooling conference in Minnesota every April. It seems to be ok, though a lot of the vendors are more focused on selling character development tools than on academics. Personally, I have a Bible and The Andy Griffith Show--that's all the character development help I need for my kids.

I need something to teach Anna how to read. They need to know where Iraq and Saudi Arabia are on a map. I need something that uses real books and worktexts and I need something that can teach them both, to some degree, at once. I need to know where the Homeschool Curriculum Mall of America is. I need to know where to look, where to shop, and where the good stuff is. I need help knowing how to even PLAN a curriculum for a year. This year we used Sonlight and there were things I liked a lot (like not having to plan the lessons) and some things that seemed weak to me (though this could be due to using the Kindergarten level curriculum).

Can you help? I'll take any (positive) advice you would like to give! Believe me, this won't be the last time I ask.