Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I did an online challenge with my friend Rachel and finished it yesterday. I try to do something new in each quilt I make, or practice a skill that needs work. On this quilt, I did a stripey binding, cut on the bias.
It was a challenge to figure out how to piece it so that the seams were camouflaged in the red stripes. I love the way it turned out. I used up tons of Christmas scraps, including The Night Before Christmas panels which were supposed to be made to make a book. You can actually read the whole story on the top of the quilt (which Thing One loves).
The back uses up a ton of Christmas fabric too. (No, all those little squares on the back are not pieced, it's printed on the fabric.)
I also made pepper jelly yesterday. A friend had given me a baggie full of jalapenos, and I didn't know what to do with them until my sister told me of her pepper jelly-making and I got the envies. She sent me this recipe. It was surprisingly easy and fun. It made me feel like Betty Crocker!
The peppers look so Christmasy in their jars.
And an added bonus: I found a bottle of mead hidden in the cabinet with my canning jars! Sweet!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I picked "Scheme."
I thought of two ideas almost immediately. I sketched them out when I got home that night, then got involved with other things.
Last night, three nights before the quilt has to be shown completed, I sat down again with my sketch book to decide which of the two ideas I would pursue. I thought of a third idea, spent a couple of hours sketching it out. I bounced it (and the two originals) off my husband when he got home from fire station duty around 11pm. He said that one idea is much more accessible to a universal audience, and he's right, even though it meant the last few hours of work were wasted. I had found the perfect quote so it wasn't a total waste. Jean Jacques Rousseau said "There are two things to be considered with regard to any scheme. In the first place, Is it good in itself? In the second, Can it be easily put into practice?" It ended up tacked onto the "refrigerator" with some buttons in the finished product.
I must interject here that I am so lucky to have a husband who will listen to my midnight ramblings and not only understand them, but give me honest and sound advice. He has inspired so many ideas, or come up with great ideas, or helped me work through my own ideas.
The idea was to show the boys looking up at a cookie jar on top of the refrigerator, scheming about how to get at the treats.
It's hard to think that those angelic faces could ever do anything naughty. The other morning, upon waking, I found the boys sitting at the table, merrily eating their respective bowls of cereal with milk. This was somewhat unusual. The cereal is in a very high cabinet over the stove.
"Did daddy fix you cereal before he left?"
"No, Mama, we got it ourselves."
"With two stepstools stacked up, and the kitchen tongs."
Egads. No mother needs a heart attack before her first cup of coffee!
So, today, I started working in earnest. I started by photographing the boys. This required a tiny bribe of Halloween candy to get them to pose and repose.
Thing One is thinking about wings, since he is obsessed with bugs and airplanes. Thing Two, my little engineer, is thinking about building stairs.
This is the finished quilt.
I had a ton of fun doing the "thread painting" around the cookie jar.
I also did some fun free motion of quilting of wing shapes and traditional "feather" shapes in the black background, although you can't see them unless you are really close. I got lots of positive feedback at the guild challenge meeting. This will go in the spring quilt show with all the other (21) challenge quilts.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
After thinking about what he wanted to do with his new-found treasure for a while, he gave the money to his dad, saying "I think you and Mom could use a little extra money." My heart just leaped at his generosity.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
So, I can't think about all I haven't blogged about in the past 6 weeks. What is going on in our lives now?
I just made a bluebird Halloween costume for Thing One. He wants to say "Trick or Tweet"! I took some of his falling apart onesie pajamas, cut them up to use as a pattern and turned a couple of yards of blue felt that I bought for another unfinished project into a costume. I made some simple "wings" that I attached to the back of the arms, and I attached a simple tail to the back below the zipper. I used a helmet pattern from a knight costume to make a hat. I sewed a blue feather boa onto the helmet and onto the edges of the wings.
Thing Two is either going to be a pumpkin (borrowed costume) or a ghost (hand-me-down from Thing One).
DH and I? who knows. We usually throw something silly together at the last second.
School is going fairly well, although it has been somewhat inconsistent with all our traveling lately. I have workboxes out in the classroom, and downstairs as well. They are varying complexity, so some are good for each child, and some are good cooperative activities and games for all of us to do together. I've been letting the boys pick when they're ready.
I also ordered a new curriculum that arrived yesterday. I will have to report on it later, but the one lesson we've done from it today went well and was engaging, except for the "practice writing letter B" page. It's called Moving Beyond the Page. I ordered one unit (environment) to see how we like it.
We've been doing lots of Halloween activities. We did a cool painting technique called watercolor and ink resist. It made a nice Jack-o-lantern painting.
I have tons of beautiful photos from my trip to Santa Fe, and our trip to Ocean City while the kids were with their grandparents. That will have to wait for another day!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Snails, Clams and Their Relatives by Blaxland
The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant) by Avi
The Snail and the Whale by Donaldson
The Snail House by Ahlberg
Mr. Carey's Garden by Cutler
Some Smug Slug by Edwards
My Buddy, Slug by Krosoczka
We tried a couple of experiments at attracting slugs. Several friends made suggestions and we tried most of them. We set out canned catfood (and attracted nothing, that we saw anyway). We set out a dish of beer (again, nothing). I also heard that wet sisal mats attract them but we didn't try that. We had the best luck just looking under big rocks or bricks, and checking the sidewalks early in the morning and after rain.
A few weeks ago, we studied plants. We did several science experiments. We did the classic cut a stalk of celery and put it in water colored with food coloring, and watch the leaves turn colors. we did this with white carnations too. Oddly, the blue worked well with the carnations, but we noticed almost no difference in the red carnations.
We put some damp paper towels and lima beans in an empty jar and set it near the window for a few days. When some of them had swelled up and split open, we looked at the inside of the beans and named the parts. When they started sprouting, we planted a couple of them.
We also put some grass seed in an old pizza box. I cut half the lid off the box. Then I closed the box lid. Supposedly, the grass seed would come up on the side where it was exposed to the sun. Actually, it all grew on the side that was covered. I often have luck like this with our science experiments!
We went on a nature walk and tried to find as many different kinds of seeds as we could. Then we took them home and examined them closely, and compared and contrasted them. We talked about how each of them served a purpose in helping the plant grow new plants.
A Parade of Plants by Stewart
From Seed to Plant by Gibbons
A Seed is Sleepy by Aston
Plants by the Ontario Science Centre
Plants Grow! by Wade
How a Seed Grows by Jordan
A Tree is a Plant by Bulla
Ten Seeds by Brown
Oh Say Can You Seed? by Worth
Plant Life Cycles by Ganeri
Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move by Macken
Monday, September 7, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
We made cave paintings.
See you next week for Plants and Seeds!
Places we’ll be visiting:
Downtown Santa Fe www.santafe.org
Tent Rocks www.explorenm.com/hikes/TentRocks
Ojo Caliente www.ojocalientesprings.com
Georgia O’Keefe www.okeeffemuseum.org
Kakawa Chocolates www.kakawachocolates.com
I'm a bit nervous about the elevation. Hopefully it won't affect me too much.
The trip organizer is my former yoga teacher who moved from Maryland to New Mexico last year. She still comes to Maryland regularly to teach various trainings. She is someone I try to emulate. She has such a profound aura of peace and joy about her that I envy.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
A lot of bloggable things happened this week, they just weren't really directly related to our theme.
After our recent rains, we found giant toadstools.
Did you know they can fly? And when they get scared and threatened, they take the most interesting stance where they spread their wings and put their front legs out?
Here's our list of family books:
The Family Book by Parr
Jesse Bear Climbs the Family Tree by Carlstrom
Henry and Mudge in the Family Trees by Rylant
Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems by Hoberman
Chicken of the Family by Amato
My Family Plays Music by Cox
Hope you all are having fun with your families this week!
Monday, August 24, 2009
So, instead, we started back to homeschooling after a two week break. He's so happy to be back. I can tell, even if he hadn't told his daddy this morning that he is excited.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I got mine back last week. It looked like this.
I knew I'd be seeing some quilting friends at Bunco tonight, so this afternoon I took it out to put it with my bag so I could ask their opinions about how to proceed. Well, inspiration struck, right there in the midst of my scrap piles and laundry baskets.
I had just seen an easy method for making a dogtooth border. The focus fabric I chose has a dogtooth-type border on it.
But I was a bit afraid of it. Like many beginning quilters, I have a fear of triangles. Templates. All those bias edges. Terrifying.
But after reading through the directions, I decided it didn't sound too difficult and it was worth a try. I had to make my template three times. But I finally got it right!
I'm so glad I tried! I made a small inner border to bring my measurements up to what they needed to be to fit, then added the dogtooth border.My corners are lousy, but I don't care. I learned something new today!
This is me, wearing the pink scarf, which was the "traveler" for the night. (I don't know what's up with my lip. I think my camera lens must need a good cleaning!)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
We have taken the last two weeks off school to get reorganized and renerergized. We've cleared out so much stuff we're having a yard sale Saturday. I love that my boys don't get too attached to things. They are always willing to part with some books, videos, toys when it's time to purge.
We added some things, too. I rearranged the classroom a bit to free up one big wall. I hung up our new magnetic wipe-off board to use with All About Spelling. I found a great wall calendar on clearance for $7, so Thing One will be helping me put that together when we start back up with school. I hung up a big bulletin board downstairs in our dining room, which will house Math on the Wall activities.
I needed a way to keep our daily supplies organized and off the middle of our desk. I wanted something to hang on the wall but couldn't find just the right thing, til I found a small shower caddy with two hooks on it. The caddy holds our glue, paintbrushes, pencils and pens, the hooks hold two pairs of kids' scissors. Perfect.
We may take another week off if I don't feel ready to start Monday. Or maybe we'll start Wednesday. Isn't homeschooling great?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
So here it is! I love the way quilts look hanging on our fence. It brings a touch of country to these city suburbs!
I still have to finish the binding, then on to the next project!
Friday, August 14, 2009
I'm a big believer in kids doing chores. When I was reading all about unschooling, I found most of the parents were on a big "anti-coercive parenting" kick. Don't force your kids to do chores. Or clean up after themselves or be responsible for their own things. I thought a lot about what they had to say. I decided I don’t agree with that philosophy at all.
I don't know why this rubs me the wrong way so much. I guess it hearkens back to my childhood. I come from an extremely rural part of Louisiana. We had a huge garden. I had to get up at 6am every day during the summer and on Saturdays and Sundays during the school year to help in the garden. We planted, watered, harvested, shucked, and preserved about 80% of the food we ate during the year. We were also expected to help with all the household chores, every day, on top of our homework.
I think chores have great value for a child. It helps a child learn basic life skills. It helps a child learn to appreciate what he has. It helps a child learn responsibility, and that other people are relying on him. It can help a child learn cooperation skills. It gives child a sense of accomplishment and worth. How great do you feel when you finish a job completely, especially when it was challenging? It helps the child feel that he has a real role in his family. He feels that his contribution is important.
How do you feel about chores? Do you have a trick or two that you use to encourage your kids?
The other three are strip-pieced and cut into eight inch sections. On two, I rotated every other block; on the last one, I just pieced them all the same direction.
I can't wait to see the quilt bingo row quilts put together! They are all autumn colors and will be truly stunning based on the rows I have seen at guild so far!
Glue and glitter art
Perfecting his golf game
Milk lid letters
Playing King of the Mountain
Riding his scooter
Sticking things in styrofoam
We took the week off of school this week. We had planned a whale week, and we did a few whale themed activities. I was planning a break next week, but Monday we just couldn't get started and it became obvious we'd start our break early. So mostly we just hung out.
You would think the kids would love a break from school, right? Thing One has been horribly whiny and fussy all week. He kept complaining that he was bored, and wanted to do something fun. Then he had a total meltdown on Thursday. It was triggered by my saying no to a computer game he wanted to play. But after a half hour tantrum followed by a twenty minute calming down period, we talked. He admitted he was having a hard time with our schedule being all messed up and not doing school like we've been doing all summer. And with not getting as much attention from mommy, who has been busy organizing the classroom, and even *gasp* taking some time to do things she likes to do for herself. This is why, as much as I like the idea of unschooling, it does not work for our family. Despite me having to twist arms to get the boys, especially Thing One, to do anything, even things he enjoys, we have to have the structure of at least a routine. I don't stick to a strict schedule but we do the same routine every day. Even weekends cause stress at our house, because Dad's home which changes the whole dynamic, and because we don't stick to our usual routine.
So I think we're going to take one more week off then get back into it. I've spent this whole week doing physical organization, and I need next week to do the mental organization and some prep. I know we're going to stick with workboxes. I'm going to set up three for Thing Two (he's been asking for them), and probably take away three from Thing One, leaving him nine. That's how many we actually get through on a normal day. I'm going to begin some more structured lessons instead of just working on a unit study/theme. We're going to start doing activities to go along with Story of the World Vol. 1 (the activity book is on the way). We've already listened to all of the CDs from vol. 1 in the car, while running errands, etc. and the boys love them. We're also going to start All About Spelling and Miquon Math.
I want to address our "problem time" during the day. We have been doing school only until lunchtime each day. So Thing Two's naptime, and then after Thing Two wakes up until dinner time is wide open. That's when I want a break, but Thing One still wants my undivided attention if he isn't allowed to play computer games, play Wii, or watch a video. I'm thinking I will set up some centers (probably aim for 10/month) and he will be allowed to choose one per day. They would almost be like "afternoon workboxes" but call them something different to interest him. He had centers in his preschool and liked them, and it will be a chance perhaps to explore an idea more in depth. Thing One likes to plan his own workboxes on Saturday so I may enlist his help on planning these. It may not work but it is worth a try.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
And the giant paperclip got tons of oohs and aahs!
Daniel in Ohio sent Thing Two an awesome package as well! He received a (very professional looking) book All About Daniel, a handmade bead bracelet, and a handmade mini-feltboard with three bears and a tree inside.