30 March 2006

News Flash! Homeschool mom blows off most of day , and world does not come to screaming halt without her there to run things!

A few days ago one of those incredible events happened to me -- the sort we all dream about. A trusted adult phoned and said, "Hey, I'm free this week. How about if I look after the kids one afternoon while you go get some stuff done?"

Wow. I blurted out something about going to shop for an Easter dress. This was sort of stupid, because then I was pretty much commited to that course of action. I hate shopping. Then again, I had already thrown away my old Easter dress, which was about 15 years old and long past its prime, so shopping was a necessary evil.

So, I spent yesterday afternoon slogging around in clothing shops. I saw so many tops that looked like photos from Knitty and MagKnits; I kept thinking, "hey, I could make that!" A woman tried to sell me a shawl. Hah. I ended up with a dress that would look better with some sort of little crocheted or knitted jacket ... hmmm.

In the meantime, the kids and Trusted Adult went on a nature walk, then did some art about it. Next, they went to the Butterfly House. Art! Science! Phys Ed! A field trip! An entire afternoon of homeschooling, and I wasn't even there!

Now I'm back in charge today, and so far we have accomplished ... let's see ... pretty much nothing homeschool-ish. Oh, we've run some errands which involved waiting in long lines (sort of a school-ish thing to do). Right now the kids are outside doing ... stuff. Outside stuff. Undirected outside stuff. I think ... I think it might be time to declare the rest of this week "Spring Break".

29 March 2006

Tuesday Teatime

We decided to have a birthday party for our cat as our Tuesday Teatime theme. The kids were convinced that we needed to celebrate his birthday sometime in March -- we had gotten him in July and he was 4 months old at the time, hence March must be his birth month (for the record, none of us can remember which year this was, although KidV1 says it was the year we went to Rehoboth for the 4th of July; unfortunately, we don't remember when that was).

So, cat-themed poetry was the order of the day. I kept it light -- no poems about starving kitties wishing they could have warm homes and enough food. I read a couple of selections from T.S. Eliot, of course. A.A. Milne also contributed. Some of the selections were anonymous, including our most popular piece, Training Your Human . I also interspersed some nursery rhymes. KidV2 performed another original composition in our cat's honor -- same tune as last time, different words.

By the way, that cat poetry website was a goldmine for putting this together. We have several poetry anthologies here at home, but I've discovered that the Internet has a wealth of poetry resources.

Our teatime treats were Trader Joe's deli-slice turkey with crackers and cheese. The cat had his turkey served on a china saucer on the floor. He was a little confused as to why he was being given food on the dining room floor, since his treats are usually confined to the kitchen (the kids wanted him to sit at the table like Thomasina in the movie, but I nixed that).

We will be continuing the festivities today since he wasn't given any presents or cards, heaven forbid, mostly because he wandered off after the turkey was gone. KidV1 finger crocheted a string for him to play with. KidV2 decorated a Trader Joe's paper bag. So we have that to look forward to today.

27 March 2006


The bottom of the felted backpack I'm knitting flew along smoothly in a simple stockinette stitch. Soon it was time to pick up stitches along the selvage. The pattern called for 26 stitches to be picked up. Now, it instantly occured to me that this was going to be tricky since I was probably knitting at a tighter guage than the pattern and would therefore have a different number of rows than the original pattern assumed. Wise minds would also point out that I probably needed to pick up MORE stitches in order to retain the proper shape, given that my guage was tighter; this didn't occur to me, however (assignment: discuss the juxtaposition of those 2 statements among yourselves, then vow that you will never ever publicly mention your conclusion).

So, wouldn't that be a cool real-life math problem? You know, the sort of thing a cool homeschool mom would just jump right into. Maybe not even say, "Okay, you tell me what I should do," but do that musing-out-loud that draws the kids into the conversation. Too bad I'm not a cool homeschool mom. Maybe someone else out in blogland can use that idea.

I know it's fashionable to say, "Eeew, math, I don't want to do the math!" That isn't the problem here. I'm fine with doing the math. I'm not fine with getting up and finding a ruler and counting the stitches. Heck, if I wanted to do stuff like THAT I would've done a guage swatch. So I'm focusing on the thoughts that a) it's just a bag, for pete's sake, which is going to be filled with lumpy stuff anyway, so it doesn't matter if it starts out sort of lumpy and msshapen, and 2) felting covers a multitude of sins.

I call this the Rationalization Method of knitting. Knit, make mistakes, rationalize why you don't bother to fix them.

Progress in showing-off-of-knitting: The moebius wrap made it's debut when I wore it to church. During Meet-n-Greet time the woman in front of me turned around and exclaimed, "Oh My! Did you knit that?!" It was really gratifying. Her biggest question was, "Where did you get that yarn?!" Really, the Silkspun would make pretty much anything look swanky. It's definitely a case of the yarn carrying the knitting.

Progress in finding books I need to buy: I took a detour into Borders and discovered that I really really need a copy of Alterknits . I also realized my subscription to Mothering has lapsed after about 10 years -- there was one on the magazine rack that I hadn't seen. It was an odd feeling, like seeing an old friend hanging out with her new crowd you're not part of.

No progress to report on putting up more of the playset. We got out the pieces of the swingset and looked at it. Then we put them away. In the meantime, roving bands of small children were climbing over the parts we had already set up, then running to the playset at a house about a block away. I think they're coping with the lack of swings.

And progress in health? Mr.V has decided to go gluten-free. This is taking up an amazing amount of time, as it involves figuring out new patterns in shopping. Most of my time at Mothering.com has been spent cruising the Nutrition forum.

24 March 2006

Random stuff

KNITTING: I've started the Felted Daypack in the Winter 2004 Interweave Knits. I'm making it out of Lite-Lopi. The pattern says to use a size 8 circular, but when I gathered all my stuff together to start it last night I decided I didn't like my size 8 circ. I'm using a size 7 instead. I haven't bothered with a gauge swatch. Stay tuned for disaster when I finally realize why casually switching needles and ignoring gauge isn't a good idea.

LATIN: Some kind soul posted a list of Simon Says commands in Latin on the Latin Classical Ed list. Now I can pretend (fleetingly) to be a fun mom. Well, I can pretend to be a fun mom insofar as teaching Latin is concerned. I'm planning on weaseling out of going to homeschool swim this afternoon, so I'll be retaining my overall No Fun title.

ASTRONOMY: I found this cool site about astronomy observation last night: Star-Hunting Party . I found it on someone else's blog. Whose, you ask? Ummm, well, umm (lowers head, kicks toe in dirt) I sorta forget ... I sorta clicked on it from TheDenimJumper.com, but I forget exactly who it was.

CARDS: I need to go play Old Maid right now. Other pearls of wisdom will have to wait.

23 March 2006


I've mentioned several times here that I really dislike Latin. I've called it boring and tedious. I've written similar comments on various homeschooling forums such as Mothering.com and TheDenimJumper.com.

Yet, a year ago I was telling other homeschooling moms that Latin was the best part of our day. I proclaimed that Latin was Fun, that everyone should give it a whirl.

What happened to change my thinking? You know, I'm not really sure. I think part of the issue is that KidV1 has reached the stage where she knows more Latin than I do. I understand the logic of it better, and can see why we're learning all of these declensions and conjugations, but she actually knows the declensions and conjugations. So I need to either work to learn the stuff myself (eeeew!) or give up, throw up my hands and declare, "It's beyond me!"

Another problem is that we've been using the same curriculum for several years now. We started in Prima Latina, moved to Latina Christiana I, and now are working through Latina Christiana II. I tend to be a curriculum-hopper, flitting from program to program. And Latina Christiana tends to be a wee bit dry when used strictly as written (and I don't know enough Latin to jazz it up like the cool homeschoolers do). So, 3 years of the same ol' same ol' is almost guaranteed to have my eyes roving for something better, be it a new Latin curriculum or a new language (Greek, hmmm, there's a thought).

I decided to purchase Minimus. We've started alternating it with Latina Christiana. You know, KidV1 had said she liked LC and didn't want to change to something else (she has completion issues, a trait that I obviously don't share since I'm willing to ditch things at the drop of a hat). But she really likes Minimus. Cartoons! Silliness! Cats! Mice! I think she even likes the Roman history lessons. She had cheered the day we were finished with the Romans when we read about them in Story of the World (she said she got bored with them), but this stuff is lively and personal.

I don't think we could enjoy Minimus so much, though, if we didn't know any Latin already. Well, if one of us didn't know any Latin, at least. I suppose if the teacher knew what s/he were doing (unlike me) they could make it comfortable for the students, and answer any questions that might arise. As it stands, we puzzle out any questions together.

I'm considering getting Peter Jones' Learn Latin to inspire me and perhaps help me get a clue. But, sigh, I suspect that the book isn't going to spring up and present all of those declensions in charming song and dance while I just nod my head absentmindedly. I suspect I'm still going to have work at it. It's the same problem I run up against constantly -- simply obtaining the books isn't enough, I still need to read them and think about them. I'm like the person who wants the 6-pack abs without having to do any exercise; I want a toned, taut brain without having to do any thinking. I want to be able to flex my translation skills on the beach this summer, lying there in a bikini, reading the Aeneid, my legs waxed, my toenails painted, looking like it's all so effortless. The probable reality is, though, I'll be the one in the old Speedo that doesn't quite fit anymore, who couldn't find a razor to shave her legs or the clippers to cut her unpainted toenails, reading Terry Pratchett.

This has got to change. I must toss off the shackles of slothdom. I must go pump dendrites.

22 March 2006

Finished Moebius

Fleece Artist Silk Spun knit on size 10 needles. It isn't yet blocked. It fits snugly around my shoulders -- I knit the applied I cord edging a bit tightly so it would cup in a bit.

KidV1 has already been hinting that she would really really like to have the leftover yarn.

21 March 2006

Tuesday Teatime

Last week's Tuesday Teatime was an extravaganza. It's taken a week to recover from it enough to blog about it.

We used weather as our theme. KidV2 was very excited, as weather is one of her interests. I got several hugs and "thanks for doing this, Mommy" before, during and after teatime.

We read poems about weather in general, followed by groups of poems about specific types of weather such as rain, snow, wind, sun and rainbows. We recited as a group, and also recited solo. KidV2 performed an original composition for voice and piano. Other authors included A.A. Milne, Christina Rosetti, Walter de la Mare, and Robert Louis Stevenson. I tried to keep it pretty kid-friendly.

Our treats were also an extravaganza:

Those are Country Choice organic Sandwich Cremes in vanilla (KidV2's favorite) topped with homemade white frosting I had tinted yellow with food coloring. After some experimenting, I did the faces with some food coloring gel tubes we had around. The rays are plain old stick pretzels, broken in half. The beverage is Trader Joe's organic white grape juice diluted 50 percent with water, and given a dose of blue food coloring.

Afterwards, jacked up on sugar and food coloring, the kids went out and played on the playset ... and ended up in a HUGE fight, featuring screaming and hair-pulling and, yes, all-out tantrum-throwing. What a way to end the afternoon.

I'm not sure what we're doing for teatime today. There was some talk of wanting a springtime theme, but it has snowed. As a matter of fact, I need to go take the kids sledding right now. I told them whatever we do, the snacks will be more along the line of apple slices and carrot sticks; the junk food has got to go. This has started some meditation on why we like Tuesday Teatime -- do we tolerate the poetry just so we can eat treats? Do we simply like the rhythm it adds to our weeks? Is it all about getting to blow out the candles at the end? I guess time will tell.

By the way, Weaver, your comment reminded me that I have a recipe for homemade marshmallows (which would make a great treat for a snow themed teatime, except I don't have time to make them, and they're pretty much pure sugar and corn syrup). I've never tried it, though. I'd love to see yours, especially if you give commentary on your experiences making them.

20 March 2006

Nothing to show for the weekend

Blogger isn't uploading photos at the moment. This means you don't get to see the moebius knitting mid-bindoff. Mostly it looks like a big ratty pile of multi-colored yarn at the moment, so no great loss. The big news is that I *AM* binding off. This should've taken only a day or two to knit, but I've managed to stretch it out to nearly a week. I should've done the bindoff last night while watching Star Trek -- it's an applied I-cord, so more suitable for knitting-during-TV-viewing than knitting-while-reading -- but we started toasting marshmallows over the fire about then. Gooey marshallows and knitting don't mix, and the marshmallows won my attention. It was that sort of weekend.

You also don't get to see a photo of me carrying a Booga bag, wearing a Clapotis and also wearing a Dash headpiece taken off of a cotton candy bag; the photo was taken on Saturday when we went to see The Incredibles on Ice. We hadn't been to a Disney on Ice show before. It was ... different. Some great skating, but in the context of a 90 minute ad for the wonders of Disneyworld. Sorry, but Disney isn't the center of our universe. As a matter of fact, it's so peripheral it's about to fall off the edge.

Other things we didn't do this weekend: We didn't paint the new front door or the new french doors. We did absolutely nothing to the entrance, which has had all of the wallpaper ripped off the walls and is now the otherworldly green of a 30 year old coat of wallpaper sizing. We didn't finish taking down the wallpaper in the bedroom. We didn't work on the playset in the backyard, which still needs the swingset and the climbing wall (if for no other reason than getting the boxes out of the garage so I can park my car in there). I started reading 3 new books, but didn't get past page 50 in any of them.

Today will be different! This is the day I will accomplish mighty things! Children will clamor to learn interesting things, and I will cleverly facilitate their learning! No marshmallows will be consumed!

17 March 2006

What we do for science

Right now we're concentrating on science. It's been moved to Most Favored Position in our morning line-up, which is right after we sing. This spot used to be held by Latin, mostly because I don't like Latin and KidV1 does; if it were left to me we would blow it off pretty much daily, so we put it in Most Favored Position so I couldn't weasle out of it. Now that I seem to have simmered down about my general dislike for Latin we've bumped the long-neglected subject of science into that spot.

Okay, actually, we haven't really been neglecting science. It's just sort of been nature study and random trips to the science museum lately.

KidV1 has a continuing interest in astronomy, and KidV2 is always asking questions about the weather. Voila, I found a book that has both subjects when I looked at My World Science . I was looking at the website, called out, "Hey, guys, how about if I order one of these?" The kids said, "Oh, definitely, the one with weather and astronomy." So I ordered the MWS stuff, as well as the suggested resources, and ... put them on the shelf for about a year. We dabbled here and there, doing a chapter once in a while. But that's it.

So, it seemed like it was time to Go Big Or Stay Home (this is the phrase we use around here when we're deciding whether to, say,set up a simple swingset vs. build a multilevel play fort with monkey bars, supersonic slide, climbing wall, trapeze and, yes, a swingset). I took the plunge and ordered Dinah Zike's Great Science Adventures The World of Space . We had used part of the Insect and Arachnid Great Science Adventure a few years back, and, frankly, got sick of all the ditsy little cut outs and crafty stuff; I had decided to never purchase another Great Science Adventure after that. But, here we were, with another one.

But, aha, this time it's different, because ... well, it just is. My World Science astronomy and Great Science Adventures astronomy really integrate well. Heck, it's like they were made to be used together. No need to draw up some elaborate schedule to designate when to read what chapter or when a particular experiiment will be appropriate. No, it can all be done seat-of-the-pants. We can open up the books and say, "okay, let's try using a magnifying glass to melt the coating off of Thin Mints" (which wasn't precisely what the book said to do to demonstrate the power of the sun, but was still plenty of fun; we also tried to toast marshmallows with a magnifying glass, but it didn't work). Or, we can say, "eeew, that sounds dorky and boring; let's skip it and go onto something else."

KidV1 loves the little booklets that you make with the Great Science Adventures, and seems quite thrilled to be making the graphic organizers. She also spends time reading the Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia, as well as the plethora of other astronomy books that seem to have collected on our shelves. She even fills out the My World Science worksheets. And watches Star Trek TNG, which she claims is easier to do now that she understands more of the space-realted terms like "electromagnetic radiation" (yeah, right. It's just an excuse to watch television, which we usually don't do, but I give her points for creativity in her arguements).

What we have NOT been doing is using the My World Science weather. We read about the weather, KidV2 has been keeping a weather log since the beginning of the year, but no elaborate projects. Yet. We've gone from being a family that doesn't do much science to a family using 2 astronomy programs, and that's enough for now.

16 March 2006

More on Moebius Knitting

I was going to post this yesterday, but Alex-the-door-guy arrived bright and early, and immediately got to work ripping out our front doors, which, aside from being icky and wooden were double doors, so we had a 6 foot wide hole gaping in the front of the house. And, since it was about 38 degrees outside, it was just a bit drafty. It was the sort of situation where you find yourself really taking stock of what you need to blog about. Like, right now I should be washing the dishes from last night (since I was quite sidetracked after supper -- more on that later), but I've wandered in here mid-wash with a glass of coffee-flavored Silk (I just discovered this stuff since we moved here; they used to sell Silk latte, but that has disappered; is this the same stuff?). I'm okay with ditching the dishes, but sitting in a cold draft to type on the computer was beyond me.

Sitting around knitting was also beyond me. KidV1 got some knitting done, though. The whole door replacement was quite loud, so the kids decided to listen to a book on tape, and KidV1 knit during that. I think she's making a cape for her sister's stuffed rabbit.

I ended up doing stuff like mopping the floor, sweeping the dead leaves and dropped kindling from the patio, sweeping out the garage, and then, yes, even going up to the master bedroom to removed more wallpaper. It's a nasty business up there, with 2 layers of wallpaper.

Speaking of wallpaper, as Alex-the-door-guy was taking off the door jamb for the doors into the living room (double 6 panel doors, now replaced with double 15-light french doors), he unearthed the original wallpaper of the entrance. He even cut a piece of it off the wall as a souvenir. Wow. Green and golden flowers, marching up and down the walls in stripes. As he was removing the front door we discovered that underneath the ugly parquet floor in the entrance is even uglier vinyl in an olive green floral pattern. This raises the question: Did someone put that floor with that wallpaper? And, if so, what were they thinking?

In the course of putting in the new front door (now a single door with sidelights; we finally have some natural light in the entrance, hurray!) the woodwork was moved over about an inch, which left an unpainted gap. Since the wallpaper has been painted over umpteen times (note: painting over wallpaper is BAD), it was pretty thick and we were going to have to use drywall mud to even out the surface. But when Mr.V got home he started niggling at the edge and discovered that the wallpaper would rip right off. Woohoo! My purpose in life is to rid the world of wallpaper, so I spent the rest of the evening ripping down all of the stuff in the entrance. It was a truly satisfying evening.

Anyway, none of that has to do with moebius knitting, or moebius anything (unless we put a big Escher print in the entrance, but if we did that I'd not choose the moebius; I'd choose something like Cycle ) (for the record, we had a book of Escher prints which I spent hours and hours browsing when I was little).

Fuzzy Galore has a page about moebius knitting here . I do have a quibble, though, in that one may infer from the next to last paragraph that one forms a moebius by twisting a circular cast on. Yes and no. If you completely twist a circular around, you end up with a 2 sided, 2 edged object with a complete twist in it; a moebius has 1 surface and 1 edge, and a half twist.

You can find online instruction on how to cast on a moebius at several sites, including here , but reading through these I picture that first row being tough to knit. Cat Bordhi's cast on is super easy, and easy to knit. Once you have the cast on done and the first row knit (easy if you use Cat's instructions!), moebius knitting can be as easy or as difficult as you would like to make it. You can simply knit row after row peacefully and mindlessly, or you can do lace. Whatever. What's cool is that no matter what you do, it looks tricky and mind boggling.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled dishwashing.

14 March 2006


It's March 14! That means it's 3.14! Pi Day!

And, since it's Tuesday, I couldn't help but think that it would be cool to have a Pi-themed Tuesday Teatime. We could eat pie! Have big pillar candles! Read poetry about math!

I even googled pi poetry (and, yes, there is poetry about pi) and discovered that it's Albert Einstein's birthday today. If you're into this, check out the ridiculously enhanced pi page. Their festivities will begin at 1:59 (get it? They'll have a party at 3.14159, wink, nudge, teehee).

Of course, we won't actually be holding such a Tuesday Teatime since we have already scheduled a weather-themed teatime. And it has been Highly Anticipated all week.

But, I can privately celebrate all the math-y-ness of the day with a new knitting project:

A moebius wrap. I'm using the directions from Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury of Magical Knitting and Fleece Artist's Handmaiden Silk Spun. It's really wonderfully mindless knitting, just around and around that loooooong single edge. I should be able to get some reading done while knitting this. Now, if I could figure out what to read, since I've started about 20 different books simultaneously. I tend to be monogamous with my knitting, but horribly polygamous with my reading.

Actually, I cast this on last night. DadV took KidV1 to the hockey game (the Blues won! Celebrate! Or maybe just sit in stunned amazement). After KidV2 and I figured out equitable junk food (this is Very Important, as hockey games are reknowned in our household for the availiblity of delicacies like nachos and cotton candy) we popped in our Beauty and the Beast video and I was given permission to cast on as long as it did not hinder my ability to be snuggled-up-with during the scary parts.

In spite of the late night we all had, the kids awoke early this morning and have already donned various dress up costumes. KidV2 has on a homemade Belle dress, of course.

13 March 2006

No Knitting All Mud Weekend

Three days of rain revealed that the perk rate of our current lawn is somewhere around "what's a perk rate?" It's a quagmire out there. We went ahead and worked on the playset, in spite of the fact that the ladder tended to sink in several inches everytime we tried to use it. And the kids? Well, the kids thought the mud was a bonus. They rolled in mud. They played mud tag. They left their shoes and socks all over our yard (the neighbor kids did; our kids simply tracked it all right into the house).

I did manage to get a poncho photo:

Lion Brand Homespun knit on U.S. size 10.5 needles. The poncho also doubles as a small blankie you can take to bed with you, by the way. So although the weather has been too warm to actually wear it, it has been used nightly. That bright thing seeming to sprout out of her head is her sister's poncho, knit last year in blindingly bright colors; it can double as a roadside hazard signal.

Things to do today: Return shoes to correct houses. Clean dried mud off of floors. Clean dried mud out of clothes. Research how to improve clay soils. Research rainwater runoff plantings (it's such a "form follows function" area of landscape design; I love it! Why can't interior design be this practical?). And maybe, just maybe, cast on a new knitting project.

10 March 2006

Tragic lack of "finished poncho" pictures

I'm not quite sure how it happened that I didn't get a photo of KidV2 in her new poncho. She put it on several times yesterday, although removed it when eating a snack that consisted of Trader Joe's Cocoa Hazelnut Spread smeared all over bananas and topped with ice cream and vanilla yogurt (the snack did end up down her shirt), and left it off when going out to play as it was pouring down rain and outdoor playtime yesterday consisted of wallowing in every mud puddle in the neighborhood.

Random other stuff:

Our adventures in learning about bees continues. KidV2 got stung on the finger, and her entire hand has swollen up like a balloon. We have discussed bees vs. hornets vs. wasps.

The neighbors' forsythia bushes are blooming.

We have just discovered Star Trek TNG reruns on every evening. This is one of the few TV shows I'm interested in watching. The two-part episode wherein they go back to 19th century San Francisco was on. I rationalized that it was good for history, since it occurred right after the 49ers, and science, since the space travel aspect ties in with astronomy. We've watched TV every night this week, and let me tell you, it really sucks up a lot of time. I did manage to handwind some yarn during this.

KidV1 had announced that all of her sweaters are too small. I have until next fall to rectify this. I was going to pull out all of the pattern books to start browsing, but it occurred to me that what she really wants is a Weasley. The challenge will be to find an appropriate yarn. I'm open to suggestions.

09 March 2006


It's a gloomy, rainy day, and I am mired in the unspeakably tedious task of making fringe out of Lion Brand Homespun. If you've ever worked with Homespun you know how the ends look frayed and worn almost instantly. So I'm tying a wee little knot in each and every end. I'm hoping this will help keep the fringe from morphing into the ultimate dead-leaf-magnet when KidV2 wears it to play outside. Heaven knows her hair picks up enough dead leaves, we don't need even more on her body.

I am not a fan of fringe-making to begin with, but making all of these knots may put me right around the bend.

08 March 2006

Tuesday Teatime

This week we had an astronomy teatime since we are studying astronomy for science.

Our poetry selections were about space and planets. I read High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and The Star by Jane Taylor. Other poems included Fiona Macleod's The Lost Star, William Cullen Bryant's Hymn to the North Star, Christina Rossetti's O Lady Moon, and an anonymous limerick ("There was a young lady called Bright/Who could travel much faster than light./She set off one day/In a relative way/And came back the previous night."), and Peter Bateson's Nightfall.

The biggest hits were The Star (because it was familiar), the limerick (because limericks are funny; even if you don't understand them, the rhythm seems silly), and O Lady Moon (Rosetti is familiar, plus it's short and a handy bit of knowledge -- it talks about which way the moon's horns face depending on whether it is waxing or waning). The least favorite was Hymn to the North Star ("Thou" and 'thy" stuff? yuck!).

Our menu included Astronaut ice cream, which is the freeze-dried neopolitan ice cream they sell at science museums and Rainbow Resource. If you've never had it, it's ... interesting. A tip -- dipping it into hot tea doesn't reconstitute it into ice cream. I suppose we should've had Tang to drink, but I think the ice cream was enough weirdness for one day. What's funny about the food choice is that I'm on a raw kick right now, trying to up the amount of raw food we're consuming. The ice cream seems like the polar opposite of raw, whole foods. We sort of had the alpha and omega of the food spectrum yesterday.

We used a star-shaped candle we had poured during our Candlemas candlemaking extravaganza, and even the napkins had stars, moon and sun on them.

Of course, KidV2 spent most of the teatime contemplating the idea that we need to have a "weather" teatime. She's quite concerned about what snacks we could have that would be weather-themed. She spent most of the teatime discussing this idea.

I've discovered that it isn't important whether the individual teatimes are successful. What's important is the cumulative effect of doing this each week. There are many reasons for this, but let me share one example: Saturday night I discovered that KidV1 was sitting in her room reading poetry aloud to KidV2. They were looking through Once Upon a Poem , which is full of poems that tell stories. That's something I didn't really expect to see going on in our house -- gathering around to share poetry for entertainment on a Saturday night.

07 March 2006

It's History!

Story of the World 3 is done. It's over. Finito. Been there, done that. Close that book, put it on the shelf. Woohoo.

Don't get me wrong, we really enjoyed it. It's just so satisfying to finish.

What next? We're going to take a break from history for a while to concentrate on science. KidV1 wants to do more with astronomy. KidV2 continues to be obsessed with weather. And me? I think it would be cool to study bees right now. Check this out:

We had a couple of guys here yesterday to cut down a big ol' tree branch that looked sort of dead and sort of like it might break off, fall 30 feet (this tree is tall!) and flatten whatever kid happened to be playing under it. The guy climbed up, barely touched it with a saw, and it came crashing down. This is what was inside -- yards and yards of old honeycombs. A few dead bees were hanging around, also.

I wonder what the rest of the tree has in it.

06 March 2006

Knitting and more

Friday night I worked on the Homespun poncho while we watched a video (Nico the Unicorn -- very cute). Since I was knitting from the neck down, it was simply a matter of making it long enough, so when I got to an okay looking length I bound off and discovered ... the neck is way too big. Oops. KidV2 (who has the same large head/scrawny shoulder physique as I do, which is why I messed this up so bad) begged me to Leave It Alone ("please don't rip it back up, Mommy"). Sigh. I pointed out that in any event, it was currently unwearable since it needed to be blocked and fringed.

Saturday was spent on this:

Yes, we're building a playset in our backyard. We spent all day on it Saturday. It was cloudy and in the 40s, but we persevered.

The decks the kids are climbing onto were shipped pre-assembled. They are heavy. The upper one is 7 feet off the ground. I am 5'3". This posed a problem, especially when I became acutely aware that my weight-lifting program is lacking military presses. Still, we persevered.

We now have the upper rails on. This involved my sitting up on the top deck, cold, exhausted, scared of heights, scared I was going to drop the blasted thing on DadV's head (it wasn't as heavy as the deck, but it was still heavy).

It was a long day. No knitting occured.

Sunday dawned gloomy and cold. As we sat in church we heard the sound of a pounding rainstorm. Hallelujah! We get a day of rest from the playset! So, after doing all the stuff that didn't get done on Sunday (shopping, washing dishes, etc.), I finally sat down and started picking out the cast-on row from the poncho.

Well, first I stuck some double-point needles in the row I wanted to rip to. Then I picked out the cast on row, and unravelled down to my needles. I then started knitting up the poncho, including 2 decrease rows. I cast off when I reached the original length. Tried it on KidV2. Now the neck is too small. Umm, yeah. So I'll have to rip back down, but this should be easy now (I don't know if it's less fiddly to rip back from a cast off row than a cast on row, but it's certainly more comfortable psychologically).

I don't know when this will take place though. DadV is planning on coming home early today so we can work on the playset. And right now we should be doing French.

02 March 2006

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is a favorite in our house. My parents are big fans, and have spent hours reading the books to the VKids. The kids' favorite story is Too Many Daves from the book The Sneetches. Favorite anti-Dave name? Oliver Boliver Butt, of course.

I was never such a big fan of The Sneetches, by the way, mostly because the book contained the story What Was I Scared Of? with those pale green pants with no one inside them. Oooo, I was afraid of that story. It gave me the creeps. Do you remember when you were little being afraid that if you opened a book to a scary-picture page the scariness would slip out from the pages into your life? That was me.

This page has some fun activities based on Dr. Seuss books. I especially like the idea of making turtles and stacking them up a la Yertle the Turtle. Links to other ideas for Cat in the Hat hats are at the bottom of the page.

And, speaking of children's books, did you know you can read a children's literature review online? I am addicted to book reviews, so I was thrilled to find The Edge of the Forest .

Signing off now to go read to the kids.

01 March 2006

Tuesday Teatime

I was reading about Sewing With a Plan last week, and decided it was time to start Living With a Plan. I was going to start Knitting With a Plan, Cleaning With a Plan, Homeschooling With a (better) Plan, and, by golly, having Teatime With a Plan.

Our first Planned Teatime was going to be yesterday, Shrove Tuesday. I dutifully found appropriate food ( Shrove Tuesday Buns ; no fried dough items here, as I was afraid I'd set the kitchen on fire).

But the weather did not cooperate. It was sunny and warm and the kids wanted to be outside. They wanted to have their own Plan, which was a fairy teatime. So, they dressed in fairy wings and flowers, took a picnic cloth outside, and awaited my arrival with Pink Tea (Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger) and warm weather treats ( Citron Givres from Trader Joe's).

We read For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry, by Christopher Smart, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (I can find tons of links to the poem itself, but no illustration of the actual book). It's part of a longer poem entitled Jubilate Agno. I think the poem itself was a bit hard for the kids to follow, but the illustrations brought it together for them.

So often in homeschooling (or parenting, for that matter) it's important to have a plan, and it's also important to be willing to abandon it. My kids teach me that lesson over and over.