31 August 2006

Picovoli and other disappointing things

Pattern here.

Debbie Bliss Cathay, size 4 needles, knit in size 32.

My impressions? Eh. I like the shaping. The picots ... the picots are annoying. They're made by yarn overs/knit 2 together for a row, then 2 rows of stockinette stitch, then folding along the yo/k2tog row and sew down the live stitches. This makes for a bulky picot. Also, check out how this top hugs that flab roll on my back. Yikes, I didn't know I had a flab roll there!

Overall, I didn't feel like this item deserved more effort in the picture-taking department, because I'm wallowing in disappointment right now.

I blocked it by immersing in water, rolling up in a towel to blot excess water, then laying out on another towel. The Cathay bled a periwinkly outline on the towel I laid it on. The blocking helped the picots, but they still need to be beaten in submission with an iron or something. I suspect that it will take another session with the iron after every wash. Bleh.

Someday I might unsew the edges, unravel the picots, and put a smoother edge on it. Sheesh, sounds like a lot of work.

Other disappointments:

We just finished reading Charlotte's Web. Charlotte died, once again. We all sat on the couch, bawling. Do you know how many times I've read that book? How many times I've heard it? My mom used to read it to me when I was little. We cried every time Charlotte died. I don't know how many times she read it to me, but I felt like I had nearly memorized it by the time the fateful day came that I picked it up on my own (we owned a hardback copy). I had been working on those uber-boring reading exercises in school, probably first grade, and just happened to pick it up ... opened it ... and started reading. "Where's Papa going with that ax?" Oh my gosh, I was Reading. Reading a Chapter Book! On My Own! It was one of the most exciting moments of elementary school. And catapulted the book to the category of Sacred Text in my mind.

These days we have it as a book on tape read by the author. He does an excellent job, and never starts sobbing inconsolably when Charlotte dies. The kids have listened to it about a billion times. You'd think we'd be hardened to it by now. But, no, I got out the hardback from the library to read to the kids because it's the August selection in The Arrow, from whence I get our copywork and dictation selections. The kids had never seen the pictures! Amazing! But, you know, I had never read it aloud to them.

Another disappointment is our water heater. It was installed in 1980. It's feeling its age, rather like Charlotte did there at the end when she couldn't climb down to go back to Zuckerman's farm. It's so old that the parts aren't made for it anymore. It's so huge that it's going to be a massive PITB to get it out of the basement if we need to replace it. Sigh.

29 August 2006

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have a 10yo and a 6yo who have average math ability.The 10yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

On Tuesdays I upload an update of what we did in math for the week.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 44 Measure of the Angles in a Polygon

Now that the student understand the idea of supplementary angles, she can start applying that knowledge to polygons. Well, theoretically she should be able to do this. In reality, the student is a bit surprised that she’s actually doing something with all that rigamorole about supplementary angles from the last lesson.

My personal favorite part of the lesson is the paragraph that begins with bold type: “A tough question” and goes on to say, “You can skip this paragraph if you aren’t curious or already know why you can’t divide the quadrilateral into three triangles.” I think it’s daring and wonderful to tell kids they can skip parts of the math book, and customize what they learn.

The worksheet instructions casually mention that “there is a little algebra.” Hey, no big deal. By now the student-reader realizes that “algebra” isn’t something to worry about.

Lesson 45 Classifying Triangle by Sides and Angles

After a review of equilateral, isosceles, scalene, acute, right and obtuse triangles, it’s time to play little math games. You’re given measures of some angles of the triangle, and need to find the rest. I think stuff like this is fun. Kid1 doesn’t immediately catch on to how it’s done, but eventually gets into the swing of it.

She claims she doesn’t know what complementary angles are. I point out the definition back in lesson 43 (the front of the book lists when all vocabulary is introduced, so it’s easy to look up).

Lesson 46 External Angles of a Triangle

More fun figuring out angles, adding up to and subtracting from 180 in your head. Remeber in earlier years of math when that was a big deal -- adding and aubtracting 3 digits in your head? Now you barely notice you’re doing it, you’re so swept away by the fascinating angles.

Kid1 thinks she’s found an error in the book. When we look at it together we discover the book is correct.

Lesson 47 Angles Formed With Parallel Lines

“Mommy, this book makes angles so much more fun than any other math book!”

Take that curriculum review for what it’s worth -- she hasn’t seen that many other math books, particularly any that have much to do with angles. Today’s lesson is all about corresponding, interior, exterior, and alternate angles, as well as what a transversal is. The tone is light and fun.

Lesson 48 Triangles with Congruent Sides (SSS)

“Here you get a chance to use those inequalities you have been writing since first grade.” Yep, it’s time to use the greater-than less-than signs. The student cuts out strips of paper, then plays around with them to see what triangles can be formed. I happen to be working nearby, so have an opportunity to discuss that sometimes it seems other triangles can be formed because the strips she’s using are actually rectangles instead of lines.

My favorite line in the book: “You don’t have to memorize this, just think about what happens when you try to make a triangle.” Once again, RightStart emphasizes understanding a concept over memorizing it.

23 August 2006

Tuesday Teatime

Tuesday Teatime was held outside in our play fort. We grabbed popsicles and a book of poetry, climbed up, hunkered down, and read.

Our book was Cynthia Rylant's Boris. Boris is a cat, and cats are always popular subjects for poetry at our house. Cynthia Rylant has written an entire book of free verse about Boris and her relationship to him.

Several of the poems were above 6 year old Kid2's head. When we read about Boris in the vet's office swaggering out "with the latest copy of Cat Fancy in one paw and a martini in the other," she wasn't quite sure what was being described. "Is that a kind of doggy treat?" she asked. No, honey, it's a drink, a human drink, and don't worry if you don't quite understand - it's a little old for you. The point today is to enjoy the parts you do understand, and also see that people write poetry about everything, simply everything. And there are many silly, enjoyable-by-a-6-year-old moments in the book.

Kid1, at the sage old age of 10, declared that she really "got" the imagery. Hmmm, I wonder. I silently mused that good poetry (and prose) tells us something new year after year as we grow older. For now, though, it's okay to enjoy the bits and pieces we understand, sitting in a fort high above the ground with lemon popsicles in hand.

22 August 2006

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have a 10yo and a 6yo who have average math ability.The 10yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

On Tuesdays I upload an update of what we did in math for the week.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 40 Area of Octagons.

Lesson 39, area of hexagons, took a long, long time -- over an hour. Lesson 40, area of octagons takes minutes. The student is simply to demonstrate ways it can be done -- no actual measuring takes place. It’s a fun lesson, stretching the imagination as Kid1 tries to come up with various ways to divide an octagon into triangles and rectangles.

Lesson 41 Ratios of Areas.

This gets off to a rocky start, as Kid1 is to draw a rectangle the same height as the one given, but twice the area. I pause to demonstrate how I would do it, a skill honed through years of laziness (“I would just take my T-square and draw a long line here ... and here ... see, I don’t even measure, I just use the lines they used for the top and bottom of their rectangle as my guide ... okay, now you’re ready to figure out how to make the area twice as large”).

I notice she has learned that tick marks can denote equivalent lines. Cool.

Lesson 42 Measuring Angles.

Kid1 is measuring the angle of her elbow with the goniometer. “This book is a lot less stuffy than a lot of textbooks, Mom.” Later she is flipping the goniometer around carelessly. I ask her to stop, not wanting her to ruin it. She replies that the book tells how to put it back together if it breaks. Yeah, well, it’s still not a good idea.

Lesson 43 Supplementary and Vertical Angles

Kid1 come bouncing into the room: “I thought this was going to be a long, boring hard lesson, and I was going to have to ask you for help, but it wasn’t. It was really good.“

“So, was it good because it was easy, or short, or what?”

“It wasn’t exactly easy ... it was just really fun. It wasn’t the most fun of any lesson -- I liked the lesson that was 2 worksheets where you had to name figures better.”

She shows me the worksheet. “Look, here I had to figure out this angle without measuring.” The picture shows various lines which would add up to 360 degrees; I can see that you could easily figure it out using the idea of supplementary angles. “My explanation of how I did it was a little different than their’s. I didn’t understand that I was supposed to write it out step by step as I went through it.” Yes, the students are supposed to be writing out how they arrive at some of their answers. And, yes, this one sounds like an informal proof.

I comment, “Someday you’ll learn to do this in a formal way ... it’s called a ‘proof’. You’ll prove that this angle is a certain measurement.”

She softly sighs, “Oooh,” her eyes shining with anticipation.

21 August 2006


Sewing Project 1: Sewing down the picots on Picovoli.

Oh, those picots. So many little picots. All those little live stitches in need of sewing down.

I've separated the Debbie Bliss Cathay into plies, and am sewing with about 3 plies at a time. I'm starting to get the hang of it; I started with the bottom hem, which came out sort of lumpy, and then did the neckline. Both areas stick out (the hem looks like a miniature tutu). I hope blocking will take care of that. I still need to do the armholes.

I still love the shaping on Picovoli -- those lovely princess darts in the front and back thrill me.

Sewing Project 2: Making hot pink fuzzy cushions with pale pink cording.

Since MrV was away doing Guy Stuff all weekend, we did Girl Stuff here. This included trashing the dining room by cutting out and sewing fuzzy, fleecy hot pink knitted fabric for cushions for the top of Kid2's toybox. The raw edge of the fabric drops fuzz everywhere; the fuzz clings to everything it touches. Kid1 said it looked like we'd had a pink snowstorm strike our house. I'm sure it will clog my vacuum cleaner.

The fabric was a horrible choice for sewing cushions -- it crept and crawled all over the place. It was quite stretchy -- a 60 inch strip I cut to encase cording would suddenly blossom into a 68 inch strip. Yikes.

So far I've only completed one of the two needed cushions. The seams are wobbly. The cording is crooked. I swear it is a different shape than the 15 by 17 rectangle I carefully measured out. But Kid2 is enchanted. Hot pink! Fuzz and fluff! It just screams "this belongs with Hello Kitty decor!"

18 August 2006

Tuesday Teatime

This week's menu: Banana "ice cream" topped with fresh raspberries, with strawberry-kiwi juice to drink. (To make banana ice cream, peel and freeze chunks of bananas. When frozen, grind in Champion Juicer fitted with blank plate.)

We read Celia Thaxter's poem entitled August, and also Leisure by William H. Davies. Both can be found in Favorite Poems Old and New.

After that, we went with a back-to-school theme, since the local public schools started up this week. Favorite Poems Old and New supplied School-Bell by Eleanor Farjeon. Then I read selected poems from "Wahoo! Elementary" by Hudson Harrison. Honestly, I wasn't that thrilled with some of the poems in this book. I didn't feel a deep need to read a poem about head lice, for example (at least not today -- let's not rule it out forever). Kid1 had alread read the book to herself earlier in the week, so we discussed our thoughts on the various poems as we went along.

We finished with our traditional taking-turns-blowing-out-the-candle. This week we managed to make it through this without wax splattered across the tablecloth. Woohoo! Just goes to show that practice makes perfect.

15 August 2006

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have a 10yo and a 6yo who have average math ability.The 10yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

On Tuesdays I upload an update of what we did in math for the week.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 35 Converting Inches to Centimeters. I noticed a sidebar on this lesson that gave a mnemonic for the conversion: 1 inch = 2.54 cm is like $1 is 25(quarter) times 4. Hmmm, how clever. I memorized the conversion through brute memorization of using it so often, although I typically use 1 inch equals 2.5 cm when I’m in a hurry (a 4 inch by 4 inch swatch of knitting is the same as a 10 cm by 10 cm swatch, as knitters all over the US are well aware).

After Kid1 completes the lesson I ask if if she remembers the conversion factor. She says, “yeah, it’s 2.75 ... wait, that’s not right ... .” “Wrong number of quarters, I think.” “Yeah, I knew it was something to do with quarters.” I start to pontificate that it’s better to remember it in regards to knitting swatches, and am about to start in on converting seam allowances in home sewing, but she wanders off.

Overall, though, I think maybe the the straight forward memorization is better than the mnemonic. I think she’ll eventually remember it the way I do, through extensive use in sewing and knitting.

Lesson 36 Name that Figure. Fun little game of naming figures which introduces the practice of using letters to indicate vertices. Also has a clever way to remember how to spell Isosceles. Sometimes she simply can’t remember the names of these figures. I worry about that -- does this mean she doesn’t “get” geometry?

Lesson 37 Finding the Areas of More Triangles. The worksheet includes the Guyana Flag problem, which was also in Level E. For some reason we did not do that lesson in Level E, so Kid1 is stymied ... she is trying to measure the sides of the flag in millimeters, and figure out the conversion ratio to give her the measurements given on the worksheet. I point out that she has everything she needs to know without measuring -- the worksheet says the left side is 26cm, the upper edge is 33.8cm, and point E is the center of the flag; we should assume it’s a perfect rectangle.

“Oh!” she exclaims, “that means these 4 triangles have the same area!” Ummmm, does it? I’m not sure off the top of my head, so I cover my confusion by pointing out that we know half the side will be 13cm, etc. etc. so we can find the area of all these other triangles.

As she gets to work I pull out Level E and flip to the lesson. I notice a sidebar: “A gifted child might notice that the triangles each take up 1/4 the rectangle.”

“Hey, guess what! According to this you’re gifted!” Ho ho ho, we laugh. After all, Kid1 is thoroughly convinced she stinks at math ... at least she was until we got involved in RightStart. I guess my worries yesterday were a bit unfounded -- some stuff she’s really good at, some stuff she still needs to work on.

Lesson 39 Area of Trapezoids. First problem; we also didn’t do the Level E lesson on distributive property. Although the geometry book explains it well, I give her a quick rundown (“Pretend I have the invecta balance here and I’m hanging those weights on it....”) and assure her that kids who never saw Level E or any RightStart whatsoever can figure this out. She runs into problems with the worksheet. The book has shown one reason the area of a trapezoid can be expressed as w1 plus w2 times h over 2. She is supposed to discover and explain another way of understanding it: 2 identical trapezoids, rotated and shoved together, make a parallelogram; if you find the area of the parallelogram and divide it in 2, you have the same formula.

She looks frustrated by the concept -- what the heck does the book want? What are they getting at? I say something to the effect, “they just want you to say that since you have 2 identical trapezoids of course you can divide the answer in half. I think maybe it’s so obvious you don’t understand why you have to say it. It’s that ‘gifted child’ thing from yesterday, you know.” She giggles, the mood lightens, and she continues with the lesson.

Lesson 39 Area of Hexagons. She starts off commenting, “you know what? There was another worksheet in the last lesson I didn’t do.” “Are you going to do it now?” “No, I don’t think so.” Thank goodness, because this lesson took at least 1.5 hours as it was. Of course, within that time we ran into a whoppin’ huge fight on the definition of a trapezoid -- for some reason she had concluded that an isosceles trapezoid wasn’t actually a trapezoid, possibly because all the trapezoids she’s been working with are non-isosceles. Thankfully, I found one pictured in lesson 36 (under the lesson on how to spell “isosceles”). Also, she’s quite peeved that 1.2 times 1.4 doesn’t equal something bigger than 1.68 ... pesky decimals.

The final problem involves measuring stars that she had drawn in earlier lessons. I’m glad I’m on hand to demonstrate that you round off the measurements quite a bit to get the ratios needed.

10 August 2006

Knitting Notes

How's Picovoli going, you ask?

Fa bene. Tres bon. Muy bien, gracias.

(I just realized I have no idea how to say "very good" in Latin or Mandarin. How embarassing.)

I love the darts. I don't think you can see them in this photo, but the waist nips in, then back out via decreases and increases. They look like the darts on June Cleaver's dress bodice. I love the effect. Then again, I'd like to prance around my house in those oh-so-structured dresses and high heels, with my hair done. (I just got in from mowing the lawn. I am sweaty and skanky. I never, ever saw June Cleaver look how I feel right now. But this is the only time I can grab the computer between Kid1's work on Rosetta Stone and her typing program.)

I loved all the stockinette. I enjoy stockinette, particularly on circular needles, because I can read while I knit. I have a huge pile of lovely, lovely books from the library right now. Picovoli is reposing on one now -- it's an Interlibrary Loan, with huge notices of NOT RENEWABLE all over it. (This, of course, simply means that my local library doesn't want to mess with renewal requests. I used to be in charge of ILL at a university library. Most lending libraries will grant at least one extension.) So, I must get this book read NOW. This has been a great knitting projecct under the circumstnaces.

Unfortunately, I'm now faced with sewing up all those picots. I don't think I can do that and read at the same time. I shall have to turn to watching television. Fortunately, we just discovered that we have access to 7 hours of Star Trek every week day -- 2 hours of Deep Space Nine, 5 hours of Next Generation. (Classic Star Trek is available on Saturdays.) So there's hope.

Overall, though, I'd rather read and knit than watch TV and knit. I used to knit in my college classes. Being a goody-two-shoes, I always checked with the professor first to make sure it was okay. This was back before knitting was trendy, so it was some weird, bohemian thing I was asking. And, hey, it kept me awake in class. I should've tried it in Soil Science, which had the very poor schedule placement of right-after-lunch. I mean, it's not like I consider Soil Science scintillating to begin with (there are those who do, I know). And right-after-lunch was the death knell. I always sat right in front, in hopes that would help me stay awake. Nope. Zzzzzz. Too bad, because now I'm not sure what to do with the clay soil on the front slope of our yard. (My mind wanders a lot when I mow. Consider a sampling of what it's like to be in my head whilst I'm pushing my mower, which, by the way, is not self-propelled. And have I mentioned how hot and humid it is today?)

The other BIG knitting news was reported to me yesterday afternoon by a very excited 6 year old ... the next American Girl movie will be about Molly. Now, Felicity and Samantha undoubtably knew how to knit, but Molly actually had a story line about knitting in one of her books. As I recall (amazingly, we own no Molly books) the girls in her class at school were trying to knit socks for the (WWII) soldiers. Molly sensed this would be a Bad Idea, probably because she didn't want to turn the heels (coward). So, they turned their knitting into a patchwork afghan. I've always wondered about this -- how can the cuff of a sock become an afghan square? Did girls back then typically work socks flat, then sew them up? Did they fearlessly cut them open? If they could do that, why couldn't they turn a heel? Was the author just sort of clueless about knitting? I need to re-read the book -- maybe I'm remembering this wrong. I'll definitely be watching the movie, though. We might get some kid-sock-knitting action going, or maybe some afghan-square-knitting action.

09 August 2006

Tuesday Teatime

For a total change of pace, we used suppertime as Tuesday Teatime.

MrV was out of town, so we had the supper table to ourselves. I pulled out a copy of Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. Many of those poems have to do with eating, such as Hungry Mungry, and Pancakes. We also read some non-food poems, like Afraid of the Dark.

I would read a poem, then pause to eat while we would discuss what I'd read. Often the discussion took the form of giggling and repeating favorite lines. Long after the meal was over I overheard lines and images repeated. On the other hand, some of the poems seemed to make no impression at all. That was okay with me -- I didn't like all of them either.

08 August 2006

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have a 10yo and a 6yo who have average math ability.The 10yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

On Tuesdays I upload an update of what we did in math for the week.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 29, Area of Consecutive Squares. Attention please: this is a very bad place to take a break of several months! Really! Lesson 28 goes with lesson 29! If you take a couple of months off, it can get really weird, particularly if your student has issues with the concept presented anyway.

In our house tears soon welled up. She moaned, “I don’t understand this equation!” Pointing to w squared plus 2w plus 1, she read, “width squared plus 2 width plus 1.” I suggested that she read the w as “whatever number you want” instead of “width” -- does that help? Yes, for some reason it does. Or maybe it’s just getting a grip and realizing that yes, she will do this math and survive.

The question at the end of worksheet 29-2, “on what worksheet did you work with that relationship?” is tough, considering it has been several weeks since she did ANY worksheets. I give prompts.

Lesson 30 Perimeter Formula for Rectangles. In this case w is width. She likes perimeter, and would rather do it than area.

Lesson 31 Area of a Parallelogram. While working on the worksheet she calls out to me, “what are factors?” I walk in and glance at her paper, discussing that factors are the things that are multiplied to make a number. The question says that the preceding problems should’ve reminded her of factors. Hmm, that’s odd -- how would the perimeters that’s she’s been doing remind her of factors? But I have something else on my mind, and wander off. She complains that she got the next question wrong. I look at the sheet and, AHA! This was all about area, not perimeter! Egads! I brood because my child can’t remember the difference between perimeter vs. area. Overall, this lesson took an hour and a half, including discussion about whether to erase incorrectly drawn rectangles (based on perimeter) or throw the whole thing out and start over.

Lesson 32 Comparing Calculated Areas of Parallelograms.. Piece of cake. It’s amazing -- days in the depths of despair over math are followed by days of absolute confidence.

Lesson 33 Area of a Triangle. Yes, we did these lessons back in Level E, but still, this lack of interaction is scary. She gets out math, does it, puts it away. Is she learning anything?

I can't resist discussing the sidebar comment, just so I can feel involved. "Remember, formulas should not be rote memorized. Thik them through so they make sense."

"Did you notice that comment? Eh? Eh?"

"Yes, Mom." Heavy sigh, eye roll.

Lesson 34 Comparing Calculated Areas of Triangles. One great feature of RightStart Geometry is that if the hypothetical homeschooling parent decides to join the Self-Inflicted Injury of the Week Club, the parent can sit with her hypothetically bandaged ankle propped up, writing in her hypothetical homeschooling log that they just had an impromptu First Aid lesson while at the same time the student can do math! Cool!

When I hobbled in to see what Kid1 was up to I discovered she was jotting down a list of mistakes she had found so far in the book -- the time the book didn’t list one of the worksheets to be done, the time the materials list didn’t mention a calculator, and today’s snafu -- part of the worksheet was left off. She suspected that there should be another problem on the worksheet; when she checked the answer sheet the answer was there, but no corresponding problem had been on the worksheet.

07 August 2006


the writing on the box declared, "Contents may cause dizziness, faintness, and shortness of breath due to happiness. Sender is not liable if recipient ignores children and husband as a result of opening."

(With a little sub script declaring: "Post office people, this is a joke. Contents are benign.")

Yes, it's another fabulous Secret Pal package from TheDenimJumper homeschool Secret Pal Swap.

This one features 2 boxes of tea, including one from Germany called Sommernachtstraum/Summer Night's Dream. Did my Secret Pal realize that we're about to start reading A Midsummer Night's Dream for our Shakespeare play this year? I have the video out of the library -- we can sip this tea while watching, then have some more while reading the play.

A Lord Peter Wimsey book was also in the box. I just finished my first Amelia Peabody/Elizabeth Peters book, and this will be the perfect follow up.

Lip balm -- can you ever have enough lip balm? I can't. And hand balm, too! Both in cute little containers I can pop in my purse.

The yarn is Lana Grossa, Meilenweit Cotton Spirit, a blend of cotton, wool and polymide. Oooooh, this is going to make some nice socks! Kid2 saw it and instantly asked, "Can you make some socks for me out of this?" No, no, no. This is for me!

And the hot pink trim -- you should've seen Kid1's jaw drop when she saw it! It's so glitzy and fun.

I think the hot chocolate mix proves my Secret Pal's sense of humor; I've decided it's never going to be cool enough to drink hot chocolate again. Although, really, we seem to have acclimated to the heat -- we can be out in 95F/35C and feel quite comfy. We figure we're going to need heavy coats if it ever dips down to 65F/18C. Hmmm, maybe that hot chocolate is a good idea after all.

Post it notes -- don't homeschool without them! And such big, fun ones!

A ringbound quote book that my Secret Pal made for me. This is so cool! MrV wants one, too! My current favorite quote: "Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then only eat one of the pieces." (Judith Viorst)

And also, a bag of Mozart Kugeln candies -- chocolate, marzipan and pistachio praline. Mmmmmm, I'm waiting to open this so I have appropriate time and privacy to swoon.

The Secret Pal game is wrapping up now. It's been great fun. I think another will be starting, so if you missed out on this one you can keep on eye on TheDenimJumper for the next. Heck, keep an eye on TheDenimJumper anyway -- it's a great place to discuss homeschooling.

04 August 2006

First Week Back to Homeschooling

Back story: I've been talking about Latin-centered curriculum with my kids all summer, emphasizing how wonderful it will be to pare down the number of subjects studied. Kid1 seemed on board with the idea, especially ditching Rod&Staff grammar which she has grown to loathe as much as I do.

Last week Kid1 announced that she would like to start school this week because "there's such a thing as too much free time," and the days seem to pass more quickly when she's busy. My brow furrowed; an entire conversation about her (failed) resolve to do math or spelling every day all summer hung palpably in the air. I said,"well, you could figure out things for yourself to keep yourself busy, you know." The conversation died. I assumed she meant that she wanted me to be responsible for keeping her busy. I am her accountability partner, it would seem.

So, okay, we would "start school" this week. I suggested a light schedule -- our key subjects are Latin and math, so maybe just some Latin review and math every day.

"Spelling -- remember that I want to do spelling." Kid1 has a deep love of Spelling Power. I am not so thrilled with it, but it's only 15 minutes a day, so it doesn't really interrupt my Multum non Multa groove.

"And I want to learn about the Romans in Britain this year."

"????. You hated the Romans, remember?" Really, we had to skip the last several chapters of Story of the World vol.1 because she was fed up with the Romans.

"Yeah, well, now I want to learn about them." On the other hand, starting Latin this week has been voted down. Go figure.

Kid2 took this as a signal to announce, "I want to learn about the Egyptians this year!" Kid2 had never ever expressed any interest whatsoever in the Egyptians, and I have an unsettling feeling that "learn about the Egyptians" really means "mummify a chicken." Yikes! I said nothing in reply, fearing what I would hear if I probed.

Oh, and the Classical Writing books suggest that kids learn to type so it's easier for them to write out their papers. So, we'll throw typing onto the stack of things to do.

And, coincidentally, Mr.V just got Rosetta Stone Spanish levels 1 and 2, and "Mommy, I've really been wanting to learn Spanish. Can I go ahead and try this?"

At this point the Multum non Multa idea is out the window. Heck, "Latin-centered" is out the window. Kid1's schedule for the week has been spelling, RightStart Geometry, Rosetta Stone Spanish, and typing.

Kid2 has done a bit of phonics. Later in the week she realized that one of her dolls wants to learn to read, although apparently the doll had vision problems and needed reading glasses (for the record, none of us wear glasses, although I've noticed some short-arm-syndrome creeping into my vision). We found a pair of doll-glasses in the basement, and Kid2 has been teaching phonics rather than learning it herself.

Our read alouds have been Norse Myths, King Arthur, and the Little House in the Highlands series.

Honestly, the biggest chunk of time this week has been spent on this:

The origami stuff was in the basement. The weather has been stinkin' hot. The basement is cool.

I love the elephants.

03 August 2006

Random Knitting Thoughts

I took Picovoli and the coordinating knitting bag to a kid-thing yesterday. I was so impressed with myself -- I was going to sit in the background, knitting away, looking coordinated even though I didn't attempt to match my clothing to the knitting and bag (mostly because I didn't think of it until just now). The other moms were going to be So Impressed.

When I got there and pulled out my knitting I realized that I had lost my beginning-of-row marker some time in the last 34 rows of knitting. And, since it was time to place new markers based on the position of that marker, well, hmmm, not much I could do.

I think the problem was that I used official stitch markers. I usually use hair elastics I find down the side of the couch, or old twist ties that are littering the floor. Hair elastics and twist ties have more zing. One sees them and thinks, "what is all that crap hanging on my knitting?" and then recalls that one is marking one's place. Regular stitch markers are so anonymous, they quietly drop off into oblivion.

So I'll have to wait to impress that particular group of moms. One of them impressed me -- I overheard her comment that her choices in medication for a particular condition were limited since, "I'm still nursing," and she gestured to her 2 year old just like it was the most normal thing in the world to be nursing a 2 year old. Woohoo.

In the meantime, I keep popping up with new things I want to start knitting NOW. I found some green merino laceweight in my closet, purchased to knit myself a shawl. I look hideous in green, but this is yarn is so very pretty I might just cast it on and knit a ... thing. A lace thing. A lace thing that exists simply to be soft and lacy and green. Also, I was looking through my Mason Dixon book and was overcome by the notion that I can knit that rug we need for the back door on big, stocky needles. Plus, the new Interweave Knits arrived, full of patterns I could actually picture myself knitting and wearing.

I've also been thinking about sewing. I've spent the morning pondering a subscription to Burda Moden, or maybe re-subscribing to Ottobre. This reminded me that I used to buy Mon Trictot magazine at that dirty little grocery store out past the dorms at college. Does Mon Tricot still exist? I got rid of all my old copies in a fit of decluttering -- I'm not sure why, since the patterns were no worse (and often better) than those in all those old copies of Vogue Knitting and Easy Knitting I kept. In college I knit myself a sweater set out of Mon Tricot, using Unger Cruise (the owner of the nearby yarn store was quite a fan of Unger Cruise or any other acrylic yarn -- she liked the fact that she could break off the yarn by melting it with her lit cigarette, freeing her of the need to keep track of scissors). Gees, those were the days, knitting crappy acrylic just because it was there and I felt like knitting, even though knitting wasn't fashionable at the time. I think I've become overly pragamatic as I've aged.

02 August 2006

Tuesday Teatime

Kid2 appeared in the kitchen yesterday morning brandishing all the small poems and fourteen more by Valerie Worth. I told her that I wasn't going to read it aloud at the moment since I was about to eat breakfast, but, hey, it's Tuesday! How about we have a Tuesday Teatime?

She danced out of the room, re-entering a few minutes later to announce that she'd found a poem that she wanted to share at our teatime -- Sea Lions. She had pre-read it, and could read all the words (at age 6 she still finds some words rather shifty and prone to playing tricks on her).

Gratuitous picture of our dining room:

It spent most of July in a jumble of drop cloths and icky sticky bits of wallpaper. Two layers of wallpaper were removed, taking off some of the drywall with it. Drywall was repaired, ceiling was repaired (former owners were quite fond of massive draperies that hung by bolts from the ceiling), walls painted, ceiling painted, queer assortment of electrical outlets replaced. We still need to rip up the ugly grey carpet, install a wood floor, purchase a rug and a sane window treatment ... but in the meantime, it's actually usable as a place to have tea.

I had a niggling feeling there was some festival yesterday or today. A quick look at our plethora of festival books showed that it was Lammas, which is also Loaf-mass. Well, it was waaay too hot to bake a loaf of bread to celebrate the beginning of the harvest, so we stopped by Trader Joe's and got a Lemon Crown Cake and a bottle of pineapple juice -- both were a golden yellow that put me in mind of the end of summer.

Kid2 led off our teatime with her reading of Sea Lions. Next, I shared some of the information I had found on Lammas. One of the sources I read noted that bees were busy this time of year, so it seemed quite appropriate to read The Queen Bee from The Brothers Grimm. That led naturally to reading the poem Hurt No Living Thing by Christina Rosetti. I also read How Doth the Little Busy Bee by Isaac Watts, and Go to the Ant from the Bible (all three selections found in Favorite Poems Old and New ).

Next, I read a version of the Sumerian myth of Inanna and her trip to the Underworld, which bears a resemblance to the tale of Persephone and Hades.

After the story was finished, Kid2 gave us a reprise of Sea Lions. This time she concentrated on reading it "poetically".

A great start to another season of teatimes!

01 August 2006

It's the little things

Here's my knitting set atop my knitting bag:

Note how the purple yarn I'm using exactly matches the purple flowers embroidered on the bag. Isn't that cool? Do you think people see me knitting and think, "Wow, what a pulled-together woman -- her knitting matches her knitting bag!"?

Probably no one has noticed at all. That's why I'm pointing it out to you, so you can know that for one brief, shining moment I was that pulled together.

The knitting is Picovoli. I didn't rip it out last week. I found a schematic for it which showed that it was really shaping up just fine. Also, I got an email intervention from veteran Picovoli-knitter Poppins who told me something to the effect of "trust the pattern" (which reminded me of bit in Mason-Dixon Knitting where they say they want to have an Outward Bound-type event with linen yarn and everyone will "start crying because we all trusted the yarn" -- God help me, I think that's hilarious, which probably proves to y'all I need to get out more). Anyway, I'm trusting and knitting. I really didn't believe the pattern-writer, Grumperina, would have a major booboo in the pattern, so it's a relief to forge ahead.

Someone at Mothering.com was posting about knitting a wedding veil. I'm seized with a sudden urge to knit something large and lacy and stupidly complex. It occurs to me that I have at least 8 years before Kid1 will need a veil -- should I start now? What if she never marries? What if she marries, but doesn't want a veil? Should these considerations stand in my way?