31 October 2006


Floor guy just called. Is it okay if they come today and start ripping up the floor?

(It was supposed to be later this week.)

My new Halloween costume: Mom on overload. Too much to cope with.

Blogging may resume in a few days, after I've recovered from the shock. The one positive thing about this is that it's Halloween, so there just might be enough chocolate in the house to get me through this.

27 October 2006

House Work

New floor:

Old floors:

We're hiring someone to do the actual installation. The wisdom of this became apparent when MrV opened the top box and started classifying each individual piece of wood as to where he thought it would look best: "I think this one we should put this distance from the stairs; I don't like this one, and maybe they could put it in the closet." Lordy, it would take us a year to try various layouts to optimize the "design". The crew we hired estimated 1.5 days.

The fact that someone else is actually installing the floor doesn't mean that we get off the hook from doing much work. We have to move all the furniture out of the living room and dining room (this means finding some place for it all) and ripping up the old floor.

Which is a long, roundabout way of saying that not much knitting or sewing is going on.

25 October 2006

Family Portrait

I wanted to wear swimsuits and snorkels, but I was voted down by kids who wanted to WEAR HATS.

Wow, the original looked okay, but now that I've uploaded it onto Blogger it just sort of shouts "This Woman is Frazzled!"

Nothing like blogging to learn new things about yourself. I've just realized I need a trip to Oahu. Solo.

24 October 2006

RightStart Geometry and a tiny bit of RightStart B

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have an 11yo and a 7yo who have average math ability.The 11yo 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 68 Circle Designs

This looks like a cool, easy lesson. Except that once Kid1 starts working on the first worksheet she discovers that the circle design, with a designated radius of 60mm, doesn’t fit on the page. She is highly annoyed. The second worksheet had designs using a radius of 30mm. Hmmmm. It occurs to her that the first worksheet has a typo.

She does both worksheets using circles with 30mm radii. It works. But it’s still ... annoying.

Lesson 69 Rounding Edges with Tangents

I don’t believe I’ve ever learned the official way to round a corner using a tangent. I always just sort of eyeballed it and guessed. Kid1 starts to ask me how to do something; I gamely start drawing parallels and perpendiculars (with no clue where, exactly, I’m headed). It becomes clear to her what she is to do. Thank goodness. I hope she’s around when her younger sister gets to this lesson, because I’m lost.

Lesson 70 Tangent Circles

“Oh, good. I’ve been waiting for this lesson!” Apparently she had peeked ahead, and was anticipating drawing a trefoil, quatrefoil, spiral and yin-yang symbol.

During the lesson she stumbles somewhat on drawing the spiral. By the time she reads aloud and explains to me her question she figures out what she needs to do (whew! I just dodged another bullet!).

I had not paid much attention to the equipment needed for Geometry, and thought we had the appropriate compass. We have the Safe-T Compass used for lower levels of RightStart; these lessons really need the mmArc Compass. Kid1 manages to muddle through (although she thinks the spiral would’ve turned out better with the mmArc Compass). I’ve noticed that Hobby Lobby has a lot of this equipment in their drafting section; I’ll try to get by there to see if they stock the mmArc Compass.

Lesson 71 Bisecting Angles

I always thought that it was fun to bisect angles. Kid1 shares my enthusiasm. This is an easy, fun lesson. She asks me no questions, but if she had I could’ve answered -- I love this stuff.

Lesson 72 Perpendicular Bisectors

The lesson flows smoothly. I have no contact with it whatsoever. It’s an odd feeling after all those intense one-on-one lessons in earlier levels.

RightStart B:

We have started back up with RightStart B, pretty much right where we left off. Really, though, I haven't been keeping track of what we do day-to-day. I'll try to get back to it. Frankly, by the time we finish the lesson I'm pretty much mathed-out for the day, and don't care to think about it any longer (fortunately, Kid2 isn't catching this attitude -- she thinks it's all great fun).

19 October 2006

Socktoberfest: Stash Flash Edition

Last week the suggestion was posted to flash your sock yarn stash for Socktoberfest. And I do have a bit of a sock yarn stash. It's to the left:

During the course of the week, though, I started getting all existential about "what is 'sock' stash? Can we truly differentiate? What criteria should we use?" The whole Dulaan-knitting-prompted these thoughts.

You see, I was merrily knitting along on Dulaan socks with that blue yarn in the front left. Cute little socks. Oh yeah. But the thought crossed my mind: "Would my kids go sledding in these socks?" Sledding is cold, but not as cold as Mongolia. And sledding is about 2 blocks away from here, so you can practically run over to The Hill, take a couple of runs down, and run back home without even putting on a hat. And yet, the blue socks were too wimpy to function as sledding socks. What was I thinking, knitting them up for freezing Mongolian children, who don't have a warm home waiting for them 2 blocks away?

So, those socks (and the accompanying pile of sock yarn) have been ditched. I discovered a skein of red heavy worsted Farm Yarn from Little Turtle Knits. This is the sort of stuff that sneers at cold weather, by golly. It's knitting up into some really righteous winter socks.

And I also discovered a pattern for socks out of Lopi Lite, right there on the suggested-patterns-for-Dulaan-list . I had some here to make a felted bag, but really, do I really need yet another felted bag? Heck, no. Throw that Lopi Lite on the new, improved sock yarn pile!

In the middle of the picture is a display of my sock knitting books: Sensational Socks, Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, and Folk Socks. I also have sock patterns in several other knitting books, and a slew of back issues of Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting that contain sock patterns. I've never used a single one of them. I always end up pulling a pattern off the internet for free.

Socktoberfest and Dulaan have me rethinking what I want to accomplish regarding sock knitting, and how I want to accomplish it. It's good to step back and look at these piles, and think "why?"

17 October 2006

Tuesday Teatime

Today's teatime featured a fruit juice beverage made by Kid2 out of her Brownie Try-It book, thus completing her requirements for Make it, Eat it. This is her first completed Try-It, and she was truly excited to finish it up.

We also had angel food cake from Trader Joe's, with sides of Soy Delicious Carob Mint (fruit juice sweetened!) and enough whipped cream to cover the plate in mounds of white.

Teatime took place at the kitchen table since the dining room is currently in use for Halloween-costume-construction. I read various poems from All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth. I picked out poems about skeletons, spiders, geese flying south ... various autumn images. I also chose others that had a theme that I knew the kids would enjoy (for example, Kid2 loves potatoes, so I read about potatoes). I like this book of poetry, and I think the kids do, too.

Holiday from Geometry

I was going to say "Math Holiday", but that isn't accurate. We've been doing some long division, working out of RightStart Level E, and also in Murderous Maths (beloved math books that they are). And also a fair bit of real life math, including some of the mathy bits at The Magic House , which had Homeschool Day yesterday.

Kid2 is getting back into the swing of doing RightStart Level B. We've picked up right where we left off, with the introduction of the Base 10 cards. I figured we might as well pull out the Cuisenaire Base 10 block set, by golly, since that's what the cards are picturing. This set off a spate of building:

We have the wooden set. And we've discovered that you can use all the hundred flats and 10 rods to build a tower, peopled with the little ones cubes. You can even take away some of the 10 rods and retain structural integrity. But if you take off the topmost hundred flat, the tower collapses. Interesting, eh? And we also discovered that if you repeatedly knock over the tower on purpose you eventually crack one of the hundred flats, and Mommy gets all out-of-sorts and delivers a stern lecture about the number of building blocks we own which could be used for this purpose, for pete's sake, so why are we bashing around the math manipulatives? (leaving kids to wonder why Mommy was taking pictures of the tower if she was going to turn around and get all cranky about it, but that's sort of outside of the realm of "learning about math").

16 October 2006

As Requested, The Machine

I got it Friday morning, brought it home, set the box on the floor, and didn't get a chance to touch it until Sunday evening:

Yes, a Babylock Imagine. I chose Babylock over Viking because of the ease of threading (which, had you seen me trying to thread the Babylock Sunday night, you would've realized what a brilliant move that was on my part, given how inept I was even with the super-simple Babylock "Woosh" to help me).

First project up is going to be Halloween costumes. We have a bolt of bright pink satin-like fabric, we have a pattern. We have no notions, though, like bright pink thread (we seem to have used it all up, or else it's lost in one of the kids' rooms), single-fold bias tape, maybe even another package of 1/4 inch elastic.

But, of course, we have to wait to get the notions until after our field trip today. And then, of course, we have dance class this afternoon, yada, yada, yada.

Sigh. I've got the machine, now I desperately need time to actually use it.

10 October 2006

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have an 11yo and a 7yo who have average math ability.The 11yo 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 65 Tangents to Circles

Working with tangents, radii, and tangent segments, and solving some problems using these concepts. The first group of worksheet problems involves drawing tangents to a circles; the ever-popular “compare with other students in your class” appears. Next, the student is to draw tangent segments from points on either side of a circle and “compare with your classmates”. Kid1 works through all of these problems with no apparent issue.

The book gives some prodding for the last set of problems: “...you need to remember several things. What is the sum of hte angles in a quadrilateral? What is the radius if you know the diameter? What is the angle between a tangent and a radius? Do you remember wome basic Pythagorean triples?” But, alsa, Kid1 bogs down and claims she can’t do it.

I start at the top and review every problem on the worksheet with her. Then we review the answers to all the questions listed above. I comment that the fact that these questions are listed tells us that we probably need to use this knowledge to solve the last couple of problems. Yes, they look complicated on the page (all those segments! all those labels!), but if she breaks it down bit by bit she can figure out the answer.

I hold her hand. “Okay, what do we know? So, if we know this angle, what does that tell us about that angle?” And later, “So, if the length of this side of the triangle is 12, and the length of this side is 5, what’s the length of the other side? Okay, let’s review some basic Pythagorean triples: 3,4,5 and 5,12,13 and 7,24,25 ... so, what do you think?”

I’m not sure how imbedded any of this information is in her brain, but at least she now has experience in solving this type of problem. I wonder if she’ll be able to do it on her own later.

Lesson 66 Circumscribed Polygons

Kid1 is offended that the materials list is incomplete. Other than that, she plugs through the work. I’ve noticed that we alternate upsetting lessons with calm lessons.

Lesson 67 Pi, a Special Number

This lesson is still “in process” at our house. Pi has been discussed and played with for several lessons now; this lesson draws it all together. The history of pi is given, art based on pi is discussed.

There are 2 worksheets. The materials list for the worksheets is simply “ruler”. But, aha, if you’re working with pi (3.14, or maybe 22 over 7) then you’re going to have a bunch of calculations going, right? And they may involve long division, or multi-digit multiplication. And you may realize that back at that previous level of RightStart when you sort of suspected your child didn’t really “get” long division you were right. And that, as a matter of fact, that child has maybe forgotten everything discussed about multiplying with decimal numbers. And, if your child is a stickler for following the rules (because, after all, the materials list didn’t mention using a calculator) she’s feeling low about math right now.

Although I’m fine with her using a calculator to find the answers, she and I agree that she needs to understand how the calculations are done. We have stopped mid-worksheet to review long division.

09 October 2006

The Dulaan-Socktoberfest Confluence

Over the past few months I've noticed that weather systems tend to break southwest of here, and pass around us. When I ask people about this, they say, "Oh, that must be because of the confluence."


Back in Ohio, weather systems tended to break west of town. In that case, it was because we were in an extremely flat area, and there was a large ridge west of town. I can pretty much picture how a large mass of land might interrupt the eastward march of rainclouds, but I struggle to picture how a confluence has the same effect. I keep mentioning it to other people, but no one has been able to explain it. I took meteorology, I "get" a lot of geography, but I don't feel like figuring this out myself. So, I keep hoping that someone will come along and do my thinking for me.

In the meantime, I keep watching the weather maps, watching the great green blobs break up southwest of here, and keep thinking to myself, "Hmmmmm ... confluence ... cooooonnnfluuuuuuence ...." (I sort of like the word, y'know.)

So, here is my Dulaan - Socktoberfest confluence. I'm not sure what it will shield me from. Probably not weather.

I'd like to think it will shield me from plumbing problems, but that's sort of unlikely (snicker snicker snort -- if you lived here you'd know how really unlikely that is, and how handy it would be to have some magical talisman that guarantees working plumbing).

I think the most I can ascribe to this particular confluence its that it's shielding me from knitting on a Weasley. Check out that background upon which this cute little sock sets -- that's about 20 inches of stockinette on size 4 needles over 102 stitches. I'm normally a big fan of mindless knitting, but it's starting to wear on me. I'm enjoying this quick little break for child-size socks in variegated yarn.

Happy Dulaan! Happy Socktoberfest! Have a nice confluence!

06 October 2006

Socktoberfest Week One: A Sock-Knitting Memory

I had been knitting for years and years before I ever got around to knitting a sock. I'm not sure why -- I guess I simply wasn't interested in socks until recently.

But eventually the sock-knitting bug bit, and I decided to try a pair. I got some Wool-Ease in worsted weight for the adventure:

It's an off-white, with little strands of grey in it. I thought it looked like a sheep's fleece. Oh, these socks were destined to be cozy and wonderful!

I knit them up while watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding on DVD. I used a very basic pattern, mostly stockinette.

I tried them on. Egads, they gave the impression that they weren't socks at all -- instead, it looked as though I had fat ankles covered with pasty skin and lots of unshaven leg hair (those little strand of grey). Okay, my skin really is pasty, and my legs typically unshaven (although the hair isn't quite that dark), but my ankles most certainly aren't that fat!

As it happened, the socks soon developed a wicked hole in them. I discarded them, and assumed that the hole was a funtion of Wool-Ease not making good socks. No more Wool-Ease for me!

But, alas, it was many a skein of sock yarn before I realized that the yarn I liked to purchase to make socks often bore no resemblance to the yarn I liked to have in the socks I wear. There were some winners in there (notably Cascade Fixation), but there were also a distressing amount of losers. I have most of the skeins still hanging around, hoping to re-purpose them for something else. (I'm not quite sure what -- they'd make great Barbie pullovers and cardigans, although at this point I have enough yarn to knit sweaters for every Barbie in the metro area.)

I finally discovered that I really did like the yarns everyone raved about, like Lorna's Laces and Regia. This should have made for many happy pairs of socks flying off my needles. But, alas, I also realized that the sock patterns I liked to knit often bore no resemblance to the type of sock I like to wear. I like to knit lacey, interesting patterns. I find wearing fussy socks with little holes all over them really really annoying. Sigh. At this point I had amassed quite a collection of sock patterns in books an magazine, most of which were for socks it would drive me nuts to wear.

It would be great if I figured out how to make gift socks, but the whole sizing issue paralyzes me. I feel like I need to make plaster casts of the recipients feet to I can constantly try the socks on the model. It's a performance-anxiety thing.

The road to sock-knitting has been a rocky one for me. But, aha, if my kids should decide to take up sock knitting I have plenty of yarn and patterns for them to forage!

05 October 2006

I Don't Know if I'm One in a Million, but I'm Definitely One in 2007

Yes, I have signed up to participate inthe Dulaan Project . I emailed in to Ryan at Mossy Cottage Knits that I would provide 5 warm, cozy items for kids in Mongolia by next July. (Please note that for some reason I am able to link to Mossy Cottage Knits tonight. Sorry.) If you haven't heard about it yet, take the time to read the flyer I've linked. Or, for that matter, just google a phrase like "kids and Mongolia" to learn about the struggle to survive.

This is going to be a family affair. It's going to be a homeschool affair, too.

Two of the 5 items will be No-Sew Fleece Blankets. The kids have made these blankets before; one of the VBSes they attended this summer made them and shipped them to Mexico. And the kids also made No-Sew Fleece Pillows for MrV and Grandpa (out of Old Gold and Black of course). So, they've plenty of experience in the No-Sew Fleece department. We plan to go to JoAnn Fabrics sometime from Oct. 7-9, to check out the 72inch No-Sew Fleece Throw kits they have on sale for $13.99. But we might simply buy some fleece on sale, either this weekend or some future weekend.

And the other three items ... well, who knows. I'll be knitting those. I'm thinking about making a pair of socks (since I've also joined Socktoberfest). And a vest or sweater. And, well, something else that I'll think of later.

As a bonus, I think this would be an excellent time to learn more about Mongolia in our homeschooling. I'm trying to put together links and resources for that. Didn't we go through some history of the area in Story of the World? I seem to remember it, because I thought it would be cool at the time to felt a doll-size ger; I also remeber Kid1 pleading that we re-read-aloud I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade (we ended up doing neither, sigh).

I could also see rabbit trails of things like climate (for my weather-obsessed Kid2). What other areas have similar climate? And, of course, a rabbit trail about wool, and why it felts, and why it's so important in that type of climate. And maybe a rabbit trail about different dwellings for different cultures and climates. Oh, such possiblities.

And, of course, there's all the fun math: if 200 people have pledged to make 5 items each, how many items will be shipped? What happens if 2000 people make 5 items each? What if they each made 6 items instead of the 5 they originally said they would do?

03 October 2006

Magic Yarn Ball Swap!

My Magic Yarn Ball arrived today!

I opened the box and discovered:

Mmmmm, Hershey's caramel-filled Kisses (which I didn't even know existed!), a cute ladybug card, and a ball of Cascade Sierra Quattro with stitch markers dangling out, as well as a glimpse of something red ...

Action shot as I unwind one ball and wind another:

That glimpse of red was a ladybug button. So far I've found 2 of those, as well as a cool wooden toggle. But there are some intriguing bumps left in the ball, so I'll continue unwinding/rewinding:

The rewound ball with all the goodies! Beautiful stitch markers, stay-put white ring markers, coil knitting needle holders (another thing I didn't realize existed in the world, and will be So Very Handy -- how did I live without these?), cute buttons, funky tube beads. Great package! Thanks to the talented and creative ksjhwkr for a great swap!

(Please note that as soon as I snapped this picture we ripped into the candy.)

My kids were amazed that I rewound the ball into a new ball as I went along. Kid1 had made a Magic Yarn Ball for Kid2's birthday last week. This is how they believed it should be unwrapped:

Now, guess who got to wind that ball of red yarn back into a ball....

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 61 The Square Root Spiral

“This lesson took a long time. But it didn’t take much brain power. It just took awhile to draw all of those triangles. The chart went really fast.”

It would be cool to make some other designs with the spirals, but, as she said, it took forever to make them.

Lesson 62 Circle Basics

Kid1 is pretty clear on radius and diameter from reading the Sir Cumference books. But, if she weren’t, this lesson explains it simply and well. Reviews circumference, diameter, radius, arc, sector; the worksheet is matching definitions to pictures. Very quick.

Lesson 63 Ratio of Circumference to Diameter

Working with circles. Drawing around various mugs and cans (the book suggests going out and drawing around a bicycle tire with chalk -- that sounds cool to me, but Kid1 opts to stay indoors). Then use something such as beans or paper clips to measure circumference and diameter. Kid1 uses unpopped popcorn. I can’t help but think this would be a real mess in a classroom. Heck, this could be a real mess in some households, with popcorn and beans flying around the room. Fortunately, my kids are sedate.

Lesson 64 Inscribed Polygons

I swear Kid1 has done this before, but she doesn’t remember it. Perhaps I just remember seeing it in various Waldorf-based books. It takes quite a while for her to construct all of the polygons. And the chart contains the dreaded word ratio. This marks the first time all week she’s asked me for help with math -- what do they mean when they ask for a ratio? I explain it for the umpteenth time, commenting that she will eventually learn it since it seems to come up at least once a week.

02 October 2006


I had a sea of purple in my mailbox!

One envelope was from Poppins, whe sent me all sorts of wonderful stuff during the Secret Pal swap at TheDenimJumper this summer. That swap was supposedly over in August, but Poppins sent a super-surprising pacakge ... beautiful stitch markers (wrapped in purple), a CD, some of those amazing postcards she's famous for, a yummy recipe, and a specially-translated-from-German-by-Poppins knitting pattern. Woohoo! What a great surprise!

Of course, since I had so much fun with that swap at TheDenimJumper I was inspired to sign up for the Fall Fairy Swap at MotheringDotCom. And, on the same day I got Poppins package, I got a package from Ozzyemm, full of lavendar! Lavendar lip gloss, a lavendar sachet, a lavendar card, all of it enclosed in acres and acres of lavendar tissue. I love it!

And I love how the 2 packages coordinate!

The yarn? That's come Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece I had received from Webs earlier in the week. It, too, is purple, although my monitor shows it as more blue compared to that sea of purple in front of it. It will be a button up jacket for this fall. I'm all about purple this fall. How lucky to have a couple of swap-mates who caught that vibe!