26 February 2007

Green: Adventures with Wilton Icing Colors

I thought it would be nice to have a green silk for spring -- something to put on the Nature Table. And, lo and behold, I found a blank silk in the drawer. And, lo and behold, I found some Leaf Green Wilton Icing Color in my kitchen cabinet. Seems like fate, right?

Of course, I've never dyed fabric with food coloring before. But I'm not one to let little details stand in my way, even when the little details are along the lines of "no idea whatsoever what I'm doing".

I did find instructions on how to dye wool yarn with Wilton. It also mentions dyeing silk yarn. Close enough for me!

I put my silk blank in a Tupperware salad container full of tepid water to soak while I prepared my dye. I started heating the water in the tea kettle, and put filled a pot half way with water, setting the latter on the stove also.

When the tea kettle was fairly hot, I poured water into a measuring cup. I used about half a cup of extremely hot water. I got some Wilton on the tip of a dinner knife (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon) and stirred it into the hot water. It dissolved quickly. I then poured the now-green water into the pot on the stove, giving me a cooler dye bath.

At this point the silk blank had been soaking in its tepid water for 20-30 minutes. I removed it from the water, noted the foamy character of the water, contemplated the sudden memory that you're supposed to wash the silk blanks before dyeing (oops), decided to skip that step, and rinsed the silk blank lots and lots, hoping that would count as "washing".

I put the blank silk in the dye pot and started heating it. I don't have a thermometer (or maybe I do, and just haven't seen it for a long time -- I'm sort of hazy on this point) so I simply heated until steam started rising. I stirred the cloth around, occasionally lifting it with a spoon, noting that it wasn't taking up any color at all. None. Hmmm.

(About this time Kid1 came into the kitchen and asked what I was making. "Green. (Long pause) I'm making green."

"Yeah, but what is green?"

"Some fabric."

Because, of course, I was using the regular old cooking utensils. And it did look vaguely edible.)

So, I went to the next step, that of dumping in a glug of white vinegar. The color immediately began migrating to the silk.

By this time A) I was bored; B) I had decided stirring was a lost cause, since water kept splashing on the smooth top stovetop, and if you have a smooth top stove you know that that means the water is likely to run under the lit burner and annoy you greatly (hate this stove! must get rid of this stove!); and C) it was the episode of Start Trek Next Generation where Worf's adoptive parents come on board the ship, while Picard goes down and visits his brother -- not the most gripping episode, but it has some good scenes. All of which added up to wandering off for a few minutes. And arriving back to find the silk merrily boiling away. Oops (again).

It seemed that the water wasn't getting any clearer; also, the water had a definitely yellow tinge. I turned off the stove and let the pot cool on top of the burner (which would retain heat for quite a while anyway, being electric and all -- have I ever told you how much I dislike this stove, by the way?). I went to put kids to bed, then answer a phone call from someone asking about matters such as endometric reticulum, then tell the caller that maybe she should google some web pages about it since I haven't thought about stuff like that for years and years, then hang up the phone and announce to the kids that they were never, ever to wait until the night before an exam to discover they don't understand their textbooks. Then, back to the kitchen to plop the cloth on a cake-cooling rack I'd laid over the sink.

The next morning I ironed out the dried cloth and laid it on our Nature Table:

The color was a nice spring-y green, very even. I couldn't get the silk to iron out smoothly, possibly a function of having boiled it.

Our Nature Table so far has some root children, a Mother Nature (this was made from a kit TheSilverPenny.com used to carry), a bowl of dry earth (a Lenten feature), some seed pods and rocks we liked, and a small mouse sculpture. I'd like to make some Flower Children, and even have a book on the subject. Alas, the book didn't come with what I needed to make any flower children. I have the wool, the felt, the pipe cleaners, the stockinette, but I lack the will to actually get everything out and make something.

But, hey, at least we have green silk to put stuff on now.

21 February 2007

Tuesday Teatime

Easy-to-do teatime:

Get a copy of Poetry Speaks to Children.

Pop in the CD.

Open the book to follow along.

Listen to Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, J.R.R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl, Oden Nash, and Robert Frost, among others, read their poetry to you.

It's an amazing experience.

(I've gotta admit, the most memorable moment for me was realizing that Robert Frost read Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening in a totally different way than my mental version of it. On the other hand, Kid1 said Tolkein sounded exactly like what she expected.)

The Accidental Hat

The other day I realized that a) I had no projects hanging over my head that had to be done next, and b) I had nothing to carry along to places like piano lessons and dance lessons. So, time to cast on a new project!

I grabbed some Lopi and some 10.5 needles, and cast on the In a Flap Cap (by the way, when I try the pdf I get gobbledy gook, so I downloaded it as a doc instead).

And before I knew what was happening, I had this knitted up for Dulaan:

Whoops! It went so fast I finished it off in one sitting. And had to cast on another one to take to piano lessons.

20 February 2007

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.

I try to update our adventures on Tuesdays, although sometimes it doesn’t get done until Wednesday. And sometimes we really haven’t done that much math, so I skip it entirely.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 97 Frieze Patterns

The goals of the lesson are to learn the terms used in frieze patterns, learn about the 7 types of frieze patterns, and to work with the patterns. Tangrams are used. It’s a simple concept, but takes a while to execute.

If I were a more with-it homeschooler, I would’ve tied this in to frieze patterns on ancient buildings, which would tie-in with all the reading about Greece and Rome we do daily. Cool idea, right? Too bad I didn’t think of it in time.

Lesson 98 Introduction to Tessellations

I’ve always thought tessellations were fun. We have a magnet set for making tessellations. We have wooden pattern blocks.

Kid1, on the other hand, asks if she could puh-leeeeeease do some other sort of math, anything but geometry, which has apparently become insufferably boring. Perhaps it’s tessellation burnout. I suggest she just Get It Over With, since she’ll have to do it eventually.

She does. It turns out to be a quick lesson. I don’t know if she realized the next 6 lessons are also on tessellations, though.

The next lesson shows a tiling pattern from ancient Egypt. Aha. My chance to redeem myself and tie this in to a favorite history subject. Must go google some historical tessellations.

19 February 2007

Multiple Choice

Possible topics for a blog post today:

Attending our first Feis.

Chinese New Year Celebration.

Sneaking into someone's house to clean out their litter box without their knowledge.

Possible sentences and phrases to describe these events:

...having spent several hours putting spikes in hair...

...one of the few people attending who didn't speak Mandarin, apparently...

...finished altering the pleated skirts (let me tell you, the smell of vinegar-water used to re-set the pleats made my boogers shrivel, as Weaver would say)...

...and since it was 7a.m. and about 3degrees F, I figured not many people would be out wandering around...

...too bad the Mardi Gras celebration was also this weekend, since between that and all the snow there was practically no parking downtown...

...when Kid2 kicked her shuttlecock right into the bouquet on the main table, they just laughed and patted her head...

...and this woman I've never even met before kept saying, "Oh, you must stop by on Wednesday or Thursday -- I have some outfits that would look so cute on your girls"...

...really needed more sleep than I was able to get with all this going on, which is why I'm not writing a coherent post...

16 February 2007

Book Stash

Back when we lived in Ohio we started reading all of the Little House books. We checked them out of the public library. It was a really excellent library, one of the top 10 in the U.S. for towns that size. It had not only the standard Little House books, but all of the tangential series about Martha, Charlotte, Caroline and Rose. The head of the children's section told me they went back and forth about whether to keep all the books together as a series, or shelve them according to author; at the time, they were all neatly lined up in timeline sequence.

And, at the time, we were just concentrating on Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. But Kid1 always wanted to read all of the books. And, of course, she wanted to read them in order.

So, one day here in Missouri she happened to notice the first Martha book on the library shelf, and asked if we could read it. We did. We decided to read all of the books, all the way through the series, in order.

Then we made a terrible discovery. The way the books had been cataloged in our local library branch, in a word, sucked. The first book of the series was fully cataloged, and on the shelf. The rest of the books were casually hurled in with other paperbacks, and only given a spartan cataloging that allowed them to be checked out but not searched. In other words, there was no way to tell where the heck the books were, or even if they existed in the library (unless the books were checked out, at which time a hold could be placed on them). Eew!

We soldiered through this mess for most of Martha, but I Could. Not. Find. the final Martha book on the shelves. Aargh! I decided to show the library a thing or 2, and bought all 4 Martha books. Hah! Take that, public library! See if I need your stinkin' poorly cataloged books now! As a matter of fact, as soon as we finished the final Martha book, I bought all 4 Charlotte books. (Can't you just hear the libary employees sobbing over that?)

By the way, there was some discussion at our house about waiting until Melissa Wiley wrote more Martha books before we actually read the Charlotte books. Because, you know, we need to read them perfectly in order. And I started reading her blog to see when, indeed, she was going to give us our next fix (by this time we were pretty addicted to the books, you know).

And that's when I started to hear rumblings. Ominous rumblings. I started catching on that there might not be more Martha and Charlotte books by Melissa Wiley. I discovered that the covers of the Little House books were going to change (which I don't really care about that much, but those among us who like to read thing in perfect order also would like all of the covers to match, thank you). It occurred to me that it might be wise to start getting ALL of the books.

I started asking for them for birthdays and Christmas. I started scouting the internet for copies of the titles already out-of-print. And I completed our stash

just before Melissa Wiley posted confirmation that Martha, Charlotte, Caroline and Rose are all going to be abridged. Abridged! As in "dumbed-down". Because, you know, this stuff is too complex for the average child to comprehend (never mind that the same child may well be slogging through every Harry Potter book).

Frankly, I think the publisher is making a whopping huge mistake. The charm of the Martha and Charlotte books lies in the writing (I can't say much about Caroliine and Rose, as I haven't read that many of them).

But, hey, I've got MY stash. We're set. I am now grateful for the crappy cataloging in the local library, since it got me started on collecting the books for myself.

And, yes, they aren't all in the bookcase in the picture because they don't fit.

14 February 2007


Our study of rodents is going along nicely.

Kid1 decided she would like to focus on mice in particular. We've read books on the subject, both from the children's section of the library and excerpts from adult books such as Handbook of Nature Study.

I decided not to offer the option of trying to trap a field mouse. For one thing, it's too cold and snowy. For another, I really don't want to mess with it, especially with bored, snowbound cats in the house.

So our observation of rodents in general and mice in particular took place at PetSmart. We were able to see how they moved (pizzicato!) and what they liked to do (gnaw, move their bedding around).

I've asked Kid1 to complete a project now. The choices are to write a report, make a simulation of a habitat, or make some sort of mask or sculpture of the animal. Again, I got these choices off of a Waldorf homeschooling list.

Kid2 also wants to do a project, but I've made her choices a little broader. We may very well end up writing a story about a mouse or squirrel, or acting out a play.

Kid1 was enthused about the project choices, and declared she'd like to do all three. Hmm. We shall see what gets done, given all the holidays we have right now (Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, President's Day, Mardi Gras). I really do not want this zoology unit to drag on for weeks and weeks.

She's starting with the report. This is new territory for us, this writing of reports. We're drawing heavily on suggestions from Bravewriter for our approach. So far she's picked her topic (house mice), gathered information, and done a free write. Now it's time to start narrowing and expanding, to start using the topic funnel. It's really pretty exciting! She's very engaged in the process.

I'm not quite sure how to accomplish the final Bravewriter step of publishing. She's quite shy about sharing her writing, and grandparents don't live close enough for a casual read-through. Will she consent to mailing or emailing it to them?

UFO Resurrection Challenge

February's UFO is complete!

Pattern from the Blue Blog (she may take this pattern and link away as we come closer to book publication time; I'm glad she hasn't yet, though, since I lost the pattern when I got to the neck).

Yarn is from Dale of Norway, Falk washable. Needles were size 4 US.

Kid1 was very pleased with it. I had her try it on when I finished seaming it. She wanted to continue wearing it, but I made her take it off so I could weave in all the yarn ends that were hanging out (I think having yarn ends dangling out of your finished knitting looks sort of like boogers dangling out of your nose, but apparently Kid1 doesn't share this attitude). Of course, by the time I got the yarn ends all tidied away she had lost all interest in it. By then she was hot from sledding and the hot chocolate we had afterwards. And I was distracted having Kid2 throw up all the hot chocolate into the sink, which then plugged up, so I didn't really care.

(This is why I will never have a swanky knitting blog. I start out talking about a nice, neat sweater, and veer into boogers and vomit. That's life with young kids, though. And I'm not even telling y'all about the really weird stuff going on around here.)

The new Interweave Knits arrived right after I finished. Great timing to just curl up and select a new project, right? Except I'm now busy altering skirts. Pleated skirts. With zippers up the side, and elastic in the back, and a slightly trapezoidal shape to the pleats. Ick.

13 February 2007


This week we took a break from RightStart Geometry and worked on Challenge Math.

We used Chapter Two of the book, having completed Chapter One several months ago. Chapter 2 is on Problem Solving, and presents several ways to approach various problems: charts and diagrams; think 1; Venn diagrams; patterns, sequences and function machines. Nothing integrates all the various methods -- for example, it's pretty clear that we're studying, say, charts and diagrams, and all problems in this sections are going to be solved using charts and diagrams; and no problems using Venn diagrams will be sneaking in.

We did one section per day. We read through the explanations together. I copied off the page(s) of problems, and Kid1 worked from the copy, using stacks of scrap paper. In the end I stapled all of her scrap paper to the copy of the problems, so we can save it all together as a sort of homemade workbook.

By the way, the answers to all of the problems are in the back of the book, along with a good explanation of how to get the answers.

The first section we tackled was charts and diagrams. This included problems such as: Marilyn had a bag of gold coins. She gave 1/8 of them to her mother and then gave 1/2 of what was left to her brother. She then gave 2/7 of what was left to her dad. If she then had 25 coins left, how many did she have originally?

The method given to solve this is to draw a rectangle representing the original amount of coins, then start divvying it up according to what went where ... so, 1/8 of the rectangle is marked off to show that amount went to her mother, then the rectangular area left is divided into half to show what went to her brother, etc. etc.

Me: "This looks a lot like Singapore math."

Kid1: "Yeah, pretty much."

Next day we took a look at "think 1". This helps with problems such as: a group of 24 college students decided to climb Mt. McKinley. They bought enough food to last 20 days. If 16 additional students join them, how many days will their food last?

To solve this type of problem, you think how long the food will last for 1 student -- which is to say, if only 1 student went, having that amount of food, how many days would the food last? It would last 480 days. So if you have 40 students, that same amount of food should last 12 days.

The problem that we most discussed in this section was about cats: Jay has 8 cats that need to be fed while he is away on a 12 day vacation. If a bag of cat food will feed 3 cats for 15 days, how many bags does he need for his vacation?

Setting aside the image of the litter box situation after a 12 day vacation (is someone coming over to clean them out? and, just how big is Jay's house to hold 8 cats?) we found ourselves remarking that a) there's no way there's going to be an "average" cat in the bunch -- some will be big eaters and some won't eat much, and b) eating patterns vary wildly when the routine is disrupted by vacation -- some will gorge and some will refuse to eat.

But Kid1 starting in on her calculations, and soon discovered that it was going to take a bit more than 2 bags.

"Okay, he needs to buy 3 bags, then."

"Umm, I think they want to to figure out how much more...like two-point-something-or-other."

"Well, that's dumb, because you can't buy partial bags. And anyone leaving for 12 days should leave extra on hand, anyway, in case something happens -- you're not going to measure it out that precisely."

Next section, Venn diagrams. Coincidentally, Poppins posted a link to this site, just chock full of Venn diagrams, the same day we did this section. This was an easy, fun section.

Finally, patterns, sequences and function machines gave us tips on how to solve questions like: in the following sequence, what is the 500th term? 7, 16, 25, 34 .... (the answer is 4498, by the way).

Overall, it's been a fun week of math.

09 February 2007

More Zoology

We've started our zoology block with an overview of humans. Much of this has taken place sort of casually, while we've been hanging around in the family room or dining room. Some comment will spark a discussion, and off we go.

We've discussed that humans can do a lot of things moderately well, while animals tend to do certain things extremely well (for example, my cat is much better than I at seeing in the dark, but he can't imitate bird whistles; actually, I can't imitate bird whistles, either, but I know people who can).

We talked about how interesting the human body is: the head is all hard and round on the outside, but squishy inside; the limbs are long and hard inside, but squishy outside; the trunk sort of mixes it up. The head doesn't do a lot of movement (much chomping of jaws and wiggling of noses occured during this discussion) compared to the limbs; and the trunk is somewhere in between, with so many of the automatic movements such as breathing, heartbeat and peristalsis occuring in it. The head has much to do with sensing things (taste, sight, smell, touch, hearing, balance) while the rest of the body doesn't have so many senses associated with it.

We talked about teeth.

We drew pictures of ourselves. We then drew more pictures of ourselves with a sun for a head (regally shining out over all), a moon (rhythmic) for a trunk, and shooting stars (with 5 points) for our limbs (this is a classic Waldorf exercise) and then drew several other planets from our solar system (not classically Waldorf, but we had worked a lot on astronomy last year and felt like doing this). We read Walter de la Mare's poem Unstooping.

We also discussed what animals we would like to study. Often classes will study a head animal, a trunk animal, and a limb animal. Another way to split it up is a nerve-sense animal, a metabolic-limb animal, and a rhythmic functions animal. I chose the latter, partially because I could think of animals we're already familiar with in each category, and partially because Schad's Man and Mammal book splits up the mammals that way.

(Also, I really really did NOT want to do a cuttlefish as a head animal, since my kids have never seen nor heard of a cuttlefish before except in a Jane Yolen book; I think cuttlefish would be fine to study if we saw them in the fish market on a regular basis, but we don't. So, right there I was put off the entire idea that's bandied about to "start with a head animal and, oh, by the way, a cuttlefish would be great for this". I'd like the basis for this study to be looking more deeply at what we've already seen on a fairly regular basis, sharpening our powers of observation.)

So I opened the discussion for which 3 mammals we'd like to focus on: some sort of rodent (nerve-sensing: mice, hamsters, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, etc.), some sort of hooved animal (metabolic-limb: cows, bison, horses, deer) and some sort of carnivore (rhythmic funcitons: cats, dogs). Later on we'll also look at birds (maybe focus on owls for a head animal, or maybe get around to using that Apologia book about birds) and perhaps fish, amphibians and/or reptiles. I picture this leading to some rabbit trails about what else we'd like to study in the animal kingdom.

I pretty much presented this as a menu of choices, "Okay, which of these would you like to do -- cows or horses or deer or bison? Okay, then let's also do something like cats or dogs or I guess we could do something like lions if you want -- which of those? And a rodent would be good -- which one?"

The kids chose mice, cats and deer. Cats and deer are plentiful around here -- we have 2 cats, and deer wander through our yard fairly regularly. We also have plenty of squirrels and chipmunks, but apparently mice are more appealing, so mice it is.

To be continued.

07 February 2007


Let's say you wanted to study zoology for a few weeks with an 11 year old and a 7 year old. What would you choose to put this unit together?

Contestant number 1 is a pile of zoology-related books from Noeo Science Biology II:

I don't have the Instructor's Guide for Biology II. I'd have to purchase that. It would include botany, which we aren't interested in at this time (I''m following Kid1's lead on what she wants to study when). But, of course, we could save it for later, and eventually maybe do it. Also, I'd need to buy the experiment packages from Young Scientist Club. Also, I don't have the books on the human body in this pile, since we'd rather do an in-depth study of that later.

The problem is, I think the books shown are ... well, the Usborne Science Encyclopedia is an encyclopedia. Which is okay, if you want an encyclopedia, but if you want a book to read to learn about zoology, it isn't the most engaging. The Mystery and Marvels book is interesting, in sort of a factoid way, by which I mean that it seems to reduce all zoology to unconnected factoids about various animals. Great for Trivial Pursuit, not so great for getting a "big picture" of zoology. I suppose it would be handy for memorizing lists of facts (as would the encyclopedia). And the microscope book looks intriguing simply because it has to do with microscopes, which we haven't much worked with. I could picture it turning into drudgery to slog through day after day.

The question is, how does Noeo put it all together. Do they have engaging activities that make us want to leap out of bed in the morning crowing, "Hot diggity dog! Today we're going to study zoology"? Because, really, with books with a boredom potential like this, that's what we're going to need.

We have all of Noeo Biology I, the complete package set purchased straight off the website. And, let me tell you, I'm underwhelmed. I don't particularly like the books they've chosen. The assignments are drudgery -- read 2 pages, then summarize, read another 2 pages and summarize. The experiment kits aren't matched up well to the reading. Frankly, the experiment kits are sort of dippy, and I've found better experiments on the Internet, using household items.

Put it all together, and I don't have high hopes for this being a zoology curriculum we'll have fond memories of. I picture getting to the end of the unit (or block) and wanting a T-shirt that says, "I survived our zoology unit study".

Contestant number 2 is the lovely Apologia book:

It really is lovely. The text is engaging. The experiments look fun. The God-talk doesn't give me hives, at least at a cursory read-through (which is to say, it isn't incessant, it isn't smarmy, it doesn't remind me of certain people in my past that I'd rather forget -- not all Christian curriculum can make those claims).

As nearly as I can tell, you can do the first section, then you're free to do the other sections (birds, insects, flying reptiles, bats) in whatever order you choose. This implies that we can skip the insects and flying reptiles totally, since we have no current interest in them.

Of course, that leaves you with birds and bats. And, really, do we want to spend weeks and weeks just on birds and bats? I mean, there's plenty of interesting stuff there to learn, but when Kid1 says she wants to learn about zoology, she's thinking a little more broadly. You know, stuff like companion animals and zoo animals and wild animals outside our door.

Finally, contestant number 3:

Which is an out of print book on mammals (Man and Mammal by Schad), and a beat up copy of Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study. These represent the concept of a homemade curriculum, based on the idea of the Waldorf zoology block entitled Man and Animal. This block is usually presented in Class 4, which is 9 and 10 year olds.

At first I thought, "No way! That's way too much work!" But then I discovered that this homeschool family is already doing it and blogging about it. I started looking up suggestions in From Nature Stories to Natural Science and also in Path of Discovery, to read about how others approach the block. I scoured the yahoo groups that deal with Waldorf homeschooling, getting ideas from them. And, I discovered that the city library here actually owns a copy of Schad's book.

So I quickly put in an Interlibrary Loan request, got the book, started reading, and was totally swept away. So. Much. Fun. (In a geeky sort of Goethe-esque, biological way.)

We are forging ahead with Man and Animal, relating the animal kingdom to humans. NB: This is Man and Animal in a non-Waldorf household, filtered through GailV.

More later.

06 February 2007

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.

I try to update our adventures on Tuesdays, although sometimes it doesn’t get done until Wednesday. And sometimes we really haven’t done that much math, so I skip it entirely.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 93 Angles of Incidence and Reflection

Okay, this was a really cool lesson. It’s sort of like that thing you did back in school when your teacher shone a strobe light on an air hockey table and you shot the puck around the table and watched the patterns it made -- remember that?

You pretend to shoot a pool ball, draw the angle of reflection when it hits the side of the table, find where it will next hit, find the next reflection, draw the trajectory, etc. etc. until the ball finally goes in the pocket. At the bottom of the page of the math book is an Internet link that I can’t get to work; I think this is the link they meant to put there.

Lesson 94 Lines of Symmetry

Kid1 feels there is a mistake in the answer sheet. She is filling in a chart that asks for the maximum number of lines of symmetry for a rhombus; she feels the answer should be 4, just as it was for the square, since, “well, Mommy, a square is a type of rhombus, you know, and they’re asking for the maximum.” I can’t find this on the errata lists, but the errata lists aren’t in lesson number order (which is really, really annoying, let me tell you).

I look at her worksheet later, and discover that she’s written “I’m right” in flourescent pink ink next to her answer.

The lesson introduces the sign for infinity. This holds no mystery for Kid1, possibly due to our School House Rock DVDs, in which Figure 8 is one of my absolute favorite songs.

Lesson 95 Rotation Symmetry

Another misprint: this time the text reads, “in the center figure above...” when there is no center figure. However, this one I can find in the errata. Of course, I don’t find it until the next day, mostly because that’s when I finally got around to looking for it. Kid1 is able to complete the assignment having never seen it.

Lesson 96 Symmetry Connections

This lesson consolidates the previous lessons on symmetry. The student looks for line symmetry, point symmetry, and rotational symmetry in several shapes and figures, also noting degrees of rotation. A fairly quick lesson, given that there’s not much drawing.

02 February 2007

UFO Ressurection, Project Spectrum

Kid1 and I had many discussions about Weasley sweaters. Many, many discussions. Until finally last fall I ordered some Dalegarn Falk, charted a letter for the front, and cast on, around about November.

(I'm skipping the part where she changed her mind about which house's colors she wanted without telling me, and also the part where I got a different yarn for the sweater, swatched it up and realized that it was a really, really bad choice. Let's just focus on the fact that we're both happy with the current yarn and the color.)

I cast on in size Massively, Laughably Huge; it's going to be big enough for ME, for pete's sake, let alone for an 11 year old girl. I wasn't sure about this -- on one hand, the this big size meant huge swathes of stockinette on size 4 needles. On the other hand, it meant that she could wear the sweater for years and years, since, you know, Dalegarn Falk! This sweater will last forever! And, you know, she can layer it this year so it won't look quite so baggy.

I commented that it might not be done for Christmas. I didn't have any Christmas knitting planned, per se, but it's a busy time and I wasn't going to guarantee that I'd be knitting like a mad woman in December, trying to finish up projects. As a matter of fact, I was feeling pretty smug about my lack of holiday knitting -- no pressure to finish anything by the Big Day! Whee! Except then, of course, there were sudden urgent calls for thrum mittens and a black cotton non-chemo-cap. And another project that I cast on, and never mentioned here, and will be a future UFO Resurrection (if I continue to match up UFO Resurrections with Project Spectrum, expect to see it in June/July).

Then after the flurry of the holidays I realized I had an urgent need for a camisole for a party we were going to. And then, after that was finished, I finally had a chance to cast on the Hourglass Sweater I've been meaning to knit for the past 2 years.

So I started swatched up the yarn, then started casting on. Kid1 looked up and asked, "What's that you're working on now?"

Oh, just a sweater for me. Isn't this a nice yarn? Isn't this a pretty color?

"Oh. Another sweater for you."

(Long pause while we all have a chance to contemplate that I have just completed a project for myself and have now immediately plunged into a second.)

"Well," sigh, "I'm just worried that I'm not going to be able to even wear that Weasley by the time you finish it because it'll be too small."

Uurgh...ummm...ah...well. Yes. She has suddenly popped up to being about my height. We're quickly reaching that trading-clothing scenario. So. Yep, better get back to work on that Weasley.

(At this point Kid2 -- who is forever petite -- piped up to assure us, "Don't worry -- I can wear it!" which inspired a huge fight about letters and house colors and whatnot. We'll also skip that part.)

So, here's what I'm carrying around to dance classes and swim classes and piano lessons and choir and Friday night pizza-and-a-DVD-at-home, racing against the growth spurt:

My Project Spectrum blue knitting for February (I really wanted to be knitting something else blue, a specific other item, but we'll also skip that part because linking to the picture of it would just leave me heaving deep sighs for how inutterably cool it would be to knit). One more sleeve and a collar to go!

01 February 2007

January Books

Making a Good Brain Great by Daniel Amen
Swimming with Scapulars by Matthew Lickona
Troll Bridge by Jane Yolen
Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston
A Field Guide to Evangelicals and Their Habitat by Joel Kilpatrick

Major Read Alouds (the ones I can remember):

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield
Little House in Brookfield by Maria D. Wilkes
Gwinna by Barbara Helen Berger
Sir Cumference and the First Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander

Tuesday Teatime

(With bonus Project Spectrum pics!)

Okay, I didn't want to call it Tuesday Teatime. Tuesday was impossibly busy, so we had Teatime on Wednesday. Kid2 said, "No problem, we can just call it Wednesday Teatime." Ack! No! There's no alliteration in that title. I must have alliteration! So I wanted to call it Cocoa Club, a title I picked up at the beautiful blog of By Sun and Candlelight . I thought it was perfect -- alliteration! we're drinking cocoa, so it fits! did I mention the alliteration?! But Kid2 wandered off in disinterest. And I've decided that for the sake of my blog lables I shall stick with Tuesday Teatime.

Our theme was snow. I read some of the huge selection of snow poetry I've accumulated from resources such as A Child's Seasonal Treasury . Then we read The Story of the Snow Children. This book had been on my Amazon wishlist for ages, but when I saw that Dawn had it on her sidebar as a book they were reading, well, I had to get it. (Possible alternate title for this post: "I Try to Pretend I am Dawn of By Sun and Candlelight").

Afterwards the kids colored pictures from Ruth Heller's Stained Glass Designs for Coloring Snowflakes, and also inquired why we were doing a snow theme considering the ground was bare. Hey, the forecast called for snow! NOT MY FAULT! (It did finally snow overnight, so this morning I am vindicated.)

Our refreshements included cocoa, of course. As I was heating the milk I realized that I should've made Mexican Wedding Cakes for cookies, as they look like little snowballs. Whoops! The kids bailed me out by finding a box of Lemon Cooler Girl Scout cookies from the freezer (stuck there from last year's sale). They were sort of round, dusted with powder sugar, and frozen. Sort of snowball-ish.

I had been too busy making decorations to mess with cookies:

(The photography at By Sun and Candlelight is so much better than mine. Sigh.)

I think I've posted the snowball babies before. I was making a King Winter, then, over the past couple of days, but the household vote was to make it a Snow Queen.

There were some rumblings that if we got tired of her as a queen we could take off her hair and add a beard.

Most important is that she is white and icy blue, qualifying her as my first Project Spectrum project.