28 November 2007

November's Unfinished Object

The other day Kid1 was getting something out of my closet when this fell on her head:

(Note: the plan was to get one of those Closet Maid closet organization systems AFTER we painted the room, since the closets were as dismal as the wallpapered version of the room)

"Hey, look, it's a sock!"

"No, it's not. It's a cuff."

"Well, it's almost a sock!"

Sigh, no, when you're knitting cuff-down, you still have miles of knitting to go when you're poised to turn the heel and start slogging through the foot. Especially if it's a sock for a man's foot.

And indeed, this is the Father and Son sock from Fall 2006 Interweave knits. I got to the line that said "In preparation for heel flap..." and decided a) I wasn't sure exactly what the pattern was saying, and b) I was sick of working on it. The problem with being sick of it was the subtle chevron -- I kept losing track of where I was in the pattern.

See the chevrons? Barely? Yeah, me too. Except, you know, when viewing them from above, sort of like you would when someone is wearing the sock. From that angle it's glaringly obvious if there's a mistake. So, mistakes must be corrected. (And, yeah, you might say, "well, I can't see them because the picture's fuzzy, " but that makes us equal, since they look that fuzzy to me since I need to go get glasses. Just sayin'.)

However, I took the sock along to piano lessons -- Mrs. Piano Teacher has a big, comfy chair that gets the autumn sun on it, and the autumn sun shines at such a low angle that it's easy to see the little purl ridges of the sock. And the several-month-hiatus helped me decipher the pattern. Or maybe I've knit enough socks in the meantime that I have a better feel for what needs to happen next.

Of course, I haven't picked it up since piano lessons. So progress hasn't been exactly swift. I need to find a comfy chair in the sunlight in my house, I guess.

26 November 2007


Bee stripe socks:

Bee stripe yarn from Lorna's Laces. I made up the pattern as I went along. These are a Christmas gift.

A more impressive finished object:

Our bedroom.

This is just a little slice of wall between a bookcase and the door. Note that it is painted. Jut plain ol' paint on drywall. NO WALLPAPER.

When we moved into the house 2 years ago, the bedroom was painted a weird tan-brown on top of textured wallpaper, with burgundy border. I set to work right away removing the wallpaper. Our bedroom is stupidly large, so this involved peeling many square yards of wallpaper off the walls. But I finally did it! And then started to scrub the painted walls...and realized that there was another layer of wallpaper under that paint.

Yes, I could see faint images of flowers under the white of the wall. More distressingly, as I scrubbed the wallpaper paste off of the paint, flecks of the paint came off here and there, letting me know that if we tried painting on top of the painted-plus-wallpapered wall we could expect disaster.

So, we started scraping off the next layer of wallpaper. This involved peeling off the upper layer of paint-plus-wallpaper first, then peeling off the paper-plus-adhesive (it had to be a two step procedure, since we quickly discovered that if we tried to take it all off in one piece, the drywall was going to come off with the paper).

Did I mention how much wall surface area we have in our room? Acres. It seemed to take F.O.R.E.V.E.R. I tried to take some of the tedium away by only working on it during Star Trek Voyager reruns (which I now associate with crappy wallpaper, by the way).

But the wallpaper is all gone. The drywall is patched. The walls are painted. The switch plates are back on the light switches after 2 years of no-switch-plates. I wake up in the morning, open my eyes, and see a painted wall in a pleasant periwinkle color.

And if you ever even think about being lazy and not taking down old wallpaper before you paint or paper, you are a very bad person and probably have cooties. Please get away from me.

Also finished this weekend but not pictured: a long sleeve t-shirt for Kid1 in a periwinkle knit that goes nicely with the walls (I'm a big fan of periwinkle); and, this year's version of fleece Hello Kitty jammies for Kid2.

09 November 2007

School Work

Yes, we do get some school work done around here.

Kid1 continues the Bonus Round of RightStart Geometry -- the pages that are downloaded from the website, and not yet published. She has a handful of lessons to go with this. These lessons seem fairly easy compared to what went before. Or maybe they just cover topics that are easier for her. Or maybe she's not actually doing them -- I've pretty much lost touch with the entire operation, and am vaguely aware that she is figuring out stuff about spheres that circumscribe platonic solids. Whatever that means. Okay, actually I know what a platonic solid is. I'm not sure why I care about the spheres that they can be stuck into, unless I'm planning to knit one.

She also merrily plugs away at Latin for Children. She was alternating this with Ecce Romani, but now concentrates exclusively on the Latin for Children. She is charmed by the quirky DVD. We have the early version, the one produced before they decided to get all professional and consistent. We all watch it every week to see what will happen next -- will their cat wander through? Will the girls say something outlandish? Or maybe pop a jaw while yawning, then start giggling?

Odds and ends of Classical Writing Aesop are being done. She felt a need to work with a couple more of the Aesop level stories before moving on to Homer. I was looking over the grammar sheet the other day. "Why do you have OP written over all these words? The instructions don't say anything about OP."

"It stands for Object of the Preposition. We were doing object of the preposition in Latin, and I thought it would be fun to do them on this." Oh. Did I even have a clue about objects of the proposition when I was this age? Probably not.

We've started Bravewriter Boomerang. I have no background in literary criticism. None. I'm pretty sure I never even took a class that explored metaphor or anything else of that ilk. So Boomerang is her opportunity to discuss what goes on in a writer's mind. Yes, she's signed up for Boomerang Complete, which means she can participate in the online forums (I stay out of that -- she has her own password, and tends to her own discussions. We've had some conversations about online safety, and I trust Julie, the forum owner, to keep the kids pretty much in line.). I print out the information regarding the dictation exercises; we would not do dictation on a regular basis if someone else hadn't packaged it for our use.

And then there's piano. And dance. And science (mostly, at this point, Scout badge work, plus Science Center and Zoo classes, and also randomly listening in on conversations ... like at the vet's yesterday, when I was discussing the life cycle of fleas with the vet, which conversation was made easier by the fact that I'd taken entymology in college rather than literary criticism, which may mean I have a duller inner life and write more run on sentences than those of you who were lit majors, but on the other hand I do feel quite at ease discussing the comparative effects of Insect Growth Regulators, and, given the state of my ankles, that is a good trade off for now).

She reads voraciously. Sometimes I steer her to historical fiction. Sometimes I don't.

In the meantime, Kid2 is working through RightStart C. So far it's sort of fun. She is quite fascinated with the card games. I'm not a big fan of the card games, as I'd rather be doing something else, but, aha, she's able to get Kid1 to play the games with her (I also disliked the games back when Kid1 was playing them for RightStart, so Kid1 apparently still has unsatisfied game-playing desires).

We also continue to work through the second year of First Language Lessons. She has completed the booklet of the poem about the months of the year. She had really looked forward to that, having remembered if from when her big sister did it four years ago. Now we're into the part of the book where we whip out School House Rock to supplement the explanations of the various parts of speech. Then after this, as I recall from four years ago, it all gets very dull and we simply try to survive the remainder of the book.

She works on Prima Latina in fits and starts. It is also dull, which we had never noticed until we tried other Latin courses. Mostly she wants to work on it because her sister works on Latin and she needs to keep up.

And she does piano. And dance. And science.

And my own school work? I just got Lingua Latina in the hopes that I will finally wade through more than a couple of chapters of some Latin program on my own. Henle didn't do it for me, nor Latin Book One. And Latina Christiana, Minimus, Ecce Romani and Latin for Children have also failed to make an impression. I will say that I've become very good at reading through and comprehending the first couple of chapters of beginning Latin books, having practiced that skill so many times. After the first couple of chapters, though, it gets ... hard. Eeeew -- chapter 2 of Lingua Latina forced me to remember some of those pesky declensions and actually use them in sentences. Who knew that's what they were for? I liked the declensions better when they stayed in their orderly little charts in the textbooks -- when they start running around the text like they own the storyline I find it very disturbing.

Also, the other day I picked up a copy of John Thompson piano book 3. I had used this book years and years ago, but somehow didn't have my copy anymore. I still had some of the pieces memorized. What a fun book -- not very hard, but a bit more interesting than Mary Had a Little Lamb. Plus it's not Suzuki (having 2 kids go through Suzuki can put you off certain specific pieces of music, let me tell you).

Of course, next week is Thanksgiving, after which we will undoubtably fall to pieces again insofar as school work is concerned. But I will have this lovely snapshot of these few weeks when we had our act together (sort of) to look back upon.

07 November 2007

Badge Work

A few weeks back Kid2's Brownie troop worked on their Colors and Shapes Try-It. The girls did 2 projects that day -- mixing colors, and yarn painting. All the moms were to bring in some yarn for the yarn painting.

(The way that ended up working: I brought in a huge bag that barely put a dent in my stash. I'm not sure that anyone else brought anything at all. I announced that I really really didn't want the leftover yarn back, so the troop now has its own yarn stash.)

"Yarn painting" means that you draw a picture on cardboard or card stock, then glue yarn on the picture to color it in. Family Fun magazine featured some leaves done with yarn on cardboard in a recent issue. They looked really nice, and like an adult had done them with nice yarn bought specifically for the picture they had in mind. Sort of a Martha Stewart rendition of a kids craft project.

Kid2 didn't attend that particular meeting (I was in charge of badge work at the Junior meeting down the hall, and she opted to tag along with me instead), but we peeked at the finished artwork. Unlike the Family Fun magazine leaves, it looked more like 18 young girls had done it with random yarn someone had dumped off from their stash. Which isn't to say it looked bad -- it just didn't look like something magazine editors would photograph. It also looked very wet and gluey.

So, in order to "catch up" with her troop, we wanted to do the project at home. But, well. Wet gluey-ness. Available yarn colors that didn't suit the inner vision of the young artist (because I'm not buying new yarn for this project -- sorry, folks). How to make it more appealing for the young artist and her clean up crew?

We tweaked the project. It became painting with roving on wool felt, using a felting needle. I think it turned out pretty good. I had her look through the available roving, then draw a picture based on the colors available. The background felt is actually a wool blend from JoAnn's -- we had several colors, and she decided white would work best for this project. Then we set up foam to work on, got out the felting needles, and she went to it.

After determining that she wasn't going to felt her hand to the picture (she's needle felted before) I wandered out of the room (this either makes me a very bad mommy for leaving a small child with possibly dangerous equipment, or a very good mommy for trusting her creative genius). In the meantime, Kid1 decided to get in on the action, and did her own little roving/felt picture.

I wouldn't have done this project with her troop -- no way would I have 18 kids ages 6-9 brandishing felting needles -- but I really like it for home badge work.

(The other part of the Try-It she missed -- mixing primary colors of paints to make secondary colors as well as tints, tones and shades -- we earn effortlessly since we only own a few colors of Stockmar paints and so mix up whatever else we need as we go along.)

In the meantime, I've made a list of Junior badgework that can be done outside in pleasant temperatures, and we are scurrying to work on those things in this small window where the weather is neither insanely hot (I think it was 90F out about 3 weeks ago, wasn't it?) or uncomfortably cold (and right now it's 21F, which is getting rather brisk).

Kid1 has decided she wants her hiking badge. This involves either 2 all day hikes, or an overnight hike. I anounced that I thought it might be wise to work our way up to that. Once upon a time I could've just spontaneously gone on an all day hike with no muscular repercussions, but those days are gone. We are working on the walking badge, which involves a 3 week program of walking for fitness, and will, cleverly enough, build up our walking muscles. We're also taking shorter hikes in various wooded areas, during which we're working on tree identification (part of the Earth Connections badge -- as soon as she saw it involved learning 10 trees and 5 other plants with their traditional uses she knew I was going to drag her into it, so she had put it on the to-do list), various nature hikes that fulfill Junior and Brownie requirements, taking snacks (also fulfilling various Junior and Brownie requirements), and learning the ins and outs of Finding Your Way. Wisconsin council has a cool bird-watching badge, a forestry badge, and a prairie badge that I'm hoping we can work into our hikes. It all seems like a great way to spend these sunny, crisp fall days.

Scouting is getting to be more and more fun as I get the hang of how to enjoy it.