September 15, 2017

Seventh Grade

Can I just, am I glad that is over?!

We crash-landed at the end of our first full week of seventh grade the moment Cynar walked in the door with dinner.  Yeah.  Because I have been really super great about cooking dinner at home and now I am sick of washing dishes.  Or really just tired of having seventeen more things to do today.  Now I understand why those other homeschool moms get up at 5:00am.

I had hoped that we would have a chance to take some time outdoors this afternoon.  I had planned to, but life, as they say, had other plans.  With our first lessons at the new co-op this week (including new co-op jobs to learn), and a post-summer meltdown on Wednesday (her, not me this time), we had a couple of things to catch up on.  But...

...we made it!  ...with her reading the last page of her last Lit assignment as he was walking through the door.  Whew!

...and I gotta say, aside from the meltdown (which I empathize with), I am really impressed with how this kid handled her stuff these last few days.  A new co-op?  No problem.  A high school level class, as a seventh grader?  She didn't bat an eyelash.  This, compared to the kid who, three years ago, was terrified to do anything with anyone who wasn't a school friend.

We are rolling into a weekend of celebrations, first a housewarming for my cousin, then a couple of birthdays.  A busy weekend after a busy week.

I'm sleeping late tomorrow.  :)

September 12, 2017

At The Orchard

Sunday afternoon was absolutely perfect.  The temp was holding in the low 70's, the sun was out, and a cool breeze kissed the skin.  And so I did the only logical thing I could do.

I nagged my family until they agreed to go out with me.  :D

We took a drive out to our local apple orchard and cider mill.  Typically we wander on down later in the year, when the squashes and pumpkins have come in.  But we all agreed it was just what we needed, even if early.  Who couldn't use more fresh air, goat therapy, apples, cider and donuts??

I believe they are conspiring to return for more goodies later in the season.

September 6, 2017

Summer Wandering

It feels much more like autumn then summer these days, with temperatures hovering a half dozen degrees cooler than the average.  Our commitment to another homeschooling year brought on a stern talk with myself about getting out of the house more frequently this year, especially when the weather is cooperating.  Yesterday afternoon was a perfect mix of cool breezes and clouds, so we headed out to wander the trails for a few.

I have been curious about those white berries since I noticed them a few weeks back, while hanging out with the Dagorhir group.  It turns out these are white baneberries, or Doll's Eyes, and are pretty darn poisonous.  So we definitely learned something useful on this little field trip.  :)  Don't eat the white berries!

August 31, 2017

Is Summer Really Over?!

Alright, confession time guys.

I'm really not feeling the coming school year thing.  Usually by this time of the year I am so psyched that my head is about to explode, and I am chomping at the bit to dive in.  But this year...

Truth be told, I haven't even written up my lesson plan yet.  For tomorrow.

I did the research.  I investigated lessons.  Paid the fee to join the co-op.  Even ordered our new science text, and a Grow-A-Frog kit (it is totally a thing).  But I am just not feeling it.

Moving into middle school feels so much more serious, or at least the pressure is on for it to be.  Pardon me while I question authority, and figure out where we stand.  I can't help thinking that it is a notable disservice to suck all of the fun out of learning.  But I think our approach has always been a little oddball.

I think this weekend will be time to hit the books, sort some things out, and try to get myself ready to roll into this school year with a little more pizazz.  I'm really looking forward to having Cynar home for the holiday, and just relaxing and soaking in the end of summer.

I hope everyone has a great last weekend of summer!

August 16, 2017


This morning, when I took a moment to survey my surroundings, I discovered that I was surrounded by yarn, tossed randomly about me, in varying stages of project completion. It's been a long time since I have been this engaged in the craft.  I have to admit, it feels really good.  I wouldn't mind finishing out the rest of the year (my life?) like this.

The foundation of the collection is my sad little yellow sock, still only a handful of rows.  It's starting to feel like part of the decor now.

It was eventually joined by a single, quiet skein of grey wool, to ease me back in after the frustration of said sock.  It has had a good swatching and has been cast-on, only to be set aside.

On Saturday, I am helping to host a baby shower for my sister-in-law.  I'm going to be an auntie!!  Of course, this required some sort of knitty item for game prizes.  These are Reversible Pips Dishcloths, not quite finished, made of Dishie.  Colors are Azure, Conch, and Honeydew.

The collection is rounded out by materials for an experiment I hope to start soon.  It arrived over a week ago, and is still in the plastic it came in.  Now that my mind is back in knitty mode, my body (and schedule) are struggling to keep up.

Hopefully I will have many more things to share in the near future!

Linking to KCCO

July 14, 2017

Goodbye Gina

This week our family said goodbye to an old friend.

I met little Gina one afternoon a number of years ago when I spotted her across the street from our old home and called her over.  She slowly and gently stole our hearts.  At first she was a visiting friend, but soon after joined the family when her owner told us he planned to give her up for adoption.

Never before have I met an animal who loved people so much.  She was sweet, and snuggly and a whole lot of crazy...a perfect addition to our little family.

As happens to us all, her age began to take its toll.  She had developed a high blood pressure and a  degenerative bowel disease. She was showing markers for possible kidney and pancreatic issues.  While she remained her loving and affectionate self, she had lost her spunk.  We noticed a change a few weeks back and we knew it meant that her time was soon to come.

We miss her, and all of her fuzzy antics.  We used to joke that she thought she was a human, stealing our chairs and blankets, demanding cream with a commanding nod, beaming an order for food directly into our heads with the intensity of her stare.  As we settled in at night for a show or a chat she would sleep on the couch cushion next to Cynar, with her paws wrapped around his thigh as though he were some sort of stuffed animal.  Mr. Bear Snuggle Time.  She could read our emotions and seemed to have a few of her own. 

She was a strange and wonderful creature, and will never be forgotten.  <3

June 17, 2017

We Made It

Summer has definitely arrived, my friends.  It is in the low 80's outside as we approach Astrid's bedtime.  It seemed like we went from grey drizzly days to hot, steamy ones in a matter of only days.

The past week, the end of the school year, has been a busy one for us.  Anime Club, a visit with Nana, and getting ready for the sixth grade graduation ceremony.  Astrid's homeschool fellowship allows her to participate in all of the special events for her class, so she was able to walk the graduation with her school friends.  She fell in love with the TARDIS dress the moment she saw it, and it fit her beautifully.  It is such a perfect representation of who she is right now.

There has been some debate here recently on whether or not we want to continue homeschooling into middle school.  We would love for her to remain connected to this school, and these friends of hers, so we were thrilled to hear the school was extending their homeschool program through eighth grade.  We have committed to the fellowship for the next year, with the option of switching her full-time.  There is plenty of time to decide yet, so for now we are heading into summer with pool parties and sleepovers in mind.

Crafting has been at a bit of a standstill over the past couple of weeks, as I've been helping Cynar with a few things for Dagorhir.  The one exception being a quick and dirty surcoat, thrown together with some red linen I had on hand and turned out in less than 24 hours.  It has to be a personal record.  While the surcoat was lacking in the creative department, it did get me back into the right mental space.  I've been craft browsing again, for the first time in weeks.  Maybe something soon??

With all of the end-of-school and Dagorhir-project craziness of the past week, tonight is a night to truly chill out, take a deep breath, and relax.  Tomorrow I might look ahead into the week and see what awaits, but for right now I am savoring a calm, quiet summer night.

May 28, 2017

Around the Neighborhood

Memorial weekend is considered the official kick-off for summer around here, though today it is a rather rainy and wet one.  I've been a bit quiet in this space over the spring, mainly because my crafting mojo dropped off when the weather broke.  I don't know what that is about, but I am sure it is only temporary.  Is there such a thing as a crafting existential crisis?  I browse the craft blogs ( here, here, and here ) looking for inspiration, but nothing has sparked.  Yet.

Instead, when there is time, or the school-funk settles in, we wander about the neighborhood looking for pretty things.  Once Astrid brought her sketchbook and drew as we were walking.  This kid.  Always surprises. Of course, it is out on these walks, as we are searching for beauty, that I am pulled toward crafting.  I feel a growing desire to bring these things into my crafts, though I am not quite sure how I want that to look at the moment.  So I'll keep wandering.

Now that the warmer weather is here I am feeling a stronger a stronger pull to be outdoors.  As the years have passed it seems as though we spend less and less time out-of-doors.  But the mildness of late spring and the lengthening light are a siren song, calling out for garden time, nature walks, bonfires, and some constellation gazing.  I love the summer stars.

So I'll keep browsing the blogs, and seeking beauty in the world.  I'm sure something will spark.  It always does.  But for now, the future looks like summer barbecues, fellowship meetings, and just a few more lessons.  And it feels like just the right time to put hands to earth and get that garden started.

May 12, 2017

Herald's Surcoat

A couple of weeks back, our Dagorhir unit hosted an event at a nearby park.  Cynar volunteered to herald, which is Dag's version of a referee, and so proper garb was required.  The surcoat (sewn by me, of course) is 100% linen to keep him cool on hot summer days.  The pattern is here. Although the pattern doesn't call for it, I used french seams, and trimmed it with black bias.

Since then, there hasn't been much crafting at all around here, aside from that one sad attempt at sock knitting.  A spring cleaning bug settles in once in a while, and much energy is devoted to (attempting to) focus on schooling.  I've poked around the interweb crafty archives, but nothing has jumped out at me.  The focus board is bare.  It's just so beautiful outside!  I've been relaxing and just breathing in the fresh air whenever I can.  These days only last so long.  68 degrees and party cloudy?  Perfect.

We will be settling in soon for a very relaxed Friday evening, much needed after so many early mornings.  There is a possibility of rice pudding.  Yum!  And then a weekend full of friends and family; first a fun Dagorhir crafting event, and then a very special first Mother's Day in our family.

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend!

April 30, 2017

Books and The Board

This April is winding down with a cool and drizzly afternoon.  I've tucked in to review the focus board projects that I had hoped to complete by the end of the month.  Not as good of a run as my late winter list.  In fact, only one project has been worked to completion, a Dagorhir herald's surcoat which I hope to share photos of soon.

Two of the items, a second sewing project and a house project, have barely been touched.  Most likely they will push on ahead onto the late spring list where they will glare at me.  They are not my favorite things.  The second house project on my list, making my front lawn look more lawnish, has made it past the threshold of "good enough."  The territory claimed by weeds had been reduced from 75% to about 25%.  It still needs attention, but not enough to claim a spot on The Board.

The last two items, the novel and the knitting, fall into the I-should-have-known-better category.

It has been years since I have finished a novel, the last one being Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.  Not for the faint of heart.  This season I was going to "allow myself" the luxury of reading something for entertainment, and I ordered up my copy of Housekeeping, of which I have heard great things.  I made it about a quarter of the way through.  Maybe novel reading just isn't me anymore.  Instead, I have become absorbed in The Sacred Year picked up on a whim from a discount store.  This is probably one of the most thought-provoking and inspiring books I have read in a very long time.  Highly recommended.

...and last but not least: socks.  My first attempt at a sock made it to the third row before I realized that I had already screwed it up.  Oy vey.  Now I can understand why some sock projects take literal years to complete.  So the internal debate rages on as to whether it stays forever on The Board to nag me to completion, or it gets tossed aside, reserved as an in-betweener project.

So, I get to take three items (four?) off of The Board going into late spring.  This means, of course, that I get to add three new things to The Board, the best part.  I'm not sure how realistic any of this is, since late spring runs us right into Ragnarok.  I have hopes that this year's preparation will be much less frenetic than some previous years, so maybe?

Year-end at the school fellowship means our weeks will be peppered with school-related activities.  This coming week is the Spring Concert.  Like everyone else, I have been feeling restless in our school routine... tired of the books and worksheets, itching to get my hands dirty or do some exploring.  I'm not sure how long we are going to last.  Ah, spring. :)

April 24, 2017

Fingerless Mitts

The last time I dropped in to say hello, we were deep into the season of chilly and wet.  Now the climate is just about spring perfect; 71 degrees and clear at the moment.  Perfect weather for working out in the yard, which is good because our backyard grass is at least a foot tall in places.  The trees are leafing out, and budding.  The cherry trees are already in bloom.  In a few more weeks we will be past the last frost, and it will be garden time.

True to the season, the April calendar filled itself up with the spring social engagements and activities that pull us out of the inward focus of winter.  A few weeks ago my April was open, but looking now, nearly every day is penciled in.  If this year follows the usual rhythm, we can expect a good level of activity until the heat of late July pushes us indoors.

With the shift in energy, came a shift in focus.  I've been spending much less time in front of this screen, for both blogs and games.  These fingerless mitts were finished up about a month ago, as my last winter focus board project, just a few days past my equinox goal.  The fiber comes from the same skein as my recent hat project.  The pattern is from this book.  They are knit flat and then seamed opposite the thumb.  Believe it or not, I finished these just a few days before Amanda posted up a pair of her own.  They came out just on the small side for me, though they do have some good stretch.  Astrid seemed to think they fit her better, and was happy to assume ownership.  Part of the delay in posting about them was the fact that I didn't know where she had squirreled them away!

Linking to Crafting On

March 29, 2017

My First Hat

Hat Details:

After finishing this hat (and the mitts I will share soon), I was convinced that it was a great time to take a break from knitting and turn my attention to other things.  I ordered a novel from Amazon.  I put together a late focus board for early spring.  Two knitting projects made the list, only to be cut to one the next day.

The list included: One book, one knitting project, two sewing projects, and two house projects.

But as these last few days have passed, I have found my mind returning to that lone knitting project.  Two pages into the book, and I ordered the pattern.  I'm now twenty-three pages in and I am browsing for the perfect yarn.  It just feels like something is missing from my life.  I think I need to rework that list.

Aside from this, life has been home-school this and home-school that.  As it goes.  We are ankle-deep in a new approach to Ancient History, a unit study founded on a reading of one of her favorite modern books, The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.  Long-term, we are studying Ancient Egypt, but we are also having fun learning some English culture, since one of the main characters is from London, and the first four chapters of the book take place there.  We have followed the characters movements on a map of London, looked up monuments mentioned in the book, taken a virtual tour of the British Museum, and introduced Astrid to James Bond.  Today we whipped up some English biscuits from scratch to have with tea.  I have to admit that it is a lot more interesting for me, and I believe more engaging for her.

I should be back around to share those mitts with you very soon.  In a complete coincidence, Amanda on Soulemama just posted about completing a pair using the exact same pattern and I am digging her hand-dyed threads.  Weird!

Crafting On!

March 7, 2017

Really Fantastic

Six months ago I would have told you my ideal situation involved acres of land and gardens, sheep and ducks, home cooking and hand knitting... true homesteading.  My mind has been turning over this ideal life for a long time, yet I have struggled over the years (!) to make significant progress in that direction.  My motivation button must be broken, I thought.  The other mothers do so much!  I must just be lazy.  Try harder!

Obviously that hasn't worked out for me either.

Quite a bit of that ideal life doesn't really work for any of us.  The fantasy homestead simply doesn't account for our real life needs and the practical realities of raising a family in the here and now.  The vision is disconnected from reality.  My mind has been pulled in two directions.  My energy was divided.  I am mentally exhausted from trying to find the perfect solution.  In reality, there isn't one.  The rural homesteading lifestyle simply will not work for our family...

...and that's okay.

It has taken me a while to get here.  Part of this process of living seems to be learning to accept our limitations.  Maybe this is what growth looks like.  Maybe some day it will lead to wisdom.

For now I settle for bringing a bit of the fantasy down into my suburban reality.  Hand knit hats and home baked bread?  Yes, please.