Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Calling homeschoolers!


Okay. Short version: B has said that with three kids, we could conceivably afford to purchase a curriculum package each year with the intention of keeping it to use for the younger kids (yes, we would have to go back and order the earlier grades that the Elf has already done). We can't afford it Right Now. But it's a good time to start looking, right? Maybe with all this looking we'll decide not to purchase a packaged deal. Who knows.

The help I need is this: what do you use? What works for you and your kids? What have you tried and disliked?

My heart loves Waldorf. But my head acknowledges that we aren't those people. We don't sing, we don't rise with the sun and put our kids to bed at 6pm. We don't have baking days. I cannot make myself joyful about all of our daily tasks (scooping cat litter is not something I can do with a smile on my face). I don't have the time (or capacity at this point) to memorize stories to tell to the extent that it would seem I need to. So I don't think I can do a pure Waldorf curriculum. That seems to rule out Live Ed and A Little Garden Flower.

We are not Christian. So I don't want anything religious (it seems silly to pay for a package that I need to ditch half of). I'm not entirely sure what that rules out.

I love the idea of a nature-based curriculum. Summers here are intense and it's often hard to go outside. Think deep winter in some places, only hot instead. And winter? Not so much. Yes, it gets cold. But my kids don't really understand what snow is.

The Elf (since I can't yet speak for the younger two) isn't all about the worksheets - at least not an endless stream of them though he does enjoy some. He also isn't enthused about reading straight texts. He reads above his "level" but is.. picky.. about what he wants to read. He's stubborn and willful and.. well, almost nine. But he's extremely smart. He asks the most amazing questions. At the same time, he doesn't always know the days of the week in order. He can't tell the difference between cities, states, and countries. He gets confused about the difference between months and seasons. I'm still not sure he knows the alphabet in order completely.

I'm looking at Ambleside Online because it was suggested to me by the lovely Wool and Chocolate. It's a lot to look through, so I haven't made much of a dent yet.

I'm open to any and all suggestions. B ideally wants to buy whatever we buy used (or extremely cheaply). I just want to make the right decision.

Thanks in advance! I'm positively drowning in uncertainties.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things are looking up. I've tried my very best to heed every one's excellent advice. I feel as though I've been almost *lazy* in fact. Which is odd to think since I've probably gotten much more accomplished these last few days than I have in weeks. I think the key is that I've allowed myself to relax without feeling guilty (it's also possible that having stayed home the majority of the weekend helped). Over the weekend I spent a great deal of time knitting. I'd have photos of the longies/board shorts that I finished. Only the script I use to dump the pictures, properly named, from my camera to my computer is.. not working. These things happen when I consent to B updating things on my computer.

I feel so grateful for the outpouring of love and compassion in the comments (and private emails) of my last post. I cannot find the words to express my gratitude for knowing such amazing people.

There has been some drama at our house, as well as the calm. We have homeschooled the Elf since Kindergarten. Over the years it has become a literal battle to get him interested in anything. Anything at all. We wanted to unschool. We wanted to trust that he'd learn all on his own. And he does. I guess. But if the words "learning" or "schoolwork" or "educational" ever come near him, he breaks down. He doesn't want anything to do with history, English (beyond reading comic books and writing his own), science. Really, all he does is play with Star Wars toys or Legos. Or complain about video games.

We've tried workbooks. I researched Waldorf (and cannot fathom having the time or concentration to put together my own curriculum nor can we afford to buy one). I've read parenting/teaching books. Nothing ever seems to work for him. It all came to a head last week. He doesn't seem to understand that he has to learn - at home or at school. There is no third option.

It's possible that over the last few days I've finally gotten through to him. I've found that he needs much more one-on-one attention when it comes to "schoolwork." In any course, sending him to school has been discussed. I don't want to. I really don't want to. But I also cannot spend so much energy fighting this same fight. As you can imagine, this does not lend to a calm mind.

And this is me being distracted by Pride and Prejudice in the background (I love this movie!) and thoughts of yummy iced coffee.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Right Now - not a Yarn Along

Well. It's been more than a week and it's taken days of talking myself into it to just sit down and open a "New Post" screen.

Right Now:

- the Beast is better. We think it was Roseola (I keep wanting to say Roselia - can you tell that I have Pokemon addicts around here?). He had a fairly high fever for three or four days and then a rash for two days after. He seems to be back to his usual self (he even had a case of the giggles all yesterday).

- I'm still knitting the Playground Shirt. I don't think I care for the yarn. At least, that's my excuse for letting it collect dust as much as I am. I've started a new pair of longies (more likely, board shorts) in a lovely Noro. I'll probably put them in my Etsy shop because we could really use the money (sad, yes?).

- I feel scattered. Unfocused. Lost. Confused much of the time. I've always had very minor dislexia but recently I've had.. episodes where it's worse. Reading the credit card number to the pizza place over the phone was a nightmare two weeks ago. My mouth was saying numbers but my brain wasn't sure if I was reading it correctly. I forget things - not just forgetting.. it's.. hard to explain. I feel like I'm going crazy. B tells me that it's likely just exhaustion, that it will pass if I find a way to get more sleep. I have my doubts.

- all three boys are sitting happily at the table playing. Star Wars toys are tap dancing and they (the boys, not the toys) are coloring with soy crayon rocks - though the Beast really wants to eat the crayons.

- there are half a dozen cardinals on our tree right outside. Not one of them will go near my tea cup feeder. It's been out for days. Even the titmice and chickadees ignore it. Maybe they can't perch on it? Maybe it's too exposed? Bah.

- I'm trying, I really am. I'm not sure that anyone sees it. Sure, the laundry is piled up and I'm way behind on dishes. The bills are a little late. Emails are rarely written (because really, who wants my response a month late?) and posts rarely made. Dinners have been sad - French toast last night? Not my best moment there. But I'm trying. I will climb out of this emotional hole that I've dug for myself.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Joining Amanda today.

This weekend. Wow. Sunday, 5am I woke up to a fever-hot baby next to me. We've been battling his poor temperature since. I know that his fever is doing a service. I know that it's necessary. But I can't make myself let it be so high. I've spent the last 28 or so hours trying to keep my little Beast from cooking himself.

Did we do stuff before 5am Sunday? Yes, it's likely. Though, until typing an entire paragraph after this, I could not recall a single thing. Now, of course, I can. Friday we went in search of tea cups and saucers to make these. Saturday was another trip out to score a long handled spoon from a Goodwill across town. I had plans to go to a hardware store and nursery Sunday, but it fell by the wayside. I've cleaned the kitchen at least three times, made delightful Indian food, washed my brand new batch of diapers, made the yummiest mint-tarragon soda, and nearly finished reading Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris.

The weekend could have been better. It could have been loads worse. Mostly I just want my little Beast to feel better.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

(late) Yarn Along!

I decided to participate in the Yarn Along I've read about on several blogs. You can be a part, too. Stop by Small Things to read about it.

I'm behind on everything (as anyone expecting an email from me knows), so here's my day late Yarn Along post. Since the epic sweater fail I haven't been focusing on knitting as much. I have worked a bit on the Playground Shirt for the boys. And I'm reading The Lightning Thief at the urging of my oldest, the Elf.

Here is what I've mostly been focusing on: part of my Four Seasons Exchange swap.

See that tree stump? Embroidery. Let's just say that I've discovered that I'm not patient enough for embroidery.

The flower gnome has a little sleeping sack thing. I was half thinking root child, but this is supposed to be a summer swap not spring.. so.. it's a sleeping sack.

I'm not happy with the cap. Sewing it together, stuffing it, having the pieces not exactly fit. The perfectionist in me is crying. I think I may just try needle felting the edges down and see how I feel about it then. Of course, the stabilizer inside might not like that too much. Oh well.

Now I just have to figure out what else to make and send for this swap.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A lot of things.

It has been a very up and down day today. This morning we headed out to town and stopped by a shindig in Midtown where local businesses were peddling their wares with a focus on moms and babies. I'd wanted to stop by because Ecological Babies was going to be there and we are in desperate need of some new diaper covers. Nearly every booth was pink and frilly. Dresses, hair bows. What's a mother of boys to do? My oldest son pointed out a tent full of wooden toys. The name of business sounded familiar. Lo! They have an Etsy shop: Natural Wood Toys. A lot of their items looked familiar - especially a Three Billy Goats Gruff set that I fell in love with (I've been looking for one for ages). Happily, B decided to let us buy it. So now, we're the proud owners of this:

When we got home I checked the Etsy shop. And what do you know, I've had it on my favorites for a while now! The Elf fell in love with a T-Rex figure they have. Unfortunately we didn't have enough cash (or, you know, the budget) to buy it at the shindig. I suspect he'll be getting one for his birthday this year, though. They have the sweetest foxes and manatees. It's great to see some Florida wildlife in there. The shop owners were the nicest people, too. So head over there and give them some love.

And the the downside of today. After knitting on my sweater for nearly two weeks I finally got to the the row below the arms today. I put everything on appropriate waste yarn to try it on. What's that? It's too freaking big! How does that work? I'm not a small person. Turns out my gauge was off. By a quarter of a stitch per inch. Sigh. So yes, it's all been frogged. Nearly six hundred yards of lovely silk yarn is now back into nicely wound balls.

Needless to say, I will not be restarting it just yet. I'm too mad at myself. Instead I'll be focusing on the shirt I started for the boys and working on my Four Seasons Exchange swap.

Right. I also have swap pictures (received) to post. But it's late and the Beast is yanking on my power cord. Perhaps I'll get to it tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yarn Along - Attack of the sweater!

I decided to participate in the Yarn Along I've read about on several blogs. You can be a part, too. Stop by Small Things to read about it.

I think I'm being overambitious. Pictured here: this sweater in Araucania Chaiten (100% silk and all for me!), this shirt in Jojoland Rhythm (superwash wool in camouflage), and a small leaf in dishrag cotton (for a swap). Oh. And the book that I'm reading Chickens in your Backyard by Rick and Gail Luttmann.

The sweater is what I'm working on primarily. The yarn is thinner than what the pattern calls for, so I'm using a larger needle to get gauge. It'll be a breezy summer sweater. Okay, a spring and fall sweater. Summers here are too hot for anything long sleeved. The book is daunting. I'm not sure I'm up for raising chickens - it seems so very complicated. Of course, we aren't planning on chickens for several years anyway. There's time for me to read more and ease into it.

I've also been dyeing yarn. I wanted to post pictures of it but I'm too lazy to slough through the 500+ pictures that I've recently dumped from my camera. I've dyed six hanks of Wool of the Andes Bare (worsted) a pale orange color. I'm hoping to knit the infamous Shalom cardigan. It'll take some finagling since it's sized for a not huge person like me - hence my enormous amount of yarn (which I'll be knitting doubled anyway). So yes. I'm happily drowning in yarn.