Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I took these pictures with the idea of writing an 'it's not all pretty watercolors' sort of post, to counter all the beautiful pictures bloggers post every day....kind of a 'don't feel bad, my house is a mess also' reality check. But when I put the photos together into blogsy, I saw something else.
My daughter's favorite dress that I almost gave away because I mistakenly remembered it being too small. The crane that I spent hours and hours online looking for to put on E's wish list because it had to be 'a big, working crane that can lift blocks' AND big enough for his tall 5yo self, that still gets daily use at 10yo. The treadmill that allows C to exercise at home so he can spend more time with us. The futon on the floor (again) for an obstacle course game E made up to play with e. The toy shelves my grandpa built for me when I was little, and the books I use to educate my children. The computer desk C glued together in our bedroom 15 years ago that (once we removed the bedroom door and hinges and got it out of the bedroom) has survived at least 8 moves.
A dishwasher! Even better, a dishwasher loaded by E. Plants (that are still green after a year in my care!) in the sink. Medicine to help us heal, filtered water to drink. Dishes from our wedding 14 years ago, when feeding a family of four was just a distant dream. A gate to contain our feisty G who is still going after at least 4 near-death experiences and risky surgery last fall. Cheery orange paint that is slowly replacing the peeling wallpaper. Water bottles ready for our next adventure. Colorful shelves that I first assembled before E was born, when the pain of our first loss was still fresh and raw but the promise of E's strong (STRONG) kicks allowed us hope. Art supplies, our daily bread.
Diapers and towels from said miracle pig, waiting to be washed and dried by magical machines in our dining room. The sewing machine my grandpa gave me when he found out I was sewing quilts by hand between college classes. The red diaper bag I carried to our wonderful friend's house when e was teeny and C was away at basic training. Yarn. I can knit! My camera, which has taken pictures from Alaska to Canada to Virginia to Oregon and back again. Beaches, mountains, forests, deserts, arctic tundra. Silly-crazy-happy moments and almost unbearably sad moments and everything in between, my camera has seen them all. Work samples and chorus information. We live in a city with an amazing children's chorus! A bucket of outgrown I'm-going-to-use-these-for-something clothes with e's beloved footed jammies right on top. An egg carton- e is no longer allergic to eggs!
Our fall sugar snap sprouts, tomatoes, and monster basil in the garden box C built for me. Our screened-in back porch where C and I watch lightening bugs flash after dark, right before a rainstorm.
A big, huge backyard full of thick grass that stays green almost all winter and a strong swingset from Nana and Papa. Kids who are healthy and siblings who (mostly) get along. Helpful, creative, curious, passionate, talented young people. The trapeze that e flipped off and broke her arm, complete with memories of surgery and medicine and casts and pins and recovery. Today she overcame her fear of accidentally touching unseen spiderwebs in order to cross the bars.
Monumental growth in my E. He has come a long, long way.

So there you go.  My house is a bit messy, there are unfinished projects, the grass is long.  I'm not proud of it....until I saw it in pictures.

My children are always watching, and I want them to learn to keep a tidy home, yes.... but more than that I want them to see the blessings around us and be thankful. I want them to remember their childhood as enough. Enough love, enough food, enough happiness, enough rain. Whatever we have or don't have, I hope they see it as enough. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Break and a Recipe

That break I spoke of for E...we didn't crochet. Life took over, with too many appointments and activities to allow time for sitting. So here I give you three things we did do:

Applesauce! Always a favorite. Here's how we do it:

Peel and core 4 (or more) Granny Smith apples. Slice thickly and lay in baking dish.

Sprinkle on dried cranberries and chopped pecans, then cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.

Add a drizzle of honey. I add very little; maybe a tablespoon or two.

Cover and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Peak at them- they will appear 'fluffy' when done.

Magneatos. The big kid version! Something to fiddle with while listening to Sparkle Stories. I realized the other day that when we bought the stories, E was 7. Three years later and they still listen as if the stories are new.


One of our excursions this past week included a drive of about 40 minutes. I brought my iPad for stories. Jim Weiss was chosen for the drive up. All was peaceful until we walked in; homeschool days at museums always mean crowds. E declared he hadn't come this far to stand in lines. He grew agitated with me when I wouldn't rush e. I encouraged (and encouraged, and then finally ordered) E to go see the next exhibit without me. I said I would join him in a minute. I said he was 10 and would be fine. He grumbled and complained and never would leave my side. At each new exhibit, he insisted that I read the information to him, saying he didn't get it. e enjoyed herself, but E and I were almost at each other's throats by the time we left. I had it chalked up to crowds, but as soon as we were in the car, E revealed his issue through a story. He grabbed my iPad and quickly found a Martin and Sylvia Sparkle Story, turning it up as loud as it would go. The story was about how angry it made Martin when Mama helps Sylvia (2 years younger) in ways she won't help him. How Sylvia is always there. Indeed. By the time the story ended, E was his happy self again. Have I said how much I love these stories?!?

And math. E does enjoy Teaching Textbooks, but occasionally he'll ask me to explain further. This past week it was puzzling him as to why the multiplication tricks don't work past 9. For instance, 9 times 11 is 99, 8 times 11 is 88, etc, but the pattern doesn't apply to 10 times 11. I got out some paper and showed him how in long multiplication, once you get to the second row, you have to put a zero and scoot everything over. Have you ever wondered why? I didn't. I just always followed the formula. But in showing him, I realized it is because you aren't multiplying 1 times 2, you are multiplying 10 times 2, so your answers have to of course be placed in a larger value slot. He and I both had an ah-ha moment, and because of my excitement over it, I don't think he will forget it, either.


In writing this, I feel a bit dumb....of course that's why the formula works! I don't know how many times I've taught the process and never stopped to figure out why that process works. I love homeschooling. Some days I'm not sure who is learning more, the children or me!


Sunday, September 14, 2014


I went to the library yesterday, all by myself. Have you read Artemis Fowl? I was thinking it might be a good next series for E, but he's not sure. A series that follows a criminal rather than a hero is odd...which is why it remained in my stack for now. The book I brought home for e and daddy to read, The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop, was whisked away immediately. I just noticed that the book my friend S loaned us, Kids Learn to Knit, is in the stack as well, which means e has been through the books already this morning. :)

Continuing on with Where the Mountain Meets the Moon....




In the spirit of September, we made felted acorns with friends! So pretty.

e completed her mystery animal! I wrote out the steps for her to follow, and she whipped it out in a few days. Everyone had guesses as to what it might turn out to be, but nobody guessed a chicken!

Then there's this. A hard-won victory for E, one of those moments that keeps me going. E has been having a hard time with drawing lately. He is suddenly very conscious of his imperfections; his art no longer matches his vision. He started and re-started and started again, each try beginning and ending in utter frustration and tears. C and I have been talking with E about opening his throat, as the moment your throat tightens to whine "I can't do it," it's over. Your whole body tightens and your actions follow your worry. Well, at long last, E tried it. He sat down, took a deep breath, and without a whine, began drawing. He worked on it over the course of three days, each time without the whine, and got this result. He is PROUD. Which of course makes this mama proud. He did it!

I had intended too do so much more with zoology this month, but I do believe we are done for now. Time for a break and some crochet!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Yesterday we had the amazing opportunity to attend Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. In China it is a festival of thanksgiving for the harvest, with sweet moon cakes, stories of the moon goddess, and dances with loud music to scare evil spirits away. It certainly brought our studies to life to see the festival.

e and her friend s, who is also reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, ran from table to table. The kind ladies of the Sumi-e Society of America were there to explain the kinds of brushes, how lightly the strokes are made, why the ink is watery. The girls recognized the dish that would have been the inkstone in their story. They tried their hand at Sumi-e with amazing results.

Of course an origami master was present. He had a table full of intricately folded leaves, squirrels, flowers, trees, and the teensiest owl. He showed us how to make these lovely flowers.

E wasn't about to be left out from the festival; he knows he gets to study Ancient China in January and is quite excited about it. He asked question after question about penzai. Next spring we will have to find him a small tree to work with!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Watercolor and Fiber


It is too easy to let the days slide by, so this year I have a plan. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are our school days. Monday modeling, Wednesday watercolor, and Friday fiber. Boom. Tuesdays are projects with friends, Thursdays are field trips. A little rhythm for our week.

It helps when the kids have similar subjects to paint. This time E had a cow, so I assigned e the water buffalo from her story. We watched YouTube cows grazing and water buffaloes walking. We drew the line of their backs in the air, then on scrap paper. By the time we for to watercolor paper, they were laughing. Mr. Cow and Mrs. Buffalo were quite a sight! We opted for dry paper, as we wanted distinct forms. It was an exercise in patience, letting each portion dry so nothing bled.

The cow turned out to be a guinea pig cow....but E saw the humor and it was all good. :)

e's sky scarf is BEAUTIFUL! Soft, silky, and just downright gorgeous. The lace weight yarn is still tricky and seed stitch is more fiddley than she expected, requiring me to knit at least half her rows for her, but I think as time goes on she will be picking up more and more of it herself.

And E is actually enjoying crochet! Not enough to do more than asked, but he does it willingly, which is huge. Next to teach him to crochet in the round. He wants to make a hat.


Monday, September 1, 2014







Our very own Dragon is finished! e did quite a bit of the blanket stitching herself. She has named him (her?) Purple.

This is the first ever felt animal I've sewn- so this is exciting! Next is a felt octopus for E's man and animal block.