Saturday, December 29, 2012

so much for baking cookies

For the past 3 days I have been too feverish, tired, and dizzy to venture far from my bed. Tim took over all the parenting duties, allowing me to get enough rest. I managed to recover enough today to do a little quilting and make turkey pot pie. I haven't run in 4 days and have a 5K race on Monday, luckily my goal this year was to run in all the Sub5 series races, not necessarily win any. 

Perhaps tomorrow I can get some more of my Christmas cookie list checked off, but considering I've already made Chocolate Crinkles, Snickerdoodles, Lace Cookies, and Almond Macaroons so far this month, maybe I should just not push it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

making do with ugly fabric

In an attempt to purge some of my unattractive stash acquisitions, I recently decided to make a few charity kid's quilts. Over the years I have made some very pretty and patriotic quilts for soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital, donated fabric before moving to the local Linus Project box, and given away many quilts. Not every finished project needs to be the most gorgeous thing ever made, and I figure not everyone is quite as picky about aesthetics as I am. So over the past few days I have made two tops and will practice some machine quilting on them to improve my skills.

 After a little more practice I'll start quilting this blue and cream top I made for the school auction. 

I have a few months to get it completed, but I also have a brown bag challenge to make for one of my fellow guild members (1 half yard, 3 fat quarters given by the recipient and I can add one fabric choice). I haven't got the skills to make a cool bag, but I'm sure I can make something that will display my newly acquired machine quilting skills.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

carnival of homeschooling # 365

Welcome to the last homeschool carnival of 2012! The season of Christmas is a time of kindness, love, joy, and being grateful. One of the gifts that makes us the most grateful is homeschooling, because it helps increase kindness, love, and joy. Our family wishes yours peace and much success in the coming year. 

This is our first Christmas on our farm in Maine and for the first time we went out into the woods and chopped down a tree instead of buying one from a lot. Actually Tim sawed a 30 foot tall tree down  and cut the top out for our Christmas tree. It may look a little Charlie Brownish, but just as I was so proud at Thanksgiving that some of the ingredients for the pumpkin pie, the stuffing, and the mashed potatoes came from our own garden, I am proud that our tree came from our own land.

Steven at Hudson Valley Geologist shares with us his thoughts on the rewards and sacrifices involved to teach his kids on The Gift of Homeschooling.

A Guide to Raising Great Kids gives us a little insight in how we came to this point in our culture in What Can We Do?


 After 9 years of homeschooling, we enrolled the three oldest children in a local Catholic school. I can see how homeschooling helped them in mastering some topics, and how I could have done better in teaching them others. For the most part they have thrived, putting all my extended family's fears to rest that they were academically and socially deficient. They have played sports, attended dances, and here is Maggie portrayed as the Blessed Virgin Mary in the school's Christmas concert last week. 

Chris shares with us some wonderful stories about children in Miracles and Blessings at Home School vs. Public School.

A Net In Time Schooling shares with us some pictures of her son's homemade slingshot in Weapons That Work.  

Time 4 Learning gives us some advice on how to make the Christmas season a little less stressful in 5 Steps to Making a Snazzy  Super Simple Christmas.

 Since we had to take a few trees out of the way to get our tree out of the woods, we used this one on the front porch for the birds. We made garlands of cranberries and popcorn and hung orange slices from the branches. Yes, we had to tie the tree up so the wind wouldn't make it fly off, something that happened to our trampoline a few days ago.   

Victoria of Den School made some original and beautiful Christmas tree Cinnamon Ornaments.  

Dewey's Treehouse shares a positive book review Praise for the Number Devil, a story that "was supposed to be a mathematical version of The Phantom Tollbooth or Alice in Wonderland".

Henry Cate at Why Homeschool shares with us the myriad of reasons to teach your own children, but that homeschooling to avoid school shootings isn't the best reason for homeschooling.

Our family has many Advent traditions to prepare for the holiday: reading Christmas picture books every night, opening numbered calendars with chocolates inside, taking turns lighting the Advent wreath, setting up the creche and "walking" Mary and Joseph toward the stable. The youngest child places Baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve night after returning home from Mass before setting out the Wise Men to slowly make their way to see the infant on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. 

Carol of Everything Home With Carol shares a review of the HEV project, a library of hundreds of short videos for homeschoolers available for subscription at The HEV Project Review.

Deborah at Life With GQ shares her blog's attempt to share the spirit of the holiday with others in Life With GQ Holiday Givaway.  

Again, our family wishes you many blessings during this season of giving and may you have a wonderful second half to your homeschooling year. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

What homeschooling has meant to us

I have been teaching one or more of my children for 10 years now and as I look back on those hours spent sitting at the side of a child learning to add, spell, read, and write, it makes me realize how blessed we are for the gift of homeschooling.

I have taught 5 children how to decode our language and love reading so much that a trip to the library is met with the same excitement that some kids reserve for the county fair. Our tradition of purchasing a wind-up flashlight for that magical day when they are deemed "a reader" is met with eager anticipation. I'm a big proponent of letting kids read in bed and with the wind-up light I haven't had to buy batteries for them in over 5 years. The sound I can hear from their rooms is priceless, first the chirrr,chirrrr, chirrr, as the light is charged and then 15 minutes later chir, chir, chir, and then finally after another 10 minutes of reading the light dims for good since I imagine they are so tired it is impossible to wind it one time and their eyes close for the night. 

My children have been allowed to sleep in (until this year when we have to leave at 7am to get the big kids to school) and have been sick less than the average. They have had time to play outside, build stuff, play with their smaller siblings, help around the house, and learn to bake and sew. They have been able to visit museums and historical areas in 4 states and spend time exploring them in depth. They have had a consistent education despite moving 5 times in the past 10 years.

I have to say that homeschooling has been a great gift to our family and as I review the past decade, I see not only the addition of 4 precious children to our home, but a daily pursuit of knowledge that will last throughout their lifetimes.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Christmas gifts make good practice

Last year's mug rugs I made for teacher gifts were so well received that I decided to make them again for the big kid's teachers for Christmas. Since finishing the table runner that goes almost the entire length of my 9' dining room table with Twisted Pinwheels, I made up 5-6 little squares and went wild quilting them in various threads and free motion designs. 

For the piano teacher, who instructs the oldest children on four different afternoons a week, I am making a pillow that coordinates with her front rooms in pretty greens and browns. All I have left to do is get a brown men's dress shirt from Goodwill for the back- the button front means I don't have to put in a zipper or fancy flap to insert the pillow form.   

It has been fun making these because it has given me a chance to experiment with some new stitches that would be daunting to complete on a large bed quilt. 

My next big project is a blue and cream bed quilt for the kid's school auction this spring. After winning almost 50 fat quarters at the quilt group's Christmas party, most of which are fabrics I wouldn't purchase myself (if you get my drift), I will also be making a Project Linus quilt for charity and making up some large practice squares to work on more free motion designs. One of the ladies directed me to Leah Day's website, in which she demonstrates 365 different quilting designs on video. I might not find the time or inclination to try out an entire year's worth, but will be sure to find lots of inspiration and new quilting challenges.