Wednesday, December 29, 2010

just a little longer...

     Well... We have a little satellite modem, but it is just not wanting to load more than one picture at a time. This being Christmas and all, I have just a few more moments to share, so I will just leave you with the one above, and the others will have to wait.

     I will say that the socks went over really well, and the checker board was later declared to be Levi's "best, best gift" (translate that as favorite), and I have been thanked for those socks quite a few times, which made every stitch worth it.

     Talk to you later (hopefully with more pictures)!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


     I finished our Christmas checkerboard.  He had wanted to learn chess so badly a while ago, "because it looks like a kingly sort of game."  Gotta love history, right?  Anyway, I told him that perhaps it would be wise to start with checkers, and work his way up to the game of kings.
     He thought that was a good idea, so I've been piecing this board together in secret, for Christmas.  I left the checkers as really simple wool circles, because I have a feeling they'll get replaced with special buttons, or some smooth river stones.  And maybe someday, for another gift, he'll be ready for some chess pieces to go on our board.
  Have a merry Christmas, we'll see you back here some time next week!

Monday, December 20, 2010

corner of our kitchen

This year I decided that my boys are big enough to be taking care of their own wet gloves.  But where to put them?  We have a cozy little house, so I ransacked my memory for ideas.  I remembered having seen a vertical clothes-line somewhere, and decided on that one.  So I hung up a line, but I added knots to keep everything spread out, and showed it to the boys.  Levi helps Micah (when he needs it), and I just rarely have to do more than say: "Don't forget to hang up your gloves when we go in!"

I'm a big believer in finding ways to help encourage independance, without demanding that kids be little, perfect copies of adults.  Cause, let's face it, if I want my kids to be independant, I'm going to have to let them be themselves! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

dear miss mason

I think one of my favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to tailor it to your family; the way it can grow along with your children.  Our family relies pretty heavily on a blend of classical education and charlotte mason. 

So I just want to take a morning to say it:  Thank you Miss Mason.  Thanks for that awesome book you published in 1886.  Thanks for the amazing ideas you packed into it.  Thanks for encouraging us to get outside for hours on end, for the habit of attention, for short lessons, Bible study, handiwork, and living books.

Thanks a million.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

for micah...

     Okay.  This first picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post.  She was just so stinkin' cute I couldn't not include her.

     Moving on!  Micah likes to go to the store with his daddy, so it gave Levi and I the perfect chance to work on Levi's present for his little brother.  I love making gifts, for a great many reasons, and I want to pass that tradition on to my kids. 

     So, needless to say, I was ecstatic to find Levi so thrilled by the idea of making something special for Micah.  He has kept the secret well (so far), and even convinced his brother to stay out of sight while he knew I was putting the finishing (read: grown-up) touches on his present.

    We used a simple piece of linen and your basic crayons (I recommend Crayola) to design a playmat for Micah. 

     To make your own mat:  Have your kid(s) design and color, and when they have everything just how they like, have them back up a bit.  Grown-up job:  Lay a sheet of paper (we used a sheet of drawing paper) on top and use a medium-hot iron to melt the wax.  Be sure to keep the paper between your iron and your drawings, or else you'll ruin your iron!  Use the paper till it gets fairly colored up, and then replace it.  Keep replacing it until you iron over it and the paper stays clean.  Then turn off the iron and go hem the edges of your mat!

     I loved this project because it makes a pretty nice gift that will last for a good long time, and it was easy!  My six year old was having a blast, and kept declaring that "Micah is going to flip out!"

     Eve was just wondering what on earth we were up to now?

     Afterwards we celebrated a job well done with a game of dominoes with Mr. Albert!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Today I'm finding joy in...
  • School-work well done, thanks to some tips from dear old Charlotte Mason.
  • The quiet, peaceful feeling I get looking at my tree and all those special ornaments that mean so much to me.
  • Plotting to get Micah out of the house for a bit so Levi can work on his special Christmas present for his little brother.
  • A (momentary) lack of fuzz-bunnies drifting around my floors - how quick they are to return.
  • The steady, one-stitch-at-a-time progress I'm making on my knit-gifts.
  • The touch of snow we received while sleeping.
  • Family Game Night
  • Watching my boys make up all kinds of castle-oriented games, such as The Prince and The Prison, which involves quite a few Legos, some ammo, and a tiny catapult.
  • A Christmas Carol - the book version of course!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

word to the wise

Remember how we did something new, and went to a tree farm and cut our own tree? I'm gonna give you a little tip, which will save you a good bit of guilt. Check it thoroughly, before you cut it down and get it home, to see if there are any nests in the silly thing.

Levi had been telling jokes, so when he announced there was a nest in our tree, I thought he was pulling my leg. I thought wrong. Yup. Nest in our tree, way down at the bottom, where you wouldn't be looking for one. I couldn't believe it. There are no feathers in there though, so I'm hoping it belonged to the kind of bird that nests in our area in the spring and then heads south for the winter...

...anywho... The boys are under solemn instruction to thoroughly inspect our tree next year (because they actually remember that kind of thing). I'm not likely to forget, either.

Lesson learned. Moving on...

Monday, December 13, 2010

bird of the week

For science this week we've been studying the visitors that come to our feeder. We researched some of them, and picked one to record for our school work. This week's pick: the grey tufted titmice.

Levi played the part of junior ornithologist: he recorded the date we saw it, what the weather was like, and where we saw it, as well as the name of the bird, and tried to draw and color the bird as close to reality as possible.

Micah played the role of charming three year old: he disregarded all reality, gave his "a really, really long beak," and used the color that popped the most to him (he is a bright-oriented, little-man, I tell you).

An excellent science lesson, all things considered!

Friday, December 10, 2010


We have a new addition around here. You see, I started out married life with a new sewing machine, and fought with the thing for years. Eventually I found one a bit older, and that worked okay. Then we found one from the 70's, which worked oh-so-much better, until the few plastic parts in it finally gave out. At this point my hubby went out to the garage and produced an auction-find of his. Literally a two dollar find. A 1948 Singer, from back when they first started putting electric motors on them. The kind that are built onto the table they come with.

Yeah, I know... Well, 1948 and I are getting to know each other, and let me tell you, she's a wonder. A solid piece of history, back before this manufacturing-theory-of-obsolecence nonsense. A quirky lady in her own right. The kind of machine that needs a name...

For our first project together (funny how it seems like I'm working with someone, rather than just using a machine), I chose to up-cycle a shirt I received for Christmas. I layed my baby on it, took some visual measurements, and then put baby down for a nap. Soon as she was out, I whipped out the scissors and cut and stitched her a new little peasant dress.

It was a nice way to spend rest time, me and Lady 48 getting to know each other over such a project. (Did I mention how quiet she is?)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Surprise Socks

My boys are so funny. I have been "sneaking" around, making their knit-gifts for this year. A few weeks ago, I brought them a computer screen full of yarn swatches and told them to pick a color. Gleefully they both picked exactly what I thought they'd go for (anyone care to take a guess which was which?). After that I had them stepping on my measuring tape, and they were grinning happily as they noticed their balls of yarn in my things.

Honestly, I'm sure they both know they're getting socks. But these are special, mama-made, washable wool socks for wearing when we play outside in the snow that we're happily anticipating.

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pull of socks as exciting, but the other day I seriously explained to Micah that I needed him to close his eyes and give me his foot so I can make sure his present was coming along right. He snapped those long lashes shut tight, and I tried on his sock. He didn't peep for a second, but asked, smiling big, "Is it a sock?" I answered, "Oh, it's a surprise, you know I can't tell you till Christmas!"

He grinned even bigger, happy to be in on the "secret" as I pulled off the sock and stashed it away before he could get his eyes open. All the while Levi was scanning the counter, trying to covertly peek for his project in the works with this big smile on his face too.

Over socks! Totally worth $3.50 a ball, and the little extra effort of "sneaking" about while I work on them!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

new tradition

This year we started a new tradition.  We met some friends at a tree farm and had a great time wandering through the pines, looking for just the right tree.  We found it, and daddy cut it down, and tossed it in the back of his truck.  We had "hot" cocoa, and laughed a lot.  It was cold, but I didn't care, as me and the littles were all wearing cozy, mama-made sweaters.  And we even got to support a local farmer!

It's funny just how much more fun this was than our normal trip to the tree lot!  I totally recommend it. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

for crying out loud

Could somebody please explain to my 4-month-old that no one would mind if she waited another few weeks to start pushing up like that? I tried telling her, but she just grins and grins and pushes up all the higher. She even got up on her hands a time or two.

It is a very good thing Paul is building that Lego table for the boys. Judging by the fact that she's inch-worming her way off and on her playmat, the floor is about to be hers...

Friday, December 3, 2010


For math today we did the painstaking task of prepping some cookie dough. We really and truly did math, simply by focusing on real-world application of measurements, and (of course) Levi was the one reading the recipe! After dinner we pulled out the dough and the boys made cookies with daddy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


My aunt gave us a gingerbread kit, so I squished a ton of icing all over that thing and the boys decorated "the fool out of it" as we're fond of saying in my family. Eve was sleeping peacefully, which gave me a chance to click away to my heart's content.

Everyone looks at my littles and declares that Eve favors Micah in her looks. What they don't realize, unless they stroll through our photo albums, is that all my babes looked exactly alike (save for Eve's dark hair). People just look at the three of them, and they assume that my Eve looks like my Micah, because he still has that baby-ness about his features.
But as I watched them build and decorate that little house, I saw something.

Micah is leaving, forever, that chubby-fingered, round-face stage. He's shooting upward, stretching all that sweet baby fat into the features of little boy-dom. His face, at times, looks more and more grown up. And his hands? They are still chubby, baby hands, but they change, ever-so-slightly, every day, and when I look at the pictures I'm forced to realize that his hands are looking more and more like his brother's, like a boy's hands...

Funny to think that someday those hands will be big enough to clasp around my own wizened hands.

...makes me wonder what Mary must have thought when she held Jesus-the-toddler's little hand. The chubby little baby hand of God Himself.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

old-fashioned math

I totally have to recommend a good, old-fashioned abacus. Especially if you can get your hands on a solid, real wood one. My husband thought I was a bit odd when he found it amoung our early Christmas presents, but I was thrilled!

The thing they're really good for is hands-on math. You can use those beads for just about any basic function, and your kid can actually see it without having a bunch of manipulatives rolling off the table and being chased by the dog...

You know how you can look at a group and just know there are five things in it? Levi is learning that, because the humble abacus lines up those little beads consistently. We've also already used it to practice counting by 2's, 5's, and 10's, as well as figuring out how old both the boys will be in 2 years (word problems!), and for subtraction, and for counting to 100.

Huzzah for the lowly abacus!