One Year

One year. That is how long we have had her. Twelve months. I can’t remember what life was like without her. Fifty two weeks. It really doesn’t seem like a long time. But three hundred sixty five days ago she was a helpless newborn and now she is a fully mobile crumb cruncher.

Chloe Joy. It means “blooming”. A joyous blooming flower. I thank God for every single minute that I have her.

Happy First Birthday, Chloe. I love you!

Five Things About My Mermaid

First: It is finished! Blocked, buttoned and done. This is the third sweater in the “Year of the Sweater” project I have going on. (It was the fourth to be cast on, but the Vera Sweater is still in time out.)

Second: It grew. A LOT. I don’t think I even swatched for this one, let alone blocked the swatch like I know I am supposed to. It is top down, so I tried it on as I went and it was fitting perfectly. As soon as I lifted it from the water, I knew. It was growing. Even though I stopped 16 rows short of what the pattern directed on the sleeves, they are still a tad too long. I had envisioned a more clingy fit, like the one on the model in the picture. I think I will be happy with it anyway. It is so lovely.

Third: It only took 4 (plus a tiny bit of the fifth) of the 7 skeins I had bought. That means I have enough yarn to do something else. This pleases me to no end! This yarn, Dream in Color Classy is so nice. I love the colors, the way they play and never pool. I love the way that I can wear it without worry, because it is superwash. I love the squishy softness, and the gorgeous drape after it is blocked. Love, love, love.

Fourth: I didn’t follow the pattern to the letter (I know, shocking…). Besides the sleeve changes I already mentioned, I placed my buttons lower, made button loops instead of sewing on snaps and added one more repeat of the cable pattern to the body. I also changed the ribbing from 5/1 to 4/2. And, as you can see in the pictures, I intend to wear it with the collar folded down, instead of buttoned up to the chin. I think it looks better like that on my body type.

Fifth: I can’t wait till it gets cool enough to wear this masterpiece. It was torture to wear it for the short photo shoot (with my seven year old photographer, Noah). I sadly put it away with the winter clothes. It will be such a treat when the weather turns cool and I open that box to find this waiting for me! I love it.

Mermaid, the Mondo Cable Cardigan by Chic Knits in Dream in Color Classy Dusky Aurora

It seems that when one has a cavalier attitude about casting on projects and never finishing anything, one also has seasons of getting a lot of projects finished in a short time because everything is already half way (or mostly) complete. I like those seasons. I also like casting on. I guess I just like knitting, whatever season. I bet you already guessed that!

Monkey Party!

Today we celebrated my little girl’s third birthday. She wanted a “monkey party”, so that is what she got.

I draped monkeys anywhere a monkey could be draped.

We fed the hungry monkey banana bean bags.

We painted ceramic monkeys.

We ate “monkey food” in lieu of birthday cake. (Nilla wafer banana pudding)

Happy Birthday, Little Monkey! I love you!

Now, slow down! You are growing up waay to fast.

Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo

Late last night, as I blocked my newly completed lace shawl, I had a little song running through my head, inspired by the magical way I was turning a gnarly mass of loopy wool into a delicate work of art. I know most of you either have children or were children, so you know this song. Sing with me.

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo


Put ’em together and what
have you got
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
It’ll do magic believe it or not
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Now sala-gadoola means
Menchicka booleroo
But the thing-a-ma-bob that
does the job
Is bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

Sala-gadoola-menchicka-boo-la
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put ’em together and what
have you got
Bibbidi-bobbidi
Bibbidi-bobbidi
Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

I am totally infatuated with this thing.

I keep draping it over anything that can be draped over.

This is the most beautiful thing I have ever made with my hands.

It was the most challenging knitting project I have ever undertaken.

Now, what am I going to do with it?

Victorious

So, last night, I knew I was going to finish Gold, my first lace shawl. Before I begin this heroic account of those last four rows, I want to sidetrack. (A sidetrack in the first line? Gotta be some kind of record!) I am a project knitter. I knit because I want a sweater or a diaper cover or a gift for a loved one. I enjoy knitting, but I don’t knit for the pure pleasure. I want the end result. This was different. I did not knit this shawl because I decided, “Gee, I really want a lace shawl”. This baby was all about the process. And what a process it was. But back to the main story.

So, last night, I am trucking along. Four rows left. Now three. Now two. Last row, and it is all purl. Purl, purl, purl. Five hundred and twenty five purls. Easy. The finish line was in sight. I could see it, and as my hands took over their mindless task, I started to daydream. I mentally blocked it. I started composing my blog in my head. I could hear the Chariots of Fire playing in the background. Then, about thirty stitches from the end, an odd sense of foreboding hit me. The victorious music faded, and I think I heard the Jaws soundtrack. I ignored it for a few more stitches, then stopped. Wait a minute. Wasn’t I purling? NOPE. Knitting. My hands switched to knitting way back when my brain started fantasizing about lacy pictures and victorious blog speeches. My lifeline was, arogantly, 15 rows back. So, I started tinking. Tink, tink, tink.

I wish that was the end of the saga. Once my hands learned their lesson and purled the whole row, I commenced to binding off. No problem, right? I have bound off a hundred times. I could do it in my sleep. (Which was a lovely idea. It was getting late and I was tired.) Problem. I have never bound off lace, and this new procedure was a bit baffling. With two strands held together, purl 2, slip back to the left needle and purl them together. I know that sounds simple, now. But, at 10:30 at night with the euphoria of victory building in my breast, and my husband going to bed without me, my hands, once again took over. Now, I was composing this post, in which I documented the horror of that last row, but the victory of binding off in the end. Then, it happened again. My hands, thinking that they knew better than I, had started to bind off as if we were making some ordinary sweater way back along the line. Tink, tink, tink.

For those of you who are wondering, I do have a shawl this morning. A glorious, hand made, lace shawl. I blocked it last night after working on the last four rows for three hours. I crawled into bed, exhausted and happy. Victorious.

It doesn’t look like much now, but wait till tomorrows episode when we work the magic of blocking….

Feeling Kinda Random

Random thought: Unschooling is a hot topic.
My post yesterday stirred up a lot of people here on my blog and also on facebook. Good. These things need to be thought about. Thanks to everyone for such wonderful, insightful comments. That is one thing I love about blogging – I say my piece and then sit back and let you say yours. You guys are all fantastic, by the way.

Random thought: I don’t feel like doing anything today.
Knitting, eating, playing, reading, it is all unappealing today. Weird. I haven’t had any chocolate in a few days, maybe that is the problem…. (and, no, I am not pregnant! That would be barfing, not boredom.)

Random thought: Our library in Auberry is the best library ever!
This morning, we sat out on the lawn in the shade of some giant trees and watched a very funny magic show at our library. The summer reading program is so fabulous, and it is one of the many reasons that going to the library is a treat for my kids. The librarians are all so sweet, the programs are incredible and the community of mothers that attend them is so precious. Every friend I have made since we moved here, I met at the library, with only two exceptions.

Random thought: I am back to chocolate.
Maybe there are some chocolate chips somewhere in the cupboard…. hmmmmm.

Random thought: This blog post is struggling.
Maybe I should insert a picture of something lovely and end it. Okay, here goes…

The End.

A Bone To Pick

The other day I saw this clip of the report Good Morning America did on unschooling. (Insert disclaimer here. I consider my style of homeschooling to be very unschooling-ish) Three things went through my mind while watching the short clip.

1. Where did they find these people? I know lots of homeschoolers, having been homeschooled myself through jr. high and high school, and now being a homeschool mom myself. I have never met any homeschool family that was so cavalier about their children’s education. They kept reciting these figures to make it sound like ten to twenty percent of homeschool family’s were just like the family they were interviewing. Where are these people? Where is the other side of the story? Where are the success stories? Couldn’t they find any more mainstream unschoolers to interview? And, okay, listen. I am sure those people are very nice, but next time you are invited to represent the rest of us on national television, please state your case better than that. Show us why your way is good, don’t leave so much room for criticism. “They get want they want to get done” just doesn’t cut it.

2. Why doesn’t this sound so bad to me? While I object to the “Let the kids do whatever they want” spin, why are the “experts” so concerned about it? Those kids are being raised by parents who are actively thinking about what is best for them, and are being given the freedom to pursue their dreams. What is so great about public schools? What “choices” are they missing out on? Putting a kid in a box and forcing him to be a full time student doesn’t sound that appealing to me. Let kids be kids. Let parents be parents. Why do we think kids need to be in a classroom (whether at school or home) for most of their childhood in order to turn out “mainstream”? The reporter asked the fifteen year old if she was prepared for college. What?!? What fifteen year old is? Where was the emphasis on her ability to get prepared when the time came?

and 3. The definition of unschooling varies from family to family. While I consider us to be unschoolers, we still “do school”. We have text books, we have a reading list. My kids are required to do things that they may not be interested in from time to time and we certainly have rules in our house. Unschooling to me means that , while we do not work our way through a certain curriculum and do not keep school hours, we are schooling all the time. In some ways, unschooling is harder than any other choice. I have no check list, no teachers manual, no schedule. It is my job to find teachable moments and take advantage of them. We find a centipede, put it in a jar, watch it grow, research centipedes at the library and online and voila! we are “doing school”. I spend my days educating my kids through living life. And they are thriving.

So, forgive me if I take offense to this mockery of education. Unschooling can be education at its finest.

In closing, I would just like to add that I feel my job as a homeschooling mom is to instill in my kids three things – a love of learning, a curious mind and the skills to find the information they need. With these three things, they can conquer any educational gap that may occur with my teaching style. But you won’t hear that on Good Morning America.

For further reading check out these links:

Unschooling.com

GA Peach Homeschool

Sandra Dodd

A Roll Of Wrapping Paper

When cleaning out the closet, I found two rolls of wrapping paper left over from Christmas. “This is silly,” I thought to myself. “Storing wrapping paper for a whole year just to save a couple of bucks. I don’t have room for this.” On my way to the trash can, I had an epiphany.

“Hey, guys,” I called to the kids. “What can you do with this?”

And here was there answer:

(Abby didn’t participate. She was too busy timing herself to see how long it takes her to read a Hardy Boys Mystery. The answer? One hour, fifteen minutes. WOW!)

Noah made an extra large treasure map complete with venomous viper pits, lakes of lava, sea serpent swamps, land mines and other dangerous and exciting pitfalls.

Beka wrapped up some of her toys and “gave” them to Emma, singing “Happy Birthday to You” as each gift was opened. (Emma’s birthday is next week, so it has been on Beka’s mind.)

Emma first cut it into a zillion tiny little pieces (which are now scattered all over the house), then she made  a ball.

I’d say that was an excellent use for old christmas wrapping paper, wouldn’t you?

Pathetic

One sleeve. That’s it. Sixty five (very short) rows are all that separate me from victory. Only ten inches of easy knitting would make the difference between, “See this sweater I am trying to make”, and, “Hey, look at the sweater I just made”. That isn’t much. Maybe an hour or two left and I am home free. The end is right there, nearly in my grasp. So, why does it still look like this?

Mermaid Mondo Cable Cardi in Dream in Color Classy, Dusky Aurora

I blame the weather. It’s hot and that is a big wool sweater! Also, I blame the lace. This is how I spent much of my weekend:

working on Gold Aeolian Shawlette in Madelinetosh Prairie, Nutmeg

(thanks to one of the kiddos for this flattering picture…) I know you can’t really see it, but I also got the machine out and did some sewing. The girls and I all got some new skirts. Very fun. Highlight of the weekend.

The lace is really whipping me good.