Thursday, December 30, 2010

DH

And in this instance it means dear husband. 

I have not been feeling well the last few days.  Trying to fight back a cold, unsuccessfully I might add.  Jackson came home earlier than usual, well it is usual for around the holidays, but unusual for almost all other times of the year.  It was nice, we enjoy having more time with Jackson.  Last night I was just feeling real horrible, head ache, runny nose and I asked him if he would fix supper.  Anything really, I didn't care what it was as long as I didn't have to get up and do it.  So he does and brings me my plate.


Isn't it just the cutest plate.  He said it was supposed to look sort of like an insect.  He made all our plates that way.  It just brought a smile to my face.  Sometimes he is just so sweet and trying to pick me up a little when I am feeling down.  AND he brought me my favorite fork.  Not sure if you can see it in the picture but I have talked about this fork before, at least I think I have.  It is a fork that was my mom's from her first silverware set.  No not real silver but REAL special to me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy

This is copied from a friend, who also got it from a friend....you get the picture.  It is really cool and makes me think "in the moment".  She posted what makes her happy today.  So that is the title "Happy" and if you want to play along also post what makes you HAPPY TODAY!!

Happy
My boys sleeping soundly after a long night playing joyfully with a friend
The quiet
Two pug puppies always ready to snuggle
A BIG cuppa chai
My nook recharging for another marathon reading session (we'll both be ready to go)
My wonderful husband at work so that I can stay home with the boys
The tree all decorated that has lasted well over a month
A warm fire in the stove
Knitting socks


Hap-py:  characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.

So what makes you happy right now, in this moment. 


Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow

One of the benefits of living in the South, and one of the reasons we decided to settle here once we ETSed from the Army, was the warm climate and MILD winters.  I personally am not a fan of snow and cold, never have been.  I grew up in Maine with lots of snow, long winters, and cold weather.  I just don't like it, I don't like that feeling of being cold and never getting warm. 

So far we have had very mild winters here in NC.  Lasting only 6-8 weeks, rarely any snow, and if there is snow it melts away in a day or two.  We have not seen a white Christmas here since we have lived here, that is 13 years. 



This year we have early snow, and quite a bit of it, cold weather and a white Christmas.  I had to dig out my LL Bean boots, haven't seen those in years, and find gloves and a hat.  My boys have lots of winter gear, they have taken up snowboarding this year and dress to stay warm.  So they were all set.  I did go out and make the obligatory snow man, but then curled up inside by the fire with a book, and only peeked out to take pictures.  This was the scene at our house on Christmas day.  And I will say with the snow people stayed inside so going out with the dogs on Christmas morning it was so quiet and peaceful.  Snow falling around me, not a car on the road, no school buses, not even people outside.  I could hear the birds chirping, and the waterfall roaring across the road at the park, so that was nice.  I guess even the snowy weather will bring its moments of joy. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tree Topper

So many things have been going on this holiday season, and I have been so "in the moment" that I haven't taken time to blog.  I like that in some ways, but I do like the documentation, the pictures, my thoughts as we are moving through the days and events, the kids like reading about them all. 
Today I have a spare minute to blog about our tree topper this year.  Last year as we were taking the tree down both boys mentioned that they did not like our topper.  Really it is my mother's tree topper, her second and last one, an angel.  My mother had always had an angel at the top of the tree.  The one I really remember was a plastic one that had a single bulb inside to light it up, one year the bulb melted the plastic a little and so we never again lit the angel up.  Some years later my mother bought another angel for the top of the tree and threw the old one away.  The new angel had a porcelain head and white body, I have seen them around, it isn't "one of a kind" or anything.  It had a small light in its hands and a few lights inside to light her all up.  That is the one I hung onto after she crossed over and the one we have used all these years.

Even after hearing the story of how we came to have possession of this angel, the boys just decided that since we don't label ourselves Christian, and aren't celebrating the birth of Christ, they thought the angel was not appropriate for our tree, and in that I can agree.  Do you know how hard it is to find a tree topper or anything that can be used as a topper that is NOT an angel or a star, something with real meaning for us.  We wanted a sun/moon or just a sun, to celebrate the solstice and the sun returning as the days go from shortest to getting longer. 

Well what Jackson spotted was perfect.  A dear friend of mine gave me, for either Christmas or my birthday last year or the year before, a sun.  It is glass, blue and green, with a small door in the back so you could put a tea light inside.  It has a hanger and I had it hung in the living room.  I took out the tea light "shelf" inside and we put some tree lights inside, attached it to the top of the tree.  Perfect.  It has sentimental and spiritual meaning for us and I am sure will top our tree for years to come.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  But my arms aren't still enough to get a nice "flashless" picture without getting out the tripod.  So you will have to imagine how beautiful it looks lit up in a dark room.  :-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Wreath

I have always made Christmas wreaths, my mother showed me how and I so enjoy making wreaths, the smell of the trees just calming.  But here all I have are long needle, pine trees, not good for wreaths, and I am not buying a tree just to make a wreath, so we are improvising.  LOL.  This year I made a yarn wreath, isn't it just too cute!  I found a blog with the directions, this is not the blog but it does have directions.  I did not use any type of ivy or vine on mine.  Just styrofoam balls of different sized up to 2 inch diameter.  Plastic colored Christmas balls, bells, a wire frame and hot glue.  We are just loving it, and when you open the door you can hear the bells ringing, so festive!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gingerbread

This was the week for gingerbread, and so festive, and fun, full of friendships.  We really enjoy the holiday season, this week really made that feeling of home and warmth come to life for me.  Tuesday we spent the day at a friends house.  Another friend made gingerbread houses for anyone that wanted to decorate one and we just all brought candy and icing and spent the day decorating, chatting, drinking tea, and just enjoying each other's company during this wonderful season.  It might have been cold outside but it was warm and wonderful inside. 

On Thursday we spent time in Asheville.  First we went to the Grove Park Inn.  It is beautiful in itself but now it was all decorated for the holidays, with different themed trees, a roaring fire in the HUGE fire place.  I mean HUGE, I think an adult could stand up INSIDE of the fireplace, with room to spare.  The National Gingerbread Competition is held here each year and the houses are on display throughout the season.  So wandered around for a couple of hours looking at the houses and enjoying the Inn.  Then we all moved the party over to Barley's Tap Room for pizza, YUM!! One of my favorite places.  And a new one for us was the Double Decker Bus across the street from Barley's.  We packed the place and enjoyed some tea, coffee, cocoa and more chatting.  Just a wonderful week!!  Thanks to all my dear friends for making my family complete, for being there, for opening up your homes and hearts, and thank you for your friendship!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sharing the Beauty

A good friend gave me this plant, it's a Christmas Cactus. I think she gave it to me maybe 3 or 4 years ago, gosh I can't remember exactly. But it is blooming this week and it is SOOO beautiful, just like my friend. So I wanted to share this beautiful plant with everyone.

I am not sure you can see it but it is still in the original pot, although that pot is inside the pot that I want to transplant this beautiful cactus into one of these days. And it also still has the red foil wrapper around the outside. It will look even more beautiful in the new pot, and I really need to buy some potting soil and transplant that this spring. But the plant doesn't seem to care and just shares it's light with me anyway. I am so grateful for the plant and the friend!




Thursday, December 2, 2010

Buckyballs




A dear friend of ours bought my son, Phillip, some Buckyballs for his birthday this past year. The web site and the store where she bought them said "keep away from all children", so of course she knew that they had to be cool and my son would enjoy them. Which he has, he does and he will continue to do....he LOVES them. She was so right, and I am glad she ignored the "warning" and followed her instincts instead!!


He works with the Buckyballs frequently so tonight I took some pictures and thought I would share. Oh and by the way these would make great Christmas gifts.


*I have no investment in the company what-so-ever and am not suggesting that anyone should ignore the warning.




;-)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Solstice

Happy Holidays everyone, however you choose to celebrate. I am still unsure what to call what we do here in our house. We celebrate Christmas but not the birth of Christ. Some will say that we do not celebrate Christmas then because you "can't take Christ out of Christmas". But somehow we do.

We put up a tree and we do open presents on the 25th. It is a day full of wonder and joy. We all LOVE picking out presents for each other, on the sly. My boys know where their presents are kept (in my closet) and know they can look at any time if they like. BUT they so prefer the surprise. Even though they get what they want/need during the year. That special day is such a nice day full of surprises and family, being together. Not sure why we do it on the 25th other than that is when their friends are opening gifts, most of their friends.

We also make solstice bread on the shortest day of the year, we keep the fire stoked throughout the night and we get up just before sunrise to watch the sun as it comes back up over the mountains and trees to greet us after the longest night of the year. Then we go back inside and eat our solstice bread and have hot tea and cocoa. We make dream sticks, decorated with yarn, ribbon, etc. With writings all around our sticks of the dreams we have for the coming year.

We also have our solstice lights. Which I keep lit for as long as the bulbs last. This year I crocheted flowers for the solstice lights. This is sort of my tradition. Each year I think up another decoration for the lights and spend time decorating the lights, thinking about family, friends, all the great things in my life, and each time I look at my solstice lights I think of the many wonderful blessings in my life. Which is what I want to share today. Pictures of this year's solstice lights. Enjoy. And again Happy Holidays.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Television and Its Addictive Nature

That caught your attention. LOL.


I wanted to talk about television today. I have heard so many people tell me how addictive TV is, that if my kids (or any kids really) have unlimited access to TV they will watch it all the time, and not be able to pull away. They will be "addicted".


If you looked at me and my life you could easily say "see...I told you so". As my life follows that theory and seems to prove it based on the outcome. I was given unlimited access to the TV, my parents enjoyed watching TV, that was a relaxing, family-time end to our day. Pick a TV show and we would would all watch. I watched Saturday morning cartoons, I watched those after school specials, I did my homework in front of the TV, I got ready for school watching TV. It was a huge fixture in the living room.


And now I love TV, I have it on much of the day, although I can go without it and do sometimes (especially with nice weather...I do so enjoy getting outside in my gardens), but much of the time it is on, even if I am not watching it. I read with the TV on in the background, watch a movie while I knit, work on the computer with the TV in the background. So one could say that "if you give a kid unlimited access to the television that child will become addicted".


BUT if that were true it would also follow that my children would be addicted. They have unlimited access to the television. And something I did not have as a child, they each have a television in their room, and we have a large screen television in the family room, smaller one in the living room (that is how much I enjoy TV). So for the theory to hold out, my children should be there glued to the TV right along with me, watching it all the time, putting together legos in front of the TV, reading with the TV on etc.


BUT they are not!


Actually my oldest watches hardly any TV at all, I would say less than an hour a week. He asked me the other day if I could turn it off when I am not watching it or at least turn it down. So my TV watching has decreased dramatically because of him. And when I leave the room I make sure to turn it off, for him. My youngest watches maybe an hour a day, sometimes less, sometimes a little more. Again not glued to it at all.


Why the difference? Who knows. I certainly don't. I did have games, toys, a younger brother to play with, growing up. It isn't because I had nothing else to do. So I really don't know what the difference is. I do know that the theory has not been proven as fact in our house. On the contrary it just proves to me that we are each individuals with individual likes and dislikes. And given free access, have the freedom to choose what it is we enjoy. And for that I am truly grateful.


And now to get off the computer, turn on the TV and read.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Explore Science Day

I was chatting with a friend today and she mentioned she wanted to get together a fun science club. I have been doing the Explore Science Day today for about a year and a half so I mentioned this and thought I could share the ideas we have put on the table, as well as the links to help her out a little maybe. No since reinventing the wheel when I have done a little searching for ideas myself. I thought I would post it on my blog as well in case anyone else was interested in some fun science ideas, things you can just put on the table and let everyone play. So here it is:

1. Kitchen Chemistry, got the idea from this site http://ezinearticles.com/?Ultra-Cool-Homeschool-Chemistry-Experiments&id=534216

2. We made slime (have done this several times and it is always a hit) http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000039

3. Baggie ice cream, we made the ice cream and I provided all the fixin's for banana splits if they wanted that: http://crafts.kaboose.com/ice-cream-in-a-bag.html

4. Blood typing, got that kit from Carolina Biological they have many different kits. During this day I also got out my microscope and stereoscope and we looked at our blood, saliva and a whole host of other things the kids found to look at.

5. Electricity, I bought a kit from Carolina Biological and printed off about 5 different experiments from different sites and let the kids go at it.

6. Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction, from this book: http://www.amazon.com/Mini-Weapons-Mass-Destruction-Implements/dp/1556529538 The kids LOVED this, I copied 5 simple *weapons* and had all the stuff spread out on my table and the kids went at it.

7. Elephant Toothpaste: http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/toothpaste.php

8. M&M survival challenge: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Zoo_p012.shtml

9. We did an egg drop challenge. I put out different things like pantyhose, toilet paper, paper towels, tape, balloons, straws, cotton, fabric, rubber bands, Styrofoam cups, etc. And 2 dozen eggs, the challenge was to create something to *hold* a raw egg, then we dropped them from my deck, which is high off the ground, but any high place, and checked to see what contraptions protected the eggs.

10. We did the tower of pasta challenge on this page sort of, we used more items, less restrictions and for fun, then we tested to see which tower could hold a small Tupperware dish and how many pennies it could hold. But there are a lot more ideas on this page as well http://www.odysseyofthemind.com/practice/default_cat.php?Id=2

11. We did water testing, with tap water and creek water, got the small kits from Carolina Biological. Everyone brought samples from their home, yard and they tested their own water.

12. Animal track casting. I have a creek at the house here, plenty of tracks. What I did was put some dry plaster of paris mix in small baggies and we took the baggies and some bottles of water to the creek and looked for tracks. When we found one, we just added a little water to the baggie and zipped the baggie back up and squished it and mixed the plaster. Then pour the plaster from the baggie into the track until you fill up the track. Went to play for an hour, then went back and lifted out the tracks and looked them up to see what they were from.

13. One we are doing in December if Fire starting. My dh and a friend's dh are actually doing the work, LOL, different ways to start a fire, making a bow drill, using a flint etc. Should be fun.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Socialization is Overrated

A friend of mine said this recently...."Socialization is Overrated". And I heartily agree. I know I have been absent from the blogging community lately. I have so much to blog about. But I have been in a funk as of late. Just don't want to be social, can't seem to do it. I have always been an introvert but have really enjoyed friendships. Even though it is hard for me to develop friendships, when I do, I treasure them. For some this is hard to believe ;-)

A few weeks ago I went to a party at a friends house, people I knew, friends. But when I walked in I felt overwhelmed, even though there were only I think 5 families there when we arrived. I couldn't make a connection, couldn't jump in on conversations. It was a paralyzing feeling for me, but my boys were so excited about the party so I struggled through it. A couple of my closer friends could see something was up, and it does show me how strong my friendships are when my friends notice a change in me. But I couldn't explain my feelings, I couldn't even talk about it without wanting to cry and just needing to get out. I did have to go for a couple of walks during the party. I know they are trying to help and I don't know exactly what helps. It is just a feeling of wanting to cocoon myself in the house and not go out, not feeling social, not wanting to be around other people.

So in going through this I thought a lot about my friend who is staying more and more at home. Why, in this society, do we put such importance on socialization? If children, or even adults, do not want to be social, should we be forcing them? Can you lead a fulfilling, joyful life with only minimal social interactions? I really think you can. I do need social interactions, and value friendships, but not everyone does. For me this feeling lasts a week or two and I try to honor that feeling and get the "down" time I need.

Is there something "wrong" with not wanting to be a social being? Shouldn't we all be honoring our internal voice, and living a life that brings us joy? The mom of my friend (also a friend) is really handling her son's need for isolation with such grace. Allowing him the space to be alone, without feeling hurt by his needs. She knows that it will all work out as it is supposed to be, and that he knows what he needs better than anyone else.

So today I am grateful that I can hear and honor what my body needs. Grateful for friends, friends that show me a different way to be, friends that care.

I do have things to blog about and will do that soon, as I come out of my cocoon with renewed energy.
:-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stop and Breathe

We are getting ready for a homeschool camping mini-vacation. It is so nice to get away with people who "get it". But the preparation has me busy, busy. I keep telling myself that next time I will be organized earlier, so that I won't feel that rushing feeling. But this is the one thing I haven't been able to accomplish. There are just so many last minute things that can't be done ahead. So I have been rushing around this morning.

But a couple of things have made me pause and just take a breath and come back to the moment, relax for a minute. And that is all I need sometimes, just the smallest of breaks to be grateful in the moment, and be joyful.

Yesterday a friend made me the cutest dishcloth. I love it, it isn't the usual ones I make this one makes you smile. It was spontaneous, and wonderful and I found it in my bag a few minutes ago, and just thought of her, and smiled. Going to use it right now.

Another friend posted a Jimmy Buffett song, A Pirate Looks at Forty, and mentioned living so far away from the ocean. Which in reality we do not, but when you grow up ON the ocean it seems like thousands of miles. I listened to that song, my second favorite Jimmy Buffett, and then listened to my favorite Jimmy Buffett song...One Particular Harbor.

For just a moment I could relax, breathe in the salt air, feel the sand at my feet, and hear the ocean crashing against the shore. So relaxing and rejuvenating. Gotta love it.

So thanks to both dear friends for being there, even though you didn't know it, when I needed a pick me up, a break from the rush. You are loved!!




Monday, October 11, 2010

Message from the Universe

What a nice day outside today, sun is out but not too hot, skies are clear. In the mornings I have my "ritual"...take the puppies out, make my rice cereal and chai, have breakfast, take puppies out again, play with Ellis, meditate, play with the puppies, make my todo list for the day.

Well today was no different, I made my todo list and put it in my chair outside while I went to play with Ellis and the puppies, I mean who can resist the energy of Ellis combined with the cuteness and playful personalities of the puppies. I went to sit back down in my chair and meditate for a few minutes in the beautiful sunshine and I saw my todo list, with my pen, and a perfect fall leaf right on top. Like it had been placed there by the Universe. So I intend to follow through with that thought, I think I will see if the boys want to go down to the Greenway in Morganton and go for a nice walk today. Ahhh the messages we hear if we choose to listen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Public School Agenda

I was reading back in August, on the Governor's blog, the NC governor that is. There is a blog for the state of NC, they call it an "e town hall" but really there is no input from the general public. I keep up to date on this stuff to stay informed about homeschooling and public schooling in NC, just one of many sites I visit.

Anyway I am getting off my topic. Back in August I read about the North Carolina Education Cabinet and what was written said in part:
"Last year, Gov. Perdue reinvigorated the North Carolina education cabinet by naming former State Board Chair Howard Lee as Executive Director and focusing its mission on creating a seamless Pre K-20 educational system that will produce college ready high school graduates and a 21st century work force for North Carolina which is further illustrated in the Governor's education agenda Career and College - Ready, Set, Go!" (bold is their emphasis not mine)

So many things hit me at once, it has taken me a couple of months to mull this over and over in my head trying to decide what exactly was hitting me wrong.

So many people criticize homeschooling, saying that it will not appropriately socialize a child, they have to know how to deal with the real world so send them to school. But do you see what I see. There is NO mention of socialization in the statement above. The complete focus is on preparing kids for work, either blue or white color, just work.

There is absolutely no mention of creating appropriate social opportunities, not a word about coping mechanisms, or problem solving skills. That is not on the public school radar, not an objective, just a 21st century work force. Which I have known is the goal of public education all the while, but I guess seeing it in print, in bold letters, just kind of slapped me in the face in that moment.

So why are we so shocked with all the bullying that goes on in public school, and when did the general public decide that was OK, and part of life as a child? Why are we shocked by the teen suicides, by guns in schools? Why does the drug and alcohol epidemic among the young, surprise us?

People have no problem criticizing homeschool families for something they know nothing about, but don't even think to criticize the public school system. The place where their child spends at least 8 hours a day, year after year. Am I the only one that sees the noticeable absence of things like "positive self esteem", "happiness", "appropriate problem solving skills", "effective communication techniques"from that mission statement.

These are things that homeschoolers care about. Not only do we care about our children's future, we care about their today, we care about positive self esteem, and happiness, problem solving and communication.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Another Shawl for Christmas

OK finished one of the unfinished projects I have sitting here by my desk. So all my friends know what they are getting for Christmas.

This shawl is pretty simple, I used a nice soft, fuzzy yarn, which made this shawl really soft and warm. I also loved the color and the title of the shawl, True Friend Shawl.

You can find the pattern at the web site, it is ranked as "easy", although I thought it was a little more difficult that my other shawls, although still not that difficult. Enjoy the pattern, enjoy the shawl and happy crocheting. Don't ya love handmade Christmas gifts.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cool Science

Phillip, my youngest is really into the hands on science experiments, always has been. When I saw this book, 101 Cool Science Experiments, I had to get it. I thought he would enjoy it and he has, we are having such a great time doing these quick, fun experiments. Most use things you already have around the house, and usually take only 20-30 minutes, instant gratification, we are learning so much, having fun, and really connecting.

Today we did one called "Hot Stuff"

You need:
small glass bottle
water
string
food coloring
larger glass jar (has to be big enough to hold the smaller bottle)
scissors

You cut a long piece of string and tie each end around the neck of the small glass bottle. In that small glass bottle you put hot water and a few drops of food coloring. In the large glass jar you put cold water about 2/3 full. Then you use the loop of string to lower the glass bottle into the jar of cold water and watch what happens. It was too cool watching the hot, colored water drift out of the bottle, looked like smoke rising.

This isn't the same experiment (although pretty cool too) but explains what happens clearly, in case you want to replicate this at home:

When you heat up water, the molecules start moving around faster. They bounce off each other and move farther apart. Because they are farther apart a volume of hot water will have fewer molecules than the same volume of cold water. The hot water will weigh less and be less dense. When mixed with the cold water, the hot water will rise to the top, cold water will sink to the bottom.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fairy House

I was feeling very frustrated Sunday. We have a hill beside our driveway with a small retaining wall. Small wall but still a significant incline. We have lived in this house for almost 13 years now, wow when I type it out it seems like a very LONG time...LOL. And for almost 13 years we have been battling this hill. It is too steep to mow and really hard to even use the weed eater on it, just hard to keep your balance. The hill is also covered in vines, poison ivy, Virginia creeper and HONEY SUCKLE. I loved honey suckle until I moved here. Now it is everywhere and in everything and I think it grows feet a day, covering anything in its path.

I usually end up out on that hill at least three or four times a year to just pull up the vines, and it is such a job. They all have such huge root systems that sometimes as I am pulling and I swear I feel them pulling back, trying to suck me into the earth. There are some nice bushes on the hill, and some ground cover, but it all gets covered up by the vines, and the vines look terrible, not to mention the reaction my boys have to the poison ivy.

OK back to the story, I was out there on Sunday, trying to weed out the poison ivy and honey suckle, yet again, and I just had enough. So I backed away, I don't want to put such negative energy into anything. I backed away and decided to build a fairy house to add to another garden spot. There is a nice blank area that has just been waiting for ideas. Yes I had thought about adding another plant of some sort, a flowering bush maybe. But that just didn't seem right. I looked at our pile of left over stone and decided that the spot needed a house, a fairy house so all our little friends, that watch over and protect us know they are loved and welcome. I also thought of our friend Kailey's fairy house, hers is out of stone as well.

It turned out so nice, and I used some holly twigs for decoration, we had just pruned that tree a little. It just adds so much to that one spot and is perfect. I love it!!

While doing this very positive, energizing activity the answer to my frustration hit me.

Let's get rid of that hill. The perfect answer. We can move the few bushes that I want to save, move the blueberries and raspberries, they would do better in another spot anyway. The tree that is on the hill needs to come down as it is growing up into the power lines, which could be a problem this winter. Let's back up the retaining wall a few feet, make it as high as the hill. It will add more space to our driveway and we will have a couple more feet around the garden at the top, easy to mow up there. Problem solved and I can't wait!!

Just needed to relax, focus on something else, get my positive energy moving, and I knew the solution would come.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One More Shawl

For right now anyway. I have two more in the works and picked up the extra yarn I needed yesterday, so who knows when they will be done.

This shawl has been a long time in the making. I was gifted a gift certificate to Purl's Yarn Emporium, a few years ago. Have been thinking about what I wanted to get and make ever since. I wanted to do something for myself....hmmmm. Well I decided on a shawl and some yarn that I would never buy otherwise, just too expensive. I would always think about how many socks I could make for gifts with that same amount of money. But not this time, this GC was going to be spent on yarn for myself. And I will say I thought about the friend who gifted me the GC all the while I crocheted, such a sweet person and a dear friend.

It was a beautiful yarn, and so soft, so I decided to make a shawl, something to keep me warm on these chilly fall morning, and it is complete (and just in time, brrr).

Again another easy pattern, I did use a much smaller hook than the one recommended in the pattern, I just didn't want my shawl as "loose".

I just thought the colors of this yarn were absolutely beautiful. And you can find the pattern, Carmen's Shawl, at this linked web page.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Wrap Complete

Here is a second wrap I crocheted. Again a Christmas gift. It is so nice and soft, and again this was an easy 2 day project. I do need to get back to knitting some more socks and hats, but for now am having fun with crochet. And I know everything will be complete by Christmas :-)
I like the nice shell boarder design, so nice and "delicate" looking.


The pattern is called Simply Shawl by Caron, on the Caron site. It says it is an intermediate level in difficulty but I found it simple, and think it should be relabeled. So even if you are a beginner at crochet, if you like the wrap, go look at the pattern.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Crochet Wrap

I have been working on Christmas presents. Yes making socks, but also some different things. This month I have been crocheting wraps and shawls. So I thought I would share the result along with the patterns if anyone is interested.
Simple, simple pattern. It's called My Blue Jeans Shawl, and you can find the pattern, free, at Knottie By Nature.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fencing

I scheduled a demo with a fencing instructor in Morganton, for this past week. It was a homeschool activity, and we were anticipating the instructor, Matt, to give a demo and answer questions. We were so pleasantly surprised when he took the demo in a whole different direction, and really ran it like a class. Dh, Jackson, and one of our sons, Dallen, really liked this. Our other son attended to watch, but was really not that interested in participating.

The instructor started by showing, all those that wanted to participate, how to stand, walk (not sure the fencing terminology), then suited them all up and gave them sabers and before I knew it they were challenging each other, it was just amazing. He was very helpful, and we had all ages participating together.

I really enjoy it when a member of the community gives of their time to let our homeschool families try something new. He didn't charge us, we were there for 2 hours, with no obligation to participate. I enjoyed watching, they really enjoyed participating. Not sure if this will be something my son wants to continue or not, but just the exposure is something he will not soon forget.

So if you live in or around Morganton, NC here is the info. I really want to give this instructor a plug because he was so nice and understanding. His studio is on Union Street, it is The Knights of Malta Fencing Academy. He charges $50 per month, which he explained for more experienced students is usually once a week. But he encourages his beginning students to attend as many classes as they can, so they advance quickly. Sessions are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6:00 pm-7:30 pm. Just show up if you are interested, and he provides all the equipment needed. If you stop by, even just to watch a session (which I highly encourage...you will really enjoy it) please just mention that the information about his studio was shared by a homeschool mom.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Slime in the Park

Last week we made slime in the park, it was a Science Day activity that my son was eager to put together, so he and I planned it for our local homeschool group. It was so wonderful. Watching the kids stir and mix and in the end make slime, then watching them manipulate the smile, and watch what it does and it oozes through the holes in the picnic tables, or absorbs the food coloring to form new colors with each added drop. Kids of all ages, making, playing, talking, having fun. It was awesome, it was an ALL day event, even though the actual making of the slime took maybe 15 minutes, it was a fun, relaxing time!! I love my friends of all ages and so enjoy their company.

Here is the recipe, adapted it from the recipe on this site.

1- 4 ounce bottle of school glue (I purchased on the back to school sale for $0.25 each)

Empty the glue into a cup and then refill the glue bottle with water and add that to the same cup. Stir well.

In another cup mix 1 cup water and 1 TBSP borax, mix until the borax is dissolved (or almost all dissolved we found it hard to get it ALL mixed), add a couple of drops of food coloring to this cup and stir.

Now add the contents of the borax/water cup to the glue cup and stir immediately. You will have a blob of slime in the water mixture.

I had everyone take the cup over to the grassy area and dump the mixture into their hands, letting the excess liquid just run off. It will be wet. Then start working the slime in your hands. As you work the slime, back and forth in your hands, it will become dryer and in a few minutes you will have SLIME.

You can find the explanation at the web site. It was so much fun, really easy, in expensive, and I recommend this for a fun time at the park!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Straight Out of the Camera


This photo is not from this morning, this morning we had clouds, rain, thunder. This photo was from earlier in the week. A picture from our front yard as the sun is rising. Such a lovely sight, and I get to wake up to that picture in real life. No alteration, just straight out of the camera.


Home

One of my all time favorite songs by one of my favorite artists. I remember playing her cassette over and over and over, on the drive back and forth from home to college. I am grateful for the talent of Karla Bonoff.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Expect the Unexpected

Grocery shopping, not my favorite task, but with the boys help in creating a menu for the week and having a list, it is at least tolerable, and perhaps almost enjoyable. Yesterday was no exception. The day flowed nicely, and I had only a few items on my list this week. Ahhh, will be out in no time.

So coming out of the store, large store but in a rural area, I see a gentleman staring at the back of my car. OK nothing exciting. People look at the back of my car all the time, I have a variety of bumper stickers that make a person think. Have never had a negative encounter, yes even living here in the south. This man does look like a *good ol' boy*. Could this be my first negative encounter. What exactly was catching his eye; "World Peace Begins at Home, Be Nicer to Your Kids" or "Schools Are For Fish" maybe "Loving Kindness is my Religion". Oh man not looking good for me. Could be "Grades are for Meat and Eggs" or "The Truly Educated Never Graduate".

OK this could go one of two ways. Either he is a *good ol' boy* who also goes against the grain, opposing government intervention in anything, all for individual freedoms, OR he is a *good ol' boy* who believes everything the government has to say and is opposed to individualism. Either way I do need to get to my car, why won't he read the bumper stickers and go away, I so do not want confrontation today. But then again I have never had a negative experience, even the most conservative homeschoolers find common ground in the bumper stickers, *a fellow homeschooler*.

So I just plug on, thinking only the best and with a smile, graciously say "hi there" to the gentleman. And he says "hi" back, and then quickly responds with "is this your car?" Why yes, yes it is. [OK so far so good...what was that question for....here it comes...] "Where did you get this *hauler*, I like how it folds up out of the way when you aren't using it."

OK so all that dialogue in my head for nothing, LOL....I mean I was laughing out loud. "I can't remember where I picked that up, it has been so long, but I can say that I LOVE my *hauler*. I use it all the time."

Quick conversation and we said our "have a nice day"s and were on our way. Just goes to show a person, expect the unexpected. I smiled all the way home....THIS made my DAY!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Choice to Homeschool

I recently was in a different situation. For us, being a homeschool family, we are surrounded with other homeschool families. But this time it was a bit different.

A mom was having a difficult time with her preschool age child, the youngest. Her older children are in public school. This young child has been coming home from preschool crying, and not wanting to go to school. The mother's heart is telling her something isn't right. She can feel that tug. Several friends responded with the "it will get better, she will stop crying".

Why is that OK. It is becoming more and more acceptable in our society to say, with our babies, that it isn't OK to let them cry it out. More and more we are encouraging parents to pick up their babies, that crying is a sign that there is an unmet need, that something isn't right. So why can't we extend that same thought to children (and adults but that isn't what I am talking about in this moment). Why would we encourage a mom to ignore her child, ignore her heart.

Of course I had to chime with with the homeschool thought, just to plant a seed.

I could have let it slide by with no comment, but it just struck me as odd.

We made our decision to homeschool pretty much in a vacuum. No real input from the outside. I don't know how people, with this much outside input, make that decision to go against the grain and pull their kids out of public school to homeschool. I commend you all that have done so. Who have followed your heart and gone against the wind, with all those people encouraging you to stick it out in the public school system. Telling you it will get better. What a hard place to be.

I ended by encouraging all parents to follow their hears and listen to their children. Why is that such a novel idea LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN! Don't let them cry it out, crying is a sign that something is not right!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Community

"We don't need an emergency or disaster to come together as people in community, this can be now."
I just loved that thought. The thought of building community. It is from the Daily Om today. And I think I have done just that. I have sought out people of like minds and formed community on a daily basis. People I know I can call any minute for help with anything. I did this yesterday.

I was headed out the door to mow, just a lovely day out. As I was walking toward the garage I could hear my chickens out by the barn squawking. And I could see two dogs chasing and catching my poor chicks. They are still only 4 months old, so not even laying eggs yet. They were in our pasture enjoying the grass, grubs and sun when out of nowhere these two neighbor dogs (I am assuming they belong to a neighbor) interrupted their peaceful day. I chased the dogs and one husky left with a chicken in his mouth. But this other dog, a basset hound, would not leave. He did drop the chicken he had killed when he saw me coming. I tried thrown rocks at the dog but he would NOT GO HOME. Every time I turned my back he would go after another chicken, when I approached him he would just cower down. So I took this basset by the collar (of course no tags) and put him in the tack room of our barn. But WHAT DO I DO NOW!! That was my question.

Animal Control was only in Monday through Friday and here it was Saturday. I couldn't let the dog out I needed to assess the damage, get all my living chicks back in the coop. So I called two friends. One to help me locate the other. The second operates a dog rescue. My thought was that if I had to hang onto the dog until Monday maybe I could get it into rescue but didn't know if a rescue would take a dog knowing it was a neighborhood dog. But they BOTH called me and gave me advice, and offered to come help.

~What a wonderful feeling to know that I can call a friend if I need help. That I have resources even though I am hundreds of miles from family, that I HAVE community, not just in a disaster but every day is a day for community. Community is family. You can build it, you can have it every day.~

The one friend advised me to call the Sheriff as Animal Control is part of law enforcement. So that is what we did, and the Sheriff called Animal Control and they came out and got the dog. The Animal Control officer was VERY nice, and I know in Burke County they work with a rescue so if the owner doesn't come forward the dog will have a chance at a good life.

But now I have other issues about protecting our chickens. hmmmmm.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sweat Lodge

It is about time for a nice sweat. The days are getting a bit cooler, evenings are beautiful. I am feeling like I need a cleansing and what better way than a sweat lodge.

My husband Jackson and my sons made me a sweat lodge for my birthday a couple of years ago, I will have to take pictures of my sweat lodge and post at some point. I am so grateful for them, and for my gift, so blessed.

It is a nice time to relax and just be present in the moment, to feel connected to the earth and the ancestors, to meditate and feel cleansed. Not sure if the boys will want to sweat this year, they have not shown interest yet, maybe someday. This is a great web site for an overview of the process, the basics.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Yoga Socks

I finished the yoga socks, really cool. Will try these out this winter when the house is chilly :-)
The pattern was a free one from Michael's, a friend gave me the pattern with the yarn. But searching on the Michael's web site I could not find the pattern online so I am going to type it out here in case anyone wants to try them:

Gauge: 28 sts and 36 rows = 4 inches in stocking st.

Cast on 64 stitches loosely. Divide into (20,20,24) sts on 3 needles, join in round. Place marker on first st for beg on rnd.

Work 10 rnds in (K1 P1) ribbing
1st round: knit
2nd round: *K1, P3. Rep from * around
3rd and 4th rounds: As 1st and 2nd rounds
5th round: Knit
6th round: *P2 K1 P1. Repeat from * around
7th and 8th rounds: as 5th and 6th rounds.

Repeat last 8 rounds for texture pattern until work from beg measures approx 4 inches, ending a 4th or 8th round of pattern.

Next round: Knit, inc 8 sts evenly around. 72 sts. Divide into 24 sts on each of 3 needles.

Work 5 rounds in (K1 P1) ribbing.

Shape heel opening:

Next round: Cast off 36 sts loosely in ribbing. Rib to end of round.

Cast on 36 sts loosely. Rejoin in round. Rib to end of round.

Work 5 rounds in (K1 P1) ribbing.

Next round: Knit, dec 8 sts evenly around.
64 sts.

Beg on a 2nd round, work approx 2 1/2 inches in texture pattern ending on a 1st or 5th round of pattern.

Work 10 rounds in (K1 P1) ribbing. Cast off in ribbing.
ENJOY!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Knitting

OK so August was such a hectic month, conference and all the preparations that come with it, as well as a trip to the beach. And despite my best intentions I never really get any knitting done at the beach, just hear those waves calling my name and must respond by SWIMMING!!

But I did eek out a couple of washcloths for the house, needed some. Just a pretty cotton yarn.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

School has Started

Oh the start of the school year has hit me smack in the face this year, not the usual gradually figure out that public school is back in session. It started this week and first thing Monday morning, returning from a dentist appointment with my oldest son, we ran into the after school pick up line of cars, lined up for at least a mile down the street, and NOT MOVING. We sat there for a couple of minutes and decided, since we weren't moving anywhere, to back up just a tad and turn around, take the longer way home, longer but undoubtedly quicker.

I often think about those lines. Parents must wait at least an hour, minimum in that line...twice a day, drop off and pick up. So glad we are not in that line, at least not intentionally, and surely not for the rest of this year now that I am painfully aware that school is open for business. I often wonder about those lines, do parents use that time in the morning to get to know their children. Having a few friends with children in the public school system, I know there is not much time otherwise, the day is filled with school, then after school activities, then supper, homework and bed. So do parents use this valuable time to talk with their children, find out their hopes, dreams, concerns, likes, or dislikes. Is the time put to good use or do they sit there complaining about the line, how slow it is. Do they ever wonder about homeschooling, about doing away with the line altogether. Do the children wait in the line eager for school or dreading the day ahead, do they use the time to talk with their parents, share their thoughts, opinions and ideas.

So many hours they spend in line at the school, 2 hours a day, 180 days a year. That is 360 hours, or 15 days a year spent in line for school. So GRATEFUL for the time at home, so GRATEFUL for the connection I have with my boys.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Full Moon

There are several blog post ideas rumbling around in my head, some meatier than others. But I wanted to share this picture. The only picture I took while on vacation, so unlike me. We were just busy having fun. On this night I was playing around with my new camera, OK so I have had it for a while...not so new....but haven't really had time to play around with settings. That night I decided to play around with shutter speed to see if I could capture a nice shot of the moon, shining so bright and beautiful over the ocean. Only editing was cropping.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts About Dad

I have blogged about my mom, but not much about my dad. I think I had a closer relationship with my mom. My dad was a quiet man, worked hard to provide for his family. And I loved him dearly.
He committed suicide back in 1996, Halloween to be exact. I can remember the phone call from my brother clearly. It was actually evening in Germany, earlier in the day back in the states. We were handing out candy to all the German and American Military trick or treaters. My oldest brother called and said "They found Buddy", and I knew what he meant, my dad had been very depressed since the death of my mother in 1995. All I could say was "I can't do this...I'm not done grieving mom yet". Of course that lasted all of a minute, and there wasn't anything I could do about it, and I couldn't "stop" the grieving for either one. It is life, things happen and I have learned from both my parents that you work through it and come out the other end.

Anyway this is not a blog post about how my dad died or much about the grieving process. I didn't have any guilt about his death, it was his choice. He knew I loved him, and he knew he was welcome to come stay with us, he knew where there was help, and I had even tried to get help for him. He was a fisherman and I think there is resistance there, fishermen don't need a "therapist", you just deal with your stuff. I was so sad, I did feel that my kids were robbed of a grandparent, both now, as my mom had did previously. But I worked through those feeling, and we do talk about both of my parents often in our household, so my boys do know how I was raised, what their grandparents were like, things like that.

But you know there is that social stigma attached to suicide. No one knows what to say to the family, although for me it was the same as when my mother crossed over, I was still grieving the same, for me suicide or an automobile accident, it didn't matter, the hurt was deep. But the community reacts so differently. The vast number of visit from friends and family, the food that filled the kitchen, was noticeably missing when my dad died. Not many visitors at all, no food to speak of. I don't think people know what to do or say. It is the thought that it is wrong, that he was doomed to hell for his action.

I hadn't really thought much about it. I live with the knowledge that we all make choices, and I do believe that only the individual can decide what is right for himself. None of us can judge that choice as we have not been in those shoes, have not lived that life. So I have always felt that it was my dad's choice. But now I am coming to a deeper understanding of his choice.

I really feel my dad did what was right for him, in that moment, given the tools he had. I do not judge him, I do not believe he is in hell, I don't believe in hell. I know that he is with my mom, in spirit, exactly where he wanted to be. But just breathing in that thought "my dad did what was right for him in that moment". To sit with that statement, and let it soak into my soul. It gives me a breath of air, a moment of new understanding and clarity.

I think mulling all of this over, I have a new/different perspective on suicide. Having been through this I do not shy away from family that have lost a loved one from suicide, I know the grief feels the same. And I do hope that one day our outlook on suicide will change, there will not be that stigma attached to it, that "burn in hell" mentality. That we as a whole will see it as a choice, and work toward helping our children cultivate lots of different tools to deal with change, grief, pain and loss.

I appreciate my dad, and all that he has taught me, including this.