Thursday, January 21, 2010

7 Quick Takes

Go visit Jen for more Quick Takes.



So, I'm stressed. Key indicators? I'm up way too late again, there's been a lot of Dr. Pepper drinking, and I've been knitting for about a week straight. Knitting keeps my mind busy enough to keep it off of other things going on, but not so busy that I can't find wayward puzzle pieces, read the same book again and again for Ezra (Brown Bear, Brown Bear), and listen to audio books.


I have a LOT of time to myself right now since Superman's semester began. I finished the Dr. Horrible wristers that I cast on on Tuesday night and it's the fastest I've ever finished a knitting project. Part of it has to do with all my free time in the evenings, but I've also noticed a big increase in my speed. I almost feel like I could call myself an intermediate beginner instead of a "totally don't know what I'm doing" beginner.

I'll post them after they're blocked. Saturday is swiftly coming to be  known as "blocking day".



I spent last weekend going through little boy clothes and swapping Ezra's 2Ts for 3Ts. I really should have done it about 3 months ago, but I can't bear that my barely 2 year old is already this tall and looking more and more like a preschooler and less and less like a toddler. How does it happen so quickly?

Also on the Toss 15 project list over the last week was the linen closet and the bathroom cabinets. Yet again I'm amazed at how much stuff manages to hide in such small spaces.



I'm putting a book list page up for Ender. I'm tired of trying to remember what that awesome seasonal book was that we read last spring/fall/winter and not being able to come up witha  title. My swiss-cheese brain is just not to be trusted. I know the list is a little scant right now, but it will fatten up after I put in the picture books we've been reading about winter and hibernation.



In our reading today we came across the word "paradise". I explained it to Ender as the best place you can imagine and he immediately said, "like a place where you can just ride your bike all day long and you don't have to stop for ANYTHING."

Exactly, honey.



A question for homeschooling moms- how do you decide exactly what to use or include each year for school? My precise situation is that I want to make sure we include some science for Kindergarten next year- how do you decide which specific topics to cover? I've looked at a few different scope and sequence for Kindergarten science and it seems like there isn't anything that is consistently listed. It's tempting to try to get it all in, but I don't think it's a good thing to do as much as possible at 5 years old.

My current thoughts- keep focusing on seasonal changes, talk about the solar system, melt ice cubes, measure stuff in different ways, and plan for weekly time outside to learn to observe. I'm thinking about using One Small Square: Backyard to help me know what to look for in different seasons. I am sooo not a science gal, so I need a little direction. Thoughts?



Tomorrow is the bridal shower for my last sister to get married. C is getting married in March and then promptly moving to New York. This feels a little like a last hurrah- it's going to be the sisters only, and there will be mud masks, pedicures and probably quite a bit of ice cream. C is getting married, 2 sisters are pregnant, and of course I have my boys . . . hello, adulthood.

Ender's Current Work

This has been an interesting month for Montessori work for us. For the first time in a very long time I haven't rotated any work in or out for Ender because he has been using every work every work period for almost three weeks. In a regular week we will start with work on Monday and usually by Thursday there is at least 1 or 2 baskets/trays I rotate out because he hasn't  used them all week. I usually rotate at least 2 more by the next Monday so that about every 2 weeks he has completely new work.

For the month of January the work on the shelves for my 4-year-old currently includes:


:: A tray with 1 die in a bowl and a half sheet of largely gridded paper that I made in MS Word. Ender rolls the die, figures out the number and writes the number in one of the grid boxes. This work meets his desire to be able to write numbers on his own (a frustration he met when he was measuring a lot of things over the Christmas break).


:: Moveable alphabet and cards with consonant pairs on them. -ch,  -sh, -th, -wh, -gh, -ng, -ph. Ender uses the moveable alphabet to form the pair and then says the new sound. We just added the last four pairs to this work after working for a few weeks on the first three.


:: A cutting basket. Ezra is learning to make little snips in paper with scissors so Ender asked for cutting work too. Ender's basket includes half sheets of paper marked with lines to practice moving the scissors forward has he cuts, precut strips that he can cut through with one snip and plain half sheets of paper that he can cut any way he likes. He usually starts with one of the more structured parts of the activity then switches to the plain paper part way through.


:: Using this cabinet for inspiration I've collected novelty erasers and small toys from the dollar store and the dollar spot at Target to use as counters. I've set the tray up in the same way with three bowls. The addition cards he uses only add up to 1-6 since he's just starting out with this work and he can choose any 2 counters to work the problem. In the coming weeks when he feels a little more comfortable writing his numbers I'll expand this work so that he wites the equation after representing it with the counters.

:: A tray with a white board, marker and eraser. I picked this board up inexpensively at Target awhile back. On one side it has the primary lines for writing letters and numbers and the other side is blank. Since Ender is still drawing many of his letters he uses the blank side most frequently. Recently, however, he has started to try to stay to a certain size when writing his name and he has been using the lined side for that.

:: Blank paper and markers to draw whatever he likes. There have been a LOT of dragons lately.

:: The Brain Quest Kindergarten book. I *know* it's totally not a Montessori thing, but it has a lot of letter and number tracing along with space to try each letter or number on his own. For a kid that feels the urge to utter the "I can't do it" phrase several times a day all the tracing work has been the perfect bit of confidence building for him. He's much more willing to try once he realizes he has traced that letter with a pencil before.

We work on these pages as he desires each day, so sometimes he does one page, sometimes as may as four if he's really wanting to write a lot that day. Our only rule is the same as other work- you must finish what you start.


:: As always we have two baskets of books on the bottom shelf. Right now our basket themes are Winter and Hibernation. We read from these in the morning and evening. Most are picture books, but a few are short non-fiction books. I order most of these from our awesome local library, but we do own a few. We try to add a few seasonal titles to our collection each year. Ender also checked out a few books about China inspired by dragons, so he also has a few of those titles on his shelves to look at whenever he'd like.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Super Simple Arm Warmers


There is nothing amazing or necessarily original here, but I needed something to keep me a little more on the warm side while I practice piano at night in my "cool" basement.

I specifically wanted something without the thumb hole since that little bit of bulk inhibits the piano playing, so I got to thinking about how nicely a leg warmer would work shortened up and thinned out . . . and after a few attempts to check sizing this is what I turned out.

Super Simple Arm Warmers

gauge: 6 st. and 7 rows to get an inch in stockinette

I used 4 size 6 DPN's and worsted weight yarn.

co 44, divide onto needles- 16, 12, 16 and join to work in the round.

K2P2 for 8 rows

K 10 rows

next row: K 15, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K 15 (42 stitches)

K 10 rows

next row: K 14, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K 14 (40 stitches)

K 10 rows

next row: K 13, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K 13 (38 stitches)

K 10 rows

next row: K 12, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K 12 (36 stitches)

K 10 rows

next row: K 11, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K 11 (34 stitches)

K 5 rows

K2P2 for 6 rows

BO in pattern loosely.

Next up, Dr. Horrible Wristers (ravelry link). I finished the first one last night- pictures to come!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

February Blues


I start thinking about February in December.


In our area we have a lot of ice storms in January and February and it's not unusual to be unable to get out of the driveway for several days at a time. We do go out to play if we can, but the boys are small enough that they don't last long in the cold. We end up with all kinds of pent up energy and no where to spend it- we can't even go to a store or something to walk it off!


Add to that the Mama blues February brings- not as much light, chilly mornings and evenings (the ones that make you want to sit cuddled up on the couch and not move from there all day long!), and the same-ness of each day- and it's not a pretty picture by February 1st.


I've been thinking about this for awhile now, to be prepared for this February with my boys one year older and more active. I think for us it comes down to shaking things up on the day-to-day activities and spending the quiet time dreaming ahead to March.


For us beating the February blues will include:


:: Pushing the furniture back and riding bikes and trikes in the living room.


:: Lots of food making- juice popsicles, homemade marshmallows, hot chocolate, homemade pizza and food of the "treat" variety.


:: Pajama days. Maybe more than a few. Probably in conjunction with fort building.


:: Guilt-free knitting time for Mama. There is a lot of calm built into each little stitch.


:: Refresh our morning music. We've been in the habit of turning music on as soon as we come downstairs each morning and leaving it on through lunch. Sometimes it's K-love, sometimes classical, sometimes individual artists (Steven Curtis Chapman is a favorite here). Lately our morning music has been mostly demo tracks for my work, but I'm thinking February is going to call for Vivaldi- Spring perhaps?


:: Spring-time sewing, just a little on the early side.


:: Dollar toys and activities. I pick up small things for the boys here and there as we do our usual shopping (I *heart* the dollar spot at Target!) and collect them in a basket in my closet for a little surprise once in awhile. I'm planning to bring out a few of these things when we hit that third or fourth day in a row stuck inside due to ice.


How do you beat the February blues?



Monday, January 18, 2010

My Father's Dragon

Ender and I read My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett last summer and enjoyed it quite a lot. When a friend told us there were 2 more books in the series they jumped into my next amazon order! We finished them last week and as we read the last words Ender sat there for a moment then said, "That's the last one?"

"Yes, son."

"Can we ask her (the author) to write some more?"

There has been an awful lot of dragon pretending around here, and the packing of backpacks "like Elmer does in the book, Mom!" Ezra is even in on the act as the "very baby baby dragon" (since Ender is the actual baby dragon, you know) and asks us all the time to ask him if he's "a nice dragon or a scary dragon" so he can roar appropriately.

That led to a dragon book search and on to reading Day of the Dragon-King by Mary Pope Osborne (which I happened to have picked up from a garage sale last summer!). I was informed this evening that it's a good book, but "not as good as the other dragon books."

Books about China also came up in the library searches and it turns out that Ender *loves* the DK book about China. This is our first time reading about a different country beyond the setting in a fiction book, and I'm a little surprised at how much interest Ender has shown. I really thought he'd only be interested in the little bits about Chinese New Year and the dragon lore,  but he keeps pulling that book out and asking about different spreads in the book.

I'm just along for the ride on this one . . .
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