Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What Socks?

So much for finishing those orange socks last week. I set the second sock aside at the heel turn for something more glamorous. I cast on for the new Stephen West mystery shawl. I am almost done with the second clue. I really like how the shawl is progressing. I am eager to see what happens with clue 3. I know Stephen likes texture and the unexpected, so it should be interesting.

Since the Yarn Along includes reading, I should be honest there too. We finished our read aloud, When You Reach Me, for the kiddos' book club. We really enjoyed it and will meet later this week to discuss it with our friends. Yesterday a friend loaned me All the Light We Cannot See, which I am eager to start. She really enjoyed the book, and it has been recommended by quite a few people online. First, I "should" finish the other books I have started. Or perhaps like my knitting, I may be pulled away from what is in front of me for something a bit more alluring.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Al Fresco

With our usual Tuesday night activities cancelled in recognition of Veterans' Day, a friend suggested a trip to the movies. The drive-in movies to be exact. After a full day of playing with their cousins, the kiddos piled into the car for their first movie al fresco. Dave and I cleaned out the back area, removing the third row seating, and threw in some blankets and pillows. The drive over went quickly, but waiting in the line to pay was arduous. Our friends were in the line beside us, inching just as slowly ahead. We could see the screens and soon figured out which was ours. The kiddos maneuvered in their seats to see the screen, complaining if our shift in line changed their view. Dave scanned the radio stations and found the right one. They were amazed that we could hear the words to the movie IN THE CAR! Finally we paid and pulled up alongside a few of our friends. Chairs were pulled out, popcorn shared, and interior lights dimmed. We all settled in for the movie. The kiddos loved it, occasionally hopping from one vehicle to the next. As the credits rolled, everyone agreed that we must go again. We made plans to see a double feature next time. For now, this one was just enough.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Making Hay

As a kid growing up, my dad would talk about making hay. If you happened to sleep in and find him outside on a weekend morning, he would reply that while you were sleeping, he had been busy making hay. Lately I have been busy in the garden making a whole lot of hay...

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Firsts...and Lasts

Benton lost his first tooth on Tuesday. It has been wiggly for weeks. I think he was a bit nervous about the whole process. He stopped brushing his teeth for a few days, because he was afraid he would hurt his tooth. We quickly set his worries aside. His big sister pulled two of her teeth one day last weekend, and his resolve was bolstered. While playing at the park, it just "fell out" of his mouth. He was ecstatic. The tooth fairy visited on time for this tooth, which only increased his excitement (our tooth fairy has been known to be super busy and overlook our family's teeth). It is a bittersweet loss, this one. He is my youngest baby, and although this is his first lost tooth, I know it is another first that is my last.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Little Knitting

Bond Street 
Halloweeny Socks
I didn't knit much this summer. I just didn't feel like picking up the needles. Initially I wasn't sure what to make. Then I realized my list of knit-worthy gift recipients is shrinking, and I have enough wool sweaters and socks for my climate. I just lost my mojo. One night I was traipsing through the inter-webs and arrived at ravelry. Inspired I decided to cast on a new project. A few weeks later and my knitting resolve has returned. I finished up the Bond Street Shawl and quickly cast on for a pair of autumnal socks. I finished the first sock in four days. The second is taking a bit longer, but it soon will be off the needles. My list of "want to knit" is quickly growing. First, since I cannot resist a mystery knit along, I am again playing along with Stephen West and his mystery shawl. After that I am not sure. I have a few shawls queued, a stocking to finish, and I think we just may need new hats.

And since I haven't played in a bit with Ginny and her Yarn Along, I may as well include my reading. My reading has been eclectic. I finished Anatomy of a Misfit. It was part of a group read here in Arizona. I found it a bit lacking even taking into account the YA label. I have a pile of books to read next. I started The Sea as well as March. I am not usually one to read multiple books at once, but I didn't have my current read while out and had to substitute. The kiddos and I are also reading When You Reach Me together. It is for our boo group. We only have about 40 more pages to go. They really like how it references A Wrinkle in Time. I am curious to see how it ends.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Filling our Bowls

My sister in law reminded me of this month's Empty Bowls event at one of our local community colleges. Our family tries to attend each year, but somehow I had missed the announcement! We made plans to meet and have a lunch of soup together. Each of the kiddos quickly picked out a bowl for their lunch. They chatted with their cousins about their choices and other hot topics of the day. It took me a bit of time to find the perfect bowl. I picked up and walked around the tables with quite a few different options. My brother offered his sage advice to go with function over form. I think I was able to find one that combined both quite beautifully.

On the way home, Eamon and Benton agreed that they couldn't wait to have cereal in their new bowls. We don't often have cereal in our home, but both of them love it. I decided to offer a variation on breakfast for dinner. We were going to have cereal for dinner, AND they could pick whatever cereal they wanted from the store. I wasn't going to check for food dyes, hydrogenated oils, non-GMO grains, or high fructose corn syrup. We were going to shop at Target not the health food store. They were ecstatic. They loaded our cart with Trix, Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch; I grabbed Rice Chex (can't get too out of control!). We waited until dinner time for the craziness to begin. Each of them poured their bowls of cereal and milk (except for Aine who doesn't like milk). Eamon ate several bowls before his belly started to hurt. Benton combined cereals and proclaimed it the best ever. Aine ate all the marshmallows out of her bowl. It was fantastic. They had so much fun. We have decided to make it an annual event. So now we have new bowls and a new tradition-empty bowls followed by crazily filled bowls.

Monday, November 03, 2014


I had an idea over the summer and chatted about it to a few friends. It was an idea I kept revisiting. I wanted to have a co op for my kiddos that met regularly. I wanted a place where we, adults and children alike,  could share our talents and explore topics together. I wanted it to be interest led with some structure. I wanted buy-in from other parents and shared responsibility and enthusiasm. I wanted multi-age. I wanted the ability to cater to my older kiddos, while not ignoring my youngest. I knew what I wanted; I just wasn't sure how to achieve it.

This fall I put my plan into action. I spoke with our local library about a shared use space within the facility. It was perfect, and they agreed to host our co op. We would keep it open to all children who came to explore and learn. With the help of a few other parents, our first few meetings were full of discovery and a few challenges. We learned what worked and how everyone needed to participate for full success. Eventually other parents took the lead and facilitated sessions. We have covered a variety of topics including geocaching, maps, language, and codexes. The older kiddos have begun working on a special project; a civilization complete with back story, clans, rituals, and culture. Everyone was coming together.

This past week our co op took on a major project. I suggested we make sugar skulls to coincide with the Mexican celebration, Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead. One of the parents took on the huge task of making sugar skulls for the group. She and her children molded, scooped, and transported those skulls as well as a rainbow of royal icing. All of the children were attentive as she spoke of the traditions and symbolism surrounding the celebration. We talked about the ofrendas, marigolds, calaveras, and pan de muerto. We looked at picture books depicting and explaining the celebration. The kiddos all received a skull to decorate. Armed with icing, feathers, sequins, gems, and foil for the eyes, they set to work. Each creation was unique. Eruptions of icing occurred a couple times, but were quickly resolved with parental help. While the decorating occurred two of the parents painted the children's faces. The painting was symbolic of both life and death. Other children colored paper calaveras.

When most of the skulls were complete, I led the kiddos downstairs to a public display of ofrendas on the lower level of the library. We looked at the altars submitted by members of the community. We talked about the special ways in which the dead are honored. The kiddos asked all kinds of amazing questions.

It is such an amazing opportunity to share these learning moments with our friends. We are learning together and sharing our knowledge. It is truly what homeschooling is for our family, and we love it.

Sunday, November 02, 2014


We have always lived in good neighborhoods. I have found that if you want to live in a good neighborhood, you need to get out and know the people on your street and in your community. We currently live in a great neighborhood. This weekend our neighborhood shut down one of the residential streets for a Chalk the Block celebration. Children and adults took to the street. They decorated the block with children's names, animals, palm trees, butterflies, fairies and doodles. The adults took breaks from drawing to chat and mingle. Different neighbors donated food and beverages to complete the event. The weather was perfect and many lingered to talk a bit more with new faces and those they have known a long time.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Hitting the Streets

Halloween was full of festivities and fun this year. We had our annual park day celebration earlier in the week complete with donuts on string. If you have never watched someone try to eat food from a string as it swings through the air, you really should. It was hilarious. The kiddos all tried so hard and worked for a long time on their donuts. Their techniques were so varied and ingenious. After the food frenzy, a few made owl pinecones, while others just ran around with friends. One of Eamon's friends took the top picture as they roamed the park. His mom found it on her camera along with photos of a whole host of random things. I think it came out so well.

Friday morning the kiddos woke up and immediately set to carve their pumpkins. Although we would love to carve them earlier, we have learned that with our heat, the pumpkins will rot before Halloween. This year each of the kiddos did their own carving. First they drew the design they wanted. I cut the tops for seed removal. Once the pumpkins were cleaned, each carved his own shapes even Benton.

Friday night we had friends join us for a potluck before hitting the streets to trick or treat. My youngest brother and his family joined us as well. The kiddos thought it was fantastic to have their cousins and friends with them. For costumes we hit the thrift shop a few weeks ago. Each had a definite idea about what they wanted to be. Eamon initially thought the headless horseman would be fantastic. His costume mock-up included a real carved pumpkin on his head. While shopping, he decided the logistics of a pumpkin on his head were flawed. It would be hot, smelly and heavy. His plan shifted to a steampunk character when he discovered a top hat. Aine knew all along that she wanted to be a cowgirl. After assembling her costume, we decided she was more of the strong arm of the law. Benton was a puppy until he chatted with his friend. When he discovered that she was going to be a ninja, he changed his mind.

The kiddos braved the neighborhood haunted house and trick or treated at most of the homes. We ended our walk at one of our friend's home enjoying popcorn and chili with one of their neighbors. We walked home with the cousins and discovered our candy bowl was not empty. The kiddos quickly divided what was left. It was a really nice night.