Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rabbit's Monkey Apron

I had hoped to complete this during last week's "Super Homemaking Week," but fell short by a few days. We just finished it this evening--me sewing, Rabbit standing by my elbow and cautioning me to "Watch yo fingahs..."

Pattern: Apron B from "Little Retro Aprons for Kids" by Cindy Taylor Oates
Fabric: Sock Monkey by Erin Michael #15071 (Moda), Red Gingham and some random piece of red with colored dots that I've had for forever, Canary Rick-Rack

I love little people in aprons. This is a size 4 (the smallest size in the book), so it's a teeny bit big, but she'll grow into it soon enough. I have enough Sock Monkey print leftover to do something big with...perhaps someday I'll don a sock monkey apron myself, very fun.

Rabbit LOVES her apron! The first thing she said when I was fitting it over her head was, "Huwway! Now I can help Mama make some pancakes!" She loves her pocket and is convinced that there is a "liddle spoon" somewhere in the kitchen that she can carry in the pocket and whip out in a baking emergency. Oh, to be two years old and the proud owner of a brand new sock monkey apron...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fun in Salt Lake City

It's our "Fourth of July School Break" this week and the girls wanted to start it out by going up to Salt Lake City to see the temple, ride the train (Trax), and play in the "water that comes out of the ground." We left as soon as they were dressed and fed so we could beat the heat, and they wriggled and giggled in their seats the entire trip up there.

I pointed out a group of missionaries to Bluebird and asked her if she'd like to shake their hands, and ZOOM, off she went over to them. The one missionary in front is actually righting himself after almost tripping over her because she accosted them so quickly.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekly Report: June 22-27, 2009

Well, there's no school to report on; but we have done well with Super Homemaking Week, finishing everything but two items, minus the one item that could not be done due to some advanced food decomposition. (And I'm 2/3 done with one of the two uncompleted tasks.)

One of my neighbors has decided to homeschool her children during this upcoming school year and she came over this week to discuss things. We're going to team up for history and science so our girls can have each other for company. I've agreed to forgo with the super early commencement of the next school year in order to allow her some more time to get her ducks in a row so we can be on the same page. (It will be OK; Bluebird has been expressing an interest in studying germs, so we'll learn about germs for a few weeks before beginning our planned studies.)

I am attempting to start a Daisy Girl Scout Troop for our homeschool group. I really hope it becomes a reality...the little girls already meet once a week for girls' club as it is, so it wouldn't be hard at all to turn a couple of those meetings into Daisy meetings.

This next week is a bonafide "School Break" in which we will attempt to have as much fun and excitement away from the house as possible. I don't know what we're doing yet; but the girls have expressed interest in going to the water park, going to Temple Square and having picnics. Definitely doable. Don't be sad when I don't post too terribly much throughout the next week.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nature Journal Entries from Outdoor Hour #3

Rabbit's depiction of the non-existent cat we supposedly saw on our hike.

Bluebird's enthusiastic representation of the dead fish we found by the river.

My scribbles. Drawing isn't necessarily something I've been able to focus a lot of attention on. :)

Original post of the hike.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Portabello Pixie "Claire" Peasant Top

Ignore the pants, it was an impromptu modelling session.

Pattern: Portabello Pixie "Claire" Peasant Top
Fabric: Dots--from the "Smores" collection by Me and My Sister Designs for Moda, Gingham--from my stash, more than likely bought at JoAnn's some years ago.

This cute little top was pretty easy to make and a great way to break in my serger. Bluebird thinks it's so funny that we made her a shirt from the scraps from her apron...I hope she doesn't get it into her head to wear the two at the same time.

Shirring with elastic thread is fun stuff. Just be sure that you wind the bobbin without stretching the elastic at all--there's a part where the elastic was stretched a teensy bit when I wound it and there's a part where I was careful to keep it loose, and the loosely-wound stitching does look better. I don't know what makes it look better, but it does look better.

I really want to make the dress that comes with this pattern, and Bluebird wants me to purchase the pants pattern so that she can have something to match her shirt. (Personally, I think it would be a little too much pink gingham on one little person.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Creationism vs. Evolutionism, Part Two

Many of you have read my original post regarding sifting through homeschool science curriculum and how irritating it was that anything deemed "Christian" was synonymous to "Evolution is evil and the only way to look at anything is in accordance to a literal translation of the Bible."

I did go ahead and order God's Design for Science and I received the student textbook today, which necessitated a sit-down during rest time to flip through its pages. It's a very nice looking text with color graphics and the projects and experiments look interesting.

But this textbook is completely full of the "evolution is evil and downright stupid" agenda. However, it is done in a calm and factual manner; which is substantially more than I can say for some of the other rabidly religious creationist texts out there. I am thankful for the "believability" of their anti-evolution arguments.

I am starting to get frustrated. And it's not the creationism vs. evolution rhetoric that's bothering me...it's ME that's bothering me. Simply stated, I have NO CLUE what I truly believe about the dilemma.

Anything I read that says "creationist" makes my mind come up with the "evidence" I learned to support evolution; and anything I read that says "evolution" brings to mind all the stuff I believe about creationism. It's like I'm a walking dichotomy of thought. Every. Day.

The situation has enlarged my view of how impressionable a young person is to what they're taught in school and what they hear around them during their formative years. I heard both arguments and I now seemingly adhere to both arguments.

I knew that I'd learn a lot of stuff myself as I homeschooled my children, but I didn't think I'd run into such heavy topics so quickly. I feel like I shouldn't teach this topic because I don't even know where I stand on it...and then I think it's perfect to show them that it's OK to not have all the answers sometimes.

We have scripture and I believe the scriptures to be true. I've studied a lot about the scriptures, how we have come to have the scriptures we have nowadays (ie. translations) and I just do not take the scriptures at literal face-value. Christ taught in parables and I think there's a lot of symbolism in the scriptures. I don't like being labelled as having less faith simply because I cannot completely throw my weight behind the idea that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

Is it that terribly important to completely understand the minutia of creation? At the judgment bar, will God be upset that I didn't strive to more fully understand it in mortal terms? Or is this an important issue that I should research and come to a somewhat concrete opinion about? God exists, period. Is it crucial to hammer out each detail concerning everything on Earth, or is it really just another spin-off of the age-old argument about whose interpretation of religion is the best or the most right? Is God up there right now, looking down on all this effort to prove creation or evolution and muttering to Himself, "SO missing the big picture..."?

I've remarked for years now that I'm going to supply my children with both sides of the story in any subject and let them make up their minds, letting them know along the way what I believe and why. I really think it's the best way to teach...and also makes me feel my responsibility to bring them up in light and truth all the more keenly.

Perhaps I should just scrap the whole curriculum altogether and just focus on supplying their minds with information and appreciation, waiting until their logic-stage years to introduce the idea of evolution. Perhaps this argument is creeping up too early in our homeschool adventure.

But, on the other hand, I don't want to run the risk of ignoring it and having them exposed to pro-evolution and creating a bias in them. (And really, in a time where people are allowing homosexuality to be taught as a viable option to elementary-aged children, chances are that they will be exposed to the evolution question sooner than later. Childhood is no longer respected as a haven of innocence.)

I just want to do the best job that I can. I think this matter is something that I will have to take up with God in prayer. I don't think I'll come to a content consensus on my own.

Being a parent is hard sometimes...there are so many decisions to be made that may not matter all that much or may matter very much. Occasionally, it's hard to differentiate between the two.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Making Blueberry Jam

OR "A Masochistic Way to Spend a Beautiful Summer Morning"

Homemade Blueberry Jam is one of my most favorite things in the world. I actually look forward to the summertime and to berries ripening throughout the land so I can replenish my blueberry jam hoards. Rabbit and I had fun this morning making jam together:

She's my go-to girl whenever something needs "smashing" in this house, so it was only natural that she help me out with crushing the blueberries.

Now, to the uninitiated, I must warn that making jam can be rather painful because it spits like nothing else, which covers you with a smattering of burns. Cover any skin that you can, stir with a very long handled spoon and do not lean over your concoction while it cooks. (And shoo away any little ones from the kitchen!)

What things look like after you're done boiling it all down:

Yep, it's messy; you acquire a few burns and you'll definitely spend the entire processing time cleaning up the kitchen.

But it's worth it, because you end up with beautiful jars of gloriously tasty blueberry jam. It's practically ambrosia.

And, in the words of my granny, who includes an extra step at the end of all her recipes: "Yummy"

Homemaking Week Goals

I need to call it something other than "Homemaking Week" so I don't convey the idea that Homemaking is a periodic thing we do instead of a daily thing...perhaps "Project Week" or "Super Homemaking Week?" (Hmmm, I'm thinking the week needs a button...)

Anyhow, the goals for the week:
  • Make blueberry jam
  • Make strawberry jam (Berries molded before I got to them...perhaps another week)
  • Finish Bluebird's "Claire" shirt
  • Make Rabbit's Monkey apron
  • Mend Mr. Brooke's shirt that he tore last week
  • Clean the master bathtub (it's a hard thing to get to for some reason)
  • Organize the office

I could easily make this list about four times longer, but I'm going to keep it manageable so that I have a shot at actually completing everything.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weekly Report: June 15-20, 2009

I'm going to call this our last week of school for this school year.

Math: We finished Saxon K this week. Yes, I got a little teary-eyed over it. We spent some time looking through the next math book and Bluebird is very eager to begin working in it.

Phonics: Wrapping up with -y endings and dove into double consonant endings. It looks like we'll start with "sh" and "th" type stuff soon. That seems like some "real" reading there.

Violin: Geez this goes slow with someone as young as her. But she's coming along.

Space Race: 34 books. I think she's read more than that during rest time...but I can't count a book unless she's read it out loud to me. Perhaps if I ask her to tell me what the book was about? But I imagine she can tell me that just from the pictures, even if she reads some of the words incorrectly.

Reading Out Loud: I read a children's science book about turtles to them at some point during the week and I'm still amazed at how much I learned from it. Turtles are rather interesting creatures. I repeatedly say to Mr. Brooke, "Are you as concerned as I am that I'm learning so much from children's science books?"

Nature Study: Uh, no go again. I did scan their journal entries from our last one though...update coming.

With the girls' exuberant reception of their new science gear, the case has been made to start our next school year a little earlier than originally planned. It makes sense, but I'm going to take off the next two weeks to have a real "break" between the two years and tend to some non-school things that are begging for some attention.

This next week is going to be a "Homemaking Week" of sorts...we're going to can some jam, finish up some sewing projects and maybe do a little detailed cleaning here and there. I don't know what's going on for the week after that. We'll see how productive this next week turns out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In This House, Nerdiness is an Ambition

The packages are arriving at the door almost everyday, brimming with such wonders as textbooks, encyclopedias and...science equipment! We received our load of science paraphernalia yesterday and the girls were extraordinarily excited to try out their new goggles and lab gloves.

I don't use the word "extraordinarily" loosely--after posing for the picture in the dining room with their geek gear, they headed out to the backyard to show Daddy their awesome accessories.

Then, they ran over to our neighbor's house and knocked on her door so they could show her their new garb. (Little Lamb didn't have any super cool gloves, so we found her some hand puppets to suffice.)

And THEN, they were too excited to go back inside, so they decided to have a "Science Adventure."

I can only imagine what the neighbors thought.

I guess it's things like your children romping through the neighborhood wearing safety goggles and lab gloves that earns homeschoolers the stigma of being "weird." Well, then, peg us as weird...in this house, "nerd" is a compliment.

First Onions from the Garden

We needed a green onion garnish for our dinner last night, so we headed out to the garden to pick 'em fresh ourselves!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weekly Report: June 8-13, 2009

A fun, yet slightly under-productive, week.

Math: Just two lessons.

Phonics: Y endings, four letter words

Violin: I don't think we practiced at all, and she didn't go to her lesson/class because she didn't go to sleep until 11pm the night before and it's pointless to try to get her to concentrate if she's that short on sleep. I went to my lesson though, so a pat on the head for me. Bluebird has informed me that when she's done with her purple math book and starts her green math book that she will switch to learning the cello. I guess we'll see. The rule is that she can switch between school years, and we are technically in between school years at the moment.

Space Race: She read a few more books...I think she's up to 31 now.

Nature Study: That would be a no-go as well.

Life: We're working on getting our chores down. It's going well enough. Kids this young take longer to acclimate to new things. We got all our Saturday chores done yesterday, which is huge because none of us really like any of them.

I have got to stop letting "running errands" distract me from getting school done. It was super hard this week, partly because the weather was absolutely terrible (although it was interesting to see that amount and intensity of lightning).

Goals for this next week:
1. Finish ordering all supplies that is supposed to be ordered by now.
2. Keep remembering to do chores.
3. DO SCHOOL--no errands during school hours.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Two Year Old Makes Me Smile...

  • When she's pretending to be a penguin and answers everything with "Squawk."
  • When she watches me arrange flowers in a vase and then exclaims, "Now the flowers are HAPPY! They have a drink of water!"
  • When she asks the flowers how they're doing.
  • When she sings along to "Anything You Can Do," and keeps singing it after it's turned off. ("Yes I can, Yes I can, Yes I Caaaaaaaaan!")

Motivating a Reluctant Reader

I thought I'd share what we're doing to help motivate Bluebird to read more. We call it the "Space Race."

We created all the planets of the solar system from construction paper, cut a whole lot of black construction paper into four inch strips, laminated it in sections and then wrote the numbers on with a metallic Sharpie marker. We also found a clip-art astronaut to which I affixed a headshot of Bluebird. This is the "marker." Everytime she reads a book (out loud to me at this stage), we write it down in her reading log and then move Astronaut Bluebird along accordingly. When she reaches the Sun (100 books) she'll get a reward of her choosing. (She's going for a personalized lunch box on this read-through.)
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Part of the Reason Why He's Nice to Have Around

My friends from high school are having a carnival with uploading pictures to Facebook from our high school days, and I was looking at one of them this morning when the following conversation took place:

Mr. Brooke: "Wow, you're a lot taller than the rest of them."

Me: "I'm taller than everybody."

Mr. Brooke: "You're also the prettiest."

Me: "Well, seeing how that girl right there was a professional model at some point, I'm going to have to disagree with you on that one."

Mr. Brooke: "Hey, I've seen enough episodes of America's Next Top Model to know that prettiness isn't always a factor in choosing models."

Me: "Meh."

...a few seconds later...

Me: "I've got a really big head. It's HUGE compared to everyone else's!"

Mr. Brooke: "Yeah, but you're also incredibly smart...there's trade-offs to everything."

It's like having my own personal flattery factory everyday!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Invalid Argument

I finished getting the girls dressed this morning and instructed them to take their pajamas to the dirty clothes bucket in their bathroom. Bluebird dutifully obliged, but Rabbit collapsed to the ground and started rolling around and whining that she was "just too little" to take her jammies to the bucket.

While I reasoned with Rabbit, Little Lamb toddled over to the pile of pajamas, scooped them up and then carefully toddled over to the bathroom door. I stopped mid-sentence with Rabbit and asked Little Lamb if she was putting away the pajamas, and Bluebird sprang over to the bathroom door, opened it, and watched as Little Lamb resumed her toddling over to the bucket where she deposited the armful of pajamas.

Much rejoicing ensued, to the irritation of Rabbit. Too little indeed. Ha.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

UHEA Convention

This was my third time attending. I blew it off last year because I was tired of the same offering of workshops; and I intended to blow it off this year as well, but then they announced that Susan Wise Bauer was the keynote speaker. Click, click, click...purchased myself a ticket. Then Mr. Brooke expressed interest, so he came too.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mrs. Bauer's talks, as did mi esposo. I appreciated the other classes as well, but there was little to choose from that I hadn't already attended in years past. We ended up skipping a class to go eat a nice lunch at The Gateway, and I walked out of the last class of the day because I was just done with it all. (Good timing as it turned out--the babysitter phoned a few minutes later to inform me that Rabbit had just thrown up all over the kitchen.)

SWB has posted a entry on her blog about her visit to SLC. Sadly, I am not in the photo...she took two pictures of the room and I was in the other shot. :(

Mr. Brooke and I are mulling on the idea of volunteering to help out with the UHEA...if only to increase the available workshop options. Hee hee.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekly Report: June 1-6, 2009

*blissful sigh* Homeschool, sweet homeschool. What a great week.

It's good to take breaks because then when you get back to something you like doing, you like doing it even more. Such is the case with this week. I was motivated to work on stuff and Bluebird was so happy to be doing school that she finished her stuff in half the time it normally takes, so then we did lots of extra "fun" things.

Math: Eight more lessons to go and we will officially be finished with Saxon K. Bluebird wants to start right up Saxon 1 when that happens. Two more weeks, little one, you need to wait two more weeks. We learned to play dominoes, did some geoboarding and worked on "some, some more" story problems.

Phonics: I think it's genuinely starting to "click." She still guesses when she comes on a new word, but if I say to try again she'll instantly start sounding out the word instead of guessing fifty thousand more times. She's doing good with the four letter words and we learned about "y" endings.

Violin: She can name the strings and can pluck them correctly. She's also doing well with finger positioning and can play any note, as long as you call it "D1" or "A3" or anything along those lines. Her teacher told me to saw down her shoulder rest because it's just too high, which would explain why she just can't seem to hold the violin with her little chin.

Space Race: She's read 28 books now. Astronaut Bluebird is sitting on the rings of Saturn.

Nature Study: I love nature study! We went for a hike by the river this week. I need to upload our journal entries.

Life: We had our yearly "pick your chores" FHE this week and everyone picked out what chores they will be responsible for the next year. Both Bluebird and Rabbit have been doing really well. I was very surprised by what chores they picked, but they are keeping up with them (even when I originally thought they were too young to do them).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Outdoor Hour Challenge #3: Now is the Time to Draw

We decided to explore the trail by the river this week.

The highlight of the trek was us finding this dead fish on the shore.

Bluebird's nature journal entry was her representation of it.

I'm supposed to post the entries we made in our nature journals, but my scanner is having a bit of a hissy fit and I can't seem to locate my camera, so an update will follow. Rabbit "drew" a kitty. (We saw no cats on our hike.) I gave a shot at drawing the river...meh. But we did indeed document our excursion. And someday you'll get to see it. :)