Thursday, January 30, 2014


In my What I Hope to Know... in 2014 post, I included a personal goal of learning to knit. This month I have, at the encouragement of my daughter (as she wanted to learn as well), pulled out knitting needles and YouTube and set forth on a new hobby!

Many "knits" and "purls" later, I have a few projects completed that I thought would be fun to share.

My first scarf! I did a stitch called the "Triple Wave."

Some "wristies" for my L. I did a basic garter stitch.

An ipod touch case. This one took some thinking-through! I did a ribbed stitch for this one.

It's been really fun... and quite addicting. I haven't blogged as much (obviously) nor read as many books since I began this new hobby. I'm working on another scarf now and have found a few projects on Ravelry that are on my "to-do" list now.

My L even completed a project of her own. Aside from an on-going work in progress knitting a shawl, she recently completed a bunny. It started as a square piece, and then was strategically sewed together.

L's bunny. She knitted a garter stitch 8x8" square then sewed into form.

Do you knit or crochet? Are you on Ravelry? If so, leave your username in the comments and we can connect.
Are there any hobbies that you have picked up in this new year?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

just to catch yall up

I'm afraid I have been a little MIA on the blog lately. Nevertheless, carries on.

A week ago Monday, for the MLK holiday we took off school for a nice long weekend with daddy home. Then, our family weekend continued into Tuesday (21st), as we field tripped to our area's first settlement... one with Moravian roots that was founded in an area formerly known as Salem, now called the combined-city name of Winston Salem. I will blog more about that later, after I have had time to edit a few photos to include within my post (as opposed to quick cell phone shots, like I typically include).

At the start of this past weekend, my L woke with a sore throat and achy body. Thankfully, no fever and three days later, the sore throat has progressed into a typical head cold with sneezing and runny nose. So, we basically took a sick day off on Monday (sticking just to a read aloud and a video-based writing lesson) then a reduced-load day yesterday (math review/test and some history-reading and bible). Today my intention was to go back full force, especially when she woke up feeling mostly back to normal. However, we had this little thing called snow come in last evening... and, well, it's our first of the season. We have been on the outskirts of all the other storms on the east coast. So, despite my planning, I think we will just call today a snow day, like the public schools in our area.

They are outside again right now, making the most of the little snow that's left on the grass, sledding and trying to build a snowman (well, snow baby at this rate). The sun has melted most off of the grass, although the road is still slick and white!

And just to keep it really "real," here is the thing I can't stand about snow...
This is what my kitchen looked like when they came in for a hot chocolate/lunch break:

Wet, wet, wet! :)
Ah, well, enjoy it while we can, right? Right!
I did enjoy the snow as it was falling. Nothing quite like curling up with a cup of hot coffee and watching the snow come down. It's peaceful in a way. I like that.

Did your area get hit with snow? What's your favorite thing (or least fave) about snow?

Monday, January 13, 2014

5th grade art: what's it look like?

I was in conversation with a friend the other day about what we do for art in our school. 
"Oh, we cover a variety of mediums," I said, smiling to myself. Let's see... there's duct tape... cardboard boxes... playdough... yarn... beads... push pins (see above)... I happen to have a daughter that seeks out her own art experiences!

Our most current undertaking is knitting with needles. [For those that are wondering, we found a great YouTube series on the basics here.] Even prior to our loom knitting projects, L has desired to learn to knit. I have several sets of needles, passed down from my grandmother, who actually taught me to knit back when I was about L's age. My grandmother (dad's side) and my aunt were/are very talented with craft-needles. Whether sewing, knitting, or cross stitching they always had several projects going and always were eager to pull me into their "world." I soaked up the attention and teaching and remember always leaving their house with a partially-completed cross stitch or a quarter of a scarf knitted. I will not divulge as to whether those projects got finished at home or not... ;) Regardless, I will treasure those memories I have of my grandmother and the time spent with her and my aunt doing those things and shopping for the supplies.

Now for all you art majors out there cringing at me calling this "art" I know that one day it will behoove us to dig into some official art history and study the "greats." Don't worry, we will get there. In fact, two summers ago L took a week-long art summer camp that focused on a few artists and their techniques. That brought up a few neat ideas that inspired some creativity based on those techniques.

L also has an aunt that is artistically talented and draws professionally. She keeps L supplied with different mediums to experiment with and I hope to get the two of them together for a long weekend in-depth study of a particular medium (shameless nudge, sister in law?).

We do have a variety of art books for reference as well. I have found L flipping through some of the technique books often. We have also accessed several drawing/art courses via iTunes U, The Elements of Drawing being one of them.

All in all, I am comfortable with the low-key way we have pulled art into our schooling for my elementary student. What are some ways you incorporate art into your homeschool? Or just into your crafty-kids' lives in general?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

my new "toy"

Typically it's the children that get a new toy for Christmas. Well, in our case, this year I got one too :)  Well, more specifically I got a gift card earmarked for this "toy." After doing some research and chatting with friends that had one, I settled on a model and placed the order for a dehydrator.

Within a week, it came in and I was scrounging through my refrigerator looking for what fresh fruit I might have on hand: two lonely little apples. Apples, it was! I sliced up the apples and filled two of the five trays, placing them in the dehydrator. Six hours later, we had ourselves a nutritious snack! Haha, the only thing is, at 11:15pm, I was the only one testing them out, as I had just come home to a quiet (sleeping) house after being out that night with some girl friends.

The next day I went to the store and picked up some bananas and applesauce to try a few more things. I'll have to let you know how those turn out. The machine is humming along, dehydrating now.

My goal is to also make jerky, and then even eventually dehydrate meals (soup, lasagna, rice dishes?) for camping later this year.

What are some of your favorite things to dehydrate?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

a shepherd boy

Kicked off the new year, back in Little Hands to Heaven, on week 13. We talked about David... David the shepherd for this lesson. It amazes me how God will use the little things to prepare us for the big things. I mean David will soon be given the opportunity to use these skills of defending his sheep to defend his people. Talk about a giant leap. His ability to lead a flock of sheep will soon transition into his leading of a country. It just makes me wonder what God may be cultivating within me to use in some later part of my story.

For our preschool lesson, I went ahead and read the story of the Good Shepherd from The Jesus Storybook Bible to learn a little more about David, as both a shepherd and a song writer. Later found this YouTube video so we watched/listened to the story again during lunch.

His stuffed animals became "sheep" for some pretend-play time. At first I pretended to be a wolf trying to come eat his sheep. He swung around his slingshot and pretended to defend his flock. (Ok, ok, who am I kidding... my son wanted nothing to do with a pretend slingshot and instead got out a toy that he pretended to be a gun and shot at me, the wolf!)
Then he became the wolf. What a sneaky little wolf he turned out to be. He almost got a few of my sheep while I was still figuring out how to use my pretend slingshot. ;)

As another pretend play, I hid the sheep around the living room, while he stayed out of sight. Like a good shepherd, he went around to search and round up his missing "sheep," until they were all corralled in the blanket corral.

I casually mentioned how God is like a shepherd with us as His sheep. Sometimes we wander away by making bad choices and sinning, but God doesn't stop loving us. He desires reconciliation and seeks us out just like we went searching for the lost sheep. Z isn't quite up to speed on the metaphor thing yet. Didn't see how we could be sheep, with God as our shepherd :) "Sheep?! We aren't sheep, Mooo-om!"

I didn't have any cotton balls in the house to make the craft the curriculum called for, so I went scrounging for another idea. I found the parts to this craft on Pinterest - here and here. I substituted a muffin tin liner as the body of our sheep. Z added the white eyes so they could follow their shepherd!

I also had a few pages of Little Monkey Printables 'Woodland Friends' set printed out, so we switched out the wording of this page and had the shepherd David (drawn in on the far right) counting his sheep. We rolled a dice and added the first two numbers rolled (5 + 1). When we got our sum, we then drew in that number of sheep, grazing in the "pasture."

I really appreciate how this curriculum doesn't just focus on the "big stories" of the Bible. We will study David... as a shepherd... as one who loves God... then his defeat of Goliath... his friendship with Jonathan... becoming a King, etc. I appreciate that even my four year old can see more to each character's story than the highlight of his career. I think when you do that you can see more of God at work than just how seemingly "great" the person is (which is not the case at all!)

Monday, January 6, 2014

a look ahead

Dreaming... Not the fall asleep, happens when you are snoozing kind, but dreaming, like a vision for the future. I'll be honest. I stink at dreaming. I'm a "see it like it is" kinda girl. I mean, for the most part, the glass is always half full, however honestly I usually just see it more realistically: I've drank half, and have half to go. I don't think that's necessarily the best viewpoint for every situation, but it's the way I tend to "see" things naturally.

All that to say, I do think it's good to have goals, a dream of sorts, when it comes to schooling. Since I posted what I wish I knew in 2013, I figured I should follow up with what I hope to know in 2014.

I hope to know:
  • How to have a well-organized day that includes regular school time, a spiritual/devotion time, as well as a daily exercise time. 
[This school year we've found a schedule that works for us. We've settled in and found our groove for our academic work. Our quiet/devotion time can get a little scattered so I'd like to see that consistent: all L, Z, and I having a quiet time independently, but at the same time. Z is not too young to be looking at his Bible books during this time with us, even though he's not technically reading yet. Also, we have got to add a daily physical education/exercise part to our schedule. Teacher-mom needs it as well as the students!]

  • How to juggle the homeschool and parenting roles, take care of my home, be a respectful wife, and a woman "after God's own heart." 
[Some days it's overwhelming. I just want to send the kids to school and have a quiet moment to myself. Many days I get lazy and don't work on my relationship with my Savior. I don't turn to Him in worship. Most days, I don't want to think of my husband before myself. Self self self. That's the common theme throughout those "don't wants." Well, this year my desire is to be selflessly proactive in all those relationships: God, husband, children.]

I hope to see:
  • My children establishing and/or growing in a relationship with Christ. 
  • My children learning and stretching relationally/socially as well as academically.
  • My children learning how to problem solve. Questioning, but striving to find answers, versus taking the easy, lazy way out. 
  • My whole family adopting an attitude/a habit of looking outside of ourselves, our situation, our finances. The world is so much bigger than us.
  • My whole family working together on our finances/stewardship, our relationships with each other, and keeping up the home as a team.
  • Myself learn to knit with needles vs a loom.
  • Myself reading non fiction as well as fiction books.

My dreams, my goals, seem pretty standard, but it's amazing how out of reach they sometime feel! Anything from my list that you are hoping to work on in your school or personal life this year? 

Friday, January 3, 2014

a look-back

What I wish I knew in 2013, the Covington Academy version:
  • It's ok to switch curriculum, even mid-year. 
[We changed out just about every subject at the start of the new school year, however I should've switched them earlier, as it's brought about so many more positives in school this school year.]
  • Sometimes the schedule needs to be thrown out the window and that's ok
[When a friend calls with a rare opportunity to get together or you don't have key ingredient for dinner that night, it's ok to run errands in the morning or meet up with that friend. You can make up the school work at the end of the day! Learning occurs 24-7. We did throw off the confines of the schedule this past year, but not without the "worries" that went along with it - "Are we behind now? What if I can't make up that lost work this evening, or even this week!?" "It's five o'clock and we're still doing school. Worst teacher ever."]
  • Sunshine-days totally count as a reason for a "sanity" day off, if it's needed.
[After a week of rain or several days of cold weather, extended time to play outside on an unseasonable sunny, warm day is a must! We took a couple of these such days this fall/winter. I quickly learned what a difference it makes the next day. We are all refreshed and better focused. And, of course we also had several days when we just moved some schoolwork outside to the hammock. Win-win!]
  • Intentionally-teaching a preschooler will throw a wrench in things. 
[A fifth grader will want to do the preschool craft project and won't stay on task with her own work. Factor that into the schedule.]
  • I will continually weigh out if homeschooling is the best thing for my kid(s). 
[It's not just a once-a-year or once-a-child decision. Doubt will creep in, but then usually the Lord is so gracious to remind me that, for right now, it is the best.]
  • Homeschooling your children, like mothering, is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I will ever do. 
[What a privilege and a blessing. Even on the hard days, don't forget!]

What did you learn (either in homeschooling or personal life) this year? Anything that would've made the year a little easier to get through without having to learn the trial-and-error way?