Thursday, September 29, 2011


That's me now. I am 34 years old. Somehow, I have the feeling I should have "it" (whatever "it" is) a little more together by now...A goal for next year, perhaps?
A lovely birthday I had on Tuesday. My husband cooked my favorite breakfast - bacon, egg and cheese on a toasted everything bagel. Great way to start the day. School was followed by the mailman delivering what might be my favorite gift - a yarn ball winder! Out of the box it came, was run downstairs, set up in my work room and I quickly turn a few messy skeins of yarn into happy little yarn "cakes". It's difficult to articulate the feeling well, but there is just something about seeing those little "cakes" that just makes me happy.
In the evening my husband took me shopping at Christopher and Banks. For me it's a great store that straddles the divide between being too old and "full-figured" for Old Navy and too young for Chicos. Some things look a little too old for me, but most items are great, and their shirts are cut just right for the likes of me.
Shopping was followed by dinner at Neel's Kabob Factory in Bel Air. If you're not into Indian food, you probably won't enjoy this, but if you like to try something new, this might just be the ticket. The food was great (as was the price with our coupon)! We started off with falafel, which I'd never had before. They were quite tasty, though a little bland. They do provide tamarind and mint dipping sauces, which compliment nicely. Whenever I have Indian I usually go for a Chicken Biryani (chicken and rice dish) or a Chicken Rogan Josh (tomato-based, I think). I wanted to try something different this time, so I went for the Chicken Tikka Masala - delicious. Wonderfully creamy and flavorful and not too spicy (I ordered a 3 on their 1-10 scale). Complete with garlic naan, it was just right. They had a pretty varied menu, too - vegetarian options, halal meats, lamb dishes and even goat. I like new things, but I'm not yet brave enough for goat and I just don't care for lamb, so chicken is where I live.
Another thing I don't really care for is Indian sweets - I find them too sweet. Now they did have some cheesecake options, but I wasn't in the mood, so we wandered off to the new Wegman's around the corner from us to see what they had in their fresh bakery section. There was plenty of options, but for me there was really only one thing - the mini key lime pie. I think key lime pie is one of the best things going. Toby had a moon pie, I think - it looked a little weird, so I didn't pay too much attention, but I think he liked it.
So, that's my birthday, turning 34. Thanks to all who sent cards, gifts and well wishes - each has helped to make it a sweet day of celebration that God would give me not only that much time, but so many rich blessings into such a space of time. He is, indeed, so good to me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Multitude Mondays

In no particular order:
  • How the end of one season means the beginning of another
  • How an unexpected nap time for little ones can mean unexpected relaxation for me
  • Being able to pray for my children
  • Seeing their need for Jesus early!
  • Finishing my sweater
  • Sharing work space with my husband
  • Sitting in a cool breeze
  • Seeing the sunlight stream across my favorite quilt
  • Having the rower more accessible in my bedroom

My new favorite sweater

I am so excited to have finished this. It's been a while in the making, but it's finally done! Yay!
First, it was going to be the February Lady Pullover. I got up to the neckline and had to put it aside for a while. When I got back to it, the neck shaping just wasn't looking right. Ripped it out and redid it a few times. No good. I even took it to my favorite yarn shop and got their assistance, which was definitely helpful. In the end, though, I learned that I knit funny. It turns out that not only do I tend to knit in a style that means I have to modify instructions for lace knitting, but I think I've also been wrapping my yarn the wrong way. Non-knitters won't care, but I think you knitters out there will get how that's troublesome.
So, I gave up. Sad to say, but true. But, there is hope - now that I've figured out what I tend to do wrong, I will likely go back to this pattern - it's so pretty!

Now, this yarn has been a dream to work with, and I love the color, so I had to find a project worth the yarn, so I had a go with this. I am so pleased at how it's turned out!
I am also extremely pleased that I can honestly say that my sweater is a size medium - I can't remember the last time I wore anything up top that didn't have an "L" in it!
This sweater is a wonderful testimony to the mystery of blocking. I've not always done it before, but the more I do it, the more I am convinced of how helpful it is. "Blocking" (as I understand it) is simply the method of moistening the fibers and allowing them to relax. You can spray or soak, then pin the garment. It then goes from being kind of tight and a little stiff to being relaxed and soft. In this case, before blocking it was kind of snug, a little short in the sleeves and you couldn't really see the yoke detailing very well. Now, it's perfect. And I love it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Spelling Resource

So, since pretty much everyone is back in school, I figured now is a pretty good time to talk curriculum.
This year, for the first time, I am teaching spelling as it's own subject. That is to say, I'm not doing an all-in-one language arts program that tries to cover it, and I'm no longer hoping copywork will do the job for me. ( I know it does work for some, but not for us.)
I didn't want to spend money on something very comprehensive this year, so to the Internet I went, and came across K12. What a great site! They've got loads of resources for reading, comprehension and spelling, plus games and worksheets. Since I'm feeling the need for doing some catch-up, the girls are doing the second grade spelling list. The list is 16 words each week, and the method is:
Day 1 - Write each word 3 times.
Day 2 - Alphabetize the list.
Day 3 - Write 2 or 3 sentences with 2 or 3 spelling words per sentence.
Day 4 - Test.
Day 5 - Write any misspelled words 3 times each.
And that's it. It's been going well, too. The girls don't like writing the words out a lot, so they make an extra effort on the test. They like working together to alphabetize them, so that makes it fun.
Each week's list contains a couple easy words, for encouragement purposes, a large chunk or words that follow a similar pattern (ou- words or ol- words, for instance), and then a few challenges. A note of warning, though - there are some real toughies in there. Last week one of the words was "resources". I think that's pretty challenging for a second grader, which is partly why I don't feel too bad for treating it as meeting a remedial need. Having said that, it's probably a good one to use for the more gifted spellers out there.
This site has also has some great worksheets and drills for grammar and comprehension. I'm thinking about incorporating the comprehension worksheets, particularly since they go along with the weekly spelling lists for extra reinforcement.
Okay, homeschooling parents, what other spelling tools have you used to great success? What have you wasted time and money on?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Multitude Mondays

Sometimes, things don't quite go to plan. Sometimes, I stay up late and get up early. The kids bicker, chores are ignored and I miss the garbage men. Sometimes, I need to say "thank you" for the simple things:
  • amazing stories of international adoption
  • sweet and sour meatballs
  • tortilla chips
  • another birthday
  • yummy cupcakes
  • a marvellous babysitter
  • movie night with my husband
  • bacon
  • getting a little nervous around the praying mantis visiting the deck
  • knowing that He is good, in all things - great and small

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Stripes

 This time I used KnitPicks Swish instead of the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. Yarn was almost as nice and half the price. I couldn't pass up such a deal, and it was really nice to work with.
It would seem I have a thing about wooden buttons, too. I can live with that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vacation Options

Last year, we were looking to go on vacation, but didn't know the best way to go about it. A hotel would be too expensive and we didn't want to camp with Dan being so little (about 6 months old). Friends told us about this website called HomeAway, where you can rent anything from a little studio apartment to a large multi-family chalet. We tried this place in West Virginia and had a great time. Great little house, a little off the beaten path, which was fine with us. We were able to pay for the rental by paypal and the owners were very helpful both before and after our stay.
So, having had such a good experience the first time, we went through HomeAway again for this year's vacation. This year,we stayed here. The funny part was realizing that the owners live in Newcastle. As it happens, Scousers have great taste in holiday homes, because this was another great place - plenty big enough for us and having everything we needed. Unfortunately, we had to leave early due to Eleanor coming down with some sort of tummy bug - we didn't want to risk the rest of us getting it and having to cope with an 8-hour drive at the same time!
The HomeAway website is very well set up. Plug in some of the features you'd like (bed, bath, etc), the area you'd like to go to, and the price you'd like to spend - then you can start shopping! It's got reviews, which are very helpful, mapped locations, and all sorts of other helpful details that can help you make your choice. 
I think 2 years of good experiences warrants a recommendation, so if you're looking for holiday options, HomeAway is worth a look.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Multitude Mondays

Our much-looked-forward-to vacation wasn't quite to plan - it rained, pretty much everyday. By Wednesday, Eleanor was throwing up. We were then concerned with a stomach bug making its way through the family while we were 8+ hours from home. And yet we had...
  • a lovely, large vacation home in a beautiful area
  • several evenings of log fires
  • kids who were happy to walk in the rain
  • plenty of premade dinners that made dinnertime easy
  • great audio books like The Penderwicks and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to make the journey fun
  • long evening readings of The Hobbit
  • the trip home being more than 2 hours shorter than the trip out - those potty breaks add up!
  • though Ellie was being sick and Dan came down with a fever, no one threw up in the car or a public place (big thanks for that one!)
  • no one else got sick
  • the continued vacation at home has been comfortable and relaxing
And now we are home, refreshed, healthy and ready for activity that daily life brings!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Radio Silence

Any minute the kids will wake, dress and eat breakfast. Then it's into the car (via a trip to the loo) for a week in the Adirondacks. We're so excited! So, I'll see you next week. If I forgot to do/send/tell you anything - I'll catch up with you then!

Friday, September 2, 2011


 Inspired by a trip to the Harford County Fair a couple months ago, I made a quilt.

Using left over scraps, I sewed three layers of raw edges, backed with baby fleece, criss-crossed it together and bound with some polka-dot cotton. I really like the way all the colors came together. Girly, but not frouffy.
It was an experiment and has it's share of mistakes, but I'm happy with the result. More than likely, it will be making it's way to some little girl at Birthright Pregnancy Center. Hopefully, it'll meet a need for a new mama and her girl.

Let me show you, child...

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger...
James 1:19
I have long read this verse, reread it, meditated on it, prayed over it and sought to make it a part of me. It's so good, so simple, so practical.
And So. Very. Hard.
I don't listen well - I do that think where I try to be quiet long enough for someone to finish (sometimes), all the while planning what I'll say while I'm waiting to make my point. I'm not slow to speak - I'm impulsive, blurting things out. It would seem the my mouth is large enough to accommodate my foot. Slow to anger...are you kidding? I often feel like it's one of my defining characteristics.
So, how?? How do I do these things? I want God to change me, to fix this part of my nature and take it from me. As yet, not so much, but He did show me this:

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger
Proverbs 15:1

I've always read this and thought it's a tool of peacemaking and handling conflict. It is that, but I think that more immediately, it's a means of responding to my own conflict and bringing peace to my own soul. When I am mindful of the need to speak a "soft word" every time I open my mouth, I am slower to respond in anger. Likewise, my own harsh words or tones stir up irritability and anger within me.
I'm starting to see the fruit of this - it's amazing. I am beginning to recognize triggers that would often lead to my losing my temper and can pray in the moment that God would give me words that would honor Him. I am more able to think carefully about my words and avoid sarcastic or impatient replies. It's wonderful!
How kind of God to, answer my prayer, to remind me that I need His help to accomplish the task He has given, and to provide that help by showing me how to apply His Word. Beautiful.