Teacher Notes

Just to warn you, I ramble a bit for this post, but that may not surprise many of you.  I tend to ramble a lot.  There’s nothing striking or eye opening in this post.  It’s merely a document of what’s running through my head as a homeschooling mom.  I hope that someday my grown kids will get a good laugh at it.

This week at school, we keep plugging away.  There seems to be a lot going on, and we just keep doing it.  The kids’ Winter choir concert is coming up soon.  Hopefully I’ll get to see it this year.  I believe last year I had to stay home with a sick kid (probably Elias), and sent Knut in since he didn’t even get to hear snippets of practices.

We’ve taken our kids’ curriculum into our own hands a bit, as Knut requested some read aloud time with them in the evenings.  So I put on hold our reading on the American Indians that is normally done in the evenings, and instead Knut is reading them “The Hobbit.”  He really wanted to read it to them, and that’s just the best time.  I suppose I could try to get that extra reading done during the day, but our days are already so full.  We’ll probably just extend reading aloud to the Summer, which the kids love anyway.  Normally in the Summer, I come up with my own book list, and we’re just doing that a bit mid-year now as well.

Although Knut requested this job, it’s been slow starting.  The kids are losing interest fast, but I can’t blame them too much.  One evening he literally fell asleep while reading to them.  He needs to work on that.  Kids need a bit more excitement in the voice than snoring.

The kids are doing really well in most of their subjects.  With Silje, I’m still getting lots of drama in spelling.  This year we’re doing “Sequential Spelling” with her, and I think it’s exactly what she needs.  It has a lot of repetition, and works a lot with word families.  She’s what I’ve read is called “an intuitive reader” meaning she easily figures out what words mean, but the down side to intuitive readers is that they are often terrible spellers.

David is not an intuitive reader, but needs to know every single phonics rule in order to feel comfortable even trying to sound out the word.  He tends to memorize words, so we’re doing lots of phonogram work with him to develop that side of reading, which he is thriving with.  I like Silje’s program for her, because we do go over phonics rules, but there’s a lot of memorization of odd words as well, which she really needs.  He’s really arriving at a good spot, learning-wise.  He’s learning consistency, and he works hard without much prodding these days.  He still lacks in confidence, but he works hard and has had a good attitude the last few weeks…most of the time.

As for Silje, she is a very emotional learner.  She normally cries when she gets something wrong.  That’s really hard for me to know how to deal with.  This last week, we were going over the strange spellings of “would, should, and could.”  She wrote out “would” then “could” and I told her the next word for her to try is “should” and she “should” look at the 2 previous words to get a clue on how it is spelled.  She wrote out “shud” and when I sighed and said, “Silje, I told you to look at the other words for a clue on how it’s spelled…” she just burst into tears and said she hated spelling.  I hear her.  I’m pretty bad at spelling as well.  That doesn’t mean we skip it.

We keep plugging away, and she is improving in this subject, but there are some things that she is consistently getting wrong still, and I’m not sure how to handle that along with the emotions.  I figure as long as I see improvement in both cases, we’re good.  I think improvement rather than perfection needs to be my goal for her most especially in this subject.  Helping her deal with failure, or at least deal with working hard to learn something has been something we’ve been working on for a few years now.  She’s such a perfectionist,  and she’s so accustomed to having information come easily.  She gets so shaken every time she gets something wrong, which happens about 4 times a day in her daily list of 25 study words.  The first mistake she rolls with and corrects, but when she misses a 3rd or 4th word…she gets completely undone.

Working on handwriting along with spelling has been helping a lot.  She’s so good in cursive that I have lots and lots to compliment her on as she’s working.  At least some part of her feels accomplished during this subject.  Really, 21 out of 25 words isn’t bad at all, in my opinion.  Apparently, she has higher standards than me.  She just gets angry with me when I won’t let her skip working on it.  I can handle that.  😉

She still goes through books like crazy, though.  She devours books like a teenage boy devours food.  I don’t have any idea how she reads so fast.  Knut and I both have concerns that she’s not getting everything she’s reading.  I’ve started doing way more comprehension work with her, but she consistently gets every question right.  I have her read aloud portions, and she gets it all right.  I have discussions with her about what she reads, and she has the most insightful answers.  I have her write about what she read, and draw pictures.  She’s obviously understanding things, but my goodness, she gets through her reading lightening fast!  I can’t think of any other way to slow her down to notice the details, but so far I can’t seem to even catch her missing the details either.

So we keep on getting books, and she keeps on reading them and talking about them.  I’ve noticed that she needs 2-3 hours of independent reading everyday or she starts feeling lost.  So I’m just filling up her library pile with some amazing books from poetry to science to classic novels and she spends a few hours every day just reading them over and over again.  That part is so much like me when I was her age.  I was lost without a book.

Knut and I have talked about Silje’s reading pile and the amount of things she reads a bit in the idea of how much education she is actually getting.  We’re finding that the benefits of homeschooling isn’t the curriculum that WE do, although we think we picked a fabulous one.  The benefit of homeschooling that is our favorite so far is that our kids are able to go so far in depth in their own interests because they have the time to do so.  Our curriculum covers what we feel is important for them to know.  Then we let them loose to soak in more of what they want and they are soaking in so much during those off times!  It’s almost freaky how much they learn that I don’t teach them.

We have been continuing to work on dictation from her reading, and that has been helpful in her observing small details like punctuation and capitalization.  The only interest she has shown in doing any activities around her reading is not related to her school reading at all.  She finds cookbooks related to certain series of books like the “Little House” books or the “American Girl” books and wants to cook what those characters would have likely made.

I’m so thankful for the library near us.  She needs a steady stream of books to keep her content.  She remembers everything she reads, and spouts off the most amazing snippets of knowledge she gets from her library books throughout the day.  She recently read a book we found on different types of eggs in different species.  She officially the egg expert in the house right now and could tell you all about lizard eggs and ostrich eggs and chicken eggs…

The week before Thanksgiving I checked out for her the American Kennel Club book of dog breeds, and she read it cover to cover before the dog show on Thanksgiving.  She was telling us all about each of the breeds, and what each breed was good at.  Most of the comments were in relation to whether or not that breed would be a good fit for our family.  “That breed doesn’t do well with little kids.”  or “That breed is too small for our yard and would need a fence or be kept indoors.  I think it would be in danger in our yard from hawks swooping down and eating it.”  That one made me laugh.

She wants to be a vet when she grows up, and is currently reading through the entire animal section at the library.  I’ve started pulling animal books from the adult section for her as well, and she reads those too.

Both kids are nearing the end of their math books and I’m soon ready to order some more.  My goal was to get them working a year ahead on math, and so far their both about half a year ahead, which I have no complaints about.  I was planning on moving Silje from Saxon math to Teaching Textbooks after this level, but Knut has recently told me that he has big reservations about doing the switch as Saxon has been going well.  So hopefully we’ll have some time to look at both programs together soon and make a good unified decision.  Any insight about either program would be very welcome!

My main concern is that she’s starting to get into math that I understand, but have a harder time explaining.  I like that Teaching Textbooks is all on the computer and she would have a lot more help available outside me.  Plus many of my friends have raved about it.  I feel like using Teaching Textbooks would help take some things off my plate each day, honestly.

Saxon is very traditional, and that’s what Knut likes about it.  I haven’t been getting the teacher’s guides for the last few levels because I found them to be redundant and useless to me, but he thinks if we just start buying the teacher’s guides again, I won’t be searching for ways to explain certain concepts to her as much and I won’t be spending as much time on that subject.  In his mind Saxon is the gold standard, (I agree, it is doing a great job thus far) and we shouldn’t mess with something that is teaching our kids math very thoroughly.

So we’ll just have to see.  There’s still some stuff to talk about and decide, and we have about a month or two to do that.

The thing I personally need to work on is consistency with some of our “supplementary” work that is important to me.  For instance our memory work, and Silje’s Latin.  I have some Christmas crafts planned for our school day that I was planning on starting next week.  I know the kids will really love that, and I hope that I survive.  I’m not that good at crafting with the kids because I tend to get annoyed with the messes and it gets loud, and things don’t turn out and then I have to keep them anyway…

It’s my biggest guilt as a homeschooling mom.  I need to be better at art projects.  I definitely need to improve in that area, and I think Christmas-time is probably one of the most opportune times to step it up.  Hopefully next week you’ll see what fabulous creations we did!


I know this post may shock some of you.  In fact, you better put whatever you are drinking down before you spray all over your monitor.

I sewed something.

I know, you were beginning to think that this blog should have been titled “He Sows, She Knits” which would have been cute too, but I didn’t think of it back then.  No, I haven’t done any sewing really since last Spring when I went on a quilting retreat.  Seriously, I had not even fully unpacked.  There were tubs of fabric still in the laundry/sewing room, and patterns and notes stacked on top of them in a haphazard sort of way.  Then lint from the dryer fell everywhere, and more stuff was piled on top, and it really started looking quite sad in there.

This nesting craze I’ve been on has been great for organizing my house, and I decided to clean my sewing room so I could actually sew something.  It took me a whole evening after the kids were in bed, but it was so well worth it!  I ended up getting some organizational extenders for my little cubby unit in there.  I got some baskets to put in the little cubbies, and now I don’t have balls of yarn falling on my head while I sew.

What I do know is that I am now officially on a yarn spending freeze, as I was/am on a fabric purchasing freeze.  Once I’ve gotten the organizational tools in place, I just can’t fit anymore.  If I want more, I’ll have to use some up.  Whatever I get has to fit in this space.

So after walking past this clean sewing space over and over the next day, by the time the kids were in bed, I was just dying to get in there and just sew something.  Sure, I had patterns and projects that are always available to pick up.  I wanted to just be creative and see what I could come up with.

I remember seeing my friend, Beth’s sewing project once, where she just took a variety of orange fabrics and put them around some very plain fabric with this incredible result.  Then she took the leftover patch fabric and sewed up a bunch of napkins.  I thought that was so cool.

So I figured I could do something like that.  With very little measuring, and using 2 1/2 inch squares, I just put this tan lightweight canvas-y type fabric with some Christmas prints I happened to have in my stash.  Well, I actually picked up this tan fabric at the quilt shop a few days ago, because I didn’t have that on hand.  I had one impulse buy when I was there, and that’s the green polka-dot fabric that made it into this project.  There’s something about polka dot fabrics that just get me, and I have a tough time not getting them.  So I just got a tiny bit.  I know I said I was on a fabric buying freeze, but this fabric was used up right away, and aided in using up some stash fabric, and that’s the loophole in the spending freeze rule.

I’m not sure if this runner will stay in the dining room until Christmas, or be moved to the front entry way table so it will still be in use, but for now it’s going to be here.

Anyway, the whole project went just so easy.  The first day I sat down to my sewing machine, which just happened to have the right color thread in it.  I didn’t have to rip out one thing.  When does that ever happen?

So, Knut popped his head in once to see how it was going, and he said, “Looks, um, whimsical.”  I knew from his tone that he was trying to say that the look we’re going for in the dining room isn’t quite whimsical.  True.  But I love sewing whimsically.  Whimsical sewing means doing what you like.  It means that I can shrug my shoulders when corners don’t meet up quite exactly.  That’s probably not what whimsical means, but I like my definition.  I think I’ll still keep my eye out for a fancier runner for this buffet, but until I find one I like, this will be some good protection for this furniture.  Right now the kids and I are forcing some paper whites and amaryllis for Christmas in this spot, and I wanted something under the pots.

Actually, most corners did meet up, which surprised me.

Well, I did sort of mess up the front edge.  I should fix that.

But then I realized, that’s right where some poinsettias should go.

I still need to play with the stems a bit.

Well, some more “whimsy” made it into the project.

The bottom of the lining accidentally whimsically is facing out.  Isn’t it cute?  I immediate decided I liked it.  The alternative to liking it would be ripping out the entire lining.  That’s logical, isn’t it?

Actually, the whole project went off with hardly a hitch.  When you consider I did pretty much zero measuring, and just started stitching, I’d say it turned out fantastic.  It was like my sewing room was just welcoming me back with open arms and saying “Please don’t leave us like that again!  We’ll all work together and be good, we promise!”  At least that’s what I heard Sassy Pfaffy and all the tools quietly cheer.  The last few months have been pretty lonely in there.

Yarn Along

This week I keep plugging away at my super soft cardigan.  I’m having a tough time coming up with a name for it.  I have a few ideas floating around as I stitch back and forth.  This is basically my knit-while-Elias-is-trying-to-fall-asleep knitting.  He may be 4 but he still needs a nap everyday, and he still starts playing right away if I’m not sitting in his room.  I actually enjoy that part of the day because it’s so quiet.  The big kids are occupied with their own projects downstairs, Solveig is asleep in her crib, and Elias is just staring at the wall for awhile until he drifts off.  I get to just sit in the rocking chair and knit.  It’s quite peaceful.

Not only am I in love with this yarn, but after knitting a few cardigans that are either fingering or sport weight, I’m pleased with how quickly this worsted weight cardigan is going!  I don’t plan on releasing this pattern until after the baby is born, but it’s just going so fast, the release date may be moved up if she decides to make a late entrance.  We’ll see.  I don’t promise anything at this point of the pregnancy! At this time it’s the plan for my January pattern.

I’m at the point of the second book in the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter where it’s getting really good.  O my goodness, do I love this book!  Reading it is like enjoying a fine piece of chocolate.  Sure, little romances are like a KitKat.  You can just go through a bag without noticing or even thinking about it, and it’s a fun little delight.  But then there are other times where you have, like a Godiva cheesecake, and it’s so rich that you have to eat it slowly, and savor every morsel.  That’s this book.  Each description, each scene, each complex relationship is just so rich in words that you can only handle so much of this book at a time.  Books like this don’t come a dime a dozen.  Books like this one, won a Nobel Prize.

Books like this feed the soul.  So good!  The first book, “The Wreath” covers Kristin’s childhood, courtship and marriage.  Kristin’s relationship with her father and with her choice in love is in such conflict, and as she loves both men so dearly and is conflicted so many times, her relationship with God is also put to the test as subject of sin is wrestled with.  Issues like loyalty, tradition and honor are examined.  It’s just so good!

I’m now in the second book “The Wife” where sins from the previous book deeply effect the characters even years later who are maturing and developing.  Relationships are complex and messy, as they continue to try to understand what God expects of them.  Like every other marriage, it’s 2 sinners going through life together.

Christianity is still pretty new to Norway at this time in history.   The Catholic church rules, but “old ways” and superstitions survive in the countryside.  Outside influences, both successes and involvement in overthrowing the king of Norway (all historically based in medieval times) make life simple pretty quick as the characters realize what really matters.  Is it too late for relationships to be restored as a trial for high treason begins?

Now I’m just making it sound cheap.  It’s not.  It’s so beautiful.

Linking up again with Ginny.  I love knitting and reading, and meeting others who do too.

O!  I almost forgot.  Be sure to check out my new FREE PATTERN “Winter Butterfly Cowl” I just posted yesterday, and the yarn giveaway I’m doing with it’s release.  Free baby alpaca chunky yarn…doesn’t get much better than that!  You don’t have to sign up for anything, or any hoops like that. It’s just some Christmas fun.

Winter Butterfly Cowl

I’ve been on a major stash busting spree, in an attempt to find the surface of my crafting room.  The chunky yarns would seem easy to get rid of!  Simply knit them up and move them to the outdoor clothing drawer!

This pattern is super simple.  It’s nothing difficult or mind blowing.  It’s something quick and easy and uses only one skein of chunky yarn.  It has these little butterflies all over this simple fabric.  If you can manage a knit and a purl stitch, you can handle this quick pattern.  This would make a great last minute Christmas gift, at least I think.

I made it for myself, with the desire to have something a bit deeper than my Clara Cowl because sometimes I need to pull a cowl way up to my nose, and just bury my face in it as we walk in the cold wind.  Winter and wool go so nicely together!  No wonder winter is my favorite season.

To make this quickie project, you’ll need:

Size US 11 circular needles on about a 24 inch cord.
One skein (or 110 yards) of super soft chunky yarn.  I used Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande because it’s one of my absolute favorites.

Gauge: 11 sts and 18 rows = 4″ or 10 cm.

Final size: 26″ around, 7″ deep.  (Modification note: if you want it wider or slimmer, simply increase or decrease cast on by 6 stitches.)

The one part of the instructions that can be confusing is when you knit into the next stitch in the row below.  For this instruction, you’ll have a purl stitch to work next, but you’re going to ignore it completely, and knit into the knit stitch just below it, and slip it off the needle.

Cast on 72 sts, and join in the round, being careful not to twist.  Place a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round.

Rows 1-3: (K3, p3) repeat to end.
Rows 4-5: knit.
Row 6: (K3, p3) repeat to end.
Row 7: (K3, p1, knit into next stitch in the row below, p1) repeat to end.
Rows 8-9: knit
Row 10: (P3, k3) repeat to end.
Row 11: (P1, knit into next stitch in the row below, p1, k3) repeat to end.

Repeat rows 4-11, 3 more times.

Work final ribbing as follows: (P3, k3)  for 3 rows.  Bind off loosely in rib.  Weave in ends and block to size.

That’s all!  Feel free to knit a dozen of these and give them out for Christmas, sell them on Etsy and make some Christmas money, or do whatever you like.  If you sell them, please point back to this pattern in your listing.  That’s all I ask.

Want some of this soft yarn for you or to whip up a gift?  Well I happen to be cleaning out my stash.  I’m doing a giveaway for it right here.