Saturday, September 27, 2008

Graham Feis

Graham switched to a new venue this year. The feis took place at the St. Charles Convention Center -- it was a great choice.

Most of the stages were in the large hall, along with the vendors, several tables (which ended up being used for camping), and some of the concessions. More concessions were out in the hallway, and further down the hall. The restrooms were large and clean. Overall, there was plenty of room to spread out.

Once again, Graham made some really nice stages, coated with a mix of primer and chalkboard paint to help with slickness (although during Thalia's first dance one of the dancers twisted her ankle and hobbled off the stage, leaving me to wonder if her foot caught on the surface -- but I don't know of anyone else with the same issue, so maybe that girl simply landed wrong).

The only problem was in the stage scheduling. We arrived close to 7a.m. so the girls could get ready for ceili at 8a.m. They danced their ceili, then headed to their stages for their solo dances.

Thalia's stage moved briskly through the dances. She competed in seven solo dances, changed clothes, and was totally finished with the feis by about 11a.m.

Overall, she had a great feis. She medalled in a bunch of her Beginner 2 dances, got a 4th place in one of her Novice dances (she was thrilled to get anything -- even a token ribbon -- in her Novice dances, given that it was the first time she competed in that level).

On the other hand, AnnaBeth waited and waited and waited, watched friends dance, waited some more, and finally started dancing around 10a.m. By this time she was tired and hungry, yet too nervous to eat.

She started complaining that her foot hurt, and by the time she got to her hardshoe dances (sometime after lunch) she had a blister that popped. It didn't look that bad, but she was hobbling around to make it to the stage. She needed to place in hornpipe to make it into Novice in that dance, so we told her to try to make it through that dance and then we'd leave. She was signed up for another dance after that, but we ditched it (after she checked in for the hornpipe she was crying and saying "I wish I could just dance in my socks"; the stage manager was trying to console her, and asking me if this was her last dance -- I answered "it's going to be -- we've decided to skip the rest"). She ended up not even placing in the hornpipe -- her comments read that she needed to get up on her toes more -- which is exactly what she couldn't do due to the blister. Sigh. It was after 2 o'clock on a long, long day, she was in tears about the whole thing, hated the feis, hated everything ... heck, a LOT of the dancers were in tears by then. I think everyone had just reached a state of exhaustion, having been there and in a state of nervous anticipation for hours and hours.

(The next day her heel was purple and swollen. So apparently she wasn't just being dramatic about a blister; her foot was really hurt. We're grateful that she can go barefoot or in flipflops for a few days, and generally take it easy, not even walking very much.)

I do wish the younger girls could've gotten through their dances a little more quickly. I think if AnnaBeth had been finished as early as Thalia her day would've gone a lot better, injured heel or not. What is it with this age level that they often end up on the stages that drag on and on and on? Why not have the Under 9s on one stage and the Under 8s on another? Those are 2 huge groups, and splitting them up would help immensely.

After we got home we crashed. AnnaBeth took a nap (heck, I did, too). We ate normal, non-feis food. We looked at the personal feis results and comments on Feisworx. And as AnnaBeth was getting ready for bed she commented that it had been a pretty good day. Amazing what some sleep and food can do for one's perspective.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekly Report -- Sept. 26

As far as Thalia has been concerned, Language Arts this week has consisted of writing thank you cards. And the thank you cards have also counted as arts and crafts.

I think these came out really cute. It's wonderful that she has the patience to do this. I don't.

AnnaBeth has also started on her thank you cards, but had plain ol' bookwork to do, too. In First Language Lessons Level 3 she has started memorizing A Time to Talk by Robert Frost. I'm hoping this poem grows on me with familiarity; so far it's not one of my favorites. She's also studying prepositions. She had memorized a long list of prepositions in First Language Lessons Level 2 last spring, which is repeated in FLL3. FLL3 adds the concept of prepositional phrases.

In Writing With Ease we continue to work with 101 Dalmations. I've even found copywork featuring prepositional phrases. Yes, I'm pretty impressed with myself. And AnnaBeth is impressed with her increased ability to summarize a passage.

In Math Thalia has asked for help with several algebra problems this week. At first I thought she wasn't getting how to think through and set up the problem. Now, though, I see that she is doing fine with that; she just needs gobs of practice on those tedious bits about making sure to work through the equations accurately. I had a sudden brainstorm in the midst of this week that what she's doing in algebra (practice practice practice solving relatively simple problems that are all similar) is akin to what AnnaBeth is doing in Writing With Ease (practice practice practice writing simple passages).

And AnnaBeth is at lesson 144 in RightStart C, so near the end that there's a temptation to just zip through the remaining lessons so we can yell "DONE!" We are finally finished with fractions, finishing up with a game of Fraction War -- playing cards with fractions on them used in the card game War. Today was an odd lesson on AM/PM and the equinox. I call it odd because I thought everyone knew this stuff, and am surprised it's a Level C math lesson. We ended up discussing the Latin roots of things like AM and PM (the book suggested remember that AM means morning by thinking of "At Morning", which I thought was sort of dumb, mostly because it could just as easily stand for "After Morning" -- "at" is a really awkward word to use in a phrase like that, really).

We continue to learn other Languages as well. We're finally finished with fruit in French. We took a day off today before starting the next unit. In Spanish Thalia is learning about ser and also about gender. In Latin Thalia is looking at ordinal and cardinal numbers, while AnnaBeth is starting to learn about commands.

Science has consisted of Prentice Hall Science Explorers. We're currently learning about the Earth's surface. The PH Science Explorers tend to remind me of Girl Scout badge books for some reason -- I keep thinking we'll get a badge after we finish one of these sections. Thalia said she feels the same way.

Read Alouds this week have been The Tree in the Trail, Burgess Animal Book, Little House on Rocky Ridge (actually goes nicely with Tree in the Trail at the moment, since both are currently about traveling around in covered wagons), and 101 Dalmations.

Piano! Choir! Swimming! Dance! All of it done!

As usual, I'm sure I'm leaving out some major component of our week, but we must zoom along to other things this afternoon, so this will have to stand as our summary of what we accomplished.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

True Cat Stories

In the morning we found socks outside our bedroom doors, where none of us had left socks.

We quickly pieced together what had happened. The Evil Sock Creatures had been creeping up to harm us in our sleep, but were thwarted by a vigilant patrol cat.

Patrol cat had left the bodies behind. After all, she needed to race off to try to save her companion cat from the Grocery Bag Monster that was starting to devour him.

It isn't easy patrolling the household, but she is ever vigilant.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Work in Progress Wednesday

I'm working on tracing another Ottobre pattern, #5 Canvas cargo crops from issue 5/2008.

I've pulled sheet A as per the instructions, and I'm tracing the pieces that are outlined in black onto Pattern-Ease, which is a Pellon product (last time I bought it at JoAnn's it had a different name on the bolt -- it's the stuff that's about 45 inches wide). I'm tracing the lines for size 36.

The shapes to the right are the pieces I've already traced; I've written a number on each one. The upper left shows the Pattern-Ease over the pattern sheet -- you can see that it's very translucent. And the bottom left shows what the pattern sheet looks like.

At this point I haven't added any seam allowances. Some people do slick things to add the seam allowances while they trace, but I like to trace the outline first, then add the seam allowance later. Also, I've traced these pieces with a Sharpie. Really, this is considered Bad. Drawing pattern pieces with marker is messy and imprecise; also, it bleeds through the Pattern-Ease and gets on the original. But my cutting is rather messy and imprecise, and I have loads of Sharpies available.

Next photo, I'm starting to add a 1 cm seam allowance using my hem measure and a fine-tip Sharpie ... and we see that I have help making sure that big piece of Pattern-Ease doesn't drift off of the table:

Yes, besides the fact that Pattern-Ease is translucent, it also holds up to marauding cats. If you've ever had cats searching for stray "mice" in your tissue patterns, you know why that's important.

Hey, look what else is on the table:

Another lace collar is drying! You think you're getting tired of looking at lace collars every Wednesday WIP? Yeah, well, just imagine crocheting the things. Yikes. I was halfway through another one when I realized I was going to run out of crochet cotton. I headed to the store to get more, and realized the store was closed ... had to go to a different store, which had a different brand, and I swear, the brightness factor of the white was different. So, ditch the half-made collar, and start over with a new brand of thread. I don't know if I'll ever get all of these done.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

100 Species Challenge

1. Strawberry
2. Black-eyed Susan
3. Rose of Sharon, Althea
4. Potentilla

5. Vinca
We like to use annual vinca for border planting. I always get white, because I think white flowers make such a nice, visible border for the walks.

Sometimes I do get another color for pots, though.

The foliage is a nice glossy dark green. The entire plant gets bushy on its own, without any pinching back. And, best of all, the deer don’t eat it! Truly a carefree plant -- just pop it in the ground in spring, and make sure it gets some water now and then .

There’s a perennial named Vinca which is a totally different plant. The annual vinca I’m showing here is actually Catharanthus roseus. Here is a nice summary of annual vinca.

And, what new thing did I learn about vinca while composing this entry? I learned that it's a bit fussy to propagate from seeds. I'm sort of surprised, considering we've had it come up volunteer some years. But, of course, in that situation it was just a fun surprise to see it popping up in the spring.

More information about the 100 Species Challenge here, and a link to all my 100 Species entries in the sidebar.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Update

Our dance school had a performance at the Missouri River Irish Fest. Actually, every Irish dance school in the area had a performance at the Festival.

Originally uploaded by GailV

Thalia is dancing hornpipe with a couple of other girls. ("Why are their faces so smeary, Mommy?" "Because I don't know if their parents want their pictures online, dear.") Bonus: the collar on the right as you're viewing the photo was crocheted by me. A world premiere!

It was raining when we left the house, but turned into a pretty day by the time we got there. We've never been to the Irish Fest before -- apparently it had moved a bit due to the high river. St. Charles is a pretty area to wander around in, and the setting was nice. The stage was rather petite, and inclined to bounce around, but the crowd was appreciative.

Afterwards Aunt L and Uncle M came over for supper and birthday celebrations. Aunt L brought cake:

This is the 3rd birthday cake we've had this month. Oh, wait, really it's the 4th. And still more to come!

We also played games. Uncle M brought marbles:

He won every game, but he left 2 bags of marbles here for us to practice with for future matches, not to mention the carpet square with the pre-drawn circle. We also had the usual bottle drop, bean bag toss, and also played Ladderball in the entrance. AnnaBeth cleaned up in LadderBall, consistently wrapping her bolos around the 3-point rung. Prizes were distributed to the winners, birthday gifts were opened, and we were all up way too late once again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekly Report -- Sept. 19


AnnaBeth continues to blaze through the fractions section of RightStart C. She loves playing with the wooden fraction chart. The other day she was messing around with it while I was getting out the rest of stuff for the math lesson. "Hey, look what I just did!" I looked. Oh, honey, you just did the lesson. On your own. Under the guise of playing around. "Ummm, keep doing stuff like that and write it down, okay? That's math for the day."

Thalia continues to work through Life of Fred Algebra. This week's questions to me involved misplaced decimals, and were simply a matter of going over the work carefully. Many conversations along the lines of "why is this 15? Shouldn't it be .15?" occurred. Tedious, but necessary.


AnnaBeth and I are still forging our own path through Writing With Ease, finding selections in 101 Dalmations. AnnaBeth is feeling good that she's getting the hang of narrations, copywork and dictation -- all are notably easier for her now. I feel good that I'm finally getting the hang of how to find my own selections for copywork, narration and dictation. I think at this point I might be able to get out those Classical Writing books that are hanging around on the shelves and actually do something with them -- I finally get the point.

In First Language Lessons Level 3 we have completed everything through lesson 45. Sometimes she seems to get a bit confused when diagramming sentences, but I know this will come up dozens upon dozens of times in the next few years, so I'm not too worried -- eventually it will all sink in.

Thalia wrote a rather anemic essay for Lightning Lit. She had some good ideas, but seemed unsure how to develop them. She was also supposed to write thank you notes. If you're waiting for one, don't hold your breath -- it will be a few more days before they appear.


We have reached chapter 6 in Minimus. AnnaBeth is spending more time with flashcards. She makes them from the vocabulary lists in the book.

Thalia continues to work through Latin for Children B.

And I spent time working on Henle. Yay me.


Ecoutez Parlez unit 2 continues. Still learning fruits. We practice every time we go into a grocery store.

By the way, in answer to km's question last week. I don't know French. I can read it silently, but am fairly clueless about pronunciation. That's why the curriculum we choose MUST have a strong audio component, which limits our choices. The pronunciation rules for this language drive me batty, frankly.

Thalia still prefers Spanish for Children to Rosetta Stone. She wants to get more grammar down before returning to Rosetta Stone. Also, sometimes the RS disc is wonky, and takes forever to load, which is annoying.


Little House on Rocky Ridge, Burgess Animal Book, 101 Dalmations, Tree in the Trail (I really do not like books by Holling C Holling, but I keep trying; right now we're reading this at a brisk pace so we can be done with it), Our Island Story.

I am leaving out something. What? Hmm, we also had Scouts, dance, choir, piano, swimming. Another busy week.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

100 Species Challenge

1. Strawberry
2. Black-eyed Susan
3. Rose of Sharon, Althea

4. Potentilla

Growing up we saw Potentilla fruticosa with yellow flowers. A few years ago while planting a white garden we found the cultivar "Abbotswood" which has white flowers:

It's become our potentilla of choice whenever we plant potentillas. And we like to plant them, since they bloom all summer long, and are generally a reliable plant.

When we lived in New Hampshire a nursery worker commented that they treated them as a perennial up there, figuring on total dieback in the winter and revival in the spring. I don't know if that's really true -- perhaps just that person's view on things. Around here we have the delicate outline of the branches all winter long.

I had forgotten that potentillas are also known as shrubby cinquefoil, which strikes me as a case where the common name is more complicated than the Latin. I vaguely remember hearing them called Tundra Rose, but Widdy? Really? The Wikipedia article I linked claims they're called that. Umm, yeah, and sometimes we call them "potentates" just to be silly, but I don't think I'd be writing up an article claiming that name. So I looked up "widdy" (following the rabbit trail), and discovered it is a rope made from flexible twigs such as birch; also, a hangman's noose. Hmmm, okay, potentilla branches are thin and flexible; if I squint I can see it.

I may start using that name, just because I think it's a fun word to say. Widdy widdy widdy.

More info about the 100 Species Challenge here; link in the sidebar to all of my 100 Species Posts so far.

Senses Brownie Try-It

Each parent-daughter team in our Brownie troop is asked to lead a meeting. AnnaBeth and I chose to present the Try-It on Senses.

After our opening ceremony we stayed in circle seated on the floor. I brought out 4 plastic Easter eggs -- each egg was double wrapped in plastic bags. Inside each egg was a cotton ball with a single scent on it (by the way, I had double bagged them just so they didn't smell up the place; all the fanfare of unwrapping them turned out to be a major attraction of this activity). I used vanilla, coconut extract, lemon essential oil, and peppermint essential oil.

We carefully unwrapped each egg and opened it, then passed it around, each Brownie smelling it. We told them not to say what they thought they smelled -- let everyone have a turn first. Then we discussed what the scent was. We passed around coconut first, which was a tough one. One girl eventually said sunblock, and another nailed it as coconut. Next we did lemon, which was very easy and everyone was excited to get right. Then vanilla, which was a bit hard. And finished up with peppermint, another easy scent. Thus ended task #1 Only the Nose Knows.

Next we moved on to our sense of touch. As per task #4 Can You Feel It? we had prepared 2 bags with matching items:

sponges, golf balls, ping pong balls, snails out of Snail Pace Race, game pieces from CandyLand, poker chips, dominoes, popsicle sticks, wooden beads ... a large assortment. AnnaBeth demonstrated the idea of reaching a hand in each bag without looking, and withdrawing matching items using solely sense of touch. Each girl returned the "found" items to the bag after her turn; I wonder if that was the best way to do this. Sometimes the items didn't match in color, and we briefly discussed that your fingers can't tell the difference in color.

One of the girls suggested that it would be really cool to team up with their buddy (our troop pairs off with assigned buddies at each meeting so the girls get a chance to work with various girls and not just hang around with the same girls every time --- the buddy pairs are re-assigned at each meeting) and have the 2 girls try to come up with matching items. It sounded like a great idea, but we didn't get around to trying it.

Onward to the tables for craft time. We made thaumatropes -- not that the Try-It book bothered to tell us the name of this little toy in task #3 Now You See It -- I managed to google it to find out the actual name and more information about why they work (persistence of vision). We drew fishbowls and fish on index cards before the meeting; we did the drawing ahead of time so we could be sure they were drawn large enough to be effective. The Brownies colored them in (some did striped fish, faux seaweed in their fishbowl -- amazing stuff). They folded them over a straw, glued with gluestick. We stapled them to help them be a little more firmly in place, since gluestick is sometimes a little iffy.

UPDATE:  I've put New Improved Directions for Making Thaumatropes with a Crowd of Kids at Tales of Homeschool 11/10/11 when I did this with my 3rd to 5th grade Science class.  For Brownies I'd probably still draw an outline and let them color it in.

When you twirl them quickly between your hands the fish appears in the fishbowl. Pretty cool.

For our final task we worked on #6 What's It Like? in which we taught the troop to sign the Girl Scout Promise. I printed out the Promise on poster board since about half the troop doesn't quite have it memorized. AnnaBeth and I signed the entire thing, then we went back through it bit by bit. I tried to give mnemonics for some of the signs -- for example, the sign for "girl" traces a bonnet string. After we went over it several times we handed out a pdf I had found here (yep, that link is to a pdf) which handily included permission to copy. The Brownies seemed pretty entranced by this activity.

We then had our snack and discussed taste. We still had plenty of time -- I had given the leader a heads-up the day before that I thought we'd have extra time -- so our Brownie leader had us play Kim's Game, which was about sight AND started the group on the Playing Around the World Try-It. After that, a game of Red Light, Green Light, in which we had to listen AND also did another activity from Playing Around the World. Woohoo, multi-tasking! Not double-dipping, though, because those last 2 games weren't used to earn the Senses Try-It.

I'm so glad this is over. Leading Brownie meetings isn't my strong point, but now I'm done for quite a while. By the way, that's why I'm giving tedious detail here -- I would've loved to find a detailed account of how someone did this Try-It, and mooched their ideas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Work in Progress Wednesday

Current contents of The Waiting Room Bag, carried to all events where I end up sitting around waiting for someone to get done with something:

FiFi is still hanging around. Actually I'm starting to enjoy knitting it now that it's nearing an end.

Another lace collar. The dance teacher asked me last week to make some more; I told her I'd give her this one at class tonight. I need to finish this last row and block it.

And, of course, Henle Latin. Don't leave home without it!

Not shown: Brownie Try-It book and some books on sign language. AnnaBeth and I are leading the next Brownie meeting, in which we'll earn the Senses Try-It. Right now we're learning the Girl Scout Promise in sign language so that we can teach it to the others.

So, if you were at the pool this week and saw a woman signing random words and phrases, then getting out a Latin book and puzzling over translations (sorely tempted to run to the side of the pool and yell to her young daughter "Sed is but, right?"), then putting that away in order to crochet lace for the remaining five minutes, well, that might have been me.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Action Shots

Thalia using her Heritage BuckEye recurve, with snazzy new carbon arrows:

I'm trying to line up some lessons so she can work on form. Also, this is lethal (it's a 30 lb. bow, for pete's sake), so the more safety lessons the better.

The bowstring is missing that little metal doodad that makes it easy to place the arrow correctly (and, yes, that's exactly how I talk in the archery department, and the salespeople are some impressed, I'm sure), so we need to go back again to get that:

Edited to add: Aha! That little doodad is the nock! And we can make one out of string. And we can also engage in long, tedious discussions about the pros and cons of a brass nock vs. a string nock; and we can also discuss what we use for the string nock.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Recap

I've been trying to figure out how to get a nice photo of Thalia's new recurve bow. It's about 5 feet tall, unstrung, and really, really skinny, so trying to frame the picture is beyond me. Maybe later she'll string it up and I can get an action shot.

Rick took her to Cabela's yesterday to get appropriate arrows for the bow. We are such innocents -- we didn't realize bow season is starting today, and the archery section at Cabela's was wall-to-wall with customers. In the rush to get the arrows, get out of the crowd and get home they didn't double check the size after getting the arrows cut ... we realized last night that the new arrows are actually too short. So I'll make another trip to Cabela's today to see about sorting that out.

So, action shot may wait until we have a better arrow selection. We have the old arrows from her old bow, but those are old, and not nearly as cool looking as the new arrows.

Other than that, I spent most of the weekend blowing my nose. The kids had a sleepover on Friday night, stayed up until about 4am Saturday, and spent the rest of the weekend in sort of a tired daze. Rick worked all day Saturday outside, trying to get all the lawn work done before the Ike remnants came to town. Yay us -- the lawn was mown and the mulch spread long before it started raining here. Now the rain has passed, the air is cool, and we're ready to move forward into another busy week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekly Report -- Sept. 12

Voici des poires:

Les poires sont vertes.

Il y a combien de poires?

Voici trois poires.

Yes, indeed, we've made it into Unit 2 of Ecoutez, Parlez, and are able to discuss bowls of fruit. AnnaBeth says she's learning more from this program than she did with The Easy French. Yes and no. Ecoutez doesn't have the fun idiomatic phrases that The Easy French has, so we're not learning to to say things like ma petite chaud, which is a fun thing to say PLUS was used in a Star Trek Next Generation episode.

AnnaBeth also continues to plug away at First Language Lessons, diagramming command sentences. In Writing With Ease we are now striking out on our own, figuring out our own assignments. AnnaBeth was rather charmed with the examples in the book taken from 101 Dalmations, so we are continuing to use that book for our narrations, copywork, and dictation. We're also reading the entire book aloud.

RightStart math is now into fraction. Just a couple of weeks ago I had posted on the WellTrainedMind forum that we rarely use the wooden fraction board from RightStart; this week we've used it every day.

Thalia is back in the swing of using Lightning Lit 7th grade. She had set it aside while working on the intensive 10 weeks of Analytical Grammar, but has returned to it without a hitch.

This week she ran in to a problem with Life of Fred Algebra. When she asked me how to solve the equation I said, "You can email or call the author -- he's very accessible to kids working through the book." I even found his email and pulled up a blank, addressed email on the computer. But she managed to figure out the problem on her own anyway.

Read alouds continue to abound: The Little Duke, Our Island Story, Burgess Animal Book, The Tree in the Trail (dropped for a time since we had to return it to the library; we have another copy now), LIttle House on Rocky Ridge, 101 Dalmations, and probably some others that I'm forgetting.

And we had the general round of dance lessons, choir, swimming, and piano lessons.

Also, the week has been spent making plans for a Sleepover, and also general Birthday Preparations. Thalia has cleaned most of the house -- currently she's arguing with AnnaBeth about who has the privilege of vacuuming the family room. Thalia says she gets to because her birthday is coming up. I'm not quite sure what to make of this.

I also got the transmission on my car fixed, as well as that really annoying, somewhat ominous squeaky noise (a belt). And played airport shuttle a couple of times. And was asked to make 5 more crocheted collars for dance dresses, to be done in an unspecified length of time (there goes FiFi again...).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Work in Progress Wednesday

Work continues on FiFi, the sweater I had planned to complete before the Olympic flame was extinguished:

I am quite uninterested in it, but don't care to have it hanging around half knit. I'm doing maybe 2 rounds per day, on average. I am determined to finish it before starting anything else.

The weather has turned to autumn. Who wants to knit a short-sleeved sweater out of Rowan Calmer when a hint of knitting long-sleeved wool sweaters is in the air?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Last spring I was studying Latin on a regular basis -- 30 minutes per day of Henle.

I put it aside for the summer.

I put it out of my mind. Totally.

I got the books out today. "In Latin some prepositions are followed by the ablative case, some by the accusative case.... always learn what case a preposition governs." Accusative? Ablative? Ummm, let's see, Never Gag Down An Ant, so those are the last 2, but which one is which?

And the singular versus the plural declensions? No longer something I know.

I feel like I'm doing an archeological dig in my brain, trying to remember this stuff.

So eery to realize that I could understand this just a couple of months ago.

Monday, September 8, 2008


A discussion arose the other day on the WellTrainedMind forum about curling hair. A mom asked how to give her 11 year old daughter curls -- she had tried various methods, but the curls fell out as quickly as she put them in.

I can relate. When Thalia was young and in ballet/tap/jazz classes she wanted fancy, curly hair for recital. Unfortunately her hair was straight as a stick, and Would. Not. Hold. A. Curl. Uh-uh, no way. I used a curling iron, hot rollers, sponge rollers left in overnight, various hairsprays, and still ended up with a dismal flop.

Fast forward, and we join Irish Dance. We are asked to curl hair. Oh, I dreaded it, let me tell you. I was sure it wouldn't work.

But, whaddya know, it did.

We had a performance last Saturday and AnnaBeth requested that I curl her hair in lieu of having a wig on (wigs are hot and itchy). So I took some pictures while we went through the process.

(Also, I discovered why people who post a lot of pictures tend not to use Blogger. Trying to sort out all of these in the post is really annoying in the Blogger system.)

Here's what AnnaBeth's hair looks like plain:

It's fine and rather thin. For the record, Thalia has long, thick hair, and we've curled it plenty of times, too.

Here are my tools:

From Sally's Beauty Supply we have SalonCare Super Firm Styling Gel. It's an unattractive yellow gel that comes in various size jars. I'm on my second 12 oz. jar. We also have Sally's Jumbo End Wraps. And we have some packages of Soft Spike curlers. We bought these at the dance studio. I typically use 2 packages (30 spikes per package) on AnnaBeth's hair, and 3 packages on Thalia's. If I'm doing both girls, though, the second one gets drastically fewer spikes, as the charm of curling hair really wears thin after an hour or so.

I've got the spikes I need opened up and ready to go so I don't have to fumble around with them. Also, I've put them all on a tray next to the chair I'll sit in.

I'm curling her hair on Friday afternoon; our performance is Saturday afternoon. This way we'll have plenty of time for the gel to dry.

Note that I'm working on dry hair, wetting it only with the gel.

For the hairstyle we use for performances, we make a part from ear to ear and draw that front hair up into a pony tail:

Starting in the little ponytail, take a lock of hair about half as big as your pinkie:

Coat it with gel from roots to tip, after which it will stick straight up into the air by itself:

(From here on out I'm fumbling around with the gel all over my fingers while I'm trying to take pictures, so expect them to be a little wonky.)

Put an end paper over the end, and roll up on the spike:


Et voila! One curl done!

Finish up the ponytail:

Then start curling the main head of hair, moving row by row front to back:

Almost done! She's looking through a magazine here; sometimes we watch movies while we do this. By this time my fingers are cold from glopping around in the gel for so long.

Next morning and we're already taking some out. Same view as the picture above. We start taking them out at the bottom so we don't end up with a tangled mess.

Action shot of Thalia unwrapping a curl (looks like she should've been picking up the couch pillow and papers all over the floor instead of messing with this, sigh):


Speaking of having a mess on the floor, the discarded spikes and end papers need to be corralled:

We took them out before dance class. This will give them some time to relax a bit before the show:

Later that afternoon, having already bounced around in class, she's ready to go on stage:

It was a beautiful day, but those dresses are hot and heavy. She was feeling pretty good about her decision to not wear a wig.

After the show the curls are a little droopier:

She put on a hairnet overnight, and had curly hair Sunday morning for church:

Sunday afternoon she wore the whole thing, curls and all, back in a ponytail. Then started brushing the front curls out with a hairbrush. By Monday morning, having spent the night without a hairnet, the curls were looking pretty droopy and she was ready to wash them out:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weekly Report -- Sept. 5

Gah! Having only 4 days this week was tough. Yes, most of our curriculum is divided into nice little 4 day segments, but this particular short-week also featured an orthodontist appointment, the first Scout meetings of the year, a trip to the airport to pick up Daddy, a piano lesson, and about 8 hours of dance lessons.

We did manage to fit in some school here and there. Annabeth did 3 days of Writing With Ease, 4 days of RightStart C and First Language Lessons 3, and a couple of days of both French and Latin. Thalia did Life of Fred Algebra all 4 days, and then some Latin and Spanish.

We still aren't totally up to speed on all of our outside activities. Next week we'll be adding swimming lessons and choir to the mix. Should be interesting.

Friday, September 5, 2008

100 Species Challenge

1. Strawberry
2. Black-eyed Susan

3.  Rose of Sharon, Althea

Rose of Sharon is an easy-to-grow shrub. Unlike many flowering shrubs, it blooms in late summer. It's an old-fashioned shrub, tall, with a vase-shape. Here is a photo of a mature speciman; the ones in our yard are fairly young, closer to my height and not very wide. We see a spectacular Rose of Sharon that's probably 15 feet tall when we drive to piano lessons.

What I learned about Rose of Sharon while preparing this entry: trim in the early spring. I should know this stuff, but I never can remember whether to trim various shrubs in the fall or the spring, new growth or old growth, etc. etc. Really, though, Rose of Sharon does just fine without pruning, provided you plant it in a spot big enough for its mature growth.

What is this 100 Species Challenge? See blog entry here, or click on the label in the sidebar.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Edited to add:  I think these are cicada exoskeletons.  I noticed them while mowing the lawn Monday.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kansas City

This is our second year to attend the Kansas City Feis. It's a fun weekend. Several families from our dance school go to this feis. Most also attend the Kansas City Irish Fest, of which the feis is actually part. We didn't set foot in the Irish Fest, though, preferring to hang out at the hotel pool. The weather was gorgeous, and who can resist a roof top pool?

Thalia and AnnaBeth did well at the feis. AnnaBeth placed first in two of her dances, earning her first gold medals. Their teacher has suggested that both of them compete in a couple of Novice dances at the next feis. They've certainly earned their place at that level.

The feis itself is nicely laid out. Our biggest quibble was with the constant switching around of adjudicators. The rules state that you can't judge a dancer that dances with a school you're connected with, which makes sense. BUT, there was much switching around of adjudicators to accommodate the dancer/adjudicator combinations -- it might've been simpler to get adjudicators from a different region whose schools weren't represented. Then again, dancers from all over the U.S. participated, and the rules for what's considered "connection" are getting more and more far reaching (for example, if a dancer from School X practices at School Y -- not taking classes, but just practicing in their studio -- everyone of School X is associated with School Y and vice versa, so adjudicators from School X or Y can't judge anyone from either school. It's Byzantine in complexity.).

Unlike last feis I didn't take any pictures before the dancing started. This was a mistake, since by the end of the day our dancers weren't in the mood to pose for pictures, refusing to put the school dress back on and stand in front of the indoor waterfall at the hotel:

and just sort of looked dazed:

Next morning we headed out to visit Aunt D. After church we went to her house for lunch, where she introduced us to the game ladderball . It's a hoot -- you throw bolos around rungs of a ladder, and get points basis what rung your bolo wraps around.

And after lunch we headed back home. We didn't get far before the backseat crowd zonked:

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet, recovering from 2 weekends of feising in a row.