Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Work in Progress Wednesday

Mrs. H, our hostess for WIP Wednesday, is doing a year-end wrap up of her projects. Which sounds like a nice idea, except that I don't want to think about all of those dress collars I crocheted this fall, let alone link to pictures. I'd rather forget about that, thank you.

So, what are we carrying over into the new year as works in progress?

The Chicknits hoodie, which I'm starting to believe is never going to be done. I ripped back the left sleeve on Christmas because, once again, the increases were wrong. Then I knit the entire sleeve while watching all 6 DVDs of Star Wars (not including Clone Wars) on Christmas Day.

I'm now working on the hood, as shown in this back view.. I picked up the stitches for it while watching Patrick Stewart play Scrooge in our DVD of A Christmas Carol. Tonight we'll be watching Marx Brothers movies for New Year's Eve (a family tradition) -- perhaps I'll get the hood finished. Sheesh, this was supposed to be an autumn project, not a project that dragged on until spring. (All of those lace collars really goobered up my plans for autumn, you know.)

The American Girl-size Irish Dance dresses didn't get done for Christmas:

The next step is to sew together the bodices in order to see if I'm on the right track. Then I'll try making capes. Note that I bought some lace for the collars -- no, I'm not crocheting itsy-bitsy lace collars for these things. No, no, no. No more lace collars.

Other works in progress around the house: Rick re-painted the family room this week. It is now less pinky-peachy, and no longer looks like the set for The Golden Girls. He has a bit of trim work to do, and then that project is over. He was going to work on the brakes on my car this morning (Uncle Chelsea said he'd come over to instruct), but decided that doing brakes in an unheated, un-insulated garage in 20F weather wasn't really the thing to do today, so Midas did them last night.

And the kids are working on jigsaw puzzles. They're also steadfastly ignoring my suggestions that it would be pleasant to start the new year with their rooms freshly vacuumed; I expect this discussion to be ongoing and escalating in volume throughout the day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Now That Christmas Is Over

The temperature has shot up into the 60s, and it's raining, raining, raining. A river is forming in our back yard.

The kids have put together all of the Legos, Thalia has put together the Ravensburger Puzzleball Globe, and they've now moved on to making small motor, batteries, and generators with science kits. Rick has been organizing paperwork and painting woodwork. I've been knitting, sewing, and scrapbooking (due to a sudden inspiration to actually finish the scrapbook I'd been making of Christmas 2007 before ordering prints of Christmas 2008).

We have plenty to do inside, and several days to enjoy a more relaxed schedule.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Some Highlights

Mark and Linda came over on Christmas Eve. We had a nice dinner, read the Christmas story, and opened some gifts.

They had come bearing gifts of American Girl outfits

and light sabers.

This morning was the Big Event. My gosh, I thought the house was going to explode with all of the secrets.

And indeed, it did.

Some highlights:

A softie Thalia made for AnnaBeth:

A felt ornament AnnaBeth made for me:

Flannel jammie pants the girls made for Rick (way too baggie, but that's the great thing about jammie pants):

And a potholder Thalia made for me, lined with cotton batting and Insul-Bright (pattern from Sew Simple):

The day has been spent assembling Star Wars Legos and watching all 6 DVDs, occasionally acting out the light saber scenes.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Christmas Around the House

You know that giant map of the United States we have on our kitchen wall?

I took it down and put up this instead:

I got the idea from Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight -- a homeschool blog that is mind bogglingly creative.

I pounded straight pins into the wall and tied red ribbon to the pins. The cards are either simply folded over the ribbon, or else clipped on with binder clips.

A close up of a binder clip holding a card:

This is our favorite card, by the way, since it has both a black cat and the cardinal that this family always has on their Christmas card (they're huge St. Louis Cardinal fans). But don't worry -- the card you sent is our second favorite.

(And if you didn't send us a card, well, I'm sure the card you would have sent if only you knew our mailing address/had sent any cards out at all would've been our favorite.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekend Recap

Christmas! Times 2!

Yes, we've done Christmas twice so far.

We zoomed over to Indiana on Friday, where we got together with some of Rick's family for some holiday fun. We went to David's house, where we had a fantastic holiday meal (fajitas!), then opened gifts. After that we hung around talking, looking over Facebook flares for Twilight, and generally just being a family.

The cat was dressed as Santa. He did not want his picture taken.

As a matter of fact, none of the pictures I took that evening turned out. Which is really a shame, but we have our memories of the event. Also, the cat can't complain that I posted an unflattering picture on the blog, but the rest of the family can, so the cat is the only one with a photo.

We spent the night with Rick's mom and step-dad. Then we headed over to my parent's house for a meal-and-gift-exchange, scheduled early to avoid conflict with the Purdue basketball game.

As per tradition, Elaine brought crackers so we could have silly crowns.

One of the gifts we were working on last week was revealed as a bathrobe for Dad, made in Purdue flannel.

The photo of him modeling it suffered from backlighting issues, so here is our body-double posing in it last week:

We also gave out Girl Scout nuts as gifts

and more Girl Scout nuts as gifts

and more

When my sister opened her can of nuts (and you need to realize that we're missing a shot here of Mark and Cindy opening nuts, so there were even more than you're seeing) she sort of started losing it over the fact that our family has NO IMAGINATION with gifts, and just buys multiples of something and hands them out to everyone.

Then, as is our tradition, we went bowling. My parents live in a retirement community that has a bowling alley that we can reserve for just our family. It's really fun.

Dad has joined a bowling league, as a matter of fact.

After the Purdue game we spent the evening watching White Christmas.

We headed home on Sunday with a temperature of about 6F and winds of 30-40 mph. It was an interesting trip, blowing around the road, not wanting to stop and get out of the car for ANYTHING. But we made it home, the cats hadn't destroyed the house, and now we can finish preparing for our next adventures in Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Going to See a Man About a Horse

Specifically, an American Girl horse. Which is what they each asked for. Well, when they saw Santa the night before, AnnaBeth told him she wanted a rat. A real live rat, that is. We've tried to explain, though, that Santa has more sense than to bring live animals on Christmas day, and they should never, ever expect a new pet on Christmas. So when we got down to crunch time yesterday, ("okay, this is the OFFICIAL Santa visit, and we'll probably not talk to Santa again in the next week"), she reverted to what she'd been talking about for the last 10 months or so -- wanting an American Girl horse from Santa.

Of course, this isn't the real Santa. It's just some helper. Although the girls thought he was okay --he didn't get the designation of Polyester Beard Guy from them.

They saw the real Santa last year:

And what was so cool was that he remembered them from the year before (which, of course, helped prove he was the real deal):

What a hoot -- I just now noticed that AnnaBeth is wearing the exact same striped shirt in 2 of those photos. Sort of like it's her official Go to See Santa shirt. Really, though, it isn't. Here's proof -- the year before that she wore a jumper:

And the year before? They both wore jumpers.

And since we're on a roll, putting up old Santa photos, here's the year before that:

And the year before that:

At which point we are apparently in our pre-digital era, since I can't find earlier pictures on the computer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Work in Progress Wednesday

We have 2 separate parts for your reading pleasure: the knitting part, and the Christmas part.


Work continues on the Basic Chic Hoodie. I'm currently working on the second sleeve.

At this point it's getting pretty bulky to lug this thing around, given that it's knitted in one piece. Picture trying to sit in a swivel chair knitting this with it all piled in your lap. Now, picture a large cat trying to also sit on your lap while you're knitting. Not a pretty picture.

I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather endure an hour of sewing up various sweater parts (sleeves, front, back) than endure several hours of knitting a whoppin' huge one piece sweater. Heck, it's not even that convenient to knit this second sleeve in the round -- I have to continuously flip the sleeve back and forth to spiral around and around, since otherwise the sleeve would just twist more and more tightly.


Production continues on various Christmas gifts. If you typically get a gift from us, don't look at these pictures too closely, okay?

AnnaBeth has been sewing

and Thalia has learned to use the serger.

My jobs have been cutting out, ironing, pinning, and removing the afore mentioned large cat from the item they're trying to work on, since the fabric was a cozy alternative to my lap.

"I will deal with you later, lowly human."

I've also been doing some embroidery. I'm not sure if it will be done for Christmas.

That bottom piece has the design drawn out on Sulky. After I embroider it I'll tear away the Sulky, picking out all of the little bits with those tweezers up above. Then I'll need to embroider side panels, cuffs, and a cape. And sew it all together, along with bloomers. It will (theoretically) fit an 18 inch doll.

Our hostess for Work In Progress Wednesday is Mrs. H, who welcomes everyone to join in with any projects they'd like to show.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday, Christmas Edition

Christmas Around the House

The tree:

Closer look at tree skirt, with bonus cat:

The tree skirt was made years ago using an idea from Family Fun magazine. Everyone put a handprint on it that first year, including grandparents. Since then, Thalia and AnnaBeth put a new set of handprints on every year. They get a kick out of looking over the old handprints each time we get it out.

The fireplace tableau:

The black cat likes to eat the needles of the fiber optic tree.

The child clowning around in the reindeer-themed boxer shorts in front of the fireplace:

We also have little Christmas village pieces with moving parts. This one has a little train that goes into the house.

This is Black Cat's first Christmas at our house. It's been a busy season for her.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Recap

The weekend started with 7 dozen cookies. Thalia and I were going to work together to make them, but we decided to nix that idea since she was still sneezing quite a bit ("would you like bit of snot as frosting on that cookie?" eww!). We chose to use this recipe for oatmeal, cranberry, white chocolate chip cookies. I made 2 batches to get the 7 dozen I needed.

Thalia was also planning on going to a sleepover, but we also nixed that idea due to the remnants of the cold. Instead, Rick took the kids out for ice cream, then we curled up in front of a fire and watched Prince Caspian (again).

Saturday morning we took our cookies to church where the kids assembled dozens upon dozens of cookie trays -- about 30 platters of 7 dozen cookies each were transformed into mixed trays of 3 dozen each. The kids had a huge assembly line going, parents wrapped plastic around the finished trays, the pre-orders were labelled, and all the trays were quickly whisked away for sale on Sunday morning at $10 donation per tray. It was a great fundraiser for the kids; all the trays were quickly sold.

And Saturday afternoon was the Christmas piano recital. Both AnnaBeth and Thalia did a great job playing a mix of Christmas carols, Suzuki selections, and other pieces. Perhaps later today I'll figure out how to load a video.

Sunday Aunt Linda whisked the girls away for lunch, then the afternoon performance of This Wonderful Life, which is a one man show based on It's a Wonderful Life. We had watched the movie on Saturday as prep for the stage show -- I think that helped AnnaBeth follow the show better, since she therefore had a clue what was going on. Afterwards she took them out for dinner and discussion of the play.

And now we're snug at home. We're in the midst of an ice storm and the local schools are cancelled -- which typically means we'll get nothing done either, since if the neighborhood streets are at all passable all the kids in the neighborhood will be running back and forth between houses.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weekly Report -- Dec. 12

A quiet week insofar as actual schoolwork goes, but much activity in the realms of preparing for Christmas and blowing of noses filled in the gaps.

The concept:

Finish up current section of Life of Fred Algebra 1, then start on Teaching Company DVD of Algebra 1 as a mid-year change of pace. Use Christmas carols for Latin, Spanish and French study. For the Spanish Christmas carols, use Feliz Navidad by Anna Maria Mahoney, borrowed from library for this occasion, which comes with a CD. Latin and French can come from hymnal and Internet -- we'll just sing them.

The reality:

Thalia is sick with the cold I had last week. She asked to skip math since her brain is clogged with snot. And she is offended that the Spanish to English translations of the carols in the library book are not accurate: "Celebramos Navidad" obviously isn't the same as "Troll the ancient Yule tide carol" at the end of Deck the Halls. I consider an assignment in correcting the translations, but, frankly, I'm too busy with taking the kids to the dentist and dealing with the Girl Scout Fall Product Sale to really follow up on getting a sick kid to put in that much effort.

Instead, by Thursday Thalia and AnnaBeth are spending the day playing board games. Thalia works some on flashcards for her languages, but stops when she runs out of lavender cards, which are apparently the designated card for adjectives (where the heck did we get lavender index cards?). Thalia also works on making Christmas cards, while AnnaBeth focuses on making Christmas gifts.

AnnaBeth managed to complete 3 lessons of First Language Lessons Level 3. This means we have only 20 more lessons until the end of the book. I have no clue what we'll do at that point. I suggested that we spend the extra time on science and history, and she is quite enthused. And she completed 2 lessons of RightStart D, both on using gallon/half gallon/ quart measures. Today's lesson involves music -- whole notes compared to half notes and quarter notes. I expect it to be done with much rolling of eyes and complaints that it is soooooo easy.. Also, she completed Ecoutez-Parlez level 1, and is ready to take a break from French.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blue Christmas

The dance studio has a Christmas tree all decked out in blue and white (blue is our school color, I think perhaps in honor of St. Patrick, and also because it's the traditional color of Irish royalty). We've all been invited to donate ornaments. We always say what a cool idea that is, to donate ornaments, perhaps handmade, and then promptly forget the tree exists as soon as we walk out the studio door.

The other evening I dropped off AnnaBeth for a class and then headed straight to Hobby Lobby to buy some stuff to make Christmas cards. And, of course, I wandered over to the yarn and thread aisle because that's the part of the store that I ALWAYS gravitate towards, and I had more time to kill before I needed to get back to the studio.

And discovered that they now carry really luscious, thick wool felt. And all manner of Clover needle felting accessories, like these clever needle felting applique molds.

And I really, really, really wanted to play around with these goodies. Aha! How about buying some blue felt and making a Christmas ornament for the studio tree? Wouldn't that be a good excuse?


I got the snowflake applique mold and some of that awesomely thick wool felt. I don't own the swanky Clover needle felting tool -- I just have some very utilitarian needles purchased back before this craft got so popular -- or the swanky Clover mat -- just some old foam we've been using for needle felting for years and years. As you may suspect, the mold worked fine with what I had on hand:

So I stitched the edges together with some DMC Perle Cotton I had (why do I own a bunch of DMC Perle Cotton? It's been hanging around for years, and I don't really remember why I got it, but I knew it was in the bin with the needlepoint canvas and the embroidery hoops).

And found a bit of white ribbon from a bag of partially completed angels someone gave me (yes, I'm a popular drop off spot for half completed crafts -- go figure).

Our next hurdle will be actually remembering to take it to the dance studio and hang it on the tree. Gosh, I'd hate to forget to do that and have it hanging around here -- what a shame that would be, you know, having a cute little mitten ornament hanging on our tree ....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Work in Progress Wednesday

I carted my Chic Knits Hoodie along when we went to archery lessons last week. This is what I love about the archery lessons -- it's an excuse to sit around for 1.5 hours, knitting and chatting. Also, you can wear whatever shoes you want (we've never been involved in anything that didn't involve Special Flooring That Needs Special Shoes), so I like that, too. And it's really inexpensive. But I digress.

The point is that one of the girls asked what I was working on -- a scarf? And I said, no, it's the same sweater that I've been working on, and now I'm knitting the sleeve. I laid it out for her to see

and she gasped, "Wow! That looks like a real sleeve!" Not much you can say to that comment, is there.

Actually, I knit on the sleeve a while, then ripped back out everything I'd knit because I realized that I was decreasing too quickly and was going to end up with a wonky curve under the arm. Then I knit back out to where I am now, ready to start the ribbing for the sleeve cuff.

In the meantime, the kids are working on this year's Christmas cards, which are Christmas wreaths on a tan background.

They're punching circles out of various green paper using various paper punches we have around here, then gluing them on. I tried one, and ended up with glue all over the place. I also tried those little foam adhesives to get a more 3D effect -- I thought it looked cool, but was overruled on the basis that the raised bits would get rumpled and smashed in the mail. Also, Thalia's color sense tells her that these should be on a red background; but my errand-sense says that we'll get some red paper later tonight, not right now, so go ahead and work with what we've got.

Also, we have several stealth Christmas projects going right now which we're not posting photos of.

And, hallelujah, the last of the Trophy Nuts will be delivered tomorrow morning, thus ending the Fall Product Sale, for which I was troop coordinator -- a role I volunteered for mostly so I wouldn't be asked to do anything with the cookies (I hate the cookies). It hasn't been that complex, but was just one more thing to have strung out all over the house, what with all of the paperwork and boxes.

Some of us really like the extra boxes we got from it, though.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend Recap

St. Nicholas Day

We usually get ornaments or small craft kits.

This year was ornaments.

They're actually little Christmas stockings with cats inside.

Which set off speculation about whether we could fit our own cats into our Christmas stockings.

We can't.

Also, I made pillow cases for the kids.

They picked out the fabric themselves. AnnaBeth is rather consistent with her theme of cat fabric

On Sunday we started putting up Christmas lights.

We had to get them out of the boxes

and inspect them to make sure they still worked.

Lucky for us we have an extra helper this year.