Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Class Finale

Our co-op had its Spring Open House, and is Officially Over. Our class once again had a display table at the Open House, this time highlighting crochet:

from which you can see the fascination with the amigurumi bunny egg cozies (free pattern on the Lion Brand site, but you must sign up for a password to access it). Some of the kids made DOZENS of these, putting them over plastic Easter eggs with little treats in them, then distributing them for Easter. Then, one of the girls (the one with the largest army of bunnies) developed a sudden fascination with the crocheted roses at PlanetJune, and suddenly EVERYONE was crocheting roses.

Many items had been given away in the course of the year, and some of the kids opted to not display their stuff for whatever reason (given that Annabeth's amigurumi hamster wandered off in the course of the evening, probably in the clutches of some little kid, you can understand the reluctance to display some of the really cool stuff)(we eventually found the hamster in the lost-and-found).

The one suggestion I'd make if you're teaching middle-to-high school kids crochet or knitting -- besides bringing in magazines and books for project inspiration, take along a laptop or tablet and connect them with Ravelry or somesuch so they can browse free patterns. Given some of the content on Ravelry, you might want to browse with them to steer them away from some of the weirder stuff (for example, don't type in "american girl" and expect to only get innocuous pictures of stuff for dolls -- the phrase is used for other things, too). That's how the student ended up on PlanetJune -- she'd been looking through the author's book, saw the site address, looked it up online to see if the author had a pattern for a llama (she does, but it isn't free), and ended up finding the free pattern for roses.

By the way, the Totoros in the pictures were mine. I'd taken them along in case we didn't have much to put on the table -- I never know what the kids will think to bring, or if several will forget to bring anything at all. Another tip: lots of times they forgot their projects when they came to class, so it was good to have extra yarn and hooks so they could make some little something (roses! bunnies!) during the class time.

So, I'm glad that's over. Really, I've always thought I would loathe being a middle school teacher, and although I liked the kids in the class, I still feel that way. Too much drama.

We thought this would be the end of our co-op experience, but we've decided to sign up for a couple of classes next year. Thalia will be taking Kinetic Physics there -- the teacher is a mom who was a mechanical engineer and is an excellent instructor. Annabeth wants to take the Shepherd's Life Science -- I've no clue about the program, but she thinks it will be grand. And when I asked what they wanted me to do, get this -- they want me to teach 3rd-5th grade science! YES -- the same grades as the Junior Girl Scout badge book! AND they have no preconceived notions of curriculum, so I have carte blanche, sort of.

Seriously, talking to the other moms, I think we're going to do Physical Science and maybe a little Botany. And the emphasis will be on things that are too messy, too smelly, too BIG to do at home. In other words, we're going to be throwing Mentos in diet coke, making Ooblek, cooking red cabbage for a pH indicator, and generally having a weekly science camp. If you have any gotta-try-it ideas, let me know.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Weekend 2011

Good Friday

Shopped for prom dress. I took along the Kindle so I could read drivel while Thalia tried on dresses. This also kept me from having to listen to weird people in the dressing rooms having weird conversations, although I was still aware enough of my surroundings to observe that if you're old enough to be going to the prom you shouldn't have to ask your mom to zip and unzip every. single. dress. including the ones with side zippers -- sheesh, most 6 year olds do a better job of dressing themselves. Thalia was stunned by the vapidity of the conversations this person was having in the dressing room. Anyway, we found a dress. Thalia can zip and unzip it ALL BY HERSELF LIKE A BIG GIRL. We felt pretty good about that.

Friday night we skipped Good Friday services because the weather looked crappy -- we decided to stay home and watch Chronicle of Narnia 1 instead, figuring it had much the same plotline. As we noticed all the tornado warnings cropping up we moved the party to the basement, which is carpeted plus has a television and microwave. We added popcorn, etc., and had something resembling a slumber party. No tornadoes in our neighborhood, thankfully, although I followed the airport saga on Twitter -- it was like watching a train wreck.


Thalia's first in-car driving lesson. Also, I traced a cut out a Burda pattern for an Easter dress for me. Then I decided I could zip it together OR I could have a sane weekend featuring things like sleep. I opted for plan B. Spent Saturday evening watching Chronicles of Narnia 2.


Early church, then home to clown around taking pictures. The Get Smart pose"

The "Hey, look, we're all mixy-matchy in our homemade pink/green/black outfits" pose:

(Annabeth's dress is one I made for her last summer for a wedding, and my skirt is one I made years ago before Eunice Farmer closed taking with it all of its cool fabric like this dotted stuff)

Also, an indoor Easter egg hunt since it was too wet to do it outside. But since it was inside we could have a soundtrack playing, specifically music from Narnia, particularly the overwrought stuff like "Arrival at Aslan's How". The Official Song of the Day was Regina Spektor's "The Call" which we all kept singing in falsettos, often changing the words.

Then over to relatives for the traditional Easter meal featuring the traditional peep cake:

and also lots of squirty whipped cream (always a necessity wherever we go):

We took our copy of Chronicles of Narnia 3, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, along, since Aunt Linda and Uncle Mark had never seen it. I think they might've preferred seeing it without us, since the one scene reminds all of us waaaaaay too much of Ghostbusters and we're apparently incapable of watching it without yelling out, "not the Stay-Puft marshmallow man!" Overall, though, a good movie, and we're particularly grateful Ben Barnes lost the dorky hair extensions and accent. It was fun to watch all 3 in a row on 3 successive nights.

Then the traditional game of Cranium. And home late.

Fun weekend.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Horse Fan Badge

Annabeth earned her Horse Fan badge last year after her troop went to Trout Lodge for the weekend and spent part of the time riding horseback -- we figured out what parts of the badge had already been covered in that adventure, she added in some research and reading, and she was done with the badge.

A new year brought new horse-loving girls into the troop, though, AND a mom who has owned horses all of her life and currently has 3 on her farm. So we did Horse Fan as a group. And, honestly, I think Annabeth would be fine working on this badge every single year, she enjoys it so much.

At the first meeting the mom brought in her saddle, crop, hay, bedding, etc., and talked to the girls. For the 2nd meeting on the badge, she arranged for us to come out to the farm when her farrier came to replace a couple of horse shoes.

I gotta tell you, this guy was fantastic. He showed how he cleaned and prepped the hooves, how he measured them, and then, yes, actually made the horse shoes while we watched.

He mentioned that you could get preformed shoes, but it's not nearly as cool to watch.

Fitting them on the hoof while they're still hot --simply watching on youtube would never do this justice, as you'd miss the smell:

He kept quizzing the girls on the parts of the foot and the horse in a genial manner, making sure they were actually learning about the horses and the process.

Definitely one of those events that leave you thinking, "Yeah, THIS is why we're in Scouts!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

Still in dress-o-mania sewing mode here, now working on Simplicity 2250 for Thalia's Easter dress. We found some really cute fabric at JoAnn's for this:

Sort of hard to tell what's going on with it on the hanger. I don't actually have the straps sewn on, the hem done, and a bunch of tedious little details taken care of, so no on-the-body picture yet.

The pattern was originally a contender for prom dress, but no more. If you look at the pattern envelope it looks as though it's sort of a cross-over bodice with all sorts of folds. Well, every stinkin' one of those folds is a meticulously marked and stitched dart, tuck, or some combination thereof. Also, the asymmetrical waistband is stitched with 5/8 inch seams -- it has as much seam allowance on the back as it has fabric on the front (why not 1cm, aka 3/8,seams to reduce bulk?). The 1 inch elastic in the upper back serves no elasticizing purpose I can discern -- just adds bulk to the seams.

The bodice is underlined AND lined, although the underlining pattern is actually the exact same as the lining pattern. I reflected on this and decided the 2 layers of lining-type fal-de-ral would be important with a sheer fashion fabric, since seams could show through. In our fabric it didn't seem necessary. Plus Thalia want to wear this to swing dances, which tend to be rather toasty affairs, so 3 layers of bodice (plus extraneous fabric from all the %^(*$ darts and tucks) seemed a bit much.

Thalia disliked the long ties in the back. Removing them would've made the top of the zipper possibly wonky. Plus I thought a center back invisible zip was sort of dippy, so we left off the ties and moved the zipper to the right side. Used the wider straps instead of the spaghetti straps (better for swing dances).

We also ditched the asymmetrical skirt -- on the pattern the right front and back has pleats while the left front and back has gathers. It struck me as silly, sort of weird-for-the-sake-of-being-weird. So out that design detail went, to be replaced by gathers all around.

Overall, much bulkier and dumpier than originally envisioned. Currently a strong contender for stupidest pattern I've ever sewn, what with the overworked bodice. Also, why did the bodice of Simplicity 2253 fit her almost perfectly straight out of the envelope, while size 12 on THIS Simplicity pattern need to be taken in over an inch in the bodice, and is STILL baggy? The styles are such that the fit should be similar.

IN the meantime, prom is a week from tomorrow, and no real clue as to what she's wearing. And no real time to shop, what with Holy Week and time-consuming Girl Scout stuff happening this week. Stay tuned to see how this turns out.

Edited to add picture, admittedly with shrug over it so you can't really see the bodice (which might be a blessing):

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quick Look Back at the Weekend

Okay, I didn't have a camera this weekend, and I didn't have a chance to blog until now, but I did want to mention the most inspiring thing that happened: pick up day for April Showers. It's a Girl Scout program that distributes bags to houses one weekend, then comes back the next weekend to pick up the bags that have been filled with personal care items -- you know, that stuff that SNAP (food stamps) can't purchase but you will be judged harshly if you don't own and use, like soap, toothbrush, deodorant, combs, etc.

So, Saturday was windy and cold, and it was pick up day. Yeesh. We went around our assigned neighborhoods, picked up all the bags full of stuff (some people included food). Went to someone's garage, out of the wind, to mark out UPC codes and count how many items we picked up (Juniors got over 400 items, Seniors had over 1000). Then took them to a shopping center where I saw the most amazing sight of the weekend -- out in the cold and wind, dozens and dozens of Girl Scouts and adults sorting thousands of items into packing boxes (supplied, I assume, by Allied van lines) and then loading the boxes into Allied moving trucks. Wow. Y'all, the weather was crappy, and these people definitely had more appealing things to do with their time.

IT WAS SO COOL to see so many people (and corporations) work on this.

Thalia ended up spending most of the day on this project, both picking up bags and sorting paper products (you can't buy toilet paper with food stamps). Admittedly, though, she still felt energetic enough that night to go to SLUH's one act plays (SLUH is St. Louis Univ. High School -- the same place that she went to the dance a couple of weeks ago -- apparently hanging out with the SLUH crowd is becoming a regular thing)

I know I complain about Girl Scouts a lot -- many, many MANY things the organization does drive me crazy. But this was a shining moment for our Council, something they get right.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Homeschool Report

The major news here is that APOLOGIA HIGH SCHOOL BIOLOGY IS FINISHED! And Thalia was running around rejoicing that she never has to use another Apologia science book again in her life. She thought it was often silly, and the author's writing style got on her nerves (his sins included using "poisonous" when he meant "venomous", and using superlatives when he should've used comparatives). On the bright side, all labs were done in a classroom setting, which meant that there were several dissection specimens to compare, not to mention that it didn't smell up our own house.

Also finished is High School Composition 1, which was based on IEW, a writing curriculum we have never used nor have much desire to use. Her final research paper was on space opera. I read through it, and will be interested to see how the teacher grades it.

Thalia is still working on Microsoft Office, Art, History and Lit. of the Ancient World, and Geometry. We're going to do a half credit of Logic when some of this other stuff gets finished up. She's done enough Phys. Ed. to count as a half credit -- which I think might be the most we'd put on a transcript -- learning about weight lifting, floor barre, yoga, and various other techniques used by physiotherapists.

In the meantime, Annabeth took her new bento box to co-op classes with her:

French toast (sprinkled with powdered sugar) cut into bite size pieces, a line of fresh broccoli, then layers of ham, cheese, and scrambled eggs. The butterfly is ham and cheese. Eaten with chopsticks. She was amazed at how much food was stuffed in the little box.

At some point in the past few weeks we finished Story of the World 4, the modern era. Depressing with all of the wars, but on the bright side I knew how to pronounce most of the names in the later chapters because I remember hearing them.

Annabeth has been working this week on her creative writing class project, so we've skipped work in Writing with Ease. She continues to work in RightStart Geometry and Life of Fred fractions. She's decided to start up Mango French again (Mango is an online program available through our library's website). And she's spent much of this week working on various Girl Scout badges covering science, small business, crafts, art, writing and social studies.

Plus piano, voice, dance and theater classes. But no actual performances, thankfully. Well, except choir, but that's not a major event.

So, onward into the weekend.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Weekend So Far

Friday night Thalia had a dress rehearsal for Clue down at Crestwood Plaza, so Annabeth and I took her there, arriving just as classes at The Clark Academy, which is located next door to the place we were going (Dayspring -- old Eddie Bauer store, and Clark is in the old American Eagle), were letting out. Many shouts of delight and "HEY, we haven't seen you guys FOREVER!" as we unexpectedly ran into Irish Dance friends. Fun.

And no trip to Crestwood is complete without a visit to Animegroll, which is just around the corner from Clark and Dayspring. Annabeth selected this bento box and bag for less than $3.50 each:

Catbus purse in the background from previous shopping trip to the store.

Annabeth and I spent much of the rest of the evening plotting lunches to out in the box. She made French toast on Saturday morning, and I think a piece is going in Monday's lunch with some scrambled eggs, ham and cheese, and broccoli. Or not -- who knows what inspiration may strike when faced with the blank canvas of the empty box.

Anyway, Saturday night was the actual performance, for which Thalia wore her Peacock Dress, Simplicity 2253:

Another look at it:

We left out the big ribbon clumps on the left shoulder, and stuck a bunch of peacock feathers on instead. Also added a spaghetti strap to the right shoulder for that extra feeling of security while playing World Map Twister with Colonel Mustard:

These 2 did the best job in the entire performance. I think they were trying to out-crazy each other.

Afterwards there was rejoicing backstage:

And then a trip to Ted Drewes -- several hundred other people had the exact same idea:

The less glamorous parts of the weekend featured picking up thousands of sweet gum balls from the front yarn so we could sort of drag a lawn mower through it. Thousands more still need to be removed. Ideally one of tonight's predicted storms will down one of the trees (ideally plunging it deep into that area of zoysia grass that's creeping over from the neighbor's, and killing both tree and grass-- both sweet gum trees and zoysia grass really need to be banned from planting around here).

And tonight -- beginning on an Easter dress.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Friday night: SLU High School Sophomore Spring Semi-Formal

Thalia went with a friend of hers who claimed his mom was forcing him to do this. I think his mom was pretty smart to insist -- most kids this age are fairly clueless about how to take a date to a dance, and therefor this is a great time to learn because everyone is just being awkward together. Better now than at age 25 when everyone else seems to have figured it out already.

Thalia had fun. She noted that it was the first time she'd been to a dance with such a high percentage of guys (SLU is an all-male school, so it was a one-to-one ratio). She also commented that her escort could give lessons in chivalry to other guys, what with the wrist corsage, the holding open of doors, etc. etc. I need to tell his mom that.

Saturday morning: make up class for Clue.

I had gotten Thalia's Mrs. Peacock dress nearly done by then -- Simplicity 2253 by Jessica McClintock :

We're trying to balance slapping it together because it's a one shot costume, and actually doing a decent job so people don't think I haven't any idea how to sew.

They needed a makeup class because the teacher had gone to Great Britain for spring break and had trouble getting back into the U.S. Not to be confused with all the kids in our church's youth group who went to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip and had trouble getting back into the U.S. Or Thalia's science teacher who went to Italy for spring break and had trouble getting back into the U.S. All had different reasons for the hitches, but, really, what a weird sequence that for 3 days straight we were hearing about people missing flights, getting delayed, etc.

Anyway, the show is next week, and Mr. Body hasn't memorized his lines. This may seem to not be a problem since he is mostly a dead body, but, really, IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. So Mr. Body came over to our house Saturday afternoon to work on lines with Thalia.

SIDE NOTE: The show is April 9 at 7pm in the Dayspring at Crestwood, which is very near Clark Academy (that is, east end of Crestwood). TIckets are $6.

That evening Thalia and Mr. Body went to a Teen Trivia night (this was NOT a date, okay?). Their table won, which was pretty cool

In the meantime, Annabeth had gone to a Bronze Award meeting at a friend's house. And the mom suggested (ahead of time) that whoever wanted could spend the night. So, of course, Annabeth spent the night since she's now at the age where that's the coolest thing possible to do, especially with this group of friends.

Which all added up to Rick and I having a Saturday night to ourselves! Woot!

Sunday: Ballpark Luncheon and Silent Auction Fundraiser for Thalia's choir, which is going to Colorado in June.

Although most of the items in the auction were Cardinal-related, we ended up winning tickets to a Bach Chorale performance, and also a set of voice lessons for Thalia. Rick is somewhat bitter about missing out on the Cardinal tickets for the Saturday before Easter. I'm hoping the weather will be crappy that day so he doesn't keep going on and on about it. Crappy weather is a definite possibility ... remember how we were having a mini-blizzard last weekend so everything ended up cancelled? Today it was 90F with high winds. Gack.

In the afternoon Rick took Thalia out to teach her how to rotate tires on my car. Did I mention that she has her learner's permit now? So she's learning all about cars, and hopefully now has somewhat of a clue how to change a tire.

Now the weekend is winding down, and we're checking to make sure the basement is ready for if/when the tornado alarms sound later tonight. The past 50 hours have been pretty busy, and I'm ready to conk out.