Wednesday, November 30, 2011

mom sleeps here...and crochet knit slippers

Asleep on my pillow and blanket, waiting for me to come home from work

I have today and tomorrow off, now - to try to continue to get over this cold. Esme still won't keep her blankets on at night *growl*... I might have to make her a sleeping bag type thing. Her sleepers still fit, but she finds them hard to unzip, pull down and pull back up. Last year it wasn't an issue, but happily she has learned to use the potty by herself this year.

I was working more on our queen size quilt last night. It has quite a bit of the way to go - but two sides are bound, the batting is in and half of another side is bound as well. Then I'll need to do some internal line sewing to keep the batting from moving around and give it a good wash before we can use it. It is made of scraps and a cut up sheet for the backing and lots of canvas and heavyweight upholstery fabric for the top. I made it a few years ago but never put the two halves together. In other crafting - I've made a new pair of crochet slippers to wear around the house. It is such an easy pattern I've written it up below for the curious and adventurous.

I have a bid on Ebay for some vintage circus animals. I hope to win it for Esme's
Christmas gift. 'The animals are coming.' ;) We are thankful for her having so few wants as was illustrated during our grocery run today - kids screaming from one side of the store to the other while ours plays 'drums' on the chicken noodle soup cans and the orange juice and is just disappointed but understanding that we will not go look at the toys. We know that can change at any moment... but are thankful for it as it is now. I hope we won't have to go out and do a lot until Friday now...

Crocheted slippers with knit tops:
what to need: "large" crochet hook, size L or so. 2 balls of wool or acrylic yarn, about 1 full skein and one half skein. One set (4 or 5) of size 3 double pointed knitting needles. I have women's size 10 feet.. so you may get out with much less yarn investment ;)

Join a circle of about 10 stitches and crochet an oval round as large as the heel of your foot. To crochet an oval, enter in your increases mostly on the two ends, while crocheting straight on the sides. When the oval is as large as your heel stop and start crocheting back and forth across one side of the oval making increases only in the center of the top of the oval. This will produce a 'fan' out which will create the ball of the sole of the foot. If you wish the slippers to be 'handed' increase more on one side than the other as you approach the toes - and use your foot as a guide to achieve the proper shaping. Don't shortchange yourself - add a bit extra because the stretch in crochet is not as much as in knitting. You should have a shape like this when you are finished.

sole on left, shown 'non' handed, can be right or left
slipper shown from side as well, with joining 'strap' shown between black dots

Once you have a sole, use a needle and thread to close the center of the oval up good with yarn stitches. Then, crochet all around the edge of the entire sole. Crochet up about an inch or so to make the body of the slipper, which is a 'bowl' for your foot to sit inside. Next, we will make the top of the foot.

See the black circles on the drawing, about halfway up the sole on either side, a little back towards the heel side. As you are crocheting around the edge, stop at one of these dots. Now we will straight chain 6 to 10 stitches. Use your foot as a guide to know how big to make this chain, as it will stretch to the other black dot and make the top of your slipper.

Once you have made this chain and joined to the other side, you will no longer be working on the 'heel side' for a while. Stitch around the top of the foot and spiral inwards reducing stitches on the 'toes' area of the foot but trying to keep the chain you just made about the same size for a few rounds - and then reducing finally in a spiral circle all the way to the center. This is a lot easier than it sounds in text. Don't worry about it being 'tight' to your foot yet, as we will add a little bit of knitting for that!

You might want to make a few rounds of crochet all around the edge of the strap and the heel just to get a little more height on it. Then, it is time to break out the double pointed knitting needles. See the ridged striped red area in the drawing? Cast on all of the stitches you can across the strap and all of the heel. Knit a rib by increasing both a knit and a purl stitch (forward and backwards) into every crochet stitch you have picked up. This will double the stitches but the dpns are so much smaller it will even out. Knit this rib pattern up about 2 inches and bind off in a rib bind (k1, p1 as you bind). It will be a great slipper that hugs to your foot but isn't terribly tight!

The actual finished product
I've been using them since they were finished, so there is a lot of cat hair there already...

I used two colors of wool that were left over from a while back. They are KnitPicks highland worsted weight. I was trying to conserve yarn so I stopped somewhere in the top of the foot to make sure I had enough for the other one - and finished up in the other color after doing the knit edging.

Monday, November 28, 2011


This morning when Esme woke up she told me the animals were coming, all the animals were gone but they were coming back later. She kept telling us this, and I thought she meant the animals from Dumbo's train. I said they could come at Christmas, and she said that Christmas was all gone. I said it was coming again, in (about) 21 'morningtimes' and counted them out for her. She got all excited and agreed YES, yes little Mama, the animals are coming later, at Christmas! Christmas come later!' Her ideas of time and other things are starting to develop more and more...

This morning I am still sick. I came home early from work yesterday as my ribs hurt a little bit. We have been told a half-day does not count against us as a call-in does. Yesterday when I was putting on my shoes to go to work she asked me 'Where you are you going?' I told her to work, because they did not like it when I did not come. She replied 'No, No go to work later. You are sick. Daddy take you in the truck with Esme and Daddy and Mama in the truck... later!' She holds up that one finger like this is a great idea for the ages... *haha*

If the pain and other sign had continued until today I would have scheduled a doctor appointment. However, I've had pneumonia about five times before - and know when they will tell me to go home and rest and when they will prescribe medication. Without certain 'signs', they will just say to go home and take OTCs and rest - trying to only use the antibiotics when really necessary (good thing). Preparing to go back today - try to limp through until Wednesday, which is my next day off. Mark is starting to feel badly and has started sneezing with gusto. Esme seems 80% better and is not (cross fingers) hacking up anything.

I put orange/honey glazed chicken bits in the oven and am about to get them out and share it with Esme. I let her taste a drop of the honey and she said it was VERY good, (after saying it looked yucky). I told her bumblebees made it, and she said 'I like the bumblebees, they do a GOOD job.' She has eaten nearly all of her chicken, telling me it is like the porkchop. Daddy often glazes the porkchops in a similar fashion.

She is enjoying the puppies quite a bit. They are all downstairs now. Several of them think they belong to us - different ones to different people.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

bits of dreams while sick

// Note for self: I was letting Esme look through a mail catalog of toys to see what she would pick out - and she picked out a huge container of markers and paper. That wasn't what I had in mind - but we said we would write a letter to Santa Claus about it and see. She still has her birthday gift from Nana to spend and that sounds like a good thing to spend it on.

When I am sick I have even odder dreams than usual. There were a few 'beautiful' pieces in the dreams last night. I was going through an art supplies store (common theme as I used to work in one) and looking for materials - pan to a studio where a man is looking at a mosaic type painting that seems to be just geometric hexagons with pretty colors... he takes a last drink from a small cup and throws it on the floor - of which I am breaks onto the floor and he says 'the light - it is broken.' Wait, he means the painting. Look up at the painting again and realize it is a painted desert rock formation - looking straight up from laying on the ground. The light, it is broken across the faces of the rocks... and I did not see it is as anything but 'flat' before. // pan to a city that has been submerged and is now exposed again.. everything has mud on it. There are plants On the other side of what used to be a street, growing out from between two stories - I am trying to water them with a hose. My coworker says she will meet me on the other side and we can plant seeds on the rooftops where the mud is thick. I am trying to find a way there but get lost in the rooms inside of a place that seems almost untouched. I wonder if I am in the past or the present. I find myself in a hallway room with a mirror, and a bright orange door that opens the wrong way to my left - if it is opened the hallway behind me will be blocked and I will be trapped in the room. I try to turn on the light, and realize this place has been underwater - the lights don't work.. how stupid. I don't want to open that door, worry whatever is hiding inside is dead. Flee.... // I am sharing apples with Esme and save the seeds and want to plant them to get seedlings - plant the seeds in the garden behind my mother's house, the front of which has become a mud flat in the flood.... the apples are so good want to save some for the future, know apples don't really work that way, still going to try, get told out the window (like my mom used to do to me there) that my 'brother' has arrived and wants to see us... wait, who is this? I don't know this person at all. He is tall and pale and thin with a blonde/brown beard... my father has no other children and my real brother (mother's son) is tall, thickly built with black hair and beard....this is not who I thought she told me I was going to see

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An atypical Thanksgiving

For this Thanksgiving, we are thankful, but our family get together has been postponed for quite a while. Esme and I are still sick, and Grandpa Henry is still in the hospital in Memphis. Grandma is lonely, but worried about bringing more germs to Grandpa - so we agreed everyone would just spend the day at their houses and do whatever we would normally do.

Esme and I did one of her crafts from the kit sent by Elizabeth and Emily. She really likes them with her Elmer's Glue. We have several finished projects up on the refrigerator, as well. She was a bit upset at this one that the picture showed orange spots and there were no orange spot stickers in the package with it. I told her to use her orange marker to make some spots and she went to town on it - observing each spot and telling me some of them were not spots.. they were something else, a letter 'c'.

I am organizing some of my thoughts and projects into what may be a book in the future. It will not be anytime soon... but it is started. Mark's Aunt keeps telling me I should write one about all the things made for Esme during her life. I think it should be a bit more than that - everything we make, with some simple patterns or instructions to encourage other crafters to break these skills down to their elements - create based on what they need, and to not fear striking out into uncertain territory when trying to make something. That, after all, is the way everything was first made - someone saw a need and devised over time their own best way to make that necessary item. As mentioned, it is a bit too much material but I hope to winnow it out into something publishable. I have been approached to make a book of toy patterns before - but never felt I was ready to give people 'directions.'... I'd rather give them a starting point and a method to find their own directions, to learn the essence of making. I have probably set my sights too high as well as covering things that have already done. I know I'm not the only one who does this and thus, am not discouraged.

Made 'turmeric milk' last night to try to kick my cold out of my chest. Now it is still in my sinuses, but my throat hurts much less. I might have to do that again tomorrow.

What I had put together:
2 cups of milk
can of cream of chicken soup (this was not in the original recipe but seemed right)
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
several grinds of pepper
shake of cinnamon powder
tablespoon of ginger
tablespoon of curry powder including turmeric and fenugreek 'Hot Madras' style

Heated that on 3/10 for about ten minutes, drank half of it - went to bed for about five hours. Woke up, reheated it, drank the rest, went to bed until morning. I didn't cough as much for the night. In the morning, took a vapor bath and coughed up a good deal of 'junk' and felt better. My nose is running now, though. The garlic is a natural decongestant.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

bits of both sick

She looks much better than she did...
asking me if she can take her jingle bells to her room

She definitely does not have anymore what I call the 'classic sick look' she shares with her Daddy... they both get this odd pale around their eyes and forehead when they are truly sick and don't have energy etc etc...

I have what Esme has, hopefully it will pass before Friday. She seems to be getting better, with a cough that isn't as deep or hoarse as it had been a few days ago - but it is turning into a laundry nightmare. She is eating more before she goes to sleep, and has (I should never have said she had not peed the bed for a month in a previous post!) peed the bed two nights in a row and also last night woke up coughing and threw her soup up on her pillow. And yes, she seems to be getting better... just losing control of a few things but I won't worry terribly about that part unless it continues for more than a few days or gets much worse. Now my throat is hurting and has 'hard' scrapy feeling stuff in it. I stayed home from work for the first time in a long time - hope it won't count against me. My theory is if they want me on Friday they had better not have me today.

Esme has been talking in a lot more complicated ways again. I had her toy bus tell her she needed to drink juice one day and she pointed at her cup and said 'But, I don't have any!' That was the first time I had heard that. She has been using things she heard in cartoons like 'you stole it, give it to me' when she has left something elsewhere and 'this will do the trick' and pulling on something she wants. I have to try to model those properly, I don't like the blaming everyone else for 'stealing' things she has forgotten or misplaced. There were a few other interesting 'complete' combinations as well. The one thing I really find missing from her vocabulary is 'why'. I can think of maybe two or three instances at all where she has asked 'why' and it was a pure copy from a cartoon to something happening strangely 'Why you do that?' When I ask her just 'why' or even 'why did you..' she usually stares at me and looks confused or ignores me because I should just know? She does often ask 'how', and 'what is...'. I know I'll get more than my dose of the 'whys' soon....

There are other odd combinations she has come up with like 'I have a piece a left a story' when she wants me to read her more than I had intended. Everything is 'have to have three kisses' and 'have to have three robots' and by this I thinks she means all three of us have to do it - not three times.. but sometimes she doesn't even know what she means. She told me downstairs last night that she saw monsters in her sleep, monster animals, and that she became a 'bird Esme' and flew and scared them. I had her tell me that one twice, and that was definitely what she meant. Other times the second time around she will say something that makes more sense. I think she has been watching and absorbing some of Daddy's dragon killing video game - it has a bird's eye point of view and he kills wolves and bears and lions as well as dragons. She keeps telling him he is doing a good job and to 'be careful' and to 'get outta there, it looks dangeroous'.

'doctored' elephants
She swears these are 'help' not hurt

This sort of 'find' is common around here - she said the elephants have to be more careful will fall down need a doctor get squished. The elephants in Dumbo fall down 'get squished' and are wrapped up in bandages and have ears/trunks in slings etc... Esme always pays close attention to that scene and tells me about each thing that is 'fixed.'

I was sewing a binding edge onto a queen size quilt I made a long time ago but never finished - repeating how I bound Esme's bambi quilt the other day... and she asked me if I was gong to knit her a dress. I said I was making a mommy and daddy blanket and she said ooooooooh gonna tuck you in. Hearing her describe what is going on in Transformers and other shows she watches is hilarious. She brought me two cardboard boxes yesterday that she had been earlier wearing around the house as shoes. She said 'we are robots, we share Nee-john cubes, here have some, we eat, we are robots' Energon cubes, from Transformers. *facepalm* When she is interested in something, she does things like this that make me just want to bury my head in something and laugh where she can't see me.

counting 'take three pictures' on her fingers

Mark and I both wish she would calm down a little more, at least while she is sick. She still constantly runs around the house and turns circles on the floor and knocks things over (blaming us or the dog) etc etc....finally somewhere around midnight she will settle enough to actually fall asleep. Mark says he knows they would classify her ADHD and give her Ritalin in a school. The clincher to that is : she does all of this when Mama is involved with something else, like sewing the blanket binding, and Daddy is playing his game etc... When Mama gives her an activity she likes and does it with her - she focuses to no end, zooming in on tiny details and making ME follow rules etc etc.... It is getting her to shift gears from 'amuse thyself' to 'play with me' that sometimes is still hard... Sometimes out of resentment that I have not played her games for hours she will instead read to the dog or go blow bubbles or anything other than playing what Mama is now offering. Stubborn four year old, and yes 'monkey see, monkey do' does apply to that as well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

time cost benefit game and quality in handmade

with Esme sick (although she seems better again than yesterday and fell asleep in my lap a few minutes ago) I am getting ranty.... don't worry, the pictures and projects will continue at a later date. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to make, and why, and how for the coming winter...

read this article by Somer The true cost of handmade. Loved the article, and the comments that followed. And it is true - handmade costs more simply in the time factor, the knowledge, the doing it over again and again after you have figured it out the first time. It is the love and the cost factor of what else you could be doing - if your goal is to make money at it. Many people can't afford to buy those things - but it doesn't make the product any less worthy. It just makes that particular microeconomy (handmade high end) a little slower until other people can afford to buy more of what they see and want over what they need and are doing without. And many window shoppers will just want to see your item so they can make it themselves... I am often guilty of that myself, but never to the artist's face. Nothing made in 'inspiration' will ever be the same as the item you made originally. If someone does not want to pay the price for that item - it is 'ok'.. they don't have to. There are stores that sell mass-produced items - and those items are far less expensive in cash wise, but far less rich to begin with in many other ways.

Now, I want to say something about that, as well. I do really enjoy making what I can for our household. It is nice to look around (like yesterday's post) and count up the items in use that are handmade. Mark and I count the materials for these things, when bought, as an investment, just as we count Esme's books and my sewing patterns as investments for the future. The one thing I don't count for my own 'goods' is my time, but am often told that I should. I see that I am gaining two (and a half) large benefits by making the item myself...

1.) The Time Cost Benefit Game: I do not have to spend time finding an item that is what I want, at what I will pay for it, that fits and does it's job. I don't 'like' shopping finished goods.... it's not fun for me. For many people it is. When I carefully select materials and a project, a lot of the game is now 'my job' - to make it fit, to make it do what it is supposed to, to keep the materials cost within that window of what I would pay.

When there is something that I really need to purchase - like shoes, that game of 'where can I find what I want, that will last 'x' amount of time, and do I have the time today to look for it? becomes a chore and a hassle. I have to decide when time is running thin do I want to keep looking in this store or go home and play with Esme? Do I have the luxury of waiting to find what I want or do I have to settle for this object in front of me? I hate that game. It gets even worse when there are dressing rooms involved. Add a toddler into that game and I don't want to play at ALL. I'm glad I don't have to for most things. Now all of that sounds like I'm very 'picky' and even finicky... well, when I have to buy something to fill a need like toddler shoes, yes- I am picky. Now when Esme receives a pair of shoes for Christmas and they fit, it is a whole different ideal. It removes the time issue entirely, all of the social choice of 'time at home' or 'time at store' There is the warm fuzzy thought that someone else put their time into the choice, even if the item is secondhand. I do like perusing secondhand stores, book sales and flea markets with Esme by my side, finding little treasures and sometimes even materials to remake into other things. When we are doing this as an activity it is 'fun'.. but it is not something I seek to do by myself. Maybe that is the nomad in me... I will have to return to that part of the paradox later...

2.) Workmanship and Quality: I can pick good quality materials, and not settle for what is already made. I can take extra time to reinforce things. If it comes down to it, I can repair a seam or a button when it comes off and even put the buttons in a place that is more ergodynamic. I can arrange this pattern so that the dress lasts a year, although it might be on my third try. I can and do make several versions of the same item, time and materials willing, to solve problems of fit, design, etc.... When the shirt from the store gets a hole in it at three months old and starts ripping at the seams at four months old... there is no reproach for that except replacing it. And to decide to take it to the bench and make it myself, make it better or... play the game above. I really wonder where the idea of quality is going - but I understand that I am part of the problem as well, because I will not often pay for high quality. Few of the 'high quality' items I have ever paid highly for have delivered on their promise (except for that one sweater in high school... ) For this point I will add that is the reason I usually buy my clothes secondhand or on clearance. If the secondhand item has existed several years of someone else and ended in this condition - it is probably of decent quality. If it is on clearance, the investment has been reduced.

2.5) Enjoyment of Accomplishing the Task: I can only count this as half because it is half joy and half worry. I worry that I spend too much on the materials, or that it will not work as well as I want, or that I really needed to make this two weeks ago and am just now getting to it.... But the joy really makes it worth continuing.

So, yes I do really respect other people's patterns and crafts and art -- but I'm not a good supporter of that art economy. If I could do more barter and trade (like the early days at Etsy, before the CPSIA for lead-testing included handmade toys that never had lead to begin with etc. came out) I would be more interested in buying other art again. Right now I can afford to browse the patterns and buy one when I really need it or feel it is too good to pass up etc... And I will buy fabric and yarn when something really strikes me and I have the spare money to add to my stash... but mostly it is about making what is needed and wanted in our lives, getting ideas and/or playing the Time/Cost game to go find what we cannot make. I am really glad there are places like Etsy and Ebay to go peruse for these supplies and ideas, and that other artists are able to take the time and love and materials to produce complicated things for sale there.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

rant from the non-pattern following knitter (and more)

//Esme does seem to be feeling a bit better, still coughing... but I'm putting liquids and soup into her. I'll be keeping her home tomorrow with me tomorrow when Mark and Grandma go to Memphis.///

I do still knit... although most of the time it is washcloths and dishtowels - just because they are easy and always useful. Then there was that pair of gloves last year that have still proved extremely useful,Esme's sweater jacket, my knitted wool vest, both of our scarves and hats, a pair of slippers for me (one for her she never liked) and half of a pair of knee-high socks for me (still working on the other one bit by bit). It does feel nice to have things that are 'mine' through and through - I made them and I use them etc.

I was just out and about the internet looking for other things that could be similarly useful. It is getting hard to get excited about any of the patterns -- mostly because I don't follow them. I only use them for inspiration and rewrite what I actually knit into 'pseudocode' like the crochet hat below. I really love wool as a working material, but use more of the items made of acrylic and cotton... There was a belt I made on a doorframe back in Fargo way back when - of Norway Svale and wool over a base of cotton warp (weaving) - and I am still wearing that belt once in a while now. I wonder if there is any stitch I could knit and out of what material that would be as durable.

Saw these patterns out there that are quite inspiring:
  • Apis Dorsata at Knitty 'Deep Fall' 2011 .. nice texture on an otherwise simple and functional shape.

  • Potter craft hooded scarf, too much texture but the shape might be useful. The hooded scarf I made last year had one drawback - it is made of wool and needs to be washed now. And, I hate to wash the wool. I should have used superwash! Oh well.

  • really cute octopus toy, ok it isn't 'useful' but it is darn cute.

  • Amanda Lilley designs : very nice knee high pattern and a few others, too.

  • Yarnigans toy patterns: I love the Marisol the mouse pattern, and Esme does, too. She asked me: 'You will build me a mouse?'

things on the needles still:

  • that second knee-high sock

  • a garter stitch blanket that is about 5/8 done and in no hurry.. it is a fill time project. I do wish it didn't keep my circular needle hostage, but apparently not enough of a wish to work faster or get another one.

  • almost always a washcloth somewhere.. I have one on the needles now that is essentially done, but not tied off

  • A scarfy thing in off-white acrylic... I'm playing with a few textures on it but not committed to anything. This is the 'project' that made me wish for something more useful yet not 'complicated and requires a pattern' to work for.

I also picked up a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac at a booksale a while back... paging through it. I identify with her pattern writing style 'pithy instructions' et al...

Knitting Pseudocode: I made up this term back in 2000 or so to describe what I 'think' in knitting that is nothing like how actual knitting patterns are written. It takes knowing a little about how things are structured but doesn't require following anything line for line - where I tend to get lost in the trees and lose the idea of the forest. Hopefully the way my patterns 'skip ahead' assuming the knitter has a 'whole picture' in mind doesn't lose someone else who requires that detail. But, then.. that is what the 'usual' patter system was designed for. My worsted weight gloves pattern (at sovereignit) is a perfect example.

The crocheted skull cap hat in pseudocode : found a sizeable ball of acrylic in my collection and a size K crochet hook. Crocheted a chain of seven and then joined it, crocheted around increasing by crocheting two in one stitch every four to six stitches... really felt my way did not follow any pattern with it at all - made it 'round' to fit the top of my head, then stopped increasing and just crocheted straight around until it came down over my ears. Perfect hat. I've had several people compliment it on the way in and out of work already... it looks simple but useful.


It has been a whole week since I brought Esme and Grandma up to Hazel. Can you believe that? I am having trouble wondering where all that time went. I worked all week... *sigh* I was feeling really stressed out, lots of little things building up including a lot of changes/demands/general chaos at work etc... And then Esme started to develop her cough. I stopped on the way home last night and picked up strawberry applesauce, juice she likes and eucalyptus vapor bath for her. I have today and tomorrow off to try 'Mommy medicine' on her and see if it helps. Then the chaos begins again.

Admitting the stressed out trend to Mark helped some in itself. There are several families at work that have had recent catastrophes - terrible things, and I was trying to convince myself that I didn't 'have the right' to be stressed in the face of such other tragedies. But, well... yes I do. I need to try to equalize it a little before it turns into a larger tumbleweed down the line. And I am trying. Mark met me at the door with food and coffee that night after the late shift... before I had even admitted I was stressed... which helped a lot. *thank you*

Seasonal stress on top of regular work stress and my-baby-is-sick but-I-have-to-be-at-work mama hen stress... have to step back and settle down and try to prioritize. Not shove under the carpet, just set my mindset straight. I have felt for the past month (and the new work demand schedule didn't help AT ALL) that things were slowing down at work and becoming a latent source of worry... people just aren't biting that fish, they are waiting until after the holidays. And then they go and release a 'demand schedule' on us (not their words,can't use their words) of things we have to meet and when. *growl* Oh well. I can't do that, it is a pipe dream and it isn't even mine - so... no dice. But, there are other things in my life that I'm worried about I can make progress on. That is where I need to focus.

Some small accomplishments this week that made me feel a little better: crocheted a hat that fits me very well. It was a small thing but something I saw was needed and it helps to see a need and fill it. Now, Esme can have last year's knit hat to herself that I did find in the junk box. Washed Esme's warm coat and it is ready for any further outings. Fixed the dog water dish that was overflowing - the valve had been installed inside upside-down and it just took a little tools and fussing to get it right. Then the hose needed to have the clamps taken off and put back on tighter... now no leak. I'm working on a few other little knitting things but nothing that will be done soon. Wondering what else I can give Esme for food or drink that might make her feel better - trying to "stress" to her *ha* to stay in my bed under my covers and watch some tv instead of running around like a little maniac and/or hanging out near the puppies. She is watching Aristocats right now.

Note to Grandma: Thank you again for the button up shirt for Esme's birthday, and the socks. They were both so very right for her.. she is wearing that shirt the past few days over her dress and it is keeping her warmer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

At 4 years old...

She holds up one finger and says 'No, later. Later. Right now go downstairs go pee, go bed LATER Daddy.' Ha. He says he doesn't know where on EARTH she could have gotten such an attitude from. 'Who, my dear woman, are you referring to? I haven't the foggiest idea...' She is very much interested in 'saving' her toys and being a doctor and a chef and a farmer... as well as a cat and a dog or a pig and a robot.

She wants Mama to read to her nearly every night, sometimes is waiting for me when I get home with lots of 'news' to tell me and games to play or crafts to do... She puts unblown balloons over her head while sitting in a large Rubbermaid bucket and says she is taking a bath. Oh help me, I'm getting wet! She still shoves blocks and small toys into her clothes and/or her blankets and pillows and we have to 'clean out your bed' almost every night before she goes to sleep. She builds huge walls across the floor now with her blocks, and is paying attention to different thicknesses of blocks to make the layers even. I thought that was really cool when I saw it, as it took a lot of 'No, Mama.. like this.' to play the game with her 'correctly.'

She will wash her hands but only with the cold water, and then cry because it is so cold... yet the hot takes so long to warm up it is hard to tell her to use both. She won't leave her blankets on at night... but at least she has not wet the bed in several months *cross fingers*. She still does not go to sleep until midnight and usually wakes me up at or before eight-thirty. That is better than it used to be.

She really despises that it is getting dark at five o'clock lately - tells me the power is out outside and it should not be dark because it is morningtime and she does not want to go to sleep. She does know about the sun and the moon - and it will be morningtime when the 'sun comes back.' etc... Still sometimes she thinks the light is something we can 'do', or maybe she just hopes maybe? She is not quite as scared of the 'brown bears time' as she used to be -- but still worries about it. She wants a flashlight to chase them away outside, and/or not to be out there. That was my intention with telling her the 'brown bears will eat us' outside after dark. That all started a long time ago, when we were playing outside at twilight and she did not want to come in - and there WAS something crashing and 'breathing' in the forest.... probably a dog or a deer, but she does not disagree that there are things out there and we can't see them after it is dark. Sometimes she does disagree that they are bears... says they are monsters or just isn't sure. She still cannot open the door to outside unless she isn't thinking about it... not sure why, glad she can't yet though most of the time.

She insists all of her cats are now named Snowbell, because of the cat in Stuart Little. Everything has to be 'find it faster' or 'do it faster' or 'come faster come on come on come on downstairs' etc... lately. I'm not sure where she got the concept of hurry up from... but she has it firmly. She can repeat any combination on the xylophone - and has picked out more songs she knows on it. She can write a few words at a time and most of her paintings of 'elephants and Patos and trucks and dogs' don't look like much, but sometimes they do. I think that might be on accident! She loves her watercolor paints and I feel confident enough to let her have it at the desk upstairs now, as the downstairs 'school room' is very cold right now. She was fascinated with Elly from Pocoyo until she saw the pink elephants in Dumbo... now she isn't so sure and Elly has stayed on a shelf since then. I bet when she watches more Pocoyo again she will love her and play with her again.

She will break out with 'You must sing your scales and your a-petigos...' or 'Everybody wants to be a cat, because the cat is the only cat who knows where it's at...' from Aristocats at any time of day or night. She remembers more and more all of the time, and sometimes has big crazy run-around-the-house-acting-crazy fits when we have said we are going to do something and it is 'tomorrow' or 'later' and she had set herself up to go do it RIGHT THEN.... very toddler still on that. She is starting to recognize plays on words - such as 'everybody wants to be a dog, because a dog's the only dog, who knows where it's OG.' Instead of telling me I'm wrong, she finishes my 'the Esme's the only Esme' with 'who knows where it's me.' HAHA. She wants to be 'just like Grandma' hanging up her coat on a hook and 'just like Mama' putting on coats and scarves, doing dishes and laundry and playing with yarn and fabric. Her copying is helping her want to read and write, as well - she sees me typing and she wants to be involved, she sees me reading mail, and wants to know what it says etc etc...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

garden is nearly done...

Live Wires by Yellowjackets. Heard a song from this on NPR and liked it. It is not often anymore I find music that I want to listen to.

It was cold outside today, in the 40s. The garden needed another look, so we had a reoccurrence of 'lawn gnomes'. I need to knit a new hat, though.. could not find last year's hat. (March 2011 lawn gnomes)

A ball that was outside and got lost in the brush, showed up again and Esme has been having fun with it again.

I caught this picture of her being 'run over' by this ball seconds later... but all you see is a ball and a foot..

When we were out in the garden the first thing she said was : 'Mama, your garden, it is all yucky.' All of the plants had finally died off in a frost. The beautiful zinnias and butterflies and green leaves of just last week were all brown and drying up. There were just a few tomatoes to be picked, a few beans that were ready to dry. And - there was sorghum. The red sorghum that was planted in July was hard and shiny - ready to be stripped and brought inside. I had to be careful not to cut my hands like last time, as I was doing it without a knife again.

I think it is gorgeous. However, it is probably going to end up bird seed in the middle of winter, what is not saved for planting again. If we had chickens, they would LOVE it. This variety is not good for syrup, but is supposed to be a good keeper for animal feed and producing very strong stalks for brooms and baskets. Future plans... learn to use it for more than just bird seed.

broom corn sorghum in a bucket

Our dog dish was leaking yesterday and I couldn't fix it. I turned it off and wrapped a towel around it. Later, Mark found Esme playing in the water leak in the 65 degree basement kitchen... and she was soaked. He changed her and turned it off again - *sigh* She seemed pretty 'ok' last night, one cough that caught my Mama ears. Then, she kicked her blankets off in the middle of the night and I didn't catch it until 6 this morning. Now she is coughing some more. I am hoping breakfast of chicken noodle soup will help some. I don't want a sick kid :( I should have put her in a sleeper when I saw the temperatures dropping.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

of beets and rutabagas and nurses

silver beet and cannellini soup recipe. This looks good.

Lima beans originated in the Andes (think Lima Peru) and also in Mesoamerica. I happen to really like Lima beans... I think I'm the only one around here that does ;)

There is beet and cannelini soup of my own making on the stove, not quite the recipe above, but apparently great minds think alike. Mine has some chicken in it. I have a rutabaga I was planning to combine with apples and make a soup - but that one will have to wait for a little while longer. With winter coming there are all these beautiful root vegetables asking to be used - I just wish they were from my garden, but no -- those did not do well and these are all from the store. I do like that they are cheap and keep quite well, and stretch very well into soup. Esme watched me peel and cut up the beet and said it was pink like strawberry... but she definitely knew it was a Mama food... Mark says he is surrounded by rabbits! More meat for him ;) I said.

Esme went to Jackson again with Grandma and Daddy to see Grandpa. He is going to Memphis now for another surgery. Esme got to watch the change a dressing on Grandpa's chest with the trainee nurses, who had a blast talking to her, and she told me all about it when I got home from work. She said the doctors had Grandpa and he had owies and the doctors helped to FIX it and Grandpa went with the doctors to fix his owies more. That was a pretty good explanation after Daddy told me what had happened in his words ;) She has been really interested in medical questions the past week. Further from that - she is watching the original Transformers shows now, and she is talking about the robots and they are breaking and shooting and flying and fixing etc etc... She stands on a chair with her arms out in front of her and says she is flying to save the robots. She has so much to say now that it is very amusing at times!

off to do laundry and stir soup...

//notes// soup turned out quite well:
1 beet, peeled and then cut into thin pieces
greens from beet, washed, plucked off vanes and torn up
about 1/2 cup cannellini beans, from dry, soaked overnight first
red wine vinegar
several pieces of chicken from the freezer
1 small green pepper
2 small tomatoes
pepper, salt, basil, garlic, dash of chili powder
about three to four hours mostly covered (vented side on cover) on 4/10 heat boiling with water until everything was soft

I had Esme eat a bit of beet saying it was a red carrot. They were sweet, but not quite as soft as she expected. She ate it, but didn't think it was great. She ate some of the chicken pieces out of the soup and thought that was passable.

I won the first grade reader on Ebay last night. 'the new We Three' It has Dick and Jane type stories (different names) and should be a fun durable hardcover for Esme to get some reading practice in. She is bringing me books more often now, although not all of them have words she can recognize and I hope this will add to the stack that does. There is also a book 'Telling Time with Big Mama Cat' that I have ordered with my sewing rec money. It has moveable hands on a plastic clock and Mama cat has 'appointments' for things she needs to do in the house at certain times of the day while her people are gone. I think Esme will like that.

I have several closing shifts this week... which means late nights and probably earlier-than-I-want mornings.... c'est la vie. I'll be tired by the time Sunday comes around (next day off)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

bits. trip, painting and more

The 'Christmas Lights dress'
altered McCalls 8001, circa 1961 size 5
skirt given two inverted pleats to each side instead of one in the middle

Below, it is easier to see why I say the print looks like Christmas Lights
It is the fabric she chose for herself.

Esme really likes her watercolors.
She says she is painting an elephant, after watching Dumbo.
It does kind of look like one!

The weather is extremely windy today - gusts up to 40 mph. It reminds me a little of Fargo. Except, we have trees here - so the wind should not be so high. It is worrying me slightly but the weather forecast says it is nothing more than wind.

Also: The Bambi quilt is nearly done.. just a little inner tacking to do.
Next: The coat. However, the lining and the collar are both 'halt points' for me... I know they will be difficult, much harder than a dress.

Esme started saying she had a tummyache yesterday afternoon and she had a slight fever. I gave her a bath and ice cream and she didn't eat the ice cream - just went to sleep. She woke up and told me her shirt hurt - it was too big, and she cried. I took the shirt off and put a smaller one on... (yes, well...) and then she told me it was actually her tummy that hurt. I told her it was probably because she insisted on sitting and reading stories to the puppies and didn't wash her hands later. She did not like that answer and got mad at me about it, but did not tell me 'No' either. She had been avoiding her water unlike usual - telling me it was empty when it was clearly not, drinking maybe one cup for her usual three. She took several naps and I made her drink a whole cup of water between them... the fever went down some and she slept through the night with just a few complaints. This morning she says she feels better, although she is slightly cranky.

I had planned to take her up to Hazel, KY and look for reader books for her today in their antiques store. Between the weather and not knowing if she is 100%... I'm not sure if we should go or stay home. It is only eight am, so I'll wait a little while and see. Charlie's is open 1 to 5 on Sundays.... so we are in no rush.

//Update// Well, Charlie's had CLOSED! There is some odd new city ordinance on record keeping and although I did not understand all of the letter pinned to their door it was clear that someone in the city council was trying to drive them out of business. That will be sad, as I had suggested a day trip to Grandma specifically to go there, and now am not quite so likely to go again (ie: the likelihood of finding what we want is much slimmer with them gone).

Esme did very well at the small restaurant 'Ann's Country Kitchen' and was good in the little shops which are crowded and full of glass - so that is an accomplishment for a four year old! She encountered a few other children and waved to them happily, telling them we were ladies, and we were going here or there etc.. One 10-13 year old boy was playing on a game and was avoiding her in a shop - she said quite clearly to him 'Don't worry, don't be sad boy... (he turned away again) I'm not going to hurt you. I love you!' He had the most confused expression on his face as he further backed into a corner playing his game.

I had hoped to go to Charlies and look for 'first level readers' as they had many old book sellers there before. Not many of the other places had books - it seems to be a dying thing.. having old but not true 'antique' books around that someone might want to buy for a few dollars each. We did find one book in another shop, Angelique's, that was 'her size' and we bought it with a little of her birthday money. It is 'Ten Apples Up on Top' by Theo LeSieg (a pen name of Dr.Seuss, if you, like me, had forgotten that!) Very beautiful images, 1961 copy with some outer cover damage but very good inside.

Esme is feeling much better than yesterday, she had already started acting like a little Napoleon as soon as we got home, do this - do that, I want this, everyone cooperate with my game! I know I am hard on her, too, especially for her age ie: -- making her clean up after herself putting away toys before she goes on to another game, trying to keep her manners in good shape, telling her not to ask for so many things when we will be going home to get things later... So, she gets some of this 'do this, do that' from Mama always telling her the same sort of things. And yes, she has a right to be frustrated with me at some of it... but she usually does very well overall with it - understands and goes along and eventually knows that Mama just wants us to do the right things.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Looking more into the homeschool laws... understanding why the lady told me to register with a 'church-related school' even if we were not going to teach religious curriculum. The laws are much more stringent about records filing and testing with the school-board associated homeschools than they are with the church-related school associated homeschools.

This is what Esme and I did today - probably less than an hour total time, but we really did cover a lot.

Esme and I wrote mail this morning before I went to work. She sat in my lap and used the little purple desk Grandma bought her at Hobby Lobby to 'write Stimpy letters'. She only wrote a few actual words for each letter - and Mama wrote the rest and read them to her. She was very adamant about signing her name to the end of the letter to Aunt Dot - she is getting better at those letters but still writes the S backwards and the M as an 'N'. What she really needs more work on is understanding all the letters 'always' go right to left and top to bottom. She wrote 'Thank you Dot' on one piece of paper with the THANK at the bottom edge, the Y to the left of the T, and the 'ou DOT' climbing up and to the right of the 'Y.' Mark said it was an 'authentic four year old's letter.' ;) He is right. She gets so upset when something isn't right - so I am trying to just encourage what she wants to do and not point out everything to fix yet... She wrote 'ALICE' as well tonight but put the E to the left of the A and then put another C on the end to fix it.. (EALICC) got mad at herself and wrote it correctly on the top of the paper. A very good job. After that she wanted to play xylophone and finish watching Alice. She watched me sewing another edge onto her Bambi quilt, and said it was beautiful.

'EALICC', the darker ALICE is mine as is the correction above the 'C'.

She still needs a lot of work with her numbers. She calls the six an eight and the one a four, and the ten a one.... but she can count items up to about fifteen just fine - it is just the print representations she is mixing up one for another... A friend at work passed down some 'flash' cards that have the number on one side and the number of objects on the back. We had a small session with those trying some recognition and counting.... very fun, spread out on the kitchen table while she was playing with other things - and she held up a card to me and I held up one to her. She thought we were playing cards or something... 'you play a card now Mom - go, there you go, good job.'

We also looked at FlashEarth and I showed her the United States and where Tennessee was - had her zoom out and in several times to see Tennessee. She said that the word said 'Here is the green house' (our house), and I explained the name again until she got it a bit further. I asked her where her Grandpa Harvey lived, and she said 'in a house.' HAHA. I know it will take quite a bit, but she does have interest in it. She asked the names of a few other states - and thought it was pretty cool. She wasn't quite as interested as she could have been because the Internet kept dumping us and the screen kept turning black. She thought Mama was making it turn off and saying we were done.. and then I told her I was just getting up to turn the Internet back on, and she got mad at all the up and down. She kept asking me if we were ready to see Dumbo movie after this five minutes etc. I opted for Beauty and the Beast instead.... now she is in her bed and watching it. Tomorrow will be a big day, I am sure - because it is Saturday and I have the day off.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bambi Quilt in Progress....

Extremely simple, two fabrics, a little thin batting and an edge binding, then some simple tack quilting in the middle area. This is one of the fabrics Grandma and Esme chose in Jackson. The dress is not visible except as a blur.. it is the modified McCalls 8001 pattern in the fabric from the Quilting Bee in Camden, TN. I'll have to let it have a starring post later on when possible... I really like it. Esme chose the green fabric well. In other words, finished that dress (which had been cut out already the night before) and a pair of to-be-seen green pants from fabric Grandma also chose. There is enough of that fabric and the facing fabric from this 'Christmas Lights' dress to make the long coat, too. Mark says we'll lose Esme in the forest in the spring if she wears that coat and pants when everything begins to green again ;)

That was yesterday.. and yesterday was very busy. We took Grandma down to Jackson to shop and to pick up Grandpa. Esme paced around the hospital room saying 'I'm thinking. I'm thinking Stimpy doctor, going to fix you, I've gotta fix you, gotta help you, help the doctor. I've got it! (Finger in air - look at machines) You have an eight. (pace again with head down, hands held together and high up in the air behind her back) OK. I'm thinking. I'm going to fix Grandpa.' over and over while rolling on the floor. She was in high spirits... made Grandpa and Grandma laugh a lot... They were uncertain about letting Grandpa out of the hospital because of something on his chest x-ray... but they let him come home. He had to go back to the hospital last night and it may be a few more days before they let him come back home. We are all hoping he can strengthen and heal up from this well while he is there, so he doesn't have to worry so much when he does come home. Grandma says he already feels better again...

I am binding the edges of this blanket as my project tonight. It is almost to the place where I can put my feet under it and work... that will be nice as it is VERY cold. Esme also received a box in the mail from Elizabeth EK tonight. Thank you Elizabeth! Esme loves her pink and green tea set. I am saving the craft kit and other small item for the weekend because she is already so excited over that first box I pulled out. She is also excited about the Bambis and Thumpers and Flowers all over this blanket.. rolling all around on it until I asked her to please settle. She is watching Wallace and Gromit now and eating Jell-O. I have a closing shift tomorrow and the weekend off....

Mark said he was told several time to 'shhh.. I'm reading stories to the puppies' today. Esme was taking her books over to the edge of where the puppies are and trying to 'read' them stories. He said he couldn't hear what she was reading to them but it kept her occuppied for large blocks of time today *ha* which was good, because he said he wasn't feeling perky enough to chase her around as much as usual. There is some cause and effect there - she was being as good as she could without tiring Daddy out more. I had told her Daddy had been up in the middle of the night to help Grandpa get to where the doctors could see him right away... and when I left her this morning with Daddy I asked her to be 'extra' good because Daddy had done a lot of work helping Grandpa and needed HER help today.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Wind and Butterflies

I am further amazed by our garden today - I have no pictures of the produce but there is another hearty soup of tomato and shelled beans brewing downstairs. There were a few small green peppers and plenty of green tomatoes to pull and bring inside to turn. There were dried beans of both Shackamaxon and Whipporwill cowpeas and a few beautiful Mayflower beans. The Whipporwills have increased their numbers from 9 seeds planted to nearly fifty saved, and many more eaten. I do think they are a local 'landrace' as they came from Waverly, TN via a now closed Etsy shop. They are almost as constant as the black eyed peas and much easier to collect, peel and save. In other words, I like them a lot ;)

And I was also amazed by the butterflies on the zinnias. Dozens and dozens of them. Just begging to be photographed.

Esme also begged to be photographed ;) The wind was high out there - so she was having a great time playing with the sand but a hard time keeping her hair out of her eyes. That really isn't anything new for her or me.

We also stopped at the Quilting Bee in Camden and Esme got to pick out her fabric for a dress. She picked out a green 1930s reproduction that reminded me of Christmas lights. She was very sweet with the lady there, who was not feeling well with what sounded like a kidney disorder (not a cold/flu type not feel well). She asked the lady very very quietly if she could take a nap on the pretty blanket she showed to her. The lady did not understand, she said it so softly. I told her no, we would have to nap on blankets at home. She then insisted on giving the lady a kiss before we left. That purchase was not part of her birthday money - more Mama's allowance, as we rarely get over there to visit. Esme did get to spend some of her birthday money on a pack of pipe cleaners, pom poms and a big pack of glitter paint in the craft section, and an elephant book. She still has a lot left but was overwhelmed with just those things and wanting to play with them. I will put the rest away for her for a little while and keep it in mind when she asks for something.

On the way home we stopped at an Amish sign for Apple Cider and picked up a jug. Grandma and Grandpa will have to help us drink it. It is very good but Mark says it will not last long. The children there all ran away when we pulled up - but they had button-back dresses and overalls on, and no shoes. Esme was all ready to go with them but I stopped her and kept her by the truck. She really wanted to play with them. The older girl that helped us I am sure would have liked to talk to Esme more but I know they are not supposed to - so I guess it was my own 'formality' that kept back that opportunity. I could hear her German accent when she said 'come Matthew' to one of the younger children. Those words in English and German are nearly identical, but there is different emphasis. Mark said he thought she did want to talk to us more - and that it might not have been such a bad thing to let Esme run after the other children...

Since I bought fabric today in Camden I feel I shouldn't do too much in Jackson.... practicality gene kicking in again. Even though I just cut out a dress from the fabric I bought today and am well set to have that sewn this weekend or sooner. Grandma said it wasn't often I got to Jackson.. so should take the opportunity. Rats, because.. she's right. I will enjoy going there and seeing what Esme and Grandma like. I have a red calico fabric in my mind's eye that I have not seen in reality yet. Last time Esme was at that fabric store she picked out the Osaka dress fabric and her red pants which are both still in good use.

zinnias in November

this butterfly seemed to say: 'Whee! I'm an airplane!'
It made me laugh quite a bit when I saw it in the camera queue.

reading progress

Esme has begun to bring me story books again, and we have sat down and read them together. She sees Daddy and Mama reading all day - so she wants to get into this world, too -- and Mama is happy to spend time doing it, all good incentives. She is also in love with the WordWorld DVD we bought her and plays her Starfall website beside Daddy when he is coding his programming. All of that leads up to this...

Last night she read the phrase 'I think you go(t) up on the //' before she stopped and told me to read the rest of the sentence. She said 'go' instead of 'got.' and the rest of the sentence I did read for her 'wrong side of the bed this morning.' She is picking up a lot of the little in-between words on the new areas of Starfall they introduced this year. It also helps that these are the same 'I Can Read' books that I grew up with -- Dr.Seuss, 'Three to Get Ready' Mary Boegehold and similar books. I need to get her Little Bear book out again and add it into the mix again. I've also put a bid on a 'Dick and Jane' type 1960s basic reader on Ebay. I'll see if I can get one of those really simple books she hasn't seen before - and that will give me a better gauge of where she is while being a new fun book, too.

I have the next two days off, but they will be busy ones. We will be going to Camden today and to Jackson to get Grandpa tomorrow. Esme and I also have to 'write' thank you notes to her aunt and great-aunt for their birthday presents received in the mail yesterday. I'll write them for her and let her read them with me from the card - we did that with the invitations and she thought it was 'cool man.' She is getting more confident writing a few single letters at a time, too - but sometimes prefers to write the word in reverse order. She is still upset about 'E's... which is unfortunate because her name has two of them in it! Time will fix that...

Her work last night:

words 'hat' and 'ant'
writing letter practice 4 years old
red 'HAT' is mine, rest is hers

We did the reading and writing for about a half hour at night, stopping and going onto something else when her attention started to drift for more than a moment at a time. In small bites like this, I am becoming more confident we can really do the 'homeschool thing' and have her learn what she needs to out of it -- instill ability and curiosity enough to be able to read books on her own, ask questions and further direct us to what she really wants to know about. If I can establish that as a trend in the next two years (August 2013 is the first Kindergarten testing date she qualifies for) we might just go the whole way with homeschooling.

Articles like this one too early for homeschooling make me wonder, but the author consistently talks about the child 'not catching on' or 'drudgery'.... It's not drudgery, and she IS catching on. So....? Plus we DO take time to plant a garden, chase a cat, paint a car, string beads, cook soup and lots of other things anyway. And I am not 'sitting her down at the books' and drilling her, nor asking her to do worksheet after worksheet. It is all very loose and open-ended and based on curiosity and the moment. Yes, there will be a time for more stringent application - but I hope even during her 'official K' if we do so for homeschooling that it won't require sitting down in one place 'forever' and doing worksheets. There has to be a better way than that with young children.

But, one conclusion for today might be to take Esme to the craft section with her birthday money and see what supplies she finds interesting enough to bring home. That sounds like fun :)

Monday, November 07, 2011


Mark and I are looking for some Spanish language resources to start Esme on. I found one on Youtube called Bookbox, and watched a few with her last night. I pick up languages fast (Latin, French, Spanish and German teaching books left to me by my dad when I was a kid ;). But to be honest, my pronunciation is terrible (especially on French) because of not having enough exposure to conversation. Sometimes I have bits of French from packaging at work stuck unwanted in my head and I know they are real words - look them up and they mean 'attach piece' (appose partie). I can pronounce German but there is not much use of it here besides the Amish and Mennonites. I listen to them discuss prices and tell their children what they should be doing/not doing and I understand, but could not return a proper sentence without a lot of practice.

Spanish might come more in handy at my plumbing job. I've already had to translate several customers asking for things - usually can muddle it out through my other learning 'cera annillo' means wax ring ;) I don't like the idea of it becoming increasingly hard to get along in this country without knowing Spanish, but if Esme and I can pick up enough of it together and actually use it, then I do see a benefit of having something we both understand that there is enough available for without spending LOTS of money. I think the library might have something for us to use, as well.

In other news - Esme's reading is a bit further than I thought it was. She recognizes a lot of simple words. We used Dolch words preprimer click and say and she really liked that. She got a few wrong, but enjoyed being able to hear it when she clicked it. Then we read Cat in the Hat until she fell asleep, and she knew some of the words again when she saw them. Words I thought she would get like 'ball' were odd when she thought they were something else - but other words like 'down' and 'come' and 'make' she knows when she sees them. I think they are in Starfall.

She also got to paint her airplane and use her new watercolors. She said PLEASE Happy Birthday to me painting? *ha* While she did that I tried to work on my hexagonal frame idea but a hacksaw blade and 1/4 inch sticks just don't want to follow 60 degrees very well. I'll need to either go bigger or find a finer way to measure and cut that angle.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

randomness and a homeschooling book to look up

+plus magazine <--magazine about math=refreshing
how to build an octagonal frame. This is one of those things that my brain twitches about when I'm doing really boring things (like pacing aisles asking 'can I help you?' and can't really do anything 'in real life' about it... I need a miter box to make it in reality. Eh, we probably have one around here somewhere? I want to look further into roof trusses as well... they intrigue me but also scare me in the 'really big thing I can't get done myself' sort of way.

I came home to find Esme asleep in her bed covered in blocks. There were even blocks inside her socks.... ?? We have a strange strange child. She is still napping, so I am wandering around in my own studies and browsing.

I was also looking for a map of the U.S. for her - a puzzle maybe. I think there is a placemat at WalMart I'll go look for another day. She saw me looking something up on Google maps the other day and asked questions about what it was and was interested with the idea that people live here, and it takes sunrise-to-sunset to drive in a car that far.

homeschool rambling
We will not need to file any paperwork for a few more years if we do choose to homeschool. It will be nice to have enough information in hand to go ahead if we choose or see what the local school district can offer, if anything. Thinking about other science and learning experiments to put to use at a later date. Mark and I have discussed some basic science experiments with kitchen items and growing bean sprouts in jars over the winter. Yesterday afternoon I read part of a book called 'Homeschooling for Excellence' by Colfax. It was reccommended by a Memphis area homeschool advocate I had emailed. I was impressed by it and hope to get it from a library or used bookstore. Unlike many other homeschooling books it did not start out with a religious mission statement. The author's point of view (from the introduction only) was that the homeschool environment was not primarily for the adults to control what the child learns/doesn't learn but instead to provide an environment that caters to the child's natural tendencies, established communication and shared experiences while providing some direction. It also acknowledged that there will be successes and failures, and that these are learning experiences for everyone involved. The adults are encouraged to choose a breadth of subjects and curriculum based not on 'grade-level lists' but instead relating to what the child shows interest in, what questions are asked and encouraging related experiences that are readily available (farm/woods/city/museums/library).

Friday, November 04, 2011

4 years old birthday party

It was a big day today! We invited Grandma and Grandpa and Robert and Mikey and Gwynnie to the Dairy Queen to help us celebrate Esme's 4th birthday.


What is on my head?

Mikey and Gwynnie

Daddy discussing the merits of hot fudge

Funny Gwynnie
she turned 3 in September

balloon hat fun

dancing around

Now what?

Grandpa and Grandma had to 'help' unwrap

wrapping paper

Hungry Hungry Hippos was (and still is tonight)
the star of the show
Mikey and Robert chose well, thank you!

You want me to open this?
What is this?

Thinking hard on an airplane toy..

Which one next?

Proud piggy bank owner!
She really likes this, too.

chilling at home, winding down with her new shades
She got an Elly Pocoyo toy and is happy about her but so much more fascinated by the moving parts on the H.H.Hippos toy.

Also thank you to Grandma and Grandpa for pots and pans, socks, dinosaurs, Dumbo movie and other things! Daddy also gave her a calculator, binder clips to stack, watercolors and glow sticks (big hit). I think this has been a very exciting birthday and Mama is thankful to everyone for coming and having a good time. I hope we haven't spoiled her ;) just kidding...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

finished McCalls 8001 - can't love it, but it works

I finished McCalls 8001 dress tonight. As Esme says: "I can't love it" But, it does work. Remember it is a size five, which she just barely doesn't swim in. There is room for growth here. Take a look at how the skirt is open when she is sitting, and relaxed when she is standing. That was not easy to get right, and I still think I did it a little haphazard. The ties in the back were essential to not making it stick STRAIGHT out in front of her. Note: These are also the 'wiley pants', although the major feature of them (a flat tummy band) cannot be seen.

Heading off downstairs with her broom and 'wand' (a pencil)

skirt detail and 'magic wand'
It would do nicely with a red ribbon sash all around the middle.
Then I put her hair back up, so she could see and I could see her.

The dogs decided to take center stage.

Partially because they realized
she had a cookie and might drop it!

McCalls 8001 size 5, circa 1961

The reason I bought the pattern was for the coat, which is still to come ... the dress was just tempting and fit the type of fabric I had on hand better, although I did have to piece that, too -- the two color version of the dress was due to not having enough of either to make the whole thing.

And a better shot of Nova's puppies

She is still very protective of them and has not left them for very long at all.

Now for cupcakes, as the laundry and dishes are nearly done.
//note// Esme quote of the night : Upon seeing Lisa Simpson kiss Nelson, and while standing on her head in our bed... 'ew gross. That's a gross kiss.' Daddy and I both lost it. Mark says: 'And... I guess that's four?' (as in years old)
//note// We played with the pattern blocks at her request. They were a very good investment. We read one of her easy books together and she knows more words by sight than she used to - mostly color words and a few words like 'and', 'the', 'come' and 'for'. That is all from Starfall. She said the word 'sleep' was 'sheep' so she is just memorizing the look of the words.

tailed bits

Mark went out in the woods yesterday and found our Nova dog with eleven puppies. He put them all in a box and brought them inside, which was a harrowing feat considering where he said he found them at. He said the pile of wood she was inside was collapsing as he tried to move near and among it... He is lucky he is scrawny and muscular - as a regular person would have still been out there with a leg caught in something. So, we have a wiggly mess of tails again in this house. Esme is excited - she has counted them and described them and says 'Nova is a mother dog.' to me a lot this morning.

Esme made me laugh last night. I gave her the newspaper and it had a food ad in it with balloons. She was very excited and was trying to read bits of it. Then she says (think Homer Simpson) 'We can't afford that! What's that. We can't afford that!' about everything with a price tag on it. 'That's two thousand dollars. We can't afford that.' We have a silly child. Her favorite phrase lately has been 'I want to play lots and lots of (candy/dogs/cards/food/bathtub). Come on, let's do lots and lots.' A little while ago she is playing with her checkwriter and saying 'That is twenty cents, just twenty cents. I have seen ALL my life, Mama. I have seen ALL my life.' I think she is trying to mimic someone on tv saying 'that is the worst thing I have seen all my life' but she hasn't remembered all the words.

handmade birthday banner

I spent quite a bit of the morning stringing this together. Esme's birthday party is tomorrow, and we plan to hang this up there with some balloons as very 'simple' decorations. Simple as in not cost much, although the banner took a few hours to make while Esme bounced around saying I was busy and she wanted to be busy, too. She has grown so much this past year, and again during this last spurt as well! Mark is headed to town to get butter and a few other things. Then we will be making cupcakes.. or maybe that will be tomorrow? Probably tonight because I will need to wash her hair also tonight and that will be a tough sell/hard deed because I washed it a few days ago when it really did need it -- and she will negotiate with me claiming it doesn't need it. 'My hair has no bugs, no spiders - don't wash my hair - brush it, I'm gonna cry.' etc etc... I also need to make sure her doggie pants are clean and the blue dress. I told Esme we had to get things ready for her birthday and she said 'oh no mama.. the balloons will POP POP POP' Well, I didn't mean to blow up the balloons today!

Daddy picked me up butter, toothpicks and more cupcake papers - so we're well supplied to go make a mess tonight ;) He also picked up a few more things for me to wrap up for presents. So, now we are officially spoiling her by our standards. A party, and a few 'wow' toys she is going to fall apart over. And there were other little cheap things that just said ESME all over them... Planning to wrap those up in newspaper and curl some colored copy paper with scissors to make it pretty.