Wednesday, July 30, 2008

on my desk


... a fraction of the books being used for fifth grade lesson planning.

... vintage dictionaries waiting for craftiness.

... the cutest little girl sewing patterns ever, which are going to the two cutest little girls I know.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

moulage casting, yeah


Ack. I am not sure how it got to be Tuesday, but here we are. Time for a catch up post. Sorry for the length.

:: My husband and I saw the much anticipated (by us) X-Files movie Friday night. If you loved the show, you will love the movie. (If you get the title of this post, I'd say you will find it $9 --or more -- well spent.) Unless I missed it, there was not a forehead kiss to be found in the entire movie. That, my friends, is a good thing. Don't go unless you want a grown-up, intelligent, subtle movie. If you want the opposite of that, go see Journey to the Center of the Earth, which I also saw last week. It was one of those things you can file under "parental sacrifice."

And by all means, if you go see the X-Files, stay through the credits. This is important information. Less important is the fact that my husband and I were the youngest people in the theater. Very odd.

:: To quote Napoleon Dynamite, "Dang." I forgot to post the link to my story about the anniversary of South Carolina State Parks. The history of our park system is very interesting -- or maybe it is just because I am a South Carolinian and a history geek. Enjoy.

:: I am learning a new (read: terrifying) skill, which I may share here as soon as I feel confident enough. Let's just say it is now invading my dreams, which probably means I am having more anxiety than I even realize. It is a skill that two-thirds of Americans already possess (OK, I made that up, but it's a lot), so it's no biggie to most of the world -- just me. However, I turn 40 in a few short months and I will no longer avoid anything out of fear. I will continue to avoid certain activities (jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, BASE jumping, etc.) that carry an unacceptable potential for death, just because I am silly that way.

:: We are going to ease into fifth grade with two days of school next week. I am considerably more relaxed this year and marginally more organized.

:: Serendipity = buying a 50-cent vintage dictionary to recycle as craft paper and finding baby's breath pressed lovingly inside. (See above.)


:: Providence = finding only the second copy of the 1973 Spire Christian Comic Book "Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys" that I have ever seen. It's going to be a Christmas gift for my brother, who hopefully doesn't read this but who does love the Cowboys. The first copy I ever saw now hangs in our TV room. It is signed by Tom Landry. Alas, this one is not. (But again, "dang," I just Googled it and it is worth something like $70, which is $69.75 more than I paid for it. Who knew? It would probably be wrong to sell it on eBay instead of giving it to my brother....)


Monday, July 28, 2008

organizing my thoughts, or it's a horror show, people


Because I have so much free time on my hands (ha!), I have created a new online space for sharing eco-friendly ideas. Basically Green is a way for me to organize (and remember) tips for accomplishing little tasks like saving the world and doing laundry without poisoning the ground water.

I hope you will join me. Many hands make light work and wow, we really have a lot to do to get this place (yes, the whole planet) in shape. I will try to post some of the small things we do around here. Lots of small things add up, of course, and with lots of people doing lots of small things... you get the picture.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

drum roll, please



Top: Simplicity 4443, 1942 apron pattern

Bottom: Simplicity 7123, 1967 super mod sheath dress

Finally, my Etsy shop is getting a proper grand opening. I have a slew of vintage patterns and most are priced at either $4.95 or $3.80 each (for now). To promote the shop and encourage folks to browse this cornucopia of sewing awesomeness, I am giving away the two patterns shown above. I had a great time perusing these patterns. They are like little accidental time capsules.

If you would be so kind as to post about my shop on your blog, I would appreciate it. Please let me know in a comment and then consider yourself entered. I will be giving these beauties away August 5.

I need to move these patterns out of my house before I start dressing like June Cleaver, which is something I have aspired to for some time, actually.

Once I move out some of these patterns, I hope to add some handmade goodness to the shop. And maybe some more patterns -- I think they are breeding in the night.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

a decade


Weeks of pregnancy: 38

Ultrasounds: 11

Hours of labor: 65

Years of homeschooling: 1

Legos: 42,865,720, give or take

Number of days keeping us on our toes: 3650

Saturday, July 19, 2008

how we do church

At least watch the music. :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

for buddy


(Buddy, this morning, napping around the corner from my desk.)

Buddy, the best dog in the history of all canines, is now over 12 years old. He is starting to slow down a bit and has some arthritis developing in his hips. (I am going to stick to the facts here because this is more upsetting to me than I care to delve into right now.) I had planned to make new dog beds for the winter and I want some feedback on my new idea.

For background, I made the beds that Buddy and Maggie currently use. They have "upstairs beds" in our room made from eggcrate foam covered with fleece. The "downstairs beds" used in the family room are made from thinner foam covered in thin-wale corduroy.

In any event, geez Louise, memory foam dog beds are in the $300 - $500 range. I have to get two identical beds or the dogs will just jockey for position on the favorite and Budddy would lose that contest these days. I do not have a $1000 dog bed budget (does anyone?) so I am going to be making this baby myself.


Here's the plan: has 2-inch memory foam toppers in California King size (70 x 80 inches) for $39.99. Cut in fourths, I can make two 35 x 40 beds with four inches of foam (spray adhesive -- and its accompanying bad attitude -- in between -- Curse you, spray adhesive!). Put the memory foam sandwich on a 2-inch pad of regular (cheap) foam and anchor the stack with still more spray adhesive. Then, make a cover. My dogs are partial to polar fleece for winter, just because they are spoiled that way.

Tada! Success -- at least in my head -- means two memory foam dog beds for less than $75. If I am missing some glaring reason why this won't work, please tell me now. Can I cut memory foam with an electric knife, just like regular foam? Does it soak up spray adhesive in some weird way of which I am unaware? If it is really this easy, why are people spending $500 for these beds?

There's a catch. I'm sure of it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

i heart youtube

Billy Joel played Shea Stadium last night (with guests Tony Bennett, Don Henley, John and others). As I read the news story, I thought how much I would love to see that. And then I remembered that everything is on Youtube. If you're of a certain age (like moi) you will enjoy the video of Billy Joel singing "Piano Man," virtually drowned out by the crowd singing along. (I hope there isn't anything inappropriate in the video -- I can only listen. It's too jumpy to watch.)

I heart bootleg cellphone videos, but I am looking forward to the DVD.

Monday, July 14, 2008

the successful home office


(The view from the land of red clay...)

How to work on a deadline:

1. Have a really nice young man bring a huge tractor to your backyard and use it to remove a concrete patio. Pretend the thunderous booms are the angels bowling.

2. Give your 9-year-old a stash of hemp cord and a pair of needle-nosed pliers and let him make jewelry from tumbled rocks. Hope for the best. Occasionally do a digit inventory.

3. Steer clear of the teenager who has no doubt been awakened prior to her preferred 11 a..m. breakfast time by said patio destruction.

4. Make extra coffee. Consider making Irish coffee instead. Supplement with ibuprofen as needed.

new adornments


I enjoyed playing with some vintage beads yesterday. (The large glass bead isn't vintage. I think it was rescued from something my daughter was throwing away. I'm funny like that.) I finally have some basic jewelry-making skills mastered but I really need to work on wire wrapping. My short stubby fingers get in the way.

On a work note, my follow-up column on homeschooling is running in this month's WNC Parent.

Friday, July 11, 2008

where i get a return on my law school investment

My goal is to have our fifth grade year mapped out in its entirety before school starts. That would be less than six short weeks from now, people. If you want to avoid a long-winded post about homeschooling, look away now. You have been warned. (This is another in a series of posts that serve as a note to myself and hopefully as a help to other homeschooling moms.)

Thanks to the good folks of the 13th Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, I had plenty of time during jury duty to work on language arts. We will use Scott Foresman Reading: Fantastic Voyage as a starting point for exploring themes in literature. Our grammar and some writing assignments will tie in as well, though Nolan does much better when writing for a purpose rather than as a "writing assignment." Of course, don't we all? We have a variety of novel studies planned but I will post about those separately. We will also do a family history unit that includes a lapbook based on an interview with my son's grandfather. (Oops -- I should probably ask him if that's OK.) We will also continue with Greek and Latin stems, introduce some of the works of Shakespeare and do a fairly extensive unit on poetry.

On to science, where I get that return on my law school investment... Fifth grade science standards include scientific inquiry and properties of matter. I have decided to explore both topics in great depth through a unit on forensic science. We are going to have a shameless amount of fun with this as we explore everything from chromatography and DNA comparison to entomology and blood splatter. In addition to learning about the specifics of forensic science, we will apply what we learn in solving at least two crimes (both age appropriate, of course).

As we move to force and motion, we will study auto racing and the science of NASCAR (there is a book series, I swear I am not making that up) and the application of the laws of motion to rollercoaster design.

I am still planning our additional science units on landforms and oceans and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

In math, we covered well beyond the standards in fourth grade so we have a list of topics to cover (division of fractions, etc.) early in the year. We will use Math Central for that. I plan to move Nolan into Teaching Textbooks 7 after the first nine-week period. (Feedback on Teaching Textbooks is welcomed. I feel like it is really more like an upper level grade six curriculum rather than grade seven, which is what I am shooting for this year.)

I haven't really begun planning for social studies yet, but we will pick up with the Civil War and go through present day. We will also do a civics unit on the upcoming presidential election. (Hey, I am getting a return on those majors in history and political science, too!) Nolan is really psyched about studying the World Wars and I am psyched about incorporating the Diary of Anne Frank.

Last year, I learned that Nolan really gets a kick out of lapbooks and he retains the information quite well because each unit becomes a full blown project, from research to presentation. I hope to fit in lapbooks on Labor Day, bees, the history of sports and artist Mary Cassatt. Nolan has asked to do a study of American presidents and I think we will do that in notebook form.

Geography is treated as a separate subject around here and that study is generally led by Nolan's interest, though I am planning a study of the Middle East.

Nolan will once again study art, music and Spanish (es muy bien) at co-op and my husband will be saved from date nights at plays and musicals since Nolan and I will attend as many daytime performances as we can. We are already planning for classes at the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Greenville Zoo and Paris Mountain State Park.

There's more, but I am confident everyone stopped reading about three paragraphs ago, so I will continue another day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

the calm before the storm



It is going to get worse before it gets better -- our backyard, that is. The utilities have been marked, plans made, giant pieces of equipment scheduled, and I may run away from home for a few days.

I am always so glad when big, expensive projects are done. I would prefer to disappear for a bit and return to a blank slate waiting for flagstone, without ever having to see the carnage.

At least the peaches are done. :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

on my desk...


I'm learning something new. It's hard.

In other news, Tom Petty and I started on the peaches yesterday and then my husband came home, and he is exponentially better than Tom. He grabbed a knife and got to work and we lost count of the bags of peaches we put in the freezer. We are done and really, I am no longer in the mood for peaches -- a temporary state, I'm sure.

Anyone who has put pen to paper locally is remembering Exie Newton, the greatest copy editor ever, who passed away recently at age 80. I was asked to write a story giving her friends a chance to pay tribute. I was a wreck putting it together, just knowing that Exie wasn't here to proof it for me. I hope she's proud.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

the peaches, they frighten me



If you have ever bought a fresh Christmas tree, you will understand how a bushel -- 50 pounds -- was difficult to quantify until I saw the boxes on my kitchen counter. Now, I am a little frightened.

Friday, July 4, 2008

independence day


We're kicking off our day with blueberry muffins.

Need a refresher course (on the holiday, not the muffins)? Visit the National Archives, in person if you can. It was painful to see how badly the original charters of freedom have deteriorated, but heartening to realize that the meaning of these documents, written with great wisdom and discernment, has not faded.

On a completely unrelated note, you have to try this focaccia:


And, oh, I have an Etsy shop now, launched with little (no) fanfare. There is much more to be added and maybe it will warrant a little fanfare then, like maybe a vintage pattern giveaway or something equally sweet -- or SWEEEET!, as my son says.