homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Monday, April 30, 2012


Yes, I have apron content, and it's Monday. But I'm distracted by an impatient baby and have decided to do a short post instead. I'm preserving my sanity and sharing our latest joy.

I'm past my own "nesting" stage. Our ducks, however...

Look what they made! :)
They are still adding to this clutch (their first!). I took this picture yesterday and the kids reported a fifth egg today.

28 days from laying to hatching, says the Internet. Stay tuned to find out whether we get to welcome some adorable fuzzy baby Muscovys, or we get to evacuate some very rotten duds. :p

Monday, April 23, 2012

Apron Monday: Classic Gingham

Now here's a vintage piece for which I know the history!

This classic skirt apron was an early sewing project made by my mother, when she was around 12 or 13 years old. And regardless of my natural bias (heh, I'm like fabric that way, ba-dum ching!), I can without hesitation say that she did a very good job on every aspect. The construction is clean and the hand-stitched accents are neat and precise. Even the reverse has her trademark attention to detail (cough-cough, OCD),
although if I'm not mistaken, her cross-stitch style has changed over the years. Although my mother is a skilled seamstress, her craft of choice is (and has been for 30 years) counted cross-stitch. Since all of the pieces I have that she's done are framed or lined, I cannot confirm...but I could *swear* that her reverse sides now have vertical, rather than horizontal, stitching. Hmmm...

Anyway. Back to the apron. I love this. It's a connection to my mother. It's also in a way a connection to my grandmother, who I am sure had a hand in this. In one of my earliest apron posts, I noted that my first apron was a work-in-progress that I'd rescued when we cleaned out her apartment following her funeral. In my youthful impatience, I never bothered finishing the apron, and eventually lost it. That apron looked much like this...same style, same color (same fabric?)...but the motif was one of tulips and at least one kitschy poodle, if memory serves. Boy, I wish I had that back.

Features of this apron? As you can see, the cross-stitch designs are simple but well executed.

The patch pocket is generous. The waistband has crisp knife-pleats, but the apron itself has soft (unpressed) folds.

And although I neglected to post a picture (because the color was "off"...even more than the pictures I posted. Bad lighting today, I guess.), it's actually rather flattering on me.

The only shortcut I can see is that the ends of the sashes are cut to fall on the selvedge, so they are unfinished. But that's clever and efficient, so who's complaining?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Homeschool Snapshot, 4/20/2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
I have a teething baby. I'm very tired.

In our homeschool this week…
We continued our work on vowel diagraphs. This week is ow/ou. (Last week was ai/ay). T is showing a sudden burst of improvement in his reading. I'd pat myself on the back, but although my current approach seems to be producing some success, I think most of it should be attributed to his mood. Since my last update in general, I have been taking a more shotgun approach to developing reading skills. Some days we have instruction, some days practice. Practice may take the form of reading, writing, or games. I try to keep things from getting repetitive, and it seems to be helping a great deal.

I am inspired by…As always, my friends Jennifer and Mary, who seem so zen and together. I know they're human too, but they typically look so much calmer than neurotic ol' me.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
It was a busy week for us! We had three trips to the park, one to the library, and attended a morning performance of a local theater group. Only the play was planned ahead of time. I love having the freedom and flexibility to pick up and go if the mood strikes us. On one of our trips to the park, we met a homeschooling family on the playground. Although the mother spoke of math curriculum and Latin lessons, she was remarkably laid-back. Turns out she's pretty eclectic/adaptable, similar to my own approach. She gave me a lot of perspective and some reassurance and encouragement. (I'm kicking myself for not exchanging contact information, but that's a whole 'nother blog post...)

My favorite thing this week was…
C's birthday! Also, an unscripted moment when C used a busy-beads baby toy to demonstrate how a water screw works. He really paid attention on that field trip to the daVinci exhibit a few weeks ago!!

What’s working/not working for us…
See above, our current approach to literacy skill building. For now, that's working. What's not working? Trying to work with one kid while the other kid is doing everything in his power to be distracting. I have these moments when I wonder how on earth classroom teachers keep 20 or more kids on-task. I have a strong suspicion that, if schooled, at least one of my children would be labeled a troublemaker and "managed" for the sake of the group. I keep flashing back to my college classes in education and how much was about behavior control. It makes me sad...

Things I’m working on…
I'm good at embracing spontaneous teachable moments. I'm not so good at scheduling and planning consistently. I have ideas...but then life intrudes...and life's demands will NOT wait. I feel overwhelmed quite often.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Speaking of overwhelmed....this is funny because it's TRUE.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Patchwork Apron

This apron deserves better pictures (and a good ironing), but my life is chaos so this is what I'm posting.

Yeah, I cropped my head out of the frame. Trust me, it's best that way.
Last summer, my mother purchased this for me as a gift while on a road trip with one of her sisters. They had traveled to New Jersey for a family reunion, and their trip home to southwestern PA took them through Amish country. I do not think (but I could be wrong? She'll certainly help us out in the comments section, right Mom?) that this apron is Amish-made, but I believe that it came from a gifty-boutique-shop in a tourist-attracting town.

There are no tags to indicate mass manufacture, but I would hardly suspect it regardless. As you can see from this closeup,

the matching patchwork accents on the bib and patch pocket aren't pieced, but folded. I'm a total layman when it comes to patchwork, but I find it fascinating and have a great deal of reverence/awe for those who do the craft well.

My favorite parts of this apron are the accents, the main fabric (vibrant colors, pretty songbirds), and the full coverage. It's not quite a *perfect* fit, but I am starting to think that what I really want/need is a pinafore. If I tie the neck ties short (as pictured), the bib feels just right but the waist is too high and the gathered skirt makes me look pregnant. If I tie the top low, so the waist ties hit at my natural waist, I feel uncovered up-top.

Maybe I need to just wear a robe when I cook. LOL

Monday, April 16, 2012


Apron post will wait until tomorrow. Today, we have a birthday.

Six years ago, April 16th fell on a Sunday. Easter Sunday. The bunny hid the eggs, and then Mom went into labor. I did okay until around 7 AM, when the contractions got me up onto my tippy-toes and I decided it might be a good time to call the midwife and the grandparents. We dragged three (T plus my stepsons...I know I don't mention them much here) very sleepy children out of bed and prodded them to search for their Easter baskets while I did laps around the dining room, pausing every few minutes to moan, then smile at T and crow, "Mommy's okay, honey!!" Baskets got found, grandparents arrived, and we headed off to the hospital.

I had labored long and WAY too hard with T, but C's labor was tolerable. I felt good. I felt empowered. I was going to conquer the snot out of this VBAC! However, we reached a point where the midwife made *that* face. We talked, I bargained, tried, and cried...but in the end, I had a repeat C-section and a very alert and healthy baby. My first memory of him is panicking in the OR..."Why isn't he crying?" One of the nurses smiled and gently replied, "Because he isn't sad!"

My in-laws brought T and his brothers to the hospital the next day to see me and meet C. Poor T! We hadn't prepared him sufficiently for the possibility of Mommy being gone overnight. He sulked quite a bit, and just about broke my heart.

Well, his negative feelings toward Mommy were soon forgotten, and he lit up with joy to meet his new baby brother. <3 They have been friends much more than rivals; inseparable companions with complementary personalities. I couldn't have imagined a better match.

C has filled our lives with adventure. He is full of energy (he sleeps so little I often joke that he's solar-powered) and laughter. He is happy playing alone for long stretches, but thrives on social stimulation too. He is an inventor, and picks up complicated information and skills with ease. His giggle lights up my entire world.

Happy birthday to my dear, sweet six-year-old boy!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

this moment: a new flavor

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Join in at Soulemama

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Units of Measurement

I have been informed that the picnic table in our side yard is 37 clothespins long.

That is with them clipped, nose to tail, in a chain. I didn't have the heart to make it a precise lesson, seeing how it was their experiment, and proud demonstration to me. Learning is so much more valuable/exciting/memorable when the student feels invested in it...when it's a discovery, not a lecture. We'll get there. For now, they have the idea. And it was their idea.

(PS: Yup. I missed this Monday for an apron post. Already. Bite me--I have a teething baby. Who, now that I think about it, already bites me plenty. Do not bite me. Just stay tuned.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Apron Monday: the bunny trail

Hey, I haven't blogged aprons in a long time! And there's a very good reason for that. Um, I ran out of aprons. My dear, wonderful mother continues to give me aprons as gifts every now and then, though, so I have accumulated a few new things to share. I have just enough new entries to declare a Month of the Apron! Oh wait...4 entries, 5 Mondays in April. Darn it. Close enough.


The first, and newest apron to share is a holiday-themed novelty apron.

Shut up; I don't count *your* chins.
As you can see, this one is store-bought (Kirklands), mass-produced, and all-kitsch. How can you not love those ears? Not well-pictured is the rickrack trim. Not at all pictured are the puffy white tails at the end of each waist tie. Adorable.

Naturally, this apron will not be in heavy rotation after this week. But for now, the kids (and our visitors) are getting a kick out of it. There's one for the win column!!