Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On the Third Day of Christmas...

I know today is the 4th day of Christmas, but yesterday, on the 3rd day, I went to a LNS!!!! I told myself I was only there to buy fibers and fabric, and that's what I did. It was difficult, but it helped that 1. I had purchased a rather large pattern of the Bridget Power Sampler that morning (here's a link to a great photo, and 2. as I looked around the shop at all the stock in the store, I began thinking my stash was... well let's just say competitive.
So I settled on 4 patterns to "kit up." My husband had taken the girls with him to spend his REI gift cards. Boy, did he regret that! While I waited for him to try on every pair of 5-finger shoes in the area (with negative comments from his children), I sat down with the lady at the shop and stitched. I started "Dear Friend," a Reward of Merit by Blackbird Designs. I had to pick out every stinkin' stitch because, apparently, I cannot count! When I returned home, I started "Stitcher's Prayer" by Barrick Samplers. I have been wanting to stitch this for ages, but I couldn't find colors I liked for the flowers. Now, I'm a DMC girl, and I planned on using the DMC conversion, but 522 and 524? Sea foam flowers? I don't think so. But 931 & family weren't right; neither were 926 & family. So I told the lady at The Stitch Store, "I need heeeeellllpppp!" We pawed through and rejected the called-for Needlepoint Silk, then WDW, Gentle Arts, Caron, and Crescent Colors, and FINALLY I settled on Needlepoint Silk Williamsburg Blue 323 and Jade 522. I am willing myself not to fall in love with NPS!! ;)
Hector, my little Cookies and Cream, says hello. Why do I have a Coleman sleeping bag on the couch? Who knows?

I will leave you with a few of the pictures I have taken during Christmas. Now to get back to "Stitcher's Prayer!"

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Stitching...well it's red and green at any rate

I am resisting the many urges to begin a Christmas sampler. I have stacks of Christmas designs, mostly Blackbird Designs, that I would love to begin. But I am anxious to finish something sometime soon. At any rate, the reds and greens of Ms. Rambo are satisfying to stitch this time of year.

Goals are my downfall, but I keep toying with the idea of stitching Christmas designs all through 2012. That should last until about January 2.... :P


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thoughts of my grandmother

Trying to organize some of the many thoughts, memories, and stories going through my mind...

My grandmother: sitting on an enormous pile of stuffed animals in Nutmeg's closet while having a tea party.

My grandmother: opening a telegram during WWII wondering whether it was her husband or one of her 5 brothers.

My grandmother: always arriving with gifts such as fake vomit, fake doggie-do, or the old "fly in the ice-cube."

My grandmother: mourning the death of her little daughter on a Christmas morning.

My grandmother: going trick-or-treating with her grandchildren - wearing a costume and mask.

My grandmother: waiting to hear from her sons in two different wars.

My grandmother: laughing so hard she couldn't speak, tears coming from her eyes.

My grandmother: sitting in a wheelchair, unable to make herself understood, trying to tell us with her eyes.

My grandmother: being slapped full in the face by my dad's pet monkey. she could never tell the story because she would start laughing too hard.

My grandmother: wiping off her lipstick on the way to visit her mother and telling her children not mention going to the movies.

My grandmother: rustling plants in the mountains with my grandfather.

My grandmother: mixing up dressing in a large dishpan. she always made with onions and without.

My grandmother: always having something good under that metal cake holder. we laughed when she used such a large knife to cut the cake.

My grandmother: always filling an old pie plate with scraps for various dogs, cats, and birds.

My grandmother: always rooting a bit of this or that in a pot of soil or a jelly jar of water.


If you have a moment to pray...

Please say a prayer for my grandmother Christine.

"Acknowledge, O Lord, thy creature not made by strange gods, but by thee, the only living and true God: for there is no other God beside thee, and none that doeth according to thy works. Make glad the soul of this person, O Lord, with thy presence, and remember not her old sins and excesses which wrath or heat of evil desire may have aroused. May the heavens be opened to her. May the angels rejoice with her. Into thy kingdom, O Lord, receive thy servant. May St. Michael, the Archangel of God, prince of the heavenly hosts, receive her. May the holy Angels of God come forth to meet her, and conduct her to the city of the heavenly Jerusalem. May the blessed Peter the Apostle, to whom were given the keys to the kingdom of heaven, receive her. May St. Paul the Apostle, who was counted worthy to be a chosen vessel, assist her. May St. John, the chosen Apostle of God, to whom were revealed the secrets of heaven, intercede for her. May all the holy Apostles, to whom the Lord gave the power of binding and losing, pray for her, May all the saints and elect of God, who, in this world, suffered torments in the name of Christ, intercede for her, that loosed from the bonds of the flesh, she may attain unto the glory of the heavenly kingdom, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Sampler Menagerie Blog

I feel a bit sheepish - ha ha- about this post. I started a new blog( 5 minutes ago), The Sampler Menagerie. It is nothing fancy (boy, is it ever nothing fancy!), but I hope with your help it will be an interesting place to visit with a cup of tea. My vision is a blog dedicated to the charming and odd, beautiful and downright weird animals that appear on samplers. By samplers, I mean reproductions and those done in an old-fashioned style. My definition is fairly flexible: the piece need not have an alphabet or a pansy band. I am just trying to avoid photograph-like reproductions of a current pet. Will you join me? Will you help me grow this tiny half-baked idea? Let me know in a comment, and I will send you an invitation. Then search your stitching, and take CLOSE-UP photos of the animals that captured your heart with their breathtaking elegance or their homeliness only a mother could love! More information on posting can be found here

The Sampler Menagerie

I hope to meet you there! :)


Monday, December 5, 2011

I hit the 1/2 price jackpot!!

I have made the tiniest bit of progress on Susan Rambo. I chose to use DMC 500, 501, and 3013 as the main greens.

Saturday, while visiting my grandmother's nursing home, we drove by a cross stitch store. I have not been in a cross stitch store in ages!! My mother had told me marvelous tales about the shop's 1/2 price bins, and they did not disappoint! I was thrilled to add to my Carriage House Samplings collection. Some of the charts I had considered before - I loved them, but not in a full-priced kind of way. The lady and her husband who owned the shop were VERY kind, especially considering that I arrived 1 minute before they closed, had them drag out and then rejected all their 40-count fabric, and stayed for a LONG time. They closed up shop around me, and I do not exaggerate when I tell you their keys were in the door as I left! It was a very nice treat!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

28 November - 1 December 2011

Homeschool is usually a bit rough around here after more than two days off. This week, however, Nutmeg let it slip that she had missed school! Can it be? Is she learning to love learning in spite of me? Nutmeg has an early morning violin lesson at a nearby college. Sometimes Louisiana Man is able to take her, and on those occasions, Nutmeg and her daddy go have a cup of coffee ( I think Nutmeg has a hot chocolate or chai) and read for a few minutes before he goes to work. Nutmeg mentioned she realized she missed school while watching the college students writing in notebooks. I hope that is the only habit she picks up from them! ;)

Artist and Composer Studies

This week's Picture Study is brought to you by the Metropolitan Museum of Art Calendar. Our family looks at this calendar every single day! Some weeks it saves Picture Study when an artist happens to show up on a day I didn't prepare very well. So here is Degas' Woman with Ibis, or some similar title.

While I type this, the girls are listening to Tchaikovsky: The Mystery Box in the Attic, while they draw ballerinas from How to Draw Ballet Pictures. This is actually how I picture homeschooling; I needed to document the moment before it evaporated! ;)


We do other subjects besides art and history, but these two subjects have been the more blog-able lately because they are more photogenic. (You don't really want to see pictures of math worksheets or hear how Nutmeg thought she was just supposed to copy the answers onto her fact drill sheets from the one she did the day before.)

We are on day 75/180 of school and are on chapter 8/42 of Story of the World volume 3. (Perhaps I should spend more time on math.) Anyway, we read chapter 8 of SOTW and did the suggested mapwork. I cut circles of different colored construction paper, and the girls glued them on the map of Persia as a I read about the various empires that had conquered and ruled there. It is a really nice visual and hands-on project. Are we going to memorize the names and correct order of conquerors? No.

I also read to the girls a few chapters about the Middle East from V. M. Hillyer's A Child's Geography of the World. Both girls did written narrations as well as drew camels. Nutmeg also had an additional Hillyer reading from his art series. She read and narrated a section on Islamic architecture. Yes, I edit as I read, choosing current terminology and adding current events.

Here is the beauty of a Book of Centuries: the various figures we study in history (it is not always possible or edifying to study in strict chronological order), the artists and composers we focus on, as well as current events that should not be ignored can all be visually organized in one place.

Here is one more picture, a Homeschool Room Reality Shot.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent Playlist

I love hymns.

I absolutely love hymns. There are a great many I never finish singing in church because I get a bit too emotional. When I became Anglo-Catholic 16 or so years ago, I studied the hymnal and was amazed to discover so many "holiday" or holy day hymns in addition to the beloved Christmas carols. Palm Sunday hymns are actually some of my favorites for the year! I hope my children grow up feeling the same way about Easter hymns, Thanksgiving/Harvest hymns, and other feast day hymns as most of us feel about Christmas hymns - there are so many treasures spread throughout the year.

Last year, I made a playlist of advent carols. Many of them were pulled from Christmas albums or are traditional hymns that mention the Second Coming. Some are simply traditional songs full of legend and symbolism. I am particularly drawn to songs that have many versions such as "The Cherry Tree Carol." Our family enjoyed the playlist last year. The girls probably would have preferred "Run, Run, Rudolph" and others of that ilk, but I hope over the years they will develop an appreciation for the songs that Christians have sung for generations and not yearn for the tunes blared at the mall. Although, Nutmeg told me she heard "Ave Maria" at the bookstore this weekend; that is a definite improvement over "Last Christmas I gave you my heart..."

I am sharing my list from last year in hopes it might encourage you to create your own or share your favorites with me that would fit the general theme of anticipation.

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel Memoria Press ( I need a longer version)

Down in Yon Forest a version by Bruce Cockburn and one by Kathleen Lundquist (I'm actually not sure why I put this on the Advent list...hmm...)

The Angel Gabriel Maddy Prior

Gabriel's Message Sting

The Seven Rejoices of Mary versions by Anonymous 4, Loreena McKennitt

The Cherry Tree Carol versions by Sting, Anonymous 4, The Baltimore Consort

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence Rose and Thistle Band

People Look East Al Petteway & Amy White

Creator of the Stars of Night Caroline Bowles

Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming Sting

Maria Through the Thornwood Goes Custer Larue & Ronn McFarlane

Lo He Comes with Clouds Descending Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band

I'm off to search iTunes; I hope to hear from you about your favorites!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Cross-Stitched!

Yes, I am amazed too! I don't even want to do the math to figure out when I stitched last.
This week we are HOME, and I plan on stitching some more this afternoon.
This is Susan Rambo from SANQ. For some reason or other, I decided to change around some of the colors. I obviously thought I would recognize the colors months later so I did not jot down my changes. Argh. I'm not even sure I like the changes I made, but I am not picking anything out!!
I'm going to heat up my coffee, watch Mapp & Lucia on Netflix, and get stitching!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekly Report 14 November - 18 November

It has been an interesting week to say the least!


Louisiana Man helped me with science. I am intimidated by science projects and experiments. Louisiana Man engineered a balance and hung it from the ceiling fan/light. He thought it was an improvement on the design in the book and triumphantly called me to come take a look.

Louisiana Man: And people wondered why I got a Master's degree!

Michele: Um, Honey, your Master's was in Anglo-Saxon literature.

Louisiana Man: Yes, and it broadened my mind.

Michele: 'K

Then it was off to the first of two birthday parties this week. Never fear, Mommy Lawyer's husband kept the peace with his pink light saber! ;)


We got a bit of extra work done on Monday because Nutmeg had no violin lesson. It is amazing how much time is spent on driving around here!
There just happened to be a Degas painting featured on Monday in our beloved Metropolitan Museum Art Calendar. I was lazy and decided that would do for the week's Picture Study. Then we read Degas and the Dance. It is a wonderful introduction to the artist and some of his works. I am hoping that my little ballerinas will continue to look through it in the coming weeks.

We went light on art this week, but I do have more Degas activities planned.
I recently discovered Anna Nilsen's books, and Nutmeg has enjoyed solving the puzzles in two of her books. We have had the game Art Shark which is also by Nilsen. I hope we can start playing it this coming week.

Nutmeg is still perfecting Tchaikovsky's piano piece Mazurka, and we listened to Tchaikovsky Discovers America by Classical Kids.


Tuesday's school work included the "usual suspects." We began SOTW vol 3 chapter 7 and learned about tobacco and "unwilling colonists." The girls were not thrilled about the pictures I found of smokers' lungs. They weren't thrilled about the pictures of healthy lungs either!

Buttercup did a fantastic book report on Magic Treehouse's Thanksgiving on Thursday. I have a love-hate relationship with this series. Make that like-hate. The writing is abysmal, but the stories are just so darn handy for history and even science! I hope Madeleine Takes Command and the stories on her iPod will balance out Magic Treehouse!


Wednesday was a big day at our house! Nutmeg got braces!!!

Doesn't she look cute? She is still excited about them, but she is uncomfortable. It is amazing that we can see progress on certain teeth in the first couple of days!


Thursday was a special day for Princess Buttercup: she had her fall piano recital. She did a great job playing Alligator Walk. Her class also sang two class songs and played an ensemble piece. For the ensemble piece, the class was divided into two parts. This helps them with auditory discrimination. In the middle of the piece, they accompanied themselves as they sang in Solfege (do-re-mi). It never fails to amuse me when I notice all the moms, including myself, tapping their feet, nodding their heads, mouthing/whispering the counts or notes, and occasionally letting a "shhh" escape on a "rest!" It is amazing how invested a mother feels about her child's recital piece!

Then it was dinner with my parents who came to the recital, and a trip to one of those frozen yogurt places where you load your healthy, low fat frozen yogurt with every imaginable candy and confection.


I hope today will be a stay-at-home-day which is actually rare in the life of a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom! I plan on a few video segments from Discovery Education on Degas, and maybe we will check out the conservation of mass with sugar cubes and water.

Here is one last picture from the week. When you hear my children complain that learning Latin is a chore, think of this picture of Buttercup learning Latin, and don't feel too sorry for them!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekly Report??????

It's just always something, isn't it? I thought this would be the week that I got everything back on track after being sick. Well, this turned out to be Teeth Week around here! The girls had a dental cleaning on Tuesday (the morning after Halloween - eek!), and then the orthodontist had a cancellation so we took the appointment. We sped 20 minutes south, and learned Nutmeg definitely needs braces. Her teeth really aren't crooked, but they are not aligned properly. Poor Nutmeg was mortified when the orthodontist looked at her teeth and said, "Mom, we have problems!" X-rays and photos were made, and Thursday we had the official consultation and made appointments for braces. I also need to call the bank - between braces and dance costume fees, I will need a new box of checks! :P

Homeschool...homechool...homeschool...Oh, I think I remember! Isn't that when you load the van up with books and binders, sharp pencils and Cheetos, and play some classical music and ask for oral narrations as you drive around three counties?

No, I'm not joking.

Yes, it really was that bad.

Art is our memory of love. The most an artist can do through their work is say, let me show you what I have seen, what I have loved, and perhaps you will see it and love it too. ~Annie Bevan

Somehow the girls managed a few violin and piano practices. We have to put the puppy Hector outside when Nutmeg plays violin. See the video that may or may not be at the bottom of this post. Buttercup has a piano recital in two weeks, and Nutmeg is working on Tchaikovsky's Mazurka for her piano lesson.

We are studying Degas and Tchaikovsky for six weeks in anticipation of The Nutcracker. There are so many great books for children about these two artists; it was really difficult to come up with material for Corelli. This week we listened to The Story of Tchaikovsky (Alright, so the music we listened to in the van was not classical, strictly speaking.) I have to say, I did not care for much of the music. Rubinstein described some piece as "clumsy," and I have to agree.

The girls did Picture Study of this painting by Degas.

It is wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago. ~ Dan Quayle

This week we read chapter 5 of SOTW vol 3. Yes, we are behind, but I do not regret spending extra time on French Canada and Native Americans. That will lay a good foundation for the upcoming French and Indian War as well as provide material for a comparison of relations between the Natives and the different colonial powers. Chapter 5 was Japan and Hideyoshi. Now, I know that SOTW was intended to be fairly neutral and that neutrality is of course impossible in a history text. However, I was a bit surprised to learn what was left out of the account of Hideyoshi - his horrible persecution of Christians. As I read the chapter aloud, the girls kept asking, "Is he a Good Guy or a Bad Guy?" I didn't know; I supposed it would make a great deal of difference whether one were Japanese or Korean or Chinese. As I looked up dates to record on our books of centuries, I realized that it was Hideyoshi who was responsible for the 26 Martyrs of Japan or Nagasaki Martyrs. You can read more about them here. I think that settled the girls' question for our family.

We are looking at Japan and some of it's famous landmarks for geography this week. I am also trying to use Trail Guide Geography again. I just need to make it a habit.

History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity. ~ Cicero

This week I spent a lot of time working on my Book of Centuries timeline. I realized some time ago that I did not have the room for the wall timeline I had envisioned, not to mention it kept falling off the wall! I spent time reading many blog posts and articles about Charlotte Mason-inspired BOCs. I finally went with a template from I was just going to write down dates as I came in contact with them, but it was just so addictive that I followed many rabbit trails! I also put my collection of trash old Teaching Company catalogues to good use.

The TC catalogues are good for many things. I frequently pull out and laminate charts and maps.

I am helping Nutmeg put together her own BOC with the same template as I choose for myself. I ordered a landscape binder for her from Home School in the Woods.

Those were some of the highlights this week!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I am slowly and gratefully getting back into a groove. For about two weeks I was sick with "a little" pneumonia and a sinus infection. I'm not convinced the sinus infection is gone, but I am feeling much better. So many things went undone; I missed a masquerade party, several of the "parent observation week" dance classes, school work, housework...

I did manage to throw a Halloween "Dessert and Charlie Brown" party. Somehow I got the house clean and went on a baking spree (I was on antibiotics, so the cookies were safe!). We did not watch Great Pumpkin; the children were too busy running around, and the adults had plenty to chat about.

There has not been much time for stitching. There has been plenty of running around making sure costumes and hair were perfect for Halloween!

We had a great Halloween! We usually go to our town square for trick or treating. We always run into so many people we know, see all the kid and pet costumes, and do not have to worry about cars and children in the dark. The "group" we were trick or treating with changed throughout the night, and our dinner reservations fell apart, but we had a great dinner with a great group of people in the end. We were seated outside, and we just about froze - thank goodness for Irish coffee! :)

I keep thinking that now Halloween is over things will slow down and get back to "normal." A quick glance at my planner shows birthday parties every weekend, orthodontist appointments, Latin quizzes, holiday gatherings, and, at some point, Christmas shopping! Somehow I need to find time for that Solomon's Temple sampler on the new SANQ!