yarn along

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Still knitting on wren’s like sleeves top here and there between working on my campside shawl and a test knit hat for noah.  I’ve been having some pain in my wrist and elbow, so I’ve slowed a bit to rest and not overdo it.

Picked up a few books from the library, Homeschooling with the Brain in Mind and Play the Forest School Way.  You can tell what I have on my mind!  Play the Forest School Way is one I wanted to look through before I buy it and I do like what it offers.

Joining with Nicole for this week’s Crafting On.
Affiliate links included.

home and away

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“The Scarecrow listened carefully, and said, ‘I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place you call Kansas.’

‘That is because you have no brains,’ answered the girl.  ‘No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful.  There is no place like home.'”

-The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

In a recent blog post I shared all about planting our garden, only to discover on this past Saturday morning that the bulk of what we had planted had been eaten by a family of groundhogs.  Our entire day Saturday was spent rectifying the situation, digging a 1 ft deep trench around the garden and putting up fencing.  It was an all-day slog, half of it done in pouring rain and in between nursing and napping babies and feeding children.  It was a ton of hard work and come Sunday, I just wanted to get out of the house.  It can be a point of tension for Brandon and I sometimes on the weekends–he, working outside of the home and eager to be home and rest and work on projects here.  I, working inside the home all week, eager to get out on the weekends and be refreshed elsewhere.  On Sunday he agreed to drive up to a favorite spot of mine on the parkway for a hike and picnic.  No sooner had we hiked to the top of the ridge and he took a few photos for me of my finished Timber cardigan, when the skies opened up and began pouring on us again.  We got back to the car muddy and soaked (again) and ended up eating our picnic in the car at a pretty overlook.  It was fun and refreshing.  But still, when it was all said and done everyone was eager to go home and get cleaned up.

It’s funny how our ordinary days can feel so gray and blah sometimes and we are eager for more beautiful country, but in the end there really is no place like home.  In the end most of our lives are lived in the ordinary moments, and it’s these I’m convinced we’ll look back on with the most fondness.  All the glory we didn’t realize was such until later. I think that’s why I teared up when I read that quote from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz while reading to the children.  Sometimes it feels like we aren’t doing enough, sometimes I feel like I’m not giving them enough, like I’m not enough.  Like these days are too gray and dreary for them compared to all the fancy and exciting things other families are able to do for their children.  I’m hoping that this proves true–that there’s no place like our home for them, our simple ordinary growing-up-together years.

We are wrapping up our final official day of school TODAY (!!!) and with tomorrow’s fresh new month begins our “summer break.”  Now, of course, I don’t plan to quit all things educational, but our schooling will look less like ploughing through the necessities and more like soaking in our curiosities.  I hope to do lots of reading on a blanket in the yard, lots of adventures and hikes and exploring.  Learning along the way, delving deep into whatever strikes our fancy.  Making time for crafts and fun, garden discoveries and kitchen experiments, field trips and camping.  Sadly, these are the things we have so little time for during ordinary school days.  I read a comment by a fellow homeschooling mom recently who said they don’t take breaks for summer because schooling is their way of life and they don’t feel the need to take a break from it.  I’m trying not to feel “less than” upon reading that.  The reality is, the last couple of months have been quite a challenge with Phoebe and getting our work done and she and I both need a break.  I don’t think a break or a shift into more passive learning is a bad thing or gives schooling a negative connotation.  The reality is, learning is hard work sometimes, and taking a break can be refreshing.  Just like escaping to the mountains for a rainy hike makes coming home all the sweeter.  I so want to recapture for her (and I!) the joy of learning and discovery and remind her that learning is a part of every facet of daily life.  But at 7 years old, I don’t feel the need to constantly call everything we do “school.”  I believe that giving the children a wealth and breadth of experience and information will enrich their minds and souls.  I still think they need long stretches of play, free time, time to explore, imagine, and discover on their own.  What better time than summer for such things?  So yes, we will keep practicing flashcards and we’ll keep reading books together, but mostly we are hoping for some fun and some adventures.

yarn along

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My husband and I were away this past weekend on a small trip to a cabin nearby to celebrate our anniversary (I hope to share more about it in a post later this week).  I took along a few projects, but worked only on my timber cardigan.  Sadly, I really didn’t knit as much as I planned to, with a baby in arms often and just spending time talking with Brandon and resting, too.  I did basically knit one sleeve of the cardigan and hope to finish the second one up this week maybe.  Then it’s just knitting the pockets and it’s done!  I know its nearly summer and we have already had a good bit of hot, humid days.  We often go up on the blue ridge parkway in the warmer months for hikes and picnics and usually its a lot chillier up there, so I plan to wear it as soon as I need a warm layer!  It fits a little snug considering I began it before I was pregnant and so it will fit better after I get back to my normal size, but it still fits.  I put my arm in the finished sleeve last night and it’s the first time I’ve been wrapped up in Brooklyn Tweed yarn.  I’m sold for life.  It is so incredibly cozy.  How can it be so rustic and so comfortable at the same time?  I love it.

I’ve been reading Love in a Time of Homeschooling by Laura Brodie (affiliate link) and enjoying it so far.  Her writing style is engaging, and after hitting some real walls with Phoebe in school this year I feel like I need some helps and was drawn to this book being its about a mother and daughter relationship.  Being that God has seen fit to entrust me with three girls, I find I’m drawn often to things about the mother/daughter relationship, really hoping to do this well and feeling often like I’m not.  Goodness, parenting is hard.  Homeschooling is hard!  Thank goodness for knitting and the bright spot it is–a productive distraction.  Here’s a better picture of the cardigan so far.

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Linking up with Nicole of Frontier Dreams.  

a background of beauty

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It’s hard to believe it is the last week of October.  This month is slipping by so quickly, this shoulder month when days flicker between feeling summery and wintry.  We play outside so much during this month and want to soak up every minute of it.  The way the light seems somehow richer, golden, playful.  The sound of the dry leaves clattering to the ground, the crisp air, pumpkins sprinkled everywhere.  I’m slowly trying to make headway on home projects, mainly getting more organized inside our home.  I’ve struggled to feel at home here, and I’m eager to hang pictures and find homes for every little thing, making sense of the space we have.  Something in me longs to make a beautiful, simple, and inviting home for my family and also anyone else who comes into our home.  It often feels overrun by the chaos of books and papers, toys and random articles of clothing that have been dispensed of.  Such is life with small children, but still we can’t give up entirely.  Children inherently love cozy–waking with tousled hair and pulling a chair up by the fire in the early morning dark.  Happily digging through the bin of winter hats and gloves and finding their old favorites once again.  Setting up little homes outside and in, building forts in with fallen limbs and creating elaborate block fortresses.  I think of these words from Edith Schaeffer:

In spite of wilting leaves after a period of time, the memory of that table is as vivid as if it had painted on canvas.  Indeed, the memory of even short-lived beauty makes it worthwhile to take time and energy to provide a background of beauty for the human relationships developing in your home.  Children growing up in an atmosphere where beauty is considered an important part of daily life cannot help being inspired to develop their own original ideas in these areas, nor can they help being prepared to live aesthetically themselves.

-The Hidden Art of Homemaking

The reality is life isn’t always beautiful, even in our own homes where we long to create a haven and a rest from the cruel and dark world.  So this work is hard, plodding, slow, marked by repentance and effort and dependence on God.

This year we’ve done some of our usual fall traditions: picking apples, visiting a farm, painting pumpkins, leaf rubbings.  What are some of your favorite fall traditions?  I’m slowly getting back into my knitting rhythms, so very happily.  I’ve cast on for Philippa’s birthday sweater (her birthday is one month from today!) with that lovely shepherd’s wool, and I have so many ideas for each of the kid’s birthdays and christmas this year.  Brandon (with the help of my dad) brought home a free play gym that they disassembled from a neighbor’s yard, and we have plans to reassemble and fix it up soon as part of the children’s christmas present.  Many projects on the go, many still to come, while we spend our days doing school, reading books, collecting and making pretty things.  The very best time of year is still to come, and I’m wanting to clear our home and hearts, preparing and making room for the happiest season of celebrating birthdays and Christmas.

an overmountain field trip

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Last week I took the children on a little homeschool day trip along with our co-op to Spruce Pine, NC where the annual Overmountain Victory Celebration is held.  What an awesome opportunity it was to explore a living history of the 1780s militia encampment, learning about the time period and the history of the Overmountain men fighting British forces.  Phoebe relished the chance to dress-up sort of Laura Ingles style (her interpretation), and she was pretty enraptured with each station, learning about fabric dying, fire starting, cooking over a fire, corn-husk doll making, how to use the lucet (knitting fork), and the general dress and culture of this time in history.  It was fun to bring to life the period of history we are studying for her, and I so appreciated all the people who gave their time and energy to make something like this happen.  We all had a really fun day and each learned a few things!  Noah and Philippa were only mildly amused, mostly enjoying rolling down the grassy hill.  Still, I love including them and planting little seeds and curiosities in their minds.