Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Week of Homeschool!

We finished our first week of homeschool last Thursday. We go Monday through Thursday, and then take Friday off since that's Nate's day off.
It went so well! We do Bible, Math, Reading, and Drawing. Suzy is really doing well. We're using Phonics Museum by Veritas Press. It combines art with reading and writing. I've already seen Suzy expanding her appreciation of art, and we're only a week in!
She came to me one day dressed in a tutu and a yellow tank top. She handed me a red hair scarf and said, "Will you put in my pretty peach ribbon?" I tied back her hair, and she struck a pose. She clasped her hands behind her back, and tilted her head back. "Look!" she said, "I'm Degas' Little Dancer!" It was so cute!
This Friday we took a family field trip to the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis. Suzy was so excited to go! She chattered about it the entire one and a half hour drive. She loved looking at paintings of people, especially of queens and kings. She liked the jewelry! She's already asking when we can go back.
Tomorrow we start our second week, and I hope things continue as well as they have been!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Penland Academy for Young Ladies

Yesterday we received our home school curriculum. As Nate was pulling loads and loads of books out of the box, he was getting more and more excited, and I was getting less so. I began to have simultaneous feelings of happiness, self-doubt, and buyer's remorse!
I was happy because I love teaching Suzy, and I've been intentionally teaching her since she was 10 months old. I made little lesson plans, and had a checklist of developmental goals. I know, I know! But she’s my only one, so why not?
So, last year, she met all the preschool developmental goals. At that point, I had no idea what further to do with her. I had taught preschool for years, and poured all my training and experience into Suzy, and I flat-out hit a wall. I had no idea how to begin teaching reading beyond letter recognition. We decided that instead of the both Suzy and Momma languishing a whole year not knowing what to do, that we would start kindergarten early, with a complete, made-by-someone-else curriculum.
We went with Veritas Press. It’s a classical education, with a heavy emphasis on the arts and languages. We got the kindegarten-1st grade combo (so she’ll do it for two years) of their reading program, The Phonics Museum. It combines art history with reading. It seems like something we’ll like.
Also, since it’s a pretty good bet (given her parents) that she’ll be more artistically than mathematically gifted, we got “Drawing With Children”, a book to help parents teach their children the basics of drawing. I was dismayed to find that it was over an inch thick, with nearly a third being prepatory work for the teacher. This brought in the self-doubt. However, since Suzy already spends hours contentedly drawing, I think she’ll love it so much that it will be well worth it.
My one big area of doubt was the math curriculum. We bought Saxon K, even though Veritas Press recommends skipping it and doing Saxon 1 for kindergarten. But since she’s only four, we went with the K. Looking it over last night, I think about a half of it are concepts she already knows well. This brought the buyer’s remorse. I decided to just go ahead with it and skip the lessons that would be too boring. And it’s all based around a calendar workbook that starts in September. It’s October, so it makes it awkward. We may just skip to the September lessons all together.
Anyway, these are my first impressions of the curriculum. Tomorrow is my Teacher Work Day. Nate will keep Suzy, and I will haul all this stuff to the library and plan my lessons. I’m actually really looking forward to that! I am excellent at planning. Not so good on follow through, but excellent at the planning!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's 1996 Calling...

My husband decided to reduce our phone bill. His first effort was to cancel our unlimited long distance calling. But he forgot to tell, you know, Texas, Oklahoma, Lousiana, Alabam, Virginia...they all got called. I chatted my little heart out.
So the bill was WAY higher than before. He remembered to tell me about the long distance then. He went back to talking with the phone company, and decided to re-instate the long distance plan, and cancel voice mail. It irritated him that he was paying $120 a year for something so unhelpful. I say unhelpful, because I never checked it. The only notice that we had a message was a change in dial tone when you picked up the phone. I never noticed a change in tone, indeed, I hardly ever picked up the phone. It wasn't unusual for someone to ask if we got the message they left left last week. We would get home, and sure enough, there would be three or four messages from the previous few weeks. Everytime, Nate would explain, again, how I could call the voicemail and check messages. I never did, prefering to continue in my obliviousness.
After three years, my long-suffering husband decided to try another method of message recording. After cancelling the voice mail, he sent me to buy an answering machine.
I went, talking to nate on the cell phone all the while. I told him I couldn't find them. He said they were on the aisle with the phones. There was no aisle with phones. After asking for assistance, I was directed to a small shelf of phones nestled between shelves of DVDs. The worker said they didn't sell many phones anymore. After looking, I found one, and only one, answering machine.
Later that evening Nate watched some tapes he found in the attic. First, a 1996 Florida Gators football game. I was on facebook, constantly interrupted by his cries of, "Look, did you see that play? You're not even watching!" No sir, I was not. I have to draw the line somewhere, and watching football games from 15 years ago is that line. Afterwards, he watched a tape of the tourist attractions of southeast Alaska that he had bought when he went there in the late '90s. It too, was circa 1996. Seeing the boxy, unattractive clothes, the neat white ankle socks with black keds worn with unflattering shorts and giant tshirts, made me understand why no one has '90s parties.
Later, as I was getting ready for bed, I heard Nate in the other room setting up the answering machine. I listened to him practice out-going messages: "Hello, you've reached the Penland residence...Hello, this is the Penlands, please leave a message after the beep," ect, and the machine's voice saying "You have no unheard messages" over and over. I realized I hadn't set up an answering machine since 1999. That combined with the evening's viewings, made me feel warped back into time. It cracked me up. I laughed at the poor little machine. Nate didn't like my suggestion for an out-going message. "Hello, you've called the 1990's. Please hold while the space-time continium attempts to correct itself."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Taggy Blanket

I've neglected my poor little blog as bad as the withered English ivy I have on my kitchen counter. I don't know why I keep the plant corpse displayed like a monument to my ineptitude, but there it is to greet me every morning.
Back to the blog...I've been silent for a few months, but all the while I was taking before and after pictures of my projects, pictures of Suzy doing funny things, and anything else that I thought would be a good post.
Thursday I decided I really had to upload them and get back into the habit of posting regularly again. But they were gone! All my pictures! Hundreds! Except for about thirty pictures - pictures of the floor of the middle bedroom, the upper door frame of the same room, and some incriminating shots Yo Gabba Gabba and Dora on tv. Yes, my darling Suzy had deleted all my pictures and then played photographer.
So no cute before and after project posts. Nope. But not all proof that I haven't spent the past several months laying on the couch reading library books has been lost. My friend Mendi became my first-ever customer and commissioned me (it sounds so important!) to make a taggy blanket for her baby Lennox. I forgot to take pictures of it before I sent it, so Mendi went above the duty of a customer and took them for me. The bonus is that my four year old couldn't delete them.
So here it is:

A close-up of the print:

It's by Mary Englebert Breight. The illustrations are the same as in her book of fairy tales, which is one of the cutest I've ever seen.

Here are some close ups of the tags. I LOVED layering ribbons and trims to make the tags. They were so fun.

I embroidered Lennox's initials in the center. His name is Lennox Melville Carlson. That sounds so dignified, like a president or a transcendental author. But let us hope for better things for him. ;o)

This is what it looked like all wrapped up and ready to ship. Except it's after shipping because I forgot to take pictures. So all wrapped up and recieved:

And my favorite, of the little chunk of love himself using the taggy at nap time. Isn't he cute? And huge. I'm pretty sure when he's two, he'll be able to tackle Suzy to the ground!

Mendi was my first paying customer. Don't tell her, but I would have made it for her anyway. This is her:

When my mother-in-law Jan was diagnosed with cancer, Mendi donated her hair to Locks of Love in her name. She had never even met Jan. How can you not love a girl like that?

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Recipe

I tried this recipe last night. It’s Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Baked Chicken. I made a lot of changes based on what I had in my pantry, so I’ve noted those in parenthesis.

Sticky Chicken
Olive oil, to drizzle
10 chicken drumsticks ( I had 13, so I cooked them all)
Sea salt and black pepper
For the glaze:
6 tablespoons honey (I used 7)
3 tablespoons fish sauce (I don’t do fish sauce – so I used Texas Pete’s hot sauce)
4 teaspoons light soy sauce (I was out of soy sauce, so I used Worchestershire sauce)
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons (I used a little over 1/2 cup of juice)
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (I had seasoned rice vinegar.)
4 teaspoons sesame oil (actually had that)


-Heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a large baking dish. Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper and arrange in the dish in a single layer. Drizzle over a little olive oil and bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

-Prepare the glaze in the meantime. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined.

-Take the chicken out of the oven and pour over the glaze, to coat each drumstick. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, turning several times, until the chicken is tender and nicely glazed.

-Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.

I piled the chicken in a smaller dish and poured the glaze from the cooking pan over it. It was so good!