Thursday, October 20, 2016

Think, Think, Think...

I keep thinking I need to set aside time to update my blog, but I just never seem to make the time. Well, today might not be the day for a big update, but I thought perhaps I might dip my toe in the water, as it were, and attempt some sort of post in the hopes that it would get me going again.

When I was blogging regularly, I felt so much more organized, or at least managed chaos a bit better. Goodness knows, life with two teenagers (EEK!) is very chaotic.  Homeschooling continues, sort of, and now we've added tons of musical theatre, dance, voice, and now, piano lessons.  Mom's Taxi service is almost always on the go, or so it seems.  A pinched nerve in my upper back shut down all crafting (knitting, spinning, sewing) for a while, and frankly, most physical labor of any intensity. That was The Most Painful Thing I've experienced since my foot surgery, when the pharmacy messed up my meds and left me coming out of surgery and a nerve block with ZERO pain meds.  That set a whole new threshold for Serious Pain, I can tell you.  Of course, the pinched nerve pain took days to medicate properly thanks to doctors (my primary was out of town) who felt that my drug allergies = a drug problem. (Not wrong, strictly speaking, but they failed at the "do no harm" thing.)  Then there was the two solid weeks I spent flat on my back not moving to do anything other than self care (showers, loo, eating).  Meh.  I survived, and am still recovering, but the ability to craft is back, though I've learned something about proper posture, the importance of frequent breaks, and keeping muscles, etc., in good health.

So, now I'm slowly working my way back to crafting, and I'll see if I can add this blog back to at least a weekly update.  I love looking through it to see projects I've completed, I guess I need the encouragement to see progress made.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Little Surprises

Warning, this is a bit of a whine. By "bit", I mean "quite a bit".  If you're up for it, carry on.  Sometimes, you just need to get it all out.

I suppose I should pop in here more often.  I had no idea how much it had changed. lol   I shouldn't be surprised, but I was.

One thing became rather clear to me this past year, I have a ridiculous need for 'order'.  Well, except when it come to anything that looks like housecleaning, then I'm good with a little disorder (though I still have my limits).  This need for order, for routine, can be a very helpful tool in life.  I make plans, I work towards goals, I get things done, I make new plans, etc.  That's all good, right?

Where it utterly falls apart is in the homeschool area.  This beautiful, wonderful kids are breaking my brain and have just plain ol' run me ragged these past few years.  We've worked on school for 3 full school years and two full summers in order to try to finish courses on time for the next fall.  I have rearranged our schedules and daily due dates in order to facilitate getting everything done on time.  It makes no difference.  We're here in another summer (and the weather is finally starting to look like summer), and courses are not finished. Again.

I have a lovely younger child who is probably most like me.  She is motivated by due dates, but once she's 'caught up', she's not interested in doing extra work to get ahead.  Unless there's crossword puzzles involved.  Then, she's all over it.  The eldest wants to do the bare minimum to pass, couldn't organize her way out of a paper bag and doesn't really care about deadlines at all.

Of course, in addition to school we have Musical Theatre classes, voice lessons and dance class.  Also include the extra practices that come just before performances, studios that didn't organize performaces very well this year, etc., and that's a bit closer to life these days.

This Spring, I became very aware that we are all burned out.  I have no time for things I enjoy (including blogs - reading or writing), and I'm too mentally toasted to enjoy much of the time when I do get it.  The kids are in desperate need for free time with no schedule pushing them around.  So.  I declared that there would be no mandatory schooling this summer. 


I carefully laid out a schedule that would help the girls complete 90% + of their courses by the end of June (June 29 was the Last Day of required school), with just a small amount of classes to be made up over the summer if they chose to do so.  I informed them that I would gladly help them with any work they chose to do over the summer, but other than ask if they were doing any, I would not schedule any classes like that. 

My only requirements for the summer are that the girls work on some typing skills every day (a computer typing game, not a hardship), some foreign language lessons each day (1 or 2, and on the computer), and we are going to work on handwriting skills (printing and cursive).  We can easily complete all of these in an hour.  If they don't happen every day, no worries.  The eldest also volunteered to do a summer Math Lab, an online math class that meets for 1 hour Mon - Thurs.  She did this over the past school year, and it has made a world of difference in her math scores.  Even more exciting, she likes the class!

Now, the eldest has a huge pile of classes that she didn't finish for the year.  We were making great progress, but we hit technical difficulties.  The state cut the budget for online learning programs (they don't seperate optional online learning experiences from full-time online public school in the budget, so when they cut one, they cut the other), so the county in which our school is located decided to eliminate the school from their budget.  The technological impact of this was to switch all students and learning coaches (that's me) to another county's system. 

Let me start by saying this was to be a "Seamless Transition".  When you're done laughing, I'll continue.  No.  It's okay.  Laugh some more.

Yeah.  So, the week before my selected deadline, the whole system shut down and we couldn't get in to 'see' any of our classes.  Since many of them have at least part of the class and/or assessments online, this affected everything.  Now sweat, I thought.  We'll just push out that Last Week and do it the next week and we'll all be okay with that.  Uh-huh.  So it is now July 20th, the system still isn't working properly.  They reset all course values to the beginning of LAST fall, so the kids cannot see what is truly remaining in their courses.  Technically, we can continue to work forward (I do know where we are in the coursework, even if it isn't showing), but the kids won't voluntarily work on their own because it is a) depressing to look at all the zero values, b) really frustrating to have to look up each class in our workbooks to figure out where to go next, and c) much, much easier to just ignore the whole thing.

I've spent weeks on the phone talking to the same people who don't know anything, only now they've become people who can tell me the problem is located elsewhere in the system (a place I can't call) where they are working on a solution, with no idea when it will be corrected.  It seems they were surprised that it wasn't "seamless" and are trying to get it sorted out.  ALL of the students were affected, but I am just flabbergasted that so many students who are working to finish courses over the summer will be struggling with the system as it is.  As of now, there's no guarantee that any current progress will be properly meshed with the old progress when the system is fixed.  So, there could be yet another problem on the horizon.

So.  My attempt at letting go this summer, letting the chips fall where they may, letting the kids determine where they'd be next fall, etc.  Not working out so well.  I don't seem to be able to relax about the whole thing - AT ALL.  The kids' stress levels are on the decrease, I think.  Mine?  Not so much.

I spent two months planning for the Tour de Fleece this year.  I've had exactly 3 days in which to spin.  It ends on Sunday.  I have very little time for any spinning between now and then.  This plan failed spectacularly, and my stress levels reflect that.  Himself took a week off of work to 'do things around the house'.  Oddly, I thought that meant do his things, not involve the entire family.  I didn't schedule for that. We got lots of stuff done around the house, but I'm not really enjoying the positives that should go with that because all of it involved messing with my schedule (mostly to spin or just relax). 

Here it is, mid-July, and I still haven't reached a place where I can just relax.  I set very few goals for myself this summer.  One was to try to let the school thing go.  Just let the kids deal with their choices.  After all, it is homeschool and the 'grade level' thing isn't a huge deal.  We aren't that far off the mark.  The other thing was to just take time to knit and spin and read for fun. Okay, maybe toss some video games in there and a little sewing.  So far, that really isn't happening.  I keep telling myself that "next week, things will open up", but that isn't happening yet.  Other people (okay, Himself) keeps adding stuff to my plate and I really think I'm going to have to completely freak out before he stops.  I've shared how stressed I am, I've shared that it is due to too many scheduled things and not any time to just relax without having to do something or be somewhere.  Apparently, I speak an unknown language, because I went out of my way to be very clear in my word choice and explanation of my mental state.  sigh 

See me? Organizing my free time?  I can't enjoy the things he has planned because it doesn't fit in with what I wanted to do for relaxation this summer.  Friends call up and want a play date at the park?  I have to grit my teeth to go.   I can't seem to let the need to organize go long enought to just enjoy whatever it is that I'm doing.
Guess it is time to try again.  But I'm still having trouble with the school thing.  I think I may be broken.  Why is it so hard to let that go? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When did Mondays start lasting all week?

I mean, I get that it happens now and then, but two weeks running?  :P 

We are not off to a good start this year.  I am extremely unhappy about that.  The changes in our online school program are really making it hard to get going.  Thank you, State of Washington, for screwing up a great program and making it harder to get any school done during the day.  NOT. 

The attitude of my youngest is making it even harder.  How do you spend 3 hours reading and get nowhere?   I'd bang my head on a wall, but I already have a headache.  She is all excited about working harder and getting done sooner, but she isn't doing the work.  I'm trying to get all the new regulations sorted and push her to do her work.  We had a great first week, then :P. 

I am hopeful that we will find a way to get it together, but she is really just NOT working.  Somehow.  Ah, Week 1 was So Promising!

I signed up to do an online course on the Constitution from Hillsdale College.  So far it is really interesting, but it is tough working it in around trying to get the youngest to do her daily work.  I really need more than 24-hours in a day. lol

On the painting side of life, I've finally decided that the color I used in the entry is too dark to keep.  The few days of clouds, and the evenings spent contemplating color, just back me up.  The lighting in our house is not very bright.  I want some new lighting in the entry, but it won't happen for a while and it still might not fix the problem.  After painting swatches near the brick on the fireplace, I've also decided this color goes a bit too yellow for me.  So, I'll be repainting that space a shade lighter and slightly different (more blue-green).  Not looking forward to the whole mess, trying to squeeze it in around the school work that already isn't getting done as it should.   On the up side of things, there's a big sale on the paint I'm using starting Friday, so I can get all the paint I need at a good savings.

Always have to look for the positive.

The sweater is proceeding nicely.  I'm on my first sleeve, and things are going nicely. After reading, and rereading, project notes for this pattern, I'm feeling pretty confident about the choices I'm making for the collar and button band (which is new to me).  I've got two sets of buttons secured, and will choose once I get a band done.  I've been rather lazy about the pictures, though. I need to remedy that situation very soon.

I'm also trying to do the Scary Sock KAL again, love these socks!  Sadly, my sock mojo is missing and I am really struggling to get things done with that KAL.  So far, we've had Frogs, Bride of Frankenstein and The Door With Seven Locks.  Very cute patterns, not enough time (or needles)!  I'm still hoping to get some done this year.  Ah, where are my time management skills?  Anyone see them?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More painting

Spent a bit more time last week painting the entry.  The final color does not really match the little paint card I was choosing from, and is much darker than the wet paint.  I'm not 100% sure how I feel about it, which I think means I need to repaint.  I think my waffling on the final color is because I don't want to repaint that space.  But, it was easier than I thought, though it did take all day, and if knitting has taught me anything, it is that it is worth the time to do things right.

So, I'm thinking I'll get some paint samples, and put those on the wall before making any additional decisions.  It is a nice color, don't get me wrong, but it is a bit dark (or is that deep?) for the area, at least darker than I intended, and what I put in this space will determine what I use in the rest of the living area (the walls all run together).  I really need to make sure I am happy with this choice before I can move forward.  I really need to move forward before the rain/clouds comes back to stay.  I really don't need to get paralyzed by indecision. lol

Speaking of taking the time to do things right, I just ripped a couple of inches out of the sweater.  Again.  At least I'm only at the shoulders, not starting all over again. lol  This time, I've second-guessed myself silly over the sleeves.  There's a provisional cast-on, but it does not say to use waste yarn, nor does it say anywhere in the pattern to pull out the waste yarn and pick up the live stitches and keep knitting.  I decided that since all my other patterns have been more specific, maybe the designer didn't mean that, and that I should do something more creative.  After a few inches, and more thought, I realized that the designer probably expected that I would just know that a provisional cast on should always be done in waste yarn, or something like that, and I was a doofus for trying to make it more complicated.  So, it is ripped, provisional cast on with waste yarn is done, I just need to get back to the knitting part.  I didn't realize the lengths I'd be willing to go to in order to avoid weaving in extra ends!  Because, that's pretty much the reason I got all creative with it. 

We helped a friend today by babysitting her two-year old.  Wow.  I'd forgotten how very busy they are. lol  The girls played with her all morning, and after her (too short) nap.  We got up extra early today, however, and I haven't been sleeping very well.  I'm exhausted!  I'm also rather surprised that ripping went so well on the sweater.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Finally Framed

I bought this print about 7 years ago.  I never got it framed thinking I could just do it myself. cue maniacal laughter  So, I found a big coupon on framing and bit the bullet, stopped putting it off and just got it done.  This, in turn, led to picking out a paint color and painting the room to go with the painting.

No.  The painting needed to happen.  We've been in this house 11 years.  The white walls look like it, in many places, and I've decided I should learn to embrace the fact that this is my house and I can paint the walls if I want to.  Not sure why that is hard for me to grasp, but it is.  Also, painting is a lot of work, so if I'm going to do it, no barely-not-white colors need apply.  Well, unless that's what I really, really want.

So, here's my newly framed print, at long last, and my very colorful room.

This is a Waterhouse print, Circe Invidiosa.  I love the colors in this print so much.  I have no idea why, but, there it is.

I spent the day yesterday painting my room with my kids.  I found that one of them is a bit erratic, but a crazy hard worker.  The other loses interest quickly and is a sloppy worker.  Okay.  I knew about the sloppy thing in advance, but I was a Good Mom and did not pick on her for the messes (they weren't too bad), just thanked her for her hard work.  They made the work go faster, though it still took up the whole day.

I got virtually nothing else useful done this weekend, other than cleaning out their closet, but I sure love my "new" room!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ending just in time to start


Yep.  Homeschooling two, in two different grades turned out to be more challenging than I ever thought.  Add in lost time when 1 is sick, much less when they are both sick but at different times, and, well.  This looks like a math equation, but mostly just = FAIL.  Then the music theatre class sucked out about 6+ hours per week of teaching time, the vacation days, time off for funeral, etc.  Wow.  

This year was an amazing learning experience, it just didn't fit into the "school year" timeline.

I gave up on blogging for a while, trying to stay afloat in everything else.  I didn't 'float' so well, but here we are the last few days before the next school year, and the kids are just finishing their work for last year.  I really need a vacation (October!), but we stagger on.  I think we've worked out the things we need to change to be more successful next year, so I'm optimistic.  The girls both admit they would have forgotten too much, and they "would've been bored" (their words, really), if they hadn't had some school to do over the summer.  We all agree that some school over the summer is a good thing.  Just not as much as we had. 

So, we are almost finished, just the eldest still working away.  She should be done tomorrow, but we'll see.  She's starting to get really lazy, getting in the way of her own success, really.  How often do we all do that each and every day.  My kids are really teaching me some valuable lessons in this process.  Stop getting in my own way.  Who knew?

The new school year starts on Tuesday, 9/6.  We'll have a little down-time as the new materials will be late in coming since the girls were late finishing.  So, some slower days to recover from the mad rush to finish.  Oddly, both are asking me to push them to work this hard from the beginning of the year.  You might think this is so they can finish early and have a longer summer.  What they say they really want?  To move ahead to the next grade faster.  When I've suggested this as a possibility in the past two years, they have rejected the idea as unappealing.  I have no idea what changed, but I hope I can set a good pace that will move them in that direction without burning us all out.

Seriously.  I need a vacation.  NOW.

We will make our scheduled family vacation in October, as per usual.  Florida is on the roster this year, and we are in heated debate regarding the parks we will visit this year.  I'm pretty sure that is all sorted out, but until the tickets are in my hand, I won't believe that any decision is final.  Sadly, the airfare jumped quite a bit in the time we've been kicking around ideas.  We really need to get that sorted soon.  We got all flummoxed when Himself announced a work trip to either London or Frankfurt.  There was a brief flurry of thought along lines of altering the family vacation to Europe, but spur-of-the-moment trips like this are very much out of the budget.  So, no go on that one.

My lovely girls are very sad to miss an opportunity to visit "all those cool places we've studied in history" and have to go to amusement parks instead.  Ah.  They are wonderful girls. :)

It seems a bit much to try to fill in all the blanks since I last posted a million years ago, so I won't try.  But, a highlight from the year was Tour de Fleece.  I managed to reach my goals and had a blast doing it.  I never totaled my yardage, but I was pleased.  I tried spinning from my first batts, managed some heavier weight yarn than my "usual", and spun with some new elements like firestar, faux angora, etc. My new goal is to knit with some handspun before next year.  I was surprised to realize I had never done that!

Oh well, off to finish up more schooling.  We'll see if I can't juggle more things this year. lol

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March Madness

Well, more like sickness.  The kids both have what must be the slooooooowest moving bug I can remember encountering.  The symptoms took nearly a week to move to the "real" sick stage, including fever.  I'm still in the "I don't feel quite right, but I don't really feel sick" stage.  I have no idea if I will get worse, or better.  Down side, eldest has spent her 11th bday feverish.  Up side, we had the party last week when everyone was healthy (though the symptoms were starting to show).

Himself stayed healthy long enough to toddle off to Long Beach to give a presentation at a Writers conference.  He gets temps in the 70s and sunshine, we have temps in the 50s and a steady rain.  Fair trade, I guess, since no one here is healthy enough to enjoy good weather anyway.

I'm busy knitting along on a test knit.  A pair of mittens for the upcoming Princess Bride Sock Club (for which the RNG did not see fit to select me!).  I'm loving the mitts, though the yarn I had on hand to use isn't the best choice for the pattern.  The yarn is beeeyootiful, but too busy for bits of the pattern.  I still like them.  A lot.

Sadly, my brain is over-eager to cast on many other projects now.  I really should not do that, though.  I've counted my WIPs recently.  I'm scared!  7.  I have 7 WIPs sitting around, some of them kind of big.  So, adding more would be a bad idea.  Right?  Yeah.  I think so too.  Which is why my crazed brain is determined to find new things for me to cast on.  In all my spare time.  lol


I love my brain.