30 September 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Sorry I missed last week, but be sure to check out the full carnival at RAnn's blog. I haven't blogged quite as much this week.  I have my standard posts of Book Nook and Crafty Thursday, as well as a post on our new caterpillars (swallowtails this time).

27 September 2012

Ugly Little Caterpillars

Monday afternoon I went out on the deck to water the plants and saw loads of ugly little caterpillars eating my parsley!  I counted over a dozen!  I wavered between being irritated that they were eating my parsley and intrigued by what kind of caterpillars they are.  I came in and went online, but I had trouble finding a match at first.  While site upon site told me about eastern black swallowtails eating parsley, the photos I found didn't match what I saw.  I finally stumbled across a photo of an eastern black swallowtail in its first instar, and that was a match.  It's amazing how much the appearance of the caterpillar changes over time, as these small ones look nothing like what they will look like.

they already look quite different
That night, and again the next morning, I cleaned out our caterpillar enclosure that we'd used with the Monarchs.  I cut off some of the parsley and put it in jars of water inside the enclosure, bringing in a total of six caterpillars.  I didn't want to bring them all in, since there were so many, but I also didn't want to leave them to destroy my parsley.  The benefit of knowing other homeschool families, though, is that I was able to give the other caterpillars to one of them.  However, I had another problem, in that the parsley wilts rather quickly.  So I just went out and got a small parsley plant to put in the enclosure with them.  Now we're all enjoying having caterpillars in the house again, and I hope we have success with the butterflies.

Crafty Thursday

Well, I have 8, I think, diapers completely made, with another ready to sew up, and more cut out, but without snaps, not to mention the scraps to make more patchwork ones.  I need to get more snaps, though.

In the meantime, I'm working on other projects, like Kieran's sweater (can I mention how much I love Ravelry?).  He helped choose the colours for the ribbed stripes.  I decided to do this on the old Brother knitting machine, even though it can only knit stockinette and not rib.  This means that every so often I had to take out half the stitches and work them back up by hand with a crochet hook to make it ribbed.  It was also tricky to decrease stitches evenly across a row with the machine, since this means moving all the stitches.  But it still went a lot faster than doing it completely by hand.  Now I'm putting the figures on with duplicate stitch, and then I'll do the sleeves.  I'm going to make it short-sleeved since it's rather warm here.

24 September 2012

Book Nook

This week's book is a fun storybook that doubles as a science book.  Oscar and the Moth: a Book About Light and Dark follows Oscar the cat as he learns about light and dark from a moth.  Both children have enjoyed reading about this cute little cat and his moth instructor.  Being a storybook, children will love it, and the bonus is that it is a good introduction to the science of light and dark.

20 September 2012

Crafty Thursday

I'm very happy to be past the barn on the playmat!  This means I only have one colour (two strands still, since I'm double-stranding the yarn to get the right weight).  Now if my mother's cat would stop chewing the yarn. . .

The majority of my time this week, though, has been spent making diapers.  I ordered more PUL from Diaper Sewing Supplies after someone else told me she'd gotten her PUL from there.  I also ordered some microfleece from them, as I think that'll be much better than using flannel for the lining - it'll definitely be softer.  And since I ordered a chocolate brown, it won't show stains, which is a bonus.  Because I spent over $15, I qualified to receive a free gift.  They gave me some choices, and I chose the scrap PUL.  The blue with farm animals on it is the scrap I received, and I love it.  I can't quite get a whole diaper out of it, but I can easily sew some of the red with it (I've become quite adept at French seams in piecing together the two patchwork diapers shown above).  I can get almost four complete diapers out of the red, with lots of scraps left over.  I think I can get three of the cow print.  And of course I'll piece together the scraps to make more.  Waste not, want not, in my opinion.

I also decided to go with KAM snaps instead of the metal ones I was using.  The metal ones were driving me insane, as only 50% of them were going in correctly, and some were even tearing the PUL.  But I didn't want to get the Babyville snap pliers or snaps, as I'd heard they weren't as good.  So I went on Amazon and found a seller in their marketplace and got their snaps and pliers.  They allowed me to choose two different colours, so I got green and brown, and I'm quite pleased with them.  I've had absolutely no problems with them working, unless I make a mistake, which is rare, as they're easy to use.  Honestly, before doing this my sewing skills weren't the best.  I wasn't a complete novice, but neither was I a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination.  While sewing with PUL does have a learning curve, I've found these to be fairly easy, and I'm learning new tricks with each one, it seems.  I'm quite pleased with how they're turning out.

19 September 2012


When it comes to clothing, I've never had much of a problem with self-expression. In fact, on my wedding day, my father reminisced about how I'd go to school wearing trousers, a skirt, and mismatched shoes and socks.  I enjoyed my unique style, and I still do.

My children seem to have inherited the knack for self-expression in their clothing.  Kieran often intentionally wears his shirts backwards and/or inside-out.  Charlotte refers to certain shirts as "styles".  She may not be able completely dress herself without help, but she is very opinionated about what she wears.  I enjoy seeing their personalities expressed in this way.

However, it seems some don't appreciate it.  When out-and-about, people sometimes comment about Kieran's choice of how to wear his clothes (Charlotte, being younger, doesn't seem to get the comments).  My motherly desire to protect my child means that I can have a hard time with such comments.  I don't want my child to become self-conscious or uncomfortable about his unique sense of style, but neither would I want him to conform just because of comments.  I don't want to fight his fis for him, but I need to give him the tools needed.  Perhaps I can stick with saying something simple like "that's how he wishes to dress" and telling him I appreciate his unique sense of style.

Actually, this reminds me of walking with Kieran through Liverpool.  For a while, he'd suddenly declare that we needed to do a silly walk or a dance walk.  So there we were, turning heads with our silly walking (we could've been on the Monty Python sketch).  I know we got funny looks, and I'm sure people wondered about us, but I have to say that it was more fun than just walking normally, and I will cherish that memory.  We no longer walk everywhere, which I miss, and now he's moved on to a new form of self-expression.  I will cherish this moment, as well.

17 September 2012

Book Nook

Today was library day, oh exciting day! It was made even more exciting by a certain 2-year-old running off a few times . . .

After she got that out of her system, though, we settled in to search for books. I randomly chose an aisle, and we started looking.  A book caught my eye, because we have the first book in that series.  In fact, I had no idea there were more books in the series until today.  What I did know is that our children have greatly enjoyed Melanie Watt's Chester, and so I figured they would also enjoy Chester's Back by the same author.  I may even like this one more than the original. Chester, the silly cat who is determined he can make a better story than the author, is back in this book with more of his own ideas, which inevitably backfire.  It's another fun read.

16 September 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Be sure to check out RAnn's for the full carnival!

This week I looked some at how education is perceived, the problem of trying to give solutions without identifying the problem, and I have more crafts to show. Have a blessed week!

13 September 2012

Crafty Thursday

 The diaper I made tested well on an adorable little girl I know, so I went ahead and cut out two more.  The only suggestion I was given was to change the snap layout on the tabs a little, and I agree, so I did change it on the one I made today.  I am going to be switching to KAM snaps after this diaper, though, as I'm having problems with these snaps not working well with the PUL.  I love this print and could easily make more like it.  Now that I'm used to the pattern, the sewing itself went faster, and even the leg elastic went fast.  I have hope that the other snaps will go faster, too, since I expect them to work a bit better. 

I'm still working on the playmat, too.  I'm very happy to be past the red part of the barn, as the red was annoying me some with its penchant for tangling.  I still have plenty of green and so I can make it as long as I wish after the barn, really.  

I can't take credit for this last one, but I want to show off my mother's handiwork.  She saw this pattern some time ago and got the yarn just because she wanted to try it out.  Charlotte decided that it's a fairy dress (she gets rather offended if you call it a skirt, in fact).  The skirt turned out well, as you can see (and yes, she takes orders).

12 September 2012

Giving a Solution Without Identifying the Problem

It seems to me that, when it comes to certain things, people (including some medical professionals) are quick to give a "solution" without first identifying the problem.  Here are just some examples that come to mind:

- Baby isn't gaining weight? Supplement! Yet the cause of the problem, be it tongue tie, lip tie, poor latch, insufficient glandular tissue, etc, isn't always identified before giving the "solution" of artificial milk. Yes, artificial baby milk has a place and can be necessary, but surely the underlying problem should be identified first, if possible, so the mum and baby can get the help and support needed.

- Baby isn't sleeping well? Sleep train, which usually involves cry-it-out (CIO) or controlled crying.  But why is the baby not sleeping? Are the parents' expectations of infant sleep appropriate, does the baby have reflux, night terrors, is the child too warm or cold, etc? Those who know me know I'm absolutely against CIO/controlled crying at all times and think there is always an alternative.  I do know there are times when we have to help our children learn proper sleep behaviors, but there are other resources available, such as The No-Cry Sleep Solution or Dr Jay Gordon's site.  Even then, though, the underlying problem needs to be identified.

- Have irregular/painful/wonky cycles? Go on the pill! Nevermind that this doesn't fix the problem if the problem itself isn't hormonal and doesn't require that specific combination/dosage of hormones.  There are problems which require hormonal treatment, but it seems to me that using bioidentical hormones at the specific levels needed would be better, but of course I'm not a doctor, so this is just my opinion as a laywoman. There are other underlying causes of cycle issues, though, that aren't hormonal.  For some, diet and exercise can help. Red raspberry leaf tea is supposed to help with cramps, and nettle tea with bleeding, but these aren't given as ideas to help.

What other examples do you see of this? I know there are medical professionals who do seek to find the underlying causes before treating, and that is wonderful. I also know that a doctor' time with a patient is limited, and therefore finding the underlying cause can be more difficult in these circumstances. Nevertheless, I wish all did, and I think we should expect this.

11 September 2012

A Narrow View of Education

When most people think of education, an image of rows of children sitting in desks, listening to the teacher is conjured.  For this reason, many are thrown off when a parent says he is home educating.  This is reflected in the requirements many states have for those who are home educating.  For example, a state may require standardised testing or submission of a portfolio.  Such requirements, though, presuppose that the home school will follow the same model as the average public school, with a set curriculum, set hours, and set lessons.

In my opinion, such requirements reflect a narrow view of what constitutes education.  I follow the unschooling model, for example, which clearly isn't what is in mind with the state requirements.  Instead of having a set curriculum or set lessons, I seek to make the most of the educational opportunities that present themselves and to expose my children to various things.  This is the approach we took with the Monarch butterflies, where we learned what we could about them by observing and by seeking out resources to learn more.  And yet there was never a formal lesson, just our life.  Or there's the fact that, without formal instruction but with constant exposure, Kieran can read some - considering he's not yet 5, I find that to be of significance.

If people ask if he's in school, though, I'm hesitant to answer in the affirmative, because I know the usual image people have is of formal schooling, be that in a school or at home.  At the same time, I could very easily answer in the affirmative, because my children are constantly learning through our everyday activities.  If they help me cook, they learn math and science; whenever we read, which is multiple times a day, they learn more about language, as well as the subject matter; when we go to the zoo, they learn science; when they build with Lego or Brio, they learn engineering and develop their imaginations.  Those are just some examples of how my children are learning, and of why education shouldn't be confined to formal lessons.  Perhaps one day the state will not cling to just that one narrow definition of education, and will recognise that education can and does take many forms.

9 September 2012

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic Carnival

Happy Sunday! (and happy feast day for my Kieran!) make sure you check out RAnn's blog for the full carnival. This week I've looked at a book, mused about the spiritual significance of the length of pregnancy, updated our Monarch caterpillar watch, and done a lot of crafting. I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

6 September 2012

Crafty Thursday

 My apologies for missing last week.  The day just got away from me.  I have lots to show off this week, though.  First up, my sweater.  It's finished!  I regret that I can't model it, as it doesn't quite fit over the bump, but I'm pleased with how it looks.  Can't wait to wear it!

Speaking of clothes not fitting over the bump, even my maternity clothes aren't covering the bump these days, and I still have approximately 9 weeks to go!  So my mother and I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to see if we could find any patterns.  Unfortunately, the selection is rather slim, but I finally found a Butterick pattern that claimed to be easy (I dispute that claim.  Granted, this is the first time I've sewn from a pattern like this, so maybe my definition of "easy" is different).  We found a nice ribbed knit, and I like the colour, so we went ahead and got it, not paying attention to the fact that it wasn't a 60" width like the pattern required.  This meant that I couldn't do the pattern I planned, but was able to do a different pattern in the pack.  Overall I like the shirt, though I think it could be a little wider/more flared, and I think the armholes are a bit large.  I wore a camisole under it, though, and it was fine.  Now to try making more maternity shirts!

When we were getting the materials for the shirt, I spotted a pattern book for cloth diapers and was intrigued.  I remembered that someone I know had made some diapers, so I decided to ask if she used the Babyville Boutique patterns or not. It turns out that she had used those patterns and had a good experience with it, so I decided I'd go back and try it out. After all, my bumGenius 2.0 diapers are wearing out pretty fast, and I'll need something else for the baby once he outgrows the Lollipop diapers I have (I have to say that we're pleased with the bumGenius overall, as they've lasted through potty-training two children; some are still fine, but the velcro, elastic, and PUL are starting to wear out on others).  Making my own diapers would also be a lot less expensive than buying a new stash.  So I returned to Jo-Ann's and picked up the pattern book and a pack of their PUL.  I saw their snaps, but thought they looked less durable than I'd like, though they're really cute, so I got some metal snaps and snap pliers from the notions section.  And then I found some soft flannel for the inner part.  Since I'm used to pocket diapers, I decided to try that.  The PUL pack I got came with two prints and one solid, but I decided to start with the solid one for my first try.  I really like the way it looks.  I used the medium template, and it looks to be the same size as my Fuzzibunz medium.  Since Charlotte's no longer wearing diapers during the day, I asked a friend to try it out before I make more, so I'll have to update once I hear back from her.  

Last for this week is a cute playmat I'm making for a Christmas present for the baby.  I found the pattern when browsing through my mother's Knitting Today magazines (now called Your Knitting Life, I think).  I figured it couldn't hurt to see if I could find the yarn for a good price, and I found a steal of a deal at Herrschner's.  While the yarn is thinner than what the pattern requires, I figured that even with double-stranding it, it would still be less expensive to get their chenille yarn than to buy the bulky chenille elsewhere.  While it can be annoying working with double the balls of yarn, especially when I'm using multiple colours, it's worth it.  It's also interesting how different colours of the same yarn feel and act differently.  For example, the blue is noticeably thinner than the green; the red is the only one that sheds, and it also tangles the worst of the three colours I've used thus far.  In case you've noticed the gap with the red, this is because the pattern calls for binding off stitches then casting on the same number the next row to make the barn door.  So right now I'm working the two sides separately, at the same time, and then I'll rejoin for the top of the barn.  This way, once the playmat has been lined with fabric, the barn door will be able to open and close to store the farm animal toys that will go with the mat.  Ingenious!  

5 September 2012

Monarch (caterpillar) Watch!

Well, our watch has come to an end, unless we happen to find more caterpillars on our milkweed plants.  The first caterpillar built a cocoon and emerged as a butterfly this past Sunday.  It was then taken outside and put on a milkweed plant.  The day started out nicely, but then a torrential rain hit.  While I was able to bring the plant (and butterfly) inside during the storm, without being in the sun the butterfly's wings didn't harden and he was unable to fly.

The second caterpillar started acting like he was going to build a cocoon, but he sadly didn't make it to that point.

While we didn't have the best of luck, I'm so glad we were able to do this.  Kieran absolutely loved watching the caterpillars and talking about their progress.  We had found a good book on them at the library, and we all learned a lot from reading it.  It also enhanced our appreciation as we watched the caterpillars.  I can't wait to try this again.

4 September 2012

The Journey

40 weeks.  It's a journey of constant changes as the baby and I both prepare for labour, birth, and bonding.  A friend recently wrote about how God designed us for this and He gives us the strength we need.  How true that is!

But something else struck me when I read that.  I came back to the number 40.  This is my third pregnancy, so I'm well aware of the 40 weeks of pregnancy (give or take some).  This time, though, it suddenly hit me that the number 40 isn't just some arbitrary number, spiritually speaking.  I look at the Bible, and I see that number 40 repeated over and over.  The 40 days of the flood, the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the 40 days of fasting and temptation in the desert.

Notice a similarity?  All of these are times of great trial, and a great spiritual and physical journey.  I imagine that in the midst of the 40, things were rough, full of difficulty and doubt.  That could easily describe pregnancy, too, with the accompanying morning sickness, round ligament pain, heartburn, kicks, etc.  I also imagine there were joys in there, too, as God provided and comforted in the midst of pain and doubt, just as there are many joys in the midst of the discomforts of pregnancy.

These journeys aren't for naught, though.  At the end of the flood, there is a promise; at the end of the 40 years in the wilderness, there is the Promised Land; at the end of the fasting and temptation there is the message of the New Covenant.  And at the end of the 40 weeks, there is also a promise: a child leaving the womb on his own journey earthside and the joy of motherhood.  It's a journey, both physical and spiritual, preparing us for the next journey.  Now that I see that number 40 differently, it amazes me even more how God designs us for this.  Here's hoping I remember this for the rest of my 40 weeks.  To the journey.

3 September 2012

Book Nook

Picture source
When browsing through the shelves at the library, I spied the book Froggy Plays in the Band by Jonathan London and decided to see how it looked.  After a quick perusal, I thought it looked fine and so I asked Charlotte for her opinion.  She was quite excited to get it, and so to the counter we went.  As is often the case when we visit the library, the kids enjoy reading the books immediately upon returning home, and this was no exception.  What we found was a very cute story of a ragtag band formed by Froggy and his friends, who are all determined to win the prize.  It's a little young for Kieran's interest, but perfect for Charlotte right now.  Better yet is that it meets my approval, since I'm quite particular about books.  I'd recommend picking it up if you have a chance.