Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What happened to the green burlap? (mini gift sacks)

That October rummage sale turned out to be one of the most useful we went to all fall.

The yarn mostly went into potholders; the blue fabric became a cover for my baking binder; the red candles went into our Advent wreath; we used the glass candle jar during the holiday season; Mr. Fixit has been reading How the Irish Saved Civilization. And then there was "one unopened package of "decorator burlap" in an interesting avocado-greenish colour (I'd guess it's been around for awhile)."

I cut the large sheet of burlap into twelve rectangles, and sewed each one up the side and across the bottom to make a small "potato sack."  (I zigzagged across the tops first so they wouldn't fray too much.)  Really easy--I mean, potato sacks aren't supposed to be perfect or fancy anyway.
After lessons were done one day, the Squirrelings and I had been playing around a bit with fusible webbing (Therm O Web HeatnBond Lite Iron-On Adhesive, if you need to know) and brown paper bags.  I made my own "iron on patches" by ironing webbing onto a piece of fabric, tracing small cookie cutter shapes onto the paper backing, and cutting them apart.  Instant iron-on appliques. 
I had the sacks.  I had the patches.  Moment of serendipity.
What went in the bags?  Sandwich bags of hot chocolate mix and crunchy salad toppers. And one of Peppered Pecans for a hot-tongued relative. A couple of them went to friends as small gifts, tied up with ribbon and candy canes. I tied the rest with brown yarn that had jingle bells and name tags strung on first; they were place markers/table gifts for Christmas dinner.
Not bad for a what's-in-your-hand.

This post is linked from Works-for-me-Wednesday: 2010 Reflections.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Use-what-you-have doll wardrobe (or, Crystal's Christmas Surprise)

What did Crayons and Crystal get for Christmas?

Actually these clothes aren't just for Crystal; she has to share them with her "sister" Crissy, who's about the same height but slimmer.  A few of them will fit one doll better than the other.

Crystal in the nightclothes we made her last year

Crissy in a dress "upcycled" from a wine bag

Where did the fabrics come from?
Last year we bought a "grab bag" of co-ordinating red and blue fabrics at the mill-end store, for about $7.  Crayons used some of it to sew a pencil case, but the rest of it was still uncut.  We also had a nice thick red scrap of material from a church sale (perfect for a bathrobe), a piece of print material from a long-ago rummage sale (I had always thought it would make a pretty doll dress), and a burgundy t-shirt (one with a lot of stretch) that we found at the thrift shop just before Christmas.  Total costs for a doll quilt and pillows, tote bag, and several items of clothing?  Counting a spool of red thread and the stuff we had on hand like elastic and Velcro, I'd say it was under fifteen dollars.
Oh, and the batting for the quilt and the tote bag was a dollar-store "snow blanket."  It was thinner than regular quilt batting, just right for doll things.

Where did the patterns come from?

Several of the things were made from patterns in Sew the Essential Wardrobe for 18-inch Dolls, by Joan Hinds and Jean Becker, found on the discard shelf at the library. (The print dress, the blue print blouse, the red bathrobe, the pale blue nightie, the burgundy turtleneck, the checked pants.) There are full-size double-sided patterns folded into the back of the book; I traced them onto tracing paper although they could be photocopied instead.  This book leaves out facings, giving all the blouses and dresses a full bodice lining instead.  In other words, you make four fronts and two backs, or four backs and two fronts.  It takes a bit more fabric, but does a neater job, and once you've made one piece like that, you understand how it works for the others.
Others came from Bunkhouse Books' Stitches&Pins doll clothes patterns that we bought for Crayons last year. Very easy to use, and some (like the skirt) don't even require paper patterns, just fabric cut to a certain size. From that package I made the reversible vest and an elastic-waist skirt.
The sweater pattern was found online.   (Not in the photo:  ice skates and mittens on a string.)
The tote bag came from Kids Can Press Quilting, by Biz Storms. Putting that together gave me the idea to use the last bits and pieces to make a patchwork quilt. I didn't have a pattern--just used some ideas I had seen in patterns for other doll quilts.
The hairband, small burgundy purse, burgundy shawl to go with the dress, burgundy miniskirt, crocheted scarf, and the mini version of the tote bag, I made up as I went along. The hairband was made from some of the binding on the t-shirt, with a fabric star fused on.

How did it all work out?

Mama Squirrel started with the bathrobe on a November afternoon when Crayons was out. If that hadn't worked out so well, she probably would have stopped there. But a bathrobe needs a nightie, and over the next while she worked on one.  That pattern did create some struggles...but she finally got everything gathered and the white yoke sewed on perfectly...and inside out. Not wanting to go back to the stitch ripper for the umpth time, she compromised and sewed ribbon around the raw edge. And that still could have been the end...except that, even with the nightie fight, she was having fun sewing. And Crystal did need some new clothes.  And we did have that bag of red and blue print fabric pieces.

So we set things up in a bit of an assembly line.  Since there was a limited amount of fabric to work with, Mama Squirrel traced out some of the pattern pieces she thought she'd use, and pinned and cut them all at once, trying to match the largest pieces of fabric to the clothes requiring the most material.  Then it was just a matter of finding time and privacy to sew them, bit by bit.  Most of that happened in the last week of school (when the Squirrelings had a light workload and extra free time) and the week of holidays before Christmas (when it was quite acceptable for Mama Squirrel to say "OUT, I'm working on something.")

What kind of fastenings are on the clothes?

Mama Squirrel is not much into hardware.  The blouse, dress and nightie have Velcro closings.  The sweater has a button.  The shawl has a snap.  Everything else is pull-on.

We thought the pants and turtleneck outfit would be groovy enough for Crissy.
On Christmas Eve before bed, Crayons unwrapped the nightwear and the quilt and pillows.  The pillows are made from scraps of the t-shirt, with gingerbread shapes fused on for decoration.  The quilt top was made from rectangles and squares pieced together in strips, then placed on a square of snow-blanket for batting, and a piece of blue brushed fabric (long-ago remnant) cut 2 inches larger all the way around.  The backing was folded over twice towards the front of the quilt, and then top-stitched to hold the whole thing together.  It would have been fun to "tie" the quilt, but it didn't seem necessary.

On Christmas morning, Crayons unwrapped the large tote bag which was holding the rest of the clothes.  It was made from one of the few pieces of grab-bag fabric which had a print too large for dolls, and there was another large dark red piece left for lining.  Because we were so close to the end of the fabric, the tote bag has one red handle and one handle made of two kinds of blue fabric.  But Crayons says she doesn't mind.

Clothing photographs:  The Apprentice

Monday, December 27, 2010

Crystal wanted skates (crochet pattern)

Crystal, if you don't know, is Crayons' 18-inch doll.

And Crystal thought it would be nice if she got some skates for Christmas.

Yes, you can buy doll ice skates, but they're a bit pricey. Mama Squirrel saw this crocheted skate pattern on Cobbler's Cabin, and figured they would work. She didn't get them done for Christmas, but the Boxing Day lull gave her enough time to whip them together, and luckily we happened to have two two-inch paper clips (big ones) for the blades.

If you're trying these, I would warn you to count very carefully and use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of rounds--otherwise your shape will get way off. (Ask me how I know?) The groups of three single crochet in a row are meant to go right on the long sides of the oval sole; the two sc in one stitch are the "corners" of the oval. If you find yourself making the three sc at the short end or somewhere else, you'd better start again. Also, there are a couple of places where I took an extra slip stitch just to tighten up and end things off nicely--not in the pattern, but it doesn't hurt.

And a word of encouragement: once you've finished the first skate, the second one goes much faster.

P.S. Crystal got some other things for Christmas, too; we will put up some photos later on.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Gift from the Un-Lonely Squirrel

Once, there was a fairy named Mama Squirrel. She lived in a treehouse with her loving husband and 3 beautiful squirrels girls. One day she said, "My, my, I had better get started on some Christmas presents!" So, Mama Squirrel took her magic fairy wand (errrrrrr, I mean crochet hook) and waved it about...
She crocheted...
...and crocheted!
Now, Mama Squirrel kept crocheting until she had...
8 hot pads and one wash cloth:
One even had a special button on it!
5 tree ornaments/decorations:
One small mat:
A doily: 
4 bells: 
3 scarves: 
A panda for one lucky little one:
Two pairs of mittens:
And two afghans (two friends tried one out) :o) : 
And Mama Squirrel, her husband, and 3 lovely daughters lived happily ever after!
~The End~
Merry Christmas!

Mama Squirrel's Technical Notes and Sources
Panda: pattern by Lori-Jean Karluk, published in Crochet Patterns by Herrschners, July/August 1991. Yarn: leftover black and white worsted.
Mittens: Adapted from this Canadian Living pattern. Patons yarn bought on sale at the mill-ends store.
Scarves: all the same pattern, just made up as I went along. The multi-coloured scarf is made all from one ball of thrifted yarn.
Hotpads and potholders: all adapted from this pattern on Bizzy Crochet and from a variation in the comments posted about the same pattern; all made from rummage-saled and thrifted yarn. This is truly a beginner-friendly pattern--no rounds to join or rows to turn.  And you can make them any size you want.
White mat: adapted from "Hanukkah Doily" by Agnes Russell, in Crochet World December 2007.
Red, white and blue afghan: adapted from "Berries and Evergreens Afghan" by Katherine Eng, in Crochet World December 2005. The designer used shades of rose, claret and greens for a holiday-toned afghan; I wanted to use up several weights and shades of thrifted red yarn (I bought a whole bagful of mixed reds), plus work in some chunky-weight red, white and denim-blue yarn I had bought a long time ago. It was fun to make because you work from the center stripe out in both directions, as if the pattern were reflected in a mirror. My afghan is a bit smaller than the original, but I had to stop when the yarn ran out.
Red, white and green throw: adapted from a basic mile-a-minute afghan pattern.  One package of unidentified-label yarn from the mill-ends store.
Thread tree trims: "Seven Wonders Tree Trims" by Marcia Pope, in Crochet World December 2005. You can tell these (and the other thread things) aren't really done--I still have to stiffen them, fix the loose ends and so on.
Bells: "Crochet Bells" by Maggie Weldon, in Country Crafts Winter 1996.

The Homeschoolers' Christmas

I wrote this quite a few years ago for our local homeschool group's newsletter; later it appeared in an American group's newsletter.  But I guess I can still post it here, right?  (No particular offense is intended to Saxon Math--you try finding a rhyme for...okay, just read it.)

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the nation
the holiday spirit was in full operation
The stockings were loaded, the presents were wrapped
And while moms checked  their emails and tired dads napped
Their angelic offspring made straight for the tree
And checked out the presents as quiet as could be.

They were hoping for skateboards and monster truck sets
Barbie cars, Barbie clothes, Barbie beds, Barbie pets
For video games that were violent and weird
And lots more to be sent from the man with the beard.

But in the last house at the top of the hill
A family of homeschoolers sat wondering still.
Said dear little Anna with a face full of woe,
“I wrote Santa a letter, so you’d think he would know
That I’m asking for CDs that make lots of noise
Like Hannah Montana and the Backstreet Boys.”
“It’s no use,” said Thomas.  “You know for a fact
We’ll get songs that will help us to add and subtract.”
“Don’t you remember” said big sister Kate
“The year we got Daily Grams books one to eight?”
“It’s not fair” said her brother, “I want Play Station Kombat,
But I’ll probably end up with a book about wombats.”

“Well, this year” said Anna, “let’s sit up and wait,
And when Santa Claus comes, we can all set him straight.”
So into the night they sat munching a snack
With the hope that St. Nick would show up with his pack.

But at the North Pole things were somewhat amiss
Santa’s computer had scrambled his list
As he packed up his laptop and toys for his travels
He wasn’t quite sure if the mess was unraveled
But he dropped all the toys with a loud “ho ho hoing”
Down the chimneys where they seemed they ought to be going.

At ten minutes past twelve (by their plastic teaching clock)
The homeschooled kids were aroused with a shock
And what should their wondering eyes soon be facing
But a sackful of presents marked “Ashley and Jason.”
There were DVD movies and belly button jeans
Purple haired trolls and a dance moves machine
A Queasy Bake Oven, two robots that fight
A Whatserface doll...and not one book in sight.

Their eyes how they twinkled!  With laughter so hearty
They tore open the goodies and started to party.
But Mamma in her jammies came in and said “No! 
There’s been a mistake!  All this junk has to go!”
She called up St. Nick who was flying overhead
And asked him to bring the right presents instead
He promised he’d track down the gifts for her tots
And get rid of the trolls and the fighting robots.

And not far away, spending Christmas vacation
With the sackful of toys were Ashley and Jason
At first they were puzzled and pouted a bit
And Jason said “what’s a gemology kit?”
He checked out the books and a model heart
And some software about  Impressionist Art
Then Ashley sat down with a book about flowers
And they sat there like that for about three hours.

Till Santa popped in and explained his mistake
And said he’d get back the Queasybake
And the Hannah CD and the movies to play
But Jason and Ashley said, “No way!
The stuff is ours, it’s staying here
And could you please bring us more like that next year?”

So Santa was in a bit of a stew
He had to decide what the dickens to do
He called on his cell to the house of homeschooling
Where there was a great deal of laughing and fooling
Their mom said, “All right, you can keep the stuff
But no more next year, enough is enough!
I’ve learned something too, I promise not to fax in
A Christmas order for anything by Saxon.”

So Santa went home with his empty sleigh
And worked on his laptop the rest of the day
He made some notes for next year’s ride.
“More gifts that get the kids outside.
And for the mother of Ashley and Jason,
A complete set of Charlotte Mason.”
He took off his glasses, he’d done his best,
And then lay down for a well-deserved rest.
But I heard him exclaim as he pulled the bed curtain
"Merry Christmas to all, and homeschoolers for certain."

Monday, December 20, 2010

What's Mama Squirrel up to?

I can't say too much here. But it involves less crocheting and more time with the Evil Sewing Machine. Here's a hint.
Here's another one.

Actually I love my sewing machine. I do. It just has a tendency to run out of bobbin thread at the wrong time, or (much worse) to refuse to play nice with the bobbin thread at all. Throw in Mama Squirrel's general ineptitude with machines, tendency to sew things on upside down, and frequent inability to get the thread through the needle, and all I can say is that I'm glad there's a Mr. Fixit around. And that I have two stitch rippers handy.

But over the last few years the machine has started to learn Who's Boss, and it now obeys me almost as well as it does Ponytails.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's on the Treehouse kitchen counter?

Already gone:

Malted Milk Buttons
Chocolate-Chocolate Shortbread
One batch of chocolate chip cookies made by Ponytails
One batch of brownies made by the Apprentice (for her Kinesiology class--don't ask)

Already made:

Quick Fruit and Nut Fudge
No-Bake Apricot Nuggets
Pumpkin Loaf
Orange-Coconut Granola

Still to come:

Double Ginger Drop Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Crescents
Banana Muffins
and anything else we think of.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Roman Roots: So Far So Good (review)

Our Roman Roots: A Catholic Student's Guide to Latin Grammar and Western Civilization, by James R. Leek, Ed.D. Review at

This is not a state-of-the-art Latin program, especially in its 1997 coilbound edition with cassette. It will not give you the ability to translate Virgil or to read the Vulgate Bible. But if you're looking for something more than just a prefixes/suffixes curriculum for students from grades 4 to 8, but aren't sure where to start, you might want to consider this book.

We are only up to lesson 5 of 15, which is just about where we should be in the one-year course; so I can only base our review on the first third of the book. But so far, I'm pleased.

Ease of use?--very, very easy, except that you or your students will have to set up separate notebooks with tabs before beginning the course. Occasionally I photocopy one of the pages for the Squirrelings to use instead of copying everything out, for instance if there is a multiple-choice written activity.

It's set up in 15 5-day lessons; unless you have only older students, I wouldn't think you'd want to take the whole thing in 15 weeks. You can either teach a whole lesson every other week and then use the next week for review; teach a lesson over two weeks; or mix things up as we have done (we started off slow but have done two full lessons in the past three weeks, leaving French aside until January). The books are set up with one activity after another, so it's easy to just pencil a mark or leave a Post-It note at the last activity you completed, and go on from there.

The fifth day of each lesson is a one-page quiz; sometimes these are quite tricky and they bring in concepts from previous lessons, so I would recommend a bit of extra review before doing them. We have done things like make Concentration cards with vocabulary words and Roman numerals.

Recommended age? I wouldn't consider it with children below about grade 4, at least as far as the grammar goes; they need to be able, almost right away, to grasp the concept of the genitive or possessive case, and that's not the easiest thing to explain. An example of that is "agnus Dei" (lamb of God), where the "of" is understood by the ending on "Dei." Also, many of the daily "Word Power" quotes that are to be copied into the notebooks require a fair amount of maturity to grasp, such as "Silent leges enim inter arma" (Laws are silent in war). Ponytails (grade 8) can complete some of the written activities faster than Crayons (grade 4) can, and I expect she will find some of the more advanced grammar easier; but Crayons has been doing just as well as Ponytails on the quizzes and the oral activities.

Most enjoyable activities: The Squirrelings, having some Catholic family history, like being able to astound everyone by saying grace in Latin. The songs (like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star) are fun; we have added in two Christmas carols this month that are featured in later lessons. Ponytails has found a couple of opportunities lately to tell people "Errare humanum est"; and Crayons picked out the word "donum" in a Latin song heard at a school concert last night. (You-tube video, not from that concert though.) They also like acting out the imperative forms of verbs (commands) as given on the tape: the voice commands them to Sta! (Stand up!) Sede! (Sit down!) Verte! (Turn around!) and so on.

Most enjoyable aspects for me, after trying out two other Latin programs previously with The Apprentice: no long lists of vocabulary to learn, at least not so far anyway. No chants, at least not so far, unless you count chanting the numbers 1 to 10. The program is not too difficult for me to teach with my one year of high school Latin and that bit of previous experience. I enjoy seeing the Squirrelings make some of their own connections with the vocabulary rather than having to have me point everything out. When the tape commanded them to "Audi!" and "Vide!", Ponytails was quick to point out the connection with "audio" and "video."

I also like the fact that this is not a colouring-page, word-search kind of curriculum. Although it's simple and enjoyable, it avoids busywork.

Downsides? 1. Occasionally--very occasionally--a word or concept will come up that isn't explained right away; one example is that the words "est" and "sunt" (forms of "To be") suddenly pop into use without definition. If you don't have any Latin knowledge at all, you might want to have a friend around to call on occasionally, or at least look things up sometimes online if you get stuck.*** 2. If you don't want any Catholic material at all, you would not like this course. Protestants can use it although there are a few things you might want to omit. 3. Pronunciation is Ecclesiastical, not Classical (Ecclesiastical is pronounced more like Italian); this is fun for singing, but might cause a bit of confusion if you move on later to materials from other publishers. 4. We skip a lot of the "extension activities" (short essay or research topics) unless it seems it would be particularly meaningful to do them.

I think this course could be alternatively titled "Wow! You can speak Latin!" Latin isn't always fun; but this book keeps it from being a chore.

***UPDATE as of Lesson 6:  Starting in again after the Christmas break, I noticed that Lessons 6 and 7 introduce the Ablative and Accusative cases, although you don't really do much with them.  We took one extra session to sort through the idea of conjugations, declensions and cases, comparing what we know of English and French grammar with Latin, and I gave the girls a photocopied chart showing noun endings.  This was one place where I think the program could have used a bit more explanation, although, as I said, all you're actually doing with the Ablative at this point is just saying that someone is "In such-and-such-a-country," and changing the ending for the names of some countries.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent III: Of snowglobes and snowstorms

Sorry I could not get this posted yesterday--computer time was short and I have been a little under the weather, in the other sense. This is for those who feel they're being shaken in a snowglobe lately. As the DHM noticed--the figures inside the globe stay put, even through the stormy blast.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

--Isaac Watts

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday Readings for Advent II: Silver and gold

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.  (1 John 2:7-8 NIV)

On the radio yesterday we heard a commercial giving holiday decorating advice.
"Gold and silver this year--lots of gold and silver.  For me, the holidays are all about richness and luxury."
Does that make you want to laugh?  Or maybe cry?
We decided to laugh.  We could afford to.  We were sitting in Country Style, warming up after a cold few minutes of stuffing groceries, including a small turkey, into the trunk of the Civic.  We had also been to the thrift shop, where Mama Squirrel had picked out a couple of bags' worth of "gold and silver."  Actually, we felt pretty blessed, and not at all in need of rushing out to the Home Place to stock up on Holiday Bling.

Richness and luxury.  Silver and gold, as Yukon Cornelius said.  And what will next year's hot colours be?

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[ is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NIV)

I'm thinking of the DHM's daughter, who hasn't left the hospital since her baby was born, two days before American Thanksgiving.  I'm thinking that silver, gold, orange or puce, the colour of the decorations is pretty low priority for her this year.

I'm thinking of another family, waiting to hear the final decision on a foster grandchild's permanent placement, and waiting to bring their own adopted child home.

Of someone at our church who just lost a parent.  Another family whose income has dried up. And of other friends who are facing illness with courage, changes with faith.

In the face of all this, how dare we trivialize "what it's all about?"  The "true light shining" is more beautiful than any bowlful of gold balls or any silver tree that we could put up.

As someone said in the comments to last week's Advent post, Advent is not a countdown; it's a preparation.  When you prepare to get married, you expect it to last at least longer than the wedding day (and I do not mean to be flippant about that--I know that lasting marriages do not always happen) . When we prepare our hearts to receive the gift of God's Son, we look forward to something that will last forever.

 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life. (1 John 2:24-25 NIV)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Christmas cookies, not for Ralphie

In the movie A Christmas Story, Ralphie is disappointed when his secret message turns out to be "Drink your Ovaltine."

Last year when I was experimenting with this master dough (also mentioned here), I wanted to try the Malted Milk Buttons variation, but couldn't find any Ovaltine at our supermarket. So I put that idea aside; but when I saw jars of Ovaltine weeks later, I picked one up. It turns out that nobody here likes to drink it much, so we had more than the required two cups' worth left to make the Buttons this year. And they are very good.

As with the "Chocolate Shortbread" we invented last year, giving you the actual recipe is a little tricky, because you need exactly half of a Master Dough recipe which contains three egg yolks and so on. But I'll give you the idea and you can work it out from there...or you can buy Leslie Glover Pendleton's book...or you can find a copy of the December 15, 1998 Woman's Day Magazine.

Make a shortbread-type dough containing about 2 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup white sugar, a cup of butter, 1 or 2 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix in, probably with your hands, 2 cups Ovaltine-type powder and another 1/2 tsp. salt. You will also need at least 6 oz. of milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate--chips or squares, doesn't matter--for melting and dipping. We ended up using the whole 8-oz. box of semisweet chocolate, and had a few left over that did not get dipped. Squish all the Ovaltine powder (and the extra salt--not sure why that's needed, but I did put it in) into the mixed dough, and roll it into approximately 140 teaspoon-sized balls--no joke, these are quite small like Pfeffernusse. Bake on ungreased sheets for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees, but watch them--you do not want the bottoms to burn. When they've cooled enough to handle, melt the chocolate and dip the tops of the cookies into it, forming a sort of kiss-type swirl if you're skillful enough, or just getting them chocolatey if you're not. Let them set--they probably won't get firm enough unless you put them in the fridge.

As I said, we're not Ovaltine drinkers--but the cookies seem to be addictive.

This post is linked from Four Moms Cookie Exchange at The Common Room.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wednesday already? This and that, and dialing for dinner (not pizza)

The week has been busy...everybody's been making things, and Ponytails the Photographer is going to post some photos soon.

The crazy radio stations that play Christmas music too early (and the same songs over and over) are still good for something. Yesterday afternoon Mama Squirrel happened to turn THAT station on, and the nice announcer invited her to phone in and be caller number three...and tell him what comes after "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire." So Mama Squirrel obediently dialed the phone, said "Jack Frost nipping at your nose," and won dinner for two. How about that?

Mama Squirrel and Crayons are one chapter away from finishing Kidnapped. Crayons was not pleased to leave Alan knocking at David's uncle's door at the end of yesterday's reading, but that's what suspense is for. We are also almost finished the biography of Stevenson, and one unit from the end of Grade 3 Light Blue Math Mammoth. Mr. Fixit has ordered the download of Grade 4 so we should be ready to go with that soon.

And we are all putting in extra time on Latin. This is part of this week's lesson:

"Benedic, Domine, nos et haec tua dona, quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen."

Virtual saccharum if you know what that means.