Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eating our dragons

Lately the air has turned chill, and the last few days the wind has been blowing a bit wild.  There is a definite bite to it.

The cats picked up on the seasonal change immediately.  They've been running wildly through the garden and bushes, up and down the trees, and throughout the house in the middle of the night.  They've been climbing up the bookshelves, knocking things off, and chasing each other across our beds while we sleep.  When they woke me that first night, I wondered what had gotten into them.  But the next day it was obvious to everyone.

The wind has gotten inside them.

This same wind, the one that takes gentle cats and turns them into demons possessed, seems to have also gotten into my children.  Not one of them could sit still the last few days.  They were looking for reasons to argue with each other, with me, even with themselves.  I was bewildered by their change in behavior until I looked at the calendar and realized that it was the end of September already.

The wind, the sudden bite in the air, Michaelmas... it all adds up.

After much dragon-like ado this week, Friday we settled back down to our normal routines.  Then in the afternoon I told them a story, and we made dragon bread.  Everyone worked with such care and creativity on their breads, shaping their dragons just so.  I think these are the loveliest dragons yet-- so different from each other.

And that's how it should be.  We each have our own dragons, our own short-comings, our own temperaments.  And when they get the best of us, we have to slay them.  Only then can our true selves, our golden goodness shine through.

The first picture below shows all five dragons, while the second picture shows just the kids' dragons.  The last picture is after baking.

The main lesson work this week was perfect for Michaelmas.  I wish I could say I planned it that way, but it was all sheer coincidence.  Sunburst learned about the reformation and how Martin Luther stood up to the wicked pope Leo X.  Moonshine finished the tale of the Ramayana and Rama's fight against Ravana and his league of demon warriors-- very much like dragons themselves.  Kitty Bill's story was much more mild.  He heard the story of Mother Holle, a perfect example of two types of behavior.  I love that the second sister started out with good intentions-- I will work hard!  But even by the second day those intentions were overcome by her own laziness.  Who can't relate to that?!

Kitty Bill helped me make the golden rice, a regular tradition for Michaelmas-- rice cooked with turmeric. With Einstein's help in the kitchen, Moonshine treated us to a mesmerizing Indian-themed meal of Chana Masala and a variation of Korma that she called Hanuman's Delight.  One taste and we could all see that it was aptly named; it was so delicious!

Now that the weather has had a few days to work within our spirits, the cats seem to be quieting down.  I hope the children aren't too far behind.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Heirloom Strawberries

I just can't stop thinking about strawberries lately.  Maybe it has something to do with all the wooden ones we carved this spring, or maybe it's my desperate attempt to hang on to summer for just a little bit longer.

Whatever the case, I found myself knitting up some little lovely berries the other night.  Unlike the wooden ones, these ARE big enough to share with the littlest ones in our lives.  And I'm truly happy to be able to share this pattern with you.

Heirloom Strawberry

  • US #4 (3.5mm) DPNs
  • small amounts of worsted weight yarn in red and green
  • small amount worsted weight yarn in contrasting color for seeds (optional)
  • stuffing material


CO 9 stitches and divide evenly on 3 dpns.  Place marker and join to knit in the round.
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: *Kfb* repeat to end (18 sts)
Round 3: Knit
Round 4: *K3, kfb* repeat to end (24 sts)
Rounds 5 - 8: Knit
Round 9: *K4, k2tog* repeat to end (20 sts)
Round 10: Knit
Round 11: *K3, k2tog* repeat to end (16 sts)
Rounds 12 - 14: Knit
Round 15: *K2, k2tog* repeat to end (12 sts)
Round 16: Knit
Round 17: *K1, k2tog* repeat to end (8 sts)
Round 18: Knit
Round 19: *K2tog* repeat to end (4 sts)

Cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches to close.  Stuff strawberry body through the top and close hole.  Embroider seeds if desired, and weave in ends.

Leafy Top

With green yarn CO 6 stitches and join to knit in the round.
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: *Kfb* repeat to end (12 sts)
Round 3: Knit
Round 4: *Kfb* repeat to end (24 sts)
Round 5: Knit

The following round creates the leaf-tip shaping through decreasing and binding off certain stitches while leaving others live on the needles.

Round 6: BO the first stitch (k2, pass first stitch over), *k2tog, k1, BO 1 (pass the decreased stitch over)* repeat to one stitch from end of round, k1. (9 sts)

Cut your working yarn leaving a 12” tail. Keeping your live stitches on the dpns, place your top on the strawberry.

Using a yarn needle, sew into your last stitch and remove it from the dpn and secure it to the upper side of the strawberry.  Bring your needle up through the top of the strawberry to secure it, then bring your needle down into the side of the strawberry where you want your second stitch to attach.

Slip your needle into the next live stitch and attach it as you did the first live stitch.  Repeat until you have secured all live stitches to the strawberry.

Bring your needle up to the center of the strawberry top and use the remaining yarn to cinch together the first row from your CO edge to form the stem.  Weave in all ends.


If you prefer, this pattern is also available as a PDF download both HERE and on RavelryAs always, if you knit one of my patterns, I would love to see!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Updates and some knitting

We've been hiding from the rain and the chill the last few days, so I've actually gotten some work done this week.  It feels so good to get things accomplished!  We're preparing for a little journey in a couple of weeks, and my plate has been so full that things have been slopping off of it.  I'm ticking things off the list one by one.  It's all I can do.

I've been getting a bit of knitting done at night when it's just too cold to sit at the computer.  I wanted to share this particular piece with you because I had a bit of fun with the buttons.  This little sweater is going to a working mom who is so very dear to me.  She has no time for hand-washing knits, so no wooden buttons!  These are in fact hand-drawn onto shrinkles paper.  I found the very simple and wonderful tutorial at Scissors Paper Wok.

Here are the buttons before going into the oven.

And here they are afterwards.  So cute!

The sweater pattern is the 7-hour Toddler Girl's Sweater, and I love how it knitted up.  I hope the recipient loves it, too.

Now for the updates!

First up, I've finally managed to update my resource list for Grades 1-3.  Wow, what a lot of work that was!  But I hope it's much more helpful now.  You'll find a lot of new resources there-- books that have come out in the last few years that I absolutely love, as well as a few amazing websites I've had bookmarked.  I plan to update the lists for Grades 4-8 soon...

Second, I've mucked around with the sidebar a bit.  There is now a picture of me for those of you who have been wondering for ages how many heads, eyes, or antennae I have, now you will know.  I have resisted putting up a picture of myself for ages because I really dislike being photographed.  I tend to make really goofy faces no matter how hard I try to look normal.  And I've been told that my smile is so big it could swallow nations.  I'm not sure if that was intended as a compliment or not, but I can't argue with the truth.

Other things you'll see on the sidebar-- more labels!  I don't know why only a few labels were showing before, but now they are all visible, even some weird ones.  I've even gone back and added labels to almost my entire first year of posts... you know, the ones I wrote way back before labels existed.  Have I really been blogging for almost seven years?!  And because sometimes labels just don't cut it, I've added a search bar as well.

The last new sidebar addition is a list of our patterns and tutorials.  It's not a complete list, but it's a start.  The list includes patterns both shared on the blog and in other publications, including two lovely farm pieces that were featured in Living Crafts magazine a few years ago.  I have a new knitting pattern to share on the blog (tomorrow!), an upcoming woodworking tutorial, and another knitting pattern coming soon from Sunburst, so please watch this space.

Now if I could only figure out how to set up a virtual cafe in my sidebar, we could all sit and chat together in real time... ah, to dream!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The age of discovery

Sunburst and I have been enjoying reading about the age of discovery and the renaissance.  Normally this is a grade seven subject, but we're inevitably a bit behind schedule.  Six months to be exact.  With all the moves over the years, and the breadth and depth at which homeschooling allows us to study a subject, we will never truly be "on schedule" again.  And that's okay.  In fact, I prefer it this way rather than rushing ahead to the next thing.  It's one of the blessings of learning at home.

We are truly enamored with this new age of exploration, and Sunburst's abilities just keep expanding.  Every year I find myself amazed with her work, both as an artist and writer, and this year is no exception. She has really come into herself lately.  Her summaries and artwork are all done independently now, with only the smallest bit of advice from me from time to time.

Last spring I could see a glimpse of this coming, as I did very few drawings with her towards the end.  Now she feels completely confident to work alone.  It's a wondrous thing to watch.

For discovery, so far we have focused on Prince Henry the Navigator, Magellan, Columbus, and the conquistadors Pizarro, Almagro, and Cortez.  She has enjoyed writing about each and every one, and the illustrations in her main lesson book have been more map-centered.

Here's just a little taste of her work.  I love the caravels.

We've also been studying the renaissance painters, with an emphasis on Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michaelangelo.  Though it takes an inordinate amount of time, it's a wonderful opportunity to try to copy work from the master artists.  I let her sift through their images and pick the ones that spoke to her.  So far she has attempted artwork from both da Vinci and Raphael.  Michaelangelo and Giotto are still yet to come.

And then what?  I don't know!  Architectural changes... or whatever catches our fancy.  It's the age of exploration and inspiration, after all.

Here is a taste of her work from the master artists, Leonardo and Raphael.

Her portrait drawing leaves me breathless.  I remember when we first started homeschooling and it was all we could do to manage the block crayon drawing.  If you would have asked me then if Sunburst's drawing would ever reach this level of wonder and skill, I would have laughed.  I would have hoped, surely, but honestly?  I would have said only in my wildest dreams... and yet, here we are.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Flying machines

Kitty Bill (7) made this all by himself.  This is the kind of thing that happens when mom and dad aren't looking.

The propeller is a curved piece of wood that he planed before attaching it to some electronic bits.  Then he taped the whole shebang to his bicycle and added a kite for wings.  Pretty clever, don't you think?

Friday, September 21, 2012


It's official.  All of my children are into their second seven-year cycle.

Kitty Bill had a wonderful birthday filled with all of his favorite things, like pomp and circumstance and cake.

He had a few other things, too.  Vegetable stuffed crepes and tofu scramble for breakfast.  Phone calls and mail from the other side of the world.  And presents, of course.

He was delighted to see that the girls had made him things for the dollhouse.  Moonshine made him some bedding -- a pillow, woven blanket, and woven rug.  Sunburst made him a doll.

While Kitty Bill was thrilled with these gifts, what he wished for most of all for his birthday were two specific Kinderkram castle pieces.  That was all well and good when we lived in Switzerland and wooden toys seemed to drip from the trees, but now we're in England.  The natural toys that fall from the trees on the continent are then subjected to shipping fees, customs and taxes.  So by the end of it, the purchase price for a lovely piece of shaped wood could feed a family of five for two weeks.  At least.

So Einstein and I decided to do a bit of woodworking.  This was our go-to method in the states for everything from play stands to dollhouses.  And you know what?  It feels so satisfying to be making wooden toys again.

Plus, we still had money left over to buy candles for the cake. ;)

Here's the castle defense wall I built from pine using only hand tools.  I used a standard saw to cut the pieces to size then cut the crenellations with a coping saw.  I sanded, glued, and clamped it together.  Then I took some watercolor to it and finished it off with beeswax.

Einstein built a catapult.  Kitty Bill has been drooling over the Kinderkram catapult for years.  Einstein and I drew out some plans to make a similar one, complete with an attachment for horses.  It's made out of a small block of hardwood, twigs, and dowels.  Einstein used a standard saw to cut the wood to size and a coping saw to cut out the pieces.  He drilled the holes for the dowels, and then he carved out the "spoon" with a chisel.

I watercolored the dowels and pre-made wheels to match before adding a beeswax finish.  Though it doesn't look exactly like the one in the catalog, it turned out beautifully.  And it works... perhaps too well.

So far no one has lost an eye.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Shared on Creative Friday.

The tamest fox in the world

And then I was bitten by a fox.

You know how you plan out your week, and usually, it goes fairly well with only minor bumps along the way?  And sometimes you have other weeks where every effort at progress is thwarted and nothing goes according to plan?  By Wednesday it had been that kind of week.

Luckily, I have a sense of humor.

Monday and Tuesday were spent swimming upstream.  Figuratively, of course; it's far too cold for swimming just now.  Because we're juggling so many balls, both in homeschooling and as a family, I decided to put one of them down.  The pigeon.

In the midst of lining up a cat/rat sitter for an upcoming journey, we realized that the bird posed a bit of a problem.  Leaving the cats and the bird unsupervised in a room together for hours on end, even with metal bars between them, left us all feeling a bit uneasy.  So I made a few calls, and we decided to take our little pigeon to a wildlife rescue sanctuary.

In one sense, it feels awful to pawn the pigeon off on someone else, after all, it was my beast that attacked it.  I feel this overwhelming sense of responsibility.  On the other hand, I knew in my heart that it would have a better chance at a happy recovery surrounded by other wood pigeons instead of lurking cats.  So off we went.

The place was absolutely amazing, and the volunteer staff was fantastic.  I was happy to see that they had loads of pigeons.  They not only had pigeons, they were just short of a zoo.  They had so many different kinds of animals, it was astounding.  They had owls and parrots, ferrets and rabbits, snakes and lizards, ducks-- just wandering around.  There was even a tame doe walking about trying to set the reptiles free.  They even had foxes.  Tame foxes!

Or so I was told.

We love foxes.  We have some in our garden, and each time our motion lights click on at night we run to the back windows hoping for a glimpse of the foxes.  So you can imagine the excitement when we arrived at this place, and the man announces that we can pet a fox.  The tamest fox in the world.

The man went on to tell us how this fox was hand-raised by someone and subsequently dumped.  He took her in and loved her, and she has been just as sweet as can be, like a dog.  Apparently she's so tame that she has done loads of television and film work, so she's not only tame, she's a bit famous as well.

He brought her out and Einstein and the kids started to pet her.  I snapped a couple of pictures, and then reached my hand in to have a little pet.  And that's when she bit me.

Perhaps she thought I was paparazzi, and I should have asked her to sign a release form.

While a small pool of blood was welling up on my hand, the man continued to assure me that this particular fox was completely harmless.  Apparently she just plays a little rough, like the time she almost took off his nose.  It was a love nibble.  She rarely does that.

Which I suppose means that I'm one of the few... one of the painfully chosen ones.  What luck!

If you want to pretend you were there with me, this is what you saw:

And if you want to play a game of guess the owls, here they are:

Did you have a productive week?  Or did something unexpected happen?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What is it?

While he hasn't caught any more birds, there is an obvious downside to covering our cat in bells.  His hunting skills have been demoted to catching things that hardly move at all.

Today he sauntered in and dropped this strange thing at my feet.  I had never seen anything like it before.  Apparently, neither had he; the look on his face was priceless.

What is it mom?  Why does my tongue feel so funny?

After he dropped it, he shook his head from side to side and made the most awful faces I have ever seen a cat make.  If he could have spit, I'm sure he would have.  I didn't know whether he just got his mouth pricked by the hairs or if the thing had secreted poisonous juices, but I promptly examined his catch and set out to do a bit of sleuthing just in case.

It's a Sycamore moth caterpillar (Acronicta aceris).   Not poisonous.  But it sure is fun to look at.  The kids think so, too.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Sunday woodworking

This past spring we seemed to have gotten into a groove of doing woodworking on Sundays.  I don't know why-- well, actually, I do.  All bursts of inspiration seem to come on Sundays at our house.  And woodworking is one of those things, for me anyway, that requires every bit of gumption I've got.

I'm not actually very good with a knife.  I have this inborn fear that I'm going to chop my fingers off.  I don't know where this fear came from, but it's probably not unwarranted.  I'm a bit of a klutz when it comes to pocket knives.  If I don't cut myself using them, I cut myself cleaning them.

The kids are undaunted though.  Both Sunburst and Moonshine have been well-schooled in the use of knives, thanks to Einstein.  That doesn't mean they don't have accidents-- they do.  But while the girls have been happily whittling sticks for years, we haven't done a ton of actual woodworking projects with them.  You know what I mean, the kind where you start with a block of wood and have a clear goal in mind.  It's something I've been meaning to rectify this year.

The first thing we did a few months back was to make simple cardholders.

The kids each selected a good width branch from the woodpile in the garden, at least 1.5 inches in diameter.  They used a small plane to remove the bark; planing is such satisfying work, they could happily do it for hours.  Once they were happy with the planing job, they took a larger plane and made a flat surface on one side.

They used a miter box to saw the end off at a right angle.  We let them decide how long to make it, which for them was anywhere from 4-6 inches.  Then we clamped the wood down very carefully, and they sawed the slit through the top.  This required some checking with a card to make sure the cut was even.

Here's the slit sawing work in action.  As you can see, we have only the most advanced facilities and equipment for this kind of work.  All joking aside, if you're like us, you just jump in and try things out without getting bogged down by the details, like decent clamps and flat surfaces.  Here you can see that we've got it clamped onto a slate bench in our garden.  It worked!

After the sawing was complete, the kids sanded and oiled their holders.  Even Kitty Bill, age 6, was able to complete this task without too much assistance.  I think they turned out so lovely!  I just love to see the grain of the wood coming through.

Another project we tackled was wooden strawberries.  We used the brilliant tutorial from the fabulous Katie Startzman of Duo Fiberworks; I just adore her work.

Because we didn't have the suggested wood, we opted to use green wooden branches from the garden.  This was great fun for us girls!  It definitely required a lot more focus and skill than the cardholders.  Both Moonshine and I managed to cut ourselves, but we didn't give up easily.  In the end, we managed to make eight strawberries between us girls.  Then Einstein gave it a try and ended up making ten of them, in less than half the time it took us.  His cuts looked nicer, too --of course they did.

Nonetheless, the girls and I were pretty proud of ourselves.

We left them to dry and promptly forgot about them for over a month.  Thanks to Kitty Bill, we finally got half of them painted with watercolors.  We improvised some green felt tops, and rather than drilling, we used knotted yarn for the stems.

Because we used wood from the garden, ours turned out smaller than the ones in the tutorial.  Chokingly small, for anyone age 3 and under.  Realistically, they are the size of Swiss strawberries, which is a tad smaller than the standard US or British variety.  Nonetheless, they are incredibly cute.

The kids couldn't wait to add them to their play kitchen/store/cafe.  I love that all three children still adore this kind of imaginative play.  And to make your own toys from branches in the garden-- is there anything more magical than that?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The letter "P" and the number 15

Today's post is brought to you by the letter "P" and the number 15.

I didn't quite tell the entire story about our "first day of school" ceremony.  From my post the other day it sounded really magical and amazing, didn't it?  It was all that, I assure you, but real life is never all sweetness and rainbows.

The whole story is something quite different.  Somewhere between the sweetness and the rainbow we had a bit of chaos.  We went directly from singing to shrill screaming, crying, and panicked voices.  There was a rush of adrenaline, the scattering of children, and the sucking in of breath.

Sounds pretty curious, doesn't it?

It was all the cat's fault.  Remember how he was bringing frogs into the house?  This past weekend he figured out how to catch birds, and he went a bit crazy.  Three birds in two days.  On Sunday he brought a baby wood pigeon to the back door and left it in a pool of its own liquid.  Not nice.  Later that afternoon he snared a European robin.  We were not happy with him, but not surprised either when he darted through the middle of our rainbow ceremony with a juvenile wood pigeon in his clutches.

Darn cat.  Sunburst ran after him screaming at the top of her lungs and waving her arms wildly.  The other two children followed suit.  And somehow they managed to separate both bird and cat, and Sunburst hauled the cat off to lock him in the house.

The poor bird! The cat managed to rip out all of its tail feathers and a good portion of its flight feathers.  The good news is that it was alive and it could walk.  We watched it hobble off and hide under the evergreen, surely trying to recover from the shock of almost being eaten by a ferocious beast.  We gave it some space and returned to our ceremony, a rainbow after the storm.  When we were finished, the bird was gone.

We looked and looked, but couldn't find it.  We hoped it was safe-- what else could we do?  We went inside and carried on with our day, keeping both cats locked inside for good measure.  We looked again throughout the day, but since there was no sign of the pigeon, we attached several large Christmas bells to the cats' collars and let them back outside.

With giant bells, the cats are absolutely pathetic.  The entire neighborhood can hear them coming.  They can barely manage to catch bugs, let alone birds.  That is until yesterday, when our male cat finally found the one bird he could catch-- the one he already rendered flightless.  He darted by the kids with the same wood pigeon as before in his mouth.  This time we cornered the bird and caged it.   I read that it takes anywhere from three to six weeks to regrow tail feathers, maybe even longer.  If the bird lives that long, then hooray.  I'm skeptical, but I'm not sure if we have any other options.  At least it's eating.  For now.

So the letter P is for.... Pigeon.  Of course it is.  Oddly, the first two letters Kitty Bill drew this week were W and P.  Wood Pigeon?!  Talk about a weird coincidence.

The other strange coincidence is that Einstein and I are celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary this week.  Fifteen years!  And it all started with a pigeon-- more specifically, a rock pigeon.  We were sitting at an outdoor cafe, completely blind to each other's existence, when a friendly pigeon hopped up on Einstein's table and stole the straw from his iced coffee.  He sat there playing tug-o-war with this pigeon, and I found the entire thing hilarious.  He heard my laughter and turned, smiling at me, and we were instantly smitten.

We actually celebrate Pigeon Day every year, and it falls during our wedding anniversary week.  Only this year we have an actual pigeon.  It's a little worse for wear, but it's still a pigeon.  As you can see, we have no choice but to try to save it.

After fifteen years of marriage, Einstein and I look a little worse for wear, too.  No marriage is perfect, but most of the time it feels pretty close to that.  Like pigeons, who mate for life, we're in it for the long haul.  Until we're bald and flightless... and then some.

So the letter "P" and the number 15... and I suppose "W" deserves some credit, too.  Wedding anniversary.  Wacky week.  And when the post is delivered in the morning, I'm sure I'll have to answer the question, "Why on earth is there a pigeon in your foyer?"

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

First day back

Today was our first day back to lessons, and the shining faces of my children said it all.  They were so ecstatic to begin another learning adventure.

We started the day with a little ceremony outside in the sun.  I led the children into the back garden with a little follow-the-leader movement song.  It was mostly for Kitty Bill's benefit, but all of them were happy to participate and take up the wonder of the moment.

Tip-toe, tip, tip-toe
Tip-toe, tip, tip-toe
Gallop, gallop, gallop, tip-toe
Gallop, gallop, gallop, tip-toe
Hop, hop, hop, tip-toe,
Hop, hop, hop, tip-toe
Skip, skip, skip, tip-toe
Skip, skip, skip, tip-toe...

It's actually a long path to the back garden, but when we finally arrived I welcomed the children with a little song that I made up on the fly-- I can't always manage to plan these things ahead of time.  I welcomed Sunburst into Grade 8 by waving the rainbow over her head, tying a silk around her shoulders, hugging her tightly, and giving her a little something to keep in her pocket.

She helped me wave the rainbow so I could call Moonshine forward to run under the rainbow into her Grade 5 year.  She has been counting down the days until lessons started again, and she was absolutely beaming!  She also had a silk cape, a warm hug, and a little something put in her hand to wonder over.

Then it was Kitty Bill's turn.  He was so happy!  I sang him a little song about growing up and being ready for first grade (again, something I made up on the spot), and then welcomed him under the rainbow with a silk, an extra large hug, and a little something.

The idea for the little somethings  came to me late last night.  I had been racking my brain trying to come up with something special to commemorate this year-- a really special time with all three children engaged in formal learning together.  In my planning over the week I realized that each of them were facing a different adventure this year.  I decided to represent that in symbols.

I went outside and found a suitable branch in our wood pile, sawed off three rounds, and gave them a minimal sanding.  Then I sketched out the symbols and took a woodburner to them.  Kitty Bill received a heart; it's a perfect representation of Grade 1 qualities.  Moonshine received a leaf which represents the new beginning in Grade 5.  We'll dip our toes into the creation stories and myths of several ancient civilizations this year, and we'll learn about the growth of plants in botany.  Sunburst received a compass as we begin our voyage into the discovery of new lands and new ideas, battles and rebellions, but it's also so she doesn't lose her way into the teenage years.  I purposely left the directions off the compass so that she could find her own north, her own way.

She seemed to get it.

The special somethings were a big hit.  Throughout the day I spied each one of them taking up their wooden symbols and caressing them, studying them, even smelling them.  Sunburst and Moonshine are already planning to independently knit special bags to keep them in.

And all that worry about how I was going to adjust our rhythm to teach three children was for naught. Somehow I managed to present three main lessons today.  I led Kitty Bill into the opening of his wondrous alphabet story, walked Moonshine into the realm of the mysterious, sinking Atlantis, and dove headlong into sea voyages of discovery with Sunburst.  It was a day of stories, singing, forms, bean bags, counting, balancing games, clay modeling, knitting, German, and mathematics.

Around four o'clock, after completing two pages of review on geometry and ratios, Sunburst asked me, "Is that it?  I feel like we haven't done enough today."  Silly girl.  As Moonshine was busy modeling her idea of Atlantis in clay, even Kitty Bill asked for more work.  In the end, he agreed to take up his new block crayons and draw a picture of his entrance into first grade.

I remember when the girls first tried out drawing pictures with their block crayons.  I vividly recall teaching each one to gently shape the forms instead of drawing with lines.  Neither of them thought it was easy.  They both struggled with holding the blocks in just the right way.  Sunburst used too much force; Moonshine didn't use enough.  Drawing with these crayons really is an art lesson in and of itself.

Since I wasn't having Kitty Bill draw in a lesson book, it didn't occur to me to guide him.  I wasn't even watching.  I didn't model anything for him to replicate.  I just said, "Why don't you draw something from today with the rainbow," and this is what he came up with.

The girls saw it first, and they were amazed.  How did he know to do it without lines?  How did he know to shape it?  How did he know to make the cape behind?  How did he get everything so perfect?

He shrugged his shoulders and told them that he had been watching them draw for a long time now.  As if it were that easy.

Each of them shared their hopes and dreams with me for learning and growing this year, and when I kissed each one of them goodnight, they all remarked at how excited they were for tomorrow.  It can't come soon enough.

I have a feeling this is going to be a really great year.
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