Thursday, November 21, 2013

Moving Right Along...

 I've mentioned before that Gunnar is "off-cycle" with his math.
(Maybe he's on track for the Australian school year?)

Here's what he thinks about that.

At any rate, he just finished this year's math and is moving on to pre-algebra,
and his last go-round with Saxon math.

Hurray for the flexibility of homeschooling :D

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Genius, I am not.  Nor am I very coherent in the middle of the night.  I wasn't sleeping well, yet not until about 3:30 did I get up and put another layer on the bed.  (Sleeping all curled up in a tight-and-shivering ball doesn't work well for me.)  Apparently my quilt - which I love - is not quite as warm as the down comforter I removed.  Maybe I need both.  But then, it all made sense when I noticed the thermometer right next to the house reading below 20F.  That's twelve degrees below freezing for you metric folks.  No wonder I was cold!

Around here our coldest weather is usually clear.  Bad news for kids who are hoping for snow - usually when clouds roll in it "warms" up.  "Warm" being a relative term, y'know.

But, nonetheless, Gunnar and I bundled up and headed out for our morning walk.  He's no dummy - he's got a long-sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, and a hoody.  Personally, I love the hat/hood combo.  ;D

And you know what he's standing on?  Ice, ice, baby.

We still found a few trees hanging onto some fall color, but none of them were native trees - all landscaping.  We'll take beauty wherever we find it :D  Native trees know their business and have mostly dropped their leaves.

Soak it up now... right?

We walked by the little sheep farm.  With all the rain we've had earlier in the week, their coats must weigh a ton.  I mean, how could they ever dry out?  They must be like sodden old socks for weeks on end.  Ugh.

This old dead snag is getting a lot of visitors.  We saw lots of fungal growth.  It must be full of insects, judging by how the woodpeckers have been at it.  We didn't see any today, but we've watched downy woodpecekers and pileated woodpeckers in these woods.

And here's something interesting for those of you who care.  Remember "my" duck pond?

Look at the difference today, after a week of rain.  The trees are nearly bare and the water level has risen significantly, covering much of the growth in the earlier picture.  The pond used to be much clearer when I was young - I can remember skating on it.  Too much weed and muck now, even if it did get cold enough.  You can see a little patch of ice on the left.  (Gunnar is very hopeful.)

Meanwhile, we were intrigued by the sparkly frost on everything - including the roof of this little red car.

When the leaves come off the trees, it reveals all kinds of things - usually birds' nests, but we've seen a couple of these.  *shivers*  I might be just slightly phobic about bees (hornets, wasps, etc.)

I'm not sure what made the neighbors think this was a good idea...

I think the "eagle" was a piece of driftwood.  It used to be painted as a seagull, but someone upgraded it to a bald eagle... with a giant nest... on the ground.  Yah.  Maybe they're hoping it will keep (what?) out of their yard???

I love these snowberries.

Gunnar could hardly wait to break the ice on this puddle.. picture first!

And I don't actually know what these are.  Some kind of ornamental tree in my neighbor's yard.  Festive, yah?

Meanwhile, back at home, Tate was doing his schoolwork.  He rarely answers questions "straight", especially when he's bored.  Asked, "What are necessities of life?" he wrote,

Water, air, pizza, and bouncy houses.

Close enough, Tate, close enough.

Meanwhile Grandma Grasshopper has been devoting herself to the deeper mysteries of life, such as the burn time of tea-light candles.

This has been a major (major? did I say major? first world problems, anyone?) source of aggravation to certain of us, as we've noticed a decline in their longevity over the last couple of years.  Lo and behold, the manufacturers are cheating us by making them smaller.  And lighter.  I think the wax is whipped (ie full of air) so the candles don't burn as long.  Seems like in the Old Days, a tealight would burn all evening, but now?  Not so much.

Aunty Tami has apparently discovered a source for better tealights, and gave some to Grandma Grasshopper for her birthday.  You'll be happy to know, Grandma Grasshopper reports that in a side-by-side test,  the cheap tealights only burned for three hours, but the better ones burned for six and a half.  Which is kind of a toss-up, since they cost twice as much, but not having to replace them in the middle of a party (or a quiet evening at home) is probably worth it ;D

I know, I know, this is the hard-hitting news you've come to expect of us.  

And with that I'm off to think about dinner.  Stay warm, my friends :D

Monday, November 18, 2013

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, Monday, November 18, 2013

Outside my window...  still dark, wet, and cold.  We can see snow up in the hills above us.  Brrr!

Hearing...  the dryer tumbling, Tate finishing in the shower, and Wyatt heading out the door to catch the bus.

Pondering...  how we all second-guess ourselves as homeschoolers.  Our neighbors were over yesterday and the mom and I were talking about how we each homeschool.  She has a much more rigorous curriculum, but they're basically schooling from breakfast to dinner, five days a week.  So glad we have the freedom to do things as we think best for our own families :D

Praying...  for wisdom in making decisions.  Work for Kerry.

Thankful...  for the way Gunnar chatters all the way through our morning walk :D

Wearing...  Ugh.  About to get out of my damp (it's raining) walking clothes (ie old stuff) and jump in the shower.

Creating...  Hmmm.  Looking for inspiration to do Christmas on a low no budget.

Going...  to make a plan to eat up what's in the fridge - need to make room for Thanksgiving!  We're hosting this year and there's a lot I like to make ahead.

Reading...  Beyond the Desert Gate, and about to start Flame Over Tara and The Bronze Bow.  We're studying ancient Rome, so not sure how Flame Over Tara fits in, but whatever - we like to read!

Learning... that Monday is a BUSY DAY.  Good grief.  I started this in the dark (morning) and I'm going to finish in the dark of evening.  Where did it go???

Looking forward to...  ???  A day without stress???

In the kitchen...  made a big lunch of clean-out-the-fridge soup.  Okay, it's not cleaned out, but we're on our way (and everyone liked the soup ;D )

In the learning rooms...  the usual hubbub.  Tate finishes by lunch time.  Gunnar and I were reading all afternoon (couldn't put down Beyond the Desert Gate!), and Wyatt has had to defer a bit of today's work until tomorrow (grrr).

Around the house...  pumpkin spice candles making the house smell cozy, my new fall pillows, and blankets for snuggling.  (Have I mentioned that it's cold?  And wet?)

The Mother Load...  is all about getting ready for the holidays.  Tate and Gunnar have no schoolwork scheduled for next week, so they're my Thanksgiving minions.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaaa.

Noticing that...  ack!  about fifteen minutes until we need to leave for rehearsal!

Something to remember for later...  I-love-Tate-I-love-Tate-I-love-Tate-even-when-he-is-driving-me-out-of-my-ever-lovin'-mind...

Yes, I will remind myself of his good qualities, like his wacky sense of humor.

Remember this snow man?

Do you know who it is?

Yes, it's Winston Churchill.
The cigar is a nice touch, but the eyebrows are awesome.

Moving on...

One of my favorite things...  having my newly-finished quilt on the bed :D

A Bible verse...  Isaiah 33:6
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

Not really feeling it, right now, but trying to believe it.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  schoolwork, rehearsal, CAP, hunting "late season", possible O-flights, build ark...  just kidding about the ark.  But have I mentioned that it's raining?  And cold?  Maybe once or a hundred times?

A peek into my world...
My day has been this dark, but with all rain instead of snow.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Morning... Mini-Reveal

Okay, this...

... is upside down.

Gunnar and I walk by this pond on nearly all of our walks.

I captured the reflection of the trees on a perfectly still fall day,
at Gunnar's request.  (Clever boy ;D )

Here's the original, with lots of swamp weed stalks sticking up through the water.

The funny thing (at least to me) is that the original photo looks so still - so tranquil and serene.
Yet the flipped photo (on top) appears full of motion and energy!
It looks like all those black things are flying through the air.

Anyway, that's my fun for the day ;D
Now off to do my planning for the next week of school.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Brain Dump

1.  40 Days until Christmas.  And that counts today.  Deep breaths...

2.  Modesty.  I've heard plenty of folks talk about it, but a recent series by Tim Challies is perhaps the most grace-full approach I've ever seen.  I've already been talking about it (and am going to read it) with the boys, in the hope of helping them a Biblical perspective on beauty and modesty.  (I mean, they're bound to notice girls sooner or later... but let's hope it's later ;D  "Do not awaken love...", you know?!)

By all means, take a few minutes to read it.

Go.  Read them.  You'll be glad you did.  

3.  Candles and hot tea.  Get me through these cold, wet days.  *sigh*  But good grief, you know what it is about tea...  I love to drink it, but I'm just the middle-man, if you KWIM.

4.  Afternoon sun through the back fence.

5.  Sewing project today:  fix torn sheets.  *sigh*  Not the fun kind of sewing.

6.  Today:  41F, blowing, and raining heavily.  (Candles, hot drinks, good books, repeat...)

7.  Mystery photo.  I took this at Gunnar's request.  Can you tell what happened?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sew This is What I've Been Doing...

Alrighty, then, it's time for some pictures.  I have to confess that when I post stuff like this I get a kind of squeamish feeling.  I mean, the purpose of Herding Grasshoppers is not 

Look at me!  Look at me!  Look at my stuff
I'm so awesome, look at me!

But it could sure start feeling like that, y'know?

I used to scrapbook.  And honestly, I like holding a book in my hand a lot better than I like looking at a computer screen, so maybe someday I'll get back to it and try to "catch up".  (I know, I know.  It's good to have dreams, right?)  I like to have those family memories preserved.  Also, I like to have a record of stuff I've made because - believe it or not - I forget things pretty quickly, and I give most of it away.  I might want to make it again, someday!

So if you're not interested, well... the whole interwebby world is out there waiting for you :D  But if you are...

I like throw pillows.  So quick and easy to change the look of a room!  Grandma Grasshopper and I both love fall, so when I found this idea I knew I had a winner.  

The Dollar Tree had some huge felt leaves for only - you guessed it - a BUCK.  Our store only had four left, so I grabbed them all.  The great thing about sewing with felt is that it won't unravel, so you dont' have to hem the edges.  (Yippee!)

With some fall colored fabrics I already had in my stash I was able to crank out four pillow cases fairly quickly.  I made an envelope back, so they could easily be changed.  The catch was, the pillow forms I thought I would use (that I already had) were too small.  (Those are large leaves!)

I needed 18x18 pillow forms.  Joann Fabric to the rescue.  I went online and found a 50% off coupon, but it was good for one day only - a Tuesday.  Since the coupons were "one per customer", I needed some help.  So with the boys all duded up for CAP I printed off four coupons and swung by the fabric store on the way to their squadron meeting.

There are rules about when and where they are to wear their uniforms (basically at a squadron activity or within half an hour, ie coming and going) so we fell within those parameters, but the boys aren't crazy about going around in public in uniform but not on duty.  (If it's just the older boys, people tend to assume they're active-duty military and they get embarrassed by the attention and it's kind of a pain to explain about CAP to people.)  Anyway, they were good sports and we got our pillow forms with no trouble :D  So, Grandma Grtasshopper...

... now you know the rest of the story!

And I'm so glad it worked out, because they sure add a fun pop of fall color to my living room!

And, in other news, I finally finished my newest quilt!  And good grief, it was hard to photograph.  The weather has been yucko, so I couldn't get an outside picture, plus it's huge!  This is the first bed-size quilt I've made, and it finished at 88" x 92" before washing.  I'm curious to re-measure it to see what the shrinkage was, but it's still plenty big.

For some reason I have a really hard time getting the color turquoise to look right on the computer screen.  Ugh.  It's the perfect aqua color of a swimming pool in the summer sun :D  In fact, I intended it to look like a tile mosaic.  And for an orderly, sequential, (OCD???) person like me, letting it be random was probably the hardest part.  I had to get the boys to help!  I cut all the squares, dumped them into a tub, and we pulled them out and grouped them into rows and I just went at it.  Maybe I should have manipulated the distribution of lights and darks a little more evenly, but I just let it be.

And I did send this one out to be quilted.  It's huge and heavy, and there was just no way I was going to horse it through my nice little Husqvarna.  My quilter, Suzanne, used a great turquoise thread that blended wonderfully and did a nice all-over meandering (stipple) fill.

I chose the fabric, a turquoise ombre, because I loved the color and I wanted this quilt to feel serene and peaceful, for our bedroom.  Mission accomplished :D

But I do love bright colors, which brings me to the last thing I have to show you today.  Remember the four church babies I've mentioned?  

Well, I missed the shower for #4, due to Monday night rehearsal, but here it is... Charming Stars :D

I saw the idea here, but changed the measurements, left out the cornerstones, and went without a border.  Not knowing whether the quilt was for a girl or a boy (Cole Henry!) I chose bright colors I had in my stash, and backed it with...

... a sheet from Walmart!  I think it really works :D  And I was able to use some of the same fabrics I used in a quilt for big brother a couple of years ago.

So that's the news in my neck of the woods, and now... off to a late-ish start to our school day.  Thank heavens for homeschooling!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


We had a birthday party this weekend.
Few in the Grasshopper family celebrate their birthday alone,
and sure enough we had two to celebrate.

Tate is fifteen!
And Grandma Grasshopper is... mature :D

Wyatt snapped this for me, so he's missing,
but we had fifteen around those tables.

See the anticipation?  They're about to get their gifts :D
Also, Tate would like you to notice his shirt.
He's really into funny t-shirts right now.
And for you Canadian readers, he bought that shirt in Canada, lest you think we're mocking you. ;D

Grandma and Grandpa Grasshopper noticed his t-shirt love and customized this for him.
I think Grandpa has one that matches.
You can see it was a hit!

But of all the wonderful-and-much-appreciated gifts he got, I think this gift bag hit his funny bone the hardest.  Good find, Aunty Tami!

His brothers teamed up to get him something they'll all enjoy.

And since Aunty Tami won't be with us at Thanksgiving and wanted to carry on family tradition,
she brought the boys an early "Thanksgiving gift".

Now, maybe I'm a bit of a photo-purist, but I'm not a fan of photos taken with the flash,
though that's obviously necessary in dark places.

I give you a little photo retrospective of my handsome young man!

About six months old - isn't he a cutie?
And those big, blue eyes... they melt my heart.

The moment we turned on the first hearing aid, age three and a half.

On a summer vacation to the Oregon coast, an endless area to conquer with his big trucks...

.... and so full of treasures to share with Grandpa.

Working with real power tools is very serious business, at Aunty Tami's.

First trip to Disneyland!  2007, age 8.



When you can't sled in it, build a snow tank.

Mr. Exuberant

Tate was such a good defender (at soccer) we made him this shirt,
but here he's up on the roof cleaning gutters
(hence the safety harness).
That boy is fearless!

More addictive than crack.


One of Tate's many "arranges".

When you visit the military museum,
don't you want to pick Sadaam Hussein's nose?
(Gunnar is not amused.)

Oh my.
One hundred percent BOY.

Yet gentle.

On our big vacation of 2011 I had the boys keep journals.
Tate's is a wonderful treasure of memories and humor.
He created a theme (the daily LOG) and added sketches.
Love that sense of humor!

And I love the memories we made all over the western U.S.

And oh-my-goodness I love that irresistible dimple!

My boys are growing into young men.
Love that look of pride... the good kind of pride ;D

And isn't he just fine in a uniform?
Of course, this is an older picture.
He has a bit more "salad" on his bars these days.
(That's what they call the ribbons/decorations they earn.)

Can't believe how fast he's growing.

He gets up at six every morning to exercise and have his devotions.
His favorite subject is history.
He jumps in to help with chores around the house.
He's read through the entire Bible on his own.  Twice.
He's as stubborn as a mule.
He's a hard worker.
He has a wacky sense of humor.

And I love him :D