Ramping Up Summer

Summers at home with the boys have basically been a free-for-all, trying-not-to-kill-each-other, kind of experience. This year, inspired by Nicole & Maggie’s recent post, I’m trying something different.

It’s called STRUCTURE.

My boys need it, especially since they’ll both be in school come September (E will be going into grade 2, C into junior kindergarten). BUH-BYE super expensive daycare!

E has two weeks of summer camps (first one is science/multi-sport, second is outdoor/nature-based), and will be home otherwise. C will be at daycare Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and home otherwise. We will also be going away in mid-July to visit my family in Alberta.

So, here are my rough thoughts so far:

For E (between grade 1 and 2)

  • Reading time each day (15-30min?)
  • Writing practice each day (1-2 workbook pages)
  • Learning piano with me M/W/F (15-30min?)
  • Math practice on T/Th (1-2 workbook pages)
  • Weekly journal entry
  • Other educational activities: puzzle books (he likes word searches and mazes), electronics and robotics kits, flying drone
  • Video game time and unstructured play-time of course (board/card games, lego, etc).
  • Summer goals: learning to ride a 2-wheel bike; learning to knit

C loves doing homework when E does, so hopefully this will work. I have a couple pre-K workbook, so he’ll work on:

  • Letters
  • Numbers
  • Reading time
  • Other educational activities: puzzles, his codeapillar, colouring
  • He’ll also get screen time & unstructured playtime
  • Summer goals: writing his name legibly; not drive me insane!

For both (T/Th):

  • Soccer practice
  • Arts & crafts
  • Field trips!
  • LOTS of outdoor time/exploration

Any thoughts or suggestions for kids that are 3.5 and 6.5 years old? What are you doing with your kids this summer?

 

 

Knitting Bucket List

Though I’ve been knitting for 10 years now, I’ve gotten seriously obsessed with it these past few months. It’s what I love to do with my spare time. And not just the act of knitting, but looking at yarn, researching patterns, watching knitting podcasts, planning gifts, and thinking about how I can take my hobby to another level.

Besides simple hats for the kids and scarf for DH, I don’t really give away hand-made knits as gifts because I never thought I was good enough. But that’s changed this year. I plan on making something for my mother-in-law, a much nicer scarf for DH, and socks for the boys.

Some other things on my knitting bucket list are:

  • Learning new techniques like
    • Cables (I’ve heard these aren’t so hard, but I still haven’t done them)
    • Fair Isle colour-work
    • Knitting styles (continental, flicking, etc)
  • Projects
    • Adult sweater
    • fingered/less gloves/mittens
  • Dying yarn
  • Spinning yarn
  • Creating a pattern
  • Sewing project bags (not knitting, but FOR knitting)
  • Attending a knitting retreat

I’m sure this list will grow the more I learn about knitting!

What are you obsessed with lately? What do you spend your free-time doing?

Moving Target

I became a certified high school teacher two years ago, and I’m a couple weeks away from completing my first year of teaching in the public school system. I started the year with a long-term occasional position, where I was teaching grade 11 and 12 physics. Three months in, for many different reasons I won’t get into here, I went on a medical leave. Since returning to work, I have been a daily occasional teacher.

There have been things I’ve absolutely loved about this work, and things I’ve absolutely hated.

The nice thing about being an occasional teacher (long- or short-term) is being able to “test the waters”. I’ve taught in many different schools, grade levels, and subject areas. And, since I’ve been hired by one school board, I have job security. That means I have the ability to take the time to find what gives me the most joy and satisfaction before looking at more permanent job options.

Just recently I’ve applied to another school board (the one I’m in), a part-time professor position at a college, and a full-time professor (teaching) position at the same college.

I realize that DH’s full-time, permanent, well-paying job gives me the privilege to be able to do this, so I’m grateful that I’m able to explore these opportunities as I try to hit the forever-moving target of my “ideal” career (is there such a thing for me – I’m starting to realize I’m someone who loves change in this part of my life).

 

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Thought I’d try something different today and do a video blog (vlog) about my most recent knitting project, the Waiting for Rain shawl. Enjoy!

Some notes:

  • The shawl is designed by Sylvia McFadden
  • I used US 5 needles
  • See my Ravelry project page for this knit here

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Gauge Evolution

As I’ve been knitting more and more, I’ve come to realize that I’m a very loose knitter. I usually have to go down 2-4 US size needles than patterns call for, and my stitches slip easily on my metal needles (sometimes too easily and the fall off). Compared to other knitters, a simple garter stitch fabric that I’ve made practically looks like lace.

It hasn’t always been this way though, and it wasn’t until just recently that I realized my gauge changed drastically when I had my stroke (Oct. 2013).

Here’s are a couple photos to demonstrate just how much my gauge has changed (using my Penrose afghan):

Now that I’m knitting more complex patterns, this is something I’ll need to take into account more and more. For example the shawl I’ve been working on for the past month or so, the lace will be VERY open. Check out how this is going on my Ravelry page, but stay tuned for the finished object (FO) soon!

 

Back in October, I was in a traffic accident as I was heading to work in the morning. It was on a minor highway (speed limit 80km/hr). I was going straight and a big F-150, coming the other way, turn left in front of me. I managed to veer out of the way slightly so that only our driver’s front corners hit. But, because the truck was much bigger than my little Toyota Matrix,  my car was deemed undrivable and was written off.


This was an unwelcome surprise, as we were hoping of keeping the Matrix for another 5-10 years. Instead, we had to purchase a vehicle (we are in a situation that we need two vehicles because of our work situations) within just a few days.

We decided since we were being forced into buying that we’d upgrade a bit and get a newer and bigger model. After some research, we test drove a couple small SUVs. We only tested the Honda CRV and the Ford Escape, because we knew the Toyota RAV-4 would be similar to the former (we were also really interested in the Hyundai Santa Fe, but they were either hard to find or out of our price range).

We both liked the Ford Escape better in terms of drivability and bang for the buck (we could get a much newer model with more options for less $$), and ended up buying a 2013 model with about 60K on it. Meet Eddie:


I drive it everyday, mostly highway driving, and I’ve been quite happy with it. It’s a nice, smooth drive, and I feel safe in it. The back seat is also roomy, which is important as the boys get older.

Some things I’m not keen on are a) the available storage is still not as much as the Matrix (the model we had allowed the front passenger seat to fold flat, so that gave a lot more room!), b) the bluetooth system isn’t super reliable, and c) there are things we’ve been finding after purchase that should have been fixed before we drove it off the lot….

…the first issue was right as we were driving off the lot. The salesperson told us they could only find 1 key fob  and they didn’t know the numerical code for the door. We asked him and the manager about covering the expense of both these things (we felt strongly they should have been included in the price of the car, even though we were buying used). It was going to cost us about $800 for both if we did it through the dealership. They refused to budge 😦 So, we found “a guy” to make us a new key fob for $150, and decided to forget about the door code.

Then, during a routine oil change yesterday,  the mechanic found a few things that had clearly NOT been done since the car was “born”. The air cabin filter was completely covered in black mold, the transmission fluid was black, and the fuel system had never been cleaned. So, now we’ll have to do this service in the near future.

Though I like the Ford Escape as a car so far, our experience with Ford sales and customer service was poor. I understand we need to expect certain things when buying a used car, but there should be a minimum level of service we should all get.

What have your experiences been when buying vehicles (new or used)? 

Making My Own Pendants

As I wrote last time, one of the birthday gifts I bought myself with my birthday money was a kit to make my own glass pendant necklaces. I promised to post when I was done, so here’s how it went!

I bought the kit from LilyDSCraftSupplies on Etsy and followed their online tutorial.

I first made a template using PowerPoint (I know, I know…I’m sure there are better programs, but this was easy) of the shapes of each pendant using the given measurements.

Then I chose my images and fit them into the templates and printed them on matte photo paper.

Their tutorial used the following steps:

  1. Seal the images with a micro-glaze (this took me a while to track down, and cost ~$15)
  2. Glue the glass carbochons on the images
  3. While waiting for this to dry, seal the pendant trays with their glue
  4. Cut the glass/image out
  5. File any jagged paper edges with a nail file
  6. Seal the backs of the images (now attached to the glass) with their glue
  7. Glue the glass/image inside the tray.

I ran into several problems with the method:  a) not using enough glue so the corners of the images would come away from the glass, b) moving the glass around too much when bonding to the image, causing some images to rip, and c) some images would start pulling away from the glass when I was cutting with an exacto knife.

So, after going through one of the sets of glass carbochons, I re-did two pendants as above and then went a different direction. Instead, I:

  1. Sealed the images after printing.
  2. Cut the images out.
  3. Sealed the pendant trays.
  4. Seal the back of the images.
  5. Glued the images into the trays.
  6. Glued the glass on top of the images.

I ended up with a range of success, which is probably par for the course on early attempts. Here are the finished products:

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Though they’re not perfect, most are pretty good (the rectangle and circle at the right are the worst end product and probably not wearable). Considering I was looking at these types of necklaces on Etsy for $15-30 a piece, I think this was worth the expense (about $40 total) and time (perhaps a couple hours total?).

One huge benefit of doing it myself is being able to choose the images, so I’d be happy to try these again in the future for myself or even as gifts for others.

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