Designing an “awesome sweater” for Rainer this year has meant accepting that it turned out 5″ too long, putting it away for the summer, and then bringing it out to cut away and redo this fall.

I’m so happy to be getting at this and making headway again. Putting it aside was good, but pulling it out again is better. It’s sweater weather, after all, and putting a sweater on the man of my life is so rewarding.

Post math smiles


I finally ‘got’ what it was about Instagram that made it a big thing in the online world, and I joined up. It’s just such a nice, visual way of connecting with people, more visual than Twitter, which I also love.

So, connect with me there, too, if you want to. I’m PrairiePoppins almost everywhere I log in, so if this link isn’t working for you, just look me up. Here’s the link for Twitter.

I have a bit of a fear of cross-posting, which is part of why I found it hard to blog this summer. Everything I wanted to say seemed to belong on Twitter: short and pithy. But then to put it here, too, seemed like walking into the same room later in the day and announcing the same thing. Of course, it’s really a different room that may or may not have the same occupants, so I do need to get over it.

Pinterest, yep, I’m there too. But mostly for the fashion and the Christmas and the motivational sayings. I find the homeschooling part of it utterly, overwhelmingly full of ‘adorable ideas for posh houses full of early elementary kids’. It’s not really working for me and my teens, except that one of them loves tunnelling deep into it for her own passions and interests. Just not homeschooling.

And if you don’t know I’m on Ravelry, you probably aren’t actually reading this blog.

I’m not on Facebook. I just can’t.

Today’s lunch was store-bought soup and melted cheese on crackers. Sometimes, it’s nice to be brutally simple about meeting our needs.

I’ve been having problems following the script lately, at least when it comes to my hobbies, especially my knitting. It’s not that I don’t have plans. Oh, I have plans! I wanted to knit 6 sweaters this year, for example, and not many of those are for me. I have traditionally loved making lists and proudly checking items off as I went.

It’s not that I don’t have lots of new plans, either. I am enjoying the traditional fall pastime of imaginarily knitting the entire world of possibilities. Sweet dreaming days, these crisp autumnal days.

It’s that when it comes time to actually knit, I don’t cast on anything that’s on my Responsible To Do List. I pick a yarn and a pattern that is totally off the responsibility radar. Or even my radar at all. I need a new project, and I so I surf through the possibilities and often pick something I didn’t even have prior time to dream over and plan.

At the start

It’s a little understandable. Or maybe a lot.

We are full of Responsible these days. Stuffed to the responsible gills. I find I am completely unable and unwilling to apply any sort of Ought or Should to my free time.

After the flurry of prepping our house for Rainer’s parents’ arrival, I cast on a sweater I had never even heard of and almost blissed out while I knit on grey stockinette. No, truth be told, I am still actually blissing out. Oh, stockinette. Oh, simplicity. Oh, glory.


So my main focus is split into two themes:

1) more time interacting with me while learning
2) getting him confident and skillful in reading, writing, and math

In the Rockies

After much thought, I settled on Sonlight’s Core W as our main work for the year. We are secular and Canadian, so this is pretty much our only choice for the upper-level programs. There’s a very serious literature program that would work for secular non-Americans, too, but way beyond what we can use right now.

Core W is world history, with scads of fantastic novels set in all sorts of interesting places and times. Some of the read alouds I did with Sandra when she was younger and I’m happy to be exploring them with Tias.

The reading in Sonlight is heavy. Too heavy for Tias right now. We’ve done two things to address this. 1) We bought the full 5-day program but are splitting it into two years. 2) I’m assigning him only the chapter books and reading everything else aloud to him. It’s working well. He has gone from finding it hard going to finding it reasonable. As the year goes I hope to be able to add a bit more to his plate, but as long as he’s learning I don’t mind reading aloud. It gives us lots of time together, after all.


We have already been doing the “Key to Math” series to bring Tias up to level. Since these workbooks are topic-based, they have two strengths for us: he can go through them as quickly or slowly as each idea needs because they go from the easiest concepts through more sophisticated applications; they’re not graded and make no assumptions about what you’ve already done. These factors mean that he doesn’t feel dumb as he is presented with ideas that in a traditional school would have been covered with younger kids.

This year we are doing the Algebra series. I hope to be able to go through them before the end of the year and then transition him over to the Teaching Textbooks course. We’ll start with Algebra 1, which will hopefully cover much of the same material, giving him confidence as he switches to the the program. He will probably be required to do it over the summer as we are trying to get him through all of high school math in the next few years.

A program I discovered this summer and am happy to tell you about: Friendly Chemistry. I wish I’d known it was out there with Sandra as I wasn’t particularly happy with the method we went with. This is a great course so far.

Other subjects:

Fine Arts: Dance (hip hop)

German: Rosetta Stone

With Sandra and my father, he’ll do a comparative religion course from the Great Courses company.


I’m almost done the post about Matthias’ homeschooling this year. In the past week I’ve done a lot: been sick, coached soccer, prepped for and then welcomed Rainer’s parents for a visit. Last week was bafflingly hot. 34C one day. As of yesterday, though, the energy and zip of autumn were back in the air.

Knit Night Hat, modified
Knit Night Hat

It’s great to be back in my fall/winter wardrobe. I never feel like I quite nail summer dressing. But layers and dark colours give me play for the dramatic yet classic style I feel flatters me.

I’ve taken Sandra to our favourite cafe this morning, to make math and Monday seem more palatable. It was a good call. She’s much more settled and patient than I think she was headed for. And it means that I have time to send you this quick hello as I type up the longer post for tomorrow.

Before we get into my plans for homeschooling Tias, I need to explain about his homeschooling career so far. He is an amazing person, and nothing at all like I expected to have to deal with when I decided to homeschool. When he was younger, he was my lesson in the Tao – accepting what is, being in the moment, waiting for the ripe moment. He was like parenting a force of nature: not a wild horse that I had to decide wether I was going to patiently tame or break in a short period. He was more of a whirlwind of energy, unpredicabilty, passion, and passionate refusal.

I did what I could without breaking our relationship. I did what I could while respecting his emotional and intellectual state. I tried to surround him with a world of ideas, art, debate, words, stories, and images while waiting for the other things. I tried to steep him in an atmosphere of possibilities while we waited for potential to unfurl. I gave him time. I let him spend hours swordfighting our trees and play hours of video games.

One of the most difficult things I have had to face as a homeschooling parent is a recurrent fear that I am failing him. What is the difference between a true recognition that he wasn’t in a state of readiness and just taking the easy way out by homeschooling Sandra, my more compliant child? Was I taking a course of wisdom? Or neglect?

There isn’t really a way to know. No rewind button so I can try another set of choices and see where we end up that time. I just know that I like him. He’s 15, funny, moral, perceptive, great to talk to, and interesting to be around. I also know that with time has come readiness. He can look at a math page without turning intimidation into anger at me. He can face a day’s To Do list without instantly negotiating for an easier day. He is teachable now. He has an openness and the beginnings of confidence.

I’ve been hesitant to write this, uncertain how to talk about this in a way that gives you important information yet respects that he’s a person that can read this. I’m really proud of our homeschooling plans for this year – I think I’ve put together a very clever set of resources to build his confidence and skills while speeding him along to grade level in the areas where he needs that. I want to tell you about them and you need context to understand why they’re a good set of ideas and how they might apply to you. I blog because I want honest information about homeschooling out there. Not just the best moments. I want you to know that you’re not the only one with doubts and insecurities. Yet I also know that I need to find ways of talking about this that are kind to my son. It’s too easy to toss off a laughing description of this, but this is a rather permanent place, not the intangible atmosphere of a support group conversation.

He is having a very productive year so far, and I am excited to tell you what we’re doing.

Do you believe in supporting people? Support designers.

The True Cost of a Pattern – a revealing breakdown of what goes into delivering a quality knitting pattern.

I have an interesting insight into this particular perspective, since I test knit for Woolly Wormhead. I know for a fact that we go into everything, from wording of instructions, to double-checking that the charts match the written instructions, to seeing if the crown decreases play nice in multiple sizes. (Because if there’s one thing Woolly Wormhead is fantastic at, it’s getting the right crown decrease for the pattern!)

She pays us. Not a lot, but neither are we expected to use our time and yarn for the ‘privilege’ of knitting something before it’s out to the public. She values us.

Value designers. Paid-for patterns are things that people put their creativity, meticulousness, tenacity, and flair into.


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