Harnessing New Year’s Optimism for School

Of all the things I love about homeschooling (and there are many!), one of my favourites is the ability to be super flexible in terms of scheduling. Crummy weather? Let’s work ahead so we can take a break later on! Appointments? We can easily work around them.

It also means that we aren’t tied to the public school calendar when it comes to holidays. This year we opted to shift our Christmas vacation up a week because math, even when using candy canes for manipulatives, cannot compete with baking cookies or decorating the tree or just the general sense of anticipation that kicks into high gear by mid-December.

Of course, this means we also started up again early, because two weeks is about the limit before Adam and Leah start going a little stir-crazy and need to return to a semi-predictable schedule. If Leah had her way, we would have ended our break on Boxing Day — but I was desperate for a longer holiday and pushed off our return until Tuesday of this week, when Todd also went back to work.

This week has been great for all of us; we have managed to carry that incredible sense of energy and positivity that tends to accompany the new year into our schooling. Adam is memorizing French verbs and has begun writing an adventure story; Leah keeps pushing to complete just one more page of math questions or read just one more book. (She’s still on a bit of a Christmas book binge.)

Since I know this unbridled optimism isn’t going to last forever, I’m taking advantage of it while we’re all feeling like there are no limits to what we can accomplish. Soon enough the mid-winter doldrums are going to kick in and then I’ll be thankful that we’ve already checked so many things off our lists.

I’m grateful for the return to a regular routine but since activities don’t start up again until next week, this has been a nice easy re-entry into school. It’s also afforded me a little extra knitting time.

This yarn and pattern make me unbelievably happy — I’ve knit this pattern (Girasole) in fingering weight yarn, which made for a lovely, lightweight baby blanket, but this worsted weight version is going to be amazingly squishy and cozy and I can’t wait until it’s finished. Even though I’ve had to rip back once already (due to my apparent inability to count correctly), this colour makes me smile every time I pick up my needles.

And I’m going to need something to make me smile… particularly once the newness of the year wears off and the kids are counting down the days until March Break!


New Year, New Projects

I love the hope and promise that a new year offers, and clichéd as it might be, I welcome the opportunity to reflect on the previous year and set some goals for the new one. Rather than make resolutions, per se, I prefer to focus on what I want to accomplish in the coming year.

For the past two years I’ve set a (somewhat) lofty goal of knitting a pair of socks each month, pairing a dozen skeins of yarn with patterns at the beginning of January. And guess what? Both years I’ve failed. Oh, I manage to knit more than 12 pairs of socks each year, but I get distracted with new yarn or a pattern that is just begging to be knit immediately (that doesn’t work with any of the skeins I’d set aside), and so, even in December, my sock yarn basket is still half-full.

This year, though, I have a new plan. Rather than limiting myself to socks (which I’ll knit anyway — they’re so perfectly portable), I’ve put together a bunch of skeins that I love and that I want to knit into something wonderful over the course of the year. Some of the projects may be for me, others will be gifts, but they’re all going to be fabulous. And really, the basket is just a starting point — a way in which to make sure that I don’t forget about some of the projects I’ve had percolating for ages but never got around to starting. I’m in no way limiting myself to this basket — truly, what I want to accomplish here is a year of knitting things that I love, rather than items I feel compelled to craft.

And because there’s no time like the present, I’ve already wound two skeins! The multicoloured yarn will be a hat for Adam — he picked the yarn and I am choosing the pattern. And that teal yarn in the background (which is incredibly difficult to photograph accurately!) is destined to be a Girasole blanket for me.

I’ve got some other crafty goals this year as well: namely, to finish a few cross-stitch projects so that they can be framed or otherwise displayed, and I also want to make more use out of my sewing machine (which only sees the light of day, it seems, when I am making Halloween costumes or pyjamas).

Given my list of things I’d like to accomplish this year, it’s going to be busy. I’ve got (a lengthy) list of books to read, accessories to knit, samplers to stitch, clothes to sew, and adventures to plan.

Bring on 2017!