Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Dreams

So summer is really here now, even though the weather is not really cooperating. How do I know? Both kids are off from school now, and bored already. Well, not exactly. But Catgirl needs to have someone to play with AT ALL TIMES, it seems, and when she doesn't, things can get ugly.

I have me some Grand Plans for this summer. First, the kids are going to work on a subject everyday. Mathboy made out his schedule, which has Logic, Algebra, Latin, Vocab and Grammar, one subject per day. I am requiring only about 30 minutes per day. So far, though, it's been all Algebra all the time for him, and, so far, I've been letting him go.
He'll get bored of the all-algebra diet sooner or later, right? Meanwhile, I am waiting for the math books I ordered for Catgirl to come in the mail. Catgirl ended up getting First Honors, which means she had an "A" average for the whole year. I hear that 5th Grade at Good Counsel is a lot of work, however, so next year should be tougher.

Both of them all already reading like crazy, so that's a good start to the summer vacation. We've got the "To be read" and "Finished" piles of library books going.
DSCN0873 Both kids will be able to participate in the Battle of the Books this year--Catgirl will be eligible because she will be in 5th Grade, Mathboy will be eligible because he will be going to a school that actually participates in contests--and we have the booklists posted on the fridge door. Mathboy enjoyed the first book he read off the list, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, that he persuaded me to read it too. It was very good. I seem to be knee-deep in Young Adult fiction these days, as I also am halfway through The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I have to admit that this one is rather weird but also good. We all enjoyed Nation by Terry Pratchett and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman this spring, as well. There are some good books out there for kids and teens!

Both kids are going to start doing a regular chore schedule as well. I know we have been bad about that in the past. Mathboy is very good about doing a job when he is asked to, Catgirl...not so much. But I think we need to make them take responsibility for some things--let them be the ones checking to see if something needs doing and then just DO IT.

Second, I need to find a gainful employment, and the goal is to have that in place for the fall. Can I get a job lined up for the week after we get back from Disney? Oh, by the way, sir, I would love to work for you, but you will have to wait until after we come back from our vacation. 'Kay?

I do have some CLE courses I have to do over the summer, but if I want to move into teaching I need to make some strides to make that desire look serious. I did submit some online applications for some positions, but perhaps volunteering in some teaching positions in the meantime would be a good thing to have on my resume. I also want to write an article over the summer. I thought seriously about writing a legal-scholarly article about the Mount Laurel decisions, but they probably have already been done. Right now, I am reading a book written by some California law school folks about the decision. Although it does seem well-researched--which is surprising, since the preface implies the guys never even came to New Jersey to research the thing--it is about as biased a book as I have ever read, and the writing style is terrible. I keep thinking that I could do better, but what a job that would be. Probably more than one summer's worth of research.

So maybe I would be better off finding some timely issues and whip off a few articles for the NJ lawyer's paper. Or the Burlington County Times? Would a publisher buy a murder mystery set in the catty PTA of a catholic elementary school? So many ideas, not all of them good ones...

Meanwhile, Mom has had a great idea for a book, which she wants my help to do. More about that another time.

Third, I have serious knitting goals. Meghan, of the Stitch It! podcast, has challenged all her listeners to knit something in laceweight yarn. Coincidentally, I had just cast on the Leda's Dream shawl by Pink Lemon Twist, completely forgetting how much the Adamas Shawl of last summer had cured me of any hankering for lace. Oh well. I guess the cure was only temporary. So I am knitting my shalw along with a whole bunch of other listeners who likewise are trying out laceweight. We can commisserate on the poscast bulletin board at Ravelry.
This what I have so far. It is tough going: I can't seem to get the patterns memorized, and I have had to get used to a very different way of holding the yarn as I knit because it is so fine. It makes my hands tired.

Also, I want to finish my Great American Afghan before it gets cold. I have had a new idea about how I am going to finish it up, and hope it works.
I have 15 squares done. Although the pattern calls for 25 squares, I always knew I was not going to do all of them. There are several in the book that I just have no interest in doing (ahem, socks square, ahem). Besides, 15 squares took me over a year, and I want to have this finished This Year. 2009. Done. So I am going to do 16 squares. That means one more.

I recently laid out all my finished squares and had to face a harsh truth: they are not all the same size. Sigh.
About half of them are the requisite 12 x 12 inches. About half are 11 x 11. One square is a generous 12.5 x 12.5. It may be 13 x 13, I am not sure. I was so annoyed with myself, my measurement may not have been right. It definitely looks a lot bigger than the others. So.... what to do? I could trash the lonely biggest square, but the small ones really do seem a lot smaller than the regulation-size squares. Plus I was concerned about how the yarn I used (Swish Superwash Worsted, from Knitpicks) could stretch out a lot and distort the shape of the squares when the blanket was in use.

I thought about crocheting strips betwen the squares to add size and bolster their shape. But today I had another idea, which I like even more: Log Cabin border strips. I have five colors I am working in. Each square will have border strips of garter stitch knitted on to it in four colors, not including the color the square was knitting in. I can even up the shapes by adjusting how many rows I knit on for the strips.

I've only done this much, but I think this might be a great idea. Indeed, it may be genius. Or it could be totally crazy. Catgirl has already said she thinks it looks weird. We shall see. Whatever it is, I know it's better than crocheting strips between 16 squares, and better than stretching half of these squares to fit right with the other half. And again I say: we shall see.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


It's officially summer! Mathboy finished school this week, both kids' teams lost in the playoffs so their sports were over, the pool is open, and it is finally getting hot outside.

It was kind of a bittersweet goodbye to Mathboy's school. We are all ready for him to move on, but he did have 3 good years there. Lots of kids are leaving, so there were several kids feeling the same as he was.

I forgot to bring a camera to any of Mathboy's games, unfortunately. He pitched a lot of innings this year, and hit great--I think with an over 500 average. He got on base in every game. His pitching was pretty good too, but inconsistent. He either struck everyone out (he throws really hard) or walked everyone.

I finally remembered to bring a camera to Catgirl's last regular season game. Here is the pitcher in action:
Softball pitcher
Catgirl was quite a slugger this season, but Mathboy did not really notice. He did find the only shade at the softball field though:
What? She hit a triple?

Mathboy got to do another piano recital, and Mom and Bill were able to come:
Piano Recital
Mom and Bill at Piano Recital

I made a couple more squares for the Great American Afghan:
DSCN0864GAA Square 24DSCN0862
That last square turned out to be very cool. It was really fiddly at the beginning, but the result is awesome.

Then I received the Stitch It! Podcast charity blanket in the mail for me to add a contribution. The folks in this group make baby blankets and lapghans, sending the blankets around for knitters to add a section. I ended up doing three sections and a crocheted border to finish off this blanket:
Finished Blanket #2
Here's my part:
My part of Blanket

Well, Catgirl wants to go down for breakfast and is bugging me to finish this post. We want to get to the Farmer's Market to day, and then either the pool or to the famr for some strawberry picking. Our choice depends on the heat!