Wow. Where to begin?

Seven months goes by SO QUICKLY! I never meant to fall off the face of the earth, but here we are.

Our third little boy was born January 10, weighing in at 8lbs even. We named him Benedict Michael (hereafter on this blog as “Beanie”, thanks to his older brothers). He’s a sweetie.

The birth went really well and there were no complications and he fits into our family perfectly.


His brothers are growing up, too. Yuri turned 3 a little over a month ago and is delightful and trouble and mischievous and clever and very hard to stay on top of. He colors on walls without abandon and without regard to consequence, cuts his hair with no second thought, punches his older brother on a daily basis, and really enjoys helping out in the kitchen. He has also recently learned how to play minecraft, so he and Kostya do that nearly every day, until Yuri starts breaking everything Kostya has made. I think this photo pretty much sums it up.

Kostya turned 6 in February, and he is a delight as well. He is progressing through his phonics, and he is a fantastic big brother and a great help around the house. He is usually at the receiving end of a punch from Yuri, but he almost always kind of deserves it, if that makes sense.

I cannot believe how old they are getting! I have three sons! It is the best ever.

After Christmas I decided to shut down my etsy shop, probably for good. Kostya was going to be doing proper homeschooling, I would have three little ones to look after, and with the etsy shop, all of my free time was spent working on it instead of doing any fun sewing. The money was nice, but after four years, it was time to say goodbye. I don’t miss it at all.

In the meantime I have made real progress on my WIP list from the past few years, and, of course, started many new ones and have about a million other things I want to make.

I finished this in the spring as a gift for a friend of ours whose daughter was born about a month after Beanie. I really enjoy using the Quick Curve Ruler and the patterns that go along with it, and this Bonnie and Camille fabric was darling.


After I gifted the quilt, however, Baby’s Mother told me they actually fell in love with the back side of the quilt. Mom had always referred to her daughter as her “Little Mermaid” in utero, and so I found a mermaid panel printed by Hawthorne Threads, and so this is the side they display in the nursery. (This shows off the quilting I did a little bit)

I also finally finished the pink and brown BOTM I started years ago (in my gallery is it’s twin, Jun) and gifted it to one of Kostya’s friends.

I also finished a Halloween wall hanging using Cotton + Steel’s Spellbound line. It’s actually quilted and ready to hang, but I don’t seem to have a picture of it all finished. I’m not sure why I made a wall hanging, and a Halloween one at that. I don’t typically decorate for holidays or anything, and I’m not particularly attached to Halloween. Maybe I just really liked the fabric.

Another big finish (well, almost), is this quilt top I started last spring, but then fell pregnant and felt absolutely horrible and set it aside until this year. The pattern is Alsion Glass’s “Timber” and I chose to use dark neutrals paired with Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer and Shimmer 2 lines because I felt that, altogether, it would feel “masculine” and even a little bit “dwarfy”. This quilt will be my husband’s when I’m finished and it’s the first quilt I’ve ever used wool batting in. I’ll report back on how we like the wool. In Texas.


Of course there are a million other things going on. I’m homeschooling a bit and I need to update the homeschooling blog. I’ve been reading and cross stitching some. My brother got married. Our garden did well this spring. Life is busy and I am a terrible updater. Also I hate computer, the internet, and most social media, so there you go.


Homeschool Review weeks 3 – 4

This should be the last totally homeschool post on this blog, as I am in the process of making one specifically for these types of posts. I think I’ve come close to deciding on a name for our school. I know it will be something along the lines of “Divine Mercy Homeschool” or something like that, and I’ll go into the naming later on that blog.
(edit, here is the blog. suuuuuper exciting)

Overall, I would say our first block (four weeks on, one week off), was a great success. Kostya is a delight to teach, and kindergarten is a great first year to start since we have so few real deadlines and our goals are few (basically, I want him to be a beginning reader by the end of this and for everything else I just want a feel for what approaches are best for him and what kind of pace we’re looking at and what interests he might have we can pursue in the future).

Reading lessons have slowed to one lesson per day. Kostya recognizes the new sounds and how to say them almost immediately, but putting it all together into words and short sentences is much slower, and so of course sentence comprehension isn’t there yet. Totally fine. We are *just* starting, after all! His writing is picking up a good deal and so instead of practicing one letter a day like we had in the beginning, we are doing two – five most days.

Mathematics has been fun. I’ve had to rework how fast we would go through materials, and he has surprised me with how quick he is to pick up on certain things. He can add numbers quite well, especially with some sort of manipulative, so we are working on recognizing the notation. Last week I went ahead and introduced place value. All I have to say as far as that goes is thank goodness for youtube! He loved the songs and cartoons that were available that helped break things down in ways I could not. While I did not have him use the work book, our last two math lessons last week were the lessons out of the actual Math U See Alpha book. My hope is that next week, when I start block 2, we can use that more. Whenever I felt like I couldn’t really tackle what MUS was doing,  I used Life of Fred: Apples instead. I have a feel that if I used that as our primary math book with some supplements, Kostya would blast through it. As it is, I intend to keep using it once or twice a week. I don’t have anything really planned out, it’s just how I feel that day: Do I sit and try to explain a proper math lesson from MUS, or do I just read the “story” out of LOF and make up some accompanying exercises? I was worried this approach would be confusing, but so far it has not been for either of us.

At this point I wonder when I should start giving Kostya easy books to try, or if I should keep doing our 100 Easy Lessons for a while longer. I suppose I could just wait until winter since we will have to stop school anyway for baby boy #3, who is due to join us early Jan.

I’m not much of a crafty person, but I’ve been trying to incorporate some other activities into our schooling. In the last month we’ve baked cookies a few times, made play doh, and went to the grandparent’s house to help with honey harvesting (“bee milking”, as my FIL calls it).

Some photos, since I haven’t posted any in a while

Homeschool Review: Week 2

I have no intention of doing this every week, as I would prefer to keep this blog more craft oriented, but as I have no created a homeschool specific blog (haven’t thought of a name yet), this will be where I post some homeschool thoughts.

This week was a bit tougher than last week. It was our first four day week (Fridays are library/activity days), and our first week with math.

While Kostya progressed through the first 20 reading lessons in three days last week, we have since slowed down significantly as he comes across new, less familiar sounds and letter combinations (one of our successes was mastering “th” this week!). There are things about early learning that I sometimes take for granted that I have to back up and teach him, like sentences ending with a period. He rolls along with things rather well, though. He still enjoys the lessons and sometimes asks for extra after lunch. I have a collection of Bob Books, so after he’s learned new sounds, I pull out the books that have those sounds for extra practice.

Writing is still slow as molasses, but that is okay. We are almost finished with Lesson 2 of the Memoria Press Copybook. I suppose I could lay off writing entirely and he would be fine, but I think that as long as we move gently through this, it will be okay. Kostya is always asking me to write lists and letters, and I’d like to give him the tools to do so ASAP. I may change my tune later, but I don’t want to stop writing completely. Not unless he shuts down with it.

Math has been interesting. Like I wrote before, I am hoping to use Math U See Alpha. Now, I think brain wise, Kostya is more than ready for the concepts, but after viewing the DVD that came with the program, I realized that format would probably not work with Kostya at his current maturity level, and might move too fast. What I’ve done is reviewed the first few lessons and broken them down into teeny, tiny pieces. Actually, here we are at the end of week 2 and I still haven’t even said “Place Value”. Only today, day 4 of math lessons, did I bring out the blocks and show how they were organized and divided. We spent the first three days practicing how to write numbers correctly and legibly, and since writing is the hardest for Kostya, we still have a long way to go. Today I made a simple worksheet of single digit addition problems with no carrying, and even though Kostya could read the problems out and answer them quickly with and without the blocks, writing the answer down was a huge stumbling block, so I think next week I will lay off writing numerals and just let him dictate the answers to me and I’ll think of another way to bring in writing the numbers at a later time. I want so badly for him to enjoy math as he has done so far and to not be frustrated.

Another  little hiccup, which I understand is totally age appropriate, is his ability to listen and repeat back to me a story I’ve read. I’m reading short Bible stories to him, and only a fraction of the time is he able to tell me anything back in the story. Today’s problems were more behavioral than ability, though, as he got tired of listening to me and walked out of the room in the middle of the story. We had a chat afterwards about how that was unkind, and that it was very important to listen, because in order to learn, we *must* listen. I told him trying his best in his schooling was not at all about pleasing me, but that in order to be the man God has designed him to be he must try his best, and that means listening. I do not ask or expect perfection, but I do want him to try. He cried, and we hugged and I told him how much I enjoyed our time together, how much I loved him, and how honored I was that he was my son. Then we sat and read the story again, this time while he played with blocks, and he was able to retell a bit back to me. I was very surprised when he cried. He doesn’t often show disappointment with himself and I hope I wasn’t too harsh (hence all the hugging and kissing afterward).

And then there is Yuri. My sweet Yuri, who spent all last week sweetly sitting next to us, coloring away. Yeah, that’s completely gone. I think he must be going through some development spurt, because his food intake has nearly doubled this week and his behavior is a dumpster fire. Oh, and he’s actually napping right now. Yeah, there must be some serious brain growth happening. Totally appropriate for his age, but man it’s frustrating. He has colored all over every page of Kostya’s. He tells me “NO!” after every request. He takes things out of Kostya’s hands and close fisted hits him for no reason, and seems to take joy in destroying everything Kostya builds. I think he is an expert in the “terrible twos”. Weather the storm, I guess.

Hot Springs (mini vacation!)

Last week we packed up the boys for our first real road trip and vacation as a family of four and it was… illuminating? Exhausting? Something like that.

We left Tuesday morning and all was well. We fed the boys some breakfast from Chick Fil A, and like most other times, they didn’t really eat anything and the chicken got lost on in the back of the car somewhere and we still haven’t found most of the chewed up pieces. They slept fairly well until we got to Texarkana, where we thought it was a good idea to get Chick Fil A again for lunch. While I like their chicken sandwiches, two meals in a row is just too much. Too much. The boys played at a park while we ate to burn off a bit of energy. We realized at this point that Kostya had not used the restroom before we left, which was a big oversight on our part, as he had peed sometime before Texarkana. Luckily, I was a super great and prepared mom and had packed several extra changes of clothes for both boys.

On the second leg of our journey, from Texarkana to Hot Springs, we discovered that Yuri gets carsick! Especially on a full stomach. I heard him cry and cough in the backseat, and then we heard the gurgle and splat as it all hit the back of his seat, so we had to stop and change him and I nursed him for a while. The  outfit was a goner, so I just tossed it and opted for naked (except for the diaper, of course), so I wouldn’t use another outfit in case he needed to vomit again. Luckily, he didn’t.

We arrived at Hot Springs in good time, and our hotel, The Arlington, was gorgeous, and one day I might actually read the history on it. It’s located right on the main street of Hot Springs, at the end of Bathhouse Row. We’ve actually been to Hot Springs, before, two years ago, but we were not able to get a room at the Arlington because Hot Springs hosts horse races, and we weekend we went there were races, and all of the rooms at every decent hotel we booked, so we had to stay like five miles out of town. It was definitely worth staying at the nicer hotel because we didn’t have to drive anywhere this time. All the restaurants and other places were within an easy walking distance.

Here are some terrible pictures of the hotel

Our bed was lumpy, but they were really quite comfortable.

We checked in and went to our room. The hallway was definitely channeling some creepy Doctor Who vibes

By now it was almost evening, and we were all hungry and ready to walk around, so I went to change from my gross and sweaty t shirt and skirt into one of the few cute things I brought to wear for dinner, only to find out that Yuri, the night before, had unpacked a lot of my things and I only had about half of the clothes I thought I had packed. So I was stuck in frumpy t shirts and skirts. Sigh. Kids. We found a delicious Cuban place and I can’t remember the name (sorry), and the food was SO GOOD, but I got indigestion because of the stress of worrying about whether or not the boys could be entertained long enough before they exploded. Restaurants haven’t been good to us recently. Lots of prayers were said and answered, and we actually finished the dinner and received compliments from other patrons and some wait staff. We went back to the hotel and hung out, and I worked on some sewing handwork.

We woke up the next morning way, way too early and ate at a place called Pancakes, which for a place called Pancakes, was pretty good but not like, amaaaaazing. I love eating out for breakfast food, but Wafflehouse is almost always better than any other place. After breakfast was a visit to a small aquarium (for the kiddoes) across the street. There they had a tortoise named Slowpoke who walked freely. The kids liked her. My stomach was bothering me again so I went back to the hotel. Like home, the bathroom door didn’t shut all the way so I had no privacy. Just like home. Children are gifts from God. Then a nap happened, Alleluia. We took the boys for a swim in the pool on the 7th floor, but the water was too cold for me, and Yuri hated the hot tub, and then he found a katydid bug that scared him after it buzzed and everything fell apart because he kept trying to throw himself down stairs, so we decided swimming was out, and it was time for dinner!

This time we opted for this delicious italian place called Angel’s. It was some of the most flavorful italian food I’ve ever had, and they do not skimp on the garlic. Not in the least. It’s excellent. Like every other meal, James and I sat through it on the edge of our seat, trying to prepare ourselves for tantrums/broken items/thrown food/the apocalypse, but amazingly, we made it through. There were some close calls, but fortunately we were seated out of the way from everyone, so no one noticed.

At this point in our evening, despite the weather forecast predicting just a “cloudy, breezy” day, the sky opened up and it poured. We were a good four or five blocks away from the hotel, with no umbrella or cover for the stroller, and it was a serious, soaking rain that didn’t look like it was going anywhere for hours. We decided we were just going to run it, so I strapped the kids in the stroller and took off. We got soaked nearly immediately, and Yuri started to cry, so James took him out and carried him while I ran with Kostya, who also started crying.

It’s hard to see in this picture, because I’m a terrible photographer, but this was actually after the storm had lightened up, and it’s still solid rain.

Yuri was so unhappy.

At this point I had no clean clothes and we needed warm baths, so I was gross. Originally, I had thought we might be able to stay an extra night, but food costs, lack of clothing, and the inability to relax in any way cut that idea out. I had also intended to hit up the in house spa, but that never happened, so I had to settle for a bath in the hotel room (can’t complain too much – the tubs were huge and the water so so hot and wonderful), but because the door didn’t latch, Yuri could come in, so I spent my bath trying to deflect all the random objects he kept trying to throw in the tub.

James and I ordered coffee and chocolate cakes from room service, we managed to get the kids to sleep at 11, and went to bed. James was able to sleep, but Yuri is growing four teeth at the same time and so I didn’t really sleep at all. We checked out the next morning, had some Wafflehouse on the way out, and I was a zombie for the rest of the way. Yuri slept the whole way home, though, so that was good.

So, things I learned – vacations with small children are not relaxing at all. We had fun, the boys seemed to enjoy themselves, but James and I are definitely going to try for an us-only overnighter at some point. Children are really good at doing things that could probably kill them, and that’s stressful.

Christmas is almost here holy cow

I am no good at updating.

The boys are great and amazing. Kostya is growing and learning so much it makes me want to cry. He counts everything in sight, adds, and has actually just started multiplying very small numbers. The very first time he did it I nearly cried. It’s all been of his own interest, I haven’t lead any of it. He will come up to me and tell me, “If I have three groups of three, I have nine!” and then wander off to do something else. He’s also started asking me how to spell and sound out everything, so I think reading might be right around the corner. I know earlier I posted all my big plans for homeschooling, but as it is, he seems to be leading himself just fine, so I’ve taken a completely hands off approach about it, just making fun things available and addressing things as he asks. DH thinks we can keep this up for the next several years and not have to bother much with boxed curricula or anything. Sounds fine to me! Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the last few months.

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Yuri is six months old now, can you believe it? He’s precious. He’s got a bit of a temper, and he’s a bit clingier than his brother was at this age. It’s fun to me to see the differences in personality develop. He’s a lot bigger than Kostya at this age. At the four month appointment, Kostya was 15 pounds and 25″. At Yuri’s four month check up, he was 18 lbs and 27″ tall! Here is the latest of him, taken on his half birthday.



And a family picture!

I think that’s a pretty good looking group of people, yeah?

It’s been forever

Apparently momming two little boys is time consuming. Who would have thought? Kostya is taking a break from phonics because we hit a little wall, and I wanted to back off before it became a struggle. Yuri is four  months old now and huge and adorable (17 lbs and 27″ tall at the last appointment!).


Here’s the fam at a nursery recently. It’s so hard to get a family picture now that isn’t blurry or has everyone’s eyes open or someone isn’t doing something goofy. 10303995236_3b50493852_z

In crafting news, things are as slow as always. I did get one of the block of the month tops done, though.


The other is about 85% pieced. I just need to finish the sashing and borders. My points aren’t perfect on either, but I’m  pretty pleased. After the brown and pink one is finished, I’ll need to switch my brain into quilting gear, because I’ve got what I imagine will amount to at least a year’s worth of quilting work before I get back to piecing again.

The Perot Museum + pictures (zomg finally!)

Today was our homeschool group’s schedule trip to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and before I go any further I will say – it was awesome. It was awesome and I didn’t even get to play with most of the stuff, because James and I spent most of our time trying to corral a super grumpy 3 year old. But the stuff we did get to see and play with (there are TONS of little exhibits and things to get your hands on) were really cool.

The day started out a little rough, though. It froze overnight, and then it rained, and then this morning there was a light powdering of snow. I’m sure for most of the country, this is no problem, but in Dallas, once that weird cold white stuff starts coming from the sky, all hell breaks loose. People usually go between two extremes – deciding that just being outside it just far too dangerous to risk and canceling everything (seriously, get just a hint of a slick spot on the road and the whole city shuts down, including schools, government buildings, and so on), or people decide that because they drive an F 350 they can still barrel down the road at 85 mph (encouraging more of us to decide to not risk it and stay at home). So there are wrecks everywhere, delays, people go nuts, and everyone freezes their bottoms off because only people from places where snow and ice are normal have any idea how to dress. As a native Dallasite, I have no idea how to dress. I just put on a lot of layers. I don’t even own a pair of gloves, and neither does my son, so when he wanted a snowball fight I had to scramble and find some socks and hoped he would give up before his fingers froze off.

seriously, this was all the snow we had.

seriously, this was all the snow we had.

Our original meeting time was 10am, but the roads were very backed up, so we postponed until noon. By noon, the roads were warm and a little wet at the very most, so we made good time. After the rest of the group showed up, Kostya grabbed his best friend Brianna’s hand and we took off toward the exhibits.

040We didn’t really go in any particular order, we just let the kids pick a floor and we followed, so we ended up in the middle of the museum on the technology and human sciences floor. There were a million little things to do, from guiding robots to building small buildings with magnets and completing circuits (and I’m sure more that I didn’t even see). Kostya is a small guy, and a lot of the activities were a bit above him, but he did find a few things he liked, like this activity where you build trails and roll little ping pong balls along them.

041There was a serious ball shortage though, and Kostya had some serious grumps when he had to share. We had to watch him, because he was a little ball hog.

My favorite exhibit was about the human body. I’ve always been so fascinated by stuff like this. I used to watch all the shows on TLC and Discovery Channel, back when they had science as part of their programming. 045 At first I thought these were just pictures or slides, but then I got up closer and realized that no, they were actually pieces of the person!046 Like, this is real human tissue! It was a little strange at first, thinking about the person that these bits of tissue and muscle used to be, but it was still so, so cool. I tried to get a decent close up so you could see the fibers and texture and things. This picture below is of a female heart, and the picture above is of an elderly man (also, my new camera is just so much better than my last). For the record, these people donated their bodies to science, so there aren’t any weird gross scary stories about them. 047Since the museum is located in Dallas, a good deal of the exhibits were dedicated to Texas wildlife, climate, ecology, and on other floors, economy and business (there was a large exhibit on the Barnett Shale).
Of course, what museum would be complete without dinosaurs? At this point we split from the main group and headed up to the fourth floor to check out the dinosaurs of Texas exhibit. Take a look at this guy – he’s called an Alamosaurus, found in the southern areas of North America. Sorry the picture is so wonky, it was hard to get all of him in the picture at once. Dallas gets the Dallasauras, some kinda lame fish creature. 052 This was a little activity Kostya could do. There were different sized items in each section, and each section had a different tool to pick them up as a way to show the difference in the beaks of birds and how different beaks are specialized to pick up different foods. Kostya just likes picking things up and putting them in containers, so we sat at this for about 20 minutes until some other kids came up and wanted to play. 055

James, clearly having the time of his life.

James, clearly having the time of his life.

This is the third largest gold nugget in existence. I just thought it was cool. 060There was also a floor devoted to space, but at that point Kostya started melting down, so James and I didn’t get much of a chance to explore it. It looked great, though, and the next time we go we are getting a sitter for Kostya so we can go and see it all ourselves.

On the bottom floor they had sports exhibits and the children’s area. I was able to jump into the sports room really quick to see some boys race a T Rex. Part of me wants to try it out (when I’m not pregnant), but I also think it might give me nightmares, because death by T Rex is actually on my list of Ridiculous but Actual Fears. 062 The Children’s area was pretty neat. They had a few animals to look at, a mini farmer’s market where the kids could see where produce came from and pretend to shop, a skyline playground, and a water area. Kostya wasn’t interested in anything but the water area. He has always, always enjoyed pouring water (and sand during warmer weather), even from the time he was very small and just able to hold things. We stayed here for at least a half hour, and all he did was pour water. 066 I wonder what kinds of activities he and I can do that can capitalize on this intense interest for him, and what we can build on as far as homeschooling and lessons as he gets older. Maybe he’s got a future in fluid dynamics and engineering, yeah?067

After we left, we had lunch at Chick Fil A and let Kostya play in the play area a bit, and then we headed home. I had more plans for the day, but most of that was just cleaning and straightening up, but I was more tired than I thought, so when I sat down at six I just passed out for a solid two hours. Kostya is still going strong, despite the fact that his crankiness never abated and he’s a bit of a nightmare right now (he’s never been a napper. I couldn’t get him to sleep if I strapped him to a bed).

Higgs Boson

I had started an entry a day or two ago with my completed Bargello – Nebula quilt, but I think I will postpone that for something a lot more awesome. Instead, I’m going to brag a little bit about my brother.

Me and my brother after his graduation in May 2012 (BS in Mathematics from UT Dallas), he starts his PhD work in physics this fall.

Today I got a very excited text at about 4am my time (around noon for him) from him tell me “They found it!!” This is so amazing and exciting for all of us because he’s there, at CERN this summer and is actually getting to meet and chat with some amazing physicists, including the great Peter Higgs.

My brother’s work there is not directly connect with the Higgs boson. He is instead working on hardware for the upgrade coming next year for the detectors, but still! To be there where amazing stuff is happening! This is by far one of the coolest things to happen to anyone I know.

My brother, Brandyn (far right) with Peter Higgs on July 4, 2012

I’m pretty excited to have a physicist in the family! Way to be awesome!