Drowning in Pictures

After we got home from visiting family on Easter, I pulled all the pictures off my camera. All 600 of them. On my computer is a folder labeled 1st for Sorting. As always, I just transferred the pictures off my memory stick and was about to walk away and tackle the many household chores when I noticed that the pictures in the album totaled close to 2,000.

So, I sat right back down and started the long task of sifting out the gems and deleting the rest.

I tackled Easter first.



Then, I started at the earliest picture in the folder. I was shocked to see it was from Christmas!




I need to sort through pictures more often.


Or take fewer pictures.


How does everybody else do it? I feel like I used to have a handle on it when I was only taking pictures of Elly. But with 3 kids, I take many more pictures and have considerable less time on my hands.

On a less whiny note, I did finish sorting all the Christmas pictures.


Next to tackle Elly’s birthday pictures.


Impromptu Liberty Bell Visit


On our way home from a visit to Mom Mom, we drove through the city on the way to the zoo. I casually pointed out the sky line of Philly and the pleading ensued.

Please, Mom, please take us to Philadelphia. Please. Pretty please. We want to see the city.
Please. Please. Please.

The sun was shining. The radio was pumping out good music. Directly in front of us was the exit to Center City. I couldn’t think of a good reason to say no. So, I said yes.

It turned out to be a great decision. Parking was easy; I found metered parking on 6th St right next to the park.

Two blocks away was the home of the Liberty Bell, so we walked over to see it. Elly and Brooke were amazed at how big it was and how large the crack was. They listened as I read inscription after inscription about the bell. Then, they started a banter of questions. Thankfully, the guide was eager to share his knowledge.


Malcolm, as usual, willingly went along for the ride. His favorite part of the whole trip was meeting dog after dog after dog in the nearby park.

Ringing in the New Year

Every year, Pottstown hosts a Polar Bear Swim and Bonfire. Having no desire to jump in a freezing Schuylkill river, we strolled into Riverfront park an hour after the party began.

The fire was still hot, providing much warmth on a (finally) cold day in winter. The Newfoundland we saw was quite content with the cold; happy to lay down and enjoy the cold.


While huddled by the fire, Elly and Brooke each ate a hot dog.


Six Phillies firemen stood on guard around the  bonfire with hoses in hand. Giddy as a kid in a candy store, I asked the firefighters when they were going to put the fire out. Two minutes was the answer so we stayed to watch the show.

Smoke billowed out of the fire pit in a huge torrent. We lost sight of the firefighters.


After a few oohs and ahhs, we headed back to the car.

Despite complaining of cold, Elly and Brooke stopped to check out the Rotary’s Free Library. They both found something they loved and had to bring home to read.

Once home, the kids had hot chocolate and the adults had hot tea. After a paltry amount of pleading from Elly, Dan lit the fireplace. He’s been itching to do that. It’s been two years now.

As always, we ended the first day of the year with a supper of pork and sauerkraut. If the old PA Dutch belief is right, we’ll be blessed with good luck. I shan’t complain.

Happy New Year!


A New Name

It seems fitting that the first day of the New Year, I spiffy up my old blog with a new name and a new look.

48 hours ago, I had no intention of doing any such thing. But when I noticed that I had forgotten to renew my knittedgems domain, I quickly scrambled to recover my precious blog. Yes, I know I haven’t posted to my blog in months. There is no time. I fall into bed at the end of the day. Chasing a toddler and homeschooling two 5-year-olds is exhausting work.

Even though nothing magical is going to happen tomorrow. I will still be too busy to write a blog post more than once a month. I couldn’t let it go. It is precious to me. I’ve sunk long hours into writing posts and publishing patterns for the blog.

My first knitting project published on the blog was an afghan that I named “Ode to Quilting”. It took me days to sew all those little pieces together. Many long days.

When I was done cursing and sewing, I sent the afghan to Jennifer Marsh. Her art project at the time was to decorate an old gas station in NYC. She is now trying to decorate a NASA rocket through her new project, the Dream Rocket.

Years have passed and my blog has grown. I have talked about everything on it: gardening, card making, cooking, vacations, holidays, babies being born, a daughter being adopted, and my latest endeavor of homeschooling. Attached to the blog is a pattern store with several of the knitting patterns I have designed.

No, I couldn’t let it go. However, I also wasn’t going to pay $4,000 to buy my domain back. Um, no. It’s not that precious to me.

Instead, I chose a new domain. A domain named after me: mariehaigh.com

I have my own name! I couldn’t believe it was available. And it suits me to a ‘T’.

Report on Homeschooling

I have been homeschooling Elly and Brooke for 4 months now.

Homeschooling 2 Kindergarten-level kids while running after a toddler who is determined to win King of the Mountain game every 5 minutes is crazy. It’s not as crazy as taking 2 girls roller skating who have never roller skated in their lives while carrying a baby on my hip because yeah, I did that and it was nail biting crazy as I tried to keep my balance while everyone fell around me, but homeschooling does require a fair amount of ambition on most days.

Some days, I cheat.

at the Philadelphia zoo

OK, I cheat most days if your vision of homeschooling looks like public school taught at home.

My strategy has evolved. I started out teaching from textbooks like my college professors did. I now use my library card and Pinterest like a double edged sword. When all else fails, I search YouTube to teach the same thing but in a different way.

I schedule a field trip to a museum or a park about once a week.

at the DaVinci Science Center

We visit the Pottstown Library weekly for storytime. Friday is the highlight of our week; we visit a friend’s house and our 6 kids have Science class together. So that means, I only have to teach class all by myself 2 days out of a week.

The main reason it is working so well is because time is on my side. I noticed after introducing the planets that my kids couldn’t tell them apart, so I dedicated 2 months to learning the planets. My eldest asked Santa for a telescope and she asked Grammy for fossils. (Both Grammy and Santa made sure that Elly’s wish came true). If instilling the love of learning isn’t success, I don’t know what is.

I won’t lie and say it’s all rainbows and chocolate. I have doubted my ability and my patience on a lot of days. Kids drive you nuts. It’s their job. Plus, Elly struggles with perfectionism and Brooke struggles with laziness. Often I slip into drill sergeant mode and bark orders out because it works brilliantly.

at the Reading Museum

Despite my love for teaching and my daughters success in learning, I am unsure if I will continue Homeschooling next year. I love it so much, but am I being selfish and doing it just for me? Is this the right decision for us? For Elly? For Brooke? For Malcolm?

One thing is for certain, socialism is a non-issue. We meet wonderful people and families everywhere we go. And we talk to them. Even Malcolm tries to talk too with the three words he knows: dada which can mean anything from dog or furry animal to daddy, uh-oh and all done. What else do you need to say?

Week 2 of Homeschooling

Week 2 had its ups and downs. I’m still not adept enough to hit anything out of the ballpark.

On what was supposed to be the 2nd day of homeschooling in Week 2, I completely dropped the ball. Instead of doing school, I drug my kids to a year-end report meeting, a homeschooling meeting and a pool date where they swung on swings, ran through a sprinkler and swam in the shallow end.

They had a marvelous time; I checked off my tasks, but no school happened. For a brief second, I entertained the idea of squeezing it between dinner and bedtime, but I was exhausted and knew I wouldn’t have the patience.

Despite redoubling my efforts in a mere 2 days, I was done with doing school at home. Cabin fever had set in. I detest being stuck indoors, so we took our school band on the road. Jake got a walk, the kids got exercise, I found peace and school was fun again.

Later that day, we went on a field trip to Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, one of our favorite parks to visit. We visited the turtles, bald eagle, owls, donkey and the crowd-pleasers, Hunter and Scout, the wolf brothers. Afterwards, we all played at the river’s edge.

As an extra bonus, we talked to the men cutting down 2 trees. Elly and Brooke were fascinated by the process and the boss man was happy to answer our many questions.

Thankfully, the next day was Friday and a good friend thought it would be fun to conduct science experiments with her 3 boys and my girls. Her enthusiasm helped me end the week on a high note. Everybody, teachers included, enjoyed experimenting with gravity and bubbles. I’m not sure which the kids loved more: blowing bubbles or dropping paper airplanes over a balcony.

The First 3 Days of Homeschooling

It wasn’t all rainbows and puppies, but it wasn’t tear inducing either. It feels like we are slipping into a routine. Mal is learning to hover around the girls and play with all the books they read and the tools they use.

Yes, that is a paintbrush in his mouth.

For the entire recap, Day 1 was met with excitement from Elly and Brooke. They were thrilled to see the stack of books and magnet letters I laid out the night before.

Thanks to our local Pottstown Regional Public Library, the books were all new to us. After an hour of homeschooling, we jumped in the car and traveled to Weavers Orchard for their storytime and fruit picking.

We listened to them read Blueberry Shoes.

Then armed with pint containers, we were directed to rows and rows of blueberry bushes.

We all had fun picking blueberries, even Malcolm who ate a mix of blueberries, mulch, hay and dirt.

The funny thing is that we read books everyday and we pick fruit at Weaver’s Orchard on a fairy regular basis, so it felt weird to call it homeschooling. May all school days be so easy.

Day 2 was met with some griping and whining, even though I started school off with a Froot Loop sort and count activity. I even let them eat the Fruit Loops and they still complained! I truly believe Elly thought that if she complained enough, then I would forget this whole homeschooling business and she could go back to riding her bike from sunrise to sunset. Thankfully, Elly hates being sent to her room more than she hates school, so she gritted her teeth and trudged through. Brooke tried a more passive approach of just not paying attention, so I took that into account when planning for future days.

Do you believe Elly griped the loudest over making an octopus craft? It involved pipe cleaners, pom poms, googly eyes and glue, all fun stuff.

Day 3 went smoother than the previous day. I pulled out a sand art craft and dangled it over their heads for half of the school time.

Though they were excited about practicing their handwriting in the sand and then making their sand craft, they were content to continue school even after the craft was over. We ended the day with a water color painting.

All in all, I am cautiously optimistic about Week 2.

The Month Long Homeschooling Challenge

Starting July 1, 2015, I will attempt to homeschool my two daughters.

My goal is to homeschool them for the entire month of July. I will record our daily achievements and failures here. I’m sure there will be plenty of both.

I have yet to decide if I will operate on a 4-day schedule or a 5-day schedule. I should make up my mind now because if I wait till Friday morning to make up my mind, I know now what I will choose. There is no amount of coffee that will make me jump out of bed and skip over to the school desks. Plus, I don’t drink coffee. I prefer tea and tea doesn’t have nearly enough wallop in it to motivate me.

But, why am I challenging myself to homeschool my children, especially when Elly had an ideal first year of preK? Everybody should have a school experience like she did.

Elly was in a classroom with 11 other kids this past year and the best preschool teacher in town. Her principle was also amazing. I couldn’t have found a better learning environment if I scoured the surrounding area.

Perhaps the best answer is that I want to. It would be fun and rewarding. (Somebody remind me of this statement on day 10).

Another reason is that as wonderful as Elly’s teacher was and as many good friends that Elly made, it was a struggle to get Elly to school everyday. Elly was excited about school if there was a field trip or a special party. If it was an ordinary day and too many days were ordinary days, Elly complained, threw her shoes informing that she was not going to school, and rattled off all the reasons she hated school: it was boring, she didn’t like anybody, she had to sit still forever and she missed her family (all far-fetched tales except the last). There was a stretch there where Elly cried everyday before and after school. It was heartbreaking and then it started to wear on the family. Brooke picked up on Elly’s dislike of school and now she mentions that she doesn’t want to go either. It did get better the last 2 months. Elly cried less, but she seemed to regress in other areas.

Will next year be better? Well, she will be 2 months older and God willing 2 months wiser, so I would hope so. Yet, it’s not looking good. Four days after school ended, Elly has started her campaign called “I’m Never Going to Kindergarten”. Actually, if I’m honest, the campaign started after her class took a tour of the Kindergarten class about a month ago. The tears have already started to flow. When the tear tactic doesn’t work, Elly resorts to negotiating. She has wonderful suggestions. Some of them include never growing up and never learning anything. Then, she thinks that she wants to be a scientist or a farmer, but she would just do all of her learning at home.

Maybe Elly will want to go to school when she sees Brooke going to school too. It’s possible, but it’s also possible that Elly will dig her heals in and pitch a fight no matter. She is remarkably stubborn. It’s a fact I am proud of and extremely frustrated with.

Am I rewarding my daughter’s bad behavior?
I’m not sure stubbornness is bad behavior, but if it were, I would say no, I am just not putting all my eggs in one basket. Homeschooling is legal and a better alternative to playing hooky.

What if my July Homeschooling Challenge is a resounding success?
I don’t know where it leaves me. I don’t know if I should homeschool my daughters for a year or for any amount of time.
My only hope is that I learn something this month that will help me make an informed decision. If nothing else, I will learn if I can stick to a teaching plan for 30 days. You will be my witness. I apologize in advance for the whining and crying you may hear.

A Quilt for Malcolm

This is the quilt I had hoped to finish before Malcolm was born in September 2014. Then, I was certain it would be finished in time to be wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. 2 months later, I finally quilted the last stitch.

Thankfully, Malcom neither understands nor cares that the quilt was 5 months late. He is mighty impressed about his toes though.

This quilt was made not just by me. Two other talented women helped.

The quilt was started by my neighbor’s mother, Janet Hunter. It was the last quilt she has cross-stitched. She passed away before she could finish it. My neighbor was unable to throw it out. Knowing how much I loved to sew, she gave it to me.

It took me some time before I decided how I wanted to complete it. After a few minutes of trying to cross-stitch, I knew I wouldn’t be doing that! Yet, I wanted to keep the original design of a moon. One day when I was digging through unfinished projects, I spotted the quilt next to a torn shirt of Dan’s. It looked like the perfect moon.

After appliqueing the moon and hat, I added another layer of batting and a back fabric.

Then, my favorite part began: hand quilting. It took me several months to quilt all the layers together.

I couldn’t be happier with the final result.

To always remember how and why I made the quilt, I had Judi of JDK Wallets make a quilt label by hand. She outdid herself by adding the cute touches of the moon, boy and stars.

Though I already picked out the fabric for my next quilt, I am going to take a small knitting design break. After I submit my latest design to a magazine, I will pull the ironing board off the wall and set to work.

Celebrating 15 Years

Fifteen years ago, Dan and I got married.

The first year was hard. I was very tempted to kill him over a load of laundry. Thankfully, I didn’t.

For years later we are still happily married and have a wonderful family to boot.

Photo by Nihart photography http://www.nihartphotography.com/

My best friend, who introduced us, can continue to pat herself on the back.

We will be celebrating the day by taking care of sick children.

And eating heart cake.

And drinking Celebration.