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?

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.

Fun at the Playground

Since school started back up, the local playgrounds have been quiet. Elly misses running around with other little children her age or older.

Still she finds ways to have fun.

Slides are great no matter which direction you are going on them.

Swings are even better when you are upside down.

Spinning anywhere is fun.

Love for Google+

Goodbye to Facebook. Hello Google+.

The main reason – Nay, the only reason – I am jumping ship is my love of sharing pictures. It’s true that Google+ has other perks, such as integrating with my gmail account. They’re nice features, but what sold me is the ability to link to all my photo albums to my account. It’s something Facebook does not offer. Not only does Facebook’s process for uploading pictures suck, Facebook won’t talk to Picasa, which is where I prefer to upload all my pictures to.

The first thing Google+ asked me when I joined was if I wanted to link my many Picasa albums to it. Heck yeah. Right now the only people who see all the pictures I take of Elly are my husband and my MIL. Occassionally I post a link in Facebook to one of the pictures. Several pictures of Elly are included in my blog posts, but Elly’s album has over 100 pictures.

Elizabeth, Age 1

It is impossible to post them all. Still I would love family and friends to have easy access to them. Finally, I can have my cake and eat it too.

If you are on Google+, please add me to your circle.

Memorial Day 2008

In memory of my grandfather who fought in WWII, in memory of Dan’s grandfather who fought in the Korean war, and in memory of the millions who fought for the freedom we hold so dear

Happy Memorial Day!

To my readers in the States, I hope you enjoyed the long weekend. I certainly did! I’ll be back tomorrow with knitting news and a tag.

Jake, The Protector

Bear and Fish

Originally uploaded by RecycledAiir

On our daily walk, Jake and I cut through the park next to the Borough Hall. Within the park is a lovely statue of a black bear holding a trout.

Once Jake caught site of the bear, he began to growl and hunch down (attack mode). At first I wasn’t sure what Jake was growling for; I was busy searching around for what was bothering him. Not finding any danger, I commanded Jake to cease with his growling and continued on through the park, advancing towards the statue. Jake stopped in his tracks and started growling again. Looking back at him, I realized he was growling at the bear statue.

Of course, I giggled at him. Determined not to have a dog scared of inanimate objects, I advanced to the bear without Jake. I knocked on the statue, proving to Jake that the bear was hollow and not real. Jake advanced cautiously, but soon agreed with me; it didn’t smell like a bear.

Though I tried to get a picture of Jake with the bear, Jake proved unwilling. It still looked like a bear. One can never be too sure. Apparently, when meeting a bear, you are supposed to growl at it, letting him know you are voracious hunter. Then, you walk briskly away.

I’ve never felt so safe in my life.

PS. This picture was taken by a fellow Flickr user.

A Long Walk to the Frog Pond

I feel the time has finally come for me to frog the sweater jacket I made 6 years ago. It never looked right on me. It was never long enough. Rather, it was too long in the front and not long enough in the back. Two of me could have fit in it. The cables were way too big for my frame. I’m only 5 feet tall (let me convert that for the rest of the world – 152 cm). Each cable repeat measured 3 inches (7.6 cm), 5% of my height.

Do you see the size of those sleeves? They measure 18 inches (45.7 cm) wide!

It has taken me 6 years to frog a sweater jacket that did nothing but sit in storage all those years because it is more than just a jacket. It was my crowning achievement to the early knitting years. I was proud as a peacock that I knit something so large and so beautiful. I can also tell you exactly where I was when I was knitting it: in Tennessee attending Dan’s grandparent’s 50th anniversary. I was sitting in a glider chair in Dan’s Uncle Scott’s house on picture day, the day we all lined up outside to take pictures of the whole family together. I was younger. Dan and I had only been married for approx 2 years. I was still uneasy around his family – his father’s side of the family to be specific. I can’t ever remember being uneasy around his mother’s side.

There is a big difference between Dan’s mother’s side and Dan’s father’s side. His mother’s side welcomed me into the family with open arms. I felt loved, totally comfortable, and an integral part of the family within a month. Only now do I feel like I am a part of Dan’s father’s side of the family. I truly enjoy spending time with his father and fam where before I dreaded going down to TN or over to his father’s house. Partly because time has worked its magic, but mostly it is due to the fact that I no longer the anxious, wanting-their-approval, naive girl. OK, I’m still a bit naive, but I’m ten times more confident and have no need for anybody’s approval.

My marriage with Dan has blossomed over the years. My sister now loves to tell me that we’re old married people. Part of her teasing comes from the fact that her marriage isn’t as strong or as happy. It pains me. Long have I wished for her to have the happiness I have known.

So, this sweater is a testament to our marriage. It is a gauge of how much I have grown into a woman. It is still a crowning achievement of my FOs.

My mind is made up though. I am frogging it. I plan to make it into the sweater jacket I have always wanted it to be.