Monday, April 4, 2016

Works-in-Progress by Karen Andreola

From Pocketful of Pinecones

Yolanda's Nature Notebook. The Downy Woodpecker fits the following excerpt from "Pinecones"

During morning lessons the children listened to me read aloud about the woodpecker. I'd like them to learn to recognize the drumming of its beak and have a chance to observe its unique hopping slide up a tree trunk. But I know that not all of what they will learn about God's creation will conveniently fit into my lessons. My students have a life time ahead of them in which to observe and discover - to become self-educated in their leisure, so-to-speak. My job is to allow their feet to walk the paths of wonder, to see that they form relations to various things, so that when the habit is formed, they will carry and appreciation for nature with them throughout their lives. pg 75

View from the kitchen window in springtime's soft morning sun. Yes, that is recent snow - not unusual for us in the woods. 
How nice it feels to rest within a schedule of lessons that is working well. But it isn't surprising that home teachers tweak. Changes are inevitable in the ebb and flow of the seasons of learning. See how fast the children grow?

As new patterns of daily activity emerge, each year a mother's job description is revised. That's okay. Each year Mom is older and wiser than she was. God is growing her mind and heart when she works - even through some difficulty - to bring order in her day.

Grandson Joseph requested a new vest of many colors. He outgrew the first one.
Keeping a string of lessons going each morning was always my goal. The children fell into a pattern. They moved from one subject to the next - off at their own desks after a group lesson around the kitchen table with me.
Front and back of garter-stitch vest awaits ribbing around arms and neck.
One child had my personal attention while the others worked independently.

I'd keep this going child-by-child on a rotating basis, listening to a young child read aloud, listening to an oral narration, reading through an older child's written narration, etc.

I recommend the three-needle-bind-off for shoulder seaming. It's so smooth. 

At times Nature Study, Music Appreciation, and Picture Study were haphazard - especially right before or right after, a household move.

As much as we followed a pattern for learning I remember a time of feeling perturbed. I stood in the hallway not knowing whether to turn right or left.

Using a rotary cutter with safety glove to make my granddaughter's quilt.
With hands-on-hips, I said to myself, "Why is it that no two weeks are exactly the same? Is this a mar on my efficiency?" In my government school experience, my classroom days were a blur of all-sameness. How monotonous. But sameness was what I was used to.

One thing was for certain. Our days of home learning were not monotonous.

"True Grips" attached to the quilt ruler help keep it securely in place while cutting.

Some of you are not on Facebook so I'll share this here.

In the home, no matter how consistently you work to instill good habits of quiet discipline. And aim for smooth and even days. No matter how well you prioritize and plan. Just when your schedule of lessons is working well. Life ushers its interruptions. They are part of life. And this is one way home teaching is much more like real life than an insulated-automated classroom.

The water heater dies. The basement is flooded. The washing machine is on the blink. A thunderstorm knocks out the electricity. The children have fevers and bad colds. Your best friend just had a Cesarean and you are watching her energetic two-year-old. It could be that Mom has another miscarriage. Dad losses his job. The family is uprooted as they relocate out-of-state in the middle of the school year. They miss old friends and must start over again to make new ones.

Piecing colorful "Hour Glass" blocks for Eloise's toddler quilt. The blocks await "squaring up." 
Children learn valuable life lessons (not in spite of) but (through) the interruptions of Providence. Mom and Dad learn, too. We’ve experienced all these bumps, detours, and more.

When the bumps in the road tumble you off your feet and you feel heavy, over-worked, anxious or discouraged -- remember this. The quickest (and best) way to get back on your feet is to get on your knees.

Never, never, give up my friend. God’s stream of living water is ever flowing. It can never run dry. You may be exhausted. But His wellspring is infinite, eternal and therefore, inexhaustible. It is there for thirsty hearts.   - John 4:10

Sketch out a pattern that welcomes learning, a pattern where each child has his needs met - even if this means trimming or combining when other re-arranging has proved unworkable. The most beautiful things in life are of design. Your family's patchwork pattern can be all its own. This is the art of home teaching.

My latest used find - a creamer to fit the mini daffodils from the garden.

And remember, too - even as we are nearing the end of a school-year - we are all Works-in-Progress.

Learning is for life.

I agree with Carol of Pocketful of Pinecones - don't you? 

Pinecones  is a teacher's guide to nature study disguised as a story to sooth and refresh for your Mother Culture. I linked it to Amazon.

End Notes
I hope to show you the finished vest-of-many-colors upcoming, as well as the toddler quilt. They are birthday presents in the making. Do you like the colors I picked out for the quilt? For your interest and convenience (and because I am asked) I am linking the Fons and Porter Safety Glove here.

If you are feeling a spark of enthusiasm to start quilting, I am also linking the Fiskar's Rotary Cutter with the handle shape I like, the True Grips that I stick onto my Omnigrid 6/12 Ruler and the Olfa 18/24 Cutting Board.

Comments are Invited.
Karen Andreola


  1. I was thinking how much I like the colors in your toddler patchwork, and how you've selected fabrics that aren't cartoon-themed. Lovely and timeless.


  2. Carol/Karen's gentle encouragement is always a blessing. :-)
    When I was first homeschooling in 2002 (with children 5, 3 and 1) an older mom said to me, "Don't forget, this job is like any other--- the longer you do it, the better you'll get at it." That was a new thought. What a help that was, just like this blog post. Yes, we are works-in-progress. Always growing.
    We have a touch of snowdust here in MI too. As my son said, "Enough already." :-)

  3. Love your new projects and am intrigued by the 3 needle bind off which I have to admit I've never used! Will have to look it up. :) Love your Pocketful of Pinecones, too, and will have to pull it off my shelf to add to my summertime reading pile which is really my want-to-read reading pile. Always inspired by your Carol and by you. xo

  4. Karen, I say AMEN, heartily, to your words here! How I wish that more homeschoolers had this view! I guess we'll just have to keep encouraging them!

    I am going to make baby quilts for my two grandbabies that are on the way! I was looking with interest at your materials - the rotary cutter, the grips, etc. I'd love to come and learn to knit with more skill than I have!

    Your grandchildren are beautiful, and you are a blessing to them!

  5. This is so lovely and peacefully written. It is full of gentle wisdom and beautiful pictures. Thank you!

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am in the midst of a Season Of Stress and Chaos. Your beautiful post this morning was a balm to my soul! Thank you for the reminder today! ❤️

  7. I needed this reminder today. My oldest had a severe arm break last week after falling out of a tree so our routine has been interrupted. We're trying to start back slowly with her arm in a brace and pain meds active. We're all tired from the strain and thankful for the ebb and flow of homeschool. I love your thoughts. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  8. I like how tasks and times recur with each season and with each child as they grow. It's always interesting because there is a bit of a different twist each time. This one prefers many shades of blue. This one wants a candy store of stripes. The Lenten roses are blooming, but, this year, they've decided to colonize in front of the nandina as well. It's time for springier soups, and this year the carrots are particularly sweet. That means I'll be using more carrots. Someone is reading a book for the first time. They are entertained by, trouble by, delighted by different things than the previous readers around our table, so a lively discussion/defence ensues!


  9. Thank you Ladies. It is interesting to find you making applications personal, seeing the ideas within the setting of your circumstances. So good to hear from you. Karen A.

  10. Dear Karen, I really appreciate your post! It was something that I really needed to hear. I received your lovely card, it touched me greatly! I will write back soon, I am a mess, with the move and having the flu and I fell down the stairs in our new home yesterday morning. :(

    Your vest and quilt are lovely! I really love the creamer, and the miniature Daffodils.

    1. Oh, dear Heather. I hope you can walk after that fall. Yes, please keep in touch. I know household moves are exhausting and require emotional adjustment, too. So glad your dh got the job. Wishing you well, my knitting and cross-stitch friend. Karen

  11. What a very pretty creamer you found! I guess you will use it in many seasons to come, not only for spring flowers.
    If the view from my kitchen window were wider, I would also see bushels of tiny daffodils - but they are too close to the house. But coming home they greet me with their bright colour. This time of the year is wonderful, isn't it?

  12. This post was just the encouragement I had been praying for. My seasons seem to be changing at a faster pace than my heart wants to keep up with. What a blessing your words have been to me this morning. Thank you, and God Bless You.

  13. Your newest projects are beautiful! The vest is so sweet, I love the colorful yarn. The fabrics you chose for the quilt are so pretty and coordinate perfectly! I look forward to seeing your finished work. Your daughter's illustration of the woodpecker is excellent! I love watching the bird out my kitchen window. And my little girl has begun to enjoy their activity too. We have seen four varieties of woodpecker this winter, including the Pileated Woodpecker.

    May you have a blessed day!

  14. Karen, this is a beautifully written post and one which I needed at this time of the school year. You have spoken to my heart. Pocketful of Pinecones is one of my favorite books. When times get trying, Carol is an inspiration and a gentle reminder that all things work together in the end.

    I love Yolanda's woodpecker entry. Just a few days ago I was trying to distinguish between a downy and a hairy woodpecker. I hope it returns so I can try to see if I was correct. I was wondering if you keep a nature notebook yourself?

    Your grandson's vest is beautiful. I love the vibrant colors. I anxiously await your finished quilt for Eloise. Your fabric choices are lovely. There is just something so special about a quilt. I have one that awaits pinning, quilting, and hand-binding. I never seem to have the time to get it finished. I have another very large quilt that I have been working on for almost thirteen years. The entire quilt is hand pieced and now I am hand quilting.

    Your little creamer is beautiful. I have been trying to find little things to make our home more lovely. The other day I took my empty essential oil bottles and tied them with a ribbon and put little flowers in them from my garden. Just a special little touch. I took one to a friend; I think she was thrilled.

    I pray this spring finds you feeling well. Praying God's blessings upon you and your family.

    From Texas, where my pot of lavender is in full bloom and the irises are gorgeous,

  15. Thank you for your thoughts expressed so beautifully with words and photographs. I wanted to thank you for including the last section for those of us who aren't on Facebook. That means a lot.

  16. Dear Karen,

    Such lovely works you create with your hands! Thank you for the encouraging words, as well. It's nice to be reminded that others have similar struggles, as well.

    May the Lord continue to bless and keep you,


  17. This was such an encouraging post for me Karen! We have moved many times in our married life the most recent being a year ago. Although our girls have thrived for some reason this move had me 'standing in the hall way not knowing whether to turn right or left' for a long time. Naturally this has had me feeling like I have not been on top of our homeschooling lessons. But as I look back over the year after having read this post I realize that actually - it's been okay. I'm hoping that the summer will be just the thing I need to refocus for next year.

    X Shirley-Ann