Saturday, August 29, 2009


The view from my front yard at midnight.

The dark shapes are pine trees. The moving light is the security light at my uphill neighbor's home. The bright light is Discovery space shuttle, heading up to meet the International Space Station. It is moving from right to left, and in a moment or two will burn off a stage, and take off - just a white light streaking into orbit. We can follow it for about 10 minutes with naked eye.

After almost two decades in Florida, I still thrill to see launches from the Cape.

My friend Zoran, a patriotic man who loves the United States as only one born somewhere else can, added the message below to his Facebook page. I share it here with his permission.

Lest We Forget....

So easy these days to be disappointed with the state and direction of our nation...

We seem to not be able to find our bearings... We feel like the greatness of the USA is a thing of the past, while so much of what makes this country great is being taken apart...

Still, glimmers appear here and there, reminding us that while there is a lot to be cleaned up; still, this is the USA that the founders held as worth sacrificing for...

I go out or my way when I see those glimmers, to catch them, understand them, and share them to the best of my ability. They are an encouragement and a reminder that a light shines brightest in the darkest of times.

It may not interest most of you, maybe not even one... Still, I saw glimmer, so here it is...

On January 19th 2006, a launch took place at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It carried on board a complex 1000 pound spacecraft destined for the far reaches of our solar system. The name of the spacecraft, and the mission, is New Horizons.

At this same Space Center, in 1969, the Apollo astronauts departed on their journey ultimately reaching the Moon's surface... It took them four days to cover the distance between the Earth and the Moon...

The New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft launched by NASA... With top speeds of 50,000 miles per hour, it reached the Moon in only nine hours.

In 1989 NASA launched its Galileo mission which reached Jupiter in 6 years as its final mission destination.

The New Horizons craft reached Jupiter in just 13 months, used Jupiter's gravity as a slingshot, for a speed boost, and continued on its way to Pluto.

The New Horizons uses no engines to propel itself on its journey to Pluto. It uses the boost from the launch vehicle, combined with a slingshot effect given by Jupiter. A few small engines are used to make minor course adjustments which are only occasionally fired.

The craft only communicates with NASA's control center twice a year, to report any malfunctions, send images and data taken on its journey and receive new commands.

For the remainder rest of the time it uses cameras to navigate itself using position of the Sun and stars as navigational points.

When it reaches Pluto, in 2015, it would have traveled 3,000,000,000 (Billion) miles on less energy that two 100W incandescent light bulbs use in the same time period.

Once near Pluto, in order to accomplish its mission, it will have to stay within a 190 mile wide path, so that it will have optimal position for its measurements and photography.

All of the images and information New Horizons gathers 3 Billion miles away from us will be available to the NASA scientists within 4 hours of it being recorded near Pluto. The best pictures of Pluto will depict surface features about 328 feet across, or the size of a football field.

If you are not in the least bit amazed, this note again... the entirety of the mission was accomplished for $2.30 per US citizen.

Why is the New Horizon a glimmer?

We are constantly told of how many things are just not working in the US: the deficit, health care, illegal immigration, the tax system, education, defense, the list goes on...

We are being told other countries have figured those problems out and we just have to be like them and everything will be fine...

I say no! I say a country whose 300 Million citizens prosper to an average income of $40,000, is the ONLY country whose citizens will reach the Moon in nine hours for $2.30 per person. Try that on an annual income of $500.

The New Horizon is one of those glimmers that seem so rare nowadays. A reminder of how much we are still destined to achieve...

A reminder that the US is the one to achieve it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I had such fun teaching our American Girls club a few crochetting skills last week. (See 2 posts down from here.) We just worked at learning to chain stitch last week. Most of the girls wanted to take their chain stitch samples home. I was delighted at how hard they all worked to learn this new skill. The hardest part to learn? Tying a slip knot at the beginning!

We used Lily Sugar and Cream cotton yarn, and I love it. It's on sale at JoAnn's this week.

Earthgirl gave her sample to her friend who missed out with a broken finger. She's wearing it as a choker. (If you click on the picture, you can see through the glass one of the brothers waiting patiently out in the hall.) Other girls wore them as belts or bracelets. One Mom told me that her daughter went home and chain-stitched an ankle bracelet using a fork!

During home practice with Earthgirl, I made a really long chain, tied the ends, quadrupled it up, and now use it as a headband. It's been a hot summer, and my hair is too short to clip up off my neck, so I have lived in headbands.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tied Up in Knots

Here's what I am teaching in American Girls Club.

We are covering the Rebecca series, set in 1914. Rebecca crocheted. She crocheted better than her older sisters. Better than I do. But today, I taught the girls (age 7-15) chain stitching - a little. We plan to make little doll-size scarves.

Any helpful hints on teaching children to crochet?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Direction for my week

"Prayer should be our steering wheel,
not our spare tire."

- Quote from my pastor yesterday. Yesterday's message was deep, and full of good stuff - a real call to examine oneself, to pray, to dialog with God. But I just loved this little quote he threw into the middle. I hope as I grasp my steering wheel I'll remember Who leads and who follows.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Here's a giveaway

Randi is giving away some of her stash! Aren't these pretty? I can imagine bunches of uses for them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Catch a Falling Star!

The night of August 11 an 12 we are in for some nighttime showers - meteor showers, that is. It's time for the Perseid Meteor Shower. I hope to get Earthgirl up early for a chance to see the bright streaks, which show up best early in the morning.

A few resources:

Classical Astronomy (I have their book, Classical Astronomy, and one of these years it will be our main science course. Right now, it's just a wonderful reference. I also receive their free e-newsletter - I recommend it!)

Sky and Telescope

Astronomy magazine

Lunar eclipse, 2007. Sometimes we get up early for a good show.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Art/Craft Resources

Have you seen the bumper stickers or T-shirts that read, "Homeschoolers Don't Stay At Home"? So true! I've heard that there are some Homeschooling parents who keep their children at home for the purpose of isolating their families from EVERYBODY, but I don't know anyone like that. The HS famlies I know are vibrantly involved with each other and the community. We meet, learn, and have fun with each other in classes, Co-ops, and clubs; we interact in the community in helping projects; we often see our non-HS friends in after-school events, classes and clubs..."Socialization?" -- we almost have too much socialization!

This school year, Earthgirl and I plan to meet regularly with a few HS friends for some schooldays together. I am loving gathering up project ideas to use during the art/craft/cooking segments. I pledge these children will NEVER receive from me any cut-outs of craft foam to glue together!

Here are just a few of the websites from whence I take inspiration. Each site has links to other sites equally idea-laden. They whet my appetite and make my fingers itch to get busy:

Not just kiddie crafts:

Art Projects for Kids

Deep Space Sparkle

Wonder How To

Dollar Store Crafts

Sewing School

Oodles of Art

Skip to My Lou

A Spoonful of Sugar

Do you know of some cool website not listed here that would inspire more real art and good crafts for our students (7-12 years)?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Busy Before 4

It's that time of year when I scan the emails and the newspaper ads to find out what cool deals Staples and Office Depot are offering this week. (Monday I picked up 5 packs of looseleaf notebook paper for a nickel.)

It's that time of year when Earthgirl scans the ads and shows me the cool back-to-school clothes she wants. --not that she doesn't have about 32 T-shirts that are just fine, along with associated shorts, skirts, skorts, and capris, and it won't be cool enough to need long pants until Thanksgiving.

It's that time of year when, after a day of childcare, exercise class, soccer tryouts, and a longish Homeschool group meeting (not that I am complaining), I sit on the church gym floor with my friends, admiring a beautiful dozing foster baby ( I got to hold him earlier- so sweet! - Lord please bless and keep Him with your love) drinking caffeinated beverages at 10 p.m., talking about plans for the school year. (Oh, and we have some great plans!)

So it's that time of year when I fall asleep at 11:30, but pop awake at 3:30 with ideas swirling in my head. Grab the two Mark Kistler books in the dark, come into the light to discover I've grabbed The Indispensible Calvin and Hobbes instead.

I love these books! They help a non-drawer learn to draw.

It's that time of year when all 3 of my spiral notebooks are in the car. No problem - just got new ones at Staples, open one up and start jotting.

Because I'll be in charge of Art.
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