Creating

Art. Life.

©Nissa Gadbois

An impromptu art lesson for my Bulgarians.  They were never taught how to make art.  It is clear that they desire to make art.  We ALL desire to make art because we are made in the image and likeness of God.  The essence of our very being is that of creator.  Making art is a useful means of communication when spoken language fails.  It is therapeutic.

They are learning not only how to use art materials, but also how to observe. As teenagers, they had not really learned to pay attention to how the human form, nor plants, nor anything else was made.  Arms too small, bent weirdly, coming from the midsection of the body instead of from the shoulder.  Trees that look like lollipops instead of like trees. In some small way I am helping them to communicate when spoken language fails.

They are showing improvement in their artworks.  They practice daily.  It is as though a light has been turned on in an inner room in their minds.  “Aha!”  And there is a rush to use their newly learned skills.  It is beginning to pour out like a stream in spate. 

We are finding that letting them unfold naturally was a wise decision.  Forcing them too quickly would not have produced any fruit.  Rushing to have them diagnosed with this or that disability before they had a chance to become themselves would have been tragic.  We have had such a bumpy transition, and we still have days that are excruciatingly difficult.  We tend to avoid suffering at all costs. 

But in avoiding the suffering, we often miss the holiness and wholeness of life.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Lately I’ve noticed several homeschool moms sharing this amazing new thing – planning lessons using notebooks rather than charts or computer programs.  I seriously didn’t know you all didn’t know about this.  Way back when I was in school, my mom did the same thing.  She got me steno pads to keep my assignments in.  My Assignment Books.  I guess I figured everyone’s mom did this.

Each day, I was to write down in the assignment book what I was given for homework and projects.  Make a list.  Tick it off as I finished.  So simple that it’s genius!  The idea for homeschoolers is that mom writes in the book what she wants each child to accomplish for the day.  The child can check off or line through what he or she has completed as they finish each task.

Writing plans out by hand for several children can give you a hand cramp.  BUT, if you’re assigning so much that your hand is cramping, you’re either expecting too much, or you have a really large family and need to enlist Papa to help write up the lists. 🙂  I feel like teenagers should be collaborating on their assignments and helping to fill in their own books, but that’s my style.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

A plain old notebook may revolutionize your homeschool.  It’s simple, it’s elegant.  OK.  It’s not elegant.  Those notebooks are UGLY.  And if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I adore Pretty.  So I thought I would show all of the new Assignment Book enthusiasts how to make pretty ones.  It’s really easy.  The first one might take you 10 or 15 minutes, but after that, you’ll get them done in under five minutes. You remember how fast you could cover a book with a shopping bag, right?  Like that.

Here’s what you need:

  • Spiral bound notebooks (I like the steno pads for their size, columns, and for nostalgia. You use whatever you like)
  • Decorative cardstock (or recycle cereal or cracker boxes)
  • Scissors or Xacto knife (cutting mat for the latter)
  • Needle-nose pliers (jewelry ones are ideal, but regular ones will do)
  • Binder clips and trombone paper clips
  • Micro-punch or awl

And here’s how you do it:  (It seriously took me longer to type it out than it will take you to make a pile of them).

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Place two binder clips on either edge of your notebook.  This holds all of the papers in place and keeps the holes aligned.  You don’t need to bind the top cover in with the inner sheets.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Next, using your pliers, carefully unhook each end of the coil and straighten the right-hand hook out so that it will slide through the holes without catching.  Then simply unscrew the wire.  The first turn will be a little tricky as you will need to keep the other ‘hook’ free of the book.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Now, using the original cover as a template, cut out a piece of cardstock.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Paper clip your original and new covers together so they don’t slip. Transfer marking for the holes from the original cover onto the cardstock, using a soft pencil.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Carefully punch holes through the card stock.  I couldn’t find my micropunch.  It must still be packed away.  So I used my bookbinding awl.  It worked a treat.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Place the new cover on the stack of papers and back cover.  Use binder clips to hold everything in place.  adjust everything so the the holes line up nicely.  You may want to use your awl to neaten up or enlarge the holes now.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Screw the wire back in.  Watch the way the wire wants to go.  Most of mine needed to start in the back at the far right of the book.  One or two needed to either start in the front, or begin on the left-hand side.  Be careful to gently guide the leading end into each hole.  It should go fairly quickly and easily.

Be sure to bend a new ‘hook’ in the leading edge and to hook each end of the wire around the adjacent loop.  This prevents snagging.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can hand-letter little name tags to glue on each child’s Assignment Book.  Carrie was happy to get some more calligraphy practice.

{Made for Learning} | Assignment Books

Her tags made the books so special.

Now, if you want to make your own notebooks from scratch (because you’re a compulsive crafty mama like me), I’ve got this pretty template for you.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Print 20 copies on nice paper (per Assignment Book)
  2. Cut them in half
  3. Make a front and back cover.  The back one can be made from a piece of bristol board or the back of a used drawing pad (save those!).
  4. Mark the holes (about 1/4″ from the top edge, evenly spaced), do the cover first and then use that as the template for the rest of the pages.
  5. Punch holes using a micro punch or awl.  You can probably punch four pages at a time without too much trouble.  But hold them securely with clips so they don’t slide around.
  6. Stack your covers and pages together with the holes lined up neatly.  Secure with binder clips.
  7. Wrap a piece of 20 gauge wire (or 18 or 16) around a fat magic marker or size 15 knitting needle the same number of times as holes you have, plus one
  8. Screw the wire into the holes.
  9. Bend the wire ends in or make a hook to catch the next loop in.

Voila!  Totally custom Assignment Books.

BONUS: now you have a compact, easy to access basis for transcripts.  And you didn’t have to use a fussy chart (unless you like fussy charts, which I sometimes do).

If you found this tutorial helpful, or interesting, or even amusing, please consider contributing to our adoption fund at Reece’s Rainbow.  And we sure would be tickled if you shared this Tutorial with your friends through social media.  Please feel free to pin away! And if you need to purchase supplies, you can do so right through our Amazon affiliate link.  Those commissions go toward our adoption, too!

Handmade Christmas

This is what my Christmas rush looks like:

Handmade Christmas | Slippers

 

Handmade Christmas | Slippers

 

Handmade Christmas | Slippers

 

Handmade Christmas | Slippers

Ten pair of slippers on the needles, to be felted later.  I’d a whole lot rather spend a winter day sitting on my sofa, with a cup of tea, children all around, knitting like the wind, than battling crowds and parking lots in the cold.

I’ll probably go out a few days before Christmas to soak up some of that festive atmosphere, but there won’t be any pressure.  Just a hot cup of coffee, a few stocking stuffers, and my fella.

Here, I’m making “Little Girl’s Ballet Slippers” by Monique Rae and “The Baby Lazy Loafer” by Bekah Knits, both available through Ravelry.  And while you’re there, go ahead and connect with me.

What are you making for Christmas?

Box of Many Colours

I didn’t finish all of my Jesse Tree ornaments last year.  I rushed through many of them and they weren’t as detailed as I wanted.  So this year, I’m re-creating them with more details, and I’m stitching numbers on the backs of them to help us keep them in proper order.

Jesse Tree Ornaments

Jesse Tree Ornaments

Jesse Tree Ornaments

Moses

 

Jesse Tree Ornaments

Ruth

 

Jesse Tree Ornaments

Joseph

 

Jesse Tree Ornaments

 Joshua

If your family isn’t familiar with the tradition of the Jesse Tree, it is a beautiful Advent devotion which traces the family tree of Jesus and our salvation history.  All Christians can make this devotion, regardless of denomination.  In fact, I’m so pleased to see so many more Protestants putting up Jesse Trees in their homes, and incorporating other Advent traditions into their Christmas preparations.

“that all may be one, that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21)

 

We are using Jesse Tree Devotions: A Family Activity for Advent and The New American Bible .  I took inspiration from the illustrations in the book, but not all of mine are exactly the same.

A gorgeous bowlful of mulberries.

Stopping to Say Hello

Life on the farm is extremely busy lately.  The vegetables are finally coming on, and I have been spending a lot of time making jams and jellies from flowers and fruits collected round and about the place.  We’ve even tried a new delight – mulberry jam.  I’ve never had a mulberry before in my life, but William discovered an enormous mulberry tree out by the barn.  It is LOADED with fruit.  Like other such berries, they aren’t all ripe at once, which means that I’ve got to make lots of smaller batches.  Now, if I can get the black raspberries to co-ordinate with the mulberries, we’ll alternate the two until we’re done.  Chance would be a fine thing!

A gorgeous bowlful of mulberries.

We’ve harvested lots of nettle, which is being dried in the carriage house, along with elderflowers and catnip.  We’ve got chive seeds harvested from the little clump at the corner of the schoolroom, and soon I’ll be doing the same with the catnip seeds.

I thought that I was done with flower jellies, but I’ve got just one more to go – Queen Anne’s Lace.  I always grew up believing that it was poisonous.  It’s not.  But you have to be careful that you’re indeed picking the right thing.  So, I’m off to do that, perhaps this weekend.  While I’m out there, I’ll look to see what we have for chicory root.  And OH! I forgot that I’ve been collecting burdock and dandelion root.  So, so much more to harvest from teh wild while we wait for our pokey veggies to get up and ready.  Blossoms everywhere, and wee bitty vegetables.

Queen Anne's Lace

It looks like we’re going to have a spate of veg all at once, rather than the steady stream we had originally planned.  But there it is.  Nothing can be done about how the weather behaves.  And God is good.  He knows what we need.  Our job is to have faith and always and everywhere to give thanks.

I have been working on two knitting designs. 

I had to frog back and re-work the Brendan longies I started several weeks months ago.  But I think that this revision will look much better.  I also decided to order a new skein of yarn to work it up – “Moorland” Madelinetosh Tosh DK (my current fave yarn) – it will go so well with a co-ordinating jumper/vest in Mad. Tosh DK “Filigree”, which I still have skads of from Georgie’s romper.  The green is very, very similar to the “Kiwi” Lamb’s Pride that I began with, but much softer.

The second is a pretty pair of socks that I’m calling “Métro”.  It’s a two-at-a-time toe-up sock.  Lacy and pink.  But it would be lovely in any colour.  I can’t wait to photograph my progress and share with you.  I am the world’s.  slowest.  knitter.  Or I was.  Until I rediscovered the Scottish style of knitting, also called Irish Cottage Knitting.  I knit this way when my oldest ones were little, but gave it up when I started knitting in the round.  And today, I discovered that Bulgarian babas knit Turkish or Tunisian style – with hooks!  Holy smokes, how much faster must that be?  Yep.  I’m going to try it.  The special, wonderful bonus is that it has a built-in lifeline in case you make a boo-boo.  At least, it has a lifeline for the previous row or round.  That’s enough for some of us. 🙂

And speaking of Bulgaria, we’re still beavering away raising funds for our adoption.  Our little gal just turned 10, and our little fella is about to turn 11.  We have been told that we have until the week before Christmas to get everything done.  Looks like a trip for Christmas-tide.  It’s coming really quickly.

Really.  Quickly.

I have applied to Reece’s Rainbow to see if we can get some fundraising help from them.  I hope we’ll hear back sometime next week.  In the meantime, we’re planning a little online fundraiser of our own.  I was given a loving nudge by my friend Cassan to have the kind of fundraiser that has a little progress graphic and would possibly make all of the asking a little easier to manage.  But because I can’t resist making a PROJECT out of a project (will I ever learn?  Don’t answer that.), I have made a project out of it.  LOL.  My intention is to bless more children, more families with it.  If I can do it for us, I want to use the same project to help others.  I’ll share more when I can.

In the meantime, we have to get a whole new term life insurance for parents.  It’s no problem, I said.  It’ll take about 5 minutes, I said.  WRONG.  Oy.  So worth it, though.  Can’t wait to see those two beautiful faces for real.  And hug those babies up.

If you would like to help us get those hugs a little sooner, you can make a gift of any size through PayPal (nissa_@_gadboisfamily_._com), shop at our farm shop, or book a portrait session or hire me to photograph your next event.

 

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