Crochet Vertical Rib Infinity Scarf

I have a fun crochet pattern to share with you today. A couple of weeks ago, Ballet Boy asked me to make him a long cowl, but I’ve been so busy with other projects that it took me a while to get done. I finally found the perfect yarn for the project and was able to get started. It only took a few days for me to make (it was one of two projects I had going at the time), and we are both so happy with how it turned out. He gets compliments on it everywhere he goes (so he tells me).

I used Big Twist Party yarn in the color Beach, but you could use any worsted weight yarn you’d like and it would turn out beautifully. The ribbing on the scarf is so well defined all the way through, and I think it’s a really nice texture for a scarf. It gives a lot of visual interest without being difficult to crochet. And because of the infinity scarf style, there are a thousand and one different ways you can wear it! Ballet Boy’s favorite way (which turned out to be a surprise to us both as it wasn’t something he’d been considering before I finished the creation) is to put it around his waist, cross it over his chest, and loop it over his neck. This gives him extra warmth around his body as well as up around his neck for those really cold days.

Crochet Vertical Rib Infinity Scarf

Chain 35.

Row 1: HDC in second chain from hook and each chain across. Chain 1; turn. (34)

Row 2: Slip stitch into the back loops only (BLO) of each stitch across. Chain 1; turn. (34)

Row 3: HDC into the BLO of each stitch across. Chain 1; turn. (34)

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until scarf is desired length. I made Ballet Boy’s 55 inches, using a size I crochet hook. You use whatever hook and yarn you like, though, so long as they play nicely together.

End the repeat with a row 3. Loop the two ends together, right sides out, and slip stitch through the front loop of one side and the back loop of the other side to join.


Why We Chose to Homeschool

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter lately (too much time, frankly; I’m thinking of deleting the app pretty soon, at least for a while), and a lot of what I’m reading there is frustrated parents. They’re frustrated because their kids have to wear masks to school. They’re frustrated because the teachers’ unions in a lot of big cities are pushing for N95 masks on children, or school closures. It all seems to revolve around COVID protocols right now, and while I disagree with almost all of the restrictions put in place by the government (at least the one in my state), that’s not the debate I want to take today. Today, rather than push an agenda (something I’m not comfortable doing anyway), I just want to take a minute to discuss why we chose to homeschool our children.Back when Will and I were first married (we’ve been married 21 years now; our anniversary was earlier this month), before we even had kids, we decided that any future children we had would be educated at home. This was quite a bold decision at the time; we didn’t know anyone who homeschooled their kids, and we had both graduated from public schools. But we never, for even one minute, considered sending our children to public schools. Private school wouldn’t have been an option back then due to cost, though I can’t imagine we would have entertained that thought either. We were young, but even with our inexperience in life we knew that sending our kids to government-run schools wasn’t an approach we wanted to take.

It started with Will’s younger sister. She’s six years younger than him, and was still in high school when we got married. When she graduated three years later, in 2004, we had a casual conversation with her. I don’t remember the details on how the conversation meandered, but somehow the year 1776 came up. She had no idea, as a recent high school graduate, what the significance of that year was. If I could pinpoint the moment we decided to homeschool, that was it. We did not want our children to be able to “successfully complete” high school without having such basic knowledge. Now, nearly 18 years later, our priorities have shifted a little, but not much. We don’t care so much if our kids know the ins and outs of every aspect of American history (although a working knowledge is required). But we do want them to have a more well-rounded education than they’d get in public school. Will, being an entrepreneur, is especially insistent on this, and I support him wholeheartedly. It’s vital to us that our kids know how money works and how to run a successful business. It’s important for them to be able to take over his business one day, and in the meantime, for them to be able to run related businesses underneath his umbrella as they get old enough. They wouldn’t be able to do that with a public school education. Public schools are designed to create people who are willing/happy to be employees. We want better than that for our kids – we want them to thrive in life, not just survive.

(Also, our governor recently signed a law prohibiting schools from forcing kids to prove competency in reading, math, and language to graduate. So kids can literally graduate high school in our state without knowing how to read. That’s unacceptable in our family. They don’t have to like reading, but they have to know how. Same with math.)

So, in a nutshell, that’s why we homeschool. What are your reasons?


Crochet Hat a Scarf for a Ukulele

Over the past 6 months or so, Ballet Boy has been slowly building up his Instagram account. The focus of that account is cool pictures of his ukulele, which he has named “Ben.” 

When we got to the colder weather, he had an idea to dress Ben up for the cold. He asked me to make a tiny stocking cap and scarf for it. Then, within a week or two of that, we actually got a good amount of snow! That almost never happens around here, so Ballet Boy made sure to take advantage of the beautiful landscape and get some photos. 

Today, I want to share his photos as well as the pattern for the tiny hat and scarf. I don’t expect many of you to want to dress up a ukulele, but these accessories might fit a doll or favorite stuffed animal too. 

For my version of these accessories, I used Big Twist Cotton yarn. This is the JoAnn house brand, and their cotton is actually a cotton/polyester blend. Normally I would use a 100% cotton, but I happened to have this on hand and the color was perfect for a wintry landscape picture. 

Tiny Crochet Hat

Using a size H crochet hook, make a magic ring. Chain 1 and make 6 half double crochets in the ring. Tighten the loop to close the hole. join to first st with a slst. Ch 1.

Round 2: 2 hdc in each stitch around. Join. Ch 1. (12)

Round 3: *2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next st* around. Join. Ch 1. (18)

Round 4: *2 hdc in first st, 1 hdc in next 2 sts* around. Join. Ch 1. (24)

Rounds 5-10: 1 hdc in each stitch. Join. Ch 1.

Fasten off and weave in ends. Optional: Attach a small pompom (homemade or purchased).

Tiny Scarf

Chain 65.

HDC in second chain from hook and each chain across. Ch 1; turn. 

Rows 2-7: HDC in each stitch all the way across. Ch 1; turn.

Fasten off. Weave in ends. Optional: Attach fringe using matching or coordinating yarn. 

If you enjoyed seeing these pictures, make sure to follow “A Ukulele Named Ben” on Instagram. Ballet Boy has lots of amazing pictures of his ukulele there!


Book Club: Meghan March

I have a little secret. I love romance novels. Like, really, really love reading them. I’ve even written one (in the form of fanfiction) before. I rarely talk about this obsession of mine though because it can put people off. Those types of books really do seem to be “love them or hate them,” and a lot of the adult themes aren’t things I’m necessarily comfortable talking about in general life. But yeah… I love them. And have been reading a lot of them lately! Today I want to introduce you to my current favorite author, Meghan March.

Meghan March used to be a corporate lawyer, but she gave that up for writing a few years back. She now has over 30 books and is a NYT bestselling author. I found her books quite by accident; I was out on my own one day and decided to hit up the Overdrive app (digital library for ebooks and audio books) for an audio book to listen to while I drove. (I hate listening to music, especially in the car. Audio books are much more my jam.) I have no idea how or why Dirty Billionaire turned up on my recs, because I hadn’t read a romance novel in a few years, and certainly hadn’t checked one out on the app before. But it caught my eye, and I borrowed it to listen to. And let’s just say I’ve been hooked on Meghan March’s books ever since!

Ms. March’s books are primarily duets or trilogies. She also works her novels in “worlds,” meaning that even though one particular trilogy focuses on a specific couple, just because their story has ended doesn’t mean you won’t see them again in someone else’s story. I have really loved seeing familiar characters show up in other books as I work my way through her library. Her books (as many as I’ve read, anyway) are usually set in either New York City or New Orleans, and depending on which city you’re entering, that’s the world you’ll be seeing and the characters you can expect to meet. You won’t find Creighton Karas (the “dirty billionaire”) in a NOLA book, just like you won’t find Lachlan Mount in a NY book. But you’re likely (though not guaranteed) to find each of them in any book set in their own town.

In addition to worlds organized by setting, Ms. March also does spinoffs to her own books – another way to revisit those characters you love so much after their stories are over. For example, the audio book I’m currently listening to is all about Creighton’s little sister, Greer. When I finish the book I’m reading (the end of the Legend trilogy), I’ll be diving into the Savage trilogy, which focuses on Temperance, who was a background character in the Mount trilogy. Lots of interconnectedness, and I love it.

If you like erotic romance, I can’t recommend Meghan March enough. You can “buy” the first of each of her trilogies absolutely free to try out. Be prepared to buy their sequels almost right away, though! She doesn’t call herself the “Cliffhanger Queen” for nothing. And if you follow her on Instagram and interact with her, you’re very likely to get responses too. She’s very fan-centric, which is nice. I’ve had a couple of short conversations with her on that platform, and it makes you feel good to have a “celebrity” respond to your comments and posts!

What’s your favorite genre of book to read?


Winter Break: Yes or No?

This is a time of year when a lot of families are getting ready for Christmas. There is so much to do, so you might logistically need to have the time as a parent just to get all the baking and card sending and decorating and shopping done. Additionally, if you have a public school background like I do, you might feel obligated to give your kids a break for the holidays. If they have a lot of friends in public school, they likely want to spend time playing with them during the days while they have the opportunity.

Or you might fall on the other side of the spectrum. Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas. Perhaps you’re Jewish (or fundamental Christian) and you celebrate Hanukkah instead. Maybe you’re not religious at all so you opt out of the holiday. Or maybe you have some other reason you’ve chosen not to celebrate, regardless of what that might be.

Perhaps Christmas doesn’t play into your plans at all, whether you celebrate it or not. Maybe you had some sickness or took a vacation earlier in the year and you need to make up the school hours now. These are all perfectly valid reasons for skipping out on the winter break.

So which is the right answer? Like all things related to homeschooling, that depends entirely on your family and your circumstances. Personally, I can’t imagine not taking a winter break! We do a “light Christmas” since we switched to focusing more on Hanukkah 2 years ago, and even though that holiday is over for this year already, we will be taking a winter break.

If you opt in to taking a winter break, the next thing to decide is when and how long will you take off? Like the decision to take a break at all, this is a very personal decision amongst families. I think 2 weeks is pretty traditional, but I’ve also heard of homeschool families who take the entire month of December off. Another option would be to change gears in the lead up to Christmas and focus more on the holiday itself in your studies. There are dozens of ways you can go about doing this. Maybe do a unit study using the Bible as your guide? Create a lap book if your children are interested in that. I just read an idea earlier to day from one of the leaders of the Homeschool Review Crew who told us about how she and her family took the “secret Santa” concept to a new level. They each draw someone’s name, and then spend the month of December doing special things for their recipient. This can be as simple as doing one of their chores for them or more complex like making them a gift. But all the things are to be done in secret. When you’ve done a service for the person, they leave a paper heart on the other’s bed so they know they’ve been blessed. On Christmas Eve, they reveal one another and have a lovely celebration acknowledging all the blessings everyone had received over the month. What a lovely way to serve your own family during this time!

If you decide not to take a winter or Christmas break, know that that’s okay, too, though. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either!


Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Have you ever finished loading the dishwasher only to look under the sink (or wherever it is you keep the detergent) and discovered that you’re out? That happens to me on occasion, and with the help the internet, I’ve developed a pretty reasonable substitute.

This isn’t a detergent that you can “make” a whole batch of and keep on hand because it’s only 3 ingredients, and two of them are wet. So whenever I need to rely on it, I just do it right in the detergent cup of the dishwasher. It’s so simple, and works great!

First, fill up your detergent cup with baking soda. This handy leavener of baked goods is fabulous for cleaning because it’s so abrasive. If you have a really tough item that needs cleaning, mix a lot of baking soda with a tiny bit of water to make a paste and scrub away! I used that to get all the caked-on stuff off of my kids’ high chair, and that humble wood chair has lasted through 3 kids thanks to this cleaning method. So yeah, add it to the detergent cup to help get all the bits of food off your dishes.

Next, add a splash of acid. It doesn’t really matter what; I’ve had success with lemon juice, lime juice, and vinegar (not at the same time). These ingredients give you a bit of disinfectant in your wash.

The final thing to add is a couple of drops of Dawn (or whatever dish soap you keep at your sink). It’s really important not to use more than 1-2 drops because that soap isn’t designed for the dishwasher. If you were to use it in lieu of dishwasher detergent on its own, you’d be living in a sitcom because your kitchen would be covered in suds! But by using just a drop or two in this recipe, there’s not enough to make bubbles and cause problems. This ingredient gives you the degreasing power you want for really clean dishes.

That’s it! I love knowing how to do this so that if I’ve run out of the “real” stuff I’m not stuck handwashing all of the dishes until I can get to the store.


Arts and Crafts in Homeschool

Art is a very important part of our family. Will draws comics and does graphic design for a living. Ballet Boy is learning to play guitar and ukulele. I knit and crochet. Scorpion makes animations. The younger kids draw and color all the time. Let’s talk a bit today about incorporating arts and crafts into your homeschool – or just taking what your kids are already doing art-wise and turning it into valuable lessons.

First of all, even though arts and crafts are often bundled together in people’s minds, they’re not the same thing. A craft is something that a student (usually a young child) makes to certain specifications. Crafts are usually part of a larger lesson (think about what children make at VBS or Sunday School). Art is – or at least can be – a lesson on its own. Students are still creating, but they’re doing so in a more free form manner. Even if all the kids in the class are drawing the same bowl of fruit, it’s more about the students’ expression than it is about completing the project exactly right (with the possible exception of a still life, but that’s a conversation for another day).

With those definitions in mind, let’s dive in. We don’t actually do many crafts in our home. Because of all the art-mindedness going on already, we tend to focus more on the things that will help our kids have an art-mindset rather than just gluing some macaroni onto a sheet of paper. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that – there’s absolutely not – but it’s not what we do.) In fact, we don’t really even do much organized art at all. It’s just sort of ingrained in our kids and we encourage it. All of our kids have started drawing from the time they could hold a pencil (or crayon), and as long as they’re drawing on paper, we support it. (We actually went through quite a difficult time with Bumblebee, who’s 3 now, where he was drawing on the walls. That was horrible, but thankfully he’s been the only child of ours who ever did that and he’s outgrown it now.) At a certain point, we move them over from loose leaf paper to sketch pads to contain the mess, but outside of that we just let them have free reign to draw whatever they want. This method teaches children that they can create whatever they want. Their only limit is their imagination! There is no right or wrong way to “do art,” and that’s probably the most important lesson to teach in my opinion.

What if you’re more comfortable with crafts than art, though? That’s totally fine! Kids can learn from doing specific crafts just as much as they can by drawing or painting, even if the lessons are a little different. In crafting, children learn how to follow instructions and how to be more precise in their creative endeavors. If they don’t cut that house panel out just right, it won’t fit into the other one to make their 3D house stand up properly.

If you don’t like having a specific art lesson each day (or even weekly, or biweekly), then how about incorporating arts and crafts into another lesson? Unit studies are a fantastic way to do this! A lot of pre-fab unit studies will have ideas for making art to go along with the lessons. Here are a few examples of ways you can add a simple art lesson to another, more mainstream course.


Have your child/children draw an illustration for the book they’re reading, taking care to choose a scene that doesn’t already have an illustration.


Using supplies found around the house, even if they’re not traditional art supplies, create a model of whatever they’re learning about. (We did this a few years ago with Scorpion and Grasshopper where they made edible models of a cell.)


Write and perform a play based in the time period you’re learning about.


Create their own manipulations to help master a tricky concept.

What are your favorite ways to incorporate art into your homeschool? Do you do specific art lessons, or do you prefer to use art as a supplement for other subjects?