JOSEPH

My older brother lives in Washington state with his lovely (and very pregnant) wife, Megahn, and their son, Solomon. While we see my younger brother, Benjamin, at least twice a year, we are only able to see Joseph once every few years. Simply due to distance.

After my Dad’s issues in December, they came up with a way for Joe to visit him (and us, too, of course) – and that day finally came this past Friday.

We arrived in St. Louis shortly before he did and met up with him for supper.

My girls didn’t remember him, but they immediately became very attached!

We have siblings who are twins, but my mom has always called us the twins. I’ve got a crooked nose and he has a beard, but we look very similar – we even share the same waist size! Ha!

The way she looks at him. Good gracious.

They live at an equal understanding of all things silly. It’s wonderful to witness these two together. My brothers really own up to their titles of Uncle.

We filled out Saturday morning with my nephews’ basketball games.

Rae showed Grandma her General Hux toy (and his “backpack”). She was very impressed.

Rae came down with some kind of stomach bug later that day. Poor thing. She plowed through the rest of the festivities well, though.

We’re not used to sunshine in February…

Sunday morning, we took the girls to see Peter Rabbit. That sign is pretty accurate – he was quite the rascal. The English humor had Zack and I rolling, while the girls adored everything about the animals, naturally.

Afterward, we took the girls out for lunch, where I cradled my seven year old as if she were a much younger, smaller child.

Don’t listen to that face, she loved it, I just know it.

Before heading home Sunday evening, we met up with Joe at Vovo’s house. They had all gone to church and lunch together earlier that day, while we played hooky at the theater with pukey-mic-puke-face.

He heads home tomorrow. Boy, do I wish I could sneak back into the city to see him off!

Thanks so much for traveling all this way, Joe. – and thanks, Megahn for making it happen!

LATELY : : JANUARY 2018

This semester, we’re focusing on reading, writing, and music as our top subjects.

By music, I mostly mean learn to play the piano decently and understand the ends and outs of the notes. I’m adding composer studies to the mix periodically. We began with Johann Sebastian Bach.

We listened to his music for a bit while they did the copy work and painted, but I’m not a fan. We listened to my favorite organist/composer, Hans Zimmer instead. I knew nothing about Bach before this and found his story very interesting. Honestly, I didn’t expect to…

Rae took selfies and made a triangle using a rubber band. Very impressive.

Mae and I went shopping just the two of us at the fancy grocery store while Rae was at preschool. We brought a snack with us and ate it by the fireplace in their cafe’. She provides such good conversation.

I also went shopping with just Rae. You can read about that here.

My girls are always with me, so it is unusual to have one at a time twice in one month.

The first two weeks were foggy. All day. I loved it. Mae did not. She missed the sun and stars too much.

We started up with Khan Academy again for Math and Grammar supplementing. She breezes through every lesson, though. We also use Khan Academy for art history and we watch videos by Pixar about their movie-making processes just for fun.

We were able to borrow our boy for a bit here and there. We need this kid in our life.

Rae is still into Peppa Pig. Really liking George’s nose and that extra tall grass on the right-hand side.

The cats seem to live indoors now.

Mae is getting better at wrapping her own ponytail.

We had several days worth of snow and ice. Followed by leftover salt covering the roads. I actually kind of liked that too.

We often have tea parties, but earlier in the month we had one with cupcakes Zack’s cousin, Beef, made for us.

The girls finally saw the Captain Underpants movie. We have one of the chapter books, and they saw a cardboard cut out for the film a while back at the theater. That was more than enough to build up enthusiasm for the bald man in underpants. They’ve never laughed so hard.

Our visit to the Lincoln Museum is back here.

We visited old friends and met new babies the following day.

…and made a stop to IKEA before leaving St. Louis.

Mae saw a yellow locker box she wanted at IKEA.

She counted her money the next day, weighed the desire for the many things she wants and decided she truly wanted the locker.

^ ^ ^ Zack and Rae! ^ ^ ^

So we took her to get the locker. She was so happy. She held that heavy box all the way to the car.

We stopped by our favorite – Chipotle – before going home. So good.

Buckey grew some more. (January makes him seven months old)

I know we see each other nearly every moment of each other’s lives, but Mae and I have been spending a lot of time just the two of us. Maybe Rae is just getting even more independent?

Zack took that photo of Mae and I after noticing her and I share the same hands, feet, legs, eyes, teeth, hair color, skin color, and well, just about everything apart from our noses – which at this point aren’t that different.

We had a fluke warm day right after several well-below-freezing days. So we cleaned the outhouse. Very exciting stuff.

We got a nature lesson out of it!!

The girls also played with / in mud that was brought on by the melting snow, and our ladies laid their first eggs. We collected nine on that first day. (I say the first day, but there were nine eggs and only six hens. Clearly, we neglected them a bit on those cold days.)

^ Coconut everything for this girl ^

We began January learning about Nordic countries (a study brought about by this book), including Germany which I didn’t draw on the board, as only a red and yellow line would show up. They painted it from an image in a book instead.

One of the girls drew cannons on the board by the flags. I just kept them there because I liked them. They weren’t part of our lessons.

We also began learning about maps. Mae has always had a love of maps. Zack and I even bought her her own atlas for the car around the time she was three. Her interest is only going stronger.

We had fun learning about new animals. We learn about so many animals each month, so this isn’t unique to January 2018, but the girls’ drawing skills and handwriting are getting so dag’um good!

Zack and I saw more of each other than we had in the past 5+ months. Good gracious, that face.

The girls and I started watching Homes by the Sea on Netflix while we eat lunch. As we watch they design their own houses (I even framed one). Mae says she’ll design a house every day of her life. We’ll see…

We finally got around to reading this book. Sixteen (very short) chapters in one day – around 80 pages. The girls sat attentively the entire book and had so many questions along the way.

We then watched the section on Eskimos in Human Planet by BBC (we own it, but it may be on Netflix). It covered nearly every tradition mentioned in this book, which is set in 1964. It is about the King Islanders (based on a real tribe) and follows a young girl in her last year on the island, living as a traditional Eskimo. The follow up of the true islanders is heartbreaking.

The girls “baked” our neighbors a mud pie. Our neighbors were delighted to find that kids still make mud pies and think of their elderly neighbors with the utmost fondness.

My girls believe “boys are taller than girls” is a fact – as in short men don’t exist. Rae says Kylo Ren needs a haircut and thinks Iron Man is Spiderman’s dad. Can this age last just a bit longer, please???

Rae drew Skye from Paw Patrol. One sad Skye and one happy Skye? Not sure why she’s sad. Is she in a box?

Mae let me sleep in and made breakfast for everyone a few times – oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and pancakes are her favorite foods to make.

These glasses. They were in last month post, but they still make me laugh every time she sneaks up on me.

We took the girls to see Paddington 2. It was completely adorable.

Mae kept up with her plan to e-mail Grandma at least once a week. As a result, my phone is full of her selfies.

The girls had a dentist appointment. Very exciting stuff for them at ages five and seven. Having perfect teeth helps in this, I’m sure. The dentist even smoothed out Mae’s front tooth that had been chipped back in December.

January ended with several warm days in a row which called for walks at the park, most of which involved time with Zack!

The girls and I finally made it up to see my grandparents. They moved up here from Alabama last November.

My Uncle Paul was visiting from D.C., so I was able to meet his wife, Hiroko, and their son. He’s awesome! It felt like my kids had known him their whole life. Of course, Hiroko is sweet and funny. Such a cool lady. Could’ve spent the entire week there.

On the last day of January, we decided to tidy up the house and continue our lessons on Nomads. We started the first volume of this series (there are four volumes in total). So good! Zack and I were geeking out over them before they even arrived in the mail. The girls are hanging on every word, so far.

Since we’re using these for our history curriculum (I say as a woman who claims not to use ‘curriculum’), we’re going to follow it straight through learning about 7000 B.C. all the way 476 A.D. in order – just in volume one! I’m assuming this first volume will take at least year, since we’re studying and not just reading it all rather quickly.

I felt as though January flew by, but seeing this incredibly long post and knowing what I neglected to mention, I guess we packed quite a bit into those 31 days! One more month until our boy turns 30!

 

 

MAKING IT UP AS WE GO – WASPS!

Last week the girls and I cleaned the outhouse. We never use it, so i’m not sure why we did. Something to do on a warm day, I guess.

We collected several wasp nests for our nature collection, which we of course turned into a learning experience!

Our favorite part was viewing a slice of the nest through the microscope Mae received for Christmas! It looked way better than this photo, which was taken with my cell phone.

We are really loving this homeschooling gig.

FIELD TRIP : : LINCOLN MUSEUM

We got our first field trip of 2018 taken care of last week!

The girls spent quite a bit of time last fall learning about Abraham Lincoln. A subject they requested. We finally had some time to breathe and decided to fill that breath with a treck to Illinois.

My friend from high school, Ven, and her boys joined us. So grateful for the company and conversation!!

This girl, agh! She soaked every bit up. She was so happy to be in this place.

Zack and I brought her here when she was a year and a half old, or so. She obviously didn’t remember a thing, but it was so nice from my perspective seeing her observe everything this time around. Grasping the importance of his accomplishments.

With the exception of the logs she sat on, Rae looked at everything with her eyes not her hands! Such a hard task for a five-year-old.

^ Just look at her!! Inspecting every inch.

KILLS. ME.

Rae strolled through at a brisk pace…until she got here. She stared at Abe for a good long while, as I stared at her for a good long while.

Above: an outhouse with THREE toilets. All at different heights! You know you’ve made it when…

We toured Lincoln’s home. It’s just down the road from the museum -and its free! His tomb is free also but it was raining and getting cold, so we skipped that.

His home still has some original things in it. Doors, a toilet, wallpaper in one of the rooms, and the banister. Oh, that beautiful banister.

Now, between Lincoln’s stories of loss and achievement, the slaves’ own stories and watching my girls experiencing it all, I got tear boulders lodged in my ducts quite a few times throughout the day – BUT none quite so large as the ones brought about by that generically crafted banister.

As we neared the portion of the home tour where it was time to head on upstairs, the guide mentioned that the banister was original to the home.

“It’s as close to shaking the hand of Abe Lincoln himself as you can get!” 

I could see Mae hold her breath. Her smile grew and her gaze made it over to mine. I knew what she was thinking. Boulders began to form.

As we rounded the corner into the foyer, her eyes grew. I made sure to walk behind her. She slowly raised her hand, making sure to never take her eyes off the banister. She slowly walked up the staircase. I knew she was imagining Abraham Lincoln walking up those very steps holding onto that very banister. She was in heaven. As a result, I was too.

Before heading to my mother-in-law’s for the night. We braved the great ice storm of 2018 (apparently it’s not too early in the year to proclaim such a thing), and enjoyed a “fancy meal” at McAllister’s together. Just me and my ‘gails’.

As we waited for our fancy food to arrive, we received several texts and calls from people making sure we were still alive. We were. As we made the five-minute journey to Shari’s we saw no ice and had the roads all to ourselves. Not a bad way to end the day!

– Mae (on the left) is holding her face like that for the photo. I held the phone up for a ridiculous length of time to see how long she’d hold it. She didn’t budge. Definitely, her Daddy’s girl…

DEAR RAE

The other day I took you with me to the store. Just us.

As we passed the trough of flower bouquets you asked, “Can I buy you some flowers, Mommy?”

I quickly said, no. Thinking that that would be a waste of money.

You shyly responded with an, “Okay.”

When we got home I felt a pit in my stomach. I realized that I ignored you and your desire to do something nice for me. You don’t understand money. You were thinking of someone other than yourself. I don’t want to make you feel bad for anything, much less, thoughts of kindness.

The next day we went back for those flowers. The big bouquet. You were so happy. It has been so nice to walk by them each day and be reminded of you.

I love you, Rae.

 

DEAR MAE

You tried desperately to explain the concepts of today tomorrow and yesterday to your sister this morning. It went something like this,

“Tomorrow is the day after today.”

“Is tomorrow this night?”

“No. Today is right now and tomorrow is the day after this one.”

“What? Do I get to go to preschool today or not?”

Then, Momma snapped the photo above.

I sympathize, dear. I’m still trying to get just one of you to understand the timings of breakfast, lunch, and supper… (Spoiler alert, they are not interchangeable.)

LATELY : : DECEMBER 2017

December came quick!! Quicker every year.

We began the month learning about the original Saint Nicholas. I always thought he was Italian. Nope. Sort of? Greek under Roman rule, is basically Italian, right? Stretching it much? Who cares. He was awesome. Someone truly living to be like the Lord.

Some other school work here.

Zack baked Gingerbread for the first time ever. The girls ate it most mornings with an orange as their breakfast, until it was gone.

Mae baked cookies for our neighbours and some friends from church.

Zack and I nearly cried looking at these photos of Mae, imagining the day she is that tall without a stool. Hopefully, when that day comes, she’ll still be sporting elbow patches.

We baked a record amount of bread – to go with our record amount of soups and stews and so many gingerbread cookies. We used this recipe and had to throw away a softball size of dough, as we just could not handle any more cookies.

The girls picked out some great library books this month – It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids! (It’s about George’s son) and the illustrated 134 page The Nutcracker were two of our favourites. Mae also read four horse related chapter books (She’s really into the Horse Diaries series). She’s determined to read every horse book the library has! We also began the Chronicles of Narnia series on audio discs.

Mae also attended her first knitting / crocheting club…night? at the library. Thankfully one of the ladies kept talking, making her feel comfortable. I tried walking around to look at books not written for children. I came home with a stack of children’s literature…

The girls always do more yoga this time of year. They had a Christmas episode this time around! They’ve used Cosmic Kids Yoga the past three or four years now. We haven’t branched out to “normal yoga” ’cause they still really enjoy it. (and, no, I don’t do yoga. I’d likely fall asleep on the floor)

We attended a baby shower for my best friend’s daughter. It was SO much fun!

It was also so great to see that family again – just a bonus we were able to celebrate Mr. Julian!! We’re all dying to meet that kid!

Stopping for gas on our way home at 11 P.M. She stayed awake the entire way home. We talked and blared Zootopia to make sure I didn’t fall asleep.

Rae woke up the next morning, vomiting. (Notice the Disney World “just in case” bucket…) Mae got to go to church, and thanks to some incredibly awesome folks at church, I didn’t have to!

Chores in nightgowns developed into a thing.

Mae looks forward to any type of hard work and does an incredible job at anything we request of her. Like, cleaning out the hens’ boxes and filling them with fresh chips, or her favourite job – helping load the furnace, which involves a trip down into the ‘spooky’ cellar.

Rae…well, Rae is good at avoiding. In the photo above, Rae is “helping” me burn trash as her chore. No job is too small to neglect!

We steadied our Christmas…business? We watched Princess Bride and called it a Christmas movie (Right in there with Hugo, Harry Potter, LOTR, Jeremiah Johnson, and Star Wars), held off starting up the furnace so we could wear sweaters indoors, and only read one holiday book a day.

The girls had their first sleepover!

We took a field trip to The Compassion Experience. You can read about that here.

Rae got a haircut. It was getting kind of shaggy.

She had a good month at preschool. She was particularly excited to head out the door each morning and beamed when she saw me waiting for her after class. The girls talk and talk and talk all the way home. Rae shows Mae the work she was able to bring home. They discuss snack time and what her friend Fletcher has been up to.

It was too cold to take a decent photo of her for “green day” (show-and-tell), so we snapped one in the car. There’s a green dress under that coat. She was extra happy because green is Mommy’s favourite color. Sweet girl.

Ninja-Mae seems 2 feet taller than Normy-Mae. She’d make a good burglar or shadow next Halloween…

(Last photo was taken my a lady at church.)

Instead of a pageant, our church let the kids show off the talents the Lord has given them. They chose to sing, and boy oh boy did they sing their hearts out (to Jingle Bells – ha!) But, Rae joined in and stayed committed. Just look at that grin. Agh! We made sure to sit front and center!

The girls got to visit Santa. They still insist on believing in him this year, knowing full well he is not real. They want to imagine. Can’t complain about that.

Last year Mae decided days before Christmas that she wanted to pretend and believe in Santa. Okay. She baked cookies and set out carrots alongside them. We played along. First thing Christmas morning she ran to the plate, gasped, and said (with a smile and wide eyes), “Which one of you ate them?!”

This year, my mother-in-law and I scrambled at nine or ten o’clock to rewrap gifts she brought. Mae was really (really) excited to see what Santa would bring her. She even mentioned Christmas morning, “Last year Santa only stuck around to eat the cookies, but this year he brought gifts!” Next year we’re going to let them be Santa.

I also finished sewing up Mae’s horse that was chewed up by a dog back in October. Didn’t even have time to wash it, but she overlooked the dog smell and was very happy to have her back.

We joined in on a field trip with fellow homeschoolers.

We all learned a lot about amphibians. I’m sure the girls and I will go frog / salamander hunting plenty this spring!

We were able to spend the entire month outside! It got COLD beginning the first day of winter, but we still managed to haul our bums out for a few minutes each day.

Wrote a post about one of our trips back here.

We ate nearly every meal by candlelight.

We took Rae to see The Last Jedi as her Christmas gift. ^ Her reaction to hearing she was going to see it in 3D – only because we missed the first regular showing and didn’t want to wait for the next one. It’s quite the treck to the theater.

Never fails, some really nice folks dress up and posed for photos with the kids. Rae was shy this time around, but Mae would have hung out there all afternoon. I have no idea who that lady is supposed to be, but she was awfully sweet and that beefed up trooper by Boba really dug her socks, so they’re basically BFFs now.

We also took Rae and “Sweepio” out for supper later. (She says, “C! 3! P! O!” now but I’m nestalgic for the Sweepio days)

She crashed hard when we got home.

Zack enjoyed his last couple days before winter break. We were very glad to have him around (ALL DAY LONG!) for a couple weeks!!

We attending PawPawDeeDee’s Christmas party (Zack’s side of the family) on Christmas Eve Eve, which also happens to be my parent’s anniversary…

…my dad ended up in the hospital on his anniversary. Boo. It did mean we were able to visit with him though! (Also in the hospital over Christmas was Zack’s grandpa and Zack’s best friend’s dad. Not a good weekend for dads.)

My younger brother was visiting from Alabama and we got to see him a few times over the break, which wasn’t planned either. My dad officially went home the day after Christmas and is hopefully feeling much better.

It snowed just in time for Christmas!

I didn’t take many photos this Christmas, but it was my all-time favourite holiday season.

Mae had her Christmas recital! That’s back here.

We’re ending the year with a slumber party for the girls here at the house. Happy New year!

DECEMBER PAINTINGS

Typically I include our homeschool work in my monthly round-up, but December became pretty full, so this is a separate post for a few of their paintings I particularly liked. The rest of their work is filed away. They typically do a verse painting a day, and we did quite a few on people involved with Christmas.

Mae’s St. Nicholas is the title photo and Rae’s is the one just above. Mae wrote facts on the back of hers. Rae wandered off somewhere. I believe hers has a word and a half completed. Her painting is pretty sweet though. Really diggin’ the square noses all of her portraits have lately.

Mae wants to write in cursive. She is getting pretty good! Usually, an easy tell as to whos work is whos. Mary is so happy!

Rae’s Jesus is sending off a John the Baptist vibe. Love it.

Mae got fancy with her illustrations.

Check out that thatch roof, ya’ll! Not how it would’ve been, I’m sure, but she’s shading!

“ENVENTURING”

Anytime they’re outside Mae calls it adventuring, or “enventuring.” Today we went enventuring.

The girls discovered it was warm again today (When will it get cold??). They packed their backpacks with notebooks, snacks, water bottles, and tupperware for “collecting nature,” then ran up to me and shouted, “Can we go to the park!?” Who could say no…

We lasted at the table just long enough to unpack everything they brought, ooh and ahh at the view, and eat one apple and one orange. Then, Momma got cold so we had to move along into the woods. My favorite part.

Ugh. That smile says it all, doesn’t it? She is at her best out of doors.

Really, who isn’t?

Rae yelled, “Poison Ivy!” at each green thing we passed. It’s not that warm here…

She also stole some moss from the State Park. Oops. It was a gift for me since moss is my favorite (and we didn’t get caught!), so, I’m gonna let it slide.

We didn’t’ find any antlers, cool rocks, bugs, or mushrooms, but as you can see, they didn’t seem to care.

Notice Rae’s backpack bum? We laughed pretty hard about that throughout our hike.

Contraband.

Hope its warm tomorrow so we can do this all over again. AND! since I’m apparently a whimp, I’ll bring a bigger coat so they can stay longer without having to hear Momma gripe.