SCHOOL IN FEBRUARY : : PART ONE

As I wrote the monthly school post, I noticed it was way too long – twice as long as my normal posts! Can you imagine?!

SO. I am going to break it up this month into two posts – for myself, and anyone else who cares to keep up with this sort of thing.

This one is solely about geography, and for geography, we began learning about Egypt through our Little Passports subscription! It has always been one of Penelope’s favorite places.

Below are some lessons we tied into our study.

A poem from Eric Carle’s Animals Animals.

“Penelope’s Room in hieroglyphics. She plans on hanging this in her completed new room – when that day comes.

Model Magic made an appearance. Mae created a Great Sphinx of Giza replica (*with nose*).

It turned into a good color mixing lesson as well. We color the white with Crayola washable markers – Zack’s instructions – and blend it in by squishing and kneading, adding more color to make it darker if needed. She used brown, which has a lot of red in it, so she knew to add green to balance it out and make it more tan than pink. She also used a bit of yellow.

Little Passports also sent an excavation kit (shaped like a pyramid) that housed a mummy toy and a tiny bust of a pharaoh.

With LP, came a recipe for Aish Baladi – tiny whole wheat bread loaves – which they compared to pita bread. We learned Aish means life in Egyptian Arabic. They forgot to flatten them before they let them rise – well, I suppose another version is I forgot to remind them…but they baked perfectly.

Our Story of the World history lessons just so happened to line up with our LP kit this month, and we relearned in greater detail about pharaohs, mummies, pyramids, and Joseph.

Next month, we’ll learn about Australia through Little Passports and Ireland, on our own, for St. Pat’s Day.

WEATHER AND THE CAT

Zack is off for his second “ice day” this week! It’s so great having him around!

In honor of such an oddly scheduled week, I thought I’d take the opportunity to dump a load of photos off into a weather-related post.

We had a warm day followed directly by a very cold day. Not so unusual for where we live, but I took photos, so into a post the statement goes…

During the snow/ice storm, we irresponsibly took the girls thirty miles away to watch Lego Movie 2, The Second Part. There were a couple other (literally, two) crazies who also took their kids to the theater that night.

The snow day also allowed for plenty of time to build and build with Legos (which they’re continuing as I type this, days later).

…and they played in the snow.

They came back with the sweetest rosy cheeks and noses.

(we also still had school on these days.)

Katie has dubbed herself an outside cat. We’ve tried bribing and force (on the below freezing nights) and always kennel Maybe before inviting her in. Nothing works.

As a result, she is always underfoot when we walk outside and we often find her sitting just outside the door looking in. I hope it gets warm soon so we can spend plenty of time with her! (But, the snow is lovely.)

VALENTINES 2019

We spent the better part of an afternoon making each other valentines…and one invite for Dad, who didn’t make it, ’cause he was at work (so we brought him lunch). He set up a hunt for us that morning that led to treats!

LATELY : : JANUARY 2018

We started the new year (Day one. Right after breakfast.) with a cold weather hike. Refreshing, but really just made us all eager for the middle months of the year…

We attended our monthly game night with our favorite folks and this time it fell on Lolo’s birthday! She’s FIVE now!

That same weekend, I got some time to catch up with the most fabulous of ladies, our very own Aunt Kathy. She’s so cool. AND, Morty, who I always call Marty. Sorry, bud.

We went to Menards and Walmart too many times. But, our home renovations are moving along nicely!

 

Mae had her final appointment for her foot issues and we took the chance to spend a couple days in St. Peters with my mother-in-law. We read books aloud at Barnes and Noble, found Mae a new coat and dresses for Ben’s wedding. Birds and stones and whatnot…

We traveled to Alabama for Ben’s wedding – where they got to wear those new dresses and bond with their new cousins.

Zack went on his annual cold weather float with two of his all-time favorite people while we were up in St. Peters.

If it’s possible, I believe Miss Maybe became more of a momma’s girl and sadly, (sadly!) less of a cat lover. Not thrilled about that last bit. (Not thrilled!)

We had several snow falls and it was mega cold with days where the air felt like knives. Thankfully, the girls and I can stay indoors where it is warm, but often they would brave the cold for the sake of getting outside more days than not.

Yesterday, public school was actually closed due to cold temperatures. As usual, this man spent his day off at work, gettin’ stuff done.

I am so glad January is over if for no other reason than I can now say, we have finished one month of winter and spring is that much closer which means summer is that much closer and I’m officially getting ahead of myself.

I hope January treated you all well – if you’re interested, you should check out last January! Zack and Rae wore very different hairstyles and our house layout had yet to change! So much change is just one year.

SCHOOL IN JANUARY

We started out our semester buying a new chair for each of them (and more Lego storage)

We have quite a bit of time to make up for after last semester – at least where Penelope’s logged hours are concerned – so we wasted no time jumping right on in.

The girls both completed an hour a week of piano lessons. I hope to get that up to at least two hours a week soon.

Katie (our cat) left a Blue Jay for us so, naturally, we spent the better part of an afternoon studying about them. We used various books we have here at the house, as well as hearing their call and reading John Audubon’s journal here.

…and we buried it in a sunny spot, as we do to all dead animals our cats leave for us.

We all enjoy world history, so within the last year / year and a half, the girls and I have read through the Story of the World series (Vol. 1-3) as chapter books, popping in on topics as they pertain to our lessons. Now that the girls are older (mind you, they are six and eight., not ‘old’ by any means), we are starting at the beginning once again, this time we will include projects and expand our reading using other resources along the way.

Our first topic was the first nomads and the first farmers. They’ve always been one of Mae’s favorite people to learn about.

We watched Primitive Technology on many lunch breaks. We also watched Season 3, episodes 5 & 6 of Tales by Light on Netflix about the Australian aboriginal culture. The girls practiced building a tiny primitive hut (based on one built by the Primitive Technology guy) and built a model of the first farmer’s irrigation situation – minus a shaduf. They plan on building a slightly larger model of that.

(Snow and rain have stopped construction, but she will finish the hut when the weather allows.)

Mae set up a campfire scene after watching Tales by Light. They “cooked” apples, danced, and pretended to nap when the fire died out.

Sunset by the beach, by Mae

The night sky through a crack in a canyon, by Rae

Last month’s Little Passports country was France. We didn’t have time to study it much, so we extended it over into January.

We’ve begun cooking our way through In the French Kitchen with Kids cookbook – and boy is it delicious! Crepes so far are their favorite. I hope to cook every item in there before the semester is over.

The girls each did a report and portrait of Oscar-Claude Monet. They also did their own painting in his painting style. They chose landscape images from the internet they liked and spent the entire month painting it – typically for three or more hours at a time. – BUT- the girls were completely annoyed with the technique, so when they had nearly given up (having one week left to finish them) I told Mae she could paint hers in her own style.

They’re now seeing Monet everywhere – like in this sunset, spotted by Mae.

During read-aloud time (where they listen to me read to them or an audiobook) they chose to play with Mad Matter sand, playdough, Legos, weave on the lap loom or worked on their Monet paintings.

On not very blustery days we spent as much time as we could outside. On a whim one morning we went fishing at the lake (those shorts are a lie – it was pretty unbearable) and on a separate whim, we drove down the road to the river just to walk around and skip rocks.

Now that both girls are reading, we spent, I would say, the majority of our school days reading. I need to focus on spelling, but for now, they are becoming incredible readers, so I’m going to see how their writing improves through reading.

And finally, in their eagerness for spring (always trying to savor each season while impatiently dreaming of the next one), they are beginning to get things moving in the garden department. Sprouting onions, scouting out where the strawberries should go and choosing which flowers they will plant this year. I’m still trying to figure out which lessons we should study in regards to plant life when the time comes. We’ve studied worms, plant companions, and decomposition in past years.

THE ONE IN WHICH BENJAMIN GETS MARRIED

My younger brother, Ben, got married last Saturday!! My parents took a little road trip with us down to Alabama for the weekend.

Here are some photos from our time there – minus any photos of the actual couple. Ha. Sorry, all who are instantly disappointed. I’m going to let them post their photos first.

Ben stayed with Zack, the girls, and I at Elizabeth’s house (My parent’s stayed at Ben’s house with my aunt and uncle.)

Gorgeous Fiero greeted us with an overwhelming wave of enthusiasm. It was almost too much love to digest at one time.

Ben got plenty of time with his BFF (his term, not mine). Here they are cooking supper for us on the first night.

^ Getting ready on the morning of the wedding ^

I took zero photographs with my DSLR. I didn’t want to be an annoyance, but now I’m kicking myself.

Beautiful ladies waiting to go to the church!

Rae got her momma’s chin and Miss Mae inherited my stance.

The girls have two new cousins!! Instant best friends!

Truly, I still can’t believe it. They all act as though they’ve known each other their entire (very short) lives.

The day after the wedding, my aunt and uncle stuck around with us to paint and clean Ben’s house for him, so it would be ohso nice for them when they got back from their honeymoon.

My aunt and uncle made the weekend so much fun. They’re both so funny and easy to be around. (and generous with their hoodies and cat videos!)

The girls were so patient and helpful all weekend long. Before we left on our long treck back to Saint Louis, my dad and I took the girls to the park and out to eat – just the four of us. That’s a rare combination of people and I believe we need to hang out like that more often!

We slept at my parent’s house for a few hours before sitting in the car for a further two hours back to our town. We not only drove through snow and ice starting in Birmingham, Alabama, but we came home to fresh snowfall, so Zack freshened up our windshield. Very exciting memory…

LATELY : : DECEMBER 2018

As each new month begins, I think ‘this is flying by and we’ve barely done a thing!’ Then as I fill in these posts of mine throughout the month I realize we’re doing plenty and each month is filled with so much goodness.

I wrote about our final three weeks with our cousins back here.

Mae began December by spending a couple hours getting letters together for all of her penpals – including an e-mail to Grandma! She is getting pretty good at typing and knowing where the keys are.

She also received letters from most of her penpals!

Mae has been my number one helper. (Rae is mega helpful too, Mae is just constantly on the lookout for ways to help us all.)

I mentioned in the post about the boys that we didn’t do much in the way of structured learning this month. Mae did, however, do a report and portrait on George Bush Sr. and the girls began their study of France (via Little Passports) by making a couple sculptures of monuments. More will be made by the time they are done studying the country at the end of January, ’cause Model Magic is fun!

Dweebs.

^ We were gone so often. One afternoon as I got ready to leave with the girls, Maybe darted out the door and jumped into the van. She was sick of being home alone.

It took so much effort to get her out of the van and into the house! I felt awful. She would’ve been sad sitting alone in the car for so long though.

I took her out with me the next day to pick up the girls from play practice to make up for this giant jab to her heart.

We love you, Maybe!

She did so great on our trip to Charlotte. I believe she was just so happy to be with us. She slept the entire time in the car and never once complained.

We spent a good amount of our time in Zack’s classroom, helping (trying to help) him with the insane abundance of projects he had to complete before the winter break.

On one of Mae’s dance nights, we went grocery shopping and Rae picked Mae out some flowers. I couldn’t say no. She was so happy to give and Mae was so surprised. I love these girls so much it literally hurts sometimes.

We will be spending the final evening of the year at Six Flags with my sister and her family, freezing our bums off, riding rides, and enjoying fireworks!!

Our plans for the first day of 2019 involve cleaning the house (yay?), preparing plans for school on the second, and hopefully a cold weather hike with the girls!

OUR WEEK WITH SARAH

Earlier this year, Zack and I made plans to visit a childhood friend of mine and it worked out that we would be able to stay with Zack’s sister, Sarah, for the week.

Sarah is the most giving / selfless person we know. She gives one thousand percent and never expects anything in return (but she deserves way more than she gives!!). She made this trip so wonderful and far more than we expected – and we expected a lot, ’cause we know how she is! Christmas was beyond and then the generosity just kept on a’comin.

Zack caught up on sleep and did a lot of projects and enjoyed all of the fun times with us. I suppose, most importantly, was that he got to spend seven straight days with his favorite sister. That’s the only photo I got of him, so it’ll have to do…

The girls got to spend time with their cousin, Micah, for the first time ever. He went with us to Florida, but they were glued to their girl cousins.

Aunt Sarah had a 5-minute-story Christmas book set on the coffee table awaiting our arrival. The girls got a story each night before bed! She really understands the whole Christmas magic thing.

The days leading up to Christmas morning, the girls each got to open one gift. They got to spend their time playing with fresh items and, since they didn’t pack many time-passers, it really worked out well.

You can read more about our Christmas celebrating over here.

The girls also got to open a new game each day! So, we got to learn and play a fresh game E V E R Y D A Y! – and in the process, she stocked our game cabinet! (I am very excited about this!!)

We saw Mary Poppins on Christmas Eve and Spiderman on our final day.

They were both incredible!!!

THE DOGGOS!

Winchester was as chill as everrr and Zoey was more chill than I expected and! actually liked me this time around. She is normally mega jealous when I get near Zack, a.k.a. the love of her life.

Maybe got to hang out with some new faces and while I enjoyed spending time with two sweet pups. I found out the Maybe isn’t all that interested in being around fellow dogs. She did, however, get excited about hearing a cat on the television!

But she did great considering she was forced to share a house with two new dogs and seven people for an entire week.

After watching Spiderman, we went out for lunch (but all ordered breakfast) at a great diner and then the girls got to bounce around at a trampoline park! They played hard! And how ’bout that handhold up there?!? I can’t get enough of their constant hand holding.

Now, a little praise for these girls of ours…

They travel so well. We spent a total of 27 hours in the car, to and from North Carolina, and they didn’t utter a single complaint.

I really hope they keep that up forever.

On our treck home, they spent the final six hours awake and I didn’t hear them say one word. They played and read quietly. They made this trip so wonderful. Without their constant patience and kindness, I do not think all of the other grand, exciting happenings would have held the same glow within their memories.

Because of them, Zack and I came home not feeling drained from a twelve-hour car ride but instead felt well enough to get the furnace started, take the girls out for lunch and make our way through Walmart of all places so that we could have food in the house.

All of the cats seemed to have missed us. Bailey is snuggling with Maybe, and George is snuggling up next to me. The. Best.

RUHI : : DISCOVERY PLACE

My two favorite field trip destinations as a kid were to the Amish country in Winston-Salem and to the topic of the day, Charlotte’s Discovery Center. I was able to take our girls there yesterday- thanks to the suggestion of Ruhi, who enjoys this stuff as much as we do!

She joined us for day two and gave us the grand tour. I believe the two places Ruhi took us on this visit are now in the girls’ top five places they’ve ever been. You can see our drive through the Lazy 5 back here.)

There is an echo scenario just outside the building, It is the first clue that you’re about to be involved with an educational experience unlike most. You can kind of see the set up behind the girls in the first photo. They spent a good 15 minutes on this and we had to drag the girls indoors when it was time to get tickets.

The first section we came upon allowed you to build using thin blocks. They also had the most incredible displays of monuments made from the same sticks. (not pictured is the Eiffel Tower) – The kid up there had just knocked down a tower of some sort but quickly began cleaning it up. The DC was impeccably clean.

Creating wind and seeing the reactions!

The girls didn’t hesitate to lie on a bed of nails. It looked pretty soothing.

^ using her strength the pull herself up. She did awesome despite sitting in the “harder” seat. I think she wants us to put one of these in our house.

We made it to a viewing of a science experiment involving liquid nitrogen! Mae was quick to volunteer for all the opportunities to do so. She got to help demonstrate what happens when an inflated balloon is submerged in the nitrogen and what occurs when the balloon is released back into the room temperature area. (basically, snuggle then run away)

We also watched a rubber glove break up as though it was a tortilla chip and observe ice cream being made – the girls were able to eat some!

We got admission into the bug exhibit – Ruhi knew our girls are really interested / not grossed out by insects.

IT WAS SO COOL!!

I stole this from the sight: Bug Lab was created by New Zealand’s world-renowned museum Te Papa, working with five time Academy Award-winning film studio Weta Workshop. If you have the time and enjoy watching folks creating and building (we do), you should look up Weta Workshop. They had an interesting bit on Adam Savage’s Makers Space Youtube channel.

A n y w a y . . . In the photo above, the girls are climbing onto a slide that makes a ‘certain noise’ as you pass through and you become the spray the bug uses to attack other bugs. We learned that one of the main chemicals in that spray is peroxide.

The coolest rotoscope ^ ^ It looked as though bugs were flying and real frogs were jumping into real water! It was beautiful.

There were several ‘cocoons’ that housed these large displays, some were interactive, some were just lovely to look at, but there were many videos and investigative stations just outside of them.

We (Zack’s help seemed crucial in this ‘we’ I speak of) created some origami butterflies. They had a wind tube you could fly your creations in and the butterfly variety actually seemed to flutter more than soar.

Japanese honeybees are insane! Such a cool creature.

It had a rainforest area! Seriously, this place had it all. It was so humid and had I not worn a wool sweater I would’ve been in heaven.

They had several areas with very cool tropical birds that were free to fly about, but most seemed to be non-flying birds, and the girls were able to pet a large python –  which I hear, “feels like the most disgusting and awesomest thing, all at the same time!” They weren’t even a little nervous!

^ Looking at slivers of a corral. It looks so much like bone.

The girls got to pet a live Chocolate Chip Sea Star (Its official scientific nickname)!

The fish were all gorgeous, but I really enjoyed observing the various corral and enmities. They had so many live varieties.

– and the jellyfish! They were pretty fantastic (and near impossible to photograph with a cell phone!)

The final stop was a water-play area (I didn’t take any photos). If Rae wasn’t so tired, I bet she could’ve stayed there for another hour, but she was sleepy and it was closing time.

Before heading back to Sarah’s, we drove around the city so I could get a good look and soak it all in. It was just the right time of day. Still bright out, but all of the lights were turning on. The lingering Christmas decor was also a plus.

I recognized only that building above and the Discovery Center. I’m pretty sure the last time I did a decent drive through the city was before Y2K, so with good reason, I remembered very little.

 

Thanks so much for making time for us, Ruhi!!