VIKINGS

Just as we began this project, some other moms I follow on Instagram posted photos of dragon bread their kids had made. Well, we just had to make some.

I wasn’t happy with the dough we used, but have since found this recipe we will try another day. It tasted and baked fine, it just wasn’t easy to mold.

The girls made clothespin dragons whose wings flap as you open and close the pin.

Viking related books the girls enjoyed:

Elska (Horse Diaries series)
The Viking News
Leif the Lucky

I have too many grand ideas when it comes to themed lessons. Thankfully, Zack also has a habit of dreaming big and graciously helps me with any and all ideas I wish to see through. Like this longhouse.

I had planned for the girls and me to make this at home, like all of our other clay projects, but this needed a mind that understood the ins and outs of how clay sets and the best techniques to use. I wanted this to be both purposeful and last a long time. I designed it to be a candle holder and I’m pretty sure it will look perfect on the school table come Christmas time.

Zack ended up doing ninety-nine point nine percent of the longhouse project. It was a bit too much for the kids on account’a hot glue and dedicate fake moss being the main necessities when it came to aesthetics.

It worked out though because Zack seemed to have fun making it (like, a lot of fun!). It’s not often he gets to create just for the joy of it anymore (although, technically, this was a request he completed for me).

We made leather shoes. (The tutorials are here and here)

Mae says they are “So comfy!” with or without socks.

We also did a ton of research on the internet and read bits from various history books we have around the house.

Some sites we liked include:

This interactive one.
Vikings in a Nutshell via Youtube.
Viking beliefs – pre-Christianity (although I’m not sure they were doing it right…)
Some geography-related composers – Edvard Grieg from Norway and Niels Gade from Denmark.

We may make this Kubb set and learn the game, but I didn’t get around to it before I fully exhausted myself with Viking biz. (Exhausted from enjoying so fully). It is also for sale on Amazon, but that’s kinda cheating and Mae would feel jipped out of a sweet whittling opportunity.

We’re going to take a slight history break and study Abraham again for a little bit. But then, in November we will begin relearning about kings, queens, and medieval times – as well as current monarchy situations around the world. But, I’ma drag those lessons out for a couple of months and pace myself…if I can.

DEAR MAE: YOU AT NINE

Dear Mae,

Today you are nine. Nine! Boy that number suddenly sounds mighty big.

Not nearly as large as the “thirty-two” my mom will hear later this month, but to me, nine sounds major…and really fun!

Here are some things you are currently ‘into’ :

Irish music (their classic folk songs & The Cranberries)

History is still your favorite subject (mine too!). So much so, you have requested we cover some sort of history every day.

Your favorite historical figure is still Abraham Lincoln. You keep a rotation of biographies on Abe by your bed and read them most nights when you’re not quite as tired as Mom would like you to be. (Also, you have a favorite historical figure!)

You have really become interested in reading and we have started a book club for just the two of us. If we’ve dropped this habit, let’s pick it back up again, OK?

Halloween is coming up. I’ve never cared for the holiday. In fact his year I decided we were going to skip the hoopla all together. Your enthusiasm (and constant pleading) got me to change my mind and for the first time in my life, I am genuinely enjoying that part of fall and have even gone so far as to bring candy into the house. You’re very persuasive. (P.S. – I really like your costume choice this year!)

Full House. Good Gracious. You are SO VERY into Full House. You are currently emersed in the final season and will surely have completed the series in the next week or two. You’re deeply invested in each character’s fictional life. It’s adorable to witness. You have even inserted the phrase, “Duh” into your vocabulary. You use it well.

You still love to dance and are the best/funniest dancer. Geez, I really dig your humor.

You D R E A D brushing your hair. I usually don’t make you, but when I do, you take the news like a champ…I kid. You sigh quite loudly, then slowly drag your feet over to the bathroom and finish the dreadful task by chucking the brush and running out of the room while laughing maniacally. You’re a real treat.  

You have become a terrific cook/baker over the past year. Last week you made the BEST pancakes I’ve ever had! You want to cook every meal every day. I’ll try and get better about letting you.

You adore all of your pets and can think of a handful of others you’d like to have. A bird (life long dream), a guinea pig, hedgehog. sheep, and the holy grail of pets – a horse! I hope you get your horse someday.

You are thoughtful. You are empathetic. You are generous. You are sensitive and easily discouraged. You are quick to hug. You are still always up for snuggles (the best!). You are a no-fuss kind of human and the first to smother others in compliments.

I miss you the moment you leave the room. I can’t imagine life without you.

I never tired of looking at you, holding you, hearing your voice – your laughter, feeling your hand in mine, or learning what’s on your mind.

Happy Birthday, Scrambled Egg!

I love you,

Yer Ma.

ELWOOD P.

Our newest cat has had more names than any other animal in the history of animals. S’more. Marshmallow. Toasted Marshmallow. Cinnamon. Pumpkin. Punkin. Weasley. Wonwon (Ron-Ron).

So, we chose a name, Elwood P. (to stick with our Jimmy Stewart theme) and it must stay. Soley for my sanity.

I wasn’t sure about keeping this cat around because it may cause my dearest George or our other cats to no longer be around. So far they still call our house their home. Elwood is not allowed in the house (he isn’t fixed), and maybe that helps. He is so so so lovey. He produces nonstop purrs and leg rubs and will let you pet and hold him forever.

He stays right beside us when we are outside so our other cats have stopped doing so. Big bummer as we love our cats hanging around us wherever we go. Just knowing a cat thinks you’re worthy of their attention is an incredible feeling.
*It’s how Maybe (our dog) seems to feel when I give her undivided attention.

Thankfully Bailey and Katie still hang about indoors all day every day.

Cats are so great. Even with all of the new drama being drawn up because of Elwood, it’s nice having another cat to hang out with. Miss Maybe even seems to think so – but she enjoys the cat drama a bit too much. Haha.

LATELY: SEPTEMBER 2019

September was so wonderful.

The best part has to be the amount of time we have spent with Zack. He has been so busy this past year. He is carving out more and more time for home and we are so thrilled.

I’m not sure if I have written about it here, but over the summer, Rae brought back her pixie cut. She is so so happy about her fresh hair I think it should be documented.

Shelling eggs she boiled.
Making Chicken and Dumplings.

The girls have become so at home in the kitchen! This semester we are having them each cook full meals solo! Depending on the meal I will hover, but they are getting to know recipes and techniques so quickly.

Found a very cool rock at the lake.
My favorite restaurant has become my children’s favorite! Woot!

Zack had to drive three hours south to pick up clay for work. We took the opportunity to take the girls to Springfield – where Mae was born. We haven’t been in two or three years.

I believe it was my favorite visit to the town. Maybe because our girls were old enough to enjoy it?

Some of our favorite places were no longer there but we still managed to feel overwhelmed with nostalgia!

The girls were able to spend time with other kids last weekend at a friend’s birthday party. They are still talking about it. I think I need to get some friends together on a regular basis.

Reading Sarah, Plain and Tall.

The girls have a ‘required’ hour of daily independent reading. As a result, they are always reading. I especially adore when Mae shows up to read to me while I cook, clean, or drive to the grocery store.

Amelia usually comes up and asks me to stop whatever I am up to and go snuggle somewhere while she reads to me.

I am loving this season of mothering.

I wrote two posts about our schooling back here and here – but I believe the reading and cooking should be included! This is going to be such a monumental year where their (and my) growth is concerned, I can tell…

OUTDOOR SCHOOL: SEPTEMBER 2019

We already spend quite a bit outside, but this year we are attempting to be outside for several hours a day together, no matter the weather. At the very least, half an hour on the coldest of days.

We began the official ‘everyday’ goal in September but got out and about plenty in August.

We have been enjoying walks/bike rides along various bike trails here in town.

This, I believe will be what out outdoor time involves on the rainy and snowy days.

We also go up to our favorite park a couple times a week. We often have a picnic lunch at the lookout spot or under a tree by the water. Afterward, we spend about an hour walking around the spring and the river. It stays cool by the water, but not so much at the playground. So, if it is not too hot, they will spend the last hour swinging and sliding and making up new games.

Looking for crawdads and tadpoles.

We spent three entire days swimming in the river. Some days got really hot, so we took advantage of having the place to ourselves, save a couple of other homeschooling families on one of the days.

Another one of our favorite spots for wandering, reading, and painting has been the lake in town.

So many cool critters – and it is another cool spot on a hot day!

Looking for acorn caps to send down the river.

Some more photos from the park.

The girls also enjoyed a field trip to the zoo, and nearly had the place all to themselves.

There were many other breakfasts, lunches, and evening spent outside left unphotographed. Our time outside and freedom to go where we want, when we want has made all the difference in our moods. I hope we can keep it up!

SCHOOL: AUGUST & SEPTEMBER 2019

These past two months have been SO incredible, especially in regards to our schooling. I have been enjoying this year (the first two months of it) more than any other time in our homeschooling past, which gives me so much hope for every year beyond this one.

Not that they are accomplishing any more or less than before. We have found a good rhythm, and we are enjoying being together – and somehow have avoided becoming overwhelmed (by design).

Mae practicing her spelling words.
Wearing Momma’s glasses while she fills in her Thankful journal.

The results of drawing with Momma’s notsogreat vision were adorable and made her laugh so hard she couldn’t breathe.

We started the school year with Zack teaching (as he learned along side her) how to build a motherboard. She was in her element. She’ll take any excuse to take something apart and put something together. She’s a tinker like her daddy.

Poetry is still their favorite copy work. We haven’t had any biographies yet, but they will in October.

Cardboard Parthenon with extraordinary Adventure Time detailing.

We spent a full month (or more?) studying Greece. They did a lot of art studies, crafts, larger-scale projects – like the Parthenon, above – they studied how the Greeks began as a nation as well as how their discoveries have helped us today. We read about some of their myths, gods, about the Odyssey, Illiad, Troy, and Alexander the Great.

Here are some of the short videos they watched to tied certain lessons together:

What did the Greeks do for us?

How Can I Recognize Ancient Greek Architecture?

Listening to The Horse and His Boy.

We enjoyed reading several books, including The Horse and His Boy as we continue weaving the Narnia series among our other read alouds. While that is one of my top three Narnia books, we didn’t do a large project to go with it as we did with previous books.

Mae teaching Rae

The girls each picked a skill they want to focus on daily (Monday through Friday).

Mae picked archery and Rae picked drawing techniques. Right now, Mae practices an hour a day and Rae is working with me on drawing faces. We have done the face as a whole and are now focusing on the eyes.

Completed Ninjago dragon.

Rae has really increased her interest in Legos over the past couple of months. You’ll often find her building as we do lessons that only require listening and verbal narration.

We have always done some form of art every day, but this year we have begun studying famous artists and their work as well as How to Study Art.

We have been posing for portraits and taking ourselves out into the world for landscapes.

On this particular day, we go to witness a bald eagle fly overhead, swoop down, catch a fish and observed it as it landed and ate the fish! Amelia even included the bird in her painting (you can see it there in the final image.).

Out to lunch after seeing the play, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day.

The girls also went on two field trips – one with Mom to the zoo and one with Mom AND Dad to see a play and we took them out to lunch.

ZOO FIELD TRIP

A week or so ago, I had a book club meeting and had to bring the girls to Saint Louis with me, so we -in our usual fashion- tried to make the most of our required travel. We left that morning and drove the two hours north to the zoo.

We left at lunchtime for my mom’s house (an hour west of the zoo) and spent the afternoon with my parents before I had to drop them off with Zack’s mom and head to bookclub. It was a big day! We also spent the night, since Zack was busy with something all day Saturday and we wouldn’t see him anyway.

It was a perfect day to walk around the zoo! It was just us, a few older couples, and two classes on a field trip. Even the parking lots were empty when we arrived. So quiet!

You may notice in some photos that Rae is not wearing shoes…welp, she wore the wrong shoes and developed a blister before we made it into the zoo. oye.

So, she walked barefoot like the ferrel homeschooled child she very well may actually be…

Rae took most of the photos I decided to post of the animals. She really liked that blue-black bird. It posed quite nicely for her until she began to walk up to it.

The orangutans ( mom and her child) walked over to the window as we showed up and played hide-and-seek with each other! The animals were on their a-game for us that day!

The cheetahs and hyenas were even out! A once every ten years occurrence, in my experience!

The cheetah walked out just for us (or so I think) and was gone again before anyone else turned the corner.

The hyenas just stared us down and thoroughly looked as though they desired to eat each and every onlooker.

Rae found a little seat within a rock ledge and decided it needed to be scaled for a posed photograph.

Rae’s favorite animal was not out and about, so here she is next to the sign.

She sure is cute.

Can you spot the sea lion? It just bobbed like that for so long!! Maybe it was sleeping?

We didn’t get to visit as much as we would’ve liked too, but we did see a ton of flamingoes really close and the girls didn’t have to wait for other kids to finish using the giant misting fans. Ha.

JULY 2019 SUMMED UP

Zack’s summer could be wrapped up with one word – WORK. But he did have five days off at the beginning of July, which we spent in Alabama. He got back from North Carolina with two days to spare before he starts back for the fall semester. Woof.

The girls and I tried to stay busy while he is away. The day he left for Charlotte, we left home to stay with his momma. We spent ten days in the city, filling our time with The Magic House, Costco, the Science Center, The Muny, the pool, shopping, the Loop,  playgrounds, and long walks and movie nights.

When we got back home, we spent the next three weeks, keeping up with the lawn and pets and housework. We did some more swimming, played games and completed a puzzle, read many books and watched many movies. We visited friends on the weekends (some back in the city) and tried to relax and enjoy our home. We stayed up until midnight most nights and enjoyed breakfast on the porch most mornings.

It has been such a nice time having my girls all to myself, but we missed Zack too much! He just got home! He is definitely taking the semester off from side jobs with the hope that we get some quality time with him this year!

LATELY : : JUNE 2019 PART ONE

June left us all feeling very content. The final month of spring remained, for the most part, cool and rainy. We skipped any formal schooling and just went where our days happened to take us. July has been far busier, so reviewing our June has been so refreshing.

Let’s see how you feel about it…

We had our somewhat-monthly family game night. We need to have another real soon!

Zack and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary with the girls swimming at the Shut-Ins and camping.

We actually got to see Zack for a few days here and there, between teaching summer school, side jobs, traveling to Saint Louis many weekends, and having company over, we really had to take advantage whenever he was home. Usually, that just called for a movie night, or a quick meal out, visiting a quiet part of the river and enjoy the solitude…together, or the ever boring grocery shopping.

OH! We also took the girls to our first Drive-In movie. They’re finally old enough to be fully alert that late at night. We got to see Toy Story 4 and the newest X-Men film. It was a perfect night for it. It was such a lovely family date night.

Pity smile.

We had our niece and nephew over for a weekend. For the girls, it involved plenty of chicken chasing and they made about one hundred bath bombs.

June held onto the chilly weather and brought blackberries!

The girls spent hours upon hours building with Legos. Rae’s favorite project was a large scale Ninjago dragon.

Dolls and Barbies held most of their attention. I love watching them play so well together for hours upon hours.

We had a pizza picnic one afternoon at the park. They gave us pepperoni instead of cheese. Mae doesn’t eat meat…whomp whomp. But it was fun and we had fun conversations before they ran off and played.

We only made it to the pool once. I’m hoping we make it back a few more times before July ends.

We’re finding carrots in the most random places this year.

The last week of June brought the sun. We spent a little time outside. My favorite times were when it was not quite too hot and we could enjoy breakfast outside. We’d also read a book aloud – we began with Peter Pan and moved on to Little House in the Big Woods.

Miss Maybe donned a cone most of the month for sores on her leg and tail. She hated it. BUT! To cheer herself up, she dug herself a nice big pit under the porch and would often lay there for hours at a time. For the first time, she didn’t need us to accompany her outside!

Mae made a vegetarian wonton soup completely independently.

Of course, I watched her, but she didn’t need my help at all. Our 2019-2020 school year will involve many cooking lessons and I think both girls are ready for some harder recipes. It’s going to be a fun year!

Mae received a lovely letter from her overseas pen pal. She was SO SO happy!!

Her friend also sent along a treat – a fossil from Northern France.

I hope they can meet someday when they’re older.

Rae always goes through phases with favorite books. Right now, her favorites include an animal encyclopedia, Today by Julie Morstad, and the Pigeon/Elephant and Piggie books.

These photos were taken when we were taking our niece and nephew home. I sat in the back with Rae. We looked at books, but I spent most of the time resting my head in her lap while she stroked my hair in the hopes I would feel less car sick. She is such a sweetie!

The girls also developed a new love for Sumo wrestling, filled my phone with selfies, decided that they should be horseless cowless cowgirls, and gifted me even more gorgeous portraits of myself.

I hope your June was just as lovely – or better yet, even more lovely!