We started learning about Ireland, the Irish people, and the who and why behind the holiday the day before Valentines Day.

We interweaved lessons between our regular academics, and I believe, after learning about space and the planets in this way as well, it will become a staple way of teaching / learning for us.

^ Patrick’s way of symbolizing the Trinity ^

We learned about Leprechauns first. I learned a lot of new things, which I did not expect.

Mae also ended St. Pat’s Day by independently building a leprechaun trap. She’s so creative!

Finn McCoul and the Giant’s Causeway. I hope we get to go someday!!

We discovered the meaning behind the flag, and what it previously looked like (Not featured here), and learned about Patrick’s interesting roller coaster of a  life.

We read, easily, twenty books, which included both chapter books and short stories.

So many crafts. Pudding cups into hats. this was a lastminute10:00thenightbeforetheholiday decision. Mom win.

We also watched several Irish movies, including re-watching two of our favorites – The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, which we own and watch throughout the year.

Green pancakes, how original… with baked green apples and honey on top.

It’s blurry, I know, but I meeeean-ugh!

Hands propped accordingly (I don’t pray this way, yet she has somehow learned it) Chapter books close at hand.

Rae forcing her eyes closed, because – Rae. Ha! Ants doth overflow from thy pants, sweet sweet Rae.

Mae made her first mess. Ever. It was just a non-sticky piece of pancake, but us mere mortals certainly got a bit puffed up over the incident. Rae’s face shows no sympathy. I’m sure you didn’t expect there to be.

I cooked this for supper the day of. SO GOOD! But really, sausage, cabbage, onions, and bacon can never be a bad decision in my book – together or separate. Mmmm.

SO MUCH Irish folk music ( and attempts at the modern stuff  – though we didn’t branch far from out favorites ) played throughout the month, and lots of little river dances / clogging / jigging? I have no idea what the proper thing to call it is – (The girls, btw – NOT ME! Yikes!)

Until next year, Ireland. 💚


I’m grateful my girls have a life that can involve exploring and gettin’ messy, and a life that is built on spontaneity!

Look it! ^^ She’s becoming brave and not so anti-dirt!

Though she has yet to catch a fish, she is in her element when she fishes.

If I can’t have an ocean, I’ma pretend the endless wide mud puddles that surround us are the salty sea. Trading Gulls for “Merican Eagles” and hot soft white sand for cold brown rocks. I think its working.

Cup of worms, and conversation.

The wind was brutal, so we ate in the car. We had PB and honey sandwiches and general store sodas. They squealed so loud when I pulled up to the store.

My eyes rival Gollum, I know. It was the least awkward photo of the three of us.  Whaddayagannado.

Tasting each other’s beverage choices. They preferred their own.

We stopped on the way home for a walk through the woods. Definitely my favorite part of the day, Mae was the leader. Rae and I followed. We found several rabbit holes, a few deer, and no one ran into a thorn bush!

Its been so nice to get out of the house after nearly a month of colds, poison ivy, bad weather, and a handful of other obstacles.


My younger brother, Ben, came to visit us for four days over the holiday. Our plan was originally to meet up in Tennessee and camp, but we chickened out when the temperatures here dropped to below freezing at night.

Why we ended up congregating around our random platform, I have no idea – but four out of five kids are smiling, so its a keeper!

Their love for each other is something we should all aspire to obtain at least once in life.

My parents and my sister’s family came down New Years day (Ben’s last day), to see him for a bit.

Penelope’s one request for Ben’s visit was to go fishing with him. It didn’t work out for them to go just the two of them because…well, because we wanted to go too! It was so cold. So so cold.

Ben recently traded in his small car for a large truck, upgrading his leg room significantly (He had his seat pushed all the way back, so I had to relive my childhood and sit in the front-middle, ohiguessyoucancometoo seat. Tiny hiney for the win!)

We’re movie people. We don’t have cable, or an antenna – which is okay because we’re movie people. Ben is a movie guy. We like Ben. He got to watch some new-to-him movies while he visited – one of which was The Force Awakens. We have every word memorized. He loved it – Almost as much as the four year old beauty beside him. She still hangs on every word.

We couldn’t have asked for a better way to ring in the New Year, than spending it with my brother.

Howsabout you come on over next year, Joseph???


In preparation for writing this letter I did something different. I asked each of you what you like about the other, just to see where you’re at in your relationship.


“What do you like about Rae?”

“I like her because she kisses me a lot.”

It should be noted, future Rae, that Daddy and I have to tackle you, smother you with our faces pressed firmly against your face, and force the love from your lips, which at this point are now tucked tightly behind your teeth.

“What do you like about Mae?”

“I like … ummm … ummm … hugging her?”

Close enough to a good answer as I think we’re going to get. I hope you’re BFFs forever.






Mae has been asking for us to take her ice skating since she was three years old, and so I finally got my act together and made her dreams come true!

Since her and I have dreamed and schemed about how to make it as magical as possible for weeks, the plan was for me to take her out on the ice. On our way to the rink, however, Zack asked if he could take her. His teaching skills are unmatched, and I really don’t wish to relive the broken bum incident of 2009, so I pushed my mother-daughter bonding fantasies aside for the good of my bum and his father-daughter bonding fantasies.

We began the evening taking her out for whatever supper her heart could dream up. McDonalds “chicken” and strawberry pie. To the moon, Mae!

I reluctantly agreed. After we finished our meal, we grabbed the girls some hot chocolate and pie for the road and headed for the rink.

I’m sure her tummy was full of butterflies!

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^ Look at that anticipation!!  Makes me so happy! ^

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The thrill of wobbling on skates for the first time, it’s up there with wobbling in toddler heels for the first time.


The ice is in her sights!!!


Two seconds on the ice later … still enthusiastic about the outcome of the evening!!

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HE DIDN’T FALL DOWN ONCE! Clearly he was the right choice.

Look how good she’s doing!

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Rae and I walked around (it was at an outside mall, and only 15ºF). She picked out her gift for Mae at the ever never annoying, Claire’s. (She chose perfectly!)

Next, we strolled back up to the rink to sit around the fire pit they had set up, but the smoke kept following Rae. I grabbed the iPad from the car, and sat down at a picnic table. Naturally in this moment she had to pee and, naturally, the bathroom was clear on the other end of the mall.

Enter, Von Maur.

I felt like Kevin McCallister as he entered the Plaza Hotel. As if they were sure to think I stole something walking into the store. But, they didn’t, and they were terrific.

Rae decided she wanted to stay in the store (who wouldn’t??) so we cautiously made our way through this Christmas wonderland of $30 socks and other various donttouchthat! items.

We went up and down (and up and down) the escalator, sat and watched the pianist as he played Christmas tunes to perfection. Then we went up the escalator, watched him from above, then back down the escalator so she could tell him, “Hi” and stare as he asked her question after question about Christmas.

By then it was time to head back to Mae. We arrived just as they were turning in their skates.

Mae was beaming! I hope she remembers that night forever.



I’ve let the blog go, once again, and now I’m playing catch up just before we begin our Christmas shtuff.

So, first things first, Penelope became a Christian last Sunday (December 4th, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. -TMI?) snuggled up on the couch with Zack and I, just after our morning devotional.

She is actually the same age Zack was when he became a Christian, and he too was at home with his momma.

She made her first (all of our first) pineapple upside down cake to celebrate the glorious occasion!

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A day of homeschooling back before Thanksgiving, documented with the intension of it being its own post. Some days are more full than others – this happened to be a full morning.

The girls did some holiday themed vocabulary, building (they could build all day) while I prepared a lesson, a lesson on music notes (via Khan Academy, which we use A LOT for all sorts of topics), an unfiltered lecture on the “why” of Thanksgiving and a painting to go along with it.

By the looks of that first photo, we also did some crocheting, ABC practice for Rae, and 10 minute math for Mae.


We spent Thanksgiving afternoon at Zack’s Aunt Teresa’s house (she’s in the back there, smooching on Gage). It was certainly an evening well spent!

We usually visit my family in Alabama of head up to my mother-in-law’s in St. Louis. It was nice to just drive up the road this year! Zack didn’t even bother brushing his hair! Ha! HE FANCY.


Observing their shadows.

Mae is  o b s e s s e d with how long her legs are.

Just wait little one. Someday skirts will fit you like a belt, and finding pants to cover your ankles will be impossible.

Her stilts are also covered in very blonde (nearly invisible) peach fuzz, which is so v. v. appealing. She thinks she is  m o m e n t s  away from the days of shaving her legs. She’ll have blonde hair foreva and never have to shave her legs (poor poor child), but will anyway, because its cool?

She thinks growing old is awesome, and I’m not about to spoil it for her.

Anyone still chasing that rabbit? No? Alright, lets move on…

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Usually, if I haven’t been out of the house by the time the sun begins to set we make a point to enjoy some fresh air – even if that just means a stroll to burn some trash or swing on the porch.

A few weeks ago, the girls and I drove up to the river for a few minutes just to stretch our legs. Mae found a leaf larger than my face immediately, so of course we had to photograph it from every angle.

There were deer grazing just to Mae’s left there, unbothered by us. I love where we live! Didn’t think you’d ever hear me complement Missouri, Zack? Me either, but there is it. Our town is superb.


^ One of many phone dump collages to come ^

Playing Uno by candlelight / Washing dishes / Selfie with Mr. G / Rae passed out after hours of shopping / People toes / Rae asked me to take her photo. She intentionally didn’t smile – why can’t my resting face be this attractive??/ Watching Daddy chop a truck full of wood / An bowl of brownie batter abandoned on the couch / Zack building a stand for the water tank, to make more room in the cellar for wood next to the furnace. (AND The Hobbit!!)


Rae, “making her bed.” Life is hard / Frost!!! / The girls insist on staring at the album covers on Spotify – even when it’s the entire Moana soundtrack and the image never changes / On our way to eat lunch we didn’t have to cook (rare!!). Pocahontas and Darth Vader tagged along / Mae waiting for everyone to get on their shoes. Once again, “Why can’t my resting face be this attractive??”

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^ Mae telling me how wonderful God’s creation is ^

A week or two ago we drove to a trail for a walk. Mae packed a picnic for everyone, and helped me push the stroller!


Mae had a tumbling camp last Sunday (same day she became a Christian). All four of us went. It was cold, damp, and windy. A forecast I’ve become very fond of (worry not, I still love blazing hot sunshine) / Rae sporting a fresh haircut, drawing an ice cream cone (Ice cream cones and whales are her favorite things to draw lately) / Our largest nest discovery to date. The girls played with it for days / A gorgeous sky. Mae often asks me to photograph the sky. My girl appreciates a good sky.

We’re giving the girls experiences instead of wrapped gifts this year. I’ll post about those as they happen – can you guess what Rae’s is??



Ah, Rae.

Where do I start?

The beginning, I guess.

When you were just an infant, your Great-grandma Dee made a remark – “She’s a party waiting to happen!” – that sentence sums you up to this very day.

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You adore your sister more than anything. You care about her opinion above others’ and often call her “My best fwiend” in place of her real name. You still miss her the moment she leaves the room, but find it hard to share your snacks with her.

We’ve been preparing you mentally for the day when you must give up the beloved blankets (3 of them!!) you sleep with each night. Tonight is that night and though you seem calm about it now, I’m pretty sure a fit of rage and despair will occur moments after the lights go out.

You’re beginning to learn about fairness. Although, I guess its more like you’re finally acknowledging words are indeed coming out of our mouths when the topic of fairness arises. You’ll get there. Hopefully.

Your sense of humor is building quite nicely. While Penelope inherited Daddy’s effortless sense of humor, you’ve inherited mine. Subtle and sneaky.

Both your laugh and your smile are infectious. Your laughs come straight from your belly, just like your Daddy, and your grin stretches from ear to ear. Its the best.

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Your main topic to discuss in your fourth year has been Star Wars.

Your favorite characters are Stormtroopers (Your most talked about character), Darth Vader, Chewbacca, C3PO, and of course, Luke Skywalker.

Your favorite movie is Episode V, and you even wanted to be “Luke in the black outfit” for Halloween, but I couldn’t find one. Though you definitely belong on the dark side (Your favorite song is, after all, the Imperial March), I’m glad you managed to crush on the good hearted hero.

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Your fifth year is going to be incredible. It’ll be the greatest party yet!




You are such an expressive talker. Whether you’re discussing dry toast, the greatest roller coaster experience, the process of sliding a boot onto your foot, or retelling a story you just heard regarding fried pickles.

These photos were taken the other day as we were on our umpteenth hour of the Stranger Danger talk.

You had been going on and on with questions and setting up various scenarios, what I just grabbed the camera, slyly hovered it over my face and began taking shot after shot. These are milliseconds apart from one another. My face hurt from smiling. Something I didn’t know could happen while discussing such a topic.

You’re so brave and intelligent, sweet Mae.