I am getting back into the habit of using my DSLR camera often and keeping it close by at all times. Hopefully, with that will come my desire to write more than captions. Maybe I’ll write letters again? Smaller posts throughout the month? As for this post, it will be long and just captions once more.
Zack was gone for several days every week, and on occasion, the girls and I would join him.
I really miss watching them wander and explore around this yard. Probably more than they miss it.
On one of our trips to our old house, Mae and I snuck out and took a walk by our favorite river.
Rae found Grandpa Steve’s cowboy hats, and Vovo’s scarves and, well, isn’t she just the cutest.
We had a few movie nights while Daddy was away!
Mae got to try her hand at a paddle board. She was terrific at it. Do they make paddle boards for children? She would make good use of one.
We got a few steps closer in the dollhouse remodel! We have chosen paint colors, kitchen flooring, and backsplash. We’re really geeking out over it.
George found an empty basket. I can’t bring myself to fill it, but if he continues to jump out just as I walk by, it will find things to fill it with real soon.
Mae picked up Teaching Children Responsibilities at a book sale (and was beyond giddy about it). It has charts, checklists for chores and such, as well as cards to help get responsibilities organized.
This gem found its way into the trash can the moment we walked in the door.
I couldn’t help but smile…dig it out of the trash and photograph it…
On our final trip to our old house (for July, we still have to go back in August), the girls and I took a break from painting and tried to take a hike. We got stuck in a down pour, which was so fun, but we didn’t get to hike as long as we had hoped.
We didn’t plan on celebrating the fourth but ended up going over to Seth’s (Zack’s brother), setting off fireworks, and releasing paper lanterns.
We were about to video call my older brother and chit chat about life.
Dave survived the month (and so far so good for this month as well…)
June really just blew right on by! Here it is July and I am just now getting around to wrapping up the last month.
We tried to continue laying low in preparation for our trip to another state. While I am thankful we are all used to being around each other so much the girls really need to make some homeschooled friends, quick! I am thinking we may have to wait until the spring semester to seek them out though. Quite the bummer.
Below, though, are some parts of our month that were not a bummer!
Zack and I swiftly passed our thirteenth wedding anniversary. We celebrated by taking the girls for a picnic of our favorite food at the park.
…Don’t let the lack of exclamation points fool you, it was delightful and just how we wanted to celebrate.
Miss Maybe celebrated a birthday as well! She is seven or eight now? I think we went with eight…
We found a secluded river spot (minus a family down the way that had a dog that loved the girls) and enjoyed a swim for a bit – with Daddy!
Have I mentioned how great it has been actually seeing him on his summer break? It has been years since he has been able to enjoy summer with his ladies, we’re all feeling a bit spoiled.
Family bike rides are now a thing! They both have a bike now, and while Zack and I have many many bikes, we have been using the tandem bike.
Puzzles, and Pokemon, and Lincoln logs. Hours and hours of play.
Drawing flowers and then watering them. Clever girl.
Before it became too hot outside, the girls enjoyed evenings and mornings outside with sidewalk chalk.
Mae and I have been spending most of our time together. She is such an incredible human being and I am really grateful for our long conversations about anything and everything.
We had, for about two weeks, a sandpiper living nest to our driveway. It was so cool. Something got its eggs and I think it moved down the road a bit.
Mae is still a reading machine. She prefers to read while next to me, so I read while she reads, stopping occasionally to listen to her tell me about her book. It is so wonderful.
As part of our pioneer studies, the girls tried a few different honeys and made corn cakes with Aunt Jenny’s homemade jam for breakfast one morning.
We (always, myself included!), spent a few days learning about the Statue of Liberty. They really got involved with it.
We renewed our licence plates! Haha, but more importantly Mae stepped in to learn a new skill. She now knows how to take off and replace licence plates. So, if you’re in need, look no further.
July has had its own fun so far, but the rest of it may entail mostly work on our other house. That should be fun in its own way, but probably not blog-worthy. We’ll see.
We also took a trip to Tennessee, which you can read about here.
Shortly into that week, it was decided that we should all do that again in two years. This time, in the Smokies. Sevierville, Tennessee. (Shortly into this trip, we were choosing our next destination!)
Of course, we weren’t sure it would actually happen because of the virus (the house was booked a year and a half ago), but they assured us the house would be sanitized, and we did our own cleaning before settling in.
After 10 hours in the car we arrived at the cabin. By bedtime the house was filled with family and bustling with activity.
The view was our favorite part!!! There was always someone eating, reading, playing games, or simply sitting soaking in those mountains and sky from the main-level deck.
Below are some more photos from the deck…
Watching the rain cross the sky.
Mae and S playing charades while I read my book (and took their photo).
“Mom, wait! I’ll take your picture, while you take mine!”
S trying to get a ladybug to crawl out of the crack. Mae spacing out like her mama does, while wearing Mama’s posture.
S being cute, probably just finished a hand stand.
She is a master. She did handstands all day long at the house!
The girls also enjoyed the front porch swing! As did I!
Rae bought a hermit crab (which is living the good life back here at home), Dave, named after a character in the show Kipo / S caught that ladybug.
Games were an ongoing thing. The favorite group game (which I actually don’t care for, as it gets loud) is Jackbox (one person must have the app on their ‘device’). Plenty of Mario Cart was played, as well as Wits and Wagers, Farkle, QWIXX, and several others.
We also brought embroidery thread for friendship bracelets and Sculpey clay for figurine and jewelry making.
The only photo that was taken of me the entire trip…I am glad to have this smidgen of proof and that it is of a girl who still loves her mama’s lap! The photo Mae took ^up there^ is on someone else’s phone.
Jenny also has a mini-me, and boy, if they aren’t just the cutest ladies!
L was living her best life all week long. Haha.
I love that we always eat supper as a family while on these trips.
Mae desperately wanted to ride a horse so Zack and I took her and S for a trail ride. Mae got scared once on the horse (hers was large and a stinker), so Zack and S went on the trail, while Mae and I got a snack, fed some goats, and waited.
Micah wanted to see a dinner show, and since they truly required distancing, checked everyone’s temperature, and had a mandatory mask-when-not-at-your-table rule, we weren’t so nervous to tag along. The girls loved every minute of it!
Colorful ice cream and cute feet.
On our last day, Aunt Sarah took the girls (along with myself and Shari), to a sterile arcade, up in a very large Ferris wheel, and helped them ‘mine’ for gems – which was their favorite part of the day. Oh, and bought them that ice cream they were posing with!
Our ‘neighborhood’ was so close to Dollywood. They do a fireworks show every night (even during a downpour of rain!). Most nights a car load or two of us drove farther up the mountain to watch the fireworks.
It was so lovely being in a large close-knit group for an entire week. I love watching the cousins interact, and watching my girls socialize with kids again! None of it would’ve been possible without sweet Shari, or as fun and smooth without Sarah. Usually, a vacation with children is so much work, but those ladies really make it relaxing and a whole lot of fun for everyone.
For our schooling this summer, we (Mae and I) have decided to enjoy the life of pioneers and things that surround that era. We will incorporate pioneers into science, history, read alouds, practical skills/art, field trips (as much as we can), and food.
Of course, Mae wants to take it to infinity and beyond. Rae is happily one hundred percent involved, but like me, she is a follower, not a leader, so she may not take the reigns much.
As one of the many practical skills, we are learning embroidery more in depth. Daddy is our teacher for this particular one, ’cause he is incredible at it! You can see we were totally off on our technique, as we piddled waiting for Daddy.
Mae and I (while Zack and Rae were at the other house for a few days), took a breakfast to a local park/preserve/historical site. My fellow history buff was in heaven.
We walked a bit of the trail, snooped in the homes (closed for quarantine), read e v e r y plaque, sat on the dock for a bit, and sat on a bench to read our daily bit of On the Banks of Plum Creek, before heading home.
After lunch, we planted a flower garden, laced up a loom for another day, and played a game.
Here is her narration of the chapter we read at the park.
We will also be enjoying late night candle drawing sessions, accompanied by our fall play list or soundtracks -such as Little Women, Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 version), or Downton Abbey. This is a child-led activity.
As part of science, they will diagram various animals, starting with a horse. This is Rae’s horse.
Mae sewed a journal to use with her quill pens. (But, Mum lost the ink…and keeps forgetting to buy more.)
We have begun remodeling Grandma DeeDee’s doll house. It is getting a fresh exterior, new floors and fresh wallpaper and paint inside..maybe some crown molding for good measure?
Pioneer cooking – recipe one was hot cross buns at Mae’s request. We used this recipe for cinnamon raisin buns with an orange glaze!
To go along with the buns, we had a breakfast cooked over a fire and an early morning read aloud while we waited for the fire to get just right! (We timed both activities so that the buns were made the day before a sunny morning.)
I bought the girls some slates (per their request) for them to use for cursive practice. (Mae is using Primary Language Lessons -Volume one)
The girls decided they would like to begin at the beginning, with Native Americans – so to begin, we started light, with some crafts and worksheets…
We made Sculpey clay oven-bake beads (Grandma included! Hers are red white and blue) and then made necklaces with them. Mae stuck with the Native American theme and only used primary colors (they are also her favorite colors), while Rae used her favorite colors -pink and purple, and I went with a nautical blue, white, and gray.
Afterward, we (mostly I, on account of the hot glue used to stick on the thick leather) put together a couple rain sticks. They also wrapped leather string and more homemade bead around the tube.
Corn is in season! I bought some to go along with our Sunday lunch, and we saved the husks to make corn husk dolls once they dry out (she soaked them again for five minutes before forming the dolls.) and…
Mae made two on her own (with the help of a Youtube video). Meet Mary and John. Like her mom and dad, they enjoy kissing each other. It’s the best.
I am so looking forward to school in June! I hope your next month is very full and relaxing!
This month held two weeks of sickness for Mae and I, but also a lot of family time and time spent outdoors. So. Lets get to it…
My mom took us to a bluff/cliff in her town. Shari (my mother-in-law) said they used to ride their horses along the trails…which border the edge. Yikes. The views are incredible, though!
The month started off warm, so the girls broke in a fresh box of chalk and their swimsuits, despite being far from water. We are so excited for the rest of spring and its warmth!!
George has begun going out once a day or so. As a result, we have held a couple bird funerals and had to ease a live bunny out of the house.
Mae and I enjoyed a few walks around the yard exploring our flowers and clipping some to put in the kitchen. The honeysuckle and roses have been oh so nice!
For one of our Sunday lunches, the girls set up a restaurant with Daddy as the cook and Mom as the helper. The girls waited on the grandparents and even earned tips!
Mae took it upon herself to take care of me when I got sick (not ‘the virus’), and as a result, she became sick – despite trying to keep her distance. On the left she is so happy Mom is feeling better, the right is her too weak to sit up to the toilet.
Mae being sick meant I had an abundance of one on one time with Rae. We spent a lot of time drawing, painting and creating, cooking, and cleaning together. We even took a bike ride around the neighborhood and pulled weeds in the soon-to-be melon patch.
Animal Crossing, Lego play, repeat.
Also, Mandalorian is still a great love of Rae’s! Daddy bought her a Lego set with FIVE Mandalorians and a ship (“speeder”?) in it!
We also played a few games here and there, but I am hoping to really increase the number of family game nights we have next month!
DeeDee turned 86! We celebrated with fried chicken, cherry pie, and cards from Rae (Mae was sick at this point).
The girls are still not going out into the world around people (aside from certain cousins we see from time to time, but only them: see next slide), but one day we all rode to the hardware store and waited in the parking lot for Daddy to return. Very exciting.
Those cousins I spoke of went camping with their parents and we were invited to visit with them for a day. It was so nice for them to be around other kids. They made s’mores, swam in a pool, went for a walk, and played around with water guns.
Just when I thought it would be an eternity until they could swim again, a friend, Jim, invited us over to his pond to swim…the very next day!
I think it may be Mae’s new favorite place. They both used a kid-sized kayak for the first time! They were both so brave swimming around independently.
That’s it! I will have a school related post up and write about our pioneer summer soon!
I am grateful, while our lives are in fact very different right now, my girls have not seemed to notice. A month before the prescribed ‘stay home’ we moved into a new home with their grandma and two great-grandparents. Zack was set to join us full-time in May and, well, what timing! The seven of us are all here under one roof.
Aside from a new setting and new ‘roommates,’ our lives are just as calm and full of love, patience, and no worries as before the virus (at least where the four of us are concerned). My girls have not asked to go anywhere in this month, they have no signs of cabin fever (or the virus), and we are all so grateful we can be together.
Maybe is calmer here…ish. She is happy to have so many folks showing her love and an abundance of nap spots, and her fellow cat (ha), George, close by.
Per usual, the April weather has been a hot mess. Wind (Oi the wind!), rain, hail, extreme heat (followed by frost), large beautiful moons, clear skies, and (mostly) cloud cover for days on end.
Poor George is missing all of it. He seems to be adjusting to life indoors, but I know he would love to chase a bird and feel the grass under his paws.
For the time being, Zack and I have built him a ‘sunroom/catio’ for him to use when he needs fresh air. He sort of likes it. We will eventually add a scratching post and a second-story place to rest.
We have been enjoying the occasional family walk/bike ride. We have the place to ourselves during ‘working hours’ even though all other kids are home now.
Dandelions are all the rage right now. Grandma mentioned getting rid of the dandelions next year. I’m not sure the girls would be alright with that.
We saw and purchased the house during the winter and are just now getting to see the wonderful plants in their best state.
The girls are halfway through their year (7 1/2 & 91/2), which means they are growing quickly, seemingly overnight. I’m okay with it. Every age so far has been a great age, and thankfully, that still holds true.
The night before Easter Sunday, Mae made supper solo.
She is used to a ceramic griddle and was upset when they were burned or hard to flip. She also used a box batter for the first time. Not quite the same results as scratch, but she did great!
When we closed on the new house, we often wondered if Shari (never mind the rest of us) would be settled in by Easter. Well, Easter came and everyone had been settled for a full month already. It was so nice knowing the grandparents wouldn’t have to be home alone during that time and that the girls would actually get a big Easter! (I don’t do eggs and bunnies for Easter and Mae lives for a big celebration.)
We filled the eggs – leftover from Grandma’s previous egg hunts – with jelly beans and quarters.
Grandpa (“Papa”) turned 86. I’m, once again, glad he had a full house of folks there to celebrate!
The janitors are getting a head start on their summer deep clean, so the teachers are clearing out their rooms here and there. Which means we are accumulating 8 years of wonderful past projects!
Zack was very bummed the students couldn’t finish this Millennium Falcon, after working so hard on it all year.
As far as the house goes, well, there as been plenty of activity. There has been construction going on, several days a week this entire month. Even as I type, men are installing a new roof, which began as a project brought on by hail damage. It was perfect timing, though, as we were able to perfectly match it with the room on the new garage/apartment thing, the “barn.”
A few times, the girls and I went down the road to a park (where we weren’t around other folks) and found some new-to-us trails we would like to become our new hangouts once things get back to normal. We also decided this framed site of an old pioneer house would make a great picnic spot on warmer days!
On a sadder note, this past Tuesday, two of my all-time favorite women passed away, my great-aunt Mary (basically one of my grandmas) and my great-aunt Nell. I’m so glad Zack and the girls got so much time with Aunt Mary during their lifetime and Zack was able to spend time with Aunt Nell (before we had kids).
Homeschooling just gets better and better for me as a mom and a teacher. It has always been some version of good, but -and maybe it is something that has come with time and experience – at this moment it feels as natural as any other part of our lifestyle. Maybe the most natural part.
This month, in this place, has brought such a ‘home school is life’ feeling that so many homeschoolers talk about. The three of us are pretty at peace here.
We now have our computer in the schoolroom, and it is a nice addition. The girls do some online stuff (typing, math, games), and we are able to watch educational programs when they suit our lessons…and when they don’t, like when we discovered two families of eagles via live cam (1 and 2) and became obsessed with watching them take care of there babies.
Mae also enjoys filling some of her free time with Age of Empires 3 and Prodigy math, while Rae prefers PBS games.
We converted our fish tank into a worm farm. Very exciting.
We also started composting again. We ordered seed, and are planning an indoor growing area. We are still waiting for a major job to get done in the yard before we can start a garden, but we should at least have a flower patch again this year. We’ll see.
An ongoing family project has been the creation of country flags. We have ten or so to go until we have covered the ones (still in existence) we have studied about so far. The humidity (on the one warm day this month) got to the tape we used and they began falling down -as Mexico is doing in this photo…
When we moved in the girls requested a disco ball for the school room, and boy is it great. We really enjoy the morning sparkle.
We are an art family. I’m sure that is no surprise to anyone. We work on some form of art every day. In this house, there are so many areas to do such work. As a result, the girls and I have really upped our art…intake? We are doing larger-scale projects without dread of clean up or lack of proper space. It is so much fun!
During the first half of the month, we didn’t use the schoolroom at all. There was construction going on right outside, so we completed formal lessons on the couch (ours downstairs) and spent hours upon hours in what we call the ‘workspace’ creating larger-scale projects and did zero watercolor painting and only one nature drawing (unheard of!).
Rae has, however, drawn and painted plenty everyday on her own.
We found a spot for our swing! I was bummed when the ceilings in our area downstairs were too short (for our tall girls anyway), but I really love it in the school area. They rotate days so there is no arguing over who had it last.
We finished up our second run-through of The Story of the World – Volume 1 (Nomads to the end of ancient Rome), this time with study questions. Mae has inherited my interest in history. She even requested we have history lessons each day!
I highly recommend The Story of the World series…and the workbooks, but they are good even without. So far there are four volumes. We’ll begin Volume two (“The Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance”) this week.
We are still continuing our German lessons. I am looking for other ways to branch out with German, but I am coming up short.
We are also beginning some large scale projects. Mae will be working on one about our state, while Rae will be working even closer to home -using ideas we found here.
We (They, as I haven’t started mine yet) started building small cardboard homes – based on @houseinhabit’s homes. We still have at least a month’s work to do on them (they dream big). We are waiting on some molding clay to arrive in the mail so they can add food, bowls, etc. inside.
Mae is completing a ‘pioneer barn’ house, Rae is working on a New Mexico adobe style house, and I am torn between a Hobbit hole, Irish farm complete with sheep, and a row of Amsterdam-style homes…or all three…so I’ll finish mine sometime next year, haha.
We also read through two Narnia books (Prince Caspian and The Silver Chair) this month, began rereading On the Banks of Plum Creek, dug deeper into grammar lessons, as well as progressed farther into math (multiples for Mae and double-digit addition/ subtraction for Rae). We have begun to bake again, and even tackled French macaroons! Mae hopes to try her hand at English coconut macaroons soon.
The rest of May will involve a lot of their Missouri projects, finishing their homes, reading, reading, and more reading, and we will make preparations for our garden(s) and draw up blueprints for summer plant life. We are mostly excited about our flower patches, but we will attempt a few food items. Nothing extravagant though.
Schooling for us during this time of change (between the move and the virus) has not changed. We are still trying to find a good groove. I am fine with taking our time getting a steady routine or being in a forever ebb and flow of schedules, so long as the girls are thriving – and right now, they are.
We have a few different schooling areas but this room is just for the girls and me to work in. Our official ‘schoolroom’. It is SO nice having a quiet space for hanging out with the girls and a dedicated room for the quiet, neater things.
The design of the room has changed many times and will continue to over the next couple of months (we still have things to unpack and it is my nature to change things constantly). We will hang our beloved swing in here, place our family computer in here, and hang shelving, posters, and some sort of board to write on. We may even repaint a wall…or four. For now, a table and a cabinet are perfect.
Our other areas for schooling are Mom’s bed, our family’s living room, and will eventually involve what we have titled the girls’ “workspace” and, of course, the great outdoors.
We have kept up with our usual lessons through all of the changes. I have noticed having designated areas has really boosted they’re enthusiasm for every lesson.
One new thing we have added is book logs. We told Mae that once she reads ten chapter books, we will take her to do whatever her heart desires. She read three chapter books in one evening. Haha. She thrives when given a goal or time limit. Well, Corona hit our part of the world, and that has been put off. But! The reading pace continues. One week later and she is on book fifteen, and has nine more stacked up and waiting their turn. (Not that numbers matter, but this is an interest/goals of hers right now)
Rae has joined it and has read seven in that time! I have just continued reading at my normal pace, but began logging mine, and Daddy has also decided to join.
Zack joined us for some nature drawing / taking a nice walk on a warm day. Mae was totally into this, and surprisingly, Rae seemed to dread most of it. Oh well, it was lovely despite a couple frowns here and there.
Another huge change is the outdoor space. The girls can ride their bikes on concrete without loading up the car with bikes first.
We also have multiple places outside around our home to hold lessons and great parks so near to us. I don’t really label our areas of learning like public schools, but the ‘recess’ and ‘gym’ parts of our days have changed for the better.
I imagine schooling will only get better for us from this point on – but as it is, we are really loving our days together in this new atmosphere!
* So much Mae in this post, but Rae is always with us. Bringing the camera out this month just seemed to pull her focus away from what she was fully immersed in.
This past month has been weird for us for many reasons – none of which involve the Coronavirus.
The girls and I officially moved up to the new house a month ago, just about the time this virus business became serious here. In that month a lot has happened within our little family group.
Shari (Zack’s mom) sold her house in under two hours of being on the market and was moved into the new place with us, and two weeks later her parents moved in!
The following Monday Zack went to work as usual but was told they would be doing online schooling for the next three weeks (really two, since spring break fell on one of those) – so, he is here at the new house as well!
Miss Mae is looking so very old. In my mind nine was much younger than she is seeming to me right now. I hope my heart can handle ten when it arrives!
The warm nights here (few and far between) are magical. Warm breezes, clear, bright skies, and choruses of frogs.
The girls have so many areas to hang at this house and it makes me so incredibly grateful for this situation we have found ourselves in.
^ From when travel was acceptable. Sibling love in the form of ice scraper back scratches.
Sunset on the first evening of spring was so so good!! Check out those tee shirts!
…and then it snowed…
We have been enjoying many trips to one of our favorite parks for walks in the fresh air on the rare occasion it isn’t raining (or snowing).
Miss Maybe. Oh boy. I am not sure she is too thrilled with the new move. So many rules and sighs from Mama. But she still totally loves me and follows me everywhere in the hopes she will receive some love (which she also receives). In a few months, we will have a fence for her and I will calm right on down. Hopefully.
The saddest news I have to tell is that our sweet Bailey girl died at the beginning of March. We are not sure of the cause.
This is the last photo we have of her. I am glad it is of her playing with the girls. She was my favorite animal kid – the sweetest, calmest, most ‘I care about you’ cat (where as most cats tend to give off ‘you can be replaced’ vibes). It is weird not having her around.
Her brother, George, certainly seems to notice her absence. He is our sole cat now. George and Maybe are plenty for this crowded home, but Bailey would have loved it here.
Zack is working from home for the time being. He is the only one here (in our home) who’s life and routine have changed on account of the virus. We just recently got internet set up at the new place, so he traveled to where the free WiFi was available for a few nights.
If things don’t go back to business as usual for him, I think he will do just fine. This being his last year at that school, though, well it would be a bummer if he couldn’t spend his last month with the kids face to face.
As for the girls’ schooling and life in general, things are business as usual – only the setting has changed. My next post will be about the schooling bits from this month.