LONDON TEA ROOM

Yesterday, before leaving the city, I took the girl our for a post-breakfast treat at the London Tea Room! We followed up our treat by taking Buckey for a walk through a neighboring park.

The Tea Room was so great. I can’t recommend it enough. We just went for a cafe’ experience, but I’d like to bring the girls back for a proper tea time – probably with some of their friends.

We shared a black breakfast tea (next time I’m sure we’ll be more adventurous). Rae chose a slice of blueberry lemon cake, Mae chose a coconut macaroon (the English kind not the French sandwich type) with a plain croissant, and I chose a spinach ricotta croissant. The food was all so incredible!!

The workers were all so wonderful as well.

The park was only a block walk from the Tea Room. It was beautifully landscaped. I believe this will become a regular destination for us on special occasions! On this particular day, the weather was overcast, breezy and occasionally rainy, which made us wish Zack was with us. He’ll have to join us here someday, too!

MOTHER’S DAY 2018

This year I actually celebrated Mother’s Day! Highly unusual. I’ve mentioned before on here that celebrating is not something that comes naturally to me, but it does for my oldest child, and boy was she excited!

We started our day at church. I was promised I wouldn’t have to go up to the stage…I did. So, next year it’s back to at-home sermons, but it was short, sweet, and the girls were in a video! Very sweet,

After church, Zack took me plant shopping and after five years in this house, we finally did a bit of landscaping! Mae even dug up a weed and potted it for me. I don’t have the heart to tell her it’s a weed. It’s green and that’s all I need! Can’t have too much green in my life.

Zack and I are ending the day folding two weeks worth of laundry as we watch a movie!

It was a such a lovely day!!

LATELY : : APRIL 2018

Two weeks left of work for Zack! We are ready for summer, let me tell ya!

April was pretty much non-stop for us (seems to be the 2018 theme for the Rogers family). We’re going to try and slow things down a bit over the next couple months and -for the most part- let our summer vacation be a vacation. But, before I get ahead of myself, here a bit about our month of April…

We began April with Easter, like most.

The day was sunny then rainy then sleet came and it ended with snow and thunder – surely, nature’s unappreciated April fools joke.

We enjoyed a fire in the fireplace for the first time this year (We’ve been solely using the furnace). Napped away most of the afternoon and cleaned the house before heading to bed. Not too celebratory, but we did rest on our day of rest for a change!

Mae found ways of avoiding the little kids. She didn’t appreciate being discovered.

Rae had picture day at preschool!

Their photos are always not-so-good (says the woman who fills entire blog posts with blurry photos…), so I always just buy one photo for photo’s sake – I am completely satisfied with this photograph we took on the way to the car!

Little man tended to his ladybirds with undying enthusiasm.

The sun shone many many times this month!

Zack has been getting back into tennis. We were able to hang out with him for an afternoon full of tennis and a walk!

The kids dug SO MANY holes and “trenches.”

We also ate some snacks under the trees. With that, we’ve gathered somewhere around twenty ticks. Not so nice.

I count diggin’ holes as part of learning, but I wrote a bit about our hardcopy-schooling this month back here.

I attended two weekends away with the youth group, and Zack was there for one of them!

We spent quite a bit of time sitting in the car. Maybe it’s not out of the ordinary, I just documented it more this month? I dunno. They sure are patient.

Mae is getting eager for her spring recital that is coming up next month! I will never tire of seeing her perform. She can’t help but float and flutter about every minute of every day. I’m so grateful she’s able to dance at this point in her life.

I’ve heard that in her two years at this studio, she has barely said five words. I believe this because, well, she is my daughter – but I can’t believe that very same statement because at home, a l l.  s h e.  d o e s.  is talk! – and it typically involves gabbing about the art of dance.

Lookin’ pretty whilst spreading dirt on the newly swept porch.

Little man turned two!

All four of us got to spend an afternoon with one of our FAVORITE cousins, and her husband (who is one of Zack’s best childhood friends). They moved back from Seattle about a month or so ago. Two months? Maybe.

Anyway, they’re so great, we’re spending next weekend with them as well!

Buck is just as thrilled about their move as we are. He now has a fellow dog to play with. (Note: Their dog is less thrilled.)

I began teaching the girls how to play Battleship.

Mae used her board to imagine battles, shouting the play by play at the top of her lungs with great enthusiasm and gave quite an impressive performance. Rae simply placed pegs here and there until her board was nearly full.

They did have fun, though. That’s something.

We had one day that I would consider actually warm. Boy was that terrific!

We polished off the month with picture day for Mae at dance class! I also tackled our lawn and it is freshly mowed for the first time in 2018. Hopefully, the ticks will stay a little farther away from now on! Stinkers.

Alright, next comes May. Please be warm. Please be warm. Please be warm.

OUR HOMESCHOOL IN APRIL

While we have always stemmed fresh lessons from planned lessons, this semester I didn’t want to plan out anything. My goal was to focus on developing Mae into a proficient reader (and she is now!) and build her writing skills  (grammar, handwriting, and becoming comfortable in writing longer selections of text.)

Well, Mae mastered those things so we picked back up our method of more structured lessons every day.

After they drag themselves out of bed, they cook their own breakfast (with my help if they need it). When they’re done eating, we have Bible discussion time followed by yoga before we head into the structured learning of lesson after lesson.

We listen to music or audio books and talk about all manner of funny things while they work. I guess the big difference in the structure is I plan out everything the night before and have it ready. I use to plan half of it and we’d pick up more lessons as we went.

The girls do Zumba with a snack (if we work until lunch, then that’s fine, but sometimes G needs a bit more attention around this time.) Then, we continue lessons- typically tie up loose ends just in time for Zack to arrive home.

We began this new science-based devotional. So far, it’s tops.

It’s a one-a-day scenario but often the girls ask for ‘just one more and we end up discussing several.

We started our new geography…curriculum? through Beautiful Feet Books.

We will continue to do other forms of geography, but my girls love maps and this allows us to chart the path of the stories as well as study parts of it separately.

For the first three chapters of the first book, Paddle to the Sea, we studied Canada geese as well as ballasts and rudders. They also made clay canoes.

^ Making a dam.

The second steps in the story led to lessons on beavers and pond life.

George (our cat) caught a Chipping Sparrow.

He didn’t kill it, but its leg was injured and it was bleeding. Mae wanted to set it somewhere peaceful to die so George couldn’t do any more damage. The girls have been taught not to touch birds, but I made an exception. We hid it among some flowers where George would never think to look.

– Of course, this led to the research of Chipping Sparrows and a deeper discussion into how we could become more intentional ‘birders.’ We love (and own) this book and found the tips we discussed in there.

Below are some of the girls’ work –

^ Rae’s. The way she draws, ughhh. Can’t get enough of that girl.

Mae’s is the one just above. I drew most of this bird. She drew a great bird and wrote her facts so well but one hundred percent messed up her bird while painting it. There were tears. So many tears. So I drew her another bird and gave her a refresher course on how to use watercolor (They paint several images a week and only ever uses watercolor – she was just rushing). She painted the wings and tail and she felt so much better about this one.

G is learning too! He learns at his own home, so some of these are piggybacking off what his own parents are teaching him.

He’s learning basic words, utensil use, ABCs, numbers (1-5) – right now he’s stuck on 1, 2, 3- GO! so really I guess we’re working on the number four. Ha!

He’s also learning by coloring as well as learning some animal names, and how to properly use a shovel (the girls are teaching him this particular skill). He has mastered cleaning chicken coops, standing still on a skateboard, how to sweep and mop the floors – his favorite chore! – and how to unfold clean laundry – my least favorite of his chores! But, it allows me to put it all away for another time, which just so happens to be my favorite chore!

We’ve also taken a couple trips to explore the outdoors. Mostly the park, but our trip to the river was the most fun.

One of their verses. Rae drew her “best friend, Fletcher” on hers. So sweet.

Mae finished her big project on castles / English royalty (previously mentioned in last month’s post.) I really like her Queen Elizabeth II and “peasant” is my all-time favorite.

Mae is OFFICIALLY reading chapter books aloud to me! She’s reading second-grade chapter books. I’m sure she could figure out harder books, but I don’t want to rush it. We’re really enjoying this new addition to our school day. She reads while sitting on the counter next to me as I cook, while we drive to dance class and the grocery store, and sometimes quietly to herself under her favorite oak tree – which has been a dream of hers for years.

Rae kind of took a break this month. Not completely but, aside from painting a few things and listening to stories and such, she hasn’t had to do any work outside of the preschool she attends. The break seems to have done her some good.

We’ll continue to ‘do school’ throughout the summer, like always. I’m really looking forward to going on a few field trips and having lessons outside – if it ever warms up!

QUICK! TO THE RIVER!

Where we live, experiencing all four seasons in one day is not out of the question, and happens at least once a season. Four seasons in one week is a given during the fall and spring months. We experienced such a day earlier this week.

Just as we were picking Rae up from preschool at lunchtime, the temperature rose to 70°F and the sun came bursting out of the clouds. Knowing it wouldn’t last for long, we drove right on past our house and straight to the river.

The girls dug their toes in the sand and ran back and forth through the creek and the river it connects to. G reacted as if he was experiencing everything for the first time (and maybe he was), which was just such a delight to watch. He spent most of the hour we were there grabbing fist-fulls of pebbles and chucking them harshly towards puddles.

All too soon, thunderclouds rolled overhead and the wind picked up. Within two hours it was below freezing and we had a fire brewing in the fireplace. We’ll happily take what we can get.

DEAR MAE & RAE

Dear sweet sweet girls o’mine,

Today is Easter. We have never celebrated with bunnies or eggs in our home, but have allowed you to join in as others have set up egg hunts for you and dolled up colorful baskets of candy and other goodies.

I have never had a fondness for the Easter bunny, Santa’s elves, leprechauns, cupid, or turkeys with pilgrim hats, and I’m glad you decided you’d prefer to have a “Jesus only” Easter this year. I could not be prouder. You have joyfully passed by the Bunny displays at every store, smiled politely at those who ask you what the Easter bunny will bring, and asked daily for more and more Jesus.

We had our first Passover / last supper meal with you both. Mae picked out the food we’d eat and Rae set the table. We read every version of the crucifixion and resurrection we own – from the simplest preschool version to the hearty King James scripture.

Mae, you and I have held in-depth conversations about Christ, sin, forgiveness, and the meaning behind just about every word of His story. You are so incredible and wise. You continue to teach me. I have grown more through our talks this past month than I have in the many years of hearing His story of sorrow and hope.

Rae, your joy and patience are brought out as you hear about the Lord. You would normally color as we read, but as I read His word, you prefer to snuggle and ask questions.

We walked past a hundred eggs on our way out of church this morning, and you didn’t cry. You simply asked what was for lunch. Seriously girls. You’re the best.

Happy Ressurection day, ladies. We love you very much.

LATELY : : MARCH 2018

March, the month of my husband’s birth – and his Momma’s! That in itself is enough to celebrate, but considering we didn’t celebrate either birth, I’ll try and stretch this a bit further…

The girls and I spent the first day of March with my longtime friend and meeting that gorgeous fellow above, Julian. We managed to make it home just in time to see Zack, on his THIRTIETH! birthday, moments before he went to bed. He worked the entire day. The school always schedule fall sign-up night on his birthday and every year we heave a heavy sigh of disappointment.

We are able to watch our cousin once again, and we are having such a great time with him! I’m sure he is glad to have girls fussing over him all day.

The prince in a prime napping position.

^ Can you spot the baby bum? How ’bout Mae’s foot?

Last month Zack and I started to completely reconfigure the layout of our house. We still have a slew of small cosmetic things to do to the front area here, but we’re thrilled with the amount of space we have to move around. The wall that creates a hallway has become the kids’ favorite part of this whole deal. They just run around and around and around.

I thought maybe school would be difficult with a baby in the mix, but so far he just joins in, plays alone or with the dog, and we wait until he is asleep to tackle the bigger lessons and projects. We also continue lessons / reading in the evenings occasionally.

Buckey will not let Rae do yoga. She’s all for not doing it, no force needed, Buck.

After a late night of grocery shopping, in a town pretty far away, we enjoyed time at one of our favorite restaurants.

They still share a drink, and usually a meal. (Zack and I share a drink everywhere we go, too.) As you’ll notice in that last photo, they never seem to want a drink until their sister grabs the cup. Oi

Mae had a cold for two weeks – and then some. Day one of it, she mentions, “I want to just rest for a minute.” Thirty seconds later she was snoring to high heaven, covered in drool and sweat, well on her way to a three-hour nap.

Watching a movie, waiting for school to get out so they can go into Daddy’s classroom.

I could watch them all day long (and night) as they do the most mundane things. Ugh, They’re so great. Seriously, I could stare at her watching television for the entire 90-minute feature and not become bored. I hated when I would notice my mom staring at me. Still, to this day I dislike people looking at me – even Zack! (and he stares at me a lot) But I’m going to stare at them and even be in awe of the pre-teen eye rolls that will surely roll in my direction.

On days when the weather was nice, the hens got plenty of attention. G can’t seem to get enough of them. He now looks forward to collecting the eggs and feeding them scraps through the wire each afternoon before his nap.

(Also! Check out that green grass!!!)

A fair-skinned girl and her black-furred dog, both avoiding the sun’s rays.

The wagon has racked up some miles this month! Mae insists on being the one to lug the baby around. No complaints here.

Also, Rae up there, on a mission to collect as many bird feathers as possible. So far, they’ve all been dirty old chicken feathers. Shes so proud. She tucks them under the wiper blades on our vehicles as a treat for Zack and I to ohh and ahh over later.

^ Collecting more feathers ^

Mae is determined to become skilled at climbing trees. The only problem is, this is our only climbing tree. So many trees in our yard, and only ONE worth climbing.

We read most of our books outside this month!

We began with Leprechaun in Late Winter, which we read last year in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. We read it in one sitting under these trees. Those Magic Tree House books are a quick read!

Followed that book with John Steinbeck’s, The Red Pony.

We read The Littles – the first in the series. It was another short chapter book, Mae was able to read this at a swift pace.

She also read Frog and Toad Are Friends this month.

(She reads non-chapter books every week, but that would make for an even longer list.)

We tackled a couple audiobooks – Little House on the Prairie (Really enjoyed this version!) over the course of a week in the car and The Hobbit in one day while cleaning the house.

Mae began a big project on Royals, Knights, and castles. Basically, castle life, but it has also come to include the middle ages. We began all of the above books this month. We’ll continue this through April as well (maybe longer?). Its been a lot of fun!

Rae went to town with some Sir Knight flannel graph business while we read those books aloud. Using it all at once seemed the best way to go.

The girls studied some composers again this month. Here are some Beethoven and George Bush Sr. Hector Berlioz paintings.

We also studied France for a hot minute. We’ll make a flag for France, too…when we get around to it. We are planning a French-themed meal (cliche items only!) for a supper one night soon.

Last year, in preparation for St. Pat’s we studied Ireland, the holiday, and everything related to the two for three months. This year, Penelope wore green. That’s it. We celebrated the following Monday with food and a movie. More of that back here.

While at a restaurant Mae crawled under the table and sat this next to me. I’m still baffled as to how she managed to sneak a card in and write this without me noticing. Her bun is  r e a l high and my hair is accurately thin. Her cards make me so happy!!

One of the girls’ best friends, Violet, turned three! We celebrated at a bowling alley – it was their first time bowling and they had so much fun!

Bathroom silliness…

The girls were in a play? skit? program? for Palm Sunday. This is all the proof I have of that.

Just a pretty girl I want to remember…

The girls and I snuck away for a couple days during spring break, since Zack had to work – on his spring break, mind you. We spent an afternoon exploring the Science Center. On our way to my mother-in-law’s, we spontaneously stopped in to watch A Wrinkle in Time! It felt so good to do something fun and unplanned with my girls.

Zack’s mom took off the following day so she could spend it with us. We stole my niece (who wasn’t on spring break) away for the tail end of our outings!

In celebration of Good Friday, Zack read them the story of the last supper and we enjoyed fish with ‘Jesus bread,’ and grape juice – per Mae’s request.

We’ll finish up the month with the rest of the crucifixion and resurrection scripture readings and garage cleaning. – Happy Easter!

SAINT PATRICK’S DAY 2018

I don’t find most holidays fun. My parents didn’t celebrate anything – except Christmas when we were little – and elementary school doing the repeated bare minimum really burnt me out over the years.

Since having kids – and in particular, a kid who goes hog wild for even the slightest whisper of Boxing Day – I’ve really stretched out my tolerance and dug deep to make every holiday magical, no matter how minor. Except for Boxing Day. We’re not even a little Canadian…

Last year we studied up on every holiday for weeks. In the case of St. Patrick’s Day, we studied it for E L E V E N weeks. It was my favorite study of the year!

This year, well…Mae wore the same too-small green dress two days in a row (so she was sure not to forget to wear green when the actual day arrived.), and she chose [above] spinach noodles and breadsticks for a holiday-related meal – which we ate nearly a week before the holiday. We didn’t even scribble a measly clover.

On the actual holiday, we were supposed to go to a Rogers’ reunion, but it was canceled. We spent the day in St. Charles (and St. Louis) anyway. Zack bought some stained glass for his classes at work while the girls and I walked the cobblestone streets listening to quartets belt out Irish folk songs, took note of each building (they’re so cool!) and took in the smells of cabbage and beer flowing from the many bars that call this particular street home.

It was freezing, so we didn’t bother walking the extra steps over to the riverfront (which is just behind them in the photos above.)

When Zack was done, we drove into the city to browse IKEA. We snagged some dollar hotdogs and the girls sat on every stationary item in the store.

We celebrated St. Pat’s the following Monday.

Zack and I tried corn beef for the first time and served it alongside smashed potatoes and homemade bread. And, I have to ask – why isn’t all beef ‘corned’???? – It was SO GOOD!!

We watched Secret of Kells while we ate. It was such a nice calm comforting evening. Worth the wait.

LATELY : : FEBRUARY 2018

February. Does anyone look forward to it? I tried to, but much like most, I kept a steady mental countdown to March – and somehow the final day snuck up on me!

We’re ready for spring – and most importantly the anniversary of Zack’s birth!! We won’t even see him on his birthday (his 30th!), but boy! are we glad he was born!! BUT SEE! I’ve already begun talking about March without even recapping February. Sorry, February…

So much will be left out of this post, but here are some of the moments I bothered to photograph – ha!

Really sellin’ this one.

We began the month by spending an afternoon at the river on a particularly calm, very cold day. It’s usually very very windy where we live. Have to jump while the air is still. The rest of February rotated between very warm and very very cold days. I believe all four seasons were experienced.

Slow meals to go with slow school days.

It was still too dry in the house, in my opinion, for playing with clay. The girls disagreed (or don’t mind dry hands?), so they made that their handwork during our reading time. In the evening, Mae crocheted while her and I read separate chapter books that would not interest Rae.

Mountain Born is about a boy, Peter, who raises a lamb. Living the dream…

We began February reading Swiss Family Robinson, and I think it’s our favorite book to date. So much imagination sparked and such great conversation came out of it. The girls still mention it randomly. We actually completed three chapter books just in the first seven days – not a typical feat.

We began The Green Ember (the first in a book series), but the timing wasn’t right for such a long book. We kept getting distracted, so I read it alone in my free time. I’m starting the second book tonight! We may begin it again this summer, but for now, I’ll just [highly] recommend it for those around 5th grade and older.

I also read The Cutting Season – not a junior fiction novel! What?!?- The librarian recommended it and snuck it into our stack of American girl novels and various children’s books. I completed all 384 pages in one day, only stopping to cook meals! It was so good.

B became very attached to me. He was always underfoot…actually, he was typically lying directly on my feet. I like him the least, but even now as I type this, he is lying on my feet. Sweet boy. I’ll enjoy his much more when he is too old and fat to mess with my things.

Rae caught a cold – most likely brought on by my stellar parenting the day I took them to the ‘icy river.” So, while Mae was at crochet lessons, Rae ditched preschool and helped me buy a new shower faucet – and fixins.

On our way out we wandered through the plants (We can’t help ourselves!). Rae asked if she could buy Daddy a plant for his classroom. Well, after this experience, I couldn’t say no now could I?

Later, while replacing the faucet, we discovered the plumbing had been installed by a child. Not the best news.

My space-admiring daughter was so giddy watching the Falcon Heavy launch and landing! We also researched the purpose of building something like the Falcon Heavy and related topics. I’m sure we’ll dig into this more another time, but it was a good start.

^ Pastel drawings and more science by way of Khan Academy lectures while waiting for lunch to get out of the oven.

I took the camera out to capture our ladies (who are all laying now!). The one just above realized I had no food and moved on with her very busy life…

Noticed George on my way back to the house. It’s hard to photograph our pets in a way they don’t look like shadows. Looks mighty regal, doesn’t he?

Mae invented a faster way to transport ice cream from your hands to your face (no spoon required!). Zack is alllll about this. Her favorite right now is ice cream made with coconut milk and caramel.

Over the course of the month, she came up with ideas for around one billion inventions. She never stops dreaming. We watched Tomorrowland this month as well. She had a lot in common with the main character and adored the concept of dreamers. She still stops me at random when she notices a dreamer (someone who invents, studies, finds or creates beauty, etc.). I plan on ordering them their very own Tomorrowland pins soon.

^ One of those warm days I spoke of ^

Good golly, that face. We drove with the windows down a lot this month, so the wind could flirt with our bare arms.

While waiting for Rae’s class to dismiss, Mae and I had a straw fight. First one to unwrap the other’s straw with sheer force won – loser had their nose picked by the winner with the winning straw. Thought for sure she would win. She put up quite the fight.

My older brother came for a long weekend! You can read about that here.

Less importantly, that very same weekend, the girls got to see Peter Rabbit.

Some valentine highlights.

Shenanigans.

One morning while cooking breakfast for Rae and I, Mae said, “Mom, can you get two plates?” Then proceeded to whisper under her breath, “These eggs have a destiny…” I love everything about this girl!!

On a particularly cold day, the girls and I wandered around the library and an antique store. They literally gasped when they saw that photo (newspaper clipping?) of Abe Lincoln. A lady peaked over the wall to make sure everyone was okay. Ha! They stared for quite a while.

One of quite a few trips to ‘The Diamond Store.”

We’re eager to plant things! Rae has to smell everything, always has. (That word, everything, is not used lightly.) She had to smell each stick to see if it smelled like the fruit in the photo. Sadly, they all smelled like sticks.

Mae drug me over to this situation. Left Daddy and Rae wondering where we ran off to. I wonder if she’ll always have an interest in pandas.

Rae’s penguin. I like this very much. Zack liked it too, so she drew one for him to take to his classroom.

Her interest in Star Wars is holding steady.

The girls spent so much time – sometimes entire days – outside.

Mae started her own compost, planted things, including this onion above that began sprouting in the pantry. They built things, cleaned up the yard and even ate quite a few lunches with dirt covered hands.

More selfies while waiting for Rae, ’cause who doesn’t absolutely love a selfie?? amiright?

BUT! matching gray eyes, hair out of her face and dirt under her nails. AND! we’re sittin’ reeeeeal close. Just how I like it.

Happy March, everyone!

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!