BITS OF SCHOOL FROM SEPTEMBER

We have converted our upstairs school space into a living room/sunroom. It suits our morning routine needs (somewhere comfy to sit that won’t disturb -or be disturbed by- anyone else in the house), and it provided somewhere to put our couch from the other house!

This change has made for longer morning conversations, and provided a nice comfy atmosphere to begin the day.

We have been going to a library once a week, and while we will probably never bond with any of the librarians as we did in our last town, the girls are cheered up by the amount of new material avaliable to us!

Above, are two of their favorites from this past month. They continually brought them up for weeks after reading them. Hiawatha and the Peace Maker is about forgiveness, and Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is a delightful story based on a Yiddish song. It made us want to revisit this favorite the girls wore out years ago.

We continued our tea time two to three times a week, sometimes baking the treats, sometimes buying, if they were unique enough.

Once, they opted out of a midday tea and decided a breakfast of cider and fresh muffins was best for the day! Cold mornings are our favorite!

Nearly every day, our read-aloud time made its way outside, under the trees with the hammock. We would usually take on a bit from a chapter book (Our favorite of the month being George Muller’s biography), as well as three library short stories and our Bible lessons if the morning had been chaotic or slow going.

Davey boy joined us more occasions than Mae could handle, haha. Rae was mighty happy though.

We also took care of a few Tomato Hornworms (which grow into Five-Spotted Hawk Moths). It was so nice to watch them grow and really cool to watch them eat!

We’re picking back up Chess, hopefully we won’t get distracted again and we will begin to master it over the next few months. In this photo, Rey and Kylo were playing very incorrectly.

A still life Rae did of some of her favorite things.

We are trying out two new devotionals. I have the hardest time choosing devotionals for the girls. So many of them address public school problems and ‘a busy life’ that my girls cannot relate to. Maybe there is a homeschool directed devotional?? We are enjoying the science devotional, and have only had to skip a couple (because they are unrelatable), pages in the Fearless Faith. I pre-read so many devotionals in the store, and this one had the least irrelevant topics. We have decided, if we come to a page we don’t like (which is rare), we will discuss something on our minds. So far so good.

Rae is still into Pok√©mon (more into how they are drawn than anything else). She hasn’t even seen the show, but she knows the characters very well and draws them over and over.

Autumn poetry copy work and paintings. (Mae’s then Rae’s)

A few times a week, Rae will work on a nature drawing, either from an image in a book, or from something tangible we have at home or that she finds outside. “We” are working on her watercolor technique and she does not like it.

Mae tried to bake something once a week in September, and with the holidays beginning any moment now, we are starting to plan some fun treats to make for once tea time a week, or a dessert to accompany supper.

Well, it is about time for me to begin writing October’s school post, ha, so I think I will leave this where it is at. Hope you are all having an incredible month!

DOUBLE DIGITS

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAE!!

In honor of this wonderful occasion, here are some things about you I am so very grateful for…

First, you love to listen to stories people tell of long ago…or what they had for lunch, as long as it is in great detail, and you are not afraid to ask for clarity on what something means if you don’t quite understand it.

You are a lover of games and have the competitive spirit and snarky trash talk to accompany any game you play.

Right now, your favorite way to learn would be to snuggle up somewhere, be it the couch, hammock, etc., think, ask, and discuss for hours and hours about anything and everything.

You still appreciate a job, whether it be an independent one or helping someone. Now that Daddy has Grandpa around to help, you haven’t been helping him so much, and well, I do household things (which you do help with, but it’s not your passion). This year, I’m going to try and step up my carpentry game so you don’t lose this desire to be of use.

My lovely girl, you have not only an undying but ever-increasing love for your ‘Mum.” Several times a day, you run to me, give me a bear hug and say, “You’re mine! …forever…” and boy, that is my all-time favorite moment. I stop, soak up the few moments, let it fill my heart and lift my spirits.

You are so keenly aware of how I am feeling (good, bad, sad, tired, hopeful), and you join me where I am and simply want to be with me. All versions of me.

In the past few months, you have been insisting on snuggling “MAX 3!” times a night before you go to bed. Mind you, the snuggles don’t begin until nine-thirty p.m. and we have read bedtime stories long before this. I am going to be more intentional about this too, and maybe snuggle and watch something together in bed.

You adore your sister, and though you both disagree a lot on what should be played next and who is not sharing with who, you play for hours upon hours together. Lately, it has been Legos, Barbie, dolls, or chatting in the hammock.

You never turn down an opportunity to be outside! I hope this is still true as you grow older (Okay, I hope everything I’ve said stays true as you get older. Maybe not the bickering with your sister part…). You adore any and all weather and atmospheres. Another one of your favorite requests would be a drive down country roads, even if you do see more corn than cows here.

You are very into the Descendants, pioneer lifestyles, Animal Crossing, books about people and their lives, and baking (something else I need to get better about!).

I could go on and on (and you would lovingly yell, “Well then do it! Go on and on!”), but I need to see your face and whip up a decent birthday breakfast. Thank you for being such an incredible hooman gail. I love you so very much Miss Mae. SO. VERY. MUCH.

LATELY: : SEPTEMBER 2020

There have been many time hurdles between me and this blog in the past couple of months! For one thing, September felt about three days long…but as always, looking back as I write these posts, I find it was actually a long and full month.

Mae’s birthday is coming up, and that is as a good a deadline as any to get my act together and document what has happened before it gets lost, because they have been a lovely two months!

Since beginning our fall semester, we have made it to a park twice a week. sometimes more. We sometimes look up a new-to-us park, but for the most part, we have found our handful of favorites and return to them when we need a break and some fresh air.

At one of those parks, is a river, and while we won’t be walking through the water this fall, we enjoyed it while the weather was warm. We chose a spot far from the popular one and always had the place to ourselves. It was truly peaceful.

Maybe is still a shadow to me, somehow she has increased to affection for me in the last month. Someday I’m going to miss her under my feet, so I have begun smiling at her closeness. I think she noticed and begun smiling more herself. But with that came crying anytime I leave the house.

We got to visit Aunt Teresa in our former town. They got to play with their cousins (the ones they always see up here) and doted on a few fresh kittens.

As well as our trips to the park, we have been spending plenty of time out in our yard. We have held a handful of movie nights on the lawn, I stumbled upon a lovely scene of the girls reading to Daddy under the patio lights, and we have been spending an hour of our daily reading under the trees (more on that in the school post).

We introduced daily(ish) family evening walks after supper! It involves our family of four and Zack’s mom and the cool crisp air is delightful…even if it is too cold for my liking sometimes. I really should find our coats. I didn’t think we would need them so soon.

George has been back indoors for most of his days, and even slept inside last night and kept to his usual indoor naps during the day. When we have our schooling downstairs and if the doors are open, he lingers and lies about just outside on the patio. So glad he still loves his people.

Mae made a pillow out of fresh-cut grass and it was incredibly comfortable – and cold! We composted it all before heading inside for the night.

Meg has been joining us more on a daily basis. Sometimes, Mae brings along her doll as well, but Rae really involves her girl. It is so sweet to watch. I’m sure she will make an appearance in the school post as well.

Rae also bought a new Barbie in September, who also gets involved in our goings on. I’m so glad the girl’ imaginations are only getting strong as they age. They played Lego for hours given the chance, and otherwise chose to play with Barbies.

In case you missed it, my brother came for a visit, and I finally put up photos of our August back here.

JOSEPH’S VISIT

My older brother came to visit at the beginning of September. We hadn’t seen them since his oldest, now six years old, turned one. We have seen Joe twice in that time, but it was so nice to see his lovely wife again, and get to know the boys!

Mae and Solomon were inseparable and surprisingly similar human beings.

He loves nature and everything it involves, just as my girls do. They couldn’t have been happier to discover this.

The way he looks at his mom. ugh. so sweet.

They baked a shortcake from one of Solomon’s favorite books about Little Red Hen, Cook-A-Doodle-Doo.

Quinn loves his momma. Well, I mean kids love their mommas, but Quinn was feeling not so great (teething and such), so he spent most of his time alone with Megahn. And, well, she’s just an incredibly cool, patient momma!

We took them to our favorite lake spot. There was no shade in sight, but it was a great day. We caught many tiny toads, Joe taught them how to start a camp fire with just a magnifying glass, and we got to visit with some horses how detoured from their trail-ride to get a drink.

Our nephew, Leo turned to while Joe was here, so we had a little party at our house to celebrate.

The made it back to Washington safe and sound!

Hopefully, we’ll see them again some time next year.

PARKS PARKS PARKS

These were all taken back in August (the last one by Rae), but our habit of visit various parks several times a week is still ongoing, well into September.

We plan on adding a weekly bike ride and painting sessions into the mix as the weather begins to cool.

LATELY: JULY 2020

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.

Maybe pushing her way over the barricade we used to keep her in the back.

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…)

LATELY : JUNE 2020

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.

Birthday treat.

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.

Rae’s

Drawing flowers and then watering them. Clever girl.

“Okay, time to go in and take a shower…”

Before it became too hot outside, the girls enjoyed evenings and mornings outside with sidewalk chalk.

A new secret swing set in the woods!

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.

Watching the rain.

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.

Mae’s / Rae’s

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.

TENNESSEE

Two years ago, for my mother-in-law’s sixtieth birthday, she took all of her kids and their families to the beach for a week-long vacation, huddled in a house together enjoying each other’s presence.

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.

Speaking of….

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.

Same face!

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.

PIONEER SUMMER

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.

We are using the free co-op grid from The Peaceful Press as a guide, but we will also use the minds of our girls and see where they want to take this.

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!