SCHOOL: FEBRUARY 2021

February felt somewhat like a holiday month. Maybe because Dad was home so much? Maybe because we were home for the majority of it?

While it felt like a vacation of sorts, we did get a lot of formal schooling ( I hate that term, but I’m going to keep it there…) completed.

Mae draws like Mum (bottom).

Rae is very happy with the sword she drew, and her handwriting/mixing marker in makes me so happy.

Rae and I did a lot of crafts on her days with me. So many good conversations happen on their individual days with me.

Mae is beginning to memorize the globe by drawing it. She is starting with England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. I imagine it will take her the rest of the semester. She has begun by tracing them – and has now started focusing on just Ireland, until that is committed to memory.

I was going to wait until her early teens to begin this project, but she asked to try it out now, and maybe in a couple of years or less, she will have the world committed to memory.

This counts, for us, as geography, art, and a good brain exercise.

(We got the light board, here)

Mae learned how to braid this month (the string clipped in her hair was one of her first braids) and Rae learned how to do her own pony tail – and gets it perfect more times than not.

“Send this to Dad.”

She bandaged her wooden sword that cracked. It was made by someone in shop class at Zack’s old school.

We cleaned up a spot in the woods for the girls to use as a secret club/fort/hang out spot. We trimmed limbs, raked leaves, and will properly decorate it this spring.

Rae began making a book of homophones and it is adorable.

It is cold in this school space. Some days they learned from the comfort of sleeping bags.

…and coats. Mae has been working on roots and suffixes…as well as elaborating on basic sentences, working on her chapter book, kindly considering working on her handwriting (hahaha), and working through typing lessons – still through typing.com

Rae began doing independent canvas paintings while I painted. We watched Adam Savage build things and movies she likes, like Trolls World Tour.

We have been working hard on our German lessons. Part of that includes a matching game Mae and I put together. Daddy even joins in – Rae is smiling at him in the photo up there. We still use Duolingo, library videos, a workbook we do together, and in conversations between the three of us throughout the day.

We got back into watching Youtube during snack breaks.

Some of the ones from this month include – JURASSIC WORLD: Building the Apatosaurus, ISLE OF DOGS | “Making of: Puppets” Featurette, Saigas are Straight Out of Star Wars, The 500-year history of the pocket, Bananas As We Know Them Are Doomed, Generosity, and all of THE HOBBIT, Production Diaries.

Some of their all-time favorites include: My Mom is an Airplane, The history of the world according to cats, Virsky – Hopak solos (Russian dancers), and How Netflix’s ‘Klaus’ Made 2D Animation Look 3D.

We are going to continue focusing on German and the Middle Ages. Also human health in more ways. The conversations have always been on-going, but I think they would enjoy projects. OH! We are also hoping to spend full days outside again in March!!

LATELY: : JANUARY 2020

JANUARY!!

We started the month with ice, more ice, and a dusting of snow and, as Zack observed, it was maybe more lovely than a blanket of snow. The sun made the ice on the trees sparkle and glow. The girls fully enjoyed the cold on their last trip to our other house – and I took their last portraits by these bushed.

Look at those beauties! They love each other so much and I am constantly filled with gratitude that Miss Mae was able to have a sister.

Zack and I FINISHED OUR HOUSE the following weekend!!!!!!

We are renting it out and are just so relieved to be able to solely snuggle and stare at each other’s faces on weekends if we want to now!

We received our favorite piece of mail at the start of the new year! Now, if I can just find time to make an order before they’re sold out of what we want…

We took Grandma to Ikea, where we purchased some organizing biz for the schoolroom/”workspace.”

Rae bought herself this Velociraptor (her favorite dinosaur/ in her top 5 animals of all time) and she bought her sister a giant boa puppet.

She looks old and I love her impossibly pale skin and redhead freckles and deep brown hair and her wearing my shirts more than her own.

Walking in on this scene was just the. best. Miss Maybe using a pillow properly, is definitely the cherry on top of the magical moment.

As well as some new shelving from Ikea, we also painted the lights and the table. It is so nice have a spot to put our school books and creating materials!

One one of those newly free Saturday nights, Zack and I made teeny watercolor books!

Rae and I have been enjoying them.

Davey boy is still kickin’! I wish he would choose a new shell already, but he seems happy enough.

As a reward for living so dadgum long, we got him two friends. Wyatt and Harry (from Disney’s Descendants and Zombies 2 musicals. the name Dave is from Kipo). One switched shells on the first day! They are teeny tiny and so far, a week into having roommates, Dave is completely unaware of their existence…

We waited for Dad to get home and then we watched a condensed version of the inauguration with the girls! After studying our government, taking them to vote, and getting them as involved in this election as possible since September, it was so nice letting them see it go full circle! (We are still discussing things with them, not just leaving it at the inauguration.)

Last weekend, we took the girls back to our old house/town to get Dave his new friends and we enjoyed an evening with our cousin, Beef and her husband, Ty. It turned into such a perfect day!

Miss Rae got braces this morning!

I have never heard of an eight year old getting braces, but her top teeth perfectly lined up with her bottom (and on occasion, she would protrude her bottom jaw out as an underbite), so they had to get it fixed before she got any older. She probably could’ve waited until she was a little older – her aunt didn’t get this same issue fixed until she was a senior in high school – but the moment her front teeth were all adult teeth is the best time.

Also today, we got our first substantial snowfall!

It took us an hour to drive the normally 20-minute drive to the orthodontist, and it was a rough hour!

When we made it home, the girls played out in that lovely snow for half an hour or so and after a break are now back out in it.

We still have a couple more things left to do before the month is over, but the snow feels like a great way to end the month and this post! Hope the rest of your month is wonderful!

SCHOOL JANUARY 2020

I had planned on scheduling more nature drawings for the month, but this life cycle was the only one we got around to. They did, however, study plenty of animals this month – one of which is further down in this post.

Rae chose to practice ‘hands’ on our first day of second semester, and they both did great. Mae did several variations. I’m not sure why I didn’t document them.

We started a few snack breaks with facials and manicures!

Being a Timber Cat!

We tried to go to the park one afternoon for a picnic and a bit of running around.

It was too too cold! We ate half our food and they ran around the little playground for five minutes.

BUT! We saw a dog walking itself with its leash in its mouth and it made the entire fun fail worth it.

We worked a bit more on the doll house!

Some day, I’m going to spend hours finishing the renovations…hopefully in the near future…

We are beginning the European Middle Ages, which should last through 2021 – or at least this semester.

Well, I had a few kings and queens of Britain on the wall and Rae took Mary I off the wall and whipped this drawing up in two minutes while I got the day’s lessons out.

Rae practicing her water-coloring (she tends to use it as you would acrylic) and Mae wrote chapter one of her book she is writing as they watched Disney’s Elephants.

Mae mapping out Chapters 4-6 of “Seabird” for geography.

Using up extra paint. (and enjoying a Moon Pie Grandpa got her at the store)

Trying to see how her braid looks.

One evening, Rae came to me and asked if I would like to go draw with her.

Of course I would.

We spent just over an hour drawing together. Sometimes she would come up with something we would both draw and the rest of the time we came up with our own and oohed and awed over what the other had thought of.

A couple nights later, Mae chose for us to all (Daddy included) to play her favorite game – Settlers of Catan. Rae spent the first twenty minutes painting on the side, while Mae took after her mama in trying to collect all the sheep. We had to pause the game many times for our laugher and competition and she has asked for us to bring back regular game nights.

Oh, and Mum won, in case you’re wondering! Woot!

The girls chose a couple of the biographies for this month and also studied Martin Luther King, Jr. about a week before his birthday.

(The next biographies will be C.S. Lewis and Gina Carano.)

A comfy reading spot.

I heard this author (M.E. Bell) on a podcast last month. She is a twenty-something Irish “Mae” who wrote this short story, The Glass Country – a Narnia-type metaphor full of lovely characters and gorgeous descriptions. We read it in two sittings (because they have questions and I answer each and everyone, always), but it could be read in an hour.

Speaking of Narnia, read the final book in the series this month!! It begins with two characters, a donkey and a chimpanzee. My girls began a discussion about the difference between a monkey and an ape, letting me know they had never learned the difference. That pretty well decided our afternoon.

We watched some documentaries on Disney plus – which specifically cover apes. We also studied the differences between the two and studied the above apes and monkeys.

We may continue talking about the book/series and possibly complete a project on it in February to give the series a proper send off.

This semester we are bringing back Monday/Friday group days and individual days with mom in the middle of the week. One on one is so much fun!

I’m not a fan of stick figures, but Rae’s illustration of Eric the Red’s second journey to Greenland makes me very happy and seems to be a great note to end the post on.

The rest of the week will be spent reviewing the month, reading, playing games, and creating for fun.

We also went on a field trip to the St. Louis Art Museum. We will *hopefully* be going on more field trips next month.

SNOWY DAY AT S.L.A.M.

We didn’t go on any field trips last semester – or the one before. We are still only going out to grocery shop, pick up books from the library, and for our weekly visit to Vovó…oh and the occasional trip to the park. But this semester, we are going to get out and visit more places on unpopular days – like last Friday, it was snowy/rainy and uninviting to most folks, which made it the perfect day to visit the art museum!

photo by Mae
photo by Mae

This is the ceiling in the room where they house Egyptian artifacts. The girls loved it just as much as the mummies.

photo by Mae

Rae brought her sketch book, and would on occasion sit down and draw something she saw that she wanted to remember – or just thought it would be fun to draw.

We are beginning lessons on the Middle Ages, and we are nearly to knights and such, so I was excited to brows that area of historical artifacts and paintings.

They also liked seeing stuff from the Byzantine Empire, ancient Greece, Monet paintings, as well as, finally seeing some Picassos in person. Oh, and as always, Mae enjoyed viewing furniture and room displays from the 17 and 1800s. She is in her element when immersed in history.

We took a lunch break with Chipotle in the back of the van and watched a bit of Anastasia on my phone before heading back in to continue oohing and awing at everything.

LATELY : DECEMBER 2020

December this year was our first in this house! It was nice spending so much of the month celebrating with the girls and getting festive and excited with my mother-in-law. And! We got an entire week with Zack!

We spent every weekend from Thanksgiving week to the last weekend before Christmas (about 12 days) at our old house, and on one of those trips, Miss Maybe was blessed with a visit to the vet to get her nails clipped! Yes, blessed is the appropriate term for her visit.

The lady was giddy and b e s i d e herself waiting for someone to come out and get her.

It was 25 minutes of “WHY AREN’T WE GETTING OUT OF THE CAR, MOOOOOOM!”

She nearly dragged the poor man up to the door when he finally arrived and she was proud as punch as she strutted back to the car three minutes later with her fresh manicure.

Here she is, afterward, snoring through the girls’ lessons. She wore herself out…or I was boring her, ha.

The girls had some -as it turned out- very important dental visits. More on that in the January posts. The dental assistant we always get was a homeschool mom to five kids and is now the grandma to nine homeschooled grandkids! We always have so much to talk about.

^ First thing on the first day of his winter break! We got less than a week with him, before he headed off for a week alone at the old house, but boy what a week. He’s the best.

We spent every Friday watching the Mandolorian, Season 2 and he was there to enjoy the final holiday family stuff, like –

baking cookies, and –

Making homemade gingerbread houses (his is on the right, with the weatherproofed shingles)


We used this recipe, and the soft version you’ll want to eat is here.

A photo to add to Vovo’s gift. (Rae isn’t taller yet, she is standing on a rock)

Grogu (not “Baby Yoda”) joined us for school on occasion as did some fresh Lego characters.

You can find the school post here.

We just missed the planet alignment on the 21st, but we got to enjoy a few nights of lovely sunsets while watching the planets’ movement.

This was our first Christmas season without a fireplace going, which may have swayed the not-so-cozy vibe of this year. Our girls also couldn’t choose an activity as a gift, since there was nothing to choose from, so this year I got them gifts. It was more fun than I thought it would be, but I am looking forward to getting out with my little family in December 2021!

We tried to incorporate as many new traditions into the month as we could and make it as kid-friendly as our last home was. I think we accomplished that? Above is a string to find a gift Grandma got them to do on Christmas Eve with her after she got home from work. I think I may find a way to make the experience more special next year. (they liked it, it just felt more scripted than full of wonder, which is what they thought it would be)

The string led them to this cute Lego set Grandma got them to work on with her while watching a Christmas movie. Turns out, Rae would rather sit by herself without direction and complete it in silence (very like her mama) and she went downstairs to build her own Lego thing alone. So, Mae and I had a lot of fun putting these together, and they played Christmas Bingo with the entire family while we waited for supper to get out of the oven.

We kept our family’s tradition of personal homemade pizzas for Christmas Eve supper – and this year PapaDeedee got to join in!

We got a late start to Christmas morning (It’s hard to wrangle 7 people), so the girls and I cooked breakfast and watched A Christmas Story for the fourteenth time while waiting.

^ Opening the gifts from each other. Rae got a dog-care set (a leash, food bowl, bed, the tiniest Kong toy, etc.) for Meg‘s dog. Mae got a Lego ice cream truck!

They also got the coats they’re wearing (theirs were ripped and a couple of years old -Rae’s was my coat from college), and the scrunchies ’round their ankles…among other things.

They also got science, craft, and hands-on gifts, which they wasted no time enjoying!

Mama Bunny unloading her Costco-size Old Bay seasoning and then taking a breather after putting away the groceries and cleaning the kitchen.

They also got, in their stocking, some Mini Brands. What a hit. They are a surprise ball (which Zack and I normally despise), that is filled with mini versions of things you could find around your house. Cleaner, cereal, seasonings, paper shopping bags, shopping baskets, boxes of pasta, a bag of shredded cheese, etc. It was their one request. They wanted it for the dollhouse and it worked wonderfully.

Mae also got a car for her Calico Critter family and a kitchen set (the blender, toaster, waffle maker, and so on)

After some playing and lunch, Grandma came down to our part of the house and watched Soul with us. Such a pretty movie.

The grandparents at one point brought up the New York ball drop and the girls wanted to watch it this year, since there is cable in the house. Well, every song was inappropriate for kids, so between leaving on account of the songs and the commercials (we don’t like the girls to watch commercials), it became an hour of waiting and not watching anything.

We weren’t hungry for treats and Rae just really wanted to be in bed (as we usually are). Mae, however stayed up the extra hour to greet our midnight, said a prayer, and blew out a candle in her Greatest Showman style candle holder.

New Year 2021, Daddy has assured us he will be home with us, and we may take the girls on a trip, just the four of us. Somewhere with snow!

Hope everyone had a lovely December and is fully enjoying their new year (chaos of the country aside, of course)!

SCHOOL : DECEMBER 2020

For school in December, as usual, we took things s l o w. Every year I resist the urge to take the entire month off (as a lot of homeschoolers do). The girls and I would just feel restless with an entire month off. So, instead, we skipped the formalities and honed in on what they felt like learning in the moment. This year they chose Saint Nicholas, winter crafts, new-to-them games, and writing for Mae.

We switched our devotions over to a Christmas themed one, but for the most part, we just stuck with reading the Bible, and expanding on verses.

We also read many many holiday themed books, including one of our favorites, The Quiet Little Woman and a new one for us (per their deep intrigue), The True Saint Nicholas. I loved the timing of this one. His life was intertwined in the history timeline we just finished up, so the girls knew every historical figure mentioned as well as each setting with great detail. Mae (like her momma) was geeking out and was so so glad she could picture everything so well in her mind. It also brought to their minds, our beloved, George Muller – and of course Christ.

For our old best neighbors / For my Vovo.

The girls made salt dough ornaments –

2 CUPS BAKING SODA
1 CUP CORNSTARCH
1 1/4 CUPS WATER

Mix baking soda and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, then add water.
Stir with a cooking spoon (wooden or silicone). Fold dough up from the bottom so it doesn’t burn.
It will go from syrup to gravy to pancake batter and the whipped mashed potatoes. Remove from heat. If you’re unsure, stay on the side of softness, dry dough will crumble.

Let dough rest until cool enough to handle. Scoop dough into damp dishcloth or tea towel. Form it into a ball and wrap it in cloth until completely cool (15 minutes or so.).

When ready, knead the dough until it goes from sticky to smooth. If it remains sticky, add cornstarch.

Roll out with a rolling pin or bottle and cut with cookie cutters or a butter knife. Our house was cut with a butter knife, and the star and Star Wars characters we used cookie cutters.

The girls painted them with acrylic paint and I coated them with glossy clear spray paint. (Mandolorain was left matte)

Mae practiced her sling-shotting while Daddy and I worked on the old house.

We have begun an art series on portraits. We will be watching a variety of YouTube videos from many different artists. The first one discussed proportions and placement in detail – things Mum has mentioned, but sometimes they need to hear things from someone who isn’t Mum…

These illustrations were created while watching this video.

Mae asked to do lessons that involved writing, so we worked on creating better sentences quite a bit.

We also began editing her stories, using a thesaurus – boy did we get some giggles out of that activity!

We also taught them new games, such as Clue, shown above. I won the first round, but the following day, Mae won!

We also braved the cold and rain to keep up our walks. It was a chore sometimes. We may bring out the bikes to ensure a quicker lap time on the really cold days.

For German this month, the girls memorized O Tannenbaum in full. It was so lovely listening to them sing along on their own in the car when it would come on. They really enjoyed memorizing a song in German, so we may try a story or poem next…or another song? We still use Duolingo as well as videos from the library and “first-word” books, but for December we focused solely on the song.

I’ll be posting about our Christmas and the rest of our December later this week. I hope your Januarys are starting off on the right foot!

LATELY: NOVEMBER 2020

Miss Maybe fell even more in love with her mama.

Rae turned EIGHT!!! I have not written her letter yet, as we have been out of town every weekend during the month (including her birthday morning), and I just can’t find a quiet time to clear my head. Hopefully I don’t put it off too long. She certainly deserves a quality acknowledgment of just how much her existence means to us.

Rae has been talking about the movie, Soul, for a year now, and it comes out Christmas day! I have really enjoyed her drawings over the past few months.

Normally they don’t wear masks at the park, but – for once, there were other folks there – many many other folks there. She just looked so big to me at this moment…

As I mentioned, we spent much time at our old house, including Zack’s six day holiday break at the end of November. That week was the most quality time we’ve had with Zack in probably two years. It was much needed so we could both make big headway on the house and spend time, just the four of us, without anything else to do. It was lovely.

SCHOOL : NOVEMBER 2020

We spent the month learning our second verse of the year, Colossians 3:12.

Part of our history involved the aboriginals of Australia and New Zealand, so we elaborated the lessons with art, documentaries, comparing their colonization to ours, and listening to the Australia movie soundtrack as well as aboriginal music.

The girls both spent time working on paper mache projects – Rae a giraffe that holds treats or other items she wants and Mae made a black bear mask.

While, the girls get lessons very unlike the lessons I had in public school – in regards to the Thanksgiving holiday, and we don’t really see it as something to celebrate…and we are deliberate about practicing thankfulness all year – they did decide to make a thankful pie (They don’t even like pumpkin pie, ha). They started out writing in cursive, but slowly began writing in print.

Mae kept up her hot glue gun practice and made herself a layers of the earth disc.

More pumpkin pie, made out of Play dough.

Amelia also made a layers our the Earth model – out of Play dough. I didn’t get a photo of the inside.

Penelope found the sketchbook I keep in my purse and has been filling it up with gems,

Enthralled with the day’s lessons.

Helping Mum out when my voice gets tired. She usually reads the devotions.

“Morning time” in the sunroom, involves a lot of reading and “keeping busy” (or relaxing) when I am doing the reading.

We finished up our government lessons (for now) by watching and charting the election, and watching speeches one the winning votes came in.

They spent an hour at the library and followed it up with some more reading at the store. They still have 30 minutes to an hour of daily reading time set aside, usually once afternoon school is done, or just before bed. They still both enjoy comic novels and chapter books for their independent reading, while I read them short stories and at least one group novel. November’s book was Narnia’s The Silver Chair. (Narnia foreverrrrrr!)

Mae is still finishing up her portrait. I, and they, still prefer watercolor and gauche paint. We’re working to get less annoyed with acrylic – which is Zack’s go-to.

She did, however, enjoy, making a Christmas tree craft out of scrap wood from one of Daddy’s projects, hot glue, tiny pinecones (gifted from our beloved Mrs. Brenda), and acrylic paint.

There was, of course, much much more, but we have moved onto our very full December, so I’ll leave it here. I hope everyone was able to enjoy a long weekend (or some version of it).

LATELY: OCTOBER 2020

October, as always, was just the best…at least as far as the three of us are concerned.

Nearly daily walks with my girls – and check out that arm hold. Being in close contact to Mama is still a must with them (Miss Maybe included) and I am forever grateful.

A black cat and pumpkins. How could I not…

Leaving my side to hunt the birds that live in the vines.

I hope the birds stick around through the winter. I love the abundance of chirping going on around our deck.

They didn’t make a pile to jump in (they did in our old yard when we visited), but they made plenty of fun out of our supply, and made a few piles for the fun of raking.

We took the girls to a pumpkin patch early in the month and I think we may just make that patch our ‘usual’ spot. They had a a lot of fun. I am also grateful that during the corona virus era, my girls have a few cousins that are our ‘regulars’, so they still get some interation with other kids, however few and far between those visits may be.

Daddy also stuck around to go with us, before heading away for the weekend. We sure do love that guy.

New Barbie and a new trick! Her sister would probably climb to the top, but my mama’s heart appreciates Rae’s gingerly approach to adventure.

The girls camped outside (on Mars) on a very cold night! They brought ‘space food’, Barbies, and of course – not enough blankets. This photo is from the morning after, and they didn’t regret a thing.

Mama and Mae.

Mae turned TEN!

As her gift from Zack and I, she chose to take her best friend-cousin out for tea and shopping, which we did the weekend before her actual birthday…and of course, M’s mama, Anna came along, too!

The morning of her birthday, we went to a park. So glad it was a lovely day for her!

Waiting for her cupcakes to come out of the oven. (before the park)

Rae got her a Uma Barbie (from The Descendants) and the grandma’s spoiled her good. In the second photo, she is wearing an outfit, knee-high toe socks, and a new scooter she received from the grandmas. My dad also came over for supper (spaghetti) and stuck around for the fireworks that Daddy surprised her with.

We tried to decorate here and there for the holiday, but we weren’t feeling it so much. Last year was the best and maybe I just felt it was hard to beat?

Zack finished our cabinets at the other house!

The girls and I spent a weekend there with him accomplishing tasks and we had a lot of fun. We mostly cleaned (deep cleaned) and made sure he was eating actual meals when the time came, while also taking breaks to watch a movie or read. It was nice.

Rae’s drawing. I really like her.

I turned 33 and we celebrated with Chipotle and a walk around Ikea. I also had a day-of celebration here at home with Shari and PapaDeedee, full of food and presents!

The girls and I went to the courthouse to vote early and they got their very own “I voted” stickers.

The girls went back and forth with their Halloween plans this year. They decided on dressing up and watching a movie. Saturday morning, however, they decided to go to a trunk-or-treat at Grandma’s church. They had a lot of fun and were able to come home in time to watch a movie while they sorted their treats.

November is starting out warm and lovely, and Miss Rae is turning eight in a few days! Hooray!