BOYS IN SEPTEMBER

It has been so fun having the boys around this semester! Occasionally trying sometimes as I try and juggle the needs and desires of four children, but I couldn’t ask for better kids to have around.

G is eversograteful anytime we’re able to go outside. His favorites right now are riding in the wagon, chasing cats, checking on his ladybirds and collecting their eggs, swinging (yes please!), riding his bike in the yard and playing with the water gun.

He is obsessed with the cats. He is always just as excited about his fifteenth daily sighting as he is at his first upon his arrival in the morning. He’s becoming so much sweeter and tamer around them, they often gravitate towards him now.

G is never far from Rae. She’s mostly okay with this. Haha.

^ photos of A sitting up were taken by Rae ^

We made pretty regular trips to the library this month. It’s always a little daunting taking four kids anywhere solo, but we tend to go when we’re the only ones there. That helps.

We’ve got plans to see these boys outside of our home tonight at a town movie night and tomorrow at their grandma’s house. I’m so glad they never seem sick of me or react as one does when they see a teacher in public.

EXTRA! CURRICULARS!

 

Mae went back to dance classes after a break for the summer. Week one was very exciting for her! This year she is taking two classes! Ballet, tap, and jazz as one class and another to help in strengthen technique and flexibility and brush up on terms and whatnot.

That last photo up there is of her watching Leap before her first class! Gettin’er pumped – as if she needed help…

Rae totally loves Leap, too. She was smiling a second before, honest.

Sometimes Rae and I (and so far, Zack) shop for groceries. Sometimes Rae and I sit at the studio and read / watch Netflix on my phone while Zack grocery shops.

We bring Mae supper between classes (very exciting!). She chose Sonic for her first night because that is what the “big girls” eat during their supper breaks. So sweet.

Sometimes we’re hungry before class and eat on the way, so then she’ll get a snack between classes. Junk food. Oh boy. They’re in heaven.

On gymnastics night, we go somewhere and sit and talk for an hour or so. On this particular night, we brought peanut butter sandwiches to eat before class and stopped by Panera for desserts (homemade junk food. Ha.) and tea.

With all of the going back and forth (their lessons are around a half an hour drive one way), there is plenty of downtime. So far we listen to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and various kid’s podcasts in the car and talk about all manner of things. It’s pretty terrific.

Having her sister with her this year has been better for Rae. She’s sticking with it this time around. No ifs or ands. They’re both killin’ it – and hopefully making friends in the process.

RIVER WITH DADDY

Zack rarely gets to go to the river with us anymore. If he does, it is for a ride in the canoe, and we’ve only done that once this year! Very rarely.

The other night, I was really itching to get out of the house before the sun went down. Usually, that’s when I would grab the girls and run for the hills. This time, Zack was home, so we asked him to go.

He had just cleaned the car (it looked better than new!) and wasn’t too keen on them messing it up, so we skipped the whole getting in the water part of it and just snooped for frogs and tossed a couple rocks. Rae caught a frog and eventually set it free. We were pretty sure her sturdy toss killed it, but it eventually swam away.

Not the most magical of evenings, but it beat watching television!

DEAR RAE

 

Dear Rae,

It has always bothered me when someone is fanatical about something, or somewhere, or someone – except when it came to you and Star Wars. It began when you were two. Maybe you were even younger.

I never did quite figure out what it was about those films that you enjoyed. I enjoy them, but what can a two-year-old get out of it? You knew the names of every character (with the exception of movies one through three – ’cause ew). You had -have?- a crush on Luke Skywalker but otherwise favored every member of the dark side. You knew the entire Imperial March tune by heart before your third birthday and hummed it frequently and would march around knees high and proud.

Well. Today, Rae, I asked, “Would you like to watch Star Wars?” and you said, “No.”

Just like that.

I’m sure you still adore them, but I can’t help but feel it was a phase and you – a child who does not make changes lightly – are beginning to move on.

Thankfully, your beloved C3PO and Hux figurines (you call them “figure actions”) are still making the rounds from car to couch to bed.

Hold on just a ‘tweensie bit’ longer for me. K?

My phone’s two-year mark has come and gone. With that came the usual side effects – quick draining battery, slower reaction time, etc. What I didn’t expect was my camera to stop focusing. My camera has two water spots on the lens which was well, I dunno…annoying? Not enough to fuel a desire to order a new lens, though.

Well, I finally decided to leave my Nikon permanently dusted off.

Day one yielded such good results (according to me). I caught myself noticing little details like I used to, like the girls’ matching stance as they worked through a poem and I played with the baby on the floor. G looking oh so cool biting his nails, staring off into space, while wearing “boss glasses,” and Rae scrubbing dishes from above as I grabbed cinnamon from the spice cabinet for Mae’s pancakes.

Rae even took an interest and snapped a photo of me changing a diaper…and about twenty photos of the “flamingo parade” from Planet Earth II (not pictured).

LATELY : : AUGUST 2018

August was filled with several heart-breaks, finished projects, and new responsibilities for the upcoming fall semester.

The heart-breaks came in the form of unexpected deaths. One of an old friend, one was a student of Zack’s, and one was our sweet boy, Buckey. I began writing this post at the beginning of the month, stretching it further as things happened. I decided to leave my simple insignificant thoughts about Buck as they were. It’s still so weird that he is not around.

All that being said – this post is a weird one for me. The beginning of the month is very different from the ending.

Zack began the month with meetings and a sense of comfort blended with the unknown that comes with a new year and new students and now has an entire month of school out of the way.

The girls and I started the month by helping Zack unpack the fresh art supplies for him and the other art teacher. That always feels good and gets him eager to start teaching again. I noticed him swooning over the painting and paper supplies Terrill received. He sure is going to miss teaching drawing and painting this year.

*Also! This is his seventh year teaching!

Bucky Boy. He takes up the entire couch but still thinks he’s a lap dog…

See. Insignificant thought now very significant.

Our neighbors gave us blackberry bushes two years ago and they are finally bearing substantial fruit! Sure, the birds get most of it, but that’s okay because we enjoy having birds in abundance.

We took many a trip to the hardware store for paint and wood and wood and paint. We have finally painted the majority of the walls! …in the front of the house. Honestly, I barely noticed the drywall, but I really enjoy how bright the front of the house is now.

We attended the memorial for our friend, Sarah, who passed away. I left my phone in the car but managed to snap this photo just as we were getting out. I just wanted something to reference that night. As sad as it was, it was such a good night full of long-overdue reunions.

As I mentioned, our boy, Buckey died. I found him as I went to take him ‘potty’ and thought he was sleeping. Thankfully he didn’t get hit by a car. That is the typical fate for a dog around here. Zack and Rae dug his grave by Mae’s favorite reading tree and we buried him with his favorite things. He was a year and two months old.

G got himself a fresh baby brother, A, over the summer. Their mom went back to work with Zack, so we started watching our favorite little fellas again!

I wrote a post for them back here. Also – they are my cousins. That’s very confusing for many people. While I claim them to the dowting cashier at the grocery store, I did not birth, foster, or adopt these kiddos. I just hang out with them when public school is in session.

She has been the number one helper with the hens this month!

I added a post about our schooling this month, here. I accidentally left out this gem of a photo. It’s always exciting to finish an assignment! No victory too small in this house!

Mae wrote that “Pen” and shouted, “Look, Mom! It’s in computer mode!” Clever girl.

^ Those feet!!! ^ (and Buckey!)

The girls each grew twelve feet this summer. I’m so grateful they are healthy and growing like weeds but it’s so gradual that when I finally get around to observing a change, it’s always such a shock. I’m sure that is the case only when they are your own children, so, let’s move on-

As the warm weather is going farther away, the cats are hanging around the house more and being extra snuggly. Bailey fell asleep like that…right on her neck. She lied there until the cat’s nap was over. One of her happiest moments, I’m sure.

Rae drew a lot. It’s not unusual for her to draw, she just drew / colored every spare moment she had this month. E V E R Y spare moment. Most of her drawings were portraits of me. Her absolute favorite person. (I’m writing the story – I can tell it any way I want)

The girls had a regular dentist check-up. So far so good! I can’t help but hold my breath in the assumption that one of them is going to inherit my garbage teeth. I really hope they don’t.

One of our favorite cousins, KaLyn, married her best friend! (She is G and A’s aunt.) It was such a great evening. Their vows – written in secret – synced up perfectly, his seemed to be a response to hers. and they danced to Flight of the Conchords. Perfect.

Zack and I also learned, “Real men place their left hand atop their right.” 

Look how manly they appear. Scores more manly than the did moments before with their arms dangling about willy-nilly.

Thanks, Logan.

At about 10:30 that night, Mae fell on the dance floor (the ground) and busted her nose. She’s fine and got snuggles and selfies in abundance back at Grandma’s house until about midnight.

The girls have really enjoyed getting back into the habit of slow evenings filled with their “handicrafts.” So far their favorite ways to spend time doing things while listening to a book or unintrusive music has been practicing their stitches and building with Legos. It’s so so nice.

I thought once school started back up, the girls would get less time with their friends, but so far, that’s not the case!

Mae even had her first sleepover without her sister. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. In the end, Rae really seemed to need time with just Daddy and I. Just one night though. She missed Mae somethin’ fierce.

We took a couple trips into the city this month…they were all trips to Ikea – shocker – but this time we actually bought things. Ha. We picked out new furniture. We didn’t have enough seating for all four of us to sit down at the same time. (The smaller couch is now back in the girls’ room.)

Our friends, Daniel and Heather, had their fourth baby this month. He has had some issues. We took a short trip up to visit him (and Heather) in St. Louis. I didn’t take a photo of their sweet boy, Joshua, but I took a few within the hospital’s rooftop garden…and of Mae being adorable on the way home. That kaleidoscope was so cool. the wind blowing the leaves made it exceptional.

The girls started gymnastics! They also seem to favor the same two leotards…cuties.

As Zack was finally mowing the lawn the other day – the first time since June! – I snuck the girls away and explored the river down the road. The water was warm, yet the air felt like fall. We had the place to ourselves (another mom showed up with her daughter and they swam, just as we were leaving). We saw one crawdad and one minnow. No tadpoles, but plenty of rocks and leaves!

Once the mosquitoes get gone, we’ll be back. Zack and I prefer the river in the fall (Him on account of the sun, me on account of the mosquitoes). Maybe he’ll be able to join us next time.

AND – I know I shouldn’t rush the seasons, I should enjoy the moment. But. Rae is still getting ticks, our air conditioning went out over a month ago, and we’ve had just enough cool and rainy days this month to get me in the mood for fall. I’m over you, summer. Please be colder, September!

SCHOOL IN AUGUST

It’s a new school year! Okay, we never really stop our school year, but we spent the summer focused on reading and otherwise solely learning through living. Hippy much?

When Zack heads back to teaching art at our public school, we get back to more of a schedule or at least a guided system of learning. I love the back to school season and the structure of it all. Well, as structured as a hippy can be…

The girls have been back at it for almost a month now. Here is what we have been up to!

The girls have (at least) two big projects for this school year. The first is one on ecosystems. We’re following along with Properties of Ecosystems. So far we’ve done a lesson a week – on our own habitat, food chains, etc. – and we made our own worm farm – an idea from the book – and charted its progression. When we are done, we’ll dump the worms into Mae’s large compost she has going on in the backyard.

We are also working our way through Fun and Easy Nature and Science Investigations. It is small lessons that always involve a hands-on approach to the subject – from an easy task of filling in rain record sheets to something just as easy, but more complex, like watching mold ‘bloom’ on food. This we will do here and there and won’t be scheduled unless it directly relates to something else from the book above – or, you know, if it happens to be raining a lot ( hello next seven months! )

Their second large project is a catechism study. Why we believe what we believe. We are using the New City Catechism app as a guide on where to ‘go’ next. They will spend until November studying the Holy Spirit and will spend that entire time memorizing the verse above – John 14:16-17.

We recite the verse as well as add a discussion onto our morning devotion. We still use Indescribable for our devotion – because, science! 

This fall, the girls’ biography studies will go along with our colonial time-period research.

We read through If You Lived in Colonial Times and If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days while they painted their portraits as if they were chapter books. We didn’t plan on breezing through them.

We also read related portions from The Story of the World – Early Modern Times (My all-time favorite history ‘textbooks.’ I read through all of them as though they were novels. So, if you like history, you may like them on their own)

The girls have slowing begun getting back to writing their penpals. Hopefully, we can keep it a once a month deal – and once a week for Grandma since e-mail does not require stamps.

We do a lot of “narration.’ I will read them a story or passage from something and they tell it back to me in their own words (I separate them for this part). As they talk, I write it down word for word – recalling the story to help them really think about what they’ve heard. Then they spend time writing it down for handwriting practice and illustrating it to practice their drawing skills.

For this, so far, we’ve read some Aesop’s Fables for Kids, and short stories by Beatrix Potter.

The girls also do ‘poem paintings’ – this month, and possibly this entire semester because we have so many – we’re concentrating on poems about animals. Our entries come from Over in the Meadow and Eric Carle’s Animals Animals.

For grammar, Rae is working through sight words. Something I never did with Mae but they learn differently and I think she’ll learn better this way. We’re using some flashcards, a list of words I wrote myself, and a Paw Patrol wipe-away book. She is also reading through some BOB Books (which we love!) and some Dick and Jane level books. I’m also using methods from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons without digging the actual book out.

Mae s working through English Lessons Through Literature Level 2, Learning Grammar Through Writing, and Primary Language Lessons.

Geography! My favorite subject!

The girls are still getting skilled at reading maps. For this, we’re working through Sucess with Maps and simply pulling out a map and observing it. Also this year for the girls’ birthdays, Grandma got them a subscription to Little Passports. They’ll get stuff from a new country every month! I’ll try and dedicate extra time to diving deeper into each country, such as eating the food they eat (both meals and treats) and listening to their music while we work.

BOOKS

Group Read AloudMeet Felicity | Magic Tree House – Viking Ships at Sunrise (Basically the movie Secret of Kells) |Smith of Wootton Major | Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot – Uranium Unicorns | The Black Star of Kingston | The Mouse and the Motorcycle  | Eerie Elementary – Recess is a Jungle

*Smith of Wootton Major is very expensive. We got it from our library. There is a free online PDF of the entire book (It’s short) here.

*The Black Star of Kingston is a prequel to the Green Ember Series by S.D. Smith – which is fantastic.

Audiobooks | Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – We listen to audiobooks in the car and while doing ‘handiwork’ – Legos, sewing, crocheting, clay, etc.

Mae’s Self-readingThe Princess in Black | Penny and Her Doll | Amelia Bedelia |Helicopters and Gingerbread (her favorite!) | Sounds of Numbers

She has also read several short story books to herself and the other kids ^ those are just the ones her and I sat together and read.

Foreign Language | Mae wants to learn French and Mandarin – Zack thinks she should learn Spanish, ’cause, America – or Mandarin. For now, she uses a Little Pim app for French and wants to start watching all of our movies in French. Once we decide on a language, she’ll likely use Duolingo. Hopefully by the time she graduates she will know a few languages. One or two fluently and a few basics for others.

DEAR MAE

Oh, Miss Mae…

This post has been in draft mode for quite some time. I can’t quite think of how to put all of the things I feel into the right words.

SO! This letter will be a list. A list of some things about you that I’m so very grateful for…

Let’s begin with your unwavering commitment to snuggling. I could not be more proud. You press your head over my heart, wrap your arms around to my back and tuck your knees up to your chest making it so they lie on mine. Then, you stay put for many many minutes. It’s terrific.

Whats more, you kiss me with quite the confident pucker and you dig hand-holding just as much as I do.

You are always up for anything – a trip, an activity, folding laundry, changing A’s diapers, legit tea parties, helping with construction projects, cooking when I’m drowning in responsibility or simply not feeling well, or curling up on the couch with me just so we can sit still next to one another with no agenda (the best!).

You tell me all of your hopes and dreams the moment they spark into existence. (also the best!)

You let me stare at your face as long as I want, whenever I want.

You’re the funniest human I know. Like, the quickest wit expressed with clever adult word-age. Words very unlike the word word-age.

You still refer to people as humans. Every time. Not to be funny, simply to be specific.

You are curious. I know that is a typical characteristic of a child – but you seem to excel at curiosity. You want to know everything about everything. I’m very grateful I’m in a position to take the time to figure out the answers to the universe with you.

You are still gentle – unless a certain joke requires you to be boisterous. Anything for a laugh.

Along those lines – you fully commit to a joke and believe there is never a wrong time to be hilarious. You’ve never had a comment fall short of brilliant. Ever.

You’re an incredible artist – dancing, drawing, and acting. Like your daddy, you can put on a performance at a moments notice. I love that about him and love that I see that part of him in you.

You strive to verbalize foreign accents perfectly, once again, like your daddy does.

You are never short of compliments. You constantly tell us kind, uplifting things about ourselves and make us feel not only loved but noticed.

I can’t believe I get be your momma. I get you. You are so bright and fill us all with an untamable joy.

MY BOYS!

The new school year has begun here, and that means that our boy, G, is back – and this year, he brought a friend! I have to say, his brother, A, may steal Mae’s Easiest Babe of All Time crown. I’m pretty stoked.

As I began to type the August round-up post (I write it slowly throughout the month), I realized I had too many photographs of these fellas and decided to give them their very own post.

So here goes…

Rocking a baby has to be one of my favorite ways to spend an hour. A seems more than happy to go along with it anytime I feel so inclined.

G still adores the hens. He picked up right where he left off with his bird-related chores. So far he’s only broken one egg!

The girls are over the moon that they are now five and seven – both suitable ages for holding and feeding babies.

^ Illegally sitting on the table (scissors and Sharpies!). But there was a Mario maze game up there, so at least it was for a good reason.

G typically follows Mae around. He repeats nearly every word she says and sometimes mimics her movements. They cute.

G fits on Mae’s American Girl scooter. Whatababe, but I think I need to find our balance bike…

A, like his brother, enjoys dancing any chance he gets. We’ve never had so many ‘dance parties’!

A joins us for afternoon school. It’s so nice when we are able to study outside!

His momma has red hair and it looks like he has red hair, but after both of my girls being ginger-teases, I’m not holding my breath…

I believe my favorite moments have been when the girls take over and really care for the boys. For Mae, that usually means helping change diapers and read book after book to them. For Rae, that means sharing her things with G. Neither Rae nor G are too keen on sharing, so seeing them flip through dinosaur books snuggled close or playing with Star Wars “figure actions” together really makes me happy.

I was worried Rae would feel like a middle child again, but so far (in the past three weeks -ha!) she is doing well and not feeling over-shadowed.

I plan on schooling these boys until they head off to school – and for G right now, that means learning colors, counting to ten, learning names of animals and their sounds, the ABCs (or the “BCs” as he calls them), and getting into a habit of basic chores he’s able to do – unload his own dishes and take them from the table to the kitchen counter, sweep, pick up his toys, wipe the table, feed the hens and collect their eggs, and wash windows – all things he already enjoys doing anyway!

It is going to be a good school year!!

LAST DAY OF SUMMER VACATION

Welp. Zack starts work at the school today and I start babysitting again, which means, summer is officially over as far as the Rogers are concerned. We are ready. I’m so excited to have my boy and his baby brother around again and I’m very excited to get into the swing of a new school year with the girls.

We still had some things to do before work began again, projects we wanted to get done before the never-ceasing schedules of fall consume us. Yesterday, our last day, we took a break and spent a few hours away from all the responsibility and took the girls fishing!

The girls started school yesterday, so when we arrived at the river, I took the girls’ first day back to school photos.

We’ve fished a lot over the years, but the girls have never caught anything. I blame the locations we chose. Zack’s location was perfect! The girls each caught their first fish…and their second and their third!

We ended the evening with supper at a new pizza place. It was the greatest pizza I’ve ever eaten! Ever.

Zack painted that picture on the wall above the girls. I’m so glad I got to witness the look on their faces when I told them their daddy painted it. It was gold. He’s doing another one there soon but I hope we’re able to eat there again before that happens.

August duties are piling up with every passing second. I’m so glad we took one last chance to relax, just the four of us. We’ve got another mini family getaway planned before Zack’s students are due back – hope we don’t chicken out and fill that time plastering walls or mowing the lawn…