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!

SCHOOLING OCTOBER 2020

Happy November? It’s too soon to tell, but let’s assume it is. Last month’s schooling revolved, mostly, around the election, our country’s history (including various perspectives of various peoples), and our country’s government.

Near the end, we watched Schoolhouse Rock videos and they were able to take the four-minute videos and stretch them, as we filled many gaps, into twenty-minute conversations.

Rae has begun reading and mapping the story of Seabird, via Beautiful Feet Books.

Mae’s/Rae’s

To go along with our lessons on the tundra, the girls each chose to illustrate and learn about moose. I love their illustrations so much!

One of their biographies was on Hayao Miyazaki, one of our favorite animators. As they drew and wrote, they watched a part of a documentary on him that was filmed over ten years (!).

I love that Rae gave him a very funky shirt.

We didn’t have many days where we could/wanted to learn outside, but there were a few and they were lovely.

^Not mad, just being silly.

Math with Rae has been fun this month! We have begun subtraction (of both single and double digits). Turns out visuals is her favorite method. So, we collected her sister’s lovely rocks and some small shells and have been soaring through the lessons.

Reading reading reading. Thankfully, it is still one of their top past times.

I still read aloud to them upwards of ten passages and chapters throughout the day, but my throat gets worn easily and I am more grateful than ever that they are both so drawn to their own reading time.

We have upped our Bible lesson reading and pulled our novel reading back to several short stories (aloud) each day instead. But we will begin novels again in November.

They found the role of eyeball stickers and have had so much fun with them. Anything becomes instantly funny once it wears eyeball stickers.

The girls chose what they would like their president to be like.

Mae chose kind, vegan, a female, fair, smart, and helpful.
Rae chose an artist, nice, a female, and playful.

Zack began making the buildings that represent the three branches of government. They only had time for this one (but will make the others at some point). He took time to help them learn more in-depth, how to use the hot glue gun and an Exacto knife.

In case you’re wondering, this is a flat design with two triangle props on each end in the back.

We are trying to find more ways to incorperate him in our schooling. I hate to involve him in art (no, he is not their art teacher!), but he knows cardboard sculpture like no one else, and certainly better than me.

One of our artist studies was on Robert Delaunay and the girls did their own circle art.

We also studied a bit about Hannah Höch and incorporated her cut and paste method to an ‘about me’ assignment in their devotional.

Next month, we may go back to literal thinking artists, because that is what my brain prefers, but they seemed to have a lot of fun creating their own versions of these, so I may just have to continue to stretch my preferences.

They have also begun learning acrylic painting on canvas. This is Rae’s pick-your-own-theme painting and they each began painting a self-portrait. Shadowing is where they hit a wall, put down the brush and walk away until another day. I will show the final products on another post.

We are spending this day cleaning, regrouping, discussing what we want out of this month, and of course – playing outside in the chilly air!

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 Pokémon (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.