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!

LATELY: MAY 2020

How is June already here??

This month held two weeks of sickness for Mae and I, but also a lot of family time and time spent outdoors. So. Lets get to it…

My mom took us to a bluff/cliff in her town. Shari (my mother-in-law) said they used to ride their horses along the trails…which border the edge. Yikes. The views are incredible, though!

The month started off warm, so the girls broke in a fresh box of chalk and their swimsuits, despite being far from water. We are so excited for the rest of spring and its warmth!!

George has begun going out once a day or so. As a result, we have held a couple bird funerals and had to ease a live bunny out of the house.

Mae and I enjoyed a few walks around the yard exploring our flowers and clipping some to put in the kitchen. The honeysuckle and roses have been oh so nice!

For one of our Sunday lunches, the girls set up a restaurant with Daddy as the cook and Mom as the helper. The girls waited on the grandparents and even earned tips!

Mae took it upon herself to take care of me when I got sick (not ‘the virus’), and as a result, she became sick – despite trying to keep her distance. On the left she is so happy Mom is feeling better, the right is her too weak to sit up to the toilet.

A weed that turned out to be a mutant carrot.

Mae being sick meant I had an abundance of one on one time with Rae. We spent a lot of time drawing, painting and creating, cooking, and cleaning together. We even took a bike ride around the neighborhood and pulled weeds in the soon-to-be melon patch.

Animal Crossing, Lego play, repeat.

Also, Mandalorian is still a great love of Rae’s! Daddy bought her a Lego set with FIVE Mandalorians and a ship (“speeder”?) in it!

She beat Daddy and I at a game of Junk!

We also played a few games here and there, but I am hoping to really increase the number of family game nights we have next month!

DeeDee turned 86! We celebrated with fried chicken, cherry pie, and cards from Rae (Mae was sick at this point).

The girls are still not going out into the world around people (aside from certain cousins we see from time to time, but only them: see next slide), but one day we all rode to the hardware store and waited in the parking lot for Daddy to return. Very exciting.

Those cousins I spoke of went camping with their parents and we were invited to visit with them for a day. It was so nice for them to be around other kids. They made s’mores, swam in a pool, went for a walk, and played around with water guns.

Just when I thought it would be an eternity until they could swim again, a friend, Jim, invited us over to his pond to swim…the very next day!

I think it may be Mae’s new favorite place. They both used a kid-sized kayak for the first time! They were both so brave swimming around independently.

That’s it! I will have a school related post up and write about our pioneer summer soon!

Happy June!

APRIL AT HOME

Precious precious toilet paper gifted to us from our beloved Aunt Karen.

I am grateful, while our lives are in fact very different right now, my girls have not seemed to notice. A month before the prescribed ‘stay home’ we moved into a new home with their grandma and two great-grandparents. Zack was set to join us full-time in May and, well, what timing! The seven of us are all here under one roof.

Aside from a new setting and new ‘roommates,’ our lives are just as calm and full of love, patience, and no worries as before the virus (at least where the four of us are concerned). My girls have not asked to go anywhere in this month, they have no signs of cabin fever (or the virus), and we are all so grateful we can be together.

Maybe is calmer here…ish. She is happy to have so many folks showing her love and an abundance of nap spots, and her fellow cat (ha), George, close by.

Per usual, the April weather has been a hot mess. Wind (Oi the wind!), rain, hail, extreme heat (followed by frost), large beautiful moons, clear skies, and (mostly) cloud cover for days on end.

Poor George is missing all of it. He seems to be adjusting to life indoors, but I know he would love to chase a bird and feel the grass under his paws.

For the time being, Zack and I have built him a ‘sunroom/catio’ for him to use when he needs fresh air. He sort of likes it. We will eventually add a scratching post and a second-story place to rest.

We have been enjoying the occasional family walk/bike ride. We have the place to ourselves during ‘working hours’ even though all other kids are home now.

Dandelions are all the rage right now. Grandma mentioned getting rid of the dandelions next year. I’m not sure the girls would be alright with that.

We saw and purchased the house during the winter and are just now getting to see the wonderful plants in their best state.

The girls are halfway through their year (7 1/2 & 91/2), which means they are growing quickly, seemingly overnight. I’m okay with it. Every age so far has been a great age, and thankfully, that still holds true.

The night before Easter Sunday, Mae made supper solo.

She is used to a ceramic griddle and was upset when they were burned or hard to flip. She also used a box batter for the first time. Not quite the same results as scratch, but she did great!

When we closed on the new house, we often wondered if Shari (never mind the rest of us) would be settled in by Easter. Well, Easter came and everyone had been settled for a full month already. It was so nice knowing the grandparents wouldn’t have to be home alone during that time and that the girls would actually get a big Easter! (I don’t do eggs and bunnies for Easter and Mae lives for a big celebration.)

We used the fancy plates, candles, fresh flowers cut from a tree outside, and had music playing.

We filled the eggs – leftover from Grandma’s previous egg hunts – with jelly beans and quarters.

After lunch, the girls enjoyed a dance party to Ray Charles. It was fantastic.

Grandpa (“Papa”) turned 86. I’m, once again, glad he had a full house of folks there to celebrate!

The janitors are getting a head start on their summer deep clean, so the teachers are clearing out their rooms here and there. Which means we are accumulating 8 years of wonderful past projects!

Zack was very bummed the students couldn’t finish this Millennium Falcon, after working so hard on it all year.

As far as the house goes, well, there as been plenty of activity. There has been construction going on, several days a week this entire month. Even as I type, men are installing a new roof, which began as a project brought on by hail damage. It was perfect timing, though, as we were able to perfectly match it with the room on the new garage/apartment thing, the “barn.”

A few times, the girls and I went down the road to a park (where we weren’t around other folks) and found some new-to-us trails we would like to become our new hangouts once things get back to normal. We also decided this framed site of an old pioneer house would make a great picnic spot on warmer days!

I posted our school goings-on back here.

On a sadder note, this past Tuesday, two of my all-time favorite women passed away, my great-aunt Mary (basically one of my grandmas) and my great-aunt Nell. I’m so glad Zack and the girls got so much time with Aunt Mary during their lifetime and Zack was able to spend time with Aunt Nell (before we had kids).

SCHOOL : APRIL 2020

Homeschooling just gets better and better for me as a mom and a teacher. It has always been some version of good, but -and maybe it is something that has come with time and experience – at this moment it feels as natural as any other part of our lifestyle. Maybe the most natural part.

This month, in this place, has brought such a ‘home school is life’ feeling that so many homeschoolers talk about. The three of us are pretty at peace here.

We now have our computer in the schoolroom, and it is a nice addition. The girls do some online stuff (typing, math, games), and we are able to watch educational programs when they suit our lessons…and when they don’t, like when we discovered two families of eagles via live cam (1 and 2) and became obsessed with watching them take care of there babies.

Mae also enjoys filling some of her free time with Age of Empires 3 and Prodigy math, while Rae prefers PBS games.

We converted our fish tank into a worm farm. Very exciting.

We also started composting again. We ordered seed, and are planning an indoor growing area. We are still waiting for a major job to get done in the yard before we can start a garden, but we should at least have a flower patch again this year. We’ll see.

An ongoing family project has been the creation of country flags. We have ten or so to go until we have covered the ones (still in existence) we have studied about so far. The humidity (on the one warm day this month) got to the tape we used and they began falling down -as Mexico is doing in this photo…

When we moved in the girls requested a disco ball for the school room, and boy is it great. We really enjoy the morning sparkle.

We are an art family. I’m sure that is no surprise to anyone. We work on some form of art every day. In this house, there are so many areas to do such work. As a result, the girls and I have really upped our art…intake? We are doing larger-scale projects without dread of clean up or lack of proper space. It is so much fun!

During the first half of the month, we didn’t use the schoolroom at all. There was construction going on right outside, so we completed formal lessons on the couch (ours downstairs) and spent hours upon hours in what we call the ‘workspace’ creating larger-scale projects and did zero watercolor painting and only one nature drawing (unheard of!).

Rae has, however, drawn and painted plenty everyday on her own.

We found a spot for our swing! I was bummed when the ceilings in our area downstairs were too short (for our tall girls anyway), but I really love it in the school area. They rotate days so there is no arguing over who had it last.

Rae’s / Mae’s Julius Caesar

We finished up our second run-through of The Story of the World – Volume 1 (Nomads to the end of ancient Rome), this time with study questions. Mae has inherited my interest in history. She even requested we have history lessons each day!

I highly recommend The Story of the World series…and the workbooks, but they are good even without. So far there are four volumes. We’ll begin Volume two (“The Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance”) this week.

We are still continuing our German lessons. I am looking for other ways to branch out with German, but I am coming up short.

We are also beginning some large scale projects. Mae will be working on one about our state, while Rae will be working even closer to home -using ideas we found here.

Rae’s New Mexico home.
Mae’s hanging plant

We (They, as I haven’t started mine yet) started building small cardboard homes – based on @houseinhabit’s homes. We still have at least a month’s work to do on them (they dream big). We are waiting on some molding clay to arrive in the mail so they can add food, bowls, etc. inside.

Mae is completing a ‘pioneer barn’ house, Rae is working on a New Mexico adobe style house, and I am torn between a Hobbit hole, Irish farm complete with sheep, and a row of Amsterdam-style homes…or all three…so I’ll finish mine sometime next year, haha.

Practicing her hand sewing and trying new stitches.

We also read through two Narnia books (Prince Caspian and The Silver Chair) this month, began rereading On the Banks of Plum Creek, dug deeper into grammar lessons, as well as progressed farther into math (multiples for Mae and double-digit addition/ subtraction for Rae). We have begun to bake again, and even tackled French macaroons! Mae hopes to try her hand at English coconut macaroons soon.

The rest of May will involve a lot of their Missouri projects, finishing their homes, reading, reading, and more reading, and we will make preparations for our garden(s) and draw up blueprints for summer plant life. We are mostly excited about our flower patches, but we will attempt a few food items. Nothing extravagant though.

SCHOOLING IN A NEW SPACE

Schooling for us during this time of change (between the move and the virus) has not changed. We are still trying to find a good groove. I am fine with taking our time getting a steady routine or being in a forever ebb and flow of schedules, so long as the girls are thriving – and right now, they are.

We have a few different schooling areas but this room is just for the girls and me to work in. Our official ‘schoolroom’. It is SO nice having a quiet space for hanging out with the girls and a dedicated room for the quiet, neater things.

The design of the room has changed many times and will continue to over the next couple of months (we still have things to unpack and it is my nature to change things constantly). We will hang our beloved swing in here, place our family computer in here, and hang shelving, posters, and some sort of board to write on. We may even repaint a wall…or four. For now, a table and a cabinet are perfect.

Our other areas for schooling are Mom’s bed, our family’s living room, and will eventually involve what we have titled the girls’ “workspace” and, of course, the great outdoors.

We have kept up with our usual lessons through all of the changes. I have noticed having designated areas has really boosted they’re enthusiasm for every lesson.

Mae and Grandpa are wearing matching “garage cleaning caps” and Zack and Grandpa are wearing matching cargo pockets. 🙂

One new thing we have added is book logs. We told Mae that once she reads ten chapter books, we will take her to do whatever her heart desires. She read three chapter books in one evening. Haha. She thrives when given a goal or time limit. Well, Corona hit our part of the world, and that has been put off. But! The reading pace continues. One week later and she is on book fifteen, and has nine more stacked up and waiting their turn. (Not that numbers matter, but this is an interest/goals of hers right now)

Rae has joined it and has read seven in that time! I have just continued reading at my normal pace, but began logging mine, and Daddy has also decided to join.

Zack joined us for some nature drawing / taking a nice walk on a warm day. Mae was totally into this, and surprisingly, Rae seemed to dread most of it. Oh well, it was lovely despite a couple frowns here and there.

Another huge change is the outdoor space. The girls can ride their bikes on concrete without loading up the car with bikes first.

We also have multiple places outside around our home to hold lessons and great parks so near to us. I don’t really label our areas of learning like public schools, but the ‘recess’ and ‘gym’ parts of our days have changed for the better.

I imagine schooling will only get better for us from this point on – but as it is, we are really loving our days together in this new atmosphere!

* So much Mae in this post, but Rae is always with us. Bringing the camera out this month just seemed to pull her focus away from what she was fully immersed in.

LATELY : ADJUSTING

This past month has been weird for us for many reasons – none of which involve the Coronavirus.

The girls and I officially moved up to the new house a month ago, just about the time this virus business became serious here. In that month a lot has happened within our little family group.

Shari (Zack’s mom) sold her house in under two hours of being on the market and was moved into the new place with us, and two weeks later her parents moved in!

The following Monday Zack went to work as usual but was told they would be doing online schooling for the next three weeks (really two, since spring break fell on one of those) – so, he is here at the new house as well!

Miss Mae is looking so very old. In my mind nine was much younger than she is seeming to me right now. I hope my heart can handle ten when it arrives!

The warm nights here (few and far between) are magical. Warm breezes, clear, bright skies, and choruses of frogs.

The girls have so many areas to hang at this house and it makes me so incredibly grateful for this situation we have found ourselves in.

^ From when travel was acceptable. Sibling love in the form of ice scraper back scratches.

Sunset on the first evening of spring was so so good!! Check out those tee shirts!

…and then it snowed…

We have been enjoying many trips to one of our favorite parks for walks in the fresh air on the rare occasion it isn’t raining (or snowing).

Miss Maybe. Oh boy. I am not sure she is too thrilled with the new move. So many rules and sighs from Mama. But she still totally loves me and follows me everywhere in the hopes she will receive some love (which she also receives). In a few months, we will have a fence for her and I will calm right on down. Hopefully.

The saddest news I have to tell is that our sweet Bailey girl died at the beginning of March. We are not sure of the cause.

This is the last photo we have of her. I am glad it is of her playing with the girls. She was my favorite animal kid – the sweetest, calmest, most ‘I care about you’ cat (where as most cats tend to give off ‘you can be replaced’ vibes). It is weird not having her around.

Her brother, George, certainly seems to notice her absence. He is our sole cat now. George and Maybe are plenty for this crowded home, but Bailey would have loved it here.

Zack is working from home for the time being. He is the only one here (in our home) who’s life and routine have changed on account of the virus. We just recently got internet set up at the new place, so he traveled to where the free WiFi was available for a few nights.

If things don’t go back to business as usual for him, I think he will do just fine. This being his last year at that school, though, well it would be a bummer if he couldn’t spend his last month with the kids face to face.

As for the girls’ schooling and life in general, things are business as usual – only the setting has changed. My next post will be about the schooling bits from this month.

RINGING IN THE NEW MONTH

Zack and I decided we should camp out in the house for a night before it fills up with folks and things. We had to be there to get some work done last weekend so we decided to introduce the place to Maybe and let the girls run around and around with uninterrupted time for shenanigans.

Miss Maybe was so happy, though I’m sure she wished there was a greater variety of smells. Empty-house smell is not interesting enough. She mostly spent her time (after smelling every inch of space in the house) following me, lying in her new dog beds, watching Daddy install a mirror, and napping in the school room.

Playing games on the phone in their room…completely unaware of my presence…

I found them spying on me (they are very loud spies) so they ran for the hills squealing like little piglets.

Her favorite spot. The doorway of the schoolroom. I am sure when we begin to hold school in there she will prefer to be with Papa and Dee Dee elsewhere in the house.

Constant staircase climbing! I told them to get it out of their system before Grandma moves in, haha.

Dad and Grandpa / Grandpa and Great-Grandpa.

ALSO! Vovo and Grandpa got to stop by and get the grand tour!! I should’ve taken more photos of them there… We are *hoping* they will be over all the time come this summer.

Mae was happiest to find she could fly her kite – and fly it real high! Not a single power line or tree getting in the way. She mostly flew it from the backyard but kept it flying as she came up to the driveway for goodbyes.

SCHOOL FAVORITES

This semester, along with working through multiplication and division, Mae will be running her own bookstore! …on paper…

She is so good at it!

I thought the ‘mark-up percentages’ and taxes would be too much, but she began doing problems like $6.80 marked up 150% in her head! She is learning how to write a check, which may be irrelevant by the time she is old enough to use such things, but I am glad it is included. She pays bills each month out of her monthly ‘allowance’ as well as choose which books and how many of each to order before taking the orders she receives for the month. (It also includes a cheat book for parents, just in case)

We have gone from our once a week schedule of working our way through, to twice a week. She loves it that much. The curriculum lets her run a bookstore for 12 months (or quicker if she wants but it is set up for January through December)

The program is Your Business Math. Rae says when the time comes (it is recommended for 3rd-6th graders) she wants to run a pet shop. I wouldn’t have figured her as someone who would want anything to do with it, but she is. What do I know…

Mae’s Eurasian Bittern
Rae’s European White Stork

The girls have really been doing well on their nature drawings. Rae has been making all of her animals Mexican (traditional, sombrero-wearing Mexicans- like in Coco), and it is adorable. Her stork is also wearing a vest and holding maracas.

The birds were from a lesson on estuaries and the hippo is from a poem Rae did as her daily copy work. We also skipped our ‘no meat’ schtick and ate salmon like Grizzly bears to go along with our estuary study. Raw salmon Nigiri is our favorite way to eat it – Mae says the bears would like it too.

Lastly, Mae picked out a wooden crossbow to build at the store. I had plans to help her, but Zack saw it and got really excited at the thought of building it with her. It was mostly Zack doing the work (some parts took patience and a little strength), but she joined in a bit and watched the process…and has really enjoyed shooting the pegs across the room!

I may do an official February school related post, but lately, I haven’t stopped to grab the camera, so who knows. I hope I do. I always like to look back on things they have (We have) done.

LATELY : JANUARY 2020

I talked a bit about January and its business in the last post but I thought I’d put the few photos I took into a post, for memory’s sake.

Probably the last photo of someone on the bench. This was taken on a Sunday before church.

One of Rae’s Christmas presents from Daddy! Her favorite gift, for sure. Mando is safely tucked inside, ready to save the day.

A cow lady from a cartoon they saw at Grandma’s house.
“Just a Dog” by Rae.

Mae has been drawing roses and animals non-stop! She has drawn one or two large roses, but for the most part she keeps to teeny tiny roses. They’re the sweetest.

She is also still very into drawing characters from the Mandalorian show.

Katie Cat.
Ready to go to the theater!

We read Dr. Doolittle as our first read aloud of the semester, and found out the movie was coming out just as we finished it. Totally by coincidence, but we just had to take them to see it! Thankfully the movie left the racist parts out. The book hit a rough patch somewhere around the middle. We tried to find the 1960s version, but couldn’t. It followed the book more, but the girls loved hearing familiar animal names and they discussed the differences and similarities all the way home from the theater.

We ended the month camping at the new house, but I will put a few photos from that in a separate post.

Hope everyone is enjoying February so far!

LATELY : DECEMBER 2019

Heading to Grandma’s for Christmas.

One day left in January and I am just now getting around to documenting December. I nearly let it go to the wayside but I know I would regret that.

December was a bit of a weird month. School was more random than I care for. Zack has been using my car, so we were (still are) stuck at home all the time. Time drug on and on. Our house was a disaster (still is) from remodeling and we had to put up and take down our decorations a few times. The holiday season was not as sparkly as it usually is. We also bought the girls gifts for the first time since we had no time to fulfill an ‘experiences.’ We did manage to slide our family gift in – which was to see Star Wars in the theater (for the fifth year in a row!).

The last two weeks of December really filled up with plenty of visiting and pretty exciting things!

We had a few run-ins with some snow, but nothing truly great yet, and none on Christmas day. It was, I believe, just enough for the likes of my girls.

The cats are inside nearly full time for the season! They are dog-level needy, but the girls are enjoying George snuggles daily.

We got the keys to the new house December 23rd!

We spent every available moment at the house over Zack’s winter break..and nearly every weekend in January. December had decent, usually warm weather (check out those tee shirts!) so the girls were able to spend their time in the new yard which comes with a treehouse and playground equipment – and space upon space to run!

Two days before Christmas, Grandma realized she was too busy to come to our house (two hours away), so we took our decorations down for the last time, loaded our things into the car, and we to her house two days early.

That tree is the only decoration we had to the Big Day.
They each got ten gifts from Grandma.
Baking cookies alongside Home Alone.
Holly decided to skip the cookie making and settled down in her new jammies with a good book and a warm drink.
Cutest spacklers you ever did see.

We also spent time getting Grandma’s house ready to sell.

She had just moved into this when Zack and I began dating, fifteen years ago!

My brother, Ben, and his family came for a visit (the initial reason we drove up to my mother-in-law’s). I have no photos of Ben or his wife or their son Carson, but plenty of the girls with Susie!

My parents were able to spend time with seven of their nine grand-kids!

We walked around parks and Downtown Saint Charles, played many games, and just over all enjoyed being together for about a week.

Before heading back to our little corner of the world, we took the girls and my mom to Ikea, just ’cause we like it.

The girls are still so good at pretending. I often let them act out a situation in each room display. They could spend hours in there. We even ate lunch there that day. Zack and I really like the 1970s thing they’ve got going on. All my favorite colors and styles done right and all in one place. Yes, please.

I don’t typically wish days away, but I was glad to see December go. There was so much to be overwhelmed by. January hasn’t been much different honestly (so much to do at home!!), but at least it flew right on by!

I think I took about three photos in January, so it will be interesting to find out what I recall mentally from the whirlwind of driving, fixing, packing, driving, teaching, cooking, driving, and the constant ‘doing.’ We have experienced seven years of living in a home as we remodel it, but somehow we haven’t felt the chaos of it until now.

BUT! The kitchen is clean and that is something…happy February!