MAYBE

I’m a dog-mom again! Meet Miss Maybe.

…only about a year sooner than we planned, but she sure is sweet. She couldn’t stay with her previous family and Lord knows we’ve got the space (and love) to spare for people-less animals.

Zack and I are self-proclaimed cat people. The kind of cat people that will always own a dog and Maybe sure is a great dog to have around.

She seems to be a mix of our past three dogs – Maple, Rosie, and Buckey. While she is a pointer mix and not a hound or healer, she definitely looks like a Maple / Rosie mix. Her personality reminds me most of Buckey. She would’ve made such a great friend to him.

She likes to lie around. Usually, within the room I happen to be in (as Buckey would have done). She really wants to be outside all of the time. She whines to go out most of the day, so we are going to get a fence situation going on soon enough. For now, we will just take her into town for walks and tie her up for some lounging in the sun every now and again.

She is the most talkative dog we have ever had. She makes many different sounds. Whines, low barks, and yelps. She really wants us to know what she is thinking – as opposed to our other, much less talkative, dogs.

Most importantly, Maybe is so great with the kids! At first, she didn’t give any attention to the baby, ‘A’. After a couple of days, she began to lie next to him and follow me around as I held him (and join him for tummy time). G follows her around and lies next to her to chat and pet her paws. Mae likes to give her belly rubs and imitate her various sleeping positions. Rae? Eh. She likes her just as much as the rest of us but acts as though she has lived with us forever (she’s a cat person).

It only took a few hours for her and the cats to get used to each other. Halleluiah.

As for me, I love that she always lays her head on my belly when I sit down and sleeps through the night and is so so sweet and does tricks and doesn’t pull on her leash and lets me use her as a pillow and answers to the name we gave her and…

Thanks for our little lady, Sarah! She will be loved and snuggled and appreciated!

FAMILY DAY OUT : IKEA

Again with the Ikea? I know. I get it if many you have heard enough Ikea chatter from me, but we like it. So much so, that after a full day of walking we still wanted to fill our afternoon with more walking around that gigantic place.

Really, we went there that day so I could buy myself a comfy chair for my birthday. I sit at our table for the majority of each day so I need a decent chair – but everyone else was just as enthusiastic about the visit! (We may be going back to get Mae one of these chairs. She keeps stealing mine…)

^ ^ Zack moving the warm lamp away from the faux fur. Whataguy. ^ ^

We couldn’t help but pop into a couple displays along the way, but overall, we have gotten pretty good at shortcutting our way through if we want to.

These girls are such troopers, always going along with us for great distances and long days without complaint. It totally looks as though Rae is bored out of her gourd, but she’s mega thrilled to be at her favorite store. Just content and calm. Soaking it all in.

I think Ikea is to them what Sam’s was to me as a kid (and what Costco and Sam’s are to most Americans today) It’s pretty great and I’m sure we’ll be back again soon. Maybe next time I’ll spare you the post about it…

FAMILY DAY OUT : ST. LOUIS ART MUSEUM

The girls and I took my niece to the St. Louis Art Museum not too long ago, but Zack was stuck walking Buckey around Forest Park. Not a bad gig, but he missed the museum. So! On our family day, he got to stroll at his leisure around the exhibits.

There was plenty of parking available close to the museum (rare!), so we were able to enjoy a stroll through this lovely path. Perfect day for it.

Boy, it sure is great having him around!

Mae and I noticed that Zack and Rae walk just alike. Left us wondering if we walk alike as well.

First stop? The ladies room to compare sidewalk loot.

Notice Zack’s hand by Mae’s face? And again up there by Rae? He likes to play with our hair. I couldn’t help but giggle at the number of times I spotted his hands in someone’s hair as I went through the photos I took. But, I took far too many photos (very unlike me, I know), so I’ll leave you with these two.

This ^ exhibit was a series of engraved images. Just behind that wall by Rae, they had a 3D stop-motion movie playing (Sun Xun: Time Spy) which was made using the displayed images (I’m sure it was the intention behind their creation). It was cool to come out from viewing the film and recognize images we saw.

Rae was incredibly enthusiastic about this fork and knife set. She thought it was both awesome and silly that people used utensils like that a long time ago.

These two. Oi. My heart can hardly take it.

Those images also suggest that I had my own little twin-shadow, which makes my heart just as happy.

The girls took many a photo as we walked along. Mae took this one. She guessed its story correctly and really liked it. She has always dreamed of helping a bird in need.

This large incased platter was trimmed with lions and had a crest in the center. When my girls saw it, they shouted, “Gryffindor!” Hopefully, everyone in our vicinity found this as amusing as I did…

One of the three stops we had to make was the Native American exhibit. Zack dubbed these mocassins, “the first Vans.”

These were my favorite. They look like soccer kleets and have a simple design.

Another required stop was the “knights exhibit.” Rae so graciously took our photo as we studied a headstone. Ain’t we cute?

The final spot we couldn’t pass up was the Egyptian exhibit. They had new mummies, carved porcelain urns with organs in them (might sound unappealing, but they were gorgeous), and an interactive program (Mae is staring at it) that let you observe the mummy in the photo above. It was pretty cool.

The incredibly gorgeous boy and his twerps.

We’ve got one more stop on the blog tour of our family day out. We definitely need more full days together. It seemed much easier when the girls were younger. I’m sure many a song has been written about such things…

FAMILY DAY OUT : LONDON TEA ROOM

This past weekend, I had my monthly book club in St. Peters. I decided to bring the girls along and take them out the following day for a day in the city. Our plans snowballed into a fully packed three day weekend (more on that later) and Zack tagged along – which meant my day with my girls turned into a family day. It was so great to have him around to enjoy a day of (what we consider) fun!

Our first stop was breakfast at the London Tea Room. It was cloudy and freezing and a bit damp from rain the night before. Perfect.

We veered away from our usual Irish Breakfast Tea (basic black tea) with cream and got a large pot of Mango Pear White (I could drink this every day) and a small Maple Walnut Sencha (Liquid Christmas).

The food is fresh, warm, and incredible!

Rae and I got Spinach Ricotta Croissants, Rae got her own Jammie Dodger, while Zack and Mae each enjoyed a Coconut Macaroon, and we all split a scone with jam and butter.

Next time I’m thinking we’ll go for lunch and get some of those hearty pastries.

While Zack and I talked and finished off the teas, the girls walked around the very small, adorable shop. I took that photo from where I sat, and it includes most of the shop.

The best part?? We were able to enjoy one of our favorite spots with our favorite human.

PET FOR A DAY

While taking Mae’s birthday portraits a couple weeks ago, Rae found a turtle. So, I did what you’re not supposed to do, and took it home. We kept it for four hours and set her free by our neighbor’s pond while the cats were not watching.

Below are some photos of the girls holding her shell. Very entertaining stuff…

DEAR MAE : : YEAR EIGHT

Marvelous Mae, you turn EIGHT today!

What an incredible honor it is to be your mom. You are this kindest, most patient, curious, loving human being I will ever know. I was given another year with you (a completely healthy you!), that alone makes my heart burst and my eyes brim with tears – alright, let’s get away from this mushy stuff… Hopefully, as you’re reading this I am still around bothering you with these words in person, daily.

Let’s move along to see what you are like at this very moment in time!

You are, still, always good for a joke, sincere encouragement, or an adventure.

You have grown two inches in the past year!

You care about your clothes and find a way to bring about your own style. You work with what you’ve got and thankfully, your hand-me-downs are just what you prefer to wear!

You are so proud of your progress in dance and have been striving to devote more time to your stretches, your knowledge of what you’re taught as well as building up your technique. You are always floating and dancing your way from one place to the next.

You still do not like meat. Your father wants to know, “Why?” Along those lines, your favorite meal has to be dessert – even if that means designating a non-sweet item on your plate as the “dessert.” You like soup, salads, and the greatest of all foods would have to be pancakes. All types of pancakes.

You are adaptable and pleasant in every situation. You never complain about anything – and I truly mean that ‘anything’. Well okay, if there is meat on your plate by accident, say on pizza or in a meal at someone’s house, you wince a little.

You hold your sister’s hand all. the. time. and it is the greatest.

You always have paper and a pencil with you. You copy words from books, write stories, write letters and write random words whose spelling you want to commit to memory.

And, Oh!, that memory of yours. I’ve never seen anything like it. The other day, you brought up a seemingly insignificant five-minute conversation you and I had two years ago! because it related to a current conversation we were having. You can tell me how to get to Vovo’s old house in Dothan, Alabama. You know certain recipes by heart, and you hear very sophisticated words and will bring them up in the natural flow of a sentence. Words we didn’t even know you knew but had heard somewhere along the way.

You are definitely an older sister. I don’t want to say bossy so before I do, let’s jump on over to the next sentence!

Your favorite subject is probably still science – biology and robotics are where it’s at. You, like your daddy, have to figure out how things work and why they work. But, you are like your momma in the way that you always want to go somewhere, anywhere at all times.

Paris and horses and baking and reading are a few of your favorite things. You can read so well now and are understandably proud of yourself!

I feel as though saying, “We love you so much!” falls short of what we truly mean. Those words are said so frequently that they may lose their meaning if they haven’t already – but I’m not too great at or fond of metaphors. So, I will tell you we feel more deeply for you than we ever thought we could feel. When you came into this world we discovered a new kind of love that is beyond understanding and beyond measure. You share our love with your sister, yet somehow you each have more than our whole hearts in your possession. You are imperfect, yet perfect. I cannot possibly love you more but I can try, more than I do, this year to show you how much I adore you.

My beautiful, Mae. Happy Birthday sweet girl.

LATELY : : SEPTEMBER 2018

September flew by!

I’m very glad I decided to post more frequently throughout the month, as I used to. It feels strange to have such a short monthly round-up post!

^ My buddy on dance nights ^

Wrote a post about dance and gymnastics back here.

There haven’t been enough cold days for me to get into the spirit of autumn, but boy am I tryin’! We’ve got a few good steady playlists for fall playing on the regular, “Hobbit cookies” (above) and other such treats are making the rounds and we’ve gone simple with the decorations so far with just some candles, two pumpkins the girls bought for themselves (we’ll use them for our first from-scratch pie), and some dried oranges to hang by the kitchen window. In October, we’ll go full force with the decorating…if it has become permanently cold by then. Please oh please oh please.

Where we have been successful with the fall mindset is with our movie watching! Fall is our favorite season for movies – followed closely by Christmastime – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Our annual favorite is Fly Away Home. This year added Rudy to our line-up – Zack and I hadn’t seen it since we were kids – we ate this ham and bean soup with homemade bread for the occasion. Oh boy. So good. Some other favorites are You’ve Got Mail, Wallace and Gromit and the Warerabbit, E.T., Harry Potter series, and The Hobbit trilogy – which pairs nicely with those “Hobbit cookies” and more soup.

I had poison ivy and a cold for the first half of the month. I finally caved after a week and a half of torture and went to the doctor for some good stuff (for the poison ivy). The girls were such troopers. I’m not surprised, just happy about it.

Katie has officially grown on us. By that I mean, we have officially grown on her.

She particularly adores G. She actually curled up on his lap and purred loudly as she fell asleep. I didn’t think she was that type of cat!

We only took one trip to the river in September. It was the perfect night for it!

^ Mae’s Black Panther.

We went to the St. Louis Scottish Games.

After more than a month, we finally made it over to our neighbor’s house! It’s weird to go so long without a visit. She has brought us vegetables and other goodies over to us, but taking time to sit and chat about life with them is so nice! All of the kids adore her and she, them. What a blessing good neighbors can be.

There is also our school round-up, here. Our month with the boys, here.

 

SCOTTISH GAMES 2018

This past Saturday, we drove to Chesterfield for the annual St. Louis Scottish Games. The girls called it the ‘Irish Games” all day. We love Ireland. Haha.

It was incredibly cold (Halleluiah!) – a perfect Scottish summer day. Just windy enough to fly the many flags that were hung!

Sheep and kilts, and bagpipes. Mmmm boy.

We arrived in time for the opening ceremony – which was led by an actual Scotsman. It was very formal, with men in uniform who marched across the main field and involved Scottish anthem, American anthem, and a prayer.

^ Mary ^

This wool came from the sheep up there in the pen. Each item has a card with information on the sheep it cam from and the owner actually spent the day on the spinning wheel spinning yarn.

Zack’s desire to learn how to make his own yarn may be the only way I’m ever going to get a sheep of my own. (Sorry, Don, I’m on Reagan’s side of the sheep debate!)

Mary’s owner demonstrated sheep herding. So interesting! The dog was really what we were supposed to watch. She was brilliant. The sheep only stopped eating to run where they were led. As soon as their feet stopped, they began to eat. The girls found that to be hilarious.

Mae bought herself a flute and Rae picked out a bracelet with a pink leather strap and a metal clover.

The girls both signed up for a foot race, but Rae chickened out when she realized her sister was in a different group. Mae, however, ran her heart out!

There was also a great band, booths where you could find your clan’s name. An entire kids area – complete with cardboard cabers. Actual caber tossing and well as other traditional competitions were held all day long. We didn’t stay long for it, but we also enjoyed watching the kids perform their traditional dances. Very different from Irish dancing!

SCHOOL IN SEPTEMBER

School was so much fun!

Okay, I think it always is – but the balance of structure and freedom in choice was effortless this month.

The boys are always wonderful. Even so, I was nervous about how school will work with extra kids. I know homeschool moms are notorious for having large families and even single moms who work outside of the house homeschool, but, it was a frequent concern in my mind while the boys were gone over the summer.

Two months in and it could not be going better! We’re so prepared, relaxed, and in such a good groove. I even have plenty of time to give G lessons. The girls help me out here too, mainly Rae. The preschool years are still fresh in her mind…and he is glued to her hip. Ha. His lessons are always informal – taught as we play, as I believe it should be.

First on our musts for the month was to finish up lingering assignments. So – G helped us finalize our worm project by digging them out of the jar and mimicking the girls’ counting. There were four babies! – and some mighty fine dirt. We kept the dirt and set them loose into the yard.

The kids used part of that dirt to plant some pinto beans. Within a week ^ they were so tall! Instant gratification. Wonderful. We’ve planted them outside with no actual hopes of them surviving.

I’ve mentioned what we are using this semester back here, but now that we’ve been into the swing of things for a while, I’ll give an update to how it’s working out.

Mae is really into our English lessons. Our favorite ‘curriculum’ book at the moment is English Lessons Through Literature Level 2. So much goodness in there. For each lesson, it uses an introduction or review of types of nouns (It moves away from nouns eventually), a chapter reading, poem, a fable, and occasionally the Bible. I think the only downside of it for me, would be that the first book we’re reading through is The Wonderful World of Oz. I’ve never cared for the story but maybe I’ll like the book? It also includes the book in the lesson on nouns. I like that it brings it all full circle.

Our catechism has been mostly studied by verbal discussion. I like when these talks last a long time. So many brilliant questions and comments from these girls!

Mae loves getting on the computer for any reason. She has begun typing her way through Typing Club. (It’s free) So far it is wonderful and simple. Rae is still playing Teach Your Monster to Read and constantly practicing ‘her words’ using flash cards, easy reader books, etc. They’re both becoming such brilliant readers!

We’ve been meaning to make a simple robot for. like. everrr. now, but have yet to. So we made a simple compass (tested against another compass we knew worked – though I’m sure we could’ve used the sun.) in the hopes that any ol’ science experiment business will sooth Mae’s mind for the time being.

Fridays are “kids pick” days. The first Friday, the girls picked to hunt and study mushrooms. The second Friday we took a field trip to the St. Louis Zoo. We researched Scarlet Ibis and made clay models of them.

Fridays are also our day to finish up any leftover assignments and chapter books from the week if there are any. If there aren’t, it’s a free day. Whoop.

We’ve found better ways of working through chores. Such as bringing back the ol’ folding laundry while they watch television routine they had when they were younger. This helps us all out because I’m not so reliable with getting clean clothes put away and they get to watch television during lunchtime when G is here. Keeps their minds moving a bit. I could easily live out of a hamper for the rest of my life, but it sure has been nice having occasionally empty hampers!

We also clean up before G takes his nap instead of waiting until he’s heading home, and our afternoons have seemed quite calmer.

We’ve also really upped our cooking game. We cook three meals a day just about seven days a week, so by cooking game, I actually mean our creativity has been sparked again. It had taken a couple months off.

We baked pizza (complete with made on the spot sauce) and a cake for a mid-week lunch and made extra dough for the following morning’s doughnuts. We got creative, once again, with our oatmeal and muffin ingredients, pancake batter, and still had the gumption to make hearty suppers – such as homemade tomato soup pair with oven-toasted grilled cheese made with freshly baked bread and good cheese. Yum. With more slow-cooked meals in the hopefully cold future, this should only get better!

We’ve been studying important colonial figures this semester. So far, it has just been founding fathers. We’re spending a bit more time on Benjamin Franklin – since there is a bit more to his story. For starters, we researched his inventions. We really liked the glass armonica. Clever fella.

Based on the stank eyes in both portraits, I’m guessing the girls are tired of drawing old white men, so our next person will be someone who is not a founding father.

^ Even one of our nature poems was written by Benjamin Franklin. ^

We accompanied as many lessons as we could with some sort of art activity (surprise surprise). Spent the chilly mornings on the porch for Bible time and the evenings indoors by candlelight (’cause they fancy) finishing up work they intentionally left unfinished so they could work slowly among the candles. The middle of the month was hot so we nixed the candles – but they’re making a comeback this week.

We read a stupid amount of books. Yay! Along with Mae’s independent reading, short stories, biographies, and quick novels –  I read them a few larger novels at an hour a day pace throughout the month and Zack began to work through The Lord of the Rings with them every night before bed – even if it meant they had to stay up past their bedtime. A sacrifice they were happy to make.

I enjoy reading and discussing stories with my girls. They always have so many wonderful, insightful questions. Fall read-alouds require candles!, and background (read : easily ignored) jazz or other classical music (such as Hans Zimmer or Pixar soundtracks), and in the case featured above, it required coloring books. I usually give them an activity to do, such as working with clay, coloring, Legos, or painting.

*We do this while G is sleeping or in the evening after he has gone home.

Mae learned how to use a dictionary! What a big help that will be for my vocal cords! She picked it up instantly. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.

She chose yodel to be her first investigated word. She then, on her own, grabbed some paper, copied the definition and drew a man yodeling on the back. She spent the following hour or so looking up her favorite things – Paris, panda, etc. – and investigated random words – Black Sea, month, sign language and so on. She gave a presentation on the words she researched. It was delightful.

We received our first Little Passports package. Our first country is BRAZIL! Can you believe it?! We’ve got this in the bag! Feijoada and guarana for daaaays!!!! Also, black beans and rice for days, but that’s not so unusual for us.

The world map is hung up in the girls’ room and they’ve placed a pin on Brazil. We’re going to learn a bit of Portuguese and figure out some Brazillian desserts as well as investigate everything the package came with. We know plenty about the culture, so will be nice to learn a bit about the jungle areas. We’ve gathered all of our Brazillian items from around the house (Mae’s idea) and done the activity book that came along with it. There is also online stuff on their site, so I’ll have to figure that out. It’s going to be fun!

We’re trying to soak up the last bit of bug weather (though, we’re over the hot weather!). We have seen a ridiculous number of stick bugs and mantis in the past month! Never gets old for me. We also caught a few toads. Some at the river, but most in our yard. We found a caterpillar on our neighbor’s porch yesterday and decided to bring it home. It will become a moth, I believe. We’ve made it a little home and filled it with what the internet says are it’s favorite foods (the evergreen stems, not the leaves Rae put in there). So far so good – which means for, at least the rest of September, we’ll have a class pet. (It’s in our Ikea greenhouse. You can kind of see it behind the Little Passports box up there.)

BUT! I’m ready for the abundance of birds the fall and winter bring our way and believe we’ve done well for ourselves in the way of bug investigations over the past season.

AND! We took our first field trip of the school year! We went to the zoo on a very hot hot hot day. My parents were so wonderful and tagged along to help me manage all four kids. Their presence was crucial! (Zack and the boys’ mom plan on tagging along for future trips)

October will involve more reading, cooking, sewing and piano and less time at the table and most likely, less time outside.

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.