LATELY : : OCTOBER 2018

October is my favorite month. It may have started because it is the month I was born, but as I have aged, the reason has shifted and I now I love it for all of the celebrations it holds and, now that I live up north where fall exists, I am allowed to feel cool air and view the changing leaves making October, officially my favorite.

This month it seemed to go by so fast I couldn’t soak it all in and enjoy all it had to offer. I know I will enjoy looking back on our days as I scroll through this blog in ten years or so, but right now I thoroughly appreciate that it is helping me notice just how full our days, months, and years are.

Every month goes by faster than the next and I am usually left feeling as though we didn’t accomplish anything of worth. Slowly building each post and finding I have more and more to add shows me a different story.

So, let’s get on with the final bit of this month’s story…

We began our month celebrating both of the girls’ birthdays with Zack’s mom  (Rae’s birthday is in November – We will celebrate even more!) – a post all about our many celebrations will be posted at some point in November.

Orange and red and yellow are creeping up here and there. Not cold full-time yet though, so we have yet to start up the fireplace or furnace. Please be cold, November…

Bailey has a new favorite nap spot. In the window box right smack dab in the path of the sun. My kind of lady.

Rae hiding in the bathroom to get away from G. ^ He loves her so much.

^ Those toes! ^

I wrote about our month with the boys back here.

We spent a day in the city as a family – which used to be a common occurrence but sadly isn’t anymore. Autumn is our favorite time and we’re trying to make the most of it. We went to the London Tea Room, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and Ikea – Three of our favorites!

We’ve got a new member of the family. She’s incredible.

Lady lost her third tooth! She wrote the tiniest note to the tooth fairy and set it on my pillow, not hers. She wanted to pretend the tooth fairy was real, but then nixed that idea when she realized she would only get a little bit of money versus a treat (her own pint of dairy-free ice cream). I still kept the note. I love it so much.

Side spiel : The girls decided they would like to pretend Santa is real for the second year in a row. We’ll see how that goes. Their letters to Santa seem to be in a hieroglyphic code which Momma may not be able to decipher…

So much time ( so. much. time. ) was spent in the car. This seems to be our new normal. It’s okay, though. I like our car and it has heat!

Mae started therapy for her feet (she’s fine), so we have spent a couple days a week at the doctor. We still have four or five weeks left to go. Thankfully the kids are all so patient while we wait for her!

For school this month we have been using the fly by the seat of our pants method.

We began a large-scale project on the food chain – producers & consumers. The girls have designed their own food web, complete with labels and a map key. (and not featured on the web – scavengers and decomposers)

We received our second Little Passports country. JAPAN!

Brazil and Japan are the first two?? Those are the countries my parents were born and raised in. It is a smidge creepy that those are the two the folks at Little Passports chose, but also great for us. We have pulled out quite a bit of the Japanese items we own to help us along in our research.

In the first week, they practiced origami, wrote their own haikus (and used fancy ink pens to do so), studied maps and books on their own time, and begun memorizing certain Japanese words and 1-10 (Mae already knew those). Oh, and of course eating Ramen (with ham and boiled eggs) with chopsticks…okay, eating everything with chopsticks…

We plan on making sushi – or at the very least, we will take them somewhere to try it – and watching all of Miyazaki’s movies for the hundredth time. As if we need an excuse.

Now, next month we may not know the country so well, but I think that may make it a bit more interesting (for me). We have studied several countries over the years, but Little Passports has a good way of helping us along and makes it interesting and helps us get creative.

Rae and her animals. Bailey has been really generous with her snuggles on the cold days. On the warm days, Rae hunts frogs.

I turned 31. This is all the proof I have of that day. Mae on day three of wearing that sweater, Rae holding a frog. Mae being a stinker, me paying her back with classic rib-tickles. I’m so glad I get to be their mom and hang out with them full time.

We visited with a turtle for a bit.

A love of tire swings bloomed in Miss Mae. I still don’t trust our trees enough to put one up in our own yard…

More cute notes. The one on the left I received at 10 P.M. one night from a girl who couldn’t sleep. The other one, I found while cleaning out my Bible. (I put it back in my Bible.)

Cute girl being cute.

Here are some more photos of Mae in her favorite sweater – just in case you hadn’t seen enough of it yet…

Mae had costume day at Dance the week before Halloween and we followed it up with a Halloween party at our cousin, Anna’s house!

For their final performance, they went as a normal witch and an eagle (she couldn’t find part of her Dorothy costume.).

ATTACK!

…the second attack was not so well received… That is one proud eagle, though.

It was cold and rainy and just how Halloween should be. We went door to door with G and his family as well as up to the school. Zack had a booth at the school’s Trunk or Treat. The Art Club trunk was incredible (not surprised!). He’s brilliant.

NOW! on to more color, colder days by the fire, more birthday celebrations, and a long holiday weekend spent with our favorite man!

We’re ready for you, November!

 

 

GRANT’S FARM

For our October field trip, we went to Grant’s Farm. G’s mom went with us (and Zack, since teachers had a day off), as well as her sister and my friend, Ven! It was a full house.

The day was, for me, broken up quite a bit – with a doctor appointment for Mae at an early 7 A.M. followed by a two hour drive to the farm and some of our group getting there a bit later than us, some leaving early, and an unexpected lunch outside of the park – all on top of every school in the area being out for the day (busy roads and restaurants). It was quite a day. It was so nice to see everyone there together (even Zack!)

I loved the drizzly, cold weather and the German-style buildings!

The Clydesdales were gorgeous. A couple of them even let us pet them and give ’em a good scratching behind the ears.

They were studying at the map and looked like the cutest little tourists. A sight which quickly dissipated once they saw the camera. Still cute though.

Always collecting. We came home with quite the collection of wet (but colorful!) leaves.

I normally cringe at the thought of making my girls pose, but I couldn’t pass up this gigantic green door without a cheesy mannequin pose.

Thanks, everyone who tagged along and spent their day with us!!

Next month’s field trip will involve only Zack and the girls. They’re going to see a play and go out to lunch!

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.

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.

OUR HOMESCHOOL IN APRIL

While we have always stemmed fresh lessons from planned lessons, this semester I didn’t want to plan out anything. My goal was to focus on developing Mae into a proficient reader (and she is now!) and build her writing skills  (grammar, handwriting, and becoming comfortable in writing longer selections of text.)

Well, Mae mastered those things so we picked back up our method of more structured lessons every day.

After they drag themselves out of bed, they cook their own breakfast (with my help if they need it). When they’re done eating, we have Bible discussion time followed by yoga before we head into the structured learning of lesson after lesson.

We listen to music or audio books and talk about all manner of funny things while they work. I guess the big difference in the structure is I plan out everything the night before and have it ready. I use to plan half of it and we’d pick up more lessons as we went.

The girls do Zumba with a snack (if we work until lunch, then that’s fine, but sometimes G needs a bit more attention around this time.) Then, we continue lessons- typically tie up loose ends just in time for Zack to arrive home.

We began this new science-based devotional. So far, it’s tops.

It’s a one-a-day scenario but often the girls ask for ‘just one more and we end up discussing several.

We started our new geography…curriculum? through Beautiful Feet Books.

We will continue to do other forms of geography, but my girls love maps and this allows us to chart the path of the stories as well as study parts of it separately.

For the first three chapters of the first book, Paddle to the Sea, we studied Canada geese as well as ballasts and rudders. They also made clay canoes.

^ Making a dam.

The second steps in the story led to lessons on beavers and pond life.

George (our cat) caught a Chipping Sparrow.

He didn’t kill it, but its leg was injured and it was bleeding. Mae wanted to set it somewhere peaceful to die so George couldn’t do any more damage. The girls have been taught not to touch birds, but I made an exception. We hid it among some flowers where George would never think to look.

– Of course, this led to the research of Chipping Sparrows and a deeper discussion into how we could become more intentional ‘birders.’ We love (and own) this book and found the tips we discussed in there.

Below are some of the girls’ work –

^ Rae’s. The way she draws, ughhh. Can’t get enough of that girl.

Mae’s is the one just above. I drew most of this bird. She drew a great bird and wrote her facts so well but one hundred percent messed up her bird while painting it. There were tears. So many tears. So I drew her another bird and gave her a refresher course on how to use watercolor (They paint several images a week and only ever uses watercolor – she was just rushing). She painted the wings and tail and she felt so much better about this one.

G is learning too! He learns at his own home, so some of these are piggybacking off what his own parents are teaching him.

He’s learning basic words, utensil use, ABCs, numbers (1-5) – right now he’s stuck on 1, 2, 3- GO! so really I guess we’re working on the number four. Ha!

He’s also learning by coloring as well as learning some animal names, and how to properly use a shovel (the girls are teaching him this particular skill). He has mastered cleaning chicken coops, standing still on a skateboard, how to sweep and mop the floors – his favorite chore! – and how to unfold clean laundry – my least favorite of his chores! But, it allows me to put it all away for another time, which just so happens to be my favorite chore!

We’ve also taken a couple trips to explore the outdoors. Mostly the park, but our trip to the river was the most fun.

One of their verses. Rae drew her “best friend, Fletcher” on hers. So sweet.

Mae finished her big project on castles / English royalty (previously mentioned in last month’s post.) I really like her Queen Elizabeth II and “peasant” is my all-time favorite.

Mae is OFFICIALLY reading chapter books aloud to me! She’s reading second-grade chapter books. I’m sure she could figure out harder books, but I don’t want to rush it. We’re really enjoying this new addition to our school day. She reads while sitting on the counter next to me as I cook, while we drive to dance class and the grocery store, and sometimes quietly to herself under her favorite oak tree – which has been a dream of hers for years.

Rae kind of took a break this month. Not completely but, aside from painting a few things and listening to stories and such, she hasn’t had to do any work outside of the preschool she attends. The break seems to have done her some good.

We’ll continue to ‘do school’ throughout the summer, like always. I’m really looking forward to going on a few field trips and having lessons outside – if it ever warms up!

LATELY : : MARCH 2018

March, the month of my husband’s birth – and his Momma’s! That in itself is enough to celebrate, but considering we didn’t celebrate either birth, I’ll try and stretch this a bit further…

The girls and I spent the first day of March with my longtime friend and meeting that gorgeous fellow above, Julian. We managed to make it home just in time to see Zack, on his THIRTIETH! birthday, moments before he went to bed. He worked the entire day. The school always schedule fall sign-up night on his birthday and every year we heave a heavy sigh of disappointment.

We are able to watch our cousin once again, and we are having such a great time with him! I’m sure he is glad to have girls fussing over him all day.

The prince in a prime napping position.

^ Can you spot the baby bum? How ’bout Mae’s foot?

Last month Zack and I started to completely reconfigure the layout of our house. We still have a slew of small cosmetic things to do to the front area here, but we’re thrilled with the amount of space we have to move around. The wall that creates a hallway has become the kids’ favorite part of this whole deal. They just run around and around and around.

I thought maybe school would be difficult with a baby in the mix, but so far he just joins in, plays alone or with the dog, and we wait until he is asleep to tackle the bigger lessons and projects. We also continue lessons / reading in the evenings occasionally.

Buckey will not let Rae do yoga. She’s all for not doing it, no force needed, Buck.

After a late night of grocery shopping, in a town pretty far away, we enjoyed time at one of our favorite restaurants.

They still share a drink, and usually a meal. (Zack and I share a drink everywhere we go, too.) As you’ll notice in that last photo, they never seem to want a drink until their sister grabs the cup. Oi

Mae had a cold for two weeks – and then some. Day one of it, she mentions, “I want to just rest for a minute.” Thirty seconds later she was snoring to high heaven, covered in drool and sweat, well on her way to a three-hour nap.

Watching a movie, waiting for school to get out so they can go into Daddy’s classroom.

I could watch them all day long (and night) as they do the most mundane things. Ugh, They’re so great. Seriously, I could stare at her watching television for the entire 90-minute feature and not become bored. I hated when I would notice my mom staring at me. Still, to this day I dislike people looking at me – even Zack! (and he stares at me a lot) But I’m going to stare at them and even be in awe of the pre-teen eye rolls that will surely roll in my direction.

On days when the weather was nice, the hens got plenty of attention. G can’t seem to get enough of them. He now looks forward to collecting the eggs and feeding them scraps through the wire each afternoon before his nap.

(Also! Check out that green grass!!!)

A fair-skinned girl and her black-furred dog, both avoiding the sun’s rays.

The wagon has racked up some miles this month! Mae insists on being the one to lug the baby around. No complaints here.

Also, Rae up there, on a mission to collect as many bird feathers as possible. So far, they’ve all been dirty old chicken feathers. Shes so proud. She tucks them under the wiper blades on our vehicles as a treat for Zack and I to ohh and ahh over later.

^ Collecting more feathers ^

Mae is determined to become skilled at climbing trees. The only problem is, this is our only climbing tree. So many trees in our yard, and only ONE worth climbing.

We read most of our books outside this month!

We began with Leprechaun in Late Winter, which we read last year in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. We read it in one sitting under these trees. Those Magic Tree House books are a quick read!

Followed that book with John Steinbeck’s, The Red Pony.

We read The Littles – the first in the series. It was another short chapter book, Mae was able to read this at a swift pace.

She also read Frog and Toad Are Friends this month.

(She reads non-chapter books every week, but that would make for an even longer list.)

We tackled a couple audiobooks – Little House on the Prairie (Really enjoyed this version!) over the course of a week in the car and The Hobbit in one day while cleaning the house.

Mae began a big project on Royals, Knights, and castles. Basically, castle life, but it has also come to include the middle ages. We began all of the above books this month. We’ll continue this through April as well (maybe longer?). Its been a lot of fun!

Rae went to town with some Sir Knight flannel graph business while we read those books aloud. Using it all at once seemed the best way to go.

The girls studied some composers again this month. Here are some Beethoven and George Bush Sr. Hector Berlioz paintings.

We also studied France for a hot minute. We’ll make a flag for France, too…when we get around to it. We are planning a French-themed meal (cliche items only!) for a supper one night soon.

Last year, in preparation for St. Pat’s we studied Ireland, the holiday, and everything related to the two for three months. This year, Penelope wore green. That’s it. We celebrated the following Monday with food and a movie. More of that back here.

While at a restaurant Mae crawled under the table and sat this next to me. I’m still baffled as to how she managed to sneak a card in and write this without me noticing. Her bun is  r e a l high and my hair is accurately thin. Her cards make me so happy!!

One of the girls’ best friends, Violet, turned three! We celebrated at a bowling alley – it was their first time bowling and they had so much fun!

Bathroom silliness…

The girls were in a play? skit? program? for Palm Sunday. This is all the proof I have of that.

Just a pretty girl I want to remember…

The girls and I snuck away for a couple days during spring break, since Zack had to work – on his spring break, mind you. We spent an afternoon exploring the Science Center. On our way to my mother-in-law’s, we spontaneously stopped in to watch A Wrinkle in Time! It felt so good to do something fun and unplanned with my girls.

Zack’s mom took off the following day so she could spend it with us. We stole my niece (who wasn’t on spring break) away for the tail end of our outings!

In celebration of Good Friday, Zack read them the story of the last supper and we enjoyed fish with ‘Jesus bread,’ and grape juice – per Mae’s request.

We’ll finish up the month with the rest of the crucifixion and resurrection scripture readings and garage cleaning. – Happy Easter!

LATELY : : FEBRUARY 2018

February. Does anyone look forward to it? I tried to, but much like most, I kept a steady mental countdown to March – and somehow the final day snuck up on me!

We’re ready for spring – and most importantly the anniversary of Zack’s birth!! We won’t even see him on his birthday (his 30th!), but boy! are we glad he was born!! BUT SEE! I’ve already begun talking about March without even recapping February. Sorry, February…

So much will be left out of this post, but here are some of the moments I bothered to photograph – ha!

Really sellin’ this one.

We began the month by spending an afternoon at the river on a particularly calm, very cold day. It’s usually very very windy where we live. Have to jump while the air is still. The rest of February rotated between very warm and very very cold days. I believe all four seasons were experienced.

Slow meals to go with slow school days.

It was still too dry in the house, in my opinion, for playing with clay. The girls disagreed (or don’t mind dry hands?), so they made that their handwork during our reading time. In the evening, Mae crocheted while her and I read separate chapter books that would not interest Rae.

Mountain Born is about a boy, Peter, who raises a lamb. Living the dream…

We began February reading Swiss Family Robinson, and I think it’s our favorite book to date. So much imagination sparked and such great conversation came out of it. The girls still mention it randomly. We actually completed three chapter books just in the first seven days – not a typical feat.

We began The Green Ember (the first in a book series), but the timing wasn’t right for such a long book. We kept getting distracted, so I read it alone in my free time. I’m starting the second book tonight! We may begin it again this summer, but for now, I’ll just [highly] recommend it for those around 5th grade and older.

I also read The Cutting Season – not a junior fiction novel! What?!?- The librarian recommended it and snuck it into our stack of American girl novels and various children’s books. I completed all 384 pages in one day, only stopping to cook meals! It was so good.

B became very attached to me. He was always underfoot…actually, he was typically lying directly on my feet. I like him the least, but even now as I type this, he is lying on my feet. Sweet boy. I’ll enjoy his much more when he is too old and fat to mess with my things.

Rae caught a cold – most likely brought on by my stellar parenting the day I took them to the ‘icy river.” So, while Mae was at crochet lessons, Rae ditched preschool and helped me buy a new shower faucet – and fixins.

On our way out we wandered through the plants (We can’t help ourselves!). Rae asked if she could buy Daddy a plant for his classroom. Well, after this experience, I couldn’t say no now could I?

Later, while replacing the faucet, we discovered the plumbing had been installed by a child. Not the best news.

My space-admiring daughter was so giddy watching the Falcon Heavy launch and landing! We also researched the purpose of building something like the Falcon Heavy and related topics. I’m sure we’ll dig into this more another time, but it was a good start.

^ Pastel drawings and more science by way of Khan Academy lectures while waiting for lunch to get out of the oven.

I took the camera out to capture our ladies (who are all laying now!). The one just above realized I had no food and moved on with her very busy life…

Noticed George on my way back to the house. It’s hard to photograph our pets in a way they don’t look like shadows. Looks mighty regal, doesn’t he?

Mae invented a faster way to transport ice cream from your hands to your face (no spoon required!). Zack is alllll about this. Her favorite right now is ice cream made with coconut milk and caramel.

Over the course of the month, she came up with ideas for around one billion inventions. She never stops dreaming. We watched Tomorrowland this month as well. She had a lot in common with the main character and adored the concept of dreamers. She still stops me at random when she notices a dreamer (someone who invents, studies, finds or creates beauty, etc.). I plan on ordering them their very own Tomorrowland pins soon.

^ One of those warm days I spoke of ^

Good golly, that face. We drove with the windows down a lot this month, so the wind could flirt with our bare arms.

While waiting for Rae’s class to dismiss, Mae and I had a straw fight. First one to unwrap the other’s straw with sheer force won – loser had their nose picked by the winner with the winning straw. Thought for sure she would win. She put up quite the fight.

My older brother came for a long weekend! You can read about that here.

Less importantly, that very same weekend, the girls got to see Peter Rabbit.

Some valentine highlights.

Shenanigans.

One morning while cooking breakfast for Rae and I, Mae said, “Mom, can you get two plates?” Then proceeded to whisper under her breath, “These eggs have a destiny…” I love everything about this girl!!

On a particularly cold day, the girls and I wandered around the library and an antique store. They literally gasped when they saw that photo (newspaper clipping?) of Abe Lincoln. A lady peaked over the wall to make sure everyone was okay. Ha! They stared for quite a while.

One of quite a few trips to ‘The Diamond Store.”

We’re eager to plant things! Rae has to smell everything, always has. (That word, everything, is not used lightly.) She had to smell each stick to see if it smelled like the fruit in the photo. Sadly, they all smelled like sticks.

Mae drug me over to this situation. Left Daddy and Rae wondering where we ran off to. I wonder if she’ll always have an interest in pandas.

Rae’s penguin. I like this very much. Zack liked it too, so she drew one for him to take to his classroom.

Her interest in Star Wars is holding steady.

The girls spent so much time – sometimes entire days – outside.

Mae started her own compost, planted things, including this onion above that began sprouting in the pantry. They built things, cleaned up the yard and even ate quite a few lunches with dirt covered hands.

More selfies while waiting for Rae, ’cause who doesn’t absolutely love a selfie?? amiright?

BUT! matching gray eyes, hair out of her face and dirt under her nails. AND! we’re sittin’ reeeeeal close. Just how I like it.

Happy March, everyone!

LATELY : : JANUARY 2018

This semester, we’re focusing on reading, writing, and music as our top subjects.

By music, I mostly mean learn to play the piano decently and understand the ends and outs of the notes. I’m adding composer studies to the mix periodically. We began with Johann Sebastian Bach.

We listened to his music for a bit while they did the copy work and painted, but I’m not a fan. We listened to my favorite organist/composer, Hans Zimmer instead. I knew nothing about Bach before this and found his story very interesting. Honestly, I didn’t expect to…

Rae took selfies and made a triangle using a rubber band. Very impressive.

Mae and I went shopping just the two of us at the fancy grocery store while Rae was at preschool. We brought a snack with us and ate it by the fireplace in their cafe’. She provides such good conversation.

I also went shopping with just Rae. You can read about that here.

My girls are always with me, so it is unusual to have one at a time twice in one month.

The first two weeks were foggy. All day. I loved it. Mae did not. She missed the sun and stars too much.

We started up with Khan Academy again for Math and Grammar supplementing. She breezes through every lesson, though. We also use Khan Academy for art history and we watch videos by Pixar about their movie-making processes just for fun.

We were able to borrow our boy for a bit here and there. We need this kid in our life.

Rae is still into Peppa Pig. Really liking George’s nose and that extra tall grass on the right-hand side.

The cats seem to live indoors now.

Mae is getting better at wrapping her own ponytail.

We had several days worth of snow and ice. Followed by leftover salt covering the roads. I actually kind of liked that too.

We often have tea parties, but earlier in the month we had one with cupcakes Zack’s cousin, Beef, made for us.

The girls finally saw the Captain Underpants movie. We have one of the chapter books, and they saw a cardboard cut out for the film a while back at the theater. That was more than enough to build up enthusiasm for the bald man in underpants. They’ve never laughed so hard.

Our visit to the Lincoln Museum is back here.

We visited old friends and met new babies the following day.

…and made a stop to IKEA before leaving St. Louis.

Mae saw a yellow locker box she wanted at IKEA.

She counted her money the next day, weighed the desire for the many things she wants and decided she truly wanted the locker.

^ ^ ^ Zack and Rae! ^ ^ ^

So we took her to get the locker. She was so happy. She held that heavy box all the way to the car.

We stopped by our favorite – Chipotle – before going home. So good.

Buckey grew some more. (January makes him seven months old)

I know we see each other nearly every moment of each other’s lives, but Mae and I have been spending a lot of time just the two of us. Maybe Rae is just getting even more independent?

Zack took that photo of Mae and I after noticing her and I share the same hands, feet, legs, eyes, teeth, hair color, skin color, and well, just about everything apart from our noses – which at this point aren’t that different.

We had a fluke warm day right after several well-below-freezing days. So we cleaned the outhouse. Very exciting stuff.

We got a nature lesson out of it!!

The girls also played with / in mud that was brought on by the melting snow, and our ladies laid their first eggs. We collected nine on that first day. (I say the first day, but there were nine eggs and only six hens. Clearly, we neglected them a bit on those cold days.)

^ Coconut everything for this girl ^

We began January learning about Nordic countries (a study brought about by this book), including Germany which I didn’t draw on the board, as only a red and yellow line would show up. They painted it from an image in a book instead.

One of the girls drew cannons on the board by the flags. I just kept them there because I liked them. They weren’t part of our lessons.

We also began learning about maps. Mae has always had a love of maps. Zack and I even bought her her own atlas for the car around the time she was three. Her interest is only going stronger.

We had fun learning about new animals. We learn about so many animals each month, so this isn’t unique to January 2018, but the girls’ drawing skills and handwriting are getting so dag’um good!

Zack and I saw more of each other than we had in the past 5+ months. Good gracious, that face.

The girls and I started watching Homes by the Sea on Netflix while we eat lunch. As we watch they design their own houses (I even framed one). Mae says she’ll design a house every day of her life. We’ll see…

We finally got around to reading this book. Sixteen (very short) chapters in one day – around 80 pages. The girls sat attentively the entire book and had so many questions along the way.

We then watched the section on Eskimos in Human Planet by BBC (we own it, but it may be on Netflix). It covered nearly every tradition mentioned in this book, which is set in 1964. It is about the King Islanders (based on a real tribe) and follows a young girl in her last year on the island, living as a traditional Eskimo. The follow up of the true islanders is heartbreaking.

The girls “baked” our neighbors a mud pie. Our neighbors were delighted to find that kids still make mud pies and think of their elderly neighbors with the utmost fondness.

My girls believe “boys are taller than girls” is a fact – as in short men don’t exist. Rae says Kylo Ren needs a haircut and thinks Iron Man is Spiderman’s dad. Can this age last just a bit longer, please???

Rae drew Skye from Paw Patrol. One sad Skye and one happy Skye? Not sure why she’s sad. Is she in a box?

Mae let me sleep in and made breakfast for everyone a few times – oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and pancakes are her favorite foods to make.

These glasses. They were in last month post, but they still make me laugh every time she sneaks up on me.

We took the girls to see Paddington 2. It was completely adorable.

Mae kept up with her plan to e-mail Grandma at least once a week. As a result, my phone is full of her selfies.

The girls had a dentist appointment. Very exciting stuff for them at ages five and seven. Having perfect teeth helps in this, I’m sure. The dentist even smoothed out Mae’s front tooth that had been chipped back in December.

January ended with several warm days in a row which called for walks at the park, most of which involved time with Zack!

The girls and I finally made it up to see my grandparents. They moved up here from Alabama last November.

My Uncle Paul was visiting from D.C., so I was able to meet his wife, Hiroko, and their son. He’s awesome! It felt like my kids had known him their whole life. Of course, Hiroko is sweet and funny. Such a cool lady. Could’ve spent the entire week there.

On the last day of January, we decided to tidy up the house and continue our lessons on Nomads. We started the first volume of this series (there are four volumes in total). So good! Zack and I were geeking out over them before they even arrived in the mail. The girls are hanging on every word, so far.

Since we’re using these for our history curriculum (I say as a woman who claims not to use ‘curriculum’), we’re going to follow it straight through learning about 7000 B.C. all the way 476 A.D. in order – just in volume one! I’m assuming this first volume will take at least year, since we’re studying and not just reading it all rather quickly.

I felt as though January flew by, but seeing this incredibly long post and knowing what I neglected to mention, I guess we packed quite a bit into those 31 days! One more month until our boy turns 30!

 

 

MAKING IT UP AS WE GO – WASPS!

Last week the girls and I cleaned the outhouse. We never use it, so i’m not sure why we did. Something to do on a warm day, I guess.

We collected several wasp nests for our nature collection, which we of course turned into a learning experience!

Our favorite part was viewing a slice of the nest through the microscope Mae received for Christmas! It looked way better than this photo, which was taken with my cell phone.

We are really loving this homeschooling gig.