For most of February and March, I was really depressed. Not in a scary way, just in the way that people get when it has been winter and gross for too long. I, of course, try and make the best of the gross weather and make it fun for the girls and myself, but I need HEAT.

My beautiful husband said one day, “You should get in the car and go somewhere warm for a week or two.” (Yes, please!) I took this idea seriously. I obsessively weather dot-commed the locations of everyone I knew. Some were warmer, but for at least a month, it was raining nearly every day, everywhere, just as it was here.

Public school spring break here in the north happens early. My niece and nephew had it before spring even began and Zack’s began the first day of spring. Boo.

I took advantage of our do-whatever-we-want homeschooling lifestyle and waited until our town was gifted a full week of warmth.

We needed it.

Below is what we did with that time…

Day one, we put together a pioneer kitchen – complete with every kitchen necessity, a clothesline, homemade detergent, dish soap and pan for a sink. We stayed outside always, enjoyed beans from a can and cornbread for lunch. We ate most of our meals out here during that week!

Day two we grabbed muffins from “the Amish place” for breakfast, old-timey treats from the General Store and a picnic at the river (as well as hours of play)

We also licensed the vehicles, which was actually fun because of the ladies who work at that particular office.

Once we arrived back home, Mae set up a general store next to her kitchen, we ate supper in her kitchen, and they played and played some more.

This photo was taken on day three. ^ It is of Rae telling me a story. She had complained about bugs every minute for the entire day, so I told her to sit next to me and tell me a story that had nothing to do with bugs. She told me such a great, creative store about a giraffe who lived on a mountain.

Maybe was sitting on the other side – as close to me as she can get.

Day three, we ate more meals pioneer style, handed out lawn mower rides, spent plenty of time on the porch telling stories and time in the hammock reading stories.

We topped it off with a picnic and kite flying with Daddy.

We went out for milkshakes and cheese fries on day four. They had been asking for cheese fries for a while. They ended up just digging through for the cheese-less fries. We made a stop by the library where they picked out every book the library had on baseball – and they got to stamp every book with the return date!

We made paper mache birds! We painted them a couple of days later. That night we held a movie night – Sandlot, complete with grilled hotdogs, Cracker Jacks, and sunflower seeds *with shell*.

We packed so much into those four days (and the weekend before it, that by Friday, we just wanted to sit. We grocery shopped and cleaned the house (boo), but basically just lounged in and around the house.

I began planning the following week’s lessons and that afternoon, our friend, Nick, arrived. He spent the night and went canoeing with Zack on Saturday!



We love having something to stretch our creativity and give us a goal to reach. Whether that is in regards to school studies or designing and building their bedrooms, mastering the correct ratio of water to flour in a loaf of bread or simply sorting and organizing the next season’s clothes. The girls have built up a healthy habit of doing.

Each season I try and have a large project for us to mull over and accomplish.

With our geography method this year (Little Passports), we have a large scale project each month (because we want to make it one). But they have so many requests for what we should learn, that our project to general subjects ratio has become very uneven and we spend most of our time each week fussing over crafts and Biblical metaphors and immersing ourselves into the cultures of others.

Well. This semester, we are beginning (again, more slowly this time) to read through The Chronicles of Narnia series – my favorite series / stories. – and we’re lovin’ it!

Another portion of our month involved Saint Pat’s / a study of Ireland. We usually study the country and occasionally mention Patrick. (One year we studied it for three months! ‘Cause we really like Ireland.)

The girls illustrated a few Irish Proverbs. Clearly, someone stole the other’s idea on that last one. Ha. I like the bear addition…and the dog in the attic? They cute.

They trapped a Leprechaun by enticing it with honey and a dirty penny.

Mae immediately declared we needed to try to catch more so that he could have a family. Model Magic and Momma’s free time don’t grow on trees, so I let her know they prefer to be alone.

They danced to Irish folk and rock music a lot. They jigged to all genres I supplied. Many an ankle were harmed during this activity.

I tried to create one on one time with Rae. That usually involved listening to her read me stories. And. Girl. Can. Read. If we weren’t reading she always chose either worksheets or to draw next to one another – sitting as close as possible.

A few times each week, the girls both would practice following a recipe all by themselves. The only issues they had was allowing the butter to get too warm while making cookies (I should remember to refrigerate their dough before baking it) and they aren’t the strongest mixers, so I had to help them finish up their mixing (we don’t have an electric mixer of any kind).

I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back and watching them, shamelessly eavesdropping on their conversations.

For a side project, the girls made a soda bottle ecosystem. We let them get some fish and a snail for it (the reason for the larger juice bottle instead of a second soda bottle) and they planted poppies in the top bottle. The poppies already have little sprouts!

Zack is on spring break this week. The girls and I are saving our spring break for a week that is fully warm, but, while in St. Louis for a few days, we visited the zoo – ’cause the sun was out and we can’t help ourselves. I gave the girls a map and they led the way. My favorite part was watching two hippos walking above their pool and then witnessing them jumping (as much of a jump as they can accomplish) into the water.

More on our time outside this month, back here in my last post.

I am so eager for April! We have several new curriculum books to crack open and many fun lessons planned. AND! our spring break!


Spring weather waited until the official equinox date this year and when it finally began to appear we took every opportunity to enjoy the sun the season was supplying. It is still incredibly windy (typical of here) so I didn’t enjoy it as much as the girls – but – for their sake, I kept most of the whining to myself. Below are a few moments we took our school work outside and some detours we took from book work to accomplish some play….work.

We got to witness a caterpillar making its cocoon – while climbing the wall!! Definitely the highlight of our month.

The girls went shamrock hunting so they could pin some to their jackets for Saint Pat’s Day.

One of my favorite days was one in which we drove to the lake. We sat in the car and polished off some simple workbooks and read our read aloud assignments while sitting comfortably in the car’s greenhouse-like warmth. We finished off the afternoon with two hours of exploring, collecting, watching, and tossing rocks and sticks into the lake.

I am so ready for warmth, even if it only means more rain!

A post on our structured lessons will be up tomorrow.


I’m sure this is no surprise to anyone who knows us, but our days are typically on the quiet side, save for loud laughter and the occasional thunder of rollerskate strides. Five years of formal, daily homeschooling and I am over the moon with how our life together is unfolding. I can’t imagine a better childhood for them.

A benefit from our homeschooling I can’t capture in an image?

Their love for one another.

It is incredible (At this age. It may be more of a struggle in the teen years. Struggle that will be no less beautiful and necessary.). Their constant encouragement for one another is stunning. I am so grateful they have this time to get to know each other and form knowledge of what it means to love a peer/sibling/possible future spouse unconditionally and develop a habit of lifting one another up at such a young age.

Alright – let’s get on to more formal lessons, yeah?

^ Photo by Mae ^

We were able to have school outside on occasion and chicken chores became a thing again!

The girls and I haven’t paid much mind to these new hens. Zack has pretty well been their sole caregiver. Switching roles wasn’t planned, I just really dislike the cold this year and have enough responsibilities as it is (not that he doesn’t, they are just “his girls”). I am hoping we have a warm spring and my interest in the ladies is rekindled. For now, the few and far between not-so-cold winter mornings will have to do.

The cold days really dragged on, though, and we spent more time than usual learning via computer and educational television…sometimes while wearing aprons or scarves…

We did read an awful lot as well which was also a great way to fill our days stuck inside.

Computer lessons consisted of –

ABC Mouse

Khan Academy math, art history, and Pixar in a Box – storytelling lessons

Typing through typing.com

Supplemental piano lessons using Hoffman Academy on YouTube

Worksheets! Rae really likes those. I really need to find some fresh books. With all of the time indoors lately, we’ve worked through all! of our multi-subject workbooks.

Mae has been asking to paint a portrait of me for two months now, and we finally found a good time to make that happen.

She was really generous with my eyelashes – so luscious! – and my shoulders…and what she calls my ‘skinny nose’ and ‘wild hair.’

Both girls spent most of their time reading (anytime, anywhere, and everywhere). Mae has a stack of books she’d like to read through soon (by that, I mean, RIGHT NOW!) and has even taken over our Bible and devotion time (the only thing she wasn’t reading before…reading me right out of a job…).

Rae tends to stick with her favorites and read them over and over and over. In true Rae fashion. She finds something she likes and loves it fully until the life is sucked right out of it (See: Star Wars, portrait drawing, and the beloved tiny figurine phase.) At the moment she is into Elephant & Piggie and the Pigeon books. She can read one of them in about two minutes, but she reads them appropriately. No exclamation points printed in vain on her watch. No sir.

^ Drawing Luke 7:11-17 ^ Love her little homes.

Playing with Mad Matter while I read aloud.

^ Mae’s are on the left, Rae’s on the right ^

The final two weeks will be spent, mostly, reading through The Magician’s Nephew and working on a project for it as we go (and will continue into March). Once we finish the book, I’ll put up a post all about our time reading through it. (It’s so fun already!!!)

During that time, they will also practice the piano and their weekly spelling words, and we will hold our normal Bible lessons each morning.

We took a small field trip to Pet Smart. Ha. Very small field trip. It was a kind of fun way to start off the new month.

This chameleon stole the day and nearly came home with us. We could use another class pet, right??

We are taking a larger (our largest!) field trip next weekend, which will be written about in its own post in March.



As I wrote the monthly school post, I noticed it was way too long – twice as long as my normal posts! Can you imagine?!

SO. I am going to break it up this month into two posts – for myself, and anyone else who cares to keep up with this sort of thing.

This one is solely about geography, and for geography, we began learning about Egypt through our Little Passports subscription! It has always been one of Penelope’s favorite places.

Below are some lessons we tied into our study.

A poem from Eric Carle’s Animals Animals.

“Penelope’s Room in hieroglyphics. She plans on hanging this in her completed new room – when that day comes.

Model Magic made an appearance. Mae created a Great Sphinx of Giza replica (*with nose*).

It turned into a good color mixing lesson as well. We color the white with Crayola washable markers – Zack’s instructions – and blend it in by squishing and kneading, adding more color to make it darker if needed. She used brown, which has a lot of red in it, so she knew to add green to balance it out and make it more tan than pink. She also used a bit of yellow.

Little Passports also sent an excavation kit (shaped like a pyramid) that housed a mummy toy and a tiny bust of a pharaoh.

With LP, came a recipe for Aish Baladi – tiny whole wheat bread loaves – which they compared to pita bread. We learned Aish means life in Egyptian Arabic. They forgot to flatten them before they let them rise – well, I suppose another version is I forgot to remind them…but they baked perfectly.

Our Story of the World history lessons just so happened to line up with our LP kit this month, and we relearned in greater detail about pharaohs, mummies, pyramids, and Joseph.

Next month, we’ll learn about Australia through Little Passports and Ireland, on our own, for St. Pat’s Day.


We started out our semester buying a new chair for each of them (and more Lego storage)

We have quite a bit of time to make up for after last semester – at least where Penelope’s logged hours are concerned – so we wasted no time jumping right on in.

The girls both completed an hour a week of piano lessons. I hope to get that up to at least two hours a week soon.

Katie (our cat) left a Blue Jay for us so, naturally, we spent the better part of an afternoon studying about them. We used various books we have here at the house, as well as hearing their call and reading John Audubon’s journal here.

…and we buried it in a sunny spot, as we do to all dead animals our cats leave for us.

We all enjoy world history, so within the last year / year and a half, the girls and I have read through the Story of the World series (Vol. 1-3) as chapter books, popping in on topics as they pertain to our lessons. Now that the girls are older (mind you, they are six and eight., not ‘old’ by any means), we are starting at the beginning once again, this time we will include projects and expand our reading using other resources along the way.

Our first topic was the first nomads and the first farmers. They’ve always been one of Mae’s favorite people to learn about.

We watched Primitive Technology on many lunch breaks. We also watched Season 3, episodes 5 & 6 of Tales by Light on Netflix about the Australian aboriginal culture. The girls practiced building a tiny primitive hut (based on one built by the Primitive Technology guy) and built a model of the first farmer’s irrigation situation – minus a shaduf. They plan on building a slightly larger model of that.

(Snow and rain have stopped construction, but she will finish the hut when the weather allows.)

Mae set up a campfire scene after watching Tales by Light. They “cooked” apples, danced, and pretended to nap when the fire died out.

Sunset by the beach, by Mae

The night sky through a crack in a canyon, by Rae

Last month’s Little Passports country was France. We didn’t have time to study it much, so we extended it over into January.

We’ve begun cooking our way through In the French Kitchen with Kids cookbook – and boy is it delicious! Crepes so far are their favorite. I hope to cook every item in there before the semester is over.

The girls each did a report and portrait of Oscar-Claude Monet. They also did their own painting in his painting style. They chose landscape images from the internet they liked and spent the entire month painting it – typically for three or more hours at a time. – BUT- the girls were completely annoyed with the technique, so when they had nearly given up (having one week left to finish them) I told Mae she could paint hers in her own style.

They’re now seeing Monet everywhere – like in this sunset, spotted by Mae.

During read-aloud time (where they listen to me read to them or an audiobook) they chose to play with Mad Matter sand, playdough, Legos, weave on the lap loom or worked on their Monet paintings.

On not very blustery days we spent as much time as we could outside. On a whim one morning we went fishing at the lake (those shorts are a lie – it was pretty unbearable) and on a separate whim, we drove down the road to the river just to walk around and skip rocks.

Now that both girls are reading, we spent, I would say, the majority of our school days reading. I need to focus on spelling, but for now, they are becoming incredible readers, so I’m going to see how their writing improves through reading.

And finally, in their eagerness for spring (always trying to savor each season while impatiently dreaming of the next one), they are beginning to get things moving in the garden department. Sprouting onions, scouting out where the strawberries should go and choosing which flowers they will plant this year. I’m still trying to figure out which lessons we should study in regards to plant life when the time comes. We’ve studied worms, plant companions, and decomposition in past years.


This month’s schooling was more unstructured than usual due to snow days, travel, and an abundance of doctor appointments (everyone is fine!).

When we did “have school” (I need a better term for this.) we took our time. We read more, asked more questions, wrote more intentionally, and diligently finished up projects to make way for a fresh start in December.

The rest of this month will be spent just reading, practicing piano and dance / gymnastics biz – while I prep for December.

So, before I move on into the December mindset, let’s see what they’ve been up to. Or rather, what they did that I bothered to photograph. Ha.

This was the big kahuna – or big Koi. (Isn’t Rae’s Sumo wrestler the greatest?)

We’ve been using Little Passports for some guiding where geography / culture studies are concerned. This month they sent us JAPAN.

We have yet to have the girls make, or even just try, sushi. We do, however, have sushi fixin’s in the house, so we’ll get to that this week.

They learned some common phrases (No, they won’t recite for an audience other than Momma, sorry.), as well as how to count from one to ten. They discovered Sumo wrestling, bullet trains, and origami (or “origarmi” as they say. Thanks, BBC.).

They already knew plenty about Japan, so I really focused on things that they might not know. They ate with chopsticks even more than usual…as if Mae needed an excuse…

We also studied (again) the history of the nation, stopping just short of World War II – that will be its own study.

The girls made toilet paper roll Koi fish. Mae really got into this craft!

Zack joined in on the Model Magic portion of craft time. We love this stuff! We (it was all a group effort) made a sushi roll and a Mount Fuji, and they are adorable.

This month for school, we studied the Mayflower (and ships in general) and life of settlers, once again. We will study this every year, getting more in-depth as we go.

We read portions of The Story of the World, Vol. 3 as well as Our America, Grade 2 for our Thanksgiving lessons – using trusted history sites when needed.

For their biographies, they studied William Bradford and Squanto.

Our first assignment for the month was a paper on Katherine Ferguson (as their colonial era person to get away from middle-aged white males). She was incredible, you should look her up!

We spent one afternoon talking about surrealism and the girls drew their own silly animals.

Mae drew a horse bird (not a pegasus).

The girls also wrapped up the Holy Spirit portion of their Trinity project. It will not be like the Japan project but will involve simple paintings and plenty (plenty!) of discussion.

This has been so much fun for all of us.

I think “Son” will be next, as the Christmas season is nigh and we will conclude that study just after the Easter holiday.

*We, of course, continue our usual English lessons, but that just flows so smoothly into our routine. While it is still my favorite subject to teach, I may not continue to mention it. At least until Mae begins writing her own stories, ’cause it will be adorable and I’m totally going to want to share that goodness!


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.).


…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!




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 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.