LATELY : : MAY 2018

May has been so good to us!

While the first half went way too fast for Zack -and I’m sure every teacher – it crept by for me. Zack spent the final two weeks at his sister’s in my hometown, Charlotte, NC. I wasn’t looking forward to single-parenting for even a mere two weeks.

Despite my deep dread of it, the last half of May seemed like quite the vacation. No work on the house needed to be done for two full weeks, there was nowhere we had to be, plenty of sun in the forecast and innumerable places to enjoy it in. Gold. Just my girls and I and nothing but fun…or so we thought.

We filled the first two weeks running here and there with the little prince, catching bubbles as they frantically tossed in the wind, scribbled countless drawings in chalk, spent an entire day at church doing crafts and observing a very lost turtle, and – his favorite pastime – sat on the porch shouting at log trucks as they flew past the house. His mom is at home for the summer, so I’m not sure how much we’ll see of him. Certainly is weird without him around!

Mae killed it at her spring recital. Every photo I took ended up blurry, so this was a last-ditch effort and clearly, she’s over it. Zack missed it, so I really wanted to send him something from that night.

Just managed to fit all of us into a selfie on Mother’s Day.

The girls have a new cat. Just what we need. Her name is Katie. (Named by Mae)

We pulled our small pool out of hiding. Most days the girls played for hours in there! They also spent time at their friend’s pool.

My mom came to visit for a few days. She brought bamboo sticks with her. The girls totally love them.

She came over again on Memorial Day and brought Grandpa and cousins!

Our lawn mower stopped working just before Zack left for his sister’s in North Carolina. While he was away, I borrowed our neighbor’s mower and they watched our girls while I trimmed our lawn. (We have the best neighbors!!)

I found a picture in Zack’s classroom that Rae had left behind at some point. It’s me taking a nap. ha! She really captured my bedhead, scrawny hands, and love of green and blue – and so sweetly didn’t draw me as a mouth breather.

The hens are handling the summer heat well. They don’t even cower to the shade of the coop. They spend all day out in their yard space.

Buck begs for my breakfast. Everyday. He has learned to settle for sweet talk.

He’s also spent plenty of time outside. He even let my mom use him a footrest for a hot minute.

Mae’s legs have grown too much this month!

I don’t know why I’m always surprised at the sight of my kids growing. Why is it so weird??

One of my first big outings with the girls after Zack left was to the London Tea Room and Tower Grove Park, in St. Louis. I wrote about that back here.

We took breakfast to the lake and enjoyed it under a shade tree. Usually, something we save for the fall months, but even in the heat, it was such a great way to start the day.

Later that night, we experienced the great ER visit of 2k18.

I was really wishing Zack was with us then so Mae could’ve stayed home to sleep. At about 1:00, I realized Rae wished he was there for comfort and snuggles. We miss him so much.

He was enjoying time with his favorite sister and, more importantly?, Zoey, who is in love with him.

OH! Also! Boy got his hairs cut!

We have plans to spend the first days of June with Zack’s mom. Time with Shari is always a great idea.

Happy June!

LATELY : : APRIL 2018

Two weeks left of work for Zack! We are ready for summer, let me tell ya!

April was pretty much non-stop for us (seems to be the 2018 theme for the Rogers family). We’re going to try and slow things down a bit over the next couple months and -for the most part- let our summer vacation be a vacation. But, before I get ahead of myself, here a bit about our month of April…

We began April with Easter, like most.

The day was sunny then rainy then sleet came and it ended with snow and thunder – surely, nature’s unappreciated April fools joke.

We enjoyed a fire in the fireplace for the first time this year (We’ve been solely using the furnace). Napped away most of the afternoon and cleaned the house before heading to bed. Not too celebratory, but we did rest on our day of rest for a change!

Mae found ways of avoiding the little kids. She didn’t appreciate being discovered.

Rae had picture day at preschool!

Their photos are always not-so-good (says the woman who fills entire blog posts with blurry photos…), so I always just buy one photo for photo’s sake – I am completely satisfied with this photograph we took on the way to the car!

Little man tended to his ladybirds with undying enthusiasm.

The sun shone many many times this month!

Zack has been getting back into tennis. We were able to hang out with him for an afternoon full of tennis and a walk!

The kids dug SO MANY holes and “trenches.”

We also ate some snacks under the trees. With that, we’ve gathered somewhere around twenty ticks. Not so nice.

I count diggin’ holes as part of learning, but I wrote a bit about our hardcopy-schooling this month back here.

I attended two weekends away with the youth group, and Zack was there for one of them!

We spent quite a bit of time sitting in the car. Maybe it’s not out of the ordinary, I just documented it more this month? I dunno. They sure are patient.

Mae is getting eager for her spring recital that is coming up next month! I will never tire of seeing her perform. She can’t help but float and flutter about every minute of every day. I’m so grateful she’s able to dance at this point in her life.

I’ve heard that in her two years at this studio, she has barely said five words. I believe this because, well, she is my daughter – but I can’t believe that very same statement because at home, a l l.  s h e.  d o e s.  is talk! – and it typically involves gabbing about the art of dance.

Lookin’ pretty whilst spreading dirt on the newly swept porch.

Little man turned two!

All four of us got to spend an afternoon with one of our FAVORITE cousins, and her husband (who is one of Zack’s best childhood friends). They moved back from Seattle about a month or so ago. Two months? Maybe.

Anyway, they’re so great, we’re spending next weekend with them as well!

Buck is just as thrilled about their move as we are. He now has a fellow dog to play with. (Note: Their dog is less thrilled.)

I began teaching the girls how to play Battleship.

Mae used her board to imagine battles, shouting the play by play at the top of her lungs with great enthusiasm and gave quite an impressive performance. Rae simply placed pegs here and there until her board was nearly full.

They did have fun, though. That’s something.

We had one day that I would consider actually warm. Boy was that terrific!

We polished off the month with picture day for Mae at dance class! I also tackled our lawn and it is freshly mowed for the first time in 2018. Hopefully, the ticks will stay a little farther away from now on! Stinkers.

Alright, next comes May. Please be warm. Please be warm. Please be warm.

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!

 

 

LATELY : : DECEMBER 2017

December came quick!! Quicker every year.

We began the month learning about the original Saint Nicholas. I always thought he was Italian. Nope. Sort of? Greek under Roman rule, is basically Italian, right? Stretching it much? Who cares. He was awesome. Someone truly living to be like the Lord.

Some other school work here.

Zack baked Gingerbread for the first time ever. The girls ate it most mornings with an orange as their breakfast, until it was gone.

Mae baked cookies for our neighbours and some friends from church.

Zack and I nearly cried looking at these photos of Mae, imagining the day she is that tall without a stool. Hopefully, when that day comes, she’ll still be sporting elbow patches.

We baked a record amount of bread – to go with our record amount of soups and stews and so many gingerbread cookies. We used this recipe and had to throw away a softball size of dough, as we just could not handle any more cookies.

The girls picked out some great library books this month – It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids! (It’s about George’s son) and the illustrated 134 page The Nutcracker were two of our favourites. Mae also read four horse related chapter books (She’s really into the Horse Diaries series). She’s determined to read every horse book the library has! We also began the Chronicles of Narnia series on audio discs.

Mae also attended her first knitting / crocheting club…night? at the library. Thankfully one of the ladies kept talking, making her feel comfortable. I tried walking around to look at books not written for children. I came home with a stack of children’s literature…

The girls always do more yoga this time of year. They had a Christmas episode this time around! They’ve used Cosmic Kids Yoga the past three or four years now. We haven’t branched out to “normal yoga” ’cause they still really enjoy it. (and, no, I don’t do yoga. I’d likely fall asleep on the floor)

We attended a baby shower for my best friend’s daughter. It was SO much fun!

It was also so great to see that family again – just a bonus we were able to celebrate Mr. Julian!! We’re all dying to meet that kid!

Stopping for gas on our way home at 11 P.M. She stayed awake the entire way home. We talked and blared Zootopia to make sure I didn’t fall asleep.

Rae woke up the next morning, vomiting. (Notice the Disney World “just in case” bucket…) Mae got to go to church, and thanks to some incredibly awesome folks at church, I didn’t have to!

Chores in nightgowns developed into a thing.

Mae looks forward to any type of hard work and does an incredible job at anything we request of her. Like, cleaning out the hens’ boxes and filling them with fresh chips, or her favourite job – helping load the furnace, which involves a trip down into the ‘spooky’ cellar.

Rae…well, Rae is good at avoiding. In the photo above, Rae is “helping” me burn trash as her chore. No job is too small to neglect!

We steadied our Christmas…business? We watched Princess Bride and called it a Christmas movie (Right in there with Hugo, Harry Potter, LOTR, Jeremiah Johnson, and Star Wars), held off starting up the furnace so we could wear sweaters indoors, and only read one holiday book a day.

The girls had their first sleepover!

We took a field trip to The Compassion Experience. You can read about that here.

Rae got a haircut. It was getting kind of shaggy.

She had a good month at preschool. She was particularly excited to head out the door each morning and beamed when she saw me waiting for her after class. The girls talk and talk and talk all the way home. Rae shows Mae the work she was able to bring home. They discuss snack time and what her friend Fletcher has been up to.

It was too cold to take a decent photo of her for “green day” (show-and-tell), so we snapped one in the car. There’s a green dress under that coat. She was extra happy because green is Mommy’s favourite color. Sweet girl.

Ninja-Mae seems 2 feet taller than Normy-Mae. She’d make a good burglar or shadow next Halloween…

(Last photo was taken my a lady at church.)

Instead of a pageant, our church let the kids show off the talents the Lord has given them. They chose to sing, and boy oh boy did they sing their hearts out (to Jingle Bells – ha!) But, Rae joined in and stayed committed. Just look at that grin. Agh! We made sure to sit front and center!

The girls got to visit Santa. They still insist on believing in him this year, knowing full well he is not real. They want to imagine. Can’t complain about that.

Last year Mae decided days before Christmas that she wanted to pretend and believe in Santa. Okay. She baked cookies and set out carrots alongside them. We played along. First thing Christmas morning she ran to the plate, gasped, and said (with a smile and wide eyes), “Which one of you ate them?!”

This year, my mother-in-law and I scrambled at nine or ten o’clock to rewrap gifts she brought. Mae was really (really) excited to see what Santa would bring her. She even mentioned Christmas morning, “Last year Santa only stuck around to eat the cookies, but this year he brought gifts!” Next year we’re going to let them be Santa.

I also finished sewing up Mae’s horse that was chewed up by a dog back in October. Didn’t even have time to wash it, but she overlooked the dog smell and was very happy to have her back.

We joined in on a field trip with fellow homeschoolers.

We all learned a lot about amphibians. I’m sure the girls and I will go frog / salamander hunting plenty this spring!

We were able to spend the entire month outside! It got COLD beginning the first day of winter, but we still managed to haul our bums out for a few minutes each day.

Wrote a post about one of our trips back here.

We ate nearly every meal by candlelight.

We took Rae to see The Last Jedi as her Christmas gift. ^ Her reaction to hearing she was going to see it in 3D – only because we missed the first regular showing and didn’t want to wait for the next one. It’s quite the treck to the theater.

Never fails, some really nice folks dress up and posed for photos with the kids. Rae was shy this time around, but Mae would have hung out there all afternoon. I have no idea who that lady is supposed to be, but she was awfully sweet and that beefed up trooper by Boba really dug her socks, so they’re basically BFFs now.

We also took Rae and “Sweepio” out for supper later. (She says, “C! 3! P! O!” now but I’m nestalgic for the Sweepio days)

She crashed hard when we got home.

Zack enjoyed his last couple days before winter break. We were very glad to have him around (ALL DAY LONG!) for a couple weeks!!

We attending PawPawDeeDee’s Christmas party (Zack’s side of the family) on Christmas Eve Eve, which also happens to be my parent’s anniversary…

…my dad ended up in the hospital on his anniversary. Boo. It did mean we were able to visit with him though! (Also in the hospital over Christmas was Zack’s grandpa and Zack’s best friend’s dad. Not a good weekend for dads.)

My younger brother was visiting from Alabama and we got to see him a few times over the break, which wasn’t planned either. My dad officially went home the day after Christmas and is hopefully feeling much better.

It snowed just in time for Christmas!

I didn’t take many photos this Christmas, but it was my all-time favourite holiday season.

Mae had her Christmas recital! That’s back here.

We’re ending the year with a slumber party for the girls here at the house. Happy New year!

LATELY : : NOVEMBER 2017

We began the month of November celebrating this lady’s birth. She’s FIVE now!

You can read about that here and here.

We have spent months car shopping while desperately clinging to the hopes our lemon would get its act together and somehow last us another year. We had it for seven years and drove it one billion miles. We can’t really complain…

After looking at various vans, trucks, and SUVs, we decided on this beauty. Basically a spaceship. My mother-in-law said it needed a name, so we went with Norrin Radd.

The girls spent hours digging holes and raking leaves in the yard. The leaves just blew back from whence they came, but the holes will stick around making sure to trip us when we least expect it.

We took a trip to “The Diamond Store,” to pick up some chalkboard paint and continue our hunt for 12″ duct pipe things. I dunno. We’re going to order those online, but we did get some paint and a video that makes me chuckle.

The chalk wall completed, above. It took a day of sanding, three days of priming, and about five coats of chalkboard paint.

We followed up Lowes with a trip to Taco Bell. Normally, that wouldn’t grant a spot here (maybe it would?) but the girls were such turkeys, I want to remember it.

We spent nearly every day learning about Separatists (Pilgrims).

Their timeline, hymns they enjoyed, work they would’ve done every day, what schooling was like, life in Holland, as well as what Native American lives were like before settlers and just after settlers arrived.

We read stories of all of the above in their American history book, in a colonial times book, and listened to Stories of the Pilgrims while we did paintings, crochet practice, and a bit in the car. It was very good as an audiobook!

The girls prepared Johnny cakes as a snack one day, made construction paper hornbooks, and dried apples to hang and use this winter. We also attempted making rag dolls, but just couldn’t find the time.

We read Thanksgiving related chapter books – Nate the Great Talks Turkey and some Felicity books. while Mae crocheted and Rae drew photos or just snuggled.

The girls take art and singing lessons at the high school once a week. Zack teaches them the art (obviously?), and they made these choose-a-face pictures. I didn’t take photos of theirs (but we kept them), so here ^^ is Zack’s example.

The girls and I joined in on art club’s Thanksgiving party. We enjoyed good food, painting, video games, and a visit to Aunt Teresa (who had a table tennis match going on with her own students. Imagine that. I bet she whooped ’em all! Suckers.).

Rae also cashed in on her free birthday smoothie from the student cafe while we were there.

Mae took a fall, chipping her left front tooth in the process.

That first photo was taken moments before. Poor sweet girl.

While we did Bible studies, we only did a painting on the story of Babel. Simply because Mae really wanted to.

We only had time for one poem painting this month. It was about a windy November. Perfect for our November.

Mae also learned about a couple “lady scientists.” (We used this book)

Science is her “favorite thing everrrr!” so we focused a bit more on it, despite being busy enough with other subjects.

Buckey Boy!

Rae taped everything in sight. I got her rolls of tape for her birthday since she likes tape so much. I’m regretting it, but she is so happy and rarely stops creating with it.

Mae practiced on her new piano nearly every day she was home.

Despite my best efforts, Christmas made its way into our lives.

That lovely stomach flu showed up. Zack and I missed it, but there’s still time.

Zack and I spent a weekend in St. Louis at a Missouri Youth Fellowship event with our church. SO GOOD!

Can you find Zack and Rae??? AGH!

The girls spent that weekend down the road a bit at Grandma Shari’s house. They were able to catch the tail end of the final sermon and ride home with us on the bus.

Buckey spent that weekend with our cousin Marsha. He rode home with his bum in the back and head in my lap. It’s nice to be missed.

As Rae is getting more independent, it seems I’m getting frequent one on one time with this ham.

Zack’s Thanksgiving board made me very happy.

Rae and I took a trip to the mall – not as dreadful as I expected! We seemed to have the whole place to ourselves. She had birthday money to spend and found so many things she wanted to buy for her sister.

Sadie, Mae, and I took Buckey to the dog park. He just hung out with his momma and not the twenty other dogs. I can totally relate, B.

Afterwards, we took him to PetSmart to let him pick out a bone. He did visit with the dogs at the store. Most of them looked like cats, though. He’s used to cats.

I posted our Thanksgiving day back here.

Video games at 10 pm by the fire. Hooray for long weekends!

It has been warm. I wore a tank top, sandals, and shorts the day I typed this sentence. Stupid. Get cold or at least rainy already! Just kidding…?

My girls are loving the heat while wanting snow at the same time. Not totally out of the question here in the Ozarks, but I’m not holding my breath.

These fellas. Never far away.

We started our (probably too in-depth) lessons on Christmas. Here they’re writing and illustration Isaiah 11:1.

Still haven’t painted the trim ^ ^. We’ll get it done in the next year or two…

Mae has one more rehearsal next week – and THEN! – the recital. So glad my child has confidence in front of a crowd.

We’re ready for December, and hopefully, the cold weather that comes with it!

LATELY : : OCTOBER

October, oh how we love thee. This was a fun month!

I’ve posted fifty-eight photos and two videos to sum up a thirty-one day month (and that was skimming the surface, ha!). If you decide to stick around for such a commitment, go ahead and gather whatever supplies you deem necessary and get comfy.

We ended September and began October with Seth and Jenny.

The girls have received frequent computer time over the past month. They only use these during their free time, and never instead of school work, but they certainly learn a lot through these. ABC Mouse is their favorite.

Soon, Mae will start typing practice, but I’m certainly in no rush for her to get comfortable around a computer.

Mae would eat every meal by candlelight if I’d agree to it. On rainy days, I agree to it.

Mae turned seven!

When Zack and I were dating (and newly married), he would set up scavenger hunts for me on my birthdays. I believe his mom also did one for me back in high school.

Our girls don’t usually get any gifts from us. This year, however, all of Mae’s desired activities didn’t pan out, so she received gifts by way of a scavenger hunt through the house.

She also had macaroons instead of cake and sparkling grape juice in fancy glasses.

Mae also received calls that involved songs and long conversations, from Grandma Shari, Grandpa Kevin, and Uncle Joe. I took these photos as they were talking to Uncle Joe. Their faces were just too good. Rae even joined in on this call. They miss their Uncle Joe!!

Rae has spent more hours than not “doing art.” Above are some badges she made with paper bag clippings, glue, and markers. All her idea and her doing.

Art has become her favorite (only) way she spends her free time.

Not bad for a girl who “Doesn’t even like crafts.”

We started the fireplace back up. Not the furnace yet, but we’re ready for it! Well, my heart is ready, my husband is not. Zack wants to reroute ducts to be more efficient with how the heat is used throughout the house. That man. Always schemin’.

Speaking of schemin’, Zack started more projects. This is going to be a fun one!!

The girls collected leaves on our frequent walks.

The camera on my phone was broken for most of the month (and last month!) so we took a lot more photos with me in them. Zack is very happy about this.

This also means I used the Nikon more. The Nikon is happy about this as well, I’m sure.

– and I guess I also wore Zack’s Cornerstone shirt a lot?

Mae purchased a bow and arrow with some of her birthday money (from Grandma). She has practiced every day. On rainy days she practices in the living room. She’ll be a master archer in no time.

Rae became less crabby about copy work. (Soley for practicing her writing skills, not for knowledge of what she’s writing)

My aunt & uncle came from Georgia for a visit!

While visiting my dad and Uncle Kenan (Aunt Kim’s brothers), she (and of course Rae’s BFF, Uncle Larry!) took the time to drive 2 hours to see us!!

Friends from Alabama also came for a visit!

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Buckey boy got neutered and had his dewclaws removed.

So far, he still loves us.

The girls carved a pumpkin. Seasonal obligations.

Mae has big plans for her own pumpkin patch next year. We’re planting ALL the seeds! “Go big.”

Mae has developed an interest in hymns.

Daddy is more than happy to sing them all to her at a moments notice. He sings them on his own at random, so I guess its no surprise she likes them. I’m just happy about this.

^ That look!! What a babe. Can you spot Buckey?

We took Zack to one of our favorite spots for breakfast one day. We’ve been missing him this year. He has been much busier than he used to be. All good things and all time away from us is spent helping others. It sure is nice when we get uninterrupted time with our man, even if it is just for half an hour (and on the way to more of his responsibilities – ha!).

I turned 30, for whatever that’s worth.

Amelia proudly ate raw broccoli on my birthday…just thought that floret should be acknowledged.

My favorite part had to be this child saying, “I love you, Birthday Girl,” followed by a kiss on my arm (because she’s short), every chance she got.

Coming in at second place, is the time spent helping Mae bake me a pineapple upside down cake. I don’t like pineapple upside down cake. I actually don’t like any cake. I DO like her smile and the joy she feels when she puts time and hard work into caring for others.

My mother-in-law sent me a list of 30 things she adores about her Jadey-girl. You may know about the lists and letters I write occasionally. Man, was it nice to be on the receiving end.

While we were planning on officially celebrating my birthday the following weekend, Zack had an entire afternoon to just spend with us, so we took advantage of the situation, and took the girls out on the town.

It was cold and rainy, so we stuck with indoor biz. We started our night by checking out the new Starbucks in a neighboring town. (everything we do is in a neighboring town.) I hate coffee, but Zack loves coffee, especially if there is something new and weird he can try. Wouldn’t you know, there was something new and weird for him to try!

We also walked around Khols. We never go to Khols and often forget it even exists.

They had superhero sheets and so many toys at eye level throughout the store. My girls were very pleased with this place.

We then went to Walmart (yay?) and let the girls finally play Zelda on the big screen.

We ended our lazy evening with Taco Bell at 9 p.m. NINE P.M!

Mae wore this coat all evening and rarely takes it off – even at home – because she fancy.

We set up a new schoolroom situation. (Did you just laugh out loud, Shari? I can’t help myself.)

Mae decided to grow three years overnight at some point.

Also ^ she’s super into writing stories about horses. We have notebooks full of them.

She’s also still very much into being a dweeb. God bless her.

Speaking of dweebs…

Rae manages to function perfectly with my harsh prescription strapped to her face. Should I be worried?

(She’s holding an acorn ^)

It’s wood haulin’ / choppin’ / burnin’ season! Our favorite!!

Zack was able to get some work done for his grandpa during his fall break, so we spent the final weekend at Zack’s mom’s house.

The girls and I brought along some workbooks to do while everyone was at work and enjoyed some school outside (before it became freezing cold.)

The girls and I also took several walks while everyone was at work. We brought Buckey along, but he’s getting too big!!

Buckey boy was able to enjoy some time with Zack’s grandparents while Zack put up a backsplash. So glad it didn’t take him long to get calm and lounge about. He seemed to appreciate time away from his kennel.

Vovo (my grandma) and Grandpa moved up from Alabama this weekend as well! They brought their piano and couch for us, so we brought B along for a ride in the truck. He also rode home in the truck later that night, leaving me to drive home in the van alone. Not my favorite thing to do…

We’ve been making constant use of that piano and sofa. Thanks, Vovo.

This is also the reasoning for the new schoolroom area up above.

^ Mae now has the largest earmuffs to accompany that coat of hers.

Halloween. Mae adores it. I think the excitement involved in getting out of the house with the entire town at night + dressing up has a lot to do with it. She’s not that into candy. BUT! So much candy was collected.

Daddy painted faces all night. Guess which girls got to go first…

We came home after making the rounds, enjoyed some hot chocolate and watched Vamperina on Youtube. Solid night and I am oh so glad it’s over!

Our days are filling up quickly but we’re hoping November will leave us feeling less like this ^.

Happy November, errbody.

 

LATELY : : SEPTEMBER

I’m not sure why, but every month this year has been packed with work and travel and friends and a new seasons obligations. Sadly, not much lounging in our underwear Sunday best watching cartoons went on in the past nine months. It’s been great. Just different.

Every single day in October is equally as packed, if not more so.

I’ve decided to do a monthly round-up of goings on. Over-looked photos and photographs from early posts will be used. I want to remember it all. In this month’s case, half are blurry phone photos, as I didn’t use the Nikon much and the camera on my phone is busted (didn’t stop me from using it, as you’ll see).

* THIS IS A  L O N G  POST, YA’LL!

We hungout with Nutmeg for the first time. She actually fell asleep on Rae’s shoulder for a bit.

Rae checkin’ her specks before heading down the road to “Cousin’s Day” at Aunt Teresa’s.

Random photos taken to brighten Aunt Sarah’s day.

We’ve been floating around town on Tuesdays and Thursdays during our two hours without Rae. I’ve enjoyed being home more (which I did not expect!), but maybe because it was so hot for most of this month.

We started learning about kings (of all places, backgrounds, and timelines) – but have taken a break for a bit, since Mae requested a new topic. She was loving this, so we’ll come back to it.

Mae wrote a poem on the fly. Not unusual for her, but check out that rhyming!

We’ve begun learning about Abraham Lincoln (per Mae’s request), and boy is she enjoying it!

She wants to learn about the man who “cancelled slavery.” (as she puts it)

This project will get its own post once we’re done and have visited the Lincoln Museum in IL. Fieldtrip!!

Zack and I went on trip with the youth into the city. My mom watched the girls for us, and our wonderful cousin Marsha watched Buckey boy for us.

Zack and I got to take a few rides on the motorcycle, together. We also went to his class so I could learn how to throw on the wheel. My first project (above) turned out perfectly. I still can’t believe it.

We actually had more time on the porch in August, but we did have a few chilly mornings and tried to take advantage of it.

We filled that precious, fleeting time just reading books. Short stories and chapter books.

^ Worse than normal phone-bad quality, due to my cracked lens but still worth posting.

On our last visit to my mother-in-law’s house, the girls traded skills and taught each other dance specifics and gymnastic stretches.

The girls walked across the street in their beloved leotards so they could ‘perform’ for Pawpaw and Deedee (Zack’s grandparents). They were impressed, I’m sure.

Buckey had a check-up at the vet. Never far from his BFF or the open box of treats set down on his level.

We got a new bunbun. We’re still completely smitten with her. I hope she lives forever and ever and ever and…

We went apple picking with my sister-in-law, Jenny.

Mae started her second year of dance! None of those are of her in dance class, but check out the fresh pre-class, no frizz hair! -and my girls always sitting soclose to one another.

Reading chapter books on the top bunk became a thing. On this night, we read Spiderwick Chronicles (book one), in one sitting…and then took [too many] photos of silly faces. (The front lens works on my camera. Who doesn’t love selfies, right?? Ugh.)

Rae fell asleep on the way home (one of our many trips to St. Louis this month), and Mae took advantage of Momma’s 42 percent battery life and her sister’s phenomenal deep sleep abilities.

Rae managed to get cuter. I thought she reached the highest level a human can reach. That last photo did me in.

Mae also managed to get more hip, and here I am, covered in her dust. (Not that I’ve ever been hip. Obvious, since I’ve used the word hip three times now.) I stand just like she’s standing, but I look like a dweeb with scoliosis and she looks like a tween model.

SCHOOL, LATELY

I started schooling Mae when she was three. Rae was a year old, and took a lot of naps, so Mae and I had quite a bit of one on one time for school and play.

Fast forward four years and we’ve made it back to that glorious time together.

This time around, however, she can read and write. What a difference that makes.

She asks questions that stop me in my tracks. She’s always been an “old soul,” but now I am seeing a new version of what that means for her. She absorbs information, ideas, and theories so brilliantly. Constantly in awe of her. – Maybe this is normal for a nearly seven year old, but I don’t remember being seven, so I’ma ganna gush on m’lady like its a new thing. Thanks for indulging.

She is very interested in science. All things science. Anatomy (of humans, animals, and bugs), Astronomy, experiments (baking soda + vinegar type biz), studying nature, and weather. If she gets interested in time travel, Daddy will be tackling that nonsense.

On Rae’s school days, we pick a spot outside – a park, a river, a cemetery or a lake. We get formal school work done, and then fill the rest of our time by exploring.

If we’re at a park, we’ll hike, follow squirrels as quickly and as far as we can, or simply collect nuts, bugs, and leaves.

If we’re at a cemetery, we’ll spend our time reading the oldest headstones and making up an interesting life story or researching origins of surnames.

If we’re at a lake or river we’ll fish, and observe spider webs and tadpoles.

Climbing a tree is an option everywhere we go. We love ourselves a good, low branch.

We also hit up the library at least once a week. We usually read a chapter book a day (3 days a week), and it’s quickly become one of our favorite ways to spend time together. Ya’ll know I can’t pass up a chance to snuggle – especially if it’s with a fellow snuggle enthusiast.

This past week, we read Kylie Jean – Cooking Queen (The Kylie Jean books are her favorite right now), Spiderwick Chronicles – Book 1, and Princess Poesy and the Crazy Lazy Vacation. We finished that last one is 15 minutes, and I take my sweet time reading books! I need to find more of those Princess Posey books! Even Rae can sit through that.