LATELY : APRIL 2021

Shiny treasure
Easter morning
Morning’s lessons at the park.
Evening walk, forgoing supper to soak up some sunlight.
Maybe enjoying being out and about with Mum.
Afternoon at the river
New trail spot
Clearing Vovo’s strawberry patch / finding snail friends
Post-thunderstorm glow
Devouring new comic book – -Wolfwalkers
Snuggles during rainstorm reading (Anne of Green Gables)
Drawing family portrait / Mum’s big eyes are funny
Math / painting self portrait
Visiting our old house – our cousin, Beef, and enjoying new animal friends
Discovering toads made it through the late frost (so happy!)
Looking lovely
Found flower gifts on my nightstand
Watching to see if we approve of the gift he gave us
Morning breakfast/tea/lessons
Small friend that joined us for breakfast
Collection for pretend breakfast / Georges gift – a shrew, which the girls drew before burying
Polaroid for a pen pal / Dad’s truck attachment that doubles as a fashion show stand
Studying nature guides under the table
Painting in the sunshine / hot-gluing toilet paper roll horses and cardboard cowboys
Rae’s narration on the bubonic plague.
Mae’s salt dough map on scrap cardboard – not yet labeled
Girls’ pot from our Greek period, freshly fed flytraps, new Ikea pot with new fern, doggo enjoying lessons
More art from cardboard scraps / We began the third Geraldine Woolkins book
Always trying to be as brave as cousin Solomon

LATELY: FEBRUARY 2021

February went quick, but thankfully (for us) we had some snow before the month was up! We started and ended the month with snow. I really could leave it there because that was the most important part of our month.

We had a few days of good snowfall (like most of the country)- but we were expecting and hoping for it (The girls and I, not the grandparents). The girls got their fill of playing in the snow, and thankfully, Zack got to be there to enjoy some sledding himself, and help lay good sledding tracks for us to enjoy. Miss Maybe was very happy in the snow as well! She was not thrilled when Mum got in the sled with Dad, but she got her exercise trying to save me, haha.

George was not thrilled with the cold weather. He tried to only spend two minutes out at a time. The in and out was delightful (it wasn’t). He still hasn’t learned to use his cat door.

Maybe still lives by me feet, but has been getting more snuggles and treats than normal. She really loved February.

The girls and I have been spending a lot more time than usual on the couch, piled together, snuggling up, and, while that seems like a small thing, it is my favorite thing!

Zack decided to only eat what I can eat this year – with the exception of the nights the other adults cook. With that, the girls and I got back to cooking daily big meals with each other. We haven’t done that in a year! It is hard to juggle kitchen time between so many people, but February really brought back a groove. AND! Each meal we made this month was a new-to-us recipe – and delicious!

The girls and I (and Shari this year!) continued our ‘heart attacks’ Valentine tradition! We covered the upstairs living area with hearts. We wrote things we love about each person -as well as Maybe and George. The girls and I tried to write one a day, and Shari wrote one for everyone in the house.

Rae finished the Millennium Falcon!! The way she uses it for play is just the greatest. The girls are so incredibly creative! PapaDeedee were so impressed, too.

Also, in sadder news, the braces have already closed her front gap. When I told her, her gap was gone, she said, “Nooooo, that was my best thing!” She is doing incredible with the braces though! This is new territory to all of us, and I was a bit nervous she would be uncomfortable but so far she hasn’t had any issues.

I’ll leave it here with this photo of Zack drawing portraits, sporting a fresh hair cut. I nearly cried as I cut it but I really do love it on him.

The girls were not supportive of his decision to lose the long locks, and are still not encouraging…but it’s not like he shaved his beard – I really would cry then, haha.

HE’S SO PRETTY!! Ahh, we love that man. I should end every post with his gorgeous face…mmm…

LATELY: : JANUARY 2020

JANUARY!!

We started the month with ice, more ice, and a dusting of snow and, as Zack observed, it was maybe more lovely than a blanket of snow. The sun made the ice on the trees sparkle and glow. The girls fully enjoyed the cold on their last trip to our other house – and I took their last portraits by these bushed.

Look at those beauties! They love each other so much and I am constantly filled with gratitude that Miss Mae was able to have a sister.

Zack and I FINISHED OUR HOUSE the following weekend!!!!!!

We are renting it out and are just so relieved to be able to solely snuggle and stare at each other’s faces on weekends if we want to now!

We received our favorite piece of mail at the start of the new year! Now, if I can just find time to make an order before they’re sold out of what we want…

We took Grandma to Ikea, where we purchased some organizing biz for the schoolroom/”workspace.”

Rae bought herself this Velociraptor (her favorite dinosaur/ in her top 5 animals of all time) and she bought her sister a giant boa puppet.

She looks old and I love her impossibly pale skin and redhead freckles and deep brown hair and her wearing my shirts more than her own.

Walking in on this scene was just the. best. Miss Maybe using a pillow properly, is definitely the cherry on top of the magical moment.

As well as some new shelving from Ikea, we also painted the lights and the table. It is so nice have a spot to put our school books and creating materials!

One one of those newly free Saturday nights, Zack and I made teeny watercolor books!

Rae and I have been enjoying them.

Davey boy is still kickin’! I wish he would choose a new shell already, but he seems happy enough.

As a reward for living so dadgum long, we got him two friends. Wyatt and Harry (from Disney’s Descendants and Zombies 2 musicals. the name Dave is from Kipo). One switched shells on the first day! They are teeny tiny and so far, a week into having roommates, Dave is completely unaware of their existence…

We waited for Dad to get home and then we watched a condensed version of the inauguration with the girls! After studying our government, taking them to vote, and getting them as involved in this election as possible since September, it was so nice letting them see it go full circle! (We are still discussing things with them, not just leaving it at the inauguration.)

Last weekend, we took the girls back to our old house/town to get Dave his new friends and we enjoyed an evening with our cousin, Beef and her husband, Ty. It turned into such a perfect day!

Miss Rae got braces this morning!

I have never heard of an eight year old getting braces, but her top teeth perfectly lined up with her bottom (and on occasion, she would protrude her bottom jaw out as an underbite), so they had to get it fixed before she got any older. She probably could’ve waited until she was a little older – her aunt didn’t get this same issue fixed until she was a senior in high school – but the moment her front teeth were all adult teeth is the best time.

Also today, we got our first substantial snowfall!

It took us an hour to drive the normally 20-minute drive to the orthodontist, and it was a rough hour!

When we made it home, the girls played out in that lovely snow for half an hour or so and after a break are now back out in it.

We still have a couple more things left to do before the month is over, but the snow feels like a great way to end the month and this post! Hope the rest of your month is wonderful!

LATELY : DECEMBER 2020

December this year was our first in this house! It was nice spending so much of the month celebrating with the girls and getting festive and excited with my mother-in-law. And! We got an entire week with Zack!

We spent every weekend from Thanksgiving week to the last weekend before Christmas (about 12 days) at our old house, and on one of those trips, Miss Maybe was blessed with a visit to the vet to get her nails clipped! Yes, blessed is the appropriate term for her visit.

The lady was giddy and b e s i d e herself waiting for someone to come out and get her.

It was 25 minutes of “WHY AREN’T WE GETTING OUT OF THE CAR, MOOOOOOM!”

She nearly dragged the poor man up to the door when he finally arrived and she was proud as punch as she strutted back to the car three minutes later with her fresh manicure.

Here she is, afterward, snoring through the girls’ lessons. She wore herself out…or I was boring her, ha.

The girls had some -as it turned out- very important dental visits. More on that in the January posts. The dental assistant we always get was a homeschool mom to five kids and is now the grandma to nine homeschooled grandkids! We always have so much to talk about.

^ First thing on the first day of his winter break! We got less than a week with him, before he headed off for a week alone at the old house, but boy what a week. He’s the best.

We spent every Friday watching the Mandolorian, Season 2 and he was there to enjoy the final holiday family stuff, like –

baking cookies, and –

Making homemade gingerbread houses (his is on the right, with the weatherproofed shingles)


We used this recipe, and the soft version you’ll want to eat is here.

A photo to add to Vovo’s gift. (Rae isn’t taller yet, she is standing on a rock)

Grogu (not “Baby Yoda”) joined us for school on occasion as did some fresh Lego characters.

You can find the school post here.

We just missed the planet alignment on the 21st, but we got to enjoy a few nights of lovely sunsets while watching the planets’ movement.

This was our first Christmas season without a fireplace going, which may have swayed the not-so-cozy vibe of this year. Our girls also couldn’t choose an activity as a gift, since there was nothing to choose from, so this year I got them gifts. It was more fun than I thought it would be, but I am looking forward to getting out with my little family in December 2021!

We tried to incorporate as many new traditions into the month as we could and make it as kid-friendly as our last home was. I think we accomplished that? Above is a string to find a gift Grandma got them to do on Christmas Eve with her after she got home from work. I think I may find a way to make the experience more special next year. (they liked it, it just felt more scripted than full of wonder, which is what they thought it would be)

The string led them to this cute Lego set Grandma got them to work on with her while watching a Christmas movie. Turns out, Rae would rather sit by herself without direction and complete it in silence (very like her mama) and she went downstairs to build her own Lego thing alone. So, Mae and I had a lot of fun putting these together, and they played Christmas Bingo with the entire family while we waited for supper to get out of the oven.

We kept our family’s tradition of personal homemade pizzas for Christmas Eve supper – and this year PapaDeedee got to join in!

We got a late start to Christmas morning (It’s hard to wrangle 7 people), so the girls and I cooked breakfast and watched A Christmas Story for the fourteenth time while waiting.

^ Opening the gifts from each other. Rae got a dog-care set (a leash, food bowl, bed, the tiniest Kong toy, etc.) for Meg‘s dog. Mae got a Lego ice cream truck!

They also got the coats they’re wearing (theirs were ripped and a couple of years old -Rae’s was my coat from college), and the scrunchies ’round their ankles…among other things.

They also got science, craft, and hands-on gifts, which they wasted no time enjoying!

Mama Bunny unloading her Costco-size Old Bay seasoning and then taking a breather after putting away the groceries and cleaning the kitchen.

They also got, in their stocking, some Mini Brands. What a hit. They are a surprise ball (which Zack and I normally despise), that is filled with mini versions of things you could find around your house. Cleaner, cereal, seasonings, paper shopping bags, shopping baskets, boxes of pasta, a bag of shredded cheese, etc. It was their one request. They wanted it for the dollhouse and it worked wonderfully.

Mae also got a car for her Calico Critter family and a kitchen set (the blender, toaster, waffle maker, and so on)

After some playing and lunch, Grandma came down to our part of the house and watched Soul with us. Such a pretty movie.

The grandparents at one point brought up the New York ball drop and the girls wanted to watch it this year, since there is cable in the house. Well, every song was inappropriate for kids, so between leaving on account of the songs and the commercials (we don’t like the girls to watch commercials), it became an hour of waiting and not watching anything.

We weren’t hungry for treats and Rae just really wanted to be in bed (as we usually are). Mae, however stayed up the extra hour to greet our midnight, said a prayer, and blew out a candle in her Greatest Showman style candle holder.

New Year 2021, Daddy has assured us he will be home with us, and we may take the girls on a trip, just the four of us. Somewhere with snow!

Hope everyone had a lovely December and is fully enjoying their new year (chaos of the country aside, of course)!

LATELY: OCTOBER 2020

October, as always, was just the best…at least as far as the three of us are concerned.

Nearly daily walks with my girls – and check out that arm hold. Being in close contact to Mama is still a must with them (Miss Maybe included) and I am forever grateful.

A black cat and pumpkins. How could I not…

Leaving my side to hunt the birds that live in the vines.

I hope the birds stick around through the winter. I love the abundance of chirping going on around our deck.

They didn’t make a pile to jump in (they did in our old yard when we visited), but they made plenty of fun out of our supply, and made a few piles for the fun of raking.

We took the girls to a pumpkin patch early in the month and I think we may just make that patch our ‘usual’ spot. They had a a lot of fun. I am also grateful that during the corona virus era, my girls have a few cousins that are our ‘regulars’, so they still get some interation with other kids, however few and far between those visits may be.

Daddy also stuck around to go with us, before heading away for the weekend. We sure do love that guy.

New Barbie and a new trick! Her sister would probably climb to the top, but my mama’s heart appreciates Rae’s gingerly approach to adventure.

The girls camped outside (on Mars) on a very cold night! They brought ‘space food’, Barbies, and of course – not enough blankets. This photo is from the morning after, and they didn’t regret a thing.

Mama and Mae.

Mae turned TEN!

As her gift from Zack and I, she chose to take her best friend-cousin out for tea and shopping, which we did the weekend before her actual birthday…and of course, M’s mama, Anna came along, too!

The morning of her birthday, we went to a park. So glad it was a lovely day for her!

Waiting for her cupcakes to come out of the oven. (before the park)

Rae got her a Uma Barbie (from The Descendants) and the grandma’s spoiled her good. In the second photo, she is wearing an outfit, knee-high toe socks, and a new scooter she received from the grandmas. My dad also came over for supper (spaghetti) and stuck around for the fireworks that Daddy surprised her with.

We tried to decorate here and there for the holiday, but we weren’t feeling it so much. Last year was the best and maybe I just felt it was hard to beat?

Zack finished our cabinets at the other house!

The girls and I spent a weekend there with him accomplishing tasks and we had a lot of fun. We mostly cleaned (deep cleaned) and made sure he was eating actual meals when the time came, while also taking breaks to watch a movie or read. It was nice.

Rae’s drawing. I really like her.

I turned 33 and we celebrated with Chipotle and a walk around Ikea. I also had a day-of celebration here at home with Shari and PapaDeedee, full of food and presents!

The girls and I went to the courthouse to vote early and they got their very own “I voted” stickers.

The girls went back and forth with their Halloween plans this year. They decided on dressing up and watching a movie. Saturday morning, however, they decided to go to a trunk-or-treat at Grandma’s church. They had a lot of fun and were able to come home in time to watch a movie while they sorted their treats.

November is starting out warm and lovely, and Miss Rae is turning eight in a few days! Hooray!

LATELY: : SEPTEMBER 2020

There have been many time hurdles between me and this blog in the past couple of months! For one thing, September felt about three days long…but as always, looking back as I write these posts, I find it was actually a long and full month.

Mae’s birthday is coming up, and that is as a good a deadline as any to get my act together and document what has happened before it gets lost, because they have been a lovely two months!

Since beginning our fall semester, we have made it to a park twice a week. sometimes more. We sometimes look up a new-to-us park, but for the most part, we have found our handful of favorites and return to them when we need a break and some fresh air.

At one of those parks, is a river, and while we won’t be walking through the water this fall, we enjoyed it while the weather was warm. We chose a spot far from the popular one and always had the place to ourselves. It was truly peaceful.

Maybe is still a shadow to me, somehow she has increased to affection for me in the last month. Someday I’m going to miss her under my feet, so I have begun smiling at her closeness. I think she noticed and begun smiling more herself. But with that came crying anytime I leave the house.

We got to visit Aunt Teresa in our former town. They got to play with their cousins (the ones they always see up here) and doted on a few fresh kittens.

As well as our trips to the park, we have been spending plenty of time out in our yard. We have held a handful of movie nights on the lawn, I stumbled upon a lovely scene of the girls reading to Daddy under the patio lights, and we have been spending an hour of our daily reading under the trees (more on that in the school post).

We introduced daily(ish) family evening walks after supper! It involves our family of four and Zack’s mom and the cool crisp air is delightful…even if it is too cold for my liking sometimes. I really should find our coats. I didn’t think we would need them so soon.

George has been back indoors for most of his days, and even slept inside last night and kept to his usual indoor naps during the day. When we have our schooling downstairs and if the doors are open, he lingers and lies about just outside on the patio. So glad he still loves his people.

Mae made a pillow out of fresh-cut grass and it was incredibly comfortable – and cold! We composted it all before heading inside for the night.

Meg has been joining us more on a daily basis. Sometimes, Mae brings along her doll as well, but Rae really involves her girl. It is so sweet to watch. I’m sure she will make an appearance in the school post as well.

Rae also bought a new Barbie in September, who also gets involved in our goings on. I’m so glad the girl’ imaginations are only getting strong as they age. They played Lego for hours given the chance, and otherwise chose to play with Barbies.

In case you missed it, my brother came for a visit, and I finally put up photos of our August back here.

LATELY: JULY 2020

I am getting back into the habit of using my DSLR camera often and keeping it close by at all times. Hopefully, with that will come my desire to write more than captions. Maybe I’ll write letters again? Smaller posts throughout the month? As for this post, it will be long and just captions once more.

Maybe pushing her way over the barricade we used to keep her in the back.

Zack was gone for several days every week, and on occasion, the girls and I would join him.

I really miss watching them wander and explore around this yard. Probably more than they miss it.

On one of our trips to our old house, Mae and I snuck out and took a walk by our favorite river.

Rae found Grandpa Steve’s cowboy hats, and Vovo’s scarves and, well, isn’t she just the cutest.

We had a few movie nights while Daddy was away!

Mae got to try her hand at a paddle board. She was terrific at it. Do they make paddle boards for children? She would make good use of one.

We got a few steps closer in the dollhouse remodel! We have chosen paint colors, kitchen flooring, and backsplash. We’re really geeking out over it.

George found an empty basket. I can’t bring myself to fill it, but if he continues to jump out just as I walk by, it will find things to fill it with real soon.

Mae picked up Teaching Children Responsibilities at a book sale (and was beyond giddy about it). It has charts, checklists for chores and such, as well as cards to help get responsibilities organized.

This gem found its way into the trash can the moment we walked in the door.

I couldn’t help but smile…dig it out of the trash and photograph it…

On our final trip to our old house (for July, we still have to go back in August), the girls and I took a break from painting and tried to take a hike. We got stuck in a down pour, which was so fun, but we didn’t get to hike as long as we had hoped.

We didn’t plan on celebrating the fourth but ended up going over to Seth’s (Zack’s brother), setting off fireworks, and releasing paper lanterns.

We were about to video call my older brother and chit chat about life.

Dave survived the month (and so far so good for this month as well…)

LATELY : JUNE 2020

June really just blew right on by! Here it is July and I am just now getting around to wrapping up the last month.

We tried to continue laying low in preparation for our trip to another state. While I am thankful we are all used to being around each other so much the girls really need to make some homeschooled friends, quick! I am thinking we may have to wait until the spring semester to seek them out though. Quite the bummer.

Below, though, are some parts of our month that were not a bummer!

Zack and I swiftly passed our thirteenth wedding anniversary. We celebrated by taking the girls for a picnic of our favorite food at the park.

…Don’t let the lack of exclamation points fool you, it was delightful and just how we wanted to celebrate.

Birthday treat.

Miss Maybe celebrated a birthday as well! She is seven or eight now? I think we went with eight…

We found a secluded river spot (minus a family down the way that had a dog that loved the girls) and enjoyed a swim for a bit – with Daddy!

Have I mentioned how great it has been actually seeing him on his summer break? It has been years since he has been able to enjoy summer with his ladies, we’re all feeling a bit spoiled.

Family bike rides are now a thing! They both have a bike now, and while Zack and I have many many bikes, we have been using the tandem bike.

Puzzles, and Pokemon, and Lincoln logs. Hours and hours of play.

Rae’s

Drawing flowers and then watering them. Clever girl.

“Okay, time to go in and take a shower…”

Before it became too hot outside, the girls enjoyed evenings and mornings outside with sidewalk chalk.

A new secret swing set in the woods!

Mae and I have been spending most of our time together. She is such an incredible human being and I am really grateful for our long conversations about anything and everything.

We had, for about two weeks, a sandpiper living nest to our driveway. It was so cool. Something got its eggs and I think it moved down the road a bit.

Mae is still a reading machine. She prefers to read while next to me, so I read while she reads, stopping occasionally to listen to her tell me about her book. It is so wonderful.

Watching the rain.

As part of our pioneer studies, the girls tried a few different honeys and made corn cakes with Aunt Jenny’s homemade jam for breakfast one morning.

Mae’s / Rae’s

We (always, myself included!), spent a few days learning about the Statue of Liberty. They really got involved with it.

We renewed our licence plates! Haha, but more importantly Mae stepped in to learn a new skill. She now knows how to take off and replace licence plates. So, if you’re in need, look no further.

July has had its own fun so far, but the rest of it may entail mostly work on our other house. That should be fun in its own way, but probably not blog-worthy. We’ll see.

We also took a trip to Tennessee, which you can read about here.

LATELY: MAY 2020

How is June already here??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A weed that turned out to be a mutant carrot.

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

Animal Crossing, Lego play, repeat.

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

She beat Daddy and I at a game of Junk!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy June!