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!
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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.
Drawing flowers and then watering them. Clever girl.
Before it became too hot outside, the girls enjoyed evenings and mornings outside with sidewalk chalk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
I am grateful, while our lives are in fact very different right now, my girls have not seemed to notice. A month before the prescribed ‘stay home’ we moved into a new home with their grandma and two great-grandparents. Zack was set to join us full-time in May and, well, what timing! The seven of us are all here under one roof.
Aside from a new setting and new ‘roommates,’ our lives are just as calm and full of love, patience, and no worries as before the virus (at least where the four of us are concerned). My girls have not asked to go anywhere in this month, they have no signs of cabin fever (or the virus), and we are all so grateful we can be together.
Maybe is calmer here…ish. She is happy to have so many folks showing her love and an abundance of nap spots, and her fellow cat (ha), George, close by.
Per usual, the April weather has been a hot mess. Wind (Oi the wind!), rain, hail, extreme heat (followed by frost), large beautiful moons, clear skies, and (mostly) cloud cover for days on end.
Poor George is missing all of it. He seems to be adjusting to life indoors, but I know he would love to chase a bird and feel the grass under his paws.
For the time being, Zack and I have built him a ‘sunroom/catio’ for him to use when he needs fresh air. He sort of likes it. We will eventually add a scratching post and a second-story place to rest.
We have been enjoying the occasional family walk/bike ride. We have the place to ourselves during ‘working hours’ even though all other kids are home now.
Dandelions are all the rage right now. Grandma mentioned getting rid of the dandelions next year. I’m not sure the girls would be alright with that.
We saw and purchased the house during the winter and are just now getting to see the wonderful plants in their best state.
The girls are halfway through their year (7 1/2 & 91/2), which means they are growing quickly, seemingly overnight. I’m okay with it. Every age so far has been a great age, and thankfully, that still holds true.
The night before Easter Sunday, Mae made supper solo.
She is used to a ceramic griddle and was upset when they were burned or hard to flip. She also used a box batter for the first time. Not quite the same results as scratch, but she did great!
When we closed on the new house, we often wondered if Shari (never mind the rest of us) would be settled in by Easter. Well, Easter came and everyone had been settled for a full month already. It was so nice knowing the grandparents wouldn’t have to be home alone during that time and that the girls would actually get a big Easter! (I don’t do eggs and bunnies for Easter and Mae lives for a big celebration.)
We filled the eggs – leftover from Grandma’s previous egg hunts – with jelly beans and quarters.
Grandpa (“Papa”) turned 86. I’m, once again, glad he had a full house of folks there to celebrate!
The janitors are getting a head start on their summer deep clean, so the teachers are clearing out their rooms here and there. Which means we are accumulating 8 years of wonderful past projects!
Zack was very bummed the students couldn’t finish this Millennium Falcon, after working so hard on it all year.
As far as the house goes, well, there as been plenty of activity. There has been construction going on, several days a week this entire month. Even as I type, men are installing a new roof, which began as a project brought on by hail damage. It was perfect timing, though, as we were able to perfectly match it with the room on the new garage/apartment thing, the “barn.”
A few times, the girls and I went down the road to a park (where we weren’t around other folks) and found some new-to-us trails we would like to become our new hangouts once things get back to normal. We also decided this framed site of an old pioneer house would make a great picnic spot on warmer days!
On a sadder note, this past Tuesday, two of my all-time favorite women passed away, my great-aunt Mary (basically one of my grandmas) and my great-aunt Nell. I’m so glad Zack and the girls got so much time with Aunt Mary during their lifetime and Zack was able to spend time with Aunt Nell (before we had kids).
I talked a bit about January and its business in the last post but I thought I’d put the few photos I took into a post, for memory’s sake.
Probably the last photo of someone on the bench. This was taken on a Sunday before church.
One of Rae’s Christmas presents from Daddy! Her favorite gift, for sure. Mando is safely tucked inside, ready to save the day.
Mae has been drawing roses and animals non-stop! She has drawn one or two large roses, but for the most part she keeps to teeny tiny roses. They’re the sweetest.
She is also still very into drawing characters from the Mandalorian show.
We read Dr. Doolittle as our first read aloud of the semester, and found out the movie was coming out just as we finished it. Totally by coincidence, but we just had to take them to see it! Thankfully the movie left the racist parts out. The book hit a rough patch somewhere around the middle. We tried to find the 1960s version, but couldn’t. It followed the book more, but the girls loved hearing familiar animal names and they discussed the differences and similarities all the way home from the theater.
We ended the month camping at the new house, but I will put a few photos from that in a separate post.
One day left in January and I am just now getting around to documenting December. I nearly let it go to the wayside but I know I would regret that.
December was a bit of a weird month. School was more random than I care for. Zack has been using my car, so we were (still are) stuck at home all the time. Time drug on and on. Our house was a disaster (still is) from remodeling and we had to put up and take down our decorations a few times. The holiday season was not as sparkly as it usually is. We also bought the girls gifts for the first time since we had no time to fulfill an ‘experiences.’ We did manage to slide our family gift in – which was to see Star Wars in the theater (for the fifth year in a row!).
We had a few run-ins with some snow, but nothing truly great yet, and none on Christmas day. It was, I believe, just enough for the likes of my girls.
The cats are inside nearly full time for the season! They are dog-level needy, but the girls are enjoying George snuggles daily.
We got the keys to the new house December 23rd!
We spent every available moment at the house over Zack’s winter break..and nearly every weekend in January. December had decent, usually warm weather (check out those tee shirts!) so the girls were able to spend their time in the new yard which comes with a treehouse and playground equipment – and space upon space to run!
Two days before Christmas, Grandma realized she was too busy to come to our house (two hours away), so we took our decorations down for the last time, loaded our things into the car, and we to her house two days early.
We also spent time getting Grandma’s house ready to sell.
She had just moved into this when Zack and I began dating, fifteen years ago!
My brother, Ben, and his family came for a visit (the initial reason we drove up to my mother-in-law’s). I have no photos of Ben or his wife or their son Carson, but plenty of the girls with Susie!
My parents were able to spend time with seven of their nine grand-kids!
We walked around parks and Downtown Saint Charles, played many games, and just over all enjoyed being together for about a week.
Before heading back to our little corner of the world, we took the girls and my mom to Ikea, just ’cause we like it.
The girls are still so good at pretending. I often let them act out a situation in each room display. They could spend hours in there. We even ate lunch there that day. Zack and I really like the 1970s thing they’ve got going on. All my favorite colors and styles done right and all in one place. Yes, please.
I don’t typically wish days away, but I was glad to see December go. There was so much to be overwhelmed by. January hasn’t been much different honestly (so much to do at home!!), but at least it flew right on by!
I think I took about three photos in January, so it will be interesting to find out what I recall mentally from the whirlwind of driving, fixing, packing, driving, teaching, cooking, driving, and the constant ‘doing.’ We have experienced seven years of living in a home as we remodel it, but somehow we haven’t felt the chaos of it until now.
BUT! The kitchen is clean and that is something…happy February!
OCTOBER! The month of birth and of my firstborn. The month fall shows up and we bring out all the warm clothes and hearty food. Most of the bugs are already hibernating and the birds fill our porch to fill up on seed. It begins the final and most holiday filled months of the year. I love this time of year!!
The hens have begun to molt which means fewer eggs for us (which is fine!!) Rae had been requesting boiled eggs and as a way of marking them, she has been doodling on them. Although, if the eggs are in the fridge, they’re boiled, so they don’t really need to be marked, but doodles make it fun.
We spent the morning of the first chilly day at the park. We brought breakfast as well as tea in a thermos, Rae’s pumpkin (’cause, autumn), a vase of flowers, and candles. We read Jill Barklem‘s Autumn Story (Brambly Hedge) and a chapter from Elska (Horse Diaries series). Afterward, they explored, collected nature and marched around and around the large firepit.
Mae turned NINE this month!
For her ‘birthday experience’ she chose to get her ears pierced. We celebrated on the last weekend of September since we would be in the city (near a Claires). She chose ‘diamond’ studs to match the earrings she always picks out for me to wear so that we could match. I mean.Could she be any sweeter?????
The girls each carved a pumpkin early on in the month. We listened to the old radio drama version of Frankenstein while they did so. We also thought of ideas for Mae’s actual 9th birthday – Family video game time, no formal school, bake something, etc.
On Mae’s actual birthday, she requested pumpkin cinnamon rolls for breakfast and a bonfire with s’mores before bed. The moon was so bright; when they were done the girls ran around the yard in the moonlight dancing around the shadows of tree limbs.
She ended up with marshmallow in her hair. She just asked that I cut it out – which took out quite a large chunk of hair. She was so happy to hear that she may need a full hair cut that we chopped it off right then and there. She is thrilled with it and hasn’t had a single tangle since.
Rae is still delivering one hundred drawings to me daily. She always writes some version of, “Mom, I love you,” on each one.
This is definitely one of my faves. The ghost on a string, I have shopping bags for some reason, the heart knee patches and the intricate zipper, that sweet striped shirt with sleeves that are juuust a bit too short (cold wrists foreverrrr), that cool bob I wish I could pull off, that thick swipe of eyeliner, and that freckled smiley next to my face. Mmmmboy.
The hens have become mega chill now that it is cold outside. I still don’t trust Miss Maybe around them so they are stuck in their coop always, but we managed to coax her inside so Mae could hold a lady for a bit. Anyone remember our old flock following her around the yard like a mama hen? I miss that.
As well as a side bit about our Viking lessons here.
The girls cooked and baked and cooked and baked. (My favorite was the Barmbrack they made for my birthday!) The colder weather certainly makes us enjoy so much daily time in the kitchen – except for the cleanup part. Although, Mae did flash a smile up there while putting away clean dishes. Maybe the entire process is wonderful?? Must be.
My aunt sent me a text of an incredible cake she thought my girls and I would dig. Boy, did they!
They, of course, wanted to make their own and quickly chose a turtle. I kept all of the icing-less scraps for myself. I think we will try something with coconut fur next!
Zack was away for two weekends with friends and had friends over one evening and a few drop by on other evenings. That man needs as many brakes with friends as he can get to balance out his constant jobs and side jobs and home renovations.
We sure missed him while he was canoeing, camping, and hiking with friends. I tried to make it extra fun for the girls while he was gone. We almost had a movie night and some sort of fun meal – in the photo above, we grabbed Chinese food and they were so excited to go into the restaurant since they had never seen the inside. It doesn’t take much to make them happy!
I turned 32 this month!
We don’t typically give each other gifts, but Zack got me every episode of my favorite show! I’ve been waiting for years to get it. Rae drew this for me one day (always drawing!!) and I adore it. I have every episode memorized but I still chuckle constantly.
Back when we could go a day without rain, the girls enjoyed raking leaves. Not to jump in, they just like raking. They laughed and laughed so much. I am so thankful they are friends.
Miss Maybe got some extra love and plenty of scraps this month. She also spent more and more time outside exploring that usual. Getting into trouble, no doubt.
Fridays are a bit more lax for us. On this particular day, we headed up to the library after our morning time and thought it was so incredibly pretty in town that we must stay a bit longer.
We grabbed some warm beverages and donuts from a gas station, found a spot back by the library to park, and walked.
We walked until we came to the gazeebo by the tracks so they could enjoy their treat and wouldn’t you know, a train drove by just for them.
We took the long way back to the car. We named our favorite houses and admired everyone’s decorations, tried not to trip on the sidewalks/tried to catch those who did trip, and talked about anything and everything.
The girls are still trying to enjoy that pioneer life as best they can.
Have you read Ox-Cart Man? That would be Mae’s ideal life. Rae likes dressing the part and the cooking. In the photo above, they were enjoying some tea (water) and reading some pioneer type books.
Mae is very into Halloween. She enjoys thinking up a costume, wearing said costume out of doors, collecting candy, being in and walking around town, carving pumpkins, observing everyone’s decorations, the fall trees being in full color, any and all fun food that comes with the holiday…she likes it all.
We didn’t really celebrate Halloween when I was a kid. The last Halloween I remember I was possibly five-years-old? I was a black cat. I can’t imagine my parents ever celebrating it as kids. So once I had a child who was so enthusiastic about it, I decided to run with it and figure it out as we go.
This year, we decided to carve an extra round of pumpkins on Halloween. They also danced to fun Halloween music (they really like Thriller this year), watched Hotel Transylvania and the making of the Thriller video, and read books we grabbed ahead of time from the library. I gave them the day to themselves – no school, no chores.
Our first stop this year was to our wonderful neighbors! We usually make them our last stop, but it was SO cold this year, we went there first before the sun began to go down. They are always happy to see the girls and they give them the best goodie bag of treats -like popcorn and hot chocolate, pencils, and a couple of pieces of candy.
Zack was able to go trick-or-treating with us for the first time in years! It was so nice to have a buddy and for him to see them, old enough to walk to the door without us and hear their joy about it all as we walked.
We went to more homes this year – possibly because I had a buddy who could warm me up. Everyone was genuinely happy to see the kids come up and get candy. It was so nice to see.
Their costumes were perfect since they could bundle up as much as they needed to and it wouldn’t mess up their ‘look.’
Their pumpkins greeted us when we came home!
Once we were home they sat down and began to sort their candy and immediately began discussing their costume ideas for next year while I made a late supper.
Today we are taking down the Halloween decorations, giving the house a once over with the broom, and starting a new book!