LATELY : : SEPTEMBER 2018

September flew by!

I’m very glad I decided to post more frequently throughout the month, as I used to. It feels strange to have such a short monthly round-up post!

^ My buddy on dance nights ^

Wrote a post about dance and gymnastics back here.

There haven’t been enough cold days for me to get into the spirit of autumn, but boy am I tryin’! We’ve got a few good steady playlists for fall playing on the regular, “Hobbit cookies” (above) and other such treats are making the rounds and we’ve gone simple with the decorations so far with just some candles, two pumpkins the girls bought for themselves (we’ll use them for our first from-scratch pie), and some dried oranges to hang by the kitchen window. In October, we’ll go full force with the decorating…if it has become permanently cold by then. Please oh please oh please.

Where we have been successful with the fall mindset is with our movie watching! Fall is our favorite season for movies – followed closely by Christmastime – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Our annual favorite is Fly Away Home. This year added Rudy to our line-up – Zack and I hadn’t seen it since we were kids – we ate this ham and bean soup with homemade bread for the occasion. Oh boy. So good. Some other favorites are You’ve Got Mail, Wallace and Gromit and the Warerabbit, E.T., Harry Potter series, and The Hobbit trilogy – which pairs nicely with those “Hobbit cookies” and more soup.

I had poison ivy and a cold for the first half of the month. I finally caved after a week and a half of torture and went to the doctor for some good stuff (for the poison ivy). The girls were such troopers. I’m not surprised, just happy about it.

Katie has officially grown on us. By that I mean, we have officially grown on her.

She particularly adores G. She actually curled up on his lap and purred loudly as she fell asleep. I didn’t think she was that type of cat!

We only took one trip to the river in September. It was the perfect night for it!

^ Mae’s Black Panther.

We went to the St. Louis Scottish Games.

After more than a month, we finally made it over to our neighbor’s house! It’s weird to go so long without a visit. She has brought us vegetables and other goodies over to us, but taking time to sit and chat about life with them is so nice! All of the kids adore her and she, them. What a blessing good neighbors can be.

There is also our school round-up, here. Our month with the boys, here.

 

LATELY : : AUGUST 2018

August was filled with several heart-breaks, finished projects, and new responsibilities for the upcoming fall semester.

The heart-breaks came in the form of unexpected deaths. One of an old friend, one was a student of Zack’s, and one was our sweet boy, Buckey. I began writing this post at the beginning of the month, stretching it further as things happened. I decided to leave my simple insignificant thoughts about Buck as they were. It’s still so weird that he is not around.

All that being said – this post is a weird one for me. The beginning of the month is very different from the ending.

Zack began the month with meetings and a sense of comfort blended with the unknown that comes with a new year and new students and now has an entire month of school out of the way.

The girls and I started the month by helping Zack unpack the fresh art supplies for him and the other art teacher. That always feels good and gets him eager to start teaching again. I noticed him swooning over the painting and paper supplies Terrill received. He sure is going to miss teaching drawing and painting this year.

*Also! This is his seventh year teaching!

Bucky Boy. He takes up the entire couch but still thinks he’s a lap dog…

See. Insignificant thought now very significant.

Our neighbors gave us blackberry bushes two years ago and they are finally bearing substantial fruit! Sure, the birds get most of it, but that’s okay because we enjoy having birds in abundance.

We took many a trip to the hardware store for paint and wood and wood and paint. We have finally painted the majority of the walls! …in the front of the house. Honestly, I barely noticed the drywall, but I really enjoy how bright the front of the house is now.

We attended the memorial for our friend, Sarah, who passed away. I left my phone in the car but managed to snap this photo just as we were getting out. I just wanted something to reference that night. As sad as it was, it was such a good night full of long-overdue reunions.

As I mentioned, our boy, Buckey died. I found him as I went to take him ‘potty’ and thought he was sleeping. Thankfully he didn’t get hit by a car. That is the typical fate for a dog around here. Zack and Rae dug his grave by Mae’s favorite reading tree and we buried him with his favorite things. He was a year and two months old.

G got himself a fresh baby brother, A, over the summer. Their mom went back to work with Zack, so we started watching our favorite little fellas again!

I wrote a post for them back here. Also – they are my cousins. That’s very confusing for many people. While I claim them to the dowting cashier at the grocery store, I did not birth, foster, or adopt these kiddos. I just hang out with them when public school is in session.

She has been the number one helper with the hens this month!

I added a post about our schooling this month, here. I accidentally left out this gem of a photo. It’s always exciting to finish an assignment! No victory too small in this house!

Mae wrote that “Pen” and shouted, “Look, Mom! It’s in computer mode!” Clever girl.

^ Those feet!!! ^ (and Buckey!)

The girls each grew twelve feet this summer. I’m so grateful they are healthy and growing like weeds but it’s so gradual that when I finally get around to observing a change, it’s always such a shock. I’m sure that is the case only when they are your own children, so, let’s move on-

As the warm weather is going farther away, the cats are hanging around the house more and being extra snuggly. Bailey fell asleep like that…right on her neck. She lied there until the cat’s nap was over. One of her happiest moments, I’m sure.

Rae drew a lot. It’s not unusual for her to draw, she just drew / colored every spare moment she had this month. E V E R Y spare moment. Most of her drawings were portraits of me. Her absolute favorite person. (I’m writing the story – I can tell it any way I want)

The girls had a regular dentist check-up. So far so good! I can’t help but hold my breath in the assumption that one of them is going to inherit my garbage teeth. I really hope they don’t.

One of our favorite cousins, KaLyn, married her best friend! (She is G and A’s aunt.) It was such a great evening. Their vows – written in secret – synced up perfectly, his seemed to be a response to hers. and they danced to Flight of the Conchords. Perfect.

Zack and I also learned, “Real men place their left hand atop their right.” 

Look how manly they appear. Scores more manly than the did moments before with their arms dangling about willy-nilly.

Thanks, Logan.

At about 10:30 that night, Mae fell on the dance floor (the ground) and busted her nose. She’s fine and got snuggles and selfies in abundance back at Grandma’s house until about midnight.

The girls have really enjoyed getting back into the habit of slow evenings filled with their “handicrafts.” So far their favorite ways to spend time doing things while listening to a book or unintrusive music has been practicing their stitches and building with Legos. It’s so so nice.

I thought once school started back up, the girls would get less time with their friends, but so far, that’s not the case!

Mae even had her first sleepover without her sister. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. In the end, Rae really seemed to need time with just Daddy and I. Just one night though. She missed Mae somethin’ fierce.

We took a couple trips into the city this month…they were all trips to Ikea – shocker – but this time we actually bought things. Ha. We picked out new furniture. We didn’t have enough seating for all four of us to sit down at the same time. (The smaller couch is now back in the girls’ room.)

Our friends, Daniel and Heather, had their fourth baby this month. He has had some issues. We took a short trip up to visit him (and Heather) in St. Louis. I didn’t take a photo of their sweet boy, Joshua, but I took a few within the hospital’s rooftop garden…and of Mae being adorable on the way home. That kaleidoscope was so cool. the wind blowing the leaves made it exceptional.

The girls started gymnastics! They also seem to favor the same two leotards…cuties.

As Zack was finally mowing the lawn the other day – the first time since June! – I snuck the girls away and explored the river down the road. The water was warm, yet the air felt like fall. We had the place to ourselves (another mom showed up with her daughter and they swam, just as we were leaving). We saw one crawdad and one minnow. No tadpoles, but plenty of rocks and leaves!

Once the mosquitoes get gone, we’ll be back. Zack and I prefer the river in the fall (Him on account of the sun, me on account of the mosquitoes). Maybe he’ll be able to join us next time.

AND – I know I shouldn’t rush the seasons, I should enjoy the moment. But. Rae is still getting ticks, our air conditioning went out over a month ago, and we’ve had just enough cool and rainy days this month to get me in the mood for fall. I’m over you, summer. Please be colder, September!

LATELY : : JULY 2018

July has been a weird one. I feel as though we crammed three months worth of living into one. Thankfully it was all good. Not as many little moments to look back on but plenty of big, hearty chunks of time.

The first three days were spent cleaning and packing for our trip to the beach. Once all of that was complete, we drove up to St. Louis to wait for our journey to begin.

We spent the fourth watching a few fireworks. We don’t really celebrate the fourth in any way, so it was nice to at least make some sort of note of the holiday.

On the sixth, we began our trip to Florida!

We made a stop in Montgomery to spend the night, visit my younger brother, and meet his girlfriend – who is the sweetest lady  –  and her awesome kiddos.

The following morning, we made a short stop in Dothan to say hello to friends.

We drove down back roads to the coast. The drive was so pretty. We had rain on the way there and thankfully no rain while we were actually at the beach!

Between stopping for lunch, the car accidents we passed by, and the six storms we encountered, the drive to St. Louis took an extra five hours. Ha! It was still, somehow, a fun time for all of us.

Buckey spent the fourth to the fifteenth at my mom’s house. That’s a lot of spoilin’!

The moment we got home, I left to be a camp counselor. Such a fun week!

We ran some errands in St. Louis when I got back and made some detours to kayak shop. We didn’t get one, but the girls had fun testing out every display. We’re ready for some fall camping!

Finally made it out onto the river! Our first time this year! Can you believe it? Hopefully, we’ll get many chances to float this fall.

Sadie came down to stay with us for a few days. The girls had movie nights, fashion shows, chased cats and held the hens. Before we took her home, we took them for an afternoon in the city.

I attend a monthly book club with Zack’s cousins and my sister-in-law. It’s so nice to talk to other women, even if its only for an hour a month. I’ll take what I can get!

Zack and I also squeezed in time to see Mission Impossible – Fallout and eat at a restaurant sans kids.

A while back I promised Mae we’d take her to a global foods market to try and find a “green coconut.” We haven’t been there in a couple years, so it was time to follow through, and wouldn’t you know, we found one! We also scored on food from Japan, France, Ireland, Russia, Brasil, and Holland. Most of it was stuff we already know we enjoy. Next time we’ll branch out more.

We start our school year tomorrow and I am so so excited!! Zack still has one more week before he goes back to work. I’m sure it’ll be a busy one!

LATELY : : JUNE 2018

The bits I’ve chosen to leave out of this post, involve children playing within every inch of our land and home. Their imaginations were allowed to stretch and their sisterly bond grew even stronger. While at home, our lives have been intentionally quiet. Plenty of caring for animals, tending to the yard, and household chores which never seem to end.

All of that being said, it was such a great month. Very much an ideal first month of summer.

The first weekend in June was spent at my mother-in-law’s awaiting Zack’s return home. My niece was there for the first couple days. The girls couldn’t have been happier. We skipped a trip into St. Louis since it was unbearably hot and settled for walking around the mall.

We went and saw an amazing production of The Little Mermaid at a local school (by mostly homeschooled kids) – Zack has known the family of this girl in the last photo his entire life (Her grandpa made our porch swing). They’re such a talented, joyful family!

And boy, the hand holding amongst cousins just really sealed all that fun together! Never gets old.

Well, that Sunday morning Zack woke me up at 5:00. He surprised me an entire day early! Sneaky little buggar.

He began summer school the following day and really enjoyed the entire four weeks of it.

We got back into the going-for-a-drive game. We’ve got the best roads for a Sunday drive. It’s always nicer when Zack gets to go with us.

Mae helped with our VBS duties, by way of modeling, and modeled some lighting for me when I happened to have my DSLR out.

That is also the only photo I have of our week of VBS. Good gracious was that a full week! My favorite VBS to date!

Zack and I took the girls to see Solo for our 11th anniversary and then took them to see the Incredibles 2. (They didn’t wear the same outfit for both movies. Ha!)

Buck turned ONE! Here is a little flashback to when he joined our family:

Little puppers.

Rae had a few appointments regarding her broken arm and ended up getting her hard cast off two weeks early. It wasn’t fully healed, but nearly there. She will, in the end, spend up to an extra two weeks to a month in a splint and sling.

Uncle Seth signed your armpit.

She sure is going to miss this little gem of a signature.

We got ‘fancy’ sourdough rolls and Snapples (“Pop-tops”) to celebrate.

To top off such a monumental first day of summer – Rae also lost her first tooth! Her second loose tooth showed up the next day. These girls of mine don’t waste any time chucking their baby teeth.

The girls and I took Buckey and spent a couple days with my parents.

Then, my mom spent two days with the girls and I.

Zack sent a text from work – “Send me a picture of the girls, I miss them.”

The second photo, well, Rae’s pointed foot and proper hand pose sent my mind way back to her three-year-old self.

Mae started swimming lessons. That is her favorite part about June!

After Rae began, once again, livin’ life cast-free, she was able to join in and float around the shallow end. When Bravery Rae Rogers wasn’t bobbing about, she practiced dunking various portions of her face beneath the surface.

The girls have put their mitts on so many toads this month, but this one (above, can you see it?) they saved from being chopped into bits by the mower. I made sure it was off and waved them over. I had, at that point, already run over at least five. Mae fixed up this luxury hotel for it. It enjoyed the pool, the sandy beach, and the shade of the tree several times over in the three hours or so that it spent there.

George is still less-than-fond of Katie. But still very fond of me. My boy.

AND, check out those sweatpants ’round my ankles! One Friday I mowed the lawn in sweatpants and a sweatshirt! We had a week or two of autumn weather and thunderstorms. That beautiful relief was swiftly followed by blazing heat and humidity we could barely breathe in. But everyone was happy to have somewhat of a break from summer heat…except Mae, who really wanted to swim all day every day.

We even managed to finally spend an evening with friends! Good food, several rounds of Shulbach, and two full episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. It was pretty terrific.

School for Mae has been, basically, a ton of reading following a pre-breakfast Bible lesson. Every once in a while – usually in the car – the girls would write in their workbooks, which is something they also enjoy, but that has been their decision.

Occasionally we would listen to an audiobook. I highly recommend The Wild Robot for all elementary ages. We loved it! For nearly the entire book, the girls played with legos, drew pictures, or crocheted.

We listened to another audiobook, but we didn’t like it. So much so, we barely finished two chapters and I can’t even recall the title of it. But, that is literally the only book – ever! – my girls didn’t care to sit through.

Next on our list for audio books are A Wrinkle in Time and Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle. As for books read with Momma’s voice, next month we are reading On the Banks of Plum Creek, The biography of David Livingstone (I’ve already read this and it’s incredible!), Twice Freed, and Whatever After – Sink or Swim. I’m sure we’ll squeeze a horse book in there somewhere, too.

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!