LATELY : ADJUSTING

This past month has been weird for us for many reasons – none of which involve the Coronavirus.

The girls and I officially moved up to the new house a month ago, just about the time this virus business became serious here. In that month a lot has happened within our little family group.

Shari (Zack’s mom) sold her house in under two hours of being on the market and was moved into the new place with us, and two weeks later her parents moved in!

The following Monday Zack went to work as usual but was told they would be doing online schooling for the next three weeks (really two, since spring break fell on one of those) – so, he is here at the new house as well!

Miss Mae is looking so very old. In my mind nine was much younger than she is seeming to me right now. I hope my heart can handle ten when it arrives!

The warm nights here (few and far between) are magical. Warm breezes, clear, bright skies, and choruses of frogs.

The girls have so many areas to hang at this house and it makes me so incredibly grateful for this situation we have found ourselves in.

^ From when travel was acceptable. Sibling love in the form of ice scraper back scratches.

Sunset on the first evening of spring was so so good!! Check out those tee shirts!

…and then it snowed…

We have been enjoying many trips to one of our favorite parks for walks in the fresh air on the rare occasion it isn’t raining (or snowing).

Miss Maybe. Oh boy. I am not sure she is too thrilled with the new move. So many rules and sighs from Mama. But she still totally loves me and follows me everywhere in the hopes she will receive some love (which she also receives). In a few months, we will have a fence for her and I will calm right on down. Hopefully.

The saddest news I have to tell is that our sweet Bailey girl died at the beginning of March. We are not sure of the cause.

This is the last photo we have of her. I am glad it is of her playing with the girls. She was my favorite animal kid – the sweetest, calmest, most ‘I care about you’ cat (where as most cats tend to give off ‘you can be replaced’ vibes). It is weird not having her around.

Her brother, George, certainly seems to notice her absence. He is our sole cat now. George and Maybe are plenty for this crowded home, but Bailey would have loved it here.

Zack is working from home for the time being. He is the only one here (in our home) who’s life and routine have changed on account of the virus. We just recently got internet set up at the new place, so he traveled to where the free WiFi was available for a few nights.

If things don’t go back to business as usual for him, I think he will do just fine. This being his last year at that school, though, well it would be a bummer if he couldn’t spend his last month with the kids face to face.

As for the girls’ schooling and life in general, things are business as usual – only the setting has changed. My next post will be about the schooling bits from this month.

SCHOOL FAVORITES

This semester, along with working through multiplication and division, Mae will be running her own bookstore! …on paper…

She is so good at it!

I thought the ‘mark-up percentages’ and taxes would be too much, but she began doing problems like $6.80 marked up 150% in her head! She is learning how to write a check, which may be irrelevant by the time she is old enough to use such things, but I am glad it is included. She pays bills each month out of her monthly ‘allowance’ as well as choose which books and how many of each to order before taking the orders she receives for the month. (It also includes a cheat book for parents, just in case)

We have gone from our once a week schedule of working our way through, to twice a week. She loves it that much. The curriculum lets her run a bookstore for 12 months (or quicker if she wants but it is set up for January through December)

The program is Your Business Math. Rae says when the time comes (it is recommended for 3rd-6th graders) she wants to run a pet shop. I wouldn’t have figured her as someone who would want anything to do with it, but she is. What do I know…

Mae’s Eurasian Bittern
Rae’s European White Stork

The girls have really been doing well on their nature drawings. Rae has been making all of her animals Mexican (traditional, sombrero-wearing Mexicans- like in Coco), and it is adorable. Her stork is also wearing a vest and holding maracas.

The birds were from a lesson on estuaries and the hippo is from a poem Rae did as her daily copy work. We also skipped our ‘no meat’ schtick and ate salmon like Grizzly bears to go along with our estuary study. Raw salmon Nigiri is our favorite way to eat it – Mae says the bears would like it too.

Lastly, Mae picked out a wooden crossbow to build at the store. I had plans to help her, but Zack saw it and got really excited at the thought of building it with her. It was mostly Zack doing the work (some parts took patience and a little strength), but she joined in a bit and watched the process…and has really enjoyed shooting the pegs across the room!

I may do an official February school related post, but lately, I haven’t stopped to grab the camera, so who knows. I hope I do. I always like to look back on things they have (We have) done.

LATELY : JANUARY 2020

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.

A cow lady from a cartoon they saw at Grandma’s house.
“Just a Dog” by Rae.

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.

Katie Cat.
Ready to go to the theater!

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.

Hope everyone is enjoying February so far!

LATELY : DECEMBER 2019

Heading to Grandma’s for Christmas.

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!).

The last two weeks of December really filled up with plenty of visiting and pretty exciting things!

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.

That tree is the only decoration we had to the Big Day.
They each got ten gifts from Grandma.
Baking cookies alongside Home Alone.
Holly decided to skip the cookie making and settled down in her new jammies with a good book and a warm drink.
Cutest spacklers you ever did see.

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!

BIG NEWS

WE’RE MOVING!

…in May…

Zack, the girls, and I will be living in a big house with his grandparents and his momma!

We already have the house and have been spending eighty percent of our time helping his mom and grandparents getting their homes/things in order. They will be moving in first and get settled before our loud bunch shows up full time. (The girls, the dog, and I may actually join them earlier than May, to continue to help them out…so maybe they won’t get much quiet time, haha.)

This has been a couple of years in the making (on mine and Zack’s side of things), but once everyone really decided to go for it, things moved real quick! We closed on the new house on December 23rd and it is PERFECT for all of us.

This may very well be mine and Zack’s forever house (I never liked that term, but it is very likely to be the most appropriate.)

We are ten to fifteen minutes from our favorite people. The same people we have traveled to nearly every other weekend for years to visit!

We still have a busy few months ahead of us before everyone is settled in completely, but we sure are excited!!!

SCHOOL: NOVEMBER 2019

Cheering her spelling words.

November was not as full as I had hoped it would be. I barely had a voice for about two weeks, so I had to get creative when I was feeling up to teaching anything a bit formal. Thankfully, during those two weeks, the weather was decent so the girls could get out of the house and didn’t develop the dreaded cabin fever this early in the season.

Science this month involved animals. It meant I didn’t have to talk, just prepare lessons and let David Attenborough fill in the gaps. Ha. Mae took it upon herself to investigate more by digging through books we own and *approved* Youtube videos.

We only made it through one, shorter group read aloud this month. (I had three chapter books set aside) But it was a great one!

We also read The Quiet Little Woman: a Christmas Story, by Louisa May Alcott in one sitting. It too was delightful!

Mad Mattr seemed to be the activity of choice during group read-aloud time.

The girls had lots of copy work, which has not been as big of a priority this semester. So much writing! Rae was not thrilled and will surely be bummed to find out I liked the results and plan on bringing it back full force.

We also played more games in a single month than we ever have.

Their favorites right now are Settlers of Catan, Five Crowns, 6 nimmt, The Game, Bananagrams, Kings in the Corner, Dungeons & Dragons, Battleship, and Hangman. They also played checkers but that game frustrates both of them when they play each other.

Rae even made her own Candyland game! She made paper people go with it, but we used legos because it made it more fun (and that way she could be Lloyd). Her candy spots were peanuts, a lollipop, Twizzler, and an ice cream cone. The characters on the board were the four of us. I’m definitely framing it when we’ve worn it out.

Mae took to writing songs. Whether they amount to something or not, I thought it would be good practice for writing and identifying the notes.

Rae keeps to herself and never really needs help with anything no matter the subject. However, if I sit with her while she works, she becomes the biggest chatterbox and laughs at all her own jokes. It’s the best.

Mae wrote while Rae drew this one.

Throughout the year, we read up on and talk about native Americans. The girls and I are fascinated by them. In November, we have formal lessons about them in preparation for Thanksgiving. Because I couldn’t talk much, we are probably going to continue researching them into December, because I think of too many projects I want to they would like to work on and there is always more to say.

We read a few books from the library, but my favorites are some we own –

The People Shall Continue, North American Indians, and the most in-depth book -given to me by my brother, Joseph – Through Indian Eyes. The girls look through it often. It is an encyclopedia of sorts.

I have put our Kings, Queens, and Medieval era lessons on hold until next semester sometime.

Hopefully, most of you actually get to enjoy a long weekend. I’ll post the monthly round-up of loose ends on the 30th.

KID ART IS BEST ART 2

Art is constant in our house. That is probably no surprise to anyone. Zack and I took SIX art classes together in high school, and a few others apart from each other (and more in college). My older brother was constantly drawing growing up. Every year for his birthday he was sure to get fresh sketchbooks and drawing tools. Zack too was drawing most minutes of the day, even around every page of notes from high school and college (We have totes full of his notebooks and sketchbooks!) as well as every bulletin he’s received in various churches.

Rae is definitely falling in their footsteps. I have taken to buying her some of her very own sketchbooks which she quickly fills with sights and thoughts of her day. Her most drawn subject is me (much like high school Zack).

Below are drawings from both girls. While Mae doesn’t care for drawing (and Lord forbid I have her color something in), I will occasionally catch a glimpse of her jotting down a quick doodle. Like me, she prefers to draw animals and nature-related objects to stretching her imagination. She has an incredible imagination for telling stories and ‘inventing’ but sometimes drawing feels like a punishment. (For Rae, writing is a punishment, haha)

Rae’s image of Daddy laying new flooring, likely singing or readying a kiss.
Mom portraits! I have got dozens of them.
Rae’s Mat Man. “A man made of a mat.”
Quilting.
Rae drawing Mom, by Rae.

A few months ago, Rae began drawing her perspective and it blew my mind!

Me!

Green is my favorite color, and Rae makes sure to always dress me in it…

Fruit, by Rae

Rae’s Wizard of Oz characters.

Stickers are still very beloved, as is a good snow day.

Mae’s! Finally! A horse jumping on a trampoline under a sunflower sun.
Mae’s owls.
Rae’s, My Neighbor Totoro.
Rae’s, The Cat Returns.

Rae drew each and every Miyazaki/Ghibli movie she could think of! I only posted two, though…

Rae, by Rae, for Mom.
Rae’s
By Rae, Momma bird feeding baby birds, and two worms snug under a rock.
Girl and punk fella.
Rae’s self-portrait / portrait of a girl.
Daddy at age 31 and possibly younger Daddy?
Princess / girl waiting for a cooking timer. Both by Rae.

We do not own this kind of cooking timer and I don’t think we know anyone who does. That girl is so creative!

Rae’s portraits of Mae.

Mae still dreams of dancing again. It was so nice of her sister to see her as a dancer.

Rae’s portrait of Mom. -practicing face proportioning.

On this one, she wrote “To Mom” followed by my phone number, which she writes on just about everything she gives me.

Ninjago is her current obsession. Lloyd is her favorite. (She likes the movie, not the show.)
BMO. The cutest character from Adventure Time.
Dad, painting the ceiling, by Rae
Finn and Jake, the main characters from Adventure Time.
Daddy, bird watching through a camera lens, “not binoculars.”
A school day spent at the table. Mae talks a lot more than Rae, haha. By Rae.

YOU CAN FIND MORE KID ART HERE.

RAE’S BIRTHDAY

Papa, DeeDee, and little DeeDee.

RAE TURNED SEVEN!

Three grandparents were able to visit on her birthday (Saturday birthdays are the best!), so we threw her a tiny on the fly party.

We served tomato soup with bread and chocolate cake!

Her grandparents all brought many gifts, and from Zack and I, she decided (after changing her mind three times) she wanted to go and see Frozen 2 in the theater, so she has three more days to wait. She is so excited!

Her first request was to take Grandma Penny and Grandma Shari out to eat at Taco Bell – where she would order a rice bowl. That’s all she wanted!! These girls smother us in so much cuteness.

We played game after game, and I do believe she got a proper amount of spoiling from everyone.

She shared her Lego buds with Papa.
So many great gifts!
Trying not to smile while we sang Happy Birthday.
Cutting her own cake. Seven!
Making Mae’s Christmas list.
Playing a game on Grandma’s phone.

She still occasionally comes up to me and reminds me that she is now seven years old. Haha.