LATELY: : NOVEMBER 2018

Normally November seems like a long month to me, but this year it flew by. I need to go back and see how many months I’ve said that this year…maybe it’s just what getting older feels like.

We stayed very busy – only stopping to slow down when forced,  like on snow days and the holiday weekend.

Busy or not, this month was wonderful!

We began the month celebrating our girls turning six and eight!

Rae turned six this month – there’s a post back here and Mae’s post back here.

We spent plenty of time at doctor appointments, for therapy and regular check-ups. So glad that mad-rush is over!

We had several days of snow – and three snow days / no school for Zack. It was pretty friggin fantastic.

Lady beat me at many a game over the month of November.

Rae wore some fantastic costumes this month. That Santa makes us laugh every time she sneaks up on us wearing it.

We watched It’s a Wonderful Life no less than five times.

Mae’s letter to Santa, a.k.a. “S”

(Notice the P.S.)

Have you seen the Pixar film, Inside Out? Well, Rae made the girl that serves them broccoli pizza out of model magic clay while we worked on their Japan project.

The eight weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (Ha! ..but, I’m not exaggerating…) had been so hectic and we had barely been all together in one place just being. So, we decided to stay home for Thanksgiving this year – and it was perfect.

The girls fill out a thankful journal most mornings as part of our school routine. We read through the entries from this semester as soon as we woke up to get us in a thankful mindset.

For lunch, we had a large meal – which lasted us a week in leftovers. We played all of the Hobbit / LOTR films and watched them as we went about our business, occasionally stopping to snuggle on the couch and watch our favorite scenes.

We also played games, read books, and the girls played outside.

Friday evening (The day after Thanksgiving) our friends, Dennis and Heather came over for supper and games (We saw the new Fantastic Beasts with them the weekend before!). They’re so great!!

The following day, my parents came for a visit. I wrote about our walk with them here.

“Hey, Mom.”

I just put a post up about the boys this month, two days ago, but ya know I can’t help myself. So here are some more photos of them. ‘Cause I like em.

We’ve got big plans to visit one of my all-time favorite people, Ruhi, over Christmas break (I haven’t seen her in fifteen years!) and we will spend Christmas day with the famous, Aunt Sarah!

Before all of that, we’re having our traditional Christmas slumber party weekend with Grandma Shari a week (and a half?) early, so that we don’t miss out on that great time with her.

I don’t like to rush Christmas, but this year, I can’t help but be a little impatient.

But tonight we’re ending the month with homemade sushi. I’m interested to see the result of this experiment…

Happy December, ya’ll.

PARENTS IN THE PARK

My parents came to visit the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We spent most of the day outside in some way, beginning with a walk at our favorite park.

The girls played Pooh Sticks, tried their confidence on the jungle-gym, and Zack even managed to sneak a not-selfie of me.

See! ^ That’s me. Worth the wait, wasn’t it? You’re welcome…

Thanks for visiting on the most perfect day, Mom and Dad. I’m sure you planned it that way. (As if you could plan anything around the weather here…)

SCHOOL IN NOVEMBER

This month’s schooling was more unstructured than usual due to snow days, travel, and an abundance of doctor appointments (everyone is fine!).

When we did “have school” (I need a better term for this.) we took our time. We read more, asked more questions, wrote more intentionally, and diligently finished up projects to make way for a fresh start in December.

The rest of this month will be spent just reading, practicing piano and dance / gymnastics biz – while I prep for December.

So, before I move on into the December mindset, let’s see what they’ve been up to. Or rather, what they did that I bothered to photograph. Ha.

This was the big kahuna – or big Koi. (Isn’t Rae’s Sumo wrestler the greatest?)

We’ve been using Little Passports for some guiding where geography / culture studies are concerned. This month they sent us JAPAN.

We have yet to have the girls make, or even just try, sushi. We do, however, have sushi fixin’s in the house, so we’ll get to that this week.

They learned some common phrases (No, they won’t recite for an audience other than Momma, sorry.), as well as how to count from one to ten. They discovered Sumo wrestling, bullet trains, and origami (or “origarmi” as they say. Thanks, BBC.).

They already knew plenty about Japan, so I really focused on things that they might not know. They ate with chopsticks even more than usual…as if Mae needed an excuse…

We also studied (again) the history of the nation, stopping just short of World War II – that will be its own study.

The girls made toilet paper roll Koi fish. Mae really got into this craft!

Zack joined in on the Model Magic portion of craft time. We love this stuff! We (it was all a group effort) made a sushi roll and a Mount Fuji, and they are adorable.

This month for school, we studied the Mayflower (and ships in general) and life of settlers, once again. We will study this every year, getting more in-depth as we go.

We read portions of The Story of the World, Vol. 3 as well as Our America, Grade 2 for our Thanksgiving lessons – using trusted history sites when needed.

For their biographies, they studied William Bradford and Squanto.

Our first assignment for the month was a paper on Katherine Ferguson (as their colonial era person to get away from middle-aged white males). She was incredible, you should look her up!

We spent one afternoon talking about surrealism and the girls drew their own silly animals.

Mae drew a horse bird (not a pegasus).

The girls also wrapped up the Holy Spirit portion of their Trinity project. It will not be like the Japan project but will involve simple paintings and plenty (plenty!) of discussion.

This has been so much fun for all of us.

I think “Son” will be next, as the Christmas season is nigh and we will conclude that study just after the Easter holiday.

*We, of course, continue our usual English lessons, but that just flows so smoothly into our routine. While it is still my favorite subject to teach, I may not continue to mention it. At least until Mae begins writing her own stories, ’cause it will be adorable and I’m totally going to want to share that goodness!

SNOW DAY!

It began snowing here last week while Mae was at dance class. The excitement for the damp, not too pretty snow was comical. As it snowed off and on throughout the weekend the excitement never dwindled. Jump on through to Monday and we woke to a full-blown snow day!!

Zack and the boys’ mom had to work on Monday (but students had off) and thankfully those in charge gave them a half day! The boys got picked up before lunch but G got to play with the girls out in the snow with the girls before he left.

Zack had time to chop some wood while the girls continued to play. We ended the afternoon with a couple of inches of snow and It’s a Wonderful Life – Zack’s favorite!

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS

Starting with the girls’ fifth birthdays we exchanged the idea of gifts for an “experience.” (We also do this for Christmas) They get to choose what they want to do – this year they chose to celebrate together with a fancy supper and a movie, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

While we don’t have parties anymore, Grandma Shari always likes to have a day with them. The celebrations began two days before Mae’s eighth birthday by way of a sleepover with Grandma!

The following day was filled with our tradition of a new outfit for each of them, a new American Girl (Our Generation Girls) from Grandma and lunch at the new pizza place in town.

(Mae renamed her doll, formerly Peggy, Penny. Rae renamed her’s, formerly Holiday Haven, Holly)

The girls each received a card filled with cash monies in the mail from their Grandma Penny!

With a bit of her money, Mae bought herself her first robot! Daddy helped build it. It’s powered by salt water and boy does that thing fly!

Mae received a phone call on her birthday from Grandpa. Rae got a call from Grandma Penny, who was treated to some caroling!

Rae bought Mae a genuine wooden boomerang and Mae bought Rae a Harry Potter and Hedwig Lego set.

(If we actually called our girls “Mae” and “Rae,” things would get confusing quick around here!!)

For the main event, we brought along Grandma Shari and our cousins – who we just cannot get enough of! All of them are quick to go along with whatever plans we think up and always have just as much fun as we do. It’s so nice to have that kind of friend (mother-in-law included!)

The Nutcracker was delightful! The dance number during the credits had us laughing so so hard! (Rae’s laugh was the best part of the day for me!) It wasn’t intended to be funny, so maybe it won’t be so funny the second time around? I hope it is…

The girls dressed their best – of course. Rae also brought along her American Girl doll but left her in the car. However, Holly was also dressed her best.

For the meal portion of the date, we went to the Fountain on Locust downtown. It is such a charming place! Everyone, aside from myself, got ice cream. I don’t like sweets, but man oh man their ice cream is the greatest. I ordered white chicken chili and it was equally as delicious (according to the non-sweet eater…). It came with homemade cornbread – the greatest cornbread I’ve ever had. I’m hoping we make it back there soon.

On Rae’s actual birthday, the girls baked a cake and cut out some circle slices for individual cakes. We set aside some un-frosted slices for G to enjoy. Mae made some shrinky-dink toppers as a surprise to Rae and by the time they were ready to eat them, they looked pretty good!

I am so thankful for the girls that made me a mom and another beautiful year with both of them!

DEAR RAE : : YEAR SIX

My sweet Rae,

I spent the better part of my afternoons this week reading past letters I’ve written to you. What joy you bring to our days. It’s been great to see which traits have stuck with you (your infectious head-thrown-back belly laugh) and which traits you’ve sadly grown out of (back pats).

I am in awe of the beautiful qualities that make you our Amelia.

Now! Let us see what your sixth trip around the sun entailed!

You are still shy yet very outspoken when the occasion calls for it.

You, like me, want to be completely surrounded by people who are leaving you well enough alone. Thanks for exempting me from such boundaries and allowing me to share your bubble for snuggles anytime I want.

I love the way you speak. My favorite “Raeism” has to be how you refer to today as, “This day.” and tomorrow as, “The next day after this day.”

Penelope is still your favorite human.

You love the idea of going to Daddy’s classroom but do not actually like being in Daddy’s classroom.

You are entering your seventh year with a consistent love of naps and you still fall asleep during most car rides. It’s the cutest.

You’ve finally caved and decided to move on from your coveted pixie cut and are now aiming for “Mommy’s hair.” I miss the pixie.

You drew me a picture, possibly, every day this past year. Often, several a day. You fold them up and put them in an envelope with a sticker across the seal, and place it / them on my pillow.

I may require that this tradition continues well into your adulthood.

I kid…

But, please, don’t grow out of this phase too fast okay?

You used to be fanatical about things, such as Star Wars and our beloved, Sarah and Duck. Nowadays, you like many things a decent amount – such as! – dinosaurs, comic books, dancing, painting (You would paint all day if I’d let you. Someday, I hope I let you.).

In your sixth year, I do believe your affection for accessories grew to new heights. Maybe it’s the new hair? You adore headbands, clips, braids, earrings (clip-ons), bracelets and of course, watches.

You lost three teeth this year! You were so worried well before you even felt the ‘tweensiest’ wiggle and by the time the third tooth was loose enough, you pulled it yourself. whatagirl.

Happiest of birthdays, Rae. We love you immensely.

LATELY : : OCTOBER 2018

October is my favorite month. It may have started because it is the month I was born, but as I have aged, the reason has shifted and I now I love it for all of the celebrations it holds and, now that I live up north where fall exists, I am allowed to feel cool air and view the changing leaves making October, officially my favorite.

This month it seemed to go by so fast I couldn’t soak it all in and enjoy all it had to offer. I know I will enjoy looking back on our days as I scroll through this blog in ten years or so, but right now I thoroughly appreciate that it is helping me notice just how full our days, months, and years are.

Every month goes by faster than the next and I am usually left feeling as though we didn’t accomplish anything of worth. Slowly building each post and finding I have more and more to add shows me a different story.

So, let’s get on with the final bit of this month’s story…

We began our month celebrating both of the girls’ birthdays with Zack’s mom  (Rae’s birthday is in November – We will celebrate even more!) – a post all about our many celebrations will be posted at some point in November.

Orange and red and yellow are creeping up here and there. Not cold full-time yet though, so we have yet to start up the fireplace or furnace. Please be cold, November…

Bailey has a new favorite nap spot. In the window box right smack dab in the path of the sun. My kind of lady.

Rae hiding in the bathroom to get away from G. ^ He loves her so much.

^ Those toes! ^

I wrote about our month with the boys back here.

We spent a day in the city as a family – which used to be a common occurrence but sadly isn’t anymore. Autumn is our favorite time and we’re trying to make the most of it. We went to the London Tea Room, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and Ikea – Three of our favorites!

We’ve got a new member of the family. She’s incredible.

Lady lost her third tooth! She wrote the tiniest note to the tooth fairy and set it on my pillow, not hers. She wanted to pretend the tooth fairy was real, but then nixed that idea when she realized she would only get a little bit of money versus a treat (her own pint of dairy-free ice cream). I still kept the note. I love it so much.

Side spiel : The girls decided they would like to pretend Santa is real for the second year in a row. We’ll see how that goes. Their letters to Santa seem to be in a hieroglyphic code which Momma may not be able to decipher…

So much time ( so. much. time. ) was spent in the car. This seems to be our new normal. It’s okay, though. I like our car and it has heat!

Mae started therapy for her feet (she’s fine), so we have spent a couple days a week at the doctor. We still have four or five weeks left to go. Thankfully the kids are all so patient while we wait for her!

For school this month we have been using the fly by the seat of our pants method.

We began a large-scale project on the food chain – producers & consumers. The girls have designed their own food web, complete with labels and a map key. (and not featured on the web – scavengers and decomposers)

We received our second Little Passports country. JAPAN!

Brazil and Japan are the first two?? Those are the countries my parents were born and raised in. It is a smidge creepy that those are the two the folks at Little Passports chose, but also great for us. We have pulled out quite a bit of the Japanese items we own to help us along in our research.

In the first week, they practiced origami, wrote their own haikus (and used fancy ink pens to do so), studied maps and books on their own time, and begun memorizing certain Japanese words and 1-10 (Mae already knew those). Oh, and of course eating Ramen (with ham and boiled eggs) with chopsticks…okay, eating everything with chopsticks…

We plan on making sushi – or at the very least, we will take them somewhere to try it – and watching all of Miyazaki’s movies for the hundredth time. As if we need an excuse.

Now, next month we may not know the country so well, but I think that may make it a bit more interesting (for me). We have studied several countries over the years, but Little Passports has a good way of helping us along and makes it interesting and helps us get creative.

Rae and her animals. Bailey has been really generous with her snuggles on the cold days. On the warm days, Rae hunts frogs.

I turned 31. This is all the proof I have of that day. Mae on day three of wearing that sweater, Rae holding a frog. Mae being a stinker, me paying her back with classic rib-tickles. I’m so glad I get to be their mom and hang out with them full time.

We visited with a turtle for a bit.

A love of tire swings bloomed in Miss Mae. I still don’t trust our trees enough to put one up in our own yard…

More cute notes. The one on the left I received at 10 P.M. one night from a girl who couldn’t sleep. The other one, I found while cleaning out my Bible. (I put it back in my Bible.)

Cute girl being cute.

Here are some more photos of Mae in her favorite sweater – just in case you hadn’t seen enough of it yet…

Mae had costume day at Dance the week before Halloween and we followed it up with a Halloween party at our cousin, Anna’s house!

For their final performance, they went as a normal witch and an eagle (she couldn’t find part of her Dorothy costume.).

ATTACK!

…the second attack was not so well received… That is one proud eagle, though.

It was cold and rainy and just how Halloween should be. We went door to door with G and his family as well as up to the school. Zack had a booth at the school’s Trunk or Treat. The Art Club trunk was incredible (not surprised!). He’s brilliant.

NOW! on to more color, colder days by the fire, more birthday celebrations, and a long holiday weekend spent with our favorite man!

We’re ready for you, November!

 

 

GRANT’S FARM

For our October field trip, we went to Grant’s Farm. G’s mom went with us (and Zack, since teachers had a day off), as well as her sister and my friend, Ven! It was a full house.

The day was, for me, broken up quite a bit – with a doctor appointment for Mae at an early 7 A.M. followed by a two hour drive to the farm and some of our group getting there a bit later than us, some leaving early, and an unexpected lunch outside of the park – all on top of every school in the area being out for the day (busy roads and restaurants). It was quite a day. It was so nice to see everyone there together (even Zack!)

I loved the drizzly, cold weather and the German-style buildings!

The Clydesdales were gorgeous. A couple of them even let us pet them and give ’em a good scratching behind the ears.

They were studying at the map and looked like the cutest little tourists. A sight which quickly dissipated once they saw the camera. Still cute though.

Always collecting. We came home with quite the collection of wet (but colorful!) leaves.

I normally cringe at the thought of making my girls pose, but I couldn’t pass up this gigantic green door without a cheesy mannequin pose.

Thanks, everyone who tagged along and spent their day with us!!

Next month’s field trip will involve only Zack and the girls. They’re going to see a play and go out to lunch!

MAYBE

I’m a dog-mom again! Meet Miss Maybe.

…only about a year sooner than we planned, but she sure is sweet. She couldn’t stay with her previous family and Lord knows we’ve got the space (and love) to spare for people-less animals.

Zack and I are self-proclaimed cat people. The kind of cat people that will always own a dog and Maybe sure is a great dog to have around.

She seems to be a mix of our past three dogs – Maple, Rosie, and Buckey. While she is a pointer mix and not a hound or healer, she definitely looks like a Maple / Rosie mix. Her personality reminds me most of Buckey. She would’ve made such a great friend to him.

She likes to lie around. Usually, within the room I happen to be in (as Buckey would have done). She really wants to be outside all of the time. She whines to go out most of the day, so we are going to get a fence situation going on soon enough. For now, we will just take her into town for walks and tie her up for some lounging in the sun every now and again.

She is the most talkative dog we have ever had. She makes many different sounds. Whines, low barks, and yelps. She really wants us to know what she is thinking – as opposed to our other, much less talkative, dogs.

Most importantly, Maybe is so great with the kids! At first, she didn’t give any attention to the baby, ‘A’. After a couple of days, she began to lie next to him and follow me around as I held him (and join him for tummy time). G follows her around and lies next to her to chat and pet her paws. Mae likes to give her belly rubs and imitate her various sleeping positions. Rae? Eh. She likes her just as much as the rest of us but acts as though she has lived with us forever (she’s a cat person).

It only took a few hours for her and the cats to get used to each other. Halleluiah.

As for me, I love that she always lays her head on my belly when I sit down and sleeps through the night and is so so sweet and does tricks and doesn’t pull on her leash and lets me use her as a pillow and answers to the name we gave her and…

Thanks for our little lady, Sarah! She will be loved and snuggled and appreciated!

FAMILY DAY OUT : IKEA

Again with the Ikea? I know. I get it if many you have heard enough Ikea chatter from me, but we like it. So much so, that after a full day of walking we still wanted to fill our afternoon with more walking around that gigantic place.

Really, we went there that day so I could buy myself a comfy chair for my birthday. I sit at our table for the majority of each day so I need a decent chair – but everyone else was just as enthusiastic about the visit! (We may be going back to get Mae one of these chairs. She keeps stealing mine…)

^ ^ Zack moving the warm lamp away from the faux fur. Whataguy. ^ ^

We couldn’t help but pop into a couple displays along the way, but overall, we have gotten pretty good at shortcutting our way through if we want to.

These girls are such troopers, always going along with us for great distances and long days without complaint. It totally looks as though Rae is bored out of her gourd, but she’s mega thrilled to be at her favorite store. Just content and calm. Soaking it all in.

I think Ikea is to them what Sam’s was to me as a kid (and what Costco and Sam’s are to most Americans today) It’s pretty great and I’m sure we’ll be back again soon. Maybe next time I’ll spare you the post about it…