Friday, December 7, 2012

December School

We're taking the month off from school and focusing on Advent, crafting, and transitioning into winter. I am also taking this time to evaluate what we are doing and make changes. I have been very relaxed about school this year and it has had advantages and disadvantages. I threw out all of my plans, decided to only focus on the required subjects, and have stopped worrying about what my kids should or shouldn't be doing. Homeschooling has become a completely different mindset for me. This blog post sums up my current view on homeschooling. Here's a snippet:

According to Charlotte Mason, education is
  • Developing your child as a unique person.
    “The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person” (Vol. 6, p. 147).
  • An atmosphere, a discipline, a life.
    “Education is a discipline—that is, the discipline of the good habits in which the child is trained. Education is a life, nourished upon ideas; and education is an atmosphere—that is, the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives” (Vol. 2, p. 247).
  • Mainly carried out within a family setting.
    “By far the most valuable part of education is carried on in the family” (Vol. 3, p. 94).
  • Not trying to teach your child all about anything, but rather giving him plenty of opportunities to form personal relations with people and things around him.
    “Education is the Science of Relations; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we must train him upon physical exercises, nature, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books; for we know that our business is, not to teach him all about anything, but to help him make valid, as many as may be of—
    ‘Those first born affinities
    That fit our new existence to existing things.’ ” (Vol. 1, Preface).
  • Giving your child vital interests in a wide variety of subjects.
    “Our aim in education is to give children vital interests in as many directions as possible—to set their feet in a large room—because the crying evil of the day is, it seems to me, intellectual inanition” (Vol. 3, p. 231).
  • Guiding your child to apply wisdom.
    “Some day we shall be told that the very word education is a misnomer belonging to the stage of thought when the drawing forth of ‘faculties’ was supposed to be a teacher’s business. We shall have some fit new word meaning, perhaps, ‘applied wisdom,’ for wisdom is the science of relations, and the thing we have to do for a young human being is to put him in touch, so far as we can, with all the relations proper to him” (Vol. 3, p. 75).
  • Encouraging useful living, clear thinking, aesthetic enjoyment, and the religious life.
    “We are empirically certain that a chief function of education is the establishment of such ways of thinking in children as shall issue in good and useful living, clear thinking, aesthetic enjoyment, and, above all, in the religious life” (Vol. 6, p. 100).
  • More about character than about conduct.
    “We who teach should make it clear to ourselves that our aim in education is less conduct than character; conduct may be arrived at, as we have seen, by indirect routes, but it is of value to the world only as it has its source in character” (Vol. 6, p. 129).
  • Feeding your child’s spirit with that which is good and wholesome and, especially, the knowledge of God.
    “Education is part and parcel of religion and every enthusiastic teacher knows that he is obeying the precept,—’feed my lambs’—feed with all those things which are good and wholesome for the spirit of a man; and, before all and including all, with the knowledge of God” (Vol. 6, p. 246).

    Of course, one of the disadvantages to sort of flying by the seat of my pants, is that it can, and does, lead to chaos. Maeve is required to do handwriting and math everyday that we do school. She reads throughout the day and we've been doing science a couple of times a week.. Unfortunately, I don't think this is enough to feed her mind this winter, nor is it structured enough to keep all of the kids out of trouble.

    Our days have a routine, but my kids need more parent-lead activities. I try to include them in as much as possible throughout the day, but transitioning from a lot of outdoor play to being mostly indoors, has lead to a lot of fighting, tv watching, and boredom. I need to switch things up a bit after the holidays.

    I found this site for free McGuffy's readers and I'm going to give them a try with both Maeve and Finn. I want them both to do some copy work. I'm thinking I will either read Magic Tree House books, Little House books, or maybe some other historical series. The kids love it when we read together and we typically finish a Magic Tree House book in a couple of hours or less. We've finished Little House in the Big Woods and Maeve is getting the boxed set for Christmas. I want them to narrate the story back to me and I found a Charlotte Mason site that has some good narration ideas. I need Finn to be more involved with schooling on a daily basis and I think this should help with that. As a side note, Finn has been learning a lot this year too. He can read and has been fascinated about weather and comic books.

    I like many of the Charlotte Mason ideas because they incorporate kids of all ages. Oren has definitely been left out a bit this year. He's not into coloring or letters or holding a pencil or counting or workbooks, but he does like to do school. He likes having some kind activity to do (or choose not to do). I'm going to work on handicrafts and life skills with him since he's a very tactile learner. Maeve and Finn will benefit from this also and it should help fill the time when the cold weather hits.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Life Update

I majorly lack the time and hands it takes to post here. I've been trying to convince Tillie that sleeping by herself is a cool and worthy cause, but she's not buying it and wakes up in a panic if I'm not holding her or next to her. I'm sure this will change soon enough, so I'm trying to enjoy snuggles from my last baby. Well, probably my last baby.

We got a puppy. Have I shared that already? It was probably stupid, but Maeve is looking forward to teaching Wendy, the mutt, tricks and I'm hoping it will give her a hobby while the weather is cold and frogs are hibernating. The only problem is that Wendy likes to poop and pee in my house. She's doing better this week, but has been spending more time in her kennel.

School is going well. I have no clue what week we're on because I lost track, but Maeve continues to improve. She's breezing through Singapore 2A and working on numbers to 40. Maeve is able to add in her head and understands number sequence. Finn is taking a break from multiplication and division and is currently working on time. Maeve continues to work on Handwriting Without Tears and Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind. I'm also having her read to me more often.

Maeve was super excited to wake up one morning and see ice. She got out bowls and kitchen thermometers to measure the difference in temperature before adding ice to hot water and after adding ice. Maeve and Finn loved using the thermometers so I'll need to remember this for later.

We've starting our holiday ornament making. We've used salt dough and a baking soda/cornstarch dough. We all prefer the salt dough. Oren and Finn used reasonable amounts of paint and no one ended up naked and painted so it was a nice change of pace.

Oren has started to show an interest in counting. He can get to three. He can also spell his name. That's about where it stops for him. He does enjoy doing school with the other kids and makes an effort. I am hoping I can devote more time to his learning as Tillie gets older. She and Oren are in constant need of my attention that I just don't have time to get creative with the stuff Oren gets to do.

Tillie is getting a bit more independent. She's army crawling everywhere and rocks on her knees. She says "mama" and "dada", although doesn't talk too often.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thrifty Finds

I love thrift stores and today was a good thrifting day.

We bought:

Little Tikes tool bench for Christmas
Vintage desk chair for me
Four kid books (one for Tillie for Christmas)
embroidery hoop
five pairs of one piece pjs/outfits for Tillie
two pairs of Tille pants
three Tillie outfits
four Gymboree shirts for Maeve
a pair of leggings for Maeve
big package of candles
two beanie babies
a small dump truck
three adult books

Total spent: $26

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


It has been difficult being content in our current house. I am an ideas person and a do-er so once I decide something, I'm all in. I decided several years ago that I wanted an acreage and so I was finished living here and frustrated that we had to stay.

I had an "ah-ha" moment yesterday and realized that I'm okay not having an acreage. I like my house and know there is a lot of potential here. I am in no position to take care of livestock and homesteading takes time. We're not quite where we want to be financially and I don't want to be stuck with an acreage and a crappy house that we can't afford to fix up.

So. I'm finally content and it feels great.

We will eventually have some land and, I hope, a terrific house that my husband will have built. Until that happens, I'm going to make the most of our current house and see how much food we can grow on our little suburban homestead (what that sentence really translates to is that my husband has a lot of projects to accomplish around here and I will continue to add to them with wild abandon).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Fun School, Week 12

Math: Maeve worked on mental math and is quite good. She's still adding and subtracting, but she's half way through Singapore 1A and is getting it. Yay!

Language: Did some lessons out of Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind. Worked on handwriting. Read several books to her brothers and picked out a lot of library books and read those too. Maeve and Finn also did their first crosswords puzzle.

Science: Started learning about birds. Read about birds in general, birds that can't fly, and penguins. We'll stick with penguins for a bit since Finn loves them. We've started reading through the Magic Tree House research guide about penguins. I need to see if I have Eve of the Emperor Penguins and if not, I'll get it from the library. Maeve has lost interest in geeking out about frogs since they are all hibernating so we're sticking with Sonlight for science.

Finn got a library card which was a very big deal to him.

I worked on number recognition with Oren and he has no interest. No interest in the alphabet either. I need to put together a construction/building unit for him.

Tillie is learning how to crawl. Lord help me.

Secret Homemaking Society

I am a sorority girl at heart (Alpha Gamma Delta for those interested) and think it would be fun to create a homemakers sorority. We could have a secret hand shake, knock, song, and this could be our creed:

I believe that homemaking is a noble and challenging career.
I believe homemaking is a art that requires many different skills.
I believe homemaking requires the best of my efforts, my abilities, and my thinking.
I believe home reflects the spirit of the homemaker.
I believe home should be a place of peace, joy, and contentment.
I believe no task to is too humble to the cleanliness, the order, the health, the well being of a household.
I believe  a homemaker must be true to the highest ideals of love, loyalty, service and religion.
I believe home must be an influence for the good in the neighborhood, the community and the country.

found here

What do you think? Anyone with me?  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Christmas Stockings

I found a few neat stocking stuffer ideas for the kids.
Bedtime passes
Snowman poop
Coloring case
52 things
Photo books - I buy cheap, small photo albums and fill them with pictures of each kid. It's a review of all of the fun we had that year and my kids love looking at the pictures.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I love these. I don't remember where the first excerpt came from, but the second is from a blog called Chocolate on my Cranium.

"When I’m faced with bickering siblings, a demanding child, a burnt dinner, a telephone ringing…all at the same time…I deeply feel my inadequacy and lack of spiritual goodness. I want to lash out and grumble and throw the phone across the room~ :) I want to use strong emotions to communicate and change the situation! But if anything good is going to come out of me, I must rely solely on God’s grace in that particular instant.

Truth is, we all have a well we draw from. The poor in spirit draw only from the well of God’s grace. When life’s demands come knocking, we could pay with strong emotions, withdrawal, self-reliance, control, and many other fleshly solutions. But in time, the Lord will bring us to realize these are worthless, damaging, inadequate, and undesirable.

That is when we can learn a different way, the way of paying with grace.

The Kingdom way of living is relying each moment on the grace of God to lead, enable, and sustain. It is drawing deep on Him, breathing in and breathing out, trusting His sufficiency and goodness to be enough. And He does not disappoint.

So today, when you need to “pay out” to meet life’s demands, draw on Him (and maybe tuck this scripture away in your back pocket?)

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”    II Corinthians 9:8"

"Motherhood isn't - as many may think - an easy vocation. To do it properly, to do it well, is increasingly difficult in a world that is steaming towards ever loosening morals and steadily chipping away at traditional family values. To make a stand and refuse to allow such things to seep into your home and affect the developing hearts and minds of your children is hard work.

In the eyes of our Heavenly Father, motherhood is higher than any walk of life. The world tries to tell women, "Do something important with your life." God says, "What is important is sitting at the dinner table staring at you." Children are not an interruption of your life's work, they are your life's work. The greatest vocation is found in the hungry eyes of an infant, the inquisitive stare of a child, the hopeful gaze of a youth, the confident stride of a teenager, and the independence of a young man or woman stepping beyond the bounds of home for the first time."

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Fun School, Week 11

This was a week filled with beautiful weather so we took advantage if it and spent a lot of time outside. It was great.

Freaking Tomatoes

 This is only half of all of the tomatoes we cleared out of the garden. I gave away two sacks and will be canning the rest when they ripen. I'm about done with this canning business and ready to hunker down and relax in front of my wood burning stove.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Fun School, Week 10

Maeve is fast at adding and subtracting! She can add double digits (she doesn't know how to carry yet) too. She finished her subtraction dollar section workbook so we'll go back to Singapore. I am very proud of her.

We talked and read about germs, noses, and eyes last week. We're reading from the Usborne Book of Knowledge. The kids haven't been doing the worksheets that go along with what we cover, but I'm happy they are at least listening and engaged.

Most of our learning lately has been happening in bits and pieces throughout the day. The kids got a physics lesson the other day about motion and the importance of seat belts. We researched and set up a habitat for Prairie lizards. We talked about our neighborhood, landmarks, and our address. We read from Little House in the Big Woods. We hiked and collected seeds. We planted tulips and daffodils. We worked in the garden. The weather has been great lately so I haven't been pushing the organized learning too much. I know that this season will soon pass and the kids will be stuck inside.

Friday, September 28, 2012


We learned about germs yesterday and some of the ways they can get into our bodies. Oren sat next to me and listened and asked a lot of questions. We talked about boogers and how they do a great job trapping the germs in our noses and how it is disgusting to eat them because you are eating germs. Oren thought about this for awhile, shrugged, smiled sweetly, and said, "But I like to eat them and my body is STRONG."

Ah, boys.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I am lost.

I grew up Roman Catholic and attended church every Sunday until my husband and I moved to our current city almost ten years ago. I like mass. Of all of the changes throughout my life (divorce, switching schools a lot, moving, etc), going to church was a constant. Mass doesn't change. I can say the prayers in my sleep. I love that about Catholicism.

I joined the Catholic church by our house and hate it. I have received numerous death stares whenever my kids act up and have seen few friendly faces. No one has made an effort to greet an unfamiliar face and even the people in our baptism class were unfriendly. I've gone several times in the hope that it gets better and it doesn't. I've also noticed from reading all of the online bulletins that this Catholic church is very focused on money. They are putting on a huge harvest party, but it costs $10/person, plus food the cost of food, and game tickets for the kids. I am all for supporting the church and charities, but it's like this with everything that church puts on and seems over the top. Also? I'm poor so spending $65+ to go to a church harvest party is ridiculous. That might seem petty, but when all of the church's events cost money, it rules out my growing family.

We live across the street from a Methodist church. It is the complete opposite from the Catholic church. The people are welcoming and friendly. I received sympathetic and kind smiles when the kids started getting bored. They have free Sunday school for the kids and put on several church activities at no cost. We went trick or treating at the Methodist church last year and it was great. Everyone was happy and wanted to be there and the teenagers had fun with the kids. It was free and my kids loved it. The downside? I am uncomfortable during the service. There's no order to the service, the songs aren't familiar, and there's not nearly enough standing, sitting, and kneeling.

I want my kids to receive their first communion. I want to have all of them baptized (Maeve is the only one so far). I want them to know the peace I've found in attending mass. Church meant a lot to me as a teenager and I want my kids to have something similar when they are older.

So what do I do? The big city closest to us has quite a few Catholic churches. We've tried a few of them and didn't fit in. Do I keep trying them on until one fits? Do I start attending the Methodist church since it's so family friendly and in my community? How much does religion matter when we are all serving the same god? I've been wrestling with this for awhile and have no answers. I would like church in my life again, but am stuck.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I love our girls. We have seven chickens right now and get six eggs per day. One of our girls was an afterthought and is not yet laying. Her name is Yellowy and she's the spunky little sister who roosts on the water feeder and is the one to steal all of the best pieces of food.

The Fun School, Week 9

My kids were too busy fighting this week to accomplish anything else.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vanilla Extract

I decided to make my own vanilla extract. I cut open two vanilla beans, put them in a quart jar, and covered the beans with a bottle of vodka. I'll strain it in 4-6 months when it is darker in color.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


This is a third of our plum harvest for the year. The trees bloomed early and the last spring frost took just about everything. This lovely plum is about as tall as my thumb. I can't remember what kind of plum this is, but it's great for turning into a prune. Our other plum tree should produce delicious fruit for jellies.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I made elderberry syrup last year and thought I'd save myself some time and make a tincture this year. This is about a half of a gallon of elderberries and vodka. It sits in a dark corner in my kitchen and will stay there until we need it this winter. Elderberry is great for colds and flu.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Fun School, Week 8

The kids did a lot of math this week.

Maeve worked on mental math and adding big numbers (84 + 27 for example). She did great! Drilling  her on problems has helped a ton. She had very few backwards numbers this week. Overall, lots of improvement in math.

I worked with Finn on division, but he's not getting it. I know he can figure it out so we'll use manipulatives next time he's ready work.

We learned about lungs this week and continued to learn more about amphibians.

Finn finished his Explode the Code book and is ready for ETC 1.

We did some Halloween crafting and it was well received. I bought a bunch of q-tips and had the kids use them to put dots leaves on trees. Finn went crazy and painted for hours. He painted quite a few happy walnuts too, which I think is sweet and funny.

We also made a banner that says "boo". It's cute and hanging it meant that the other Halloween stuff needed to come out. So it did and Maeve was very proud of her decorating skills.

Maeve found two frog books at a garage sale and read them on the way home. She reads a lot these days. I'm going to introduce her to chapter books soon and see if she's interested. I've been trying to read Little House in the Big Woods at bedtime, but the boys have been nutso. I'm hoping to pick that back up next week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy Spray

I get this out when the kids are fighting in the house or in the van. I have no idea if it does anything to calm them down, but they do rally together in protest of the happy spray and stop fighting. I guess that means it works, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Essential Oils

My collection of essential oils is slowly growing as I continue to learn how to use them.

I keep reading about Young Living thieves oil and when I found this recipe, I had to make it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


A friend of the family has a large vineyard in his back yard, but doesn't do anything with the grapes. He told us to pick as much as we wanted so we brought a friend with us and cleared his vines.

We each picked an insane amount of grapes. I have finally finished canning and ended up with 37 quarts of juice. My husband and children will be enjoying grape jelly in the near future.

Canning grapes juice requires a hot water canner. You wash the grapes, juice them, leave 1/4 inch of head space, and process for ten minutes.

The Fun School, Week 7

We've been doing much of the same.

The dollar spot at Target was 50% off so I bought several addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division work books. Maeve and Finn have been diligently working. Maeve has told me that she loves math and it's what she wants to start with everyday. I'm happy. She finished the addition workbook.

Finn is funny about math. He can very easily count by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, etc., but multiplication is hard for him. I can say "count by 6s five times and he'll get 30, but if I ask him what 6 x 5 is he doesn't always know how to answer.  He'll get it eventually.

I decided mid week to scrap Sonlight science because no one seems to be interested. I think we are going to learn about all kinds of amphibians and maybe end the year with a presentation of sorts and a big display board. Finn wants to learn about bowling so I think we'll turn our hallway into a bowling ally. We'll learn about candle pin, duck pin, nine pin, and ten pin bowling and how to score them all. We started reading about the history of ten pin bowling, but Finn wasn't entirely interested.

Hm. Honestly, I don't want to completely scrap Sonlight science. I think we'll keep working through it once or twice a week and see if the kids get interested. It might just be that they don't care about body stuff yet, but another topic will pique their curiosity.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Fun School, week 6

We had a very productive week!

The kids used their imaginations in a crazy, good way and have been construction workers for most of the week. Today, they are construction workers who are following a pirate map to buy sports equipment. I'm not really sure how that is all connected other than they found golf clubs in the garage and my hidden stash of hammers on the front porch.

I found Little House in the Big Woods at the thrift store this week and we've been reading it together at meals and bedtime. It's prompted a lot of questions and talk about food preservation and why we do the things we do.

I thought Finn would have a good time helping me build a pendulum, but he thought it was lame. Oren helped me instead and Maeve thought it was neat.

Maeve continues to work through Singapore 1A and is a little over half way through the book. Numbers are so much easier for her this year! We worked on Language Lessons, read parts of a Titanic book, and did Handwriting Without Tears. She loves her handwriting book. 

This week Maeve decided to start a frog business called Fun Frogs. Like any good entrepreneur, I had her create a business plan. I gave her a binder so that she could figure out her start up costs and profit margins, create brochures, and come up with an advertising campaign.

First, we went to Petsmart to check out check out prices of frogs and crickets. 

Then, Maeve wrote the diet and habitat of each frog she wants to sell. She helped me put all of the information into a pamphlet, which she plans to pass out with her business cards and with the purchase of a frog or tadpole.
She also made a list of how she can market her business.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Fun School, week 5

Maeve did more subtraction problems on Khan Academy and she also did a refresher about ordinal numbers. She's ready to move forward so we will.

Finn watched several multiplication videos on Khan and worked some problems. He's going to be working on multiplication for awhile, but he's getting it.

Maeve worked on Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) and Lang Lessons.

We studied blood and the heart.

The kids were very imaginative this week. They put on several plays for me and made a workshop for themselves.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Yes, I have already started planning. I will be following this:

something to wear
something to read
something they want
something they need

-I'll make her a few skirts
-a frog book
-White's Tree frog
-Her needed item will more than likely be grouped with her new frog set up

-I'll make him some pants
-a bowling book
-Mario Party 9
-He needs a bigger bike and I should be able to find a nice one for cheap

-I'll make him some pants
-construction book
-Daddy will make him a tool bench
-nuts and bolts and a tool belt (I will make it)


-I'll make a taggie ball or stuffed animal

Stocking stuffers will consist of a few candy items and a photo book that recaps the year of each kid. I did this for them last year and they love looking at all of the pictures of themselves. I'm going to have them open a book for each day of December (I'll hit up the thrift store because books are only 25 cents a piece) and I might buy into the Elf on the Shelf thing this year because it looks like fun.

I'm still thinking about gifts for extended family members. The grandparents will receive pictures and I will more than likely make salves and the like for everyone else.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Fun School, Week 4

We've been doing a lot of math. Both kids have notebooks and I've been giving them problems to write down and solve. Maeve really enjoys this and Finn enjoys knowing the answer before his sister and then keeping it a secret. We're breezing through Singapore 1A and I'm proud of Maeve. She's been working on subtraction and enjoys Khan Academy.

Finn hasn't had any sort of attention span this week. but he did sit still long enough for me to show him how to add big numbers and carry over on paper. Finn is working through Singapore 2A and started multiplication.

We are learning about digestion this week. I like the books we're using (The Usborne Book of Knowledge, Usborne Science Experiments, book 3, and a human body book). The kids were pretending to be Bob the Builder space travelers so we spent one morning talking about planets, their sizes, and then making up and drawing our own planets. Maeve's planets were frogs, of course.

Maeve's handwriting continues to improve as she works through Handwriting Without Tears. She's been working through Language Lessons for a Well Trained Mind and is retaining some of it!

I am so much more relaxed about school this year and love it. We do organized learning whenever we have a lull in the day, which is working beautifully.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Maeve and I were looking up frog stuff on the computer last night. I typed in something on Google and noticed a few other searches that had taken place earlier in the day. "BUTTS" and BUTTSONLY". Lovely. The kids thought they were hilarious.

Oren drew fire on his arms today and said he was a fireman. I was proud until he pointed his fist at me and yelled, "FIRE!". You see, he was a fire man, as in a super villain who causes fires.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sewing Pile

This is my sewing pile. I'm hoping to get to it soon, or at the very least, before Tillie desperately needs the next sized diaper (the fabric at the top of the pile).

I will be making several skirts for me, a couple of skirts for Maeve, pants for the boys (that fabric is in a different pile), and quilted seat covers for the dining room chairs. The chairs will look awesome if they are ever completed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Maeve always carries a net with her on our walks and she found this. It's a bullfrog with a very long tail. We were all very excited and Oren has named him Trek.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Fun School, Weeks 2 and 3

Ha. I'm already behind.

Maeve is really enjoying Handwriting Without Tears. It is helping her write slower and is correcting the way she writes. Maeve has started using lower case letters and she rarely writes backwards.

Maeve is improving is math as well. She is finally understanding numbers and addition. I've switched her back to Singapore 1A because she needs and wants more drilling and Life of Fred does not provide that. Maeve has been using Khan Academy online and that is working well for her too. She writes most of her numbers correctly, however, she starts to write them backwards after she's been working for awhile. It was funny because we were working on numbers that add up to 10 and Finn would interject and say things like "What's 200 minus 190? 10!!" He's way beyond where Maeve is in math.

We've been working on Sonlight Science C and reading about bats, giraffes, elephants, and tigers. Maeve is not at all interested because it's not about frogs.

I'm on the fence about history. I have all of the history for the year planned, however, it doesn't seem to even moderately entertain my daughter. We learned about the Mayans, who were a fascinating group of people, and Maeve was not impressed. I'll keep at it for awhile, but am considering pitching it and doing history in a very relaxed way. We are slowly reading Little House on the Prairie (do people still underline books? I feel funny underlining it) and I might just focus on that as our history. We talk about historical things often and since it's not required by the state until sixth grade, I'm probably not going to stress about it.

Finn has been doing a lot of math worksheets and adding with dice. He can add three digit numbers, but only in his head. He has also been working on Explode the Code and his handwriting is getting better.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Do you know how many times a day I open my newly organized spice drawer?

I used very small jelly jars (they are the same size as baby food containers) and they work perfectly. I won't end up with spice lids half open or randomly sized bottles of whatever on my spice rack. I plan to buy all of my spices in bulk or grow them and then refill as needed.

I love getting things organized.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Homemade Bread

I've been looking for s great homemade bread recipe for a long time. I finally found it. The funniest thing about this recipe is that when I told my mom about it she said that it's the recipe her mom always used. That would have been helpful information many years ago.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Fun School Classroom

 Welcome to our learning space. Last year my office was where we spent most of our school time. Unfortunately, my office became a dumping ground for everything in the house and stopped being functional. I moved everything into our awkward dining room and, for the first time in five years, I can honestly say I like the space.

We have two kid sized work tables for the kids. Maeve gets her own because she's a slob and the boys share.

The white cabinets hold learning games, puzzles, and all other highly dumpable materials. The cabinet doors do not open easily with the rug and since everything is out of sight, the kids leave it alone. The set of cabinets by the painted tree house toys.

The painted tree is for Oren's letter of the week.

The red, empty picture frames are for random bits of  artwork. The white shelves and red baskets are for more toys and the white frame above the shelves is for calender time.

Our dining room table gets used when I need to work with more than one kid at a time. There is also a buffet that's not pictured and that is where I store all of our math manipulatives. I like math manipulatives and have two drawers full. 

I'm looking forward to using this space this year and reclaiming my office.

P.s. Maeve named our school the Fun School.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sensory Play

I had a moment of confusion when I thought that letting my kids scoop cornmeal indoors was a good idea. It did keep them quite busy for awhile, however, they didn't seem to grasp the concept that the cornmeal needed to stay in the blue table.

I wanted to fill the table with different substances each week, but the constant sweeping of cornmeal kind of turned me off. Oren took it upon himself to fill the table (and my bookshelf) with flour and then dump water all over it. Water and flour make glue. That was fun to clean up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Fun School, Week 1

We are slowly easing back into a formal learning routine. Our first week went well.

Oren: learned about the letter A and enjoyed tracing with a dry erase marker and cutting things, he is not at all interested in letters

Finn: completed about 20 pages in his DK Math Made Easy workbook, worked on his Explode the Code

Maeve: completed six pages in her Explode the Code workbook, started Handwriting Without Tears and we worked at correcting the way she writes letters (she likes the correct way and thinks it's easier), completed one chapter in Life of Fred and practiced addition on Khan Academy site. We also studied apes/monkeys, giraffes, and bears for science. In history, she learned about the land bridge and tectonic plates. Maeve is finally starting to grasp numbers and I might start her again on Singapore 1B. I think she needs more drilling and number practice and Life of Fred isn't cutting it. Also, between Life of Fred, science, and history, it seems like all I do is read.

Baby Smush Face

Monday, July 30, 2012


This is the very beautiful Bali Breeze in Brigid. It's made of super comfy tshirt material and while I'm not a huge fan of dealing with so much fabric, this wrap takes about 45 seconds to put on. Tillie loves it and it's nice because she's secure and her head doesn't wabble all over the place. The mei tai is my true love, but I have a feeling this will always be my go-to carrier with Tillie. I need to find new ways to use it so I can mix things up a bit.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Homeschool 2012-2013

The kids and I are ready to start up again so I thought I'd share what we'll be doing this year. The plan is to do school M-Th. 

Maeve, 7, second grade

Math: Life of Fred 
I plan to have her do a chapter a day unless she needs a break. I will supplement with a generic Usborne math workbook that looks good. 

Science: Sonlight C
This is already planned out for me and I love it. 

Phonics/Handwriting/Grammar: Progressive Phonics, Explode the Code, Handwriting Without Tears, Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Book 1
She'll work on each one once a week. 

History: Lesson Pathways
I used Lesson Pathways to outline our year. The website does a decent job providing relevant links, projects, and information, however, I will also use a few Usborne books. I'm not sure yet how often we'll do history. I will guage interest and go from there, but I'm thinking twice a week unless there is a lot of interest on a topic. 

I am not planning anything formal for language arts because I do not think there is much of a need at this age. Each kid has a book list and we will read chapter books as a family. We're currently reading Little House on the Prairie. 

Finnegan, 5, kindergarten

Math: Singapore 1A
He's almost finished with this one and will move to 1B upon completion. He loves math and will work at his own pace. I also bought him an Usborne generic math workbook if he gets bored. 

Science: Sonlight C
He'll work with his sister.

Phonics: Progressive Phonics and Explode the Code
Finn is already reading so he'll be skipping ahead in Progressive Phonics. He'll one or the other everyday. 

History: Lesson Pathways
He'll work with his sister. 

Oren, 3

We'll go through a letter a week and use a lot of sensory play. 

All of the kids will be utilizing thier workboxes this year. They have number lines and everything and I'm hoping it encourages individual work. 

As always, I wil tweak as we go. I might also start having them do a bit of reading so they settle down before dinner. I keep try to create little reading nooks, but the kids turn them into chicken nests or forts. Or boats. Or islands. get the idea. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tin Foil Babies and Other Absurdities

My cousin, who is in her early 20s and single, told my mother today that newborns are wrapped in foil shortly after birth. She was serious. Apparently, she watched something on tv that showed a home birth and the baby was wrapped in a silver heat camping/space blanket. Not foil.

Another stupid thing I'd like to comment on is the Paleo diet which seems to be all the rage. It's basically the Atkin's diet of high protein and little to no carbs. Except if you're Paleo, you're eating like the cavemen. That sounds great and healthy, right? I mean I want to eat real food like cavemen. I was looking up breakfast ideas and found a Paleo recipe for brownies. Brownies just like the cavemen made using coconut flour and chocolate chips...wait.... This struck me as incredibly funny. I understand that eating real, whole foods is good for you, but it seems silly to use coconut flour and try to pass it off as a caveman food. Perhaps the cavemen did make their own coconut flour, but I am skeptical. I also seriously doubt that cavemen made brownies. Why not just call it a gluten free diet or something?

Last, and somewhat related to food, is Gatorade. I am not a fan of Gatorade and do not allow my children to drink it. It's full of sugar and food dye and doesn't add much of anything to their diet. My kids were given bottles of Gatorade at Halloween and started calling it protein. I have no idea why they started calling it protein and, in fact, try to not question most of what they do. When they say "protein" in regards to Gatorade, it sounds like "PROOOOTEEEEEN!!!" and they behave as though they've struck liquid gold. Up until two days ago, they had never even tasted Gatorade. Daddy, bless his heart, gave them some Gatorade in secret after he took them swimming. Their grandmother, bless her heart, gave them more Gatorade today. At one point today, I could almost swear my children were cavemen. Very thirsty cavemen who were incapable of speaking correctly. I heard "PROOOOTEEEN!!" at least 20 times while my lovely paleolithic creatures with bright red lips and chins chugged their disgusting beverages in the van on the way home. They don't get that from my side of the family. Hm, never mind. It was my grown cousin, after all, who thought newborns were wrapped in foil upon delivery.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Life with Four

I am busy.

Laundry is never ending and having to wash diapers again means that stuff gets piled up. I taught Maeve how to do the laundry and it was awesome for about a week. After that she decided that laundry really wasn't much fun and requested a new chore.

I am constantly feeding people. Oren opens the fridge no less than 50 times a day.

Maeve and Finn are good, although they've been bored lately because it's been too hot to do anything.

Tillie is three months old. I'm not sure how that happened. She's a sweet baby and has huge smiles. She has found her voice and hands and is really trying to roll over. I usually let her have some naked time whenever I change her diaper and she moves her legs all over the place. As soon as her diaper is on, she stops moving. It's funny. The boys are constantly in her face and it drives me crazy. Maeve almost always watches from afar and will try to cheer Tillie up if she starts crying.

The garden is out of control with weeds this year and I've given up. I honestly don't have time to do anything productive outside. It's a bummer because I love kale and chard and have none for the freezer. We did have quite a bit of peas and have 70 tomato plants so it's not a complete loss. I might end up with some squash too, but I'm not holding my breath. I barely manage to change my underwear everyday at this point so it's not surprising the the weeds in my garden are taller than me.

I've given the chicken feeding/watering chore to my husband. I do enjoy the chickens. We have one chicken that is a couple of weeks younger than the others. It was a moment of weakness at the feed store. The youngest is a buff orpington and she is so much smarter than the others. Anytime I bring them scraps, she gets right in there and takes what she wants before the old ladies shoo her away. Then the other pullets chase her around and are jealous of her awesomeness and ability to steal food. Chickens are wonderful creatures and I would watch them all day if I could.

I have come back to reality and have stopped considering the possibility of us moving this year. It's not going to happen. I really want an acreage, but I need to be happy here at least two more years. There are too many unfinished projects and I have an anxiety attach just thinking about cleaning the house for a showing. That would involve doing things like scrubbing the baseboards and finishing the paint projects I started four years ago. I am confident we'll move eventually and when we do, it'll be bittersweet.

I have several sewing projects that need to get done. I have 14 diapers to cut out and sew, two skirts for Maeve, three skirts for me, a couple of headbands, some pants or shorts for the boys, and chair seat covers for the dining room chairs. I'm hoping to get the diapers done in the next few weeks and then start on everything else. Tillie hates the sewing machine and will not sleep through it if I'm wearing her.  Apparently she can't be bribed with the promise of a cute diaper butt.

So that's it. Sort of. It's not even the tip of the iceberg. I do love having four kids, but most days I'm happy that Tillie is my last. Haha. I said that after every kid.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Grocery Store Conversation

I took three kids grocery shopping today. Getting groceries always involves two carts and if we are able to make it through the store without any crying, running, or yelling, it's a good trip. The kids were great today.

When I pulled up to the cashier with my two carts and three kids, this was the conversation:

Cashier: You have your hands full!
Me: Yep, I have one more at home.
Cashier: Oh, wow. With all of these apples you must be making applesauce.
Me: No, we eat that many.
Cashier: Oh! That's great. (turning to Maeve) Are you in school?
Maeve: No
Cashier: How old is she?
Me: We homeschool.
Cashier: You really do have your hands full!!

I have a feeling I'm going to have many conversations like this. It's not like I woke up one day with four kids and decided to homeschool. The cashier was being kind and curious, but I find the "you have your hands full" comments to be funny.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tillie Niamh

I was 39 weeks on Tuesday and when I went in for my appointment, I hadn't made much progress since the previous week. I was dilated to 3 cm. My contractions had mostly stopped and I figured I'd make it, again, to my due date. 

Wednesday morning came with a surprise and lots of digustingness. My body was finally starting to cooperate. I figured things would start to happen within a few days so I spent most of Wednesday catching up on laundry and putting it all away. That turned out to be a very good decision. 

Wednesday night around 9 pm, I emailed my husband to tell him that I'd been having a contraction every 20 minutes and then every 10 minutes for an hour. My contractions continued at 10 minutes for a bit longer and then came every eight minutes. Mathew did not think I was in labor and figured it was my body teasing me. I knew I was in labor, mostly because the dog had been acting strange all day toward me. She would not leave my side. Our dog, while extremely annoying, has an uncanny ability to sense things. She once prevented toddler Finnegan from falling from the top of the steps. She does stuff like that all of the time.

By the time we left for the hospital, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. I think we got to the hospital around 10:30 pm and I was dilated to 5 cm and 100% effaced. I was a bundle of nerves and couldn't stop shaking. My midwife was terrific and able to calm me down and get me to focus. God bless midwives and if you've never considered having a midwife attend your birth, you should.

I labored lying on my side. It's interesting how every birth has been different. I loved the birth ball with Finnegan and labored leaning forward on an inclined bed with Oren. I don't count my labor with Maeve because I was induced with pitocin and had an epidural. 

I had my midwife check me when I started to feel pressure and I was 9 cm. I told her to go ahead and break my water. I had wanted to give birth on all fours, but that was uncomfortable so I asked for the squatting bar. Unfortunately, Tillie had other plans and was born before they could get the bed set up. I guess my midwife had said to wait through three contractions before pushing, but I didn't hear her because I was busy pushing. My legs were all over the place and I was in the crappiest position possible, but I was ready to be done and stopping a baby from coming out is impossible. 

Tillie got stuck for maybe 15 seconds and everyone was yelling at me to push. I'm not sure if her head was stuck or if I had pushed out her head and her shoulders were stuck. In any event, her stuckness (yes, I realize this is the second word I've made up) was due to me being in a crappy position, but I got her out and all was well. Tillie did have some bruising on her forehead and nose, but was perfect otherwise. 

I had to have a bag or so of pictocin and two shots of stuff in my legs to control the bleeding. I honestly, don't think the bleeding was any worse than the other births, but everyone was being cautious and I guess my uterus kept feeling soft. 

Tillie Niamh (pronounced like Neeve) was born at 1:33 am and weighed 8 lbs 2 oz. She was 20.5 inches long and her head measured 13.5 inches. 

Recovery has gone well and I feel great. I can bend over, turn around, and sleep without complaining. We are all smitten with our newest addition and life is good. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

35 Weeks

I am just about 35 weeks and am tired. I keep waiting for that intense nesting stage to hit and I'm beginning to wonder if it has already passed. I think I have everything ready. The freezers are full, the cupboards are stocked, at least for now, the hospital bag is packed, the birth plan has been printed, cloth diapers and baby clothes are washed, put away, and ready, and I have everything prepped for all three kids for homeschool next year. I have also pre-registered at the hospital. I think I just need to wash my mei tai and wrap and I'll be good to go. Well, I suppose I should figure out how to use my wrap too.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


All three of my children were playing with blocks this afternoon and it was funny to see their personalities in their building styles.

When Maeve plays with blocks, she builds cities, houses, and animals to live in the houses. She wants to use all of the blocks and needs her village to be perfect.

Finnegan doesn't build anything that has a purpose. He puts blocks together in a numerical pattern and fills them in according to how many empty pegs are on each block.

Oren creates animals. He was very proud of his mama T-Rex and his baby T-Rex. Everything he does always has a mama and a baby. Every now and again, he'll throw in a daddy for good measure. Oren loves to build and puts blocks together in a certain order.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


We have decided on a name for Baby Girl. Finally.

I love her name and believe it's a bit more mainstream than the other three kids' names. We've told a few people and have heard "oh" and laughing without further comment. Why bother asking if you're not going to say something nice? How hard is it to say "oh, that's nice" or "pretty"? We've been met with criticism for each name that we've chosen and I'm tired of listening to everyone's opinion.

The reactions thus far make me want to name her Niamh and then leave people guessing how to pronounce it correctly. Niamh is her middle name, by the way.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Homeschool Update

School is going well so far this year. If all goes according to plan, we should be done by the time the baby is born. I use the word "done" loosely because we are never done learning. I've strayed a bit from my original weekly plans because Maeve wanted to do a lizard lapbook and because studying history does not hold Maeve's attention. Lately, the focus has been on reading, writing, math, and science. Maeve loves science and I am happy that we will spend the spring and summer exploring ponds and everything related to frogs. Frogs, dinosaurs, and the Titanic are her favorite things. Maeve is becoming a more confidant reader and her lower case handwriting continues to improve. We use Life of Fred for math and she likes the story format so much better than a text and workbook.

Finn has been more involved with our structured learning time lately. He and I are working through Singapore math together and he's almost finished with 1A. He's been working through Explode the Code and his handwriting has improved tremendously. I've started Progressive Phonics short vowels with Finn and he's already shown an understanding of short vowel "a" and has moved onto "e". Finn loves workbooks and is extremely motivated to learn.

Oren's language has exploded. He is finally saying more than one word sentences and can/will repeat just about anything. He is able to communicate all of his thoughts and will often come up to me, wrap his arms around my neck, and say, "Aw. Mama is so cute." Saying such things almost makes up for the entire bottle of maple syrup he dumped into my plant and all over the kitchen floor.

I have ordered all of our books for next year. I want to have a rough sketch in place of next year's plans before the baby arrives in April. If anyone is curious, here's what we're using:

History: Lesson Pathways (it's online and it's free). I'm combining year 1 and year 2 and filling gaps with a couple of Usborne books.

Science: Sonlight Science C. There's a dinosaur section I will revamp and might adjust a few other things once I look it all over. I wanted something directed and already organized so that I won't have to come up with experiments or lessons on my own.

Language Arts/Reading/Phonics: We'll continue with Progressive Phonics and Explode the Code. I'm adding Handwriting Without Tears. We'll continue to read lots of books.

Math: Life of Fred for Maeve and Singapore 1B for Finn. I also ordered Usborne math workbooks and plan to use those as needed and to give Maeve just a bit more practice with some of the concepts covered in Life of Fred.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

30 Weeks

10 weeks to go! Hoorah.

I wish I could say that I love being pregnant, but I don't. I sort of enjoy my pregnancies until I get to about 20 weeks when my uterus starts to push my internal organs up into my rib cage. I am short and short waisted so my babies take up all of the space between my pelvis and ribs. This baby is facing the wrong way and has her back against my back. It's fun feeling so much movement on my belly, but her position makes my belly super sensitive to touch. A super sensitive belly and a very loving, very active two year old do not mix.

I have only gained 20 lbs so far and am happy about it. I'm really trying to stay within the 25-35 weight gain and think I will be successful. I gained 50-60 lbs with each of my other pregnancies so this is a huge accomplishment for me. It might have something to do with chasing an extremely active two year old.

We weren't going to hire a doula this time, however, we stumbled upon a doula in training and are going to have her attend our birth. I think she will do a good job motivating me and keeping me focused. I suggested she learn about pressure points and massage so maybe she'll want to practice those at our next meeting.

My birth plan is finalized and the baby's clothes for the hospital were picked out by an excited older sister. The car seat has been installed. All that's left is packing a hospital bag, washing the Boppy, and sewing a pouch.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Someday is Next Year

Most of my nesting energy has been spent obsessing over buying an acreage. I realize that putting our house on the market with a newborn and three other children is probably not a good idea, however, I can't stop myself from dreaming and dragging my family to look at properties I find online. Thankfully, my husband has stepped in as my voice of reason.

We have come up with a plan, and if we are diligent, we should be in a good position next year to buy an acreage. I am very excited. The kids are excited too and Maeve has already requested a pond so that she can hunt for tadpoles, frogs, and toads. Oren does not want goats unless they are babies and Finn said he wants some roosters.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Workboxes Revisited

I'm going to start using and filling the kids' workboxes again. I am hopeful that Oren can control himself enough to not dump the contents of his workboxes. We'll see. He needs to be part of our homeschooling time and this will give him a job and a bit of direction.

Finn enjoys workboxes too, although I'm going to talk to him tomorrow to find out what he wants to learn. He's not a crafty kid, but I do think he'll like some hands-on Montessori type activities. I ran out of creativity for the week though so this week Finn will get ordinal worksheets, computer games, and Explode the Code. I don't think he'll complain.

Maeve is tricky when it comes to workboxes because she needs a great deal of hand holding. I will continue to do school the way we've been doing it this year, but I will probably add 2-3 fun activities for her workboxes. For example, this week we're starting ancient Egypt (again, no interest the first time) and Thursday we'll talk about tombs so I'll put a tomb craft in her workbox. Her workboxes are currently full of her crap so cleaning a couple out will be a project for tomorrow.

As with everything else involving homeschooling, we'll see how this goes and I'll tweak as needed.