Saturday, November 8, 2014

Good grief!

My husband left a comment on my last post: "When are you going to post again?!"

Uh now, duh! Cool your jets, Danny-boy.

So my youngest little man is 17-months-old and his "two" is already showing. He knows what he wants and what he doesn't want, for sure. He has been known to throw himself on the floor and put his head in his hands and cry.

But he also laughs and laughs. He'll throw his head back and laugh, then put his hand over his mouth while laughing (so cute!). His newest thing is raising his eyebrow at us with the most serious face, as if to say, "Are you kidding me?"

He was looking out the window when I said his name and caught him off guard, ha! But he's so adorable. (Ignore the trash bag outside; it's actually a bag for the thrift store that I set outside so kids would stop getting into it!)

His haircut is making him look like such a big boy! He's got the reddest eyelashes and eyebrows.

I got this picture of Judah-boy today. He and I went outside for a little bit and I managed to get one good shot of him (the rest were blurry because he won't stay still). The things this boy says! He just turned three and he's pushing every button he can push one moment... and then melting my momma heart with his sweetness the next moment!

Judah likes to put his forehead against mine and talk to me eye-to-eye. I call him "my boy" and so he started calling ME his boy lol!

Getting pictures of all five kiddos isn't always easy. I was doing selfies with one child and then they all slowly made their way to me and I managed to get us all in a shot! On my PHONE! Technology, let me tell ya...

My oldest needs to stop looking so grown up all the friggin' time.

Another walk and had the kids pose before the setting sun...

Here's our pumpkin from a few weeks ago! It's probably the best pumpkin we've ever cut into. The seeds were really beautiful and delicious. We named our pumpkin "Happy"! He doesn't look so happy anymore... he's pretty rotten. :-D

Monday, September 1, 2014


Our heads are full of daydreams lately. We've been scrubbing, cleaning, simplifying, destashing, recycling, cleansing. Working to get this old house into an attractive state for potential buyers. Sometimes I just want to throw my hands up and say, "Just put it on the market as-is and let's see what happens" but it's not practical. We have to put a little money into it in order to sell it at a price that allows us to pay off our mortgage on this house yet have enough to put down on another.

This is stressful.

The Zillow app was on my phone once.
The baby accidentally deleted it.
I resisted putting it back on my phone.
I finally re-downloaded it.
I have dozens of houses hearted.

I'm trying to learn to be content. I keep telling myself that maybe this is one big test. To be faithful with little in order to be blessed with much. And "much" isn't riches. "Much" is just a different way of life. Actually a simpler but harder way of life. "Much" is more responsibility. But more on that another day.

So we continue to daydream, continue to try to love on this old house. I cannot wait to see this house with a fresh coat of paint on it. It was a nasty taffy pink when we moved in and it's still a nasty taffy pink 8 years later. I'm thinking a pretty shade of blue or green, maybe even yellow (who doesn't love a yellow Post Victorian house?!). Now if only these guys Daniel called to come out would finalize the day they'll come out (they're people we know, not some random strangers).

A new season is coming. I'm scared, anxious, excited and thrilled!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

So far, so good

Week one of school done and about to embark on week two! My kids were so excited the night before our first day that it was like trying to go to bed on Christmas Eve.

I had heard "Charlotte Mason" in passing but never really took the time to research her or her methods. I don't like to put myself in a box. I like flexibility and eccentricity. I felt that to get into a single method or "genre" would be limiting. But one fateful night when I was reading blogs I came across the words "Ambleside Online" and was hooked immediately. The way Charlotte Mason encourages strong minds and great character is exactly everything I'd have hoped for as a growing child and how I'd like my kids to learn. It leaves so much room for flexibility. It's not an online school (no assignments or grades to turn in) but a community and a free curriculum that other parents have devoted countless hours in creating and piecing together. 

Our first day of school started out with Bible reading and poetry. Then we did our other readings, copywork and art. We were done before 9:30. I sat there, dumbfounded, because last year we were doing school work well after lunch because of dragging feet and having too much work. Honestly I feel like we have a bigger workload this year with more difficult subjects/reading but the way it's all laid out makes it fun and makes it a breeze (thus far; I'm sure we'll have "those days").

We did miss our math curriculum this week, though. I ordered it late so I'm sure that'll tack on maybe 30 minutes? I'm not sure yet but maybe even less than that. One major thing that Charlotte Mason stressed was: QUALITY, not QUANTITY. We are taking an entire year to read a single book, to chew on it and weigh it and learn it. Of course the kids can whip through other "free read" books as fast as they want, I'm only speaking of the scheduled readings. And wonder of wonders kids begin to live the books they read by acting them out and using their imaginations and showing that they are retaining the information.

So far we're all loving it! They get their work done, we have tons of time to play outside, bake, build blocks and get imaginative. I have time to cook meals, get some of my business work done without stressing about finding time (like I did last year! And I get cranky if I don't find my work time!), clean and *play with my kids*. Isn't that part of why homeschool is magical? The special time we get with the kids?

Silas and Mommy hanging out on the porch:

 He's such a goofball! He just started making this face at me!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This Year..............

The beginning of the school year is full of so much motivation, determination and spirit! By the time winter break rolls around you're definitely in need of the break. We are starry-eyed with the thought of all we will do this school year...

 We will bake and cook!

We will enjoy our new classroom setup!

We will make-believe...

We will play and learn sportsmanship!

 We will get outdoors...

And explore!

And pretend!

Make new discoveries (he's watching ants carry a peanut).

Enjoy God's beautiful creation...

Express ourselves!

Get messy and creative.


 And we will dance and care for our bodies!

Our goals are to slow down, explore, learn many new things, dive deep into literature, take new chances that might be scary at first and just have fun.

Personal goals for Elaina (age 9) would be to practice better penmanship and writing, memorizing poetry and Scripture.

Personal goals for Abigail (age 7) would be to strengthen her reading skills and helping her to build her self-confidence. She needs to do an "outside-the-home" activity. She has shown interest in clay sculpture and piano (she got a weighted keyboard for her birthday and already taught herself a song just by listening to the notes!).

Personal goals for Zoe (almost 5) would be to allow for more freedom in expressing herself artistically, allow her more opportunity to help in the kitchen since she shows passion for cooking and to be more independent in age-appropriate ways (pouring her own milk, putting her laundry away).

***As a homeschooled child himself, my husband made it very clear to our kids that they had to choose an outside-the-home activity. He didn't get to do that and wishes he had. Elaina and Zoe both already attend a professional ballet school and ministry. Abigail needs to make a choice. The boys are too young but will get to choose something when they're older.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just a Walkin'

This week has been a week of many firsts. Silas, 13-months-old, is officially a walker. He stands right up and toddles all over the house. Mostly following me around like a lost puppy, whining and crying for attention. His love language is definitely physical touch and he wants to be held constantly... or he's perfectly content to climb all over you the moment you sit on the floor near him.

He also says "buh buh" for bye-bye, signs "more" and "all done", will immediately stop what he is doing and get to the front door as fast as he can when someone says, "Is Daddy home?" He has got some serious dance moves and rhythm! He loves to shake his head no but has yet to say the actual word. He sleeps through the night *most* nights. He nurses maybe once a day and loves putting his hand down my shirt. Like he will get ticked off and keep putting it back if I remove his hand from my shirt. He now does it to other people, like his 9-year-old cousin and his aunt, when they watch him.

Oh my binky boy. He's so funny with these things. I tell ya - babies either really love them or really hate them. Elaina was a binky baby. My other three gagged on them, no matter the brand or size. Silas will speed crawl to his binky, pick it up and pop it in his mouth. At least he can keep it in his mouth on his own! Elaina could NOT. I was the mom driving with her arm stretched behind her to hold the binky in for Elaina or it would be nothing but screaming from the backseat.

If I pluck that binky from him he'll grab it right back, grin and put it back. Oy I don't look forward to weaning him from it but when the time comes... the time comes.

These photos are not edited. He's my little GINGERbread man! He may end up being my only blue-eyed baby. Zoe's blues have turned green. I hope his hair stays like this but I do notice it's getting blonder lately.

He's going to need a haircut very, very soon. I'm constantly brushing his bangs to the side.

Other newness this week: Judah wore underwear for a full day! He turns 3 in September so we're right around that potty-training time. He's had a lot of accidents. He's still trying to figure out all the sensations and trying to figure out how to hold it and then let go once he reaches the potty. I should time him sometime. I think he's sat on the toilet for about 40 minutes once. He just sits there looking at books, singing, talking to me, we'll watch Vines on my phone, etc. I've noticed that he pees when he cries.

The first time he sat on his Thomas the Tank Engine potty seat (it clicks to the regular toilet) he was sitting there for FOREVER. Momma was busy and starting to lose patience. Honest I try to be calm and sweet. But he started unrolling the TP when I turned around for a few seconds so I snapped, "Judah do NOT do that!" He started crying..... and peeing at the same time! It shocked him so bad he stopped crying and then we all did the potty dance.

Today one of his sisters made him cry so he started coming downstairs to get me and peed on the way down. So... yeah I'm noticing a trend here. Crying = peeing.

His obsession is Thomas the Train. So his potty seat is Thomas. He has a Thomas potty book that came with a Thomas potty-success chart and Thomas stickers, his underwear is Thomas... He got a big Thomas stuffed pillow/toy thing for choosing to be a big boy and going potty (carries it everywhere) and has a handmade Thomas pillowcase, handmade Thomas blanket, etc. I'm NOT a person who gets into the characters. But somehow 'the little engine that could' has weaseled it's way into our home BIG time.

I tell him that Thomas doesn't like to be peed on so he has to try to hold it and not pee on his Thomas underwear. He still makes mistakes and Thomas and Friends have needed a good cleaning but we press forward. I can see the anxiety in his eyes when he has an accident so I giggle and smile. He immediately melts into a grin and his eyes relax. I try to let him know it's OKAY and we can clean it up. Then I talk to him about how it felt when he needed to go and encourage him to try to do that in the potty next time instead. He always tells me a cheery, "Okay!" Not sure how much he's understanding but it's probably more than I realize.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Transformed Dining Room

Summer slump has hit so now is the time to do a lot of house projects that won't easily get done once school starts or the holidays hit. I bought paint for my dining room back in April or May and I finally got around to painting the dining room! I meant to do it Mother's Day weekend but I threw my back out. Then I had oral surgery, twice. Then I got a pretty bad respiratory infection. Gah! So fun, right?!

One night I just moved all the furniture out and got to work. In ONE night I primed and painted my entire dining room. I wanted my family to wake up and be surprised!

So here is the before (it's from Christmas - it was the only one I could find quick! I think organizing my photos is next on my Organizing Frenzy). I HATE how the red blends with the woodwork. It's just all so blah!

 So it's dark and I'm using my iphone here to take pics. I started cutting in with Primer. The room is so big that by the time I come back to my starting point it is dry enough for me to do the next phase...

Primed and ready for some paint! It already looks massively bigger... and brighter!

Had to take a selfie, of course. Wasn't even tired... until I got to the last couple walls with the second coat of paint. You can see the first coat going on behind me. I don't use painter's tape. That's how freaking awesome I am. Or lazy. Whatever.

Tada! It's a light, pretty green. I think it's called Willow and it's a Glidden paint I think. I just painted it and already my mind has moved on and I don't remember. This was right before I turned out the lights and went to BED!

In the daytime, such a pretty and bright room now. No longer a cavernous pit of sadness.

Isn't it fabulous?! I'm so proud. I took a very long time, weeks upon weeks, to finally choose a paint color. I'm so glad the first one I chose worked out. Those little paint swatches don't always look the same once you blow it up to life-size on a wall!

I have some lovely valances being made by an Etsy artist with this fabric:

Next up? Not sure! But it's exciting planning it all out!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ambleside Schedule 2014-15

(Note: In case you're coming in on this post with no clue what I'm talking about... Ambleside is a free online curriculum utilizing Charlotte Mason's ideas for teaching children. It is created by homeschooling families for homeschooling families. The only part that isn't free, unless you get all your books from someone for free or at the library, are the literature books and regular school supplies. The curriculum and schedules they put together are *free*. This isn't an online school that is taught via video or whatever. It's a homeschool resource for parents.)


When I first looked at Ambleside I was really confused. Beyond confused! (They're redoing the site so it'll be cool to see how it turns out!) But the more I read, the more I started to piece it all together in my mind. Making schedules is one of the hardest things for me. I feel like I need structure and a timetable but at the same time it makes me feel really restricted if I have to do things at specific times.

So with that in mind I did not write down what TIME we'd be doing anything in the schedule. By leaving the time off the schedule I am open to move things around and start our school day when it is best for us to start and mold it around whatever may come up and interrupt. With a lot of smaller children who are not yet doing schoolwork and with running my business I have to keep a schedule that is more flexible.

I have 36-weeks already mapped out with weekly work and it was just a matter of figuring out how to disperse the load for the week. Best way to do that is to write down the daily work that you do, well, everyday. Then divide the weekly stuff between MWF and TTh.

We are doing Year 1 and Year 3. And of course 0 but my 4-year-old is pretty savvy and a quick learner. I have a feeling she'll be in Year 1 soon. She'll definitely be listening in on the work we're doing and taking part of a lot of it.

History (M: US, W: Geography, F: World)
Natural History Literature
Recitation (F)

Nature Study/Journal
Music (T: Composers, Th: Folk/Hymns)

The rest of the day is freed up to explore, create, play, do chores, make meals, independently read, etc. Hopefully it goes well enough that we're actually done well before lunch but we will see. I left the creative parts for last so if they extended well into the time that I need to devote to work the girls are free to continue on their own.

My mom-in-law will be doing school on Wednesdays again which is another reason I had a hard time coming up with my schedule but I decided to pencil Wednesday in as though the kids were at home with me (especially as sometimes there are sick days/snow days where they'll be stuck with me anyway, ha!). The parts they can't miss or she won't have them do at her house (chapter reading) will just be something they do before they leave for Nonna's house or makeup later... She does a lot of handiwork with them (crochet, knitting, baking, sewing, etc.) so that's a huge part that she is doing that I'm not good at. She won't do what I am doing because it is fun for the kids to learn in different ways AND she still covers the subjects that are important (she DID homeschool her four kids so I trust her!). She enjoys coming up with stuff for them to do and they love going over there. I pray they never tire of going to Nonna's house to learn and bake and sew.

Any other homeschool families out there? What are you considering or decided on? What years are your kids doing school? Have you done Ambleside's curriculum or are you considering it? Would love to hear what everyone is doing. Feel free to post links to your own posts about getting organized and prepared for school!