A Week, Briefly (In Which the Snow Arrives)

(Note:  I can't keep up with Pixie's photo credits anymore.  If the photos are awesome, they're by her.  If they're mediocre photos of stuff we do, then they're by me.)
Why, oh why, did I sign up to review homeschool products?  I spent all of Monday in a state of tight stress over how to use the December practice review product, SchoohouseTeachers.com.  Who would use it?  How would it be used?  How could I get it to even work?  I spent hours studying the site, and a long time communicating with customer service, while simultaneously trying to work through our regular school day.  I thought perhaps I should just send in a resignation immediately and open up a spot for someone who would enjoy this more.

However, Nature Angel was perfectly happy to work on one of their art lessons, and as the day passed, I realized that was all that needed to be done--one child interacting with the product in a way that blessed our family.

I breathed out the stress and fell into bed, asleep almost instantly.

Before I fell into bed, though, there was all of our schooling to do.

In Morning Meeting, we reviewed what we've learned so far and began working on the final portion of The Living Christ.  It's been serendipitous that we finished the Old Testament stories and began the New Testament as December began.  Reading about the birth and childhood of Christ has been a perfect introduction to our Christmas season.

Symposium was rough because Ladybug, Brother, and Little Brother refused to obey directions and had to sit out.  The babies cried a lot, too.  Sir Walter Scott was home, though, and he helped out.

I love him.

We learned a few more lines of " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," practiced weather phrases for Spanish, learned a little about Martin Van Buren, laughed our way through a history review, added timeline figures to our wall, and read about Columba (missionary to Scotland).

Mister Man read a few stories from Mother West Wind's Children.
Ladybug worked on CVCC words and counting objects.
Little Princess edited a few more silly stories and did math drills.
Nature Angel drilled math, worked on an art lesson, and finished her mosaic of Theodora.

The older girls worked their way through all of their independent school subjects.

The sun came out enough to bundle everyone up and send them out to play in the afternoon.


Though it was cold, cold, cold, the sun was out, so I bundled my busy boys (and Ladybug) in their best winter gear and sent them outside to play in the hour between Morning Meeting and Symposium.

What a blessing!

In the afternoon they went outside again, simply wearing coats and hats, riding bikes and letting off all of that little boy (and girl) steam that builds up to intolerable levels when they're kept indoors.

Today we continued following the SQUILT Christmas calendar that arrived as a freebie in my email one day last month.  I quite like it.  I gave the kids mugs of hot chocolate to warm them up after their outdoor adventures, and they listened, if not quietly (there was rather a lot of slurping), then at least politely, to the lovely carols.

And I passed out playdough to all of my pre-writers to keep them focused and quiet during Symposium.

Lola found our toddler scissors--the kind that are spring-loaded so they only have to be pressed closed--and happily decimated a sheet of paper.

Baymax is in love with markers.  Fortunately, he's willing to sit on a stool at the counter near me while he uses them.  Otherwise they end up everywhere!

Little Princess finished editing her silly stories and spent a goodly amount of the day creating illustrations.  She's hoping I'll print it up into a "real" book.

Nature Angel finished her first art lesson from SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  Her picture is a copy of a painting by Walter Battiss.  After she finished it, she happily read a Wikipedia article about Paul Gaugin.

Nature Angel's copy (in marker) of 10 People in a Mopipi Tree by Henri Battiss
Pixie used Lola's new birthday present as the focus of her motion study for photography.  Little Princess happily assisted.
Shutter speed: 1/20--a beautiful blur of motion

Shutter speed: 1/500--caught the individual pieces.  I just think it is so cool!
Ladybug successfully finished her 7th phonics reader and seems to have "caught" the idea of what addition is.  We celebrated with high-fives.

I took Rose Red, Super Star, and Belle in for their annual eye exams.  That left poor Pixie at home with everyone else.

I think she's as happy for the sunny afternoon as I am.


Just a little bit.

But Mister Man, Little Brother, Little Princess, and Nature Angel bundled up and had a blast!

Brother and Ladybug were stuck going to therapy.  (Therapy is a good thing!  It's just not fun to miss out on the first snow play of the season.)

Indoors we studied Pope Gregory I and listened to Gregorian chants while the kids wrote up their lesson narrations.

I processed a whole bunch of laundry--somehow we fell behind.

Nature Angel worked on another art lesson.  For this one she focused more on art appreciation, choosing to write a compare/contrast essay about the artist's style.

Little Princess kept on drawing illustrations for her Silly Stories.  She's pretty close to getting to make a printable book.

Super Star hasn't been working on her home economics course, so I invited her to find a class at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  She chose French.  After an hour of troubleshooting on my own and with the online support, we got her up and running.

Sir Walter Scott helped Rose Red study for her Spanish final that's coming next week.

In the afternoon the kids went outside again while I made dinner and did chores indoors.
Eventually the babies wanted to go out, and I was grumpy, so I left the soup simmering on the stove, handed off the shaping of the bread to Pixie, bundled up the babies and myself, and headed outside.  Most of the littles had already gotten cold and were inside playing with playdough by this time, so the babies, Nature Angel, Little Princess, and I moseyed up the street to our favorite corner, stopping to look at whatever interested the babies along the way.  Lola hated the dusting of snow, and she barely tolerated being outside.  Baymax was interested and curious, but he didn't like it when his older sisters picked up snow and pretended it was snowing on him.

Our outing was brief, but it was just enough to chase away the cobwebs and let us breathe a bit of fresh air.

The oldest 4 and Sir Walter Scott had activities at the church in the evening, so the younger kids and I had a quiet evening at home reading stories and going to bed on time.

I spent at least 3 hours of the day dressing and undressing small people who could not manage their own zippers, mittens, hats, and/or boots. I started to panic about surviving winter . . . and winter won't even officially start for almost 2 weeks!

I've done everything I can to make our outdoor clothing accessible for both retrieving and putting away, but sometimes it just take Mama's hands find that missing mitten or unjam that zipper.

And quite honestly, the mess that our mudroom becomes is overwhelming even to me.
Fortunately from Little Princess on up, kids were able to work fairly independently today.  Art projects, math, research (Pixie's studying Scottish clans--and we have awesome family history there), foreign language--all of it happened with fairly little input from me.

Ladybug had a dreadful day--dreadful in a way for which there are no words.  That left me so drained that I couldn't face anything but some time out in the fresh air.

So I bundled up the younger 8 and we took off for a walk.

We stopped to stomp in a frozen puddle.  We picked up pieces of ice and learned the words "transparent" and "opaque."  We were brave when that big dog barked so hard at us.  We stopped at a big boulder and gathered snow to pretend it was snowing again, and we ran all over the dried and broken grass.  The babies fussed, so we walked along.  Ladybug and Little Princess threw their big pieces of ice to watch them shatter.

That was interesting.

We found animal tracks.

I couldn't go verify them because the babies were fed up with trying to move in their 1,000 layers of clothing, but Nature Angel says they were fox and deer.

Honestly, I'm willing to believe her.  She knows whereof she speaks.

We saw the fox, himself, just before we left on our walk, so seeing his tracks makes sense.

Dinner took forever, but the kids played with building toys and the road rug, so the early evening was peaceful.

Baymax went to bed very early because he didn't nap.  And Lola's nap was 2 hours later than it used to be.

Looks like our babies are growing up!

I had a grumpy start to my day . . . I don't know why . . . perhaps leftover emotions and exhaustion from Thursday's difficulties . . . and then Little Brother was grumpy, too, so we were a tough pair.

The morning was hard.

We kept to routines, though--rising, grooming, reading, working, eating, praying, singing, worshiping, studying--and in them we were safe enough to make it.

On a whim, Super Star caught us during preschool storytime.

 Preschool book of the week: What a Wonderful World!

Nature Angel finished her shadow puppet and entertained the littles for half an hour or so.

It was cold enough in the morning hours to keep us all indoors, but in the afternoon the sun peeked out enough to take the edge off the low temperatures.  The littles bundled up to stomp on ice on the creek while Sir Walter Scott and I ran errands . . . alone.

It wasn't really a date . . .
but it kind of was.

I was in a better mood by the time we came home to find the Christmas music cranked up LOUD and the kids dancing around the kitchen. :)

(Linking here)


  1. I am not ready for snow weather either. Just the thought of getting all the littles ready and unready, helping take things off when they come in desperate to pee, only to put it all on again, and watching Mason for frostbite (poor circulation because half his body is paralyzed combined with the inability to feel that his lower half of the body is cold and freezing is not good). Ugh. Makes me want to say bah humbug on it all.

    Don't panic yet about the reviewing - but know that it is perfectly normal to panic. We did the Crew for a couple years when it was first beginning and I always had some panic moments along the way. It was an interesting experience though and we were introduced to some great companies and products.

    Photography question - what has she used/is she using to learn how to do things beyond the preset settings on the camera? I have a lovely Canon Rebel T3 but don't mess with shutter speeds or anything else. And I want to! I even have a second lens to learn to use (that I haven't touched in months). Ideas? I do have a Craftsy class I need to work through. In my free time... Ha!

  2. I particularly love Nature Angel's mosaic and shadow puppet! Cute pics of the kids playing in snow...

  3. Welcome to the review crew. Last year was my first year. It was a bit hard to get going, but you get used to it. I think the first one is such a giant product that it is a bit overwhelming. It will get easier. I remember the snow and little people. Hang in there.
    Blessings, Dawn

  4. I laughed at your comment re photo credits. I need something similar at the moment - all the photos of exciting places in Europe are by Miss 21 (not me sadly). Thanks for the reminder about the Squilt music calendar. I need to put ours into use!

  5. Lovely photos. I find myself breathing deeply for you. :) You have a great handle on your routine. I hope the outbursts are fewer and farther between. My favorite part was a three word sentence. "I love him." You are blessed with a perfect companion for the life you have both built. Blessings to you my friend.

  6. It has been cold here but no snow. We had no snow last year at all and the children are really hoping to see some at least once.

    The SchoolhouseTeachers.com review is honestly one of the hardest. There is so much to the site that it can be very overwhelming. Finding an area or two that your family enjoys and talking about those is just the right thing to do. It gets easier.

    Have a great week!


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