Friday, December 30, 2016

A Week, Briefly (In Which We Live Quietly [If You Can Call the Noises 14 People Make "Living Quietly"])

Christmas Day




It was joyful from beginning to end.

Our preschool book of the week is Room for a Little One.  The preschoolers are fine with it, but one of the older kids asked, "Christmas?  Why Christmas when Christmas is over?"

"Because we worship Christ at all times," I answered.

There wasn't much she could say other than, "I guess that's true . . ."

Though changes are coming next week, Morning Meeting continues much the same in this last week of 2016.  It was our review day for The Living Christ, and now that we have it memorized, I find myself grieving that we won't be singing it every school day in the coming year.  I've found some new songs to memorize, but even though they are scripture, they don't have the same beauty and grace of The Living Christ songs.

We had friends over to visit--former neighbors whom we love.  We hadn't visited in over a year, but when they walked through the door, it was just like old times.

Good neighbors are a blessing.

We played indoors and out--the Playmags, the pogo stick, and the new jump ropes got the most use.

Wonderful creative, constructive, healthy play all day.

Little Princess pulled out her beeswax candle rolling kit and made 6 beautiful candles.  

In the evening we took a vote, and King Arthur was kicked off our reading list.  When Mister man protested, I assured him he could continue it one-on-one with me.  He received this news with an actual shudder of delight.

Instead we read the first 50 pages of Mary Poppins, and everyone loved it.

Another visit to the chiropractor for me.  Hooray!  I'm healing!

The day passed in a blur . . . warm temperatures meant the littles played outside for hours on end, and came happily inside for homemade macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Rose Red found out she earned a "C" in her Spanish class.  This is reason to celebrate!  It was a huge challenge for her, and she earned every point by blood, sweat, and tears.  She now has 8 college credits to call her own (5 from this class and 3 from the speech class she took last year).

Mister Man is building circuits every day with his Christmas gift of Snap Circuits. 

Ladybug, Mister Man, and Brother finished Henry Huggins with me.  The dilemma over Ribsy's ownership really affected Mister Man.  He wanted to talk about it for a while afterward.  He feels an injustice was done to Ribsy's original owner.

We ended the day with more Mary Poppins.  I only stopped when my eyes were too heavy to keep open any more. :)

We read Room for a Little One.
We had Morning Meeting.
We played.

We sewed.
We read.
We cooked.
We cleaned.
We went outside to climb trees, jump on the pogo stick, run, and laugh.
We read The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel.
We started reading A Bear Called Paddington.
We continued reading Mary Poppins.
We prayed.
We sang.
We watched movies.
We ate by candlelight a few times.
We napped.
We argued and apologized.
We stared at computer screens.
We talked about taking down the Christmas tree (today--absolutely, firmly, today!).
We shopped.

It's been a full week of good living.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Week, Briefly (In Which We Only Kinda-Sorta Get Ready for Christmas)

It's Christmas week. Something is very wrong with my back (how old does that make me?). And we are all tired.

So we are on a break . . . sort of.

Rose Red is required to write 1000 words a day as we seek for enough credits to get her through her junior year. We'll call it a creative writing intensive.

Pixie is going to finish her photography course. It's no hardship 😊.

Super Star is going to work on her French course.

Belle is continuing with Latin.

No one else is required to do any formal school, but Nature Angel will probably do some art lessons.

We'll have morning meeting each day because that is our devotional time, and there's more than enough memorization, singing, reading, and critical thinking to keep our brains alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic.

We started the week with Santa's Favorite Story as our preschool book of the week.

While I lived on prescription strength ibuprofen, Super Star led the littles in a half hour of dancing to Christmas music (to get a few of the wiggles out). Then she read them a story to settle them down, and they all played with various building toys after that.

Belle helped me clean out the mud room.

Rose Red and Pixie did academics in the morning. Super Star and Belle did theirs in the afternoon.

The sun came out to bring the temperature up into the 20s, so most of the kids went sledding after lunch.

Eventually I was incapacitated by pain.  I spent the late afternoon on the couch with a heating pad while I wondered whether relief would ever come after my scheduled dose of pain meds.  I was so grateful for my kitchen helpers who washed potatoes to bake for lunch and who put the tuna casserole together for dinner that I started but couldn't finish.

Belle managed serving dinner to the littles, while Super Star managed kitchen clean up.

Nature Angel and Little Princess beamed with pride because they managed the babies' baths from start to finish all on their own.  They did a really good job with our temperamental toddlers.

I laid on the couch and listened to the stories the littles created as they played with our new Zoob building toys.  (Lots of birthdays this month)  I served as a mountain for the creations to conquer.

Pixie came home from babysitting and put me to bed.

It was really bad.

I almost couldn't get there.

Then she and her sisters managed all of the bedtime routines and watched Christmas in Connecticut while they waited for Sir Walter Scott and Rose Red to get home from work.

It was a day full of real-life homemaking skills for my girls.  I hate being ill or hurt because I feel guilty passing the work to my daughters, but in the back of my brain, I know how much they are learning when they are called up to take my place.  They will be more than ready to run their own homes and families when the time comes.

I woke up even less able to walk than I had been the night before.  Sir Walter Scott called in to work so he could take me to see a doctor (where they gave me 2 steroid shots and a prescription muscle relaxer--the challenge was to find something relatively safe for me to take while nursing and that wouldn't interfere with my anti-depressant) and then take Pixie and Little Princess to their scheduled eye exams.

Another 1,000 words for Rose Red.

Another 15 minutes of French for Super Star.

Pixie completed another photography assignment.  This one was about mood.  She used a mix of newer and older photos--challenging herself to search out and edit photos that met the criteria of the assignment.

Here are a few that speak to me:

Belle never got any Latin done on Monday because she worked too hard helping me, but she made it up today.

The temperatures rose above freezing, and the 4 littles had a blast out in the remaining snow, scooping, throwing, dumping, pouring, sliding, climbing, and laughing.

Belle and Mister Man spent a long time lost in a make-believe world of building creations.

And tough medications notwithstanding, I still can't pick up the babies, so they got away with wreaking even more havoc than usual.

In the evening, we read some more King Arthur, and then the older girls and I explored the web for some background information about The Great Gatsby--their next book club selection.

I became officially too irritated with Santa's Favorite Story to keep reading it, so we switched to The Crippled Lamb for our morning preschool story.

We're all happier for the change.

The day passed in a blur of pain management for me that ended in a trip (finally) to the chiropractor.  I'll be seeing him a couple of times a day for the next many days, and the adjustments hurt so badly that Sir Walter Scott could hear me crying from his seat in the lobby, but I feel that some progress is being made.

I know the kids played board games, built fantastic constructions with our ball-and-stick toys, played make believe, and got outside on their bikes and into the creek.

Pixie baked cookies to contribute to the church youth Christmas caroling activity (at an assisted living facility), and all four of the older girls participated.

Oh, those babies enjoyed the results of Pixie's work!
 She also played around with "light art."  She had to work around her lens limitations, but she and Little Princess and Nature Angel had some fun with a flashlight in a dark bathroom.

(These are unedited--Pixie isn't feeling well enough to edit right now.)

Sir Walter Scott took the younger kids with him to drop off the older girls, and on the way home they drove around looking at Christmas lights.

The kids came home with lights in their eyes.

As temperatures soared into the high 40s, the little kids got to play outside for hours, tromping around the 1/2 acre of woods and creek we have in our yard.

The big girls baked Christmas cookies and managed the household.

I visited the chiropractor, iced my lower back, and cried.

When I came home from my afternoon appointment (2nd visit of the day!) I felt so beat up, bruised, and sore that I could hardly speak.  Sweet Pixie met me at the door, sent me to bed, and fixed me a cup of herbal tea.  Precious Belle retrieved my ice pack and filled a bowl with fresh-baked Christmas cookies for me to munch while I rested.

Earlier in the day Super Star and Nature Angel came with me to run errands--doing all of the lifting, carrying, and loading that I couldn't do.

Rose Red did a lot of chores that she hates doing because I needed her to take my place.

I felt so loved, so tenderly cared for, that after I finished crying out my hurt, I cried in gratitude for my wonderful, wonderful daughters who actively live what they've been taught of Christlike love and service.

In the evening the girls and I talked about King Arthur--how we're getting bored of all of the battles and the high-and-mighty-I'd-rather-die-than-be-humble dialogue.  That's when Mister Man, who recently started staying up to listen to the big kid stories, exclaimed, "I love them! I love this book!"

All of us girls just laughed.

There's truly a difference between boys and girls!

I cried right on the chiropractor's table.  He helped . . . a lot.  But it hurt so, so, so, so, so, so much.

The kids carried on with Christmas traditions while I rocked the babies with ice at the small of my back.

Lola helped Pixie roll and cut sugar cookies.

Smashing candy canes
Mixing the candy cane popcorn we'll bag and deliver to friends and neighbors
Little Princess claimed the bowl the almond bark had been melted in.

Chopping, melting, and stirring yet another couple of pounds of almond bark

It crossed my mind that my kids will have no standard to live up to for holidays.  They'll not grow up at all wishing they could do it as well as Mom did.

Instead they're establishing their own level of Christmas fun right now.

Perhaps that's a rather good gift to give them.

I'm comforting myself with that thought because the alternative--that I'm a terrible mother who should be working through the pain to "do it all"--feels revolting.

We've had preschool story time, Morning Meeting, outdoor play time, quiet time, evening routines, and family prayers every single day.

Rose Red wrote 4,000 words this week; Pixie organized and edited dozens of photos; Super Star completed a French unit; Belle completed another Latin unit.  Kids have decorated, drawn, wrapped, shopped, planned, counted, cooked, explored, read, written, and memorized all week long.

While tiny doubts niggle the back of my mind about our family culture, when I lay it out in black and white like this, I feel reassured that we're doing just fine.

Merry Christmas to all!!!!

(linking here)

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Week, Briefly (In Which the Week Gets Rough)

Sunday We made "gingerbread" houses after church.

Then we went for a walk.

 Then we started reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

 I know the story of Christ's birth should be my favorite Christmas story, but it's really The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

It's about discovering the power and love of Christ's birth, so that's pretty good, isn't it?

Lots of folks are on Christmas break, but my big girls still have seminary until the 21st, and I don't really know what to do with the kids that prefer routine to break, so we're sticking with our school routine until inspiration comes.

Honestly, my crew NEED to be outside a lot, and they NEED structure to their days, so dumping it all in favor of "relaxing" into holiday activities is an absolute joke. Our summer days were long and free, but we had the luxury of 10 hours of outdoor play available to us then. Right now we're looking at 1-2 hours of successful outdoor play (more today because the high climbed above the freezing mark), and the rest of the hours that I'd love for the littles to spend with Legos or crayons or blocks or music or costumes or dolls or other wintery-indoor pursuits are actually spent climbing the walls.

 I think I may have to invest in higher-quality outdoor gear.

That being said, play dough is a winner every single day right now.

 And the littles are far better at playing creatively this year than they were last year. I have to give them that credit. They have grown and learned and are growing and learning every day.

 But I do have a 24-month-old and a 22-month-old, so seriously, no matter how much I try to plan ahead, the days are spent in crisis management.

*sigh*      They're so terribly cute that they're worth the craziness.

 Little Princess and I finished and ordered her Silly Stories book. It should arrive by Christmas!

The littles have formed an outdoor percussion band under the direction of Nature Angel. They're preparing a Christmas Eve surprise for the family.

We reviewed the entire Living Christ during Morning Meeting.   It was an amazing experience to sing our testimonies of Christ all together.

What a boring word "amazing" is.


They're all such generic adjectives.

As I sat at the table, looking at the faces of the people I love most in the world, testifying of Christ and listening to them bear their own testimonies, I felt full of the grace and love of God.  I felt heaven in my dining room.

Brother had his eyes squinched shut as he concentrated on the words.

Little Brother had oatmeal smeared on his shirt and chin, and he flung oatmeal onto the wall as he waved his spoon in time to the music, but his eyes were alight with joy.

Mister Man sang Joseph Smith's testimony, " . . . for we saw Him even on the right hand of God . . ." with all of the gusto he could muster.

Super Star's voice lifted above all of ours in quality and sweetness.

Rose Red sat silently, refusing to join us in song.  But I know her better than that.  She's subtly borne testimony in her own way, and I know that eventually she'll find her voice.  In the mean time, she's hearing ours. 

And every one of the other kids' faces and voices touched my heart in their individual ways.

I guess that's what I mean by "amazing."

The rest of our school day was predictable, safe, stable--the usual.

The toddlers were anything but predictable, safe, or stable--the usual.

In the end we ate warm soup and homemade bread, gave everyone baths, read 2 more chapters from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, started A Christmas Carol, and went to bed.

I burned my hands.

After our usual morning routine, I settled down to do some phonics and math with Ladybug, but then Little Princess finished her scripture reading and came to me to do math.

It was a recipe.

She's on a learning to read thermometers unit, and we were assigned to make saltwater taffy so she could practice reading the candy thermometer and review simple fractions at the same time.


And we had all of the ingredients on hand.  She gathered them while I finished school with Ladybug.

Win, again,

We set to work.

Waiting for the temperature to climb to 256 degrees is long and boring.  Little Princess and I took turns stirring, and just as the temperature reached 250 degrees I handed the spoon off to her so I could finish loading the dishwasher.


Somehow the temperature shot up quickly, going past the desired mark before I turned around.  I snapped the heat off, shoved the pan off the burner and stirred for all I was worth, but it was clear that the candy wasn't going to pull well.  It was crackling even as I stirred.

We poured it in the buttered pan anyway and waited for it to cool.

After a few minutes, I touched it and thought that maybe I could work with it.  It was hot, but if I let it sit between pulls, and only pulled the edges, I could cope, and by the time it was truly cool enough to handle it would be solid.  We'd have to get out a hammer and crack it.

I started pulling.

I made faces and let go quickly.

Kids gathered to watch.

Super Star made fun of me for being a wuss.  Little Princess tried touching it and jerked her hand back quickly.

I thought I was being careful, but it was really hot, and by the time I'd pulled and dropped and pulled the candy into beautiful, satiny swirls, my hands were red and blistered.

Oops, again.

There ought to be a lesson or two in this experience. :)

We listened to lots of SQUILT music while I iced my hands and we sucked on the yummy hard candy we made.   Then we memorized 4 more lines of  " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," did a history review and called it good for Symposium.

Nature Angel studied another artist and completed the assignment to paint a Thanksgiving painting.

When I edited the picture, the computer saved it with the weird line in the middle. :(
The temperature stayed low, but the sun came out, so the kids played happily outside for a long time.  I had a doctor's appointment, and while I waited for my prescription to be filled, I hit the thrift store to get warm clothes for a few kids who were still layering summer t-shirts to stay warm.

But I also found a copy of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table for less than a dollar.  I'd just been wanting to read a good version of King Arthur to the kids, and this one serendipitously appeared.

I call that a blessing!

Rose Red studied for her Spanish final all day.

In the evening we finished The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (yes, I did cry--so did Pixie), finished the first chapter of A Christmas Carol, and started King Arthur.

My plans for the day were certainly not the Lord's plans for the day because almost everything on my to-do list was shunted aside for other work.

We did make it through Morning Meeting with few problems.

But Ladybug played passive-aggressive again, so no school for her.
Nature Angel was out of sorts (unusual) and struggled to work on her art project.
Lola and Baymax continued to wreak whatever havoc they could--climbing, throwing, and biting were the activities du jour.
Little Princess spun like a top from one activity to another, "Can I do this? . . . Can I do this? . . . Can I do this?" until my head spun off.
We process laundry every single day, but it managed to pile up again, and 5 loads needed to be folded ASAP because the little boys were out of pants.

Then it was time for Symposium.

We actually did a good job until the end.  We got through all of our usual material (ugh, Empress Wu Zetian was a terrible person, even if she was considered a great leader), but when I passed out a knights and castle coloring sheet to keep hands busy while I read aloud about King Arthur, chaos came to stay.

Babies cried.
Toys flew.
Kids complained.
Ladybug and Brother left for therapy.
Teens left and returned to the table over and over and over.
The phone rang.
The phone rang.
The phone rang again.

And Rose Red's ride home from school fell through, so I had to go pick her up.  (Three cheers for her final being over!!!  Now all we have to do is wait for her final grade.)

We never did read about King Arthur.

But at some point in the day Pixie entered some of her photos in a contest.  

Then in the afternoon I spent 2 hours at Old Navy trying to solve the problem of receiving someone else's order that was accompanied by my correct invoice.  The employees were deeply apologetic, but solving the problem was no picnic, and I was tired by the time I left to finish my other errands.

What a blessing that Sir Walter Scott was home while I was gone for so long.  Everyone was playing peacefully and creatively when I got home (and Nature Angel had been inspired to finish the painting that had bothered her in the morning), but I'd snagged a box of sidewalk chalk, and I happily dangled it in front of the kids to entice them to bundle up and get outside for the last hour of daylight.

Rats!  Ladybug and Brother are not at their best after therapy, and they both ended up on time outs--Ladybug for throwing sticks at people, Brother for breaking the chalk so that no one could color any more.

I am so grateful that pasta was on the menu for the night.

I love pasta night.

It's so easy on a day that was anything but.

The 5 oldest had church activities, so it was me and the littles at home for the evening.

Brother had a melt down . . . but he recovered much faster than he used to, and he sweetly apologized when it was all over.

That's a blessing.

I woke to a headache in the wee hours of the morning.

I'm so grateful for medicine!

Pixie came to me at 5:11 am to talk out the trouble between her and one of the youth leaders at church.  My heart just hurts for my sweet, sweet girl who is having to learn early on that good people are not perfect.  It's an important lesson--one that will free her to make and repent of her own mistakes later on--but it is one that hurts right now.

We took an easy day for school--still maintaining our usual routines of preschool storytime, chores, Morning Meeting, and Symposium.

Rose Red joined us for Symposium now that she's done with Spanish, and I laughed at her question, "Is this all you do?  Color and listen to music?" as we settled in with SQUILT and our knights and castle coloring pages from yesterday.  We definitely did more than color and listen to music!  And we finished the first chapter of King Arthur--about King Pellinore and Excalibur.  Then then everyone ages 7 and up drew a picture of a favorite scene from the reading while everyone 6 and under narrated to me and drew a picture in their journals.

The rest of the day was busy with Christmas work.

In the evening we read about the ghost of Christmas past in A Christmas Carol.

Everything has been wrong today.

I overslept--sleeping so hard that Sir Walter Scott actually checked me to see if I was still breathing.

I was.

I am. :)

Sleepiness is a side effect of my medication.  It has a fierce hold on me lately.

Ladybug is acting like she used to when she first lived with us.  She's lying, whining, complaining, and tantruming every few minutes, and I had to hold her deeply with my whole body for one of her fits  I haven't had to do that for months.

I had to do the same for Brother, too.

He ate playdough--which wasn't that big of a deal--but he freaked out when we told him to stop.  He returned to his horrible banshee cry, and I had to hold him tightly to keep him from damaging me, the house, and himself.

Little Brother is covering his ears, rocking back and forth, and making strange noises over and over again.  He's jumping, yelping, and jerking away from any touch.

The babies have cried and cried, and only being rocked to sleep would console them.

My lower back aches badly.

I feel sick to my stomach--I ate a handful of M&Ms this morning--perhaps candy doesn't make a good breakfast . . . even if I did follow it up with a bowl of cereal.

I feel lost and confused.  I'm struggling to focus my eyes and my mind.

Most of my crew (the babies are out of camera range) gathered for Symposium.

Morning Meeting and Symposium went well enough today, but I'm worried that my choice of How the Grinch Stole Christmas for our preschool story of the week was a bad idea.  We've talked about being grateful and how "Christmas doesn't come from a store," so that's been good, but Mister Man has been asking me questions about being robbed (like the Grinch did to the Whos), and Brother has been very worried that someone can come and take Christmas away from us.

I've been as reassuring as I can be, but there's tension . . .

Today just feels wrong.

The babies are napping, and lunch is heating.  The older girls are working on their independent school subjects, and the medium/little kids are bundled up and running around outside.

It still feels so wrong . . . wonky . . . off-kilter.

I'm not sure whether to pop some popcorn and put on a Christmas movie or bundle everyone back up after lunch and take us all on a hike.

The hike might be a better idea.

But I'm off to serve lunch first.

The weather is cold, and a freezing drizzle is falling.  We won't be out exploring, and now I'm worried about my teens who are driving up north with friends to go to the teen homeschool Christmas party.

I'm off; the kids are off; it's not a great day.

But my husband will be home later, and I've texted my sister, so I'm not an isolated, scary psych-case.

Actually I am a psych-case--it's in my medical records--but I've got loving support, so I'm okay.  We're all okay :)

It's just a hard day.

But tomorrow will be new.

(Linking here)

Friday, December 9, 2016

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,  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  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  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)