A Week, Briefly (In Which We Have a Picnic)

The overriding memory of Monday was the lack of stress in the late afternoon that I usually feel.

I kind of felt at loose ends.

Rose Red did her schoolwork in good time, and came to me for help when she needed it instead of kicking and fussing her way through the day.

I'd forgotten what it felt like to be done with school by 3:00 pm.

And the babies both napped.

I emptied and loaded the dishwasher, processed 5 loads of laundry, worked on some reviews, baked homemade bread, made a couple of gallons of vegetable soup, and visited with a church friend.

That was so weird . . . so refreshing!

I hope she does her schoolwork earlier in the day and with a cooperative spirit again this week!

Mister Man is reading and building and crafting a lot on his own these days.  Every once in a while I sit down and read with him and have him narrate to me, but for the most part he just gobbles up what he needs as he encounters it.  On Monday he read an Usborne abridgement of Around the World in 80 Days, played in the dirt, climbed trees, wrote letters, drew with sidewalk chalk, made ghosts out of scrap fabric for every member of the family, read from an elementary reading anthology about cats, and went on a walk with Belle and Theo.

I guess his world is rich and stimulating.

Don't really know why I worry about whether I'm teaching him well enough.

For the preschoolers we're still reading fairy tales--this week it's The Frog Prince and Little Red Riding Hood.

Academy was about birds this week.  On Monday we identified what makes a bird a bird and laughed our brains out when I kept trying to convince the kids that the various animals we looked at in our Kingfisher Animal Encylopedia were birds.  They used their new classification knowledge to explain why a camel is not a bird and why an owl is one.  They thought it was hilarious when I tried to convince them that we are birds because we have two legs--just like birds do.

In Symposium we practiced Spanish greetings, studied The Scream by Edvard Munch, and read about the Abassid Dynasty and the coming forth of The 1001 Arabian Nights.   My favorite part of the meeting was hearing Rose Red tell her favorite stories to the younger girls--she was passionate about telling them accurately.  She came to life as she talked.

Nature Angel and Little Princess did another Creating a Masterpiece project--this time it was a cabin drawn with oil pastels

Dad read stories  . . . and Lola fell asleep.

Little Princess wants to finish her math book.  She did math for a couple of hours, knocking out 2 or 3 weeks worth of assignments.

Math is definitely her forte.

I've been mulling over what to do with her when she finishes this book, and I've decided not to purchase anything to fill in the space.  Instead I'll try to be available to her for some sewing/crafting lessons and try to keep my mind and kitchen open to letting her cook a bit.  We'll simply hold the space for learning and see what opportunities come our way that we might have said no to if we were worried about finishing a math book

Nature Angel did another Creating a Masterpiece art project.  She's loving this membership and is determined to make the most of it.  She is happiest when she is creating.

The littles spent the whole morning outside, with only small breaks to come in for individual school with me and a brief Academy session that we held outdoors.

We kept up our bird theme by listening to the bazillions of bird calls we can hear right now and by studying a little bird identification guide published by our state department of conservation.  We chose birds that we've seen at our feeder and looked closely at their beaks and their coloring so that we'll be more likely to recognize them when we see them in real life again.

The littles were so, so, so excited to try to mimic the various bird calls they could hear.  We don't have a clue which call belongs to which bird, but that will come in time as we train our ears to hear the different calls first.

Brother read his first word today--"man."

He did not recognize that it was a word!

He thought he was just playing with sounds.

I spent some time with him helping him hear how the sounds went together and made a word that he already knows, and his face lit up like Christmas!

This feels like the beginning of something good.

Brother and Lola shared a magazine experience together.
Symposium focused on all things Viking, and we switched our geography focus from Asia to Europe.

We identified a bird at our feeder as a house finch.  Too pretty!

photo found on the internet

Little Princess and Ladybug were my potato scrubbers in the late afternoon.  I was glad to have their help because I've lost my cooking groove . . . I'm in the mood for pizza pretty much every night. :)

Not that we're having pizza every night!

Baked potatoes loaded with plain yogurt, shredded cheese, and salsa were a delicious, inexpensive alternative.

We read some more of A Scarlet Letter in the evening.  Nature Angel and Little Princess are kind of young for it, but they're really trying to understand, and I think we'll read something light and younger next.

We celebrated Valentine's Day.

Sir Walter Scott worked on the actual holiday, so we moved it to a day that worked for us.

We'd made our valentines on Sunday afternoon, and I'd purchased the treats on Saturday, so once I got the clues ready for our treasure hunt we were ready to go.

My favorite clue was:

This game?  Big girls, try not to spoil it
When you have to search for a clue by the toilet.

I write a batch of new, cheesy clues like this every year, but I may have to start saving them because I'm running out of creative couplet clues.

Once we'd run through the clues and found the hidden chocolate, we settled into the living room to eat and exchange valentines.

Silly teens turned the clues into tails.
Helping the littles hand make 13 valentines each is a stressful hassle that make me wonder why we do this every year . . . but then the chance comes for the kids to share their valentines with one another, and I realize it was worth every moment of craziness.  This year it was Lola who captured my heart with her exuberance as she handed out her valentines one by one.  Not one of us could resist her darling, happy smile.

But neither could we capture in on the camera either.

Her smiles are ephemeral.

Brother and Ladybug had just enough time for a bit of phonics each before heading out the door to therapy, and then Little Brother and Mister Man disappeared into the back yard to play games with dump trucks so intently that I never heard a peep from them until I called them in to lunch nearly 3 hours later.

That's some good play.

I set up Lola and Baymax with some toys to try to distract them from their usual mischief.

As usual, it worked for about 2 minutes.

Little Princess finished her math book!!!

In Symposium we worked on spelling in Spanish, studied Michaelangelo's David, and ran through a rapid review of British history focusing on Alfred the Great.

The older girls all had to work on school through the afternoon because of our celebration in the morning, but I headed off to the fabric store to get supplies for poodle skirts--the 4 big girls all have 50's dances to attend this weekend.

Youth night at the church took the big girls off while the younger kids and I went to bed early.

Individual studies filled the morning.

Brother and I are reviewing the process of sounding out a word every day.  Each day he sees the same word, and overnight he forgets it.  This is a classic FASD learning struggle (he is not diagnosed with FASD, but his older half brother has a diagnosis of FAS, and all of the siblings demonstrate some FASD behaviors),  but he's catching on to so much other learning, that I'm confident he'll get it in time.

So, we're taking our time to review and review and review.

He loves it.

And I love seeing his happy face during school each day.

Nature Angel is struggling with long division.  I think we'll take a break from her textbook and work on the times tables some more.

Then we danced.

We picked up take-and-bake pizza on the way home and had a pizza picnic outside because it was 70 degrees!!!

A long, lazy evening enjoying as much sun and blue sky as possible . . . just in case winter makes a comeback.

I cancelled Symposium because the older girls have to help with the church camp fundraiser, and Pixie and Sir Walter Scott are headed out the door for a Daddy-Daughter dance at the church, too.  In addition, Rose Red will be leaving to help as a server at the dance, so we're moving in too many directions to get everything done.

The littles and I made bird feeders for Academy

Before we worked, we read Sweep Up the Sun--an absolutely beautiful picture book with many of the birds we see regularly at our feeder.

Little Princess is reading Lumbercamp Library, a book that is part of her language arts curriculum.  It is gut-wrenching, and while Little Princess is totally taken by the story, she cried many times over the tragedies the family faces.  It is a story she will remember forever.

Mister Man and I are still searching for a regular "school" activity to do together.  We've been all over the board with activities we've started and stopped and picked up and dropped again.  Right how we're playing with activities at  Easy-Peasy-All-In-One-Homeschool.

We got through all of our usual individual school.

And we played outside in the sunshine . . . again!

The kid have been in-line skating . . . but we're out of wrist splints and elbow pads, which led to . . .

 . . . matching useless right arms.
 Fortunately, Nature Angel's fracture is quite minor, and she might even be out of the cast in 2 weeks.

What a February we're having!

(linking here)


  1. Don't feel bad about the arm splint/casts. I was on a a speed skating (inline) team for years. Even though we wore all the protective equipment, we were told over and over, that the arm guards just put the fractures up the arm further. (At the top of the arm guard.)

    1. Thank you! I actually do feel better now! It's good to know I'm not a truly slacker mom. :)

  2. I really love your blog. It's one of the firsts I look for on Friday afternoons when I sit down in the evening to chill out. So transparent and inspiring. Thank you for being authentic. You mentioned a bit ago about one of your younger boys really loving an early reading curriculum or abc curriculum. Would you mind sharing what that is? I'm always on the lookout for great things for my 5 year old. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you. The reading curriculum is one that I get to review, so there will be a whole big post about it coming soon, but it's from Eclectic Foundations. Brother is using Level A. I love it because it is very simple, very repetitive, and very plain--all black and white with no distracting graphics.

  3. What weather you are having!--much warmer than here. Fun to talk to Nature Angel today and get the low-down on the arm... hopefully they will all learn how to be safe before summer hits! I had to look up FASD. So now I know. So happy all the kids are showing so much progress.

    1. It was so fun to listen to her end of the conversation as you guys talked together. I love that even though we live far apart, they know you and enjoy sharing their lives with you.

  4. Your posts always make me smile. Sorry about Nature Angel's arm but at least it is a minor facture. Your Valentine's clues remind me of the one's my hubby used to write for the kids' Easter egg hunt. Good luck with bird calls - for some reason I find calls harder to learn than visual marks.

    1. Yeah, learning the calls isn't high on my list, but the kids really like mimicking them, and I can pick out a cardinal on a good day. We'll just see what we can learn and not worry about the rest.

  5. Some truely joyful moments this week. Hooray for Brother learning about sounds and words. The matching broken arms would be tragic, but they are both smiling and don't look too distressed. I hope PIxie's arm heals fast. I'm sure her sisters miss her hair dos and spa days. Love the art work. Mister Man's days sound like pure boy heaven. And, I hope you have many days like your Monday - that sounded like heaven for you. Hugs to you all.

    1. They're more distressed than the picture shows, but I'm proud of them both and how they are rising to the challenge. Hugs right back to you. :)

  6. Whoops! Sorry about the cast. I don't make my kids wear pads to ride, although I probably should.

    Congrats on finishing the math book! It's always so exciting to be DONE with a book.

    1. Well, I felt guilty until I read Kristine's comment above. Now I'm letting the kids skate again and recognizing that accidents happen no matter what. :)

  7. What an awesome week. I've been in a pizza mood recently too. Sometimes life just gets tiring ~oy! We just finished Edvard Munch too. The kids really liked "the Scream".
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. How funny that we both studied Edvard Munch at the same time . . . I wonder what the odds are. Here's hoping we both find our cooking mojos again.


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