5.19.2017

Bathroom Complete!

So way back last summer, I shared this mood board of the bathroom renovation. And then I left ya



hanging. Sorry! The bathroom was 98% done by December and we've had several guests use it but we had some issues getting the shower door installed and I was being stubborn about sharing pictures until it was done.  But today, we had success! The shower door is installed and I can happily say the bathroom is 100% done. Which is more done that any other room in the house because I've always got projects and plans filed away in the deep recesses of my brain. This was that "someday way down the road" project when we first moved in so it still seems a bit surreal that its happened but I love it! And I think guests that visit will too. Okay, enough jabbering, some pictures.



Ignore the rest of the basement behind me. It's not as pretty but baby steps!









 It's got Pluto! But its supposed to be retro and Pluto was a real planet back in the 50s ;-)


This shot above is probably the most accurate color. It's more of a teal than the blue that the other pictures show. 


I pretty much stuck to the mood board. We did end up having to go with a different mirror. Because of the window, we needed a short height and the studs there were not in a good place and most "bathroom" mirrors needed studs but just when I was about to fall into the depths of despair, I found this just sitting in Target, for much less than I had budgeted for! Craig also helped me make the shelves. Now we have a guest bedroom* and a bathroom so anyone want to come visit?

*I could have sworn I put up the "after" pictures for the basement bedrooms Craig remodeled for me but I can't find them. Will do that soon!

5.16.2017

A Little Nature, A Little Photography

Our break time adventures have been a little less adventurousness this break but we did finally get out of the house and to the botanical gardens today. It was the perfect day for it. Not too hot for walking around in the morning but by the time we made it over to the splash pads, it was not too chilly for that. Our nature study topic is fish so we had to swing by the Koi feeding bridge. These guys were huge! I mean, the size of a dog huge! You really can't tell from the pictures. And we actually got to feed them thanks to a couple who were finishing up and gave their extras to the kids. (I'm really not too cheap to buy the $0.25 of food from the dispenser but I never remember to bring a quarter. Same with Aldi!)


I took a few pictures for Lucy to draw later because Norah was determined to climb in over the bridge so it really wasn't a good time to stop and draw right there 





Those were all phone pictures but I actually brought my camera and took some nice pictures of the kids. And don't they clean up nice!




 




I stopped doing all the editing/cropping after this point but I had to include a few more because you see how quickly a photo session with three kids turns to chaos. But I actually love this next one maybe best of all of the group shots. 











5.12.2017

Things I Love: Primary

I am very picky when it comes to kids clothing. I like well-made, bright and colorful clothing that makes it easy for kids to play. I feel like this should be easier to find that it often is. Fun patterns like stripes or polka dots are okay but I'm not a big fan of characters or words. And I keep kids wardrobes very small. I could be trendy and say I use the capsule wardrobe system but really, its just common sense. Unless you want to be washing tons of clothes and picking them up when they spread them all over the floor trying to find that favorite pair of shorts, don't buy tons of clothes for your kids!)

Of course, I've got to compromise, Jonah's in a big super hero phase and I think three out of the four articles of clothing he wore to the grocery store had batman on it and that's okay, they can have opinions...I say that like I allow it but honestly, they'd have opinions even if I didn't allow it. Pretty strong ones too. I guess my selectiveness has rubbed off on them because boy are they are picky too!

 Lucy likes play dresses and skirts but nothing bunchy or thick. Jonah likes black and grey. And more black and grey. He's really particular about fit which is hard because he's super skinny! And he doesn't like anything on his shirts normally. Current exception being superheroes or things he's asked me to paint on them (like the wild thing shirt I've made in two sizes that he still squeezes into). Until these new ones came, the only three shirts he would wear were all handmade ones that barely fit but I haven't had time lately to sew more. Norah should be the easy one but she's already giving me her opinion about clothes and insisting on picking out her own stuff. Lucy really likes it when Norah matches her and now Jonah's starting to feel like he needs to match too. What I'm saying is  - it's a crazy mess trying to get people dressed around here!

In the past, we've done a lot of Hannah Andersson stuff and I still love it Hanna but it's pricey. They tend to get it for presents or I find things on ebay. Another issue I have with Hannah stuff is that the majority of the dresses in the summer tend to be strappy which doesn't fit with our family's modesty standards. So when I saw Primary clothing, I was intrigued. But I didn't know anyone who actually ordered from there so I just kept it in the back of my mind. Recently they had a free shipping/free return promo (although now it looks like its sticking around! yay!)  so I figured I had nothing to lose.

So far, I love it. The kids love it! I didn't take any pictures specifically for this post. I just grabbed some I took on my phone the last few weeks. It wasn't hard because they are the first ones they grab these days.  


Jonah got a grey and a black tee, a pair pair of red shorts and a pair of orange gym shorts. He seems happy enough to wear colors for bottoms which helps prevent the "preschool emo" look he's had recently.


Lucy has a purple sleeveless tee dress, a red short sleeve dress and a blue tee (the regular, not the slim) and green pocket skirt. The pocket skirt is my favorite, I just think it is adorable. Plus a bunch of undershorts. I really like the fit of the undershorts, they are shorter but not too tight. She also got a few of the non-knit items and liked them okay but when I said if she didn't like them as much as the knit, we could send them back and get knit, she asked to do that. So we'll be getting a few knit more dresses and skirts. She's normally in a 6/7 so that's what I ordered and it fits but is a tad short (she's on the tall/skinny side) so I do think I'll go up a size next time.



I didn't try any clothes for Norah as she had lots of hand me downs but now that I know what Lucy likes, I will probably add a few matching dresses in for Norah on our next order. Jonah's already requested "more grey shirts so I don't have to wait for you to wash them." And we didn't try pajamas but I love 100% cotton pajamas so I'm sure it won't be long. 



Overall, I love the idea - and the execution. The prices are reasonable, especially if you buy multiples. The quality is great. The thickness of the cotton is spot-on. So much these days is really thin and the kids rip right through it but as I've said, Lucy is very particular about things being "too thick" but no complaint here. The fact that I can now get comfy dresses for my girls in colors like orange and green is amazing!

And just so you know, this isn't a sponsored review. Primary didn't send me or give me anything nor as I am affiliate (although if that's a thing, I'l like to be!). I just held back on buying it for too long because I was unsure but this family gives Primary Clothing two thumbs up!

5.09.2017

Classics Challenge: The Faerie Queen

I did it! This former non-poetry girl has conquered her first epic poem! It took Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen (Book 1) but I did it. And I liked it. Now, I won't say how many attempts of other epic poems I've attempted and given up on because we're being positive here but I do think several things contributed to my success this time. 1) I read it slowly with a group. It took us four months but we narrated it together and discussed which helped. 2) I'm kinda already on a middle ages kick right now.  Mostly because I'm reading through the history and literature selections of Ambleside Online year 7 but now that it's on the brain, I'm listening and reading about it in other places as well. I really enjoyed this Circe Podcast in which Angelina Stanford talks about the Celtic influence and medieval Christian Allegory. I think it helped me a lot as I read through this poem. 3) I used Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves which updates the spelling and gives sidenotes for other words that you might (probably will!) need help on. It also has a few footnotes to help you out.  4) Lastly, it just so happens that St. George and the Dragon is one of the kid's favorite picture books which is the same story. So I was at least familiar with some of the characters and the basic idea although the picture book leaves some stuff out, understandable.
This piece really stretched me. It was also very enjoyable. It took some effort to find a balance between really digging deep and working on getting the meat out of it and sometimes stepping back and saying, "Okay, I got the gist and that's good enough." 

Luckily, I wasn't reading just for some soul enlightening allergorical enlightenment. I mean, that was there and it was really good especially when it came time for discussion. It's deep and gives you lots to think about...and this coming from someone who has to fake her enthusiasm for Pilgrim's Progress because her second grader loves it and she doesn't want to dampen that. I know, President Lincoln would be ashamed to have his picture hanging in our living room. 

 But, I was engrossed in the story itself. I wrung my hands when the Red Cross made some stupid decisions. "No! Don't do it!" I cringed at some of the uglier parts. "Well, that doesn't sound very pleasant at all. Now let's move on before I vomit" and then I rejoiced at the happy ending! (Sorry if that's a spoiler ;-) I look forward to reading this again with my kids in a few years and hearing their narrations and ideas about it. 

This was my Back to the Classics Challenge Pre-1800 Classic. Visit Books and Chocolate for more classic reviews. 

5.01.2017

School's out for summer! (Ambleside Online Year 2 Term 1 Exams)

Actually, that should read School's out UNTIL summer but that doesn't have the same ring. I'm not sure how long this break will last but probably at least through May. I'd be fine waiting to start the next term until July although we tend to have attitude issues if let our routine slip too much so I'll be playing it be ear.

To be honest, we kinda limped over the finish line of this term and not really for school reasons. We did manage to get through exams but I didn't do much prep work. I don't normally mix up the exams too much just make a few edits or additions so that it reflects what we focused on a bit more and gives her a chance to really shine (like adding more picture narrations, etc). I actually wanted to skip exams but she insisted. And I'm glad she did.

Which is why I'm doing this post. I need to do this so I don't get discouraged. April kinda chewed me up and spit me out. But there is really no reason for us to be discouraged when it comes to school! We did have a great term until the last few two weeks. And really, her exams are quite good.

Bible:

 Tell about how God created everything.         
So one time there was just nothing, just space all over the place. There was nothing. Nothing at all. And then He created the light and dark. And then he created the world. And then he created Adam. And then he created Eve. And then the next day he just rested.

 Tell the story of the flood.
God said to a man named Noah build an ark because there is going to be a flood. And so he built the ark and they went and the flood came and they were safe in the ark. And God said bring two animals of each kind of animal and put them in the ark. So when the flood came they were safe in the ark. The end. (Jonah interrupts, "You forgot the dove" Lucy: Well, it's up to me and I don't want to add it. But fine, okay.) So it began to dry up and so he sent a dove away and it came back and he sent it a couple times and one time it didn’t come back so Noah knew that it had found a place to live. There. 

What did we read in Matthew about the birth and very early life of Christ?
So an angel came to Mary, the angel’s name was Gabriel and he said you are going to have a baby and you will call him Jesus. And so she had a baby in a manger, in a stable, where donkeys and cows and oxen lived. And an angel went to the shepherds and said “come to the stable because Jesus was born” and there were some wise men and they saw a big star and they followed the star and came to the stable where they saw Jesus. There. Done. (She wanted exams but she's had a rough few weeks too ;-)

Writing/Penmanship
     Write your fox poem and illustrate

I don't normally select her copywork from her own writings but for this exam, I made an exception. This is the first stanza of the 4 stanza poem she wrote for American Heritage Girl's creative writing badge:


History

   Tell about William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings.
Okay, so he came and he fell down and he scooped up some dirt. Then he said “I’ve already concurred the land, I have some dirt!” and he was not a good king. And he took some land where they used to be houses and he took the houses away and made it hunting land and the people were mad. There.

Tell the story of the White Ship.
So the king and his son were in a place and they wanted to go back home and they had to take a ship. And then a man said there is another ship called the white ship so why doesn’t your son go on this ship so he said okay. So it started to sink and everyone else was drowning, even the prince and only one man survived, he was safe.
  
Tell about little 'Lias.

So he wasn’t very tidy, he was all dirty. And he lived with a man that was not nice. And Betsy and Molly and some other people in her school sewed clothes, nice new clothes that were like trousers and shirt and that and socks and they put them at his house and knocked on the door and ran away back home and they hide and looked and he took the big bundle of clothes. And then next time they saw him they were, well, he looked even messier because his skin was dirtier but his clothes were clean but the next time he came he was all clean. This other boy had given him a bath at a swimming pool at the school and then Betsy and the girls and this one boy and some grown-ups found him and he didn’t have nice clothes on again. “The person that I live with took my clothes away and sell them to get money”. And the man said, I’ll take you to get new clothes.” The end.

Tell about two things Christian saw in the House of the Interpreter, or about Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

So here are two things Christian saw in the Interpreter. Well there was a man that had a bad dream, he was getting out of his bed. And there was a man in the cage. He saw a castle. He saw a man with a book and a crown on his head. And he saw a very dusty room and he saw the two kids, one of them wanted stuff now and the other wanted stuff later. One was called Patience.

So Mr. Wordly Wiseman sent him off to a place where there was fire and the hill was going to fall over his head. Mr. Wordly Wiseman did that, he said, “That’s the way to go.” And Christian met Evangelist and he said “You are going the wrong way, go back to the road you started on and go along that road”

She loves Pilgrim's Progress and is doing a wonderful job on the map she is making as part of her narration.



.
Geography
    What is a butte? Can you describe one? Or, Tell everything you know about the plains.
Some Indians used to live there and it was in the middle of a buffalo track. It was flat. Grass and there was only the one tree. There weren’t a lot of trees.  

Tree in the Trail hasn't been a favorite. She doesn't complain about it but neither of us really seemed to connect with it, at least not yet. We were able to go to a trail museum in Kansas City on a recent road trip and I think that helped spur up a bit of interest that will help us finish strong with it. We have enjoyed adding things to our blank map of the United States and connecting the trail with local rivers and cities she recognizes but again, the no prep part meant I didn't include that as part of the exam and I probably should have because I'm pretty sure I would seen that she did make some good geography connections. Next term maybe?


Packing our wagon to head west. Can we get in all the essentials before it's too full? Or before Norah steals them all away?

   Describe a compass. What does it tell us?
It tells us which directions. So there is a circle and then it’s like, there is an arrow and you want to line the arrow up to the N which is North and then whichever way you are going, it’s gonna be like that. And there is North West and North East and South East and South West and all those. And you can be going those ways too, you’ll just know which way you are going.

One of the big highlights of the new van is that it has a compass on the rear view mirror. They are super excited about this! When I announce a turn, they'll see what direction we are going and try to guess which way we'll end up after the turn. Lucy is pretty much always right; Jonah's got about a 10% accuracy rating ;-) It's kinda like him and getting shoes on the right feet, you think random chance would give him a better probability than real life shows. 

Natural History and General Science

  Describe a favorite nature walk, and tell about something you found.
I didn’t really find anything much, anything interesting. Mom gives a look. Well, I went on a long long hike and I found some interesting rocks, a blue rock, it was tealish. It was sandstone but it was blueish. And I picked up a piece. I also found a round rock. And I drew a dogwood blossom in my nature journal.

      Tell what you know about a squirrel or a beaver.
So a beaver cuts down trees and he makes a dam and he lives in a pond and he goes on land and cuts down trees and has a big flat tail. His front feet are not webbed but the back feet are webbed. The dam is made out of sticks and mud and his house is made out of sticks and, uhm, he cuts down the bark and he eats it.

The same trail museum I mentioned earlier had a stuffed beaver and some pelts so we were able to see one up close and feel the fur just a few days after we read about it. I thought she'd mention the orange teeth because she mentioned her original narration included that and its oddness and then we saw it and, yes, they are really orange!

We're also really enjoying the Burgess Animal Book and making our animal tree with the stickers for this coloring book.

 She doesn't want to color them the way she did the birds but I think that might change as we get past all the mice. Apparently the mice are all boring brown, so there!  But in terms of caring, she clearly does. And while we didn't do too many nature walks, we did lots of nature around the house with our baby chicks and vermin and all that.



 But I'd like to get back to walking and drawing pretty things like flowers and butterflies. I also plan on doing a lot of the next term's fish study while we are on the break itself because field trips are easier so we started early going through the basics of fish anatomy.



Foreign Language
  Recite or sing something you have learned in your foreign language. Uhm, here is where the lack of preparing on my part combined with no french for two weeks kinda killed us .

Lucy, can you just make up a sentence in french using words you know? (That is a terrible narration prompt. Fellow moms, don't follow my example, don't do this to your child!):

Uhm, Une fleur et deux crayon et trois le livres et quatre le cahiers. 
(One flower and two pencils and three the books and four the notebooks)...eh, works for me!

Okay, I'm going to say something and you respond:
Mom: Le Christe est ressuscite! (Christ is Risen!)
Lucy: En verite, il est  ressuscite! (Indeed, He is Risen!)

French was probably our low point of the term. I like our program a lot but Jonah started speech therapy so I cut French out of the days we take him so that our days weren't too long. It really needs to be daily. Since we only do school 4x a week, going down to twice a week really halted our momentum and she got frustrated being on a section so long and still not knowing it. But no speech over the summer means a chance for more consistency! 

Picture Study
   Describe your favorite picture from this term's picture study.

I liked the one of the painting of a statue that had the two things in each hand. And the painting was all colored grey, like a real statue. And then under the picture of the statue was some smaller pictures. It was the injustice one. 



Recitation
     Father should choose a poem, and two Bible verses learned this term for student to recite. 

She recited the Vulture. The only new bible memory we worked on was The Apostle's Creed. She really enjoyed that because now she can follow along when we say it at church. We mostly did lots of review of old passages because I found they were forgetting them since we have so many. I'm not sure what the solution to this because I don't want to have to review 5 old selections every day to get through them all in a reasonable amount of time. 

Singing
    Sing your favorite folksong and hymn from this term.

We really enjoyed our hymns and folk songs this term and I think we got a good portion of each actually memorized. Everyone adored Swag Upon My Shoulder and we still sing it all the time around the house. We are now in level B of Solfa and really enjoying it as well as piano lessons but no exam prep meant sadly, this was left out of exams. 

We did a ton of Art projects and started some drawing lessons. 

Mom confession. I took this picture then went to place it back on her shelf but dropped it and broke off all four legs. I put it back on her shelf and I hope she doesn't notice. Oops. 

Her bas relief cat climbing a tree.


Jonah's dragon. 


We're still working through Artistic Pursuits and enjoying it. We also did a whole lot of chalk pastel tutorials from HodgePodge and Lucy's hoping to get a bigger set of pastels for her birthday this month. 

Jonah's springtime nest


Jonah (L) and Lucy (R) St. Patrick's Day Art. 

Handicrafts

 Show some work in handicrafts from this term to someone outside your family.


 We've already given away some potholders but this is her latest creation. She's started to do some patterns but I've got to order more specific colors so she can have enough to do her next idea. She really wants to do sewing next so I gotta get excited about that. (I mean, I love the idea of teaching her sewing. I don't love the idea of trying to teach her sewing with two inquisitive little tag-alongs making a mess of my craft room.)

Overall, Year 2 books are quite a big step up but she's doing good. Little Duke is a challenge but we're getting through it. I'm still working to find that balance in how long of a passage to read. Last year she wanted short passages and tried to fit in every detail she could remember. This term, I really tried to stretch it out in most of the books and overall that's good, she's not getting so caught up in the details and stressing out about being perfect. Understood Betsy became much more enjoyable when she didn't try and "narrate" each conversation but I don't want to go to the other side of that and miss details either, or feel like we're just reading through them to get it done and I think I've started to overshoot toward too long and a couple times I've looked at the clock and realized we'd been going way too long so I need to be more contentious at limiting us to 15 minutes on a book. It's a hard balance for two perfectionists!

I didn't do any math exam questions because - prep. Ack. But she's doing good. We switched Math to the afternoon when Norah is still asleep. That helped a lot! She has always loved math so it was hard seeing her struggle a few months ago but when I took a step back, I could see the struggle was not with the math, it was with the craziness that comes with trying to do it while working around a toddler. Now she and I can sit and she can do a lot in 20 minutes with no issues at all and life is good again.

And that's a wrap on First Grade! We finished exams and she turned to me and said, "Am I in Second Grade now?" and I realized that yes, she is!

I don't want to neglect Jonah either. He's doing great. He's really interested in words and spelling things. His speech is improving all the time. He's always wanted to tag along with art projects but his drawings are looking really great (and I'm no longer having to figure out what it is without him realizing it! That's always nerve wracking for a parent!). He's only got 2-3 lessons left on MEP Reception. I'm gonna have to get a couple Kumon workbooks or something until he's ready for Year 1 as Math is probably the most requested thing around here. These kids, they keep me busy.