Lucy's Year 1 Term 2 Exams

Here are Lucy's Year 1, Term 2 exams. I used the ones on Ambleside Online for the most part, with a few tweaks here and there. With the exception of the drawings and copywork, the whole thing was an oral exam, spread over three days. I tried to capture her spirit in the transcriptions but for some of it, you really just have to be there ;-) 

And you can tell in a few spots she got upset because she couldn't remember. Our exams are very low key and she really enjoys them overall, but she has trouble with anything that doesn't come very easily. But we worked through it and I think it is good for both of us.


1.    Tell one story about David.

David and Goliath. So, there was going to be an army because the Philistines were coming to attack them so everyone thought... But everyone was too afraid to fight Goliath because he was a giant. But David was a boy and his name was David and he said “I’ll fight” but everyone laughed and said “No, you can’t fight you are too little.” But he said “No! I will fight!” So he went to a little creek, river thing, and he got five stones and he took one and put it in his sling and threw it at goliath and hit goliath and he fell down.

2.    Tell about the wise men from the East.

So the wise men saw a star and went to the King and said, “Can we go?” And he said, “Go over and see him and then come back to me and see me and tell me where he is so I can come and worship him.” So they went and they saw him and they gave him gifts of gold, silver and myrrh. And they praised him and they went back but they went back a different way because they knew the king was not going to worship him for real.

3.    Can you tell me what two parts the bible is divided into? What does that mean?

New Testament and Old Testament. Old promise and new promise. Old Testament is that he would save the people and new land. New Testament they would go to heaven, that’s the new land in that part.


Read If All the World were Apple Pie to daddy 


1.    Tell a fable.

So, there was a fox and a leopard and after dinner they were sitting and talking about who was the best. And the leopard said” I think I’m the best because I have this nice coat of spots.” And the fox liked his tail so he didn’t…they were arguing. And the fox said, “Leopard, you have a pretty coat but you are being kind of annoying, kinda rude.”

2.    Tell the story of Grace Darling.

One day there was a girl and her dad. They lived at a watch house (lighthouse) and they saw a ship and there was a storm. And she said, “We MUST try to save them!” and the dad said, “We can’t they are miles away from us” and she said “We must try!” And they got on the rowboat and they rowed and rowed and they got to the ship and then they got the man onto their little rowboat and they rowed and rowed and rowed and rowed back. That’s the end.

4.    Tell me the story of the Elephant's Child, First Letter, or Armadillos.

The first letter because that’s the silliest one. And one day there was a person and his wife and his daughter. And one day he went out to catch fish. But when they were catching fish, the dad had a spear to catch fish but it broke and then a stranger appeared. She, the daughter, said, “Please get the spear and get it for me”. And he didn’t do anything. And he said “Oopph” and she said “okay” and he handed her this piece of bark thing and she drew a picture and said “I want you to go to our cave where the beavers are” and she drew a picture of the beavers and the spear in his hand but it looked like it was in the dad’s back. And the beavers looked like people and there were three spears in the picture. And he came to the house and he showed him the picture and she was like “AHHH!” and they sat on him and pulled his hair and filled his head with mud and said “lead us to the place” and they said “where were the people, where were the spears? Where is everything else?” And the girl, her name was Taffy, said “Oh I’m sorry, that was my picture. The people are my beavers and the pictures of the spear wasn’t meant to be in his back for real” and then they all laughed. And the chief said “Okay”. And taffy said “You did not bring daddy’s spear although you brought every other spear in the whole town”.

     3. Draw a picture narration for Aladdin and the Magic Lamp OR The Glass Slipper.

Those are the men walking to the palace with the treasures. The sultan is up in the window watching them. Aladdin's mom is on the lower right side, with the lamp in her bag.

1.     Tell the story of Dick Whittington, Picciola, or Antonio Canova.

Picciola. There once was a person who was in jail. And he felt like…and he was walking and saw a plant and almost stepped on it but he said “oh, how nice of a plant this is “but it was struggling because the rocks were in the way so he said “oh dear, that plant” so he watched it and named it Picciola. And he took care of it and one day, “hmm, the plant is going to die because we can’t’ move the stones away of the jail. But, what are we going to do with my little plant?” And then, I’ll skip a part because I can’t think. So the jailer took down the stones to let the plant grow and be free. I’ll skip another. And he, the man, was out of the jail and happy and took care of his plant and he liked it.  
(Sidenote: I remembered incorrectly that the man’s name was picciola and the plant was named something else so I actually asked Lucy and she said “No, the plant is picciola,” I looked it up and she was right! So she may have forgotten some parts and just decided to skip them but she still did better than me on this one!)

2.     Tell how the Giant's Dance was brought to England, or how Arthur became king.

Lucy: I can’t remember those things at all. What do I do? I don’t know!

Me: Stay calm, let’s see. You drew the picture about Arthur and showed it to daddy, does that help you remember which story it is?

Lucy: Oh yeah, the rock guy. Okay. So there were all arguing who should be king after Uther pendragon had died. So they were arguing and then Merlin came and said, “This person will be king”. And everyone didn’t think that was a good idea. And then Merlin went away and everyone followed him and they followed until there were more and more and more people following until they came to this place. And it had a big rock. And in the rock was a sword but the rock had not been there before. And the boy’s name, the person’s name who Merlin wanted to be king, his name was Arthur. And everyone else tried to pull the sword out because whoever pulled the sword out would be king and everyone tried but they could not do it, it was soooo hard. And they tried and tried. And then Arthur came and he pulled it out so easily and he wasn’t even tired at all. And they all said “Yes! Yes yes yes, he will be king. He will be king! Yes!” so they were happy and he was king.


1.    Find Lake Michigan on a map? Where is Missouri on the same map? 
2.    Explain how locks help ships between St. Mary's River and Lake Huron.

So the boat goes into this place and it makes the water low so that the boat can go so it doesn’t go too fast down the water then, ifs its long then they can do a few locks in a row. (lots of arm motions accompanied this one J )

3.     Tell how you might tell the direction by looking at the sky.

With what’s the north star you can tell what is north and then you can tell what the other directions are. If it wasn’t nighttime, the sun. The sun sets North, wait no, West. The sun sets that way (points), that’s the west.

4.     Find the continents of Africa and Europe on the map. Find the countries of Canada, United States, United Kingdom. 

Natural History and General Science

1.    Describe your favorite nature study find this term.

Jonah: The eggs on the window
Lucy: I liked studying about birds. The birds, we learned about the yellow one that we didn’t know what it was. It had the black tail and black wings and yellow head with a bit of black but mostly yellow. And it was the American Goldfinch. (What else did we learn about it…) We saw it at our birdfeeder and it eats seeds from our birdfeeder.

  Tell about Mourning Doves or shrikes, or, What do you know about nests?

Nests are made of twigs and sticks. Robins use mud to make the nests to make the sticks and twigs stick together. They can probably fit 4-5 birds in them, maybe 1-2 grown ups and 2-3 babies. And some nests are not made of that. Some nests..like one type of bird, it made some stuff on a tree that light light green sorta stuff and peels it off the tree (she means lichen) and put it on the nest, it’s so tiny it looks like a knot on a tree. (Jonah: It was a hummingbird!).

2.    Can you explain what Invertebrate means?

Invertebrate is an animal that does not have a backbone. Like crawdads and daddy long legs and …(Jonah:shrimp!). Lucy: Shrimp. I didn’t remember that one but Jonah told me and he’s right.                       

     1. How many legs do you, Jonah and Zeeba (the cat) have altogether? 8

     6 +5 2> ? + 5

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

Lucy: I can't remember it all. Can't I look at it? 
Me: Okay, tell what everything you remember on your own. Then you can look and add to it. 
From memory: On the picture that they wise men are on, I think there is a dog. Wait, one side it is nighttime, on the other it is kinda close to nighttime.

Looks: On one side there is mary and jesus and on the other there is mary and the wise men and the wise man are giving Jesus their gifts and the other side there are the shepherds and  there are some angels around Jesus and that’s all.

 Composer – Tell me one thing you remember about Hildegard Von Bingen

She was an artist and she wrote down her music so that other people can hear it. She was kinda famous, wasn’t she?


What was your favorite A.A. Milne poem and why?

Lucy: Oh, there were too many. How do I pick?
Me: Look through the book at the pictures and see which one you want to talk about. 
Lucy: Oh, this one. I loved this one! Puppy and I. Because at the end he’ll say “I’ll come with you!” but he said no to other ones. He thought going to the market to get barley was boring. And getting hay was boring. But playing was interesting.

Illustrate The Gift, The Eagle or Happiness (three of our recitation poems).

And she wasn't required to but she choose to recite it to daddy when she showed him the picture. 

     Sing your favorite folksong and hymn from this term. 

And I was on top of it enough to have Lucy pick out a colorful binder during the back to school sales and have compiled her exams from this term and last, as well as a handful of papers and I actually assembled it into a portfolio today! Go me! I did't do a ton, just a favorite art piece or two, a few nature study drawings, and drawing narrations.

A unprompted picture narration of daddy's current bedtime story series. Any guesses?

The sword in the stone. Part 1

The Sword in the stone. Part 2. One thing I find fascinating is the difference in her drawings for narration/story telling and art time. For art, she can do very detailed drawings that honestly, leave me a bit worried about my own lack of art skills and leave me scrambling through pinterest for ideas on how to guide her. But if she's doing it for oral processing, whether prompted or not, it is still very developmentally appropriate with stick figures and symbols. Mona Brooks talks about this is her book Drawing With Children but it is amazing to watch it play out. 

Because here is a picture she did just two weeks later than those above. This was based on a picture of a horse Craig pulled up on the computer but done without any guidance from us. 

 Sorry for the geeking out moment there, but I find developmental stuff like that fascinating. And having three kids means my house is a basically my mad scientists laboratory of children! In a non-creepy way, of course.

 More art work, this was an actual lesson in Artistic Pursuits.

Nature Study drawings. 

Whew, what a busy term we had! Not even counting all the travel and family experiences that could easily be considered "school". No wonder I'm worn out! I love looking back because each day doesn't have much in it and I might worry about whether we are doing enough but as a whole, we did lots of learning and I'm really happy. I know exams are optional but I really would encourage anyone doing AO to do them.

 It also helps me evaluate and ponder changes. I think her narrations are great and we are slowly getting to the point where I can read half or maybe even all of a story without stopping for narrations along the way. I don't want to push her too far that the quality of narrations goes down, but I do want us to try out more of a variety of narrations. More drawing narrations, playmobile and acting. Not everything, I still want the majority to be regular oral narrations, but maybe doing something different and fun more than just once or twice a term! I also still need to work on getting piano in more regularly, although I have gotten better at that. And art needs to become a higher priority. I was hoping to get her into a homeschool art class but I just got an email that it was full. But she's on the waiting list so maybe in the spring? For now, art at home will be our Norah's naptime activity during our break since we won't have to fit school in that spot. And handicrafts got dropped during the summer. I'm not worried about that since we spent so much time outside but I need to come up with a plan to get it back into our routine during the cooler, snug-at-home weather. She really wants to learn how to sew and crochet because that is what she see's me doing. I'm not sure I'm up for it but she'd probably surprise me. For now we rest and then, gasp, our last term of year 1 begins! I can hardly believe it. 

School's out for...September?

We just finished Term 2 exams today! I wish I could say we finished the term with a bang but it was really more like a whimper. That was more of a parenting with a chronic illness issue mixed with a few bad attitudes than a homeschooling issue but whatever the reason our last week of regular school was rough. Exam week is proving to be a favorite of Lucy's though, partly because exam days are short and sweet and partly because its just very encouraging to both of us to look back at all we've learned together and do a bit of sharing with daddy too. I'll finish transcribing them and post it soon.

And despite last week's trials, overall this semester has been great. I'm loving this age. Lucy and I have had some really great discussion about deep topics. She asking wonderful questions and really coming up with insightful ideas. I'm really excited to start next term! Just not yet :-)

I will admit, it feels a bit odd to be getting finished right as everyone else starts but not in a bad way! It feels great actually. So far, I'm really loving the break schedule we have. The weather should start cooling off a bit soon (please please!) and we've got a whole bunch of stuff planned for this month. The kids and I sat down and came up with a list. I don't think we'll get to it all but we'll sure try. This week we've been stuck at home though as the car a/c went out. We tried going out Monday anyway but it about killed us so now we wait for the shop to finish up with it. I'm crossing my fingers that we'll at least be able to have a adventure on Friday.  I'm so excited to be able to go to the zoo when it isn't crowed and sweltering out. The kid's have handle the lack of "adventure" just fine so far though, right now they have have pulled every blanket and pillow we own into the living room to make a giant burrow.

One thing I'm loving about this schedule is that it really breaks up the changes. That helps me because I don't have to plan everything at once. When we start back, we'll still be reading all the Ambleside Online year 1 books but we will be adding in a bit more formal nature studies as well as a curriculum for French (instead of just french folk songs). And I've been working on getting the pictures and songs ready for the next few terms but since the basic schedule is the same, I'm not feeling a whole lot of stress. And when we start next term, the books will change but everything else will be the same so. Lucy seems to struggle with big changes too so, for now at least, this plan seems to be working well. And the low planning level right now means I can make this a bit of a vacation for me too. Just yesterday I wrapped up my reading of The Betrothed. In theory, I could start my next Back to the Classic Challenge book but have decided to wait so I'm free to read some lighter books. I do find that the more harder books I read, the better my "lighter" books start to be. I just can't read actual twaddle anymore. But I've got a stash of public domain fun reads that I am completely willing to devour without regards to slowly savoring. Not exactly beach reading but pretty close. Ah, Summer September!


They things they say

Me: Don't put your trains on Norah's head. She doesn't like it.
Jonah: But Norah Jane rhymes with train!
Me: That is true. But you still can't run them on her head.

Watching the Olympics gets more fun as the kids get older...

Lucy: Who is this?
Craig: USA vs. Canada.
Lucy: Oh, so do we hate the Canadas?

Lucy: If there is no USA in a race,  I vote for England because they are the closest to us from in the past, you know, back then we were like them before we fought them.

Jonah: Yay! He knocked down the stick.
Me: Well, in this jump they are trying to NOT knock down the stick.
Jonah: Oh, he's not gonna win then.

Lucy: Are you sure they are running? I think the camera is just moving.
Me: I'm pretty sure they are running fast.
Lucy: Hmm, I'm not so sure.

Jonah, playing trains and peg dolls. Screech! Screech! Ahh!
Me: Can you be a bit quieter? Norah's sleeping and even if she wasn't, that screeching noise isn't very pleasant to my ears.
Jonah: Okay. 
Jonah, as a peg doll: Oh, you like your daddy better than your mommy? Me too!

Hmm, passive-aggressive doll play. How lovely! At least it isn't a  tantrum.

Lucy has been requesting a lot of Scottish folk songs lately, mostly Peter Hollen's Loch Lomond but sometimes The Parting Glass (or maybe that's actually Irish? Don't tell her if it is) and the Brave soundtrack. So when I spotted Celtic Woman at the library I was pretty sure she'd like it. At first she was skeptical because I told her they were Irish and "Well, that's not exactly the same as Scottish mom and I really like Scottish songs the best" but I told her to give it a chance. I turn it on and look back at her and her eyes are wide open before she asked "Can we buy this so we can have it and listen to it all the time and never have to give it back! Like a hundred times!" The cd I got came with a dvd show as well so I thought I'd save that for a "We finished exam week!" treat.

We've all been enjoying Peter Hollen's work, mostly just listening on spotify but during our weekly tea time I'll let them watch some on youtube as well. Jonah's tastes are not quite as refined; his favorite song is Still Alive. I do find it ironic that my screen limited child's favorite request is a youtube star's cover of a video game theme song. He doesn't even know what a video game is! But cake throwing is always fun and the song is quite catchy.


Mother's Daybook - August 18th

Recovering - From camping. Despite our last trip not going so well, we tried again. Apparently we have bad luck because the weather this time was not great either. This particular campsite fills fast so we had to book it way in advance and didn't really have an option to reschedule so we just went for it and figured it we had to leave again, it wouldn't be the end of the world. And there was a bit of rain, some thunder before we even added in the kid's and their vomiting, fever and blood to the mix. But despite it all, we had a fun evening and a good morning playing in the shut-ins. We did did have to go home early because of Jonah's fever and worsening weather but that ended up being good because by that evening, we all realized that something had attacked us the night before. I think it might have been chiggers. The boys got it the worst and we currently have bug bite lotions and potions on every flat surface of this house, or at least it seems that way. So I'm not sure it was a overwhelming success but we survived and made a few good memories.

Reading - All the light and fluffy! I'd been working on Villette for quite a while and finally finished it last week. I was slow to warm up to it but by the end I was very much immersed in the story. And then it ended. The way it ended. I'll try not to spoil it but it was intense. I'm still not over it.  I needed something on the more frivolous end of the scale so I went with Mary Rinehart's The Window at the White Cat. It's one of those good clean cozy mysteries that just hit the spot.  And while I try not to read two books by the same author in a row, I think I'll break that rule (okay, I break it a lot, but I still try to mix things up) and go with The Amazing Interlude. At least until I'm ready to enter back into some of my deeper fiction reads. I've also just started Minds More Awake for a little Charlotte Mason inspiration as we plug away on school. I'm only a few chapters in but so far its been very inspiring. I'm really enjoying how her style is casual and conversational yet she's talking about some big ideas. Perfect for when you need a bit of a pick me up for back-to-school time without a huge brain workout.

Rejoicing - In all the emptiness that back to school brings. Should I feel guilty saying that? But it's so nice to go to parks and play places and not have it be crowded. We went to a creek to play two weeks ago and the parking lot was full and there were kids everywhere. Today we meet some fellow homeschoolers for more creek fun, albeit at a different one but actually closer to the city so more likely to be crowded, and this was the sight that awaited us. Ah, bliss!

The kid's played and then they discovered these big chunks of clay so they all gathered together to dig it up and play in it. The kids didn't all know each other and mine especially are on the shy side but this really brought them all together and it was super cute. We brought some home to play with but now I've got to go research clay because they have all sorts of questions about where it came from and what it is made from. I think it will keep our outdoor time fun (and messy) for the next little while.


First Day of School - Kinda

As I said, we've been doing school most of the summer and today wasn't very different from last week but Lucy was still really excited to be in First Grade! And Jonah was surprisingly happy about "moving up" to Pre-K. He talked about it all day.

We started the day with cinnamon rolls and piles of new school supplies. Lucy was most excited about finally getting a real nature journal and not just paper on a clipboard. First grade is the real deal!

Then we need to some pictures to document. The rain meant we didn't get the best pictures but they'll do.

Norah was too fast. Too fast to be in the pictures, at least facing the camera. Too fast for me to keep her out of them. Cropping to the rescue.

Then it was mostly business as usual but we did get to put our maps and copywork into brand new kitty and puppy folders. Very exciting! Now I'm just trying to figure out how this happened so fast.


10 months!

Dear Norah,

10 months and a toddler in actions and attitude if not in age. You are walking up a storm. Of course, we spent a week at grandma and grandpa's where you teased them by taking one step at a time but no more. Then we came home and daddy got ready for his trip. I just knew you would walk as soon as he left and yep - he left Sunday night and Monday morning you took a good 5-6 steps. I tried all week to get a good video for him but no luck. You little stinker!

But now you are walking all over the place. Even carrying things. And being super proud of yourself. You are also proud of yourself for climbing and getting into trouble. We've  been busy baby proofing cabinets. It' harder to baby proof the trampoline and bay window you love to climb on top of but you know how to get down again so all is well. And you have figured out how to pull out the potty stool and climb on top of the toilet. Lucky we haven't had any issues of toilet seats being left up and bathroom doors being left open at the wrong times. But I have my eye on you! You've started playing hard too. And making big messes. Dirt, sand, mud, water. It's all good to you.

We've done a bit of bedtime adjusting and that's going well. You enjoy the new routine of bath and lotion and stories up until the point where you remember that the next step is supposed to be sleep. Then you start to protest  but two yawns and four minutes of vocal protests later (not crying, just singing and animated "talking" which clearly means "Put me down, you're making me sleepy! It's only 6:30! I want to play"), and you decide that you won't mind lying down and going to sleep after all.

If you combine the teeth you have with the ones Lucy has lost, you'd have one full set!

You started this month with your third tooth just poking through and now have seven so we haven't has a month of great sleep but you make up for your bad sleeping with great traveling. Trips here and there and such a happy baby in the car. You just love to go places and see things.

Speaking of talking, you've added some nice sounds to your vocabulary.  Nothing that consistently means anything but that hasn't stopped me and daddy from prompting you "say mama, MAma" or "DaDa!DADA!" You seem to think this is quite funny as you look at us while pointing at daddy and saying mama or pointing at a random toy and saying dada.

Other things you love - Pat the Bunny, my phone, beans and ground beef (but no other meat), taking books off shelves and most of all playing with the big kids. In fact, one of the few times you are really unhappy is when you get left behind. But that's not too often because they love you too - as long as you aren't eating their legos.


Mother's Daybook - August 5

Waiting - For Craig to come home! He's been away on a business trip since Sunday but by the time you are reading this, he should be a on a plane. I told the kids that they probably wouldn't see him until the morning because I don't trust flights to be on time when little hearts are depending on them but secretly I'm hoping he will make it in time to tuck them in. It's been a good but looonnngg week. We've all missed him. Lucy's been super emotional, Jonah just gets crazy and with the heat and bugs, we've had to stay inside so by bedtime with no outlet and no dad to even climb on in the evenings, his energy has been exploded out of him. My biggest worry about this week is how Norah is used to daddy walking her to sleep and highly preferred him to me at bedtime. That part has actually gone pretty well. But I'm still ready for him to come home.

Excited - For the Olympics! I dragged up the tv from the basement yesterday. The afternoon ended up being a bit of a "If you give a mouse a cookie" situation with me rearranging things and decluttering and going crazy. But in the end, only a few stuffed animals paid the price (Seriously. A pox on your house if you try and give us another stuffed animal!) and now the tv is here and ready for all the sports to begin. And completely coincidentally we read The Beginning of the Armadillo today from The Just So Stories and the accompanying poem "Roll down to Rio" so we looked up Brazil and Rio and the Amazon River on our map. I also grabbed The Barefoot Book of Animal Tales from Around the World from our library's free giveaway shelf a few months ago and noticed it had a Brazilian story so we'll read that during our tea time in preparation for the opening ceremony tonight. We had a small miscommunication that led a certain child to think we were actually attending the Olympics so today's tea time might be a little more elaborate than normal in order to appease those disappointments but nothing a few coconut energy balls can't fix.

Drinking - All the tea, all the time. Yes, I know. August is a weird time to increase your hot beverage intake but my mil gave us a keurig while we were visiting (or maybe Craig found one in the basement and begged for it. Same difference :-). He's not an everyday coffee drinker but he does like it occasionally. I think coffee is gross so I was kinda meh about it thinking it would just take up space on our counter. But I actually really like the hot water feature. It shouldn't make that much of a difference because it's not really hard to put my kettle on the stove and turn on the burner but this is easier and new and fun so it's been happening a lot. And after braving Target back to school shopping with all three, I treated myself to a box of chai lattes. Once Craig's home I'll start saving them for when I have a special mommy pick-me up but I've been savoring one a day while Craig's gone. Because any day that I'm on mommy duty from 5am to 8pm with a couple night nursings added in is a special mommy moment kinda day. (Oh, didn't I mention. Norah's new daddy-less bedtime routine is working great and she's going to bed really easily at a early time and sleeping pretty well - she's just getting up at 5am all rested and energetic and ready to play with me! It's delightful!).

Preparing - For back to school! Now, we did't really take the summer off, just the month of May and a few weeks here and there while we traveled. And we are smack dab in the middle of a term. I was planning on waiting until we finished that term and took a few weeks off for local adventures (nature center trips! Botanical garden! Art museum if I'm really brave? Uhm, we shall see) and then move kids up to their new grades and have a fun back to school day when we restarted. But that probably won't be until the end of September and this is the first year that Lucy has noticed that everyone else is getting ready to go to "real building school" so we might have our first day earlier. It will be at the beginning of a random week of school but that's okay I guess. Pictures and new school supplies are fun no matter when they happen. The majority of Lucy's friends are homeschooled too and I don't think she thinks she's missing out but every once in a while she'll stop and ask me "If I was in real building school, would I still be working? Or would I be home playing yet?" which always makes me laugh. It's like she's just checking in to make sure this homeschool thing is still working for her.

Organizing - As I said above, all I had to do was bring the tv up. But once I got out the duster to dust it off, I dusted everything and then suddenly I was crazy mommy. I guess Lucy isn't the only one having those the back to school, start everything fresh desires. I loved the Konmari book but the one part I have to laugh at is her idea that "tidying" is a one time thing. Not if you have kids. I'm like the little boy with his finger in the dam. Maintence isn't throwing away socks when they get holes and calling it good. Maintence is taking all the puzzles out of the puzzle cabinet and spending over an hour putting them back where they go and getting rid of the ones that have lost pieces and putting up the ones that the big kids have outgrown but the littlest isn't ready for so that Jonah doesn't melt into a pile of preschool joy when he tries to get a puzzle out and they all fall on him. It's a big process. And it never stops. I I did stop, I'm pretty sure my house would explode within the year. Yesterday I gathered all the sticks and rocks from the places Jonah likes to store them and had him take a whole bin outside. I should have counted but it was probably close to 50 items - and that doesn't even count the "extra special pretty ones" that are still on our nature table. At least he has a good supply for the pretend restaurant they have out back now.

But this time is a bit different. I seem to be more into visually decluttering. The baskets and decor items on the piano weren't really in the way or bothering anyone but now that they are gone, my eyes feel better. Same with the large plant in the corner of the kitchen (also, it's now in a place where the baby can't play in it's dirt as easily). And I feel better. I just realized I did a bit decluttering last year when Craig was gone. Perhaps it isn't the nesting instinct that spurs this on, maybe it's just Craig being gone. I don't know but he's probably happy he missed it.

Watching - Bible shows. Well, what did you think the kids were doing while I was decluttering? Actually, it was the other way around. I bribed encouraged the kids to play with Norah while I exercised by saying that afterwards they could watch a show. I recently remembered that I have access to RightNow Media and it has tons of veggie tales and other bible shows. We tried both What's in the Bible and VeggieTales last year and neither kid was a fan. Which made me sad because I am. But I thought we could try again and this time Lucy got it and thought it was hilarious (and Jonah likes whatever she likes) and having them occupied meant I was free to get things accomplished. She liked What's in the Bible best and has already asked to watch the second and both kids thought Josh and the Big Wall was delightful.

They also know that when Daddy is gone that if they are ready for bed when I came back from putting Norah to sleep, we can watch a show together and we are working our way through Edwardian Farm. It's a different kind of excitement than Bible stories told with vegetables and slushies but nevertheless we were all quite on the edge of our seats that first episode to see if Peter and Alex's attempt to turn limestone into quick lime for their fields was going to work or if their 18 hours of shoveling was for not - and I'm not gonna tell you what happened. If you want to know, you're just gonna have to watch it yourself.


Great Plains Road Trip 2016 - The way home

All good things must end and it was time to say goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa and the farm. Lucy is my emotional one and she always has a rough time at this part so I was very thankful that the part of the trip I thought she would like most was coming up. De Smet and the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead!

I haven't read The Long Winter to Lucy yet but we did just finish On the Shores of Silver Lake so it was fresh it her mind. We started with the city's tour of Laura Ingalls's Wilder homes - the surveyer's house where they spent the winter in On the Shores of Silver Lake, the school house so attended when taught by Eliza Jane, a replica of the first school Laura taught at and the house Pa built for the family when they decided to move back into town.

I don't have any pictures of the Surveyor's house because they weren't permitted but we started out this tour with three grumpy kids and by the time we left this house, those attitudes had mostly been turned around. We especially liked seeing the "whatnot" because we were confused by that in the book. And the pantry stocked with canned peaches, pickles and crackers!

The schoolhouse was probably my favorite. I didn't get a pictures but the front showed the layers as it had been restored and their were several places with the original blackboard. And Jonah's seat has one screw removed so kid's could reproduce Carrie's desk rocking incident.

Grinding wheat by hand. Lucy's prefers my bosch :-) 

The one kinda sad part about these stops is that Lucy found out Laura marries Almanzo. We had read Farmer Boy and she even mentioned that it was weird that Laura knew all about Almanzo when he was a boy and asked about it but we just said "hmm, I wonder why" and left it at that. But during this tour they mentioned it and that she had a daughter and showed some pictures. Not the end of the world and I'm still glad we have saved those books for a little later as I think she'll appreciate them more when she's older but it was a bit of a spoiler. 

Next up was the Ingalls Homestead. Lucy has been wanting and saving for a bonnet for a little while and I had a feeling their gift shop might have one. So we got her one and Jonah a coonskin cap. We don't normally get anything at giftshops so they were both pretty excited about it. 

Making a corn cob "superhero" for Jonah. Lucy went with the more traditional doll.

Making jump ropes. 

Wagon ride to the schoolhouse

The kid's turn to drive the wagon. They had to wait for the way back but both were patient and so excited it was finally their turn!

Jonah concentrating very hard on keeping those horses in line. 

Then they got to drive the pony wagon and take a pony ride.

Playing with a kitten while waiting for their turn. 

Jonah's pony apparently decided he was done walking and just laid down in the middle of Jonah's turn. Jonah tumbled right off and I was worried he'd be upset but he hoped right back on and finished his ride!

Washing and drying clothes outside the homestead. Inside we made button toys, explored the layout of the room, played a pump organ like Mary owned, and learned more about life on the prairie. We came at a great time as we were almost always the only person at each building and were able to ask questions and talk to the workers. 

We knew that our day in De Smet would have to be a short driving day but we ended up spending even more time here than we thought and we didn't even get to the cemetery like we had wanted. It was just so much fun. But we were able to make it to our hotel in time to meet up with some family. The kids and I swam with some second cousins of theirs and Craig used his cousin and uncle as an excuse to escape the cold water...seriously, why are hotel pools always so cold?!

To make up for our short drive the day before, we really had to push through on our last day. 6-7 hours of "google driving time" seems to be about what we can handle before everyone falls apart. This day was 8. And our one fun stop was The Federal  Reserve in Kansas City. Turns out, it's pretty boring. But it was free bathrooms and a/c and a chance to get out of the car. And we did all get free bags of shredded bills. 

Still kinda happy but hours of driving to go

But we all were quite glad to be home again!