What I Needed


{finding fairies}






Oh my goodness.  Today I did nothing.  Ahhhhh, nothing.  The following last several weeks have been so busy I really haven't even been able to catch my breath.  But today that was all I did.  Ryan took the big kids out fishing and Nora and I stayed in our pajamas until after lunch.  We sat by the fire and read books.  We went back to bed and read more books.  We played many rounds of "Sneaky Snacky Squirrel".  And then we took a nice meandering walk through the woods.  I roasted a chicken for dinner.  After the kids were in bed I had a nice long phone chat with my sis.  It was all the things I needed to do to slow myself back down to my speed.


Her Birthday "Party"







This year instead of having a big birthday party Grace decided she really wanted to go skiing with one of her best friends.  They had so much fun skiing we stayed for 6 hours!!  It was so neat to watch the progress from morning (very slowly down the bunny hill) until the afternoon (me explaining why we weren't going to try any black diamonds today).  We also met Kirsten and Tyler there and he and Jackson had a blast too!



Skiing was followed by all of the treat eating/ game playing/ staying up later than normal/waking up earlier than normal sort of good sleepover birthday stuff one might expect.



{Working in their main lesson books}

I think we are finally back in the swing of school.  It feels nice.  Oddly there hasn't been the resistance I am use to dealing with after a break.  Maybe they are needing it too.  Either that or they finally learned you're going to have to do your work anyway so why waist time complaining about it.  (seems highly unlikely)


We are only five chapters into this book here but we are all hooked!  It is our read aloud right now.


Some of Grace (below) and Jackson's (above) recent oil pastel and watercolor paintings.



This here might be the best book of fairy tales I have ever read.  I got it because we have been learning about Sweden and I thought it would be fun to hear some of Sweden's stories.  But they are all so good.  I think I will have to keep going with it.

{They have been doing a lot of skating down at the pond during "recess" and after school with each other and our homeschooling neighbors/friends}

Other things we're up to with homeschooling...

Math- (Grace) we just finished a long unit on fractions and now we have moved on to measurement
           (Jackson) we are reviewing times tables and learning division
           (Nora) working on learning her numbers.  She likes to do her "number work" with her big sister.

Geography- (all) we are still learning about Sweden.  I found this great documentary series called Families of the World.  We have only watched the one from Mexico and then recently the one from Sweden but so far they are a great window into the lives of families in other countries.  In addition to learning about the people of the countries we also like to learn about the nature and animals in that area of the world.  Today we learned about Sweden's arctic foxes.

Language Arts- (all) We are reading the above books together.  Grace is also reading Anne of Green Gables.  Jackson is often cornering me with a Star Wars book he wants me to read with him.  And Nora still loves as many picture books as we have time for.  We are always reading poems and learning tongue twisters.  Next week Grace will also be starting a new English curriculum.

Spelling- (Grace) earlier this year I discovered a new program that is proving to be incredibly effective at helping me teach spelling to Grace (a concern I have had as of late).  I do not usually use this type of curriculum and Grace did not like it at first because it was "too easy" (you have to start at the beginning regardless of age as each lesson builds on the previous).  But after working with it for several weeks she is coming around to it (and we've caught up to her level) and her spelling ability has dramatically increased.

Reading- (Jackson) we teach language arts more in the Waldorf style which means reading isn't officially taught until first grade.  And even then it is very slow and gentle.  The main basis of Waldorf reading education in the early years is to provide a substantial diet of high quality literature.  We always have a read aloud book going in our family and we read one on one regularly with our children as well.  But over the past month Jackson is also starting to work through some readers. We love these readers.

Art- (all) We have done some painting and are now starting on some knitting projects.  Grace is working on a small peacock from this adorable book and Jackson is learning to knit.  Nora also has learned how to finger knit.

Spanish- (all) We have been continuing to play our Spanish games (this one, this one, and this one being our favorites right now) and we are always learning Spanish songs as well.  Our Spanish learning is slow but continuous and repetitive.  This is our third year of learning Spanish this way and I'm realizing (at least with my kids) quantity is irrelevant.  Cramming too much Spanish learning in a short window of time has the reverse effect with them.  It's the hearing and using the same words and songs over and over and over again that makes it finally click for them.

I came across this quote the other day that made me think of Spanish, and all of our homeschooling efforts actually- "Success is the sum of small efforts- repeated day in and day out." (Robert Collier)  I think that just might be my homeschooling moto.


Longing for Quiet While Enjoying the "Busy Good"


In my last post I was basking in the quietness of January, happily looking forward to what has always been for us, a very low key month.  This year, it turns out January is anything but that.  Aside from the first week or so after Christmas it has been nothing but busy.  There has been one birthday celebration (two more to go) and one Christmas celebration (and one more to go).  There were field trips and house projects and family in town and internship meetings.  While all of it was/is actually so very good, it was/is busy good, and I am feeling like I can barely catch my breath.  Perhaps February can be the quiet month I am dreaming of.

Today is quiet though, and I'm thankful for that.  We did some extra school work (to catch up on what we missed).  It is still feeling a little clunky getting back into the swing of things.  But we managed it today.  We are also catching up on some of that low key "nothing" sort of time that I've been longing for.  Legos, coloring, puzzling, you know.  Good things.  Hoping tomorrow we can do some more of the same before heading into a weekend of "Christmas" and birthday.  Soon I will need to catch up on the the posts I've missed as well.



{A matching dress for her and her doll from Grandma Sam}

{The big kids taking her on a treasure hunt to find her gifts on her birthday morning}

{Playing the game they gave her "Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel"}







It was such a special day with so many of her favorite people coming over to celebrate.  Her big brother and sister paid extra special attention to her, giving her a treasure hunt in the morning and playing her favorite things throughout the day.  So sweat. She opted for strawberry cake again, but this time in cupcake form.   I wish I would have done a better job taking pictures on her day.  Her fresh four year old twinkling eyes will have to stay etched in my brain.



10 Things I'm Grateful For Today


1. Snow
2. Hiking on my trail in the snow
3. The good conversation and peaceful lunch I had today with the kids (a little unusual for us)
4. Sun beaming through the windows and spilling onto the wood floor
5. A warm fire to sit by
6. My tea and candles (happiness)
7. Princess/unicorn/butterfly dancing shows
8. The slowness of January
9. Family and friends
10. A feeling of contentment


More Please


I am having a bit of a hard time saying good-bye to this holiday season.  It was all just so wonderful and delicious and sparkly (as evidence of the sparklyness, note the fairy dust in this picture, and yes that is fairy dust, not actual dust).

~ The day after Christmas Katie surprised us and came for a sleep-over.  We watched White Christmas, played many rounds of "The Enchanted Forest", took a winter hike, and ate left-over Christmas dinner.  AND when all the small people went to bed we got to sit and talk and drink wine.
~ So many new toys to play with keeping everyone mostly happy
~ Snow!  Finally snow.
~ Grandma Sam took the kids ice skating one day
~ New Year's Eve night was just the five of us as we have done in the past.  We played games, and made our New Year's resolutions/wishes with our wish paper like we did last year.
~ Once they were in bed Ryan and I finished watching The Theory of Everything.  Soooo good.
~ New Year's Day our good friends came over to sled and snowboard and roast hot dogs.  This was our second year doing this- which in combination with the fact that we all had a blast- had us concluding that this is now a tradition.  Perhaps with a sleepover next year...
~ The next day Ryan and I embarked on some projects, painting the ceiling me and redoing the hearth Ryan..
~ On our last day of winter break we went out to brunch with my parents and Katie to the Lake Elmo Inn.
~ The best highlight though was realizing that we had a few unused "vacation" days from last fall and so were using them this week to extend our break just a few more days.