Archive for the ‘homekeeping’ Category

6
Sep

friday stream of conscience…

   Posted by: liz

we’ve been going at full speed all week long. i feel a bit like a drill sergeant at times keeping the boys just one little step ahead of our full schedule this year.

i need someone to keep me ahead of the schedule too, but nobody applied for the job, so i’m on my own.

this morning is friday, and i’m dragging. i’m feeling the need for a recharge of my batteries. i snapped at the boys because they can’t keep their room clean and they keep dragging dirt in from the outside (ha!). really, i was snapping at them because there is camping gear in every room in the house that needs to be put away, costumes from our summer show that need to be put into storage, and i swear there is a dining room table in our dining room under that mound of junk.

after a week of go-go-go making meals, doing laundry and schooling three boys, i’m hitting a wall. so we take this friday morning slowly. after two subjects (math and writing), the boys head out to the swings. i notice that there is a chair on the deck in full sun, so i go to sit on it. the sun feels so good….15 minutes later, i wake up.

i’m still crabby. there’s still a cluttered house and it’s nearly lunchtime. that means the natives will be hungry. that means I’LL be hungry.

i never understood those who said, “i just forgot to eat today” because that never happens to me. until this year. there is so much going on, so much to juggle, that i haven’t been taking care of myself as much. i haven’t been crabby like this all summer, even though the weather was cool and barely pool-worthy.

IMG_1151the boys are still on the swings. 25 minutes later and they’ve got some game going on. i enjoy the few more quiet moments i have until they come screaming in at full speed yelling something about being starving and i yell something back about not knowing what it’s like to actually be starving. (please tell me i’m not the only one who uses this line on their “starving” kids?)

and then i’m thankful for that. thankful that they don’t know hunger. thankful that we can feed them. thankful then, that we can feed them knowledge and habits, value time and family. thankful for everything that i can feed them in a day’s time because they are here with me all day long.

maybe it was the nap in the sunshine for 15 minutes. maybe it was 15 minutes to myself for the first time this week…maybe it was a whisper, a reminder, that this life we’ve chosen, that we’ve been given, is one pretty spectacular gift.

so i better not blow it.

 

 

4
Jan

curtains, and a new office

   Posted by: liz

i love this piece of material. i bought it for $2 at the salvation army fabric sale a few years ago with serina and have kept it in mind for curtains in my “office” after we redesigned the room.

i never thought to measure. i’m not a measuring type sewer. i know that sounds like blasphemy to all the sewers out there, but when it comes to sewing, i wing it. a lot. and i hate patterns. that flimsy tear-easy paper that comes with patterns? those lines all over that flimsy paper? yeah – enough to want me to quit sewing forever. that’s why i love books like Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol. i used that book to make a quilt once. she helps any novice sewer realize they can do it!

so, back to my favorite material. my “office” isn’t really an office – it’s a hallway that connects the kitchen to the laundry room (on one side) and to the back porch (on the other side). so, there are three total doors (not much privacy!) in the small 8×7 foot room. the room was the home’s original “kitchen porch” and it was enclosed and divided to form our 1st floor bathroom/laundry room and the “office.”  when we bought the house, these two rooms were dark – faux wood paneling on the walls with dirty beige carpet. last year, we re-did the laundry room. this summer, we brightened the office up by covering the faux paneling with white bead board from floor to ceiling, pulled up the carpet to reveal the original porch floor, and painted the built-ins white. the only problem is – the room is too bright to photograph!  here are some before photos:

and now to the exact same photos, with the redesign (which look dark because my camera was blown away by how bright the room has become!)

a few extras – we painted the dark brown door bright blue, and you can see the freshly painted porch floor here (we STILL don’t have outlet and switch-plate covers in this room…nor is the trim finished, but we all know we can live without trim!):

instead of a small computer desk, we custom-built a high desk with natural-wood kitchen cabinets (cheap at lowes!) that we painted white, and covered with a natural wood table top that we stained. i LOVE how the stain turned out, and how it looks in the white room.

which brings me to the curtain. it’s way too short. like 8 inches too short:

i suppose i could find some contrasting fabric to make an wide bottom edge, but i didn’t want it to look any busier than the material already is. so…it’s back to the salvation army fabric fair, if i can make it, for some more vintage fabrics for a steal.

 

18
Jan

a day in the life…

   Posted by: liz

tuesday, february 2012

6:00 ~ wake up. the past two days kenny and i have been waking at 5:00, so we slept in a bit this morning, which got him off to work a bit later.  i get up, get a cup of coffee while he makes his breakfast.

6:30 ~ kenny leaves for work, and i have a quiet house for at least the next 2 hours. i start some laundry, sit at the computer to read blogs, write a blog post, check facebook, and read the news. then i feel hungry so i get breakfast, another cup of coffee, straighten up the kitchen, change the laundry and check all the lessons for the day to make sure we have what we need.

8:40 ~ adam stumbles downstairs. i normally don’t let them sleep past 8:00, but we had a full day yesterday – with co-op, meeting friends for lunch, and then a playdate all afternoon. we were super tired last night, so i let them sleep until they woke up themselves.  i used to have 3 very early risers, and now, they have mastered the art of sleeping in. he wants to play a game with me but can’t decide between “Guess Who,” “Battleship,” or “Mancala.” he finally settles on Mancala and we start to set it up on the kitchen table as rowan comes downstairs.  i told him i’m not sure of the rules and he assures me he can teach me. somehow, i think his rules aren’t quite right, so we look up the directions online. for the record, his rules were way off.

8:50 ~ sawyer comes downstairs to tell me his throat hurts and rowan yells from the back porch that the snow is all gone. i give sawyer a spoonfull of honey, tell rowan it might snow tomorrow so they set off together on the back porch to plan a sledding party. adam declares himself an almost-winner when he accidentally knocks the whole Mancala game off the table, sending all 48 marbles across the kitchen floor. rowan and sawyer run in to see what the noise was and decide they are going to find every last marble. i snuggle an upset adam while the boys count each marble they find. after 5 minutes, all the marbles have been accounted for, and we start a new game over. it’s over in 10 minutes, adam wins, but i think he totally cheated.

9:05 ~rowan and sawyer get the breakfast dishes out while adam gathers the boxes of cereal. during breakfast, i give them a run-down of the days’ schedule. i have found this is the best way to prepare them for the day. nothing is a surprise: they know what to expect and so far, it has worked to keep the grumbling and complaining at bay. they know that “recess” or play time is coming up, so they work to keep focused on each lesson (emphasis on “work” as it is work to keep these little boys’ brains focused on one thing for more than 5 minutes most days!  but at least they are trying!).

9:20 ~all three boys go upstairs to make their beds and get dressed.  i switch out the laundry again, fold what’s clean and dry and set it out on my bed to be put away later. i head out to the pasture to water the animals. on the brilliant recommendation of a new friend who is a goat farmer, we’ve switched from square bales of hay for feeding to setting up a round bale in the barn and this has revolutionized our winter feeding. we no longer have to go outside to feed them two or three times a day – they feed themselves on a large round bale for 3-4 weeks. we need only to change their water and occasionally grain them.

9:40 ~adam is downstairs, dressed and ready to start: “i want to do math, like my brudders.”  he’s sick of practicing writing his numbers and counting, so i break out their first level of his brothers’ math curriculum and we skip to lesson 15. we learn parallel and perpendicular lines, and the difference between even and odd numbers.

10:00 ~rowan and sawyer are finally done getting dressed and making their beds. 10:00 is about an hour later than we normally start lessons, but i keep reminding myself that a schedule is far less important  than a good night’s sleep during cold and flu season! adam complains that his math lesson is too short (where did this kid come from!?) so i set him up with headphones on my laptop to do reading practice. Starfall is one of our favorite spelling/reading web sites, and he’s been going through the chapters in the “learn to read” section. he loves it, and it’s a good thing for him to do while i work on spelling with the older boys.

once adam is set up on my computer, rowan and sawyer start their next spelling lessons at the kitchen table. they are being creative today: trying to see who can come up with the most nonsensical story using all of their spelling words. they both win. i quiz them on the past few lessons, make notes of which words we need to focus on tomorrow and close the spelling books.

Roman Numeral Cookies

10:30 ~ rowan practices piano while sawyer and i do math. he and i are doing roman numerals and he loves them. he’s pretty happy with most of his math homework, but he especially enjoys the roman numerals. it’s almost like “cracking a code” putting all the numbers/letters in order.

11:00 ~ sawyer practices piano while rowan and i do math. he’s already learned subtraction in his head and now we’re doing it on the abacus. he breezes through this lesson as the abacus makes all lessons easy!

11:20 ~ since rowan’s math lesson was so short, he helps adam with sounding out some words. i love seeing the older two teach adam what they know. and he enjoys being taught by his brothers.  i love this dynamic: the trickle-down learning affect. there is more than just learning going on when they’re teaching each other. there is trust-building, and respect-growing. i always encourage them when i see them doing this. i think it’s important to always tell your kids when they are doing something that makes you proud.

11:30 ~ i’m always worn out by teaching two math lessons back-to-back. i’m looking into other curriculum, but this one is a solid choice for us now. it’s just very teacher/mom-heavy! i give the boys all a break while i start on their lunch. it’s tuesday, which means it’s sandwiches-in-the-car-from-swim-lessons-to-cubscouts night. so i make them a hot lunch on these days.

12:00 ~during lunch, we review our co-op material. today i focus on history (american) and the world history timeline memorization. tomorrow’s focus will be science, latin, and math.

12:30 ~quiet time!  for one hour each day, we are all quiet. the boys don’t sleep – they just have to be quiet, and in their room. today i change up the rules a bit. we start quiet time snuggled up on my bed while i read aloud to them. we started Harry Potter, The Scorcerer’s Stone before Christmas and then got out of the read-aloud habit. after 30 minutes, i dismiss them to their room where they read their own books, or just learn to be still for the next 30 minutes. this is a challenge for adam.

1:30 ~i finish folding and putting away laundry with Rowan’s help (and by help, he doesn’t really jump at the chance to put away freshly clean clothes…but at least he does it!).

1:45 ~back in the kitchen for our writing lesson. the older two boys have finished their chapter books (rowan is into a new series now), so we start on book reports. today’s lesson is working on a title page. it’s funny what you take for granted knowing. i had to teach them where to look for the author’s name, what an author of a book is, and how to position it on the title page of their report. tomorrow we’ll get into the first page, which i know will take a long time. they aren’t too keen on writing, and from what i read, this is totally normal for boys their age. so i don’t push them too hard.

2:15 ~ school is done for the day – a bit later than normal. we have to leave for swim lessons in an hour, so i try to finish up my work so i can sit and read some of my bookclub book (Unbroken). so i gather up the swim bag – suits, towels, goggles; make 6 PB&J sandwiches for the boys, clean up the kitchen, straighten up the school room, and sit down to check email one last time. no time to read…already it’s time to leave!

3:30 ~ to the Y for swimming. kenny is meeting us there so i can run on the treadmill.  i’ve been listening to the music of Josh Garrels during my runs and it’s kept my mind focused so the runs go faster. yesterday i clocked 2.14 miles and it felt so, so good.

5:45 ~ swim lessons are over, and we race over to Cub Scouts. i sit in rowan’s meeting while kenny stays with sawyer’s group. adam hangs out with kenny and sawyer (he’s too young for scouts, but he gets to follow along). rowan’s group is really fun: whittling, knot-tying, s’more-making. sawyer’s group is filled with rowdy younger boys who don’t listen to their den leader. we’re wodnering how it’s possible to move him in with rowan’s group, where they are actually learning scout-type stuff.

7:30 ~ head home. kenny and i finally grab some dinner, i take a hot shower (a cold front has moved in since we’ve been out, dropping the temps at least 10 degrees, and high winds have kicked in, so i’m chilled to the bone!).

8:15 ~ all five of us pile on our bed to close the day in family prayers.  boys head to bed after 10 more minutes of lego-building and reading.

8:30 ~ kenny plays music for a while while i write this blog post, finish reading other blogs and the news, and check the weather (boy, that wind is loud!).

10:00 ~ i am finally able to crack open Unbroken for about 10 minutes before my eyes get heavy. this book is a beautifully written semi-biography of a man who finds himself as a bombardier in WWII. my grampy read it and passed it along to my mom to read. i snatched it up before she could get a chance to read it. i can only imagine how amazing and perhaps difficult it was for him to read. he was a pilot in WW2, of a B-17, and this air force bombardier was on a B-24 on the west coast. apparently, air force members in WW2 had a 50% chance of survival. wow. i thank God grampy survived all of his flight missions.

and with that, i say goodnight to tuesday……

there are days when it comes so easily, so naturally – words of gratitude from my lips, for all the fullness of life around me: i’m a mother, a wife, a teacher, a homekeeper.

other times, and sometimes more often than not, i need a bit of coaxing to be thankful for the fullness, the mess, the chaos: another sink full of dishes, another messy table from a chaotic meal, and a full dishwasher waiting to be emptied for the second time in one day: the motions of a busy home.

our ordinary, daily lives are rather extraordinary if you think of it.

Celebrant    Lift up your hearts.
People        We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People        It is right to give him thanks and praise.

liturgy (in worship) is cyclical, and repetitive. laundry and dishes and cleaning and cooking are cyclical, repetitive. they are our routine, a never-ending cycle of our days. they are our daily acts of worship. repetitive, cyclical acts of worship in our own home…what an honor to be a part of them!

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-
where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of
heaven and earth.

i hope today and the rest of this week, as i view that mountain of laundry, the already messy floor from kids’ self-created art projects, and week of dinners, lunches, and breakfasts to plan, i will do so in praise. for i have a mind, a soul, and a body to take care of the lovely, beautiful messy work i’ve been given.


9
Jun

laundry room makeover, part 2

   Posted by: liz

(Click on pictures to see larger view)

You can refer to this post to see more “before” pictures, but here is a reminder of some “before” photos of the old laundry room…fake paneling on a wall, decades-old smelly cupboards, and white beige linoleum flooring with “enlongated” hospital grade toilet:

And two “after pictures” to show you what we’ve gotten done over the weekend, including changing our minds about cleaning the old toilet versus buying a new one, discovering how poor a product Pergo actually is, and finding no structural needs to fix (whew!):

See that white cupboard next to the toilet? I’ve had that since I had my own apartment. It’s been in our basement since our move here and it’s serving well as our new storage area. We lost a lot of storage area taking out the old (smelly) cupboards, but it was mostly holding junk that we should have taken to Goodwill long ago, and garbage we have no reason keeping.

The flooring caused us the biggest headache. We had originally picked out Swiftlock Laminate flooring ($90) for the entire room, but after several hours of trying to cut and fit and lock it together around several water pipes and holes for the toilet and washer drain, we gave up. It wouldn’t stay “locked” and the pieces never came together to ensure a water tight seal. Because you know how important it is for a bathroom to have water proof flooring (the biggest reason we re-did this room was the sub-floor, which “stank.” I’ll leave the smell to your imaginations.). So we took the flooring back and opted for a $50 sheet of linoleum which has the look (not feel) of a hardwood floor. I think it looks fabulous and it was installed within minutes (not hours! and kitchen scissors took care of all the holes – no need for the saws!).

I’m pleased with the look of the original exterior siding on the back wall. I think it helps with the country porch look-and-feel to the room (as this room was originally the kitchen exterior porch).

I hope to add more pictures when I finally finish the room. At least it’s half functional as of today!

26
May

makeover!

   Posted by: liz

it’s that time again…demolition and home improvement! we’ve redone many of the rooms in this house, and yet, there’s always more to do!  i remember walking into this house for the first time and seeing the potential. i knew that we’d be painting or redoing every single room in the house when we bought it…and we’re slowly but surely getting there!

the first floor laundry room/bathroom has old, cracked linoleum flooring that has been drenched in urine over and over again. i cannot get the stench out since it’s UNDER the linoleum. this is the most used bathroom, and three little boys have potty-trained in it. when the humidity rises, so does the stench. i apologize to anyone who has used this bathroom.

kenny took off work yesterday and we tore out the old, smelly wooden (mildewy? wormy? what makes old wood stink?) cupboards and linoleum-topped counter. here are some of the before pictures:

the cupboards are pure wood. but they’re really smelly. we think they’re from the kitchen. we’d keep them if they weren’t so sticky and smelly.

i will not miss the frilly wall paper trim. i can’t wait to get in there and paint!

large toilet will be gone, and that linoleum will not be missed. i’m thinking of going the Pergo route in here – easy clean up, no cracks for urine to hide…

one fun discovery…the fake wooden paneling came off in two big pieces -w e were afraid they glued it and would be hard to take off.

directly under the fake paneling was the home’s original wooden siding! we thought we were going to hang drywall, but i’m going to clean up this wall of siding and put a fresh coat of paint on it. this bathroom/laundry used to be the kitchen porch until they enclosed it, thus the wall of siding INSIDE the house.

old porch floor – in great shape, but i want NEW floors in this bathroom, so we’ll be covering it.

it always amazes me how much wood can fit into a small room. this is our wagon load, headed off to the burn pile.

stay tuned for more “after” pictures in the coming weeks…

28
Jan

seven quick takes ~ mental health friday

   Posted by: liz

for the past few weeks, rowan has been asking for a “day off of school” to which i always responded, “you get TWO full days off every week!” i think it was beginning to dawn on him that “snow day” meant NO SCHOOL for those who go to school, and not just “it’s snowing today! let’s do math!”

so today at 10:30, after i spent two hours cleaning out the boys closet and drawers, i decided that today was a no school day. rowan was overjoyed with the news. he almost started crying he was so happy. it was an easy decision: i needed a mental health day, and they were all playing together so well, i couldn’t possibly interupt.

besides, we are starting our new homeschool co-op on monday (more on that below), so it felt like a good time to take a long three-day weekend (and we haven’t taken a day off since before christmas!).  on monday, we will be “kicking it up a notch” in our homeschool!

~~~
for the three years that we’ve been learning together, we have been basing our education around the Classical Model of education. we feel that this way of learning best matches the way God created our minds to learn. there are certainly different degrees of the classical approach, and we’ve strayed from a strict approach, introducing other forms or methods along the way.

next week is our first week together in a classical co-op. Classical Conversations is a national organization with local co-ops. the co-ops meet once a week where students learn on their level (grammar, dialectic, rhetoric) with other students, beginning at the age of 4. i’ve known about Classical Conversations for a few years now, but there hasn’t been one in western PA until now. typically, the co-ops start in the fall and run two 12-week semesters, but the interest in starting this local chapter was so high, that the PA state director pushed the local director into starting at the end of january. and here it is – filled to capacity! i’m so excited to begin this chapter in our learning together!

~~~
today, i’m making pizza dough for dinner. adam’s my little helper – every time he sees me pull out the mixer and hears the flour bags opening, he’s pulling up a chair to help pour in all the ingredients. i’ve been in the kitchen a lot this week, and it’s felt so good. i’ve been making pure comfort food dinners (PW’s Chicken Pot Pie is my new favorite) and baking bread, making cookies and smoothies. the kitchen has truly been the heartbeat of our home this week.

~~~
i need a new hat. so i pulled out my circular needles and just started a hat. i hope i finish it. at least before next winter!  i’m still working on a scarf that i started for myself back in october for the upcoming winter. i hope to finish it before the next upcoming winter. that’s how my knitting projects usually go. if it’s not something for a very small person (namely, a baby), it never gets done. or it sits for a few years and then either i frog it, or my mom finishes for me.

~~~
i’m reading fiction again. i haven’t read fiction since my summer of reading (and blog reviews!), but i’ve gotten my groove in schooling/homemaking again that i have found time to read fiction again. Jodi Picoult’s House Rules was lent to me a few weeks ago. i’m only 50 pages from the end. this one kept me captivated.

~~~
i’m also reading nonfiction: Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas and A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (is there anyone out there NOT reading Ann’s book right now? if not…you need to!).

~~~
i am considering a “blog series” for Lent this year, similar to the thankful posts in november i’ve done in the past. would love to know if anyone would be along for the ride. what would you want to blog about during Lent, in preparation for Easter?

for more quick takes, visit Jennifer’s blog, Conversion Diary.

16
Dec

kitchen sink beautification

   Posted by: liz

we’ve been under a thick, heavy blanket of snow since early last week. it’s thursday, and i haven’t left the house since last saturday. neither have the boys. the wind chill has been in the single digits, so sledding has kinda been out of the question, kenny has had horrible commutes to work which means i’m not driving anywhere! fortunately, we all like each other enough that we’re not sick of each other. :) but i was getting a little tired of my surroundings. so….

i read a blog post sometime in the past few weeks of a kitchen sink makeover. i had energy from a great morning of adam reading new words, the boys doing a new math game, and my mom dropping off some yummy treats from trader joes (peppermint joe-joes! candy cane tea! peppermint bark!), and my dad arriving early enough to do the lunch time animal feeding that i cleared off my entire kitchen sink and window (does anyone NOT have a window above their kitchen sink?) and began the makeover.

the kitchen sink is the place where i spend the most time when i’m in the kitchen. and the kitchen is the room where i spend the most time during my waking hours, so why junk it up? why NOT clear away the junk and create a mood of calm, of peace, of pretty?

before: no inspiration! no love! no pretty!!!!

and after:

and here is what it looked like as i was preparing dinner as the evening blue-grey outside began to fall:

i cleared away everything – my mortar and pestles, the outdoor thermometer (which is still in the kitchen because i check the outside temperature on the hour: “16 degrees? yep – still too cold to go outside!”) and just brought in the simple, the seasonal, the symbolic.

you know what’s funny? i washed, dried and put away all the dishes after dinner last night because i didn’t want to mess up the kitchen sink view with dirty or drying pots and pans. it’s not only pretty, but it inspires me to keep working until the last bit of the day (i am not the biggest fan of post-dinner cleanup, but i also dread waking up to dirty dishes in the sink).

so…please join me! make your most visited area in the kitchen pretty!  spruce it up with candles, or glass bottles, or silk flowers – whatever you enjoy looking at.

and just enjoy the view….

(please let me know in the comments if you’ve done this, take pictures and blog about it yourself! don’t have a blog? then just send me pictures! i want to see any kitchen sink transformations that are happening!)

10
Dec

school recap…a week in december

   Posted by: liz

i honestly have no idea what week we’re in. again. i know i said that last time, but since we don’t have to (legally) keep track just yet, i don’t.

we’ve been unschooling this week and it’s been FUN. i don’t think i could unschool all the time, but from the end of november until epiphany, i feel it’s entirely appropriate. and there are just some aspects of it i will keep through the rest of the school year. namely:

math games: our math has games instead of drills, math sheets, and flash cards (of which our curriculum authors highly disapprove). so we will continue to play more math cards games (“addition go fish” and “war,” especially!) on days when a formal lesson just isn’t in the cards.

review in daily activity: driving in the car, eating lunch, making christmas cookies…we’ve done more review (questions and answers in our conversation) while driving in the car and making cookies this week. i know that the boys are retaining their lessons by asking questions about their work. no need for testing their knowledge on american history, advent lessons or reading. reading the recipe card and talking about fractions was yesterday’s math and reading review. i can appreciate this as i was a horrible test-taker in school. i’d get extremely nervous before each test, and on the days of test-grading.  i’m glad i don’t have to put my kids through it right now!

home ec: adam knows exactly how to scoop and scrape excess flour off for a recipe. rowan knows exactly how to run the kitchen aid mixer and vacuum cleaner and sawyer’s got folding socks into little balls down pat. i am not the ONLY ONE doing these jobs anymore!  i love seeing their daily practicing of normal activities become second nature to them.

one thing i realized this week was how independent even adam has become. i don’t have to stand over shoulders and help in every single thing we do anymore. yesterday we made frosting together for our christmas cut-out cookies, and while i handled the food coloring stage, the boys decorated their own cookies without me having to do it for them. and they look GOOD!

MORE playtime: yes, we have plenty of playtime already, but why not MORE? on tuesday of this week, two families came over for a morning of sledding and hot chocolate and lunch. even without snow, we can have more of these playtimes scheduled which helps us get through some rough weeks. and it’s good for moms as well!

here’s some photos from our weekly fun… these are my grammy’s cookie cutters and her rolling pin. we’ve made our christmas cut-outs for the year:

here are some of the finished products:

i’m adding this one because i finally caught (from a distance) one of the chickens hanging out on the donkey’s back. they prefer riding on the sheep (warm and cozy) and it’s cute and funny….but a pain when the chickens decide to defecate on my precious wool (click the picture for a closer look):

i hope to recap each or at least every other week of school this year so i have a better record of things we’ve done. pictures at the end of the post!  want to read more weekly wrap-ups of other homeschooling families?  check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers every Friday!

we love halloween in our family. i consider it the official kickoff of the holiday season. the boys look forward to trick-or-treating beginning in november. yes, they talk about their costumes for 11 months straight. and their plans change with their interests in toys, stories, movies, cartoons they’ve seen.

kenny and i used to dress up for halloween too, but we spend a lot more time up to the last minute working on the kids’ costumes that we never have time to figure something out for us. the last time i dressed for halloween, it was in a fairy costume (a lovely tutu with fairy wings from my friend nakedjen) when sawyer was a wee 6-week-old babe. eventually, we will make it a whole family event again.

so this week was spent figuring out last minute costumes, making changes after a night of trick-or-treating at a local mall and actually going against my normal refusal to purchase a whole costume and purchasing not one, but two costumes this year (they weren’t the outrageous priced once, but still, way more than we normally spend).

we also did some fun fall and halloween crafting with leaves, pine cones, and paint. i’ve put more an effort into more craft-type fun during the week because my pre-schooler LOVES that part of school. and the older two boys actually really like doing it as well. so we’re all happy at the end of the week if there’s been some art, or crafting.

we are coming to the end of our math lessons this week (left over from last year). we use Right Start Math. Sawyer is in Level A and Rowan is just finishing Level B. both boys started in Level B last year, but halfway through last year we noted that Sawyer was having trouble keeping up with Rowan. we still wanted him to do math, so we got him the lower level and began that level about halfway through the lessons. Rowan slowed down at the end of last year, so we didn’t rush to finish all the lessons. we continued with the latter part of Level B for the past two months, and now we’re ready to move both boys into the next level. this week, I combined one of the Level B lessons for both boys as Sawyer’s been speeding up his learning. we did a lesson on measurement together.

i gave them non-standard measuring tools (erasers and paper clips) to measure their abacus. i was pleasantly surprised at sawyer’s writing of 10 1/2 (since he hasn’t learned fractions yet): that is a 10 with a circle half-way filled in. so then today we started learning actual fractions. he got the concept almost immediately since we built on his picture of “half” on the chalkboard. i love learning “moments.”  and i love it when this adds to the confidence each boy is learning to have in their ability to learn.

our menu was crazy this week, so i’m not sharing (ha ha!). basically, all last minute menus because our plans changed every day. but that’s life…

happy halloween!