Hiking #1

Last year, I had great intentions of making nature hikes a priority. However, our school year last year felt chaotic from beginning to end. Adding something extra – that had to be done away from the house, with snacks or food, drinks for everyone, sketch books, colored pencils, cameras, etc – seemed a little overwhelming. We did what we could in our backyard, but this year I hope to do more. So, after reading quite a bit about Charlotte Mason’s theory behind nature walks and some help from this blog, I feel a little more prepared and ready to make this a regular part of our year.
Last week, with Kevin as our tour guide, we headed out to a local park for our first hike of the year. It was a beautiful day and the girls were thrilled – they all love to hike, look for bugs, take pictures, etc. When I go by myself, I put Daphne in a stroller and we take only paved paths. Since Kevin was with us, we decided to veer off the paved path and take a true nature hike.

. . .and we are off!

Here are some of our finds:

This squirrel was totally unaware of us watching him. He sat there and gnawed on his nut while we snapped pictures and watched him. Daphne was amazed – she kept pointing and giggling.

Look closely. . .on the red leaf

The girls spent some time drawing pictures in their nature journals. They gathered a few items: multi-colored leaves, flowers that had fallen on the ground, shells, dragonfly wing, etc. This year I am more prepared. I have nature journals, colored pencils, ziploc bags, and bug spray in a bag so all I have to do is grab the bag and head out (with water and snacks, of course).
Other than Kevin ending up with poison ivy (it was to be expected – he just looks at it from afar and ends up it all over), we had a great hike, and everyone napped/rested well after an hour hike. We are looking forward to the next one.

First Day of School

We started school on Thursday and because no first day of school would be complete without pictures:

Lucy – Kindergarten (ahh! when did this happen!)

Norah – 2nd grade
(look here and tell me what the most noticeable difference is from last year)

Daphne – not to be left out of the “first day of school” pictures
(look closely at her eyes – she was actually running a fever of about 102 on that day)

. . .and they are ready to go! Poor Daphne tries to keep up even when she feels miserable.

The Magic House

*edited after Kevin pointed out some typos! oops. should have read it over more closely!
Kevin took the day off on Tuesday so we could have one last “hurrah” before starting school. We took the girls to Panera Bread Co for breakfast – choosing a breakfast place is quite difficult when you have a child with an egg and nut allergy. The ONLY things she can have at Panera are a couple of their bagels – but we can’t get them sliced because of the cross contamination. Crazy. I guess she could have a yogurt – but I didn’t want to deal with that mess before heading to the Magic House.
The girls had a blast at the Magic House. We haven’t been for a long time mainly because I don’t think it is easy to take 3 kids there and keep track of everyone. Norah and Lucy want to go one way and Daphne wants to go somewhere else. With Kevin and I both there – we could divide and conquer!
We enjoyed many favorite exhibits:

the electrically charged ball

one of many slides


The Children’s Village – the girls LOVED the baby hospital

The Star Spangled Center

The Construction Zone

The Alice in Wonderland Exhibit was super cute – the girls loved it! We are going to read Alice in Wonderland this year for school so it was fun for the girls to get to see some of the characters and scenes!

We stayed for about 4 1/2 hours before one (who shall remain nameless) of the girls started losing it.
We had a great day – the girls LOVED having Kevin take a day off in the middle of the week because he never does that.
Stay tuned for pictures of the first day of school.

Last Minutes Planning and Preparing

Hard to believe but the summer is gone. We start school this week – we are waiting until Thursday so we can ease into a routine. I have worked like crazy getting stuff ready. My house is clean, the laundry room is organized (I know, totally unrelated to school but I needed this done for myself), the art table is ready to go and the school lesson plans are done through November.
I still have a couple of things to do this week:
1. Lots of laminating (some BCC stuff and some school stuff) – this is actually almost done. I will finish it tonight.
2. I am doing some Montessori stuff with Daphne – I just need to decide how to display her activities and what to do when she is finished with her school time. I want her “school time” and her play time to be separate so I may just have to clean all her stuff up everyday. Not sure how I feel about this but I don’t know what else to do. I am open to suggestions.
3. Our meals are planned for the next 10 days or so and most of my grocery shopping is done. I will just need to go to the produce stand at the end of the week for more fruits and veggies.
4. I need to try to put together some sort of schedule for myself when it comes to housekeeping and cooking. I would love to have 2 days a week that we do either a crock pot meal or something that is made ahead in the freezer. I need a weekend to cook, though. Maybe I can convince my sister to cook ahead with me. She is really good at that! My goal this year is to not obsess about my house. Yes, I want it clean and picked up but it doesn’t have to be perfect AND the girls can help. We have tried chore charts in the past and for some reason as much as charts and list work for me – we couldn’t be consistent about it with the girls. I am still thinking about that. They have been great about helping with some things this summer – folding laundry, sweeping the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher, and making beds – so I hope to just keep that up for now and figure out a schedule later.
5. Today I worked on snacks. We have never done a morning snack – unless we were out somewhere. The girls don’t usually eat until 7:30 and we would eat lunch between 11 and 11:30 and then they would have a snack around 3ish. However, with Lucy in kindergarten now, our schedule needs to be a little different. Lucy shuts down around 2:00 in the afternoon. She doesn’t nap – but she NEEDS time away from everyone else. We joke (not to her, but between ourselves) that she shuts down physically, mentally and morally. If she doesn’t regularly have that time to rest/relax by herself, she forgets all the rules/values that she has been taught and just acts on impulse. That being said, she needs to be done with school work by lunch time. I know that some kids her age still go half day, but when I am teaching both girls different things,
some things may take longer and she will have breaks during her morning while I work with Norah. My plan is to have a schedule snack time for each of them. While I work with Norah on one subject, Lucy can take a break and have a snack and the same for Norah. I didn’t want to have to stop what I am doing with one to get a snack for the other girls, so I put together a bunch of snacks for the girls to grab on their own. I wanted the snack to be substantial, though, not something that would give them immediate energy but make them crash 20 minutes later. So, they will each choose a protein and a carb for their morning snack. They know that if they have a favorite, once it is gone, that is it for the week. They will have to choose something else.
The protein options are – roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed butter, cottage cheese, and string cheese. Their carb options are – goldfish crackers, rice cakes, several fruit options, carrots & cucumbers (with dip, of course). They also have a couple of options that covers both macronutrients – greek yogurt with fruit mixed in and trail mix (I used sunflower seeds instead of nuts). I marked the protein options with a ‘p’ and the carb options with a ‘c’ and anything that includes both I put ‘p&c.’ I am hoping that by giving them a hearty snack mid-morning that we can wait until about 1 for lunch and then Daphne will go down for a nap and Lucy will be ready for her rest time. They will still have a snack after rest time if they are hungry – but it will be lighter – just to get us to dinner.
I am sure I have several other things to take care of – just can’t think of anything right now. Kevin is staying home tomorrow so we can have one last hurrah before we start school on Thursday. I bought the girls school supplies over the weekend and wrapped them in a bag. We will give them their gifts tomorrow – since they don’t have the anticipation of going off to school we wanted to do something fun for them.
I will try to take some typical first day of school pics this week. Stay tuned!

Just a Little Behind

I know I am a little behind my “weekly check-ins”- oops. This summer has been CRAZY!! Fun, but crazy!! We have had multiple birthday parties and lots of play-dates!! And the weather has finally gotten HOT so we are spending as much time in/near water as we can.

We are starting school in just over 3 weeks so I am planning/preparing like crazy – literally every spare minute. Adding Lucy into the mix is making me feel a little overwhelmed! Not adding her – but adding one more. I know we can do it but it may take a little longer to get into a good routine. What does Norah do while I am working one on one with Lucy and vice versa? What will Daphne do while I am working with Norah and Lucy at the same time? Last year, Lucy was a huge help by playing with Daphne while I worked with Norah on things that she needed my undivided attention. Like I said, I know we will figure it out but we may need to work out some kinks.
Oh, and I also have been trying to organize our school stuff in our unfinished part of the basement. A year ago Kevin put up an old countertop at the girls level to make an art table. I thought that it would be so fun to have an art table in the unfinished part so I don’t have to worry about paint getting on anything. We hung some shelves and I began organizing – a year ago. Then the counter became a gathering place for stuff. This is what it looked like when I started (let me warn you – it is BAD):

It is almost done – but we have a large box in the middle of the floor now (another project). I will take after pictures soon, but let me just say that Norah and Lucy have spent several hours back there already!! I am so excited for them to just be able to create!!
Besides all the planning that I am doing, we are trying to take advantage of our last couple of weeks of summer. Lots of fun to be had!!

VBS & Swim Lessons

Last week was about the craziest yet! Norah and Lucy had VBS all week and they had a blast. I enjoyed several mornings alone with just Daphne. On Monday morning she and I came straight home to play after dropping off Norah and Lucy at the church. She had a snack and then we played for 2 hours straight. When it was time to head back to the church, I said, “Daphne, it’s time to go.” She replied, “Where, Mom?” I said, “To church to get the big girls.” She replied with a giggle, “Oh, uh got (forgot).” I thought it was funny that in a couple of hours she had forgotten about picking up Norah and Lucy!! The girls have been singing their songs constantly!! It is so cute!!
The girls also finished up their swim lessons. Everyone was a bit nervous – they always are at the beginning of the season – but they ended up doing fantastic!! The first week was HOT! I think it was about 100 degrees even at 7 p.m. The second week was the opposite – it was cloudy and cold, with the threat of rain each day. The goal of Daphne’s class was obviously to get them comfortable with the water. She has no problem with that but she can’t be in the next class until she is 3. One of us had to get in the water with her – so Kevin and I took turns.

This picture is appropriate after the week of rain we had. Everyday we wondered if we would actually have swim lessons.
The goals of Lucy’s class are to get the kids to start swimming with their faces under the water, to practice kicking and to introduce arm movements. She did great with the kicking and the arms, but was not interested in putting her face under until the last day. She did great and is excited to swim more this summer!

The goals of Norah’s class are to continue practicing basic swimming strokes, learning to tread water in the deep end, building confidence and, apparently, jumping off the diving board. We didn’t know that jumping off the diving board was part of the class until the end of the first week Norah’s teacher made her jump off. Norah walked to the end – refused to jump so the swim team coach came up behind her and dropped her in the water (she quickly told Norah what she was going to do before she actually did it). I was stunned – to say the least. I really didn’t think that at 7 – that it was absolutely necessary to force her to jump off. By the second week, though, Norah was confident enough to jump off by herself multiple times.

For Father’s Day we went to the Aquaport. We bought a voucher through Living Social and for 4 people it was a great deal. Despite the crazy amount of rain we have had over the last week, this afternoon was beautiful!! Great day for the pool!!
This week is going to be a little more relaxing – hopefully.