Around Here Week 37: 09/12-18

Thursday, September 30, 2021

 A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this moment. 

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  468+ hours (of 1000)
We got lots of walks in this week (especially since we were learning about leaves in homeschool pre-k!) I was enamored with all the mushrooms under the pine trees at the top of the pasture - we call them fairy homes and Violet was so excited to see we had a whole fairy village under there! 

Reading The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Really enjoying it and all the characters. The kids are so so sweet and the wildness of the house actually reminds me of our wacky house in all it's chaos and little kid innocent messiness. 

More doc appointments this week (it goes on and on in a big family to get everyone in). Rust and I had eye doc appointments and then Gem's glasses and Brandon's contacts were ready for pick up later in the week.  The whole family (minus the two babies) went for a chiropractic visit to get re-aligned. I was by far the one in need the most (ahem, two babies in two years will do that to a body....yikes). Everyone felt a lot better though to get a tune-up though. 

Loving all the joy that pours out of our little nearly 4month old chubby bunny baby. She is so very squishy and sweet. She loves smiling and talking to people the most of all, but she also loves being outside. She was delighted to see her reflection in the hallway mirror - a friend! We should all look at our reflection and be as overjoyed as Livy is to see a friend! 

Visiting my sweet little nephew Wells. It was a quick stop with the three littles during the school day, but I was happy to get in a few snuggles and to give my sis a hug too. She is wearing motherhood so beautifully and gracefully. I am so proud of her and honestly, I'm just crying about it so bye. 

Smiling to see how much the kids love our family yearbooks, even Reddy! He has really been into them recently and takes his good old time looking at each page intently. I can hardly wait for our newest one to arrive!  

Updating the kids' baby books with some photos. Even with six kids, I have really tried to maintain at least somewhat of a baby book for each of them. I ordered some pictures off my app this week and they arrived pretty quickly so I could update the books. We don't bring them out very often (I keep them on a high shelf in the linen closet for safe keeping) but when I do bring them down, the kids always love looking at their own book. 

Turning in paperwork for the kids to attend Sunday school at our new church: St. David's! It starts next week and although we haven't completed all the steps to be official members; the kids will be ready to roll for Sunday school at least. 

Sporting with two football practices for Violet and Grey. Gemma had one cheer, one basketball, and one soccer (hah!) Brandon spent Friday night in the box at the Varsity football game at Berlin too. And it was another 7 hour day at the football field - this time at Portage for the flag game (Violet), minors game (Gem cheering), and majors game (Grey). It is so sweet to me how the players all find their way over to our tent and play with our younger kids and eat our snacks and drop all their gear with us until it's game time. I'm just over here living Tami Taylor's life. (hahha, currently obsessing over Friday Night Lights right now...don't mind me drooling over Big Tim Riggins and Coach Taylor). 

Making church picnic chicken on the grill, sloppy joes and mac&cheese, cream cheese chicken taquitos, and turkey chili. For the football game I packed up a bunch of pb&j's and threw in some oreos and mini gatorades to keep the kids from going to the concession stand a million times. I tried to stick to keto this week somewhat (I actually do really love Bulletproof coffee) but kind of fell of the wagon by the end of the week. 

Home Pre-K: Week 5

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

We had a math and science heavy week at homeschool pre-k just because it seemed like acorn manipulatives were naturally lending themselves to those types of activities.  

We went on a walk on Monday to collect acorns and we took oak leaves from last week's collection to help guide our way to the oak trees (hahha). While we were on our acorn walk, we randomly stumbled upon a skull of some kind! So we took a little acorn learning pause and detoured into some skull hypothesizing. Rust thought it might be a small fox, groundhog, rabbit, or a big squirrel. He also decided it definitely was NOT a turkey or coyote or bear or snake or mouse. After comparing and contrasting a lot of internet pictures of skulls (lol, my google history is w.e.i.r.d.) we determined it was a groundhog!

Other than that, all the brothers and sisters (and Dad!) were super happy to reap the benefits of 'Acorn' dessert treats and Rust really loved playing the Find the Acorns game.  

Unit: Autumn
Lesson: Acorns

Books we read:
Little Acorn by Scholastic Nature Stories
Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow
Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin

Memory Verse
5 little acorns sitting in a tree
Here comes Mr. Squirrel as hungry as can be
The autumn winds blew 
And rustled all the leaves
Down fell an acorn
Mr. Squirrel was pleased 
(repeat with 4, 3, 2, 1 and use puppets)

I did a diagnostic 'test' with Rust to get a benchmark as to which lowercase letters he knew for certain. He himself could only point to and name without prompting: o, x, and r. After that, we sang the alphabet song together while I pointed to each letter and it sort of blew his mind that the song IS each letter. So then when I pointed to an "e" afterwards, he whispered the song while pointing to the letters until he got to the right one and said triumphantly, "E!" It's good to know where we are starting at and I will check back in again periodically to make sure we are moving in the right direction of letter recognition. 

Language Arts:
Acorn mini book
highlighting all the letter "a" in the book
Matching capital A and lowercase a

counting acorns (putting correct number of acorns in sidewalk chalk circles)
Venn Diagram of sorting: acorn hats, acorn bottoms, full acorns
Ten-frame completion
Missing number cut&glue worksheet
Counting worksheets
"Feed the squirrel" activity with real acorns & number cards 
Patterns using our painted acorns

1 page of handwriting

learning the name of acorn trees: oak
learning that acorns can turn into oak trees
matching oak leaves to figure out where we might find acorns
discovering that most acorns float, but some sink! (because they have holes)

Making "acorn" dessert treats (Hershey kisses, mini vanilla wafers, and chocolate chips)

Painting acorns

Physical Play:
Nature walks to find acorns
Tossing acorns into a bucket from various distances away 
Find the squirrels acorn game (like hiding&finding Easter eggs)

Around Here Week 36: 09/05-11

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

 A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this moment.

if you look closely, that is Violet on the back of that sheep!

Can you find Rusty? hahah, he wore full camo on our hike

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 454+ hours (of 1000)
The kids and I went took multiple walks around our house this week - I call it the treestand loop - and it is exactly the right distance that Red can do the whole thing on his own two feet! Then the three littles and I took a walk with Uch and baby Wells at Stackhouse park on Friday.

Reading The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune 

Swimming one last time at Pappy & Gigi's house before they closed the pool! It was a chilly day on Sunday and the pool was pretty chilly too - but the four big kids all at least jumped in once to make it official - last swim of the summer! 

Labor Day grilling out with my parents and sisters and baby Wells on Monday. I took our whole crew to play and eat for most of the day to give Brandon a few hours to get a bunch of outside chores that just needed done (mowing, clearing out the animal feed shed). So while the kids and I enjoyed good food and company (thanks Adams crew!) Brandon did the 'labor' part of the holiday - HAH. However, we are both in agreeance that a few hours of uninterrupted time to just get chores done is a massive gift in a big family. 

Cheering on my sheep rodeo kids! We headed out to the county fair on Sunday night with my parents and sister Kitty (annual tradition!) and my dad got Violet and Rusty signed up to participate in the Mutton Bustin event (aka sheep rodeo) that was set to occur before the bull rodeo. The kids had never done it, but we had watched a few youtube videos over the weekend and they were pumped. There were 20 kids signed up (ages 4-8) and Rust and Violet did awesome. It was absolutely hilarious and I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. Those sheep are fast; they come zooming out of the gate! Violet scored a 69 and Rust scored a 70. When he fell off the sheep, he went flat backed into a huge mud pit and his hair was spiked up in the back from the caked mud (manure? HAH). They had a great time and want to do it again. Although Rusty told us that the sheep was kind of wet and it's wool smelled like "dead turd" and it the smell and wetness got on his cheek while he was riding it. (lol forever). You can see the videos here: Violet and Rusty - thank you Aunt Kitty for the videos! 

Laughing so hard with Violet at the fair - she agreed to ride a little baby ride for Reddy's sake and then it went on and on and on and on and at one point she looked at me exasperated and mouthed "How long is this ride?!" Neither of us could stop giggling after that and it literally went on for like seven minutes (which is the longest time ever on a carnival ride!? Especially one that does nothing but go around and around). It was really so funny and Vi and I had a real moment of being the only two people on the whole Earth laughing about something so weird and random. (I love those moments). 

Excited about Gemma's motivation to run for Student Council. She wrote her speech (she wants to hold a dribblethon to raise money for new outdoor basketball hoops!), rehearsed it multiple times in front of us and our extended family, and made all her posters for school. The election was on Friday and she was able to read her speech to the class and then came home smiling to announce that she made it! Sometimes she is so much like me that I get vertigo. My sister Uch asked me, "how is it to raise your own actual self?" HAH. 

Making our rounds at all the appointments. Grey and B had eye doc appoints, Rusty and I visited the dentist. And Gemma had a vision test with Dr. Conway to see how her eye muscles work and a whole host of other things to see if that might be contributing to her struggles with academic learning. B and I had a consult with the doctor on Friday and it seems that vision therapy to help Gemma's eye learn to work together might really help her. Basically, when you read, your eyes need to travel together along the page, but her left eye (the one she complains often about 'being tired') can't keep up with her right eye as she reads on a page so often times it is blurry or looks doubled or even that a word/letter/number will "jump" to a place it wasn't before. 

Delighted to see that we had four sunflowers survive the goats' attempt at munching them all down! 

Catching up with Heather one afternoon. She brought lunch over and we spent most of the afternoon chatting on the back porch -finally!- after we hadn't seen each other in way too long. Something about getting to just chat with an open heart with a judgement free friend is such a comfort. Thankful for you and our friendship, Heather! (thank you for lunch too!)

Finishing up breastfeeding. It feels like the right time for me; for us. It's sooner than I had originally thought, but with five other kids it has been so hard to have her feeding fall solely on my shoulders multiple times a day. It has really been a relief to be able to let others help me feed her and she has taken to a bottle and formula really smoothly. Maybe it's selfish of me, but she is doing great with the switch and it feels like a true weight lifted off my chest (hah, pun intended) to be able to share her at mealtimes with other people that love her. She is good, I'm good; we are good. 

Attending the open house at the elementary school and soaking in joyfully the full hour of adult interaction time - hahahahhaha, I nearly forgot that particular sahm struggle.  

Finishing our 2020-21 family yearbook. OMG!! Doing a happy and proud and creativity outlet dance because yaaaaaaay! it's done! and yaaaaay I can start working on this year! (LOL, NERD.) 

Smiling for Rusty who was so proud to be gifted Grey's old bow since Grey has 'graduated' to a bigger size. Luckily for us (and our wallets), he gets to use Brandon's old bow (from his childhood) and then passed his down to Rust. Archery season is on the horizon and my camo boys could not be more excited. 

Thanking Mr. Mike on September 11th. Mr. Mike is our neighbor and our kids' resource officer at school - plus, he was a state police officer on 09/11/2001 and was one of the first responders to the Flight 93 crash which is only a few miles from our house. He is so friendly and kind and a real life hero! We delivered some handmade cards and snickerdoodles to let him know we are grateful for him.

Sporting Grey had two football practices and a jr. high golf match. Violet had three football practices, and Gemma had one cheer practice and a soccer practice at the Highlands. B participated in a fundraiser golf outing too!  

Making instant pot pork chops, chicken, veggie, and stuffing casserole, ground turkey tacos, leftover rigatonis with texas toast, shrimp and broccoli with alfredo sauce, and chicken and zucchini casserole. B and I tried to eat more Keto than not this week too, so lots of Bulletproof coffee, avocado, and limited carbs. 

Around Here Week 35: 08/29-09/04

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

 A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this moment. 

this tree's name is Agnes and she's my favorite in our whole 14 acres

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 427+ hours (of 1000)
Ida (as in the hurricane) made her way up North and slammed into our region on Wednesday with massive amounts of rain for a solid 36 hours. The kids' school even had an early dismiss to account for all the water flooding the roads making bus routes very difficult. We had a little scare here in our hometown of all the floods where it was incorrectly announced on the national weather channel that one of our dams broke (hyper scary because that has happened here 3 times in the past, most recently in 1977). Luckily though, it was not true but it made for a lot of crazy social media frenzy - such a snapshot of how out of control rumors can get in today's day and age. 

Reading The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune little by little. I get to read at naptime and at bedtime consistently and then I try to squeeze it in any other opportunity. I snuck in a little reading on the back porch this week while the boys played in the yard during the school day and it was bliss. 

Harvesting our garden. We've been collecting all summer, but on Sunday the kids and I went out and really tried to clear some plants. Our tomatoes are completely out of control (Cherry, Roma, and Pear). Our zucchini plants produced their last two (thank goodness!) Cabbage is looking beautiful and our green peppers are still going strong. I chopped up the peppers and flash froze them before putting them in a freezer bag for the winter. I chopped the cabbage to freeze. I froze some corn on the cob that we were gifted from our friends who grow it on their farm. Gemma took a bunch of 'orders' from her teachers and bus driver for veggies that she loaded up and carried to school (hah!) 

Getting into the swing of the school year routine. It was another short week this week (no school Friday for the holiday) so we are easing our way back into the groove. The babies and I are also adjusting to our weekday rhythm at home. I'm kind of loving the routine of it all and feel like it's keeping me motivated and focused. 

Intentionally focusing on my reactions and interactions with Grey. I hate feeling like all of our conversations are me correcting his behavior. I hear myself and see his face and know that this is not building the kind of relationship I want with him. Gosh, middle school boys though - whyyyyy. And as I'm chatting with him in the morning before school, there he is fiddling with a hair tie and absent mindedly slingshots it behind the couch and I cannot tell you the internal struggle it took to not interrupt our pleasant conversation to be like DUDE?! WHY?! I did some reflecting and researching because that's how I do. I liked this list that gave me cut to the chase ideas and it inspired me to ask him what annoyed him at school this week and it was a great conversation starter (LOL). I'm also trying to embrace things that he enjoys (with lots of boundaries) and watched him play a game of Fortnite (it was actually kind of intense and he was nearly killed by a wolf....?!) and he got a kick out of Reddy trying to play too - so it ended up being a solid 20 minutes of relationship building. Anyway, Mommas, hang in there - we got this. 

Getting henna on our hands for family night. We all picked a different little stencils (even B!) Rusty chose a spider and wanted it painted right in the middle of his chest like spiderman (hysterical). Gem and I got matching hearts on our hands. 

Laughing to myself somedays because -not always - but sometimes six kids feels like A LOT OF FREAKING KIDS...and the noise and the mess and the movement and the wildness of it all sometimes stops me in my tracks. Most times it feels exactly right (chaotic) but exactly right...but sometimes we just laugh because who in the actual hell is supposed to be in charge over here with all these kids?! 

Feeling proud of Gem for being true to her feelings. She was scheduled to go to the beach for the holiday weekend with my bestie and her daughter (Gemma's bestie), but Gem has been a little nervous at night for the past few weeks about it. I let Kate and Soph know that Gem was still on the fence and that it might come down to a last minute decision. They are so loving and gracious of me and my girl (thank you guys) and said that they would understand either way. She decided the day before the trip that she just was not ready yet for that kind of trip so far (Delaware) and for that many days (4) to be away from us yet on her own. She really wanted to go though, so it was a big deal for her to listen to her guts and make a hard choice. She is only 9 (so hard to remember that because she's so mature). I am so grateful for Kate and Soph who assured her that they understood (love you guys xxo)

Snagging that pesky fox!  Finally after that fox has been killing our chickens all summer, Brandon finally got a shot at him. We started the summer with 35 chickens and we have only 19 now because that fox has been a determined little thing despite all our efforts at keeping our girls safe (snow fence, limited free ranging, Bullet keeping watch).

Visiting with cousins. Adam and Lea were in from Chicago and they stopped by to visit with Aunt Dar. It was so nice seeing them after nearly two years (#thankscovid) and the kids were so pumped to play soccer with Adam. It was lovely and relaxing to catch up - missed you guys so much! 

Working on the back porch. Brandon and my dad (Chum), were busy working on the back porch electric to get the overhead lights and ceiling fans to work. Progress is coming along slowly but surely and I daydream about what it will look like when it's all done, but I love having it every step of the way too! 

Sporting with a holiday week for Labor Day (ie. no games). Gem had two cheer practices and a basketball practice. Violet and Grey each had two football practices.

Making a ham in the crockpot, Hawaiian meatballs over rice, and loaded baked potato soup in the slow cooker with a side of beer bread, hamburgers and cheddar brats on the grill, and spaghetti with ground turkey sauce. I also made a batch of banana bread for breakfast on the early dismiss day.