Sunday, August 24, 2014

A {Doll} House!!

A few weeks ago the mail-lady delivered a very big, very mysterious package!! (Susannah now thinks that the mail-lady brings us surprises!!) I had not ordered anything and was not expecting anything so I was a little puzzled. I did some thinking and putting two-and-two together (the address, the handwriting, etc.) and had a good idea of what the packaged contained.

Reading the letter from Miss Wendy

A phone call to my sister confirmed my suspicion. Her sister-in-law had built a doll-house and sent it to our girls!! The rest of that week was full with happenings and Daniel was busy so we waited until Sunday afternoon to open the Big Box.

Susannah and Sylvia were very excited to see that it was a doll-house and they were eager to help pull off the packing paper and find all the goodies carefully packed inside the house.

Wendy built doll-houses for her nieces (Sally's girls) and Susannah and Sylvia recently had enjoyed playing with their houses while they were visiting Sally's family in July. Little did they or I know a doll-house had been in the making for them since January!!

They love the house and spent many hours each day playing with it for the first several days. They have since moved on to other toys, but the house is still here and I know they will enjoy it again when they get tired of the "regular" toys.

I love the house!! I think it would be a fun house to live in if I were a tiny person. :) The details are so intricate, down to TEENY-TINY, framed photographs of our girls and a larger one (maybe 1.5" inches tall?) of our family hanging in the living room. So many details that personalize the house to the girls, our family and lifestyle (a rooster wall-hanging in the kitchen, a cat, ladybugs on one of the bedroom walls...).

A big, BIG "thank you!!!" to Miss Wendy for the love, time and detail put into making this beautiful house for the girls!! This is a treasure they will have for the rest of their lives.

Friday, August 15, 2014


In the 10.5 years that I have lived here, I don't ever remember having such a cool summer.  We had the air conditioning turned off for an entire week in JULY. I turned it off yesterday and opened the windows and it's still off. I don't know if the official temperature has hit 100° this summer (I suspect it has on a few days).  Usually summers are so hot and muggy that I dread going outside.

God has been giving us a wonderful gift of lovely, lovely summertime weather this year. Oh, I know it could still get super hot since sometimes our "summer" lasts through October, but I am thoroughly enjoying this mild summer!

I guess Daniel and I must comment to each other about what a "nice day" it's been weather-wise, and apparently little ears pick up on that. :)  Yesterday several minutes after one of us said how nice the day was, Sylvia said "It's a GOOOOOOOD day." It was a lovely day. After lunch I strapped on Charity (I think with baby #3 I have finally gotten the hang of baby-wearing!) and we went to visit the chickens. After we gathered the eggs the girls frolicked in the yard, running up and down the hill several times.

While it was Sylvia's turn in the swing, Susannah went over to the tree, sat down and said, "I'm going to sit and talk to God for a bit." Then she told me what all she was going to talk to Him about. I don't remember what all, but it was appropriate 4-year-old conversation topics. :)

Sylvia wanted to swing for a while so I was pushing her "up to the sky" as we call it. After a bit she called out, "Mama! I see the great, big sky!!"  I turned around and indeed, it was a lovely view of the sky. 

I love where we live. I do miss the mountain views that I grew up with, but these little 2.5 acres are pretty nice. :)  It's usually quiet. Dark at night so we can see the stars. A rooster crows in the mornings, and afternoons. :) Country enough that we can walk down the road and watch the combines in the field, or hear the hay-haulers driving back and forth on the road. Some evenings if the windows are open and the air is still I can hear cows lowing somewhere nearby.

I am so thankful for these GOOOOD days that we are given. Not only in terms of the weather, but the time given to me with our girls.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: I "Must-ache" You a Question

Mustaches courtesy of a Vacation Bible School prize that Sylvia won. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Day of Home-School, 2014

Susannah, age 4
Goal: Learning to Read

Sylvia, age 2
Observer and master of wooden puzzles. :)

We're eager to see what the year ahead holds for us. :)

Charity was napping when I took the previous photos, so here's her First Day of School picture:

 Charity, 4 months and 2 weeks old
Charity's goal: figure out how to move!
Mama's goal: get her to like food

Monday, August 11, 2014

Preparing for Homeschool - The First Year

Do I really dare call it "homeschooling" when all I will really be doing is teaching Susannah how to read and doing some math? Since I have ordered the material and it will require me to use a portion of each day to teach the material, then I guess yes, it is homeschooling.

As I face the quickly approaching school year as a first time homeschooling mom, so many thoughts cross my mind.

Can I do this? Can I really teach her how to read, do simple math, AND do everything else that must be done? Can I keep up with the dishes? The laundry? The baths, potty trips and diaper changes? Can I keep two other little people happily busy while I teach one something specific?

Is she ready? Yes, of course she's ready. She wants to know how to read. ...but what if it doesn't click? What if I don't know how to teach everything in a way she can understand and learn and retain and and and...  

Will she pay attention long enough to do each lesson?

Will I recognize if it's not working so we can step back and take a break if we need to? I don't want to frustrate her...

I want it to be fun. I know that all learning cannot be "fun" but as much as I can I want homeschooling to be a good experience. For all of us. What if either of us gets tired of schooling? You can't just stop doing school like you can stop playing with kitchen toys or blocks or whatever.

And on and on go similar thoughts in my head. So many "what ifs."

On the other hand, I am so excited for so many reasons. Mostly to see her mind unlock the treasure of reading. I love books. I think Susannah will enjoy reading so much! She wants to be able to read so badly. I haven't told her yet that we will be starting school soon, so that she can learn to read. I am excited to see her excitement.

I'm excited at all the fun adventures the future holds. All the fun field trips I want to do.  We had gone to the printers to pick up some teacher's handbooks that I had printed off of a disc. While standing in the print shop I had the idea to someday take a field trip to a printing place. A working dairy. Museums. Historic places and landmarks. Factories (Hershey, PA is top of the list when they are old enough!!!). So many more ideas go through my head. I know these aren't homeschooler-specific things to do but things that I think will make homeschooling "the bee's knees!"

I've heard about many ways to teach reading and have honestly done little-to-no research on what method I wanted to use. For a while I thought I would just use the same curriculum that I had learned with, but then I heard about American Language Series from a friend. The more I heard about it the more I wanted to use it. 

We will be using American Language Series which covers phonics & reading and spelling, writing & vocabulary simultaneously. (I didn't order from this site, but you can read a very good overview of the course here.)

For Math, we will use Horizon - K (overview here). It was recommended for going together well with the learning to read program. I have had fun looking through these books and anticipate that Susannah will have fun, too.

I don't anticipate that at 4 years old she will grasp everything covered and my guess is that we will make it so far and then put the books away for next year. My goal for this year is to teach her how to read. We can worry about nouns and punctuation and graphs and math later. :) 

We are fortunate that when we built the addition we included a school-room. It's the least-finished room in the entire house but finished or not, here we come!!  One thing I am really excited to do is to make our school room an enjoyable place to learn. I don't know how realistic it is, but I plan and hope to put up some decorations and use various decorative/creative ways to help with learning. I bought a huge bale of colored contruction paper at Costco the last trip and plan to put it to good use!! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Good Ol' Summertime

It is hard to believe that we are already to August!! I was gazing at Charity today (yes, gazing :) ) and felt some sad twinges to realize that she will be 1/2 a year old next month. The end of next month but still...
She enjoys playing and holds her head up well. She CAN roll herself over but has yet to do it intentionally. That is nothing new for our babies. They learn at their own speed. :) She is one happy little girl! Matchbox cars are a little advanced for her, but I took these pictures when Sylvia so kindly shared a car with Charity. :) 

I feel like I am finally back on the wagon of maintaining our house since Charity was born. A big boost in that department was when my sister invited Susannah and Sylvia to spend a few days at their house last month. Charity and I hung out here and I did some serious "get things back in shape" cleaning!

I am learning to harness the power of the natural energy that lives in our house. ;) The girls love running the vacuum sweeper so I let them each take a turn or two after we've cleaned up the floor. Once it turns into a "turn it on/turn it off" game I take over and sweep up everything that's left.

I'm pretty fortunate that at the age of 4 (almost 4 1/2) Susannah still takes a nap almost every day.  However, if I put her down for a nap at 2:00 she is like a jack-in-the-box and doesn't get any rest (and ends up not in the greatest of moods by bedtime). So most days she gets the privilege of staying up and we work on something together until 3:00. Then she has to stay on her bed and rest at least until I go open her door at 4:00. It is rare that she doesn't fall asleep and take a good 2 hour nap. :) That tells me she's still benefiting from naptimes.  Unrelated, but I'm pretty certain she's going through a growth spurt. She, who never complains about being hungry and typically eats like a bird most of the time, has been coming to me about 2 hours after every meal asking for more food because she's hungry. Last night she polished off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 9pm!!

One day this week she helped me finish making the bread I started at lunch time. She used her little wad of dough to make tiny cinnamon rolls. It thrilled her to no end and she and Sylvia had them for their after-nap snack.

We have now officially experienced the Coxsackie virus in our family (also known as Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease). Daniel had it the mildest several weeks ago and we didn't even realize that's what it was (he had 3 spots on his arms) until the rest of us got it and we put two and two together. Susannah and Sylvia were great little patients and were pretty happy through the whole ordeal. Susannah did have an ulcer in her mouth but rarely made mention of it and always ate well. 

Poor Charity had it the worst on her skin. She didn't seem bothered by it, but two of the days she didn't have very good naptimes and didn't like being down to play. I ended up pulling out the Snugli baby carrier and used that some since she was happy if I was holding her.

I feel like I suffered the worst. Since it's more prone in children I was hoping to escape. Not helping was randomly getting Strep Throat out of nowhere to start my round off. I went to the Dr. to have that checked out and while we were getting my prescription filled I noticed the first blister forming on my thumb. That was Saturday at noon, and by Sunday morning I had 3 ulcers in my mouth from the virus. It was complete agony as my feet had blisters on the soles and felt like walking on stick-pins when I walked, and anything with my mouth besides carefully moving my lips and tip of my tongue hurt like fire. I lived on drinking smoothies and pureed soup through a straw from Saturday evening until Tuesday night when I very, VERY carefully ate some "real" food. 

At first I was thinking "it's just a virus, no big deal..." Well, I will never, ever, EVER consider it to be "no big deal." I admire Susannah's pain tolerance (or perhaps the Lord's protection over her?) and am so grateful to be mostly on the other side of this now.

Now August is here and I am turning many of my spare-time-thoughts towards school. I'm pretty excited that this coming Monday is our first day of home-school. Susannah doesn't know it yet, but she will be learning to read. :)  She really wants to be able to read and is showing all the signs of being ready. I am eager to watch it "click" in her brain! She has seen two "secret packages" come in the mail (the school books) and is very, VERY excited to find out what was in them. We plan to tell her this weekend. You might want to stay tuned for a post or two about that. :)