My definition of a "loose" day is when we have a few errands to run, we visit with friends during part of what would normally be a "school" day, we bring Ari to his preschool class and then head to our local coffee shop for a treat, etc. I find that the children will always bring something constructive with them to do. It's usually a book - Ty is presently obsessed with Charles Dickens and Kendall is many volumes deep in a Liz Kessler series. They will bring drawing and craft supplies with them most places, mini brain teaser puzzles, and/or math manipulatives. This is on their own volition. I just tell them to bring "something" when we go out and about. What they grab always amazes me. My heart doesn't seize as much anymore that on our "loose" days they aren't formally learning (read: sitting at a desk grinding away at worksheets) because our conversations, their questions and thought provoking statements amaze me. They have become voracious readers and are devouring books at a rapid clip.
The children are LOVING their Ecology and Art class which is run through the Mass Audubon Society (one of our very favorite places), they are enthralled with their weekly music lessons (Kendall piano and Tyler guitar) and we are always attending fun classes at our library (Lego club, STEM classed run by 4H, elementary book club just to name a few!). Kendall is churning through amazing projects in her weekly sewing class and Tyler is loving dance, as always. They are both presently writing children's books that they hope to self publish. They decided that if they are able to self publish and sell their books (we'd start with family and friends, obviously) they want to donate 100% of the sale of the books to Shriner's Hospital in Boston. For those of you who know us IRL or who read this blog regularly know that last spring Kendall had an accident while cooking and badly burned both of her hands. Thanks to Shriner's in Boston, where she received the most amazing care, she is absolutely fine. She has minimal external scarring that will eventually fade but is mostly emotionally scarred and has not had an interest in cooking since. Anyway, it is the most worthy medical facility and so deserving of any donation possible.
We took a trip to Plimoth Plantation at the end of October while the weather her in New England was still lovely. Kendall had been when she was in ps but it was rainy and cold so I seized an opportunity on a gorgeous day just before Halloween to whisk them down to Plymouth for the day and we did both Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II. I have to admit that somehow, regardless of the fact that I have lived in MA for my entire life I somehow missed both of these amazing places! The children (even Ari) LOVED visiting and learning all day long.
Both older children are involved in a remote control car club where they meet with other children of mixed ages to trail ride, talk about and design their remote control cars. Some of the kids have super amazingly custom built vehicles while others (like mine) have $30 cars from Walmart that work great and serve their purpose! I love that the kids get to be outside, hiking and socializing with their friends while doing a fun activity!! They have also been spending most Thursday mornings with our homeschool community. Ari has school so I stay close to home but a dear friend of mine takes them along with her son to join in amazing seasonally themed crafts and lessons. Last week they made corn husk dolls (swoon!) and this week they will be making maize necklaces and bracelets while spending time with their wonderful fellow homeschoolers! It's an amazing group and one we're so lucky to be a part of.
My children have been connecting and bonding with some wonderful friends. As much as I'd love all of our friends to be in our town, I've found that making day trips and spending quality time far out weighs the mass quantities of time spent with acquaintances as they did when they were in ps. They are truly connecting and making life long friendships.
Both older children have become pen-pals with fellow homeschoolers. It's a phenomenal way to work on their handwriting, spelling, grammar and letter writing skills. I don't care how digital of an age we live in, and call me old fashioned but there is something so wonderful about hand writing your thoughts down on paper and sending them to a friend. There is also the tiniest bit of sparkle when you open the mailbox and see not a bill, a piece of junk mail, a flyer...but a letter an actual handwritten letter addressed to you. It's an incredible feeling. It's a tiny gesture but one that definitely leaves an imprint. I love that the children are motivated and interested in writing to their friends with absolutely zero involvement from me. It's a beautiful thing to see.
In other news, we've been having lots of fun with science experiments and our monthly subscription to the Magic School Bus Science club. Every month there is a theme and we receive a package in the mail with the supplies for a handful of experiments. It's a tiny bit young for them but not egregiously so and I like that it helps them focus on the cause and effect of science along with the process of experiments. I like to do experiments that have a huge WOW effect (think baking soda volcanoes, color changing heat sensitive slime, microwave expandable soap, etc) but the MSB science kits are more methodical and focus on a specific element or force. Not all of the experiments are WOW immediately but take time to prepare and build. Don't get me wrong, they are easy and come with mostly everything you need but they make the children think and come up with what they they think might happen. We then write down what actually did happen once we've performed the experiments. It's a wonderful supplement to what I already do in our classroom.
We've been cranking out ideas and preliminary designs for our homemade holiday gifts for friends and family. It's amazing how fast the days are flying by and that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! Insane. The fact that Shutterfly has already delivered my holiday cards (don't hate me!) is definitely a bit startling. I'm glad they are done and ready to prep for mailing but I'm still having a hard time letting go of summer for crying out loud! lol!!
In an effort to become more "holistic" about what we put on our bodies (soaps, lotions, etc) we've transferred most of our HABA (health and beauty aid) products to a local and all natural company called Ava Anderson. If you don't know of them I strongly suggest you check them out. Their products are phenomenal. They are, however, not cheap. Worth it for sure, but not cheap. I LOVE their hand soap but I rip through it so in an effort to keep natural soap in our house the children and I have started making it! It's a little bit of an adjustment as it's very liquidy but it washes wonderfully and smells beautiful! And I don't worry about any toxins or poison chemicals on the kids skin. I found the recipe here: http://livesimply.me/2014/09/02/diy-homemade-liquid-hand-soap/. It's wonderful and will make a great gift!! She is absolutely right, it is the EASIEST hand soap to make. I'm partial to the almond scented Dr. Bronner's as a base for this but the peppermint and lavender are equally lovely!
We have a phenomenal bookstore not too far from us called An Unlikely Story. It's owned and operated by Jeff Kinney, author of the Wimpy Kid series. It's a beautiful store in a town that was much in need of such a space. They are always having author events and Kendall was over the moon excited when we went to meet one of her favorite authors, Liz Kessler! We loved her presentation and then proceeded to wait for about an hour for the book signing. It was definitely worth it and has inspired Kendall more than I ever thought it would.
The kids have been back "into" puzzles lately. I don't mean 48 piece floor puzzles, I mean 500+ piece super intricate, fun, cool puzzles! I LOVE it!! Unfortunately we don't have the space in our house to just leave a puzzle going always but FORTUNATELY we have a puzzle keeper! It's a large piece of felt with sturdy cardboard tubes and stretchy velcro straps for rolling up an in progress puzzle and moving it around. It works like a charm and I love how engaged and focused the kids get when they're puzzling. Sometimes it's an hour long activity and other times it's a walk by puzzling. This is when someone walks by and spots a potential fit! Either way it's a great out of the box mind bender!
Ok, I will leave you now with an insanely, ridiculously long photo reel! Enjoy!
|he's obsessed with this fabric - it's the same as on his coat (pictured here) and his blanket (not pictured here)|
|anti-gravity cake for Kendall's 11th!! (thank you Pintrest)|
|playing with my brother's He-Man toys!|
|homemade play dough - a labor of love|
|off to guitar lessons!|
|a morning at Starbucks!|
|shopping for Halloween costumes!|
|getting crafty for a cause!|
|beautiful corn husk dolls!!!|
|affectionately termed "fluff" by Kendall and her dear friend!|
|friends along for the ride|
|sporting a man bun|
|my delicious anniversary present!|
|what they do at night!|
|celebrated 19 years in October!|
|we were BABIES! in chronological order from left to right 14, 21, 23 ... another lifetime ago!|
|my sister is now 24!!! way too cute|
|writing thank you notes|
|making jellyfish in a bottle|
|rocking out long division|
|crushing the drums|
|making my brother proud! how many years did you have to dust this thing Ethan?|
|it was cleaning day|
|looking for patterns|
|building fairy houses at Ari's school|
|making handmade painted bowls|
|our annual photo shoot|
|time to seal them!|
|crafty shopping with friends!|
|yep...winter running clothes|
|pumpkin fairy house class!|
|oh but wait, we live in NE so perhaps it's 70 out when it's usually 40!|
|look at Ari's meatball stuffed cheek! hahah!|
|wax paper resist art project|
|this is what a sick day looks like in our house!|
|off to our hs Halloween party|
|trick or treat!|
|celebrating el Dia de los Muertos|
|he finds himself VERY entertaining|
|his very best Elvis impersonation|
|snow gear for all has arrived|
|a rare moment for just the 4 of us while Ari was at school|
|rain in a jar! - learning about how rain works|
|puzzles come in all shapes and sizes|
|a backordered birthday gift!|
|one of my very favorite views|
|early morning peg hammering|
|he reminds me of the Lorax! haha|
|art history class at the library|
|dinner at WFM|
|making "mood" slime (aka heat sensitive, color changing slime)|
|adding the thermochromatic powder - this is what makes it change color|
|what a "crafty" end of the day table looks like!|
Until next time!