Just popping in to rave about the book I just finished. It was so satisfying.

The book?

A Lantern in Her Hand, written by Bess Streeter Aldrich.

From the front of the book:

Of a pioneer woman, her life on the prairie, and the cheerful courage and sturdy faith that were her companions, Bess Streeter Aldrich has written a rich and memorable novel.

Abbie Deal, brought up in a log cabin in Iowa, took the covered wagon trail to Nebraska as a young bride. There she lived in a rude shelter on the prairie, raised her young family and companioned her husband through all the heart-breaking struggles of pioneer days.

I kept interrupting Mark's own reading just to read aloud parts of this book to him. It is this passage that stands out to me as my favorite from the book:

[The following is an excerpt from pages 281-282. The young Abbie Deal we met at the beginning of the story is now old. Her granddaughter Laura asks, "What memories do you have, Grandma?"]

"I have many... my little girlhood days when Chicago was a village... the three weeks' journey from Illinois into Iowa... the fun in the Big Woods behind my sister Janet's house. I can shut my eyes and smell the dampness and the Mayflowers there. The old log school and then the new white one with green shutters... my wedding... the trip from Iowa into Nebraska... There are many memories. But I'll tell you the one I like to think of best of all. It's just a homely everyday thing, but to me it is the happiest of them all. It is evening time here in the old house and the supper is cooking and the table is set for the whole family. It hurts a mother, Laura, when the plates begin to be taken away one by one. First there are seven and then six and then five...and on down to a single plate. So I like to think of the table set for the whole family at supper time. The robins are singing in the cottonwoods and the late afternoon sun is shining across the floor. Will, your grandfather, is coming in to supper... and the children are all playing out in the yard. I can hear their voices and happy laughter. There isn't much to that memory is there? Out of a lifetime of experiences you would hardly expect that to be the one I would choose as the happiest, would you? But it is. The supper cooking... the table set for the whole family... the afternoon sun across the floor... the robins singing in the cottonwoods... the children's merry voices... Will coming in... eventide."

Yes. I imagine that someday those will be my own happiest memories. The simple, everyday moments. How I want to treasure them while they're right before me.

Ella's birthday recap

My girl is eight. Eight! Mark always takes the kids' birthdays off (because he's the greatest) so we had a whole day of celebration.

This morning her birthday banner was up, her birthday gifts wrapped and waiting, and eight balloons had been blown up and were waiting on the floor of the living room. [All the kids know to look for these things on their birthday morning.] She came into our room at 8 o'clock, having counted her balloons to be sure there were eight. :) And when everyone else woke up and joined us, we told her she could open one gift. She chose the biggest box, which contained her petticoat, which she was excited about. We had Swedish Pancakes together for breakfast~ made by daddy.

Then we let her open her other gifts.

The next gift she chose to open was her gift from Miss M, Ella's penpal. She got this box some time ago and has been anxiously waiting to open it!

[And sweet Miss M~ Ella was so, so excited about all of your gifts for her, and the lovely letter you wrote. I'm sure she'll write you all about it~ but she especially loves her "Jack". I don't think he left her side for the rest of the day, as you'll see in the pictures below!]

To let the rest of you in on what I'm talking about: Quinne is a longtime blogging friend of mine, and her daughter Miss M and my Ella are the same age and have been penpals for several months. Miss M chose this little bulldog for Ella, knowing that she loves Little House so much, and thinking that she can now have a Jack when she plays Little House! Wasn't that so thoughtful? (She will certainly be using him for her Little House scenes, of that I am sure. And I'm thinking Isaias will be mighty happy that this means he's about to get promoted to a new Little House character!)

Then she opened her final gift from us, the only thing she requested for her birthday:

(and I think she liked it!)

When Audra woke up from her morning nap we all headed to the bookstore, because another one of our birthday traditions is that our children get to choose a book on their birthday! We went to our favorite used bookstore and Ella chose her book~ which I can't remember the name of (I ended up in the van with the little girls) but the illustrator is Garth Williams, so she's definitely a girl after my own heart.

Then we came home for lunch, and then naps and quiet times while I got busy in the kitchen (after playing a quick game of Settlers with Mark!)

For dinner, Ella requested:
-meatloaf (every year!)
-mashed potatoes
-sweet potatoes
(I added some green beans~ canned from our garden, and some apples. Oh~ and sparkling apple cider, which, upon tasting- Ella pronounced as her second favorite drink, next to pink lemonade.)

After we finished dinner our family began arriving: grandpas and grandmas and uncles and aunties and cousins and whoever can attend from our extended family. Then she opened more gifts, and I'm pretty sure my mom wins the award for the best gift:

She made her a dress and an apron! (That's actually Mark's mom in the photo, because she happened to be sitting next to Ella. I don't have a photo of my mom with Ella, but I know my dad snapped a picture of the two of them.)

How cute is she?! :) I'm sure we will never see her in another outfit again~ or at least until she outgrows this one!

We served cake and ice cream (banana cake with cream cheese frosting. And Ella wanted rainbow sherbet ice cream, but we also provided a vanilla and chocolate option for the adults! :))

And then: all partied out and ready for bed:

Other highlights of Ella's birthday:
*no chores for the day! (the boys did a little extra so that she didn't have to do any of her regular work)
*a birthday call (complete with song!) first thing this morning from Auntie Stef (my sister) and family
*a birthday balloon delivered this morning from grandma
*a birthday card that came in the mail from great-grandma and great-grandpa: with eight dollars enclosed
*daddy, coming back from the store hiding a bouquet of flowers behind his back for his girl. (she had the perfect response, too: she just burrowed her head in the petals and smelled her flowers and smiled and looked like the happiest girl in the world.)
*one of Ella's dear friends, Madelyn, stopped by with her mom to bring her the gift of an American Girl book
*extra time to play with her cousin Sadie after her party tonight
*a birthday email from our dear friends who couldn't make it to her party tonight

She is well-loved, our girl. And oh, we are blessed, so blessed, to have her!

Enjoying the moment(s)

This time of year, not only are we busy preparing for Christmas, but we are also busy with birthdays.

One of the birthday traditions in our home involves making a birthday sign/banner. While our soon-to-be-birthday-girl was out of the house today (with grandma, visiting great-grandpa), we took hold of our opportunity.

Here's a little of what went on as we tried to tackle this:

Color crayons were everywhere... Audra and Adelia crawled all over and ripped the paper while I scrambled to tape the places they'd ripped and tried to keep one step ahead of them so that they wouldn't color anywhere else...

...Isaac meticulously drew his picture and carefully wrote the letters of Ella's name, in big, block letters- and was happily oblivious to the chaos around him as he did so... I was making suggestions for what Isaias could draw, but then he wanted me to draw everything for him because he's at that age where he cares that it actually looks like what he's intending to draw, so we settled on 8's and balloons... I kept trying to keep the paper smooth for drawing, which was practically a fruitless effort on my part, because Adelia kept shoving crayons beneath the paper and Audra kept sitting on top of the paper, and kicking her legs in all the excitement, thus scrunching the paper up...

...I traced the girls' hands, and Isaias', too...and I picked up crayons and kept taping and told Adelia and Isaias to please not wrestle right now and took the tape away from Adelia and thought about how I used to struggle with these birthday banners being sloppy and the lettering maybe not being perfect and the rips and the coloring right on top of the words someone has written, but my~ how I've grown in that area!... and I thought about how anxious I might have been if I had things TO DO today; how rushed and frazzled and irritable I might have been. But I wasn't, because this was all we had to do, and so I laughed and moved Audra one more time and pulled another crayon from beneath the banner and taped the rips and simply enjoyed the moment. And I thought about how good this was for all of us, just to be together with nothing to do and nowhere to go and no plans but this.

A break

We've just wrapped up our last day of school before we break for the holiday season. We'll start school up again in early January, so we have lots of time to celebrate!

We've been brainstorming what to do for the next several weeks, and here is our short list (that will surely grow as new ideas get thought up!)

-work on a puzzle
-daddy make Christmas pancakes
-bake gingerbread men
-Christmas movie night!
-play and dance to Christmas music
-get our Christmas tree
-pull out our bin of Christmas books
-buy our new Christmas book
-go to a craft fair with Ella
-cut out snowflakes to hang
-put up outdoor Christmas lights
-playdates with friends
-make a birthday cake for Jesus
-buy and wrap presents
-gifts for Jesus
-make a Christmas sign
-choose gifts from the Samaritan's Purse gift catalog

Ah... such fun awaits us!

The blog will be relatively quiet as we enjoy crossing things off of that list.

I'll resume the current series on school when I return.

Blessings to you and yours for a wonderful Christmas season!

Thanksgiving tradition: changing it up

I've written before about our tradition of a Thanksgiving journal here.

I know that post is missing all the photos. Sorry about that. Here are a couple of photos to show what our Thanksgiving Journal is:

It's what we've done for the past several years as a way to record our gratitude, as a family, over the Thanksgiving season. We added pictures to a spiral-bound notebook, and then we wrote down the things we were thankful for as we reflected upon the previous year.

I love this idea, and especially the fact that we can look back on it from year to year and see, and remember~ God's faithfulness in our lives.

Last year I ordered the photos and they sat in their envelope and we simply never did it. Too busy, too pregnant, too much.

This year we scrapped the Thanksgiving-Journal idea.

I really hope to go back to it some time in the future, but now is not that time.

So this year, we did something a little different. We started with these:

and began making this:

I loved seeing this one:

(Daddy who works for us)

...and clearly someone was abundantly thankful for his


As I stapled the chain links together, I read each of them aloud. It was really encouraging for me to see how our children have grown in gratitude over the years. They loved this project, and were super excited to see the chain getting longer and longer~ and they truly delighted in coming up with all the things they were thankful for!

It's quite long, actually. We have it temporarily hanging up around our living room...

...but when we get our Christmas tree this weekend, our Thanksgiving chain will become a garland for our tree! [How much do you love that idea? I read about this creative project over at Little Birdie Secrets. We skipped the first part of their idea~ the Thankful Jar~ although it's very cute, too.]

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

School after breakfast: English

When the chores are done and Audra is down for her nap, and if it's a Tuesday, Thursday or a Saturday, Ella and I work on an English lesson together.

We use Rod and Staff, and we really like it.

One of my favorite things about Rod and Staff is that the text and exercises are based on Bible stories and there is a focus on character traits we value: obedience, respectfulness, cheerfulness and hard work.

I usually have Ella read her lesson to me, and then we go over the instructions together. Then she works independently until she completes the exercises. (Maybe 20-30 minutes.)

After I get Ella working independently, Isaac and I do some Kindergarten work together.

This is where it gets a little tricky with Adelia (and Audra if she happens to be awake). I don't think we have a good system for this time of our day yet. All I know is that Adelia When Ella and Isaac are at the table, she would like to be right there beside them. If they are holding a pencil, she would like to be holding a pencil, too. As a matter of fact, that very pencil Ella is holding!

We've tried different things. Sometimes I pull her onto my lap and try to school with her there. Except for the thing about Adelia is that she does not sit still for longer than 45 seconds. So then it becomes a battle to keep her there.

I've had her help me with things in the kitchen (washing dishes, cleaning up, etc) so that we can be near the table. I've had her in the Ergo at different times, but she doesn't always want to be there for long. I've set up the pack-n-play near the table, but that's usually a battle, too- and then I feel guilty for containing her when she was just strapped into her seat for all of our breakfast school time.

There are times I release her and Isaias to "go play nicely together" (which is brave of me to hope for, truly)~ but it works sometimes. The thing about that plan, though, is that they have to go downstairs because I don't want them playing in the living room because they'll get too rowdy and noisy for a napping Audra. So then they're completely out of sight so I end up being really distracted with checking in on them.

More often, lately- we all move downstairs. The negatives are that we're away from the table and the dry-erase board, and we're in an area of the house that has a lot of toys, which can be super distracting for Ella and Isaac.

The positives are that my light-sleeper of a baby can have an uninterrupted nap, I'm not as frazzled trying to keep everyone quiet, and I can see and hear everyone.

It's a little crazy, though. I am increasingly aware of how patient both Ella and Isaac are. I can't tell you how many times I've said to Isaac: "Okay, I'm ready to do some Kindergarten with you now! Can you bring your pencil and book to the table?" And he scurries off excitedly to do so and then tells me he's ready and by that time I'm changing a diaper or dealing with a discipline issue with another child and then I'm answering a question of Ella's or thinking: "Oh, I have to photocopy that page from his book" so I go to do that and while I'm there I throw in a load of laundry and then I remember "Aack! I haven't taken out the meat to thaw for dinner", so I do that and I pass Isaac at the table and realize I've forgotten all about him. There he sits, patiently waiting. So I tell him, "Just a minute, budders. I'll be right there" only to hear Audra cry or Adelia yell or whatever and on it goes.

This is our life. I'm so thankful for how well the kids have adapted to this season of life with its unique challenges. I know they will be all the better for it.

Coming up: Kindergarten

The best part of my (otherwise very difficult) day

was this:

It says:

To Mommy

I love you. I am so sorry you have been sad and haveing a hard time today. Sorry Audra was being grumpy at the start of quiet time. I can't wait for it to be my birthday.

love Ella to mommy

Then she had Audra draw a picture and noted "from Audra" on the side, above Audra's scribbles.

Then she had Adelia draw this picture on the back:

(Which is labeled "motorcycle nup". Because that's what Adelia said it was and so you can't argue with that girl. She knows her stuff.)

I love being a mama.

One of the great things about having friends who blog

is that I can direct you over there to see/read about our family vacation (shared with their family, which is why they're blogging about it. But since I never did (blog about it)... it works out quite nicely. Plus, Mike takes better pictures. :))

School after breakfast: Copywork

The reason we have incorporated copywork into our school schedule is so that Ella can practice her penmanship and also learn to use proper grammar and punctuation by seeing (and copying) the written word.

We began by copying letters only. I instructed her on how to form the letter and then she would spend five minutes writing that particular letter of the alphabet. I encouraged her not to try to get as many done as she could within that five minutes but instead to try to copy as many perfect letters as she could during that time. I kept stressing that if it took her the full five minutes to write only three letters, that was okay. Once we made it through all of the letters (uppercase and lowercase), we moved on to other things.

Now she copies a poem or a verse or a short paragraph from one of her books. But if she has a book report to do, or a letter to write to her pen pal, or a thank you card to write, we utilize our "copywork" time for this, too.

I'm encouraged to see that her handwriting continues to improve. If I look through Ella's binder at the copywork she completed even a few short months ago, I can see that her writing now is much neater and her grammar much better. Great job, Ella!

Celebrating adoption

A year ago we went from being Adelia's foster parents to being her adoptive parents!

I am struck all over again how wonderful our God is: He is a Father to the fatherless and He longs to set the orphans in families.

We're so glad we got this one! :)

(Her baby sister? Also glad. Even if she gets her tummy squeezed sometimes!)

When I think of the situation Adelia was born into, and what her life could have been... it is SO evident that God plucked her from darkness and rescued her.

How I love God! His ways are good.

Birthday surprises

One of the many cute things about my Ella girl is that she loves Little House on the Prairie and all things prairie-ish. I said to Mark the other night, "How blessed am I that my daughter loves Little House as much as I do?!"

Ella regularly wears her bonnet with her hair in braids. She also wears dresses almost every day. Notice I didn't say "a dress". She wears dresses. Sometimes three of them. All at once. Sometimes three of them plus capris or pants underneath. Or a skirt. In addition to the three dresses. Her response when I've asked about all the garments? "Those are my petticoats, mommy."

Her birthday is coming up in a few weeks and she has repeatedly told me that she wants a nightcap. That's all she wants. She has a white nightgown (which was her birthday gift last year), and now she'd like a nightcap to go with it. Just like Laura and Mary Ingalls wore.

So I decided to make one. And I decided to sweeten the gift a little and make her a petticoat. I haven't begun the petticoat yet but I did try my hand at the nightcap.

I have no pattern and took no measurements of her head (because she'd know something was up) so I guessed.

I guessed too small. And I am positive it won't fit Ella because it fits this girl quite nicely:

Not that she'll ever be wearing it. The only reason she wasn't pulling it off her head for this picture was because I bribed her with my latte cup.

I tried it on Adelia, too:

but it doesn't quite fit over her hair.

Oh well. We'll hang onto it in case Ella wants to try it on one of her dolls.

In the meantime, I'm making a bigger nightcap and still planning out my petticoat strategy.

School after breakfast: History

Usually by the time our breakfast is done and our chores are completed, Audra is ready to go down for her nap, and Adelia is ready to get out of her seat. [More accurately, Adelia is beyond ready, and has been persistently saying, "Done, done" for a bit already. But she's a good girl and truly very patient with us while we try to get as much school in at the table as we can.]

Okay, here's what is on our schedule after breakfast:


-Kindergarten for Isaac (on Tuesdays and Thursdays only)

Every day
-Read-aloud with mommy
-Read-aloud with daddy
-Bible with daddy
-Character training (not actually officially on the schedule, but it sure does happen a lot!)

Occasionally (at least once a week, though not officially on the schedule)
-Speech with Isaias

I'll just start at the top and work my way down.

For history, we use Mystery of History and I love it. A couple of years ago we began with Hillyer's A Child's History of the World and I was trying to edit that text as well as incorporate biblical history into it's proper place, and I became frustrated with all the work that required of me. Thankfully, the author of Mystery of History has already done all of that footwork and I am so glad she did.

What we do:

I read the section from the book for the day while the kids listen (and Adelia wanders as I try to keep her as quiet as humanly possible so that Audra can actually sleep!) Sometimes we pull out the globe or an atlas or I look up something on the internet for a visual. Often we do an activity from the book, and then the kids do a card for our timeline based on what we've read. (The timeline card is required for Ella, but optional for the boys. However, Isaac almost always opts to do one, and occasionally Isaias does, too.)

This visual timeline of history happens to be my favorite part. We put up a strip of paper around the top of our living room walls and began with Creation on one end:

...getting a little squishy here above our door!

and finishing with the kids' birth dates:

I love having a very tangible sequence of historical events in a visible place for the kids. The only thing I wish is that we had the space available so that it could be more on the kids' eye-level. But this is the only place in our whole house that it would fit in one long continuous strip, and that's what we wanted~ so we decided to go with it!

A few weeks ago Mark quizzed all of us (yes, I played, too!) on our dates, asking us to stand beneath where we thought a particular event was on the timeline, and to point if necessary. I was impressed at how well the kids remembered these dates, even if it was kind of funny that we kept saying: "I know that one is above the front window", or "That one is above the door!"

Next up: Copywork

Free Printable Chore Chart. And it's cute!

I stumbled across this tonight in my blog hopping, and I just have to pass along this link.

See this?

You can customize it for your child(ren). Did I mention that it's free?

Click on over to ModEco Kids and make one for your little helpers.

At the breakfast table: literally

With every single one of the "School during breakfast" posts, I had hoped to take a picture of us actually at the breakfast table. So, as an addendum to the series, a photo:

See? Our memory box sits right there on the table in front of my chair, ready to go. Our Bible story book and hymn book sit on the floor next to my chair. Our list of Monday school subjects- written the night before- is up on the dry erase board.

Things may look nice and mellow in this photo, but don't be fooled.

What happened a few minutes before this picture was taken is that I was nursing Audra at the table. Then, while still nursing, I tried to cut and butter the muffins for the other kids with my left hand. Oh, and my plan for fresh-out-of-the-oven muffins wasn't to be: by the time we ate them, they were no longer warm. Oh, well. Such is life.

What happened right after this picture was taken is that Adelia, who had last night's dinner on her tray instead of the muffins we were all eating, began wailing about her plight. And the rest of our school-at-the-breakfast-table time was interrupted with her cries followed by my reminders. Twice, I got up and moved her crying self and chair into the living room and reminded her to please eat and that when she was ready to be happy and stop crying she could join us again. She obeyed, finally, and by the time we moved to chore time, her dinner from the previous night was finished and she was able to eat a muffin.

That's us. Keeping it real on a Monday morning. :)

The perk of this particular Monday is that we got an early start. We were eating a little after 8 o'clock! So we were able to finish most of school by 10:30, and then the kids all headed outside to play while Audra finished up her nap and I prepped for dinner.

School during breakfast, Part 4: Classical music

To review, here's what we do as part of our school time over breakfast:

Mon | Hymn practice
Tues | Art: Picture Study
Wed | Poetry
Thurs | Habits/Manners
Fri | Classical music
Sat | Silly songs/camp songs/choruses

I'm going to wrap up the final two today.

On Friday we have Classical music. This is new to us this year, and this is what we've done.

I purchased Stories of the Great Composers, which is a book/cd set, and- over twelve (short) units, covers twelve composers. Each unit has a picture of the composer with a short biography, a story based on fact about an event in the composer's life, a list of three of that composer's important compositions, and a word search or matching game to review the information learned in that unit.

As we move to our after-breakfast chores, I pop in the CD and we listen to one track while we clean up. We make comments about it as we listen, and then when that track is done, I tell them who we just listened to, and what the name of that particular composition is. I often write the name of the composer on the board and we practice saying it a few times together. Sometimes I read the short bio.

The following week we review the previous weeks composer by listening to a snippet of his work. And then I introduce the next composer.

We're about halfway through the book, now- so for the past few weeks I began by playing snippets of compositions we've previously heard and quizzing the kids: "Who can tell me who this is?"

I admit that I was surprised at how much our children love listening to classical music. They genuinely look forward to it, and enjoy listening, and they really have developed an ear for each composer's sound. They all have their favorites, and it has been really fun for all of us.

My favorite memory of our study so far is this one:

One of the things we learned about Franz Joseph Haydn in regards to his Symphony No. 94 in G Major, "The Surprise":

Hadyn had noticed that the London audiences "slept peacefully during the slow movements" of his symphonies. To correct this situation Hadyn wrote this symphony, which became very popular. There is a quiet section of the slow movement, and then, suddenly, the full orchestra with all the big drums plays a very loud chord. All those who were sleeping awakened with a jerk! Surprise!

[Excerpted from the book Stories of the Great Composers]

We had a grand time imagining all these proper gentlemen and ladies sitting in the symphony and nodding off only to be suddenly startled awake! So while we listened to Hadyn's composition I had the kids break from their chores and lie down on the kitchen floor, pretending to be asleep. Then when the music got louder they all pretended to wake suddenly, then doze off again as the music quieted down. We had such fun listening to "The Surprise" and Hadyn happens to be one of our favorites because of it. (Don't you agree he had a fine sense of humor?)

I'm not really sure where to go from here in our "study" of classical music- once we've finished the book, I mean. I think I'll start purchasing songs or CDs [or, more likely: checking them out at the library] of the artists we've already studied and become familiar with more of their compositions. I'd like all of us to develop an ear for each composer, based on a larger body of their work, as opposed to the one song we're getting in the CD that accompanies the book.

I'd love to hear ideas others of you have on this topic. What have you done?

On Saturdays I let the kids choose what they'd like to sing. Usually they're songs with motions and lots of laughter.

And that's it for breakfast at the table.

In looking back over the last several posts, it seems like we do a lot at the table. But remember: we don't do all of these things every day. We do them only once a week. Daily we do Bible reading and memory verses. And then we rotate in our other memory work each day along with the things I've been posting about.

So, our at-the-breakfast-table work looks like this for the week:

Mon | Bible, Memory verses, Old Testament books of the Bible, Hymn Practice
Tues | Bible, Memory verses, Ten Commandments, Picture Study
Wed | Bible, Memory verses, New Testament books of the Bible, Poetry
Thurs | Bible, Memory verses, Landmark cards, Habits/manners
Fri | Bible, Memory verses, President cards, Classical music
Sat | Bible, Memory verses, Rules/Manners for Gentlemen/Ladies, Silly songs

See? Really doable!

There's still lots to cover once we move away from the breakfast table. If you're not all positively bored by now, I'll post more about our other subjects as time allows over the next couple of weeks.

School during breakfast, Part 3: Poetry and Habits/Manners

It has become quite apparent to me that I need to work on my titles, because this whole series is getting a little out of hand what with all the extras I keep tagging on in the title. I SO should have asked Mark for help with that. Maybe I'll go back and change it at some point. For now I'll carry on.

I've been sharing about the rotating slot in our schedule that we do at the breakfast table.

Mon | Hymn practice
Tues | Art: Picture Study
Wed | Poetry
Thurs | Habits/Manners
Fri | Classical music
Sat | Silly songs/camp songs/choruses

Today I'm going to cover the next two: Poetry and Habits/Manners.

On Wednesdays, we get a book of poetry and we read some poems.

And I really don't have a whole lot more to say about that. We don't analyze them, study them, write our own poems or anything like that. We just enjoy them.

Right now we're reading from The World of Christopher Robin, and we all love it.

On Thursdays it says "Habits/Manners" on the schedule. This is basically an opportunity for me to have an official time set aside to review the habits or manners I think we're neglecting. We may learn a verse and focus on a particular habit like we did here, but more often than not it is just sort of a reminder-time of how we want to behave. Here's an example:

A couple of weeks ago, during the meet-and-greet time at our church, I saw a woman bend down to introduce herself to my son and ask him his name. He happened to be very focused on pulling a rock out of the bottom of his shoe at the time, and I noted that he very distractedly said hello and sort of mumbled his name. We briefly talked about it on the way home. I tried not to make a huge deal about it but I'm sure I said something about being disappointed that he didn't treat her with the respect and courtesy I would have liked to see him exhibit.

The following Thursday, our Habit/Manners time went something like this:

Me: "Okay, guys. Today we're going to talk for a couple of minutes about what you should do when someone greets you at church. Let's give some examples of what NOT to do-- they think this is pretty funny, especially when I give outlandish suggestions-- and then discuss and practice what would be some good ideas to say and do." Then we take turns being the greeter/greetee, and act it out and giggle together and use funny voices and practice the right way to greet someone.

And that's that. Pretty simple.

Picture Study Q & A

A couple of you had questions following my post on Picture study, so rather than hide those responses in the comments, I thought I'd take some time here to answer those questions and provide some more resources.

Q: Do you print the pictures for the photo album yourself, or send them to a place like the Costco photo lab?

A: I get them printed at Costco. If we had a good color printer and photo-quality paper, I'd do it here. But we don't, so I send them to Costco.

Q: How do you choose your art?

A: I have several favorite artists I remember from college classes or from traveling, so I have a list in my brain that I'm anxious to study with our children. At this point my goal is to keep our study to artists and paintings that are age-appropriate for my children. At this season, that means scenes of children and families or activities they're familiar with or interested in.

Ambleside Online is a wonderful resource, particularly for those of you who may be at a loss for which artists and which paintings to consider for your study. Follow that link and you'll find a wealth of information!

Q: Where do you get your art from?

A: I have found most of our books at either a local used bookstore or Goodwill. The book we got on Winslow Homer was $2.99 at Goodwill. The book I bought on Mary Cassatt was $9.95 at my favorite used bookstore. If I see a book on an artist I like and think we will study someday, I pick it up.

I have also seen reasonably-priced books on the bargain shelves at Barnes & Noble. Just recently I was there and on an end-cap they had a series of large books on various famous painters. [Think: oversized paperback or hardcover books]. They were marked down to $6.99 each or something. I didn't happen to want any of the particular artists they had left, but at one time they had several artists I would have been interested in. (I just didn't get there soon enough!) If all else fails, there is Amazon.

I like to have a print in hand to examine, but you could certainly do picture study simply by pulling a painting up on the computer and looking at it on your screen, too.


I gleaned almost all of my how-to-do-this ideas from Linda Fay at Higher Up and Further In. Linda Fay's blog posts schooled me when we initially began doing Picture Study. The link above will take you to all of her Picture Study posts.

One last thing. Recently I came across a list of questions to use in Picture Study. (I'm not sure who to credit as the author of this list, so please let me know if you happen to be familiar with the source, so that I can give proper credit.) I thought it might be a good resource for those of you who'd like to try this but don't exactly know what to ask. There are some great questions in the list below. My encouragement to you would be to keep it simple. Choose maybe 1 or 2 questions each time, or choose your favorite questions from this list and rotate them, a couple at a time, each time you study a painting.


1. What kinds of things do you see in this painting? What else do you see?
2. What words would you use to describe this painting? What other words might we use?
3. How would you describe the lines in this picture? The shapes? The colors? What does this painting show?
4. Look at this painting for a moment. What observations can you make about it?
5. How would you describe this painting to a person who could not see it?
6. How would you describe the people in this picture? Are they like you or different?
7. How would you describe (the place depicted in) this painting?


1. What does this painting remind you of?
2. What things do you recognize in this painting? What things seem new to you?
3. How is this painting like the one we just saw? What are some important differences?
4. What do these two paintings have in common?
5. How is this picture different from real life?
6. What interests you most about this work of art?


1. Which objects seems closer to you? Further away?
2. What can you tell me about the colors in this painting?
3. What color is used the most in this painting?
4. What makes this painting look crowded?
5. What can you tell me about the person in this painting?
6. What can you tell me about how this person lived? How did you arrive at that idea?
7. What do you think is the most important part of this picture?
8. How do you think the artist made this work?
9. What questions would you ask the artist about this work, if s/he were here?


1. What title would you give to this painting? What made you decide on that title?
2. What other titles could we give it?
3. What do you think is happening in this painting? What else could be happening?
4. What sounds would this painting make (if it could)?
5. What do you think is going on in this picture? How did you arrive at that idea?
6. What do you think this painting is about? How did you come up that idea?
7. Pretend you are inside this painting. What does it feel like?
8. What do you think this (object) was used for? How did you arrive at that idea?
9. Why do you suppose the artist made this painting? What makes you think that?
10. What do you think it would be like to live in this painting? What makes you think that?


1. What do you think is good about this painting? What is not so good?
2. Do you think the person who painted this do a good or bad job? What makes you think so?
3. Why do you think other people should see this work of art?
4. What do you think other people would say about this work? Why do you think that?
5. What grade would you give the artist for this work? How did you arrive at that grade?
6. What would you do with this work if you owned it?
7. What do you think is worth remembering about this painting?


Happy Birthday, son!

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

Now We Are Six
~A.A. Milne

School during breakfast, Part 2: Picture Study

I've shared a little about our hymn study here and about our Monday Hymn Practice here.

On Tuesdays we do picture study, and it's one of our favorite things! I was an art major in college and Art History was one of my favorite classes ever.

As to how we incorporate this into our week, I first choose an artist and purchase a book or some prints. [I've been able to purchase some good art books at used bookstores for this very purpose.]

Here's what the study part of that looks like at our house:

ONE: Announce the name of the artist you're studying, and any information (biographical) you think is pertinent. I usually write the artist's name up on the board, and read a short bio or a few facts I've found about the artist.

TWO: Pull out a print, hand it to a child. For the sake of this example I'm going to say I hand the picture to Isaac. Then I ask him to describe what he sees. The rest of us listen and try to imagine the painting in our minds. He does so. My children all love this part. Seriously, they fight over who's turn it is to describe the painting.)

THREE: When he has finished describing the painting, the rest of us get the opportunity to pepper him with questions about the things our minds are still wondering about.

The questions you may ask depend not only on the painting but also on how well your describer is. Our Isaac gets very detailed about what is going on in the painting (think: the story of it; what he imagines is happening), but he may forget to tell us what colors he sees, or what time of the day he thinks it is. Ella, on the other hand, will describe in detail the colors and pattern and folds of the skirt a woman in the painting is wearing but may forget to tell us what is happening.

A few ideas for questions:

What colors/shapes do you see?

How would you describe the people in this painting? [Dress, expression, position, etc]

What do you think is the most important part of this picture?
What is the focal point?/ Where is your eye drawn to?

What objects seem closer to you? Further away?

If you were to choose a title for this picture, what would you call it?

FOUR: Then Isaac reveals the picture to us and we all take turns making comments, things like:

Good job describing the boat, Isaac. That's exactly how I pictured it.

Oh! You forgot to tell us about those flowers there in the corner.

FIVE: Finally, I tell them what the name of the painting is.

The following week we begin all over again with a new painting by the same artist, and we review any of the paintings we've previously learned.

I usually select 5 or 6 paintings per artist (either my favorites or those that I think might be of particular interest to our children), and then we move on to a different artist.

A couple of other ideas:

1. Hand your child some paints or colored pencils (or crayons!) and tell them they get to color that painting!

This is one of the paintings we studied, early last year:

And here is Ella's representation of it:

2. Begin an art album for your child.

We bought a small photo album for Ella two years ago and have printed out the various paintings we've studied and she has added them to her album, listing the title and artist beside each one. She loves this!

{Pictured: page one of Ella's art album}

School during breakfast, Part 1

At our house, breakfast falls sometime between 8 and 9:30. Yep. Usually we're eating by 9, but some mornings are earlier, some mornings are later. We're flexible that way. ~smile~

Care to join us for breakfast this morning?

Let's begin when I ask the kids to set the table for breakfast.

[A side note, here: At mealtimes, each of our children has setting-the-table responsibilities. Ella gets the plates/bowls, Isaac gets the cups/glasses, and Isaias gets the silverware and Adelia's dish/utensil/cup. We standardized this because we were finding that we'd ask the kids to get the table set and within minutes there would be a dispute because "I was going to get the plates, and now [insert sibling name here] is taking plates out!" No more. They now know what they're responsible to have on the table for each meal.]

So. Back to breakfast. The kids are scurrying around, getting the table set. Audra is playing on the floor with some chubby little Fisher Price farm animals. Adelia has been saying "Eat, eat" for probably the past half an hour and I've likely already given her a bowl of dry cheerios (which she in turn has dumped all throughout the house, just so you know, and now I seem to be crushing cheerios every time I step. I'm sure none of you have ever experienced this.)

While the kids are doing this, I have likely just gotten out of the shower and am getting dressed or combing my hair. I may even glance in the mirror for 0.2 seconds. Hopefully when I make it out to the kitchen, the kids will have the table set. I pick up Audra on my way in and get her into her seat and then get a wandering Adelia into hers.

If your family is like mine, and no matter how prepared we try to be, meal times are not without plenty of interruptions. Things like:

"Mommy, will you please cut my muffin?"

"Mommy, I need butter."

"Mommy, where's the honey? I wanted honey on mine."

"My water bottle is empty and I'm thirsty, mommy. Will you please fill it?"

And then there's Adelia, who has decided it is time to throw her bowl of food onto the floor. She needs to be reprimanded, because she knows better.

Audra is now finished with her breakfast but is still hungry so I'm up to get her something to gnaw on.

Then the kids are ready for seconds.

In between all of these interruptions and several trips from the table and back, I'm also trying to feed myself, too. (Sometimes this part just doesn't happen.)

While the kids are still eating, we begin school. I pull out our memory verses and we do those, in between bites of food. I've written about our memory verses system before. Each day we have a group of verses we go over; color coded and filed by that day.

Then we do our other memory work~ today is Monday so we're going over Old Testament books of the Bible. We generally say them all together.

We also do "Hymn Practice" on our schedule, so we sing through our hymn together a few times. We're learning Trust and Obey, and the kids love this because they get to sing it at the top of their lungs. The first time we ever sang this hymn they all looked very solemn, so I reminded them that the words say 'to be happy in Jesus'. So we practiced looking very happy, all of us, while singing, and that stuck. Now they're always singing loudly with wide smiles on their faces. Audra thinks this is the greatest thing EVER; and is kicking her legs and clapping. Adelia is trying her best to sing along by chiming in on certain words.

Sometimes we're able to squeeze more school in at the table- on a great day, we can even get some history done- but not this morning.

I think the key to homeschooling at this season in our lives is flexibility. We have a schedule for our day, yes. But we follow it loosely. There are no time-slots for any of it. There are things I'd like to accomplish each morning at the table, yes. So we linger at the table for as long as we can, but we'll have a day when Audra or even Adelia is sick or fussy or we've simply had too many interruptions or distractions. I may ask Ella to take over with the verses or reading while I focus more on Audra, or we may just stop and resume later when things have quieted down.

One of those things that often gets relocated to a different part of the day is our Bible reading. For the past two years, we have read from either the Psalms or the Proverbs each day for our school Bible time. This year we're reading from Hurlbut's Story of the Bible, which is a narrative of the whole Bible. This is our favorite Bible story book. Several times I've read this while finishing up my breakfast while the kids work on their after-meal chores. Or we'll set it aside until story-time (which is right before quiet times/naps at our house.)

This works for us. It may not work for everyone, but it works for us. We still get everything accomplished nearly every day. But we have learned to roll with the interruptions and be flexible.

School: what we do

We're now six weeks into our school year and have settled into a good rhythm. I love homeschooling our children, and not only am I thrilled to be back at it again, but am thankful to find that it is so doable- even with five young children!

Today I'm going to share- generally- what we do for school, and over the next several posts I'll get a little more specific, sharing what that particular subject or element actually looks like in our school day. But for now, the basics:

We begin our school day with Circle Time. Circle Time is an idea I gleaned a couple of years ago from the wise Kendra of Preschoolers and Peace. For anyone unfamiliar with the idea of Circle Time, you can click here to learn more about it.

Essentially, for us- it is the school that we all do together before anyone heads off to do their own individual work. We do our Circle Time at the breakfast table, and it is largely doable because both of the little girls are still strapped into their seats from breakfast. I just keep feeding them cheerios or remnants of breakfast and we can get so much done that way!

This is what we do during that time, daily:

Bible reading
Memory verses

In addition to those two permanent fixtures of our Circle Time, we also rotate in other memory work each day:

Mon | Old Testament books of the Bible*
Tues | Ten Commandments
Wed | New Testament books of the Bible*
Thurs | Landmark cards
Fri | President cards
Sat | Rules/Manners for Gentlemen/Ladies*

*These are repeats from last year, and we are currently reviewing them. When I feel like the kids pretty flawless in their recital of these, we will file them to be pulled out only occasionally for a quick review. When we do that, we'll fill in those daily slots with other memory work.

Other Circle Time elements:

Mon | Hymn practice
Tues | Art: Picture Study
Wed | Poetry
Thurs | Habits/Manners
Fri | Classical music
Sat | Silly songs/camp songs/choruses

MATH daily
Ella does Math daily, and for the most part does this on her own
On Saturdays (and usually at least one other day per week) we do Math flash cards together.

HISTORY 3 days a week (MWF)
This includes the lesson (read aloud by me), an activity, and a timeline card.

COPYWORK 3 days a week (TRS)

ENGLISH 3 days a week (TRS)
Ella and I go over the lesson together, and then there is work she finishes on her own.

NARRATIONS a couple times a week

KINDERGARTEN work for Isaac; Tuesdays & Thursdays

Other daily activities:
outside play time
read-aloud time with mommy
read-aloud time with daddy
Bible reading with daddy


Oh! Two things I've recently ordered that we'll be adding soon:

1. a handwriting program (cursive) for Ella.
2. speech therapy lessons for me to go through with Isaias, who is really struggling with his R's, L's, and Th's.

NOTE: Although our schedule seems to indicate that we school six days a week, we actually only school five days. Mark has a rotating day off each week (one week he has Monday off, the next week he'll have Tuesday off, etc...) and when daddy has a day off, we all take a day off. So although our schedule lists Monday through Saturday, we drop one day a week depending on what day he has off.


I'll be taking a blogging break for awhile...

Blessings to each one of you!

Still memorizing...

I know I haven't posted my verses in awhile, but I am still memorizing two verses a month- through the initial encouragement over on Beth Moore's blog. [For those of you unfamiliar with this, it's a goal to choose two verses per month of the year to memorize, totaling 24 verses for the year.]

I love this habit, although I have found myself struggling to actually memorize these past several verses.

What usually happens is this:

>Find an appropriate (meaningful) scripture for the two-week period? Yes.

>Write it down in my journal? Yes.

>Post it up in my shower, where I'll see it every morning? Uh... I haven't posted a verse since Verse 13. I'm now on Verse 18, so clearly I'm lagging behind.

>Recite the verse over and over again? Not if it's not posted in front of my eyeballs in my shower, I'm finding.

So. I could choose to get very discouraged about this and throw in the towel (Considered. Rejected.) OR I could tell myself that I'm doing much better on the memorizing front than I would be if I weren't doing this, and I am thankful for that. AND regardless of whether or not I know these verses by heart, I am meditating on them and praying through them, [at least initially]. I just may need a few extra months to get them actually memorized. :)

Oh, and at least for the time being, I'm posting the current verse I'm memorizing on the sidebar of my blog.

Hymn study

One of the things we've enjoyed doing for school the past few years is Hymn study. Our church doesn't sing many hymns, and yet we really want our children to know the great hymns of our faith.

This is what we used for our first year, in addition to our hymnal:
Hymns for a Kid's Heart

We also checked in at the Cyber Hymnal site a few times. Yes, the sound is a bit tinny, but it does come in handy if

a) you're not familiar with the hymn- or even part of it, and need to know the tune, or
b) you're not skilled at reading music

Another great resource I purchased was the book Then Sings My Soul, which provides the stories behind several hymns.

Perhaps my favorite season was when it worked with our schedule to join the "Hymn Sing" with some members of our church. Our family would join several elderly members of our congregation who led hymns at a nearby nursing home.

This year, I had the idea to ask my parents and Mark's parents what *their* favorite hymns were, so that we could be sure to learn those. I simply asked my mom one day, and she told me hers and dads, but since Mark's parents live further away, he suggested that Ella write them a letter and ask them what their favorite hymns were, and why it was their favorite.

She did, and a couple of weeks later received a beautiful letter from each of them, telling what their favorite hymn was, and detailing why- verse by verse.

What a treasure! We're adding these hymns to the repertoire for the year, in addition to any others that Mark and I select for our children to learn. And once again, I am so thankful for the legacy of faith in each of our families!

ABC hunt

Apparently I was SO wrong about my earlier comment of not doing anything with Isaac for Kindergarten.

Last week I discovered that he wants to do school.


And here I thought he'd welcome the opportunity to play.

Well, then.

What to do?

I'm a little unprepared for what-to-do for Kindergarten, since it wasn't really on my radar.

I hurriedly printed off some worksheets for letter practice that he can do while Ella does her own writing/math, etc at the table.

And, um... each day so far I've tried to come up with something- for him to do that we can call "Kindergarten".

Then my mom had the brilliant idea to choose a couple of days a week for Isaac's Kindergarten days (so that I don't have to come up with something for him to do every day).

So Tuesdays and Thursdays, on the white board, it says "Isaac: Kindergarten".

This morning it said "ABC hunt" beneath that.

Which intrigued all three older children. All morning long they were asking what an "ABC hunt" was, and when did Isaac get to do it, and could they do it, too?

Here's what it was: while I worked on school with Ella, I asked Isaac to write down all the letters of the alphabet. He did this, in his careful, oh-so-cute capital letters. (Don't you just love the way your little ones form their letters? They're so wobbly and cute.)

And then his task was to go through the house and hunt for all the ABC's. When he found each letter, he was to circle it on his paper. He *loved* this, and was so creative in scurrying about the house, finding letters (boxes/cans in the kitchen, CDs and books, notes and magnets on the fridge, etc). The only rule was that he could only find one letter per place (ie: No standing in front of the world map and circling every letter of the alphabet, or finding ten of the letters from one book. You get the idea.)

When Ella finished her work, she wanted to do her own ABC hunt, so I tailored it a bit for her: I asked her to write down all of her letters, uppercase and lowercase, and then find an item in the house that began with each letter of the alphabet. Then she was to write the word on her paper next to the letter. Heck, she could have even drawn a picture, too- but we didn't get that far.

Okay, so now you get to tell me what you're doing (or have done) for the Kindergarten (pre-reading) age, because clearly we're not doing this every day, as fun as it was! :) Comment away on your favorite Kindergarten resources, would you please? I could use a little help!


I feel compelled to get a little transparent with you today, so bear with me as I try to sort out what I should say.

There have been times when I have alluded to struggles with one of my children before. I have not said much more than that here on the blog- for several reasons- which is truly ironic because it is a major part of my life and thoughts and prayers and cries to God. My journals are full- for the past couple of years- of prayers surrounding this boy and my relationship with him.

In a nutshell, there is a lot of pain and hurt in him. Our relationship- especially his and mine- has been rough, to say the very least. Mark and I are convinced that he has some level of attachment disorder and it is a difficult road.

I am quick to become fearful of what lies ahead. From one of my journal entries this past year:

"So often when I look at this relationship and the distance there and the lack of affection, I feel hopeless. I feel discouraged and I give in to all the fears and the what-if's and all the negative what-it's-probably-going-to-look-like-in-the-future in addition to the frustration of me not getting it right, ever. Why can't I be transformed? Why can't I actively obey and love and hold and be affectionate and simply BE what I don't FEEL? And I feel guilt and doubt and sorrow and the despair that things will not get better."

That brings me to the reason for this post.

God has been so faithful to me; to us, through this journey. A couple of months ago I was running errands and a song came on and He used it to speak to me about His power.

He reminded me of who He is. He is bigger. So much bigger than all my what-if's. He reminded me of His faithfulness so many other times- not only in Scripture but in my life. He woke me up to the reality of Who I'm dealing with, of Who holds all of this. And, for the first time in a long time, I felt buoyed. It was like, "Yeah. Look who I've got on MY side! Look who is here, fighting on my team."

And hope crept in.

The challenge for me is to remain there, in that place of trusting Him to accomplish what He has set out to do.

[As a side note, it seems an incredibly crazy thing that He has chosen me to be a part of whatever He's going to do, here- because I am a pathetic excuse for a team member. Nothing in my life has brought me more humility than my role as a mother to this boy. I royally suck at it. I cannot seem to do it well or right or God-honoring, ever. You might think I am exaggerating, but I am so not.]

Anyway, as I was saying- it is a continual challenge for me to remain in that place of trust. The enemy would have me stay in that place of doubt and fear- and often I listen to the lies and tuck myself away and remain there in that place of discouragement.

I have to fight to keep that hope and hold it close. I want to claim it and proclaim it: that He is mighty to save, that He will do a good work here- in me and in him and in us.

One of the first verses I felt led to memorize this past year was from Isaiah 43:
Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
"Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert.

(verses 18 and 19, NAS)

Today, again- I spent time asking God to show His glory in this troubled relationship. I repented of my many, frequent sins- and asked Him to speak to me, and the above passage is what He reminded me of all over again.

That I am not to dwell on the past- on the heartache of what has been. That He is going to do something new. That He can make a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. That He can do the impossible, the miraculous. That nothing is too great for Him to accomplish, and that no one is so sinful (even me) that He can't use to accomplish it through. He reminds me of His power and His might and His ability- no, His willingness, His desire- to do just that.

And hope is right there.

That's where I'm at today.

I don't know where you're at, or why I feel like God wanted me to share a little of this today... but I hope that somehow you'll be encouraged that whatever your situation is- it is not too difficult for God. He can do all things.

I am trusting in Him, waiting on Him, and remembering to *hope* and not to lose heart. He is mighty. I am expectant, and I am anticipating what He's going to do in this situation. Surely He has great things ahead.

Garden in review, and some corn

When Mark told me he wanted to plant a garden this year, I said "Let's not." I knew I wouldn't be able to do much (any!) work in it, and I didn't want all the weeding and harvesting and work to fall to him, so I thought we should take a year off. He really wanted to do it, though, so we decided to go for it, but only plant a few things. The few things we planted were: romaine, spinach, chard, butter lettuce, basil, carrots, corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, and butternut squash.

We enjoyed our lettuce whenever I remembered to go out and get some. I love having lettuce in the garden for salads.

We made lots of pesto from our basil.

Our carrots were never thinned and I'm sure there are some out there but good luck getting them out of the ground; they're all so crammed together. *sigh*

Our cucumbers are awfully happy and growy right now. Do you want one?

The pumpkins are coming along nicely, though I think we have fewer than previous years. But the fact that we're going to have pumpkins makes me so happy-that-it's-Autumn and I really am positively glowing about the leaves and the weather changing and pulling out the slippers and the rice bags again and candles and sweaters and boots and tea and cocoa and EGGNOG LATTES!!! and all the wonder that Autumn brings. LOVE it. Okay, total tangent. Moving on...

Mark tells me the butternut squash is growing and I cannot wait, because I love that stuff.

Oh, but the corn? We got two ears for the four full rows we planted. (To be fair, Mark says "there may be more". But they're small and- it's all just a little disappointing.) Ugh. We have had some good corn years, but that's twice now that our corn just hasn't taken well. :(

So my mom called me up this afternoon and asked if we wanted corn. My grandpa plants a HUGE garden of corn every year and he had plenty to spare. I said "Yes!" She brought up six bags- sixty ears, she said- and there is more to come on Thursday if we'd like (yes, we would).

We rounded up the troops and began shucking corn. The neighbor boy came over to play and I told him the kids weren't playing, they were working. But if he wanted to work right along with them, he was welcome to the back yard to shuck corn with the family. He did.

It didn't take long with all of our helpers. [Sans Adelia. When I handed her an ear of corn to get her to help us, she promptly threw it on the ground and said, "All done." That was before she'd tasted it.]

I set to work blanching the corn while Mark followed up by cutting the kernels off the ears. I love this guy. I could never do these things without him.

The older kids played outside with the neighbor boy while we were in with the little girls. Audra was on my back in the Ergo:

(and nearly asleep, here!) and Adelia roamed around trying to take a bite of every ear of corn available to her. Mark told her no several times. After a little while she disappeared and when I went looking for her, I found that she had shut herself in our dark closet with an ear of corn she was happily nibbling on. (Little rascal!)

Into the pack-n-play she went.

Then we called the kids in and sent the neighbor boy home with a bag of corn. Isaias' job was to put the lid on the tubs of corn, Isaac's job was to wipe off the lid (I'd just washed them and they were wet), and Ella's job was to write on the lids. (Guess who was REALLY excited about their job?)

When there was lag time they took the full tubs to the downstairs freezer.

Mark kept cutting, I kept blanching, Audra kept sleeping.

And we let Adelia loose.

(Daddy said it was okay.)