Fall Interval, part 1 Review 1:

As I started to type this out, it got really long so I'm breaking into two reviews. This first part covers an overview of our educational approach and those things we do all together. Part two (I'll link here when it's up on the blog) will cover what each child was learning during our Fall Interval, part 1.

We break up our years into intervals, which are usually around 6 weeks each. I plan our intervals around our co-op schedule first.  In between each interval we usually take 1 week off but sometimes more (3 weeks off around Christmas, an entire month in the summer, etc). These break weeks are not often vacation time (though sometimes they are & that's fun!) but instead used to catch up on life, though we try to always have a few fun activities & enjoy sleeping in. I highly recommend Mystie's blog (& courses!) to learn more about interval planning. We've done this for years now & it's really helped us establish a workable "groove." 

We finished our first interval of the school year & are currently on a baby break which is 4 weeks. Yikes! That's not ideal- we had just got into a good groove of lessons & I'm a bit concerned they're gonna forget everything but we've been here before & it all worked out. Besides, co-op & music lessons are continuing so their brains are not completely going numb. I thought I'd share an overview of our first interval along with some pictures. I'm hoping to do so again after each interval.


Fall Interval, Part 1 Review:

This first interval was scheduled for 6 weeks but actually ended only being 4 due to taking one week off to visit with our friends from Texas & then Timothy's arrival. We'll make up for it by adding on 2 extra weeks to the next interval. We started back to lessons before our co-op began because I wanted to re-establish habits + I knew we would have a long baby break & I didn't want to extend lessons too far into the summer. As I mentioned above, during our baby break, the children have returned to co-op & music lessons which has helped fill their days a bit but still left more free time & enabled me to not have teach {much}.

We follow a classical & Charlotte Mason (CM) approach to educating, pulling a lot from Ambleside Online (AO) though we do not use it completely. I can't recommend their site highly enough! I'm blown away that so many ladies offer so much wisdom & guidance for FREE! I didn't come to a deeper understanding of CM until about a year & half ago. I wish we could have done it this way from the beginning! I'm grateful I still have lots of little ones to go from start to finish with but even my older children have benefited from this approach.


Circle Time for ALL: From the beginning of having children, the foundation to our day has always been circle time. (It happens even we are not doing "school.") This is a set time each week day where we all gather together for memorizing & feasting on riches/beauty like music, art, poetry, Shakespeare, literature. (We do meet on co-op days.) For years, my focus was on Bible study, poetry & memory work but CM showed me the importance of incorporating not only truth & goodness into our learning but also beauty. So we added Shakespeare, composers, folk songs, art study & reading aloud to our circle time. In addition to a bit of review each day, we spend one or more intervals focused on a set amount of work. Repetition makes it stick!  Here's the Circle Time plans for Fall Interval, part 1:

  1. Hymn: O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  2. Bible Memory: Exodus 20:1-17 (the Ten Commandments) & The Lord’s Prayer
  3. Catechism: the Children’s Catechism, The Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism
  4. Poems: The Pessimist & the Optimist (Patricia, Benjamin & Matthias); The Swing (Jonathan & Elizabeth); After the Party (Abigail); Ooey Gooey & Celery (Emily & Katherine).
  5. Shakespeare: Julius Caesar (memorizing lines & listening to it while we read along)
  6. Folk Song: the Outlandish Knight
  7. History & Geography: Pledge of Allegiance & the Northern Border of the United States
  8. Read Alouds: Little Pilgrim’s Progress; Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Reformation Heroes
  9. Composer: Aaron Copland (we listened to Appalachian Spring & Billy the Kid)
2016-08-22 mobileditl6 circle time.jpg

Mama's Assessment of Circle Time: need to be better about reviewing each day so we do not forget what we worked so hard to memorize. There are several things still to fold in next interval.

Reading Aloud for ALL: Reading has also been foundational to the culture of our home. (btw, I count audiobooks or my being read to under this category in addition to Eric it I reading aloud.) Those stories have knit us together & our imaginations have soared to places we could never travel as we laughed or cried or discussed characters & plots. Often, older children have picked up books & read aloud with no prompting from me and I especially love watching that unfold! Besides Circle Time, we tend to read aloud at lunch (audiobook, Patricia or I) & at dinner (Eric or I). I need to get the boys reading more though everyone takes turns helping to read at Circle Time. Jonathan & Elizabeth are reading aloud the Little House series to me- they get their own hardback copies as they read. (All of my older children did this also!) I usually alternate one of them reading to me each day.

In the beginning, majority of our educational lessons were completely together & I read aloud everything. I miss those simpler days because now I've got my eldest & three sets of children + littles, each working at different things. Glorious but phew- it's a lot! That's why things like family worship, Circle Time and reading aloud remain foundational- they bring us together & enable me to cover more things in a set amount of time. We only finished one book during the Fall Interval, part 1: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. (Patricia read this one.)

Mama's Assessment of Reading Aloud: We definitely didn't read the quantity of books we usually cover due to pregnancy/sickness. Get the boys to read aloud too!

Friday Afternoons for ALL: in reality, this didn't happen because I had iron transfusions every Friday afternoon during this interval. So sad! Next interval, this will be our time for a nature walk or Law's study if the weather is bad. We tried to fit nature study into other parts of our day since we couldn't do it on Fridays:


Afternoons for ALL: Following CM principles, we set aside time in the afternoons for time outdoors (free play, walks, bikes & yard work), handicrafts, music, baking, art & crafts and reading. I require EVERYONE to get out of each other's face & be alone for at least a half hour- they usually read during that time & most take longer than a half hour. Littles always nap & often, so do several of us older ones. I'm trying to limit screen time- it slipped into our days with pregnancy & sickness. Sigh. Breaking that bad habit is not easy. Chores finish up our day before we eat & have our evening routine (dinner, family worship, reading aloud, baths, meeting with Daddy, bedtime).


Mama's Assessment of Afternoons: I'm still learning to love this time. I'm tired after teaching & I'm not one to love crafting with children... but I'm trying to embrace the riches of these things. It helps that as the children get older, they can do more independently & clean up after themselves. It also essential for me to get some alone & quiet time- it brings much needed refreshment to my mind & body.


Note: life with increasingly older children means their social calendars are growing + Benjamin works 3 days a week. If an older child misses one of these above group gatherings, they are required to catch up on their own. They rarely miss Circle Time but if they did, they would need to go through it by themselves. They're required to read the portions we read aloud or do a similar nature study on their free time.

I'll be back soon with part 2 of our Fall Interval, part 1 review!


1st day of co-op

Four of the children attend a co-op at our church once a week. Yesterday was their first day. I usually teach art classes but since I'm due to have this baby (he will come one day, right?), I'm waiting to begin till the second semester. Abigail & Emily will take art lessons with me then and they can hardly wait! It isn't fun to be home without Elizabeth! It was a little weird to have a day with just littles (+ Patricia, who is focusing on dual enrollment classes instead of co-op). Enjoy this peek into our day!

Mornings start a bit earlier on co-op day:


I made the children look at me & smile so I could snap a few iPhone pics:


Bubbles & chalk help to pass the morning:


Waiting for lunch is hard when you're starving (& mama already has hers):


Not going to lie... it was kinda nice to have quiet time where everyone took a nap:


This girls hasn't napped since she as two (but she does wait on her bed). She was beyond bored & ready for Elizabeth to return:


So I had an epic mom fail... I guess I so impressed upon Elizabeth the need to be with Benjamin during study period that when she couldn't find him, she cried. Twice. Yeah, way to go me. 


Thankfully, we were able to end the day with some cuddles, playtime with siblings & dinner:


2017-2018 first day of school

Yesterday marked our first day back to lessons. I'm hoping to get in some work before Timothy makes his apperance and before the craziness of co-op begins. It was a glorious day. Today, has not been glorious. I'm grateful I waited till today to edit images & post this because it's encouraged me. Getting back into a groove, learning to joyfully work, remembering how to think and apply yourself after a summer break... well, that's hard. It's going to take time & I need to give my children and myself grace while still holding the line. That balance isn't easy but I pray I can be faithful as the children learn to do so also. We're in this together!

Anyway, I kept our first day short & sweet. I met with each child for a sort of "orientation"- we discussed what they would learn this year, I showed them their new books, where to store things and how their new checklists would work. We all gathered for circle time. Little ones enjoyed lots of playtime, including soaking in the lovely weather outside. I met with a few children for reading and a few independent lessons were accomplished but not much. Then I rushed out the door for a midwife appointment and quick run to the grocery store. PHEW.

We ended the day with Sonic slushies because the children say it's a tradition. Remember this one from last year? It's still one of my favorites.

Well, this year Josiah was thrilled to get his own slushie! Sugared up, we went home and tried to settle children down for bed. Yeah, that took forever. Day one in the books. I'm excited to see what this year holds... and I already look forward to break weeks. ;)

Here are some images from our Sonic run & also Emily and Katherine's chalk selfies. Also, I'm sharing clips from my Instagram stories because I didn't want to loose them after 24 hours. Not the greatest quality since it was shot & edited on my phone but I know I'll be glad I saved this! Btw, following along IG stories live on IG is much more fun.



around our clocks: 7am

Pregnancy diabetes. The diagnosis came as a complete shock and honestly, I'm not convinced it's accurate but it's in my charts & there is no changing the doctor or midwives minds. I've had a range of emotions from shock to anger to sadness. This is all new to me- a first after many pregnancies. Thankfully, my numbers during the day are perfect & my morning numbers after fasting were very close so I'm hopeful (& determined) to adjust those numbers by eating a snack before bed (something I wasn't doing) & getting in some more walking (some days easier said than done because of my anemia).

It's hard some times not to be eager to be done being pregnant. I KNOW I will miss this so I'm trying to tell myself to soak it all in. I know this is a minor thing compared to what many are facing- in fact, our dearest friends are battling cancer right now & it's reminded me again what a blessing our health is. Submitting my will and desires (even good ones like health) and resting in God's plans... I wish I could say it comes easily but it doesn't always. Praise Jesus, He is faithful and patient!

For one year, I'm joining group of fellow documentary photographers as we share what one specific hour looks like in our lives. One hour shared once a month. The project's called "Around Our Clocks." Be sure to visit Meghan Nesom Photography next (if you follow the circle completely, you'll end back here)! If you would like to see all of my images from this series, click the projects button at the top of the screen.

day in the life: June 3, 2017

I've done a few mobile ditl but it's not since last April that I lugged my camera around with me to capture our day. It's definitely not for the faint of heart but I was in the midst of a photography class, so I had extra motivation. I'm really hoping I can do these ditl more regularly (maybe seasonally & print a book?) because it's such an awesome way to remember what life is like! This one was shot on a Saturday & we even got out for some shoe shopping, though you'll see Katherine thought she was on a shopping spree. Sadly, Benjamin was gone for most of the day working so you won't see him beyond the first picture.

Seeing these ordinary moments always make my heart shine!

around our clocks: 2pm

I can hardly believe this is our sixth month of sharing images! The little girls are battling a summer cold, which has to be the worst kind of cold but I'm grateful it's not the flu! Summertime offers more time for play & lots more laundry. Also, this is my belly at 29weeks. I can hardly believe I'm this far along already!

Each month, I'm joining group of fellow documentary photographers as we share what one specific hour looks like in our lives. The project's called "Around Our Clocks." Be sure to visit Nicole Sanchez, a Northern Virginia family photographer next (if you follow the circle completely, you'll end back here)! If you would like to see all of my images from this series, click the projects button at the top of the screen.

planting with Papa

"while buying mulch, I couldn't help but also purchase a few flowers. they were not for me- as Daddy puts it, I'm the Black Widow of plants- but I knew Papa was coming over & he could help you all. as Abigail puts it, "Nanny's good at sewing & Papa's good at planting." yep. I love watching you all get your hands in the dirt, learning how things grow & seeing the beauty of your work. I love that Papa was able to share these moments with you, even if the the big, loud group of you is a bit out of his comfort zone sometimes."

around our clocks: 11am

Most weekdays find us busy with lessons at 11am. Maybe some lunch prep but this past Friday, I decided to clean out the fridge by eating leftovers so no prep needed. Yipee! You'll notice he's not always thrilled with the idea of lessons (I actually think the reason this time was that he was bored with this math lesson):

But that's okay, he wasn't the only one that was bored. Yep, teaching isn't always thrilling:

And while I was inspiring great thinking, the littles were "playing" in the basement which basically means they were making huge messes (it was raining this day so no outside time):

At least someone was enjoying their reading (and yes, he has jeans without holes but why wear those?):

I found Abigail quietly playing in her room since her lessons were already finished:

This is part seven of a group project called Around Our Clocks. Each month, a group of fellow documentary photographers share what one specific hour looks like in our lives. Be sure to visit Stephanie Bryan, Lifestyle Photographer in Raleigh, NC next (if you follow the circle completely, you'll end back here)! If you would like to see all of my images from this series, click the projects button at the top of the screen.

one second project: april

I missed more days than I care to remember but the theme for April was to keep going with projects even though they were less than perfect. I shot an extra second on several days.

I'm truly sorry you have to hear us sing at the end! Now you'll know why none of us are in choir. Here's a few seconds of our month of April:

12 months of portraits: april

Anyone notice how I missed March? Ahem. I'm gonna keep going. It can be hard to keep with a year-long project but one of the biggest keys to success is to keep going, even when (and especially because) you "fail." I started learning freelensing this month and I guess that's another tip keeping up with a project: mix it up & learn something new!

And here's the grid of them all:

around our clocks: 9am

We drove 16.5 hours last Friday on our way home from Michigan so Saturday morning found us moving very slowly- only one child awoke before 9. Eric ran to the store to get the essentials for breakfast. That doesn't usually include donuts but you'll see he wasn't the only one who ate them. (The children can't eat them so I'll let you deduce who else "helped" him.)

This is the 6th installment of a group project called Around Our Clock. Each month, a group of fellow documentary photographers share what one specific hour looks like in our lives. Be sure to visit Christina from petrasiliephotos, family & lifestyle photographer next (if you follow the circle completely, you'll end back here)! If you would like to see all of my images from this series, click the projects button at the top of the screen.