We made many memories at the McGaugh Academy this week!

Our neighborhood lost power right before sundown. When I was little, I was always asking my parents to turn off lights and have nights with just candles lighting our way (I am such a romantic, so lost always in my books. Even in middle school, I was a creature of another century). I remember that a highlight of my childhood was convincing my parents to let me carry an old-fashioned candle upstairs to bed. Bill’s iPhone 5, which took this photo, makes the room look ablaze with light, but really the power was out. It just so happened that our chicken had JUST finished roasting before our power loss. I finished the mashed potatoes and the maple butternut squash and apple on the stove, working all by candles. A poetic pioneer adventure… We ate by candlelight, and we read a handwritten letter from our cousin that happened to come that afternoon. A handwritten letter from a cousin by candlelight? I had a little purr in my heart because we were so clearly in a book! I love those in-a-book moments. We also read some Aesop’s fables by candlelight. Does it sound strange to say that I felt my heart sink just a little when the lights came back on? In fact, the first thing I did was turn them all back off…and then I finished washing dishes by candlelight.

My mom helped Eric and Katie make cookies. I was outside cleaning the garage, finding rodent droppings, and becoming convinced that my family is all going to perish from hantavirus. But that’s another story… Inside, my mom let the children create, which I love! Eric made cookies his way, and Katie made up her own recipe. My mom was a facilitator, but they did not use a recipe. Katie has cooked long enough to know basic principles of baking. She even replaced some of the sugar with honey, and they didn’t use much butter. Eric kept his simple: cinnamon and chocolate chips. Yum! Katie invented an apple-chocolate-coconut-raisin-spice cookie. Extremely tasty. I’ve never put apples in a cookie before! It works!

My two handsome men at Katie’s soccer game.

Part of our Autumn Leaves unit: making “thankful trees” and using fingerprints as leaves. On the back, we wrote the people and experiences for which we are thankful.

My two painters. I picked up these maple leaf painting kits for a dollar apiece at Target when we went with my cousin Kd a few weeks ago.

We’ve read books and watched videos on why leaves change colors in the fall. We collected various leaves around our yards, used Montessori cards to identify shapes. (Shapes like “cordate,” “ovate,” etc. lend themselves also to mini-Latin lessons on roots).

We also used our leaves to make leaf rubbings! I had fun with this, too!

One morning while I was tidying up, Eric was allowed to use his LeapPad. He went to get his play keys, and, holding both keys and Pad, said he was “Daddy.” Then he wanted to pretend to get into his “grey beep.”

We’ve been printing out so many assignments, crafts, pictures lately that I had to find a way to slow down on our ink consumption. I printed out three different addition sets and laminated them. Katie does a column every morning as a warm up before we embark on other math. When she is done, we can check it, erase it, and reuse the card. Both Bill (a math teacher) and I are very much on the side of math drills. I grew up on them in my elementary school, and I loved doing my times tables under a time limit. Otherwise in math this week she has been working on identifying numbers 21-30 (from our textbook, easy). We supplement with geometry, addition of numbers 1-10, and actual analogies made from math concepts. (Like old school SAT types of analogies, which we believe train the mind). She loves the analogies. In fact, I only had five for her the first day, and she begged me to do the next set as well. I am happy that her mind likes that groove.

Katie asked for some time in the kitchen to create whatever she wanted, and she came up with two pumpkin cakelets (one for herself and one for Eric).

Eric has been involved in our math and science this week, as well. We use the unifix cubes to practice counting, adding, and pattern making. They have proved a useful investment.

During one of Eric’s naps this week, Katie and I built a farm/stables/barn. Her idea.

We received a handwritten letter from our friend Ashley in Colorado this week, and she included Halloween stickers! My kiddos have been using those for posters, and we’ve put some on Katie’s work, also. So we wrote her back!

Making a glittery pumpkin to send to our friend.

Mud pie for sale? Any buyers?

Katie’s Obama/Romney poster for the debates. I think I might have mentioned: she is very much interested in the debates and this election. I usually keep my politics to myself, but she has really been encouraging a whole family interest in the election this year. I can’t wait to take her with me to vote so she can see what that is like…

We are now on our last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Katie’s costume as Queen Lucy Pevensie is complete, and she wore it for the first time to music class on Friday. Part of it includes a crown I had made of natural materials and beads for a costume I was planning to wear when I was pregnant with her. In fact, I had spent the night before she was born making the crown and watching Camelot (the musical). Still teaching and expecting Katie to be born close to her November 16th due date, I was planning to be Mother Nature at work that week. Then she came on October 29th, and my life was forever changed. I never wore the crown, but I kept it. It is surreal to see her wear it this year…as she turns five-years-old on Monday.

We’ve also kept up with our social studies and our language arts this week, of course, but I have no pictures of those!

On Thursday, we had the opportunity to support the TVHS Mock Trial team (my old team—we went to the state level competition in 1998, my senior year). They had a fundraiser at Rubio’s. Some of my friends (who were on the team and who became lawyers) now help my friend Jen coach the team. Several of Bill’s math department colleagues were there, as well. I loved feeling connected to everyone, and feeling still a part of the TVHS spirit, both as a former student and as a teacher. I’ve lived so much of my life on that campus, when I think about it—it is part of who I am, as are the people who have been part of it with me.

Our soundtrack this week has been Taylor Swift’s new album, Red. That might be another blog entry all on its own… I love every song, and there are not many albums about which I say that. She is a bit darker on this album than usual and takes some risks. I become so emotionally invested in music, and the stories Swift tells resonate with me. Although many of her songs are about her love affairs gone wrong, her lyrics invite me to interpret her songs in my own way. I think of phases of my life that I have moved on from, or of break-ups I’ve had, or of falling in love with Bill, or friendships that have evolved, or humanity itself, or people I know who might have experienced a feeling in one of her songs. In fact, I’ve been staying up way too late this week listening to her album on repeat and just soaking in every note and letting her music take me on thought-journeys.

Good night, everyone!