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One of the most frequent questions I am asked about our homeschooling paradigm is whether or not we have a structured learning day. (This is not, by far, THE most frequent question—the most ubiquitous question regards the “socialization” of my children, and I have been composing a blog entry in my head to address this for over a year). I cannot speak for every homeschooling family, because we’re all so different and subscribe to different pedagogies (classical, Montessori, Waldorf, unschooling, Jeffersonian, etc.) but at the McGaugh Academy, we thrive on a structured day. That structure and routine gives us something to fall back on when we’re not feeling like doing our work, so we feel it is very necessary. Structure carries us through mornings that are rougher to start. That said, we’re also flexible if a field trip, learning experience, or family opportunity comes up. Most of the time, though, we wake up and start working through our core subjects in a methodical and predictable way.

So although we truly believe—and practice the idea—that learning occurs ALL the time and every moment is a chance for teaching, when we have a school break we take the break by releasing ourselves from the predictable structure. Oh, we keep learning. And sometimes we actually do our curriculum just for fun or to give us padding for later. We do, however, put our structure to the side for the holiday. Katie is, for example, allowed to watch cartoons first thing in the morning for a change! She loves that! We also have more time to read “for fun” books (she is currently almost finished with her first American Girl series), as opposed to our Five In a Row (which we love) literature. We usually fit in both anyway, but during break we can just lose ourselves in the chapter books as much as we want to.

We also packed in the field trips and family visits this week! We wholeheartedly view the community as our classroom. Everyone is our classmate. Everyone can be a teacher. Every experience is an opportunity to learn. Our classroom may not have four walls, but it is still a classroom. Bill and I don’t make a distinction between learning and fun—learning IS fun. At least is always has been for us, LOL! Our goal is for Katie and Eric to be lifelong, engaged, self-directed learners. We have to show them how to do that in the real world.

 

Last week we headed to Los Angeles, and we met our friends Rosa and Dan and their son Nolan at Exposition Park. We saw the Endeavour and the Cleopatra exhibit. Katie was getting over a 24 hour, very virulent, stomach bug and she was a trooper. She was in tears the night before because she’d had her set on seeing the Cleopatra exhibit (one of her very passionate special interests is Egyptian history), and we weren’t sure if we’d have to leave her home or not. We were glad we made the choice to take her (even though she was sick that morning). Her stomach recovered, and she had a blast!

 

 

Bill and the Endeavour! When Eric saw it, he called out “Space shuttle! So big!”

 

 

Here we are with our Cleopatra tickets.

 

 

Humbling. I think of all those hands that carved those stone, hands that have now perished and turn to dust. Makes our time here seem so fleeting, you know?

 

 

Eric got into it, too. The kiddos loved the self-guided audio tour of the exhibit.

 

 

A blurry picture, but I love it because it captures Katie’s intent focus on the audio tour. We had spent time studying Cleopatra before going to the exhibit, so much of the information was either familiar to her, or built upon prior information. She had even spent time pretending to be Cleopatra and dealing with the Romans.

 

 

I said, “Look, Katie! It’s the bust of Caesarion!” Katie’s response? “Mama, I know!!!” This was a piece we had studied…

 

 

From across the room, Katie saw this and said, “Look, it’s the head of Cleopatra’s father!” (on the sphinx). I actually had to double check the placard, but she was right.

 

 

Testing out Egyptian technology…

 

 

Katie had fun with this, too. We love hands-on opportunities!

 

 

Strolling around the rose garden

On Tuesday, we headed to Orange County to visit Nana and my aunts, as well as Great-Great-Uncle Ross:

 

We are so thankful for our time as a family, and we are thankful for the chance to teach our children how to care for and love our elders and how to embrace life’s cyclical nature.

On Wednesday we went with our friends to Pennypickle’s Workshop, the children’s science museum in Old Town Temecula. We love that place! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera! The workshop is set up as a house where Dr. Pennypickle, an inventor and scientist, lives. Every room is filled with all kinds of feats of engineering, hands on activities, and things to touch, touch, touch. Everything is based around scientific concepts (magnetism, wind, light, etc).

Then on Thursday we had Thanksgiving!

 

 

Ready to see our family!

 

 

Eric tries to eat the pumpkin…nom, nom, nom!

 

 

It was Baby Chelsea’s first Thanksgiving… Just last Thanksgiving, my cousin Beth announced her pregnancy. This much-awaited, miraculous little girl is finally here having family parties with us! So thankful! Everyone was loving on her, and she got to spend time with her great-grandmother Dot. In other good news, cousin (well, cousin-in-law, but my family doesn’t make too much distinction) Mike is engaged to his love Rocio. They are marrying in January. So good to see our family expanding!

 

 

My K-Dizzle, Kades, Kd Horne!

 

 

Ma Mere Bear!

 

 

Catching up with Meredith!

 

 

And Katie discovered something really awesome-sauce this Thanksgiving: she can read...in her head. She has been reading aloud for quite some time now (before starting K), and through her K work we’ve seen her sense of phonics strengthening as well as her sight words. She has been gaining confidence all year. Up ’til now, she has read everything out loud (except for a few times…but when I’ve “caught” her reading to herself, she always gets shy and uncertain and pretended she can’t—I don’t know why…she just marches to her own beat)! But on Thanksgiving, she suddenly gained the confidence and the desire and spent a good portion of time just reading to herself. Every once in awhile, she would sound out a word out loud… In the days since Thanksgiving, she has now been practicing this skill. I love watching her world open up wide… There is nothing like reading a good book.

 

 

Eric headed toward a food coma, with a turkey-grease stained shirt. Keepin’ it classy, folks!

 

 

Katie ADORES her great-uncle George. She couldn’t wait for him to arrive!

 

 

Eric loves Great-Aunt Diane’s soup as much as we do. Tradition!

On Friday, we were supposed to see two friends (a former student of mine, and my friend Lauren and her kiddos). Eric spent most of the wee hours of the night and morning have sickness on the order of Katie’s stomach bug. As with Katie, I put him on the B.R.A.T. diet right away (thanks to Bill taking an early morning run to the store), and it seemed to help him clear up by the evening. I swear by that diet.

All morning until his nap we tended to him and did several loads of sickness laundry, but when he finally went down, we took out our Christmas decorations. Fortunately he woke up feeling better and was able to help, too.

 

 

 

Santa Katie!

On Saturday, we decorated some more (put up the kitchen tree and the kiddos’ room trees) and went on our annual date with my mom to The Nutcracker. For me, The Nutcracker really rings in the season right after Thanksgiving. I don’t think I will ever tire of it.

 

 

Ready for The Nutcracker

 

 

Feeling festive!

 

 

This was Eric’s first ballet, and his second live theater performance overall. I’ve been coasting for years now on having Katie live-theater-trained (we’ve enjoyed going quite a bit together), and so it was a little nerve-wracking to return to teacher/training mode, but Eric is doing so well! This is definitely a skill for which we have specific objectives, and in a highly social and public venue. I used to get so nervous about my formal observations and teaching evals when I was in the classroom, but sometimes the intensity of those pales in comparison to teaching my children proper social behavior in front of everyone, LOL! But we have to start sometime… I was so relieved when Katie was theater-trained, not only for her sake but also because I love attending the theater myself—and if I want to go, she needed to be able to come with me. My dream is to take them both to Ashland for the Shakespeare festival not next summer, but the following. I was pregnant with Katie last time we went.

Anyway, I think Eric benefits from watching his sister as a model. He was fascinated by The Nutcracker, especially the curtain going up and down and the rats. Pushing nap time, he did fall asleep shortly after the pas de deux, but he made it through most of it. In the car on the way home, he kept giggling and saying, “Me see Nutcracker!” He has been playing with our nutcracker at home since the performance, and we also turn on the music and the kiddos like to pretend to put on the ballet.

This production of The Nutcracker is a good one for live theater practice. The stakes are high enough to keep me “on” as a teacher, but so many kiddos are there with their adults that I am not totally stressed, either. I know I can take the children out, if need be, without too many glares. πŸ˜‰ As it happened, an older woman actually complimented Eric on how well-behaved he was. Yay! For only his second experience, I’ll take it!

It went so well that Bill and I bought tickets to A Christmas Carol for a family date. We’re still doing the Sunday matinee (that seems to be a good training session, generally, lots of kiddos). Katie and I have seen it before, and I am hoping Eric engages with it, too!

 

 

Katie in her green velvet Christmas Eve dress with her pink room tree. I love her hair with green…

 

 

The kiddos on Saturday night with his-n-hers jammies, next to Eric’s room tree. We love to sing carols, read Christmas stories, and look at all the ornaments. This is, for sure, a magical time of year.

On Sunday, we had our annual Thanksgiving II at my mom and dad’s house down the street. My brother and sister (sister-in-law) came from L.A. to join in the festivities! I love that Bill can take a panorama. My dad’s chin isn’t usually so sunken in, though!

 

 

My mom made an excellent Thanksgiving meal, and we all enjoyed leftovers today!

 

 

Dinnertime!

 

 

Eric loved the rolls, especially.

After dinner, the kiddos played dragon tickle monster with their aunt and uncle, and we helped Uncle David move some of his books out of his old room (David and Ashley recently moved to their new house).

Today we’ve been back in our homeschooling routine, easing in a bit!

Hope everyone had a beautiful and happy Thanksgiving week!

 

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Confessions. This made me cry:

I mean, actually cry.

The kiddos and I were dressing to attend a birthday party this afternoon, and I was putting on my make-up right before Bill came on duty to help with them. Eric got ahold of the baby powder and sprinkled his room, part of Katie’s room, the bathroom, the entire hallway, and most of my room before I realized that he and his sister were no longer playing “shoe store” as they had been a few minutes previously. You might wonder how it came to be that he sprinkled so much before I discovered it. Yes, me too. Mommy fail. πŸ˜‰

It’s just baby powder.

But I cried.

I am the first to encourage my kiddos to make joyful messes, and I am usually pretty mellow about it. Children learn through mud, paint, creating their own recipes, crafting, and getting scraps of paper and toys everywhere—I really believe that. However, this was unexpected, we were due to leave the house, and I stayed up WAY too late making headway shopping online for the kiddos’ Christmas gifts this year.

These pictures don’t show the half of it. I cleaned up a bit of it, and then just left the rest for when we got home.

Now I am home and on my computer. At least the floors will smell nice… I should probably get to it. The good thing is, the strewn powder doesn’t seem nearly as much of a mess as it did before the party. Sometimes it is good to give myself a time out. Looking back, it was silly to be stressed by this, huh? It’s just that I’ve been trying to get the house somewhat in order before we put our decorations up in a couple of weeks. Oh well. That’s just part of life with the young set!

Besides, Daddy and Eric took these cutie pie photos while I was upstairs smearing my eye make-up:

It’s a good thing our kiddos are so cute! Oh no, Mommy, I would never dream of powdering the whole upper story floor. πŸ˜‰

Eric is making a silly face on purpose!

Pirate Eric! When I saw this one, I cracked up because I used to make a pirate smile in virtually all of my pictures when I was about Eric’s age. He must get this from me!

Ready for the birthday party (Eric wanted to run around the yard at this time). We are having trouble with our grass this season (and have tried various solutions), but I think the brown gives the picture a certain fall ambiance, don’t you?

Our birthday present for Gracie, who turned two-years-old today and had a “Curious George” themed birthday party. The kiddos and I made a monkey card this morning!

The birthday girl and her mama, Lauren, who is pregnant with their third—their first boy!

Lauren’s mom Sharon made this Curious George themed cake and cupcakes—so adorable!

Katie and Gracie in the bouncy house

Eric loved his little party blower!

Hello, Katie girl!

The truth is, I find my son hilarious. He makes me laugh constantly, my little jokester. I don’t know if you can see it, but he put the rest of his cupcake on the back of the bike and started biking away with it. Cupcake ride! He has this unique way of looking at the world that fills me with mirth.

Yesterday was Katie’s last soccer game of the season, and my first red cup of the season! We had an 8:00 AM game. Oh I am going to miss soccer with my little people. It was my special time with Katie, watching her practice, taking her to pick out gear, cheering her on…and it was special time with Eric, together playing on the sidelines during evening practices. Grass fights. Follow the leader. Wrestling. Kanga and Roo. His construction trucks. Boy am I going to miss those Wednesday evenings with my kiddos. I know we’ll be at home together, but those have been very special times for us. Sigh. So glad she initiated playing spring season!!

Katie is ready to kick off.

Early to the game and before warm-up.

We also connected more science to our corn unit:

We made oobleck, which is a non-Newtonian substance made of corn starch and water that can act like both a liquid and a solid based on the amount of force exerted on it at any one moment. We use a 1 : 2 (water to cornstarch) ratio with a few drops of food coloring for panache. Oobleck is gnarly good fun, and on a list of winners for us. Even after our experiment was winding up and the oobleck was drying out, Katie took it back inside, adjusted the water ratios without any input or advice from me, made it work again, and then entertained herself with it for a loooooooooong time. Rainy day? Oobleck is going into our bag of tricks!

When you pick it up, oobleck feels like a solid. When you let it go, or when it is sitting in the bowl, it looks and acts like a liquid. The best part of all this (besides the ooey gooey lovely messy fun) was that it tied together our studies of maize with our studies on states of matter from a couple of weeks ago. It felt like so much of our learning came together right here. I love that!

We also tried out my new pumpkin scroll Williams-Sonoma loaf pan and a new recipe for pumpkin bread that came with it. I actually have some pumpkin bread gifting that I’d like to do, but I wanted to test this new recipe first (I usually use the Joy of Cooking). I liked the orange zest in it, but I did miss the more clove-y notes. The kiddos preferred the JoC recipe, though I liked some of the nuances of the W-S recipe.

And then, this was really neat. Working totally on her own, Katie decided to make clothes for her cornhusk dolls. I did not help or have one bit of input. She cut them all herself and attached them. What really made me jazzed: she made a white pilgrim bonnet for her doll, bringing together our study of corn with other seasonal history we have been studying. Hurrah for synthesis! I just love it when those assessments of what she knows can happen (or even reveal themselves) on such an authentic and truly internalized level. Children reveal so much of themselves and what they know in their play. What a privilege to be her teacher and her mom and to get to see this happening.

Hmm… 5:04 PM now. Bill has the kiddos downstairs, so I have a bit of time to write…and clean up powder. It’s time! The funniest thing of all is that baby powder is cornstarch. The irony of the connection to our maize unit is not lost on me, believe me! When we live our learning here at the McGaugh Academy, we really live it!

With Thanksgiving themed lessons, field trips, lots of reading and cuddles, and more autumn weather, this has been a very cozy week at the McGaugh Academy. We are closing in on the end of our third learning period with River Springs—the year is now zipping along, much like it used to in my own classroom at about this time. I am so utterly grateful for this time with my two kiddos, and I love watching their bond grow as they experience all of life together. As we enter this totally magical time of year, I cannot wait for all of our Christmas crafts and lessons! I love being their mommy, teacher, and cheerleader.

We have so many pictures this week!

The kiddos had a couple of Montessori trays this week. I haven’t been using these as much, although I should because Eric is the prime age to benefit from them. Katie worked with magnetic numbers to make and solve simple addition equations; Eric had a geometry tray.

I was super excited for this tray, which I came up with one night and was kind of pleased that I did. He had to use his pretend saw (which he adores) to “saw” a square made of blocks into its two component triangles, etc. It really put together for him some passions he has along with one of his favorite activities (block building) right now.

Each morning after calendar time, the kiddos worked together on their individual “Thanksgiving is For…” books. Each letter in the word “Thanksgiving” has a page (i.e. “T is for turkey” and “H is for harvest”). I got these from EnchantedLearning.com . Eric can’t write out the transcription yet, but I let him try and also color. Because I restrict them to one letter a day, Katie is begging to do her book. One day I let her do two letters in a row… Funny how, if I had asked her to do the whole book at once, she would have been overwhelmed and resistant (who wouldn’t be??); however, when doing more than one page is cast as a treat, she looks forward to it every day. Teacher psych. πŸ˜‰ It’s all about making things feel fun…

A-maize-ing! We study maize this week and tied it into a larger Thanksgiving unit. So fun! We used Aliki’s “Corn is Maize” book (which I picked up on a lark at Riley’s when we went to pick apples). So glad I did! We learned sooo much! Katie worked through some supplemental maize material from EnchantedLearning.com, and we added several hands-on activities to put history and science together. We studied maize nomenclature, how it pollinates, its uses and growth, etc. We watched BrainPop Jr. videos streamed through the Apple TV on the origin of Thanksgiving, Squanto, etc. It has been one of those units that feels like it has really come together, which doesn’t always happen, LOL! (Like our “Monster Unit” last year—big time tanker)!

We shucked corn yesterday and practiced identifying the parts. This picture is dark, but I love the look on Eric’s face. He loves learning with his big sis.

We also talked about how maize is related to various grasses, how it is a node plant, and in a nod to our leaf unit the past two weeks, how it is comprised of lanceolate leaves. We picked some grass from our yard and Katie had to point out the “nodes.”

She got super into pretending she was a Native American working with corn. She fashioned a pretend “metate” Β on her own and wanted to pretend to make various corn dishes from the husks. I think next week (after I get to the market) we’ll make tamales. I’ve made these a couple of times before, and from what I know, they are traditional around this time of year. YUM!

We had a little corn craft with construction paper and popped corn. Then we ate some of the popcorn of course! We also listened to an audio short story on Squanto (bought for our road trip, listened to through Colorado, and originally performed as part of NPR’s Rabbit Ears Treasury—we love all the Rabbit Ears audio books we own). Listening to an audio story all cuddled on the couch or while eating lunch is a nice alternative to TV and asks for different skills from our kiddos.

Today we made cornhusk dolls…

Katie has a girl doll and Eric has a boy doll. It’s really true that simple toys can be the most captivating. I had all kinds of plans to make yarn hair and felt outfits for these dolls, but the kiddos were so jazzed to play with them just the way they were! They quickly left me and went off on their own to put the dolls in little “beds” they made on the floor with other toys. They both took them outside while I made lunch, and Eric rode around with his in his Cozy Coupe. The cornhusk dolls sat in their laps at lunch, cuddled with them during pre-nap story time, and Eric’s is now sleeping with him in his crib. You’d think they just had Christmas! Simple toys = big opportunity for imagination.

I got a little carried away…and made this morning’s fruit salad into an attempted cornucopia design. I haven’t seen an example of this, so I was really just playing around. Katie wasn’t sure what it was (and she knows about cornucopias!) so I guess I’d better tweak the design!

On Tuesday we took a field trip to our polling place to VOTE!!! We all wore red and white stripes on top, with a blue field below (skirts and jeans). We like to make events out of things! Makes life fun! Kiddos were great while I marked my ballot, and the volunteers gave them “I voted” stickers, too. Katie felt proud to be part of this. We all watched the results together, too, until bed time.

After the polls? Sports park time! I love how they love each other.

Strong girl!

He is my fearless climber boy! Katie loves to climb, too!

Eric, pointing out the yellow cat, had his last Toddler Time class (for the year) on Monday. We can attend classes again when they pick up in January, or we might branch out and do the Abrakadoodle class. Katie and I took Toddler Time only through the fall, and then we branched out into the art class and that was a good fit for her.

Helping his teacher… When we left he gave her a big hug, and then in the car he said “Bye school!” knowing it was our last class for now. So sweet. I have savored this one-on-one time with my boy.

Eric got to paint his “big boy” step stool this week, and Katie helped. He was SO PROUD and pleased to have one of his own, finally, just like his sister. He’s been using it ever since.

Step stool painting—a rite of passage in our house!

During one of Eric’s naps, Katie had a big painting sesh. She got some new paints and canvases from Amie and Boppa for her birthday. She was in HEAVEN!

We also had Katie’s soccer party this week. Katie’s last game is this Saturday! At her initiation, we signed her up for spring season—she said she doesn’t want soccer to end! That is a huge step for her, to initiate that. Watching our children discover their passions is the most exciting thing…

Talking with Jacob (this boy is amazing! so many goals!!!) about the cool trophies. She really loves her trophy, and I am so proud of her.

The ball even spins. She was so excited to get this…

Team picture!

Family Date Night to the Valley Winds “Autumn Serenade” concert at the Old Town Community Theater.

Waiting for the concert to begin! We got to see my brother’s family-in-law, so part of our extended fam. Some of them play in the Valley Winds, just as my brother and sis-in-law used to. We were lucky to see my brother’s mother-in-law and our cousins-in-law and Great-grandma Bea when they arrived, so we all got to sit together! The concert was AWESOME. Bill and I used to teach with Tom, the conductor, and it is always great to see him and hear how much he knows about all the pieces (which he would introduce before playing). Several arrangements were audience-friendly to the kiddos, who were familiar with many of the tunes like “Shenandoah,” and some of the Wizard of Oz Tunes. The Sousa marches were excellent, and the Valley Winds played their absolute bottoms off on “Stars and Stripes Forever.” So good. One of my favorite Valley Winds concerts!

And it was Mr. Eric’s first experience with live theater, too! He did great! He loved sitting on my lap, and I would whisper everything that was going on, talking about the instruments, the conductor, everything. He loved watching Tom and was a good, mostly quiet and attentive little boy—especially during the pieces. It was only in between pieces that he would clap and call out “all done!” Sweetie pie. After intemission, he needed to step out a moment—just past bedtime, I think! Bill was going to take him out for air for one song and bring him back…but when they tried to come back, they found the door locked! They knocked, but the usher sitting down near it didn’t hear… Too bad. Eric really enjoyed one of the Sousa marches, and there were two more after the intermission. I was sad he missed out… but we have some more live theater field trips coming up, so he’ll have more opportunities!

We also did quite a bit of math and language arts this week, too, of course, but I mostly don’t take pictures of those! It’s been a productive week!

What a fun week! Tomorrow we wrap it all up with Music Together class with our buddies and then head off for an afternoon at Safari Park!

Our bedtime routine is one of the coziest times of the day in our house. The kiddos and I, all snuggly in our jammies, pile into Katie’s bed, surround ourselves with our favorite blankets and stuffed animals, pull over a huge stack of books, read and cuddle, say what we were thankful for during the day, and sing our special songs. A few nights ago, Eric said he was thankful for, “My own Boppa. My friend Nana.” Katie said she was thankful for “My family. My little brother.”

This weekend, too, has been a chance to celebrate time with family and feeling thankful for each other.

 

On Thursday we (along with my mom) went to visit Nana and to help her with her weekly marketing. Eric is so sweet! When we got out of the car, Eric said, “Me ride in Nana’s cart.” Part way through the trip I darted into another aisle to pick something up, and when I came back to Nana’s cart, I found them holding hands and laughing together over a rhyme Nana had made up. Simple, beautiful moments like that are so special, and we are so grateful for the chance to be making these memories. We love these times with our Nana.

 

 

Back at Nana’s house, we ate our lunches, enjoyed brownies Nana had made the night before, and worked on coloring mandalas. I also brought our bag of “shadows and shapes” that our friend Susan had passed along to us. Everyone—Nana, too!—played! So fun that we got to do a little bit of “school” at Nana’s (though really, I packed these activities because they are just quite a bit of fun). When people ask me what I like about homeschooling, one of the first advantages that comes to mind is the flexibility to see our extended family members any day of the week and to learn anywhere.

 

 

After our music class on Friday morning, we spent most of the rest of the day catching up on laundry, tidying, and cleaning. (This week has been Β so much fun—three days of parties, visit to Nana—but chores didn’t really get done at all)!! Thankfully, we were treated in the evening by an impromptu visit from my beautiful cousin Kd and her cutie friend Destiny. They were passing through Temecula on their way to Kd’s house, taking a break from their college campus for the weekend to participate in the SD Color Run. I love my cousin and meeting her friends! Katie and Eric created a funny game in which they tried to see how flexible Kd’s legs are (she has been a lifelong dancer). Anyway, I just love this lady! I haven’t seen many of my cousins in over a month, and I am feeling cousin-starved! I need to schedule some visits! My cousin Beth had the most adorable pictures of her daughter, our newest cousin Chelsea, in her ladybug Halloween costume. Oh my! Adorbs!

 

 

On Saturday morning we cheered for the Green Rockets during their soccer game!

 

 

Our first soccer season has been so much fun! About a week or so ago, Katie mentioned how much she doesn’t want soccer season to end this year. I asked her if she wanted to sign up for spring season, and she was so excited. Growing up and playing, I never played spring season—only fall—but I think this is a great opportunity for her to continue learning and growing in her sport. We signed up for spring season yesterday. Can’t wait until March! Katie has one more game and her team party next week.

 

 

After her game, we went to the park for awhile. Katie made some friends and they spent almost an hour playing “pirate ship.” Eric and I joined in, as well. When Eric wanted to play, one of the girls told him he couldn’t because he was a boy. Katie stuck up for her brother, totally loyal. She didn’t raise her voice or sound mad, but she did matter-of-factly tell the girl, “Don’t be mean to him. He is my brother. He can play if he wants to.” The other girl thought about it a moment and then decided Katie was right. “Okay, he can play,” she said. I love watching the kiddos work life out. I could have intervened, but they all solved it peacefully with no hurt feelings. Sometimes at home, Katie and Eric have little squabbles, but out in the world they are a united front. She protects him, like a big sister should. I love that.

 

 

Hello, Mama. (I love to gobble those cheeks)!

 

 

In the afternoon, my mom came over to make caramel apples with the kiddos. Yum!

 

 

Caramel and chocolate…

 

 

Katie wrote a long letter to her Amie (my mom).

 

 

McGaugh Family Movie Night! We have been working our way through our favorite Disney films in excitement for our little getaway there for a few days later this season. Last night we had pizza and watched Toy Story—always great!

Oh, and catching up from Halloween:

 

 

 

Pumpkin carving? This is how we do it, ladies. With the axe!

 

I love these two.

 

 

Princess Bunny, Elmo Crockett, and Panda Bear Witch came to Halloween dinner!

 

 

Dinner: penne with pumpkin cream sauce, jack-o-lantern quesadillas, and autumn salad with pepitas, dried cranberries, and shaved Brussels sprouts

 

 

Literary character Halloween: Queen Lucy of Narnia, Christopher Robin, and Peter Rabbit. It started with Katie’s choice of Queen Lucy… I didn’t know what Eric and I would be. He happened to be very heavily involved with the various Winnie the Pooh movies about a month ago, and one day I noticed that Christopher Robin’s hair is kind of the same color as Eric’s. That left me… I thought about dressing as Hermione again, but I want to save the Harry Potter theme for another year and have us all dress that way. I also considered being Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, but my kiddos wouldn’t know who that was… I started thinking about children’s lit… And then got this strange idea to be Peter. I girlied him up a bit with a brown skirt! My dark blue velvet jacket is darker than his, but it worked as a nod to the character.

 

 

With our pumpkins

 

 

Ready to trick or treat! Eric has his Hundred Acre Wood buddies!

 

 

Memories together!

Family and friends, we hope your November has started with loveliness!