September at Our Home

September at Our Home

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I can hardly believe that fall is upon us already, but the beautiful crimson leaves outside my window attest to the fact that it’s true. I am always sad to see the summer go, especially since we had such a short season of truly warm summer weather here in the Pacific Northwest, and yet I do relish autumn as a time to take stock of things, slow down, establish new routines and capture summer’s last fleeting moments before we say good-bye for another year.

This summer was full of activity. At the end of May, my husband and I joined an amazing team of other bloggers and went to the Philippines with Compassion International, a brief but life-changing trip. Shortly after returning home, we joyfully discovered that we were expecting our 4th child! From there, the next two months became a blur of nausea and fatigue, pathetic suppers and overflowing laundry baskets, homestay students, and summer fun interspersed amidst it all.

In early July we lost a dear friend, and then spent a week on the Oregon Coast with her husband and children and some friends from church in early August. It was an emotional time, but a special opportunity, and we made many memories that we will cherish.

By mid-August, I was helping my husband full-steam ahead with registration and scheduling for our family business, Resound School of Music. Business is booming, which has made the business/daily life balance very challenging, but we’re grateful for how the Lord has been blessing this work. From there, the weeks blurred together and somewhere in there we enjoyed family outings in the summer heat, my husband’s and youngest child’s birthdays, our 8th anniversary and then began the new homeschool year just the other week.

homeschool fall 2011 books

Homeschool This Year

With our oldest doing Gr.2 work and our second oldest now joining in and doing pre-kindergarten, it seems that the workload has increased significantly since last year. Here is our basic schedule for the weekdays:

  • Aim to be finished eating by 8:30am, with everyone dressed and ready for the day, so that we can do chores and get the kitchen tidy before we begin at 9am.
  • At 9am, I gather all 3 children together for a Circle Time, where we read a Bible story, work on memory verses, do one lesson from Get Wisdom (Biblically-based character lessons/devotionals for young kids), and pray together.
  • At 9:15, I get my 6 1/2 year old settled with a non-fiction book on any variety of topics (science, history, art, etc) for silent reading while I work 1-on-1 with the 4 year old. He and I are doing a few preschool workbooks, flashcard games and simple worksheets (he’s loving these dog and cat worksheets right now), with the intention of getting him used to spending a short but focused period of time at the table with me, and introducing him to his letter sounds (we aren’t doing letter names yet- I like the method for teaching reading in Ruth Beechick’s A Home Start in Reading), numbers and counting 1-10, shapes, colors, patterning, etc.
  • From 9:30 until 10:30, we work on the basics- Language Arts (this year we’re using First Language Lessons, Writing with Ease, Explode the Code, and Sequential Spelling, in addition to plenty of reading), and Math (Math-U-See Beta).
  • At 10:30, the kids have snack and recess (outside if the weather is good) and mommy takes a breather or hops on the computer.
  • At 10:45, we’re back to whatever Language Arts we didn’t get done before recess.
  • Around 11, we begin a more extended period of time to work on history (we’re doing Story of the World, Book 1- Ancient History), geography (Legends and Leagues from Veritas Press), and science (we’re using various books from Evan Moore to explore Simple Machines, Energy, and Habitats this year, as well as another book on Rocks and Minerals). We do history twice a week, science twice, and geography once.
  • We finish up by noon, when I begin to make lunch and Abbie can sit at the kitchen table finishing up anything that’s not quite finished. Today she was drawing pictures of the tale of Gilgamesh (an ancient Assyrian folk tale) to complete our history lesson, for example.

What do I do with the 2 year old? Hmm, very good question. I still haven’t really figured it out yet myself. I think that I’m going to train her to stay in a play pen, with various kinds of activities and toys for at least part of the time. Sometimes she sits in the high chair and either eats or colors. Sometimes she just plays happily. Sometimes she drives us all crazy and gets into everything.

We’ve definitely got some work to do in this area and I’m open to ideas. I really need to go back and re-read Natalie’s excellent post with Seven Strategies for Home Schooling Moms (because I’ll learn everything I can from a mom of 8!).

stephanie 20 weeks pregnant

Pregnancy Update: 20 Weeks!

I love to hit the 20 week milestone. There’s just something about being halfway there that is so encouraging for me.

I had the normal nausea and fatigue, but once I got to about 12 weeks, my stomach started to even out. I remained fairly tired until about 15-16 weeks, when I started feeling more like my usual self. My guess is that we’re having a boy, since that’s the same pattern that my son’s pregnancy followed, whereas I remained both sick and tired right up until 16 weeks with my girls, but who knows?

Most days, I only vaguely remember that I’m pregnant. I suppose that’s how it goes with #4! Life is so busy that it’s only pulling on my maternity clothes in the morning, the achy muscles each time I get out of a chair, the evening indigestion or the occasional baby movements that remind me of this sweet little life growing inside.

I’m doing my best to simply eat well (lots of real, traditional foods- especially protein and calcium foods, and anything that’s particularly nutrient dense), exercise often (this is key- a post on this topic is coming), and take my herbal nutrient supplements from Trilight Health (I’m using Tri-Iron and their pregnancy mineral formula). I’m also on a temporary, restricted diet to try to prevent having another baby with gut issues and food sensitivities, which you can read more about here.

jars of homemade tomato sauce

Gardening and Preserving

Well, as I already alluded to earlier this summer, my beautiful new garden beds were a bit of a flop. Very nutrient-less, dead soil combined with a poor summer weather-wise to result in meager harvests. We did get a decent amount of garlic, heirloom tomatoes, green beans, carrots and greens, all things considering.

I’ve got plans to really enhance the soil this fall with composted manure and organic matter from the yard (leaves, grass, etc.) in hopes that by next spring, it will be bustling with life and ready to produce a better harvest.

I’m through with most of my summer preserving. At this point I’ve done:

Still to come is 20 lbs of canned pears (my hubby’s favorite), as much canned applesauce as I have time for (and maybe a small batch of apple jelly), and lots of dried apple rings. Phew!

What’s Coming Up

In blog news, I’ve recently welcomed some amazing new writers. I am also being joined by a virtual assistant, Lindsey, who will help me keep my head on straight. I’m asked so often how I “do it all”, and the answer is, I don’t. I’ve previously had help in the form of an advertising manager (thanks, Kate, and I’ll miss you!) and now I am adding significantly more hours in the form of this virtual assistant.

For those of you who will be attending the blogging conference, Relevant, I am beyond excited to announce that I will be speaking there! I attended last year and had the most fabulous time, learning and fellowship with other Christian bloggers. It’s such an honor to be a speaker this year, especially alongside some ladies whom I respect immensely, not to mention rooming with my sweet Philippines teammate Emily (whose new book Grace for the Good Girl has just been released- check it out!). The conference will take place in Harrisburg, PA, October 27th-29th.

And that’s what’s going on in our home… how about yours?

Image by Carl M

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  1. Stephanie, you are such an inspiration! I love reading about your homeschooling, and especially about your garden. I hope to grow a lot of my own food in the future, and learn canning too.

    It’s funny to hear that you had such a short time of warm weather this summer! Down here in Texas, we had the longest and hottest summer I can remember. People’s gardens didn’t do well because of too much heat and not enough rain. I’m hoping next year will be better, and maybe I’ll finally have a successful garden. Anyway, God bless you, Stephanie!

    1. @Angela, I think that the Northwest is really experiencing the complete opposite of what so many other places had this summer. We didn’t get much heat at all until August, then it went halfway into September, and fizzled out with the rain and cool mornings/evenings we’re getting now. Fall has arrived. Sigh. But I know that if I lived someone really hot and dry, I’d have complaints about that, too. We need to learn to take what the Lord gives us, right? 🙂

  2. Congratulations on reaching the 20-week pregnancy milestone, Stephanie! I am so glad to read that you are feeling well! I’ve been using Trilight Health products for years and love them. I recommend them to everyone(: I loved reading about all that you canned and preserved as well! Fantastic!

  3. Wow, we preserved a lot more! 50 quarts of tomato sauce and hoping for 30 more (at least), 27 pints of diced tomatoes, 30 quarts of applesauce, 80 quarts of pears (160 lbs.), 50 quarts of peaches, 18 quarts of pickles, 300 frozen green peppers, 75 lbs. frozen peaches, 50 lbs. frozen strawberries, 20 lbs. frozen cherries…. I think we must eat a lot more than most families!

    Yay for 20 weeks!

    1. @Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama, It’s not really a reflection of how much we eat, but rather on how much energy I had this summer, not to mention how pathetic my garden was (and I hadn’t saved up a bunch of extra money, because I had anticipated far more of a garden harvest than I actually got). My husband is so busy with the business that he isn’t able to help and I don’t have family around, so I just do as much as I feel like I do can by myself, knowing we’ll have to supplement the rest from our co-op or from the store. Eventually we’ll get to the place where we can preserve most of our food for winter, especially once the kids are older and can help me more, but for now I just do what I can. Trust me, we eat plenty. 🙂

      1. @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, Don’t worry, we also eat a lot but I also have to do what I can during this season of life. I didn’t do all that I hoped to, but I got done a lot considering the throwing up/nausea stage I was at. Life happens as I said below I have had to throw out tomatoes because of family sickness and other things happening it just happens and there is the important and the urgent and I just pray for wisdom to do what is important in God’s eyes and try not to be perfectionisty or stress over the rest. We eat a lot too (especially my husband and being pregnant right now) but we just do what we can and work with what we have. Not always ideal (often not) but that is okay.

  4. I love hearing about how different families run so I loved this post!
    I have a 3 and a 1 year old so we’re not quite there yet, but I’ve been considering homeschooling and I’m curious, are you completely done with school by noon? What do you and your kids do then? Free play while you work on the business or?? Thanks!

    1. @billie, I’m in your boat–a 3 and almost 1-year-old. For now, I am just trying to do a little one-on-one learning activities with my 3-year-old during my 1-year-old’s morning nap. It doesn’t amount to much right now.

    2. @billie, We try really hard to be done by noon. After lunch they have some free play (I try to get them outdoors if it’s nice), the toddler has a nap and the 4 year old takes quiet time and I’ll often get the 6 year old to go in a room and quietly read. Both the 4 and 6 year old take piano lessons on Monday afternoons, and so they have to practice piano in the afternoons. The oldest does ballet lessons on Thursdays. In October/November, both older kids will be doing swimming 2 days a week. One afternoon each week I go out to a coffee shop to do blog work while my mother’s helper comes over. The rest of the afternoon time is used for housecleaning, laundry, errands, kitchen projects, the odd playdate, blogging, etc. The time goes very easily, that’s for sure! 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed reading this, what a great idea to do this, sort of like what I’ve seen over at Passionate homemaking I think she does a monthly update every month…but I only read her blog occasionally so I don’t know. Anyways, its a great idea.

    Things here have been very hectic and crazy dealing with many different issues but we’re managing. I am very thankful to be over the nausea and throwing up now it seems (for 2 weeks now, I was sick until about 16 weeks). So that is great. I’ve got apples and tomatoes piled up ready to go but some tomatoes have rotted in the process of dealing with sickness and other family stressful situations- that’s life!

    We’ve taken a break from homeschooling (my oldest at grade 1 work) for the past almost 2 weeks…which I hate being as we just got started but sickness gets in the way and its okay.

    1. @Nola, But you do what you have to do, right? I’ve had to give up some preserving opportunities. I let a bunch of pickling cucumbers go to waste because I just couldn’t get to them. Sometimes it happens. I’m glad that you’re feeling better, though. And the beauty of homeschooling? You’ll get back into it and you haven’t really lost anything. She’ll be just fine and you’ll get back on track.

  6. By the way this describes our situation (with 2 year old who will be 3 in January”:

    “Sometimes she sits in the high chair and either eats or colors. Sometimes she just plays happily. Sometimes she drives us all crazy and gets into everything.”

    My two year old girl is a mover, a climber and not at all like her sister who asked to learn the alphabet at this age and was wanting time at the table learning. And that’s okay, but sometimes its very very busy around here…like keep an eye on her she might end up on this shelf or tipping over that etc any minute. My oldest NEVER did any of those things and I thought it was due to parenting! LOL

    Just do your best and try not to go too crazy 🙂

  7. Great update! The preggo pic is so cute!! I love that you included your schedule. I learn so much from reading other moms’ schedules–especially since I am just on the “gather info. and start praying!” end of homeschooling.

    Reading about Relevant–AH! I so would love to go! Maybe another year. I just can’t imagine leaving my girls right now–and my baby (who will turn one the week before) still doesn’t drink anything but directly from me. Maybe one day! It looks like a blast! Have fun!

    1. @Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker, I still love gleaning from other homeschooling mom’s schedules. Every year (and even seasons within each year) looks different and I am always on the lookout for new ideas of how to do things!

      Wish you could come to Relevant! I understand the season of having a baby attached at the hip. I happen to be in that lovely, free, in-between stage right now with my 2 year old and this one on the way, so it works well for me. But I have also gone to blog conferences where I had to pump milk for a solid month before I left, and then had to run off to pump in between sessions multiple times per day! That was really crazy. I’ve also brought a 5 month old with me to Blissdom, which actually went surprisingly well, although I know that it’s a bit harder once they hit the crawling/walking stage. Hopefully next year! 🙂

  8. You are an inspiring mother. It seems like the more I learn and grow as a mother of just one (expecting #2 in november!) I realize how big a job being a mother is. There is just so much to consider but I am impressed with how you prioritize.
    I’ve never gardened, and I don’t totally understand the art of preservation, but storing up all that food for winter sounds like a really cool thing to do. Does some of it go in a freezer and the rest in a pantry or storage area?
    I’ve only been doing whole foods for about a year to year and a half so I still feel like I’m on the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this stuff.
    Anyway, what a happy, full life you are living right now! I can relate (in my own way)!

    1. @Megan, Thanks for the sweet comment. I have a looong ways to go as a mother, but what I do is by the grace of God alone. 🙂

      Much of the fruit (especially the berries) go in the freezer, and then I try to do the rest of it canned or dehydrated so that it can go in the pantry or on the shelves up above my cupboards. I still don’t preserve nearly enough to last us all winter, but I do love doing as much as I do, and one day hope to do more!

  9. Hello Stephanie,
    I appreciate your emails. I am 19wks pregnant, your ahead of me. My husband and me are thinking of having a water birth at home in a birthing pool, the heated water is suppose to soothe pain some. I found an awesome prenatal vitamin made by Garden of Life. I also signed up on
    and on the right side you can put in your email, and they will email you week by week with your baby’s progress, it’s really exciting.

  10. Thank you SO much for posting your homeschool schedule! I have one in 2nd grade and one in Kindergarten this year. This is my first year to have 2 in school. We started the first week of August, but recently have been having a hard time with scheduling it all! I think I am going to make a few changes!

    By the way, I’m so jealous of your Fall…I live in the Land of Endless Summer, Sunny Florida! We moved here a year ago. Oh, how I miss the Fall!

  11. Your school materials/schedule sounds a lot like ours! 🙂 I posted about it today on my blog, actually. How are you like the Story of the World Activity Book? I didn’t bother to buy that one; just the study book. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Wish I was going to Relevant with you again!

  12. Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you for sharing a little about your life. I have been following your blog for several years now. It is rather inspiring how much you manage to do, even in your current condition 🙂 Congratulations by the way!

    Can I ask a genuine question. Why do you homeschool? Here in the UK I don’t know anyone who homeschools, yet in the US/ Canada it almost seems the ‘normal’ thing to do in some circles, particularly Christian ones.



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