Ansley turned eleven (ELEVEN!!) on September 15, but on the 14th we celebrated with a baking party. She came up with the guest list, and I went to planning. You probably know that I love to plan parties, but even more than that, I love what it conveys: you are valued and cherished, you are important to us, and you are so very loved.
When the girls arrived, they went on the porch to decorate chef's hats. They used coffee filters and cupcake liners to make flowers and used letter stickers to put their names on the band. They turned out so cute! I was wearing one so they had an example of what it might look like.
Then they came inside where each girl had her own personalized apron. Of course I had to take a picture of them in their cute aprons and hats! Adorable, right?
The silly shot. You always have to get the silly shot.
Then we got started. The first thing they did was make chocolate chip pumpkin bread. Each girl got a turn dumping in an ingredient (that was already measured and set out) and mixing. Once everything was added, one of the Mamas poured them in mini loaf pans and we popped them in the oven. Each girl got to take home her own loaf of chocolate pumpkin bread.
Then we pulled out the birthday cake, because I thought if I waited much longer the girls might be too stuffed. Ansley loves cookie dough, so I used my chocolate chip cookie recipe to make big cookies, and then made a cookie dough icing to go in between. Ansley loved it, and thought it was delicious. This photo is during the singing of happy birthday.
As I was thinking about how to orchestrate this party, I decided that it would be rather complicated and difficult to have the girls mix and make everything. So, I went with actually making the pumpkin bread, and then decorating everything else. That's where the fun is anyway, right? So first up were sugar cookies to decorate with colorful icing and fun sprinkles. Each girl had milk or strawberry lemonade. But I say milk goes best with cookies!
Then they decorated mini donuts, either with powdered sugar and sprinkles or glaze and sprinkles. Make your own parfaits came next, with crushed oreos, whipped cheesecake, raspberry and chocolate layers. Last, there was melted chocolate to dip pretzel rods in and cover with sprinkles. Each girl had a to-go box to pack up their goodies and take them home.
Then it was time to open presents. Ansley received some very sweet gifts from friends who know her well!
Paige gave Ansley a gift that was apparently an inside joke between them, and they were in hysterics. I snapped this shot because, even though I had no idea what they were laughing at, when people are laughing hysterically you can't help but laugh, too.
We went outside for good lighting, and the girls wanted to do a pyramid. Sure!
It was such a fun day, and Ansley definitely felt loved and celebrated! Happy 11th birthday, Ansley!
We started Classical Conversations this year. It's a once a week homeschool co-op that focuses on the classical style of education. I was leaning that way this past spring and started looking into it, and I'm just amazed at how many of my friends had been doing it for years and I didn't know it! Plus two of my good friends and their children will be at the same CC branch that we are, so that's a bonus! The kids already have friends, plus they can make new friends as well.
We meet on Mondays from 9 am to 3 pm. And yes, as homeschoolers it's rather difficult for us to get out the door and be anywhere by 9 am. Thankfully, Avery gets to spend the day with Mimi, and she loves that. The CC program/classes don't start until four years old, and they do have a nursery, but I felt much better about her spending time with Mimi, and then she can join us next year.
So this past Monday was our first day. There was excitement, and some nerves. There was also a lot of preparation! I don't know how you moms do it who have to pack lunches five days a week. Whew! I had to pack all our lunches, plus snacks (there's a mid-morning snack break) and water bottles, and of course notebooks and colored pencils, glue sticks and paper.
All smiles before we even start! Christian and Christian, Ansley and Kyla. The girls friend, Grace Elizabeth, hadn't arrived yet, so I didn't get a picture with her, but the boys are together all morning, and the girls are together all morning.
I was a bit nervous because I'd heard stories from some people who no longer do CC, so I was quite nervous! I really wanted my kids to like it and have fun, but also be a great learning experience. I love the exposure that my kids get to a classroom setting, having teachers, keeping up with their work, and having extra accountability.
CC requires that the Mamas stay on campus and rotate between the classrooms that your kids are in. So I started out in Ansley's class.
Seriously, could it get better than this? A classroom on the floor (shoes optional), in the library of the church where CC is held. It's such a cozy, fun atmosphere, and relaxed but still structured. Her class is seven girls and one boy, and she knows four of the girls already. I sat in the back with my friend Beth and watched them go through history, science, math, mapwork and Latin. They played games and had a blast! It was such a fun class - I really enjoyed it!
About halfway through Ansley's class, I went to Christian's class to see how things were going there.
It was so precious. I don't really get to see my son in a classroom environment, so it was really neat to sit in there and watch and help. His class has five boys and two girls, and he knows two of the boys. In his class, I got to see math, science, a science experiment, an art project and story time. Christian loves to learn!
Here is Christian's class doing their mapwork. This year they will be learning about US History, so they will learn all the states and capitals, and be able to draw the US from memory. They learned five states and capitals today. The cool thing about it is Ansley's class learns the same things, they just might go about it in a different way. So during the rest of the week, we can review and go over the work from the morning, and it's the same information.
I was so pleased with how the morning went, but I was excited to get the kids feedback. At noon, we break for lunch for an hour. I asked both the kids how they were liking it, and received "I love it!" from both of them. A successful morning!
The afternoon session is called Essentials, and it's just for 4th - 6th graders. Christian has two enrichment classes that he goes to, but I spend my time in Ansley's class so I can review during the rest of the week and help her with assignments.
Ansley is standing (with no shoes on, yes) and her class is playing Around the World with multiplication facts. She made it all the way back to her seat and won! I was very proud of her. In Essentials, you focus on Grammar, Math, and Writing. Ansley's teacher is really great, and makes it VERY fun and engaging! They reviewed grammar, played the math game, and then had some writing time. We were done about 15 minutes early, so we all went outside to play a math relay.
Ansley's running backwards to get to her multiplication fact. And yes, once again, she's barefooted. She doesn't like shoes, what can I say?
Then we packed up, picked up Christian from his class and headed to see John, since the church we meet at is about five minutes from his work. I knew the kids would be excited to tell him about their day. They talked about it all afternoon, and were disappointed to learn that we weren't going back the next day. They loved it, which I am so thankful for!
As of today (Tuesday), they were both very eager to review their memory work and start on their lessons and homework for the week. I pray that continues! Starting next week, they will both have to give a short presentation to their class, so we will work on that this week as well.
We can't wait until Monday!
Well, let me share a story. Actually, before we went this past Monday, Ansley was very bothered that she had to go to SCHOOL on her birthday (her 11th birthday is Monday, September 15)! It just wasn't right! It wasn't fair! But now that we've gone once, she's excited that she GETS to go to school and celebrate her birthday with friends. We are even bringing treats for everyone. I just really love that my kids love it so much. After one day, I know, so I just pray that it continues. I feel like it's going to be a fabulous year!
I posted a picture of these on Instagram (are you not on there yet? It's my favorite. Follow me at megangreiner) and I got a bunch of comments and emails requesting the recipe. So, I'm a little behind, but here is the recipe for......
These are from Ansley's cooking class that she attended this summer, and they are delicious! A perfect way to use bananas that are on the way out.
1 3/4 cup flour1 cup sugar 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 egg 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup plain yogurt 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup mashed bananas 1 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients (minus the bananas). Add the dry to the wet, stirring until just combined. Gently add the mashed banana and 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. Spoon into the muffin liners, filling to the top. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Place the extra chocolate chips on top of the muffins. Let cool and remove from pan.
They are becoming one of my family's favorites! Let me know if you try them. Enjoy!
Today we started back to school around here. We have had a good two and a half months off, and the kids were very excited to start back. It's nice to be able to start a little earlier since we take a vacation in September, and also to enjoy more days off when the weather is cooler.
I always get school supplies for the kids and set them up the night before. They get so excited about this! It's really cute. They each got crayons, colored pencils, markers, pencils, new notebooks, folders, and pencil holders.
This is the school table the night before, when everything is very neat and organized.
I set up our kitchen table all fun and back to school like for the morning. It's fun to me to make everyday moments special. I had donuts and milk for the kids to eat, and they each had a place setting with their name and grade, plus a special toy sitting on their plate. That's what they are all playing with in this photo. When Avery saw all this today she said "MAMA!! Is today my berfday?!" That girl makes me laugh!
Avery does some fun preschool activities, including letter and number recognition. She loves Do-A-Dots, so this was a fun activity for her. She kept herself very occupied with her activities and her new school supplies. She loved drawing in her notebook!
While she was busy, we started on our My Father's World US History curriculum. This is mostly for Christian, but Ansley will participate as well, and there are many fun activities for both of them. Today we did some map work, read some stories and discussed a Bible verse. This might be my favorite thing about this year because there are so many fun activities that I am looking forward to!
Ansley read her Science, which is Apologia Zoology. She can do this mostly on her own, so she was able to get this done while Christian and I continued on.
Christian is using Handwriting Without Tears to practice handwriting. He can do this mostly on his own, but I do watch so I can make corrections if I need to. We are using All About Reading and All About Spelling for him as well. I really love both of these, and we have attached some magnetic dry erase boards to the wall in the schoolroom for these subjects. There are lots of word tiles that you use to spell words and review, so it's very hands on, which is good for Christian. It's a great curriculum!
Moky really loves it too! He will be reading in no time. Or, he'll just continue to bat at the letter tiles.
Avery is still very happy, and she loves building letters from this wooden set. She got a big kick out of this!
We won't start math with Christian until next week.
Ansley has it easy for a little bit. We are doing a co-op starting in September, Classical Conversations, and that is our grammar, spelling, and writing curriculum. So Ansley is just doing history with Christian, reading her Science, practicing handwriting, reading books, and doing math. She has it pretty easy right now.
Mimi stopped by for lunch, and the kids enjoyed showing her all the work they had done. Here Christian is showing her his map work.
After lunch, I made a deep dish cookie pie that everyone enjoyed to celebrate the first day of school.
Then Ansley did her math. We use Math U See.
And then we called it a day!
It was a really great first day, with lots of smiles and laughter. I do love these days together, learning and having fun together.
And I'm pretty sure these guys think I put this blanket on the table just for them. They are ever present in our school day, and so curious about everything we are doing. But after a long day of school, they were worn out!
Here's hoping tomorrow will go just as well as today!
Summer definitely means ice cream with friends. Summer always means lots of friends.
Summer means hanging with friends and going on road trips. (This photo was in Virginia.)
Summer means running through the sprinklers and lots of time in bathing suits. (On a sidenote, summer also means endless pool towel laundry.)
Summer means spending lots of time outside.
Summer means trips to the park.
Summer means evenings on the lake with friends.
Summer means getting the mail. Okay, so we do get the mail in other seasons of couse, but not in summery flowy dresses with the baby back showing. So cute! She can barely reach, but she loves to get the mail for me.
And, of course, summer means baking with fresh fruit. I made this blueberry skillet the other night, and it was delicious.
It seems that Ansley has friends over pretty often, or has various activities or sleepovers with her friends. It isn't too often that Christian has friends over and Ansley doesn't. But this weekend we had a friend of Christian's, also named Christian, and they had such a great time of boy fun!
The boys built this car (with John's help, of course) and had a blast pulling each other, having Ansley pull them, and especially having John pull them because he was fast and crazy. They decided to enjoy an ice cream treat on it after dinner on Saturday evening.
It was really fun for Christian to have an opportunity to have some boy fun for a change!