A Gentle Feast: Cycle 3 Term 1

With all the madness going on in the world  seems to be getting crazier by the day  the curiosity about homeschooling is growing. I often get asked: 

Do I write my own curriculum? — quick answer: no
What curriculum do we use? — more on that below 

(I don't often get asked "why" anymore; must be because the reasons to homeschool are only increasing and are becoming quite obvious.)

While I feel like we are still so new to this homeschool life and my kids are quite young, I thought it would be most helpful to write a summary of what our homeschool looks like. There are so many options available now and every homeschool looks a little different. This is just a quick look at what works for us. 

Before we jump into curriculum, summer is worth mentioning! It was a blast, loads of fun were jammed into just a few months and I'm looking forward to getting back into the school routine. Mom is tired! 

Some highlights were going to the County Fair (we missed that so much last year!), getting a puppy (Ruby the Border Collie), playing t-ball and baseball, swimming, visiting family, camping and seeing the Blue Angels at an air show! And likely more summer fun that I can't remember right now. :) 


We started school this week and the timing has been perfect. Ideally school should only take us 2.5 hours or so; but throw in almost one-year-old S and the days are more unpredictable. 

I will say, the older that my boys are getting, the more I love homeschooling them. Our youngest is my wild card and I do my best to keep him busy eating, playing while trapped with us in the gated living room or sleeping. Three-year-old C is able to listen to many of our subjects and plays quietly for the most part. Eventually he does get restless and tries to distract his older brothers. 

Here's a look at our plans for the new school year:

This is our third year of using A Gentle Feast and, with each year that we use this curriculum created by Julie Ross, I grow to appreciate it more and more. This is our last year of all the kids being in "Form I", which is grades 1-3. We are in Cycle 3 this year: Reforms, Revolutions, and Reconstruction.


For each year, I have bought the Morning Time guide along with the main curriculum book. The Morning Time Bundle is worth every penny! Each Term's memory verse, composer/artist study, poetry, hymn and more are included and for each Form student  from 1st grade to 12th. 

Saving the hassle of pulling things up on the laptop or gathering picture studies here or poems there is worth it. 100%. We are working through the Spanish plan included in the AGF resources as well and happened to find the "Let's Speak Spanish" book free somewhere. 

I do pull up episodes of "Classics for Kids" for our composer study on Chopin this term. They have awesome free material there to supplement each composer. 

Sidenote: For the Hymn each month, we do follow along with Happy Hymnody's schedule instead. They have a video and printable lyrics each month on their website. 
I receive a booklist with the AGF curriculum and then look up the books in our library's online catalog (over the summer). For any books that aren't available there, or special ones that I want to keep on hand, I used mostly abebooks.com this year along with Rainbow Resources for geography items. Two friends also run excellent bookstores on Instagram that are perfect for hunting down quality living books: Eaglecove Books and Vienna's Window Seat Finds

With our boys in 3rd grade (E),  K/1st (W), and pre-K (C), we cover the majority of the subjects together but my expectations are different for each (of course!). For map work in Geography, for example, E labels his own map, while I will label W's for him. Then C just colors the map and we don't even worry about labels! 

E and W narrate after readings and sometimes read the books aloud to us. E has his own independent reading to do along with copywork. Both E and W are fluent readers and spend time reading to their younger brothers for their pre-school and pre-pre-pre-school :) The more practice reading, the better.

Subjects we share are: Bible, the "Beauty" Loop, Spanish, Natural History, Geography, History, Nature and Sol-Fa (ear training and voice exercises). 

Some of the Geography, History & Natural History resources for Weeks 1-6

Individual Totes. These have made my life SO much easier this week! Each boy has his own independent study tote with Language Arts, Math and any extra resources or tools they need. Even the baby has his own tote for toys to keep him busy! 

This has kept things neat and school books are no longer strewn across our house, kitchen table, couch, etc. I carry the day's subjects in my school bag, along with a planner, the Bible and Morning Time guide. This will make taking school to different rooms, on the road or outside much easier. 
Starting with the youngest guys, baby S's tote is filled with toys, Tupperware or measuring cups, like I mentioned above. C is my 3-year-old preschooler and honestly I just need to keep him busy. He has new crayons for the school year and I bought him a book on sale for $4 from Rainbow Resources. Good enough - that's his school for the year. 

He listens along to the Bible and other subject read alouds and recites poetry & Scripture memory work with the older brothers. These young ones are capable of so much more than we realize! Forget Baby Shark (can't stand that song. I prefer "Busy Bee" from Nursery Tracks, which is equally as annoying :), young ones enjoy quality music and books as well. 
W is 6 and in K/1st grade... determining grades is confusing in homeschool! Basically, he reads and does math at the 1st grade level but, if I were sending him to public school, I would have him in Kindergarten for more time to develop and grow. Summer birthdays are hard!

He narrates our readings and then uses a mixture of last year's Phonics Museum book and 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight & Sound from AGF. For math, he is loving Singapore Math's Dimensions Math! Seriously. I have to make him stop each day! He. Loves. Number Bonds. 
E is 8 and in 3rd grade. He is working through the Lower Elementary Language Arts plan and desperately wants to learn cursive. I will grab him the cursive book for the next year, since this one is already here and in print. Whoops :) "Riding the Pony Express" is his independent reader and I have him write a sentence about each chapter in his narration notebook. For math, he's finishing up in his Dimensions Math 2A book (not corresponding to grade levels) from last year and enjoys learning multiplication and division. 

As far as testing, which is required in Minnesota, I plan to test E at the end of Term 1 this year instead of waiting til the end of the school year. Testing went well last year and personally it is helpful as a teacher to have your students assessed! We went with the CAT paper test last year and plan to keep on that path. 
Another HUGE help this year: I'm using a Plum Paper planner for school/and the rest of life and it is AWESOME. A homeschooling mom and co-op friend recommended this planner and I couldn't be more pleased with it! Comment below or email me for a referral link and 10% off discount :) 
That's all for now! Have a blessed start to the new school year and to God be the glory!

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.

Race Report: Summer Rocks Half Marathon

 It's been so long since I've written a race report! I'm actually digging up an old one from my blog to somewhat copy the format. 2019 was the last year of my in-person races. For myself <baby boy #4 was/is well worth it!> and probably for most of the running community as well <thanks, Covid-19>. Needless to say, getting back into the race environment felt A-MAZING! 

This was the inaugural Summer Rocks Half Marathon and the race timing was perfect; especially with the Fargo Marathon being moved to the Fall for 2021. A friend and I had planned to run a half marathon post-baby "time trial" on our own but I had a wedding come up - so that didn't work out. Then along came this race.

Training was a bit all over the place, as is life with young kiddos. My average mileage was 27.5 miles per week - crazy low but for the half marathon, it was going to work. I knew I could at least finish the race and some solid longer workouts mixed in to that low mileage made me think that I could still shoot for a sub-1:30 goal. 

Just a note: Fitting in 20-25 miles per week felt like a major feat with all the kiddos. Most of my struggle was with morning workouts. Baby's unpredictable wake up times, plus night waking, made it tricky to sneak out for workouts before the other kids were up. Stroller workouts aren't an option with the four kiddos and the treadmill was a desperate move - baby just cried when I ran on that. All in all, this is getting easier now! Baby S is 9 months old now and much better at a decent wake-up time :) For a season, fitting in time to even go to the bathroom or shower is ridiculous. Though things get easier! Time. Enjoying where I'm at and just giving it time. That saying "babies don't keep" is so true. The older three are growing up so quick - I am going to miss my chubby baby snuggles!!!

Okay, back to the race thing. We had a local 5k a couple weeks before the race and I had done a solo time trial mile on our track in town. Increasing speed has been the focus this year so far and I plan to keep working at that! 

---

On race morning, I woke up at 3:00 am to pump a bottle for S (that he didn't even drink), eat breakfast and scoot out the door. The forecast looked hot for race day so I drank a Nuun along with my breakfast, in an attempt to pre-hydrate some. I have gone into races dehydrated while breastfeeding and I just can't recover - tried to avoid that this time. Then I drank coffee because mama needs coffee.

Baby S nursed at 3:50 and then I loaded up to leave. I picked up Amanda around 4:45 and to Fargo we went! 

We had a great time visiting on the way, talking about all things Jesus and this wife/mama life. I find it helpful to not dwell on the race too much. The race day "jitters" felt a little extra this morning! 

We made it to the race with plenty of time to pick up packets, hit the bathrooms (no lines! amazing), change shoes and stay out of the rain. Yes, it was raining, but they had plenty of indoor space for runners to stay dry and also building overhangs outside. The race felt small, which was just right in my opinion. Perfect size for a first race back. Amanda and I went for a short shake out run and then we headed to the line up.

This race did have pacers available, with the fastest one at 1:40. We lined up just in front of him with another gal and waited there. The rain wasn't terrible and temp wasn't as hot as I had expected! The humidity was definitely a thing but it could have been much worse. 

And we're off! 

There were a few sharp turns to make on slippery ground but no mishaps that I saw at least. We ran a lot of sidewalks and dodged the goose poop. The Canadian Geese seemed content watching and I appreciated that they didn't attack :) I chased Amanda for a while but soon lost her and the runners in the front spread out. 

Free race day pictures! 
I knew I wasn't trained well enough to keep up a 6:30/mile pace so I dropped back and sat around 6:45/mile. Technically that was also aggressive considering my training (or lack of), though I knew I should stay ambitious to make up for crashing in the end of the race. A solid positive split race goal. Not exactly the "right" way to do it though it got the job done.

There was plenty of time to think on the course, with not really any runners around - except for that guy that passed me half way through - and sparse crowds. Mentally I was getting a little restless and struggled to calm down my breathing (and my mind), so I thought about Psalm 23's verses 1-3: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. Amen and amen. I forgot to write Scripture on my hand, though that particular Psalm was on my heart at the time.

My #1 biggest issue in this race was not wanting to take in calories. Something about my fueling earlier that day or maybe just race day nerves made it hard to consume calories. I grabbed water at the aid stations and 100% should have taken gatorade instead. It's easy to see that in hindsight now! Every race is a learning experience, right? 

I took a gel at around mile 6 but couldn't stomach the whole thing. Not great, though I didn't feel the consequences of that yet. Then for the final aid station, I missed the gatorade with another runner already there and I didn't want to lose time by slowing down. I paid for those crucial fueling mistakes in mile 12 by just feeling terrible. Super duper hungry, tanked for energy and dizzy - so I "marathon shuffled" my way to the finish line because I REALLY didn't want to miss that sub-1:30 goal! 


1:28:38! I made it! 

I appreciated Amanda cheering me on through the last leg of the race - she finished 1st female with a blazing fast 1:25! After crossing the finish, I sat down on the astroturf to regain myself. The lack of calories left me feeling dizzy and nauseous. Post-race they did hand the finishers a water along with their medal and a free post-race beer was available. I figured a beer wasn't the best calories for me to take in at the moment; especially on an empty stomach. Thankfully Amanda saved the day with bars that she had packed for both of us! 


After changing into clean clothes, we had the BEST caramel roll at Lucky's 13 Pub followed by massive breakfast burritos. I wish I could say we devoured the food but our appetites hadn't completely returned yet. That made for great take-home food though :) And we grabbed coffee, too. Overall this "Mom's Morning Out" was a blast! 



Breaking 1:30 has been a big goal of mine and I'm so thankful to have finally done that! My legs didn't feel great or very well-tapered and, in a way, that is encouraging. This 13.1 felt more like a group workout done on tired legs. My hope is that I can keep working at the speed and gradually increasing base mileage to push in the half marathon even more this Fall. As much as I love the full marathon, racing shorter distances this year has been good for me. And hopefully that will translate to more marathon speed in the future!

(official time 1:28:38)




A Gentle Feast: Cycle 2 Term 2 + 3 Review

The school year ended along with the month of May and we made a mad dash straight into summer life! 

After a Memorial Day weekend camping trip, our older two boys did enjoy an entire week at Grandma & Grandpa's farm before baseball started. They loved that and I appreciated the time hanging out with our youngest two boys. 

I haven't taken the time yet to reflect on the last two terms of our school year - so now is that time! We followed along with A Gentle Feast's Cycle 2 (White Year): Wars, Whigs & Washington.

We loved the book selections and were introduced to so many new favorites. The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalghesh was one of my personal favorites - a great read for children and adults. 

A lesson I learned is that we need to have all books in-hand, if at all possible. America First and Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans are available free online and I went that direction at first because, well, they're free! But I soon found that attention spans and even keeping our place between lessons was difficult. I was able to find printed versions online (on Amazon, I believe) and wished I had done that from the very beginning. Now we really have learned so much from those stories and aren't as distracted by pulling them up on the computer. 

So note to self: Physical books in our hands are best.
Studying American history really has pumped the boys up and made them proud to be an American! Our preschooler's "copywork" proved to be quite patriotic:
Now for our extra readalouds... we have totally been doing our own thing. And that's okay! My husband and the boys have an affinity for adventure books and I'm just happy to have us all enjoy readalouds together. Over many winter evenings, we read Endurance by Alfred Lansing aloud. It is an amazing story and was enjoyed by ALL ages. Well, I'm not sure the baby cared. Everyone else loved it though! 


Dimensions Math was a great fit for us again this year. E finished up book 2A and will finish 2B either this summer or in his 3rd grade year. W finished the Earlybird Kindergarten books from Singapore Math also. 

E was also required to test in the state of Minnesota this year. We went with the CAT paper version and the testing process was painless :) With this being our first year, I wasn't sure what to expect! Thankfully, my mother-in-law was here to help with other kids during the testing. Testing has been helpful to make sure we are covering the materials we need to and he did great! 

(Disclaimer: This term review is just as scattered as my brain currently is! Thank you for bearing with me!)

Term 2/3 Challenges: 

  • Keeping a very active, busy 3-year-old on task and out of trouble
  • Nursing a baby while doing all things
  • Meal planning. #Goals.
  • Writing up Term reviews in a timely manner - I will be better at this next school year! 

Term 2/3 Victories: 

  • Having two readers that can read to younger siblings
  • Buying the Tuttle Twins book series. We love it! They are so fun to read and helpful! 
  • Activities and the library opening up again after Covid-19
  • Our homeschool co-ops. We are in a monthly Charlotte Mason co-op and then a field-trip based co-op in our town. The kids and I greatly appreciate the fellowship of both of these groups!
  • Our household needed more action so we got a puppy. Talk about a homeschool nature study ;) See random puppy picture below.

In the midst of summer fun and crazy schedules, I did order part of our curriculum for A Gentle Feast's Cycle 3! Julie has done a wonderful job on this curriculum and I'm looking forward to our third year using it... which will also be our last year of all the kids being in Form I, grades 1-3 (!!!). It's pretty nice having everyone in the same form! 

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.

A Gentle Feast: Cycle 2 Term 1

Alright, 2020. Who hit the cray button?

My last curriculum review ended with some wishful thoughts, that maybe life would return to a somewhat "normal" in the next term. Little did I know, things would get a whole lot more cray!... If you haven't heard of Family Force 5, you need to watch their Cray Button video :)

Anywhoo - Our layout for A Gentle Feast Cycle 2, Term 1 looked a little like this:

I knew the kids would love the Cycle 2: Wars, Whigs, and Washington readaloud books - and I really enjoy them, too. As it turns out, reading about the American Revolution (especially now in Term 2) is very applicable to this current time in our country. Learning about heroes like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, along with lesser known heroes as well, has been really encouraging. 

We started Term 1 early, as our fourth baby was due mid-September. I had a hunch he or she would arrive a little early so we wanted to work ahead and be ready. As it turns out, on September 18th (at 39 weeks 1 day) we added ten little fingers and ten little toes - a brand new baby BOY - to our family. He's sweet, cuddly and loved like crazy by this family. The brothers are all over him... seriously. I carry him a lot.


Before baby came, we were able to capitalize on all the outdoor adventures, trips to the pool and to the park as much as possible. COVID still greatly changed life this term, with our library programs being shut down and many businesses affected. Even church has been different. We did still meet with our homeschool co-op and their fellowship is really encouraging and necessary; especially in unusual times like this in our country. I'm thankful that our co-op, my husband's job and our general school studies haven't been too affected by COVID.

While we enjoyed the warm late-Summer/Fall weather, the boys had a few Monarch Caterpillars that we caught and then watched emerge as butterflies a couple weeks later. That is a favorite for all of us! Nature study at it's finest! 


After baby boy arrived, we took a two-week break from school. The older kids went to my parents' farm for five days. Then we did some bonding as a new family of 6 and, soon after, my mother-in-law came to stay with us when baby was two weeks old. 

That was SO helpful. There is no maternity leave in the homeschool/sahm life and I was thankful to have all the help I could get! The boys went to corn mazes with both my mom and then later on with dad and my mother-in-law. I was worried about them "missing out" on all the fun of Fall when I was recovering after baby but they didn't miss a beat.

It also helped a bunch that my mother-in-law is a substitute teacher and she greatly helped to split up the teaching as we eased back into school - along with playing catch with the boys in the backyard almost every day! 

The kids LOVED the Term 1 readalouds; with the d'Aulaire books being the favorite. Our biggest struggle is books without pictures - go figure. For a few history readings, the material was a black/white PDF document. That was tricky with young kids and limited attention spans. I worked to spice it up by looking up color photos of the subjects and a short video or picture book, if available. We made it through and at least the second grader retained something. 

For the Burgess Bird Book, we listen to it on Libravox and then supplement with bird pictures, audio and video on AllAboutBirds.org. Watching the birds in action and hearing them made it fun for all ages. I don't require that the middle two boys sit through all the school subjects but they prefer to anyway.


For math, E continued to work through Dimensions Math 1B for second grade and W finished Earlybird Kindergarten A (both from Singapore Math) for his preschool. Singapore's math approach is proving to work really well for both of the boys so far. 

Now keeping our newly three-year-old C busy is another story... he's extra busy and not as good at quietly tinkering as the older two were at this age. He's loud, fearless and ambitious, which I love. Using those qualities for good and not destruction is something we're working on :) Counting cheerios or sorting toys works for a while; not long though. I'm just accepting that this is a busy, messy season and that's just the way it should be. 

E is working through the Language Arts book for Cycle 2 and enjoys reading to his brothers and also on his own for fun. The variety in the lessons and how they tie into our readings for that week is perfect. W is working in his Phonics Museum workbook and taught himself to read. Those younger kids really do listen in on everything! He works through BOB Books now to practice this new skill.


Term 1 Challenges: 

  • Recovering after baby and all the postpartum crazy; birth went great but there isn't much time to rest these days and, well, I'm older this time around
  • Teaching multiple kids who ask multiple questions at the same time. Lots of questions & needs but only one mom. We are practicing taking turns with questions and waiting patiently!
  • Juggling life. New baby, pumping, school, projects (throw in some freelance work, why not!), maintaining a home. I can't wait for warm weather to return - like 4 months from now.

Term 1 Victories: 

  • W learning to read! C being potty trained = only one in diapers!
  • The helpfulness of older kids and of having more readers in the house
  • Hitting baby's 3 month milestone and generally just feeling more like a human, less like a zombie :)         
We finished up Term 1 just in time for Thanksgiving and the kids spent the holidays working on some serious life skills - snowcatting and fourwheeling!


Currently we'll be jumping back into Term 2 in the New Year; and I'm praying that 2021 will be better than 2020. We have had so many blessings in 2020 that I want to make sure not to overlook. < Hello, sweet baby boy, a new nephew and a new sister-in-law!!!> Yet I pray that we can hang on to the freedoms that we have been blessed with in this country for so long. If there's one thing we have learned from our latest history reads this cycle: freedom isn't free.

In the words of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

Explore the A Gentle Feast curriculum here and feel free to email me or comment here with any questions! Disclaimer: This post contains my A Gentle Feast affiliate link. If you click it, and make a purchase I will receive a commission.

Baby S' Birth Story

 Our dear fourth child, who I did mention a couple times in sporadic blog posts, is now FIVE weeks old! And it's about time he has his birth story written up. Yes, HE. We had our fourth boy on September 18th and the whole family is in love! Let's hop back to just before Baby S arrived...

With our first boy arriving very early at 35 weeks, boy #2 coming at 38 weeks and boy #3 at 40 weeks on his due date, my husband suggested that this one was going overdue. I just told him to not dare say that again! I had a gut feeling that this one was going to sneak up on us and would likely be fast (like the last guy!).

I had Braxton Hicks contractions on and off starting at around 18 weeks, so my goal was just to carry this little one to full term! I did run up to 35 weeks in this pregnancy and strength trained following a prenatal plan from G Personal Training through the week before baby was born.

Basically I stopped running at 35 weeks to spare my pelvic floor some stress as baby was getting bigger. Though I was always set on running through my previous pregnancies, I'm glad I did stop running when I did this time. The prenatal strength work went really well up until the last week before baby. Like our boy #3, in that last week baby's head dropped so low that it didn't feel good to do much of anything! Just hobble around and try not to irritate my pelvis. 

Last run with baby #4

During that 38th week, baby was sitting uncomfortably low and that irritated that pubic symphisis area. Thankfully it was in the last week of pregnancy with our third baby and it ended up being the last week of pregnancy with this guy, too! With Braxton Hicks contractions on and off since halfway through this pregnancy, it's hard to know when early labor really started but I knew things were moving along on the Wednesday before baby was born. I took the three boys out for a walk and had a few stronger contractions on the way home. Yep, no more walks too far from our house after that! The last thing I wanted to do was have a baby in front of a neighbor's house ;) 

The local homeschool co-op was set to have a corn maze field trip on Thursday and I wasn't able to get there for that. Again, the random strong contractions would come and I really didn't want to be 45 minutes from home! Our midwife came for our 39 week appointment that day and baby checked out great. She doesn't check my dilation or do an internal exam during these appointments, which I appreciate, because it really doesn't tell you much with a fourth pregnancy anyways. When baby decides to come, they will! And they will likely come fast. 

The boys love to listen to baby's heartbeat <3

Our midwife did mention that baby was sunny side up or "occiput posterior position (OP)", which isn't a huge issue but does increase the likelyhood of back labor. While toddler took his nap that afternoon, I tried to sit on all fours for a while to give baby a chance to move to a better position. I also had a dear friend and my brothers' & their wives praying for baby to move. 

As the stronger contractions started in increase, I was excited to finally meet our boy or girl though not very excited about going through labor and delivery again. I feel like I was more anxious this time and the memories of previous labors seemed so clear - honestly I felt a little dread thinking about transition and the really hard stuff. 

But as my husband says, "well that baby has to come out eventually" (so matter of fact). Might as well get it done! My prayerful friend gave me this Bible verse and I focused on that throughout the labor:

  You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. Isaiah 26:3

Yes, this is labor. Maybe for the last time?

So I had my family and friends praying for us. I let our midwife know contractions were becoming more regular. Fed the kids supper. Made a crockpot meal and two batches of muffins. Anything to keep moving and productive while in this early labor phase. Movement seems to speed up the process for me.

Contractions were bearable but strong enough that I stopped to breath through them, so I called my husband and had him come home from chisel plowing. We sat down to watch "Aladdin" for a family movie and then labor just,

Stopped. 

Nothing! I was so frustrated. Here I had him come home from the field and some people knew that labor had started, and then now it was all a false alarm? I was bummed and a little embarrassed for jumping the gun. 

So we put the kids to bed around 8:30 or 9, talked for a bit and then decided to watch an episode of "Yellowstone" before bed. And just as Kevin Costner came on the scene...

POP! 

At 10:00 p.m., my water spontaneously broke. That was so weird - my water has only broke during pushing in the past - and this time I hadn't even been having contractions any more. It felt SO loud that I looked at Leo and said, "did you hear that?!" He replied, "Hear what?" Huh. I guess it was just me. 

"Go get the *tub ready." (*this is an inflatable birthing tub with a throw away liner, not our bathtub)

"I'm calling Rebekah!"

"Are you serious?" He said. 

"YES, I'm serious!"

Interesting dialogue, right? Our midwife was grabbing her things and driving to us quickly, though it was a 1 hour 30 minute trip ahead of her. 

I laid there in our bed and didn't budge for 1 hour 30 minutes in an attempt to not let anymore water leak out, which would make labor move too fast. I'm all for a fast labor but we really wanted our midwife there this time (if you haven't heard the story of our third boy, you can catch up on that here :).

Active labor contractions are hard. Especially hard when you don't want to move. Extra especially hard when you also have to pee! 

Our midwife drove like the wind and I was thankful she didn't have to deal with winter roads this time. I may or may not have called her a few times on her drive, you know, just to check how far away she was. So maybe a I was a little desperate at that point?

As soon as she was through the door, I walked down the stairs and had Leo help, just in case I fell or something. It must have been around 11 p.m. or so when I got downstairs and finally went to the bathroom. I didn't last there long before heading to the birthing tub. Leo had it all set (he's a pro by now!) and ready at the right temp, Rebekah was here and baby was good to come whenever he or she wanted! 

I ended up pushing for about 40 minutes and it just felt harder this time; like I wasn't pushing efficiently or something. It seemed like no matter how I tried, he was still sitting up high in my belly. I know I went into labor already exhausted from a day with three kids. That could be part of it. I felt frustrated and I don't know how mamas do it when they have to push for hours!

Eventually the pushes paid off and baby was almost there! Our midwife mentions that I can feel baby's head and I'm always hesitant to. Like maybe if I think too much about what is actually going on, I will pass out or something?

But I did it anyways. I touched baby's soft hair, thought for a second if that was our little girl or boy and that this may be the last time I experience this. 

After a few very uncomfortable but productive pushes, baby was out and here's a testament to the power of prayer: Baby had turned before being born and didn't arrive sunny-side up! Praise God and thank so many for their prayers!

1:02 a.m., 7 lbs. 6 oz. and 21 inches long

We took a peek and there you have it, our baby BOY! We had thought long and hard about girl names, while giving little thought to boy names. Good thing the only name we had thought up ahead of time was a winner! As far as social media and the blog is concerned, he will be baby "S" :)

Water births are amazing!

Our older boys (7, 5, and 3 in November) slept through everything! Only our oldest snuck down at 2 a.m. because we must have been talking a little loud. He was in a sleep daze but seemed excited to see baby. 

We were so thankful my parents came to pick up the older boys at 3 p.m. that day so we could have some time with just baby. That's the crazy thing about homebirth - there are no days in the hospital after baby to recover. Good help is essential because baby comes but life still goes on! Loud, energetic older siblings and all.

Leo and I had five days to enjoy having baby S all to ourselves. Really this is the longest time we have had alone together since before having kids! (I mean baby was there, but he's pretty chill) 

The quality time, just the three of us, was really sweet and very hard to come by.

The big brothers have been loving on their little brother since the moment they met him! So many kisses. Hugs. Darn near smothering but it's sweet and these boys are really the best blessing. 

Messy, chaotic, loud.
God is so good to us!

A Gentle Feast: Green Year Term 3 Review

Let's just say Term 3 got off to an interesting start. Two weeks in to our new study topics, I jotted down in our school planner that the "coronvirus cancelled the public school throughout the next week". What a weird thought - school cancelled for, not a snow day, but a "pandemic".

That seemed like a short-term ordeal and of course our homeschool studies continued as usual, but I had no idea what this would morph into, and would still linger, months later. 


We studied composer Claudio Monteverdi and artist Diego Velasquez. For composer study, we used our Usborne Composers book and listened to specific recommended pieces on YouTube. We used the A Gentle Feast Morning Time binder and having the full-color Velasquez prints for picture study all in one place was so handy! Even the two-year-old was able to participate in picture study. We kept it short and sweet. 


Nature study featured a rotation of the Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess and we listened to this using libravox through the entire term. While listening, we used an animal reference guide and the kids could draw or use the coloring pages that corresponded. 

I was able to find Little Flower Folks by Mara Louise Pratt-Chadwick on eBay and being able to read the physical book versus the computer/online version was totally worth it. The readings were interesting though some did get a little lengthy and over the heads of this "very-Form I" crew (1st grade, pre-k & toddler). If it seemed I was losing their attention, we just looked at specific pictures of the subjects covered and skimmed over certain sections. I think revisiting this book as my kids get older will be even more helpful.


Beside shutting down our local library and the public school, we were also unable to meet with our co-op (or go to church even!) due to COVID-19. Many people have mistaken "distance learning" for homeschooling but that's definitely not the case. While homeschooling usually offers a ton of freedom and an ability to customize each child's education and socialization (yes, homeschoolers do socialize), this COVID-infested term felt much more like "isolation-schooling". No friends. No field trips. No special activities. Bleh.

So let me say it again, COVID-19 "distance learning" is nothing like actually homeschooling.


Countless times I was told by distance-learning parents that they don't know how we can handle homeschool full time but I think that is a big misconception. When homeschooling in regular life, we use a beautiful curriculum, cover many subjects as a family (even bringing in the toddler, like I mentioned!), read living books, learn hands-on and the same teacher/same teaching-style covers all the subjects. I guess that last point was a bit obvious :) 

We did try a couple Zoom sessions with our co-op friends which went well, considering all of our families are an assortment of school-age kids and toddlers! Especially in the thick of the stay at home order, even seeing our co-op friends' faces was better than nothing. 


For first grade, E completed Singapore Math's Dimension Math 1A and continued to work through 1B in Term 3. I can't say enough about Singapore's Dimension Math. Math comes naturally to E but Dimensions Math challenged him and taught him numerous ways to visualize the solution along with learning the math facts. I'm glad he's a confident math student but I like to see him challenged as well.


He continued to work through A Gentle Feast's 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound: Level 2 for this term and we ended the school year on lesson 46. I debated on working on this more with him over the summer or starting off with it again in the Fall but because he is able to read chapter books on his own, I feel he is ready to move into the Language Arts curriculum for Cycle 2.

One thing is for sure, this boy loves to read! And his middle brother isn't far behind. The A Gentle Feast 100 Gentle Lessons Level 1 & 2 worked well for 1st grader because of the variety. The lesson type varied from day to day with focuses on sight, sound and then reading. He has been frustrated by repetitive lessons in past curriculums but there were no complaints with AGF's 100 Gentle Lessons


We continued to work through the assigned readalouds for History and Geography. We ended on Elin's Amerika and Praire School, which we're still working through this summer. We were supposed to be reading both of these books at the same time during the term but I've found it works best for us to focus on one read aloud chapter book and then move on to the next. First Elin's Amerika, next comes Praire School.


We dabbled in Spanish each week, did some drawing lessons here & there and continued on with the beauty subjects listed in the Morning Time binder. Overall the term went as well as it could, for being COVID-19'd and all. 

Here's to hoping that the return to school will be a little more "normal"! Whatever that is.


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The Bumpdate That Finally Was Written

We officially finished the school year today, celebrating with double chocolate muffins from the grocery store and a bike ride! Despite all the craziness of COVID-19, homeschool stayed on track for us and I'm very thankful for that.

It's nuts. The fairs are cancelled and we can't go many places (not even church yet?!). One of the best parts of the homeschool life is the freedom to go on field trips, visit friends, meet up with our co-op, go to the library... and we are missing that freedom so much. Though many are "homeschooling" during this time by necessity, not by choice, this "COVID homeschooling" isn't a good representation of what homeschool life is actually like.

None the less, we're making the best of what we can do. We did get our own camper - that's cool, right? I'm just praying we can make a few trips to our favorite state park this summer.


The school year itself went SUPER fast. I think much of that had to do with the busyness of schooling three kids at home, add a pregnancy on top of that and starting a brand new business endeavor and there you have it! I think that's why time flew!


It's a beautiful chaos; very loud, messy, with lots of moving parts.

So, about this bumpdate! I have been putting off writing much about this pregnancy mainly because I sit down to write and then overthink everything. Usually there are other things that need to be done and it sneaks ahead of writing down any details about Baby 4.0... 

but NOT TODAY!

I'll keep it short and sweet because Baby 4.0, I haven't written much about you, but we love you just as much as the other three tornadoes :)

B4's Pregnancy Wrap-Up: Week 23

Baby 4.0 is a GRAPEFRUIT this week, almost a foot long and weighing in at 1.10 lbs. In my pregnancy with our third boy, I had written that I didn't feel as big as I looked. Well, this time I'm feeling it. I feel good, just "out there". 17 weeks to go, maybe?


How I feel for the day depends a lot on Baby's positioning - which is pretty crazy, considering he or she isn't that big yet! I'm running around 12 miles per week broken into 3 runs of 4-miles each and then strength training 2 to 3 times per week. My average pace has been faster than the previous pregnancies and I have done more strength training!

ZYIA Active's Black Swirl Tank // Jade Bomber Bra // Dark Navy Seamless Shorts

I have been following Heidi at G Training's Prenatal Strength Program for the past three months now and I know that run-specific strength work is keeping my hips and back strong. That has to be the #1 complaint I have heard with moms in subsequent pregnancies - the hip and back troubles.


While I'm not feeling like I "need" to keep running through this whole pregnancy, I DO feel like strength work is an essential element. I ran through the past three pregnancies but I feel like, in the long run, strength is even more important (especially pelvic floor!). Pregnancy really is an endurance event. 

My goal in this pregnancy is to stay healthy for baby and for myself in order to recover postpartum as smoothly as possible. And to stay sane and hold on to some energy as I chase the other three kiddos, that would be nice! 

With possibly 17 weeks to wait before meeting Baby 4.0, I feel impatient but I'm also trying to make the most of all the things we CAN do right now with the kids being "older" - at 2.5, 5 and 7 years old. (I just pray the pool opens up so we can have one fun activity that isn't cancelled!) It's easier to just up and go as the kids get older. 

Yet I feel excited too; to meet our newest little one (boy or girl??!!), to take on new adventures as a family of 6 and to chase new running postpartum running goals! I have some ambitious goals for the future that I may write about one of these days.

Sometimes it's hard to look forward; to imagine what life is going to look like after all of this. The times we are living in are so uncertain and, honestly, confusing. But I find peace knowing that God is in control and He will bring good out of all of this. I don't know what's coming next but God does, and I trust Him.


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