Shep’s First Day of School

I stayed up late one night last week to pin down some memories from Sheppy’s first day of school, and thought I’d share them with you today.

That’s right, I said Sheppy.

My little buddy who was born yesterday.

The one who still feels eternally toddlerish.

He started school last week.

We did our little rite-of-passage “walk” that morning after breakfast, where the new Kindergartner gets to put a first backpack ‘round the shoulders, says goodbye to Mom, walks out the backdoor with the other school-aged siblings, and comes to the front door where the doorbell is ceremoniously rang, and the door is opened by the homeschool teacher…who, by the way, is still Mom.

When my firstborn took his walk back in 2012, I said goodbye to him with my hair in a messy bun and my body wrapped up in a big, terrycloth robe and, as he made his way from the back door to the front door, I dropped the robe, slipped on some heels, and took down my hair, answering the door wearing the brand-new schoolmarmish dress I’d had hidden under the robe.

“So…how DID you do that?” he whispered to me as his little brother got ready for school. “I’ve never been able to figure that out. You looked one way when I went out the backdoor, and completely different when I came to the front door.”

He’s 11. Still stumped.

Sheppy had a similar look of stunned wonder on his face over the whole ordeal…before he’d even taken his “walk”!…and because I know him, I knew he had absolutely no idea what was going on, even as we tried to explain it. And so I just hugged him goodbye, handed him an apple for “his teacher”, and instructed him to follow his siblings.

I don’t have as much time for introspective sentimentality as I used to, and so there were no tears, but as I waved goodbye to him, the question did flit through my brain…

How are we here so quickly?

It took fifteen years for his big brother to grow to the Kindergarten stage.

How did it take Shep fifteen seconds?

I’d better start ordering Baby Jack’s school supplies, I guess.

With the last backpack disappearing around the corner of the house, I shut the door behind my precious little line of people, took down my hair and scrambled around to find a cardigan to throw on over my shirt as I walked to the front door. So my tradition has been adapted a little bit. Not a high heel in sight.

“Ding dong!” said the doorbell.

“Hellooooo!!” I smiled, throwing wide the door. “Welcome to your new year of school, children!!!”

I adore the following photo. Just ignore the sleepy lady with her hair under her cardigan in the shadows and focus on those dearhearts on the porch!! A man asked me last week, when he found out I have five children, “What’s wrong with you??”

“I’m just such a fan!” I told him.

I mean, he obviously hasn’t seen this crew. Then he wouldn’t think of asking such silly questions.

The expression on Shep’s face was exactly how it had been the last time I had seen him, wonder-filled and clueless, but he continued to follow the instructions of his siblings, coming inside and handing his apple to his new “teacher”.

“I like pretending!” he confided in me as I reached down to accept his gift.

“I do, too,” I confided back, feeling like the luckiest woman on the planet.

And just like that, the tradition was fulfilled, and we plunged straight into our first day of homeschooling four children. We’ve decided, with my so-not-Type-A personality and a proclivity for losing track of schedules, that Mr. Gore should take a more prominent role in our home academy, overseeing everyone’s daily schedule from a handy app on his phone and, more specifically, taking on the schooling of the big two while I school the little two and, of course, keep the baby from eating toilet paper and Legos.

I still teach the big kids history and grammar and whatnot, I still read aloud to them, I still run Poetry Teatime, and I still choose and order our curriculum, but he is their “homeroom teacher”, if you will.

And that leaves me free to pour as much attention on my 2nd grader and Kindergartner as I did on their big siblings, and I am SO GRATEFUL. The younger grades, I have found, delight me endlessly, and I think I could spend my whole life teaching different youngsters…one or two at a time, of course…to read and to count and to love Mother Goose as much as she deserves to be loved.

Anyhow, back to our first day of school. Baby Jack played along nicely, volunteering for his nap at 10:00 sharp, and as the big three holed up in the schoolroom with their papa for a science lesson, I sat down with my new Kindergartner for our first lesson together at our long dining table.

True to his precious nature, he called me “Teacher” with every sentence he spoke.

“Teacher, what book are we going to do next?”

“Can I open my new scissors, Teacher?”

“I like this room, Teacher!”

And as he cut out some snakes that he had immediately and spontaneously started coloring on a piece of white paper when he sat down…which shows you how much I’ve grown as a homeschooler! His big brother had to follow the curriculum and only the curriculum, haha!…he told me all about his morning thus far.

“I didn’t have to go very far to get to school today, Teacher,” he said. “I just went out my door, and went past the dogs, and then I was in this house right by my house, Teacher. I like your school, Teacher.”

Oh, my word. I LIKE MY SCHOOL, TOO, SHEPHERD!!! Especially with you in it! Delights every other second up in here, but then, that’s how life has been with this fourth-born. He’s like a children’s book come to life and, I feel like you know this by now, I really, really love children’s books!

The two of us sailed happily through all of our activities for the capital letter “A”, and then I had to swallow down a hundred giggles when our new Teacher’s Helper from the All About Reading program, a hand puppet named Ziggy the Zebra, came out to help Sheppy learn about rhyming.

A bit of backstory, when Shep was a very little guy, we discovered that he was really enamored with shadow puppets, and so every night when he was in his little bed next to ours, a shadow puppet shaped like a duck would appear on the wall beside him.

He named him “Guck Guck”, and the two of them had long conversations every night.

And over Shep’s shoulder, his papa and I would be melting into the floor because he had no idea that the puppet was really his papa’s hand. It was too sweet to be real, but…IT WAS SO REAL. Shep never looked our way, and only had eyes for Guck Guck as he told him all about his day. And this little bedtime preciousness went on for a couple of years. 

Cut to the first day of Kindergarten when Shep was staring straight into Ziggy’s face, talking to him about school.

Now, according to our curriculum instructions, Ziggy is a forgetful fellow who has trouble keeping his words straight, giving the student plenty of opportunities to correct him.

But where we ran into a problem right off the bat is that Shepherd ALSO has trouble keeping his words straight!

And as I followed Ziggy’s script in the teacher’s manual, pointing out different body parts on Shepherd to introduce the concept of rhyming, the following conversation unfolded:

“This is your holder,” Ziggy said, pointing at Shep’s shoulder.

“No, Ziggy!!!” he laughed. “That’s my SHIRT!”

“Uhhhh…” said Ziggy, immediately stumped. “No, the thing under your shirt, right here!”

Shep blinked at Ziggy.

“Shep!” I whispered, getting him to look at me. “I think he means your ‘shoulder’…”

“Oh!!” Shep said. “That’s my SHOULDER!”

“Then this is your land,” said Ziggy, pointing to Shep’s hand.

“Ziggy!!!” he belly laughed. “That’s my HAND!”

“Oh, your hand!” said Ziggy, moving on to point at Shep’s finger. “Then this is your linger?”

“That’s my finger, Ziggy!!!” he cracked up.

“But this is your south?” said Ziggy, pointing at Shep’s mouth.

“Ziggy!!! That’s my FACE!!”

“Your mouth…” I whispered. “Mouth rhymes with south, get it?”

Shep nodded, still staring a Ziggy like he was the best thing since Guck Guck.

“Well this is your farm?…” said Ziggy, pointing at his arm.

“No…” he laughed. “That’s my…uhhhh…I forget what that’s called!…”

“Your arm!” I whispered.

He also forgot the name of his toe. And the name of his chin. And when he and Ziggy started talking about Shep’s fidget spinner that he got at the dentist, things really went crazy. Ziggy called it a “finish spitter” and Shep laughed at him and said “ZIGGY!! It’s a SPINACH FINNER!!!”

Now tell me, how is a Kindergarten teacher supposed to keep a straight face as she navigates back and forth between two amnesiacs, one of whom is furry zebra puppet attached to her farm…I mean, her arm?

And that was just one little snippet of sweet hilarity from a day at homeschool that I pray I never forget.

“I loved pretend school…” Sheppy sighed when we were finished. “I wish I could do it forever.”

“That wasn’t pretend school, Shep,” I told him. “You are really in school now! And you do get to do it every day, for a long time!…”

“No,” he laughed, as if he were talking to Ziggy again. “It was pretend!”

“No, it really wasn’t,” I insisted. “It was really real.”

“No…” he laughed, absolutely positive that I was pulling his leg.

“It IS real!” I said, laughing in return and stopping down to cradle his face in my hands. “You just went to SCHOOL, Shep! You are really learning your letters and how to read! Like a big boy!”

“But I didn’t go anywhere,” he said.

“Because you are in homeschool, Buddy,” I explained. “Remember?…”

“OHHHH!!!!” he said. “Homeschool! I FORGOT!!! Because it starts with ‘home’!!!…”

Yes. It starts with home.

And home is exactly where I could stay, with this Kindergartner, at this table, for the rest of my life.

Ziggy is welcome to join us.

Mrs. Gore Likes: Usborne Sticker Books

Summertime is in full swing, and I have some indoor fun to pass along for any mamas and daughters who want to stay in the A/C and enjoy quality time together.

If you’ve stepped foot in my house – and more specifically, our schoolroom – you’ll quickly recognize that I’m a super-duper devoted Usborne book fan.

Sometimes you jump on a bandwagon and live to regret it – for instance, Disney’s Movie Club, wherein I ordered every DVD that was ever made and now they’re all scratched up and we have to re-purchase the digital versions, thanks, kids! – but I have yet to receive an Usborne book that I regret.

In fact, I get kind of slappy silly about their books.

Especially their sticker books.

Especially…squeals and giggles!!!…their DOLLHOUSE sticker books.

For reals. Just ask my family and friends. I am a major geek about Usborne’s dollhouse sticker books!!!

So, wait. I have to backtrack for a minute.

I HAVE regretted one Usborne purchase.

I’m talking about the day, three years ago, that I bought Rebekah Usborne’s classic dollhouse sticker book — the CUTEST sticker book I have EVER SEEN!!! – and had to sit and watch her decorate it and put stickers in random places and keep my mouth shut about the whole thing while nodding and smiling encouragingly. I was literally sitting on my hands lest I snatch the book away from her and make it my own.

It was an intense day on the mommying front. I was flat-out JUDGING a preschooler’s sticker placement.

And I determined then and there that, next time I got a birthday card with money in it, I was going to buy my own dollhouse sticker book to play with all by myself.

(You think I’m kidding.)

Well…two long years went by, and I matured a little, and I became a little more magnanimous and…I made a decision.

I would still get me a dollhouse sticker book, alright, but…I’d also get one for both girls. I guess.

And instead of locking myself in my room, we’d all sit down and decorate our houses together.

And that’s exactly what we did!

Here’s the book. If you click on the picture, it will take you to an Usborne party link where you can get your own (but don’t do that yet because I’m not finished gushing yet. These things take time!):

Picture of Dollhouse Sticker Book (Revised)

Here we are WITH our books!

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Can you tell I’m excited?

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We’ve been working on our houses, here and there, for a couple of months now, one room at a time.

I realize that my daughters are sitting on a hard floor while I’m sitting on not one, but TWO, floor pillows, but I didn’t know that until I looked at these pictures, okay?

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We get somewhere comfy where we can spread out (like on two floor pillows! Or on my bed or at the kitchen table!), we pull out the page of stickers we’ll need for our dollhouse room, we work and fuss and feather our sticker nests, and then we lay them all out side-by-side and compare.

Then, in TRUE girly fashion, we go around the circle and say what we like best about each person’s house. It’s like my sleepover dreams from yesteryear have come true.

It’s about as femininely fun as it gets, and what I have been so pleased about — and what I didn’t plan, really — is that the fun has lasted for a long time. When I normally give my kids an Usborne sticker book (we’ve been through so many and love them all!!) to do on their own, they might complete it in a couple of days or a week, but doing this as a team has meant that we have savored the book as time allows. It has turned into an experience, and I think it is one we’ll all remember.

Here are a few pictures of the actual pages so you can get an idea of what the book is like. First is the “Hallway”. The blank hallway is on the left and the page of coordinating stickers is to the right.


Here’s a finished hallway:


Here’s a living room before we decorated it:


and the finished product:


The kitchen (my favorite…)


and the kitchen with stickers (swoon!!):


There are many more pages to decorate: a master bedroom, a boy’s room, a girl’s room, a baby’s room, an office, an attic, a garden. We still, in fact, have a couple of rooms to go! And they’re all precious.

The best news?

While the above is personally my favorite dollhouse sticker book of Usborne’s – it’s whimsical and children’s-book-ish and spans the ages that we have in our home right now – there are others available.

So next year we can do the Victorian Dollhouse together! (Again, click on the pictures to be taken to the book at Usborne!)

Picture of Victorian Dollhouse Sticker Book

And the next year we can do the Country Estate together!

Picture of Dollhouse Sticker Book Country House

And the next year we can do the Royal Dollhouse!!!

Picture of Royal Dollhouse Sticker Book IR

And the next year we can do the Grand Hotel!!!!

Picture of Grand Hotel Sticker Book

And by then I bet there will be MORE to choose from!!!!!!!! YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, calming down now.

My friend, Chrissy – who is my pal, my next-door neighbor and my personal Usborne consultant – has opened up a party link for me where you can scoop up your own dollhouse sticker books. All of the links in the post will take you there, or you can click here to be taken to the main page. If you’re interested in anything Usborne, it would make my day if you’d shop through our links, not only because it will personally help me stock up on more Usborne goodies for…um, homeschool (NOT for more sticker books, nervous laughter)…but because it will help Chrissy with her growing business. She is a pastor’s wife and mommy of 3 children UNDER THE AGE OF THREE. And she’s awesome. If you don’t already have an Usborne representative in your life, I invite you to allow Chrissy to help you with all your Usborne needs.

I never want anyone to spend money they don’t have or tempt you with things you don’t need or want, but if you have extra budget money and would like something fun to do with your kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews, these sticker books are obviously something I’m really excited to introduce you to.

Now. If you’d like some more Usborne recommendations, keep reading. If not, I’ll see you soon! (Or you can find us daily over at Facebook!)


Here’s another sticker book at the TOP of my list! Rebekah (age 7) and I have GREATLY enjoyed this “Fashion Long Ago” book and have stretched it out since Christmas. She just finished the last page, which was a “design your own fashions” section that she really loved.  This book, in particular, was very educational and resulted in some unscripted homeschooling. We read about the different fashions featured on each page, we would go and find fabrics like that in our house so she could feel them, we’d discuss books and movies where the characters might have worn such clothes…

it has been incredibly informative, it is SO detailed, and it has been right up both of our alleys. Find it by clicking on the picture below:

Picture of Sticker Dolly Dressing Fashion Long Ago

By the way, Rebekah has loved all of the “Sticker Dolly Dressing” books from Usborne. She’s done Christmas, and Ballerinas, and Weddings, and Travel and maybe more that I’m not remembering. They’re all fun!

If you’re looking for sticker books for your BOYS, Gideon (age 9) has devoured nearly all of the Usborne sticker book library. I asked his opinion and, at the top of his list is the Second World War (clicking on the picture will take you to the link):

Picture of Sticker Dressing Second World War

then the First World War:

Picture of Sticker Dressing First World War IR

then Pirates:

Picture of Pirates Sticker Book (Revised)

But there are SO MANY to choose from, and he has loved them all!

Betsie, who just turned 5, has so enjoyed the Teddy Bear sticker book series. The stickers are bigger and easier to handle, and once I introduced her to each bear, she was able to find the right stickers on her own. It made her feel like a big girl without the frustration that might have come from the more advanced sticker dolly dressing books.

Picture of Dress the Teddy Bears Going Shopping

Shhh, don’t tell, but I’m ordering this one for her for her first day of school in the fall. She’s going to freak out!:

Picture of Dress the Teddy Bears For School Sticker Book

Here is another line of sticker books for younger kids, called “First Sticker Books”. I got some of these for my little nieces and nephews for Christmas and they were a hit. And what do you know? They have a new DOLLHOUSE version! Life is good. There are a ton of these First Sticker Books, by the way, something for every kid.

Picture of First Sticker Book Dollhouse

Lastly, while I’m talking Usborne, I have to tell you about Sheppy’s new favorite book, a book I WISH I would have had for all of my toddlers. This isn’t a sticker book, per se, but it DOES have reusable band-aid stick-ons, and it is seriously an incredible book that consistently keeps him occupied in church. I think it should win the Dr. Toy award. The band-aids are magical and sturdy and they just keep on sticking. It amazes me.

Picture of All Better!

He is also loving this book. That is, when his siblings haven’t stolen it from him. They like to make compound words out of the word lists and Betsie likes to write people letters using the words from this book. It’s precious and it is also sturdy for rough little readers. We’re ordering the Farm version soon! And then the Food book!

Picture of My First Word Book

Okay, I am forcing myself to stop now because I really could go on for DAYS. I love Usborne so much. I’ll be back soon to share some Usborne books that we use in our homeschool, but until then, I hope you find some STICKER FUN to get you through summer!! Happy shopping!


If you have any questions, I’d be happy to field them in the comments section or over at Facebook. We’ve enjoyed many other books, and will be glad to answer your questions or help you find the perfect book for the child in your life! Chrissy can even make you a wishlist for the children you’re shopping for. Just shout out their ages and interests!

Special Announcement!

Good afternoon, friends!

I just wanted to take a moment to make a special announcement: freshly launched today, in the wake of the most miserable case of strep throat EVER, is my new sister site, Mrs. Gore’s Home Academy. Lacking energy to do much of anything else all week gave me plenty of time to sit down and put together this secondary blog that will hopefully be a place of encouragement for any current or potential homeschoolers. And most importantly, for those of you who don’t homeschool or don’t have children underfoot, you won’t have to receive a gazillion blog updates concerning every homeschool event and party and project that we do in our little school at home.

That said, if you are already a subscriber here, but want to receive homeschool updates, as well, you’ll need to sign up at the new blog. Or you can always visit the new site by clicking on the “Home Education” tab at the top of this page. Either way, I would love to have you join us as we embark on this new and exciting adventure in home education!

Have a blessed day,

Mrs. Gore

p.s. please share this news with your homeschooling friends! The more the merrier…

Mrs. Gore’s Peace Treaty on Education

photo property of Amy Jackson

This is Mrs. Gore, coming to you today not as the preacher’s wife, or as Mother Hen, or as an opinionated (and unpaid) editorial writer.

For on September 6th, 2012, I will bear a new title, one that I have been looking forward to enjoying since I first felt the flutterings of human life in my womb.

On Setptember 6th, 2012, I will become…


Get it? Schoolmarm + Marmee (the famous mother from “Little Women”) = Schoolmarmee?…see, this is why I should never be a comedienne. My jokes take WAY too much explaining…

Even though that’s not really a joke. I’m really going to make my kids call me that when school is in session.

Anyhow, I digress.

On September 6th, 2012, I will put on my fake glasses, I will ring my giant school bell, and homeschool classes at Gore House will finally be in session.

To say I am beside myself would be the understatement of the school year. I LOVED Kindergarden and I’ve been trying to get back there for 25 loooong years.

The only thing that gives me pause in my excitement, however, is this little white elephant in the room. (I have the distinct feeling I didn’t get that cliche right…it’s just “elephant in the room” isn’t it? And a “white elephant party”…meh. Whatever.). And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed it…

Have you ever felt that little thread of tension that seems to be all wrapped up in discussions on education, especially among believers?


Let me explain: It seems at times that homeschoolers can’t mention anything that takes place in their school life without being met with unsolicited opinions and questions concerning homeschool in general, especially on the hot mess that is Facebook. On the other hand, I think many public schoolers feel judged by the homeschooling community for not keeping their kids at home, which might lead to a lot of these sometimes-heated-but-more-often-than-not-passive-agressive-in-nature discussions.

And so before our very special first day of school comes, I thought it might be nice to put together a little somethin’ that might bring a little peace between the home schools and the public schools and the private schools and the charter schools…


A Peace Treaty on Education, written by a Homeschooling Mother

Let us love one another and spur each other on to love and good works, even when it comes to our choice of schooling. I promise to cheer for your child to win the public school spelling bee if you promise to “like” the picture I share on Facebook of my child making a homemade bird feeder.

Let us be kind in our speech about the “other side” even when we are surrounded by our closest friends who happen to share our convictions about schooling.

Let us keepeth our opinion to ourselves, unless asked for it.

Let us not challenge or argue with one another on social media unless we are brave enough to have those same discussions or ask those same questions face-to-face. And if we are that brave, let’s just not do it, anyway.

Let us always assume the best, and refuse to jump to conclusions that we or our children are being judged when someone mentions “an advantage” to their particular choice of schooling.

Let us remember that how someone else chooses to raise their child is very personal and private and does not need to be dissected by someone else, nor is it deserving of even an offhand comment.

Let us remain involved in each other’s lives regardless of how we view education. Every parent has different convictions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate and support one another and show interest in the lives of each other’s children.

Let us be quick to listen and slow to speak, and keep an open mind whenever we do happen to engage in discussions concerning education; sometimes we might be surprised at how our convictions can change. This is, after all, what happened to me!

Let us pray for and encourage all schoolteachers, whether they are teaching a classroom full of 3rd graders or a daughter and a son in their kitchen.

Let us acknowledge that strange and socially awkward children come from home schools, public schools and private schools, as do the most influential and likable and sensible and charismatic in our society.

Let us refrain from turning an educational preference into a war of Christian faithfulness, and look at the entire scope of a person’s life before we decide whether they are or are not evangelistic or devout.

Let us not allow our personal convictions and opinions to prejudice us against children from any school, but determine to make them feel included and loved and encouraged, no matter what.

And most importantly, let us always bear in mind that the outside world will know we belong to God by our love for one another. If we lose that love and kindness over issues of education and parenting, we have also tragically lost the gospel.


Dost thou hereby pledge to adhere to this most peaceable treaty on education? Pass it on!

Homeschool Field Day – Part 3

You’ve seen the decor of my sister-in-law Amy’s Homeschool Field Day (Part 1).

You’ve seen the weigh-in and the “photo shoot” (Part 2).

Now who’s ready to PLAY?!

From the obstacle course to the sack races to the tire roll to the foot races to the long jump to the tug-of-war, our 11 participants poured their hearts and their full tanks of childish energy into their first Field Day experience, so that by the time all 9 events were completed, their hair was sweaty, their faces were red (especially Miss Sunday’s) and their little tummies were soooo hungry!

This is where my Mom came in, generously preparing a yummy lunch (corn dogs, chips and fruit) for the children to enjoy outside and a super-yummy lunch (her famous chicken salad on croissants) for the grownups to eat inside. It was such a beautiful day, from start to finish, and it brings me such joy to share the following photographs with you; most of them (the best ones) were taken by Amy herself, further proof that my beloved sister is a superwoman!!! How I love and admire her, and I will never forget this day we shared together in June 2012.

Gotta stretch first!

Amy started off the events with a super-fun obstacle course that the kids just loved. Here, 2-year old Jackson tackles the tires before moving on to the rest of the challenges…

Kate bravely steps over the hurdle…

Rebekah trips over the hurdle…

Gideon CONQUERS the hurdle (and consequently, loves this photograph of himself)!!

Next, the 4- and 5-year olds line up for the sack race…

the competition was FIERCE!

Here is the precious 2- and 3-year old division…

Rebekah (the biggest and the oldest in her category) wins, as the older girls watch with delight; this group of preschoolers was definitely the crowd favorite!

Then it was time for dear friends Abigail and Katy to compete against one another in their age division, but there was a lot more giggling than there was competition – they love each other too much!

Fun + Forever Friends = Field Day 2012

Time for the Long Jump!

Kate gets a little help from her Daddy…

(p.s. and there is our great friend, Chrissy, who helped make this day possible – thanks, Chrissy!!)

Jamie (and her ponytail) fly across the yard…

Gideon (with a captive audience) displays interesting form…

Gabbie LEAPS like a pro…

and Abigail sticks her landing like a future Olympian.

Then the kids were split up into teams for a good old-fashioned game of tug-of-war…

Team Abigail…

versus Team Katy (only partly pictured here)…

My favorite part about this game was that no one ended up crying when it was over! Smiles all around (thank God).

About halfway through Field Day, my Mom sent out this wagon full of fruit and the kids took a much needed water and snack break…

Rebekah, not surprisingly, focused on the strawberries.

Amy planned several races for the day, beginning with an individual sprint that she timed and then recorded on each child’s information card for keepsake purposes. Here, little Anna runs with all her might to get a good time written on her card!

Mr. Gore challenges our son, Gideon, to a race (be still my heart).

When it came time for the competitive foot races, Amy asked me to set up my camera at the finish line for a photo finish…

while she set up facing the finish line. So I think we can safely say it…Abigail won this race.

Here she proudly accepts one of the 3 coveted medals with a GOLD STAR on it.

Isaiah won in his category…

and Rebekah won in hers. I thought this was a great thing for Amy to do, because while every kid got a medal at the end of the day for participating and doing well in a particular category, they also learned with these gold-star medals that you lose some…and you win some. But not everybody wins. Important lessons happen on Field Day, folks.

Then it was time for the 3-legged race, proof that some things are just timeless. What was fun for Anne and Diana and the schoolchildren of Avonlea is still fun today! How about that?!

Kate and Jackson were definitely the last to cross the finish line during the 3-legged race, but they sure had fun getting there…

Ribbons were handed out to everyone for participating…

and then we posed the children for one last group photograph.

and then…finally…lunchtime!

(That’s my Momma, everybody).

The kids attacked the food.

No, seriously. ATTACKED it.

Sigh. Our first annual Field Day was officially over…

And so we thought that called for a celebration. Water balloon fight!!!

Amy had a silver tub full of water balloons and sponges waiting for the children once lunch was over.

And when the water balloons were long gone, the tub made for a great swimming pool…

Dear God, may days like this be branded upon our memories, for truly they are only possible through your love and grace. What blessings are found in the traditions that we share with our families and friends!

Once more, a special THANK YOU to Amy for creating this day for us, to Chrissy for helping from start to finish, to Mom for a wonderful lunch and a ton of hard work, and to all who participated and came to cheer on our competitors. We can’t wait until next year’s Field Day! (Especially Gideon, who constantly asks me “When is Field Day again?” before we go over the looooong list of holidays we must trudge through before summer is here once more).

And, as ever, thank you, dear readers, for revisiting all of my special days with me. I hope in the future you have the opportunity to host a Field Day in your own backyard – unless you have a super-Amy in your life, it might look a lot different than ours, but…you get the gist. All you need is some energetic kids, some good weather, a little creativity and a lot of hard work…and the fun that follows is almost 100% guaranteed!

Homeschool Field Day – Part 2

At 10 o’clock a.m., our First Annual Homeschool Field Day began! (see Part 1 here).

But before I continue, I’d like to take a moment to share a few thoughts on “homeschool” events. One of the greatest beauties of homeschooling is the freedom and the flexibility that comes in the curriculum, in the scheduling, and, in this instance, the event-planning. There is lots of inspiration and much advice to be found on the subject, but there really is no handbook on “how to create a successful homeschool.” Because that’s the point, isn’t it? To craft a system and a school that meets the needs of your particular (and, in our case, peculiar) family and to fit into your personal lifestyle? For example, we performed our “First Annual Cousin Show” with just our family because the music and drama teacher (ME) is not equipped to handle anymore “performers” at this stage in my life, and the same is true of the homeschool parties my Mom hosts for us (add any more kids to the mix and Grandmother will soon go bankrupt!); however, it just seemed fitting on this day to include our friends. Some of these friends don’t go to our church, and some don’t homeschool, but what we have in common is obvious: love for one another and for each other’s kids, and a friendship that is unified by the blood of Christ. All that to say, there are no rules to days like this, except for one – have fun and glorify God – and after that, anything goes. I encourage you to host a day like this for the kids in your circle, whether you are a homeschooler or not, because, frankly, this was FUN.

So let’s get to the good stuff!

Before we competed in any events, Amy (in a stroke of genius!) chose to start things off in an old-school official manner, just like the old days in P.E. class:

Each child was measured…


 and then photographed, standing on an old-announcer’s-type box and holding the antique dumbbells. After Field day, Amy printed off each participant’s photograph and attached it to their information card as a special Field Day keepsake. I can’t tell you what a treasure this is to me!

I especially love how each child’s personality is seen in the following photographs.

First, Katy, fun-loving and sweet…

then Abigail, daring and funny and athletic…

then Gideon, silly and excited and (doting Mother alert) PRECIOUS – (by the way, he was asking when the next Field Day was the minute this one was over)…

then Anna, sweet and tender and day-dreamy…

then Isaiah, enthusiastic and energetic and totally in Field Day character…

then Gabbie, a shy but bold girl (see how she ducks her chin but still manages to look straight into the camera?) who loves nothing more than being with her friends…

then Jamie, with the face of an angel and the personality of an imp…

then Rebekah, finally 3 years old and beyond excited to be included in the big kids activities… 

then Kate, who is impossible to describe in one line. So just LOOK at that face, would ya?…

then Jackson, who can easily be described in two words: All. BOY. …

and then our tiny little friend, Izzy, who weighs about as much as those dumbbells. Please take a moment to appreciate her accessories and her silver sandals, which is our sassy little Izzy in a nutshell…

and although he and Baby Betsie were too young to participate this year, we had to take a quick picture of the heavyweight champ of Field Day 2012, Baby Grey. I think I die a little every time I look at the following picture…

But let’s get this Field Day started, shall we?




Let the Field Day fun BEGIN.

Part 3…coming up next!

Homeschool Field Day – Part 1

This gallery contains 15 photos.

I am so absolutely over-the-moon excited (and as exaggeratory as ever) to share the following post with you. Two reasons. 1. My sister-in-law, Amy, is a self-taught photographer whose talent and expertise is growing by leaps and bounds, and this … Continue reading

The First Annual Cousin Show – Part 2

Before looking at these pictures, you really must read the preface! That’s an order! Click here to obey me.


So like I said yesterday, the night of our little homeschool play was one of the best of my entire life. I don’t know what it was, really…but the timing, the ambiance, the nostalgia, the simplicity…it all came together to create a beautiful night for our family. It took place just last weekend, but a sweet warmth already washes over my soul when I think about our show in the shed…

Take a look.

6:30 sharp. Gideon and Abigail brave the May shower to walk across the yard to our secret dress rehearsal in the shed.

No mud boots on the stage!

Twizzlers for our audience…

and lots of cookies…

Snickerdoodle, anyone?…

And a program listing our recitations, songs and nursery rhymes…

The guest table, safe from the rain, featured chocolate chip, oatmeal and snickerdoodle cookies, along with Twizzlers, paper bags of popcorn, and lemonade. Easy to prepare, and no napkins, forks or plates required.

My Daddy peruses his program. He doesn’t often come “to town”, but he’d do anything for these kids. Even postpone construction on his solar kiln so they could have a show! (If you read the preface to this post, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, I really don’t know what I’m going to do with you. Rebels…).

Here is a photograph of the full program. All of our numbers were based off of the Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes CD that came with our Sonlight P 3/4 Curriculum. It was so easy to invent little skits to go along with the nursery rhymes, and it really  helped the children to understand what the nursery rhymes were about. I highly recommend this CD and accompanying booklet. Click here
to find it at Amazon!

Betsie enjoyed her program, too. Literally. She ate a good portion of the top left corner sometime during the show.

“Curtain” rising…

I seriously thought these kids were going to burst with excitement…


First up was Anna Ruth (5 years old), reciting “One Misty Moisty Morning”. Anna, our otherworldly little daydreamer, is especially gifted at theatrics and was a dream to “direct”.

And I loved seeing how proud her big sister, Abigail, was to watch her do well.

Gideon couldn’t contain himself. His recitation of “Peter Piper” was…interesting…

and precious.

And then the amazing Abigail recited “Betty Botter”, a tongue-twister that she memorized in TWO DAYS. Would you like to hear it?

Betty Botter bought some butter, “but,” she said, “the butter’s bitter; If I put it in my batter it will make my batter bitter, but a bit of better butter, that would make my batter better.” So she bought a bit of butter, better than her bitter butter, and she put it in her batter, and the batter was not bitter. So t’was better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.

Twisty, yes? And she performed it to perfection.

As we do a quick set change to prepare for our nursery rhymes segment of the show, Gideon sneaks a peek at the audience…

We started with Mary (played by our very talented Miss Sunday who wanted ALL the leading parts), who had a Little Lamb with fleece white (oopsie…or black) as snow…

and everywhere that Mary went the Lamb was sure to go…

it followed her to school one day which was against the rules; it made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school!

Next, Mother Abigail sang “Lazy Mary will you get up? Will you get up? Will you get up? Lazy Mary will you get up? Will you get up today?”

(When I told Anna she would be playing Mary, she exclaimed in delighted surprise “Oh good! Because I really AM lazy!!”)

“No, no, Mother, I won’t get up, I won’t get up today!” Anna sang in reply, before snuggling back down on her pillow to return to dreamland.

And then it was finally Baby Kate’s turn (At the end of every scene, she would jump up and say “My turn! It’s my turn!”). She practiced so hard all week and received rousing applause after her act. Seriously, how could she not?…

There was a Little Girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead…

When she was good, she was very, very good…

but when she was bad, she was HORRID!

a group singing of “6 Little Ducks” between our nursery rhymes…

followed by Jack and Jill…

then Miss Muffet (watch out for that spider!!)…

then Humpty Dumpty…

then Little Bo Peep and all her hiding sheep…

and finally (my personal favorite) Georgie Porgie, kissing the girls and making them cry!

And the super secret special finale, a performance of The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” for their Grandmother as a fun Mother’s Day surprise.They sang this one with gusto!

“Pleeeeeeeasssse?! Love me do!”

A dance party to end our First Annual Cousin Show!


It was so precious to watch the kids relax at their tables and chairs afterwards and enjoy their snacks. Their eyes were alight, their smiles were BIG, and well…my heart was bursting.

Brother (with a mouthful of Twizzlers) and Sister, proud of their accomplishment and happy to FINALLY raid that snack table!

I like to think that Kate and Rebekah were discussing their favorite part of the show, but who knows? They’re best friends, though, that’s for sure! (when they’re not duking it out…)

I am so very proud of my little actor and actresses. They made this Mama/Auntie one happy lady! (and everyone say ‘hi!’ to our friend Joe in the background!

I hope you’ll try putting on a special show in your backyard, whether you homeschool or not. Any way you slice it, this is good (and educational) old-fashioned fun.

The First Annual Cousin Show

I am in a directorial afterglow.

Let me explain…

Since we built our home 2…maybe 3…years ago, I’ve had this dream.

There would be a wooden stage in the side yard with heavy curtains on a pulley-system where the kids could don costumes and put on shows for us. We would laugh and applaud and they would bask in the beauty of growing up at home, where everyone gets a good part and stage fright is unheard of.

Well that dream partly came true this past weekend, and my heart has been singing since the final act.

There is a shed on my parents’ property that adjoins our little acre in town – you might have noticed that it shows up in lots of our gatherings and photographs, as it provides a perfect rustic backdrop for pretty near everything. A couple of months ago, my Dad poured concrete on one side of the shed, with future plans to convert it into a solar kiln for drying lumber. Seeing this open-on-one-side covered pavilion-like area, I fell in love and decided it would provide the perfect stage for our first homeschool play — until, of course, I get my real stage built.

I started planning our show with my children and my nieces, and we scheduled our first practice…

And then I found out my Dad was planning to enclose the concrete slab the next weekend with walls.


In dramatic Mrs. Gore fashion, I put in a desperate plea to postpone this enterprise, and by jinky, to my utter surprise…

it worked!

But Daddy gave me one week.

One week to prepare for and perform our first show.

I was initially skeptical, but then I got brave and we carried forth with our practices and our plans.

And then it started raining on the morning of the show and kind of continued all day and I became skeptical again (and maybe freaked out a little because I’m a super-geek).

And then I got brave again and said “You know what? We are going to do this thingy.”

Before I could change my mind, with the help of my husband and brother Jerry, we loaded all of our supplies and props up into the pick-up, drove them through the yard in the rain, unloaded everything in the shed, wiped all the rain off of the wood and then, in dramatic Mrs. Gore fashion, I asked to be left alone…

My eyes roamed the large slab of concrete surrounded by three walls. It wouldn’t be how I had envisioned it. The audience wouldn’t be sitting on haybales in the grass facing the shed. But they could sit under the roof with us in the farmhouse chairs Amy sent up the hill to me. The curtain wouldn’t be draped across the large beam at the front of the enclosure. But what luck! There is another beam right inside here that we could use! The snack table couldn’t sit on the outside of the shed, beckoning our guests. But there is a perfect little spot right inside the entry that is just the right size for the table…

Alone in the shed, light rain hitting the metal rooftop, a utility broom in one hand and a dream in my heart…magic happened. When the children arrived for their dress rehearsal, and their eyes landed on their performance area, their special props set neatly on wooden beams or hanging from rustic hooks, their feet screeched to a halt, their eyes lit up and their mouths dropped open in delight and wonder. And I remembered why I had set out to do this “play” in the first place.

It turned out to be one of the best nights of my life.

Wanna know why? Because sometimes us homeschooling mothers worry a little that our kids are going to miss out. That they won’t have moments like we did growing up where they will unexpectedly bloom a little and their chins will raise up a little higher and they will stand a little taller because they did something so brave and extraordinary.

But in our little shed in the backyard, four little girls and a little boy, surrounded by a tiny group of people who love them unconditionally, put on a show and made people laugh and applaud and…they bloomed. Right in front of my eyes.

Those same eyes are already filling with tears at the memory of our night. Perhaps I should have been a director.

Or perhaps I am right where I’m supposed to be, putting on plays in the backyard with a 7-year old, two 5-year olds and two 2-year olds…

waiting for the curtain to go up…

Tomorrow, I’ll share details and photographs! Stay tuned!!

Mrs. Gore’s School of Incorrection

I sometimes wonder if I’m really and truly cut out to be the schoolteacher of my own children. Not because I’m a dummy…I did graduate from college, you know. (Aaaand I managed to snag the nicest guy in at least the middle portion of the state…).

I worry because I am a procrastinator.

And not in the “oh, we’ll get around to that ol’ alphabet next week” way, but in the “I wish my children could remain children forever” way. Meaning that, “rod of discipline” aside, I rarely correct them.

Thus, rather than correct Gideon’s way of saying some statements, the entire family had adopted them as not only cute and noteworthy, but as the correct way of saying them.

Which has resulted in our own sort of language around here, nonsensical and hard to crack. So just in case you ever come over for snacks, I thought I would provide a Gore family dictionary to help you know what in the world we’re talking about:

Go peep v. To hop on over to the closest bathroom and take a #1.

Hot sauchez n. A delicious dip made of cheese, known in most households as “cheese dip”.

The bateeno with the buhwahva n. A vent in the earth’s crust with molten rock erupting from its fiery lair, pronounced by most of the country as “the volcano with the lava”. (You wouldn’t think this phrase would be used often enough in our home to make it to this list, but you’d be wrong).

Buhfrise n. surprise! an unexpected gift

Buhweeseman n. The local hero in the blue uniform who drives the white and black car and keeps us from driving too fast.

Show (rhymes with cow) Wash n. the most fascinating and terrifying location in the world where we cover our ears or scream at the top of our lungs while our car is being smacked around by giant soapy instruments of cleaning. We love/hate that place.

Uncle McDonald’s n. the place that gives us a toy to eat the most delicious french fries on the planet. We love/love that place.

Hanguber n. what Miss Sunday asks for at Uncle McDonald’s, but never eats.

Janamas (pronouced juh-nah-muhs) n. What Miss Sunday – and now all of us – wears to bed, also generally known as “pajamas”.

Captain America n. the bottled drink that Granddaddy shares with Gideon and Rebekah after work, perhaps better known as “Diet Pepsi” or “Diet 7 Up”. (long story…)

“This is my deal.” Miss Sunday’s explanation for everything, most likely in response to her Mama frequently asking (in exasperation) “What is your deal?!”

“Last morning” a phrase alluding to what took place yesterday or the day before. Or the week before, or two years ago. The only thing “last morning” is not is the present. (which can be confusing when Gideon wants to listen to the song he heard “last morning”…does he mean the one we listened to yesterday or the one we listened to on his birthday in 2008? We never know).

~ Other notes of interest ~ 

Rebekah has taken this “School of Incorrection” to a new level, inspiring us to use poor grammar, as well. She has been stringing sentences together for some time now and was just born with the gift of gab, but she makes this one mistake that I adore and therefore refuse to correct, ever: instead of using “her” or “his” or “our” as a possessive pronoun, she (and now all of us) says “she’s” or “he’s” or “we’s”.

As in “I wike she’s hat” or “He wants he’s mommy.” But my favorite is “Are we driving we’s car?” (Please, God, pleasssssee, let her talk like this just a little longer, but not so long that she is unable to function properly in society – I’ll leave that timing up to You. I completely trust You to fix she’s poor grammar).

Oh, and the “Captain America” thing started when my Dad’s Diet 7 Up bottles were promoting the superhero’s new movie this past year. “Are you drinking Captain America?” Rebekah asked with wonder. “Yep.” said my Dad. So now, the minute she walks in to my parent’s house, she immediately says “Hey, you got some Captain America?”

And one more thing. Its a good thing that Gideon somehow figured out that he was spelling our names backwards on his papers, because I was more than content to be “Amam” forever.

Mr. Gore was, of course, “Apap”.


And now a test:

So did you hear about the little boy (still wearing he’s janamas, no less) who got lost last morning? He’s Amam and Apap called on the local buhweeseman to help find him. “What if he walked to the batino with the buhwava?!” they cried. But buhfries! They found him at the show wash. “This is my deal.” he explained. “I needed to go peep.” They celebrated by going to Uncle McDonald’s and having chips and hot sauchez and hangubers and little cups of Captain America. “Now let’s go back to we’s house.” Amam said. “Good idea.” said Apap. The end.

If you understood the above, you get an A+ from the Incompetent Schoolmarm of the School of Incorrection. Congratulations…and welcome to we’s world.