A Welcome to School Party

If you’ve been following Mrs. Gore’s Home Academy, you would know that our first day of Kindergarten was set for Thursday, September 6th, 2012. You would also know that our children spent the first part of the week at their Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house as our home underwent a major overhaul in preparation for the debut of our homeschool.

And, most importantly, you would remember that we would be ending our time apart with a reunion party on Wednesday, September 5th, wherein we would kick off the schoolyear with a big schoolroom (and nursery) reveal, snacks, presents and (dork alert: I’m about to use the word “oodles”!)…oodles of fun.

{If you haven’t been following Mrs. Gore’s Home Academy…I’m so sorry that you don’t know any of the above information. (see what I did there?)}

I will admit, by the time party time rolled around at 3:30 sharp on Wednesday afternoon, I was barely standing. Something about completely reorganizing and decorating half of our home’s square footage, cleaning every nook and cranny of the entire square footage, doing 8 or 9 loads of laundry, planning and decorating a party, and buying groceries in the span of 42 hours will wear a lady out. It might have been glorious work, it might have been unusually quiet and uninterrupted work, but still…it was work.

However…worth every second.

The following photos will showcase the little “Welcome to School” party we enjoyed before hopping in the car to go to Wednesday night church. I have to say, I think this party will be a tradition in our home. It was a great way to make much ado over the coming school year, and, in a stroke of genius, I used it to turn regular old school supplies and school clothes into presents. How so? I wrapped them and said “We bought your presents!” (a.k.a. crayons, safety scissors, glue, polo shirts, etc.).

And speaking of school supplies, such was the main component of this party decor – so easy! – while the rest was gathered from the various drawers and hidey-holes in our house; I’ve been collecting old books and vintage children’s products for years, so I didn’t have to look far to throw this little party together. Without further ado, I present to you our first annual “Welcome to School” Party, on the cheap!

~

Our holiday chalkboard always has something festive to say. This particular message is my favorite yet. Well done, chalkboard…

A Cavallini and Co. alphabet chart was taped to the dining room wall (I’ll share more on this in the future), and an old wooden thingy my Mom uses in her office proudly helped me compartmentalize schoolish necessities…

I came across these vintage-inspired Crayola tins in our stationery drawer, purchased at Cracker Barrel for Christmas stocking stuffers. In the disgusting gluttony of Christmas consumption, they were forgotten, and chose to make a reappearance just in time for our party. Well done, Crayola tins…

Vintage school decor is so easy to drum up – apples, old school readers, vintage-inspired type, chalkboard slates…and lots and lots of crayons. I especially love the “Dan Frontier” reader my Mom and I found at a local antique show. It is so charming, and my son loves it, too. (but MAN, is it ever long…I predict that the first time Gid reads it to me, I will fall asleep by page 8). Well done, Dan Frontier…

On the other end of the table is a spool of twine, colored pencils, timeless pink erasers (I used to love those things!), and the Webster’s collection I won in the 3rd grade spelling bee…

and my Mom bought me these McGuffey’s Readers many years ago –  I’ve yet to remove the twine she wrapped them in. Well done, Mom. Well done, McGuffey’s. Well done, apples and twine…

and this little utensil caddy that participates in all of our parties was the perfect display for No. 2 pencils and rulers. Well done, caddy and featured supplies (sorry…I can’t stop).

Presents!!!! I will admit, by the time I sat down to wrap them and watch a sitcom late Tuesday night, I was beat. I wrapped them sloppily like a teenage boy wraps his Mom’s b-day gifts…

but this pretty number tape I also found in my stationery drawer helped to redeem the sloppy wrapping job; it was another forgotten stocking stuffer that jumped out at me just when I needed it. Thanks a million, tape!

I kept the party food simple, reminiscent of after-school milk and cookies. Had time allowed, I planned on making Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Whoopee Pies, but…I went with Little Debbie instead. THANK YOU, Little Debbie. Your Oatmeal Creme Pies are still glorious, and the preservatives were delicious.

and this is a universally known fact, but ice cold milk = school party perfection

But enough about the set-up! Let’s party!!! My Mom and Mr. Gore met at the church to get the kids dressed in real clothes (that I forgot to send to my Mom’s house)…

But I wouldn’t let them in yet. It is a cardinal rule that children must wait expectantly for a party or holiday to begin. Even if I have everything done, I make them wait, just like my Mama used to do to us! (It builds anticipation AND character, don’t you think? And it is our cruel right as grown-ups.)

Finally…we let them see their new school domain (but I’m sorry…I can’t reveal it to you yet and have cruelly chosen to build your anticipation and character by making you wait). But here is an example of what their faces looked like – and I’m almost positive you’ll make the same expression when I show you the pictures in the weeks to come.

Gideon was overwhelmed – he has his finger in his mouth in every picture I took – while Rebekah took it all in with her steady gaze (we think she was excited too, though. Key word: think).

After tearing open their presents, we went straight to snack consumption.

son and mother, student and teacher…this week has been big for both of us!

Gideon (the Kindergartener!) was the true star of this party, but since Rebekah is now kind of in preschool, she received a new bed and schoolwork area and a few school supplies to keep her occupied during her brother’s class time. Betsie, on the other hand, got nothin’…

except for this peanut butter cookie. But she was totally cool with that…

and Bubba shared his milk with her.

Soon after the party, Gideon ran upstairs to put on some of his new school clothes and try out his backpack. His favorite gift, however, was the Ace comb I bought for him at Wal-Mart. He keeps it in his pocket and combs his hair when he thinks it might be sticking up. Fastidious.

It was a simple and short affair, but our little homeschool party was the perfect way to kick off our first year of school together. When I collapsed into bed that night, my heart was well pleased. And Gideon? Well, he was beside himself, just like a Kindergartener should be.

Well done, Welcome to School party.

A Homeschool May Day – Part 3

After selecting and planting their flowers and delivering them on May Day morning, the children were invited to Grandmother’s house for an old-fashioned May Day lunch and celebration.

I saw a quotation on Pinterest that read “This project started in confusion and will end in disarray.” It immediately made me think of my Mom, who swears she is the worst crafter on the planet. She has a great eye for style and dreams of creating things, but when the finished project does not match what she envisioned, she wants to wad it up and throw it in the trash. She also lacks the patience to fiddle with small parts and supplies (something I think she passed on to me: making tiny treats for Gideon’s birthday party together left us both whining and wanting very much to beat our heads against the wall).

All that to say, she called me with a fit of giggles the night before May Day as she tried her best to create flower crowns for the girls to wear at the party. They were not doing what she wanted them to do and, quite frankly, her disdain for crafting and her past failures caused her to lose her confidence to the extent that she wasn’t even trying (in my opinion). Finally, I said “Mom, do you have any idea how smart you are?! I think if you use your brain you can DO this!” We laughed, even as I knew that by the next day, her crowns would be perfect; even if she doesn’t think she is good at crafts, I know how gifted she is and that her projects usually pan out after all the whining and frustration.

Love that woman.

And I absolutely loved this May Day party, flower crowns and all.

~

Anna and Gideon (wearing a flowerless Greek Olympian inspired crown) share secrets by the door as they wait for the party to begin…

our eldest Spring nymph, Abigail Grace, is about to be 8 years old, but she is mature enough to think that dancing on May Day with a group of little ones is pretty awesome…

and then there is my little fair flower of femininity, Rebekah Sunday…

Lining up for the May Pole…

Gideon, growing up surrounded by girls, doesn’t think twice about joining in…

all you need for a May Pole dance is a pole (duh), long strands of ribbon, a Celtic Woman CD (or anything lilty or Springy or dancey), pretty dresses, flower crowns, and willing participants. We obviously met all the requirements…

I don’t know if anyone got into the spirit of things better than our dreamy Anna Ruth…

We had to keep our eye on this precious girl lest the wood fairies take her away. How I love Kate Belle…

and don’t even get me started on this girl. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with her, but I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her…

Like my Mom’s crafts…

this project started in confusion…

and ended in disarray. 

But what a lovely mess it was…

inspiring laughter…

and happy smiles…

and clapping (gasp! It’s Mrs. Gore!)…

and lots and lots of spinning and twirling.

As usual, Betsie couldn’t join in the festivities, but she had lots of fun from afar…

happily snacking (or more likely teething) on Granddaddy’s fence.

Best “fwiends” Kate and Rebekah pose together after the dance…

they never make it through a day without at least one fistfight, but they are deeply devoted to one another and grow sad when they have to say goodbye.

Grandmother’s flower crowns turned out quite lovely, if you ask me…

but one thing she REALLY knows how to do is DESSERT…

You can always tell if a party is successful by how dirty Miss Sunday is at the party’s close…

May Day success.

~

As ever, thank you to my Mom for her thoughtful and generous love, and for Amy for taking such lovely photos. What a team!

And I hope all of you will consider celebrating May Day next year! I happen to know a lady who makes simply beautiful May Day crowns…

A Homeschool May Day – Part 2

I’ve been told that playing Santa is even more fun that receiving gifts from him. (I’m not so sure of that…)

But such is definitely the case with May Day…

As much as I love receiving a basket of flowers on my doorstep on May 1st, the real fun is in the delivering.

Per Grandmother’s request, our little clan woke up bright and early on May Day morning, excited to deliver our flowers to the dear sisters in our church who are widowed. I am so grateful to my Mom for aiding us in teaching our children how to care for the ones we love; what wonderful lessons she is teaching our little ones! And who am I kidding?…I learn a good lesson from her pretty near ’bout everyday.

Somehow we were able to get the kids dressed and fed, and congregate at Amy’s house early – for us – on May Day morning.

The children were atwitter.

And so was I.

We loaded our surprises into Amy’s big red wagon…

and through the streets of our town we walked, stopping in to see some of our favorite ladies.

It was a beautiful day…

and a beautiful memory.

And that was just the beginning…

Comin’ up: our first old-fashioned May Day CELEBRATION!

A Homeschool May Day – Part 1

As is her pattern, Grandmother had a holiday surprise for her homeschooling grandchildren, this time scheduled for May 1st. On the Sunday before May Day, invitations were handed out to the children bearing very mysterious instructions. The requests were simple, but vague: Be at Amy’s house in the morning at 10:00, be at Amy’s house the next morning at 9:00 and be at Grandmother’s house after that at 11:00.

As is our pattern, we obeyed.

And this is what she had up her sleeve…

She led the children across the street to “The Potting Shed”, an outstanding local business our small town has recently been blessed with. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to run down the street for our flowers rather than drive allllllll the way to the city…

Miss Cindy opened shop just for us on this beautiful morning, which made our outing seem even more special and important. My Mom informed the children that we would be making May Day baskets for several of the widows in our church, and that they could each pick whatever flowers they thought were pretty.

Of course, Betsie is too young to participate, but she had fun, nonetheless…

And soon we were boxing up our purchases and toting them back to Amy’s house…

Then the real work began…

Finally, our May Day surprises were ready to go…

And only one sleep separated us from our first real May Day celebration…

~

Coming tomorrow…the delivery!

(Oh, and if you live in my town and have not visited The Potting Shed, you should go. Immediately! Time’s a’wastin’!)

Her Very Valentine Homeschool Party

She done it again.

My Mom just has a way of ministering to the ones she loves, and the Valentine homeschool party she hosted for our little ones was no exception. The funniest thing about the entire day was her apologetic stance when we first entered in. “You guys, I’m so sorry…” she said. “I just couldn’t get it together this time.”

I forced my level of expectation to lower to a reasonable level. And then she started pulling out the party food…

Spaghetti with “X” and “O” shaped garlic bread. Miniature cherry cream cheese parfaits. Chocolate dipped glasses filled with pink milk. Homemade heart-shaped pecan sandies rolled in powdered sugar. Chocolate covered strawberries. Gifts and handmade Valentines for everybody.

I can’t imagine what her parties would be like if she was able to “get it together”! Take a look…

Mail bags that the kids made at our Valentine-making party were lining my Mom’s mantle. (Conveniently her Christmas stocking holders were still up and provided a perfect means to display their goodies).

We were unsure of their relationship at first, but “Baby Kate” and Miss Sunday are becoming quite good friends. Especially on Valentine’s Day!
Each child received a strawberry Crush soda, a treat box of Sixlets, a coloring book, a sticker book, a Valentine card and a cupcake liner filled with assorted treats.
A Valentine for each child – even Baby Betsie – from their doting Grandmother.
My favorite thing about her parties is the table – it is always like a wonderland. For the kids AND me.
I made her take this picture – but I’m so glad I did. What a beautiful woman my Mother is!
her homemade Pecan Sandies – I kid you not, I could eat 10 of these a day and never grow tired of them. Maybe someday I’ll add the recipe to Mrs. Gore’s Book of Cookery.
3 years apart, but the best of friends. These two have too much fun together…
Me and Betsie Fair. (sidenote: Betsie is the 5th little girl in our family to wear that red hoodie with the heart-shaped pockets. We had no idea when Mom bought out Baby Gap when Abigail was born that the investment would pay off!).
Miss Sunday wasn’t the fastest at the conversation heart stacking game, but she sure worked hard at it.
timberrrrr!
my little heartthrob since 2007 – love this kid like crazy.
chocolate dipped frosty glasses with pink milk – a treat for the eyes as well as the tummy!
and on Valentine’s Day, slurping and/or bubble-blowing is most certainly allowed!
or guzzling. Whatever floats your boat. (and guzzling most definitely floats Miss Sunday’s boat).
delicious spaghetti with hugs and kisses toast
it may have been messy, but they ate every bite!
especially this one. (that’s my GIRL!)
cherry cream cheese pie in a little dessert glass
there are about 20 pictures of us in this chair trying to get one decent photograph together. I think this one is my favorite (poor Betsie).
Valentine party SUCCESS!.

It feels so good to be loved, on Valentine’s Day and every day. Many thanks to our dearest Grandmother for another lovely and memorable day spent together at her house in the woods.

~

Personalized t-shirts and many of the photographs on this post were contributed by my generous and talented sister-in-law, Amy. Thank you, Amy for all the wonderful things you  do for our family!

Her Haunting Halloween Homeschool Hoopla

~ GRANDMOTHER’S HALLOWEEN HOMESCHOOL PARTY ~

The children line up for the party with NO idea of what fun awaits them!

If the kitchen didn’t scream “Happy Halloween!!!” loudly enough, the Halloween music playing in the background did. “They did the Monster Mash…”
The table’s centerpiece was a Halloween cup filled with yummy candy for each child to take home. I did NOT eat the M&M’s hidden at the bottom of my kids cups. Excuse me…I did not eat ALL the M&M’s hidden at the bottom of my kids cups.
My Mom whisked the kids to the back for a surprise – they came running back into the living room with these horrid teeth in their mouths!
Kate Belle was kinda proud of hers, giving her good tooth a polish.
Next, we played a mummy-wrapping game in the yard…
Rebekah stood as still as a statue! She is not in homeschool yet, but I still give her an A+++.
Next it was time for a craft that my Mom found in Southern Living magazine. Each child was given a mason jar to paint orange…
(I most certainly had to go back and paint Rebekah’s when she was finished…)
After they dried, Aunt Amy drew jack-o-lantern faces on them and then they were sprayed with a clear gaze and set out to dry.
The finished product! An LED light was placed inside and each child had a new nightlight to carry home.
The children were sent back into the playroom while lunch was placed on the table. When it was time to par-tay they each had to run down the hallway and make a scary face! Then they were shown to their seat. Here’s Abigail!
then a kinda scary (but too cute to ever be scary) Anna…
followed by Rebekah with her one-trick-pony always-the-same scary face…
then a fierce-faced Gideon…
followed by Baby Kate, who is still working on her scary face!
Let the party begin! I saw a quotation on Pinterest last week that said “A grandparents house is where cousins become best friends.” I could not agree more!
There was Orange Crush soda in bottles…
(sluuurrrrrrp…)
and Orange jell-o with a dollop of Cool Whip on top…
and a caramel apple for each of us with a ribbon-wrapped stick (not to mention popcorn balls, trail mix, goldfish, cheetohs, oranges, carrots, ham/cheese/crackers, cheese dip and chips, peanut butter crackers, iced gingerbread cookies, and enough special candy to give a cavity to each tooth in the house!!!)
Oh, and a precious little box of treats to enjoy at home. (purchased from Kids at Heart Designs at etsy.com)
And finally, while the grown-ups chatted and cleaned, the children watched “Its a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, easing our Halloween extravaganza to a happy end. 
Do these children have any idea how blessed they are to have her in their life? I doubt it. But they will, I am sure of that.

As we pulled out of the driveway to return home for afternoon naps, I asked the kids what they thought of that Halloween party…

Gideon had one word: “Awesome.”

“What was your favorite part?” I asked.

“…All of it.” he said.

I’m inclined to agree.

Grandmother’s Homeschool Holiday Parties

~ Okay all you Grandmothers out there…prepare to be inspired! ~

My Mom is the queen of holidays (and I, her loyal princess). What I love most about her is that her holidays are a total expression of her love for her family. She doesn’t show off, she doesn’t waste time being fussy, and she never ever gets in a tizzy (pretty much my polar opposite). Sometimes I think that even her sneezes spray goodwill and love out into the air! She lives and breathes for others, especially us lucky ducks that used to live in her tummy.

This past year she has whipped up a brand new pot of holiday magic, and I have to say, it is her best yet…

She is the doting Grandmother of seven grandchildren, 5 girls and 2 boys, 6 of whom live within 12 miles of her house, 3 of whom are in homeschool. And what she has launched this year in their honor just makes my heart swell right out of my chest, as she has single-handedly taken it upon herself to give them holiday school parties, kind of like the ones I loved in elementary school, but amped up about 5 thousand notches and sealed with a grandmother’s kiss.

Here are a few random but noteworthy facts concerning her party-throwing efforts:

1. She always sends the kids invitations to her parties in the mail and asks for them to R.S.V.P. Precious!

2. She does all the work and simply tells the mommas to show up with the kids. As a busy mom of 3, this takes a huge load off of my shoulders and ministers to me so deeply.

3. That fear in me that my kids are going to “miss out” by not going to public school is soothed by her thoughtfulness; as I watch my children’s delight and hear their laughter, I know once more that they are going to be okay and that we haven’t made a bad choice. If you are a grandparent and your children homeschool, I highly recommend adopting this tradition of hosting “class” parties!

4. She isn’t trying to be Martha Stewart. Rather, she has two tricks to planning a party: a) Holiday colors and b) Family traditions. Which means that at this party, her entire kitchen was decorated in orange and black and every food we ate was either orange, black, or something she made us growing up. Easy? So she says. Fun? Yessiree-bob.

5. She takes health and naptime into consideration. Thus, hidden amongst the candied apples and Orange Crush soda were bowls of carrots, a raisin snack mix, a meat and cheese platter, and mandarin oranges. And we were completely finished with all the festivities in time for afternoon naps! It is just like her to make sure that her parties fit easily into our days, and that our children are not retching before they go trick-or-treating.

6. She also ministers to the mommas by making us treats, as well; in this case, a big copper pot of chicken tortilla soup. So good, so comforting.

7. She is amazing. And I want to be just like her someday.

I will share the full party photos and details tomorrow, but here is a sneak peak…