A tour of our homeschool classroom

Today marks one year since we came and looked at our house for the second time with our realtor.. I know that because timehop is fun and showed me pics of us riding the trolley last year while we explored our new city. In the months leading up to looking at houses in person, Lance and I poured over houses online and talked about possibilities.

We talked about things we absolutely wanted or needed, like how four bedrooms would be nice, but we really only needed three, if we had somewhere for the classroom to be. Then, after all the realistic lists were made individually and together, we talked one day in the car about what if’s. We said, “if you could have anything at all within a reasonable price, what would you want for a home?” and then we dreamed. we dreamed illogical, unlikely things just to dream. His list had a garage, not carport (not important to me) and a space for his office/music room to be, particularly if it’s away from bedrooms so he could play at night. I dreamed of a small nook for my desk and pretty pictures that I could call my own, to write, read, or whatever else. I dreamed of an actual laundry room (our last two houses had the washer and dryer in the kitchen and/or garage), but most of all, I dreamed of a classroom. A space without carpet so I wouldn’t be annoying about spills. One with lots of light would be awesome. Oh! what if it was a sunroom!? a sunroom classroom would be perfect. and on and on.

Months later, we walked into what is now our home. we didn’t get that fourth bedroom, but our girls like to share anyway. but, I have a little office nook in our master bedroom. There’s a music room downstairs on the opposite side of the bedrooms. there’s a garage big enough for two cars (not that we can park two cars in it…ahem) a laundry room. And….this. this is what we walked into that day.

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My heart just swelled. Look at that painted hardwood floor…and that beadboard ceiling? and those WINDOWS. In my head, it was already decorated with colorful posters and stocked with art supplies.

Because today was our first day back to our summer school, (and because it’s my favorite room in the house) I thought I’d take some pics and share a tour of our classroom.

This is what the classroom looks like now that we’ve lived here almost a year.

sunroom after

The telescope was a gift from my dad. He got super into watching the stars and moon the last year of his life. seriously. He’d text me at like 11pm telling me to go look at random stars or the full moon, and if I told him it was too cloudy here (2.5-3 hrs from his house), he’d tell me to just wait it out and watch. …….yeah, that’s okay.

The paper chain has to be replaced in the coming months, haha. The sun definitely did a number on its pretty colors. The papers along the ceiling are of our memory verses that go with the alphabet. The boxes on the shelves under the table are some of norah’s hands on puzzles and toys.

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A lot of our stuff is down for the summer, but the whiteboard is still up but looking a bit blank. This is Norah’s corner. The calendar beside her doesn’t have the dates up…because I’m lazy and refuse to do it until August ;). And also because I need new sticky tack…tact? hmm…that blue stuff that holds posters up. Norah has boxes for each day of the week. I saw the idea floating around pinterest in several different ways, and I finally settled on one I found from 1plus1plus1equals1 blog. She even gave the printables for the day labels for free! I love helpful people.  Her boxes stay stacked on the other side of the room.

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The daily boxes have various things in them that rotate. Today’s had a leapfrog toy that fits letter pieces in and says the name and sound. One day has a small stuffed animal, bandaids, and a real stethoscope Lance used in PTA school. The pink boxes are sensory. One is filled with cotton balls, one has dry lentils and popcorn kernels and metal magnetic pieces, and the other dry black beans with stars and planets. the fourth box has scoops, spoons, magnets, and other things to play in the boxes with.

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That shelf with the plant on top holds my sewing box, Norah’s drill toy, and our devotional bin. It’s filled with the girls bibles, devotionals, grateful journals, and a jar of popsicle sticks with prayer requests on them. The girls draw two each morning.

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This is our corner with the telescope. We have lots of fun posers thanks to Amazon and Mardel’s.

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We also have another corner of posters that have been so handy for the girls.

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I am a huge advocate of posters. At least one of my girls is a visual learner, and so often, she has learned something just from it being so available to her often.

Then on the other side of the room is where we keep our supplies and my own workspace.

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On the right is a giant pantry, and on that counter is our printer, my sewing machine, and all girls school books.

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On the wall to the left is a large US map, the girls chore charts and necklaces, an space to hang any artwork they’re particularly proud of that day, and our year goals for the school year.

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Then on the right is where we keep the girls bins of their own crayon boxes, scissors, and so on. The flash cards, science and math boxes, and a few other manipulatives.

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Then, inside the pantry is my laminator, manipulatives, and loootttss of art supplies.

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On top of the pantry are bins of wooden large beads with lacing string, mini markers, and musical instruments. In the two drawers, are more craft supplies and wooden puzzles.

And I think that’s about it for a tour. We love it. We spend more time in this room than all other rooms during our weekdays, and I love the freedom it gives them for me to just let them go on whatever artistic whim they have. I wish I could give you a personal tour in person with the intermittent yelling and playing of children, but since I can’t, thanks for following along while I gushed about my favorite room via blog post!

 

 

Homeschool around the world study is really all about the food

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day weekend. We had a lot of fun, and my hunny and I ended it last night with his epic cooking (the boy can cook a steak, y’all) and then I made him answer all sorts of questions from Jennie Allen’s book I’ve been reading Restless.  Because, what’s more fun than eating a lovely meal and spilling your soul across a table? right? exactly. he played along well, and I love how much I learned about him that I didn’t know before even after all these years

So, as you may know, we’re homeschoolers. That comment usually gets an odd look from those not acquainted with it, but from those who do, it usually gets lots of questions like “what curriculum do you use,” and things of that nature. We are a bit different in our own house, simply because I’m super laid back with things…you wouldn’t know that from looking at my array of planners (I have 6 that I use for different things), but I am! So…we use worksheets and curriculum for reading and math, but all the rest is unit study that can change with the wind, y’all. Usually, it changes with whatever my girls are currently interested in. So, for now? We’re pulling London’s love of her geography work into an Around the World unit study. Can I just be transparent? I’m in it for the food.

She loves learning about other cultures, the way they dress, what they look like, what their houses look like…everything. And I love learning about what they eat and mimicking it. We all have our strengths and passions, right? So, we have spent time doing worksheets and crafts and reading and watching documentaries. We have covered Africa, Europe, and North America so far. And while it’s been super fun and we’ve learned a lot, I am loving the meal planning for it. Because 1) I get to incorporate lesson planning and meal planning together and kill two birds and all that. 2) It gets rid of that dreaded, “what should we have for dinner” question. oh my word, do you hate that topic as much as me? 3) it makes me excited about dinner so we are less likely to cheat and eat something cheap and easy, or eat out (eating out is the big one).

So, I just wanted to share some of our favorite finds so far! I’ve had several meals that were okay. One or two we didn’t like at all. Lots that we loved. My heart beats hard now for Chicken Fricassee. I’m not even kidding. We actually ate it when studying North America even though it’s not from this area, because it was Abraham Lincoln’s bday and it was his favorite meal. After making it, I decided I liked him even more. We could be friends, Abe and I..

I have an entire pinterest board here full of our Around the World themed food, but here are some links to my favorite recipes.

From Africa, we really loved these recipes>>> West African Chicken Stew and Ghanaian Jollof Rice and Beef Kabobs (sadly, it did not occur to me to ask people I know who are from Africa or whose parents are for their own amazing recipes until I posted a picture on fb one night and a friend said she’d send me her mom’s recipe! African theme re-do!)

Europe we loved these most>>> Irish Nachos (Oh my word, guys. This is not a drill. Make these. Think American Cheese fries at outback but better.)  Swedish Meatballs, Irish Beef and Stout Stew, Chicken Fricassee (of course), Cornish Game Hen with veloute sauce (VELOUTE SAUCE! that is all.) I feel like I’m missing some favorites. But I am also so incredibly happy to be able to say that we aren’t actually finished with Europe, so there will be much more European favorites I’m sure. The sauce addiction this has created is a serious problem, guys.

North American favorites>>>> Iron Skillet Apple Pie (I should probably be embarrassed to say this, but I make this enough that I don’t even use a recipe anymore. This pie is very forgiving in any mistakes and is SO good. It’s my husband’s favorite dessert so we have it more than we really should but I say it’s all in the name of submission and loving him and serving him and all the other things that make apple pie sound godly)  Mexican Enchiladas, Canadian Poutine, Navajo Tacos with fry bread (I first had navajo tacos on a reservation in Oklahoma years ago. I’ve never been the same since. so. good. Plus, the fry bread is really fun to make with the kids!)

Okay..I feel like that may be enough recipes for now…and only three of the seven continents! (but we all know Antarctica doesn’t count there) Several of these meals will make their way to our regular meal rotation. Also, I’ll reassure you that I don’t do super difficult recipes. ain’t nobody got time for that. These are all very easy meals that do not take forever. In fact! soo many of them are ONE POT MEALS! yay! less dishes!

So, I hope you have a great week! Let me know if you tried any of these, OR BETTER YET, let me know if I may have missed a really great recipe you know about! Exchanging recipes makes me feel like we should sit in my rocking chairs on my deck and knit or garden or something. love you guys <3 I’m off to find something great and American for dinner tonight for President’s Day 🙂

 

 

Refining silver, rock tumblers, and little girls

Hello! So, it’s been a long time, and for that I apologize. Anytime you leave a blog for long, you come back sheepishly ducking your head into the door cheeks red from the embarrassment. It isn’t that I didn’t have things to say! we all know that’s not the reality. and I’m grateful to those of you who contacted me during my short holiday.

It wasn’t really a holiday, of course. It was MOVING. Oh my word, y’all. I’m never moving again. It’s most unfortunate that our bedrooms are all upstairs because I’m still going to be here when I’m old and those stairs may do me in. BUT, fortunately, my husband is a physical therapist so I’ll have me some live-in help until he’s too old too. (If he were here, this is where he would point out that I’m more than a year older than him, and therefore, will be “old” WAY before he will…sigh. men.)

Anywho, we moved! First, I actually rocked the single mom thing for 5 weeks while he lived here and we stayed at the other house. which reminds me, I need to start making my christmas list early this year and include every single mother I have ever known or met. One day, I’ll blog post about all my incredibly over-organized tips I learned from moving. The color coded duct tape to code boxes to rooms instead of hand labeling? YES. MA’AM.

But today, however, I wanted to share another bit of advice, and ask for yours in return. News flash: I am not perfect. and guess what? my kids sure aren’t either. I may be wrong, but I feel like homeschooling gives us a little more insight into that lately…because, we NEVER leave each other. We do have a lot more space in this house compared to the 950 sq ft in our last house, but people still share bedrooms here. We still have three meals a day together. We still do chores together, school together, and play together. I made the mistake of tallying it up this morning while doing dishes and realized that I do dishes for 3 meals a day, for 5 people. That’s 15 place settings a day. That’s over 100 plates or bowls or whatever that particular meal called for!

I’m not gonna lie….sometimes, that makes me grumpy. and sometimes, sisters who live with each other this much day in and day out get a little grumpy too. Which….makes me grumpy. and the cycle can quickly spin out of control until I am sitting in the living room floor completely losing my cool over board games not put away correctly!!!! ahem. so…we’re not perfect.

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God says in His word so so much about this topic, but my favorite verse on it has always been Malachi 3:3 when is says He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. A refiner is someone, like a silversmith, who will continually put his work into the fire to boil up the impurities, remove it to work on it, then put it back in again. Over and over again until basically, it is so shiny he can see his reflection in it. See where He was going with that in His word? He continuously places us into the fire, or the difficulties in our lives, to bring out those impurities while he is careful with us, always watching and protecting and never leaving us in too long. He molds and corrects, until the finished product one day will be a masterpiece of His that reflects Him completely.

Beautiful, right? When I first fell in love with this image, I was single and had no children or husband. The words of this promise washed over me and it helped that I was just so darn spiritual. Now, most days I still love the image, but some days, the image of it all makes me cringe. He is faithful to continue His good work in us, even if that’s uncomfortable and means I have to go apologize to my girls for going mommy psycho over board games.

But the truth is, what refines me the most is living in the midst of their sin. In their natural selfishness that says, “I don’t care that I’m not currently playing with it, I still don’t want to share it.” Or with their lack of compassion that means they don’t see me working hard for them already, they still have more demands to make. I feel like I have some of my own sin finally under control, only for the friction of their sin rubbing up against mine enough to unleash it. And boy, is my sin bigger than their’s. It’s like having a bunch of baby cows all in the house being annoying yet slightly cute while they’re messing stuff up. Then eventually, the giant bull comes in charging and breaking everything. …..I really have no idea where the cow to sin analogy came from, but I’m leaving it in. It’s fantastic.

But, the reason their sin can get to me so easily, is because often, I forget that they aren’t perfect. I forget that they are unrefined in their youth. And that’s when I have to pull out my bracelets and wear them around. Last year, I bought myself three bracelets. They are raw stones on a cheap stretchy band. I have one made of raw amethyst, one of sapphire, and one of ruby. They were super cheap. Why? Because they are unrefined and unpurified. If I were to throw them into a tumbler, they could stay in for a looonnggg time and eventually come out as tiny, beautiful, jewels. Then, the world would see them as valuable. But, they are valuable to me right now, because they are the birthstones of my girls. My beautiful, precious unrefined jewels. One day, after a looonnnggg time in this rock tumbler of a home and bigger rock tumbler of a world, they will slowly become refined. But for now, they’ve only just entered the first phase of their tumbling. They beat against one another and me, all day long. And that hurts, and it’s uncomfortable, and annoying. But, weeks and months pass, and I notice a small shiny spot on one of us that wasn’t there before. Someone gave compassion where they previously would not have. Someone shared a toy without being asked. Mama took a deep breath and swallowed her words. And we’re one step closer to reflecting His face.

What about you? What helps you to take a step back and remember to breathe? What reminds you to give grace?

When clocks slow down-A season of Renewal

We are one week into our summer break from school, and honestly, I feel like I’m waking up from a very long slumber. Things haven’t exactly slowed down completely. Our church activities are still in full swing, I’m still teaching, Lance is still playing and in school, and I’ve focused lots of energy into a new book. But, I’m waking up.

The biggest difference in our days has been the flip from school time to outside play time. I think those moments when all three girls are occupied and the youngest is safe and not attempting some death defying stunt from the ladder or trampoline, I have been able to sit and just…be. And that has made the difference. I’ve talked a lot about my “word of the year” through a Friday series, and this year my particular word is “renew.”

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Here it is April, and that word has led me down so many paths already. My last word was “love” and it felt like swimming against currents in a raging ocean so often. This year, renew feels so different. It is like following a stream through a lovely forest, only to stop every so often wondering if you’ve gone too far into the forest to find your way out if necessary. It’s been illuminating and peace giving, while also unsettling and uncomfortable.

In the last few weeks, the Holy Spirit has been renewing my marriage and relationship with my children. (Read that: the Spirit has been renewing my own heart and attitude toward them.) Creeping over to that inviting stream and gazing down at the reflection looking back at me hasn’t been easy to swallow each time, but each time I travel further down that path and creep back over, the reflection is less unsettling. The girl in the reflection looks more peaceful, with kinder eyes and a more loving disposition the the reflection I saw on the beginning of the journey. And maybe that’s why I keep on this path, though it’s taken me into some frightful areas and made me so uncomfortable at times…I want to keep going when I know that with each new peak over that edge, the reflection will look less and less like the one before.

In this new season, I bypass all the constant lists and fears of what my child should be learning and whether she’s in the right place. Instead, I pull out an old recipe for blueberry buckle to surprise my hunny and let the girls run barefoot outside while it bakes. I bypass all the articles about current events or the newest hot topic, and instead, seek out old blogs I haven’t looked at in forever…blogs that make me want to learn to can my own jam and slow down my life. In this season, I skip over the to do list in favor of the grateful list, and add each day

  • 456. muddy boots kicked off little feet
  • 457. stepping over a sleeping dog
  • 458. petals gone, green leaves there now

It’s an intentional season. A season of making choices and deciding that what I see and hear can be transformed mentally, before it hits my heart. I can choose joy. I can choose love. I can choose renewal.

Sibling Fellowship

Sibling Fellowship

There’s always a lot going on. That’s true for everyone’s lives and I’m no different. Here, we’re trucking through the last straightaway of my husband’s school. Then, there’s the lesson plans to make for my oldest daughter, and now the middle has decided she needs to be included in homeschooling because she added in “learn to read” onto her new year’s resolution list. (BTW, moms, New Year’s Resolution lists are cute for kids, but it didn’t occur to me until AFTER we posted them to the fridge that I would be flipping the bill to make those happen for the most part. Maybe they’ll let me sway their lists more next year *grin*) So, now there’s double the lesson plans and teaching. There’s the wrapping up of the book and a new project I’ve been working on. And then all the regular things too.

Cultivating  Sibling Fellowship

But do you know what I spend the largest percentage of my time working on? Sibling Fellowship. I’ve dubbed the relationship between my children with that title in an attempt to remind myself of the real goal.  If I don’t remember it like that, I will replace the goal with something more like “peace and quiet” or “no fighting and a clean house.” Continue reading