Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homeschooling when you have a Small Space

We live in a fairly small house(3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, and about 1000 square feet.)

It works for us in this season of life we are in, as we try to pay off student loan debt and save money, but there are certainly times when I find myself drooling over friends homeschool rooms.

Thankfully, though, now that we have been homeschooling for a couple of years we have figured out a few things that work for us.

We don't have a lot of closet space, and what closet space we do have is used for clothes, toys, and bedding. For awhile, I would keep all of our school books in one big tote on the floor of the pantry in our kitchen. 

Yes, I just said on the pantry floor of my kitchen..I can't believe I just admitted to you all that I actually did that....have I mentioned that organization is not my strong point?!

Obviously that method didn't work very well. Not only was it frustrating trying to find all the papers and books that we needed every day, but also random food crumbs(among other things) would occasionally fall into the school tote.

If you have ever looked into homeschool curriculum you know that it's not cheap, and that food is one of the last things you want all over your books(especially if you're like me, and plan on using them at least five more times in the coming years!;)

Thankfully, my husband was blessed with the organized, type A personality genes, and happily stepped in and helped me figure out a system that works. The first thing he did was install some shelves in our room.

Then with some baskets we already had, we designated each basket to a subject. Right now, since I'm only doing "official" school with Anna and Jack I just keep their books together. Each basket has their math, spelling/english, and history. I also keep a stack of books for science and art next to the school books.

One of the harder things about living in a smaller house when you homeschool, is that often the entire house gets messy, and needs cleaned up every day. Case in point:

But, then again, one of the benefits of living in a smaller house is that it gets cleaned up pretty fast, too. Especially when you have five willing helpers. :)

Most of our actual school work gets done in the kitchen. Which works really well for us, since I spend a lot of my time in there anyways.

I keep a marker board and some old windows hung up in the kitchen, and write on them with dry erase markers for our calendar, scripture memory, and copy work sentences.

And about every other week, I order a huge stack of books from the library that have to do with whatever we are studying that week. Which keeps things budget friendly and cuts down on the clutter around here.

It's definitely been a process figuring out what works for us, and learning how to utilize our space, but I'm so thankful we have figured out some things that work well for us right now.

If you homeschool, I'd love to hear how you "do school" at your house. Do you have a school room? Do you just use your kitchen? I'd love to hear!

Monday, December 15, 2014

All Because of a 2.00 Jar

Sunday afternoon found me roaming the aisles of Trader Joe's. Going to Trader Joe's is definitely a rare treat for me since it's about 30 minutes from my house...and also because, while admittedly the prices are better than most grocery stores, they aren't what, say, Aldi's prices are. And since I'm feeding a small army here, Aldi is almost always where I do our grocery shopping.

But I digress.

So, Sunday afternoon, after spending a fun afternoon in the city with my husband and kids, Erik suggested we stop by Trader Joe's and see if we couldn't get a few things. I happily agreed, gave myself a budget of twenty dollars, and ran in to see what I could stock up on(and promised myself I wouldn't spend it all on cookie butter!)

Just as I was finishing up I stumbled across some masala sauce. I love Indian food, and since I had enough money in my 20.00 budget I decided to buy it.

Later that night, as Erik and I were finally sitting down to eat dinner, an idea occurred to me.

"Tomorrow night is going to be Indian night!" I declared. "Tomorrow we will learn about India. We will have the kids dress up like people in India do...and maybe we can find a recipe for naan!"

And that's exactly what we did. We talked about what continent India was in, and discussed the Taj Mahal.

We looked at pictures of people who lived over there. We listened to the type of music they might listen to over in India during dinner.

We made Naan.

Before dinner we prayed for the people in India, and for the missionaries over there. Which allowed us to briefly talk about different religions, and how not everyone has heard the gospel, and about how not everyone believes in Jesus.

And, perhaps the best part- at least for my girls- was dressing up. Especially since dressing up in traditional Indian garb meant wearing a lot of jewelry.

Lily was so proud. Max was happy for her, but wanted nothing to do with changing out of his dragon costume. :)

Just a sheet, some scarves, and all of mama's jewelry. And, of course, your little brother dressed as a dragon looking out for you.

And what would Indian night be without some henna tattoos?

Such a fun, simple, and educational night. And it was all because of a $2.00 jar.

Linked to Titus 2 & The Modest Mom 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Thanksgiving that Almost Didn't Happen


I woke up to this song early Thanksgiving morning, being sung(loudly) by my six year old daughter. Smiling to myself I rolled over wondering how much longer I could stay in bed before Anna's song woke up the rest of the house.

Right as I was having that thought, though, Jack came running into our room, sobbing saying he had just gotten sick, and was about to be sick again.

Lily(who had been sleeping on the floor of our bedroom) shot up, cheeks flushed with a fever, and immediately started crying that she was about to be sick too.

Luke, who had been up all night sick with a fever, was in his crib screaming for someone to come get him.

Max- who wasn't sick- was pulling Erik's arm to get up and "come have Thanksgiving."

And Anna was in the next room declaring her undying love for Thanksgiving.

As Erik was getting out of bed, I couldn't help but giggle at the chaos going around us. This was going to be an interesting day, to be sure!

But first, let me back up a bit, to the day before. Wednesday morning, I woke up to something very strange.


Like, no one was awake. And it was 7:30. This never happens in my world.

I crept out of bed, wondering how much time I had before little heads started peaking out of their rooms asking for breakfast, but decided to take a chance and try to drink a cup of coffee before the day began. And it was going to be a crazy day. We were suppose to go to the store, finish up Christmas gifts that we were making for my sister in law and her family, and get everyone packed and ready to go for our road trip to my inlaws house, where we were suppose to be spending Thanksgiving.

Erik was just as surprised as I was that no one was up yet, and on his way out the door he made the comment that he hoped no one was sick.

Sick? On Thanksgiving? No way. I mean, Anna had been sick on Sunday. And we had taken the kids to the Magic House over the weekend. And the grandparents had been in town and taken them to McDonalds for lunch. But. Still. This was Wednesday. Anna had been fine since Monday, and no one else had acted remotely sick.

But, as you probably have guessed, that didn't matter. As kids started staggering out of their beds, it seemed like maybe everyone had just been tired, but when Jack still hadn't woke up-despite his two younger brothers whom he shares a room with getting up- I finally tried to get him to wake up, and sure enough he had a fever.

As the day went on, it became clear that Jack was definitely sick, and that there was no way we could take him to my inlaws Thursday. So the next thing we had to decide was, whether or not we were going to try and have a thanksgiving dinner just our little family. What if more kids got sick? What if we got sick? Would we even be able to find a turkey this late in the week, and also I know nothing about cooking turkeys.

But being the holiday junkie I am, I told Erik I wanted to try. And being the wonderful man he is, he took my list, Anna, Lily, and Max, and ran all over town getting all the food we needed- and if you've ever been to the grocery store the night before Thanksgiving, you know that's love. :)

The girls and I made some pies Wednesday night. The kids finally went to bed around 10 that night. But a couple hours later Luke and Lily were up sick.

But you know, even with all the sickness, even though things didn't work out the way I had planned, we still had a nice day together. The kids stayed in their jammies, and Erik introduced the kids to the cartoon version of the Hobbit. Erik got to carve the turkey for the first time, and I got to experience cooking a turkey for the first time-the kids decided to name it beasty. :)

We had plenty of food, and have been enjoying the leftovers for the last few days so I haven't had to cook anything since Thursday, which is always nice. When the Thanksgiving dinner was over, Lily and I snuggled up in my bed and took a long nap, then watched the pioneer woman on Netflix.

So yes, thanksgiving wasn't a total disaster. It was actually really nice(despite the sickness.)

But, still, the week before Christmas we aren't going anywhere. ;)

Linked to the Modest Mom & A Wise Woman Build Her Home.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mommy's Always With Me!

My wonderfully talented and creative husband painted this picture of me a few years ago. For the last couple of years it has hung in our hallway, but today in the chaos that is mornings around here, it fell.

And since my house tends to be ridiculously loud(what a shock, right?!) I didn't even hear or notice that it wasn't on the wall anymore. 

That is, until Anna came and got me. She started excitedly pulling on my hand, begging me to come with her to her room so I could see her new "decoration."

I followed her into the girls room, where she proudly showed me that she had hung my picture right next to her top bunk(there was a nail already there, I did not let my six year old hammer a nail into the wall...just throwing that out there.;)

I told her I thought it looked great, and then I asked her if she wanted me to move it back to the hallway later.

To which she said,"Oh no, mommy. I want your picture right next to me, that way I don't ever have to worry about having bad dreams because now you're always with me!"

Goodness, she's cute. :)

HeartFELT Truth Advent Calendar Review

Christmas came early to my house this weekend.. and we were all thrilled that it did!
Recently HeartFELT Truths sent my kiddos and I one of their beautiful advent calendars to review. Since I am always on the look out for kid friendly, Bible based items, I was thrilled to get the opportunity. All the materials are made of felt, and based on the Christmas story from Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2. The idea is to read a small section of the Christmas story each day from December 1 through December 25 to your children. Then when the reading is over have one of you kids place  a new character that they just heard about on the felt board. By the time December 25 arrives, your children will more than likely be able to retell the entire Christmas story back to you!

Read the rest of this review over at Raising Homemakers!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Anna Turns 6!

Ok, I think my mama heart has had just about all it can take with birthdays. Seriously, basically having at least one birthday a month from February-August is crazy. Who even does that? ;)

And not only that, but man is it hard to watch your babies grow up and realize that all those comments about kids growing up so fast are true! However, I will say that even though it's hard, it's also a lot of fun watching them grow into their own personalities and start developing their own interests.

All this to say is that my sweet Anna, my first daughter, and my second child, crossed over into bigger kid territory last Friday and turned six.

The night before her birthday we made some birthday cake cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, regular cake, and decorated. When she woke up this is what she was able to see when she came out of her room:

Yes, we continued the new tradition of writing on the balloons all the things we loved about the birthday person. It was pretty cute because Jack kept reminding me to do that, and even asked to help. :)

For Anna's birthday party we went to a local splash pad(it was HOT that day) and met up with a few friends. I was pleasantly surprised to see that these cupcakes looked quite a bit like Frozen themed cupcakes. :)

After a busy day at the splash park, we all came home for naps/rest, and then once Erik got home we took Anna out for her much anticipated birthday present...getting her ears pierced! All she has talked about for the last few months was wanting to get her ears pierced so Erik and I told her she could get it done on her birthday. We warned her that it would hurt a little bit, but she was too excited to really care about that. Poor Jack got really sad when it was time for her to get them done, though. He was afraid Anna would get hurt, so Erik took him on a walk around the mall so that he wouldn't have to see it happen.

After getting her ears pierced and eating some waffles for dinner, we had birthday cake. I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a cake decorator, but making a purple cake and sticking some My Little Pony's didn't prove to be too difficult for me. :) 

Happy sixth birthday, sweet Anna! I can't wait to see how God uses you and works in you life...but if you could stop growing up so fast that'd be great too! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughts on Homeschooling Last Year

I can hardly believe that we've already finished two whole years of homeschool, and that we are about to start our third year in this crazy adventure.

I really thought by this point I'd at least have a little bit of wisdom to offer, and that I wouldn't still be such a major curriculum junkie. Or at the very least, that I'd have a good routine for it down.

Unfortunately, though, I can't really say that I have accomplished any of those things. As much as I believe that our family has been called to homeschool, and as much as I love the idea of being with my kids and learning along side them day in day and day out, I'll admit that it doesn't always come very naturally to me.

However, I will say that this past year of homeschooling was much(MUCH) better than the previous. Apparently being new to an area and having a baby in the middle of the school year can be stressful(who knew?)

This past year we used My Father's World for both first grade and kindergarten, and then we supplemented in the spring semester with classical conversations. I can't say enough about how much I love both of these programs. And more importantly, Jack and Anna both really loved them.

Classical Conversations is great because you get to be around other homeschooling families, and your kids get to be around other kids their own age. It also takes care of the science experiments and crafty stuff that I might not always make enough time for at home.

My Father's World turned out to be exactly what I had been looking for at the beginning of last year. I really felt like I needed something that would tell me what to do every day, and that's exactly what MFW does. It also gives a lot of cute ideas for crafts(which is not my area of expertise) and provides some wonderful book choices.

Most importantly, though, it's very Bible centered. And not only is it Bible centered, but they make  it so that the kids really enjoy learning about the Bible. Every day this past year, Jack had a Bible and a Bible notebook that he wrote in, and he never complained about it, in fact he really enjoyed doing it. He tells everyone that the Bible is his favorite book. :)

My main struggles with homeschooling this past year was keeping the younger kids entertained while we did school(there were many days I'd give up trying to keep Lily and Max entertained, and tell them to go play in the kitchen sink until we were done), and sticking to a routine. Some weeks we'd do great sticking to one, and other weeks...we... wouldn't do so great.

I'm really looking forward to starting school again, though. We've had a nice break this summer, but now I'm ready to get back into it. And, of course, the break has been long enough that I keep envisioning perfectly beautiful school days with Max and Luke sitting quietly on their blankets playing with their special toys while I patiently teach a math lesson to the older kids(ha!)

Maybe it would be more realistic to do school during the little boys nap time? However, if that vision ever becomes a reality, I'll be sure to let you know and share all my secrets. :)

Linked to the Modest Mom.

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