Friday, July 30, 2010

A dedicated school room, at last!!

As strange as this may sound, I still can't believe we have lived in this house for a full seven months already; it still all feels so new and unbelievable that God would take us from the 900 square foot apartment we (and five children) lived in just two and a half short years ago to THIS.  It is beyond what we ever thought we'd have, to be honest, and it's *just about* everything we've dreamed of for our family.  We just never get tired of saying how absolutely giddy with gratitude we are for the opportunity to set our family's roots down here, and for the provisions God has made not only for Pete's job, but for the desires of our hearts.  It is humbling to think that our piddly little prayers were actually answered with a resounding "Absolutely, and then some"!!

With August only a day and a half away and talk of back-to-school sales, tax holidays, and all manner of things school-related, I am being made ever more aware of a blessing in this house that God really saw fit to shock my socks off with--a space we have never had before--a real, dedicated school room!  FINALLY, a place for all that STUFF!!!!

Our homeschool journey began in yet another one of those 900-square-foot apartments in Germany, twelve years ago.  We only had two children, but that space was still pretty tight; especially when you consider that our dining room doubled as our school room AND our mock-office.  Believe it or not, our current kitchen is bigger than that dining room was.  Yet somehow, we fit a dining room table, four chairs, a computer desk, and four bookshelves in it.  We've not really had much more space for our home school "stuff" since then; we had a wee bit more space in the duplex we lived in on base before we bought this house, but it was still a shared space, combined with the girls' playroom.

Not so anymore.  It used to be a "formal" dining room, but we use what was previously the informal den (with a fireplace) for our dining room, so we have space to spare!  True, I do keep my scrapbooking supplies and some other craft items in our school room, but it's a room I've just fallen in love with, and Pete already knows not to even bother asking if the room will ever serve a "manly" purpose.....I'm going to be just a bit selfish and claim this room as MY territory to use for a library, school room, craft space....oh, all things girly.  He'll be okay; he's got his office space complete with a "me" wall in the bonus room.

I've been working on getting the school room set up in a way that works well for us since we moved in, and I *think* I've finally got it "there".  You'll have to pardon what there is left of a mess; I still have a couple of boxes of books to pass on to homes that can use them--we're not going to have any high school students in our home for a FEW more years.  Oh, and the girls really love to "help" me be sure I've got everything in the appropriate bins and shelves by taking everything out behind me, so I'm sure if you look hard enough, you'll find SOMETHING that needs to be put away.  But here's the work in progress, mostly finished and almost ready to begin that first day of first grade--I'm really hoping that nothing monumental comes up this weekend so I can finish my planning session and get started on Monday!

First, the wall that backs up to the living room; to the immediate left are two doorways--to the kitchen and living room.  To the right of the tall bookshelf, a window.  My scrapbook and crafting supplies are in the wall shelf and the tall shelf in this picture.  There is also a "Tell Me About Today" wall hanging, plus a really nifty Crayola dry erase ruled sticky sheet on the wall.  The girls' individual bins are in that little nine-section cube shelf.  Yes, I have my girls color-coded.  Morgan is pink, Jamie purple, Danica blue, Shelby green.  Kasey doesn't have a color yet--probably yellow, though.
Next up, the opposite wall.  Odd, but I don't have our school table in any of these pictures; it's directly below the flag wall hanging.  I guess I'll need better pictures.  Anyway, I lined the top of the room with character-word printouts (I'm sorry, I'll have to do some MAJOR digging to figure out where I printed them out from, but I know it was from an online source....) that have 26 different virtues to study during the year.  I like!
Last for now is the wall opposite the window; this wall has our sign language alphabet chart, Danica and Shelby's table (even though you can't see it down there), plus our duck pond flannelboard for Rod & Staff Math 1.  Let me just say that while it bebuggered Jamie to the Nth degree that I made half of the ducks facing left while the other half face right, I just LOVE our duckies and their pond!!!  I think the flannelboard is just too stinkin' cute, even if I do say so myself!

This was just a little bit of the work I've done in the schoolroom; I've got lots more to blog about as we get going on this school year...but one thing at a time, right?  Shoot, I'm just overwhelmed that I HAVE a schoolroom!

The timer's running!

So....I've spent the last three days with my mornings fully anti-internet.  Actually, this is the first day I've gotten online before dinnertime; mostly because my to-do list is on hold while Shelby and Kasey nap.  I've even employed the use of a handy anti-computing device, see?
I can't believe all that I've accomplished without this little time-zapper dictating my free time. 

I shall simply have to SHOW you.....but not today.  I put myself on an internet timer (or, rather an oven timer as my cookies bake) and my nine minutes and forty-five seconds is up!

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rescheduling myself first!

This Sunday marks the beginning of something semi-frightening....August.  Why frightening?  Well.....I'd hoped to start a new precedent this school year and begin earlier rather than waiting till Labor Day as I always have.  Problem is....


I just have too much left to do!  Can I GET ready in a week's time!?  Sure I can, but not sitting in front of the computer first thing in the morning.  I've become accustomed to sipping my coffee while browsing through everyone's daily updates on Facebook, then reading a few blogs while the girls play happily behind me (it helps that we moved things around and now have the "office" in the bonus room right next to their play area!); BUT........that just simply will NOT work if I want to get anything accomplished before, oh, NOON.  Facebook is addictive, blogs are addictive, and the girls are just all too willing to play ALL day and let Mom veg out.  NOT GOOD for any of us.

I'm slipping.  Time to fix that.

I'm also beginning a period of self-re-education using Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well-Educated Mind and one of the suggestions she makes in that book is to dedicate time to study in the morning, not the evening, since post-dinner time allotments are best devoted to light activities.  It's going to be best for me to use my nighttime downtime for lighter mental engagements such as email, Facebook, and blogging.

I know what you're thinking, but this is NOT going to turn into another blog break.  To the contrary, I'm actually going to carve out real time in my schedule for blogging!  I need it for my sanity!

Starting tomorrow, my morning coffee-time is going to be devoted to my own personal investments--God and mind.  Armor polishing, sword sharpening, and brain exercising!

I bit off more than I could paint.

It was a lofty goal, I'll say that much. This is a picture of our dining room the day we looked at the house the last time before putting in our purchase offer.  You'll notice the dark (faux) wood paneling just sucks every bit of light out of the room, while the little bit of white below the chair rail doesn't do much other than make it look, well, ridiculous.  What you can't see is that the baseboards, chair rail, and molding (I wouldn't call it "crown) at the ceiling are all a dark, DARK hunter green that literally disappears into the cavern of brown.  It was awful, to say the least.  I wish I'd gotten better pictures of the window, but the one I did get, all you could see was a big sunburst-type light with no definition because the light from outside just seemed completely out of place in such a dark room.  There is also a hunter green door leading to the backyard, to the far right of the picture (out of frame), and you can make out the ugly brown hearth and a built-in bookshelf complete with avocado green laminate countertop on the left of the picture.
Awful, isn't it?  Can you imagine trying to eat dinner in there, when there's barely enough light to see what's on your fork?

You won't believe what that room looks like now.  It's not done yet, and it's been about three months in the works, considering I'm the ONLY one doing any of the painting, but the transformation is just AMAZING.  For starters, the chair rail is gone.  That was a decision that didn't come easily...but I finally figured that it just didn't belong there.  The fake paneling was bad enough; no sense "accentuating" the fake-ness with a badly-done chair rail that was just way too low.  Eventually, when we get the more important projects done (like the bathrooms), the room will be stripped of all paneling and we'll put drywall up.  For now, though, the room just needed brightening up!

It is now a beautifully sunny yellow color, with a white trim!  It was NOT easy.  Probably three coats of primer and three coats of paint everywhere, and now that I've pulled the blue painter's tape off of the wall protecting it from trim paint, I have a bunch of bare sections where the paint pulled completely away from the paneling underneath.  ARGH!!  It's okay, that's what touch-up brushes are for...

I still haven't touched that bookshelf and its ridiculously ugly countertop; I've got to wait till I can stand to have the back door open long enough to paint it; and the fireplace....oh my.  THAT will be an undertaking, considering it's been closed off for ten years and we have no IDEA what we're in for when that piece of wood comes off...other than to know we have pink brick behind it.  Yes, PINK.

I'm no pro; that's for sure.  And while it does look pretty good, it's taking FAR more work than I ever imagined it would to bring this dining room into the current century and out of the "dark" ages...pun intended.  Pictures are coming!

Monday, July 26, 2010

I don't miss it.

Three and a half weeks ago, hubby, kids and I left town to spend the Independence Day weekend with his dad.  Somehow, my cell phone not only got left behind, but apparently, it got lonely and ran away from home.  It never made it out of the house with any of us, but it's also nowhere to be found!

You want to know something truly shocking?

I don't miss it.

I don't miss being at the world's beck and call at every minute of every day, no matter what I'm doing or where I am.  I don't mind in the slightest having to take a list and depend on memory to tell me whether or not we have mayonnaise in the fridge when I go out shopping.  In fact, buying more mayonnaise when I really didn't need it turned out to be a GOOD thing, because I ran out at a rather inconvenient time!

I don't have Facebook mobile, but I know many, MANY people who do, and I really don't think I'd miss being alerted every single time someone updated their status.  I truly DO have better things to do with my day than spend it staring at a phone.

Like LIVE my life.

Do you remember when people actually talked (gasp--IN PERSON) instead of instant messaging, chatting online, or exchanging two hundred badly-worded, grammatically-horrific text messages over the course of the day?  Do you remember when the biggest distraction in your car was the Big Gulp in your lap?

I miss THAT.  No...not distractions.  I miss the lack of distractions--when we were free to just LIVE without some silly ring tone reminding us that the instant world was simply going to collapse if we put the phone DOWN and just interacted with the people we were there in the room with.  I miss when it was rude to interrupt a meal with a phone call.  I miss when people sitting in a restaurant were all talking to each other.  I miss not having announcements before every movie and church service REMINDING people that they needed to turn off their cell phones...and the inevitable ring tone that interrupts the movie and church service anyway, because someone forgot.

Can you just IMAGINE if, for some strange reason, the United States encountered a nationwide media blackout for ONE FULL DAY????

Oh, the horrors!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Well all-righty then!

So.....I get a message from the Cutest Blog on the Block that my previous blog theme was being deleted.....

Here we are--simplicity. Standard Blogger theme. Maybe IT won't go anywhere.

Ya think?

As far as my writer's block goes, this really was the right time of year to have it; there has been not a single five minutes of any day to actually do any blogging in anyway! I'm writing this as I wait for everyone to be finished with breakfast so we can get moving and head off to the commissary for the weekend's groceries (and you read that right; I have still not planned adequately enough to have ALL of my grocery shopping done)!

I don't think we've had a "down" day for a week, come to think of it. Maybe next week?

One of these days, I've got to scrounge up some semi-free time so I can get some lesson planning done, if I want to stick to my schedule of starting school the first week in August. I've started all the other years the week after Labor Day....and as I stare at the calendar disappearing before my eyes, I remember all too vividly WHY I did things that way. I do at least have most of the school room arranged the way I want it; there's still a mountain of books atop the table in there, because I'm still weeding through what I have no reason to keep for twelve more years till the younger girls can grow into books the older two used in high school. The bookworm in me is in agony every time I take a book off of the shelf and box it up. She'll be okay; we still have to educate five more children!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Writer's block, 2010 edition

I've got all these thoughts running through my head, all clamoring to get out, and for some reason my brain isn't cooperating. This happened a few years ago and resulted in a major life-altering realization, so maybe, just MAYBE God has a plan in mind for this as well...but for right now, I'm sure I'm definitely not all that inspiring or interesting.

Read, study, and meditate, that's what I need to be doing right about now. Perhaps that will quiet my mind enough for me to think in an organized manner?
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