Our Homeschool Room

AUG 3, 2012

It is that time of year when we start cleaning, organizing, and getting ready for the new school year. I thought I’d share what our homeschool room looked this past school year. These pictures were taken back in February using my iPod Touch. It still looks the same but much much more messy. :)

As you walk into the room, this is what you see. The shelves to the left of the table contain our religious and reference books. The table is where The Littles and I work together on seat work. Sitting on the shelves just beyond the table, I have a banker’s paper box for construction paper and the drawers hold coloring books, stencils, etc. No crayons, colored pencils, paints, etc. As much as I’d love to have art supplies out all the time for Strawberry and Little Man, the youngest would open and dump EVERYthing out. I haven’t figured a way around that yet.

To the immediate right of the door sits Kaybear’s desk with her Ikea Trofast workboxes next to her. Kody likes to visits her a lot.

Moving down the right wall, you’ll see our huge whiteboard, our calendar, and Explode the Code phonics chart. On or above the whiteboard, I’ll put up the letter of the week or Verita Press timeline cards or anything really. On top of the shelves is a puzzle rack, pencil holders, books we are currently reading, buckets of ABC blocks and magnetic letters, an abacus, and our Replogle Atlantis Globe. The shelves below hold literature.

In the far right corner is a bean bag and United States map. The bookshelves hold history, geography, and science books. Next to the bean bag is a lime green basket of library books. The hopscotch rug gets used a lot in the winter.

On the far west wall lies this window bench. Kody has claimed it as his personal space during lessons. I picked up those colorful pillows on clearance at the end of 2011 summer. You can’t see them, but matching the turquoise striped pillows are some orange and hot pink striped ones on the bench. There are 8 or 9 throw pillows for lounging. Unfortunately, the main window beach cushion doesn’t match the rest of the room and I’m not sure where I can (cheaply) buy something different. So we just ignore it. lol

If you sat on the window bench, you’d see this:

Little Tiger can reach his Plan Toy Geometric Board and our nature display can be viewed. More books we were currently reading were on display on the shelf as well. Too bad my poinsettia didn’t last much longer after this photo was taken.

Moving to the far left corner, you’ll find our loveseat for cuddling and reading aloud as well as our world map. There is a bulletin board for displaying the kids’ artwork. This area is much different in that I used browns to go with the nature-y theme. Some throw pillows and another bean bag on the floor allow for independent reading. These weren’t used all that much, though. The window bench or loveseat were the popular reading spots.

h look! On the loveseat are my orange/pink pillows from the window bench. Those pillows end up everywhere! lol

Backing up to the rear of the couch is my little desk area and shelf. This is clean. Something my desk currently is not. You can’t even see my laminator under piles of books and papers now. ;)

Behind my desk (not pictured) is a storage closet and to the left of that, next to the door, are The Littles’ workboxes. Strawberry and Little Man share the tall Ikea Trofast and Little Tiger has the small Trofast to himself. I have some teaching posters on the Creation on the wall and we have a Panasonic CD player to listen to audio lessons and music.

The room is colorful with turquoise, lime green, hot pink, and crisp white as the color scheme despite the forest green walls. (We rent and are not allowed to repaint the walls.) The curtains, buckets in the Trofasts, bean bags, baskets, and ribbon memo boards are all in bright colors while the Ikea Expedit shelves and my desk provide that clean crispness to the room.

At the time, I wanted something cheerful, bright, and colorful. Lately, ever since reading The Thread on the WTM forum and emails from the spinoff Yahoo group, I’ve been contemplating bringing more of the Good, True, and Beautiful in our home. I have been considering making some changes to this room in particular. I’d like it to look less like a classroom and more Beautiful. I’m just unsure how… especially since so much time, effort, and money was put into the current design.

How would you rearrange the furniture and what would you put up on the walls? Would you soften the room up with earthy colors or do the bright colors work just fine? If this was your room, what would *you* do with it? :-D

Hello out there…

MAY 29, 2012

Knock, knock.

— waits —

*crickets chirp*

Anyone there? A knock knock joke is no good without an audience.

It has been (too) long a time since the last blog post. Seriously… where has the time gone? We’ve been incredibly busy. As I noted on our photoblog, my camera is gone. I only have an iPod Touch camera, which stinks in quality. So any new posts will be quite plain. :)

What have we been up to?

Hubby has been working hard. He is on a project that really needs 3 full time engineers yet it is just him. We are blessed that he has a job but it has been extremely stressful on all of us. We’re praying for endurance for him to survive until the completion of this project. For good news, he has completed 2 classes towards his Master’s degree. 3.6 GPA so far! This last class was his hardest yet. The professor was lacking in teaching skills. He didn’t use a book. He strayed off to rabbit trails often. And knowing what was on the test or even what the professor was looking for was Hubby’s biggest challenge. The finals was a 2 question, 12 hour exam. He was sure he failed. He still doesn’t know what his final grade was but apparently, it was enough for his GPA to be a 3.6. Hubby was definitely happy with that!

Kaybear has been busy with math, math, and more math. Oh, we do other things but math is her challenge. She demonstrates the ability to grasp it… but she hates it all the same. She also has been working at the barn 2 days a week. Sometimes more. She mucks stalls, cleans the barn, trains horses, rides horses, and whatever else Ann-Marie tells her to do. She loves it. She is such a physical girl that barn duty is right up her alley!

Kaybear with Meeko

Strawberry has been practicing reading and dancing. She has taken an interest in bird watching as well. We bought a bird feeder and I am putting together a bird journal for her to record her observations. In 3 weeks, she has her dance recital for ballet and jazz. She wants to continue dancing but we are unsure where to go. We disagree with the music choice, dance moves, and the attire that the older girls wear. I have also noticed that she hasn’t really been learning classical ballet moves. Class has been sporadic in its teaching and more fun and games than learning. There is one place that we really like but it is over an hour away. Oh! And did I mention she got her ears pierced! :D

Little Man and Little Tiger have been busy being boys. Little Man has been learning to read and Little Tiger has perfected his demolition skills. He has earned the nicknames ToddlerZilla and Destructo Boy.

The Boys

Rhythm has spent the last 2 weeks at Ann-Marie’s. Kaybear wanted to practice her canter leads in an arena. As beautiful as the area is at our house, a flat area to practice core riding skills is lacking. We also wanted to give Rhythm an opportunity to graze on a pasture of grass… another thing lacking here. We actually have a nice big pasture of rolling hills. The problem is the resident horse, Cisco, is mean. He has been “wild” for probably 18 years or more. The landlords can’t even have his feet trimmed unless he is tranquilized. He bites, he charges after you, and has no respect for the boundaries of a fence or a human. So we have this unvaccinated, unwormed, ill-kept, mean spirited horse that we don’t even own to deal with. Gosh… and he seemed nice when we were looking at the house to rent.

Gina's babies

Kody has been in dog training at Blue Sky Retrievers. He is currently home for a week “vacation”. The trainer has commented that Kody is a “spoiled knucklehead” and the “2nd hardest dog” he’s ever trained. He said Kody was very smart, though. He is constantly thinking of ways to get out of doing what is commanded! He has the makings of a champion hunter… if he can get over his stubbornness. That stubbornness must be a family trait. ;)

Bubbles and Gina… our 2 guinea pigs. For Strawberry’s birthday, we got her a guinea pig (Bubbles). Of course, being social creatures and the fact that Kaybear put on that “oh ppleeease momma” look, we ended up with 2 guinea pigs. 2 weeks ago, Strawberry comes into my bedroom and wakes me.

Momma! We have babies!

Groggy, I lifted an eyelid to peer at her. She must be playing a joke, I thought. Nope. Sure enough, Gina had given birth to 2 babies. What a Good Morning surprise! We counted the gestation period. We counted the amount of days we had owned them (54 days). Well… you do the math. Gina came home already pregnant! This week the babies are weaned and then we have another month before they can go to new homes. Of course, Kaybear is trying to convince me to let her keep one. And Strawberry wants Bubbles to have babies, too. Oi vey!

We brought Meeko home yesterday as well. What a sweet, adorable boy! A Ragdoll kitten from Fluffy Luv Cattery, he is a beautiful seal mink color. He endured the 3 hour ride home well. He spent the first 30 minutes fairly agitated but the smooth highway helped to calm down. He has acclimated quickly to our home. Kody is the only obstacle now. Meeko hisses and hides from him each time we try to introduce them. But we are taking it very slowly. Today he only hisses and walks away to hide. Baby steps… baby steps.

Meeko (photo taken by Fluffy Luv Cattery; post-processing by me)

Finally, it is spring cleaning time. The house is torn apart as I try to tackle clutter and mess. Of course, as soon as a room is cleaned, I have 4 kids who come behind me to destroy again. Ha!

It’s getting late and almost time for afternoon chores. I promise it won’t be so long before I post again. ;)

Homemade Poptarts

AUG 18, 2011

After 2 tries I think I’ve figured out how to make these Homemade Poptarts. :D

The first time I tried I had very crumbly dough. It was tough to work, and even harder to roll out. I spent over an hour trying to get it flat and thin but it just wasn’t working out right. I cooked them up anyway and although the family liked them (or were being very polite about it), they just didn’t turn out that well. So I grumbled, muttered, whined, and couldn’t sleep. I had dreams of homemade poptarts that night. Dreams replaying what went wrong. I tend to over analyze and obsess about things, if you hadn’t noticed…

After posting a comment on the Heavenly Homemaker blog my woes, Laura replied with her suggestion of adding more yogurt (or adding a bit of water). The other thing I guessed that wasn’t working in my attempt is that no, Virginia, Country Crock is NOT butter. No matter how I may squint at the label, it just wouldn’t read “butter”. It kept reading “39% vegetable oil spread”.

Hmmm… alrighty then. Back into the kitchen I went.

This time I used REAL butter. Genuine real butter. Butter. Not Parkay. (Anyone remember those commercials from the 80’s? Or is it just me?) And I added about 1/4 cup more of yogurt to the recipe. Result? Pliable, workable dough! YAY!

For the middle I used 2 jellies (triple berry and strawberry) and an almond butter spread. The almond butter spread was NOT a hit with my picky kids. I liked it well enough. But not exactly a hit here. :)

This time instead of the dough only yielding 7 measly poptarts, I cooked up 20 poptarts! And these came out decent. I cooked them for the 25 minutes in the recipe but my oven seems to run really hot, so the edges were a bit harder than I’d like. Well, harder than the kids liked. So next time I’ll cook them for about 20-23 minutes.   I’ll also use less filling.  A whole HEAPING teaspoon resulted in a few leaking their yumminess:

What can I say?  I am NOT a natural in the kitchen. But it has been a learning experience for me.  ;)

You probably noticed one poptart in the top photo had some white on it… I added cake frosting to a few of my poptarts to entice the kids to think that they are JUST LIKE these:

Not sure it quite worked but it sure added a bit of fun to their poptarts!

Now that I have the dough figured out, time to play around and make Hot Pockets, Pizza Pockets, and more! :D