Insta Friday and a Winner

Since I needed to blog and announce a winner today, I thought I'd share some pics of what's been happening in our fam lately. 

These two pictures may be some of my favorite of all time!  No filter, just the beauty of God's creation!  The pasture was just all sorts of dreamy the other morning.  And there were spider webs everywhere!  It was so beautiful...and creepy all at once.  We did find a web taller than myself which if my son hadn't warned me I would have walked right into.  And then I would have had a heart attack!!

I tweaked my gallery wall some Tuesday night.  It was therapy after a long day!  And yes, that's random kid paraphernalia all over the floor.  Obviously I have priorities...decorating comes before cleaning any day. =P 

This is the beginnings of my hoop for the adoption fundraiser for Emmy and her family.  So glad I could help in some way!

I'm learning to crochet!  (Thanks, Sarah for inspiring me!)  I figured 30 was a good age to learn this awesomeness.

 I ate way, WAY too much of this.  But I was the birthday girl, I can do that, right? =)

Yard sale finds!

Hubby thought our first time at Five Guys and my last day in my 20's should be documented.  The food was SO good.  Yum!

Last Friday our church put together 5,000 Johns and Romans to give out in our community.  And we did it in 4.5 hours!

One of my favorite thrifting finds of the summer.  Sharpens like a dream!

We are getting eggs everyday now!

Ever tried Cinnamon Chex?  It's the best cereal ever.  And the Vanilla Chex? They taste like cupcakes.  For real.  Go get you a box. =)

Now, the winner of the One Crafty Daisy earring giveaway (according to the random number generator!) is........
AnonymousSeptember 6, 2013 at 5:18 PMHave a very happy birthday! (And I am also thinking about the changes that 30 will bring...just a few more months for me!) I love the black and white polka dot earrings!! So cute!
Congratulations!  I will be contacting you today!

And I just wanted to send a thank you to all of my sweet readers, your encouraging comments always mean so much.  I'm so thankful for you!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 


Home School Room Tour

Several weeks ago I shared ideas and asked for suggestions for making over our school room. (You can see what our old school room looked like here.) We are blessed with 4th bedroom to use as our school room,  but our room is small (about 8.5'x11') so maximizing our space was a must.  I knew we needed to make some changes after last year because we were squished and the kids were distracted by all of the visual clutter. 

This summer we sold almost all of the furniture that had been in there, repainted, re-purposed and rearranged.  Now that's it's finally finished, well, all except a door for the closet, we are very happy with how it turned out!!  

So take a left down the hallway, and come on in the school room!  

It took me a while to decide to do a chalkboard wall.  I didn't want the room to look like a cave!  I ended up doing DIY chalkboard paint out of some charcoal color paint and plaster of paris and it turned out great! 

The curtains are just striped top sheets I stole from the boys' room. Yay for free!  And the other walls, although they appear to be white, are actually a very, very light gray.  It has really helped this room feel more spacious. 

One thing I really wanted for our school room was a nice map of the world and the USA, but I wasn't thrilled about all of the wall space it would take up. ( What's the point of a chalkboard wall if it's all covered up, you know?)  My children also LOVE maps and I knew they would really enjoy them. So I began to pray for a map, and God answered exceeding abundantly!  On Craiglist I was able to purchase a set of pulldown wall maps from another homeschool mom.  We now have South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Post Soviet Russia, and Africa.  A few of them are vintage and are just beautiful!  And then a few weeks later we found the United States, Alaska, Central America, and the World from another man.  It was amazing how God provided because we bought all of them for less than it would cost to even buy cheap paper ones.  

This just makes me giddy because finally, mom has a desk!  Yay!  It's thrilling I tell you. The desk is very spacious, 60" long and 30" deep.  It's a vintage wooden desk that was given to us years ago and my hubby painted it white for me.  He's the best. =)  The kids do use this area for math, typing, and Spanish, but mostly it's my space.  (I've got to do something about those cords under there, though!  And that bottom right drawer...it doesn't want to shut all the way!)
Can I just tell you how much I love my chair?  I found it at an estate sale up in the attic.  The orange leather is in awesome shape and the chair is extremely comfortable.  I also found the desk lamp at Goodwill a few weeks ago and it's perfect for this space also since it can be turned and adjusted.  In the base there is an extra plug which really comes in handy, too!  

Mounting the workbox on the wall has made a huge difference in this room!  More than anything, we needed to free up floor space and this was a perfect solution. The big kids are tall enough to reach it and the littles cannot. Yay!
The black cabinet holds most of our books and things.  I'm considering painting it a fun color. We'll see!  The suitcases on top of the cabinet and the workbox cabinet are Goodwill finds that are used to store away some forgotten toys for the preschooler and toddler for days when they need something "new" to occupy them.

The turquoise ikea cart was my one splurge purchase for this room!  It is SO nice for holding all of our supplies. Hubby thought I was crazy for wanting it, but this cart is very functional and perfect for a small space. 

I do want to add some art and things to the walls, but I know that this room, just like the rest of the house will evolve over time.  No need to rush it!  

And eventually I will have a door on the closet where you see the sheet.  Hopefully sooner than later. :)  

After my post pleading for suggestions from you all about how to set up this room, my sister in law Ruth left a comment about how they had used school desks and how functional it had been for them.  Why hadn't I thought of that before?!

So a few minutes after I read her comment I decided to check Craigslist and you know, see if perhaps there were any school desks for sale. That same afternoon we were able to pick up these vintage, all wood desks...for $5 a piece!  I was beyond thrilled.  And the kids were SO happy about the desks!  The tops are a little on the small side but for now they are working fine until hubby gets the chance to make larger ones.
Many of you suggested desks along the wall which was a great idea, but because of cost reasons, this was a better solution for us.  Also, the desks allow us to easily clear out this room for guests to stay!

We all love this room and it's neat to see how God met our needs (and wants) for this space. We spent little money and it turned out better than we had hoped!

Hope you all have enjoyed our school room tour! Also, don't forget that today is the last day for the giveaway for the earrings from One Crafty Daisy.  Go here and enter!

Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend, friends!


Almost 30 {+ a Giveaway}


I'm kind of in denial that on Sunday I will no longer be a twenty-something. I mean, goodness, the 20's have been pretty eventful!  Best years of my life by far.  

The 20's were filled with all new things...motherhood, congenital heart defects, prematurity, hospital life, homeschooling, remodeling two homes, becoming a pastor's wife.

Some people say 30 is when things get really good.  Others say it's all downhill from here. I'm wondering what it will be like.  I'm sure there will be new happenings, just like the 20's, but I foresee a continuation and maturing of the old-new things as well.

This last year in my 20's felt like it stretched me the way my first year in my 20's did with the birth of Lydia and all that having a child with congenital heart defects brings.  Praise the Lord this year hasn't been that dramatic, but I can look back and see a big difference in myself!  There have been so many things I did in my 29th year that I thought I would never, nor could ever do.  

I'm excited.  If the 20's were awesome, well, I'm hoping the 30's are even better! 

And since I happen to love presents on my birthday (who doesn't?!), I'm so happy that I can give a little early "Happy Birthday" present away to ya'll! 

A childhood friend of mine, Jillana, just opened up a new etsy shop called "One Crafty Daisy."  I have great memories of Jillana from when we were kids.  Her dad was also my youth pastor and sports coach!

Jillana sent me some earrings to review and I just love them!  They are fabric covered button style earrings.  She also sent Lydia some cute little cupcake earrings that are just darling.  

These chevron studs are my very favorite!  I love them and they will definitely be getting a lot of use!

{Lydia was my photographer...too bad she didn't tell me to get all of the hair out of my face, lol.  Oh well!}

Jilllana has excellent prices in her etsy shop and these earrings would make great stocking stuffers, teacher gifts, etc. And guess what?!  Not only is she giving away one pair to a lucky reader, she has provided a coupon code!  Use code OCDFALL20 for 20% off anything in her shop until September 14th.  Go do some early Christmas shopping!

To enter the giveaway, go visit her etsy shop, One Crafty Daisy and then come back here and leave a comment telling me which pair you would like to win!  If you are an anonymous commenter, please leave your email address so I can contact you.

The giveaway will close next Thursday,  September 12th at midnight, and the winner will be notified on Friday!

Have a great weekend friends! 


How Our Home School Has Changed (and it all began with me!)

We're beginning our third week of school today, and even though it's early in the year, there's a noticeable difference in our days.

The first week of school was kinda rough. Lucy was cutting more teeth, eight to be exact (8!!), all at once, and she was a miserable mess.  She cried every day.  All.day.long.  It hardly mattered if I held her or put her down, gave tylenol or no tylenol, she was wailing.
But at the end of the first day I told my husband, "You know, despite Lucy bawling, it was a great day!" And the next day, and the next.

I was LOVING school.  

Was I crazy or something though?!  How could I be so "chill" when for all practical purposes it was a less than ideal day?  And then it started to dawn on me.

In years past, I had this idea that if everything was perfectly organized, and our day was nice and structured, smoothly flowing from one subject to the next and all children were well behaved, then we'd have an awesome school year.  Then I could get to the end of the school day and say, "It was a GREAT day!"

To be very honest, this year I felt less than organized on day one.  I had hardly had any prep time to focus and get myself ready for this teaching gig.  This year I'd be teaching 5th, 3rd and K-4!  But I did what I could and just went with it.  

Last year we had more "bad school days" than good ones. By the end of the year I felt like a frazzled mess. I began to realize though that the problem wasn't with the kids or with organization....the problem had been with me.  And I started to think, "What changed?"  

For years, well really since my oldest was born almost 10 years ago, I have cherished nap time.  The time of day when mom got a break and could do what she wanted!  And I relished it.  But there came a day when my biggers were too old to nap but still, I clung to that "me time."  I made them do something quiet and "do not under any circumstances disturb mom!"

We'd rush through our school day so we'd be finished by nap time.  If we had to go into nap time it felt like a drudgery...I would be annoyed inside that "once again, mom gets no time to herself!!"

This summer though I began to realize that these are not those days.  That these little people were a gift from God to interrupt my selfish plans.  That by daily choosing to serve myself I was rejecting such precious time with these littles and one day I would give anything to have it back.  

So this summer I just let my big kids hang with me all afternoon.  At first it killed me.  I thought I would suffocate from people around me all day long.  (Seriously, sometimes I feel like such an introvert!) Somewhere along the line I'd swallowed the lie that "time alone" was the only way to recharge my batteries.  

But gradually I began to notice that it wasn't draining anymore.  That the afternoons with my bigger kids was really refreshing!  Did we have our moments when I did need to send their grumpy selves to just rest or read a book?  Absolutely!

The change happened though when I relaxed and welcomed them to all parts of my day.  Our day.  

And this change in me has had a massive impact on our school days.  There is no rush.  Of course we try to be diligent and get things accomplished, but it's for the benefit of molding their character, and not for my selfish motivations.  

It's difficult to share this.  Really, truly.  But I don't want you mothers to go through 10 years of motherhood before realizing this.  I hope it'll help just one of you not make the same mistakes I have.  

Coming to grips with failure is hard, but I'm so thankful that God uses my children to continually expose the ugly places in my heart and life that need so much work.  

I hear it every time I go out somewhere with my kids, "Enjoy them while they're little!" Those wise grandmas and grandpas know what they are talking about.  

These really are the days, mama's.  Let's enjoy them while they last!


Home School Curriculum 2013-2014

Well, as I embark on my 7th year in homeschooling I've decided that I'm changing my name. 

Yep. I am.   I don't want to be called a homeschool mom, I want to be called the "headmaster."  

Doesn't that sound so much more, well, more official?  And professional with a hint of sternness?  I imagine that a headmaster should wear a pencil skirt with hair slicked back into the perfect chignon. Oh, and definitely speak with a British accent.   

"Dearest students, please take out your blue back spellers, turn to page one and we shall begin by spelling each word aloud in unison.  Ready?  Begin...."

Okay.  Forget it . I'll keep embracing "Homeschool Mom."  I think I like that better. =)  No perfect hair or British accents required. =D

Today we are beginning our first day of school and since I know we all enjoy a curriculum post, I thought I'd share what we are doing this year!  Of all our homeschooling years, this was definitely my most difficult year deciding what to do. But now that everything is finalized, I am so happy with our choices.   

This year we will be studying Introduction to American History, part 1, through Sonlight (Core D.)  You all know I love Sonlight and their book choices....wonderful, living books that make History exciting.  Their Instructor's Guide is so easy to use and everything is scheduled for you! ( This year I'm only using the IG for History, Reading, Read-a-louds, Geography and dictation.) We'll be using regular readers for Caleb and advanced readers for Lydia.  All of the books coordinate with each other and the current time period that you are studying.  Love that!

For Language Arts we'll be doing dictation scheduled in the Sonlight Core, as well as Growing with Grammar for formal grammar instruction, and Wordly Wise for vocabulary.  We've used Wordly Wise for several years now, and this is our second year using Growing with Grammar and we loooove it.  Seriously, my kids enjoy Grammar.  (A dream come true for this nerdy, grammar loving mother!)  

Teaching Textbooks is our math choice for this year. Lydia used it for the first time last year and we were very pleased so now both kiddos will be doing it. 

After that, everything else is new territory!  Which kind of makes me nervous, but hey, change can be good.  If I find something we love I stick with it, but otherwise, I change around to fit our needs.  That's the beauty of homeschooling!

Now onto spelling....one of my children is a natural born speller, but my other really struggles.  After a lot of research and debate I settled on using the Phonetic Zoo Level A for spelling.  After watching Andrew Pudewa's "Spelling and the Brain" DVD and seeing him demonstrate the exact spelling problems my child was having, I knew that it was what we needed.  I'll be using this for both Lydia and Caleb this year.  

Also new to us is a writing program also by Andrew Pudewa and the Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I have found in my few short years as a headmaster home school mom, that writing is difficult to teach.  There are so many "gray areas."  And it's just like spelling, I have one excellent writer and one who struggles.  I definitely believe that children learn to write well when good writing is modeled for them, i.e. reading classic literature, etc.  But sometimes you need some more concrete instruction!  I was able to borrow the Student Writing Intensive Level A this summer from a friend to look at before purchasing it myself. Currently I am also working my way through the seminars on how to teach writing and it's amazing what I've learned so far!   

This year for Science I asked the kiddos what they wanted to study and they simultaneously shouted, "the human body!"  So we chose Exploring Creation through Anatomy and Physiology by Apologia.  I am thrilled that we get to spend an entire year on one subject!  Makes so much more sense to delve in deep instead of just skimming the surface of many topics.  We'll be using the student companion journals as well.

Nature journaling is something we're beginning this year...kind of a mixture of science and art.  I can't wait.  I even bought myself a journal!  We live out in the country so we have a lot of opportunity to explore to learn.

For Bible we'll be using a few different sources, well other than the Bible of course. =)  In a world filled with counterfeit religions and warped theology, apologetics is something I believe every Christian should study.  Basically, it's how to defend the faith.  It's knowing what you believe and why you believe it.  This year we are beginning an apologetics course by Apologia.  The first book is "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him."  Along with it we'll be discussing and memorizing The Baptist Primer.  It's an excellent book!  


With Levi, who is beginning K-4, we'll be reading books from Sonlight's Pre-K list, doing some beginning handwriting from Handwriting without Tears, and learning readiness exercises.  I also found some Kumon tracing and cutting books that I may never be able to pry away from him.  Nothing very formal, just enjoying time together and fueling his love for learning. 

And Miss Lucy will be doing a lot of coloring, getting into things and dragging around the cat. =)

I have also added in a few "electives" for Lydia and Caleb such as Critical Thinking Activities (logic), Typing and soon we'll be adding Latin American Spanish to the mix.  Can't wait!!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer.  Have a great Monday!

Linking up to the Not Back to School Blog Hop


Brandon and Rebecca's Home School Room Tour

This past Friday and Saturday we had the pleasure of visiting our friends Brandon and Rebecca down in Georgia.  They have four children just like us and with all 8 together the ages are 9, 9 ,8, 7, 4, 4, 1, and 1!!  Everybody has a buddy so it works out perfectly.  We each also have 2 boys and 2 girls!  

Brandon and Rebecca began homeschooling their children several years ago, but due to moving and job situations, their oldest two attended a private Christian school the past two years.  This year they decided it was best to bring them back home.  Since it’s quite hot in Georgia in the summer, they began school early in order to have time off in the fall. They are currently in their 10th week of school...ah-mazing!

One thing that Rebecca knew she wanted from the get-go was a dedicated space for school.  While their home isn’t tiny, it’s not huge either so they had to be creative.  Using the fourth bedroom wasn’t an option, so they took what would have been the formal dining room that branches off of the living room and made it their homeschool room.  Brilliant! 

With measurements of walls in hand, they made a trip to Ikea and in one day had everything they needed to set up their homeschool space.  Makes me love Ikea even more!

Rebecca and I were talking about the cost aspect of setting up a homeschool room and she made the comment that even though it can be relatively expensive, it was still only about 1/8 the cost of a years’ tuition at the private school.  One-eighth!!

Don't you love her perspective?  It’s pretty easy to stress out about all the money homeschooling seems to cost, but when you think about what you’d spend to put them in a private and/or Christian school, it doesn’t even compare. Using our resources to create a learning environment for our children is an investment that will reap benefits for many, many years to come!

Everything in this school room is very organized.  All of the books and supplies are easy to find and accessible for all of the children.  This is something I've really had to learn in my own home....I can't tell you how much time I've wasted getting things out for my kids simply because I didn't put it at their level!

I also really liked the "command central" set up on the wall opposite the desks.   There's storage on the wall, a place for the printer, and a magnetic whiteboard with the daily schedule for each child posted.  

Can you see her timeline?  This is such a great idea for a small space!  Currently our timeline is in a book, but I am very tempted to use this method so my children can see it every day. She made the timeline out of strips of black poster board and a white marker.  Easy, peasy.  

 What I love most about their homeschool room is that it is not secluded from the rest of their home.  The kitchen, living room and school room feel like one big open area.  It’s bright and airy and just looks like a fun place to be. It seriously sucks you in…I can’t tell you how many times we found ourselves gravitating to the “school room!” 

 Brandon and Rebecca use a Charlotte Mason/Classical approach to homeschooling and this school room seems to fit that philosophy so well in that learning isn’t just a formal thing that you do, it’s a part of life.  It shouldn’t be restricted to a certain time or place, but should flow naturally throughout your day.  And with their living area all connected, it definitely invites learning!

I will confess that this area was pretty challenging to photograph because there is a pillar in the way! If you were to back up into the living room, this is your view. 

 In the bottom right hand corner is a little "play area" for their baby.  She LOVES it.  It's much different than a playpen because she can come and go as she pleases, but it was funny how much Lucy and their little girl liked being in there! Several times I found them both in there playing quite happily.  And don't mind the thing hanging from the ceiling...it's actually a piece of exercise equipment that's pretty cool!  This particular pic was also taken before Rebecca could take down the balloons they had on the wall for their solar system for science.  =)  She just wanted to make sure you knew what the quirks were in this picture! 

Oh, and she said she's spray painting that chandelier ASAP. =D

Rebecca was so sweet and sent me the links for the Ikea products used in this this room just in case any of you are interested.  

Billy Bookcases (these are the two on the ends of the row of desks)
Besta Shelf Unit with Glass Doors (above the single desk with the pink laptop)
Expedit Shelving Unit (left corner next to couch)
Desks (x3)
Drawer Unit (for printer and supplies)
Drawer Units (between desks)

Visiting with Brandon and Rebecca and their little clan was so refreshing, encouraging and inspiring.  Even though our visit seemed much too short, I came home with my cup overflowing and feeling ready to tackle all of our remaining school projects.  

I hope you've enjoyed the school room tour and that perhaps like myself, you'll come away with some great ideas on how to use your space.  

Thank you again, Brandon and Rebecca for sharing your home school room with us!

Isn't this home school room dreamy?  I would love to hear your thoughts on it! And I know your comments would be encouraging to Rebecca and Brandon as well!

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