Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Beach and the Closet

I couldn't face the homeschool room today. So we did this instead:

Little Bit

Yes, this large child is mine!!! Stop growing Sweetheart!

We met some friends at the beach and had a great time. We saw jellyfish, but no one got stung. Normally, I'm a jellyfish magnet.

And after very refreshing showers, I was ready to finish that closet!

How did the closet get so bad??? Wasn't it just a little while ago I was cleaning it out???


But now the right side holds all the out-of-season and don't-fit-yet clothes.

This closet goes back a long way on each side.

And the left side fits all the extra toys and games. That left the middle. The part that shows.

So I lined up some friendly faces to look at.

And then I found a place for something very important. (Thanks for the idea Masto Mama!)

Doll School!

They bring their dolls to school all the time anyway. In our old homeschool room there was a little space to put them, but they always needed to be picked up later. Sweetheart has the same Doll School set that Masto Mama's daughter has but she's never had a permanent place to put things up.

They were very excited about the area. Even though Sweetheart is close to out-growing it (but not yet!), I know Little Bit will continue to use that area for a long time.

And...I sent Little Bit back into the deep recesses of the closet while we were cleaning out and she found the Bible Daddy has been looking for a LONG time.

And with that happy note (they are in there playing right now)...the closet is done!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


The truck is coming tomorrow. I already have 1 big bag and half of another full. I want to get rid of stuff!!!! And having the truck coming tomorrow just makes me even more motivated.

I already wrote about this earlier in the week.

Then I read this.  Awesome.

Just in case you needed a little inspiration.

'Cause I've decided that the only way I'm going to be able to make it next year is if this house is under control. And I have a plan, which I'll share later.

But today? I stuff things into bags!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Need a Little Help Here

I like our school room to look different from year to year. (No duh...I like every room to look different, huh?) I couldn't stand to have this space look the exact same way every single school year.

This next year will already be different in several ways (new furniture moved in here), but I want a way to make a space of their own for each girl. Now that we are housing all books on our big black IKEA shelves, the girls no longer needed bookshelves in their bedrooms. So, they got moved in here and will be used for storing their school stuff. Kind of like lockers but without doors or locks.

The only part of the room I'm through with. LOVE it. 

The shelves are pretty special. Sweetheart's (below, on the right) was built by her dad and used to be in his bedroom in high school. When we made a nursery for her, that shelf became hers. Then when we were expecting Little Bit I was sad she didn't have a special shelf made by her dad when my sister-in-law offered the smaller one on the left. It was built by my father-in-law a long time ago. He passed away in 1994 and obviously the girls never met him. So I think it's neat they each have a family-built shelf.

I'm cleaning these off today.  Those are some planets from our solar system hanging there. 
I may let them decide what to put on top of their shelves. I was also thinking of putting bulletin boards above their shelves with some of their favorite things on them and also some helpful school things. I was inspired by Masto Mama. Just look at her children's cute boards! (And their whole classroom!)

So I looked online and there are some cheap ones at Target but according to the reviews....not worth it. Too cheap. I hate to put big holes in the wall anyway.

 Any ideas for what I can do above their bookshelves to give each girl a little "space of her own"? 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Affording Homeschooling

I'll tell ya. This year we are really spending a lot more than we usually do. I've been thinking about how much it's going to hurt to drop that much money all at once on curriculum. I know I could homeschool cheaper. I know I could. A person can do a really great job of educating their children with no budget at all. But something happened today that made me realize what a bargain I'm offering my husband with our curriculum costs this year!

While searching for something online, I happened to stumble on a site for a private Christian school. It's not in daily driving distance from our house, but it's in our general area. Anyway, I was interested in how much it would cost to send the girls to private school next year at this place. (A thing I am in NO way considering.) Are you ready??

For both girls: $16,824.00

That does not include uniforms.

Are you kidding me? $8,000something for Sweetheart +$7,000something for Little Bit (after a 10% discount for sibling) + $75 testing fee for Sweetheart + $50 testing fee for Little Bit + $500 enrollment fee + $250 enrollment fee + $400 in some other fee........SIXTEEN THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR DOLLARS.

I will be spending $600.

See? It's not looking so bad now, is it? Yes, there will be other fees for field trips but honestly....that won't even total $100. Not even close.

But we don't live in quite that nice of an area. So how do tuition rates look closer to home?

School #2  $11,342.04 for both girls. Glad they got that .04 in there.
School #3  $8,620.00 for both girls.

Again, I will be spending $600.

Homeschooling rocks.

Have you ever looked at private school tuition rates by your house?

On Getting Rid of Stuff

Last night as we were driving home from church, we noticed a lot of smoke towards our neighborhood. There had been a large fire in our city earlier, but this smoke was in a different direction. As we approached our street, it became obvious that it was terribly near our house and heart did skip a beat as I realized I had left the dryer on when we left for church.

Cars and people lined our street and it took us a while to get to our driveway. My parents live next to a field and the field was full of neighbors and strangers all watching the fire. It was, thankfully, on the street behind ours. It was a house fire and we stood alongside everyone else watching the firemen and the smoke and the huge flames shooting out of the house for quite some time.

This morning I got the girls up early (I've been needing to get them up earlier so they will go to sleep easier at night and I knew this would do the trick) to go on a walk and see the house. It was really something to see. Just about every single thing those folks owned is gone. Just like that.

I thought too about the Crawfords and all of their neighbors who lost everything in the tornadoes several weeks ago. I went to sleep thankful. Not for our home and stuff--although I was very thankful to be laying in bed in our home instead of in a hotel room or a friend's house--but thankful for the only thing that really matters to me. My family.

I was thinking about how the girls would process the fire they witnessed. The house down the block from us burned when I was 8. I saw it at night. I was scared for months that our house would catch fire. I know the girls would be concerned about their favorite toys. Any time we talk about a family who has lost their home that's what they are concerned about--their dolls. Their dollhouse. Their favorite things.

I was the same way when I was younger. I remember a hurricane headed of our home when I was around 9. I remember my dad telling me to go pack in case we had to leave for my grandmother's house. I remember sitting outside my closet door crying because I couldn't fit all my dolls and stuffed animals into my bags. Which ones would I leave? These are the things a child worries about.

I was happy to realize last night that I wouldn't worry about things today. Sure, it would be sad to lose pictures. It would be painful to watch my children miss their things. It would be a big, huge headache. But they are just things. I was never so glad we spent only $20 on that garage sale couch. Because that couch can so easily be replaced.

And then I read an article about letting go of things. About travelling lite. About not carrying our burdens and bags around with us. Yes, the article was speaking of spiritual things, but we all know that physical things can drag us down just as much.

I had read "The Biggest House in the World" to the girls this weekend. (Part of our summer reading list) The little snail learns, through a story his father tells him, that having the biggest, best shell will only be a burden and he cannot move and see the world if he has that heavy load on his back.

And I thought about how S and I have worked so hard to be out of debt so that if the Lord should call us to go somewhere---we could.

All of that combined is making for a very good day of cleaning out the homeschool room. With much use being made of the trash can, and the giveaway pile.

Stuff headed out of here...

Friday, June 24, 2011

This Will Make You Appreciate the After

I cannot believe this was only our first week of summer break! It seems like we've been off for a long time. I guess that's a good thing since it's nearly JULY already!!! I cannot believe that. Summer is going to fly by.

Towards that end, I have been purchasing some things for next year already. The big order to Sonlight will be made next month, I suppose and I'm not looking forward to parting with that money.

Before all these new books and curriculum parts come pouring into my house, I need a place to PUT them. So I guess it's time to start working in the ol' homeschool room. It's so lovely right now with it's half-done shelves and table piled high with stuff and the entire closet full of junk that who-knows-what I'll do with. I kind of hate to disturb it's loveliness.
 I KNOW! Open House was only a week ago!
Huh. The closet door won't really even open. 



Oh look! A glorious neat spot!!


I have my work cut out for me.

At least I'm not painting and switching rooms this year, huh?

Now accepting applications for help. Anyone out there love to organize?

Also the sewing room is a wreck. As usual. Need to get in there and get that organized. And even I will not post pictures of that space. It seriously looks like we've been robbed. I'd like to work on the girls' quilts for their beds and I can't sew on those until I get the sewing room organized.

S is home from being out of town all week and I couldn't be happier. We stayed very busy while he was gone, but I still didn't like it. Very thankful his travels were safe and he's back home where he belongs.

Well, I'm off to put my money where my mouth is and go DO some of the stuff I just so easily typed up. Knowing I can post "new and improved" photos next week is very motivating!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bit By the Frugal Bug

This was my second week attempting frugal grocery shopping and I am very pleased again. I only used 1 coupon and price matched 18 items at W-mart.

The problem with all the couponing this week was the match-ups I found on websites called for coupons that came out in the May inserts. I don't have those inserts as I wasn't saving coupons at the time. So, it will take a few more weeks before I'm all set on the coupon front.

This mama killdeer laid eggs in the flowerbeds at church. We've been watching her every week.
They hatched this week. I sure hope we get to see them! 

But I can still price match! I don't know exactly how much I saved this week as I forgot to write down the prices from W-mart. Last week I saved about $13, which doesn't sound like a lot. So why are my grocery bills so much lower than they have been?

I think it's because I'm spending the time going through all the grocery ads for all the stores in our area so I KNOW a good deal when I see it. There are many times when W-mart's price is better than the one I have written down. It's good to know that I'm getting a good price.

And of course, I'm not buying organic anymore. I would like to go back to organic one day...but not right now.

I love that I'm saving money on our grocery bill each week. Since I don't actually have an income....saving money where I can makes me feel like I'm contributing to our family's budget in a very real way.
My grocery store helpers. They are very patient and good shoppers.

Now, I need a better deal on my Internet and phone service! Our Internet has been flaky lately and to get a faster service it will end up costing only about $8-$10 a month more BUT $100 more for a new modem. That's not helping me save money. The only reason we even have a land line is for the Internet service. I wish i could get rid of the whole bill!

I'm all about getting a better deal. Once you start saving money, you feel really offended if you can't save on something. We went to Chili's last week with a "kids eat free" coupon. Bought books at the bookstore "buy 2 get 1 free" and used a Starbucks gift card.

It's official. I've been bit by the frugal bug. I LOVE saving money.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Today At Our House

It rained!!! FINALLY! Boy, we needed rain!

A club was built in the living room. 

I drug out my big fabric bin so the girls could choose fabric for sewing class. Now I need to fix it up a  bit. 

We made these in sewing class. Next week we'll hand stitch around the hearts.  (Little Bit's, friend's, Sweetheart's)

Someone cut their foot and Mama had to perform first aid. 

The toy room got trashed played in. 

I ironed a shirt for S. 

 I washed the dishes. 

I NEED to finish my menu plan and grocery list. 

I got this cool wrapping paper for 40% off and have a plan for it along with those boxes. 

Then the girls went to Grandpa's house to watch cartoons. 

So I blogged.

The End. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our Routine (And the Good 'Ol Summertime)

Today I'm linking up with the Tri-Moms and they are discussing routines. You does your routine change from the school year to the summer?

This year was the first time we used a schedule that differed greatly from the public school calendar. We were steeped in the public school calendar before. I mean, husband and I both attended 13 years of public school. Then I taught 11 years in public school. Then our older daughter went to public/private school for 3 years. It was our life.

But last year I got brave and tried something different and we really liked it! It was called "a Sabbath schedule" and I talked about it here. And all the reasons why it rocks here. (That link is full of good reasons!)

It was very difficult for me in May, however. That was the time when all around me people were counting down the days until they were out of school and we still had WEEKS. Oh I was irritated. But it all worked out really well and I lived. And we still have SEVEN weeks of a summer break!

Now that I've seen the schedule through one whole cycle...I'm going to stick with it. It really worked well for us.

So how does life change in our seven week summer? Well..for one thing, we can run our errands in the mornings when it is not 100+ degrees yet and also all the late sleepers are not at the store. We love getting the errands out of the way while everyone is fresh and not cranky and stores are not crowded.

Also, I get big projects done in the summers. This is my time to sew and organize things around the house and switch rooms around at will. (Don't think I'm switching any rooms this summer! OR painting anything!  I know!!!)

The big break gives my kids time to get bored, wander around, and find things to do. They get to use their imagination. Now that we don't have TV (1 1/2 years baby!), they have to work a bit harder to find things to do. TV was ALWAYS Sweetheart's default. Summer gives more time for art, playing, chores, and swimming.

And on weekends we go to the beach a lot with Daddy.

We also go to the library every week. Our library has a lot of activities in the summer and we try to take advantage of  that. We also have a goal every summer of reading 100 books each. I think we've met that goal every year since Little Bit was 3. If you read 100 books, you get a certificate, an ice cream, and a free book at the end of the summer. I feel like I have so much more time to read to them in the summer.

We also used to do summer themes every week. I loved those. Trying to get organized to do some of those this year too. After all, Little Bit is only 7--she will still love them.

And here was our daily routine during the school year.

Go check out the other mom's routines: Suzanne, Kristen, and Kathi. (The link up is at Kristen's place--go join us and tell us your summer routine!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Summer of Literacy

The way the word "literacy" is commonly used today means, "able to read and write." In fact, that is one of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary today. But the Webster's 1828 dictionary defines literacy as, "Learned; lettered; instructed in learning and science."

Interesting difference.

When I speak of literate, I mean "well-read." As in, I can read a older book and catch the references to other works of literature or art.

I can't, by the way. I have decided that on the whole, Americans are VERY poorly read. On the whole. You might be the exception. I have tried to find a list of "recommended reading" for high school students but it seems that it varies greatly. If a student is in AP classes, then they might graduate having read a minimal number of great books, but if they are in regular or below regular classes? Forget it.

I think we just so often aim for the bare minimum. I mean, functionally literate means that a person can read and write enough to understand street signs, etc. Don't get me wrong...I am so thankful there are programs for adults who cannot read or write. It brings tears to my eyes to see how grateful folks can be when they finally learn to read. How horrible to go through life without being able to!

But I'm tired of the bare minimum. I want my children---and myself---(and S wants this too for himself) to be well-read. There are SO many books and works that we have never read. Books I have heard about my whole life but have never actually opened and read.

I've been thinking about all of this for a few months now. I think it really shook me up when I opened Gulliver's Travels earlier this year and couldn't understand it! Good grief.

So, here is what I'm doing about it:

1. The girls are working off of the 1,000 Good Books List. I am getting whatever I can from the library (and not all of them will be found there) and reading with them this summer. I have requested books from all over our county. I will highlight each book they have read and see how many we can get through this summer. Some we have already read or own, so I'm just marking those off. It's not that many though.

2. S and I went to Barnes and Noble the other night and bought 3 of their paperback classics. They had a deal for "buy 2, get 1 free". However, nothing rang up free at the register so we got back in line and because they had "screwed up" (in the very professional words of the cashier), we got the most expensive one for free. Awesome. So we are sitting on our garage sale double-recliner couch each evening, with our reading glasses on because we are in our 40s..and reading classic literature.

Soon, we'll be so smart you won't be able to understand my blog.

3. We hope, one day, to read some of the books on the 100 Great Books list. Honestly, I'm not sure I could read and comprehend some of those right now. Better get all these high school level books read first. We might settle for being able to read and understand the King James Version, a thing which I often cannot do now.

I think your blog reading is safe.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Open House

Friday night we invited my parents, sister, and of course Daddy to Open House. We had pink lemonade and cookies for everyone and then invited them to come see all the girls' hard work for this year.

Everything laid out and ready to go.

Little Bit showing Grandpa her work. 

Sweetheart and Aunt T.  Yes, they are very nearly the same size. 

Grandma finally stopped taking pictures so she could look too. 

Daddy got home....

Avert your eyes from the black shelves! They will look very different soon!

That's all!

Here is our Open House from 2008. (sniff sniff. My babies were so little!)