Homeschool Room Tour 2014-2015

It’s the day before school starts!

Not going to lie, I’m a little excited LOL.

I’m still working today on our school room and getting everything ready, but since this is probably as clean as it’s going to look for a while I wanted to share our homeschool room with you even though it’s not finished.

*Background*

We live in a three bedroom house – we only need to sleep in two of those rooms.  So, a few years back Chris and I moved out of the master bedroom and into the “guest room” on the other side of the house – the main reason, the back bedroom is at least 10 degrees cooler on any given day than the master suite is.  That left us this HUGE space (not even kidding, the room measures approximately 17ft by 11ft and is nearly 1/3 the floor space of our entire house when you include the bathroom and closet parts of the suite).  Until about a month ago, this room was the “multi-purpose room”, it held my office space, our homeschool space, an exercise machine (collecting dust) or two at any given time, and all my craft and sewing stuff.  It was often messy and cluttered.

Our homeschool space at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

Our homeschool space at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

I worked out a corner of the room to hold our supplies and do school in last year.
Fast forward to May and the decision to work hard toward selling the house.  I/we did A LOT of purging in this space (still ongoing but mostly done).  Countless trash bags full tossed away, boxes and boxes of fabric and craft supplies donated and thats just some of what we got rid of.

Then the real work started.  We spent well over two weeks scraping popcorn off the ceiling, painting, cleaning, rearranging furniture, and organizing.

Technically the room isn’t done.  The ceiling needs a second coat of paint, we will be ripping out the carpet and replacing it with flooring, and we also need to replace the baseboards and curtains, but school is about to start and I needed a functioning space, so those projects will all have to wait.

In the mean time, I want to show you the amazing transformation of this room.

First let me give you an overview of our main school space.

Like I said, it’s not 100% ready yet, but it’s pretty close.
Inara and I have separate desks this year, which are in an L Shape.  Her’s is my grandmother’s wooden desk and I have a five foot folding table.  You can also see our we chose virtues posters hanging on the wall (I used tape so as not to put holes in the walls) still trying to figure out what to do with the cork board since again I don’t want to put huge screws int he walls to hold it.  The 7ft tall bookshelf holds what feels like the whole world.  It’s got all our curriculum, manipulatives, some chapter books to use for read aloud time, and still has extra space.  Next to it I have a rolling file cart that holds extra file folders and paper, the top drawer holds extra supplies and the middle extra manipulatives.  On top of that is a paper sorter for our colored paper (I’m super excited by that little gem).  You can also see Inara’s new neon pink wiggle seat, I’m excited to add this tool to our classroom this year.  For those unfamiliar it’s a 14 inch round disk inflated to about 3 inches high, but not firm.  It’s got two different textures on the top and bottom.  It allows for sensory input/simulation, noise free wiggling, core strengthening as they attempt to balance on it, and extra bonus it’s fun to sit on (yes I’ve tried it) or play with.
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This is a more detailed view of our bookshelf and supply area.  I’m going to try something different this year with our AAR and AAS (all about reading and all about spelling) letter tiles and store them on a magnetic board separately and use a small white board rather than the big wall mounted board.  In part because, again, I don’t want to put holes in the walls to hang the big board, and also because I found the large board more awkward to use last year.  It’s not far away so we can still use it, maybe sitting on the floor, for other things or at certain times, but not daily. (and yes, I love my label maker and my boxes from Container Store)
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On the back wall of our space I have an awesome school mailbox that a friend gave me, it will function as our workboxes this year.  On top I have a small display of flags (purchased from Smallflags.com) which will be used to say the school pledges, which are printed and laminated next to them.  I also have our US map hanging (I did use push pins for this – sorry Chris) since we will be studying US geography this year.
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On the wall opposite our school area is the new family computer area.  Chris and I both have our computers set up sharing an 8ft folding table.  Chris is working to implement networked logons, so any of the three of us can log on to either computer and find all our appropriate files and settings.  Chris just finished setting all this up on Monday afternoon while I was at co-teacher training.
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Next to the computer area is our new reading area.  I’m more than a little excited about this cozy spot, even if it does still have computer cables and parts stacked on it from Chris’ work in the space on Monday.  I love that Inara and I will have somewhere else to sit during school to read together, and somewhere for me to retreat to at other parts of the day where I can curl up with a book or do my quiet times.
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Not pictured is the fourth wall of the room, which will be our movement area.  We have an exercise bike, and will also be putting Inara’s trampoline in that area.  It’ll be a place for her to get some energy out during school.  We often do memory work (poetry recitation, bible verses etc) while she jumps on the trampoline, or I’ll have her bounce and count to 20 or 100 for math practice.  She also enjoys using the bike to get some energy out and some movement going in her legs.

Well, there you have it, (most) of our school area.  

I’ll be sharing this post here: nbts-blog-hop-2014

My new kitchen, or “the awesomeness of my parents”

OK, let’s get this out of the way right up front – my parents are pretty awesome.  It totally sucks that we have to live so far apart, but they try and come visit every six months to a year, and every time they do, they bring their work clothes.

This time as we planned for their visit, they knew that Inara would be in school most days and Chris would also be at work, so they asked if there was a bigger project we could work on since there wouldn’t be small child disruption.  At first, we had planned to overhaul the front yard and begin (what I’m sure will be a long process) turning it into garden.  As the time came closer though, I decided I wanted to go a different route.  Chris and I are both great project starters, but horrible at actually finishing stuff – so I looked around at all the half finished projects, or supplies we had bought for things that had never gotten done, and decided to try and cross off a bunch of little things rather than one BIG thing.

I sat down and made a list, room by room, of all the things in the house I’d love to accomplish while they were here.  I came away with an average of two to three things in each room of the house.  I knew it wouldn’t all happen, so on the first afternoon of their visit we sat down and talked about the list, made a plan and decided what to work on.

However, mom and dad had a mini pow-wow while I went to pick up Chris and they had a whole new plan when we sat down to dinner.  The plane tickets they had bought to come here had, by in large, been paid for by frequent flier miles.  SO, mom decided to spend the amount she had budgeted on their tickets but hadn’t spent on upgrading some of the projects.

That is how my kitchen ended up looking like this:IMG_4032

 

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OK, so let’s start with a very brief and very crude representation of the common areas of our house:

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This is the gist of the floor plan.  When we moved in almost seven years ago, and up until VERY recently (within the last few months) our dining table was in the breakfast nook, and the dining room served as this large random area I wasn’t sure what to do with.  It’s been our homschool room, a catch all area, an animal area, and all sorts of stuff.  however, I was fed up with the timy galley style kitchen I had, and always feeling like the dining table was CRAMMED into that breakfast nook.  So, I moved it over to the dining room.  This opened up lots of extra space in the kitchen.  The first step was that I wanted to put in a coffee bar area under the bay window so that I could free up some counter space and organize our keurig and electric kettle and everything that went with those.  I moved a cabinet that had been the stand to Chris’ snake tank over there and it fit PERFECTly.  Only one problem, it had no top.  So I scrounged in the garage and found a skinny piece of wood that worked but wasn’t attached, and was too large. Then some friends gave us that book shelf and after thinking for a few days, I decided to put it in the corner as a place to put all my cookbooks, small appliances, and for a bit of a decorative touch.

However, I needed more counter space, so I found this old and poorly constructed shelf/counter/thing that Chris had built years ago (and I couldn’t tell you what for now – maybe to put hedgehog cages on??).  It was 5 feet long, just taller than counter hight and despite not being even close to level or even, worked well to put my microwave, bread maker, kitchenaid mixer and other items on.  Only problem, it was ugly, uneven, not level and ugly.  But it worked so it stayed there.

So, on  my list for the kitchen was to put a real top on the coffee bar and to put a new top (that was at least even, if we couldn’t fix the level part too) on the ugly counter extender.  Well, that’s the part my parents changed.  My mom offered to buy us two new large cabinets and a counter top to replace the ugly wood thing and the one small one foot counter/cabinet that was next to the stove.  It turned out to be exactly six feet so two large 36″ cabinets and a six foot expanse of uninterrupted counter space – I had died and gone to tiny kitchen heaven.  I’m not even joking when I say adding these two cabinets almost doubles our storage space and the counter is the largest counter in my kitchen.

 

We went back and fourth on a few different cabinet set ups (two 18″ cabinets and a 36; a set of 18 in drawers, an 18 inch cabinet and a 35 inch cabinet; a tall 18 inch pantry cabinet, a standard 18 inch cabinet and a 36 – etc.) Finally we decided on the simplest of two 36 inch cabinets and after choosing what we wanted at Lowes, mom made me go over to Home Depot just to make sure I didn’t like what was there better.  Oh am I so glad she made me do that. The cabinets at Lowe’s looked basically the same, except they had two smaller drawers and when you opened the doors there was a small support/divider that ran between the cupboard doors in the front.  The cabinets at home depot have one large drawer and an uninterrupted cabinet space.  OH MY HEAVEN!  I also ended up choosing a different counter top than we had originally picked at Lowes, and in the end I’m very happy with that switch as well.

 

So, with a fair amount of hard work, Chris and my dad spent three days installing the cabinets – which also included moving an electrical outlet (which they switched from a two outlet receptor to a four outlet one!), and then the counter.  Dad also cut and installed a new top on the coffee bar, and cut me SEVERAL new shelves for the bookcases in the dining room.

 

It’s not a total kitchen remodel (none of us could afford that, nor was there anywhere near enough time) but it’s a FANTASTIC kitchen addition.  Mom and I also talked about several of the next steps for continuing the betterment of my tiny kitchen and it’s horrid organization issues.

 

While the guys were working on that, my mom and I had our own project – but that’s another blog post.

 

Until then, I’m going to go drool some more over my new kitchen.  I have already rearranged half my small appliances and drawers twice – I’m sure it’ll be a couple months before I finally figure out the right combination.  just in time to add new things to it for my birthday and Christmas.