The School Room

This will be our fourth year homeschooling, since I consider Pre-K my first year.  Although, sometimes people ask me when I started homeschooling and I say "at birth", which is technically true.  But I didn't use a curriculum until Pre-K.  That first year we just used the kitchen table as our school area, and when we moved to the new house (that we have now lived in for two years) we used the upstairs room to do school.  I filled it with comfy bean bags and a coffee table, because, let's face it, Kindergarten is really mostly about reading and love of learning, so I wanted it to be comfy and fun.  

We moved school downstairs to our dining room last year because every time we went upstairs to do school, Max would spend the majority of his time unpacking the manipulatives.  (Counting beads, scrabble tiles, wooden letters, rubber bands for my geoboard, colored pencils, bingo markers... All.  Over.)  I had special toys for him to play with, they just weren't as exciting as the other stuff.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me to buy locks for the cabinets, but it didn't.  So, we moved school downstairs for Ella's 1st grade year, and that worked fine until this summer, when Issac started pulling himself up on anything he could find.  He discovered our little plastic drawers that we keep our art supplies in, pulled it on top of himself a couple of times, and then discovered he could just open the drawers and entertain himself that way.  Surprisingly, neither of these options were acceptable for me.  Also, during the course of the last year more and more school supplies and maps and books relocated to the dining room and Paul began complaining that the dining room looked too much like a school room (which it was...) but he believed, that since it was also a public space, we should keep our educational marks upon it to a minimum.  

So, I did some brainstorming and decided that the time was ripe to move school back upstairs, this time with cabinet locks and a new set of drawers for supplies, that I think is positioned in such a way that the baby will be unable to terrorize it.

There is also a cedar closet upstairs, which used to be kind of a catch all for pillows and blankets, we also keep our extra twin mattress in there.  We still have all our extra blankets and pillows up there, but I rearranged it so that we have a cozy little reading nook.

Here's a picture of our table.  The kids are old enough that a desk or table is really the best surface for their work.  No more bean bags.  You can also see the cabinet locks.  I keep the stuff in there that we don't use daily.  The other supplies are in a little cabinet under the table; hopefully that will keep it safe from the baby-monster.

Our whiteboard, calendar, maps, and filing cabinet.  Also a soft chair for me to sit in while I crack the proverbial whip.  Yes there are two maps of the United States.  I bought the top one and then a few months later found a matching set with a US and World Map.  The World map is on the other side of the window.  I decided you really don't need that many pictures of the school room, so I didn't include that corner of the room. Those little black things on the wall are binder clips that we use to hang up work that we are proud of.  Usually art work.  Also I hung a bunch of bugs on the wall because I found them on clearance at a homeschool store, and thought, why not?  So we'll be practicing our bug identification a bit, too.

Dallas Arboretum and Children's Garden

We went to the Arboretum and their (fairly newly built) Children's Adventure Garden.  We were there from 9am until 3:30pm or so, but I only snapped a few pictures of this cutie-bug playing in the water.  Clearly I was more busy making memories... or talking with my friends.  

Sudie and Grandpa Jeff's House

For the second year in a row, Susan and Jeff invited all the cousins (that are old enough) to their house for a few days of fun and a big joint "birthday party".  They went swimming, and rock climbing, and made cupcakes and opened presents, and everyone got to pick out their very own candy, which was a totally big deal.  Cereal and Graham Crackers were also part of the fun, treats that my kids pretty much never get. 

I think this picture will go down in history as one of the best cousin pictures ever.

That's Charlotte up at the top, and Jeff helping Ella get started at the bottom.  Apparently they both made it to the top several times.

Here's one with "Baby Tate" (standing next to Max) who you can see is no longer a baby.  He lives in Austin, near Jeff and Susan and got to be part of the festivities, too.  I am guessing it won't be too long before he wants to be a bigger part of the action.


Me and the baby.

While the big kids were in Austin, me and the baby got some quality time together.  Some of that consisted of a shared piece of chocolate cake at Ikea while shopping for a few items for our school room.

I had a long list of things I wanted to get done while the kids were gone, and I am happy to say that I completed most of them and started all of them.  The last thing is halfway done, waiting for me to sand and paint it!  

Cousin Twins

I mean, not twins in looks, or girth, but they are only two months apart to the day.  So, it's really so fun to watch them grow up together.

My phone.

I assume that while I have children in my home without a cell phone of their own, that my phone will never be truly mine.  And I'm mostly okay with that.  There's not much for them to do on my phone anyway, I do have a few educational games on there for emergencies, but they are pretty obedient about not playing games without asking.  I have relinquished almost all control of my camera, because it is easy to erase pictures en masse, and I like seeing what they decide is worth documenting.  But one of their favorite activities is changing the name on my phone.  It is really easy to do, thanks to Siri, and basically their tactic is to say as many silly words as possible until Siri stops recording.  Above, you can see my current name.

Grandma Donna and Grandpa Archie's

My mom and Archie invited the girls to North Carolina for a week last summer.  They got to ride on a plane, where they were served as much soda and peanuts as their little hearts desired.  They were, by their own account, excellent travelers.  We may never know what really happened on that plane, but in their eyes, it was a roaring success.  Here they are at a science museum.

And canoeing.

I think this was at the science museum, too.

And Ella celebrated her 7th birthday in North Carolina.  

After their stay in North Carolina, Ella and Charlotte drove back to Dallas with my Mom and she stayed with us for a few days before heading back to Houston to finish packing up her house.