And so does our garage.

Which I find to be rather unpleasant.

To be continued...



Tiger is an 8 week old male...um...kitten.  Not sure what I was going to write, like I had this special $100 cat or something.  Nope.  Free kitty from my friend, Mandi.  But isn't he cute?!


Midnight was also free from down the road.  She's about 6 weeks and is such a tiny little thing!

This is where they live...the Spectacular 5 Star Garage and eventually (when they're not scaredy cats...sorry I couldn't help myself) outside as well.  The garage is a convenient place for them to live since we have mice that also find solace there, and we're not mice people.

The kids and I are having a ton of fun with them.  So far, they beat the chickens in cuteness, cuddliness, and overall fun, which (let's be honest) is not that hard to accomplish.  Chickens stink and aren't cuddly.  At all.  No matter what those chicken lovers say.  Just plug your ears to the lies.  (No offense to any crazy chicken lovers.  No offense about the "crazy" either.  Right?  Good.  Because you know you're crazy...)

So, back to cats.  I've only ever had one cat in my whole, wide life, and he didn't stick around very long.  But he sure left an impression on the kids and me (not Nate - at all - since he happens to be allergic to many furry animals, including cats, but what a good sport he is letting me live out some of my animal dreams!  Love you my dear.)

We always thought it would be fun to get another cat (or cats).  And I really wanted a male and female so that we could study reproduction in school and then witness it in real life.  HA!  No, really.  I'd like Midnight to become a mommy.  I've been blessed by motherhood, so I'm only looking out for her own good.  ;)  She just better learn to get along with Tiger and not hiss when he comes near.  She has issues.  Or maybe it's him.  Either way, they'll just have to learn to get along.  Really well.

 Anyway, we're pretty excited about our new little furry friends.  Come on over and see them sometime!  We'll be happy to show them off...as long as they don't come to the same demise as some feathered creatures I once had.  So far, I haven't been all that great with animals (clearing throat).
I'm sure this adventure will be different.

Right.  :)


2012/2013 School Year Pictures!

Linking up to iHomeschool Network for their Not Back to School Blog Hop: Student Photo Week.

Our older two children will actually get "real" school pictures this year because they are attending the homeschool Wednesday school program at a nearby Christian school.  However, I don't normally think traditional school pictures are the best, so I most likely won't be buying the package (unless I'm overtaken by a wave of sentimentality and/or think they are the cutest pictures ever, which are two situations that are not very likely to happen).

Therefore...the following photos were taken for the 2012/2013 school year.  My husband thinks it's strange that I took "school" pictures in the summer, but, hey, there's this "Hop" that I'm participating in and I'm just following the rules.  ;)

Emilia - 8 years old - 3rd Grade
Jonny - 6 years old - 1st Grade
Matthew - 4 years old - Preschool
Tommy - 2 years old - Official noise maker during school ;)
 And here are some other pictures from the photo shoot:

He really wanted a backpack photo since he'll get to use his backpack this year for Wed. school.  :)

I asked Jonny to show me how excited he was to start school.  :)
Oh my sweet Matthew Bud...such a cutie!
Adorable Emilia...old enough to not really want a princess lunch box for Wed. school...sigh.
And funny Tommy, hamming it up as usual!

Enjoy your school year!


Organizing Our Homeschool

Today, I'm linking up to iHomeschool network for the Not Back to School Blog Hop:  School Room Hop.

I really enjoy seeing how others organize their homeschool.  When I was first thinking about homeschooling, all I wanted to do was to be invited to other homeschooling families' homes so I could see how this thing called "homeschooling" was done.  

What I've learned over the years is that each family is so different and that's the beauty of homeschooling.  You can organize/decorate/do/use what works for you and your family.

So, this is how we organize our homeschool.  :) 

We live in a ranch style home with each room being used for its intended purpose, which means that we do not have a separate room for our school stuff.  However, I enjoy using our small spaces in creative ways to accommodate homeschooling, while still maintaining the style of decor that I like.  In the past, I've had different ways of organizing our homeschool.  This was one way we used to have our "school space" set up.

Currently, this is where our kids do some of their independent, sit-down, pencil-type schoolwork.  Here's a post about this area.  We also use the kitchen table which is on the other side of the kitchen - just opposite this table.  It's nice to have two places for kids to be separated if they need their "own space".

All of their current school work is in those baskets.  I also bought these Ikea magazine files and those fit on each side of the baskets.  They hold their planners and some lightweight workbooks and readers.

I used to have plastic rolling drawers in the entry closet that held paper, crayons, markers, art supplies, play dough, etc. but my entry closet was always cluttered.  In order to free up closet space, I was looking for a new storage unit that could go in the hallway to hold all the school/art supplies.  I recently found this cabinet at an antique store.  It was exactly what I had been looking for.  Even the color was perfect! 

The elephant carving is a souvenir from a mission's trip to Thailand.  I lugged that thing on the plane as my carry-on.  Everyone thought I was nuts (including myself at times!), but I'm so happy I bought it.  It's such a beautiful work of Thai art!

Before we entered the store, I warned my children that there would be "absolutely no touching".  Jonny (6 years old) replied, "What happens if my arm accidentally flings out (exuberant flinging of his arm ensues) and touches something?"  After laughing, I told him that there will be "absolutely no accidental flinging of arms".  They all did very well in the store, and there was no accidental (or otherwise) flinging of arms.  :)

Emilia and I searched through the house to find any baskets, buckets, and jars we could find to hold all of the "stuff".  I wanted it to look organized and cute, but I also didn't want to spend a lot of money on matching baskets to achieve my goal.  

Painting supplies.  Everything is easily accessible and not too crowded so that it's convenient for little hands.

The markers are in the box (that came with a whole set of car waxing stuff) on the bottom shelf.  The basket on the top shelf holds the scissors, glue and tape.  

I've had this elephant bucket sitting in my basement for years, just waiting for a purpose.  It now holds paper and coloring books.  :)

And here is a view of our "school space" all together.  I like that it's close to the kitchen so that I can check on whatever they are doing while I'm doing what I do - making food, cleaning up the food, making more food, cleaning up again...  ;)

As far as extra storage for books and curriculum I'm not currently using, we have built in shelving in our living room, space under the couch, and tall metal filing cabinets in our basement.

The "command center".

The organized cabinet that holds children's picture books.

The unorganized cabinet that holds mostly baby toys and books with some random school stuff as well.

I cut down boxes to use for more book storage under the couch. We have a lot of books.

And here's the messy chapter book bookshelf (at least the books aren't all over the ground like they often are) and the load of laundry that I hadn't folded when I took the picture.  :)

Right next to the couch in our living room, I keep a basket full of our library books.

And when they are done reading the books, they go in this basket that's in our new entryway closet area.  I used to put all the library books that needed to be returned on the ledge next to the door, but that looked so messy.  So, I decided we needed a new place.  This is working out much better.  Emilia will sit here against the pillows to read.  So practical.  Gotta love that.

So, there you have it!  Our homeschool.  :)

(Also linked up to the Hip Homeschool Hop)


Entryway Closet - Before and After

This was our unorganized, often messy, ugly front entryway closet with sliding doors that were always in the way (can you tell I didn't like it very much?  ;) ):

I saw this idea and this idea on Pinterest and wanted to do something similar in our house.

I also didn't want to spend any money if at all possible.

Last Saturday, I took everything out of the closet.  We had things in the closet that we rarely used (games) and other things that were seasonal (coats and shoes).  So, I took the majority of the stuff down to our basement.  All the school supplies that were in those plastic containers went in our new school hutch.

Then I painted it with leftover paint and brought in a bench that Nate had made for me years ago (it was hidden in my bedroom closet).  I also moved baskets, decorations, and pillows into the closet area from around the house.

The basket holds books that we need to return to the library.  The pillows have even been put to use by Emilia who has found a comfy, new place to read.

I'm still planning on adding a white board along the back under the white shelf that has some hooks on it for coats, purses, etc., but for now I'm so happy with how it turned out without having to spend any money! 

Doing projects like this is so fun for me.  I really like the fresh new look!

Disclaimer:  I just bought those wooden shoes at a garage sale, knowing that I'd use them in decorating the entryway closet (my husband is half Dutch and I've been looking for a pair of wooden shoes - at a good price - for awhile).  So, technically, this re-do cost a total of $5.  :)

UPDATE:  Finally got the closet finished with hooks - pic below!  Click here to read about the new look. 

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