The Fall That Helped Me Take the Plunge…


We have what’s been affectionately dubbed as “Crazy Birthday Week” in our home – 3 birthdays all in one week! So it’s been a busy week of celebrating 10, 8 and mid-30′s {ahem}. The two kids who didn’t have birthdays this month learned lessons in contentment and “not-mine”.  I caught Greta inspecting Keegan’s cake, whispering to herself mine

And then, the day after my birthday, the Lord gifted me with a blessing-in-painful-disguise.  He’s been moving me to a place of rest for the last month or two.  I’ve slowly dialed back some of my commitments so I can focus on my health and nurturing relationships, both familial and with my Heavenly Father. Once you get going, it is hard to slow down. I’ve struggled with fear of letting people down and other but, but, but’s…  And lately I felt that nudge to unplug and unwind, but have been hesitant to take the plunge.

So as I was hanging out with my neighbor and watching our kids play in the rain I noticed that Greta had dropped an umbrella which was now being blown away by the wind.  Only a moment after I sprang into action to recapture the runaway umbrella, my body went one way while my feet went another, landing me square on my elbow.  {Is it normal to see your own bone when this happens?!?}

Even two days later it is still painfully swollen and I am basically out of commission.  My sweet hubby is taking this post via dictation, so that I can let you know that I will be unplugging, mostly, for the immediate foreseeable future.  Looks like I will have plenty of time to tackle my reading list and continue to watch these kids of mine step up and help their one-armed mama.

Hopefully I will be back here in a few short weeks…

Room to Learn… A peek into our learning spaces

Homeschooling?  What do YOU want to do to set the stage for a life-style of learning?

As we dive into a new year, I love to sit back and take stock.  I’m reminded that one of the benefits of homeschooling is that it doesn’t have to take place in a schoolroom or between the hours of 8 and 2, Monday thru Friday.  No, education is an atmosphere.  It’s a way of life.  But it is also a discipline and in the name of taming chaos, we have spaces in our home devoted to some of our learning adventures.  I’m giving you a peek at those today. But the reality is that learning takes place everywhere.

Yours will undoubtedly look different.  Each family has their own particular interests, their own limitations on space, their own unique style.  But we can all take steps to take stock of our homes and prepare our environment to foster the learning process.  We need to give them room to learn.  Not in the sense of space, but rather with opportunity, flexibility, and accessibility in the home.

For me that means taking stock of my priorities and striking that balance with the need for order with the “clutter” that comes with everyone living and learning in one space. It’s ever a work in progress.

Over here, we seek to have a home that is bustling with creativity, one that is warm and happy.  It is not perfect.  It doesn’t look perfect.  In fact, oftentimes it is downright messy.  And the people that live here are beautifully (and sometimes painfully) imperfect too.  But this is our home where we learn and grow together.  In setting the stage for this atmosphere of learning, I like to have:

Room to Read

Give your kids access to books!


Reading to our kids is one of the best gifts we can give them, even reading the same book over and over again.  There are so many benefits to reading aloud and it is a priority over here. Our bookshelf is the newest addition to our home.  I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of person and in my mind had the grand idea of huge bookcases gracing my home.  Well, that simply can’t be a reality right now, but when we were given these old bookcases this summer, we decided to move things around and find a place for it.  Seriously, I wish I had not aimed at “perfection” and found a way to get bookcase like this a while ago.  Now that we’ve sorted our books by category (science, history – chronologically, geography, fiction, readers, etc) I’m finding that we all use the books we own far more.  Before I had them stuck in various boxes or on random smaller bookshelves around the home.  I like having “Reading Central” in the main place where we spend our time!

So where do we actually read?  The couch, the floor, on a bed – wherever we find ourselves at that particular moment.

Room to Explore

Setting the stage to explore scientific and mathematical concepts with a #STEM corner.

This is a new corner in our home.  I’ve finally drummed up the nerve to pull my microscope out.  I {theoretically} love the idea of my kids finding treasures outside or around the home and inspecting them in greater detail.  In our “Explore” box I’ve placed our magnifying glasses, binoculars, blank slides and {eeek} some Methylene Blue.  If you find me venting on my facebook page that the kids have dyed my carpet blue, you’ll know that this little experiment is over.  But I’ve discovered that my toddler girl is completely different than my toddler boys.  With some training, I’m feeling confident that I can teach her to not touch this corner without mommy there!  I found this amazing microscope book that details all kinds of wonderful things you can look at with your microscope, so I’m hoping to strew this and a few other books around the home and invite them to start exploring!

Housed at this station are our math exploration tools as we take a more “game-based” approach to math this semester.  I bought these two Ikea stands off of craigslist 2 years ago and I finally feel like I’ve hit my groove and figured out what I want to do with it.  Home decorating and organization don’t come naturally to me, so it usually takes me forever to get projects like this off the ground.  Each kid has two drawers that are color-coded for them.  One box contains their Bible and Awana books and the other is for whatever treasures they want to keep downstairs, but I don’t want to keep finding on the floor or worse, all over my kitchen counter top!  When they finish both their time of devotions and practicing AWANA verses, they can flip the tub over so it reads DONE. {Thanks, to this idea that I pinned so very long ago.}

Room to Write and Store

Here is where I do much of our spelling dictation.  We utilize our white board to jot down ideas for a story or writing asignment and it serves as an impromptu place for me to jot down that grocery item or blog idea that pops into my head when we are busy with our studies…

This also is my storage central station.  Beneath that flowered cloth cover is my filing cabinet and then you get a glimpse of my messy book shelf with all of our curriculum and stuff.  Since we are now several weeks into our new school year, it is already woefully messy.  #RealLife for you.

Room to Make Connections

I love our KONOS timeline {the new ones are thinner, making it easier to fit into a smaller space}.  Even if we were to switch to another curriculum, I’m sold on having this timeline up.  Even the youngest can distinguish before Jesus or after Jesus.  We are blessed with a large corner section of wall where we can really spread this out.  I had this timeline as a girl and found it so helpful to make connections when studying art, science, music, political history and anything else.  I liked seeing the scope of history at a glance.  When we learn about some event or some person, we’ll place that on the timeline and look to see who were contemporaries to that person or event.  It helped me on many a college exam when I was able to place people and events mentally on our timeline and into the course of history.


Room to Travel

We just bought new maps at Costco to replace our tattered old one, since we will be doing a lot of geography this year.  I like to put them down low to the ground to invite them to sprawl and explore.  {Our world map still needs to be put up next to the States one.} It’s a way of travelling to far off lands without needing to leave home.  Our globe that a friend gave us is still holding together, barely.  I cannot believe how much we have used it. And they still pull out the Global Twister map I designed several years ago.  With our new-to-us bookcase, we get to have all of the geography books down low as well!

Room to Chat


This place in my home is where I converse with the Lord and oftentimes it is where one of my kids will pull up a stool and talk to me as well.


I’ll be the first to admit that my home could be better organized.  I still need to take steps to tame the clutter, but perfection is not our goal.  Perseverance in the context of relationship as we pursue faithfulness to the Lord’s calling is what matters.  With that in mind, I continue to move in the direction I feel the Lord leading as we facilitate the explorations and growth we are called to experience as a family.


P.S. In honor of crazy birthday week (3 people birthdays and 1 book birthday), I’m having a flash sale on my book, The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks.  Use the coupon code “BIRTHDAY” to get $3 off the print or ebook!

Flash Sale - Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks.  Harness the power of quick movement breaks to focus and learn!

Not Back to School Blog Hop: School Rooms


Our Learning Adventure Plan: 5th, 3rd, 1st


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Sometimes they take you literally & other adventures in the imagination


The imagination is a powerful tool.  Of course, sometimes it can have some funny results.  Take my two year old, for example.  I was craving soft pretzels a couple of weeks ago and delighted my family by actually baking during our summer heat.  The … [Continue reading]

Am I a Bona Fide Homeschooler Now?


I remember the day we hired our first babysitter.  It only took us 2.5 years to get around to it.  A wedding was coming up that our entire family would be attending as well, so our go-to childcare option was off the table.  It was the first time we … [Continue reading]

7 Ways to Help Our Children Conquer Boredom


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Why kids need us to read the same book over and over again…


  As our families gathered this last Mother's Day, we were swapping favorite books for little kids. That's what the women in my family love to do - talk books!  Husbands, on the other hand, like to photo bomb nice pictures.  I was telling my … [Continue reading]

Fresh Inspiration for Nature Walks!


Well, I'm back and settling into normal everyday life and dealing with those periodic pesky technical issues that currently center around email.  :Gasp: I accidentally deleted my entire blog/book email inbox.  So if you have tried to reach me in the … [Continue reading]

Will I get to meet you? Here’s an introduction.


Life is kicking into high gear this week.  After spending last week on the couch with a horrible cold, this week finds me thankful to have found my voice again and getting excited to head out to Pennsylvania for the CHAP Homeschool Convention this … [Continue reading]

Idle Time Births Creativity


Last week laid me out.  I had a heavy cold that put me out of commission for a week.  I couldn't breathe, didn't sleep well, lost my voice.  You know, that kind of sick...  It meant that after a few feeble attempts at a spelling lesson, I called it … [Continue reading]