This week, we officially started our second year of homeschooling.
About a month ago, I started the planning process of getting all of our curriculum ordered, put together, and organized, along with trying to refresh the space we use in the basement as our "homeschool room".
We bought the house with our basement unfinished, but as we've had both the time and the money (why does it seem like those two things are rarely available simultaneously?), my husband has been working really hard at framing, hanging sheet rock, wiring the electrical, taping and mudding, etc., and even though he's a total rockstar for being able to do all of this, he is only one guy. And we've had other priorities in life that have kept us from pouring our heart, soul, and bank account into this.
Saying all of that to say, our basement is sloooooowwwwwly, but surely, getting finished.
But it's still mostly unfinished.
So until it's done, I just have to make due with what we have.
Even when its dark and unpainted and has concrete floors...
But hey, as the old saying goes:
When life gives you sheetrock...
you make lemonade with a bunch of cute decorations from Target!
(Maybe I'll put that on a T-shirt.)
(And make millions.)
(So we can hire professionals TO FINISH OUR BASEMENT.)
I started off by painting our craft table downstairs and recovering all of the chairs in different patterns and fun, bright colors.
(Speaking of lots of bright colors, how drastic of a heart attack do you think this room would give Joanna Gaines if she saw it? Poor Jojo.)
Anyway, the kids totally love the chairs and I do as well, particularly because I also covered the seats with plastic material over the fabric.
(See how they're kind of shiny and ABLE TO BE EASILY WIPED OFF? Yes please to that.)
Both the darling little colored pencil banner and that fun map of the U.S. came from the Target Dollar Spot back in August, along with the lined strips that I wrote the alphabet on.
Which are useful for my more visual child, who on a daily basis will randomly ask while writing something "How do you do 'E' again?"
To which I go "Honey, it's the third letter in your name. See? You write 'Vienna' like fifty times a day, you goofball."
And then she giggles and rolls her eyes at herself and goes back to trying to remember how to start E.
The days of the week signs are literally just words I typed up, printed out, and glued on scrapbook paper. I wanted to give my kids a simple (AND BRIGHT!) visual of what we consistently have going on during every week and on which day.
Co-Op! Discipleship Group! School! Church!
My goal is that by the end of this year, no one will be asking me every Wednesday night if Dad is staying home tomorrow.
Our Verse of the Week is also just typed and printed, and then put on scrapbook paper and hung on a frame that I stapled chicken wire to the back of.
(I probably have too many of these throughout my home but I love them and am obsessed with chicken wire and am not sorry.)
(...also, let me know if you want me to make you one, because I totally will. I can't stop...)
Even though I knew having a Verse of the WEEK sign might end up being a little too ambitious for our actual pace, let's face it, it was shorter than putting Verse of the Month or Verse of THE ENTIRE FALL SEMESTER on there.
Verse of the 2017-2018 NFL SEASON!
Verse of the AVERAGE LENGTH OF A HOLLYWOOD MARRIAGE!
Ok, I'll stop now.
Either way, I'm not worried about how long it takes us on each verse, or even how many we accomplish for that matter. I would rather work on one or two verses the whole year and see their hearts actually getting it, rather than have a bunch of nicely put-together kids who have the whole bible memorized but whose souls are cold and black.
Can I get an Amen?
We have this fun, skinny Ikea bookshelf for our school stuff.
The blue, metal bin is our "Morning Basket" as they are sometimes called, where all of the books for that day go into, so that I can feel somewhat prepared, instead of flustered and disorganized when the kids are all hyper and excited to get their learn on.
I came across that 3-drawer plastic bin at Aldi last month and snatched it up immediately.
It gives the kids a little ownership over their workbooks and folders, even though August's drawer is a complete lie and pretty much just there to make him feel involved.
(He is not even three years old and I refuse to teach math to someone who still poops their pants.)
Last, but not least, I hung up this little chalkboard to a remind myself of what I seem to be constantly needing to hear these days.
Don't forget to enjoy them.
I am on a mission right now to not get so hung up on all of the millions of things that my job as a mother entails, that I forget that they are my job.
I'm making an effort to not get over-focused on all of the things we're going to do or get done (even if they are good and important things), so much so that I turn into a hideous stress monster trying to accomplish them.
I am simplifying and giving myself permission to CHILL.
And the way I am chilling out, is by trying to only pick the right battles and just going with the flow.
I am like Emily Gilmore after reading Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up.
"Does this bring me joy? ...No. Toss it!"
Example A: Oh, are none of my kids paying attention to the book we're reading and I'm getting frustrated because they are NOT ABSORBING ALL OF THIS RICH EDUCATION plus they are also tearing apart the throw pillows on my couch like bored, feral children?
Guess what? We're done!
This book is not bringing us joy right now.
We're closing it and going outside to dig for worms.
Example B: Has my son resorted to repeatedly breaking his pencils in half out of frustration because his perfectionistic self CANNOT EVEN HANDLE the lopsided 'Z' he just tried to write?
Guess what? We're done!
Z's are not bringing us joy right now.
We will pick them up later, because Z's aren't going anywhere, and right now we just need to move on to the next thing or go have a snack.
Recently my wise friend, Stephanie, was telling me about the math curriculum her kids use and she said, "I put a timer on for 15 minutes. They work for that whole time and then are done. Because otherwise, if I told him to just do six math problems, it could either take 20 minutes or 8 hours, and I don't want to waste this precious season with my kids, fighting with them."
This is what I'm talking about.
More than 15 minutes of math does not bring Stephanie joy. Hence the timer.
(But for the record, Steph also says that they end up working faster and more efficiently this way.)
Obviously, there is a certain level of structure that I still plan around, I am way too Boy Scouty at heart to be a total willy-nilly unschooler. We use Sonlight, which is a christian literature-based curriculum, and I really do enjoy the structure it gives us and how the whole year is planned out for me with a weekly and daily schedule. It's a great spring board to go off of, because there are so many amazing books and activities involved that my kids completely soak up and genuinely love.
And then the ones that don't bring us joy? Gone!
One of the biggest factors I'm trying not to take for granted right now, is how young my kids still are. They're not teenagers who reeeeally need to figure out this whole algebra thing or they won't get into college.
And 6. And 3.
If there was ever a time for minimalism, it's now.
They don't need to be feeling spaced out and overwhelmed at this stage of their life, and neither do I. My heart is to use our home education to develop in them a complete, head-over-heels LOVE for learning. I want them to be encouraged in their curiosities and giftings, and definitely don't want to stomp that out by forcing stuff on them that they hate or just aren't ready for yet.
They will be doing some level of formal education for probably the next couple of decades, so why should I be all gung ho about it now when this is really their only time to have the freedom to just be a kid?
To be a kid.. in a ridiculously bright colored room! With an unfortunate drywall situation and their craft projects hanging on cinderblocks! With chairs that they can spill Elmers glue on without making mommy cry and lots of fun books to explore whenever they want!
So as of now, our homeschool room is a cute, weird mess of a space.
Which is exactly what it should be for this season.
Hopefully someday I'll be able to post a second edition and we might even have paint on the walls and (gasp) carpet!
And MAYBE I'll even be able to report that my kids know what day of the week it is!
(Let's all pray and intercede that both of these things happen soon-ish.)
We started reading The Boxcar Children this week, which was the perfect chapter book to start them with because it's awesome and they totally love it. Every time I close the book, they've asked me to keep going (which I, of course, do.)
After we read the chapter when the children find the boxcar and have their first meal in it, we went outside to our playhouse and sat on the floor, eating blueberries, milk, bread, and cheese together.
Just like Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny did.
Does this bring me joy?
Yes, it does.