Monthly Archives: August 2013

So I threw a dog a party

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Our dog Sadie turned three last Tuesday. She is our first family dog and beloved by everyone but me. OK Ok in moments of quiet I’m strangely drawn to her, but, well there haven’t been any quiet moments. It’s like having a three year old around the house. OK fine I actually do love her, just don’t let her know that. Anyways, my point is that I am not the kind of person who throws birthday parties for animals. That is why I shocked the heck out of myself and everyone who knows me by deciding that Sadie should have a birthday party. Don’t judge me. Don’t congratulate me either, because I did have non dog loving reasons for doing it. My kids. Time is so short and kids are only short for so long, even mine, who at nine and seven are almost as tall as me. They both wanted to give Sadie a party and it being the second day of school, I thought it would be fun to invite their friends. We asked them to bring their pets too, and we had a pet show. I know I know, but guess what, it was SO fun!! I didn’t do it for Sadie, I did it for my children. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
We have a tradition in our house of hanging a birthday banner in the entry way. Out of the four of us, Kaitlyn loves this the most. The night before the party she begged me to put the banner up for Sadie. So I let her help me put it up. Now I know Sadie doesn’t care anything about having a birthday banner, but it meant something to my Kaita. Next year Kaitlyn will most likely be too old to care about doggie birthday parties at least not with the same intensity. I wanted to savor each moment of my daughter’s excitement and think about this event for what is is to me. This is a chance to do something unusual, to experience something with my kids, a once in a life time (probably) chance to create a memory of silly fun, while we are all in a place in our lives to appreciate it to the fullest and want to remember it. The next morning Kaitlyn put the leash on poor unsuspecting Sadie and dragged her into the entry way, and turned her around to see her birthday banner. Classic Kaitlyn.
I made a cake for us to eat (it was a dog bowl), and I made Sadie’s favorite dinner rolls with a special peanut butter frosting for her. The goodie bags were “doggie bags” full of “dog food” coco puffs. The pet show was fabulous and I think everyone enjoyed hearing and presenting their favorite pets and stuffed animals. Kaitlyn presented Bob, one day I will introduce him to you an IMDAB style bio for he truly is a part of this family. Johnny presented his toad. I was left with presenting Sadie. Ok I’ll stop talking now and give you pics!

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7 days of hard work+1st day of school=Epic!

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I worked so hard to make my back porch a place we could really grow and learn and love to spend time in. I wanted to do it all on the sly also, because it’s important to me to give my kids that first day of school excitement, new supplies, book bag, lunch box, new classroom. I will just admit it, I want the best of both worlds.

My goal is for my kids to have all the classic school day memories such as kindergarten graduation (I planned Kaitlyn’s with our co-op group and it was so special!), going to school with friends (co ops baby, check it! they are so awesome!), field trips (totally have had super field trips that far exceeded any (OK all but two) of all the field trips Johnny took during the three years he spent in “regular school”, Kaitlyn had her art work displayed in a gallery with other home schooled kids in the county commissioners building, and the list goes on.

As home schoolers, we have to be resourceful. Our children’s school related memories and experiences are up to us and not tied to convention, but especially for me, tradition is super important. We make our own memories, and the time we share with friends is just that, not being trapped in a classroom with 15 other children who we are forced to be with. I’m stepping away from the soap box, I promise, but really that is what I love about homeschooling. I get to completely tailor my kids school experience to their individual needs while giving them all the fun that traditional schooling brings.

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Like I said before, this is our third year of homeschooling. Kaitlyn has never gone away to school and Johnny completeledthree years in “regular” school.

Johnny needed to go to school. He hated people. Seriously, anyone who was not family was not allowed in his space. Going to preschool was great for him and he learned that friends are awesome and for sure allowed in your personal space. His Kindergarten experience was a little different, and If I didn’t believe that we did the right thing putting him where he was I would regret it every day. I know God put us through that for a reason, and we prayed hard and long during those decision days and followed the Lord right out of that school, and into another one for first grade. The First grade was the beginning of healing for him and I believe God used it as a catalyst to our wonderful homeschooling journey. Through which we have seen Johnny Boy grow by leaps and bounds and learn to trust the Lord on his own through is struggles with school, and Praise be to the Utmost Holy God, brought him and I closer and the celebrations we have over school now are with out a doubt my FAVORITE part of our little back porch school house!

Back to our first day! Johnny and Kaitlyn woke me up at dawn. “Mommy, it’s time for school! It’s time for school!” Yeah, all of you who had to beg, plead, barter with, and otherwise tempt your children out of bed with sumptuous breakfasts, EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT! Yeah, no, just kidding, that wasn’t nice, sorry. I was as shocked as you I promise. But it meant that I did my job, they were super excited for their first day, and it was KILLING them that they hadn’t seen their new classroom and all their goodies. Then the most amazing things happened! The things that made our first day Epic! But pictures first!

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OK, the picture of the plant is in there for proof that it was, at one time, ALIVE. I posses a black thumb, but for this year’s school experience, I wanted to try to keep this one from sleeping with the fishes. I figured a succulent was our best hope. Just to be on the safe side the aquarium contains a toad, not fish.

Now for the epic part of this first day and the close of this post. If it isn’t epic to you that is OK because, again, this is for my benefit too. I want to remember my life and this is worth remembering.

Johnny, after examining everything in the classroom and rejoicing over his angry birds star wars addition eraser above all, came to me with a request. “Mom, can I bring out some things from my room to set up my desk area?” Knowing him and his feelings about school, my heart melted. I knew right then and there that he was looking forward to this year. He came out with his white board from Grammy (thanks Grammy, since you know him, i know it will mean something to you too that he did this.), his Darth Vader pencil case from Grandma (insert similar thank you Grandma note here), and his magnetic darts. This is Johnny making his desk area his own and effectively making his Mama/teacher’s heart soar!!!

Kaitlyn, who is always excited, easy to please, and delightful, came out and loved EVERYTHING! She had to try out everything and explore the whole room! Then, she wrote on the chalk board that she loves school! Followed by our first lesson of the day: learning to spell the word school 🙂 She is an amazingly fun student who loves to learn and HATES for anything to be marked wrong. 🙂 No two students could be better to teach, love, and be a mother to! Praise the Lord for a new year and a wonderful family!

A glimpse into my life after dark

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Last night was an eventful one to say the least. I was woken from a dead sleep by a loud wailing coming from kaita. It was the kind of cry that you feel like u have to run to especially when it serves as your alarm clock at four in the morning. I rushed to the livingroom and there on the giant (best five bucks we ever spent at a yard sale) beanbag is Kaitlyn. She looked up at me woefully and with big crocodile tears she sobbed “she…didn’t…COME!!!”. The it dawned on me….the tooth fairy had fallen down on the job-AGAIN! At that moment I was so thankful that it was four o’clock in the morning and still very dark and that my daughter is super gullible. This isn’t the first time I have had to cover for that hussy tooth fairy, and another thing,she is always trying to sleep with my husband :). So I took kaitlyn in my arms and I told her not to worry that it wasn’t morning yet that the tooth fairy would come, she just had to go back to sleep. So I laid down with her and we counted sheep, and I slipped a dollar twenty five in quarters under her pillow and went back to bed ( dang tooth fairy owes me)

Back Porch School House

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Hi, My name is Rachel. I am a Christian, wife, mother of two, stay-at-home mom and home school teacher. In my spare time I love to write, decorate cakes, organize stuff (although you might never know it :), sing, shop and READ READ READ, as well as other various and sundry things that usually get me into trouble :).

Anyways, the purpose of this blog is to share with anyone willing to listen and see my life, mainly as a homeschool mom, but occasionally the other things going on in our life. I hope they will be an inspiration to someone, and if not, this will be my way of recording the precious moments that I want to remember as they are and not as I make them out to be in my crazy head later.

ImageOur back porch is where I have set up our school room. This is our third year out there. It is the only place on our property where I can close off to the rest of the house and have an area big enough to conduct school in the way that works the best for us. It is not completely enclosed and is a screened in area which presents some interesting challenges. I believe I have found some ways to meet these challenges. They may help you too, so I will share my insights here.

I like things to be in order, not necessarily immaculately clean, but organized. The more organized I am the more focused I become. I am a lover of making lists and sticking to them, and everything having a place. I live by the rules. To clarify:I live by MY rules and absolutely hate anyone telling me to live by theirs. I enjoy other people’s rules as a guideline. I love boundaries, they make me feel secure, it is only when I have boundaries that I am comfortable enough to totally and completely delight in pushing them. After carefully planing where I want them pushed so that I can stay with in them my own way of course. I follow my own rules to the letter baby!

This is why homeschooling is fun for me. I love teachers manuals, they give me boundaries and insight, and I can take them and rework them for what my family needs, while staying on track.

Anyways here are the challenges that my screened in back porch presented to me this year and they ways I have found to make the space work for us.

1. Rain and humidity

2. heat

3. Crappy outdoor carpet that is stained and impossible to clean.

4. Dirt

5. Storage

6. Portability (this is essential for all home schools that I have come across but especially true for us when the aforementioned rain visits.)

7. Comfort (especially when reading time comes)

Here is what I had to work with after I took up all the ugly brown outdoor carpet up. That was a chore in itself, but I gotta say I felt like a super hero when I was done ripping, cutting, pulling, rolling, and dragging it to the curb in the 98 degree heat. (my fan/light was broken and it is a screened in back porch in south Florida. Your applause and admiration at my exceptional demonstration of determination are very much appreciated hehehe)

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There was also a very rusted puke green colored metal shelf that used to be in my garage. Along with a rocking horse my kids have outgrown, and toys, games, and crafting supplies to contend with.

Ok, so here is what I did. First, I painted all the walls white. The difference was phenomenal and instantly made my CDO (It’s the same as OCD, but the letters are in alphabetical order like they are supposed to be) brain take a big breath followed by a contented sigh. Motivation reigns supreme as we head to the next step in the transformation: Shopping.

Besides the required school supplies, yes I have my own list, I needed storage solutions, paint and fabric. Walmart doesn’t post Andersen Academy lists, but they should because it is SPECTACULAR and much cheaper than all the other schools insert wicked laugh here.

Then I had to paint. I found an online post featuring a room with all white walls and furniture with color splashed around the room using accessories. I fell in love with it and used it as my inspiration. Since I already had all white wall and almost all white furniture it worked very well as a jumping off point. I left the white furniture white, but painted the other items in bright colors that I loved and thought went well together.

When the painting was finished, I arranged the furniture, and then using the storage items I acquired over the years and my shopping trip, I organized everything. The most important thing to me what to create a space that met our needs and stayed with-in my budget of my weekly grocery money. Believe it or not I ended up only spending 24 dollars over my grocery money for the entire room for the monthy budget. Yes, that is all my groceries and schoolroom stuff included for the month! My secrets are, Prayer and lots of research and of course SHOPPING, My wonderful handy and helpful as well as amazing, and handsome Husband, and my children’s generous Grandparents and great grandparents all of whom have contributed in their own ways with love and support!

Ok lets go back and refer to the challenges we went over before and include the solutions. Then comes the after shots!

1. Rain and humitiy. With my porch being screened in the rain comes in sometimes. Thank God it is usually only if the wind blows it in, which isn’t all that often. But, when it does come in we have to move anything we don’t want wet. Three things that help with our possible rain problem are: portability (all our text books, manipulatives, and any other paper products must be moved and closed up). I fixed this by only putting out what we need for every day use, and making sure each childs books are in a separate portable container. This way we can quickly move anything we need to. Its actually helped out a lot and you will see in the after pics how it works. Outdoor Fabric (I used outdoor fabric to cover anything that needed fabric, and an outdoor rug I found for 20 bucks made out of recycled plastic bottles. I cannot believe how soft it is and its perfect.

These additions solved the rain problem very well, largely contributing to the success of our school room.

2. heat: Well heat as not been a problem. We get out there early and are finished by the heat of the day and because my porch is nice and shady it works out nice. OH YEAH, and after I did all that work all week in the heat sweating profusely because my fan was broken, yeah the first day of school Johnny turned on the fan and it worked! I had been using the wrong switch, but before you judge me and say someone that dumb shouldn’t be homeschooling her children, remember I USE TEACHERS MANUALS. 🙂 So yeah, shade and fan and done by the heat of the day solves the heat problem.

3. Crappy outdoor carpet that is stained and impossible to clean. I ripped out the carpet, the concrete is easy to clean. I bought the rug to replace it.

4. Dirt (ok the only solution to this one is to clean frequently, I can’t say I have created a new way to get around that. If i ever do, be sure I will share it with you first. Incidentally I expect the same in return from all of you.)

5. Storage. This one was fun. I had some terracotta flower pots from last year and found some little metal buckets in the dollar section. I went and bought some fabric bins that matched my color pallet and totally found some multicolored chevron patterned ones, so cute! I used the fabric bins for our text books, teachers materials, and manipulatives. I also had the drawers and shelves in my wicker cabinet as well as my other school cabinet.

6. Portability (this is essential for all home schools that I have come across but especially true for us when the aforementioned rain visits.) The Storage solutions solved this problem.

7. Comfort (especially when reading time comes) I created a reading nook by recovering my outdoor chair cushion with outdoor fabric i got for $2.99!and adding throw pillows (i found at good will)to the top of my wicker cabinet. Also, i covered two squares of cork with outdoor fabric scraps and attached the orange rope handles from a gift bag to them to make a place my kids can hang their art work and school papers to display.The rug is wonderfully soft and provides warmth from the concrete on the two days of year that it is cold down here. The stool I recovered in scraps of utility fabric left over from another project, actually is a great place to sit for hours while teaching and grading and all of that. So, our comfort needs are met, with out compromising our other needs.

All in all I am so happy with how it turned out and can’t wait to give you the tour! Here it goes! The kids were not allowed to see it till the first day of school. I like that their first day excitement of a new class room mirrored mine as a child. I like that my children can be home schooled and not deprived of a lot of the more fun things that going to school brings.

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