Spring Cleaning: Entryway, Living Room, and Playroom!

After spending almost two weeks away from home with minimal belongs, it be came ever so clear how much we have at home and don’t need.  A big de-clutter and simplification process began.  I made a mental list to go through movies, books, clothes, toys, and even furniture to simplify our lives.  We took four boxes to Goodwill last week and got rid of (ok, they’re out in the garage waiting) two big pieces of furniture.  I still have work to do, but I’m afraid that I may not get to it, so pictures had to be taken and shared while in a good place.

BEFORE:

the entryway

living room (TV and computer wall)

living room (patio wall) and playroom

living room (sofa corner)

playroom

playroom with sofa moved (mid cleaning though you really can’t tell)

and……….

AFTER:

entryway – All winter hats, gloves, mittens, and coats were moved to the closet for summer storage.  Summer hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and mike helmets took their place on the shelf and spring jackets were hung.  My knitting bag, purse, Ergo, and dog leash are also hung on the rack.  There are also two blankets folded up on that shelf for chilly mornings and cuddle time during movies.

living room (desk) – This is what people first see when they come into our house.  It’s very difficult for me to maintain a clean desk given that’s where I spend a significant amount of time on the computer, playing bills, knitting, etc.  It could still use some improvement, but it’s real and I like it that way.  Notice the missing entertainment center and missing piles of stuff on the floor?

living room and playroom windows – The only change here is that everything has been picked up.  I found some curtains back in a corner that I decided to wash and put up in the playroom because that meant they’re not taking up space on a shelf.  I like the color that they add to the room.

living room (couch corner) – The bookshelf now has function!  At first, I put all the kid DVDs on two of the shelves that came from the entertainment center.  That was a mistake that I corrected this morning after hearing the kids beg several times a day (many days in a row) to watch this movie or that movie that they never realized that we owned.  I made this the baby’s corner with the sheepskin on the floor and a basket full of baby toys on the floor.  The bottom two shelves have the kids’ favorite toys that are also safe for baby.  The third shelf house a clock puzzle, nesting bowls, and a bucket of sidewalk chalk and will likely need to be re-done in a couple of months when little Autumn masters standing.  I have some frequently used school books and a few family DVDs on the tops shelf.  Our nature table is the top of this bookcase.

living room looking into playroom – You can see the blue curtains here and the lack of yet another entertainment center that was used as a toy cabinet.  Many of the toys that were in the cabinet have yet to be gone through and the books that were sitting on top of the cabinet are now on top of the tall bookshelf.  The wooden kids table and chairs (this was in the kitchen) took the place of the toy cabinet.  I’m pondering putting a small shelf over the table to hold art supplies and a some sort of wall file to hold paper.

playroom – Um, this is clutter corner at the moment and has big room for improvement.  I haven’t even started with this area yet.  The bookshelf is crying for attention.  There used to be a train table in the middle of the room with the two carts under it holding wooden train track and mega-blocks.  Three of the four legs broke and after several quick fixes were attempted and failed, a permanent solution needs to be made and I just don’t have the time for it right now with baby in arms so much.  So we have plenty of open space for the kids to play.

playroom library – You can see the other cart full of train tracks, the barn, and the knitted farmyard rug here.  The two small bookshelves contain all of our board books and picture books.  I did go through them and get rid of a couple dozen.  I plan on putting away another shelf’s worth of books and possibly switching to a rotating basket system in the future.  My collection of Everyday Food takes one shelf, which I use every week for meal planning.

playroom looking into living room – Loving all the open space!  We mounted the TV to the wall, but I really dislike all the cords hanging down.  We need to do something about that before the baby discovers the joys of pulling on them.  We use the little chalkboard for circle time, but a certain 3yo was climbing on it to reach the TV, so not sure if it will stay there or move.

So that’s today’s tour!  Hopefully, I’ll come back in a day or two with a few further improvements, but I make no guarantees.  I’d love to tell you to stay tuned for the kitchen and bedroom tours, but you could be in for quite a wait.  This is a slow process and that’s okay!

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Littles During Lessons

I have three little people (6 months, 3yo, and 5yo) to balance during lesson time with my 3rd grader and I’d be lying to you if I told you they play quietly together in a different room while I work with Alex for his main lesson.

I’ve been trying to keep track over the past week or so and here’s what’s really been going on with the little ones during lesson time:

Day 1: I did circle time with them, which included songs, fingerplay, exercises, poems, and a story.  They still wanted my attention during lesson time, but after explaining that they had their turn with mama and that it was Alex’s turn, they did indeed go off and self-entertain for a wee bit.  Izzy continuously checked in every 3-5 minutes to see if Alex’s turn was over yet, but a decent lesson was accomplished.

Day 2: Busier day with produce co-op and I purposefully skipped circle time.  Lesson time was done with morning snack, all kids present.  Some talking over each other at times was done, for better or worse, lesson accomplished.

Day 3: Beautiful day outside and the little ones were riding their bikes on the back patio.  I snuck in a quiet lesson time!

Day 4: Hot day, at least that’s what the kids said.  I thought it was gorgeous with temps in the low 80s!  I put the picnic blanket outside, read a couple of stories to the littles and then tried to have a turn with Alex for lesson time.  This used to work, but it did not on this day.  We had a case of “Mommy, look at this!” and “What’s that?” and an unmotivated 9yo who wanted to read his book and not do lessons with mom.  Frustration quickly ensued.  Work was done, but it did not come easily.

Day 5: Little ones were drawing with coloring pencils in their books “doing their school work” as they say.  Good main lesson accomplished.

Day 6: Appointments early in the day.  Lesson time was moved to afternoon.  Lots of fighting for attention and talking over each other.

Day 7: Littles want to watch a movie so I plug them in during lesson time.  Decent lesson accomplished, but Alex did keep trying to sneak peeks at TV in the other room, so we moved to the other end of the table so temptation was not present.

Day 8: Littles are playing nicely together in the bedroom still in pajamas.  Thinking we’ll get in a good lesson together, but 9yo has other ideas and isn’t feeling the lesson love.  He twiddles his thumbs, makes annoying noises and talks to himself instead of practicing recorder and writing, even with me sitting next to him.  Doubtful that we’ll get to main lesson before lunch, so who knows what the littles will be doing then.

So just a real sample of our life.  We have good days and bad days and I’m trying to learn from both so I can improve our chances at better days in the future.

Back to School Plans

After a two-week long Spring Break, we’re back in full lesson mode today.  I’m so glad that we took the remainder of last week off rather than trying to jump back in.

So here’s what I’m planning for the rest of the year:

This week, Alex is studying Moses from Journey to the Promised Land by Jacob Streit.  We’ll be working our way through the remainder of the stories in the book before switching over to another Native American block in May.

Since we were traveling during Easter and Passover, we’ll take some time this week to reflect on both Holidays and do some hand-on activities in the kitchen.  We have a fridge full of farm eggs so we’ll likely even dye some eggs just for fun.

We’ll be doing math review during April and May by using the Land of Pnome that was recommended by Out Little Nature Nest.  Alex is gonna love this!

Throw in some recorder, knitting, and gardening and we have ourselves full plate!

I admit that I’ve been slacking in the circle time department all winter long, and I’m happy to report that it’s making a come back!  Since winning Season of Joy’s Spring book, I have no excuses, and we had a successful circle time this morning.

I’ve decided to order Dorothy Harrer’s English Manual to get a better handle on our English studies.  It’s more for next year planning than this year, but it couldn’t hurt.

I’ll come back and add hyperlinks later, but for now, I have a grabbing baby on my lap that wants to “help.”

Gardening Mistakes

We had a few set backs with getting the garden in…

The lighting set-up needs to be improved for next year with a full fluorescent set-up.  We tried to get by on a smaller bulb system, and it worked for the seedlings closest to the light source.  In order to maximize our system and have healthier seedlings, we need to upgrade this next year.

We took our seedlings, rack and all outside when the weather became nice and warm, only to have the wind blow the whole thing over.  Most of the seedlings survived the fall.  However, when we tried to compensate for the wind and move the rack up against the house, many (not all!) of the seedlings were baked from the heat reflecting off the bricks.  Oops!  We’re trying to make the most of the seedlings we have left, tomatoes and peppers.

This past weekend, we installed our raised beds and filled them with soil mix (compost, vermiculite, and peat moss.)  We have two 4 x 4 beds, two 1 x 3 x 1 beds for root veggies, and our leftover from last year 12 x 3 bed.

We were proud of our work and ready to plant a few things the next day, only to discover that somebody else liked our work as well and they weren’t so friendly – a swarm of bees!  I think they were scoping out out largest garden plot for a home.  We had a nest of bees a few years back, so maybe they were trying to return home?  They would not allow us near the raised beds and we were puzzled as to what we should do!  I e-mailed a friend who just started keeping bees and asked for her advice.  I went outside last night to investigate further to see if I could identify what kind of bees we were dealing with, and they were gone!  We took advantage of this opportunity and planted broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and cabbage.  No signs of the bees yet this morning, so I’m hoping that they moved on.

And so the gardening season begins.  I’m sure we’ll have a few more bumps on our journey, but with a little luck, we’ll still have something to harvest when all is said and done..

Catching Up!

We had an incredibly busy March and beginning of April.  Just so I can feel like I’m caught up, I’m going to post a bunch of pictures.

We celebrated Izzy’s 3rd birthday:

I helped a dear friend celebrate her second pregnancy with a mama blessing and henna’d her beautiful baby belly:


I gave Izzy’s baby doll hair and pigtails.  I also knit her a cute cardigan using Waldorf Mama’s pattern.  Izzy named her baby Abigail.

We drove to Texas:

I got my haircut:

Introduced Baby Autumn to Grandpa:

Celebrated Alex turning NINE!?!

Welcomed Aunt Megan to the family: (sorry for the bad picture.  I was on kid patrol and didn’t get a chance to take decent pictures.  I did, however, get to dance with my husband.)

The kids got all dressed up:

Had some impromptu family fun in St. Louis:

We just got home yesterday and my to-do list is a mile long.  We’ll start back up with school on Monday to help mama catch up.