Happy Memorial Day!

Are you enjoying this long weekend? Any big plans for today? We got to visit with dear friends yesterday, but today is all business. My kids are doing school today. We trying to get ahead so we can take time off in October for a family trip.

Organization is on my mind. We spend Saturday going through piles of toys and clothes and organizing them into rubber maids. Rubber maids have got to be the cheapest way to make a closet look organized. Thanks to my husband, who has some crazy organization skills, we transformed two rooms that have been overflowing with toys, junk, and random plastic things, into serene spaces. It has taken a weight off my shoulders to say the least.

However we are not done. I have several boxes with school books I would like to put into a bookcase. Here are some favorites I wanted to share with you. Lately I have been drawn to the lawyer bookcase look and library style bookcases. I paired expensive ones with cheaper ones in each row.

Top row: I like the glass doors on these, no more dusting. The left one is from IKEA and costs $135, the right on is from Crate and Barell $349.

Middle row: The left one is from World Market and costs around $600. The one on the right is from Sundance costs $1,895.

Bottom row: I saw the one on the left at Costco for under $200. The one on the right is from Pottery Barn and costs $1,199.

It would be so great to have all my school books so easily accessible.

I have to wrap it up, my 8 year old has been waiting to get on the computer to play his game.

See you back here soon,



First Day of School

Kid’s out fits from left to right:

On Natasha: one-piece from H&M. On Lucille: Benetton top and skirt. On Ella: Top and skirt from H&M. On Shane: Top from Old Navy, shorts from Benetton. On Esther: top from Gap. On Finn: top from Polo.


How is your week going? Ours is a whirlwind. My head is spinning. We started school last Monday. My oldest started high-school and my second oldest middle school with K-12, an online school. Not only is this school new to us, it is new here in the state as well. That translated into some confusion, technical difficulties (because it is mostly online), and frustration. But that is just how it is with new things. I see it as good practice for college. I expect the next week to be much better. So far I’m pleased with k-12. They seem to have a classical bent, which is what we have been doing. We are trying it for this year and re-evaluating for next year. I’m teaching the rest of the gang myself. Shane is starting 3rd grade, Ella 1st, and Lucille is demanding a rigorous pr-school curriculum involving a lot of coloring. In fact I have to start out my day with her; she won’t let me work with anyone else. Natasha, the toddler, chimes in with her coloring book, as well.

I have been asked before what I do with my younger ones when I school the older ones. Here are some things I have tried int the past or think about trying to keep the younger ones happy.

  • Buy educational toys, coloring books, even pre-school books for school hours only. I keep those toys in the school closet. That makes it special and helps them to know they get to do school also.
  • If you can tolerate messes, let them play bubbles in the sink, Play-doh, water colors, hand painting, etc.
  • Set a schedule and schedule some time with the older ones playing with the younger ones. For example my 14 year old may have an hour a week to play with my 1 year old.
  • A schedule is a really good idea. You can schedule times when your little ones play on their own with designated toys such as Legos or Playmobil. For more on schedules read: “Managers of Their Homes” by Teri Maxwell. She has tons of different kinds of schedules, even for people who DO NOT schedule.
  • I try to start off my day “schooling” my 4 year old, meaning I let her scribble in a pre-school book and I teach her letter sounds. This lets me have one on one time with her first. This way she is satisfied and can move on to other things.
  • Often I do lessons with the older ones on the couch while my youngest sits on my lap.

How about you? Do you have little ones? What have you found helpful? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Have a great day!


First Day of School

German School Supplies


it is almost August and school is on my mind big time. Everywhere you shop you are bombarded with school supplies. Personally I am going to wait until the day when you can buy tax free, but during my recent visit to Germany they had school supplies available at a deep discount. So I went to town and bought some items I can’t get here. Take a look:

German kids keep all their writing utensils neatly organized in these. Everything has its place: the ruler, the markers, pencil sharpener, etc. You can buy markers individually as you run out of them.

Kids write their schedule on the white paper.

After second grade children write with these ink pens exclusively. Getting used to these takes some practice but is sure makes your handwriting look better.

The water colors from Pelikan are my favorite. The colors are so vibrant and they come with a white paste that lets you mix your own colors in the white spaces on top. Of course you can replace single colors. 🙂 And you wonder why Germans are so exact and organized….

How about you, are you exited about the new school year or is it coming way too fast? When do you do all your supply shopping?


German School Supplies

Interview with Emily Mulder, a Second Generation Homeschooler


This interview is with my dear friend, neighbor, and co-collaborator on this blog, the very talented Emily Mulder, owner of Lonely Mountain Photography.

Q:Emily, describe for us your childhood home-school experience. What was your day to day like. What were the reasons your parents decided to home-school. Was this accepted in your community?

A: Ahh. My parents were really trying to figure it out based on what they’d experienced. We started when I was entering the 4th grade. My sisters were entering 6th, and 3rd. Initially they were planning to just try it with my oldest sister for a year first, but that year the school system decided we were in a different district and the first morning we waited for the bus, it didn’t come for us as it had the past three years. My parents prayed together and decided to take us all out and homeschool us. Apparently they had read about homeschooling, but we didn’t know anyone else doing it until later.

My parents were not supported by anyone at first. People thought we’d never “make it”. The one big reason people had against homeschooling was that we would not be “socialized” (as if throwing kids together in same-age class rooms actually socializes kids in a positive way).

Our day: at the beginning of each year my parents would research what we needed to be on grade level, we’d purchase or find books (we got many used books as well as purchasing some from different places depending on what they thought we needed.) We would all sit down and figure out how to plan the year in order to get through the books. This varied a bit and not every book was divided up this way. We had a pretty regular schedule to keep – every day lasting 1-2 hours (maybe 3 or at most 4 in high-school) in order to spend a regular time on each subject. Once done with our school, we helped (in later years) with our family business, did regular chores, and had time for play and hobbies. We had a lot of self study.

Q: What did you like about home-schooling, and what did you not like?

I liked that it didn’t take so much time! We didn’t have homework in the evenings as we’d done all of that during school hours. I also liked that it taught us to be able to self study. We learned to organize our studying and get it done, and check our work ourselves.

Q: How did home-schooling prepare you for college? What was the biggest challenge in college?

A: Again, the self learning was a big boon in college. My older sister and I attended college together, as she’d done some correspondent courses and worked teaching other kids after graduation and before heading out to college. I remember us both being roped into helping other kids that first semester – kids who struggled to figure out how to research and understand what the professor said or expected. We had no problems digging right in and learning.

The biggest challenge? I’m not sure if homeschooling itself caused any challenges. I’m shy naturally, so it always takes me a while to get to know other people, but I was that way when I was small and in public school.

I think a big challenge to home-schoolers is maybe a blind belief that their education is better, and therefore kids can run into trouble when their beliefs are challenged in a college setting.

Q: How are you doing things differently as you are home-schooling your own kids? What do you envision for your children’s education and future?

A: I think we can go a lot farther than copying public school standards. My husband and I actually believe that the public school setting was set up for a different time and not to truly inspire kids to learn. We are trying to pull away from the standards and approach things differently, with a focus on really inspiring our kids to study far beyond the standard approach.

I also want my kids to have intellectual humility – to be able to see when they don’t understand something, leading to study or asking questions to find out what the answers are. I don’t want any of them to think they “can’t” or are unable to study or understand something. If one of them is struggling, I back off and try to figure out how to approach things differently, rather than just pushing them onward with the same methods.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful answers, Emily. I loved reading how you got your work done in 1-2 hours and had all this extra time to help out in your parent’s business or just play. And what about college teachers making you a TA for the kid’s who hadn’t learned to study on their own; so much for home-schooled kids not being prepared for higher education. Speaking of education, Emily and her husband Sam have a must read blog on education. They have spend a lot of time on researching the best way to teach children and for them to be enthusiastic about learning. Go to for more info.

This interview was so much fun, I’m planning on doing more in the future.

Interview with Emily Mulder, a Second Generation Homeschooler

Fun work spaces

As a home educator I am forever brainstorming how to integrate “my class room” into the rest of the house. How to blend the styles and have them be functional and pretty at the same time. However these ideas work in every home. No matter if you home-school or not learning should be encouraged. Every house should have spaces that encourage creativity, work, and learning. Here are some ideas I found on Pinterest. The first one is my favorite. This is what I envision for my front room. Lots of bookshelves smack full. Two super comfy big chairs that encourage reading, and one big table the perfect height to work on school or projects.



Storage Ideas

Storage ideas

We school our children at home, and we don’t have a separate school room. The challenge is to blend learning stations and book shelves with the rest of the house, and at the same time make it all look stylish and pulled together. I am forever hunting for furniture that hold a lot of school books and yet look stylish. Here I found three pieces for different tastes. The locker to the left is from Sundance, the one in the middle is from Crate and Barell, the one on the right I found on Pinterest. How about you,  have you found the perfect piece that can hold all your stuff?