Julia's Guardian Angel Fund

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Winter Doldrums...

Do you have them yet?

I do. I am itching to move my homeschool around. AGAIN. (Can you hear my dear husband sigh and shake his head?)

I read Bearing's Blog. Which led me to this. Which, of course, supports my desire to move. I always spend about 2 weeks in deliberation before breaking it to the dear husband. You see, I get a lot of guff. Not just from him, but from my whole family. I like change. I had moved 20 times in the 28 years before I married my husband. I am not the settled down kind of gal. I always like to move. It's a great way to clear through the clutter. I feel like there IS nothing better than a change of scenery.

Right now, most of our school stuff is in the kitchen. That isn't where it's always been. It's been LOTS of other places. The basement "amusement room" (as it was billed when we bought the house), which is a lovely long room with a gas fireplace and huge egress window. It is by no means dark and dreary. It's very bright and cheerful, for a basement that is. The problem is that that is where the toys live. It is virtually impossible to get kids to get school work done when all those toys are sitting there, taunting them to play.

That is when we moved up to the living room. Our living room is a very large room, 19'x14'. It's well lit, but unfortunately it is right by the front door. What could be wrong with that? Well, when anyone comes to the door, the kids bolt to see who it is. That's not so bad as the salt maps or cutting disasters left after art that are there for the WHOLE.WORLD. TO. SEE. I know, I know. I have issues. I have always been a messy, but I'm more of a closet messy. You tend to not know that about me unless I really like you and am willing to let you come over when the house isn't decent. The living room was never decent, so during that dark time we never had company. EVER.

Then, I proposed a move to the office. The office is at the back of the house. It was also largely unused. My husband had a computer desk in there and we had moved some toys up there. I bought a lovely kidney shaped, adjustable height table and new chairs. It was pretty good except it didn't fit us very well in terms of size. The usable size of the room is like 10x12. The new fancy table and chairs took up most of the room. Then Testy Tiger became mobile and would regularly destroy said room.

We got real school desks from IKEA and put them downstairs for awhile. The toys moved up to the office, that was the school room. We schooled down there again.

I rethought our strategy. It seemed the kids just wanted to be where I am. That is typically in the kitchen or laundry room. We changed office into a first floor laundry. That was, by the way, probably the best thing we have EVER done. Laundry room, right off mud room, next to kitchen in a house with 6 kids. And, it's a family closet (thank you Duggar family for that idea). We have these great IKEA ANTONIUS wire basket drawers. All 6 kids and I keep our laundry in there. Wash, fold, put away all in the same room. Except when I'm behind on the laundry, then it's Wash, put in a basket and wait until there is time to sit and fold. (Note to self - when will that be?)

We decided to do school in the kitchen, kind of...I had the kids bring their school stuff up and do school at the kitchen table. Unfortunately, things didn't get taken back downstairs. Finally, we brought the desks up and moved the table out. We got an IKEA folding table and 4 chairs. Right now the big kids do their work on their desks, eat at their desks and the little boys eat at the fold down table. When my dear husband is home, we eat in the formal dining room.

God bless my husband. He never complains about my desires to move things around. He does give me a very good-natured hard time, but never complains. The dear man will do ANYTHING to keep me from moving (to another house). He does, thoughtfully, challenge my reasons for moving things around when I come to him with yet-another great idea.

Here's my beef right now that is causing me moving angst: My kitchen is small. There are usually 7 people in there. Me and six kids, one that is almost mobile. The kitchen area is 10x12. That includes the cabinet space and appliances. The eat-in kitchen space is the same size. So, in that space I have 3 desks w/rolling chairs, 3 wall-hung bookshelves, and school supplies, a fold down table, 4 bar stools and a plastic set of drawers full of art supplies. I also have 2-1x6 cube shelves full of bins. Keep in mind this is not ALL the homeschool stuff. There is a 3' wide cabinet full of toddler and preschool supplies in the laundry room (remember how small that room was?) along with my computer desk, a book shelf, washer, drier, changing table and clothing for 7 people in my house. And yes, there is more homeschooling stuff still in the basement. So sue me - I have six kids. I have to keep curriculum around for 7 grades. I'm sorry. I have stuff.

It's a full house, both with bodies and stuff. I proposed moving the school stuff back to the basement. It's the least used space in the house. My dear husband contends the kids want to be where I am (which is usually in the kitchen). He's right.

So, whether you've been to my house or not, please feel free to post suggestions while I go read Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. One of the fruits of these exercises is contentment. I need that, don't I?


  1. As someone who has seen your house, I suggest you post pictures. The laundry room and the kitchen/kids' workspace would be a public service, as they are both excellent examples of out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to arranging the house. Even if you're sick of it, they might inspire someone else.

    Homeschooling sometimes means having a non-traditional floor plan/decor scheme. Just something you have to live with and accept.

  2. We keep moving the school area as well.

    Kitchen - didn't work well - I agree with everything you said!

    We've been using our formal dining room for years - but it's in the center of our house and it's hard to concentrate there. We bought a large wardrobe from Menards and put extra shelves inside - been great.

    This year we are working on getting everything downstairs. We don't have Egress windows so I was worried about the lack of light but my dh put up some great lights and we put up our "wall o' white boards" 4 -12'X4' melamine boards....it's fun! it's bright! We bought 4 -4' long folding/adjustable height tables from Sam's club. (too accomodate us and the kids who meet here for science every T afternoon). Now we are just working on decluttering in the area and bringing all our school stuff down. My 6th and 5th do their math on the computer (where it's quiet now). My 10th grader has a desk in OUR room where it's quiet (no space in her room). Most of our work is done in the basement now. I have a 4 and 2 yr old who sometimes join us with playdough and stuff and sometimes play quietly in the toy area which is separated from the school area only by some dressers/cabinets. It seems to be working well for us.

    Now I am seriously working on our old school room. We have so many books too (yep - I want to see your bookshelf pics). I want to move the piano from that area to the living room and the old schoolroom just house computers and bookshelves - lots of them! My 2 oldest girls are voracious readers and with 5 other kids I figure the books are worth the investment. Besides, much of what they read I cannot even get through Inter-library-loan anyway.


    I was thinking the Duggars when I saw them! My oldest son is already repurposing our laundry room out loud to me complete with 2 changing stalls (cute - he's 12).

  3. I will post pics of the book cases soon. Books are a good investment. I'm very careful about what I put in them, so I expect unless they are misused or damaged, the books will be here longer than the toys.

    Are your kids doing Teaching Textbooks? We are using it for our 5th and 6th graders. Having a Math/Science background, I was a bit apprehensive about giving up Math to the computer, but find that it is really solid and the kids don't groan at the computer like they did to me ;-).