November 20, 2015

Handy Hubby Strikes Again

Porch transformation

Each winter we have struggled with what to do with our shoes and coats and abundance of winter gear.  None of our doors have adequate storage right near the door.  The front door has only a small entry, the back door has no entry, and the side door requires immediately walking up or down carpeted stairs.  We tried that the first year we lived in the house and wow was that carpet gross by the end of winter!

In the summer we move the shoes outside onto our covered porch area but in the winter that doesn't really work.  Last year we tried the back door, but the floors (all hard) were slippery and muddy most of the winter.  Plus we still had a space/storage problem even after we took almost everything else out of the laundry room.  We have always kind of eyed the the back porch and lamented we couldn't use it year round.

If you follow us on Facebook, you've probably seen this transformation in progress.  In any case, here are all of the pictures in one place.  The work is not flawless, but we would rather the kids help, at least you know, on non structural things that won't affect the function of the room later ;).

Porch Before
The design of the porch made this a fairly easy transformation as the rails were simply removed between the columns and headers and replaced with stud wall framing.

Porch transformation

Porch transformation

I didn't get an exterior photo, but for now the plywood is just wrapped with house wrap and sealed up with some sort of weather tape and some caulking in places.  We will finish beyond that in the spring.  I was worried about weather, but Tim assured me thats what house wrap is designed for and so far it has survived a couple of pretty hearty wind and rain storms no worse for the wear.

Porch transformation

Insulating, Dryer Vent, & Flooring
Aidan helped with this step a ton in the attic and with Aidan, Caleb, and Tim helping this took almost no time whatsoever!   You can also see the dryer vent had to be moved and the new linoleum (dark color to hide the mud that will come in this door....).

Porch transformation

Everyone took a turn mudding, sanding and/or painting.  I was kicked out, however, when my belly kept running into the wall and smudging things....  We used leftover paint from the boy's bedroom and we were scraping the bottom of the can to finish!

Porch transformation

Porch transformation

Moved In
We got the coats and shoe shelves moved just in time to need to wear them regularly!  Tim built a bench to hide the dryer vent and will eventually build lockers for the kids from the end of the bench to the door so we will have extra coat hooks and can take out some of the shoe shelves.  Since this picture was taken, we have finished about half of the trim that wasn't done when I took this picture.

Porch transformation

Laundry Room Now
All of the shoe shelves and coats were previously in the corner under that window.  I threw up a folding table and now I can fold clothes somewhere other than my living room couches.  Kind of a bonus of moving the space.  In the photos these two colors look almost identical, but they aren't. The laundry room is both darker and brighter if that makes sense.

Porch transformation

November 17, 2015

52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol Review

This just might be a first:  Me sharing a seasonal resource with you before the season starts!!!   Today I am reviewing 52 Little Lessons From A Christmas Carol by Bob Welch.   Published by Thomas Nelson, this devotional booklet is perfect for starting during the Advent season.   With 52 lessons, it could be used as a weekly devotional or a daily study.  While the theme of the devotional is obviously rooted in in a Christmas story, the lessons are appropriate for year round study.   

All of the lessons are rooted both in scripture and values-based living.  They are short and easily read in 5-10 minutes, which does not mean that they will be digested as quickly.   They are the kind of thoughts that can work to help refocus your day before it even starts.  Because of the nature of A Christmas Carol and its wide reproduction in various children's books, films, and more, it is not even needed to have read the original to benefit from the lessons (although as a literature person I would ask why not, as Dickens goes its a pretty straight forward read).  I would say that this particular devotional could even be used as a family devotional with middle/upper elementary aged students and above.  

In exchange for an honest review, I was provided with a complimentary copy of this title through the BookLook Bloggers Review Program.

November 11, 2015

Caleb's Top Ten Years

In honor of Caleb finishing his first decade today, here are 10 facts about his first 10 years.

November 6, 2015

Tomas News

This little guy is 32 weeks now.  In some ways it is hard to fathom the road that has gotten us to this point.   I can hardly believe how fast my pregnancy has gone and how quickly it is coming to its end.

32 weeks might not sound like very close to the end, but the truth is for me it probably is.   Logan, Lucie, and Kylee were all born at or before 37 weeks.   With my history and this being my 4th C-Section, 2nd in a year, that is kind of the goal: to get to 37 weeks.   

November 2, 2015

The Impetus to Choose


Choice has always been something we have struggled a fair bit with in our Montessori inspired homeschool.  When Aidan was my only "official" homeschooling student we had more of a tutor:student relationship.  I didn't initially set up a dedicated space or routine because we didn't need to.  We worked each day, but I never left him to struggle to make his own choice from the school shelves or modeled that process with my own actions.  I determined starting and ending points to lessons more than allowing him to determine the natural point at which he felt the work cycle was completed.

As Caleb began to join us more regularly, I had this vision of Aidan peaceful choosing of independent work as I began to work with Caleb.  Well first of all, I didn't ever teach Aidan how to choose and second of all, although we didn't know it at the time, Caleb has autism.  Autism and free choice are not always the best of friends.  On one hand, he can entertain himself for hours with an activity he loves, but when it comes to schoolwork he has always craved a checklist.  He needed to know a finite start and stopping point.  Generally work plans wouldn't be used until later in Children's House or even E1, but I didn't have a choice.  I had to give him some guidance and if I gave it to him, I had to give it to Aidan (I thought then, when I was a young mom, homeschooling only 2).

Again failing to teach Aidan how to choose.

October 30, 2015

Camouflage Science Experiment

Animal Adaptations:  Color Experiment

1  (for small groups) or  2 (for larger groups) Family Size bags of skittles
Pencil/Paper for Recording Data

Advance Preparation:  Count out 50 (small groups) or 100 (large groups) skittles in each of the five colors (red, purple, yellow, orange, green).  Spread skittles over a set area outside based on the size of your group (we used about 200 sq ft).  Try not to spread the skittles too long before your activity to prevent factors like water/ color melting or sneak-age by animals or nosy kids that would skew the final data.

October 27, 2015

Updated Resource!


I updated my "I Can Make New Numbers" free download and uploaded it to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.   The file now prints as a half size booklet which can be side bound or stapled.  In the past we have used this activity with number stampers instead of writing.  Logan is using it here to write all of the combinations for making 10.