Monday, July 20, 2015

Time for the Terrificness of "T"

 The Tea Table and the toy Tiger in this of course are the two "T things" shaped like their big and little t's.... the girls like to figure out which objects in each chalkboard are the capital and lowercases of the letter in question.
 And their chalkboards are on the right!

 Totally adorable.

 They also did some chalkboard designs for "T week" on the chalkboard side of their craft table.

 The 9 year old created a teepee as well all on her own to go with her American girl doll.  She really likes the American girl doll Kaya and has been listening to those books on CD recently.
 We hit on a cooler day to go to the arboretum and the children's garden that has a skywalk with info about all the trees along the edges of it.  We traced leaves and wrote about trees in our visual journals.

 They had fun with putting these in different shapes to create their own "garden maze" of sorts.

 And of course finding and reading as much as we could about trees!  They also have this pretend hollow tree with a spiral staircase in and around it which is pretty fun for the kids... see video below about how fun that tree area is!
 "T Week" happened to be the time when we started doing "Life of Fred" math together.  My oldest two do it together and the 4 year old just sort of plays along and enjoys it but doesn't get what it's all about.  Well, they learned about Archimedes in the Life of Fred and when we were at the children's garden they got to see an invention that he came up with! 

 How do you get water to go up hill?  You use this device of course.  ;)  We'll visit the water section again for sure during "W week"  :)
 My 9 year old has expressed interest in learning more about counting money so I got her a special game with coins and my 7 year old has expressed a great desire to learn how to tell time.  SO, I got this "Time Telling Game" which has turned out to be very exciting for them.
 Also, their Grammy got them all (even the 4 year old though she's not in the picture!) watches so they can practice telling time!  In a very short time they've come quite far in knowing how to figure out the clocks around our house!  Now at random moments the 7 year old with announce what time it is.  She usually gets it right too!  But if she doesn't it's not a big deal to explain the time and how to figure it out.
 More pictures of my decorating and organizing.  That wall used to be just the dark color of the wood.. also the inside of that cupboard that's open used to be the dark wood color.  It looks a little yellow in this picture, but it's not.  It's just a marble looking white.  I'm getting carried away with the chalk boards and covered that white board with chalk board paper.
 I couldn't remember if I posted this or not, but chalk board paper is now on the little black table for the two younger kids... this is in our living room.
 They are having a lot of fun with that chalk board.  It does get dusty, but personally, I'd rather have the dust then the smell of a white board or the more difficult things to clean up that are art related.
 My 9 year old impressed me greatly with this picture!  The school she's been doing has helped even with her drawing abilities not just her writing skills.  :)
And, random... what happens when Grammy gives us her snail and then later realizes that said snail had laid eggs in her tank and now there are about 30 teeny tiny snails all over?  You adopt them as well!!!  The girls named the mamma snail "Roxie" and the baby snails "The Rockets"  .. So, say hello to the Rockets.  ;)
 Drinking some morning tea while doing her work today.  We've had a lot of tea parties recently and morning tea with school has been nice for everyone.  Here, my oldest is just finishing one of the books in the B series.
And as these were helping my oldest so much with her drawing and observing skills I thought I'd start my 7 year old as well!  She just started the 3rd book in the A series today.
This series is on sale right now actually and you can see them here - 
Personally, I like how it's teaching good skills for penmenship and so on without it just being more writing.  It's fun and good for your brain to figure out how to complete the pictures!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Before and Afters and chains of events

 This particular organizing/decorating venture started with this book shelf.  I saw a blog post about how you can get a tension rod and put a curtain on that to cover your bookshelf to make a room look more tidy.
 Considering that this dinning/art/school/whatever room is most of our main room in our entire apartment.. that little change is kind of a big deal!
 So I did it.  I got a fabric shower curtain and tension rod.  I went for white because I wanted to lighten up the room since the wood is so dark and the area is small and cluttered.  The fabric though was really thick and "heavy" feeling and looking even though it was white.
This led me to reorganizing their school stuff and moving the two younger one's workbox drawers into the living room corner (about 10 ft to the left of this picture on the other side of the couch)  Which led me to moving the hubby's chair/ area... which led him to re-organizing his closet.
So, yes, lots of good changes all tiny in themselves that are leading to great things!

The white curtain over the bookshelf was so easy that I finally took the accordion door off the shoe closet by the front door (which blocked the door from opening when it was open!!!)  and got another tension rod and curtain for here!  I LOVE it!  It's so happy!
 My mother-in-law loved the curtain so well that she got one too.  It's a shower curtain and she's using it that way.  I had to make this a little narrower and then used the part I took off as a ruffle on the bottom to make it long enough.
 At other points I was moving and organizing their school stuff!  These two white baskets were from the dollar tree and I tacked them down right to the table so they won't get knocked over.  The jars that all the art stuff are in were just food jars that I'd saved (like spaghetti sauce or jam jars) and the girls helped me decorate them with pretty scrapbooking paper.
I organized a bunch of cupboards in my kitchen and got rid of a full garbage bag of kitchen stuff that I didn't use or that I really should replace.  I'd been using pots that were given to us a decade ago (that were already worn out and they didn't want) and were now so totally without their finish that they were turning grey instead of staying black.  I burned the rice every time I cooked it because of those pots!  Enter, the new pot.   It's not easy for me to spend $30 or a new pot.  Not sure why this is because I don't have a difficult time buying things for the girls or other people, but things for myself?  I'll usually just make what I have work, BUT this is SO pretty!  AND the rice did NOT burn!

I'm in the kitchen so much each day that choosing to get a pot that actually works well and is a pretty color (it matches the "morning mist" lacquer that I have on my pointer finger!) -- I realized that this must be my favorite color because I keep picking things with THIS color almost exactly. 

I love my "book nook"!  I put a window film on this window so that the people in the parking lot below can't see straight in like they used to be able to.  I used to feel like a dummy on a window display!  Now I can see out past the buildings to the trees without the heat of the sun as much and the people looking in.
Speaking of this "morning mist" color, it's the color of my new bedroom curtains.  I had yellow ones in here, but they didn't really match.  I also got a "morning mist" colored shower curtain liner and several other tiny things.  It all started when I wore my Mom's lacquer of that color in Washington.  I loved it!  AND I think it brings back good memories of being with my Mom, so this color is spreading over many places in my home.

 So speaking of moving my husbands chair which led him to moving his stuff around.  I had a brilliant idea to move his bookshelf ONTO the half wall of our bedroom!  BEFORE you freak out, know that I nailed that thing down and it's not going anywhere!
Now with this shelf there along with the little paper "screen" that I'd made a while back we have a little more privacy from the window on the far side there.  Note, the window behind that lamp?  The window is bigger than it looks from here.
 And speaking of moving the bookshelf.. that led me to move the vase with the sticks in it - an idea that I'd gotten a long time ago when watching "Clean House" - which motivated me to finally organize my dresser area and the kids books right there.  The school area was getting all organized at this point as I moved games and books up here and down there into into that.
 You can kind of see the trees out there from this picture.
 Speaking of wanting to lighten things up a bit.  This dark wood and my dark wood kitchen has always annoyed me.  It's already cramped and the color makes it feel worse.  Well, see above in the picture of the dark wood?  That light color behind the red strainer hanging on that wall used to be the same wood color!  I got some shelf liner paper at the Dollar Tree and covered that side!  It lightened up the kitchen enough to make me want to take it farther!
 Another trip to the Dollar Tree and an awesome find of duct tape.. which AGAIN is that awesome "Morning Mist" color!  And more of that same shelf paper and BAM!
 It's a decorating rental wonder!  My husband thinks it has a French countryside look.  I'm just glad it's not oppressively dark anymore!
 Also, remember the white curtain over the bookshelf that was too heavy of a fabric and seemed to stick out instead of making the bookshelf feel less pronounced?  Well, I moved the green curtain from the dinning room window to in front of the bookshelf.  Suddenly that bookshelf disappeared into the background of the room and I was left with no curtains in the dinning room.
 Enter the yellow curtains that used to be in my bedroom!!!  I LOVE them here!  It's amazing how JUST the color of the curtains (both are sheer) make in this room!  Suddenly the room is cooler even because I don't need to turn the lights on and keep them on all day!  The light makes those curtains glow and it's so warm and cozy.  Light is a huge deal to me and I'd rather have 10 floor lamps in a room than be in a room that's too dark.  I need light!  And this is an amazing way to get that feeling withOUT actual direct light!
Look at that!!!^^  Doesn't that just invite crafting and drawing and art?

 Speaking of sun, I replaced some of our dead plants in our "garden" with Sunflowers!  Which are so fun to see from our window now!
 You can see the mirror effect from the window film that I put up on our window in the picture above too!  It's nice to know that all the people that walk by now can't see right into our house and up the stairs anymore.  :)
And a little farther away our path and some flowers that are amazingly still alive!  I've got peppermint, rosemary, oregano, Asiatic Lilies, a cucumber plant, Hyacinth bulbs, garlic, cherry tomato, Basil, strawberry, and a few other flower plants back here.  I'm a "want-to-be-gardener"  :)

 Last autumn some time I shared my fireplace re-do.. well, the chalkboard paper fell off.  It never stuck well because of the texture of the paint they used to paint this ugly fireplace.  When I talked to my husband about maybe doing it again he was all for it because he really had liked how it looked!
I wanted to take the chalk board thing a step farther and cover the fireplace as well!  In the picture above I can only think of a black hole or something.. it's just so useless!  Maybe if it had an AC unit right in it then it would make sense down here!  As it is, it just seems silly.
 Enter the dollar tree again and 12 decorative mirrors.  I'd already priced floor length mirrors and they would be too tall for this purpose anyway.  So I jimmy rigged these! with wire, duct tape, and sticks that I had to make these panels that I wired to the grill thing at the top of the fireplace (which will be easy to remove since we are renting!)
 The chalkboard paper and some drawings of viney flowers later and it looks like this!!!
This is also the new school area for the two younger girls.  They have shelves with their workbox drawers to the right and it's nice to keep these things separated from the craft and art mess that happens constantly all day long.

And everything back in it's place.  I think I'm a little obsessed with chalk boards now, but they are just so pretty and make me happy!  I tested the look of the fireplace re-do with drawing some words or doing other designs, but for the summer I really like the vines and flowers.  I DID use a hot glue gun to glue down the right and left sides only of the chalk board paper!  It's making a huge difference in how it's staying up and holding up to being drawn on.  The blue will be easy to peal off as well.
 I started organizing JUST in time too because I got our school for next year!  We are doing "Core B" of Sonlight next.  Actually doing the full thing for the first time (instead of just using bits and pieces) and it's World History so we are really looking forward to it!  Once we finish our Alphabet themed school we'll move into that next and it's all waiting in the cupboards above - which USED to be full of my oldest's craft stuff..... which she didn't use often but just had all jammed in there.  This is a much better use of it.  She gets the shelf for current projects and her workbox drawers and I get the cupboards!
I'm already doing so much and still need to do a lot more organizing!  That I didn't want to make another "chore chart" and finally broke down and go the kids these from Melissa and Doug.  
They are magnetic so that's fun and my oldest especially is appreciating her new responsibility chart (because she wants to earn money to save for a toy!)
 I still have a lot more little things that I want to organize and I need to get some more chalk board paper for a couple other things, but the main stuff is done.  A few of my kitchen cupboards have sticky notes on them reminding me to organize them!  As if it doesn't speak for itself?
 And organizing and doing decorating projects while homeschooling three kids feels like trying to run up a gravely hill -- you've got to move your feet twice as fast just to make any forward progress!  It IS worth it in the end.  I already feel so much happier with my little adjustments here and there and this organizing/decorating thing does get easier the more I work at it.  Note: I'm not naturally good at this sort of thing.  I've just learned a lot from a few different places and gotten better as I keep working at it!

I recommend the "Organizing Pro" if you want to get your life less complicated!  She talks about organizing, but it all starts with simplifying as well.  The point isn't to give you more work and make you a super woman.. it's to get this stuff running smoothly so you can do the things you really want to do!  I went through her DVD and book course about 6 years ago.

ALSO, more on the decorating side- check out "The Nesting Place" book!!!  Most decorating books will end up making me feel bad about where I live and discontent.  This lady comes from a place of being a renter for years and years and learning to work WITH the imperfections of wherever you live and how to "love your limitations" -- she also talks about thrifting and other ways to do things yourself to save money while you decorate.  She also helps show you how to look at a space so that you can figure out how you want to decorate it! She calls it "quieting the space"
Seriously, that book and what she says are all so inspirational!  I read a few chapters and I have new inspiration pumped right into my veins and am ready to embrace where I live an make it better.  :)  It's refreshing to read a decorating book that actually makes you feel more content rather than feeling all covetous about the things you'll never have!

I hope some of my ideas have inspired one of you as well!