Changing Classrooms is Hard!

Y'all change is hard!  

It's hard on me mentally, physically, emotionally, gah, it's just hard.  

These past few weeks we have been working on the transition of flip-flopping our playroom (affectionately known as the blue room) and our classroom (formerly located on the third floor of our home).  

These changes have been really hard on basically no one...except me.  I am such a weirdo.  

You can see some of my favorite photos of our classroom in this blog post.  

Our classroom has always been on the third floor.  Nick had to custom make our shelves and book cases to get them to fit to the pitch of the roof.  It was a really, really special place to me...in my mind.  

The reality of the situation was that we found ourselves in a predicament that we were hardly ever able to get everything accomplished when we had school up there.  We were lucky to start our day on time and if we didn't finish by lunch I could pretty much kiss any chance of finishing our work goodbye.  

In addition that that the homeschool room very often during seasons of the year looked like a clumsy SWAT team had been searching for something amidst holiday decorations.  Things were strewn all over, nothing could be organized amidst the chaos.  It was bad.  Bad, folks, bad.  If you need to see something to understand you can read this old post but I'm warning you...it's bad.  

Why was schooling so hard up there you ask?  Well, it was really hard to pinpoint the reasoning...I always blamed it on a multitude of things which included it being so far removed from the rest of the house, it being too sunny and warm in the afternoon, it being really dark in the morning hours, it being too cluttered, and on and on and on.  

A couple of years ago God started working on my heart.  I still wanted to homeschool but I wanted it to be an ever-present pulse in our family.  For us it had always been something we do only up in the classroom and then we come downstairs, shut the door, and put it out of our minds.  I didn't want that anymore.  I tried incorporating school more into our every day life.  We did more school in the dining room over tea and after lunch, outside.  While we found ourselves enjoying school more we found our house starting to look like a used curriculum sale was taking place...random papers, books, and projects started to stray to every nook and bump out of our victorian.  And this Momma was getting mad.  

We tried for seven years to make it work.  But there came a breaking point when we decided it was time to change.  For the reasons mentioned above but also with the pitch of the roof it was starting to become difficult for the three of us (including two growing like weeds children) to maneuver around the desks like we had when they were so little. 

So one day on a whim, we changed.  I declared that we were moving the classroom downstairs.  

So we did.  

The toys and craft supplies went upstairs.  We are still muddling through where everything should go on the third floor.  And downstairs we are struggling with where to put everything.  We no longer have an entire floor of the house for our supplies but rather a single room.  Downsizing is now our middle name.  In the process I have found that it was a long over due process.  Projects, books, manipulatives, and supplies for children with much shorter limbs and much chubbier fingers are still hanging around.  Once we've gone through everything I'm hoping it will be a manageable amount for our classroom.  But it will have to be so we will make it work.  

Homeschool classrooms and kiwi crate time!  Super Busy at Home

There are parts of the classroom I will really miss but there are parts of the new classroom that I am really starting to find such assets to our family.  For example, our new classroom (the blue room if you'll remember) has three rose of sharon bushes outside of our massive picture window.  Four birdfeeders later and we have officially become "bird people".  Also, the classroom is right off the downstairs laundry room and powder room.  We have a large utility sink for washing brushes, taking our science experiments, and more.  I can also now fold laundry while watching them do their math.  Very convenient.  

Before the move, our families biggest arguements were about legos.  Dumb I know.  But the kids legos were in the blue room, which we have to go through to get to the laundry room and we have to pass through to get to the dining room from the kitchen.  It was always a fight to get them to pick up their legos in the middle of creating something or to at least scootch them over so I didn't have to plow through them with laundry in tow.  Now the legos are upstairs and, while we still insist on them picking up, they can at least display their finished projects without fear of someone stepping on them.  Where the legos once were downstairs is now a monstrous desk we found at Restore.  

Redecorating homeschool classrooms and playrooms.  Super Busy at Home

With the children getting older, needing more head room, using less supplies, and wanting to create, this is a better solution for our family.  We also have school books on hand in the room off our dining room now for more dialectic discussion around the dinner table.  Words are starting to be debated and chewed upon.  

All that to say, the whole "still in transition" business is so hard for me.  At least once a day I find myself having to re-convince myself that this is a change for the best for the whole family and one day, eventually, I will love both spaces as much as I loved our little classroom in the sky.  

I struggle so much with change.  Do you?  How do you talk yourself down from despair when things are not perfect?  

Time 4 Learning Review

Last month I posted that we were starting to use the Time4Learning online program.  '

I had a lot of people ask me what I have thought about the program so I am writing a review to let you know what we are thinking of the program! 

First of all I would like to say that I have nothing bad to say about the program.  Both of our kiddos used it and enjoyed it. 

As you know, Calvin has high functioning autism.  For some reason it seems that every year after Christmas we are on a slippery slope of decline in his functioning in our classroom.  I am not sure if it is the season with no sun, or being off schedule for Christmas, or what.  So when I was banging my head against a wall trying to find a solution, Time4Learning was a godsend!

I was looking for something that I could give to Calvin to do on those days when all else has failed and I cannot get him to cooperate with schoolwork.  Or the days when you wake up and you know you just aren't feeling it enough to make a day successful in the homeschool realm...you know those days: when you grab the Pamprin and let Miss Frizzle sub for your class.  Those days. 

When I found Time4Learning it seemed amazing.  And I'm going to tell you it is!  Calvin LOVES Time4Learning.  The games on the level he is at (3rd grade) are really engaging and fun.  The only problem I have is that he likes to get every possible score on a test to see what the computer says, so I have to watch him to make sure he doesn't do that.  On the other hand if he does it I figure it is just reinforcing what he is learning so that's not bad, right? 

Calvin and Emma can do Time4Learning on our laptop, my ipad, phone, or on their tablets.  Each of our kids have their own tablets that we have them use for school.  So when we are going grocery shopping or somewhere they are bored out of their mind we can hop on wifi and they can get some learning done!  Content kiddos who are learning makes for one happy Momma for sure!  Win-win!

Another thing I have enjoyed (especially because Calvin is sneaky) is the ability to get on the teacher dashboard and see what he did and how he did at it.  That way when he tells me he did math I can know that he did his math. 

Time4Learning can be a whole curriculum, back up learning, homeschooling, after school learning, whatever you need.  It's not just for homeschooling.  And while we don't use it as a full curriculum there is Social Studies, Language Art, Reading, a place to just write for fun, art, science, and math!  There's so much that it is hard for the kids to get bored.  I love on days that the kids do school on there I don't hear "I'm bored!" 

Emma has been using Time4Learning too but has not been enjoying it as much.  Emma is very much our pencil and paper kind of gal.  She also has noticed that the older grades (she's using 6th grade) don't have as many fun games as her brother gets to do in the younger grade when he's playing next to her.  A lot of her work seems to be an explanation of what she is learning and then questions in a quiz, flash card kind of format on the computer.  She doesn't like this, I still like it because it is still a break from the same ol' same ol' of our every day so it can get her out of a rut when learning.  I would like to add though that a lot of what seems *boring* to her, I don't really know how you would make it gamey and fun.  It required a more lengthy explanation and I think they do a good job at explaining and engaging the student.

All in all, I would say that we love TIme4Learning and are excited to continue on with the program.  This summer we are traveling extensively and I am planning on taking their Nooks and having the program be the majority of school that we will do!  So super excited and so blessed to have found Time4Learning

*This review was entirely written by me, not the good folks at Time4Learning. I was compensated for my review, thoughts, and opinions*

Week 7 Recap of our No-Spend Challenge

Well this was the first week that I heard serious complaining about the no spend challenge. 

Emma was hilarious when she said "we had a good two months of this no spend challenge.  Now I think it's time to be done.  Let's order Chinese food." 

And believe me I was feeling the same way!  I was ready for Chinese food and not cooking too, but we didn't cave and had frozen pizzas instead. 

Can you picture me with my head hung low and pouting?  Because that's what I was looking like. 

Thankfully I am realizing that when one of us is weak and ready to give up (usually me) then there is the other person to stay strong and diligent (usually Nick). 

Valentine's Day was a bit hard with the no spend challenge. 

We are not huge spenders for Valentine's Day.  I've never gotten Diamond anything.  I do usually get roses.  But this year I knew I wouldn't be getting anything.  Still there was this TINY part of my brain that was just wishing and hoping that he would come home with something that I would act upset he spent money for but secretly was delighted he brought home. 

You know what I am talking about! 

But he didn't buy anything.  Well I take that back he did go to the store and bought crab and oysters to go with our beef tenderloin stay-in date meal. 

However I had had the same thought of a little surf with our turf and bought lobster tails. 

So it was a huge seafood feast. 

Nick also came home with an old fashioned love letter. 

It was my first one ever and it made me sob.  Big, ugly tears, sob.

It was perfect.  It helped me to realize that some of the most beautiful things in this world are free.  They don't cost money, they aren't big and flashy, but instead are simple and true words that mean the most. 

The days before Valentine's Day I was prepared that we wouldn't be buying the kids a ton of fun Valentine's stuff like we normally do. 

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

I had purchased Emma's Valentine's Day gift last year before we started the no-spend challenge.  So I purchased a small lego set for Calvin so he would have something soon. 

To make their special day a bit more special we made some sweet treats with things that we already had at home so they didn't cost a lot of money. 

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

We made cookies which was lots of fun! The kids took a cookie decorating class last year so I whipped up a batch of royal icing and we had fun decorating cookies for our friends and family (and for us, of course!)

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

We had fun breakfasts!  For this I made toast and used a cookie cutter to carve out a heart from the center.  I then put Peanut butter on the heart and strawberry jam around the outskirt of the toast.  We had strawberry milk because strawberry milk makes everything better.  And I love these napkins that I bought last year from Marshalls. 

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

And of course we had fun lunches!  The kids' favorite lunch is a muffin tin lunch.  I bought these sweet 6 cup muffin tins from the Dollar Store, and then I put fun things in them!  For this lunch I gave them strawberry flavored string cheese, vanilla yogurt with sprinkles, strawberrys, grape tomatoes, more strawberry milk, and some heart shaped sweet tarts. 

I love giving them fun lunches, it really helps to break up the homeschool day and make things more exciting. 

Valentine's Day on the No Spend Challenge

A special part of Valentine's Day was someone sending me a gift!  I love colored pens and someone sent these to me with a sweet Homeschooling Momma card.  I have no idea who sent these to me but it was just the sweetest thing! So if you are reading this and it was you, thank you!

All in all it was a great Valentine's Day and week. 

It was really nice when it was all said and done to not have the guilt that I spent too much on the kids or spoiled them more than I should have.  It was a great day and we loved spending time with one another which is the best part of Valentine's Day! 

I hope you all had a great Valentine's week.  Please let me know how you are doing on your own no-spend challenges. 

Love to you all!