Blue Willow Academy – Our School Room

August 7th, 2012

I’ve spend the last 2 days working HARD on our school room. I pulled out every single thing, trashed, reorganized, moved, and put it all back together. It was exhausting and I stirred up more dust bunnies than my sinuses wanted to deal with, but the end result is well worth it.

I love seeing pictures of other homeschool rooms. Most of the time, I see something they’ve done and want to incorporate it in our room. This is our 4th year of schooling and so I feel we are still learning on how to set it up that best fits our family. For example, the first 3 years, we used one big table. This year, we are trying desks instead and we’ll pull out the table for art or large projects.

I took pictures in the 5 minutes that the room was clean so I can share our set up and you can see where things are supposed to go.

The details of pictures (left to right, top to bottom):

  1. High shelf for math/science manipulatives and scissors/punches
  2. Corner shelf for other curriculum, games for older kids, container with erasers/dry erase markers/permanent markers, etc; Shorter shelves have Preschool “Towel Time” items and Toddler friendly items; basket with teacher supplies
  3. Drawer tower for extra pens and pencils, glue and tape, and other odds and ends; Red box is the art supply tub and brown box is old magazines for reuse
  4. Dry erase board, US Flag, Chalkboard, calendar, clock
  5. Bookcase with educational books, reading books, My and Andy’s yearbooks, and the 3 college textbooks I kept as resources; Top left pink is extra workbooks, paper, and teacher planning book; Top right pink is this year’s curriculum books minus ones to be ordered this week, middle is extra paper
  6. The older kiddos at their desks, eager for school to start!

Hope you enjoyed the peek into our school room! I am excited and I look forward to having a Preschooler, Kindergartner, and Third Grader this year. Have a happy start of the school year!

~Rachel

Are Kids Expensive?

July 26th, 2012

Too often, I hear the comment “Kids are so expensive!”. Most of the time it’s said to me by someone just finding out I have 4 children. My usual reply is, “They don’t have to be.”  as I pat my youngest ones cloth diapered bottom.

Psalm 127:4-5

New International Version (NIV)

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.

I feel that I’ve been on both sides of the “story” from my first child to my fourth. With our first, we had a couple big showers, and received just about every baby “thing” out there. We had the crib, changing table, glider/rocker, large swing, travel swing, bassinet, bouncy seat, exersaucer, highchair, and so much more. He barely used a lot of these things, and hated the swing. Our second child loved the swing, but was less fond of the bouncy seat. I rarely actually used a changing table while changing diapers, but we still loved the glider/rocker. By our 3rd baby, The changing table became a toy shelf, I had sold the glider rocker and travel swing, and sold the highchair and bought a spacesaver chair instead.

I’ve learned how LITTLE a baby needs to be happy and cared for. A swaddling blanket, nourishment (preferably Mama’s milk as it’s FREE and specifically designed for your baby), and a clean diaper go a LONG way for babies. We also made lots of changes along the way in what we bought for our children. Instead of disposable diapers, we switched to cloth diapering to save money AND to minimize harmful chemicals touching baby’s skin.  I also switched from disposable wipes to cloth wipes that we wash with the diapers. I also have cloth wipes that I use for faces and hands as well.

Another money saving idea is making your own baby food instead of using store bought. There are plenty of easy recipes found online and a blender or food processor can speed it along. I froze mine in ice cube trays first and then put the cubes in ziplock bags. Of course, by the time we had our 4th baby, I had changed my thoughts on food for babies anyway and he never even ate “baby” food. He went straight to food from our plates at around 8 months (earlier than I was wanting, but he was determined).

We get a lot of clothes from family, but if I’ve ever needed to buy anything, I’ve always shopped sales and have a limit of what I’m willing to spend on something. I’ve also bought more and more second hand clothing items recently and it’s SO much more worth it. For baby clothes that are only worn for a short amount of time, it just doesn’t make sense to me to pay full price for day to day clothing.

The last thing I want to mention is toys. We very very rarely buy a toy outside of birthdays or Christmas and we also don’t spend much at those times. I’ve come to learn that less is more when it comes to toys for the kids to play with. The less I have out, the more my kids play with what they have. I have really tried to minimize the amount of toys we have. I hit a block not too long ago when I had it down to balls, blocks, dress up, kitchen, car/train table, monster trucks, puzzles, plastic animals/figures, and geotrax set. I can’t seem to pick any of those to let go!

Overall, there are many things you can do to save money with children. I highly suggest consigning things your kids grow out of and use the money towards the next size or toys more age appropriate. Look for a local swap & sell group or a consignment store near you.  At the beginning of the year, I started a local Swap & Sell page and it took off. We now have 300+/- members and we swap/sell just about anything, but mostly children’s items. It has been a HUGE help and I’ve made some new friends along the way.

I hope this helps someone out there. Just remember that kids are not expensive, THINGS are.

 May your “Quiver” be full, and your pockets not completely empty! (unless it’s the end of the month – There’s always too much month at the end of our money! )

Rachel

  • About

    Blue Willow is our homeschool name, chosen for the beautiful willow tree in our yard and the Bluegrass state we live in. Homestyle is defined as "involving the home or family" and "domestic". Here you will find stories about our life as a family and tips from me, a mommy of four. I will talk about a variety of things that pertain to our family and other things I'm passionate about. I do hope you enjoy.