The Big Homeschool Room REVEAL!

side wall panorama

I know you have been waiting to see the homeschool room reveal. It is FINALLY finished. We may actually be ready to start school soon!  It has been a long haul it seems, but I’d really rather do it now, than have things be chaotic in the middle of trying to teach and live life.

I think the kids are really liking it as they have already been spending lots of time in here. Too much so, as almost every morning this week I have had to clear out their toys and things so I can work! That is a good sign, that they like the room and want to be in it!

I like it too! It is comfortable (with the addition of the new couch), roomy (with a smaller desk for mom there is much more floor space), and bright. I tried to make it really fun and kid friendly, and hopefully we will love spending days right here.

I’ll give the tour…clockwise starting at the doors… new clock

Starting with the new green clock above the door… sigh (read my post ‘Remnants of a Life’ if you don’t get the sighing). I do like it a lot, and it matches the room wonderfully. It ticks a little loudly though, so it might just drive me nuts!  Notice the lack of large exercise balls? Opens up the space a lot , don’t you think?! A new coat of paint did wonders too, to brighten things up.

calendar areaThe calendar center is behind the door. It still needs some cork boards or hooks above the calendar, but I need to shop to get those. I plan to have Devin do calendar time and learn days of the week and months of the year. I found these fun calendar icons for each month on Teachers Pay Teachers. Each month is a different theme with a different pattern, so we can do numbers and patterns at once! I also found fun Day of the Week cards, Weather Chart and Months of the Year Cards on there too. Add a dusty laminator, and I feel like a real preschool teacher! ; )

Next is my big IKEA hack bookcase we built last year. It is full of school related things. (Except the very top row which is scrapping stuff that still needs to find a home somewhere else.)bookshelf

For those who care, I’ll go over the organization of the bookshelf in another post. I spent weeks going thru every one of the cubbies and really being harsh on what could stay and what should go. I have a lot of books we won’t use this year which are now out in the garage, labeled so we can find them later. I still could eliminate a few things, but this is it for now. I made the unit, and the baskets and totes are from Target. I have found ice cube bins and CD baskets work well for keeping things organized by subject.

I tried very hard to make the rows and columns make sense to all of us (not just me). That way my kids can find their things, even if they don’t remember exactly where stuff belongs. It is a bit of a bingo board… categories across and down…

secretary & d desk

Next… My newly Chalk-painted thrift store secretary… love it! I still need to finish painting the doors and install them and drawer handles, but it works until then! The small size of the desktop will FORCE me to keep my desk area clean and organized. (Which I desperately need help with!) The top shelves have pics of my kids, the drawers have additional supplies, folders, cables, etc. My Ikea “Ghost Chair” is a consignment find too! YAY! The IKEA cable hanger above will be great to showcase their art projects and decorate the room.

Devin’s desk & small chair was a fabulous Goodwill find from last year. A coat of green spray paint made it Devin’s! A plastic shoe box with daily use school supplies and a spot for his workbooks & folders fit great in the cubby. A magnet board, alphabet chart & D’s name in Chinese (or was it Japanese?) complete his space.

s desk

Skylar’s antique school desk is another refurbished Chalk Paint experiment. It was a consignment find and was shiny black and DIRTY! Now it’s sweet and girly, but not so girly that we will have to re-paint when it becomes Devin’s in a couple years. (I may share my how-to use Chalk paint in a later post… ) Her daily workbooks are in the sorter on her desk, others in her drawers (along with crayons, markers, colored pencils). Her readers for the first few months are on the floor under her desk in the pink basket. Her name in symbols & a place for some other special find hang above. An IKEA magnet board for her reminders and work will TRY to help her stay organized, but she’s a work in progress…

We have 2 chair options for Skylar, the pink target chair and the exercise ball. She loves to bounce, and supposedly this is an appropriate option for kinesthetic learners, to be able to bounce and do their school work. We’ll see if it works without becoming a distraction!

An old easel with a new coat of chalkboard paint will be great for circle time and other quick explanations. I think it will be great for our Rod & Staff work.  Skylar loves to play school using this, so hopefully it will work for real school too! A bean bag chair for the kids to sit in & read or play is nice & comfy.

couch wall

The white shelf unit is full of math manipulatives, puzzles, sorting toys, magnet books and stacking pegs, almost all of which were part of Cayden’s therapy gear. I am glad it will be useful for a while longer for his little brother, who does love to play & learn with these things. On the side of the unit is our $1 Target class schedule, with my printed subject icons, able to be changed as needed.

Another thrifty find is the new couch. This couch became my dream after seeing a picture of a great reading nook in another family’s homeschool room. We had the old glider in here last year, but it was just too small for me to sit in with the kids. I needed a small scale couch or settee to not take up too much space in this small room, but big enough for us all to cuddle on while doing our read-alouds. After a week of hitting up every consignment store in town with no success (read: nothing cheap/nice enough for me in the style I wanted!), we spent a long day in Charlotte trying every used furniture /antique/ consignment store we could find. The last stop we made was the ReStore, and we hit the jackpot with this little couch. Just the right size at just the right price!  I do plan to re-upholster it to better match the room at some point, (MaryJo’s here I come!) but for now it is just right.

The polka-dotted walls add just a touch of color to the room, to keep it young and brighten it up. I took the color palette from the curtain that I made a few years ago. I found the quote hangings at Marshalls, in just the right colors too! The lamp is a hold-over from Cayden’s nursery, and the side table has been languishing in the attic for years. A new coat of paint and it will fit right in!

back wall panorama

So that’s it! What do you think? Joey & I were talking about how it really is NOT Cayden’s room anymore. But as we looked around we could see quite a few traces of him. His OT manipulatives, his lamp, his bean bag chair, the shelf unit & baskets, the plant we got for his funeral, his calendar, abacus & most of all, his pictures. He is still present here in a subtle but important way. Our angels ARE among us, as we start a new year in a fun and organized new homeschool room!

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Let me know what you think of the new space!



Remnants of a life…

So I haven’t posted lately as I actually HAVE been painting! I have finished the work in the kitchen, as well as a long-delayed glazing project in the dining room which we use as the office. All the trim in these areas has a fresh coat of bright white paint too & it looks lovely (if I do say so myself!).

I have also begun the painting and organizing of the school room. It is about half finished so far (2 walls complete). But I am having a bit of difficulty with the other two. Yes, I need to run to the hardware store and pick up another gallon of my favorite ‘Crumb Cookie’ cream to do the base coat. Yes, I need to move the big 6’x6′ cube unit to do behind it (or maybe not!)  But it is one last little bit that is getting to me.

I really need to remove the last few things that made this room, Cayden’s room. Only his race car clock and balance ball holder remain, (along with some random VBS art projects). The clock no longer works, (it never did work well), and it doesn’t match the new colors. The balls just are huge and need to go in the garage. They are dusty and somewhat sad, but I just can’t quite bring myself to take them down.

These two things are the last bits of what made this room Cayden’s. This room was a huge reason why we bought THIS house. It is actually a ‘formal living room’ space, but it is on the side of the house by our bedroom. It was a major deciding factor (along with one story, wood floors, and flat driveway) that we needed to care for C. We needed a room close to us so we could get to him quickly at night. He would awaken and need re-positioning several times a night because he physically couldn’t roll himself over. He would cry out, we would trudge in, roll him over, and then he would snooze happily on his other side. It was a bit of a drudgery to be sure, but what I wouldn’t give to still be doing that!

It is a hard balance to find, the life of the grieving mom. I miss my son terribly, and hold onto the little bits that remind me of him. As time passes, I am able to make changes, but as each little thing goes away, it seems to send him further into the recesses of my memory. And THAT is sad! I don’t ever want to forget him, even the slightest bit!

So, you may ask, why bother to remove the non-working clock? Just leave it as for sentimental reasons. And I have, for 5 years. But I know NOW is the time to make the effort and put it away.

My heart tells me this verse, when I get too weary or find myself wallowing in grief brought about by change…

Isaiah 43:18-19
This is what the LORD says–
“Forget the former things; 
     do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!…
     Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert 
     and streams in the wasteland.”

He is doing a new thing for me! He is making a new path for me, for our family, a path with streams in the desert. He is healing my grieving desert soul with Living Water! Each time I feel parched, I need to remember to just take a long drink of His refreshing Word!

I know that Our new thing, is the path leading to homeschooling. This last year, I felt like our path was like walking at dusk, or maybe the time right before the dawn. Not totally dark, but not fully in the light either.  Just feeling my way thru the twisty-turny path of the school year. This year, I can fell already, will be brighter, better planned, and more easy to navigate. I pray it will be more lie the sunrise, full of great excitement and colorful days.

The re-purposing of Cayden’s room is part of that new path. Even it’s name is changing. Since we moved in, this room was just “Cayden’s room.” Even after he died, and it became my craft and scrap room, it was still “Cayden’s room.” Now, as we talk, it is slowly becoming, more and more often “The School Room,” rather than “Cayden’s room.” And that makes me sad. Another way C is fading away…

But God’s word in Isaiah lifts me up. It tells me that I should not dwell on what WAS, instead to look at our life NOW and our NEW path, with understanding of the new things HE is creating for US.

He is the creator of all good things, so this too, is destined to be good. I have faith in his purpose for me, if only I follow his path, which this week, is a bit in the desert but a desert where there is a refreshing stream, if only I stop and drink it in.


Cayden's room window Cayden room back wall

This is Cayden’s room as it was when he passed away.

school room School room back wall

These are the school room at the beginning of my re-organizing/redecorating project (what a mess!) I’ll post an after picture of the school room when we are complete! Look for it!

Decorating by Christ

I am a decorator by nature. In the 70’s I decorated my Barbie House, with orange and yellow blow up furniture and shag carpet. In the 80’s it was my bedroom, Garfield posters and pictures everywhere. In the 90’s my dorm rooms and meager little apartments were strewn with crates of books and tapestries.


In 2001, we bought our first house that I decorated as best as I could, with a re-upholstered (by us) denim Queen Anne sofa and hand-me down furniture. We moved to our current home in 2006, painted every room before we moved in, and decorated and bought furniture as we have been able and as our family has grown. For every new place we live, I sew custom curtains and cushions. I also paint all the walls, (sometimes even with fancy finishes).


I like how our home looks, for the most part, but it is time for some tweaking! We have lived in this home longer than I have EVER lived in ANY home my ENTIRE life. Seriously. I am a little stir crazy. I need to freshen things up. Re-arranging furniture is a bit normal for me (to my husband’s chagrin), but I need more than that. I need new paint! The walls are getting a bit dingy and dirty with all the little hands that pass thru here. The ‘temporary’ colors in the kitchen are driving me nuts, so it is time for a new look!


I don’t know why I have the pressing need to make the house look new, or different or updated, but I can’t NOT decorate. It is wired in my DNA. I was a professional set designer after all, and had lots of chances to decorate a new room (or several) with each new show. Without that creative outlet, I am feeling the pinch, the urge to create. We have been in the status quo for too long, and it’s time for a change!


“What is the point?” some of you may be saying. “Go paint a room or something!” I plan to, as soon as I go get the paint, but I wanted to share my enlightenment on this topic before I do.


We all know Christ is a designer and creator, and loves to make things look nice. I think He does a pretty great job, don’t you? Colorful leaves in the fall, sparkling snow covered mountains, beautiful beaches and ocean colors: His color palettes just can’t be beat. But did you know that He is not just a designer, but also is a decorator? (There is a difference, you know!)


In John 14:2, Jesus tells his followers: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” In Matthew 25:34, Jesus calls Heaven “The kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”


Before He knew me, actually, before He created the world, Jesus had prepared a place, a room, just for ME (and for everyone else, ever, in the world) in His Father’s Mansion in Heaven.


Somewhat hard to fathom the size of the house isn’t it! And HOW many rooms does it have? And within that gigantic house, there is a room, prepared, since the creation of the world, for me?! And I am sure this is NOT a dormitory, it is a MANSION. Decorated to the hilt, by the Creator Himself. Wow! How cool is that!


We can perhaps better relate to this if we think of expectant parents. While they anticipate the arrival of their child, the parents lovingly decorate a space for the child before they even know him or her.  Most parents wouldn’t think of NOT preparing a room for the child, but rather want everything to be perfect before he or she arrives. From the theme to the colors, the lights to the glider, it all has to be just so, doesn’t it?


My husband and I debated during my first pregnancy whether or not to prepare a nursery for our son. The son who, (we were told at 20 weeks gestation), would most likely be stillborn or die moments after his birth. I didn’t want to have a beautifully decorated, empty nursery with no baby to bring home to it, along with an empty and grieving heart. I was scared and uncertain, and wavered for months.


Finally, I decided to just take the chance, prepare the room, and have faith that our little one would live long enough to enjoy it. I chose stars and moons and clouds, (a little bit of heaven) and sewed away, making curtains, bumper pads and wall hangings. I rested in the fact that even if he didn’t use it, we would someday have another child who could.


For me, the act of lovingly preparing that special space for a person not yet here, who was not guaranteed to come, took a great leap of faith. A great big, scary, tearful, prayerful leap!


How awestruck we should be to think that Christ is doing that for us! Even while we are still sinners, He prepares our rooms! Before we have taken that step and accepted him, He prepares our rooms! I’m sure He is decorating our rooms in our favorite colors and themes, He knows us so well!


John 14:3 continues, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”


Like a loving parent, bringing their child into the nursery for the first time, Jesus himself will carry us to our Eternal home. He will show us around our room, which we will certainly love, and which will be so much more than we can ever imagine. I can’t wait to see what He has prepared just for me, can you?


(Visualize the reveals of Extreme Home Makeover, multiply it by 100, and maybe we will have a hint of what is to come.) ; )


So this week, as I begin to paint, I will be daydreaming about my Eternal home, knowing my home here may be nice, but cannot begin to compare to the home that awaits me in Heaven.




P.S. To answer the question, we were able to bring our little boy Cayden home from the hospital. He lived long enough to outgrow his nursery, and to get a big boy room complete with checkered flag and race car theme. He now lives in the room Jesus prepared for him in Heaven, and I am certain it is orange and blue and full of all things boy.