Our Homeschool Room Tour

Homeschool Room Tour

Since we moved last year, we have been blessed with a wonderful space to learn. This is honestly my favorite part of our house. We spend a lot of time here daily. Let me give you a homeschool room tour!

Homeschool Room Tour.

A comfy place to read a book or play a game on the iPad.

Work table

This room is designed as a loft which allows us tons of natural light from windows and skylights plus lots of room to spread out our books. Here is our work table where the big kids usually sit to do their seatwork.

Homeschool room tour


Homeschool Room Tour Table

Preschool work area

Next to the big table is an area set up for my 3 year old. He has his own table and chair plus a chalkboard easel that gets  a ton of use.

Homeschool Room Preschool Space

My son loves his little table and chair. He feels really grown up having his own space. Everyone likes using the easel. Since we don’t have a large whiteboard, I often pull the easel out for spelling lessons.

Homeschool bookshelves

Next to the chalkboard area is the wall unit which holds the books we’re using this year. I can hardly keep my kids in books so we have bookshelves scattered throughout the house.

Homeschool Room Tour Bookshelves

Books on the top and toys on the bottom. This is how we organize our school time things.

Toy storage

The bottom shelves are devoted to toys and educational activities for the youngest. He is pretty good about playing by himself when I’m working with one of the other kids. I try to keep the toy selection to a minimum and this seems to help him stay occupied longer. (See what he did during a typical day last year.)

Homeschool Room Toys

My son loves these Vintage Fisher Price houses and toys. I was lucky to find a set in mint condition on Etsy.


Homeschool Room Preschool Shelf

I switch out things on these shelves about every week. Since my son sees his big brothers doing school, he likes to select his own work to do.

The bookshelves are loosely organized by subject. We have office supplies, paper, a basket full of math manipulatives and DVDs, easy readers, novels, teacher manuals and reference books.

Homeschool bookshelves with office supplies

Office supplies, lots of different types of paper, one of our oversized books and some teacher manuals.

Computer workstation

Next to the bookshelf is our computer workstation. The kids sometimes use headphones (we love this set) which really helps cut out distractions when someone needs to watch a video lesson and someone else is trying to get his own work done. We have a couple more laptops and iPads when needed.

Homeschool Computer Station

Homeschool Computer Station. Headphones are a lifesaver in a busy room.

Reading area

Next to the computer is the window seat. I have always wanted  a window seat and now we have one. The window seat plus a comfy armchair make the perfect place for reading books.

Homeschool room tour windowseat

Homeschool Room Windowseat

Art space / Workspace + Storage

Moving around the room, next is the counter area. This room has a counter and bank of cupboards. It gives me tons of storage plus a place to do messy art projects or other things that need lots of workspace.

Homeschool Room Tour - Countertop

While the room is huge, it has almost no wall space. The loft area is open to a living room below and the bookcase takes up another wall. So I’ve had to be creative about where I hang things. I’ve started using cupboard doors as wall space for some handmade learning helps I created. We’ll see how that goes this year.

Homeschool Room Tour Wall Display

Spelling rules are taped right to the cabinet doors.

Lots of open spaces and places to work

One thing you’ll notice is that I have a lot of open spaces and empty surfaces. I love the look of cleaned off tables and floors. We don’t always manage to keep them that way and frequently a pile of books will sit on a school table for much too long, but it’s the goal I work toward. It seems to help us focus on our work when things are put away and we don’t have extra stuff lying around.


The middle of the floor remains mostly open for preschool play but we do also have a mini-trampoline that the kids use all the time.  It is especially useful during oral math drills or when someone needs a break.

Homeschool room trampoline

Wouldn’t you believe that my kids who *never* pose for the camera ham it up when I want pics of the trampoline in action!

Thanks for visiting our homeschool room!

So that’s our homeschool room tour. Thanks for stopping by!

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Homeschool Room Tour. A bright and airy space for learning.

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How a girly-girl became a mom to 4 boys

How a girly-girl became mom to 4 boys

True confession: when I was pregnant for the first time 14 years ago, I dreamed of little girls with braids in their hair and baby dolls. I imagined them playing house, baking cookies and reading Little House on the Prairie.

As a girly-girl and one of five sisters, I assumed naturally that I would have little girls. But God had other plans. The baby boys arrived, one at a time, until there were 4 of them!

At first, I wondered how I could possibly parent a boy.

I was squeamish around bugs, worms and snakes, didn’t care for sports, and was just about as ensconced in my girl-world as I could be. I knew nothing of construction vehicles or tree climbing.

You can see just how narrow my focus was at that point. As if girls never climb trees and all boys love bugs!

Boys love climbing

My boys adore climbing on anything that’s available.

So as the boys came along, we figured things out together.

And I was stretched outside my comfort zone on a daily basis. At first, it was challenging, but eventually I learned to accept my nature-loving boys’ interest in spiders, snakes and fishing.

God is still working on me, but I have come to the point where I run for the camera when one of my kids catches a snake (like last week) instead of running for the safety of the house. Since my boys are true nature-lovers, I’ve learned to appreciate all things wildlife including worms, fish and spiders.

How a girly-girl became a mom to 4 boys

Dump trucks are serious business in our house.

I can catch a football, kick a soccer ball and appreciate when my boys learn how to safely handle Airsoft guns. I love them for the strong young men they are growing to be.

When people learn I’m a mom to 4 boys, they often give me looks of pity or raise their eyebrows and say things like “You’ve sure got your hands full!”

I guess some people don’t have much patience for the noise and mess that inevitably comes with 4 boys. I admit – they are loud! But there’s no need for pity. I can honestly say there’s no regret now for me that I don’t have a little girl who calls me mom.

How a girly-girl became a mom to 4 boys

Sometimes a puddle is just the thing to practice casting (something this mom knows nothing about).

Here’s why: it’s all about relationships.

I think the thing I was most concerned about was having a connection with my kids. Without having any experience with little boys, I assumed it would be easier with daughters.

Now I realize relationships and family connections are built on love and attention, not gender. I have plenty in common with my boys. Guess what – I’ve discovered I love exploring the outdoors with them! They love baking cookies and they even let me read Little House to them as long as there’s enough hunting involved. They are a huge help around the house. We’ve built our relationships together since day one and it’s the most natural thing in the world.

I’m still not a tom-girl.

I refuse to bait a hook. I do not care for dinnertime belching contests. At times, the testosterone in my house is more than I think I can take, but I do thank God every day for my four sons. They are exactly what He planned for me and I am so grateful for them.

So to all you moms of little boys out there, if you’re wondering how you will ever raise a boy to be a man, just know that it’s about love and relationship. If you focus on those two, the rest will follow.

Are you a mom to a boy?

Were you surprised by the arrival of a son or did you always expect it would be that way? I’d love to hear about your experience.

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3 Secret Amazon Prime features you’ve got to try

3 Secret Amazon Prime features you've got to try

I’ve told you before how much I love Amazon Prime. But I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t realize all the extra secret Amazon Prime features that you get when you sign up. In particular, here are 3 little-known benefits that make Prime a no-brainer. (Affiliate links are present. See my disclosure.)

1. Amazon Instant Watch

Amazon has thousands of free movies and TV shows for Prime users. We use Amazon Instant Watch daily! We don’t have cable or satellite and we don’t miss it a bit.

We’ve enjoyed complete seasons of Downton Abbey, John Adams, and Band of Brothers. Amazon has tons of shows for the preschool set (think Curious George, Dora and Blues Clues) plus lots of other classics. This weekend, we introduced our kids to John Candy and Planes, Trains and Automobiles – hilarious!

Between Amazon Instant Watch and Netflix, we can usually find a movie or a show that works for the whole family.

Do you know about these 3 Amazon Prime secret features?

Amazon has tons of free shows for kids.


2. Share your Prime shipping with up to 4 friends

Yep – you can give Prime shipping benefits to 4 of your friends or family members (Instructions here: How to share your Amazon Prime shipping). How cool is that? I’ve found Prime shipping to be so convenient – I order one or two small things daily off of Amazon.

If I didn’t have Prime, I’d probably end up spending more overall just to make the $35 minimum for free shipping (or pay for the shipping). With Prime, I only buy exactly what I need – no impulse purchases!

How much will your family love you if you share this convenience with them? You’ll be a superstar!

(By the way, you can’t share your Instant Watch benefits.)

3. (Potential) Sunday delivery

This is another huge feature. Amazon has recently started delivering Prime orders on Sundays in many areas! I was shocked the first time we had an Amazon box on our doorstep upon returning from church, but now it’s become a normal thing.

Their logistics are seriously lightning fast. I have placed orders on a Saturday afternoon that arrived on Sunday morning.

I really hate wasting time and gas in the car and lugging kids to the store. Amazon Prime helps me keep these trips to a minimum. That’s a great use of my resources and a major Early Bird Mom goal.

If you’re not already a member, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime. Here are the specifics.

Do you use Amazon Prime? What’s your favorite feature?

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Photos by Pixabay, Sarah Mueller

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How I Save Money on Large Purchases (18% or more!)

How I save money on large purchases (18% or more!) How to save money on large purchases with Raise.com. I cannot believe the discounts they offer. Can't wait to try this out.

I’ve been using a site called Raise.com to save on some big ticket purchases. We wanted to buy a grass collector for our lawn tractor. Since we’ve recently moved into a new house, we’ve had a lot of extra expenses and I wanted to save as much as I could on this purchase.

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post – just a tip about a site I’ve personally found super helpful. Affiliate links are present. (Full disclosure)

How to Save Money on Large Purchases through Raise.com

My husband found the grass collector he wanted online at Home Depot for $299. I clicked over to Raise.com and found a $300 gift card discounted to $275 (9% off). Raise.com offers a $5 bonus for new customers so that brought my price down to $270 (10% off). Then I ordered the grass collector through Ebates (sign up for Ebates here) and got an extra 2% cash back!

In total, I saved $36 by spending about 3 minutes to get this deal. (If you’re already as excited about this as I am, make sure you scroll down to see how to save even more.)

What I love about Raise

Raise is a site where you can buy and sell discounted gift cards. If you’re buying, there are no fees for you (if you’re selling a card, they take a commission.) They have a 100% purchase protection guarantee which was the essential factor for me.

I know you can buy gift cards on Ebay or Craigslist, but I would worry that there’s be a problem with my gift card and I’d lose the money. Raise takes care of that risk with a 100% money back guarantee and insures every transaction for 60 days.

How it works

You can browse the Raise.com website to see all their available gift cards. When you find a card you want, login and make your purchase. If you’ve picked a voucher or egift, your card will be emailed to you in minutes and you can use it right away. If it’s a physical card, it will be mailed to you.

How to save money on large purchases with Raise.com. I cannot believe the discounts they offer! Can't wait to try this out.

Raise has hundreds of stores available with discounts ranging from modest to over 50%.


The prices and selection are changing all the time so if you see something you want, you have to jump on it. Prices and availability are determined by the sellers so the choices fluctuate quite a bit.

When to use Raise

I like to check Raise to save money on large purchases. It’s also a great choice for stores that you shop at regularly (hello, Starbucks at 18% off!). This will also be a great choice for us for birthdays and holidays.


Make sure you check whether a card is a voucher, egift, or physical card.

  • Vouchers can be used in store
  • Egift cards can only be used online
  • Physical cards must be mailed to you and used in store.

You don’t want to purchase a card only to find out that you’ll have to place the order online.

Raise egift voucher screenshot

Check to see if the card offered is an egift, voucher or a physical card. This will make a difference how you can use it.

When I ordered the attachment for our lawn tractor, I specifically wanted to order online so I picked an egift card.

You might have to purchase more than 1 card to cover the cost of whatever you’re buying. On the other hand, if you see a great deal for a store that you regularly shop at, you might want to stock up.

Great stores

Raise currently has cards for a bunch of my favorite stores: Home Depot, iTunes, Amazon, Panera, Michael’s and Redbox. Some of the discounts are fairly low, but if you pair them with an extra 5% plus an extra $5 off (scroll down to see how), you’ll see a decent savings.

Great customer service

Before I made my first purchase, I emailed Raise with a question and got an answer within a half an hour. I was impressed with this level of service.

3 ways to save even more with Raise

  1. Use coupon code RAISE75AF for an extra $5 off your first purchase of $75 or more!
  2. Raise regularly runs specials for an extra 5% off. If you sign up for their site, they’ll send you email when these sales are happening.
  3. Pair your gift cards with Ebates for an even greater savings!

Now I always keep Raise in mind for large purchases to help keep expenses down. It only takes a few seconds to check their site for a great deal.

You can browse the deals on Raise.com here.

If you make a purchase through them, would you come back here and tell me about it? I love it when I can help people save money!

Have you ever bought a gift card online?

Photo by MoneyBlogNewz

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How We use YNAB to Manage Allowances

How We use YNAB (You Need a Budget) to Manage Allowances

Quiz: When it comes to kids’ allowances, do you:

A. Wait ’til the kids remind you it’s time and then pay up

B. Give your kids money as needed, but not on a set schedule

C. Pay for chores as they are accomplished

D. Regularly pay an allowance on a set schedule

If you answered A, B, or C, are you frustrated or annoyed over allowances? I find it a real pain to have to dig up cash when my kid reminds me or pay for each little chore that is finished.

Maybe you’d like to try budgeting for allowances.

It’s so easy to do! This is how we do it.

How we budget for allowances using YNAB

Each month, I budget the total monthly allowance dollars into our budgeting software, You Need a Budget (YNAB). On the first Friday of the month, I pay the kids (either in cash or as a transfer into their individual Capital One 360 savings accounts). Usually they choose the transfer option so they don’t have extra cash to keep.

I love using Capital One for the kids’ accounts (by the way, Capital One offers a $25-50 bonus for new customers!) Their handy mobile deposit app allows me to deposit any checks they get without a trip to the bank. I can instantly transfer allowances from my savings account directly into theirs.

How I track loans to my kids

Along with budgeting for allowances, I keep track of any loans I’ve made to the kids in YNAB. My kids have inherited my love of shopping online and so I often will place orders for them. I enter my purchases into my YNAB app and categorize them as loans the kids need to pay back.

How we use YNAB to manage allowances

I purchased an iPod for my son. This is the entry into the free YNAB iPad app. I categorize this purchase as a “loan to kids”. Later I can collect the money back from my son.

When I’m reconciling my accounts, if I haven’t asked the kids to pay me back yet, I notice the balance in the “Loans to Kids” category. In fact, that balance tells me that someone owes me money right now!

Using YNAB to manage allowances

This is the YNAB budgeting screen. I have a category for “Kids Allowances” right above “Loans to Kids”.

Using YNAB for these 2 categories is a perfect fit because:

1. I don’t forget to budget for the allowances.

We don’t spend a ton of money on allowances, but I like to have it accounted for at the beginning of the month.

2. I’m already using YNAB.

I’m in YNAB for all our other money matters so it’s simple to record these transactions.

3. It’s giving my kids a head start with budgeting.

They see me entering their purchases and they know how important budgeting is to me. This is a great start to smart money management for them.

The budgeting is paying off!

My kids have saved a ton and their bank accounts are growing. Just last week the two older boys bought refurbished iPod 5 Touch models off of Amazon. My 7 year old bought his big brother’s old iPod. Now they all have their own personal iPods (secured by my trusty internet security system – did you get your copy yet?)

Max with his new iPod

My son with his new iPod, purchased with his own money.

Would you like a YNAB discount?

If you plan to purchase a copy of YNAB, don’t forget to come back here and use this link for a coupon worth $6 off the price.

You might also like to see how we track our spending in YNAB. This little habit makes it super easy to keep our budget up to date.

How do you manage your kids’ allowances?

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Click here to start saving with Capital One 360
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