Friday, April 26, 2013

Creative Solutions and a School Room

Lately, I've really been craving a school room, but in our apartment, I could never find the space for it.  We've always had to be creative in the use of space in our apartment, but this takes the cake.  

For the three years that we've been in this place, a little balcony in the boys' bedroom has served three  purposes--storage, closet, and reading area.  On one end was a large bookcase that we use as their closet.  On the other end we had 4 trunks that we moved here with.  They store outdoor equipment, holiday decorations, off season clothing, and several years worth of deodorant, among other things. .  In the middle were 2 small book shelves of kids books.  

Last week, I'd had enough of the school-time distractions that come from doing school at the dinner table.  I was tired of pulling everything out and putting it away each day.  I was tired of constantly running back and forth to get out school supplies.  I went into the boys room (which I'd done a million times before) looking for a solution--a way to make a school area.  

Like a flash of lightening, it hit me.  Two of those trunks are the perfect height for a child's desk, and we have four.  It was exactly what I needed to run with the idea.  That large bookcase/closet, could easily fit in the main area of the boys room.  Since they are getting bigger, they don't need as much floor space for playing, so it's not much of a sacrifice.  Moving the closet allowed for a desk at each end of the balcony.  Those smaller bookshelves bugged me for a while though.  They infringed on the desk space and really didn't fit anywhere else in the house.  Then I started thinking about some sort of divider (in my original moment of desperation, I imagined cubicles for each boy because they distract each other way too much), and those bookshelves turned into exactly what I needed.  So here it is...

We have a school room!!!

View from the main room
The great divide
Tegan's side of the great divide
Preston's side of the great divide

Tegan's desk area
Preston's desk area
Tegan's desk
His inspirational word on the window is "SOAR"
Preston's desk
His inspirational word on the window is "I'mPossible"
 Why didn't I think of this before?

I suppose if I had thought of this earlier, we wouldn't appreciate it as much as we do now.  We've had a week to enjoy it so far, and it's been so nice to be able to isolate ourselves during our school times.  The boys have loved it.  They've concentrated so much better and worked harder than ever before.  They even enjoy doing homework at their desks.  I love that I've been able to make it look like a "real" classroom.  Little things like having a calendars, the writing process, addition/subtraction key words, a number chart, and a map hanging go a long way toward making school more successful.  Being able to display their projects, helps them to take pride and put more effort into their work.  It's just great all around!

The absolute best part though is that it only cost RMB 58 ($10) for the plastic to make a smooth writing surface.  You really can't beat that.

As a spoilt American, I have to admit that I've griped quite a bit about not having enough space, and have dreamt about our next place in the hopes that it'll have a few things that this place doesn't.  I keep having to stop myself and realize that we do have enough.  In fact, we have more than most of the world.  This process of finding space where I really didn't think we had space has been quite humbling.  If we are truly good stewards of the space we have, it really is enough.  The Creator of creativity will help us, and He is full of great ideas.  He is faithful to provide for every one of our needs, even if it means, we have to put in a little elbow grease to make it work.  For that I'm grateful!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Birthday Preston...

My little man, today you turn 6. It's hard to believe how fast time goes, and that you are growing up as quickly as you are.

It seems like I always say this, but this year your life changed drastically once again. You went from the baby of the family, to the "dreaded" middle child and you did it in a spectacular fashion.

You are so full of life, so full of creativity. You are our little joker, the one who is able to put a smile on our faces no matter what! You are always smiling and happy--literally from the moment you wake up, till the second we put you in bed.  You are our social butterfly, you can talk to anyone about anything (you take after your Grandpa that way) and nothing is too hard or too scary. 

In difficult situations and on bad days, you handle it with grace, and with an ease that most people your age could not. 

I am so proud of you, and so thankful that your Mommy and I get the honor of calling you our son. You light up our life in ways we never knew were possible.

Happy birthday to my amazing 6 year old son.....

Saturday, April 6, 2013


So many of my childhood memories revolve around my Peepaw.  I say he was my Peepaw, but he was really my neighbor.  He had grandkids and great grand kids of his own, but I never knew anything different and he treated me as one of his own.  I grew up calling him Peepaw.  Just calling him neighbor didn't cut it.  So, he was my Peepaw, even though he was someone else's too.

I can't begin to tell you just how many hours I sat in his lap, how many word searches we completed, how many bowls of strawberry ice cream and packages of licorice we shared, how many pennies he gave me for the gum-ball machine, how many tractor rides we took together, how many Wheel of Fortune episodes we watched from his rocking chair, how many glasses of milk we drank alongside each other, or how many times I heard him warn, "You're gonna bust your kuhsitus, ya hear!"

Many of my memories involve my Dad and Peepaw together, and again, I can't count how many times I watched them dig through each others' junk piles garages looking for this or that, how many times they worked together to build something only they would know the purpose and function of, how many times they sat together with sweat dripping on their brows from a hard day's work, how many times they sat watching me ride my bike, how many times they met at our barbed wire fence line to discuss the weather.

Though I don't know the numbers to any of those things, I do know that I only pulled down his britches ONE time while he was barbecuing (Give me a break.  I was only 3 years old.)

This past Summer, we were in the US after adopting our youngest, and we took a trip to see Meemaw and Peepaw.  Peepaw's health had not been too good, and I had a feeling that it would be the last I would see him.  It was also the first time he met my kids. He made quite the impression on them in such a short visit, and I'm sure it had everything to do with his orneriness.  It was bittersweet, and I'm so glad that we made that trip and he became their Peepaw too.

On Friday, Peepaw took his final breath and on Tuesday he will be laid to rest.  He was one of the most important men in my life and I will miss him dearly.

We love you, Peepaw!