DIY Homeschool Room Makeover {Part 3}

Eight days.


That is how long our homeschool room transformation was supposed to take. Instead, it took eight weeks. Which I would say is just about right. That is how we roll.


But it did turn out exactly as I had hoped and I could not be more thankful for all the long hours Jay put into making my vision a reality. Even though creating a homeschool room stressed me out for awhile.


My goal was to create a space that in some ways resembled a school room, but a space that was also an extension of our home.


I did not want our homeschool room to scream SCHOOL. Nor did I want it look like a school supply store had sneezed all over it.


For our school table, Jay refinished an antique Irish pine table that was a gift from his father. Jay actually grew up eating at it and we even shared a few meals together at it when we were dating, so it means a lot for us to have it now. The chairs are my favorite chair ever. They are from Shabby Chic and we have had them for a few years.


I housed all of Lilla’s markers and pencils on the table and out of Bette’s reach and used Scrabble letters for her name plate.

I decided to use my mother’s favorite sideboard as our “bookshelves.” Jack Mike gave it to me this past summer and it is a piece my mother loved. All of our books and materials are in it and so far it has worked quite well.


I did end up finding some big bulletin boards that were only $18, probably because they were framed in cheap black plastic. Jay spray painted them white to match the rest of the room.


The hanging clipboards so far are for our weekly schedule, chore chart, and book worm.


For a long time, we had boxes full of really old books that we inherited from our mothers that I never knew what to do with. Some of the books are sweet old titles. Others are random books I have never heard of. Most of them are pretty beat up. I covered them all in blue craft paper of various patterns to hide their tattered covers so we could finally display them.
I found our alphabet strip online, which fit the bulletin boards after a few modifications were made, and our globe in an antique mall.

Plenty of people told me I had to do centers. All over my house, I needed to set up centers. Art Center, Math Center, Listening Center, Computer Center, Reading Center. Which did not appeal to me at all. Just thinking about all those learning spaces stressed me out.
Instead, I decided to use a workbox system, which I discovered at Confessions of A Homeschooler. The file cabinet came from Ikea and it is small enough to be tucked away and hidden from view.


And when school is out I can just clear away all our school stuff and I will be left with what looks to be like a little breakfast nook.


Thank goodness it is done.

DIY Homeschool Room Makeover {Part 2}

It is finally done! The construction on our DIY Homeschool Room Makeover is finished. Jay wrapped almost everything up last weekend. There are a few more finishing touches that need to be dealt with, but overall, it is finished. And our 7 day cabinet project only ended up taking three full weeks. Not bad.

Not that that should have surprised me, but it did because I forgot to double Jay’s projected time estimate. Usually, when he gives me a time estimate about something, I increase it by 50%. So when he says, “It will talke me 30 minutes to cut the grass,” I will say, “And by 30 minutes you mean 45 minutes?” And I am usually right on the money. But with a project this big, I should have at least doubled his estimate, because doesn’t everything take longer than you think?
The cabinetry came from Ikea and the quality is surprisingly good. We originally looked at cabinetry offered by one of the big box home improvement stores, but when the estimate came back in the five figures, we abandoned that idea fast. Really fast.

When we went to Ikea to check out their selection, I was expecting sub-standard melamine, but the cabinetry is really well made and the engineering is very well done. The store has computer kiosks, so we were able to sit down and design exactly what we wanted to fit our space and then take every last piece (and there were a lot of pieces) home with us to install ourselves. The cabinets are white, the countertop is birch and the hardware is nickel and it all matches our kitchen.


Jay did a really great job. He pays really close attention to detail so anything he undertakes turns out really well. I am very happy about all the extra storage space, which we desperately need, and can’t wait to prepare this room for homeschooling.

I am in the throws of planning our homeschooling schedule, which is a bit of a daunting task for a newbie like me. My biggest concern at this point is being able to juggle Bette during the times I am supposed to be teaching Lilla. Bette doesn’t play all that great by herself, which makes sense since she can’t hear, but I am hoping that will change for the better now that she has her cochlear implant. She still takes a long nap in the afternoon, so I think that if we get off schedule in the morning we can catch up later in the day.
I am also getting some final school supplies together and I found these books and flash cards at Target in the dollar section. The dollar section at Target. I can never resist and I always walk out with anywhere between one and ten items. But that is probably the point. To suck mothers like me and their kids in where they think, “We can get that. Why not? It’s only a dollar.” And five or ten dollars later you have a bunch of crap you don’t need.

But I do think we will actually use these books and cards so I don’t feel like I have thrown money down the drain. At least not this time. Lilla is not yet capable of reading these books, but they will be great for reading aloud. And if they get ruined or colored on or thrown in the toilet by a percocious toddler, it won’t matter, because they were only a dollar. So, thank goodness for the dollar section at Target!

Recipes, Room Makeovers, And A Cochlear Implant Update

Hello friends!

How are you?

I hope you are well.

And that you had a great weekend.


Our weekend was quiet.

I can barely even remember what we did.

Except that we spent a lot of time at Ikea.

And ate a lot of cookies.


Have you ever made Nestle Tollhouse cookies?

Of course you have.

In all likelihood.

But have you ever made them in a pan?


My mother used to make them that way.

When I was a child.

Except that she bought slice and bake dough.

And smashed it all down into a glass pan.


God, love her.

She thought it was pretty much the same.

As making cookies from scratch.

Which it so clearly isn’t.


Cooking was not my mother’s thing.

But I did love eating those cookie bars.

And decided to try to make them.

But from scratch.


I just followed the normal Nestle Tollhouse recipe.

 And used the same ingredients.
For their regular cookies.
Which are always crazy good.
Except that instead of dropping heaping spoonfuls.
Of dough on a cookie sheet.
I spread the batter out.
In a 9 inch by 15 inch greased pan.
It was pretty easy to make.
And a whole lot less time consuming.
Than spooning out all that dough.
On all those cookie sheets.
And there was a whole lot less clean up.
One bowl.
One pan.
And that was about it.
I would recommend baking the pan version.
For about 18-20 minutes.
I baked mine for 22 minutes.
And they were a little too done.
But they were still good.
And we enjoyed them all weekend.
And if you prefer the exact recipe.
You can find it here.
After we baked our pan cookies.
Jay and I had to consult for a moment.
About our room makeover.
And what needed to happen next.
While we were talking.
Lilla grabbed Bette’s high chair.
And pushed her around.
To the table where she was drawing.
I sort of saw it out of the corner of my eye.
But then I heard Lilla say.
Here you go Bette.
Come sit with me.
Bette loved sitting up there.
With her big sister.
And watching her.
For about three minutes.
Then she looked at me like…
What are we doing?
This isn’t fun.
When are you going to get me down?
Our room makeover is coming along.
We are not as far along.
As we had hoped we would be by now.
But progress has been made.
The outside wall has been bricked.
And completely sealed off.
A brick mason came.
And did the job in a day.
Jay installed the drywall.
And started assembling all the cabinetry.
But our original goal was to finish it all.
By yesterday.

But the assembly process is surprisingly detailed.
And very slow.
We are slugging away at it.
But it will take another week or two to finish.
We purchased our cabinetry at Ikea.
Which I was not excited about at first.
I assumed it would be cheap.
And not well made.
But I was wrong.
It is very well constructed.
And Jay is pleased with the quality.
Which is saying a lot since he is a woodworker.
Hopefully, the end product will look something like this…

And I am excited to say.

That this week is the big week.

Bette receives the external device.

Of her cochlear implant.




She will get her electronic “ear.”

We are so excited!

We will be taking lots of pictures and videos.

So check back soon!


Love you friends!

Adoption Jewelry and Room Makeover Snags

It is hot here.
So hot.
Ridiculously hot.
We avoid being outside at all costs.
Except when water is involved.
So we ventured out to a swim party.
Which provided a nice break from the heat.
And we had a great time.

Bette made a couple of new friends.
And walked all over the place.
I think the concrete was too rough.
For her to sit or crawl on.

So walk she did!

We may have to move all of our activities.
Out into our driveway.
To encourage the little munchkin.
To walk walk walk.

But we absolutely cannot do that.
Because we would all die.
Of heat stroke.
Within the first five minutes.

The day after the swim party.
We hit a major snag.
In the breakfast room renovation.
In our room makeover.

The snag being Jay realizing.
He could not build.
What we had planned.
And what I designed.

He was just being honest.
And that as much as he wanted to build it.
He didn’t think he could do it.
And do it well.

Which I understand.
And appreciate now.
But at that moment.
I wasn’t happy.

The window had been torn out.
The room had been torn apart.
And the entire downstairs was slowly evolving.
Into a construction zone.

Like I said.
I wasn’t happy.
My reaction could be characterized as.
Complete and total quiet panic.

And a loud discussion ensued.
Along the lines of…
How did this happen?
And what are we going to do?!

Jay fortunately came up..
With a brilliant plan B.
Not right there on the spot.
But after some thoughtful research.

It is a great plan.
He is working on it now.
And it may even better.
Than our original plan A.

And also before I go.
My friend Lora, the designer at Eager Hands.
Has just created a a lovely necklace.
For adoptive families.

The necklace is silver.
And features a charm.
Personally handcrafted by Lora.
And stamped with the word Chosen.

I absolutely love it.
And think it is beautiful.
Check out her site if you have a minute!
And have a great weekend!

DIY Homeschool Room Makeover {Part 1}

Hello friends! I hope you had a good weekend. A little construction project began at our house this past weekend. As I have mentioned before, we are homeschooling next year, which still scares the crap out of me sometimes, even though I firmly believe it is the right thing for us. But we are sorely lacking a proper space and so this weekend we began our homeschool room makeover!


We are converting our breakfast room into a homeschool room, or at least a room we can use for homeschooling. It was unusable in its former state for homeschooling, mostly because it was full of dishes. Beautiful dishes that we inherited from our mothers, who are both passed away, and grandmothers, that I am happily saving to pass along to my brother and my own girls when the time comes.

But all those dishes still take up a lot of room, so our first order of business in our makeover was to create more storage, which meant knocking out a window, building a wall, adding more shelving and cabinetry, and all in DIY style.
Our friend Alex, who is a professional builder, volunteered to help and he knew exactly what to do. The guys got after it really fast and made amazing progress. Before I knew it the window was out, the two by fours were up and the plywood was being nailed on.
Alex’s help was invaluable. And it doesn’t hurt that he is laugh out loud funny too. All the time.
In exchange for his help, all we did was feed him, which was really no trouble since I was already cooking for my own family. And help him assemble an enormous trampoline for his kids. But Jay did that, not me. I saved my energy for jumping on it with Lilla when they were all done. It all worked out really well for everyone.
Both Lilla and Bette were really interested in all the activity. Lilla wanted to hang out with the guys all weekend and talked Alex’s ear off when she could. He has a five year old girl too, and we all go swimming together a lot, so I don’t think he minded too much.
Bette, like always, wanted to be into the middle of things, but we barricaded her out. She tried her best to get past, but could never quite make it.
Step one is now completely finished. The window came down and the wall went up. The guys also waterproofed everything and prepared the brick for the mason. Now on to step two…