Saturday, February 20, 2016

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Desk Edition

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

My "desk" is a running joke between my husband and I. Since we've lived in this house (almost 6 years), my desk has been in probably 5 different places! Also, I keep changing physical desks! (There are 3 desks in our house that I claim as "mine." Usually there's only one in use at a time.)

The trouble is, I find I need a desk for everyday stuff like household organization and paperwork, bills, home education papers, etc., and then I want a desk where I do my more creative work of writing.

(You can find me writing over at The Red Letters Blog, where I write about God, family life, prayer, and Lent.)


No, this isn't my desk - it's the sideboard in the living room. These are the flowers my husband and daughter chose for me last week. :) I love tulips!

But I find when I want to do writing, I work best in a room that is clean and pretty! I have rarely sat at the same desk for writing. In the summer, when our upstairs isn't so cold and drafty, there is a very small desk set up by a window where I often go to write. In the winter, I find I drift toward the warmer rooms, like the dining room, and write at the dining room table (after I clear it off, of course).


Just in the last few weeks, I've decided to try a different set up for my "everyday" desk. I used to have a desk in the dining room for this sort of thing, but it would end up getting stacked up with papers and books and paraphernalia, plus my laptop, and I didn't like the look of that in the dining room. Also, with the bigger table Micah made, it was getting harder to squeeze a desk in around that. I ended up doing most of my household paperwork at the table anyway.

I do like to have a central place, where I'm not isolated from the kids, and where I can take care of things as they come up throughout the day.

(My real, official desk is actually in our office. But that is the room my husband works in during the day, so it's not really accessible when I need it most. Consequently, it just became a paper dumping surface.)

So, I'm experimenting (here is where my husband laughs) with a stand-up work surface in the pantry!

We have a walk-through pantry between the kitchen and dining room. (You can see the counter with the toaster to the right, and the dining room is to the left.) It's as central as it gets, while also being somewhat out of the way.

The "desk" itself is a cube shelf turned on its end. It is mostly full of the kids art and craft stuff, though I do get one little cubby for myself!

My current philosophy of paperwork is that the less space I give it, the less it will pile up! In other words, I will have to deal with it right away. I just got the wall file, which has three slots - one for unopened mail and bills to be paid, one for receipts, and one for home education and homemaking files. The little basket is for current books, my daily planner, my home education binder, other notebooks, scrap paper, and other current papery things. My laptop just fits here, where it can be plugged in. If I need to do something quickly on the computer, I just stand and get it done, and without a chair it is less tempting to sit and get involved in unplanned browsing.

Sometimes I pull a stool over. When I need to sit down and pay bills, or do something on the computer that requires a bit of time, I just take it over to the dining room table. I do the work, then do the filing and put the computer back here.

So far it seems to be working. It's helped me keep on top of paperwork, and I like the location.

It's all part of the puzzle of where in this house to have the homeschool stuff (the paperwork and then there are the books), the household stuff, and the kids arts and crafts stuff. Some of our "school" activities are done at the dining room table (all the messy work and art/crafts), but we have another library/music room where we do other "school" things. That's a whole other set up in progress! I'm sure we will figure it out some day.

This is a shelf in the dining room which has my home education resources and books on it. (Also, homemaking, homesteading, gardening, nature guides, etc.) I still do most of my home education planning in the dining room, so it's handy here.

So this, in a way, is part of my "desk area."And books look good in any room!


Cue more husband laughter here.

This is, technically, my official desk. It's lovely. It's also been covered in un-filed paper for months. The trouble is that it's in the office, so not readily accessible. Out of sight, out of mind, and out of order! I am actually now sorting through everything that's accumulated. (Part of the nesting! We are expecting our third child at the end of March!)

But it hasn't been working for me in here. Once the paperwork is taken care of and filed for good, I don't plan to use it for everyday paperwork at all. I think I might use it as staging place for my own little projects of a more creative or crafty nature.

My dream is to create a real creative writing space somewhere in the house, but so far I haven't been able to settle on a place that works. At least writing can be fairly portable!


We had some real winter temperatures last week (-22 C). It was enough to form a thin layer of ice over the river, which still a tidal river beside our house.

Winter has treated us fairly well this year! We had some rain the other day (not a fan of rain in February), but there is still some snow left. I am happy when we a have snow cover well into March. Here's hoping!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"School" This Morning: Birdwatching

"School" this morning:

  • Watching the birds at the feeder through the open dining room window (taking turns with the binoculars for a closer view)
  • Discovering the difference between the downy and hairy woodpecker with our Peterson's Birds of Eastern and Central North America
  • During snack, reading aloud from our Handbook of Nature Study: "Lesson 14 The Downy Woodpecker"
    • We learned that the Downy's fourth toe is turned backward as a companion to its thumb, and that the tail props the bird up like a bracket, allowing it to grip the tree. 
    • The beak can be used as a pick or a drill.
    • The Downy grabs the grub with its tongue, which is covered with little hooks.
  • Practicing lower case letters by starting a birdwatching checklist
  • Sending the kids outside for the rest of the morning to observe and play with Mother Nature

I love learning like this. It's natural, connected to nature and our daily lives, and we are discovering things together. I love the freedom we have to stop and watch the birds. I love the opportunity we have for the kids to go outside for as much time as possible. I love that the children are forming relationships with the real world right outside our door.

I hope to continue to create an atmosphere of learning in our home, where we are attentive to opportunities for discovery, where we have both the freedom and resources to explore real life and real ideas, and the disciplined framework upon which to hang moments of wonder. All of life is education. (I am absorbing and still learning from Charlotte Mason!) 

Books in this post:
(I am part of the Amazon Affiliates program. I only link to books we personally use and recommend. If you click through and end up purchasing, a small portion will make its way back to our family. Thank you!) 

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America by Roger Tory Peterson

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Learning About Snow

I have two little "snow scientists" on my hands these days! We've had fun learning all about snow in a variety of ways.

We've read books, made crystals, watched videos on snow (this is where the "snow scientist" idea came from), observed it up close, and, of course, played in it!

Arden made herself a backpack filled with things that snow scientists need - black paper, a magnifying glass, a printout of different snowflake shapes (that I stuck on cardboard and covered with clear tape to waterproof - click here to see what we used), a notebook and a pen, a bottle of water and a snack. She wanted to wear her bike helmet (like the snow cave explorers in the video), but it wouldn't fit over her hat!

These are two of the books we read and enjoyed and learned from:

This one had some beautiful and fascinating up-close photographs of individual snowflakes.
We spent a lot of time just poring over the pictures. 

The true story of the first man ever to photograph a snowflake.


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