'what's up weekly.'

It's Friday again, party people.  Which obviously means it's time to party.  Which obviously means it's time for What's Up Weekly.

Last weekend was full of fun, in both the conventional sense, and the unconventional sense, of the word.  We spent time at the cemetery, which was fun in an unconventional way.  Then on Saturday afternoon, Todd wanted to take the kids to BaconFest, but they got over there right as everything was closing down, so he took them to the grocery store instead to get them free cookies.  No skin off their noses.

Todd preached on Sunday, and we also spent time celebrating Father's Day, which were both fun in a more traditional way.  The kids had all made or purchased gifts for Todd, and were chomping at the bit to give them to him.

Laurelai bought him socks and Sour Patch Kids.

Finneas gave him a board book that we'd gotten him for his birthday, an empty nail box full of chicken feathers he found at the Amish, and a paper puppet he made named Baldy.

Penelope gave him a jar full of ants, although she had caught the ants the previous Tuesday, so by the time they made it into Todd's hands, it was basically a mass grave in a jar.

Atticus made him a book about World War II.

'We all' bought him a Chemex and some nice coffee, and signed a greeting card about having cholera.

After giving gifts and taking naps, the kids were pretty strung out by Sunday evening.

On Monday, Atticus came down with a mystery bug and spent 48 hours with horrible migraine, trying to sleep off his headache and nausea/vomiting.  Penelope also came down with it later in the week.  I swear, I thought cold-and-flu season was in the winter, but apparently I'm wrong, because once Spring hits around here, it seems like we just can't catch a break.

Rocco also started potty training on Monday, and was a total champ.  He had one accident about fifteen minutes into the day, and another one in the evening.  Other than that, he has completely mastered the skill of using the toilet on his own.  He recognizes when he needs to use the bathroom, heads in there, takes his own shorts off, climbs onto the potty by himself, and does his thing, including going poop.

We even spent about three hours up at the Amish on Wednesday morning, and another two hours out running errands Wednesday afternoon, and he didn't have an accident.  He said he had to go pee while we were at Speech, but when he saw the public toilet, he thought twice about it and refused to go.  So I told him he'd have to hold it until we got home, and he did!  As soon as we walked in the door at home, he headed straight for the bathroom.  Color me thoroughly impressed.  I have never had a kid train this easily before.

When I put his first pair of undies on him, he went to find Finneas right away.  "You weerin' undies, and MINE weerin' undies!"

Other than that, the kids have spent a lot of time bonding this week, which has been adorable.

Callista is working on weaning.  (Orrrr, I'm working on weaning her, while trying not to get caught by her.  Sneaky antics.)  I'm ready to be done, and as she turns a year old in just a few days (WHAT?!??!), I figured I can move her to table foods in clean conscience.  So she's been eating most meals with us, and has even begun to tolerate cold cow's milk from a sippy cup.  (I tried goat milk, but she was having none of it.)

In other Callista Milestone news, she got a bath.  I rarely full-on bathe her because she's never all that dirty, and it's better for her skin to not give too many baths.  But it was time.  And she was not thrilled.

As you may have noticed in the picture above, some changes have been happening in Callista's room.  I still have a little ways to go (a few more plants, a painting hung above her crib, some new knobs for her dresser), it is so much cozier in there already.  It's so funny - the kids even feel the difference.  While I would almost never find anyone playing in her room before, now that I'm starting to decorate, I'm constantly finding them in there reading, playing or just hanging out.  Making a house prettier is good for everyone's souls.

And to wrap everything up, Todd joined me for a video this week over on YouTube!

***Yes, I know I was hopeful that I'd get the file for the Potty Training Your Toddler ebook ready for download by today, but it turns out that was kind of an overly ambitious goal to set.  It's as though I've never done this before.  But, hope springs eternal, and I'll see if I can get it finished over the weekend!

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

how to train your dragon. i mean, toddler. (i'm writing a book!)

Well, Rocco has, surprisingly, ended up being my easiest kid to potty train, and at the risk of jinxing myself, I would like to hereby declare him trained.  It took him less than twelve hours.  Go, Brother!  I'll tell you more about it all tomorrow.

While this timeframe is NOT typical, I will say that there is a formula that I've used with all my kids that seems to be a winner, as measured by the fact that I don't usually find myself cleaning up urine throughout a normal day, even though five of my kids are now in underwear, so that's good.  I figured I'd share with you what has worked for us!

But the thing is, I sat down to write it all out in a detailed blog post, and it was long.  I mean, like, looooong.  And I realized that not every single person who reads this blog would want 1500 words on how to convince another human being to use a toilet, and the ones who did want to read that much on the topic probably didn't want it all in one huuuuuuuuuge, way-too-long post.  So, at 11:05 last night, I decided to write it as an ebook.

This is kind of momentous for me, for a couple reasons.  One, and most obviously, I've never written an ebook, and it feels so official, even though it's basically just writing a long blog post and then formatting it to look nicer.  Two, I've only ever read one ebook in my whole life.  But that was actually just a digital copy of a real book that I read on my Kindle.  Is that the same thing?  I clearly am not '21st-century' enough to be trying this, and yet, here I am.  And three, I will now be able to say that I literally wrote the book on potty training.  If that doesn't make me an authority in my field, I don't know what will. #breakingtheglassceiling

Obviously, since it just kind of happened last-minute, it's not quite ready to post for today.  I'll be doing my darnedest to have it ready by tomorrow, so I'll hopefully have a link to the free download available on tomorrow's What's Up Weekly post for anyone who's interested!  At that point, it would be appropriate to congratulate me on being a published author or whatever, but I'm not telling you how to live your life.

introducing: penelope.

Meet Penelope.

If you don't know her personally yet, you are missing out.  She is incredible.  I'm afraid I won't even be able to describe her adequately.

She is soft and compassionate.  She is tender-hearted towards people and animals.  She looks for ways to serve and care for others, and is especially good with babies.  She mostly spends her allowance on gifts for other people, and is a truly epic gift-giver.  She often spends her days making things to show her siblings how much she cares for them.  She delights in surprising the other kids by occasionally doing their chores for them, or making them a lunch she knows they'll like.

But she is also strong.  She is passionate and driven, and self-controlled.  She is a truth-speaker, and confessional about her own sin.  She is hungry for growth, and so incredibly wise.  I am just in awe of her maturity and depth, and she is an example for me in my own walk with Christ.

She is my right hand around the house.  I honestly don't know what I'd do without her.  She is quick to help me, and quick to cheer me up if I'm in a funk.  She is an absolute joy to be around - she's so witty and affectionate and intelligent.  She is responsible without resentment - she is so eager to help in whatever ways she can.

One thing I love about Penelope is that she's endlessly interested.  She's curious about, and engaged with, the world around her.  Her mind is almost superhuman in what it can comprehend, remember and form connections with.

She has big dreams for herself when she grows up: while she has so many different creative interests that I'm absolutely positive she'll pursue to excellence (cooking and baking, writing, playing and composing music, singing, dancing), the goal she talks most often about is farming.  She would love to operate an organic, humane, diversified farm, and sell the products she raises.  (At a discount for veterans, of course.)  She wants to marry someone who's also passionate about farming, and have a large family.

She brings so much joy, creativity, fun and curiosity into our lives.

My prayer for her is that she will continue to understand grace more and more deeply.  She is so incredibly hard on herself sometimes, and I pray she will always find comfort in Jesus' declaration that "It is finished."  She is enough - as she is, where she is - because she is wrapped up in and covered by the righteousness of Christ.  I pray she would be quick to believe God when he defines her identity.  I pray she would have the courage to stay both soft and strong as she grows.  I pray that I would never forget to tell her how much I respect her and take pride in her, and that she will find a husband who cherishes her and puts his full trust in her.  I pray she will be able to have all the kids she wants, and that I'd get the honor of watching her be a mother someday.

Penen, you are a gift.  You are so valuable and unique and precious to us.  What a bright spot you have been in our lives!

visiting the cemetery, and thoughts on leaving a legacy.

There's an historic cemetery right down the road from the building where we hold church, and for a while now, Todd has been wanting to go check it out.  (Because he knows how to party, if that's not obvious.)  So on Saturday, we chucked the kids in the car and drove over there.

It was small and beautiful, and so old.  One stone marked the grave of someone born in 1700.

The history geek in me was hopped up on a contact high.  (The 'mother of preschoolers' in me was popping homeopathic anxiety tablets while I tried to keep the running, shouting, climbing and other various attempts at grave desecration to a minimum.)  It was so amazing to think about all of the life that cemetery held - parents, children, husbands, wives.  Every single grave marked a story.

It was a family cemetery, and it was small, and there were so many infants and toddlers commemorated.  It was sobering to think about how much pain a single extended family experienced.  There was one tombstone marking the grave of a seventeen-year-old, who was remembered as 'a clever and talented youth.'  That struck me - if you had to sum up your young adult child's life in a brief sentence, what could you even say?  It seemed so affectionate in its brevity.

It seems like a weird place to take kids, I know.  But, as Christians, we actually talk about death pretty often with our kids.  Not in a morbid, sinister kind of way, but in a way that is absolutely necessary and foundational to our faith.  Jesus died.  We will die, too.  Our sins warrant eternal, never-ending death, but Christ in his goodness died so that we can live.  In Christ, we die every day to ourselves, and we identify with him in both his crucifixion and his resurrection.  Though we die with him, we'll be raised with him.

No, it's not the most pleasant thing we discuss, but in Christ, death loses its sting.  It's the final enemy, and Christ has conquered it already, so we don't need to be afraid of it.  So while it's not something we talk about constantly, it's far from a taboo topic at our house.  So the trip to the cemetery was a really great opportunity to talk to the kids about how we all have only one life to live, and how our days matter because we aren't given an endless supply.  We talked a lot about Ecclesiastes, in the spirit of chapter 7, verse 2: "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart."

The next day, Todd preached at Anthem - "coincidentally," over Psalm 127 and Christian legacy: how we ought to think about the time we've been given, and how we ought to use it.  It was a really, really powerful message - you should take a listen!

and so it begins. (potty training a toddler.)

I'm undertaking something ambitious this week:

It's time to potty train Rocco.

Oh, yes, my friends.  It's that time.  Actually, I think it was that time about three months ago, but we have been so stinking busy with everything that I just haven't had a week to set aside to actually train him, so I've made him wait.  I know.  Terrible parenting.

I always equally look forward to and dread this stage.  It is always so worth the work, but man, is it work.  It doesn't matter how ready they are.  It doesn't matter how prepared you feel.  There is always a moment during the week where you break down in tears and pray for the rapture to come and take the kid straight to heaven.  (Sadly, you will be left down below, because if anything can get you right to the edge of losing your salvation, it's potty training a toddler.  But at least you'll be down here with nothing left on the day's agenda and a sparkling, urine-free floor.)

I'm planning on posting about how to actually go about potty training a child, but every single time I have my feet on the starting blocks with the up-and-coming trainer, I panic that I really don't remember how this works.  So I'll get a few days under my belt with Rocco this week before spouting off advice.

But I will say this: before jumping in with any of the kids, I take them to Walmart to pick out their choice of new undies.  Rocco picked out Paw Patrol.

We spent all last evening talking about how he's going to get to wear big boy undies like his brothers, and stressing how much the puppies don't like to get pee on them.  "Do we put our pee on the puppies?  No.  The puppies think that's gross.  Where do we put our pee?  That's right! In the potty!"  Etc. etc.

We'll see how convincing that all was as the day progresses.  I'll keep you posted.

what's up weekly.

This week was yet another fun one!  LONG LIVE SUMMERRRRRRRRR!

Last Friday, I took the kids to get frozen custard at this adorable, kitschy little place in town to celebrate the last day of The Week of Unmatched Fun.  I was so proud of myself, getting the kids there on my own, not freaking out when they spilled ice cream all over their clean clothes, keeping eyes on everyone by myself, all while taking adorable pictures.  I even remember explicitly thinking, "These photos are going to be so good!"  I should have known - I should have just assumed - that I forgot to put the memory card IN the camera.  So, no photos of Friday, because I'm a giant dolt.

On Saturday, Todd and I made a spontaneous decision to take the kids to The Big Tree.  We're not usually spur-of-the-moment decision makers, but we've become more and more flexible as we've had more kids, and as they've gotten older.  When they were all little, we almost never left the house if we didn't have to - it was too. much. work.  It was so very hard.  But now things are getting easier, and we're able to just load the kids up quick and go for an impulsive drive out of town.

The Big Tree is estimated to be 350 years old, and is absolutely massive.  It has weathered age and multiple lightning strikes, as well as the vandalism of countless irreverent hoodlums.  It absolutely garnered our respect and awe, and we were privileged to get to marvel at it for a while on Saturday morning.

Can you see us under there?

Penelope found a caterpillar, which she loved and named Fuzzy, and which freaked Rocco out beyond all reasonable comprehension.

On the way home, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand, where I met a guy who not only hailed from the tinyyyyyy town in Iowa where my grandparents are from (population: 950), but actually knew them well.  His father-in-law performed my uncle's funeral, and my grandparents babysat his kids.  I am always amazed at how many Iowa connections there are down here, but this was by far the closest connection I've come across.

After getting home, I took the girls out for some mani/pedi fun time.  I had promised Penelope if she'd stop biting her nails, I'd take her to get them painted.  Well, then Laurelai wanted to go.  And instead of just fingernails, why not do toenails, too?  It ended up being a whole thing.  But I'm glad it did, because it was so fun!

Monday, we jumped back into a normal week of school.  This has been such a good routine for us - during school weeks, I don't hear nearly as many complaints of boredom, and Laurelai lays down for naps in the afternoon, which are both wins.  But on break weeks, I don't hear complaints about having to do school, and Laurelai gets to stay up to play with the big kids, which are also wins, so it's nice getting to alternate.

On Wednesday, we headed up to the Amish like usual.  Unlike usual, I was on assignment from a friend to find some laying chickens.  When I found a great, but urgent, deal on some, I somehow found myself with a cardboard box full of live chickens on my front seat for the entire van ride home.  The box had a lid (thank goodness) but it also had large air holes in the side (also thank goodness) and every so often, a chicken would stick its head out of a hole and give me the stankiest stank eye you can fathom.  I think, because they were Amish chickens, they were judging me for wearing a tank top and driving them away in a rubber-tired Devil's Wagon.  I was mostly glad to hand them over to my friend when we got back to town, but the kids did beg to keep one... and if we'd had a place to keep it, I might have caved.  Luckily, we still have the turtle to fill the pet-shaped hole in our family.

We also ended up with a bunch of peas, so I set the kids to shelling them while I made dinner.  I'm currently reading a book that stresses the importance of keeping your kids close to you more often throughout the day, and I've really been noodling on whether I actually need as much personal space as I think I do, or that I'm told I'm entitled to claim.  It was nice having them near but occupied, and even Rocco was a stunningly proficient sheller.

Other than that, this has been a pretty normal week.  We have big plans to attend BaconFest this weekend, so look forward to that review next week.  What are your big plans for the weekend?

my recipe for crock-o's. ("crockpot tacos," for those of you don't do bad puns.)

Prepare yourself for some terrible food photos - my specialty!

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: I hate slow cooker meals.  I just really can't support them.  No one ever eats a slow cooker meal and thinks, "If I had time to cook a real meal, this is exactly what I would hope it would come out tasting like."  No.  They think, "At least I didn't have to take the time to actually cook a real meal."

Everything that goes into a slow cooker comes out tasting like "White + Seasonings."  Chicken enchiladas just taste like "white stuff + green chilis."  Soup comes out tasting like "white stuff + mushy chunks of vegetables (or is that meat?)."  Sad. Sad. Sad.

I know there are a lot of die-hard fans of the slow cooker out there, most of whom fall into one of two camps: Camp "It Makes Chicken Tender" (to whom I say, pound it and marinate it and cook it any other way, and your problem is solved), and Camp "At Least It's Fast"... to whom I say, I HEAR YOU.

Because, yes.  There are days when my top priority is that a meal is fast, hands-off, and ready and waiting for me when I get home.  While I still cannot get behind a full-on Crockpot meal, I definitely do appreciate using it when I need to; namely, on Wednesdays.

Wednesday is our busiest day of the week.  We're gone all morning on our trip to the Amish, we do school in the afternoon, Atticus has a standing speech therapy appointment at 4:00, and we often stop at the library afterward.  We're typically home around 5:30, just minutes before Todd walks in the door from work.  I just don't have the energy to only begin meal prep at that point, so I like having easy-to-prepare meals about ready to serve once I get home.

Last night it was Crock-o's - tacos made with the help of the Crockpot.  I love this meal because it's super easy, and the kids love it.  Also, I love this meal because my current favorite jokes involve  rhyming Rocco, Crock-O's, tacos, Chacos, etc., so taco night is a good opportunity to flex my Jokes muscles.  I promise I have other redeeming Best Friend qualities if you'd be willing to overlook how much time I invest in thinking of Rocco/Taco jokes.

It is definitely not the cheapest meal I serve (it costs around $15 to feed a family our size, and I usually like to keep it below $10 per supper), but everything costs something.  With those extra dollars I spend, I'm buying myself some sweet, sweet time.

I thought it would be a good idea to give you a really close look at some refried beans.  Because when is that not a good idea?

So, the basic concept is this:  Throw a couple pounds of ground beef or ground turkey in the Crockpot with about a half a cup of water or broth.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours, drain, and season with a couple of packets of taco seasonings and a little bit of water or broth.  Dinner cooked!

All of the fixings for tacos can be purchased ready-made, while still being relatively whole foods-based.

Shredded lettuce
Shredded cheese
Guacamole (from the fridge case or quickly thrown together)
Refried beans
Sour cream
Tortillas and tortilla chips

Speaking of how much I disdain white meals... I present you with this mostly monochromatic food photo.  I roll the kids' tacos into more of a burrito because it keeps the mess down, and also I like to defy expectations.  Also, how sad does that lettuce look?

The other bonus is that the only dishes I get dirty in meal prep/serving are the Crockpot bowl and some spoons for the salsa and sour cream.  Easy prep, easy clean up.  It's almost enough incentive to get me to rethink my haughty ways.  Maybe I can one day hope to expand my slow cooker horizons, get down off my high horse, and find some more simple ways to incorporate the lowly slow cooker.  Maybe.

postpartum weight loss: how I (finally) lost all the baby weight.

If you missed it (in which case I would encourage you to subscribe to The Minivan Voorsts YouTube channel!), here's yesterday's vlog on how I've reached my postpartum weight loss goal.  Spoiler: it's not a magic pill.  But it's also not torture.  It's somewhere on the spectrum between a magic pill and torture, closer to the 'magic pill' end.  So that's a positive, for sure.

Second spoiler: it's Trim Healthy Mama.  I bet you already guessed that, though, huh?  Because the BUZZ IS REAL, Y'ALL.  All those moms ain't lyin'.  It works.

Go here to hear how it works, and how it's worked for me.

introducing: atticus.

Okay, if you've been reading for any length of time, Atticus is not a new face around here.  But I thought I'd take a quick minute to highlight each kiddo individually, and I thought I'd start with Atticus because, well, it kind of all starts with Atticus.  This blog itself started as an announcement when we were first expecting him!

So, without further ado, here's the man of the hour:

To answer a commonly-asked question, yes, he is named after Atticus Finch.  In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is compassionate, wise, humble, respectable and just.  He is committed to doing the right thing, even at the risk of great cost to himself.  He was also seen as a great father in the eyes of his daughter, and the name Atticus has come to mean 'father-like,' by definition.  We wanted all those things for our son, and he is absolutely carrying his name well.

He is nine-and-a-half, going on twenty-five.  But that's always been the case.  I remember him at eighteen months, taking so much joy in just lining up and organizing his toys.  He is methodical and thoughtful and a stickler for the RIGHT way of doing things.  He is the kind of kid that, if unsure whether something is allowed or not, he automatically assumes it's not, and he doesn't try it.  He is not a rebel, but is very committed to the concept of authority - both in wielding it, and submitting to it.

He loves justice and order, and has talked passionately for the past four or five years about one day joining the service.  He is often found walking around sporting helmets and gear, and pretending to fight off the Nazis.  He is deeply interested in, and knowledgeable about, both world wars, but especially WWII.

For as 'black and white' as he can be, he is also so tender-hearted, compassionate and artistic.  His mind is incredible.  Often, if he's processing through something emotionally or mentally, he likes to draw it on paper.  It's like his hands just need to graphically organize and illustrate his thoughts.  He is an internal processor, so he doesn't like a whole lot of talking when he's wrestling with his thoughts, and he's an introvert.  When he's feeling overwhelmed, he likes to retreat to a quiet place for a while.  He often keeps things to himself, but when the floodgates open, he's able to communicate on a deep, introspective level.

He loves babies, and talks often about how excited he is to be a husband and father someday.

He is thoughtful and servant-hearted around the house, frequently looking for opportunities to help his siblings with their chores, or help me with my work load.  Of all my kids, he's the most likely to come up to me unprompted and give me a big hug and a quiet, "I love you, Mom."

For Atticus, my biggest prayer is that he would be brave enough to do the things God calls him to.  I pray he would be both a great man, and a good man.  I pray I would be a brave enough mom to let him be brave - to not fight against his pursuit of his calling because of my own fears.  I pray he would find a wife who adores all his amazing qualities, and trusts his integrity and leadership.  And I pray he will get to be a dad to lots of kiddos, and that he would train them up well in the knowledge and instruction of the Lord.

That's my Atticus.  My strong, quiet, intelligent, integrous, sweet, creative Atticus.

tour our homeschool!

As we wrap up the school year, I thought I'd show you how we have settled into this school space so far.  It has been a gradual process, and it is continuing to evolve even now.  It is so weird for me to think about the fact that we have officially done more schoolwork here, in this house, than we did in Cedar Falls.

When I think about homeschooling the kids, I still have the strongest associations with our Cedar Falls house - watching Penelope wiggle around in the kitchen nook while doing her math, or Atticus working on handwriting at the dining room table, or Penelope hanging upside down in one of the arm chairs while she recited her narrations in the afternoon.  I still think of snuggling up on our sunny couch, on the end near the piano, to read books together and listen to our folk songs on the laptop.  It was the first place we jumped into our homeschooling adventure, and I miss it.

See?  Wasn't it cute?

See? Weren't they even cuter?

I have worked hard to try to make our current space as cozy and functional as that first space.  We still have a ways to go, but we're getting there.  One of the things I love at the moment is that we're finally getting some good use out of our beautiful piano - we've been carting it from house to house with us over the course of our many moves, but it hasn't been until moving here that the kids have actually started learning to play it.  I've also really liked the way our attached garage has become a flex-space for us, housing the kids' woodworking supplies, and providing an 'in-between' activity area between outside and inside.

Without further ado, I give you our homeschool:

All of our schooling happens in our main living area, which is not huge.  I like having our school things tucked away, rather than taking over all the visual space.  Formal school activities are only one part of our lives; I don't want it to look like that's all our lives orient around.  I want our living space to look like we live and learn here.

If you've been paying attention to my subtle (and not-so-subtle) announcements on the blog lately, you'll notice these photos were taken a few weeks ago.  Spot the changes that haven't been made yet in these photos?

We start our school mornings in the dining room with 'table work'.  The kids get out their binders, which contain all of their reading assignments, handwriting papers, and math worksheets.  They also get out their piano lesson binders, and take turns at the piano during this time.

If they need to grab manipulatives to help them with their math at this time, they just grab this basket off the shelf in the living room.

In the afternoon, Finneas joins the big kids for read-alouds while the littler ones are napping, and we all snuggle in the living room while we dive into the stories.  Often, everyone will sprawl on the floor and draw while I read.  (After each reading, I pick one kid to narrate back to me what they heard, so they have to make sure they're still paying attention while they draw!  So far, the fear of being called on and not knowing what to say has been enough motivation to listen; I haven't needed to craft a dunce hat yet.  Which is good, because I'm not crafty, and it would probably just turn out looking like a party hat anyway, which just seems counterproductive.)

All of our school materials are kept close at hand on this book shelf.

That's really all we need for any given homeschool day.  Obviously, there are special days that require extras like art supplies, which I keep in a cupboard in the garage.  I also have 'teacher-y' materials that I need to keep track of, so I keep them tucked away in little corners around our living space.

There's a china cupboard in our dining room that houses most of our 'random' office supplies and equipment.  Also, a stereo that hails from the eighteenth dynasty.  (It's so old, it doesn't even plug into the wall; it just contains a family band of rats who have been trained to play primitive instruments whenever I push the 'power' button.)

As for my planner, record books, and other quick-grab items I need throughout the day, I keep them on this ancient high chair I bought for $5 at a garage sale.  He's like the permanent butler at the door of my kitchen, standing at the ready with any items I may find urgently necessary.  Poor little guy; I suspect he doesn't feel like he is living up to his potential.

And that is our homeschool area as it currently stands!  (Or, at least, how it stood a few weeks ago before we got a new basement door and I hung some curtains and wall d├ęcor.)  I'm hoping to someday build some bookshelves for the back wall, replace the side chairs with benches, perhaps get a pretty wall map, and switch out the Black Hollow Core Door That The Underworld Rejected for something less vacuous.  If you squint really hard, can you envision it?

In case you missed it: for a video tour of our space (including an extra glimpse into our flex-use garage, and my supply storage), click here!