Master Bath remodel- The Reveal

When I started painting my bathroom about a month ago, I wanted the remodel to be my next blog post… And then one thing led to another, but at last, it is done!



We we have painted the walls, the cabinets, replaced sinks and faucets, remodeled the countertop, replaced towel bars and curtain rods, and added new floor mars and shower curtain.

Here is what it looked like before:


Doesn’t it look like a spa now? Leave me. Comment and let me know what you think!

German Bread

IMG_0790Over the years, I have been asked countless times “what do you miss the most from home?” Usually, my answer includes “the bread!” (That is amongst other things, such as public transit, side walks, and my family, of course.)
Slowly, but surely, I have figured out a recipe that works and that provides a taste of home. I’ve been asked to share. This recipe makes 2 loaves, but doubles easily. I usually freeze one loaf after it cools. You can also make dinner rolls from this same dough, just add a little more flour. After they are cool, put them in freezer bags. You can pull them out in a pinch for lunch. They’re thaw really quickly! Here it goes:

6 cups of bread flour (or 4 cups of bread flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour)
1 TBS dry yeast
2 and 3/4 cups of luke warm water
1/2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
3 TBS of olive oil
(Optional: flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chopped pecans, or oats as desired for change in taste/ texture)

Step 1: dissolve yeast in water, add sugar, let stand 5 minutes

Step 2: use hook attachment with your stand mixer. Add flour and salt to the bowl.

Step 3: add water/yeast mixture and oil to flour. Combine on low-med speed.

Step 4: once combined, knead on med-hi speed for 5 minutes.

Step 5: remove bowl from mixer. Place plastic wrap over bowl. Let rise in warm place for 1 hr.

After 1 hr:

If dough is still sticky, work in some flour with your hands. You don’t want it super dry, it will make it more crumbly. A little sticky is ok, just as long as it is still workable. Split 2 up between two loaf pans. Mine are coated, so I typically don’t even spray them, but do if you are unsure.

Bake for 1 hr in preheated oven at 375 F.

After you take them out of the oven immediately remove them from the pan. Let cool on cooling racks. Enjoy! It’s sandwiches for dinner at my house today!

Let me know how it goes!

School Room Organization

Yup. It’s true. I’m an organization-junkie. I like it when our things are in order, because, frankly, it makes life easier when I don’t constantly have to hunt for things. But I also like the idea of organization. Yes, pictures in magazines and catalogs of organized “stuff” makes me feel warm and fuzzy! I read blogs and search Pinterest for organization ideas. Yup. That’s me. That’s how I like it. The reality is not quite that… [sigh!]… but I believe this is to keep me reminded that I, in fact, am not in control here!

Fact: Our school day is much smoother when we don’t have to hunt for things.

Fact: Mommy is much calmer when desks are not in a chaotic disarray.

Fact: Independent work only works if you can locate it independently!

Fact: We spend a lot of time in this room, we should all enjoy being there!

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Those are the facts. Here is our reality (from top left clockwise):

This corner houses our reading chair, time line, J’s workbox, cubbies for each subject and one for each boy, and my personal favorite: our new paper organizer!

Big boy’s desk holds the computer. Movable shades can be drawn to prevent glare from the window while doing research and can be opened for natural lighting while working at the desk. The shelf on the wall keeps our microscope and daily supplies.

These are our other two desks. I set them up in an L-shape so that I can see what J is working on or work on things with him. His immediate supplies are in the buckets on the wall, which he labeled himself! The wire above the white board holds current work and time line cards for the week.

Finally, the file cabinet side doubles as our spelling board. It works perfectly for our magnetic tiles and sometimes we spell our messages to each other. Our Latin Noun Declension chart can be hidden by the same sliding curtains as mentioned above during quiz time!

Curriculum Choice 8th Grade

My post on our 3rd grade curriculum options is already a few weeks old and it is about time I post what we are doing with the 8th grader!
When we chose to pull our boys out of school last year, I knew that we needed to stay on task and not fall behind, especially since the plan is to have him back in public HS next year. I knew I needed the support and diligence of a program that would keep us on task. Through my friend Corey, I stumbled upon Classical Conversations and their Challenge program. Challenge is a program for 7-12th graders that meets once a week for 6 seminars. At their weekly meeting, students have opportunities to discuss, present, learn, and challenge each other. All 6 seminars are facilitated by the same tutor. The seminars have fancy names like Rhetoric, Debate, and Logic, but what this means for Challenge B is that P will have Literature and Writing, Math, Formal Logic, Science, Latin, and Current Events. We have also added German to the mix.

Literature and Writing:
The spine of this seminar is “The Lost Tools of Writing.” LTW is a systematic program that teaches students how to overcome the three major struggles of writing. (I could go on and on about LTW, but that can be a separate post altogether. There is simply too much to say about this program.)
For the first semester, we will read “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom, “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls, “Little Britches” by Ralph Moody, and “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster . Students will discuss themes from these books and write persuasive essays guided by LTW. This is a continuation of Challenge A.
In the second semester they will switch gears and move on to short stories. They will read a collection of short stories compiled by Classical Conversations in a book called “Words Aptly Spoken: Short Stories.” They will also write their own short story.

This entails our biggest change from last year. We have shifted gears and chosen a new curriculum. We are deviating from CC’s recommended program and have started with Singapore Math. I used SM with our younger one last year and he really liked it. I researched the upper level curriculum and felt like it would be a better fit for P. We are using New Elementary Mathematics 2 Syllabus D. The downside for me is that lessons are not clearly laid out for us, which makes Math more hands on for me this year. But since I really enjoy Math, this is a welcome challenge. This particular curriculum is relatively new and encompasses Common Core Standards, which gives me the peace of mind knowing my child can easily transition to public school next year. (This is NOT an endorsement of Common Core, but a topic I have to consider given further schooling plans.)

Formal Logic:

 Introductory Logic, 5th Edition and Intermediate Logic, 5th Edition by Jim Nance.

No formal textbook here! I love how CC utilizes individual research and student presentations to learn about science. For the first semester, students will be researching different scientists, their contributions, etc and present their research weekly. There will also be a science fair project. For Spring semester, they will be reading “Defeating Darwinism” by Phillip Johnson, followed by a 5 week overview of chemistry, including the periodic table and atomic models.

For Latin we are using Henle Latin. This is no change from last year. In fact, we are starting over at the beginning to solidify knowledge and really memorize declensions and vocabulary. I have also discovered a booklet published by Memoria Press that accompanies Henle very nicely. Daily lessons, exercises, and drills are already laid out, making planning a breeze and keeping the boy on task!

Current Events:
Much like science, there is also no textbook. Again, individual research and weekly presentations are utilized for learning. My husband is a news junkie and very excited about this seminar!

P speaks the language beautifully and has expressed interest in learning how to read and write it. We are using a combination of different grammar books, and are also reading books together. My plan is to have him translate sections periodically, and also write letters. Again, this is pretty hands-on for me, but well worth it. My knowledge of German grammar is limited, so I’m taking this opportunity to learn it better. As I am trying to systematically break it down for the boys, I am in the process of developing worksheets and instructions. Stay tuned!!!

DIY Tri-Fold Board and Memory Work Board

As I’m getting ready for our CC year, I’m finding a bunch if great ideas. This one is great for your Memory Work Board!

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As a tutor for Classical Conversations I prepare a white board with all of the new memory work on it each week. Carrying in a large white board every week (while trying to make sure that the information does not get wiped off!) was always a bit of a struggle. So this year, after coming across this tutorial, I decided to make my own dry erase tri-fold board. However, after I made it and wrote out the first week of memory work, classroom schedule, and presentation name schedule, I realized that it would be nice to have it be a bit larger. So, my engineer husband came to the rescue! What we ended up doing was adding on two additional “wings” that were each 1’x3’ just like the first wings that I had already attached. So now, instead of having a 4’x3’ board, I have a 6’x3’ board! Here…

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Getting out of the “rut”

Our week started out with both my husband and I in a funky mood and feelings of being “stuck in a rut.” When he voiced his feelings to me on Tuesday, I was near tears, as I felt the same way. After a good night at work and a good nap on Wednesday, I woke up rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world.
We were supposed to go to the pool that afternoon, but the baby decided he wanted to take a late nap. My middle son was pretty disappointed, but then I remembered the “rut”! I suggested an early dinner, which he helped me make, and going to the pool afterwards until closing time. “Can Daddy come?” was the response. Absolutely, I thought, and what better way to sneak in a dinner date than to have the kids play in the water, while we eat.
As we were enjoying our scrumptious taco salad pool side, I asked my husband if he still felt in a rut. “Nope, this is just what we needed, honey!”
Voila! Rut broken out of, moods improved, everybody happy!

Curriculum Choices- 3rd Grade

It is unreal how quickly summer is flying by… Temperature-wise it will be summer for quite a while longer here in Georgia, but nonetheless school starts back in 3 more weeks. I will have a 3rd grader and and 8th grader (and an infant as my TA). We chose much of the same curriculum as last year, making only minor adjustments.

Singapore Math Standard Edition 3A and 3B
We switched to Singapore our second month into homeschooling last year and have not looked back. J likes the colorful book and enjoys these workbooks so much better than our previous choice. I like how the teacher manual is organized and the multi-faceted approach to teaching concepts. After all, each child learns differently and Singapore does a fine job at offering several approaches to every concept.

Language Arts:
We chose Rod and Staff’s Beginning Wisely series. This year I went ahead and purchased the worksheets. Hopefully, this will help J stay focused a little better, instead of copying everything into his notebook. Yes, I understand that copywork is important at this age, and we will do plenty of it, but I cannot have him get bogged down with frustration at the writing part, as it takes his focus away from the topic at hand.

We are also using Rod and Staff Bible readers again. I didn’t purchase the 3rd grade work books this year, as we still have 2 units from last year to finish, but the readers are so good. He enjoys reading them as much as I like listening to him!

The goal is to plow through Levels 3 and 4 in All About Spelling. Spelling actually was a lot more fun last year than I thought it would be. Jonah enjoyed spelling many new words and learning many spelling rules utilizing magnetic letter tiles. Check out the demo video at You will see an official review on this program from me in the future!

History Prescripts from Classical Conversations (more on CC below).

History, Science, Geography, Music, and Art:

Classical Conversations (CC) is the spine of most of our learning. Last year I began the school year with a History curriculum and a  Science curriculum and quickly realized that I had simply bitten off too much to chew. This year we will continue what worked so well for us the second half of the school year: utilizing the weekly memory work from CC as a jumping off point for deeper learning. The history focus this year in CC’s cycle 3 is US history and US Geography is covered for the Geo part of our memory work. We will use the weekly memory sentence for our handwriting practice (see Prescripts) and utilize our Kingfisher History Encyclopedia to explore further. This enables J to spend more time on those topics that interest him more, and only the minimum on topics that are not of particular interest. The idea is that we will cycle through all of the info again in three years- after all, we are learning classically and subject mastery is the goal! We also supplement with Story of the World, by Susan Wise Bauer. J loves both the books  and the audio version.

Science works in much the same way. We also utilize the Kingfisher Encyclopedia here. Since the focus of Cycle 3 is Anatomy, I am able to use the fantastic curriculum I purchased last year as a supplementation. I absolutely adore the Apologia Press science books and student notebooks. I am excited that we get to use them more this year!

And FINALLY- last but definitely not LEAST…


I purchased a wonderful curriculum in Germany called Das Neue Deutschmobil, which is used in schools there for children, whose native language is not German, much like ESL is here. J will be forced to learn my native tongue… it is no longer and option. I am, after all, a German in Georgia!

The Question -1- Reading

imageReading is the number 1 most important tool to life-long learning. How do you approach reading with your child? How do you discuss books with you child that you have not read yourself? How do you encourage your child to read a variety of books?
In light of our upcoming school year, I am currently reading The Question by Leigh Bortins. This book specifically addresses how to school classically through the dialectic stage of learning. For me this is particularly interesting, since we have not taught our children classically in the past (that is before last year, anyway) and I have a 13 year-old, who fits perfectly into the dialectic stage.
We are part of our local Classical Conversations group and my soon-to-be eighth grader will be in Challenge B next school year. (I could go on and on about CC and our experience with Challenge A last year, but there are others out there, who have done a phenomenal job, so I will leave you to explore Mary’s blog at, or visit Amy at,  or for more CC inspiration go to check out Brandy’s blog at I will post more on our first year with Foundations and Challenge in the future, but for now indulge me as I share about “The Question.”
*** I have struggled with these questions, and many more, over the past couple of years, as my child seems to be reading the same books over, and over, and over. I have discussed said topics with people that I consider WAY smarter than myself and have received a variety of answers and suggestions. My fear, however, of ruining reading for my child by imposing too many “rules” has not been decimated.
I feel empowered and encouraged by Leigh! I don’t (surprise, surprise!) have to read every book my kiddo reads, in order to ask him good questions about it. The beauty of the dialectic stage of learning is that children learn by teaching or explaining things back to you. What better way to find out about what he’s reading!
Here are a few simple guidelines:
– Ask “Who? What? How? What? (who is the story about, what happens, how is the issue solved, what happens next…etc)
– It is helpful to have children own their own books, so they can highlight, circle, bookmark, etc. (Note: mine cannot STAND to mark up his books, so I try to encourage him to use little stickies.)
– An important framework to asking good questions is through the 5 Common Topics of Definition, Comparisson, Relationship, Circumstance, and Testimony. These topics lend and array of questions you can ask your dialectic child (ex: 1) What is history?- Definition 2) How is history similar to/different from geography?- Comparison  3) Did slavery cause the Civil War? – Relationship (aka cause and effect)   4) What else was going on when…? – Circumstance   5)Where did we receive this information from? -Testimony)

Finally, Leigh points out that it is totally acceptable for children to read good fiction and for them to read good books over and over. She states that “good literature investigates the experiences that are commmon to mankind and allows readers to consider the answers to our deepest questions.” In short, good literature, even ficiton, help children make sense of the world by living vicariously through their favorite protagonists.

So the next time I see P reading the same book AGAIN, I will remind myself that he is exploring ancient Greece through the eyes of Percy Jackson!

What is your child reading? How do you approach literature with your children? I would love to hear from you!


Creative Juices flowing

I have had many plans for Little Bit’s room.

This past week I completed them- FINALLY! (he’s only 7 months old…it’s about TIME)

Originally, I sewed his curtain, crib bumper pad, and crib skirt. These I actually finished before he was born.


My mother-in-law made him the precious quilt to match.


The bigger boys actually helped with the appliqué on these throw pillows.


My plans had revolved around utilizing the main main colors of his bedding (teal, red, yellow, orange) around the room. In April I finally got around to painting his changing table. I love the combo of teal and the orange on the changing pad.


In May I managed to have a little time to paint his crib. Isn’t the butter cream yellow delicious looking? I like the combo with the red sheet and the bed skirt and bumper pad kind of pull it all together.


Finally, last week I finished the paintings I had so desired for his walls. I pulled a few elements from his bedding (which, btw, is called “Boy Crazy”) and painted them on old cabinet doors. Don’t you just love the friendly little robot?


I also painted and distressed his book shelf and a step stool to complete the room.


The rocking chair would look good in red, but Pop had refinished it for boy #1 when he was a baby and there is no touching it with paint….

so I at least made a cushion to match!


Landesgartenschau Schwäbisch Gmünd

We took many field trips while in Germany last month. Here is one that I would like to share with you. My words won’t do it justice, so I will post a few pictures.

Every couple of years, a particular city in our home Bundesland (kind of like a state) of Baden-Wuertemberg, gets to host what is called “Landesgartenschau.” This is a garden, flower and plant expo, that utilizes big parts of the city, including structures, city parks, surrounding forests, you get the picture. It is quite a production and the vast variety of plants and flowers is absolutely amazing:


This tower was at the top entrance of the expo. It was built specifically for this event and each of the nearly 200 steps was sponsored by a particular business or family. We were able to get a general grasp of the layout and decide from there what we wanted to see up close!


This was taken from the tower. It is to give you an idea of how creatively the flowers and flower beds were arranged!

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Aren’t these stunning? I wish it wasn’t quite so hot in Georgia to allow for some summer gardening, but also to be able to grow some of these species here!

What was also really cool, is how the kids were engaged along the way. There was an enormous water play ground, with wooden floats, sprinklers, sand, gravel, you name it. We had a terrific lunch picnic while J was busy playing.

There was also a marble track that ran through the forest. This was brilliant! The walk down into the city was about 1.2 miles or so and to keep the kids moving, they had built a marble track that ran along most of the path. Both J and P were entertained and I never heard one of them complain about walking!

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At the end of our walk, we arrived at the Limes. Did you know the Roman empire expanded all the way into Germany? The Limes is the approximate line of how far into Germany they penetrated. Periodically, you can find remnants:


Once in town, we went into an exposition hall. While the whole expo runs for several months, through October, the expo hall features weekly displays of cut flower arrangement. We were privileged to see a rose exposition.


This was my favorite display. Doesn’t it just look yummy?

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Here is the website to the event if you are interested and want to find out more: