The Young Family Farm »

Masthead header

Another BIG change for our family!!! {so excited about our year ahead}

AS IF our family isn’t already making crazy changes in our lives year after year after year–we have yet another one ahead! At the beginning of every year, my husband and I sit down and have a little “state of the family address”. We share things on our hearts for our children. Review the past teacher conferences…discuss how we see their hearts being shaped and growing…talk about different influences and what we feel they may need more or less of. Being a former teacher, I evaluate and explain their progress. Talking about these things throughout the beginning of the school year always helps us as we consider, “What is best for them in the year ahead? Are we on the right track and need to continue? OR is the Lord leading us to take a turn and follow Him in a new way for His best for our children for the year ahead?”

After MUCH, MUCH, MUCH prayer and an obscene amount of wise counsel (a list to long to write!)–we are excited (like SUPER excited!) to embark on a new journey for our year ahead! I don’t know if it will be for 1 year or 10 years–but we do know and believe the best thing for our children next year is educating them at home. YES–we’ve decided this fall we will homeschool.

NOW–many, many of you already do this–so you totally get the pros/cons and why anyone would be crazy enough to homeschool. Honestly, I’ve never read a better description of exactly how we feel than Ann Voskamp’s blog entry on why she’s crazy enough to homeschool. If you haven’t read it–or you think anyone is crazy, their children are going to be unsocialized or you’d just like to read her perspective on the pros/cons please READ IT HERE. The number of children homeschooling in the U.S. has risen dramatically over the last decade with more than 2 million currently being homeschooled. We are super excited to join this number next year–and being a former public school teacher…and my children having gone to an AMAZING Christian private school for the last 2 years–we have a good feel for just about everything but this. I’m nervous–but oh so excited for our family and escpecially our children!

SO, she lives on a farm. We live just outside the big city. Do not worry–we are not going to move to a farm (although I’d really love to live on a farm).

Home school folk don’t look like they used to;)….

Don’t ya think Frank and Isaac looked THRILLED to be in these outfits?!

DON’T worry–I’m not going to start dressing like that picture…no long skirts or jumpers for me or my kids. We are still cool…and obviously we are now too-cool-for-school;). HA! Just to entertain you I went to the thift store and I was SO excited when I spotted this lovely Apple jumper for just $4. I’m sad to tell you that the outfits Isaac and Frank are wearing were UNFORTUNATELY Richard’s when he was little (I’m sure they were super stylish back in the day!). My mother-in-law held on to these and gave these to me when Parker was born–and I just didn’t ever have the right place for them to wear them to;). BUT 6 years later–they made this photo op!

If you want me to make you REALLY laugh–what you must know is I wore these outfits over to a friend’s house for dinner to make our “we’re home-schooling” announcement as they are some of our very bestfriends! Rich joined us and came straight from work. I acted like this outfit was completely normal and never laughed! He totally went along with it thinking I LIKED my new apple jumper;) and then I died laughing asking him if he thought I liked this outfit!!!! He said he didn’t want to hurt my feelings in front of the Denton family in case I did so he wasn’t going to say anything…aren’t boys funny?! (My apologies if you don’t see anything wrong with the dress! Really…it’s a nice apple check pattern;) Unfortunately–it’s just not “us”. This is more us (just before Frank resigned the binkie…which isn’t going that well by the way)…

ACTUALLY…that isn’t really us either. We are usally too crazy to even stand still for a picture. MAYBE this is more US:)

Seriously though–we are so excited!!! We have spent MOST of this past school year PRAYING about this decision–and the Lord always guides and provides. It actually took ME much longer to get on board than it did Richard. It just so happened that almost EVERY underwriter, CEO or whoever he went to dinner with on a business trip brought up homeschooling over dinner because their wives homeschooled. Richard would come home so excited about not only how their children are excelling academically–but most importantly how their character is being shaped, how their family is thriving and how they are growing in their walks with Christ. I’m so excited to get to be the one who guides and teaches them in these precious formative years–and I’m ALSO super excited that we are doing this with SO MANY OTHER FAMILIES who are also taking this leap of faith! (ONE of the families lives just up the road from us–they just moved here from Tennessee–AND their son is from Ethiopia AND shared a ROOM with Isaac at Hannah’s Hope! Also fun they have 3 older kids too that roll with my kids!) THEN so many other families in our African Fellowship Group and also families also involved with orphan ministries–so the social aspect for our kids we are going to have to TONE DOWN or we won’t get anything done but social;). We ARE though going to have the most rocking Fall Festivals, Christmas celebrations, Spring Flings and Field Days with these families…so I’m just thrilled to get to do life together on such an intimate level that would be near to impossible to do in traditional school!

I could go on and ON and ON about how the Lord led us here, why we believe this is best for our children–but I’ll spare you and just let you peak in via our blog as we take yet another adventure! We already have our FIRST FAMILY FIELD TRIP booked…we’re studying about the Great Lakes ON the Great Lakes:). Daddy has business there–and usually he’s gone for a week when he has to go there while I’m managing solo here–but now we can go along for the ride whenever we want. And of course momma will do her best to make it coincide with our curriculum. For those of you interested in WHAT we are doing for CURRICULUM–I’ll share that another day…that is if anyone even wants to know:).

FOR NOW–thought I’d give ya a sneak peak into our homeschool room! This is what I’ve been working on for the last few months in our basement! There was an empty room that was unfinished beside our playroom–and now it’s ready for my sweet little ones to learn! Here it is…

I’m actually probably going to move the puppet house back into the playroom so I can put my easel there for my big books for reading. But Laney and Parker will begin their fine arts on Tuesdays in August so I thought we’d leave the puppet house up for a bit. There are SO MANY amazing extra curriculars for home schooler here, so we’ve reserved Tuesdays as our day for drama, foreign language, painting, art and dance/karate (Loo will dance and P-man will take on Miyagi and catch flies with chopsticks.) Of course if we are focusing on fine arts, they need a place to practice–so momma built this…

We were totally inspired to build this from the amazing Playful Learning Spaces ideas–but I had to tweak it because I’m not a huge fan of chalk. I love chalk on paper–but on actual chalk boards–not so much. I wrote a little tutorial on how I built that–so you can go back a bit and find it if you’d like to attempt that at home:).

I love our daily reminder above the art center…

I had a little too much fun with containers and my label maker:)

I’ve had my kids tested to discover what types of learners they are. Because I have children who thrive with auditory learning–I purchased the audio to most of my texts. After I teach it, we have a little added reinforcement in audio–so we put this little futon in with a cd and headphones so they can get cozy and take it all in…

Above the futon (from Target) is our world map that I framed (you can find that tutorial “how I did it” on the blog as well). My favorite thing about this is the plexiglass over the map–SO you can use dry-erase markers all day long on the glass and then just wipe it away! How cool will that be to add to learning and even review and test time! “Laney, can you chart the journey of Ferdinand Magellan…”

There are also two big closets in this room. I bought the racks on sale at Target…and I still am waiting on curriculum stuff so I’ll have to stock up on more containers…

I found this fun (and inexpensive) desk at IKEA. The awesome thing about it is that the table on each side folds down. SO–it’s super easy to store and take up little space if and when we need the whole room for a project or activity.

See the fun bookcase in the background up there??? ANOTHER fun IKEA find! I put it together with the kids–so that is how simple it really is to assemble AND it’s very sturdy. I loved running across the orange organizing things at Ikea to coordinate with the framed map and my old school desks too!

The bookcase, the organizers and bookends are all from Ikea. The white 16 drawer container I finally found at The Container Store which we’ll be using for our letter writing project–working on that now and will share soon (another awesome learning idea from Playful Learning Spaces! We’ll have pictures of 16 friends on the outside of each tiny drawer with their name (this will help them learn to spell our friends names too). Inside will be pre-addressed labels so the kids can practice writing whenever they want–while bringing back the lost art of letter writing:). I’ll share it completed some time next month before we start:) I had a little too much fun with library bookends–this will help the children learn to classify and sort…and of course find the book they are looking for.

Aren’t these containers and shells from Hobby Lobby so much fun??? (Still need to label them Cockles, Conchs and Mussels)

On each side of the bookshelve I have my cute little orange school desks just for fun. BUT I’ll tell you that Isaac and Frank LOVE to sit in them when I’m working with the older two. When I ask a question to P or L, Frank will raise his hand really fast and scream, “MEEEEEE!!!!!!!!” ALTHOUGH he didn’t understand the question OR know the answer—WHICH prompts little not even 2 year old yet Isaac to do the same thing. WHICH then follows with laughter from EVERYONE:) Seriously–so cute!

Oh–and the desks?? My mom found them for me YEARS ago and I just painted them orange. You can find them at antique stores, flea markets and I’m sure just about any where that sells used or old furniture.

THEN if you do a 180 from this–you see the 2 closets side-by-side and in the back corner our “featured reader books” on the wall. I also got these wall shelves at Ikea (Mr.Reading Spider is also from Ikea–and the fun inspirational vinyl rub on posters are from Hobby Lobby.)

The room really is still a work in progress (and I guess it always will be as our learning needs change), but in the opposite corner I’m working on a fun Art Gallery–with 6 frames like this one under with cork board so I can easily pin their art on them before we have art exhibits for daddy and friends…

We swapped some glass doors from another room to this one also so I could see the babies in the playroom playing on the days they are home with us (they will be in preschool together 2 days a week!)

And then you open up the doors and see the complete toddler mess in the playroom!

Soooo…that’s our latest and greatest fun news!!! I’m sure we will have TWICE as many fun and entertaining stories as last year…only momma isn’t sure when I’ll find time to share them as I’m sure this first year I’ll be working some on curriculum for the day ahead at night! I’m really having SO MUCH FUN with the curriculum part!!! Many times in school teachers get bogged down with politics, paperwork and silly things that have nothing to do with teaching which really takes away from teaching and learning. I now get to be as creative and fun as I want to be in the classroom–and with my own sweeties!!! So thankful for this opportunity–and I know this will be one year we never regret! One year at a time for our family…and can’t wait to share many of our adventures with y’all!

Have a GREAT weekend! We have a fun party to throw for ITY!!!



erika - July 1, 2011 - 3:12 am

can my kids come to your school?!!!! looks amazing!

Christy - July 1, 2011 - 6:21 am

So happy for you! The room looks amazing – I know you are going to do a phenomonal job teaching them!

Deborah - July 1, 2011 - 7:52 am

What a great opportunity. It will be one of my greatest regrets in life that I didn’t homeschool my children. Love the school room.

Kimberly - July 1, 2011 - 7:55 am

Congratulations! I can taste your excitement from here. Your room looks amazing and I am super excited about the letter writing. I too, am trying to raise writers. We try to have something to send 4-5 times a week. Finding people who will write back is tricky, but my kids have received enough notes to stay encouraged about sticking with it. :-)I am excited to follow your adventure!

Ashley - July 1, 2011 - 8:26 am

Andrea…first of all, that picture is TOO funny! I can’t believe you actually went out and found a “homeschooler” outfit! I love it!! =) Your room is AMAZING! I am so glad you are homeschooling because I know you will have so many awesome ideas that we can all borrow!! You are going to have SO much fun! It really is such a blessing to have them all home. I’m headed to IKEA next weekend to get some stuff for our room, too. Now I have some great ideas (thank you!)

emil - July 1, 2011 - 9:20 am

Welcome to the wonderful world of homeschooling! So much fun. Much to discuss my friend. 🙂

Lara - July 1, 2011 - 9:52 am

I did a double take when I saw that picture of the homeschooling outfits! I was thinking I might have to fly over there for an intervention! I have the same Ikea bookshelf with the same orange boxes. We use the big ones for costumes in the playroom. Love your homeschool room. It ALMOST made me want to homeschool. But, alas, I am too social a butterfly to spend that much time at home. PS- Hobby Lobby jars are fun! I’m using them to organize our craft supplies.

Jessica - July 1, 2011 - 10:13 am

So excited for you. Although it’s a tough job at times, homeschooling has so blessed our family. We will be homeschooling 5 of our 6 children next year and I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store for us. Have a great year!


Karen Piwetz - July 1, 2011 - 10:27 am

So excited for you! I began homeschooling about 2 years ago. I have loved it. It has really drawn our family closer together. If you need curriculum suggestions just ask.
BTW do you know the name of the desk you got from IKEA? I could not find it on their site. Thanks

polly - July 1, 2011 - 10:37 am

I am so excited for you friend! I knew you were destined and I’ve been expecting this post for some time now 😉 You will make an excellent homeschool momma….. of all the callings on my life, homeschooling is the most challenging and my absolute favorite of all. It’s not always easy but I could not imagine doing life with my kids any other way. You are going to love it. Praying for you 🙂 PB

Jessica - July 1, 2011 - 11:14 am

I am amazed that you’ve had the time to work on this room, take care of your kids, and start a new adoption!! You must have superpowers…jk!! I love the homeschooling room…I hope to homeschool my 4 when they come home. Looking forward to getting some tips from you. P.S. we have the same natural baskets from Ikea in our entertainment center(from Ikea)…we like Ikea too!

Monica - July 1, 2011 - 11:21 am

Congratulations on your decision to homeschool! Our family will be starting on this journey as well this year and we are super excited. I will have one in kindergarten and third grade. Your classroom looks awesome!! Great job!! Never been to IKEA..going to have to check them that desk!! 🙂

Traci - July 1, 2011 - 11:21 am

WOW! That room looks phenomenal! Can you teach my kids too? Me too, for that matter! Best of luck and God’s blessings on your new adventure! You’re a stronger woman than I am! I’m sticking to the idea that our public school needs my children to be the “salt and light.”

Christina - July 1, 2011 - 11:35 am

Girl – congratulations!!!! It’s a crazy journey, but seriously, has that every scared you off before! 🙂 We are starting our 5th year homeschooling and waiting for our referral and travel dates to Ethiopia that will most likely fall right in the middle of the beginning of our school year! 🙂 Had this been my first year, I would be panicked, as it is – not a bit! God has called us to both and will make a way! Confident of that! 🙂 READ READ READ together. PLAY GAMES TOGETHER! ENJOY THEM and learn along side of them! We were finishing up the story of Nate Saint together yesterday and I wept while trying to finish the story. The kids are used to this kind of behavior from me so they weren’t caught off guard. However, I thought to myself, I think I enjoy learning through this home school thing as much as they do! In all seriousness – amazing the results of heart tending throughout the days!

Rory Cookman - July 1, 2011 - 11:36 am

Congratulations! I am sure you will be wonderful!:) We are entering our third year of homeschooling with four littles–7, 4, 2, and 7 months in tow so we can relate a little to the path you’re taking. You won’t regret it.:)

Beth - July 1, 2011 - 1:26 pm

Welcome to the crazy life!!!! I’ll be so excited to follow your journey! And I think I have that very same jumper in my closet:) JK

Debbie Davis - July 1, 2011 - 2:07 pm

We homeschool too and know lots of families who have adopted who homeschool as well. The two seemed to go hand in hand so well. I’m sure you will do an excellent job at it and being able to travel with your husband when he goes on his trips is a huge bonus. I rode to the Created to Care retreat with the woman who is moving there from Knoxville and we talked about homeschooling a lot during the drive down. So fun to have such a huge community of adoptive parents, who also homeschool, and “get” what you are doing and why. And we got our referral a week ago for our daughter so we’ll have a little one home too to shake up life with 5th and 7th grade boys. So excited for your family!

Alison - July 1, 2011 - 5:06 pm

Wow!!! That is awesome, Andrea! You will be the best homeschooling mom!!! And I love their “learning space”…it’s perfect!

Liv - July 1, 2011 - 9:04 pm

Woohoo!! So excited for you! I’ve also been working on our homeschool room (as funds allow) and have been having a blast with it. Definitely interested to hear what curriculum you’ve decided on! I’ve also been having a ton of fun with that 🙂

Mary - July 1, 2011 - 9:27 pm

You’re going to love homeschooling! We have homeschooled since 2004. My children are now 11 and 9. We use a literature-based unit study approach. It’s called Five in a Row.

Congratulations, too, on Isaac’s finalization. I remember both of our children’s day in court. The judges were thrilled, too.

Kelli - July 1, 2011 - 9:37 pm

In a year, you will be wondering why you didn’t start homeschool earlier! I promise. It’s such a natural extention of parenting!!!

For us- our focus has become learning God’s word, exploring HIS truth, and memorizing scripture. After that- everything else falls into place.

Tiffini - July 1, 2011 - 9:46 pm

Starting our 9th year of homeschooling and wouldn’t change a thing. Your relationships will be blessed beyond belief. I’m so excited for you!

Kelly Johnson - July 1, 2011 - 11:40 pm

Your homeschool room ROCKS! As a former public school teacher, I would have loved to have that classroom! :c) I can’t wait to follow your journey this year. Oh and please post about the curriculum you’re choosing…definitely curious and interested!

Julie Johnston - July 2, 2011 - 1:23 pm

Andrea…you definately should have worn your hair in a bun and put on some white keds for the picture:) He-he! We love, love homeschooling….and our entire house has pretty much turned into the “school room”…..maps and graphs everywhere! Can’t wait to see all of the ideas you give us! And if either of you kiddos want a pen pal who will write them back each week…..I volunteer my 1st and 2nd grader:) Finding other kids to write them back is kind of a challenge!

Dee Dee Aarseth - July 2, 2011 - 8:40 pm

Hi Andrea,

I am not sure if you “know” me or not….but we adopted our daughter Olivia from AGCI as well and I have been following your blog for a long time…I may have commented a few times before. Anyways we are leaving to become missionaries in Ethiopia at the end of the month and I was wondering if you had already filled your 16 friends for your letter writing project? I would love if our kids could be pen pals if that is what you are looking in to doing. It might be fun to send letters and pictures back and forth. Let me know what you think! deedee.aarseth at sim dot org


Jennifer - July 3, 2011 - 2:22 am

Your room looks awesome! I homeschooled our boys for 6 years and it was wonderful. We felt the Lord leading us to put them in public school this year (4th and 7th grade) and they did GREAT! We were always “one year at a time” as well and God of course is so faithful in answering, leading and guiding our decisions! You’ll do GREAT!

Denise - July 4, 2011 - 12:30 am

Yeah! Welcome to the Wonderful World of Homeschooling! And WOWZER…. I LOVE the class room! If you can get to a homeschool conference before the school year starts, it can really make a huge helpful difference! Blessings, Denise

amy - July 10, 2011 - 10:32 pm

HI! I came across this post when I googled for basement-homeschooling rooms! LOL! I LOVE your room, and admit, I am a little envious, as we could never get that much finishing done with our basement, but we ARE trying to cosmetically touch it up with what we can afford and do. So, your room has been inspiring and I have to add…I have that SAME SIGN with the verse but mine is above our couch, on a shelf, in our living room. I LOVE it and specifically purchased it just a couple months ago. I love Hobby Lobby’s a fantastic place for unique finds! Your family is beautiful! Blessings!

Carissa - July 22, 2011 - 5:02 pm

Andrea- I LOVE your school room!!! It is perfect. God has certainly gifted you with creativity. Thank you for sharing this with us! I love the ideas. God will give you an incredible year with your kids!

Jamie - August 5, 2011 - 8:51 pm

Hey! I stopped over from and then I saw this post and realized I’ve seen your adoption video on youtube! Small world!

I’m preschool homeschooling my boys right now, and plan to go through high school. Such an adventure.

look forward to following your blog!