The Great Bedroom Swap… and Unschooling

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks in our home. It took us about 3 weeks of doggedly following our set Oak Meadow curriculum before we admitted that it’s really not us and started investigating the ideals behind unschooling. Now that’s a concept I can get behind… and we’ve learned a lot more since we’ve let go of the idea that we have to sit down and “do school” every day at the same time, and just let the days take us where it will. I know I’ve learned a lot about myself, and have done a lot of soul-searching about what our goals are, and the best way to meet those goals. I’ve had to let go of control… and I do like to be in control. I am finding that we’re all doing quite well without me calling every shot (shocker, I know), and I’m feeling calmer and more relaxed as I learn to trust the girls’ instincts and decisions.

The big girls each received a Kindle, as a kind of “now that we’re homeschooling” gift, and they’ve been reading even more than before. Our local library has a lot of e-books available to borrow, and we’ve gotten a ton of use from our free trial of Kindle Unlimited. I’m pretty sure we’ll keep that subscription – with something like 800,000 titles to borrow, it seems well worth $9.99/month.

We’ve been attending homeschool park days each week, and we’re all enjoying meeting new people and having somewhere to be outside of our usual errands and appointments.

Homeschool Unschool Park Days

Another big change we’ve made is our environment… the Great Bedroom Swap! There’s a bit of a back story here…

When we lived in our little basement apartment a few years ago, David and I slept in our living room so that the girls could share the single small bedroom. From there we moved in with friends in Texas, where we slept on separate sofas, then a hotel room, where we slept 3 feet from the girls. By the time we moved into our current apartment, we were thrilled to be able to take the larger of the two bedrooms. We set up our bed, admired all of the space we had, and finally felt like real grown-ups.

The thing is, the girls keep getting bigger, and older, as kids tend do… and they’ve outgrown their bedroom. They both have big, beautiful personalities, which don’t fit so well squeezed into a 10 x 12-foot space. Meanwhile, David and I hardly spend any time in our bedroom, preferring to hang out in the living room most of the time. I guess we just never got used to having that much space of our own, so it wasn’t that hard to give it up.

Well, emotionally and mentally, it wasn’t that hard to give up. Physically… man, it took forever. We had boxes in our closet that hadn’t been unpacked since we’d moved into this apartment almost three years ago. The girls had a huge collection of stuff in their closets — things that were probably very important when they were brought into the closet, but have since lost their sparkle and been pushed to a pile on the floor. It was a lot to go through and sort into piles of Trash, Donate, and Keep. 

There was a lot of stuff in the Donate pile. We’ve stocked at least a few entire shelves at our local Goodwill in the past three weeks.

In the end, both rooms look great and suit all of us better than they did before. David has been spending way too many nights on the couch in the past few months, as Katie has gotten bigger and taken up more of our bed. Katie’s crib is now pushed up against my side of the bed, so we’re still co-sleeping, but now I have a little more space to call my own at night, and David has happily rejoined me in our bed.

Addah wanted a loft bed for her side of their room, so she’s sleeping up high now, with her desk and bookshelves below. She’s created a cozy little nook for herself, complete with a divider curtain made from last year’s Halloween costume tutu, which allows her to stay up later than Lakin, who prefers an earlier bedtime.

Lakin chose a regular twin bed, which we built for her — our first hand-built project, and definitely worthy of its own blog post. Her bed will be painted a deep midnight blue and decorated with silver stars. She has a desk for her laptop, as well as a cozy nook of her own in the walk-in closet: a comfy pink chair and her trunk of her most special books and journals. 

Great Bedroom Swap

We’re all pretty happy with the changes we’ve made. Our little bedroom feels like more like “us” somehow, where the big bedroom always felt just a little too big. The girls are bickering less and laughing more, which does my heart so much good and makes me wish we’d done this from Day 1 in this apartment.

So, lots of changes… but good changes, important changes… changes that make us a stronger and happier family.

Navigating Hope

It has been three weeks since we moved into our new apartment. It took almost two full weeks to move in our things from storage and get everything unpacked. We uncovered untold treasures: items we had been missing since we packed them away, as well as many things that we had forgotten we had.

We have an amazing amount of space here, comparatively speaking. In the last year, we have lived on the upper floor of a friend’s house, in the basement of my mom’s house, in a hotel room and in another friend’s house.

In all of these places, we have had to keep our belongings confined to a very small space, and in none of these did we have our own kitchen or cooking area. Before that, we lived in a 1-bedroom apartment, approximately 400 square feet of space.

Now, we have an expansive 850 square feet… it feels like a palace, and I mean no exaggeration in saying that. David and I have our own master bedroom with a walk-in closet. The girls have their own room with double closets. We have a galley-style kitchen with so much counter space. The living room has room for our books and there are shelves for my teapots… it’s wonderful!

For folks who have been living by the seats of our pants, and with 90% of our belongings in a storage unit for a year, it’s amazing, fantastic, exciting… and bittersweet. We have room now for the beautiful bassinet that my parents bought us for our baby shower. We have room for the organizer shelves that I bought for the huge stash of cloth diapers that my older girls shared.

We try not to think about those things, for the most part. They are there, and they bring sadness, but they bring hope as well. We may one day be able to use that bassinet, car seat, baby tub and boxes of baby clothes. When that day comes, we will have room to properly welcome that new little one, a home of our own to bring him or her to… things we did not have when we were pregnant with Clara.

And in the meantime, we have dedicated a place in our home for things that remind us of her. Her urn, her ultrasound pictures, her lock of hair and the sock monkey that her big sister Addah picked out for her… all have their special place in our new home.

We have decorated our home with lots of bright colors and light streaming in the windows… happy colors to keep our spirits lifted. It is our sanctuary, our special place that we have worked so hard to have, for so long. We surround ourselves with rainbows… and spend our days re-learning how to navigate this new world of independence, grief and loss, and tentative happiness and hope.