Living With Kids: Laura George

[ Note: This is one of the first home tours to be featured in this series, which now includes almost 450. It was originally published in March 2014. Readers loved it then, and I think you’ll love it now as well. ]

More than a few of Laura’s photos sent for inclusion in her tour had the word sun in the name. Those three little letters made me like her so much. I guess people looking for the bright side have always been my favorites.

There’s so much sunshine in this tour, Friends. From the very first description of her kids to how she describes her home to her final answer about the way our children honestly see us, it’s all real and refreshing. (Neville sounds like a hoot!) Please enjoy it!

The seven of us are my husband Cylon, myself, and our five kids: Taye, Arri, Micah, Neville, and Imogen. I work part-time as a night nurse at a local hospital, and the rest of the time I am home, caring for and teaching our kids. My husband, Cylon, is a college chaplain and music minister. We met at the wedding of mutual friends and got married two months later, and have never looked back!

Taye, an active 11-year-old, enjoys cooking and is an old soul. Arrietty is seven. She likes to be in charge, and she has a rich, throaty voice. We often hear her singing Broadway-style about what’s going on in her life. Micah is five. She is kind and caring, and a willing helper. She has a great eye for color. Neville, our two and a half year old, has been a little out of sorts since the day he was born, but as he grows, his quirky sense of humor is coming out, and he is a gentle big brother to our youngest, Imogen, who will be a year old this April. She is an easy, happy baby who only complains under the most difficult circumstances.

This was first home we saw together as a family when we started house hunting. The photos in the listing looked promising, but there were none of the exterior, and when we went to see it, we saw why. The original cedar shakes were peeling and rotten and it was a real eyesore. But walking inside was like coming home. The layout of the house is almost identical to the one I grew up in, the closets are enormous, and it had beautiful wood floors.

The house is only a couple of miles from downtown, but the backyard is huge for a city lot. When we asked about putting an offer in, the agent suddenly said there were two other buyers who also had offers in as well. The house had been on the market for months, so I think they created an artificial bidding war to get a better price. At the time, we were inexperienced first-time home buyers and caught up in the emotion of it, and we probably offered more than we should have. We put the offer in on a Friday and had to wait until Monday to find out if it had been accepted. It was one of the longest weekends of our lives!

In a small city like Albany, we get to enjoy the benefits of city living – parks, libraries, convenient amenities, and great takeout – but we’re also just 20 minutes away from apple and strawberry picking and close enough for day trips to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York City, or Vermont. There are a number of bike paths nearby, and great places to camp. Albany is really rich in history; it’s been around since the 1600s. I love taking the kids for walks just to look at the houses.

An open floor plan works well for a lot of families, but I really like our rabbit warren! The many little rooms allow us to give specific jobs to the rooms, like having a dedicated schoolroom. It also allows us to get away from each other when we need to.

Our dining room is probably the most-used room in our home. Since we don’t have an eat-in kitchen, we have all our meals at the dining room table, which is where I do my sewing projects, and we also congregate there for schoolwork at times.

Using our generous closet space means keeping out only clothes and toys that are fitting just right and are age-appropriate. Anything that isn’t working gets donated or stored away until someone else needs it.

My best trick for finding space is trash day! Because we live in an urban area, anything of value left at the curb on trash day is gone long before the garbage truck comes by the next morning.

There are days when I feel like I’m Super Mom, and we can get schoolwork done and have a home cooked meal and read before bed. Other days, we are working on school until 6 p.m., and we have pancakes or Chinese takeout for dinner!

Having a daily afternoon quiet time for everyone, including the big kids, gives us all a break. For an hour and forty minutes (if the babies cooperate), I can sit and read, eat my lunch, or watch a BBC historical drama. When that works out, it’s a great chance to recharge for the rest of the day.

It took several years of tinkering with my work schedule to get to a place where I didn’t always feel like I was being run ragged both at home and at work. When I found out we were pregnant with number five, I actually handed in my letter of resignation after asking a number of times in the past for a schedule that worked better for our family. When they realized I was serious about quitting, my boss called and offered me what I had been asking for: fewer hours and the freedom to self-schedule. I usually work a night shift every other Friday. Cylon takes care of the kids the next day so that I can sleep. He’s a great partner in crime and we work well as a team.

I’m a second generation homeschooler. My mom homeschooled me and my siblings. It really nurtured my creativity and imagination, gave me lots of outdoor time, and taught me how to learn and to love reading. That’s what I want for my kids.

With homeschooling, if something isn’t working for us, we can try different things until we find our pocket, and I can tailor to each child’s needs. That is also the hardest part, trying to find the thing that really works for each of your kids. I found that out with kindergarten. I am doing kindergarten for the third time, and it has never been the same twice.

I want them to remember playing outside and getting really dirty, making and buildings things together and pretending. I want them to remember the smell of clothes fresh off the clothesline and the aroma of their favorite foods. I want them to remember a nook where they loved to sneak away to read, and dancing in the kitchen to soca and reggae streaming online from Trinidad and Tobago, where Cylon was born and grew up.

I love to read with the kids, dance with them, and to fix things with them and for them. I hope that my kids remember being taken care of, and that love fills in the times when I didn’t get things right.

My favorite part of living with my kids is their world view. When you’re a grown up, your responsibilities can sometimes make you immune to things that are very obvious to a child, and they are good at pointing those things out and helping you see the world differently. I also like the detective work involved in trying to find out what they really want to know when they ask a question. A lot of times it’s nowhere near what you initially think of when they ask.

The thing that surprised me is that part no one can explain – the selflessness and personal growth parenting requires. My kids make life so much richer because they are a constant reminder of all that is going on in the world outside my own head. Teaching them and learning from them is so hard, but so good.

I already miss the friendly openness of my oldest, who is about to enter the uncertain world of his teens, and the pudgy starfish hands of the baby, and that soft, soft skin of a baby’s neck.

I wish someone had told me that your kids don’t see you the way you see yourself.

We were driving somewhere recently, and Taye was talking to me while I was trying to negotiate a traffic light during afternoon rush hour traffic. Someone had just honked because I was sitting while the light turned green trying to listen to what Taye was saying. As I pulled into the intersection, I said in frustration, ‘Taye, you have to stop talking! Some moms can talk with their kids while they’re driving. I’m not that mom!’

There was silence for a moment, then I heard a quiet voice of my daughter Micah from the backseat, ‘But you’re the cool Mom. And you’re the good Mom.’

When we’re wrapped up in parenting and trying to get through the next moment, it’s so easy to forget that the broken, failing person that one feels like at times is not the person your child sees. On nights when I’m laying in bed staring at the ceiling and telling Cylon how it feels like I did a terrible job that day, my kids aren’t laying in their beds thinking about what a horrible mom I was. Every day we have to trust that grace is going to give us a chance to do it again and fix the rough edges.


Laura, I could read your last  thought over and over and over again, and it would still move me every single time. Thank you so much for sharing your rabbit warren with us. Oh…and pudgy starfish baby hands! I miss those, too.

Friends, this was a lovely one, wasn’t it? And Laura’s conversation with her kids in the car got me thinking about all the awesome chats that happen while navigating traffic! Do your kids tend to open up in the car? What’s the best spot outside of your home to get them talking?

P.S. – Are you interested in sharing your own home with us? Just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

92 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Laura George”

  1. This is my favorite house so far….it feels loved and lived in! Sometimes as mothers, caretakers, etc. we get bound up in the notion that our homes & lives must appear pristine…which is an impossible and frustrating goal. When someone comes into my home I say, “This is a REAL home, with REAL people and REAL crumbs!”

    1. What a great comment. I agree. It was a beautiful house for its realness. It didn’t look too curated and perfect. It made me breath out and feel good. Thanks Laura and Gabrielle.

      1. Hear, hear. I love the home tours but often I feel like my home is somehow lacking (my projection, not the series). I loved this home, thank you for sharing!

          1. Yes, I completely agree- this home looks loved and lived in, and it’s got charm and style without feeling stiff or difficult to live in– and I’m so glad to see Duplo blocks and the FP farm– because we have some beloved plastic toys ’round these parts (Lego! LEGO! LEGGGGGGGO!) and I always feel a bit disarmed by the apparent lack of plastic in some homes (not referring to this series specifically, just in general on the internet).

  2. Love this house! It looks so warm and welcoming. I really love the runner in the hallway, so much color!

    My children always open up in the car to me especially my oldest who is now a teenager. She saves all confessions for the car which actually works better for me as I have to work to remain calm even when I want to freak out.

  3. that last thought about how our children see us differently….and trusting in the grace of another day….that got me! as much as i loved seeing the photos of laura’s home, those last words are what i needed to hear today. i’m typing this through tears of gratefulness for seeing this at just the right time. thanks laura for sharing your home and your words.

    1. I loved that last thought too. I try so hard to teach my daughter to take another’s perspective to better understand what’s going on with him/her. When I read this I realized, though, that I don’t often take my daughter’s perspective. It’s almost mind-blowing to realize Laura is right, my daughter doesn’t see me the way I see myself.

  4. This house reminds me of mine but more stylish and neat :). I am literally sitting at the same desk from the one picture right now! Your two girlies sitting on their bed reminded me of my two boys in their room :). Think I’m going to do a runner in my hallway now…..

  5. Exactly what Melanie said, above. I am crying as I write this. Her last thoughts about having time to fix the rough edges got me. I hope for that almost every night. Lovely home, too.

  6. I love that there is another female named Micah in this world! :) That’s such a great reminder to know that our kids don’t see us like we do. As my middle child says, he just loves me. All of us moms need that reminder daily.

    1. I shared this with my Micah and she got a kick out of it, although she isn’t yet aware that she’s one of just a few lady Micahs in the world.

  7. Finally! A real house that looks like kids fill the house with love. This is my favorite home. It doesn’t look like it’s been overstyled and devoid of personality. Well done Laura and Gabrielle!

  8. I love looking at all the house tours, but this is by far my favorite. It’s a real house, really lived in, and really reflects the occupants an dis beautiful! No need to impress with impossible to keep clean décor from fancy shops.

    1. Sherwin Williams Burma Jade. Going bold was inspired by my mother-in-law’s kitchen cabinets in her home in the Caribbean, which are pink!

  9. THANK YOU for showing a house that looks like mine: neat but lived in, pretty, but with toys on the floor. Toys that are creative and special, but also legos and some plastic, and …well, the STUFF our kids accumulate. What a lovely home filled with spirit, grace, and love.

  10. That’s so true! I don’t remember once laying in bed thinking that my mom was a bad mom, yet I think that about myself all the time. I have a friend who says we need to strike this from our mom vocabulary and never refer to our parenting as “good” or “bad,” and I tend to agree. We’re all doing our best—it’s just that some days things come easily, and other days the same things are really hard.

  11. I had a similar experience just this week. We were sleeping in a tent in the backyard. MY mom was out telling stories with the kids, and by the time I came out, only my 9 year old was still awake. After he thought I was asleep, I told my mom that I felt bad for my kids because I wasn’t a fun mom, like she was (I mean, she was out in the tent the whole time loving it. I had the funnest mom ever. Way more fun than I ever was.) Then a little nine-year old voice piped up, “I think you’re a fun mom. You’re great.” Thanks, buddy, I needed that.

    1. Thanks! And despite my red door, I bemoan not being a fun mom, either. We can’t all be, I guess… And even if we aren’t, hopefully my kids, like yours, will think we are anyway!

  12. Love, love, love, love, love!!! I love her home, her philosophy and her insight. I am homeschooling my now 13 year old grandson and I, too, miss his open easy communication now that he has started to brood :). And star fish baby hands=perfect.

  13. What a diverse group of great homes/moms/families you’ve been featuring. I like it. And I love the bursts of teal/turqouise in this home.

  14. Love this home (the sun and pops of color!), and love her comments. I am impressed and awed that she homeschools all her children! I have always wanted to home school, but I just can’t imagine the patience of it.

  15. The tiny roadside ice cream stand in our town is where my kids are most chatty. I relish those early warm days in April until the stand closes up for the winter. I pull the hatch up in back of our car and my kids and I let our legs dangle as we have soft serve cones. We talk about anything and everything and there is never any other place I’d rather be. No one complains. And no one ever says they don’t want to go for ice cream. It’s the best

  16. So real and warm! You can feel the love and laughter. It’s nice to see a home that hasn’t been styled to within an inch of it’s life! And truer words have never been spoken!

  17. Such a refreshing house and happy view of motherhood. Many thanks! I love the turquoise dining chair–do you know the paint color?

  18. This home reminds me of my brother and sister-in-law’s with all the wonderful bold paint colors. My s-i-l is from Ireland and she loves color and is not afraid to switch things up when it comes to painting. (Unlike me with my neutrals.) They’re also a family of 7. Like Laura’s, their home definitely feels lived in–and so warm and welcoming. Oh, and those quilts are just amazing!

  19. Yes, I too, have to say this is my fav house shown thus far… It’s rather defeating to view some of the previous homes that are immaculate and the design & style is well beyond most of our means. This house looks & sounds like an actual family with kids live there! Nothing better. ;)

    1. I agree! This home seems loving and attainable and welcoming. It’s hard not to compare one’s home to the ones presented here. Especially when the family seems to be similar to my own. Maybe having 5 kids is what makes it more “real”
      Although the more “put together” homes are very nice to look at.

  20. I wish one of you design moms would come and help me decorate. I love the colors, but I truly do not know how to pick them out and coordinate them myself. My oldest is 11 now, and she’s quite artistic, so she’s starting to help… where she got it from, I’ll never know. My husband and I are basically the same person, and neither of us can put an outfit together, much less decorate a house. :)

    1. Use your daughter’s talents! I used to help my mom organize and decorate as a kid. I was always rearranging the photos on the buffet in the dining room when I dusted. :)

  21. Hands down my favorite LWK ever. I loved it from the first picture with the old-fashioned Christmas lights hanging from the window! So wonderful to see the family love that seems to just pour out of every picture. Keep up the good work, Laura!

  22. I also had an amazing moment of comprehending contrasting perspectives in a car, though it was a little different from this. I was driving the small sons of two of my friends, and I hadn’t had a license long, so I was being very careful. But the boys wanted me to race another car! I said ‘I can’t do that, I have something very precious in this car that I have to look after.’ “What have you got?’ they asked, amazed and fascinated. ‘You!’ I said, in an ‘of course’ tone of voice. ‘We’re not precious!’ they said. Me: ‘Yes, you are.’ One of the boys: ‘But we’re not precious like diamonds or rubies.’ Me – now very serious: ‘You are far more precious than diamonds or rubies.’ They were quiet then, and pleased, and thoughtful. Their parents told me later that the boys told them about the whole conversation. The thing that surprised me was that those boys somehow didn’t know just how precious they were to their parents, who are loving and caring people who (it’s obvious to me) would die for their children without a second thought, if need be. It made me realise how important it is to tell young people often how we value and love them.

  23. Only have a moment to type: Total fave! This one is awesome. (they are all awesome – but some can feel slightly intimidating). As a single parent raising a child with ASD and living in a teeny tiny place, I felt so at home reading her words. We had an especially difficult time over homework last night, but after it was all said and done, and I was already in bed, my son walked in and whispered in my ear “I love you mom”. REading her words reminded me to share that. Thank you Gabrielle!

  24. What a great way to start my work morning after dropping my toddler off at preschool. I think that your last paragraph will come back to me resoundingly many times throughout motherhood! “….my kids aren’t laying in their beds thinking about what a horrible mom I was.” I also love the description of pudgy starfish hands. That’s the beautiful stuff haiku poems are made of :) Thank you for sharing!

  25. Laura! I really love your home! It’s real! And the legos pilled under the desk=happiness! I am a homeschool mom as well…and I work at home. This tour gave me one I could relate too, after I was done reading I felt like we had had a cup of coffee together!!!! We live in a home that is only 1300 sq feet….with 4 people. And yes, being selective helps with space. Thank you so much for sharing you home and thoughts!!!! And Gabrielle, thank you for such a lovely feature that I look forward to every week!!!!! XXO

    1. Thanks, Angela! The first time I took that pic, I put the Legos away, but when I went to retake it in better light, the Legos were back. They colonize under there! And it would have been disingenuous to remove them a second time.

  26. Love this home – the kitchen and the girls’ room are especially dear! Beautiful girls reading on their bed – so sweet! Thank you for sharing.

  27. I have a big Taye too!

    Once I got pulled over by a policeman who assumed I was texting by my “erratic” driving. Nope, just having an important conversation with the kids about which animal you’d rather be locked in a room with – lions, tigers, bears, sharks!!!

    1. My kids play that game too, which would you rather, and there’s never a good answer! Clicked over to your blog – our Micah’s middle name is Blythe, after Anne of Green Gables. Love your brown kids, too. You probably get this a lot, but they are just beautiful.

  28. I am so moved im not sure if my heart is going to burst with over-joy and happiness or if my eyes are going to pour tears of elation for the insight to motherhood this woman has shared … Much moved.. Much moved. I really have no words. Thank You. I will never forget this story. It has changed something in my heart forever.

  29. Oh, my. So beautiful! Funny, I loved so many things about the house when looking at the pictures, but it is the home that emerges from the lovely words that is the lasting memory from this piece.

    The tableaus of the two sisters and two brothers sitting together reading are such a sweet peek — into the colorful, cozy rooms, but esp. into the tenderness their share.

    And, most of all, thanks for the reminder that our kids see us differently (and probably always more generously) than we see ourselves. When my sister and I were young moms, we marveled once that we always felt we were losing it but couldn’t ever remember our own mom (a mother of eight!) losing it. When we told her this, she laughed loudly and proclaimed that we must have selective memory. Hurray for selective memory and generous kids.

    Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Kirsten. We talk about selective hearing at our house and sometimes forget about selective memory! It reminds me that neither are conscious.

  30. Laura, your mom shared your blog post on Facebook, and I couldn’t resist. It’s a joy to get a glimpse of your grown-up life, your heart, your home, your terrific family! Second gen home schooling – yup! Your mom is one reason that we have home schooled our two girls. Trips to your childhood home, when you and your sister, (and one brother, maybe?) took piano lessons made a lasting impression for me – there was always something interesting going on. So glad to see your house has a piano, but then you did say that Cylon is a music minister :) Grace to you. Joan

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Gast (you will always be that to me). Yes, Cylon is the one who does most of the piano playing at our house, and music is a big part of our family identity. :)

  31. I just love, “I hope that my kids remember being taken care of, and that love fills in the times when I didn’t get things right.” It sure gives me hope on those days that weren’t the best. What a great tour! Thank you.

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  33. Hi, I too was moved by the tenderness in Laura’s words and by the obvious love in her heart for her family and the care she takes in making her house a home.

    I was wondering if Laura might share teh paint colors used on her walls – especially the yellow if possible. I LOVE all the colors!

    Thanks for this wonderful post!

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  35. What a trip back in time! Our family life has changed a lot – my oldest is a senior in high school now. The baby in this post is a fiery 7 year old, and we’ve had two more kids since then! We use a number of the spaces very differently now, but what I said about parenting still rings true to me.

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