About Us

Contact any of us at: heartkeepercommonroom[at]gmail{dot}com

Contributors (short version):

Headmaster– Married to the DHM since 1982. Spent 20 years in the Air Force as an enlisted man and aircraft mechanic. Now manages small chain of discount grocery stores. Super-Dad. Unemployed as of February, 2012, substitute teaching, looking for work  Hired on as a full-time aide in the special ed class; works summers at the local airport, going back to school to get a teaching certificate to become a full time special ed teacher.

Headmistress, zookeeper: Married to the HM since 1982. Sahm mom, homeschooling mom, writer, eclectic and disorganized.

TheHistoryGirl, born in 1983, graduated from University with degree in history in 2009, married Strider in October of 2009.  Striderling born 11/10, Princess Peach born 12/11, 3rd baby girl born 10/13

Equuschick Born in 1984, worked at local animal shelter, married Shasta (whom she met when she was 8 years old) in November 2008, Dread Pirate Grasshopper born 9/09; Ladybug born on tax day 2011; the newest baby was born in Jan. of 2013

JennyAnyDots Born in 1989, our seamstress.  Works at the airport reupholstering small planes.  Never posts a thing anymore.

Pipsqueak Born in 1990, our photographer and quiet prankster; works at the library, goes to college.  Almost never posts a thing anymore. Married March of 2014 to:

The MopTop, became our 3rd son-in-law in March of 2014


Who we are: Retired Air Force, Homeschooling family who have finally settled down on property inherited from the DHM’s favorite uncle, whom we miss dreadfully.

Two parents, married forever and only to one another.

Seven Progeny.

Son-in-law, other son-in-law, other son-in-law.  Courtship worked for three of our girls, and their first kiss was on their wedding day.

Adorable new grandbabies:

The Dread Pirate Grasshopper, born at home 9/09 on National Pirate’s Day, a spirited and bright child who brings us all much joy, even while he keeps his parents on the run.  Sometimes especially when he keeps his parents on the run.

The Striderling, born 11/10 at home, whisked by ambulance to the NICU, and later by ambulance to a larger NICU.  All in all,his first 41 days of life he had two ambulance rides, two surgeries, too many tests to count, and so many blood draws he was limp and flacid. Home on oxygen and a feeding tube in his stomach, and adorable as all get out. His outcome, btw, would have been essentially the same if he’d been born at a hospital, sans the first ambulance trip.  He’d have been whisked of in a crash cart to NICU. He has a rare genetic condition limiting his lung capacity. 1 in 100,000 to 130,000 babies are born with it. Only 20 to 30 percent of those babies live as long as their second birthday. The Striderling is a miracle, and every day is a blessing. The hospital discovered, the week of his first birthday, that they had neglected to pay attention to the results of his blood tests when he was in the NICU, and he does not have that rare condition, he has a different, but equally rare condition, that is NOT life threatening (although their misdiagnosis could have killed him, especially if his mama hadn’t managed to keep him on breastmilk all that year), and can be treated by medication he needs for the rest of his life.  He has several delays thanks to their huge blunder, but we hope he will catch up with therapy.

Ladybug 3, born at home 4/15/11, the Grasshopper’s baby sister, the Ladybug, who sleeps through anything.

Grandbaby 4, Princess Peach,  born at home in very, very late December, Striderling’s young sibling.

Grandbaby 5- went home to the Lord when the  Equuschick miscarried.

Grandbaby 6- a precious baby girl born in January of 2013 to the Equuschick and Shasta

Grandbaby 7- a precious little girl born in October of 2013 to Strider and the HG

Grandbaby 8- due in midyear of 2014……?  (we don’t have a good due date at the moment), parents: Shasta and Equuschick


The dogs. A horse. Outdoor cat.A goat. A couple of beef still on the hoof in the freezer. Various other critters and livestock come and go.

What: chatting about education, cooking, crafting, politics, literature, leadership (as HM has time), music, frugal living, adoption, formerly the problems of living in a 1200 square foot house with only one bathroom (now we luxuriate in a house three times larger with four bathrooms which ought to embarrass me but still delights me), animals, vegetables, minerals, cabbages, and kings, and whatever strikes our fancy.

Where: Here at the Common Room. Okay, in the country near the family homestead (for participation in the War of 1812), in one of the Great Lakes States.

When: all day, every day.

Why: Because we like to.

Well, that was the initial reason, and it is still a strong reason. I (the DHM) wouldn’t do this if I didn’t enjoy it so much. But now it also helps pay for groceries and to put gas in our van, as well as provide the occasional family treat through ads, through sales here, here, and through affiliate links to Amazon, swagbucks prizes, and so forth.

Favorite links migrate about the page- depends on when we last edited the template, and how badly we botched the edit.

Want more? See the 2/11/05 archives.

Supporting Characters (Cast)

The Cherub: our 3rd daughter, born in 1987, joined our family in 1992, she has multiple disabilities and functions at about the level of a two year old.

The FYG: our 6th daughter, born at home in 1996

The BOY, FYB: our 7th child and only boy because God wanted me to swallow my pride and have to explain to everybody, forever, that NO, we weren’t ‘trying for a boy,’ it just happened that way, born at home in 1998

Shasta: The Equuschick’s hubby, born in 1982. I used to babysit him and he has long been one of my favorite people. He sings, he plays guitar, he makes us laugh. He grew up, joined the Army, went to Iraq, lost his hearing, lost his bearings, moved to Texas, came to visit us a few times over the years, one day started coming to visit the EC instead of us, found his bearings and came out here to marry his best friend in November of ’08. Their first kiss was at their wedding. He’s going to college and working to support his family.

The Pirate, The Ladybug, and a third little girl whose blog name escapes me (BLUSH) are Shasta’s and the Equuschick’s

Strider: The HG’s hubby, born in 1983- He helped us move in to this house in 2008 when he hardly knew us because he’s just that kind of guy. Plays the piano, composes his own music, sings, fixes things, and makes us laugh. He and she were friends for five years and then one day in May he said, “Hello!?” and a few days later she said, “Ohhhh.  Hi!” and the next October they were wed- the approximately 200 wedding guests witnessed their first kiss.

Tea Chemist (TC): College grad girlfriend of the HG’s and then all of us, who lived with us for one summer and whom we love dearly.

Granny Tea: The DHM’s Mom, ageless and timeless, who has always allowed the grand-daughters to dress her up in ridiculous outfits for outlandish Tea Parties, and whose maiden name begins with T.

G-pa: The DHM’s Dad, born shortly after the ark landed, who, sadly, has dementia, but we don’t let that depress us.  Passed away in spring of 2012.

Blynken (’04) and Nod (’06)– our unofficial godsons and part-time foster sons. We met their mother, a single parent, on a Sunday night in 2006 when she was living in a women’s shelter, and on Monday night my family kept Blynken here while I stayed at the hospital with her while Nod was born. I got to hold him first.It’s complicated.  They are here most weekends, and sometimes we have periods where they live with us for a couple weeks, go home for two days, and then come back for two weeks.

Collectively we like music, books, Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, Wendell Berry, P.G. Wodehouse, Lenka, Doc Watson, Mozart, movies, flowers, photography, legos, Star Wars, sewing, baking, feasting, word games, each other, singing, hospitality, living frugally and joyfully, but not necessarily in that order. We live in a large house in the country with cork floors, a corn boiler for radiant heat flooring,a wood stove with wood cut from our own land for burning, in a sheltered niche behind a hill and surrounded by trees for additional protection from the elements.

We buy most of our stuff from thrift shops or yard sales. We dislike mindless commercialism. We are mostly green and crunchy and we are mostly conservative, but we aren’t crunchy cons.

We are pro-life. Some of us are registered libertarians, some of us Republican, and I think we have a couple Independents. One of us is a commy pinko, but we won’t tell which.=) We do believe in charity, but we don’t like socialism or taking other people’s money, in spite of the fact that my father was a Communist when I was a child.  Seriously, he was.  My parents also moved us all to Canada during the Viet Nam war, make of that what you will.

We are human, which means we are also messy, a mass of internal contradictions, far from perfect, sometimes grouchy, often curmudgeonly, but we always strive to be better. At least on our good days.


  1. Kirsten
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I thought you might find some of these videos interesting, and I always find your views on education to be thought-provoking, so I thought I’d send them your way. They’re archived footage, many specifically about changes in education:



    Hope you enjoy!

  2. Lauren
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I am so happy to have found this site!! It seems that I will get some good advice from people who have been where I am now. :) My DH and I are preparing to drive across the country to visit our family for the first time since last Christmas when we moved. I found this site while looking for ideas for food on the road. My husband is an aircraft maintainer with the U.S. Air Force . We have been married for almost two years and we have been living the military life for about 18 months. We are both new Christians, completely new to living on our own and have completely different interests (faith, family, homeschooling, green living… that sort of thing) than almost anyone else we know including our families. It is great to find websites with encouragement. :)

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted August 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      Aw, glad to ‘meet’ you, Lauren. You make me nostagic for the days when my husband was an Air Force aircraft mechanic and we spent time on the road. Have a great trip home to visit your family, and I hope you find some useful tips!

  3. Laurel
    Posted January 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I have been following your blog since the FLDS debacle in Texas. Although I don’t home school my younger sister did for a number of years and I have come to greatly appreciate many home schooler’s approach to life. My husband is a former AF brat who lived in Japan for a total of 6 years. I lived there for 17 months on a church mission.

    Because our second child was born 16 weeks premature and had many serious health issues during his brief 20 week life and my husband’s work as a counselor to students with disabilities we have a significant and ongoing interest in how people deal with disabilities. Therefore, an article on CNN this week about 2 twin brothers in Belgium who were born deaf and now in their 40s had been diagnosed with going blind caught our attention. Belgium has recently changed their laws to allow mentally competent adults who are “suffering” to commit (?) euthanasia. So these two with the apparent blessings of their family decided to die last December rather than face this new challenge.

    Had you seen that news story? If I understood it correctly, Belgium is considering expanding that law to include parents making decisions about their children who may be “suffering.” Seems like the ramifications of such a law could be even more horrendous than it already is.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted January 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t seen the story, but it saddens me so much.

  4. Cindy Belcher
    Posted January 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    I love your blog~I have gotten a lot of help from your insights on various issues. Thank you for taking the time to be a blessing to so many of us :)

    Also, congratulations on the newest addition to your family. She is beautiful!!

  5. Julie
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I am enjoying your blog. Thank you for taking the time to write!

  6. Adrienne
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Curious – first time I am looking at your site. :-) Your grandbaby with the rare lung condition – does it happen to be an ILD? Was thinking from the first description (that was crossed out) that it seemed like it. Was just curious since our 8th baby has an ILD (also very rare) and is on oxygen (she’s 4 now). :-)

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      His first diagnosis was Jeune Syndrome, but that turned out to be wrong, for which we thank God fervently. What does ILD mean?

  7. Posted March 21, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Commie pinko, eh? Now I am intrigued. Glad to follow you for a few years now as well as to meet you guys. :)

  8. Posted September 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    hello, found your blog while searching randomly for Gordon info.
    As most of your quotes came from my site http://www.janandcoragordon.co.uk/
    I’d appreciate a link to it.

    Cora Gordon was 3 years older not younger, and a couple more mistakes in there that could be better put right.

    K Bryant

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted September 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      It took me a while to figure out what you were talking about- it would have been helpful to provide the link to the post you are referring to (this one: http://thecommonroomblog.com/2009/07/found-at-the-thrift-shop.html). I did link to the source of my quotes, although I just checked and learned the website is now defunct, so I updated using archive.org.
      Are you saying that the website I linked to was yours, and you’re asking me to update my link, or are you saying that the website I linked to plagiarized your work? I can’t tell.

  9. Jimi Hall
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Your “about us” is the best introduction ever. Nice to meet you!

    I’m Jimi Hall on Instagram.

  10. Margaret Park
    Posted July 11, 2014 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    I just read your 2007 blog about children’s book illustrators in which you mention a Mary Clemmitt, illustrator. She was listed as an illlustrator in an old book you had with many illustrations. I am trying to find illustrations about this illustrator, as she was one of three sisters who were cousins of my grandmother. She lived in Baltimore, MD most of her life. Do you know of any books with her illustrations? any other info on her? Any help will be much appreciated. Thank you in advance!
    Margaret Park

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted July 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know anything else about her, sorry. But what a fun connection for you!

  11. 6 arrows
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I made a fun discovery this week. At a public library in our vicinity, I found a piano/vocal score for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, and, in paging through the book later at home, playing the music and reading the lyrics, I came across a song entitled “The Old Gumbie Cat.” With lyrics that begin, “I have a Gumbie Cat in mind. Her name is Jennyanydots…” 😉

    Which of course brought to mind a fine internet family of whom I am becoming rather fond. :-)

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted October 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      How fun!

  12. THZ
    Posted August 15, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Sweet, nice to meet you all! God bless!

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