Monday, January 30, 2012

Conquering Clutter Challenge 2 - Completed

Finally, I have completed challenge 2.  And it certainly was a challenge finding the time to get it done.  Where did all these books come from? 
 First things to go were the piano books.  Unfortunately, the piano is to the left of the bench and so all the books migrate to the homeschool area.  I went through those and relegated them to another shelf. 
Kitty tents and tubes were put out for the cats to play with. 
Art supplies and general school supplies went into a basket on another shelf.
I then separated each child's books into what they were using at this time.  The "maybe" books or the "next year" books were packed into a labeled box that is now stored with other homeschool items not currently being used.
I also put all my teacher's books, answer keys and lesson plans together.
I think standing the books on end will make it easier to find what we are looking for rather than digging through stacks every day.  
It doesn't look as nice as I wanted it to, but it will work for now.  I'm looking for an inexpensive book shelf for all these things, but our budget is super-tight right now.  So here is the after:

Now, if I can just get my students to keep it looking this way, it would be great!
Please join me in my next challenge which will be posted this week!

Friday, January 27, 2012

You Know You're Computer Challenged When...

  • You have to reset your password...again
  • Windows close unexpectedly
  • You delete something you meant to save
  • You think "cut and paste" is for kindergartners
  • No one will let you use their computer
  • You think "defrag" is some sort of puppet character
  • You say "turn on" the computer
  • Your 2nd grader fixes something for you
  • You clean the computer monitor with glass cleaner

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Truth About Having Pets

As you can see in my bio, I live with a lot of animals.  We have two small indoor dogs, a dog who lives in the garage as well as seven indoor cats.

I am here to tell you the truth about having all these animals.  IT IS WAY TOO MUCH WORK!
We have 3 bath-tub sized catboxes that have to be scooped constantly; not to mention the random puddles found here and there. They are always jumping up on things and knocking my things down.  They are constantly on my counter with their dirty, little paws so I go through a lot of disinfecting wipes.
 Their lovely, fluffy fur covers everything.  I like to wear black a lot, so you can imagine what I look like when I go out.  When we get dressed for church, we can't sit down before we leave or we'll be covered in fur!
As for the dogs, one is approximately 100 years old, has no teeth and is practically blind--still going strong though. He likes to eat his dog food and then leave large puddles in thanks.  We own stock in all the paper towel companies and I would also never recommend laminate flooring for this type of dog.
Our other dog is a 7 year old male Papillon who has never quite gotten the hang of potty training.  He likes to lift his leg on anything upright.  I am constantly washing furniture covers, floors, walls and drapes.  We go through cases of the odor remover of the week.
Now, don't get me wrong.  I am an animal lover at heart. Why else would I have all these animals?  I just needed to vent about the time and money necessary to take care of them all.  It certainly adds up!
So, remember me (and pray for me) when you are scooping your tiny little cat box, buying your tiny bag of dog food and managing on two rolls of paper towel per week.  I'll be thinking about you and envying you!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Conquering Clutter Challenge 2

Today, I am going to reveal my conquering clutter challenge 2:  our homeschool materials.  Currently, they are stored on a bench in our dining room.  Lovely!  Here is a photo of the before:
It's a little blurry, but you can certainly get an idea of what I'm dealing with here.  It is certainly an embarrassing sight and not a good example to my students.  So, I am ready to grit my teeth and begin.  I will be sure to show you the "after", hopefully by this weekend if all goes well.  Wish me luck and perhaps you'd like to join me in this challenge!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Encouraging Thankfulness

I believe that in order to be closer to God, we must cultivate a thankful heart throughout the day.
As soon as my eyes open in the morning, my first thought is to thank God for another day, for my family and for yesterday's blessings.
When I pull up my shades, I look out at my yard and see my little birds at their feeder or the beautiful sunrise and thank God for these wonderful gifts.
Even a delicious cup of coffee can inspire thankfulness!
In our family, food is never eaten without a blessing first.
When we find something we've been looking for, we thank God.  When the end of the month comes and we're short on money and miraculously a check comes in or I sell something unexpectedly on Ebay, we thank God.
Even something as mundane as finding a good parking space in the pouring rain can be cause for thanking God.
I try to say all these "thank you's" out loud, so my children can hear me.  I point out beautiful skies or flowers and the wonder of nature to my children, too, so that they can join me in rejoicing over God's gifts to us.
A spirit of thankfulness can be a glorious thing to aspire to and more easily attained if we pay attention to all of God's gifts, no matter how small.

Monday, January 23, 2012

1st Clutter Conquering Assignment: Completed

For all of you that have been waiting with baited breath for the results of my first clutter-conquering assignment (the top of my washer and dryer), here, once again, is the before photo:
It wasn't as time-consuming a project as I had first anticipated.  First, I had to find a home for a few items.  
There was the quilt, the two pairs of snow pants, a few cookbooks, a pile of rotary cutter mats that were supposed to be sold on Ebay, a bin of mismatched socks, a batch of scarfs and mittens as well as the kid's bowling shirts.
I also emptied the basket of lint, gathered all the coins to put in our "Disney fund" bank and and threw away anything else I didn't recognize.
The "finding a home" part was a little harder and took some thought as well as purging elsewhere (mainly of cookbooks).  I was able to give just about everything a home.  What was left went into the donation bag.
So here is the after:
Ta Da!  Now I really need to think before I put something on top of the washer and dryer again.  That, I think, is the key to keeping it organized.
If I can't find a spot to put something, then I  need to decide if I really WANT to find a place for it.  If I do, then I must get rid of something else in order to give it a dedicated space.  It's tough love time.
I hope this article will inspire you to join me on the road to conquering clutter.  There is strength in numbers and we can at least cheer each other on!
Tomorrow, my next assignment.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Found: New Year's Resolutions

In going through some stacks of papers, I found my New Year's Resolutions list.  I thought I might share them with you.
  • Eat an apple a day
  • Drink more water
  • Eat a raw carrot each day
  • Eat a prune each day
  • Take more Vitamin C
  • Eat oatmeal each day
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
  • Take time for praying/devotions morning & evening

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Hardest Part of Homeschooling Is.....

I have come to the conclusion that the hardest part of homeschooling is...the end.  The time when your child has finished all their homeschooling goals and has to move on in their life.  
All those years of being so close to your child and then you have to send them out into the "real" world.  Driving, working, going to college--it all seems to come at one time and seems more overwhelming to a homeschooler and a homeschooling mom.
Do you just force them out and hope they survive?  Do you help them gradually assimilate?
My thoughts are that one baby step at a time is the best process.  Say, a part-time job to begin with.  Then, save some money to get their license and buy a car.  Perhaps at the same time, taking a few online college courses to get their feet wet.  
Let them feel it out and find out how comfortable they are with all these changes.  Don't push them to make major decisions they are not ready for.  We've been by their side for 18 some-odd years and we need to be there now.  They are like hothouse flowers--you can't just put them out in the ground and expect them to bloom without a little help.  
Have frequent talks about how they're feeling about all the changes and be a sounding board for their concerns.  
But encourage them to move forward.  I know it's sad, but we must help them become strong adults, looking foward with excitement to the future but at their own pace.  Don't rush them now after all these  wonderful years of homeschooling.
I would love to hear your comments on this article!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Conquering My Clutter

I have a confession to make.  I struggle with disorganization and clutter.  There, I've said it--the secret is out.  Actually, it's been at least a 20 year struggle.  The longer I live, the more clutter I have (not to mention the more children).  
I can't take it anymore.  This is it--I must conquer the clutter.  And by airing my problem through my blog, perhaps it will give me the big push I need to seriously get started.
I have uploaded photos of different areas of my home that are the most troublesome and I will share them in the coming weeks, as well as the after photos.
OK, now you've all seen the top of my washer and dryer  that is located in my laundry/sewing room.
So, let the games begin!  I plan to work on this project this weekend and will show my results on Monday.
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Homeschool Doldrums

Since Christmas and New Years, I'm having a hard time getting our homeschool back on track.  As a matter of fact, I'm having a hard time getting anything back on track.  Our Christmas decorations are still up!
We are at least getting a lesson of math in each day, but beyond that, it's a struggle.  Yesterday we started using the book "Take Ten for Writers" by Bonnie Neubauer which uses fun writing prompts with a ten minute time limit. That was fun!  Even I wrote one with the kids.  Just needed to get something down on paper instead of using a keyboard!
I also found "The Way Things Work" by David Macaulay at our local thrift store to use for science until we get back on track with our regular science.
Trying also to get back on schedule with the Sonlight Read-a-Louds.  I'm almost caught up in "Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze" by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis.  We are using the Eastern Hemisphere core by Sonlight.
But that's all we've been doing--oh, and a little of the literature from A Beka's "Of People".
So, I think it's time for the teacher (me!) to make myself focus and get serious again about homeschooling and I think in that way, my 3 students will follow my lead.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Breakfast Pancakes

This morning I had a request for homemade pancakes so I got up a little earlier to put them together.  They are quick and easy and taste delicious--just as good as a box mix.  I serve them with turkey sausage and maple syrup.  Real Vermont maple syrup for some and the fake syrup for others.  They can easily be served with powdered sugar as well.
                     Quick and Easy Pancakes (makes approx. 24)

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
good pinch of kosher salt

Whisk the above ingredients together in a bowl.
In measuring cup whisk together 1 1/2 cups milk and 2 large eggs.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture and whisk gently to get rid of most of the lumps.

Cook at medium heat on non-stick pan or griddle.  When water droplets sizzle when sprinkled on pan,  you are ready to ladle them onto pan.  Turn when bubbles form on edge and begin to form near center.  Serve with syrup and/or powdered sugar.

There, wasn't that easy?  And now you have a happy, satisfied family!