Friday, July 14, 2017

July Daybook

For Today

Looking out my window...it's raining. It's also cold for a July day. 

I am thinking...about the road trip/camping trip we will be taking at the end of the summer with my older kids. We are having a planning meeting this weekend. 

I am thankful...for my home, for my family and friends, that my children are happy and healthy, and that God is for me!

One of my favorite things...is hearing my children laugh. Sophie is upstairs with her friend Hannah this morning, and they have been laughing and laughing! Christian has a great laugh, too! He often bursts out laughing over something he's reading, watching, or just thinking about.  

I am creating...cloth napkins! I had this material and I occasionally used it as a table cloth.  We've stopped buying napkins and paper towels, so I made these!


I am wearing...jeans and a T-shirt. I had on shorts and a cute sleeveless shirt because I thought we might go to the lake again today, but it's going to rain all day. 

I am reading ...
Hard Times in Paradise: An American Family's Struggle to Carve Out a Homestead in California's Redwood Mountains by David and Micki Colfax (They also wrote Homeschooling for Excellence -the first homeschooling book I read), No Impact Man by Colin Beavan, and Zero Waste Home: The ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your waste by Bea Johnson


I am hoping...that the dance we have been practicing for church goes well.  I'm sure it will!  I'm excited that we will be performing in a few weeks!  

I am learning...that I can live with less, and that buying things won't ever make me happier. I'm also learning a lot about our plastic problem, and that I can make a difference by simply bringing my own water bottle and using reusable cloth bags at stores. 

In my kitchen...I have joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, and we get fresh vegetables every other week. This week we have been snacking on sugar snap peas and cucumbers. Last night I used swiss chard ( which I had never had before), summer squash, and basil in a zucchini frittata. It was so yummy! Sophie and her friend Hannah loved it!


In the school room...Christian only has the final test to do and then he will be finished with his VLACS creative writing class. Then only a couple weeks left of Advanced Algebra and 11th grade will be completed!  

In my garden...we have jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, cilantro,  sugar snap peas, cucumber, lettuce, one onion (the others didn't make it), and oregano.


A moment from my day

Check out more Daybooks at thesimplewoman.blogspot.com.




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Zero Waste Lifestyle

Many years ago I watched a documentary called Bag It, and for a while I tried to minimize my use of disposable plastics.  But it didn't last long. Soon those cloth bags got left behind when I went to the grocery store, and I eventually forgot about using them.
And  I am embarrassed to say that I have not always recycled. I remember when our town started requiring us to recycle-I  still didn't most of the time. And when all of my children lived at home (there were 7 of us all together) we took out a bag of trash everyday! Even with three of us in the house now we were taking a bag to the dumpster every other day. This is crazy!

Over the last number of months I have become a minimalist. The next natural progression is to lesson my trash. I have been so impressed with the people who promote a Zero Waste lifestyle. I want to be like them! I feel like I have finally woken up, and while I don't think our family will have "zero" waste, we are working towards having much less waste.

Here are some of the things we are doing:

  • buying from the bulk bins at a local co-op using mason jars and small cloth bags
  • bringing cloth bags to the grocery store and farmers market
  • composting with our community gardeners
  • recycling
  • not using plastic water bottles
  • using cloth napkins and towels instead of napkins and paper towels 


Friday, May 5, 2017

No Spending 6 Week Challenge

I made a decision halfway through last month that I wasn't going to spend any extra money. I have enough each month, but just enough, and I haven't been saving any. We are hoping to go on a road trip this summer, and we need money for that.  My other reason for not wanting to spend money is that I don't want extra stuff coming into our home. I want to use what we have-and be thankful for it!

It just so happens that some friends and I started a Bible study on the book of Daniel. We all decided to give up something, like expensive foods, sweets, or extra spending, for 6 weeks. So, now I have accountability!  I've been doing well, although I did buy a large ice coffee yesterday.  Giving up my ice coffee in the afternoon is the hardest!  So, now I'm making a pot of coffee in the morning and putting it in the refrigerator. Then in the afternoon, I can have ice coffee without spending extra money!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Meaningful Things

There are some things in our lives that have special meaning. When we see them remind us of a wonderful times with friends and family. These Pathway Readers do that for me. I have had them since Andrew was in kindergarten, and all five of my kids used them when learning to read.  They have stories about close families and life on a farm. We would snuggle on the couch and take turns reading every other page.

I would not have even considered getting rid of my Pathway Readers-until about a week ago. I had already gone through all of my books deciding what to sell and what to give away, and these were definitely staying!  But as I have gone back through the areas of my home that I've already cleaned out, I'm still finding things that I really don't need!   I don't want to sell them, but I'll give them to a family who will enjoy them as much as we did.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Steps on this Journey to Minimalism

For years I have struggled with clutter and keeping an orderly home. Nowadays the house stays clean, and I can have guests over at the drop of a hat. Finally! But how did I get here?

First thing in the morning I put anything away anything left out from the night before.
I love waking up to a clean house!  For the last couple years, my routine has been as soon as I come downstairs, while the coffee is brewing, I put away the few items that the kids might have left out. Next I fill the sink with sudsy water for the breakfast dishes and any glasses from the night before. After breakfast everything gets cleaned up and put away, then we are ready for homeschooling.

The kids wash most of the dishes they use.
Two household jobs that I have always done for our family are hand washing dishes and mopping floors. Now Christian does all the mopping, and Sophie washes dishes sometimes. But a few months back I asked the kids to wash their own dishes right after they eat. I've been doing this, too. They don't always do it, but they do it enough that it has cut my dish washing time in half.  I keep a small dish drainer on one side of the sink and when I'm in the kitchen I quickly put away the few dishes in it. This has helped so much!

I gave away all our books that we can get at the library. 
I have a weakness for books, but I rarely read a book twice, so they just sit on the shelf.  I used to to have two large bookcases chock full of books-plus boxes of homeschooling books that weren't being used.  Now I only have a few books, and the kids have a number of books they own kept in their rooms.  All of  the extra homeschooling books and educational materials are going to a curriculum sale next week!  Our librarian has told me that they can get almost any book I want through inter-library loan.

I went through every closet and drawer in our house and gave away or threw away all duplicates, or things we don't need or use. 
Even though my house is kept clean, the closets and drawers were messy most of the time. Filled to the brim with duplicates of everyday items and stuff we weren't using or didn't need.  I went through everything! This took me about two weeks. I also organized and put all like items together.

I organized the Fridge
This is what inspired me to go through every area of my home. There was no rhyme or reason to where our food was placed in the refrigerator. I asked Sophie to label on post-it-notes things like eggs, meat, veggies, breads, milk and juice, and leftovers.  It only took a few days for us to put things in the right spot. Now leftovers are being eaten!

Every item has a home.
I didn't think this would ever happen. It was because we owned way too much stuff! The answer was just getting rid of it!  Now I can easily find anything in our home. And I know what we have, because we don't have too much.

Saying no when friends want to give us things, and not buying new things.
This is a new one, and it's a challenge!  Today after church a friend wanted to give me a couple pairs of shorts for Sophie. She does need shorts, but I new she wouldn't like them. Normally, I would have taken them anyway, and they would have sat in my closet for a while. I was strong and I said, "No thank you".  One day this week we went to our neighbor's play, and there was  also a book fair going on. Sophie really wanted a book, but I said, "No, we can get it at the library".

I have the kids put their things away after using.
This is taking some time, and I still put things away from them.  I'm trying to be more aware and remind them to do it. I know we'll get there.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Some Other Things We've Been Doing

We have been doing other things besides decluttering and organizing.


Sophie is working on her bullet journal.  Next to her you can see the 1000 piece puzzle we are putting together.


                                                                  I made an apron!


             We visited friends out in the country. Their animals greeted us as we got out of the car!


Christian learned Power Point this week.  He got an A+ on a project  he worked on for Theater, Cinema & Film  class!


Sophie made two pies for the pie auction at church. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Finding Even More Things to Go Through

This is my second week after adopting a minimalist lifestyle.  It is so freeing to get rid of the things we don't need anymore, that we will never use again, and to realize that I don't have to hold onto things forever. I can let them go!

                           
                              I thought I was done, but I'm still finding papers to go through.


I threw away this pile of papers after going through my file box. Some of it I've kept since the early 90's! I organized the papers I am keeping. I took pictures of some special letters from friends and family before tossing. I did keep some cute cards that the kids made me when they were little.


I found this attachment for my sewing machine. It had never been out of the box, and I've had it for 17 years! I tossed it, because I know I'll never use it.


Here is a knot-a-quilt craft project that sophie and I started 6 years ago. I know we'll never finish it. And she was fine getting rid of it.

I really think I've finished going through everything now. We'll see what happens next!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

I never thought I would get rid of this....until today

My Mom and my grandmother made these for a craft fair over 20 years ago. I thought they were so cute, and my mom gave me one as a gift! Years ago it used to look nice in my living room, holding the crocheting projects I would often work on. I never even considered getting rid of it-until today!


But now it sits in a closet. It has certainly seen better days! The ribbon looks like it was chewed by one of our cats we don't have anymore, the bottom looks worn out, and the inside cover is ripped!


                                                       
                                                          This is what was inside it.



Here are some small weaving looms I bought at a homeschool convention years ago.  I pictured the kids and I weaving in the living room after the book work was done- it didn't happen.  I tired it a few times, I couldn't get the hang of it and it sat in this basket in the closet. I will sell these at the curriculum sale in a couple weeks.


The basket is going to the dumpster-but I have a picture of it! I kept these. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I thought I was done

When I thought I had gone through everything in the house I saw this..


This is what I call the school drawer


This is everything laid out. Look at all those dried out glue sticks! And how many rulers do we need? Sophie has another one in her room.


These items I want to keep, but I will put them some place else. Ok, the magnet roll is one of those things I want to use "someday".  Maybe if I don't use it in a month, I will give it away.  We do use glue gun for craft projects, and we need those eye protectors for science experiments-but really, we never use them-even when the book tells us to!


Here is what I threw out. 


This is the drawer now!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

12 Things I had the Hardest Time Parting With

Here are twelve items from my home that I have hung onto for years, that I have finally gotten out of my life!


How long owned? 15 years Times used? 1 I got this at a Pampered Chef party. Why did I keep it if we never used it?  Because it's Pampered Chef!

How long owned? 20 years Times used? 5.  I got this when we first started homeschooling 20 years ago. I thought it was such a great idea to make my own games to reinforce what we were learning. I think I made 5 games with it.

How long owned? 10 years Times used? 0 My mother-in-law gave these to me around the same time. She is an amazing quitlter and I wanted to learn to quilt.  She did help me get started, and she and I made some cute quilted pillows together, but I never used these books. I kept them because, well, she gave them to me.

 How long owned? 11 years  I did get a lot of use out of this book. But since my Kitchen Aid mixer broke 4 years ago, I use new recipies for things like pizza dough, and I no longer need this.

How long owned? collected throughout the years  Why do I need so many tubes of cortizone????  I tried to remember the last time we used this, I think Sophie needed it once last summer. I kept one, and threw out the rest.

How long owned? 7 years Times used? 0 I was given this in a box of science paraphernalia. I thought Christian might need it for an experiment. Nope, he's never used it.

How long owned? 8 years Times used? 0 I bought a few of these, I used one, and this has sat in a drawer since.

How Long owned? 17 years These books have meant a lot to me. I have read them both twice. "Confessions of an Organized Homemaker" was the first home organizing book I bought in 2000. And "Sink Reflections" was purchased in  2006. It's time to pass them on.

How Long owned? 16 years Times used? not many I got this when my oldest was in 3rd or 4th grade. I thought it was the coolest! But realistically, my kid's preferred other ways for learning the times tables.

How long owned? 27 years Times used? not many  I think I bought this the first year I was married. Sure I used it some throughout the years, but mostly it stayed under my kitchen sink, shoved in the back behind the cleaning supplies and bags. I certainly haven't used it in the last 5 years.  I thought everyone had to have one of these, even though I water my one plant under the faucet!

How long owned? 20 years  I love these math blocks! I got them out of my favorite homeschooling catalog. I wanted to keep them for when I have grandkids someday! But they are missing some pieces, and my someday grandchildren can play with other things. 

How long owned? 17 years Why did I keep this? The kids didn't play with it that much, but I thought it was neat, so it sat in a drawer for years with the last remaining toys.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Decluttering and Minimalism

I hate clutter! It is overwhelming to me and causes anxiety. I can't focus and enjoy the moment when there is clutter around me! Some of my family members can't understand this. I used to move furniture around about once every couple of months. I said it was  because I like change, but I think it was mostly because it forced me to declutter!  I have battled with clutter all of my adult life-until two years ago. My three older kids had moved out on their own, then some life changing things happened for me.  As a result, Christian, Sophie and I moved into a small townhouse.  I sold and gave away most of our bulky furniture,  I went through everything we had, and after years and years of dealing with stuff, I was able to finally pare down and get rid of a ton of stuff that we didn't need. The kid's still had a lot of personal items, but it was  mostly contained in their own rooms.

Our new home had simple furnishings, and it was easy to keep clean. There were large closets with nice shelving in them, and they were mostly bare. It felt wonderful! I could finally breath! But as the months went by, friends would give me bags of used clothes to go through. If it was for Sophie, she would go through it, grab a few items, then the bag would end up in my closet. If the bag was for me, I would look through it because I thought I "should", even though I really don't like wearing used clothing, then it would also sit in my closet. I have one wonderful friend who I love dearly, who would often get free things in the "still good shed" at the dump and drop them off for my kids. One time she helped someone move and she brought a carload of games, clothes, books, magazines, pens and more to us!  I felt bad saying no- so more and more things went into the closets-until they were stuffed full!

I have been desiring to live more simply again. I've heard about minimalism on some blogs, and last week I decided to watch the documentary called "Minimalism: a documentary on the important things".  Ten minutes in, I paused it and decluttered two drawers in my kitchen. First I tackled my junk drawer. It now holds some tools, batteries, a small bag of nails, a few flashlights, two sharpie markers. and one pair of scissors.  Next I went through a drawer full of measuring cups and spoons. I had collected so many over the last 26 years! I kept 2 sets of measuring cups, and two sets of measuring spoons. Plus an extra Tablespoon and one 3/4 cup. Then I watched the rest of  the documentary.

 Over the next four days I went through every drawer, every closet, and every nook and cranny of my home (except Christian's room which he keeps pretty neat), and only kept what we needed or wanted to use now-not someday! There are only a few things I am keeping  that I don't use: a delicate crocheted tablecloth from my grandmother, and the dress I wore to my son's wedding, and the kid's portfolios from each school year. My goal was to know what and where every item in our home is, and to group like items. One plus is that I found $94 I didn't know I had!  Four days, and one sore back later, I think I have accomplished it! Sophie even joined it! She spent one evening until midnight cleaning her room and closet. It is done!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

February & March Reading Log

Christian (16)
The Hobbit by J RR Tolkien
Saved by Angels by Bruce VanNetta
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Novelization by Alexander Freed
Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

Sophie (11)
RubyLee and me by Shannon Hitchcock
Where you'll Find Me by Natasha Friend
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
Bounce by Natasha Friend
Perfect by Natasha Friend
The Summer I saved the World in 65 Days by Michelle Webber Hurwitz
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Prisoners dilemma  by Trenton Lee Stewart
100 Inventions that made History

Books Sophie and I listened to on CD:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April Daybook

For Today: April 17, 2017

Looking out my window...it is sunny and warm. A beautiful spring day!

I am thinking...about the wonderful Easter day we had yesterday!

I am thankful....that Sophie is able to take horse riding lessons.


One of my favorite things....spending the weekend with all my kids!


I am wearing....jeans, a black long sleeve shirt and a pink sweater. 

I am creating....a Bullet Journal! 

I am reading...."Year of No Clutter" by Eve Schaub - I had read her book "Year of no Sugar" and I liked it, but I think this one is kind of boring. 

I am watching....The Voice on Hulu

I am listening to....The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Spear with my daughter, Sophie. 

I am hoping...to take a road trip with my older boys this summer. We just started talking about it this weekend, so I'd better start saving!

I am learning.... bullet journaling!  It's a journal where  I keep track of every area in my life: menu plans, to-do lists, books to read, habit tracker, homeschooling curriculum, diary, monthly calendar... really anything!  You can be as simple or as creative as you want with it!
In my kitchen....One of my new habits is eating out as little as possible, so we are trying  to eat every meal at home. It takes more planning, but so far so good, and the kids are on board. Last week a few things we made were: crock pot chili, sweet potato burritos, beef stew,  fish with roasted brussel sprouts and butternut squash, and tortellini & sauce

In the school room....we're trying something new! For the last two weeks Sophie has been using a  Fun-schooling book by Thinking Tree.  She gets to pick books from the library on subjects she wants to learn about. Then each day she reads from those books and chooses her own copywork and spelling words from them. Oh, and there's lots of coloring and drawing, too!  She seems to be enjoying it! 

A recent photo:
At McDonald's with 4 of my kids after seeing Isaiah's concert last week.


Check out more Daybooks at thesimplewoman.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Full Day

I enjoy homeschooling, and I know that my job is important, but I wanted to journal some of our days so I can see what I am getting accomplished. Today was a full day. In the morning Sophie and I went grocery shopping. Christian stayed home and worked on his online courses (VLACS). Sophie and I have been taking a cooking class on Wednesday's and have been learning about how to read food labels. I was so impressed to see Sophie taking the time to reading almost every items label that we put in our cart. And if she read that something had corn syrup, too many grams of sugar or wasn't made from whole grains she suggested that we not buy it. I have been doing this for years, and to see her do it, made me so happy!

It was nice to come home and find that Christian had mopped the whole downstairs!  We all put away the groceries, then Sophie and I went back out to get the last of our groceries at the food co-op.  We had a quick lunch when we got back.

After lunch Christian and I read his Biology textbook together. A couple of times I stopped and had him tell back to me what we read. Then Sophie and I listened to Little Women on CD while drawing. I copied birds out of the book "Backyard Birds of Summer".  Sophie colored while we listened since she didn't get to on Friday. Next Sophie read "Archimedes and the Door of Science" while Christian helped me do laundry. Then I walked to the new bank down the road to open an account-it ended up taking an hour.

Christian spent the rest of the afternoon editing a movie review he is doing for fun. Sophie and I played scrabble, a game that I am addicted to lately, and she beat me! We had soup and salad for dinner, and then headed over to the YMCA with our neighbors. Christian swam with Troy, Sophie played Racquetball with Courtney, and I took a Zumba class.

After we got home I watched half of Captain America with Christian and Troy. I ended up going to bed early because I started getting a runny nose. Just as I got into bed, a friend called and wanted to know if she could sleep over. I didn't yet know the reason, so I prayed for the hour until she got here.  We stayed up until 1am talking. I was thankful that I could be there for her.

State House Field Trip

Last week I told Sophie that I needed a field trip! I called a friend and we decided on going to the state house. It turns out that a  friend of hers, who is also a homeschooling mom, gives tours at the state house. We also invited another homeschooling family to join us. Sophie learned about how laws are past, and some history of our state. Afterwards we went shopping then had lunch at Pizza Hut.





Saturday, January 7, 2017

Our Week January 2-6

We had a productive week of homeschooling after a relaxing two week Christmas vacation.  We didn't do any KONOS unit studies, but we started some new things.

Sophie 6th Grade:
Math-A page a day in Key to Fractions book 4, and a chapter a day in Life of Fred Liver
Language Arts- Time 4 Learning: homophones, idioms, and informational article, and Greek and Latin roots
Spanish-Sophie started using Rosetta Stone this week and loved it! On her own she wrote out most of the words she learned, and practiced using them.
Rummy Roots-I love this card game for learning Greek and Latin roots! We have used it since my oldest son was in 4th grade (he's 25 now). Sophie learned the words with flashcards and games on Quizlet, then each day we played a round or two of the Pre-Rummy game.
Typing- Sophie is finally going to learn touch typing. This week she used Typing Club.
Science (KONOS)-  Read about Neils Bohr on Wikipedia

Christian 11th Grade:
Bible-Psalms & Journaling
Reading- Eli by Bill Myers
Algebra-The Quadratic Formula
Theater, Cinema, and Film Production-Wardrobe
Biology-Cells
Writing- Christian has been keeping a detailed daily journal. He is going to be starting an online creative writing class next week.
Art-Drawing from this week's art lesson:

Check out more Homeschool wrap-ups here!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

December Reading Log

Sophie:
Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Adventures at Shelby Stables by Julie Driscoll
Marie Curie's Search for Radium by Beverly Birch and Christian Birmingham

Christian:
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz
Eli by Bll Myers