New efficiences

Well, in keeping with resolutions for the new year and all that, I've taken myself in hand to clean out, clean up, and generally deal with the piled-up disorganization of my home.

Due to some health issues this past year, I just did not do a good job of keeping up.  Know what I mean?  Drawers, closets, shelves, cabinets, basements, all in desperate need of some serious attention.  As I've decided that a fundamental truth of a homeschooling mom's life is "Ten Minutes at a Time," I need to tackle this mammoth job in bite-sized pieces.  FlyLady would be proud of me (a.k.a. "baby steps")!

Today it was washing and sterilizing the kitchen trash can between bag changes.  Yesterday it was the pegboard of miscellaneous stuff in the basement stairs.  Saturday it was bathroom blinds, screens, windows, curtain, and rugs (yes, more than ten minutes!).  But it's been very encouraging to see that it's working.  I can point to Progress.

Here are some changes that I've added this month to help streamline and simplify:

- I bought a microphone/headset for our telephone so I can cook, fold clothes, or iron while chatting.  This solution is stellar!  Gone is the guilt that I'm Wasting Time talking on the phone when I could be doing something toward my to-do list. 

- Hubby spent Saturday mounting two 8' poles in our unfinished basement for extended closet space.  We hung zip garment bags, and now I have a wonderful place for the overflow of winter coats and off-season clothing.  I've realized that we are not using our vertical space in the basement well--lots of lost storage space, so we need to think more shelving.

- As much as I love a decorator look in my kitchen, the fact is, mine is a high-use facility and not that big.  So I've opted for efficiency and redone my counters with appliances, cutting boards, etc., right where I need them instead of buried in a cupboard for visual appeal.  It's a cluttered view now, but I'm loving it and prefer to call it The Cottage Look.

- My latest efficiency is our school schedule.  We had gotten rather lax, but for us that translates into a dragged-out school day with little free time and frustrated gals all over the place.  So I set up a reasonable schedule and let SweetPea know that her privileges for the coming day are tied to her honoring the schedule and personal responsibilities today.  It's been a peaceful, good solution, and I think we're both happier campers.

My next goal is to (groan) clean out books.  They're everywhere.  We love them.  But since we've taken to stacking them two-deep on the shelves, I think something needs to be done.  Maybe I'll make a rule for myself that I have to pick one or two a day to bless Goodwill with...



Some good stuff in school

It was slow going last week trying to get back into the mental mode of school, but we did it.  Both SweetPea and I are glad to be back at it--we just seem to do better with a schedule.

We finished a very interesting book last week, Dr. Jenner and the Speckled Monster.  It's the story of smallpox, the ghastly impact on our world over the centuries, and the discovery of the vaccine that literally conquered this "monster" and changed the world.  I highly recommend the book even as an adjunct to a science program.  In fact, it's a fascinating read for anyone, and certainly throws a different slant on history.

I've said it here before, but I'm really delighted with our math curriculum, Teaching Textbooks.  I hear comments regularly from SweetPea of how much she likes the pace of it, the clear instruction, and how well she is understanding the foundational concepts of each topic.  Thank You, Lord!  This is music to my ears after a couple of years of curriculum-hopping to find what would work for her after we finished elementary Singapore.  I think we can just stick with it now through high school and expect good results.

And this week we will begin Great Expectations by Dickens as a read-aloud.  From the looks of the study notes, we'll be awash with new vocabulary.  A decidedly wonderful way to learn words! 

I'm using Writer's INC this semester as the basis of essay writing study, reading and discussing each of us with our own copy.  I love this resource and have been trying to use it more as a study text for some time, so this is a great chance to do that.

So we're off to a good start for 2010, and I'm so thankful for this amazing privilege of homeschooling! 


My new blog

Just wanted to invite you to visit my new blog, Feasting in the Word.  You can find it here.  It's my place to talk about the good things about the Lord that I'm learning. 

Do stop by when you can!


Ring in the new

Happy 2010!  My prayer for you is that you will know the "blessing of the Lord which maketh rich and adds no sorrow to it"!

We're already enjoying the sense of new beginnings around here...

...A new patio roof is about halfway done, with our Christian builders diligently working whenever it's not too cold to do so.  I think they're taking off Thursday; do ya think 13 degrees for a high is too cold to work outside?!

...Back to school today (yay! three cheers for Routine!), with some new directions before us.

...Some new and improved kitchen organization is making things better and more enjoyable in the cook's department, and I'm loving my new over-the-sink cutting board with hole/strainer basket.  How did I ever live without it??

...And of course the excitement that comes with new goals.  I love that about the Lord, how He is ever able to make all things new.  I don't know about you, but I'm really ready for His renewing touch on a lot of things.

I like the bracing effect of goal-setting each January.  Gives me a chance to closely examine things, decide what has not been working, what priorities and processes have changed, and what can be improved.  This past year some health issues really dragged me down, so it's safe to say that nearly every area of my life needs improvement.  Praise God, He is the "glory and lifter of my head"!  I'm depending on Him day by day to truly be my New and Re-Newed life this year.