Saturday, December 15, 2018

Our Hanukkah Celebration- It started with a Dreidal

At homeschool co-op this month we had an "International Christmas Party". Well for the most part it was for celebrating Christmas but we also had a segment about Israel and Hanukkah. My friend Juanita and I were in charge of decorating. We worked at having decorations to go along with the 4 highlighted countries which were Sweden, Mexico, Japan and Israel.  I saw some cute Paper Driedal decorations on Pinterest and so my girls made some for me to use at co-op. After co-op they came home and I checked out when Hanukkah was and since it was going on right then we hung them up.

  This is kind off one of those if you give a mouse a cookie sort of stories. :-) The afternoon that I hung them up was the last night of Hanukkah.
   After I hung the Driedals up I figured I should hang of the Star of David that had been a a craft at co-op.

We already had Ken's parents coming over for supper (there was a football game that the guys wanted to watch) and I had chicken out thawing. I figured I should make some traditional Hanukkah food. So I put the chicken into roast following a Jewish family recipe that I found online. It turned out delicious after being rubbed with olive oil, rosemary, thyme and garlic. I also figured we had better make Potato Latkes which my Jewish friend had said were needed for Hanukkah.  We tried this recipe which was completely delicious! I have tried them with wheat flour once and rice flour once - both were great. Then I figured we had better have the traditional cooked apples too - so we did.
 Megan said that if we were going to have a Hanukkah celebration we must have a menorah. I said: "Great, why don't you figure one out?" So she did. Jars, candles and ribbons where pressed into service.
 Then she announced that if we were going to have a menorah we would need to say a blessing while we lighted the candles. Great! Since we didn't know exactly what sort of blessing was supposed to be said at this time she said we could quote Psalm 100 together.
 Since we were celebrating Hanukkah, Ken's mom, Sharyl had fun telling us about the miracle of Hanukkah (the traditional story).

  All in all we had a great time, it was a super simple, spur of the moment celebration but one that will be remembered. The food was delicious (Sharyl also brought a salad which was wonderful if not traditional) and we had a fun time celebrating together.

  We may or may not celebrate Hanukkah again but it was fun this time. I do hope to make potato latkes many more times but not just at this time of year. Do you celebrate Hanukkah or any other Jewish holidays? I would love to hear about your celebrations.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Overflowing With Thankfulness

I am so thankful for a full table of people that I love. This is a fun mixture of some of our kids, niece and nephews, in-laws, sister and friends. We were celebrated the 4th of July which reminds me of how thankfu I am for the country we get to live in
 I have been thinking a lot about thankfulness lately. We could suppose that it is because it was Thanksgiving lately - and that holiday is a good reminder but truly it has been on my mind for quite a bit longer than that. My decluttering and simplifying challenge in October did help to make me think about thankfulness more as well - when I work at going through things I am faced with just how much stuff we have and how abundantly God has provided for us. But my thinking on this subject goes beyond that. I am thankful 😊 that I was raised by parents who were an example to me of being thankful, I have been blessed with knowing other thankful people and reading books that have encouraged me in that - Anne Voskamp's "1,000 Gifts" was one I enjoyed immensely.

  What really has been challenging me and convicting me in the area of thankfulness this year has been my reading of God's word. There are just so many verses that admonish us to be Thankful! I want to share a few of those with you. I also pulled some pictures from a random file this summer - they all are ones that remind me very much of some things that I am very thankful for. I will add captions to them as well as sharing the verses.
Music! It is such a delight to me that my family shares my love of music. Also the state land around our place where we can have fun roaming.
 Philippians 4:6 & 7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
More music! Piano duets are pretty great and I am so thankful for them!

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 
17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
So thankful for sweet baby nephews ( I am very blessed in this regard though they are growing up quickly) and for strawberries and all the other lovely berries that we picked this summer.
 1 Thessalonians 5:17 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
God has blessed us so much with wonderful family (on both sides - we are blessed!) and a wonderful community to live in.
Colossians 2:6 and 7
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

This is the verse that keeps coming up over and over in my mind and convicting me of my need to grow in this area. I need to overflow with thankfulness to God, I should overflow with thankfulness to those around me. Where ever I go and whatever I do this should be what is happening in my life. 

   Is this something you are working on too? May God bless you as you seek His will!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Summer Memories at Voyageurs' National Park

It is a grey, wintery day here but I decided I am going to blog about a fun camping trip that we went on this summer. By the way, I do love winter too and today was a great day - I taught some music lessons this morning and this afternoon Mom and I went on our big buying trip of the year. We bought hundreds of pounds of wheat to grind up to make our bread and other baked goods this year and we also visited another bulk food country grocery where we stocked up on things like oatmeal, split peas, salt, almonds, canning lids, flax seeds, cocoa powder, brown rice, etc. My van was quite loaded down! I personally spent around $250 and got around 600 lbs of food. Mom got a similiar amount (though she was buying to also share with my siblings). 

I have been wanting to write a few more posts about decluttering stories and ideas but my brain is a little to tired for that tonight so I think I will just share some pictures and tid-bits from a trip from this summer.

   In July Ken's sister Beth and her family came out to visit Ken's parents and us. That was really fun. We have spent very little time with them since Beth got married. It is hard because they live way out in Oregon and we are in northern MN. But to be perfectly honest Ken and his siblings just haven't placed a high priority on getting together. Our whole family had gone to their wedding (Megan was quite little) and then we flew out west a couple of years later when their oldest was small and then Ken and I were out for a funeral and met their second child but that was 6 years ago and we hadn't seen them since and they had added another child. 

   So the cousins didn't really know each other at all. But thankfully that didn't stop them at all from having fun. Even with a large age difference and not knowing each other they had a blast together. It was such a blessing. We spent some time being around here at either our house or Ken's parents' house or the state park. We also took them to see the headwaters of the Mississippi. But our bigger adventure was going camping at Voyageurs. Ken's dad rented a pontoon boat for us to use up there. That was a fun experience - when our family had gone there before we had used our canoes and it was super windy and a challenge to traverse the lakes. The pontoon made it pretty easy - though not without it's own challenges. 😏
 Washing dishes while camping can be a fun way to work together.
 The kids found some glorious moss covered rocks and Ken, Mara and I went to check them out too. The place we stayed was truly beautiful - my pictures do not do it justice.

 The swimming was great!
 One morning we were planning on doing some exploring in the pontoon but were having some struggles with getting it started (one simple step was being forgotten) and then it drifted a bit and the guys had to jump out to get it out of the weeds and they got to do a little unplanned "swimming".
 Beth and Kelsey after we did get the boat going. Jonathan was getting a turn with the driving which he greatly enjoyed.
 We were having to be careful to stay out of Canadian waters as we didn't have passports. We did our best but with many of the lakes being split down the middle it was a little hard to tell at times.
 This really old building in an area that is not reachable by land very close to the canadian border. This old building had settled in weird ways leaving a very slanted floor. It was in the hotel that people only go to by boat.
 Coffee-pot falls.
 Islands abound. We had to pay close attention to the map so we didn't loose our way.
 Aaron got a turn with driving too much to his delight.
 It was a bit windy and chilly on the boat. We were thankful for rain coats and sweatshirts.
 One of the special treats of this trip was that we went during blueberry season and the campsite we were at had some of the best blueberry picking that I have ever seen. It was a great year for blueberries. Mara and I had such fun picking!! Some of the others picked some too but they weren't quite so dedicated. We were able to bring a bunch home to freeze and we have still been enjoying them!
 They tasted so good!!

 Campfires are fun!
 My beautiful Megan on one of her exploring ventures. The kids would go exploring and then want to show us all that they had found.
 We love the big rocks up in this area of Minnesota.
Aaron, Megan and Kaleb all tried out tubing behind the boat. They thought it was quite fun!

 All in all we had a very fun trip. It was a blessing to get to spend time with extended family and get to know them better and we had beautiful weather and we sure enjoyed seeing a little more of God's beautiful creation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Grill Gloves Review

Do any of you like to grill or smoke your turkey for Thanksgiving? We don't do that at our house but My brother likes to do that sometimes and I know of others that like to do that as well. These gloves could come in pretty handy for something like that. These are Grilling Gloves. They are heat resistant up to 662 degrees so they can protect you very nicely while working with hot things. I think they would be perfect also for dealing with fires and cooking over a fire when camping.

  Cave Tools sent them to me at no cost if I would do a review about them. So this is my honest review.

   They seem like a quite high quality comfortable pair of gloves. As far as size I would certainly consider them a man's size. When I tried them on they are pretty big on me even though I have long hands. Jonathan was the one to use them while grilling (and he said they worked nicely) and he found them on the small size but he is my 6'3" boy and has pretty big hands as well. Ken tried them on and they fit fine. :-)

  The gloves are washable - the box says you can throw them in the machine but the label on them recommends hand washing. They have nice long cuffs to protect you a decent way up your arm.

   You can find these gloves on Amazon or the Cave Tools Website. If you buy them at Cave Tools you can use this code: GrillGlove15  to get 15% off.

   Whether you smoke, roast, deep fry or grill your turkey (or eat something else all together) on Thanksgiving I hope you have a wonderful day and that you will truly overflow with Thankfulness to our Creator who gave us all things to enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Table of the Elements Homeschool Co-op Day

 This month at our homeschool co-op we had a fun day of learning about the Elements and the Periodic table that is used to organize them. I had first thought of having this day a couple of years ago when our co-op had a science theme. We didn't end up doing it then but I had found such fun ideas that I proposed doing it this year. And it worked out. And I found out later that we did it as close as we could have (according to our monthly schedule) to National Chemistry Week. We were on top of things without even realizing it. :-)

  I remember pretty much nothing of the periodic table from my childhood and I have managed through life okay without a robust knowledge of it. But I think science is pretty cool in how over and over again it points to God our marvelous Creator and Designer. The elements are just another part of what glorifies God in our universe. And though I have no desire to be a chemist and I kind of doubt any child in our co-op will become on either I think there is value in all of us learning more about the elements and realizing that God created them all. And who knows, maybe this fun day will cause chemistry to be more fun and interesting for one of these students some day and they will appreciate this background that we gave them.

   As with all our co-op days we try to have a team of people working to prepare for the day and the same was true for this one. Elaine and Tamara made the cookies and frosting, Lyndi and I did the overall planning, teaching and organizing. Others helped out with bringing frosting bags and organizing and helping the children.

Here is what we did: This was with our children ages 3-12. The highschoolers are doing other things this year.
-Lyndi began the day with prayer and a scripture. She shared this verse: Hebrews 11:3 
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
-Lyndi also did an introduction to the elements. After that we had a few reports by children and a couple of them talked about the elements as well.
- Colored the Table of the Elements. We printed out the one we found at Layers of Learning. They also have a lot of information on their site about how the table works. My kids and I had colored a bunch of sample tables so that the kids could look at them while they colored. While they were coloring Lyndi talked about the way the groups in the table are divided up and a talked a little bit about each group.
- Then the 8-12 year olds played games of battleship using the table. I got the idea of that from Teach Beside Me. Since they needed 2 colored tables They used theirs on the bottom side (and I made little laminated "ships" to place there) and the tables that my kids and I had colored ahead of time were on top.
 -Meanwhile the younger kids were frosting cookies. We were making a periodic table out of cookies. They frosted them in the right colors/amounts for doing that. Tamara had found a neat frosting recipe that could be put on with paintbrushes. That worked quite nicely.

 -Then we had the younger kids get in a circle on the floor and I let them all open a package that was labeled with an element and the item inside was made using that element. We were able to talk a little more about the elements and God's amazing design. They all seem to really enjoy this activity. I found this pictorial table of the elements super helpful for planning this activity and it is just a really cool resource in many ways for learning about the table of the elements.
 -Meanwhile the older kids where use frosting to write the element symbol on each one. Then they started to organize them. That was taking a long time however so we left that to the adults while we went on to another game.
 -I divided the kids up into two groups. We were able to do boys and girls with about 20 in each group. The boys group ended up being a little bigger so a couple of moms had to help the girls. I gave each person a paper with either an element on it or a number. Both groups had the same papers. Then I had made a power point that had some items with simple chemical formulas and I would put one up and say "go" and the first team to get the correct people (with the correct elements and numbers) in line on stage would win that round. I did thinks like water, salt, aluminum foil, glass, sugar, vinegar, etc and then I ended with the formula for a human body which was a trick one because they didn't have all the high numbers that they need or the elements to accomplish that one.
 This game was my own creation and I wasn't sure how it would go but it ended up working very well and seemed to be enjoyed. The boys started out winning but the girls got the hang of it and ended up winning this one. Lyndi had brought candy as a prize.

-Then with those same groups we had a scavenger hunt. We had either hidden, or just known that they were there, various "elements" (many of them weren't pure elements but we tried as best we could). I gave each group this list:

Element Scavenger Hunt
1.   This element is often found in something round and shiny. Your dad may have given it to your mom after asking her a very important question.
2.   This element can make things go up, up and away or it may make your voice sound squeaky.
3.   This element is heavy. It can also poison you if you are around it too much. It might help you catch a fish.
4.   This element may be used in the morning so that you can eat fried eggs. It is a heavy transition metal.
5.   The element Lithium can be found in something that you might use to give energy to a toy or an alarm clock.
6.   This element is shiny and pretty and can be used to make all sorts of fancy objects.
7.   This element is also shiny and pretty but it is more often used to make practical things for the kitchen or used for campfire cooking.  It is a light, poor metal.
8.   This element is an easy to bend metal. You might find it in the plumbing in your house if it is old or you might use a bendable form to make something with beads.
9.   This element is a brown liquid. It can be used to treat some medical issues.
10.                     This element adds good flavor to our food.

    This activity went well too, they got it done in about 15 minutes. They pretty much tied on this one and we let all the boys have a prize (candy).

  This cookies were all arranged now:

 We took a group photo and then they got to eat them.

It was a fun day and I hope the kids will always think that the elements and their table are interesting and fun.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Toys - How do we deal with them????

This (past now - this took me a while to write) month as most of you know has been focused on decluttering and simplifying. I know this is an area that can be a challenge for many families with young children. It has been a challenge for us at times too. 

I had fun going back to my photo files from 2007 to find pictures for this post. I had fun looking through the pictures from the year (hundreds I would suppose) and these are basically all of the ones that I saw that had toys in them. That tells me something - toys weren't really that important for us to have fun together. There were a lot of outdoor pictures, pictures of us working together, riding bikes together, reading and much more but just not a lot of toys. We never have been truly minimalists when it comes to toys but I know that compared to many others that we are.
The picture above shows what we are hoping to avoid when dealing with toys. We don't want them to be so overwhelming and tiring to us that we fall asleep while picking them up. Okay, I am kind of being silly there. I doubt that any of you parents have actually fallen asleep on the job and it is actually rather cute when a small child does but still I am completely serious about trying to make toys more manageable and not overwhelming.
 I think it is wise to think through the type of toys that you would like for your children, maybe even make some specific guidelines. Then  you might honestly visit about your vision/ideas with grandparents or others that tend to get your children toys.

Here are some of the ideas that I have had about toys:

  • I don't like noisy battery powered ones. We have only had 1 or 2 beyond a few remote controlled cars that I can remember. I didn't get any of them for my children. The remote controlled cars tended to break and the other 1 or 2 I tried to move on out before long.
  • We tend to like building toys. But that doesn't mean that we need every type of building toy. Our kids were given wooden train sets that they enjoyed quite a bit and we have kept for when company comes over and for future generations. Legos/Technic have long been a big hit at our house but we didn't keep the duploos around very long at all when we were given them. We have had tinker-toys. My kids have very much enjoyed Lincoln Logs at other homes but we didn't get them for them as they didn't need those too and they were a special treat to play with elsewhere.
  • Other creative toys are nice too. Dolls have been much enjoyed by my girls. When they are little they simply play with them, as they get older they sew clothes for them. Dress-up clothes have been very enjoyed at our place as well.
  • I personally am not fond of a lot of plastic to I tend to move out plastic toys more quickly.
So, what sort of toys are enjoyed and loved at your place? What would you like to get rid of and not have as part of your lifestyle?

How can we stop the flow of toys that can easily take over your house. Honestly we have never had a huge issue with this but I have many friends that do. Here are a few ideas that I have but I would love to have feedback from others on this issue.
  • Don't buy toys for your kids. If they already get oodles of toys from others than you be the first one to stop the flow. We did buy some toys (mostly things like Legos) for our children but we didn't have a huge flow coming in and we knew what would work. We didn't do it very often.
  • Not every holiday and definitely not every trip to the store calls for a new toy. Also, do you really want the junky toy that comes in a happy meal?
  • Don't host traditional Birthday Parties where a bunch of small children come bearing gifts. When you do this you are just asking for an overload of toys. If you want to have a party maybe you could request no gifts, a book or a consumable gift - I don't know. We just chose never to have that sort of party.
  • Visit seriously with the grandparents about your desire to live with less (and thus in my opinion to create more grateful children). We have never had issues with our children's grandparents on the toy issue but I have so many friends that do. If you are a grandparent (or aunt or uncle) that is reading this blog please be super sensitive to the desires of the parents of the child that you are giving things too. An overabundance of toys can make life very overwhelming for children and parents - you don't want to make life harder for your children do you?
  • Don't participate in big gift exchanges at Christmas. I know that is easier said than done but I have been very thank-ful that we were able to work things out in that way for our family. We don't do gift exchanges with anybody past our immediate - living in the house- family. And that gift exchange is all required to fit in our stockings. That means you can give very many toys.

Here are just some other random ideas that have helped us in dealing with toys.

  • We didn't feel like our kids needing to be "playing" or being entertained all day long. From the time they were very little they were helping me around the house according to their ability. When they are little that is often what they really want to do. Encourage that love of work and it will be a blessing to you (and them) when they are older. My sister recently shared this article and it articulates in a neat way they joy of letting your children help you when they are little. When your children are helping you they don't need as many toys to try to keep them busy all day long.
  • Don't have all the toys in one spot. I have found it to be helpful to have a toy basket in the living room (quick and easy to pull out for little ones- whether my own in the past or visitors), then maybe a tub of legos and another for the train-set and cars in the boys room, Then some dolls and dress-up clothes in the girls room. In my opinion having them in different places like that can make it harder to get all dumped and spread out at the same time. And I would try to have them only empty one thing at a time and then pick it up before going to another.
  • If you do deal with toys scattered everywhere but are reluctant to actually get rid of items I think the rotating method is a great idea. Box some up for a while (maybe all the ones that didn't get picked up when you told them to pick up) and you can bring them out several months down the road and pack up some different ones.
  • Do have your kids pick up their toys after playing. That is just a really good life lesson that you don't want them to miss.
I think the questions "Do they love it, do they use it, do we have space for it and does it fit our lifestyle" are good ones for toys as well. It is easy to get sentimental over toys or feel guilty about getting rid of something that was given to them but I think it is good to just be honest with ourselves about whether it is really used or not and then proceed accordingly.

  I hope that possibly these thoughts can be helpful in some way. I started writing this days ago but life gets busy and I had some other deadlines (like preparing for homeschool co-op and sewing costumes for a play that starts next week) that had to be met so blogging took a bit of a back seat again. October is over but I still have some things that I want to share on Simplifying and decluttering so I will probably still be writing on it some. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Mississippi River Trip - Music Video

As I have mentioned before, Jonathan is very into making videos which has prompted us to make a lot of music videos over the past year. Most have been very simple but we are starting to get a little fancier. This is our most complicated one yet (and I am not sure that we will ever top it). This was taken as we traveled the route down south along the Mississippi River. This is our first one to do with Ken in it too so that is fun for us.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Good Questions To Ask as You Declutter

As I was going through things in my office today (and many more items got moved out - Yeah!) I listened (kind of watched) some decluttering videos on Youtube. There was one done by Clutter Clarity that had some good questions to ask yourself.

 As you look at any item either that you already have or that you might be thinking about getting, ask yourself:

  • Do I LOVE it?
  • Do I (or will I) USE it?
  • Do I have SPACE for it?
  • Does it fit my LIFESTYLE?
If we can answer all those questions honestly it will help us to gain insight into whether it is a good thing for us to have or not. These seem very helpful to me, I hope they are for you as well!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Staying Simple With Electronics

So, today I just wanted to share a little bit about my ways of dealing with electronics and a few thoughts on that and I am hoping that this can be come a discussion of ideas and sharing about what works for all of you, also what you have found not to work. I know that there is a huge variety of thoughts on this and I don't want to sound like I have it figured out because I don't think I do but maybe this can give new ideas for dealing with things if this area of your life is not as simple as you would like.

  So I am talking about keeping things simple in the area of cell phone use, social media, e-mail, etc. I think that a huge part of living a simple life is to make sure that everything you do is done thoughtfully and hopefully prayerfully. That you lead the life that you want, not the one you feel you just happened to have. That you are conscientious about how you spend your time, your talents and your resources.

 Because I want to live a life on purpose I have thought about each of these areas and am trying to use them in a wise way - not heedlessly. Here is what is going on in my life in these areas:

  • Cell Phone. I do actually have a smart phone now. When Ken got a new one (he has needed to have a good cell phone for work use and he does also use it for personal use on a regular basis) he gave me his old one. The joke with friends and family is that I have a phone but it is never charged. That isn't quite true, but it is close. I really have not wanted to become attached to my phone so I pretty much never carry it on my person and when I am at home it generally stays in my purse up in my room (where I can't hear it). I check texts and voice messages around once a month. It used to be longer and it is sometimes less now but it still is not often. On our trip I did use Facebook on it a lot as we were trying to keep a log of the trip there but otherwise I don't use it much. I have always considered it to be more for emergencies. Because I don't use it much (and don't want to) I simply get minutes through Tracphone and I am not on a plan. So my phone costs us around $100 a year. We do have a land line phone (which I know is becoming obsolete) so people can generally reach me if needed. We have an answering machine on it which I check regularly. Or if I am with Ken he will have his phone on him. But over all I don't feel like being on call every minute of the day. Another thought on Cell phones - Ken puts his on a sleep mode for the night so that he will not get interrupted. We both try to opt out of any group text messages. It eats up what text message services I have available to quickly and I don't check it much anyway and with Ken he really doesn't like the interruption  that every little text brings to his day since it dings and he feels he needs to check it.
  • Social Media. I obviously do blogging. :-) I like to share on here and I enjoy reading other blogs but as any regulars have noticed when life has gotten super busy some in the last few years my blogging participation has dropped. So when I have time I do it but when I can't I don't. I have found blogging a great way to share and to learn from others. I have found it very beneficial and though I know it can be a waste of time I have not generally found it to be. I try to do most of my blogging after the kids are in bed while Ken is watching something on TV so I am not missing family time to do it.
    Then there is Facebook. This has been one of my biggest mental struggle areas. Is this beneficial or not. Should I go off forever? Should I take an extended break? Why do I struggle with getting off of it once I go on? It has really been an area where I can struggle with self-discipline. It also can be a super useful tool, free video chats and instant message with Mara when she was away and being able to stay connected with family and friends that live a long ways away. But sometimes I think we connect mainly through Facebook and don't develop our relationship in other ways. Anway, I am still working to manage this one. I am seriously considering only allowing myself to go on Facebook on Saturdays. I decided this wouldn't work well while Mara was in Texas but not that she is home again I think we could do it. I just struggle with knowing how to deal with people that use facebook messanger to contact me but I guess I could check my phone more often for that. I would love to hear your thoughts on Facebook.
    I am also on Pinterest which has been a time waster a few times but mostly a very useful tool. I love using it for organizing. I am not on snap chat, twitter, instagram or any other social media. I think I will keep it that way.
    I do also enjoy watching or listening to things on Youtube sometimes. Mostly I do it while I am working (I started doing it most while arranging flowers for my business) on something in my office. I have found it very useful for learning many things or being inspired or challenged. We do enjoy listening to music on their too - using that or CDs in our van are pretty much the only ways we listen to music here. But though I think it has been very useful (I did use it a lot as we were learning about Medieval times) it can also be a time waster so I have to be careful.
  • E-mail. My biggest help in keeping things organized and not overwhelming there has been to try and answer e-mails promptly and delete the ones that I have taken care of (or put them in a folder if they have information that I may need to look up later). I am not perfect at this yet but my e-mail is not overwhelming the way it used to be. I am also working to unsubcribe from everything that I don't care about that gets sent my way. Sometimes I wonder if unsubcribing really works but I am hoping it does. Sometimes I think it takes months to get it done.
  • TV. We have it but I made a policy way back when we got it that the kids and I just wouldn't turn it on. That has held true for the most part. I did go against that during Hurricane Katrina, a few times with the Olympics , President Reagan's funeral and I think the Royal wedding before the last one but that is about it. :-) Ken does like to watch some sports on it and I have watched a few football games with him lately - not so much because I love it but because I love to spend time with my husband. We do also tend to watch presidential debates together. We watch movies around once a month as a family.
I don't do any video/facebook games or any other entertainment on the computer or phone so I think I have covered my electronic distractions but I would love to hear how you deal with these things. We are still working at getting all these things figured out with my older children (the 3 oldest because they all work/go places on their own) now that they have phones.

  Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts and methods!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Make Yourself Mend It

So, I have finally really gotten started working on my office today. It feels good but also almost embarrassing. As I go through things I feel like people might think I was a hoarder if they were just looking in my office. I save so many things.

 Now, I can easily rationalize my saving. I am an avid crafter. I love to make things and I do it all the time. My family (the girls especially) also love to make things. They also do it on a very regular basis. We buy crafting supplies pretty much never. We almost always use what we have. We have been given so many, many craft supplies and we also love to repurpose things - so I save old jeans, old sweaters, old t-shirts, etc...

 That is all well and good but it can get out of hand. And my office closet (and even the office itself to some extent) was proof of that. I need to weed some things out. So I am. I got rid of over 100 items in my office today and there is still a long way to go. Hopefully tomorrow will be another good day at working on it.

  But I have been thinking on something else - also related- that I wanted to discuss. That is the subject of mending. I love to mend things. It is so fun to see something that was broken/not good in some way working well once more. Whether it be clothes or other items it is nice to see a life extended. But we get busy, it can be so easy to set aside that mending for another day, that day becomes a week, then a month, then a year, then a decade. Maybe none of you have done that but I know I have done it for years and quite possibly a decade before. By that time if it is clothes it quite possibly doesn't fit anymore or is out of date. And if it is something else it has just been taking up space unusable for far to long.

  I know for me if it needs mending I don't want to give it away and foist it onto somebody else, that just doesn't seem nice, but I hate to see it fill the land fill either. But I think sometimes we just have to draw the line and say "It is okay to through things away sometimes."

  So, since I have pretty much determined this month that we were no longer keeping things that needed mending I have been mending things like crazy. :-) It is fun to have various items in working order again. There is still one thing (a broken can opener handle) that I haven't figured out how to mend but I am working on it as I really like that can opener. It cannot just go back in the drawer to wait a while longer. And I want to take finished kitchen photos soon so it needs to get off the counter so the time to get it mended is running out. :-)

  I think setting some deadlines about mending is helpful. Also, just look at the article really honestly and ask "Is it really worth my time to mend it?" Will we really use it that much? Maybe I should just get rid of it.

   I would love to hear your thoughts on this and whether you also have historic mending piles.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Verses to Think About

 As I have been busily decluttering, cleaning and organizing I have tended to think about stuff quite a bit. I have come up with many thoughts and opinions but I want to make sure that they line up with what the Bible says. So I was studying into that a little today and I thought I would share a couple of verses that caught my eye.....

Jesus was in a crowd and was asked to resolve a dispute over an inheritance, he declined to do that but he did say this:
Luke 12:15 "Then He said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

I think the big message here is - there are more important things in life than things. How much we own is not what makes our life good or not. More important than the things is whether we are being greedy or whether we are showing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Another verse that has a great message and one that I believe is applicable to nearly every American and so many others is this:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."  

God did give us everything for us to enjoy. That is a huge blessing from Him. But along with that enjoying of what He has given us He wants us to use it to do good, to share with others generously and help them out. When we have a Godly mindset our focus will not be on having a stockpile of treasures here but rather treasures in heaven. We never, ever, ever want to put our trust in our possessions. Anything could happen to them and they would be gone tomorrow. Our trust needs to always, always be in God!!!

 I do truly find that considering God's word can give me such a better perspective on stuff.

  • How can I use what I have to His glory?
  • Will this slow me down and burden me as I try to work for Him?
  • Would somebody else be blessed by this?
  • Am I holding on to things out of wrong motives?
  • Do I look at every possession in my house realizing that it belongs to God, I am just a caretaker of it?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

When Your Family Makes it Hard to Declutter

So much for this idea of writing every day!! :-) Life just gets busy. There have been a couple of big things going on this week. Mara came home from Texas. She flew in on Wednesday night. She was just having to much trouble with her health down there and especially when they would go on trips she was struggling to keep up physically. We are still searching to come up for a reason for her extreme fatigue and other symptoms. She went to the Doctor down there a couple of times and they tested for Celiac and Chronic Mono but both came back negative. We are going to see a natural MD here this coming Friday. 

   The other big thing this week was finally getting all of my honey extracted. I like to do that much earlier but in September and October so far I was busy or sick every day that I had time and it wasn't cold or raining. Thursday I didn't really have time (as I had to take Megan to the Doctor, we went and sang at the Nursing home, Mara had just gotten home and we wanted to visit and I had a music lesson scheduled) but it looks like it may have been our last day this year to go up over 60 degrees and be sunny so I used the little time I had to get all of the frames of honey pulled from the hives. It was sad that I hadn't been able to do it earlier as it was obvious that the bees had eaten quite a lot of honey. Oh well, I still got a nice share and it is done now! Friday (amidst teaching music lessons, working with a friend on getting things ready for our homeschooling co-op, running kids into town and picking up sewing to do and then having a bunch of company for supper) and today I got all the extracting down. It is lovely to have it done for another year.

But on to the project of simplifying and decluttering. This week my big project has been the kitchen. It hadn't seemed super cluttered but Jonathan (the one who puts dishes away) has been complaining about the crowding and I am trying to go through everything anyway so it seemed like a good idea. It went went and I will share more about it in another post.
They are working at looking angry and upset over the things that I am getting rid of. 

All was going well anyway until some people in my household took note of some of the things that I was planning to get rid of. Aaron and Megan (my drama king and queen) started an uproar. Now truly it was mostly in good fun and they weren't actually breaking down in tears or anything but it is completely true that they would have preferred that I didn't get rid of quite a few items. 

   And when it came to the old, black, ugly pizza cutter (that I thought I would get rid of and just keep the nice looking, newer one that we had) they did truly start and uproar, then Mara joined them and then they brought Ken into it who said "We can't get rid of that Pizza cutter, we have always had that one." So on that item I had to cave and I got rid of the nice one instead.

  By the way, Jonathan was firmly supporting me in the whole uproar. He loves to get rid of things and is not very sentimental. The other three kids (especially the younger two) are quite sentimental and get attached to various things - thankfully not everything- they aren't quite hoarders yet. :-) Ken and I can be pretty sentimental too. Thankfully it seems to be just in certain areas. Ken is sentimental when it comes to anything to do with his grandparents house (thankfully we don't have a huge amount of items from there) or when our kids were little. Traditions are very important to him and if an item goes with a tradition then he is unlikely going to want to get rid of it. But otherwise he is incredibly neat and tidy.

  Getting rid of things when others around you (and it doesn't even have to be in your household - many outside your household can make you second guess decluttering decisions) think it is a bad idea can make the process hard. You may have already been struggling with the decision yourself and then they come and make it very hard to let go.

  Here are some of my thoughts for dealing with this:

  • Respect your spouse. If they really don't want you to get rid of something, then don't. Really work at decluttering the areas that are more your areas and that they don't care about and hope that they will see the beauty in doing that and be more willing to let go. If something they want to keep is really cluttering up an area that you need to keep clean maybe you can move it to an area that is more their area. I can think of a time that I did this; there was an ugly (in my mind), red, plastic placemat that had been Ken's Grandma's. We already had quite a few items "to remember her with" (not like he would forget anyway) so I thought maybe we could get rid of it. Ken didn't think so, so I put it in his office to decorate his desk with as I didn't have another good place to keep it. He is happy with it there and I am happy not to have to mess with it and that works for us.
  • Listen to your kids, but that doesn't mean that you have to do what they say.
  • If it is your domain and your stuff (such as the kitchen) then stick to your guns (with your children not your spouse) and move it out. 
  • Explain yourself - "Here is why we don't need this anymore."
  • Ask them when they last used it (whatever they don't want to get rid of). Aaron really didn't want me to get rid of a meat tenderizing hammer. Our neighbor (cleaning out her house) had given it to us a year or so ago and we had never used it. But Aaron thought it looked cool. Sorry, we weren't using it, so it goes.
  • As long as you are not decluttering their stuff (I think that really should be done with them in a sympathetic but realistic way- at least when they are as old as my kids are) then it might make the most sense to try to declutter when your sentimental ones are away.

  Do you have to deal with family members that are attached to stuff? How do you go about it?


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