Monday, March 10, 2014

40 Bags in 40 Days

Spring Fever usually hits me around this time of year.  I tend to go into "cleaning mode", and I pull things out of closets and sort through stashes of papers and magazines.  Last year, I weeded out our library, motivated by the fact that I no longer need any primary school book, as my youngest homeschooler is in his teens.  I was also appalled by a relative's home, and decided that I do not want to be a hoarder.  I don't want to keep things "just in case".  I don't want to have ten of anything when one or two will do.

Last year, I gave away 140 BOXES full of books.  140.

I don't regret it for a second.  Our library is now more open and airy, and my hubby now has a bigger space for his office.  (One of my goals is to sort and organize his office, but that's a post for another day.)

I just happened across a page on the internet a few days ago.  It inspired and challenged me.


Ann Marie was inspired by another blogger, and took the plunge a couple of years ago, ridding her house of 40 bags of stuff in 40 days.  The stuff was given away, sold, or thrown in the trash... no matter the size of the bag, there were 40 bags of things that she didn't need gone from her home, for good!

So, I took the challenge.

 ^Before.  After:

I cleaned out my desk drawers.  I got rid of a bag full of garbage, and put everything in its place.

I cleaned a small cupboard by my desk, filed all of my stickers, and put all of the electronics neatly in a drawer.  I also filed my bills and set up a file box for finances, another one for our church, and another one for a "tickle" file for my personal use.  I then cleaned up my roll top (craft desk):

Today, I cleaned the rest of the drawers in the roll top desk, and threw out old envelopes, moldy papers, etc.  My desk is now completely organized and ready for me to enjoy.

Results so far?

  • gave towels and glasses to Elena
  • got rid of four bags of garbage
  • organized my entire desk, all the drawers, and filing system
  • tidied and sorted craft desk; labelled containers so everything's easy to find
  • found my original birth certificate from Jeffrey Hales Hospital
  • found pictures and love notes from my kids and hubby
Five days down, thirty-five to go!  I can do this!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Homemaking is an opportunity to demonstrate love and care for my family.  A bit of hard work makes my home a more welcoming place, so we can show hospitality to others in the name of Jesus.  Having a place for everything and everything in its place will give me a sense of preparedness and peace, so I don't waste time looking for something that should be easily found.  

I can do this.  I can rid my home of 40 bags of stuff - either trash or treasures for others - in 40 days.  

There's a Facebook group you can join if you want to:

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Joanna was telling me about Kaitlyn being a "girly girl". In spite of having two brothers, Kaitlyn is all about the pretty things and romance.

Joanna got her some new hair doodads. Kaitlyn loved them! Joanna was pleased.

But little did she know that the new hair things would show her what a girly girl her daughter is.

Kaitlyn was playing quietly by herself with two of the hair baubles. Joanna listened.

"Mommy," Kaitlyn said, as she bounced a hair bauble in her left hand.

"Daddy," Kaitlyn said, doing the same with one in her right hand.

But the next thing she did was the kicker.

She brought the two baubles together, bouncing them happily along, then smacking them together.

"K I S S", came the sound.

I wonder what SHE sees at her house. :D

Friday, April 03, 2009

National Poetry Blog

Check out the new Poetry Blog that Jacqueline started.  I linked it in my sidebar under "Links I like".

Explorers and "Around the World" in Math

The children are learning about the great Explorers in our Co-op Homeschool.  We discussed how God confounded the language of the people of Babel, so that they spread out throughout the world.  Brave souls decided years later to travel, seeking wealth or lands.  We discussed what it would have been like to travel across seas and oceans in small ships, or through mountain passes on pack-horses.  Danger would have been all around - sometimes real, sometimes perceived.  There was no "edge of the world", there were no "sea monsters"...yet the explorers thought there might be.  So, they were courageous as they travelled far from  home.

We gave the children an assignment:

History - Explorers Project.


















Marco Polo








This is a research project.  Go to the library, use encyclopaedia, or the internet (LAST!) to find out information about your explorer.  Where did he live?  When?  What form of travel did he use?  Where did he go?  Did he claim any land for his liege?  Were there any conflicts during his travels?  Was his life in danger?

Find out some interesting facts about your explorer.  Include a map of his travels. 

Use the template to copy figures onto cardstock.  Decorate the explorer to reflect something of his culture or character.  (Sword, moustache, horse, uniform, equipment, etc.)


You will be giving a report on your explorer next week, and putting your guy up on the timeline.  You could even include a page for the other students to fill in with facts about your explorer. 

Around the World in Math

When we were finished with History, we played "Around the World".  The children line up, and the first volunteer stands behind the first in line.  I call out math facts, and the two of them compete to see who can be the first to call out the correct answer.  The winner moves to the next person in line, and continues "around the world".  The first one to get all the way around gets to sit down.

There's a lot of pressure to do well, and some of the kids like competition, while others feel upset when they get a wrong answer.  But with plenty of encouragement, they persevered, and everybody had fun.

I'm sure they're going to practice their math before the next co-op day.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring Cleaning with Little "Angels"

Truthfully, they're not so little anymore.

But my six youngest and my friend's three youngest children (the littles in their respective large families) tackled the back yard today.  

The garden was a mess. If you look carefully at the following picture, you'll see the garden fence, with lots of stuff that needs to be raked:

There was paraphernalia left over from finishing off the siding last fall.  There was an old door, tossed aside when the back door was replaced.  There were weeds and dry old vines and rocks and bits of glass and screws and nails.  Lots of junk to clean.  UGH.

Here you can see that the fence has been removed, and the garden area has been raked and cleaned.  

Elena is rejoicing...we're almost done:

Josh, Dan & Pat took turns driving the tractor around.  Here's Joshua taking a turn.  

They gathered garbage, taking it to the burn pile.  They pulled out the fence, which we plan to re-install after we till and make our garden about 50% larger than last year's.  They pulled out two posts that used to belong to our old wooden swing set, which collapsed a couple of years ago under the weight of a fallen maple tree.  

Linda, Elena, Tiana, Jessie and Joy used rakes and shovels to get rid of weeds and debris.  They worked tirelessly for hours, making a dreary task fun by working together.  

Christopher did lots of running for the older kids.  He picked up some nails and screws.  He ran and got buckets when we needed them.  

"Job well done, kids!  Now it's time for a tea, but just let me get a final picture of the back yard.  C'mon, everybody line up so I can get your picture."

"Aww, do we HAVE to?"  (Half the kids had already made it inside...)

"Naww... it's okay...I know you're tired.  Snap."  

Monday, March 30, 2009

Patrick is now 17!

My goodness, that boy has grown!  He used to be a cute little blonde-haired, blue-eyed imp.  When he was two, he didn't often disobey outright.  He just quietly did what he wanted to do ---> drive his Tonka truck onto the highway!  

Broken bones, burns, and an operation for a hernia did not keep this little man down.  And here he is, now 17, taller than his dad.  He'll soon be off to work with his brother for the summer as a bricklayer's helper.  I'll sure miss him.  I told him he'll have to wear his new t-shirt every day:

Happy Birthday, Son!  We love you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Granny Miller's Monthly Gardening Plan

Granny Miller has a feature on her blog called "Ask Granny", where she answers questions about food, gardening and farming. I compiled a list of her gardening chores month by month. For her original post, go here.

Gardening Chores from Granny Miller - Zone 5




  •     Spend January looking through garden catalogues;
  •     Read and plan!


  •     Start spinach or lettuce in a couple of pots on a sunny windowsill.
  •     Ordering seeds, fruit trees or nursery stock


  •     Ensure garden tools & equipment are clean and in good working order.
  •     Prune apple trees, brambles and grapes.
  •     Start cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts in a cold frame.


  • Spray Apple trees with oil dormant spray.
  • Sow oats.
  • Clear farmyard and garden of debris.
  • Rake and burn debris.
  • Divide and move perennial flowers.

  • Plant onions and peas as soon as the vegetable garden is dry enough.
  • Plant cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, radishes, lettuce and kale.
  • Plant new asparagus beds and fertilize old ones.
  • Plant new strawberries in April and bare root fruit trees and roses.
  • Check herb garden for any winter die off. Cut back plants. Chives are first!
  • Plant sweet peas
  • Enjoy the daffodils.

  • Clean out fishpond.
  • Plow in the middle of April.
  • Start tomatoes, peppers or any other tender vegetable or flower annual from seed indoors or in a hot bed, the middle to end of April.


  •     Continue with basic garden chores
  •     Apple trees begin to bloom.
  •     Tulips and lilacs bloom in May
  •     Grass first needs to be cut
  •     Make sure that strawberries, onions and asparagus are well mulched.
  •     Pick first asparagus in May.
  •     By the middle of May the garden gets well rotted horse manure and is tilled.
  •     Roses are pruned in May.
  •     By the last week of May the garden has warmed up enough to safely plant corn, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, melons, winter squash, summer squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, wax beans, beets, carrots and green peppers. Some years I will plant celery.
  •     Plant marigolds in the garden for pest control and annual flowers for cutting. Sunflowers are planted for the winter birds and any annual herbs are planted at this time too.


  •     First strawberries are ready to be picked by the middle of June
  •     Asparagus are still being harvested.
  •     Make yearly pantry list.
  •     Start canning and freezing.
  •     In June weeding and tilling are the main garden chores.
  •     Lettuce, radishes and spinach need to be gathered and sometimes peas are harvested by the end of June.
  •     Apples are sprayed every week.
  •     Vegetables are sprayed every other week
  •     Keep a close watch out for cutworms and other garden pests.
  •     June is the time for hatching out chicks and ducklings.
  •     Hay is first cut in June.
  •     June is often when deer become a problem in the garden and the garden needs to be fenced with electric fence.


  •     July brings cherries, blueberries, broccoli and cabbage.
  •     Weeding, spraying and pest control continues.
  •     Green beans are often ready to start picking by the middle to end of July.
  •     Dig the first sweet onions
  •     Pick summer squash.
  •     Cucumbers come ready and so do the very first tomatoes.
  •     Cattle are bred in July for April calves and hay is cut again.
  •     Harvest garlic.
  •     July can bring a bumper crop of blackberries.
  •     By the end of July canning season really begins to pick
  •     Many herbs are ready to be harvested during July
  •     Grapes are beginning to form on grape vines.


  •     If I intend to plant turnips, spinach or lettuce for the cool weather I sow them at the beginning of August.
  •     In August the annual flowers that were planted from seed are blooming.
  •     Sometimes it is dry here in August and certain flowers and vegetables will need extra water.
  •     Check for insects and plant diseases - late July and August brings 
  •     Continue to spray during August and take particular care with the grapes
  •     Sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, carrots, beets, spinach, lettuce, melons and new potatoes can all be harvested.
  •     By the end of August cucumbers are beginning to play out.
  •     Cabbage should be harvested before they begin to split.
  •     It’s important to keep the seed beds well watered - it's so hot in August it’s easy to kill cool weather vegetable seedlings before they have a chance to get started.


  •     Watermelons are ready.
  •     It's the end of most vegetables in the garden.
  •     Sometimes hay is cut for the third time.
  •     Tomatoes and peppers are still producing heavy and summer squash and green beans are mostly over unless I planted a second crop.
  •     Sometimes sweet corn is still harvested.
  •     Harvest and dry certain herbs like sage, rosemary, fennel and basil.
  •     First apples are picked in September
  •     By the end of the month some of the winter squash and pumpkins are ready.
  •     As the vegetables are finished, begin to clear out the weeds and old plants.
  •     Collect tomato, pepper, corn and other types of seed on dry, sunny days in September.
  •     Allow all the chickens into the garden to help me clean up.
  •     Move the ducks temporarily to the garden so their manure can be added to the soil.
  •     September is when meat chickens are slaughtered and market lambs are sold.
  •     By the end of September we usually have a killing frost. Kale and 
  •     Concord grapes are harvested after the first couple of frosts.


  • Sow winter wheat in early October.
  • October is time to remake the garden and to plant garlic.
  • It is also time to transplant and mulch strawberries.
  • October is the best time of the year to transplant trees or shrubs and is when tulips, daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs are planted.
  • It is also the time I collect flower seeds for next year's garden.
  • Apples are harvested in October and the orchard is cleaned and made ready for the coming winter.
  • Often the garden is tilled or re-plowed in October.
  • Sheep are bred in October for March lambs and kale and Brussels sprouts are first picked.


  •     In November field corn is harvested.
  •     Brussels sprouts are also harvested and any garden debris is cleaned up.
  •     Sometimes a single rose will bloom in November
  •     Often the weather turns cold before the garden can be put right before winter.


  •     Life begins to turn indoors again.
  •     Parsley, sage, chives and other herbs can still be harvested.