Minimalism- Catherine’s Room

I must apologize for the quality of these pictures.  They were taken with my camera phone and for some reason my phone is producing poor quality photos.

Catherine’s room has turned into a big nightmare with toys and clothes and junk scattered anywhere and everywhere.  If there was a cleared off space, something would quickly make a home on that space.  Plus, she has gotten into Legos over the past few months and Lego bricks seem to multiply like rabbits.  She had so much stuff, we were running out of room to store that stuff.  Or the mess would become paralyzing to the point where it seemed useless to clean.

Here is one angle of her room.  Her bed is to the left and her desk and the chest of drawers are on the right:1-20140823_200913[1]

Here you are looking at her bookcase and to the left is her closet full of toys, Legos and clothes:

1-20140823_200759[1]I went into the purging mode in this room with one mission, to get rid of anything and everything that she does not play with or use.  I purged her things about 7 or 8 months ago but I had decided to keep some toys in case she had friends come over to play.  Well, no more!  I wasn’t going to keep things in hopes that they ‘might’ get played with in the future.  I also wanted to combine her miscellaneous toys into one three-drawer set, instead of having two.

I tackled her room by starting in that dreaded corner and started by putting things into either a donation bag or the trash.  Catherine is sentimental like John and I, so she had a hard time getting rid of some things but I showed no mercy and tossed and donated almost everything I could get my hands on.  Even my beloved books I went through and purged.  I ended up donating almost all of them.  I only kept the special ones.  By the time I was done, the pile of books was as tall as Catherine sitting down.

1-20140829_145302[1]We cleaned out so much stuff and it felt so good to finally get her room cleaned up!  We now have room in her bookshelf to add some little baskets to put her Legos.  There is room to store other smaller toys.  Some of her memorabilia I packed up and put away.  De-clutter was the word of the day.  I am pretty happy with the results:

1-20140831_194259[1] 1-20140829_153758[1] 1-20140831_194232[1] 1-20140829_152847[1]

We ended up donating two trucks worth of items just from Catherine’s room alone!  Next up: the kitchen!!!

ECC Week 2

We finished up week 3 of school but only week 2 of MFW Exploring Countries & Cultures (ECC).  Lucky for me that week 2 of ECC is still fairly light because I am still trying to recover from this respiratory crud.  We cancelled our weekly ECC craft day with our friends because I wasn’t quite up to prepping and hosting; but I made sure that Catherine didn’t miss out on a couple of fun activities that correspond with this week’s lesson: globe & map reading.

I am using a geography workbook that I bought from a teacher supply store a couple of years ago, along with the book Galloping the Globe to supplement the lessons.  We are still going over continents, oceans, map keys, and grids.  There are not very many worksheets to review these concepts, so I pulled some things out of the geography workbook and off of Pinterest to use for review.  MFW comes with some wonderful geography and atlas books and we have had a lot of fun looking at how different maps are drawn.


For the activity, we were supposed to decorate a cake like a globe but most of my cooking projects turn into a big disaster.  Galloping the Globe recommended making a globe paper mache.  Catherine is not one to turn down a good craft, much less paper mache, so we broke out the balloons, a starch mix and some paint brushes and went to town.  I think this project is going to be a lot bigger and more complex than I thought because we are going to have to do this in stages.  We got it covered, a base coat of white painted, and the continents drawn.  Now we just need to finish painting it.

1-IMG_07291-IMG_07301-IMG_07441-IMG_0747I have also turned one of the walls in our hallway into a school wall.  There is big map on the wall along with some art that Catherine has created and some paper dolls of children around the world (I got this idea from another MFW ECC Blogger: Mocharch Room).  I will make sure that I post a photo of the wall this week.  I think it turned out pretty cute!  Catherine and I made a few of our own paper dolls from cut-outs from Lakeshore Learning, construction paper, and glitter glue.

1-20140826_142541[1]1-20140826_133314[1]1-20140826_142601[1]1-20140826_150122[1]1-20140826_153053[1]I think these turned out pretty cute!  I hung them up on the wall with the other pre-printed paper-dolls.  I think took a string and connected the doll to the place on the map where they are from.  Catherine loved seeing where in the world these dolls ‘were from.’

Week 2 went well and we had a great time trying some different crafts and activities!  We are definitely ECC fans!  We can’t wait for week 3!


1-IMG_0737As the years have gone by with our adventure into homeschooling and as Catherine has grown older, I have found that my days are getting busier and busier.  I remember when Catherine was a baby how overwhelmed I felt.  I told a friend that I barely had time to eat or shower.  She lovingly told me that it only got worse.  I thought she was crazy.  And then I panicked!  How in the world could life be any busier?  I thought that children became more independent as they grew older!  I thought they could entertain themselves longer!  She said that they need more, want more, and communicate it more.  They have activities they need to be brought to, friends to see, homework to do, crisis’s that need managing.  I didn’t believe her.  Well, here I am 6 years later and she is totally right.  Catherine has places to go, people to see, things to do, and subjects to learn.  My…life…is…crazy…busy!

I have noticed as Catherine is more involved with activities, as she advances in school, and as my organization has grown, I have noticed that I have been able to keep my home neat and clean.  I have less time to stay organized.  Usually by the end of the evening I am too tired to clean.  These factors usually lead to a house that looks like a disaster by the end of the week.  Counters with piles of ‘stuff’ and floors that are covered with toys, and books, and shoes, and couches that are covered with magazines and art supplies make me stressed and feeling out of control.  I feel ready to chuck it all and yet I feel so strangely attached to EVERYTHING that I own.

Over the last year my sister and I have been talking a lot about getting rid of stuff and purging.  My sister even convinced my mom to read a book about getting rid of the clutter and my mom jumped on the band-wagon and started clearing the extra junk out of her house.  I would have to say that both my sister and my parents have pretty clutterless homes, especially compared to my home.  I was inspired and I knew that I needed to started clearing the clutter but I just couldn’t find the mojo.  I had every excuse in the book, including my packed out spring and summer schedule.  Well, now school has started and our schedules are a bit more clear (although not by much) and I figured now is the time.  Plus, after nearly two weeks of being sick, my house looks like a disaster zone, so I know that it’s time to clean up this mess.

I am doing a 40 Day cleaning program with my sister and one of our friends where we will be focusing on one area a day to purge and clean.  I’m pretty excited about it!  I have already managed to purge through most of my kitchen cabinets and drawers.  The counters and the pantry are another thing!  But here is a look:

Junk drawer before:



Junk drawer after:1-IMG_0750I can already feel a sigh of relief!  Less is more!  I’m not going to let my stuff own me anymore!  Well, tell that to me when I hit the craft room!

2nd Grade

1-20140811_092419[1]We have a 2nd grader on our hands!  How time has flown by since we first started thinking about taking the homeschooling journey!  I remember being petrified to start kindergarten and now here we are in 2nd grade!

We have done so much and I have learned event more since our adventure began!  I feel way more confident but yet I still question every choice that I make when it comes to our curriculum.  I want to make sure that I am giving her the best education that I can and that she knows what she needs to know.  I really struggled this year with choosing a math program and a language arts program for her (which I will talk about in a bit) but I was finally able to make some pretty sound decisions after I attended the Texas Homeschool Coalition Convention in August.  Wow, did that convention open my eyes!  My heart was overjoyed to be with so many other families that have the same passion for educating their children and to meet with all of the curriculum vendors.  It was amazing!

While Catherine is 2nd grader age wise, most of her curriculum is on a 3rd grade level.  She is one smart little girl, because each year we wind up ending school earlier than anticipated because of crazy, busy schedules that seem to plague us in April.

Again, for this year we chose My Father’s World as the spine of our program.  I just love how they set up their curriculum and how well rounded it is.  I have also really been looking forward to this year where we are studying about countries and cultures.  While we studied some countries in kindergarten after I ditched the curriculum we were using at the time, this time it will be more focused.  I have seriously been looking forward to doing this program for 3 years!

1-IMG_0723My Father’s World will be focused on geography, Bible, social studies, and crafts.

Language Arts is the only subject that we are starting at the 2nd grade level.  Somehow last year I did not go into LA as in depth as I should have.  I was so focused on teaching Catherine to read and read well, that I lost focus on teaching her about the mechanics of the English language and the writing.

I had first chosen Abeka as the program we would use for LA but after visiting the vendors at the conference, I ended up choosing Rod & Staff.  They were highly recommended by many, many families because of how thorough and yet gentle their approach is.  It’s a very black & white, to the point and with not a lot of fluff type of program.  I shied away from that because I tend to gravitate to loud & colorful text, graphics and worksheets.  After looking at the textbooks a bit more in depth, I figured that for her core LA & spelling, we would go with Rod & Staff.  I will be supplementing it with BJU Press (which I already had) and the Write Source series by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

1-IMG_0724Math was another tough subject for me to choose as well.  I am absolutely terrible at math and I don’t want my lack of mathematical fortitude to get in the way of Catherine learning this subject.  I really struggled with math (just ask my Dad) and I definitely don’t want Catherine to struggle.  As the years go on, I will have to become more dependent on John, the curriculum, and some tutors to get her where she needs to be.  At first I had chosen Math-U-See because of the DVD that comes the program but after looking at Christian Light Education (CLE) at the conference, I decided to go with them.  Like Rod & Staff, CLE is a Mennonite published curriculum.  They provide a thorough, yet gentle approach to math that is broken down into small bite sized increments.  It’s a spiral program, which I like.  And it is designed to be an eventually self-taught curriculum (which is hard for me to fathom).  Again, there is not a lot of fluff or flashy graphics but I have come to grips with that.  For the first couple of weeks we will be doing some review using Math-U-See, which I had purchased used.  And I plan on using the program as supplement to CLE as we need it.

1-IMG_0725This year we will also be doing some basic computer applications and a science program that John and I found at the convention.  She will also be taking a science class from an individual that teaches homeschool classes.

We have already been in school for two weeks.  Since we seem to have to finish up school in the mid-spring time frame, I like to get a jump on things earlier in the summer.  So far the programs have worked out well.  The first week we spent doing a unit study on the Statue of Liberty since the My Father’s World program hadn’t kicked into full gear yet.  We had a lot of fun with that!  And we have also been doing a unit study on horses since we were supposed to do that over the summer and never got around to it.



1-IMG_0727So far things are going pretty well.  I spent all of last week sick with some sort of respiratory crud, so Catherine just worked on the basics.  This week I am working on getting back into the swing of things.  Hopefully, we will have a great year this year and learn lots of new things!!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Happy 4th of July

I’m dipping my toes back into the blogging world.  I have missed it so much. I have lost the discipline, the time and the desire to post but what I am realizing is that I am missing almost a year’s worth of the memories.  It’s time to figure out how to get back into the craft of blogging.  So here I am…I am back.

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