Friday, May 29, 2015

PianoWithWillie ~ A Crew Review

Many of you will remember last summer when Emily and I reviewed HomeSchoolPiano, this year Emily had the opportunity to review another great product from JazzEdge, PianoWithWillie. This  is an รก la carte style program for vastly improving your piano playing skills. The online piano lessons at PianoWithWillie allow you to pick and choose from over 3500 lesson chapters on various styles, techniques, concepts, or songs.

PianoWithWillie is ideally designed for students with at least some previous piano experience, but it could be used by brand new piano students if they are of an age where they are committed to focused lessons and daily practice time. For this review Emily used a Studio Membership. PianoWithWillie is for a single student per account, and can be paid monthly, quarterly, or annually. This is a program you should wait to purchase until you are ready to use it, as it will automatically renew each term unless you give three business days' notice to cancel your account.

If you, or your child, desire to learn from quality piano lessons on the topics of YOUR choosing, instead of following a traditional program that adds another bite  of learning each week, this could be the answer you are looking for! 

PianoWithWillie Review

There are many options to choose from, but two best places for most people to start with PianoWithWillie. If you are still a beginner level student, or it has been many years since you've played, we would suggest you begin with the Piano Start option and work through the 30 Day Success Playbook. With this option you are choosing to focus a month of watching lessons and practicing to either learn or re-learn the basics of piano to set a solid foundation for future lessons. This 30 day focused approach can help you learn about 6 months to a year's worth of traditional weekly lesson materials.

If you have been playing recently, or are moving into the intermediate or higher levels of piano skills, Emily and I would suggest you take the 22 point assessment and have Willie and his staff suggest a Piano Plan for you to follow. Since Emily had such success with HomeSchoolPiano learning the basics, we chose for her to take the assessment. With her answers, they pointed to a plan entitled Performing Rhythms More Accurately. Emily thought she would want to work on specific genres of music eventually but she knew this focused time on rhythms could make so many other techniques easier to learn, so that is where she started.

Once you've finished your Piano Plan, you can retake the 22 point assessment and have the staff at PianoWithWillie point you towards another plan, or you can browse on your own. With a Studio Membership you can always browse on your own, but we found the concept of them helping Emily select specific lessons towards her individual goals a great idea. 

Emily's first Piano Plan included 4 lessons of 8 minutes, 7 minutes, 39 minutes, and 80 minutes. Because you can view your lessons on any internet-enabled device, Emily decided to watch the longer lessons in sections and then go practice the rhythm techniques on our keyboard before moving on to the next part of the lesson. Sometimes she watches the lessons on my laptop, sometimes on the girls' iPad. I think watching on the iPad is her favorite method because she can place it on the music stand, hit pause, and practice right away. The 80 minute lesson really helped her focus on syncopated rhythms. I can tell by listening to her play that she is understanding the music better, and thus playing it more closely to how it was written than before beginning PianoWithWillie.

PianoWithWillie is for students who want to focus their attention on piano TODAY, not just someday in the future. From Emily: One of the great things about PianoWithWillie is the ability to pay for lessons month by month, so if you have to skip a month for work or sports or some other such thing you don't miss out. You can pick up right where you left off. That, plus the assessment test to find out your proficiency level make learning piano fun and hassle free. Willie is great in his lessons about understanding that not everyone learns at the same pace. Since the videos are all pre-recorded, there is none of the embarrassment of asking the teacher to repeat something over and over again, you just rewind and watch it again yourself. Plus there are a lot of offers to take extra lessons on topics like music theory, and even chances to win free Skype lessons with Willie.

If you're just not sure where to start, you can choose between Foundational (rhythm, technique, or reading,) or Fun'dational (song, style, concept,) lessons to help you sort through the lesson library. The complexity of each lesson is tagged under the categories of Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, or Professional. Each lesson also has tags that divide them into categories of focus under style, concept, or technique. 

A typical day has Emily logging in and watching the next lesson or section of a lesson, then practicing on our keyboard. You need a keyboard with at least 61 keys, or an actual piano to work with PianoWithWillie. The beauty of the keyboard is that Emily can listen through her headphones and not wake anyone up with her playing. Since Kurt has been working nights and sleeping during the days, this is key! I like that when Emily logs in it takes her to her dashboard where there are three main options for her to choose from: PianoStart which has the 30 Day Success Playbook, Piano Plans, and News from Willie. This third section features blog posts from Willie, Paul, Kerry, and Larson, the teaching team at PianoWithWillie. Emily likes to check this section for new posts to read, as we have found they are often based upon other student's questions.

If all of this information about PianoWithWillie seems overwhelming, perhaps you want to consider the program some of the other Crew members reviewed, Easy Piano Basics, which is a lifetime subscription and can be used with multiple students. Some brave parents also had their children try DrumsWithWillie.

If you're ready to learn more about PianoWithWillie, you can sign up for a free trial, or go ahead and purchase a monthly ($49,) quarterly ($99,) or annual ($399) subscription. One more quick thing to consider: maybe you just have one favorite song you would love to learn to play?! PianoWithWillie can teach you all you need to know to play a selection of several famous songs from a Minuet by Bach to What A Wonderful World. Many of these longer lessons are even available to purchase on DVD, you really should go check it out!

Connect with PianoWithWillie:

JazzEdge Review

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - Bald Eagles, Clothes, and the Joys of Home Education - 5/28/15

Do you see those dark dots in the picture above? Those are bald eagles. I really planned to write about how much we love our library for the thankful topic this week... then God changed my mind.

Back to the eagles. There are SO MANY cool things you can do and see with your children, but I think one of the biggest joys of educating our children at home is ACTUALLY doing them. It's a mindset that says learning can happen anywhere, anytime. It was late on a Sunday afternoon when we went with a group to see the bald eagles come in to roost for the night. They don't often live in Indiana year round, but they do roost here overwinter. On this particular trip back in early March, we got to see a nest AND the group coming in to roost. I know of three bald eagle nest sites within an hour of our home, but the one on this trip was the only one where I've seen the eagle in the nest. Watching them come to roost for the night was awesome too, even if it was a bit cold. We are really thankful for the opportunities we have living in a place with such awesome state park employees who plan trips like this one. Just in case you're wondering, in Indiana you're much more likely to see Golden Eagles. They live here year round, and we have seen at least one of them a few times each year for the past 5 years or so.

On to the clothes...due to this thing called sin we all wear clothes. I am thankful right now that everyone in our family has enough clothes for the summer. Some of my blogging friends have been talking about capsule wardrobes. I am still debating if I want to trim my closet to actually fit that description. I really don't have a lot of clothes, but I'm wondering if maybe God has something else I'm supposed to be working on purging instead. Stay tuned for the next chapter. :)

Educating your children at home can bring tears and joy all in the same day. Who am I kidding, it can bring them in the same 5 minutes. I wouldn't give it up for the world! Have I done everything right? Hardly. Can God still bless our mistakes - definitely! One key point for us has been the ability to tailor material to help the girls. Each of them has strengths and struggles. In His timing, God has led us to the things we have needed to continue to challenge and grow them.

One more thing to be thankful for today - books. Right now I am reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Here is the line that I read earlier this week that has stuck with me the most: "The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the church is famishing for want of His presence." When was the last time you actively sought His presence? What a comforting thought that God is not done with me yet, and though I fail, He is faithful to forgive me and stands with open arms.

So many reasons to be thankful today!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Capsule Wardrobe? Hmm...

As we've been working on cleaning, organizing, and decluttering our homes in 34 weeks with our friends, there have been many good points made. Michele as our ringleader, and Kemi as our chief encourager and label maker have been pointing us to specific tasks to a accomplish. I'll let you know that we're still working on those tasks, even though you haven't seen any pictures in a while. It's really hard to clean and declutter a bedroom when there is always someone sleeping in it. The girls have been working on their rooms, and while they look much better, they're not quite to the photo-ready stage.

One thing Michele has throwout there on the side is the idea of a capsule wardrobe. One of her lovely daughters wrote a blog post about it and pointed us to several great blogs that focus on capsule wardrobes. Is a capsule wardrobe right for everyone? Probably not. Is it the right answer for me? I'm waiting for God to get back to me on that one. In the meantime, we have switched out all of our Winter clothes for the Spring & Summer apparel.

I really don't think I have that many clothes to need to do a major purge, but it has had me thinking. How many of the things hanging in our little closet do I actually wear? Can I give away some things I don't wear anymore, and if yes, which items? Do I have a favorite outfit style? If I could figure that one out, the other questions might be easier. What would I want in my capsules if I made them?

Know this, a capsule wardrobe is just an idea, and it might not be right for you at this time in your life. That's OK. I think Michele threw the idea on the table because people were curious. In all areas of our lives we should be taking stock of what we don't need and eliminating it, or at least getting it organized so we know what we have. It's the end of the school year for most families. Do you have leftover supplies? Do you know where they are? Can you find them again after the 4th of July when the back-to-school sales start? You don't need 15 boxes of crayons but no glue sticks come August!

See, I'm just trying to get you thinking. Ask God what it is HE wants you to focus on for this next week, or this next month. If its the house, come join us in our 34 weeks of Clean!

Tune back in next week, maybe I'll have more pictures to post by then. :)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - Birthdays

This week we are thankful for birthdays! Specifically, Emily and Arlene both have birthdays this week. (So I'm sure you'll understand if I keep this short.) Kurt and I are thankful for the young ladies they have grown up to be. We are thankful for all the experiences we have had as a family while educating our daughters at home ... on the road, in the forest, and on the beach, to name a few of our favorite locations.

We are so thankful for God's calling on our daughters' lives. We are thankful for all the friends and family members who have come alongside us on this journey. Thank you for allowing us to share a part of that journey with you here on our blog.

The picture below was taken this past March when we went to see bald eagles roost. Life is an amazing journey, enjoy it with your family!

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Thankful Thursdays

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition - 2 DVD Set - A Crew Review

Have you ever a watched movie that changed something in how you think about life? Have you been looking for a place to get quality movies to watch with your family? Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew we have had the opportunity to learn about, a website devoted to “Christian Movies to Inspire and Entertain.” We have been reviewing the Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition. This 2 DVD set has the not rated version of the movie Unbroken, based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, about the life of Louie Zamperini, along with a bonus feature The Real Life of Louie Zamperini on one disc, and over 90 minutes of bonus features on the second disc that share the faith story behind the movie Unbroken.

If you haven’t heard about the movie Unbroken, it follows Louie Zamperini’s life from his troubled childhood to High School and Olympic track star, and on through WWII as first a Army Air Corp Bombardier then a POW in a Japanese prison camp, through a series of flashbacks. Louie’s life is amazing in the twists and turns that God allows that draw Louie to Christ. The theatre version was rated PG-13, but the DVD we received in the Legacy of Faith Edition is unrated. The movie should be previewed by parents before watching with your children under 15. Unbroken shares the harsh realities of Japanese POW camps during WWII and the deplorable conditions and treatment the POW’s endured. This two hour and 18 minute movie is intense. Our girls (15 & 17) watched it with me. Though we all learned so much about Louie Zamperini’s life, and WWII, both girls said to include in our review that parents really need to watch it all the way through before sharing it with their children.

The movie disc also has a feature The Real Life of Louie Zamperini, which runs almost 30 minutes and features interviews with Louie, his children, Laura Hillenbrand, and others. This feature focuses on telling more of the facts of Louie’s life from the Olympics through his death that were not covered during the movie. This feature is safe to watch with all of the family, even the little children.

As impactful as the movie is, the second disc may be even more so. The Legacy of Faith Edition disc contains over 90 minutes of bonus content in several sections. There is a CBN interview with Louie, a message from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association with Louie, and an almost hour-long interview between Louie Zamperini and Pastor Greg Laurie. During the  Louie and Laurie interview, Pastor Laurie asks Louie questions that center on the sections of the Unbroken movie and the faith and trials behind each part. Louie shares from his heart about the things he did right and wrong in his life. He then shares about how God got ahold of his life during the Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles. Billy Graham shared the message of the cross, forgiveness, and salvation. At first Louie walked away mad, but returned on a later night where he gave his life to Christ and the real miracle of his life began.

My favorite bonus feature was the one from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association  (Captured By Grace,) that allows Louie to tell you in his own words about his life. It tells the story from both the view of Billy Graham at his first major crusade in Los Angeles, and from the perspective of Louie as a heartbroken, traumatized war veteran, who suffered daily nightmares because of the torture he endured in the POW camp. Louie was a sinner who met his Savior under that tent. Christ changed his life completely.

Each of the features on this disc should be ok to watch with your family of various ages. I was amazed to learn how Louie returned to Japan after receiving Christ as Savior and shared his faith with the prison guards he had suffered under at the POW camp. Those men were at Sugamo Prison for war crimes when Louie went with his message of forgiveness. He forgave them and told them about Jesus.

Overall, I heartily recommend this 2 DVD set, that currently retails for $19.97, for your family. While watching the Unbroken movie and seeing the emaciated bodies of POW’s and the torture they received may not be something you want to watch over and over again, it will open your eyes and your heart in a new way. To hear and see how truly horrific the POW camps were added another layer to my understanding of how God never leaves us, and showed me how He was guarding and guiding Louie to Himself all the way until that day under the tent at the Billy Graham crusade. All of the bonus features will be watched over and again here at our house. They remind us of God’s faithfulness and mercy.

The life of Louie Zamperini was amazing. Louie died on July 2, 2014 at the age of 97. After surviving 47 days on a life raft, two years in a POW camp, and years of struggle with PTSD induced nightmares, God changed Louie’s life for eternity when he accepted Christ’s gift of salvation. Louie skateboarded until he was 81, and skied until he was 91. He took that gift of salvation and led a life devoted to giving to others. 

My favorite quote from Louie’s interviews is “you have to be charitable to the end.” Am I being charitable, am I being loving, to the end of my life? Each time I watch this 2 DVD set from I will be reminded of Louie’s life and what it means to be Captured By Grace. Review

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 5/14/15 - More Abundantly

I was in college the first time I read all the way through my Bible. There were a lot of books that just weren't read from very often in church while I was growing up. I knew I needed a deeper understanding of God, and that there must be answers to my questions in there somewhere. I think that first time reading all the way through gave me pause to realize just how much God has left us in His Word. As I was thinking about what I'm thankful for right now, my mind keeps going back to a verse I had heard growing up, but didn't even begin to understand until college. Reading through God's Word opened my eyes and my heart. God helped me understand a lot of things, but I'm still working on others.

In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus refers to Himself as the good shepherd. Knowing what I know now about sheep, I can understand my great need for a shepherd. I am thankful for Christ to lead, guide, and protect me. The verse that keeps coming back to mind is John 10:10. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." NKJV

What does it mean to have life more abundantly? If we asked ten different people we might get ten different answers. The answer that matters is what God meant about more abundantly. I have not figured all of that out, but I know it hinges on verse nine: "I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and go in and out and find pasture." ESV 

Sheep can be quite content in a pasture with a good shepherd. Am I content? Hmm. 

What about your life? Is it an abundant life? To live more abundantly does not mean having more things, it means having Christ.

I want to be thankful for everything that God has blessed me with, but most importantly, I want to be thankful for Christ. 

Abundant life. 

Think about it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 5/7/15 - Forgiveness

I am thankful for forgiveness. Thankful to receive it, thankful to be able to extend it. Life rarely ends up as we plan it. That makes forgiveness even more precious. We can change the outcome of any day simply by offering forgiveness to those who might have wronged us. We also need to forgive ourselves. God changes the end of a life when He offers us forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ. That should cause us all to shout for joy!

Have a wonderful weekend - go spend some of it with your Mom!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance - A Crew Review

I first heard Heidi St. John speak at a homeschool convention I attended early last year. Several of my friends had heard her speak a few weeks prior and shared how encouraging she was. I wanted to hear Heidi myself because my friends told me she was full of humor, grace, and honest reality. She did not disappoint. After hearing Heidi speak I went down to her booth and purchased a copy of The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight. While listening to Heidi speak I had been reminded once again that I had been doing a lot of drifting as a homeschool Mom and needed to do more planning. This Spring I had the opportunity to review Heidi's Book, The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance, for the Schoolhouse Review Crew and I answered "pick me, pick me!"

Both books are available from Real Life Press in printed softcover or eBook versions. For this review I received the eBook version of The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance and read it on my tablet. The tagline for this book says "nurturing your marriage through the homeschool years." I liked that thought, and I knew I needed a push to spend some more time focusing on my husband. As Homeschool Moms we seem to have about a million things on our minds everyday, and, as Heidi points out, physical time with our husbands sometimes isn't one of those top things. On the converse, I think husbands must think about the physical side of marriage all the time.

In this gem of a book, Heidi calls homeschooling Moms back to being "That Girl." Maybe you remember her? “That Girl” was you when you got married: flirty, fun, and more interested in sex than grading math papers! Heidi's writing is filed with grace, humor, and heart-felt calls to challenge us to get back to Biblical marriage. Throughout the book Heidi encourages Moms to focus on God first, their husbands second, and then their children. I'll be the first to admit that I've gotten those three out of order a time or two recently. I've not been purposely ignoring my husband, but I'm sure he sometimes feels that way because there is simply so much for me to do everyday. Here is a tip from Heidi - You can't do it all! Can I get an Amen here sisters?!

There is a thought out there that says homeschooling Moms should be SuperWoman and find a way to accomplish everything - everyday. That is a lie straight from the pit of Hell that layers guilt upon us when we fail. God's truth in His Word tells us that we are to come to Him for strength, for comfort, and for provision. What the world tells us and what God tells us are two polar opposites. There is a vast difference between the Holy Spirit’s convicting our hearts and feeling guilty. I was encouraged my Heidi's strong call to return first to the Lord, and secondly to our marriages with an eye on both today and the future. Eventually our children will grow up and move out. What kind of relationship will you have with your husband by then? If you nurture your marriage it should be thriving, but if you neglect your marriage it could be dying. It is a tragedy when we stop following God's plans and start following our own. I have heard of homeschoolers getting divorced. Any divorce is a tragedy, I cannot imagine the grief when children are involved and their world is turned upside down. 

Do you miss your husband when he is gone from home? I do! After reading Heidi St. John's book, I was reminded once again that I need to tell and show him that I miss him. Stop assuming your husband can read your mind - he can't. I can't read my husband's mind, and he is often clueless about what I am thinking. That’s just the way it works - we need to communicate! I sometimes get so weary that I forget that I haven't talked with him about a lot of things that are going on in our lives. 

Heidi reminded me of something I already knew, but had pushed aside... "I am a daughter of the King!" When I remember Whose I am, I am reminded that He brought us together in this marriage for His purposes. My love for God should overflow and provide a fertile place for my love for my husband to grow. She reminds the reader that “With Jesus it’s NEVER TOO LATE!”

I don’t want to live a life that runs parallel to my husband’s, and I’ll hazard a guess that you don’t want to live parallel lives either. I want mine and my husbands' lives intertwined and held together by Christ! Heidi reminds us to watch out that we are not getting sucked into the ‘homeschool vortex,’ or developing a ‘homeschool headache.’ Have you stopped recently to think about what your husband desires for your marriage? She writes “For most husbands, the greatest pleasure he has in his life is the physical relationship he shares with his wife.” Let’s be honest, Biblical marriage includes sex, and lots of it. The world has tried so hard to pervert sex that we might have forgotten that God created sex for marriage. Let’s search for “That Girl” and get back to physical intimacy that glorifies God. Not all of marriage is sex, but a lot of it is! You’re married, go have a PDA (public display of affection) and kiss your husband like you mean it! When your teens start saying “parents are gross,” and chuckle as they walk away you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Near the end of her book, Heidi shares tableaus from her grandparents’ married life. Reading these short scenes reminded me of many instances I have seen in my own family - my Parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. Truly loving someone means preferring them, respecting them, showing them your love in actions, not just words.

I have a renewed sense of hope for those years after homeschooling. With our youngest a Freshman in High School, those years will be here soon. I want us to finish our journey well. I want to have a healthy marriage where we rest and thrive in God’s plan. I am going to print out some of Heidi’s words from the very last chapter and put them in my Bible where I will be reminded of them often, “Try to see your marriage as an opportunity to be the wife God has created you to be. When you do, it can change your life. Instead of criticizing your spouse, pray for him. Love him. Prefer Him. Grow old with him. The impact you will have by living out and then leaving behind a legacy of love will reach far into future generations. Finish well.”

I want to finish well, don’t you? Get yourself a copy of this encouraging book. Your husband will be glad you did!

Visit with Heidi on Facebook or Pinterest!

Other members of the Crew reviewed The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight and several other books from Real Life Press. Click the link below to read all the reviews!

Real Life Press Review

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Weeks 16 & 17 - The Master Closet (and no bath!)

I know, I know, it has been a long time since I've given you an update on how our cleaning and decluttering is going. Frankly, it's been a few weeks since we could set aside time to do more than basic upkeep. Week 13 was Pictures & Scrapbooks. I did pull out my pictures that week...and I used several for our Real Life Homeschooling series. Then I put them back in the boxes. Week 14 was Arts and Crafts. Half of our art & crafts things are really organized- we did that over the winter. The other half? I'm not ready for you to see that mess yet. It might be what gets tackled this next week during our Half-Time Catch-up week. Week 15 was the Master Bedroom, and while I pick up every week, it's difficult to do any deep cleaning when it seems there is almost always one of us asleep in there. Kurt works nights and sleep during the days. I work 3 or 4 days a week and sleep at night. The one or two times I wasn't too tired from work to do some cleaning? We decided a hike in the woods with our friends was more important. We had been waiting a long time for Spring to arrive!

So where does that leave us? I still need to do a deep cleaning in our bedroom, so maybe I can start that as well during this Catch-up week. I will let you know that I have been decluttering the closet for the Week 16 challenge. We don't have a Master Bath, so I didn't have an assigned task for week 17. Back to the closet...It's that time of year when I want to get out all the shorts and cute tops that are stored in the attic. The problem is the closet was still full of turtlenecks and other long-sleeved tops. (This is Indiana folks - you never know what the weather will be like so you need to keep a few cold-weather things available year round! Rain and 55 degrees for a high in July is not unheard of around here.) This morning before Kurt went to sleep I tackled the closet. Out came most of the heavy-weight tops, and the corduroy pants. I pulled a few things of Kurt's that he hasn't been wearing to take up to the attic as well. We have a really small closet, so space is at a premium. I organized what was left, including our small suitcases and my extra purses. I refolded all those things that had tipped over on the top shelf, and I moved my beading supplies to their appropriate place in the closet in the other room, (the one we organized last winter.) I have often wished our closet was not pink, but let's be honest, it's not high on my priority list - so pink it has stayed. A couple years ago I did put together a quick shelf extender to keep the hats up off of the top of the folded clothes. I'm pretty sure I still have enough lumber scraps in the basement to make another one, so I should get that done and use it to organize the overnight bags. After purging things that didn't need to be in the closet and assigning them to the attic or the giveaway pile, I found enough room to place all but two of my purses up on the shelf. One hangs on the back of the closet door with my belts, and the other is my everyday purse that sits by my nightstand. The one thing that I know still needs done is vacuuming the bottom of the closet. Hopefully I will remember to do that this evening when Kurt gets up to prepare for work tonight. I had already kept him up almost an hour past his normal snoozing time with my cleaning and decluttering, so I figured the vacuuming could wait.

34 weeks of cleaning with friends, master bedroom closet

Besides knowing I still need to clean off and clean out my dresser, I've been reading Heidi St. John's book, The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance, for an upcoming review. Just like her book I read last year, The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight, this one has had me laughing and cringing as I realize that God has some work to do in me. Knowing that our cleaning and decluttering was focusing on the Master Bedroom, I've been trying to figure out a low-cost (really a no-cost) way to make our bedroom more inviting. It has never been a huge clutter magnet (with the exception of the top of my dresser,) but it needs a lot of TLC. Now that the sun is staying up later, I should be able to devote some time to getting it really clean, and airing it out, so it invites more than just sleep. 

This cleaning journey is just that - a journey of 34 weeks, not a day-long project. This wouldn't make a show on the DIY network because it takes more than 48 hours to complete. Will my home be pristine when we're finished? Not likely-LOL! Will it be more of a home and less of a dump-site? It is already showing real improvement. Like anything in life, doing a job well takes time. This decluttering is helping me free myself from things I've been keeping just-in-case. This morning after I worked on the closet, we stopped by the local Christian Center and dropped off some quality things we didn't need anymore. It's a mindset to grasp, not just an action plan. Michele isn't asking us to give up things we love or use regularly. She is challenging us to give up things that are just things. Every time we remove more stuff from our home, we make the weekly upkeep cleaning easier. Our "No More Junk" drawer from week 3 still looks great. The kitchen isn't doing too bad either. I'm looking forward to having less stuff and more time. I even sold some of our old curriculum and had spending money for our state homeschool convention.

Soon it will be Mother's Day. That signals our frost-free date around here, and more of my time spent outdoors gardening. I am happy to say that we are learning even more about the value of free time around here. It's a precious commodity in a home with two working parents. Emily and Arlene are almost finished with school for the year, and we are all looking forward to Kurt taking a few days off for their birthdays so we can all four do things together. The real meaning of home is centered on the relationships with the people inside, not the amount of things on the shelves or in the drawers.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to gather the girls for another botany lesson as we plant a plum tree and transplant the escaping strawberry runners! Have a wonderful weekend!