Monday, December 31, 2018

Welcome to 34 Weeks of Clean 2019!

Oh. My. Word!  We are back at it.  34 Weeks of Clean starts next week and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous about the journey.  We just retired from the military after 26 years, moved into our "forever" home, and are still in shock that we are living in sunny Arizona.  Lots of changes have taken place in our lives and we are still trying to find our new normal. 

BUT, like you- there is always a new project waiting for us.  And let's face it, it is much more fun when you work as a team!  So let's get started!

It is about deep cleaning every space of your house.
It is about decluttering those spaces.
And finally, it is about re-organizing those spaces.

One week at a time.  One space at a time!

You CAN do it!  Our first run of 34 Weeks of Clean (several years ago) proved to be helpful to many.  With a little hard work and a lot of cheering from friends, you too can take your house back!

How did this craziness all begin?

34 Weeks was a project born out of the need to keep busy during my husband's year long deployment, but turned into a passion I did not even know I had.  Yes, I have always loved lists and schedules and calendars and been a little type-A about my house, but what I did not realize was how passionate I was about helping others take control of their homes and the stuff within.  34 Weeks gave me the opportunity to share some hints I have learned along the way and since then has even allowed me to speak with a MOPS group about how to declutter and clean, making your house a place that will be filled with God's peace, and allowing you to open your home to others.

34 weeks not only became a verb in our home and others, you know- "What happened to that basket?" "Oh, mom 34 weeked it!", but it also buried itself deeper and deeper in my heart.  We never run out of the need to clean, declutter, and take control of our homes.  It is NOT a one time deal, as nice as that would be.  

So let me answer a few questions-

Why are you doing this again?
Maybe because I am a glutton for punishment! ;)  Not really.  So many of you asked, so here we are.  Whether or not I posted, my family would be following this schedule.  It is just what we do.  I am thrilled that so many have found it to be helpful in their lives as well and it is fun to share and compare notes each week.  Cleaning, decluttering, and organizing are not just a one time fix.  Our homes do not remain static, no matter how hard we try - thus the need to "rinse and repeat," as one friend put it!

Why 34 Weeks?
It just worked out that way!  Can it be done faster?  I am sure it can.  But take it from those of us who have done this before - if you push too hard or try to work ahead you risk burnout.  This is not a race. Our homes did not get to the place they are now in a day and they will not be magically fixed in a day!

What does joining us mean?
That you will follow along as we go!  No need to subscribe (although we would love for you to subscribe) and nothing to fill out.  No fees!  No contracts.  Just hop on the blog each Monday for the week's assignment.  If you want an easy reminder, make sure to like our Facebook page- links will be posted there each Monday!

What do I do then?
How you tackle the assignment is up to you.  No one's house is quite the same and no one works in the same manner.  In addition, some projects will be harder or more time consuming than others. If you work during the week, you may find working on weekends is best for you.  If you are a busy mom of multiple children, you may enjoy enlisting their help and working as a team.  If you are a night owl, 15 minutes a night may be best for you.  Find what works for you and go for it!

Do I need to report in?
Nope!  But we would love it if you would help us encourage others by checking in occasionally!  We love when you post pictures on our Family, Faith and Fridays Facebook page! It helps inspire others, really it does.

What if my results don't look like yours?
OK, I made that question up.  But I want to say this - everyone's idea of clean is different.  Everyone's idea of decluttered is different.  Everyone's idea of organized is different.  We ARE ALL DIFFERENT!  This is not a competition.  It is a chance for YOU to take YOUR home back.  Enjoy YOUR results and know you are doing a GREAT job!

Why one week at a time?  Because these are not small projects.  We are deep cleaning, de-cluttering AND re-organizing!  Yes, it is a challenge.  Yes, it is worth it!  In the end you will feel like you have a new house and a new lease on life.  Trust me, I know!  It is freeing to unload stuff you don't need or love.  It feels good to walk into a house that is clean and says welcome.  And it saves much time and effort to live in an organized house!

I know some of you have gotten industrious and moved out a lot of stuff already.  Can I just encourage you to slow down a bit and wait for the rest of us?  It is exciting to get started but I know from experience that those who bolt out of the starting gate at lightening speed are usually the ones that fade out the fastest.  There is a reason we tackle one project or area one week at a time.  34 Weeks of Clean- our houses, our messes, and ALL that it encompasses is just one tiny part of our lives.  We must not let it become an idol.  It should NOT consume our lives.  (shhh, don't tell my kids!)  I truly believe your life can be blessed by 34 weeks, but there are many other blessings out there you don't want to miss.  Clean, declutter, and organize with us each week and then GO, enjoy your life.

Let me say it again, don't work ahead!  Please.  You will wear yourself out in just a few weeks.  Take your time each week and do it well.  Don't give up!  You CAN do this and you WILL be blessed by it!  Just remember it is a journey not a sprint.  Your house did not get in the shape it is in one day.  It is a slow creep, and it takes time to reverse the mayhem.

So each Monday, beginning on January 7th, we will be posting your new 34 Weeks of Clean assignment!  And yes, heads up, we will start with Christmas decorations.  If you are new, jump in and join the fun!  If you participated before, I am so glad you are back.  The posts will be updated (because my new house needs a lot of work) and expanded a bit so hopefully you won't get bored.  (Who gets bored while cleaning, anyway?)

Be ready to clean, purge, and organize your house back into shape and cheer each other on!  I am so thrilled you are joining us on this adventure!  Can't wait to get to know you!

Week 4- Fridge, Freezer and Floors
Week 5- Recipes 
Week 6- The Stove and Loose Ends 
Week 7- The Dining Room 
Week 8- The Living Room 
Week 9- Books 
Week 10- Bathrooms  
Week 11- The Foyer
Week 12- The Family Room and DVDs 
Week 13- Pictures and Scrapbooks
Week 14- Arts, Crafts and Hobbies 
Week 15- The Master Bedroom  
Week 16- The Master Closet 


Friday, December 21, 2018

Disney Days

A quick family update, because some do come just for that! Crazy, right, but when you live far away from family, it is the way many of us keep in touch.

Riley our college senior arrived home last Tuesday.  Yay us!  We gave her one day to acclimate to the house (she only saw the new house when we were house hunting), and then we headed to Disneyland for a few days.  Since it is only a 6 hour drive we knew we couldn't pass up the opportunity.  With our kids getting older by the second, we know our family vacation days are numbered.

There is so much a could share with you but I will keep it short for sanity's sake.

  • The Pleasants do theme parks like a military mission!  Go, go, go, go, GO!  Some things never change.
  •  Riley is a great leader.  She told us where to go and what to do, and we just went along for the ride.  That girl belongs there! 
  • Disneyland is much more laid back than Disneyworld!  Love both, but seriously, this vacation was actually relaxing!
  • We picked awesome dates to visit.  Not sure if was the weekday choices or the specific week, but we had SHORT wait times (10-20 minutes) the whole time.
  •  Max pass is a gift from God.  Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but seriously, worth the extra pennies. 
  • I am thankful that we walked 5-8 miles each day, because Disney food is yummy.  Just saying! 

Riley turned 21 while were there!  Can't think of a more perfect place for her to be for a special day!

A few just for fun!

We had such a great time and are thankful we were able to sneak in a quick trip.  If you haven't been- add this to your bucket list.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas in Arizona

While I admit to loving the sunny Arizona weather, I also admit that it has been a bit hard for me to get into the holiday mood with the 70 degree temperatures.  After all, the last few places we have lived have been blanketed in snow quite often, and while I do NOT like being cold, I LOVE SNOW!

And just for the record, there is no snow in Arizona.  Well, at least none here in the greater Phoenix area.

But it IS December and time to decorate.  I have been dragging my feet a bit this year.  In my defense, I DID just decorate this house a mere 3 months ago when we moved in.  Every time I thought about bringing out the boxes of Christmas decorations I got a bit overwhelmed.  Not with the volume, per se thanks to 34 Weeks of Clean, but just to the idea of moving things around again.

Luckily for my kiddos I have pulled up my boots straps and set a few things out.  Things are a bit simpler this year, but I did get our trees up.

The Cross tree is still my favorite I think-

But the Americana tree grips my heart every time I look at it, reminding me of the 26 years of our lives as a proud Air Force family.

The kids' tree hold memories of my childhood as well as of our kids

We always out out the ceramic tree that my aunt made years ago.  I love pulling it out each year- reminds me of the love of family!

And of course our family tree which is waiting to be decorated on Wednesday after our college girl gets home!  We can't wait.

This year we put our white nativity out.  It is one that I grew up watching my grandmother put out each year.  It is still one I love because of the memories it holds.

The other nativity we pulled out this year is one from Guatemala, to celebrate Colby's heritage.

And of course, Ashton decorated the mantle again.  Because she is talented and I am not!

A few extra touches-

A sweet treat from a friend!

 This year we join our sweet neighborhood in decorating with outside lights in addition to wreaths and such.  Several streets here have lit arches lining the sidewalks and rumor has it our street is next.

Regardless of what decorations go up or not, my prayer is that we keep the main thing, the main thing.  The decorations are beautiful, and my heart may still long for snow, but none would be needed if we weren't celebrating the birth of our Savior.  If we strip all the extras away, I pray we are still as joyous and content- knowing that the Savior's birth, his death to save us, and our salvation are the REAL reasons for us to celebrate!

May you have a blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Our Favorite Blue Ribbon Winners

Each year The Homeschool Review Crew gives out Blue Ribbon Awards for their favorite review products of the year.  It is a much anticipated event among the Crew and sometimes the competition is fierce.  This year was no exception, as we were blessed by so many amazing vendors and curriculum this year.

The voting is finished and the results are in! Though it was a close race in several categories, 22 companies rose to the top out of the 66 total reviews the Crew did for the year.  That is over 4,500 review, you guys!

Favorite Reading Curriculum – Reading Eggs
Favorite Writing Curriculum – Memoria Press
Favorite Grammar Program- GrammarPlanet
Favorite Vocabulary Resource- Roman Roads Media

Favorite Penmanship Program- CursiveLogic
Favorite Literature Curriculum –Homeschool Navigator
Favorite History Curriculum- Drive Thru History Adventures
Favorite History Supplement – Home School in the Woods: Á La Carte Projects

Favorite Science Curriculum – Apologia: Anatomy
Favorite Math Curriculum – Whizz Education
Favorite Foreign Language Program – Roman Roads
Favorite Fine Arts Program – ARTistic Pursuits

Favorite Elective Curriculum – Code for Teens
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum – Bible Study Guide for All Ages
Favorite Christian Education Supplement – Planet 316
Favorite Preschool Product- Starfall Education Foundation

Favorite Elementary Product – Branch Out World
Favorite Middle School Product- The Critical Thinking Co.™
Favorite High School Product- The Master and His Apprentices
Favorite Parent Product – Great Waters Press

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed – Lisa Tanner Writing
Best Online Resource – Drive Thru History Adventures
Best e-Product – Home School in the Woods
Favorite Book –YWAM
Favorite Audiobook or Audio Drama – Heirloom Audio: Wulf the Saxon
Kids’ Choice –Reading Eggs
Teens’ Choice –Drive Thru History Adventures

I am not going to tell you all which ones I voted for, but I will share the reviews I did for some of the winners!   As Product Manager for the Crew, let me tell you that all our vendors are winners in my book.  One of the cool things about homeschooling curriculum is what doesn't work for one family may be perfect for another.  That is why I always give you an honest opinion of what we have used and then encourage you to check it out for yourself.  Our kids are all unique and have different likes and needs.

As you explore these vendors, keep in mind that many have gone before you in using the products and the reviews out there are to help you navigate your decisions.

The Homeschool Crew may be fairly quiet for a few months, but have no doubt we are getting ready for another big year of more vendors and more products.  Get ready to be blessed in 2019!

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Our reviews you may want to check out-
 Drive Through History Adventures


Monday, December 3, 2018

Maze Craze

Sometimes you just need something fun to do with your child, right?  Not school, not running errands, not going to appointments- and certainly not spending money!  We are all so busy these days, so sometimes it is just nice to snuggle up together and have a little quiet fun!

Usborne Around the World Mazes to the rescue!

I always loved doing mazes as a child so I was excited to review Usborne Around the World Mazes, for ages 6 plus, from Timberdoodle with Colby.  He is 11, currently in 6th grade, and loves mazes as much as I do!  Score!

This beautiful, full color maze book has 45 mazes in it.  They begin fairly easy and get harder as you work through them.  Some are only one page, while others branch across a double page spread.  Each has a different travel theme, introducing new places and things to see.

Armed with a pencil in case we made mistakes, Colby and I have tackled the mazes a few at a time together.  He usually traces the path with his finger first and then once we get it figured out, he goes back and draws the line in.  The first few were indeed pretty simple, but they quickly got more challenging as we went along.  Two that we have done we ended up going to the end of the puzzle and working our way backwards.  Is that considered cheating?

Don't worry, there is an answer key in the back for each puzzle in case you get stumped!

Why mazes?
  • Great way to relax
  • Great fine motor skill practice
  • Employ problem solving skills
  • Make fun gifts for people
  • Allow you to have some one on one time with your child
  • Allows a child to have some quiet time
  • Can keep a young child occupied while waiting
  • Can encourage cooperation when done with others
  • Can be used by multiple ages

And best of all- they are just plain fun!

I love just about everything that Timberdoodle carries, whether a stand alone product or one that is part of their curriculum kits!   Usborne Around the World Mazes is no exception.  There is still time to order a copy for a special child on your Christmas list!


Friday, November 23, 2018

Theater Room Update

We have been holding off on this room update because it has been a work in progress for a while.

When we began looking at houses here in AZ we found that a lot of them had theater rooms.  Maybe it is because of the summer heat and people need a place to retreat or maybe we just live in a world of movie loving people, but either way it was a bit of a surprise to me and kind of made me giggle.  After all, we are not a huge TV watching family and certainly did not need a theater room.

Well, guess what?  We ended up with a theater room.  And it still makes me giggle.

We retreat here most Friday nights for our family movie night and occasionally the older kids will watch something in the evening, but it really doesn't get much traffic.  Regardless, it is a fun room and one I knew I wanted to make special.

I had lots of ideas (most involved a Hobby Lobby run) and the kids nixed them all.  Yep, that's how we work around here. ;)

We finally settled on a simple approach to decorating.  All six of us chose our favorite movie and then we ordered a movie poster for each of them, had them framed, and hung them up.  DONE!

Want to have a little fun?  Can you guess whose movie is whose?

Completed room!


All I still need is a big basket of theater candy for our viewing pleasure.

Come on over and join us!


The Shawshank Redemption- Clarke
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat- me!
Little Women- Ashton
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty- Riley
The Martian- Salem
Prince Caspian- Colby