26 Decluttering Questions to Ask Yourself at Any Time

Can you find what you’re looking for in your house? Or are you thinking about decluttering your house? It might be time to ask yourself these 26 questions.

26 Decluttering Questions

1. Would I take it to a new home?

2. Will I even remember to look for it?

3. Do I have another item that would work just as well?

4. Could it better used by someone else?

5. How often will I use it?

6. If I didn’t have it, would I buy it again?

7. Why have I kept this?

8. If I lost it in a disaster, would I be sad?

9. Would someone think it was trash if they saw it?

10. Is it still fresh and edible?

11. Will my children ever want to own it?

12. Does it fit with my dreams for the future?

13. Is it only mine, or do I share it with others?

14. Did I remember that we had it, or would I forget about it again?

15. I might love it, but can I still use it?

16. Will someone get upset if I get rid of it?

17. Does someone need it more than I do?

18. Is it fun or enjoyable to me anymore?

19. Will anyone know it’s missing?

20. Do I want it for the next stage of my life?

21. Does it increase the quality of my life?

22. Is it hard to replace if I need it again?

23. Do I need to save it for taxes or legal reasons?

24. Have I used it in the past year?

25. Will getting rid of it give me the space I need?

26. Is this the image I want to portray?

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Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime by Janet and Geoff Benge (Book Review!)

We received this product to review!

Gladys Aylward

Ever since I began teaching my children, I’ve learned and realized how important biographies and other living books can be to learning about history and life. It is one of the best ways to learn about the different Christian missionaries throughout the history of the world. YWAM Publishing along with authors Janet and Geoff Benge are sharing Christian and historical heroes with the world through books and unit studies.
We were able to review
Christian Heroes- Gladys Aylward from the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series and the corresponding Unit Study this year. Last year we were able to review Milton Hershey: More Than Chocolate.

About Gladys Aylward:

Gladys Aylward lived from 1902 to 1970. She spent many of those years in China, her adopted country. She had no formal education and was a housemaid, but was determined to go to China for God. Ms. Aylward raised the money needed to travel overland by train, boat, mule, and foot to Yangcheng, China. She helped Mrs. Lawson, the missionary already there, to open an inn for the mule trains to relax at night and as a way to teach them Bible stories. She was the local foot inspector (to stop foot binding) and stopped a prison riot. All of these activities showed the local mandarin and villagers how important God was to Ms. Aylward. It earned her the name of Ai-weh-deh or “Virtuous One.” In 1936 she became a Chinese citizen and had already adopted orphans. The Japanese attacked in 1938 and she lead 94 children to safety over a 100 mile overland mountainous trail system. After that she became sick and returned to England when the Communists gained control. She returned in 1957 to Formosa (Taiwan) where she was able to teach and help the Chinese.

About the Authors:

Janet and Geoff Benge are currently married and live in Florida. Mrs. Benge used to be an elementary school teacher, and  Mr. Benge has a degree in history.  They have more than 30 years writing experience and have written more than 29 books in the Heroes of History series and 47 books in the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series.

Cover Photo

About the Unit Study:

As you can see from the Table of Contents below from the Unit Study there are a lot of activities to turn this book into a complete study of Ms. Aylward and China. There are guides for small groups, classroom, and homeschool in this two part study.  The first part of the study includes an introduction, quotes from the Bible, how to make a display corner, chapter questions, areas for students to explore (essay topics, creative writing, hands-on projects, and more), ways to connect to the local community, different social studies topics, related themes to explore,  ideas on how to hold a event to show what’s been learned, and other resources. There are also simple phrases in Chinese! The second part of the study has a fact sheet and maps. The section on social studies caught my eye, because of all that it included. There are places on the map to explore,  plotting her journey, terms/vocabulary, geography, and conceptual questions. This Unit Study is geared toward children of 10+, but younger children would enjoy the hands-on activities. This book and Unit Study can take as little or as much time as you and your children would like.

Unit Study Table of Contents

Our Experience: 

Everyone knows that it’s fun to read a book by themselves, but it’s also fun read a book aloud with others. That’s how C and I decided to approach this book. We either read inside with her coloring in an adult coloring book or outside with the sidewalk chalk. When I took a look at the unit study, I decided that answering the chapter questions would work the best in our current schedule. We began by answering the questions after several chapters but we soon found out that that wasn’t such a great idea. Too much information was getting forgotten in a couple of days. It worked much better to read the chapter and then immediately answer the questions. It was a fun bonding time between the two of us. The open-ended essay style questions really helped us bounce our opinions off of each other and to learn even more.

As a Read-Aloud


Mama’s Thoughts:

– I would really like to see a simple timeline in either the book or the unit study. It was hard for us to keep track of the different years and where Ms. Aylward was at that point in time. Sometimes we weren’t sure how much time she spent in one location and what year it was.

– We did watch the movie, Inn of the Sixth Happiness, that was made in 1958. It was interesting to see how different it was compared to Ms. Aylward’s real life. I’m glad that there are books like this one, so that we know her true life.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 15, officially in ninth grade and in public school):

B is busy with public school, so you will not see many reviews from him.

Gladys Aylward Unit Study front page

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 13, officially in seventh grade): 

My mom and I used Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime as a read-aloud for school. We would read some chapters and then answer the questions.

Here are somethings I like about this book.

1. I like this book, because it has lots of information and details about Gladys Aylwards life.

2. I thought this book was fun to read, because I like to learn about missionaries and their work.

3. I like this book, because there are lots of different games and activities you can make up to do along with it. Some are shared in the Unit Study.

Here are somethings I did not like about this book.

1. I think that there should be a timeline to go along with the book. A timeline would be helpful, because then you would know when something happened.

I think this book is great for all ages. You could read it yourself or have someone read it to you.

YWAM-Publishing-Logo-1

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YWAM-Publishing-482973445102/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/YWAMpublishing
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/YWAMpublishing
Instagram: @ywampublishing

Recap of pertinent information!

Product Link: Christian Heroes- Gladys Aylward from the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series

Vendor Information Link: YWAM Publishing

Age Appeal: Ages 10+

Format: The Unit Study is a 70 page PDF download. There are also blank maps, a fact sheet about China, Overview Guide (gives suggestions on how to use it), and bonus material. The book’s ISBN is 9781576580196 and is 208 pages in length.

Price: Please check the product link for current prices

Mama recommends YWAM Publishing to your family! 

Please click on the graphic below to learn what the other crew members on the review thought about  YWAM Publishing.


Fix It! Grammar: Little Mermaid (Book 4) Review from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)

We received this product to review!

Fix It! Grammar

I don’t know how much you either enjoyed grammar or remember it from when you were in school. What I can remember is just learning about nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, subjects, and predicates. I can honestly say that I’ve learned more from Fix It! Grammar from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)  than I did in all my years at school.

This program has 33 weeks of lessons with those lessons taking place 4 days a week. A daily lesson should take approximately 15 minutes each time, which makes it perfect for those who like short lessons or need them. The student is to copy the corrected sentences from the week in their notebook book on the fifth day of the week. There are also daily vocabulary words to learn and add to a notebook dictionary. Here are links to the placement testIntroduction to Fix It! Grammar Webinar, and a comparrison chart.

Our Experience: 

When I was growing up, my mom would always correct my grammar and was always there to give me suggestions on my papers, so I feel that it is very important to learn how to do grammar independently. A number of years ago we reviewed the Nose Tree [Book 1] and learned a great deal. We then purchased Robin Hood [Book 2] and went through it. It’s been a year since we concentrated heavily on grammar, so I thought The Little Mermaid [Book 4] would be good for C. after I looked at a sample of book 3. It was a good choice.

Teacher's Manual

We are currently going through it slowly, because C needed a confidence booster. For the first few weeks I ‘veworked diligently beside C helping her with phrases and clauses and sentence openers. I’ve encouraged her to find the prepositional phrases and subjects and verbs. It is just this week that I am having her work on everything more independently. It is working out really well! She is doing much better than she think she is. I will continue to work with her on the first day of the week, so that she knows the new concepts. (That is the way the program works.) I plan on having her work primarily independently for the rest of the week. I think I will write the Fixes and Grammar Notations down for her, so she knows what she needs be looking for. I will list indenting, spelling, punctuation, prepositional phrases, clauses, phrases, and sentence openers as things to look for. As I look at the Scope and Sequence at the back of the book, I see that as the weeks go by, she won’t be learning more about parts of sentences, punctuation, and style. She will be learning about different concepts and some of the weeks will be quizzes.  She learn about when –ing words are verbs, correlative conjunctions, imperative mood, and more.

In the last paragraph I mentioned that we are going slowly through the program. We are doing that, because it’s taking longer than 15 minutes to do a lesson.  It’s been taking us around 30 minutes. I think that it’s not because it’s too complex, but because each daily lesson has multiple sentences. I think this has been discouraging her, so I plan on splitting the lessons into two days until the fixing flows more easily for her.

Week 2 Teacher's Manual

Week 2

Mama’s Thoughts:

– I like how the lessons take an average of 15 minutes per day.  I also like how the concepts are reinforced throughout the week and build upon each other.

– I appreciate that when you purchase the Teacher’s Manual there is automatic access to the student e-book. It’s very easy to go to the website, access your account, and download the file for the book.  It is free to use within your immediate family or classroom. It would work very well for large families. I prefer to acquire the physical student book, because then I don’t have to print out the pages (printers can have problems cooperating) or to have an office company do it for me. C enjoys having her own special bound copy.

– The glossary is very helpful. I’ve referred to it often. It contains parts of speech; sentences, clauses, and phrases; punctuation; additional rules and concepts; and stylistic techniques. I can quickly find the answer to my question or to help C.  The student book has one as well.  It also has weekly grammar cards that are to be cut out, so the students can use them for easy assistance on a daily basis.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 15, officially in ninth grade and in public school):

B is busy with public school, so you will not see many reviews from him.

Scope and Sequence

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 13, officially in seventh grade): 

Here are some things I liked about Fix It! Grammar.

1. I like that there is a lot of extra information in the back of the book, things like verbs, pronouns, and lots of other things.

2. I also like that there are Learn It sections before each week’s lessons.

3. I like that there are grammar cards to cut out. I thought they were very helpful when you need to know something quickly.

Here are some things I did not like about Fix It! Grammar.

1. I think there needs to be more space in between the lines of the story. That way it is easier to fit in all the corrections.

2. I think that some of the days could have been a little shorter, because those days took longer than some of the other ones.

Product Photo

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/excellenceinwriting
Twitter: https://twitter.com/iew
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/iew/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/iewtv
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iew/

Recap of pertinent information!

Product Link: Fix It! Grammar

Vendor Information Link: Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)

Age Appeal: Grades 6+

Format: This set includes paperback copies of the teacer’s manual and student book. There are 4 lessons per week and 33 weeks.  Each of the lessons should take around 15 minutes. The 5th day of the week will be spent rewriting the passage from the week. Each book also contains a glossary.

Price: Please check the product link for current prices

Mama recommends Fix It! Grammar to your family! 

Please click on the graphic below to learn what the other crew members on the review thought about this program and others shown below.


Poetry & Short Stories: American Literature Set from Memoria Press (Review)

We received this product to review!

Poetry and Short Stories

When I was in junior high school, I remember reading great American short stories and poetry and enjoying them. I want C to have a similar experience (but learn more), so I was excited when we had the chance to review the Poetry & Short Stories: American Literature Set from Memoria Press. This literature set contains a variety of poems and short stories from the 19th and 20th centuries in a stand-alone book. The Student Guide and Teacher Guide are almost the same, but the Teacher Guide also includes the tests and answers. They both include the sections Pre-Grammar | Preparation, Grammar | Presentation, Logic | Dialectic, Rhetoric | Expression, and space for the Essay. You can see samples from “The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe on these pages: Text Sample, Student Sample, and Teacher Sample. You can also see samples of C’s finished work below.

Our Experience: 

Since C is in 7th grade and hasn’t had a literature intensive class yet, I decided that I would take this curriculum slowly with her. I chose to leave out the Essay Section at this point in time, because it would overwhelm her.  When it came in the mail and I read some of the questions, I decided that I would have her work as independently as possible.  I would always be there to help her though, because she has never learn with the Socratic method before. To make this fun for her, I let her choose the poems or short stories we would work on.  We began with “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  We’ve done “Sea Shell” (Amy Lowell), “The Gift of the Magi” (O. Henry), “The Chambered Nautilus” (Oliver Wendell Holmes), and are currently working on “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” (Emily Dickinson).

Since this program was new to us, I thought I would have her work on the Pre-Grammar | Preparation, Grammar | Presentation, read the literature, and work on the comprehension questions on one day. The next day we would work on the Logic | Dialectic section, and on the third day we would finish up with the Rhetoric | Expression section. For the most part this schedule worked. It was when we worked on longer poems or short stories that we needed to take more time, because there were more vocabulary words and questions.  The questions that took the longest were in the Logic | Dialectic section. We found that these questions took longer, because the Socratic method is being used. This method is used, because C needed to be thinking towards the abstract truth.  It’s the abstract or general truth which lead us to the 4th and final section, Rhetoric | Expression.  It was in this section that C would need to determine her idea of the Central One Idea. After she determined her Central One Idea, I would share mine (from the book) with her.  Each poem or short story took us 4 to 5 days to complete.  If C was doing the Essay section it probably would have taken 6 to 7 days to complete each one.  I would also add a day for the test that goes with either the author or the work.  We have not done the tests yet. 

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Mama’s Thoughts:

– I’m glad that the Socratic method is being used to discover the Central One Idea, because C and I are learning new ways to think. This is a method of thinking that to my knowledge I’ve never officially learned about either in high school or college (I majored in English). If I had learned this method, I know that I would have done better in college, so I really feel that this course is important for C. The ideas and methods being taught will serve her for her entire life.

– I enjoy American literature, so I’m glad that I can pass my love and knoweldge of these stories and poems to C.

– I like the selection of literature from Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sidney Lanier, James Russell Lowell, Richard Hovey, Ernest Lawrence Thayer, John Greenleaf Whittier, Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandburg, O. Henry, Amy Lowell, and Robert Frost. In the appendex of the literature there is a selection of British poetry.  C was disappointed when they weren’t included in the Student Guide, but we can use them for enrichment during the year.   

– I appreciate the “Words to Be Defined” section, because there are many words in these works that C may not know. It’s nice that she can see the Definitions Bank to figure out what the words mean.  She also has the option to read the story, then fill out parts that she didn’t know previously.  She has been doing surprisingly well. She knew words that I didn’t.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 15, officially in ninth grade and in public school):

B is busy with public school, so you may not see as many reviews from him.

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C’s Thoughts (girl, age 13, officially in seventh grade): 

Here are somethings I liked about Poetry & Short Stories: American Literature Set .

1. Every time you start a new story you get to learn lots of new words and their definitions especially in “The Ransom of Red Chief.

2. I like doing poems because it is easier for me to answer the questions.

Here are somethings I did not like about Poetry & Short Stories: American Literature Set.

1. I do not like doing Emily Dickinson’s poems, because they say one thing and mean something totally different.

2. I do not like having to come up with the Central One Idea, because it’s hard for me to come up with the idea.

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Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/memoriapress/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MemoriaPress       
Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/memoriapress/
Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/memoriapress/        
YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/user/memoriapress/


Mama recommends Poetry & Short Stories: American Literature Set  to your family! 

Recap of pertinent information!

Product Link: Poetry & Short Stories: American Literature Set

Vendor Information Link: Memoria Press

Age Appeal: Grades 7+

Format: This set includes paperback copies of Poetry & Short Stories: American Literature (19th-20th Centuries), the Teacher Guide, and the Student Guide.

Price: Please check the product link for current prices


Please click on the graphic below to learn what the other crew members on the review thought about this program and others shown below.


Photo of the Week!- Sidewalk Chalk Drawings

Spring time for me means spending more time outside in the sun, warmer temperatures, and fresher air. One of my daughter’s favorite spring time activities is to get outside with the sidewalk chalk. She likes to draw flowers, family members, the sun, houses and more. If she runs out of room on the sidewalk, she can use our old wooden fence as a canvas. There are still marks on the fence from three years ago when my nieces and nephews were here.  There were six kids having fun drawing on the fence that day. It was a lot of fun to look in the backyard and see memories that were made. 

Spring Time Sidewalk Chalk Drawing of Tulips

I like sidewalk chalk art, because it gives the child a large canvas. Once it rains or it’s sprayed with a hose, then the blank canvas is back and once again the child can be as creative as they desire. You can find many ideas for them on Pinterest, only if they need help. When there is a drawing that they especially like, you can easily take a picture with your phone or even a camera.  Sidewalk chalk is easy to purchase as well. I’ve seen is for sale at both retail and hobby stores. Have a fun time this spring and summer getting outside and being an artist with your children!

                              Spring Time Sidewalk Chalk Drawing of Daddy         Spring Time Sidewalk Chalk Drawing of Mama

“One fun thing to do is to try to draw portraits of my family,” says C.

Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. (Review)

We received this product to review!

ARTistic Pursuits-003

Are you looking for an art program to use with your children?  Do you find it intimidating to teach art and art history to your children?  Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. is part of the series K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8, by Brenda Ellis.  This volume is perfect for eight to ten year-old children.  This hardcover book has six video lessons (on DVD and Blue-ray) and twelve lessons based on a specific American artist (John James Audubon, Rembrandt Peale, Winslow Homer and more). 

The video lessons include:

  1. Drawing is Moving
  2. Drawing a Good Line
  3. Identifying Light and Dark
  4. Colored Pencils
  5. Layered Colors
  6. Ruler and Compass 

The supplies needed are

  • Prismacolor colored pencil set
  • Ebony pencils
  • Eraser
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Drawing paper pad
  • Rule
  • Compass with pencil
  • Construction paper

ARTistic Pursuits-001

Our Experience: 

One of C’s favorite art activities is watching different artists on PBS, then painting different landscapes in acrylic and oil paints.  She also enjoys coloring in a variety of different adult coloring books.  One art technique she doesn’t have much experience with is drawing, so she was interested in learning more with Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 (link to a look inside).  Since she is in seventh grade, I decided that she would be able to complete two lessons a week, Monday and Friday.  We would either watch the video and C would complete the drawing, or we would read about the artist and C would complete the drawing task.  She has enjoyed the lessons thus far, but she has decided that she would like me participate with her.  I’m looking forward to trying my hand at drawing the different subjects in the lessons.

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Mama’s Thoughts:

– I liked how the supply list for this volume was simple.  We had many of the supplies already, so that showed me that the simple list  will work well for large families or those on a tight budget. 

– The videos lessons were great.  They showed the exact techniques that were needed to continue that lesson’s drawing and those following.  Here is a link to one of the video lessons

-The lessons that were based on the different American artists were very descriptive.  They helped C learn about artists that she might never come across like Charles Demuth, Charles Burchfield, and Walter Ufer and their techniques.  I too learned more than I ever learned in the different art classes I took.

– The Prep Notes were a blessing, because C knew what she needed to do to be completely prepared.  She needed to look for photos of animals and plants, find a family member to sit for her, light colored objects, and more.

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B’s Thoughts (boy, age 15, officially in ninth grade and in public school):

B is busy with public school, so you may not see as many reviews from him.

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C’s Thoughts (girl, age 13, officially in seventh grade): 

Here are some things I liked about Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8.

1. I liked that there were videos to go along with the lessons.

2. I liked all the examples of drawings in the book.

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Here are some things I did not like about Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8.

1. I did not like that we had to use an Ebony pencil for every drawing.

2. I did not like that I had to get to lesson 7 before I could use color.

I think this product would be good for people of all ages.


Artistic Pursuits Logo

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArtisticPursuitsInc/
Twitter: @ARTisticPursui1 
Instagram: @artisticpursuitsinc

Mama recommends ARTistic Pursuits Inc. to your family!  Here is a descriptive list of the other books in the series.

– Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1 contains an introduction to watercolor crayons, oil pastels, and paper folding and cutting.
– Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol. 2 uses pastels and clay to explore the art of the Roman Empire.
– Art of the Middle Ages, K-3 Vol. 3 contains lessons using colored paper, pastels, weaving, and needlework from the artists of the Middle Ages.
– Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance, K-3 Vol. 4 will show children how to use watercolors, fresco, scratch art, and more.
– Art of the Northern Countries, Renaissance to Realism, K-3 Vol. 5 teaches children about printmaking methods, charcoal, and more.

– Art of the Impressionists, K-3 Vol. 6
uses gouache painting, modeling, and  sculpting to show the art of the Impressionists.
– Art of the Modern Age, K-3 Vol. 7  introduces 20th century artists and the children will use acrylic paint, foil and plaster sculpting.

Recap of pertinent information!

Product Link: K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8

Vendor Information Link: ARTistic Pursuits Inc.

Age Appeal: K-3, We reviewed Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8, good for those 8-10 years of age.

Format: Hardcover book, DVD, and Blu-ray.  There is a list of supplies needed.

Price: Please check the product link for current prices


Please click on the graphic below to learn what the other crew members on the review thought.


Photo of the Week!- May I come in? Please…

Hello all!  We’re finally getting spring here, but I wanted to show you a couple of photos I found on the camera.  Often times in the winter we feed the squirrels and birds.  It’s fun and relaxing to watch and observe the way the eat and play with each other.  Our squirrels enjoy the extra food so much that they come to the door to ask for more. 

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