Tag Archives: organization

Forced Into Minimalism


Lately I’ve read numerous articles about prioritizing, organizing, simplifying and minimizing.  I suppose these ideas go well with the whole “spring cleaning” theme.  However helpful these themes are meant to be, they remind me of April two years ago and the hardest time our family has ever had.

On April 26th, 2011 we had to evacuate our home because of river and creek flooding.  We only took enough clothes for three days. We packed up our current homeschool books, supplies, and records.  The kids brought along one toy apiece.  We put a lot of things upstairs and put our furniture and appliances on concrete blocks, placed sand bags all around, grabbed mama cat and her kittens, and left.

The seven of us invaded the home of my husband’s sister.  Also, his parents, niece, her husband, and daughter were flooded out and were staying there, too (13 total).  It was crowded and tough getting along.   Everyone was stressed out, sad, frightened and worried.

It wasn’t until 2 weeks later before we could return to our home.  It was a nightmare!  The water line in the kitchen measured 42 inches.  Our furniture had floated off the blocks and tipped over.  A tornado had sucked out the kitchen window which in turn was an open invitation to every woodland and stray animal to take refuge in our house (upstairs included).  The septic system backed up into both bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room.    Oh, the smell was sickening and so much mold was growing on everything.  We were not going to be able to live there ever again.  Our belongings, including fifteen years of homeschooling books, projects, and records were completely ruined.

floodThe white foamy stuff in this photo is the mold that covered every inch of our home and belongings.  We had started our family twenty years prior to this event, so as you can imagine, we had a LOT of stuff.

The local news did a report from our driveway and yard about the dangers of poisonous snakes in flood zones.  And we found 2 snakes skins, one on the porch and one in the dining room.

After meeting with the insurance company, the Red Cross, and FEMA, we had the grand total of $8000 to start over with.

We stayed with my sister-in-law for three months, because there was not any rental property available in the area with so many being relocated.  Finally we were able to move into a tiny rental trailer.   We were greatly blessed by the charities of local churches, the Salvation Army and other ministries, who prayed with us, helped us with clothing , furniture, and brought us meals (they knew we were in too much shock to grocery shop, or prepare healthy meals).  We also, found out who our best friends really were.

By the following October, after living three months in that rental trailer, six months since the evacuation, we were approved for an emergency recovery loan for $50,000.  With more prayers, a very creative realtor, a caring loan officer, and sympathetic sellers, we had a HOME.

Today our home and furnishings fit into the categories of prioritized, organized, simplified, and minimized.  Though all these lifestyle and attitude changes did not happen to us by choice, I can look back and know without any doubt that these changes have been exactly what we needed.  We have learned about what is truly important. We understand the value of lending a helping hand to others.  We have much greater appreciation of the material things we have replaced.  We know that God doesn’t leave us or forsake us.  We are convinced that He provides us with what we need.  We are thankful.

betty jo

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The Office

My sweet J9 often says very insightful but odd things.  One day, he was sitting at the kitchen table.  He looked sad.  When I asked him about what was going on, he replied that he was in need of an office. I did not have a clue where this idea came from or where it was going, but I was curious.  I asked him why he needed an office, and J9 answered, “When you’re in an office, people do what you tell them to.”  Wow, suddenly he wasn’t the only one wanting an office, I wanted one, too.

We have two tables in our kitchen.  One for meals and school work, the other is a drop leaf that was a collection center for coats, books, groceries, random toys, etc.  That table only got cleaned off when company was coming and we needed more seating or room for a buffet.

J9 and I cleaned everything off the dropleaf.  Then we moved the homeschool records, school supplies, unit study box, and printer to that table. We hung a bulletin board.  And TA DA an office for J9 and me.

However, this has turned out to be a bit of a disappointment for him.  People (our family members and the boy next door)  do not do what he tells them to just because he tells them from an office.  J9 has shouted at us, “You’re fired!” (imagine Donald Trump), at least 10 times apiece. However, he does like having his computer time  there.

I am not disappointed at all in our office.  I love it.   It looks better. The organization is an improvement.  Before, our homeschool records were on the hutch in the living room.  The printer , mostly stayed in my bedroom (not convenient).  The unit study box could have been found anywhere (garage, under beds).  Now when one of the kids asks me where their folder is, I tell them, “It’s in the office”, and they actually will find it there.  I print off unit study pages and right away they go into the unit study box.  If we need a crafting supply, we simply look in the tote that’s stored under the table.  I even have a place for our homeschooling support group notebook.

The office is where I sip hot creamy coffee and plan our weeks.  It is where I can meet one on one with each kid to discuss work, grades, schedules, and such. It’s where the calendar and planner can be found.  And of course, the office is where parent-teacher conferences happen (insert a snicker or chuckle here).

Sometimes, the simplest ideas end up being the best ideas. After years of homeschool disorder we finally have some organization.  Our office cost nothing to set up.  We got it together in hardly any time at all.  I find it a wonderful home/ homeschool improvement. The office has become one of the best areas in our home.


the office            

Thank you, J9 for the idea.  And just maybe if you paid “your people”, they would do what you tell them to.

betty jo