Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Book Review: Goodbye Things


I’ve always struggled with stuff. I like being surrounded by things that trigger a happy memory or thoughts of loved ones. Plus, I often think, “But I can’t throw this thing away because I might need it.”

Lately, though, I’ve been motivated to get rid of stuff. Our kids are getting older and don’t need all the toys they used to play with every day. Also, my dear hubby detests clutter, and I do enjoy the white space he creates when he removes piles of clutter from around the house. I always feel more peaceful, too, after I put the laundry away or file the piles of paper that accumulate during a week.

That’s why I’ve been learning about minimalism. I like the idea that less is more, and it’s time to figure out why I want to be surrounded by so much stuff and how to get rid of the objects that don’t bring me joy. I also want to leave my kids a legacy of peace and joy, not things.

I found this book on Amazon Prime Reading and decided to read it before the New Year. This book is actually one of the best I’ve read on the subject of downsizing. Fumio Sasaki gave me many new thoughts on the process of minimalizing, and my perspective on things has changed because of this book.

Here are some of the key takeaways I discovered.

1.Minimalism: keep only what’s truly necessary to live, not to gain approval or for the purpose of appearances.

2. Less stuff = more freedom, less brain clutter, improved energy, space to daydream and be creative, which is important to me.

3. Our things are like roommates that take up space but don’t provide any intrinsic value.

4. Holding onto old stuff also holds us in bondage to an old image of ourselves when we could be embracing the present and pursuing a fresh start and new adventures in the future.

5. It’s ok to toss mementos from the past because we remember the memories that are most important. Also, we can prioritize the people in our lives, not the objects they gave us.

6. Give important things space to be impactful.

I recommend this book to anyone who’s curious about minimalism or needs a jumpstart to begin downsizing. It’s packed with wisdom, easy to read and very insightful. I’m adding it to my “read again” list!

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Five Easy Security Tips for Your New Home

Whether you’re moving out on your own for the very first time, finally found your dream home or are downsizing for retirement, security in your new home is important. I’ve moved a few times over the years, and security is always one of the first things on my mind. That’s why I compiled these top security tips. Don’t worry – they’re easy!

1. Close your blinds. Burglars like looking through windows to see what valuables you own, and they easily gain access through first floor windows. Keep your blinds closed to deter anyone from looking into your home!

2. Replace the door hinge screws. Did you know that most door hinge screws are super tiny? They’re easy to bust off during a break-in, so replace them with long screws.

door hinge screws

3. Watch your trash. Believe it or not, your trash reveals a lot about your home’s contents! Packing materials advertise that you’ve just moved in, and television or electronics boxes tell thieves that you own expensive stuff that’s easy to sell. Take any revealing items or boxes like these directly to the recycling center or landfill as you protect your home.

4. Change the locks. In a few minutes, you can change the door knobs and locks. Bonus tips: if you live in a dorm and can’t change the locks, ask for a new lock right away, and don’t give anyone a copy of your key!

5. Install fake cameras. Even if you don’t connect it – or it’s broken! – hang a surveillance camera near your home’s entrances and deter burglars.

These are my five easy security tips for a new home. What other security tips do you recommend?

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Tuesday’s Tip: Cut Credit Card Interest

Anyone else like to save money?



I sure do! I cut coupons and use Groupon and Living Social for restaurant and entertainment savings. I even shop at thrift stores, discount grocery stores and the dollar store whenever possible.

My desire to save money prompted me to sign up for daily emails from Dollar Stretcher Tips. Almost every day, I learn unique tips for saving money on everything from groceries to home improvements.

In today’s email, I learned something new about paying off credit cards. It’s going to help me, and maybe it will help you too!


When should you pay your credit card bill? That depends on whether you carry a balance or not.

If you don’t carry a balance, you should wait until the last day to pay your bill. You won’t be charged any interest unless you miss your due date.

If you have a balance from previous months, you want to get your payment in as soon as you can. You’ll be charged interest until the day your payment is credited to your account. If you get the bill on the 20th and don’t pay until the 30th, you’ll add a third of a month’s worth of interest to your account…that’s no bargain!


Want more money-saving tips? Sign up for The Dollar Stretcher!

And as always, feel free to share your favorite tips here so we can all save a little dough! Thank you!

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Organizing with Kids



Play time!

I’m always looking for new ways to keep our toys organized. My son collects toy cars, and I find them all over the house – under the kitchen cabinets, in my bedroom, under the sofa and yes, in the toy box.

Because of his autism, he sometimes decides that he wants to play with a particular car or truck. If we can’t find that particular toy, he gets anxious and upset. That’s one reason why we need a toy organization method that works! Plus, I want my kids to enjoy playing, but I don’t want someone to get hurt or the toys to get broken.

So far, we’ve tried a few toy organization methods.

  • Bins – He sorts his toys into a cube bin: one for cars, one for water toys and one for figurines. The key is to get him to put his toys in the bin AND to sort them so he can find what he wants quickly.
  • Toy box – Our neighbor gave us a cute wooden toy box that’s decorated with animal pictures. It reduces clutter since most of the toys fit inside it, but finding anything inside is a mess.
  • Rectangular bins with lids – He can toss his toys into a bin and stack them in his closet. The toys aren’t sorted by type, but at least they’re off the floor and out of the way! The bins are clear, too, so he can see what type of toy is inside.

I asked Candy at Finding Order in Chaos for suggestions on ways my family can stay organized. If her tips help, let her know!

And I’m always open to additional suggestions. What toy organizing solution works for you? Please share your ideas here!

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What’s in your purse? ūüôā¬† I found ticket stubs from a train ride we took two years ago, hair ties I haven’t seen in six months and used tissues in mine!

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The Perfect Classroom Environment

In the hustle and bustle of balancing back to school with my day job, this blog has suffered.¬† Sigh.¬† I certainly do not want more hours in my day, but I would like to be able to skip some of the less interesting portions of my daily routine–like sleep and waiting in line.

Anyway, we’re trying out a routine at home so that my first grader can finish his school requirements and have plenty of time to play, which is where he applies the school lessons he learns.¬† Our cyber school includes required lessons online this year. and my guy is learning how to sit still in the kitchen chair by the computer¬†and listen.

I build plenty of rewards into the schedule so he doesn’t grow weary of class.¬† In addition to¬†two mandatory classes, he also has other core subjects.¬† When possible, I combine lessons so we aren’t wasting tons of time reviewing concepts he already knows.¬† That is one reason I love homeschooling–we can work at our own pace!¬† I also allow him to manipulate a squeeze ball or magnets while he’s listening because those tools seem to help him concentrate.

Michael G posted today about Swedish schools, and I love the concept.¬† I’ve reblogged¬†his post and welcome comments about design elements you¬†would include in your perfect classroom.

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Is Waiting Necessary?

When I’m busy writing for my paying job, I sometimes¬†ask my children to wait.¬† In many cases, I finish typing the sentence or thought that was on my mind,¬†save the document then comply with their request.¬† Other times,¬†I am so absorbed¬†in an interesting¬† assignment or meeting the deadline that I forget what my child wanted.¬† In many cases, they either move on to something else or get whatever they needed themselves.¬† While I try not to make ignoring them¬†a habit, it happens.¬†¬†

My husband totally disagrees with my philosophy to ask the children to wait.¬† If they want something, he thinks they should get it right away.¬† Admittedly, they usually do want something to eat or drink.¬† Other times, one might want to get online while the other asks for help assembling a toy.¬† Their requests are not unreasonable, and I stay home so they¬†can do school and be taken care of…by me.¬† Yet, my work is also a priority.¬†

This week, he and I had a rather heated discussion about this topic.¬†¬† I’m not sure we will ever totally agree, but after our discussion, ¬†I found myself¬†worrying¬†that I am being too selfish by asking them to wait.¬† Maybe my husband is right and I should immediately stop whatever I’m doing so I can help them right away.¬†

My¬†more practical side jumped in with arguments of why waiting is good.¬† By asking them to respect my project, they learn to value others.¬† Waiting at home prepares them for the hours they must wait in life…waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting on the telephone for¬†customer service to answer the call, waiting to save money to¬†buy¬†something they want but do not need.¬†¬† With these arguments, I think asking them to wait is actually helpful and a valuable life skill.¬†¬†“Just let me finish typing this thought”¬†is a phrase my students at home will be hearing¬†more often this¬†week!


Momma Blew It

Consolidating errands makes me happy.¬† Whenever possible, I try to visit the bank, library and grocery store in one trip instead of driving into town every day.¬† Granted, we only live 10 minutes from “town”, but I hate the thought of wasting gas or time, and because everything is right there, it makes sense to do it all in one day.¬† This strategy also helps us get more schoolwork done and save money because we’re not driving around everyday.

Yesterday, I planned to take my son to his first Occupational Therapy¬†session, visit the Mall where I scheduled¬†my children’s annual photo, drop books off at the library, pick up milk…the list kept getting longer and longer.¬†¬†My children excitedly took their baths, picked out fancy clothes and even submitted to a nail and ear cleaning in anticipation of picture day.¬†¬†

I piled our library bag, water bottles, snacks and other necessities near the door, and I hung¬†¬†their clothes nearby.¬† Before we walked to the car, I asked my children to grab a few items and I brought the last bags to the car.¬† Thirty minutes later as we walked into the therapy appointment, I said, “Oh crap.¬† I forgot your clothes!”¬† My daughter said, “Mom, you said a swear word, but that’s okay because I do too sometimes when I’m mad.”¬† My son replied, “Mom, you blew it.”

The first time he said it, I laughed.¬† I’ve never heard him talk like that, and I don’t usually say that to anyone.¬† I’m more gracious and don’t usually verbally point out when someone makes a mistake.¬† My son is more aggressive verbally, and after the fifth time of telling me I blew it, I asked him to forgive me and forget it.¬† I assured him that this would not be the last time I mess up something that is important to him.

We rescheduled the picture for next week after his therapy, and¬†I assigned my son to be in charge on ensuring the clothes get into the car this time.¬† It’s hard being the one who has to remember everything.¬†¬†

–Pay bills on time (I write the amount due¬†on a calendar that I keep in a folder with¬†the bills,¬†stamps, pen and envelopes.¬† Every week, I check the calendar and pay the bills that are due that week…at least I pay the ones I remembered to write down.)¬† ¬†

–Rotate meals. ¬†(My family eats pretty much everything I make, but they like a variety of meat, potato and vegetables.)

–Make sure everyone brushes teeth, combs hair, finishes chores and changes their underwear every day.¬† (We post a chart, but I still have to enforce it.)

I’m not complaining about my job.¬†¬†I’m just saying it takes a lot of remembering.¬† I¬†better start doing the newspaper’s daily crossword puzzle or Sudoku to exercise my brain more or I’m going to hear a lot more of “Mom, you blew it.”¬†¬†¬†


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