Ever since we purchased this outdoor fireplace last month we have spent many enjoyable hours around it. It is also a practical way of getting rid of all of the twigs and sticks in our yard with a minimum amount of effort.
My husband, the Firemaster:
The kids love roasting marshmallows around our "campfire" but the funny thing is, they don't like to eat the roasted ones. They prefer them completely uncooked:
while Mommy prefers them almost burnt. Here's a perfect one:
We had a HUGE brush pile in our backyard. I don't know if you can tell from the photo but it was about the size of our family van. It contained about 25 years worth of accumulated tree branches and leaves as well as some old building materials such as broken bricks and fencing. We had to have it removed because, not only was it an eyesore, but a family of skunks were living in it much to the detriment of our dog who got skunked three times last summer. That was three times too many, believe me.
After getting several quotes we found a company to do it for a reasonable cost. It took them nine hours of hard work. We thought it would make the yard safer for the kids but it actually uncovered tons of sand that we didn't know was under the brush. Animals have burrowed under the sand so much that if you step on it you will sink down! Hence the reason for the sticks that remain. So while the yard looks cleaner it still isn't where we would like it to be.
Decluttering is giving me an opportunity to meditate on Charlotte Mason's ideas about early education and habit-building. Regarding infant habits she quotes the poet Robert Burns,
If there's a hole in a' your coats,
I pray ye, tent it;
A chiel's amang ye takin' notes,
And, faith, he'll prent it.
I hate the thought of my young children "imprinting" the clutter in our home as a type for their future habits. Miss Mason believes that the child "not only sees and knows everything, but will keep for all his life, the mark of all he sees." OK, now I am motivated.
FlyLady, mentioned in an earlier post, talks about Hot Spots--places where clutter accumulates and, if not regularly attacked, will take over an entire room. The far end of my kitchen counter is one such Hot Spot. It is right by the side door (the one we always use) so it is a dumping ground for hats and mittens, incoming and outgoing mail, the diaper bag, a present for my niece, a bag of stuffed animals to be donated. Because of its location it is never used for food prep so the stuff just keeps piling up. Sadly, because of its location, it is also the first thing friends and family see when they enter our home.
I attacked this hot spot this afternoon using the decluttering guidelines mentioned in my "Beautiful and Useful" post. After putting everything away in its proper place and srubbing the countertop this was the result:
My kitchen counter can breathe again! When my husband walked in the door from work he asked if he was in the right house. I fully realize that doing this project was easy but keeping it this way will be hard. I have a confession to make and that is that clutter does not bother me although I do enjoy the beautiful results of a good decluttering. I was brought up in an immaculately clean home so I am not quite sure why piles of clutter don't offend my senses the way they probably should. I refer to it benignly as my "mad professor syndrome." A cluttered desk is a sign of genius, right?
But Miss Mason's writings have really hit home. Here we are, home-educating, supposedly trying to give our children the best life possible. What do clean counter-tops have to do with home education? Everything, according to CM. She goes so far as to say that "education IS an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." With this in mind, I will look critically at other areas of my home this month.