Category Archive:Operation Clean House

For several years now, I’ve been starting off the year with projects instead of resolutions. I don’t always complete my projects, but I enjoy starting them and working toward a goal. And I don’t feel guilty if I don’t finish. If I do finish, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Win-win. So, here are my twelve projects for 2013:

1. 100 Days in the Book of Isaiah. I’m really looking forward to this study along with my church family.

2. Reading Through West Africa. The countries of West Africa (according to my scheme) are Benin, Biafra (part of Nigeria), Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. That’s fourteen nations, if I include Biafra, and I would very much like to read at least one book from or about each country. If you have suggestions, please comment.

3. I’m working on a project with my church for a community/tutoring/library media center. This TED talk by author Dave Eggers was inspirational, although it’s not exactly what I have in mind. I am working more on a library and study center for homeschoolers and of course, it would be open to kids who are in public or private schools, too. A lot of my work will be in relation to the library, gathering excellent books and adding to the library and helping homeschool and other families to use the library to enrich their studies. I am also inspired by this library and others like it.

4. I want to concentrate on reading all the books on my TBR list this year –at least all of them that I can beg, borrow (from the library) or somehow purchase. I’ve already requested several of the books on my list from the library.

5. My Classics Club list is a sort of addendum to my TBR list, and I’d also like to read many of the books on that list. In 2012 I read Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West, and Memento Mori by Muriel Spark, three out of fifty-three, not a good average if I’m to be done with all of them by 2017.

6. I have house-keeping project that I’m almost embarrassed to mention here. I’ve started small–cleaning and sorting piles in a corner of my bedroom. I’d really like to continue cleaning, purging, and organizing around the perimeter of my bedroom and then the living room until eventually I get around the entire house. A project so ridiculously mundane and yet so needed.

7. I continue to work through this list of new-to-me recipes and through several cookbooks and other recipe sources for dishes I want to try this year. I would like to make one new dish per week, and maybe I can manage to “review” the meals and food I make here at Semicolon. If you have any extra-special recipes you think I should try, please leave a comment.

8. Praying for Strangers (and Friends) Project. I was quite impressed by my reading of River Jordan’s prayer project book, Praying for Strangers. I still can’t walk up to strangers and tell them that I’m praying for them or ask them for prayer requests. But in 2013 I hope to ask God to give me one person each day to focus on and to pray for. Maybe I’ll be praying for you one day this year. I have been much more consistent in praying for specific people this past year, and I hope to continue the practice.

9. U.S. Presidents Reading Project. I got David McCullough’s biography of Truman for Christmas in 2011, and I plan to read that chunkster during my Lenten blog break since I didn’t read it last year. I don’t know if I’ll read any other presidential biographies this year, but if I finish Truman I’ll be doing well.

10. The 40-Trash Bag Challenge. Starting tomorrow. My life needs this project.

11. 100 Movies of Summer. When we’re not traveling, which will be most of the summer, we might watch a few old classic but new-to-us movies. I’ll need to make a new list, since we’ve watched many of the ones on the list I linked to, but I hope to find a few gems this summer.

12. I got this Bible for Christmas (mine is red), and I’ve already begun transferring my notes from my old Bible into this new one and taking new notes. I just jot down whatever the Holy Spirit brings to mind with the intention of giving the Bible to one of my children someday.

My Bible Reading Project is going pretty well. I’ve read through Genesis, on track to finish Mark this weekend, and several of the Psalms. I also read Galatians, mostly aloud to the urchins, but I can’t say I was very successful in explaining the distinction between keeping the Law for the law’s sake and keeping it out of gratitude for what Christ has done. The urchins stared at me blankly for the most part as I engaged in this lesson in theology for their benefit. Ah, well, push on.

I want to take my old Bible and do this project with it: Blank Bible Project. I can see how this would be really useful—and a way of passing down a legacy to at least one of my children. More detailed instructions on making a blank Bible.

I read Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle for the Faith N Fiction Roundtable, and I found Ms. L’Engle’s work as satisfying and thoughtful as ever. Come here, or to one of the other participants’ blogs, in February for more discussion of the book and its implications.

Poetry Project: The poems are posting on Fridays for Poetry Friday, and I’m enjoying them, even though we are in the Romantic period right now. I think I’m becoming an anti-Romantic poetry reader.

Newbery Project: I read and reviewed the Newbery Award winner, Moon Over Manifest, this month. I liked it a lot.

Operation Clean House is going nowhere. I haven’t even attempted to put together an Exercise and Diet Project. If anyone know of a way to exercise without actual physical labor being involved, please let me know.

In February, I really want to do more posts for Texas Tuesday and Read Aloud Thursday (to link to Amy’s blog, Hope Is the Word). I also would like to continue my Africa Reading Project, which has gotten off to a good start this year with several posts in January.

The Sunday Salon.comFor the last couple of years, instead of resolutions, I’ve been thinking in terms of projects, lots of projects that I wanted to complete during the year. I wouldn’t say I was any more or less successful with my projects than most people are with resolutions, but I like the tradition anyway and plan to to continue it this year. So here are my twelve projects for 2010, with evaluations of how I did on some of the same projects in 2009.

1. Bible Reading Project. Last year’s Bible reading project was a qualified success. I didn’t read every day, and I didn’t study the books and passages I chose as intensely as I wanted, but I did read and study some. This year’s Bible reading plan is the same as last year’s: choose a book or part of a book of the BIble for each month of the year, read it daily, and study it using some good study tools. Take notes in my Bible and maybe this year in a journal, too. The selections for this year:

January: Esther. The women of my church are going on retreat in early March, and we’ll be studying the book of Esther. So I thought I’d get a head start.
February: Revelation 1-11. My pastor is preaching through Revelation this spring, so I thought I should be reading it. Revelation is my least favorite book in the Bible, so I’ll need some major self-discipline and encouragement from the Holy Spirit to finish this project.
March: Exodus 1-12 in preparation for Resurrection Sunday (April 4, 2010) and remembering Jesus, our Passover lamb.
April: Revelation 12-22.
May: Exodus 13-20.
June: I Timothy
July: Exodus 21-30.
August: II Timothy
September: Exodus 31-40.
October: Titus
November: Psalms 11-15.
December: Psalms 16-20.

2. Pulitzer Project. This year for the Pulitzer Project I read Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor and found it very absorbing and thought-provoking, one of the best books I read this past year. This next year I plan to read March by Geraldine Brooks and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

3. My Newbery Project for last year was also something of a bust. I think I got stuck because the winners for 1925 and 1926 were both story collections, and I don’t like story collections. I may skip the storybooks and get back on track this year.

4. Homeschooling Project: I need to focus on homeschooling the three remaining students in our homeschool.
Karate Kid (age 12)
Betsy-Bee (age 10)
Z-Baby (age 8)
You’ll see posts about how that project is going, plans for school and reading and science and history and field trips and all manner of educational schemes and visions. Perhaps you’ll also see a few desperate pleas for HELP! Just because I’ve graduated four students doesn’t mean I know how to homeschool the rest of the bunch.

5. Operation Clean House. I thought last year that if I took a room or area of the house and concentrated on that section each month, I might get somewhere with the de-cluttering and cleaning. Maybe. I didn’t. So this project is a repeat.
January: My closet and dressing area.
February: The rest of my bedroom.
March: Front hallway and entryway.
April: Living Room.
May: Kitchen.
June: Laundry room.
July: Half of the gameroom.
August: The other half of the gameroom.
September: Front bathroom.
October: Z-baby’s bedrooom.
November: Karate Kid’s bedroom.
December: Sit back and enjoy my reorganized home?
I might even, if I’m brave enough, post before and after pictures to keep myself motivated.

6. LOST Reading Project. I really want to get back to this project this year. I read Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin, enjoyed it, and tried a couple of others on the list that I didn’t care for at all (A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien).
This year I think I’d like to read Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabakov and perhaps, Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor. I’m not sure I’m sophisticated enough to “get” Flannery O’Connor, but I’ll give it a try.

7. The U.S. Presidents Reading Project has a list of all of the U.S. presidents and suggested reading selections (non-fiction) for each one. The challenge is to read one biography of each one. Last year I read biographies of George Washington, John Adams, James and Dollie Madison, and Alexander Hamilton (I know, not a president, but closely related). This year I plane to continue with biographies of James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson, not necessarily in that order. I skipped Jefferson because I don’t like him very much.
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8. Tournament of Reading Project. Probably the only reading challenge I sign up for this year, The Tournament of Reading is a challenge to read nine medieval books in three categories: history, medieval literature, and historical fiction. Most of these books that I plan to read come from my TBR list anyway:
History:
Byzantium by John Julius Norwich.
Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and The End of the Roman Empire by WIlliam Rosen.

Historical Fiction:
The King’s Daughter by Sandra Worth.
The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner.
The Master of Verona by David Blixt.

As for actual medieval literature, I’ll have to ask Eldest Daughter to suggest something.

9. Poetry Project: I would like to continue having my urchins memorizing and reading poetry. I would like to read and memorize poetry. I would like to have more Poetry Parties. Poetry Friday is the place and time to get an update on the Poetry Project. Plus, I’ll be celebrating Poetry Month again in April.

10. Prayer Project. I need to spend some daily concentrated time in prayer and meditation. My plan is to pray and read my Bible before I get on the computer each day so that I can bathe all these projects and all my children and my husband in prayer.

11. Book Club Project. I’m re-starting my book club this year. If any of you are interested in participating (virtually), email me at sherryDOTearlyATgmailDOTcom, and I’ll send you the details. I’ll also be posting the book club selections for each month of 2010 here at Semicolon soon. I’m also leading a middle school girls book club at our homeschool co-op, and I’ll be posting the book list for that club before long.

12. Advanced Reading Survey Project. I decided last year that on Mondays I was going to revisit the books I read for a course in college called Advanced Reading Survey, taught by the eminent scholar and lovable professor, Dr. Huff. I’m not going to re-read all the books and poems I read for that course, probably more than fifty, but I am going to post to Semicolon the entries in the reading journal that I was required to keep for that class because I think that my entries on these works of literature may be of interest to readers here and because I’m afraid that the thirty year old spiral notebook in which I wrote these entries may fall apart ere long. I may offer my more mature perspective on the books, too, if I remember enough about them to do so.
Texas Tuesday Project. I also plan to keep posting about books set in or published in or related to Texas on Tuesdays. Or at least on most Tuesdays.

Bonus Project: I’ll keep blogging, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, and I’ll keep you all updated on all my projects for 201-.

The Sunday Salon.comIt is my plan for the second Sunday of the month that Operation Clean House kicks into gear. I will post before and after pictures of one area of the house that I’ve managed to clean, and as a reward to myself and to you for looking, I’ll also post a picture of a favorite shelf of books in my house and highlight some of the Good Books on that shelf. SInce I have approximately 250 shelves of books in my house and more areas that need to be cleaned than that, this project should last my lifetime if I choose to continue it that long.

How about “the area to be cleaned” is the same area where the bookshelf is, the corner where I spend a lot of time: my computer corner. As you can see, it hasn’t been cleaned yet, but I’ll spend some time on it today and Monday.

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This shelf of books is in my bedroom just to the right of my computer desk. Several of the books pictured are worth a mention.

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William Zinser’s On Writing Well is a fine guide to the art of writing nonfiction articles in particular. I should get it out and go over the material in it with Karate Kid who needs to be writing more. I could use some tips on making my writing a bit more sparkle-y and interesting, too.

The Homeschool Journey by Susan and Michael Card makes homeschooling sound so so artistic and beautiful and homely.

There are a couple of very old books on this shelf:

The Mother’s Book is from 1921, edited by Caroline Benedict Burrell and WIlliam Byron Forbush. It’s a collection of essays and advice for mothers from the Jane Addams settlement house era. In fact, one of the articles in the book, “Companionship vs. Loyalty in the Gang”, is by Jane Addams. The advice in the book is sometimes good, but more often it seems rather quaint and even silly to twenty-first century readers. I really ought to excerpt some of the more amusing and telling passages for a beginning history of child-rearing advice in the U.S.
I also have an 1812 fifth edition copy of Noah Webster’s Elements of Useful Knowledge, Volume 1, Historical and Geographical Account of the United States for the Use of Schools. I’m wondering exactly how this little book was used in schools. It contains 529 sections, about a paragraph or half a page each on such topics as RIvers of New York, Settlement of Georgia, Introduction of Printing, Trade of Connecticut, etc. Did students read an assigned passage aloud or recite it back to the teacher or write about a section or what?

The large yellow book called A to Zoo is a discarded older edition of a reference book that lists picture books by subject. It’s useful for finding picture books on a certain subject to read to preschoolers, but it’s somewhat outdated. If you’re interested in having one of your own, you might be able to pick one up at a library discard sale. Or you can get a brand new 2005 edition for $67.00 at Amazon.

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The Guardian has a list of Ten of the Best Butlers in Literature, and it doesn’t include Jeeves. Is that because he’s a valet, not a butler? According to Wikipedia:

Jeeves is a valet, not a butler. However, Bertie Wooster has lent out Jeeves as a butler on several occasions, and notes that “if the call comes, he can buttle with the best of them”.

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I saw this idea at Beyond Homemaking’s Seven Quick Takes, and it looks like such a great mind-sharpener and spiritual boost. Only two problems: I already have 12 (huge) projects for the year, and If I do this memorization project, I want to memorize something else, not James. Maybe Philippians, as Sara mentions in her post.

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Speaking of projects, Friday Quick Takes would be a good time to check in on my projects and update you and myself on how I’m doing.
Bible Reading Project: I have been reading II Samuel 1-8 all month, but not every day. I’ve decided that I don’t like David very much right now. His sons turned out rotten, and I don’t need that kind of discouraging example in my life right now.
February: I Thessalonians. Maybe I should take it as my memorization project.

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For my Newbery Project, I was trying to read the Newbery winners and honor books in order from 1923 when the award was first given until now. I haven’t picked up on that yet, but I am reading Holes by Louis Sachar, the winner of the 1999 Newbery Medal. So far, I can say it’s fantastically weird, but I think I kind of like it.

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For Operation Clean House I was supposed to clean out the dressing area and closet in January. I got the dressing area, but the closet is untouched. Maybe this afternoon and tomorrow.

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For my LOST Reading Project, I signed up for the LOST Books Challenge and chose some books to read. Now I just need to get reading.

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For my US Presidents Reading Project, I read Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner (Semicolon review here). In February, I’m going to start on John Adams by David McCullough, which happens to be the Semicolon Book Club selection for March.
US Presidents Reading Project home page.

Thanks for dropping by. See you next week for more project updates and random book and homeschool thoughts. Right now, I’ve got to get on that closet.

Last year instead of resolutions, I thought in terms of projects, lots of projects that I wanted to complete in 2008. I wouldn’t say I was any more or less successful with my projects than most people are with resolutions, but I like the tradition anyway and plan to to continue it this year. So here are my twelve projects for 2009, with evaluations of how I did on some of the same projects in 2008.

1. BIble Reading Project. Last year’s BIble reading project was a qualified success. I didn’t read every day, and I didn’t study the books and passages I chose as intensely as I wanted, but I did read and study some. This year’s BIble reading plan is the same as last year’s: choose a book or part of a book of the BIble for each month of the year, read it daily, and study it using some good study tools. Take notes in my Bible and maybe this year in a journal, too. The selections for this year:

January: II Samuel 1-8 Last year I read and studied I Samuel, so II Samuel seems to be next.
February: I Thessalonians
March: II Samuel 9-16
April: II Thessalonians
May: II Samuel 17-24
June: I Timothy
July: Joel
August: II TImothy
September: Amos
October: Titus
November: Psalms 1-5
December: Psalms 6-10

2. Pulitzer Project. This one will have to be a repeat from last year since I read only one of the books on my list, The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty. I didn’t review it because I didn’t really care for it much.

3. My Newbery Project for last year was also something of a bust. I think I got stuck because the winners for 1925 and 1926 were both story collections, and I don’t like story collections. I may skip the storybooks and get back on track this year.

4. My Madeleine L’Engle Project also failed to get off the ground last year. I think I just have so many good books to read, and not enough time. Anyway, this is another one I want to try again this year.

5. Operation Clean House. I figure if I take a room or area of the house and concentrate on that section each month, I might get somewhere with the de-cluttering and cleaning. Maybe.
January: My closet and dressing area.
February: The rest of my bedroom.
March: Front hallway and entryway.
April: Living Room.
May: Kitchen.
June: Laundry room.
July: Half of the gameroom.
August: The other half of the gameroom.
September: Front bathroom.
October: Z-baby’s bedrooom.
November: Karate Kid’s bedroom.
December: Sit back and enjoy my reorganized home?
I might even, if I’m brave enough, post before and after pictures to keep myself motivated.

6. LOST Reading Project. I really want to get back to this project this year.

7. The U.S. Presidents Reading Project has a list of all of the U.S. presidents and suggested reading selections (non-fiction) for each one. The challenge is to read one biography of each one. I would really like to start this project this year.

8. American History Project. In conjunction with the U.S. Presidents Reading Project, I’ll be teaching American history at home and at co-op next school year. So I’m working on planning a high school level literature/history class for co-op and condensing the Sonlight third and fourth grade curriculum suggestions for American history into one year for my little girls.

9. Poetry Project: I would like to get my urchins memorizing and reading poetry. I would like to read and memorize poetry. I would like to have more Poetry Parties.

10. Prayer Project. I need to spend some daily concentrated time in prayer and meditation. My plan is to pray and read my Bible before I get on the computer each day so that I can bathe all these projects and all my children and my husband in prayer.

11. Book Club Project. I’m really, really, truly starting my book club this year. We’re having our first meeting to discuss the books for the year this afternoon. If any of you are interested in participating (virtually), email me at sherryDOTearlyATgmailDOTcom, and I’ll send you the details. I’ll also be posting the book club selections for each month of 2009 here at Semicolon soon.

12. VIdeo Project. Engineer Husband and I are s-l-o-w-l-y watching the series Band of Brothers at night after the urchins are asleep. After we finish those videos, we’re planning to watch the HBO adaptation of David McCullough’s biography of John Adams, recommended here.

Bonus Project: I’ll keep blogging, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, and I’ll keep you all updated on all my projects for 2009.