Jan 212014
 

I have a dream. In my dream there is a big playroom, with all kinds of toys, neatly organized in color coordinated and labeled bins. The boys share all the toys happily and everyone cleans up the day’s play messes together. Something like this lovely creation from homeedit.com:

playroom-kids1

In that same dream, boys’ bedrooms are toy-free and serene. Restful, clean, organized. With desks for thinking and schooling and drawing, a cozy spot for reading, and a comfy bed for sleeping.

I know it is unrealistic. I know the picture in my head comes from too many late nights on Pinterest and Houzz. But I’m hopeful that somewhere between the Pinterest dream and my current toy-ridden reality, there is a practical, real-life way to get our playing and resting a little more organized.

The drill-sergeant side of me wanted to just announce to the children that from this day forward, all toys will be shared and no toys will be allowed in bedrooms. But the side of me with a heart (albeit the smaller, weaker side) held back.  I have talked to them about it a few times. The three-year-old is oblivious. He plays with whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and his ideas about what life should be like are thankfully still somewhat malleable. The seven-year-old thinks it is a fabulous idea. “You mean, I get to play with ALL of THEIR toys?!? YES!!” The oldest two, eleven and nearly thirteen, are understandably terrified of the idea. They’ve been accumulating toys the longest, so they have the most to lose. They both love the idea of a clutter-free bedrooms and a big play space, but they hate the idea of sharing their stuff. I told them that we could put up some high shelves for displaying their creations that would be out of reach for little ones, and that maybe we could display some of their favorite things that don’t really get played with on shelves in their rooms. And after talking it all through, they are willing to try it!

So, friends, I need your help. I want to hear from you. Have you done anything like this? What are your experiences with playrooms and shared toys and multiple ages? What are your best toy organization tips? Favorite play space ideas? Things to avoid? Anybody try to go toy-free in the bedrooms? How did that work for you?

-written by Kendra

Jan 022014
 
ID-100179707

Photo: Free Digital Photos

A while back I blogged about the empty nest and how it shouldn’t be something that we avoid or dread. That as couples, we should almost rejoice when we have an empty nest because it affords us an opportunity to spend time with our spouses alone and to get to know them again on a new and deeper level. It also affords us an opportunity to have a hobby or a second job or to travel. To fulfill a dream that we never had time to fulfill.

For many, especially those with large families, the empty nest will happen little by little and by the time you see your last child leave the nest, you’ve already got grandchildren begging to stay in it. For those of us with smaller families, when the nest begins to empty, you feel it immediately. But no matter what the timing, we usually think the empty nest will begin when our children are grown and go off to college or marry. It’s painful but positive.

There’s a different scenario of the empty nest that often occurs. It’s when you’re not prepared for it. It doesn’t happen with the natural progression of life. This is when a child leaves suddenly in the middle of the night after an argument and never returns. When a child is abducted. When a child chooses to live with your ex. Or when a child dies either unexpectedly or from an illness.

Photo: Free Digital Photos

Photo: Free Digital Photos

One of my high school friends recently lost her only son. He had started college in the fall and a month later was coming home for the weekend, had a blowout, hit a tree and was killed. My friend’s empty nest began with shock, grief, and shattered dreams of the future. She has a daughter at home who I’m sure she’s clinging to and doesn’t want to let out of her sight ever, but her son can never be replaced. She would have never imagined that her child would die just months after signing a scholarship with his dream college. Her dreams of having her son carry on the family name were completely snuffed out in one accident. This hit home with me since I have only one son.

Many of us will experience the empty nest in unexpected, uncomfortable, unwanted or unfamiliar ways. As a surprise or a shock or an earth-shattering disappointment. For me, my nest began to empty sooner than and not at all in the way I thought it would. Thankfully, it was not because of a tragedy.

I homeschooled my children for fourteen years. I raised them with the help of a homeschool group made up of like-minded families. My kids had a nice little cluster of friends to hang out with when they were younger. It was easy to dream of what the future would look like. Cookie-cutter and perfectly planned out.

Having taught our children about purity and about not dating until they were smart enough to pick a godly person to go out with, I thought that there’d be a nice sweet courtship of my daughter from a nice proper appropriate homeschool boy. Of course, this boy would be the son of one of my friends. But that never happened. When my daughter first started dating, she did date a homeschool boy, but it wasn’t someone that our family knew. It didn’t take long for us to learn that he had some major issues. As a result, he broke her heart. And that is the last homeschool boy my daughter has ever been attracted to.

She enlarged her territory, made new friends, and learned that there was much more to life than our small town. My free-spirited child very quickly became dissatisfied being in our nest. This child, if she were an animal, would be a butterfly or a blue bird. She desired to know more and more people and it became evident quite quickly that God did not create her to only have a small handful of safe friends.

Kayla in Paris this fall

Kayla in Paris this fall

Your plans for your children and your careful guidance to make them “not like others in this world” doesn’t change who they are or the desires God put in them. Yes, you’re able to shelter and protect your children for a while, to help direct their desires toward godly desires instead of worldly desires and help them make wise decisions. But if you have a child that’s a free spirit, that child is going to be a free spirit even if you keep that child at home for school.

So my empty nest began almost two years ago with my daughter deciding to move to Atlanta. That didn’t settle well with this mama at first. It wasn’t that I wanted to keep her from exploring the world. Really and truly I just wanted to keep her safe. Period. I wanted to help her keep her purity and that would be difficult if she set out to explore the whole world as a single woman.

The beginning of the empty nest didn’t happen the way I had planned it. But God is bigger than ME and His ever-watchful eye has remained upon her. The dreams I once had for my daughter at eighteen wouldn’t have satisfied her long term. She’s not the same person she was then and God has shown her that what she once desired was not His desire for her. She would’ve been a restless soul had she married that young. In her heart there’s always been a desire to explore and to see what else is out there. She’s learned a lot about herself and the type of man she wants for a husband. I believe God held back that part of her life until she had time to become the woman He wanted her to be.

One benefit that has come out of her exploration of the world beyond our little bubble is that the more people she’s encountered, the more she’s seen she’s very unique. The more she sees that her roots run deep. Most people that she’s met were not raised with the same ideas of purity and they are blessed by her commitment to it. Although at times, this has become a burden for her, it’s also been a great testimony to God’s faithfulness and His protection.

The emptying of the nest is unpredictable. You may have one child gone and one child still at home who may not be at home for very many hours of the day. You may lose a child suddenly like my friend did. One thing is for certain: Without a doubt, the empty nest will come. One way or the other.

This is why it’s important to raise our children according to God’s Word and to teach them how to follow Him. To teach our children to desire to serve Him. To desire to honor God with their bodies, their minds, their hearts and with everything they do in their daily lives.

We can’t dictate the futures of our children.

The wonderful thing about all of this is: when you seek God and realize that some of the things you’ve wanted for your children might not be what God wants for them and you’re able to let go of your ideas of the future, that’s when God steps up and says:

“Let me WOW you. Let me surprise you. Let me give you treasures that you could have never imagined you’d have. That you’d never have asked for because you couldn’t fathom them.”

That’s when God does wonderful things with your children and for your children. That’s when He blesses your marriage even more. So the empty nest may come sooner for some of us than it does for others and it may not come as we expect it to. The key to all of this is: trusting God in every facet of your parenting from the very first day that your first born appeared in your belly to the day that your last child leaves the nest. Remember, don’t let your feathers get ruffled over things that won’t matter in eternity.

Couple: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/the-couples-summer-vacation-photo-p179707

Nest: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Birds_g52-Hand_And_Nest_p53539.html

Dec 302013
 

Based on your reading, these are your favorites for 2013. Some of these are all-time classics from the archives!

Favorite Habits of 2013 & Building Habits in the New Year www.habitsforahappyhome.com

Plus, we are including those, below, we feel are important to develop in the new year.

Your Favorite Habits of 2013

1. Three Gifts for Christmas  (pin it)

2. The Ultimate Guide to Housekeeping Habits  (pin it)

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3. How to Be Your Husband’s Wife and Not His Mommy (pin it)

4. Planning to Be Spontaneous – The Household Notebook (pin it)

5. Flylady- Tools Not Rules (pin it)

6. Love in a Lunch Box (pin it)

7. How to Plan Individual Time with Multiple Ages (pin it)

8. 10 Habits for the Family Table (pin it)

9. How to Get Started Homeschooling – 10 Steps to Success (pin it)

Top 10 Clutter Busting Secrets

10. 10 Clutter Busting Secrets (pin it)

And this guest post from our friend Paige was very close to making the top 10! How to Make a Month of Breakfasts for the Freezer.

What is YOUR favorite?

SGIBuilding and Developing Habits in the New Year

Have you started to think and pray about developing some habits for your home in 2014? Here are a few we’ve selected that we feel are always important to focus on.

First we build our habits; then our habits build us. ~author unknown

The Habit of Kindness – Let me say when you stop and apply just these two little words to your home and life it will really make a difference.

Early to Rise – A simple habit and a way to start the day with little ones – with the Bible! Before all the Moving. Talking. Running. Crying. Playing. Questioning. All. Day. Long.

Water and the Word – Let me encourage you to get your Bible and take a BIG GULP before this day ends. It will quench your thirsty soul!

Time… (How to Make a Schedule) – This is to be a flexible guide that will help us use our time in a way that will bring the most glory to God.

Habit Formation – I think Habit formation should be a very important part of child training. I truly believe that God created us to be creatures of habit because having a good habit just makes things so much easier for us. Once something is a habit, you don’t even have to think about it, you just do “it”.

Let Your Light Shine – Oh, Friends! Let us remember why we are here. We are called to be a light in the darkness. We are called to point people to the Light, not the darkness. Yes, things are bad and getting worse in our nation and around the world. But God is GOOD! Let people see and hear about the wonders of God rather than the mistakes of men.

Help for Building Habits at Habits for a Happy Home

10 Helps for Building Habits – a great round up of how tos for baby-stepping towards those habits!

Perspective Can Change Everything – Let us be in the habit of keeping a God sized perspective.

Our Pinterest board full of encouragement for Developing Habits!

Thank you for reading in 2013 and we pray your 2014 will be blessed! Please keep in touch…

Subscribe (enter your email address in the upper, right hand corner) and join us on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter

Simple Christmas

 Posted by on December 3, 2013  3 Responses »
Dec 032013
 

Simplicity.  Simple things, simple joys, simple beauty.  It’s what I crave right now.  I guess it’s understandable, since we sold/donated/gave away almost everything we owned when we moved back in September.  I am finding that I have a desire to keep life that way. . .simple.

When you look closely enough, what beauty there is in the simple things of life!  The steam curling upward from a cup of hot tea, the fire dancing in the fireplace, the look of wonder in my sons’ eyes when they see the lit up Christmas tree for the first time. . .these things are simple.  They do not cost a lot of money.  They do not take extravagant amounts of time to accomplish (unless you’re a perfectionist when it comes to decorating your tree).  {smile}  What joy we can find in simple things!

We are keeping Christmas simple this year.  Why stress about gifts, and having everything just right, when the whole purpose of the season is to worship the One Who came as a baby, so that He could rescue us and show us His light?

Why not skip the craziness at the mall and opt instead for a giving hand-made gifts, or a few gifts that are meaningful?  How about using some of your gift giving budget to give to others that have way less than what we usually find just under our Christmas tree on Christmas morning?  Our family participated in Operation Christmas Child, again this year.  What a wonderful experience it was to show our kids how much fun it can be to give something to others. . .rather than just focusing on what we are getting!

Will you join me?  Let’s keep the Christmas craziness away, enjoy the simple things, and keep our families focused on our precious Savior. . .the Reason for the season.

Early to Rise

 Posted by on November 19, 2013  No Responses »
Nov 192013
 

sunrise

Why is it that the littlest children are always the first to wake up in the morning? They are so busy all day. Moving. Talking. Running. Crying. Playing. Questioning. All. Day. Long. I think if I were as busy as those little ones for a full day, I would need to sleep for 24 hours straight to make up for it. Maybe it is the 2 hour afternoon nap or the fact that they go to bed at 8 PM. But whatever the reason, those sweet little boys are up before the sun every day (and since the time change, they are up WAY before the sun). And if I haven’t had a full cup of coffee by the time I hear their feet hit the floor, they don’t seem so sweet. In fact, sadly, often it is a sound I dread. Thump, thump. Then the potty. Then running down the hall. Honestly, many days it feels like a freight train barreling down the hall to destroy the peace of the morning.

One recent morning I was praying specifically for one of those little ones and I asked God to show me a time and a way to spend more time with him. That same week, I had also been searching (unsuccessfully) for kids Bible videos or a devotional, something that would be a fun way for him to learn more about God. But when I was praying, God showed me that a video wasn’t what I needed. The answer to both questions was that early morning time. That time that I usually dread, when I wish they would just sleep a little longer. That morning, when his feet (and the feet of his little brother) hit the floor, I just quietly asked him to get his blankie and his Bible and meet me on the couch. The three of us snuggled on the couch and read from his Bible until the older boys were up and ready for breakfast.

The next morning, my little guy headed straight for his bookshelf and brought me his Bible. It has become such a nice way for us to start the day. So much better than before. I actually look forward to them waking up in the morning. And the occasional morning that they sleep in and we don’t get to have our Bible time, I miss it. And if I decide to sleep in and I’m not up when the freight train comes barreling down the hall, we have our Bible time in my bed.

~written by Kendra