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:


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

Early to Rise

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


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

Making Bread

 Posted by on September 12, 2013  3 Responses »
Sep 122013

Making Bread at www.habitsforahappyhome.com

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29

The other day I was in the kitchen pulling out all the supplies for making bread: bread machine, bread pans, flour, milk, eggs, butter, sugar, salt, yeast. The ever curious almost-three-year-old spied the happenings in the kitchen.

“Whatcha doing?” he asks.

“Making bread,” I reply.

He watches curiously for a while. I put milk and butter into a measuring cup and pop it into the microwave and he asks again, “Whatcha doing?”

“Making bread,” I repeat.

And because he is so smart, he says, “No, you’re not. You’re making milk and butter.”

Then I crack a couple eggs into a bowl and whisk them with a fork.

“Whatcha doing?” he asks another time.

“Making bread,” I reply again.

“No you’re not. You’re making eggs,” he says confidently.

This process continues until all the ingredients are in the pan and the goo is going round and round in the machine. He still doesn’t believe I am making bread. And two hours later when the hot, steaming loaves come out of the oven, he has no recollection of our earlier conversation. All the ingredients are long forgotten and he’s just enjoying his warm buttery slice of heaven.

Some days I am so much like him. Sometimes all I can see are the ingredients in my life. The long days and short nights. The mistakes. The successes. The whining child. The slobbery kisses. The boogers. The piles of schoolwork. The emerging teenagers. The groceries. The loads of laundry. The broken hearts. The getting-back-on track. The laughter. The frustration. The messes. The goo.

And I ask God again and again, “What are you doing? What are you up to?”

And I don’t believe him when he replies again and again, “I’m making you to be like ME.”

~written by Kendra

The Family Wish List

 Posted by on June 4, 2013  2 Responses »
Jun 042013


So it’s June. And if you’re like me, you let out a big sigh, ready to settle into the summer and just relax for a bit. There are a million thoughts in the back of your mind – things you might like to do with the kids, places you’d like to go – but for now, just for a moment, you want to breathe deep and enjoy the fact that there is nothing on the calendar.

And the next thing you know it is August. School starts and you say, “where did the summer go?”

If that sounds like you, check out A List Worth Trying over at Family Matters. The idea is to make a family To Do/Wish List for the summer. Have everyone contribute their ideas and dreams for what they might like to do this summer. We did this over the weekend and it was so much fun. We set the expectation up front that we will certainly not do everything that is mentioned, but we will definitely do some of it. I was surprised that 90% of the things our kids came up with were free or cheap and easy to do at home. Catch fireflies… Have a backyard camp out… Play in the sprinklers… The list makes it so easy for my husband and I to sit down and look at the calendar and be deliberate about how we use our time. And we are excited about the possibility of surprising them with some of the things that they don’t think will happen, like an impromptu trip to the beach.

Happy Summer!

~written by Kendra

What are You Living For?

 Posted by on May 9, 2013  2 Responses »
May 092013


Monday morning I sat down with my two oldest boys and asked them this question. I told them I didn’t need an answer right away, but I wanted them to take a little time and think about it. I said, “I know you both know what the right answer is, but what is the real answer?”

“What are you living for?”

One of them chimed in with, “I’m just trying to get all my schoolwork done so I can do what I want to do.” I think he wanted me to believe he was living for school. So I said, “And which of those things are you living for? School? Or doing what you want to do?” He answered honestly.

So I reminded them of this week’s Bible verse, Matthew 22:37-39, which says:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel guilty or sad. I was just trying to make them think. Our conversation made me think, too.

What am I living for?

Truthfully, many days I am living for that brief moment in the afternoon when the house is quiet and I can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee without interruption. When my six-year-old is on my lap reading aloud to me, I’m thinking, “Hurry up. Stop looking at the pictures. We’re almost done for the day.” Or when my oldest is struggling through his math and it is 3:00 and we’ve been at this for hours, and all I want to do is be DONE, what am I living for? Most of the time I’m living for me.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with enjoying a moment of peace and quiet. And I’m certainly not saying there is anything wrong with coffee. But in my own life, I can see how sometimes the desire for “me time” casts a shadow over everything else, causing me to rush through things and miss the opportunities God has put in front of me to love the people around me.

So I’ve been repeating this question throughout the week, to myself and my children. What are we living for right now? God, what would You have us do with this day?

~written by Kendra