Growth | Beginning Quiet Mornings

When I share about my Morning Time on social media, the most common question/comment is, "I cannot seem to get myself to get up.  I am such a night owl."  I get it... believe me, I've been there!

I am very open about the reality of life seasons.  I never endorse neglecting time in the Word, but I am aware that there are seasons for rising early (after the babies learn to sleep consistently) and seasons for milking every last minute out of our mornings for sleep (hello, newborn days!).  So, be kind to yourself and if the mornings don't work for you, find time throughout your day to have quiet time.  

My baby had been sleeping through the night consistently for about a year and I started to notice my laziness when it came to mornings.  My kids would always be the ones waking me and I would be frustrated that they came into my room with their, "I'm hungry," demands.  Why were they bothering me??  Don't I serve them all day long?  

Then, I realized that I had been out of the newborn season for awhile and it was time for me to start some better habits.  It was time for me to rise early and be prepared in my heart and mind for the ministry before me.  

I didn't start by instantly rising at 5 am.  I began by transitioning in 15 minute increments.  I planned to turn in for the night 15 minutes earlier and then get up 15 minutes earlier. I would bump it up 15 every week until I was getting up at 5:30 or earlier.  

Our flesh is strong.  That bed feels warm and awfully cozy when we are snuggled in and it is still dark outside.  That is why I brew coffee and make myself a cozy spot in the corner of our sofa to enjoy during my morning time.  It helps leaving the warm bed not feel so grueling. :)  During the chilly months, I light my beeswax candle and set it on the table beside the sofa.  I turn on the fire and make it an inviting place to wake to.  

Obviously, that plan works gloriously when you have nothing going on and evenings flow the same day after day.  There are times when we have a busy season and I have to repeat the process all over again because I have worn myself out and need the sleep in the morning, BUT I have come to realize that I always need to rise at least 30 minutes before my kids to read and pray.  That 30 minutes of sleep is simply never more important (for me in my circumstance) than that time with God.  

As with any good and worthy habit, it takes discipline for those of us who aren't naturally early risers.  What I love is that now I am a morning person and I feel like everything flows better.  I get breakfast prepared.  I get school underway in an orderly/timely fashion.  I seem to be more productive all around.  I dunno... I like that I no longer live for sleep.  That feeling had become all too familiar.  :) 

Growth | Quiet Mornings

Self-care... it's a buzz word that is thrown around constantly in the social media world.  I'm all for sneaking away for an hour to run to the thrift store or going to get my hair tidied up, but self-care for me comes in the morning and it is long-lasting.  

In the quiet of the morning, with the sky still dark and all of my little ones still snoozing away... that's when my "self-care" happens.  The coffee brews and I turn on the soft, glowing lamp next to our chaise.  I grab my coffee and cozy into the corner of the sofa with my bible.  I begin with a Psalm and I read it slowly.  I pray over my heart and the heart of my husband and children.  I am profoundly aware that this time of meditation and prayer has eternal implications.  Like, what better thing could I be doing besides this???  Nothing.

When that time is over, I have two other regular books that I read an excerpt from.  They are the words of men who have finished their race well.  They have spent time examining the Scriptures and it inspires me to do the same.  One of those books was recommended by a friend and I am so glad she did.  I asked for it for Christmas last year and it has been such a lovely book to read day-by-day.  It is Day by Day by J.C. Ryle.  This is wonderful book to add to your library and you will not regret getting it.  I am also subscribed to a quarterly mailing that sends out a pamphlet every season filled with rich exposition.  It is a free service and I highly recommend it- the Free Grace Broadcaster.  

When I mention my morning times on Instagram I always get loads of comments from friends who don't know where to start.  I am going to share my process in a later post.  I haven't always been a 'morning' person, in fact, I used to be a night owl.  I wanted to utilize my morning time, though, so I made some changes... changes I will share later. :)

I hope this helped even in the slightest.  If you have any questions, please ask away!

Home | Small Updates with Comfort Works

It's been awhile since I've shared in this space and I've missed it.  Life has been rolling along as we enjoyed this past summer and are now a month into the new school year (which I intend to share a bit about in another post).

One thing that has become apparent to Mark and myself over this past year is that it feels like we will be planting roots where we are at.  Every place we have been prior to this has felt like the perfect place for us... for a time, but this place feels different.  This is the first time that we have looked around and thought that we will be here for a very, very long time (Lord willing).

That being said, it changes the way you look at your home.  I have been looking long term at decisions we've been making along the way and ones that we see coming down the pipe for the future.  What feels homey and cozy?  What will be a timeless decision that I will still enjoy decades from now?  What is the feeling I want my kids to have when they think back about our time in this home?

It seems silly to some, but it feels important to me.  We envision this place as being somewhere that our kids and their friends gather.  A place that we open up to our neighbors and church family.  A place where we host dinners and back yard bar-b-ques.  You know... a home.

So, with that I want to share a small change that we recently did that made quite a big transformation in our living room.  Our Ikea Kivik sofa has been a great choice for our family.  We have all crowded on it for movie nights and many a nap has been had on a Sunday afternoon.  Our cover was looking a bit worse for the wear and I wanted to brighten it up a bit, so I searched for a simple solution- a sofa cover!

Low and behold there was a company out there that made covers specifically for Ikea sofas.  I messaged them right away and got the process underway.  I had originally planned on going with a blush color, but opted for the color that I felt like was timeless- Linen Luna Flax.

The cover fits the sofa like a glove and each piece was labeled (thank you!!!!) so I knew what part of the sofa it belonged to.  I even got some pleats on the bottom corners to give the sofa a more traditional feel. Y'all, the workmanship is excellent and their customer service has been just as good.

I wanted to share because sometimes the integrity of our furniture is still good, but we need a little update without buying an entirely new sofa set.  I encourage you to check Comfort Works out.  They even make covers for other brands, so peek at their website and see what they can do!  If you decide to give it a shot, please send me photos!!!

Homemaking | Gathering around the Table

Growing up, my mom prepared supper every day and layered our dinner table with food.  We would gather and eat together, my dad usually telling silly jokes and my brother and I bickering about who was taking up too much room on our side of the table (my older sister was lucky and got an entire side all to herself- lol).  

It was a constant in our home.  Even when we got older and had sporting events, supper was always a constant and a time when we would come together as a family before dispersing.

When Mark and I first got married, we too would sit at the table and pass the food to each other.  Then, somewhere along the way... during the baby and toddler years of life, we quit passing the plate.  We still ate supper every evening, but I began to load plates from the stove and deliver them to each person.  It seemed easier at the time, and to be honest, I hardly realized that I had started this habit.  

Then, one day this winter, I prepared the food and set the table.  I didn't dish out the food from the kitchen counter, but rather placed it in the middle of us all.  A lightbulb went off as we passed the plates and enjoyed the food.  We could see the bounty that was left for seconds and I didn't have to get up one time to get more food for someone.

It is the simplest of things... food on a table, but it brought back so many memories of my childhood.  I don't collect 'things' much, but memories are rooted pretty deeply in me.  It was so nice to sit and not have to rise to refill a plate (or five plates).  It was all right there, ready for the taking.

I will say it a million times over, I think I would have fit in rather well in the 50's. :) I love slow.  I love clothes line dried linens.  I love being domestic and keeping a home.  And it seems that I love having food cluttering our dinner table every evening. :)

Homemaking | Weekly Cleaning Schedule

In case you missed my first few CLEANING posts... here they are:

Cleaning Expectations
Preparing your home
Cleaning Supplies
Daily Tidying Schedule

Today, I'm sharing what I do on a weekly basis to clean all of the odds and ends in our home.  I have a couple of days that I do "extras" on top of my DAILY TIDYING that help keep our home feeling squeaky clean.


Sunday:  I don't like to make my Sundays busy with work, so I usually just tidy from the weekend and call it good.

Monday:  I wake up to a tidy home on Mondays, but there is usually some deeper cleaning that needs to be done after a weekend of fun.  The kids and I do a quick sweep the floors (vacuum rugs on main level and Liam dust busts around the perimeter of the main level), do a couple loads of laundry, and pick up bits of paper/trash in the kids' rooms (for some reason, their rooms always seem to be littered with bits of trash/paper that requires intentional picking up... we do this on Monday and again on Friday).

Tuesday-Thursday:  I run the laundry through as needed, but nothing major is done on these days.  I just stick to my daily tidying and that's it.  These days are all about maintenance. :)

Friday:  This is our biggest cleaning day of the week.  And even though the bulk of our regular cleaning happens this day, it goes rather quickly because the house has been tidied and tended to in small bits every single day.  I don't usually wake up on Fridays feeling overwhelmed with it because it doesn't take too long, in all reality.

After I take my morning shower, the kids and I gather ALL of our towels (bathroom and kitchen), washrags, and bath mats and take them to the laundry room.  I like doing this because it keeps those things out of my way as I clean the bathrooms. I also strip the beds and wash bedding on this day, usually, too.  While all of the laundry is going, I tend to the dusting of the home and the cleaning of the bathrooms.

I start with:

1. My bedroom/bathroom
2. Dust the Living room, Dining room, and clean the 1/2 bath off of the kitchen
3. Then I finish up with dusting the kids' bedrooms and bathroom.
4. I don't typically have to do anything to the kitchen because it gets wiped down at the end of every day, but if it is dirty, I clean that area, too.

Here is my bathroom cleaning routine:  Spray my Thieves cleaner over all of the surfaces- counter top, shower/bath, toilet, and any area that needs extra cleaning (think behind the toilet).  I dust my bedroom with my clean cloth while the Thieves spray soaks in the bathroom.  Like I said in my CLEANING SUPPLY post, I use one cloth for each target area in my home.  I dust my bedroom first so that I can use the same cloth in my bathroom.  The idea is to start with the least germy area first and work my way to the most germy area last... and then toss the rag in the wash basket.

Target Area One - Master Bed and Bath:  After my bedroom is dusted (I dust my bedside lights, the tops of all of our furniture, and the bed's headboard and footboard), I go and clean my bathroom counter and mirror.  I then attack the shower, making my way to the toilet last.  When all of that is done, I spray my floor (start in the corner farthest from the door and work your way to the door so you don't step on the clean floor as it is drying) and wipe it down, working my way out of my clean bathroom.

Target Area Two - Living room/Dining room/ 1/2 bath:  This is pretty much the same.  I dust the surfaces in the living room and dining room, making sure to pick items up off of the surfaces so I can clean under them.  Then, I use the same cloth to clean the half bath and then toss it in the wash basket.

Target Area Three - Kids' bed and bath: As I walk up the stairs, I wipe the spindles on the staircase with a third cleaning cloth.  I spray the kids' bathroom- sinks, tub, toilet and area around the toilet.  I close the bathroom door (so my kids don't use the bathroom until I'm done cleaning) and dust the three upstairs rooms (dressers, night stands, bed frames, and the back of their doors where dust tends to collect).  Like I have said before, we don't keep a bunch of trinkets and stuff out on our surfaces, so dusting is suuuuuch a quick job.  I, literally, spray and wipe.  My kids don't clutter their rooms and we don't have stuff sitting out to collect dust.

Once the dusting is finished, I hit the bathroom which is easy to clean because the Thieves has done its work and loosened all of the gunk.

LASTLY.... the floors.  I vacuum the floors after all of the surfaces are dusted (Except the bathrooms.  I do wipe those floors down as I exit the bathroom after it's cleaned.) so that I can sweep up anything that I dusted onto the floor.  Once the entire home has been cleaned, I get my vacuum and sweep the rugs, steps going upstairs, and the upstairs carpet.  I sweep the wood floors with my microfiber mop daily, so my wood floors rarely need vacuumed with the vacuum during my Friday cleaning.  I only mop my floors 2 times/month.  We don't wear shoes in our home and food is kept in the kitchen, so the kitchen is the only area that needs an occasional mopping in between.  No shoes helps keep our floors clean SO much.  Summer requires a bit more attention to the floors since we get dirty feet from flip flops and we go in and out more often, but during the fall-spring, the floors don't require that much mopping.

Saturday: We are usually having fun as a family on Saturday, so I just maintain a tidy home and that's it.  

I hope that was helpful and gave you a glimpse into how I maintain a clean home.  I know the Friday schedule seems daunting, but I promise, it's not.  I spend an hour to an hour and a half cleaning on Friday.  The kids will help me from time to time and then it goes even quicker.  I get started right after breakfast and knock it out prior to school starting.

Homemaking | Daily Cleaning Schedule

For me, daily tidying is key for not being overwhelmed by my home and all that is within it.  We all pitch in and it's just what's expected, now that we've laid the foundation.

I usually wake fairly early to start my day, if the house is in disarray, my mood instantly shifts and I can't focus on what I woke up to do- read and pray.  I love coming out of my room with my cozy sweater and slippers on, flipping the fire on, brewing some coffee, lighting my kitchen candle, and cozying up in the couch corner to read my Bible and pray over my day.

Breakfast starts at 7am as the kids begin to trickle down from their rooms, rubbing their sleep away from their eyes, and quietly eating what I've set on the table.  After they've eaten and they clear their spot, yes... all kids, except Julia clear their spot at the table once they are finished eating... they head upstairs to make their beds, get dressed, and brush their teeth.  The three older kiddos make their own beds.  I am training Julia to make hers.  The key... make it easy for them.  One pillow. One cover.  Tuck in one side of the blanket for the younger kids so all they need to do is pull the loose side of the blanket taut (if the blanket is 100%, then it usually gets all crooked and can be very difficult for a younger kiddo to maintain) and toss their pillow at the head.

As the kids are upstairs, I pull out what I might need for supper (anything frozen that needs to thaw), throw a load of laundry in the washer, and clean up the kitchen from breakfast.  There is usually a load of clean dishes waiting for me, so I quickly put those away, as well.

Now, it's 8:30 and time for school.  While school is underway, the little girls play and watch Letter Factory.  The older two tend to their studies and I bounce from place to place (and to the microwave to reheat my coffee).

Truth be told, there is usually quite the mess to tidy once school is over. :) So, while I prepare lunch, the kids all pitch in and clean the basement area.  Everything goes in three toy boxes that store ALL of our basement toys.  It takes, maybe, 5 minutes for them to pick up.  Up they come to eat lunch and get their chatters out.  I put on a book on tape and they chat about what Reddy Fox or Peter Rabbit are up to. Lunch is now done and we all go upstairs to start rest time.

As each kiddo goes potty and pulls out a few of their bedroom toys, I remind them that this is quiet time (I've been giving the same reminder, daily, for a decade now. lol), and that I expect them to respect this rule.  They all play independently.  This is so important.  If there's a mixing of the children and if they play together, the afternoon ends with bickering because they haven't had time alone.

It's now 3 o'clock and rest is over.  No snacks are granted until bedrooms are completely tidy (kids work for snacks, am I right?).  They sit with their snack and watch a show while I prepare supper and listen to a podcast.  If it's nice- out they go for the afternoon.  If it's yucky- down they go to play in the basement.  5 minutes before supper, I tell them to tidy and come up to eat.

Supper. Bath time (I sweep under the kitchen table and the wood floors in the main area while the big two are showering and then I help the little girls bathe). Wheel of Fortune. Bible time with daddy. Bedtime. Ah.... absolute quiet. ;)

I RARELY go to bed with dishes in the sink or toys strewn about.  It just doesn't work for me.  If there are a few items left about, I clean them up and make sure the house is a peaceful place to wake up to the next morning.

Tips for keeping things tidy on the daily:

1. No food outside of the kitchen.
2. No shoes in the house.
3. Do a quick tidy together.  If the house has gotten away from me/us, we blare a song on my phone and clean as quickly as we can until it's over.  Each person gets a "section" of the house and we all race to complete our section.  We laugh and whoop and hollar and try to make it fun!
4. Make tidying easy.  I don't separate all of the toys into categories (been there, done that- but, you can totally do that if you want!!!).  We throw them in a toy box/basket and it's done.  I've found that having things all categorized wasn't worth it to me.  It was a fight EVERY time it was time to pick up, and I prefer a clean home over having all of the toys individually organized.
5. Have clutter free surfaces.  This is the easiest "clean tip" I can give.  It makes it quick work to wipe down surfaces when they don't have stuff all over them.  My kitchen counter has our Keurig, a few cutting boards propped up, and our cooking spoons on it... that's all.  It takes me 30 seconds to spray and wipe it down every evening.  Same goes for our bathroom counters. :)

Again... I hope that was helpful.  Next up... my WEEKLY CLEANING SCHEDULE.

Motherhood | The Happenings

* Soup. I had soup simmering on the stove, a candle burning, and kiddos laying on the rug behind me asking when daddy was going to be home.  So much of my time is spent in this kitchen and I try make it as enjoyable as possible.  I love cooking and cleaning because so much of what I do doesn't have immediate results... the fruit takes time, but cooking and cleaning produces immediate fruit and it makes me feel useful.  

* Old School. I also like some things old school.  Books... I want to flip pages and see the progress as I work my way from the front to the back of the book.  Bread... mixing, kneading, watching it rise, and then having your kids beg for more because "it's just soooo good" is pretty sweet, too.  Growing things... I haven't had a garden in a long time, and although I don't plan on having a vegetable garden, I do plan on growing some herbs out back to use in our summer dishes.  I'm in the process of making a list of all of the herbs I want and planning out when to plant them.  Do you enjoy an herb garden?  What are your favorites?

* Sickness.  We have been blessed to have avoided any sickness thus far, but here at the tail end of winter, it finally struck.  So far, daddy and 3 out of the 4 kiddos have had something amiss and I am crossing my fingers that the the baby and myself can steer clear.  It seems to be passing quickly, and for that, I'm grateful.  We have been enjoying detox baths with Epsom salts, diffusing immune supporting oils, rolling thieves on our feet, drinking loads of tea and taking extra vitamin C to help our bodies fight off the sickness.  

* Loneliness.  Okay, I usually don't need a lot of adult interaction.  I enjoy our slow, quiet days at home and I've totally turned into a homebody over the last 10 years, BUT February is tomorrow and I am so ready for spring.  The last few weeks of January routinely give me the blues and make me feel that winter loneliness pretty intensely.  Anyone else feel this way?? I am hoping this next month flies by and that we will be enjoying a lot of outdoor time soon. :)