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. :) 

Homemaking | Cleaning Supplies



Just like the rest of my life, I like to keep my cleaning supplies simple and minimal.  I don't use a wide variety of cleaners and I prefer to keep them as natural as possible.  We have a kiddo with some respiratory issues, so using cleaners that release tons of unhealthy VOCs in the air is no bueno

The reason I like to keep my cleaning supplies simple is so cleaning is simple and so I don't have to find a place to store ten bottles of this and that.  Without further ado... here are my supplies:

1. Thieves household cleaner-  I love this stuff so much.  I can't even say how much I love this all-purpose cleaner.  I use one capful of this cleaner + 16 oz of water and I go to town spraying and wiping.  I also love that I can use it on all of my surfaces- counters, stainless, glass, windows, wood floors, toilets, etc.  It makes cleaning a breeze because all I have to do is grab my spray, some rags, and tackle the house.  OH!  And it smells like Christmas.  It smells soooo good.

The Thieves cleaner comes from Young Living.  I get my amber colored spray bottles off of amazon.  

2. Norwex Rags- Again, you can use any rags you want, but I prefer the Norwex rags.  I use the regular ones for all of the surfaces- floors, walls, counters, toilets, and the "window/glass" rags to polish things or to clean windows and mirrors.  I use multiple rags when I clean.  I usually use a separate rag for each bathroom, a rag for cleaning/dusting our bedroom, dining room, living room, a different rag for the kitchen, and then a rag for the entire upstairs (the kids' rooms).  I really don't like to take yuck from one place to another, so this helps me not do that.  

3.  Scrub Brush- You might need one of these for grout issues or to clean pesky corners.  This isn't something you should have to use every time you clean, but just a few times/year if you keep your house tidy in between.  

4.  Bona Mop/Microfiber swiffer set- I got a Bona mop/microfiber duster set years ago and have loved it ever since.  The microfiber pad collects dust so well and the mop does a good job of scrubbing, too.  You can grab it online or at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  

5.  Vacuum- I don't have any recommendations for a vacuum.  I use a Eureka and have for over a decade.  I haven't had any trouble and I still like it.  You will use this to "dust" your baseboards, clean out cracks and sweep up couch crumbs.  I vacuum once/week in our main level and probably 2/month in our upstairs.  We don't wear shoes in our home, so that helps keep the dirt at bay, and we don't snack anywhere but the kitchen and living room.  

I hope that was helpful!  Next up... my DAILY CLEANING ROUTINE.

Recipe | Apple Cider Detox Tea




I mentioned in this post that I love tea.  I especially love an afternoon cup of tea to beat the winter blues. The recipe I'm sharing has a sweetness to it, compliments of the local honey, and a bite to it... thank you, apple cider vinegar + lemon oil.  

Not only is this warm, sweet, and spicy, but it is SO healthy for you.  A friend shared it with me and I didn't think it would make that much of a difference, but I am addicted.  I feel like it curbs my cravings and supports my immune system, just google "apple cider vinegar" and "lemon essential oil" benefits.

Without further ado... Apple Cider Detox Tea.

Apple Cider Detox Tea
Ingredients:

6-8 oz hot water
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother)
1 drop Lemon EO (or 2 T lemon juice)
1 t cinnamon
1 T raw honey


Directions:

Add to your favorite mug and whisk it all around... 
that's what it's all about (to the tune of 'hokey pokey')!

Enjoy!

Homemaking | Winter Hygge





Winter Blues. 

It’s a real thing when you live in a place with long, cold, gray winters. I used to feel “blue” once Christmas was over and that meant I had, at least, 3 entire months of gloom looming over me before spring would begin to show up. 

A few years ago, I began to implement a few things that were characteristically “winter” and it helped me to push through since these were things I only got to enjoy during the winter time. These are things that I reserve for winter in order to make it more cozy and enjoyable:

1. Beeswax candles- I light beeswax candles and the soft, yellow glow is incredibly comforting.

2. Fireplace- we run the fireplace throughout a good portion of our day and the fire brings such a cozy feel.

3. Twinkle lights- there’s just something about the glow of twinkle lights that makes the short days seem more bearable. 

4. Kitchen work- I used to bake goodies year round, now I reserve most of my baking for winter. It gives us something to look forward to and the smell always makes the house feel homey.

5. Afternoon tea- this was a big one for me. I make a cup of tea once the kids are tucked away for rest time and I sit quietly while I sip. It isn’t always as serene as it sounds (😂 #fourkids)but it is a time I look forward to. 

Do you have any winter rituals to help the long season seem more bearable?

Homemaking | Preparing Your Home



I shared on my Instagram feed how one of the most asked questions I get is about how I keep my home so clean.  When I posted about it here, I was again blown away by the response and how many mamas would love encouragement in this area.  And, since that post, I've gotten more DMs asking me the same question... "How do you keep your house so clean and clutter free?"  I shared last week about expectations, so if you missed that post- check it out here.



I don't think anything I do is incredibly mind-blowing, but maybe I can give a bit of inspiration to you to help kick start your spring cleaning or organize your thoughts/plan.  One of the first things to do before beginning the actual cleaning is to prep your home.  There is nothing worse than getting yourself pumped up to clean, only to find that you can't clean because there's so much JUNK everywhere.  You have to prep your house for the cleaning, and if it has been awhile since you've done this, acknowledge beforehand that this will be "work" and that it will take some time to do the preparation.  AND, it's okay that it's not fun, it's just part of life and part of having a home that's easy to maintain (I have to tell myself that all of the time- it's okay that it's not fun). :)   

So here are a couple of Prep Steps to do prior to beginning your cleaning routine:

Declutter- There... I said it... DECLUTTER.  I realize that decluttering is a huge trend right now, but aside from it being trendy, it's also necessary.  Do you want a home that's easy to tidy on the fly??? Declutter so there isn't so much to cram in the closet when your guests are pulling into your drive unannounced.  

I declutter constantly.  If I have a "hot spot" that I am always fighting to keep clean- it's time to  
declutter.  Here's the key, declutter one space at a time.  Start with a room that doesn't bog you
down and declutter.  Have a box for items you want to give away and a trash bag for trash.
Don't spend 10 minutes pondering each item or this will take you a century and you will quit
before the job is done... have you used it lately?  Does it serve an important purpose?

A sidenote... I am not a very sentimental person.  My mama and mother-in-law are constantly
concerned about things I part with. :)lol  For me, a clean home is so much more important to
me than a trinket I was given.  There are a few things that I hold near and dear and most of them
are handiwork pieces from my Nene (like that Bambi quilt on my daughter's bed in the above
photo).  Otherwise, I don't cling to things very tightly.  Not everyone is like this, but the burden
of keeping things just in case is too much for me. 

Decluttering Kid's Hot Spots-   The way I do my decluttering is to work from room to room.  I usually do one floor and then move to the other floor (upstairs and then downstairs) and I work fast.  The areas that I declutter often are the kids' closest and their drawers.  I am seasonally doing this.  If I stay on top of things, it doesn't take me long, but if I wait too long it takes a bit more time.  I don't hand down Liam's clothes because I don't have another boy, but I do hand down the girls' clothes to the next girl sibling.  Julia's closet has a tote in it that gets all of the hand-me-downs for both Julia and Guinnyth since the two older girls share a room and they don't have space in their closets for a tote.  This tote contains the gently worn clothes for both Guinnyth and Julia to have later on.  This saves us money, too, because I usually have some clothes for the next season stored for them and we don't have to buy entire wardrobes.  Again, I don't keep clothes that have holes or are so faded that they need to be tossed.  
Once the clothing is sorted and taken care of, we move on to the toys/closets.  Each kiddo gets      
one tote/bucket/basket in their closet for toys.  ONE- that's it.  I don't have a million totes and make them sort all of their toys.  They have one tote and everything gets tossed in that tote and
hidden in their closet.  This makes it easy and quick when it's clean up time and it keeps the
mess at a minimum because they don't have so many toys that the room becomes a disaster
since all they have is one tub of toys.  Every once in awhile their toys get out of hand and I
have to pare down.  If your kiddos are pack rats, send them to Grandma's house for a day and minimize the mess.  I, personally, just set my kids up with a movie and then get to work.  Do
you have a kid who loves Every. Single. Toy?  I have one, too, and she gets over it after a day,
or so.  It's okay to help them see that they don't have to hang on to everything.  Things we have
have different values, and we can teach our kids that.  Some things are worth keeping, some are
not (i.e. the rocks found at the park that magically made their way into my child's drawer). :)


Decluttering the Bathrooms- We only have necessities.  We don't have a ton of towels- just enough for us and a few for if we have guests.  They are all the same color so I can sort and put them away quickly.  We keep our shower supplies simple and condensed so it is easy to wipe the shower and bathtub down weekly.  Our counters are clear from clutter and easy to wipe, as well.  Our current bathroom is big, but our last one was very small and we have the same amount in here as we did in our tiny bathroom.  Keep things simple and it's so much easier to keep clean.


Conceal Things- This is a tip that I throw out like candy when telling online friends how my house looks so tidy.  Baskets with lids. Drawers. Closets.  Keep things that you don't want seen concealed.  Your home will automatically look tidier.  We have toys in our living room, but you'd never know it because they are tucked away inside of a basket.  See that basket that Brownie is chilling on??  It's is hiding our toys.  Those are all of the toys we have in our living room.  They are easy to pick up and I rarely have a struggle with the kids when it's clean up time.  We do have a toy closet in our basement area and it has tubs in it for the kids to put those toys in, too.  It is hidden behind closed doors and when we have company, you don't even know they are there.  So, you see, it isn't that we don't have any toys, we just keep them tucked away and we seasonally go through them to weed out the broken, un-needed, tired toys.  If it's birthday time, or Christmas, the toys get a huge purging prior to bringing in the new stash.

So, grab yourself some baskets at the thrift store, or grab some Hobby Lobby coupons and hide
those toys.

Vacuum up the Dirt- My last, and most gratifying, tip is to vacuum your house.  Like, the entire thing... shelves and all.  :) This is such an easy way to make your home feel instantly refreshed after you have just decluttered.  I take my hose on my vacuum and the brush attachment and dust the baseboards, window sills, doors, and the corners of the rooms where cobwebs like to hide.  I get the perimeter of every room and under all of the furniture.  I know this sounds like it takes a long time, but I promise it will make your life so. much. easier. in the long run.  It is so easy and will instantly make your room appear cleaner.  I do this prior to wiping down any room I'm about to clean (this includes bathrooms, which get so much hair around the perimeter, closets, behind toilets, etc). There's nothing more annoying than sitting on your hands and knees, ready to wipe down the base boards, and after one swipe you have a nasty, dirty rag.  Vacuuming the little bits and dust bunnies will help so much. :)
I sincerely hope that this was helpful and not totally overwhelming.  I can honestly say that once you've done this the first time, if you stay on top of things every once in awhile, it doesn't take that long to maintain the home.  I homeschool, run a home-based business, and keep a home with 4 kiddos underfoot 24/7... decluttering and paring down is the only way I can keep my home from taking over my sanity. 

I have more things coming up ahead, so I hope you will stay tuned.  If you have any helpful input, please comment below and share with other mamas.  My next post will be about my cleaning supplies.  Those, too, are kept simple. :)

Homemaking | Cleaning Expectations



Today’s post is about expectations.  Expectations we have of ourselves and that others have of us.  But, I can’t go any further without nailing down the foundation as to why we keep a home.    This will resonate with some of you and others will be all “peace out” before I start building on the foundation. That’s okay.  Take what bits you want to take and leave the rest, but these three things directly impact the way I serve my family.

It’s easy, in our flesh, to not experience joy in our labors.  It’s easy for us to be lazy… it’s our natural bent, but it’s so important to know a few truths.  

  1. We serve a God of order- not chaos.  Our homes should be a place of peace and order.  No one enjoys a home that is full of junk and has clutter/messes over every square inch.  That doesn’t create calm or peace in our home.  Our homes won’t be pristine 24/7, but they should be places that have some sort of order in place.
  2. When we were children, we were messy and undisciplined.  We are to put off our childish ways and do mature things- namely be disciplined in our work. I tell my “oily team” often that “adults do adult things.”  
  3. We are to do all things without grumbling.  Our work might not always be a ‘walk in the park’ (I mean, who loves scrubbing toilets or folding 100 loads of laundry??), but we are to delight in the fact that our bodies and minds have the ability to do the work that is required of us.  Not every person on this planet has a body that can vacuum and scrub.  It is a privilege to have such a thing and we shouldn’t squander it! We are not required to move a mountain.  We are required to glorify God by being joyful in our work.


Now that our minds and hearts have been taken off of us, and placed on a firm foundation, let’s keep moving on.  

Expectations are huge.  We all have our own vision of what “clean” looks like.  Your vision doesn’t have to be my vision.  It’s important to have an ‘end game,’ so to speak, so you need to spend a moment thinking about what your ideal might be.  

For me, I want clear counter tops, dust-bunny free corners, cobweb free light fixtures, and a tidy house when I turn in for the night.  Maybe you simply want your home to be drop-by presentable and not spotless- that is totally fine!  Your expectations should match the desires of you (and your husband) and your ability to meet those expectations. I say "ability" because we all know that there are seasons that require us to be doing other things.  For example, newborn life. I tried to keep the house tidy with new babies, but it was really hard and somethings didn't happen like I would have liked.  Another example, maybe your hubby is in the military and he's gone.  Single momming it is super hard and your expectations should reflect that difficulty.  Maybe you've had a season of lots of sickness running through the home... laundry and dishes will inevitably pile up during those times.  Those aren't excuses to throw all caution to the wind, but just some instances where we need to keep things in perspective. 

So, your first bit of work is to write down your ideals.  Write down what you want your home to reflect and what you will need to do in order to accomplish that end game. Are there areas that really bother you?  Write them down so you can tackle them.  Is there a chore you consistently neglect... work to be more disciplined in that area (hello... mine is laundry. oy!).

Things I will cover in later posts:

Preparing your home- decluttering, etc.
Cleaning supplies I use
Daily tidying schedule
Weekly Cleaning Schedule
How I deep clean

Homemaking | New Year, Same Resolution


Some mornings I want my coffee in 30 seconds and other mornings I want it slow brewed... today was a slow-brew kind of day.  It feels more like a Monday than a Tuesday and I have quite a list of things to accomplish- laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping, school room cleaning, etc.  It might seem like a silly list, but with four kids under foot... it can feel like climbing Mount Everest.

As I scroll social media, I see so many worthy resolutions being shared.  I have never been a "resolution" kind of person, not because goal setting isn't a good thing, but because I find that my "strivings" were set for me years ago and they don't really change.  

This year, like the past 13 years, I will focus on being joyful in my daily work and pointing myself and my family to Christ... to Truth.  Even in my own mind, I must keep things simple, because I am prone to wander and the end goal gets foggy.  Christ is the end goal.  


So, here I am... doing the same thing I've done for years and while it seems pointless, and possibly boring to some, it's so comforting to me.  It is a lofty enough goal for me to keep my heart focused on eternal things, and I will most likely spend my entire life surging forward toward that goal and, until my last day, will never quite reach it.  But, it will be oh, so sweet once I do. 

Happy New Year... 2018.