Entrance way photos -- before and after

Better late than never, here are the pictures from our home, before and after doing the entrance way clean-up challenge! :)


Before: A constant struggle to keep everything put away! The small walk way means that when we come home we all have to file into the dining area to take off shoes/jackets, etc. There's carpet covering every inch, so the rug is necessary to avoid carpet stains. (Don't get me started on carpet. :P)

Sorting and organizing...

Half way through: We sorted through the shoes, found a pair to pack away (too small), and got the rest of our winter stuff put in storage. Yehoshua (5) wiped down the plastic "dresser" for me. Everything fits in the 3 drawers... we just gotta keep it in there! :)


Shook out the rugs, vacuumed, wiped fingerprints from the walls and door knob, and then took this picture! Finished! :)

Making Your Home a Haven: Doorways and entrance!

Making your home a haven

For this week's Making Your Home a Haven challenge, let's focus on tidying and cleaning the entrance way to our homes!

When your husband or children come through the door, are they stepping over toys, shoes, and crumpled rugs, or are they greeted by a clean, clear landing for their tired feet? :)

Let's organize, clear out, and clean around our doorway(s) and entrance(s)! Maybe you need to re-organize, or maybe your children need a training session about where their shoes, mittens, hats, etc. belong! :)

I hope you are also keeping up with your morning and evening routines, along with your bed time/wake up time! :) I am thankful for a better week last week in those regards. I still need to work harder though! My motivation had been way down recently. :|

If you blog about doing this challenge (before and after pictures are always great!), be sure to come here and leave a link to your post! :)I'll post my before and after pictures later today. :)

Making Your Home a Haven: Review and Check-up

This week, we're going to do a little reviewing. (Starting next week we'll be tackling a smaller, fun little cleaning-type of challenge each Monday for a while!)

If you've been following along, you'll know that we've made a couple small lists, set a bed time and rising time, and determined to show love and joy regardless of whether our day is falling apart or smooth sailing! :)

This week is your chance to re-evaluate and fine-tune. Feel free to answer these questions in your head, on your blog, or in a comment on this post! :)

Is your wake-up time set realistically, and are you being disciplined in following it?

My wake-up time (5am) isn't going to change unless my husband's work hours change. ;) I have been disciplined in following it, but perhaps only since I have no choice! Surprised

Is your morning routine functioning to boost your morning, or do you need to alter it a little?

I did make some changes to my morning routine a few weeks back, and it has been working well. My next step is to set a more rigid schedule for the first few hours of my morning, so I don't spend too much time goofing off with the children! (Some play is good, but I could honestly play/read with them all day!!)

Have you been doing your evening routine? Do you need to change anything?

My evening routine has been limping along. I'm thinking about putting the shower part in the morning, and getting up 15 minutes earlier to take it.

Is your bed time working out? Do you need to tweak it, or just be more disciplined?

My bed time. Oh, dear. I don't need to tweak it, I just need to be more disciplined, for sure. I am thinking about instituting a few rules for myself to make sure I do better.

I know if I kept the computer off for the evening, I would do better. I'd also like to keep the computer off all day (and often do). The question becomes when is a good time to write for my blog? And the answer is really never! Ah, the juggling act of life.

How has your attitude been? If you're including prayer and quiet time with our Heavenly Father during your day or routines, have you been working on letting God lead and calling on His strength to show a positive, uplifting and loving spirit towards those in your home? :)

Can I skip this question? ;) Ever since I first wrote about choosing love and patience with family members, I have felt like I've struggled even more with that part.

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves, when all our family really wants is a warm meal and a tender smile, kind words and lots of hugs?

Maybe I'll write more about this in a future blog post, since it's been on my mind for a while now. :)

Okay, your turn! I want to hear your progress, your struggles, and your successes! If you're posting about it in your blog, be sure to leave a link below! :)

Making Your Home a Haven: Waking Up

(photo by A Source of Joy!)

Another week has passed and it's time to add a new challenge for those who wish to join in Making our Homes a Haven! :)

Several people have asked if they can jump in now, even though many of us started these challenges a number of weeks ago. My answer is: Of course! :) Feel free to start this week, or even to read the past challenges and use whatever will be a blessing to you and your home. :)

This week's challenge is to set a time to get up each day (or at least, each weekday)!

We've talked about a morning routine, and now it's time to start making sure we start our day when we need to. I'm not suggesting that anyone has to get up extremely early or anything unreasonable, but I am suggesting that we decide when we should be getting up in order to have the best start on our day -- a start that will help us serve Yahweh better.

Since we already have a bed time, having a waking time should help us continue to use our time and resources wisely!

Whether or not our ideal bed time and waking time happen each day, it's helpful to remember to choose love and patience. Our homes are not a haven because of how smoothly things do (or don't!) run, but because of a welcoming, joyful spirit we purpose to show to our loved ones. :)

Setting a wake-up time is going to be a lot easier for me than setting a bed time was! My alarm goes off shortly before 5am each weekday, and I really don't have any option other than getting out of bed and starting to make Joshua's tea and lunch for the day. :)

Since I do get up on time, I plan to use this week to focus again on my bed time. I am still struggling in that area!

Want to join our challenge? This week, decide what wake-up time would serve you and your family the best! You can leave a comment here, or post about it in your blog and leave us a link! :)

Thank you all for your encouragement to me and others in these challenges! :)

Making Your Home a Haven: Evening Routine

(photo by A Source of Joy!)

Thanks for joining me for this week's Making Your Home a Haven challenge! :)

Last week I encouraged everyone (including myself!) to choose love and joy during those moments when we're tempted to be grumpy and unpleasant. This is truly a challenge that never goes away. I know I'm still in need of a lot more practice!

My week didn't go how I had planned and I'm humbled to report that today I realise even moreso how far I have yet to go in this area. Thank you for your encouraging blog posts and comments -- you are truly a blessing to me!

Okay, so, we've written down our morning routines. Have you revised yours yet? I have! There's certainly nothing wrong with making changes and adaptations as we figure out what works best in each of life's many seasons! :)

I've found that my initial morning routine was too huge for me to tackle with success every day, so I pared it down to the 5 things that will help boost my morning and inspire me to keep going, rather than bogging me down and taking the entire morning to complete.

My revised Morning Routine:

1. Make tea/take vitamins
2. Bible time with children
3. Make (put away) bed
4. Put away clean dishes
5. Breakfast (hot cereal)

This simpler morning routine is helping to energize me in the mornings. Instead of doing a larger project (like school time) and not getting our bed made until mid-afternoon, I'm getting the easier pick-me-up stuff out of the way first.

How are you doing with your bed time? I am making it about 50% of the time. I am working on successfully streamlining a few more things in order to have more time for sleep. I'm hoping to have a good progress report in this area by next week! :)

This week's challenge is to implement an Evening Routine!

Your evening routine can consist of five (or fewer) things that you can do each evening to help give you (and your home!) a better start the following day. Sometimes the extra 5 minutes spent planning ahead for the next day is all it takes to make your home more of a haven. :)

My Evening Routine

1. Plan tomorrow's meals
2. Write a reasonable to-do list for tomorrow
3. Clean up kitchen
4. Bible time with Joshua
5. Shower

I would love to hear how you're doing this week! Did you have a challenging week, or is everything running smoothly? :) What will you do for your Evening Routine? As always, tips and ideas on any of the topics we've covered (or things you'd like to hear more about!) are welcome. :) Leave me a comment or post about it in your blog and add the link to your post here! :)

Making Your Home a Haven: Choosing Love

(photo by A Source of Joy!)

Last Monday I challenged you to set a bedtime and follow it. How did you do? I did better this past week but I wasn't as disciplined as I had planned to be. I'm thankful for a new week and a new chance to keep working in the area of getting to bed on time! :)

It can be difficult to find that happy balance in life sometimes. You know? My life rarely seems as though it's perfectly balanced, perfectly managed, or perfectly ordered!

When I go to bed on time, I accomplish "less". I can get grumpy if I start thinking about all the things I wanted to get done, bemoaning the fact that I "wasted" those hours asleep!

And on the reverse, when I stayed up way past my bedtime in order to check more things off my lists, I felt grumpy the next morning because I'd only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before!

There's really only one cure for this (besides hiring a nanny, secretary, housekeeper, and lots of other things I can't afford!).

I discovered this little trick about 5 years ago when my first baby was born. (Suddenly, sleep just wasn't the same any more!)

If you want to be cheerful, you must choose to be cheerful (even when you don't feel like it). If you want to have patience, you have to practice waiting quietly and calmly (even when you don't feel like it). If you want to be kind, choose kindness (even when you don't feel like it).

The good news is that this attitude adjustment is infectious! And it will make your days pass so much more pleasantly -- for you and your family.

So today, along with continuing to follow your set bedtime and morning routine, I want to encourage you to try your best to be loving towards your family... even (or especially!) when you want to feel grumpy.

Up to the challenge? Leave me a comment or post about it in your blog and add the link to your post here! :)

Making Your Home a Haven: Bedtime

Thank you all so much for joining in last week and sharing about your morning routines! :) This week's challenge is something I've needed to work on for quite some time...

Do you ever have trouble getting to bed on time? Surely I can't be the only one who frequently lacks discipline in this area.

Staying up too late (and usually for non-important reasons!) has a great impact on how well I function the next day... how patient I am... and whether or not I can read stories to my children without conking out!

I personally feel that going to bed on time is one of the most important aspects of making our homes a haven. It's also one that I frequently do not choose to do. I want to change that!

There are certainly times when it is a good thing to stay up "past our bedtime". But when we are regularly indulging the flesh while ignoring good sense, it can become a sinful trap that Satan uses to keep us from giving our very best to our family and home.

It's difficult to get everything done, isn't it? I know I've sure tried, and it just never works. Our bodies were made with a need to stop and rest. If we're like the majority of people, our bodies need 7+ hours of sleep each night. I could go off on a rant about all the health benefits of getting proper sleep, but you probably know it already. Sleep is good for us!

In order for me to get to bed on time, I have to cut out distractions. The computer is my biggest downfall in this area. Other distractions for me are books and cleaning.

If you, like me, desire to go to bed on time and get a reasonable amount of sleep, then we have to prepare, plan, and yes -- exercise some self-discipline and self-denial regarding what we'd rather do, knowing that we are making wise choices for our bodies and our families!

So my challenge to you today is to come up with a good bedtime for yourself. Your family, schedule, individual sleep needs, and spouse's preference will influence what time is best for you to be in bed, but decide on something and resolve to be in bed by that time every night this week!

You may have to work harder today, to be sure you'll meet that goal. Or maybe you'll be going to bed tonight with a few dirty dishes out and a computer that has stayed off for the evening. It's okay.

My bedtime needs to be 9:00pm. I'm gonna stick to it! Boy, won't Joshua be excited when he reads this post! If I stick to a bedtime it'll be about 10 times easier for him to follow it too. (And we both get up at 5!)

Do you want to join me in setting and sticking to a bedtime? Leave me a comment with your resolution, or post about your bedtime on your blog and come back here to link! (Please link directly to your post.)

Next week I'll ask how you all did with getting to bed on time, and I'll give a report about how well I did, too. ;)

Making Your Home a Haven: Morning Routine

Photo from a source of joy

Welcome to this week's Making Your Home a Haven challenge! (If you missed my intro, you can read it here.)

We're going to stick to the basics this week. For years, Crystal has plugged the idea of having a Morning Routine.

A simple Morning Routine is a list of 5, and only 5, things that you plan to do each morning. Getting a good start for the day can set a beautiful tone for the rest of the day's challenges!

I've done Morning Routines in the past, and even stuck with them for quite some time because having a little daily list, a little structured routine, worked wonders for me -- even while juggling babies and toddlers and everything else.

However, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that in recent months I haven't been using my mornings very wisely, and I certainly haven't been following any Morning Routines.

Far too often I am finding myself unmotivated, staring at a pile of leftover dishes, toys, dirty laundry, or messy floors and then crawling off to the living room to goof off with the children. (Yes, some goofing off is good. But things like not planning dinner and not clearing the dishes is not good!)

That said, I am motivated to re-institute a 5-Things Morning Routine for where our family is right now!

Here is my Morning Routine:

1. Put away clean dishes.
2. Bible time with the children.
3. Make tea and take vitamins.
4. School time.
5. Take children outside.

Join me in making a list of 5 things you want to call your Morning Routine! Your 5 things will likely be very different from mine! Do what works for you. Keep it simple and manageable: something you can reasonably do on a daily basis.

Leave me a comment with your list, or post your list on your blog and come back here to link! (Please link directly to your post.)

Making Your Home a Haven: Starting this week!

Photo from a source of joy

I have always really enjoyed my friend Crystal's posts in her series, "Making Your Home a Haven". As Crystal is nearing the end of her third pregnancy, she's scaling back on a few things right now. I'm thrilled to be able to continue the "Making Your Home a Haven" series here on my blog!

Each Monday, I'll have a challenge posted here for you. :)

If you have a blog and want to play along, you can post about your progress and then add your link to my post over here! If you don't have a blog, I'd love to hear about your progress in the comments section!

Before we start, I wanted to share where I'm coming from with this series. You know, I love homemaking. After all the hard work of maintaining a house, it's rewarding to be able to look over my accomplishments and feel a sense of "success".

But "making your home a haven" isn't really about having the cleanest house, the nicest decor, or even an empty laundry hamper (although the empty hamper sure is nice!).

A home that feels like a haven to your family is a home where you (as the homemaker) have a peaceful servant's heart and patience. It's a home where getting everything crossed off the list isn't nearly as important as simply having a joyful, creative, relationship-filled day (versus simply a "chore-filled" day).

I'm not saying we can't build relationships while we work. In fact, working with our children and spouse is a great way to build up our relationships with them! But the focus needs to be on the people, not the chores.

So, the "Making Your Home a Haven" challenge isn't all about cleaning, working, or to-do lists. It's about having a spirit-filled heart and loving our families enough that we strive to make ourselves and our homes a welcoming, joyful, and peaceful haven to them!

I'm excited about continuing this journey and getting to share it with you all! :) Stay tuned for your first challenge... :)

Your questions answered: Homemade cleaner recipes?

Maleesa asked:

Do you make homemade cleaners?

I am switching some of mine over so they are more environmentally safe. I do have recipes I am making up tomorrow to start. I was wondering if you made any homemade cleaners?

I have a homemade scouring powder that I really love!

I use plain vinegar in a spray bottle to clean mirrors and windows.

For cleaning the bathroom, I use either plain (undiluted) vinegar or else a dilutable natural cleaner in a spray bottle. (My favorite is Tough and Tender!)

I use a few drops of bleach in the toilet bowl when it needs scrubbing. I read somewhere that a few drops of bleach is effective and that keeps it simple for me since I already have bleach on hand (although I don't use it much; it is more of a disaster-readiness item!).

For the kitchen and general cleaning (including mopping the floors) I use hot water and a little liquid dish soap! :)

And... I think that's it! :)

Anyone want to share their favorite homemade cleaner recipe for us to try? I like to keep things simple but I also love variety! ;)


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