Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Home.  It's my very favorite place to be.......provided my family is there.  It's our haven.  As a matter of fact, Cedar Haven is the nickname I affectionately gave our home.

Love my sign made by Kendra (At Home with K)! 

We've made some radical changes this past year in our home.  One of the biggest, one that's made a huge difference, is that we no longer travel 40 miles one way to dance three times a week.  It was Joy's choice, but definitely something I had been praying about.  We figured between actual dance and the drive time to and from there, we were spending 7 1/2 hours minimum a week (usually more though).  Joy had been feeling the stress of the hurried lifestyle with no time for anything else, and had been battling with what to do.  With the addition of our Luke this year, I think we all felt the need to slow down and enjoy life's simple moments more.  However, we did leave the final decision to Joy.  She confidently announced last September, after going a few times to dance, that she wanted more time at home, time with Luke, and time to try other things.  All this to say that now our outside activities this year have taken place during the day while dad is working (gymnastics, homeschool gym day and guitar lessons).  This has made a tremendous difference.

Simplifying our lives with less trips out of our home has made our home so much more content and peaceful.  It has improved the atmosphere - the entire "feel" of our home - since we've slowed down.  It especially changed the evening hours.  We were already accustomed to our days at home with homeschooling, but we were rushing late afternoon and early evenings to activities to the point that when we had an evening home, it was a huge treat.  Now it's more the normal to be home in the evening and the outside activity that occasionally arises is the exception.

Don't get me wrong.  We made it a point to do things together as a family before when we were rushing to activities (that's just was more effort....a because it was important, but now the small enjoyable things happen much more often naturally as a family because we're here at home more.  I know this has also helped tremendously with Luke's adjustment, attachment, and security this year also.  He's had a secure home routine, and I think that has made a huge difference. 

When I was younger, way before I was married and had children, I knew that a wife and mother was what I desired to be above all other things.  The career part waivered, but not the vision I had of being a wife and mother.  As a matter of fact, I would plan out in my mind how I would fit my career into my home life and it always had to include being home with my children (when the time came for us to have children).  Mothers on TV shows like June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver), Lucy (I Love Lucy), Caroline Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie), and Olivia Walton (The Waltons) were my role models.  I know I'm showing my age now.  :)  In real life, there was my very own mother, who was always at home with us.  I knew without a doubt that was the home life that felt right for me....even as a child and teenager.  Thankfully, I have a wise husband who has always supported that desire and shared the same ideas, beliefs, and values concerning our home and family.  (We discussed this many times before marriage because it was very important to me, as it was to him).

Being home in the late afternoons and evenings has allowed us to create a routine that I think will be remembered far above rushing to lessons or outside our home for activities.  Now when dad comes home from work, Joy and Luke rush out the door (usually barefoot) to greet him with a hug and kiss as he opens his car door, and then I'm waiting for him at the backdoor with a welcome home kiss.  Oh, we did those things to welcome dad before, but now it's different.  It's anticipated and slower paced, not hurried and on our way somewhere.  It's hard to explain, but it just feels different.

I've been enjoying reading the book, Organized Simplicity.

The author states something that I wholeheartedly agree with.  She is speaking of the time that mom serves as a taxi, carting kids from activity to activity - play dates, lessons (which by the way stretch the family finances too).  What happens to the things we enjoyed growing up?  Things like lazy days reading a book, playing outside....etc?  The author, Tsh Oxenreider, says, "I wonder what our children's memories will be when they reflect on their upbringing - an innocent time full of play and exploration, or the booster seat on the way to ballet practice?"  Ouch.  That's so true and made me ponder and reassured and reaffirmed to me that we were doing the right thing by slowing down and changing our priorities a bit, concerning activities.  I have great childhood memories that included playing outside alot, reading alot, eating homemade popsicles, riding my bike, and playing games.   I don't want my kids to miss out on the good stuff.  

With our afternoons and evenings home now, there's more time for better meals with sit down dinners as a routine and more homemade desserts (instead of saving those for when company is coming).  :)

I've enjoyed trying out new recipes and Joy is learning to cook and loves it.  I want her to remember us cooking and laughing together (and I'm sure she'll remember the messes Luke makes when he's "helping").  :)

Strawberry Cobbler

There's more time for evening bicycle rides.

Or 4 wheeler rides.

Time for playing in the sandbox.

or slip-n-slide.

And of course, the pool.

We've read more books aloud - books that inspire - and this all after school is "officially" over for the summer.  Books like these....

More time to gather together in our room and watch educational, inspiration or family movies or documentaries.  Two or three years ago, we gave up our cable TV and don't miss it at all - it's wonderful!

There's more time to get back on track with routine family devotions time.  There's more time to do as the Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:7 concerning teaching your children God's Word and ways - "Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up."  

Time for exercise.  Working out several times a week has been enjoyable and provides a time when we gather upstairs in the loft....Jason and I exercising, Luke playing with his trains, Joy exercising and then reading aloud to us (I love being read aloud to since I'm usually the one that does that).  We often do our devotion time at this point too.

Even simplifying our stuff.  The book I spoke of that I've been reading, Organized Simplicity, has opened my eyes to all the "stuff" that needs to go in our home as well.  I've cleaned, decluttered and organized our bedroom and bath closet and drawers so far.  If we hadn't worn it in a year, it went.  I'm still working on other rooms, but so far we've sold a few things, donated alot of things, and taken out many bags of throw aways.  It feels good!

Being home more has allowed a regular nap time (for Luke - not in the car on the road much at all)...and quiet time for Joy and me.  I love this too!

Home and family have always been right behind God and faith in Him, but it just feels more content now.  I think somewhere along the line, we (mostly me) had said yes to too many activities.  It's actually liberating to say no sometimes too!  I think everyone is happier in the long run the simpler we keep it and the more we stay home.  As a matter of fact, when we are away from home, Luke asks, "we going home now, Mama?" (or kome as he says).  

It has also allowed more time to work on our apartment/pool house or "Cedar Loft" as we dubbed it.  We're making progress there....Jason mostly.  The part where he'll need me out there working with him is getting close.  :)

Oh and not to mention with the price of gas, we're saving money because we try to coordinate trips to town to make the most of our time and money when we do go.

So with more time at home, I imagine you'd wonder why my last blog post is dated April 24th, right?  Well for that, I really have no excuse apart from the fact that other things have prioritized my time.....not anything huge, just simple things.  And sometimes my computer tends to be a time robber.  I'm trying to work on that.  Therefore to fight temptation, I have to press the off button.  However, I have missed it and am anxious to be back to bloggin' and am trying to work this into my simpler home life routine, as well as some crafting and decorating that's long overdue too.  I guess you could just say I needed a break to focus on other things, which also included finishing up our school year and winding down.  And honestly, for some reason, I didn't feel I had much to offer the blogging world.  Do you ever feel that way?  But I'm finding myself with ideas and thoughts flooding into my mind that I'm anxious to share with my blogging friends and I'm also just anxious to be back.  :)

So what about you?  What do you do to create a homey atmosphere....peaceful and content in your home?  What do you do to create a simpler home life?  Have you made changes that have led to a more "home and family friendly" lifestyle?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on making your home "a home" with time to enjoy the simple pleasures and creating a content and peaceful atmosphere.

I looked up the definition of home in my trusty 1828 American Dictionary of Language by Noah Webster - the original dictionary.  It says:

Home (n.) - a house, a close place, a place of rest.

I like that.... a place of rest.  That's how it should be.

Then I looked up the same word in the New Webster Dictionary (1993).  It says:

Home (n.) - one's own abode, the abode of one's family, residence.

I like the family part, but I think it was intended to be a place of relaxation and rest, for all the family, just as the 1828 dictionary implies. (I always prefer the old dictionary version). really is our haven and the center of family life......where the very best memories are made.  That's why it's my favorite place to be.  :)  


Carey's Farmhouse Kitchen said...

I feel the same way. Our kids are actually not doing anything this summer like dance, ball etc. They are playing and using their imagination. Today they used a rope to make a swing. This is just what I feel kids need to do in the summer. I think it has created a whole different atmosphere in families to be going from one activity mainly school to another. I think this lifestyle hurts families in the long run.

Great post!

Sharon said...

Welcome back first off.
I always enjoyed your blog.
I also agree that being home is so much better for all.
We are empty nester now and I enjoy my time in my home.
I wish I could get my dil to slow down on the activities that she has for the kids.
I am glad that you are having more family time.
Have a nice day.

Jackie said...

So glad to see you back! We limit the activities the kids do...usually only one night per week and they aren't doing any organized activities this summer...lots of bike riding and swimming. This is not a popular point of view in our community as most of our friends have their kids scheduled almost every night. I believe it's important for them to have down time and family time as well. I really enjoyed this post.

Donna~One Simple Country Girl said...

Thank you for this wonderful post, Tammy! I'm glad you are finding the simplicity in your life. I've missed "reading" you on here, but sounds to me like you have your priorities right so I completely understand your absence. Love all the wonderful pictures you share of your beautiful and precious children. Joy is so pretty, Colt is very handsome and little Luke, well, it looks like he is growing like a weed cause he sure isn't very little anymore! LOL! Thank you, Tammy, for inspiring me to be a better Christian, wife, mother, and friend. Hope you have a wonderful summer and can't wait to see the crafts and other projects I'm sure you will be sharing with us!

Grammee Linda - Behind My Red Door said...

So nice to see you here again! And HOME is where I like to be too and in fact, after this week, I appreciate it even more!!

I think you articulated some things that other young families would do well to consider. Kids need time for the simple things in life and family time shouldn't always be so complicated. I pray our son remembers those times growing up and repeats them with Lili now.

Warm hugs to you and your wonderful family!!

Wendi said...

I am a homebody and feel stressed and overwhelmed when there is to much time spent away from home. I dont' feel that lots of play groups and outside activities are necessary. We live a simple lifestyle and enjoy being together. Our evenings could be as simple as sitting outside in the evening and watching Megan play or pulling out a board game. It we are feeling the need for excitement we might go out for ice cream or to the park! Many people think we are strange because we don't have Megan enrolled in activities and we don't feel the need to live on the fast track. The slow, simple life we lead makes my heart sing!

Michelle said...

I couldn't agree more with this post! I am in the process of simplifying as well, and have always tried to limit activities. One sad thing I have observed in the last year is that more and more homeschool families are taking part in the homeschool programs through the school districts and are given a large amount of money per year for curriculum and extra curricular actitivties. For this reason, they feel the need to use all the funds, so they sign their kids up for tons of outside activities since they don't have to pay for them. I am seeing some homeschool moms getting really stressed and burned out, yet they think it's the only way they can homeschool, by taking the funding offered to them. I recently explained to one mom that I choose not to go that route. For one, I am trying to simplify. I spend very little on homeschool supplies anyway, and they get a great education. I also don't have room for a thousand dollars worth of curriculum, and I don't have the time to run around all day going to activities.

Bless you. Wonderful points in this post!

renee said...

Hi Tammy,
I think it's great that you can do that. I don't know that I would know what to do being at home all the time, I have always had to work.
I admire that you are able to stay home and do these things for your family. We don't do a lot of stuff activity wise. We are trying to do more family things, it's something that we are not used to doing, as my husband and I have almost always worked opposite shifts. We do have a few outdoor games that we play. I am glad that you have more time~I try and plan all my errands on the same day too, gas is getting expensive as is groceries. So I understand that.
I hope that you have a nice summer!

Bama said...

Hi Tammy! I haven't been blogging for ahwile either. In fact my old blog, "Primitive Devotion" is no more. I went through a burned-out phase, I guess, among other things. I did start blogging about collecting dolls and have kept that blog going so far.
You are so right about keeping it simple. There are times when that is almost impossible, but you are doing things right. It pays off in the end!
I have lots of wonderful memories from my childhood and nearly all of them took place at home.
Enjoy your summer!


Joy ~ Doodlebug ~ said...

To my beautiful MAMA,

I love you!

This was a great post, it was very pretty! You did a great job, and you're such a great writer!

I like our new, simpler lifestyle! I LOVE spending time with you here at home! I'm having fun and making memories, and some of my favorite times are just us going out, doing stuff, grabbing fast food in the car, and talking, talking, talking! I love it when we get to cook, laugh, and talk together and it's some of my favorite times, too! I'll always remember these times (and Luke's messes)!

I love you!


Joy :D

Kim said...

What a great post Tammy! Even though I work full time, I am still enjoying the summer where I only go one place to drop the kids, we pick them up and have no activities. I LOVE IT! We hang out and play more and it is so much better than the Rat Race! When we go back to school, I hope to try to keep it that way!


Linda ★ Parker's Paradise said...

I think Sara read this book, too. While she isn't homeschooling anymore, they have stopped all those extra activities and do things together. They are all anxious for Ruby Joy to be with them. When Bill gets home from work, it is Dad time. He is on the road with his job and when he is home, he rules! They all are so devoted to family. I love my time with all my grands, as well as my kids. I am devoted to Mike and we are blissfully happy that he is retired now and can be with us all day, every day.
Have missed you and your delightful stories.
Love you bunches.
Hugs to the babes.

Blessed Beyond said...

Welcome back to blogging. You have been missed. I had been waiting for this awesome post! And just now getting here, sorry a few days past. I am so glad to hear that your simplified life is working out so great for you and all the family! What a great blessing! And a true inspiration to me for the decisions we made last night to make our family life better! I am beyond excited. I want you to know that you are not only a wonderful Christian, Wife, Mother, Daughter and Friend, but you are a huge inspiration to me in many ways! Hope you have a wonderful summer! Talk to you soon!
Hugs and Love,