Three Simple Foods for Better Health

The benefits of eating traditional, healthy foods are overwhelming, but making the transition from our modern Western diet can be daunting.

For some in America, ketchup serves as their daily vegetable. Others eat fairly healthily, but want to do even better.

Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed. Don’t try to change overnight. Take baby steps towards better health.

As I’ve read about the amazing ways nourishing food helps protect our bodies, the benefits of three simple (and cheap) foods keep emerging. Incorporate them as you journey toward a more natural diet.

Garlic and onionsphoto credit

Follow me over to Jill’s Home Remedies to read the rest.¬†(She’s got a wealth of information on her blog. Be sure to explore. ūüôā

5 Ways to Manage Kid Clothes in a Small Shared Room

On Monday I shared 10 ways we maintain [some] order in our children’s toys (check the comments for wonderful ideas)! Toys are not the only challenge when you have multiple children sharing a small room though.

Today we’re going to talk about clothes.

My goal is to start each day with my child dressed in clean (cute) clothes. [Start being a key word here!] Thankfully, for those of us with limited room, that doesn’t mean they need buckets and buckets of clothes.

Folded clothes

How to keep your child in clean clothes with limited dresser/closet space

Our home is small (according to modern standards at least)! Each child has one drawer of the dresser for clothes. We have two small clothes closets in our home. Their closet holds their church clothes plus my clothes, the vacuum cleaner and storage stuff.

Needless to say, that makes simplicity a necessity. You know what though? They have never come even close to running out of clean clothes to wear.

  1. Get rid of clothes they don’t wear.¬†If it doesn’t fit right or your child just begs to *not* wear it, why not donate it to someone who would use it?
  2. Stick to a minimalist wardrobe.¬†Determine how many clothes your child needs to last between wash days (with a couple extra for cushion). If you’re interested, here is a peak into my children’s simple wardrobe from a couple years ago. We’ve added boots to their shoe collection, but that is fairly close to what they have.
  3. Use a hanging shoe rack to store shoes behind the door. My kids can only reach the bottom few holders, so we store extra blankets or animals in the upper containers. (Don’t worry! Those upper containers have never hosted shoes!)¬†The shoe holder makes it easy for them to put their own shoes away.
  4. Go for neutral on the bulky outerwear. Mud boots, heavy jackets, scarves, etc. Choosing neutral colors when possible cuts down on storage!
  5. Keep on top of laundry. I find that as long as I keep on top of laundry, I enjoy it. Get behind and it feels overwhelming. I try to wash, dry and put away at least one load of laundry each weekday. You can get by with very few outfits if you’re washing them often: Last winter during law school days, Will (then 18 months) had three pair of pants. Total. I knew my family had more saved for us that we would get at Christmas so decided to see if a messy toddler could manage with just three pairs. Pretty much every single load of laundry contained a pair of his pants, but it worked…. though I was so glad when Christmas came and we got more!
What about you? How do you manage all the clothes necessary for multiple little ones? 

How to Maintain [Some] Order in a Shared Kids’ Room

Like many of you, my children share a room. Sharing a room teaches valuable lessons about simplicity, getting along and life. However, trying to fit all the toys and clothes for multiple children in a small room and leave room for playing is a challenge.

Rearranging the furniture for optimal floor space helps, but pursuing simplicity in the toy and clothes collection is essential.

Ten ways to simplify the toys:

Christmas & birthdays. Thrift store finds. Generous friends.

Before you know it, your child’s room can be overflowing with toys. Toys are meant to be played with. To loosely paraphrase Solomon, “where no children are, the toys are picked up, but happily playing children are a great blessing.” (Prov. 14:4)

Boy building blocks

 photo credit

However,¬†more toys do not necessarily equal more happiness.¬†A few sticks and pebbles are all some children in the world have. I’m not sure American kids are any happier with their buckets and buckets of toys.

Here are a ten ways that I try to balance fun and simplicity. ¬†(You can¬†see pictures of my children’s room here, though I’ve rearranged it since then.)

  1. Distinguish between durable and disposable toys.¬†Some of my children’s toys I hope my grandchildren will play with, like Duplos. Some toys however (say the Easter eggs from the neighbor) I consider disposable and only keep for a few weeks. After the fun has worn off they are donated or tossed.
  2. Choose neutral toys, when possible. Dolls and trucks are practically¬†indispensable¬†parts of a toy collection, but you don’t need a pink and blue version of everything!
  3. Say “No!” Just because you’re offered free hand-me-downs or find a toy for a quarter at a yard sale, doesn’t mean your child needs it. Sometimes, you just need to say “no!” (Or let your children play with them for a few weeks and then pass them on.)
  4. Rotate the toys so that there are less toys out and they get “new” toys regularly.
  5. Set mess perimeters. I mentioned this in my post on clutter, but having a few guidelines for where and when toys can be played with makes such a difference! We have set clean-up times several times daily as well as a “no toys in the living room after dinner” rule. Play with one toy “set” at a time, then put it away (we’re working on this one!)
  6. Keep birthdays & Christmas gifts simple: Laura Ingalls was happy with a tin cup and a penny. You can show your love without going overboard. Choose quality over quantity.
  7. Gifts are a way many grandparents, other family members or friends show their love. However, sometimes the influx of gifts can get overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with multiple children in a small room. This is a sensitive issue and may not be wise or kind in all situations, but ¬†if possible,¬†respectfully address overly generous gift-givers.¬†My children have been blessed with grandparents that are so thoughtful of my children and me¬†with their gifts. But, if you are getting overwhelmed by gifts, try to find a kind way to encourage gifts that will bless your child and you. A frazzled mom is not a good gift! A few possible ideas: offer hints for toys your child would treasure, let them know that what your child has plenty of toys and would most like would be to spend time with them (a trip to the zoo, museum, etc.) or set up an Amazon wish list for your child. (Remember though, never wound someone who loves your child over gifts!)
  8. Embrace the simple things. Boxes for boats, blankets for forts, chairs for houses. Children are so creative and content!¬†Often, it’s the parent not the child who thinks they need more.
  9. Donate, sell or toss unused toys.¬†Clearing out the toys that aren’t loved makes room to really enjoy the treasured toys. If you find toys consistently taken out and forsaken (for you to step on ;)) it’s time for them to go!
  10. Get outside. Let them play with the sticks and pebbles… and maybe even take a dip in the mud.

This post is getting dreadfully long. We’ll have to tackle the kids’ clothes Wednesday…

(Thank you Jenn, from the lovely blog The Purposeful Mom for inspiring this post with your comment! )

What about you? How do you handle all the toys? I would *love* your ideas (especially since we plan to add little Meg to the kids’ room soon)!¬†

Linking up at Handful of Heart and Better Mom Monday 

Practical Tips for Showing Hospitality (in a Small Home)

As I talked about yesterday, hospitality is a command, whether you live in a small home or not. ¬†Opening up our homes is a way to show “generosity and kindness” (as Webster puts it) to friend or stranger.

When we first moved into our little home, I never dreamed I’d one day feed eleven guests (plus our five) for lunch. Or think it was fun.

As I’ve tried to practice hospitality in our little home, here are some things I’ve learned along the way.Things that work for me:

Don’t be afraid to invite guests over:¬†This may seem silly, but when we first moved into our little home, I was afraid to have company over. Pride played into it, but I also thought¬†who would want to leave their homes and come hang out at my little place? ¬†Maybe you have thought the same thing. But most people still want to come. Even large families! After all, they’re coming to see you, not your home! Some might even find the small home cozy and nostalgic.

Clear out the clutter: If you want to fill your home with people, there won’t be as much room for stuff. Clear out the clutter and make sure the things you have make your home a better place to be. Plus, the less you have, the less there is to make messes with!

Get creative: If seating is an issue, turn buckets or boxes into makeshift stools and pull them up to the table for kids. Turn your living room into the dining area. Eat outside. Make it an indoor picnic.

Some activities just don’t work in a small home, but many do: Seated group games don’t take much space. A long walk is fun if it starts to get cramped. Sometimes we turn our room into a personal theater for the kiddos so the adults can talk quietly.

Keep the menu manageable: Remember Mary and Martha? Don’t focus so much on food that you don’t have time to enjoy your company.

Make a plan:¬†Pick a few tried and true meals and desserts that you can rotate for company. Write out a menu. Try not to experiment on guests. [Don’t ask me how I know!]

Be prepared:[Try to] keep the home somewhat orderly.¬†Keep easy to heat up food in the freezer for unexpected or last minute company. Some cookie dough freezes wonderfully (like the dough for these Almond Crunch Cookies.) Freeze the dough in wax paper and when a friend drops by, slice and bake. Soon you’ll have hot homemade cookies to serve.

Expect imperfection:¬†Hospitality is not about putting on a perfect front. Be real. Sometimes the meal won’t turn out exactly how you wanted. Sometimes the dishes will be stacked high in the sink or your toddler will “decorate” the living room right before guests arrive. It’s okay.

Embrace the adventure:¬†Warn your guests ahead of time that your home is small. My guests won’t get a guest room. They may not even get a chair. Enjoy squeezing a few more people into your home. Laugh. Make memories. It takes very little space to have a good time.

Prepare your self:¬†The last few minutes before guests, arrive I’m usually flying around the house trying to get the last few things warmed up or put away. But, whenever I take time (even a minute or two) to pray, glance in the mirror and prepare myself, I am much better prepared to show real hospitality to others.

Most importantly, love your guests. Show them how glad you are to have them in your home. To loosely paraphrase Solomon, a simple meal served with love is better than a fancy feast and hatred (Prov. 15:17) Remember why you invited them over in the first place: you love them and want to get to fellowship together.

What about you? How do you show hospitality? Any suggestions for entertaining in a small house?

photo by agamamedia

Showing Hospitality in a Small Home

According to Western standards, we live in a small home. Often, when first-time guests walk into our home, they glance around with a look of you do realize you have three children, right?

Yes, we are aware of that fact. We know it’s crowded. Although it’s a tight squeeze, we rather like our little house and think staying here is best for our family at the moment.¬†

Whether by choice or necessity, many of us live in small[ish] homes.

Hospitality is still a Scriptural command. No matter how small your home is, you can still show hospitality.

Maybe you can’t lay a spread like Martha Stewart. Maybe your guests, like mine, will be eating on the couch with barely enough room on the coffee table for plates, much less a centerpiece.

Maybe, despite constant scrubbing, your cracked old linoleum never looks quite clean.

Maybe you can’t prepare a gourmet dinner with less than two feet of counter space.

It’s okay.

There are many challenges we women face in being hospitable. Worry and pride are special challenges when working from a small home.

But hospitality is not about impressing guests with incredible decorating or cooking skills or a large beautiful home. Hospitality is about sharing and fellowship and friendship and love.

Webster defined hospitality as “The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality.”¬†Kindness and¬†generosity¬†can be shown in the tiniest of places.

Those with large homes can more easily host a large Christmas crowd, but if your house is as small as (or smaller than) mine, there are still ways you can bless others by opening up your home.

You can still invite a friend over for lunch to fellowship over a hot bowl of soup, provide a college student with a home-cooked meal or turn your living room into a somewhat comfortable campground for friends passing through.

You can still bless a friend. A very hospitable friend (and amazing cook) said she sees it as part of her ministry to give other busy moms a break by cooking dinner for them. As a recipient of her hospitality, I know just what a blessing enjoying someone else’s [simply amazing] cooking can be.

Opening your home to friends and strangers is a command and a privilege.

Come back tomorrow as I share practical ideas (and a few things not to do!) when showing hospitality, especially if you live in a small home.

Linked up at Teach Me Tuesday and Domestically Divine

photo by agamamedia