Note: Over the next week, I’m going to take you with me on a meander through my day. No two days look alike around here, but this will give you a glimpse on my daily rituals of cherishing life. I do this very imperfectly. I would love to hear about your own rituals in the comments. And don’t forget to check out my favorite resources on the bottom of these posts.
I’m talking about our house at this point of our day because this is when we do our basic cleaning chores. I try to include all the children, but that is a work in progress. Sometimes I just like it done quickly, my way. 🙂
The real estate listing for our house said it was built in the 1920s and is somewhere between 1100 and 1200 square feet. That included the two bedrooms and four other rooms but not the unfinished basement.
We signed the mortgage on this place 16 years ago. It was our starter home. My husband carried me over the threshold, and we went to work with the help of a few loyal family members and friends. The place had been owned by an older man who wasn’t able to take care of it or update it. His only housemate was what I assume to be a large dog. I never saw it, but I’m guessing from the amount and size of the dog hair we cleaned from every surface.
We never thought we would still be here with four children. We actually never pictured four children. God is good in His blessings to us. And we still love our home, even though people exclaim, “You’re still there?!” or “How do you all fit?”
The answer to the last question is that we fit quite nicely. We never think of how small it is unless we have to host a large gathering. Of course, it’s smallness is only by American standards. Americans may think we set the standard for the world, but we are actually only 3% of its population. Our home is huge by many standards around the world.
Let me show you around:
The Living Room
Our front door opens directly into what we call our living room. We just replaced it, but to be real, it still needs painted. We also need to replace the drywall around it. A student was leaving my house and told me it looks like an elephant walked through our wall. 🙂
While a lot of living rooms don’t get used very much, ours is very aptly named. The couch was gifted to us by my in-laws. The rest of the furniture was purchased from a discount furniture store when we remodeled it the first time while I was pregnant with our first baby. We spend a lot of time sitting here reading, working and playing on our laptops and devices, talking and just being a family.
Of course, my favorite part of the living room is the piano. I teach my students there, my kids practice there and it has been my lifeline during times of stress and when I just want to play for fun. We bought it new from Steinway Hall, but it is not a Steinway. Maybe someday. 🙂
The Dining Room
The table and chairs in our dining room was given to us by my grandmother as a wedding present. It is quite scarred now, because we do much more than eat on it. It is our school table, the scene for many toy car and Lego sessions and the place we’ve done play dough and crafts over the years.
My grandmother’s small china cabinet is also in this room. It houses my Old Country Roses tea cups as well as few others I’ve collected.
The rest of the room is utilitarian with bookshelves and school supplies. Since we have no mudroom, we also have hooks for coats and a shoe rack in this room.
The other two rooms have been updated twice in the 16 years we’ve been in this house. This room has only been updated once except for the floor. It is one of the next ones on our list since we had a leak that affected a large portion of the ceiling. All of the appliances came with the house. The only one we have had to replace so far is the portable dishwasher with a built in model. There is a small nook off the kitchen which we use for extra counter space and for our home office area.
Stairs from the kitchen lead to our basement. While the basement is still unfinished, we have put up some paneling and carpeting in one area for a play room/work area. The other area is the laundry room/partial family closet and my husband’s office. Again, the original washer and dryer are still the ones I use every day, multiple times. They knew how to make appliances 20 years ago!
Let’s go back to the living room. There are stairs leading to the second level. At the top of the stairs is the bathroom and to the right are the two bedrooms and a small hallway with a linen closet.
When the realtor showed us our home, he said this right before he took us into the bathroom: “I have good news and bad news. They just replaced the tub and other fixtures recently.” We saw the bad news when we walked in. The tub, sink and paneling are that 1970s avocado green and the wallpaper is an equally outdated and ugly color. I say that in the present tense because this is the one room we haven’t updated. We plan to very soon. However, we have had multiple leaking issues, so we wanted to wait until we had enough time and money to do it right.
When we first got married, we had a large master bedroom and a spare room. By the time we had our third child, we moved to the “spare” room, and remodeled the other room for our growing offspring. Thankfully, the bedrooms are the same size as our downstairs rooms, so they are large compared to most.
Our four children share their room. We were going to divide it a year or so ago so my daughter could have her own room. She said she would miss talking to everyone at night and feel lonely. We compensate by having them mostly just sleep here. There are two sets of bunk beds and a toddler bed for our youngest. We will have to upgrade that soon since he just turned 5!
Our daughter’s bunk bed is actually a loft, so she has her “room” underneath her bed, college dorm style. It houses her desk, a small cabinet for her things and a few shelves and bins. She keeps her laundry basket under the ladder leading to her bed, so it is compact but she has everything she needs in her own area.
We use under bed storage for the boy’s toys that aren’t in the playroom. They usually take them somewhere else so our daughter can have the room to herself during free time.
Our room is smaller, but houses my husband’s closet, a chest of drawer and my desk. I work here and relax here when I want to be alone. The kids also use my computer in this room for their schoolwork.
Even though our home doesn’t have much space, we use every part of the space we have. Cherishing our home means to be content with what we have. There are definitely things I would change if time and money were not issues. We plan to move someday, just not now. Our little house of dreams still needs some work, but we have made a lot of progress in 16 years. And we would rather be home than anywhere. Just ask the kids.
The best part? We’re together a lot, and it doesn’t take long to clean.
Resources for the Cherishing the Home:
Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman – An excellent manual for any Christian woman with children who wants to care for her home in an organized way and enlist her children to help. Great tips for juggling homeschooling and home life as well.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – I do not agree with the spiritual tone of this book, and find some of her ideas in that vein very strange. However, her method for cleaning and decluttering is great, and I am using some of her techniques.
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald – A wonderful resource to help us learn to cherish our homes and our roles as wives and mothers. Very conservative in spots, but well worth the attitude adjustment.
At Home With Madame Chic: Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life by Jennifer L. Scott – A beautiful look at enjoying our homes. I especially love her suggestions for the type of music to play and candles to burn at different times of the day.
FlyLady – A good resource for helping you get your home in order and establish routines.