My state “collection” and our recent vacation

Ok, I got sucked into this like everyone else lately, LOL…
Here is my map of states I’ve been to:

mystates2

I feel really lucky to have been so many places in the U.S. (and some other places abroad too)! Now I just have to “collect” all those other states! ūüėČ

Since I’m on the subject of visiting states, here are some pics of a¬†recent excursion to Montana, Wyoming and Idaho! Recently, my husband and I had our first kid-less vacation in, uhm….11 years or so. It was absolutely amazing! No kids asking for potty breaks!¬†No “Let’s stop at this museum to earn Jr. Ranger badges for homeschooling purposes”.¬†No whining in the car because someone’s leg went 3 millimeters over into the other kid’s territory.¬†No 55 stops at McDonalds. No bored faces while mom & dad take 20 years to take just the right picture of the scenery. No little legs that are too tired to go on or it’s past someone’s bedtime. Did I say it was amazing yet? We’ve loved our multitude of trips with the kids, but now with one last teen in the nest we are speeding toward adult only territory and it’s, well, fun. Is that evil for a mom to admit that? Do I lose my ultra-homeschooling-super-involved-mom of the year badge? LOL…maybe not yet, but at least I was able to recharge my batteries with stuff like this:

Buffalo in the parking lot in Yellowstone National Park:

buffalo

My husband taking pictures of steam in the distance (Yellowstone):

yellowstone

A beautiful blue hot spring in Yellowstone:

yellowstone2

The Teton Mountains in Wyoming:

tetons

A steaming, hot waterfall in Yellowstone:

Steaming, hot waterfall in Yellowstone

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

Turkeys walking in a downtown Coeur d’alene neighborhood (Idaho):

Turkeys walking in a downtown Coeur d'alene neighborhood (Idaho)

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

Look at this beautiful sunset (totally unaltered and straight out of the camera) we saw from my mom’s kitchen window in Idaho:

sunset

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

A flower on the hiking trail at Round Lake in Idaho:

flower

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

The forest at Round Lake in Idaho:

forest

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

Jackson Hole, Wyoming:

antlers

White wolf at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana:

wolf

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

A grizzly at the center:

grizzly

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

An elk by the side of the road:

elk

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

Mama and baby buffalo:

buffalo

It even snowed on us!

snow

Pic by my husband: Charles Guest of MemorablePlaces.com

We loved our trip. When the kids were little, I just couldn’t imagine life without children¬†running around.¬†I love being a mother, but sometimes I think there have been times¬†I’ve been so immersed in homeschooling that I’ve forgotten I’m first and foremost a wife. ūüôā If you can’t go out and collect a state with your hubby, at least go out and collect a restaurant, lol.

Click here to make your own map of the states you’ve been to!

Being a Keeper of the Home

Keeper of the home

When I was younger, I did not¬†enjoy “domestic” type jobs around the house. I thought they were boring and had to force myself (for the most part) to do them. I had a rebellious attitude and heart toward many of the¬†old-fashioned¬†stereotypes of women.¬†¬†Why should I be the one stuck with the laundry when I had been changing diapers all day and chasing toddlers? Why should I bother to mend pants when I can just go out and buy another pair? So what if the living room wasn’t tidy…I’d been homeschooling the kids all day. Was I a maid too? While I loved taking care of my children, I did not love taking care of my home.

Now that I’m older, I’ve grown into an entirely different mindset. I LIKE taking care of my home. I love learning all of the skills I neglected or trudged through during my younger years. I’ve found that the closer I’ve grown to God, the more I’ve grown to enjoy the role He created for me as a woman and all of the “jobs” that entails. When I was younger, I was often disorganized and messy. Now my home is a place of peace and order (usually, lol). God is not¬†a God of chaos. Everything in the universe has its place and purpose. Our homes need to reflect the God we serve.

I find¬†when I¬†do¬†things His way that I’m filled with a contentment and direction that was entirely unknown to me¬†years ago. I wish I had known then what I know now. Doing things God’s way is not always easier, but it’s always the best way. It’s also the only way to put yourself in a position to receive the full measure of the blessings he wants to pour over you and your family. I can’t tell you how many things, even little things that are just wants and not needs, that God has taken care of and given us. The more I pursue His way, the more I see Him working in our lives.

There are no excuses why a healthy wife and mother can’t take care of her home. Don’t tell me it’s because you’ve been teaching the kids all day (been there, done that) or that you are tired (I am too!), or that you don’t know how to do something (learn!) or the kids keep wrecking it all behind you (train them not to). If you are struggling with keeping your home, you CAN train yourself (and your kids) to do what needs to be done.

The first step is nurturing the right heart & attitude concerning your daily tasks and the things you still need to learn. I list this as the FIRST step because if you don’t have the right heart about something, you will never improve in¬†the long-term. If you feel disaffected¬†having to pick up socks off the floor your husband threw down¬†for the 256th time, you aren’t going to make any progress. Why let it bother you? What’s faster and more conducive to happiness and contentment? Picking them up or making a big deal out of it in your mind and letting it fester in your soul all day?¬†You have to look at being a wife and mom as your job. What sort of review would a boss write¬†about¬†your “work performance”¬†lately? ūüėČ It’s a gift to get to stay home. It may not be super popular for me to say this, but I believe being a¬†stay-at-home wife and mom is¬†not only a gift, but also part of God’s design for the family.¬†Start working on a grateful & cheerful attitude.

The second step is starting with something – no matter how small! Just keep going from one small step to another. Work on building new habits and learning new things. When I was just starting this journey, one of the things I had to learn was not to step over something on the floor, but to pick it up and put it away, right then and there. It was a small thing, but it made a big difference. Now I can’t stand to have anything on my floor, lol. It drives me nuts whereas before I could ignore it all day.

The third step is to get rid of things and start finding a place for everything. If everything has a place, it’s much easier to keep things clean.¬†There are lots of blogs and websites that have terrific ideas on how to organize everything from closets to under your kitchen sink. Pick one thing to start with and go from there.

The fourth step is to LEARN! What is it that you can learn to be a better wife, mother, house-keeper, etc.? Here are some things I’ve learned or am learning to save money or contribute to a better lifestyle, make my husband happy and other similar reasons that all have to do with being a keeper at home:

  • Gardening
  • Cleaning and organizing – I’m often on the lookout for new and better ways of doing things and work to keep my home environment attractive and peaceful.
  • Sewing – I’m JUST starting to learn how to sew so I can mend my husband’s pants, make gifts and create things for our home.
  • Canning & food preservation
  • Cooking from scratch – I’ve never been a great cook, but am hoping to change that. I’ve started learning new recipes and am trying new things like making yeast rolls instead of buying them, etc.
  • Couponing – I’ve saved as much as 35% on some of our shopping trips.

What do YOU need or want to learn? ūüôā

The fifth step is to never quit and just keep going. If you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Just do better the next day. After a while things will fall into place.

It’s never too late to become a GREAT (and happy / contented) keeper of your home!

1 Timothy 5:14 –¬†I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

Titus 2:5 –¬†To be¬†discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.