Setting Intentions and Atmosphere in Our Home

I sat at the dining room table Sunday afternoon, notebook open in front of me and pen in hand, waiting for some ideas to come. After weeks of growing discontentment with our current routine and the attitudes in our home, especially surrounding chores and school, I was ready for a change. 

But what kind of change? I knew I had to set the tone with more positivity and a fresh atmosphere, so I set down a few ideas for adding positive reinforcement and a little more loveliness into our day. 

One of the problems we have been struggling with is in the area of completing our morning routine without dawdling and complaining. I created a little extra incentive chart for my son to do his morning jobs in a timely manner without my constant nagging. I also decided to back up the time I expect us to “start school” each day to stop us feeling so rushed. When I talked to my son about these changes, he was very excited and ready to try to get his tasks started in the morning.

Since my own attitude is really the only one I can change, I also wrote down some very different priorities for the week in my planner. Instead of usual top 3 tasks for housekeeping and work, I wrote things like “Smile, laugh, and have some fun every day,” “Create something with your hands,” and “Love God and your family well.” I also reminded myself of the importance of getting my personal Bible study and prayer time in before the kids wake each day, so I set my alarm a little earlier for Monday morning.

Finally, I resolved to infuse some fun and beauty into our homeschool routine so that we all have something special to look forward to each day. Over the past few weeks we added “Poetry Tea Time” back into our schedule once a week, and it had become a highlight for me and the kids. In my notebook, I wrote down plans for daily “tea time” at the beginning of the school day: light candles, set out the tea things and snacks, and gather at the table with smiles and anticipation of the good time we are about to have learning together. 

Finished with my brainstorming session, I pushed back the notebook and set down my pen with a satisfied sigh. I knew that none of these changes were big on their own. And I knew that none of them was a magic formula for success. But I also knew that because I was setting my intention to make positive changes and have a joyful attitude myself, things would be better. Because I was going to set the tone and prepare an atmosphere of beauty and goodness, our day would be different. I was hopeful.

And, you know what? Today was the best day we have had in a very, very long time. I hope it is not the last… I don’t think it will be!

Introducing Wellness Wednesday! A New Blog Link-up

Hello! And welcome to our first official week of the Wellness Wednesday blog link-up! I am so excited to be hosting this link party, and I hope you will be encouraged and empowered as we share our wellness journeys here together. 

Why am I starting the “Wellness Wednesday” link-up?

Well, for a host of reasons. One, I am on something of a journey to physical, emotional and spiritual health and healing. Also, I have found some things lately that have been really helpful and inspiring, and I wanted to have a space to share them with others. Finally, I have been mulling over a host of ideas about getting healthy and whole, but I have had a hard time sitting down to write about them. I needed some accountability and motivation. So this link-up was born!

What is “Wellness Wednesday” all about?

I plan to explore a variety of topics related to holistic health and wellness. When we think of wellness, our minds typically jump to physical health and fitness. That is a huge part of our wellbeing, obviously! I think most of us today are aware, however, that our emotional, mental and spiritual health also play huge roles in overall wellness. We are integrated beings. Our bodies, minds, souls and spirits intersect and interact in ways that we don’t even understand. So what we eat affects our moods. What we think affects our energy levels. What we believe affects our response to our environment. 

All that being said, I will be writing on anything in my life that is related to wellness, from food and exercise to emotional issues and spiritual practices. I welcome you to link to your own posts on these topics as well. You don’t have to write and post them on you blog on Wednesdays, but the link-ups will go live on Wednesdays. 

How to participate: 

  1. Write a post on a topic related to wellness, and add your link to the list below.
  2. Grab the Wellness Wednesday logo graphic below and put it in your linked post, also with a blurb mentioning and linking back to that week’s link-up.
  3. Please stop by at least two other participants’ blogs and leave a comment on their Wellness Wednesday posts. This doesn’t take long, and it is really encouraging and helpful for building community and continuing the conversation!
  4. Bonus points if you post about the link-up on your social media. I will feature a post from one or two Wellness Wednesday participants on my Facebook page during the week after the link-up, so please head on over there to follow me and see if your post is featured!

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The Simple Woman’s Daybook for August 6, 2018

This week I thought it would be fun to take a departure from my usual blog format and participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook link-up. This is an opportunity for you all to get a little glimpse into an average day around here at the Lemon house, and for me to record some of the simple, but still special, parts of our life to look back on in the future.


Looking out my window... it is a mostly sunny, hot afternoon here in Middle Tennessee. The grass is getting dry and crunchy underfoot because we have not had rain for a long while. I do hope we get some good soaking soon.
I am thinking...that it is time for another brain dump! I have a lot going on over the next couple of months, and I just added a new virtual assistant job to my plate! My head is in need of some organization, and so is my calendar.

I am thankful...for my family. We have been through some rough seasons over the past few years, and even now I feel like parenting is the most sanctifying thing that a person can experience. But we are blessed to have one another, and my husband and children truly are my favorite people!

One of my favorite case you didn't already know, is this Tetley British Blend tea! I drink a cuppa with cream or half and half every morning, and most afternoons. Cheers!

I am creating...hmmm, I haven't been doing much hand-crafting lately. All my creative juices have been poured into creating graphics for the blog or the podcasts I manage.
I am wearing...mismatched workout shorts and a t-shirt. I haven't exercised yet today, but I am going to before the day is over! (And this is where I just about run out of pictures for this post....)
I am reading...The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I just started it last night, though, so don't ask me anything about it just yet. It's on my Back to the Classics list. The last Wharton I read tore me up, in the best way, and I suspect this one will, too.
I am listening to...old rebroadcasts of Elizabeth Elliot's radio program, Gateway to Joy. I just found out about it through post in one of my facebook groups, and I knew I needed to listen to the wisdom of this great woman of the faith!
I am husband will be able to pick up our new school bus in the next couple of weeks! We are converting it into an RV. (This will be our second time doing this...our first bus bit the dust last fall, so we are replacing it!)
I am to meditate on the Scriptures through Kari Denker's free resource, Meditation119. We started with the first 8 verses in Psalm 119 in July, and now many of us are moving on to the next section in August.
In my kitchen...this week we are going to eat out of the freezer, fridge and pantry. Last week my grocery bill was twice what it normally would be, so I have challenged myself to make meals and snacks this week with what we already have on hand.
In the school we changed things up a bit by doing Morning Recitations (our memory work) right after breakfast, before starting our morning chores. My son also did one of his readings on his own and narrated to me while I did dishes. This dramatically shortened our lesson time later on, and I think we will continue this routine!


Board room...I haven't spent much time on Pinterest lately, but it is a really fun place to find and collect ideas for our new Bus Conversion! We are thinking about doing a split galley kitchen somewhat along the lines of this one. You can find my "The Bus Life" board here.
Post Script...don't forget to check back here on Wednesday for my brand-spanking-new link-up, "Wellness Wednesday!" I would love to have you join me in writing and sharing our wellness journeys!
Shared Quote...a quote I have been thinking about today is from Alfred Lord Tennyson:
It is better to have tried and failed than to live life wondering what would have happened if I had tried.
A moment from my day...I can't stop admiring my newly organized bookcase in the family room. It was a lot of work, but now I have this lovely and functional space that makes my heart happy!

Closing Notes...Thanks for reading and taking a peek into the ordinary-extraordinary that is my life right now! You can find the original Simple Woman's Daybook post for today here.


Five Minute Fridays: Anniversary

wedding anniversary

My goodness! It’s been far too long since I did a post for FMF! But today’s prompt seems pretty appropriate for jumping back on the wagon!

My 14th wedding anniversary is coming up in just a few days. Funny thing is, my husband and I both just remembered a few days ago and have absolutely no plans to celebrate! Our actual anniversary the middle of the week. And because this is one of his busiest times of the year for work, it isn’t possible to get away on the weekends, either. We also have a lot of other things coming up in the next month that will require the use of childcare, so going out is not a great option right now anyway.

Maybe we will do something at home. I have often toyed with the idea of an at-home date night with a special dinner and dessert after sending the kids to be a little early. But this situation is actually pretty par for the course for us. I don’t know if it is because we just aren’t into celebrating much or because we are too focused on the day to day. We do plan for things in life, just not anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc.

Even when we were dating and then as newlyweds, one of us was always either working or sick on Valentine’s Day. I guess we started off on the wrong foot for doing anything romantic on the “right” day! The good thing is that our marriage is still strong and growing, even without always observing these cultural norms. We don’t have to wait for a special day on the calendar to show each other love. That happens every day!

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here.

Catching Up with Life: July 2018 Update

Well, hello there, friends! And happy July to you all! Since it has been a while since I posted, I think it is high time for a little update here. In case you didn’t notice, I took a break from the blog for the entire month of June. I didn’t originally intend to take a month off from writing, but once June was underway, I quickly realized that I needed some time away from blogging. So what have I been doing all this time? Let’s see…

School Planning…

The last week in May was also the last week of our spring term of homeschooling. Since we school year-round, I like to make time for break of about 6 weeks in the summer and 6 more weeks for Thanksgiving through Christmas. During this summer break I have been tweaking our school schedule and planning our July memory work, etc. This is our last week of summer break, and I still have a few details to get nailed down, but most of the big tasks are complete. I plan to write another post tomorrow with all the July memory work information for those of you who might be interested!

Swimming Lessons…

Both my kids have a bit of an aversion to the water, so one of my big priorities this summer is getting them both more acclimated to it. I put them both in a great swim class at our local YMCA, and even though it cost a small fortune, I am glad we did it. They both have improved tremendously and worked through some of their fears. It was exhausting for this homebody momma to truck the kids to swimming 4 days in a row for 2 weeks, though! I think next time we  will try doing 1-2 day a week lessons instead, but this time it just worked better for our schedule.


We live pretty far from family, the closest being my husband’s parents about 6 hours from us. As a result, summer vacation almost always means traveling to see relatives. At the beginning of June we made the long drive from Middle Tennessee to the Black Hills of South Dakota to visit my parents, my brother and his wife, and my grandmother. It was a long trip, but the kids were good travelers overall, and we had a good time with my family.

This past weekend we hopped back in the car again for a shorter trip to northern Ohio. There we attended a family reunion for some of my husband’s side of the family. We got to see his parents, grandparents and siblings, along with a whole passel of more distant relatives we hadn’t seen in many years. We also had a chance to meet up with my husband’s college roommate, Pete, and his family, which was a rare treat.


Um, as much as I would love to say that June was a chance to rest between school terms, it really has not been at all restful. We have gotten important work done and made connections with people we love, though. July promises less travel and a chance to get back into a normal routine with the commencement of our summer homeschool term. Even though we haven’t gotten much resting done, sometimes “a change is as good as a rest.”

Just Living Life…

Of course, in the midst of all the extras, we are still playing outside, enjoying nature with friends, reading lots of good books, listening to podcasts and music, taking long walks and cooking meals together. We also had a HUGE answer to our prayers when we finally sold our house in Illinois. After having it on the market for nearly 13 months, this has been an immense weight lifted from our shoulders. We are now debt-free, and we have more financial freedom that we have had for at least 2 years. God is so GOOD!

Now I want to hear back from you! What have you been up to this summer, friend? I would love for you to tell me in the comments below or link to a blog post about your own summer activities this year. I promise to be much more present here at Tuning Hearts this month, and I hope to see you around, too!