Category Archives: General

Postponement of 365 Real Foods Series :(


It has come to the point where I have decided to postpone my 365 Real Foods Series until my children and I are healthy. My 4 month old and I are on day six of a bad cold and it is difficult enough to do normal day-to-day functions, let alone blog. I feel as if it will take another week or so until we are back up and running normally, possibly even two.


I have some great things to share once I am able to get back into the groove of blogging. My friend Courtney provided me with some great recipes and I can’t wait to share them! I also have some stashed away as well as a bunch of things I would like to try.

Thank you to those who continue to read and enjoy The Joyful Homemaker. I love everything mothering, homemaking, and homeschooling, and it means a lot that I have supportive friends and loyal blog readers. <3

Be blessed (and stay healthy),

The Joyful Homemaker



Our Creative Learning Space

When we looked at our house in July, we knew immediately it was the perfect house for us, with the perfect amount of living space. We also knew exactly where our creative learning space would be. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this space.

Upon moving in this area became known as the play area. It housed kiddos, toys, and unfolded laundry (our laundry room is right there, too). It wasn’t much of a creative learning space, but more of a overstimulating mess.

Within a few weeks of moving in, Jack stopped picking up his toys completely. When asked to pick up, he would sit on the ground and cry. It became clear he was simply overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff we had accumulated. I moved all of his toys to the garage and something miraculous happened; zero tantrums and to this day, he is content with very little. We also established our, “one thing at a time” rule

Two days ago I finally tackled the toys in the garage. I organized everything we wanted to keep and set up donation boxes for the rest. I removed our train table from the play area and quickly put together a functional, peaceful environment for Jack, Wesley, and their friends to play and learn.

Take a look at our finished creative learning space. 🙂

Before … 



After …





We want our creative learning space to offer a lot of stimulating books, a few creative toys, some of Wesley’s toys, and space to play.






We added in some inspirational art work as well. 🙂




All of our toys are now organized and have a home in our wicker wardrobe.

  • Mega Blocks
  • Lego Duplo blocks
  • Thomas case
  • Leap Letter Learning Case
  • Animal, bug, and dinosaurs figurines
  • Play-mobile ark and zoo set
  • Lincoln Log sets
  • Play food and tools
  • Matchbox cars
  • Musical instrument bin


Jack’s Trackmaster train tracks are in the top drawer.


Dress up clothes are in the bottom drawer.


All of our arts, crafts, games, and educational materials are housed in the laundry room. Jack also has a bin of wooden train tracks and trains that stay out because he plays trains every day.

Jack has zero toys in his room other than his stuffed animals, books, and his camera. When looking at houses, we knew we wanted a place with a designated play/learning area. I am thrilled Jack has no toys in his bedroom. His tablet stays in the kitchen on top of the fridge. He uses the tablet when it is provided to him.







I hope you enjoyed the tour of our creative learning space and Jack’s room. Do you have a designated play or learning space? Do you have a specific organizational system that works for you? <3

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

A Celebratory Meal; The Return Of Downton Abbey

downton dinner

My friend Alicia and I LOVE Downton Abbey, I mean really, who doesn’t? It’s pretty much the top rated show on television these days. People can’t get enough of the high drama, high society, and of course, all of those delicious British accents. Along with delicious accents comes delicious food, and who doesn’t want to make a Downton inspired meal?

Well, my dear friend Alicia of Peace, Love, Laundry, and Food ( did just that.

Check out her amazing Season Premiere inspired dinner. I do believe she just gave Mrs. Patmore a serious run for her money … 🙂


The Joyful Homemaker

2013 In Pictures

2013 was a wonderful year for our family. We announced we were expecting in February, I started my blog in June, we put in an offer on a short sale in July, we welcomed Wesley Douglas on October 12th, and we closed and moved the week of Halloween. It was a HUGE year for us. We are so, so blessed and I am so thankful to the Lord for blessing us abundantly. He guides us each day, and through him, all things are possible.

Here’s a glimpse at some of our biggest moments of 2013:

only child expiring


1 ultra

easter 2013

april 13

20 weeks!

boothbay May 2013 2

june bump

beach days

july bump

jack turns 3

jack final


aug 32 wks

lake winnijpg

33 weeks

baby shower sept

38 weeks

jack slide 1

40 weeks!


1st days home 1

the move2

halloween 2013 1

wes 4 weeks nov

cookies 1

wes 10 weeks dec 2

boys xmas

2013 was truly beautiful. <3

Stayed tuned for my 2014 Goals post. There is so much I want to accomplish this year at home and on The Joyful Homemaker. I know this year is going to be amazing. <3

Happy 2014,

The Joyful Homemaker

A Joyous Return


It has been almost two months since my last blog post. I am happy to announce, The Joyful Homemaker is back!

Roughly fifteen hours after my last blog post, we welcomed “Baby Morgan” into the world. At 11:13 pm on October 12th, Wesley Douglas arrived after a hard and fast-moving labor. The last two months have flown by and it is hard to believe Wesley is already two months old. He is pure joy and I am enjoying every moment loving on my precious boy.


In addition to welcoming Wesley, we closed on our home on October 29th and the move took place on October 30th and 31st. We trick-or-treated in our new neighborhood and met new people. We are moved in, fully unpacked, and enjoying the Christmas season in our new home.

xmas tree



wesley's room



After two months, things have calmed a bit, and it is time to return to the blog-o-shere. I have missed my little piece of cyberspace and I am looking forward to blogging once again.



jack playing



Stay tuned for posts on homemaking, homeschooling, frugality, and all things related to mothering.

I have added many pictures of the last two months. As you can see, I am truly blessed. <3

Much love,

The Joyful Homemaker

The Lesson

be still

Alas, I have hit the 40 week mark in my pregnancy and I am still pregnant with Baby Morgan. Baby Morgan is fully content to continue his/her residency within the womb and while I am happy with this, I am also very uncomfortable and ready to begin real labor.

For those that don’t know, I have been in simulated or false labor since 32 weeks. I have had full days of contractions and labor symptoms only to have them vanish and come back days later. The most frustrating part is the lack of understanding many people have. They think, oh,  false labor. No big deal. Right? Wrong. False labor is much like real labor, minus the effacement and cervical dilation. Thankfully, without the effacement and dilation, one cannot be in pre-term labor. This scare became real for us just after 32 weeks while on vacation in New Hampshire and while we soon learned we were not in danger of pre-term labor, the false labor continues to this day. I have asked the Lord more times than not, “Why does this have to be hard?” He always says to me, “It doesn’t have to be.”

Another frustrating part is the “advice” others have. The say, “Oh, stress is bringing this on, go relax somewhere.” They say, “Be patient. The baby will come when the baby wants to.” They tell me, “Stop worrying so much, you’re such a worrier.” “Don’t think about the fact that you are moving to a new house. Focus on the baby but don’t focus too much because the stress will cause contractions.” Truthfully, hearing these “bits of advice,” while coming from well-meaning people, only adds to my stress levels. I have often bowed my head and asked God, “Why do people blame me? Why do they want to make this hard for me?” He always says to me, “They love you.”

False labor has caused us to head to the hospital more times than once to check the baby, to check on unknown bleeding, to check on possible amniotic leakage, and just 36 hours ago, we were at the hospital in what I remember as, full-blown labor only to find out my uterus was in full-blown panic mode and not actually doing much. I have asked the Lord, many times, “Why is this happening?” He always says to me, “Trust me.”

Running to the hospital in the middle of the night, uprooting our three-year old from his bed, and the simple exhaustion of it all has been tough. Coming home to a house full of boxes, working on the logistics of moving, trying to keep up care with the house, bills, and family, has been tough. Much of the past eight weeks has been quite tough. There are times I bow my head and ask God, “Why does this have to be so hard?” He gently says to me, “Megan, there is someone fighting a far harder battle.” It is true. Someone is fighting a far harder battle and while it is important not to diminish our own feelings based on what others are going through, it is far more important to pray and send love to those fighting that hard battle than it is to wallow in our own battle. It is important to put all of our worries and stress and frustration at the Lord’s feet so we have the strength to pray and love and hope for those fighting their hard battle.

When I step back and look at the whole picture, I realize just how  blessed I am. While everything might look like a hodgepodge of life thrown into one box, shaken up a bunch of times, and scattered at my feet, I know I have it easy. I am blessed with a beautiful family, family and friends who care for and love us, a brand new baby in my womb and heart, and the gift of living my life with those I love.

We all have much to learn and while our battles teach, guide, and shape us, it is the struggles of others that truly humble us. They force us to step outside of our own lives and give us a chance to pray for the renewal, comfort, and the wisdom of God for those fighting the hardest battle of all.

I know at the end of the day, God is ultimately telling me, “Do not lose yourself in your own battle for those fighting their hardest battle, need you.”


Blessings, Joy, and Love,

The Joyful Homemaker


Fall Days and Waiting For Baby

pumpkin patch

Fall is finally here and we are waiting with bated breath for Baby Morgan’s arrival. We have two weeks until due date and most of our preparations are complete. 🙂

I am glad to say we did some of the things on our fall bucket list! We made it to the pumpkin patch, apple picking, the cider mill, the aquarium, the playground, and have spent a lot of time together before baby’s entrance into the family. We even took Jack to see his first movie; Planes.

We had a beautiful maternity session with Jessica Boyd, We are so blessed she captured our family together. We will cherish these images forever. Be sure to check out her website. 🙂


We have crossed many things off our to-do list as well. Our bags are packed and ready to go when the time comes. Jack’s day bag is packed as well. He also has a little gift waiting from the baby.


The baby’s stuff is completely organized and ready for baby to come home to. It was a lot of fun going through the baby’s stuff after our baby shower and going through Jack’s baby stuff as well. It brought back many memories and who doesn’t love all of those cute little outfits, toys, and books? 🙂


Overall, we have been enjoying the fall weather and taking full advantage of the beautiful days. We have spent a lot of time outdoors at the playground and have also spent some quiet time indoors. We have been napping, cleaning, cooking, and waiting for baby to join us. The laundry is caught up, the dishes are done, and the beds are always made but most importantly, we are spending time together as a family.


It certainly is a strange feeling knowing that Jack’s days as an only child are coming to a close. It is hard to believe anytime now we will have a brand new baby to love and care for in our home. I am nervous and excited for the journey to begin. Each morning I hug and kiss Jack and realize he is no longer a baby, but a little boy and a soon to be big brother. He will make a great big brother. Each night I kiss his beautiful face and know while this chapter is closing, a brand new chapter full of promise and love will soon begin.

jack beach

Let the journey begin!


Many Blessings & Lots of Love,

The Joyful Homemaker


How To Make A Child ID Kit At Home


I logged into Facebook this morning and saw a post warning parents to stay with their children at the bus stop after an attempted child abduction in our area yesterday. This brought me back to the 20/20 episode I watched last night on the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling . This morning I feel it is important to blog about building a child ID kit.

Roughly 2000 children go missing in the US every day. Every.Single.Day. That is one child every 40 seconds. Thankfully, parents can breath a sigh of relief. The overwhelming majority of kidnappings are by family members and 99 percent of abductions committed by a family member or acquaintances result in reunification of child and parent. – See more at:

Making a child ID kit may not seem like something I would blog about on The Joyful Homemaker but I believe it is important to have one in every home. A child ID kit is critical in the event one’s child goes missing. It is important to have this and as much information as possible to present to law enforcement at the time of a child’s disappearance. In the event of a stranger abduction, law enforcement has the best chance of finding a missing or abducted child in the first three hours of the incident. This does not give a lot of time. A child ID kit can help during those critical first hours. It helps to have everything in one place.

To build a child ID kit grab a box and label it with your child’s name. I suggest using a small, fire-proof lock box. You should have as much of the following in the box as possible. I went directly to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children website to ensure I provide the most accurate information. Their website is


There should be a photograph(s) of your child meeting the below criteria:

  • Color photo
  • Show full face with as much facial detail as possible.
  • Have a dozen of the same photo in print. Have the same image in an accessible, digital format as well.
  • Be sure to update every six months.


It is good to have a quick, printed description of your child. One you can hand directly to law enforcement.

  • Child’s Name
  • Any nicknames
  • Date of Birth
  • Gender
  • Hair color and length
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye color
  • Glasses and/or braces
  • Identifying marks or scars
  • Any tattoos or piercings
  • Any health issues such as allergies, etc.

Dental X-Rays, Charting, and Bite Impressions

“Dental X-rays, professional dental charting and bite impressions or tooth prints are often useful to law enforcement in resolving missing children cases. You should update dental charts every two years until your child is 18. Check with your child’s dentist to determine if this service is offered.

In addition you may choose to have bite impressions made using plastic foam such as StyrofoamTM. Take a two-inch square plastic foam and have your child bite partially through it. The bite should be strong enough to leave an impression of the upper and lower teeth. A new bite sample should be made each time your child loses or grows a tooth. This sample should be stored in a safe and readily accessible place.” – Italicized information pulled directly from

DNA Sample

Obtaining a DNA sample from your child is critical. You can purchase a kit online or simply make one yourself. An old toothbrush, baby teeth, some hair, or an olde bandage work well. “These items should be placed in a brown envelope licked shut by your child. The envelope should be labeled and stored in a cool, dry and readily accessible place.” –– Italicized information pulled directly from

The DNA sample can be stored inside your child ID kit and placed in a cool, dry, place. It is beneficial to have everything in one place.


It is easy enough to take your child to local law enforcement for fingerprinting. You can also ask your child’s school if they provide fingerprinting service days or are having an event. When I was a child, our school had a law enforcement officer fingerprint on behalf of parents. I have also seen fingerprinting at local events at fairs, churches, and child safety clinics. After the prints are taken by a professional, they can easily be stored in your kit. Do not allow any organization to retain your child’s fingerprints.

ID Card

A parent can very easily design and make an ID for their child to carry in their backpack, one for each parent, one for caregivers (such as daycare) and one for their kit. Simply laminate their photo (a school photo works well) and some information into an ID sized card. Ensure their gender, weight, height, age, date of birth, and parental information is on the card. There are also companies that produce cards. is one of them.

While it may seem like a lot of work or an extreme measure, a child ID kit is a valuable tool to have in one’s home. It provides quick access to information in the event your child is missing.

As parents we can never be too safe and never say never. Children do go missing and even though our children are statistically safe, I believe having a kit is important, even if simply for peace of mind.

The Joyful Homemaker



Freezer Cooking Session – Day 2

Alicia and I had a successful freezing cooking session yesterday morning. We purchased and split 13 lbs of ground beef and got cooking!

Our lineup included:


Pepper Filling

Swedish Meatballs

Though we spent plenty of time tending the kiddos, talking, and drinking lavender tea, we also accomplished making a good batch of meals.

Here are some pictures from our day:

freezer cooking 2

eliza in the kitchen


Next week we are  making a few chicken based slow cooker meals, mini GF pizza crusts, white rice muffins, and possibly some delicious cookies. Today is a busy day for me but I think I will start a batch of chicken soup this morning.


Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker