Life Unstaged, Messy Home Survival Strategies, My Clutter Journal/Journey, Real Messes--Caught On Camera!

Reality-based Decluttering

Sometimes…I just gotta break all the rules. Sometimes…I gotta declutter big time and fast! Sometimes…I just gotta let go and purge my life without the fine-tooth comb hanging over my shoulder and the experts whispering advice in my ear.

And I gotta say…

When I let go and do it this way, I get rid of SO MUCH, SO FAST!

I know this isn't the perfect way to declutter.

There probably won't be a book written about how to do it this way because it's not in 10 easy steps and there is no way this guarantees that all the clutter will be gone when you're finished.


I've done this three times in my married life, and each time I did it I was thrilled with how much clutter left my house in such a short amount of time!

So here's my pictures and how I did it.

First of all, in order to see how much clutter and how fast this was, you'll need to see this picture.

This beautifully, properly decluttered, dining room was posted on June 27th, the day after finishing it:


And these pictures of all my junk that I've quickly culled from around the house was taken this morning. It's July 5th today.




And did I mention, I'm not done yet?

So, I bet you're wondering how in the world I got so much stuff decluttered all in one short amount of time.

First of all, my life as I hold it all “together”, comes to a crashing hault!


My children watch guilt-inducing amounts of television! And run around in their pjs, and my toddler has a clean diaper but peanut butter under his finger nails, and the baby has way more attention from my eleven year old daughter than me.

Can I watch another episode of Transformers? Yeah.

Can I play on Mindcraft for an extra 30 minutes? Sure.

What you want for lunch, Honey? A piece of cheese, lunch meat and a chocolate donut…with apple juice. Why not.

Dinner variety is more akin to Whataburger one night, Taco Bell the next, and Church's chicken for lunch than it is a real plan.

Cleaning up the house comes down to 15 minutes of gathering trash that has grown a pair of legs and the ability to reproduce, loading the dishwasher, and making sure there's nothing souring in the washing machine because the house looks like this…



During the school year (this time “the mood” struck during summer break), history is watching a documentary on George Washington when we're studying Medieval history (yeah, I'm aware how far off plan that is, but I just don't care 'cause I'm tossing a literal ton of junk).

And my hair looks like I just spilled some olive oil on top and tried hiding it by brushing it through with a wet brush and slicking it back in a pony-tail.



During all of this routine breakdown that is “secretly” going on behind closed dining room blinds, there's a whole lot of work going on behind the scenes.

And honey, there ain't no rules I'm following.

I'm grabbing old boxes, my best laundry basket, the broken Rubbermaid, and whatever else I find while I'm passing by that's remotely in the shape of a box. No labels, no plan.

I've got a roll of masking tape and a marker (the easiest one to find) in one hand and a glass of iced tea in the other. Every item I'm removing gets slapped with a quick price just in case I end up with enough for a garage sale. I'm not about to have the energy to price all that stuff later.

A mental bulls eye is on every place I know has a plathora of excess.

I dive in big time and don't think about it much at all. The heavy decisions are for later. The detail decisions aren't happening today. I'm pulling out that toy box that the kids haven't touched in months, but I skip the other four sitting right beside it. I pull clothes right off the hanger straight into a bag that I know are never worn without stopping to try anything on.

I ask Josh to pull down one box after another so I can see what's inside. Some get taped back up and restored to their place, but 20 boxes seem to loose more than half their weight as I shuffle the little amounts of stuff I can't decide on back, combining the stuff that's left. Instant weight loss, both mentally and physically.

I dive into the closets where I know there are bags of clutter already waiting to be delivered to a thrift store.

I send Abram to go grab the skates that are two sizes too small, and get that rocking chair arm that's in the media room floor while you're at it.

I bend down and snatch several books from a stack under the side table that I never read and add a price in green permanent marker.

As I think of places, I hit them. I check. I unlid and relid tubs that sit in various corners.

And when I'm exhausted, I crash in front of the tv and catch up on some much needed baby snuggle time, since I've only stopped to nurse and change diapers.

I'm likely still in my pjs at 2pm and still up zoning in front of Netflix or Facebook at 2am…but it's all worth it.

Are you in the mood to de-junk your life?

Forget the rules while you have the momentum…and just do it. It's not pretty, it's not routine, it's probably going to be exhausting…and it's definitely chaotic. But it's a thrill!

The only rules:

Kids must be safe and fed…and hugged when they're upset.

Diapers must be changed when they're wet.

That's it.

Happy Decluttering!


Chores, Messy Home Survival Strategies, Real Messes--Caught On Camera!

Picture Chores Like This!

There's a little play on words in this title! We actually use our iPhone cameras as to-do pictures instead of lists.

When our house seems to be falling apart at the seams and chaos is in every corner of my house, I find this to be the simplest way to get the kids involved and keep them motivated.

So set your timers…we're going on a tour of my two hour clean up last Saturday. (We usually delete each picture as it's finished, but I made sure they were all saved this time so I could show y'all. You're welcome!)

I start off by carrying Timmy around the house taking pictures of different focus areas that I would like done. I don't worry about the picture being perfect as long as my family can tell where and what I'm talking about. (Some pictures represent something-like a picture of the washer and dryer means to keep it going.)

We all gather around and look through the pictures together, and Abby's usually the first one to “call dibs” on something. I set the timer for twenty minutes, but usually it's ten. The house needs to be finished for Abram's party next weekend and Daddy's home to pitch in.


On this one, I placed Bubzy's clean sheets within the picture so they would know it meant to change the sheets and not just make the bed.

In this picture, one “round” was Josh actually cleaning the sink, while another time one of the kids picked up the stuff on the floor. While Abby might like cleaning the mirror, Abram might like throwing all the dirty clothes in hampers and throwing trash away…while Daddy prefers to use Scrubbing Bubbles on the sink and countertops. The picture might mean different things to different people. (Only Mom can approve the picture as complete before a child deletes it from the choices).

Josh chose to stay with the same theme and completely cleaned the bathroom instead of switching with the timer like the kids really need. He has such a servant's heart in choosing the least desirable chore!




Same idea here: Josh put together the crib while Abram tidied the couch. They saw something different. As a family, we use each of our talents to benefit the whole.
I figured Abby would choose the bed, since she loves making it all pretty, but this time Abram beat her to the punch and snatched it up. I didn't say a word when I passed the finished work and it was at a very obvious slant.

This one got skipped completely, which is totally fine. I put more than enough picture chores in front of them so that they have choices. I make a time goal and we stop when it gets there. That day it was 2 hours.

Usually, I take a picture of the floor if I want it vacuumed.

The picture of the sink, dishwasher, and the countertop we put dirty dishes on means to unload/reload the dishwasher and scrub the sink. I stuck with the kitchen and laundry through most of the two hours.

I remind the kids that the breakfast bar includes the bar stools, too.


This picture represents putting away pantry stuff, cleaning off and wiping down the counters.

Hand wash dishes

One person took this as taking the trash out and another took it as sweeping.

Abram picked up everything in this picture, dusted the alcove shelves and swept the floor. He did awesome! Too bad I'm not including after pics here. I was so proud of him.

Abby kind of adopted the bathroom and it was sparkling by the time she finished.





I have to be careful what I take pictures of, too. I took some of the school closet because I fully intended to go in there and tackle it after the kitchen and laundry were under control. But, when all that was left was the mess in the living room and all the trash created by eating fast food the night before, Abram chose the school closet. He wanted me to come tell him what to do in there. Ugh. I'm sorry, Buddy, but you're just going to have to pick one of the other things. I don't have the time to go show you what exactly I want done in there right now.

There were several choices that could have been done in here–tidy up, dust, vacuum, sweep–but by the end of the two hours we had only tidied up in here. Next time maybe.



Keep the laundry going

Fold and put away this basket of clothes

It was Abby's laundry day

And, not surprisingly, an entire basket of stuff and a full bag of trash came out of there!


Two hours behind us, lots of cleaning up done…now time to enjoy the rest of our Saturday!


So, what do y'all do to get everyone in your family to cooperate willingly? This has been the one that's received the least complaints from my little crew.



Life Unstaged, The Baby Years

My Saturday Morning

Saturdays I typically spend relaxing while the older kids sleep in. Bubzy was showing me the alligator he drew. Timmy was hanging out with me, as always. I don't put my babies down much at all, although he's been held by sissy more than has ever happened before, giving me more time for hands-free chores this time around.


So, how do I get any housework done at all if I rarely put my baby down?

I just wear them!


My Clutter Journal/Journey, Real Messes--Caught On Camera!

Laundry Room Drop-N-Go

This area where we removed the fridge that died at Thanksgiving is way too convenient! It’s become a catch-all for stuff headed to the thrift store, toilet paper and paper towels we’re too lazy to put away, and Aldi’s bags. 

The paper towels were just too inconvenient where they had belonged, so I found a new place for them.

I put the big blue bags and other stuff headed to the thrift store in the back of the van.

I removed all the big stuff that belongs there…

…so I could sweep. It was in desperate need of it.

I put everything back neatly, and added the hanging rack that I had loaned to my sister and…

…made this “confiscation” bin for laundry I find laying around.

Oh, and yes, I wash the clothes before they go in here. 

And here’s what it looks like now.

Since I’ve been doing laundry everyday, it was really starting to bug me! Now it’s finally back in order and off my mind. 


Do you have a place that’s bugging you right now? 

Daily Discipline Check-ins, Messy Home Survival Strategies

Lack of Discipline is Catching Up With Me!

My sweet little Timmy is going to be 3 weeks old on Friday and I’ve got my energy back. Not that I’m a truly energetic person, but I’m not wishing for a nap after hiking to the bathroom like the last couple of months have been. And I’m beginning to realize something. My lack of discipline is really catching up with me!

I’m an organized mess!!

Let me explain. Ya know that saying, “A place for everything and everything in it’s place”? I’m really good at “A place for everything” but the “everything in it’s place” I am truly horrible about! My husband, and anyone else that stops by my house on a regular basis, is nodding their heads in agreement–and possibly laughing.

I love coming up with new systems, but fail at keeping up with them. I find the best, most logical places for things to belong, but rarely put things back (unless I’m expecting company or something). I’m organized…but it doesn’t do me much good because I lack basic self-discipline.

(The little bit of good it does me is that I “catch up” incredibly fast! My house can be a complete nightmare, I get a call that someone’s coming by, and 30 minutes later it looks comfortably “lived in”.)

Except laundy–there’s no fast way to catch up on that!

However…I’ve been inspired!!

Have you ever visited A Slob Comes Clean?

Funniest Blog EVER!

Anyhow, Noni “the Slob”, who isn’t really a slob at all anymore, started off teaching herself by adding one “non-negotiable” a week to her plan. Even though our “non-negotiables” will be different, I think that’s a perfect way for me to add a little piece of self-discipline into my messy life.

So, I’m beginning today! It’s Wednesday, in the middle of February, so it’s the perfect time. I realized years ago that it made me ultra nervous to fail if I began a plan on the “perfect” day, say Jan. 1. So, for years, I’ve been starting stuff when I’m ready…not by the calendar.

I’ll be calling my non-negotiables “Self Disciplines” because that’s what I’m working on in my spiritual walk right now–to be a more disciplined person, and help teach my children to also be more self-disciplined, too.

My First Self Disciplines:



Daily: To completely wash, dry, fold and put away one person’s laundry each day of the week,  and to keep all dirty laundry put in their baskets.

Weekly: To get a home-cooked dinner on the table with a family board game afterward. All of us, sitting around the table, eating together, with the t.v. off. Really–this is going to be a challenge. We’re used to eating in our living room, kid’s at the table, where everyone can see the t.v. that’s on all evening.


Train them to keep all their own dirty laundry off the floor and in their dirty clothes baskets. This would be heavenly! And a bit of a miracle.

Monday: Abby

Tuesday: Mine

Wednesday: Littles (Bubzy and Timmy)

Thursday: Josh

Friday: Abram and Towels

Messy Home Survival Strategies, My Clutter Journal/Journey, Purposefully Building Memories

Stop De-cluttering…for 10 minutes, and give it to your children!


Stop De-cluttering 1

My 8 year old boy was getting ready for bed last night and asked, “Why don’t we snuggle anymore?”

I have a two year old who’s still nursing and a newborn. I had been holding them for the last hour or so and was very tired! I haven’t slept a full night in a VERY long time…not just since the baby was born a week ago. And, I haven’t slept a full three hour stretch since then. Now my 8 year old wanted in on the snuggle fest at 10:30 p.m.!

It only took a glance in his eyes, though. I could see that he wasn’t just trying to get out of going to bed. He needed his Mama back for a few minutes–he’s my snuggle bug, and has been since he was born. How could a mom say “no” to that?

But…I had been. Through the last 9 months of moving, pregnancy, and trying to put a new home in order, things have changed quite a bit for him. Daddy used to wrestle with him in the living room floor all the time, but now there’s no soft carpet. We didn’t even think of that when gawking at the gorgeous wood flooring. He used to cuddle up next to me and read every day…and now that he’s reading pretty well, I had cut back how often he read aloud to about once or twice a week, and instead he was reading off by himself.

That got me thinking this morning as I stared at the pile of files and papers on my dining room table. Ten years ago I thought that if I could just de-clutter and organize my whole house, than I would have more time to spend with my children! Ten years later, I had the flashing, familiar thought, that if I could just get this house under control that maybe I could spend more time with my kids. Ugh!

And then I went upstairs to their toy room. The tears came flooding in. Abby’s Barbie house sat in the corner untouched! She’s 11 and almost out of her Barbie faze. It’s still her favorite toy to play with with friends, but the friends that visit most often are totally out of that stage. So it sits there collecting dust–her very favorite toy.

I played Barbie’s and Polly Pockets with her when she was little…but that only lasted about a month. And Abby still remembers it!! She’s forgotten her history lessons and the bones we memorized in Anatomy, but she remembers those few months with amazing accuracy!!

Why did I stop???

I was too focused on today instead of tomorrow! That’s why. I knew I should, but I didn’t have time that day. Tomorrow I’ll make time, I thought nearly every day for 10 years. Young moms–pay attention!!! Tomorrows are the todays of today. This is tomorrow! Relationships are far too valuable to push to tomorrow.

So, a month after New Year’s, I’m making a resolution. A resolution that’s far more important than loosing weight, getting my home organized, or making it through a math workbook on time! I’m resolving to make the relationships with my husband and children the priority each and every day. But I need a plan. I’m going to call it Memory Making 101! And while I might not make the time to post about all of them, I hope to post some to keep accountable and on track.

Memory Making 101:

(here are my goals/plans)

  • Spend 1 full hour a day, during school, just playing with my children. We’ll call it Social Skills. No listening to books on cd to make sure there’s something “educational” going on! Just play…and possibly music. That’s it.
  • Include one of the kids in helping prepare dinner once a week.
  • Have dinner at the table as a family once a week with home-cooked goodness, and a board game, puzzle, or science experiment afterward.
  • Speaking of–do an actual science experiment with my kids at least once a month. Josh can be in charge of that. He loves those and he’s the one that’ll be out at the grocery store and can pick up supplies, anyway.
  • Buy a (new or used) BIG, soft, fluffy, glorious rug, so that Daddy can ruff house with the kids again!!! Totally worth the money!
  • Get back to family worship time once a week. (More on that in another post–I’ve got pictures, but we haven’t been doing it through the busy holidays).
  • Take the older two on a “date” with Mom or Dad every three months! The church provides free babysitting from 6:30-9 at Sagemont church and we can give up one couple date every three months and go somewhere individually with the older two. Abby really needs that before she reaches dating age–like around 20–just kidding–but seriously–not ANY earlier than 16–with a chaperone!
  • Go on a family field trip or special outing once every season

Well, there it is folks! My goals for Memory Making 101.

Please sign up to receive e-mails to the right in the side bar…and kick my booty if I stop keep me accountable! Ask me how it’s going. Ask me for more pictures. Whatever it takes!! I pray (really hard) that I don’t  wave goodbye as they move out of my house in another decade and want so badly to go back to today and start over…like I wish I could go back to a decade ago and start over!!

P.S. You may ask “What about my littles?” The thing is…I’m really good with them. I practically wear my baby (Ergo!!) and my toddler is at my feet more than anywhere else. But he will also be included in that hour of play and all the other stuff we do.

Linking Up at:

Adventures in Mindful Living


Texas Women Bloggers

Debt Free Living, Homes in Years Past, Messy Home Survival Strategies, My Clutter Journal/Journey, Real Messes--Caught On Camera!, Walks With Jesus

Looking Back: How Far We’ve Come

I’m absolutely astounded with how far God has brought our family in the last few years (like 6). I want to be an encouragement to those still struggling through what I’ve waded through, just as those bloggers have been to me that are such an inspiration.

Sometimes, when I read blogs with all the great home pictures of decorated rooms and clean kitchens, I imagine that they’ve always lived like that. Ya know, as if that mom was just born to be a miracle worker of clean bathrooms, painted walls, and tidy children. (I’m still sure some of them were, lol). But…some of us struggle to make our houses into homes and that’s WHY we blog about these things…to have a place of accountability, to journal about our progress, and to encourage other women who are where we were a few years back.

The other day I was looking through my pictures, as I take SO MANY, and found a few that made me cry. I don’t mean tear up a little, either. I mean I was bawling. Let me just show you a few.

I was babysitting at that time in my life, and some of these pictures had the child I was watching running around. The first thing that popped in my mind…before I really thought about it being my house…was, what kind of mom would let their child go there (to be watched daily).

I was shocked by the realization! It was MY house and I allowed it to stay that way a lot. And when I thought about my children living in that house day in and day out, I cried. I had a flop-down-on-my-bed-buried-in-my-pillow cry.

The thing is, I’m still a mess. I still struggle to get my laundry done and I still hate doing dishes…but the improvement is night and day.

I’ve been praying about my home and my role as mother and wife for as long as I can remember. And ya know what? I didn’t read one particular book that gave me an ah-ha moment, and I didn’t have anyone come to my house and teach me, and I never found extra energy miraculously making daily cleaning easier. It was God. That’s the only answer I have. In tiny, almost unnoticeable stages, HE has brought me from there to here.

Here is my new home:

All I can say through tears and gladness and amazement, is that God HAS changed me. He’s not finished with me yet…believe me, there’s a long way for this Mama to go, but I have changed.

What about those still in the thick of it?

Honey, I still consider myself in the thick of it…my home just looks way better now. But, I know what you mean. What about when you still live in that little apartment or rental that you don’t even like, maybe hate, and you want so badly to have a nice home?

First, pray a whole lot!
God is the only one who can take you from where you are to where you want to be without tearing a hole in your finances and ruining your life. Trust that God is working on YOU rather than just your home. Ask him to reveal to you what he’s trying to teach you and that you will be open to learning.

I had a contentment issue with my home. It made me mad that “everyone else” could wave their credit cards in front of a cash register and magically decorate faster than me. It was also disheartening that when we made the decision that I would stay home to raise and teach our children, that other families with two incomes were moving up far faster than we were.

It took a whole lot of God working on my heart to accept wherever I was as my place to minister to my family. I worked through a lot of bitterness and jealousy to make it to the other side. And, ya know what, my circumstances didn’t change much at all until God was satisfied with how far I had come in my thinking. By the time we moved out of that town home, I had accepted that it could be my permanent home and that if I wanted to have a happy family in it, I would have to start working on it.

Second, get your hands busy.
I realize through the years that most of the improvement that happened was absolutely free! It was de-junking my home, organizing what was left, and cleaning up that truly made the biggest difference. I still hadn’t learned this in the pictures above. Those were great pictures to show the progress we made, but it got back to a big mess quickly and stayed that way for long periods of time. I always prioritized other stuff ahead of cleaning up and it showed. I knew how to clean, but I actually had to do it regularly to make a difference to my family. I’m still learning this one, but I’ve come a long way.
Third, do projects that give you big bang for your buck. Paint is incredibly cheap if you keep the supplies from one project to another. Painting is hard work but has really fabulous results and last a really long time. Almost everything I’ve decorated with over the years came from thrift stores or antique shops. It’s amazing what you can find if you’re determined to look.
And let people in on what you need. Somewhere someone is looking for that one person that will haul off their dining room table. These kind of HUGE blessings are how I’ve obtained about half of my furniture…and in return, when I’m ready to get rid of something, I give it away, too.
Fourth, realize that your home and YOU are works in progress! There’s never a time I’ve reached where I’ve said, “Wow…I’m done,” and really been finished. You will always have another wall to paint, another drawer to clean out, another load of dishes or laundry to do, and a new way to organize your bookshelves. When I started blogging, I figured I would come to the end of my house and the blog would be over. Good news! I’ve realized that I could blog about my house and home until I’m old and grey. No problem.
And God’s not done with ME yet either! I still have so much to learn and so many disciplines to train myself into. But, isn’t that a GOOD thing? I think so.


Linking Up at these amazing blogs:

It's Overflowing

A Slob Comes Clean

Metamorphosis Monday