Remember this {on bouncing back}


About this time last week, I was down. Down on housekeeping, down on homeschooling… cooking, kids, you name it.

When I look around and find myself so dissatisfied with what I see, feeling helpless to turn any of it around, I’m often forgetting some extenuating circumstances.

In this particular case, my husband just graduating from seminary! A four-year long culmination for him. Not to mention more than a week of careful preparation on my part to insure that everything went smoothly that weekend so we could fully enjoy celebrating together.

So yes, there were rotten bananas on the counter that just hadn’t gotten made into banana bread. The laundry that had been so carefully taken care of before Friday had once again spiraled out of control. The two-year-old who had completely mastered potty training started having accidents out in public when I had no extra clothes and no idea what to do about the mess.

But accidents and dirty laundry and rotten bananas are not the point. The point is that I let these things convince me that I’m a complete wreck who will never get it right no matter how hard I try. Which is completely untrue. What is true is that I am a very average homemaker who most of the time keeps everything in line enough so that our family can run smoothly and enjoy each other, who some of the time can do above that, and who sometimes bottoms out and lives in a very messy house for a few days before bouncing back.

When you’re pregnant and there’s big a big abnormal life event, you might have to just rest for a few days. And no, your housework will not get done while you’re resting. And that’s okay.

Because somehow, in some way, I usually bounce back. It’s not normally from the big, all day, get-this-place-cleaned-up times I dream of; it’s usually in very small, indiscernible steps. Then one day I look around, and things have gotten better.

This applies to so many areas of my life. Just after having a baby is a big one. Or when baby has to start eating solid food. Sometimes it’s not just the physical settings of a messy house, testy kids, disorganized homeschooling, or never-ending schedules, sometimes it can be spiritual growth (or the lack thereof), strained relationships, or cloudy moods that evoke those feelings of hopelessness. It’s hard to convince yourself that those circumstances won’t last forever, but really those “lows” are most often just as temporary as the equal and opposite “highs.”

It might be the next week, the next month or the next year, but most of the time if you wait long enough, things will bounce back.

Maybe I’ll remember for next time. = )


Just wanted to say a quick hello to you, the readers! This may be the longest stretch of time I’ve gone without blogging! We did indeed have a lovely and touching graduation. God blessed and everything was smooth and wonderful. It’s hard to believe that sweet time of life has come to an end. We currently have three days of homeschooling left before we finish our first year. And then, it’s get ready for all things baby! Somehow that has given me the itch to rearrange everything in the house. = ) I am woefully behind on sharing pictures. Keeping my fingers crossed that I will have some ready for this Saturday. Until then or whenever, thank you so much for reading and for your sweet support. 

Spring Cleaning purge: 7 bags in a week

Here’s the plan for kickstarting my spring cleaning this year. I wrote here that I was motivated to do a purge of the house before even starting to clean. So for seven days (starting today) we’re going to try to get rid of one 30 gallon trash bag of stuff.

Some of these will be trash; some will be Salvation Army, freecycle, or kids consignment. In fact, I already have a huge Salvation Army bag taking up room in the closet so that will be easy – just drop it off!

The point is to stop being frustrated by stuff that’s in the way and just get rid of it!

For instance, today is out of date coupon inserts. It shouldn’t take that long, but oh the room in the file cabinet that will be made for other papers currently cluttering up other places!

Sound like a plan? I’ll try to keep you posted on how it goes! If you feel like joining in on the great pre-spring-cleaning-purge-7-large-trash-bags-of-stuff-in-a-week campaign, let me know!

Pre-Spring Cleaning Purge

For lint trap lazies

imageI used to be really good about cleaning out my lint trap. It wasn’t even a thought in my mind, I just did it.

But… oh, somewhere around the birth of our third and our big move, I completely fell off the lint trap wagon.

The first time that I waited so long to do it and then tried and had the whole lint sweater fall down in the dryer, I was demoralized. I was going to have to tell Paul that he was going to fix the dryer because his wife couldn’t seem to remember to just empty the lint trap. Rrrrrrr.

Of course, he was very sweet about it, but I still felt terrible. Then I did a little better – meaning I managed to clean it out right before it got to that point about fifty-seven times.

But, then it happened again. I was so so SO SO mad at myself!


Why can’t I just clean out the silly lint trap?

Well, this time, I decided to figure it out by myself. Paul realized what was going on… oh, I’d say when I started watching youtube videos on how to take off the back of your dryer while we were in bed.

He laughed and said, “What would drive a person to make a silly video like that?”

“Because there’s dorks like me who will watch them!” I replied.

But, there is amazing news!

It worked!

I watched this youtube video, then locked my kids in a room with a kids story and music cd (grandparent disclaimer: it wasn’t actually locked), and took the back of my dryer off, took off the lint catcher, cleaned out the lint, and put it all back together! It worked exactly like the video.

Amazing! I texted Paul with some sort of nonsense like, “I’m on top of the world!”

It took less than forty-five minutes and that included cleaning off all of the junk on the dryer (one of the original culprits, no doubt) and finagling back and forth and over and behind the dryer.

And I’m just consoling myself with this post, hoping someone else out there can relate and possibly use this, too? = )

Here’s the link again: Cleaning out a dryer with top lint cleanout

From preschool to kindergarten; my thoughts so far

imageI’m trying from time to time here to just sit and write out thoughts. Most of my posts are things I’ve thought about for awhile or specific updates about the girls or the family.

There’s a gentleman in our church who loves to tell me how much he wished he would have understood stages when his children were growing up. He’s told me on more than one occasion how hard it is to welcome a new stage while realizing that the one that just passed had fled without his realizing how precious it was.

I remember growing up almost every year in school thinking during the first week how much better last year’s teacher was than this year’s. I finally realized with some amusement that I would soon be missing the teacher I was currently griping about.

“It goes so fast!”, everyone always says. I’ve stood around in more than one group of young moms wondering what to actually do about it.

My sweet and beautiful oldest daughter started kindergarten last week.

The weird thing is – at this point, I don’t really feel like it’s flown by. I feel like I can remember every stage  either in grueling or delightful detail.

But as I now transition to being a school mom, I’m fighting the feeling of wanting to go back to those preschool days. It was so fun to basically play all day every day! I don’t think once I thought, “I can’t wait ’til she’s in school!”

I feel like I have a new baby again…what am I supposed to do with this? You mean I have to guide this child through the intricacies of education? responsibility? relationships? eventually independence?

All right, cut! Everybody, let’s just go back to the playground.

But nope, this is happening whether I want it to or not.

On the positive side, I feel like I have been praying all day every day. Not in the spiritual way, but in the “Lord, if you don’t help me I’m either going to lose it or go hide in a corner somewhere.” (slightly overdramatic)

The challenges, the tests, the stretching into new territory is a gift from God. Not just for Hope, but for me, too. It helps that her eyes have been twinkling for a whole week and she has said at least ten times a day, “I really like school!”

But how to do my best? how to trust and rest? how to self-discipline and diagnose? when to listen and when to go with your gut? These things I’m wondering about.

And how to cling to this last year I have with Sophia, and the last two years with Gracie, and the last three years with Mckayla, and how not to wish they were all in school so we could all be on the same page again.

I’m so thankful for my husband who listens so patiently.

I love my girls more than ever before.

And I’m so grateful for my Jesus who lovingly puts new challenges in my life, and then promises to always be near.

(and I really need to go to bed… because tomorrow is Monday morning!)

Mixing black and brown in the home

For years now I have had various frames and decor in boxes in my house. One reason was that there was very little time to decorate, but another big reason was that I really didn’t know what went together. It wasn’t perfect and didn’t fit into how I envisioned my house.

However, one day, I decided it was quite ridiculous to have empty walls and boxes of frames!

So up it went!

It still didn’t look right at first, but after playing with it for a few months, I’m happy with the results.

One of the biggest things I had to embrace was mixing brown and black. Most of what I had was given to us here and there. I couldn’t see the rhyme or reason to putting it together, but now I love it. It comes off collected and beautifully imperfect (or at least to me!) As the Nester always says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful!”

So if you have to choose between black and brown in your home…




… choose both!

Have you entered the giveaway yet? It will close tonight at midnight! Leave a comment on the post, follow the blog by email or like it on facebook. You’ll love the Botanical Notebook Collection from the Rifle Paper Co. Check it out here!

The Sounds of Saturday Night

photo credit
photo credit

A few weeks ago, the funniest thing happened while I was preparing to iron on a Saturday night.

I took a skirt off of it’s hanger and mindlessly hung it on a nearby doorknob. A little “clink” sounded when the hanger hit the door. Instantly, my mind was flooded with sweet sounds and memories.

I used to hear that “clink” sound a lot on Saturday night.

My mom would be quietly ironing in the corner of the family room closest to the laundry area. I hear the spritz of the spray starch, the poof of the steam, the fabric being readjusted on the board, and of course, the clink of the hanger either coming or going from the doorknob.

Everyone in general was spread out sort of doing their own thing.

My dad’s chair creaks in his office. He must have sat back to think for a minute about his Sunday school lesson. The chair creaks again as it’s returned to upright position; smooth dark fingers return to typing and clicking away.

I can hear my brother walking back and forth in the hallway, thinking out loud to no one in particular.

There are a number of sounds my sister might have been making. Practicing that offertory one more time, fussing in front of the closet, or moving positions on the couch while she devoured a book.

I really can’t for the life of me remember what I would have been doing. Certainly not paying attention to anyone around me.

Funny now, how it all seems so clear.

What the fly on the wall heard

photo credit
photo credit

Good morning!

Here are a few funny things that were heard around here this week ~ hope you enjoy!


This morning, Gracie got out of bed a little earlier than I wanted to. So after taking her to the restroom, I brought her in bed with me. One of my favorite things to do with the girls is to ask, “What is your favorite…?”

“Gracie, what is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?”

“Strawberries and eggs.” No surprise there; she’s said that before.

“What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?”

“Macawoni and cheese.” Again, completely normal two-year old answer.

“What is your favorite thing to eat for dinner?”

“Pizza.” I quite agree.

“Gracie, what is your favorite thing to eat for a snack?”




We were driving home from eating dinner out this week when Gracie interrupted the conversation to complain…

“Mommy, I’m hungry!”

I reasoned with her, “You can’t be hungry, Gracie. We just ate.”

“I’m hungry from the talking!”


And the grand finale (in my mind). = )

Hope and Sophia were cleaning up their papers and crayons after coloring one afternoon. Sophia held up two cut-out figures that closely resembled a man and woman for me to see.

“Wow, Sophia, those are great. Who are they?” I asked.

Her voice became very excited as she held up the woman who I could now see had a beautifully colored dress, “This is Aunt Laurie at her wedding!!!”

“Oh wow!” I said.

She held up the rather long, skinny figure of a man, “And this is Uncle Aaron. He was so excited he turned into a microphone!!!”

Only Sophia. = )

Teaching piano lessons to your own child: The teachers have it better


photo credit
photo credit

If you haven’t seen it already, check out the first post in this series: The Name Game.

If you were to ask me as a piano teacher, “What is the one common denominator among happy, successful beginning piano students?”

The answer would be easy: “Parents who are involved with the child as they practice.”

It took about two weeks of being Hope’s piano teacher and her mom to realize, “Wow! This being the mom of a child taking piano lessons is hard work! The teachers have it way easier.”

My hat (that one that everyone carries around for the sole purpose of saluting) immediately went off to all the parents of my past students. They had been the ones responsible for their children’s accomplishments. With that little mental ceremony over, it was time to face reality: I wasn’t just a teacher any more, now I was a mom.

And with my sweet little Hope taking piano lessons, it was my job to help her practice.

Being your child’s teacher does not exclude you from being their mom during the week.

I now have to live up to the expectations that I placed on parents:

*Help your child practice every day

*Make sure they closely follow their given assignment

*Assist them with any theory work

*Be there to answer questions and give common sense guidance

It takes work to build a daily practice time into your already busy schedule. It was quite a challenge for me during those first few weeks. I would think, “I already did the lesson, now we have to practice, too?” Yes, you spoiled person; just like you made all those other people, now you have to practice, too.

Currently, she’s dying to practice every second of the day, so that makes things a little easier. I do try to not just put her off when it’s not a good time, but explain that we will do it later and then follow through with what I’ve said. Most of the time, practice happens while the little girls nap, and I sit right with her. Sometimes it happens when the others are awake, and I’m just barely supervising her work, and sometimes I let her practice by herself while the little girls get baths.

It’s quite the juggling act, but we’re determined to make it work.

And one more thing, it is hard to not jump back into that teacher mode during the week. I have discovered a few things that have been helpful, and I’ll share them next time!

Until then, thanks for reading!

Teaching piano lessons to your own child: The Name Game

Hope's first and only piano lesson from Daddy
Hope’s first and only piano lesson from Daddy

For a few years I’ve put off teaching my oldest daughter piano lessons because I didn’t want to do a bad job. The stereotype seems to be that most piano teachers do not have success with their own children. It’s challenging to play the role of parent and teacher simultaneously.

However, I also dearly love teaching children and am extremely picky passionate about how they are taught. I haven’t really run in the piano teacher circles since our move, so I didn’t have any good choices that I knew of for Hope. Besides that, right now, it would be best to have a teacher that was free.

A few months before Hopey turned five, I knew it was time to stop stalling. People had been asking for years when I was going to start teaching her and she had begun asking to play constantly. We decided that this would be one of her birthday presents; I ordered the books online before I could change my mind.

My piano pedagogy professor in college went through all the reasons why it’s not wise to teach your own children the piano. I do remember him saying something like, “The only person I ever knew it worked for would make her girls go out the door, walk around the block, and come back in for their lesson. They were required to call her Mrs. Swaim.”

This idea stuck with me, and I decided to try it. Since I had everything else going against me, I figured this was my only chance.

I told Hope that she would have to go out the door, and then knock to come in for her lesson. She would have to call her teacher Mrs. Mylastname and that she was to be very well-behaved. Her eyes lit up as she caught on.

Not quite knowing what to expect, imagine my pleasure when she walked in the door with the most adorable smile on her face and twinkle in her eye, “Hello, Mrs. ________.”

This little game has actually helped me a lot. I’ve been able to look at her like any other student. It’s been so fun to realize, Wow, she’s just like other kids; doing cute things, annoying things, childish things… she’s just my piano student for that hour.

After her lesson, I send her out the door again. When she comes back in, I ask her how her lesson was and she tells me all about it and shows me what she has to do for that week.

We’ve been going for at least two months now, and it’s been great. The name game has really helped.

Obviously, there’s still a long road ahead filled with many challenges. But since we’re on the way, I figured why not blog about it.

Hope you enjoy! Next time I’ll talk about why teachers really have it better.

Don’t want to miss this series? Follow my blog if you’re on WordPress, or sign up to receive posts through email. Do you have any experiences teaching your own children music lessons? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments! Thanks so much for reading and have a lovely day.

Can you feel the stress?

By my clock, there are twenty-six hours and forty-eight minutes until Thanksgiving. I have a little over half of that until my company comes. And today, I felt it.

Yesterday I was motivated. With my to-do list in hand, I ran around the house fixing, cleaning and preparing. But not too much; just enough to accomplish what needed to be done, knowing there was a set plan for the next two days.

Fast forward to this morning. I don’t know if it was me or the girls, but something wasn’t clicking. Gracie had four accidents; Hope and Sophia pulled their dresser over; Mckayla was cranky and my efforts notwithstanding, the word for the day was futility.

I hereby declare that I think stress is inevitable during the holidays! (So stop publishing misleading articles about a stress-less holiday, you lovely magazines that we all adore!)

Let’s see, I’m suffering from menu-picking paralysis, I need to clean the kitchen floor, tidy up the house, fold some laundry and go to the store. All before going to bed tonight. but I want to go to bed now! No matter. Oh and all that I just listed is so that I can be ready to do what I need to do tomorrow. (sarcastic smiley face)

All right, it’s not all that bad. I mean everything I said is true, but the stress levels haven’t reached dangerous heights. Just lettin’ you know, I’m feelin’ it. How about you?

P.S. To all those who are reading my new somewhat rough blog: Thank you so much for reading; I really appreciate the encouragment. Have a lovely Thanksgiving.