Keeping it Real


Dear Rie,

My question, and I suppose I don't really expect an answer (maybe this is a rant or sorts, lol), is HOW do you keep everything so clean and beautiful? I'm the mother of three boys. Where is the mud from that awful orange North Carolina clay? 

And the fur from the cat? And the crayon marks from the two year old that sneaks away a green crayon and colors all over your favorite ottoman when you aren't watching? And the stinky litter box for the kitty? And the toys given to your kids by every family member known to man?

Oh, how I LONG for a simple home like this. I throw away paper after paper and thing after meaningless thing tracked in by my kids from grandparents and church Sunday School projects and coloring sheets from the restaurant and plastic toys from McDonald's.

I feel like such a kill-joy, and have even had other parents ask if I let my kids keep **anything** at all. And after all the tossing, my home is no where near the simple beauty that your home is. ***sigh*** Please tell me you have really big closets that are stuffed full of everything LOL.

A Reader


Dear Reader,

Oh my, if you only knew how much pictures hide!!! I don't show rooms messy because I don't think anyone would be inspired by them. :)

messyhouse10Our island top at 8:30 a.m. this morning

I know I wouldn't be inspired by my decorating books and magazines if everything was shown in disarray. But of course, our house is not always like the pictures.

messyhouse4The “relaxed” state of our sofa most of the time.

Like everyone else, we make a mess, and then we clean it up. Our house is in a relatively messy state throughout the day, but the children do chores before dinner time, and things get back in order around that time.

messyhouse11A common sight on bedroom floors.

As to the specifics: mud. Well, our floors hide a TON of dirt! They really look dirty all the time because they are distressed and the dirt blends in. I hardly ever mop. Really!

messyhouse8Our stovetop does double duty as a drying rack.

The fur *is* on the furniture. It just doesn't show in pictures. There have been crayon marks, pen marks and marker marks on various surfaces throughout the house but Magic Erasers are my friend. Also we have a rule that the children do art at the tables and desks only. That helps.

messyhouse2Our banister after a few weeks of neglect. (yuck)

messyhouse7Our banister after a few swipes with the Magic Eraser. MAGIC.

The cats are outside and inside, so we have no litter boxes. The toys given to the kids go away very soon after they arrive. Really... we don't keep a lot of toys. I find the standard building/creative toys are the ones that keep, and the rest go. (legos, playmobil, dolls, art supplies, pretend toys, etc.)

Trust me... I toss constantly!!!! If I didn't, then things would get out of control, and then *I* would get out of control, and that's not a good thing.  So, I'm providing preventative maintenance. :)

messyhouse3The girl’s animals-making a scene in the armoire.   i.e. deprived kids being creative ;)

I don't have big closets… the secret is that we purge often. The kids will help with this. I'll tell them to take two bags in their for garbage, one for giving. They are quite good at filling them. I find they lose interest in a lot of toys, and they very easily part with the ones they’ve grown bored with.

Welcome to our reality!


  1. LOL!;) LOVED this post Rie~ Thanks for keeping it real!! Definetely my reality too~ My husband gets so annoyed with me because I am constantly tossing out and donating things on a weekly basis,and he wonders where things disappear to! Take care, Rachel :)

    French Farmhouse 425

  2. Thank you, Rie. You're right . . . no one would be inspired by seeing messy pictures all the time, but it sure is nice to know that someone with such a beautiful home lives in reality also : )!!

  3. Amen, sister! I love being real...and I was videotaping my little SweetCheeks the other day and realized that the floor around her was a mess and my magazines were stacked all willy-nilly and the counter had a pot holder hanging off it and I hesitated to post it because I had a brief moment of "what will people think"...the truth is that it doesn't matter because SweetCheeks was the star of that show...not my countertops. Things like that keep me humble! And, besides that, welcome to Motherhood-where life is NEVER perfect! Amen!

  4. I loved this slice of reality. It proves you are one of "us". However, your home is lovely even in a "real" state. :)

  5. Great post! We have the same rule about crayons/art projects. They stay at the kitchen table. Although we still find the odd crayon marks running down our hall!

  6. This is a good post for all of us to read. I do tire of all the perfect photos...even though I post them myself! But I have posted my messy kitchen sink overflowing with dishes and unruffled sofas. I do want to be 'real' but I do want to give beauty. BTW I have magic marker and I still can't get our grubby doors that clean!

  7. I did not mean I tire of your perfect photos but the perfect photos in general in Blogland. :)

  8. Kerrie-no worries! I knew what you meant. :)

  9. Hello,
    That is the way for us all - we live in our homes - constant cleaning, I say my job is picking up!
    But, we do share what inspires and what encourages - hope you have a wonderful day,

  10. This was a great post... In blog land we all put our best foot forward!!! ;-)
    I've have told many of my friends that 1 foot to any side of the pictures that they see on my blog usually has clutter or some sort of reality around it... I just choose to show the pretty /fun stuff. :-)

    We have the same rule about "art", it must stay at the table... although I will say that I have found crayon marks and chunks of play doh in other rooms before too! ;-)

    Magic Eraser... How do I love thee, let me count the ways!!!

    Thanks for the reality check!

  11. Love you, Rie. Absolutely love you.

  12. thank you Rie! as a mom of 4, about to start homeschooling, i am overwhelmed at how much JUNK there is! thanks for being real!

  13. What a refreshing post! It's a nice reality check for those of us with children (and/or husbands). I can't ever seem to find a place to "hide" the sit n' spin, strollers, cozy coupe cars, and other HUGE toys. Thanks for the constant inspiration and for the "real".

  14. Taking blog pictures is a wonderful way to keep your reality in check. I have taken what I thought were perfect pictures only to find a full laundry basket of {dirty} clothes in the background or dishes poking out of the sink. That's the real deal around here!

    Thanks for your honesty and sense of humor. And also, your great tips for staying organized.


  15. I really enjoy seeing "behind the scenes" shot of bloggers homes, because that makes everything more real. I do not think it is possible to keep a spotless, perfect home and still live in it (without tons of restrictions) and thats why it makes me happy to see the "lived in side" of a home as well.

    Also love how your child used the armoire as a home for the toys - I think you are totally right about less toys being better for creativity. I remember as a child that I created dolls beds out of cartoons, complete with posters and everything, simply because I was not given one and even though I would have loved the "real" one, I think the lack of it (and other things - although I had a lot of toys) made me train my creativity in a way that I benefit from today.

  16. What a "real" post ... love it and thank you! I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one who tosses regularly! And, thank God for Magic Erasers, right?! Thanks for sharing, Becca

  17. Thank you, thank you thank you!

    You're right, we wouldn't be inspired if you didn't clean up for good picture taking.....I would just look at my own house for a mess.

    Thanks for sharing the good, bad, & the ugly.

  18. Nice post to relate to. Nice to know that there are other mothers out there that do donate their children's toys when there are too many. I too also try to have the children go through their toy bins and get rid of the ones they do not play with. A messy room is not a fun room for a child to play in and they do not enjoy cleaning up a pile of toys that they do not play with anyway.
    You do have a beautiful home and it does look fresh, simple and so pulled together in your pictures, you know the kind, right from a magazine. Thanks for sharing your secrets.

  19. I totally and completely *HEART* this post! I honestly thought I was the only one who's kids brought home all kinds of JUNK from Grandmoms (she doesn't want it but somehow doesn't want us to throw it away! Hmm!). ...and accumulated stuff from all the family members! I feel so much better now! THANKS!

  20. So you ARE one of us! Glad to know it! :)

  21. GOD BLESS YOU!!!!

    You are as "Normal" as we are!!!

    Still, I love your house. SO peaceful, so Zen, so Rie!!! Perfect!!!!!

  22. thank you for showing your reality! you have inspired me (many times)

  23. Favorite post yet!! I think I love your house even more now!

  24. Thanks for posting this! While I love the inspiration your blog provides, this was a good post to remind me that it's ok to not have a picture perfect house every single hour of the day..(As pictures can deceive you into thinking) :)

  25. This is the real deal... LOL. We all know life goes on behind the scenes and sometimes it is refreshing to [me; mthr. of 4; 3 boys and a girl] see it-
    You are a dear... :)
    Happy Good Friday

  26. An occassional post like this, while not "inspiring", is certainly encouraging. Thanks so much for keepin' it real.

  27. Thank you for "keeping it real." It is always fun to see behind the scenes. your photos are great.

  28. those mr clean magic erasers are from heaven above!!
    i feel the same...while i keep our downstairs living area free of clutter, the girls rooms drive me nuts. they don't share the same OCD tidiness issues that i have. they are often times messy and one is a total slob. total slob!

    but thank you for some of your tips. i really need to encourage or "make. mama said so" my girls purge their busting at the seems closets more frequently.
    and the garage...heaven help me

  29. thanking you for "keeping it real." I love seeing pics you share of your home. I have two children. One going off to college and one that will be a senior next year. Our house ALWAYS looks lived in every room. I too often wondered how you do it.

  30. Love, love this post! I find I do the a lot of the same things. Sometimes I feel like people think I am crazy to keep things so clean and simple, but really, if they saw me without an organized home, then they would see me really crazy!
    You are so right about the toy thing too. It seems like the more stuff my kids have, the less they play and the more they fight. I think too much stuff does something to everyone!

  31. :) Real life has it's way of wrecking havoc with our blog-life,doesn't it, Rie?? lol! I think I've got stock in Magic Eraser, too.....

    Have a blessed Easter, friend!

    xoxo laurie

  32. LOVED this're right..we all like to get inspiration from neat, tidy, beautifully decorated homes, but it helps us all to feel normal if we also see each others reality.

    I posted a pic of our nasty laundry room that is in our garage a few months ago and got SO MANY COMMENTS. :)

    We purge often, too. My kids are experts at it. seriously, they love it.

  33. Thank you for this post, I feel so much better now!

  34. This was my favorite post!! Thanks for showing the other side! Your house when messy is still CUTE!! Love it.

    God bless, Lauren Crowther

  35. Love the reality of your life...I was hoping when my kids got beyond the crayons/markers stage and toys flowing everywhere...that my house would stay cleaner...I was totally wrong. My kids are adults now (still at home) and the house just gets messier:o( Of course I wouldn't have it any other way. I would just like to say thank goodness camera's exist:o)

  36. This is wonderful encouragement for me as I'm working on organizing and purging specific spaces in our home. Thank you esp. for the focusing standard about what kinds of toys to keep around - I need that! I think we get most stuck about whether to keep the "learning" toys the ones that teach letters, reading, music but are noisy? Anyway, I appreciate your blog so much.

  37. just stumbled upon your blog from Vintage Vine. I love your blog & cant wait to sit down with a cup of tea and read more!!!


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