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home, sweet (messy) home

    I pride myself on keeping a tidy home. When we lived with Ryan’s parents for a few months in between houses, my mother-in-law would chuckle at me each night as I did my post-kids-in-bed routine: combing the house for anything out of place, picking up stray toys, fluffing pillows, making sure dishes were done.  That was 7 years ago and the habit continues. Before I allow myself to sit down and relax, I pick up. Tidy surroundings put me at ease; clutter stresses me out.

    But do you know what happens when you have six people living in a house, the last two weekends spent out of town, baseball season in full swing, a dad with a full work schedule and a mom who said yes to a couple of extra design projects that took way more time than expected?



    and this:


    and this:



    It looks a little different than the pretty styled pictures I like to post.

    Our living room with pillows plumped and fresh flowers:


    The kitchen with countertops cleared and floors mopped.


    And our bedroom with bed made and night stands pretty:


    That’s the house I would prefer to live in. Picked up, sparkly-clean, everything in it’s place. Unfortunately, that’s not quite reality.

    I’ve been loving Myquillyn’s new book (do you have a copy yet?!!) and feel so comforted and inspired by her thoughts on what makes a home.

    Right towards the beginning of the book, Myquillyn shares about a friend who seemed to have it all together – she was outwardly beautiful, had a kind husband with a stable job, her kids were cute and house gorgeous –  you know the type – but she was terribly uncomfortable to be around. This kind of seemingly-perfect woman makes our glaring imperfections more obvious. And that does not feel good. Once you spend more time together and share real struggles, opening up about those imperfections, only then can a true friendship form.

    The same is true for a house. In Myquillyn’s wise words:

    When I walk into a house, my eyes immediately dart around hoping to find something imperfect so that I can know this is a house where I can be real. The truth is I’m just not comfortable in a house that seems perfect. I get distracted and start thinking all about myself. I wonder if I can move this pillow to sit down. I’d better have water to drink instead of wine in case I spill it. Instead of enjoying the company of the hostess, I worry about how to act in the presence of a person who seems to have it all together. I wonder what she must think of me and the mess that I am when her house is so beautiful.

    It finally dawned on me that if I’m not able to let my guard down in a perfect house, maybe others feel the same way. And if other people feel that way, why the heck was I working so hard to make our home appear to be perfect? True, I want our home to be welcoming. I want it to be comfortable. But welcoming and comfortable do not have to equal perfection.  (Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place, pages 56-57)

    Isn’t that so good? And true?!

    Our home is pretty. I enjoy decorating and have nice things. I can’t stop collecting pillows and fresh flowers make me smile. Taking styled photos of our house is fun and the fact that we’ve been in home magazines twice is beyond flattering.

    But the fact is: in this house, we do life.

    Stop by on a random afternoon and you’ll likely see a haphazard pile of shoes by the front door, crumbs all over the kitchen floor, paper scraps and lid-less markers covering the table. You might find stacks of laundry that have yet to be put away or suitcases still waiting (two weeks later) to be unpacked. You’ll see extra blankets made up on the floor next to our bed for a little girl who makes a habit of tiptoeing into our room because she can’t sleep. You’ll see scattered dog toys and unflushed toilets, a stack of mail and too many half-done projects.

    And maybe, instead of being impressed with my perfectly-plumped pillows and freshly cut flowers, you’ll notice the imperfections and signs of life and will scooch that pillow out of your way, plop down on the fancy couch and feel welcome here.

    Oh, I do hope so.

    That’s truly the kind of house I want to live in.

    Myquillyn is wise and talented (did you see her bedroom she just posted? It’s so good!) and generous, too. She’s been a blogging mentor of mine from the beginning – always so kind and encouraging – and I’m happy to call her my friend. I’m so excited about her beautiful book and after my nightly pick-up routine, I’m going to snuggle up on the couch and soak it all in.

    We’re giving away three copies of her new book, The Nesting Place.   You’ll love it, too, I’m sure.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Three random winners will be selected and notified via email (and I’ll post the winners here too).

    787 thoughts on “home, sweet (messy) home”

    1. Hi Emily, You have a lovely home, it looks very welcoming and lived in. :) My house always seems to be messy with piles of clutter glaring at me. As much as I’d love for it to be tidy and displaying pretty things I find it hard with two little girls who love to make a mess and who don’t put away their toys, craft, art etc etc.

    2. When all you young ladies grow older you will look around to your nice neat home with everything in place, listen for some kind of noise other than your own footsteps and wonder where the years went. You will wish for little feet with mud,messy rooms and lots of noise from family…don’t blink ladies – soon your house will be empty and no messes…enjoy the messes while you can…because someday you’ll be wishing there was a mess again!

    3. What a beautiful post. I, too, prefer a tidy house and also every night before bed straighten all of the rooms in the house, and clean the kitchen. With no kids, this is somewhat easier, but even so, life can be insane sometimes. I preordered this book and read through it in the first week and was so contented with what I found inside. It’s so nice to have all of those reminders that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

    4. Looks like a lot of living going on in your home! We are digging out after a very busy 2 weeks of dance theater rehearsals, exams, flooded basement and the dad / husband being gone. It ill take about that amount of time to dig the upstairs out! :) I do the end of the night pick up too but somehow those darn dishes multilpy while I sleep!

    5. I love the fact that you showed some less than perfect photos! I love your house and blog but have felt a little overwhelmed at times at how it always looks that way. Which, of course, it doesn’t (for some reason, even though I *know* that magazine spreads are unrealistic and a temporary view of that home, I still strive for my house to look that way all the time!). Anyway, the surest sign of life in our home is right inside the front door. For some reason, our kids enjoy our formal living room right off the foyer as the ideal cartwheel/flipping room (they both did gymnastics…) so the coffee table is always pulled out of the way and the cushions are all askew from the landings on the couch. Considering we live in Minnesota and we are snowed in for much of the year I don’t really mind as they need to move somehow inside! They get used to it and then like to use it like that a lot. I don’t really use the room for much else so a cartwheeling/flipping/karate practice room it is! Sometimes it looks a bit of a jumble when people come to the door but I don’t even explain anymore. Ha!

    6. Thank you for being so transparent…my house usually looks the same way! I’ve heard so many good things about the book – can’t wait to read it!

    7. Signs of life … dog hair (it’s constant and I can not win that battle … and our Daisy girl is worth it); 10 year old boy experiments, books, legos, etc; paper … schoolwork, catalogs, etc.

    8. This book looks like one I need!! Signs of life in my home – shoes, barbies, legos and more hair accessories than should ever be in one home!!!

    9. I needed to read this today! My kitchen is currently in shambles due to ants. The contents of my cabinets are currently strung throughout the kitchen and dining room floor and all I can think of is “Lord I pray no one stops by”. Yet my kitchen is lived in and its a great conversation starter… I suppose.

    10. Pitiful but sweet new plants trying hard to survive…a messy counter covered with leftovers from a wonderful party with friends…and a pile of clothes waiting to be packed and taken home on a family visit.

    11. When people stop by they will see my vintage sofa, still unfinished, my dining room project still in process and my kitchen island filled with stacks of mail!! I am REAL.

    12. One sign of life when others enter my home is the toilets! I live with four boys (three kiddos and a daddy), a true boy mom, and as much as I like to be a crazy cleaning girl to make sure my toilets are clean, it never fails…they can’t shoot the toilet target!

    13. Cereal dishes on the dining room table (and it’s 2:00pm), mail on my chair, pillows strewn, and a dishwasher that hasn’t been unloaded. It’s one of those days:)

    14. Trim halfway painted, laundry piled on the couch (some folded, some not) and baseball gear scattered…tis the season.

    15. While we were staying at my brother-in-law’s home temporarily, I became very aware of how quickly the Play-Doh found a home on the top of the refrigerator, kid snacks filled the cabinets, and we generally invaded! That was when this thought first occurred to me, “We LIVE in our house.”

    16. Signs of life in our house are shoes sticking to the floor that needs washing and lots of dust. And random little toys on the floor of every room. We had lots of company last night and I purposely didn’t dust or vac or pick up all the toys before for the very specific purpose of keeping it real!!

    17. Love the Nester!
      We live on a farm, in an old house (just old, old- not cool old) and the dirt is EVERYWHERE. I’ve decided life is too short and kids grow too fast to be constantly cleaning.

    18. Signs of life…. Far too much mess… How can four people collect so much stuff and create so much each week! Our formal dining table is piled with the stuff!

    19. Signs of life come in the form of messy shoes by the door and lately (because it’s spring!) a few pots and seedlings that haven’t quite made their way outside yet! Lovely giveaway!

    20. Depending on the time of day, one might find homeschooling in process, toddler toys, and dog toys (and dog toys that are also toddler toys . . .) earlier in the day replaced by the never ending dishes in the evening. We try to maintain some semblance of sanity, but spotless we are not.

    21. Hi Emily,

      I’m working on building a small online business, and as I have been searching through entrepreneurs blogs and sites, I thought of you. You have built a very successful, sustainable, thriving business, just by being you, and I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind doing some teaching or posts about how you did it.

      I’m thinking things like: building your email list, platforms you use for your classes and product sales, taxes, and other lessons you learned along the way.

      I’d love to know how the process has been for you.

      Thanks Emily! {ps–thanks for showing the real deal house! :) }

    22. Thank you for such a refreshing post and for sharing your pictures! The. Nesting Place sounds like a book I would love- if I’m not lucky enough to win it, I’ll be buying it. Visitors to our house definitely have a dose of reality- life is very busy and I am never on top of the laundry whilst my daughters scatter books and drawing materials all over the house. On the upside. I’ve almost always just baked some goodies and there is a great tea selection!

    23. Signs of life at my house….shoes at the front door and shoes at the back door…we are in and out all day long. And fingerprint art on the bathroom mirror…my kids can’t keep their fingers off the mirror when it fogs up from hot showers :)

    24. The sign of life you will find at my home would be the sweet new puppy that will greet you and all her toys strewn about. You might even find one of my husband’s running shoes chewed up (he was not too happy about that!).

    25. Thanks for being real! We’ve got piles of papers and piles of dishes (no dishwasher…well, that would be me).

    26. At our house, you’ll definitely find Lego pieces and probably step right on one. Oh, and lots of lonely, dirty socks.

    27. Piles of shoes by the back door, crumbs on the kitchen floor and heaps of homework/mail/school paperwork on the kitchen island…always!

    28. Lots of piddly things in the wrong place…likely along with laundry in some part of the process of being folded, sorted, or put away…

    29. A messy home is always a fun home… when we have a tidy place is because we have anything else to do… better messy than boring!! Love your place!

    30. I love having a clean organized house. I don’t function well in chaos, but I have learned to let things go and not worry if everything isn’t perfect all the time, especially when someone drops by. I am so excited to read The Nester’s book.

    31. Oh my, at my home someone would see clothes being dragged around by my son in his walker. Dog paw tracks on our wooden floors, discarded princess dresses in the living room.

    32. Dust. No matter how hard or how many times I dust, it just don’t go away. That a dust bunnies on our hard wood floors. Ugh. Great post, btw. So encouraging.

    33. Can’t wait to read this book! I’m working on accepting my home’s imperfections, and stop worrying about what it looks like to anyone else.

    34. as much as I admire your styled photos and practically drool over them when you do house tours, and as much as I love the inspiration I get from all your beautiful pictures… i have to say, i love love love when you do posts from the heart and really open up to show the realness behind the blog. even in chaos, you still find the beauty and I love that!

      when you come in our door, you are greeted by the sweetest bull dog who happens to have a big hello… and you’ll probably trip over a pair of ballet flats or rain boots while trying to keep him from jumping on you.

    35. A “sign of life” always present in my home would be debris on the floor: crumbs, dust, and/or hair. I always spot something, even just after cleaning! I loved seeing pictures of your house when it isn’t staged, and the reminders in this post are much needed!!! Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration. I really do want to read this book.

    36. You will find the daily newspaper strewn on the dining room table, and maybe an unmade bed from time to time! And of course, a few dishes in the sink :-)

    37. A stack of magazines and cookbooks on the coffee table. I never quite get through them! I have really enjoyed your blog. Thank you for making the time for it. Be well.

    38. In our house, you’ll likely find crusty peas on the floor (because our little one is learning how much fun it is to throw food), my husband’s bike helmet, shoes and sweaty workout clothes dropped by the door, and at least one dish in the sink (usually more!) because I can never keep up with it all, even with a dishwasher.

    39. Thanks for that. I always felt that if my house wasn’t perfect then I wasn’t measuring up. The problem my house is hardly ever perfect; only when no one is home.

    40. Thank you so much for the chance to win a copy of the book. I have been intending to add reading back into my evening routine as it seems that pastime has slipped by the wayside with the hectic schedule that comes with having children. This book seems the perfect place to reconnect with that old, lost habit. There are many signs of life you would find immediately upon entering our home, depending upon the time of day and/or day of the week….they include random piles of kids shoes kicked off immediately inside the front door; former plumped pillows, now rumpled and smooshed on the chaise in the parlor; the window sheer in the front window that my son keeps pulling down as he watches out the window (it’s on a tension rod); random dog toys left wherever she or one of the kids dropped them; mail on the foyer dresser waiting to be sorted through; a kid’s backback on a foyer chair; and I could go on and on….! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your “real” house, it is somehow comforting to see.

    41. You will certainly find dirty cleats and dog toys galore. The things that can no longer be found are the school books and sports paraphernalia of my eldest son. He’s away at college. He attends the US Coast Guard Academy in CT and will most likely never live at home again. I’m very proud of his decision to serve our country, but I long for the days of having to pick up after him. Don’t lose sight of what’s important. Make sure that your home has a story to tell when people walk through your front door. Sometimes imperfection is the most perfect thing in the world.

    42. Love it. Especially about making others feel comfortable. “Seek to bless but not impress” is a sign I have in my kitchen. It’s trite, but oh, so true. I appreciate seeing your house looking “real,” Emily.

    43. What one sign of life will visitors find when they stop by your home?

      toys – we have 3 little boys and you have to walk past their toy room into the rest of the house

    44. We live in a mobile home and space is limited, so the dining room table will have my current project spread across it, there will be piles of dirty laundry in the hallway with one or two baskets of clean wash waiting to be folded, and our bed will NEVER be made!!

    45. There are so many signs of life, I’m not sure where to begin.
      I’m a stay at home mom of two under two. That alone describes mess on every surface doesn’t it? Dirty diapers that haven’t found their way to the trash quite yet because the screaming from the hall sounded more than an excited squeal. Bottles piling in the sink because who has time to wash after every feeding? Blow-out onsies in every sink because it’s teething time. Toys galore because grandma lives to close and likes to “spoil her babies” because “she can”… ugh NO MOM enough is enough please! And that’s just the beginning of the kids.
      Then there’s the cat who loves to leave her hair on every possible surface to fight battles with my own hair that falls out at an above average rate.
      And that doesn’t leave time for my farm boy husband who leaves mud boot dropping as he hurries through the house for the 13th time looking for whatever it is he forgot… wait is that mud or cow droppings? I don’t know ask Stella she just ate it!
      So needless to say we don’t have fluffed pillows or perfectly scrubbed floors… EVER!
      I’m happy if the beds get made and the mud (or questionable animal #2’s) get picked up and meals get served at a reasonable time everyday. We have a very “lived-in” home for the near future but I dream of one day living in a home that screams comfort, cozy, welcoming, stylish, glamorous, perfectly kept. For now I’ll be happy with the days that are just clean.

    46. Our one year old’s toys. A tea set, farm animals, Tupperware containers from “her” cupboard in the kitchen. Before we had children I would have been worried about the mess but her signs of life are welcome and precious to me. :)

    47. I do love the feeling of a clean house. Just wish I didn’t have all of the papers (work, school, mail, etc.) that are always so difficult to keep up with!

    48. I used to want no toys in bedrooms only, but after having 2 boys, it seems pointless. We just now make sure their toys have a designated space in each room. But there will always be some strayed hot wheel lying around!

    49. Happy to say that with three boys, my house has always been painfully honest in its appearance. They are at once a breath of fresh air and a tornado moving from room to room :-)

    50. Visitors will see a well “lived-in” house. 2 working parents with 2 very active female teenagers = not a lot of time to make things look the way I want them to. But I’m learning to enjoy life amid the disarray, for one day soon I will have more time than I want to put things in place. :)

    51. Baseball cleats on the tray, baseball hats on the counter (from all 3 of my kids). Backpacks, books, Lalaloopsy dolls and their pets all over the place and for some strange reason – socks – my kids leave their socks EVERYWHERE! I too find a tidy house nice and relaxing, but sometimes at the end of the day – after working from home for our own business, being the parent club vice-president (with more volunteering than I ever thought humanly possible) and the numerous baseball practices and games.. I AM TIRED and just want to head to bed to read a book. The nights I do this, I sincerely regret it in the am – but it’s life and it happens! I would love to win this book.

    52. Toys, toys, toys!! I have a toddler and we have toys everywhere during the day. We clean up before nap time and after dinner time, but otherwise, when we’re home, there’s always signs of life. It’s been a tough transition for me, who is tidy and likes a clean and put-together home, but I’m trying to learn to relax and let life happen, especially if it helps others feel more welcomed in my home.

    53. I grew up in a very tidy, clean and organized house that my Mom made sure stayed that way. She hated clutter and held giant garage sales every year. Our house was pretty, but sometimes my friends commented that it didn’t look ‘lived in’. It made them uncomfortable. Even my husband thought that after his first visit to her house.

      The phrase “signs of life” is so fitting! I loved my Mom but she never liked leaving signs of life around her house. And I don’t take after her in that respect–my house definitely looks lived in–sometimes a little too much! Yes we have ‘stuff’ and it gets cluttered at times, but the important thing is it’s full of love and stuff that tell a story of all the wonderful times we’ve spent together. Our friends (and my children’s friends, now in their 20s) always seem so comfortable in our house, and it’s important to me that they feel at home.

      Sometimes I stress out over the messiness and lack of space (it’s a small house) but next time I’m frantically cleaning and wondering what to do with everything, I’m going to concentrate on a balance between pretty and signs of life. Thank you, and the book sounds like a great read!

    54. You will certainly find dirty cleats and dog toys galore. The thing that can no longer be found are the school books and sports paraphernalia of my eldest son. He’s away at college. He attends the US Coast Guard Academy in CT and will most likely never live at home again. I’m very proud of his decision to serve our country, but I long for the days of having to pick up after him. Don’t lose sight of what’s important. Make sure that your home has a story to tell when people walk through your front door. Sometimes imperfection is the most perfect thing in the world.

    55. You will always find toys and books all over from my toddler son. He can’t stand if they are in shelves or his toy tub :)

    56. My visitors will find toys on the floor, scattered around my fabulous “key” floormat from Target, and a lovely candle burning to distract from all the dishes sitting on the kitchen counter.

    57. What one sign of life will visitors find when they stop by your home? Oh my goodness, shoes glorious shoes from my husband and me {mostly me! :)} by the front door and a lovable golden retriever named Reece who will greet you with enthusiasm!

    58. I encourage our children to have friends over and to have the house lived in. I try to keep it clean and decorated , but reality hits and it gets messy and i forget to take decorations from holidays down. Easter decor is still up as I type…

    59. Thanks for that post, and being so real.

      I live in a farmhouse on a hill. We’ve lost most of our mature trees due to high winds and age. (Box elder trees grow large and tall and shady…But not heathy and hardy!) All around our little one-acre plot, there are hundreds of acres of farm fields. If you were to enter my home on any given day, you will see dust and dirt. I clean daily, but there just doesn’t seem to be a way to keep it out of our home. We almost always take our shoes off at the door, but somehow, it finds it’s way in. In the summer, it’s much worse. Our screened windows keep the bugs out, but not the dust and dirt!

    60. With two little ones and two dogs our house is full if signs of life. Great reminder that we need to be real and stop the shame of not living perfect lives. The crumbs, pet hair, messy counters, art supplies, messed beds and toys are signs that people truly live here.

    61. Cushions. Loads of them all over the floor. No matter how many times I put them on the couch, they magically appear on top of the carpet or on the floor. Magic!

    62. When guests arrive to my home they will find dog toys scarfed about the house rather than children’s toys because we have jt yet been blessed with little ones. They often will find a few dishes in the sink because I am amazed at the amount of dirty plates two people can make in a day! And when they go upstairs, if I have recently washed the bedding, they will more than likely find the duvet and comforter piled on our bed because I find that stuffing the duvet with the comforter is quite the task… And probably pretty funny for others to watch! And there is almost always some half finished project on our table out on the patio! Our house is well loved, well cared for, but life happens in our home every day and I love it that way.

    63. It is so nice to see the imperfections! My house is far from a model home! It is a home where my kids toys are out (or quickly shoved in bins) and my kitchen table is frequently covered in glue and paint, throw blankets are all over being turned into forts or “nests” and life is lived.

    64. I currently live in the “rent house” we sold our house in October, and built a house…2 days from closing we walked away for many reasons, even though I lovedddd that house it wasn’t ever meant to be MY HOUSE. We’re currently trying to figure out our next step and this just reminds me that it doesn’t have to be the “perfect” house, it just needs to be OUR perfect comfortable home that is welcoming and inviting! Thanks for the reminder!

      But currently there are boxes and dog hair and things EVERYWHERE! ALL THE TIME!

    65. Wish I had not been so uptight about a clean and tidy house when all the kids were home. When the grand kids come to visit, we just let them do their thing. Toys all over, forts out of quilts, and snacks half eaten in the kitchen. People are more important!!!

    66. They will usually find some dishes waiting by the sink (shrug…). I don’t love that for them, but our kitchen is open to the rest of the living space, and our family of four can end up running the dishwasher twice most days. With 2 meals a day at home, and packing lunches, that’s a lot of dishes, utensils, containers, and water bottles! It’s just life. I try to keep it tidy-ish – rinse the dishes and stack them neatly – but there’s almost never not a dish there.

    67. We have three active teenagers with a lot of friends so anytime you stop by be prepared to see backpacks on the floor, school books, stacks of laundry to be taken upstairs, snacks and drinks sitting out, sports equipment, dance bags, etc.! I try to pick up every day but like you said, we do life here!

    68. We are in the midst of packing to move, and my house looks like it has exploded. Lots of clutter bothers me, and this is driving me nuts. Then I started worrying about someone knocking on our door and happening to see my “pit” of a house. So…Thank you for this post! It was just what I needed to read today.

    69. When people stop by they often find laundry on the couch waiting for someone to care to put it away, baking going on in the oven and the remnants of flour and sugar on the counter, an ongoing project left on the kitchen table. But hopefully they’ll find a warm greeting at the front door by one of us and a welcome to come and sit and stay a while. I feel like life is in process- my home, me and my family. So when people come they are free to be in process too!

    70. There are many forms of life that can be found! And this is what I mean: I have an 14 month daughter so there are toys and books everywhere, we are missionaries in Reynosa and our paper work and planners are on the table. I love a clean I tidy home but then our love our home, sweet MESSY home! It’s real and what you delisted from the book and that feeling is so true! I want people to feel welcomed but at the same time not be like holy cow this lady needs a maid! I tend to the house as much as possible but sometimes a nap is much more needed!! Thank you for sharing this wonderful book! Hopefully I have a chance to win a copy and if not I will definitely be purchasing one, soon I hope! Much love!!

    71. It does get overwhelming sometimes. With 3 kids and a busy schedule, I had to give up perfection a long time ago. But that doesn’t stop me from making excuses when people come over. I’m still trying to let go of my perceived expectations and just live in the moment. :)

    72. My kids always seem to leave their socks lying around, tossed behind the couch or under the ottoman!

    73. I encourage my kids to run to the door and scream the name of the person who’s coming over and give them a huge welcome, without fail it puts a smile on their faces.

      I wish I could pick up everyday, 3 kids and a home business make it tough so I clean during the day and involve the kids, then by the time they’re in bed the house is clean and I get straight to work. :)

    74. I once attended a workshop in Ridgecrest, NC that “the Nester” gave. I painted my BR a color she uses.

    75. Oh and to add… my 2 year old can’t sleep either… we always spend the night bed hopping so I like the idea of having a ready made bed for when he can’t sleep. I do so love waking up next to his warm fluffy head and I know it won’t be for long.

      We must enjoy our little loved ones for life is too short (I say).
      We give them roots, we give them wings and then one day they fly away.

      Much love xxx

    76. Gosh what a heartwarming honest and open post. – Thank you :)

      You know we all strive to be the best for ourselves, our partners, our kids. We put such demands on ourselves, we try to do it all never delegating (I cannot delegate, I MUST do it all myself) but we are one person trying to do it all whilst taking time for personal reflection and prayer, meditation or whatever small thing keeps us sane.

      I have 3 kids, I am trying to set up my own company and my hubby (who I call Mr Big) has a very powerful and demanding job (thankfully one he loves and thrives on and is damn good at) which takes him away for days at a time at the last minute, often unplanned, so I am left to manage home / work / school alone.

      It’s a stress I never knew I would be under when all those years ago I fell in love with my childhood sweetheart and we went through university together and then got married. Life was simple then, but it was just us. Now we are five and it’s hectic crazy and I am always trying to squeeze as much into my day as possible and sometimes the day turns into night and I find myself up at 1am chasing my tail.. consequently my house is constantly in turmoil, I am constantly tired and things just don’t function well. I am cranky and spotty, I look a mess (I used to be so perfectly preened, my best friends said I looked like Drew Barrymore, now I look like a bag lady).

      I am forever picking things up and stressing about the mess (like you mess and clutter stresses me out). It just goes on and on and seems to get worse… argh… even writing this stresses me out.

      *and relaaaaax*

      After reading this blog here I decided to take matters into my own hands and start a mammoth de-clutter.

      I have been around the house seeing how we use the rooms and re-purposing them properly. I am still in the throes of boxing and bagging up things we don’t need or use and taking them off to charity shops. I have encouraged the local school to have a charity textile bin so that we can all give back something that we no longer need. I have forewarned the kids that the playroom will go because they don’t use it, only to dump the toys in. Instead it will be MY office and craft room my little sanctuary, and the small room I currently use as my office will become a reading nook for those who want quiet time outside of the bedroom and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They have enough space (how much space do 3 little people need?!). I am excited about this and I have to say YOU have inspired me to carry on… I was feeling a bit “meh” a bit low, having just had an operation I have lost my mojo. But your post has put the zing back and reminded me I MUST carry on.

      So thank you.

      I LOVE your writing with a passion and you know, if our houses are a bit messy for a while, we shouldn’t worry… it wont ever be for long, and if it is – who cares (um I do…). Sometimes other circumstances prevail and we need to sort these out. As mums we are pretty good at prioritising (and I am getting better at delegating as well… I must realise cannot do it all myself.)

      I’m not superwoman… yet.

      But maybe one day I will be…

      Until then even if my house is messy I vow to continue using my True Grace tea tree and citrus candles, to have fresh flowers and coffee and to take time each week to sit down for a minute catch up on your fab writing.

      Love and thanks xx

    77. Thank you so much for this post! It is so easy to look at blogs and believe that messy, imperfect houses aren’t a reality for everyone. This was a blessing to me!

    78. Oh goodness- well this morning it’s the college girl’s two weeks worth of laundry she didn’t do during finals on the laundry room floor, cupcakes and vases flowers for my preschool moms tea today, stacks of mail on the kitchen table, and sofa cushions askew due to the high schooler’s lounging habits. And it’s all stAying like that until the weekend, I would imagine. Can’t wait to read the book!
      X Heidi

    79. i love tidy houses and fresh flowers , and fluffy pillows, and baked cookies…but……most of the days … you will find unfinished craft projects .. magazines, and supplies … laying around my place waiting for the inspiration… or the time…!!! ;)

    80. I have the same routine everynight, thankfully I have only one kid :)))) but still I cannot sit and relax reading book, blogs in iPad, writing post or watching TV is there is clutter around -no, no, no!!! But I do have clutter :)

      love your post with reality check :) you do that often which makes you so, so cool

    81. When my 3 boys walk in the door after school their shoes come off and mainly end up tossed in a basket by the door. Backpacks are another story! Usually the floor is littered with backpacks. If I don’t remind them their backpacks will remain in the middle of a room all day and sometimes all weekend.

    82. I am forever picking up dirty socks. I have four boys and the first thing they do when they get home from school or come in from playing is take off their shoes and leave their socks in the middle of the floor. If you stopped in right now I wager there would be at least one pair that I missed picking up.

    83. So perfectly stated!!! That’s awesome! I completely agree! Homeschooling 3 means this 24/7 loved in home can look drop-dead crazy! But it’s perfect peace I’m after, not a perfect home! ;)


    84. I find great comfort knowing I’m not alone in this vast world all connected by the internet in my feelings – I get the boosts I often need in everyday life from reading a blog/blogs about others who go thru what Im sure we all go thru and we all deal with things in our different ways-including the state/mess/chaos of our home-so next time I walk in my front door and look at my dining room table loaded with sewing machines, art paper, fresh flowers and more random paraphernalia I am going to try very hard not to berate myself for not having a tidy table but pride myself in having a space to be who I am and wish my friends the same feeling xxxxx

    85. arts and crafts, piles of schoolwork, cards to be sent, batman and spiderman costumes… and SHOES! real life is lived within these walls!

    86. I chuckled to myself when I read about unflushed potties at your house… I’ve always thought I had the only kids who do that! Thanks for keeping it real. <3

    87. Legos everywhere! We have a casual, lived in home and I love it. My little ones will only be little for a short time. I have the rest of my life to have a clean home.

    88. Sign of life in my home…
      -an overflowing sink with dirty dishes and a dishwasher I keep forgetting to turn on
      -Matchbox cars lined up along the tile lines in our entry, kitchen, mudroom
      -suction cup arrows stuck to the floor to make an obstacle course for the cars
      -dress up clothes that have been discarded along the way up the stairs or down to the basement
      -tea parties set up on any and most flat surfaces
      -schooling materials piled on our buffet, moved around and restacked each day
      -crayon and marker traces on the kitchen table from doing school
      -laundry (clean, at least!) spilling out of the baskets, waiting to be folded and laid on top of dressers, but never put away in said dressers, that will end up back in the laundry room the next week, or sooner
      -SHOES piled by

      I have a feeling The Nester’s book would help me give myself some grace, without the un-doneness of it ruling me. That would be a lovely thing.

    89. I need tidy, too but doing life is better than perfectly plumped pillows every day of the week. I love this post and am dying to read the book. Thank you for always sharing so genuinely.

    90. When people come to visit I hope they’ll find a laid back and relaxed place to hang out and chat! And that they will f ind all the home improvement projects we have going on (clutter from unpacking and paint brushes and random power tools, everywhere) charming! My husband and I (newlyweds!) just moved into our first home about eight months ago and we are slowly making this house “ours”. (:

    91. Ahhhh! Loved this post. Thanks for sharing.. I pictured your house may always look perfect and I wondered how you did it. ;) XO

    92. We make wooden spoons….I have them all over our kitchen! They definitely tell a tale at our house! Thanks for the chance to win!

    93. Not many signs of life can be found at my house right now…our house is on the market, and we were told that it was best this way. It makes me sad. Normally you will find random dog toys, cherished quilts, and family photos, in addition to our normal minor chaos. :-)

    94. Lots of shoes, coats, dust bunnies, and piles show that our house is well lived in. These are the things I struggle daily to stay on top of, and like you said, on days when our routine is out of sorts due to travel, sporting events, etc., the shoes multiply, the coats are strewn about, the dust bunnies accumulate faster than ever, and the piles grow higher. But we are living life and enjoying it.

    95. Our home will definitely looked lived in…shoes, books & papers laying around…and most likely a few dishes in the sink!

    96. Good reminder that we’re not perfect, so why pretend to be??? I can never stay ahead of the toys, books, socks, dog hair, and stacks of papers all over my house, but yes, we live here! I’m trying to accept it, but I usually can’t function until I at least have something organized!

    97. You will find dog and cat prints on my floors…we have five little critters and that makes a lot of extra little prints but I wouldn’t change it for the world. People with extremely clean houses are missing out on so many things in life and life’s too short!

    98. Even your “messy” house looks beautiful! I wish I could say our home was clean and tidy all of the time, but it’s just not. I have resigned myself to this and will try to embrace it until my little ones are older!

    99. Thanks for being real. On any given day visitors at nuestra casa will encounter an array of shoes, dog hair and miscellaneous toys and crafting tidbits (spare cut pieces of fabric etc). They will also encounter the joyous sounds of children enjoying life, sincere smiles and two furry animals who love to be pet (one white and one black to coat clothes in whatever color confetti is best suited to said visitor’s outfit ;0)).

    100. What a wonderful reminder not to stress about being “perfect” but to enjoy life… even if that means a messy home.

    101. one sign of life…many signs more like it ;) half eaten bagel on the island, shoes strewn about in the mudroom, blankets untidy on the couch…i could go on and on…

    102. last night I had 20 dear women over to my house and since we didn’t know each other very well, we made lists of things we LOVE and then shared our lists. So fun! My #1 was “soft-focus cleaning.” Which is when I clean without my glasses on. Which is always.

    103. This post hit a note with me – I also feel stressed out when my home is cluttered. I cannot sit down and relax until the toys are picked up, the dishes are done, the beds are made….. But I am trying to accept some mess in my life, because the only way my home would be clean and tidy all the time was if no one was ever here….a mess means family and life and love live in my home, and I have to learn to accept it all. And some days that means ignoring the doghair on the floor and crumbs on the table and socks on the floor, because I have a house full of family that I love!

    104. What would people see if they stopped by my house….. at 10pm there is still 2 kettles in the sink from dinner….but the good thing is the dishes are in the dishwasher running ;) we moved 8 months ago and I still have pictures sitting on the floor propped against the wall in a number of rooms :(

    105. Besides my husband and two sons, it will be the stack of papers on my kitchen counter that I sometimes shove in a paper bag when people come over. Thanks for the chance to win. I love Myquillyn!

    106. I too function so much better when my home is clean and neat. I spend much of my day straightening and neatening up. Then the kids come home from school, my husband comes home from work. There are shoes, back packs, jackets, wallets, briefcases, laptops strewn everywhere. Snacks are had, crumbs are spread. All my efforts seem futile. But my daughter unfailingly comments every day after school, “the house looks so clean and smells so fresh Mom!” I wouldn’t give up all the signs of life from a big active family to keep a neat house all the time. I love that my family loves to be home living life together. I can always straighten things up again tomorrow morning, for my own peace of mind! I think when friends do drop by, they do appreciate a neat house, but you are right, they feel so much more comfortable to see that I’ve left the dinner dishes undone too.

    107. This blog post is such a wonderful reminder to me. I was once told, “It is foolish to strive for perfection, because you will never be perfect. Instead, strive for excellence.” I try to remember that, but I too get caught up in looking at appearances of perfection. Thanks for the great post and the chance at the give away.

    108. Mail on the table, food/plates on the table, purse, keys, random toys on the table. Life happens in the kitchen!

    109. I have 2 dogs, two cat and three birds….signs of life – chirping, barking and a bit of meowing, fur and feathers float freely some days!

    110. Visitors are likely to find footprints covering my wood floors, kids’ shoes scattered haphazardly throughout, and hopefully a wonderful smell wafting in the air :)

    111. You will find signs of children ages 8-23 and two parents who try to keep it all together. Signs of trying, loving, blending our family, plenty, I mean plenty of black dog hair on my new rug, piles of stuff that belongs in other rooms that I daintily pile up and nobody else seems to notice, projects 80% done. Clutter, physical and emotional, which means I guess we are totally normal. That’s what you’ll see, normal. I try so hard to be the perfect mom and organizer of the household, but I succeed and fail miserably all in one day and that’s okay.

    112. Dog fur! We have two sizable, shedding dogs and no matter what I do, I can never keep the house completely fur-free. So it’s always here – and I’m working on accepting it :-)

    113. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co

      Newspapers, mail, shoes, jackets, unmade beds, in-progress projects – all signs of life at my house!

    114. Bicycles. We live in a flat. And our transportation is stored inside ;) … so you might also be greeted by rub marks on the walls, tread marks on the stairs and helmets tossed down on top of shoes. If not that to surprise you, then the food grease stains on top of the shoe bench cushion from the times my teens set their snacks down on their way out the door.n

    115. DUST! We live in dry southern California and, unless it’s raining, it’s dusty. No matter how I try I can’t keep ahead of it. I, too, had one of those moments when I was in my friend’s house and I saw… DUST! Immediately, I was put at ease.

    116. Like the John Legend song says – “All your perfect imperfections …”. They are everywhere!! A dish or two in the sink. Couch pillows askew. And the best – I haven’t reset the oven and microwave clocks after a power outage! Blinking, blinking, blinking the wrong time!

    117. Lived in? Dogs exuberantly greeting; paperwork on the desk; treasured “stuff”, pictures, and paintings all around; books and magazines in process of being read. The kitchen and bathrooms are clean. Generally there are places to sit without moving something. I would say that a welcoming attitude, genuine pleasure to see the guest, and interest in them rather than worry about the house is the most important thing.

    118. At our house you will always find dog hair from our furry friends. No matter how much mopping and vacuuming I do there is always some fur floating around!!

    119. Well, I’m already receiving your blog via e-mail and enjoy it greatly. But, in order to enter it looks as if I have to subscribe again and then there’s supposed to be an additional way to enter which does not show up. At any rate, count me in. The book looks very interesting.

    120. I used to be the same way each night, and then life got crazy one day and I stopped. I would love my house to look perfect all the time, but with 2 creative little girls and a 3 week old, you can find scissors, paper, markers, old mail, diapers, blankets, beads and socks scattered throughout my house. And don’t get me started on the hubby :)

    121. My house usually has piles around too. I am glad to know that others struggle with keeping things picked up. There are only so many hours in the day and we are all just human. Thanks for keeping it real!

    122. I love a tidy house, but I agree with you, it is more important to have others feel comfortable and welcome. It seems like stacks of papers are always popping up around here!

    123. I am trying to forget perfection and embrace what imperfections mean: a living room filled with toys is evidence of my beautiful, healthy daughter and her vivid imagination; there are dishes in the sink because we’ve been blessed with the means to make (lots of) yummy meals; piles of laundry exist because my hubby and I prefer to spend time together without doing laundry sometimes. I am truly grateful for all that I have, but most of all I am grateful for who I share it with. :)

    124. Half-filled mugs, tossed blankets, shoes and books – everywhere :) – this post was a comforting reminder that perfection is not all it seems!

    125. Unfortunately, there are waaaay more signs of life at my home than I would like! Living in a very tiny cabin with my two little girls is a constant challenge to unclutter and re-organize. On the positive side, you will usually find at least two or three of these signs of life- something baking, a candle burning, windows and doors wide open, flowers on the table, or two pink bicycles tripping you up on the sidewalk!

    126. pillows all over the floor, half chewed on books that the puppy claimed as hers. backpacks on the floor and not on their hooks. I love our home and it is so full of joy. I have to remember to not let those little things stress me out or lose sight of the truly important things

    127. I’m a chronic straighten-upperer, too, but since my little girl was born in February a lot has been out of place, especially her bottles! Oh my, we find them all over.

    128. Great post! I can so relate to your comment “Tidy surroundings put me at ease; clutter stresses me out.” I think it is very hard to find that balance when you truly prefer, and feel better, in an orderly and clean home. That becomes a challenge when your family expands to include children. You want them to be at home in their home too. A life changing moment for me was when preparing for my daughters 6th birthday. Cleaning and doing more than necessary to make our home the way I like it, my sweet daughter broke down in tears and said “I would rather not have a party, it is too stressful”. You can bet that dramatically changed my ideas and party planning. My children are now grown and I can say we had many great parties. I can say too that it makes a lot more sense to mop the floors after the party, not before. No one will notice the floors if it’s a good party!

    129. First, I love the whole premise of this book and will definitely have to purchase a copy if I’m not lucky enough to win one. No matter how hard I try, papers and receipts still end up piled on part of our kitchen counter and clean laundry ends up stacked on the dryer for days before it is finally carried back to the bedroom.

    130. As you walk through my front door you’ll find shoes scattered throughout the house, rumpled pillows, some clean laundry ready to be put away, and of course my “pile” of current projects and home management stuff.

    131. You will always see bags, jackets, purses, hats on the hooks in our kitchen. There is almost always a pile on our desk in the kitchen of various things that haven’t found a home yet.

    132. Visitors at my house come away thinking that this woman must be involved in many things. There are usually items for events that I have responsibilities for at my office. Decorations, brochures under construction, card making supplies, items that need to be delivered to my aging parents, things to return and dishes drying in the drainer on the counter. They laugh too because I usually have notes written in large letters on bright green paper telling what to do with each pile that dots our home!

    133. An ever growing pile of shoes by the front door and diaper bags, book bags & reusable totes hung on every possible door knob it seems.

    134. I too used to do the quick clean up routine once everyone went to bed. Wipe down the kitchen and the bathrooms, put everything in its’ place. I like to get up to a nice clean house in the morning. Then my kids became teenagers and began to stay up later than me. It became impossible to wake up to a clean house because they made nachos or popcorn late at night and of course did not wipe down everything and clean up after. I now do the quick clean up whenever I get the chance throughout the day. We are just busy living life and I do not want to be a mother that does not rejoice at my kids whipping up the best nacho recipe or chile dog. When they are gone off to live their lives and leave me behind then I can have a clean house. Until then I am loving the messiness of a busy house.

    135. No matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to get rid of all the dog hair. So, sorry folks…here’s a lint roller? :)

    136. First, I want to say thank you for sharing real life. It is so helpful to know that we are really all so much alike! I, too, always want our home to be spotless and to look like it belongs in a magazine, but I am trying to come to the realization that with three growing boys ages 5,7, and 13, this is not reality! I work hard to teach them to pick up after themselves, but on any given day I am sure you will find toothbrushes still out, toothpaste in the sink, shoes strewn about, toys, plenty of crumbs under the chairs, paper airplanes on tables,…oh, and laundry that doesn’t put itself away! I can’t wait to get a copy of the book you shared!

    137. I have 2 young kids, right now if you popped by, you will find the house strewn with toys. I am Thankful for my children :)

    138. You will probably trip on my husband’s shoes, see dog hair on the floor, always dishes in the sink, and papers on the table and couch. But it is our home and we try our best to pick up each day!

    139. This first thing you’ll see is puppy nose prints on the front glass door. You don’t even have to take a step inside to know perfection doesn’t live here. :)

    140. Our living room has been overtaken by a baby play yard. In my attempt to keep our little one and his toys contained, we have lost the use of much of the living room.

    141. Laundry that needs folding thrown on to the guest bed, throw rugs now being used for chilly evenings aren’t get folded but rather just thrown on the lounge chair someone vacated to go to bed, dishwasher in a constant state of ‘is this clean or is this dirty… no idea.. throw it in anyway and I’ll just run it again because I truly can’t remember!’

    142. The item that is out of place at my house is my puppy’s water bowl. And an occasional jacket left on a chair.

    143. The Nester has always been such an inspiration to me! As far as a perfect home…I’m not even close! And, like you said and she said, I think people enjoy seeing real life when they come into my home. I had a lady once say to me that she was SO glad to see some toys in the foyer because the other times {for big events, mind you} she had been at my house it had looked like it was staged for a showing because it was so clean. It’s never that clean! And it made me happy that she didn’t mind the toys. :)

    144. I needed to see this today. My house has been a wreck since my two year old’s birthday party a few weeks ago. I can’t seem to get the Easter decorations in storage. I’m glad I’ve been able to enjoy this spring weather outside with my kids though. I won’t remember my house being dirty for a few weeks but I will remember playing outside in the water. Thanks!

    145. Right now you would find laundry waiting to be folded, backpacks thrown on the floor and shows scattered in the entry.

    146. Truer words were never spoken! This is something I struggle with all the time. Since moving FAR away from all family and friends it has been hard making friends. I had to tell myself that when people come over they don’t care that my house is spotless or that my craft room is a huge disaster. They are here for the company not the cobwebs! Can’t wait to read the book!

    147. I’m working my way to imperfection. Like you, I love a perfectly clean and styled home… but more than that I love the people who live and visit here! I would love the book as a reminder of what is really important!

    148. Where to begin? When you enter my home you will find keys, reading glasses and mail on the entry table. A stroller, car seat, rachet strap(?), and three pr shoes, our house flooded last week so all the contents of my dining room and sons room are in the homes old dining room blocking the computer that was struck by lightening in said storm, yes the computer table is stacked with bills and mail, my couch has three loads of laundry that are washed dried and folded, my drafting table is piled high with watercolor paintings that I am ever so thankful we were home during the flood to save since its in the dining room. All in all we are reeling but ever so thankful that our damage was minimal, we have a home, and we are alive. Please pray for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Fl. Many, like us, did not have flood insurance and lost everything.

    149. I have perpetual clutter on my kitchen island including mail, my to-do-list and probably a text book or two even though I try the de-clutter routine also.

    150. My house is definitely lived in! People will probably first spot my daughter’s line of stuffed animals set up to watch her “show.”

    151. Being a homeschooling mom of 4, there is always stuff everywhere. There are too many signs of life to count.

    152. As a great grandmother I no longer have reminders of little ones but I do have a husband who “forgets” to check his feet when he comes inside. I have dust, dirt, grass etc but truth be told I love it because it means he his still here with me.

    153. My house used to be “perfect.” Not anymore. I’ve learned to let some things go, and it’s okay. People still like me anyway! And I’m not nearly as stressed.

    154. I’m pretty sure your house on it’s worst day is 10 times better than ours on it’s best. Seriously, you have nothing to worry about. I’m just looking forward to a “some day” when cardboard boxes aren’t an every day part of our decor. Some day… : )

    155. Your house always looks beautiful, especially when filled with chaos. My home is the same. There are craft supplies everywhere from my lovely daughter. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d love to win a copy of this book to read. Thanks for the giveaway!

    156. There are many signs in this house that four boys live here. Currently one of the bedroom windows is broken with bright yellow painters tape keeping the cracks from spreading more until it gets replaced.

    157. I always have a sink full of dishes, I don’t do them all day. I can’t I have 4 busy kids, a husband who runs a small business and serves tirelessly at church, and I don’t want to spend EVERY minute cleaning. Most people would consider my house, one that is always clean, and I work hard to keep it looking nice, but I don’t worry about dishes until they spill onto the counter… it happens.

    158. Dishes, always dishes. I like to bake, but I rarely get all the dishes done. And these days my kids think the funnest thing in the world is to pull the cushions off the couch. I sit in a rocker just ’cause I am too tired to constantly put the couch back together!

    159. Visitors will always find something left out in the kitchen – if they are lucky, it will be something yummy that we are willing to share!

    160. I too do the nightly straighten up ritual. Thanks for this post–so many of us struggle with the comparison. Embracing our “realness” hopefully will help us all recognize our shared reality:-)

    161. My visitors would see a trail of shoes, backpacks, half eaten snacks from my four daughters after school (ages 7-14!!)

    162. Visitors will clearly see that we have kids, as evidenced by the taped by them artwork in the living room, the kids tent made by my in-laws, and the piles of library books on the couch!

    163. that they will see we have a boy living with us … our loft has all his legos scattered in the floor where he always spend his free time building and creating plus books everywhere – living room, his bedroom, car .. we are blessed to have a boy who loves to read :-)

    164. I agree with you about a messy home being stressful. I try my best for it to be neat and tidy. But most days you will find random socks laying around left by one of our cats!:)

    165. You will much likely see random items just left behind in a trail when you have an eight month old crawling through the house. =) Much love in this season even though it is a challenge to get anything done and keep clean!! Thanks for sharing!!

    166. I love this post! I do the same thing in the evenings most nights too. I can’t relax in a messy space. Why is it it gets “re-messy” every day though! Oh, it’s those 3 little cuties I live with and one big cutie! Luckily, they are worth a little mess!

    167. Usually visitors will see a pile of school papers that needs to be sorted, shoes by the door, bookbags and lunch boxes left on the table by the big kids. They’ll also see the two-year-old’s collection of cars and trucks. They’re everywhere! :)

    168. My to my dismay….dog hair. I never had dogs growing up…not inside dogs anyway. I can’t stay on top of that stuff! I’m so glad humans don’t shed the way the dog does, I’d go crazy!

    169. Maybe too many signs of life. Cheerios on the floor, shoes everywhere, blankets and pillows messy and unfolded… just to name a few.

    170. four kids under 8, a full time career and a slight case of OCD… I need to give myself a break. thank you for this post, I needed the reminder!

    171. They will find a dirty entry rug, PILES of shoes, bags, backpacks and who knows what…all signs our house is visited often…wouldn’t trade it for anything!

    172. I am subscribed under the email I provided in my information! :)
      Also, dog hair, lots and lots of dog hair is our “signature” sign of a home well lived in. Mostly because I just can’t keep up with the pace my dogs shed at. ;)

    173. I have no idea what my house looks like right now. I left a week and a half ago with our two year old daughter to take her to the Children’s Hospital. My husband and son met us a week later and then we left to raise support so our family can continue working at the Christian camp we’ve been at for the last two years. THAT’S what my life looks like right now. Well, that AND hoping that God shows up in a big way for us over the next two weeks. But I do really wanna read this book! I’ve heard great things!

    174. Hahaha, funny question for me–there are signs of life EVERYWHERE! I’m a SAHM of a 2 year old and a 5 year old, but once school is out, I’ve got 3 teenagers, 2 rowdy boys and 1 more lively little girl to make a total of 8 kids all trampling on and in our relatively small house! First off, I’d have to say the handprints on the window next to the door–just can’t seem to keep’m off, so I kinda figured we’d tell ourselves that they’re meant to be there, lol! (That’s before you even get in the house!) After that, we’ve got plenty of life to feast your eyes on–usually a doll or ball somewhere, crayons and paper are very decorative items in our house, and of course, dirty dishes which seem to appear as soon as we turn the dishwasher on as if by some sort of black magic. LOVE your blog, the style, the free fonts, printables, home style inspirations, everything!

    175. Our house is utter chaos. It used to be neat and tidy when it was my husband, son, and myself. However, we have my mother and grandmother now and a a toddler. We live in a ver expensive area where my peers have house keepers, lawn services, and dog walkers. I am always worried when people come over for the first time what they will think when they step on legos, dog toys, or baby dolls because I can’t keep up with my kiddos!

    176. Our house is, indeed, a bit of a mess at the moment. But without pain, how would we know happiness? And happiness is something we’ll certainly get once we finally get around to doing our renovation. And then our house will be the beautiful (but still liveable) home we have meticulously planned. Although sometimes enduring our current too-small, too-messy house seems like it won’t end, I know it will, and at least I have plenty of time to plan the interiors.

    177. Shoes scattered by the door. And laundry. Clean still in baskets or the dryer. Folded on the couch. Dirty in the rooms. Always. Always.

    178. Thank you for this post! Perfect timing! Company just left and once in a while I felt like things could have been more organized. But I rather make them feel at home than be in perfectly picked up house.

    179. Sometimes my house is a little too full of “life” but it feels like home to me and everyone that visits seems to say that it is very “homey” and inviting.

    180. This post was exactly what I needed to see today. Piles and piles of clothing surrounding me being sorted into fits/too small and what to take on our upcoming vacation. Kids toys a little out of hand with me distracted getting things ready. Was feeling a little overwhelmed with the mess. But that’s life! Thank you!

    181. Lots of unopened mail, backpacks, laundry that needs to be put away, socks and shoes ! But it’s the season of life we are in and I cherish it. I only have one “baby” home now. The other two are away at college. It happens in the blink of an eye. I want our house to be a home, a safe place for our girls to return to with beautiful memories. I am a recovering perfectionist. I wasted too many years wanting my house to look perfect. Now I just want my house to be a happy home! Would love to read this book!!!

    182. I haven’t moved out of my parents house yet, but it’s just around the corner for me now! This is such an awesome lesson to learn before even creating my own space. Thanks for sharing!!

    183. Toys, books, clothes, lots of shoes (filled with sand), and markers/crayons/colored pencils everywhere! And if you’re lucky (like this Monday morning) the left-overs of some blanket forts made over the weekend… Signs of my two little people, who never seem to sit still!

    184. Honestly, I don’t think your “messy” pics are all the “messy”…but I do agree that a clean and some what put together house makes my brain work better! Thank you for your willingness to share even though it doesn’t look perfect:)

    185. TOYS! There are toys everywhere! Thought it sometimes irritates me, and my dogs chew toys that are left on the floor for too long, I try to remind myself that those toys ALL OVER THE FLOOR mean that I have 2 very healthy little boys who love to play Star Wars “guys”, ships, cars, planes, blocks, legos, pirate adventures and a million other things with things that aren’t even considered toys …..paper towel tubes, ads from past newspapers, etc. I always dreamed of having a family and that’s just what I have. A very active, very busy, very wonderful FAMILY.

    186. Dust! You’ll find dust! And…crumbs on the floor. Also an unfinished tile project in my first floor guest bath…oh yeah, no mirror and a lightbulb hanging from where there should be a fixture! Let’s see, move around the corner to my office and you’ll discover unfinished design posters in multiple sizes and with different backgrounds. I will choose a size and a frame and get those hung, soon! I’m a graphic designer as well…so I totally get that issue. ;) okay, making me think about it is stressing me out a little…so gotta run! Blessings to you! I enjoy your site! :)

    187. Signs of life: Post it notes everywhere with my 3 year old’s scrawl on each one. “I’m labeling!” he told me. He doesn’t look a thing like me, but I’m obviously in there!

    188. Emily,

      I FEEL ya about the baseball!! Most days you’ll find backpacks and shoes everywhere. But with two boys currently in baseball 6 days and 8 games per week, you’d find baseball gear, enough sand/clay to make my own field on my laundry room floor (I’ve considered saving it in a jar til the end of the season just to see how much it is!!) and occasionally, if I haven’t spotted it quickly enough, “protective (ahem!) gear” on the kitchen table. Eww. But real!:)

    189. Ha! I should have read the question!! We have three little girls and a big dog. You will always find dog hair in our house- always….

    190. Our dog’s food and water bowls are always out in the kitchen. There is most likely a newspaper on the coffee table. And it seems my TV is always dusty. With no kids living with us now, it is much easier to keep the clutter down, but it is still not perfect by any means.

    191. Books, books, books. School books, pleasure books, and everything in between. And pillows tossed in the floor.

    192. Love the nester, didn’t realize she had a book out, so fun! And I appreciate the philosophy of enjoying a beautiful, clean home but being okay with the “real life” mess as well.

    193. I’m the same way – clutter makes me anxious, order is calming. But that doesn’t mean my house is perfect by any means!

    194. Visitors will find fresh flowers with petals where they fall, several in-progress books on every surface, and a pile of shoes by the door.

    195. Playful kids and a crafty mom! During the day toys are scattered throughout the house and my dining table and desk always have a project covering them!

    196. Oh, there are many! I usually have a pile of clothes sitting out, just waiting to be ironed. There are crumbs under the table, and papers and pencils out here, too.

    197. I always feel the need to pick up before I can settle in and rest. But reading that excerpt I can see why too tidy of a room can be uncomfortable.

    198. You would find a variety of things, just depending on the day and what is going on in my/our life. Some days it would be dirty dishes in the sink, or clean ones that need to be put away. Or sometimes an unmade bed, or laundry in the middle of being done, or school books/backpacks/lunchboxes needing to be put away, or a sewing project on the dining room table…

    199. Open books and windows, snuggly blankets and pillows strewn about, fresh scones just out of the oven with the baking remnants all over the counters, a bed that hasn’t been made for a week, topped off with a laundry basket full of clothes waiting to be folded.

    200. I am excatly like you! I need to remind myself of this exact thing – that people want to come over to a comfortable home…not a perfect house! I have 2 dogs and a man living with me….so there are always shoes and dog toys galore laying around!

    201. Love your designs! The signs of life at my house is magazines laying around, games on the table from the grand kids and cat and dog hair needing to be cleaned up.

    202. I always leave a coffee cup and the daily paper on a side table in our livingroom. I feel it says come sit and relax.

    203. YES! Thanks for sharing Emily. I so agree with you on this! As home bloggers,it’s so easy to fall into this way of thinking, because we *do* crave a tidy, put-together house. But if you stopped by my house right now, you’d see my kids’ puzzles and art projects all over the dining table, a quart of paint for a future project sitting on the bar counter and a blanket and a bunch of toys all over the living room rug from the “picnic” my daughters had on Monday.

      Last year, I participated in a link party called the “The As-Is Home Tour” that a blog friend of mine started to show the real story behind all those lovely blog pictures. You should check it out.

    204. You can definitely tell we live where we do. And with our first baby (turning 5 months), it’s hard to get all the chores done, much less tidy up. Come in and you will find a pile of mail to put away, baby toys/binkies throughout the house, laundry to do, dishes waiting to be put away, recycling to be sorted, and my work necessities that have taken up permanent residence on what once was the dining room table! Don’t even go in my “craft” room:) I’ll get to that when the little boy is a little older.

    205. I have recently learned to be more relaxed about how my home appears when company comes over. It’s more about enjoying my guests than seeming to have it all together!

    206. Let’s see…there are too many signs of life in our house!! Piles of shoes at the front door, crumbs and dirt on the floor. Toys on the floor. Slipcovers cockeyed. Books laying around, piles of papers. You name it!

    207. Crocs & flip flops by the door now that it’s warm, kid’s artwork hanging from the light over the dinning room table, Easter baskets still out and a pile of stuffed animals that need fixer upper attention in the living room : )

    208. Dishes on the counter (Ack! My least favorite), clothes folded on the dining room table (still need to get that dresser), and dog toys scattered all over the floor (because he REFUSES to let them sit in his dog toy bin for more than 30 seconds!

    209. The first sign of life would first be a smell (a good one — I’m always cooking or baking something!) and then the first visual sign would be my husband’s bike clothes and bike gear strewn everywhere — we live on a big hill near downtown Seattle, and he works waaaay at the bottom of the hill and a mile-ish away, so when he gets home from work, he’s super tired and sweaty — all of his gear needs to dry! :o) That used to drive me nuts (I like an orderly house too!), but after getting my own bike, I *totally* understand!!

    210. In my house, there are waaaaaay too many signs of life! But that’s okay. It’s still cheery! There are still birthday party streamers up from my son’s 8th birthday, and a lego trainset on the living room floor, and the entire contents of my car in the entry way because I had to have it detailed yesterday after a homeless person slept in the front seat Sunday night. evidently, my car is very welcoming, too. Ha! But I kid you not: I never want to smell anything that HUMAN again, as my car’s nastiness the morning after. I had to breath in my sleeve with four windows open just to get to the car wash. :o) Revel in the tidiness!!! Live in the tiny messes! (and don’t forget to lock your cars.)

    211. I love this. I was just talking with two of my dear friends who are in the same phase of life as me – busy mamas with tiny ones, just trying to cook good food, have a happy home, and raise our babies. We all agreed that the worst part of ‘cleaning up’ our appearance for others is that we are part of the bigger problem – the lie and unreachable standard that everything has to be perfect before others can see us. If I clean my house like a madwoman before you come over, I reinforce the feeling that you have to do the same, and I squelch the beauty that is real, warm, hospitable, messy life.

    212. Sign of life…well, first off, the three little smiling faces that will greet any visitor to our home! Either that, or three streaks of energy running around like crazy! If someone stopped by right now they would be greeted by a toy lion right in the middle of our area rug. I love the reminders of my little ones and the fun times they have!

    213. With 4 kids running around here, there are countless pairs of shoes in, or sometimes just near the big basket by the front door. Markers and coloring books on the dining room table, our make shift craft room. Grass clippings that make their way through the back door. There are lots of signs and life around here, and while some days it can be hard to remember but I love the imperfect that is all around me!!! I would love to win a copy of Nesters book

    214. Toys everywhere…it’s great how life with young kids has forced me to embrace chaos, despite my OCD/clean freak tendencies. It’s so worth it!

    215. Oh, let’s see.. The first thing you’ll see when entering our home is large pile of kids shoes, a bazillion half full cups, and whatever socks, sweatshirts, or other misc. clothes that my kids have shed laying on the stairs waiting to go up! It used to drive me insane, but then, I remembered that this time where they’re small will pass and they’ll all too soon be gone, so I might want to let these things slide. I dread the day when there won’t be any shoes or clutter because when they’re gone, so are my kids and I’m tearing up at just the thought!

    216. The sign of life visitors would find right now if they stopped by our home is baby stuff everywhere! Our oldest daughter’s toys are kept in the living room, so those are often scattered all over the floor, but she loves to take random objects from any room and transfer them to another. Then, with a one week old baby, there are multiple burp cloths, diapers, wipes, and pacifiers within reach from almost anywhere in the house. Do I really need to decorate when the kids do it for me? :)

    217. The Words of life. I hope that my home is noticed for the drenching of scripture and the only hope in life we have!

    218. Our baby digs into countless items all day long and there is no telling what company will find the condition of our home in!! But I would not trade this season of life for anything else!!

    219. There is a backpack on the couch at least 3 pairs of shoes by the door and a pair of pants that need to be returned on the table and that’s just inside the front door! We too are in the middle of baseball season as well as softball season and prep for the dance recital! I will tidy up in June when I come up for air!

    220. I love to try to create (and recreate) a beautiful home, but with “signs of life” created by a husband, a toddler, and two dogs, perfection is definitely not an option. And I wholehearted agree with Myquillyn; beautiful doesn’t have to be perfect. A friend of mine reminded me of that a few years ago when she said, “I love your house! It’s beautiful but I feel so comfortable here.” It may be one of the best compliments I’ve ever received.

    221. Sharlene Piscitelli

      At my house you can find windows open when the weather is nice and magazines/mail on the kitchen island.

    222. Loved this post! I try to keep control of the clutter, but when life gets busy the last thing I want to do is sort through that large mail pile. Our signs of life would probably be the collection of shoes by the door.

    223. Oh there are so many signs of life around here – and I have finally started to embrace them more in the past year. One of the biggest signs right now are our doors and baseboards – they are all painted white but ten years and four kids later, they are scratched, dented, and dirty. But you know what? I’ve come to love it. I don’t see myself painting them anytime soon because each of those scratches and dents has happened from life – from playing, and fighting, and well, just living. Same with our dining room table. Filled with scratches, and marks, and craft supplies…..and one day when I am an older lady and my kids have left our home, I am sure I will treasure those scratches, and marks and craft supplies in a whole new way.

    224. The kitchen island is covered with life! Every Sunday night when I finally get around to cleaning it off it almost looks odd…like things are missing. And I always forget how big it really is!

    225. My house is usually pretty neat, but there is always a pile of shoes and some sort of sports equipment by the door!

    226. Hmmm…our house is very lived in (we also have 6 people and two are preschoolers and we homeschool so all the kids are here most of the time.) If you walked in right now, you would see the living room covered with toys and snacks on the kitchen table because on top of normal everyday life I am also babysitting today.

    227. Well the first of many signs of life they will find is my two sweet miniature schnauzers greeting them at the door! :)

    228. I have a hall closet remodel underway with stuff strewn all over the living room, my kids art table always looks like a bomb went off and my husband religiously leaves at least two dished unwashed at all times…but it’s home and I love the time I have with my family more than it being perfectly put together.

    229. You will be greeted by a VERY lively dog! She is the sweetest dog, but the excitement of a visitor at the door makes her look wild and crazy!

    230. Loads of dust and lots of ponytail bands on the floor. Also, yummy smells from the kitchen either cooking or baking and scented candles during our homeschooling first 2-3 hours as I find it makes math and grammar more palatable for my four students and for me!!

    231. I love it when people let the real out! It used to really stress me out to have people over, until I finally decided that maybe my mess can help someone feel better about themselves. You know, “gosh, her house makes mine look not so bad!” Haha! If I can help even one woman realize that she, too, is normal, then the mess was worth it. :)

    232. It’s nice to know I’m not alone I the occasional untidy home. Being real and living life is much more important that neat and tidy when you just don’t have the time!

    233. The signs of life in my house are abundant: children’s socks and shoes strewn by the front door, a stack of mail on the kitchen counter, a breakfast table that is mostly cleared, and a blanket on the couch (clearly post snuggle).

    234. My home is definately lived in. No perfection here, not that I wouldn’t like it to be a little more “perfect”.


    235. I am the oldest in my family. Although I am not married (I’m 18), I do share my room with a three year old and one year old. My room is forever having full diapers, dirty baby clothes, magazines etc. everywhere! Baby sisters are more important than clean rooms.

    236. My home is VERY real right now we just moved and there is stuff everywhere! But I am taking one day at a time trying to still enjoy little moments with my two sons and t.r.y.i.n.g. to simplify simplify! Hoping to read the nesting place soon :)

    237. Children’s shoes, toy tractors, nerf bullets, jackets, Lancaster Farming newspaper. There are other things as well. Those things use to bother me but now I look at it as the different stages of life our 4 children are going through. These things won’t always be like this and I know I will look back on this stage of life and miss the evident messes of our children.

    238. Let’s just say I looked at the “messy” pictures in this post and thought, “What’s not normal about that?”

    239. on any given day at my house……I would say we live in a lived in house. very real here! dogs toys all over, our smaller dog doesn’t like them put away. crumbs and a little dog hair, with three it’s a constant!! laundry to be done and folded and needing to be put away. dishes of some sort to be done or put away. I enjoy “re”decorating, so there’s always a project going on. we also homeschool….best thing ever! I’ve learned to be flexible with my kids and what works for them. some like desks cleared each day some don’t and that’s ok! but it’s our home and “perfect” it will never be :)

    240. The piles of paper from my kiddos school is out of control…and my office is a royal disaster as well! PIcked up or not, your house is gorgeous!!

    241. Thanks for showing us real life in your beautiful home! Our mail/papers seem to overtake the kitchen counter & then there’s all that comes with 2 doggies! Would love to win a copy of The Nester’s book! Thank you!

    242. with 2 adults, 3 kids 4 and under, a dog and 2 cats in 1200 sq. ft, our house always looks “lived in”. toys, blankets, shoes and coats are usually hanging out.

    243. Upon entering my home, you used to be greeted by backpacks & shoes, LOTS of shoes! Crazy as it sounds I sometimes miss that familiar welcome when I come in the door. My kids are grown & cluttering their own entryways now!! As I come home now I’m greeted by 2 precious little dogs………………and THEIR toys everywhere. Oh, all the sweet little things in life!! :)

    244. how neat! what a wonderful thought. i never put it together like that. and that is exactly how we are living right now. too busy to slow down and get things in order.

    245. It’s been a journey learning that hospitailty (whether it be friends, strangers or my own family) is more about about loving the person; being present to others rather than the “stuff” I do or don’t have:)

    246. Hello!
      So excited about this giveaway! I just feel that I can’t have anyone over unless the house is completely perfect and organized!!! So needless to say I don’t have anyone over very often since our house completely looks lived in! Stacks of paper on the kitchen counters, stuff on the stairs waiting to be taken all the way upstairs to the bedrooms, shoes piled at the front door and currently 2 sets of golf clubs at the front entry that haven’t made their way to the garage!

    247. I used to be like that, striving to have my home “perfect” before I could have anyone over. Then, life (and teenage boys) happened and I realized that what I truly desire is people feeling comfortable in my home and wanting to join us in it, not having a “perfect” house in which people were uncomfortable. Thus, come over mostly any time (even if I’m expecting you!) and you’ll find a few stray papers on the coffee table, mail on the counter, kids’ shoes in the entryway and evidence of someone’s recent snack on the kitchen counter. Welcome to my home, and welcome to my life!

    248. Toys!!! Legos dumped, dolls propped up on the couch, cars, watercolors out on the counter, signs of busy imaginative kids

    249. Kellie Christensen

      A project in progress in the kitchen or living room almost constantly. Blankets for warmth on the couch & board games recently played.

    250. Literally more stacks of paperwork (bills, college admission & financial aid stuff, ministry newsletters, medical receipts & EOBs, etc.) than should be legal!

      I’d love to read a future post about how you keep this area of life organized. Thanks!

    251. This morning a Nerf pistol crunched beneath my foot as I walked through the living room. Thankful I have a son. :)

    252. There are so many signs of life in my house… maybe too many! Ha! The first one people see is the big pile of shoes by the front door, and usually a backpack or a jacket, too. When they step into my kitchen, they will see kids’ artwork everywhere: on the fridge, stacked on the island, and being made at the kitchen table.

    253. So true!! I can totally relate to Myquilliyn. I make a point of focusing on the person when I visit someone else’s home, and not the surroundings or I will find myself distracted by the ‘how do I compare’ contest. The fact is, we all have our good and bad days, moms can’t do it all on their own, and cooperation varies from person to person, day to day, and circumstance to circumstance. I’d come move pillows any day if it meant a visit with you!

    254. I must be a true Nester, my home and yes it’s a home not just a house, is always cluttered. Our lives are cluttered, who knew that would make up sooooo happy. But it does !!

    255. Backpacks, shows, lunchpails, all dropped in and around the island that is filled with piles of paper, I can clean it off everynight and when I arrive home, after my husband and 2 boys, it looks the same again!!! But soon it will always be clean and oh how I will miss it!

    256. Laundry! With three busy kids there is always an abundance of laundry in some stage of cleanliness needing to be washed, stain treated, folded or put away!

    257. You will find last night’s dishes in the sink. I spend time with my husband after dinner and do dishes the next day when he’s gone.

    258. Dishes in the sink, unmade beds, dust and toys galore! As much as I wish my house was always tidy it isn’t, but I’d rather spend the time I have after work with my girls soaking up the snuggles, hugs and kisses :). The messiness will still be there tomorrow or next week…whenever I decide to tackle it :)

      Thank you for sharing pictures of your house not in perfect form. I’ve actually wondered if your house always stays perfect, especially with four kiddos. I have two girls and my house is a wreck most of the time :)

    259. If you come into our home, on any given day you will see three things: 1. shoes; 2. laundry, and 3. toys. I try to battle those piles, but the ages of our kids makes it challenging! My attitude is, come in, shove the legos aside, and have a seat!

    260. Clean but unfolded laundry, backpacks strategically placed on entryway floor instead of hung on the hooks 3ft away….and empty water bottles!

    261. Amazing how it gets cluttered SO fast! I used to care too much about that, now if the choice is the pile of clutter or my kids…my kids win every time. I am only human!

    262. Thanks for the reminder! I get discouraged looking around my house, trying to chase a toddler and picking up his messes. And I only have 1 right now!

    263. Right now my husbands gym bag and clothes are plopped in the middle of my living room floor, and there are bits of dirt and mulch all over our floors from the hard work I’ve been doing! Have a Golden Retriever who enjoys the dirt and mulch, only adds to the effect!

    264. They would find sticky notes all over the living room with reminders of things to do and places to go. They will find dog hair covering the guest bedroom bed because that just so happens to be our little furbaby’s favorite nighttime spot. They will find pictures throughout the apartment in frames and hanging on the fridge.

    265. Well, right now our home is on the market to sell. So, I am working very hard to keep it looking pretty perfect. But, you will almost always find me in the kitchen cooking, chalk drawings on the driveway and despite my best efforts dog hair blowing across the floor.

    266. Being in my mid-twenties with a young dog, my house went from ‘just the way I like it’ to ‘however he likes it’. And I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’ve become completely okay with several sized balls underneath the couch (who looks under there anyway!), a random toy in almost every room (for easy access, duh!) and just the other week I found about every bobby pin I’d ever dropped/lost in a neat little pile inside his kennel (#collectallthethings!) I think an imperfect home is perfect :]

    267. In addition to slight clutter (only if we’re expecting you!) you will almost always find piles of books on the floor… In almost every room of the house. :) But hey, my kids love to read, so who’s complaining?

    268. As a beauty-loving mom of 5 and “Mimi” of 7, our homes are where we live. We all continually strive to find the balance between real life and the picture-perfect vision we have in our head. Thanks for being real!

    269. You can usually find a stack of papers and my open planner on the coffee table and sports equipment that’s been dumped by the front door.

    270. Oh my goodness, yes!! My husband coaches track, and I was training for a quarter marathon, and my no. 1 was hitting the ice 4 days a week to prepare for a final competition and spring performance…I was shocked and overwhelmed by how “lived in” the house looked when we hadn’t even been there!!! I love the excerpt from the book you’ve included; it makes me feel real (and not alone) and relieved. Maybe my friends don’t notice the I mopped floor or the finger prints on the wall. Or maybe they do and they just don’t care because they are my friends and they live a real life too. Thanks for sharing, and for the opportunity to win this book!!

    271. visitors to my house will always see (no matter how “prepared” I am for them to come) tell-tale signs of the fact that 6 kids live here!

    272. Crumbs under the kitchen table despite the constant sweeping… And little scraps of paper “notes” all over the house that my kids hide everywhere :)

    273. Puzzles or duplos (or both) strewn across living room floor. A tiny bit of coffee in the bottom of the pot (every day…you think I’d learn to make just a tiny bit less). Mail on the counter. Shoes here, there and everywhere.

    274. In my house you will find toys on the floor, and baby clothes on the couch. You will find dog bones waiting to be stepped on in the hallway and you will find laughter and happiness and most of all love.
      I would be super happy to win a copy of the book!

    275. Inspiring as always. This is exactly why it’s great to share your own inspirational moments, the ripple effect makes the world a better place :)

    276. Our home was immaculate until we had children. Throw in a renovation, and at the moment you definitely take us as you find us. And, funnily enough, I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.

    277. Toys, dirty clothes, dog bowls, shoes, books, backpacks, leashes, groceries that need to be put away, you name it and it is on my floor or counter surface somewhere.

    278. If you were to stop by my house my couch pillows are never where they should be and our dining room table always has art supplies all over! I’ve definately gotten better after having 3 kids to let go of the idea of a perfectly put together house!

    279. I went from a home with three daughters, a son and one husband to just the guys. All three daughters grew up and moved away. Now I sometimes come home to airplanes and helicopters ‘decorating’ the place. Alas more training and more just loving my guys who meet me at the door with hugs and kisses !!

    280. I recently purchased my first home & will be moving in this weekend. But one of the things you first see when you walk into my home are lots of toys for my 16month old daughter. She loves to play with her dolls & blocks and you can find them in just about every room of my home before I too pick up after she’s gone to bed. I try to have her help me pick them up too so I can teach her to clean up! I enjoyed this post and hope to always incorporate a comfortable place to live in my new home!

    281. Shoes. We used to live in AK where most people remove their boots at the door. We never seemed to kick the habit. :-)

    282. At my home you will find a never-ending pile of laundry (hopefully in the laundry room), dirty dishes (how many cups can two kids use, and puffs of fluffy Australian Shepherd (hair no matter when I last vacuumed)!

    283. You will see a few toys that have made their way into the living room, some kids books left over from storytime, and a few piles of mail that I just need to go through and file away.

    284. Signs of life at my house, shoes by the front and garage doors always, and at least one pair of shorts, pants, etc. in my foyer bathroom, the pants gotta go as soon as I walk in the door lol!!

    285. I’m always stressed out when we get home from work with the kids and the kitchen (first thing we see) looks like Mt. Vesuvius just erupted all the contents of the cabinets and other things right there on the counter. My first inclination is to ‘clean it up. hurry hurry.’ just in case someone pops over, or if I’m being honest, to put my nerves at ease. But, I have a 4 year old and 2 year old who need me to open juices or a snack and push them on the swings outside. I’d much rather do that instead…so I’m learning and trying to remember all the time, life is real and messy, and the fun is happening in the middle of that. Why would I expect my home to reflect something different than that?

    286. Toys toys and more toys! With a 17 month and a 7 yr old in a tiny apartment stuff gets dragged everywhere! ;) I’m the sane as you. Usually do a nightly sweep putting things back in place!

    287. right now they would find that we have numerous projects waiting to be finished….and that the bird cage didn’t get cleaned last week!

    288. I learned, late in life, after the college graduate moved in for 9 months, and then moved out….to let it go…..the perfection…

      The day he moved back out to be on his own to go to graduate school, and once again, I cried, and then it was quiet, cleaned up, but lonely……so perfect isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.
      Yes they move pillows and put their feet on the couch, but they are THERE, and that’s all that really matters…..

    289. Thanks Emily for your encouraging post, once again! I too, have the spurt of energy late in the day to pull our home back together…but the reality is that a perfect home is a lived in home no matter how beautiful. I really hope that no matter the state of our home people are greeted with a warmth and comfortable oasis, even if there are laundry piles or dirty dishes.

    290. I used to avoid having people over unless my place was completely cleaned, clutter free, and looked perfect. I spent more time making sure everything looked right then the amount of time people were actually over! I’ve finally started realizing that I needed to let go and that no one would even notice if things weren’t perfect. I still love a clean and cluttered home but now if a friend is stopping over for dinner I don’t mind leaving a pile of mail/papers out on the counter or having rugs that aren’t freshly vacuumed. I’m less stressed and have more fun!

    291. oh, um. Where to begin? Shoes, dishes, laundry, cat toys everywhere. DUST. Oh my, the dust. Dog hair. Cat hair. Cat litter. Ugh. Now I want to clean.

    292. I really struggle with unexpected guests but it is so so good for me!! They will see dog blankets on the couches (I would normally remove them before guests!), mail on the counters, and imperfectly folded towels in the bathroom. Such a good reminder – thank you for posting your pictures!

    293. A stack of junk mail I’m putting off going through, clean clothes waiting to be folded and put away, and those dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher waiting to be hand-washed in the sink! Such a great post – thank you for the reminder that it is not about what my house looks like, but the love and warmth that are present within!

    294. I can only hope that they hear laughter, my favorite sign of life! : ) Thanks for sharing your life and talents with us Emily. I am enjoying reading about the increased acceptance of “messiness” in your life. I am struggling with this myself and find comfort in your entries about balancing the love of aesthetics with the comfort and realism of “living” and not worrying about “things.” Keep writing and I’ll keep reading. Peace & happiness to you!

    295. Lots and lots of toys! Teepee in the center of living room and my latest project I am working on spread acrossed the kitchen table!

    296. lots of noise, breezy air from open windows, art projects, and always a messy kitchen with some new food concoction

    297. No matter how hard I try or how much I nag, my 3 boys can barely walk into their bedrooms with all the stuff they drop on it. It truly is amazing that they don’t “see” the mess!!! It drives me crazy but I also know that it will be gone all too quickly as they head off to college – first one in 2 years :( – then I’ll miss the lived in look!

    298. Wow. You surely hit home with me today. (no pun intended ;) )
      We are in the process of moving and our house in an absolute wreck- I too feel better in a tidy, organized home. I meannnn our home it a wreck with boxes, packing paper strewn…everywhere, not to mention random clothes just making a home on our stairs.

      But throughout my adulthood I have put major pressures on myself to have a neat and clean home. I would walk through my house and worry if something was out of place or if the bed was unmade and if in that time of imperfection, someone would stop by. What would they think of me? They would think this girl needs to clean her base boards more often and take out the trash. I essentially assume people will judge me. But I’m not perfect… and so your post was very refreshing especially for what phase of life we are in right now.

      Thank you :)

    299. I like to see the imperfections every now and then. It shows people are real, and live a life of crazy sometimes. I often don’t know how people keep there life all together, ALL the time. This is a refreshing post. Wonderful giveaway! I love the Nester!

    300. We invite guests into our home often and enjoy a notsoperfecthome:) When you first come through my front door I have a tidy sitting area… And beyond that?! A weight bench, weights etc! I’m a proud mom of sons and I know all too soon they’ll be out of this stage and gone! So for me it’s perfect! My fave quote is HOME SWEET HOME!!! That’s what I want for my home!

    301. You will find clothes waiting to be folded or ironed, dog hair…everywhere, and usually dishes piled in the sink. I struggle with letting things stay out of place and really don’t like people coming over when life (a.k.a. the mess) is happening. I strive daily to sit at the feet of Jesus instead of working my hands tirelessly. Thanks for the post, it was quite convicting.

    302. We currently live in a one bedroom apartment so it seems if one thing is out of place the whole apartment is messy! We have to give ourselves grace and each pitch in to keep the place tidy and welcoming to guests in our small space.

    303. Without a doubt, there will be at least one track of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends running down the hallway, or through the living room, or in the kitchen, or …..

    304. Shoes inside the entryway, mail on the kitchen island, unmade bed, and piles of papers in my office waiting to be filed/organized/tended to. I typically clean those things up before company comes over! ;)

    305. My house is filled with toys scattered in every room….I wish my house was nice and tidy but it’s a sign we live there :)

    306. I’m a puppy and kitty mom so on any given day there is all kinds of presents being left around the house for my husband and me!

    307. You will see dirty dishes and piles. My husband love to hide the piles, but I have to have the piles to remind me of all the unfished things I need to get to. Out of sight out of mind….so there is a lot of “sight” to behold in our house

    308. We recently moved and are still looking for places to put our piles and stuff. I need a good lesson in remembering that imperfection is beautiful, as my desire to have my home put together and feeling like us can be draining!

    309. Most days visitors are greeted by my kids’ shoes and socks strewn about the floor, and, as my daughter is in the stage of life where she creates art by the boat-load, you will always find her latest masterpieces spread across the kitchen counter to show us. And of course, dishes on the counter or in the sink waiting to be cleaned.

    310. Entering my house you will see shoes, papers/mail/paint swatches on the buffet in living room and the same sort of stuff in the kitchen! The kitchen is also the gathering space for markers, coloring books and artwork by two toddlers.

    311. On any given day you will likely see dog hair, cat hair & mulch on my dark wood floors. You may see bathroom sinks with toothpaste, & dead flowers from the arrangements I never throw away until they are horrible looking! :/ But you will see me with a smile on my face cause I just love a visit with anyone who stops by! :)

    312. Our kitchen table is a catch-all for everything, from mail, to toys, to books, to jackets, to keys…but rarely ever for food! :)

    313. Visitors will find a stack of miscellaneous papers on the kitchen counter and a living room floor strewn with our two year old’s toys and cars.

    314. The piles of things that I need to give away, donate or just get rid of! I wish I had a day to just organize and clean!

    315. Toys scattered just about everywhere…hair barrettes, ties, bows & clips in the seat cushions…the soundtrack of our home which are the laundry machine & dryer humming away upstairs…and the resulting Mt.Laundry that never seems to get any smaller, just waiting to be put away….piles of blankets & sofa cushions & pillows smack dab in the middle of the house, because where else would the worlds best fort/jump house/school/doctors office/rocket ship be?….the torn screen door, greeting you as you step outside, thanks to the dog who also loves to leave landmines in the yard…and the best giggles and screams of joy from the 2 most beautiful, adventurous little girls a mama could ask for.

    316. I don’t get the idea of covering furniture with pillows. I really don’t think the purpose of furniture is to hold up pillows. I just don’t get it!! Where are people suppose to sit? If I sit down on one of those pillow holders and throw the pillow on the floor some people get upset. Get real!

    317. Blankets on the couch not folded and clean clothes needing to be folded. Can you tell I don’t like folding things, lol!

    318. Two dogs wagging their tails and possibly (okay more than likely.. definitely) barking at the excitement of gaining a new friend who will (must) their toy that they will immediately fight over to bring you. You will probably find remnants of the last toy they “shared” and hid under our chairs right next to the socks of the husband who came home from his soccer game – a favored and repeatedly hunted item of one of the two furry culprits. After fifteen minutes with the excitement of your arrival dwindling, they’ll retreat to wherever your feet are in hopes of a foot-guided back scratch. The house may be cleaner when they’re sleeping or in the backyard, but life is messy and so be it.

    319. You will see stacks of books near easy chairs ready to access. Poetry while you wait for dinner to be ready! You will also notice washed, fresh fruit and veggies-ready-to-eat in bowls in several rooms. You might see cut wildflowers on the table, depending on the season.

    320. I first saw this book on your friend, Paige’s instagram feed and have been eyeing it ever since. I love to open my home to friends and have been letting go of the aim to have it perfect when they come over just for the reasons mentioned above. Today would be a great day to stop by and see signs of life… but, I would cringe. Swim goggles and bathing suits from swim lessons hanging in the laundry sink; baseball cleats strewn across the mudroom floor; cookies on the counter and craft supplies all over from teacher appreciation projects last night… I could go on and on. We live here ;) Thank you for the chance to win!

    321. Oh my gosh! This came at such the perfect time. We have 4 active kids ranging from 18 to 8, and our house looks like a wind storm went through most of the time. Laundry is clean, sometimes folded, but often in laundry baskets. Our kids come home for lunch during the school day with at least 4-5 friends,which is such a precious time for us, but the kitchen is a revolving door and is never tidy. I wouldn’t change a thing, but knowing that some of the bloggers that I follow live as we do, made my day!! Actually, brought tears of joy to my eyes to know that others see perfection in how your family feels versus how my living room looks! Yeah!!:)

    322. I would love to get my hands on this book! I love beautiful books and would love to hear her thoughts. I am like you my mind rests when my place is tidy. Def need to break free of that life is too short!

    323. Our house is never perfectly clean- there are always magazines and newspapers on the floor, shoes thrown everywhere, and books stacked in random places. But that is why I love our home and why others congregate here- they feel comfortable. They know they can leave their shoes on and that we can make a mess of the kitchen when baking or cooking together. That’s what makes it “perfect”.

    324. If you stop by you will find paper airplanes and socks. My three boys cannot keep their socks on so there are always socks all over the floor.

    325. Kids’ books and crayons – we try and keep them contained to their table but they have a tendency to make it everywhere!

    326. you will definitely see a pile of mail to be opened and at least 2 laundry baskets of clean clothes to put away!

    327. Oh so many things….I would have to say animal hair pops into my mind first! Our sweet corgi sheds all over…add in two kitties and our rugs and furniture are oh so lived in! But…hopefully friends and family will see little changes as I switch things up with the seasons….plants, decor, holiday fun…I love it all! This book would be awesome!

    328. My home always looks lived in. My grandmother once said “a happy home is one where you can tell people live there.” I think that was her way of saying “don’t worry about the mess, but instead enjoy life.” I hope people see life in my home.

    329. Although I keep my house clean, it can sometimes be a little messy and we end up with glasses and cups everywhere! I use a new glass every time I get something to drink and have a tendency to not pick up the next one. My husband gets a glass of water each night and I don’t always remember to pick it up. 3 days later I wonder where all our glasses are!

    330. The sign of life in our house is toys. I definitely do the late night pick-up… mainly because waking up to a fresh house makes me feel more calm in the morning. The pillows are usually on the floor, and shoes are piled by the door. I’m thankful I can let go a little now that my son is getting older. It used to be so hard for me to have things askew!

    331. They will find socks everywhere, dishes in the sink, the mess of updating our bathroom, dog prints on the floor, blankets strewn where the socks are not…and the list goes on. We bought a house without insulation that hadn’t received an update of any kind since 1984. Exactly 1984. It’s hard to organize when there’s no storage, and it’s hard to keep up on housework when we’re renovating. Right now, I’m no Martha Stewart :)

    332. Love this post! Of my friends, I am the one who worries about having the perfect home, but lately I’ve learned it’s okay if it’s not always picture perfect. The little “messes” or unfinished projects are really what makes it feel like home. It’s more beautiful that way.

    333. YES. This is exactly what I feel when I come to magazine-like homes. I´d rather push away some clothes and enjoy an honest conversation between down-to-earth women than polished small-talk over a cup of china …

      This book sounds very inviting. Thx for sharing! :)

    334. So good to see you are human… :) After my daughter and her daughter moved home ( tight quarters) it seems to never be cleaned up. However there is lot of love. That makes a lot of wrongs right!

    335. You will see paperwork, magazines and my laptop on my ottoman. My kitchen table is a collection of respites, some mail and half sone projects. Need storage!

    336. i find it all too easy to leave the house a mess every night, but every few days look out! i am a whirlwind trying to put everything in it’s place. on any given day you will find cat in the hat accessories everywhere (white gloves and all)!

    337. Our friends will see piles of our language study books in the kitchen, office and living room accompanied with dirty tea cups.

    338. If you stop by my house you will see a house that is very lived in. Thanks for a chance to received this wonderful book.

    339. a dirty skillet in the sink – we eat eggs every morning and I rarely wash it until we need it the next morning!

    340. if you stop by my house, it’s often neat but i have piles on my desk which are all wonky,not nice and neat, and they are literally a foot high. And piles on my ottoman in the family room. Sometimes I leave dirty dishes in the sink all day long.

    341. Sadly, the first thing you see is 3-4 animals lying on the step, and (well-trained as they are), they don’t move when you try to get over or around them. Clueless!

    342. Around my house you will find dog hair tumbleweeds in the corners and crumbs under the kitchen table. (and that’s just the beginning!)

    343. one sign of life . . . hahaha. there are more signs than i can count! but i’m okay with it . . . until my granny comes over. then it’s super-cleaning time :) thanks for being honest about your mess so the rest of us can be too!!

    344. My house is cluttered to say the least. Shows that we live here and enjoy ourselves. My mother says it’s not clean, but i always tell her “Everything is out, so she can see it all”. I don’t clean until the weekend.

    345. I too have a slight obsession with a clutter free and clean home. I feel at ease when I have a floor clean enough for my 2 year old to eat his cheerios. My husband always tells me to relax and I say I’ll relax “when my floors shine like the top of the Chrysler building!”

      Your home is beautiful and spending time with family is what matters most and making memories with your amazing family.

    346. No matter how often we sweep there always seem to be crumbs… I like the pillows on the couch, and often use them for my back, but many times when people sit down they end up moving them out of the way. So now we have a stash along the top edge of the couch. We do take time to run though and tidy up though, and it does feel better.

    347. Love this! It’s so true. I love a clean and tidy home. Everything in its place sets me at ease but with 3 kids 5,4,2 it’s nearly impossible to have it look perfect. I’m learning to love the perfect imperfections of my home.

    348. My boys play baseball and we usually have a thin layer of dirt from the field on our laundry room floor. I also have a stack of stuff (books, papers, homework, magazines, etc.) on my kitchen table that is constantly moved around. No matter how hard I try to get rid of the stack…it’s always there!! :)

    349. Emily thanks for sharing this post with everyone. I love it when seemingly “perfect” bloggers reveal a “real” side to themselves or their homes. Makes me feel better about the imperfections of my home which are the result of living a life and what makes it home. It’s usually those moments before bedtime when I’m making the rounds of each room when my home is the tidiest. As soon as everyone is up it’s chaos and very quickly untidy. Certainly I love a tidy home and I used to obsess about it and then I realized these years pass too quickly to be so concerned about having everything in its place every minute of every day. If you walk through my door today you will find toys on the floor, laundry being folded and a kitchen still waiting to be cleaned after lunch.

    350. If you drop by my house you’ll find a dog blanket on the couch where my pooch sleeps, shoes on the living room floor and probably evidence of the last meal we ate.

    351. Oh boy, definitly dog fur coated floors and piles of laundry everywhere = 5 kids and 4 dogs! I definitely have to encourage my own heart daily to not be frustrated by these things, but that they are such an evidence of God’s blessing. :)

    352. Shoes galore. Piles of folded laundry that haven’t found their home… clothes in limbo on the chair, waiting to be worn again or thrown in the hamper.

    353. In my home you will find half finished arts and crafts drying, an assortment of items on display by my collector daughter, and pet hair – lots of endless pet hair. ;)

    354. Oooh!!! A giveaway from two of my FAVORITE bloggers!! If you stop by my house unexpectedly, you will likely not be able to come in because our shoe closet is right behind the front door. Most of the time it spills its guts of shoes in the path of the opening door and jimmies it stuck about 1/3 of the way open. :)

    355. A sign of life in my house is the never ending piles of things on the stairs that everyone walks over instead of bringing up to their rooms. Ponies on the table, guys on the coach. You name it you will find it

    356. Dogs. Bc I can never sweep or vacuum up every last strand of fur that our drops drop, and I’m not getting rid of the ugly but comfy doggie bed for our girls. And I’m okay with that.

    357. Currently you would see a mallard nesting in a wall planter on our covered front porch. You would mostly be startled by her flapping wings as she tried to pull you away from her eggs. Porch furniture is out of place because we don’t want raccoons to raid her nest as they did when she nested on the ground next to the porch. Sweet Mama Millie.

    358. I am having our third baby in November and I was planning on buying this book to read while we’re in the hospital. You know, the “why on earth have they had my baby for four hours this morning!” moments. But if I win it here I’ll have to find another book because I won’t be waiting that long to read it!

    359. Love your beautiful home and blog. This book is on my wish list. And it’s teacher appreciation week! LOL

    360. I never make my bed!! It’s terrible because my kids have to make their beds every morning before they go downstairs for school, yet I don’t even make my own bed. And the funny thing is, I HATE getting into an unmade bed at night!! I should really work on that, shouldn’t I?

    361. With two kids 2 and under…toys, books, half eaten snacks…
      I’ve had to learn to let go of the impression my home gives, and focus on making it a place where people can be comfortable.

    362. Love this post… so true! normally some type of “crafty stuff” on the dining room table – and blankets on the couch.

    363. Messy carpet! just moved into a foreclosure and the carpet is rather dingy… first thing to budget for: hardwoods!

    364. Thomas trains on the ground and on the couches and on the kitchen table…everywhere my son feels like playing!

    365. Great post:) I struggle with this exact thing. When an unannounced visitor comes I usually have lots of clutter on top of my fridge and on the tv mantle (where we don’t have a tv so there is plenty of room for setting stuff!). And pillows from our couches all over the floor…because the kids like to jump:)

    366. In September I’ll be a newlywed in house of our very own for the first time! I’d love this book to help make our house a home!

    367. A pile of shoes next to boxes by the door (why can’t they make it INTO the boxes?!) a sink full of dirty dishes, and a blooming phalaenopsis orchid on our kitchen island… a tangible reminder of grace and beauty amidst a messy life (bonus: I only have to remember to water them once a week and the blooms last for months)!

    368. SHOES! I swear that the number of shoes in our household has grown exponentially to the number of children. I’m constantly asking kids to put their shoes away.

    369. Dishes in the sink. Even if I can keep up with tidying the rest of the house, the kitchen is always in use and it never fails that I have at least a few dirty dishes in the sink that I can’t stay on top of. Rather than seeing them as a burden, this post is helping me to think of them as evidence of a home that loves to eat and share food with others.

    370. Toys. Everywhere and usually lots of art supplies. Love this post, I’ve been struggling with that fact that my house of 6 (four littles) will NEVER be spotless. This book seems like a fantastic read. Thanks so much for sharing!

    371. I am the mother you speak of I keep a fairly spotless home most days & stress about it, I stay up late making it clean for the next day ahead, which usually turns out with strawberries on the floor, crayons on the wall, apple juice drippings down the all from the sippy cup being held upside down…and loads of laundry from a sweet 2.5 year old that loves to change clothes 5 times a day :)

      I had what I call a “real friend” at my home not long ago and as we were trying to hold a conversation I kept getting up to pick up toys…she said can you please relax and talk to me, I stopped in my tracks and realized I was spending the majority of our conservation worried about what my living room looked like than having a meaningful conversation with my friend that drove 35 miles to see me and let the “kids play” – she said stop picking up the toys, if you will just leave them out the kids wont drag out more – they can keep coming back to these toys they have out…I thought so smart. she is a mother of 3 and shared her wisdom with me. I am faithful to the lord and I am a work in progress!

      Last night I accepted that my daughter waned to paint – she painted at her table for 2 hours in her diaper and was the happiest she’s been all week – :) I am working on not have the perfect home but a tidy home where my family loves to be & can enjoy life at home…

      Thank you for your words and blog – I’d love a chance to win your book.
      thank you – Morgan Newman

    372. Clean clothes waiting to be folded and put away on the couch. … from two weeks ago. Toys strewn around, dishes in the sink, an entire table covered in stuff. ..working on getting stuff out so we can enjoy what we keep. It is an incredible blessing that others feel comfortable and relaxed in my home, even amongst the clutter. :-)

    373. Amen, sister! Unflushed toilets are the norm at my house since I have four sons and a husband. I do struggle with trying to do and be it ALL, but that is not even close to possible nor healthy. However, I have been complimented that my home is “cozy” which I feel is the best compliment EVER–better than “perfectly decorated” or “spotless”. I hope that people feel comfortable in our home and not intimidated. Real fellowship happens in a space where people can be themselves. I am totally with you on that!

    374. My home is currently the worst it has ever been. I’m 8 months pregnant with twins, and while my husband is fantastic, we cannot seem to keep up with dishes or laundry. You will find stacks of clean clothes, mounds of laundry to do, and also stacks of dirty dishes… This time will pass, and I’m not too worried about it!

    375. Right now there are signs of life all around me but here is one that you would see stepping into my home, a runny nose little girl sitting on the floor playing in the middle of her brother’s toys! :)

    376. I’m loving the comments on this post! Encourages me to keep tidying, but to also be okay when life happens.

    377. One of the many things people would find in my house would be a half-finished project on the end table, waiting for me to curl up on the couch and finish it – could be a cross-stitched bib, or crocheted dishcloth, or baby headband, or any of a number of “one-evening” projects that take me a month to finish!

    378. Opened bags of chips, crackers, cookies. Also legos, barbie shoes, markers or the floor. There’s almost always a pile of folded clothes on our couch that hasn’t been put away yet. at least half the work is done, right?!

    379. I am so looking forward to this book- that is exactly my style- a fully lived life at home- and would love to win a copy. Thanks for the great giveaway.

    380. The sign of life you will see everywhere are toys. I have two little boys – 5 and 2 years old. Right now they are into Toy Story and the Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Bullseye, Slinky Dog, Potato Head – the whole gang can be found in various stages of action around the house. Toys can be found to infinity and beyond!

    381. My husband is a neat freak and we have all learned to stay on top so we don’t have to listen to him when he gets home. Over the years we have agreed to two “let it go” details with the kids – shoes and boots are allowed to be lined up at the back door to the garage and beds do not have to be made on school days! It’s tough … maybe if my husband read this book he’d loosen up some more!!

    382. Visitors will see my incredibly messy, but equally obvious that something creative is happening inside, studio as soon as they enter our home. I took over the living room, the only space left, and it is awash in art supplies and creative stuff. I’ve stopped apologizing and just accepted it is what it is!

    383. I love the honesty of this post. I have often thought, “what do people think of…the pile of laundry, condition of the bathrooms or the kitchen counter.” What really matters is the heart you welcome them into your home-no matter the condition. LOVED THIS POST!!!

    384. They would see blankets unfolded all over our couch and dishes needing to be washed … I could go on but won’t ;)

    385. All the shoes piled up at the front door!!! I have a shoe rack but no one seems to know how to use it but me!!

    386. Shoes! With 3 daughter, all shoes lovers like their mom, shoes are under tables, on stairs and always by the door!!

    387. This post is why I enjoy you! Shoes near the door and dirty dishes in the sink or next to the sink. ( my favorite! )

    388. I saw the greatest sign that I’ve been wanting to make for my home: Please excuse the mess — We live here. So true! My dining room table seems to be magnetic because there’s always an odd variety of things drawn to it – homework, markers, lunchboxes, mail… With six kids and an old home lacking in storage space, we have signs of life everywhere! But it’s always good to come home. :)

    389. My boys play baseball and we always have a nice thin layer of dirt from the fields on our laundry room floor. I also have a “stack” of miscellaneous stuff (books, papers, mail, magazines, etc.) on my kitchen table that just gets moved and pushed around. No matter how hard I try there is always a stack of something!

    390. Shoes, shoes, and more shoes. The house rule says each family can keep one pair of shoes by the door, but my husband doesn’t follow, much less my kids!

    391. Hi Emily! I just want to say thank you. For being you, for sharing your life and knowledge with those of us who follow your blog, and making me smile! You are a fabulously real inspiration and your honesty is truly uplifting. So thank you! Cheers~

    392. Visitors to my home would find dog hair rolling across the floor, and my exercise equipment spread out – in an effort to help me use it! ;-)

    393. Right now it’s our constantly messy suitcases that we are living out of for the next 2 months. My husband is in the military and we are in transition. For now home is wherever we are sleeping that night which is a mix of hotels, friends and families couches and guest rooms. It’s actually kind of awesome and has totally shifted my view of what home really is!

    394. This book looks great! And I agree….I loveeeeeeee a tidy home. Visitors to my home find lots of Jones Design Company crafts/homemade decor mixed with throw blankets, shoes and puppy toys everywhereeeeee.

    395. I heard Shauna Neiquist quote a friend once, “Your friends should leave your home feeling better about themselves (loved, welcomed, joy, fun, etc) than feeling better about you and how well you keep your home” and it has stuck with me ever since! I’ve had times where I wouldn’t invite friends over because of how “unclean” my home was- and I realized I was missing out on a great opportunity to spend time loving on my friends just due to my perceptions about how I wanted to appear. This book looks amazing!

    396. Homeschool piles of work to grade. Creative projects half way in the works. Mixed patterns of used and new purchases that blend pretty well. A beautiful home- mostly because of the people who live in it and add to the mess of it ;)

    397. Dishes…hands down! I also have 6 people in my home and it seems if I let a 1/2 day get past me of not keeping right on top if them…they are stacked. I often say that dishes are my other full time job. Thanks for the opportunity!

    398. When visitors stop by our house, they can see that a man & a dog live in a woman’s home! The house is decorated the way I’d like, but there are gun cases lying about (my husband shoots sporting clays almost daily) and dog hair on everything! It’s a very small house, but we try to make it cozy for our guests. I love following Myquillin’s blog and I’ve wanted to read her new book! Thanks for the giveaway!

    399. I love this post and have her book on my wish list. I follow The Nester too and find her very refreshing and her work just beautiful. The one sign of life people would see in my home is snacks – we all love them and find comfort in a bowl of popcorn on the couch or a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows or homemade cookies. Whatever it is, you see it all when you come into our home – which I try to keep pretty but it just doesn’t always work out that way!

    400. Baby girls messy bed! It’s the one thing that never ever gets done before we head out for work and school!

    401. Papers on the kitchen counter, dirty dishes, floors needing swept, toys from the kids left out, a kitchen half painted and other house projects not fully complete because its hard to find time and energy in this phase of life with young kids! But wouldn’t trade it for the most perfect house!

    402. I always say I have a neat house but not a necessarily clean one ;)
      I can’t have a lot of clutter around me – it clutters my mind – but my house is far from perfect. Love that story – and the whole concept!

    403. Where should I begin? the dog and cat hair, the shoes lying around the family room, the dishes in the sink, laundry everywhere, and toys- don’t get me started on the toys that never stay in the playroom.

    404. shoes just inside the doorway. if I could figure out a way to get my family to put away their own shoes… I could rule the world.

    405. I, too, like to straighten before bed, and feel anxious when things are too messy and cluttered. Not for outward appearances-I just like to walk in and see a lovely room. It makes me happy….My husband and 6 year old don’t seem to agree!

    406. OH gosh….dog hair? Mud on the entryway floor? Yesterday’s smelly socks that my boys “thought” made it in the laundry room?? I could go on and on! Thank you for sharing this! Nobody is perfect, and that’s what makes this world such a perfect place :)

    407. Wow! I need to read this! This is something I struggle with daily as a stay at home mom. I love pretty and clean things so I strive for this (a little too much some days) with home as my work place. Thanks for sharing pics of your home on the “real” days when life happens.

    408. Visitors will find shoes from last nights dinner still under the kitchen table undoubtedly! I don’t usually pick them up until I put them back on!!!

    409. Shoes scattered in the foyer and backed up mail (hopefully not important stuff!) littering the dining room table.

    410. I also love a clean house, but it is such a struggle, especially since we homeschool and my husband works from home. Do you know how hard it is to keep a house clean when all the people are always in it?!

    411. You will find socks & shoes from my husband and lots of crayons, paper, chalk & toys from my 4 yr old daughter :) It’s our beautiful mess! Thanks for the give away!

    412. love this post and keeping it real. if you stopped by our home right now you would find a dinning room table stacked high with dishes and bowls i am organizing for this weeks teacher appreciation luncheon. so glad to be helping but the house is a mess:)

    413. Love it! If you stop by, you’ll see outdoor toys: balls, bats, shovels, bubble stuff cluttering our doorstep.

    414. At my house, it is evident we live there because of the mail and homework on the kitchen counters, the pillows on the floor from the latest fort-building or gymnastics attempts, water bottles on the table and a huge dog bed in the hallway in front of the kids’ rooms.

    415. Trying to settle up foster care/adoption paperwork in my home is making for quite the mess right now. But it’s proof of meaning and our current stage in life. I’d love to read more!!

    416. It depends on the day….some days ballet shoes, some days life jackets, others will show muddy boots, and my favorite….little weed flowers from our walks. It is a love/hate relationship with these things. I love our outings and their leftover signs but I sooooo want to have a tidy home.

    417. Signs of life: little socks, velcro shoes, coats on the couch, dishes in the sink, and one tired, but happy, mama

    418. On any given day, you will find books, magazines, toys, and projects in various stages of completion stacked, piled or spread out on every surface in our home. We definitely live here. Thank you for your post. Myquillyn Smith’s words are so true.

    419. Dog hair — Hank the dog is 14 and maintains a constant presence on his pillow by the front door and window. His aged years have left him mostly deaf so you can ring the doorbell and slip in undetected, but somehow he still knows when the multiple dog-bone giving neighbors pull into their driveway.

    420. Thanks for sharing and for being real. I am always so jealous of the photos you post and think “how in the world does she do it!” Thanks for the reality check!

    421. Lots of sign of life at my house! With tax season *just* finished here in Canada (and a husband who is a Chartered Accountant) and a chronically ill child, we have lots of papers ready to be put away, clean laundry piles and always, always, always Lego ready to be stepped on! ;0) Thanks for the great giveaway!

    422. I can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy of THE NESTING PLACE! Even if I don’t win, I will be on the hunt for my own copy. I always tell my husband that guests need to feel comfortable and when things are too perfect, it’s more difficult to nurture that feeling.

    423. What a beautiful book! Signs of life in our house: the toys on the floor, artwork and school notices strewn all over the dining room table and the marks of “washable” crayon on the walls that haven’t quite washed off. :) Sometimes we scrub until the house sparkles, but mostly we live in it. And living is messy. :)

    424. When I was a little girl, my aunt cross stitched a cute little picture for my mom and each of her sisters that said, “Boring women have immaculate homes.” It became a motto–although NOT a comment on my uncle’s wife who DOES have an immaculate home, because she’s not boring at all!–and just yesterday my mom and I were wishing for just enough boredom to get our houses cleaned up just a bit!

      I’ve been eying Myquillyn’s book, craving the kind of inspiration that embraces imperfection as well as beauty.

    425. I loved this post! Would love to win this book!
      Try as I might, we always have piles of paper on the table. Mail, school papers, etc. Those just never seem to go away completely!
      We also always have lap blankets strewn all over the couch. Doesn’t matter how often i fold them all and put them away.

    426. I love a clean house as well but reality is that dishes do get piled up in the sink. Bed are often not made but most importantly from trying to renovate our house for the past 2 years, I have learnt that everything else can wait but life is too precious to not truly enjoy the time with our loved ones instead of always being on to the next thing or making things perfect!

    427. I have heard about this book on several blogs and it sounds really good. Just reading about it has been great! We all need to be reminded that no one is perfect or has a perfect home. Thank you for sharing your mess. Hope I win.

    428. I so needed this post. The last month has been exhausting trying to keep the house up. We have six kids and have had a bout with stomach flu twice ( ready to pull out the carpet). I also fell and messed up my foot so many things have gone by the wayside. Some days I come in and it looks like my house was ransacked by thieves. Our home is far from perfect and it is comforting to go to other people’s homes where I don’t feel i have to live up to some unrealistic standards.

    429. Musical instruments; toy swords made from sticks and duct tape; scraps of fabric leftover from my daughter making barbie clothes; and lest I forget… LEGO!

    430. I love a clean house, but the reality is I’d rather live and enjoy life than have a perfect house. So while I do my best to keep it clean and organized with candles and flowers, life has a beautiful way of interfering and before I know it several pairs of my husband’s shoes are at the front door, there are stacks of papers on tables, dishes in the sink… a sign of a house that’s lived in.

    431. Signs of life…..that would be the people always inhabiting my apartment. There seems to be an endless amount of people streaming in and out. Of course that may have something to do with the fact that my husband is a college minister!

    432. I have been wanting to read this book! You will see many signs of life in my house, shoes piled up at the front door, laundry on the couch and there is always a glue gun on my kitchen table.

    433. I have to say that I am the worst at this…as the (architect) husband who is away all day at work, I come home and sometimes see (what I perceive to be) chaos. I so quickly forget that my sweet wife has been doing a million things to raise our 2 girls during the day INCLUDING keeping the house as organized as you can with a 3 and 1 year old. If that didn’t take place, there REALLY WOULD be “chaos”. As it is, I just need to relax, be more supportive and continue to work together with her to make this a home – not just a house. thanks for the post!

    434. This brings relief to my tired body & hope to my heart. If people stop by unannounced, they’ll walk over dog toys and full bags from various activities sitting by the door where we walked in and dropped them.

    435. I love Myquillyn and her new book! I’d love to win a copy! Our house is perfectly imperfect in the crummy floors and popcorn ceilings (we are renting.)

    436. Glad to know blogger homes can be photographed in a not so perfect state. Mine rarely looks like a photograph. Thanks for sharing!

    437. The signs of life in our home are mostly due to the four legged members of our family. My husband and I don’t have kids yet but we have 2 adorable shih-tzus who LOVE to leave their toys all over the house. The second I put them back in the basket, the basket gets turned over and the process starts all over. :)

    438. In our house, visitors will see many shoes scattered near the front door, mail on the counter and books left on or near the couch, ready for the next time my son has a few minutes to read.

    439. You really said what a lot of us think about our houses. I like how you put it-“in this house, we do life”. Well said!

    440. Books everywhere! Books are the absolute sign of life in my tiny apartment. They’re often left open with book marks everywhere, and I’m constantly reading 6 or 7 at a time and have dragged them off the shelf to refer to or show to guests. Love the mess the leave!

    441. With a 3 year old & 5 year old, our house is always lived in as well. For parties & functions, my house looks immaculate…but that is NOT a daily occurrence. I wish it was immaculate more often, but life is just busy with my husband & I both working full time. Children’s books are scattered about the house, toys as well. Dishes are most likely in the sink and the dryer has folded clothes sitting on top. In all of our bedrooms, there is most likely a stack of clean clothes that need to be put away.

      I hope I win! I would LOVE to read her book!