When You’re Totally Inadequate 

I saw a post on Facebook the other day and had a vivid memory of our time in seminary. We were in Dr. Wellum’s Sunday school class and someone’s baby started to fuss. Before I had kids I was never around them and had NO experience. Not a clue. So this baby started to fuss (in her car seat and the parents weren’t right there) and I froze, totally inadequate to the task. Emily crouched down and soothed the baby like it was nothing, because to her, it was: she already had a baby. 

I remember talking with Dan afterwards about how I just didn’t know what to do, and was kind of freaked out about my future parenting endeavors. Remembering this has been really encouraging to me this week. As now a mother of five, soothing a baby is no longer a daunting task. I’m no baby whisperer, but parenting little people IS my skill set now and though it was a process when we had our first baby, we figured it out. 

Are you getting ready to have your first baby? Start a new job? Go back to school? Do a new thing? Or just parent an older kid through a new struggle?

So grow. Don’t fight it–rise to it. 

Every single phase and season of life has new challenges and we have to be flexible, adapt, and grow. 
It’s not about American ingenuity, it’s about God-given human creativity. There are things I do now that I would never have thought of then and aspects of life then that were critical that have no value to my life now. Kids need routine, it’s really important for them and good for their development; but they also desperately need to learn to be flexible and solve problems. And they should first and foremost see their parents doing the same!

Here are some questions that are helpful to me:

  • What is going to be most helpful?
  • What is the goal?
  • What is going to accomplish this task?
  • What do I need to learn about? Who do I need to talk to?
  • What will set them up for success/help them navigate this issue in a life-giving way? (Parenting older kids)

Make Having a Baby a Breeze



I realized a week or so ago that I desperately needed to make a list of things to do before baby comes.  Here it is.  Share it with anyone getting ready to have a baby!

My husband is smart and savvy and entirely capable of handling the home and the kids, but we have a LOT of kids and being REALLY ready will make life a little more doable.

  • Empty the vacuum(s)

Why?  Because vacuuming is chore enough, let alone if it’s super full and the trash is too full to dump it.  So having this done avoids all that.

  • Top off all the soap dispensers

I make my own foaming handsoap (1 oz Castille soap + water=Done!), which my husband has never done.  Let’s just not have to deal with that for a few weeks (we have 2-3 spares).

  • Make sure you’re stocked on toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, tissues, shampoo and soap, etc.

Because the things you buy less often are easier to forget about and no one enjoys running out of TP.

  • Make disposable cleaning wipes

Having a lot of kids means you’re cleaning up stuff CONSTANTLY.  And having cheap disposable cleaning wipes means that it’s easier.  Period.  The link in my Pinterest doesn’t work anymore, but basically, you use a serrated knife to cut a roll of high quality paper towels (like Brawny) to fit in your container.  Then mix 1/4 cup of all-purpose cleaner like Lysol with 2 1/4 cups of water and pour it over (remove the cardboard tube after 10 minutes or so).  I had my husband drill a hole in the lid of my container, but most of the time, I just remove the lid to get wipes out easier since they tend to shred when pulled through the hole.  The wipes are great, but you have to get used to them (they’re certainly not as strong as commercial wipes).

  • Transition clothes for other kids (or get them ready in a trashbag or box)

Are seasons changing? Has someone just had a crazy growth spurt?  This will be a major headache if the main person who does this can’t and it needs to be done desperately.

  • Start making a list of freezer meals to make/freeze beforehand

This time, hubby said he wants about 8 casseroles frozen to use about once or twice a week and he’ll cook the other couple times a week (he’s really quite something).  I definitely COULD search my Freezer Food board on Pinterest, but I think I’ll stick to old favorites that I have saved in Disheroo (cue shameless plug, HERE!) to make the planning and shopping list ZERO EFFORT.

You Don’t Have to Hate Transitioning Clothes


A friend recently posted on Facebook her trials with seasonal clothing transition for her four children.  I was a little surprised at how similar I and the other commenters view this task: We all seem to LOATHE it.

This has been an area of major growth for me.  One thing I’ve done has made a HUGE difference and I thought I’d share it.  Several days ago, I had to paw through my 2T tub and it was an ordeal–because I hadn’t worked the magic on it.

Here’s the MAGIC:

I divide every size tub of clothes into seasons in trashbags that I can tie and untie.  So then I can open the tub, and open the trashbag I need (which I’ve labeled with a Sharpie) and find what I need or put stuff back.

OK, that doesn’t sound spectacular, does it?  We have winter (turtlenecks, longjohns, blanket-weight/fleece pjs, etc), summer (shorts, tank tops, etc), and spring/fall (a good mix of short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts, capris, and long pants).

This cuts my “shopping” down to about a third of the work and frustration.


View yourself as “shopping” in your available clothes.  NOT EVERYTHING has to go into the dresser.

It’s really helpful to accurately assess what the child will really wear and let that and your laundry schedule drive your “shopping” decisions.  I do kid laundry on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so I don’t need more than 3 pairs of jeans or jammies per kid.

I don’t bring the tubs upstairs.  I take a laundry basket down for my “shopping trip” for the child.  This prevents having massive tubs overtake our home, having to lift and maneuver them up and down the stairs, and introducing wrong-season or otherwise unhelpful clothes into that child’s dresser.

I want my kids to look cute, but clothes don’t really matter to me.  Mostly, I want them to be situationally- and weather-appropriate, comfortable, and economically attired.  We buy infrequently–and when we want to for a specific reason, or have gaps to fill–that’s it.

Wardrobe capsules: if you’re not familiar, this is essentially a pared-down collection of pieces you love that work well together.  This is always my aim.

I keep a Goodwill box ready downstairs to easily toss items I’ve always hated or which are heavily stained.

When we’re done with certain pieces, putting away by season is a LOT easier.  Stuff little shorts in the summer bag and be done!

We’re down to 3 dresser drawers per kid.  When they’re crowded, it means some items need to find their way back to tubs.  But I keep a small space for off-season just-in-case items.  In summer: a pair of jeans and a cardigan; in winter: 1-2 t-shirts and a pair of good general-use shorts.

Keep what you NEED and WANT and leave the rest in the tub.

We DO buy shoes.  Once our kids start kindergarten, shoes seem to self-destruct on their little feet.

You’ll have to make adjustments depending on your climate.  (Texans don’t generally need a lot of winter wear, but we need months worth of clothes to handle snow on the ground.)

We’ve gotten a number of beautiful and precious dresses from people, but our girls only wear them to weddings or other special occasions.  So they stay in the tubs in the basement and I get them out when necessary.

Those t-shirts kids get from sports and activities that don’t really fit?  Unless school or the activity tell them to wear them, my kids won’t, so they’re one of the first things to go.  Surely, you have some category like this that is plaguing your dressers.  Toss ’em as soon as you can!




5 Life-Changing Products

These are some of my all-time favorite products.  You may not need them, but they might just be a game-changer for you, too!  (And c’mon, Christmas is right around the corner!)

Hoover Linx


I cannot adequately explain to you my undying love for this vacuum.  At $100, it’s certainly more than an entry-level stick vac, but I guarantee that if you have a lot of hard floors, it will become entirely worth it!  I can vacuum my entire downstairs on one charge.  It handles hard floors like a dream.  The brush head is controlled with the power button and is super-convenient; it’s a snap to use it in both modes (with brush head or without).  It also vacuums carpet, but not quite as well.  Because it’s cordless, vacuuming is infinitely easier (no running around plugging in and unplugging).  It’s much more convenient to tidy up occasional spills and those spots where dirt, hair, and grass accumulate.  It’s lightweight and good opportunity to get kids involved in daily chores.  No bags to keep up with, just dump the canister when full.  And it only takes 3 hours to fully charge, so you can easily vacuum before and after guests.

Rubbermaid Reveal


The initial system is $35, and that includes 1 bottle and 1 pad.  You can grab another bottle and pad for $4.70 and $5.99 respectively.  The pads are machine washable, which means that for just pennies and 45 minutes in the washing machine, your mop is ready to go again. Rubbermaid says each pad can last for about 200 mopping sessions before needing to be replaced.  I have 2 bottles, which lets me pre-mix my cleaning solution whenever I have 3 minutes.  Here’s the best part: there’s NO CHANCE that my husband would mop up messes with a traditional mop and bucket and measuring a cleaning solution–it’s just too much of an ordeal.  He WILL grab this sucker and give the floor a few quick swipes!  Which means that we’re keeping things cleaner for less money.  No wipes or expensive solutions to buy (I use Murphy’s Oil Soap, but you can literally use whatever your little heart desires).  It DOES have a teeny-tiny learning curve (you have to get used to the trigger and how to handle the suction on the bottle since it’s a spray mop), but it’s not significant.

Panasonic Ladies Electric Shaver


Whoa.  Consider yourself free to have shaved legs with total convenience.  I am no longer shackled to the shower for this task.  I had an electric shaver when I was a teenager.  It sucked.  This one is AWESOME.  Especially with small kids, hectic life, and showering becoming a much less reliable institution for me, this product has become crucial.  It’s $20 and allows me to have sleek legs in 5 minutes.  It’s wet/dry so you CAN still use it in the shower, but I haven’t.  EVER.  It charges in 24 hours, but you can shave your legs like 10 times between charges (and now that I think about it, it’s never even died on me–I just charge it to avoid that).

Device Organizer


Ok, it seems ludicrous to pay $40 for something like this, right?  But it took the quadmire of stacked devices and tangled cords and transformed them into a tidy corner of accessible tech heaven.  I have it tucked in a bookshelf, so it holds 2 laptops as well as other devices like a champ.

Lobby Broom and Dustpan


Jen, why don’t you just use a normal broom and dustpan?  Because whereever my children eat, there is a HUGE MESS on the floor.  So since I LOATHE crumbs and dirty floors, that means I’m sweeping a lot.  And 1 thing I’ve learned is that if you have tiny people running around, they are oblivious to piles of dirt on the floor and they will run right THROUGH it and track it all through the house.  So I don’t make a dirt pile–sweeping it into the dustpan immediately is way more efficient.  And I’m not bending over constantly because I’m too old for that nonsense.  Know why businesses and airports have people walking around sweeping with these things?  Because it makes more sense.  And even though it’s gross, this one allows me NOT to dump it if I’m in a jam.

Have your own list of products that you ADORE?  Share them with me!!!

The 1 Parenting Car Hack That You Need Now


This isn’t really for traveling.  This is for any car trip ever.  Once this saves your bacon (like it has mine and I’ve only used it for one trip), you will never be the same.  Are you ready to be amazed?


For each kid in your vehicle who is old enough and capable, give them a gallon storage bag.  They can tuck it into their carseat or the pocket in front of them–anywhere within reach.   Now the next time they say, “Oh, I don’t feel good…,” instead of panicking or pulling over (or not and reaping the consequences), you just say, “Get your bag ready, but try NOT to throw up!”

At the most, it will cost you $0.10 for the bag.  The last time a kid threw up in the car, we were out of town and ended up stopping at a store and buying trash bags and cleaner, costing around $15, so this is DEFINITELY worth it!


Store baby clothes like never before

We’re having another baby. And we’re out of room. Like lots of families, the first several weeks of newborn-ness are spent with baby in our room. So while thinking about how to facilitate this a few weeks ago, I was pinning away and came across all these pins about using shoe organizers for snacks and other stuff and I thought, “maybe that would work for baby clothes!”  So $10 later, I’m optimistic!



  • It really limits you and encourages minimalism
  • I got an entire laundry basket of clothes in here and had 3-4 pockets empty still (I need to add hats, socks, and burp cloths)
  • It doesn’t require any different kind of folding
  • There will be zero barriers to customization–anything will be able to go anywhere and we can move item to different pockets in a snap
  • When we’re done with this stage, it’ll be really easy to repurpose the organizer
What do I have in here?
  • 3-4 “outfit” onesies
  • 6 pairs of pants (all 6 in one pocket was no problem)
  • 2 jackets
  • 15 sleepers (2 fit in each pocket nicely)
  • 4 longsleeved onesie/matching pants combos
  • ~8 short-sleeved onesies
  • a swaddler (I have 3 more to add since these are CRUCIAL!)
  • a couple newborn diapers that I found hiding on my changing table from last baby
  • a new pack of wipes (it didn’t really fit, it was CRAMMED in there, but maybe a partial or a travel pack?)

I’m entirely certain that I can add 8 pairs of socks and 2-3 hats in one pocket, neither of those particular baby item do we use very much.  We really just stick to sleepers.  And I will probably get rid of 4 more sleepers to free up 2 more pockets for burp clothes or more swaddlers since with doing 3 loads of kid laundry each week, we should be fine with 10 sleepers.  And realistically, with her being a November baby, I won’t need the warm-weather “outfit” onesies (maybe I’ll just take a picture of her in them and then put them away!)

Your Worst Packing Mistakes


We all want to be ninjas at packing.  Especially if we’re packing for our kids, too.  Here are some really common mistakes of mine that make the entire process stressful.

1.  Forget to check the weather situation

For our first anniversary, my husband and I went on a vacation to Washington, DC.  It was fun, but would have been a lot more fun if we had checked the weather and not frozen our butts off.

2. Have no idea of what you will do day-to-day

The prospect of needing something and not having it will cause #3 and possibly #8.  And you won’t look your best or will have to go shopping unexpectedly.  Bad.

3. Pack too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right things

Yes I do need 4 pairs of virtually identical flip flops, but I forgot underwear.  Again.

4. Run out of your tools (suit cases, Ziploc bags, etc)

Oh, remember?  That suitcase’s zipper ripped right off the last time we used it.  Did we replace it? No.  Whoops.  FAIL.

5. Pack stuff you don’t love

There is something wrong with me.  When I pack for Christmas, I inevitably believe that I will love to wear sweaters and pack them for daily wear.  I don’t wear them at home because between all the dishes and kids, they just don’t mesh well for me.  But when I pack for travelling, I become very stupid about what’s real in terms of my fashion preferences.

6. Start way too late

For me, gone are the days when 15 minutes and an empty bag complete the packing process.  I now pack for myself and several children, so I require approximately 37 years to pack for an overnight.  That’s an exaggeration.  However, 4 hours is the fastest I’ve ever realistically packed JUST FOR MY KIDS for an overnight, and that was when they were older and easy (no spit-up, predictable diaper patterns, no baby food).  Recently, when we had a TRIP with a variety of weather needs and fanciness needs and other people taking care of kids and a lot of HOOPLA– I started TWO WEEKS ahead of time planning and figuring everything out (including hiding the clothes I wanted to pack).  I am well aware of the seemingly RIDICULOUS nature of that statement, but we had everything we needed and it was one of the least stressful experiences to date.

7.  Use a “system” that’s incompatible with your personality (notes, lists, winging it, etc)

It’s pretty clear that if I ever winged anything, our house would burn down.  So that doesn’t work for me.  But I have very sweet, competent friends who would lose their VERY MINDS if I came at them with the packing list I have saved on my laptop.  Use what actually works for you.  If what you use doesn’t work, make a change.


The first time we traveled with our first child, I pretty well cleaned out all of her dresser drawers.  I was convinced that she would NEED every single onesie we owned.  Unsurprisingly, my husband did NOT enjoy packing the car and it was really hard to find everything we actually needed during the trip.  When we go fishing out in the middle of nowhere, I pack pretty heavily.  Otherwise, I know that we can probably make do or, as a last resort, make a trip to a nearby store.

9. If it’s a long trip, still try to pack enough clothes for the whole time, even though there’s convenient laundry services available

Not only will you have trouble getting it all in your suitcase and car, but you can look forward to wading through a sea of laundry when you get home!

10. Go shopping at the last minute

Does anyone ever have time for this?  This is 100% guaranteed to make my stress shoot through the roof.

The Truth About Laundry


A while back I opened up a survey with some questions I was curious about in terms of laundry.  Here are the results.

If you want to take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/58FNWD7

The breakdown: We all have easy access to laundry services, the vast majority have it in our private residence, and we’re all over the place on how frequently we do laundry.  Bottom line: most of us struggle getting our laundry folded or put away.

The stats:

93% of respondents were female, 7% declined to answer

Work Status:
work full time: 26.67%
care for the needs of my home/family full time: 53.33%
work part time: 6.67%
am a full time student: 13.33%
am retired: 0%
other: 0%

What is your relationship to the laundry process?
I am the laundry person in my household: 93.33%
I do some laundry sometimes: 6.67%

Describe your laundry situation:
I have a washer/dryer in my private residence: 86.67%
I have shared laundry services in my building: 13.33%

How do you do things?
I wash and dry all my laundry on one day: 26.67%
I wash and dry at least one load daily: 6.67%
I wash and dry loads as needed: 40%
It kind of depends on life that week: 26.67%

I consider myself:
a structured/organized person: 60%
a non-structured/organized person: 40%

What is the HARDEST part of the laundry process for you?
Remembering to transition the load to the dryer (or clothesline, if that’s your thing): 6.67%
Folding; Everything ends up wrinkled in baskets until I need it: 46.67%
Putting the laundry away: 46.67%

What is your household reality in regards to “stuff”?
We have way too much stuff! 26.67%
We declutter pretty frequenty, but still have more than we really need 53.33%
We only have/buy what we really need/want 13.33%
I don’t understand.  My stuff is just my stuff. 6.67%

6 Savvy Ways to Use Command Hooks That You’re Missing


I LOVE Command Hooks!  They’re easy to remove, but even if they don’t quite work for you in one instance, they can show you if you want a permanent hook without making any permanent changes.

1.  So helpful to have more hooks for holding towels (or whatever)!


2.  I have NO storage under my sink, since it’s a pedestal sink.  So I needed a creative way to hang my cleaning cloths!

image   norwex_v2



3.  I took a coat closet door with 1 nail and put up 9 hooks for kid vests, coats, and jackets.  Incredibly helpful!



4.  I didn’t have any more storage space for my microwave cover, but I DID have wall space…it’s perhaps a bit tacky, but I LOVE that it doesn’t have to sit on the counter or in the microwave anymore!

image  image

5.  I wanted a convenient place for oven mitts and AGAIN I had wall space and nothing else

image   ovenmitt_v2


6.  We have a STUFFED kids’ activity bookshelf.  And I needed more space.  So I stuck some hooks on the side and hung Ziplock bags that I hole punched on them.  I DO want to continue downsizing our stash and at that point, being able to remove them easily will be great, but for now they work SO WELL.