How to Maximize Under the Bed Storage while Keeping it Dust Free under There

How to Maximize Under the Bed Storage while Keeping it Dust Free under There

  1. Fly to another state to visit your siblings after your quarterly discovery that there is dust all over the luggage you keep under the bed.
  2. Have 2 kids. Neither of them should be fully potty trained when you begin this project, though both of them are old enough.*
  3. After having a lovely dinner with friends, go home with the book they lent you: Potty Training without Tantrums by John Rosemond.
  4. Discover chapter 8 (or is it 5?), which deals with interventions for children who are more than old enough to correctly use the little ladies and little men’s rooms. This applies to your situations.
  5. Casually leave the book out.
  6. Casually rejoice when Husband observes, out of the blue, that he read the book and, ‘there’s something to his ideas’. (Note that at this point you are not desperate for a potty solution,  because you have moved beyond that stage.)
  7. Decide to embark on said intervention during a long weekend since the preschool will be closed.
  8. The day before departure on said journey, borrow another baby gate. You will use gates, on the advice of said expert author, to gate both kids into separate bathrooms until they produce.
  9. Also that evening, draft a Potty Flow Chart with the plan for this journey (see below for an early example of ours). No pun intended.
  10. Realize that you need to get the 3 year old out of the crib since he can’t be a responsible pre-schooler who uses the potty if he is trapped in a crib during nap and bedtime.
  11. The next morning (D Day!), note that the crib has a large/wide drawer that is the perfect size for under the bed storage in your room.
  12. Rejoice!**
  13. Disassemble the crib and bring it – all but the wonderful drawer! – to the garage while your children alternately fuss and get real quiet in their respective bathrooms.
  14. Proceed with the day according to the Potty Flow Chart.
  15. Clean out the dusty drawer instead of setting the table for dinner.*** If this goes according to plan, the child that is upstairs has been crying pitifully for 28 full minutes at the top of the steps****.
  16. You are resolved, thanks to Dr. Rosemond, to see this through and let the kids take care of their own potty needs and clean up, thank you very much. Take a second as you walk to the bottom of the steps to re-resolve.
  17. Head up the steps with the drawer that is twice your size.
  18. Open the gate while managing not to fall down the steps.
  19. Avoid hurting the child with the gate as it opens (he/she is a mere 2.3 inches away).
  20. Achieve the last step up, realizing that the texture is not that of an old wood floor. It is pee.
  21. Get the dumb drawer over the pee puddle while telling said child to clean up after him/herself, for goodness sake. Also try to avoid whacking your child with the drawer as you swing it around to the other part of the hallway.
  22. Rejoice! There’s no pee on your new storage phenomenon, and the child is unharmed!
  23. Pick up the stack of things the drawer knocked from the banister to the (mercifully) dry side of the hallway.*****
  24. The 2nd morning of the Great Potty Intervention, cry as you put the kids back in Potty Prison.
  25. Go to the office to online shop, because you have realized in the last 24 hours that a drawer, even a large one, doth not prevent dust under the bed. You need a dust ruffle. You have a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon.
  26. Realize that your box spring, upon which the dust ruffle will be placed, is low profile. Not standard. You don’t know what size dust ruffle you need, and in order to find out you have to measure, and in order to do that you have to walk past 1 of the bathrooms. You are not willing to show your face to a child who you have imprisoned. This is not due to guilt. You are merely following the advice of the good doctor to not intervene. The child makes his/her own poop.
  27. Resolve to measure for a dust ruffle just as soon as you can without compromising potty prison time.
  28. Since you are in Office Prison, write a blog post detailing these steps for the benefit of humanity.
  29. Done!

*Editor’s note: steps 1 and 2 can be interchanged.

**You are a mere 17 steps away from maximizing under the bed storage while keeping it dust free under there.

***An entire day has gone by. Both kids are still in their respective bathrooms.

****Editor’s note: ***is incorrect. One child is 2 feet outside the bathroom at the top of the steps currently.

*****Somehow, you are back on the steps at this point, behind the gate, behind the pee puddle and sobbing child. Somehow the kids has a rag and cleaning up through tears. The drawer is a mere 4 feet away, but feels like an ocean’s distance. It’s just like Jane Eyre described to Mr. Rochester the night he proposed. “Your wife stands between us.” Or something like that. You don’t remember the exact quote. You haven’t read a real book since college – only the pertinent parts of Potty Training without Tantrums. Heck, you had to search the entire internet for ‘Jane Eyre characters’ in order to remember Mr. Rochester’s name.

Hat tip to Jen Hatmaker’s style of How To lists.



Custom Power Poem for All Us Mamas


I am blown away. WP_20170928_003

This beautiful poem from a dear grandma lady, who is in our community, arrived in the mail today. I called Karen Beltz to thank her, and to ask if I could post it here. She wrote it for me. I just know that it’s for all of us.

Read it and enjoy. (I believe if you click on it, you can then zoom in to see better each page).


I, for one, am still digesting it. I think I will read it every day.

Blessings to you and yours,

Mary Clare


Mercy is Blue, and Other Mom Moments

Mercy is Blue, a 3 word poem that came to mind as I tiptoed through the garden hose to turn on the water to clean off the rocks that we got at the construction site nearby. “Mercy” has pride of place in our kitchen, where I wrote the word during Lent during potty training, which we still have not completed. I guess mercy, too, is never finished.

Blue mercy is especially important since it is Josh’s all time and only  favorite color for all time, and big sister has finally admitted that it is her “best” as well. Mercy is so personal.

Mercy me, I often teared up several years back, every time I thought of my own mother. I think, now that I know that mercy is blue, that I was blue, remembering her mercy.  To me.


Here they are, playing on the teeter totter with one of the rocks. Which, considering it is only a mere rock, is an act if mercy, yes?! Ok, I admit, that’s stretching our definition a little far. 😉 I do it for the sake of the unity of this random post. But the rock isn’t blue. And neither are you, I hope!

There! Another poem. So this post is totally unified. 😀

Happy end of summer and beginning of fall, friends!





Songs & a Sermon for Holy Week

Hello busy mamas! I’ve started a YouTube playlist of excellent Good Friday songs. Particularly Thief by Third Day. I play on listening to this today in the midst of our hustle and bustle. I’ve always found that something like this helps to preserve the solemnity of this particular day.

Also, tomorrow, I’m looking forward to meditating on the Holy Saturday sermon that I posted last year.

Have a blessed remainder of this Holy Week.



Potty Talk

We are potty training our 4 year old, and I want to share about it, being careful to stick to the mothering side of it, and to speak well of her. She could be reading this in a couple of years!

A couple quick observations, as this is all we have time for:

  1. Dedicating time to this is of course essential. I had to decide to be willing to sit with her for up to an hour at a time, reading, singing, waiting, encouraging, etc.
  2. This is my Lenten penance. And I keep telling myself that it isn’t petty or choosing the “easy”, “obvious” thing. Choosing love in ordinary circumstances is harder, for me, than choosing some heroic deprivation that isn’t related to my friends and relations.
  3. The Holy Spirit is awesome on the subject of potty training. For instance, I prayed/yelped out to the Lord several weeks ago: ‘I have NO IDEA what to do! The date to start is coming and I’m FREAKING out!!! This will be the hardest child to train IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE!’ And, behold, The One Day Method popped into my mind. From the little I had heard, I suddenly realized that it would be perfect for the personality of our daughter. More planning/prep for me, but perfect. I didn’t think of it until I prayed, and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to choose it (procrastinator that I am), if it hadn’t been presented through prayer.
  4. Day 3, I penciled in a visit to friends if ‘things were going well’. The day before, I sent that mama a text saying we were good to go. Day of, that didn’t seem to be the case (I’ll spare you the details), but, again, I thought it had been an inspiration of the Holy Spirit the day before to decide to go, so after waffling for 3 hours that morning, I went ahead and got us out the door. It turned out to be helpful to my social butterfly, even though getting out of the house on day 3 does not strictly follow the method.
  5. The Spirit blows where it wills.

Gotta run. Pray for us, as we are praying for you!

Happy Lent!

Mary Clare


Where in the World

…have I been? Well, so distracted that I don’t remember if I told you all that I have started working outside the home. And by “working”, I mean 4-7 hours per week. Sound do-able? I thought so too! I mean, that’s really not a lot of time. It was a fascinating and strange process to discern whether to do this.

Here’re some rambling observations…maybe there are others out there with similar experience…

  • The job is for Marriage in Christ, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Attend a seminar!
  • We did one 3 years ago, and the fruit just goes on and on. For instance, I have [nearly] ceased [almost] all of my Erik Improvement Projects. If you have ever thought that you knew what your husband should be doing or should be like, you know what I mean. It is slow and subtle personal poison.
  • Priorities: God comes first, our spouse second, kids third, and then everything else comes after that.
  • So, what’s a gal to do when a job is for God? Does that make it a #4 or a #1 priority?!
  • In fact, even if you are not working directly for a religion-based program/church…isn’t everything we do missional?
  • Isn’t “missional” a word? Spell check is yelling at me right now.
  • Even at only 5 hours a week, and even if I do most of it while they nap, I still feel divided. My attention is divided. The kids are affected by this.
  • Exactly a week ago plus 2.18 hours [this means dinner prep time and is also known as
    “the witching hour”. Anyone with young kids knows what I mean.], I was helping my daughter tape something, but all I could think about was washing lettuce for dinner. When I finally headed into the kitchen I just HAD to call our babysitter’s mother first to set something up for Monday. She happened to ring me at that second, and we talked about Monday and 2 other things (by the way, about Monday I had to call her TWO more times to clarify because I was so distracted by unwashed lettuce the first time), and all the sudden I look down, and one of the kids is whining loudly and hitting me.

    • For how long had they been hitting me?
    • For how long had they been whining?
    • I don’t know.
    • In what other occupation can a person be abused, and not even notice it?

Motherhood is interesting.

The end, and God bless you!


Best Home Hacks of 2016


Ladies (and gentlemen), I am thrilled to pieces over this kitchen hack:  (I found it first through this article, through Pinterest.)

No more hand shredding of chicken!!! It totally works to get it all nicely shredded in your stand mixer using this paddle attachment, and I used the same method for pulled pork last week. The above tip advises that the chicken be still warm when you let it whirl. I have found over the last year that barely warm is best, or else too much steam escapes and the chicken gets dry.

Oh, and I know you’re wondering if it’s worth hauling out and cleaning your Kitchen Aid simply to shred chicken. For me, it totally is. I am the world’s slowest shredder, and also prone to carpel tunnel syndrome. This trick accomplishes the same thing in 5 minutes (including cleaning time), without the ache and hand damage.


And then there’s this book holder, reversed to hold a tablet that is courtesy of yours truly. My kids can have a little screen time without being couch potatoes, because they have to stand in order to see it. Reversing it accomplishes the needed angle. Also, it is too high for them to reach, which in turn frees up MORE dinner prep time since I don’t have to run in and reverse anything little fingers have accomplished on the tablet. Win. Win. Win. Win.





God bless you all this season. Hope you are closing the year with some real gratitude, some accomplishments under your homemaking belt, etc. If it’s been too tough to think of or do anything (been there!), sneak one of these in before Jan 1, and BAM!, successful 2016. 😀 (I say this somewhat sarcastically, and at the risk of sounding shallow. But really, it has helped me personally to look back at easy things I learned that have made a positive difference in our lives this year. A week or so ago, I couldn’t think of anything. It’s weird how easy it is to forget good things. These here in this post are little things, but still so very helpful, and completely worth celebrating.)


Frumpy Friday Summary

Door county welcomed us magnificently last week. Can you spot the moon? It appeared triple in size, so the photo doesn’t translate fully, but is still lovely, I feel. Honey lost his job the day before we took this planned vacation (his new company appears to be trimming after a merger). I am weighing supporting the family and serving the Lord (at least a little bit), by doing some work outside the home. Apparently, women for centuries and in cultures all over the world have contributed to economic needs. Whether this is God’s will for our specific family at this specific time is a major question. It would be so much easier if I had planted a bigger garden! Then, I would be canning veggies right now, and BOOM, economic contribution would be in the bag, er, jar. 😉

Little man explores his newly-lengthened pj’s. I found a relatively simple, DIY way to extend the life of footy pajamas by cutting them near the feet and inserting a new swatch of fabric. It’s something of a hack job, and when I accidentally put the first couple of seams on the outside instead of in, it became more so. : D Oh,well! The net effect is the same, and so much better than spending an abominable amount of time with a seam ripper.

The art on the wall is cut cardboard and paint. Wow! So simple, so effective. It did a lot for the medical waiting room that we were in a few days back. Again, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

We did plant a few rows of carrots. Not only did these two come up white, but check out the one on the right! The weave of the stems was intricate and lovely, just like our Lord’s quiet plan for us. I know he holds us in the inner palm of his hand, and so why, then, shall I worry about money?

God love you,


Perfect Prayer


Yesterday, I hustled the kids outside for a walk before dinner time, all the while checking my watch and calculating how long it would take to heat leftovers, for how long we could therefore walk, and whether I could somehow successfully avoid parks, the cemetary, and hills. (I knew we didn’t have time to play at a park or the cemetery. I knew I lacked the fortitude for hills. Tell me you know what I mean! I’m not the only one, right? Right?)

Anywho, Surprisingly, one child was really having a hard time with this particular walk. There was lots of whining, and this is highly unusual, so we headed early for home, and I got busy raking pine needles. They have blanketed our entire yard in this lovely buttery-apricot color. Despite the unpleasant whining, I wasn’t going to waste the time we took getting ready to go out for one measly little turn about two hill-less blocks! Little man got out of the stroller and began exploring. My daughter stayed in.

Eventually, she got interested enough to climb out and grab a stick, so as to imitate Mommy raking. The two of them made up some games involving sticks. No-ones’ eye was poked out. And eventually, we had to go back inside to start microwaving things for Weft-over Wednesday, as I like to dub our mid-week dinner. 😉

I’m getting to the point: when Daddy got home, somehow, instead of everyone else ending up banished from the madhouse of my kitchen so that I can scurry around, Daddy and little man ended up squarely in the middle, Joshy in his arms. Our two year old is normally less cuddly at this time of day. It’s all about running around, and trains. But yesterday, around the time I was turning from the sink towards the microwave for round 3 of dinner prep, I catch Joshy spontaneously saying to daddy, “I had a weally good time outside today.”

And it just really caught my attention and my heart. It came unbidden out of the sweet mouth of a goofy kid who we like to call “Mr. Pleasant”. He wanted to share with his daddy that he ‘had a weally good time outside today’. That’s all he said, and it might sound trivial or ordinary, but it looked and sounded just like prayer to me. A son, secure in his father’s arms, shared with his father something that mattered to him. His Daddy was there to and listen and to get an idea of the what makes up the being of this kid. And sharing that all with his Daddy is just exactly what mattered to this boy at the time. It was a moment when the two seemed as one.

Now, does this mean I had a similarly revealing talk with my heavenly father this morning in prayer? Not remotely! I somehow managed to distract myself, even with the loveliest of examples before me. Still, I want to record it for posterity. Eventually, that freedom and giving has gotta have some seapage effect on this busy mama. Right? Right!? Well, anyways, until I can learn to pray well through osmosis, I am thinking seriously about doing meditations on the life of Jesus, in order to get to know him better and get to a place where we can talk as close friends. The German side of me is really struggling with the logistics, considering that I will need to find a solid hour (after making coffee) during which the house is quiet and the soul is willing.

Are there any other moms out there who pray for an hour plus? How do you do it? Is it even possible? I need any and all ideas. Thank you!