How to Get Your Kids to Do the Laundry

We have a very special, how should I put it, ceremony for our children when they turn 8 years old in our house.

They get their first laundry basket (Just for you! Yay! Look at the pretty white basket!) They are given several tutorials on the fine art of waiting-until-you’re-out-of-socks-and-then-stuffing-as-much-as-you-can-in-the-washer.

It’s a beautiful event and brings a tear to my eyes. I always hope God will call one of my offspring to a deep love for laundry. It would be a much-appreciated ministry in this house.

I originally thought this “bestowment” of a chore would mean less work for me (ah, selfish ambition). It doesn’t really, but my kids are wear less clothes, because they want less work. A win-win.

When I introduced my kids to our new washer and dryer, it was love at first load. “Look how big the tub is!” they cried. “I love the tune it plays when you open it!” My kids rejoiced because this wasn’t a gift just for mom, it was for the whole family. They were a bit disappointed that it didn’t come with a fold-it-sloppily-and-stuff-it-in-your-drawer feature, but we can’t have it all.

I still monitor my kids in their weekly washing experience, especially since they are still in the ketchup-sleeve, drink-spilling stage. Come to think of it, I may still be in that phase of life. I depend on my Maytag Bravos XL washer to help me stain-fight. I was in a hurry the other day and I forgot to remind my daughter to pre-treat the food stain. I was really impressed the barbecue sauce came out of my daughter’s top.

I realized after all these years of looking for help with laundry, I finally have caring assistants. They are sleek and excellent at what they do! Welcome to the family, Maytag Bravos washer and dryer! Make sure you check out these resources:

Disclaimer: I wrote this post as a #MayTagMoms Dependable Laundry Ambassador through mom Central Consulting on behalf of Maytag. I was provided with the Maytag washer and dryer set to facilitate my post.

WFMW: Organized Chaos

I like to prepare myself before I enter my kid’s rooms. My delicate constitution (OCD) can’t handle it some days. I try to give my expressive kids (they take after their father) plenty of warning before I go into their rooms. I have less heart palpatations that way.

One way to contain some of the chaos is with labeled baskets.

These sit at the bottom of the stairs and have each of my kid’s names on a laminated tag. When my kids go upstairs to their rooms, they can either take the basket and deliver their scattered items to their place of find whatever is missing. I place lost shoes, random papers, toys, etc in the baskets. I also make everyone empty their baskets once a week.

It’s chaotic, but it makes sense in my little world.

Labeled baskets on the stairs work for us!

(I just used baskets I had at home, but I really love this Stair Step Basket w/Handle created just for stairs (Amazon link)  and I’m absolutely addicted to my  Labeler Machine. You’re welcome.)

A Birthday Letter to My Husband {Giveaway}

UPDATE: Congratulations to the randomly chosen winners! Stacy and Bethany – an email has been sent your way.

Dear Husband,

This week you turn a year older. Lately I’ve noticed how good older looks on you. The gray in your beard makes you look distinguished, the crinkle around your eyes reminds me of all the laughter we’ve shared, usually at inappropriate times. No doubt about it, you are getting better with age. Forget going over the hill, you make it look sexy.

Yesterday you quietly turned off my alarm clock and did my morning routine, so my head cold and I could sleep longer. How did you know this one small act would make my heart smile and make me feel better? I’ve lost count of all the small acts of kindness over the years, but they do not go unnoticed.

I love the way you love me.

A young married mom from church sent me a thank you note recently. She wrote that she loved watching the way we love each other. She’s only been married a couple of years and wanted to let us know our marriage inspired her. She doesn’t know how easy it is to love you, how unselfish you are, how far we’ve come….

But I know. And when I read her words, my heart beat wildly because I remember the hard days when we tied a knot at the end of our marriage and clung for dear life. I remember wondering if we would make it another day, much less a year. I remember wondering if we’d ever feel the way we do about each other today. I am thankful for those hard days because they make the good ones better.

Today, I celebrate you.

Happy birthday, honey.

I’m wearing this super cute shirt to let the world know. (I’ve been stopped by two people already asking about it. I beamed telling them about you. I used to think love like this was gross…):

Your love covers me.


Your Wife

P.S. Here’s the back in case anyone wonders how I really feel.












In celebration of my hubby turning a year older (42!), Union28 is giving away two of their adorable new Umbrella Tees. They come in all sizes/styles. Winner’s choice.

PLUS: Use code: U28TFK15 to get 15% off your order! Great sales going on right now…

Leave a comment telling me how your spouse takes care of you as your entry!

This giveaway ends on Thursday.

Leave It to Beaver

I have a cold.

I’m in that coughing stage where I’m actually getting better, but sound awful.  I realized as I hacked up a lung on the flight to Atlanta for Together for Adoption, that I was the reason Airborne was created. Every time I had a coughing fit, I watched the elderly lady in front of me pat her hair.

I am really sorry about that.

In other news, my father-in-law is having a big beaver problem on his cattle farm. The beavers are wrecking his ponds. My husband texted me a picture of the beavers he caught. Which is pretty romantic, I might add. I replied,  “your dad really needs a reality show called Those Dam Beavers.”

I was pretty proud of that.


While I was away coughing and loving mercy, my husband was in charge at home.

He sent me some pictures of my kids playing in the rain with the caption, “this is why I’m the fun parent.”

I responded with “where in the world are you?”

Our backyard.

Awesome, apparently we have a wee bit of a drainage problem when it rains.

I love getting to tell the Mercy House story, but I hate missing moments like these (taken from my husband’s Facebook wall):

5 yr old – what are we having for dinner?
My husband: steak
5 yr old nearly crying – I’m going to fix my own dinner. I don’t like snake.
My husband:: Honey, I said S T E A K

As I put her to bed tonight, I snuggled up and told her how much I missed her.

She hugged me back and said, “I sort of like it when you leave.”

Ah, family.


“I still struggle with stuff,” I said to the young married girl standing in my living room the other day.

“You mean like having, buying, getting stuff? Even after Africa, after all you’ve seen? This makes me feel better,” she confessed.

Why are we afraid to admit we struggle? While my struggle has changed in the last two and a half years, it’s still there, resurfacing nearly every time I see a throw pillow that would look amazing on my bed.

Last week, I bought a new one. I hope you’re not disappointed in me.

Here’s the honest deal: When I returned from my first trip to Kenya, I was wrecked. My husband and kids had little wrapped gifts for me. I refused to open them and asked that they be returned. For months, I cleared and cleaned out, I struggled, I labored with responding to what I’d experienced. We sponsored six more Compassion kids, I didn’t go to my favorite store once in all those months. I decided we would only wear second-hand clothes, I only bought fair-trade gifts, I set up this prison of self-sacrifice that made my entire family miserable.

And then finally, I discovered all the pain was leading to an unplanned and unexpected birth, it was hard labor and it produced Mercy House.

One day a wise friend said to me (after hearing of my ridiculous search for second hand black pants my daughter needed for a concert), “what is your one thing?”

“What do you mean?” I asked cautiously.

“What is your passion? If you could pick one thing God has called you to. What would it be? One.”

I answered, “Encouraging mothers. Here and around the world.”

Then the words that brought freedom, “Kristen, you’re wasting a lot of time and energy trying to do it all. Your giving a lot, sacrificing with your time for Mercy House. Don’t let guilt rule you. Buy what you need and occasionally something you want. You’re all tangled up in sacrifice turned to good works.”

Maybe your one thing is fair trade clothes or healthy living and organic food, maybe it’s the local homeless shelter, orphan care or adoption. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be aware and generous in other areas. This is a given. I just think we shouldn’t try to do it all because we are motivated by guilt.

Take adoption for example. We are not all called to bring orphans in our home, but caring for the orphan (and the windows) is a Biblical mandate for believers. It’s not optional. Your one thing might not be adoption, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give to the couple in your church raising money to bring a baby home, host a fundraiser, become certified to offer respite care for foster families.

Finding and pursuing your one passion, changes your life and ignites a Godly desire to support others in their divine pursuits.

My dear friend Suzanne (who is my right hand volunteer for Mercy House) recently brought Reese home from China. This beautiful abandoned child with a cleft palate was just two years old when she came home, she couldn’t walk, talk or eat normally.

In just six months, she’s walking, talking, potty-trained, enjoys food, is in love with her three big brothers, bonded to her mommy and daddy and recovered from two surgeries.

When this baby girl walked thru my door the other day and hugged my leg, I thought my heart would explode.

You know what’s amazing about being a part of someone’s struggle?

You get to be a part of their victory too.

Because when you pursue your one passion, it’s so beautiful, others will want to be a part of it. So, I’m going to keep on struggling.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” -Frederick Douglass

This weekend, I’m at Together for Adoption in Atlanta, Georgia, representing my one, Mercy House, but I’m also hoping to engage and encourage in someone else’s struggle and eventual victory.

What is your One?

WFMW: Stretching a Canvas

One of my favorite spots in our new home reminds me every day of the place and people I love.

Near the end of our trip to Kenya this summer, we visited a local market and negotiated for a lovely piece of painted rolled canvas.

My kids and I didn’t have much time for art this summer, but I couldn’t wait to bring this piece back home and hang it.

This was our first time to stretch a canvas and I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

Supplies Needed:

  • canvas
  • 4 wood slats (we got ours from Hobby Lobby in the frame department for around $2.50 each)
  • staple gun and staples

We slid the wood slats together and pulled the canvas tightly over the edges and stapled. It was that easy!

It captures the stunning beauty of the Kenyan people!

It’s a simple, inexpensive way to make art!

What works for you?

How Many Days Does it Take to Have a Happy Husband? {Giveaway}

UPDATE: Comment #189, Megha and comment #298, HTriplett have been randomly selected as the winners of this giveaway.

With just a word, I can make or break my husband’s day.

I hate when I use misuse my influence and make my best friend feel defeated.

He’s a happy guy. Naturally upbeat, a dreamer, a hopeless romantic and I fell head over heals with his tan, muscular legs a hundred years ago.

As we’ve grown older together, I’ve discovered the impact a look or a word tossed out carelessly can have on him. Just the other day, I second-guessed a parenting decision he made (in front of the kids). Immediately, I knew I was wrong. If I would just hush, I wouldn’t have to apologize so much.

When I saw the title of this book, 31 Days to a Happy Husband, by Arlene Pellicane, I knew I had to dig in. I’ve learned in the last 18 years that having a happy husband has less to do with him and more to do with me. Ouch.

I love the author’s heart:

What motivated you to write 31 Days to a Happy Husband?

I’m in the stage of life where kids can take over (mine are 2, 5 and 8).  I see that’s the case for many wives who pour themselves into parenting or their career.  Husbands can be put on the back burner indefinitely yet the marriage relationship is THE priority relationship for any wife.  This book helps spotlight the husband for a change!

Why do you believe a wife’s affirmation of her husband is vital to a happy marriage? 

Your husband needs a cheerleader to lift him up in good times and bad.  Words from others mean something, but over and over, I heard that the words from wives mean the most.  We need to stop demanding perfection -making our husbands feel like they can’t live up to our expectations.  Instead we need to look for things we can sincerely praise.  Thank you for hanging in there at work.  I know it’s been a tough week for you.  You are so good at what you do.

What are the five guidelines regarding a D.R.E.A.M. marriage?

Domestic Tranquility – Your husband needs a peaceful haven.

Respect – Your husband needs to respected in his own home.

Eros – Your husband needs to be sexually fulfilled.

Attraction – Your husband needs to be attracted to you.

Mutual Activities – Your husband needs to have fun with you.

How can a wife focus more on the positive aspects of her husband than the annoying qualities? 

Start by having a thankful heart.  Remember how you and your husband met? What tugged at your heart about him?  Chances are those characteristics still run strong in your man.  Measure the good stuff, recognize the good stuff, and you’ll uncover many treasures in that man you live beside day after day.

What are some ideas to keep the romance and intimacy alive in a marriage? 

If you have kids and/or a busy schedule, you must schedule time for sex!  If you wait until the perfect moment, it may not come until next year.  So talk about how you are going to make time for intimacy.  Maybe one night a week is your special time to look forward to.  I highly recommend a regular date whether it’s weekly or monthly, and an annual weekend getaway.  Also, men tend to be more romantic than women.  They buy flowers and open doors.  We can also be romantic…writing love notes, coming to bed wearing something pretty, or cuddling up at every opportunity.

You remind couples that it is important they plan some time together (without the children). Why do so many couples forget to do this? What can they do together?

It’s easy to cave into the routines of life.  You have to really make an effort to still date after you’re married especially if you have kids at home.  My friend hadn’t gone on a date with her husband in years and finally they went to dinner without the kids.  At first, dinner was awkward.  They had forgotten how to be alone together without food to cut into tiny pieces or kids to hush.  The first date was weird but the next time they went out, they were more comfortable and talkative.  You have to keep making connections – just between the two of you.

Today, I’m giving away 2 copies of 31 Days to a Happy Husband! Leave a comment and tell me how many years you’ve been married (as your entry).

This giveaway ends on Thursday.

Mom of All Trades

MacGyver was a hit show in 1985. I was 13 years old.

Why yes, that does mean I turn 40 this year.

Thanks for asking.

I tweeted the other day, “It’s 9pm and I’m so tired I can hardly stand. This is what it must feel like to get old.”

Womp womp womp.

So, I loved MacGyver because every week the dude saved the world with a paper clip and duct tape.

“If I had some duct tape, I could fix that.” -MacGyver


In my parenting journey, I’ve learned that necessity (truly is) the mother of invention:

  • I’ve unlocked the bathroom door with a paperclip because my toddler was creating “bubble world” behind a locked door and let’s just say the door (walls, counter, floors, ceiling) were too slippery for her to get out.
  • I’ve used a garbage sack as pants for one of my kids.
  • I’ve left same child’s pants under a rock on the side of road.
  • I’ve created and worn duct tape accessories with my tween.
  • I’ve used a baby bottle as a hammer. (What? Something needed to be hung on the wall).
  • I’ve nursed a baby while standing in line for a ride at Disney world without losing my place or my shirt. Oh yes, I was THAT mom.
  • I’ve stolen batteries from every remote control in the house to bring a noisy toy back to life so my fit-throwing child would hush.
  • I’ve used my daughter’s Bubblegum Lip Smacker Lip Gloss for a diaper rash on her baby brother. She’s still bitter about that, but it worked!
  • I’ve used the car a/c vents to cool steamy chicken nuggets.
  • I’ve removed super glue from sealed baby lips.
  • I’ve applied pressure to stop my child’s bleeding with a maxi pad.
  • I’ve used my hubby’s pocket knife to trim nails while camping.
  • I’ve hung dog poo tennis shoes outside the driver’s window until I got home to wash them.
  • I’ve made people.

Okay, ingenious mothers, what have you done?