dream house

Hello awesome friends! I’m writing from the bed today. Something has hit me and it’s hit hard. I thought it might be the flu last night, but I’m feeling a little better this morning so I hobbled into the next room, seized the laptop and tried to plug out what was on my mind.

But then I remembered I’m high on Tamiflu, and my ears are ringing, and I may not be able to string many coherent thoughts together today. I may even remove this post later out of sober post flu drug embarrassment.

So read this in a slurred stuffy voice and enjoy. I’m here for your endless entertainment. Cue weird circus music. Jamin is playing Mr. Mom today. I’m not a fun patient to deal with, so hurray for Mr. Moms. Love that mancake. Did I just write that? Is mancake a word? Am I awake right now?

Update: Do not google mancake. Or what I thought I meant… beefcake. Do people still say that? Why am I picturing a large sunburned snowbird by a pool donning a hot pink speedo? Gross.


Confession: the term “dream house” irks me. I loathe scrolling through pinterest and seeing words like “dream home.” It reeks of “some day” and bad lessons we take away from Disney and princesses and perfect hair and perfect princes and castles. There’s nothing wrong with hopeful somedays… and there’s really nothing wrong with that phrase. But it reminds me of unrealistic expectations.

Because I think we all struggle with that.


I received a few comments lately about perfection in my home. That’s cool. Water. Duck’s back. But I think we walk a fine line (Jamin and I personally) between the illusion of perfection, and reality.

While photos like the above are stellar, and the posts from this week that make my home look like we’re from a land of unicorns and rainbows and pottery barn… (yes, all three are very closely related) Let me be the first to tell you, it’s all a ruse. (Why is my word selection from the fifties today?) I’m just really good at cleaning and sticking some flowers in the forefront to make you think my home looks rad. It’s a real gift.

I was thinking, I don’t know if any of you guys were like me growing up, but we had a formal living room. One that was never touched. And a dining room. We never went in there. And for the generation before that, my mom lived in a home smaller than ours with an entire bedroom that was left untouched while siblings shared beds. Just in case they had a guest. That’s what people did.

We use every square inch of our home now. In multiple ways. And it got me thinking… how far have we come? But why do we complain so much about our homes?

Do we tend to focus too much on someday, rather than embrace the now?

I once had these visions of my home and what I wanted it to be. And then my three bouncing babes came crashing into my life. I was in survival mode, and I would sit back and think “One day. In my dream house.” Like I was barbie waiting for her little plastic mansion to materialize from nowhere as a gift from the heavens. And then reality slapped me in the face and I realized that, as morbid as this might sound, I might not ever get my ‘dream house’ if I keep waiting for it. (Not to mention, I loathe prefab plastic mass produced stuff, anyway.)

If my children have taught me anything, its to embrace the here and the now. To love life for what it is… reality. That’s a hard lesson for me to learn. I’m still working on it.

In that, comes the attempt to strike a real balance in everything. Even in creating a haven for our family.


Because kids, they do the craziest things. Managing a three year old is like watching someone go absolutely batcrap crazy, pulling every toy out he’s ever owned and then screaming at you when you tell him to pick up. So you threaten him within an inch of his life, and tell him you’ll take away all the toys and send them to Africa if he doesn’t clean up. (You could also send them down the street, but Africa just sounds good in the moment.) He has no idea what Africa is, but he knows some people there don’t have much. That’s his perspective. Sorry not sorry. We’re striving to teach our children to be thankful. Then he crashes in total blissful sleep in weird places like under chairs in the playroom. And you momentarily forget the batcrap crazy part as you gaze at him and think a million thoughts about your heart being outside your body and how you want nothing but to be the very best you can be for your children. But isn’t it all about your perspective?

Oh, and they break things. Lots of things are broken in the process of a childhood.


So while my house might not be exactly like I thought I wanted it (see: white sofas and their death in my world) I want to look back and know that I created a fun environment… a real haven for my children growing up. The world is a hard place. I want them to be inspired by our home and have a blast, while learning to care for those and everything around them. I want our home to be an escape.

It’s all about perspective in finding that balance, isn’t it? What works in a home, is different for everyone.

You can’t live in a museum, but you can have fun in the process and roll with the punches. It is what it is, and I yearn to live in each moment. I have got to give up my big princessy sighs with my forlorn “somedays” while I lose my focus by looking at what others appear to have. I want to know that I had fun now with my life. I think a lot of that comes from the roots of gratefulness, and being present in our own lives. Purging is teaching me a lot about that.

Its easy to get caught up in the big ruse, isn’t it?

We didn’t build this house. It wasn’t what we ‘wanted’. But I’ve made it more of what I want, over time. And I’ve learned to be grateful for what it is.

Our home isn’t always neat. I’m definitely working on the clutter.Β And there are days when it just doesn’t meet my expectations.

Because my expectations are ridiculous, that is most days.


And as you can judge from this epic photo, I don’t always feed them the perfect foods, even though we’re slowly weeding it out and ‘getting there’. Last night, I may or may not have let them picnic on the ground and watch two movies on beach towels while I threw crackers and apples at them. Mama had a backache and a throbbing head and Daddy wasn’t home.

Hey, it counts.


I live in a world where my pillows are constantly pummeled and used as gigantic forts. Isn’t this what real joy is? Not a picture perfect space.


I’m thankful for the barbie shoes and legos that threaten to puncture my feet at every step. And for the super messy loft bed that all three of them pile into each night because it’s oh so fun, that I don’t really make all that often. Oh, and for the ladder that doesn’t work for them.

For our bed, that usually hosts at least four sleepers within the process of a night and our never ending game of musical beds. I sigh and think, ‘someday’. But I don’t want to miss it…

Which is also regularly vomited on.


For the laundry room that looks like this, right now.

Because this is life.


So do you guys think its possible to strike a balance with form and function in your homes? It’s kind of hard sometimes.

How to you live in your very own dream house?

Embrace it.

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Responses to dream house

  1. Kyda says:

    Fantastic post! :) I love that you showed what it really looks like :) I struggle with jealousy of people’s beautiful houses while mine looks like a tornado blew through.. :) I just last night caught myself almost saying no to playing with my daughter to clean up the kitchen… I decided the kitchen could wait, my daughter wouldn’t always want me to play with her…

  2. Come here and let me give you a big hug!
    No, wait. You are sick. Virtual hug from a mom of three who never catches up on the laundry. I like to use the crop tool to cut out the household mess in my blog photos. I’ve perfected the talent of cleaning only the few feet which will show. Sad, but true.
    Feel Better Soon Ashley!

  3. Jessie H says:

    Bless you for posts like this! It makes me feel like not so much of a failure in this pinterest perfect world πŸ˜‰

  4. Real life is way better than a dream! Love it!!!

  5. Kallie says:

    One of my favorite posts … please don’t delete when you come off your Tamiflu high. You are inspirational not only to your children but all of us who read your blog. From one mom of three to another …. I hope you feel better soon.

  6. Amy F says:

    I really loved this post. I look at various blogs and I always get down on myself for not having the perfectly polished and dusted home that you see in many home related blog photos. I often forget, cleaning a small corner of a kitchen and taking the picture with perfect light tricks the viewer into thinking the entire home must look just as perfect. In reality (or reality for most of us) there is constant noise and chaos behind it.
    I have two kids, ages 5 yrs. and 3 yrs., who are constantly on the move. I try to keep the house up, but it’s so frustrating. Then by the time the kids are in bed at night, I’m too exhausted to clean. I may watch a little television or attempt to read a book.
    Thank you for snapping back to the reality that is shared by many of us mothers.

  7. kat says:

    Batcrap crazy is my new favorite saying. Seriously. Because that is my life most days.
    I have recently realized that the “someday” philosophy is not working for me. Someday I will have time to paint and sew. Well, now I’m seizing the day, and yes, my dream house falls into a state of “what happened?” But that’s okay, because I want my kids to know that I don’t just do chores all the time. And that life isn’t about being perfect. And I’m getting better at not making excuses for the kid mess. Just knowing that it is what it is.
    Crap is a great word, truly. I can’t use it though, because my daughter named her unicorn “Crapricorn.” It was when she was three. We kept asking her if she meant Capricorn and she still (at 6) says no. Just the other night, she and her brother and sister were talking about what they would name their kids. She is naming her first child “Crapricorn” and calling her “Crap” for short. No lie.
    Feel better. And again, thank you for swaying me against the white sofas I dreamt of. With four little kids, I would have regretted it. We chose red with bumply fabric to hide the fact that we will use it!

  8. Lynsey Braggs says:

    Love this! I think we all get caught up in that way of thinking. I had a bad moment last night with my kids making a mess after I cleaned. I wish I would have reacted differently and been more patient. Messes will be made, they can be picked up and one day my babies will all be gone,my house can be clean then! Thank you for this post! Just what I needed today:)

  9. lisa says:

    Thank you for your post today, I needed it more than I knew. Your home is beautiful and keep up the enlightening post!!

  10. Aimee J says:

    The timing of this post is CRAZY perfect for me right now. We are in the process of looking for a new home. One to replace the home that we moved away from three years ago. In another state. By the ocean. And lots of trees. And a big veranda. Lots of granite and moldings and coffer ceilings. And beautiful, beautiful wood floors. Did I mention that was in ANOTHER STATE where housing is MUCH more affordable than where we live now, in the desert, where water is scarce, trees are puny, and wood floors and granite exist only in $500K homes. Only our budget is more around $200K so…yeah…I’m not getting what I want. So instead I’m looking for basically okay architecture, a great neighborhood that may have a pool but at the very least walking and bike paths, and a place where my kids can put down roots while I rip the rest of the house up around me. And in the meantime, until I find this place for us to grow, I’ll continue sighing that my kids have no play room so they play in the entry way and hallway of our home. I’ll keep picking up their toys and being grateful that we have a roof over our heads and its warm and sheltered from this never ending winter. At least that’s what I keep telling myself anyway. Thanks for the post!

  11. thanks for keeping it real…I deal with issues like this daily – the DREAM home is in reality just that – a dream…We all have to wake up and see that we don’t live on Pinterest…and life happens!

  12. I could not agree with you more.

    Still – your messy spaces are still a TON prettier than a lot of other spaces I have walked into :)

    When I was pondering this very thing the other day, I still thought to myself that if I had to pick between a perfect living room with me sitting on the couch eating bon bons and not a hair out of place and a house full of life, art, chaos sometimes – I would always go for the latter. It’s just much more interesting.

    I think it is more about being able to clean the messes up pretty quickly because there is an underlying foundation of order to it all. At least I tell myself that :)

  13. Elizabeth says:

    You don’t know how badly I needed to read a post like this! As I sit here and stare and my couch cushions on the floor to prevent my 1 year old twins from throwing themselves over the back of our couch. I too have always referred to my “dream home” or “someday”. Well I’ve come to realize just like you that I have to be happy with the here and now. Our house is too small but it is what it is and I’m learning to embrace that. Truthfully the creative challenge of making our space work for us is kind of fun (at least I keep trying to tell myself that). Keeping up with the kid messes is impossible. I tell myself I can only do what I can and that’s okay. Thank you again for your amazing post. Back to chasing my kid tornado I go!

  14. I LOVED every single word of this, e.v.e.r.y. single word! I grew up determined that I would never have a house that looked like a museum even though my personality fights against that thought. (I forget that there are five children living in my house and I wish for just a moment that things would stay the same as they looked five minutes prior for five minutes longer. So I strive for reality, mixed with the decor that I love (that can be replaced if broken) and a good mix of crazy mom mixed with…man, I love these little TORNADOES! :-)

    I hope you feel better!


  15. Your house is a dream home. I love it and I love that you love every moment living in it. You will always think it’s perfect because it’s yours, it holds all your family memories and it’s allowing you to live the dream… a happy family. What a beautiful post!

  16. Bianca says:

    Being in sick stupor myself, all I can say is I loved reading this post. Total heart check /7 I think God must be telling me something about what this year holds for me because de-cluttering and being grateful has been a recurring theme these past 31 days!

  17. So sorry for your illness. Enjoy the flamingo; it won’t be there long. :) Your “reality” pics are wonderful! A home is a house that is lived in and loved and yours is absolutely a home. Be well.

  18. fun post! Sorry your sick…I am going to enjoy the expectations achieved …but, embrace the reality:)

  19. Heather D says:

    Wow, thank you. So many bloggers only show the pretty pretty perfect side of their homes. It’ so refreshing and wonderful to see a beautiful place that’s truly lived-in and enjoyed.

  20. Kim says:

    Oh boy did you hit the proverbial nail on the head! Been in this exact spot and struggle wildly with it. Forgive a long comment: We bought a cute 1 1/2 story house kind of on a whim because it was on a street I didn’t think we’d ever be able to afford and here this house was, perfect for us (at the time). Didn’t think ahead at all. No real master bedroom or bath. Kids sleep upstairs. Kitchen nice but not “us”. Well built home, though. Small basement. Small 2 car garage now busting at the seams while an antique Ford Mustang my father-in-law left my husband when he died sits in someone else’s garage. We feel like we are constantly doing things to our house and never “done”, while it seems family members and close friends buy brand new homes and never have weekends filled with endless house projects. Frustrating. I still love my house, though. Needed to read this today. Need to show my husband this. “Dream house” for me needs to be the house my family is in at the time. Here. Right now.
    Thank you – (and feel better! we do fruit loops when sickness hits our house – and lots of chicken nuggets and campbells chicken noodle soup – NOT homemade. The horror)

  21. Jane says:

    Sound like you found the happy ever after! I know I did what seems hundreds of years ago. When the house may not be perfect and the children are healthy, and happy. They know FUN and LOVE…..all is right with your world. And isn’t that all that counts?

  22. Elizabeth says:

    My dream house looks like your house. But I am trying to be content in our mobile. I know if I had a home like yours, I would still want more.Bigger .Better.How fickle we humans are.

  23. Kateann says:

    Great post! Thank you for the reminder to enjoy what we have. Hope you feel better soon.

  24. diane says:

    If you have a home filled with laughter and kisses then you are living in your dream home. When all those babies are grown and gone (and it appears you are doing a good job of embracing each moment) you will proudly look around at your white sofa and always clean kitchen and made bed and wish, for just a moment, that someone was there to build a fort. I am in that stage of life now and really enjoying it but also enjoy the mess made by grandbabies when they visit. Lovely post that I am sure struck a cord with many young moms and your home is colorful, adorable and livable and what more could anyone dream for?

  25. Jenn says:

    I hate the term dream house too! I always say roll up your sleeves and make it your dream house instead of pining away and living in a way that makes you discontent. Loved this whole post.

  26. love this post! don’t go and delete it from flu drug embarrassment. :) it’s way to good! feel better soon.

  27. Crystal says:

    Thank you for this post. Sincerely. It’s so easy to look at the lifes of bloggers from the outside and think it’s picture perfect. The grass is always greener. :) Thank you for sharing your lived in home with us. I know it makes me feel a bit better.

    I laugh everytime I push the clutter out if the way to take a blog picture. I shudder everytime I try to take a blog picture and see the paint color that was left on the walls by the previous owners 6 months ago, our second baby came a week later and we still haven’t had time to paint. Never the less it’s my home, and home is the people within the walls, not the walls around the people.

    Thank you! I love your blog. :)


  28. Lauren says:

    Loved your post. Every word, down to pillow forts and vomit. Lol. I live it everyday, 4 kids and 2 dogs, sometimes it seems impossible. I was also a “someday” person until I realized “someday” is now. Your kids and yourself are only young once. Thanks so much for the post, I laughed the whole way through. I hope you feel better soon:)

  29. CJ Hodges says:

    I hope you feel better! That flu is funky. Dream Home- as a Realtor I despise this term! It’s a DREAM because much like that “perfection”, it just does not exist. Even when I have helped folks build exactly what they think they want, it is never “perfect”. One always end up compromising. That’s just how life is, everything in life that is- is a compromise to some degree. At least that is what I have learned in the last 43 years.
    Listen, you do a great job. Anyone that gives you a hard time about “perfection” is just wishing they could get out from behind their screens and make anything close to it happen in their own home.
    They COULD actually, but most choose not to. Sure they make excuses like their kids are little, they are “too busy”, they have a sick cat, whatever. Truth is, the vast majority of home makers out there just would rather post funny things on Facebook or go shopping or take the kids to the park. Which is all cool and definitely living in the moment.
    Though not as talented as you, I worked very hard to create a similar environment (still do) for my family when the boys were little (now nearly 18 &13). I came pretty close to making it what I wanted, but I also wanted to hang with the kids while they were small and I worked as a pre-school teacher. However, I did make it happen (pretty much) so it can’t be THAT hard. I am no rocket scientist. Anyone with half a brain knows that a busy chick like you with 3 kids under 10 is not going to achieve perfection every day.
    So basically, I am high-fiving you via the Blogsite and telling you what others think, doesn’t matter. You are awesome. Jamin and your little tornadoes know it, so pat yourself on the back and go pull the three year old off that gorgeous new window treatment you have likely created in your flu drug fog and when you feel better have a celebratory glass of something delicious and keep on keepin’ on Wonder Woman!
    CJ Hodges
    Beringer Realty Llc

  30. Jane says:

    I love your topics, even though my kids are almost grown and we have lived in our home for 27 years!! At some point you have to put your dreams in perspective. You’re not giving them up or even putting them off until “someday”, you’re just focusing on the here and now, which is smart to do when you have small kids. They need you and you need them…they DO grow up fast. You will spend more time cleaning up your house rather than fixing it up. One thing at a time.

    Get better soon! πŸ˜€


  31. Lin says:

    LOL, thanks for the post. Agreed! This penchant for perfection is sooo neurotic to me. Perfection is highly over-rated. “Houses” are showplaces. “Homes” are for living.

  32. Lisa says:

    Beautifully said! Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for what I have and how wonderful my home really is. No, it’s not perfect or what I envisioned when I was young but it shelters and comforts my family. It is a work in progress and that’s fun too.

  33. AnnMarie says:

    It’s always so nice to see the reality behind the beautiful blog! Thanks for all the inspiration over the years! I too am working on living in the now and enjoying my dream home at THIS stage in our life!

  34. Tammy says:

    Hey Ash
    I pray that your better real soon. Be sure to let MrMom take good care of you, as best he can. I know I’m a real stinker to take care of as well. Ha! And I say he’s a big baby to take care of. Which he is! But, all he really wants is attention and sleep, which is easy to give, hind sight 20/20. Babbling……well, you get plenty of rest and get well.
    Blessed, Tammy

  35. Chaney says:

    This is absolutely one of the most challenging things. Thank you for your perspective!! (Oh, and just so you know, you made perfect sense regardless of the Tamiflu-induced loopiness.) I think this is especially hard as a blogger, because you hope to inspire and put a positive/optimistic spin on things, while at the same time keeping it real. How one does this? I don’t know, but I’m glad you’re taking a shot at it!

  36. susan hicks says:

    I have never commented on blog before, but I am so appreciative of your honesty . Sometimes I get so down on myself because my home does not look like the pictures on the blogs, but after today, I realize you are just like me and I admire you much more for it!!!

  37. Maureen says:

    First and foremost….feel better soon! Second…..thank you for reminding me that my laundry room is not the only one where the laundry never seems to be finished from start to finish! And last, but certainly not least….as a food blogger my kitchen counters are always covered in cookbooks, ingredients and utensils even though my expectation is exactly like yours! I do get there sometimes, but the rest of the time this is where we LIVE!!! And I’m okay with that :)

  38. Cristina says:

    Thank you for this…i too am writing from bed today (well, the couch in the living room) because some nasty little bug has taken up residence here. Your post could not have come at a better time…as I lay here, I’ve got a wonderful view of a very dusty living room, toys alllllll over the floor, a kitchen table that is covered with about a bazillion papers to be filed, and dog snot on the windows. It’s a handmade home alright! And your post reminded me that it’s much more important to know that my kids are happy and don’t actually see any of the mess and that that is waaaay more important. Thank you for helping to re-install some perspective in my feverish brain. :)

  39. Stacie says:

    I like this saying: “Someday is made up of a tiny thousand nows” SOURCE: http://www.curlygirldesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/dl41.png or http://www.curlygirldesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/dandi.png
    It’s how I try to keep my balance. You get nowhere just wishing, but you can start to make small little changes that you love and take action to make your life easier. Sometimes we think balance means everything is all measured even and neat and whatnot, but for me it’s more about a compass and making sure I’m closer to my true North. Balance is in my head and perspective.
    Good for you about the water and the duck’s back. I don’t think your blog is about being perfect and seeming…looks like you’re trying to figure our your “North” and actually act on it.
    Hope you feel better.

  40. Ashley Baltes says:

    I really appreciate your honesty with your house and your honesty about what’s important. I do the same thing with my “future house.” The last couple of months, I’ve been trying to live more in the now and have been organizing, eliminating and cleaning our small apartment.

  41. Danika says:

    I So needed to see this post today! One of the best, honest and relatable post I have ever read on any blog! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And I hope you feel better very soon.

  42. Brittany says:

    This is wonderful and such a good reminder! Thank you!

  43. I love the reality shots! So comforting for people to see how you really live. I always tell clients, “No one lives in a magazine.” Your post today proves it. Feel better!

  44. C.T. says:

    I have an angsty relationship with my home. Pinterest envy makes me imbalanced and frustrated sometimes. But I’m learning to recognize, through the pile of laundry and dirty dishes, God is so good. This IS my dream home. The here and now IS my someday. Thanks for sharing your awesome and honesty perspective.

    Don’t delete your blog post — even after your flu is over. Trust me, it’s a keeper!

  45. I love this.

    glad I’m not the only one πŸ˜‰

  46. Amy says:

    I share your dislike for the term “dream home”. I’m also not crazy about “starter home”. I had a “starter home” mentality about my house until about 2 years ago. We are blessed to live in a beautiful, newer development only 3 miles from the beach. When we moved into this darling house a decade ago, we had 2 babies. We went on to add a third. We are surrounded by wonderful neighbors; seriously, a dream street in that aspect.
    A few years ago I got itchy to move. Our home is reasonably-sized, but I wanted more room. I live in a “bigger is better” environment that I allowed to get to me — unfortunately. I fought this for 5 years, during which we had some great reasons NOT to move. My Mom very wisely told me not to wait for what was coming in the future, but to pour my creativity into my home NOW.
    After 2 years of truly doing just that, we have decided to move this year. I will grieve, really grieve when we leave this home. It is cozy and exactly what I want it to be. Now my husband wants a really large home and I have no desire for that at all! We will definitely have to compromise.
    I love your blog, and much of your emotional journey over these issues mirrors my own. I really started living when I really started loving where I was and making it into my “dream” RIGHT NOW!

  47. Linda says:

    I think the best way to appreciate your home is to resolve to keep it tidy!

    When we moved to the US I could not believe how many clothes my kids’ friends had, and how much laundry their moms did! My kids have been doing their own laundry since they were 6 (its easy: sort into darks and lights, put load into machine and ask Mum to add liquid and turn on machine).

    And the same for the kitchen, put cereal boxes away after use etc. Toys are put away after play sessions and before bed and, if there isn’t as much time for after school activities so be it.

    Of course this all goes to pot if you’re suffering from the dreaded lurgy (you have my sympathies) but teaching our children to respect their homes is key.

  48. Ellie says:

    Love this post, Ashley! I shared a link to it on Facebook. Thanks for sharing your reality; it’s something we all struggle with! Hope you feel better soon!

  49. Dalia says:

    Love, love this post! I remember those days up until I moved out of my house to go to college, when my mom didn’t even allow us to use certain towels, it was for show. Good heavens, I grew up in that environment & promised myself I wouldn’t do that when I had my own place. Turned out I was similar, not in not using things, but keeping everything proper & tidy, that’s until I had little man. He is a living tornado & I gave up two years ago on keeping things shiny & new. I have embraced my messy, uncoordinated, and lived in home. I look at it all & say, let him enjoy what I couldn’t. He flies off the couch, uses the pillows as tunnels, colors on my what used to be white carpet:-( Gosh I have to confess I want to get rid of that thing. Any who, before writing a post myself, awesome job & don’t delete, ++ feel better!

  50. Marissa says:

    Please don’t ever delete this when your mind is out of the flu fog. So needed. Vital. Real. Truthful. Did I mention needed? Thank you….from the rest of us in the hamster wheel of “the next big project/reno/target trip” It’s gotta stop. Thanks for doing your part.

  51. Angela says:

    Great post! Thanks for letting us peek into your everyday world!

  52. Jackie says:

    This morning, your authenticity has been refreshing!

  53. I just love these real life, insightful posts. I think about thinks like this constantly. Because blogging pictures are so posed most of the time and sometimes you feel like your house should always look like a magazine. But really, we should think more about the definition of a home right? I don’t think perfection would be in that definition.

  54. Laura says:

    One of our pastors preached a sermon several years ago that ATE MY LUNCH! And right before Christmas, too! It was about expectations. I still have the notes, so I will give you the ultra-Reader’s Digest version. Expectations are desires that become demands. With expectations come no romance and no gratitude. So kill those expectations!
    You and Jamin are not “living your dream”. You are turning your dream into reality. A dream is just that- an imaginary vision that vanishes in the light of day. And your babies will probably remember these years with that beautiful fuzziness and happy feeling that comes from a lovely dream! Now go take a nap and feel better. And maybe dream a little!

  55. Kacey says:

    I feel like we are just now getting out of survival mode – three kids in 18 months keeps ya kinda busy. LOL So, now that everyone is clothing and feeding themselves – and almost ALL in school – I’m excited to concentrate more on my home but only to create a fun, organized environment for US. For our space to be one we enjoy being in, and for me, that has to include a little clutter on the desk and refrigerator – imperfectly perfect and always comfortable. :) In my opinion you have to live the dream – not hope for it. Thanks for keeping it real and I hope you feel better. Hoping your laundry magically does itself. :)

  56. A'Lisa says:

    Thank you for writing this. It’s a reminder that I need to revisit daily!

  57. Ann says:

    I’m a single mom of a teenage girl. My house has never looked anything like “the expectation”. But I go to all my daughter’s dance classes, tumbling, and cheer practices. Throw in games, competitions, and performances, and there’s no time left to even think about expectations. Thank you for showing reality.

    Feel better soon. I hear this flu is nasty this year.

  58. Oh, Ashley, how I love this post! Over the past 2 years I’ve really change my attitude about waiting on a dream home and gone for making THIS my perfect home for RIGHT NOW. It was a hard hurdle to get over as a renter who isn’t allowed to paint or do much of anything in the way for making substantial changes, but I’m learning to work around the challenges! Oh, and I’m still fighting tooth and nail to keep my white slipcovers. They.will.survive.my.children. They will! They muuuuuust! That’s possible, right? :)

  59. LAWallner says:

    Love this. Love. Love.

  60. Great post, Ashley! I, too, struggle with balancing the chaos with how I envision our home in my mind. Memories are made letting it slide a little. I don’t think you’ll sit back one day and reminisce about how clean and put together your home was, but you’ll probably talk about the time all the pillows and blankets were out to make a big fort in the living room (or something like that). Hope you’re feeling better!

  61. Linda says:

    I recently found your blog. Its amazing! And this is such a great post. SO true! Blogland can sometimes be so deceiving and we forget that they spruced up their home for those pictures they don’t maintain that 24/7. We should all love our home and make it our home. Not wait for the somedays of tomorrow. Thanks for the great reminder!

  62. There is no way I could love this post more than I already do. Brilliant. I think this is something so many bloggers struggle with–wanting to showcase the expectation but knowing the reality behind the scenes. My favorite line in all of this?? Tossing them crackers and apples. Been there. It totally counts. Love your perspective!!

  63. This. Post. Was. My. Absolute. FAvorite.

    Thank you for sharing your precious heart with us. I thought your words about unrealistic expectations were especially important – must remind myself of it constantly.

    Wish I could bring you some chicken noodle soup… Hope you feel better soon! :-)

  64. Danielle says:

    I loved it! I have to admit to not doing many weekly pics in my house because it is such a mess! I was laughing also because my dream house has changed so much. If you look at my dream house folder on Pinterest it is filled with tiny houses. I am a little obsessed with them right now. They have helped me appreciate the home I have also! Thank you for a peek into your reality :)

  65. Nicole says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! I want to read it over and over!! Thanks you !!

  66. Kym V. says:

    This is hands down one of the best posts I have ever read. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the “wants” and “dreams” and “must haves” that we forget about the here and now. My husband, while he supports my DIY dreams, always asks before I start something…don’t you love our home already…you me and the pups…it’s pretty good. Thank you for sharing the reality with us all so we can understand that perfect comes in so many different shapes and sizes. Oh and feel better!

  67. Lisa Frank says:

    LOVE this post SO MUCH! I’m always a huge fan of your expectation vs reality photos…they make me laugh + show how real you are. :) We are all glad to see that you live in a “real” house with messy children and husbands and ongoing projects (aka: messes strewn about until whenever).

    I must say though, I am quite impressed that your kids keep the pillows ON the couch (at least in those photos). No lie, my 3 and 6 year old kids throw our couch pillows on the floor at least 10x a day, usually to construct some kind of mosh pit. It drives me CRAZY! I swear, I should just Velcro them to the couch!! (the pillows, I mean…well, trying that on the kids every once in a while wouldn’t be such a bad idea either. HAHA)

  68. Stephanie says:

    Great thoughts and I could not agree more! It is easy for me to get caught up in “blog world” and I have to stop and count all my blessings!

  69. Jamie Dorgan says:

    I love this post. I am a mother of four, two boys (14, and 12).and two girls (7 and 4). My husband and I bought this small three bedroom house 10 yrs. ago when we only had two children. It was suppose to be our starter home, we remodeled the bathroom and kitchen. When I became pregnant with our 4th child we put our house up on the market, my husband was about to become a manager of his own branch with a very huge company, but unfortunately, that was the year 2008. Luckily we did not sell our home, my husband (like so many others) lost his job the day before our daughter was born.
    So, with that said, we have had to adjust to six people living in a small three bedroom home, with one bath, no basement and a 1 car garage. I clean and clean, no matter how much I clean it always ends up the same by the next morning, like I never cleaned. Ugh….. It’s soooo irritating. I try to sit back and enjoy my kids and let them be kids. The only problem I have is, if someone stops by and my house a wreck!!!! Now, all you wives out there can agree on this. If you stop by someone’s home and it’s a mess, who get’s the blame? That’s right, “The Wife”. Why???? If there is other people living in the home, why are people so quick to judge?
    I try sooo hard to keep up with everything, I do manage to keep up with my two to three loads of laudry a day, yes with six people if I don’t keep up, holy overload. Dusting, washing the bathroom, cleaning floors, paperwork, bills, planning meals for that week, making that grocery list, blah, blah, blah.
    So, this year I am trying to be layed back and let things flow (believe me it’s not that easy for me). I wanna go through my home and try to do some remodeling to try to make this home good enough for us.
    I am soo happy to know that I am not the only oerson trying, but now seeming to get anywhere with the tidyness.
    But you have a “BEAUTIFUL” spacious home.

  70. Mary Jane says:

    I love your web site! Reality! and Expectations! Being aware of our time today is so important…..I am learning that….and just want to say thank you for your thoughts shared about life.

  71. Natasha says:

    Thank you for this. As a mother who also works at home, I struggle with getting all my (paying) work finished and not sidetracked by the house cleaning and straightening. So when I take a little break from both and see blogs with immaculate homes, I feel inferior. Your honesty is really comforting today.

  72. Kristi says:

    Thank you. This is exactly what I needed today!

  73. Marla Deby says:

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

  74. Ginna says:

    This may be my favorite post of all time. :)

  75. Sara says:

    Well this was good for my heart. and oh so timely. I have invited a precious senior adult lady to my house for coffee this afternoon so she can snuggle the newest precious edition to my family. Only problem? I know what my house currently looks like. And even though my husbnd offered to help me clean last night I may or may not have had a sleep deprived/teething baby/overwhelmed with laundry/too many church activities this past weekend (my husband is a youth minister)why is my husband in grad school cry fest. So alas, my house is still a disaster area. She is coming at 2:30 and I will not be home until noon (just in time to move the dirty clothes out of the hall and clean the toilet). And I am ok with it. Then I read your post and I am even more ok with it. Thanks for the much needed encouragement.

  76. Shawnna says:

    Thank you for your honesty and candor!!! I NEEDED to hear and see this!!!

    Feel better soon!

  77. Jessica Stemmons says:

    Your home is wonderful even when every things not put away. I was hoping you could tell me what paint color you used in the playroom.

  78. Nell says:

    Your home is lovely. It’s authentic, it’s genuine. It’s lived in, and that’s lovely.

  79. Jennifer says:

    I can relate, only my spaces look much worse. lol But we have 7 kids and a smaller “home” (not even close to my dream home, but I have a plan for “someday” to become a close reality). I would take your “messy” laundry ROOM over our stacked washer/dryer-not-even-in-a-closed-closet in our main living space ANY DAY. You have a wonderful writing style, even while being miserably sick. A friend shared this post–she soooo knew it would make me feel better in my crazy life!

  80. bridget b. says:

    so cool of you to write this and post pictures. blogs and pinterest make it easy to think that everyone else has this perfect life and house all the time. even though we know it’s unrealistic, we still somehow feel that pressure to measure up.

  81. Jenni says:

    Well, I do have to say that even your “reality” shots reveal a home that is much nicer than many of us have. You also seem to be able to stay at home and work from there, while some of us have to work outside the home. You also seem to have a husband who is very involved in the beautifying of your home. Some of us have husbands for whom that is not at all a hobby, nor is it remotely interesting, and who watch us like hawks to keep everything under a budget and practical. I am not trying to make you feel bad, I’m just sharing my reality. I do appreciate your honesty about putting our expectations in check and being patient. I too dreamed of a dream home. I know it is never coming, at least not in the timing I want or in the way i may have expected a few years ago. So, even though you and I have very different realities, I do see the common thread- we all have disappointments and we all need to keep them in perspective and breathe. Thanks for opening up your home to inspire the rest of us.

    • Hey Jenni! I don’t think I ever said that everyone’s house needs to look a certain way or their husbands have to do everything…I do realize that it’s completely different for everyone. I even said that, above. Everyone has different interests and tastes. I realize I am extremely blessed to work at home. I have my talents… you have yours. It’s what makes the world go round. I share my blog to inspire others, not to make them feel bad. This is my passion, which has turned into a full time job and in that I am very blessed and grateful. ;}

  82. Andrea says:

    Loved this! Wish you had been around when I was raising kids :). You have inspired me even now as I start fresh with grandkids. xo

  83. Nis says:

    As Carly Simon said, “These are the good old days.”

    Enjoy what you have right now, especially kids and people. Make your home for living, not a photo shoot. πŸ˜‰

    Hope you feel better!

  84. MaryAnn says:

    You, ma’am, are a prophet. I needed every blessed word of this post. Thank you.

  85. Katie says:

    Even messy, your house is beautiful!! I struggle feeling like I can’t keep my house looking perfect all the time…and ultimately, some days I just give up on it and live in the mess because the mess means we are playing and doing things more important than cleaning! On a side note- where is your coffee table from?? I’ve been on the hunt for one similar to that one…that isn’t the restoration hardware price. :)

  86. antiquechase says:

    I wish I could have read this 16 years ago. I stressed way too much when they were little and now, well, they are almost outta here… and I miss the lego-barbie shoes, Trix cereal kind of life…

    New follower from Nesting place. You rock!

  87. mishelle says:

    Oh i feel ya! Reality is the same for me,glad my laundry room isnt the only hot mess
    around blog land.lol. I keep cleaning out closets, drawers, cupboards , under the beds, to make it easier to look more put together. Maybe not so many things to use to mess up the house. not working! btw , i love your yellow and white YUM letters above your cupboard, I want them! :)

  88. Megan says:

    Love this, my husband and I have had this conversation several times lately. Thanks for sharing!!

  89. Mego says:

    im so glad you posted this. it makes me feel more than ok with my non-picture perfect home :)

  90. Jennifer says:

    Beautiful! Thank you! I love how your reality reflects mine–while every once in a while the downstairs gets picked up, we live there & more often than not “in progress” play is happening. I figure enjoy it now, because it’s not going to last forever!

  91. Papa says:

    Good article …Kido…you do good work and Papa and GIgi are proud of you…99% of the time folks like to see inspiratonal idea(because most people don’t have time to see past their every day lives) but it also helps readers that to see that folks that drive inspiration sometimes have to deal with reality…a BIG Fan of the FAB 5- Papa

  92. Heather says:

    Ha! This makes me laugh because I am the SAME WAY. I have 2 boys, 2 and 5, and being a SAHM is the hardest job I’ve ever had! I’m just too tired after football practice, dinner, baths, bedtime routine, ect. We recently (and by “recently” I mean 3 months ago) re modeled our kitchen and I’ve yet to take pictures of it. Why? Because it hasn’t been clean yet! Not clean enough for a before/after pic anyways (I don’t let my kids live in filth or anything…).

    So, thanks for this. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this scary Pinterest world!

  93. Shannon says:

    Oh real life – what would we do without you.
    Thank you for having the courage to share the reality of home that’s not just a house. It’s inspirational and encouraging to read about your [re]definitions of needs, wants, dreams…and recognition of enough…not just good enough but really enough. Your kids will thank you…once you they get out of the loft bed;)

  94. Heather says:

    Thank you for making me feel normal! My house is ALWAYS a mess and I’m always obsessing about it. So much that I’m missing the point of creating a comfy and fun house for my family. Thanks again!

  95. Amy Legg says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Just the little bit of perspective I needed today. My boys are 6 and 8 and most days I feel like a tornado has blown through our house. They’ve grown up so fast already…I’m constantly reminding myself to stop and enjoy them. Sit down and play with them among the mess instead of constantly picking up around them and missing the fun.

  96. Great post!
    It reminded me about one of the first posts I ever wrote: What I Love About My Small House. Sure, a master bath that’s not just a half bath would be awesome and a guest room might be nice but I’m really appreciative of the space I’ve got. Check out my post here: http://sueathome.com/2012/05/22/what-i-love-about-my-small-house/

  97. Tara R. says:

    This is the first time I have read your blog and it won’t be the last!!! It’s like you are swimming in my head and fishing out my thoughts. Thank you for tearing down the perfect castle walls and letting us into your reality because it’s my reality too. Messy beds, piles of laundry and that nagging guilty mom syndrome. That’s me! Now I must go and read very other post you have written :)

  98. Olivia's Mami says:

    Thank you so very much for this transparent dose of reality. It has opened my eyes and I’m sure My husband will be grateful when I stop being a drill sergeant, about picking up behind himself everyday.

  99. Ginger says:

    Thank you for posting this. So often I see homes of others on blogs, pintrest or magazines and I sigh. “why can’t my home look that put together? How are they able to have a home that looks so clean and perfect when my house constantly feels like a tornado swept through it?” Seeing these “dream homes” makes me feel as though I’m failing and words like “more, want, jealous, need,” swim through my head. It’s so refreshing to know that even a house as beautiful as yours is still a home. Really great post. Hope you are feeling better!

  100. Courtney says:

    thank you. you have no idea how great it is to see the every day pics you perfect home photo bloggers (real phrase?) post. i have a one year old and i work midnights while hubby works afternoons so our son doesn’t have to go to daycare and my house NEVER looks like the pics i see on blogs. so thank you, and i will give myself permission to sit in the mess and make more mess while bonding with my son and husband!

  101. Claire Bunn says:

    Love that you showed expectations and reality!!!! It is impossible to keep your house photo ready with little ones around but at least you know that when it is cleaned up it is amazing. Even messy it is still gorgeous.

    People complaining that your house looks too perfect are ridiculous. We all do this. Just think of what your house actually looks like about an hour before you have guests come over. You wouldn’t have a party with your house in everyday mode so why would you not clean up the same way for a photo that will be seen by way more than your closest friends and family.

    Thank you for keeping it real and showing us what your beautiful home looks like on an everyday basis. I think it makes the rest of us with little ones feel so much better about our own everyday mess.

  102. Ann Heatherton says:

    I adore you! You sound so NORMAL.

    • Comet says:

      I have often wondered HOW the people taking those amazing pics were able to KEEP the lil darlins’ OUT of the room long enough for SOMEONE to clean up and neaten and beat that perfect crease into the top of the couch pillows!

      We haven’t gotten to “Dream House” stage and may never get there–we sold a big gorgeous and continuously in need of major repairs farmhouse on a lovely lake with wide pine board floors–the house not the lake!–and a slate roof you could hear the rain on but that also had a bad habit of crashing down on windy nights requiring more spendy slate to be obtained—well we BOTH loved the house but NOT the expense. I remember trying to “stage” it with three kids under 7—can’t be DONE. I finally started packing everything that didn’t move and stashing boxes in the unused “Inlaw apartment” and the actual inlaws garage and our barn and garage–and we sold the house as the FOR SALE sign was being put up! Now that will never happen again!

      But heres the thing—we bought–because we now HAD to move and the new buyer dithered around so much we NEEDED to set a DATE and have them CLOSE—we bought one of the only properties around we could afford. TINY. We thought–Oh we will rip up the trashy avocado green carpet (still here) and the 1977 mustard and brown kitchen flooring (ditto) and add on (Seriously! Not happening) And then we will SELL this place and move ON. Well–that was 23 years ago. We are still here. Kids grew up–I was not at all interested in a showplace but my kids played sports with Mom in the bleachers and got taken to museums and let loose to find things they liked and we traveled on less than a shoestring and they built all sorts of things in the yard from all sorts of things Mom and they dragged home–and meanwhile Dad worked two or three jobs.

      Dad now has two grandkids that live with us–Oh the kids moved OUT—-and ONE of them even STAYED out!!!—-but two of ’em moved back in and brought kids and a husband and dogs of their OWN. To–the TINY HOUSE. Sadly many times my husband has spoken of what he feels he MISSED not being here for our kids childhood. Not that he was absent by any means but he was–not able to spend as much time with them as he would have liked. And that is a loss you can’t make up.

      Was our house ever “perfect?” Not one day. Ever. Did I care?–Well—sorta. I have friends who will say–“Oh well you can come over–when all I am doing is dropping off a book say—but the house is a MESS” and when you get there the house is PERFECT. And I have noticed most of their kids are a little–odd! Are my kids happy and well adjusted and doing the SAME things with their kids? Yep.

      I love to see these pics but—tempered with the BIG dose of Blog Fairy Dust– knowing that this is ONE moment in time–and the next might well be chaos!

      • Louise Gannon says:

        Awww, I absolutely LOVED reading this. Thank God for all us “normal” women who are out there doing our best with what we have and bringing up happy, healthy, well adjusted and loving kids!!

  103. Sandra says:

    Such a refreshing post! Thanks for reminding me that ‘keeping real’ sometimes means getting messy (for a little while anyway).

  104. Cindy says:

    What a perfect post! I have struggled with this daily since we bought our house (a “5 year house”) almost 4 years ago. It was our “for now” house and I never really made it my own as I always intended on moving into my Dream Home. But the reality is that the means to move into a bigger house aren’t always there and I’ve finally settled on the fact that where I live now is what I should be dreaming about – making it the most comfortable, liveable house I can. While we don’t have children, we have three pets and both work full-time jobs (one of us over 80 hours a week) so yes, there may be dirty socks on the floor or a table full of magazines and the throw blankets rumpled on the couch, so thank you for showing your home in it’s “real” stage! Just stumbled across your blog today and I will be catching up on everything tonight!

  105. Tara says:

    I could not possible love this post anymore than I do. I struggle with this on a daily basis, often missing out on moments of time I will never get back with my beautiful children – in a ridiculous effort to make my house into the “expectation”.
    Thank you for your honesty today… it means more than you know.

  106. Nancy says:

    Thanks for posting your reality pics…It makes me feel a lot better that I cannot keep a house for the life of me with a full time job, side business, 5 & 3 yr old – their activities, social life, whew…the house it very last priority!

  107. Kristina says:

    Great post. So honest and refreshing to hear. It is perfect!!!!

  108. Brittany Paige says:

    Wow! I Love this!! I have a problem with how I want things, including me, my family and my home to be perceived. Which of course isn’t at all possible for me attain. It doesn’t help seeing these perfect homes and perfect families on TV which I guess I tend to forget AREN’T real! It’s nice to see that my reality is normal. :) Thank you!

  109. Love this post! Such a good reminder as we look at millions of “perfect ” house tours on numerous blogs! Kinda like photo-shopping models. HA!

  110. Kim says:

    I love everything about this post. :)

  111. tabitha says:

    I have to first be the jerk who points out that your “reality” photos are better than my expectation photos, even on my best days! And that is OK, because just like in nearly all areas of life, it’s about progress, not perfection.
    We have been purging and organizing for five years now and still feel overwhelmed with what is left to do but I pin on Pinterest and actually do a project here and there…no “dream house” boards for me. I would rather make my present home my dream come true.
    Anyway, I have been tweaking and fallifying our home all weekend, with frequent trips back to your site so thanks for your authenticity and for inspiring all of us, wherever we are on our journey! I am a fan for life :)

  112. Louise Gannon says:

    I came across your site while feeding my pinterest addiction, and I have to say, what a refreshing change to hear someone talk about their home and family, without it being coloured with fantasy dust. Where home, marriage, kids, lifestyle etc….aren’t made out to be something from a Disney movie. I’m tired of other sites that make you feel your life will somehow be complete, like theirs, if you could only source that vintage plant pot holder (or some such life or death must-have item). So a very big British THANK YOU!!! πŸ˜‰ x

  113. Brindusa says:


    This is my first visit (and comment) … I landed here from the hookedonhouses.net blog.

    I loved this post… Lovely photos, both sets. A house that actually shows someone’s been living in it always has more charm than an impersonal, magazine kind of house… however impeccable the latter may appear. It’s not just a house, it’s a home. :-) I even posted something on my blog a while ago about the beauty of old houses (not that I mean yours is old)… There is something warm about something used, lived in…

  114. April says:

    I loved this post – houses are made to be lived in, and although it is nice when it is tidy, its also nice when you have blankets all over the place because you know it got really cozy in there.

  115. christy says:

    This truly made me smile. Your home is beautiful…thank you for sharing the reality. :)

  116. Jennifer says:

    God Bless you, Both that you get over your sickness and because of this post (plus the other one about staying put) …some of my biggest struggles. I have improved a lot since the me of 1999 but I still tend to focus on what I don’t have. Thanks for this I shall cme back and read it often to remind myself…so don’t delete it!

  117. Rach says:

    I absolutely loved this post. I’m 100% on the same page as you. I admit my previous tendencies of pinning my “dream home” and after finding bloggers like you and a few other favourites I’ve realised the potential of making my own dream home and how fulfilling it will be. To also live, use every inch of your house not just to accommodate the “maybe” “sometimes” and “infrequent” guests. To allow the home to be as it is and not to be show home perfect. I really wanted to acknowledge your post because it was exactly how I was feeling and I had a giggle reading it. It was like I was reading something I wrote ” hehe especially sending the toys to Africa :) love it.
    Rach x