I was recently asked some questions by a reader that I thought were worthy of answering in a post for everyone to read. The question was something to the effect of where do you keep your toys, do your children even have toys, and how do you keep your house clean with five children?!
The first thing I did was send this photo of Lego storm troopers I found one evening taking advantage of the tufts in the velvet tufted ottoman in a very epic battle.
Quite the contrast to this picturesque scene I shared on the blog at the beginning of the year. I don’t leave vases with real flowers on the ottoman ever. At my place in life that would be sheer stupidity.
The storm troopers made me laugh and smile about the reality of this being home to four boys, and instead I snapped an iPhone photo to further preserve the memory. I didn’t immediately pick up the storm troopers either. They’re just a funny reminder of how blessed I am with this family of mine.
At a larger level, I am so glad this woman asked those questions, because the photos I present on the blog are pretty pictures of a clean house in which things are in their proper place, and fresh flowers adorn tables and Legos have all but ceased to exist. And the last thing I want to convey on this blog is pretentiousness. I enjoy creating and beauty, but for those who know me, you also know I like to be real. The reality is, our house is a home to seven people. One of which is a baby, so the time I have to attend to every day matters fall behind on a rapid basis. It actually took me an entire week to photograph my fall décor this year. I would have a few minutes in between feeding my baby and attending the family, clean a small area, set up the tripod and shoot a couple of presentable photos.
Here’s the thing though. If I took photos of my house littered with Legos, dishes waiting to be put in the dishwasher, piles of laundry attempting to become the next Egyptian pyramid, while throw pillows and afghans become the greatest reality obstacle course, nobody would read my blog or Pin the inspiration on Pinterest.
Here’s the thing, I usually take my photos after my house cleaner has left and the lighting is right. Yes, you read that right, I have someone help clean my house. She comes every two weeks for 3 hours and makes our house sparkly clean. I know it’s not in everyone’s priority or budget, and up until a year ago it wasn’t for us either. But both my husband and I wanted the house cleaner than I was able to keep it, and if I did concentrate on cleaning very well on a regular basis instead of the creative things that bring me joy, I would get really grumpy. Some people are gifted organizers and exceptional house cleaners, and it is a priority, I am not that person. I can keep things picked up and somewhat clean, and I feel better when it’s clean, but I am soo incredibly thankful for the help of a house cleaner!
Secondly, photos are somewhat “staged” to appear appealing to readers. You mean it’s not all completely real? Well, I’d say it’s about 95% real. I don’t always have fresh flowers, I’d like to, but they can get expensive in Alaska. But I’ve found flowers make a photo “pop” so I often buy an inexpensive bouquet before a photoshoot. Sometimes I rearrange things, and move furniture around to get a good photo. Just because it works in real life doesn’t mean it works in a photo.
These pillows all really sit on the linen sofa, however, they usually are squished and rarely look this picturesque. I also have a boy who takes it upon himself to head-butt each pillow to give it the dented look. Perfection is not always the best goal of living as a family.
I found out staging happens drastically for magazine photoshoots when I read this post by Miss Mustard Seed. Country Living Magazine featured her recently, and before they came to shoot her beautiful house they shipped 30 boxes of props before they arrived! I knew they used props but had no idea it was so extensive. In fact when I saw the photos in Country Living I was a little disappointed, because it wasn’t completely true to her style, it had been tweaked to look like they wanted for the magazine! I love Miss Mustard Seed, and I enjoy browsing through Country Living Magazine. That was just a little bit eye opening.
My own staging is far less extensive. In reality, my fruit bowl does sit next to the sink, but rarely is it so uniform and pretty, it functions to hold fruit (and sometimes uninvited fruit flies). Likewise in this photo, I removed the dish soap container, scrub-brush and wash-rag for the photo, it just wasn’t pretty.
And to the question, where do we keep our toys? All over the floor of course! Ha. That’s often true, and we want our kids to know that this is their home as well. But we do expect toys to be picked up usually on a daily basis.
In this post, I shared where we keep some of our toys in totes and baskets (somewhat) organized in closets, but the majority of their toys belong in their rooms. And you know what? They aren’t spic ‘n span clean most of the time, and the reason you haven’t seen them is, they’re far from a cohesive design and frankly not incredibly inspiring. They definitely are a hodgepodge of personalities and interests (we have two boys to each room). And the priorities of money and décor for now are not focused on boys who are completely happy with their own style.
When I began this blog a year and a half ago I though about tagging each post with a behind the scenes photo that was just about keeping it real. I may start including that from time to time. Because, while I want to inspire creativity, I also want you to know, I am a real mom living in a real home with a large family, and fulfilling life isn’t usually picture perfect.
Also, I’d appreciate some feedback. My blog would only be a glorified online journal without the inclusion of my readers. I am so grateful for you. So I’d like to hear from you, would you appreciate keeping it real/behind the scenes moments interspersed here and there with my usual creativity and faith posts? Or should I keep it just to the pretty things?
Next time I will finish with more fall décor in the dining area.