Category Archives: Advice

How to Live in a Small Space.

Since my husband Aaron and I were married in 2004, we have lived in small spaces. The house we bought was 1250 square foot, which was the biggest place we lived in until we moved to our new place of 1200 square feet. From rental home to apartment, to spare rooms in both our parent’s homes, we have survived just fine in small spaces.

I often hear people talking about how their house is too small for their growing family. Or there are complaints about their small master bedroom, or that their kids’ rooms are too small. Some have even said their house is unlivable. My retort for that final statement: tell that to a starving child in Ethiopia, or to an orphan. Or perhaps an orphaned child in Ethiopia.

But, this isn’t a judgment call on anyone.

Would I have chosen to live in a bigger home? Heck yes. I would love to live in a big home, with room to walk around my bed. I would love to have a walk-in closet, a master bath, and separate rooms for my kids. God knows, I have whined and complained and moped over the small spaces we have lived in. And my poor husband has had to listen to my complaints for years. I have to say, I don’t like myself when I turn into that person. And my attitude rubs off on everyone around me. Sorry kids.

So in the eight years we have been married—six of which were spent raising babies and toddlers, working long hours, and seeing no financial progress—I learned to cope. When faced with an obstacle you can’t just hop over, we learned to challenge and conquer it. We slept on a futon in our living room behind a row of shelving. We did laundry at my mother-in-law’s house a block away for a good three years total. We walked to the park multiple times a week out of necessity. We had no yard. While I felt we deserved more, I learned to function with what we were given.

I learned I don’t need a larger space; I just needed to find contentment and function right where I am, and let God deal with what I “deserve.”

So here are some tips for living in small spaces:

  1. Get out of your house, often. Your house will feel more like home when you return. Plus, you might just make some friends.
  2. Keep moving, and find rest when the messes are picked up. Living in small spaces leaves no room for laziness. We learned the hard way. I was constantly in fear that people would stop by unexpectedly, because our junk was everywhere. I recently adopted the “clean up 100 things before you rest” technique and it is doing wonders for my soul… and my home!
  3. Keep the dinner table clean. Of all the places in the house, I believe its very important to always have the table available so we can eat as a family. Aside from family movie nights, you should never have to sit in front of the TV due to a cluttered dining table.
  4. Keep the fridge clean. Nothing bothers me more than a messy fridge, especially when I have to unload groceries.
  5. Purge, purge, purge. I donate our posessions and unused items on a regular basis. Additionally, we purge toys and clothing before every holiday, including birthdays. We always come home with something, and it would be nice to have somewhere to put it!
  6. Play background music. When life feels like a music video, all is right with the world. I prefer Bluegrass, or Folk Rock.
  7. Let your kids make messes. And teach them at a young age how to clean it up.
  8. Empty the trash REGULARLY. Nasty food smells don’t help anyone. This is especially important for households with dogs and dirty diapers. But hopefully not dogs with dirty diapers, because that would be weird.
  9. Keep the kitchen sink empty. I don’t think I have to explain that one.
  10. Avoid the urge to spend money on seasonal decorations, clothing, takeout, and impulse purchases. If you follow this tip, you just may save money and end up in a bigger house someday!

Deceit and Trickery… I’m a Good Parent.

My five year old son Ian hurt his foot on a doorway at a party Sunday. At first, I shivered as flashbacks of his Aunt Amanda breaking her big toe last summer came flooding in, but after squeezing every bone and asking if we should go to the hospital, it was determined he would be fine (eventually). For the past few days, he has either been limping, or running freely with wild abandon. Its obvious he feels pain, but he quickly forgets about it if given the opportunity.

My son hates visits to the doctor. I think he likes the guy, but he hates the process. And if you mention shots (vaccinations), we experience massive tantrums and hanging on to doorways as we try to leave the house. He just won’t put up with the agony.

This morning, Ian limped and moped his way out of bed (I wonder where he gets it). I would barely put any pressure on his left foot, and when I said it was time to get ready to leave for preschool, he apparently decided any pressure on his foot would result in a fatality. I called my Mom to see if he had been in pain when she watched him yesterday, and she said he was fine. I decided it would be worth the parental exhaustion to try to get him to school.

However, as I watched Ian get ready as fast as a sloth, and wimpering like an abused puppy, I realized something must be done. I told Ian I would go ahead and call the doctor and schedule an appointment, and that they’d probably give him a shot and do surgery. I didn’t stop there.

I picked up my phone, and the following conversation ensued: “Hello Doctor, this is Kelly, Ian’s mom. He hurt his foot, and I’m wondering what we should do. Oh, so he does need a shot… and surgery too? Wow. That’s going to hurt a lot. Oh that’s a good point. So you’re saying if he can start walking on his foot and go to school this morning, he won’t need stitches. Ok. Well, that’s good to hear. Thanks, bye.”

Ian promptly put his coat on, zipped it up, and walked out the door. I didn’t even have to talk to a real doctor.

How to Answer Your Kids’ Repetitive Questions

“Mommy, where are we going?”

To my bible study.

“Then where?”

Then home to eat lunch.

“Then where?”

Then we’ll organize and play.

“Then where?”

Well, umm, then Daddy gets home and I work out.

“Then where?”

Then we’ll eat dinner.

“Then where?”

Then you’ll go to bed.

… “Then where?”

Then you’ll check me in to the insane asylum.


This conversation has been brought to you by earplugs. and duct tape.

Potential Side Effects May Include…

Everyone dreams for their life to be amazing. From having kids, to playing professional sports, to pursuing an acting career, it seems people have this image of how life should be. “This will bring me happiness and contentment in life,” says the dreamer. Constant digging, pressing forward, and committing to a goal often brings satisfaction, knowing with each step, people work toward their ultimate life achievement.

I was never really clear where my heart was moving me. I guess maybe I realized that when I heard from my parents that as a tiny three-year-old, I claimed I wanted to be a giraffe when I grew up. I am so glad I didn’t pursue that direction; I’m guessing my efforts would have amounted to nothing. But I don’t know… maybe there’s still a chance.

I do remember little dreams I had as a kid… wanting to have a lead role in a play, wanting a best friend, dreaming of being taller or prettier, being Mariah Carey, dating the popular boy… the list goes on. Those were events and situations I may have been able to control to some extent (except the whole Mariah thing); but even then, I’m glad I didn’t count on any of those at such a young age. The way life takes a new direction at any given moment, I wouldn’t have known how those dreams would turn out in my adult life. Even now, I wonder what will come of some of my dreams. Where will I be when I’m 80?

When I tell people my husband and I own a cafe, people often remark, “Oooh, I’ve always dreamed of owning a cafe!” To which I reply “Heh heh… really?!” I constantly debate whether to shatter their dreams and tell them the truth, or to merely shrug and reply, “Yeah, maybe someday.”

We dreamed of owning a cafe too. Makes me wish that someone had told us the side effects of such a lifestyle. Sure, we can predict minor outcomes, like “Smoking may cause lung cancer” or “holding hands with that boy leads to… eh-hem… lots more.” But in reality, where do our actions take us 10 steps later, when years have passed and our lives and the people around us constantly evolve?

So without further adieu, here’s life as a side effect warning:

GET MARRIED: caution, engaging in such activities may lead to excessive communication about unimportant issues that may never end, an emotional bond with someone who sometimes needs guidance in how to decipher your language, facial expresions, and meals. Do not combine with extreme anger, overspending, or sarcastic and cutting comments. Those with Type A or Type B or C personalities, be aware that combining personality types may lead to other issues, depending on your genetics, family background, education, and Spiritual outlook.

HAVE KIDS: consult a doctor before and after procreation. Possible side effects may include the creation of an actual human life whom you will be responsible for your entire life. If you suffer from aw-cute syndrome or you have aversions to poo, wait until symptoms cease before having kids. Side effects may also include crying, screaming, squirting, and unknown aromas exploding from small human. If you have money, and also if you don’t have money, consider all possible financial outcomes.

OWN A CAFE: before owning a cafe, consult with your financial supporters, God, banks, professionals, investors, attorneys, and accountants. Side effects of owning a cafe may include a smaller home, drinking coffee you pretend is free, and town characters frequenting your shop. If you suffer from an introverted or anti-social personality, aversions to cranky people and screaming kids, and/or cleaning, be sure to get 8 hours of sleep, or hide in the back storage room. Pregnancy, life stress, and other related incidentals may cause overeating and a loss of numbers. Do not own a cafe in a poor economy.

PLAY COLLEGE SPORTS: engaging in such activities may lead to excessive calorie consuming, constant dehydration, and excessive use of athletic tape and Icy-Hot. Possible side effects may include hurt muscles, angry teammates, and an extremely low GPA. If you suffer from a Type B personality, do not combine college sports with Pre-Med or Engineering. Results of combining these activities may result in tutoring, debating grades with teachers, and eventual change in major declaration. Long term side-effects may include easily sprained ankles, which may require years of rest and rehabilitation. Other long-term side effects may also include abnormally buff legs, a permanent increase in appetite regardless of physical exertion and burning of calories, and irrational dreams of playing professional soccer someday.

Yep, so that’s about it. Hope that helped.