A links roundup, brought to you by the pile of trash in my living room

August 19, 2013 | 22 comments

Joe and I are “getting the house ready for Fall” this week, and by that I mean “we are ruining our own lives, hopefully temporarily, so that we can eventually get this place to a point that it seems a little less like it’s an insane asylum for monkeys.”

You see, this is a three-bedroom house, and we have six kids. That could be a perfectly workable situation, except for the fact that my oldest is a boy and is at the age where it doesn’t work for him to share a room with girls, but all of his siblings are either girls or a baby. Also, the kids’ bedrooms are very small. Like, the neighborhood across the street from ours has half-bathrooms that are more spacious.

All the things. They are here.

Suggested tagline for Ikea: “All the things. They are here.”

After a month of planning and a very long trip to Ikea that ended with Joe and the kids surfing on the flatbed handtrucks in the warehouse aisles, I think we have a good solution for how to make us all fit. We just have to move every single piece of furniture in this house and assemble three very large and heavy items from our Ikea haul, and we’ll be all set.

So far, the process has been like one of those Mensa puzzles where you have to figure out how to get the fox and the chicken and the grain across the river but you can only fit one thing with you at a time in the boat: things are so grim around here that I’m afraid the kids will start eating each other if we turn our backs. No, kidding. The analogy is that we don’t have enough space to clear out any rooms, so we have to bend our minds to figure out which items to move at which times so that we have enough room for whatever we need to do next.

Time to surf pictures of clean houses on Pinterest.

Time to surf pictures of clean houses on Pinterest.

The salient aspect of the situation is that we have nowhere to put all the junk we found under the kids’ beds, and so we dumped it all on the living room floor. And it is an amount of stuff that I could have never imagined would fit in a landfill, let alone under furniture in my home. I couldn’t even begin to quantify how many toys and stuffed animals are in that heap, because they are numerous like the stars. Every time I gaze upon it I think about just giving the house and all its contents to a local hoarder and starting over somewhere new.

So I am going to do what INTJs do best and retreat into my head to write a blog post and hope it all magically goes away while I’m gone. Here are a few posts that are far more worthy of your time than this one:

Fabulous Finds

– Lisa-Jo Baker opens up about her struggles with rental homes and living in small spaces, and offers some very wise words about what really makes a home beautiful. Do you think there would be copyright issues if I had this tattooed on my arm?

– I absolutely love Gail Albert Halaban’s photography collection called Out My Window, in which she shows people living their lives as seen from outside their window. Someone help me articulate why these pictures are so stirring.

– I knew that Matt Walsh would write hilarious posts after his twins were born. I was right.

– Abigail, a secular-feminist-lawyer-turned-Catholic-housewife, meditates on her struggles with dividing housework with her husband, and explains why she stopped insisting that they split it 50/50.

– A caucasian mom who adopted a daughter from Africa writes a sweet and interesting post about the surprisingly large impact that the simple issue of hair has had on their family.

– Galileo’s drawings of Saturn from 1610.

This kid built his own submarine. (Homeschooolers, read #16 here before doing anything with that information.)

– You know that famous hiker who had to cut his own arm off after a boulder fell on it? It turns out that one of the things that kept him going was a vision of a little boy whom he believed to be his future son. Sure enough, a few years later, he did have a son.

– A mother writes a touching post about re-discovering her love of writing, which she once buried.

– Remember that viral video about the sweet young man who, along with his duet partner, swooned the audience when he sang opera on Britain’s Got Talent? They have a record out now, and the samples sound as amazing as you’d expect.

I just looked up from my computer, and the stuff is still all over my living room floor. Weird. I guess my only choice now is to surf Twitter and see if it goes away then.

Happy Monday!


  1. The other Becky

    Okay, all this is very interesting, and I love variations on getting the goose, the fox and the corn across the river, but WHAT ABOUT THE CAT? The one from the brewery?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      LOL! Great question. A post about that is coming soon. 🙂

  2. Erin

    Yeah, that happened here on a smaller scale. After spending a week cleaning the girls’ room a little at a time, we decided that bunkbeds were the only viable solution to the space problem. So in the course of taking apart 3 beds and assembling a giant one and moving multiple mattresses up or down 2 stories, all the junk I hadn’t gotten to (mostly that under the beds) was piled in the corner or in the closet. It’s about waist high, and the closet door is jammed permanently open on the side with no clothes, but the new bed looks nice. Guess I know what I’m doing this week.

  3. Laura

    Dare I tell you what we did in this same situation? Three bedrooms – my hubby and I, five girls, two boys. We had to give in and give the girls the master bedroom. Yes, the one with the bathroom and two big closets. It hurt, but it turned out to be the best option because really, there was no other option. Just thought I’d throw that out there! Good luck!

  4. Rose

    Can you please give the details of how you made everyone fit? I suspect many of your readers are in the same situation. 🙂

  5. Amelia

    Thank you so much for this post…seriously! First of all, that that link is a real gem and actually moved me (and I’m stoic, so rarely moved)..but the small house and the renting..totally our situation. And, second I’m so glad to know that we’re not the only ones iwth piles of stuff under our kids beds…and trying to have a bunch of kids in only 3 bedrooms. Cause ya know..misery loves company.

  6. Beth

    Good luck Jen. I am pregnant with number 6, due in Jan, and we did what you just did 2 weekends ago. Before my older four started school I felt is was necessary that every single child should be in a different bedroom. We have 3 bedrooms and a converted office/living room used as a bedroom now, but are screwed on birth order since it goes boy girl boy girl girl. So, one Saturday morning with the help of my amazing sisters, we moved every single piece of furniture and ensuing stuff that went with it. I wanted to start the school year with everyone in a good place. It was worth it. Besides the overwhelming aspect of clothing and keeping/purging/storing it, we are almost done. Lots and lots of prayers to St. Anne and St. Jude helped get everyone and everything to its new home. If I can do it, you most certainly can. Hang in there!

  7. Caroline M.

    So the junk didn’t clean itself up? Funny how that works. I am convinced that if I ignore the living room long enough it will just clean itself, but I keep getting disappointed. And don’t talk to me about Fly Lady; it stresses me out just looking at those “fly missions.” I think clean houses are for nerds without a life anyway.

  8. Becky D.

    Oh I shouldn’t be laughing but my husband and I spent yesterday trying to rearrange our computer room to fit in our 1st grader and her homeschool stuff. She needs a place to work that toddler brother can’t bother so much and we need a few shelves to not waste time looking for things (It’s a hope). Doing school on the kitchen table last year was awful. Well there is a pile of “stuff/junk” in our front room/living room that was on/under/beside the two desks. It is really really bad. I think more than the stuff you got under your kids beds. We didn’t even touch the stuff on the 4 bookcases in the room. The room is what would typically be a formal dining room so it’s not tucked away out of sight at all.

  9. Kris Chatfield

    The same issue keeps me from seriously doing anything about the nasty old carpet in our upstairs. The thought of dismantling ALLLL of the bedrooms/furniture/stuff and cleaning the children’s rooms just stops me in my tracks.

  10. Abigail Benjamin

    Abigail a ” a secular-feminist-lawyer-turned-Catholic-housewife” …. that is a funny tagline I’m stealing for a future book jacket! LOL!

  11. Abigail Benjamin

    God bless you for posting a picture of a messy living room floor! We did the insane moving thing–where it’s like a game of “Tetris.” Once I moved an entire 3 floor house into a teeny studio apartment while we were downsizing after having kids. The boxes filled up a small living room, over 7 feet in the air. The friend who helped my husband unpack felt so bad for my daughter that he sent over a crib sheet the first night. He guesses rightly that it would take us a long time to uncover the linen box, let along find space to pack it.

  12. Stephanie

    We’re in a similar boat – fewer kids, but not by much. The baby currently sleeps in the laundry room.

  13. Amy Caroline

    There is always time to browse Pinterest… 😉 We are 11 people living in a 1700 square foot house. It is crazy, especially when we try to sit around the dinning table, but we still do every night!
    Good luck with your renovations!

  14. Allison H.

    Our eldest is a boy and when he turned 16, we gave him our room and began using the futon in the den for ourselves and the baby. Then there are 4 more boys in an upstairs bedroom and the 11 year old girl in her own room (plus both dogs sleep in there). Our house is 1400 square feet for 9 people! My husband is building us a garage in his spare time (Ha!) and added a tiny efficiency apartment for the big boy, now 18 and a college-commuter. I can’t wait to have my own bedroom again (a few more months)! I’m not doing anything but pretending Labor Day isn’t so close and reading here on my computer . . .!

  15. Kellie

    I always kind of liked the fox/chicken/grain problems, but this alternate solution is pretty good, too: http://xkcd.com/1134/

  16. elizabethe

    Just want to point out that you (everyone) can just throw all that stuff out.

    You really really can.

    that is all I will say anymore. Do what you will.

  17. Casey

    I really like the “Out My Window” photography collection link, and I’ll see if I can’t articulate a little why it’s stirring (or at least, why I think it is):

    People are very disconnected from each other, even more so now than in the past. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives, that we don’t see what’s going on around us. It’s also easy to lose sight of the humanity of the people around us, because of their otherness and separateness. These photographs stop us in our tracks and make us SEE the world around us that we’re missing. Even more, each photo gives us a glimpse into the lives of those Others and makes them real to us again. It breaks through that veneer of mystery and foreignness and lets us see the ordinary. We connect with the ordinary, and that in turn lets us feel connected to the people we see in the photos. That visceral connection can be very stirring.

    At least, that was my impression. If it even made any sense! Ha!

  18. Cesar Abeid

    Just think about all the scorpions that are now hiding under those toys in your living room.

    Yep, time to move.

  19. Kristine

    When in doubt, throw it out! My family of 7 just did a ton of donating/purging, and it’s so liberating.

  20. Kyra

    Hey, your living room looks just like mine. No, wait- yours is cleaner.

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