Fall is, by far, my favorite time of year.

However, fall is also my nemesis, for it is usually during this time of year that I fall prey to the temptation to do all things creative.



For instance, one fall season, this is what was simultaneously taking place at our house:

  • Holiday Craft Boutique preparations
  • Reading Fair preparations
  • Geography Fair preparations

Allow me to paint a visual for you, lest you think these preparations just magically occurred in the peace and serenity of our immaculately clean home.

Picture in your mind, if you will, a normally half-put together house turned COMPLETELY upside down.

Imagine yourself entering our front door and standing in our living room, gazing in one direction, then another, trying unsuccessfully to see the floor. To your right stands an ironing board, covered with fabric scraps and unfinished projects. Thread and fabric remnants lie in mini heaps beneath it. Behind the ironing board, piled high near the window, are finished projects, and the beginnings of future projects.

My children, excited to join me in making and selling items at a local holiday boutique, are working on their own projects. We have been creating for weeks, which is evident by the looks of our house. But, boy, are we having fun! One creative idea after another is brought to life as we created jewelry, stuffed animals, pillows, artwork, blankets, refrigerator magnets, crocheted items, tree ornaments, dolls, and more.

There is something so fulfilling about being creative!


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Strewn out across the couch is a load of clean laundry. Now, I never allow laundry in our front room—it’s one of my pet peeves. However, my “child-in-charge-of-the-laundry” that week assured me that the clothes would be folded and put away before bedtime, so I made an exception–just this once! That was three days ago. After the laundry sat there awhile, the inevitable happened…the pile of clean clothes became invisible to us. Laundry? What laundry?

In front of the couch sit three extremely tired children with their pillows and blankets, surrounded by dirty dishes, since said children ate their dinner on the living room floor (a rare treat in our family, typically saved for an occasional Friday night) while watching Schoolhouse Rock.

As you attempt to make your way to the family room, be sure to step over the huge pile of yarn that my daughter just dumped onto the floor while working on a crochet project.

The view from the family room into the kitchen is equally as shocking. Our Reading Fair displays from the event at the library are leaning against the computer desk, surrounded by all the items used to make the displays: paper, tape, markers, glue, toilet paper (yes, toilet paper!), books, trains, scrapbook paper, cardboard and more. Much, much more. What fun we had using our imaginations while putting the displays together!

Our Geography Fair preparations were also well underway at this point, so envision items from three different countries covering the family room floor while the kids organized their final presentations on tri-fold boards. Spain. Ireland. New Zealand. Scattered EVERYWHERE! But, oh, what a fun and educational mess it was!





Moving to the kitchen. Ohh…the kitchen. Between the Reading Fair event at the library that morning and our afternoon errands, which culminated in an accident and trip to the doctor, our “child-in-charge-of-the-dishes” hadn’t had a chance to do breakfast, lunch, or dinner dishes that day. Imagine, if you dare, the ULTIMATE kitchen mess.

Now wander down the hall to the master bedroom and, paying close attention to the open and “spilled-and-laying-all-over” contents of our craft supply storage containers in the bedroom closet, notice how messy the room is. Piles of patterns and books; buttons and lace; velcro and elastic. An organized mess, as I like to describe it. Such an incredibly fun and “organized” mess!

Continuing down the hall you find the linen closet door wide open—another one of my pet peeves, since the closet is often a mess.

“Please shut the linen closet door” is a request that is repeated over and over and over again in our house, often going unheeded. {sigh} However, this time the open door didn’t bother me a bit since I’d recently spent some time organizing the closet.

What a breath of fresh air it was to have some sign of organization in the midst of the fun and creative chaos!




Moving on to the kids’ bedrooms. Well, let’s just say…who wants to make a bed when there are so many cool projects to work on, right!?

And the bathrooms? They weren’t so bad, but had seen better days. We’ll just leave it at that.

Now, visualize a mother, extremely sore from her afternoon accident, and exhausted from too many super fun but late night projects, resting on her bed, with no desire to do ANYTHING. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Imagine her getting a clear impression to “check the beans that are cooking on the stove”.

Now imagine her ignoring the impression to “check the beans that are cooking on the stove” as she continues her much-needed R&R time.

Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say this, it took the smell of burnt beans to get her off that bed.

Already knowing what was about to happen, but wishing to remain in complete denial, she slowly exited her room. Her destination? The kitchen stove.

One step out of the bedroom confirmed her worst fears. Smoke was streaming from the covered pot of beans, the water long since evaporated.

The house was filling with smoke.

The children were surrounded by smoke.


52 Uncommon Family Adventures: Simple and Creative Ideas for Making Lifelong Memories



“Could you not smell the smoke?” I frantically inquired, searching through the smoke for the television remote.

“Yeah, I thought I smelled smoke, but I figured it was just my imagination,” came a child’s response, as she attempted to locate me through the thick haze.

Doors and windows were quickly opened and all fans were turned on, but it was too late. The piercing sound of the fire truck siren was creeping our way.

Before we knew it, worried firemen rushed to the front door to find one weary, sore, and embarrassed mama, surrounded by three excited kids.

“Cool! A fire truck!” the kids shouted.

“What’s going on?” asked Fireman #!, “Is everyone okay?”

“I burned the beans,” I declared. Though I felt like whimpering, I had to shout above the roar of the fire truck.

“I figured it was something like that,” fireman #2 said with a smile, nodding his head knowingly. “I did the same thing last week.”

Love your family



One would think his comment would make me feel better and, in truth, it did make me feel much better, until Fireman #1 came out of the house a few minutes later to assure me that all seemed to be okay. His words still haunt me to this day:

“I checked every room in the house, opened some windows, and closed every closet door to reduce the risk of smoke damage,” he said.

“Ok…thank you,” I managed to say. I heard the muffled words come from my mouth, but what was going through my mind was,

“You…checked…every…room…and…saw…(gulp!)…every…closet?” A dull, aching pit formed at the bottom of my stomach.

After the fire truck roared away, I hurried to the house, praying it wouldn’t look as bad as I remembered.





As I entered the front door, my eyes beheld the ironing board, the fabric scraps, the dirty dishes, and the messy project makings, and for a moment I thought I saw the words “BAD MOM; LOWSY HOUSEKEEPER” flashing in neon lights. But as the smoke cleared, I realized that those weren’t the words I’d seen after all. Rather, the words I envisioned in my mind went something like this:

Dear local firemen,

Thank you for making sure our family was safe on the night I burned the beans. When you entered our house, you may have thought you were surrounded by an enormous mess, but don’t be deceived by the ‘smoke and mirrors’. The “mess” was an illusion. What you had to step through was a representation of our love of life, our passion for learning, and our deep commitment to one another. What you witnessed was creativity, fun, education, and love all wrapped into one. If you pay us a visit in March, you’ll likely find a clean and boring house. But if you return in the fall, expect to see our home covered in creativity. That’s just the way we roll. Don’t worry—we’ll clean the mess up when we’re finished. In the meantime, we’ll try not to burn the beans.

With gratitude,

Our Happy Family

P.S. Did you notice the neatly organized linen closet as you walked down the hall? You must have, since the closet door was wide open. {sigh}



When was the last time the firemen paid a visit to your house…er…rather...when was the last time you fully engaged in a project with your children, paying little attention to the mess that was being made?


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