I think deep down inside every woman wants a magazine-perfect home – Picture this:  You walk in the front door and smell a light fragrance that reminds you of spring and burning candles at the same time. Soft light floods each room, revealing the sparkling clean that is everywhere.  In the bedrooms, sheets match the comforters, pillows, bed-skirts, curtains and the area rug.  Bathrooms are painted in soft aqua tones with shells and ocean accents with fluffy towels folded neatly into baskets and smelling as nice as the day you pulled them out of the dryer.  In the Kitchen there are never any dishes in the sink and the refrigerator is full of good, wholesome food that looks  amazing and tastes fabulous. The counter tops are covered in glorious mounds of baked goods that are sinfully calorie laden, created with the express purpose of soliciting complements about what a clever cook you must be to make such exquisite pastries.  Throughout the house are lush carpets with no traffic wear patterns and never need vacuuming, hard-wood floors that never need sweeping yet they are waxed and polished to the point of reflecting your face like a mirror.  All you have to do is float from room to room enjoying the picturesque perfectness and never cast a care to how it actually stays that way because you’re in a magazine home.  This is the modern woman’s fairy tale, eh?

<pause and reflect on what a life might be like if you lived in a magazine-perfect home…okay, that’s enough, now come back to reality>

Real Life is full of my spouse, children and pets making messes everywhere.  Especially messes that smell bad, really bad.  Real Life means the sink – and counter tops – are covered in dirty dishes, the inside of the microwave has spots from things exploding and the bottom of the oven is full of burnt offerings to the gods.  The ‘fridge may be full but everything is sticky from a frozen can of orange juice that leaked all over the shelves and no one ever bothered to wipe up. Also, something has gone horribly wrong in the bottom ‘fridge drawer, aka, the cool box,  and you’ve resigned yourself to waiting for the government to come and clean up the toxic waste.  Until then, nobody in the house is going to touch it for lack of proper gloves and radiation suits.

Real Life means that there is dog hair everywhere and if you are lucky(?) enough to have a large, prone-to-drool dog like we do, there is dog drool everywhere as well.  Dog drool on the walls from when he shakes his head, dog drool on your shoes because he likes to carry them around and dog drool on just about any soft, fluffy thing he can carry around the house with him… and he’s a big dog, there’s not much he can’t wrap his mouth around and cart all over, ugh!

Real Life means that the kitchen table is not used for eating at but for the storage of things like magazines, the mail, a citrus juicer, body lotion, reading books, your daughter’s latest sewing project, a motorcycle helmet, TV remote controls, an old rotary-dial telephone that’s missing its handset, electrical power cords, scissors, a wireless mouse and a set of super-old Tupperware popsicle makers.

Real Life means that there is a huge dog crate in the middle of my kitchen area for a week because we dog-sat for a friend who went on vacation.

Real Life means that we are renting our guest room to a nice, single young woman from church who has her own dog and we find out that neither her dog nor our own recently acquired, super-large dog are entirely house trained.  <rolling my eyes as I wipe up dog pee with one hand and hold my nose with the other>

Real Life means that my home normally operates in Disaster Mode but that it’s always open to others, just as it is.  Those courageous few that dare venture into our home usually leave saying they felt relaxed and at ease with us and they look forward to coming back.

Real Life means that we live with the disaster, the dog hair, the junk food and the cluttered table but we LIVE.  We laugh and play games, watch movies and just enjoy each other company.  We make terrible messes in the kitchen trying out various recipes, most of them completely delicious and therefore bad for us, and when we finally feel like it, we clean the mess up – unless we have company coming over and then we do the famous “Company Clean” dance all around the house, it’s both good exercise and good for our housekeeping!

Real Life means that we’re not perfect and our home will never grace the pages of a magazine but it’s our home and we don’t encourage any OCD behavior by making (housekeeping) perfection a low, low priority.  Our goals are to live and be a happy family together.  There are some people who can do that AND have amazing housekeeping skills but we are not those people.  We are ourselves.  You be yourself too.  Be Real!

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