Never Tamed

The other day, my kids convinced me to stop at the feed store to take a look at the chicks.  They had this idea that we should buy a few and try to tuck them under our mama hen, and see if she would accept them.  Alas, the chicks were too old and not the breeds we were looking for, so we went home chick-less.  The women working mentioned that they would have turkeys in the next few days though.  My first irrational thought was, “Ooooh!  Turkeys!  Let’s get some baby turkeys!”  Reason quickly returned as I recalled that Jonny is already in the middle of building two portable chicken coops (a new smaller one got started over the weekend for our mama hen and her chicks, the big one is kind of on hold right now.)  He also needs to put another stall on the goat barn for the babies that we hope are coming later this month.  We really don’t need any turkeys, definitely not, but it’s awfully easy to get infected with spring craziness.

My kids are definitely infected, especially the littlest four.  A few weeks ago, when I was planning out their Easter scavenger hunt, I bought gifts for the hunt that would encourage quiet, peaceful play (ha ha ha!!!)  Books, and a few games.  And while my plan didn’t really work (still crazy) we did add a few great books to our library and the games were good choices as well.  The book that surprised me the most was Dear Pope Francis.  I had no idea what an absolute treasure it was going to be.  It is filled with letters written to him by children.  Each letter is accompanied by a photograph of the child, the original letter itself along with a drawing, and then Pope Francis’ reply.  My kids LOVE this book.  (I’ve even caught my older boys reading it.)  I also bought a copy of The Funny Little Woman, possibly Silas’ favorite book and one that we’ve had out from the library over and over, and a new to us book, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.  I highly recommend that one!  My little boys love it, and as always, Jon Klassen’s illustrations are great.

I bought three games, hoping to cover all ages.  The older boys received Risk, which they really like, but also find frustrating because they rarely have time to finish a game, and their younger siblings don’t really allow for setting it aside and returning to it later.  Thinking mainly of the girls, I bought Into the Forest.  They like it even more than I expected them to, and have spent hours playing.  It’s a nature heavy, food chain themed game, with lots of different variations in how you can play, from simple games perfect for the girls, to more complicated ones that appeal to my older kids too.  And finally I bought a cooperative game called Max.  Job is almost old enough to play, and the girls have been playing with Silas.  It’s a simple game, but one they are all enjoying.

Today’s task is to clean out the art and game cabinet.  Just like the pantry and the refrigerator, it seems to need a good clean out every few weeks.  Every time I re-organize it, I get rid of a few more things, and try to make everything a little easier to access both for me and my kids.  My thought every single time is, “There!  Now it won’t get so messy!”  And of course a few weeks later, I find myself looking at the same disorganized chaos with a sigh.  All things return to chaos sooner or later at our house!  And I will continue to do my best to tame it, knowing full well that this is a job that will never be finished.


  1. Thanks Ginny! Just checked out a couple of these book suggestions from the library 🙂 Love love love your blog! Thank you for always sharing so much.

  2. a helpful hint for the risk game: have the boys photo the game in progress then they can re set it up when they can get to it. My son had a FOREVER risk game going and we did that. We’ve also done that for monopoly!!

    Your outside photos are a little ahead than mine.

  3. Love the game Max!!! Played it over and over when the girls were little . . . and my refrigerator is way overdue for a cleaning . . . !

  4. Ginny,
    I’m going to check the library for a few of those books. And it’s true that the cleaning is never done. Some days I have more patience about the messes and other days I feel the need to get everything cleaned up right that instant because I can’t take it a second longer. 🙂


  5. Ginny, thank you for your book recommendations. I always purchase your suggestions and my kids love them! Also, your little girl’s overalls – adorable!!! 🙂

  6. We also love the game called Max. It so nice to play because you are not playing against each other but with each other.

    Organising and tidying are so satisfying when you finish them, but then, with a house full of children everything quickly returns to the state of disorder that it was in before.

    Ginny, your photo’s are so lovely. I really would love to buy a decent camera. They all seem so expensive.

  7. This very same thing happens in our house with the tupperware cupboard and my darling husband. He doesn’t take time to pack it in it’s proper place so when it comes to finding the one he wants, and it’s lid, he gets in a right state and lands up huffing and puffing and throwing something on the floor.
    It took me ten years to convince him to organise our coat cupboard to my specifications and now it’s tidy and organised and he never fights to find the jacket/shoes/hat/gloves he wants.
    I must just add that it’s only the two of us in the house but organisation is key and things quickly turn to chaos without it, and yes I mean with just us two!

  8. “All things return to chaos sooner or later…” This should go on a coffee mug for all the moms/parents/everyone out there who feel the same way! 🙂 Sigh…most days it feels manageable to keep cleaning up the same things, washing the same clothes, doing the same dishes…and other days…well, not so much.

  9. I think you can go longer between straightening up messes if you think about how it would be easier for the kids to put away. One of the problems we have with our game cabinet (an antique chiffarobe) is that all the boxes are so tightly packed in there that I’m the only one who knows how to get them in there so they all fit. When the kids put a game away, they are in a quandary as to where the box fits, so they often leave it on top of the cabinet or on the floor next to it. I know I have to reorganize everything so it’s easier for the kids to put things away (at least that’s my theory). The other option is doing what my sister does, which is cruise around the house before bed putting things away that they kids left out after their nightly pick-up. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

    We have a neighbor with turkeys and it has put me off having turkeys. Ugly and stupid birds! We also have a neighbor with pigs which almost makes me want to stop eating pork. We’ve had a garden, chickens and goats for about 10 years and I figure that’s about as much outdoor life as we can handle and afford.

  10. Just a little idea with your older boys to help make the game of Risk last longer…take a photo or print a map for them to jot down where their pieces are before they put it away, for a quick set up and continuation later on. Our co op boys did this so they could play it each week for a few weeks. It seemed to work really well for them.

  11. Always so much good–love the book and game recommendations; the forest one shot to the top of my list. Although, we struggle with the same frustrating cycle of purging/cleaning, so I’m not sure why I would add another game to the mess 🙂 Actually, our games stay pretty well organized, it’s the books that drive me absolutely bonkers!

    Also, I can never get enough of your photos of the bees flying in/out of the hive!

  12. Ha! All I could think while reading this last paragraph was “yup, I hear ya , Ginny!” 😄

  13. The picture of the bush – between the picture of the cat stretching and your kiddos in bed…what is that bush?!?!? My father-in-law used to have one (it died out) and he always called it a Sweet Bush. As kids that’s what they called them because of their heavenly sweet smell. I have not been able to identify it or find one. Do you know what it is? Oh please say you do! 🙂

  14. I gave that little book in the last photo to my grand kids and read it too them.

  15. Ginny, your pictures always make me smile. Simple beauty! We love the game Into the Forest. It has been years simply we’ve played but the children did learn a lot from playing it. Have a lovely weekend!

  16. I’m not glad that you have chaos, but I’m glad it’s not just us, if that makes sense. I’m trying to do a big spring clean/clear out/purge, and I feel like every time I get a corner/drawer/cabinet cleared out and organized, I look at it a week later and you can’t tell I did a thing.

    My kids are also begging for feed store chicks, but I’m waiting til it warms up just a bit more in the hopes of avoiding the need for a heat lamp, as my husband is convinced it’s a fire hazard, and honestly I’m worried he might be right.

    • A family in our area caught their house on fire with a heat lamp on the front porch for chicks, so the concern is valid. We always use one, but you do have to be careful.

      • I know someone who had the same awful thing happen. As a result, I am always sure to keep the heat lamps dusted daily. For whatever reason, they seem to attract dust and dirt like crazy which is all it takes to start a fire. It wouldn’t be Spring for us if we didn’t have chicks so it is worth the care and worry. However, we did get some chicks from a friend in June one year and just so happened to have a broody hen at the time. She took excellent care of them and no heat lamp required. It was a great experience!

  17. ah, the organizing and cleaning out…and then the mess. don’t they understand that not only did i just clean out the cupboard but that now they have no reason to mess it up. it’s organized, they have no excuse – exclamation point-

    and yet.

    i can actually get really into a cleaning out and organizing. i like the monotony and the momentary control it gives me. i just try not to get too attached…

    we love cooperative games here for the little ones. we all like to play them. and there is very little to no fighting or whining because no one, and therefore everyone, wins. -winky face-

    p.s. still no shift key

  18. I LOVE these pictures. Reminds me of my own childhood, so lovely!

    Thanks for the book recommendations; I think my nephew would really like the Mark & Dave one once he gets a little older :).

    Have a great weekend!

    PS. TURKEYS! Maybe some time in the future? 😉 (I still vote for sheep)

  19. Your idea, “There! Now it won’t get so messy!” totally cracks me up! I do the same thing. And I keep thinking I’ve solved the puzzle. And then it reverts to its former state… every time! We try. And we have brief moments of deep satisfaction, optimism and self-congratulation. And before we know it, the cycle repeats itself. So funny!

    • This is exactly why Jonny couldn’t take that Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book seriously. She claims that if you use her system, you only have to do it once….not at our house!

  20. Here’s something I wonder about with so many children and games: how do you store your games? I don’t mean the cabinet…I mean do you keep the boxes and (repeatedly) repair them or do you have some sort of storage solution for pieces and then keep boards separate or….

    Right now, our “nice” games (read: the fancy wood boxed ones from Target) are in their respective nice boxes but we have plenty of others that are in their original boxes and I’ve had to repair them and we’ve lost pieces, and the chess pieces are in ziplocks and the cabinet they’re in is a mess and it’s driving me nuts! Guh!

    • We only keep the current favorites in the cabinet that the kids have access to. And over the years I do tape boxes, etc. And eventually many of them end up destroyed.

  21. Have you seen Pope Francis’s Five Finger Prayer? It’s cool. I’m going to make it a part of my Rule of Life.
    I loved hearing your voice on the podcast recently. I found myself wishing the hosts would pipe down and quit laughing so loud (mean, I know). You sound solid and kind.
    Yay for spring joy!

  22. I have only myself and my husband and between us, I am constantly turning around and seeing clutter. So for you with so many more people, I can see how this is a constant work in progress.

    So nice about the games and books that are so good! how wonderful!!! Love to you, lots of it!

  23. I started wanting to get turkeys and ducks this year too and also had to stop myself… We still haven’t even put up the fence in the chickens’ yard, adding more livestock is not the answer! But then I start thinking hey, maybe we should get goats and they can eat all the poison ivy in the woods or hey, what about a pig? STOP ME! It’s a serious problem 😉

    Also, do you have a field guide you like for indigenous plants? We’ve got a lot of the same ones in our woods and I’m hopeless at identifying much beyond dogwood, redbud, etc…

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