1. Little fingerprints. They are everywhere. Walls. Oven door. Furniture. Windows. Mirrors.
2. Cracker crumbs. I finally had to ban them from the play room and bedrooms (sleeping in cracker crumbs = restless night). Every time we cleaned I found half eaten crackers and crumbs everywhere. Despite my best efforts to keep food in the kitchen and at the table, cracker crumbs seep into every nook and cranny. Including computer keys or hoodie pockets or ground into the living room rug or between the couch cushions...
3. Art work. It is also everywhere. Like on the kitty chair in the playroom's reading corner. On the walls. And thanks to my sister-in-law, who gave the girls bathtub crayons, art work is alllllll over the bathtub. I think my favorite is the octopuses that Bean drew and refused to let me wipe off because, "I would miss them Mommy!" Some isn't a surprise (like what I hang on the refrigerator) or the snowflakes in the window or the heart window stickers the girls LOVED hanging, but they are all signs of life.
4. Toys. Briella Bean loves making beds for all her stuffed animals and dolls. Sometimes she'll have 20+ beds scattered around the living room alone. I dislike this game so much because she drags each and every blanket from her room and the giant bucket of stuffed animals with a book for each of them and of course each of her animals need something to sleep with....! If she plays this game in her room, we can't open the door (which we have worked on). This perspective has helped tremendously with this particular game because it takes so much time to clean up, but my daughter loves playing it. So when the game begins I begin praying about my attitude because this sign of life isn't one where I should let my panties get in a bunch.
5. Piles of books. I actually love this particular sign of life. I might actually encourage it. The more time my family spends in books the better. There is always a pile of library books, a pile of books Bean looks at during her rest time, a pile of books I've put aside for the letter of the week, a pile of books I'm reading (which always includes my Bible), a pile of books Kyle uses for his personal study time before teaching for Sunday school or youth group, a pile of books I just purchased and need to put away (yes, this is common)...
6. Noise. Right now Brielle is "working" on her computer while I work on mine, so I keep hearing "K. K is for Kite." because it's the letter of the week and she keeps hitting the button over and over again. Also, Ele is singing to her baby. Marley is on the watch and feels the need to growl at the neighbors (I've spent the last 10 years trying to break him of this annoying habit). I love having music in the background. After typing all of that Ele has now moved on to her play phone that is singing a different version of the ABC's and Brielle's computer keeps saying, "Use your mouse to pick an activity, press the letter button..." (can you tell I've heard all this before?) Now Ele is yelling at something that isn't doing what she wants it to... signs of life.
7. Dirty dishes and messy counters. Breakfast was finished and lunch will be started in an hour. I wait until after lunch is done and the girls are resting to clean up, so if you were to visit before then, you'd see lots and lots of signs of life.
8. Shoes and clothes. Does anyone else struggle putting clean clothes away right after washing and folding them? Or get tired of reminding the children (for the umpteenth time) to put their shoes in their closet? Or snow clothes hanging out to dry during the winter and swim suits and towels during the summer? Or PJ's shed on the floor to dress in today's princess dress? All signs of life.
9. Strange smells. Haha, or this could be a sign of death. But seriously, we have dogs and they can be stinky (do I need to elaborate?) And we also have a baby in diapers. And children who hysterically laugh every time they burp or fart. And children who carry food around with them (which we had to outlaw, but can sometimes slip from our watchful eyes) and sometimes the combination of all these things creates a strange smell somewhere in the house that is incredibly hard to find.
10. Items in weird places. I've found a half eaten sucker in the blender (no joke), toys in our shoes, play food in the fridge. Brielle loves to bring styrofoam cups home from church and I'll find those in the fridge as well. I once found a magic wand in my underwear drawer. Books are a normal thing to find the dirty clothes laundry basket. Also, Brielle is a master at hiding items in the craziest spot, so this particular sign of life could go on forever...
Plus one: Markings in my Bible. Every day I try to read my Bible. During that time I use many colors to mark sovereignty verses, important phrases, wisdom to live, gospel/grace/mercy, etc. etc. My girls see me do this everyday and so my Ele decided she would do it too. Upon finding these cute markings I could not be angry. This is one way I desperately want my girls to mimic me. Read your Bible girls!
I have so much content to share just from the time it took me to write this post! Like Ele finding random leftover Nerds hidden in some crack in the floor, showing me it was in her mouth, yelling "EAT!" - all proud of this fact. (I can't make this stuff up.) Or this adorable moment where the girls were making beaded jewelry and Bean was teaching Ele colors; "ruined" because Ele decided to chuck the beads all over the living room, stuff as many as she could between the couch cushions and spilled her animal crackers during her ornery laughing fit. (I think I'll be finding beads for the next few months, and as I do I'll remember this 5 minute moment and smile.) Also, Bean got the beads out so she could make me a necklace, which I love, of course.
Thanks to these signs of life we buy magic erasers in bulk and do our very best to teach our children behavior that isn't destructive, what is appropriate to color on, when messes are okay and when it's best to have one or two toys out at a time... all of this takes time. So with the time given, I truly believe mommy's need to spend it creating a home that is welcoming and child friendly. I also believe there is a balance between being a slob and embracing the signs of life; find the balance because your children are making memories. I can't say I do that perfectly day in and day out. Some days are better than others because, quite frankly, sometimes the signs of life drive.me.crazy. The job of picking up and scrubbing clean never ends! Ahhhhh! BUT if there's one piece of advice seasoned parents always give me, it is this: treasure your time because it goes by so quickly. Take their advice because if it's true (which I'm 110% sure it is) once they are gone and the house is quiet and clean - you'll be begging for those little signs of life.