Learning to be a helper

Every morning when it’s fine… and some mornings when it’s not… the girls and I head out to the backyard to hang laundry. Amelia  has already done the wash, Millen fetches the basket of wet clothes up from the basement, and Arianna flits around like a very excited little butterfly.

“Help you? Help you?”  she asks, the “you” becoming progressively more high pitched and emphatic with each repetition.


Once we’re outside, Millen takes her job of sorting through the laundry very seriously, all of the tee shirts first, then dresses, pants and skirts; all clothing of one type hanging together so we have a neat and orderly looking clothesline. Undies and bloomers go on the middle line, safe from the prying eyes of the neighbor boys. This is very important, especially if you’re Millen.


Arianna starts out calmly. She takes the tee shirts from Millen and hands them to me. One at a time. One at a time… but then the excited little butterfly part of her personality rears its adorable little head and she starts running around through the wet wash, hiding behind the leggings. And then, in a fit of hilarity she pushes over the laundry basket, grabs a handful of clothing and throws them high into the air.

Oh my.


And when I say, “Oh Arianna!” in a terribly disappointed and shocked voice, she runs away.

Oh my, my, my.

And then, when I call her back, around the end of clothesline she goes, giggling and smiling flirtatiously back over her shoulder in what, she mistakenly thinks, is a terribly winsome way.

Oh, my goodness me.


I take her by the hand and walk her back to where I was standing. “We come when we are called,” I tell her. We pick up all of the laundry from the grass and we look carefully to see if any has gotten dirty.

“Sorry DeeDee,” she says, and I give her a hug.


And then we get right back to work.


Did you know that clothespins are extremely fascinating?


And really rather tricky to operate? Millen gives her a few pointers


Before we know it, the baskets are empty, the laundry is drying on the line, the clothes are oh-so-beautifully pinned, and we go back inside.


Our work here is done.



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27 Responses to Learning to be a helper

  1. 1
    Amy Jo says:

    What a cutie! It looks like you have so much fun hanging out your clothes. Somehow it never seems that fun when I am hanging them…LOL

    Amy JO

    • Diane Shiffer says:

      Much as I love hanging out clothes, I have to admit that having such cute little helpers certainly ups the fun factor;)

  2. 2
    sarah says:

    How sweet! My youngest is 15 months and that reminds me of how much “help” he is sometimes, lol. But I could definitely use a Millen to help me ;)

  3. 3
    Heather says:

    Aww…hanging laundry just gets more fun with a little one!! Friends think it odd that I love hanging laundry and even better than that, I love watching it blow in the breeze and even BETTER than that….sleeping on line dried sheets and pillowcases!! Have a beautiful day! We are getting a heat wave this week up here in Ontario….Hugs, Heather

  4. 4
    Angela says:

    What a lovely way to spend a morning! And, can I just say, Arianna is the most adorable thing ever! :)

  5. 5
    Tabor says:

    This does not look like work to me. Hanging clothes. Never do that anymore and if I had a helper that precious I might try to work it into every day!

  6. 6
    Deanna says:


    What a little doll – and what a wonderful helper Millen is! Isn’t it lovely having big girls? I’d be lost without mine!

    Looking forward to seeing you soon!

    • Diane Shiffer says:

      Deanna, we are so excited about seeing you all again… did I tell you that Arianna and her mama are coming as well? So you get to meet both of my beautiful little helpers♥

  7. 7
    Jess says:

    What a cutie! so wonderful to have such fantastic helpers!

  8. 8
    Terri T says:

    Doesn’t everyone put the undies and unmentionables on the inside line to keep prying eyes away? I think so. What fun your description of hanging out the laundry was! I bet everything smells wonderful too.

    • Diane Shiffer says:

      Honestly, it doesn’t matter where I put them Terri, I always feel this vague sense of embarrassment having them out there in all of their whatever-the-opposite-of-glory-is. Such are the travails of having a clothesline right in the middle of town, where one’s neighbors are always only a couple of feet away! I’ve actually considered using the dryer for the undies, but then that would involve sorting them all out, trekking them back downstairs to the laundry, and firing up the dryer, and I think I’m too lazy for all of that;-)

  9. 9
    Lady Dorothy says:

    Love it! Every bit of it! I’ve missed your take on life. (BTW, I think Arianna could easily pass as one of mine! And she’s grown so much since we last saw her!)

  10. 10
    Lady Anne says:

    Tell Millen I also make sure the clothes are sorted when I hang them on the line – first the sheets and pillowcases, then behind them all the T-shirts and what my grandmother used to call “the littles” (except mine aren’t, any more!). Bath towels, by color, and then the washclothes, and so on. When it’s time to take them down and fold them, they end up going into the basket in reverse order, so the kitchen stuff comes off the top, the bathroom things are next, then our clothing, and finally the sheets.

    The way my husband hangs up laundry is a disgrace, but if you think I’m fool enough to say anything to him – no way! I’m eternally grateful he’s out there helping. Never argue with the help, is my attitude.

    • Ace says:

      Girl who you telling? I wish I had learned that lesson earlier. Talked my Husband out of helping me clean AND out of getting me a maid for a few months when I first had my first baby (I was full of hormones and convinced anyone that was not me or married to me was going to try to steal my baby LOL)…..OH WHAT AN IDIOT!

      Take the help and if you have to, fix what they do after they go somewhere else HEHE!

    • Diane Shiffer says:

      I will tell her Lady Anne, and I’m sure she will feel very validated:)

  11. 11
    Ace says:

    Well HELLO Missy! I have missed you!

    I am seriously considering getting me one of those lines (maybe I will spray paint them purple, just a thought, because I am compusively spray painiting everything I can right now…I …can…not…help…it LOL).

    What wonderful blessings your family must be to this little girl and her family. I was often in day care growing up, my Mother truly had no choice and had to work to help my Dad put the food on the table in their business. What a difference it would have been to be so welcomed and loved in a family like yours. You must give her Mother such incredible peace. Truly a work of the Lord. She will remember all this one day and realize what a gift it was.

    Love ya toots, glad to see you back!

    • Diane Shiffer says:

      And hello to you my dear friend!! ((hugs)) and ♥♥kisses♥♥

      And you always say the kindest things, which is only part of why I love you so much;) Seriously though, when the dh first left I had to put the kids in daycare for a while. Noah was just a baby and it Broke. My. Heart. Every single morning it broke my heart all over again. I was fortunate enough to have an excellent caregiver which helped, but still so very very hard. It blesses me to help another family in this difficult kind of situation. Arianna’s mom and I have a mutual admiration society going on, so it’s all good, hehehe.

      • Ace says:

        Hugs and Kisses back at you! I can only imagine the heartbreak you suffered. So glad that the Lord made a way for you to get through it and to offer help to someone else.

        By the way, the children LOVE your pictures! Hehe! They jump all over me when I try to look at blogs and insist on “helping”.

  12. 12

    Thank you for the smile. I missed having Tomato Soup Cake smiles very much.

  13. 13
    Mrs. Anna T says:

    Shira and Tehilla have now gotten really into laundry too! Shira actually manages it very well – we have plenty of space where little people can hang up little items (undies, socks, etc). She is so happily occupied this way!


  1. mommy's helpers - Gretchen Louise - September 28, 2012

    [...] -Diane Shiffer in “Learning to Be a Helper”dianeshiffer.com [...]

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