Beautiful Chaos

Finding adventure in the everyday
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Wonder

November29

This season brings out the wonder in us all. Whether or not we do the Santa thing, there is a magical feeling around Christmas time. I see it in my kids already this year.

Counting down to the Christmas lights is a tradition we’ve done for as long as I can remember. When people ask me if I’m going downtown to watch them light the Santa Claus, I feel like saying, “Of course I’m going. I invented this thing. I’m practically hosting it!” I know, I know. It began long before I came around. My Mom says she’s been going to it for as long as she can remember too. (So maybe SHE is hosting it!)

But each time we gather around a giant tree or wall full of lights, something happens. This wonder at all that is and all that could be. This childlike whimsy is unleashed on us all and we all participate. We slow down from the rush of to do lists and work and errands and we delight in the fanciful. We count down the seconds until someone lights up the sky.

And then…

 

we bring it in our homes and the excitement spills over into our everyday lives. But it’s not just our everyday lives anymore, this season transforms our whole lives into a world of wonder. From driving around marveling at lights on houses to sleeping under the lights of the Christmas tree, there is no ordinary about this season.
Let us be swept away by the magic of it all.

what I’m learning about writing

November22

As I’ve been writing and reading other blogs/books that I enjoy, I feel like I’ve been learning a lot about writing. I’m sure it’s just like with anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. I’m hoping that will be true of me as well. So, I’m going to share some of the nuggets I’ve been learning along the way.

In my opinion, every blog is better with at least 1 picture.
So sometimes, my blogs have random pictures
just for your viewing pleasure!

1. In the past I’ve written drafts and then posted them feeling something was missing, but I figured it was just a more mediocre topic. I’m learning that my senses are not to be ignored. I recently let a blog sit in my draft folder for a few weeks because it didn’t feel right and then one day it clicked what was wrong with it. I altered it and was really pleased with the result. I need to slow down and not be in such a hurry.

2. When I take the weekend off from writing, getting back into it on Monday is really hard. It’s like the writing center of my brain shuts off and getting it going again takes some work. The creative can easily get overtaken by the task oriented side of me. That is so often true in all situations.
3. I can’t write what isn’t on my heart. This week I was trying to write a blog and I couldn’t get anything flowing. No topic sounded good, and any that I already had going felt flat to me. Then I realized my heart was in a totally different place. I was avoiding where my head was because thought I couldn’t write about it since it wasn’t my story to tell. But I needed to tell this story. It was such a great exercise in writing something that needed to be said, but not sharing any specifics of the story that wasn’t mine to give to the world. I had a lot of fun, once I let my heart lead the way.

4. I’m learning to find my voice. I’m not sure what my voice completely sounds like, but it’s going to look different than others. I have a friend who writes so quirky and fun (like her) and I went through a time of comparing myself to her. I loved how her blog felt and sounded, and I was sad that mine didn’t sound like that. But, I’m not her. I can’t sound like her. I am learning to be ok with how I write, how my voice sounds and trust that God may have people who need to hear what I have to say.

5. I may think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever written, my heart may be in my writing more than it’s ever been, it could be something that I feel the world needs to hear, and every person who reads it could hate it. This is the hardest thing I’ve had to learn with my writing. There is a lot of confidence in who I am that needs to be in place, so that I won’t be shaken by how many people read a post, how many people share it, etc. I’m still working out the details on this one, but the mixture of hope in touching lives, writing because my words need to be said and letting God’s delight in my writing be enough is good and right to balance out.

6. Keep writing. I think that this might be one of the most important things for me. If I keep going, putting thoughts down, I can keep figuring out my focus and what I’m aiming to do. My goals can keep refining and changing and becoming more clear, but only if I keep pressing forward.

I’m glad you’re here on this journey with me.

Smell

November14

4 days ago Smell left. I have been taking Smell for granted and in an act of boycott he took off, taking a sympathetic Taste right along with him (apparently Smell is a boy). Sure I love Smell, but as for his importance, I was oblivious. Of the 5 senses, he seemed low on the list of necessities. Sight? Obviously. Hearing? Of course. And Taste? I mean, come on (hello! chocolate chip cookie addict over here). But Smell?

The first day was kind of fun. One thing you’ll learn about me is that I like when things deter from the norm. We lose electricity and I get excited. We have a giant snow/wind/rain/ice storm that affects our whole day/week and I’m giddy. I LOVE it when things out of the ordinary happen.

Anyhow, losing Smell wasn’t THAT fantastic, but I wasn’t upset at all either. Eating became just to get rid of the growling in my tummy. Without Smell, and Taste gone for moral support, so there was no point in continuing to eat past the satisfied point. What a great way to ensure only eating what my body needs, I foolishly thought! HA! Yes, I didn’t eat more than I needed, but FOOD IS SUPPOSED TO TASTE GOOD! And Smell took that with him when he left.

I didn’t realize how many things I make for my family that I taste test to see if I’ve added enough salt or other seasoning. I also use Smell to make sure things aren’t rotten or funky, and relying on my 3 year old to tell me if an avocado smells funny or not just isn’t cutting it.

I keep asking Spunky if I put any of my oils on because even though they are quite pungent, I feel like I’m just rubbing olive oil on and instantly forget they’re there. And then I go out with 10 different kinds of oil smeared in random places on my body, totally oblivious to the fact that I could be invading someones personal space just by walking by. Of course, I probably wouldn’t do any different since the oils are part of my healing process, but at least I’d be aware of what I was doing!

And I can’t smell my baby! I keep sticking my nose in his little baby neck hoping to at least get some small whiff of his delicious baby smell (man, I sound kinda creepy). All to no avail. I can’t smell his breast milk breath or his sour baby diapers either. So sad. And yes, I’m sad about the baby diaper smell. Something about breast milk only poos smell good to me.

Sorry, let’s move on.

Drinking tea has become sad. Eating dark chocolate throughout my day has become less of a cherished minute alone where I savor every morsel of that smooth chocolate interspersed with peppermint crisps which add some cool bursts to my sweet cocoa experience…Woah, sorry about that. Let me just wipe the drool off my face so I can keep going here. Anyway, that moment is gone because Smell is gone.

So Smell, if you’ve been waiting for a formal apology before you come back, here it is. I’m sorry. Please forgive me for taking you for granted all these years. Please come back. I promise I won’t take you for granted anymore. And be sure to tell Taste the you have forgiven me so she knows she can come back too.

Signed,
3 out of 5 ain’t cuttin it!

what I’m reading

November10

I love young adult fiction. There, I said it. I think it would be really cool to enjoy Classics like Jane Eyre and…Charles Dickenson and stuff. I don’t even know the classics. The ones I’ve tried I get bored really easily. Maybe that makes me uncultured. I’d like to say I’m okay with that but I think I’d like to like those books. Maybe someday when day to day life doesn’t take all of everyhting I have in me, reading a book that takes more effort for me will feel more doable and fun. I said maybe.

Right now, I like the easy stuff. Currently I’m reading the Divergent Series. I read the first 2 last fall/winter and LOVED them. Sooo good. But the third one wasn’t out yet so I’ve been waiting. And while I was waiting, I forgot what happened in the 2nd book. Like, forgot most of everything. So I’m trying to quick re-read it so I can read the new one that I was anxiously awaiting for months and months.
I’m not doing so well with the quickness. It seems my days are pretty jam packed and since I’ve opened the writing floodgate, my brain is fairly preoccupied with what to write about next. I just need a good session to get back into it and then it will be a chore to put the book down not pick it up. Or maybe the introvert in me needs some space from “new people”  in my books, and after some time I’ll be a reading machine again.
I’m also reading Love Does. Great book, full of stories that really make me think about how I’m loving and living life. I love that the chapters aren’t super long and are 95% story. I also love that we discuss this book in a group of women I’m a part of. This week’s question: when was a time you thought you really wanted something, but God didn’t give it, and now looking back you’re so thankful?
And I’m reading (off and on) The Wounded Heart. Great book, super deep and hard to press into more than a little at a time. At least for me it is. I recommend this book to everyone.

What are you reading?

I HATE SICKNESS!

November7

If you couldn’t tell from the all caps, I’m serious about that statement. Now I know that sickness is just a part of life, and being the crunchy mama I am, I also believe that everything they fight through only makes their immune systems stronger. And I seriously enjoy sick snuggles and the slowness of days that comes from a short battle with a bug. But THIS bug?!?! It’s been 7 days and I NEED OUT OF THIS HOUSE!

Yes, it’s that serious around here.

It’s been 7 days. 7 days of no one leaving the house and until today no visitors. 7 days of coughing. 7 days of someone needing me to take care of more than just their basic needs. 7 days of being “on call”. I’m pretty sure a doctor’s limit is somewhere around the 24-48 hour range (but this is totally based on research I’ve done through watching Scrubs). 7 days of crushing vitamins, slathering oils, filling the diffuser and watching movies.

In that 7 days we’ve had vomiting, nasty coughing, stuffy noses, fevers, ear aches, wobbly legs and popping ears. And this is the week that Monkey decided to hate napping and (astonishingly) to keep himself awake Every. Single. Day this week. Multiple times a day I try to make some tea to try and give me something for me, and multiple times a day I end up with cold tea or a delay in the process that keeps me from even pouring water.

I’m saturated. I feel like a sponge as full as it can go. Heavy with babies that need held to sleep, demands that come in the form of cries and whines and not having a life outside of these walls in 7 DAYS. I’m so filled that as I walk around the house I’m dripping everywhere. When a sponge gets too full it’s not very useful. A dry sponge isn’t helpful either. There is a range of wetness a sponge needs, and I think I’ve pretty successfully blown that range by 6.5 days. I just changed Big Baby’s diaper which was of the #2 variety and it had leaked a bit on the inside of the back of his shirt. You know what I did? Used a wipe to clean off his shirt and left it on him. Yup, it’s getting real around here.

The kids are reaching new levels of cabin fever as well. They are bouncing off walls. No I mean, Spunky is literally throwing her body at the couch and bouncing off of it onto the floor. She’ll be sitting still on the living room rug and then out of nowhere she heaves her body around in an awkward spin on her knees which ends with her whole self landing sprawled with a thunk on the floor. We need out.

renewing my mind

November6

Lately, God has been teaching me about renewing my mind. It is a hard and mentally exhausting work, but the little bits of fruit I’ve seen make it all worth while.

I’ve been learning that we all have lies we believe. They may be words someone spoke over us, things we saw repeatedly on TV or in our culture that we claimed as our own, experiences that gave us something we started carrying around on our backs. Lies. 
These lies tell us we aren’t smart, we have nothing to offer, love is fragile, we aren’t good enough, and my core lie: (at least the one exposed right now) I’m not worth loving.
And these lies are there. They are hiding under the surface whether we recognize them or not. These are the lies that rob us of freedom to be all God created us to be. They keep us from loving, from risking, from being generous, from walking in deep community with others. From living.

I’m not sure where my lie came from exactly. Maybe we all just have some weak point that the enemy of our soul sees and takes advantage of. I’m not sure. But I believed my lie: I’m not worth loving just as I am; and then did what we all do with our lie, try to fix it. We try to rectify the situation on our own. I decided that if I wasn’t worth loving then I’d better do something to be worth loving. I tried to be perfect. To everyone. So that no one would be able to not love me.

That’s not actually possible and so, of course, I failed. Often. Failing only reinforced my lie, so I tried harder. I hid from situations where I could be exposed for the unworthy mess I feared I was. I didn’t take risks because then I could fail and I couldn’t handle the possibility of feeling the unworthy of love. 

But God has been teaching me that the very thing I was so afraid of, is the most beautiful truth in the world. I am not worthy of the Holy One’s perfect love. Because I’m not perfect. And yet, he found ME, and showed me that it was mine anyways. Yes, I am imperfect but that changes nothing to him. He picked me when I had done NOTHING to deserve it. And so, I don’t need to do a thing to earn it. It’s mine. That news will forever change me. 
So now, how do I live? Now I am faced with my old tapes in normal life situations and He, in all his mercy, is pointing the tapes out to me and I have to grab on to my new truth. “You failed and everyone will think ____ and then they won’t love you” Or “so and so seemed off tonight, you did something and now they won’t love you.” the old tapes say. But then I see it. And I speak truth over it and choose to walk in that truth. I am loved by the One who made the stars and the ocean. Yup, I failed. I made a mistake. Some people may not like me. My standing is NO DIFFERENT. Sometimes I don’t feel it. It often takes effort and all that I have in me to walk with that truth as my new truth. But then I notice it’s happening a little easier. And the tapes are fading more into the background and the new truth is slowly becoming MY truth. 
So amazing is our God. 
What is your lie? Have you asked God what he has to say about it?

The Bee

November6

The other day we were getting ready for a bike ride to the park when I see Spunky crying outside, 1 foot from the back door. Quiet, terror-filled, crocodile tears crying. I opened the door and asked what was wrong. She said a bee had her trapped. Apparently there was a bee between her and the door and she was terrified it would sting her.

I did really well keeping my voice comforting and not giggling at the situation. Until…
I asked her why she didn’t call for help. She said, “the bee would hear me and get scared and sting me!” It was just so cute. Giggles quietly spilled out but I pulled back enough to not ruin my position of safety and love. The whole time I kept thinking: this seems like a metaphor for something. And now I’ve got it. 
Often in life I find myself outside of the backdoor crying. There’s somewhere I want to be and am trying to go, but can’t seem to get there on my own. I feel unsafe, insecure and unable to move forward. I feel trapped by my circumstances and paralyzed by my fear.
And when I find myself in that place, someone has to come for me. Someone has to notice me in my place of paralyzed terror and call me out. Because in those times, yelling for help feels like it puts me at even more of a risk instead of feeling like the lifeline it is. 
That person who comes to my rescue could be anyone. Husband, friend, mentor. Someone who sees the struggle I’m in, and even if they see the way out clearly, still meets me in my fear to walk me out. In those moments God knows I’m so far gone into panic that He’ll reach me better through someone who loves me like he loves me and can speak to me with his words. He uses my community.

And as I hear them speaking and see them loving, I learn to recognize his voice even better on my own. I learn to hear how his love responds to me in my fear filled places and eventually I can get inside the door on my own, with confidence of my position. Confidence that I am bigger than the bee and even if it stings me, it can’t kill me. Hopefully my love for Spunky can teach her about the God who loves her enough to go and save her from all the bees she may encounter.

A few of my favorite things

November1

1. Legwarmers. I’m not a very good accessorizer. I always like the thought of scarves, necklaces, earrings and bracelets but they get in the way, babies pull on them and lots of times they just aren’t comfy. Enter legwarmers. I get to accessorize, add warmth (practical!) AND feel cute. It’s a win win for me.

Oh and yes my house is a perpetual place of mess and chaos. 
2. Yummy food that is both healthy AND delicious. I have a wide range of food issues so to find something that fits within all my standards and tastes yummy is amazing. Currently I have this chocolate chip cookie recipe that makes both my mouth happy while I eat it and my tummy happy afterwards. But I usually have to make a triple batch. Come on. 9 cookies? Maybe if I was a single lady that would be enough.

And now I have All the Single Ladies playing in my head.

3. Cuddling with a sleeping baby on my chest. Not only is it sweet, it slows life down and takes stress away. It also makes smelling them much easier! Which should be it’s own number. I think smelling a baby might be like a drug to me. And this may make me weird to you, but a baby’s breath after breastfeeding is the BEST! There’s another smell that surrounds babies that I love, but I’m not sure I’m ready to be judged for that one yet :)
4. Tea. Holding a warm cup of something yummy is relaxing and makes me breath a little deeper. I like coffee but I have to add too much junk to make it worth it to me so tea is where it’s at. Hm…seems like a lot of my favorite things involve being warm and relaxed. I must tend towards cold and stressed. 
5. Watching my kids play together. It’s so fun to see them working at something and making decisions as a team. Laughing and running, being silly, taking care of each other… its a beautiful thing when they love on one another.

6. Book series. Let me be more specific. Book series where all of the books are already available to read. I read the first 2 books in a series and then had to wait for the 3rd. In the meantime, I forgot what happened in the 2nd and now have to reread that one before I can read the new one! I don’t think this would bother some people, but in this busier season of my life, efficiency is my middle name and rereading a book to be able to read another book just isn’t efficient. I unfortunately got myself into that same situation with another series that i assumed was only 3 books long. tsk tsk tsk

7. The library’s custom collections service. Um, I just learned about this today but it will change my life forever. I logged on, filled out a form saying what books I wanted (I filled out one giving all of the specific titles and authors and one just giving a theme) and they will do it for me! What?!! For free. Happily and without 2 children they are responsible for running around yelling to each other while the 3rd tries to sleep on their chest. Hallelujah!! (you must sing that like the Hallelujah chorus)

Ok, that’s all for now. Tell me a few of your favorite things.

making Halloween work for us

November1

I totally meant to post this much earlier in the week but it didn’t happen.

Last year, on Halloween, my kids did their thing, got dressed up and went trick or treating. They got their usual loot of sugary things and within the week, both were sick. Now, I don’t remember what kind of sick, but Layla says she remembers both of them laying around, like stomach bug sick. Either way, sugar lowers the immune system fighting power, and I hate to be Sargent Not-Too-Much while the candy dwindles away. 
I needed a new way. 
Thankfully I had read a blog a few years ago about a mom who made a basket full of healthy treats for her kids. They still went trick or treating and then at the end of  the night they traded the bad sweets for the good. This would solve all of my problems. Now to see if I could get the kids on board.
I asked Spunky what she thought about my plan and she was super on board. I was shocked that I won her over that easily. I knew that Monkey would be the tricky one since keeping him focused long enough to have a lasting conversation is nearly impossible. And even if he does stay focused, there’s the sinking in factor to worry about, but I figured that if I could get Spunky on board, her enthusiasm would spill over enough to cover Monkey. She was also really excited about selling her candy to a dentist in here in town. He then sends it to troops overseas, so she made a card for them to go with her candy. 
We did this treat trade with a few friends so I only needed to make 2 different kinds of treats. This morning we had a play date with the other friends, traded treats and then the kids did what they wanted with the basket. My treats were sweetened with honey or dates. The other mamas used honey or fruit to sweeten their treats. I didn’t care if they carried their basket around all day munching. I tried to get some other food in there, mainly for protein purposes, but it seemed so different. So much more relaxing to me. No sugar high. No sugar crash. No concern for the rest of our week/s with sickness. And everyone is HAPPY!! 
I love it when the planets align like that. 

It’s not personal (usually)

October30

Today, I have not remembered that truth well. Monkey has pushed all of his usually boundaries with flare and vigor and internally I’m sure he’s just out to make my day terrible.

My kids, and I’m sure yours do to, have these few things that seem nearly impossible for them to remember from one day to the next. No, not even that long of a time span. One meal to the next. One room to the next.  Monkey is especially rough for me on this. He really has good intentions. I can see it when he does something, then 5 seconds later retracts his hand and says “Oops!” He is not being disobedient. He’s being impulsive. 
He loves to play with Big Baby. I love that about him. Unfortunately our definitions of appropriate play with Big Baby don’t line up. He’s sure that Big Baby likes to be shaken. Back and forth, up and down, just his face, ALWAYS his hands, sometimes his torso. He thinks one of their mouths need to have something in them. Big Baby’s hand, nose, ear in his mouth. His arm, fingers, hand, nose in Big Baby’s mouth. WHAT THE HECK! And his other favorite thing to do, this offense much less serious in my mind, is give Big Baby toys that he can’t handle. Blunt sharp toys that as Big Baby tries to navigate to his mouth he inadvertantly stabs himself in the forehead/back of the throat/eye.
See the blur? That’s because he was bouncing the baby. AS I was writing this.
Today, these are the things that broke me. The conversation always goes, “Monkey, you can’t shake Big Baby. It’s not safe.” (Or whatever the offense) “But he likes it!” And then of course I go on to explain how it isn’t safe, blah blah blah. I think that’s what Monkey hears too, blah blah blah. Because he leaves the room, comes back 2 minutes later and shakes him again. AHHHHHH!!!!!! 
I’ve tried all my go to moves. Banning him from Big Baby since he isn’t being safe, explaining how it could hurt Big Baby, explaining how if he doesn’t pay attention to how Big Baby is feeling their relationship will suffer, giving him other ideas of how to play. All to no avail. He obeys and listens in the moment. But when he comes back, it happens again. I think this is going to be another wait it out kind of situation. Maybe in 4 months his maturity will have shot up and I’ll be able to have a lasting conversation. Hey, a mama can dream.
One thing I know is that Monkey is growing my patience in leaps and bounds. Well, God is growing it, that boy is simply his tool. And I’m learning that it is NOT personal. He is trying to love. He is trying to engage with his baby brother. And those things I want. We just need to work on the method.
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