But That’s Okay, Mama.

I am the girl with mascara gunk in the corner of her eye. I don’t want to be that girl, but I am. To be fair, I do have a tiny little dark freckle on the inside corner which I myself mistake for unruly makeup no less than four times a day. Then, again, annoyed/enraged/resigned that it is, in fact, permanent.



Truthfully, I want to be so much more put together than I am at this moment. After producing a much thematically resplendent class snack for the letter C at Josiah’s preschool, he let me know (after it all went down), “ack-ch-ually, the letter of the week was B…but that’s okay, Mama.” Grace and Love from a four year old. I want to wrap up in it like a blanket and sleep in that goodness. In my days of trying and striving and cloying, I hold onto that. The gracious place rolled out by a four year old.



As my six year old let me know today, “Mama, you’re the one stressing us all out right now.” Yes, I see that reality. Also, please, fortheloveofallthatisgoodandmyholysanity, Get. In. The. CAR. Everyone!



You might understand trying really hard but still, somehow, totally missing it. Or you might understand not having the capacity to always be “on” as your best self in a group of people who don’t know you very well yet. Or, possibly, you have a little godforsakengunk in the corner of your eye that betrays your TOGERTHERNESS to the world!



I’m looping a season of stressed and crazed and disoriented. But I hold onto the truth that God is holding me in it anyway.

For those of you who rocked out letter C when it was letter B, in the simple and profound and grace-inviting words of a four year old, …”but that’s okay“. Wrap up in that blanket of grace the four year olds and God provide us. Roll in it. Rest in it. Come up stronger, if not just again, for a new day. It’s okay.


(all “good” pics photo cred goes to Mike Leboffe)

Sayonara September!

I prayed all through August, scared of September. But September came anyway, that merciless louse, without regard to the fact that I wasn’t ready to trade in the freedom of summertime for mornings of rush and hurry and scheduled-in schedules.

20140727_182342And now we’re in it! Homework packs and piano lessons and Saturday mornings at the fields with shinguards and coolers full of watermelon and gatorade. Sayonara September! You will not be missed. You came in with your platform of promises. School supplies! Pumpkin everything! Crisp, happy encouragements! Instead, you stole my lunch money leaving me spiritually hungry and physically hot and frantic. Frantic for water. A cool glass of water. Still, calm waters. None of this harried and hurried and always rushing from one to the next to another. Late. As ever. As always.


It’s our first fall of multiple children in multiple places. Older mamas, you didn’t warn me. Why didn’t you tell me September is a bully? It’s okay. I wouldn’t have believed you. You can’t fully understand the know until you’ve lived the know. But now? I know. At this stage we’re in, September can empty you of your breath and gas tank and sanity.

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Our tectonic plates of life are shifting over here. We’ve jumped head first into a parent participation preschool with Josiah. He’s also proven to be a little rockstar at his music class and I’m trying to not get too excited about how innately good he is at drums.



Selah is the bravest kid I know. We started a new school this week, switching her over to a charter school with oodles of creativity in and outside the classroom. It’s asking a lot for a six year old to change her world one month into the school year, but I’m so proud of how Selah (my highly structured, no change is the best change child) is navigating the newness of it all. Serendipitously, Selah just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was given a cd of her new school’s musical for the year: Willie Wonka! Praising God for these little coincidences. They are gifts. Little love notes reminding us it will be okay.





Teagan Elyse turned TWO this week! The only bright spot of September, that last day that is hers. And ours for splatter painting sidewalks and decorating cupcakes and doing dances of gratitude for surviving the infant years of all our children. IMG_7874 IMG_7835 IMG_7756


Cheers to a new month and finding a sustainable pace. Get out of here September, you’ve been a brute. Be a friend, October. Be a friend.

Guest Post & Going The Full Monty!

You guys! I can share one of my secrets with you today! I have a guest post up over at Leeana Tankersley’s blog. She’s an author and a key dropper, encouraging us all to unlock ourselves from our own prisons. Plus, she can rock the boho-chic or the long and lean tank with equal etherealness.

When she asked me to guest-post I kind of freaked out a little bit because she’s like, um, an actual writer. I felt 16 all over again; awkward and shy and hopeful that the hunky guy was looking my way. So I wrote something that was awful and not at all what I was actually wanting to say. And then I wrote something that was honest and in a million chunky thoughts that never melded together and I ostriched under the afghan as my husband read it. Then, after he coaxed me out of hiding I did the excruciating writer’s process of writing what I actually did want to say and make it make sense to people who don’t traverse these scary synapsed highways of my brain.

I felt awesome about it for a few days and then last night I almost flagged Leeana down and told her to call the whole thing off because going “the fully monty” with emotions is scary business. Thank you for the huge support already today for making being honest not feel so naked.

If you haven’t read it yet, check it out at http://www.leeanatankersley.com/2014/08/squeeze-space-jenny/ . 


Proof of parenting growth. Found MARKER on our legit 1960’s couch and only gave a hug, stern talking, and threat of no markers ever again until highschool. Ug!

What We’re Made Of

Family values are built in the everydayness of life. In the loading and unloading of the family wagon, the shared laughter and the public meltdowns, the refilling of water bottles, and the  walks around the neighborhood. It is built in the little in-betweens that seem un-extraordinary but build into a large chunk of life.


Step 1: Tape out an arrow shape on the hallway wall. Step 2: Paint and peel.


Step 3: Salvage blue tape by re-using pieces to create other arrows. Repeat process, measuring even distance between each. Delegating labor to the oldest child is always helpful too.

We want our children to know what our family is all about through our daily actions and interactions. But sometimes it’s easy for me to lose sight of what those core values are when the daily tasks of having a house that needs attention and a husband who needs attention and small children who need attention feel urgent and overwhelming. Sometimes I need reminding of Who and what I am tethered to. So I painted it. In arrows. Big. On our wall. 




These are what are family is about. It is played out in different ways through our different gifts and personalities, but shared among all of us. These are road signs we are pointing our kids toward. They are our compass and what we come back to when evaluating our time and energy and what we want to teach our kids as we show them how to live in a wholehearted way with an understanding of grace. It’s our family pulse. Sometimes I just need to be reminded.


Step 4: Use gold pen to freehand wording. It was a little worrisome to think about how letters could tank this whole wall, but they really were the whole point so I started writing and didn’t look back until I realized I should probably hold a ruler in my non-writing hand to make sure my lettering remained roughly the same size.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

And sometimes I need to write these very literally in gold calligraphy pen on my walls.


Teagan woke up from a nap just in time to add her finishing touch of Sharpie. *heavy sigh*

Let’s Tessellate!

I faced a big scary last week! I got all four of my wisdom teeth out. Ten years too late and not a moment too soon. Which is a big deal because it means we spent time and money on just me and even had time and money to spend on me. It’s also a big deal because my mouth can’t be trusted to not embarrass myself on a regular day so all bets were off with it under narcotics and the cutest doctor in town. The good news is if I was ridiculous, the office staff were all professional enough to let what happens in room eight stay in room eight. According to Nate my only codeine-inspired moment was the over-waving, over-cheering, Hercules clapping I did for Jamba Juice as we stopped on the way home. Although let’s face it, that’s nothing Jamba hasn’t seen from me before.

I process best through creativity plus I’m also a little impulsive. So although I was heading in for minor surgery last Monday, I needed to paint an accent wall in my daughters’ shared bedroom two days before. I love the idea of small equilateral triangles, but I know I’m not patient enough for the mathematical meticulousness that requires. I AM however just type-a enough that the mistakes would scrape my eyeballs.

So we went with triangles. All sizes, all kinds.

Step 1: Paint the entire wall white. I actually used ceiling primer because that’s the white paint we had in the garage and we’re all for starting projects without actually going to the hardware store around here. White now gets to be the negative space between triangles.

Step 2: Tape Triangles. If you remember fourth grade math, triangles tesselate so it’s not hard to fill an area with them. I started in the center with a few shapes and sizes that I liked then worked in sort of a spiral motion around, trying to balance the “weight” of large and small triangles.


Step 3: Paint! Eventually the girls’ room will be predominately teal and purple so I threw a few varieties of purple plus a teal, along with the six year old crowd pleaser of melon-y pink, hot pink, and shimmery light pink in a mix of interior paint samples I already had and small acrylic bottles from the craft store. Plus a metallic gold because I like it. If you have four or more colors there’s no need to get scientific about which goes where, you’ll easily be able to splash them up without fear you’ll be left with two of the same color next to each other. My husband informed me that left brained people call this “map theorem”. I called this “using lots of colors”. However, map theorem never had an 8yr old, 6yr old, 4yr old, and 22 month old “helping”.

Step 4: Peel Away! (And touchup, but this is truly optional)

Before (I ALWAYS forget to take a true “before” picture until I’m elbows deep into a project.)IMG_7434



Facing a new scary this week, but it’s still a secret so I can’t quite share with you yet. But if I’m lucky it might just catalyst some crafty-ness!




Allowing Little Sister to Find Her Own Limits

We have this child. She’s not quite two and she always looks slightly disheveled like she just ran with the wolves and tickle-wrestled a mob of meerkat cubs. If you throw dust or a feather towards her, it will adhere to her sticky self. One might assume that by the third child you would have this parenting gig down. Not true for our joyful and fearless toddler who sees herself as a peer to the olders. As we guide her through the frustrations and infuriation she experiences when her one year old physical ability does not match the goals in her mind and heart, I am left glaringly aware of the words I am speaking over her. Limiting words. Boxing in words. Yes, there will be an amount of motherly caution. Although, as I hear myself I am reminded that my words must also be a blend of encouragement and affirmation of the attributes that she has been given and is exploring. “Don’t you know you’re too little to…” seems to be sliding off my tongue too often lately. It takes more courage for me to step back and watch her figure out what she is and is not capable of instead of immediately moving her to away, stop, can’t, safety.


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This is their new game. She stands on the chair and he chucks a pillow at her head. Familiar sounding big brother/ little sister game that they love.

The Art of Out and About



We all know marriage takes maintenance. If you’ve been in any sort of relationship dynamic with another person ever you know this. By the time age-appropriate discussions are had at dinner and little hands are held at bedtime, there’s barely the space/time/energy/desire to drink a beer and watch an episode of Friends together. There’s certainly little to no margin left to communicate needs, hurts, dreams, and thank-you’s. Here’s where we have a bit of a leg up; we live in a beautiful city. We have a circle of people cheering us on, who let us go on daytime dates so we can weed the marriage garden. There’s no way to have these conversations other than gently when sitting on sandstone cliffs a couple hundred feet above green-gray surf, sighting dolphins, and feeling the bigness of God’s love for us. What feels like histrionics at home after midnight gets placed in perspective in the salt-air riding in from a horizon that has merged seamlessly between sea and sky. Next week is our ninth anniversary. I’m thankful for a friend and husband who is committed to re-falling in love each season and for Voskamp’s quote that grace is the biggest brave.

And now a barrage of pictures celebrating the art of being out and about as well as a few of fun times at home! We do best as a family when we go places during the day, because I do best when we get out of the house. Again, we’re pretty spoiled with our out and about options and I know it.


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