Messy Mom Construction Site

 

In case you haven’t heard through my social media accounts I am in the middle of adding finishing touches to my memoir and recording my audio book! Writing my memoir/first book has been harder than I ever thought, but I know it’s all going to be worth it.

One thing J and I knew that we wanted to do as I took this next step is to update my website. It’s been long overdue. The last time I did any technical housekeeping here was SEVEN years ago. That’s why my hair it so short in my profile picture.

I am beyond excited for all of these changes and roll outs. I wanted to an official blog post about it in case

A. You don’t “see” me on here for a while or

B. My site temporarily goes down in the midst of all the tech stuff. I am hoping that won’t be the case, but you never know.

A lot of people have asked when the book release date is and I still don’t have one. It’s probably a good thing too since I would inevitably be running late. If you are just joining in and have no idea what book I’m talking about I’ll fill you in (I have noticed some new followers so WELCOME!).

My book is called Hope at the Threshold and it’s a memoir about the season of life where we were unemployed, pregnant, on welfare, living with family, and discovered our daughter was deaf all very unexpectedly. It might sounded like some sad, heavy material, and in all fairness some of it is, but as the title indicates there is hope in the midst of it. The story is about the goodness and faithfulness of God. I can’t wait to share it with all of you. In fact I am assembling a small book launch team so if you are interested in a prerelease copy in exchange for getting the word out on social media then please let me know. You can email me at the messy mom at gmail (no spaces or anything, I’m just trying to avoid bots spamming me).

Oh, and one more thing I am on the lookout for as I relaunch Messy Mom is bringing back my Inspiring Mom series. I used to do monthly interviews/articles about moms that have some really cool stories. That could be a mom that has been teaching for 20+ years, or maybe it’s an adoption story, a small business startup, or a health and wellness inspiring story. I’m convinced everyone has a story to share. So if you are up for it, or have a mom you want to nominate then please let me know! It was such a powerful series and I always had an amazing response to it, but the embarrassing truth is I fell off the wagon March of 2020 when the pandemic happened and I just never got back to it. Three years later I am ready! Better late than never right?

So those are all the updates for now, but make sure you are following me on Instagram (@messymom) and Facebook (@themessymom) where I post regularly. Have a blessed week and I’ll check back in soon!

By | January 16th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2023 DREAMS

My word for 2022 was “Gratitude”. It’s amazing to see how that word was orchestrated throughout 2022 for me. As I shared in a Facebook post yesterday my heart is overflowing with gratitude when I look back at it all.  As I was contemplating and seeking the Lord about this year’s one word I settled on DREAMS. Just to clarify, I’m talking about visions, goals, and passions, not the dreams you have in your sleep.

I have some dreams that God gave me a long time ago and I believe that some will be coming to fruition in 2023. I also want to encourage others to dream again and to trust that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above anything we could ask or dream up.

It’s not in the prosperity sense, like I want a yacht, let me believe and receive. It’s more about hopes and dreams that are from God and His plans for your life.

I want this to be a focus for my kids too. I want to be an example of chasing after the dreams God has placed in our hearts.

I also like the idea of intentionally aligning our plans with the dreams and goals of our family.


J actually encouraged me in this area last summer. I was working towards becoming a substitute teacher, but half of the schools that I would be teaching at were conflicting with our schedule. I was wrestling with the idea of putting the kids on a school bus. To be clear this isn’t about the bus. If your kids ride a bus that’s great. I know plenty of families that use the bus system or grew up riding the bus. For our family we’ve avoided it at the past 9 years (other than some situations where it was Kindergarteners only). So as I kids were being enrolled for school I was really in turmoil about the whole thing. I even had them signed up to ride the bus, but I wasn’t at peace about it! Around that time J and I were on a walk when I explained the dilemma and how I wanted to make the right decision. He said “Well, when you think of your goals as a mom for your family does putting our kids on the bus align with those goals?” I said no (but my mind still didn’t see an alternative) and then he said “Well don’t put them on the bus then.” So we didn’t and guess what? I have learned that the schools I most like subbing at are the ones that work with our schedule. There are enough jobs to cover with just those schools and sometimes it works for J to help with the carpool lines when needed. I know we made the right choice.

The question was simple “Does this align with our family goals?” Throughout 2023 as we divide up our schedule, our finances, and whatever other decisions come up I want to have our family dreams (which could also be hopes and plans) in the forefront.


By | January 1st, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2022 Recap

2022 was a really incredible year for me. I feel like we had some challenging times for so long that it was a relief to have breakthroughs in multiple areas this year. That’s not to say that everything was perfect and there weren’t any challenges. Right out of the shoot in January we had some major obstacles we faced with SJ, her health, and her hearing. It was scary, but praise God everything turned out okay and she’s doing great now.

Actually, 2022 was a REALLY exciting year for SJ such as baptism and moving from an IEP to 504 which I wrote about in “10 Years Later“. She also has used her gifts to worship through sing both online and on the stage!

One of my favorite parts of 2022 was getting to travel to St. Thomas with my mom and my two sisters (“in laws”). It was the trip of a lifetime. I wish I could go back!


The fun and journeys didn’t stop their though. We went to Iowa in June and stopped in Chicago on the way home where we met up with my bestie who caught a train from Michigan.

Mels and I went to four different coffee shops all in a row for my fortieth birthday.

I also got a new chicken named Lizzie who lays blue eggs. A bit of an unconventional gift for sure, but it’s what I wanted!

J’s birthday did not disappoint either. We met up with Mels again, this time in Detroit to see Fleet Foxes and the Tigers. It was a blast.

We had a few fun date nights over the summer too, like going to Prima Vista in Cincinnati where I photographed a proposal and not long after that we got to experience a candlelight concert.

I have been at home with little kids for so long that the idea of getting to do so many exertions on my own is still hard for me to even believe! I am grateful though.

This years back to school was EXTREMELY different from all of the other years. First off we had a high schooler, also it’s the first time all four kids were in school full day and lastly I became certified as a substitute teacher.

At first I loved subbing but I was worried when the honeymoon stage wore off I would feel differently. However, here we are half way through the year and I still love it. It’s so rewarding and my favorite part is getting to see my kids. There are good days and bad, but most of the time it’s the perfect job for me.

Also in August I conquered my fears of rappelling and caving. What a trip!

Then came fall and that’s birthday season in our home.

Z turned 15 and got to go to his first homecoming dance not too long after that.

Ezie turned 10 and we celebrated with a last minute party in the park which turned out better than some of the parties I spent months planning!

Elle had her 7th birthday and I mentioned that in my last blog post.

Then to wrap it all up we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas (which I also already blogged about).

I am so thankful for the good times this year and for the provision of the Lord even when inflation looked scary and also seeing our kids mature in their walk with God and personal relationships. On top of all that we also accomplished quite a few home improvement projects on the home and I’ll have to share all of those details at another time. This has been a fun reflection time though. Happy New Year everybody!

By | December 31st, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

HAPPY HOLIDAYS INDEED

Christmas 2022 is coming to a close, but I can’t let this year end without looking back on all the special memories. This year has involved a lot of home renovations, so we haven’t had any company in a long time. Thankfully we were able to get our kitchen and main bathroom to a place were they were functional. I begged and pleaded with J to allow us to have a party at our house for Elle’s birthday and at first he was unsure because the house was still in disarray but when he realized how much a party would be if we rented or held it elsewhere he conceded.

Elle’s party was so awesome because it snowed in early November, A LOT! That would have been perfect for Frozen party last year, but oh well, it was still fun for the donut party.



After Elle’s party we were able to host Thanksgiving and that was a lot of fun too.

 

Then bring on Christmas! We decorated our own tree.

We decorated the church.

We went on the North Pole Express (a real train ride) with Mémé and the cousins

And we rode an antique fire truck and saw Santa again as a part of the kids’ school party.

Speaking of school parties, one of the highlights of my December was substitute teaching on the last school day  of the year.

It was fun to see all of the kids excitement about Christmas and I even got to participate in Elle’s class party!

My parents held a Nativity Escape room and gingerbread party so that was super cool!

The Christmas party at the church did not dissappoint either. We had so much fun.

One of my favorite traditions is driving around looking at Christmas lights and drinking hot cocoa. There were some cranky kids and struggles behind the happy photos, but I love Christmas lights no matter what so there’s that.

We also got to see a ton of lights when we were gifted some passes to Kings Island Winter Fest.

That was a first time experience for our family and it was very very cold, but really special.

Then came the official Christmas weekend. We got buckets of snow and I was loving the white Christmas, but the roads were a little bit scary. Thankfully we were able to go to the ugly Christmas sweater party with some of our good friends.

Also, with a lot of caution and patience (and one actual push when we got stuck) we were able to make it to Kentucky and back safely for Christmas eve at my brother’s house.

 



I am thankful that we didn’t have to miss the ultimate deluxe Christmas brunch. We ate until we were as jolly as St. Nick. Z got a fun gift that was a bunch of little gifts all wrapped up in a full roll of saran wrap. It took over 15 minutes to unravel, but it was worth it!

That night when we got home Z, J, and I all went over to the neighbors house across the street to collect a used trampoline that we had purchased from them. It was cumbersome to move on a good day nevermind the ice and snow! J had the idea to get the kids sleds and sort of slide it across the road. It worked a little bit, but eveanually we just carried it. I was sore for days. It was worth it though.

Christmas morning we woke up at sunrise.


Believe it or not I had to be the one to wake up the kids! When I was young I never ever slept in on Christmas day, but to each their own. We sang Christmas carols from actual hymn books and read the Christmas story. After opening presents Ezie looked out the front window and noticed suspicious tracks in our yard. It looked like a sleigh had gone across the road and into our yard. I grabbed my phone and started recording the kids assessment of the mysterious tracks. Then we led them to seek out where the tracks went to which is where they discovered the trampoline.

It was one of the sweetest moments I have ever experienced! I will never forget their joy and excitement.

It wasn’t long after our little immediate family Christmas that we had family coming over for a visit.

We ate so much food, opened more presents and played games. My kids always mock me for my cliche statement “My heart is so full” but seriously my heart really was so full.

More than any of the fun, food, or lights I am thankful for the gift of Christ Jesus who came to earth to save us all. I am grateful to be able to celebrate that and experience unspeakable joy.

By | December 28th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2022 Christmas Card Reveal

It’s that time of year! Time for the Busches annual Christmas card. This is our 22nd Christmas card and it’s pretty pun-ny, if I do say so myself. Ironically I had picked out holiday ensembles for the whole family (I didn’t go shopping for clothes, this is just a conglomeration of stuff we owned) but in the end most of our outfits weren’t even visible in the card! For the record we actually had cute boots and red shoes.

Anyway, drumroll please. Here it is…

Merry Christmas from the Bushes with a “C”. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s supposed to be. I can’t even take credit for this genius idea. Years ago (I’m talkin’, probably 8 years ago) when I was handing out Christmas cards one of SJ’s teachers said “You know what you should do? Merry Christmas from the bushes and be popping out of some actual bushes”. This year I needed that kind of silliness in my life and so we went for it. Only since our name is actually spelled B-U-S-C-H and not b-u-s-h I bought a wooden C to be in the photo with us. When people ask if we are Bush like the president we always have to clarify. No, it’s actually Busch with a C. Or we say Busch like the beer, but I didn’t think that would be a good theme for the card.

 

Stamp prices are outrageous, but I still like to mail some of our cards to friends and family far away. One of my favorite traditions is when we do the Christmas card assembly line.

However, I also love to hand them out and hear peoples’ reactions. It brings me so much joy to see the smiles and hear the laughter. In the words of Buddy the Elf (which we just watched for the third time this month) “Smiling is my favorite” and also “I don’t care who knows it!”

And one final word to all of the people that don’t send Christmas cards, or just didn’t do cards this year. That is okay! One of the most common responses I got with women my age when they received my card was this look of shame and a confession of guilt about not doing Christmas cards. It’s something I am just as guilty of doing, except not about Christmas cards. I act like this when I  just recently did the same thing when my friend got me a present and I didn’t get her one. Oh the horror. It’s cool though, because as soon as I started trying to explain myself I realized I needed to take the same advice I give to others. When I give a card to someone and they start to apologize about not having a card I always smile and say “You don’t have to give a card to receive one.” I also unnecessarily self-deprecate by explaining how it’s our one and only tradition and I am not really consistent at anything else in my life. I should probably stop doing that. Whether you sent cards or not here is our Merry Christmas to you! I really hope that it’s the best one ever. 



 

 

By | December 21st, 2022|Crafts, Family, Laughter, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Messy Mom Christmas Time Finds

I’m a decorate-after-Thanksgiving kind of girl. Which means Christmas time is just two days away and I am SO EXCITED!!!

This week I have a THREE products to promote that will fit right in around the tree this holiday season. One will be perfect to wear when you are hanging out around the tree, one you want to wrap up and put under the tree, and one is actually for the tree!

Let’s start with something I am wearing right now, my fuzzy red Aromasoles.

Aromasoles are a line of super cozy, scent-infused slipper socks that have been flying off shelves for years. All are made with natural therapeutic oils with scents like lavender, rose, cinnamon, and neroli, and they come in an amazing variety of colors!

The aromasoles are my new favorite socks. They are cute, warm, comfy, and smell divine. I recommend picking up a set for yourself and your mom, grandma, teacher, sisters (anyone with feet). They are the perfect companion to watching Christmas Hallmark movies or doing your online Christmas shopping. Speaking of shopping, this three piece gift set is only $20.00. So cute!

Another recent discovery for me is the BlendJet 2.

You may have heard of this amazing portable blender. If not, let me fill you in because I’m loving my new BlendJet. Unlike other blenders, which are uniformly monochromatic in color, BlendJet 2, the original portable blender, is sold in a wide variety of colors – everything from ocean to geode to leopard print.

It’s powerful too – and BlendJet even offers a range of must-have accessories, including 20oz and 32oz jars, insulated sleeves, and carrying totes.

I love so many things about the BlendJet 2. It’s so perfect not just for smoothies but other items that I would use a food processor for. I’m really not a fan of battery operated cordless items, because the cost of replacing batteries adds up quickly, but the BlendJet 2 is rechargeable. 

 



The cord is a USB too so you can plug it just about anywhere.

I’m thrilled with my new BlendJet and I know it would make a great gift for a college student, health enthusiasts, or any family that is on the go a lot.

The last item I want to rave about is The LightKeeper Pro and LED Keeper .

This time I’m not talking about something for under your tree, but for if something goes wrong with your tree! With just the press of trigger, these tools can fix broken holiday lights – so you can make sure your decorations are always colorful. If you already decorated and noticed some faulty bulbs grab the Light Keeper Pro today, or if you are like me and are about to throw your tree up you can have it on hand and use it year after year. This gadget has been featured on NPR, USA Today, Real Simple, even Steve Harvey! Every home needs a Light Keeper Pro.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, a successful Black Friday, and a delightful Holiday season all the way around!

 

By | November 22nd, 2022|Crafts, Family, Home, Projects, Uncategorized|0 Comments

My Grocery Bill 2021 VS Now

You guys, this inflation is killing me! I am a super frugal shopper. I always price compare by the unit down to the penny. It’s almost concerning how hard I work to save money on food. It’s hard to do budget friendly meals for a family of six that includes boys and teenagers. Oh my goodness!

I used to brag about getting all of my groceries for just a hundred dollars a week. Ha! Granted that was a completely different era and our family was basically just J and I (breastfed baby and picky little eater). Let’s zoom in  on the past year though. I have documentation of what I spent before this “super spike”. Like I said, I am a crazy person. Since 2019 I have used a budgeting app where all of our expenses are categorized and in November of 2020 our grocery budget was $750. Our grocery budget increased to $50 a month more over the next year. So in 2021 our monthly grocery budget was $800. Now in November of 2022 our grocery budget is $1,000 and many months we still go over budget no matter how hard I try. These are real life numbers, a nearly $300 a month increase in groceries!

Back in May when I was freaking out about the price of cheese I thought to look back at my Walmart online purchase history to price compare. I was shocked to find the difference.

I had been paying $5.34 for a 31 oz bag of shredded mild cheddar cheese and now the price was $7.48.

 

I knew inflation was real and I had noticed, but to see solid numbers from my own purchase history really blew my mind. For a bean counter like me that’s a whole lotta beans!!!

Here is a list of the ten items I made note of

5 lb chicken breast in 2021 was $10.76  NOW $16.56

Large has avocados 3-4 count bag  was $3.78 NOW $7.98 

Great Value traditional pasta sauce 24 oz was .88 NOW $1.40


peanut butter 40 ounces was $2.74 NOW $3.47

Great value thick bacon 24 ounce was $5.18 NOW $6.84 

Great value whole milk gallon was $2.59 NOW $3.38


 

Land o Frost Deli Meat was $3.36 NOW  $4.92

18 large eggs was $2.33 NOW  $4.03

11 oz pack of fun size candy bars was $2.98 NOW $4.18

12 pack of soda (for a party) was $4.88 NOW $6.78

 

I meant to do a blog post about my findings and never did. So, those prices that say “NOW” are what they were when I typed it out in May of 2022. Out of curiosity I figured I would see if there were any more increases in the past 6 months and there were.

Past sauce is 8 cents more.

Peanut butter when up 17 cents.

Turkey went up another 75 cents.

Eggs went up 13 cents.

Heavy whipping cream increased by another 90 cents.

So while this particular list of groceries went up by $2.03, milk dropped 54 cents so it’s a little closer to the price it was in 2021 (but still 25 cents more). I know this isn’t official research, but my momservation (observation  as a mom) would report that things appear to have leveled off in the past 6 months instead of the steep price increase we saw a year ago.

We all know that the Pandemic and supply chain issues are at least a big part of why this has happened. I really wish that if we were going to be spending hundreds of more a month it would be on travel, or towards braces or a better computer, but alas that is not the case. I may rant and kick and scream, but that it isn’t changing anything.

I know the Bible says a million different verses about trusting in the Lord, and gratitude and contentment. It isn’t literally a million, but it’s a lot. It’s enough for me to know the truth. I am blessed. Even in this challenging season of inflation we’ve had more than we needed. This month we were able to give to “One Day to Feed the World”, for people who genuinely do have to worry about if their kids will eat or starve to death!

We were also able to give sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving baskets for those in need in our community. Even tonight I am so blessed to be able to bring some lasagna to a friend whose young daughter had surgery. I am not saying these things to brag. I’m actually just realizing it in the moment that I am typing it (this is super spontaneous!). So I know that I don’t have to worry. My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus as Philippians 4:19 says. And not just my needs, but exceedingly abundantly more than I need so that there is enough to share even when it feels like there is not! I can do grocery math all day long comparing the prices of before to the price of things now, but that’s not God’s math. His math is the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish equals 5000 people fed! My grocery store math is “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” That’s the verse from Elijah and the widow in 1 Kings 17:12, I’m not quite that desperate, but it’s my attitude. God’s math is ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land… So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.” Whoa! That gets me fired up!

I know times are tough. I have plenty of proof via my screen shots, but with Thanksgiving a week away I’ll end with a fitting verse. Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplications with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen!

By | November 15th, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Christians Who Participate in Halloween


Touchy subject alert!

The other day I was driving my kids home from a Halloween activity at their school and I glanced in my rearview mirror to see a chef, a giant “tube man”, and a box of donuts.

I love being a mom! is the exact thought that popped in my head as a smile stretched across my face. My kids have always enjoyed dressing up and make-believe. There aren’t many opportunities to wear costumes out in public, but every year on October 31st the kids have a chance to choose a fun or silly character to transform into. When I am grocery shopping I often catch a glimpse of one the kids names in faded sharpie somewhere on my reusable shopping bags from when someone claimed that bag to collect candy in.

And yet the other day when one of Ezie’s teachers asked if there was anyone who doesn’t celebrate Halloween Ezie raised his hand. For the record I think the teacher was about to play a halloween themed game and didn’t want to step on any toes… maybe. Also, for the record Ezie was the only kid in class who doesn’t celebrate Halloween. So how can we not celebrate Halloween, but choose to participate in Halloween activities!? Aren’t we sending conflicting messages to our children? Isn’t that a little wishy washy? It’s like we want to have our cake, or candy in this case, and eat it too.

Before I dive into my justification, or explanation, or whatever you want to call it, let me start by saying this is our personal choice as a family. I’m not a theologian and I am definitely not trying to sway anyone any direction. I have friends in the faith who have kids and do absolutely no Halloween activities at all due to their convictions. I admire that. I also have Christian friends that claim Halloween as their favorite Holiday and go all out with the gore and fear. I’m not going to lie, that confuses me, but I still love them. Our family’s stance confuses some people too. So I understand. I’m an enneagram nine. I don’t get shaken up by ghost or goblins, but I am terrified of offending anyone.

Anyway, here is how it works in our family and we’ve been parents for 15 years now. We have taught our kids the foundations of the Bible from day one. When it comes to the darkness that takes over on Halloween it is something that I personally don’t enjoy. I look forward to when October is over. J and I got married on November 4th because I love fall but hate Halloween and didn’t want to be married in October. November 4th was the first Saturday that was available. Now it’s our anniversary. True story.

The first Halloween that rolled around when we were new parents wasn’t much of a decision because he was too little to go trick or treating. However we were invited to a costume party by some of our church friends and dressed him up right off the bat.

The next year we hosted a costume party for our young adults ministry group and dressed up again.

The following year he was old enough to walk around our neighborhood and all of our neighbors just loved seeing him as an adorable little dinosaur.

Then we had two kids and the costumes continued.

We always made sure they knew our goal is to glorify God in all we do be it costumes, music, movies etc. We are a light in the darkness.

As more and more Halloweens passed and our family grew we had more opportunities to talk about what the Bible teaches us about witchcraft, evil spirits, darkness, and fear. We believe that Jesus overcame hell and the grave. He came that we could have LIFE and have it abundantly. So when we pass by our neighbor’s house that goes all out every October with really over the top creepy things, including a skeleton holding a skeleton baby in a bloody blanket, I pray as I drive by.

The kids know that they want to be something joyful when they dress up. They believe and can articulate why death, fear, pain, and darkness is in direct opposition to the life,  hope, healing, and light that we stand for as believers. We are not perfect parents or people. We are hypocrites in too many ways. However, I am grateful to know that when it comes to this “spooky” season, which was always something I dreaded, we have been able to use it as an opportunity to teach truth to our kids. We love getting together with our friends, we love costumes, and we love fall so much. We are like the Jewish family who celebrates Hanukkah but they allow their kids to see Santa or go to Christmas parties.

So if you’ve ever wondered why some Christians don’t celebrate Halloween, or if you’ve ever wondered how a Christian could, now you have a little inside scoop, for one family at least.

1 Corinthians 15:58
“Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

By | October 30th, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Rappelling and Caving and Terrified of Heights


So I did a thing last Saturday. I still have some scrapes and bruises to prove it.

Before I share the story though, let me give a little background info.

When I was growing up I was a scaredy-cat. I was especially scared of heights. I’m not talking about standing on the edge of a cliff, that would make anyone scared. I’m talking, when we went to the mall I did not want to get on the escalator and then when we got to the second floor I would walk as far away from the balcony railing as possible.  My brothers on the other hand were the opposite of me. They were into all the outdoorsy adventurous activities you can think of- hiking, skiing, and their favorite was rock climbing. On occasion I would venture out with them.

One time I went rock climbing and prettying much got stuck at the top. I learned the hard way that rappelling requires you to trust completely on the ropes and put your entire body weight into the harness in order for it to work. I objected the physical facts of this and demanded that I was allowed to climb down the cliff. It was explained me that it doesn’t work that way and that I would have to rappel down. What felt like 18 hours later I barely managed to get off of the mountain. To this day I have never been able to live it down. So when my brother Brandon recently proposed the idea of rappelling 100 feet into a cave for fun he invited my 12-year-old daughter but not me. Everyone assumed I would not be interested. Surprisingly I wanted to go for it! I actually regret not doing a lot of things that I had the opportunity to do while I was younger and now that I’ve outgrown and/or overcome some of those fears I was ready to give repelling another try.


I posted some videos of my big feat on social media and everyone commented on how brave I was.

However there’s a big chunk of the trip that was not shared. This is the part where we unhooked our harnesses and started to journey out of the cave. At first I confidently followed our fearless leader (my brother) through the narrow tunnels and curves which included army crawling for long stretches through the mud and tight quarters. It was cold and damp. There with creepy crawly prehistoric looking insects clinging to the walls around us. Spaces were so small that we couldn’t even wear our backpacks. We either had to drag them behind us or push them in front of us.  We finally got to an opening that allowed for more room when someone in our group up ahead declared that we went the wrong way and would have to turn back. We weren’t tired yet so it really wasn’t a problem but the anxiety at that point started to mount. I have watched a documentary that included some cave tragedies and that’s one film too many to have rattling around in your memory when doing an experience like this. Once we got back to square one (which was the big open cavern) I found my brother and I demanded reassurance that he was certain that he knew how to get out of the cave! He told us there were only two exits on the map and the last one didn’t work so it had to be the next one. As you can imagine my fear level dropped only a small fraction when I heard this.

In that moment I really wanted a supernatural ability to teleport out of the cave. But since I assumed this was not an option the only choice was to keep going. So we charged ahead, did more army crawling, and at one point we reached a big incline that was really too slippery to get up so the person behind you had to make a foothold with their hands and then you climb up. In my case my daughter SJ was ahead of me so she reached out her hand to grab mine. It was really difficult, but my kids encouraged me and SJ said “Mom you’ve got this. I’m going to pull you up.” I may be small for an adult but she is small for a kid so I didn’t expect her efforts to do much but it did! That little warrior pulled her mother up over the mud slide, I kid you not!

Next I heard our friend up ahead say “Wow that’s real sketchy”. Then I hear them say “don’t look down”. My eyes bulged out of my head and I didn’t even want to know what was coming. They came back and reported that we would have to get everyone across this ravine. My heart started pounding. I knew I couldn’t look down, ledges are scary for me anyway and this one had a slippery element. I started breathing heavily and could feel a panic attack coming on. All the fear I had when I was younger creeped back in and I started trembling. I didn’t know how I was going to get across the chasm. J was on the other side encouraging me and reaching out his hand. In my mind it was like a scene from Indian Jones.

In reality J later told me that it was a treacherous drop, but the way the cave was formed he said you would probably have to turn into a wet noodle to fall through the crack. Whatever. I still didn’t like the risk.

I sat on the ground overwhelmed with fear and my sister in law reminded me to breath. I have had panic attacks before and I knew the techniques I needed to do to calm down I just needed to be reminded of them. I got up in that moment and jumped over to where J was.

After that there were a few more moments of fear and danger before finally getting to a place that we knew we had nearly arrived because we ran into the part of our group that did not rappel. That was a relief. I announced that I was leaving our group to go with them, but everyone convinced me to finish the course and see the water fall with them. So I did. Eventually we made our way out of the cave, into the light and I was ready to kiss the ground. We did it!

Even with my challenges I am so glad I faced my fears and experienced the cave with my family. I also really loved watching Z and SJ navigate the whole thing so effortlessly. I was so proud of them.

 

Afterwards we got ice cream and SJ announced that when she turns 18 she wants to sky dive. I just shook my head at her declaration. Her aunt Laura told her she would do it too. By the way my brother and sister in law have a YouTube channel called Chris & Laura IRL so you can hop over there to subscribe and see a video of the whole caving adventure!

By | August 30th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Middle of Parenthood!

I now have four big kids.


They all know how to tie their own shoes, buckle and unbuckle their seatbelts, swim, write their full name, and now they are officially all in school! I can hardly wrap my head around it because we were in the baby/preschool stage for so long! Suddenly I am  MIDDLE of motherhood, or in the thick of it as some might say.

I know not everyone falls into a cookie cutter family having 2.5 kids at age 27 after graduating college and getting married. For a lot of moms though, the tween or middle school years do often fall right around midlife. It makes things interesting because in some ways a midlife mom is experiencing some of the same growing pains as a middle schooler! My favorite description about being in your forties is that you are an old young person and a young old person. Apply that to tweens. They are no longer adorable children with chubby cheeks that request pasghetti and meatballs, but they aren’t cool teenagers that are nearly independent either. It’s an awkward stage. 

I don’t consider this whole middle section of my life as an awkward stage, but it is certainly uncharted territory and I am navigating what this next chapter holds for me.

The youngest is in all day school for the first time. She just lost her two front teeth and learned how to ride a bike.

With each of my other kids they were the baby until the next baby came and suddenly they were a big kid. Elle never had that right of passage so the challenge is to help foster her growth instead of treating her like the perpetual baby.

Little brother is in fourth grade now and has a locker for the first time, which he is super proud of. He is about to enter into the double digits on his next birthday.

 

 

 

Big sister is in 6th grade. She has a phone, she’s in the youth group, and she is going to be 13 this school year. WHAT!?

 

Then there is the impossible fact that I have a high schooler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He has a friend who can drive now so that has brought on all kinds of independence. We see him gradually drifting away from us, but in a healthy normal way. He still loves his family and we will continue to take trips and have meals with the six of us, but naturally he is starting to hang out with his friend more and more. There are some evenings where there are only 5 of us at home and he is off doing his own thing. I can’t believe he’s about to be 15 and get a driver’s permit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a lot of feelings about all of this growing up business. Actually, I have a metaphor for my motherhood experience so far. Close your eyes and imagine you are the passenger on a road trip. Now imagine you are constantly looking back at a bunch of young children. There are babies screaming, sippy cups and goldfish crackers flying. You are passing back bottles and wet wipes. The demands and volume increases. You start singing the “wheels on the bus go round and round” and find yourself laughing and crying all at once wondering how much longer until you get to your destination. Then you finally have a chance to turn around and face forward. You rub your neck because of the strain from facing backward for so long. You start to look out the window at all the beautiful scenery, but you are distracted by how fast the vehicle seems to be moving. The closer you get to your destination the faster if feels like you are going and there is nothing you can do to slow down. So you just buckle up and start singing “Free Falling.” That is what I feel like.

The years of having little kids were so amazing, but also exhausting. Then the older they get the more I feel like time seems to speed up! Even with as crazy as I make this metaphorical road trip sound it has been the greatest blessing of my life. As I look ahead to the next season of guiding my children into adulthood I am optimistic. If it’s even close to as good as the first half then I know I am in for treat.






By | August 19th, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment