New Years Results and Goals 2022!

I love New Years Goals you guys. Nothing like vision casting on a blank canvas! Last year I had four main S.M.A.R.T. goals

I wanted to have the kids in age appropriate grades by the 21/22 school year. I am so happy to report that they are all doing fantastic in school. Some subjects are harder than others and obviously they all have strengths and weaknesses, but they are working hard, having fun, and getting all the help they need. Parent teacher conferences were so reassuring. I can put a big check mark next to that 2021 goal.

Another goal from last year was to continue our health journey. I had very specific things I wanted to achieve and let’s just say we did not limit our treats in 2021. I did exercise though, so that was a serious achievement since I have never consistently worked out. Ring Fit Adventure on the Nintendo Switch was what got me on track in terms of fitness and I wrote about that already.

I also went to the doctor for a physical for the first time in years. That ended up leading me down a path that eventually resolved my ongoing issues with anemia. That is a long story and I will blog about it eventually, I promise.

I also wanted to read 21 books which I exceeded and wrote about them in the blog post “21 Books in 2021” .

Lastly my goal was to cut back on phone time and I failed miserably at that one. There is a feature on the iPhone that can set limits on certain apps and phone usage but it doesn’t work on my phone! That’s no excuse though. This goal is going to roll over into 2022. I can do it!

As far as this year’s goals, I really want to focus on my writing. My book is my biggest goal. I know I have talked about it plenty! I’ve poured my heart into this memoir for years and writing a book is a lifelong dream of mine, so this is big. I wrote the whole first draft in 2021 and I was pumped, but I did hit a little bump in the road back in October and haven’t really gotten my momentum back since. I don’t want to loose steam though. My goal was to have to it done before my birthday (in June) and I am still aiming for that. So that is why publish book is NUMBER ONE priority for me in 2022. I also hope to have a website reboot for Messy Mom which is a big undertaking and to have new headshots. Don’t even get me started on how awful I have been about keeping up with that stuff.

I guess in short I would say my goals are

  1. Less phone time (see last years post for more details on what that looks like)
  2. Finish my book
  3. Build a new website

There are a lot of other things I want to work on and accomplish, but those are three I want to highlight. To be honest, I am nervous about 2022, not because I’ll be “over the hill” but I am not looking forward to year three of COVID-19 (insert anger emoji here). I know the past two years have taken a toll on all of us! I’m choosing to stand on the truth and 2 Timothy 1:7 where it says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” I looked into this verse which was written in a letter from Paul to Timothy when their lives were in imminent danger. I think the pandemic is stressful, but I can’t imagine how they must have felt as christians in a time where they were persecuted for their faith and methods of persecution were gorey and gruesome! It puts the verse in perspective.

Yesterday at dinner I had to announce to the kids that masks were mandatory again. I read them the email with the subject line *URGENT*. They all groaned and we had some discussions and we have continued to pray. Last year I thought for sure things would level off and that we would no longer be in panic mode. So far that doesn’t appear to be the case for 2022. I’m going off an a  tangent, here but even with all of that there is still so much to look forward to and be thankful for. Bring it on 2022. I am ready.

By | January 12th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Pain-Relief Strategies That Work (And Don’t Rely On Pills)

Many people find themselves living with pain for one reason or another. For some, it’s illness; for others, it’s surgery. But, it’s always a big problem. 


Here’s the issue: when you’re in pain, it’s hard to enjoy your life. You can’t be exuberant and care-free because there’s always this background tension in your body. You simply can’t enjoy yourself.


Pain-relief medications don’t really work either, as pointed out by experts, such as Sunshine Behavioral Health. They might numb it for a while, but create dependencies and addictions in the process. 


The trick here is to live naturally and find alternate means to dealing with pain, particularly if it is with you long-term. Medications should be a short-term strategy to see you through, not something you depend on all the time. 


Are you experiencing pain right now? Here are some of the things you might consider trying:


Therapeutic Massage Sessions


Some people experience pain because of chronic muscle tension. Either the muscle is firing when it shouldn’t be, or it can’t clear out waste products at a sufficiently high rate. 


If this sounds like you, you might want to experiment with therapeutic massage sessions. Masseuses use special techniques designed to help muscles recover and restore normal function. Some people find it extremely beneficial, but it depends on the condition. 


Music Therapy



If you’re experiencing pain after surgery or an accident, you might also try using music therapy. This involves listening to sounds played at certain frequencies through headphones, designed to help mask the pain centers of the brain and make you feel better. Generally, music therapy is distracting and encourages the pain to go away. 


Cold And Heat


Cold showers and saunas are good for your body in general. However, there is also ample evidence that alternating between cold and heat is good for pain management too. 


Cold has a numbing effect on the body. You’ll notice that if you take a cold shower, it hurts at first and then stops being as painful after a minute or so. This happens because your body essentially uses up all of its pain receptor chemicals quickly. 


When you apply cold compresses, it reduces inflammation, cutting swelling. 


Heat is also soothing. It’s often nice to apply heat after a bout of extreme cold. Heat gets deep into the muscle and helps to prevent it from becoming too stiff. 


Move More



Exercise is critical in most forms of pain management, particularly arthritis and fibromyalgia. The more you move, the better you feel. 


Lack of exercise can lead to a vicious cycle. You become too sedentary, and that makes pain conditions worse. 


If you really want to build flexibility into the body, do yoga and tai chi. These are spiritual practices and affect how your body functions. You find that you’re better aligned and more in touch with yourself when you engage fully in these activities. 


In conclusion, pain relief doesn’t have to be chemical-based: you can use many other strategies. Try these first before reaching for the pillbox under the direction of your doctor. 

By | January 10th, 2022|Natural Living|0 Comments

Poor SJ

One thing after another! Poor little SJ has been falling apart over the past two weeks! We went to Texas for Christmas break and she got poison ivy as always. She tried to be cautious but sometimes it feels like she could be a mile away from poison ivy and still get it. So her face was an itchy swollen mess. Oh well, I thought. She knows the drill and she’ll be all healed up in about 7 days.

Shortly after the run-in with a rash one of her cochlear implant processors stopped working. No big deal, I thought. We’ve had these issues before and they usually send a replacement part overnight. I called customer service and apparently this time the solid orange light on the malfunctioning device indicated that it was an unknown error. I was told it had to be sent in to be diagnosed and they will give a refurbished replacement. They just needed insurance approval. No problem, I thought and proceeded accordingly. Then I got an email saying that our request was denied because SJ has to reestablish care with her ENT in order for him to sign off on it. So I made the appointment, but it’s not until the end of January. At this point I had to take a deep breath. It’s okay, I told myself. She can still hear with her right ear. Everything is going to be fine. Hopefully. 

Then a few days before we were going to head back home SJ threw up. I figured she just had an upset stomach because she seemed fine otherwise. Then she threw up again, and again, and again. I lost count of how many times I rubbed her back as she retched every last bit of stomach bile into the toilet. Thankfully it was only one day. A curious thing about it all was that when she vomited her poison ivy resurfaced. It was all healed up the night before. Here is a photo of her.
But this was what it looked like after she puked. It didn’t itch, but every scratch mark was clearly visible again. She had petechia around her eyes (broken capillary blood vessels from all the pressure going to her face from puking) and at one point the poison ivy rash turned purple and was all raised. I still don’t know what in the world happened there. If you have any theories I’m open to hearing them! You can’t google this level of weirdness.

We finally made the trek back home and SJ was excited to be reunited with her chickens. She loves the hens.

Some might call it an obsession. They are her favorite thing to think about, play with, and talk about. Chickens are happiness in SJ’s world.

Yesterday was the last day of Christmas break and SJ was in the back yard with the chickens when Mary Cauna pecked her right in the eye! This was a total fluke. She wasn’t holding her or anything. We’ve never had any issues like this, but anyway her beak punctured her eyelid and broke through to her actual eye ball. SJ started screaming and covering her face. It was really intense. When she calmed down enough for us to examine it J saw that it wasn’t looking good. There was no blood, but he could see that there was  a piece of cornea missing and eventually when he showed me what to look for I could see it too. This picture is from when the doctor put colored drops that show where the damage is.

It all happened around 2:30. I know because this is when I called the doctor and we went in at 4:45. Then we were sent to see an ophthalmologist at the Cincinnati children’s hospital emergency room. While there, SJ was having episodes of intense pain. I didn’t know what it was. It looked like a seizure. A nurse from the children’s hospital saw it and took notes. I was told as long as she was responsive it would be okay. That didn’t really help calm my fear though. When your daughter feels fine one minute and then slides into a trance where her eyes roll back into her head and her eyelids start fluttering. It’s scary to watch. SJ said she couldn’t shut her eyes. She also couldn’t open them. The episodes happened about a dozen times yesterday and they lasted close to two minutes each, give or take. Even when all the vision and eye exams were over and they confirmed there wasn’t any severe or long term damage I was still worried about my little girl and I’m sad to say the ophthalmologist wasn’t really hearing my concerns. Thankfully a doctor came at the end to go over her case and I finally got some answers. It was explained to me that the eyes have tons of nerves and are very delicate. The good thing is because they are living cells they heal rapidly! The bad news is that eye injuries are extremely painful so SJ was experiencing blepharospasms due to the pain.  I still don’t understand all of it. I don’t know if anyone ever will, but the bottom line is she is going to be okay. She has antibiotic drops and anointment which alleviates most of the pain. She’s doing a lot better today and has a follow up appointment tomorrow. I am appreciative of all the prayers for SJ and I am believing we will get a good report tomorrow and that she can go back to school on Thursday. That girl is full of grit and she’s going to get through all of this! 

By | January 4th, 2022|Uncategorized|3 Comments

3 Things to Consider Before Investing in Property

When it comes to investing, putting your money into property is almost always a smart move. There’s significantly less risk involved compared with other forms of investment such as stocks and crypto, and over time your investment will grow much more than money simply being left in a high interest savings account. While the housing market fluctuates, there’s always demand for places to live, meaning your venture will never become obsolete; simply put, an investment in bricks and mortar is ‘as safe as houses’. Providing you’re properly insured to protect the building itself from damage, your investment in property is something that could be passed down through generations, or could be sold whenever you like or need. So whether you’re looking to flip houses and sell them on to earn money, or build an empire by renting them out, here are a few things to consider.


Financing the project

When it comes to investing, it takes money to make money. First things first you’ll need a way to finance your initial investment, whether that’s the deposit for a buy to let mortgage, or funds to purchase an auction property upfront ready for renovating and selling. This could be anything from an inheritance lump sum, savings or a bank loan- but consider how you’ll pay for the actual investment itself so that it can start earning you money later on. If you’re financing using a loan then you’ll need to factor in how the interest rate will affect your profits until it’s paid off.


Research, research, research

Getting clued up and doing your research is the best way to go about any financial decision, and investing in property is no different. It’s not as simple as purchasing a property you like the look of, you need to have a strategy in mind. For example, if you’re going down a renting route then flats and apartments in busy towns and cities tend to do well with young professionals, and allows you to start with a small property to begin with. If you want to appeal to the student market then a large property you can rent by the room that’s close to a college or university is your best bet. When it comes to renovation for a property like this, you’d want robust and easy to clean without the need for luxury fixtures and finishes. If you’re buying and selling for a profit then knowing about things like ceiling prices and building restrictions is going to be essential research. Be sure to seek expert advice for anything that requires it, if you’re going to jump into property and get it now then a real estate agent will let you know the ins and outs. 


Which direction will you go in?

The direction you go in with property investment will depend on everything from budget to experience to personal preference. The available time that you have will also play into things, if you’re doing this full time vs in your free time that will affect the type of properties and investments you should make. From holiday rentals to flipping houses, developing your own properties and more, there are so many things to consider so think through your strategy and the route you’re going to take.

By | January 3rd, 2022|Home, Lifestyle|0 Comments

School Dress Up Days

I have been so busy with all of the Christmas happenings that I have no time to blog at all! Even now I just barely have  enough time to do this quick photo dump, but I am determined! Excuse any typos please).

We didn’t decorate this year (except for the tree for Elle’s party) and we aren’t going to see Santa, bake cookies, or even drive around looking at lights. So in order to avoid being labeled a grinch I decided to participate in the kids’ elementary school “December to Remember”. It’s optional challenge in December where everyday leading up to Christmas break in  is a different dress up day. The line up of 13 themes was all based off of popular Christmas movies.



We managed to dig through all of our stuff and pull off some fun outfits. Get ready for a whole lot of fake smiles, especially the further along in the month we get.

Day 1, White Christmas, wear all white. Day 2, Jingle All the Way, wear a Christmas accessory. Day 3, Frosty the Snowman, wear a scarf

Day 4, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, wear Red. Day 5, The Grinch, wear green. Day 6, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, wear anything Disney. Day 7, Charlie Brown Christmas, wear a winter hat. Day 8, Elf wear something that represents your s’elf.



Day 9 Christmas Vacation wear sunglasses and Santa hat. Day 10, Home Alone, wear a Christmas sweater. Day 11, A Christmas Story, wear plaid. Day 12, It’s a Wonderful Life, wear black and white. Day 13, Polar Express, wear Pajamas!


It feels so weird not having Z included in these photos. Last year was his first year in Jr. High, but he was homeschooled so it didn’t feel any different. Part of me is a little, sad but I know that it’s healthy and good for him to grow up and gradually move on. Now I am going off on a tangent, back to the December to Remember. The kids and I are definitely excited for Christmas break and I hope you and your family are having a wonderful holiday season too. I will post our Christmas card reveal soon!!!

By | December 16th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Five Things That They Don’t Warn You About Living in the Country

Have you ever felt the need to throw your hands in the air and pack it all in? Maybe move to the countryside and start fresh? You are not the only one. Now that we have the option to work from home, more people are thinking about throwing in the towel on city life and living it up in the countryside. But what should you know before you pack your life up and run away? Here are some things you should consider before moving.

There will be mice and rats

The countryside is known for being filled with animals, and this is great. What is not great is when they come inside your house. Mice are one of the biggest concerns as they tend to vacate the fields as soon as the tractors appear to harvest crops. Let us be very clear, if you see a tractor heading off into the field to harvest, you need to shut your windows and doors. If you do find yourself with an infestation, you need to look for pest control near me to help manage any unwanted visitors. They can be tough to handle if you have never lived in the countryside before but you will get used to stopping them all getting inside.


Nature will move you

In the city, the seasons don’t seem to flow. You might not realize it but the city never changes. The countryside is very different and the seasonal changes will make you more in tune with your own body and rhymes. It can be hard to get used to the change of the year,especially as it will be in your face for the first time. But once you are used to it, you will find that you sleep between and could have improved mental health. It might take a few years for you to truly understand the effect that the clear country air is having on you. 


Internet is intermittent

When you live in the city, you have access to great internet speeds. Ok, they might not be great all of the time but they can be a lot better than you would get in the countryside. The signal for the internet and phones can be troublesome. If you are planning on working from home, you will have to check the internet service for the area. Sometimes, you might get lucky and find an area that has recently been upgraded. Unfortunately, some areas have bad internet and there is not much that can be done about it. It might be necessary to have a backup plan or find a local cafe with decent wifi.


It’s oh so quiet

Moving to the countryside for peace can be a great idea in theory. However, once you get out there, it can be unnerving. The countryside is very quiet. There will be no sounds of cars in the distance. There is no noise from people moving about. There is a stillness that can be frightening for the first few weeks. The countryside is also very dark. There is very little light pollution and you might find yourself being able to see the stars from your back door. The silence of the countryside can take a while to get used to but it is worth it. Your biggest problem might be the silence being broken by the cockerel in the morning but it is better than the sound of the bins getting emptied.


Nipping out is not an option

Have you ever run out of milk and needed to pop to the shops before everyone gets up looking for their breakfast? Ask yourself, how long did it take you to pop to the shops? At the most, it was probably a 10 minute round journey. If you live in the countryside, you can expect at least a 10 minute drive to the shop and there is a good chance that it will not be open. 24 hour luxuries are no longer a thing, you will be lucky to find a late night shop. When it comes to planning your day, you will need to plan more carefully. Otherwise, you might find yourself having to go without milk in the mornings. It is wise to keep the cupboards before you head out in case there is other stuff that you need. Although you can still go to the shops, it is a lot easier if you are better organised and don’t need to nip out for milk and bread at bedtime.


By | December 1st, 2021|Lifestyle, Natural Living, Simple Living|0 Comments

21 Books in 2021

At the beginning of the year I set a goal to read 21 books in 2021. The year is not over yet, but I did reach my goal! Here is what I read.

  1. Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs ⭐⭐

This book was written by the daughter of Steve Jobs and is a memoir about what life was like for her. It was interesting for sure, but it was a very odd story. It wasn’t for me.

2.  If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now by Christopher Ingraham⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. It was cute, funny, and lighthearted.

3. To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Hahn⭐⭐⭐⭐

I didn’t ever go on to read any of the other books and I haven’t watched the show, so I’m certainly not a super fan. But if you are looking for a sweet and easy YA fiction this is a good one.

4. Alone in Plain Sight by Ben Higgins ⭐⭐

I heard Ben Higgins on a podcast and fell in love with his sincerity and transparency, but unfortunately the book didn’t stick with me.

5. Meet Mrs. Smith by Anna Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I LOOOVED reading this book. It felt like I was sitting across from Anna Smith drinking some coffee together and hearing about her life. If you aren’t a Delirious fan than pass on this one, but it was so delightful for me as a mom and the wife of a worship leader.

6. I am Restored by Lacrae⭐⭐⭐

I really loved Lecrae’s book Unashamed and I would read it again. This book wasn’t bad, and there were parts that really stuck out to me, but that’s about it.

7. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis⭐⭐⭐

No review needed for this classic! This was my second time reading it (this time was with the kids). I know it deserves five stars, but if I’m honest I’m just not a fan of fantasy. Not my thing.

8. Millie Maven by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I said I am not a fantasy fan and this book is, but I loved reading this series with the kids (there were three books total). We all enjoyed it and it is such a good metaphor for the things we face as believers. The character in this story really resonated with me.

9. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I know I am late to the party on this one and I haven’t ever seen the movie, I enjoyed the book though.

10. Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford ⭐⭐⭐

This is some heavy material. I did appreciate hearing about this woman’s story though.

11. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’m a sucker for entrepreneur success stories and this was a good one.

12. The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell ⭐

This book came highly recommended with thousands of five star reviews so I know I am the odd one out here, but I hated it. I read it to the very end and it was so disturbing. I felt like I needed to find an emergency memory erasing station to wash the ickiness away after reading it.

13. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave ⭐⭐⭐

Thriller is not my usual genre, but it was entertaining to me.

14. That Sounds Fun by Annie F. Downs⭐⭐⭐⭐

This audio book felt like listening to a long podcast which was perfect for me. I loved hearing from Annie F. Downs.

15. Raising worry Free Girls by Sissy Goff ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have recommended this book to so many people and took a gazillion notes. I need to own a copy of it to be honest.

16. Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue⭐⭐⭐

This book is not written from the perspective of an evangelical Christian. It’s written by a guy (someone I heard on a podcast) that lost his faith and became an atheist, but where he is at now and why. Very interesting.

17. Never Unfriended by Lisa Jo Baker ⭐⭐

I loved Lisa-Jo Baker’s book Surprised by Motherhood. This one had little bits and pieces that I gleaned from it, but I can’t say that I loved it.

18. Believe It by Jamie Kern Lima ⭐⭐⭐

I heard Jamie Kern Lima at a leadership conference and loved her! She’s so awesome. The book started getting a little boring towards the end, but I did enjoy it.

19. It Starts at Home by Kurt Brooner and Steve Stroupe⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a book study I did with the mom’s group I’m a part of. Great for parents who really want to raise their kids in a Christ centered home.

20. Everybody Fights by Kim and Penn Holderness ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can’t believe how much I loved this AUDIO book. I felt like they were so playful and candid during the audio version it’s hard to say how much of that was spontaneous.

21. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson⭐⭐⭐⭐

I read this book the same time my daughter did. It was crazy to see the similarities to the year 2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic.


I may read a book or two before the year ends. If you have any recommendations please send them my way!

By | November 23rd, 2021|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Ten Low Budget Frozen Party Ideas

I just realized that every tip, creation, or family activity I share on Messy Mom has the word budget in there somewhere! With four kids in a one income home we are always working within a strict budget! That doesn’t mean we don’t have fun though! I honestly was ready to go to one of those places that host parties for you, but every on I looked into was over a hundred dollars and that doesn’t include, food, drinks, and cake. Plus, Elle really wanted a Frozen party so I decided to just pick up some Frozen plates, bake a cake and call it a day. But did I keep it that simple? No, I did not.

The party monster in me had to take things to the next level. It wasn’t that hard to pull off though and it definitely cost us less than a hundred dollars. Here are my top 10 ideas for this Frozen party along with links and details for those who are in planning mode.

1. Use the TV

My computer (that I am typing on right now) happens to be in our living room, but this idea could work with a smart tv just as easily. I loaded a screen saver to rotate photos of the birthday girl (we do this for all the kids on their birthday month. It’s so fun to look back). The music playing was the Frozen 1 & 2 soundtracks on Spotify.  I also used the monitor to show the new Frozen shorts that are on Disney+. This was a huge hit with the girls and a great way to pass the time while awaiting all the party guests.

Lastly, I used the monitor for Kareoke. SJ has a karaoke microphone and all of the Frozen karaoke songs are on Youtube!

2. A Frozen tree

Since we are so close to putting up our tree anyway we got the big and miniature artificial trees out and decorated them exclusively with “snow” and icicle ornaments! It really set the mood for a winter wonderland just like in Frozen.

3. Cake

I wanted to bake a cake myself and I have all the ideas on my Pinterest board, but in the end it was a better choice to order one from Walmart. It turned out super cute. For $23 I got a cake that served 12 and 12 cupcakes with rings and a topper that is a little keep sake. Baking cakes yourself is a great way to save money, but this was a great thing to splurge on this year for my sanity’s sake.

4. Printables*

I printed out food tents for EVERYTHING! It makes the whole theme so festive. I love this kind of thing. For the record, we don’t even have a colored printer. I just go to the library and spend a few cents per page! *Scroll to the bottom of this post to access my printables. We also had this hilarious sign on the bathroom which my older daughter made.


5. Frozen decor pack

Similar to the cake, this is something that I did not DIY. I just bought a pack of Frozen party supplies  on Amazon for $28.99 and it came with this awesome photo backdrop, a pennant banner, table cloth, plates, napkins, forks etc. I just used plain cups, plates, and napkins to fill in since the party pack didn’t cover it all.

6. Elsa punch

I looked up a recipe for blue lemonade and put it in this drink dispenser that I have. The problem is it has to be elevated so we sat it on top of a flour container and covered it with fake snow cloth! I eventually moved it to the kitchen counter but it served it’s purpose.


I wanted to buy a kit that makes 10 gallons of a snow like substance, but my practical husband drew the line there and I’m glad he did! Ha! Instead, we just made snow flakes from paper and used a cheap can of spray snow and window clings for the windows. It was so pretty!

8. Snowflake cookies

The night before the party we made sugar cookies with a snowflake cookie cutter that I already owned.



The blue sprinkles and frosting made it the perfect Frozen party craft!

9. Elsa Costume

I actually got this costume free from IKali Costumes as part of a blogging collaboration, but she has worn it so many times that even if I had spent money on it it would have been worth it. I had the photos from when I did the ad fro Ikali and used them for the welcome sign and her evite (also free and they have a knock off Frozen invitation design!)

10. Tiara and Makeup

I don’t usually let my six year old wear make up but my mom gave her this present on her actual birthday (a couple of days before the party). It was on her Amazon registry (another birthday tip if you are looking for an easy way to get birthday lists out and make sure there are no duplicates). Anyway it’s not official Frozen, but it’s still what Elle has repeatedly described as the best present ever. So there is a gift idea of little Frozen fans.

That’s it. We ate lunch, cake, and opened presents. Elle thanked me over and over for the party and I had fun throwing it. To buy everything licensed Frozen could have been a pricey, but because it was also a snow theme it made it doable, especially this close to Christmas.

Hope these Frozen tips are helpful. I know it’s a bit of a hodge podge (I am the MESSY mom, it will not be precise), but if you happen to need some free printables, *click here for a downloadable PDF of what I threw together for the food tents. The free font that I used is called “Ice Kingdom” and some of them were free printables from other blogs.


By | November 16th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Our Love Story (according to my high school diary)

Summer 1997

I was 15 when I moved to Texas. We joined a very small church south of Dallas and I was miserable.

Jeremy was a 21 year old college student at that time, and part of a singing group. He also became a part of the same very small church that I went to because they were in need of a volunteer worship leader and he was their answer to prayer.

When I met Jeremy I was initially impressed by his sense of style. He had that 1990’s American Eagle look- sweater vest, carpenter jeans, and chunky Doc martins. His hair was parted down the middle and fell right at his cheek bones.

He sang and played guitar, which was cool. He was also sensitive, popular, and most importantly he loved the Lord. The only mark I had against him was his disinterest in punk and ska music. Of course, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t see him as a candidate for a potential life partner. I was 15, and at the time 6 years was the equivalent of 2 decades. I always had some sort of admiration for him though. I even remember telling one of my friends “Jeremy is a really cool guy and if he wasn’t so OLD I’d marry him.”


The next few years Jeremy and I got to know one another a lot more. I was able to open up to him. This meant that I would tell him endless stories about the guys I liked that came in and out of my life. One after the other I would fall head over heals for someone other than Jeremy.

I was never serious with any of them, but I might of fell into the category of “boy crazy”. One time a guy broke up with me and I felt so upset I called my mom from school to tell her I was sick and needed to come home. She was working so she called the church to see if our pastor could help out. Who would show up to rescue the pitiful, broken hearted, 16 year old? None other than her dear friend Jeremy.

I pouted all the way home. Jeremy saw through my performance and said “you’re not really sick are you?” so I broke down and told him everything. Here is an except of a journal entry from that day.

“Jeremy and I talked and it made me feel a lot better. I think that there is much more of an understanding between us now. He has made me realize a lot. We talked for a few hours. Time always flies when I am talking to Jeremy. Except, he thinks I shouldn’t date and I say maybe I won’t date anyone at this moment, but I am not totally anti-dating like Jeremy is.”


I may have had my little relationships throughout high school, but that is not to say that Jeremy didn’t have his own love triangle. Girls flocked to him and he didn’t exactly shy away from the attention. And for someone who had no feelings for him whatsoever, I sure did let it bother me. In fact half the time my feelings toward him were nothing short of hostile. I think you would define what we had as a love/hate relationship.

I don’t think there is any better way to tell this part of the story than to let my journal entries speak for themselves . If they don’t make sense it’s because I was a very confused 17 year old trying to deny the fact that I was jealous of Jeremy hanging out with another girl, who for the purposes of this blog we will call “Christy”. I am well aware of how ridiculous I sound in all of these confessions, but I do appreciate the honesty, passion, and intensity of my emotions back then. Unfortunately it was all overshadow by a heap of confusion. I guess sometimes that’s just the way love is.

“Today we saw Toy Story 2 for the second time and Jeremy came with us. Jeremy is so weird. I love him but sometimes I just wish I could figure him out. He will be really cool to me one day and ignore me the next. Right now he is fine, but he never tells me what he is doing. Not that it is any of my business, but it just seems like it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.”

“Today Jeremy and some other friends were over and I will admit they get on my nerves a lot. I guess because Jeremy and I used to be close but now it’s all just a joke. We make shots at each other and that is like our whole relationship.”

“Jeremy and Christy were over again and they are really close now. I doubt they would ever admit to it being anything more than friends, but I don’t know, either way I say take your flirtyness and get out of my house with it! Okay I understand I am being mean, but I have a good explanation if I could get into it.”

“Today Jeremy was fairly nice to me. He apologized for being rude and it made me want to cry. I still think he hates me though.”

“Jeremy and I are cool now. We went shopping together after school and talked a lot about him and Christy and why they get on my nerves sometimes.”

“On Friday Jeremy and Christy were as clingy as ever. Everything is cleared up between me and them, but I have to admit I still get very annoyed by them. My mom doesn’t understand why I am bitter but she doesn’t see the same side of Jeremy as I do, but don’t get me wrong I love the guy to death and I would do anything for him.”

The next journal entry changes everything! Just to fill in some of the gaps here Craig  is a guy that had been interested in me. We had gone out a few times, and he was perfect boyfriend material, but I just never felt connected with him.


“Yesterday was absolutely horrible. I had no valentine and was exhausted from working ALL WEEKEND. I got home from school and I just went in my room and cried. Then my mom came in and told me I had a visitor. It was Craig so I tried to pull myself together and went out there, and we talked for a long time.
You know what? I know I’ve been acting weird and emotional. I’ve just felt different lately. So I am going to leave out all of the details of my lame teenage life for just a moment. I may get to talking about it all sooner or later, but for now I am just going to write.
Jeremy is sick tonight. He just has the flu, but I feel bad for him. I know I have said a lot of mean things about him but he is the greatest guy I have ever known (or at least one of). I love him very much in a way that I cannot explain. It’s not romantic love, or brotherly love, or even friendly love, I don’t know what it is but I care about him a lot and it kills me to see him sick.”

So that was it, that was the moment that everything changed. There I was just scribbling away as usual and suddenly, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Jeremy felt bad and I felt bad for him, deeply.
I would have never remembered any of that or even known that it had happened if I hadn’t written it down. Eventually things came out in the open between Jeremy and I. He proposed to me in the summer and we married in the fall. I know it’s crazy, but that’s our real life story. Four kids and 21 years later, I make no apologies.

By | November 4th, 2021|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Vacation Photos Behind the Scenes

I know not everything you see on social media represents the reality of peoples lives and I’m okay with that. I talked about this social media facade in a blog post I wrote back in 2018 and I feel like it bears repeating.

“As a small time blogger, or even just a girl on Facebook, I am selective about what I post online. I think it’s okay to show a curated life to a broad audience! On the one hand, I want to keep it real with a blog name like MESSY mom and blog posts like the one where I had a nervous breakdown, but on the other hand I don’t need to air out all my dirty laundry. I save that for the people I love most. I know that sounds funny but it’s true. I have intimacy with those that I am actually connected with.

The more intimacy we have with someone the more vulnerable and transparent we are, to the point that in sexual intimacy we actually take off ALL the layers and are completely exposed.  Intimacy doesn’t have to be sexual though. Intimacy can be sharing tears, or scars, or memories. Intimacy is a closeness and a connection that is always mutual. If it’s not mutual then it’s not intimacy.”

The reason I bring this up is because I posted all of my favorite photos and videos from our fall break family retreat on both Facebook and Instagram and some on Messy Mom.Those photos were the highlights. Was it an awesome trip? YES! Do I feel like God truly gave us favor with everything from the lodging to our health? YES! Our family agrees that we made treasured memories that will last a lifetime.

Now I am going to get real here on Messy Mom. Did my teenage son suggest we should not go on a trip and just stay home before we left? Yes he did. Did I almost cry when my all of my family got frustrated and complained when I did a family photo session? Yep, that happened. There was boredom in the car and sibling rivalry splattered throughout our whole trip. In fact at one point around the camp fire J thought it would be a good idea for us all to take turns saying something nice about each other.

One of the nice things one of the kids said was “She is good at being a terrible sibling”. Those weren’t the exact words, but there was definitely a backhanded compliment or two. I lost my cool eventually and shouted something to the effect of “Can’t you all just be nice for once!? Your dad and I are trying. We are desperately trying to the point that we brought you all the way out to the middle of Amish country hoping you would change!” It got ugly, but then I calmed down and J and I began to speak truth and God given destiny over each one of them. There were happy tears (even from the kids) and hugs that really broke through all of the junk we had been dealing with. It was good. We know that all the bickering and car sickness that it took to get there was worth it. It’s not a Hallmark movie that has a picture perfect conclusion, but it was a wonderful retreat with people that I really love.

I was sharing some of my behind the scenes vacation struggles with a  friend who is a a grandma now and she thanked me for my openness. She said when she sees the vacation photos on social media she sometimes wonders what they did wrong! I assured her she did nothing wrong and my guess is everyone has melt downs in Disney World at some point. In fact I have the privilege as a photographer to get a front row seat to some of the family realness. I love the cheery photos of everyone in sweaters grinning from ear to ear, but there is almost always a disgruntled teenager, bored husband, or cranky toddler. The ring leader is usually a mom who is begging them to just cooperate for one stinking minute to get a decent photo. Then she slips me extra cash to make her look skinny in the photos. Just kidding. I get that request more often than I can count, but no one has ever offered me money to do it.

The moral of the story is keep sharing those beautiful happy moments and realize that you are not the only one who has some pretty rough outtakes.

By | October 27th, 2021|Uncategorized|1 Comment