Messy Mom Gets a Day Off


The other day I read a book to the kids called “Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation”. It was really cute. In this book, Mrs. Claus feels like since Santa travels the world every year she should get a chance to get out too, and she does! She travels the world and has a great time (while Santa tries his hand at some of the more domestic duties at home). Eventually, she misses the North Pole and is ready to come back. There is a surprise ending though so I won’t spoil it.

If you are a feminist you might not like the predictable gender roles in the book, but I completely related to Mrs. Claus. I am a stay at home mom and I rarely have any time to get away from the house by myself. I recently was going through an emotional rough patch and I knew I needed time alone or I was going to explode. So the day before Thank giving J watched the kids so that I could do my own thing. He even made me a Dutch Baby which is like a specialty crepe pancake and it is my favorite food!


After breakfast I went shopping. I started off at a thrift store, then Half Priced Books, and Rose and Remington.


Thrifting, reading, and “R &R” are all happy places of mine so I was feeling mighty fine.


For lunch I went to a local place called Harvest Market.

I had local spaghetti squash with pesto and feta from their hot bar. I don’t eat out much so when I pay for someone to cook something my expectations are pretty high these days. This hit all the right notes. Let me tell you it was divine. I finished off with a dandelion latte and started strolling along the streets of downtown hoping to find something sweet for dessert.

The walk was nice and the weather was perfect but I still needed chocolate. 


That’s when I decided to finish off my outing with a warm cookie from Chick-fil-A. Thedrive-thru line was and I thought maybe I should just go inside. Why not? I have no children to unbuckle and get out so let’s do this! I went into the noisy restaurant full of moms and children (everyone was out of school). I walked straight up to the counter and ordered one cookie. That was it. One cookie to go.

Some people probably stopped reading because this story is so detailed and boring but to me it was an incredible first time experience to be savored! I went into Chick-fil-A by myself, got a cookie, and left! Here is a graphic I shared on my Instastory-

Chocolate milk? No. Play land? No. Fighting? No. Trading a toy for ice cream? No. Heping a child wash hands while listening to instrumental worship music? No.

Cookie? YES!

I was home by three and then J had to go lead worship for the youth group so it wasn’t even a full day, a big trip, or a night out. It was enough though. I walked in the door and said “There. I’m better.” It was just the reset I needed.

By | December 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

First Lego League Competition Results

I wanted to do an update right away after my post about Z’s big competition.

I had several people texting and messaging me the day of event wishing us luck, sending up prayers, and checking in. I couldn’t believe it! This competition was a big deal for us, but I didn’t expect anyone else to care. I don’t mean that in a grumpy way but it’s just a 5th grade lego robot competition and it’s entry level. For family and friends to actually show interest and support for our son’s hobby makes me aware of how supremely blessed I am!

With that said, here is your play by play of the entire day!

Z and I had to get up at 6:00 am. When we went outside there was what looked like a really bright star next to the moon. Z said “Hey I think that’s Vega” and I had no idea so I just went with it and said, well it must be good luck then. Only, then he started doubting his astronomy and naming off more stars and planets and giving facts about each one. In the end we determined it was probably Venus which is clearly visible right before Sunrise this time of year. Regardless of what the bright speck in the sky was it was a nice start to a space-themed competition.

The competition started off very strong for our team. The kids were standing tall and beaming with pride. They got to practice with the robot and scored extremely high. They had to go before the judges and explain their robot design. They had to be judged on a project that involved space radiation solutions and they knocked it out of the park.

They are even judged on the FLL core values which involve sportsmanship, teamwork, “gracious professionalisms” and more. It was going fantastic and then the robot competition really began and they choked. Big time. All of the mommas were in the bleachers wide eyed with our hands covering our mouths. The dads were cringing and holding their breath. The team had programmed the robot to go through the obstacles. The attachments were built and the technicians were trained but after receiving 121 points in the practice round they finished the first round with a big fat goose egg. ZERO points.

One of the 5th graders burst into tears which made me choke up. I watched my son pull his hood up over his head and try to shrink into oblivion. I followed them out of the gym to catch up with Z for a really brief pep talk. I looked him in his tear filled eyes and I said “It’s okay. You’ve got two other chances to do the robot run. I am here for you. Your coach is here for you. So many people are cheering you on. You need to shake it off and get back in there.” He looked up at me completely defeated and I said “Take your sweatshirt off”. He didn’t respond, but at the time he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. He had a big floppy hat, and his pockets were full and weighing him down. It’s like it was Z in disguise. Some of the accessories are just part of the fun of the competition but for him it was like he was hiding. I nudged him “Come on buddy, you’ve got this cool shirt that you all designed with YOUR NAME on the back and no one can see it.” I encouraged him to show his name and then I gave him a hug as they moved on to a restricted area.

An hour went by and it was time the team to come back to the gym for the next round. When Z showed up with his team he looked the same as when I left him but next thing you know his coach runs over to me with Z’s sweatshirt and extra stuff. Z had decided to take my advice. They walked over to the table and spent the next round of two an a half minutes absolutely crushing it! Granted it wasn’t my magical pep talk or sweatshirt idea. It turns out there was a battery related error in the first round that caused the robot to malfunction. Either way it was so riveting and thrilling to watch the robot do its mission. We all cheered and went wild every time one was complete.

At the end of a very long day all the teams lined up for awards. The kids were pumped. I had my phone ready to record when their victory was announced. Except the more the awards went out and the fewer that were left, the more the team’s smiles turned downward. There was one certificate for the final remaining slot to advance to the city regional competition and I got my phone ready to record hoping that maybe, just maybe they were that team. Except it wasn’t like in the movies. It wasn’t our team’s name that was called. Everyone was dismissed and there were a few tears followed by lots of hugs.

The team met up afterward for some much needed dinner. The coach got everyone ice cream sandwiches and went over the judges’ score sheets. They talked about how everyone was feeling and what would come next. At the very end I raised my hand because I felt like I had something to say. Their coach and teacher had already poured so much wisdom and encouragement into them I really didn’t have much to add, but I guess my mouth and my heart have a hard time laying low. I was given the floor and I don’t remember exactly what I said but this is the gist of it:

You all know that Z’s sister is deaf right? That means that she can’t hear, except for the fact that she has cochlear implants. Cochlear implants were invented by innovators like you. They are a way of taking science and electronics and technology to give deaf people bionic ears so that they can hear! 30 years ago that wasn’t possible and it’s because these engineers are working on solutions like this the technology keeps getting better.  I was just explaining to one of the mom’s how SJ can swim with her implants now. They also just recently became compatible with the iPhone and it keeps getting better and better. That’s what you all are doing. You are coming up with creative and innovative solutions that make things better. Robotics and programming are fun but it can also change people’s lives! You should be proud of everything you’ve accomplished. YOU are going to be world changers.

And then we all started clapping for our team. They didn’t get far in the competition but no doubt in my mind they are going to go extremely far in life. Although I wouldn’t mind if they did get through qualifiers next year.

By | December 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Robotics Mom

I’ve never had the honor of being a soccer mom, dance mom, or any other sport mom. Maybe someday one of my kids will be really into team sports, but not so far. When Z was barely two years old he awkwardly but methodically maneuvered his toddler chair and mini basketball hoop to where he could sit and put the ball into the hoop. I have the whole thing on video. I should have known then that he was more into engineering than athletics.

When Z was 7 he asked his dad “When you were young did you HAVE to play football?” J replied “No, I didn’t have to. I wanted to. I enjoyed being on the football team”. Z let out a big exhale and said “Oh, good. I thought it was mandatory”. We still get a good laugh about that one.


Z started working on coding and robotics when he was in Kindergarten.

It is his passion!

So when the opportunity to be a part of a competitive robotics team was presented, he jumped on it. He had to have teachers referrals and fill out an application in order to make the team but now he is one of seven kids in the school’s fifth grade FLL team and he is loving it. FLL stands for First Lego League. It sounds like it involves a lot of building and lego construction, but that’s not the majority of what they do. It’s mostly about programing the Midstorm EV3 robot which works with legos and figuring out how to complete missions and get through obstacles.

I won’t go into all the details because quite frankly it’s over my head.

This year’s theme is space which is Z favorite subject. He loves to watch space documentaries and read about space. Don’t get him started on nebulas or kepler22-b (I had to have him remind the name of that planet so that I could include it in this post I don’t anything about space). The cool thing is I have a friend who works for NASA in Houston and the FLL team was actually able to do a Facetime interview with her for part of their research. It was so cool to watch my friend who I knew when she was in Highschool interact with and inspire my son and his friends. They geeked out over getting to talk with her.

For Z, the idea that he can combine robots and space means he is living the dream, but just like with sports, you have to put in a lot of effort and time to go the distance.

The challenge is rewarding though.


So that’s what he’s been doing since August and it’s all leading up to the first competition which is this weekend! We are so excited for Z. If they qualify to move on to the next round it will be a first for 5th grade at his school. I am trying to balance staying positive and hoping for the best, but mentally preparing for what happens if they don’t move on to the next level. I’m sure some of you sports mom have more experience with this and can give me advice on how to encourage my young man when things don’t turn out the way he wanted.

No matter what happens I couldn’t be prouder of Z. He knows that I am proud of him and one of the things that makes me the proudest is that he is sincerely grateful for this opportunity. He always tells me thank you for all the time, money, and efforts that we have given for him to be able to do this. Like any child, he keeps us on our toes and gives us more grey hairs every day, but he is special and I am one blessed momma.

I’m looking forward to this new season of life as a robotics mom!

I’ll keep you all posted on what happens. Go team C.O.D.E.!

By | November 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment


This bright-eyed little lady just turned three years old! 

The photo below was her two-year portrait so you can see how much she has changed!

Here are some highlights from the past year.

At the beginning of the year I decided to give potty training a try, but she just wasn’t ready. She was excited about her Minnie Mouse underwear. She would even request them but rather than wear them she would just carry them around with her. She would say “Mommy look, I’ve got big girl undies”. Which resulted in a facepalm from me. I decided we would hold off on this process until summer.

Then summer came and things got busy and we went camping a few times. The idea of having to get to an outhouse in time or to determine whether to toss soiled panties or wash them and keep them in a plastic bag for the remainder of the trip did not seem appealing. So I waited until the very end of summer. On August 1st 2018 Elle said bye bye to diapers and she’s had big girl undies ever since (and actually WORE them this time). The only problem was she refused to poop on the toilet. A couple of months went by with accident after accident. She would poop in her undies or on the floor but never in the toilet.


I could count only a handful of times from August to November that she actually went #2 in the toilet and it was because she was basically constipated and I forced her to sit there until she went. I felt like I tried everything, but she was really stubborn about it. She would actually poop ON THE FLOOR grab a huge wad of toilet paper to transport the turd to the toilet and flush. I said “Seriously girl!? I promise you there is a better way”. Then a little over two weeks ago a miracle happened. She pooped in the toilet. I didn’t ask her to or help her or remind her. She had to go, so she went and excitedly reported the occurrence to me. I rewarded her with M&Ms but I figured we still had a long road ahead of us. Then she went again the next day and it kept happening. A week went by with zero potty accidents of any kind. Now it’s been over two weeks so I think it’s safe to say she is potty trained!!! This means we are a diaper free home! After a decade of babies this is big news. Technically we were diaper free a couple other times when I was pregnant and Elle hasn’t worn a diaper since July but still, the fact that it feels officially over is just… WHOA! As I mentioned in the Instagram photo above I never had this poop aversion with my other kids so I wasn’t sure how it would play out. She went all or nothing with this thing. There was no gradually warming up to the poop on the toilet. Once it clicked it TOTALLY clicked. Anyway, that’s the latest news and that is what I am thankful for today.


By | November 20th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Choosing Gratitude

For the month of November I decided I would try to write every day about something that I am thankful for.

We are half way through the month and I’ve succeeded about half the time. That’s okay though! The fact that I have written approximately 4 times a week is so much better than the pattern I had going before.

Over the past 10 years I have written consistently every week, but this year has been difficult. J is back in full-time ministry which means I reclaim the title of pastor’s wife again. Then in August I started working a couple of days a week and I also began volunteering as the ASL coordinator at our church. It’s all stuff that I love but writing started slipping further and further away from me. This has broken my heart. I have expressed that to J who is nothing but supportive about helping me get a writing rhythm going again.

In October I talked to a friend about potentially helping out with Elle for a couple of hours once a week so that I can focus on my blog and the books that I want to write. She gladly agreed but I still seemed too busy to actually take her up on it. That’s when I spontaneously decided on the gratitude challenge. The plan is I stop with all the other goals, guest posts or series, and just attempt to write very freely and casually once a day like I am doing now. That was a great step toward getting my blog rolling again, but it’s not a permanent solution.

I have exciting news though! Tomorrow I am really going for it and will start my first intentional writing session. I booked a study room at the library and I will sit down in silence and just write and write for a couple of hours. I can’t even imagine what that will feel like but I’m guessing it’s going to be amazing.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a little background about what is happening with Messy Mom. For now the gratitude challenge. December I will still probably be regrouping, but in January I will officially be back at it!

Now then, what am I thankful for today? I am thankful for being thankful and making a deliberate choice to do so.

About a week ago I blogged about the gorgeous fall weather. However, it didn’t last long. It is currently 33 degrees outside and everything is covered in a dangerous layer of ice.


The gorgeous leaves are now crunchy and brown and you can see right through all of the naked forests. That was one short autumn season. I am glad I took it in though. If I hadn’t taken the time to acknowledge that I was grateful for the beautiful weather I very well may have missed it altogether! This gratitude challenge has really helped me look at things differently. It feels good to be thankful.

By | November 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

DIY Piñata Mama

The first pinata I made for my children was Bob the Tomato for Z’s Veggie Tales birthday party.

I didn’t even have Pinterest back then so this was definitely inspired by my own fond childhood memories. I knew you could make a paper mache pinata using a balloon for the shape and I knew Bob was pretty much the shape of a balloon so I went for it. The results were wonderful.

It was a cute decoration but it was also one of the most successful pinata bursts I have ever seen! The pinata started to crack open while it was still spinning which resulted in the epic launch of candy flying in every direction! It was so fun I knew that wouldn’t be my last DIY pinata and it wasn’t.

I made another attempt two years later when Z turned 6. I went with Batman this time to go with his Super Hero theme party.

This pinata turned out great. There was no tissue paper on it.  Instead, it was painted black with cardboard for the mask shape.

The next pinata I made was a donut for SJ’s donut themed party. This was fun because it was my first irregular shaped balloon.

It was also the first time I made a coordinating stick to whack it with. Yes, I am a nerd.

A couple years later I did my first box pinata and made a Minecraft Creeper. That was a huge hit no pun intended. It was time-consuming to paste all the squares on, but totally worth it!

Then I made a bumble bee for Elle’s “Fun to Bee One” party. That one may have been my favorite ever in terms of originality and creativity.

Lastly, I have the most recent pinata for Elle’s candy land party. I knew I wanted to do a pinata for this party because I figured that a candy pinata would be a no-brainer. It’s round and covered in tissue paper. That seemed easy enough.

The girls were so adorable taking turns hitting it! They were all dressed up as princesses and then they took the plastic baseball bat and got three solid hits each.

Everyone got a turn before one of the older girls was able to break it apart. Sadly it dropped to the ground rather than scatter. It was probably for the best though because it was hanging near our balcony. As you can see I’m a bit of a pinata enthusiast. No one else cares if you can see tape or it’s lopsided or the candy doesn’t cascade through the air. When it really comes down to it, I don’t care either. I enjoy the art of pinata making because it means I get to stick my hands in goop and create something really fun and special for the kids using just a few simple materials.

You may notice that out of all 6 pinatas none of them were for Ezie. I thought I would change that this year but it wasn’t meant to be. We celebrated his birthday at a farm a couple hours away and so I made a cool cake instead.

The thing about cake creations and pinata creations is that you spend hours crafting them and then it takes minutes to destroy. There is something oddly satisfying about this process though. I guess because the whole intent is to bring joy and if that happens the whole thing was a success! It is such a treat to watch the kids break the pinata or eat the cake. Those hours of labor are worth the minutes of wonder and cheer. I am really hoping that next year will be the year I make a pinata for Ezie though. I’m not sure what it will be yet, but it’s something to look forward to.

By | November 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

I am a List Person

Today I am thankful for lists. I absolutely love lists! I used to keep lists on paper but switched to digital archiving of my information about 7 years ago. Actually, the switch happened after SJ was diagnosed and I had to get more organized to stay on top of all of her appointments and my prenatal checkups. I asked my blog readers for suggestions and one of you said “Cozi” is very helpful in keeping all the family stuff together. I have been using Cozi the family organizer app ever since. Today I worked off of 4 lists. Today on Cozi I was using my Thursday to do list and Elle Candy Land Party list.  I was going to post screenshots of my lists but I would be too embarrassed. First of all spelling and grammar go out the window when it comes to my lists. Sometimes I have to do detective work to decipher what I even meant to say when I hurriedly did voice to text on a list. Also, my lists include some stuff that is personal and often includes people’s names so I am not going to show the list on the internet, but here is an example of someone else’s.


I also use an app called List Ease for groceries or shopping.  So today when I went out I used Ellis party list for shopping and I have just a regular grocery list.

I know that lists are not very exciting but I don’t know what I would do without being able to organize some of my thoughts and to be able to visually assess my accomplishments at the end of the day. I do this every weekday and have for the past ten years. I know women that have the cutest planners and geek out of the brands and the different colored pens they use. I think that is super cute and fun but I tend to lose paper. That’s why I keep everything on my phone in my apps. I will leave links to the apps in case it’s helpful for anyone looking to be more organized. I personally use the free version of both.




I am very busy right now getting things together for Elle’s birthday party this weekend. Having lists definitely helps me to be able to accomplish stuff like that. That’s why I am grateful for my lists. It’s boring I know, but if you are a list person you get it!

By | November 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments


Yesterday on my photography page I shared some photos I had taken in the past year of SISTERS!

What I love about this beautiful collage is that each photo has a story and all of the families represented are unique. On the top left we have two sisters sitting in front of a mural that is a tribute to their sister in heaven. The girl in the painting is their sister, Palmyr and the image behind her is Jesus pushing her on the swing. You can read more about their story here on Messy Mom. The next photo is of a blended family who have another sister on the way due in a few months. The sisters in the bottom left photo both have cochlear implants and know sign language. You probably recognize the two little cuties in costume are my daughters. While there are so many differences among the photos, each one expresses the bond of sisterhood and I think that is incredibly beautiful.

I never expected SJ to have a sister. There was no logical reason for this but since I had three brothers and no sisters I guess I just felt like maybe history would repeat itself. God had a different plan though and I am so grateful that my gut was wrong in this case and baby number four is our beautiful daughter Elle. I have said in the past that money could never buy a greater gift for SJ than the gift of a baby sister. She was in love with her from the moment she was born (and if you know the story you know she was there when Elle was born).


SJ is the ultimate mother hen and Elle is the ultimate baby doll.




Even though SJ is not very big for her age she doesn’t let that stop her from always wanting to carry her sister around.

You would think now that Elle is almost three it would stop, but I am not sure when and if it will!



Her tenderness and love for her sister sure is sweet though. And Elle definitely adores her big sis.


I’m sure there

will be a lot of different dynamics in their relationship through the years, but I am thankful that they have each other. I know their sisterly bond will last forever.

By | November 7th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Fall Weather

I will admit, I have been so grouchy about the weather this year. I started getting excited about fall in September because after Labor Day it’s all about pumpkin spice everything and boots and cardigans right? Except it was stinking hot in September.

Then October came around and I thought for sure the fall I know and love would make an appearance, but nope. We spent our first weekend of October at the farm doing all the traditional fall festivities in our shorts and tank tops. It was still hot.

Then fall break came and I got my wish. The temperatures dropped. It wasn’t pleasant though, it was literally freezing at night and bitter cold and dreary during the day. I tried to stay positive but the idea that we would skip fall and go straight from Summer to Winter was almost depressing to me. I never even got to wear the cute fall outfits I love because I had to bundle up with a winter coat and layers of wool socks. I know these are first world problems, but the weather definitely has an effect on my mood and as the temps dropped so did my spirits.

Fall 2018 doesn’t end there though.

The very last week of October the leaves suddenly transformed and there were pops of color all over the sides of the road.

We have had  GORGEOUS 50 and 60 degree weather.

It’s brisk and cool but not enough to see your breath or have to wear a winter coat.

Ohio is so pretty in the fall and sometimes I have to hold back the tears when I see gradients of color everywhere. It’s so beautiful.

I can’t help it. It truly rejuvinates me and I smile when leaves let go of their branches and the golden and burgundy dancers gracefully float toward the ground. Autumn has always been my favorite season and jewel tones are my favorite shades. That’s one of the reasons J and I picked November for our wedding.

We love the fall and once the Halloween decorations are gone I can really revel in the goodness of harvest season.

I have friends who are Christmas enthusiasts and see November as the perfect time to break out the Santa colors and evergreen trees. Don’t worry guys, I am not going to slam you (you know who you are). I am happy that you are happy! I don’t roll that way though. I felt like I was rushed into pumpkin spice lattes and hay rides when it was still 90 degrees outside. Now that the scenery and temperatures finally match season we are in I am going to soak it all in! I love snowflakes, but I don’t want to feel rushed into the next season when my favorite one is happening now. No Christmas music or decorations for me.

I am all about the Autumn.

For me that means my anniversary! It also means bon fires and outfits that are lightweight layers. Or my love for taking walks and hikes surrounded by glorious trees.

It also means soup and squash and my youngest daughter’s birthday! Lastly, of course I think of thankfulness because of Thanksgiving.

That’s why I am doing this series and that’s why today I am thankful for FALL!

By | November 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Married Half My Life

Today, November 4th, is the 4th day of my Thankfulness Writing Challenge. It’s also almost midnight so I don’t have time to really sit down and a blog post. It’s been a very busy day and it is mine and J’s anniversary. I am going to cheat and leave this snapshot of my Instagram account for now. I do have more I would love to say about this milestone so hopefully I’ll have time to come back later and write about it. That’s all for now though.

By | November 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments