Notes from the Messy Beautiful

Thoughts from a mama, wife, friend, and dreamer

Well Hello Again

Hi? Remember me?  I know….it’s been so long.  I keep re-reading old blogs of mine with sweet memories of the boys and things I had forgotten and it reminds me why I wanted to keep this blog in the first place.  It’s the only place I’ve done a good job of writing down memories.  No baby books or calendars or anything else.  Just these words here.  So I’m going to TRY and keep up with it better this coming year.

But let’s recap why these last five months have been so crazy and unusual (although isn’t life always?).  Back in April, Jax had his one year pediatrician’s appointment.  He had super high levels of lead in his body.  That led to a quick move out of the only home our boys had known, problems with our landlord, and the #homelesstour2016 (which is basically still going.  I know).  We bounced around for two weeks and then moved in with my parents.  At the time, I thought it would be for two to four weeks while we found a place to live.  Spoiler alert: it’s been four and a half months.  (Sorry mom and dad).  In other words, this has become my mantra:


However, back at the end of August, we went into escrow on our first own itty-bitty condo.  Escrow closed at the end of September (after Brandon left me for two weeks with two sick, busy boys), and we started working on it.  And by we, I mean Brandon.  There was a lot to do to make it live in ready.  We assumed we’d be in by mid-October.  But you know how these things go.  It’s a six unit building and our neighbors, who make up the HOA, decided they didn’t like some of what we were doing and turned us in for some permitting stuff and long story short, it’s been one thing after and another and we STILL aren’t living there.  We are working on getting permits for a couple things, but it’s looking like we are going to need to move in as-is during the waiting time, which means we will be moving into what’s currently a one-bedroom place.  But let’s be real, the boys are usually in our bed anyways, so who needs two bedrooms??


Throw in some cardiologist appointments for Jax, a new heart murmur, renovations, Brandon’s grandma dying, a few trips, and it has been a busy/stressful/hard season.  I still feel like I don’t quite have my feet underneath me.  Not to mention my boots, because when we packed for my parents’ house, we packed one bag of summer clothes, not expecting to need anything more.  However it’s now November, cooling down, and I have no idea where my sweaters and closed-toe shoes are.  Probably in a box in Brandon’s brothers’ garage, which flooded in the rain, and ruined a lot of our stuff.  Dear Lord.

But, even with all that, there have been so many sweet things in this season too.  My brother and Jeni welcomed their first little girl, Junia, who we got to live with at my parents’ house for a few weeks.  We have gotten a lot of great family time, late nights chatting, early morning breakfasts and book reading parties.


Both boys are in a book-reading phase right now.  We go to the library every week, get close to 20 books each time, and then read them all in one sitting, and then over and over again.  Jax especially can’t get enough.  I love it until about the fourth time through on any given book.

My friend and I are homeschooling preschool for Kelton and his little friend.  We do it twice a week, and it’s been sweet and fun for all of us.  Although, if I’m being honest, it’s only two months in and I *might* be tired of lesson planning/prepping already.


We’ve started a new tradition of saying our highs and lows every night and it’s one of Kelton’s favorite things.  If we forget to do it, he will wake up in the middle of the night and ask for it.  His lows usually involve something he didn’t get to do or buy or watch.  And his highs are often getting to see friends or hang out with mom and dad.


Jax has been a HANDFUL lately.  We are afraid to say no to him.  He can throw the longest, angriest tantrums and I don’t feel like I have the distraction factor going for me like I did with Kelton.  He was fairly easy to redirect in dire moments, like a grocery store meltdown.  Jax, not so much.

But he’s also so much fun.  He’s saying a handful of words, but his favorite are cheese, boo (book), Da, Mama, mi (milk), mo (more), NO, and Uh Oh.  He’s FINALLY night weaned. Thank the dear Lord.  And maybe sleeping a tiny bit better since.  Fingers crossed that it starts to make more of a difference soon.


While Kelton and Jax definitely fight over toys and space, they mostly enjoy each other.  Jax wants to do everything that his big brother does, and so far, Kelton finds this wonderful and hilarious.

And so here we are.  Thanksgiving is tomorrow, Christmas is around the corner, and life doesn’t always stop for us to catch a breath.  It’s what I love and hate about it.  So in the spirit of sanity, here are some things that I’m loving right now:

  1. The Chief Inspector Gamache novels by Louise Penny.  There are 12 in the series and they are crime fiction.  But not scary, gruseome crime, because I can’t do those.  More “who did it and why” kind of crime.  They are so good.  I’m on the fifth one right now.
  2. The Popcast podcast.  Knox and Jamie chat/duel back and forth on pop culture issues.  There’s no politics or heavy discussions.  It’s all light and funny and I LOVE listening to them banter back and forth. (They also get me through LONG bedtimes with Jax).
  3.  Exercising.  I feel so strange writing that.  I’ve exercised a lot in different seasons of my life, but after Kelton was born that came to a BIG halt.  I still did it sporadically but never consistently and never pushing myself.  And I’ve never been one to enjoy exercising.  I’ve always done it because I should.  But the other day I was in a body pump class, and I was doing my one millionth squat with the barbell on my shoulders and I was hating it, but at the same time, for the first time in maybe ever, I felt strong.  I felt like I was helping my body and heart and mind, and it wasn’t about losing weight or toning or anything except feeling strong.
  4. I mentioned this already, but reading with my boys.  It’s such a nice way for us to connect, I like to read, and it’s fun to find new books at the library each week.  Plus, then they are still.
  5. Christmas music and decorations.  I’m a sucker.  I love it all.

And now it’s time to go check on my chocolate pie and prep for a big day tomorrow.

Wishing you turkey, hot cider, and neutral dinner conversations.


I realize it’s a month late.  That is a great depiction of our summer sweet boy.

You turned four and I hung balloons and wrapped streamers around your chair and even attempted a Paw Patrol cake, because I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my time than shower you with mementos of how special you are to us.


Four.  I can’t even stand it.  Four is no longer baby or toddler or even really little.  Four is so BIG !  (I know I’ll look back at this when you’re 10 and laugh a little).

You are sweet and wild.  You have the most sensitive spirit underneath all those boy wiggles and climbing tricks.  You worry about other kids when they’re hurt, you pay DUTIFULLY close attention to Jax when water or bugs are nearby, and you rub my back and tell me I’m your best girl.

This summer when we spent some time in Big Bear, we went for a walk on a dock one day.  Jax was squirming and screaming, wanting to get down and walk.  So I let him, following along very closely.  You did NOT like this.  You ran next to him yelling at me, begging, pleading, crying.  You kept saying, “pick him up!! I don’t want him to fall in the water.”  You were so worried, so serious, so precious.

Brandon is afraid you got this worrying from me, but secretly I think it’s wonderful and I hope you always watch out for your brother like that.


With the sweet age of four also comes a lot of big boy anger and frustration and boredom and we’re learning to navigate those waters together, sometimes well and sometimes not.  You make me a little crazy and then I’m not patient enough or calm enough.  We’ll get it down though, won’t we?  As Natalie Grant says, “You’ll have a seat to the front row of everything I don’t know.” But we’ll do great things you and me, love.  I’m not too worried.

You make us laugh with the crazy things you say, you have a devotion to your shows, you love getting new books from the library, and you still like your quiet toy play time.  Your sass makes me laugh most of the time, but I really try and hide it.  Your current favorite is:

Me: “Kelton, I said no.”

You: “You said no, daddy said no, Jax said ahhhh, and I said yes.” Defiant stare-down.

You made me a mama and you light up my heart every single day.  I can’t wait for the adventures this next year will hold.  May it be a year of laughter, adventure, wildness, kindness, and love.

You are my shining star and my best big boy.


That Homeless Tour

On July 1 we swept floors and spackled holes and stained wood.  We cleaned windows and scrubbed toilets and wiped down all the surfaces one last time.  The boys ran around the open spaces like it was a whole new world.  They didn’t seem too concerned with the hustle and bustle, the empty places where their beds used to be.  With all the hostility and sadness that went into leaving our home, it took every ounce of my willpower to clean everything.  But I told myself I was honoring the home that rocked our babies and gathered our friends and took the brunt of airplane and car crashes.


And that afternoon, after a long day of cleaning and throwing all of the last minute items into boxes and cars, we walked one more lap around our home.  We took pictures and ran our hands along the original wood paneling.  A friend sat with us and helped us remember memories from each room, little pockets of joy to take with us.  Moving is always a lot of work, but sometimes leaving a place is a relief or moving on to something better or a new adventure.  For us, though there was some relief to it, it was leaving behind a home we dearly loved and the only home our boys had ever known.  So it felt sad and a little surreal.  But as I closed the door one last time, I knew we were doing the right thing.


And so began our #homelesstour2016.  When we were moving out we had an offer in on a home with my parents.  We waited four long weeks to find out that we weren’t going to get that home.  It was the one thing I kept holding onto.  Yes, we had to move.  Yes, it was hard.  But we might get to buy a home!  With THREE bedrooms and a yard!!  But it wasn’t meant to be.

Since we’ve moved out of our home, we’ve lived in five places in three and a half weeks.  It’s been a mix of fun and adventure and long nights and exhaustion.  We are settled a bit right now, but on the lookout for a new home, hopefully close by with two bedrooms, a little yard, and no lead.

In the meantime, the boys are happy and busy, like always.  Kelton has only mentioned “his house” a couple of times, but it’s always the saddest.  The other day he told me that it was hard to keep moving and he just wanted to go home.  Break a mama’s heart why don’t you?? But as long as he has his Rescuebots, Transformers, and Paw Patrols, he is mostly happy.  He turns four (!!!!) next month and we are going to homeschool preschool for one more year before doing pre-K next year.  (Moms, if you’ve homeschooled or unschooled for preschool, I’d love some advice or resources!).


Jax is his usual spitfire self.  He’s becoming so expressive with his facial expressions lately, loves running laps around the house with his big brother, and still wakes about five times every night.  He can throw a tantrum with the best of them, but also melt everyone’s hearts with his curly hair and silly smiles.


Brandon and I feel like two ships passing in the night these days.  Moving, living out of suitcases, reorienting our schedules every few days.  But we’re getting into the groove of things and have snuck in a few fun outings like his work party to the Del Mar racetrack or a quick meal here and there.


It feels a little like the world is at a tipping point.  So much death, so much hatred and anger and sadness.  And then our personal little corner corner of the world is dealing with sick family members and death of close friends and not having a home.  Many days I feel like I’m running on fumes, not feeling because it’s easier to just keep moving and getting things done than to sit in the sadness that has been these last two months.

But there are still so many moments of joy.  Pockets of happiness and laughter and I get to live this life‘s.  And so we keep marching on.  And maybe next time I write, we’ll have a new home.  A girl can dream.


On Moving and Moving On

It’s been quiet over here on the blog for the last couple months.  Partly because it’s been a long, exhausting, confusing time for us, and partly because life is just busy.

We are currently four days away from moving out of our home.  This is the longest Brandon and I have lived somewhere since we got married (almost 4 years!), and it’s the home we brought both of our babies back to.  It’s the only home Kelton and Jax have ever known, and it holds so very many sweet memories.  Unfortunately, it’s not ending on such a happy note.

You’ve probably heard me mention that our sweet little Jax had super high lead levels in his blood, which led to all kinds of check-ups on him and our house.  In the end, after a lot of indecision, hostility from our landlord, legal issues, and still high lead levels (but going down), we really were left with no choice but to leave.  We went from thinking everything would work out to realizing we had two weeks to pack up our entire home and get the kids somewhere safer/healthier.  I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with city inspectors and public health nurses and attorneys.

And packing up a house with two little kids in tow? Not such an easy task.  As I pack a box, Jax unpacks it.  Kelton notices toys he hasn’t cared about in a year and suddenly wants to play with them (though this is also true about Brandon).  And packing while trying to work, go about normal daily tasks, and avoid any contact with an angry landlord is quite tiresome.

We aren’t sure what our next steps are or where we will live exactly, which makes this whole situation a little more….shall I say exciting?

But even though it’s all ending badly and I’m tired beyond a haven’t-slept-in-4-years-tired, I think this change is probably for the best for all of us.  I don’t really want to keep my kids from playing out front, or crazily monitor dirt and shoes in the house.  It’s time for us to move on to what’s next.  We’ve always been a little bit adventurous and all over the place anyways. (Just not since having kids).


The boys don’t seem too concerned with all of the packing yet.  Except tonight I asked Kelton if he was excited to move to a new house or sad about leaving this house and he told me he was sad.  He told me he was going to miss all of his stuff.  Sweet little heartbreaker.  I assured him all of his stuff was coming with us.

There’s also been a lot of good busy this month.  Brandon’s brother and family moved back to San Diego and only a few blocks away.  My brother and sister-in-law are back in town to have their first little one, who we will get to meet next month.  So we’ve had lots of family time, park dates, dinners, and cousin time.

I helped facilitate an Enneagram Training Workshop for a large group last weekend and led one myself for some staff at a small nonprofit a few weeks ago.  We’ve stolen away for morning trips to the beach and walks to all our favorite coffee shops.


Kelton is always making us laugh with the things he comes up with.  He’s smart and attentive, in ways we are sometimes a little frightened by.  The other day he told me he couldn’t go to swim lessons because he was sick.  I asked him how he was sick and he told me he had lead in his mouth! The things little ears pick up on…

Jax is a little spitfire.  I sometimes watch his tantrums in pure amazement.  I still don’t think Kelton has ever thrown a tantrum as long as some of Jax’s are these days.  It makes me laugh a little bit, that tiny ball of energy and will.  He’s also pure delight in his pointing and head bobbing and dancing. Music and animals are his favorite things. Oh, and mama (and her milk, mostly).


As always, the hard is linked into the wonderful.  So that’s where we are now. I’ll try to be better about keeping up to date on here.  Although it may be a little tricky while we’re living the nomad life next month. 🙂  I’ll leave you with this, the sweetest of sweet.


(Now if he would only do that at night).

So Here We Go Again

Most of my mornings begin around 4 AM.  I’ve been up on and off all night, tired and begging God for just a little more sleep, but with a little one that can’t quite settle and needs more attention than most.  He nurses and cries and nurses and cuddles, before starting all over again.

Around 7 AM, he is up for good, and we rouse ourselves out of bed and into the living room, bleary-eyed and not quite sure how we will pass the time until the big boy gets up and things really get going.

Some days I wake up and I make coffee and feel optimistic about the day: “We will go on a walk, and make some pancakes and yes, this will be a good morning.”  Other times I want to cry and crawl back into my bed; my sweet, beautiful bed that I haven’t been able to wrap myself up in properly for years.  Those blankets want to cocoon me, but the littles just won’t have it.

I think about my perfect day, the day that would start with me getting out of bed before anyone else is up.  I’d have slept all night the night before, a long peaceful sleep, so I can get up early and steal some quiet moments in the morning.  It would be sunny but crisp, so I’d start a fire in the fireplace and make myself a cup of coffee, strong with a good dose of cream.  I’d wrap myself in blankets and sip my coffee while reading.  Not reading to learn or set goals or achieve more, but to get lost in someone else’s world for a bit.  I’d say a few prayers, chat with God about my day and what my littles are up to and why I’m feeling a little run down.

And then I’d hear their first stirrings.  I’d hear that curly-haired one year old, chatting to himself, ready for mama to come and get him.  And he’d give me that irresistible smile and reach his chubby arms out to me, and who wouldn’t be smitten?  And his three year old brother would follow a few minutes later, waking with his long hair all a mess and saying, “Mommy are you up??”

In reality, my mornings unfold with me stumbling out of bed, holding the cheery one-year old, the one that is blissfully unconcerned with the fact that he kept his mama up all night.  My older one DOES come out of bed, long blonde hair all in disarray, asking if I’m up.  And we all hold each other on the couch for a bit, one of them thinking he hasn’t had quite enough mom all night, one of them actually hasn’t had mom all night, and one of us thinking this is the sweetest, but dear God I’m so tired, can we all just sleep a little more? 

And the day is relentless after that.  There is food to be made and clothes to be dressed in and laundry to be done.  Breakfast crumbs litter the floor and little boys run wild and every pillow on my couch has become fair game for a large fort.  Every day I feel the tug of war between letting them be little, letting them run wild and join in their games, and helping them learn to share and clean up and listen to mom, for the love.

Every day I feel the weight of teaching them kindness and their ABC’s and the importance of play.  And every day I know I do things wrong and I do things right.  They throw tantrums and roughhouse and laugh loudly.  They are little boys, wild and free and still so uninhibited.  I’m just one woman: a little OCD and high-strung, trying to play while simultaneously keeping the house tidy and put together.

We all three work on patience and sharing and time management.  Children have a way of shining a light on all the things about yourself you really thought you’d mastered by now.


So some days are good and some days are bad.  Some days feel littered with sweet moments and laughter and stroller walks around the park.  Others feel cluttered with too much impatience and short fuses.  Some nights I put them in bed and whisper apologies for being unkind or stressed.  I know they’ll forgive me come morning.  In fact, they already have, those sweet little faces.

I shower them with kisses and remind myself that we played hide and seek all over the house today and I read them several books and laughed at their stories.  We had a lot of good today, just mixed in with all the exhaustion.

And so here we are again.  Night has fallen and the stars are out.  You both breathe quietly, deep in slumber for the time being.  I run my hand along your bodies and whisper prayers over you.  There’s not much sweeter than a sleeping child.  Everything else falls away.  I know I’ll be up too many times tonight, and that’s when I’ll be yelling curse words at Brandon and bargaining with God, but for now; for now, you are sweetness and curls and pouty lips.

Right now, you are all the things I would put in my perfect day.  So sleep tight little ones, at least for the next hour.  I’ll be seeing you again soon.


« Older posts