Notes from the Messy Beautiful

Thoughts from a mama, wife, friend, and dreamer


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.


All the Moments

On March 16, we got up early, took showers, triple-checked lists, and finished stuffing last minute items into suitcases.  We woke and dressed the boys, packed plenty of snacks and headed to the airpot for our annual trip to The Farm.  Despite all my anxieties about the five hour flight, the two hour layover, the next flight, and then the two hour drive, the boys did SO GREAT.  It was *almost* easy.  And once at the farm, surrounded by our dear friends, it was five days of fun.  Kelton ran nonstop for three days.  He could barely be bothered to get dressed or eat or even watch a show.  He took full advantage of the older kids, tackle tag, and fishing.  He takes after his daddy in his version of heaven.  And us adults chatted and ate cookie cake and took turns getting away for a little while to catch up on all the life that happens in a year or two.

Sometimes life looks like travel and excitement and friendships.


On March 27, Easter morning, we had grand plans for an Easter egg hunt and brunch with my family and then beach with friends in the afternoon, but Kelton woke up throwing up.  So Brandon and I sadly tossed our ideas aside and spent the day taking turns sitting with Kelton and running around with Jax.   Resurrection can look like holding buckets for little ones and rubbing their backs.  New life always comes after everything else in us is emptied.

(Lucky for us we got a picture with the Easter bunny the day before Easter)

Sometimes life looks like sickness and muddled up plans and serving.


Then our sweet little baby turned one on March 31.  I still can’t quite believe this is true.  We fed him chocolate chip pancakes and sang him happy birthday and he grinned at us with chocolate all across his mouth.  On April 3, we invited some friends to celebrate the special day with us.  We again sang him happy birthday and he stared in silent shock, refusing to touch his cake until some of older kids gently stuffed it into his mouth.  Once everyone stopped looking at him, he did some good work on it.

Sometimes life looks like celebrations and candles and cupcakes.

j2 k 2



On April 6, Jax had his one year well visit at the doctor.  Unfortunately, some of the routine blood tests they do came back with some concerning results, which led us to many more doctor visits and blood draws.  His lead levels are high, really high.  A normal lead level should be 0-3 and his is 24.  Kelton’s are also elevated.  So we had a visit from a environmental investigator and a public health nurse and they think they found the problem (in our dirt outside our house).  Our landlord will be notified and is legally required to fix the problem, but until then I can’t let the boys play outside and I have to rigorously dust, mop, and vacuum the house as often as possible.  And the boys have to get blood draws every 2-4 weeks.

Sometimes life looks like fear and doctors and hard work.

Today the boys woke up early and we sat on the couch and read some books. Kelton chatted to me about his Paw Patrol cars and Jax ran in circles around the ottoman.  Anxious to get out of the house and do something, we headed to the pool with some friends on this gorgeous April day.  We splashed and laughed and rested in the hot tub.  And then we went home and ate lunch and settled in for naps (or rest times for those of us in the house that don’t nap – i.e. most of us).

Because sometimes life looks like slow mornings and ordinary days and little ones fighting with each other and then laughing at each other.


There are the ordinary days and the extraordinary days.  There are the good days and the bad days.  And there are just the days.  It has been a long, full, interesting month and a half.  And we get to wake up tomorrow and see what it holds for us.

And we’re thankful for that.

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