Messy is the New Beautiful Photoblog

This is beauty to me:


My ER kid. I love that he is so active that he can’t keep himself out of trouble.

I’m not saying that I’m happy my son broke his arm, but you have to admire his all-in-spirit.

It reminds me of that quote from Finding Nemo:

Dori tells Marlin, the helicopter dad, “Well, you don’t want nothing to EVER happen to him, because then nothing would EVER happen to him.”

Photo on 8-16-15 at 3.05 PM #2

Simple joys. Beauty inspires happiness.

Never underestimate the power of beauty.




Kitchen Picnic (and hands colored with markers)


We were so excited when we found out he only has to have a short cast this time, and only for 3 weeks!!!!


Dan’s new buddy kept shooting him with Nerf bullets, so I helped him load up his own Nerf gun and sent him back out there.


Our free-spirited JD REALLY hates wearing shoes.


Granddaddy and Nana mailed the boys new Legos. It was the biggest deal ever.


This Spiderman mask has been hanging on this picture for at least a week now. I was walking past it and just found it amusing. Looks like the work of Caleb.


Joshua hiding in my messy school closet and playing video games. If you had three brothers, you’d hide too.


Every morning. Beautiful mess.


Just cuteness.


Dressing them alike was easy. Getting a great photo, not so fast.


His arm is broken, but he can still ride his bike and dribble his basketball.

Dad and kid hike day

Alan and a few other dads took their kids on a hike.


Step 1 in planning my new schedule: listing all the things I want to do everyday. It’s completely unrealistic, but this is my 1st draft. I’d like to schedule in more prayer and walk time. Don’t worry. The boys do more school work than is listed here. This is only the parts that I have to do WITH them. This is my part alone.


“I want Nana to see my new book bag. Can you see it?”


Most exciting beach day ever! Gutsy whale to come that close to shore!


humpback whale—Look how close!!!


He just kept swimming back and forth and back and forth.


He started yelling, “Beach!! Beach!!!” as we neared the ocean. Cloud 9!


We couldn’t find little plastic shovels and buckets in the house, so we brought a pot and a real shovel. Done. The kids were quite happy.


Ok. We did find the one little blue plastic shovel.

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“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.”   —Mother Teresa





Our Very Own Big Blue Live

Our Very Own Big Blue Live

Caleb is holding up one of the millions of anchovies (I think?). Where there are fish, there are predators! Look at the ground! See the fish, hoping for a wave to push them back out to sea!

So this weekend our Classical Conversations group got together for a beach bonfire over in Monterey Bay.

PBS and BBC are also in Monterey filming Big Blue Live, which hits t.v. Monday, August 30. You can bet we will be watching. They are here to film the incredible wildlife that is in the bay this time of year.

Can you imagine our excitement when a humpback WHALE decided to join our bonfire and provide the evening’s entertainment?

My friend Amy took this video, and she said I could share it with my friends and family. Enjoy!! This creature swam back and forth all evening, feasting on the bay full of sardines. Just click on the blue video link below, and it will play:


Where I’ve Been

For my first year of home schooling, I worked out a schedule and adjusted it repeatedly until it WORKED. That was last year. I had a one-year-old.

Year 2: Three weeks in. I now have a 2-year-old, which means less nap time. I also added in teaching time for the 3rd kid. That’s right. Daniel was 3 last year, so I wasn’t actually spending much time teaching him.

Plus, we decided to return to kids’ sports. Oh, and I now go to 3 doctor appointments a week. The physical therapy ones last over an hour.

So there’s been this glaring problem.


I have no schedule. Not really. I can’t figure one out.

I haven’t actually told anyone this, but God knew. He must have told my friend Kim because  yesterday she brought me a book to borrow. Kim has been home schooling for like 15 years. I also ordered a copy, and it will arrive soon.

It looks like this:



I’m in the process of going through this book to build a schedule that will work for this busy time of life. I needed all the help I could get!

This is not a sponsored post. I tried to make it one. I emailed the Maxwells to beg for a sample. They sent me a fiction novel instead. But you see, I need the schedule first so I can find the time to read the novel…..Oh, well! At least I tried! 😉

So this is where I’ve been. I will return to blogging regularly once I have gotten further along in this transition.

I miss reading more than 1 minute of Facebook at a time, reading my favorite blogs, and sharing in your joys and crying over your sadness!!

I do not miss being up on the latest news. Alan told me about the reporter being shot. I happened upon the Josh the Pervert Duggar story, and that’s the extent of my knowledge. All ‘news’ is bad news, and I don’t miss it at all.

Thanks for the support!! I have always said that I have the BEST friends, family, and blog readers.

One funny story for the road:

Daniel was at Cubbies last night, and they had his name written on a chart. He was supposed to put a sticker by his name. He looked at the chart. He said, “My name not on here.”

“Yes, it is,” his teacher said.

“No, it not.”

She showed him his name; it was the first one listed, first and last name, at the top of the chart.

He pointed to the “Daniel” part and said, “That my name.” Then he pointed to the last name and said, “But that NOT my name.”

They explained the last name concept to Dan.

He replied, “Oh. My mom does call me that sometimes.”

Okay 2 stories:

How Daniel said his memory verse last night: “God loves us, and him did send his son!” said with a healthy dose of Ghetto attitude.

Dan the Lovable

Dan the Lovable

I’ll be back to blogging and reading regularly as soon as I get the schedule worked out!!




Four Things to Learn From the Duggars That They Didn’t Mean to Teach

Did any of you see the news? The Josh Duggar news? Turns out the latest is that he has cheated on Anna, using an online cheating service. I will not advertise them by even mentioning their name.

I have followed the Duggar family since 2009. That’s 6 years. I’ve read their books, I’ve watched their show. I’ve been influenced and inspired by their values and practices.

I feel so incredibly sorry for Anna. She married a man that she thought was everything she wanted. Now she has this nightmare to live through.

But I’m glad that Josh was busted. There are STILL lessons we can learn from the Duggar family, lessons that they didn’t teach on purpose. More like observations! Here are the ones that stick out to me the most:

1.No matter how well you shelter your children, no matter how well you try to hide from the world, sin is still here. It’s in us.


2. No matter how many values we teach our children, if they don’t choose them for themselves, there’s nothing we can do but pray. This happens everyday in America. Parents sacrifice everything, set all sorts of boundaries, and we teach and teach and teach.

Ultimately, each man chooses for himself what path he will choose.

3. I wish that from the beginning, the Duggars had chosen a different title sequence for their television show.

No, they didn’t really have a theme song. Instead, Michelle went through and named all the ways their family is different from “the average American family” i.e. “all of us.”

I wish instead they had said something more like this,

“Hi! We’re the Duggars! People are always asking to film us, so we say ‘Come on in.’ Just know it’s crazy in here. It’s messy, and we have dealt with dark issues in our family. We are no different from you. There are just a few more of us. We’re Christians, but not because we did anything to earn that. We’re Christians because we believe in the forgiveness of Jesus. We make mistakes. So do our kids, and we’re just regular people, doing our best to become better and make the world a better place.”

But that’s not what they said. Instead, they talked about how little t.v. they watch and stuff like that.

This is a great reminder for us to not fall into that trap ourselves!

How often do we consider ourselves righteous because of the good or different things that we do?

I still think the Duggars have contributed many good things to society. They challenged our idea that every family should have 2.5 children. Hey, maybe a big family would be fun!

Their girls are incredibly sweet, and I expect to see great things from them. Their Growing Up Duggar book is an encouraging read.

The Duggar books gave me good ideas for wrangling my children, but I will rest easy knowing I do not do everything exactly the same as they do. Things didn’t turn out perfectly for them.

And you know what? My boys won’t turn out perfectly either. Let me just go ahead and give you the news: My boys will disappoint you eventually. I will too. I will disappoint you.

4. As a Christian parent, I start to wonder, “Well, gracious, these parents did so much. How do I keep my kids from falling into the pornography trap?”

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that Alan and I had 2 great sets of parents to learn from. I think it’s time we all stop looking to t.v. stars or experts we’ve never met for parenting advice, and think about what worked for our own parents. And if you had bad parents, find other mentors, friends, or relatives that you can learn from.

I’m all for listening and reading about parenting, but it all must be taken with giant grains of salt. We all have different parenting styles. We all have different children. The more babies I rock, the more I am convinced that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all-approach’ to raising children.

No matter how we do it, there’s that whole nature thing. Each person is responsible for their own choices. I addressed this in my testimony: My Story of Faith.

We will always teach our boys the truth from the Bible, and there is no topic of conversation that we will shy away from. We discuss ‘hot topics’ with our oldest two boys often.

However, at the end of the day, they will make their own choices. I can be Jesus to them to the best of my ability (which is not very good), but I cannot choose Jesus for them. Only they can do that.

But you can bet I’ll be praying!!!





A Sense of Belonging

Me, Aunt Linda, and my sister, Amanda

slightly damaged old photo of Me, Aunt Linda, and my sister, Amanda: I was probably 2.

I’ve noticed that I often share my struggles with people rather than my joys. I think it’s more encouraging to hear that other people have a hard time, than to listen to bragging. However, today I don’t want to think about my problems, so I’m just going to share good news, and pretend like the bad things don’t exist.

Other people are always doing that, and it gets on my nerves, but I’m going to be THAT Mom today. 😉

The boys: A home-schooling family of six just moved in across the street, and I can safely say it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to the boys, you know, since the last new kid moved in.

I have prayed for more home-school friends for us. The biggest reason I wanted them to have home school friends was to give them a sense of belonging. That is such an important, basic need. Don’t you think? Some of my hardest times were when I knew I didn’t fit in anywhere.

Yeah, yeah, I get it. Embrace being different, but I still feel that a sense of belonging is good, especially if you’re ‘belonging’ is in a good place, not so much a crack house.

The broken arm: Joshua now has a cast, and we were ecstatic to learn that he only has to wear it for THREE weeks! Wahoo!! This one is so much less complicated than the broken arm that Joshua had three years ago.

I forgot to mention HOW he broke his arm. He fell on a playground, hit his head, and then fell backwards on his arm.

Joshua’s orthopedist is kind of funny. He’s not a pediatric doctor, so he was the very FIRST person to ask him, “How the hell did you do that?” Ha!! That was a new one. We liked him though. He was very good about explaining things.

The blog: Home schooling 3rd grade, 4th grade, and Pre-K, while also taking care of a 2-year-old is so taxing that I have decided not to accept any more sponsored post opportunities. I just can’t do it.

But have no fear, writing is my favorite thing to do, so you can still keep up with us here.

I love what Crystal Paine said in her Make Over Your Morning course about keeping something for yourself. Being a mom does not mean that we neglect our other God-given talents.

It does seem like when you add something new, especially something as life-changing as motherhood, that you have to set aside other things for a season to focus on your new challenge.  Gradually, we get to add back in the things that we enjoy. Some women never get that privilege.  I’m thankful that I did.

Everyone’s season is different. It took me three years of focusing on just being a mom before I crept back into writing. I’m still creeping, it seems!

I think more and more about writing that book! One of my goals is to get back to that!

John David

I think it’s especially cute the way that he asks us to put him to bed when he is tired. He takes a nap everyday around 12pm. If things get busy, and no one has put him to bed on time, he will ask, “Bed? Bed?”


Daniel loves writing letters, no not actual words, but simply “IiiiiDDDDddddIIIIFFFFC,” and he writes them everywhere he finds paper. He also loves baseball, and I wish you could see him throw! He winds up, kicks one leg in the air behind him, and even though he is only 3 feet tall, you can’t help but cringe for fear that the ball will hit you in the head! He throws that ball with EVERY ounce that’s in him.




We were at the library the other day, and as I was checking out, I realized that Caleb and Joshua had both picked out the same Chemistry book. No, I did not tell them to choose a science book, and yet there were 2 copies of this book. They were both excited about it.

I would never!

I also enjoyed hearing Caleb ask me to check out the next book in the Little House on the Prairie series. We are now reading Plum Creek, and it is the most peaceful time of our day. What am I saying? I have FOUR BOYS. It is the only peaceful time in my day….


I’m pretty sure John David thinks that “Josh” means “third parent.” JD adores his Josh!



I can’t believe I thought to ask Nana to come this week. I asked her over a month ago. What would we do if she weren’t here this week? I would not have made it. I would not! Also, Nana knows how to clean off hard water stains. My sink looks brand new.


Positive Thoughts–because I need these in the worst way!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”    -Jeremiah 29:11

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”   –-Psalms 139:14

“We can’t conform ourselves to other people’s molds. But we try sometimes, don’t we?”       –Jill Duggar (Growing Up Duggar, p. 2)




I hope you all have a peaceful rest of the week, don’t break any arms, and don’t conform to anyone else’s mold.





“You’re Gonna Make it After All!” A Night at the ER

My crazy week is over. There’s a fresh new week to take on, with no mistakes in it yet.

Rest assured. We will add plenty. :)

But this week my spirit is at rest. It won’t be much easier. Joshua broke his arm Saturday, and it will be re-cast this week.

That means we will have to manage……dumdumdum……the health insurance circus. How many hoops can we make this lady go through? They are the best at that.

JD threw up Saturday night, which means we are now paranoid city.

I’m so thankful Mom is here!!

And you know who else is here? The Holy Spirit. I have peace in my soul. Everything will be okay. Last week I had no peace, and we all have times like that.

So today I have the Mary Tyler Moore song in my brain. I might just make it after all.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”       Galatians 6:9-10

A lot of funny things have been happening. These people just keep me in stitches. We laugh so much.

The other day, JD decided he wanted to use the potty.

He used it all right. He sat on it, he stood on it, he turned it upside down and wore it as a hat, and then he finally dragged it to the big potty and stood on it and tried to go.

Then I put his diaper back on him and took him back to the living room. I am not ready to potty train JD just yet. It’s not that his time isn’t here, it’s that MY time isn’t here.


Daniel has started saying “I”! It’s so exciting! I thought this day would never come. I am that unrealistic.


Joshua and I enjoyed hours of bonding time in the Emergency Room Saturday, from 7:30-10pm. That was the place to be this weekend. We talked and talked. I have four little boys, and yet I only have one that has been to the ER this year, and that one has been THREE times!!!

In a year!

The nurses are beginning to recognize him. “Oh yeah! You had all that poison oak on your face! How did you break your arm this time?”

Joshua’s triage nurse was a nice young man, and he shared with Joshua that he had broken both of his arms before, because he was a gymnast. Well, this was right as I walked up from registration, and I said, “Oh, you were a gymnast?”

He said yes, but then he was finished, so he walked away.

As I sat there, I realized that I might have hurt his feelings with that comment, if he took it the wrong way.

A few minutes later, he called us over to the next part of triage, and he said to me, “I was a MALE gymnast.”

Oh, poor guy.

“Oh! No, I was just thinking that you sound a lot like Joshua. He’s always doing flips and stuff on his trampoline.”

Bless his heart. I never cease to find new ways to embarrass myself, especially if I talk to people…

It was such an interesting night at the E.R. Joshua and I talked about how things can be both sad and funny.

Emergency rooms are the embodiment of that! There was the man sleeping in the floor, the lady who came in because a cat scratched her, a sick baby who we truly felt bad for, someone had a stroke, and a pitiful little girl with her foot covered in blisters.

I MIGHT have jokingly compared Joshua to our dear Aunt Janet, who stuff just happens to. Joshua got a good laugh out of that, and you should have heard him re-telling Janet’s stories!

“Joe, Joe, come over here,” Joshua said, “look at my toe. That’s not water, Joe.”

He told several other Janet story snippets.

“Wow, Joshua,” I said, “You remember Janet’s hospital stories better than I do.”

They are always listening, well you know, except for when you want them to.

I texted Alan with Joshua’s progress. He texted me back, “JD is throwing up.”

Fantastic. The funny thing is that I knew this was coming. Isn’t it cool when God occasionally will give you a little heads up?

We were out the other night, and a little girl who was playing with my children casually mentioned to me, “I threw up. At home.”

Yes. I was flipping out internally. She was playing with Daniel. Does she mean today???? Always listen for omens…

Not much sleep was had here last night, but I feel full of joy and hope for the week ahead. My spirit has been quieted by God. Spiritual turmoil is the very worst kind, to me. The things that scare me the most are out there, and God is here with me. Come what may, everything will be okay. 

Thank you again for all of your prayers and letters of encouragement this week! It made all the difference!!!

Here are a few photos from our first two days of school:


Is it bad that I already misplaced Thursday?

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And don’t forget to enter the ESPRO Sports Cleaner Giveaway, for your laundry and carpet stains! The winner will receive 2 towels, cleaning wipes, and 2 bottles of stain remover. This is something anyone could use!

Back to Fall Sports Giveaway

Disregard the prices. All of this will be free to the giveaway winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to read the full product review.


Back To Fall Sports Giveaway!


Did the first week of school hit any of you as hard as it did us? Phew!

I do want to say thank you for your prayers. By Friday morning, I felt like I was myself again. That battle is finished, and I can’t tell you how much your prayers and letters of encouragement meant to me.

Now it’s on to the next thing, right?

My mom has arrived, and she is downstairs taking care of JD and Daniel for me. When I left to come up here, Daniel was begging Nana for “suyup toast.” That’s french toast, for those of you who do not speak Daniel.

With three boys going into fall ball this year, what better time for a Giveaway of cleaning products?


We do love to get dirty.

But actually, they are all playing soccer this fall instead of baseball. Either way, I will be doing TONS of laundry.

Ha! It’s funny what things excite me at my age. Offers for baby products? Eh… Offers for breastfeeding products?  Well….

Offers for stain remover, HOLD THE PHONE!!  Did someone just offer me cleaning products!? YES! Send them right away. I will be happy to write you a review!

The Back to Fall Sports Espro Giveaway

Supplies ready!

First, I tried it out on chocolate:

chocolate stains

Chocolate Before

As you can see, it worked extremely well on chocolate, 100%:

After Espro

Chocolate stains after the Espro

I also had great success using it as a carpet cleaner. The carpet in my dining room is my #1 nemesis. Who puts carpet in a dining room??? It’s not like we have an eat-in kitchen, either. This is where we eat.

Such is the life of a renter…

Carpet stains after Espro

After, at a glance

My carpet has a blotchy color anyway, so it was hard to get a good photo. I was able to get up 98% of the stains with the Espro.  I just sprayed, scrubbed, and vacuumed.

carpet cleaner

You can easily tell, in this photo, where I used the cleaner and where I didn’t.

With the dirt yard that my boys are constantly tracking through, my carpet takes an insane beating. I make them take their shoes off in the house, but it still gets extremely dirty.

I was very pleased with Espro’s ability to clean the bad spots out of the carpet. I regret that I didn’t get a “before” picture…Well, I mean, sort of. That would actually be kind of embarrassing…

I was also impressed with Espro as a stain remover. It got 90% of the dirt that ‘Dirt Boy’ embedded into his t-shirt, and it was especially effective at little unidentified spots on the boys’ clothing.

Now here are the quick facts you may want to know about stain removal. I have found these tips to be highly beneficial over the years. 

Cold Water is best for:


dairy products, and

body fluids


HOT Water is best for:

mega dirty anything (except blood),

cloth diapers,

grease or oil stains


And a few fast facts for the ESPRO Sports Cleaner:

  • Environmentally friendly: no bleach, butyl, phosphates, chlorinated, petroleum. or other ozone depleting solvents
  • Can also be used as just an odor eliminator
  • Safe for use on all fabrics, even silk
  • Safe to use around pets and children
  • Will not harm colors
  • Used by over 100 Collegiate sports teams

Also, this company is based in Alabama and Georgia, and the products are  manufactured right here in the USA. 

I hope you will find the Espro Sports cleaner as helpful as I have! You can buy it at many Walmarts. However, just in case yours doesn’t carry it, here’s a link to where you can order online:

Now it’s time for the Giveaway!!! Here’s what you could win:

The Deluxe Package: 

The Deluxe Package is an upgrade of the $10 TV Special. The Deluxe Package includes: One 64oz Refill Bottle, One 32oz Spray Bottle, One Stain Wipes Pack (12), Two Microfiber Towels. A $35 value.



The Giveaway winner will receive all of this, but the 2nd bottle of Espro will be MUCH bigger.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you’d like to enter, but you have trouble, send me an email, and I will enter you manually. Thanks!!!    

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