messy me, trying to have it all.

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Messy is a feeling that looks different on everyone, and new each time. I recently read a piece that had the headline;        “Family, Relationship, Sleep, Job, Exercise; Pick Three” and it hit home. Hard.

I’ve been waking at 6am to work on writing goals, pitches, take classes on different aspects of blogging and social  media, and write posts for this page. It’s been exciting! I wake without trouble, not tired by the ideas, and instead buzzing with whatever tasks I’ve written for myself.

I’ve taken the energy I had for Exercise and let it flow into this space I’m creating for a Job. And that worked for a bit.  My newfound work, ambition, and schedule overshadowed the negative self thoughts  that typically accompany a workout slump.

I’ve thought a lot recently about those of us who walk the line. Who are not depressed. Are capable of getting going when we need to, and don’t have a clinical diagnosis. But still struggle. Where the slumps can feel long, the feelings or clouds don’t lift, and the thoughts begin to grow into really cruel words. I hit that point and knew that it was time to shift things around again, and find a new way to be motivated.

I reached out to our Strong and Free, Women Supporting Women Facebook group for some advice… and left with a thought I chewed on all day after. The idea of taking stock of myself and deciding what Maintenance looks like for me. What do I need to put back into my day, or take out, to maintain my heart and brain better? While still going after these goals I feel the brain space, and motivation, for.

I thought about whether a full stop break from exercise would be best, to guiltlessly embrace the pounds and softness of the new job, full time homeschooling, and taking on a couple of new side projects. I sat in that idea for quite a while, until I remembered that has never worked for me. Walking the line of depression means that I need to know what saves me and what doesn’t. Trust that what works for some, may not work for me, in short; Know Myself. This also should come along with the caveat of, judge less. Judging someone for prioritizing their evening run, or afternoon workout just as we shouldn’t judge someone for saying “this is a less active season” and leaving that be. One size does not fit all. Walking the line is hard.

Exercise is my lifeline. I’m not great at it. I’m not fast. I won’t at all proclaim to be “super Fit!”. I can’t do many real pushups, I’ve never done a pull up, running feels like lead feet every time, and it’s just as tooth pulling to press play on a video for me in the evening as it is in the morning. But once I’m going, and my body is in motion, I feel different. I don’t feel bad about myself in any way. I feel like I am doing it. And so quickly, I feel the chemical change in me, endorphins! and I’m grinning through squat jacks and ending the workout feeling like a new person.

My Undone, messy, has taken so many paths. It’s looked like me crying to Charlie with a newborn in my arms, enorged, and wondering when I will ever sleep again. My messy has looked like me drinking too much, making regrettable decisions and waking up feeling sick and uneasy. Messy has been crying after reading too many Facebook posts, and wondering if I’ve made the right choices for my daughters. Messy before was always heartbreaking. Exhausted, overwhelmed. This Messy is different. My little family, and me, have grown up a bit.

My home is relatively kept, I feel zeal and excitement for Home-School, side projects, and all the hopes and dreams I have for writing. This is a messy, undone, and slightly overfull time in my life. I think it’s true that you can’t have it all, but for this little season, my messy is me trying. In brief moments, I do have it all.

I started a new workout program last night, it’s meant to be 21 days straight, but I plan to finish it at my leisure, not feeling awful when I put off a day. Grace is the factor that will change me. Grace is the evolutionary addition to my Messy. It will give me the space to have it all, but not quite perfectly.

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Transition Time, Back to (home) School

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StimulateTheSenses #CollectiveBias

BACK TO (HOME) SCHOOL

As each of their playdate buddies has been packing up and heading off on the school bus, it’s gotten clearer and clearer, back-to-school is here, no matter how deeply I dig in my heels. Our home has been in full SUMMER VACATION swing for months now. Transitioning from endless beach days, slow mornings, cartoon filled afternoons, and a general “whatever goes!” vibe, into Back To School, routine, schedules, and places to be… early… is tough.

Embarrassingly it’s hardest on me as my girls are amazingly go-with-the-flow and love routine as much as they love sporadic camping trips. But the days are beginning to shorten and I’m starting to feel the pull towards roasting veggies, cozy sweaters, chapter books read aloud to start our day, and pulling out and cracking open some curriculum. This is our second year home schooling, and I am realizing how much setting up our ‘school space’ is an enormous part of the transition from Summer to Autumn, for me. Part of that involves using a few different essential oils, like these two I’ve been using recently from Nature’s Truth – Calming and Focus.  I’ve been diffusing the calming blend, more for me than anyone else, and I notice that our home feels less frantic. The roller on focus blend has been coming to my rescue as my brain goes wild with ideas and options and all the “we have to study this!” and “I’m not doing enough!”.

We end up doing the majority of our school at the kitchen table, a park bench, the car, on a road trip, in a hotel room, at the cafeteria table at our supplemental school program… you get the idea. However, there is something to having a special space, just their own, where we can set out the schedule, I can sit to read to them, and they can organize their tools just how they like; it’s been very important to all of us. One of the components of traditional school that I loved the most, growing up, was my desk. Having a space to organize and focus at, and decorate on my own – and I knew that having a spot like that was paramount to giving my girls the experiences they will enjoy in our homeschool journey.

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The space we created is a flip down table, so we can fold it away for when we just want a cozy reading space or have guests over. Our school year hasn’t quite started and already this little table has been getting daily use, as the calmer and less frantic feeling of fall is settling over us. I’ve been reading aloud each morning from The Magicians Nephew and the girls have taken to sitting and coloring at the desk while I read. It’s been amazing how palpable the shift from Summer to Fall feels just by adding in this small bit of routine. Diffusing the lavender and calm blend is a gentle way to supplement this transition. I have also put a few drops in our baths here and there, spiked my homemade room sprays (half witch hazel, water, and several drops of lavender or calm oil from Nature’s Truth). I’m really looking forward to adding more schedule and routine to our days, and seeing how our productivity and learning changes and grows.

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Here are a few of my go-to tips for making that move from Summer to Fall:

  1. Quiet your environment. Use the shift in weather as a time to shake off the summer habits. For us, summer was a time where we started our mornings with TV. We are dropping that habit and picking up this reading out loud one. I’m waking with the kids, adding reading into our morning while the oatmeal cooks. It doesn’t have to be reading out loud, but any small shift into a morning routine that involves your children is a good way to move into Fall, no matter what their ages.
  2. Set an intention for the day. The girls and I are doing this together. Deciding what today will be: will it be a home day, an adventure day, a productive day, a journaling day, a movie day, we talk together and figure out which/what combination we will be creating.
  3. Smells. I’m a big smell person. Fall for me is baking, roasting, incense, all of it. So giving essential oil defusing a try was an easy leap for me, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at it’s positive effects.
  4. Cozy. In the PNW the weather has begun its turn into fall, as our mornings and nights get chilly, and with it I’ve been transitioning our decor. Adding in far more big blankets, floor pillows, and warm light lamps. When it feels cozy inside, it’s easier to be excited for the grey and rain, instead of missing the sun and beach.

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I saw these oils at Walgreens and was happy about 1. their quality and 2. their price. At our local store they were on sale, so buying two to give a try to help us snap out of our summer obsession wasn’t going to break the bank and was easy to swallow. I chose to try a roller of focus for me because I’ve been struggling with really wanting to jump in with both feet into school this year. I’ve felt pulled between two extremes of Unschooling and Public Schooling, neither of which is the right fit for our family. I knew I needed all the help I could get to focus, calm down, and start some list making to get every ball rolling for my family.

Finding these oils was easy at the store, they are in the vitamin aisle, and all together in an easy to spot display.

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I have a little diffuser, but have my eyes out for one of the gorgeous wood ones, now that I know my family is a fan and that we can actually feel the benefits.  We are slow and steady stepping into Fall, and making it as gentle a transition as we can has helped immeasurably in all of us growing in excitement and readiness for this year ahead. Here’s to Pre-K and 1st grade, second year of Homeschooling, and as much Calm as I can infuse into this little house!

Also, here is a coupon code to make Nature’s Truth Oils even more affordable for you. To connect and learn more, check out their social hub Nature’s Truth  Let me know if you give them a try! Or if you find any other blends of theirs that you especially love!

back to, what?

Back to school is on my mind… with notebooks and corduroys on sale in every store I am realizing that the days are getting shorter and it’s time to start thinking about some routine again. It still feels strange to not be ‘going to school’ in the traditional way, I never (ever) envisioned us homeschooling, but year two, and here we go.

Being homeschoolers gives us a little bit of wiggle room with the dates on “back to school”. The district we live in starts this week (in august!) and I’m still clinging tight to all day beach days, my swim suit, and driving towards water whenever I get the chance. But, fall is coming and as much as right now is heat waves and water days, the rain and grey will be back in a blink, and we’re slowly readying our brains.

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Last year I went through all the hullaballoo of creating a homeschool space (with desks!), and then uncreating that space because it got zero use. Our schooling was in the car, on the go, at the kitchen table, around the computer, at the ocean, on vacation, and late at night when all of Noele’s brain was firing and sleep was… far.

This year, I’m letting Back To School creep in slowly. I’ve seen as the girls paw back out their workbooks, and begin to talk about their school friends and teachers (we attend a Parent Partnership Program through our public school that is AWESOME and provides free supplemental classes). I’m already seeing that this year will be very different.

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Ever is taking a far more active roll in school, we’re all sitting down and they’re excitedly doing math work while Charlie and I cook dinner.

This year I’m going to try and implement a *bit* more of a schedule to our learning, and hopefully that means a little more space for me to feel like I am getting a break and time to work on my own endeavors (like, this blog! Want to work together? email me!). I’ve never been a schedule follower, but my girls crave it and I can see how beneficial it would be. This year I feel ready to fill our planner up a bit, and get our educational ball rolling in new ways.

We have a science center membership (uh, did you know that you can get an annual membership to the Seattle Science Center for $19 if you qualify for ANY state assistance (even insurance!)?). And we’re gonna break it in. This is the year of math and science.

I’m still working on what kind of curriculum vs. unit learning we are going to be focusing on, but I plan to share more if there is interest. {let me know in the comments here or on FB} and about what worked for us and didn’t for last year’s Kindy experience.

(I have a post rattling in my head about being the most reluctant homeschooler… ever. But I can’t quite get it all pinned down, without feeling a bit like a jerk. )

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Needless to say, my heart is with the sun but my head is beginning to look for orange leaves and long sleeves.

Mothers Day

I wanted to share a couple of things. One is my post from my Facebook page, that you’ve likely seen. And two is my post to my girls on Mothers Day from my personal page. I’m sharing it here because today marked a big and really awesome milestone. I’ve written posts to my girls in some form or another, on some platform or another, every Mothers Day. But today, I read them all aloud to them. And they were still, and listened, and smiled, and cooed over the photos of tiny them. They’re getting big, and grown, and starting to understand it. How deep our love is. And how special and different it is. I’m so honored to be theirs, and today felt so big to share with them.

However, I am aware of what a deeply hard day this can be for so many, and so first I wanted to share from my page these words. I dropped tear after tear thinking of the hurting women out there who are aching for babies of their own. My heart breaks for those who give and give as Mothers, who put out mothering love and energy and don’t receive this day as their own for one reason or another, mostly all based in labels and cultural constructs. This day is hard and loud, and I hold you close today.

 

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Happy Mothers Day to you! You out there who nurture, who give, who donate, who love on others. Those who mother birth babies, babies birthed by others, babies that come over from across the street for a cookie and an ear, those who mother the kids who come through their line of work, those who mother with their hearts but not always their bodies, Happy Mothers’ Day to you. You who ache, you who yearn, you whose heart hurts, I am thinking of you today. Happy Mothers’ Day to those who are that stable person for a child, a teen, another person whose mama isn’t. You are doing the work, and it’s work that matters, regardless of what story your body or Facebook tells. This day is for you too. Take it, whether that is in a gentle thought to your heart, or a card, or a hot bath, or just a passing thought as you work yet another day. You are a strong Mama. No matter through what avenue or for what amount of time. I am thankful for you.

 

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Noele, meeting you was the single hardest thing I have ever done. Getting you out of my body, and to my arms was incredibly difficult, long, and scary. But we did it, together. We beat what every one in the room thought would happen, and you and I worked together through it every moment. Your Papa was the first to hold you, and your bond is deep and unbreakable. When you came to my arms, I felt what I had alway been come to a new and deeper fruition, I knew Mama was my name. You calmed and clung and nursed and gave me every gift in knowing you. We have continued to work together, learn each other, but have that deep and unspoken understanding between our matching round eyes. You are fully your own, and have been my guinea pig in motherhood. I’ve learned how to put the ideas I had into action with you, I’ve felt regret and learned to apologize, you are the best teacher and most forgiving friend. Thank you for allowing me to watch you grow, witness you as a person coming into your own more each day, but fully yourself ever day. You are curiosity and wild delight, you are grace and calm, and you are nurturing personified. I love you dear heart, forever.
 
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Ever, you are my spit-fire. Your birth was all redemption and beauty and prayer in action. You arrived into my arms, and were welcomed with total surprise (you came so fast!). I wept with pride in myself, and for us together, and your life has continued with that. We work together endlessly, we talk and talk through each obstacle and you have the endless ability of reflection. You came out scowling and crying and only wanting me, persnickety to the bone, and it’s only been recently that your shell has been allowing others (Nolie, Papa, and I have always had access!) to peek open to your deep security and willingness to allow others into your Joy and grin filled world. You are well named my love Ever Harbor Joy, you are always a moment away from a tight hug, a huge grin, and a quick joke. You have continued to surprise me, and put my ideals to the test. I love being your Mama and seeing your world unfold. You made the new baby mantra true in every way for me, when you were born ‘Everything is new again’ and it hasn’t stopped yet. Ever, you are wild and sensitive, gentle and talkative, particular and genuine through and through. I am so thankful to be your Mama and am honored to get to know you, and that you choose me daily in your arms. I love you dear heart, forever.

weekend.

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He’s reading books in ridiculous voices and their smiles are quick and goofy. She has loose teeth and absentmindedly wiggles them at every chance. Her tiny fingers find Ever’s and they squeeze hands as his silly Ms.Frizzle voice grow’s louder and more emphatic. I can hear their anticipation as the story grow from across the room.

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We drive in bright dappled roads, lined with tall trees, the warmth is out and bringing the calm in a way that only sunshine in Washington can. My hand on his familiar thigh as new music that cuts to the heart plays loudly and the road winds and winds to the beach. Nolie is surefooted on the path and Ever is snug on my back, the questions and conversation quick and bright and unceasing as both have mastered language and illuminating their thoughts into words. It’s new. The years and years of “what does she want?!” have ended and there is rarely a moment that we don’t know what both want, need, and are asking for. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s glorious. I’ll take my never ending talkers any day. I soak up their thoughts and ideas like a dry sponge as the trail descends and I feel Nolie’s hand tighten in mine and Ever’s body grow heavier and tired.

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There is space. We come home and dispersing into play is immediate. They spread like water into the corners of our home. Creating fairy homes, and Strawberry Shortcake adventures. Piles of books spread wide and fill every space as Nolie devours one after another after another. The window that sold me on this home has never let me down. It lets in the most beautiful and warm filtered sunlight onto my flaxen head babies as they are silent in their own space. Charlie eats and reads. I have time and I write. Their play and my typing are our afternoon symphony and it feels too right to be true.

Too beautiful to be my own.

A season I can’t fathom that illuminates with a  brightness that I turn my face to and soak up the vitamin D that this family puts off.

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And it’s only Saturday. 12419117_10101600455905590_6954619838839458809_o

New Year, current me.

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{resolution one: be more of a babe. And let Tiffany Burke take a billion photos forever}

For ten months of last year I was a new me.I was me with layers of growth and learning and grace packed onto of layers of self doubt, and hate, and guilt. I was a me full of depth, the oceans deep of past and present and growth into one, Me. I wasn’t the mantra of “New year; New me” I was living This Year, This me. And it was so empowering.

I spent the time finding and cultivating a community of health seekers and people who don’t scoff at selfies, laugh at progress and food photos, and who are also all steadily walking towards the same goal of freedom, health, and deep self love. Wether in big strides, small stutters or crawling along, I found some people.

I dropped off the path in late November, and allowed myself to indulge. It wasn’t in (just) sweets, and breads, and eggnog (those things were fine. Hard on my body and skin, but fine and delicious, and by in large very worth it). What i really gave into, indulged in, were my deeper layers of guilt. Of self deprecation. Of “what’s the point anyway.” and in that I lost some growth. It’s not just body. It’s heart and brain that I found so much freedom in last year. It was going to bed each night feeling confident and calm in my head about my choices for the day. It was growing muscles and strength and skills. It was headstands, deadlifts, and plank times. It was self love regardless of scale, acceptance of my shape, it was growth in my marriage and confidence. It was all of it. It was a new me, because the growth and layers on top of my foundation were all so shiny. But I chose to indulge in the old ways of hurting myself.

And I want to say it was pointless. I want to say it was stupid. And I want to believe that it was more proof that I can’t do it.

But that is a deep lie.

And these past six days I have began to rebuild the familiar growth. It comes so much quicker now. I am waking up and choosing health with each meal, love with each thought, and caring for my insides. Not just my gut. But my brain. Towards the end of October I had really begun to delve into the power of positive thinking, it seems to cliche and trite, but it works. Repeating true, positive thoughts. Again and again. Taking each negative thought captive and casting it off. I’m back to it.

Because I refused to let eight weeks of indulging in harm to mean a new year full of self hate. Instead I started early. I woke up today, New Years Day, ready and full of compassion for my practice, my heart, and myself.

My intentions for the new year:

To live cliche. Because I am just that person. I love them. I’m cheesy as all get out. I want to do all the joy filled cliche’ out there. I want to live Actions Speak Louder than Words, I want to Dance Like No One is Watching, Any Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine, As Beautiful as the Day is Long, Every Cloud has a Silver Lining, Laughter is the Best Medicine, and on and on and on… I love em’ all and plan to embrace what a cliche I really am. Proudly.

To end the year stronger than I started it. Simply that. Not slimmer, not smaller sized, maybe even larger. But stronger. That can mean in heart, or mind. That can mean in biceps and glutes. Stronger.

To be more like my girls. They give freely, love heartily, and trust with open palms.

 

Happy 2016. It’s a hot coffee, family growing up, muscles getting stronger, body being more loved, kinda year. It’s a long baths, try new things, read more books, be read to, kiss deeply, and hug tight, kinda year.

New year, same me, who I love so much.




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Other resolution. Be more like those two. So themselves. So six. So three. So fun.

My ‘un-homemade’ holiday.

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This is a bustling season in our home, more bustling this year than ever before. The local Giving Tree I help head up is endeavoring to care for 250 kids this Holiday season, the girls are busting at the seams for all things Christmas (light displays, shopping, baby Jesus arranging, and caroling all day long, cold weather hiking, Light Parades, alluvit), and I’m in the deep spot of dark days and hard decisions (just family stuff, nothing terrible, just big heart stuff) and bright spots and falling deep for our growing-up family.

Consequently, our typical M.O. of all homemade has been replaced. The girls each asked for one thing “a makeup set” and “a baby set” (one guess who asked for what one?). Neither is really makeable, and both are cheap (or, at least, the way I am doing it is, sorry girls.)

I was feeling bad about it. Feeling down about how little we spend on our kids for the Holidays. Feeling bummed I didn’t hot glue that whatever or sew that whose-it-whats-it, or bake enough cookies for the neighborhood/teachers/friends/everyoneintown. But then I dropped that.

I dropped advent. Because it’s only good and working (and filled with that deep anticipation of The Day that I want to convey), if it’s fun and exciting and not filled with money sucks and stress about “OMG WE HAVE TO GET TO THE DONUT PLACE TO SING BECAUSE IT IS SING AT THE DONUT PLACE DAY!”

So, instead, I dropped it all.

We have a few homemade gifts, a few bought gifts, and a lot of “I love you. Lets just buy each other something in February.” between Charlie and I. And guess what? My store-bought (goodwill!) stockings are mismatched and wonky, and just fine. My cookies made from a mix? taste great. And my second hand ballet slipper purchases are going to blow the girls out of the water on Christmas morning.

Today I’m drinking cinnamon coffee, contemplating healthy choices in body and heart, and feeling good about getting on track. It is merry and bright indeed.

Also, we had our first family game night. And it was amazing. Ever totally “got it” and shocked us all with her Go-Fish prowess!

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In the mornings I shake out the comforters and blankets from my bed after the girls have run their feet to their room to check on the dollies. I feel that last of the nights heat in a wind over me. And I can’t help but smile. These are the days.

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Somehow in the space between “My baby has a room. And she’ll sleep in it. ” and “should we start sleeping side ways to fit them all in?” we became co-sleepers. Nolie was in her crib from week four on but has now turned the cozy corner and comes to our bed around 2am and falls deep to sleep curled up to my back. Ever has been in our bed from birth. We started laying her in her own little floor bed around 11mo and she took right to it and sleeps the first half of the night there and then I wake when I hear her little footy pajama feet pad out her room, through the kitchen, and into my bed. I love it. The best of both worlds. Our room and bed is our own till the world is asleep, and then the comfort of hearing the chorus of my deep sleeping family till the sun starts to flood around the shade.

I have found peace in our nights. The times I am awake, and they are many, nursing-cuddling-back rubbing, I pray through our family in thankfulness (have you tried this? Instead of praying for change/people/ease/stuff/whatever I have been just working through a list of family and friends and just thanking God for the attributes and love they just pour out. It always leaves me lighter, and it helps me fall right back to sleep) and try to turn my “OMG YOU CANNOT WANT TO NURSE AGAIN!!” into “This will pass. Meet the need and this will pass.”

It’s been nearly 5 years (next week! What?!) and I have yet to consistently sleep through the night. And, I am okay with that. I am expectantly and excitedly dreaming about that time, but I am staying quiet in the moments now. The time when I can realize; I have easy nursers, loud gigglers, great eaters, and lame sleepers. You win some, you lose some. And each morning I wake up with a snoring husband, a latched on toddler, and a murmuring “loveyoutoooooebberever” preschooler, I feel like the overall is win.

 

Thankful.

It’s been a hard day. But the thing that always pulls me back is thankfulness for the moments.

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Independent play. Listening to her describe her dreamy world around her and talk to the drawings she creates.

10454209_10100937022516420_5635396936974717384_oA late, and needed, nap. Growing things, found things, and a tidy home. Can you spy Everbee?

10468641_10100937022501450_4003436335990859520_nAll hung up, all ready for play, all closed up for the night.

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Weekend Projects. Slow and Steady.

We have been tackling small projects each week/weekend and here are this past weekends triumphs!

10269503_10100882726246580_4871572076497308987_nThe back steps before.

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And (mostly done) after! Still need to box in the rails and remove one side (deck is coming soonish!) but still a huge improvement!

10251965_10100882726236600_609847520750316675_nand…. because we are crazy… after lots of talking and thought we decided we are done with the bunk bed season (no one was sleeping in the top bunk and it always freaked other Mom’s out when their littles climbed up, and we host a LOT of playdates, so for the sake of mine and everyone else’s sanity! we cut them apart. The girls are THRILLED!)

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What did you do with your weekend? Any fun projects, were still scheming whats to come next weekend!