Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What Is Going On In This Picture!?

There are a lot of photos on my phone. Most of them never get posted anywhere. Some of them are pretty strange too. Especially if you don't know the story behind it. That's why I decided to pick 5 random phone photos and see if you can figure out for yourself just what in the world is going on in these photos. Or maybe I'll just tell you. I hope you'll have fun with this as I introduce my first installment of...


What is going on in this one is pretty obvious. Batman is sitting in his highchair watching cartoons. This is not an abnormal occurrence in our home.


My parents humungous cat is laying on the dog bed. 


SJ is wearing my knee high boots with her pajamas and they fit perfectly! 


Speaking of pajamas, I came into the living room one day to find that Ezie had started up the Yoga DVD and was doing his morning workout. 

Here are some bonus shots I took while spying on him. 

Hey, sometimes I need to grab the console for balance too. There's no shame in that. 

He's a little behind Rodney here in the upward dog position.

Lastly, the warrior pose. Namaste. 


 What is going on in this picture is "Discreet bladder protection". I had J pick up some pads from the store and let's just say you should never send a man to do a woman's job.

So those are my 5. Show me what you've got by posting one of your random phone outtakes on instagram along with the hashtag #whatisgoingoninthispicture. That is not a one of kind hashtag, but  if you tag @messymom I'll know what it's about. If you don't have Instagram feel free to share with me on Facebook, Twitter, or via email. I'll pick one to post on the blog along with a shout out next month when we do another round of #WhatIsGoingOnInThisPicture? 

Now go check that photo stream! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring on the Summer Plans

Today starts spring break for my children. J's college had their's a couple weeks ago. We don't have any major plans for the break and we still don't have the typical spring weather. We did have snow flurries over the weekend though!

Now that I have kids in school I almost feel like spring gets overlooked.

Spring is like the Thanksgiving of the seasons. 

You know how it can be difficult to really focus on Thanksgiving when you have Christmas to plan? I am pretty hard nosed about keeping it in order, but I have heard complaints.

Anyway, it's the same thing this time of year. You have to start making summer plans so early that you inevitably end up racing through spring. See what I mean? Spring break and Thanksgiving are great, but often over shadowed by their big brothers Summer Break and Christmas.

J has already had to register for his summer classes. I may have been a little premature when I talked about our big breakthrough in case anyone is keeping up with all of that stuff. I won't even go into details because the moment I announce it on the internet it will change again. I do know his schooling won't last forever. I also know that God has a plan and J will have a job. That's all I know though right now. Which isn't easy for me, because I am a planner!

SJ has registered for her summer classes already. I know that sounds silly because she is preschool, but as a special needs girl she gets to go to some special classes for all of June and a the very beginning of July. The cost is already covered which is a huge answer to prayer. This will be her third year in summer school and every year we have hiccups with financial aid. The Lord has always made a way though. It's a great reminder that He is forever faithful.

Z will be going to summer camp for the first time this year! We have yet to register, but I need to do that ASAP. I am a little nervous about this milestone, but I know it will be fine. I grew up at this church and I have a very close personal relationship with all of the leadership, but it's still hard to send him away for multiple nights. I know he'll have a blast though. He is extremely excited. He'll get to swim and zip line and most importantly learn about God. This children's ministry has an awesome worship band too, so I am jealous that I can't be a part of that.

So, those are the reasons why I am thinking of summer when it's still 38 degrees outside. Because I have to! These activities have deadlines. Before you know it I'll be registering them for the next school year. My baby girl is going to be in Kindergarten! But, I am not thinking about that right now. One step at a time.

Do you have any summer plans yet? 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Putting Huggies® Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers to the Test

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Huggies® for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
This post brought to you by Huggies®. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Messy Mom .


Between my three children I have been changing diapers for almost 8 years now. I have never really kept track of how many, but without a doubt I have changed thousands upon thousands of diapers. So when I had the opportunity to try Huggies® Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers I said Bring it on!

Ezie is a 2 1/2 year old, 27 pound heavy wetter. When it comes to testing the endurance of a diaper he's the toddler for the job!

I was already a fan of Huggies® to begin with. They're durable, affordable, and from what I can observe they seem comfortable. But it gets better, Huggies® Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers are now available at Walmart at a new LOWER PRICE! Plus they have a new and improved Leak Lock System with quick-absorbing layers for up to 12 hours of protection. 12 HOURS! They're perfect for nap time, bedtime, road trips, or anytime.

I've dealt with my share of leaky diapers. I remember trying everything to prevent it. For example, when I was a new mom I had a friend teach me the double diaper trick to keep kids dry at night. It entailed wrapping your kid up with one diaper and then putting another one on top of that just before bedtime. I had another friend teach me the no drinks allowed after 6:00 rule to help prevent leaking. Sometimes these tricks worked, sometimes they didn't.

I don't have to worry about any of that with the Huggies® Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers! They provide protection against wetness all night long.

The fun Mickey Mouse designs from Disney were a hit and the fit was nice and snug with the flexibility that is needed for an active toddler.

In other words the Huggies® Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers stay put even when he doesn't!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Appliance Can You Live Without

Last Friday I wrote a post called "My Loud Dishwasher" and it stirred up quite a discussion. I implied that I must be one of the only people left in America these days that was forced to wash dishes by hand. What I found in response was quite the contrary.

One comment after the other revealed that there were a lot more homes without dishwashers than I ever thought! The research was somewhat conflicting, but at best only 75% of homes in America have dishwashers. So I was right in that most homes do have dishwashers, but 1 out of 4 don't. That's a lot people without one!

There was an interesting article I read called "Death of a Dishwasher" which has some fascinating info about the trends of dishwashers around the world. US and Norway are the leaders for this appliance, but in most countries you aren't find dishwashers anywhere! They just aren't that common. A 2004 Washington Post article explains that many immigrants who have come to America and had access to a dishwasher just ignore the the option entirely! In these cases they are more likely to be used to store snacks or as a drying rack. One Chinese-American man asked: "Do you have to wash it beforehand to rinse it off? And if you wash it beforehand, why do you even need to use it?" I have had the same thoughts, which is why I am notorious for under rinsing and then chipping off little flakes of melted cheese crusted onto the plate after it comes out of the dishwasher.

I became curious how dishwashers ranked compared to other appliances. So
I did the best I could navigating the web to find data. I believe these percentages are fairly accurate, but they weren't easy to come by. So please don't take the following statistics as cold hard fact.

The Estimated Percentages of Homes in America With The Following Appliances

Central Air Conditioning 72% 

Dishwasher 75% 

Computer 84% 

Washer and dryer 85%

Refrigerator 95% and 2 refrigerators 30%

Microwave 95%

Television 95% and the major majority of them have more than one set 

Some of these really surprised me! I don't have a microwave or a washer and dryer set. Until now I had no idea how uncommon that was.

Apparently the trends of our culture do not reflect that of my preference.
Here is the order I would put these 7 appliances with #1 being "couldn't live without it" and #7 being "I could give it up pretty easily".

1. Refrigerator.

2. Computer

3. Air conditioning

4. Washer and Dryer*

5. Dish Washer

6.  Television

7. Microwave

I think refrigerator is a deal breaker for obvious reasons, but honestly I would almost rather eat out or eat non perishable food than go without a computer. Then when I remembered that I could use a computer at the library I compromised, but that was a close call!

I have lived without air conditioning and it was brutal, but the above statistic did not include window units so there are a lot more than 72% of homes that do have some form AC and the few that have no AC whatsoever probably live in cooler climates.

*I put a star by washer and dryer because I have it as number 4 even though I don't actually have one, yet I do have a dishwasher and Television. I hate having to bring my clothes to a coin laundry. This is not the first time in my life I have been in this position though. If it were up to me I would pick washer and dryer over dish washer any day, but I live an apartment where that's not an option right now.

I've lived without a television before and I could easily do it again. I am not a big TV person, but I do enjoy having one.

Lastly I don't have a microwave and I don't miss it. Except for one major exception- reheating warm drinks. Everything else I am totally comfortable using the oven or toaster, and we love our jiffy pop. I'll probably still do stove popcorn just for the fun of it, even when we do have a microwave again.

So what about you?

 Are there any on this list that you don't have? Is there something that's not on the list that is your absolute favorite?

Let me know in the comments!

Monday, March 23, 2015

2 Years of Speech

 SJ said her first word just barely over two years ago, when she was three years old. She said "up" and pointed to go upstairs. I freaked out. Just a little bit.

From then on I started documenting everything. Okay, maybe not every word she said, but I have notes on my phone that I use to keep track. The name of the list on my phone from that time was "Words SJ Said Without Prompting"

What that means is that she said them spontaneously without anyone coaxing her and cuing her to say a specific word. She was able to parrot a lot of words, but she didn't necessarily know them. Things really took off in the fall of that year.

The next year, in 2014 she started putting words together

This time last year she said "Mom. I hear phone!" and it was a huge breakthrough.

The words just kept rolling in and she was beginning to really communicate her needs.

Over the summer she was saying sentences and I started a new list called to "Sentences SJ Said"

or "Stuff SJ said at Christmas time"

So she progressed from sounds, to words, to spontaneous language, to multiple words, then sentences and lastly conversations.

That is where we are now. Good grief, I am crying just typing this out. Sometimes it feels like we aren't getting anywhere, but as I look back I can see how far she's come.

I used to get really excited when I noticed her say a new word. Now she has so many words I can't keep track. Instead I find it cute when she doesn't know a word and I get to teach her one. Like recently when she asked the word for feather or honey. Or yesterday when she called the refrigerator a closet.

It's so hard to get video of anything. She'll be chatting up a storm, but the times I actually sit down to record something she is a vault. I do have some snippets of a 15 minute conversation I had with her while she was preparing a snack. Please excuse her wild end of the day hair and the disaster in the background. I don't call this space messy mom for nothing.

She has a LONG way to go before she is caught up. I'm proud of how far she has come though and I have to focus on that and remember my favorite Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11 to keep things in perspective.

I am going to paraphrase a little here, but you'll understand why.

For I know the plans I have for SJ declares the Lord, plans to prosper her and not harm her, plans to give her hope and a future.

Friday, March 20, 2015

My Loud Dishwasher

Most of my adult life I have been washing dishes by hand. I know it shocking that there are people in AMERICA in the 21st century that do not have dishwashers, but it's true!

Our old kitchen. The dishwasher is on the left. 
I won't go through all of the places we lived and why there was no working dishwasher, but washing dishes in a tub of soapy warm water was my reality for over 10 years, other than a short stretch of time before we sold our house in Texas.

We did a complete kitchen remodel and we went all out for the energy efficient stainless steel dishwasher. My favorite feature was the "top rack only" option for when you only had half a load of dishes.

I remember when we bought that dishwasher. We were at the home improvement store and the salesperson was showing us all the bells and whistles of their best appliances. We got to the dishwasher and he asked me if my cell ringer was on. I gave him a confused and reluctant Yeeees. Then he told me to put my cell phone in the dishwasher! I thought he was crazy, but you know what they say "always trust a salesman". Not really, but I was going with the flow. Then he shut the door and had J call my cellphone. The salesman grinned and looked at us like we should be just as excited as he was. My husband was nodding and looked impressed. I was still  confused until I was informed that the dishwasher was so sound proof that you couldn't even hear a phone ring inside it. Which must be a big selling point for some. For me it just meant that if the kids hid my phone in the dishwasher I was never going to find it.

So that was the time that we had a fancy silent dishwasher. The next dishwasher came when we moved into our current apartment.

What's teeny, tiny, and beige all over?

 Our kitchen.

It's the kind of kitchen you would find in a camper. See that row of white drawers in the foreground? We installed them. The kitchen originally came with a whopping total of 4 drawers, 6 cupboards, and literally two feet of counter space. It would be perfect if you were a single minimalist living in the 1980's. It's okay though, because one thing it does have is a dishwasher. It's clunky, old and it is LOUD. The volume is like having a monster truck rally in our kitchen. And I am totally fine with that!

When I hear that dishwasher spraying and swishing, heating and drying, I am just reminded of all the dishes I am not washing by hand. Sometimes when the rhythm of the noise is just right I swear it is to the tune of the opening chorus from Les Miserables.

If you are not familiar with The Work Song from the French Musical then just imagine the opening song from Frozen. Pretty much the same thing.

My word for 2015 is "good". I am determined to look for the good in things this year and that's how I feel about my dishwasher. It's good. It's not the best, but it's good. It is a blessing.

I know this is a really bazaar assignment, but I want you to listen for your blessings today. There are going to be the obvious things like birds chirping or children laughing, but go even deeper.

 I remember hanging out with someone and their heater kicked on. You could hear it rumble and she apologized because it was so loud.

No apology needed! We have heat. We can be warm. That's a blessing.

We all have a loud dishwasher in some form or another. Take that thing that could be considered intrusive noise and watch it become music to your ears.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

10 of the Worst Ways to Respond to Your Spouse's Insecurity

I know I said I would steer away from lists that began with "What Not to Say...", but I have to vent for a minute. Don't get me wrong, my husband gives me some of the sweetest compliments. I brag about him all the time, but sometimes he sticks his foot in his mouth! Granted, we as women are often guilty of trapping them in our self pity, but everyone once in a while we just need a little reassurance. Am I right?

For example one time I was photographing a wedding and I was pregnant. It also happened to be a wedding my husband attended, AND his ex girlfriend was there too. She was not pregnant. She looked great in a beautiful dress and there I was at that awkward half way stage where I didn't have a baby bump, but I didn't have a waistline either. I was wearing my comfortable, but hideous shoes with plain slacks and a collared shirt.

So in-between the ceremony and the reception I was explaining how I just felt dumpy and insecure. My lovely husband did not respond with Oh, whatever, you look fine! or All I see is the beautiful mother of my children.


 He said "Well, you're working." 

In other words, you do look bad, but you have a good reason.

To all the husbands out there, whether she asks you if she looks old, frumpy, or unattractive the response is always NO. No you don't. 

It's simple. Just refute the insult no matter what. Give her a hug, tell her you think she's beautiful.

Let's have a practice round.

Wife: I feel like I look so fat.

Husband: You shouldn't feel that way. You look beautiful!


1. I do too.
2. It's a mom thing.
3. You would be the perfect size in the 1800's
4. Why does it matter?
5. You just look fat compared to all of your friends. 
6. Well, what are you going to do about it?
7. Would a procedure help? 
8. What do you expect? You just had a baby.
9. It could be worse.

Or the worst response of all would be 

10. Why don't you ask So and So what she does to look so good. 

Unfortunately, I have heard almost all of these, although not about the fat thing. Except for one time when I did feel overweight and he said the 1800's comment.

I realize this message is going out to mostly women, but I just needed to get that off my chest. I think it goes back to the age old issue of women just wanting to talk about their feelings and men thinking we are inviting them to solve our problems.

Does anyone else have a husband that struggles with what I call "Foot in Mouth Disease"?
Or maybe he got the memo and he knows better than to agree with you when you insult yourself.

We love them either way don't we?

A Tale of Two Parties

Last week I shared all about SJ's Tea Party and what a dream come true it was.

 Around that time I  read about another party from Allyson at 

We each had a daughter turning 5 and both parties included


Here's the kicker, when Allyson wrote about her daughter's party on her blog and the title was "Why Our Parties Aren't Pinterest Perfect... and Why It's Okay With Me"

Allyson's post was not a slam against theme parties or matchy-matchy decorations. She was simply sharing her story and how there can be pressure to have a certain caliber of kiddie parties these days. She writes 
"It used to bother me. But lately I’ve been thankful I don’t have to live up to Pinterest-worthy standards and I can instead simply celebrate and enjoy being with my family."
 I think there are a lot of people that need to hear that! 

On the other hand, I wrote about my daughter's party and included a link to the pinterest board that I used to plan everything.

Granted my parties are nowhere near perfect, but I'll admit they are "pinteresty" and they do tend to circulate via repins.

And sometimes that makes me feel self conscious. I even had a draft for a post called "Defending My Pinteresty Parties" in which the first line said-
"I know all of you reading this are going to tell me I don't have to apologize for celebrating my children in whatever creative means I choose, but I guess I have to convince myself."
You see, I read a viral post on Facebook last year that was about children and entitlement. It said-
"In a way, we are just too into this parenting thing. We used to have birthday parties where A CAKE made it special and now it’s an EVENT." 
I read that and a little chip on my shoulder started whispering

That's you. The parties you throw for your kids are much more ellaborate than what you had back in 1989. 

Oh internet  satan, you have a such a way of knowing how to tear me down. I took it personally, until I realized my kids are probably not on the brink of materialism. The 3 of them share a bedroom and the 5 of us share one bathroom. They don't have a swing set.  They don't have the latest game systems or an iPad. We don't buy them Christmas presents (because they get plenty from their relatives) and they have never been to The Magic Kingdom.

 So the trouble isn't in throwing a cutesy birthday party (or going to Disney World). It's when you make your kids the center of the universe and feel like you have to satisfy their every whim. 

Once I realized that I felt a lot better. 

The point of all this is to say Allyson's party and my party might look different on pinterest, but the heart was the same. We are both moms that wanted to celebrate a milestone and we had a great time doing it. And it looks like the girls did too! 

SJ with her birthday cupcake on the left 
(photo by: Natalie of Messy Mom) 
and Eliya adding homemade sprinkles to her cake on the right. 
(Photo by: Allyson of All Our Days)

This post is for anyone out there feeling pressure to conform to one extreme or the other. Don't let the internet determine your celebrations! If creating a couple dozen invitations by hand is your thing and you are able to do that, then go for it. If you can afford to fork out the money to have an all inclusive party where you hardly lift a finger, then I say more power to ya! If you want to go 1989 style and cover a 13x9 cake with a store bought jar of frosting and call it a party then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Most children do not care if you have party favors that coordinate with your theme or if the cupcakes are store bought. They are just excited to get to be a year older. I know it's  been a long time since most of us have had those feelings, but it's true!

So give yourself a break. 

You are not solely responsible for putting the happy in their birthday and neither is pinterest.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Coping With Loss

"The only way through is through. As much as we crave short cuts or explanations or formulas, one day will end and another will begin, and it will be different until it isn't. Until it starts to slowly make sense, and we've found our balance." - Lisa Jo Baker

It's amazing how having a child diagnosed with a disability relates to so many other completely different life changing moments. The above quote is from the book Surprised By Motherhood, and she said it pertaining to becoming a mom. However, it struck a chord with me because I immediately saw how much truth was there for being a special needs mom. I also shared that same quote recently with a friend who was going through a completely unexpected divorce. It can apply to many scenarios. 

Most of us have at least one of those defining moments. The moment that separates your life into two categories; before diagnosis and after. If it's not diagnosis it might be before and after the loss of a loved one, a marriage, or your home. 

Something big enough to take you out of one life and put your into another. 

Or so it seems.  

It's also that one thing that imprints dates, ages, and places on your heart so that you can't go past them without tripping a wire

I read a book recently that says that we all have between 3-5 involuntary memories a day. Most of these stem from retrieval cues. 

 Psycholopedia defines a retrieval cue as "Stimuli that are used to bring a memory to consciousness or into behavior"

For me, this time of year is full of retrieval cues! That is why for the past couple years I spend a lot of this season revisiting the memories of when I learned that SJ was deaf. And that is why I would write blog posts like "The Anniversary" (2 years ago) or "That Emotional Time of year" (1 year ago). Because this part of the year is full of triggers for me. 

The first one is SJ's birthday. It's a significant date because in 2012 she turned two. I know I shared this all the time, but she had a well child visit that year 
which referred her to an ENT, 
which referred her to an audiologist, 
which determined that she was deaf. 

St. Patrick's day is also significant because that was the year she had a green eggs and ham party and we stocked up on all things green thanks to this Irish Holiday. When I see shamrocks in the stores I am reminded of that.

Easter is another one because that was at the "in between stage" when we didn't have test results yet, but we were starting to put the pieces together and realized that something was wrong. I remember having an Easter Egg Hunt at my Brother's house and my sister in law mentioned that she was trying to get SJ's attention and she banged on the slide, but no matter how loud it got SJ didn't respond at all. 

Last week when I saw signs going up along the road promoting Easter egg hunts my mind went back to a little two year old girl in a yellow dress and I remember wondering whether or not she could even hear my voice. 

I could go on and on. I am sure many of you have your own triggers, or as the official name puts it "retrieval cues"

Everyone has different ways of coping with loss, but for me sorting through the emotions through writing is helpful. I am the kind that needs to get it out.

 My mom is the same way. I think almost everyone benefits from talking through some of these major life milestones when they are ready.  After my little brother passed away there was a long stretch of time where my mom would gather up all the mementos of Zeb on the anniversary of his passing. Then should would grab a box of tissues and meet up with a friend to show them photos and talk about his battle with cancer

In Galatians 6:2 we are instructed to share each others burdens to fulfill the law of Christ, which I believe can  certainly apply to listening to someone as they process different stages of grief.

I don't care how long it's been since you dealt with that specific wound, whether it was recent or decades ago, sometimes things are pulled to the surface for whatever reason and you shouldn't feel bad if you need to revisit those memories. It may be comforting and other times maybe painful, but the fact is it's real. I once heard someone say in reference to grief "However you feel, is how you are supposed to feel". Obviously this isn't about emotions that are damaging to yourself or others, but sometimes we over think our emotions instead of just allowing them. 

I hope this message is an encouragement to you. If nothing else it brings more healing for me to write these words out. If you feel like any of this applies to you right now then I want to encourage you to find someone to talk to. Maybe it's a friend, a counselor, or someone you trust from church. Or maybe you are in the position to BE that person for someone else. The gift of a listening ear is invaluable  for the person that is struggling with loss at whatever stage that may be.

Even though there are no shortcuts, just remember you will get through this.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tea Party Part II

Yesterday I shared the tea party decor, but that's not what really makes the party. The party is all about the kids and watching their faces light up as they become royal princesses privileged to have the fanciest of parties! I LOVED seeing them enjoy all of the activities I had worked so hard on. You never know what kids are going to get excited about and they are not shy about telling you one way or the other. So I was prepared for any reaction, but what I got was shear joy! Here is what the afternoon entailed- 

As soon as everyone arrived the girls immediately went back to the "Tea Party Boutique". SJ's older brother made the sign for the door. 

The sad face is because he wasn't invited. He was a trooper though. Oh, and Siri helped him spell boutique. 

There were several beautiful gowns to choose from and a treasure chest full of hats, gloves, pearls, purse and best of all, stick on earrings. 

I'm telling you, it was the cutest thing ever. 

After they were all dolled up they sat down at the table and decorated their own teacups

They each had their own teapot too filled with apple juice. 

Then we tried our first flowering tea which was really interesting. 

You just place the "bulb" in the tea pot and pour hot water over it. 

The flower unfurls into it's own unique blossom right before your eyes.


The girls were enamored by it. 

After that it was time for cake! SJ had 5 sparkling daisy candles on top of her cupcake and she grinned the entire time we sang Happy Birthday to her.

During the party I had a slideshow on the TV of familiar characters in birthday or tea party settings.

I figured the kids would get a kick out of it and I was right! 

After cupcakes it was present time and thanks to all the input from you readers I went with Fancy Nancy Tea Party for her special book this year.

 I also found some Fancy Nancy playing cards to go along with it. I knew I was taking a risk on shipping, but I did not wanted to pay for express. I figured if she got her book late it wouldn't be the end of the world, but guess what? The package came right after the party started! I grabbed a box and some tissue paper and threw it on the gift table right then. What a blessing. It was all perfect. 

That was pretty much the end of the party, but the girls went back to the "boutique room" and played with SJ's new presents. 

I came in to discover that the stuffed animals gotten in on the action too! 

 I know I've gone on and on about the party, but it was so much fun for me to plan and throw. I really got to go back to that place of childhood where imaginations are big and the world is full of wonder. I am really happy with how it all turned out.

 Happy 5th Birthday SJ.