Thursday, April 30, 2015

#WhatIsGoingOnInThisPicture TWO

I  can't believe that today is the last day of April! It really did sneak up on me and I almost missed April's edition of What Is Going On In This Picture!? 

The idea behind the series is to pull random photos from you phone camera that could potentially need a bit of an explanation.

I have a couple more of my own silly moments to share with you, and as promised this time I am taking submissions from my readers. I was so happy with the feedback from last month. I went back through some of the ones you all sent me or tagged me in and it was so hard to choose! I got a great laugh out of all them! I'll be doing this again next month and posting more so please keep 'em coming.


SJ got this bunny sweatshirt for Christmas and it zips all the way up. She was very enthusiastic to get in character when she met the Easter bunny at the Library. 


This one definitely needs an explanation. My waffle iron automatically heats up when you plug it in. So when I opened up to pour in the waffle mix I found the Joker melted to the top half of the waffle iron! Luckily the non stick surface cleaned up pretty easily. As for The Joker, he had it coming. 

This one is from Angie Keith in Northern Kentucky. 
"Look mom. I made some new friends!" 

Maria Meyer, also from Northern Kentucky, sent me this one. 
She said after being repeatedly asked to zip him up she thought, sure why not.

This one is from Rosemary Fleming all the way from New Zealand. 
Everything was fine until her husband started moving furniture around. Now they have a broken home! Her husband promised he would fix it, but she said she would always know that he fractured their home! To which she received an eye roll. Luckily, their family is doing great, but I love the play on words! That's totally something I would do.  

Alright now it's your turn! Post your funny 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. If yours is chosen I will give you a shout at the end of May when we do another round of #WhatIsGoingOnInThisPicture? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Are Breasts the New Shoulders?

I've seen a lot of children/family movies lately where some of the women looked like they got their sexy wardrobes from a Bond girl. Seeing cleavage everywhere is nothing new, but it seems to be getting more prominent and mainstream everyday. Don't even get me started on swimsuits. When I am talking to a woman whose breasts appear to be coming up for air, I try to think like a good ol boy. Don't gawk. Look at her face. Be respectful. Unlike with men, it's not because I'm stimulated by all that skin. It's because some girls have their "girls" pushed up so high and their necklines so low that it really is an art form how they even manage to keep their nipples covered. Sorry to be so descriptive.

For years I have tried to ignore this. I don't want to be judgmental or legalistic. I was hoping that eventually I would just get used to it. Surely once we see enough boobs we'll all be desensitized and we won't even notice them anymore. 

Being as open and objective as I possibly can, I tried to compare cleavage to going sleeveless.

Not that long ago showing your shoulders used to be scandalous. My mother in law told me about a time her daughters were scheduled to sing a gospel song at church, but one of them had a sleeveless dress and so it was considered inappropriate for them to be on the platform and they were turned away. Pants used to be immodest as well and there are still plenty of cultures and religions where some of these practices are still in place, but it's certainly not the norm. 

So maybe that's how it is with cleavage now. It's something that used to be a big deal, but now it's not. There are modest ways to expose your breasts and I just need to embrace change. 

Except I don't buy that. To me it's still a big deal. Keep in mind this is my personal conviction and opinion as a christian woman.

I have decided that breasts are not the same as shoulders. 

People don't get shoulder implants. There aren't restaurants named after women's shoulders (ahem Hooters). Women don't sustain a newborn life with their shoulders. Children and men have shoulders, but they do not have mammary glands.  I know those are weird examples, but what I am trying to get at is that breasts are still sacred in my book.  It's not just the nipples, I'm talking about the whole organ. Medicalook explains "The glands are associated with the female reproductive system in part due to their assistance in attracting a mate as well as their role in nourishing a baby." In other words from a scientific standpoint female breast are not sexual organs, but they are largely associated with sexuality because they are in some ways part of reproduction. No matter how much we try to normalize it breasts are sexual and cleavage is provocative. 

There are so many different lines that can be drawn when it comes to cleavage and it's not a one size fits all issue (literally). My well endowed friends know what I'm talking about. This isn't about shaming women for having curves. It's about loving our curves enough to have some dignity.

I wear what I feel comfortable wearing. I went through a season where I beat myself up about the issue of modesty. Everyday I would obsess about every detail of my jeans, shirt, or dress and whether or not it could be something that would be a trigger for a man. This was bondage I had because of my past which I have thankfully been delivered from. I still want to dress modestly, but I feel like it's a who I am as a transformed and renewed daughter of the King not because of a modesty checklist. That's another topic entirely, but I just want to be clear that this isn't me looking down on other women because of how they dress. It's simply the stance I take for myself and the message I want to send to my daughter. 

I am not ready to just accept that breast are the new shoulders. It's such a lovely, complicated, mysterious part of the body and I don't want to exploit that. I want my daughter to know that unlike what you see on TV you can be beautiful, elegant, and feminine without having your breast on display. That's where I stand. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Paper Bag Masks

I don't know about where you live, but it's been cold and wet here. J brought home some paper bags not that long ago that he thought the kids could make masks out of. It was snowy at the time that we did this activity, but it occurred to me that's also perfect for rainy indoor fun year round.

You've probably seen this craft before, or maybe remember it from your childhood. It's not the latest thing, but it was new to the kids and they had a blast!

We decorated brown grocery store bags with paint (and some stick on circles that we had on hand) and cut out spaces for the eyes and shoulders. It's a little bit messy if you decide to use paint, but it really couldn't be any simpler.

My over achieving seven year old wowed us when he decided to cut the circles I gave him for eyes and turn them into ears for his tiger creation. 

The other two kids were a little more uh... eccentric with their techniques. 

In fact they were so heavy handed with the paint we ended up blowing drying the bags so that they could wear them that night.

Z eventually finished up (both front and back) using a mixed media approach.

When I posted these on Facebook I had someone ask where we found plain paper bags. Of course you can get paper bags anywhere, but they often have print on both sides. In this case we went to Meijer (a midwestern grocery store). I'm sure you can find them other places too though if you are on the look out. 

You can see the snow on the porch!

Next time we do this project I will definitely be more strategic with where I put the eye holes. The poor things were peaking out of one side the whole time.

Z's turned out so great. He did it all on his own too. 

The cool thing is it isn't just one time use. The bags fold up for easy storage and then you can pull them out for endless fun whenever you want! 

Hooray for paper bags! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Family Update

It's been a week since I have blogged! I would love to say the silence has been due to preparation for the great big Messy Mom blog party happening on May 10th, but I haven't even had a chance to work on any of that because life has been really intense lately.

Here is some of what has been happening. 

My photography business took a back seat for all of January and February. Things tend to slow down for on location photographers when it's freezing cold outside. Now that the flowers are blooming and prom/graduations and weddings are happening I am back in business.

I have some more "springy" photo sessions, but they aren't edited or watermarked yet. These are some from the past month though.

Two weeks ago my father in law had triple coronary bypass surgery. They moved him from the hospital to a rehabilitation center. It was a scary surgery that was a little concerning through some parts, but thank God that he is doing well. Now he needs prayer to be healed enough to be able to go home. Thanks for all of the prayers that have already gone out. I know the whole family appreciates it.

J's is almost finished with all of his technical classes and then he will start interviewing. His biggest project as a computer programing major has been to make a program that enables robots to play Tic-Tac-Toe. He finally finished that assignment and I know that's a relief for him. He also still leads worship for a church in Indiana. I don't get to go with him as often as I would like because it's a big drive to make with the whole family and if there isn't a photo shoot I need to be be at, there is a birthday party the kids are invited to. Or sometimes someone is sick, as was the case this past Sunday.

In other news, the lease is almost up on our apartment and it's been kind of a nightmare. We'd love to move, but J still has one more semester left of school and won't have a FULL time job until the fall. So that really limits what we can afford or even qualify for. However, if we get a 6 month lease then that means we'll move in the middle of the school year and I would hate to put Z through that kind of transition if it entails switching schools. We've looked at some places, but they don't stay on the market for long. So it's kind of pointless to even search until June when we are ready to move. I don't know how people do it! The timing and availability all has to perfect.

I am trying to focus on Psalms 3:5 

and Romans 8:28 

Z has one month left of school, but SJ goes a little longer and then starts summer school. Don't worry, it's not all summer and it's not all day either. Every kid deserves a break, no matter how much catching up they have to do. I just finished a conference meeting where I found out that she is going to the Kindergarten summer school!  So that means that she kind of starts Kindergarten in 7 weeks. I am going to be tuning into a Kindergarten readiness webinar next week. I really can't believe she's starting Kindergarten! One reason is because it's been such a long journey of just learning to listen and speak that I really didn't think she would be ready. On top of that I just can't believe I have two school age children. 

It feels like just yesterday they were both toddlers and school wasn't even on my radar. Back then those moms and kids that had school schedules and extra curricular activities were in another world entirely. Now I am in that category! When did that happen!? I know I'll turn around and be watching them graduate High School and I'll probably have the same thoughts. Time really does fly. It's so cliche, but it's true. It keeps going faster and faster. 

I don't want to leave out Ezie. He is two and half and on the go!

It's hard to see in this photo, but his pajamas have turtle cape and whenever he puts on a cape he instantly transforms into a super hero and blast through the room with his fist straight out in front of him. He has done this since he was just a year old and it is hilarious.

At home he's a really easy toddler to deal with. He doesn't get into too much. He's not needy or whiney.  However, if he is not confined he has me questioning if I am even qualified to be his mother. I literally can't keep up with him. The worst was at Chic-fil-A when he darted out of the play land and ran towards the exit. I ran after him and the rug in front of the door slid out from under me and I fell on my side with full force. I had a huge bruise up and down my leg from that one. He just runs off all the time. I've tried using a harness and he hates it so much that we just become immobile. Hopefully he'll be out of this stage soon because sometimes his antics make me fear for both of our lives! 

That's not even all the latest, but it's certainly enough for now. I hope everyone else is enjoying the spring so far. I should be back to writing more soon.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sleep Habits

I sleep Indian style at night, with my feet tucked behind my knees. My husband hates it.

I change positions a lot once I fall asleep so I don't stay in Indian style (or criss cross apple sauce for the younger generation) all night. I have never met anyone else that does this, but when I blogged about it several years ago I had a comment from Krista S that said 

"My husband also sleeps indian style, but he even crosses his arms too! Very annoying...after 18 years though I've gotten used to it."

Out of all the times this has come up in conversation that one comment, from someone I don't even know, is the only time I have heard that there is someone else out there with this same quirk. For my husband's sake sometimes I will compromise with what he calls "the figure 4", where the leg closest to him is straight and my other leg is still bent.

My other strange sleep habit is that I start off with socks, but then I kick them off of my feet after a few minutes. By the end of the week there is a pile of socks either collecting at the bottom of the bed or sometimes they've fallen onto the floor at the foot of the bed. This only applies in the winter. So I guess I just really like my feet to be warm.

The thing I find interesting is that I have friends that swear by keeping their feet out of the covers at night.

 Then lately I've been seeing things online that suggest it's proven to help you sleep better

So even if you've mastered your sleep position and the warmth or coolness of your feet, the atmosphere of the room is another issue you have to deal with.  

My husband likes music when he is going to sleep, but I don't. I usually turn it off once he's out. I'll get in trouble for this one, but he listened to music through the night in his college dorm room too and so did his roommate. The problem was J wanted to play Mariah Carey and his best friend liked Celine Dion.

 I tend to fall asleep the easiest when it's completely dark. I can manage okay, but when I was pregnant with Ezie and struggling with insomnia I had to wear a sleep mask. My other soothing sleep technique is just plain riding in the car. My tend to sleep well in the car too. I assumed that was normal, but I have a friend whose little ones sleep way better than mine in their own beds, but no matter how tired they are they don't sleep on car rides. 

 I know this is a completely random topic, but I find the uniqueness of individual sleep habits fascinating. 

I just have to know, how do you fall asleep at night? 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Hardest Job on the Planet

I saw this comedian on youtube that was joking about how the statement motherhood is the hardest job on the planet is an exaggeration. He compares motherhood to coal miners dying of the black lung, implying that risking your life for a job would be harder.  I would never describe motherhood as life threatening, but in a few rare cases it actually is. The comedian then dramatically explains how difficult it must be to bend down and put a dvd in the dvd player while you are still in your pajamas. The most ignorant thing he said was how mothers can send their kids to bed ANYTIME THEY WANT so that they can have a drink and watch The Price Is Right.

Would't that be nice!?

Now I understand how comedy works, and even though I think this guy has no idea what he is talking about I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that everything he said was 100% sarcastic. However, there are people out there that buy into his idea of motherhood as a brainless effortless gig and that is why I want to talk about it.

First off I would agree that there are plenty of more physically and intellectually demanding careers out there. Being a mom isn't even really a job at all in my opinion. One reason is because unlike a job, motherhood isn't just an investment of time and skill, it demands attention from ever fiber of your being.

During pregnancy a mother's body will literally be stretched and strained to it's maximum potential in order to create and sustain a new human. After her body pushes the baby out of her (something I'd love to see that comedian try to even fathom) then the child will depend on her for not only physical nourishment, but the love and care that has been scientifically proven is necessary for life. There will be times she will be stuck in a car with relentless screaming that could bring a soldier to his knees. She will clean up vomit and feceses more times than you can count. Her nipples will probably be bitten, her sleep will be stolen, and her hair will be pulled. All that and we aren't even through the first year.

The challenges only increase as the child grows and it's not a bad thing, but it certainly is NOT easy.

The emotional side of motherhood is far more intricate and complex than any job could ever be. Some people may feel like they are emotionally invested in their jobs, but mothers are attached at the core of who they are. When the child suffers the mother feels the same pain multiplied. The intensity of her passion for her children is pumping through her blood because those children are a part of her and share her DNA.

I could go on and on about all that motherhood entails, but I have already wasted too much time responding to a really stupid youtube video that was recommended on Facebook, and the only thing worse than that is that I also read a couple of the idiotic comments. Apparently there are a lot of oblivious people out there who really do think moms sit around all day playing Candy Crush Saga and snacking on sushi or something.

Just to be clear as I wrap this thing up, some women birth children, but never become mothers. Some women never birth children, but are the strongest mothers of all. It's a relationship, a lifestyle, a gift, a sacrifice, and a calling, but not necessarily a job.  To say motherhood is job implies that you are paid, or that you can go off duty, or retire. So I don't think that motherhood is the hardest job on the planet because that statement isn't powerful enough to describe what being a mom really is.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Messy Mom Movie

What an adventurous day Saturday was! 

For those that haven't been bombarded by all of my announcements online, I'll fill you in. I am working on relaunching my website and over the weekend I did a professional video shoot for what will be the "Messy Mom Welcome Video". 

The Story Board

The set location was in my brother's basement. He has a recording/video studio which was staged to look like a living room. 

There was whole team of people helping out from art director to stylist and more. 

Truth be told it was just friends and family, but having titles makes it feel more legit.  

We did take after take. I think it was 6 scenes total. All three of my kids were involved too, so it was exhausting. 

Well worth it though. 

There is one final scene that we decided reshoot later, but it's just Ezie. So he and I will be going back to my brother's studio tomorrow for that. 

It's not easy being a celebrity! Just joking of course, but I have always loved acting and have dreamed of being a part of a live studio audience or an extra in a movie, and this felt pretty close. 

The big premiere day is scheduled for May 9th which is this MOTHER'S DAY!!! 

I have so many exciting things planned for that week. It's going to be like a big ol' carnival here on the blog... or maybe a circus... or worst case scenario a poorly planned frat party. Things are happening though, that much I know for sure and YOU get to be in on it all from ground zero. 

I did want to give a little heads up that there is A LOT that goes into moving 7 years of content to a new home. So things are going to start to slow down a little bit here for the next month as I get ready for all of this. I'll still be around, but I just wanted to mention that I might be posting less frequently for now. 

That's the latest update. I hope everyone had a beautiful Easter Sunday. It looks like the spring weather is finally here! God bless.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Coming This Mother's Day

I have given hints and teasers over the past few months about some changes taking place here at and this weekend things are starting to get real.

Part of the secret I've been keeping is that I will be doing a welcome video for Messy Mom. I dreamt up the script and wrote a rough draft a looong time ago, but the timing has never been right. It still isn't perfect, but it never will be and my brother is just amazing in the way he really takes action and helps me pursue my creative endeavors. If it weren't for him I really would never do it. He is a professional videographer and will be co-directing, shooting, and editing the entire project. I am a little bit nervous and still somewhat in shock that this is actually happening! I am definitely happy though.  

My other brother is going to be helping me by converting my website and I don't have that on the calendar just yet, but it will be soon. We even had a brainstorming session this week where we talked about the vision and direction for Messy Mom and also a book idea. That's right. I am writing a book. More details on that later. 

I've got videographer on one side and a web designer on the other, both eager to help me. It's every bloggers dream. 

I am truly the luckiest sister in the world! 

From left to right: My dad, my husband, me, my brothers Jeremy, and Brandon.
This photo really says it all. We love art, design, technology,
 and yes we do love our Mac Book Pros (except this photo is over 8 years old!)

My GOAL is to have everything launched on Mother's Day which is May 10. That's only a month away. It may not be possible, but I am not going to cry and give up if that doesn't happen. My backup deadline is my birthday (June 27th). Or maybe it will just be a random wild card day. I am a planner, but I am also realistic and flexible when it comes to execution. 

 If you aren't already following me on social media than you need to, because I'll be posting behind the scenes updates as we go through the whole creative movie making process. 

Catch me this weekend on Facebook, instagram, and twitter. Otherwise I'll see you back here on Monday! 
Have a Happy Easter Everyone. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Let's Talk About Water Birth

"Hi Natalie! I've been reading a lot of posts on Messy Mom about your child birthing experiences and advice! That is super helpful! Thank you for writing those. I was wondering if you'd written any more posts about water birthing. I am thinking about this for our birth! I would love to hear your tips and advice! "

This question comes from first time expectant mom Bethany who blogs over at "Again We Say Rejoice" Isn't their pregnancy announcement adorable!?

 I was thrilled to get this question from Bethany because I am very passionate about water birth, but other than sharing my birth stories I have never blogged about the topic specifically. Granted, I am NOT an expert on water birth so I am not going to dish out a bunch of facts and statistics, but I will share my take on it from personal experience.

I have heard water birth referred to as nature's epidural and after having one birth that was not in water and two that were I can agree with that statement.

The way it works is that the baby receives oxygen through your umbilical cord and does not inhale until exposed to air. Since the baby is already underwater (or more accurately in amniotic fluid) in the womb for 9 months this makes for a smooth transition into the world. Think of it like having the lights gradually turned on rather than going from complete darkness all night long and then suddenly having someone shining a bright light in your face. That's not why I had a water birth, it's just one of the potential benefits.

Here is some more information about the entire process


Preparing for a water birth can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. One thing you have to know ahead of time is whether or not it is offered by your care provider or birthing facility. Even if they do offer water birth their criteria might determine some of the methods you choose.

I know for a lot of home births people order inflatable birth pools, but I have no experience with this personally.

I will say that my first water birth was completely unplanned! I had planned to birth on my bed and had prepared everything accordingly, but I was comfortable in the bathtub and my daughter came so quickly that it just happened that way! 

This proves more than anything just how little preparation is needed for a water birth.


I was nude for my first water birth and wore a maternity swimsuit (with no bottoms) the second time around. The swimsuit was a lot like wearing a slip or a sundress. I really liked it because I didn't have to worry about being completely exposed. It kept me covered in and out of the water. The swimsuit was stretchy enough for me to pull the front down and breastfeed, which is an important factor to consider. I did this immediately after the delivery for skin to skin contact and both babies latched on and started breastfeeding while I was still in the water, which means it happened almost right away because I did not stay in the water long.


Typically you want to wait until you are really in active labor when you get in the water. This way the water is fresh and warm. For me I just waited until contractions were really intense. Your midwife or doula can let you know how far along you appear to be and give you instructions at that point.

Comfortable Positions

Unlike other types of birth there aren't a lot of tools and tricks because the water itself is the pain relief! Warm water is stress relieving, soothing, and literally reduces a lot of the weight of labor. It also naturally massages the perineum to promote elasticity and prevent tearing. One simple item you can use to get comfortable is a towel that can be rolled up or folded to create a soft surface for you to lean on.

With my first water birth I had my back against the edge of the tub (the same as when you bathe) and birthed in what I would refer to as the traditional position (lying down with your legs apart). With water birth number two I was on my knees leaning over the tub.

One reason is because I was Group B Strep positive which meant I had to have an IV. It was covered in plastic and could get wet, but it was not supposed to stay submerged in the water. There is a lot more information about this, but that's another topic altogether. You won't know if you are GBS positive until they do the test toward the end of your pregnancy.

Final Thoughts

There are so many different approaches to water birth. It's a very personal decision.

For me I had the unplanned water birth in my bathtub with a CPM (certified professional midwife) at home and birthed the placenta in the tub. I was near Dallas Texas at the time and the location is important, because laws vary from state to state.

Then I had a hospital water birth in Lexington Kentucky with an APRN (advanced practice registered nurse)/ CNM (certified nurse midwife) and delivered the placenta in the bed afterwards. The midwife also did the circumcision.

If water birth is an option where you are delivering then I say at least have it available just in case it turns out to be the place you feel most comfortable. You can always change your mind! No matter how things go when you deliver it's important to remember that you will NOT disappoint your baby. The baby just wants to be out of the womb. The hard part is knowing that for yourself and doing whatever feels best for you!