A friend of mine recently wrote me a sweet email reminding me of how much we need one another; we need to voice our hearts and share our lives with one another. It gets so easy to go through day to day life feeling down, discouraged, unwell, maybe even unloved. The rhythm of life is so easily lost; we trip and barely catch ourselves before the next hurdle is there to trip us up again. We feel alone and hungry, scattered and uptight.

But the reality is that the rhythm is there, playing in the background somewhere. Can we quiet our hearts enough to hear it again? My friend asked me if it was possible to be still. Is it possible to be still while juggling a few kids, a household, a husband, the expectations of our community? It’s hard.

I have a number of friends who have recently added baby number 2 to the mix of their lives and I have been so bad at keeping in touch with them. I think of them often as the days go by. Going from 1 child to 2 was hard for me. The rhythm was so lost I forgot to shower, let alone brush my hair. It was all I could do to make it through the day and get meals on the table. How do we find the silence in the midst of our blaring loud lives?

So to my long time friend whose heart was laid open in words on the screen, my dear fellow mums learning the steep curve of parenting two littles, and all those who are listening for their rhythm, here are a few ways I keep my sanity..

This and this are on every day at some point – sometimes a little Bessie Smith, too.

I loved reading Cordella‘s first issue and can’t wait for the second to arrive!

I also look in here, here, and here when I have the chance.

Thought this article was interesting.

This snack is amazing and this crock pot meal is awesome.

Loved this salad, too bad my quinoa is gone…

I let the kids watch Daniel Tiger when they need a video to distract them – there are full episodes on youtube – they sing the sharing song and it melts me heart.

I have been enjoying the poetry of German poet Rainer Maria Rilke.

This article is informative plus I’ve tested the theory and it’s true. Why you need to change when you drink coffee.

Christmas lights, candles, Christmas music, cinnamon, pies… that all helps too.


In the afternoon…

while my kids nap I often read or nap or cook. Sometimes I make a cup of coffee or iced tea and sit and search the web. I catch up on world news or email friends. Here is some of the other stuff I’ve been enjoying:

LensCulture’s Emerging Talents

Why I Hated Christian Women’s Ministry

Famous Thinker’s Daily Rituals

I love to read about other people’s rituals and am constantly refining and adapting my own and my family’s routines to fit our life in different seasons. I think it is valuable to look at our daily activities as ritual instead of schedule or a to-do list. Day to day changes can throw me off kilter if I am too set on sticking to a schedule! But if I look at the day as a series of rituals – coffee and prayer, breakfast, kitchen and plants to care for, snacks, play time, lunch, naps. . . – then I can move from one thing to the next in a kind of rhythm instead of a jerking start and stop. I am more willing to set everything down for a book or a bike ride or a conversation with a neighbor if I am aware that the purpose for that moment is an experience of life and people instead of a project list with check marks beside each line!

Failed first attempt at the Green Mango Pickle but I am going to try again! As soon as the sun comes out… we have had an amazing last few days. Rain, rain, and more rain. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this much rainfall! We have had consistent, pouring rain for days! The temperatures have cooled right down. I’ve worn my jeans three days in a row, and often a light sweater as well! Ok, you’re right, it’s about 76 F at the coolest but, hey, that is pretty cool after the temps we’ve been having here! I love it. We are eating soups and baking bread and making pots of tea. Ben has turned the espresso machine on for cappuccinos in the afternoons. Oh glorious Autumn! I thought we would get none of you, but look! You have appeared for at least three days and I will enjoy every moment! I won’t even mind the water dripping in multiple places in my bedroom and upstairs in my kitchen because I get to lay in bed with a book and the door open listening to the rain falling outside and from upstairs I get to watch the huge waves build and crash, the crosswind blowing the spray wild.




dear mother of young children

As summer begins here we are coming out of a time of business. Throughout the winter months we were busy with the cafe, baking, coffee roasting, church, beach days, eating out on our own or with friends, and as that season came to an end in April we packed up and caught a plane North. We spent three weeks traveling around my husband’s home state of Missouri and then wrapped up our trip with my sister’s wedding in northern Arkansas. The longest time we were in one place was 7 nights at a condo with my family preparing for the wedding celebrations. The kids did great but now that we are home in Mexico the exhaustion and stress is evident in them.

They spent three weeks playing with friends, uncles, aunts, grandparents; they swam in swimming pools and played at playgrounds; they endured being dragged around thrift stores and antique shops; they camped and sat around bonfires late into the night. They loved it. And yet, all this constant movement and entertainment seems to have left them irritable, unable to settle down and sleep through the night (Willow is up every 2.5 – 3 hours throughout the night right now), and virtually unable to play together. For a mum and dad all this equals exhaustion.

As different as our lives are, dear mother of young children, I believe it is possible that you might be finding yourself in a similar season. So I write you this letter to encourage you, and myself. We will find a new rhythm and a new grace for our families. Creating a safe haven in our homes takes work and planning ahead; it involves inspiration and imagination; it requires sacrifice and energy. So with all you can muster, let’s get started! Here are a few ideas that help me:

With my kids, whining and hunger usually go hand in hand. Whining, of course, is one of the easiest ways to drive me crazy! So to save all of us from having breakdowns I try to have healthy snacks on hand:
yogurt, fruit or veggies cut up in the fridge, cheese, nuts
Sometimes we make an event out of a snack:
an air popcorn popper is an event that everyone can participate in
I let my littles chop up their own banana or avocado

There are tons of recipes and ideas for crafts online! Yesterday we made play dough and I have a recipe for finger paints in the queue. I often have to sit with them during these projects and we have fun doing it together.  Painting with paintbrushes is another favorite.

We have a couple old, beat up mattresses that we pull out for nap time upstairs where it is cooler now. These mattresses double as a running  and jumping course. My kids love jumping along a path of mats and mattresses or from a sturdy stool onto a mattress.

Sometimes a change of scenery is all we need to get over the hump of the day. We go for a walk in the stroller, run to the corner store for groceries, sit at the beach for a while, or drop in and visit a friend. If I’m not up to going out I’ll just set up something for them in a different room in the house – maybe a fort or a snack area.

Tried and true activities for my 3.5 year old include a length of rope to tie things up with (hopefully not his sister!), cooking or baking anything, and “washing dishes”. My 2 year old loves anything to do with water! Sometimes a paintbrush with a little bucket of water and some object to paint is all she needs.

I am also a firm believer in unstructured play times.  I think it helps little ones develop their imagination and learn how to play and problem solve together on their own, strengthening a healthy independence. Occasionally I have to get them started but usually they are pretty inventive. I know this can be hard at the beginning when kids are used to being entertained but it is so worth it as I watch them sing, dance, and play in their own worlds.

Lastly, dear mother of young children, I promise that someday we will sleep again. Someday. We will eventually get back that hour of precious quiet time with tea or coffee in the morning and that relaxing dinner spent in conversation with the hubby. For now, grab those few moments you can find and just whisper a prayer of gratitude for your precious littles and for the immense honor and privilege we have been given in being their mums.

I am inspired by this playlist these days: Hillsong United ZION acoustic session

Love and blessings,
a beach bum mama