Motherhood + Writing

by Lesley on December 16, 2014 · 0 comments

in motherhood,writing

MW Lesley

I’m over on Emily C. Gardner’s site today talking about motherhood and writing. For any fellow creatives who struggle to make art in this busy season of child raising, I hope a peak at my life might help you feel less alone. Make sure you read many of the other posts in her motherhood + writing series from other writer moms.

Thank you, Emily, for having me today! Read more…





A big, beautiful storm rolled through Santa Barbara last night and this morning, which was a rare treat for our parched California soil. We’ve been waiting and longing for rain, and the Pineapple Express brought plenty. Even our power went out! (I don’t think I’ve ever lost electrical power in ANY California storm, my entire life. I shouldn’t probably admit that to all of you East Coasters, huh?)

Last night I fell asleep smiling. Rain on the roof. Flannel sheets on the bed. Kids safe and snuggly just a few doors away.  There’s something comforting about having my whole family together when a storm rages outside.

We woke up this morning to lots of fallen tree branches and a broken Ikea Christmas star decoration that didn’t survive the battering wind. Anna was very concerned about the star–bless her–but a bowl of Cheerios and an advent story later she forgot all about the destruction.

Tonight I took the kids down to the beach for sunset. The surf was expected to be high and I wanted to watch the surfers. I almost talked myself out of going. The 4:00pm hour is always a little dicey at our house and it felt hard to pack the kids up when dinner really needed to get into the oven. (Where are the sweatshirts?! Shoot–you need a diaper change! Grab your water bottle please! Don’t forget to go potty!)

We made the short trek to Hendry’s and it might have been the most gorgeous night I’ve ever witnessed there, or anywhere for that matter. The foamy, teasing waters and brilliant sunset calmed my heart as my kids giggled and chased. I left my cell phone purposefully in the car and was present and relaxed. It was one of those nights where you keep blinking in hopes that your mind will take mental photographs that won’t ever fade away.

A sweet stranger took the above photos of us on the beach, and then approached me and said, “I took some photos of you with your children. Can I email them to you? (Isn’t that so thoughtful?)

I guess if my memories someday fail me–and I hope they don’t–I’ll have these images to remember the Pineapple Express, giggly children, and the day I’m so glad I said yes to the sunset.



What I’m Into: November 2014

by Lesley on November 30, 2014 · 5 comments

in what i'm into


Books: Can I cheat and just tell you about the book I read last month, and loved? (Because in November I didn’t read so much, or at all.) The Husband’s Secret, a book club pick, is a fun and fast fiction book with lots of great characters.  I also finished a few other e-books I’ve been slowly working my way through since forever. None were all that great, but you can take a peak at my Goodreads account, if you want.

I’ll be working my way through Bonhoeffer’s God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas during the month of December.

Music: All About That Bass, That’s What’s Up (Lennon & Maisy!) and Something in the Water (Carrie Underwood, love that girl.) Shake it Off is still on constant repeat, but I’ve been trying to scale back ever since Anna had a tantrum last week when I put on worship music instead.

Food: Way too much Halloween candy. Leftovers. Candy cane Jo Jos. Egg nog. Avocados coming out our ears. Our favorite crock pot white chicken chili. Two ingredient pancakes. (Oh, did I mention I tried to go Paleo for about two weeks? I wanted to lose the last of my baby weight, and then decided I’d rather just run more than give up dairy and sugar.)

TV/Movies: We snuck away on Thanksgiving Eve to get ice cream and see the latest Hunger Games movie, and I’m all caught up on Nashville.

Podcasts (new category!) Serial, because it’s so addicting, and the most enjoyable way to run, clean, or sit in traffic. I also  am LOVING Kat Lee’s Inspired to Action podcast for moms. With all of my travels and early mornings on the treadmill, I’ve worked my way through a bunch. Favorites include:

How to Transform Your Mornings

Finding (and Giving) Grace in Motherhood

Personality Types & Parenting 

Simple Ways to Pursue Excellence in Motherhood

Wearing: One of my many pairs of Zella running leggings, my Toms (because my Rainbows need a break during this “chilly” fall weather) and my faux black leather jacket (because it goes with any thing and Modern Mrs. Darcy says that cardigans can really ruin an outfit.)

A few of my favorite purchases in November: Coordinating Christmas jammies for the kids and Forever 21 Christmas sweater leggings…need I say more?

Things I loved in November:

  • Celebrating my nieces’ first birthday in Irvine. Both girls dove into their cupcakes like nobody’s business. I love seeing pieces of my brother in their faces, and it’s especially sweet that their birthday is sandwiched between Owen’s birth and my other niece, Lucy. He is so luck to have three girl cousins close in age.
  • Quality time with old friends. I miss my Sacramento community a whole lot, and seeing them all felt like a huge hug that lasted all month. And, I got to spend time with Tammy and family in San Diego, which was double fun.
  • Watching Jonathan take Anna on a date to Chick-fil-a and fro yo. The man brought her flowers and I melted. 
  • Spending a day with my dad at the Dave Ramsey SMART conference in Los Angeles. We heard from a bunch of great speakers, but mostly I just loved time alone with him to catch up.

Anticipating: I can’t wait to practice Advent with Anna this year. We started using an Advent calendar last year, but this year I got a little more organized and intentional, and we’re adding the Sunday practice of candle lighting at dinner. Someone recommended the Advent Storybook and we’re planning to use this cute, age appropriate book to help our kids understand the biblical Christmas story. Each day’s calendar pocket also has an activity/event/good deed plus a birthday candle. By December 24, we’ll have enough candles for two dozen birthday cupcakes.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer as part of her monthly What I’m Into series. Hop over, read what others are into, and then link-up with us! 



Crying over spilled milk

by Lesley on November 25, 2014 · 9 comments

in lessons learned

spilled milk

Last week, this awful thing happened at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that my brain tells me is NOT a big deal, but my heart says otherwise.

It was Tuesday morning and I was feeling like a victorious stay-at-home working mom because I found a last minute sitter to watch Owen. We dropped Anna off at school, and then I took him to Nancy’s house where he toddled away from me and acted like he could care less that I was leaving him with an almost stranger. After a full week without childcare, I was very behind on all things Kidaround, and I couldn’t believe I’d managed to pull off four hours of uninterrupted time to catch up.

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is my favorite coffee shop of all time, and that’s mostly because the second part of their name speaks to my non-coffee-loving heart. Oh the choices at this little Southern California gem of a beverage store. I debated a Winter Dream Tea Latte but settled on Peppermint Hot Cocoa because if I can’t have cold weather I can at least have Christmas in a cup.

I took the first sip–which was glorious by the way–and internally congratulated myself on the whole endeavor. I dove into my work, clicking here and clicking there, returning (no joke) fifteen emails within 22 minutes. Bam. I was getting stuff done.

Until, that is, I reached for my hot cocoa with my left hand, and tried to–I don’t know–scratch my face with the right hand? It’s all still blur as to what actually happened, but all I know is hot cocoa splashed through the lid of my perfectly peppermint cup of joy and landed on my brand new laptop. As in, the laptop we’ve been saving for since last fall and the laptop that cost a lot of money and is supposed to last another six years.

I’m really good at keeping my cool in public places, and pretending like nothing can rattle me. After dabbing the computer off and casually using my phone to google, “liquid on laptop keyboard,” I decided to drive straight to the Apple store. I didn’t start crying until I got into the car and called Jonathan.

You guys, I sobbed the whole way to the store and it wasn’t gentle, precious movie star tears but the gut wrenching, puffy eyed, hysterical ones that only make an appearance about once a year, at most. These were the kind of tears that one should reserve for a cancer diagnosis or a death or maybe a really awful hormonal meltdown when your child hasn’t slept through the night in months and months. But, a computer problem? I’m honestly embarrassed for myself.

I wish I could say the tears stopped once I made it to the store, but after the kind hipster employee informed me of the estimated service fees–$808 with tax–I might have lost it again.

We’d worked so hard to buy this stupid Macbook and now the stupid Macbook was broken and it was my clumsy, moving-too-fast hands that caused the problem.

To be honest, the tears were less about the computer–awful as the service charges may be–and more about my own self hatred in the moment. Had someone else broken my laptop, I’d be angry. But since it was my own fault, I felt one thousand times worse.

I dropped by Trader Joe’s on my way home from the Apple store. I had an hour to kill before Owen had to be picked up, and we needed a few basic groceries. I walked my puffy eyes into the store and began strolling the aisles. When I reached the milk aisle, I saw a cheeky sign that’s probably been there forever but I’d never noticed before:

There’s no need to cry over spilt milk. 

You might think I stopped in my tracks and re-evaluated the entire morning’s emotions after seeing this gentle, common idiom. Instead, I took a photo to remember the irony of it all.

No need to cry over spilled milk? Really? But, what if the spilled milk soaks into your laptop keys and causes over $800 worth of damage? Don’t you think, Trader Joe’s idiom, that crying might be warranted…just a little?

As a mom, I’ve spent the last few years cleaning up my fair share of spilled milk. My sweet, perfectionist three-year old has been spilling with greater frequently these days as she learns to drink from a cup, and upon each spill she breaks into hysterics similar to my own. Just last week, as milk drenched her t-shirt and tears flowed like Job’s, I kept repeating, “This is not a big deal. Stop crying. This is not a big deal. There is no need to cry. Mommy will clean it up. This is not a big deal.”

But, to her, it is a big deal. I imagine some of her tears stem from the uncomfortable (and surprising) wetness covering her body but I mostly think her emotion is rooted in deep frustration at her own failings. Yet again, I’ve spilled. Yet again, I’ve made a mistake. This wasn’t supposed to happen and I didn’t mean for it to happen. I’m embarrassed. Don’t be mad. 

And when I really think about my hysterical emotion after spilling milk on my new computer, I realize that I’m crying for all the same reasons. I’m frustrated with my own failings, my own clumsiness, my lack of coordination. I’m frustrated that I can’t control everything, and that sometimes bad things happen even when you’ve made smart, calculated choices. I’m mad that my day-to-day doesn’t always go as smoothly as I’d like, even when I think and plan and get up early and work really hard.

I’m crying because I’m an imperfect person who wants to be, and do, and have it all. But I continue to come up short.

For those of us who know Christ’s kindness, we understand the story doesn’t end here. We know He is good, and His love and patience and forgiveness endures forever. He is like the patient mother who sees our tears and gets down on the kitchen floor, day-in and day-out, saying, “Let me clean this up for you.” He knows we come up short, and makes it so we can keep on living and thriving.

But, I’ve got to say, and this is just a theory: I think God likes it when we occasionally cry over spilled milk. I think it’s in the those frustrated, spilled milk moments that we often bow down and say, “I keep making mistakes! Forgive me! Help me! I can’t do this on my own!  I’m not great about always verbalizing my failings to Christ, but in the spilled milk moments I am reminded of just how much I need someone to wipe up my messes.

Sometimes, you should absolutely cry over spilled milk. 

This post was written on my newly fixed Macbook computer, at a local Starbucks, with peppermint hot cocoa cautiously by my side. 



.The wild and the crazy.

by Lesley on November 19, 2014 · 14 comments

in what i'm into

photo (60)

We’ve had a really fun October and November, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. As usual we’ve had a hard time saying “no” to things like travel, visitors, and…oh…you know…appendix surgery. Whomp whomp. I’ll get to that in a minute. (But, do you like how I am throwing out excuses so you’ll forgive my long blog absence?)

Jonathan and I visited his brother Matt in Washington DC last month. We had an incredible time, and not just because I pretended to be Kerry Washington everywhere we went, and not just because we didn’t have children with us. (Although, let’s be honest, traveling without children is AH-MAZing and SO EASY and SO RELAXING and did I mention I read three books and watched a whole movie on the airplane?)

It’s been 15 years since my last trip to Washington, and nothing about it was disappointing. The food, the sights, the leaves, the lack of tourists, the fun Saturday morning run to the Capitol, the late night shenanigans at the Lincoln Memorial, the Newseum and the National Cathedral were a few highlights. (That photo, above, is the first of two trips we took to the Lincoln Memorial. What a view, right? And don’t you love how we’re so awkward?)

The best part about our visit was having uninterrupted time with Matt and his almost-bride, Elizabeth.  I’ve known my brother-in-law since he was about 14, and watching him grow-up has been a huge delight and encouragement to me. He picked a wonderful girl to marry, who we can’t wait to officially embrace next spring in Jackson, Mississippi.

After our DC trip I decided that summer in Santa Barbara is officially over. I know this because:

  • There’s ONE big, beautiful tree on our street with red, falling leaves and it happens to be in my front yard
  • We’re stopped running our living room fan (but we still have most of the windows open every afternoon)
  • I need to bring a sweatshirt if I leave the house in the morning or late afternoon
  • The tourists are (kind of) gone

After eight autumns in Sacramento, I’ve forgotten what autumn (or the lack thereof) feels like in Southern California. Every morning I reach for my leggings and scarves only to put them back into my closet and reluctantly grab jeans instead. To be honest, if I wanted to still wear shorts, I probably could. But it just seems wrong. 

What else have we been up to, and why haven’t I been blogging? Our weekends are insane, I tell you, and our weeks are even crazier.

Owen started walking, which means I’m chasing and saying “NO” and cleaning up a lot more messes. His zombie walk and protruding belly are heart melting but I’m exhausted.

Anna is swimming a few times a week, and it’s a blast to watch her make big improvements. She wouldn’t put her face in the water when she started lessons, and now, three months later, she’s a little goggle wearing guppy. (I won’t claim she is swimming yet, but, she’s wiggling underwater so that kind of counts, right?)

We joined a homegroup this fall, I’m also a MOPS table leader, and we’re helping with Sunday school. Basically we’re spending a lot of time at church these days, which is great, because we love our church. Also, #weareovercommitted

The magazine is still very fun, and it’s also teaching me a lot about time management. I don’t have enough childcare right now and I find myself working during most naps and a lot of evenings. I’m still trying to find my sweet spot when it comes to balancing work and writing, and while I’m not unhappy in the slightest, I am…well…frazzled.

A few weeks ago, after seven long months of separation, our family returned to the City of Trees for three wonderfully full days. Zach and Dana’s new house sits right on McKinley Park, and I loved my early morning runs through the leaves. (Listening to the Serial podcast, because I can’t.stop.listening.) I also attended a Kidaround party, saw Ashlee’s new house and held Carson (he’s sooooo little and so cute!), stayed out until last call for Sharon and Dana’s birthdays at Mix, ate at Cafe Bernardo (twice!), drove stealthily past our little house (twice!), walked with Tammy and Sharon, caught up with Alicia, Allison and the Annas, and ate a Ginger Elizabeth cookie. Really, could the weekend have gone any better? I think not.

**cough cough** It should be noted that all of us got head colds while visiting and certain children woke at 5:30am most mornings, so we came back to Santa Barbara extremely tired. Owen threw up in the car on the way home, and Anna came down with a stomach bug the next day….so, perhaps it could have gone a little better?…but whatever. #realmomtalk 

After Sacramento, Jonathan came home to a scheduled appendectomy. His latest scan showed something on his appendix–probably a benign cyst of some kind– so, he was advised to have it taken out as soon as possible in the event it may burst at any time. We’re both grateful the surgery could be planned for, covered by insurance, and that there doesn’t appear to be anything malignant in his body. Poor guy is still exhausted and can’t pick up our children or exercise for awhile. :(

Moving right along…

Our wild and crazy autumn isn’t over just yet. We’re headed to San Diego this weekend for a law school friend’s wedding, and then to Sierra Madre for Thanksgiving. In December we plan to be home every single weekend (PTL!) I’ve been putting together our kids’ advent calendar and can’t wait to start a few new traditions with them this year. Can you believe Christmas is around the corner?

I want to conclude this little post by admitting..for my own sake…that I needed to write out what we’ve been up to lately because it has felt like, well, a lot.  We’ve been doing fun, worthwhile things but eventually it wears me down to my bones. I love this article, The Disease of Being Busy. As a challenge to myself, I’ll be back later this week to answer the author’s question, “How is the state of your heart today?”

In the meantime, what are you up to these days, and more importantly, how is your heart?

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