Christmas in our hearts

by Lesley on December 20, 2014 · 0 comments

in christmas


I entered December with one MAIN goal: NO Christmas stress.

This year, and the years to come, I want joy to be on our lips and peace in our hearts. I know some Christmas seasons will be easier than others when it comes to not stressing, but so far this year has been truly restful and magical. We’ve done lots of fun activities like the Westmont Pickle Tree lighting, Santa parade, cookie baking, gingerbread house decorating, and viewing Christmas lights. We’ve also worked through a queue of Netflix movies, gone on beach walks, and read our advent book each morning. The sweetest part of my month has been listening to Silent Night in our car, and watching Anna do all the hand motions in the backseat. (She’s working very hard to prepare for the Christmas show at church…and if she has her parents’ lack of vocal skills, then she’s a very wise young lady to focus on the hand movements.)

A few Christmas books we are enjoying:

Humphrey’s First Christmas (Gorgeous illustrations and a funny and touching read for parents and kids. It tells the Nativity story from the perspective of a self absorbed camel.)

Little Blue Truck Christmas (Because my kids can’t get enough of Little Blue Truck!)

A few posts I’ve written that might inspire you during this season:

Do something with your Christmas guilt

The world is waiting

A few of my favorite Christmas posts from others:

Christmas with a baby (This video is SO funny, especially if you have a human wrecking ball baby/young toddler this holiday season.)

Mary & Jesus Christmas video  (Makes me cry every time I watch it.)

Also, not Christmas related, did you catch my post about Serial over on Her.meneutics? I’m so happy to be back there posting after an almost 2.5 year hiatus! 



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 · 3 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. 

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