Tag Archives: mess

Legos For Days

It’s so incredible to watch the personality, gifts and talents of a child unfold. All are so distinct and special from each other, a great reminder of how each of us is our own unique person, even at a young age. A great reminder that all of us have our own God-given gifts and purpose.

As a special education teacher, it is my job to discover and teach to each individual student’s own talents and strengths. It is both my privilege and obligation to empower them against any challenges they may have or face. It’s part of my nature now to do this in the classroom. However, in the home, it is a bit more complicated at times.

Both my husband and I played sports for most of our lives and assumed that our children would want to too. And even though they are both so young yet at the ages of 2 and 5, their little but LARGE personalities and interests are already shining through …

I first saw this with my son. He may not be asking to go throw a football right now; but he is following in my husband’s footsteps of loving Legos. Since the age of 2.5, TJ has loved puzzles, activity sticker books, creating, building and taking objects apart. Literally, he could spend hours, and even days partaking in these activities. Proud Mama over here when he turned four and started to tackle legos made for as high up as 10 years old and older.

It’s all fun and games until you have 10 boxes of Legos and pieces all over the place.

That is when we created TJ’s LEGO room. While it now holds 40 sets and counting, it is much more organized these days, even if TJ takes it apart five times a day.

So while I can’t help but to be a little sad as we transform his room from baby giraffes and elephants to Legos for days, I also can’t help but to be proud of the amazing person he is and continues to become. A nice organization system amongst the mess helps the transition as well…

Madi wanted in on the fun too…

Morning Routine

A person’s morning routine is so important.   More and more studies and research are showing that the way someone starts their morning sets the stage for how productive their day will be. Search it up! There is sooooo much information out there around this very topic.

Since my early 20s, I have woken up early to go for a run.   It did not matter where I was… at the beach, on an island, at a hotel, wherever and whenever, I found a way to get this run in. The endorphins were beyond addicting at the time; they were life changing.

However, like any addiction, it is important to be able to break it for several reasons.  Still, I ran and I ran…I refused to do anything else in my routine and if I did a class like spin or yoga, I would still find time to run.   I knew it was not healthy to depend on anything so much even if it was something healthy  like running.   Balance…balance…balance and there was no balance.

Since I had run throughout my entire pregnancy with my son, I pretty much started running right after delivering him.  Knowing my running history, my doctor had told me that I could restart again after almost a week but slowly.   This then turned into months later, I was running 6-8 miles a day.   It was too much on my body and soon I started to experiencing knee pains and other related running issues. I was overused, worn-down and my muscles were yelling at me to, “Slooooooow down!”

Still, it took my daughter and that second full-term pregnancy to slow me down.  I could not run once I hit the third trimester.  It was not possible without terrible pains and so then I was forced to find a new morning routine… Thank you God for that!

So, I started to walk every morning on my treadmill instead.  This was unless I was tired, which then I would take off against my will for my body and baby. Still during these first morning hours I continued to write. It started after a miscarriage that I started to pray each morning and then write scripture-based poems.  This continued for two years until I started to desire even more of the Word and writing.

This is how my morning routine gradually turned into one of balance and peace.   And while I am sure it will change over the years to come, I know that this is where morning need to start:

  1. Wake up early (weekdays at 4 and weekends usually around 6 thanks to my son… ha) Early riding definitely means early bedtime as much as possible too.
  2. Pray
  3. Read the Bible (There are great plans out there to help guide you through the Bible.  I am currently doing read the Bible in a year on the Bible app.  I highly recommend.)
  4. Scripture-based poetry that I send to close friends and family as a daily devotional/reflection/motivation.
  5. WAR – This is what I call it… I write for this blog, poetry or my book as I run (on my treadmill of course).   I use the Mutu System for my abs (my goal once summer hits is to become more constant with that) and I run still.   However, I now only do 3 miles when I run.  And the best part is…. I no longer NEEEED to run.  Although I do enjoy it, I skip it and do the elliptical sometimes and plan on branching out more this summer as well. Running is just a part of my morning routine. Therefore, I do not NEED it like I used to.
  6. Celery juice (16 ounces) on an empty stomach
  7. Warm lemon juice (16 ounces) 30 minutes after the celery (Sometimes, I switch these up but always waiting the time in between.)

And then I am ready for the craziness to begin as I finish the last minute touches of breakfasts and lunches and jump right into the day knowing that my mind, body and heart, and if needed some Kombucha, will continue to power and empower me throughout it all…

One Curled Eyelash

Days escape to the young rants,

of words, of requests, of needs,

beats for these moments,

pushes aside own innate greed.

Dries hair, upon my lap she sits,

collects hair ties to borrow,

bruised knees cry for ice as he shouts,

hungry bellies demand, it is time to eat,

still my face finds make-up has no time to greet.

The washed up circles, crookedly sewn lines,

I’ll moisturize you again, dear face, when I find the time.

Showers of just a minute to disguise the sweat,

if only the razor and hands could embrace, like when they first met.

Hairy tops blanket one of my limbs, the other one bare,

the dress I’m wearing forgets to check I swear.

The morning race to actually match pants to shirt,

unbuttoned, does not even check, when I run to see who is hurt.

Those same pants decide to shrink, revealing is not my intention, despite what watching minds may think.

Lipstick kisses away to chubby cheeks, and those that need a change,

loving,

wrinkles dance near my tired eyes,

perfect imperfections outline a decade,

where tweezers are now so strange,

on stained piles of laundry, atop countless toys that do not clean themselves,

in their boxes drown away beneath, yawns and vows, tomorrow to try.

But still days escape, both she and he,

the days slowly coax years to fly.

So I must smile, battling the urge to wish away, these same minutes,

where the imprint of handprints and those of their feet leave beauty marks to be celebrated and worn

those that time flies by, in a flash, captures the beautifully torn edges

upon a heart that learns to enjoy that very flash.

So when you look at me, you’ll see it too,

Wrinkled lines of joy, under that

one,

still,

curled eyelash.


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What are You Powered By?

In a life that tries to drive at 100 miles per hour, energy-wise it is often difficult to keep up. In fact, with balancing kids, work, and everything else, I am often asked, how do you find enough energy?

Honestly, there was a time when I was burnt out, and just going through the motions.   (A life of anxiety will do that to you.) I was emotionally and physically exhausted. However, once I broke free from the anxiety, it was more than a breath of fresh air, it was a new life. 

Now, there some days that I do feel exhausted but it is easy now to differentiate between physical exhaustion and just needing to slow down a bit.   It is all about slowing down these days…  in fact, it’s more about balancing my energy and learning how to best disperse it.

Since I don’t drink coffee, I cannot use it as a power source.  Instead, I have learned a few wonderful ways to maintain a healthy level of energy. No more highs and definitely no more crashing…. it’s all about balance.

Here are my sources of energy:

  1. Prayer: It will always my number one.  When I started to stress, I try to catch myself and pray.   I start each morning with prayer, reading the Bible, and writing.   All of these empower me to face the day positively and courageously.   A lot of my energy comes from this.   “Surely, God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” – Psalm 54:4
  2. Wolfberry: One of my favorite products by Young Living is Ningxia Red.   This supplement supports whole body wellness and sustains energy naturally. Even my husband enjoys an ounce or two of this drink.
  3. Kombucha: It has been noted that the gut is considered to be the “second brain.”  In fact, a lot of your immune system is located in your gut. Therefore, taking care of it is very important.   Kombucha has many benefits aside from immune health including being a source of energy.  My favorite is ginger; however, more and more options continue to emerge. Once again, my husband has become a fan of this source as well.
  4. A morning run, jog, walk, workout session:  This is such a huge source of energy for me.  Pairing this exercise with the right foods helps to ensure that the balance will be maintained throughout the day.
  5. A green morning shake up: Get that blender out (Vitamix in our case) and mix those fruits, seeds, nuts, and veggies up into an energizing morning shake. Here is my favorite recipe.)
  6. Lemon/celery juice: Drinking warm lemon water every morning was something that I started doing over four years ago after my miscarriage and “mysterious” medical issues.  I warm up about 16-20 ounces of warm and then add freshly squeezed organic lemon juice to it and sip before I eat anything.   however, after reading some of Anthony William’s books and resources like Celery Juice I also added in celery juice to my morning routine. 16 ounces of organic celery juice I blend and drink on the empty stomach then wait 15-30 minutes to eat.  I have been doing this:
    1. lemon water – Wait 30 minutes
    1. Celery juice – Wait 30 minutes then eat breakfast (However, I just recently switched this up and start with the celery juice instead.)
  7. Diffusing: No matter the mood or day, I can find the perfect oil to diffuse from joy to valor to even EN-R-GEE itself, they all life my spirits.
  8. Relationships: Who are we kidding? Relationships are exhausting or at least they can be… however, they can also be empowering.   That is why it is important to make sure to invest enough time and more importantly, love into our valued  relationships because they really do give us strength, energy, and life.
  9. Fresh air:  A friend and I made it our goal to go outside and walk during our Friday lunches.   While life got too crazy and this stopped for awhile, we are bringing it back. Get outside even on those frigid days.   Just breath in the freshness of pure air, God’s goodness at work.  It is one of the best sources of energy.
  10. Sleep: Get to sleep early and wake up early.   It truly makes a difference!

There was a time in my early 20s that I would travel around with a frozen bag of peas to help reduce the bags under my eyes (no joke…a little overboard … but then again that was me during my early 20s)  However, even as I near 40, frozen peas are long gone as they are not needed… even on my makeup free face.  Finally, my coffee mug may still remain empty; but I have a few other sources of energy up my sleeve… 

 

Where do you get your energy from? What are your main power sources?

‭‭Above the Noise
Proverbs‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭

When night falls
darkness tries to steal
do not forget His teachings,
but keep His commands in my heart,
for they will prolong
my life many years
and bring me peace and prosperity
for they make stand strong.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

Let love and faithfulness never leave me;
bind them around my neck,
write them on the tablet of my heart.
Then I will win favor
and a good name in the sight
of God and man.
Hearing His voice over the others
and following it
walking though what I do not yet understand.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

Trust in the Lord with all my heart
and lean not on my own understanding;
in all my ways submit to Him
and he will make these paths straight.
Do not be wise in my own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to my body
and nourishment to my bones.
This is where He always provides.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

-JK


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Little Big Shots – Husband Style

With how busy our weeks get, we try to find time to have a family movie each weekend.  Last weekend, as we watched Pocahontas, this conversation happened…

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JOHN SMITH: “I’d rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you.” (From Pocahontas by Walt Disney)

MY HUSBAND turns to me: “They have chiseled jaws.”

ME: “I was thinking…how romantic that line was.”

 

Husbands say the darndest things…

 

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You’re a “Dump Truck”

Maybe I’m bias, but TJ has the cutest little voice. No matter what he says I just want to eat him up even if the words are not properly pronounced or if his story about school does not add up.

Likewise, watching and listening to a toddler first gain their voice is amazing and a learning experience in itself, even more than I thought it was…as I recently found out.

My daughter started to speak in sentences way before we remember my son doing so. Or at least, her delivery was much clearer. However, as parents for the first time, we had no idea what was “typical” and what wasn’t. (I say that loosely as no two children are alike.)

Sure, there were times, TJ got frustrated with us when we did not understand fully what he was trying to tell us. But then, we saw how clever he was to figure out how to give us clues to get us to understand.

“Mommy, you know what I mean.   It rhymes with pain and rain, and it is on your head.”

“Oh brain! How clever! Great problem-solving skills!

Plus, as a special education teacher I never wanted to over-analyze my own children when it wasn’t necessary. So we corrected him when needed and even had a good laugh the times that called for it… like the time he called to my brother-in-law,

“Hey! Uncle Frankie, you’re a dumb #$@%!” …

…aka dump truck.
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What a cute, hilarious scene at Christmas that year when TJ was 3.5.

But …

Fast forward to just after Christmas a year later…

when I received his preschool report card. He received all 4s out of 5s except for speaking in full sentences which he did for us. He got a 2!?!?! Then I turned to the back to read the note,

“TJ has a kind heart and is nice to everyone. He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him. I love his art!”

What!?!? “He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him.”

Okay, maybe there was more to this than we knew. After I started to panic, how could we have missed this? Or overlooked it? Did we not read enough books? Would he get picked on or bullied in kindergarten? Did we teach him all wrong? Did we fail him? What other trauma did we cause him? What did I do wrong? And a million other questions….

But then I reminded myself …. breath … pray… breath …

So, I spoke to a close friend at work who works part time at another facility for speech and she calmed me down, suggesting I take him there for an evaluation.   She also mentioned that sometimes problems with eating and speaking are related which got me thinking some more.

A week later, I took TJ to get evaluated and sure enough, he needed speech. Interestingly enough, we learned that some of the problem letters like g and k that were causing him to not be understood were due to lack of muscle strength in his mouth. All related to feeding too!!!

Now, anyone who knows us and knows TJ, knows how we have spent his whole life asking him to chew or eat…. reminding him to chew and eat.

“TJ, what are you eating? TJ, chew your food. TJ, eat. TJ, EEAAATTT!!!!!”

He has always been such a sloooooooooooooooow eater and now we knew part of a reason why….

He mainly uses his front teeth.

So, we had a couple added challenges. But wherever there are problems, there can be solutions as well. Thank God for that!

Therefore, we started using bite blocks and a chewy tube to strengthen his back mouth muscles while also practicing letters and words that he knows how to say but has started to form bad habits with.  This is in addition to speech/feeding class thirty minutes a week.

So while our dining room table now has even more clutter on it with our speech tools and worksheets on it, at least we won’t let any dump trucks trip us up anymore.

Some Days Just Stink

Every January people ring in the New Year with high hopes of it being the break-through year of dreams taking off and miracles happening. And this past January 1st was just the same. I believed the great blessings that this year would bring as soon as the clock struck midnight. While I had tried to stay awake, I had only made it to 11:41 pm.

Hmmm… maybe my lack of endurance had been to blame for what soon happened…

Anyways, I woke up that first day with anything but a restored attitude. Instead, every ounce of my body struggled to get out of bed as I woke up with a massive headache. We had been with our friends and their kids the night before so maybe the two drinks I had gave me a headache? How could I be hung over? Wow, maybe my age was really catching up to me.

Still, I pressed on as parents do… cooking and straightening up, packing and prepping for the upcoming school week after being off for winter break. It was brutal. I told myself I would watch my former student and his Kentucky football team in the Citrus Bowl as I wrote and prepared this blog. However, I found myself freezing under covers watching the game with a heating pad along my spine and my eyes fighting to stay awake.

Soon enough, when the aches began, the thermometer told me different story, a 101 fever! Great! It was the first day of the year …the first day for a restored attitude …

and I could not work out because I felt so terrible…

I could not write (I always started mornings off by praying and writing)…

I could not spend time with my kids…

could not have a romantic evening with my husband…

I could not even eat…

I was not productive…

I just laid around and waited for bedtime.

The virus passed quickly as usual since I had worked hard in building up my immune system after having the kids. Now, I was back at school still not feeling like myself, but functioning and sweating actually more than I would like to admit. I was trying not to feel discouraged. We had so much to look forward to…

My husband had a potential new job offer much closer to home…

My daughter was finally getting to try straight cow’s milk with our allergist the following week …

TJ’s annual blood work for allergy levels would be back soon and for the past two years they had dropped significantly for eggs and dairy…

So much to look forward to! So much to praise God for… just around the corner…

If we could just get to the corner, everything would be okay…

Then the next week came and my husband Timmy took our daughter to try cow’s milk with her doctor. I had it planned out; since I was working until late we would go to church the following day to go to the alter and praise God for the outgrown allergy, a tradition we had done for all of the other food challenges TJ and Madison had passed and allergies they had outgrown. I mean she already ate chicken francaise, Hersey kisses, pizza, baked products, a bunch of items with cow’s milk in it, there was no doubt in our minds that she wouldn’t pass…

until that exact thing happened.

She didn’t pass….

…after just one drop, her mouth got red and itchy. We would have to try again in August…

Then, TJ’s annual results got back and they had stayed pretty much the same. The same!?! I believed… we believed they would drop drastically again…

To make matters worse, Timmy still had no news on the job offer that was given over a month ago.   They had been negotiating back and forth … until finally it fell through …

Jen, breath, it’s all just around the corner.  Just not yet….

 

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And then I read TJ’s report card: “He has a kind heart. Sometimes, he gets frustrated because his friends don’t understand him. I love his art work!”

WHAT!?!?!? Great sandwiching of the comments … but why was this the first time I was hearing about this. Sure, we noticed certain sounds were lacking like tr and k but he was our first, we had no idea what was typical and what wasn’t. As a special education teacher, I tried my hardest to not overanalyze and diagnose my own children.  Maybe, I was wrong…maybe I should have asked…

Guilt and frustration were having a field day…

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So I lost it. 2019, what were you trying to do to me? It had only been a week, but bad news after bad news plus the pile up of responsibilities on my plate at school, built up for a meltdown.

I started to think …
What a “great” year this is going to be?
Now what… will this year bring?
Can we restart?

And even something I totally had wrong:

What had I done wrong?

Then, as I stopped myself to pray. These words spoke to my heart…

“Be present and stay patient in prayer.”

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

It was the time to start declaring the year was going to be one of blessings.  It was not time to be fooled by a bad day, week, month or season. It was certainly not the time to stand around and wait to enjoy “the right now.”

The whole time when I was waiting for the perfect news to praise God and to declare how blessed we were, I had it all wrong.

It’s not about waiting for the thunder to pass …

it’s not about waiting for the good news…

it’s not about waiting for the prayer to be answered ….

the allergy to be cured … the money to come…

It’s about seeing the beauty of the storm itself.

It’s about accepting that some days, some weeks, some seasons just stink, and

that. is. okay.

But what is not okay is believing that those days and storms will always be. Instead, it was believing and knowing that they all have their purpose. That they do transform us into who we are called to be… into our best selves … and for that we can genuinely smile through it, knowing storms do eventually run out of rain.

So get those rain boots on and walk proudly through those puddles. Find laughter through all seasons. Embrace the storm as you learn to dance in the rain, even if it tracks in some mud along the way. 

 

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To 2019… even though we got off on the wrong foot, every day is new chance to start over and for that … we are just getting started!

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm...” – Mark 4:39