Salzburg is…

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Salzburg is romantic castles towering high above the city. History and beauty, and so many stories tucked into the marred, stone walls.

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Salzburg is graveyards and flowers, and beautiful remembrances of loved ones lost.

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 Salzburg is doors. So many magical, curious doors. Doors that might be portals back in time. Or maybe they just lead to the dumpster, but either way, there’s something fascinating about all those doors.

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 Salzburg is a place that can even make McDonalds look inviting and romantic.

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 Salzburg is exploring and hiking behind the castle where you find a leafy path that leads to…where? You don’t know because you don’t have time to explore it. And also, there’s a sign that says Private Property, which really only makes it all the more intriguing, right?

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Salzburg is horse drawn carriages on cobbled sidewalks.

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Salzburg is standing high above the city and biting your lip to keep from singing “The hiiiills are alliiiive!” You want to do it, but you know people would think you were weird.

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Salzburg is flower boxes in windows everywhere you turn.

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Salzburg is a place that you never want to leave. It’s a place you dream of bringing your children.

Salzburg is spectacular.

I decided to leave my bulky camera behind on this trip and, instead, use only my iPhone to capture the images. I’m thankful that I read David Molnar’s iPhone Only Photography book before I came. Have you read it? You should. So many great tips!

 

 

Munich is…

MUC1 Munich is empty hallways, basket clad bikes, and cobbled side streets.

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Munich is architecture and structure and history waiting to be understood.

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Munich is old doors that beg you to imagine what could be behind them.

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Munich is secret gardens tucked behind buildings. It’s vine covered garden homes that glimmer with magic.

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Munich is people walking, laughter on the streets, urban and nature all hugged up tight together.

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Munich is selfies in hats overlooking the city on a beautiful spring day.

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Munich is color and flowers and out door cafes.

Munich is beautiful and inspiring, and I’m off to explore more of her secrets.

 

On Motherhood and Hydrotherapy

I walked timidly into the chiropractor’s office. I don’t like chiropractors. Allowing someone to grab my head and twist it until my neck pops like a roll of bubble wrap makes my stomach get all twisty. I know these people are trained, and I’ve never actually heard of a chiropractor twisting someone’s head right off their body.

But what if it happened, and I was the one on the table?!

I went yesterday, though, because the day before I threw out my back. Because apparently I am an old lady now, and that’s what happens to old ladies who bend over and try to pick up a heavy baby.

Lift with the legs, not with the back!

So I think it was obvious to the people in the office that I was feeling a little nervous. I’m guessing the tip off came when I told the assistant, “I’m super nervous about this.”

She led me to a nearby room and had me lay on a water bed. But this was no ordinary water bed. It was a hydrotherapy water bed, heated to 100 degrees, then turned on to pulsate every bit of nervousness straight out of my body.

For twenty minutes I laid in the dark room while the water beat my muscles into submission, and I think I met Jesus there. When she walked back in and flipped on the lights, I felt momentarily offended. Why would anyone ever tell you to stop laying on a hydrotherapy bed?!

I’m kind of holding out hope that heaven will be equipped with hydrotherapy beds.

By the time I saw the doctor, I was ready to let him pull and pop and crack and maneuver everything around until I felt the tension lessen on my lower back, and I walked out having experienced both the good and the bad of an adjustment. And together they worked to free me of the pain that had threatened to push me down.

As I drove home, all relaxed and happy, I thought about those twenty minutes on the hydro bed and how utterly at peace I felt. My back didn’t hurt, there were no sounds of children or phone messages begging for my attention. It was quiet, save for the hum of the machine that coaxed out all the knots.

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It dawned on me that I haven’t had enough of those moments lately. I haven’t taken enough time to sit still, to close my eyes, to simply relax. Yes, it would help me slip away and recharge if I had my own hydrotherapy bed (and don’t think I haven’t already priced them), but since that’s not an option, I need to come up with another solution.

I’ve felt creatively parched lately. A traveling husband, busy schedules, and little time alone to sit and think left me all knotted up. I sit down to write and the words feel locked, the characters muddled, the stories choppy and incomplete. I try to remember the most basic of tasks, and it’s like someone turns a jack hammer on in my head.

And don’t even get me started on the assignments that teachers are sending home right now. Torture, pure torture. The kids bring home the same predictable homework all year long, and then the last month of school we change it up and play Spelling Bingo, and Living History projects are due?

*bangs head against wall*

But isn’t that the nature of motherhood? It’s like walking into the unknown, your back all tied in knots. And you have to take all the stress and the frustration to the Lord, surrendering control so that He can loosen a few joints. 

Sometimes the loosening feels like a hydrotherapy bed with the Lord offering refreshment through a quick nap, an unexpected play date, or a few moments alone to clear your head.

And other days, you’re not afforded the opportunity to slip away, so you surrender your control to Him, and He loosens the joints for you. You trust that He knows what’s best, and you try to resist pushing back against Him as He makes the necessary adjustments in your heart.

It’s a loose metaphor, I know. But it’s working for me today, and maybe it’ll work for you? Maybe you’re tired, weary as the end of the year push threatens to undo you. Maybe you can’t step away, so you simply need to lean into the Lord and let Him adjust the frustration and fatigue out of your spirit.

Or maybe you just need to buy yourself a hydrotherapy bed.

Happy weekend, everyone! I’m praying it’s a relaxing and sweet time for you all!

 

When Fighting the Good Fight is Hard

She walks out of the bathroom and looks at me imploringly, asking without saying a word, and knowing my answer without really having to be told.

Hanging her head, she trudges to her room and pulls a rash guard on over her two piece bathing suit, then heads out to swim.

This was our compromise. She so desperately wanted a bikini, and I caved, but on one condition: She only wears it at home when it’s our family. If anyone else is over, or she goes to a friend’s house, she wears a swim shirt.

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This has been a tough rule for me to implement, if I’m being honest. Really tough. And I’ve caved on occasion, which isn’t fair to her. But the battle wears me out, because while I do see the value in teaching my daughter modesty, I also understand the struggle that she faces, especially living in a state when it’s bathing suit season year round.

It’s almost true what she tells me: Everyone she knows wears two pieces. And at nine years old, when she’s oblivious to sexuality, teaching modesty is a difficult concept. At this age, it simply boils down to obedience. I require her compliance on this issue even though she doesn’t understand.

“Why does it matter if I show off my body?” she asks. “People don’t really care about looking at me.”

Oh, but my daughter, they do.

It complicates matters when she’s a gymnast, and at nine years old has a body that is envious. Toned and lean, she doesn’t look like most nine year olds, and it makes her dad shudder to think what she’ll look like at 16.

So we fight the fight, even though it’s hard and it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes the boundary lines get muddied, and I stumble over myself, and I can’t find the balance.

“Well, if I’m going to my friend’s house, and it’s just going to be us girls, can I wear my two piece then?” This is where the battle heats up, because why not? Why can’t she if it’s just going to be the girls at a friend’s house? But then the envelope gets pushed even further.

“Well, we’re going to the beach, but it’s just with my friends who are girls, so can I wear my bikini?”

Round and round we go with me bringing bathing suit after bathing suit home for her to try on. Tankini’s and cute one pieces. Fun rash guards that are bright colors. Everything I can do to show her that wearing a bikini is not the only way to have a good time in the sun.

It’s a battle I’m willing to fight, but I admittedly get tired. I grow weary with the constant asking, the forever boundary pushing, and she’s only nine. We have a long way to go.

But I believe it’s a worthy battle. I really do. In a world that defines women by how they look, I want my daughter to have confidence that her bikini body isn’t what’s most important.

And fitting in, though so very compelling, isn’t all that important, either.

I want her to respect her body, and not to define herself against a culture that says more skin means more beautiful.

That being said, what I won’t do is tell her to cover herself in order to help the boys control themselves. It’s not her job to try to control a boy’s physical impulses.

But she can respect their struggle. And she can respect herself.

The truth is, deep down I don’t have a huge problem with two piece bathing suits. Two piece or one pice, a bathing suit leaves little to the imagination, and I think there are plenty of cute two pieces that don’t look like little swaths of lingerie.

But I can predict the future, and I know that if a boundary line isn’t set now, at nine, then when she is sixteen and her body is everything that terrifies her father, it will be too late. The battle for modesty starts today, even if her young mind cannot grasp the importance or significance of the issue.

So every time she comes out with wide, imploring eyes, I offer her a smile and a wink, then toss her the rash guard and remind her that she is precious and beautiful, and it’s okay to be different.

I also bought her a cute tankini that shows a tiny strip of her abdomen.

Compromise. This is the key to winning the good fight.

This post is not at all meant to be an indictment on anyone who allows their daughter to wear a two piece. This is the struggle that we face as a family based on things that we feel are important to us. I am not in any way condemning or laying guilt on those who choose differently.

4th Time’s a Charm. I know what I’m doing. Wait – No I Don’t

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Yesterday, I looked down at my fourth born, who fell asleep on my chest about mid-way through the day because it was Mother’s Day and she apparently wanted to do the sweetest thing she could possibly do to make sure she got the title FAVORITE CHILD (mission accomplished), and I breathed in her scent and thought, “I still have no idea what I’m doing with you.

There are a few perks to having a fourth baby with three older kids in the house. In a lot of ways, I’m much calmer than I was before. And in other ways, I’m a total wreck.

If this baby lives through the next 9 months, it will be a miracle, since we’re roaring into the crawling stage and pretty much this entire house is a choking hazard. Why did we ever get our children toys? Why couldn’t they just play with sticks? Are toys really necessary?

And why did we think a house with a pool was a good idea? Sure, when we moved in we didn’t forsee having another baby. Sure, we live in Florida and the resale value of a house is higher with a pool. But why did we do this? WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!

This is why I don’t sleep anymore.

The perks of having a surprise baby far outweigh any of the drawbacks (i.e. lack of sleep due to the fear of ALL THE THINGS that could go wrong), but in truth, there are days when I simply don’t know what I’m doing.

Am I supposed to be feeding her solids at this point? I dunno.

Should I make her food instead of buying the store bought stuff that’s probably full of arsenic or some other toxin that’s bound to make her a tiny little crazy person in five years? I’m willing to take the risk on the store bought.

Should I give her medicine for this runny nose, or make her tough it out? This is why I have Essential oils. Makes me feel useful and appear to have a plan for how to tackle congestion when on the inside I’m panicking because LOSS OF SLEEP LOSS OF SLEEP LOSS OF SLEEP!

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Sometimes I look into the future, and I wonder how this is going to work with her. When she is six years old, all of her siblings will be teenagers. Will there be time for play dates? Will she be able to have any friends of her own, or will she turn into one of those wallflower Emo girls who can’t hold a decent conversation with people her age because she’s been drug from one event to another with her siblings for the whole of her life?

Should we give her one more sibling so she has a playmate?

THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!

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These kids of mine are all so different. Their gifts are different. Their challenges are different. Their strengths and personalities, likes and dislikes – all of them are so different. And now there’s this baby whose personality is starting to emerge, and I love it. We’re officially entering the phase where every day I claim, “This is my favorite age!

She’s beginning to crawl (Jesus be near), and giggles at random moments (the best ever – don’t let it stop). She’s still sweet, and the fiery side hasn’t emerged quite yet (No back talk, no arched back screams, nothing – This is why she’s so deserving of the FAVORITE CHILD title).

But that’s going to change. I know for certain that it will, and she will present her own unique joys and challenges, likes and dislikes. There’s a part of me that wishes I could just freeze her where she is now. Why do we need to rush on to the next phase?

But then I look at my big kids, and instead of thinking about the challenges, I catalog their strengths. I measure the humor and the talent, the insight, the child-like wisdom, the generosity, and genuine care for the people of this world, and I think that this motherhood gig is pretty dang amazing.

Hard? Yes.

I’ve done it four times now, and do I know what I’m doing? Sometimes. But usually no.

Am I good at it? Yes. Even when I feel like I’m not, I know that I am.

Would I change a single thing? Nope. Not one.

I wouldn’t space things out any differently, either, because seeing my big kids with their sister is heart meltingly sweet. They turn to sugar around her, and she knows it. She may end up rotten for it, but I’ll take rotten over wallflower Emo any day of the week.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go puree some organic applesauce for my sweet baby.

Just kidding – I’m gonna go make myself another cup of coffee and pop open a can of Gerber Stage 2 Sweet Potatoes, then plop a box of Rice Crispies on the table for the big kids.

I win motherhood.

*wink*