Saturday, December 29, 2012

Prepping for 2013: Keeping Organized

This was Eamon's first full week of work at his new job.
It was important for me to take this week captive to start off with new, good habits so that he has confidence that the home is taken care of while he is back at work. So much of the past nine months has been "Oh, hey, Eamon, can you get that real quick?" while I deprioritize my family. I've been really nervous about the transition, and I have had a bit more anxiety, going to bed exhausted every night with a clean home has been so refreshing.

Here are some things that have helped:
  • This mama said she never goes to bed with dirty dishes in the sink so (other than last night, yesterday was particularly craptastic) this week I made sure that I didn't either. It made our mornings go much smoother.
  • Having an activity planned for the girls every day was also very helpful.
  • I allowed myself one PJ day, but made sure I was dressed and my hair was brushed (not did, just de-bed-headed) and I showered more often (and with a preggo belly and two toddlers who do not understand "personal space" that is a daunting task that results in a very crowded shower)
  • One of these mamas reminded me that the "Good mom's have messy floors and happy children" is kind of for the birds. Yes, your children's happiness is more important than a shiny floor, but a disorganized home, for me, is just added chaos in a sometimes very stressful environment. So taking control of my household to better serve my children is what makes me a "good mom." Not messy floors ;]
  • I made sure the girls were also dressed, dressed, every day. If they took their clothes off, that's their prerogative,  but at least I tried.
  • I stuck to my daily to-dos, and made sure I had them every day.

I feel like 2012 was a very unorganized year for us. In 2011 I started a "Home Planning Folder" and it did wonders for our family. I got the idea from here nearly exactly like this:

In 2012, with Eamon and I both working from home, things got very confusing. And out of control.
So this week I went back and tried to gather my resources, knowing now what has worked, and what hasn't, and started going putting together my binder for this coming year. It will grow and change as the year moves on, but for now, this is what I have planned:

Burke Home Planning Folder
Family Members

  • How to pray for my husband
  • Date Night Ideas
  • Work Schedule

  • Devotional
  • Pray (Missional Work & Prayer List)
  • Blog (Ideas for Mother, Mae I? and calendar)
  • Healthy (Food Diary & Exercise Log)
  • Make (Crafts & Around the house To-Dos)


  • Learning (Monthly goals [a calendar with objectives of things I'd like to cover that week, not a lesson plan], Book List, Chore Chart)
  • How to pray for Lily

  • Healthy (Food Diary [with reactions], Supplement Chart/Inventory, Doctor Visit Notes)
  • Learning (Chore Chart, Potty Chart, Book List)
  • How to pray for Norah

  • Planning (Baby Names, Baby Needs [by third baby, some things definitely need replacing] Finances for Midwife, Finances for Photography)
  • Healthy (Appointment Calendar, Supplement List, Midwife/Doula Notes)
  • How to pray for Baby

The Home

  • Monthly Budget
  • Calendar with Due Dates
  • Debt
  • Savings
  • Charity

Meal Plan:
  • Monthly Meal Plan Calendar
  • Grocery Lists

  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily To Dos

  • House Cleaning Schedule (Weekly & Monthly)
  • Projects to be done before Baby comes (Room by Room)

What about you? Do you have a way to help keep your home in running order? What about an organizer? What is something that's a must in your book?

Hoping your 2013 is starting to look organized and joyous,

Letter to Baby: 3.21

Today I am 22 weeks, here's how this past week went:

-spicy cravings are in overdrive. I fermented peppers and jalepenos. Note to self: STOP EATING THEM BEFORE BED (hashtag, pregnancy dreams are for suckers)
-this was the first week of daddy being at work full time, and I did it! I didn't go hide in my room but once ;]
-Norah held a newborn for the first time this week, and while she looked at it like it may actually eat her at any moment for a few minutes, she then snuggled it and gave it kisses and pet it's precious newborn hair. It's so hard to imagine that Lily was exactly this age when Norah was born.

Dear Baby,
Happy Christmas, Little one! Since your sisters both came at 41 weeks, I will go ahead and say that I'm officially over halfway to your due date, but who knows! I'm happy to let you pick your birthday, we'll celebrate whenever you are ready. We celebrate the birth of our Savior this week and it had me thinking of you so frequently. I hope we bring you close to Him, show you His love, raise you with His passion. You were made on a very magical night when there were thousands of stars whirling about the heavens, fighting for our attention, but they were no competition for Love. I felt the Lord tell me shortly after that I was going to be entering a season of Peace, and then we found out you were on your way. When we spend time together at night, I call you my Little Star. I am confident that you are sent from our Father, little one, and that you will lead people to worship Jesus. I can't wait to know you more.

All my love,

(See more of this series here)

White Christmas

We had a quiet Christmas around here. Woke up, opened a few presents, made a giant(ish) breakfast, laid around in our PJs, and all of a started to snow. I don't think I've ever dressed the girls that quickly. Not in their whole life. Lily loved it, Norah...wanted to, husband wanted nothing to do with it ;] The girls had "snow icecream" for snack that day and the two days that followed (or back porch doesn't get any sun on it, so the snow didn't meal until the temperature raised) I made my first Christmas dinner all by myself (E usually does it) and actually went to bed early. It was a good day. There were few "Mama, are you happy? Or stressed?" inquiries from Lily, both girls enjoyed their sweet toys that our very generous friends from DC sent them, and I didn't clean a thing except dinner dishes. It was nice :]

Hope your Christmas was peaceful and you are gearing up for a fabulous New Year!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Letter to Baby: 3.19 & 3.20

I'm slackin, huh? I'm in my 21st week now, here's how 19 & 20 went :]

Dear Baby,

Your daddy got a new job this week, we are absolutely thrilled that he will be able to provide a little bit more so mama can spend more time with your sisters and you. We got to meet your sweet friend, Ivy Grace this week as mama photographed her birth. I got braxton hicks every time her mommy had a good contraction. I am excited for your birth, I got to see most of our birth team at her birth and know they will help welcome you peacefully and joyously.

All my love,

Dear Baby,

This is when most parents find out if their little baby is a boy or a girl, but we are waiting until your birthday. Lily thinks your are a boy, Norah thinks that you are a belly button, and Daddy thinks you are a boy as well. Carrying you has been so different from your sisters' pregnancies, that I'm inclined to say boy. I know what you are, as far as what God's promised me, but I don't know if you are a boy or girl. I was a little overcome with grief again this week worried about your formation and whether or not you'd be sick like Norah. I don't want that for you, and I don't know that I can handle it. I (and all the people who love you) are praying that your organs are all fully developed, and that your skin never sees an itchy day. I'm trying my hardest to give you all the best foods so you get nice and chubby but stay healthy.

All my love,

Friday, December 21, 2012


This week has been slow.
Hard work around the house, putting the rest of life on hold while I reset my focus and energy. Putting off my bussiness (mostly) to bring all of my attention to housework, scheduling, planning, etc., has been really hard for me, but my home and family are reaping the benefits.

I'm hoping that after a little bit of shifting, I can have a short time of rest. A dear sweet friend sent this blog over to me earlier this week and it was refreshing and affirming. I'm not sure where it's from, if you do, let me know!


" Am I Allowed To Be Tired?

This is a distinctly awkward and challenging time of my life. "Challenging" is the word believers use for an "this completely sucks but I gotta show I have faith" response. My extended family is in what is now, a chronic state of duress. Some things are being torn from me that I desperately do not wish to tear and I feel gutted about it. My husband is working so hard to start a new business that will provide for 6 people and 2 dogs. We don't know if it will work. If anything requiring an "emergency fund" were to occur, we would be stuck and it's been that way now for over a year. It feels ike tight-rope walking over snapping alligators. The world feels to me threatening and precarious. Lovely and viscious on a dime. I seem to arc between ok-ness and hyperventilation. (I'm not kidding, it has happened 3 x's now and it is highly inconvenient). I know the truth. I have been divinely set up, in my life, to have reasons to believe that I am seen, known and loved by God. I have been disconnected from misery and tied into hope repeatedly in my life. I know how, ultimately, this story ends. I know enough to never truly abandon my fiath. I know there are millions of folks who have more gruelling financial isues that I do. There are folks sick with disease who suffer like I have never known.

But, what of weariness? I have been thinking about weariness a lot lately. Usually, when I start to crater and doubt and when I take on a slightly cynical edge, I feel immediately guilty. "What about that stuff God showed you? Have you forgotten it? Did you let go of that truth? It probably didn't change you, if you are digressing now. You will most likely have to learn that again."

Here's my dilemna. Lately I sense this about my own troubled heart: I have not decided to unbelieve the truth God has taken the time to put into me. I'm just tired of holding on. I'm tired of quoting the truth to myself aloud several times a day. I'm weary of the battle against doubt. I haven't given up, I'm just tired. Is there a place for weariness in my life, without self-flagellation? I run some and I know the value of pushing through all of the way to fatigue. I know well the relief of a slowed pace after an extended push. The gasping for air. Just because I am tired and panting doesn't mean I am, in that moment, a terrible runner with lousy form who never knew anything about running. It simply means...I ran.

Remember Frodo at Mount Doom? He was bone weary by the time he arrived at his destiny, the destruction of the one ring. He was pale, injured, weak. Just because he was so, after his excruciating journey (stabbed by a wraith, bitten by a giant spider, endless miles of terrifying pursuit, the loss of some dear to him) doesn't mean he had been doing a poor job up until that point. Hard things are hard. Fighting is fighting. The result of hard physical labor is exhaustion. The result of hard spiritual and emotional exertion is no different. I think, in my own mind, where a few religious blinds still hang on the windows, there is no room for me to wear out. For me, there's shame in it. I tell myself, "You know Michelle, if you really were stronger, you could make it through this hard time without doubtful, weak thoughts". So little mercy for myself. So little acknowledgement of the cost of fighting on a heart.

So there is Frodo, he has fallen over the mouth of the wicked volcano rumbling inside Mount Doom. He is hanging by one hand. He has just completed the task Gandalf gave him, but he is too weary now to pull himself to safety. His hanging on the precipice is not due to any failure on his part, it is due to his exhaustion from fighting. Michelle, your hanging from a cliff edge, hyperventilating, worrying and crying is not due to you failing in your walk with God, it is due to your exhaustion from fighting.

Why would the Scriptures say things like, "He will RENEW your strength" if our strength never needed renewing. Things that need renewing are things that have expired. Come to the end of their term. Worn out. Used up. And what about "all you who are weary, come to Me and I will give you rest"? The writer doesn't imply there "all who are faith sissies who can't hold firm through anything, come to me for a a berating". He makes a way for fighting and He allows for weariness. It's a cycle, even in our human bodies, the machines that they are. So, if God does, who don't I? Who do I think I am? What prideful cape do I wear that puts me above tiredness in my own mind?

So, here is the conversation I will have with my own heart today. Michelle, you have been fighting for a long while. you have done well! You have fought with passion and fire. You have contended with your enemies and fought to hold onto truth. You have trusted the Trustworthy and used your weapons well. You have run, you have hidden, you have chased, you have cried out, stepped between and snatched some important things back from their destruction Now you are tired. Tired muscles weaken and lose their grip. That's ok. It only means it's time to rest. To renew expired strength. To give way to weariness. To succumb to it's place in the cycle of restoration. Let go of the shame you place on yourself in the slipping. It's not a sin to be tired. Deep down, accept that weariness is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. A muscle that has been worked to exhaustion is a stronger muscle, once it has been given time to recover. Feel a satisfaction of sorts for having used your muscles and give them a minute to collect themselves. Good job, now take a break.

Even as I speak these words to myself, I see the critical moment where Samwise becomes the obvious hero to me. Frodo is dangling over molten fire by a few weak fingers and Sam's stout hand stretches down to save him. Frodo clasps Sam's forearm with his mangled free hand and it is enough of a hold to drag him off of the edge. What follows is a feathered extraction to safety and a coma-like sleep that lasts for days and days. Frodo awakens form his deep sleep and not a single friend says anything like this: "Wow, you sure slept a long time. Do you really think that was necessary? We needed you. Could you please get busy around here?" Nope. Just more love for him. Joy at his health, restoration and laughter.

I have a fellowship, a cloud of witnesses who would pull me of off the cliff's edge and who would wait by by my bedside. I am a witness to many I would do the same for. If I would treat someone else who is exhausted with respect and tenderness, then I must turn this same approach onto myself. I must respect the Divine Provision for hard work, exhaustion, rest and renewal. I must never despise myself for wearing out on any level, ever again."


Having someone "allow" me to be tired and just tell me they can understand I would be took a huge weight off of my shoulders. These past few days I've woken up earlier than usual, with the day already planned, snuggled with this sweet little girl (instead of letting the greif of her wrecking my nights consume me) while she's still "the baby" and put all of my energy into turning our house around. I'm completely spent by naptime, but it's been fine. Dinner's already been prepped and I've had activities for the girls that they've loved (instead.of being babysat by tv til dinner). I have even.taken lots of YOUR advice and tips on how you keep your home tidy to help keep things in order.

Thank you for all of your prayers, keep em comin <3


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Pray

I laid in bed crying with Norah last night as her ritual of wake up, scratch til it hurts, cry, come to mamas bed and scream, cry and scratch for a few hours was nearly over.

It was about 330 and I was trying to remember all of the good things about her to put me in a happy place and try not to dwell on "What if Baby #3 is just like this?" (though, I did, lots) I tried thinking back on blog posts that told of the great weekend I had with her and then realized that she's been such hard work that I've rarely talked about her here. What she's like when she's not scratching and screaming. Because if she is having a great day, there's no way I'm going to waste it by siting on the computer to type it all out. Having a child with an auto immune disease that isn't life threatening is really hard. There are no support groups for "my kid just effing itches all of the time." There's no way to fully explain that the reason I'm not sleeping is because I weaned my daughter at 18 months because nursing her was making me physically ill, and she doesn't know how to comfort herself, and I don't know how to teach her. That it's not a discipline issue, she has a psychological problem, and I have no idea what else I can do to give her some relief. There are no financial aid funds for babies with itchy skin who have to see a specialized doctor to be repeatedly tested. And there is not enough patience in the world for me to deal with every person who looks at her and says "Oh, that poor thing, she must be miserable" and then ask if I've changed her detergent.

So after a few hours of ^this^ and more, and writing what must look like a words from a lunatic in an email to some friends, I finally prayed. (I hate that I so often turn to everyone else before I turn to God. Such an awful part of my heart) Not long into my prayer did I realize that I had already gotten off track, thinking about what I've got to change about my meal plan, how I'm going to survive with Eamon working long hours out of the house again  the(but THANK YOU JESUS for new job!), what I've got to tell everyone on facebook...It's pathetic, really. So I started my prayer again, only to get in a few sentences to start the same cycle again. And again. And again. My discipline in prayer is dismal.

So, I recognize this, and I'll be working on it (which means that I'll be in my word more too) but in the meantime, I could use some help to keep these prayers going. If you're the praying type, and you'd like to pray for us, here's what we need:

Lily: patience while her home education has been delayed and an ever growing desire to learn and grow close to Jesus. She is a huge helper with Norah, and loves her deeply. But her emotions get the best of her often resulting in three crying Burke ladies. That ain't pretty, y'all.

Norah: for Norah, we need a miracle. I need her body to be healed. I need her mind and little fingers to find peace to not scratch her skin so that when this new mystery rash does go away, it can heal. I need a way to be made for her to go see her doctor. I need divine wisdom to know how to discipline her in particular in a way that doesn't leave her to harm herself. I need her to know what peace feels like. I can't give that to her, only Jesus can. Please pray He can heal her and bring her peace because part of me is really doubting not that He can, but that He will.

Baby: I want to enjoy this baby more than you know, but the fear that I will have as much work cut out for me with him/her (or more!) than I do with Norah is almost crippling. Pray protection over this little baby as s/he grows. That her intestines would form properly, that all of his/her immune and histamyn receptors are in perfect working order and that s/he will have beautiful perfectly smooth skin.

Eamon: Eamon needs encouragement and strength to succeed at his new job. He needs to know that I believe in him, and he needs me to be able to hold down the fort while he provides for our family. I know I can't give him that confidence yet, because I haven't shown him that I can, but I want to.

Mae: I need to be lifted out of the fog of depression, I need to have a clear head, and a willing heart that will help me be the mom I want to be for the girls. I need to enjoy this pregnancy, enjoy my babies, enjoy Norah. I need to accept what I can and should do for my family and be encouraged that I am capable of it.

I woke up this morning, to get on facebook to clean out some friends and saw this verse posted on my church's page, how fitting.

""In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for

 we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself

intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings."

- Romans 8:26 (NET Bible)"

Much love to you and yours and thank you for taking the time to read this, or even pray. Hoping you are having a very Happy Christmas (I'll be back soon with pregnancy pictures :])

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Letter to Baby: 3.18

Welp, I lied.
No mid-week post from the Burkes.

We had a tremendously busy week, something every night which is very different for us. With giving more intentionality to living communally and missionally, and having the Christmas season to celebrate all sorts of fun, we have been worn out with socializing, but it's a good worn out.

This pregnancy's been so emotionally tough, that I've had to accept that this may be my last pregnancy and cherish it as if it is! I doubt we won't have new additions to our family in the future, but knowing how hard this one has been makes me a little wary.

I'm headed into week 19 (whoa.) and still feeling great, but definitely starting to feel "pregnant". No hiding the bump any more. (Well, I would think, it's still so funny to me when people are like "Ohmygosh! I didn't even know you were pregnant!" I think..."uuuuhhh...then how exactly do you explain >this
Since this is the point most people find out if they are having a boy or girl, we've been talking about baby names. We like Phoebe for a girl and we've talked about Sterling for a boy's name (first or middle). But of course, you can come out and surprise us and let us know what your name is :]

You are growing fantastically, sweetie. I can feel you stretched out from my belly button to my hips, pushing every which way, swimming around in your little home. I think all that sparkling water and pepper flakes got to you as you keep getting the hiccups. Learning to breath is tough work ;]. You played a joke on daddy this week when he said "I don't wanna feel, the kicks are always too little for me to notice" and BAM, you gave him a nice big kick that moved his finger. Cannot wait to hold those sweet little toes in a few months. We have decided on a girl name and are still working on a boy name, but have a meaning as we pray and learn about who you are.

All my love,

(See the full series here)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Letter to Baby: 3.16 & 3.17

I am 18 weeks and a day, and almost forgot to update the past few weeks!
It is Dec 2 and yesterday was EIGHTY-FIVE degrees. Ridiculous, I tell you.
I'll be back later on this week with other Burke family happenings that are less "Bump-centric". Promise.

This week felt like coming out of a fog. Lots of deep breaths, lots of thankful prayers, and lots of planning for your future. You came along with me to photograph a birth this week and how lovely it was. As I was editing I couldn't help but think about what the moment is going to be like bringing you up to my body to feel your warm, slippery, tiny self safe in my arms against my chest. Waiting to meet you has become exciting in a whole new way.

All my love,


We were two busy bees this week! Mama had lots of shoots to run off to. You met lots of new babies with me and spent many hours in front of the computer working too. You are pretty much over me wearing pants as evident by your tiny squirms every time I fold forward when wearing them. I can feel your tiny form in the mornings when I wake up after you've curled into a ball and settled at the front of my belly. Your daddy and I have noticed so many changes in my body this week, mostly everything getting wider or fuller. My lines are starting to soften up a bit to prepare for cuddling my squishy little bundle in the spring. I have craved bubbly refreshing drinks and fermented goodies all week, hope all of the bubbles aren't giving you hiccups.

All my love,

(See the full series here)