I Have a Book

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I have a book. A book of horrors. I can’t even crack it open without my heart beginning to race. I can’t peek at its pages without feeling the sweat form on my palms. Common sense would tell you to avoid such a book, but I cannot. I keep coming back to it as though it holds me captive in some way. Oh right, it does. This book of horrors is…my planner (insert eerie music, a bolt of lightning, and a menacing laugh).

I used to get joy from my planner. I love to pick a new one every year; one that reflects how I feel about that year. I used to use pretty pens to color code categories of events. I used to enjoy filling it out. Birthdays, outings, new beginnings, even memories were recorded. Gone are the days of color coding, and joyful scheduling. Now it is like a puzzle; the kind where you not only need each piece in the right place, but it must be lined up perfectly to fit into its space. Or maybe it’s a ball and chain; I feel I must carry it with me everywhere. Without fail, if I bring it with me, I will not need it, but if I forget it at home, I will need to check it before committing to something else. This falls under the umbrella of Parental Murphy’s Law. The same law that says that the one time you run to the store with your kids (and yourself) looking affright is the time you will run into someone you know that you, until now, had convinced that you always had it together. It is also the same law that says if you go out without an extra pair of underwear in the car, someone will inevitably have an accident. Hold on, I’m getting a shiver up my spine. Ok, it is gone.

Allow me to show you my planner for this year. It’s so cute.

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Now let me show you inside of it-the week before school started. No pretty colors, no orderly layout. Chaos.


I loved the cover when I picked it. I bought it in December. I had just gotten engaged. My fiancé and his three girls were moving to my town and we were to be married sometime before the end of the year. It had been a hard couple of years prior to this one so this cover was worth the extra money I didn’t have to replace the one that came with the planner. “It’s Your Year.” Encouragement to look upon every time I took out my planner. A reminder that no matter how full the pages of this planner may get, this is my year. The year everything would (and did!) change. The year God would turn what had been ashes of a former life into a life with beauty I couldn’t even imagine. How quickly busyness causes us to lose sight of the blessings. I never leave my planner open to the current week so that every time I need to reference the planner, I see my reminder. I still swear I feel a chill upon opening it, but I am reminded how welcome all this busyness is and that it is all the blessings this year brought that keep me this busy.

The chaos within-The week before school started was full of appointments, phone calls, repeated visits to schools, school supply shopping and holy open houses batman. It didn’t help that we showed up to one doctor appointment 5 hours early and it was a 20 minute drive there. There was also the fun of having one child accepted into a gifted program (yay! woot! huzzah!), but the school still needing a completed application packet for their records. Gathering everything needed for that was like a time intensive scavenger hunt! I won’t recount for you how interesting drop off and pick ups are at the moment living outside of the school district, having kids in three different schools, and all having different start and end times. Say hello to lunches and entertainment in the bus for the littles and the little red gas light that always seems to be on!IMG_4255

Ok, so obviously I am over exaggerating A BIT by calling it a book of horrors, but I am sure many of you can relate to the sentiment. If you have been a reader long, you know our love of the phrase “Beautiful Chaos.”image2 (9) The schedule, along with our lives is chaotic, but I love being a mom, I love having this big family, and I love being busy for them. Does it always show on my face? Most definitely not. I have written before about my RSF (Resting Stressed Face). David says to me all the time, “Are you sure you’re still happy? Is this really what you wanted?” I remind him time after time that I have experienced two different mom lives before this one. My first mom life was one where I wasn’t alone, but I felt alone. I had infant twins, then three in diapers, then four in diapers/pull-ups at the same time, and did most of the care myself. My second mom life was as a single mom and started with two 3 year olds, a 2 year old, and a 6 month old. I also owned a small business at this time and worked long hours to keep it afloat. For a long season, time and schedules didn’t even exist. What even was a planner? It was put your head down and power through every day. I now consider those two mom lives to be my training-preparing to be a blended mommy. This mom life I live now is busy and challenging and exhausting at times, but trumps either mom life I had before. Being a mom has always been worth it, but I enjoy it so much more with a teammate and a home exploding with love. Yes, this is what I wanted. 

These people that surround me are my family. They were always going to be my family-the whole lot of them! My early years as a mom conditioned me for this family. If you think you hear my horn tooting, I assure you it is not.

This shocked face is the result of getting all 7 of the kids out the door EARLY for school thus giving me time to get some Dunkin’. Shocked=NOT the norm 

 I do not think I am super mom. In fact, being a mom makes me feel oh so human most of the time. Anyone else?? I lose my temper, I buckle under the weight of the schedule, I forget things, I get grumpy, I forget things, I don’t act with grace, I lose sight of the blessings, I forget things. The very day I first wrote most of this post, I had a bad day. I was sick and the schedule was full. As the day went on, my grumpy grew. Toward the end I texted my husband, “Freaking. Hard. Day.” He texted back, “Same here baby. So very long and involved.” I rarely admit I am struggling because I don’t want him or anyone else to think I don’t “got this.” Did you catch that? I think I need to write that differently for my own sake. I rarely admit I am struggling because PRIDE. I texted him because I was wanting encouragement, support, something. Here are the two problems with that: 1.) I didn’t tell him what I needed (not fair) 2.) It is not his job to fill my empties. The only One who can fulfill me, sustain me, strengthen me, and restore my joy is God and He is who I should be turning to when my soul is in need. Expecting my husband to do that for me is not fair to him. I should have run to God first, and then my husband WITHOUT expecting him to read my mind. I share all of this to show that I am not a perfect mom who juggles all of this with ease, I am just a mom. I am a good mom. A mom who doesn’t always get it right, a mom who doesn’t always remember to be thankful, a mom who forgets. But I am also a mom who keeps a teachable heart, is equipped to live this mom life, is sustained every day, and who doesn’t have to be a prisoner to the planner.


I have a book. image4 (5)A book of blessings. I can crack it open and feel my heart begin to fill. I can peek at its pages see evidence of all the people I love. Common sense would tell you to appreciate such a book, but I don’t always. I forget to count it all joy. I’m learning more every day. This book of blessings is my planner (insert a mom that chooses to be happy, 7 wonderful children, and a patient understanding man I am so happy to call my husband).



Since I briefly referenced the first days of school, I feel I have the right to share pictures of my children like a good mom loves to do!

Ashley Karaffa

Ashley is mother to a blended family of 10 and appreciating the beautiful chaos of it all. She enjoys creating systems - because how can you survive a family with 8 kids without systems - and spending time celebrating her family.


  1. blueandthebeenblog on August 24, 2017 at 1:22 am

    “Being a mom has always been worth it, but I enjoy it so much more with a teammate and a home exploding with love. ”
    … beautifully stated.

  2. Barbara O on August 24, 2017 at 1:55 am

    I love all your posts. This one …..at the end made me cry. Happy tears.

  3. raoulworks on August 24, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Loved It.

  4. Christine Norris on August 24, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    You, Mrs. Ashley Karaffa inspire me. God is using your story and your testimony even to a no birthed babies of my own, middle aged woman. May God continue to bless you richly. I love you my sweet, courageous, sassy, strong, willing to be vulnerable friend.

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