That's Life: Motherhood Edition


I’ve been having so much fun with the kids lately. R is absolutely hilarious and has us laughing out loud on a daily basis with the things she says and does. I have an ongoing section in the notes on my iPhone where I write down the funny things she says. Hopefully at some point I'll get around to physically writing them down in her scrapbook.

J is the most adorable chunk, and I cannot stop kissing his squishy cheeks. Sometimes R will run over and shout right in his face, “J, YOU ARE SO CHUNKY” and then start pinching his cheeks together, which is cute but also always ends in someone crying, which is not so cute.

I’ve seen how much fun it is to have your child walk and talk, and I’m excited for J to do those things, but he turned 11 months old last week, and I have to tell you, I’ve been feeling super emotional about it. I feel like this year flew by, and I’m just kind of sad! People always love to say, “The days are long but the years are short.” YES. Okay, we get it. Honest truth: I hate that phrase so much. It straight up depresses me, and I think it’s supposed to be encouraging, but really it just makes me bummed out.

Someone please tell me how to freeze all the moments. Please and thank you.

Here's a little highlight video I made of the last 11 months with J. I have a much longer one I'm working on of his full year, but that won't be interesting to anyone but Jordan and I and probably my mom ;)

It should be visible below, or you can watch it here.

Don’t get me wrong. The kids are a handful, and I often feel like someone exploded a toy grenade inside my house, but gosh they are kind of the best ever.

We are pretty sure J loves sharing a room with R. The other morning, we heard them both awake and talking to each other for a few minutes before R burst into our room, loudly proclaiming, “Hey, it’s me!” J started crying, but he stopped as soon as we went in there to get him. He just wanted to join the party, which is just so like him. He loves looking around and taking it all in.

Speaking of sleeping, it's now been a full year since we transitioned R from a crib to a toddler bed. My friend sent me this meme a few weeks ago, which 100% accurately explains me feelings about how it’s gone this year.

Seriously, when I read blog posts about how so and so’s toddler “just laid down the very first night and went to sleep with no trouble,” I roll my eyes so hard. RUDE.

We have tried many different things, and I think after a year (a year!), we might have finally landed on a routine that has made a huge difference in how well R goes to sleep. She doesn’t always go right down and still comes out a few times, but we aren't having have an hour+ process of torture for all involved.
I bought this bike last year from a neighbor's garage sale for $3, and on Saturday I discovered that she can ride it by herself. Why is she 15 years old all of the sudden???? Someone hold me. And also let's have a moment of silence for my amazing garage sale find. I'm telling myself that's in exchange for all the hairbows I've been buying.

Oh, did I not mention I've become obsessed with bows again? Because guys, I've discovered that if I distract her, I can sneak a CLIP into her ponytail without her knowing. I'm baaaaack. Bye, money.

J is a ton of fun now that he’s crawling. When I get down on the floor and chase him, he screams and starts crawling so fast. He’s started clapping and waving, and he gets so proud of himself and has the biggest grin, complete with the sweetest dimples.

Speaking of J, the strangest thing happened about a month or so ago in regards to nursing. I had stopped pumping at work because I was getting basically nothing during the day, similar to what happened with R. But I was still nursing him in the morning and evenings, and I counted the milk I had in the freezer and I thought I was going to have just enough to get to his first birthday. 

Well, I went on an overnight women's retreat with some ladies from my church at the end of April, and when I got back J straight up refused to nurse. He would scream and push away and literally roll off my lap to get away from me, but then we would offer a bottle of milk and he'd guzzle it down. I would try nursing different times over the course of a few days, and he wasn't having any of it. I felt really bad about it! So we are doing bottles exclusively now, and I burned through my milk stash super quick and used the last of my frozen milk a week before he turned 11 months. I'm more mystified and annoyed than anything, but I won't say I didn't at first also feel a little sad and emotional about it. It hurt my feelings that he didn't want me anymore, and so suddenly! I wasn't prepared for it, but it is what it is.

J has definitely started to have opinions, and our sweet little boy can be feisty sometimes. I think it's the red hair coming out ;) But I can tell he loves his big sister so much. There are actually moments occasionally when they will play together! It only lasts about a minute or two before someone steal someone else’s toy or someone gets pushed over or banged on the head with a block, but those few moments are the best.
The first few weeks after we brought J home from the hospital, we honestly wondered what on earth we had done to ourselves. But I am loving their age gap (just about 22 months). We had some trouble getting pregnant with R, and I am just constantly thankful and grateful and all the feelings about my two babies.

My only complaint (other than ALL THE MESS ALL THE TIME WHY) is that they keep growing. Stay little forever, please?

Decorating the Front Porch


*I received a free product from Commercial Silk in exchange for a review. All opinions are mine. This post contains affiliate links.

Hi, my name is Amanda, and I am a plant killer. 

I have the blackest of black thumbs and have killed three succulents and counting. I thought succulents were supposed to be able to survive in the middle of the desert through a nuclear explosion, but whatever.

When reached out to me and offered the chance to review one of their silk (aka artificial) plants in exchange for a blog post, I said heck to the yes. The only decision was what to get and where to put it. I decided to see if I could find something for our front porch and landed on this ficus.

One thing I love about our house is the front porch. When I take the kids on walks around the neighborhood, I always look at the front porches, and ours is larger than the majority of our neighbors. We have a large bush along the side that provides some privacy, and we have a big picture window in front. The window was original to the house 30+ years ago, and last January we put in a brand-new window. I absolutely love how bright it makes our front room, plus we could totally tell a different this past winter in how much better insulated it was than the old one!

But back to the porch. I love being outside as much as possible, and both R and J love being outside too. Since we bought our house 3 years ago, I've been slowly trying to make both our front porch and backyard areas nice, inviting places where we would want to spend time in the evenings after work and on the weekends. I am by no means a designer and will never have a Pinterest-perfect space, but I am loving the small additions I've made to our front recently! Now to get on fixing up the jungle that is our landscaping.... (Seriously, I need massive help in this area. I'm kind of ashamed of how it looks right now.)

Last year I bought a wooden bench from Wayfair, and I found a $10 table at Target on clearance that I put next to it. My new ficus tree fits perfectly on it! You can of course find outdoor pillows anywhere. The blue one was 50% off at Hobby Lobby, and I have two others that I bought last year at Lowe's.

My recent love is our navy and white outdoor rug from Wayfair. If you haven't shopped at Wayfair yet, you should! And today is a great day to do it, because they are having a big sale up to 70% off lots of items for summer. (This post is not at all sponsored by Wayfair, but I would be all over that if they contacted me! I love them. Their shipping are customer service are amazing!) I can't find a direct link to my exact rug, but they have hundreds of rugs to choose from at great prices. It's already been so nice to sit on outside on the floor with J and not feel the cold concrete! (Although now that he's more mobile he doesn't seem to care about that.)
I don't know if I will keep the ficus in the front forever, but for right now I think it livens up the space a bit. My next project is the front door itself. I'm considering painting it! It's just plain white right now, and I think it would be fun to choose something else.

Jordan is currently in the middle of a big project in the back: rebuilding our deck. The wood was old and splintered, and I never wanted R running around out there. I'm hoping he can finish it up by the time we have J's first birthday party!
(The white bench is a Craigslist find. And funny story, when I bought it, I didn't pay attention to the dimensions. We drove Jordan's truck to pick it up expecting a large bench and were confused when the guy pulled this out of their garage. We were like, um, we could have driven the Ford Focus. lol)

If you are considering artificial plants, check out commercial silk. The shipping was fast, and the tree looks really nice. Also, I can't kill this one! I will say that the first time my tree arrived in the mail, the base was all cracked and broken, but they were nice and sent me a new one, and it came just fine! I'm thankful for blogging providing me opportunities to try out things I normally wouldn't, and I am loving the addition to our front porch. 

I think the kids are too, although at the time of taking these pictures, there was a slight mishap with J wanting to steal R's cup of pretzels. She sat the rest of the time with her hand high above her head so he couldn't grab them. Ah, sibling love ;)

If you have any fun front or back porch ideas, please share!

Lucky #7


“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. 

There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. 

Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. 

If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. 

Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. 

Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. 

They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. 

They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. 

‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

-C.S. Lewis

Trusting Your Gut as a Mom and Protecting Your Baby's


This post is sponsored by Evivo, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

There is a ton of stuff to learn about babies and motherhood, and when you're preparing to have your first child, the whole thing can be pretty overwhelming. At least, it sure was to me. 

One thing that sticks out to me in particular throughout the last almost three years of motherhood is how random babies are. They start doing this or doing that and you don't know what on earth is going on. Are they teething? Do they have the flu? Stomach bug? Do they have an ear infection? Are they just messing with me for the fun of it? Who knows???? And then just when you think you've figured it out, they switch things up on you and do something else!

It can be intimidating, frustrating, and sometimes scary when you don't know what's going on with your child, but as I've grown as a mom and learned more and more about my babies as they get older, I've found that I really can trust my mom gut a lot of the time, which is such a nice feeling!
Unfortunately, we can't totally avoid our babies getting sick, especially for my kids since they are in full-time daycare. They are constantly exposed to viruses and other things that they wouldn't necessarily be if I stayed at home. (Although I tell myself they are getting it all out of the way by being exposed when they are young!)

One thing I've been super happy to discover over the last couple of months is the Evivo daily probiotic. This is something I learned about near the end of last year, and we have personally purchased Evivo for J and been using it daily for the last few months.
Evivo is a once-daily powder you mix with a small amount of breastmilk. It's the only infant probiotic that repopulates the gut with good bacteria by transforming special carbohydrates found in breastmilk to promote the growth of the B. infantis bacteria.
Bad bacteria in a baby's gut is linked to a higher risk of autoimmune and metabolic issues like colic, eczema, allergies, diabetes, and obesity later in life.  When more good bacteria is present, it creates a protective wall and crowds out the bad bacteria. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 babies today are experiencing a disruption in their gut, which causes more bad bacteria to thrive.

I personally love the science behind Evivo, and I can tell you that J has been sick his first year of daycare much less than R was. I seriously felt like I was taking her to the doctor all the time! Whether or not Evivo is the difference, it sure makes me feel better to be able to give him something like this that will hopefully start him off on the right foot. Your baby can take Evivo as long as they are consuming breastmilk! (Which means we will be stopping once he's a year old next month because Mama ain't got no more milk. A blog post for another time, perhaps.)
The FAQ page on their website answers some great questions if you're interested in learning more. It also mentions seeing if your insurance will reimburse you for it! We all want the best for our babies, and you don't want to mess around with gut health! My mama gut says so ;)

Want to try out Evivo for yourself? Here are a few coupon codes!
Note: All coupons expire 6/30/18 and are limited to the first 50 redemptions.