Happy Halloween!

10.31.2015


R told me that she wanted to pop in and wish you a happy Halloween! She said it, I swear. We won't be celebrating exactly (because she's two months old and doesn't care), but I thought I would take a picture to document the day. Straight chillin' with her friend the pumpkin, y'all.

I did buy some candy, so we'll see if our street is big for the trick-or-treaters. I'll let you know. I hope you have a great day and weekend, friends!

p.s. In case you missed it, I posted a few of our baby registry favorites.

p.p.s. A recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins! I made a double batch and froze half for a quick morning breakfast. So good.

5 Favorite Baby Registry Items [0-3 Months]

10.30.2015

Five Baby Registry Favorites

A good friend of mine is pregnant, and she recently asked me what are some of our favorite newborn items that she should register for. It was extremely overwhelming when Jordan and I went to Target to register, and I remember scouring blogs to see what my friends were suggesting, so I thought I would make a post of my own, and hopefully this is helpful to you!

I am only including our top five, because I figure that will make it less complicated for you than if I were to include twenty things. Also, I recommend checking out Emily's list, because she has it organized by hierarchy of needs, which I think is helpful! I also liked Allison's list.


At $100, this is a pricy item, but we have used this a lot since R was born. The first week, this is what she slept in every night, and for the first month at least, she was in this most of the day when we weren't holding her. It's super easy to fold up and take with you, and we've taken this to Texas or over to a friend's house so she can go to sleep in the other room if we are going to be there late. It comes with a carrying bag, and we love it! It's recommended for use up to 6 months.

We actually didn't register for these, but someone got them for us as a shower gift, and we use them daily. These blankets are so soft and big and are perfect for covering for naps, laying on the floor for tummy time, or keeping in the diaper bag as a makeshift nursing cover or to cover her legs if she gets cold in the car seat. Plus, hello, the girl ones are so cute and have elephants on them!

Say what you will about spending hundreds of dollars on a mattress for your baby's crib, but I bought this for $44 on Amazon, and we have no complaints. A friend of mine loves to research stuff, and she said she spent a ton of time reading reviews and studies about mattresses, and she decided that a more expensive mattress wasn't necessarily better. She bought this one, so I did too! My parents also bought this mattress for the crib they set up at their house. Basically all the cool kids are doing it.

You don't have to get this exact rocker (obviously), but you are going to want some kind of portable seat that your newborn and baby can lie/sit in. We didn't actually have one of these until I saw this at a friend's house. I went and bought it the same day, and we use it daily with R. She was too small for it at first, but we love it now. She can hang out and watch me in the kitchen or sit by Jordan in his office, and we can easily move her from room to room. The downside to this one is that it doesn't fold up, so it's not super easy to take with you somewhere else because it takes up space in the car.
You can remove the toys that hang across the top, and the seat is battery operated to vibrate and play music. It can rock back and forth, but you have to nudge it with your foot. Or, the back legs come down so it just sits but won't rock. We have noticed that as R gets older, she prefers to sit up instead of just lie down like she would in the bassinet, so that's primarily used for sleeping or naps now. This rocker is great when she's awake.


A friend of mine who was pregnant registered for this, and I figured I would buy one for myself. We use it every single day! R loves her paci, but it falls out of her mouth a lot, and so we just clip this to her shirt and don't have to worry about it falling on the ground! It's also handy to clip to the top of the diaper bag, so we can easily find the pacifier. The clip goes well on everything and doesn't leave any creases or marks. The green that I bought is being discontinued, but they have a lot of other colors to choose from!

Honorable mention goes to the Boppy pillow, pacifiers, bottles (R likes the pink Dr Brown ones), and essentials like burp cloths, onesies, diapers (we like Pampers diapers and Pampers sensitive wipes), and car seat (we went with the Graco Click Connect 30, and we love it!)

I really hope this list gives you somewhere to start if you're pregnant and overwhelmed! 

Moms, what were/are your favorite newborn/infant items?

One Way to Be a Really Good Friend

10.28.2015

I am blessed to have some really good friends, some I've known since the awkward days of middle school, others since high school and college. When I moved to Oklahoma in the fall of 2008, I did not have a single friend in the entire state. I knew no one and had to make friends all on my own.

Seven years later, I look around me and find that I have surrounded myself with some wonderful people. Jordan and I switched classes at church last year, and the girls in that class are some of the kindest, most hospitable people I've ever known. I still keep in touch with my older friends as well, thanks to Skype dates and Google hangouts and group texts (all hail the smart phone!).
^^^Friends since high school! We met up for a girls' weekend in San Diego last fall. I was pregnant with R and didn't know it!

Not only are these people fun to hang out with, but we share honest feelings and struggles. I try to be a good friend, because having good friends means being a good friend. There are a lot of ways to be a good friend, but there is one way in particular that has stood out to me lately in how my friends are loving me. It's really simple but something often overlooked: Ask for updates about things they've mentioned in the past.

Here's an example:

At church on Sundays, our class goes around the room at the end of our lesson and asks for prayer requests. We write them down so we can remember to pray about them during the week, but often the request isn't mentioned again unless the person brings it up later to offer an update. One way to be a good friend and show you care about the other person is to ask them for an update before they offer it.

Did your friend mention a graduate school test on Wednesday they are worried about? Text them on Wednesday morning to say good luck or on Thursday afternoon to see how it went.

Is your friend's grandma in the hospital? Write them a message on Facebook later in the week and see if there's an update.

It doesn't have to be in church either, obviously. What about if you were talking with your out-of-town friend on the phone, and she mentioned being sick that day? Text her the next day and ask if she's feeling better.
This is not rocket science and is most likely something you've heard before and might already be doing, but (at least for me) this concept of checking in for updates on things they've mentioned in the past is something that's easily forgotten! It's easy enough to ask about how things are going today, but checking in to ask about something they talked about last week not only shows that you listened initially but that you remembered later and were thinking about them.

It feels so good when someone asks for an update about something you asked for prayer about. It makes me feel special and like they actually care about me. Over the past few months, I have been trying to be more intentional about doing this myself for other people, and I can tell by the responses that they appreciate it too.
Life is hard, and it's easy to feel like we're all just putting our heads down and focusing on our own problems. Asking a friend for an update about something she mentioned in a prior conversation doesn't take that much time and is an easy way to be a really good friend.

Who can you encourage today by asking for an update? 
How else do you show that you're a good friend?

Postpartum Running: An Update

10.26.2015

*Yes, I still own and use the giant Garmin from about five years ago. It works just fine, so no need to spend a few hundred dollars on a new (albeit smaller and sleeker) upgrade.

Basically forever ago I said I would share an update on my running and postpartum recovery, but time has gotten away from me. This might not be of interest to all of you, but I know it will be to some. I also thought this was good timing, because I received an email asking if I would blog about October being National Healthy Lung Month. Normally I don't blog about random things like that, but I do believe in having healthy lungs, so this is my official plug for keeping yourself--and your lungs--healthy! Don't smoke, and make sure you are mindful of pollutants and indoor toxins. Your lungs are important! I know you've seen the commercials. Okay, on to the running update.

At my six-week checkup, my doctor cleared me to run. That was a Friday, and I went for my first run the next day on Saturday. I don't waste time, y'all. I had absolutely no idea how I would feel, so I set a low goal for myself: run half a mile. I took my watch with me so I could know how far I went. I ran half a mile and was feeling good, so I decided to just go as far as I felt, and I ended up running two miles! It was a super slow run at nearly 3 minutes/mile slower than I had been running before I got pregnant, but I was really excited.

Maybe it was because I set such low expectations for my first run post-baby, but it actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The biggest problem was that I could tell my core was not as strong as it used to be, so I got a major cramp pretty quick. But my legs were like, Praise the Lord you are using us again! Let me tell you: after spending the last two months of my pregnancy sweating from walking ten feet, it felt so good to do some legitimate sweating from working out.
So that was at six weeks PP. R is now almost eleven weeks old, and over the last five weeks I've logged maybe a dozen runs or so. All of my runs have either been 2 or 3 miles with one 3.25 because I got ambitious. I have gotten faster and the run has gotten easier, which is encouraging! I'm really happy to be running again. I haven't taken R in the jogging stroller yet because we don't have a car seat adapter, and she is still a little small to sit in the seat if I'm running. But soon!

I mentioned before that I already signed up for the Oklahoma City Half Marathon in April 2016. I definitely think I can be ready by then, but one thing that I know will be hard will be finding the time to train the longer distances. Obviously having a baby changes things, and especially since I'm breastfeeding, I have to carefully plan out workouts more than I had to before. I still haven't quite figured out a schedule that will work well.

I am also hoping to keep getting faster, although I know that will take some work. My first run pp was at 11:30 min/mile pace, and each run since has been in the 10s, with two runs around 9:45. That is still much slower than I was running before I had R, but again, I am okay with my runs for now.

Besides running, I have been trying to get my stomach to flatten up again. And maybe flatten up isn't even the right phrase... more just tighten up the flab. I tried on a pair of jeans that I hadn't since getting pregnant, and although they could button, my stomach was spilling out the top. I know it may not look like it in the above photo, but I swear to you it was like those girls you see at the gas station wearing only a thin tank top, and you think, You should not be wearing that shirt. I know that sounds terrible, but don't even pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

I downloaded a workout app on my phone, and I've been doing a daily plank. (I've probably skipped maybe five days total off and on because I forgot.) As of this writing I am up to 3 minutes and 24 seconds! It took me three tries to get to that time, and I'm going to keep doing it until it feels easier and then continue to work up. I am also doing some arm workouts and hope to get back to being able to do pullups. I currently can't even sort of do one pullup, so I definitely have some work to do.

One thing that I regret from my pregnancy is that I didn't continue doing arm workouts. I'm not beating myself up about it or anything, but even if I wasn't running, I could have been doing some arm exercises. It is seriously depressing to me how much strength I've lost in my arms.

So that's basically where I'm at right now. I am continually telling myself not to take it too hard because I did just recently have a baby, and that isn't a small feat. I'll try to update again once I have something useful to say...maybe once I try running with the jogging stroller?

Until then, celebrate National Healthy Lung Month by going for a run or hitting up the gym! Your lungs will thank you.

Please feel free to ask me any questions about my workouts or pp recovery either by adding it here, emailing me, or leaving a comment!

6 Things I've Learned From Blogging

10.23.2015

*Image via Death to Stock Photo

Every time I renew my blog domain, I wonder how long I will keep doing this. It's not that I have plans to quit blogging any time soon, but I will quit eventually. I just don't imagine myself as a 90-year-old blogger, and I'm sure nobody would want me to be.

I started this blog in May 2010, and over the past five and a half years, I've seen a lot of blogs come and go. Some of them I miss and am sad to see them leave, but others have been gone so long that I've completely forgotten about them. I would like to think that if I were to leave, there would be a few people who would be sad about it, but realistically, after time has passed, I know my blog will just be lost to the void and forgotten like the rest. 

That's not me fishing for compliments or trying to be depressing; it's just a fact, and so sometimes I wonder what the point is. Is it a waste of time to spend hours writing blog posts if they will eventually fall into the black hole that is the Internet? Some people would probably say that it is, but I don't see it that way.

I was out for a run a few weeks ago (blog post about running coming at you next week!) and was listening to a podcast about blogging. It was a husband and wife team who used to have an extremely popular blog (I'm talking millions of followers) until last year, when they quit seemingly out of the blue (some of you might have listened to the same podcast and know I'm talking about Young House Love). They said something on the podcast that stuck with me.

They said that even though they stopped blogging after seven years, they don't see it as a waste because they learned so many things that they now use in their lives after the blog. They said blogging taught them skills and life concepts that they would not have learned if they hadn't kept a blog. They also said that someone with a blog of any size, big or small, can learn things from blogging that they take with them. I had honestly never thought about blogging that way, and I found it really encouraging, so I started thinking about the things blogging has taught me and the things I've learned that won't go away even after this blog does.

1. My writing has evolved and improved as I have figured out my writing voice
The reason I started a blog in the first place was because I wanted a place to write. I edit all day, and sometimes it's nice to just write. Without a doubt, my writing has evolved over the past five years, and I feel (and hopefully you do too) that it has gotten stronger. I think I'm a good writer, and  blogging is a great way for me constantly practice getting my thoughts down on paper (or screen, as it were).

2. I've learned (and improved) my photography
When I started this blog, I just used a point-and-shoot camera and didn't do any editing. A year or so into blogging, I bought my first (and still only) DSLR and immediately switched to manual and never looked back. I am not a professional by any means, but I am completely self-taught, and blogging has been a huge part of my photography journey. Having a place to share my pictures inspires and motivates me to try to learn how to take good ones.

3. I've learned how to use Photoshop
Without this blog, I would have no reason to learn how to use Photoshop. I specifically remember seeing a blog in my early days, and she always had fun captions and things on her photos. I was like, How is she doing that??? I found Photoshop Elements on sale one day and watched YouTube tutorials to teach myself how to use it. Since then, I've used Photoshop for a lot of things, a big one being editing and cropping photos for my scrapbooks and Project Life, and I would not have known how to do it if I hadn't learned for blogging.

4. I know basic HTML coding
I have never paid for a designer to create images or headers for my blog. Nothing at all against designer or people who hire them, but I am really proud of myself for learning HTML coding to be able to set up a basic look for my blog that I actually really like. Most recently I figured out how to make drop-down menus for my blog header (using a tutorial I found online). Knowing basic HTML has helped me in my professional jobs, believe it or not! I definitely can't do a lot of the fun design things that professionals can do, but I know basic coding, and I would not know how to do that if it weren't for the blog!

5. I've made friends
Admittedly, it's easier to stay in contact with blog friends if you are both, you know, blogging. But I feel like I have relationships with some of you that will continue after the blog. Beka is one person who comes to mind. She is such an encouragement to me and a good friend, and we would not have met if it weren't for our blogs. When she lived in Oklahoma, we would get together and hang out, and it was so fun!

On a similar note, I have been so encouraged by the comments and feedback I've gotten on some of my more serious posts. If you couldn't tell (ha!) I am an external processor. Jordan processes internally, so this is always a struggle for us. Blogging has helped me to get my thoughts together and process what I'm feeling, and having you all respond and say you get me has been a huge blessing.

6. I've learned from others
This is an intangible result of blogging, but I have without a doubt learned a lot from being part of the blog world. I have learned to see things from another perspective, I've learned about new recipes and DIY projects, and I've learned about new ways of doing things. The Internet is a big place, but being part of the blogging world and having "regulars" that I read on a daily or weekly basis has been really fun. 

There is no way to really tell just how much blogging has changed my life, but all I can say is that it definitely has changed it for the better. Just because I don't have millions of followers or make thousands of dollars off this blog doesn't mean it has been a waste of time. I have learned skills that have been useful in my professional career and in my life in general, I've made new friends, and I possibly even made an impact in someone's life who comes and reads my writing.

What have you learned from blogging that you will have after your blog is gone?
Or if you don't have a blog, What things have you learned from your hobbies that are useful in other aspects of your life?

I hope this way of thinking about our hobbies is encouraging to you as it was to me!

I took my baby to a wedding

10.21.2015

Two weekends ago, my brother got married in Texas. Despite what the above looks like, R was actually a really good baby. But I find this picture hilarious because it's CLASSIC. Screaming baby while trying to take a family photo? Nailed it.

You all had some fantastic suggestions for a dress, and I actually went to Old Navy to find a wrap kind of situation, but then my mom pulled out this dress she'd found at a thrift store, and that was that. Jordan continues to be confused about how my mom and I, who are neither the same height nor body type, can wear each other's clothes. Or, more accurately, how I can wear my mom's clothes. But I'm not complaining. My mom has cute taste! Plus? Free. I don't think I need to say any more.

Now, this dress.
Not nursing friendly in the least, but that's the price I pay for fashion. I literally had to have someone unzip the back of the dress so I could crawl into the backseat of my parents' Durango and fold down the entire top half. Then, I had to slink back to the wedding without anyone seeing me until I found someone to zip me up again. #classy

And if you're thinking, She's exaggerating again, I assure you, I am not. You can just ask my cousin, who was the person who zipped me up the second time.

But anyway. R was an excellent wedding date, minus the above (rookie mistake to try to take a picture around feeding time), and since the majority of my family hadn't met her yet, she was the hit of the wedding.

I was not nearly as emotional about this wedding as I was about my other brother's last June, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I was too busy being nervous about my violin solo. I played "Here Comes the Bride" while Bethany walked down the aisle, not like that's a big wedding moment or anything. Apparently it sounded fine, although my dad recorded it on his phone and I listened to it and think it sounds terrible, so either I'm insane or everyone is lying to me. Neither option is particularly promising.
So there's another girl added to our clan now, and 3 of the 4 kids are married off. My grandpa puts together a family news that he mails out to everyone, and in it he said, "This concludes the marriages for Geoff's kids," and my sister was like, "I guess Grandpa doesn't think I'll ever get married..." Doomed to singlehood, that one. Grandpa has spoken.

The day went well for the most part, but I am still bummed that R decided she needed to eat right before my brother gave his best man's speech. I heard muffled laughter from the backseat of the Durango, but that was all. Womp.

Daniel and Bethany had a glow stick sendoff at the end of the night. Have you ever seen that before? I never had and didn't know how it would work, but it was really cool!
Jordan liked the glow sticks because they were much more low key than the sparklers my other brother used at his wedding last year. This time Jordan didn't have to worry about babysitting my grandpa, who almost caught a bush on fire with his sparkler.

We did also snag a decent family photo, and by decent I mean R is looking at Jordan like he just lit up the sky. Stinking cute is what that is.
All in all, I am pretty proud of myself for how well I handled taking a two-month-old baby to my brother's wedding. We stayed until 10:30 or so, and R dozed off while everyone was dancing, so apparently she takes after her mama and can sleep almost anywhere. She only got really fussy right before she needed to eat, but otherwise she just enjoyed be fawned over by the great-aunts and uncles and cousins. Everyone loves a cute baby.

R has now traveled to Texas three times in her young life. Hopefully we are training her to be a good traveler. Until next time!

About Work

10.19.2015


I think we can all agree that work is not our favorite.

Whether you work for yourself, work in an office, work at home, work year-round, work part time, or any other kind of work, there is always an aspect of work that's just no fun. I mean, don't we all just want the freedom to do what we want, when we want, however we want? Work often gets in the way of that because, you know, we need money to do those things we want.

A few posts ago, I made a comment that going back to work after having a baby is brave. Some people questioned whether "brave" was really the right word to use. I mean, I'm just going back to work, not jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.

The thing is, brave means so many different things to so many different people. What seems brave to one person isn't necessarily brave to another. For me, leaving my baby in someone else's care all day long is really scary. So, I feel that it requires bravery for me to do it.

It seems like stay-at-home moms get on the defensive pretty fast when people talk about work. Some people might think that being a SAHM means you don't do anything but sleep in every day and hit up Target around ten o'clock. However, if you've ever taken care of a child  (or two or three) for a day by yourself, you know that isn't true. It's a full-time job to run a household and take care of children, and sometimes it drives you half crazy in the process. It's hard work.

Not everyone is cut out for it, and not everyone wants to do it, but what frustrates me is that sometimes I feel like people act like everyone can do it. "Are you going back to work?" was a common question I got while I was pregnant, and maybe it shouldn't have annoyed me because people were just honestly asking, but it really did annoy me. It's like, "Yes, okay? I can't afford to not work right now." *hangs head in shame* For us, it is much more cost effective at this point for both of us to work, especially me because my job has the 401k and better health insurance. If one of us were going to quit, it would most likely be Jordan.

In my "ask anything" call for questions, someone wanted to know how I decided how much maternity leave to take, so here's my answer: I was told by my boss how much maternity leave I could take. I would have preferred to take twelve weeks, but it is what it is. I do, however, feel extremely blessed that they offered me the opportunity to work full-time at home until the end of the year. I would be a hot mess if I had to take R to a daycare three weeks ago.

I received two other questions that relate to this topic:
1. Do you feel like people judge you for being a working mom?
2. Do you plan on working for the long haul, or if it worked out would you stay at home?

I think all moms feel judged to some extent, whether they work from home, stay at home, or work outside the home. SAHM moms seem to feel that people think they don't "do anything," and I suppose working moms might feel judged for leaving their kids during the day and not being around. To answer the question, I have not yet felt judged for being a working mom, and I think it's absolutely terrible that anyone would judge someone for working to provide for their family. But I also think it's terrible that someone would judge a SAHM for quitting their job to stay home with their kids.

I've mentioned this in previous posts, but the fact of the matter is, I basically can't talk about leaving R to go back to work in my office or I start crying. I thought that since I like my job and my coworkers and generally don't mind going to work every day, it wouldn't be that big of a deal to leave her, but the truth is: sometimes I really feel like it might just kill me. If I had the option to quit my job, I absolutely would. The green monster of envy is insanely jealous of all my friends who are able to do that. I absolutely do not want to leave my baby with someone else all day long.

And yet.

I am very much aware of the fact that as a Christian, I am to do everything without complaining or arguing, and I am also to do everything for the glory of God. Even work. I am very thankful for a job I like and coworkers I like, and I am thankful for a job that allows me to buy food and save for vacations and set up a college fund for R. I am really praying about having the right attitude about all of this, because God has put me in this place for a reason, and who am I to say that I want to stay at home? Maybe he has me going to work to be a witness or a comfort to someone there?

It won't be easy for me to go back to work in an office. It's already been an adjustment to go back to work at all. The work/life balance will be difficult to figure out, but I am praying that I can have the right attitude about it. It does feel like the brave thing to do, mostly because the thought of it scares me, but that doesn't mean staying at home with your kids isn't brave too.

I think most of all what I'm realizing and what I want other people to realize is that life is hard for everyone, no matter what it is you do. We need to not judge and compare and be envious, but instead let's support one another in our different work and understand that there are good and bad aspects to every situation. 

No one has the perfect life, the perfect setup, even if that's what it looks like from the outside. Life, with all of its ups and downs, is really hard work.

"Understand this: we are both tiny and massive. We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself. Swell with pride and gratitude, for you are tiny and given much. You are as spoken by God as the stars."
-N. D. Wilson, Death by Living

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 
-1 Corinthians 10:31

Month Two

10.15.2015


Well that went fast. R is two months old now! Excuse me while I go sob in the corner.

I remember staring at her sleeping in the crib after she was born crying because I didn't want her to get older, but clearly I had no idea what I was talking about because this month was so. much. fun. R used to give us the occasional flash of dimples when she smiled in her sleep, but this month she started smiling for real and I die every time. My baby is the cutest of all babies ever, and you can't convince me that she's not. I know other mothers have said this, but I am actually right!

Okay anyway. This month R started pooping through her diapers like a champ, and I finally understand what people mean when they talk about babies wearing a cute outfit for .098 seconds before a blow-out. Because seriously. We've tried Pampers and Huggies, and neither can hold in the juicy goodness that are R's bowels. She's slowly pooping her way through the family. Over the weekend my brother got a handful of the stuff. Literally. He had a hand full of poop. She's going to love that I'm writing about this on the internet.

She looooves her bath. It's one of our favorite things to plop her in there and let her air it out, which is handy because see: above. 

She takes a pacifier and a bottle really well! We've started feeding her with a bottle once a day, usually at the 6:30 feeding, and she does great. I finally started pumping, and it's not at all as intimidating as I thought it would be, so add that to the List of Things It Was Unnecessary to Stress About. 

R has now taken three trips to Texas (3 hours each way), and she did amazing! Basically as soon as she gets in the car she passes out, and we don't hear a peep from her the whole time. I have no idea what we did to encourage such stress-free travel, but I'm not complaining.

She is sleeping really well, all things considered. There were a few rough nights where Jordan and I almost turned on each other because it was 2 a.m. and she just would not go back to sleep, but otherwise we put her down around 8:30 and she sleeps through until 2:00, sometimes 3! Then she goes back down (after an hour or so) and wakes up around 6:30. Those times vary a bit depending on the night, but in general if I go to sleep around 9/9:30, I can get a solid 5 hours a night! I am exhausted by the end of the day every single day, but it definitely could be worse.
I've been increasingly amazed by how low key my baby is. Considering how high-anxiety I am, she must take after her daddy. This girl can sleep basically anywhere and only cries when something is actually wrong like she's hungry or needs to be changed. Otherwise, she's such a sweet, lovable baby, and I can't get over how blessed we are to have her. Jordan and I still look at each other sometimes and say, "We have a baby." It's kind of crazy.

I honestly didn't think I'd be that mom who's attached to her baby, but when I leave her with my MIL for a few hours sometimes to run errands or get some serious work done at home, I miss R so much! When she got her tw0-month shots, I cried. Like, actual tears. I'm that mom. Whenever someone said they cried when their baby got shots, I was like, "Suck it up! Seriously, people. Get a hold of yourself." I am currently eating my words, and they taste like the salty bitterness of my baby's tears.

This month I've had the realization that this is actually my life now, and as much as I love R, it's bummed me out a bit. I can no longer just jump in the car to go to the store or head out for a run at my leisure. Now it's a whole process of figuring out when she'll need to eat vs. how long my outing is and whether or not Jordan is home and that dang hierarchy of going running over having a stocked fridge so we can eat normal food. Needless to say, I'm still trying to find our new normal, and I really hope it involves running on a regular basis.

And so, month 3 begins. This little bean is the absolute love of my life, and as much as I adore her being little, I am so, so excited to watch her grow and learn! What will her voice sound like? Will her hair really be red like her dad's? What's her first word going to be? We'll see!

How to Budget for Travel

10.12.2015


I want to go on vacation so bad right now. These cooler temperatures are especially making me want to travel north and see all the fall leaves that I don't really get here in Oklahoma. This time last year, Jordan and I were in South Dakota having a great time seeing Mount Rushmore and staying in our little cabin in the woods.

Every single vacation we've been on since we got married has been fully budgeted for before we left. There are plenty of blog posts about traveling on a budget, but I thought I would share with you how we budget for travel throughout the year and why (we think) it's a good idea. Some people act like traveling is no big thing and everyone can do it easily, but I feel like that's not true for everyone. Traveling is a big deal for us, and it's something we save up for and don't do very often.

The advantage to budgeting for your travel before you go is this: completely guilt-free spending the whole time you're gone. If you know you have enough money in the budget to go on vacation, you don't have to worry about going to a fancy restaurant for dinner one night or buying some souvenirs. You won't get back from your trip to wherever and spend the next six months paying off your credit card... it's already paid for!

In order to budget for travel, we do a few things:

1. Set up a separate travel savings account.

I've talked before about the Capital One savings account we have set up. It's a bank account separate from your credit card or regular bank where you can create multiple accounts for different things. So, for example: we have one Capital One account with smaller accounts within it. One for our house fund (which is now our 3-6 months living expenses), one for travel, one for Christmas, etc. This keeps your travel money completely separate from any other money you have, so it's easy to tell how much you have to work with. If you're interested in learning more about our Capital One account, here is a referral link!

2. Make an automatic payment into the travel account every month.

How much you put in is up to you. We have it set up to automatically move $50 from our regular bank account into the travel fund every month. If we happen to have extra at the end of the month after paying our bills, we can decide if we want to put some of that money into our travel fund. Sometimes we put a couple hundred dollars extra; sometimes we don't put any extra money into the fund, but by putting a certain amount automatically, we're always putting something into the travel fund, and it can sit there and accrue interest. Fifty dollars isn't a lot, but it's something, and every dollar adds up!

Here is a recent example where doing this paid off for us: 
This past June, I went to the Bahamas on a work trip, and at the last minute we decided Jordan was going to come along with me. He was staying in the hotel room with me (paid for by my work), but we were responsible for paying for Jordan's flight, which was going to be over $500. At first I freaked out and was like, "We don't have an extra $500 to spend in the budget!" But then I looked in the travel fund and realized we had more than enough to cover the flight. We just transferred the money back into our bank account and paid for the flight without any problems.

3. Start saving early for specific trips.

Okay, so we automatically put money into the travel fund each month, but that's just so we can keep something in there and use for short-notice trips and short, inexpensive weekend vacations. If we know we will be going on a specific vacation, we start putting more money each month into our travel fund (on top of the automatic payment). 

For example: Jordan and I are currently saving for a trip to Europe in the fall of 2016. We don't know any logistics like exactly when we're go, if we'll take R, or even if we'll end up going, but we want to go and we are saving money to go. We started saving at the beginning of this year and will put money into our travel fund the rest of this year and next. The plan is that by the time we go to Europe, we will have enough money saved to pay for our trip!

Of course, when we go on vacation, we don't know exactly how much we will be spending while we're gone. It's impossible to know how much you'll spend on food and things like that, but you do know how much your flight or hotel will be and whether or not you plan on buying tickets to a museum or other local attraction. The idea is just to have enough money to cover the basic expenses and things we think we'll be doing so that we don't have guilt about spending money and having fun.

So that's what we do to create and maintain our travel fund and save up for trips. We love not having to pay off our credit card after we come back. That's no fun at all.

Here is a great way to jump-start your savings if you aren't used to putting money aside. It's a 52-week challenge where you save one dollar for each week of the year ($1 for week 1, $2 for week 2, $3 for week 3, all the way to $52 for week 52). By the end of the year, you have over $1,300! You can even double this and put aside $2 for week 1, $4 for week 2, etc., and have $2,600 at the end of the year if you plan on going on a more expensive vacation.

I'd love to know what you do to budget for travel (or if you budget for travel). We're always looking for good tips and ways to be even better about saving!

Do you have a travel fund in your budget? How do you budget for travel?

Checking In [Insert Clever Title Here]

10.08.2015

It is absolutely true what everyone says about having a baby: it's worth it. All the stress and life crisis and change and added expense is so worth it.

As R gets older, she's becoming more interactive. Just in the last week or so she has started smiling. Like, real awake baby smiles! Not just smiles while she's sleeping. They still aren't at anyone or anything, but I seriously cannot even handle the cuteness.

So yeah, it IS worth it, I swear.
But you guys. Let's be real.
I have never in my life been so tired for so long.

Sometimes I'm like, "It's fine! I'm all good!"
Other times I forget how to spell words like scissors. TOO MANY S's! My job really shouldn't be letting me edit anything in my current state. I'm dangerous with a red pen right now.

Anyhoo. I thought I would pop in for a quick update of some of the stuff we've been up to lately since clearly blogging has taken a nosedive on my hierarchy.

Last weekend I went to Texas! R and I went by ourselves. Like, hello three hours alone in the car with a baby. I was nervous. I had to stop once to feed her in the parking lot of a Hilton. It was either that or a Braum's, but the Braum's looked kind of sketchy. I put up my windshield shades so I didn't accidentally flash anyone on the fourth floor, and R had her afternoon snack. NBD.
I took R into work with me again this week. She really is such a good baby! Look at her just hanging in her car seat. The ladies at work absolutely love her. Seriously, one time a few weeks ago I went in to the office and didn't bring R (my mother-in-law watched her for a bit), and they came rushing over, saw I was sans baby, and just shrugged and walked away without even saying hello! I'm chopped liver now that she's around.

On Wednesday we went over to a friend's house to watch the Cubs game. Since Jordan's Yankees lost their playoff game and are out of the running, he can devote himself entirely to cheering on my boys. The Cubs won, and it. was. awesome. Hello, World Series! I can feel it in my bones! Plus, R is 2-0 when wearing her team's jersey. She wore her Chicago Bears onesie on Sunday and they won! I have a magical baby.
In other news, this weekend we're headed back to Texas for my brother's wedding! I am playing violin during the ceremony, so that should be fun. And by fun I mean I'm freaking out and really should have been practicing. They asked me to play "Here Comes the Bride" while Bethany walks down the aisle. Um, okay because that's not a major moment or anything. Pray for me.

I did find a dress, so I'll have to share on the blog next week. I will shower and put on makeup and pretend to be a fashion blogger for a day. Get excited.
^^^I saw this on Facebook yesterday and can't stop laugh-crying about it. This is my life right now and forever. This month I'm finally trying to get back in the groove of my monthly meal-planning. It's a pain in the butt to make it, but it saves me so much time during the month that I can't not do it. Anyone have any easy and relatively healthy recipes they've tried recently that they want to share? Erin and Allison have some great freezer meals that I've tried and liked. I've blogged some of our favorites, which you can check out here.

I haven't run at all this week, which is depressing, but Jordan has been working late and R is too small to go in the jogging stroller yet for runs. I have, however, been doing a short daily workout of planks, leg raises, and a "muffin top" challenge that I saw on Facebook. The muffin top challenge is a timed series of burpees, ski abs, and a russian twist. I have skipped a day or two (because I forget until I'm already in bed and by then it's too late), but I am feeling the burn! I'm up to 3 minutes of plank, which nearly kills me every time. (Full disclosure: I'm doing the plank on my elbows, not full up on my palms.)

And... okay I think that's all for now. I so appreciate your comments and emails even though my posting frequency has taken a dip. I'm trying to respond in a timely manner, but I am usually reading comments on my phone now, and it's hard to type responses with one hand. First world problems.

Last but certainly not least, I took this video of R a few days ago during one of her cute awake times and thought I'd share. She's just so darn sweet I can't stand it, and I thank God for her every day. Happy weekend, friends!

*If the video doesn't work on your phone, try a desktop!

video

Project 12: September

10.05.2015

Okay, I know I totally skipped posting a recap of August, but that's because it would have been a blank screen with one word: baby. August was baby month, and you could say nothing happened and everything happened all at once. 

Now for September. In case you couldn't tell from my posts lately, I'm basically having a giant life/identity crisis and am working through it on the blog. Sorry not sorry (but kind of sorry) for all the dramatic posts lately. Thanks for sticking around! I bet some of you are like, "That girl be crazy." Well, yes I kind of am. Because keeping my emotions private just isn't how I roll. Unfortunately for my daughter, I think she has my tendency to wear her emotions on her sleeve. (See: below) Good luck to you, R. 
By the way, just a reminder that I am not going to share her name on the blog, and I'm going to keep calling her R. However, if you are just dying to know what her name is, I am happy to share as long as you a) email me privately and b) are not a child stalker.
Last month, Jordan and I took R on her first road trip! We drove to Texas for my sister-in-law's bridal shower. (She and my brother are getting married THIS WEEKEND and I may or may not have found a dress. Stay tuned.) My grandparents were in town from Illinois, and we had four generations in one room. It was perfect.
I took R out for her first walk in the stroller! I haven't run with her in it yet, but we have gone on a few walks, and she seems to like it, so I'm hoping by the time I take her for a run she'll be used to it and fall asleep or at least not scream the whole time.

We finally made it to church as a family of three! We were only fifteen minutes late, so I'm calling it a win. It felt so good to be back in church. Sleeping in on Sundays really messes up my weekend something fierce. (Plus I miss learning about Jesus.)
One of my best friends came to visit for the weekend! Justine and I were roommates in college, and she flew from Illinois to meet R and spend the weekend with me. I pumped a bottle of milk for R and left her with Jordan, and Justine and I hit up the Oklahoma State Fair for all the fried things. I tried fried cookie dough, which unfortunately sounds better than it was. I also got Chaco suntan lines on my feet, so I think that means I'm an official hippie now.
R got shots at her one-month appointment. Isn't this band-aid on a baby thigh just the saddest and cutest thing you've ever seen?
_____

So those are a few of the highlights. Life is a blur right now, so I'm sure I missed some things. If you haven't been around lately, here are a few posts from the last few months to check out:

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