Cookie Musings


I have homemade chocolate chip cookies in the oven right now.

I should be in bed. Or, at least this morning I told myself I would be in bed by this time tonight, but suddenly I got home from work and I wanted to do ALL THE THINGS like make crafts for R's birthday party and bake cookies. I tried to talk myself out of them (the cookies) and it worked for about an hour and a half. 

Willpower, where are you?

Over the weekend I found this pin on Pinterest and found a giant R at Hobby Lobby and thought, Sure I'll just glue some pink tissue paper on this R real quick. Two days later and it's still not finished, thanks for asking. Her decorations might consist of one half-finished R and wilted balloons left over from my birthday. I keep reminding myself that R's favorite toy is the top of shoe box, so she probably won't care how many balloons she has at her party.
I don't have a party theme. Basically what I did was walk around Hobby Lobby and grab things I thought were cute. Everything was pink and gold, and when I got home and started looking at Pinterest I realized that pink + gold is an actual party theme, so there you go.

Speaking of, what are your thoughts on seeing something you like on Easy and trying to make it yourself? Part of me feels bad for blatantly copying someone else's work and not shopping small, supporting the little people, etc. The other part of me is cheap, and that's usually the part of me that wins these types of debates.

I've gotten a few questions since I shared my Chicago travel video about how I put those together, so I've decided to write a post briefly explaining my process. I basically know nothing, so if I can do it, you can do it. But I think videos capture some things a photo can't and they are fun!
This is my new favorite picture of R ever. We were at my grandparents' last weekend, and she was DYING to get the corn cobs. I don't know what the deal was. She stole mine when I wasn't looking and then proceeded to bite off all the stray pieces while side-eying anyone who got close enough to be a threat. Ain't nobody gonna steal my cob! It was funny and terrifying because lord help me she is going to be a toddler soon and how will I contain her????

She is the firstborn of two firstborns. Help.

My phone keeps telling me I am out of memory, but I cannot CANNOT delete the pictures from the hospital the day R was born. I keep scrolling back and looking at them and it is just crazy that it's almost been a whole year. I still shudder when I think about labor. Can I have more babies but just have the stork bring them? I really might spring for an epidural next time because ouch.

And... the timer is going off. Cookies are done! I don't see any sign of willpower, so I guess it's a good thing I went running this morning. Don't try to convince me it doesn't balance out.

A Weekend in Chicago: Travel Video


Last Saturday we drove 13 hours in the car with R to Illinois for a family weekend to celebrate my grandpa turning 80. We stayed overnight at my grandparents' house, and in the morning we drove into Chicago with my immediate family and extended family.

We went to a Cubs game, ate pizza, saw the bean, and walked over 22,200 steps just on Monday alone. Jordan, R, and I flew home Monday night. We partied hard, and we still haven't recovered, but we did it! R is a traveling rockstar, and I honestly cannot believe all the things we've done with her during her first year of life.

Once again, we had a rough traveling experience coming home. You may remember what happened to us coming home from Virginia in March. Our flight was cancelled, and we had to stay overnight and take an early flight the next morning. Annoying for adults, but when you add a baby to the mix it's SO FUN. It's just how I wanted to spend a day of paid time off. Read my sarcasm.

Well, friends, learn from our mistake and never book the last flight of the day. Our flight home from Chicago got, wait for it, cancelled. Mechanical malfunction or some other nonsense. Long story short, after weighing our options we decided to have American rebook us on an 8:30 pm flight to Dallas. We could stay at my parents' house and fly to OKC in the morning. Not my favorite but acceptable. But THEN, the 8:30 flight got delayed and delayed and delayed again and didn't leave Chicago until after 11:00. R decided sleeping wasn't as fun as crawling around the airport terminal making friends, so Jordan and I took turns chasing her around for hours.

We arrived in Dallas around 2 in the morning. We were the only flight and still had to wait over a half hour to get our bags,even though we didn't actually check anything, but when they gate checked the car seat and our suitcase they decided to put it through baggage claim. By the time we got to my parents' house it was after 3 in the morning. We got up at 6 so my sister could drive us back to the airport for our 8 am flight.

What I'm saying is, I was extremely well rested.

I practically kissed the Oklahoma ground and swore never to leave again. Or, at least never book the last flight of the day because only terrible things happen when you do that. BUT WE MADE IT. And I have another story for the blog. So there's that.

In related but not as terrible news, Jordan and I bought a video recorder as a joint birthday gift, and I took it for a spin in Chicago. I filmed a bunch and used iMovie to put it all together. I think making videos is my lost calling, because it is so fun to make these even though I stay up way too late working on them. The video should be embedded below, but if it's not you can click here to watch it on YouTube. Hope you enjoy! All in all it was a fun weekend with family, and we certainly packed in as much as we could in just two days.

p.s. If you are interested in how we budget for travel, click here.

Recently Reading



I finally have read enough books to do another review roundup! I love reading book review posts, although lately I feel like I haven’t been agreeing with a lot of the books that everyone loves. I sometimes think my job as an editor puts me at a disadvantage, because I’m pretty picky when it comes to books. It’s often hard for me to set aside my editor brain and not critique the characters or dialogue or plot. But I suppose that’s the beauty of having our own opinions. Below are reviews of my recent reads. If you have read any of these, I would love to know if you agree or disagree with me!

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
5 stars

After being grumpy about Big Little Lies, a few people recommended What Alice Forgot, and I’m very glad I gave Liane Moriarty another chance. I loved this book! It was a quick read that was well written and made me think about my own life and marriage and how I would feel about myself in ten years and where I want to be.

Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancy
4.5 stars

I’ve mentioned this book a few times already on the blog. I have been reading this slowly over the past 3-4 months, and it is great. The author dives into answering some of the basic questions we have about prayer in a very real, easy-to-understand way that I appreciate. It’s changed the way I think about prayer in my own life.

This Is Your Brain on Sports by L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers
4 stars

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books, so it's not one I would normally pick for myself, but I thought I would give it a try. It is nonfiction, and each chapter focuses on a different aspect of sports such as why we like to root for the underdog, whether or not the quarterback really is the “prettiest” guy on the team, and why we get so upset after our team loses. 

It was a quick read and easy to digest. Some of the chapters were more interesting than others, but overall I liked it. It came out within the last year, so all the facts, stats, and references are up to date. I don't know if it will be quite as interesting in a few years when everything is more dated, but for right now it worked. I would consider myself a casual sports fan, and I had heard of almost all the stories and references in this book.

*If you would like to read this book, I will send you my copy for free! Just comment saying you want it, and if there are multiple people I will randomly choose someone and mail it to you!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
4 stars

This book features a grumpy old man named Ove who is depressed after his wife dies and makes plans to kill himself. However, his attempts keep getting foiled by the family next door—a husband, pregnant wife, and their toddler. It sounds kind of morbid, but I thought it was well written and light while touching on some serious subjects. I enjoyed the story and the characters a lot and think this book would be a great plane/vacation read or just something fun to read before bed.

I have two main complaints and one minor complaint: 1. The main character, Ove, is 59, but I would have found it more believable if he were at least ten years older, possibly even in his 80s. Complaint #2: way too many similes. The writing is unique and creative, but there were too many comparisons to paint a picture of the scene that I found it overwhelming at times. Minor complaint: Sometimes it felt repetitive. I would start a chapter and think, wait, did I already read about this? The answer is yes, I did, but the author is telling us again in a different way, which was slightly annoying.

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
3.5 stars

This is a nonfiction account of the Galveston hurricane of 1900. As in Larson’s other books, I sometimes feel like there is a bit too much information, but overall I enjoyed this book. I had little knowledge of the Galveston hurricane before this, and it was interesting to read about. 

My main critique is probably that I didn't feel like Isaac was a very big player in the book at all, especially considering the title. But perhaps that is the point. His role in warning people about the storm was built up over time, even by Isaac himself, and Larson's findings tell us that he was just as unaware as everyone else. As far as nonfiction writers go, Erik Larson is one of my favorites. He makes these stories come to life, and his list of sources and careful details are evidence of hours and hours of research.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
3.5 stars

Almost everyone I know absolutely loved this book, but I'm conflicted about how I feel about it. It's well written and kept me up at night reading way later than I would normally be awake, so that's obviously saying something. I have never read a book specifically from the point of view of characters living in Occupied France during WWII, so that was interesting (and horrifying, because the conditions were awful).

I can't put my finger on exactly why I didn’t love it, but there was something that kept me from totally losing myself in this book like I did in, say, All the Light We Cannot See or a few others I've read that are set in this time period. I felt like the story was a little too rushed, and some things I had a hard time totally believing. I did tear up a bit reading the last couple of pages. Overall I did like the book, but I didn’t love it.

The Dark Ferret Society by Emily Humphreys
2.5 stars

This was a fun book by debut author Emily Humpherys. Full disclosure, Emily and I are friends from college! I bought this book to support her writing career and to check out the story she’s been working on. It is such a huge accomplishment to write a book, and I am excited for her! The main characters are high schoolers who are part of a secret society that pulls pranks at school. The characters and plot are creative and this would be a good book to take on vacation or if you needed an easy read between denser novels. I think this would be especially fun for a younger audience. 

I did notice some grammatical errors throughout, and I found it hard to suspend disbelief during some of the scenes with either the way the characters were acting or the plot itself. However, overall I liked the message of the story and thought she did a good job leaving the ending open for a sequel while still giving this book a nice conclusion. She is working on book #2 in this series right now!

*If you would like to read this book, I will send you my copy for free! Just comment saying you want it, and if there are multiple people I will randomly choose someone and mail it to you!

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
2.5 stars

I have never read anything by this author before. This book was perfect for what I needed it to be: a good road-trip read, quick and easy but enjoyable. The story itself was kind of strange, and normally I would probably have more of an issue with some of the way plot points were fleshed out. Or, I guess I should say how they weren't fleshed out. There was a mystery, but it wasn't the focus of the story, and it was "solved" rather quickly. I also didn't feel like the way the characters acted was completely believable. But, again, this was a great vacation book and it kept me entertained on our recent 13-hr drive to Chicago. 

If you want something with depth, this isn't the book for you. If you want a quick read with an interesting setting and a plot that you will probably be able to guess before it's over, you might enjoy this one.

p.s. Want more book reviews? Michelle and Kristen have great ones!
p.p.s. You might also like: Unpopular Book Opinions /  Read in 2016 part 1

Month Eleven


Before it gets any later in the month, I have to share this update. I will stop monthly R updates after she turns one, so there are only two more and I can't punk out right near the end! This is a week and a half late, but better than never. Here is what R did in month 11:

She weighs around 19 pounds and is about 29 inches tall. She loves loves loves to eat and basically eats any and everything we give her. She is still doing 5 milk/formula feedings per day and also breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes a snack. I have to keep reminding myself that she needs real food and I have to make sure to have stuff around for her to eat! Choking is still a concern, but honestly she has really done great since the beginning with eating. She rarely gags, and if she does she is good about pushing the food back up and/or reaching in and taking it out of her own mouth. I still cut everything up probably smaller than it needs to be, but I'm trying to gradually give her larger pieces so she can learn.

This month she rocked it in the sleep department, and Jordan and I actually feel like we can take a breath. She goes down around 7-7:30 and sleeps until at least 5:30, sometimes even 6:30! Yes, please. Unfortunately, although she sleeps well once she is actually asleep, at the end of the month she got sick with the stomach bug, and ever since then she has had a hard time falling asleep on her own. She is completely fine if we are standing there rubbing her back, but if we leave she loses it and starts throwing an absolute fit. It takes a good half hour to get her totally asleep, and it's annoying and so sad! Hopefully we can get that sorted out soon.

R is on the move! She is pulling up on everything, crawling everywhere, and pushing her walker around the house. She still isn't standing or walking, but if we hold her hands she will walk for a bit. I think walking is just around the corner! She loves to read, which of course I think is awesome. She loves sitting with us while we read to her, and she also will open books and start jabbering to herself, which is the most adorable thing.

She has 6 teeth (4 top, 2 bottom), and has started doing this thing where she crinkles her nose when she smiles. Dead. She is stubborn and opinionated and throws fits if we take something away from her that she wants. We figured out that she's ticklish on her hip bones, and when she's crawling and we chase her, she laugh and laughs. She dances to music, waves, claps, and makes friends wherever she goes. 

She is the cutest, cuddliest, sweetest baby and I can't believe next month she will be a whole year old! R, we love you so very much and pray for you every day. 

Surprise 30th Birthday Celebration


On July 2, my entire family drove up from Texas to surprise me for my birthday! Jordan schemed with my mom, and I was completely and utterly shocked. I thought Jordan, R, and I were heading out to eat downtown for an early birthday date. We parked and started walking toward a table in the back, and I was literally standing right in front of them before I saw everyone. It was so, so fun!
When we got back to the house, they sent me to my room to wait while they decorated and hung some streamers. There were cupcakes and ice cream and presents, and Jordan's parents came over too!
^^^ My sister made this for me. So fun!

My family had brought air mattresses and packed bags to stay overnight. The next morning, we all got up and went to the zoo! It was R's first time and the zoo, and she loved it. And by loved it, I mean she sat quietly in the stroller and then fell asleep as we were leaving.
For lunch my mom had brought my favorite entree from one of my favorite Italian restaurants, and she had made a delicious ice cream cake! Jordan and I have birthdays one week apart, so we blew out the candles together.
*Please ignore the giant trophy on our mantel. That is 100% Jordan's doing. He had a video game competition with his friends, and he won. And now we have that. There's also a Rock Band guitar and a Play Station remote up there. Mantel decorations. Nailed it.

I am so thankful for such a wonderful family, and it was so much fun having them celebrate my 30th birthday with me! You guys are my favorites. Below is the video my sister-in-law took of the surprise. I can't believe how close I got before I saw everyone!

If you can't see it below, watch it here.

p.s. Check out Jordan's surprise 30th birthday party!

360 Months


So many things to blog about, so little time. The past two weekends have been packed full, R is sick again, and blogging has taken the backseat, but at least the dishes are done (for now) and I went running today so #priorities.

But July 10, 2016, is a day that must be documented. It is my thirtieth birthday and the day R turned eleven months. 
^^^ Please note the bowtie hair bow because girlfriend was not having it. Also, please note that I tried to sit in the gray elephant chair and it was, how do you say, a giant fail. These hips don't lie.

For my birthday, Jordan and I met up with our church friends for breakfast before church, and then later in the day some friends came over for games. R hasn't been feeling well this weekend, but she has been really sweet and snuggly, which I don't hate.

I think birthdays are so fun and always make a big deal out of them. I feel so very blessed by friends and family who make me feel so special on my birthday!

Please be praying for R that she feels better. We aren't quite sure what's wrong with her, but she's definitely not feeling 100%. Maybe another ear infection? And of course be in prayer for our country and our world. I wrote this post on prayer a few weeks ago that is still applicable in these current events if you haven't read it yet.

I hope to find time this week to post pictures from last weekend, but I make no promises. My whole family came up from Texas to surprise me for an early birthday weekend, and it was so fun! And of course I want to post R's 11-month update. Just one more month until I am officially the mother of a one-year-old. HOW. I still don't know what I'm doing, in case you thought I was all knowledgable about baby stuff now.

Have a great week! May you find joy today in whatever circumstance you find yourself.

p.s. A little something for those of you who want more Jordan on the blog. R takes no prisoners.

Deep Thoughts-ish


Hello hello! Just popping in to share one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken of R that I got on July 4th. I mean seriously. This bad boy is getting framed like yesterday. I even got her to wear a bow for 4.35 seconds! Winning. Kind of.

I had an absolutely fabulous weekend that was full of surprises and laughs and family time. Sometimes you just have to look around and think, Is this my life? And the answer is yes. Yes, it is. R is turning eleven months old this weekend, and I'm all kinds of emotional thinking about her turning one. Those newborn weeks were hard. So hard. But this girl makes me smile and laugh and she's just so darn fun, and every day she learns something new and is just the cutest ever.

I'm about three-quarters of the way finished with The Nightingale, which is a fiction novel set in WWII in occupied France, and it's making me feel so glad I live in a free country and so thankful for all those who sacrifice to keep it that way. America!

You could say I'm having a lot of deep thoughts lately. 

I blame the Fourth of July and the fact that R is turning one next month and the fact that I'm turning thirty in four days. THIRTY.

I remember when I thought thirty sounded so old, but now I'm like, shoot, thirty isn't so bad! Except I feel like my metabolism is a ticking time bomb, so excuse me while I eat all the ice cream and cupcakes in the countdown to Sunday. Don't try and stop me.

I will be accepting birthday gifts in the form of cash or diapers. Size 3. For R, not me, although given my history I can see how you might be confused.

Five on Friday: Cherries and Grilling and Birthdays


Happy Friday before a long weekend! The best kind of Friday because it means a whole extra day to spend with R and Jordan, my two favorite people.

1. Today is July 1, which means it's BIRTHDAY MONTH. Both Jordan and I have birthdays in July, one week apart exactly. If you know me, you know how much I love birthdays, and this year I'm turning 30! I spent my birthday last year planning Jordan's surprise party for his 30th, which turned out fabulous. I was only 8 months pregnant. No big deal.

I asked him not to throw me a big party this year because we are heading to Chicago the very next weekend and don't have a ton of extra money to spend. But I think I'll have some friends over for game night and pie and probably definitely eat cupcakes at some point. And hello getting to see a Cubs game a Wrigley is going to be awesome. Maybe we will even take R back to the place where Jordan proposed!
^^^Little Amanda with her birthday cake.

2. I took R to the doctor for a checkup yesterday, and she has officially jumped back up to the 50th percentile! Our little nugget is over 18 pounds and eating so. much. food. She gained over 2 pounds just in the month of June!
^^^So many creepster pictures of her sleeping. You have no idea.

3. I bought some cherries at the grocery store this week, and I cannot stop eating them. Fruit, get in my belly. I am so thankful my husband is a freak of nature who hates fruit because that just means more for me. And R, I guess. Because she eats real food now and demands I share with her. It's terrible. (See: #2 above) JOEY DOESN'T SHARE FOOD. I'm not explaining that reference.

3a. After last month's epic fail I really did good on our grocery budget this month. Maybe I need to write a grocery budget update post soon!

4. I have completely and utterly slacked on reading this month. I didn't even finish one book! I am still slowly moving through the book on prayer that I mentioned in this post, and it's fascinating but not exactly a quick read. I just got a notification that The Nightingale is available at the library, so I am picking that up today and maybe finish it over the weekend.

5. I grilled for the first time ever! I mean, I've eaten grilled food before, but I have never personally grilled anything all by myself until Wednesday night. Jordan assisted in seasoning the steak and chicken and helping with the coals, but I did the rest of it! And our food actually wasn't that bad, so yay for me.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend and holiday (if you live in the States). If not, you're probably better off because (insert comment about our available choices of political candidates. Don't get me started.)

July the 4th be with you.
... Is that not how you do it?

p.s. It's a known fact that blog reading and page views take a dive in the summer, so if you are reading this, just know that I appreciate it so much. I write to keep my creative skills alive and because I enjoy sharing pictures and stories, but I will be honest. It really, really, really helps to know that my words are read and, maybe, inspiring in some way. So thanks.

*linking up with Christina and the other ladies for Five on Friday.