Confession Session vol 4

11.28.2016


1. I got our Christmas cards in the mail a few weeks ago, and they've been sitting on our table addressed, stamped, and ready to send out since before Thanksgiving. But I wait (very impatiently) for December 1, which is what I consider to be the earliest possible time to send out Christmas cards without looking crazy. This happens every year because I love sending out Christmas cards so much.

2. Speaking of Christmas, I don't get why pictures of babies sitting on Santa's lap screaming their heads off are funny. The kid is clearly terrified! Why are we taking pictures and sharing them all over the internet? This seems like cruel and unusual punishment, but maybe that's just me. I probably made some people mad just now.

3. I bought a half gallon of ice cream two days ago and it's half gone, and Jordan's only eaten one bowl, so I can't even blame him for most of it but I'm going to anyway.

4. I've watched two episodes of the Gilmore Girls Revival so far, and it is completely and totally fulfilling all my TV hopes and dreams. It's clear that I have a mildly embarrassingly strong emotional attachment to these characters, because every time a new cast member appears in the scene, I shout, "It's ____!" like I'm meeting an old friend I haven't seen in a while. Oh, and Jordan claims he doesn't care, but he sat down of his own choice and watched the whole second episode with me and told me very specifically to not watch the third episode without him, so that's all I'll say about that.

5. R has regressed somewhat and is back to her old biting habits at daycare. It's actually really stressful because I'm not there to see it and so I really can't do anything about it. I picked her up the other day and they said, "She had a few attempted bitings but not as many as usual." Of course I was horrified and said, "HOW MANY IS USUAL?" And they said it depended on the day and her mood, so apparently she's 15 months old and moody. Yay. Jordan says she got that from me, and I can't even disagree. I'm moody.

6. I really really really want to find more blogs written by full-time working moms. And by more, I mean any. I do follow a few bloggers who work full time (to name a couple off the top of my head: Katie, Leslie, Christina, Rachel, Steph), but for the most part bloggers either don't have kids or stay at home. And a lot of the bloggers who do work don't blog very often, which I understand because hello, who has the time? (Me, apparently. I must be doing something wrong.) And when I do actually find a new blogger who works full time, she doesn't reply to any comments I leave! Apparently replying to blog comments is not what the cool kids are doing these days. I was really excited because a couple of bloggers I read consistently and were pregnant were going to work full time, but then they quit their jobs and now stay at home so that ruined that. I'm so very happy for them, of course, but I just sometimes don't feel like people get me anymore and are tired of me writing about motherhood and working, etc. And I start to get a complex about it and question the point of everything. ANYWAY. I could go on but I'm already tired of myself.

7. I've been taking R to the park with me right after work. We don't even go home; we just drive straight to the park and play for a half hour or so, and we both love it. She is so funny! Last time, we sat on the ground while she sat and poked sticks through a hole in the bench for a full fifteen minutes. I'm not even kidding, and if you know toddlers, you know that fifteen minutes is a long time to focus on one specific activity. I tried to get her to go down the slide or climb the ramp, but she just screamed and ran back toward the sticks. She also dives headfirst down all the slides, or at least she tries to and sometimes I let her because why not. I was talking to a mom I ran into one day who said her two-yr-old daughter just got over her fear of the slide, and I was like, "Yeah, we don't have that problem." Fearless, that one. Hold me.

8. Every night I go to bed wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants, and every night I wake up a few hours later covered in sweat and rip off my pants and sweatshirt and swear I will never fall asleep with them on again. But I'm cold when I first get in bed, so what's the solution? Maybe I need to buy an electric blanket or something. Or tell Jordan to get over himself and come to bed when I do so I can snuggle up. That guy is a furnace.

9. When you have a husband who plays video games, you sometimes hear some ridiculous things coming from his room. (For example: this) A few weeks ago I was passing by and heard, "Well dang it. There goes 20k and all of our cocaine." I immediately popped my head in and was like, "Um, excuse me?" And he says, "We're drug dealers, okay? We just got robbed!" So I looked at the screen and his character was literally a skinny dude in a polo shirt and frat boy shorts and loafers hiding in a warehouse. Who is this person I married? I told him I was going to tweet about it, but I never did because without context I didn't want people to get the wrong idea about us. I also told him that once R starts talking and not just babbling, he won't be able to play those types of games because what are we supposed to do if she repeats that kind of thing to the daycare teachers???? They'll send DHS over with sniffer dogs or something. Gracious.

10. Thanksgiving potlucks completely ruined our November food budget, and I don't even care. I refuse to stop the bleeding and went to the new Trader Joe's last week and spent a rather absurd amount of money on an individual serving of microwavable organic frozen mac and cheese. And let me tell you: it was delicious.

Want to confess something? Go right ahead. This is a safe space, friends.

See also: Confession Session vol 1. / vol 2. / vol 3.

Thanksgiving in Texas

We spent Thanksgiving in Texas this year, just like we've done every year since Jordan and I have been married. Some of you longtime blog readers might remember that my family puts on a local turkey trot 5k and 1-mile fun run/walk on Thanksgiving morning. Each year we sell out and have almost 1,000 people come to run with their families. We do everything from the shirts to finisher medals to setting up the route, water stops, and packet pickup. It's quite a job but really cool to be a part of something like this. All the money raised supports Youth for Christ in North Texas. (And by "we" I mean mostly my parents and my aunt and uncle. The rest of us basically show up to help on Thanksgiving morning.)

Last year R was only 4.5 months old, and I carried her in the Ergo carrier most of the morning. This year she was mobile, and we weren't entirely sure how she would handle everything, but she did amazing. She woke up at 5:30 when Jordan's alarm went off and was talking up a storm and wide awake. We bundled her up and put her in the stroller, where she sat and watched everyone getting things set up. Eventually she wanted to get out, and she mostly just wandered around while we all took turns watching her. I was so excited because she is finally big enough to wear the hat I bought her on sale forever ago. That paired with overalls and a puffy coat, and I could barely handle the cuteness.
^^^ She's pretty much going to be happy as long as she has a banana.

The trot went really well this year, probably the smoothest it's gone in 6 years. I think everyone had a good time, and the weather was fantastic! After the race was over and we cleaned everything up, we headed back to my parents' house to get the food ready for our Thanksgiving meal. My aunt and uncle and their family live just down the street from my parents, and we also go over to their house to eat. My aunt is seriously one of the best decorators I know and always sets such a lovely table! I feel like it's something out of a magazine. Each of those acorns had our name written on it as our place setting and they are going to be ornaments on our Christmas tree!
Later that night, after we ate and napped and ate again, my family went back to my parents' house, where we played a really fun game. It's kind of like Pictionary meets Telephone. You start with a sentence, and then pass the paper to the next person, who draws a picture based on the sentence. They fold the paper back so only their picture is showing and pass the paper to the next person, who writes a sentence based on the picture. Then the paper is folded back so only the sentence is showing, and the next person draws a picture. And so on until it's made its way all the way around the circle and back to the person who wrote the original sentence. Each person writes a sentence, so everyone in the circle is always writing or drawing! It's always so funny to compare the original sentence to the ending sentence.

This was my paper, and I cannot stop laughing about it.

In case it's hard to read, it says "Daniel stands under a tree during a rainstorm" (Daniel is my brother, FYI)
The next sentence says, "Adam just ate from the tree of life and is judged."
Then: "Adam loved the tree, then ate the apple, then bowed before the cross."
Then: "Sin and repentance."
It ends with: "Black Christ."

I don't know why, but I was dying laughing.


I read something a few weeks ago about how hard the holidays can be because so many people dread getting together with their families. And yes, there is always going to be stress when there are so many people around, all with different opinions and different personalities. But I truly love being with my family, and so the holidays for me are just extra special time together. I had a very happy Thanksgiving and hope you did as well! Going along with what I shared in my last post, even though this year has been difficult for me personally for various reasons, I do believe there is always, always something to be thankful for.

p.s. I made a short video of behind-the-scenes of our turkey trot! It's mostly just for my family to have the memory in video format, but if you are interested, you can watch it here.

Thankful for: Daycare (One Year Later)

11.22.2016

^^^ One of our many many many daycare parking lot selfies before dropoff. 

We are coming up on R being in daycare for one full year. Going back to work full time has been one of the hardest things for me to do, possibly ever. I know that not everyone feels that way. I have friends who work and don’t seem as bothered by it as I am. Everyone is different, and that’s okay! But I know for me, it has been incredibly difficult, and if you are a working mom and you find it difficult too, just know that there's someone (me!) who can relate.

I would like to tell you that after almost a year of being back at work and having R in daycare Monday through Friday, I never get sad. I would like to tell you that it wasn't so hard to drop her off, that I didn't think about her constantly during the day.

I would like to tell you that I never got jealous of stay-at-home moms. I would like to tell you that I'm doing great, that I don't have any problems being a full-time working mom.

And I guess some of those things are true, depending on the day. It isn't quite so hard to drop her off now. I trust the daycare and love her teachers, and I know she's taken care of. I do think about her constantly, but it's not as often in that yearning way where I text Jordan ten crying faces and scroll through pictures and videos of her on my phone every five minutes.

I do get jealous of moms who stay at home, but the feeling doesn't pop up quite as often anymore. I feel sad sometimes, but it's not all the time. I thought for sure that in a year I would be totally over it, totally fine. The fact that I'm clearly not is extremely frustrating. But I can see some forward progress.

One year ago, I was literally crying every single time I thought about dropping her off at daycare. And truthfully, the first few weeks were terrible. After picking her up the second day of daycare, I literally fell asleep nursing her at 7 pm and then woke up, laid on the floor in the middle of the living room, and cried for a half hour. I even dramatically told Jordan, "I can't live like this!" Thankfully for both of us, that was the worst of it.

This year was incredibly difficult for me, but at the same I'm thinking, okay, what exactly is your problem? No one died. No one had any major medical issues. There weren't any huge financial troubles. Tell me again what the problem is? You had to take your baby to daycare? But just because I didn't face anything "big" doesn't mean my own trial isn't worthy of mention. We all have to do hard thing sometimes, and I have to believe that the cliche really is true: what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

This November, I’m choosing to focus on how thankful I am for this year. I truly see some wonderful benefits to daycare, and looking back, I am thankful for all this year has taught me. 

The following are, in no particular order, six things about daycare that I'm thankful for. I know that a year ago, reading something like this would have been really encouraging for me. There are many negative things on the internet about daycare, and I know I've only been doing this for one year, but I'm here to tell you that in my experience so far, there are good things too. Here are just a few:

1) They don’t have TVs at daycare, so she never watches it during the weekday, and on the weekend we are playing or out and about so we don’t really have it on very much! I love that she interacts with the world and not with a TV or a tablet the majority of the time. In her daycare room they either have KLOVE radio on or a baby CD of Bible songs, and I like that.

2) I have very intentional playtime with her on the weekends and weeknights. Obviously there are things that need to get done sometimes like errands and chores, and I sometimes I do text someone or check my phone when I'm with her (I don't believe you if you say you don't do that too), but I think because I’m away from her so much during the day, I'm careful that the time I do spend with her is quality time where I am playing with her intentionally. I do need to do some things when she’s around (like cook dinner or throw a load of laundry in the washer), but I try to leave bigger chores and household things for after she’s in bed.

3) R is 15 months old, and I don’t think I have ever once gotten tired of her or felt like I needed a break. Now, there have of course been times when I was sick or feeling really tired when I wished she would take a nap so I could rest, but in general I basically never get tired of her. I take her with me everywhere on all my errands and want her around all the time and I know I wouldn’t feel quite that way if I were with her all day every day. It’s actually the opposite problem: I have a hard time wanting to be away from her. This has happened more than once: my mother-in-law has offered to watch R so I could run some errands or just relax at home, and I’ve said no because I wanted to spend time with her myself.

4) At daycare, she learns to be cared for by other people. She has a tiny bit of separation anxiety and cries sometimes when I leave her, but she’s fine as soon as I’m around the corner out of sight. I like that she’s not attached to me and can be okay with someone else watching her. She goes fine in the church nursery and is fine when other people are around, and I think that's partly due to being in daycare.

5) She gets lots of social interaction with other kids. If I were at home all day, R would not get the type of social interaction she does at daycare, and for that I’m thankful. She plays with others and will hopefully learn about sharing and playing nicely with friends. I’m excited for her to get older and be able to have daycare friends that she can tell me about when I pick her up! Right now there’s a girl who runs over when we come in and says R’s name over and over, and I’ve seen the two girls give each other a hug. It’s super cute.


6) For me personally, this year has been a lesson in letting go of things I can’t control. It probably won’t shock you to know that I like to be in control and do things my way. (Lucky Jordan!) There have been so many times this year that I’ve cried (read: had a hormonal meltdown) because the daycare didn’t do something exactly like I would have. Maybe they fed her a bottle “too early” or gave her “too much food” for lunch or gave her apple juice with her snack when I only give her water or milk at home.

I know there are obviously some things you shouldn’t compromise on. And I absolutely know that I have the right as her parent and basically the daycare's employer to tell them how I want things done. At the same time, I also don’t want to be a crazy helicopter parent, and none of the things I was upset about were life threatening. They weren’t even wrong; they just maybe weren’t exactly what I would have done. 

It’s been a good lesson for me to learn that even if it’s not what I preferred, she’s still going to be fine. The world won’t end because she didn’t eat exactly what I wanted her to eat for lunch or she drank juice for a snack. Probably all parents learn this at some point, but it’s been forced upon me this year, and while I didn’t necessarily like it, looking back I’m glad I learned it.

This year was hard, but I learned a lot and I'm hopefully a better person and a better mom for it. I just hope to continue to take steps toward thankfulness and gratitude for our current working situation and pray for contentment and joy even when it's hard.

Other posts I've written about being a working mom:
Voices
Full
On Thriving and Joy and Being a Working Mom
On Joy (Again)
A Day in the Life (from January, so things have obviously changed some!)
About Work
*You can also just click the "working mom" tab in the navigation bar under "topics"!

Our 2016 Christmas Cards

11.20.2016


Sending out Christmas cards is one of my favorite things to do every year. I always order them way in advance and have them addressed and stamped before Thanksgiving, ready to send out. This year is no different!

I've ordered our cards from Minted for the past couple of years, as you probably already know from reading my blog. I've collaborated with them on a few giveaways in the past, which has been awesome because I would be using them anyway so why not also be a sponsor and be able to give something back to my readers?

This year, I was able to splurge on upgraded recycled paper and red backing (instead of plain white) and I love how they turned out! We didn't take special Christmas pictures; I just used the ones we took in August during our family photo shoot.

My absolute favorite part of getting Christmas cards at Minted is the free address printing.* SO CUTE.  They have all different styles and colors, many of which match directly with the card design.

I happen to know that they will have some killer deals coming up during Black Friday and Cyber Monday with some of their deepest discounts of the year! If you haven't ordered your cards yet, check out the selection at Minted. I guarantee you will find something you love that you won't see anywhere else this holiday season.

Do you send out Christmas cards?

*While we are on the subject of addresses, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF APOSTROPHES DO NOT PUT AN APOSTROPHE IN LAST NAMES THAT YOU ARE MAKING PLURAL. Example: The Bumgarners = correct. The Bumgarner's = incorrect. Seeing apostrophes in plural last names puts me into a bit of a rage, so just don't be that person. I'm more than happy to clarify this point if it's at all confusing to you. There are no stupid questions, but there are stupid apostrophes in the wrong places. 

November: Hot Water with Lemon Date

11.18.2016


Note: This is not a coffee date, because I don't drink coffee. If we were together in the morning, I would be drinking a glass of hot water with lemon, which probably sounds terrible but it's actually really good so don't say things about it.

WHAT I'M LEARNING

That I really like baking muffins at night after R goes to bed.
Baking muffins for R's snacks at daycare has uncovered a secret love. Seriously, muffins are so easy to make, always turn out delicious, and so customizable! I love using whole wheat flour and adding oats and veggies to make them super healthy. They freeze really well too so we always have a healthy breakfast or snack to grab when we're in a pinch! Her current favorite is the blueberry avocado muffin. You can find that recipe and a few more of our favorites here.



WHAT I'M WONDERING

Where my keys are.
In case you missed it, I lost my entire set of keys a month ago and had to replace them all (even my car key, which was $100), and I will never stop wondering where they went. They straight up disappeared and it's weird. And don't bother commenting to say that I'm sure they will turn up. That's called false hope, and I shall have none of it here!

Why I'm writing this blog post right now instead of sleeping.

Why people comment on certain blog posts more than others.
Almost every time, the blog posts that I think will get the most comments hardly get any and the posts I don't think people will comment on get a lot. What is the deal with you people?



WHAT I'M READING

I actually quit on a book a week or so ago, which I hardly ever do but I have my reasons. (BTW, I really need to do a book review post soon. It's been a while.) I haven't started a new book yet, but Chelsea is making me want to pick up The Woman in Cabin 10.

WHAT I'M CLICKING

I'm really trying not to click on anything politically related for the time being. I deleted both the Instagram app and the Twitter app off my phone, and I'm just kind of taking a mini break from the socials. It was all getting to be a bit too much and I have to say, I don't miss it.

Jenny suggested I watch this video after I posted about my problems getting R and Jordan to cooperate while taking a photo of me. Seriously so funny. Minute 1:42. Dead.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I need this hair dryer. I blame Maria for making it sound so great.

Erin just wrote an update post about life with two kids now that her son made his arrival!

This giveaway for an OttLite!


WHAT I'M WRITING

Idols - My thoughts on the election
Leftovers and Meal Planning - Follow-up post to what I wrote about our September meal plan
12-Minute Memoir: Waking Up // Bedtime
Random Life Snapshots

What have you been clicking lately? What are you wondering right now?

On Having Leftovers (and other thoughts about meal planning)

11.15.2016


The #1 question I got after publishing my post about our September meal planning was how we get our meals to stretch so far. A good number of people emailed me or commented saying that they rarely have leftovers, and they were surprised by how many times we could eat off one meal. For the record, we don't always have leftovers, and sometimes a meal will be just the perfect amount for both of us with nothing extra. However, we do eat leftovers a lot. 

I was thinking about this and wanted to share a couple of things that I think help us have leftovers and make our meals last. Below that, I want to share a few things I learned while keeping track of our meals that might help you with your own meal planning. 

My goal here is not to tell you things you already know or act like I have the only or best food strategy, but maybe this will give you some ideas for your own meals!

1. COOK LARGER PORTIONS
This more than likely isn't going to apply to a larger family, but for Jordan and I, it helps to cook a larger portion of food with the intention of eating leftovers later in the week. Some meals don't make any leftovers at all, and some meals just aren't very easy to make bigger, but there are a few meals that I can intentionally make bigger with the goal of having leftovers. Our chicken & rice skillet is a great example. We increase the amount of rice and add more veggies to make a double portion that we can eat off for a few days. This sweet potato burrito bowl is another one.

2. MAKE YOUR MEALS MORE FILLING
This kind of goes along with #1, because what you're doing here is adding things to your meal to make it bigger and more filling. Here's an example: when I make tacos using one pound of ground beef, we typically don't have many leftovers. I like to add a can of black beans (drained) to the ground beef. It's the same amount of meat, but the overall portion is larger and the beans are more filling, so you eat less overall, leaving leftovers for the next day! If I have one handy, I have also added a can of Rotel with the beans and ground beef. Also consider what sides you could add to your meal to make your main dish go further. Maybe a salad or some roasted veggies. Often we will eat all the side but still have the entree for leftovers, and I'll make another side for the second meal.

3. BE INTENTIONAL
This is probably the biggest factor for us in having leftovers. It's so easy to just keep eating and eating because it's sitting in front of you, and if the meal tastes good you don't want to stop! If I want to have leftovers, I have to be intentional about it. This is one reason weekly meal planning can be helpful. If I know that I already planned on eating Monday's leftovers on Wednesday, I know that if I keep eating and don't have food leftover, that just messes me up later. Now, obviously if you're hungry you should get seconds (or thirds!), but my guess is that if you ate slower and tried to be intentional about saving leftovers, you might realize that you aren't quite as hungry as you think.

A FEW OTHER THOUGHTS
-Prep for multiple meals at the same time.
After tracking our meals in September, I realized this is something I'm pretty good at! This is also another reason why meal planning can save you time. Let's say you planned on eating something on Tuesday and Thursday that both involved peeled and chopped veggies. Peeling and chopping certainly isn't my favorite thing to do, not to mention that you have to wash the peeler, the cutting board, and your knife. What I will do is peel and cut two portions of veggies at once. It takes more time initially, but now on Thursday I have it ready to go!

Another example is last month when we ate homemade pizza. Our pizza topping was sausage, onion, and green pepper, and I made a whole wheat crust. The recipe made two crusts, so I used one that night and saved the other one for a few days until we made pizza later in the week. I also cooked a double portion of sausage, onion, and green pepper. We used one half on the first pizza and saved the second half for later. The first pizza took the most time to make obviously, but the second pizza took hardly any time at all because the work was already done! It was basically a homemade meal that I didn't have to do any work for.

-Utilize your freezer.
I cannot stress this enough: your freezer is your friend. Example: one weekend we grilled chicken breasts. We ate the chicken with some roasted veggies, and it was delicious. After eating, we had one chicken breast leftover. This obviously isn't enough for two people to eat, and it's not even really enough for one person. So I shredded it, put it in a freezer bag, and popped it in the freezer. Then, a few weeks later, I made chicken pot pie and used the shredded chicken we'd cooked earlier that month!

-Make two meals at once: one to eat and one to freeze.
Going along with utilizing your freezer, here's a handy trick: make two meals at once! Eat one for dinner that night and freeze the other one for later. Here are two examples of meals this works really well with: chicken pot pie (just make a double portion of the inside) / baked ziti (you can literally put both pans together at the same time).

Okay! I think that's all I have to say about food and meal planning for a while. I really do hope this maybe gives you an idea or two about how we stretch our meals and meal prep during the week. If you have any tips or tricks, please share!


Related: 

How We Budget Food
4 Tips for Spending Less at the Grocery Store
Food Budgeting: Mid-Year Update

12-Minute Memoir: Bedtime

11.14.2016


*This is part of a new post series where I set my timer for 12 minutes and write about a specific word or phrase. Idea originally from here. (I actually wrote 15 minutes on this one!)

I know a lot of books recommend having a consistent bedtime routine for babies, but we never did that for R. We don't give her a bath every night or sprinkle her with essential oils or read a book or turn on a baby lullaby. My main concern when she was a new baby was to "set the mood," so to speak, by making it clear that it was night, and nighttime was for sleeping.

We tried to talk softer, turn down the lights, and move a little slower. Since I'm away from R most of the day at work, I would be happy to keep her up later at night so we could have more time to hang out. I am never excited for bedtime, because I want to keep playing with her. But right around 7:00, she starts getting fussy and rubbing her eyes, so that's when we start getting her ready for bed.

I change her diaper and put on her pjs, and for some reason I've always called it "sleepy sleep," so I say, "Are you ready for sleepy sleep?" If she's sitting on the floor when I ask her that, she will sometimes straight up lay down on the ground. Sometimes if I give her her pjs, she will set it on the ground and sit on top of it like she's trying to put it on herself. It's adorable.

I put her pjs on, and then I turn to Jordan and tell R, "Say goodnight to Dada." And she waves at him and smiles. Over the past few months we've been trying to start brushing her teeth regularly before she goes to bed, and she hates it. She shuts her lips and glares at us, so we shove the toothbrush in there anyway. She opens her mouth wide to yell, and we quickly scrub her teeth. You could say it's going well.

We try not to take for granted the fact that she typically goes to bed really well. Some days she isn't having it, but for the most part I just lay her in her crib with her blanket, a few pacifiers, and her bear, cow, and giraffe, and she goes to sleep without hardly crying at all. I tell her that Jesus loves her and daddy loves her and mommy loves her, and I tell her she's smart and strong and beautiful, and I pray that she has a good night sleep, and then I say, "I love you. Goodnight," and shut the door.

I nursed her before bed until around 14 months, and then one day I decided to not nurse and see what happened. She didn't wake up during the night or seem to miss that final feeding, so it really went great! We don't give her a cup of milk before bed, just whatever she drank during dinner at 6:00. (Although if she's thirsty between dinner and bedtime, of course we give her something to drink.)

Most nights she's asleep by 7:30, and then Jordan and I have a few hours to ourselves. Usually I clean up dinner and tidy the house a bit, maybe get a few things ready for lunch and snack the next day. Then I watch TV while I blog or work on a freelance editing project if I have one. I like to be in bed by 9:00 so I can have time to read my Bible and maybe even a few chapters of my book before I fall asleep.

Jordan usually stays up until 10:00 or 10:30. Even though we go to bed at different times, we try to make sure we pray together every night. It doesn't always happen (usually because I've already fallen asleep), but we do our best.

And that's what our bedtime looks like!

What time do you go to bed?
Do you have a bedtime routine?

// See the first post in this series: Waking Up

The OttLite Difference for Jordan's Man Cave (+ a Giveaway!)

11.10.2016



This post is sponsored by OttLite, but all opinions, text, and photos (and excitement!) are totally and completely mine.

Usually I do sponsored posts about things for either me or for R, but I agreed to do this post about the OttLite specifically for Jordan.

I had the option to choose one of a few different lamps from the OttLite website, and I chose the LED Crane Lamp because Jordan has told me in the past that he would love to have a brighter light to use at his desk. Our back bedroom is his "man cave" and it's as dark as a tomb back there if he doesn't have the overhead light on. As a hobby, he paints these miniature WWII figurines sometimes and has a hard time seeing what he's doing without good lighting. Welcome to his setup with a before/after comparison. I did zero editing on these photos, and seriously there's so much difference! I'm not just saying this for the post. Honestly, I am really happy with the light this thing gives off.
^^^I showed Jordan this post before I published it, and he said QUOTE, "I look like a sea urchin on the right." LOL.

What I liked about the crane lamp was the option to use the desk lamp base or use the clamp to easily move it to different locations. However, I also considered getting this lamp because of the sliding dimmer and USB port in the back. So handy!
^^^ Can any other video game wives out there relate to this headphone with microphone and double monitor setup? Please someone.

Our new OttLite is also great for at my desk at home (when Jordan shares it, which he already told me he doesn't want to do because he loves the light so much I'm not kidding). 

OttLite is engineered to bring the quality of natural daylight indoors so you can see more clearly and comfortably. I'm a bit of a hypochondriac and freak out about going blind just about every other day, so I appreciate that the natural LED helps with less eyestrain. You can read more about that here if you're interested. 
Save 25% on your very own OttLite by using code BLOGGER25 (valid through December 31, 2016, on in-stock lamps).

Enter to win the OttLite lamp of your choice and win one for a friend! Enter by clicking here. There will be FIVE winners! (Contest is open November 7 - December 3, 2016.)

things unrelated to each other or anything else

Hi. Okay.

First, I need to tell you that tomorrow's post is sponsored. It's terrible timing, because who really cares about sponsored posts right now? Not me, but I am obligated to post it by Friday so it's happening. The good news is there's a discount code and a giveaway so at least there's something in it for you too, and seriously Jordan already used our new OttLite just last night and was all sorts of excited about how perfect it was for his desk, so maybe I'm onto something. Learn more about the OttLite here and check back tomorrow for a giveaway! 

A few weekends ago, probably a month ago at this point, we took R to see one of Jordan's sister's soccer games. She plays for her college team and she's good. During halftime R ran around on the sidelines, and the golden hour light was like HELLO COME TO MAMA. I only wish I had my big camera to capture it better, but I'm kind of in love with the shot I got (above). That outfit is one of my favorites.

Speaking of outfits, R was a bird for Halloween, and this is the best picture I got of her in her costume. I had ever intention of putting her in her costume at home and doing a photoshoot, but I haven't yet. Maybe there's still time? I was dying over the striped tights. Best ever. Of course, she hated wearing the hood and kept ripping it off. She doesn't like stuff on her head!
Last weekend we were at my parents' house, and we all had fun taking pictures with the W flag. We only had to try the jumping picture 85 times to get us both off the ground at the same time but it was totally worth it kind of. My sister-in-law would race into the picture with R, drop her off in front of us, and we just hoped she stayed still long enough to get in the picture. Nailed it. 

Unlike our other photo disaster. I don't want to talk about it.

In other semi-related-to-nothing news, R can, on command when asked, show you where her eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hair, and (her favorite) belly button are. She still doesn't say any words but she clearly knows what we're saying to her and it's kind of awesome. I can say, "Come on, follow me in here" and she toddles her little self down the hall and I die.

People who warned me about what was in store for me when she started walking didn't know what they were talking about. IT'S AWESOME. No more crawling around on the gross floor eating the tiniest crumbs and getting the knees of her pants and the front of her shirt dirty. No more carrying her all. the. time. everywhere. She can walk! I love it.

Finally, if you're at a place in your life where you can handle some election comic relief (and it's totally understandable if you aren't!), I personally found this the best tweet of election night. As long as people can still make jokes, I have to believe we're all going to be okay.

Lastly, not to sound dramatic or start shouting or anything, but YOU ARE ALL AMAZING AND WONDERFUL AND EVEN IF WE DISAGREE I STILL LOVE ALL OF YOU GOODNIGHT AND AMEN.

Idols

11.09.2016

I didn't vote for president of the United States. 

I wasn't planning on announcing that so openly on the blog, but I don't feel like what I say next will have any weight unless you understand that I had no dog in this fight. R and I stood in line for an hour yesterday, and I filled out a ballot, checking boxes to answer important state questions and vote for senators and other offices, but I left the POTUS boxes blank. I know that's not necessarily a popular choice, but after prayerful consideration, I just didn't feel right about supporting either candidate with my vote, so I cast none.

I truly believed that each candidate had flaws (as they all do), and I felt that neither was fit for the job of president for different reasons. Some reasons were policy based and some were about the person, but I won't go into all that here.

It was interesting, then, to watch events unfold last night. Considering the fact that I wanted neither to win, I was surprisingly anxious when results started coming in.

I had heard so much throughout the week from people on both sides about how happy everyone would be to finally have the election over. How we would all move forward together, how we would all still be friends. On the days leading up to the election, so many people said things like, "I don't care who you vote for. Just go vote!"

And then came the results, and to say I was shocked and dismayed is an understatement. Not so much by the actual numbers (although I admit, I thought Hilary would be running away with it), but by the things people were saying. The same people who said we should move forward together were cursing, saying they would never forgive people for how they voted and that anyone who voted for Trump was a racist bigot. The same people who said, "Just vote! It doesn't matter who you vote for! It's your right!" were shaming people for voting on the Libertarian ticket and taking votes away from their candidate in swing states.

Disillusioned. Sick. Scared. Heartbroken.

I'm not saying it doesn't completely suck when your candidate loses. I'm not saying it's not okay to feel sad and even angry and fearful, as many are saying they do. But I think what this election has shown us, maybe more than any other, is that we have made the grave mistake of making America our idol.

The most telling tweets last night weren't the ones with election results but with people saying, "America will fail" like that's some big surprise. American WILL fail in the end. Everything will. And the only thing standing will be the rider on the white horse, who has come back to take his followers home.

You're rolling your eyes. That sounds totally crazy, I know. I also know that so many people are disillusioned by Christianity, the church, and God, maybe even moreso after what happened yesterday. All I can say is that I plead with you seek Jesus.

Humans will fail you.
The government will fail you.
Jesus will not.

He is the one who said love your neighbor as yourself. He said come to me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest. He said let the children come to me. He said cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you. He said not to be anxious. He said seek and you will find. He said that the kingdom of this earth will pass away but he will never pass away. He said to take care of the orphans, the widows, and the sick. He touched lepers and healed blind men and ate with tax collectors, who, if you aren't up on your ancient history, were some of the most hated people in the land.

And he also said to have no other gods before him.

I don't know the plan or why things happen. I have so many questions about so many things that will probably never be answered this side of heaven. But I believe that he is neither surprised nor confused nor perplexed by the outcome of the election. And I have no idea if this is true, but what if the 2016 presidential race is supposed to teach us that having human idols and making idols of our government is not where we should put our trust. Because clearly that will fail us.

As long as God commands, the sun will still rise (note: at God's command, not the president's!), and we have a choice. We can name call and point fingers and make plans to move to Canada.

Or we can choose love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We can choose hope in a future that doesn't end on earth but continues forever and ever and forever in heaven.

We can choose Jesus.

*Comments turned off. I would love to hear feedback (good or bad) if you have any either via email or social media, but I don't feel like opening my blog comments to random internet trolls and subsequent political debates. That's not the point of this post. I actually feel very nervous to post this, but it's what's on my heart and I don't want fear to keep me from speaking out on this very important issue. I am praying for you, dear friend. Peace.

that one time I tried to be a fashionable Instagram blogger

11.07.2016

Two weekends ago, Jordan and I took R to a wedding. Or, more specifically, a wedding reception. The bride and groom had gotten married in Florida last month and had a reception back in Oklahoma for all the poor saps who couldn't afford to attend the beach nuptials.

I had a brand-new-to-me black dress that I was excited to wear for the first time. My sister-in-law gave it to me because it was, and I quote, "too big in the chest area." Which gave me a good laugh because obviously I'm not really the kind of person anyone ever says that about, but my sister-in-law is the definition of petite so anyway. Her loss is my gain (literally?).

Since I was wearing a cute dress and heels, and R was all fancy in her dress and bow, I told Jordan I wanted to get a picture of the two of us standing together. I tried to channel the fashionable bloggers on Instagram who line up against a wall holding hands with their toddler, and they're looking at each other all cute and stuff. You know the ones I'm talking about.
Well, I'm here to tell you those pictures are dumb. Do these bloggers glue their toddler to the wall or something? HOW DO THEY GET THESE PICTURES? R kept running away, and Jordan just kept saying, "I don't understand what kind of picture you want" while I stood against the wall and sighed.

All I want is for my 14-month-old to wear a dress and a bow and stand still against an aged brick wall in optimal outdoor natural lighting while holding my hand and looking up at me in adoration while I stare back at her wearing a dress and heels with perfectly styled hair and a designer handbag so I can post the non-blurry picture to Instagram and include 30 well-placed hashtags so the internet people can fawn en masse over our cuteness.

I just really don't think that's too much to ask for.

PSA: I am not emotionally stable enough to blog right now

11.02.2016

Unless you live under a rock and/or you hate America and all things wonderful and/or you don't follow me on Twitter, you might not know that there's a little thing going on called baseball playoffs. My beloved Cubs made the post season and made it to the World Series for the first time in over 70 years, and as much as I love it, these games are killing me.

Normally I would spend some time blogging a few evenings a night, but lately it's been all about baseball. We literally bought a pack-and-play for R last month specifically so we could take her to watch parties and have somewhere to lay her down for bed. Thankfully, she transfers well from the pack-and-play to the car then back to her own bed when we are ready to go home!

If you read my post about waking up, then you know I am not a night person. These games aren't getting over until after 11, and I am not cut out for this type of lifestyle. Normally if I'm not in bed by 9:30, something has gone horribly wrong. So forgive me for not posting a Halloween recap or an update on life currently, because I am not emotionally stable enough to blog right now.

Game 7 is TONIGHT and then win or lose, this whole thing will be over once and for all and I can resume my regularly scheduled evening schedule and bedtime. If you don't have a team, you are welcome to cheer on my Cubbies as they try to break the curse and win the World Series for the first time in over 100 years!

Win or lose, it's sure been fun to actually have a team march triumphantly through the playoffs and actually play in the World Series. And it's so fun we got the chance to take R to a game this year! (Check out a video of our trip to Chicago here!)

Go Cubs!
・ DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS