Hard Things and Smiles


Last week was a really, really hard week for all of us. Last Sunday R woke up from her nap sick. I stayed home with her on Monday and ended up taking her to the doctor Tuesday morning after two days of a fever that didn't get below 101 and general grouchiness and a total lack of appetite, which is highly unusual for my little girl who eats almost anything. She tested negative for strep, but the doctor suspected a case of hand, foot & mouth.

She was sick all week long and was only somewhat well enough (and not contagious) to go to daycare on Friday. She got sores in and around her mouth and refused to eat anything because it hurt too much. She continued to run a fever, be irritable, and had a very difficult time sleeping. She would wake up every 45 minutes to an hour screaming in pain, and there's no medicine for HFM except rotating Tylenol and Motrin every 4-6 hours until it goes away on its own.

One thing about being a working mom that I never thought about being challenging is what to do when your child is sick. In the interest of sharing more about the life of a working mom, here is some insight: Your child is sick. You've been up most of the night comforting her, stressing about her temperature, and trying to make sure she's comfortable. You got minimal sleep, yet you still have to get up and get dressed and go to an office and pretend to function as a professional. Or, you can use one of your limited sick/PTO days and stay at home. Let's say you do the latter, but then the next day your child is still sick. They can't go to daycare, so you either use another PTO day or scramble to find childcare.

Let's say you find childcare. You head to work feeling not only super tired but also incredibly sad and guilty that you just left your sick child, who just wants her mama, in the care of someone else. I honestly don't say this to be all "woe is me" but to say that it's hard being a working mom in ways some people don't even think about. I know I didn't ever think about it before I became a working mom, but it's a real struggle that we all face at some point!

Thankfully, my mother-in-law lives close and has a flexible job where she can switch her days off, so we tag-teamed watching R during the week when I had to be in the office and she had to be at work. I'm just thankful it didn't happen this week, because we have some VIPs in the office all week, and I really couldn't have taken off due to some meetings and the need to show up and actually look nice for once.

Friday and the three-day Memorial weekend could not have come sooner. We were all totally exhausted and running on empty, and on Saturday night I actually came down with something that is causing me to feel less than awesome (aka terrible). My throat is killing me, and I have chills off and on. At work yesterday I was pouring sweat for over an hour, meanwhile no one else thought it was hot. By the afternoon I was wearing a blanket. I am a mess. At this stage it's impossible to forget that I'm pregnant, but sometimes I forget that I'm super pregnant, like, could-have-the-baby-at-any-time-now pregnant. I probably just overdid it what with all the craziness that was going on with R, but prayers for good health appreciated!

I find myself wondering how we are ever going to manage both working full time and having two kids when one is sometimes too much! I know in my head that it will work out, but it's weeks like the one we just had that make me feel very overwhelmed and anxious about how it actually works out.
It was such a joy to see our sweet girl smiling and eating and playing over the weekend. She is still having a hard time sleeping at night (which means we are having a hard time getting sleep! send help), but she is acting so much more like herself and it makes me happy. 

She is full-on toddler sass and toddler funnies and it's hilarious and frustrating and basically my favorite ever. I know every parent says this about their child, but honestly she is so smart. She's learning more and more words, and I can tell she understands more of what we say every day.
It seems like last week was long and hard for a lot of people, so I hope that so far you are having a smooth week, maybe even enjoying the start to summer if you are a teacher or finishing up the last week or two of school. 

Depending on when Baby Bum comes, it's just a few more weeks left of work for me and then I have a summer off too! Of course, I know I'll be even more sleep-deprived than I felt last week, but I'm still excited to spend more time with R (and Baby Bum, of course!). Even if she is crazy and runs me ragged half the time, I will never as long as I live, get enough of her smiles.

Recent Reads vol 3.


5 stars
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson 
*giveaway for this book at the bottom of this post!

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review. To be honest, there weren’t a ton of books to choose from this time, and this seemed like the best option of what was available. I had no idea what to expect, except that it has a ton of great reviews on Goodreads.

Well, wow. This book was fantastic. So well written and extremely well edited (hard to find these days!), heartbreaking but also filled with hope. It is written by a lawyer who provides legal defense for criminals on death row, juveniles condemned to life in prison, and justice for those who have been wrongfully convicted and/or received unfair sentences. It definitely gave me a lot to think about and is so timely for this decade. I wish so much that we as citizens could put full trust in those who have sworn to protect us and those who work as part of the justice system, and I know that there are many who do their job well and I appreciate their sacrifice! It is not all bad or all good. The system is broken, and the stories shared in this book are real evidence of this sad fact. As the author states at the end of the book: there is still work to do.

Just Mercy would be a great way for someone to explore the criminal justice system and issues of race and poverty within the United States. Honestly, I wish everyone would read it! 

I am giving away my copy for free to anyone who would like to read this book. Just enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post, and I will choose a winner next week!

4.5 stars
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Those who have been reading my book reviews for a while are probably aware of my love for Erik Larson. To put it simply: he is one of my favorite writers of historical nonfiction. These books are based completely on a real event but read for the most part like fiction. His use of sources and his giant section of annotated notes show careful, detailed research that amazes me.

I found this book fascinating, tragic, and a book I stayed up way too late reading one night. If you are not a fan of history and want a book that is just about the actual sinking of the Lusitania, this might not be for you. Erik Larson builds backstory surrounding the world's history at the start of the 20th century; information about U-boats, the captains, and life on the submarines; and also introduces us to the characters who sail on the ship. The book has 4 parts, and the final part deal entirely with what happens after the sinking, including how the United States finally became involved in WWI. I learned a lot I didn't know about this period in history and found it all quite interesting!

4 stars
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

I’ll just say it: I read this because everyone else is reading it. I like to be a leader, but sometimes I’m a follower. Initially I found the story a bit hard to understand some of the science stuff, and you have to suspend disbelief and sort of just go with it, but this is definitely a page-turner. The style of short, choppy sentences makes the book move quickly. It has a really creative plot, and I liked all the characters. This is intense but not scary or too graphic, although there are a few short violent scenes and occasionally the F word. I liked the author's overall point about accepting the choices we've made and enjoying our lives for what they are. If you are worried this book will be scary like horror, don’t be! I can’t do horror or scary of any kind, but this was more of a thriller.

4 stars
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

This book follows two women from two time periods: 1911 and 2011. It was interesting and a nice change of pace to read historical fiction from a time period other than WWII, and I thought the author did a great job crafting the story and moving between time periods. The majority of the story takes place in the past.

2.5 stars
The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley

This story takes place in two different timelines (1943/44) and (1999/2000) and traces the connection between two families and their experiences during WWII. The first quarter of the book was slooooow and I considered quitting, but then it did pick up once we went back to the earlier time. In both timelines, there were characters and plot lines I really enjoyed and others I didn't.

The characters of both eras in many ways (intentionally by the author) mirrored each other, and I honestly found both main female characters extremely annoying. Also, without spoiling it, there was also a character I KNEW something was up with from the beginning and the main character just kept making excuses for his behavior and it was quite ridiculous and I was like come on already! I normally am bad at guessing things, but this was pretty obvious.

I ended up skimming near the end because I wanted to know what happened but also wanted to be finished with the book. I don't know if I'd straight up say don't read this, because I think it was an interesting story and was a pretty quick read, but it's also not one I'd highly recommend. It has good reviews on Goodreads, but I’ve read a lot of historical fiction from this time period, and this one didn’t do it for me.

Now for a giveaway! Enter to win a copy of Just Mercy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Preparing for Baby #2


*I suppose I should apologize for taking a leave of absence from the blog without announcing myself, lest you think I'm in labor. No, I am not in labor. But I am lacking motivation to blog regularly, and I've been filling any evening free time with other creative projects that I plan on blogging about if I ever get around to it! 

I posed a question to my blog’s Facebook page, asking what topics people would like to see me write about. A couple of people suggested I write about how we are preparing for Baby Bum 2.0, so I figured I’d sit down and see what I have to say about it. 

We So Classy


I was working on entering May receipts into our budgeting spreadsheet a few days ago when I ran across the receipt for our anniversary and realized that we ate at McDonald's for dinner on our anniversary. Let me repeat: our 6th anniversary dinner was from the McDonald's drive-through. We so classy.

Jordan got a strawberry-banana smoothie, I got a $.99 cheeseburger, and R got a 4-piece nugget Happy Meal with apple slices she refused to eat so I ate them instead. I think the last time I ate a cheeseburger from McDonald's was 1995, so I find it highly amusing that the dinner receipt for 5/14/17 was for $8.04 at McDonald's.

A few weeks ago, my mom sent a message to our family group text to ask if anyone was interested in going to see the Texas Rangers for on Mother's Day. I ruled it out almost immediately, but then I started thinking that maybe it would be fun to take one last trip to Texas before Baby Bum arrives. We drove down on Saturday afternoon and stayed with my parents Saturday night.

On Sunday morning we woke up and went to iHop for breakfast, which is something we've done every year since we got married. I have no idea how it started, but it's a fun little tradition. The service was slower than slow and Jordan's gravy was cold, but we had a good time and that's what counts.

We went back to my parents' house after breakfast and met up with my brothers and their wives and my sister to head to the 2pm baseball game.

It was only as we turned off the highway that I realized what Jordan had tried to warn me: 2:00 is prime toddler nap time and also prime Roast in the Blazing Inferno of the Texas Sun time. Sometimes I don't fully think things through, and this appeared to be one of those times. R passed out in her car seat five minutes before we parked at the game. Obviously.

For Mother's Day they were giving out Texas Ranger scarves (yes, in 95-degree weather), but by the time we got there they were all gone! One of the security guards raced up to me and said, "Wait here." He came back with a flower and said, "We don't have any more scarves, but I'd like you to have this flower." How nice was that?

Our seats were on the third-base side in the upper level directly in the sun. Ninety-five degrees in May. IN MAY, people! Luckily, the game wasn't sold out and there was a large section of seats way at the top that were unoccupied and in the shade. Jordan, R, and I relocated immediately, and the rest of my family followed soon after. I didn't want to inconvenience anyone and make it all about me, but let's be honest: I'm almost 35 weeks pregnant so it's kind of all about me. Our new seats were in the shade and there was a good breeze, so it wasn't too bad!

Considering that R completely skipped her nap, she actually did really well at the game. I fed her goldfish and granola bar and forced her to keep drinking water so she wouldn't get dehydrated. It wasn't as easy as at the Cubs game we went to in Chicago last July. During that game she fell asleep and I just held her for most of it. Clearly we are beyond that now.

We drove separately to the game instead of riding with my parents so that we could leave early and head straight home. We stayed until the end of the 7th inning, which was awesome because in the bottom of the 7th the Rangers scored 3 runs to put them ahead 5-4!

We got out of the stadium before the crazy traffic and hadn't even been driving ten minutes before R fell asleep. (Side note: I could hear her snoring, and toddler snores are way cute.) She woke up two hours later, and since we needed to stop for gas anyway we pulled off the highway to grab a quick dinner. I won't go into the whole thing because it's too annoying to talk about, but the first place we stopped to get dinner was a complete and utter fail of a disaster (hi, Arby's), so after wasting nearly a half hour we got back on the highway foodless.

I was able to keep R mostly happy with the rest of the goldfish, a package of fruit snacks, and half a granola bar all the while trying to tell myself I wasn't ruining her forever with this farce of a dinner. Finally we reached another exit and stopped at McDonald's, where we bought the aforementioned anniversary dinner for less than $10. I suppose this is real parenthood life, and if Jordan is honest he probably enjoyed this a lot more than last year's anniversary dinner, which cost a heck of a lot more and was probably more stressful. Also, I don't know if it's the pregnancy talking, but my cheeseburger wasn't terrible. Actually I kind of liked it. Don't judge me.

All in all it was a crazy but fun weekend celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary and Mother's Day. Our anniversary will fall on Mother's Day only every six years, so this was something special! I can't believe that the next time we drive to Texas, we will have TWO car seats in the back of my little Ford Focus!

for jordan.


Sunday is Mother’s Day, but do you know what else it is?

Our sixth wedding anniversary! They fall on the same day this year, and I think that's so fun!

When we first got married, six years sounded so old and felt like so long, but of course now I realize that six years is nothing compared to the decades we hope to be able to spend together.

I read a blog post a few weeks ago that was just so absolutely perfect and honestly I teared up a bit reading it. It was talking about motherhood and how hard it is but also how thankful she is for the dads. And she wrote this: “The truth is, even on a difficult day the load is lighter because he helps carry it."

So Jordan, thank you for lightening my load.

You're the crunch in my peanut butter.
The mint with my chocolate chip ice cream.
The icing on my cupcake.

I love you. Happy anniversary.

Why We Chose (and Like!) Traditional Daycare


^^^ A class project they did one day at daycare. All the blue footprints are R's!

Just say the word daycare and people are going to have opinions about it. When I was pregnant with R and we were considering childcare options, it was incredibly discouraging how easy it was to find articles where the author’s sole purpose was to go on and on about how terrible daycare is and how you are basically sending your child to Satan’s playground for eight hours a day to ruin them for the end of time. 

I honestly have to wonder if these people have ever actually sent their child to daycare at all or if they just want to find things to be negative about to make themselves feel better about their own situation.

And for sure, not all daycares are created equal. Some are not all that great, and as a parent you need to trust your instincts and find a place where you feel comfortable leaving your child during the work day. Thankfully, there are so many options for childcare these days! In-home nannies, home daycares, relatives, and of course a traditional daycare setting. 

Most of my working mom friends have their babies in a home daycare, and they are fantastic! I am not against home daycare, but for us, traditional daycare is what we felt would best work for our family. This post is not about stay-at-home moms, and it's not about making anyone feel bad for their choices concerning childcare. This post shares my personal experience with traditional daycare in an effort to encourage other working moms who are considering their childcare options to know that a daycare center doesn't have to be terrible and can actually be really great!

Framing Our Maternity Photos with Keepsake (+ Discount Code)


*I received the following product for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are mine.

I never do sponsored posts that aren't relevant to me or this blog, but I especially love when a product review or sponsored post opportunity comes up that is completely perfect for something I already needed or wanted. Keepsake reached out to see if I would be interested in reviewing their photo framing service, and as luck would have it, we had just had maternity photos taken, and I was looking to get one framed for our house!

Keepsake creates custom frames for your photos in a quick process that you can do either on your desktop computer or inside the free app straight from your phone. I used the app to make my frame, and it was super easy. The hardest part will be deciding what photo to frame! They have a range of size and color options at a variety of price points so you can get exactly what you want. The very best part is that all the frames are made in the United States.

All frames come fully sealed in the back with hanging hardware, so on Saturday when the UPS guy dropped it off, I literally unpacked my frame and hung it within five minutes.

You can use the code okie15 to get 15% off your purchase, and I'm seriously considering getting a second frame of a different maternity picture in a smaller size to add to the gallery wall above my desk. I should also mention that shipping is always free. If you are the type of person who takes tons of pictures but is bad about getting them actually framed and hung up in your home, Keepsake is definitely worth checking out!

Now I wanted to share a few more maternity pictures with you. We took maternity photos when I was pregnant with R, and I just love having professional photos of that special time. I knew that I wanted to get them done again with this baby, and as I've mentioned before, my blog-friend-turned-real-life-friend Beka was sweet enough to offer to drive to Oklahoma City and meet us for a photo shoot after work one day! 

I do want to say that R was crazy and would not be held, and I don't think she smiled once for any photo. But that's toddlers for you! It was also super windy, but we still got some shots that I really love. Here are a few. 

And just for fun.... Pinterest inspiration vs. real life.

Nailed it.

The Point of Everything


So, hi.

I have so many things to talk about and yet nothing I want to talk about. I reserved four books from the library and of course they all came in at the same time, so I have been plowing through books lately. It’s been nice.

I’m almost 33 weeks pregnant and just now starting to get regular comments about my bump from strangers. I was at the arts festival last week squatting down to look at a piece of pottery, and the artist leaned over and asked, “Do you do prenatal yoga?” Sometimes I forget that I’m even pregnant, so it took me a minute to connect to the point of such a random question. “What?” I said. She smiled. “You just move really well for having that big baby."

So that made me feel pretty good, even though, no, I haven't been doing much prenatal yoga or much of anything at all. I swore I would be more fit this pregnancy, but I'm really just too busy and tired to care about it. I took R on a walk two days ago and tried jogging for 3.8 seconds and got a side cramp almost immediately, so there's that.

Then there was the guy in line at the sno cone stand who looked down at my stomach, chuckled, and said, “Looks like you’ve already had four or five sno cones already.” To be honest, stuff like that doesn’t bother me. I’m not one of those pregnant women who get offended by someone implying that my stomach is big. I mean come on. Let’s not kid ourselves. It is big, and I just laugh right along with them. I'm too thankful for my healthy, growing baby to get insulted by anyone's comments, because they are just making conversation and not really trying to be rude anyway. This, of course, doesn't apply to Jordan, who isn't allowed to comment on my size unless he wants to see The Rage.

Beka sent me our maternity photos, and this is one of my favorites. My two Baby Bums. 

R was a squirmy little bean and basically refused to be held, but we finally got her to cooperate for this one by offering her a food pouch, which she is eating in the photo. Ha! Strategic cropping for the win.

I’m so excited for R to be a big sister. I think she’s going to do so great. And although I realize maternity leave is not a day at Disneyland, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to be off work this summer and spend some time just doing my mom role and not with the addition of work and deadlines and rush-hour commutes into the city. 

I finally talked to my boss a month or so ago and figured out exactly what my leave will look like. I got six weeks last time with R, and this time I am thrilled that they agreed to give me eight. Most of that will be unpaid but still totally worth it. I will also be able to work full time from home for a couple of additional months, which I am so thankful for. R was born on a Monday morning, and Jordan went back to work that Thursday. This time he is going to take a full week off, and I’m really excited for that too. All around I feel very blessed and thankful and excited going into this final month and a half of pregnancy.

I feel like I’ve been taking more photos of R lately but sharing less and less of them. As she gets older, I have been feeling that I don’t want to share too much publicly about her. I’m really happy with my decision not to type out her full name on the blog, although I’m sure many of you know what it is, which is fine. I’ve gotten in the habit of typing her initial in texts and emails too, even to my friends and family, which is kind of funny. I plan on doing the same for Baby Boy (yes, he does have a name)!

I guess what I’m saying in a roundabout way is that I’m just not sure what I want to write about right now, so that’s why it might be a little quiet on the blog. I was playing with R a couple of weeks ago, and she does this thing where sometimes she comes over and pats your face or your back, like she’s mimicking what we do to her sometimes. She put her hand on my cheek and looked right into my eyes and smiled, and I swear to you I’m not being dramatic. I actually had tears well up in my eyes as I thought about how much I love her.

And okay, spoiler alert: I’m about to say something that will make me look like a crazy religious nutso. But do you know what that makes me think of? It makes me think about how much God loves me. How much he loves YOU. Maybe you don’t believe that, but I do. I've been taking a lot of comfort in that lately, because life can be really wonderful but also really hard. There's so much uncertainty, and I have been stressing about some of that lately, but at least I have one constant.

I suppose that last paragraph is kind of unrelated to anything else I wrote in this post. But actually if you think about it, maybe it’s also kind of the point of everything.

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. 
The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.
― C.S. Lewis