Baby Bum is a....

1.30.2017


A sweet baby BOY will be joining our family this summer! 

We had our ultrasound last Wednesday, and we were so thankful to see a healthy baby, growing right on track and moving all around. Just like with R, we found out the gender in the ultrasound room. I like doing that because then we get to enjoy seeing everything and not having to look away or worry that we'll accidentally find out. I also really like having a secret that just the two of us know! Also, let's be honest. I'm too cheap and lazy to put together a gender reveal party.

I was pretty sure it was going to be a girl, so I was shocked when the tech said, "Looks like you're having a boy." Jordan is super excited, and I am too! To be totally honest, part of me was hoping for a girl just because I thought having sisters close in age would be fun (although, hi, teenage drama), and also (and most importantly) I need to have another girl so I can put R's abandoned box of hair bows to use. Seriously.

But we truly are thrilled to be adding a boy to our clan! R has no idea what she's in for, and I don't really think we do either :)


p.s. See R's gender reveal post here.

How I Do Everything

1.27.2017

image via

The title of this post is supposed to be a joke, obviously. No one does everything, and if you think they do, you are very confused. It's easy to look at the perfectly decorated table and forget that we aren't seeing anything outside the square: like the messy floor and open cabinet drawers and piles of laundry.

I have in the past gotten a few questions about how I get things done as a full-time working mom. I leave in the morning at 7 and don't get home until 5, so I can't throw in a load of laundry at noon or start dinner during nap time or run errands in the middle of the day when the store isn't packed with crazed rush-hour shoppers. I'm not saying everyone can do that even if you don't work full time, but the point is: I have limited amount of time at home to get all the household things done, and it can be very tiring and overwhelming sometimes.

Also, because I'm away from R all day, I have a limited amount of time with her--only about 2 hours every evening. That's not nearly enough for me, in case you were wondering. Because I want to be intentional about the time I have with her and maximize it as much as possible, I really don't do any chores (other than some dishes and making dinner) until after she's asleep, which gives me even less time to get other things done.

I don't have it all figured out, and there are things I'm not good at, at all (ahem, cleaning the bathroom and dusting), so I'm not in any way trying to act like I have it all together. Read: I DO NOT HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. However, I thought it might be interesting and/or helpful to some of you, especially fellow working moms, if I shared a few insights into how I get things done on a daily basis.

Do things efficiently.

The best way to get things done for anyone, mom or not, is to not waste time. I decide I'm going to do a chore, and then I do it. Or, I decide I'm not going to do any chores and I'm going to make cookies or do a workout video (or both ha!). Whatever it is, just do it, as Nike says.

Sometimes I set a timer for myself: for example, eight minutes to pick up the living room, and at the end of the eight minutes I stop no matter what. I also don't waste time looking at social media until after the chore is done. I find that because I know I have a limited time to get things done, I've become a lot more efficient at time management as far as deciding what chores to do when and getting them done quickly.

Do things in shifts.

A lot of the time, I find myself doing the same chore over a period of time. For example, it doesn't work for me to wash and fold an entire load of laundry in the same day, so I usually wash (and dry) a couple of loads of laundry one day, and then I fold all the laundry the next day (or, let's be honest, a few days later). Or, sometimes I don't have time to unload the entire dishwasher at once, so one morning I'll unload the top before I leave for work, and when I get home I unload the bottom. I find myself doing random chores at random times when I can squeeze it in quickly, and somehow it all adds up!

Do a sweep at the end of the day.

This doesn't always happen (like last night, just being honest), but I like to run a quick sweep through the house before I head to the bedroom for the night and put away any random items, clean up a few things, and generally leave the house looking generally picked up for the next day. It just makes me feel better and makes it so things don't pile up on me.

Meal prep/plan.

I haven't seriously meal planned in a couple of months. I used to write out a weekly plan, but I have gotten away from that lately. It's mostly all in my head. But I try to plan out meals that will be the quickest/easiest to make on days when we have things in the evenings, and I try to prep the ingredients the night or a few nights before if I can. Like chopping veggies or thawing chicken or whatever. On the weekends I make healthy muffins for R and freeze them for quick grab-and-go breakfasts and snacks for her. I'm a tad obsessed with muffin making, but I swear it has helped me feel just a little bit on top of things. They are easy to make and they are a healthy way for her to get fruits and veggies, so it's a win-win.

Ask for help.

I have Jordan to help me, which I am so thankful for. I know not everyone has someone around they can easily ask for help, but just don't be afraid to find someone to ask if you need it. This is an area where I admittedly struggle. What I tend to do is do everything myself, refuse to ask Jordan for help, and then get overwhelmed and storm into the other room and get mad at him for not helping me. I'm trying to be better about asking him for help when I need it, and of course he helps me out when I ask!

At the end of the day, do what you can and don't sweat the mess.

My house is not going to be picked up all the time. My sink is not going to be empty. My counter is not going to be clean. My floor is not going to be vacuumed. This is just a fact, and learning to be okay with a little mess is a good thing. I try to do all the things that need doing (not all in the same day), but sometimes it doesn't always happen. 

Sometimes the laundry is so full I can barely lift it and the sink is full of dirty dishes, and I just go to bed because it will be there tomorrow. That can't always happen, of course, because eventually you need clean underwear and forks, but even so, choose to focus on the chores you were able to get done that day instead of the ones you weren't, and just do those tomorrow.

No one can do everything. When we choose to do one thing, we are choosing not to do something else. Because I have such limited time with R, I often choose to play with her over anything else, and that's time well spent in my opinion. But sometimes I do both and sit her in her highchair and talk to her while she's eating a snack and I'm unloading the dishwasher, and that works too.

Sometimes I choose to do laundry instead of read because the laundry needs to be done, and sometimes the laundry needs to be done and I choose reading instead anyway. I really have to be intentional about when I get things done and how quickly I get them done, but I also try to be intentional about listening to my own desires and sometimes not doing anything else but whatever it is I feel like doing in that moment. Having such limited time at home during the week to get household things done and spend quality time with Jordan and R is really, really hard. I know this phrase is often overused, but honestly I really do feel more often than not like there just are not enough hours in the day.

If I'm trying to teach myself anything, it's to not worry too much about making everything look perfect or getting all the things done and just do what I can with the time I have.


How do you "do everything"? What does "doing everything" meant to you?

Valentine's Day Art from Minted

1.25.2017

As you probably most likely definitely know by now, I love Minted! I get Christmas cards from them every year, and they have such a lovely collection of art prints perfect for any occasion, including for the nursery! We have a Minted print hanging in R's nursery that I love because it's personalized with her name.

Minted reached out to see if I was interested in choosing a print from their Valentine's day art, and of course I said yes. There were a lot of cute prints to choose from (heart eyes for this gorgeous flower print and what about having your wedding vows as a wall print LOVE). I'm also seriously drooling over these custom maps.

After much debate, this is the print I chose.
(Real life: there is a pile of clothes on the floor that I moved from the top of the dresser just to take this picture. Amen.)

I decided to do some rearranging of the photos we had above the dresser in our bedroom, and I love the way my new print fits in! One thing I love about Minted is the originality of their artwork. Along with my print, I received a certificate of authenticity telling me that my print is one of a limited edition of 350.

Shipping cutoff dates to receive your Valentine's day artwork by February 13 begins on February 1, but of course you can always buy Minted art prints any time of year!

*Affiliate links are used in this post. If you click on a link, I do receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.

i'm convinced teething is a curse of the fall

1.24.2017

I had a few friends whose children seemed to have no problem at all with teething.  Their kid went to bed with zero teeth and woke up with six! A miracle! They didn't cry at all!

Note that I said I had a few friends.
Those people are dead to me.

I will withhold names to protect the guilty, but let's just say that someone in our house who is usually a lovely, sweet, and smiley (albeit opinionated and somewhat sassy) little girl has taken over powers of the dark side and become a monster seemingly overnight. 

At first you think it's something she ate or maybe a cold she picked up at daycare. You go with it for a day or two, thinking surely it has to be over soon. 

You wish you were so lucky.

This someone (let's call her S) continues to be grumpy, cry all the time about nothing, and generally be unhappy morning, noon, and night no matter what you try. Out of desperation, you hold her down, pry her mouth open, shine a flashlight in there, and see the tiniest hint of white on her gum. Finally an explanation! You aren't going crazy after all! Yes, she is a monster, and at least there's a reason.

S has not handled teething well for any of her teeth so far, and honestly I can't blame her. I don't remember the feeling of a new tooth growing in, but I can't imagine it being very pleasant. So I try to be patient, but after a while I start to think that she is just never going to be nice to me ever again. Part of that is the sleep deprivation talking because she's waking up four times a night and it's really not so cute.

You can easily Google the approximate ages when each new tooth should be coming in, and for the most part she's been pretty much right on track. Right now she is working on her upper canines (typically erupt between 16 and 22 months!), and all I can say is that a teething toddler is so much worse than a teething baby. Like, they really aren't even on the same level of ridiculous insanity. I think this is due in large part to the fact that at this stage they are bigger and heavier and louder and just generally more in charge of their own movements.

S has decided that she hates all things, even food, which is really saying something about her state of mind. She wants water, so you give her water and she throws her cup on the floor. She wants her paci, so you give her the paci and she chucks it across the room. She wants food, so you give her food and she smashes it in her palm and drops it on the ground. She wants you to hold her, so you pick her up and she screams until you put her down. ALL DAY LONG EVERY DAY FOR A WEEK. 

This might sound like typical toddler behavior, but I swear she's not usually like this! And if she is, it's an isolated incident. Last night she actually smiled at me while playing with blocks, and I was nearly giddy with excitement because I was starting to be afraid she would never smile again. I have taken literally zero pictures of her for over a week because there has been nothing to document.

Actually I take that back. I did take one picture of her during breakfast last weekend because it was one of those classic "why my kid is crying" moments. I gave her two halves of a banana instead of one full banana. Big mistake. She yelled at me for a good two minutes while trying to put the two halves back together. (Mother-daughter bonding moment!)

Not one single day in the year that I have been working have I ever been excited to drop her off at daycare, and on Monday I said, "Bye, good luck" and practically ran out of there. Because seriously, good luck dealing with that crazy. Sure enough, when I picked her up they told me that she was cranky all day and tried to bite and push anyone who got within two feet of her. She's going to be sooooo popular.

As of this morning, her tooth seems to have erupted, so I can only hope the end is near (for this tooth, at least). Thirteen teeth down, seven to go, and by that time Baby Bum #2 will be here and we can start teething all over again!

When considering having a second (or third or fourth) baby, you really can't consider factors like teething or I don't think anyone would even have a first kid.

3 Quick-Start Budgeting Tips for 2017

1.23.2017


The start of a new year is always a good time for evaluating your finances and seeing if you want to make any changes or improvements for the coming year. Budgeting can be overwhelming if you've never done it before, and it can be hard to know where to start.

Jordan and I are by no means experts at budgeting and saving, but I like to think that we do a pretty good job managing our money as best we can. Recently someone on Facebook posted a general question asking what people recommend as their #1 budgeting/financial tip. It inspired this post, where I wanted to quickly share 3 things I would recommend doing for your finances in 2017. Whether or not you want to commit to tracking purchases and keeping up with a budget, these are simple things you can do to quick-start your budgeting for the new year.

1. Start keeping a monthly "blow money" allotment and stick to it.

I did a full post here about what blow money, so read that for more details. The basic idea is to limit your spending on personal "extras" such as clothing, jewelry, video games, and just anything you buy for yourself that is a want not a need, by setting a specific dollar amount for the month. This could be any amount from $20 all the way to $200 or more depending on your income, but the idea is to choose an amount that's higher than penny pinching but lower than "let's go buy all the things."

Having a blow money amount for the month will cause you to not make random purchases but really think about what you're buying. This is a great way to start budgeting in a small way and being more intentional about personal "want" purchases.

Again, for more about what blow money is, how to choose an amount, and how to decide if something falls into the blow money category, read this post.

2. Set up a Christmas savings account for the year and automatically add to it every month.

Do you ever find yourself getting to the end of the year and feeling stressed about paying for Christmas presents? If so, you could save yourself a lot of that stress by establishing a Christmas account at the beginning of the year. This same concept can apply to any occasion or event you know is coming up where you will need to spend a good amount of money.

Choose an amount that will work for your budget, and add that amount every single month to the account. The best part is, the amount doesn't have to be a lot! We add $25 every month to our Christmas account, and 12 months later we have $300 to spend on presents that has already been paid for. Now, I will tell you that we do spend more than $300 on presents (large family problems), but the majority of the cost is paid for by the money we put in all year. This is a great way to start getting in the habit of saving without having to use a large chunk of your income.

**This is also how we budget for travel: with a separate travel account that we put money into every month. You can read more about that in this post.

3. Going along with Tip #2, set up a separate savings account that is not your bank.

We have been using Capital One 360 since we got married (and I used it on my own before that), and I highly recommend looking into something like this. (Note: this is not sponsored. I'm just sharing with you what we do that works for us. That is a referral link, though, and I think we get $10 if you decide to open an account. If you do decide to open one, I'd appreciate you using this link!)

Capital One 360 is a savings account that will give you a slightly higher interest rate than you would get at a bank (not very high at all, but still, interest is interest). You can set up a number of accounts within your account, so for example we have a savings account for: Christmas, travel, Europe (separate from travel specifically for our trip to Europe! not soon, just at some point hopefully), my freelance editing, and our emergency fund.

We automatically set up a transfer at the beginning of every month for money to go into Christmas and travel. At the end of the month, any extra money is transferred to our emergency fund.  We aren't putting any money at all into Europe right now, but it's still sitting there getting us a few dollars a month in interest. 

We get interest paid to us every month, and the money is completely separate from our bank account but can be transferred back and forth if we need to make a withdrawal. Having an account like this is a great way to dip your toes into savings accounts without doing anything intimidating like investing in stocks or whatever. Again, you can get more information and sign up for an account here.

So those are just a few tips to quick-start your budgeting for 2017! These aren't new ideas at all, but they are things we have found to work well for us so far and I wanted to share.

You can check out all of my budgeting posts here, including why we recommend using credit cards (we love our Discover Card), how we budget for food, and a look at my budgeting binder.

Do you have any budgeting tips to add? 
What is your #1 tip to share for budgeting in 2017?

links + loves vol 5

1.20.2017


I don't know about you, but I am really happy it's Friday. I had Monday off, but is it just me or do those four-day work weeks seem to be the slowest? We are finishing up a big project at work and it's been really stressful for the past few weeks, so I'm excited for the weekend.

On the way home from the gym on Tuesday, I stopped at the grocery store to get a few things and also picked up these $5 tulips. They have really brightened up our table this week. Today I'm just going to share a few recent links and loves. I hope you all have a great weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday!

-I've never been a fan of the amount of sugar in pasta sauce that comes in a jar, and a few weeks ago I finally tried my hand at making my own sauce at home. I used this recipe for homemade crockpot marinara sauce, and it was great! I froze some in 1- and 2-cup portions and it thaws well for an easy spaghetti dinner. I think next time I'll try to mess with the seasoning a bit, but it's a great base to start with if you don't want to use pasta from a jar.

-We live in an age where our personal information is a lot more available than it used to be, and for the most part that doesn't bother me all that much (as long as I don't think about it too hard). But this freaked me out. I tried it for myself, and it's a real thing. Follow the instructions in the link to opt out if you want!

-I've started doing these workout videos a few times a week from BodyFit by Amy on YouTube. She's got some great prenatal strength and core workouts!

-I finished this book in one day last week. Recommend if you like murder mystery/thriller-type novels. The style reminded me of Girl on a Train, with the difference being that I did not like Girl on a Train and I liked this one. I just picked up Lauren Graham's new memoir, so I'm excited to get to that after I finish the book I'm currently reading.

-Last year I shared about this book. Highly recommend for anyone wanting to know about feeding a baby/toddler. Each chapter includes healthy recipes, and I have tried four or five recently and loved every single one! I think this book would be a great baby shower gift.

-Isn't this puzzle so fun? I want to get one for R. (Thanks, Amy, for sharing it!)

-I recently used some tips from this post to organize my freezer and it has changed my life. I'm not being dramatic.

-Yet another organizational hack from my "Be Organized" Pinterest board. I want to try this!

-I am obsessed with the gorgeous prints from this shop. I purchased her 2017 calendar, and it's sitting on my desk at work!

*For previous link love posts, click here. For link + love: the baby edition, click here.

How Pregnancy #2 Has Been Different (in a good way!)

1.18.2017


It's still so strange to be able to say things like "the first time I was pregnant..."

I found out I was pregnant when I was only 4 weeks along (technically 2 weeks pregnant, but they start counting 2 weeks before conception because science likes to be difficult). The first ten weeks or so crawled by at the speed of a dying turtle. But the past few weeks have started to pick up, and sometimes I have to remind myself that hey, there's a baby in there!

I kept a weekly pregnancy journal for my pregnancy with R, and it's been so fun to be able to compare my symptoms and general feelings from two years ago with this second pregnancy. So much of it is the same as far as how the first trimester went physically (which I why I'm currently thinking baby #2 is going to be a girl), but there are a few things in particular that already have been so different in a really good way for me emotionally.

1. I have been able to control my daily anxiety better this time.
Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time during my first pregnancy being anxious. Anxious of a miscarriage, of the baby not kicking, of the baby not kicking enough, of a birth defect, of early labor, and on and on. I got really worked up for my prenatal appointments and counted down the days until my next one. 

This time, I still feel anxiety. I don't know how that would ever completely go away. I still get anxious before my doctor's appointments. But I have really been focusing on not letting anxiety control me, and it's made a huge difference, so much so that Jordan has even noticed and commented on it. It's not that I'm not nervous about things being okay, but I've realized that nothing I do can control how my baby develops and what is going to happen. I am focusing on enjoying being pregnant, being excited to meet this new baby, and being thankful to have the opportunity to carry another human. It's made this pregnancy so much more fun! It's also just been nice to know what the heck is going on a little bit more than last time. I feel like less of a newbie with doctor visits and symptoms.

2. I know I can survive labor, so it's not quite as terrifying.
Don't get me wrong. Labor was absolutely the most painful thing that has ever happened to me, and I would be lying if I told you that I wasn't scared of doing it again. When I was giving birth to R, I asked my doctor multiple times if I was going to die. I laugh about it now, but in the moment I was completely serious. It was so painful that I really thought it might kill me. 

Jordan and I never ended up taking a birthing class before I had R due to a scheduling conflict, but mostly it was because the mere thought of labor terrified me to my very core, and I would start crying if I even talked about it. It was The Great Unknown, and I had no idea what to expect. I know that no labor is the same, and I still don't know what to expect this time around, but I do know a little bit more about what exactly the words "labor and delivery" mean, and I know that the pain will eventually be over and I will be okay. I am excited that this time the idea of labor will not be this dark cloud hanging over my head until June. My plan is to basically just block out the idea that I'm even going to have to do it until it happens. Wish me luck with that one.

3. I am prepared for a newborn.
I'm not necessarily saying that I'm prepared to be more tired than I've ever been in my life. Or that I'm prepared for the midnight feeding sessions and the crying and the impossibility of getting the baby to sleep somewhere not on my chest for just one nap please. I'm definitely not saying I'm prepared to have a newborn with a toddler running around. But I've brought home one baby and kept her alive for a while, so I feel more prepared in general for bringing home another one. 

With R, I literally asked my mom what babies sleep in because I didn't know. I didn't know what to do when she had a fever or how to help when she had gas. Over the last year and a half, I've learned a lot about taking care of a baby, and I'm thinking that when this second baby comes home, it won't be such a complete and utter what-on-earth-is-going-on kind of shock.

4. Similar to #3, Jordan and I are prepared for a newborn.
Adding a baby to our lives really rocked our marriage. We were both so tired and got so stressed out when it was 2am and R was crying and we didn't know what to do. We had to figure out our roles and what worked for us. I know that going from one kid to two is quite a leap, so I am by no means saying it's going to be easy, but I think that Jordan and I are going to be a lot more prepared to add another baby to our family now that we've done it once before, and hopefully we can be a better team this time.

5. I know I can survive taking my baby to daycare.
If you don't know this by now, I'm basically am emotional basket case. I cry a lot. When it came to thinking about taking R to daycare, I broke down in full-on sobs. I could barely think about it without crying. We are hoping to put baby #2 in the same daycare as R, and that eases a lot of stress already. I know the people there, we like it, R did well, and most of all: I know I can do it. I'm thinking this will allow me to enjoy my maternity leave more instead of sadly counting down the days until I have to start back at work like I'm on death row or something. I (hopefully) won't have to tour daycares and call around and get on waiting lists because we will already have something lined up that we know has been working for us.

6. I believe that somehow, everything will work out.
Before we had R, I said things like, "I don't know how we are going to afford to have a baby" because I honestly didn't feel like we had enough money to pay for all the things we were going to have to pay for (not only diapers and wipes but big things like insurance and actually paying for my delivery). With baby #2, I look back and wonder how I thought we wouldn't have enough money for a baby because now we really don't have enough money.

I do wonder how it will all work out, and it stresses me out to think about it. But I don't for a second wonder if it will all work out, because I know somehow it will. God has provided for us, and so far that hasn't looked like me being able to quit my job. It hasn't looked like raises or bonuses at work for either of us. It hasn't looked like random checks in the mail or an inheritance in a will from a long-lost relative. 

It hasn't looked like anything, really, except that we pay our bills and buy food and tithe and still have a little money leftover at the end of the month to put in savings. And isn't that really all we need anyway?

Of course I worry about a birth defect or an expensive NICU stay or labor complications. I worry about SIDs and developmental problems and proper weight gain. I worry that I'll have the same pumping issues I had the last time and not be able to have enough milk.

But I don't worry about how my life is going to change. I don't worry that I won't be a good mother. I don't worry that I won't be able to bond with my baby or that I won't love him or her. I was scared of that once, but I'm not anymore. And that's the biggest thing that is different this time.

Baby Bum #2, we already love you so much and can't wait to meet you.

*This post was based in part on one I wrote during my first pregnancy: The Fear

By the Numbers: 2016

1.16.2017



Happy MLK day for my US friends! I am so thankful to be off work today and you know what that means... I get to spend all day with R and I'm one happy mama.

This will be the fourth year that I've recapped my year in numbers. I try to record the same things each time, and it's so interesting to compare year to year! If you're interested, check out: By the Numbers: 2013 / By the Numbers: 2014 / By the Numbers 2015

< READING >

Total books read: 27
Fiction vs. Nonfiction - 20 fiction / 7 nonfiction
Source - all print copies (no ebooks or audio books)
Ratings
*5 stars
Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers
What Alice Forgot by Laine Moriarty

Prayer by Philip Yancy
The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn

*4 stars
Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
The Lake House by Kate Morton
This Is Your Brain on Sports by L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Secret Place by Tana French
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

City of Thieves by David Benioff
Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith 
Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

*3 stars
Popular by Maya Van Wagenen
Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Big Little Lies by Laine Moriarty
The Dark Ferret Society by Emily Humphreys
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Louise May Alcott by Susan Cheevers

*2 stars
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee

Book review roundup posts herehere, and here.


< SOCIAL MEDIA >

Blog posts written: 125
*A few favorites from 2016: 
How Not to Grow Your Blog
5 Things That Make Me Uncomfortable
nothing quite like it at all (a poem for R on Mother's Day)
Just Yesterday (written on the eve of R's first birthday)
We Still Do (about marriage)
Idols (written in November after the presidential election)

Blog posts tagged "working mom": 15

*A few favorites: Voices, Full, Thankful for Daycare: One Year Later

Tweets: 1,531 (about 300 less than 2015)
Instagram photos posted: 160 (just about half as many as 2015)

< RUNNING >

Races run: 2 (Red Bud 10k pushing R in the stroller! & half marathon #10
Miles logged: 250(ish) - about the same as 2015.

< TRAVEL >

US states visited: 4 - Texas, Virginia (part 1/ part 2), Illinois, Missouri 
(Virginia travel video here // Chicago travel video here)
Trips to Texas: 8 - same amount as both 2015 and 2014! Weird!
Plane flights: 11 - all with R, earliest at around 7 months old (*pats self on back)
Number of times our plane was delayed and it was the last flight of the day so we had to wait a day and take the first flight out the next morning: 2 (having to do that with a baby is super fun). First was coming home from Virginia. The second was coming home from Chicago.



< BUDGETING >

Total spent on clothes (for me out of my blow money): $340
Total spent on gas: $1,135 
Total spend on hair bows for R: I don't want to talk about it. (Related: my photo essay, The Demise of the Hair Bow)
Average monthly spent on groceries: $267
Average monthly savings: $510 (this is about half as much per month as we saved in 2015, sadly. But if we didn't have the cost of daycare we would have done pretty good! That $510 does not include the [small] percentage that goes automatically from my paycheck into my Roth account or the monthly amount we put in R's 529 account. We do what we can with what we have.)

< OTHER >

Birthday parties: 2
R turned 1 // My family surprised me for my 30th birthday
(Don't worry about Jordan. I threw him a surprise party for his 30th last year, and it was awesome.)

House projects: 

Mounted basket storage in the guest bathroom
Hung shelf in the master bathroom
Stained and painted shelf in the laundry room
Around the house: one-year update

Thank you so much for following along this year! On to 2017!

R: 17 Months

1.13.2017


I stopped writing monthly posts when R turned 12 months, but I wanted to pop in and write up a quick post about all the things she's doing now at 17 months because she is really starting to shine and I don't want to forget any of it.

-When prompted, she will give hugs and kisses to Jordan and I and to her grandparents and aunts/uncles. DEAD. Sweetest ever.

-Waves goodbye and will blow goodbye kisses when prompted.

-Can point to her eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, nose, hair, belly button, arms, legs, feet, fingers, and my sister-in-law taught her where her dimples are just this week.

-Signs "please, more, all done," and we are working on "thank you." When she wants something we have, she grunts and points emphatically. We say, "R, use your words to tell us what you want." Then we offer her words for the things she might be asking for. When we land on what she wants, we ask her to say please, and lately she's started signing please without being asked.

-Absolutely hates having her teeth brushed. Hates. 

-She can run fast and enjoys running up and down the hallway...and basically everywhere else.

-Loves loves her Praise Baby DVDs. When she knows we are going to put her DVD on, she smiles and then opens her mouth really big like "woah!" and claps.

-Dances to music by wobbling her head back and forth and grinning. 

-I wouldn't say she has a large vocabulary yet, but she has started saying some distinguishable words. Other than mama and dada, "dra" (draw/color) is probably the one we can understand the best. She loves to color and asks to do it a lot. R also loves her "nanas" (bananas) basically all day every day. She loves fruit just like her mama!

-She can point out all her aunts and uncles and grandparents by name when prompted.

-She's not a picky eater at all. There are really only a few things she doesn't seem to like: oranges, apples, plain ground beef or chicken (unless we put some kind of sauce on it). I keep waiting for her to get picky on me, but seriously she will eat basically anything.

-LOVES reading. She will bring you a book and swing it rather violently right at your head. (We are working on a softer approach.) She then turns around and backs up until she's right on top of you, and then she plops down in your lap and wiggles until she's perfectly situated. Depending on her mood, she will either sit through the entire book before bringing you another or she will sit through three pages before getting another book and reading another three pages. Her favorite books right now are: If You Give a Pig a Pancake, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Sherlock Holmes (the Little Master Conan Doyle series), I Love You Through and Through, Who Is Coming to Our House? and I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean


-Takes one nap every day. She goes down around noon and sleeps until 1:30 or 2:00. Occasionally she will go until 2:30. We rarely have a problem with her going down for a nap. She eats lunch around 11:30, and then after lunch we put her in her cotton sleep sack, give her a paci, and lay her in the crib with a blanket and her three stuffed animals. She's awake when we leave the room, but she usually goes to sleep on her own!


-For bedtime, she typically goes down well. Her bedtime is between 7-7:30 depending on how she's acting. She eats dinner around 6:00/6:15, and then at 7:00 we change her, put her in her pjs, and put her in the crib with a paci and her stuffed animals and a blanket. For the last month or so, she's been doing this hilarious thing where after we leave and shut the door, she will just stay awake in her crib playing and flipping the light switch off and on for 30-45 minutes. Sometimes she even falls asleep with the light still on! But she doesn't cry or anything. Typically she will cry if she's thrown the paci out the side of the crib and wants it back, but otherwise she goes to sleep well on her own and sleeps until we wake her up the next morning for work (or about 7:00 on the weekends). For the record, we really didn't do any kind of sleep training with her. I'm really hoping Baby Bum #2 is as good a sleeper as R is!

-We recently restricted the paci to naps and bedtime only, and she got the hang of it quickly! She initially gets mad when we take it away, but I think she's starting to understand that we take it in the morning, and she doesn't really seem to worry about it the rest of the day.

-She loves playing with the fridge magnets and the lids of the tupperware containers. She has a toy where she sorts colored blocks into a container by shape, and we have to help her point out the color, but she is really getting the hang of how the shapes work. She is also getting good at her Melissa & Doug fruit puzzle.

-This is the best one. We did not teach her this, so I have no idea how she learned it, but she can tell us when she's pooped! She comes up and pats her bottom, and 9 times out of 10 she's pooped. I say, "R, did you go poo poo?" And she pats her bottom again. So I say, "Let's go change your diaper," and she runs down the hall and right into her room and over to her changing table! It cracks me up. Maybe potty training is around the corner????

-She loves loves loves sitting at Jordan's desk in his lap. When I get home from work with her, she will run down the hall and pound on the back bedroom door saying, "Dada? Dada?" When she see him after work, her eyes get big and she laughs.


-She is very smart and picks up on things we do and copies us. She is not at all fooled by us "hiding" things in the pocket of our jackets, etc. She will go for it immediately and pull it out.

-When I pick her up at daycare, they are usually having gym time. I walk in and say, "R, mama's here!" She looks at me and gives me a huge grin and then races off in the opposite direction and I chase her. I usually play with her in the gym for 5-10 minutes before leaving daycare. We throw balls around and just play. I like not rushing out and just spent a minute or two watching her play with the other kids and getting a chance to talk to her teacher about how she did that day.

-R is very opinionated and definitely has a personality. She loves playing outside (always has since she was a baby!), going to the park, and going down the slides especially. 

She is such an absolute joy, and I just love every minute I get to spend with her! 


12 Months of Meals: A Practice in Generosity

1.11.2017



In January 2016, I set a goal to take a meal to one person or family every month for the entire year. I had never had someone bring a meal to me until after I had R in August 2015, and I realized how wonderful it was to know that someone was going to come to my house and drop off food for my family that I didn't have to prepare or clean up after. 

I was thinking about it and realized that people really only bring meals after a loss or a baby or a major surgery, but no one ever offers to bring a meal for no reason other than it just being a busy Thursday. But life can be busy and hard even without a major life event, and I thought about how nice it would be if someone would do something like that for me. So I decided to make it a goal to do that for 12 people last year.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to share about this on the blog, because I realize that writing about it can sound very self-serving and a "look at how nice I am" kind of thing. Please understand that is not at all the point. However, working on this goal throughout 2016 was really inspiring for me and opened my eyes to ways in which I can be more generous to the people around me in a small but meaningful way, and I wanted to share with you what I learned and how the process went in case you want to try something like this yourself this year!

Choosing Someone to Bring a Meal To


As I said before, the entire point of this was to bring a meal to someone outside of the usual reasons (loss, baby, surgery); however, two friends did have a baby last year and we brought them a meal, so I counted that toward my meal for the month. In all the other cases, Jordan and I talked specifically about who we thought might be most blessed by a meal that month. (Also note: I always got takeout of some kind. I never brought a homemade meal! I'm sure I could have gotten ambitious, but takeout seemed perfectly fine and would have been fine with me had the situation been reversed and someone was bringing me a meal.)


We did not plan out our 12 meals in advance but simply took it month by month. One month I brought a meal to some friends who had recently moved. Moving is stressful, and you don't always have all your pots and pans and dishes available, so we thought having someone drop off dinner would be helpful. Another month we brought a meal to some friends who had had a sick baby for a couple of days. One month I was so busy it skipped my mind to bring someone a meal, so on the last day of November I paid for the person in the drive-through behind me at Chick-fil-A. One month we brought dinner to a family we knew was just really busy that week.

Setting it Up 

Obviously it wouldn't work to just show up randomly with dinner. Who knows if they already had plans or would even be home?

Once we decided who we wanted to bring a meal to, I contacted them on a weekend either through text or a Facebook message (if it wasn't someone I was super close with) and said something like, "Jordan and I set a goal to bring a meal to someone every month this year. We wanted to bring a meal to you guys this week. What day would work best for you?" This seemed to work out well because once people knew that this was a personal goal we had set and they were they people we were choosing that month, they didn't feel as weird accepting our offer and didn't brush it off like "Oh that's nice but we're okay thanks." I wasn't asking if we could bring a meal over. I was telling them that I was going to bring a meal. 

And instead of setting an arbitrary date three weeks into the future, I asked them specifically what day next week worked best. Then I asked what food they would like and just to text or message me their order. That also worked well because it was an immediate contact and response, so neither of us would forget.

What I Learned

You wouldn't think making time to set up one meal a month would be hard, but it was actually a struggle sometimes to either remember to pick someone and contact them or find the time to actually get a meal and bring it over. It got easier as the year went on, and it was honestly so much fun to be able to bless people in this way. Picking up takeout and driving it over to someone's house did cost me some money and a little bit of time, but doing it once only made me want to do it again and again. Doing the 12 months of meals was an easy way to practice a spirit of generosity with our money. It helped me to remember that my money was given to me by God and it's not mine to hold onto. 

Doing this also helped us to be more aware of the needs of our friends and those around us. Because we were intentionally looking for someone who would be especially blessed by a random meal, we were more aware of just how busy and hectic people's lives are. Every time we would offer to bring a meal, it surprised me how much people have going on and how helpful a meal really would be. 

I picked up two take-and-bake pizzas for a couple friend of ours who have a 2-year-old. My friend works long shifts as a nurse in the ER, and the night I brought food over she had to stay especially late. She texted me later to thank me for bringing pizza and said how awesome it was to have dinner to just stick in the oven when she got home so she could spend that time before bed with her daughter. As a working mom myself, I was like I CAN RELATE AMEN SISTER. So you can imagine that made me happy.

Looking Forward to 2017

We have decided to continue our 12 months of meals in 2017. It really has blessed me to be able to serve others in this small way, and it has opened my eyes a bit to the needs of those around me in a way I wouldn't have if I hadn't been looking for it. This was mainly my idea, and I'm usually the one contacting people and setting up the meal dropoff, but Jordan is 100% on board, and I love that we talk together to decide who to give a meal to. It makes it feel like a service we are doing together as a couple. I like too that as R gets older she can be part of it. 

I really do hope that this post doesn't come across as just me waxing on about how generous we are. I'm just really excited about being able to complete our meal goal last year and wanted to share what I learned. And I thought that maybe this might inspire you to drop off a random meal with a friend this year! 

Try it. It's really fun :)
・ DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS