Favorite Baby/Toddler Items 0-18 Months

2.26.2017


I have a few friends both in real life and the blog world who are pregnant with their first baby. I personally found it extremely overwhelming to think about registering and had no idea what to do, and I found it helpful to go back to old blog posts that I had saved where people shared their favorite registry picks. 

R recently turned 18 months, so I thought I would put together a list of some things we used the most consistently over the last year and a half. 

This list is by no means complete, nor am I claiming that these are must-haves or necessities. I am not an expert on babies, and everyone has their own opinion about what they want to spend their money on. However, I hope this list is helpful to those who just need some direction when it comes to the beginning stuff you might want for a new baby!

*This post is not sponsored, nor are there affiliate links because I seriously cannot figure out how to do that! 

You might also like these posts: 

For Eating

If I can recommend one thing, I would say get one or two of these silicone pocket bibs. I couldn't find the exact one we have to link to, but this will give you an idea. I wish I had known about these sooner! It's so easy to clean, plus food falls out of R's mouth into the bib instead of on the floor. It's just the best.

These are my favorite sippy cups for R that she has been using ever since she started switching off bottles. Dentists now are recommending that babies not use as many hard spout cups because it pushes their teeth out. These cups work more like a regular cup and have only two parts to them so they are very easy to clean!

At $35, I think this highchair is a steal. You can get all fancy about your highchair, but this one has worked great for us. Yes, you might think the green looks slightly annoying, but I don't notice it, and it comes apart to be its own table and toddler seat, which R uses for coloring. We also took the liner off so it's easy to wipe down after eating.

For Playing

R got this as a gift for her first birthday, and it's been so great! She is only recently getting more consistent about getting the shapes in the right places, but you can also just put all the blocks in the top hole without sorting them, so it's been a good toy for her to start learning with. She loves it!

I bought these stroller cards off a deal-a-day website and have no regrets. I hooked them to R's stroller, and she loves flipping through them when we are out on walks. If we are going for a long car ride, I give her the cards to look at too!

I've mentioned these multiple times on the blog, but I highly recommend. R loves them and dances to the music. It's really cute.

This mat (or a variation of it) is so great for little babies!

Believe it or not, we never had any kind of actual rock-and-play/swing thing for R, just this Baby Einstein rocker, which R still uses. Seriously just last week she turned on the vibrate setting, climbed into it with a book, and read out loud to herself. So yeah, I'd say we are still getting use out of it.

For Wearing

At $49 per pair, these are not cheap. I know this. However, I intentionally bought a size 3 because I read online that this was the size I could get the most use out of. R started wearing hers around 11 months and is currently still wearing them at over 18 months old! Until just a few months ago these were literally her only pair of shoes and she wore them every single day. They don't slide off, they don't make her feet stink, and she's never had any blisters on her feet or around her ankles. I like that her first few months of walking were with a soft-soled shoe. These have been worth the money, in my opinion. (Especially considering the fact that the $7 pair of shoes I bought her from Walmart busted open on the second wear. I think I can fix them, though, so don't worry!)

These were my absolute favorite bibs for R when she was in the epic drooling stage. They are so absorbent plus super cute and have two snaps in the back so you can adjust as they get bigger so they last longer! They are a bit pricey compared to some other bibs, but I tried a few different bibs with R and these held up under all the drool the best.

This 4-pack of swaddle blankets aren't necessarily cheap, but they have held up really well for the last year and a half. They are great for a light-weight blanket, a carseat covering, or a swaddle if you like (although we never did swaddle R). I also took one of these on all of our plane trips because they folded up small but are a good size when spread out on the floor! They work as a blanket in a pack-and-play also if you need in a pinch.

Not to be dramatic, but I think having a pacifier clip saved my life. When your baby uses a paci it goes everywhere with you, and it's basically impossible to keep it in their mouth and it rolls all over the ground and it's a disaster. R had a clip permanently attached to her for the first half of her life, seemed like. I linked to an Etsy shop that sells these adorable braided leather clips that I loved, but of course you can find cheaper versions at pretty much any store.

For the Nursery

We registered for just a basic changing pad, which sits on top of her dresser. This was a must-have for us since we use it approximately 85 times a day. I do not, however, recommend spending money on a changing pad cover. As soon as we washed, dried, and put a fresh one on, she peed all over the dang place or smeared poop on it or something and it had to be taken right off. We finally stopped putting a cover on it at all and that has worked out so much better.

We used this in R's crib for the first year instead of bumpers. I liked having something around the edge of the crib, but this wasn't thick and bulky.

This is the lotion we use with R, and it seems to work well for her, especially in the winter/fall when some eczema flares up.

This is that gross thing you think you won't use but then you end up using it all the time to suck the snot out of your baby's forever runny nose. You are welcome.

When R first started sitting in the bath on her own, she slipped and slid all over the place and it was stressful. I immediately bought this bath mat, and it's been perfect! 

So those are just a few things that came to mind when I thought about what she used and loved the most over the last 18 months. Obviously there are more things that we used a lot for different stages, but this is a pretty good list! Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments for things that you and your baby loved.

links + loves vol. 6

2.24.2017



Well, TGIF, my good people. This week was long and hard, both emotionally and physically. Emotionally because some friends are dealing with some hard things right now, and physically because I have been sick for a literal week. IT'S SO FUN. But I keep telling myself that it could be worse. I could be puking (knock on wood). I have an atrocious head cold (again, seriously I just did this last month!) and was running a fever for two days and have a constant headache and coughing and can't breathe out of my nose, and because I'm pregnant I can't take any of the good stuff. Not that I'm complaining about being pregnant; it's just that I need a dang decongestant already. Send Kleenex.

But anyway, like I said, I think puking would be worse, so I'm clinging to that bright side. I thought I'd share another round of links + loves for you today! May your weekend be less snotty than mine.

-Just a friendly (and non-sponsored) reminder about my favorite online deal site. I want one of everything, please. Just recently I had a shipping issue, and their customer service is amazing!

-Did you know that you can make a custom photo book from Shutterfly using their new design service? It's free to try and only $10 to use! Seriously worth it to finally get that book you've haven't had time to put together. See the book I made here.

-I know these hoodies are expensive, but man are they too cute or what? For a special occasion, maybe? Or a major splurge. Or just because the baby needs it. I won't judge.

-If you want to talk books, head on over to Torrie's blog. She's sharing some unpopular book opinions. I love these types of posts!

-Can we talk about how random this video is? I love it and I'm also amazed. This must have taken forever to put together!

-Newborn babies are cuddly and sweet, but to be quite honest, I actually did not enjoy the tiny stage very much and can definitely relate to this article.

-Consider supporting Mercy House through either their Fair Trade Friday program or by donating $21 per month to support a graduate of Rehema House. My sister-in-law's sister works for them, so I can tell you it's legit. Such a wonderful cause!

-So I saw this on Christina's blog and I just don't even know what to think. A burger meal delivery service?!? Anything really is possible.

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

How I Learned to Love Running

2.21.2017


I used to write a lot about running on this blog, but I've sort of stopped blogging so much about it. I haven't been doing as many (or any) races, for one thing, but also running is just kind of a part of my life now so I don't feel the need to talk about it very much because there's not really anything new to say.

Last weekend I went out for a run and pushed R in the stroller. I ran just over 3 miles at around 12-min/mile pace, and as I was walking the last block home, I started thinking about my running journey and how getting out for a run wasn't always something I voluntarily chose to do. Two of my coworkers are doing the Couch to 5k Program, and one of them said they could never imagine just going out for 3 easy miles like I do. 

But the truth is, it didn't start out that way. For a long time running was something I had to talk myself into. I went because I was training for a half marathon, and although I always liked the feeling of accomplishment once a run was over, I hated running while I was doing it and I never ever thought, I want to go running today.

So what changed? 

I don't know whether this is a weird thing to know or not, but I can tell you exactly when running became for me something I legitimately loved to do rather than just something I did. I ran in college some, but I don't consider my running journey officially started until April 2010, when I signed up for my first half marathon that coming October. I had to give myself a pep talk to get out the door every single time I went running, and I mostly felt like death during every single run. It was terrible.

It wasn't until 3 years later, in January 2013, when I started my first-ever marathon training schedule for the April 2013 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, that I fell in love with running. It became something I looked forward to, something I wanted to do, something I missed when I didn't do it for a couple of days. Somewhere along the way, I settled into those long training runs and really started to love the actual run itself and not just the "runner's high" I got when I was done. (I blogged my weekly marathon training here if you're interested!)

I ran the 2013 marathon, and I have been in love with running ever since. That's why I have to be honest: while pushing a 25-pound toddler in a jogging stroller for 3 miles at 21 weeks pregnant certainly sounds impressive to a lot of people, I don't necessarily feel like it's all that impressive. Of course I'm proud of myself for continuing to run in this stage, but running is something I enjoy doing, something I love, so I guess I don't consider it impressive. But it wasn't always like that, and it took 3 years of consistent running and a marathon training schedule to find my love for this hobby.

Now, I'm definitely not saying you have to run a marathon to fall in love with running. Running a marathon isn't for everyone. I'm just saying that that's where it happened for me. If you are just starting out and wondering how anyone can love running, I would tell you to just keep going. Maybe you haven't run enough miles yet to discover your hidden love for it!

I have an entire "Running" tab at the top of this blog if you want to read more posts about running, including links to all of my race recaps. One of my favorite things I've done on the blog is my "How to Start Running Series," I linked to Part 1, so check that out if you are new to running!

And even if you aren't a runner, you might enjoy: 10 Reasons Running a Marathon is Like Having a Baby

Do you run? Do you love it yes or no? If yes, do you remember when you really fell in love with running?

When You Don't Know What to Say

2.19.2017


Last week, a dear friend of mine received some very sad news that she had lost the sweet baby she was carrying. It is her story, not mine, so that's all I am going to say about it specifically, but for me personally, it's been hard. This comes a few days after reading Steph's post about losing her baby; Rachel blogged about losing her baby this past fall, and Cassie shared about hers last summer.

Those, of course, aren't the only ones. With statistics like these, I'm sure we all have known someone who has had a miscarriage. This is hard for me for obvious reasons being that I am currently 22 weeks pregnant but also because I am just so incredibly sad for my friend.

This post is not about how to comfort a friend after miscarriage, because I don’t really know how to do that yet. This post is about what to do when you don't know what to say. Because I understand even more now why it's hard. Everything sounds trite and cliche. You want to be sensitive and not accidentally say something hurtful, but you also don't want to say nothing.

And I just really don't want to say nothing.

I had written a few posts for this week already, but I just can't move on with normal content yet. I've gone back and forth about it, but it just doesn't feel right. I know everyone handles grief differently, so each situation, each person, is unique, and what one person finds comforting might not be so for someone else. But I thought about what I would say even when I don't know what to say, and I decided to share it here.

I by no means am any kind of expert at comforting a friend going through something like this, and I freely admit that I don't always know the right thing to say. In fact, a lot of times I say the entirely wrong thing. But I hope this is a comfort in some small way to my friends, both those close and dear to me and those I only know online.

* * *

Dear friend,

I’m heartbroken over your loss, and I’m so terribly sorry.

I don’t know whether you told a lot of people about this baby yet or only a few, but no matter how many knew about this tiny life, I want you to know that this baby was very much loved and very much wanted.

You didn’t get to officially meet this baby, and I know that you wanted to so badly. But that in no way makes this baby any less real or this loss any less significant.

I want to give you space but also hold you close. However this process of grief looks for you, that is the right way, and I will do my best to support you in whatever way you need.

I'm here if you want to talk and I'm also here if you don't. Know that I'm going to check in on you, but don't feel pressure to respond to my calls and texts unless you want to.

And if you want to talk, I’m here too. I promise to try not to say any of those unhelpful things people sometimes say when they are trying to be comforting after a loss, and I want you to promise to tell me if I accidentally say or do something hurtful.

I want you to know that God is very much saddened by your loss. (If you need proof, look no further than Jesus grieving the loss of his friend Lazarus. It is the shortest verse in the Bible: John 11:35, "Jesus wept.") I always find it a comforting thought that God is never surprised, and nothing has ever happened or will ever happen that God doesn’t already know about. But that doesn't stop me from wondering why certain things happen. 

Because honestly, I hate this.

God is faithful, and he is good; but sometimes he doesn’t seem good at all, and it's okay to be sad and it's okay to be angry. Those feelings are normal, and God is not offended by them.

I am praying for you, dear friend. Praying for peace, for healing, and for your marriage as you walk this journey together.

Most of all, I don’t want you to feel alone. I can imagine it might feel like you are very much alone right now, but we all loved this baby, and we all love you very much. I know you won't forget about this baby, and please know that I won't either.

I'm here for you.
I love you.

Love,
Your Friend

*I thought about turning the comments off, but I think it would be good to allow response. Whether or not you have experienced a loss of this kind or been the friend trying to comfort, please feel free to share your story. I think it's important that those going through something like this know they are not alone, and I personally would like more dialogue in general about how specifically a friend can be a comfort during this time. Thanks for reading.

Recent Reads

2.17.2017


I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - 4 stars
A 5-year-old boy is killed in a hit-and-run. This book follows two plot lines: the investigation to find the driver of the car and the mother whose life is changed after that fateful night.

I thought the first half of this book was a bit slow and I wondered how the author was going to make an entire book out of the plot, but I kept reading because I liked the story and the characters. (Liked being a relative term, of course, given the subject at hand.) The second half of the book picks up a lot and I couldn't put it down after that. There are some swear words and a few sex scenes, but it was not gratuitous (in my opinion). I would recommend this if you like a murder mystery with a good twist! However, know that there are some hard scenes (the story is about a 5-year-old boy being killed, after all, and another difficult subject matter that I can't say because it would give some of the plot away).

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - 4 stars
A journalist on a cruise ship swears she is the witness to a murder when she thinks she sees a body being thrown overboard during the night, but a search of the boat reveals that there are no missing passengers.

I read this book in basically a single day. It was a quick read with an interesting plot, and I definitely did not guess the ending at all (but I never guess endings so that's not saying much). I was worried initially that this book would be too similar to The Girl on the Train (which I really didn't like), but I actually didn't mind this narrator for the most part and found this book a quick, fun read!


Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham - 3.5 stars

Lauren Graham, aka Lorelai Gilmore, shares stories from her childhood, her career in acting, and a journal she kept while filming Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.


I enjoyed this lighthearted read, especially coming after two murder mysteries. Lauren Graham is a good writer, and I enjoyed little bits she shared about working in Hollywood and on the GG set. To me it did feel like if you read this book in a few years, it would be outdated. So much of it comes across like Graham is sitting across the table having coffee with you or something, which is fine for the most part but was a bit overdone in some places (so many parenthetical remarks!). That style seems to be popular for celebrity memoirs right now, and it's just not my personal favorite, but it worked pretty well in this one.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith - 3 stars

A well-known novelist goes missing, and his wife calls in Detective Cormoran Strike to find him. As Strike investigates, it becomes clear there is much more to the disappearance than anyone thought.


I didn't like this book as much as I liked the first book in the Cormoran Strike series (The Cuckoo's Calling), but it was still a very creative and well-written murder mystery. My main reason for not liking this quite as much was because the murder itself was a bit gruesome and grossed me out. However thankfully it isn't a huge part of the book, so I sort of skimmed over it. Like the first book in this series, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, so that got confusing in some places. I honestly most enjoyed following more of the personal lives of the detective and his assistant.



The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott - 3 stars

Louisa May Alcott's first novel, written when she was seventeen years old.


The plot is basic and predictable, the characters are pretty one dimensional, but the writing is just lovely and flows well. The style reminded me of Jane Austen more than that of Alcott's Little Women, but I can see themes and characters she used in her later classic. Since I love Louisa May Alcott, I enjoyed this one. It is a quick read!

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca - 2.5 stars

Historical nonfiction telling the story of Grace Humiston, one of the first female detectives in New York in the early 1900s. She worked on many cases after the police had given up, one being the case of a missing girl, 18-year-old Ruth Cruger, who disappeared on Valentine's day 1917.

Overall this book disappointed me; however, I found the story itself very interesting, and there were parts that I really got into, so it wasn't a total bust enough for me to quit reading before the end. I just don't think it was organized or written as well as it could have been. It was annoying that the author sometimes focused on very minute details that he obviously came across during his research (example: describing multiple items on a minor character's desk). I was very impressed by the author's clear attention to detail and research, but in the end I really can't recommend this book. Check out Erik Larson's books if you want really good historical nonfiction!

What's been your favorite read so far this year? I need to know what to add to my list! 

Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?

Easily Create a Photo Book with Shutterfly's New Make My Book Service!

2.16.2017


Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by Shutterfly, but the opinions, photos, and content are entirely my own.
You probably all know by now that I am a huge fan of making personalized photo albums. I started in middle school making scrapbooks with my grandma, and I haven't stopped since. I have a photo album for college, one for our wedding, and I made a photo/journal during my pregnancy with R. And you might remember my Project Life book that I made in 2015.

But another thing I love is making photo books with online services like Shutterfly. I've made  few vacation books, and last year I shared photos of the week-by-week book I made for R's first three months using Shutterfly, and I plan to make one for Baby Boy Bum also! All that to say, I think making photo books is so much fun, and that's why I am very (like, really a lot) excited to share Shutterfly's new "Make My Book" service with you.
I tend to be a perfectionist and take a bajillion years to put my photo books together. I want every picture just so, and while I love the end result and think all my time was worth it, the process of actually making a photo book on the computer makes my head hurt.

From the moment I heard about the Make My Book service, I knew exactly what I wanted to make a book about: R's first birthday party. I have been wanting to make an album dedicated just to that event, and I haven't yet taken the time to do it. As R gets older, I've noticed that she enjoys looking at photos and videos of herself, and it's really cute how interested she is in looking through this book. She loved looking at the photo of all the family members and pointing everyone out. She's getting good at recognizing her aunts and uncles!
Anyone can use this service, but this is especially great for people who don't have the time (ahem, me) or knowledge to make a book on their own. Being someone who has made a lot of photo books, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but I was very pleased with how my book turned out and how easy it was to make.

You can upload your photos (up to 800!) on the Shutterfly website and send it off after answering some basic questions about your design and layout preferences. It goes to a designer at Shutterfly, who puts your book together using the photos you sent in just a few days. At that point you can order as is or make any edits or adjustments you want by adding text, photos, etc.

The best thing is that it's free to try! You only pay a small design fee of $9.99 if you actually order your book, but if you decide you don't want the book after all, you don't pay anything.
Normally I would spend an entire weekend or more making a photo book, but with the Make My Book service, I honestly spent about 10 minutes uploading my photos and submitting my project, and then another 10 minutes previewing the book and making a few minor adjustments. So awesome!

I encourage you to check out this new Make My Book service from Shutterfly for that photo book you've been wanting to make but haven't had time for. I don't think you will be disappointed!

Happy book making, friends!

If you were going to make a photo book, what would it be about?

Valentine's Love Story in 10 Questions

2.14.2017



1. When you met: January 2009
2. How did you meet? At church. I was new to Oklahoma and visiting churches on my own. I went to one of the young adult Sunday school class and Jordan was sitting on one of the couches. I thought he was the cutest boy I'd ever seen. (Seriously I told my friends that!)
3. First date: I don't remember the actual date, but it was July 2009. We went to Chili's because I had a gift card. I'm serious! I was even cheap back then.
4. Date you got engaged: December 26, 2010
5. Marriage anniversary: May 14, 2011 (only a 4.5 months engagement and it was perfect, in my opinion)
6. What is "your song"? We don't technically have "a song," but our first dance at our wedding was to "I Love Your Love the Most" by Eric Church, so we kind of consider that our song.
7. Do you remember the first movie you saw together? Julie & Julia
8. First road trip together? We drove to Chicago together for Christmas 2010. I invited him to come with my family, and he proposed to me in Chicago the day after Christmas.

9. Who was interested first? I think we were kind of both interested in each other, but we hung out as friends for a while before we started dating. I thought he was too cute to date. True story. Although I'm following that confusion up with a picture of his MUTTON CHOPS from a few years back, so I guess the joke's on me.

10. Who said I love you first? He did. He will absolutely kill me if I tell the story, so I'll just leave it at that. Jordan is the first and only person I've said "I love you" to!

Feel free to answer these questions in the comments or write your own blog post! I got the idea from a quiz I saw on Facebook and adapted the questions to my liking. Happy Valentine's Day!

p.s. Our Engagement Story // Proposal Story Part 1 / Part 2

that time I went on a road trip with Lebron James and other random happenings

2.13.2017

^^^ I will have you know that she was the first one to stick her tongue out. The selfie game is strong with this one.

Today's post is a collection of random funny/interesting things that have happened recently.

With R, I don’t specifically remember a time when I started crying about random things, for example, a TV commercial or whatever. But a month or so ago, I was sitting on the floor with R reading The Little Engine that Could, and when I got to the end when the engine is saying, “I think I can I think I can,” I legit teared up and could barely finish reading. It was the strangest thing but, you guys, he thought he could and he DID. Why has no one made a Hollywood movie about this inspirational gem?

My pregnancy dreams haven’t been too intense so far, but I did have a week or so when I consistently remembered my dreams and they were all insane. I didn’t write any down, which I now regret, but I do remember one: I was on a road trip with LeBron James from Oklahoma to France. We drove and it took us three days. LeBron kindly drove the whole way. We came around the side of a mountain, and I immediately saw Big Ben (which in my dream meant that I was in France, don’t think too hard about it). I rolled down the window and shouted, “I’m a tourist! This is my first time in France!” People turned to point and stare, and then I woke up. In case you’re interested, LeBron was a lovely traveling companion.

On Friday some of my coworkers went to Sam’s to get a bunch of office supplies (and most importantly, three giant bags of chocolate for the candy bowl in our kitchen). I was carrying two boxes of trash bags when our receptionist ran over shouting, “Amanda, don’t lift anything! Don’t lift anything!” I thought maybe I should remind her that R is 25 pounds and I lift her like 100 times a day. Do you want to know the secret to amazingly toned arms? Just find yourself a toddler, preferably one you know or things could get weird/illegal.

Our mornings are usually pretty rushed because I’ve started sleeping in until 6:30. (I’m so lazy, ha!) I have a lot of stuff to get together for both R and myself, and Jordan is getting himself together and helping me too, and we seem to always do that thing where we are in each other’s way and bumping into each other all over the house. I was leaning over the crib to get R out, and he leaned down to kiss her, and right then I turned and he head butted me on the bridge of my nose where my glasses were and knocked me to the ground! Rude. Also a few weeks ago, R accidentally (so I assume) wacked me in the nose with the remote control and I instantly started crying. She must have hit a nerve because I was sobbing and it didn’t even really hurt that bad. Embarrassing.

My work is walking distance to the downtown library, and during my lunch break I like to walk down there if it’s nice out and return books or get some new ones. Downtown OKC is really nice, and they’ve done a lot in the last few years to fix it up, but there are still homeless people and just randoms walking around that I try to avoid. Picture me: with my boots and sweater and coat on, holding a few books and talking on my cell phone (to my mom). And a guy stops to ask me if I have a cigarette. I’m not saying you should judge based on appearance, but actually do I look like someone who would have a cigarette? Hopefully no.

A friend and I went to Panera for dinner two weekends ago, and sitting across from us we noticed a dad and his daughter. He was wearing a tie, and she was in a fancy dress, so they were obviously on a father-daughter date of some kind. I felt like I was watching a scene from a movie, and I took a creeper picture and texted it to Jordan and told him that would be him with R some day. It was seriously the sweetest thing and I just got all emotional thinking about R and Jordan dressing up and going on a date like that. The cutest!

Speaking of Jordan, major shoutout to my main squeeze. He passed his electrician's exam last week to get his unlimited journeyman's license! I was so, so proud of him that he passed on the first try and got one of the highest scores that lady working the desk said she'd seen. He has a difficult job that I respect so much and doesn't always get a lot of credit. (I mean could you wire an entire house?) The test was 105 questions, 4 hours long, pass or fail only, and he got a 92! I am a proud wife.

People keep asking me if I've had any pregnancy cravings. Similar to when I was pregnant with R, I really can't point to anything specifically and say that is a craving, because it's stuff like ice cream and Mexican food and chocolate chip cookies. Do those really count as a craving related to being pregnant? BUT. On Friday night, I put R down for bed and then was in the kitchen heating up my leftovers for dinner when I suddenly realized that if I wasn't able to eat some fruit right now I was going to freak out. I love fruit normally, so this isn't weird in itself, but the level of need I felt for strawberries and grapes and oranges was a bit insane. I was already in my pjs but I changed clothes and drove to the store at 8:30 at night. So, I guess I just had my first real pregnancy craving and it was for $50 worth of fruit.

I hope you all have a great week and a lovely Valentine's day tomorrow! I am excited about my teacher and kid gifts that I made for R's daycare this year.

p.s. Speaking of Valentine's Day, head over to Michelle's blog! She writes an annual post of hilarious Valentine's that I think you'll enjoy.

How to Support Working Moms

2.08.2017

image via Death to the Stock Photo
“As a stay-at-home mom, how can I support working moms?”

This was a question that was asked on the blog survey I did last year, and it is really thoughtful that someone would ask this. It's easy to feel so alone as a working mom. A few weeks ago I was feeling really sad about being at work and missing R, and I looked on Instagram (first mistake) and literally saw four pictures in a row of SAHMs snuggling their babies or playing with their kids. Cue me texting Jordan six sad crying faces.

The topic of being a working mom or a stay-at-home mom can be a very touchy thing, so I’ve gone back and forth about how to word this post so it doesn’t come across as offensive or whiny or anything like that.


I should say first that I know that my experience will not be everyone’s experience. 

Some people don’t struggle with working, so they might not even feel like they need support at all. (Although I would say that’s not true because we all need support!) But I will say that for me, working full time outside the home and being a mom is very challenging, and I personally don’t feel like there are many people writing or talking about it.

Not to imply that mine is the only voice or even that everything I say applies across the board for all working moms. Certainly it doesn’t, and I know that. But hopefully those of you reading who are working moms can relate to some of what I write and feel not so alone in the daily rush of our various roles inside and outside the home. And I hope this post in particular will offer some insight into ways those of you who are not working moms can support and validate the struggles of those of us who are.

1. Remember that working moms make sacrifices too.

I’ve seen and heard this sentiment expressed before, and I personally find it incredibly hurtful. It’s the idea that stay-at-home moms have made so many sacrifices to quit their jobs and live off one income, and if working moms just made a few of those sacrifices too, we could stay at home if we really wanted to. It is true that some moms choose to work because they want to not because they necessarily need to, and that's completely fine and great! But it is not true for everyone.

I know that living off one income is a huge sacrifice, but just because my family has two incomes does not mean we are not making sacrifices too. There are a lot of articles and blog posts out there about “how we cut our budget to afford for me to stay at home” and believe me: I’ve read them, and so far I haven’t found a single one that tells me something I’m not already doing. We don't have cable, we don't buy expensive things, we rarely eat out. I’m making financial sacrifices too, including paying the expensive cost of daycare. And I’m also making the sacrifice of time with my child, which is for me the hardest sacrifice of them all. To assume or imply that I could stay home with my kids if I tried harder to make financial sacrifices is really just rude and insensitive. All moms, working or not, are making the best decision they can for themselves and their families, and it's not for anyone else to say.

2. Be a friend.

When someone is listing out the benefits of being a working mom, they almost always talk about how nice it is to have “adult conversations.” Usually this is in contrast to a SAHM mom, whose daily interactions are primarily happening with toddlers/young children. And yes, it is nice to get out of the house and talk to other adults, but sometimes I feel like people act like I’m just sitting around having coffee with friends or something. I do like my coworkers, and there are a few I would consider work friends, but for the most part we are all talking about work stuff. I’m not going on walks with my besties, laughing and crying together while we share our fears and struggles. I still need friends I can talk to on the phone or text or go to dinner with or meet for coffee. 

When you stay at home, you can schedule playdates and meet at the park and go to the zoo or whatever else, and you can see friends. Now, obviously I’m not saying that you have time for a long, quiet heart-to-heart, and I know these playdates don't happen every day, but what I’m saying is that working moms need community too. 

Yes, we are out of the house and in the community at work, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still need friend time. I pull out of my garage in the morning when it’s dark, and I pull into my garage in the evening when it’s dark. Between those hours I’ve been at work thinking about work and doing work (and thinking about R, let's be honest). My work conversations with adults are not fulfilling my need for relationships, and it’s easy to feel left out of all the mom events and playdates and library reading times that get planned during the work week.

A few weeks ago after R was in bed, I drove over to a friend's house and we sat on her couch and ate ice cream and talked for an hour, and then I went home. It was so nice to sit with a friend and talk, and it didn't require paying to eat out or getting out of my sweats. I also have a few friends that I text with throughout the week, and that has been a blessing to me (you know who you are!). I don't want someone to assume that just because I work full time I am too busy to also have friends.

3. Validate my particular challenge of being a working mom.

So this one is kind of a personal “trigger,” for lack of a better word. It’s when I share with someone that being a working mom is hard for me, and they respond with: “Yes, motherhood in general is hard whether you work or stay at home.” 

Now, of course this is 100% true. Motherhood is hard no matter what. But what I’m talking about specifically in this moment is how hard it is to be a working mom. I’m not saying being a SAHM isn’t hard too, and I’m not saying motherhood isn’t hard, but when I’m sharing something and my struggle is brushed aside and blanketed with “well motherhood is just hard,” that makes me upset.

What would be more helpful is if the reply was more along the lines of, “I’m sure that must be really hard. I’m sorry. What in particular are you finding the most challenging right now?”

It’s like if a SAHM said to me, “Being a SAHM is hard,” and I said, “Motherhood is really hard.” I'm not saying anything that's untrue, but I’m also not really listening to them if I reply like that. What I should try to do instead is ask questions, listen, and validate their personal experience even if it’s not something I can totally understand. Because if I'm being really honest here, sometimes I do wonder what is so hard about being a SAHM compared to what I do as a full-time working mom. I see people posting about staying in their pjs all day, baking cookies with their toddler and watching movies and playing at the park in the middle of the afternoon. And it's easy for me to feel jealous, but I don't think that cutting all SAHMs out of my life is the answer. Talking to someone and trying to understand their own struggles and supporting them in that as a friend is better than getting all bitter and angry, as much as I just love feeling bitter and angry. It's good for your skin. I think I read that somewhere.

Thinking about all of this has opened my eyes personally to try and be more intentional about validating what someone is telling me and really trying to listen, whether that’s to do with motherhood, career, dating, marriage, etc. We all are going through different things, and sometimes those things need their own space to be recognized for the specific struggles they are.

Some people don't struggle with being a working mom, some do. Some don't struggle with staying at home, some do. Same for working from home or working part time. Each is completely valid, and no one has the perfect life. We all need space to share and find support and be understood, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. This is not something I've mastered, but it's something I'm trying to work on.

Do you have anything follow-up questions for me? Shoot me an email or leave a comment.

If you’re a working mom, do you agree with what I wrote? What would you add? If you’re a SAHM, what can working moms do to support you?

20-week Baby Boy Bum(p) Update

2.06.2017


I figured I'd kick it old school today and share a weekly pregnancy update since I'm halfway done with this thing! Obviously I haven't been doing weekly updates on the blog, but I have been taking weekly pictures and writing in my journal. It's fun to compare this pregnancy with R's.

Weight gain: We don't own a scale, so I am not exactly sure where I started, but I am saying 133. I don't have an up-to-date number, but as of my doctor's appointment two weeks ago, I was up to 144, so somewhere around 10-12 pounds total gained, which I think is right on track.

Symptoms: To be honest, I have been feeling awesome since around 14 weeks. No real complaints here! I'm waking up once a night or so to go to the bathroom, but otherwise I feel fantastic. Over the past few weeks I've noticed some stomach issues after eating dinner where I need to lie down because it feels like it's cramping (like gas or something), but it goes away after a bit. I also have a really hard time sitting all day at my desk. I know if you stay at home with a toddler you're probably thinking, I'd love to sit all day. You don't know how lucky you are. But it's actually quite tiring and hard on my butt to sit at a desk all day, so I've been trying to walk during lunch and also take stretch breaks twice a day. I set a timer for 5 minutes and do some back and arm stretching, some squats, and a few other things. It has really seemed to help.

Cravings: I really can't count this as a pregnancy craving because it just sounds good most of the time, but I seriously could eat Mexican every single day. For basically this entire pregnancy so far, nothing I ever make for dinner sounds good and I just want to get Mexican, but I've been a good girl and not gone crazy eating out!

Movement: Yes! I started feeling kicks around 18 weeks, which of course is super fun. They felt like little pops inside my belly. I don't feel movement every day, and I haven't been able to feel anything from the outside yet, but Jordan is excited to feel the baby hopefully soon.

Sleep: Sleeping great! I really don't have a problem falling asleep or staying asleep, and even when I wake up to go to the bathroom at 2am, I am asleep almost before my head settles fully into my pillow. I'm also taking epic naps during my lunch hour. There's a little couch under the stairs that I lie down on with a blanket and pillow and pass out for about a half hour. It's glorious.

Clothing: I have a few new maternity shirts, and I'm also reusing everything from my pregnancy with R, which if you remember wasn't very much. I basically rotated the same 2 shirts and 2 maxi skirts for my entire pregnancy. I'm also still working some non-maternity shirts and sweaters that are long and fit great! I haven't bought any maternity pants yet. The magical green pants are still doing their thing, and I have a few jeans that are a bigger size that I can wear just fine with the rubber band trick and a longer shirt.

Preparations for new baby: Nothing going so far as far as a nursery is concerned. This baby and R are going to share a room for a while, so all we really need to do is "boy" R's room up a bit with some more gender-neutral curtains and a few wall hangings. We also need to get R a toddler bed at some point because we hope to transition her before the baby comes so we don't have to buy another crib. I went to a consignment store over the weekend and picked up some pants, onesies, and shirts for baby boy. I also went through all of R's baby clothes and pulled out anything that will work for a boy. There wasn't much, but I found a few things! I know it's cliche to say, but I seriously cannot believe that R was every small enough to fit into the tiny clothes! So small!

Excited for: Those baby kicks to get stronger and Jordan to feel him from the outside! Also excited for my next appointment in 3 weeks. Love hearing that little heartbeat and knowing everything is okay in there.

Just for fun, here's a bump comparison. After popping out much sooner this time, I feel like I am maybe slowing down and catching up to where I was last time. I'm also having a boy not a girl, so maybe I'll carry differently. Who knows! Bodies are so weird.
Oh, and ignore my crazy hair, please. I'd just been out for a walk. On Saturday morning R insisted I take her for a walk. She stood by her stroller shouting at me until I put her in it, and then she started putting the straps on herself and trying to buckle it. So even though it was 40 degrees outside (that's cold for Oklahoma, y'all), we bundled up and she seemed to enjoy herself.

I hope you all have a great Monday!
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