A Snapshot of Summer

7.18.2018

The problem with not blogging as often as I used to is that I get backed up on events and photos to edit and share about. And that's less annoying for you than it is for me, truly, because I actually do enjoy editing a few of the hundreds of pictures I take and making sure some of them see the light of day. Because there are so.many.pictures.

Does anyone else get overwhelmed with pictures? I find a daily struggle with trying to enjoy the moment without feeling the need to capture it while also wanting to capture it because it's so cute and hello I can't rely on my memory to hold everything in. I am 32 now, after all ;)

R is turning 3 in just about 3 weeks, and I am finally at a stage in my parenting journey where holidays and events are fun. Like, actual fun not just "let's take our 9-month-old baby to this thing they don't care about at all and pretend like they will actually remember whether or not they had a good time." 

I don't mean that to say you shouldn't take your 9-month-old baby to stuff. But what I'm saying is, whenever I see someone post on Facebook about what they should get their infant for Christmas, I want to say WHATEVER YOU WANT BECAUSE THEY DON'T CARE. I wouldn't shout, of course. But you get the idea.

Anyway, my actual point here is that R has been totally aware of and into the recent holidays and it's been awesome. Seeing life through a child's eyes and all of that. On Valentine's day, Jordan took her to the store to get groceries, and she helped him pick out some flowers for me. They came home, and she raced in holding red roses, shouted "Happy Valentine's Day!" and threw them at me. Half the flowers lost all their petals, and Jordan and I laughed about it all night.
This summer has been so fun because she is excited about everything. During the first of June, I took her to swimming lessons at our community pool. I bought her a coverup to wear, and she's been obsessed with it all summer so far. We also had such a better experience than last year. Last year was a struggle to get through the entire half-hour lesson without her waving her arms and widely signing "all done" through tears. This year she asked every day, "Are we going to swimming lessons today?" and then talked all about how she was learning to kick and blow bubbles and practiced wearing a life jacket. I didn't think she'd enjoy it that much or I would have signed her up for a second session.

I don't have a ton of days off this year because our trip to Europe this fall is taking most of them (such a rough life, I know), but I did take off a half day on J's birthday. I left R at daycare and picked him up at lunch so we could spend the afternoon together. And I know what you're thinking. I just ranted about how infants don't care about things like this, but that afternoon was 100% not for him. It was for me. We went home and I held him for a nap because I don't get to usually. When he woke up we went out on the back porch to play in the kiddie pool before going back to daycare to get R early and head home to cook dinner. It wasn't fancy, but it was special for me and I'm thankful I was able to do it.

My great-aunt and uncle live in Oklahoma City and have the best backyard I've ever seen. Last weekend we went over there to swim on Sunday afternoon. It's been so hot here lately, but that afternoon was one I didn't want to end. The wind chimes sounded like a musical, the pool was the perfect temperature, and there were popsicles and homemade banana nut cake. It was one of those days where you're just thankful to be alive, and you don't even care if that sounds cliche or not.

At this point I've given up thinking I'm ever going to write a separate blog post about my cousin's wedding we went to in June, so I'll just share some pictures. I found J an adorable pair of jeans and suspenders from H&M off someone on Kidizen, and R and J had a matching bowtie/pigtail combo. Of course, I couldn't get them to sit still for a picture together, but I've (sort of) made my peace with the fact that getting an almost 3-year-old and a 1-year-old to sit still for a picture just isn't going to happen.

There weren't a ton of small kids at the wedding, and it's not an exaggeration to say that R put on quite a show. She was dancing to the beat of her own music while the adults got drinks and took pictures, and I got a few comments like, "Well she certainly isn't shy..." My girl loves to sing and dance! We didn't plan on staying until the end, but we ended up waving the bride and groom off with glowsticks around 10:30. J was a trooper but couldn't hang and eventually passed out around 9:45. My grandma held him while we danced and chased R around and took silly pictures in the photo booth.
The next day we played all afternoon at my aunt's pool and left for home around 5:00. We were worried the timing would be terrible for the kids, arriving home in time to put them to bed again, but they were so tired from our weekend festivities that they both fell asleep within 5 minutes of being in the car, slept the entire 3 hours back to Oklahoma, transferred from the carseat to bed, and slept all night until 7 the next morning!
A couple of weekends ago, Jordan and I went to another wedding, this time for friends of ours. Jordan was a groomsman, and I wore my new StitchFix dress that randomly matched his tie perfectly. For so long I was a little skeptical of StitchFix, and while I still think it can be a bit pricy, it is really fun to do every few months. Glad I kept the dress!
Between all of that, J of course turned 1 and had his birthday party and we also celebrated my brother's birthday in Texas at a fun waterpark. Then were was 4th of July, which R was SUPER excited about. Girlfriend could not get enough of the fireworks or of waving her mini American flag. Maybe I'll post some pictures of that soon!

Basically even though I'm working, it's been such a fantastic summer for us so far, and I feel so blessed and so thankful for it all.

Dare to Serve

7.14.2018


Just popping in quickly to share a special prayer request for this coming week and also unique ministry to support. This is not at all sponsored or anything else (although I do have a family connection, as you will see).

My dad operates a nonprofit in Dallas/Fort Worth area called Dare to Serve where he works with kids at local high schools, doing Bible studies and various service projects. He has given Bibles to kids who have never had one before, visited students in jail, and had some really neat opportunities to share the Gospel with people who had never heard it before.

This coming week, he and my mom are taking four high schoolers to a local church camp. My mom said they visited the houses of each kid recently and spoke with their parents to get final forms signed, etc. The kids are from low-income areas and are SO excited to attend this camp. (My parents had to do personal background checks and everything that goes into this kind of trip, just to be clear!)

The camp costs $240 per kid, but Dare to Serve is only charging them $25 and paying for the rest. Anything you donate (tax deductible) will go directly to paying for their camp fees this week. Even $10 will help because my parents will be buying these canteen bracelets for each student to use during the week, and they are $10 each! So don't think that a little won't mean a lot to these students.

You can find out more information and donate online here. Many of these families don't know Jesus, and this is a great opportunity for the kids to go learn. Please consider supporting this ministry, and you can especially be in prayer for the students and my parents this week.

Also, if you don't already have a charity for the Amazon Smile program, consider using Dare to Serve, especially when you are shopping for Prime Day! This would be an easy way to donate without it costing you anything extra while you make purchases!

Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments. Thanks for reading! I don't feel led to make religion the focus of this blog, but my relationship with Jesus is vitally important in my life, and I am always open for questions if you would like to know more about that :)

Recent Reads

7.13.2018


What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami // 5 stars

This is a memoir, so to speak, specifically on the topic of the author's relationship with running. If you don't like running, you will definitely not like this book. I, however, loved it. I must have just been in the right mood, because I devoured this one and found it so interesting and inspiring. Being a writer and a runner, I could relate to so much of this and found it a quick, very enjoyable read. I read it start to finish  in about 2 hours while sitting in an airport.

For fans of: running marathons, being inspired to run every single day while knowing that's not actually going to happen
Should you read it? If you are a runner, yes.

32!

7.10.2018

Today is my birthday! I'm 32 and definitely settled into my 30s now... I hate to say that 32 sounded SO OLD to me at one point, but it's really not, I promise! ;)

I had J right before I turned 31 last year and spent my birthday on maternity leave at home with my babies. This year I have to work, which I avoid if I possibly can so I won't lie and tell you I'm not super bummed to spend my birthday this way. But I'm going to pick the kids up and take them to lunch with me, and then in the evening we will eat dinner and have cupcakes and sing happy birthday as a family, and really that's all I need out of life.

I love my crew and feel so blessed to spend my birthday with them! 
It's also exactly one month until R turns three! I can't even. Someone hold me. Also, please note that when I want R to take a nice photo she gives me the worst cheese face, but when we are taking a funny photo she hits us with a perfect smile. Toddlers are evil geniuses, I tell you.

Comments turned off. I'm just going to assume you are wishing me a happy birthday ;)

Toddler Toys & Activities for Road Trips (other than an iPad!)

7.07.2018


A few months ago I mentioned the idea of putting together a post of road trip activities and toys to keep toddlers entertained in the car, and I'm finally getting around to it! As most of you know by now, we travel 3 hours one way to Texas to visit my family every 6 weeks or so, sometimes more often when there's a special event. There have been a few times I've gone two weekends in a row! Although that is not my favorite because it makes for a hectic work week in between. 

Both R and J went to Texas for the first time around 6 weeks old and have been regular travelers up and down I-35 ever since. We also drove with R to Chicago when she was 11 months old, which is a 13-hour trip one way!

Waterpark Weekend in Texas

7.02.2018

I wrote last week about how summer as a working mom can be kind of a guilt trip in not being able to do all the fun summer things with the kids and not having much different about our daily routine. But we didn't let that stop us from packing our weekends full of social functions with two weddings, J's first birthday party, and two trips down to Texas! It wasn't necessarily by choice that we have 5 completely full weekends in a row, and it certainly made for a hectic start to the work/daycare week when we still had to fit in grocery shopping, laundry, and a half-hearted attempt at cleaning up after ourselves. But we had a lot of fun family time, and that is always one of my favorite things!
Two weekends ago we celebrated my brother's 30th birthday at a waterpark lake place. I honestly don't even know what to call it, but it was super neat and definitely something I would recommend if you live in the area! R had so.much.fun and didn't want to leave. That girl is fearless in the water and when it comes to going down slides and walking on her own. They had a lot of kid-friendly areas to stand and play and kid-sized slides also! I wish I would have gotten more pictures of R playing in the water, but we were having too much fun! I even jumped off the high dive, which I haven't done in many years, and R watched and cheered "Yay, Mama!" for me :)

12-Minute Memoir: Summer as a Working Mom

6.27.2018

Summer is officially in full swing, and in Oklahoma that means 90+ temps and lots of sweating. Also my air conditioning went out in my car yesterday. It’s the most wonderful time of year! 

I wanted to write a shoutout post for my fellow working moms, specifically those of us who work “traditional” hours and aren’t teachers. This post is for you, friend. I can offer nothing more than solidarity and a hug across the computer screen.


* * *
I’ve never cared that much about not having the summer off until I had kids, and I’m going to be honest: it’s taking a lot of mental effort on my part to not get majorly bummed out when I see people posting about all the fun times they are having with their kids at the pool and the zoo and the splash pads. First-world problems? YES. But nevertheless it's the truth.

J's 1st Birthday Party

6.21.2018

In the eight years I've been blogging, I don't think I've been as bad of a blog writer (or reader!) as I have been for the past month. The end of May and June so far have been absolutely nuts and so full of friends and family, and I love it.

Over the weekend we hosted family for J's first birthday party! So far I haven't gone huge on either of R's birthday parties, and we didn't for J either. Just family and no themes. Maybe I will get more into themed parties once the kids start actually caring about things, but for now I've stuck with just a color theme, which has worked really well. Although I love seeing themed parties other people do!

I wouldn't exactly say J's birthday snuck up on me... maybe more that I was in denial. We set a party date back in April, and I had invitations printed out from Shutterfly and mailed a long time ago, but that was as far as I got until a week before the party. R's first birthday was pink & gold, and for J's I went with blue as the "theme" to center my crafting around. 

Happy Birthday, J

6.18.2018


For the last few weeks everyone as been asking me, "How you do you feel about J turning one?" For some reason it's been absolutely impossible to put into words. It feels like surely it can't have been a YEAR since he joined our family. And yet here we are, and he's more toddler than baby.

Everyone--literally everyone--who sees him comments on how smiley and sweet he is. He's super chill (unless you're taking too long bringing him food), and still so so snuggly and loves me the most (it's the truth!). 

I am beyond grateful and thankful he's here and that we are his parents. It's just such a joy.

Happy birthday, sweet J! We love you! More 1st birthday party pics and stories to come soon(ish) :)

p.s. If you've never read it, J's birth story: part 1 / part 2

Stitch Fix #3

6.11.2018

Last week I received my third Stitch Fix box, and it was another great one! All the pieces were completely my style, although I ended up only keeping two things. I am so far 3 for 3 with great boxes! I also appreciated the prices of the items. Everything minus the maxi dress at the bottom was $38 or under!

Just a reminder you can try out your first box for free using my referral code. You will only pay for any clothes you keep, and you can cancel after that if you don't like it!

I'm going to show you what I got, but first a disclaimer. I took these pictures quickly in the morning before I got kids up. It's dark in our bedroom, and R colored with crayon all over the bottom of my mirror. Fashion blogger, I am not. I also need to clean more. 

Now, then. Here's what I got in my box!

Seaside Mix Material Knit Top // August Mist

May 2018 in Photos and Short Stories

6.04.2018

First things first. It has come to my attention that blogger comments are acting up, and I missed email notifications from most of the comments on my previous post! If you commented and I never responded, I wasn't ignoring you. I'm actually glad to have a legitimate reason for noticing a drop in comments and wondering if everyone banded together and decided to abandon the blog. Turns out it's not me, it's blogger.

That said, I would understand if you did decide to jump ship, seeing as how I can't get my act together lately to write a post. But it's not for lack of things going on. In fact, I'm having the opposite problem and have too many things. This is only the beginning. From two weekends ago through the end of June, we have something scheduled every weekend, and to top it off, the next two weeks I'm taking R to swim lessons at the community pool in the evenings after I get off work. AND I picked now to try and start waking up early to hit the gym for a workout and shower before getting the kids up for our morning rush to daycare/work.

So basically what I'm saying is it was nice knowing you, goodbye.

Also, due to the fact that I keep adding things to the kitchen wall calendar, if you happen to stop by the house, please don't judge the Amazon jungle that has become my front landscaping. Somehow weeding is on a constant rotation to the back of my list every single day and never gets done. It's straight up thick grass and dandelions at this point, and I'm contemplating just setting fire to the entire area if it weren't already 100 degrees outside and consequently a major fire hazard.

Before my list of things to recap on the blog gets any longer, I thought I would do a quick run-down of events/happenings for you! If for nothing else than to get some of these photos to see the light of day and so I can remember what May 2018 looked like for us.

That's Life: Motherhood Edition

5.23.2018


I’ve been having so much fun with the kids lately. R is absolutely hilarious and has us laughing out loud on a daily basis with the things she says and does. I have an ongoing section in the notes on my iPhone where I write down the funny things she says. Hopefully at some point I'll get around to physically writing them down in her scrapbook.

J is the most adorable chunk, and I cannot stop kissing his squishy cheeks. Sometimes R will run over and shout right in his face, “J, YOU ARE SO CHUNKY” and then start pinching his cheeks together, which is cute but also always ends in someone crying, which is not so cute.

Decorating the Front Porch

5.21.2018

*I received a free product from Commercial Silk in exchange for a review. All opinions are mine. This post contains affiliate links.

Hi, my name is Amanda, and I am a plant killer. 

I have the blackest of black thumbs and have killed three succulents and counting. I thought succulents were supposed to be able to survive in the middle of the desert through a nuclear explosion, but whatever.

When CommercialSilk.com reached out to me and offered the chance to review one of their silk (aka artificial) plants in exchange for a blog post, I said heck to the yes. The only decision was what to get and where to put it. I decided to see if I could find something for our front porch and landed on this ficus.

One thing I love about our house is the front porch. When I take the kids on walks around the neighborhood, I always look at the front porches, and ours is larger than the majority of our neighbors. We have a large bush along the side that provides some privacy, and we have a big picture window in front. The window was original to the house 30+ years ago, and last January we put in a brand-new window. I absolutely love how bright it makes our front room, plus we could totally tell a different this past winter in how much better insulated it was than the old one!

But back to the porch. I love being outside as much as possible, and both R and J love being outside too. Since we bought our house 3 years ago, I've been slowly trying to make both our front porch and backyard areas nice, inviting places where we would want to spend time in the evenings after work and on the weekends. I am by no means a designer and will never have a Pinterest-perfect space, but I am loving the small additions I've made to our front recently! Now to get on fixing up the jungle that is our landscaping.... (Seriously, I need massive help in this area. I'm kind of ashamed of how it looks right now.)


Last year I bought a wooden bench from Wayfair, and I found a $10 table at Target on clearance that I put next to it. My new ficus tree fits perfectly on it! You can of course find outdoor pillows anywhere. The blue one was 50% off at Hobby Lobby, and I have two others that I bought last year at Lowe's.

My recent love is our navy and white outdoor rug from Wayfair. If you haven't shopped at Wayfair yet, you should! And today is a great day to do it, because they are having a big sale up to 70% off lots of items for summer. (This post is not at all sponsored by Wayfair, but I would be all over that if they contacted me! I love them. Their shipping are customer service are amazing!) I can't find a direct link to my exact rug, but they have hundreds of rugs to choose from at great prices. It's already been so nice to sit on outside on the floor with J and not feel the cold concrete! (Although now that he's more mobile he doesn't seem to care about that.)
I don't know if I will keep the ficus in the front forever, but for right now I think it livens up the space a bit. My next project is the front door itself. I'm considering painting it! It's just plain white right now, and I think it would be fun to choose something else.

Jordan is currently in the middle of a big project in the back: rebuilding our deck. The wood was old and splintered, and I never wanted R running around out there. I'm hoping he can finish it up by the time we have J's first birthday party!
(The white bench is a Craigslist find. And funny story, when I bought it, I didn't pay attention to the dimensions. We drove Jordan's truck to pick it up expecting a large bench and were confused when the guy pulled this out of their garage. We were like, um, we could have driven the Ford Focus. lol)

If you are considering artificial plants, check out commercial silk. The shipping was fast, and the tree looks really nice. Also, I can't kill this one! I will say that the first time my tree arrived in the mail, the base was all cracked and broken, but they were nice and sent me a new one, and it came just fine! I'm thankful for blogging providing me opportunities to try out things I normally wouldn't, and I am loving the addition to our front porch. 

I think the kids are too, although at the time of taking these pictures, there was a slight mishap with J wanting to steal R's cup of pretzels. She sat the rest of the time with her hand high above her head so he couldn't grab them. Ah, sibling love ;)

If you have any fun front or back porch ideas, please share!

Lucky #7

5.14.2018


“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. 

There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. 

Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. 

If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. 

Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. 

Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. 

They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. 

They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. 

‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

-C.S. Lewis

Trusting Your Gut as a Mom and Protecting Your Baby's

5.12.2018

This post is sponsored by Evivo, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

There is a ton of stuff to learn about babies and motherhood, and when you're preparing to have your first child, the whole thing can be pretty overwhelming. At least, it sure was to me. 

One thing that sticks out to me in particular throughout the last almost three years of motherhood is how random babies are. They start doing this or doing that and you don't know what on earth is going on. Are they teething? Do they have the flu? Stomach bug? Do they have an ear infection? Are they just messing with me for the fun of it? Who knows???? And then just when you think you've figured it out, they switch things up on you and do something else!

It can be intimidating, frustrating, and sometimes scary when you don't know what's going on with your child, but as I've grown as a mom and learned more and more about my babies as they get older, I've found that I really can trust my mom gut a lot of the time, which is such a nice feeling!
Unfortunately, we can't totally avoid our babies getting sick, especially for my kids since they are in full-time daycare. They are constantly exposed to viruses and other things that they wouldn't necessarily be if I stayed at home. (Although I tell myself they are getting it all out of the way by being exposed when they are young!)

One thing I've been super happy to discover over the last couple of months is the Evivo daily probiotic. This is something I learned about near the end of last year, and we have personally purchased Evivo for J and been using it daily for the last few months.
Evivo is a once-daily powder you mix with a small amount of breastmilk. It's the only infant probiotic that repopulates the gut with good bacteria by transforming special carbohydrates found in breastmilk to promote the growth of the B. infantis bacteria.
Bad bacteria in a baby's gut is linked to a higher risk of autoimmune and metabolic issues like colic, eczema, allergies, diabetes, and obesity later in life.  When more good bacteria is present, it creates a protective wall and crowds out the bad bacteria. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 babies today are experiencing a disruption in their gut, which causes more bad bacteria to thrive.

I personally love the science behind Evivo, and I can tell you that J has been sick his first year of daycare much less than R was. I seriously felt like I was taking her to the doctor all the time! Whether or not Evivo is the difference, it sure makes me feel better to be able to give him something like this that will hopefully start him off on the right foot. Your baby can take Evivo as long as they are consuming breastmilk! (Which means we will be stopping once he's a year old next month because Mama ain't got no more milk. A blog post for another time, perhaps.)
The FAQ page on their website answers some great questions if you're interested in learning more. It also mentions seeing if your insurance will reimburse you for it! We all want the best for our babies, and you don't want to mess around with gut health! My mama gut says so ;)

Want to try out Evivo for yourself? Here are a few coupon codes!
Note: All coupons expire 6/30/18 and are limited to the first 50 redemptions.

Fragile. Handle with Care.

5.10.2018


In five short weeks, my baby boy will turn 1 year old. Just a few months after that, R will turn 3. It’s truly amazing to me to look back and think about how I’ve been a full-time working mom outside the home for almost 3 years.

I remember like it happened just yesterday sobbing all the way to work after leaving R at daycare for the first time. I remember coming home at the end of the day and nursing her in the rocker. We both fell asleep at 6:00, and then some time later Jordan came and put R in her crib and quietly pulled me out of the nursery. I collapsed on the floor in tears and wailed, “I can’t live like this.” I know that sounds dramatic, but Jordan will tell you that’s exactly what happened. I felt defeated and tired and emotionally drained, and I couldn’t imagine going on for even one more day.

People said it would get easier, but even three years later I can’t decide whether or not I think that’s true. It’s certainly gotten more efficient. I can get myself and both kids changed, fed, and out the door by 8:00 almost every single day, barring a last-minute poop explosion. I almost expect a prize just for showing up to work on time(ish) every day.

It’s easier to recognize the voices that tell me how much I’m missing or how little time I get with them, but it’s not always easier to ignore them.

It’s never easy to leave them in the mornings. But yes, I suppose it’s easier than it used to be, which I say is because I’ve had to build a heart of stone, bracing myself against the tears and the hugs and matter-of-factly putting them down and saying goodbye and walking away. But I often stand at the door like a creeper and watch as long as I can get away with it.

Over the past 3 years I’ve learned that people are so sensitive about the topic of working and staying at home. I knew that was the case, but man it is really the case. I write on this topic to share my experiences and hopefully encourage other working moms, but I also hope to shed some light into the struggles and emotions of working moms for those who aren’t. 

The more we all share about our unique situations, I hope the more sensitive we can be to other moms and stop judging and arguing and just support and encourage.

But it’s obviously not as easy as that. I think it would go a long way, however, to try and adjust our phrasing. All moms work, and the phrase “working mom” really is quite problematic when applied to only a specific group of moms. In a similar sense, the phrase “full-time mom” is problematic, implying that those who don’t stay at home aren’t full-time moms. (I wrote more about that here.

One small way I’ve tried to be more inclusive in my phrasing is when I meet someone, instead of asking if they work, I ask, “Do you work outside the home?” (I do realize there are moms who work at home, but I think overall the phrasing of this question diffuses a lot of defensiveness around the topic.)

The other issue, I think, is that we can all be guilty of assigning intent to something someone said that the other person probably didn’t even mean. It’s those darn voices again.

For example, when you say: “I don’t regret quitting my job to stay at home with my babies,” this is what I hear: “You are going to regret not quitting your job to stay home with your babies."

When you say: “They are only little once. It goes by so fast,” I hear: “You are gone so much and missing all of it. How sad for you."

When you say: “Quitting my job is the best choice for our family,” I hear: “Because you didn’t quit your job, you are choosing yourself over your family."

When you say: "I've made a lot of sacrifices to stay at home with my kids," I hear: "You must not love your kids as much as I do because if you really wanted to, you could make sacrifices too."

Are these true things to think? Do they even make sense? Not really. But our hearts and minds can play tricks on us, and mine sure have played a lot of tricks over the past 3 years.

I had a very special and powerful moment last year when I strongly felt God’s voice speaking to me, telling me that he saw me, he understood me, and he loved me just as I was. This is a different situation entirely, but it reminds me of when Jordan and I were in the Bahamas in 2015, and God very clearly appeared in a situation where we felt scared and alone.

Over the past 3 years of writing about by experiences working in my office job and being a mom to R and J, I have no doubt offended or hurt some of you by something I’ve said. I try to be extremely careful in my phrasing and the way I write about this topic, but I know I haven’t always done that perfectly. And that’s because I’m not perfect. Shocker, I know.

It’s been 3 years; some days I’m okay with working, and other days I’m really not okay with it. Some days I feel like I’m doing what God has called me to do, and other days I wonder why on earth I’m wasting time sitting in an office when my kids are smiling and laughing without me 10 miles away.

When I went on our women’s retreat last month, one of the speakers was in a wheelchair due to a brain stem stroke she experienced when she was 26. She can stand up for short periods of time and walk with assistance short distances, but otherwise she is completely contained to her wheelchair. I was so encouraged by her session, and a few things she said have stayed with me, but one I want to share here.

She said that she was talking with a friend who said that when people see a wheelchair, it’s like if you were wearing a shirt that said, “I’m fragile. Handle me with care.” And Katherine said, “My wheelchair is a physical reminder to people that I’m fragile, but don’t we all want that shirt? Aren’t we all fragile and want people to handle us with care?"

I think we forget sometimes that no one is as secure or put together or content in their life as it seems. We are all fragile, and moms especially (although I know much of this is true for anyone, mom or not) can be easily barraged by voices poking at all the ways we are failing our kids, all the ways we don’t measure up with our house d├ęcor and our decorated front porches and our choice of where to send our kids to school.

It’s just freaking hard to be a human sometimes.

We need more support from one another. We need more encouragement online and in person. And guys, we need more Jesus. We need to read our Bibles and pray and cover ourselves with the truth to combat the voices telling us we aren’t good enough.

Seriously, get off Instagram and open your Bible. Start anywhere. I am reading through the Bible this year and am currently in Judges. There’s a lot of weird crap that happens in the Old Testament, but the metanarrative speaks to how much God loves us. The people of Israel messed up a lot. Like, a lot a lot. And God keeps protecting them and fighting for them and keeping his promises to them. He wants to do the same for you.

So listen to me: you are doing a great job and you are an awesome mom. 

If you work in an office, if you work at home, if you work taking care of littles, if you work for yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back and go tell someone else they are awesome today.

And don’t forget: We are all a bit fragile. Handle with care.

Currently May

5.07.2018

The windmills in southern Oklahoma. Over the weekend we took a quick trip to Texas--left Friday night, came back Saturday afternoon! We were there for literally one day and still brought like 10 bags somehow. Kid life? Or maybe we just need to learn how to condense better. I am nervous about packing for 11 days in England this fall.

It was a great day with family celebrating Cinco de Mayo and my brother's new master's degree! You can't put a price tag on family time. Well, I guess you can. The $40 we spent on gas driving there and back ;)

Anyway, here's what's been going on with us lately in a quick "currently" post:

celebrating
Other than my brother's graduation, Jordan and I will be celebrating our 7-year wedding anniversary on May 14th! Also known as that time my hair looked fantastic. I mean really, I loved everything about it and it stayed solidly put all night. When we got back to our hotel room, it took approximately 85 years to take out all the bobby pins.
May 14th is also known as the last time I fit into that dress. I did not try it on a few weeks ago "just to see" if it would fit. Spoiler alert: it does not. I can only get it halfway zipped up the back. Jordan tried to make me feel better by telling me that it's because I have more muscle in my back and arms from carrying the kids around. YES THAT'S THE REASON. Obviously.

We won't be going on any special trip or fancy date, although we will probably try to sneak out for a casual date night sometime this month while my in-laws watch the kids. But we are considering our England trip this fall our big present to each other for our anniversary and upcoming birthdays.

The 7-year itch year is upon us, and we've seen a few close friends go through hard divorces over the last couple of years, so we don't take marriage for granted at all. It's hard! But I love that we are committed to each other and look forward to seeing what year 7 brings for us.

creating
It's teacher appreciation week this week, so I am putting together gift bags for R's and J's teachers plus a little something for the office staff. We love our daycare so much and appreciate the teachers who take such good care of our kids! I continue to be so thankful for how well both kids are doing there.

wearing
I bought this shirt recently and have been wearing it nonstop. So comfy, a great length, and super light for summer! It's currently sold out, but if you put in your email they will notify you when it's back in stock. I've tried it for a few other things and it works! (I feel like I've been linking to this same website a lot, but honestly I love everything I've bought from there and think their stuff is super cute. Plus hi, free shipping.)

I also got these sandals from my mom this weekend. I would never ever buy these myself or even pick them up to try on, but they are actually comfortable and cute! (And on sale for less than $15!) My mom couldn't wear them because they kept slipping off, but I didn't have that problem so she gave them to me. That's called being at the right place at the right time.

sharing
Food with R. Always.

The best thing to happen is when I'm eating something and she says she wants a bite, but then she tries it and says, "Me no like it." YES. Bye, felicia.

going
To Texas a bunch this summer because my sister-in-law is due with my niece in a few weeks! This is my first time being an aunt, and I'm so excited! We will also be going at the beginning of June because my cousin in getting married. I have the cutest outfits for the kids and bought them a matching bowtie and pigtail bows, and I already have exploding heart eyes about it. They are the cutest and my favorite humans.

What are you currently celebrating?

Five on Friday: Rain Boots, Suspenders, and Stripes

5.03.2018


*Affiliate links are used in this post. Thanks for supporting this blog!

O N E
A few months ago, my left rain boot cracked, so I put a piece of duct tape around it and called it good. Jordan said I looked ghetto, but I mean when have I ever cared about that, I ask you! But then two weeks ago the right boot cracked, and I figured even I wasn't cheap enough to rock double duct taped rain boots. I was originally going to splurge and buy myself a pair of Hunter boots as a present to myself for being awesome, but I didn't realize how insanely expensive they are. No.  

I looked around for good rain boot brands and ended up buying these from a Canadian retailer. They had great reviews, but when they came I put them on and hated them instantly. My other boots were mid-calf height, and I am now certain that I do not have the legs for tall rain boots. I sized up and still couldn't get my giant runner's calves to fit down the shaft! I returned them and got these. They came on Monday, and I got to wear them today because it was storming, and I love them so much! So comfy and cute and they fit my giant calves, so wins all around.

T W O
I keep wanting to share this with all the toddler mamas out there. This is R's current favorite toy. My brother and sister-in-law gave it to her for her second birthday, but she immediately tried to eat all the pieces so I took it away and hid it in the closet. Six months later I pulled it out and gave it to her, and she loves it. It's a great toy for working on coordination and colors, and while for us age 2 was too young, this would be a great gift for a toddler 2.5-3 years old!

T H R E E
I mentioned this in an earlier blog post, but I'm still having fun with the Kidizen app. I have sold a few items on there and used them to buy R an adorable romper that she's going to wear for her 3rd birthday party (in just a few months. hold me.), and I also got J a pair of H&M jeans with suspenders. They are $20 new on the site, but I found someone selling them on Kidizen in nearly new condition for $11. What I love most is that all the prices include shipping, so you don't have to factor that in. Sign up using my referral code, and you can get $5 off your first purchase (within the first month).

F O U R
I've shared about my love for Mindy Mae's Market before. They have such cute stuff! Just FYI, they are  going to be having a giant sale on May 8. Markdowns up to 75% off some items! In my experience, their stuff sells out crazy fast on sale days, so if you do have your eye on something, make a list of what you want and go right for it. They have free shipping, so you can checkout with one thing and go back for more! I know it's starting to get super hot for summer, but this side zip sweater is so cute. I also feel like I want all their striped t-shirts.

F I V E
J is crawling! I know that's sort of unrelated to anything else in this post, but I wanted to note it. He's 10.5 months old and is officially on the move. We could tell he really wanted to get moving but wasn't sure how, and then last weekend we were all in the living room, and he got up on his hands and knees and went forward! Ever since then he's been getting better and better, and it's so weird to see him crawling around. I know he's crawling much later than most babies, but it still feels too early! I just want him to stay little and be my snuggly baby forever.

Do you know what inspired him to finally get going? He loves loves loves when we build a tower of blocks and he comes and knocks them over. He gets such a kick out of it. These blocks have been my favorite with both kids!

I've really been wanting to sit down and write a bit about this stage of life, mostly just to help me process through it and maybe to encourage someone who is feeling the same that you aren't alone. This particular season has been tiring--nothing bad or particularly eventful, just hard sometimes to work full time outside the home and still find time to clean, run errands, cook meals, while also prioritizing time with my family and finding time for my own hobbies like running and blogging. It's a lot right now, but I know it's just a season that will feel all too short one day. It doesn't help that R takes forever to actually stay in bed and go to sleep, so my evening time is so limited if I want to get to bed at a decent hour! 

Anyway, I'm rambling now. Happy weekend, friends! I hope it's a good one for you.
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