Links + Loves vol 9

9.11.2018


*Some affiliate links are used in this post. If you click on a link, I may get a few cents at no cost to you. Thanks so very much for supporting my blog :)

It's been a while since I've shared some links and loves from around the internet! The last post I labeled "link love" was in July when I shared toys & activities for road trips with babies/toddlers. Since that post, R got a few things for her birthday, so I can share a real-life experience. The water wow book from Melissa & Doug is really awesome, and I don't understand how it works. It's magic. MAGIC. My mom got R the boogie board for her birthday, and she loves it. There is also a case specifically for it, which I had no idea!

But I'm getting off topic of sharing new links with you... here we go!

This has been one of our favorite and most-used items for the past few years. As in, daily on multiple doors. Our house is just one floor, and what's nice about a Latchy Catchy is that Jordan and I can go in and out of rooms without worrying about the lock slamming and making noise, waking them up from naps (I'm pretending R takes naps! ha) or from sleep after they go to bed. There are lots of cute, fun patterns too!

I posted this essay last week on the blog and have received such great feedback, so thank you for reading and commenting! I'm still pretty bummed it didn't get chosen to be published on the site I submitted it to. I felt really good about it... better than anything else I've written and submitted. But I just hope that the person/people who needed to read it were able to find it through my blog!

Even if you don't follow tennis, you may have heard of the controversy surrounding the women's final of the US Open over the weekend. Admittedly, Serena Williams tends to find herself in controversy a lot, but I thought this article summed up the current issues really well and gave me some interesting things to think about in terms of how women are treated vs men in the world of sports.

I found this essay from Lore on Sayable so beautiful and thought-provoking. She and her husband have been trying to have a baby, and she's experienced a few miscarriages over the past couple of years. In this article she writes about the danger of saying "at least" to people when they share their struggles. She also wrote "what to do when your friend loses a baby," which I think is a good thing for everyone to read.

In other fluffier links, I know I talk about this website a lot, but they just had a great sale and I snagged a couple of tops for fall! Another reason I love Mindy Mae's Market is because they always offer free shipping, and every package comes with an inspirational quote on a white card.

This book recently came out just a few weeks ago, and I'm kicking myself for not pre-ordering it and getting some of the pre-order goodies they were offering. I started listening to Anne Bogel's podcast on my morning runs a few months ago, and I don't even care if you think it's nerdy that I listening to a podcast about reading. I've been enjoying it so much!

Speaking of things hanging out in my Amazon cart, I've had this cookbook in there for months. At this point maybe I'll just put it on my Christmas list.

I'm in a group on Facebook for working moms, and it's such an encouraging and supportive group of women! Someone recently shared this article from USA Today on the myth of the work-life balance, and I thought it was great (and a bit snarky, which I love!).

If you don't know, I'm kind of weirdly obsessed with my rain boots. We don't get a ton of rain in Oklahoma, but when we do, I like to have appropriate footwear! The ones I had for years finally bit the dust and cracked, and I thought I might splurge on a pair of Hunter's. Buuuuut, really in the end I just couldn't pull the trigger. I found Joules, which are super cute (cuter than Hunter IMO) and cheaper! There are more options on the website, but Amazon carries them too!

My favorite podcast is back after a summer break! If you have never listened to Risen Motherhood, DO IT. "Gospel-centered hope for everyday moms" is their tagline, and I just love this ministry and feel so encouraged by it. So much so that I support them every month out of my own blow money. I'm trying not to hold it against them that they rejected my article ;)

Finally, I know I've mentioned this before, but if you have a kid, you should check out the Kidizen app. I might be obsessed. It's basically a kid's consignment store online! People post items they are selling, and you can buy from them. I've found that it's not always a great deal for cheaper brands, but you can find some amazing deals, especially on fancier/name-brand items! I also just bought J his Halloween costume for $8, so it kind of has everything. It's not just clothes but swaddles, books, dress-up clothes, and even baby slings and things like that. Use my referral code theladyokie to get $5 off your first purchase.

Just a heads up that I might be taking a couple weeks off from the blog. There's a chance I will pop in next week sometime, but if not, don't worry if you don't hear from me until October! We have a lot going on this month, and I just don't know if I'll have time to log in. But either way, I hope you have a great rest of the week. 

I so appreciate YOU taking the time to read my blog. I don't take it lightly that there is someone on the other side of this screen reading this. I hope you find a link or two to love from my post! :)

p.s. Find other link + love posts here.

Last 5

9.04.2018


Apparently I blog once a week now. Is anyone even here still? I mean, I'm barely here myself. August was not my favorite, and I won't lie, I've been in a terrible pity party mood lately. Don't even comment and try to encourage me because I don't deserve it. I was just being ridiculous and not joyful and I won't excuse myself, but I will say that August was packed full of VOMIT and SICKNESS and I paid a doctor copay for every single member of my family at least once, a few people twice. Because did I mention vomit? Three Sundays in a row someone in my house puked. I don't want to be one of those crazy people who blame everything on the devil, but it seemed suspicious.

Related side note: I once edited a book written by a lady who told me that the reason her book had errors is because it was correct when she emailed it to me, and the devil--I repeat THE DEVIL--intercepted it in transit (across the internet?) and changed it all. She also argued with me about commas and said she knew what was correct because she got an A in English class in the eighth grade. Oh, and her book was about a talking squirrel that lived in her backyard and was based on a true story. She insisted the cover of the book be white with a rainbow across it. Naturally.

Anyway, what I really popped in to share was the last 5 photos on my phone. I thought that might be an easy way to jump in and share a few of the goings ons in our lives lately. Of course, I'm not showing you the actual last 5 photos, which are all of clothes because recently I've gotten very obsessed with selling clothes online and have half my phone memory used up with different angles of shirts and pants. That's all I'll say about that! ha.

ANYWAY. The kind of last 5.

1. Family ice cream date
If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen this photo already and might notice that yes, I did photoshop Jordan's shirt and the giant image of Bonhoeffer's face. As much as I love Bonhoeffer, he was ruining what is otherwise a lovely photo of the four of us. If you don't follow me on IG you have no idea what I'm talking about, so just ignore.

I told you that August was hard, but we did have some good times, including a weekend date to the local DQ for some ice cream. R got some vanilla ice cream in a cup with sprinkles, Jordan and I got blizzards, and J got bites of everything.

2. Pony rides and triple birthday parties
Forgive me if this is actually a horse, but I think it's a pony?

Near the end of August, our church group got together for a triple 3rd birthday party two friends and I hosted for our three kids, who were all born in August 2015 just a few weeks apart. We had a 1-year party, and now two years later they are all 3! We were all standing around going, didn't we just do this? Our friends have the perfect house for hosting, with a huge backyard, a trampoline, and even rides on their pony (horse). Sadly, it was just R and I because J was sick and Jordan had strep, but it was nice to just have one child to worry about, and we could stay later without them anyway ;)

3. Toe infections
Jordan and I have different ideas about when it's necessary to go to the doctor, and we argue about it all the time. I grew up basically never going, and Jordan grew up going a lot. We noticed R complaining about her big toe hurting a few weeks ago, and Jordan said we should take her in but I wanted to try soaking it and putting antibiotic cream on it and seeing what happened. So we did that for a few days, but it was clearly getting worse, so we took her to the doctor (compromise!). Turns out, she had a bad infection, and the dr put her on a strong antibiotic with instructions to take it 3x a day and soak her foot in warm/hot water 3x a day for 20 minutes. And we were supposed to do the soaking and the medicine for ten days.

Confession time: We have never gone the distance with either kid giving them the advised amount of antibiotic for any doctor visit. For like a week we start out strong, and then we forget a dose, and then another one, and we slowly just stop around day 8 or 9 and just toss the rest once we realize it's a week later and we never finished the final few.

But the doctor said that if the infection didn't get better, we would have to take her to the hospital so they could put her under and cut the infection out of her toe, and so we got majorly serious about the medicine and the soaking. Today as you are reading this (Wednesday) is day NINE, and I am very proud to say that we have not missed one dose of medicine, and we make her sit and soak before we leave for daycare, right when we get home, and right before bed. This is a breakthrough, people!

She looks less than thrilled in the above photo, but actually she asks to sit and soak her toe, and she sits the entire time, I think probably because she gets to watch Veggie Tales. We rarely let her watch TV, but this past week and a half she's gotten 20 minutes of Veggie Tales 3x a day, and she's loving every minute. She also loves to take her "pink medicine." She's always been really good about taking medicine. I don't know if that's weird or not, but I'm thankful we don't have to fight with her!

4. Wagon walks
This one doesn't so much need a giant paragraph. After work sometimes I'll load up the kids in our wagon (that I bought off Craigslist for $20) and take them for a walk. The kids love it, and the weather has not been too terrible! And by that I mean it's been in the low 90s. Perspective ;)

5. Snuggles
J continues to be the most snuggly bean there ever was. He has always favored me, but lately he seems very attached, and I don't hate it. Maybe if I stayed at home all day I'd get tired of him wanting to be held and tired of him crying whenever I leave his sight, but I don't stay home, and I don't get tired of it. 

This is probably definitely the reason he's not walking yet: because I carry him almost everywhere. I don't care. He vomited a lot in August. Like, so much vomit every couple of nights for two weeks straight. We weren't sure what was wrong and even took him to get blood drawn to make sure his liver is functioning properly. Everything came back normal, so we aren't sure if it's a food allergy or a bug or what, but it's super random and doesn't seem to be related to any particular food or situation. All that said, he hasn't been feeling 100% lately, and we've been having lots of snuggles.

This summer has absolutely flown by. When I took J to get his blood drawn, the dr asked me how old he was, and I said he just turned 1 a week ago. Then I was like, no wait, he turned 1 almost two months ago. HOW. 

So that's a quickish snapshot of life lately! There have been a lot of great moments and some moments I will not miss one bit, but overall we are happy and (mostly) healthy and trying not to wish these little years away. We are blessed and thankful indeed.

Mothering with Open Hands

8.26.2018

[daycare dropoff April 17, 2018]

The following post is something I wrote and submitted to an online site that was accepting blog submissions on the topic of the Gospel and motherhood. This post idea came to me easily, since we had just studied 1 Samuel at church the previous week, and I was really excited to submit this. We were told to wait a certain amount of time, and if we didn't hear back, our submission had been rejected and we could publish or submit it elsewhere. I admit that this was the sixth time I've submitted a blog post to another website (not all the same one) and gotten rejected. It's embarrassing to tell you that, but there it is. At least I'll never reject myself from my own blog ;)

I tell you that not to fish for compliments that I really am a great writer (I know I am. It's fine. I'm fine.). I say it only as a disclaimer that the post below is slightly different from my typical Lady Okie Blog writing style. But I do think the message here is important, especially as summer ends and so many moms start their kids in some form of school away from home. 

I will also be completely honest with you about something, though, and I do have a point, so hear me out if you will. This time of year, social media is filled with moms posting tearful goodbyes as they send their children off to preschool for a few hours a few days a week. As someone who has been away from their kids nine hours a day for five days a week since they were just a few months old, it's hard for me to sympathize with stories of difficult preschool or parent's day out dropoffs. I'm more like "yes! see what I have to do every day! get on my level!" than I am feeling bad for them. 

But (and here's my point) I do know that leaving your child, no matter how long or how often you do it, is hard. And I'm sure it's probably harder for people who don't do it as often as I do. Or maybe it's the same hard, but my heart has just become a calloused block of stone ha. 

Before I submitted this, I sent it to a friend of mine who is a stay-at-home mom and asked her if she could relate to what I wrote, because I don't always want to write just as a working mom but as a mom. I hope this is encouraging to anyone who has to leave their child somewhere. We can't avoid the fact that terrible, tragic things happen all the time; but at least for me, I can rest in the peace of knowing that God's plan for my child's life is better than the one I would plan for them (even if it doesn't seem to quite make sense at the time). I might not be there with them all the time, but they aren't alone.

***

I took my daughter to daycare for the first time when she was three months old. I had always known that for various reasons it would be necessary for our family that I continue to work full time after maternity leave. We had toured the daycares and weighed our childcare options, and we were confident in the place we had chosen—a faith-based traditional daycare center operating out of a local church—but as the day of my return to work approached, I could barely even think about it without crying.

That first morning, I carried her into the infant room, and they handed me a “Baby’s First Day” worksheet to fill out. “It helps the teachers get to know her,” they told me. It included questions like “How does she best fall asleep?” and “How often does she eat?” and then at the bottom, there were five blank lines and this: Is there anything else you want her teachers to know?

My eyes filled with tears, and my hand holding the pen shook a little as I looked over at my sweet girl, sitting calmly in a bouncy seat chewing on a rattle. She looked up at me, her dark brown eyes full of complete trust.

Is there anything else you want her teachers to know?

I remember feeling frozen. There’s not enough space here, I wanted to say. There aren’t enough lines.

I want to tell them about everything, about how silly and smart she is, about how much she makes me laugh. How she loves to cuddle in the morning, what her favorite toy is, and how she likes to be held. How to tell the difference between her hunger and tired cries, and that she favors her right side and we are trying to watch it and avoid a flat spot.

Tears streamed down my face as everything I’d learned about my daughter in her first three months of life flashed by as though I were flipping through a deck of cards.

****

The first chapter of 1 Samuel tells the story of Hannah, a woman who was barren until the Lord “remembered her” and she gave birth to a son, Samuel. (1 Samuel 1:19-20)

A few verses later, Hannah says what has become a much-beloved and often-quoted verse about the blessing of a child: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” (1 Samuel 1:27)

Chosen for baby dedications, printed on the back of birth announcements, and quoted as part of pregnancy reveals, this verse is beloved as a symbol of blessing and the joy of answered prayer. But what can be easy to forget about Hannah’s story is verse 28: “So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”

Hannah prayed “year after year” (v.7) for a child, and then she took him to be dedicated at the house of the Lord “after he was weaned” (v. 24), which we can estimate at that time was about three years. Just as I learned so much about my daughter her first three months, I suspect Hannah had a hundred times the memories and moments with her son before she left him with Eli the priest at three years old.

I can only imagine how her eyes filled with tears and her hand trembled a bit as she kissed her firstborn son and prepared to leave the house of God. And maybe just before she turned away, Eli asked her, “Is there anything else you want me to know?”

As mothers, we want to believe we know our children the best, that we love them the most. But Hannah knew better, and her story is both a reminder and an encouragement of God’s sovereign control and righteous ownership over everything we have, including and perhaps especially over our children. We can pray for our children, love our children, provide for our children, but ultimately we need to remember whose they were first—and then give them back to God with open hands.

Having open hands as mothers is something God requires of all of us, no matter where you spend your days. Just as Hannah physically left her son with Eli the priest, so too do we leave our children at daycare or with the babysitter or in the church nursery or with their preschool teacher. It’s scary. It’s hard.

Hannah’s story is a reminder that while we may physically leave them for a period of time, God never does. And when we do, there is no first-day worksheet. There are no questions to answer or blank lines to fill in. After all, it was he who “knit us together” in the womb (Psalm 139:13). He knows our children more intimately and completely than we will ever know them in three months or three years or three decades.

We are finite human beings, unable to see beyond what we are facing today. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34 not to worry about tomorrow, and while that is a nice saying for Sunday school, it is hard for us mothers to put into practice when there’s so much to worry about for our children. We need to daily remind ourselves that they are God’s first, and we need to have open hands with the gift he gave us.

In 1 Samuel 2:19, the Bible tells us that each year Hannah made Samuel a robe and brought it to him when she went to offer her annual sacrifice. I wonder if she cried while carefully sewing that robe together for her child. I wonder how long she was able to see him and if they were able to talk at all.

It’s been two and a half years of daycare drop-offs, and recently we added a baby boy to our family and I now have a second bag to pack every morning. On that very first day, they handed me the same worksheet, and once again I was frozen by the last question: Is there anything else you want his teachers to know?

Everything, I thought. There’s just not enough space.

I left him there that morning with tears in my eyes but peace in my heart. It is comforting to know that God fills in all the blanks, and he is right there with my children even when I’m not. He loves them more than I could and knows them better than I ever will.

Hannah honored God by returning her blessing back to him, and the last we hear of her is in 1 Samuel 2:21: “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.”

It’s hard to let them go, but they are his first. An answer to prayer, and an opportunity to give our treasured gift back to Christ. For what better, more holy place for our children to be than in the presence of the most holy Lord. 

Will Sing for Money

8.20.2018

We really don't talk about princesses a lot at our house. I'm not against them, but it's just not like we make a point to watch princess movies and buy R princess-themed pajamas and coloring books. And in fact, honestly I hate shirts with giant logos/pictures on them of any kind, so she doesn't have any clothes with princesses on them except for two dresses we got from a friend who was getting rid of a bunch of stuff. I thought maybe she'd like having a couple "dress-up" dresses around the house for fun.

I had her 3rd birthday outfit picked out for a few months before her party: the same green and pink onesie she wore for the birthday photos I took (the outfit is in the above photo in her new fort!). She wore it for opening presents, until she opened the card my parents got her, which had a built-in princess crown you could tear out to wear. She saw the girl on the crown and shouted, "I NEED MY PURPLE DRESS" and went racing off to her room, emerging seconds later with one of her dress-up dresses that had the exact same princess on the front.

My brother and sister-in-law got R a microphone and stand for her birthday. (Here's a link to a similar microphone from the same brand as hers, but I can't find the exact microphone combo she got online!) The microphone has settings for different voices and can even record a song to play back. To say she put on a show is a bit of an understatement. We got the microphone hooked up, and R put her crown on with her matching dress and sang her little heart out.

My grandparents were able to drive from Illinois just for the day to be at R's party! They had hunted all over for a pink piggy bank to get her, and then while she was singing, my mother-in-law told R to put the piggy bank next to her and she went up and dropped some change into it. A few more people pulled out some pennies and dropped them into the piggy bank while R was singing, and R kept smiling and laughing.
When I look back at the pictures taken at the party, most of them show R in a purple princess dress. If I'm being totally honest, at first I was a bit disappointed because that wasn't exactly my favorite choice for a cute birthday outfit. I don't even know if that will make sense to anyone else or just sound dumb of me to be at all concerned about something so silly even for just a minute or two. But she was so happy, and that made me happy.

I'm also so thankful that our families get along so well. Both Jordan's and my parents are married, so there isn't any awkwardness with multiple different families around, and I try not to take that for granted because I know it's not exactly what everyone else experiences all the time. Having family around is something I look forward to, and I hope it's the same for my kids as they get older.
Before R's 1st birthday, a friend gave me some really great advice that I've tried to keep in mind for all of the kid's birthday parties since then. She said that the day will be full of family and people. It will be stressful and chaotic. But make sure to take a minute--one full minute--at some point during the day and actually just stop and look around. Take in the moment, the people, the laughter.

That might sound kind of cliche, but it really has been a good reminder for me these past 3 years of being a mom. It hasn't always looked like I thought it would or been as easy as I think it should be, but there are so many great things too. Things I might miss if I didn't intentionally remind myself to stop and take it in every once in a while.

My two cents for what it's worth. I'm still new to this parenting gig ;)

Birthday Weekend + Blogging Thoughts

8.12.2018

Over the weekend we hosted family for R's birthday! She turned 3 on Friday, and we had the party on Saturday. I took short video clips all day both days and hope to put together a 3rd birthday video collage soon. For whatever reason I think making videos is so fun and love doing it. (Here is how I make them, if you're interested!)

I haven't gone through all the pictures yet, but maybe soon I'll share a post with pics from the day. It was pretty low key with minimal decorations, and mostly everything was recycled from my "party cabinet" where I keep all the decorations I've made over the past few years along with paper goods and other Target dollar-spot finds I collect. We did a taco bar and had pink cupcakes. It was really fun!
Right before the party my brother noticed that the side fence in our backyard had fallen over in the storm the night before. The only reason it wasn't completely over was because it was being held up by our neighbor's shed. We have had a few house projects lately, and we are not the type of people who enjoy doing house projects. And by "we" I mean Jordan. I've tried to be handy and end up hanging things unevenly and putting giant holes in the wall on accident, so I leave all the handiness to him, but since he does manual labor all day at work, he doesn't so much want to do it at home. 

Anyway, we clearly need to pay to get our fence repaired (yay adulting!), but in the meantime he rigged up some rope, and the fence is at least mostly upright at the moment. We also have a broken pillar off our front porch, and our front screen door is busted so there's a piece of packing tape holding the lock down. In June we used our cash emergency fund for the very first time to pay for maintenance on my car, so we are Very Excited to pay for a new fence.

I need to sign us up for one of those home improvement shows before Jordan goes insane from the stress and pays someone to burn our house down so we can collect insurance money. (He might have mentioned doing that, but I think he was kidding.)
We are pretty stressed out at the moment, to be honest. As I mentioned in my last post, this summer has been so full of wonderful things and awesome family time, but it has been FULL nonetheless, and we are tired. We really packed it in this summer, and all four of us have a birthday within 2 months of one another so that adds a bit of extra excitement too.

But how are you? No, seriously. How are you doing? Are you feeling stressed out by anything, or are you in a relaxing season at the moment? It's so easy to get caught up in the stress of daily life, going from one thing to the next and not really paying attention to how other people are doing. If I can be an encouragement to you in any way, let me know!

Blogging is weird. You get a glimpse into someone's life that you haven't ever met (in most cases), and if you follow them for long enough you begin to feel like you know them a little bit. But you may not know this about me: I can get insecure about what I say online. I'm not really all that afraid of confrontation usually, and I often say/write what I think. Sometimes I feel like I offend people, and especially online it's hard to accurately convey tone of voice and meaning. I also hate to go back and reread old posts because I get super embarrassed by how dramatic I sound. But those were my honest thoughts at the time, so that's what I wrote! haha. Plus also if you don't know me in real life, I can be kind of dramatic ;)

Just know that I do appreciate everyone who comes and reads. I've taken a huge step back this past year in the frequency of my posts, but I still enjoy sharing in this space and hearing from you! 

I'd like to try and get some photos from R's party edited and posted, but in the meantime I wanted to let you all know about a new Facebook group I started for anyone who loves books! The group is private so you have to request to join, but I'll accept anyone as long as you love books and promise to be a nice person in the group :) It's not a book club, just a place to chat books. Join here!

Happy Monday!


Skip the Store with Essentials from Amazon

8.08.2018


This post is sponsored by Kleenex, Scott, Cottonelle, and Viva, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.



I cannot get my life together right now. This summer has been full of so many good things and so much family time, but it has been FULL. And since we both work full time, the daily grind of alarm clocks, daycare dropoffs, and morning commutes marches on even in the summer. I don't think R will be going to an official preschool next year because she's at daycare full time, and they do basically everything there that she would at preschool, but I know once she starts elementary school, things are going to get even crazier!

If there is one thing I said I would never do it, write a sponsored blog post for something like toilet paper. But you know what? We had two rolls left, and I had no time (and no desire) to go to the store, and I was offered an opportunity to buy toilet paper from Amazon and have it delivered to my house the next day so yes I took it. I DID. And I have no regrets because, let's be honest: Cottonelle is actually the best. Also the best? Having things arrive magically on your doorstep.

I also bought some Kleenex facial tissues, which are going to be great for keeping in the diaper bag and backpack. R has gotten into a habit of swiping across her cheek with the back of her hand, and the side of her face has constant gunk on it so....  I need these.

I asked her to test the Kleenex wipes out on her face, and she was such a good model! Then she wanted to try them out on her feet haha ;)

Shop smarter and quicker on Amazon for Kleenex, Cottonelle, Scott, and Viva products! There's this handy page with everything in one section for easier shopping. There are even coupons to clip up, and you can get 15% off by signing up for the subscribe and save.

I suppose I should, as they say, never say never. Because sometimes you do run out of toilet paper. And sometimes it's nice to have it shipped right to your front door and waiting for you when you get home from work. 

Sometimes being an adult is awesome and means eating ice cream for dinner. And sometimes it means getting excited about toilet paper in the mail. Life is weird.

Stock up with household and back-to-school supplies on Amazon and save here!

Vices

8.05.2018


I was hanging out with some friends a few months ago, and one of my friends mentioned another friend of hers who had recently gotten a new car. "I'm really not ever jealous of people," she said. "But I'm a little jealous of her awesome car."

My first reaction was to think, Wow I'm jealous of people all the time. I wish I was never jealous. My second reaction was to realize that by wishing I were able to not be jealous like my friend, I just proved my own point.

This is one of the things I really don't like about myself: my constant comparing. It's nearly instantaneous when I see or hear something, and it's an embarrassing thing to share because it sounds so... so ungrateful. So entitled.

The truth is, I'm not at all unhappy with my life. I've been blessed in so many ways, and I'm so thankful. But I really struggle with comparing and jealousy. Social media in particular can be a big trigger for me. I go in waves where I consider deleting all of it, but I do like parts of it too,  and I just haven't figured out the balance. It seems to be all or nothing with me, and I wish I could find a good solution!

I shared this struggle with my mom some time ago, and she said that it's easy to pick and choose pieces of someone's life that we'd like to have, but you can't just switch out parts you want and leave the rest. If you want to trade one aspect of someone's life, you have to be okay with trading all of it: their family, their spouse, their kids, their job. And of course I don't want to do that. I'd just maybe like to replace a few of my things with a few of their things, but I don't want it all.

I honestly get so frustrated with myself. Philippians 1:6 says: "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it at the day of Jesus Christ." I love that verse for the promise it holds that Christ is working on me, perfecting my weakness and giving me grace to wake up and try again the next day, next hour, next minute.

I don't know if this whole thing sounds lame or sad or just pathetic, but I share with the hope that if you struggle with this too, you aren't alone. And the awareness of the struggle is a gift from God, allowing our eyes to be opened to our sin so that we can ask for help from the one who is, even now, doing a very good work. It's an encouragement to me, and I hope it is for you too :)

*Comments turned off. Sometimes I just like to share without the pressure of comments, but as always I'd love to hear from you if you do have a response!

top image via

Bye, July

7.29.2018


How is it the end of July? JULY. Anyone else find this crazy? 

June was packed full for us, but July flew by like a blur and I don't even know what happened. J's birthday was over a month ago, and we are planning R's 3rd birthday, which is coming up in a few weeks.

Real talk: if we had another baby the same age gap as R and J, I would already be pregnant right now. NOPE. I am not at all ready to be pregnant again. Jordan and I have said multiple times this past month that we aren't totally sure what we were thinking. It's crazy to think about how little R was when I was pregnant and had J. That said, I am loving their age gap and how they've started interacting more with each other lately. It's so cute and fun!

We just came back from a weekend in Texas, so I figured I'd share a quick "currently" post.

taking: pictures of the kids for their birthdays! I still have to take J's 1-year pics. I know I'm behind since he's over 13 months at this point, but I haven't for a few reasons (nothing to do with him being a second child, I promise!). But I went with R yesterday to take a few, and I think I got some good ones! It is, however, incredibly challenging to take pictures of a toddler by yourself. I need to take someone with me when I go with J. I was a sweaty mess when we were done, but I am here to tell you that bribery works. Amen.

reading: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. I'm only a few chapters in, but I am loving it so far! I started it on the drive to Texas Friday night and was super bummed when it got too dark to read in the car after the sun went down.

loving: family time. On Saturday night my family was all together in Texas having a birthday dinner for Jordan and I. At one point I looked around the table and just watched everyone talking and laughing and felt like I was in a scene from Parenthood where the camera pans the table with a fun soundtrack in the background. My mom made ice cream pie from Pioneer Woman and it was soooooo good.

laughing at: J's new trick. He can't walk yet (or even stand unassisted), but he has learned how to climb  up the three steps on our Little Tikes slide, turn around at the top, and slide down all by himself. My MIL bought us that slide to play with outside, but it stays in our playroom full time, and although I don't love how it looks, the kids have so much fun on it!

I barely posted on the blog in July, but I hope to not have such large gaps between posts in August. We will see! Our nighttime routine with R has vastly improved in the last 3-4 months, but it still takes about 30-45 minutes to get her to actually stay in her bed and go to sleep. I have limited free time in the evenings if I want to get to bed at a good time, and I haven't felt much like blogging. But I do enjoy sharing snippets of our lives on here. I know my mom loves it, anyway. Hi, Mom! :)

Hope you all have a wonderful last few days in July! August, I see you.

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.

・ DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS