Books I Read in January


I read five books in January. FIVE. To be fair, I had started two of them in 2017 and only finished in January, which stacked my stats a bit, but still. I forgot how much reading I can get done while I'm pumping at work twice a day. It's not a terrible way to spend 20 minutes.

I don't know if anyone even still cares about book reviews anymore, but I like reading them and (perhaps oddly) I really like writing them, so book reviews will continue for the forseeable future. 

*I am adding two elements to my book reviews, inspired by the reviews of Michelle and Chelsea.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics // 5 stars
Fun fact about me: I love the Olympics. I mean, I know everyone likes them, but I love them. I discovered The Boys in the Boat on Goodreads when I was reading reviews of Fire on the Track, which I reviewed hereThis book is not for everyone. There is a lot of world history, and it was at times slow reading, but for me it was completely enthralling. The ending account of the final Olympic race for gold gave me goosebumps and made me cry literal tears. It's never about the suspense of whether the boys win gold: we know they do by the time we finish the prologue. But it's all about the boys and how they ended up together in the boat and how they got to the Olympics and it was just all the emotions. I loved it. Yes, at times it was a bit heavy on rowing history and mechanics, but even that was interesting and now I want to go watch a regatta or something.

Should you read it? Yes
For fans of: the olympics, weird sports, historical nonfiction, being inspired, crying while reading a book

Love Unending: Rediscovering Your Marriage in the Midst of Motherhood by Becky Thompson // 4 stars

I thought this was a wonderful book that offers practical ways to build your marriage after having kids. The author walks through 21 days, each with one focus that builds upon the other in ways we can show love to our husbands, be patient, be thankful, be gracious, etc. There are spaces for journaling, which I didn't do because I was borrowing the book from a friend, but I think I'd like to get my own copy and go through it again at some point. I liked the simple but realistic (for the most part) application. The author is very traditional with her views on Christianity and the role of husband/wife, which is great for me, but just a note for anyone else who might not be able to relate. It was a bit cheesy in some places, but it didn't bother me. This type of book has to be a little cheesy, I think. Overall I thought it was great and would make a lovely gift for a mom friend or just for yourself.

Should you read it? Yes
For fans of: loving your husband well, motherhood, somewhat-cheesy-but-at-the-same-time-inspirational-and-practical Christian marriage advice 

Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova // 3.5 stars
I didn't know Maria Sharapova (a professional Russian tennis player) had published a memoir until I was at a bookstore a few weeks ago and the cover caught my eye. I have played and follow tennis for years, but if you don't follow tennis, you won't like this one. It was not particularly well written, but it was really interesting and I enjoyed reading it nonetheless. The writing felt more authentic in author voice then other ghostwritten books I've read in the past; the choppy style felt realistic of how Maria would actually talk (because I know her so well in real life lol). I found the story of her start in tennis and moving up through the rankings fascinating, but I did get the sense that she is an unreliable narrator, and I was a little disappointed to discover that I did not find her very likable. The way she talks about herself and other players came off as pretty snobby. I suppose to be number one in the world in your sport you have to have confidence and be a little full of yourself, but it was too much in some places. But overall the book was still super interesting and I would definitely recommend this to tennis fans.

Should you read it? Yes but only if you are a tennis fan
For fans of: tennis, girl power, sporting rivalries, snobby narrators

The Trespasser by Tana French // 3.5 stars
I keep reading Tana French's novels, and I don't know why. It's like a bad habit I can't kick. This murder mystery is set in Ireland and follows the murder squad as they try to solve the death of a young woman. I have read all six of French's books now (all murder mysteries, although you don't have to read them in order). I always find them about 50-100 pages too long. However, I do think her stories and characters are extremely creative and unique. This wasn't my favorite of hers, but it certainly wasn't my least favorite. It was a pretty quick read and kept me interested. I couldn't guess who did it, but then again I never can so that isn't anything notable. I really didn't like the main character (who is also the narrator) at ALL and kind of felt like she was mostly ridiculous and whiny; but without spoiling anything, it turns out the author was intentionally making her character like that, so I suppose I can't be too grouchy about it. The characters do curse some, so be aware of that, but as far as mysteries go, this wasn't too scary for me, which I liked. My favorite Tana French books have been The Likeness and The Secret Place, so I suggest starting with either of those if you haven't read any.

Should you read it? Maybe/Sure (but I would try one of the other two books I mentioned first)
For fans of: murder mysteries, female narrators, Irish slang, books that could/should be 50 pages shorter

Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy // 2 stars
Set in 1894, Last Stop in Brooklyn is the third in a series and follows private investigator Mary Handley as she reopens an old murder case. This book is fiction but based on some real events and real people. I got it from blogging for books because the cover caught my eye and I thought the premise sounded interesting. It was a fast, easy read, but unfortunately that's about the most positive thing I can say about it. I thought there were way too many characters and not enough character development, so it was hard to keep track, and even if you did know who they were, you didn't care much about them. The writing itself was poor, with lots of telling and very little showing. There was no excitement or suspense in places where there should have been. It was just kind of blah, and I skimmed most of the second half. That said, when I got to the end and read the author's bio, I realized that he is a TV and film writer for some well-known shows. That made so much sense because the writing did feel more like a script, so that made me feel less annoyed about it. However, I still can't recommend the book.

Should you read it? No
For fans of: female detectives, poor writing, keeping track of a lot of characters, seedy goings ons, wanting everyone to die so the book will end

*I received a copy of Last Stop in Brooklyn for free from Blogging for Books. All opinions are mine.

Currently Reading
Lucky 666: The Impossible Mission by Bob Drury

Tell me what book you are reading or recently finished!

Shopping Spree


I had a realization when I was at my parents' house over Christmas. We watched a home video from Christmas 2005 where I received as a gift a pair of gray Converse shoes and a pair of green flannel pj pants. The shoes I had worn with me to Texas that very weekend and were sitting in the back bedroom. The flannel pants I had just thrown out the week prior because they were looking a little thin. Seeing as they were 12 years old, I'm not surprised.

I've always said that Facebook's TimeHop feature is useful not only to remind me how young I used to look but how old all of my clothes are. I've always been proud of the fact that I'm not addicted to shopping. I rarely buy clothes and get a lot of use out of my closet. But there comes a time in life where you really should stop wearing sweatpants from high school, and for me that time is now.

I've mentioned a few times on the blog that after having J seven months ago I have really struggled with my closet. Everything feels outdated and blah, and the more I think about how old all of my clothes are, I'm realizing that it's not just me. It's my closet.

For the past 6ish months I've been on a bit of a shopping spree. It has been surprisingly fun to step out of my comfort zone a bit and be okay with spending more on clothes than I normally would. Of course, now I see where the trouble comes in, because once you open that box, it's hard to close. Usually I won't even consider a shirt that is over $20, preferably $12 or less if I'm being honest, but lately I've started saying things like, "It was only $40," which is very much unlike me.

I tried StitchFix recently, which you know if you saw that blog post, and in general I have been more open to searching for quality pieces that are cute and make me feel good. I'm not a fashion blogger by any means--immediately obvious from the fact that I don't have easy access to a brightly lit room with a full-length mirror. My best bet right now is the bathroom at my office, but then you can't see my pants and shoes, and sometimes that makes the outfit. You can assume that right now for winter I'm wearing skinny jeans and either ankle booties or tall boots depending on the weather.

I wanted to share a couple of recent outfits and finds that I'm loving lately. I might make this a semi-regular post if there is any interest. I do think it's kind of fun to see what other people are wearing to give me ideas for my own outfits. 

I recently discovered this website, which has so many cute, trendy clothes. I'm not joking that every time I wear something from this website, I get complimented. I snagged a double-hooded sweatshirt during their Cyber Monday sale and love it for casual Fridays at the office.

Jacket (I'm wearing size M) // Jeans (super old MissMe brand) // 
Suede Booties (Kohl's a few years ago)

Shirt (I'm wearing size M)
Here are a lot of other floral options
Also, the lighting in that photo is truly horrible. I'm sorry.

Cardigan and Flannel (Target) // Scarf (gifted from a friend's trip to Israel years ago)

I tried out the above look a few weeks ago! I layered a long-sleeve flannel with a cardigan and really liked how it looked plus it kept me warm in my cold office without having to wear a coat.

While I do use only my own monthly blow money to buy these clothes, I still do need to reign it in a bit. I don't want to get into a bad shopping habit, but I am excited to be filling out my closet quite nicely with some fun outfits!

Last week I went to Nordstrom Rack and bought 3 new pairs of jeans. I honestly don't think I've bought new jeans in at least 7 years. I found two pairs of traditional denim and one pair of black skinny jeans. I'd like to find some cute sneakers or slip-on shoes, something like this maybe but not as expensive for the spring/summer. My shoes are super old also (see: Christmas 2005 Converse).

Other places I like to look for clothes: Brickyard Buffalo (love) and Simple Addiction. (I've never bought anything from there before, but a friend recommended it, and they have such cute things!) There is also ThredUp, which I've never tried, but I have heard good things. 

If you want to try out StitchFix, you can use my referral code to waive the $20 styling fee on your first box. My sweater below is from there, and I love it!
Sweater (Stitch Fix) // Leggings (Old Navy) // Scarf (Target)

Again, if there is any interest in this type of post, I might try to take pictures of my outfits and share them more on the blog, if only to motivate myself to try some new things. I've spent wayyyyyy more money on clothes in the last half a year than I have in my entire life perhaps, but it's been fun to feel cute about my outfits once in a while!

Can you relate? How old are your clothes? Where do you like to shop online?

New Happy Family Whole Milk Yogurt Cups at Walmart


One of the things I have enjoyed about working on sponsored blog posts is the opportunity to try out new products I might not have known about otherwise. Happy Family recently launched a brand-new line of whole milk yogurt cups available at Walmart, and I am really excited about this product!
At his last appointment, J's pediatrician mentioned that he could start eating yogurt. R loves yogurt, so we usually have some in our fridge, but I was excited to learn about the Happy Family line specifically for babies ages 6-18 months. It includes probiotics, no added sweeteners, is USDA organic, and is made with whole milk with Vitamin D.
Of course, my sweet baby boy's health is so important to me, and I enjoy making purees for him just like I did with R! (And if you're interested in how I make baby food, go here.) However, sometimes it's nice to be able to pull out something from the fridge and feed him quickly, and with the Happy Baby Whole Milk Yogurt Cups, I know I'm giving him something healthy and delicious. So far he's tried the plain flavor and the banana/sweet potato, and he has loved them both! They also have a peach/mango and a blueberry flavor. J had a reaction to blueberries when I fed him some a few weeks ago, so I'm staying away from that for now.
Learn more about the new Happy Family yogurt line and how to earn earn cash back from Ibotta! You've probably heard me mention the Ibotta grocery app, which I use regularly. (Sign up using my referral link here! I get a few dollars and you get $10 for signing up and redeeming your first purchase!) 

Be sure and redeem the Happy Family Ibotta offer  for $1 back (I used it to buy mine!) when you go to purchase at Walmart by clicking here. 


Rockstar Status


I often hear moms talking about how annoying it is that they can never go to the bathroom in peace. 

There’s always a child hanging out by your feet while you’re trying to do your business, and I agree that yes, sometimes it would be nice to have a moment’s quiet in the bathroom. However, one thing no one ever tells you, and an unexpected perk of both potty training and the aforementioned tiny bathroom stalkers, is that you have a loud and animated cheering section.

We somehow got away with potty training R without using bribes. No food, candy, or TV time was offered in exchange for a bowel movement. We did, however, try to make a Huge Deal out of any time she went, and as a result, now every time I go to the bathroom, R jumps up and down clapping and shouting, “YAY MAMA YAYYYYY! YOU GO PEE PEE."

This must be how Bon Jovi feels when they go out on stage.

(Sidenote: Is "they" appropriate? Or should I have said "he"? Is Bon Jovi the person or the band? I don't have time to look it up right now.)

Anyway. Sometimes I think if I have to be the parent of a toddler for ONE MORE MINUTE I am totally going to lose my mind.

Here is just one example.

She wants a cracker.
*gives her a cracker*
No, not that cracker. That cracker.
*gives her a different cracker*
No that cracker but with peanut butter on it.
*puts peanut butter on it*
That cracker with peanut butter on it but you put the peanut butter on the wrong side of the cracker.

What am I even supposed to do with that? I ask you. This is the type of crazy that drives people to lock themselves in the pantry shoveling dark chocolate into their mouths.

But then the other day I was trying to work on something and it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do, and I said out loud, “I am so stressed out.” R ran right over and brushed the side of my face and said, “It okay, sweetheart."

I always see these toddler surveys on Facebook, where you ask your toddler a bunch of questions like how old is mommy and what is your favorite animal and see what they say. It’s amazing to have reached the stage where I can have an actual (if sometimes confusing) conversation with my own child.

Like, HI I MADE YOU and now you are standing in front of me with a ponytail in your hair and wearing underwear and talking to me in words I can understand. What even is life.

Before I had J, I was not at all worried about how R would transition into her role as a big sister. I know a lot of moms worry about having enough love for another child or how their older child will do, and those are normal things to worry about, but I just honestly didn’t. 

What I did worry about was since R and J are both in daycare in separate rooms during the work day, would they be able to form any kind of sibling bond or get to know each other at all?

I know I’m not very far at all into this parenting thing, and I don’t at all expect my kids to always get along or become each other’s best friends forever. But I am close with my siblings and want to be intentional about fostering a relationship between R and J and any other children we have as they grow up. It’s been so much fun to watch them together, and I’m so happy to say that not being together during the work week has not at all hindered their relationship!

R loves J so much, and he loves to watch her. She makes him laugh more than anyone else, and when he’s crying or fussy, she will dance and sing for him and come up and pat him and say, “It ok, buba, it ok."

There was a noticeable shift once J started sitting up. Before then, he just laid around or was carried or held, and he was more like a newborn. And newborns, although cuddly and adorable are, in fact, quite boring. 

Once he started sitting up, it seemed as though R was like, oh so you can play now! She gives him hugs and kisses (between the occasional bang on the head, as one does. She is two, after all). They told me that at daycare sometimes her class will pass his in the hall, and she wants to stop and give him hugs and she says, “Dat mine baby.”

Daycare dropoff and pickup feel a little crazy right now. J has to be carried but R insists on walking and usually refuses to hold my hand. We pass the bathroom on our way out (see: photo above), and half the time she says she needs to go potty, so we all go in there and I try to hoist her up onto the seat with one arm while trying not to drop J with the other. By the time we get out to the car my left arm is burning, and that is why I've been doing mostly cardio at the gym because lord knows I get my weight lifting in throughout the week.

These days I swing rapidly between HEY LOOK AT ME I'M DOING IT to I'M DYING SEND HELP, which I'm just going to assume means I'm doing it right.

There is no point to this post other than to confirm what you already knew: toddlers are awesome and sweet and also straight crazy and always on the verge of a total meltdown because you gave them a cracker with peanut butter spread on the wrong side.

10 Photos that Shaped My Year // 2017


The idea from this post came from Beka, who shared a link a few weeks ago for these prompts. While it was nearly impossible to choose just one photo for each, and there are tons of others I could have picked, I liked the idea of viewing my 2017 year through just ten photos. As you may suspect, the majority of them, if not all of them, have to do with J, since he was by far the biggest thing to happen to us in 2017!

Find a photo from the year's greatest adventure – big or small.

Find a photo of a significant moment.

What photo makes you feel most alive?

Pick your favorite photo of you and the people you love.
>>> R's eyebrow. J's chunky legs. I mean honestly.

Search for a photo of a morning you want to remember.

Find a photo that represents joy.

Locate a photo of the people who shaped your year.

Find a photo of you trying something new.
>>> First time out with both of them by myself!

Identify an image of something you are proud of.
>>> I am so proud of R and how she's adapted to so many of the changes this year! A new brother, potty training, no paci, moving to a toddler bed... so many big things for my sweet girl.

What is a photo that you'll want to pass down for generations to come?

What was your greatest adventure in 2017 (big or small)?

Here are the prompts if you'd like to do this too: 
-Find a photo from the year's greatest adventure – big or small.
-Find a photo of a significant moment.
-What photo makes you feel most alive?
-Pick your favorite photo of you and the people you love.
-Search for a photo of a morning you want to remember.
-Find a photo that represents joy.
-Locate a photo of the people that shaped your year.
-Find a photo of you trying something new.
-Identify an image of something you are proud of.
-What is a photo that you'll want to pass down for generations to come?

By the Numbers: 2017


This is my fifth year to do a year in numbers! I started in 2013 and have tried to track basically the same things. It's so interesting to compare year to year. Here is my 2017 in numbers.

Total books read: 21 -- 12 nonfiction / 9 fiction
Rereads: 0
Favorite nonfiction: Spaceman
Favorite fiction: Dark Matter

Blog posts written: 112 (The lowest number of posts in a year since I started my blog)
Tweets: 91 (I largely quit Twitter this year but I still keep it and use it very occasionally)
Instagram posts: 173
Vlogs: 2 (I posted our Branson travel video here. And I also totally forgot about the Currently Vlog I made! You can see it here. Ha!)

Races run: 0
Miles run: I didn't keep track this year, but maybe 100-150 miles? I'm probably being generous.

US States visited: 3 - Texas, Missouri, Arkansas
US States visited that I'd never been to before: 1 - Arkansas
Trips to Texas: 8 (same number as 2014, 2015, and 2016!)
Plane flights: 0

Total spent on gas (for the year): $1,208.35
Average spent on groceries each month: $322
Average amount put into savings each month: $376 (Does not include the small percentage that goes automatically from my paycheck into my Roth account or the small monthly amount we put in R's and J's 529 college savings accounts)

Thank you to all who followed along with The Lady Okie in 2017! I felt like it was a pretty good year for me. Of course adding J to our family is THE highlight of our year. If you missed his birth story, you can start here with Part 1.

I posted a lot of feelings this past year about motherhood and pregnancy and working motherhood. Sometimes I get embarrassed to think that I'm sharing so many personal feelings in this online space, but hopefully my posts can be an encouragement or help to some of you. That said, I try to not be dramatic and emotional all the time. My confession session posts are always big hits! 

I'm not going to share a list of favorite posts from last year, but I've tried to make it easy to search this blog by topics across the top menu and also with tags at the bottom of my posts, so feel free to click around any time.

Have a wonderful and restful weekend. Cheers to more numbers in 2018!

On Going Back to Work After Baby #2


I have written a lot about working motherhood over the last two years (here is why), and I have been wanting to write a post about how it has been going now that have been back to work in the office full time for over a month now.

Just as a quick recap, I have been with the same company for four years now. It is a small nonprofit with less than 15 employees, and so my maternity leave did not fall under the official US policy, and I basically “negotiated” the terms of my leave. Both times, I have been extremely thankful and blessed to be able to work from home full time for a few months before returning to the office, which gave me more time at home with my babies. I took 6 weeks of maternity leave with R and 8 weeks with J, but I was able to work from home for almost 4 months after that. Both started full-time daycare when they were around 5 months old.

I won’t go into specifically what it was like for me to return to work after having R. If you are interested, you can go here to see a list of the posts I've written about working motherhood over the past few years. The simplest way to say it is, it was the hardest and most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. I dealt with jealousy, anger, bitterness, and just plain sadness over the fact that I wasn’t able to stay at home with R. There was also a lot of guilt. 

I always feel a little bit silly talking about how hard being at work was for me, because in the grand scheme of life, everyone was healthy and generally happy, and there was a lot to be thankful for. But it really was a very difficult and challenging time.

If I’m being totally honest, I get kind of annoyed when I hear about someone (whether someone I know in real life or someone online) who planned to definitely totally yes-I’m-doing-it come back to work after having a baby and then when it comes time to actually do it, suddenly announces that (surprise!) they are quitting their job! And then everyone sends the heartiest congratulations, leaving comments like “babies don’t keep” and “stay with them while they’re young” and “it goes by so fast” and “I don’t regret quitting my job to stay at home."

And I’m happy for them too, but for someone who really wanted to be able to stay at home once the time came, those comments are hard to see. Not everyone has a choice about whether or not they work, but you feel like a terrible mother because they are making it work and you just couldn’t. Or maybe you could, but you didn’t feel like that was the best choice for your family at that moment in time.

I wanted to write about returning to work for the second time, but I have been having trouble putting into words all that I’m processing. In some ways it’s easier, and I will talk about that in a minute, but I will tell you that it’s never easy to leave my babies in the morning. I hate saying goodbye. I hate missing them every day. That part isn’t easy at all. R has been going through a phase where she screams and cries when I drop her off every single day. She’s fine as soon as I am out of eyesight, and she’s always having fun when I pick her up so I know she likes it there, but man I hate walking away when she’s shouting for mama. J doesn’t cry for me (yet), but it’s worse in some ways with him because he’s so snuggly and cute and so little, and I just don’t want to leave him period.

It’s also exhausting to remember all that I need to take with me every day. I take five bags every morning: my purse, my pumping bag, my lunch, R’s backpack, and J’s diaper bag. Now that I have two kids, I have to remember socks for both and shoes for R, diapers/wipes if daycare told me they were out, pullups for naptime for R and extra underwear and pants in case she has an accident. A coat for going outside. A paci for J. Bottles and pump parts.
My wallet. My keys.

I’ve forgotten shoes for R and only realized it when I got to daycare and had to go all the way home. I’ve forgotten her coat and had to borrow one from the lost and found. I’ve forgotten extra diapers and had to make an emergency trip to the nearest Walmart. I almost forgot J’s paci once and had to turn around just as I exited my neighborhood. Just last week I got all the way to work before realizing I had the pump but no bottles. One time, I had the pump and the bottles, but I didn’t have that tiny white piece that goes on the bottom, rendering the entire thing useless. I MEAN HONESTLY.

I don’t think any of that will get easier, but each time I forget something I vow to never forget it again, so maybe at some point I’ll run out of things to forget and always remember everything? One can hope.

All of that to say, I am in such a better place emotionally about it all this time around. I’d like to proudly state how much I’ve grown and how much of a better person I am than I was two years ago, but the truth is, I really can’t attribute my attitude change to anything other than the direct answer to many tearful prayers. God has truly given me such a peace during this time, and it's hard to even explain.

When someone asks me how work is going, I don’t know what to say. It’s going well, but it’s also hard, and I can’t sum it up into the quick answer I know they’re looking for. I hate leaving my babies, but I have zero guilt about it this time. Truly I don’t, and that has been the most freeing feeling. I used to feel so terrible for leaving R at daycare and not being with her full time like some moms are, and I just don't have any of those feelings anymore.

I’m not saying necessarily that daycare is better for a child than staying at home with a parent, but I don't think it's worse. I have the gift of perspective with R having been at daycare for two years now, and I think it has been so good for her. I love that she gets out and plays with others, that she is okay with other people watching her, that she has friends and makes crafts with paint that I don’t have to clean up. I am excited for the same with J.

Two years ago I was Googling articles about having your kid in daycare and crying every time I thought about it because it sounded like I was sentencing my daughter to this terrible thing. Everyone has their own personal comfort level with childcare, and depending on where you live, your choices will obviously be different, but I am proud to be a daycare mom and will talk about how awesome I think it is to anyone who asks me. I have prayed many prayers of thanksgiving because the Lord provided such a wonderful place for our children to go. I don’t take it for granted.

Daycare has also been so good for me too, and I can see growth in myself in how I’ve responded to J starting daycare. Things that would have totally wrecked me are just not even a thing. As an example, the first week J was at daycare, he would refuse his bottle and then drink maybe 1-2 ounces. Since it was a bottle of thawed breastmilk, it couldn’t be reused, and they would toss the leftover 2-3 ounces. I would have been freaking.out. about R not getting enough to eat and about wasted milk, etc., but I knew that he just needed to adjust and it wasn’t that big of a deal, and sure enough the next week he was drinking the whole bottle!

In general I am much less angsty about working this time. I still feel jealousy sometimes about moms who are able to stay at home, but I’m not angry about it, and that has made a huge difference. I truly believe that the Lord has placed me in a season of work, and I want to honor that. I am intentional about the time I spend with my children and I miss them a lot, but I also enjoy my job and like my coworkers, and I don’t hate going to work. 

I am, overall, in a much healthier place and mind-set about my role as a mom and as an employee than I was two years ago.

People like to comment that quitting your job to stay at home requires a lot of faith and trust in God to provide for your needs, and that’s very true. But not quitting your job to stay at home requires a lot of faith and trust in God also—mainly to provide for my children’s needs since I can’t always be there for them. And that’s been a good lesson for me in my own journey of motherhood, one that a mom in a different situation might not have the chance to learn and one that I feel thankful to be able to practice.

I am seeing fruits of my testing over the last couple of years, and I am thankful for what I’ve been learning and will continue to learn during this time in my life. Is it difficult to be away from my children so much? Completely. Do I have days that are harder than others? Of course. Am I never jealous? NOPE. 

Being a working mom is very challenging, and I don't always respond well to it. But I am at peace with where God has placed me right now. I don’t feel any guilt about being a working mom, only thankfulness that we love our daycare and I love my job, and thankfulness that I can see the answer to my prayers for contentment, even if not in quite the way I might have wanted.

If you have sent me an email, text, comment, message, or prayed a prayer for me over the past two years, thank you truly from the bottom of my heart. I have felt prayed for and loved during this season, and it truly means so much to me.

In closing, I came across this article recently on the Christian subculture and the stay-at-home mom and think it's one of the best writing I've seen on the topic. This quote (below) particularly stuck out to me as something that I want to focus on as I move forward in this journey:

Let's become less concerned with asking “does she work?” and more concerned with asking “how can we help her mother?” Let's become less preoccupied with a mother’s physical proximity to the home and more concerned with her spiritual proximity to God.

I pray that I can be this kind of friend and encouragement to other moms in my life, whatever kind of work they do. If you need encouragement, a listening ear, have any questions about working motherhood, or just want to chat, please feel free to email me.

A Christmas Recap + Looking Ahead


I was really impressed with and also confused by the bloggers who posted Christmas recaps the day after Christmas. I would say ain't nobody got time for that, but apparently lots of people have time for it, just not people who are me. 

I honestly can't remember feeling more inspired by the new year. I want to do and change and start all the things, and while I know that's all incredibly cliche to say, the truth is, I'm particularly ready for the fresh start of 2018.

I spent all of 2015 being pregnant and having a baby, and we also moved out of our apartment and bought our first home. I spent all of 2016 adjusting to being back at work, having R in daycare, and then I got pregnant with J in October. I spent all of 2017 being pregnant and having a baby. All incredible blessings and fun things! But while Jordan and I do hope to grow our family with another child or two, either biologically or through adoption and/or foster care (we are open to the idea!), I can say with certainty that unless God tells us otherwise, there will be no pregnancies or babies or new houses in 2018, and I'm a tad excited about it.

There is no way to know what this year holds for me, and if I'm honest part of that is scary, because there could be serious sadness and tragedy awaiting me. Jordan doesn't like me to talk about that kind of thing, but it's just a fact that we never know what the next day holds, for good or bad. However, dwelling on it obviously doesn't do me any good, and I'm truly excited for the coming year, where I hope to settle into a routine and continue seeking improvement in various areas of my life. I also want to keep in mind that true joy and contentment for me will only be found in Jesus, and I don't want to ever think that I can transform into a brand-new me all on my own.

That said, right now I have a LOT of things I want to do and focus on in 2018, and my mom gave me some good advice to write it all down and see where, when, and how I want to implement it all. There's just not enough time in the day to fit everything in, and I don't want to overwhelm myself with attempting too much too fast. I hope to write out a blog post detailing more specifics, and I need to put together my year in numbers recap post for 2017, but before we get too far into the new year, I wanted to share a few Christmas photos!
I am always thankful for my family, but the holidays make me particularly grateful that being around my family is a fun, mostly stress-free time. Of course we don't always get along, and we have arguments and disagreements, but in general we have fun together. Currently we have three Christmases: Jordan's family, my family, and our own family Christmas at home. R and J are the only grandchildren on either side of the family, so they are spoiled with love and gifts! (Although my sister-in-law is due with a baby in June, and I can't wait to be an aunt!)
We went over to the Bumgarner house on Christmas Eve and ate breakfast for dinner, opened gifts, and played a round of Apples to Apples. We stayed until after 10, but J passed out on the couch early. I swear he could sleep anywhere! Just not, apparently, through the night yet. Whyyyyyy. Also, rude.
We woke up on Christmas day and opened presents as a family. We got stocking stuffers for R and J, plus a few toys and puzzles. I found R a reusable sticker book for $5 at Half-Priced Books and bought it on a whim, and she loved it. J enjoyed his new teether and watching R run around.
Every Christmas Jordan and I have two traditions that we started when we got married. The first is to go to a local Christmas store and choose an ornament. We slowly walk through the entire store and together decide on one ornament to buy. We write the year somewhere on the ornament, and we have one for each year of our marriage so far! 

The second tradition is to buy each other stocking stuffers. We go to the store together, split up, and get 15 minutes and $20 to buy stocking gifts. We check out separately and then meet at the front! I love it because it makes buy each other gifts less stressful because we go at the same time and have a limited amount of money to spend. This year we went to Walgreens because I already needed to go and pick up some pictures I had printed for a part of a Christmas gift. Also it was two days before Christmas, and I was scared to go to Target and Walmart.
After opening gifts and stockings, we headed to Texas to see my family! We arrived around 2:30, just after my brother and SIL and just before my other brother and SIL. Within the span of 20 minutes, six people had arrived. Every year we draw names (my parents included) and buy one $25 gift for a gift exchange. After R and J went to bed, we all sat in a circle and passed out the presents we'd bought. I had my sister and got her a picnic blanket from Pottery Barn. My brother had me and got me a nice big double-walled water bottle. In the morning we ate breakfast and opened stockings and a gift from my parents. We also all always get my parents something else even if we had their name in the gift exchange.
Taking a funny group photo with a few Christmas gifts has become a fun tradition. You can see last year's photo here.

It was such a lovely Christmas season, and Jordan and I both had the next full week off work, which was amazing! We are adjusting to our regular work schedules this week, and I'm trying to get a jump on my new year goals. We've had lots of snuggles and family time lately, and it was a great way to send off 2017. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year as well!