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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