"Do Your Kids Get Sick a Lot?" and other questions about daycare

5.23.2019


As a mom who works a traditional office job outside of the home where I don't get school breaks like teachers do or other people who work various jobs in the school system, one unexpected trigger point for me the last couple of years has been the start and end of the semester, when moms are posting their kids' first and last day pictures. Whether it's kindergarten, preschool, or parents' day out programs, it's a reminder of the fact that our year is not broken up in such noticeable sections.

I have never taken a "last day" picture, because there has been no last day. 

There is no "first day" picture because nothing is ever starting. 

It's just always the same, every day, all year. And that's our routine, and most days it's fine; but I'm just being honest: I've realized that seeing these pictures is a trigger for me that makes me feel kind of sad. So that's where I've been for the last couple of weeks, as summer starts for everyone else, but our world continues on. (I wrote a 12-minute memoir post about this last year if you're interested.)

So this "summer," our kids will just keep going to daycare every day like they always do. The reason I've written so much the past 4 years about being a working mom and about daycare is because when I was a new mom with a brand-new baby, I knew I was going back to work and putting R in daycare. I wanted to find other moms who were doing the same, and I had the worst time finding anything on the internet that was in any way positive or comforting about daycare. Literally, I just googled "daycare," and I went through the first 6 pages of links without finding a single thing that wasn't either a horror story or a sponsored ad for a local daycare. I did find this gem of a title: "Is daycare bad for your kids versus parenting?" Because I guess if your kids are in daycare you cease to be a parent. There's also this title: "Sorry, working moms, daycare is bad for your kid." I actually tried to read this one but couldn't because it was making me enraged. Google "daycare good or bad" and see how long it takes to find an article saying good. They are ALL bad.

I've written posts about why we chose a traditional daycare setting over something in someone's home and why we like it, so I won't go into that here, but I did want to answer a few general questions about daycare that people seem to have, now that we've been doing this for almost 4 years. Because I'm super extremely VERY MUCH A LOT passionate about spreading the daycare and working mom love on the internet. I want someone in my situation to be searching for comfort and positivity and to find it so they hopefully feel a little bit better and not just like someone is beating them down with the weight of shame and guilt.

I got a few questions when I polled my Instagram followers, and I'm adding a few in of my own that I think people often wonder about daycare and working mom life. Feel free to let me know in the comments (or email me) if you have other questions! I am truly an open book and would love to chat about our experience.

Do your kids get sick a lot?

It's just a fact that children are tiny carriers of germs, and it's a fact that going to daycare means being exposed to all the things. It's hard to say what "a lot" is, because I have nothing else to compare to, but yes, I'd probably say that my kids seem to be sicker more often than kids of my friends who either stay at home or go to an in-home daycare. For example, my friend stays at home, and her son got sick with a cold-type thing for the first time just before he turned one. One! There's no way. My kids get colds all the time, random fevers, R got hand/foot/mouth, and I'm sure it's coming from other kids at daycare. Unfortunately that is a downside, and you can't so much avoid it.

I will say this, though: I do think it depends somewhat on the child, because the first 2 years of R's life, she was definitely sick more often than J was.

Do you do parent/teacher conferences?

Yes! Our daycare has the opportunity to sit down with the teacher one-on-one for a half hour or so and have a parent/teacher conference twice a year. I never did it with R's teachers until she was 3 or so, just because I never felt like there was much to say. I talk to them a lot during dropoff and pickup, so I feel informed overall. But once she started getting a bit older, it was good to talk to her teacher more about how she's doing developmentally compared to other kids her age, how she's playing, and all of that stuff.

How do you make friends with other daycare families?

I think the answer to this is going to be different depending on what your daycare is like. For me, I'm not friends with any other daycare families, and we've been going there 4 years! Our daycare is large, and it's in an area where people can be working or living all over the downtown area, so people really don't linger during dropoff and pickup. I do see the same people in the hallway each day, but everyone is rushing in and rushing out. Our daycare doesn't do any outside activities or events other than a Thanksgiving meal, but I'm sitting with my kids and focused on them and not chatting with anyone else. R also hasn't (until now) really been old enough to have friend birthday parties, so that hasn't been something I've explored.

However, I have two friends with kids in daycare who have an experience that's different from mine. Their daycares are smaller and more intimate. There are a few events at the daycare throughout the year, and my friends are actually friends with some of the other daycare parents as a result. So I think largely this depends on the size of your daycare and also your interest in making friends. I think if I really made an effort to talk to other moms I see in the mornings I might be able to build a relationship over time, but honestly I just haven't done so.

What do your kids learn that surprises you?

I think this has been one of the best things about having my kids in daycare. They have both learned so much from their teachers and friends. They do flashcards in Spanish, and one day R came home counting to 5 in Spanish! A few weeks ago they learned about honey bees, and while we were driving home we passed some flowers, and R started talking to me about how the bees pollinate plants. Like, okay???? They really learn so much, and it's fun to see.

Of course, they also learn things I'm not thrilled about from friends in the class. Nothing major at this point, but I do realize she's more and more aware of things as she gets older, and I unfortunately can't control what another parent says or does with their kids that influences how that child acts or talks around my kids. It does scare me, I won't lie. But I just have to put my trust in Jesus and remind myself that he is in ultimate control, and that all I can control is that I do my best to raise her well. I always talk to R about her day, what she learned, and I ask her if anything made her happy and if anything made her sad. I hope we can build a relationship of trust as she gets older to talk about anything she may have questions about!

Do you feel like your kids are being raised at daycare?

This is a huge one. I feel like most articles I read about the negatives of daycare include the fact that kids are being "raised" at daycare and not by their parents. My honest opinion is that this statement is completely ridiculous. When we first put R in daycare and I was talking to Jordan about this very thing, he said something that's stuck with me ever since. I don't know if he even remembers saying this, but he told me, "When they're at daycare, they're basically in a holding pattern." He's big into airplanes, and what he meant was that sometimes an airplane gets put in a holding pattern when there's a big line of planes waiting to land, and the plane just has to keep circling the destination city until they're given the go-ahead. The dictionary literally calls it "a state of no progress."

Now, of course kids progress at daycare. I just talked in the question above about how much they learn during the day, and sometimes it's not going to be all good. But I've always felt (and still feel) that the idea of a kid being raised at daycare by the teachers is only true in as much as the parent is or isn't connecting with their child during the hours they are at home.

Every weekday I get basically 1 hour with my kids in the morning and up to 3 hours in the evening depending on when they go to bed. So that's 4 hours a day, which is about half or even less than half of the time the daycare teachers spend with them. (Super depressing if I think too much about it, so I won't.) I won't deny that the teachers are with them for a longer period, but that absolutely does not have to mean that they are influencing my kids more than I am or that they are raising them.

At the end of the day (literally at the end of the day when I pick them up), J gets the biggest smile and sprints right for me. R yells "Mama!" and immediately says, "Do you want to come see what I made today?" I'm their mom at the end of it all. I'm the one they want to see, the one they want to show things too, the one they go home with. Yes, the daycare teachers talk to the kids about not interrupting, about playing nice with friends, about standing quietly in line, about not throwing toys, and that's necessary and great. But it's a holding pattern. 

Jordan and I are the ones who discipline. We are the ones saying prayers at night and not letting them be disrespectful to us or to each other. We are the ones setting boundaries on snacks, enforcing that they say please and thank you. And we are the ones talking to them about what goes on during their day at daycare.

I think a child could be considered to be raised at daycare if they weren't having much interaction with their actual parent in those outside hours. But if we are talking about a parent who cares about their kids, loves their kids, and spends some intentional time with the kids in those hours (however little it may be for various reasons), I absolutely disagree with anyone who claims that the child is being raised at daycare.

Do your kids get scratched/bit a lot?

Well, mostly no, because my kids are doing the biting and scratching. I'm not kidding! This has been an ongoing VERY STRESSFUL "phase" ever since R turned 9 months and became a cannibal. I was hoping since my first child was a violent friend, my second wouldn't do this to me, but in fact just yesterday J got moved up to the next class "due to the excessive aggression." I asked his new teacher if compared to other kids his age his aggression seemed normal, and she admitted that he was "above average." Sooooo, that's a no. ANYWAY. To answer the question: yes and no. What do you consider "a lot"?

You see all these news stories about some kid coming home from daycare covered in 50 bite marks and being sent to the ER. It's not that I don't believe this happened, and I don't want to be insensitive, but I'm just trying to picture the scenario that would cause something like this, and I don't understand. This is the extreme, not the norm (and I'm still confused about what type of situation would cause this).

Yes, it's a room full of toddlers, and yes, they get into it with each other. There are scratches. My kids have come home with bite marks, sometimes more than one. Sometimes it wasn't noticed by anyone, and we discover it on their upper back during bath time. Maybe I'm the minority on this, but it honestly doesn't bother me. Let me repeat: they are toddlers.

I love our daycare. I think the teachers do a wonderful job. I think watching 8+ toddlers all day sounds incredibly stressful, and also toddlers are freaking fast. I've watched R bite a friend while she was standing right in front of me (the friend took her blueberries, if you're interested), and it happened so quick I couldn't stop it.

Obviously it's not okay to hurt people. Biting/scratching/hair pulling/pushing are not okay. These are behaviors we need to work on and eliminate. But it's normal for their age (at least for J's age right now), and it happens. I've been on the side of the parent of the kid who is doing the biting and scratching, and it's not fun. I feel horrible that some other parent has a kid with a scratch on their face or a bite mark on their arm from my kid. So when my kid gets bit or scratched, I guess I just have a different perspective. (Happy to chat about this with anyone who is interested! I have read so many things about biting, and we've tried so much also, so I feel like I know way more about it than I ever wanted to.)

Do the kids go outside?

Yes! Each class has 2 blocks of time to either go outside or go in the gym to play. They go outside whenever possible, but depending on weather they go to the gym. They have scooter toys, balls, and I've seen them get that giant parachute thing out that I totally remember loving to play with when I was in elementary school! In the summer, they do water play outside once a week with hoses and water tables.

I'll end with an easy one:

Do you pack food?

All daycares are different. Our daycare provides breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack, so I don't have to bring anything! When R was little, it was really, really hard for me to not have control over what she was eating, so I brought her a lunch from home. But I didn't do that with J because I didn't have that same problem ;) I'll be honest and say that I don't always love the food options, specifically the snack. It does follow government standards, but it's just not always what I would choose. That's taken me some getting used to giving up control in that area, although if I did need/want to bring my own stuff, of course I could!

Those are all the questions I have for today. I'll do a part 2 post if there are more! Feel free to leave a comment or email me :)

In closing, I'm going to share my favorite article ever on the subject of daycare. I've shared it before on the blog, but I need to highlight it again because it's just that good.

May So Far

5.21.2019


I published a blog post on April 7 in which I talked about trying to sell a chair on Facebook marketplace and having a terrible time. I'm happy to report that only over a month and a half later I finally found someone to follow through on buying the thing, and it's no longer sitting in our entryway blocking our front door. Literally you couldn't open to door all the way because of the giant chair. 

The lady who messaged me about it that afternoon was "very interested" (her words) and pleaded with me to hold the chair until that evening until her husband could come to pick it up. I wanted to tell her that the chair hadn't been claimed in almost 60 days, and I wasn't too worried. She texted me to say her husband was on the way to my house, and then an hour passed and he hadn't shown up, and I was mildly panicking because hello, I'd given a complete stranger the real address of my actual house and what if he's a serial killer or some kind of crazy person. Thankfully, when he finally showed up he was a tad crazy but only in the way of old people who think you have all day to chat about life. He recognized our last name, and it turns out he knew Jordan's grandpa back in the day and got to talking all about it. I should have been more surprised, but that's just Oklahoma for you.

But we got rid of the chair! I only had to slash the price 5 times, wait almost 2 months, and get stood up by a handful of flaky Facebook people to get my $30 cash. Really I should have just put it on the side of the road, but $30 is $30, am I right?

Question: how lame should I feel that the most exciting thing that's happened in my life in the last 2 weeks since I've blogged is selling a chair on the internet? Never mind, don't answer that. I'm living the American dream, people! Try not to be jealous.

May has been super busy so far. On the 11th, Jordan and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary! We took the kids on our annual IHOP anniversary meal. We've gone every year since our first anniversary, and it's become a fun tradition. Trying to take a good family selfie has also become a fun tradition haha! ;)

The next weekend, Jordan's brother and my sister each had college graduation stuff, so we took a kid and split up. R and I went to Texas, and Jordan stayed in Oklahoma with J. Friday my sister graduated, and Saturday I helped host a bridal shower for my cousin's fiance! 

We've also just been outside a lot. Last year's back deck project nearly destroyed our marriage, and I'm sort of not kidding. BUT! We've been having a lot of fun out there this year so far! I got a $7 kiddie pool at Big Lots, we have a water table my in-laws bought us, and we have a miniature slide/swing Little Tikes playset that I found on the side of the road. Backyard fun for all!

I know I've bemoaned the fact that my kids will not for the life of me play with any kind of sensory bin longer than .87 seconds, but I came up with a genius idea that they have actually been loving. I have one of those giant bottles of Gerber baby soap that someone gave us as a baby shower gift. I give them some rags and turn on the water hose, and they "clean things"! They LOVE it.

Speaking of the back deck, we've had bad luck with gazebo-type things to block the sun, so this year we are trying out this sun shade. So far it's been great! Of course, we will see if it holds up under a freak storm (the last two ruined our gazebos!), but it's really helped keep it shady when we are out there playing in the middle of the day AND much much much cheaper, so if it does get ruined we aren't out a ton of money.

I'm currently in the process of planning our first family vacation! We are just going somewhere within driving distance for a long weekend, but I'm really excited. We haven't gone anywhere as a family of 4 other than to Texas and back for the weekend. And while it is a 3-hour drive one way, we do that so often it doesn't even feel like a trip anymore honestly. This time we might get crazy and drive 5+ hours! ;)

Not to end abruptly, but that's all I have for now, and also I want to get to bed. Hope you all have a great week!

I talk about socks in this post, so that's happening

5.09.2019

*pictures from playing outside after getting home from work/daycare last week. I try to be chill about them getting dirty, and it works only sometimes ;)

I got my race pictures from the Oklahoma City 1/2 marathon from two weekends ago, and there were only four of them, all at the finish line, and all of them had a girl about my age directly blocking my face. Now that I see the photos I remember her... there was basically no one else crossing the finish except the two of us, and she came sprinting right past me at an angle, and I remember feeling like she was kind of in my way. But the joke is on her, because I used my superior stalking skills and looked up her finishing time from her bib number. Don't judge me. She is beating me in the finisher photo, but I technically according to chip time beat her by 6 seconds to come in ahead of her in our age group. Obviously this is an important life event, thank you for asking.

I finally dragged myself to the gym on Wednesday. I love running, but after a race I always lose all motivation and don't do anything for at least a week if not more. I'm one of those runners who likes to have a goal I'm working toward or a race on a calendar to keep me going. Otherwise why not snooze that 4:40am alarm? Well, I'll tell you why. Because last week while I wasn't going to the gym I was at the grocery store buying a lot of ice cream. To be exact: two pints of that Halo Top stuff that pretends to be ice cream but is not and then one pint of Blue Bell mint chip and a 1/2 gallon of Moose Tracks. Moose Tracks is kind of an amazing ice cream flavor. Soon I'll have to roll myself to the gym, it's fine. 

I'm still so excited about finishing under 2 hours in my 1/2 marathon! Not only am I shocked by the time, I can't believe how great I felt during the race! This wasn't a PR, but it honestly might have been one of my best races ever. I kept looking at my pace on my watch and thinking, "Slow down a little; you're going to burn out." I swear I kept trying to slow down, but I just couldn't! I kept expecting to hit a wall, and while Miles 10 and 11 were the toughest mentally, I never felt like I couldn't keep going or needed to stop and walk. I never used the bathroom, I never walked, and I felt really great mostly the whole time! I don't know what happened. It's very confusing, but I'm not complaining.

After being on hold for months, Becoming finally came in at the library. I've heard really good things and am excited to read it. I don't agree with her politically, but I think the book will be interesting. I've heard from other working moms that they enjoyed hearing her talk about being a working mom and juggling career, marriage, and kids.

Very unrelated: let's talk about socks. Has anyone heard of Bombas? Someone mentioned it on the comments of a blog post I read recently, and a few other people commented and said how much they loved theirs, and then I posted about it on my blog Facebook page, and a few people over there commented that they have Bombas and love them! So that sold me and I bought a few pairs. Guys, their no-show socks are legit. I'm about to order a second pair because I keep taking mine directly out of the dryer to wear again. There are no-slip pads in the heel so they don't slip down! I wore them all day to work and didn't have to mess with them once! I bought Jordan a pair of work socks, and he loves his too. They aren't the cheapest socks, but they give a pair for each pair you buy, and the quality is noticeable. ALSO, this is not a reason to shop somewhere, but I was impressed with the packaging!   Anyway, all that to say, if you want to try them out, use my referral code and get 25% off! I wish I had a code when I bought mine.

Sorry this post is so random. I wanted to pop on and say something, and I had no plan at all, so I guess when I'm typing away I ramble on about race times and books and socks. Probably teenage me would be horrified at what I've become, but really I'm okay with it. Who doesn't love a new pair of socks??? I'm buying Jordan a few more Bombas for his Father's Day present. <-- Jordan, pretend you didn't see that if you're reading this! ;)

Last thing: Speaking of gifts, I told Jordan that for a combined Mother's Day and 8th anniversary gift I want two of these rings with each of the kids' names on it. I ordered them yesterday, and I'm really excited about it. I've wanted one of these for a couple of years but never wanted to spend the money, but I'm doing it this year! We are the worst about getting each other gifts and going on dates, so I figure all the years of not doing much has added up.

Did you ask for anything for Mother's Day? Or, buy yourself something? ;) 
Have you tried Bombas socks?

Happy Friday, friends!

Weekend: Strawberry Picking + 1/2 Marathon

4.29.2019


We had such a full and fun weekend! 

Saturday morning we got the kids up and headed to a local farm for a ladybug release in the strawberry patch, and then we picked some strawberries! The kids had a great time and were actually pretty well behaved. The only meltdowns happened when we were trying to get them in the car to leave. We were there for about an hour and a half, and honestly it went entirely too fast. It was a gorgeous day, and I enjoyed myself so much. It gave me just a taste of what family outings might be like in the future as the kids get older.
My parents drove up from Texas on Saturday afternoon, and we enjoyed having some time with them. They of course wanted to see the kids, and we also went downtown to the OKC arts festival. But the real reason they came was to cheer me on for my 12th half marathon Sunday morning!
The OKC Memorial Marathon is one of my favorite races. The whole city gets into it, and I know a bunch of people who run it. It's extremely well organized, and there is a ton of crowd support along the course since it winds through a bunch of neighborhoods. This was my 4th time to run the half, and I've also done the full marathon and the 5k! One of these years I'll get a relay team together. 
I set a few goals for the race, and my biggest goal was to run it under 2 hours. I didn't think it would be possible, just because I didn't think I'd trained to run it that fast, but somehow I ended up finishing in 1:57! I'm still a little bit in shock. That's not my fastest half marathon time, but it is the fastest I've run since getting pregnant with R over 4 years ago!

As I was running the last tenth of a mile toward the finish I heard my dad and Jordan yelling for me. I turned to try and look, but I was already past them and so close to the end that I didn't want to slow down or turn around. After I finished, I met up with my parents and Jordan and the kids. J honestly just looked confused, but R was so excited to see me and gave me the biggest hug. Jordan told me that she was actually the first person to see me and pointed me out to everyone else. I love that she can watch me run, and I'm excited for us to be able to run together one day!
Overall it was a great weekend filled with family and fresh strawberries and running. Not sure what else could have made it any better!

12-Minute Memoir: What I Wish I Could Tell Myself

4.24.2019


This 12-minute memoir is part of a series of posts where I set a timer and write for 12(ish) minutes. There is minimal editing before I hit "publish."

Sometimes I honestly can't believe how much time I spend away from my kids. This morning I dropped J off in his class, and then R and I walked down the hall to her class. She has been doing so well in her new classroom that she moved up to a month or so ago. I was really, really nervous about it, but she's done awesome. She waved to me and then walked in, and I got a little catch in my throat. I'm just so dang proud of her and how brave she is, moving into new classrooms with new teachers and new friends. 

Sometimes (okay a lot of the time) I feel so guilty about it. I feel guilty that my kids can't just enjoy slow, lazy mornings because we are rushing to get ready and out the door five days a week. I feel guilty that they fall and skin their knees or have bloody noses or get sick and throw up and I'm not the first one who's there to help.

And maybe you're thinking, you are way too hard on yourself. Grace, Amanda, grace! Yes, grace upon grace. It's crocheted on half the pillows at Hobby Lobby. Everyone loves to say that. But telling myself that I'm going to give myself grace doesn't stem the guilt. So yeah, today I felt sad about it. But I also feel shocked. Shocked that it's been 3.5 years, and I'm still alive. 

Because I honestly thought this might kill me.

Of course that sounds dramatic. There are actual things people are struggling with that don't even come close to a little thing like me going back to work, but I read something recently that stuck with me.

"Remember the worst place you've ever been in your entire life, and think of what you wish someone would have told you then. Now, go find someone in that same worst place, and tell it to them."

It feel silly to say that the worst place I've ever been in my entire life was the first year after I had R and went back to work. What a hashtag "blessed" life I've led so far. I'm almost ashamed of myself. But I vividly remember coming home from the office that first day, falling asleep at 6:30 while nursing R, and then coming out of the nursery and literally falling to the floor sobbing, "I can't live like this." 

It's not that it's gotten easier to spend so much time away from my kids, but maybe I've just gotten used to it. (And yes, by the way, I feel guilty about that too.) They're doing so great at daycare, and we absolutely love the teachers and staff. I (mostly) love my job, and having both of us work full time is the best choice for our family right now. But sometimes I drop them off and then sneak back to the window to watch for a minute, swallowing hard over the lump in my throat. J is munching on some breakfast; R is playing Legos in a corner with some friends. 

I sigh and jog down the hall toward my car and the second half of my commute to work. That lump is still there, but there's also a smile on my face.

They're doing okay. And as a result, so am I.

If I could go back 3.5 years, that's what I wish I could tell myself.
____________________

*Comments turned off. I find that often these 12-minute memoir posts are on topics I just want to share about without the pressure of comments. However, if you do have a comment or this post resonated with you, please feel free to email me or tag me on social media!

**For other 12-minute memoir posts, click here.

***I am plotting a follow-up post all about daycare! Please please email me or message me on Facebook with any questions you have about traditional daycare. I don't care how personal it is! I want to write a post on this topic and would love to know what you'd like me to talk about.

10 Things You May Not Know about Me

4.15.2019


I'm not putting a ton of time into thinking of these 10, so just know they haven't been carefully curated or anything. And it's entirely possible you know some of these things about me, either because I've mentioned them before or because you've just picked up on it from reading the blog or from knowing me in real life. But! Anyway, here we go: 

1. I have never taken an enneagram test, nor have I ever fully paid attention when anyone was explaining what the types are, so I have no idea what I might be. I'm not against it, but I've just never taken the time to learn about it. Is that resistance part of my enneagram's personality type???? We might never know ;)

2. I don't wear makeup except sometimes for date nights or for getting professional family photos taken or for an event like attending a wedding. Otherwise I literally put nothing on my face 97% of the time except some Cerave lotion when I get out of the shower. No foundation. No mascara. No blush. Nothing.

3. I have an intense emotional reaction whenever I heard anyone say they've either never read or read and didn't like the following books: Anne of Green Gables series, Little Women, Little House on the Prairie series. These books are my actual childhood and have been read so many times the covers are literally (!) falling off. This doesn't make sense, but if you tell me that you don't like these books or haven't ever read them, I take it a little bit personally.

4. Breyer's mint chocolate chip is my favorite ice cream. I have never tasted a mint chocolate chip ice cream as good as the Breyer's brand. 

5. Speaking of dessert, my cake of choice is white cake with white icing. I would choose it every time over chocolate anything.

6. I've had glasses since I was in the 4th grade and wear contacts every day. I'm a -5.5 nearsighted, which means that everything farther way from my face than my elbow is a huge blurry shape. I have never slept in my contacts all night on purpose, though I have accidentally fallen asleep in them. But I have never been that person who wears their contacts continuously for days. I can't do it. Plus it's bad for you, and I like to follow rules. I have an irrational fear about going blind at any moment so no need to add to the crazy.

7. I very rarely drink any type of pop, and if I do, it's usually Sprite. Jordan and I sometimes will buy a 12-pack of Cherry Coke Zero, and it can sit in our fridge for a month before we finish all 12 cans. That actually happened once, which is how I know. My parents were visiting, and we bought some pop; my parents left and didn't come back for a month, and my dad was shocked to find a few cans from the original case we'd gotten when they were in town the previous time. An occasional Sprite or Cherry Coke sounds really good with a pizza or a burger, but most of the time I drink water or milk with every meal. 

8. I wear a toe ring on my right foot, on the long toe that's next to my big toe (does that toe have a name?). I have worn it for years and never take it off, even all through the winter, even while swimming or in the shower, even while running marathons. I do think I took it off during my pregnancy with R when my feet started swelling. Before you wonder if it's fused to my toe, I do move it around, and it's not crusty or anything, pinky promise! I started wearing one when I was in high school, and after I lost that one I got another and haven't taken it off since.

9. When I was at camp one summer in high school, a friend pierced a second hole in my ears with a safety pin and a potato. Right after, we got called for dinner, so I closed the safety pin and didn't get to put the actual earrings in until later in the evenings. There were about 5 others who got their ears pierced too, and I think mine was one of the only ones not to get infected. I'm pretty sure we all got in trouble and maybe they even called our parents, though I honestly don't remember. I'll have to ask my mom if she remembers anything. I have 5 ear piercings: 2 on each ear plus one on the cartilage of my left ear, which I did at Claire's at the mall back when cartilage piercings were all the rage.

10. I've never broken a bone, gotten a traffic ticket, or had a cavity. Though I did chip my tooth on New Year's Eve this year, so I don't know if that's actually a worse kind of dental work.

Did you learn anything about me?
What's something I may not know about you? :)

Decorating + FB Marketplace is the actual worst

4.07.2019

*No affiliate links are used in this post. However, I did get a free product in exchange for a review.

A month or so ago, a very sweet blog reader emailed me about collaborating to share about her new Etsy shop. Ashley and her husband own the shop together and sell, as their shop title states, "rustic and industrial home design" items. I told her that decorating stresses me out and also that her shop might be too cute for me, but I am loving our new blanket ladder in our front room! 

We've lived in our house nearly 4 years now, and I love the space in our front room; I don't, however, love the furniture configuration, and the wall decorations were nice for a while, but I'm ready to mix it up. I was worried at first about the kids trying to climb the ladder, but so far so good. Please cross all fingers and toes for me it stays that way, thank you!

--> Use the code AMANDA10 for 10% off Ashley's shop until the end of June! Seriously, go check out their cute shop. Ashley is super sweet to work with!

It took a bit for me to convince Jordan that our oversized chair needed to go. It's so comfy and good quality has been well loved ever since I moved to Oklahoma, but I'm over it. (It has ceased to bring me joy, you might say.)

Well, I'm here to tell you that Facebook marketplace is the actual worst. I've never used it before, but what's the deal with people being flaky? I've had at least 3 people not just show interest but actually talk to me about coming to get it, and I was literally texting someone last weekend about them coming to pick it up. She was all excited about getting it and how it would be great in their room, and then she just never came and never said anything about it. I don't understand. Is this normal? I don't message someone about something unless I'm basically certain I want to buy it, but maybe that's not how much people operate.

*I'm so sorry the lighting is so awful in these next ones. This weekend has been super busy, and I only got around to taking these at night! This is why I'm not a famous blogger (yes, that's the only reason. ha).

Finally I decided to at least move it out of the main area, and it's now sitting by our front door. Our neighbor came over to borrow something this weekend, and I was super embarrassed when I could only open the door halfway because we have a random giant chair sitting in the entry. I realize it's not actually a big deal, and I'm sure he thought nothing about it, but I'm just saying I have a complex about this chair now, yet I feel emotionally invested in getting some money for it rather than putting it on the curb for anyone to take. And by some money I mean less than $60! I'm not trying to sell it for hundreds.

Anyway, back to my blanket ladder (I think if you had a nice, big bathroom you could use it for towels probably too!) For now, I have the setup that's in the first photo in this post. Now I'll show you the bookcase in the opposite corner, which is from IKEA, and we bought it from my brother in his moving sale. 

My parents have the rest of the shelve hooks, so for now the bottom shelf is propped up by 2 rubber blocks from the kid's block bin (#classy). I have the world's tiniest lamp, which I had on an end table in this room and it looked ridiculous. The bubble wrap the ladder came with is stuffed onto the top shelf because the kids have been enjoying making a "runway" of bubble wrap and racing down it to make all the pops go off.

Please send me shelf decoration ideas! I see all these super cute bookshelves decorated so hip and fun, but when I go to the store I panic and come home with either nothing or more crafting supplies. Why do I overthink all of life? Send decorating help and also wine.


I'll leave you with one  more reminder to head over to Ashley's Etsy shop and check out her cute home design items. Use AMANDA10 to get 10% off if you see something you like! In the meantime, I'll be waiting on my recent order from Persnickety Prints to come in. I ordered a few things that might look good on the wall (key word might), and then I also (more importantly?) got more photos printed for my scrapbooks, because scrapbooking is so much more fun than doing actual chores after the kids go to bed. This is why if you come over, my house is a mess, but I can distract you with scrapbooks the entire time you're here so you don't spend a lot of time looking around.

Creative Outlets and Other Things

3.28.2019


I did something kind of crazy this week.
I took pictures at my friend's home water birth.

For obvious reasons I won't show any pictures, but after panicking for weeks that I wouldn't be able to get any good photos because of lighting or blurriness or just the fact that I'd never actually been in a room with someone giving birth (other than myself, which doesn't really count), I think I got some good ones for her! Or, at least I did not horribly fail, praise the lord. It's not like you can say, "Oh, wait that's blurry. Please put the baby back."

I'm definitely not a professional photographer by any means. I've never taken a photography class or paid money for fancy editing presets, but I have always loved taking photos. R and J have given me a ton of opportunity to practice, and I take family photos for my friends on occasion for a small fee. It's a fun creative outlet! Although taking birth photos was definitely a stretch for me, I'm glad I was able to have that experience. It gave me a whole new perspective on giving birth in general and about my own L&D with R and J.
Speaking of creative outlets, I do not feel like home decor is an area where I excel. I see photos of other people's houses or go into my friends' homes and love how they have it decorated, and I'm like, I will do this at my house! And then I get home and draw a total blank.

Our house has basically two living room spaces, which I love because the kids have a lot of room to run around and play (although that's also more room to get messy and have to clean up haha). We've lived in our house for coming up on 4 years! We moved in just before R was born, and the front living room still doesn't feel finished. Hopefully that will change soon! I'll be sharing more about this in a week or so, but I'm excited to be collaborating with Ashley from ATZHomeDesign, which is the Etsy shop she started with her husband in the fall last year.

Ashley is a blog reader who reached out to see if I could share about their shop on the blog! She is sending me something that I think will be great in our front room, and I'm in the process of selling our oversized chair so I can fit a lamp and do some rearranging. I'm excited! She's been really sweet to work with, and you can use the code AMANDA10 anytime between now and June 30 to get 10% off anything in their shop.
Okay I'm out of time for this one. Does anyone else think, "I am so tired. I will go to bed as soon as the kids are in bed!" and then as soon as the kids are in bed I'm like DO ALL THE THINGS. I see the wrong side of 10:00 more often than I'd like, but time marches on, as they say. The days are long, the years are short, and the hours after the kids go to bed are even shorter. ha.

I was thinking about doing a "10 Things You Don't Know About Me" post. Would that be interesting? I saw someone do that recently and thought back to the days when those types of posts were everywhere in the blog world. I think I did one once, but it's been a while. 

For now, though, I will leave you with a shot of this red-haired boy. Don't want him to look back on this blog and think I only posted pictures of sister, now do I? ;) Although I will tell you guys for real: this kid sees the camera and sprints in the opposite direction! I cannot get him to face me and smile for anything. What a tease.

Coffee Date - March 2019

3.17.2019


Hello! Want to go for coffee? I'll drink chai tea, because I don't drink coffee, but you're free to have whatever you like. Let's pretend we already talked all about you, and now we're to the part where we are talking all about me. Here's what I'd talk about...

The first thing that's heavy on my mind is that R is starting in a new daycare class with a brand-new teacher this week. They don't have a set schedule for when they move kids up; it's just about when kids under her move up and also her age/abilities for the class she's going into. Every time I get the notice that she will be moving up, I get anxious. I have been so blessed in that I have loved every single teacher either kid has had since they started, and I'm always sad to leave. But for some reason this time I'm more nervous than I ever have been. Like, butterflies in my stomach nervous. She's getting to be such a big girl in the big kid classes where it's more like, I guess like school, and I feel nervous for her.

I popped into her new class on Friday morning after I dropped off the kids and introduced myself to her new teacher. I know a lot of the teachers at her daycare since we've been there for over 3 years, but I don't know this one, though I've seen her in the hallways. It's always scary to trust my kids with someone new, especially someone who will be with them for so much of the day. I feel like I am constantly praying for Jesus to watch over them and thankful that he's with them even when I'm not. If you think of it, I'd appreciate if you said a prayer for R (and for me!) this week.

After I told you that, I'd probably tell you that just being honest, I can't handle when a mom who stays at home compares me dropping my kids off at full-time daycare to them taking their kid to the church nursery on Sundays for two hours. I appreciate that they are trying to make a connection and empathize, but it's totally not the same thing at all soooooo..... no.

I'd tell you about the book I just read Where the Crawdads Sing. I wish I had a book club to sit around and discuss this with, but I read tons of Goodreads reviews/comments and asked about it in my reading Facebook group, so hopefully that will calm me down. So many thoughts. Gosh, what a fantastic writer this author is. Truly stunning prose. I felt so emotionally invested in what happened to these characters. But I didn't love the ending. I feel so unsatisfied. Still totally worth the read, but I wish it had ended differently. (My opinion, of course!) Have you read it? Let's chat!

I'd also have to tell you about the book I read before that. In contrast to the one above, it was a disappointment. The author apparently originally wrote this as a screenplay, and as a result the novel adaptation was so boring to read. Terrible, tragic things were happening (because it's WWII and Auschwitz and it's horrifying), and I felt nothing. No emotion at all or attachment to the characters. Which is crazy, because it's based on a true story! Have you read The Tattooist of Auschwitz? What did you think?

On to happier things, I'd tell you that I ran 8 miles on Saturday! Or, at least I ran for 80 minutes, so I assume I ran at least 8 miles, if not a little more. My Garmin watch needs to be charged, and I just haven't been tracking my mileage and only going by time. So, really I have no idea how fast I'm running at all. Anyway, I have a half marathon coming up at the end of April, and I've been going to the gym 2-3 times a week, but the farthest I've run on the treadmill is 5 miles, which is not really the same as 13 miles. ha! 

I set my alarm for 5:40 on Saturday and got back right as the kids were waking up. I felt so accomplished! It was awesome to have my long run finished before the day was even started.    I know it sounds insane to most people to get up that early on a Saturday if I didn't have to, but I knew that if I didn't I would just be thinking about my run all day and planning things around it, and I didn't want that pressure on my one full day at home with my kids. 

Once everyone got up and around, we went to the zoo! The weather was 100% perfect, and we had a lot of fun. We don't often do things like this, so it was really nice. I packed peanut butter sandwiches, and we saw all the animals and got home just in time for naps (for J, at least; R straight up refuses to nap on the weekends).

I have lots more I could talk about, but I've finished all my tea, and I need to get home anyway. I stayed up way too late on Saturday finishing my book, so I'm pretty tired. Tomorrow is another week! I find the daily grind of getting me and the kids ready and out the door five days a week extremely tiring and challenging in this season. 

I'm trying to find joy and give myself grace, and while those are nice things to say, they honestly (for me) often feel impossible to put into practice. Like, okay thank you for reminding me to give myself grace BUT HOW. I feel strung a bit thin with our schedule and both of us working full time outside the home, and Jordan and I are trying to change some things up so I can take a few pieces off my plate. So far the small adjustments we've made the last 2 weeks have really helped! I needed the reminder (from my mom, who else?) that as different seasons come and go, you don't have to keep doing what you've always done. You adjust and shift based on the current needs of you and the members of your family. So that's what we are doing! 

Oh gosh. Per usual, I ended up writing about things I didn't intend when I started, and I'll probably feel self-conscious if anyone in my real life mentions that they read this. But whatever! That's half the crazy of writing about your personal life on the internet. Thank you, as always, for reading. If I didn't think there was at least one person on the other side of this, I probably wouldn't bother. 

Hope you all have a great week! Find joy in the small things, and give grace to yourself where you can. And if you figure out how to actually do those things, please let me know. Basically I just want to be this bear--napping in the shade on a warm spring(ish) day. Anyone feel me? ;)

What would you tell me if we went on a coffee (tea) date?

Lullabuddy: Portable Lullaby Speaker + Bluetooth Player

3.12.2019

No affiliate links are used in this post. However, I was sent a product for free in exchange for a review.

Happy Tuesday! I have the coolest thing to tell you about today. I was recently sent a Lullabuddy to review, and I am honestly obsessed with this. When they first emailed me about it, they said it was going to be one of the hottest new baby gifts of the year, and I was like, sure okay. But this is super neat!

It's a small portable speaker that is pre-loaded with 2 hours of music from Mae Robertson's lullaby collection. Literally, I opened the box, turned the power switch to "on," and it started playing lullabies! 

When fully charged, it will run for up to 18 hours, or you can plug it into a USB port to charge or continue playing while plugged in. There is a shuffle setting to shuffle the songs, and you can set the timer to play and then automatically shut off after 1 hour.

And... there's more! ;) The speaker on the Lullabuddy is Bluetooth enabled, so I could sync it to my phone and play music straight from there! It's compact enough to take anywhere and put anywhere, and it won't be in the way. 

Of course, this is for adult use only and should not be left alone within reach of an unsupervised child, but I had J hold it to show you how small it is! 

I love being able to try out products and share cool ones with you, and I'm really impressed by the Lullabuddy. I can see this being a great gift for a new parent, and personally I wish it had been in my life earlier. 

Check it out and see what you think! Have you heard of a Lullabuddy?

Stitch Fix Reveal + Hello

3.07.2019


I always have grand ideas of blogging, but getting R to stay in bed and go to sleep sucks the life out of my soul, and after it's finally over I have no energy for anything else. I'm actually not being dramatic. She was really bad, and then she was better, and this week has been terrible. We've tried sticker charts and ok to wake clocks and all sorts of other things, and basically I just need someone to SEND HELP. But I don't really want to talk about it, so moving on!

I got a my quarterly Stitch Fix box earlier this week. I've been getting them for over a year now, which sounds like a lot, but I only get 4 a year, so this was just my 5th box. I think I've had the same stylist every time, and I haven't gotten a bad box yet. Maybe I'm just not picky, but everything has been more or less my style, and it's been fun to try on. The most items I've ever kept from one box was two; usually I just keep one thing. (Here's my referral code if you want to try out Stitch Fix and get the styling fee waived for your first box. I got my mom signed up, and she loved her first box! She showed me everything over FaceTime and it was fun!)

In my box for this month I received a pair of work pants, a jean skirt, a dress, and two tops. Neither of the bottoms worked... the pants were a nice thick fabric that had a good stretch to it, but the fit was a little off, and for the price ($58) it wasn't 100% love. The jean skirt was the first thing I've gotten from Stitch Fix that was a hard no. It had the jagged, unfinished edge that I know is "in" right now, but I'm still not on board, and it hit my legs at an awkward length that wasn't good for my large calves.

Here are the rest of the items! Can you guess which one I kept? Please step into my dressing room, aka my office bathroom on my lunch hour ;) 
This top was sooooo soft. Like, IT'S SO FLUFFY soft. Loved the sleeve length, and I liked the gray color and the uneven hem. But two things: 1) it was too short. I wanted it to be more of a tunic-style than a top, and it just felt weird. 2) it honestly looked so blah when I had it on. It just did nothing for me. Return.

Ah, I loved this. It was super duper soft, and I liked the design, the color, and the 1/2 sleeves. It also had buttons halfway down the back, which was really cute. BUT. It felt too short, and I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing it without leggings or something underneath. The second thing was the waist. I'm not a large person, but I swear to you that from the side I looked 4 months pregnant. (I'm not pregnant, but I looked like it.) The elastic waist wasn't very comfortable, and I just didn't love how it fell around my stomach. Return.

Okay, so obviously I kept this one! It actually doesn't look this way in the picture, but it's a bright green color. I don't know why it looks teal here. And I'm not sure it looks as cute in the photo as it did in person. Anyway. I think this will add a pop of color to my work attire and be a nice top for the spring or even possibly a layering blouse under something in the fall. Keep!

Lastly, I will leave you with this recipe for chicken tacos from Pinch of Yum, which is one of my favorite food blogs. Ours came out looking pretty close to the picture! This can also be a freezer meal. It was simple to make and a fun twist on regular chicken tacos. I like trying out new recipes, and I'd had this printed out for a while, so I'm glad to finally have tried it! We recently bought an Instapot and have used it a few times, so I'm looking into some good recipes for that too. Let me know if you have any!

Hope you have a great Friday and weekend, friends. I've had a rough week for no specific reason but just general life getting me down. Last weekend I was in Kansas City for work, so I'm excited to (hopefully) have some downtime and get some quality time in with the kids and Jordan. Next week I'll be back to share about a fun product that a company sent me to review!
・ DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS