Currently September

9.10.2019


I'm not going to say how on earth is it September, but really. What in the world.

Our oven caught fire on Friday night. I got home from work and was rushing to get dinner ready before I left to drive to Texas. Jordan was going to keep the kids while I went to Texas to go wedding dress shopping with my sister, mom, and sisters-in-law for my sister's wedding in March. 

Jordan had gotten home from work a little late and was in the shower,  and I was making spaghetti and pasta sauce. Jordan came out just as I opened the oven door to put some garlic bread into the preheated oven, and I heard a clatter clatter clatter. I looked and saw four crayons on the bottom of the oven starting to melt. I assume a certain small child with red hair had shoved them into the small opening by the handle, and when I opened the door they all fell in.

I shrieked and grabbed an oven mitt and tried to roll them out, but they got caught on the bottom, and I kept having to close the door so they would fall through the bottom and then open it again to get another crayon. J wandered over, so I grabbed him, and Jordan took the oven mitt from me and rolled the last crayon out. We put the garlic bread in, and Jordan said, "How did they get in there? What happened?" I started to explain when out of the corner of my eye I saw something orange.

We both turned around and saw literal flames spiking up inside the oven.

Jordan threw open the door and grabbed the garlic bread out, and we saw a red crayon tucked in the very back of the oven that had completely melted and subsequently caught on fire. I'm super calm under pressure and started shouting WHAT DO WE DO???? I grabbed my phone and Googled "what do I do if a crayon catches fire," but all that came up were links to Pinterest articles about making a craft out of melted crayon hearts. NOT HELPFUL, GOOGLE.

So I then Googled "what do I do if I have a fire in my oven," but all that came up were links to articles about putting out a fire that starts in a skillet on top of the oven. AGAIN, NOT HELPFUL.

We decided that since the oven was already hot and we have an electric oven not a gas one, it probably wasn't a dire situation quite yet. I mean all things considered, a hot oven is probably (?) the best place for a fire to start if you're going to have a fire start somewhere. Jordan turned off the oven, we kept the door closed (not feeding the flames an air source?), and the flames flickered lower and lower until they went out completely.

The good news is that our house didn't catch on fire. The bad news is that I had already roasted Brussels sprouts, so our house smelled like a lovely mixture of Brussels sprouts and melted crayon.  That combination of scents was.... interesting (read: it was weird and not great), but I suppose it's better than the smell of your house burning to the ground.

On a less stressful note, here are a few currently things for September...

MAKING: things in my Instant Pot! We bought an Instant Pot a while ago, and we've used it a bit, but honestly I'm a little intimidated by it and haven't used it a ton. But I feel like I need to utilize the Instant Pot for quick meals like it's intended for! So I've been looking up a few ideas and wrote down some that my friend said were really good and easy. If you have any good Instant Pot recipes, send them my way. I recently tried this, which was super easy and I had everything in my pantry already (which is why I made it). It had an interesting flavor, and I didn't drain the can of tomatoes, but I think next time I make it I will. We ate it on top of couscous with a side of steamed vegetables. 

TAKING: my pre-natal vitamins. They are the same ones I took when I was pregnant with J, and they are huge, and I have to choke them down every time, so it's not my favorite. Fun fact about me: when I was growing up I had the absolute worst time swallowing pills. My  parents would cut them in half, hide them in applesauce or yogurt, have me swallow with milk.... it was a whole ordeal to get me to swallow any pills. I can swallow pills now, but it still feels like a mental block I have to overcome every time I do it.

DISCOVERING: lots of new-to-me podcasts. I've gotten a few recommendations from friends, and I also have listened to some episodes where podcasters I like are guests on another podcast and found new podcasts I like from there. Here are a few I've found recently and been enjoying: 

New to Me

Old Favorites

CONSUMING: macaroni & cheese. I wouldn't say it's a straight-up pregnancy craving, but mac & cheese just always sounds good. I bought a container of the Panera at Home Mac&Cheese to eat for lunch at work, and I forced myself not to look at the nutrient list because I'm sure it's super bad for you. But I ate it over two days, so I tell myself that makes it better ;)

SAVING: some money in our grocery budget by not getting any more Hello Fresh boxes. We've been getting 1 box a month for almost a year and loving it, but they recently enraged me by charging a $6 Oklahoma State tax and never informing me about it and then being really difficult when I wanted to get an explanation from customer service about why they didn't feel it was necessary to give their customers a heads up about the extra charge on my bill. That might sound ridiculous, but this wasn't the first billing issue I've had with them, and I get upset about things on principle. Although $6 is not very much money, it put me over the edge and I cancelled in a fit of rage. Jordan was sad because he likes getting Hello Fresh, so I'll be trying a few other subscription box things if I can find a good deal. Has anyone tried anything good? Let me know!

p.s. Thank you to everyone who has left comments on my recent posts. Blogger is dumb, and apparently people are having problems leaving a comment at all, and the comments aren't coming to my email anymore! Ugh. So annoying. I'll try to reply back in the comments, but please don't feel like I'm ignoring you if you don't hear back! I am reading them and I hope Blogger can figure out its issues soon. 

On that note, thank you, thank you to everyone who comments and who reads! I know I have pulled back from blogging regularly this year, but I truly enjoy this space, and I appreciate everyone who checks in to read about our little family :)

Thoughts on 15 Weeks

8.30.2019


Today marks 15 weeks with Baby Bum #3! This photo is actually my 14-week picture, taken in my office bathroom of course. I don't know if it's the angle or the stripes or what, but I feel like I look huge (relatively speaking to 39 weeks lol) here. My stomach still feels mostly like a giant blob and less like a cute rounded bump, but hopefully those days are coming soon.

My official due date is February 21. I'm not sure if I ever actually said. R will be exactly 4.5, and J will be just over 2.5.

I find myself, as I tend to do, jumping between feeling calm and feeling super anxious. I've realized that I'm just generally a very anxious pregnant person, thinking about all the things that could go wrong, and it's hard to know if everything is okay in there when you can't feel any movement.

According to my previous pregnancy journals, I started feeling R move around 24 weeks (suuuuper late, and I remember multiple panic moments about it) and J around 18 weeks, so I have a few weeks still, I think. My next appointment is Sept 11, and then I'll schedule the anatomy scan after that.

We are not planning to find out the gender! That will be something different and fun, though I'm halfway wondering how that's going to work since Jordan claims he could tell the previous two times by looking at the ultrasound before the tech even told us. Hopefully they can turn the screen off before he spots anything. Or doesn't spot anything, I suppose.

I know someone at church who is in the worship band with me whose daughter just had a baby. They thought the whole time it was a girl based on multiple ultrasounds, and it came out a boy! That isn't the first time I've known someone that happened to. So crazy that kind of mistake still happens. That story is obviously totally unrelated to me, except that I was thinking, well at least with not finding out the gender beforehand we can avoid any chance of being surprised in that way!
This past weekend R and I flew to Illinois to spend a few days with one of my college roommates.  I went to a small Christian school in small-town Illinois, and there's something about the cornfields of Illinois that is so calming to me and brings me right back to college days. It was nice to be in some cooler weather also! Before we left, I texted my friend and was like, so what kind of clothes do I bring? I don't remember what 70 degrees feels like.

Clothing is in that awkward stage of not feeling totally comfortable/cute in many of my shirts. I've been rotating the same few for weeks now. Maternity stuff is still a little too large, but many of my normal shirts are not flattering. I finally bought my very first pair of maternity jeans! I ordered my quarterly Stitch Fix box to have maternity items, and I kept 3 things, which is the most I've kept from any box yet! A pair of jeans, a blouse, and I'm completely blanking on what the third item. Clearly I loved it ;) 

I'm settling in to the second trimester, so thankfully the really bad part of "morning" sickness seems to be past. If you've been pregnant you know why I used quotes. Morning sickness is not just for mornings. I seem to handle pregnancy in a similar way each time. It's why I thought J was going to be a girl--it felt like all the same symptoms as my pregnancy with R.

I never threw up (praise!), but I did have all-day nausea from about week 7 through week 10/11. My symptoms don't start as early as some people's, and I'm always panicking in weeks 5/6 that I feel relatively normal so clearly that means I'm going to have a miscarriage. Jordan is constantly talking me off the ledge.

Getting both the kids up and dressed every morning and trying to get out of the house and do daycare dropoff while feeling like I could potentially throw up at any moment was not my favorite. A few times I'd be driving down the highway and have to pull an extra shirt out of someone's backpack and lay it in my lap just in case I had to vomit. Thankfully it never went that far, but it was rough for a bit!

I feel like now I have more of a true morning sickness, and I have to eat something almost as soon as I wake up. I'm super tired and falling asleep with R in our bed at 8:30. But I've gotten some energy back and don't feel quite as lethargic.

I'm sad to say I have not been running/working out very much. I kept up with it pretty well when I was pregnant with R and J, but this time it's just been a lot with two toddlers and working full time. I've been so tired and not wanting to get up early, and then I'm falling asleep so early that it doesn't leave me much time outside of work to get a run in! Trying to remember that this is a season of life and doesn't mean I'll never work out consistently again.

As far as cravings/aversions, I guess I'm just not one to get those when pregnant? I can't think of anything that just doesn't sound good at all. I ate pretty well through the first trimester. Pizza and macaroni and cheese sounded particularly good pretty much all the time, but I wouldn't say I ever straight-up craved it.

I think the hardest thing for me so far, other than the nausea and tiredness and anxiety, has been feeling connected to this baby. When I went for my first appointment I was 8.5 weeks, and I only saw the heartbeat flickering on the monitor, but I didn't hear it. I did hear the heartbeat at my second appointment, but she had a hard time finding it at first because the baby was moving around so much. I felt a little nervous when she was poking around trying to find it, and then once she got it, it felt like it was so quick and then it was over. And I can't feel anything moving in there yet. 

We've been so busy with work and the kids and our summer schedule of swim lessons and birthdays and trips that it's just felt hard to really feel pregnant. This might be our last pregnancy (not sure yet, but it could be), and I really want to enjoy it and not try to rush things, but it's hard when I feel so anxious about everything being okay and want to get to the part where I have more of a real bump and feel the baby moving consistently. 

I don't have a point, really. Just sharing my thoughts at this stage. I'm incredibly thankful to have had a healthy pregnancy so far. I don't take it for granted at all. It's such a miracle, and although I am nervous about adding another child to our family when so often I still feel overwhelmed with our two, we are also so excited to meet our newest Baby Bum in February!

Sharing Photos of Your Kids Online – Survey Results + My Thoughts

8.23.2019


First, thank you so much to everyone who filled out my little survey! This is not an official research study by any means, but it was so interesting to see what everyone said. I received 141 total responses, which is way more than the 100 I was hoping for! So thanks.

I’m going to share the full results as pie charts that Google forms provides (so nice of them and so handy! I used to make my own pie charts when I did blog surveys back in the day, and it took foreeeever). Then I’ll share some of my own thoughts.

Before we get into it: a few obvious but, I think, necessary disclaimers just so we are all on the same page. First, realize that the people who filled this survey out are those who follow me on social media or read my blog, so in general this is a fairly conservative bunch. I don’t mean conservative politically or religiously (though I am, but that’s not how I’m using the word in this context); but as you’ll see in the survey results, I was surprised to see how many people do only use private accounts to share photos, or if they do have a public account, they don’t share many photos of their children specifically. I’d be interested to give these same questions to someone who does share a ton of photos of their kids publicly and see what their followers say, because it would probably be very different.

Secondly, I know this is a very personal topic and everyone is going to have their own opinion about how they handle it. And it can and will likely evolve over time. I would say I’m probably more conservative about this now then I was even when R was first born. So when I share my own thoughts about this, please don’t take what I say to mean that just because I do something a certain way I think that everyone should be doing it that way too or that I judge someone who does it differently. I think the important thing is just that we are aware of this topic and do take time to think about what we post about our kids before we post it.

The fact is, our kids today are growing up with social media, which is something we never did. It hasn’t been around quite long enough to see what the impact is later in life for kids whose parents shared so many photos of them online when they were younger. My philosophy has always been to try and think 10, 15+ years down the road. Yes, tiny baby bottoms are cute, and yes, kids sitting on the potty for the first time is exciting, but is that something my child will want “out there” when they are a teenager? I’m just not sure and even leaning toward no, so for now, I don’t post those sort of things.

The survey contained 3 questions. There was also a blank box at the end for open responses, and those were all very interesting. I've shared some at the bottom of this post.


QUESTION 1
 Do you post photos of your kids online?
a.       Yes but only to private accounts for family/close friends
b.      Yes and my account is public
c.       No, I never post any picture of my kids online
d.      I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I plan to post photos only to a private account
e.      I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I plan to post photos to a public account




Most people only post photos to private social media accounts. A few people mentioned in the “other” option that they do a private Dropbox, private Facebook group (one of my close friends does this), private email folder. A few others mentioned they do only major holidays but the rest of the time only show photos from far away, the side, behind etc. I really was honestly surprised by the number of people who share only privately. Only 15.9% said they share to a public account, and the small purple area is those who don’t have kids yet but plan to share to a public account.

My Facebook has always been private, at least as private as you can get it on there. I really cut down on what/how much I posted on FB this year, and a few months ago I actually total deactivated my account, so I haven’t been posting at all to Facebook. I do have my blog Facebook page, but I don’t post many single photos there. My Instagram has been private since I started, and I was always picky about who I let follow me. But I wanted to be able to tag brands and follow accounts in a more public way, so at the beginning of this year I actually made my Instagram account public. 

I went through and made 2 giant Chatbooks of photos, and then I deleted the majority of photos I’d posted of my kids and kept only those that were from the side/behind with a few exceptions. So currently my IG is public, and if you take a look at it (@theladyokie) you’ll get an idea for the types of photos I choose to share of my kids. Which is a good segue to question 2!


QUESTION 2
Do the photos you post of your kids show faces straight on (as opposed to from the side, behind, etc)?
a.       I don’t ever show their face to public accounts
b.      Many of my photos of my kids show their face
c.       I show their face only occasionally; most are from the side/behind
d.      I don’t have kids yet

The answers to this one look a bit opposite of number 1, but I’m guessing the nearly 50% of people who share many photos of their kids are also those with private accounts. I personally fall into the yellow 8%. I do post photos of my kids’ faces sometimes, but I’d say most are from the side/behind. If a photo shows their full face, I always put a watermark over it when posted on the blog (though I forgot to do that with our baby announcement photo and need to go back and add one).

The reality is that people steal photos for their own use. Just last month I was informed that a photo of me from the trip Jordan and I took to South Dakota four years ago had been turned into some kind of meme and posted to an Instagram account with hundreds of thousands of followers. The meme wasn’t vulgar, and the photo of me wasn’t terrible, so it didn’t really bother me. But I would not have liked to see a photo of my kids taken and used like that.

I also know of at least one blogger who had someone steal photos of their kids that they’d posted and make an Instagram account where they pretended those kids where their own. That’s gross and creepy! Yes, maybe that seems alarmist, but the reality is that once we post something online, we’ve lost ultimate control over it. There is so much information about us online, and if someone really wanted to stalk me, I’m sure they could pretty easily. What we can control is what we post in the first place, and although I have tons of cute photos of my kids, many of them will never be shared publicly because I just don’t feel comfortable with it. Posting from the side/behind is my compromise to not sharing any photos at all, because I do like seeing pictures of other people's kids too! Which brings us too...


QUESTION 3
When a blogger/social media account doesn’t show photos of their child’s face, do you feel…
a.       I like that they do it
b.      I don’t care; it’s their decision and doesn’t affect me following or not following the account
c.       It doesn’t bother me if that’s what they’ve decided is best, but I do wish they showed at least some photos so I could feel more connected to them
d.      I’m not mad about it or anything, but I think it’s a little strange
e.      It annoys me. Not really sure what the big deal is.
f.        I have no thoughts about this and don’t know why you even made this survey.






For question 3, no one answered F, and only one person answered E. That 9.4% in green is answer D. Blue was answer A. The largest was red, answer B. I personally would have answered C if I filled this out (that's the orange section). I follow a few accounts where the person has literally not showed one single photo of their child ever. It’s always from behind or their feet or hand or something but that’s it. I respect their decision and understand the reasoning, but I do feel like I find it harder to connect with someone if I never once get to see a photo of their child. Someone commented on this question in the “other” box, and this is exactly how I feel about it too. They said;

“A lot of us become invested throughout they pregnancy, and it feels like a legitimate letdown not to get pictures or a name.” This is totally me. Like, you follow a blogger/person on social media throughout an entire pregnancy, and then the baby is born and you see the back of their head or their foot or something. SHOW ME THE BABY. I’m not mad about it, and of course no one owes me anything at all, but I just feel a little bit invested and would like at least one photo on occasion.

Someone else wrote this, which I thought was good too: “I don’t mind not talking about and not posting about kids, but it’s a bit weird to get lots of personal stories about a kid and never see a picture.” I can’t say I know many people who talk a lot about their kid but don’t post photos, and I think maybe even subconsciously people realize this concept. You need a photo to go with a story, so posting a story about your kid and posting a picture of a sunset in a field is just random. I do know of a few bloggers, who will share a story of their kid with a photo of them from behind or something, and I appreciate that.

Obviously I don’t do names publicly, but I use initials, and I’ve said before that if someone would like to know their name just email me. It’s not a secret. Here’s my personal concern with the name thing: Google Image Search. 

If I blog my child’s name, anyone could Google Image Search it and come up with an entire page of photos of my child all in one place. Also later when they are older, I don’t like the idea of anyone being able to Google my kid’s name and find all these blog posts about them. Less likely but still, I think, something to just be aware of, is someone knowing my child’s name and finding out where I live and then trying to get my child to come with them by calling them by name or something like that. Again, probably not going to happen, but with something like that it doesn’t hurt to be safe. 

So just calling them by initials has been what I personally feel most comfortable with since R was born, and I’m thankful I decided to do that initially, because it would be hard to go back and remove all of those mentions at this point. Again, this is going to look different for everyone.

Okay! If you’re still reading, I’m going to share some of the responses I got in the paragraph box. These are just copied/pasted.

--I never post "live" even my stories are all always delayed and I don't post embarrassing photos/ inappropriate ones. I also don't post other photos of people / children without permission because I know everyone is different.

--I don't post public pics of my foster children because that is against the privacy agreement.
I don't use my kid's names on social media and try to tell their story from MY point of view, not theirs.

--I don't mind when people choose not to show their kids' faces, but I think it’s odd to post a picture of your kids and then go through huge steps to obscure their faces... why not just skip posting the picture?

--My husband is in the Internet industry (how vague is that, haha) and has seen firsthand what happens when children's photos get in the wrong hands. We were going to be so strict that we weren't going to share any photos with anyone, not even privately, but friends and family felt like they were missing out, so we found a middle ground that is comfortable (private accounts).

--Do the people who don’t show their kids faces in pictures ever share videos (insta stories, etc) showing their kids faces? How do thoughts vary about videos? --- Someone actually shared a comment that relates to this: I find I’m more willing to share silly photos of my daughter on IG stories. Not as many people watch stories so it’s a smaller audience and the picture doesn’t remain in my feed forever. It gives people who care a glimpse into my personal life (this is a public business account) without over sharing my kids.

--I think it's a wise decision to protect your children's privacy in this way. I love being "allowed in" to the lives of bloggers that I've followed for years. At the same time, however, I would not put pictures of my own child on a public account. The Internet can be a scary place!

--I have to track down people sometimes as part of my job. It scares me how much private info some bloggers put online. My opinion is that not showing pics of your children online is part of protecting their safety.

--I'm curious whether you've found or known any pictures of your kids to have been lifted from your social media or blog --- Not to my knowledge. But like I said above, I did recently find that a photo of me had been taken. I’m just assuming there is at least one photo of my kids floating around out there. I do know a few bloggers it’s happened to.

--Faces in particular I'm not too worried about--my reasoning being that I don't worry about all the many strangers that see our faces when we're out and about in public. Middle and last names, actual birthdays, birthplace, medical info, specific city names, locations, vacation dates, information like that I am much more protective of, because that's not info that the general public surrounding me would naturally see.

--I hate it when people post photos of their kids online. I just think about how I would feel if social media was around when I was a kid (I’m 35). I would also feel distracted anytime a camera was around because I’d be paranoid that whatever I was doing would turn into a story/entertainment for the internet. To be honest, it bothers me when bloggers even write about their kids personalities at all. I’m all for sharing craft ideas, or reviews about kid places, etc, but turning kids into entertainment grosses me out. I actually quit blogging when I had kids, because I have a lot of feelings about this.

--I am hyper aware of only posting the "cute/done-up" photos because I don't want to communicate (or for them to see that those photos got the most likes/comments) that their value is in being put together and only posed and pretty. --- I thought this was super interesting! I’d never thought about that before.

--I do miss seeing faces (like I wouldn’t read only blogs that didn’t show faces) BUT family safety and privacy and security are super important to me so as a reader I want to support you in that as well.

--Had a few moms of older kids say something similar to this – I used to be more strict about not posting pictures of my kids’ faces and certainly not sharing their names online. But as they've gotten older (my oldest is a tween), there are events and accomplishments they want to show off. One thing I am pretty strict about is getting their approval before posting something about them or a picture of them.

_____________________

I think the bottom line for me is just that I'm constantly aware of this and considering what I feel comfortable with, for my family and specifically thinking about how my kids might feel as they get older. Obviously I do a mixture---I do share some pictures of faces and them by themselves, but I'd say the majority of photos I post are from the side/behind/on top, and overall the volume of photos I post is much less than it used to be. 

I think my kids are super cute, and I have many photos I want to share and don't. Not because they're even necessarily revealing like (in my opinion) in the bath or on the potty, but just because it's a photo of them. And they are not me. They are their own person with a personality and wants and needs, and right now they aren't old enough to understand what social media is or what it means, so I'm trying to be the best steward I can for them until they are old enough to speak for themselves. From the responses I got, it sounds like that's what we are all trying to do too.

Thoughts? Opinions? Reactions? Please share in the comments! Or, email me if that's not working for you for some reason. I'd love to hear!



A New Friend

8.20.2019


Well I finnnnnnally told my boss about this (why do I always get so nervous?!), so I feel like I can announce on the blog. Yay! Baby Bum #3 is coming in February 2020! I'm 13.5 weeks along today and closing in on the end of the first trimester. We are so thankful for this sweet blessing and a healthy pregnancy so far. It's not something I take for granted.

I've been to two appointments so far--my first ultrasound around 8 weeks where I saw (didn't hear) the heartbeat. I had my second appointment last week at 12.5 weeks and got to hear the heartbeat that time! Praying for continued growth for this little life!

We dealt with some fertility concerns before getting pregnant with R, and I feel like the Lord has given me a really sensitive heart toward those struggling with infertility and miscarriage. I have some close friends who are currently and who have in the past walked through those things, and I know seeing these types of announcements can bring sorrow along with joy. I don't say that to lessen our personal excitement about this baby but only to say with all sensitivity that I recognize your pain and that I'm praying for you.

I'm not the type to post weekly blog updates. I haven't with either kid, though I do write in a personal journal. But I can't keep up with those types of posts on the blog. I'll probably hop in from time to time and share an update. If you have any questions at all for me, feel free to email or leave a comment! If you haven't gotten the vibe from me already, I'm basically an open book! ;)

Thanks for praying with us for Baby Bum 3. He/she is so loved already!

Travel Video: Hot Springs

8.16.2019

I finished my Hot Springs, Arkansas, travel video! You can watch it below or click here. If you are interested to know how I made my videos, see this blog post.

You can watch other travel videos here. Now my next task is to put together all the recent survey results about sharing online photos of your kids. I ended up with 141 responses, so thanks to everyone who contributed!

Hot Springs, AR July 2019 from Amanda Bumgarner on Vimeo.

How I See Myself

8.14.2019


R turned 4 this past weekend, and I know it’s everyone’s favorite cliché to say that it feels like just yesterday she was born, but in reality I actually don’t feel that way. I vividly remember how I felt as a new mom. Jordan and I had a very hard time transitioning from zero to one child (much harder for us than going from one to two), and it was challenging and stressful for those first few months. I realized later that I think I had at least a mild level of postpartum anxiety, and my recovery the first couple of weeks was extremely painful and difficult for me. All of that actually does in some ways feel like yesterday.

But R as a newborn? As a baby? It’s honestly hard to remember her as anything other than what she is now: a walking (really just running), talking, preschooler who loves twirly dresses and uses actual logic with me in conversations. I feel in once sense like I just became a mom and in another sense like I’ve always been one.

For better or worse, so much of my experience being a mom is tied to my experience being a mom who works full time outside the home. The first year going back to work after having R was truly the hardest of my life so far. I’ve never struggled with depression, but I do think I was legitimately depressed during that year. I struggled with jealousy, anger, and lots of guilt. I know not everyone struggles with working as much as I did (and in some ways still do), but I also know that many people have reached out to me over the past 4 years to thank me for sharing my story, to thank me for blog posts I’ve written or things I’ve said to them that have been encouraging, and to thank me for making them feel like they weren’t the only ones feeling those things.

I have been listening to the Risen Motherhood podcast for years now, and you’ve probably heard me mention it on the blog a time or two. Their first book is coming out in September, and I pre-ordered it and joined their launch time and private Facebook group. Women were sharing photos of their families and a short introduction to their lives, and it felt like the majority of the ladies introducing themselves are stay-at-home moms. Of those who did work, I saw an overwhelming theme of guilt coming from their posts—guilt either because they wanted to stay at home but couldn’t for whatever reason, or guilt because they could stay at home, but they liked working and felt like they were a better mom because of it.

I like to think I’ve learned a few things about motherhood over the last 4 years, and one of those things is how easy it is to feel guilty as a mom. We all can relate to feelings of guilt, even if the things we feel guilty about are different. The heart of so-called “mommy wars” stem from what seems like a mixture of pride and guilt. Pride in our choices of parenting as the “best” way, and guilt that’s based on nothing more than looking at someone else’s way of doing things and wondering, should I be doing it that way too?

The point of this is not to say who feels more guilt. This is not a working vs. staying at home debate. Those “debates” are harmful and unhelpful and unkind. We all have different, unique life experiences, and we are tasked to make the most of what we’ve been given. To compare someone else’s life to yours is to miss the entire point. (Talking to myself here, trust me!)

But what I can do—what we can all do—is speak from our own experiences out of a place of honesty and love to those who might be in a different place. So I can speak into my experience from a mom who works in an office job M-F, and I will tell you that I felt sad for moms who shared a lovely photo of their family, moms who love Jesus and are trying their best to raise their children well, and who ultimately feel guilt over their working situation. I know for a fact that it’s a heavy weight to bear, and I don’t think the church has done a good job speaking life into women who struggle with working outside the home (or inside the home if you work from home!).

Events for women—luncheons, playdates, and Bible studies—are planned during the week in the middle of the day. As if a woman who is at work during the day wouldn’t love to attend some of these functions. And certainly I’m not saying that every single event should be planned in the evenings and weekends. Moms who stay at home should have opportunities for fellowship during the day, and not everyone wants or has time to do things outside the typical 8-5.

But the church can do better at recognizing the huge gap in opportunities for moms who work during the week to be involved. I’m extremely thankful for my church, where I’ve seen amazing improvement over the last few years in this area. But from reading many of the comments on the intro posts in the Facebook group, I know a lot of working moms feel left out from church events.

Articles from major Christian platforms and biblical preachers speak about “full-time motherhood” and “staying at home to serve your children and your family.” As if a mom who is away from her home and her children during the work day is not, in fact, a full-time mom. (Do we call a dad who works full time not a “full-time” dad?) As if they are not also serving their families through their corporate or self-employed work. It can be discouraging. It can be hurtful.

I’m sure there are people reading this who don’t understand why I’ve written so much about working motherhood over the past four years. Maybe that’s you. Perhaps you’d rather me stop talking about the phrase “full-time mom” and don’t really get why it bothers me.

But I’m hopeful that there are more of you who do understand. Or who didn’t understand but now have more awareness on this topic and more sympathy for moms who feel the weight of this guilt of so much time away from their kids, who feel the sting of having yet another event planned during a time of day they just can’t go.

Four years ago I was living in a place of jealousy and anger over working. I was bitter. I was not happy. Today, I would be lying if I said I never get feelings of jealousy. Hearing of friends planning meet-ups at the zoo on a Tuesday morning or seeing pictures on social media of moms at the park with their kids on a Friday afternoon hurts a bit. I can’t help but wish I were doing that too.

But here’s what I’ve learned: being away from my kids during the work day doesn’t mean I love them any less. It doesn’t make me only a C+ mom. And it doesn’t mean that someone who is doing it differently is doing it better. For this season, God has me in this place, and I need to steward it well. And so do you with wherever you find yourself. There's so much freedom in that for all of us.

I mentioned earlier that I am part of the launch team for the Risen Motherhood book. All that means is that I pre-ordered a copy and that I guess I’m a Super Fan of this ministry ;) It also means I’m going to be sharing about it some with you all over the next month or so. I’m not getting paid to talk about it, and I purchased the book myself.

We got access to an advanced digital copy of the book to read before the official release, and I have to tell you: these next lines I’m about to quote SPOKE to me. The point of this blog post was not to plug the Risen Motherhood book, but I think these lines are actually the perfect way to end. (So I'll just also add that you can pre-order the book here!)

R turned 4 this past weekend, and I realized that I’ve viewed myself for so long through the lens of “working mom.” That’s how the world sees me. That’s how I see myself.

But as a Christian, that’s not how God sees me.

Maybe you see yourself as the “stay-at-home mom,” the “jealous mom,” the “tired mom,” the “not-very-fun mom.” Hear me, friend: that’s not how he sees you either. You don’t have to define yourself like that. (I’m still working on it myself.)

So let me share these lines with you, and hopefully they will encourage your heart as they did mine.

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“Many of us fear that our negative heart attitudes reflect who we truly are on the inside. We name ourselves: ‘I am the angry mom, the worrier, the stressed-out mom [adding: the jealous mom, the bitter mom]…” And without Christ, it’s true… But if you are a believer, you have union with Christ. This means Christ is in you. It is not Christ plus you, or Christ and then you, or Christ and not you. It is Christ in you, which means you have everything your warrior, dragon-slaying hero has.

“When you are stripped bare, when you peel away everything you believe defines you—your hobbies, dreams, skill sets, personality, weaknesses, and sinful tendencies [adding: your job]—who are you? If you are in Christ, then it is not the sinful, uncontrollable woman you fear who remains—it is Christ.

“Trust in the promises of God. Believe you are united with Christ. Exchange your worries, fears, and anger with the worship of our good and loving Father… Remember that nothing is meaningless in the Christian life. God uses wayward circumstances to reveal the waywardness of our hearts. Each day, as you feel the pressure mounting, the accusations accumulating, the temptations lurking, look to Christ to be all you need. He is strong where you are weak. He is perfect where you fail. He is your fullness when you are empty.” -Risen Motherhood Book (2019)

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We don't have to "do it all" or "be everything."
If you try that, you will fail.

We will never be enough. For ourselves, for our spouses, for our kids--no matter where we spend our week days.

Thankfully, he is.

What peace there is in that.

Hot Springs, Arkansas | Part Final

8.08.2019


I wanted to share just a few more photos and stories from our trip to Arkansas a few weeks ago. Don't worry. This post doesn't involve anymore slightly horrifying stories about bodily fluids ;)

I plan the majority (okay all) of our trips, and one thing I like to do is make a general list of things to see and places to eat before we get there. I mean, I guess probably everyone who plans a trip does this. It's just good to have an idea of some things you want to be sure and make time for! 

This was mentioned in my previous post, but while on vacation, we like to eat good food, and we had plenty of good options in Hot Springs. Saturday morning we went to Will's Cinnamon Shop and got cinnamon rolls. The kids each had their own portion of mini rolls with a side cup of icing, and they will add sprinkles for free! Jordan and I split a large cinnamon roll because we were trying to be good, but honestly we both wished we'd just gotten our own. They were delicious!
We had planned to head to the Mid-America Science Museum after cinnamon rolls, but we opted to go on a hike/walk before it got too hot in the afternoon. Plus we thought the kids might need to run off some of the sugar.

We started up a trail to the Mountain Overlook, which is where they have a large tower you can pay to go to the top of and get a great scenic view of the national forest. Jordan got ambitious and thought the kids would actually make it all the way up the trail, but I didn't get my hopes up. They enjoyed climbing the rocks and running through the forest, but we ended up stopping after a bit and carrying them all the way back down because they both said their legs got tired. We drove to the top like the adventurers we are ;) But we did get excited about the kids getting old enough to do some real hiking one day!
After everyone got hot and hungry, we went to lunch! I saw great reviews for a place called Bailey's Dairy Treat, which was supposed to have amazing burgers and really good fried rice. I'm usually slightly scared of places that claim to be good at serving both of those things, but if I've learned nothing else from growing up with my dad taking us on road trips, it's that if a place looks like a shack on the outside then the food is most likely amazing.
Bailey's certainly hit the spot! Suuuuper delicious, greasy, cheesy burgers. The kids both got hot dogs, and after having a total meltdown because our food wasn't coming fast enough, J took one bite of his hot dog and claimed he was done eating. So that was weird, but whatever. I don't try to understand toddlers. Well, sometimes I do, but I just end up being more confused haha.
After we had lunch and J took a nap (R hasn't napped in years), we went to the Mid-America Science Museum! We have a year pass to the Oklahoma City Science Museum, and no offense to Arkansas, but our science museum is way better. Just saying! But it was fun to get to see another city's science museum, and it was super hot out by this point so being able to have a space for the kids to play inside was nice.
There was this foam pit thing in the middle, and both kids stayed in there for like 45 minutes building forts, and R found a few little girls to play with. J was cracking me up. He kept throwing the foam blocks at these two boys who were at least 7 or 8 years old even after they tried to shoo him away. I probably should have gone in there and told him to stop, but it was so funny he was messing with boys like three times his age at least!

We ate dinner at a bathhouse on the main street and did a bit of walking before it was back to the Air BnB for bedtime! We were hopeful they would be super tired and pass out instantly, but J stayed awake foreeeeeeever and ended up sitting on my lap in the living room while Jordan and I watched Hitch on the TV. I guess he saw his first movie! ha. I usually would not endorse that, but it's vacation! On vacation you do things you wouldn't normally do.
All in all, this was a great first family vacation. A good drivable distance, lots of yummy food, lots of outside play time, and good memories! So far we haven't been on a vacation we wouldn't be happy to return to. I'm thankful for time off work, health, and some extra cash to able to take a long weekend trip like this.

It was challenging with the kids sometimes, and we definitely had our moments. I don't want to give the impression that everything was easy! It wasn't. There were meltdowns and tantrums and frustrating situations. But l loved having some extra time with my little family, and the good times outweighed the rough ones for sure. I wonder where we will end up going for our next trip!

Oh! And if you're wondering about car activities and how they did on the drive, check out this post I wrote a while back. Short story is that we don't (yet) do iPads or electronics in the car, and they just play and read books and do just fine! That post has some ideas for activities and things. Also, I took our Mimmo Caddy on the trip and it was the perfect thing! So handy, and I'm really glad we had it. I can verify that we did use it in real life and it was quite handy.

PLACES WE'VE TRAVELED THAT I'VE BLOGGED ABOUT
(Not in any order, and these are the ones that came to mind. I'm sure there are more.)
Branson, Missouri (with R; pregnant with J)
Charlottesville, Virginia (with R 7 months old)
Keystone, South Dakota (no kids)
Boston, Massachusetts (no kids)
Liverpool, Cambridge, York, London (UK) (no kids)
Nassau, Bahamas (30 weeks pregnant with R)
Chicago (with R 12 months old)
・ DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS