Creative Outlets and Other Things


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


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


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


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!