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.

//

“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)

//

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)

Hot Springs, Arkansas | Photos + A Story about Poop that Doesn't Involve Either of My Kids

8.05.2019


I uploaded all the pictures from our trip that I took on my big camera, and there are way more of J than of R! I feel a little guilty about it, but it seemed like on this trip for some reason whenever I wanted to take a picture, R was nowhere to be found or she just wouldn't stop running around. If you have multiple kids, do you ever feel like you take more pictures of one than the other sometimes? I definitely didn't mean to! 

Anyway, I've digressed before I've even started. They pretty much both never stopped running, but by the end of the trip we could tell they were tired. They kept asking to be carried everywhere and we had to bust out the strollers. Their little legs aren't used to the kind of hills they had in Arkansas! (It felt like a mountain to us lol, but I'm sure people in the other parts of the country would chuckle at that.)
I know not everyone would choose Arkansas for a vacation spot, but I wanted somewhere within driving distance but longer than just 3 hours. Since we drive to Texas frequently, it has stopped feeling like 3 hours in the car exactly counts as a "trip." I wanted somewhere new, somewhere low key, and even though the kids are definitely not at an age where they can be formerly hiking anywhere, they both are obsessed with being outside, and I loved the idea of introducing them to an actual forest with lots of tall trees and rocks to climb on. Hot Springs did not disappoint! 

We were there 3 nights + 2.5 days and didn't even see everything I had on my list. We'd be happy to go back and definitely recommend it as a vacation spot with kids or without :)
I found us a cute little Air Bnb house about 3 minutes away (driving) from the main touristy street. Side note: I am obsessed with Air Bnb. I've had such success finding great places to stay for good prices and honestly never had a bad experience (knock on wood!). 

Back in the day, Hot Springs was the place to go if you wanted to soak in a bath house, and the main street has a row of beautiful bath houses you can go in and tour. The water that comes up from the ground is literally hot. That was one of the neatest things! They have natural springs and fountains that constantly flow, and when you touch the water it's hot. We could see steam rising from the water! The kids were more interested in climbing the stairs over and over and over (and over) than the water, but Jordan and I thought it was super neat. We kept looking at each other and saying, "It's HOT. So crazy!" ha.

Friday morning we ate breakfast at The Pancake Shop, which was on the main street. We honestly felt like the food was a little overpriced, but it was really good and definitely an "experience" type of place where locals go and also where it's fun for tourists because it's got a unique small-town vibe. So that's not to say we don't recommend it, just that you shouldn't go expecting to eat for a bargin. BUT. Good food is a high priority for us on vacation, so we don't really try too hard to eat cheap, and we have no regrets. That's why we budget in advance for all of our trips.

R can't read yet obviously, but she was looking at the menu like this for a solid minute, and it was cracking me up. This would totally be a good posed photo anyway, but it's totally candid! She kills me.

Probably the weirdest/coolest things we did was visit the local Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. We went in the morning on Friday and were there for a few hours until it was time for lunch. The petting zoo has been family owned since 1902, and it was top on my list of kid-friendly events. 

When we were paying, they asked if we wanted to pay $5 to feed the alligators. We said sure. Jordan and I both were imaging a giant slab of rabbit or something we toss into an alligator pen, but it was actually just pieces of hot dog on a stick (much less stressful and obviously makes way more sense). I honestly didn't think the kids would want to do it, but they both did! The guy was nice and let them do it twice, so I was able to take video the first time and pictures the second time.

The guy also pulled an alligator out of the pool for us to touch, which was neat! J touched it, but R didn't want to and we didn't force her.
The zoo was pretty small, and alligators took up the main portion (the photo of all the alligator by the tree is about 1/3 of the total amount they had in that pen), but there was also a tamer side where the kids got to feed goats and horses with pieces of bread and pet turtles and bunny rabbits. They loved it!

Okay I have another post with photos from our trip, but I can't not tell you the story of what happened to me on the drive to Arkansas. Jordan will be horrified for the rest of our lives, and I'm pretty sure I'll never live it down. This is also mildly (okay a lot) embarrassing, but I haven't had a funny story to tell here in ages, so you're welcome. I think. You might actually hate me for telling you this, but let's just see what happens.

Having kids that are potty trained is great for the fact that I don't have to spend money on diapers and don't have to wipe bottoms, but it definitely makes car rides, especially long ones, take forever. We could normally make it all the way to Texas without stopping, but R has us pull over to use the bathroom about every hour or so. The drive to Arkansas was no different, and we kept stopping to get out and let her use the bathroom.

So we were finally only about an hour from Hot Springs, and R says she has to use the bathroom. I had to also, and I told Jordan to pull over at the next place he saw. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of the National Forest by this point, and there weren't just McDonald's on the side of the road. We wound through the mountain (hill?), and I saw a rest area, but Jordan was moving too quickly and we passed it. He didn't believe me that there was a bathroom there anyway, even though I swear I saw the little symbol for a toilet on the sign.

He said he was going to turn around and go back, but the road was narrow and there really wasn't a good place to do it. We go around a bend and see a little path leading into the woods with a gravel area large enough to park a car and decide to stop and pee in the forest. I put my Chacos on and grabbed the pack of wet wipes and walked into the trees, where I immediately started panicking that I was going to find a snake. I was mildly freaking out, imagining squatting to pee and getting bitten by one, and I wasn't totally paying attention to where I was walking. I did my business and walked back to the car.

When I opened the car door, I smelled poop and checked J's diaper because I thought he might need a diaper change, but he was dry. So I figured he just farted, and I got R out of her carseat and took her back into the woods to pee. I was really bad at holding her in a squat, and she got pee all over her flip flop, which was completely my fault. Unfortunately that did not end up being our biggest problem.

We walked back to the car, and Jordan headed out down the trail to pee. I was helping R balance on one foot while I wiped her shoe down, when I heard Jordan yell: "Did you poop out here?"

I yelled back: "No, I just peed."
And he goes: "Well someone did, and it looks like someone stepped in it. There's half a footprint ... Um, did you step in it?"
"What? No." Super insulted he would imply such a thing. I am a lady.

Then I remembered the faint smell of poop when I was at the car before and looked down at my shoes.

The entire right heel of my Chaco was covered in poop. I repeat: I STEPPED IN ANOTHER HUMAN'S POOP.

Jordan was, obviously, horrified. To make matters worse, because I'd been bending down to help R go to the bathroom, the poop had smeared on the back of my leg! I wish I were exaggerating, but this did, in fact, happen in my actual real life.

We used almost an entire pack of wet wipes and a whole bottle of hand sanitizer wiping off my leg and my foot. Jordan poured his water bottle full of water on my shoe to get as much of the... matter... off as possible before putting it all in a plastic bag. (I should note that he requested I completely throw my shoes away, to which I put my poop-covered foot down and said he was insane and I was going to wash them like a normal human.) Jordan couldn't stop talking about how ridiculous I was for not paying attention enough to notice a pile of POOP ON THE GROUND.

I informed him I was too preoccupied with getting bitten in the butt by a snake to worry about poop. And also WHO POOPS IN THE MIDDLE OF A TRAIL???? Pee is one thing, but if you're going to take a dump, you should move off into the leaves or something, not leave a pile for unsuspecting victims who are terrified of coming across a reptile in the middle of a national forest.

So we all got back in the car, and Jordan gave me the silent treatment in protest of my condition until we got to the next gas station, where I spent 15 minutes in the bathroom using the soap to clean both of my legs and feet and the bottom of my shoe. Thankfully no one came in or they would have seen me standing barefoot washing the entire bottom half of my body in the sink like I was a homeless person.

GOOD TIMES.

When we left Hot Springs, we took the same road and drove past the spot of The Incident. Then we stopped at the original rest stop that I had seen and wanted to stop at, where there was indeed an actual bathroom. We could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble + a half hour of our lives + the cost of a pack of wet wipes + one bottle of purple meadow hand sanitizer. 

Moral of the story: I am always right.
Second moral: I apparently need to pay more attention to where I'm walking.
Third moral: Be less afraid of hypothetical snakes.

There's more to come from Hot Springs! Though thankfully no more stories as ridiculous as this one. Just regular things like, you know, not stepping in a random person's human waste.

Also, you guys blew me away with your survey responses! I'll leave it up for a few more days. Then I shall collect my thoughts and share. So interesting to read everyone's opinions.

3-Question Survey: Sharing Kid Photos Online

8.04.2019

Hello! I promise I am working on a post about our trip to Arkansas. It will probably be in more than one part because I keep getting interrupted from the one I'm working on now ;) But in the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about what to share about the kid online ever since R was born. I've written about it twice on the blog (here first and then here), and my thoughts have continued to evolve in the two years since I wrote the second post.

It got me to thinking that I'm really curious to hear what others think about this topic! This is by no means a serious research study or anything, but I put together a 3-question survey that I'd love for you to fill out if you have a minute. Even if you don't/don't yet have kids! 

I posted about this on my blog Facebook page and my Instagram and have 85 response. I'd love to get to 100 and have a nice round number, so if you haven't taken it, please consider! It should be embedded below, or you can click here.

This is 100% anonymous! I can't see anything about anyone who fills this out. Thanks so much. I've found all the responses so interesting so far and have been asked by multiple people to share them when I write my follow-up post, so I plan to!


・ DESIGNED BY ECLAIR DESIGNS