Watching, Listening, Eating...


Two weekends ago, I took G on her first trip! We flew to Illinois and spent a long weekend with my mom and grandma. That's a picture of her thankfully falling asleep for the last half hour of our flight after she screamed her face off for 45 minutes.

Thank you for all the support on my last post. I appreciate the comments, messages, and texts so much. It has been a hard season for us, but there is also a lot to love and a lot to be thankful for-- number one being our peace in Christ and the hope we have that this world is not our home.

Okay, now for something random. I wanted to throw it back to old-school blogging days and share a few of the things we've been eating, listening to, and watching lately.


Daily Harvest smoothies and harvest bowls. No, this is not sponsored. However, I do have a referral code I've been wanting to share with someone, because it's up to $65 off your first box ($65 off for 24 items, $40 off for 14 items), and I'm honestly considering signing Jordan up and getting a box delivered to my in-laws.

I mostly order the smoothies, although I also really like the sweet potato bowl. I've tried the flatbreads and wasn't that big of a fan. I get a box every 3-4 months, and they are nice to have on hand when I want a healthy snack. It's super easy to skip a box, add to your box, or cancel altogether. My tip for the smoothies: add a half a banana to the blender and also make sure to add liquid until it reaches your desired smoothie consistency. I've been getting Daily Harvest for years now and love it.

Use referral code RE-Y4V6AMT

We are also still eating cheeseburger macaroni. Those of you who have been around for a while may remember this recipe. It's a staple and kid favorite and one of the only things everyone will actually eat and ask for seconds. We are in such a difficult picky stage right now with everyone and it drives me absolutely bonkers.

I'm about to make Jordan his annual batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Usually I make a double batch and freeze them for his breakfast.

Listening to...

So many podcasts. I listen to podcasts all the time... while on a run, while working at home, while doing dishes in the evening. Here are a few of my favorites.

Risen Motherhood - I am loving their new series on Abundance. 
Heaven in Your Home - this is a new addition after I heard the host on a different podcast I listen to. It's all about s*x and marriage from a biblical perspective. Super interesting and definitely recommend. If you listen to it, I'd love to know what you think.

Scamanda - This series was wild.
Sympathy Pains - People on Reddit suggested this if you liked Scamanda, so I went from one crazy story to this one. People are WEIRD. Neither of these are scary, gory, or anything like that.

Currently listening to The Retrievals, also suggested from Reddit. Again, wild. Trigger warning for infertility and pregnancy loss (the latter is only mentioned and is not an actual part of the story)

Out of the Pods. I'll get to this when I talk about what I'm watching, but Love is Blind is basically my one trashy TV show binge. It's good background noise for when I'm working on my scrapbooks, and this podcast from LIB alums Deepti and Natalie gives a lot of great behind-the-scenes info about filming a reality TV show. I don't love Deepti as a host, to be honest, but Natalie is pretty funny. They did two episodes interviewing people who went on the show but their stories weren't filmed, which was interesting. Note that they do curse some.

I'm still going strong listening to the Bible chronologically using the Dwell app. You can get a few things for free, but you do have to pay to use the full app, and I highly recommend it. You can customize so many options for sound, voice, music, and also they have a ton of playlists. It's also super easy to look up books of the Bible to either read or listen to. I started January 1 listening to the Bible in a year, and I'm only about 30 days behind, which is pretty good. I've listened to the Bible most days this year and am trying to catch up so I can finish by the end of December.

I got Jordan listening to this too... we are fans of the Mo News podcast. It's a daily podcast that gives a 30-minute overview of top news stories. It's unbiased for the most part-- "just the facts," is their tagline. Both Jill and Mo live on the East Coast, and you can tell their political leaning from some of their commentary, but overall it really is a great source for unbiased news.


Right now the only thing I'm actively reading is A Popular Survey of the Old Testament by Norman Geisler, which is what we are going through in my discipleship group. It's actually been pretty interesting, talking about archeological discoveries and historians support what is written in the Bible, themes of the Old Testament, and how the entire Bible tells the story of Christ from the very beginning.

Jordan just finished reading a book our pediatrician recommended for J related to anxiety.

I have a list going of books people recommend so that when I get to the library at some point I can get a few. The last few years have been a struggle in the reading department.


Well, I've been watching the new season of Love is Blind. It's fine if you judge me.

Bravo shows showed up on Peacock this year, and so I've been going through Top Chef seasons and loving it, especially the seasons where they bring back contestants from previous years.

Jordan and I have tried to spend more time together in the evenings, and so we've gone through a few shows that we both chose together.

Special Forces just started its second season. We loved season 1 and are excited it's back, although several of the celebrities for season 2 are reality TV people, so we don't know any of them. I feel like I knew everyone from season 1, and I don't know quite as many this time. What I love about the show is that there isn't a prize and it's not about love, so there isn't all that drama to deal with (I am getting enough of that with Love is Blind ha!)

We watched the Chernobyl series on HBO. Wow. I didn't really know anything about Chernobyl, and this was very well done and super interesting (and sad).

Earlier this year we watched Jury Duty. We both enjoyed it and through it was unique and funny.

When we don't want to watch anything else, we turn on Seinfeld since it's on Netflix now. I have only seen random episodes here and there, so watching it straight through has been entertaining.

_ _ _

Anyone else watching Love is Blind? This current season is a train wreck. Yikes.

A Work in Progress (Cheers to One Year)


Our baby girl is one.

All I can say is that we truly just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and somehow we've made it a whole year. More often than not it's felt like we are barely keeping our heads above water, and this particular birthday feels like a celebration of our entire family. WE MADE IT. Not to sound dramatic, but sometimes I wasn't sure.

Four kids is... a lot. I've said for eight years now that the first year after having R and going back to work was the hardest year of my life, but this past year might have passed it as the hardest. They are at least tied, I think.

I'm pretty sure I had (have?) postpartum depression. My hormones have been absolutely bananas this year, and then I started my period a few months ago and have been SO MUCH FUN. Like, just the most chill non-angry person ever for about a week every month. Be my friend.

This year we have also been going through some psychological testing with J for a behavioral issue we've suspected for several years now. That's all I will say about that--not because it's a secret, but because I don't want to share too much about him or his difficulties in an online space. But it's been incredibly challenging to have what feels essentially like a special needs child while trying our best to parent our other two "big kids" and keep a crawling baby from choking on Legos. And have full-time jobs and feed everyone and keep at least our kitchen semi-picked up and not stress too much about how expensive fruit is and and and...

We've struggled a lot this year with our marriage, partly because we don't always agree about how to handle the kids and partly because we are both crazy stubborn and polar opposites when it comes to how we communicate. A few months ago we realized that we really needed to actively try to get back on the same page, and so we decided to revisit something we'd done way back at the beginning of our marriage. 

The first year we got married, we read the book Love and Respect together. We read one chapter a week and spent an hour or so one evening each week discussing the chapter together. It took us 6 months to read it, and we found it so helpful. We are currently reading the book again, a chapter a week and discussion on Sunday evenings. It's been twelve years since we read it last, and I know because I'd written down the dates in the front of the book. It's a very practical, helpful book that I would definitely recommend. It does approach marriage from a traditional, Christian worldview, just FYI.

I'm so thankful for so many things, and I try not to take for granted that we have four healthy, wonderful children. But it's been so hard. Maybe it wouldn't be if Jordan and I were more chill, or our kids were more chill. Maybe if we had a house large enough where no one had to share rooms, or our backyard was big enough for J to be able to kick balls as high or as hard as he wanted and they would never go over the neighbor's fence. 

I've had a hard time this year not feeling like everyone else's life was easier than mine, and I've taken a lot of social media breaks because it was too much seeing pictures of other people's kids playing nicely together or smiling families on vacation or someone's "slow morning" enjoying a homemade foam thing they film themselves pouring into the shape of a flower before their kids wake up. I mean do I have the only children on the planet who don't nap, go full speed all day, take forever to go to sleep, and then wake up at 6am ready to do it all again???? Don't answer that.

We are still very much in the process of exploring a diagnosis for J and trying to better our marriage. We fish Legos and dried up old peas out of G's mouth multiple times a day. We can't figure out how to get F to go to bed and stay there. Yes, we've tried an "ok to wake clock." He cares about it zero percent. And I haven't mentioned R yet, but let's just say I didn't expect 8-year-olds to give me the kind of attitude I expect from a 13-year-old so that's a fun surprise.

Long story short, we are a work in progress. And this past year felt. like. work.

So happy one year, Jordan. We did it. I'm so proud of us.

And happy birthday to you, G. You're one! You're adorable and funny and kind of a superstar everywhere you go for your joyful attitude and sweet smile. You love love love to eat. You only use a paci for naps and bedtime. You go to sleep easily and sleep all night. We made it a whole year of breastfeeding! You crawl everywhere and get into everything. Your favorite room to go in is the hall bathroom. We think you are trying to say some words and will miss your adorable baby babble. You love baths, love your siblings and dad, and most of all love your mama.

I truly believe that you were the bright light we needed to get us through. Jesus picked you just for our family, and I've been thankful every day of the last 365.

Parenting Milestones No One Talks About


I love going to baby showers. The anticipation and excitement of celebrating a new baby is really fun, and I love seeing all the cute clothes and fun toys people buy. 

Especially for new parents, there are a lot of unknowns. I specifically remember a conversation with my mom about what a baby wears to sleep. I had no idea if they slept in a onesie and pants, in just a sleeper... should their feet be covered? Should they wear fleece? Long sleeves? A sleep sack? Swaddle? I legitimately did not know what babies wore to go to sleep!

Thankfully, you learn as you go, and hopefully a new parent has family and friends available to call for helpful advice. Everyone talks about what to do with a baby, but once you get out of the newborn stage, there are several delightful parenting milestones no one tells you about.

Losing Teeth

Yes, we've all heard of teething--those months of babies crying because their teeth are trying to cut through their gums. But let's talk about preschoolers losing teeth. It's a really fun six-month period of time involving a lot of blood and crying.

One minute, your six-year-old is casually eating a McDonald's chicken nugget, and the next minute they're screaming with blood dripping down their face. You don't know if they accidentally stabbed themselves in the cheek with their claw fingernail you forgot yet again to trim or if they bit their lip.

Neither of those, in fact. Their tooth fell out, possibly swallowed because we can't find it. This is a true story.

We've had a loose tooth pulled out at a dentist visit, lost a tooth in the car, at school, and one time R came out holding a tooth and said she pulled it out herself. At one point it felt like we were always either dealing with a new hole, a bloody wiggly tooth, or a tooth that was just starting to be wiggly.

R was certainly less phased the longer this went on, but the first half of the tooth-losing stage was not only traumatic for her, it was traumatic for us! The teeth get so wiggly they are basically hanging on by a single thread, but somehow they are still very much attached. I'll tell you from experience, they are hard to pull out and they bleed a lot! They're also just freaky looking when it's turned halfway to the side.

J hasn't lost any teeth yet, but I'm honestly dreading it.


Everyone asks a new mom how their newborn is sleeping. 

Normalize asking people how their three-year-old is sleeping.
Mine is not, thanks for asking.

We recently moved F from a crib to a toddler bed to make room for G to move to the crib, and it is going about as well as this transition has gone the last two times, which is to say, amazingly not well.

If you have a child who just "stays in their bed when asked," I don't want to hear from you. F has finally decided to potty train, and he's a tricky trickster who realizes that if he comes out 85 times because "I need go pee," we can't very well tell him he can't go to the bathroom. Because MAYBE HE DOES. They've got a bladder the size of a fingernail, who am I to say no.

Except last night when I took him for the fourth time, he only stared at me while singing the ABCs.

He's basically an evil genius.

Growing Pains

Speaking of not getting sleep, once F finally does fall asleep, he is currently waking up 2-3 times a night crying that his legs and feet hurt. I fully believe him. I have a vivid memory of having growing pains as a child, and I know it hurt. So we get up and sit on the floor by his bed and rub his legs, which is the only thing that seems to help. Poor guy. AND poor us.

Everyone is all, "Aww, poor F." Yes, and let's not forget the parents! In a moment of dramatic desperation, I told Jordan, "People DIE due to lack of sleep." Why do people act like your newborn sleeping through the night is the end of the road? Let's be honest. If you have a child under the age of ten, you are most likely getting consistent sleep at night. (And if you are, I'm happy for you but also go away.)


I didn't realize how many things I didn't know until I had a preschooler. There's just so.many.questions. about everything all the time. And a lot of them are valid questions about how things are made and how they work. Apparently I'm just okay going through life as a dummy, because most of the questions end with me saying, "That's a good question. I guess I don't really know how that works." Sure, I could look it up or come back to it later, but I forget half the time. 

Also, have you ever realized how hard things are to explain? Even when I think, okay yes I DO know that, I still sputter around when trying to actually explain it. No wonder we all thought our parents were idiots. Obviously as an adult I realize my parents know actually everything, but I didn't fully appreciate this at the time.

The fun part of questions, through, is when they ask logical but hilarious questions. Example: I was talking to J recently about smoking and how it turns your lungs black. He thinks for a minute and then says, "Does sugar turn your lungs white?" No, but what a great question! I love how their little minds work.

One of my favorite quotes from J was when we were doing some family questions from a little Q&A game I'd bought my mother-in-law for Christmas.

Someone asked, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
J immediately said: In the mirror.

There's a lot more fun stuff, like catching vomit in your hands, wiping poop off carpet, and just in general becoming a super parent with a sixth sense for impending doom. Parenting is wild!

But I guess now that I'm thinking about it, maybe it's best we don't share all of this with parents of newborns. Stick to the easy stuff like what a baby wears to bed and silicone teething rings.

It's all fun and games until someone's tooth starts falling out.

Back to Daycare


I feel like I would be completely remiss if I didn't write about going back to work and putting my last baby in daycare. I assume the only people reading the blog at this point are those who have been around for a while, and so you will probably remember The Year of Angst, also known as The Year of Me Writing Dramatic Blog Posts about Being a Working Mom.

I have always felt a little silly calling 2016 a traumatic year. Nothing that anyone would call horrible happened to me. I went back to work full time and my first baby went to daycare. That was it. People do it all the time. And yet, it was one of the most difficult years of my life--a year that impacted the way I view motherhood, the way I view work, and the overall way I think about the decisions we all make for our families.

R started daycare January 4, 2016, and in a completely full-circle moment, G started daycare January 4, 2023. The Lord has truly been gracious to me, and over the past 3 months I have seen an answer to the prayers I prayed 7 years ago. Prayers for peace, prayers that my kids would be okay at daycare, prayers that I would find a rhythm and routine.

Confession: I can't read the posts I wrote about working and breastfeeding and daycare all those years ago. I mean, I will at some point. I don't want to completely delete them. But I feel like I was so super dramatic about everything, and they're a little embarrassing, to be honest. When I think about 2016 I just remember crying constantly. Going back to work and leaving my baby was the hardest thing I'd ever done.

I wish I could go back and tell myself so many things--how amazing our daycare is. How much the kids have loved it, and how much they've learned. How much I still enjoy my work, and that one day I really will get to work from home like I keep wishing I could.

January 4, 2023, I dropped my last baby off at daycare. With a sweet teacher named Melissa, who used to be one of R's teachers when she was a little baby too. I got in the car to drive back home and cried. But it wasn't the angst-ridden, devastated cry of the me from 2016.

The same things have been hard with all of my babies. The new routine, coming home so tired because they couldn't nap well, getting sick constantly from exposure to others. I've filled out the same "Baby's First Day" paper four times, and cried four times. The last question "What else do you want them to know?" gets me every time. They gave me 3 lines, and I'm overwhelmed.

You're only a few months old. You just got here. And yet, it's just not enough space to write all I know about you, sweet baby.

I'm so incredibly thankful to be past that first daycare drop-off experience, which was so--yes, I'll say it--traumatic for me in so many ways. But I'm also thankful to have had that experience, because it really has changed so many things about the way I view motherhood and the way I hope to be an encouragement to others. 

I guess the point of all of this is, for anyone who read my angsty posts back in the day, or for anyone who may yet stumble upon them, it all turned out okay. And I also don't want to give myself any pats on the back, because although yes, I did something hard, it was God who guided me through and God who has answered my prayers for peace. 

Working full time is not going to be the choice for everyone, and daycare is not going to be the choice for everyone. That's okay. But you CAN make that choice and be a good mom.
A full-freaking-time mom (soap box for another dayyyyy dontgetmestarted). 

And your baby will still love you the most.
And yes, you're still raising them.
And no, you won't miss all the milestones.
And yes, it's hard.

And you will be okay.
I am.

I wish I could go back and tell her that she will be too.

Things that Worked in 2022


1. Making our bed.

I have never in my life consistently made the bed. Even as a child I don't remember that being a "must" in our house. As an adult, I've never cared that much about making the bed, but early in 2022 I guess I started pregnancy nesting, because I went on an organization and buying spree for a bit. One of the things I did was get new sheets, pillows, and comforter for our bed. We had the same everything since we got married 11 years ago, and I wanted something new. I also rearranged our room completely, flipped the head of the bed to the opposite wall, moved our dresser to a different wall, and got rid of a bookcase I didn't like and moved a different bookcase in there. 

After all that, I loved how fresh and clean our room felt. The rest of our house is a disaster most of the time with kid toys and dishes and random paper scraps (whyyyy is there always paper everywhere???). I wanted our bedroom to be one area where the kids didn't go and where at least one thing was consistently clean. Strangely, after never having had a bed-making habit, this one instantly stuck, and I've made the bed most mornings since. There are occasionally days where I just don't get to it, but a good 5 days out of 7 our bed is made. It's weirdly a habit that brings me joy. Who knew? Planning to keep this rolling into 2023. (The kids' beds do not ever get made, in case you were wondering. On the list of things I care about that's not even on there.)

2. Silicone mat for dishes.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like dishes rules their lives. It's a necessity for living, but it's not my favorite chore. Jordan and I have gotten into many a fight about the dishes (and, ahem, about how to properly load a dishwasher). The sink quickly fills up with dirty dishes, and then the pile just sits there staring at me while I procrastinate. The full sink also keeps us from ever cleaning larger pots and pans, so those sit on the counter taking up space and staring at me while I further procrastinate dealing with any of it and building up resentment toward Jordan for not doing it either.

A few months ago I got an idea to buy a large silicone dish mat to put on the counter to the right of the sink. I realized that part of the problem with the dishes piling up in the sink was because we didn't always have time right then to actually rinse and put dishes in the dishwasher, or the dishwasher was full of clean dishes but we didn't have time at the moment to empty it, thus nowhere except the sink to put dirty dishes. The silicone mat has been an absolute game changer. Maybe my best idea from last year, honestly. This probably seems obvious, but it hadn't occurred to me before, and it's been working so well. 

Now, we immediately rinse dirty dishes and stack them on the mat, keeping them out of the sink and waiting to be loaded in the dishwasher. I've been able to keep up with larger pots/pans much easier, and my sink is usually empty, which is just nicer to look at. I've also found that it's faster to load the dishwasher when I have a stack of stuff already rinsed and ready to go vs. rinsing and loading one by one. And, I think the faucet runs less this way too.

3. Breakfast menu.

J is very concerned about food. He constantly asks what we are eating, when he can eat, and is also unfortunately in the worst picky stage so he thinks almost everything is "nasty." He usually says this with a plugged nose just to further drive home his disgust. Breakfast was always an issue, because he would wake up with a specific idea in his mind of what he wanted. A lot of the time we either didn't have it, or I didn't have time to make it, which caused a huge meltdown that completely derailed our morning routine. Or, each kid wanted something different to eat, and I didn't have time for that either.

I thought of a breakfast menu but put off actually trying it for a while because I felt too lazy to implement it. However, it's been completely amazing and something we are continuing in 2023. I gave each day of the work/school week a breakfast item: toast, cereal, oatmeal, frozen Eggo waffles, muffins. I try to always have at least one kind of fruit on hand to offer throughout the week with the main item, mainly bananas, strawberries, and blueberries are the favorites. So, for example Mondays are toast days. We have toast, and that's all I'm offering for breakfast, along with fruit. If you don't want toast, you can eat the fruit. If you don't want either, that's fine, but then you won't eat. I do tell them that any day of the week they don't like what we are eating they can eat toast. Because toast is easy and R and J can make it themselves.

It has worked so well with the kids because by now they know what food goes with what days. I knew from the start that there would be days they didn't want what was offered, but I just remind them that today is Monday, and we are having toast, and if you don't want to eat it, that's fine. I know this won't be a good system forever, but it's working right now and has eliminated arguments about food in the mornings. It also helps because on the weekends I make sure we have everything we need for breakfast during the week, and if we don't have something (ran out of cereal or milk, for example) I will make sure to go to the store before Monday morning.

4. Dinner menu.

Can you tell I've been trying to simplify my life? ha. The breakfast menu was going so well that a few months ago I made a dinner menu. This one is a lot less rigid than breakfast is, but it's really been helping with weeknight dinner decision fatigue. I get overwhelmed by the endless recipe options and end up defaulting to the same few ideas over and over. I decided to try out assigning each day of the work week to a food genre, which I liked as a looser version of an official meal plan. I've never been able to keep up with meal planning, but this has been working great for us. 

Your categories will of course change depending on what your family eats, but ours currently are: pasta, tex-Mex, meat, leftovers, pizza (we don't have a breakfast or dinner plan for weekends). The "meat" day is extremely loose. This literally means just something with a meat as the main ingredient--for example, a pot roast, chicken breasts, pork chops. Tex-Mex usually means tacos or nachos, although I have made a few other things. We do homemade pizza every Friday, and that's been nice for the kids because they like it and it's easy. On Thursdays we usually have several leftovers from the previous weekend and week that we need to eat, so that's a random day. Similar to shopping for our breakfast menu, this dinner menu is great because if I don't have time that week to come up with specific meals for each day, I can at least make sure I have ingredients for the categories (by that I mean, making sure we have spaghetti sauce, making sure we have tortillas, etc.).

_ _ _

Those are just a few things we implemented in 2022 that worked and that I want to continue in 2023. Even just writing out that short list was encouraging to me! I feel sometimes like everything is a giant mess and I can't keep it together, but this year we found a few things that have worked really well for our family's current stage of life. I'm interested to see what else we can find to continue to improve this year!