• family,  parenting

    5 Tips to Establish a Routine for Your Baby

    Before Caleb was born, I read gobs of books about preparing for labor and childbirth, but I didn’t devote much time to reading about what to do once the baby actually arrived. In my mind, I’ve kept two other tiny humans alive since they were two and three; how different could a baby be?

    As time went on and I got closer and closer to having Caleb, I thought more and more about what I wanted our lives to look like with three kids. Three is a big number — it means we’re officially outnumbered — and according to the experts, having three kids is harder than four!

    Here’s what I knew I wanted to happen:

    • I wanted the baby to sleep good and not wake up his brothers.
    • I wanted to continue to have structure in our home. (If you can’t tell, I’m pretty big on routine.)
    • I wanted the baby to be a good eater.
    • I wanted to be able to have some time to relax and do things to take care of myself. (I know that may come across as selfish to some, but if I’m not taking good care of myself, how can I take good care of my kids?)
    • I wanted the baby to be able to adjust well no matter where he was and be able to cope in different situations.
    • I also wanted him to sleep well and through the night. (That was a BIG one!)

    Basically, the answer to what I wanted our lives to look like all boiled down to a good routine. It’s proven that routines help babies adapt and in my own life, I know how “off” I feel when I’m out of my normal routine.

    Kevin and I are both pretty structured when it comes to things with our older boys and we can definitely tell if they’re off their routine. While they’re older now and we aren’t as strict with bedtime every night as we were when they were younger, we are still fairly structured with their nighttime routine. Even going to bed thirty minutes later than normal for them makes a huge difference in the mornings at home. If routine affects my older kids, I knew it would for sure affect our baby.

    Here are a few things I did to help Caleb adapt to a routine. But first, please note that a routine shouldn’t start on day one.  In fact, I’d encourage you to wait six to eight weeks before beginning to develop a routine especially related to eating and sleeping. When babies are first born, they need to eat and sleep so often. You shouldn’t ever deprive your baby of milk and sleep for the sake of a routine. That said, Caleb was a pretty easy baby and became very predictable as he grew and we started setting a routine. I could tell time off of when he ate and napped.

    1. Take note of your baby’s cues.

    From day one, I kept track of when and how much Caleb ate, slept, and had dirty diapers. I did this to make sure he was eating, sleeping, and having enough dirty diapers, but also because I wanted to see what seemed normal to him. When he was a few weeks old, I was able to use this to tweak his normal sleep and eating pattern into a good routine for all of us.

    As a mom, you really will know what your baby’s cries mean. You’ll know if it’s a cry because your baby is hungry or because he just wants to be held. I found that knowing what was normal for Caleb was especially helpful when he wanted to eat more for a few days or seemed to not sleep as well during a growth spurt.

    2. Implement changes slowly.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and you can’t expect to get your baby on a schedule overnight. It definitely takes time and it definitely changes as your baby grows. Caleb’s schedule at two months was drastically different than his schedule at four months. Just a few weeks make a huge difference in the life of a baby.

    3. Focus on consistency.

    I chose to be very consistent with Caleb from the beginning. For instance, when I started bathing him, I did the same thing every day at almost the same time. I also kept his nighttime routine consistent.

    At first, I gave Caleb baths in the morning after his first nap. He’d wake up, eat, play, and sleep, then eat again and take a bath. I also started off bathing him in his bathtub. During bath time, literally from almost day one, I would sing songs to him and point out his eyes, nose, ears, mouth, arms, legs, tummy, and feet. After his bath, I’d get him dressed for the day and we’d play in his room before reading some books and putting him down for his next nap.

    A month or so before I started back to work, I transitioned his baths to nighttime because I knew that would be easier for all of us when I went back to work. Even though the time was different, I kept the same routine.

    4. Be adaptable.

    The best advice I can give you on getting into a routine is to be adaptable. You can read hundreds of articles, books, and blog posts (like this one) about getting your child into a routine, but you have to remember that every baby is different. While there are general time frames to follow, your child may require more or less sleep/food than a typical baby his age.

    I’d also encourage you to look at your regular life and how that schedule impacts it. Personally, I wanted to have good amount of time to play with Caleb at night after work, so I didn’t ever put him down for the night at 7 pm as many programs encourage. I feel very blessed that the school he attends is really intent on following the parents’ schedule for infants before transitioning them to a more standard schedule all the kids are on around one which helped me tremendously. Caleb was able to take a late afternoon nap so when we got home, even at four or five months old, he was able to stay up until about 8 which gave me a few good hours of playtime with him.

    5. Have a plan.

    Finally, I think it’s so important to know in advance what you want to do when it comes to sleep and feeding. I’ll talk specifically about sleep here, but next week, I will share what we did when it came to feeding Caleb.

                           Do you want to let your baby cry it out?

                           Are you co-sleeping?

                           Will your baby nap in the crib?

    Those are all things you need to think about. And remember, there’s no right or wrong way when it comes to these things. As long as the baby is sleeping safely (no blankets, bumpers, etc.), it really comes down to your personal preference.

    We kept Caleb in the Bassinest in our room until he was five months old for nighttime, but he started napping in his crib at about eight weeks. I knew he’d nap in a crib at school, so I didn’t want that to be foreign to him. Fortunately, we didn’t have an issue with this transition.

    When it came time to transition him to his crib overnight, we were met with a few bumps though. After some trial and error, we determined that he needed socks on to sleep. If his feet get cold, he wakes up. He also needs his paci, and thanks to a friend’s advice, I put several pacifiers in his crib so if he wakes up without one in his mouth, he’s able to grab another and go back to sleep.

    I found it extremely helpful to follow an actual plan when it came to transitioning down on the number of naps Caleb took. I downloaded the Moms on Call app and used it for this. Having a guideline of how to transition and when was very useful and took the stress out of this. As we transitioned his naps slowly, he began to sleep longer stretches at night and by 8 weeks old, he was sleeping through the night. (He was formula fed and it’s proven that formula fed babies are able to go longer stretches without milk, so he had everything he needed. He also went through times when he was teething and in a growth spurt where he woke up multiple times for a bottle, but as a whole, he started sleeping through the night at eight weeks.)

    All in all, having a routine works best for our family. I thrive on routine and structure and it seems that my kids do, too. That said, it’s important to not stress yourself out about staying on an exact schedule. If you have a good routine, I’ve found that deviating from it slightly will not cause a problem. I always plan ahead when I know we’ll be far off of our routine and that has worked for us. Remember, there is trial and error involved in setting and sticking to a routine, but it’s definitely worth the effort it takes.

     

    Do you have a routine for your kids?

    What’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

    Have you stuck with a routine as your kids have grown or slowly let go?

  • faith,  family,  running,  weekend

    Weekend Wrap Up | May 7, 2018

    We had such a nice weekend!

    I spent Friday traveling for work and listening to a ton of podcasts. I’ve only recently — as in the last two weeks — gotten into podcasts. Where have I been? Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast is my new favorite!

    My mom is a high school English and music teacher and Friday night, she had a play. We took Caleb to Neverland to see Peter Pan. Y’all, we were shocked that he sat still for an hour. He was totally mesmerized. He also enjoyed running around the stage after the show.

    We stayed home most of Saturday which was really nice. After breakfast, Kevin did some yard work and I ran a 10K with Caleb around the neighborhood. I ran the 10K in 48:30 (7:48 pace) which certainly is slow compared to my normal speed, but I was pleased with that while pushing a 26 pound baby in a jogging stroller! He fell asleep on the last mile. I took advantage of his short nap and sat outside and finished reading my lesson for Sunday school.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m horrible about washing my car and the place I usually take it just closed. Since it was so nice out, I decided to wash my car and Kevin asked his truck. I wish I had pictures of Caleb helping. He had a blast with the water and hose!

    Later Saturday afternoon we ran out to do some Mother’s Day shopping and pick up our groceries for the week.

    That night, I cooked a Hello Fresh meal for dinner. It was so good!

    Our boys came home from being on vacation in the Bahamas with their mom Saturday and it was so great to have them back! That week was so long without them. They had an awesome time! We’ve been enjoying hearing all about it and Caleb is sure glad “Ka” and “Cee” are back!

    We had a low key day yesterday. We picked up McAllister’s after church and then I bribed my boys to take a photo.

    While Caleb napped, I did a 5-miler in the heat. I’m trying to get conditioned to run in our heat again. Yesterday was definitely a step in the right direction. I did 5 in 36:03 (7:12/mile ), so I was happy.

    When I got back from the run, I was going to update my sign with a verse for the week, but K.C. took over. This is sweeter than any Mother’s Day card could be!

    Last night, my in-laws and niece came over to grill steaks for dinner. My sister and her boyfriend stopped by to visit, too. It’s nice ending the weekend with family!

    To wrap up our fun weekend, yesterday was two years since I found out I was pregnant with Caleb. After years of not knowing if I’d be able to get pregnant and then maintain a pregnancy, God blessed us with the incredible news that we were going to have a baby! This precious little boy fills my heart with so much love and laughter. He giggles, smiles, and just exudes happiness. He is the answer to prayers I’ve prayed since I was a young teenager.

    I say all this to give you hope. If you’re going through a tough time related to infertility or something entirely different, God will provide. He may not do it in the way you thought (there were years of trials and stress leading up to a positive pregnancy test that ended in miscarriage a few months later and a few months before I surprisingly got pregnant with Caleb), but He will provide. While I still don’t understand why it happened the way it did, why I lost a baby, or why it was so hard to just get pregnant (and I probably never will), I can say with true conviction that God is good. He was with me every single step of the way and He’s also right there with you.

  • faith

    Shine Your Light

    You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
    You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
    Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) emphasis mine

    I often sing “This Little Light of Mine” to Caleb as we are in the car together each morning. During prayers with our older children, I always ask God to help them shine their lights for Him. And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the light that I shine to others. Is my light bright and pointing others towards the Lord and a life of abundant joy? Is my light blinking like a flashlight that’s soon to run out of batteries? Or is my light barely able to be seen like the embers in a dying fire?

    While I wish that my light could always be as bright as the sun, I know that’s not always the case. Life gets in the way. Things happen. Daily stresses come into play. Instead of thinking of those distractions as pieces that diminish or even extinguish my light, I need to reshape my mind to approach all situations, even the unpleasant ones, as times I can be the light for others.

    We all play so many different roles – wife, mom, friend, employee/employer, volunteer, and on and on, and in each of these roles, we have people looking to us. I hope that in all my roles, those around me see God’s light.

    Does this mean I have to be perfect? Does this mean I can’t get frustrated or upset? Does this mean I have to have it all together? No, and thank goodness, because I’m certainly not those things! What it means is that I need to live in a way that shines God’s light.

    If I’m having a rough day at work, instead of snapping at someone for walking in while I’m in the middle of preparation for a big project, I can be gentle and kind and put my focus on that person.

    If my kids are bickering over something (more than likely Nerf guns and what games to play in my house), instead of fussing, I can try to solve the disagreement in a quiet manner. If they don’t want to do homework, want a short order meal, and just won’t listen, I can take a deep breath instead of getting upset.

    If I’m in the middle of something and someone calls me for something, I can talk for a few minutes to make sure there’s nothing that has to be done and then politely call back later.

    I don’t know about you, but as I sit here thinking about ways I can shine God’s light, I think about many little things that I can do differently to show others Jesus.

    Being the light for others can be as simple as a smile. It can be a genuine “how are you?” when you actually want to know how the other person is. It can be paying it forward in the coffee drive-thru, an anonymous purchase of someone’s lunch, or a quick “I’ve been thinking about you.”

     

    It’s so easy to get wrapped up into me, me, me that we forget about those around us – even those closest to us. We all have things going on – stresses, decisions to make, things we wish we could change – but the way we act under these pressures and react to those around us whether they’re in our home or people we pass by on the street each day, show what we’re made of and Who we worship.

    Let your light shine. There’s always a light shining on you by the audience around you, but let the light within you shine brighter. Be Jesus to the world.

  • goals,  month in review

    May Goals + April Rewind

    When the month turns to May, I immediately begin to think of all things summer. The beach, swimming, sunscreen, ice cream, fireworks, lazy days, laughter, and summer heat. In my mind, May is that time of anticipation for all the fun to come over the next few months. That said, we have a really fun May ahead of us, but before I get to that and my goals for the “pause” month, here’s a quick rewind to April. I’d love for you to join in today, too! Use the #maygoalsaprilrewind on Instagram to share your recap of April and goals for May! 

    April 2018 Rewind

    Now on to May!

    May 2018 Goals

    • Finish Caleb’s baby album. I started on this around Christmas, but I’m not quite done. I want to wrap up this project this month.
    • Read three books. I’m currently reading The Light Within Me by Ainsley Earhardt. I have
    • Run two races. I’d like to finish in the low 20s in one of these.
    • Start my Summer Bible plan. One of my goals for this year is to read the Bible through, but to be honest, I’m not doing very well with it. I’m reading my Bible, but sticking to the plan I started with has been challenging. I am using a plan on the Bible App, but I really miss reading out of my actual Bible. (I still buy books as opposed to the Kindle edition. I just can’t put down the real thing!) During church Sunday, I found an old Summer Bible Reading Plan that gets you through the Bible in 90 days. I’m going to start this today. I am not going to try to do it all in 90 days, but I am going to try to read half of the daily passages each day so I can finish before the end of the year. I also got out a new journal to use along with this.
    • Organize Caleb’s closet. Please tell me I’m not the only person in the world who puts out of season items other places. In our house, all our kids’ closets and the guest room closet have some of mine and Kevin’s things in them. It’s time to to find new places for our stuff (or purge those things we don’t need). I’m going to start with Caleb’s closet because I think it’ll be the easiest.
    • Determine a new design for our laundry room shelving. I don’t think I shared this here, but a few weeks ago, we had a major problem in our laundry room. An entire cabinet fell down. We don’t know what happened. All we know is Kaden went in to get some candy (yes, I keep candy in the laundry room) and an entire cabinet unit was on the ground. Things were mashed and smashed and broken. It was just a mess. I have a few ideas of how I’d like to fix this room and want to finalize the idea portion this month.
    • Clean out the closet under the stairs, do new pieces for the mantle, and a new centerpiece for our dining room table. These three things are always on my list I feel like, but I just haven’t done them. Our den opens all the way to the second story of our house which means I really need something tall on the mantle. The arrangements I’ve had on either side of the mirror have been there for a while, so I’m ready to do something new. I also need to go through the coat closet which really becomes the catch-all closet.

    Those are my goals for May. In addition to those things I really want to get accomplished, we have some fun things to look forward to.

    • My sister graduates from Clemson next week! We can’t wait to watch her walk across the stage.
    • Mother’s Day is next weekend. I always enjoy this weekend.
    • I have two races planned.
    • My summer schedule officially starts this month, so I’m looking forward to more time at home with my little ones.

     

    What fun things do you have planned for May?

    What are your goals this month?

  • baby,  motherhood,  parenting

    10 Baby Products You Can’t Live Without | The First Six Months

    When I was pregnant with Caleb, I scoured the Internet for lists of “must have” baby items. I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed as a new mom, but I also didn’t want a lot of excess. I’m definitely not the mom who wanted five different types of pacifiers or three kinds of swaddlers (Caleb didn’t like to be swaddled at all, so I’m doubly glad I didn’t buy a lot of those.). I wanted enough gear that would make our lives easier as we transitioned to a family of five and not things that would barely be used like a diaper genie or wipe warmer.

    So what did we use? Here are the 10 items that definitely made our lives easier the first 6 months.

    Halo Bassinest
    Caleb in his Bassinest on his first night at home!

    HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Bassinet – I am so glad we were gifted the HALO Bassinest! Initially, I had grand plans of putting the baby in his crib in the nursery from the first night we were home, but the voice of reason (ahem, my husband) convinced me that getting up multiple times in the night with a newborn was going to be challenging at first. I’m glad I changed my tune. It was nice having Caleb in our room for both the ease and comfort. I found I was able to sleep better with him right beside me. We were originally going to transition him to his room and the crib for nights at six months, but when he started pulling up around five months, we quickly moved him to his nursery. He started napping in his crib around two months, so we didn’t have any trouble with the transition. I highly recommend this HALO Bassinest!

     

    Boppy

    Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, babyImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, babyImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, baby

    Boppy Newborn Lounger – The Bobby was awesome. I loved being able to put Caleb on this while I got some things done as well as for tummy time. We used this all the time until he started rolling over. Our boys loved having him on the boppy on the floor with them, I loved it for when I was getting ready, and Caleb just really seemed to enjoy his boppy time.

     

    most wanted item - Britax® B-Agile 3/B-Safe 35 Travel System Black

    Britax B-Agile/B Safe Travel System – I am so happy with the choice we made on the baby seat/stroller combo. This was the item I was most concerned with. I wanted the safest seat that was also easy to carry and this one definitely fit all the requirements. While it is a little pricier than some travel systems, it is definitely worth it. There’s a one-click system to loaded the seat in the car or the stroller. The stroller is very easy to use, too. I can open it with one hand.

    While we obviously use the seat each day, we also use the stroller a lot more than I anticipated. Even though he’s older and we have an umbrella stroller that’s so lightweight, I find that 8/10 times, I still use this stroller. Caleb seems to be more comfortable in it, it has a shade, and I can throw my bag under the stroller.

    In the Tula at a few weeks old.

    Tula Baby Carrier – The Tula is just great! When Caleb was little, I used it inside and outside while I played with our big boys. As he’s gotten older, I still use it a good bit. Caleb has ridden hundreds of miles in the Tula whether for long walks down the beach or hiking in the mountains. The carrier is still really comfortable for me and he’s 26 pounds. The waistband is really supportive and my back does not hurt even after hiking two or more hours with him in it.

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    Angel Care Baby Bath Support – We loved this baby bath tub. I used it from his first bath until he could sit up in the tub well enough for me not to be scared. I loved that I could just put this in the tub instead of having to fill up something separate for him. He has always loved bath time and it was so cute watching him kick his little feet while he was in this.

    Baby Einstein Activity Jumper – We used this a lot! This is usually for older kids, but I wanted to go ahead and include it on this list because we started using it as soon as Caleb could sit up really well. His feet couldn’t touch the floor at first (even on the lowest setting), so we put pillows below him. He loved the little red bird on it.

     

    Image may contain: one or more people, people sleeping and baby

    Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer – This bouncer was very useful! Caleb loved being in it. He didn’t seem to be crazy about the vibrate function, but he loved the music. He napped in this some. I used it a lot in the kitchen while cooking or while we ate dinner.

    Motorola Digital Baby Monitor with Two Cameras – The monitor we have is out of stock, but this is a similar one. I didn’t really have a preference on a monitor. I knew I wanted a camera, but that was all. Target had a great deal on this one on Black Friday, so I ordered it. We don’t use the dual cameras with Caleb, but our big boys have enjoyed using them when they play spy games! I love that I can speak into the monitor and Caleb can hear it in his room. I also like that I can play music through it. I’ve been really happy with this.

     

    Image may contain: one or more people

    Infantino Play Gym and Fun TeePee – This was a great gift! Caleb’s big brothers enjoy it as much as he does. We used this for tummy time and mobile play at first and now it’s just something fun for him to have for playtime.

     

    Sophie la Girafe Teether

    Sophie la Girafe – This is the cutest thing ever and Caleb played with and chewed on his all the time!

     

    There you have it: the 10 items that made the first six months easier! I’ll share things we used the rest of his first year later. And if you’re interested in other baby gear that worked well for us like bottles, pacifiers, and clothing, I’m happy to put a post together on those things, too!

     

  • gifts,  motherhood

    Mother’s Day Gift Guide

    Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I can hardly believe it. I feel like I just finished Christmas shopping and over a quarter of 2018 has come and gone. That said, Mother’s Day is a great way to show our mom’s just how much we care for them with a little something special. Today, I’m sharing some gift ideas to make your Mother’s Day shopping easier. (Take notes, babe!)

    Lisa Leonard Designs Jewelry

    stacking rings {sterling silver}

    (Photo via Lisa Leonard Designs)

    For Christmas, I received three of these stackable rings with my boys’ names. It was one of my favorite gifts.

    Kendra Scott

    Ethan Gold Pendant Necklace In Aqua Howlite

    Necklace 

     

     

    I love to read and I absolutely love to be given books. There are a few great books just released that will make great Mother’s Day gifts.

    Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

    Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering – my sweet mom surprised me yesterday and let me know she has this for me! I can’t wait to dig in (literally!)!

    The Light Within Me

    The Light Within Me: An Inspirational Memoir – I read an excerpt of this book a few days ago and can’t wait to read the whole book. Plus, she’s a South Carolina girl like me!

    The Secret to Southern Charm – I know I keep talking about this book, but seriously, it was so good!

     

    Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life – I’m dying to read this book (hint, hint!)!

     

    Grateful Bags

    I LOVE my Grateful Bags! I love that the monograms are interchangeable. I have a few different styles that go with my bags and love them. I use the tote for work, have a clutch that’s great for a night out, and two smaller bags that will hold my phone, lipstick, and keys. Trust me — this is a great gift!

    MantraBands

     

    Bracelets - Always In My Heart

    I love my MantraBands. They have been a go-to gift for me and everyone I’ve gifted with one has loved them (or so they say!).

    In addition to the above, anything that can be used to make the moms in your life feel pampered are great – mani/pedi, bath salts, bubble bath, or nice pajamas.  Cute journals, chocolates, and handmade cards are always loved, too. Whatever you choose to give, remember, moms are special and more than anything, they just want to be reminded how lucky you feel to have them.

    **We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
  • What's Up Wednesday

    What’s Up Wednesday | April 25, 2018

    It’s time again for What’s Up Wednesday with The Larson Lingo, Mix & Match Mama, and Sheaffer Told Me To!

    whatsupwedupdated

    wuwquestions-edit

    What we’re eating this week…

    To tell you the truth, so far, it’s been take out or a grilled cheese. The beginning of this week was really busy, so I didn’t even attempt to cook dinner. I plan to have stew beef in the crockpot tomorrow night and steaks Friday, so that should count for something, right?

    What I’m reminiscing about…

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this past weekend. It was so much fun to race again and spend all day Saturday just doing things we wanted to do.

    Don’t ask me why, but I’ve also been thinking about when Caleb was born. A colleague is expecting a baby which has brought that up a few times. You can check out Caleb’s birth story here and here.

    What I’m loving…

    The fact that the new baby prince is here! I am so excited! Now if only we could find out his name! I’m going with Alexander Philip James.

    What I’m working on…

    I made a list of a few things around the house I want to organize (again), so I’m slowly going through those things. It’s going to be summer soon which means I have a slightly different work schedule and I want to not have some house projects on my mind then.

    What I’m watching/reading…

    I just finished The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey. It was so good! It made me laugh, cry, and yearn for a third book in the series.

    I’m also looking forward to watching the television adaptation of The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe on Hallmark this weekend.

    What I’m listening to…

    A Daily Mix on Spotify.

    What I’m wearing...

    Now that Spring has finally sprung, I’m enjoying wearing lots of dresses and wedges.

    What I’m doing this weekend…

    I have a really big event for work, a birthday dinner for my niece, church, and coffee with my cousin and aunt that I’m looking forward to.

    What I’m looking forward to next month…

    My sister (Check out her blog!)graduates from Clemson in May, so I’m looking forward to that. Next month is my last month of regular workdays until mid-August, so I’m excited about that.

  • family,  running,  weekend

    A Colorful Weekend: 5K, Art, and Outdoor Fun

    We had a fun weekend! It was full of lots of time outside and family fun.

    We started the weekend with a concert. Our niece is in the show choir at her school and had her spring show, so Kevin and I went to support her. She did great!

    Our boys stayed home with my mom and it’s safe to say they had fun with Bebe, too!

    Saturday was my first race of the year. Since having Caleb, I’ve only raced three times. The race I ran Saturday was the race I won about a week before I found out I was pregnant with Caleb and also my first race after having him.

    I was so nervous for this race. I know it sounds completely ridiculous to say especially since I used to race around twenty times each year, but something about going back out to race had my stomach in knots! I didn’t get a chance to run but once last week before the race and I wasn’t feeling super great, so that added to my nerves.

    I really had no clue what time to expect. I used to run 5ks in the 19s and have hit that mark again since having Caleb, but for this race, I was shooting for 20 something, which was still respectable.

    I ended up winning the race in 21:03 (6:46/mile) and was third overall. Even though I was a little slower than I wanted to be, I felt really good about the race. I actually felt like myself racing which was awesome. If I had some others up near the front with me, I think I would’ve been faster, too. This was my fourth time running and winning this race.

    Kevin did a slow-mo video of my run in and I noticed my stride wasn’t quite as long as it used to be, so yesterday, I focused on that. My goal for my next race (not yet determined) is to be back in the high 19s-low 20s. And I digress.

    At the end of this race, there’s a big color explosion. Kaden loves this part. He always wants to get cups of color. See his excitement? Even after washing his hair, his scalp still had a smurf look yesterday!

    http://thethingsimlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/img_1469.mov

    After the awards, we went to have brunch at Baker’s Sweets. I had the breakfast skillet which was to die for. I don’t know about you, but I could eat breakfast food for every meal!

    We walked around ArtFields for a bit after brunch. My mom and I always like checking out the art. I also did a little shopping and picked up a beach cover up for myself, a necklace for Mother’s Day (my gift guide is coming Thursday!), and another pair of sandals for Caleb.

    The boys all wanted a funnel cake, so before we left, they devoured one.

    We spent the rest of Saturday at my parents. Kevin, Kaden, and our friend Brian went searching for arrowheads. Kevin particularly likes to find treasures (I always joke that’s how he found me!). My dad has some property that he’s found arrowheads on before, so they spent a few hours doing that. K.C., Caleb, and I hung out with my parents and grandma. K.C. took me on a ride on the mule (ATV, not a real one), helped my dad feed his horses, and had a blast driving the four-wheeler around. I think I took it for granted that I grew up in the country. I love that I had the freedom to run (and drive) around everywhere, all day. I’m so thankful our boys get to experience that same lifestyle at their grandparents’.

    We grabbed some burgers and fries from a local place for dinner and enjoyed sitting outside the rest of the night.

    Yesterday, we made it to church almost on time. [Side note: I can’t ever figure out how I can get up at the same time on Sundays as I do on weekdays, iron clothes for all my people, cook breakfast, get ready, and have a little longer to leave than we do on weekdays and still be late.] Our pastor’s message was awesome yesterday.

    After Sunday School, we took Kaden to Target. He got a few gift cards for his birthday and wanted to spend them. He picked a humungo Nerf gun, a smaller Nerf gun, and a new soccer goal. We grabbed lunch from Firehouse before going home.

    My sister spent the afternoon with us which was nice! While Caleb napped, I got a few things done around the house and ran 4 miles while the big boys played outside with their friends.

    After Caleb’s nap, we all stayed outside until it was time for dinner. Days spent outside and weekends full of fun are just my favorite! This past weekend was a good way for us to recharge for a busy week ahead.

  • a day in my life,  family

    A Day In Our Life | April 17, 2018

    I love to see what ordinary days look like for people. In fact, these are some of my favorite types of posts to read. I used to do these pretty regularly, but it’s been at least a year since I’ve last documented our daily life. Yesterday, I decided to.

    6:00 AM – My alarm goes off, but I hit snooze. Somedays, I pop right up, but others, I don’t. Today was one of those days.

    6:15 AM – I’m up and jump in the shower.

    6:25 AM – I’m out of the shower and start to get ready. I do my makeup and fix my hair. I throw on some shorts and a t-shirt along with my UGG Slippers. I wait until it’s almost time to leave for work before putting on what I’ll wear for the day.

    6:45 AM – The big boys are still sleeping, so I go upstairs to wake them up. While they’re getting dressed, I make breakfast. They’ve both asked for a bagel and cheese grits this morning, so I pull that together. While they’re eating breakfast, I put their lunchboxes in their book bags and fill up their water bottles. The both need money for frozen custard and shaved ice at school today.

    Last night, I boiled some jumbo shells to use for dinner tonight, but didn’t put the dish together. While the baby is still asleep, I stuff the shells with ricotta and put the meat sauce I made Sunday night on top. This will make dinner easy tonight.

    7:15 AM – Caleb is up. He likes his sleep! He comes toddling in the kitchen. I change him and give him a bottle. He still has milk in a bottle first thing in the morning and before bed at night. The big boys are brushing their teeth and putting on their shoes at this point.

    7:20 AM – Morning drop offs start. Thankfully, several of our neighbors have kids at the same schools as ours. We have two carpools that are run in the morning and afternoon. Our oldest leaves first. Kevin takes the second car pool and then comes back home.

    Once the big kids leave, I sit down and have breakfast with Caleb before Kevin joins us. I try to be pretty varied in breakfasts. Caleb isn’t picky at all, so it makes it really easy. Some days we have scrambled eggs with fruit, other days it’s oatmeal. Today, he had yogurt with some granola. I had a grapefruit with some leftover biscuits and jelly. Kevin didn’t eat with us this morning. Some days we (Kevin and me) end up just taking something fast. I like the Belvita Breakfast Bars and Chobani Yogurt. I can throw it in my bag and eat it at my desk.

    Depending on breakfast, we usually have a few minutes to play and read in the morning.

    7:50 AM – It’s time for me to finish getting ready. I throw on a Tracy Negoshian dress, some Sam Edlemen heels, and my Kendra Scott necklace and earrings. I always put Caleb’s pants on for the day when I change his diaper, so all I have to do after breakfast is put on his shirt and shoes. It’s chilly (again), so he’s wearing long sleeves. I hope the weather will decide to officially become Spring soon.

    After this, I gather up my lunch and fix a Yeti of water to go. Kevin takes over baby duties and takes the baby to the car.

    8:00 AM – It’s my goal to leave at 8 each morning because that gives me enough time to drop off Caleb, talk for a minute, and get to work on time. Today, we didn’t leave until about 8:06.

    On the way to work, we talk. Caleb practices some words like “ball” and tells me what the cow says. He always points out when we’re beside cars at stoplights. I had Josh Groban playing. We also say a little prayer. He’s young, but I want to start this habit with him already. I also like starting my day this way.

    8:26 AM – I drop Caleb off at school. He loves his class and teachers and is happy to go to the table for his morning snack.

    8:32 AM – Thankfully, Caleb is very near to me all day, so it takes me about 2 minutes to get to work from his school. I go in and get started on the day. I read a quick devotional I keep on my desk, respond to emails, and check the headlines.

    Morning – I had a few meetings this morning and needed to do some follow up to prepare for an event next week. I spent the morning doing those things, responding to emails, and taking some calls.

    12:20 PM – I’m hungry, so I decide to heat up my lunch and eat at my desk while working. The midday is usually slow, so this gives me a chance to cross off a few things on my to do list without interruptions.

    12:45 PM – It’s important to take a break each day, and since I ate at my desk while working, I needed a break. A lot of times, I like to sit in my car at lunch and read. I don’t have a lot of quiet in my day (and I love it!), so my car has kind of become my refuge during lunch. I started studying my lesson for SS and read some of The Secret to Southern Charm. I also caught up with Kevin for a few minutes.

    2:00 PM – 5:00 PM – My afternoon was pretty busy. I had a meeting that took up about half of the afternoon. I worked on some projects the rest of the time.

    The kids are home from school, playing and doing their homework. They know that they should have everything they can do alone done by the time I get home. Super thankful my husband is able to work from home!

    5:05 PM – I leave work and pick up Caleb. He’s had a good day! I love how he runs when he sees me walk in. It just melts my heart.

    5:40 PM – We’re home! Getting dinner ready earlier in the day was definitely helpful. It’s almost finished baking.

    5:50 PM – We all sit down to dinner. The big boys tell us about their days and we all catch up. While Caleb and I finish (I’m always the last to sit down, and well, the baby likes his food!), Kevin clears off the table and puts up the leftovers.

    6:15 PM – We go outside to play. The boys play with their friends and Caleb runs around and pushes his cart. This grocery cart was one of my niece’s and it’s been passed down to all of our boys. They all love it.

    Our oldest has a quiz tomorrow, so he has to study some. Caleb and I stay outside a little longer than the big boys. He’s having fun playing and I’m chatting with our neighbor.

    7:45 PM – It’s bath time for all the kids. The big boys get showered and I bathe the baby who seems a bit off.

    8:00 PM – My sister and her friend stop by to visit for a few minutes. Kaden has an apple and K.C. decides he wants to go ahead upstairs to read. He loves reading and is in the middle of a good book. He has to read 30 minutes each night for school, so this is a good thing. Caleb decides he’s feeling better when Aunt Stephanie (“Step”) comes over and runs around. As soon as she leaves, he starts to act like he’s feeling bad again. I think his tummy is bothering him. (We deal with tummy trouble constantly. Poor baby.)

    8:30 PM – The older boys get their teeth brushed and go up to bed. I let them know I’ll be up to tuck them in as soon as the baby goes to sleep and that they can leave their lights on until 9.

    8:45 PM – Caleb has finally settled down (and he’s usually a good sleeper). I rock him and give him a bottle in the den while watching the last episode of Fixer Upper I missed a few weeks ago. He falls asleep, but seems really restless. I feel so powerless when my kids aren’t feeling well.

    9:10 PM – I put Caleb in his crib and then go in to check on the big boys. Kaden is already about asleep, but K.C. is still going strong. We read a Bible story, say prayers, and talk a few minutes.

    9:30 PM – I’m downstairs and doing the nightly signing of the notebooks and agendas. I make sure I didn’t miss anything in their book bags, tidy up the kitchen, and get a snack. I also make sure clothes are ready for tomorrow morning. Kevin had something tonight, so he’s not home quite yet. While I planned to run after the boys were all in bed, I decide against it because I just feel drained. The baby is normally very easy going (though quite spirited), but tonight, he’s been totally out of character and my mama self is tired.

    9:45 PM – Kevin is home. We catch up and watch some TV. I read a little more of my book.

    10:40 PM – I’m out.

    There you have it – a typical day in our house.

  • faith

    Elohim | The Strong Creator God

    Kevin and I have taught a kids’ Sunday School for about four years before having Caleb. After Caleb was born, we decided to sit back and join an adult Sunday School class. I’ve really been enjoying it! Our class is discussion-based, but we use a curriculum. We’re currently using MasterWork Spring 2018 by LifeWay. The study we’re in now is all about the names of God. I plan to share what I’m learning each week on Sunday, but since I didn’t get to that this past Sunday, here are my thoughts on Elohim, the Strong Creator God.

    —–

    When I think about God’s names, I tend to think about names like Emmanuel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Comforter, Protector, Father. The first names I think of aren’t usually names like Elohim or Jehovah. I’m so excited about our current study on the names of God and applying the truths from these names to my life.

    This past week, our study was on Elohim, the Strong Creator God. Elohim is the first name of God that appears in the Bible. In fact, it’s in the very first verse of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the Earth.” The very first thing that God wants us to know about Himself is that He creates. He is the One and Only Creator. He breathed everything into being. He the only One who can create. The inventions, creations, and new discoveries of mankind may be credited to the “creators,” but keep in mind that those things would not have been possible without the Creator. Medicines to heal our ailments are possible because God created the elements needed to mix together perfectly to provide relief and healing from diseases. Homes that we live in are built because God provided the materials. The food on our tables is there because God made the ingredients. You get the point. Absolutely every single thing in our world including the world itself was created by God. How awesome is that? I think it’s mind-boggling to think about.

    First impressions matter. The first impression God wanted us to have of Him was Creator. When I think about my own life, I care about the impression I give to others. When people who don’t know me see me or meet me for the first time, I want them to have a favorable impression of me. I want, first and foremost, for people to know I love Jesus. I want them to be able to see this through the way I talk and act. I also want them to know I’m a devoted and true person. I am devoted to my family and strive to be the best wife and mom that I can be. I also want them to know that I care, look for the best, and enjoy life. I want them to know I’m trustworthy.

    One thing that really got me in last week’s study was the thought of Elohim and time. God is set apart from the constraints of time (another mind-boggling thought). He was, and is, and is to come. God Himself created time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever feel like I have enough time in the day. I think about my days in terms of what has to get done and what I want to get done. Unfortunately, the haves tend to be the ones I focus on while the wants keep getting pushed aside, but God? God created time.

    Reading about God and time really convicted me of my focus on time. Try as I might, I’ll never be able to create more time. I try hard to give myself margin everyday, but it doesn’t always happen. I feel like there are things God wants me to accomplish and things He’s placed on my heart, but I don’t know how I’ll possibly do them. The problem with that thinking isn’t a time problem. It’s a faith problem. Instead of spending time trying to figure out how I can do 2-3 more hours of work in an hour, I need to depend on the Creator of Time to guide me. He created time, surely He can show me how to use mine wisely.

    When God created the universe, He could’ve done it in all manner of ways. All He had to do was speak and all of creation was formed. The powerful Creator made billions of stars and galaxies, created a world fit just for humans, and made each of us in His image. This powerful Creator wants a relationship with us. He is very real, He’s personable, and He wants us to develop a close relationship with Him.

    We’re all in awe of someone or something. There could be an athlete we admire and want to learn from. We may have a hobby we enjoy and want to be the best at it. We could enjoy history and want to soak up every bit we can learn about a particular time. Regardless of it, there is someone or something in your life that you are in awe of and are constantly trying to get to know. Elohim, the Strong Creator God, wants us to get to know Him. And I’m not sure about you, but someone who can put this entire universe into motion with just a word is someone pretty awesome to know.

    God loves us, He wants what’s best for us, and He wants to interact with us. He wants us to form a relationship with Him. He wants to guide us and protect us. He wants us to live for Him. He speaks to us in all kinds of ways – sunsets, internal peace, the smiles of our spouse and children, the still small voice inside, His Word, and sometimes, even audibly. He is the Creator of everything. He knows the desires of our hearts because He created them. Talk to Him, let Him in, and seek Him. What better way to learn your way than to lean on Elohim the Creator!

    I want to leave you with a few passages that I starred:

    He (meaning God) doesn’t need logic or tangible solutions in order to accomplish His goal. All He needs is Himself, and you you need is faith in His name that He can do all that He purposes to do. (p 89)

    Too often we get hung up trying to figure out the answer to our problems. Rather than trying to visualize how God is going to straighten out your situation, tweak your trials, or fix your failures, remember His name. Elohim can create something out of nothing. He’s done it before, and He continues to do it to this day. After all, He created worlds just by speaking them into existence. (p 89)

    Elohim is a God who can transform a mess into a miracle. He transforms darkness into light. He transforms the desolate, uninhabitable recesses of your soul into places of fertile growth. (p 90)

    He can handle the issues of your life, make the connections and intersections you need, and give you wisdom to make the choices that will get you closer each day to the fulfillment of His will – if you will but let Him by living a life of surrender to Him. (p 92)

    Elohim created us and just as we care for our loved ones, He cares for us. Let Him in.