late 20s

birthday breakfast date with Justin and Pippa.
I've been craving Perkins breakfast potatoes since I got pregnant.

I'm no longer in my mid-20s.

Yesterday marked the 27th anniversary of my entrance to this world. I wondered how I would feel, entering the brief period of life known as one's "late-20s." Would I lament my fleeting youth? Would I take stock of how far I had come? Would I make a panicky "30 before 30" bucket list?

Actually, I mainly just felt nauseous. But not about the passing of time. I felt actual nausea due to morning (or all day) sickness. (Thanks, Baby #2). But really, I'm not even mad about it.

Despite the morning sickness, how I felt about my 27th birthday reflected how I view my life in general. I was content to spend the day with my husband and 19 month old...mostly on the couch. I was thankful for the little things Justin did for me (woo hoo! I don't think I changed one diaper on my birthday! I felt like the Queen of Sheba.)

But let's get really serious. Why am I really so happy about my 27th birthday? In reality, it's because I love odd numbers, and yesterday was the 11th of January, in the year 2015, turning 27 years of age. It's my year, people! Watch out!

Here's to 27 years of His grace on earth, and at least 73 more!


the secret's out!

...although it probably was never really a secret to begin with.

It's true! We get to be parents again!

And I have a lot to say about it. 12 weeks of keeping this "secret" and I couldn't wait to start talking about it.

a few initial thoughts:

1. It's not really a secret. As any young married wife knows, your midsection, health, and alcohol consumption habits are under constant scrutiny from well-meaning friends, relatives, and mere acquaintances for signs of baby news. Any headache is responded to with a knowing wink. Passing up on a glass of wine means several follow-up questions, such as, "when are you due?" And don't you dare gain weight in your face or midsection, lest you start rumors of a baby! (By the way, I'm guilty of this, too. It's human nature to want that joyful news for the loved ones in your life). Anyway, I know I can often guess when another woman is pregnant, even before they start showing, so I'm sure many have guessed or figured out our secret long before we heard the heartbeat. I got "pregnancy face" (that bloating in the chin area? attractive.) pretty early on. Not to mention having such a short torso, and I'm pretty sure I was "showing" at about 7 weeks along.

2. Part of me wanted to keep it a secret, but most of me just wanted people to know already! As with my pregnancy with Pippa, I have pretty rough morning sickness, extreme exhaustion, and awful headaches. I just wanted to be able to tell people why I didn't feel up to my normal tasks or even meeting up for coffee.
More importantly, though, there is an unwritten rule in our society that you don't share your news until it is "safe" to do so - around 12 weeks. But I'm of the opinion that (a) whether or not something happens to baby, it's still my child, and it's still a human life, and (b) I would want prayers and support from those I love if the worst did happen. Each person is different, and I was comfortable enough to share it with friends and family early on, just not the general public (probably due to my introverted nature). Glad it's out now, though!

3. The second (and I'm assuming subsequent) time around, you start showing a lot earlier. Oh hey, mirror reflection! Is that a 24 weeks pregnant lady? No? Just 12 weeks? Cool. (that awkward stage when regular clothes don't quite fit right, but maternity clothes are too baggy).

4. Pippa came with me on Monday to hear the heartbeat, and ever since has been lifting up my shirt asking, "Baby, where are you?" Yesterday, she lifted up my shirt and kissed the baby (my stomach), then made Pablo do the same thing. Today, she fed her pancakes to the baby (my stomach), and threw a fit when I told her she had to eat them. I'm kind of amazed that she's starting to understand, but also terrified of the day she will expose my pregnant belly to the general public. Also, she now runs to the bathroom and makes throwing up noises - just like mommy! Charming.

5. There is no joy equal to hearing your baby's heartbeat for the first time. Did I cry on the way home? Maybe. Blame it on the hormones.

6. Pippa was generally an easy baby, and is so much fun right now, I kind of forgot about all the hard stuff about pregnancy and newborns. That's ok! Just like the first time around, I don't want to know about it until it's happening. Ignorance is bliss.

7. I am finding the first trimester easier as a stay-at-home mom with a toddler than when I was working full time. At least I can lay on the couch and put Curious George on Netflix for Pippa. And take a nap when Pippa naps. It's much harder to get up super early, dress like a professional and do your hair and makeup while wanting to throw up, be on your feet all day when you just want to sleep, and stay on top of your work when you're operating at the capacity of a person with a three-month stomach bug. Props to working ladies in their first trimester! (I remember Googling "How do women work in first trimester?" when pregnant with Pippa).

8. This pregnancy is no less exciting than our first. I thank God for giving us another chance to do this - his goodness, mercy, and love are boundless!


a pipdate - 19 months

Having a little girl is everything I expected it to be, and nothing like I expected to be at the same time. I get to put together cute outfits with matching bows, she plays with and takes care of her baby dolls, and she copies everything I do, including putting on makeup, doing my hair, and wearing jewelry.

BUT, she is anything but demure and ladylike. She is hilarious, strong-willed, and cheeky. She spends large chunks of her day running around the couch in circles. She loves to play ball, climb, jump, yell, and wrestle. In other words, she is so much fun!

toddler idiosyncrasies:

  • she now introduces me, then herself, to everyone at the grocery store. Unfortunately, she pronounces her name as "Poopa."
    • P: Hi! 
    • Customer: Oh hi there! 
    • P: Mommy! (points to me)
    • C: Oh, that's your mommy?
    • P: Poopa. (points to herself)
    • C: .....?
    • Me: Oh, and this is Pippa.
    • C: Ohhhh. Hi Pippa!
  • also at the grocery store, a man with shoulder-length hair walked past our shopping cart. Pippa's eyes lit up, and then she yelled, "Bye Jesus!"
  • also at the grocery store with my mom, she started clutching the cart and yelling, "Help meeeee!" (a phrase one of my sisters taught her).
  • she likes to sing in church when everyone else is singing, and fold her hands when we're praying. She'll even yell, "Amen!" every now and then!
  • Pippa and I love to have dance parties when the days at home get kind of long. Her absolute favorites are Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, and Conga by Gloria Estefan. Kid's got moves!
  • against my better judgment as a parent, I let her watch the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch when we were at my parents' house for Christmas. She totally identified with the Grinch character, and spent the rest of our time there asking, "Jrinch, where are you?"
  • she loves raspberries and blueberries (or rasbies and bluebies)
  • sometimes puts herself down for a nap by asking for chupie (pacifier) and George (Curious George, her stuffed animal), then grabbing my hand and leading me to the stairs so I can put her in her crib.
  • after an episode of Curious George, she'll come up to me, hold up one finger, and say, "One mo'." That's really hard to say no to. 
  • when Justin makes a bad joke, she'll smile and go, "Daddy," in that exasperated tone of an embarrassed teenager. I thought she was just repeating what I said, but then she applied it to anyone who makes a bad joke.
  • she pronounces Granddad as "Gahn Gahn." 
  • for about 2 days straight she walked around saying, "Biko biko biko," and we had no idea what she was talking about. Finally Justin figured out she was saying ombligo - the Spanish word for belly button.
  • she reminds us to pray before every meal by folding her hands and looking sternly at us.
  • she has long conversations on her pretend phone (or anyone's iPhone she can get her hands on) with pauses to "listen" to the other person, responses, laughter, and "k bye!" at the end. Sometimes I wonder if she's actually hearing someone else on the other end...

We are enjoying her so much lately! Her cheesy smiles, her sweet hugs and kisses before bed, and how quickly she catches on to anything we teach her all make me want to slow down time and capture the memory of each day. She is so close to putting together novel sentences instead of just repeating memorized ones (like "where are you?") I can't wait to hear what she'll come up with next!


2015 mini goals

Happy New Year!

After spending the holidays and ringing in the New Year with family, it feels great to be typing this post on the way back to our own home. Our 18-month-old (almost 19-month-old!) is not the only one who needs to get back into a routine. Well-balanced meals, normal bedtimes, and everyday tasks are sounding pretty good at this point, after a week and a half of vacation. (One of the perks of being a teacher!)

On top of getting back to our normal routines, I look forward to implementing some additional New Years Resolutions in the form of mini goals each month. In the spirit of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, one of my sisters and I are designating themes for each month of the year. For me, each month will focus on 3 mini goals that fall under the auspices of that theme.

For example, as cliche as it may sound, January is focused on health and fitness. I am using the idea of mini goals - setting simple goals that are easy to implement. If your goal is one push-up, you may end up doing 10-15 push-ups while you’re down there anyway, and then may be inspired to do some ab workouts and mountain climbers, too! If your goal is 50 push-ups each day, it may seem too lofty when you’re having a bad day, or get really busy. When you fail to keep your resolution, it’s much easier to drop the goal altogether. With mini goals, it’s easy to overcome the mental resistance that says working out will take too long or is too difficult. Anyone can get on the floor and do one push up during a commercial break! You can always do more, but never less. Read more about mini goals in this article.

My mini goals for January:

  1. 5 minutes of a workout video Monday through Saturday. Some days, I may get through just the warm up. Other days I may end up completing 45 minutes. The point is, even if I don’t feel like working out, I can overcome my own objections since it’s just 5 minutes. 
  2. 10 minute walks with the dog each day. This may be abridged with dangerous below-zero temperatures, but barring days where there is danger of frostbite, I’m forcing myself to enjoy some nature, get my dog some exercise, and get myself moving. 
  3. Eat one serving of vegetables each day. This goal could even be too mini, as I start each day with 2 handfuls of spinach in my smoothie anyway. But besides that, it’s really easy for me to go through a whole day without touching a vegetable, though I do love to eat fruit. Time to put some special focus on new and simple ways to prepare veggies! 

By choosing to focus on health as part of my lifestyle instead of an impossible challenge to meet temporarily, I know I can stick with my goals without feeling overwhelmed. Making one good decision will lead to another healthy decision. I can’t wait to see if the idea of mini goals works well for me, and if it will inspire me to do more. 

Finally, I am thankful for the challenges and blessings God gave me in 2014, and look forward to starting 2015 with his grace. 2015 will hold a lot of adventure and changes for our family, so it’s comforting to have a God who is Everlasting to Everlasting, the same from year to year, who is with us no matter where we are. 



I have always wanted to keep a journal. I picture a cornucopia of notebooks overflowing with stories, profound observations, and a snapshot of what my life was like when I wrote it. I picture future generations poring over my words, marveling at the life I led.

It's not that I'm so narcissistic to think that I'm oh-so-much-more-fascinating than everyone else. It's that I think everyone has a story, and everyone's story is worth sharing. I sure wish my ancestors had kept a journal - we don't often get to hear the inner workings of our relatives' minds.

The problem is, there have been waaaaay too many embarrassing moments when childhood journals were discovered in memory boxes, when the private angst I spilled onto the page as a youth resulted in howls of laughter from both my sisters and present-day me. Or the pretentious prose just comes off as annoying, rather than just sharing a story.

Now every time I try to journal, I find myself trying to edit so that Future Me won't make fun of Present Me. The resulting words end up dry, factual, and dull. No emotion. No personality.

In fact, I think the only times I've ever successfully kept a journal have been during my travels to other countries. I love looking back on the details of the trip that have long since escaped my memory. I love reading the funny quotes recorded and the highlights of the day. It's so much easier to journal when you feel you're doing something out of the ordinary.

My goal for this next year is to record everything. Ordinary or extraordinary. Emotional or factual. Silly or profound. It's getting written down, because I want to remember it all when I don't remember it anymore. I want my child and future children to know what their early childhood was like from my point of view.

My word of the year for 2014 (in place of New Year's Resolutions) was discipline. I feel really good about my word. I hit my lowest weight ever in 2014. I started to work from home. I read a good amount of books. I stayed somewhat faithful to writing on my blog. I even flossed a few times.

I know it's only mid-November, but I've already chosen a word for 2015 - stories. I'm writing my own story, I'm connecting with others to learn their stories, and I'm reading even more fiction and biographies.

This post was inspired by this article.

Do you journal (successfully)? Do you use prompts, or just write what's in your head?


book talk #2 - 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I wish I could read for a living and get paid for it. Along with getting paid to learn languages. That would be awesome.

Since no one has come out of the woodwork to offer me such a job, I'm going to pretend I'm getting paid to write this blog post.

So basically, I'm pretty obsessed with the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. I had heard a few friends talk about this author, and specifically this book, and finally put it on hold at the library.

There are a lot of things competing for my attention in life, like my husband and daughter, Criminal Minds on Netflix, and work. So a lot of times I'll borrow a book from the library, get bored 50 pages in, and never finish it within the allotted time. Then, I'll go online, renew it, and forget to read it again. At this point, I normally give up and just return the book.

Not so with 7. I couldn't put it down, and it was definitely not what I expected. Basically, I expected a lecture on how our culture is consuming at an alarming rate, and Christians are no better, so this lady took matters into her own hands and made everyone else feel guilty about it.

I could not have been more wrong about the tone of the book. Jen comes from a place of repentance, humor, and freedom. Freedom to me is the key word. We are no longer bound by Old Testament laws, nor are we trying to earn our way into heaven with our good works. Books like this can come dangerously close to implying such things. Instead, she is simply recognizing that fact that it is really easy to let our Christian freedom run amok, and it's also a good idea to stop and do a heart check every once and awhile. Are my treasures on earth or in heaven? Am I loving God first and my neighbor as myself? Those are good questions that in no way guilt us into recycling, adopting 10 kids, and selling every extraneous thing we own.

Jen's experiment was this: What would it look like if I did a temporary fast from food, clothing, stuff, stress, spending, screen time, and waste? She stuck with the "7" theme - one month for each of her seven categories. Seven food items for a month, seven clothing items for a month, etc. Her "council" of friends each interpreted the fast in their own way, participating in a way that made the fast fit into their own lives.

I didn't come away from the book feeling guilty for the blessings God has given me. I came away from the book more thoughtful, thankful, and excited to share my love for God with others.

In my opinion, it's definitely worth a read - I laughed, I cried, it moved me (Veggie Tales reference anyone?)

Let's end with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"...Scripture calls us to the practice of fasting- from food, from greed, from selfishness, from luxuries. It isn't just the experience; it's the discipline. It changes us. Fasting helps us develop mastery over the competing voices in our heads that urge us toward more, toward indulgence, toward emotional volatility."


working from home - a learning curve

What a weird world we live in. Jobs are no longer things like "farmer," "seamstress," and "banker." (Although those jobs still exist).

Now people have job titles like web designer, dog walker, blogger, and independent consultant.

There are about a zillion and one ways to cobble together a living from the comfort of you own home. There are about a fillion more ways to piece together 86 part time jobs as your own employer. It's kind of awesome. 

Some people call these "side hustles." Others call it: "my husband is a teacher and I'm staying home with the kids so we have no money so I better figure out a way to change that." It's an official term.

Anyway, that's me now! I'm working from home! It's one of the most exciting, stressful, confusing ways I've ever decided to make money. 

I'm still a rookie. I've only been doing it for six months. I'm learning as I go. I am still trying to figure out the best schedule for Pippa and me. Working from home is one thing. Working from home but also being a stay at home parent is another thing altogether! Inspired by Molly's thoughts on working from home, here are mine:

>> plan your day...kind of  on the advice of a more experienced mom and friend, I try to write out the top things that need to get done the next day. I think Zig Ziglar was also a proponent of this strategy. I used to do this on notecards. Now I just write it on a giant mirror I use as a white board. With kids, you can do your best to stick to a schedule, but they often have minds of their own. The list keeps me from being overwhelmed with "to-do's" when Pippa goes down for her nap. 

>> get non-work stuff done when your child is awake  I used to panic, trying to get work, blog, devotions, chores, and exercise all done during one hour and a half nap. I realized that was impossible, so I decided to do computer-based work when Pippa is sleeping. Now I have her "help" me with chores and exercise with me. It's not a perfect solution (she did scratch me in the face in the middle of a "serene" yoga session), but it works for now. 

>> do your work in your "office"  before we moved we had absolutely no extra space to put a desk. In our new place, we have a loft area that works both as a playroom and an office. I have my very own desk, vision board, and fitness orb that is also my desk chair. When I bring my laptop to the sofa, MUCH less work gets done. More surfing the net happens. It's not productive. When I stay in my desk area, I have my vision board, my mirror/white board, and my calendar to keep me focused. Plus, Pippa can play in her kitchen if I have any loose ends to tie up after her nap. 

>> work in mini blitzes  I can only stay focused on one job for so long before I feel burnt out. I strive for about 45 minutes of good, solid work before I take a break to read a blog, get a cup of coffee, or throw in a load of laundry. I don't really have other people to motivate me and hold me accountable, so I have to find little tricks to keep me working. Which leads me to my next point...

>> be a boss  specifically, your own boss. If I don't hold myself accountable, no one will. If I decide not to do income-producing activity, there is no income. I have to give myself goals with deadlines. I have to write down my goals and read them aloud daily to stay motivated. I have to stay organized. I have to be focused on my "why" (which is why my vision board is right above my laptop). If I don't treat myself as a professional, then this is just a hobby, not a job. I must continue my personal and professional development without prompting from anyone else. Luckily in my job I get to earn as I learn.

 >> socialize  working from home, and being a stay-at-home parent can be lonely if you let it. I have to force myself to get out of the house each day to interact with other people. (The library has become my best friend - free and full of other parents and kids). I also have an amazing group of women around the country working toward the same goals. We have a message thread going to help motivate and support one another. 

>> be flexible  no explanation needed. 

Any other tips from experienced work-from-home veterans?