Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Great Gifts for the Mamas in Your Life

I have eight baby showers to attend between now and Christmas. Let's just say it's quite the "fruitful" season at our church. So, four months into being a new mama myself, I thought I'd do a post with a few gift ideas for mama and her new little. Gifts that reach a little bit beyond diapers and wipes-a few things I have and love, and a few that are on my own list to have and love (read: Parents & In-Laws...this could be a Christmas list of sorts...sorry these aren't cheaper).


Bracelet with baby's name from shopLuca
(This is such a sweet gift. I love wearing mine and I bought one for my best friend. BFF mom bracelets of sorts. Because I'm totally a grown up.) 
[photo by Geeta at shopLuca]
Teething necklace from IslaRoo Designs
[photo courtesy of Isla Roo Designs]

The most comfortable thing I've ever worn and easiest nursing outfit ever from GunnySackandCo (note: I do NOT look anything like this in this dress...they run big, so the medium I bought is basically a mumu...but it's a super comfortable mumu with POCKETS. I'll order another one in another color in a smaller size and hopefully Mr. F will let me go out of the house in it):
[photo courtesy of Gunny Sack & Co.]

Muslin Swaddle Blanket from Modern Burlap 
(I love the idea of Temple being wrapped in this kind of truth)
[photo courtesy of Modern Burlap]

One of these super cute rattles from Emy and Annie 
(I also like the frog prince, but Temple opted for this in the "reach test" that Mr. F and I decided was a legitimate way to determine her preference. We did it twice to be sure. Because science.)
[photo courtesy of Emy and Annie]


Ring Sling from Wildbird
[photo courtesy of Wild Bird]

Mama Bird Tee from TheBeeandTheFox
[photo courtesy of TheBeeAndTheFox]

Travel chair from BeanandDoe
[Photo courtesy of Bean & Doe]

And food, ya'll. I've yet to meet a new mama that will turn away food. And it's a great excuse to get into that house and see that brand new baby. It's like a business deal of sorts...I show you my baby once you show me that casserole. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. 

[Photo by Damn Delicious]

Head on over to Damn Delicious for the go-to recipe I use and don't forget to give your quinoa a good rinse before cooking!

I bring this with a bag of tortilla chips, a small carton of sour cream [DO NOT BRING LOW FAT OR FAT FREE BECAUSE EW], an avocado, some chopped cherry tomatoes, and some sliced green onions.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The One Where I Have a Kid

So, I had a baby a month and a half ago. 
Which means I'm a mom. 
Her mom. 
Temple Grae's mom. 
So that makes Mr. F and I real, grown up parental units. 

Looking back on the birth experience: it was fabulous. 
Not easy by any stretch [my birth plan was out the window from the get go and everything I hoped I wouldn't have to mess with, I did] but I had a fantastic doctor and the nurses were amazing. 

We are settling into life as a family of three (four if you count Mr. F's mustache) and honestly, thanks to our gal and her mad sleeping skills, I have managed to keep the random crying to a minimum. 

There are a million thoughts and feelings that come with this new season, but I have been thinking a lot lately about how "normal" this feels. I'm in awe of the fact that my body was made to do this. And I love that I'm joining the ranks, so to speak. The ranks of women wiping butts and cleaning spit up off of their shirts and hoping they remembered to throw another in the diaper bag. The ranks of women that stare and marvel at the new little life that came from them. The ranks of women who rock little ones back to sleep after late night/early morning feedings. And work hard to score that first smile. And wish they knew exactly how much the stretch marks will fade. I love that my great-great-great-great grandmother fed, swaddled, wiped, and rocked. Just like my neighbor's great-great-great-great grandmother. And my best friend's. And my co-worker's. 
And the strangers I pass by every day.  

There really is nothing new under the sun. And I'm OK with that. I love that I've transitioned into a time in my life where I don't need to feel special or unique. 
Where I'm OK being one of the many in a long line of mamas. 

[ [One of our dearest friends set up this little "Welcome Home" on our porch.]

[Mean muggin']

 [My girl and I at Crystal Bridges Museum]


[keeping her close]

Cheers to this whole parenting thing. 

[CONFESSION: As a former barista that knows what a real macchiato is, I admit that I'm self-conscious about posting a picture with a Starbucks beverage.
But it IS caffeine. And new parents need caffeine.]

Monday, February 23, 2015

Signs of Life

[Mr F and I on his 34th birthday in mid-August. Just before I basically fell off the planet.
Oh, this mustache also lives with us now.]
My last post was in August and it was about pickles. It's almost March. So much has happened in those six (+) months. Things that took precedent over my blah blah blah about Stitch Fix and random recipes and whatever else my previous posts consisted of. The purpose of this blog is to help me remember the small things that I've enjoyed along the way, but lately, living life has pretty much sucked the desire to keep up with this silly thing right outta me.

I left my job last July. A job I've had for seven years. I started working part time for our church as the Children's Pastor. A simple transition, but it was (and is) an entirely new way of life for us. My brain had to shift out of an endless cycle of full time-65,000 balls up in the air at one time-get it all done and ease into basically having time on my hands AND the ability to focus all my energy in one direction. It was amazing how many parts of "me" woke back up since I moved all of my "professional" clothing into the guest room closest and started wearing jeans every day [like the thoughtful side, the domestic side, the laid-back-laugh-at-my-husband's-shenanigans-instead-of-rolling-my-eyes-because-I-don't-have-time-side, etc]. I felt like a much better wife, friend, and human being.

The transition was basically my mid-year opportunity for a New Year's resolution type life overhaul. But just as I was supposed to be basking in my new-found part-time-employment-freedom, [like sitting around on our beautiful back deck, reading books, gardening, becoming a domestic BOSS, volunteering for various things, having leisurely coffee and lunch dates with my friends, working out regularly and being super hot, laying in the pool and sunning myself] my back forgot it was 29 and decided to behave like it was 164.75 years old.

It started out as a slight annoyance in mid June...feeling "tweaked".....but then it morphed into sciatica. I've had HORRIBLE experiences with chiropractors, so I decided to give it time to work itself out, which is the one of the dumbest things I've ever done in my entire life. Because it got worse and worse and worse and worse. And by mid-August, I was in so much pain. I couldn't sit, or stand, or lay down without pain and severe tightness in my hips/lower back/sciatic nerve. I couldn't lay down and relax...there wasn't a way to get away from the pain. It was constant and it consumed my brain. I couldn't sleep in bed and the only position that would "work" was basically sitting upright in the fetal position, on our couch, leaning to the left against an incredibly specific placement of pillows. This allowed me to sleep for an hour or so, before I had to get up and try to work out the stiffness. I slept in hour increments, getting about four to five hours each night. I took ibuprofen constantly (WAY beyond the suggested max daily dose) to try to control the inflammation but it would wear off after an hour or two, leaving another hour or two before I was "allowed" to take another does. After a few weeks of this (and spending an entire day SOBBING), Mr. F insisted that I go to the doctor for pain pills or a cortisone shot. ANYTHING.

Which is where I found out that I couldn't have a cortisone shot. Or pain pills. And I couldn't take ibuprofen anymore. Because I happened to be about four weeks pregnant [apparently my body has to be severely stressed and uncomfortable to be a hospitable environment for baby-growing].  I cried. Such amazing news but at the same time not the best news for a girl desperate for pain management options.

I finally broke down and decided to try a new chiropractor (who is AMAZING, by the way) in late August and he told me that my pelvis was so twisted that one of my legs was an inch shorter than the other. He couldn't do an x-ray to find out exactly what was going on (thanks, Baby) but he was pretty certain that there were herniated discs involved. He had to adjust my pelvis/hips/S.I. joint/L3, L4, L5 every time I went. I went three times/week for about three months and couldn't take ANYTHING to control the pain except for Tylenol (thanks again, Baby) and Tylenol doesn't touch inflammation. Like, at all. It's kind of a cruel joke. But then my OBGYN approved a cortisone shot at my first appointment, and I could have kissed her square on the mouth. It took the edge off of the inflammation and just that small "yes" was movement in the direction of feeling normal again...feeling like something could be done and a reminder that I wouldn't be in that much pain forever. I spent mid-June through mid-October basically living on the couch in the most pain I've ever experienced. And, because I was in my first trimester during most of it, I was exhausted, nauseous, and cried all.the.time. (Mr. F qualifies for sainthood).

 After a month of going to the chiropractor with what seemed like no improvement at all, several women from our church came over several times/week to pray for me. And once that started happening, there was finally noticeable improvement. Every two weeks or so, there would be some sort of relief. First, Tylenol started helping. Then, I was able to move back to sleeping in the bed. Then I could sleep in four hour increments (taking Tylenol). Then I was able to make it through the day without taking Tylenol until it was time for bed. And then I was able to stop taking Tylenol completely. And I could walk without pain. Then I could sit without pain. I could sleep through the night. I could finally lay on my back again. I could ENJOY laying in bed, relaxing. I could ENJOY being pregnant. I could bend over and touch my toes (that probably won't last much longer, but that's because there's a person in the way).

Since mid-October, my second trimester and [thus far into my] third trimester have been all sorts of heavenly. I forget that I'm pregnant sometimes. Until she moves and I catch a glimpse of my bulging mid-section. We're even back to our usual, busy pace:

  • We went to Colorado in October to celebrate our 6th anniversary. We went on a short-long hike (as in, it was short, but it took a while because I was still moving pretty slowly because of being on the couch for three+ months) in RMNP. We got to hang out with my BFF from college, her husband, and her baby bump and we visited my old college stomping grounds. 
  • I got to "do" Thanksgiving preggo (basically eating the same amount that I do every year but with way less guilt). 
  • We flew to AZ to surprise my brother for Christmas (SUCCESS!). 
  • We spent a weekend in Dallas visiting my family and went to IKEA to get stuff for the nursery.
Now I'm prepping for being gone from work once the baby comes, getting her room ready (it's a girl), and keeping an eye on the scale to make sure she's the only one getting fatter. I'm hoping that I get to go to Colorado again with Mr. F (the band he plays in has a house concert that they're playing) in a couple weeks so I can meet my college BFF's ridiculously adorable baby in real life. I'm making a list of things I'd like to get done before our girl shows up (getting the garden ready for planting, getting some house projects done, etc.) and I'm getting ready for baby showers. 

I'm not sure if I'll pick up posting more regularly again or not, but I thought this season warranted a post. As hard as it is to believe, I may not remember it very well in a few years. And I want to remember how awful it was but that it didn't last forever. And I want to remember how much good was in the midst of all the mess. I was loved well, the church was the church, and we're about to be parents.

[College BFF, coffee, and a couple baby bumps at Union Station in Denver.
Mine was still in the "is that girl pregnant or pudgy?" phase.] 
[Enjoying a Azteca D'Oro Mexican Spiced Hot Chocolate with two shots of [decaf] espresso,  and coconut syrup from the coffee shop where I worked during college.]
[Pink icing. It's a girl!]
[Pre-pregnancy, I had kicked the soda habit for the most part. Now, I crave coke. Like, walk to the store when the roads are covered in snow because I NEED one kind of craving.
I'm sorry, Baby Girl. Mama is trying to quit. But to be fair, it's also kind of your fault.
[Me, my Baby Daddy, and Mustache.]
[See you in a couple months, Baby Girl!]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pickles, Hold the Vinegar

This post is late. But I made pickles. I learned this method/recipe from a fabulous woman that lives in our antique town who knows how to do all sorts of stuff that my great grandmother would have done on a daily basis (i.e. milk cows, use every single part of a chicken, make butter, make cheese, basically homestead the crap out of everything) and loves to teach younger women how to do it all. 

*Please Note: This is hit and miss, so, as with most how-tos on the internet, please use good judgement...if the pickles smell or taste weird-DO NOT EAT THEM. 

grape leaves (whatever it is that makes pickles crunchy occurs naturally in the grape leaf)
2 quarts of purified water
bunch of fresh dill
1/4 C pickling salt
4-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
little cucumbers

1. Pour in purified water and mix in the pickling salt (regular salt makes the pickles mushy...ew)
2. Line the bottom of a large jar with grape leaves (wash the leaves first)
3. Cut the ends (just the tips) off of the cucumbers and put them in the brine (doing this first helps hold the grape leaves down because they like to float up)
4. Peel and gently mash garlic cloves and add them to the brine
5. Chop the ends of the stems off of the dill and break the stems in several places, releasing the fragrance. Chop a little, then add the chopped dill and the bunch with broken stems to the brine
6. Make sure the future-pickles are covered by the brine (use a bowl or something weighted if needed to keep them submerged) and cover top of container with cheesecloth or thin dish towel and leave them out on the counter, out of the sun for at least three days (naturally extremes in temperature are not good for this process)
7. There will be "scum" that grows on top of the brine...scoop it out each day
8. On the third day, if you prefer a more cucumbery flavored pickle, after you scoop off the "scum," your pickles are ready. You can slice them or leave them whole. If you prefer a more pickle flavored pickle, just leave them in the brine for a couple more days. (I do five days total but then the "scum" starts to really sick me out and I can't take it any longer). 

Comment below with any questions or let me know how yours turn out!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Farewell

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am leaving the wonderful job that I've had for the past seven years. In fact, today is my last day. My boss has always said that he hopes that anyone who works here looks back on the job as the best one they have ever had, and in many ways, I think it's going to be hard to top.

This job has been fabulous...I've been working for the BEST university in the entire world-a private Christian University in NWA [I drank the Koolaid, ya'll-even though I don't work there anymore, I'm pretty sure I'll never stop recruiting] and I think I could have stayed forever. But in July of 2013,  I felt like the Lord told me that this would be my last year working in the admissions office. 

My "job" was basically to serve students and parents figure out the whole college thing....and I often found myself in the middle of helping them figure out very difficult parts of their lives, like adjusting to college life after the loss of a parent, or balancing school and taking care of a baby as a single parent. Or making difficult financial decisions. 

I have seen the best in people, the worst of people, and found myself in some pretty ridiculous situations. I had a mom tell me with pride that her son had broken up with his girlfriend because she put his hand on her boob (he was sitting right next to her and this was the first time I had met either of them). I had a dad yell at me for a good half hour because his daughter's ACT score wasn't high enough for an academic scholarship. I had a mom make a quilt for me when she found out I was getting married. I was promised homemade salsa grown out of a family's garden [I later prayed that they would forget to deliver on their promise after they told me what they use in their compost pile. That prayer was answered]. I had a parent send me a plant after her son closed his application to attend another university. I had a man call to talk about going back to college and subsequently tell me that "I looked like a girl who wore my hair up during the day and let it down for her man at night." I had a student take off his shirt in the cathedral during a tour to show me his tattoo and his mom spent quite a long time touching his fleshy back explaining the meaning of each image to me (it reminded me of bread dough). I've had baked goods galore show up on my desk from parents after new-student move-in. I've read some of the most bizarre essays on the planet and seen some email addresses that were clearly not thought through before creation. So many things that I remember and even more that I've forgotten. I basically missed the opportunity to write a very entertaining book. 

As cliche as it sounds, I can't even begin to describe the blessings that I have experienced working there. And the people that I've worked with really are like a second family. There is a lot of turnover admissions offices in general, but in a rare stroke of luck, I've worked with the same group of people for two years in a row. Of all the teams I worked with over the past seven years, this one was THE.BEST by far.

A month or so ago, we all got together for a going away dinner since several of us are going off to Duke for grad school, one moving to Tennessee, on starting a teaching career, and me moving into children's ministry at our church [talk about the Lord using the least likely...but that's another story entirely]. There are several little traditions that we have when saying goodbye, like hanging our desk name plate and magnetic name tag from the ceiling (yes, it looks horrible) but this group of my favorites got creative on me. Since I lasted seven years (5 years past the normal "life-span" in admissions), they decided to do something a little more elaborate. As a farewell, they surprised me and all got tattoos. 

I've always had a hard time closing the door on a good season and throwing myself completely into the next. And the past seven years has been a particularly amazing season. But, as impossible as it may seem in the transition, I have to remember that there has yet to be a new season that hasn't been better than the last. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014


We've lived in our antique house for six years and besides putting the privacy fence around the back yard and painting a few rooms, we haven't really done much to it. Apparently we're trying to make up for lost time because we've had my dad slaving away over the past couple of months (hello tax refund), knocking out projects left and right. He single-handedly built us a beautiful new deck, put a fence around the garden, fixed a hole in our front porch, and replaced half our roof (Mr. F did help with the roof..... #mancard ). 

Long story short-my dad is a stud (and the one responsible for the most popular post on this blog thanks to google image searches and pinterest pins.)

This project frenzy may have something to do with the fact that I'm leaving my full time position of the last seven years in a little over one week (one week-good grief). I'm trying to get a bunch of stuff done before we have to adjust to a smaller income. We've worked on paying off our debts the past few years (we're not done but we're close enough) and because of that, we can live on less. And I'd like to do things a little bit differently than we have. We may have a smaller income, but I'll have more TIME. And with that time, I have plans (I'm excited to kick off said plans with a much-needed deep cleaning and organizing of our antique house). There are plans to work out regularly. To learn how to sew. To volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center. To spend less-rushed time with my friends. Plans to spend more time in the Word. To clog up the world wide web with more blog posts. More time cooking. More time doing the things that I feel like I was built to do. More time being me. 

I'm sure I've romanticized it but I'm convinced that I'll be a better version of myself than I've been in a long, long time-a better representative of Jesus, a better wife, a better sister, a better friend, etc. -but the bottom line is that I'm so thankful for this new season. I've been given a gift-and I can't wait to live it.