Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Identify the Dreaded "Marriage Rut" and How to Get Out

This post was a guest post on A Little Too Jolley

In the five years Zach and I have been married we've experienced a lot--completing school (him), new jobs (mostly for him), graduate school (for me), major scheduling differences, and so much more. In almost every year of our marriage I noticed that we started to get a little too comfortable with the same old same old. A night shift schedule followed by a baby have definitely caused the biggest shift.

We sometimes get into the unfortunate rut.

It seems that five years is not that long and a rut shouldn't be something I've had experience with, but in the age of Redbox, Netflix, and take out--it's all too easy to fall into a routine--which can often lend itself to feeling like your spouse is really a roommate. Ruts can be tricky. My husband and I still spend time together just about every night--so in all honestly it looks like a date night, but it stops feeling like a date night. Our lives become very routine.

Routines have a time and a place. They are great for building a friendship with your spouse and they are so nice at the end of a long day or week. It's important, though, to branch out and discover new places, interests, or things about one another throughout your marriage. This allows you to grow together as a couple.

Bringing the Spark Back to a Marriage

How We Can Tell We're in a Rut

When Planning becomes a Hassle
I know it's time to take action when I am too lazy to put effort into planning. We both enjoy our show and our treat on the couch--so rather than do something different and put the energy into making plans, I decide not to. When making plans for something fun or different becomes more work than fun I know we need a change. 

We Don't Ask, "What Are We Going to Do?" 
When our date night comes and we don't even put an effort into anything, it's time for change. We know what we're going to do and we just naturally do it. We don't change or put any effort into our appearances (especially after having a baby), we don't do anything extra or special, we just fall into the routine without even considering that maybe we should be doing something different.

My Attitude
When I start to resent the same old/same old it can cause contention and fast. I start feeling stuck or trapped and I want something different or more. My husband isn't as affected by doing the same things, but eventually it can wear on me and I know I need to make an effort to get us out of a rut.

Ask Yourself
Am I making an extra special effort to give time to my spouse and/or our relationship each and every day? If you're spending time with your spouse, but not putting a lot of effort into it, it may be time to start making some changes.

How We Get Out of a Rut


Communication is like the pinnacle of marriage advice, and with good reason. When you recognize that changes need to be made, it is always a good idea to discuss why you feel that way. It is important to ask for your spouse's advice in making changes for the better, but be sure to come to the table with your own as well. Making it a joint effort to keep things fun and lively will make the next few steps a lot of fun as you partner together.    

Force Creativity
Last year, my husband worked a night shift. Our happy little dinner, clean up, show, treat routine was no longer ours any time we wanted. When he was home and we had date night that's what we did. Always. It was something we enjoyed and we missed it when he wasn't home. Eventually I started to feel like we weren't spending our time together as well as we could. I suggested we change things up and brought up  "Alphabet Dating." We planned dates around the letters of the alphabet each week, alternating turns.

We really enjoyed forcing ourselves to be creative and discover new things to see and do together. We had a blast and it really made the time we spent together a little more memorable. Try alternating turns, alphabet dating, finding dates to do that are cheap or inexpensive--usually when you limit yourself in some way, you wind up with far more ideas than when you ask, "What should we do?" Instead start asking, "What could we do with $5 tonight?" Or "What could we do without leaving this house or turning on the t.v. tonight."

Make the objective of this change to discover more about your spouse. Read other date ideas online and if you find yourself wondering I wonder what he would do if we did ________? Or I wonder which restaurants he would pick for a dinner passport? You know you've got a good start. It's always fun to find entertainment together, but it's even more fun when you start to learn new things about your spouse.

I'd love it if you'd share your experience with this or any fun date ideas in the comments section, I'll come back and check them out!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pinterest Wins--March 2015

A few weeks ago, I announced a monthly series. This helps me to stay accountable and use my Pinterest account for more than just recipes or entertainment and it gives me an opportunity to share good content from other blogs. It gives YOU an opportunity to hear a second opinion on an idea/recipe/craft, etc. and maybe gives you just the little push you need to try it. I sincerely hope this series will benefit everyone involved. I spent this month experimenting with a few different pins, as always, some were fails and some were wins. Each month I will share some of my favorite Pinterest wins for the month. 

*This DIY moisturizer is amazing. I really trust Jana as a blogger and so I didn't really doubt that it worked, but I doubted that it would work for me. I have acne prone skin and I've used coconut oil as a moisturizer before and it doesn't really work well for me--I always feel greasy. Well, the blending and the addition of aloe vera really does make a world of difference. I love this stuff. It's easy to make, it's natural, and it's inexpensive. 

*These oat flour waffles were delicious. We tried a coconut flour based breakfast a few weeks ago and it was far from a win for us. I wanted to try something different, but still in the grain family. Oat flour is easy as you make it yourself (just mix oats up in your blender or food processor). The waffles smelled like oatmeal in the waffle maker and I was a bit skeptical, but they turned out really good. We will be adding these to our regular Sunday breakfast rotation. 

*This DIY drain cleaner really does work. We purchased a bunch of baking soda in bulk at our grocery store (Winco--$0.52 a pound!!!) and went crazy throughout our house as part of our Spring cleaning.

*These Paleo brownies were a win. They aren't an exact replica of the regular boxed brownies we are used to, but the chocolately flavor was a win and the texture was good enough. These make a good clean treat on occasion. 

*This delicately written post on the value of being a stay at home mom and the reasons behind is so good.  

**Of course for more winning material, follow me on Pinterest!


What are some Pinterest wins you've had this month? I would LOVE it if you'd share in the comments!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

3 Clean Comedians to Watch for Date Night

One of the benefits of blogging about marriage means that I come up with ideas that ultimately prove pretty fun to try out with date night. Zach and I enjoy watching stand up comedy every so often instead of television or a movie. If we're feeling lazy and just want to veg on the couch, stand up is often fun for us. We laugh together and we can be found incorporating pieces of the act into our daily conversations.

We have important values, though, in what we watch and allow in our home. I do not have any room for vulgarity and some comedians can get incredibly dirty. I remember watching a stand up comedian my brother showed me once. I was laughing so incredibly hard at one of his stories and then he started getting dirty and it just ruined the whole thing for me. Clean comedy is the best kind of comedy. If you share our ideals and want some clean comedy suggestions, I have three for you tonight.

date night youtube videos

Jim Gaffigan

Frank Caliendo

David Farrell

Rather than linking to videos directly (some stuff can be easily accessed through You Tube and others can be found through Netflix) I'll let you and your spouse play around and have fun exploring different content and pieces by these comedians.

We actually watched far more than these three comedians, but everyone has different comedy styles. For various reasons I chose not to include some of the other comedians we watched, so I didn't add them to the list. You can find some suggestions for more clean comedians here and here.

There you have it, date night made easy. Make a treat, look up these videos, and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite clean comedian? We would love to hear about it and add that to our date night plans!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Motherhood The "Never" Ending Learning Curve

One of my pet peeves before getting pregnant or becoming a mom was the warnings other moms would give you to "never say never." I really got upset when a mom would say that her baby wouldn't sleep in her bed and then another mom would say, "Oh you just wait!"

Even though I'm on the other side of motherhood now, those things still bother me. I think that as moms we need to respect and encourage moms to be with their plans and support them if they need us as they don't turn out later on. I'm so grateful for the people who supported me through my breastfeeding journey and helped me keep at it. They helped me stay true to what I had always planned on. On the flipside, though, I am grateful to those who didn't pass judgement or supported me as I changed my thoughts on baby sleep and brought my daughter to our bed--something I never thought I would do.

Whitney and I are both new moms and we are in this world together. We share a lot of the same passions--we love our husbands, our babies, the gospel, and books. Whitney lives in Georgia--my in-laws live there so I have a bit of a passion for the South and so does she--obviously.

We're both sharing some of our thoughts on a few hot motherhood topics during the first we've both had different experiences.


Whitney--At the hospital the nurses would check in on me as I nursed my son, bragging over what a great eater he would be! Things changed when we got home for the worst, research before his birth introduced me to many moms who pumped for their babies. When he refused me over and over again, breaking my heart in two, I decided to exclusively pump. We later found out he was tongue tied and that kept him from nursing, but I can say I successfully fed him for a full 6 months before switching to formula. As well an introducing formula, we started solids. I did a mix of Baby Led Weaning and baby purees. It was really whatever was around, I’m a pretty laid back mom. As long as the bites were mushy, that’s all that mattered to me! My son was a great eater, he loved all sorts of flavors. I gave him a little bit of everything and still do to this day. We try foods over and over again, more recently fruit has been his favorite (of course). He’s now ONE (sob) and drinks whole milk, which I mix with a little bit of formula to give him a milkshake type drink, haha, has fruits or blueberry pancakes for breakfast (minus the butter and syrup), he likes to eat throughout the day but eats whatever I’m eating so it makes this mama make healthier choices!!

Sharlee--JaiseAnn was breastfed from birth. A few hiccups meant that we supplemented for the first few weeks and then JaiseAnn gave us a run for our money with a bottle strike that lasted until she was a year old. At six months we introduced solids via Baby Led Weaning, but she didn't care for them too much. Around 7 1/2 months, she picked up on eating solids. Now she is still nursing, drinks whole milk from a sippy cup, eats three meals a day (usually veggies first), and loves snack time.  I had planned to go these routes all along but we nearly threw the towel in on nursing and when JaiseAnn's sleep got disrupted, I went ahead and tried to feed her solids in any form--cereal, purees, etc. I was desperate, but she wasn't having any of it. We eventually got there. 


Whitney--My son decided to join our family 2 weeks overdue (ouch) read his birth story here. I contribute his amazing sleep skills to being overdue. The first 4 months he slept in our bed in a co-sleeper. It was the best thing for everybody, my husband and I both loved having him so close. We have a king size bed, there was plenty of room. It was easier to feed him, diaper him, and we ALL got better sleep. The transition to his crib was simple, we placed him inside the sleeper he was already familiar with into his crib and later removed it all together. We’ve never had to cry it out, the longest he’s ever cried before passing out is 5 minutes, anything after that and I’ll reassess (diaper, bottle, rocking) and try again. Now at one he sleeps 10-11 hours at night, and takes a 2 hr nap in the morning and a shorter nap in the afternoon!

Sharlee- I could write a novel on our sleep situation. I started out thinking that JaiseAnn would sleep in our room until she was three months old, and then we'd move to a crib. I never was a big fan of sleep training so I told myself I'd just put her down for all of her sleeping from the beginning. Surely that would help solve a multitude of sleep problems. Well, she came and you couldn't get her out of my arms. She napped on me for three straight months pretty much. When the three months hit, I wasn't ready to move her out of my room. Eventually her sleep blew up in our faces and we decided to bring her to bed with us. I have a love/hate relationship with co-sleeping, but now that things have slowly improved, I'm leaning more toward loving it. It's not for everyone, but it does actually work for us.


Whitney--I had to laugh when I read Sharlee’s remarks here and hang my head in shame! We planned on cloth diapering as well, I was ALL about it. I think I needed someone to “show me their ways” because now we are disposables only and I have no idea how to even begin with cloth diapering. In our defense, I am hard core into recycling!!

Sharlee--We planned to cloth diaper JaiseAnn from the beginning, but we didn't have the money to invest upfront in the diapers while I was pregnant. JaiseAnn wore disposables for the first three months and then when I finally felt good about the brand/style/amount of diapers I would need I ordered them. JaiseAnn wears Bum Genius 4.0 one size diapers. We have about 18 diapers and we do laundry usually every 2 or 3 days. She wears disposable diapers at night--we never encountered problems, we just always kept her in disposable diapers at night. We use cloth wipes, with our own wipes solution, and we use coconut oil as a cream. 

Baby Gear

Whitney--We struggled with infertility before having my son (read those posts here) and for a long time I was bitter, resentful, angry. Then I had my son and the family and friends who had babies before me suddenly had all this baby gear to give us. It has been an amazing blessing in our lives financially. We want to live a minimalistic lifestyle and reduce, reuse, recycle is SO hard in the baby world. Never turn your nose up if somebody offers baby gear!! One of my favorite baby items is our baby carrier, I used the Baby K'tan till 5 months, then after that our Ergobaby, we love baby wearing!

Sharlee We tried to be minimalists about baby gear, but we wound up with a few things--a borrowed Rock n Play, a bouncer seat, and a swing. We also have a crib and a rocking chair. We used the Rock n Play a ton and the swing only once. I quickly learned how quickly babies outgrow their gear and if they don't like it, they really don't have time to learn. A lot of our supplies were wasted. It's hard to decide now if we wait around holding onto this gear for baby two. We have tried to maintain a minimalist approach to toys in our home, but it is often hard to get family members on board. 


Whitney--When our son was born, my husband was a full time college student and I was working full time. He was also living in another town an hour and a half away and commuting as much as possible. Communication, openness, and forgiveness were huge during that time in our lives. My husband is now fully employed, lives with us (oh yea), and I work part time! In marriage, there are good times and bad, but they never last forever. Being supportive and encouraging are the best tips I can give for marriage. I’m glad we didn’t give up on each other when times when hard, there has been so much joy since having our family!

Sharlee--Marriage after a baby was a big adjustment for us. We had some rough moments for sure. I am so proud of where we are now. Between me learning to be more upfront about asking for help and my husband knowing better how to help, we've been able to reduce the frustration in our home significantly. JaiseAnn's improved sleep really helped as she woke up every 20-40 minutes for several months. Zach and I never had a good chunk of uninterrupted time, but we finally have been able to enjoy our time together for longer periods and it has been so good for us. 

Body Image After Baby

Whitney--OUCH, Sharlee do we have to go here?! Ok, ok. Let’s not all bond over self hate ladies. I wrote a post about the dos and don’ts of post partum and body image was a huge part of that. Nobody told me what to expect, so I’ll try to tell you now. The first week home, I made the mistake of weighing myself and looking in the mirror naked (the horror). It doesn’t last forever, I promise. I wish somebody had told me that back then, I was terrified. My stretchmarks still exist, but they have faded, and they show the amazing baby I helped create! I’ve always been into exercise, while pregnant I walked 4-6 miles 5 times a week and tried to eat healthy, I still indulged with ice cream, chicken, and lots of French fries. I’m not close to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I’m mama strong and the scale is moving down, that’s what matters. Around 6 months I started home workouts and at 9 months I began my gym routine of exercise classes and cardio again. Now I have a gym and walking buddy, it’s the best!

Sharlee I was convinced that between breastfeeding and my plans to start exercising once I was okayed for it, that I would lose the weight. I had plans to be back in my pre-pregnancy clothes by my birthday which was almost nine months later to the day. I am still working on getting back into those clothes. I am proud of myself for not giving up, but it's been hard. Breastfeeding did not help me lose the weight and I'm sure our struggles with sleep haven't helped either. I made some poor eating choices for the first year and really have tried to cut back and do better after completing my first Whole30 in February. I have been working on balancing having a healthy body image right now and working toward improving myself. I am still trying to learn how to truly love and embrace my body and how to maintain moderation in eating--things that I think will be very valuable for my daughter to witness.

What plans did you have that you've been able to stick to and which ones have definitely been a "never say never" situation?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baby Feet (+Freshly Picked Giveaway)

Baby Feet

They are the first things to tell you and possibly warn-
Of the sweet spirit you're carrying even before they are born.
They kick you and push you and tumble about.
They're a part of the reason you love them no doubt.

Then ten tiny toes come with two sweet feet,
Into a new world with so much to greet!
We wrap them up in a blanket to keep them from harm
Then put them in knit booties and socks oh so warm. 

They are stared at and played with for hours on end.
They are kissed and tickled, on that you depend.

Then splashed in the tub and lotioned all up at night
Cuddled and held on to so tight.
Day in and day out 'til  one day they just stand.
And they start to walk  just holding your hand.

In such a short time they are sporting cute shoes. 
Walking and running about as they choose.
 I think it is possible to say this without fight.
Baby feet have a way of making our whole world seem right. 

--Elise Larson

Oh, those baby feet. When I was pregnant with JaiseAnn I remember her kicking me while I was in the middle of work meetings and sometimes I loved that little reminder that there was so much more to life than the stuff we were discussing in that meeting. There was so much to look forward to and so much more to care about than policies and politics. Those little kicky feet grew faster than I could have imagined. The day JaiseAnn really took her first steps, Zach and I sat on the floor encouraging her to come to us. "Go to mom!" "Go to dad!" And tears fell down my cheeks with those first wobbly little steps. 

Now, I can hardly keep up with JaiseAnn. She went from wobbling to walking to speed walking. I love those feet now just as much as I did when they were tucked safely within me! They have been with me since the beginning and now there are so many adventures for us to have together--so much for us to share. 

When it came time to outfit JaiseAnn's feet, I knew I wanted moccasins. I wanted a soft-soled shoe for her to really learn to walk. I was thrilled to receive a pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins to review. JaiseAnn's feet are covered in 100% genuine leather and each moccasin is handmade in the USA (there you go, mom!) These are the easiest things you will ever get on your toddler's feet--they slip right on. These are the only easy-to-put-on shoes that you will ever get to stay on your toddler's feet--the moccasins come with comfortable and flexible elastic that holds them to the little feet. These moccasins are extremely high quality (and so cute, might I add). I just die over these House That Lars Built Moccasins.  Now that JaiseAnn has mastered walking, I am even more grateful for these moccasins. They are high quality and keep her feet safe without compromising comfort. 

I love Susan Petersen and her empowering story behind Freshly Picked. I so appreciate that Freshly Picked works with many bloggers to review their moccasins. And I really appreciate that they are giving me a chance to give one of you a pair of Freshly Picked Moccs! That's right! 

I'm making it super easy on you, enter using the Rafflecopter below. But first, a few items of business:

*You may not enter this contest/win if you have won any other giveaway that includes Freshly Picked moccasins in the past 60 days
*The contest begins today 3/24 and runs for a week--3/31
*If you reside outside of the US and wish to enter, Freshly Picked will bill you for the shipping costs 

Good Luck and Thanks for Entering! 

I received a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 23, 2015

Make the Weekends Special--Tips for Stay at Home Moms

As a stay at home mom there can be times where it's hard to distinguish the days of the week. Every day is similar and the weekends are no longer what they used to be--late nights, late mornings, and relaxing around the house all day. But that doesn't mean that you can't find new things to look forward to during this new season of life. 

I look forward to weekends every bit as much as I did life before kids, it's just that now I have different reasons.  Here are some suggestions to help make the weekends special for you stay at home moms:

Tips for stay at home moms

Date Night
We choose one weekend night a week to set aside as date night. We usually stay in for date night, but we do something a little extra or out of the norm. (For some at home date night ideas see here.) This gives me a chance to look ahead to feeling pretty and doing something out of the ordinary.

You Time
I'm "on" all day every day during the week--even during JaiseAnn's naps (she naps on me and I work during those naps). I usually ask Zach to give me some time to myself--whether it's an extra hour to sleep in the morning, time to go for a run, or a bath in the middle of the day. I find that even that one hour each week really makes a big difference.

Sunday mornings are a morning "off" for me. I don't exercise, I usually eat an indulgent breakfast, and I spend a good few hours on the couch while JaiseAnn plays around me. I make breakfast and still do the "mom" thing, of course, but I don't run around trying to do a load of laundry, shower as soon as possible, or anything like that. Our church starts later in the day so I allow myself a late start on Sundays. Choosing a day to rest from some of your usual responsibilities allows you to really enjoy your weekends and look forward to time out of the norm.

What do you do to make your weekends stand out?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Not-So-Spicy Cottage Pie (Whole 30 Recipe) + Our Top Five Whole30 Recipes

During our first two weeks of Whole 30, we hit the jackpot with a few meals. We ended up repeated them at leat once (some even more). Now that we've been adapting a close but not quite Paleo diet for an indefinite amount of time, we've been rotating these through as we plan meals out each week.

A lot of people have commented on Whole 30 food and have told me that all they see "Looks gross." Well, we had fantastic results from Whole 30 and we enjoyed  most of our meals very much--we ate fried chicken, comfort foods, ribeye steak, hamburger sliders, and more. We ate real food. It was that simple. Find some of our favorite recipes below.


Recipe adapted from @Whole30Recipes

whole 30 comfort foods

Because JaiseAnn eats what we eat, we wanted to tone down the spice a little on the recipe we found. We ended up making quite a few changes to the original recipe and we love the result. This is a favorite and is easy to heat up for leftovers the next day. (We don't have a microwave and so sometimes leftovers can be a challenge, but not with this recipe!)


2 tbsp avocado oil
1 lb ground beef
4 carrots--washed and peeled
1 medium sized sweet potato
1 medium sized russet or red potato 
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground corriander
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 can compliant diced tomatoes
3 C beef stock (compliant)
salt and pepper to flavor 
2 cups frozen peas

whole30 recipes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Boil 6 cups of water on stove top

Wash and cut 1 of the carrots and the potatoes and place in boiling water. Cook until tender and then remove

Cut the remaining three carrots into coin sized slices

Add oil to frying pan and heat

Add beef and cook through

Add spices and tomato puree (while that cooks, separate the rest of the puree (from your can) into freezer bags, label them, and place them in the freezer.)

Add carrots and diced tomatoes

Add beef stock and cook until liquid reduces and thickens

While the "gravy" is setting, place the remaining carrots and potatoes in a medium mixing bowl. Add a little beef stock, salt, and pepper (and ghee if you have some on hand). Mix with a hand mixer until well combined. This is your root mash topping. 

Once the gravy has reduced and thickened, add two cups of frozen peas and cook for about one minute. 

Add the gravy mixture to a pie pan (or separate into 6-8 ramekins) and top with root mash. 

Bake for forty minutes.

Chicken "Noodle" Soup

This chicken soup is made with zoodles in place of noodles and I can honestly say that this is how I will make chicken soup for the rest of my life. It is just so good and filling. This soup is a JaiseAnn favorite--she wants seconds, thirds, and fourths of this meal...not even kidding.

Hamburgers with Sweet Potato Buns

I wasn't too sure about substituting a bun with a sweet potato and I was really doubtful that my sweet potato-hating husband would find anything redeeming about this meal. We were blown away. Salting the sliders is a flavorful combination and it's a a big win. We top our burgers with a little mustard and lettuce and the flavor/texture combinations are amazing. We have honestly had this about every week for the past two months. It's just that good.

Cracklin' Chicken

This is one of the meals I discvered, but I made Zach make. Fried food is just not a comfortable thing for me and I don't do it right. This stuff is amazing. It's so yummy. We served it to my whole family for Sunday dinner after we completed our Whole 30. My dad hates chicken unless it's fried chicken, but even then he usually complains. He went for seconds.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
We love beef stew. It's a perfect meal. It's all in one pot (the slow cooker, no less!), it's packed with filling flavor, and you can tailor it with any vegetables you want. Making this beef stew and adding the vegetables we had on hand made for some very filling and healthy meals. 

I'm always on the lookout for new recipes (always!) what's your favorite healthy recipe?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A 72 Hour Kit For Your Dog--Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness became an overnight passion/obsession of mine the day I became a homeowner. The responsibility sat on my shoulders and I felt the weight. I felt the need to prepare for an emergency. As we've become more established in our home and our family has grown--we have more people to prepare for. I'm no where near as prepared as I would like to be, but we take a few steps at a time toward getting there. 

As my mom knows that being prepared is important to me, she has given us a few gifts over the past few years to aide us in our endeavors. She has given us one of those emergency food packs with months worth of meals and a long shelf life. Two Christmases ago, she gave us some 72 hour emergency kits for our dog and our baby (though JaiseAnn wasn't quite here yet). 

pet care

I love having these kits in our garage--ready for any type of emergency. They are portable and can be taken with us if we needed to leave. I think a lot of people might forget about their pets when it comes to emergency preparedness. 

Here is a super simple 3 day food storage/supply kit for your dog:

*Three days (maybe a little more) worth of food

*A gallon of water (we keep two gallons on hand)

*Dishes for food and water

*A few treats and a toy

*A carrying pack

Our kit is kept in a reusable grocery bag. It's sturdy enough (and large enough)  to hold everything, but is also easy to access and easy to carry or transport. 

How do you feel about emergency preparedness? Do you have supplies for your pets on hand?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I Love You, Too Mom~Mothering at the Breast

When JaiseAnn was about five months old she would grab my fingers and hold them tightly when she went to nurse. In response to this I would always say to her, "I love you, too!" Though my daughter was and still is unable to verbally express her love for me. I like to think that I have been able to hear her "I love you's" for months now.

Breastfeeding bonding

Now instead of grasping my fingers, she rubs her open hand in circles on my chest while she nurses.

Now, at bedtime, she snuggles up next to me in order to fall asleep.

When she wakes up in the morning, she gives me the biggest smile. Then she moves over to Zach and lays her head on his chest. "I love you, Dad!"

When she's upset and I go to comfort her, my presence alone is often all she needs.

Our newest thing has been "giving five" during a nursing session. While JaiseAnn nurses I slap her hand in a "giving five" gesture and say, "I love you!" One "five" for every It truly melts my heart when JaiseAnn puts her hand up to give five first. And while we exchange our own little message, she smiles so big.

 I can't help but think about what a big role breastfeeding has played in our relationship. How it has given me a chance to take a calm few moments throughout each day and just be with my daughter. Our relationship was built on breastfeeding and many situations that have been a result of breastfeeding. I know that mothers bond with their children a number of ways, but this is the way that I have had a chance to mother and bond with my daughter and I wouldn't change it for anything. I love the way the breastfeeding relationship has shaped me as a mom and has directed our dynamic.

(Nursing has been a huge blessing for our family and we are still nursing at fourteen months. I do not advocate that all women should nurse--I do know that each situation is unique, but I think more women should have more information and be more informed about nursing. I love the Breastfeeding Diaries series over at The Girl in the Red Shoes because it offers  more insight into the REAL world of breastfeeding and it provides a sense of community. I am honored to be sharing MY breastfeeding story there today!)

How do you bond with YOUR baby/kids? Are there any choices you've made that have directly influenced your relationship with your child?

Monday, March 16, 2015

We're Not Exactly Newlyweds Anymore

We don't get as many wedding invitations as we once did...we are getting older and most of our friends are in the "having kids" stage of life. We are Mormon, though, and that means that there's always someone getting married--older couples' kids, sisters/brothers of people we know, friends of friends, etc. And it means that we can still expect a few wedding invitations each year.

Our first invitation of "wedding season" came in the mail over the weekend. As I looked over the card, I remembered how I used to obsess over engagement pictures. I would imagine that the couples must have felt like they were just on the beginning of the best parts of their life. When Zach and I got engaged, I did feel that way. And then after we got married, it was solidified: Marriage is awesome. Being a newlywed was the best thing ever. 

Enjoying your spouse

My marriage still is the best thing ever, but the reasons why have changed. I think marriage gets a bad rap sometimes because once people move beyond the newlywed stage the things that did make their marriage so awesome, might fade to give way to different things that can be just as incredible. Phrases like, "Honeymoon's over!" and "Ah! Life before kids, enjoy it now!" are heard all.the.time. I think people spend too much time mourning the loss of the great aspects of the last stage their marriage was in to enjoy the blessings and good that can be found in the new stage. 

When Zach and I were first married, life was incredible. We went to sharing our entire home together overnight. While there are adjustments to make--there is so much fun to be had. Eating dinner together each night, seeing each other and not having to say "goodbye" at the end of the night, starting your own hobbies and traditions at home and more. I loved nothing more than knowing at the end of the day we each knew where we were headed--home. And we were headed to each other. That feeling was one of the sweetest blessings of new marriage to me.

We spent our newlywed days finding television shows, having sleepovers in the living room, taking our dog for walks, and discovering new things we enjoyed doing together. 

Not long after we were married, we started experiencing what has seemed to be an ongoing car trouble situation. And I learned that marriage was a blessing because two people bring two different strengths to the table. As I have always been prone to worry, it was incredible to feel not alone in this worry. I knew that this situation wasn't mine but ours and that really helped take the weight off my shoulders. Where I worried, Zach was calm. He helped me to feel safe and secure and I loved marriage for the blessings of forging a partnership.

After Zach graduated from school I thought, "Finally, we will have a consistent schedule and time together!" Wrong. Zach's next move career-wise was a promotion at work that had him working the night shift. His weekends were Sunday/Monday/Tuesday and mine were Saturday/Sunday. We worked completely opposite shifts. And I learned that marriage was a blessing because you make it work. We still found ways to find a pattern, time for date night, and time for each other. Things weren't ideal, but we went with it because ultimately it was best for our family and our future.  While the days on the living room floor seemed a bit of a distant memory, we still found our way.

Sometime during all of that, I got pregnant and lost that baby. And I learned that marriage was a blessing because I had someone who took such incredibly good care of me through that time. It was actually a sacred time in our marriage and I am grateful for what it taught us about wanting to be parents and loving each other through the really ugly hard things.

When I got pregnant with JaiseAnn we experienced the pregnancy as "together" as possible. Zach went with me to every appointment, changing his schedule when necessary--though I never asked him to. He developed relationships with the midwives and had his favorite. Instead of spending our time playing card games and going on dates--we spent it preparing for the arrival of our baby and many times date night was childbirth class as Zach was still working nights. 

JaiseAnn was born and I realized how amazing marriage is because it can lead to the incredible blessing of family. I also learned how special it is to know that Zach loves JaiseAnn like I love JaiseAnn--it's something only the two of us know. Instead of camping out on the living room floor, we sit down on the floor and play with JaiseAnn before dinner and bed together each night. It's one of my favorite parts of the day. We share glances at each other and stifle laughs when she's being naughty but it's too funny, we laugh at her, and we try to teach her things together. We love her together...and that is so incredible.

Being a newlywed with Zach was great. Being a parent with Zach is phenomenal. Being married is the best!

My marriage as a newlywed wasn't great due to camp outs and funny memories--it was great because we were friends and we entered into an eternal commitment that meant we would go through many seasons of life together. Marriage is great because it's meant to evolve. It's meant to take you through life--all of it--the good, the bad, the ugly, and the changes with a best friend by your side.

How do you feel about the evolution of marriage? Do you think it gets a bad rap sometimes? Do you see these changes in your own relationship? What are some things you enjoy now that you didn't enjoy in the previous stage of your marriage?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Date Night: Couch Potato Proposals

Zach and I really enjoy watching shows together. It's relaxing and it makes for lots of inside jokes and occassionally some pretty good conversations. We typically try to avoid our shows as a "date night," though. We usually watch a few episodes throughout the week--and on date night we try to do something other than watching TV or playing card games (our other weeknight "go to.") 

We love that we can stay current on our shows now that we use Hulu and not just Netflix, but it has started to cause a bit of a problem. Now we rarely have anything to watch. Which means it's time to find some new material to add. 

Favorite television shows
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We were discussing this the other day and I decided that for date night this week, we would each pick 2 shows to present to the jury (us) and present a case for the show with some information about the plot and a few bullet points about why we would probably enjoy it. We are each going to veto one of the other's choices and then watch the remaining two pilot episodes and chose from there.

Yes, we're nerdy. But I am actually really looking forward to this date night. I think it will be fun and it will be neat to see what we each come up with. I need your help, though. Give me some ideas to present. I have a few, of course, but I really want to be thorough here. 

Some of our ALL-TIME favorite shows include:
*Burn Notice
*Lie to Me
*White Collar
 *And Zach might just cry if I don't say Castle because he has a man-crush on Nathan Fillion

We have several other shows on our list right now, but they are really inappropriate and unclean and we are definitely planning to phase them out. 

So help me out--What shows do you love and why?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What if My Daughter Reads This?

There are times when I write a post and I know that JaiseAnn might read it someday. I have to pause and think about publishing. Whether I'm sharing her horrible sleep patterns (evidence a, b, and c), or sharing honestly about the adjustment to marriage after having a baby, or maybe sharing about my body after a baby--I always wonder, what if JaiseAnn reads this. What will she think? How will it make her feel?

kids of mommy bloggers

One of the benefits of scheduling my posts in advance, means that I have over 30 posts in drafts right now. Before I ever publish them, I look them over, and tweak them. If there was something that was bothering me I usually am a little over the worst and I can approach the situation a little more clearly. I always want to be honest, though. I never want to sugar coat the adjustments motherhood and parenthood have required of me and us, but I never want to just spill my guts about the horrible day or week we've had. 

I find it a fine balance. I want everything I do--whether or not it's published on my blog--to communicate to JaiseAnn that I love her more than I ever thought possible. I want her to know that I enjoy her and that I look forward to each day with her. I want her to know that motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I am so in love with being JaiseAnn's mom that sometimes I have to pinch myself. Am I really taking JaiseAnn to the grocery store right now in the middle of the day? Are we really playing with bubbles on the living room floor together in our pajamas? How can this be my life? This motherhood gig is pretty awesome.

Yet, I hope that JaiseAnn will desire to follow this path. I hope that she will want and plan to become a wife and a mother some day. And when that day comes I know that she will have hard moments--sometimes the dream becomes a bit of a nightmare. My biggest desire is to help her through those moments. I hope to be present and help her out--help her with meals, and watching the baby so she can sleep or go on a date, and help her remember who she was before she felt this tired. But I also want her to have my words. To know that I traveled this road before and we got through it. I want her to see my reflections--the way that I found the good in the struggle and in the hard times. I want her to know she's not alone. I want her to know that it's so worth it.

What if JaiseAnn reads these posts someday? I honestly hope that she does. I hope that she sees these posts as honest but inspiring. I hope she feels that I honored her privacy and didn't share more than I should, but that I shared my heart. I hope she feels my love in every word--even the words portraying the hard moments. I hope that she finds strength in them and eventually a bit of community in them as she finds herself struggling to figure life out. 

Hi, JaiseAnn. If you're reading--just in case you didn't already know--I love you! And maybe you should bring me some ice cream as repayment for those rough days (and especially nights). 

Do you ever wonder about your kids reading your blog? Has this affected what you post?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Things I Need to Remember About My Husband When We Argue

The other day Zach came home from an event. He had a rough time and was telling me about an experience and an exchange with some other people that took place. The things he told me didn't set well with me for the night and the entire next day. I felt as though he was treated unkindly by someone and most likely judged unfairly and, quite honestly, unnecessarily. 
The situation really wasn't a big deal and Zach didn't let it bother him.  I, on the other hand, let it get under my skin. I needed to share some of my feelings and so I had a conversation with my mom and a friend. And then I had a conversation with the offender in my head while I was in the shower (tell me I'm not the only one who does this?)

tips for handling disagreements in marriage

There are just a few things that really bothered me when I thought of someone judging my husband or not being nice to him. Some of the things I wanted to tell the offender were:

*He would never ever pass judgement on you. At least not  for anything other than your political beliefs. I say that jokingly but it's true. The only time I've ever seen Zach "judge" another person was over politics. Other than that, he never makes anyone feel like less than they are or makes people feel bad. He's such a good example to me because he doesn't dwell on the little things--whether they are his little things or yours.

*He has a good heart...a really good heart. Before you go making assumptions I wish you knew how he doesn't even get through the door before his daughter is in his arms at night. He doesn't need "time to unwind" in order to happily and willingly  embrace his family. He leaves work early and comes home to surprise us sometimes. He will take over bedtime on the nights that I have no patience left and he is a master at handling JaiseAnn with great patience. He worked close to sixty hours a week for almost a year so that I could be home with our daughter, even though he didn't like his job all that well. He would undoubtedly still be doing it if he hadn't found a new job. He takes care of the people in his life. 

* So he's not like you. He's not high energy, super motivated, "We have to change the world right this minute!" In fact, he's super laid back. Yeah, I know it can be frustrating, but it can also be helpful and useful. Try to learn from him instead of only wanting him to learn from you.  Or at least try to understand him.  He rarely gets offended or worked up over things people say or do. He is often the calm voice of reason. He's a great example of manners and kindness.

*His best may be different than YOUR best. It seems so unfair to make assumptions about another person's efforts or work when you don't know what their strengths are and you are not seeing the whole picture. You not seen how he's put his time, effort, and energy into the things you are concerning yourself with.


 I was frustrated, upset, and angry. I let this whole thing get to me far more than Zach did. I stewed over it for a few days and then one day as I was thinking how "Nobody really gets Zach." I was thinking about how his family sometimes still thinks of him as a 17 year-old punk with a temper and how that frustrates me. Those who are aquaintances often only see him as a political instigator who is "always right."  I was feeling a bit frustrated about it and then so glad that I get to see the whole picture. That I know him. What a gift it is to be the high anxiety to his calm. It's just pretty darn perfect.

And then it hit me. Sharlee, do you rememer who Zach is most of the time?

And I thought of all of our disagreements and arguments over the past year...I thought of all the times I, myself, had passed judgement on him. And I realized that all of those arguments I had in the shower, I could just as easily be having with myself--especially when we don't see eye to eye.

*He never judges you, you should be less apt to judge him.

*He has a good heart.

*He's not like you and that's why you work. Embrace his differences, don't fight them. Try learning from him sometimes. 

*His best is not YOUR best. And your best is not his best. That's why you work.


The next time I start to get frustrated with Zach for being so different from me or the next time I go to pass judgement on him, I am going to make an effort to remember these things. To treat my husband with the same grace and respect that I feel everyone else should.

Do you have small reminders that you give yourself when you are feeling frustrated with your spouse? I'd love to hear them!

*This is  another way I am trying  to Renew My Marriage this year!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Join Me for the Pretty Pintastic Party--Link Up--Every Post Gets Pinned

Once again, I'm so excited to be participating in the Pretty Pintastic Party as a co-host! I love this link up. It gives everyone a chance for more Pinterest exposure (every post gets pinned!!!) and a chance to find new blogs that you might be interested. Link up a favorite post of yours below! 


 Important!!! It has come to our attention that some of you are not repinning the features! This is a key to making this party successful so please don’t skip it!! If this trend continues, we will begin to pick features only from those who repin.

But as always all posts are pinned; features pinned by all!
First, let's meet the hosts:
Alli from An Alli Event Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter
Daisy from Simplicity Relished Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter
Madison from The Wetherills Say I Do Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter
Heather from Divas Run for Bling Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter
Jamie, Kerry, & Lucy from Coffee With Us 3 Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter 
Here's what your hosts have been up to this week!

dotten-co-host Every week we will have a fabulous co-host! Our co-host this week is Sharlee from My New Lines.  Sharlee blogs her adventures as a wife, mother and friend.  She shares stories, tips and more. She recently posted about getting started with Whole 30.    
cohost44 Show Sharlee some love by following on Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter. Now on to the Party!!
This is a super relaxed party! You show up with your fabulous posts and we pin every single one! We only ask one thing from you!
  This week's Features:         features44PPP19-Features Sour Cream Red Enchiladas by A Dish of Daily Life 5 Things to Discuss Before Marriage by A Party of Four Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes by Growing up Gabel Peppermint Bath Salts by Pink Heels Pink Truck 16 Delectable Cupcake Recipes by Dreaming of Leaving DIY Rustic Styled Wedding Shoot by Tania Knows Best If you were featured, grab a featured button!!    
Pretty Pintastic Party
         Everyone else grab a button and help us spread the word about our party!!  Thanks!   button         
By linking up, you give,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, seekinglavenderlane.blogspot.comor any co-host permission to feature your post on social media and our blogs using a photo, title, and link to your site. Proper credit and links will be given to you.          

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