stuff to love

Stuff to Love in July 2016

It was a full and busy month! Here's what kept me busy: 

Books: Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (I got an advanced copy and you can read my review here). As usual, I have about 10 other books going at the same time but I can't seem to finish any of them. Maybe I'll have more book recommendations next month. Or maybe I'll just continue to watch TV. 

Food: Loving $2 Taco Tuesdays at our neighborhood Los Agaves, brownies from the box, Fourth of July flag cake, Shauna's blueberry cobbler, McConnell's ice cream, and whatever easy pre-made meals I can scrounge up for dinner. This ain't the time for cooking and baking elaborate meals, my friends. 

Podcasts: Trump and the Evangelical Inferiority Complex, Sally Clarkson's May 1 episode: Expressing Love to Our Children Through Appreciation and Honor; Modern Love's Episode 14: My First Lesson in Motherhood; The Simple Show Episode 28: Fighting ISIS with Soap; Revisionist History's Carlos Doesn't Remember. 

Television/Movies: Season 1 of the Gilmore Girls; Born This Way (a reality show about adults with Down's Syndrome); The Beginning of Life (documentary about the early childhood years); The Drop Box (about a Korean man saving young babies); Ali Wong's one hour comedy special on Netflix (raunchier than I usually like but very funny); The Bachelorette, and The Newsroom. (Thank you nursing baby for giving me permission to veg out in front of the TV!) 

Wearing: Maternity shorts, maternity shirts, and sandals. All day, every day. Thank you summer for giving me time to fit into my regular jeans! 

Favorite purchases: Beautycounter's tinted moisturizer and new Rainbow sandals

Things we did: Sent the big kids to their grandparents for a weekend so we could rest, play and hang out with Zach and Dana; spent lots of time with Jonathan's brother Matt and his wife Elizabeth who were visiting California; hosted Jenny from Alaska for a special girls' weekend, celebrated birthdays, recorded several amazing interviews for the C+C podcast (get excited for August!); emptied the dishwasher 30+ times, went for walks, spent lots of time at the beach and pool, got very little sleep, nursed around the clock and snuggled a super sweet 2 month old baby boy. 

Stuff I love on the web:

Two questions to help refine your personal style (fact: my closet needs some attention.) 

I could totally relate with Get the Epidural and Why First Time Moms Can Have It The Hardest

Dear White Parents of My Black Child's Friends: I Need Your Help

Moving as a Child Can Change Who You Are As an Adult

I Have Cancer...For Now

Resources to consider when thinking about racial reconciliation

Anticipating/dreading: Anna's first day of kindergarten. Cue the tears. 

Stuff to Love in November 2015

Taken yesterday, at a very special tree lot known as Home Depot.

Taken yesterday, at a very special tree lot known as Home Depot.

Books: I finally finished a few books that have been on my reading list for ages! I never think there's time to read but when I pick up a good book it doesn't feel hard to find a few pockets of time throughout the day. If you grew up attending a high school church youth group you'll probably appreciate Addie Zierman's When We Were on Fire. If you've never felt comfortable with women being given "children's director" roles rather than simply being called a pastor, you'll enjoy Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. And...I'm smack dab in the middle of this French parenting book, which is fascinating!

Food: I made Ina Garten's Beef Bourguignon with all my college friends during our Colorado trip last month. It's a time consuming recipe with rich flavors; perfect for a winter dinner party. I made it again a few weeks ago when we had friends over, and served with a seasonal salad and Trader Joe's pumpkin pie cheesecake. Speaking of cheesecake, this copycat Avocado Eggrolls Cheesecake Factory recipe is THE BOMB, and easier than you might think.

Podcasts: At Home with Sally is new and not quite polished (yet) but I love hearing from a veteran mom when there are so few in the blogosphere/podcast sphere. Also, Elizabeth Gilbert's Magic Lessons is all the rage right now with my writer friends. I've only listened to a handful but they are certainly inspiring.

TV/Movies: While I occasionally need a veg night on the couch, TV hasn't felt very relaxing recently. (I've been spending more time in bed with a book, see above.) BUT, when we do sit down together we watch The Americans. We also saw The Martian (really good!) and took Anna to see The Good Dinosaur while we were in Mammoth. (It was cute but she may have had nightmares after seeing it. Oops.)

Wearing: A new Stitch Fix top, these lightweight Nike shoes and a killer pair of ankle boots from the Bass outlet.

Using: Mrs. Meyer's Orange Clove multi-purpose surface cleaner because it smells like CHRISTMAS and who doesn't love a little Christmas smell when you're cleaning your kitchen table three times a day? I used to be a loyal Vitacost fan but I recently tried ePantry and liked it too. There's something very satisfying about shopping for harder-to-find items without kids hanging off the shopping cart. If this sounds appealing to you, try my promo code for $10 off. (Honestly, I can't imagine life without online shopping.)

Favorite purchases: If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that we bought a minivan and essential oils last month. My legit mom status just went up about five points, and my cool factor went down by 20. But, we have cup holders! And three of us avoided Jonathan's stomach bug last week! I'll take these purchases as a win.

Things we did: Beach walks, afternoon tea parties, music class, bike rides, and afternoons in the cul-de-sac are all part of our regular routine. I also ran part of the Santa Barbara Half Marathon on a moms' relay team. (Such a fun morning!) The kids and I saw THE JANA ALAYRA in concert (also known as the best day of their lives) and we went to Mammoth for Thanksgiving week (braving very cold weather but sort of teaching Anna to ski.)

Reads I love on the web:

Sharon Hodde Miller's Follow the Fear, about realizing that helping the vulnerable might actually cost us something.

Why it's good to have a strong-willed child and why you should let up on them

Un-Haunted: Leaving Guns Behind in America by my friend Christin Taylor. Her observations will certainly make you think. Does anyone else still get worried every time you set foot in a movie theater?

The Real Secret to Making All Your Dreams Come True was a much needed read for me this month!

Anticipating: The holiday season, of course! Santa parades, kids' Christmas performances, baking cookies, making a gingerbread house, wearing Christmas pajamas, a wreath making party in Ojai, a romantic date night or two.

Stuff to Love in September 2015

Sands Beach, 7:30am, in my attempt to embrace ordinary weekday mornings. Definitely a not-so-ordinary view.

Sands Beach, 7:30am, in my attempt to embrace ordinary weekday mornings. Definitely a not-so-ordinary view.

It's a lazy Friday afternoon. The kids are napping (even Anna!) and I'm listening to an odd mix of albums on Spotify along with the constant clanging of construction outside our windows. (By next fall over 1,000 students will be living just a stone's throw from our yard, joining the two HUGE towers of freshman dorms which already exist. Hello, UCSB!) We are loving our new home, kind neighbors, safe streets, and ocean air. And, as fall approaches, I've been asking God to give us a heart for Isla Vista. I'm excited about the loads of students who are moving back into our community this weekend, even if their lives look absolutely nothing like mine right now. I've been told that Halloween in our neighborhood is OFF THE HOOK, and if El Nino hits, we'll also get to enjoy some amazing bird and duck watching in the nearby pond. 

That being said...there is no water (yet) in these parts. It may be autumn everywhere else in the country, but besides the abundance of pumpkin items at our local Trader Joe's, it might as well be July. I can't wait for October, which is my favorite month in Santa Barbara. The beaches aren't as busy, the weather is perfect, and you can almost feel a hint of "colder" days to come. 

In the meantime, this guy and I are enjoying Wednesday morning bike rides together. Sweet boy still loves being close to me, and I can't get enough of his giggles. 

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you'll know that I'm really excited about a new NIV Women's Bible which releases in a few days. I've contributed several devotionals, along with many of my Redbud friends and my college roommate, Katie. Here's where you can buy a copy...but cool are these journaling bibles? Decisions, decisions. Anyone use a journaling bible?

I'm also intrigued by adult coloring books. I haven't purchased one yet but Margaret Feinberg just released a beautiful one with scripture passages. If you're like, "Wait. What? Adult coloring books?" then you should read this article: What to Look For in the Best Christian Adult Coloring Books. My college girlfriends and I are already planning a coloring sesh during our fall getaway next month. #nerdalert

So long as I'm discussing random things you can buy at Christian bookstores, I'll confess I just bought Stephen Curtis Chapman's latest album. And I like it. You guys. I like Stephen Curtis Chapman. I feel so...old. 

Here are some of my favorite reads from around the web this week:

Understanding the refugee crisis in Europe, Syria and around the world 

True Believer? Why Donald Trump is the Choice of the Religious Right — Let me assure you—I will NEVER, EVER vote for this man. Someone take the microphone away. 

A very funny spoof in the housing market in Santa Barbara. (She cries.)

Why Generation Y is unhappy and Why it doesn't matter how you feel about your friends

This (kind of) explains why some women develop new allergies after having babies. (I can't wear earrings anymore without getting a splitting headache. Weird, right?)

One of my favorite new blogs recently discussed 5 Prayers Every Mother Needs to Utter

Why Christians Should Paint, Dance, Quilt, Act, Compose Music, Write Stories, Decorate Cookies and Participate in the Arts

My newest contribution for Red Tricycle: 8 Baby Sleep Tips for Desperate Parents. I knew those sleepless nights would eventually lead to some good writing fodder. #notworthit #learnfrommysleeplessnights

I’ve forgotten how to sit and rest

Thought happiness was being busy

Prayed a thousand prayers

For strength to keep on moving

Turns out I’ve raced by a lot of beauty

So lead me to still waters

Let this be my new prayer

I want a...

A little more love,

A little less movement

A little more quiet,

A little less noise

A little more wide eyed wonder

Of the simple things I’m holding

Embracing ordinary moments
— Jenny Simmons: More Love, Less Hustle

Have a fantastic weekend, and tell me what you're up to!