Our Morning Routine

Although all our days are all looking the same, no two days are ever exactly the same. We have loose routines we follow most days, but how our days actually look depend so much on sleep, the weather, Mae’s attitude, and many, many other things.


Right now we have a loose routine that works well for us. It has changed with the current shelter-in-place orders, and it will change again when we welcome the next addition to our family.


Our current morning routine consists of Bible/reading/prayer time, exercise, breakfast, garden, and chores. The order changes slightly each day, but we follow a rough schedule each morning.


Bible/reading/prayer


My ideal morning would be to wake up an hour before Mae and have plenty of time to sit down with a cup of coffee and my Bible and journals. Some mornings everything works out and it is lovely, but many mornings I either wake up with Mae, or she wakes up shortly after I do, when I am barely into my study time.


When Mae does wake up before I am done with my study routine, we always cuddle for a few minutes (she likes to take her time to wake up), and when she is ready I’ll get a stack of books or a few quiet toys for her. She sits quietly (most of the time) next to me and reads or plays.


Exercise


Continuing my ideal morning, I would love to always exercise before breakfast. However, it depends largely on how much sleep I got the night before, when Mae wakes up, and what the weather is like.


Running is my choice exercise, but right now I am not able to run as much as I would like. I currently have the goal of running three times a week, 3-4 miles each time, and I am no longer able to run 3-4 miles straight through! I do a run/walk, usually running for 5 minutes and walking for 1-2 minutes. Other days I walk to get my daily goal of 10,000 steps.


Mae rides in her stroller, and thankfully she loves it! She always picks out a toy or two to bring along, and if she is hungry a snack. She has memorized which houses have flowers and which ones have dogs, and she loves pointing them out.


Some days I also do prenatal yoga or other prenatal workout videos from GlowBody PT. Her whole prenatal plan is free on YouTube!


Garden


I like to get out in the garden after exercising because I’m already sweaty and dirty. Depending on the day we might just go walk around and check on all the plants and spend just a few minutes, or we might spend an hour weeding and watering as well.


Mae loves being outside for any reason, so she is perfectly content to wander and play around while I work! Of course she helps as well. She has her own watering can and she brings it to be periodically to ask for more water to sprinkle on the plants. If she isn’t watering, she’s digging and making piles of dirt.


Breakfast


We eat pretty much the same thing every day for breakfast: oatmeal. I always like to include some fruit, such as apple, banana, or blueberries, and we all love peanut butter in our oatmeal! Mae and I sit at the table and eat together most days, and that’s when we do our Bible and memory verse time.


I use The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes for Mae’s Bible, and I’ll read at least a page to her during breakfast. She loves it and asks for “more Bible” again and again, so we usually end up reading three or four pages most days.


The memory verses are more for myself at this point, but Mae still enjoys it and asks to do them again and again. Growing up we memorized several verses and passages as a family, and Mama wrote them all in a journal for me when I left for college. I have written all these verses on index cards and put them in a box to review a few every day. Reciting them out loud is helpful for me, and I hope if I do them enough with Mae she will begin to retain some of it.

Mama has a whole post about a scripture memory box you can read on her blog. This is what I have made for our family.


Chores


After breakfast we do whatever chores need to be done for the day. We do things like making up the bed and unloading the dishwasher daily, and Mae “helps” with both. I try to start a load of laundry every morning as well.
I try to stick to a schedule for cleaning the house in a week, and I loosely use Clean Mama’s weekly cleaning routine. Some days I do meal prep or other kitchen tasks, and some days there are just particular chores that need to be done. I try to make a list of all the chores we need to do in the morning with my Bible and journal time, but sometimes we just do whatever comes to mind for that day.


The order might change, but that is roughly what we do every morning! Saturday and Sunday mornings usually look different, but not by much.


Do you have a morning routine you like to stick to? What does it look like for you?

Pregnancy Update: Baby #2

Today I entered into the third trimester with baby number two! I thought I’d write a little pregnancy update and tell a bit of the story with this sweet baby we get to meet in a few more weeks.


Getting pregnant/finding out


I was only 20 years old and we had been married for 6 months when I found out I was pregnant with our first child, Mae. It was a complete shock and it took me some time to comprehend it all and be happy about it. Of course Mae is the biggest blessing in our lives and I am so happy she came when she did, it was just a shock and struggle at first!


When Mae reached a certain age we decided we were okay, and ready to get pregnant again. I had finished school and in nine months Mae would be ready to be a big sister. Once we made this “decision” and changed our mindset I was very, very ready to be pregnant again.


But, as is normal, things did not go as we planned. Friends and family around me began announcing pregnancies, and I had negative test after negative test.


I believe God’s timing was perfect though.


In December I began getting slight suspicions that I could be pregnant, but I wouldn’t let myself dwell on it or read into my feelings too much. On a trip to Walmart I decided to pick up a pregnancy test, but they were all gone! Except for a few more expensive ones, and I was not sure enough to spend a lot of money on a test. I decided it was fine, and I could wait a little longer if I was going to be disappointed again.


A few days later we made the trip to Florida to be with Sam’s family for Christmas. We ran by Walmart to pick up a few things, and I made sure to grab a pregnancy test.


It was positive.


I went into the room where we were staying and told Sam. I was a little in shock, and I kept asking him if he really saw two lines. Were they really there?


Telling the family


I calculated my due date and how many weeks I thought I was, and I figured I was about 8 weeks. We decided it was not too early to tell his family, so we told them that day at lunch.


Sam wanted to tell them very casually, so I left it up to him. When my mother-in-law began bringing out dessert, someone mentioned making coffee. My pregnant sister-in-law requested decaf coffee, and Sam said, “Julie will take decaf too.”


I remember my sister-in-law giving me a look like she knew, and Sam simply said, “She’s pregnant, you know?”


I started feeling nauseous about a week later, but we had decided to wait until Christmas to tell my family. It was so hard to keep it a secret! On Christmas Eve, when the whole family was together (except, sadly, our brother-in-law) I put a shirt on Mae that said “Big Sister.” We were about to eat dinner, so we put a bib on to cover it up. After we all sat down, Sam made a comment to Mama about Mae’s new shirt. She lifted up the bib and immediately asked, “Is it real?”


We told a few close friends right away, and we announced it to everyone else after I had my first doctor’s appointment at 13 weeks.


First Trimester


So far I have been blessed with very easy pregnancies. The first trimester was the hardest both times, but overall it was not so bad. I even felt better with this baby than I did with Mae.


I was absolutely exhausted all the time, and having an energetic toddler who was still nursing didn’t always help! I felt nauseous and had an aversion to many foods and smells, but that was the extent of it. I never threw up or had any extreme symptoms.


By week 15 or so I felt my energy coming back and I started eating more normal foods and handling smells.


Second Trimester


I love the second trimester! My energy is back, I start exercising much more regularly, and baby starts growing and kicking! Oh, how I love sweet baby kicks.


Although we did find out Mae’s gender before she was born, we decided to be surprised this time! At first I was sure baby is a boy, but later I began to waver and think she’s a girl. Now I have no idea and no feelings, but I am so excited to meet him or her!


Mae definitely does not understand, but she loves babies in general and she loves to talk about the baby that is going to come live with us soon. She will rub and kiss my belly, lovingly calling it “baby.” Sometimes she also says there is a baby in her belly or Dada’s too. She changes her answer every time we ask her if she thinks baby is a boy or girl, but she loves to say the name we have picked out for a girl (we already decided on both names).
I am excited for her to be a big sister. She is so sweet and loving to all her baby dolls, giving them kisses and bottles, asking them which book they would like and sharing all her snacks and toys with them. I’m not sure how she will be with a real baby taking up my attention, but I do think she will love him or her.


We are immensely blessed by God, and I am so thankful for both of my precious babies. I can’t wait to meet Mae’s little sibling!

Adventures part two: Sam’s Big Race!

Last year for Christmas, Sam asked for his present to be the entry fee to a race. Not just any race, but the LongHaul100, a one-hundred-mile-race.

Saturday morning, we woke up early and packed our bags for the day. I had lots of snacks for Mae, extra clothes, food, and water for Sam, and that was it. (We quickly realized that we were majorly under-packed, but thankfully we had some help along the way!

Getting ready for the start!

Sam began running at 7 am, and after he started, Mae and I walked a mile away to the center of the racecourse. This race was perfect for spectators because the course was set up somewhat like a cloverleaf. There were three loops off of the center section that were three, five, and two miles, so for every ten miles that Sam ran, we were able to see him three times.

A few hours after the start, my sister-in-law and nephew came to watch as well, bringing a stroller and more snacks and water.

Later my brother brought several friends from college, and they brought us two chairs and more water, which were huge lifesavers! Most of the other crews set up to aid and support runners had tents, cots, chairs, tables, and huge spreads of food. When we first arrived we had a couple of backpacks and some food.

Great supporters!

We played with the babies and visited with other spectators while Sam ran and ran and ran. Every so often he would ask for a particular food, but most of the time he just wasn’t hungry because he was running and it was pretty warm.

Later that afternoon, Sam’s parents came (bringing more food, water, and another stroller!), and Sam’s dad was ready to run several miles with him as soon as he hit mile 60. All the participants in the race were allowed to have pacers run with them, but not until mile 60.

Grandparent time!

It was right about that time that the babies started getting sleepy, and mosquitos began coming out. I was so torn between staying with Sam and getting Mae home and to bed, but Sam encouraged me to go back and do what I needed to for Mae. The plan was for me to sleep a couple of hours with Mae, then drive back out to the course with my brother-in-law that night to see Sam finish.

I fell asleep putting Mae to bed, but not before I set my alarm for 1:00 am to get up for Sam. The next thing I knew, Sam was in the room with us. I was so confused. Did I sleep through my alarm and miss the finish?

I must have asked him how he got there, and he told me he quit. At mile 76 he decided that it was enough. He felt good enough to walk it out to the finish, but he just didn’t want to. He just wanted to go to sleep!

Thankfully a friend had been there with him at the course when he decided to quit, and he was able to drive him home.

That night Sam said he would never attempt a 100 miler again and that anyone who did them was crazy. I think 76 miles is a HUGE accomplishment, and I am so proud of him.

It only took until Monday for him to start talking about trying one again, though…

Adventures part one: Mae’s First Airplane Trip!

We have had quite the adventures the past couple of weeks!

To begin, poor Mae got sick. This is only the second time she has been sick enough to merit a visit to the doctor and it is always so pitiful and sad. She began running a high fever one night and it continued for a few days. I could tell she felt awful and it just hurt my heart 🙁

We spent lots of time just like this while Mae was sick

We were scheduled to leave for Florida on Thursday (January 16) for Sam to run a big race on Saturday, but I ended up taking Mae to the doctor on Thursday instead.

After MUCH debating we made the very hard decision that Sam would go by himself to the race in Florida and I would stay home with Mae. She was not in any condition to travel Thursday night and Sam needed to leave very early Friday morning.

I began looking at airplane tickets for Saturday, thinking if I found a good enough deal I could fly in and still be with Sam for part of his race, then drive back with him a few days later. Sam’s race was 100 miles, so he would be running all day!

But last-minute plane tickets can be astronomical and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to make it work.

Friday morning I called Sam to check on how his trip was going and Mama came into the kitchen with her laptop, asking if I still wanted to try to go be with Sam. Prices had changed overnight and she found one for about $100 dollars cheaper than what I had been looking at. And it left in a few hours.

Mae had already started taking antibiotics for bronchitis, so she was feeling much better and not running any fever. So we bought the ticket, packed, and left for the airport (which was 2 hours away) within an hour! 

We were even going to beat Sam there!

Mama parked at short-term parking so she could go inside the airport with me and help me check-in and get my bags all situated. I handed in my boarding pass and they asked for Mae’s birth certificate. Which I did not have.

I began to panic a bit inside as we explained that we didn’t know you had to have a birth certificate for a lap infant, but the workers were so kind. They asked if I had any proof of her birthday, like an insurance card or another source of id?

We finally got it all worked out, thanks to the extreme kindness of the workers at the counter. We said goodbye to Mama and headed to security, where again everyone showed us such kindness and offered to help in every way.

We made it to our gate! Mae was much more interested in eating snacks than taking a picture with me.

I’m not sure if everyone could tell how nervous I was to fly with a baby for the first time (and a somewhat sick baby at that!), but I am so thankful for how God watched over us and helped us through everything.

Mae did well on the flight, though she did tell me she was all done and kept pointing to the aisle. She nursed on the ascent and descent to avoid popping ears and took a mini nap and played with stickers in between.

Again, Mae was not too keen on taking a picture with me

My lovely sister-in-law picked us up from the airport and Sam met us at their house a couple of hours later.

It was a crazy day, but we were so happy and thankful to all be safe and in the same place!

Part two is coming soon!

Why I Journal

I began my first journal when I was ten years old. The idea of keeping a journal had always appealed to me, as I loved to write and notebooks, paper, and pens were a few of my favorite things.

I opened up a purple shimmery spiral-bound notebook from the dollar store, sharpened a pencil, and began to write. Once I started, I didn’t stop filling the pages with random happenings of the day, ways my siblings annoyed me, and stories, plans, and dreams covered the pages, transcribed in chunky, printed pencil letters.

I journal to remember

For years I kept my journals on and off, always filling them with girlish secrets and thoughts that filled my head, begging to be let out on the paper.

Over time my journal entries began to change. I filled the pages with less of my silly disappointments and secrets (life as a 13-15-year-old felt very tumultuous), and more with memories, I wanted to remember, prayers I prayed in my heart, and truths I was learning.

Although I cringe to read what I wrote in the earliest notebooks I filled, I am thankful for what they contain. I am grateful to see how I have grown and matured and what God has done in my life.

I especially love to go back and read my thoughts from my first semester of college, when I had so much uncertainty and fear. The entries are filled with doubts and worries, but they are also underlined with admiration and excitement. After I met Sam the first couple weeks of school, my journal began to be filled with everything he did and said, and prayers asking God what it all meant.

Now I look at my life and see the amazing way He answered those prayers!

I journal to think more clearly.

While it has gotten better as I’ve gotten older, I often find myself struggling to speak words when they would simply flow out on the page. Something seemed to click in my mind when I put pen to paper and my thoughts were unlocked.

I noticed this especially as Sam and I dated. He would ask me questions and opinions, and I felt I simply couldn’t answer. That night I would write all my thoughts and feelings on whatever subject about which we had spoken. Sometimes I would ask Sam to read whatever I had written.

Now, thankfully, I am much more able and comfortable to speak about certain things, but I still find that writing my thoughts provides much more clarity.

I journal as a discipline.

A few years ago (2011? 2012? I can’t remember) I had the goal of writing in my journal every single day. Some days I wrote only one sentence. Some days I wrote three pages. But I wrote every day, and it helped me form a habit.

Journaling is not beneficial to me every day that I do it, but overall it has been a helpful practice, sometimes the help just being the habit itself.

The reason this habit that I’ve had for nearly 12 years made it to my list of 20 goals for 2020 is that after Mae was born in 2018, I have not consistently journaled. My goal for this year is to journal all 366 days!

I will continue to journal for these reasons. I will continue to record what is happening in my life, from truths God is teaching me in His Word, to prayers and requests, to sweet memories of my family I never want to forget.

Do you keep a journal? How has it helped you?

20 for 2020

Twenty things. This year I have twenty goals, ranging from huge, year-long goals, to small one-day goals, and different achievements in between. Some are important, others are merely for fun. For all of them, I am excited!

In no particular order, here is my list for the year:

  1. Read the Bible in a year, in the historical order
  2. Keep our blog going
  3. Read 30 (or more!) books
  4. Declutter every room in our house
  5. Improve my handwriting
  6. Keep a journal consistently
  7. Send more snail mail + birthday cards
  8. Create a capsule wardrobe
  9. Have people in our house 24+ times
  10. Read more poetry
  11. Listen to more classical music
  12. Cook with Sam (and try new recipes together!)
  13. Have a successful vegetable garden
  14. Have a successful flower garden
  15. Learn how to make great bagels
  16. Do crafts with Mae
  17. Create/organize a craft area
  18. Make family books
  19. Work on renovating our house
  20. Play more piano

What are some goals you have for the new year?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It’s been a while, but one of my goals for this new year is to revive our blog. Life is still as busy and crazy as ever (in a wonderful way), but I want to be more intentional about recording what goes on in our little family as we learn and grow together.

New Year Goals

My word for this year is peace. My goal is to make a conscious effort to grow closer to God and have His peace within me, no matter what happens, big or small. I want to be less stressed and not allow little things to get to me.

As a wife and mother I know I often set the tone for our home, and I want our home to be a place of peace, for Sam, our children, and anyone else who steps foot in our door.

It’s going to be a wonderful year!

 

Our Second Anniversary

Two Years

Someone told me once that they thought the second year of marriage was the hardest because any infatuation is gone and any traces of the honeymoon phase have vanished. By the second year you’re left with who you are and you’re stuck with each other.

A little over a week ago we celebrated our second anniversary together! I cannot believe it has already been two years since we said “I do.”

In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday. Yet in some ways it feels like we’ve been married forever and I can’t remember what it was like before we were together. Both in the best way.

It has been two full, crazy, busy years, but they have been wonderful. We have moved several times, including across the world and back.

We have lived for extended periods of time with both sets of parents.

We lived in two apartments in Romania and a house in Mississippi.

We have traveled to five different countries and a host of states.

We have gone through pregnancy, childbirth, and many sleepless nights.

We have been together in sorrow and in joy; we have laughed together and cried together.

Two Things I’ve Learned

I’m pretty sure I’ve learned about two hundred things since getting married, but I’ll just stick to two for now. I have learned that marriage is hard but worth it, and communication is so important.

Marriage is Hard…

Sam and I were apart for nine months while we were engaged. He was in Romania living, learning, and spreading the Gospel, and I was in Florida completing my second year of college to get my AA. When we FaceTimed every morning (or afternoon for Sam—there was a 7 hour time difference!) we would read books on marriage and discuss them together. I remember one book in particular seemed to focus on conflict management. We finished it just for the sake of finishing, but we really didn’t think we needed it. Sure, we had our disagreements here and there, but they were all just miscommunication. It is hard to communicate perfectly when you’re separated by thousands of miles and a huge time change. When we got married and were together everything would be perfect, we thought.

Marriage IS wonderful and we love it, but it is not the perfect picture we had painted in our heads. Getting used to living with another person is hard. Discovering all your selfishness and faults, revealed by close living quarters is painful. Some level of conflict is inevitable.

Communication is Key

I recently told someone who was going into a long-distance relationship that communication is so important and I think having a long distance relationship teaches you that lesson very well. But I stopped myself. Did I really think mine and Sam’s long-distance relationship taught us how to communicate? Because sometimes communication is still a struggle.

I do think our time apart bolstered our communication skills. But it did not perfect them. Communication was difficult while we were apart and we thought everything would be better once we could just be together, but focusing on communication is still so important.

Just like we cannot build our relationship with God without intentional communication through Bible study and prayer, we continue to learn that building our marriage takes continual, intentional attention to communication.

…And it is all Worth it

We really have not gone through anything majorly difficult in our marriage, but what hardships we have endured have been worth it. Every hard time has taught us more about ourselves and each other and brought us closer together. Every difficult season has made us stronger.

It is all worth it.

Our Second Anniversary

Our second anniversary was simple, but it was lovely and one of my favorite days. Sam went to work and I took Mae to VBS (her first VBS!) that morning, and we were still unsure of our plans for the evening; we weren’t sure if we wanted to do something that night or another night.

Mama offered to babysit Mae, so we decided to go out for dinner that night. Then Sam called and said we needed to be home between 6 and 7, but he wouldn’t tell me why. So we ended up staying home and cooking supper together while Mae played on the floor. Then we lit candles and sat in our “big room” to eat supper.

Sam still wouldn’t tell me what his plans were, but right as we got ready to leave he asked me if I liked live music. Then I knew we were going to walk to the coffee shop downtown that has live music once a week, and it must be on Monday.

“That’s strange, no one is here,” he said when we reached the coffee shop. “I just thought we could hang out and relax together.”

The thought was still sweet, so I didn’t mind too much. We still talked to the owner and got coffee, and then Sam was ready to go.

“I thought we could go to Blue August and take a picture.” Blue August is the venue where we got married. When we got married two years ago I never would have imagined that someday we would live just half a mile away!

We were getting ready to take a picture outside when Sam told me to hold on a minute, went up to the door, opened it, and walked in!

“Sam! We can’t do this!” I exclaimed in horror, but he just laughed.

He had contacted the owner and she allowed us to go in and walk around between 6 and 7.

It was so sweet and so special to go back and see all the places from that wonderful day.

“This is where I got ready,” “This is where we waited to walk out.” “This is where we stood.” “This is where we had our first kiss!”

We walked back home and put Mae to bed, then we ate some of our frozen wedding cake and watched a movie (we were in Romania for our first anniversary so our cake was still frozen at home!).

It was all just about perfect.

Two years down, forever to go.

Hospitality: Why?

Why should you be hospitable?

You’ve spent hours cleaning your house, and there are still toys everywhere, dishes in the sink from your husband’s lunch, and you spot crumbs on the kitchen floor. Your baby is fussing and wanting to be held, but you still need to finish chopping a salad or making a sauce for the elaborate dish you’re making. What will my guests think of me if I’m still cooking when they arrive? If this sauce burns? If they see the crumbs on the floor or the dishes in the sink? If my baby is not perfectly happy when they step in the door? You begin to ask yourself a million questions, and stress and doubt begin to creep in.

You ask yourself, Why am I doing this?

The second time we ever had guests into our home after we got married, I asked myself this same question. I had only been in Romania for about two weeks, and I still didn’t know what I was doing. I agreed to have a couple over from the congregation one Wednesday night when I didn’t have anything in the apartment to cook, and the only food I had prepared was a spicy lentil stew, and Romanians typically do not like anything even slightly spicy. I was not comfortable with going to the store by myself yet, so Sam walked with me to get ingredients for soup and bread. Once the food situation was solved I began to worry about other things, such as how clean our house was, whether or not everything was in proper working order (such as the toilet or air conditioner), and of course, the fact that the couple only spoke Romanian, and I only knew two-weeks worth of the language.

I had a minor breakdown before we left to go to Bible study, wondering why I was doing this again?

First of all, being hospitable does not mean you must have a clean house or serve a fancy, elaborate dish. Second, there are many reasons for showing hospitality both for you and your guests. Here are just four reasons to overcome your stress, doubts, and worries and be hospitable.

  1. God commands us to show hospitality

There are direct commands and examples of hospitality throughout the scriptures, such as the example of Abraham in Genesis 18, and the command in Hebrews 13:12 to show hospitality to strangers in case we entertain angels as Abraham did. I Peter 4:9 tells us as Christians to be hospitable to one another without complaint, and Romans 12:13 also reminds us to be hospitable.

In addition to these examples, we can learn hospitality from the character of God. As Christians, our goal should be to imitate Him, and He is the perfect example of hospitality. He has created a beautiful earth for us and welcomes us into His family to partake in His feast, and He is preparing the ultimate home for us to welcome us into someday.

2. Hospitality is an excellent way to build relationships.

A wise Christian woman once gave me some advice on being a preacher’s wife, and she said whenever her family began working with a new congregation they made sure to have every family over for dinner at some point to get to know them. We implemented this practice in Romania, and we are trying to do it now (we’re still working through the list!) and I can attest to the truth of this advice. There is something about welcoming someone into your home and sharing a meal that bolsters a relationship.

3. Hospitality allows you to serve and grow.

Having people in your home is not easy. You may spend days cleaning the house or hours preparing food. You may only spend a few minutes on each. You may struggle with keeping the conversation interesting, continually checking to see if everyone is participating, or you may chat the evening away with ease. But no matter what, showing hospitality is a sacrifice and an opportunity for growth. It will not only bless those you welcome into your home; it will bless you and your family by giving to others.

Back in Romania, that second time I had people in my home when we left Bible study to eat together in our apartment the couple thanked us again and again, the excitement showing on their face. They stopped on the way to buy me a big bouquet of red flowers and ooed and aahed over our apartment. We figured out what to talk about and how to talk to each other, and they didn’t even laugh when I told them I was 12 instead of 20. When they left, they thanked us profusely and promised to have us into their home soon.

Our time together did strengthen our relationship, and the result was more than worth the stress leading up to it.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are the main three reasons our family continues to show hospitality.

Do you have any “whys” to add to the list? Why do you show hospitality?