September 19, 2017

Church of the Small Things

I mentioned recently that I just finished reading an advanced copy of Melanie Shankle's new book and today is the day I get to share about it!

I found Melanie's Big Mama Blog several years ago and have enjoyed following her on various forms of social media as she shares about her life.  And I've enjoyed the books she's written before about motherhood, marriage, and friendship.  So when I heard that she was putting together a launch team for her new book I decided to apply.  I was able to get an advanced digital copy of the book and I soaked it all up!

At first I was curious what her new book would be about since she seemed to have covered the major parts of her life in her previous books.  The new book is about the small things in life and how they come together to form who we are.  So it touches on pieces of parenting, marriage, and friendship and also extends to relationships with her extended family, her life growing up, her pets, hair, home decor, and so much more.

With humor and heart, Melanie weaves together these stories and shares the lessons she has learned throughout her life from the people she encounters.  And she shows how it truly is the small moments that seem to have the biggest impact on our lives.  She talks about how we tend to focus on the big achievements and always look to the next big thing only to get there and realize that we want whatever is next.  It is not the big moments that truly satisfy or even remain in our minds, but it is the day in and day out faithfulness that shapes who we become.

Like I said in the beginning, I've loved all of Melanie's books, but this one seemed to come at just the right time for me.  As I've transitioned into life at home with Cooper, things look a lot different than I expected 5 months in.  I got over a lot of the shock of going from working full time to being home when we had the foster kids--and that was a hard adjustment (to put it extremely mildly).  So when we were preparing for Cooper, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of how I would feel being home with him all day long.  But I am loving it.

Honestly, I'm loving it even more than I expected.  So I'm not doing a whole lot else right now.  I totally thought that by this Fall I would be ready to get involved in some activities--Bible Study, Volunteering with ESL, Play dates, Moms groups, etc.  But I've found that I just don't want to be as involved in things as I once was.  And I've felt really guilty about that.  I've felt that I need to be doing more.  That I have time, so I should be involved in so many things.  And while I do need to examine my motivations and make sure that I'm not shying away from activities out of fear ot laziness; I also need to remember that God has given me this precious boy to pour love into.

It's easy to look at my life right now and think that it doesn't really count for much because I'm not doing the big things.  Or even the small things that seem to have more significance than "just" being home with my baby.  So I was grateful for the reminder that "We are in God's will when we wake up with a willingness to go wherever he leads that day, to seek him in the ordinary, and to love and influence the people around us."  This book has a lot of take aways, but one of the biggest ones for me is that I don't want to miss the holiness of each moment because I am looking for something more significant.  God has me right here as Cooper's mom and David's wife and he is using this season for my good and (hopefully) his glory.  So I continue to submit all things--big and small-- to him and allow him to work in me through it all.  I don't want to look back on this season and realize I wished it away longing for the day that I could do something more significant.  I want to see the significance in the moments I have with my family and those around me.

One final quote from the book that I really liked:
"We miss the holiness of this moment we're living right now.  There will never be another one like it.  And even if that makes you think 'THANK GOD, BECAUSE MY LIFE CURRENTLY STINKS,' there are still lessons to be learned, character to be built, and stories that will be told about where you are right now.  God takes all of it--the mundane and the ugly, the clean couch and the wine spills, the ordinary and the occasional extraordinary--and when we allow him to add his grace, his mercy, and his outrageous love, he adds a brushstroke there and some color here and so paints it all into one glorious work of art, one that only he can achieve through us where we are right in that moment-- in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our classrooms, in our communities and world.  No one else can live our story.  So maybe it's time to embrace all that is uniquely ours and realize that is exactly what makes it special."

I am so grateful for this book and all the ways it made me laugh and reminded me of God's love.  It comes out on October 3 and I've already pre-ordered my copy.  If you want to check it out, you can get more information at  There are some preorder bonuses if you pre-order a copy.  I definitely enjoyed reading it and I know it is a book I will come back to and reread. 

September 15, 2017

Sewing Project: Teething Necklace

Now that Cooper is putting everything is his mouth, he is starting to enjoy teething toys like his Sophie the giraffe and a silicone teething ring.  He also really likes to chew on my hair and grab for my necklace.  So I thought he might like me to have a teething necklace--that way there is something easily accessible for him to suck on when I'm holding him, especially when he's in the Lillebaby.  

I had seen a tutorial for making your own teething necklace, so I decided to try it out.  I made one a few weeks ago and it was fairly simple.  When we were making plans to go to the Rangers game, I thought it would be fun to have one with us.  So I used the leftover Rangers fabric that I had from our suck pads to make a necklace.  I knew it was fairly simple, but I decided to time it to see just how long it took.  From start to finish, I made this one in about 35 minutes-- the longest/hardest part was turning the fabric tube right side out after you sew it.  I followed this tutorial and it was super easy--I did end up sewing the ribbon into the ends of the fabric to make it more secure.

And viola!

And here it is on me at the game:

Cooper does still seem to love the silicone material the best, so I may get a silicone pendant to put on these necklaces so he has a little something extra to chew on, but he liked this one just fine how it was too!

September 11, 2017

Cooper's First Rangers Game

Yesterday Cooper got to go to his first Rangers game!  Those who know David, know that the Texas Rangers are one of his very favorite things, so we have been trying to find a time to take Cooper to a game.  We thought a night game would be too hard for him, so we'd been on the lookout for an afternoon game.  Almost every afternoon game is on a Sunday and that is when our Community Group meets, so we weren't sure if we'd be able to make it work.  But this year Chase asked for Rangers tickets for his birthday, so my mom offered to get tickets for the whole family for an afternoon game, so we decided to jump on the chance to spend the afternoon with family at the ballpark!

Cooper was all ready for the game in his hat and noise cancelling headphones.  We had talked about buying headphones but kept putting it off.  So on Saturday we made a last minute trip to Buy Buy Baby to pick some up.  And we are really glad we did!  Our seats were in the All You Can Eat Homerun Porch so they would be guaranteed to be in the shade, which was so nice--but it meant the echo of the speakers was really loud for all of the announcements and music.  So we were glad we didn't have to worry about his little ears!  Cooper was pretty tired when we got to the game-- he had stayed awake the whole drive there talking to my mom and Aunt in the back seat, so he didn't get a nap.  After about 30 minutes at the game he crashed and took a good little nap in the Lillebaby.  Then he woke up and enjoyed the afternoon with us!

 He spent a lot of time in the Lillebaby hanging out with either David or me.  We got to put our Rangers suckpads to good use for the game!

 But we also took him out for part of the game and he sat in our laps or with Grandma--and even Uncle Jeremy got in on holding him for a while.

 Happy boy at the game!
 A Dream come true for this Rangers-loving daddy-- enjoying his son's first baseball game

We had a great afternoon with family.  It was beautiful weather and a lot of fun.  If the Rangers had pulled off a win it would have been perfect--but it was a great experience for Coop's first game!

September 10, 2017

Our Sooner Bear

It's no secret that David and I are pretty big college football fans.  It is a sport that we both enjoy watching.  We like following our college teams and following college football in general.  So we were excited to introduce Cooper to the world of college football and get him started in his gameday gear :)  Since he has 2 teams to root for, I dress him in one team's stuff on Friday and the other on Saturday to spread out the love.  Here's some fun shots of our "Sooner Bear" in his gameday attire!

Fun fact: Cooper still fits into all of his 0-3 month clothes, but they seem like they might get too short for him soon.  These onesies are 3-6 months and they are a little big on him, but he seems to have hit this size at the exact right time for college football season ;)

Nothing says the start of Fall to us like College Football kickoff!  And it doesn't hurt that the weather has been amazing this week!

For a fun look back at our little guy--here's the post where he first wore his Baylor and OU hats

September 1, 2017

Cooper's Cubbyhole: 5 months

Happy 5 months, Cooper Paul!  You celebrated by sleeping your first 11 hour stretch last night!

Weight: 14.8 lbs
Diaper Size: Mostly 2--although you can still fit in size 1, it's starting to get too tight.
Clothing Size: Some 0-3, some 3-6.  You are too long for your 0-3 pajamas, but can still fit into some onesies of that size.
Daily Schedule: You sleep until about 7:30 or 8:00 most mornings.  Your schedule varies day to day, but usually you are awake for about 2 hours between naps and your naps last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.  You go to get between 7:30 and 7:45 each night. Most nights you still wake up to eat anywhere between 2:00 and 5:30, but sometimes you will sleep past that.
Things you Love: Songs and Music, Mommy, Sucking your thumb, Teething Toys (Sophie the Giraffe, Teething Elephant, and a Teething ring), being tickled, being in the water
Things you Don’t Love:  Being on your tummy too long and not being able to roll back.  This month you’ve started to respond more when Lily barks and you are not a fan.  You are cautious with new people but usually will give a smile when we encourage you to.
Milestones: It was a big month!  You started rolling to your stomach and now that’s all you do.  When I put you down on the floor, you quickly roll over.  You seem to have a little more control now and will stay on your back for a little while before rolling over.  You play on your tummy for long periods of time and are pushing up a lot with your arms.  When on your tummy you pivot around and can turn an entire circle (it just takes a while!).  You are also showing more recognition of familiar people--especially Daddy.  You have transitioned to sleeping unswaddled and are able to put yourself to sleep pretty easily most days.  
Memorable Moments: Your first swim, Your first true blow out diaper, Sleep training and establishing your bedtime routine

My little love, this month has been fun and crazy all at the same time.  We finally found a groove with feedings and your schedule and then you started rolling and we had to drop the swaddle and it felt like we were starting all over!  Giving up rocking you to sleep for every nap and bedtime was sad for me, but we still have lots of cuddles leading up to putting you to bed and you are doing so well learning to go to sleep without help.  It feels like that has taken up most of our focus this month, but there has still been so much fun too!  You are still so happy and are giggling constantly.  You light up when you see me and when you go to bed at night I find myself watching you on the monitor because I can’t get enough of how precious you look all snuggled up with your thumb in your mouth.  You are definitely more alert now and you don’t sleep as easily when we are out and about, but it’s fun watching you discover the world around you.  I love getting to experience it all with you and can’t wait to see what you learn next!

August 30, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

It's the last Wednesday in August, so I'm blogging about What's Up with us
What we're eating this week
This month I've been trying to do more meal prep so making dinner isn't quite so crazy.  So at the beginning of August I cooked several pounds of chicken a few different ways--I cooked some in our crock pot with just a little chicken broth, I grilled some, and I baked some with a few different seasonings (from this post).  We ate some right away and froze most of it and then have pulled out a little each week and it's still going strong.  I also bought some frozen fish that was easy to bake to include in our dinner rotations.  So this week we're having Chicken and Bacon wraps, Baked Chicken and Sides, and Baked fish and veggies.  We also have a few crusts left over from our community group's make your own pizza night, so we have 1 pizza night this week!

What I'm reminiscing about
Today is Chase's 6th birthday!  He started Kindergarten last week and we celebrated his birthday over the weekend.  I was recently switching some things over to a new photo backup site and this picture came up: 
And it made me reminisce about my sweet baby nephew and also made me even more aware of how quickly Cooper will be growing up and starting Kindergarten.  But it's also really fun to see 6 year old Chase now.  He is such a fun and kind kid.  At his birthday party on Saturday I looked over and he had taken some time away from hanging out with his older cousins (who are so much fun) to play with "Baby Cooper" and his sweetness melted my heart.  I'm so glad Cooper has his big cousins who live closeby and he gets to grow up with them!

What I'm loving

Baby Giggles!  Cooper is so giggly these days and I would do just about anything to make him laugh.  Luckily right now his giggles come pretty easily.

What we've been up to
Cooper has been up to a lot of rolling over.  When I lay him down to play on the floor, he pretty quickly rolls to his stomach and plays there for a while.  We've also been up to some sleep training--we had to drop the swaddle when Cooper started rolling and he was struggling to stay asleep when we laid him down, so we've been working on him being able to put himself to sleep and he is doing an awesome job!  It's making us slow down a little and spend most of our time at home to help him get into a good sleep routine so that's been dominating most of our days!

What I'm dreading
Honestly?  With all of the devastating things happening in South Texas, it's hard for me to dread or complain about much right now.  

What I'm working on

I don't have any current projects that I am in the middle of--I've got a list of projects to work on next month as we gear up for Cooper to start eating some more foods-- but right now there's nothing specific I'm doing.  But I am spending time working on this Bible Study through Ephesians.  I'm not quite ready to jump back into a weekly Bible Study at our church without knowing what Cooper's schedule will look like, so Erin and I decided to do a study together and we found this one.  The book takes you through an inductive study of the book of Ephesians and I'm working on it little by little.

What I'm excited about
Fall!  I know it's only August, but I love that September is the beginning of the Fall season and all of the fun that will bring.  Looking forward to our first Fall with Cooper!  

What I'm watching/reading
I just finished reading an advanced copy of Melanie Shankle's new book this week.  I didn't get chosen to be on her launch team, but then they came back and offered a digital copy to people who had applied but weren't chosen.  I really enjoyed this book and have a blog post coming in a couple of weeks with more details, so stay tuned.  Or for more info you can check it out here

I've also spent a lot of time this month with this book.  We're following a lot of their suggestions to help Cooper sleep and it's been a great resource!

And we are still watching American Ninja Warrior together.  The city finals just ended and next week starts the finals in Vegas.  We really enjoy watching it on Monday nights together.

In my downtime I also tend to watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation or Gilmore Girls.  

What I'm listening to
Same old podcasts that I've been listening to for the last several months.  It's fun that they always have new episodes, so I can always find something new to listen to!

What I'm wearing
In addition to the yoga pants and tank tops that I wear most of the time, I've also been enjoying my Lularoe leggings when I need something easy for going out of the house.  I actually won this pair of leggings and although the patterns can be a little crazy, the leggings are so soft and comfortable that it's hard not to love them!

I also am loving sporting this necklace that David got me for our anniversary!  

What I'm doing this weekend
Saturday we going to David's parents' house to spend some time with family.  Sunday is our small group and a birthday party for a family friend.  As of now we have no plans for Monday, but are looking forward to a long weekend!

What I'm looking forward to next month
For Chase's birthday, my mom bought him tickets to a Rangers game and is planning to take the whole family.  So we are taking Cooper to his first Rangers game!  Hopefully it'll be a fun afternoon with family--I know David can't wait to experience it with him!

What else is new
Cooper started his first swimming lessons yesterday!  A local swim school has a class called Bathtime Babies for little ones under 6 months.  It is a free mommy and baby class to help get them used to being in the water before real swim lessons start a little later.  Cooper loves the water, so I thought it'd be a fun thing for us to do together.

August 22, 2017

Day in the Life: 4 month old Cooper

Day in the Life posts are some of my favorite to read.  So I thought it would be fun to do one to look back on life with 4 month old Cooper.  My plan is to try to do it again when he's 8 months and 12 months and then go from there, but we will see.  Our days aren't all that exciting, so this post probably won't be either, but sometimes it's fun to see the everyday things.  So here we go!

A Day in the Life-- Monday, August 21

5:00 am
 I woke up around 5:20 and heard Cooper stirring.  I decided to go ahead and get up to feed him.  He is doing really well sleeping through the night, but he still usually needs one feeding in the middle of his 11-12 hour stretch of sleep.  Sometimes he wakes up around 2:00 or 3:00 and wants to eat, others it's closer to 5:30.  He has occasionally slept til 6:30 or 7:00 without waking up, but then he doesn't seem to eat enough during that day, so it's easier to make sure he gets a feeding in before that.  So I fed him and then put him back to bed.  He was back to sleep by a few minutes after 6:00.

6:00 am
I usually pump after Cooper's morning feeding to have a stash of milk.  Since he's been on the lower end for weight gain, we typically give him a bottle every evening before bed to give him a few extra ounces and this morning slot is the time of day I get the most milk for him, so I try to make it happen as often as I can.  A lot of times I go back to bed after I pump, but I'm trying to get into a routine of using that time better--at least some days.  So today I worked on the Bible Study that Erin and I just started while I ate breakfast.  Sunday night I cooked a batch of scrambled eggs and divided it into 4 containers with some precooked sausage so I could have some ready to go breakfasts which helps a lot.  Around 7:00, I went back and laid in bed and read a book.  I have lots of goals to workout, clean and do other things in this time before Cooper gets up, but for today I was almost done with my book, so I read until I finished it.

8:00 am
 Today Cooper slept until a few minutes before 8:00.  He is still not on a super consistent routine, but we have been working on his schedule over the past week or so.  Since then his wake up time varies from 6:45-8:15.  So today we enjoyed a little bit of sleeping in.  I always love getting to see him after this long stretch of sleep-- and he seems pretty happy to see me too.  We did a quick diaper change and then he nursed.  Usually he nurses for a long time (like an hour sometimes) for this first feeding of the day, but today we had to get Lily to the vet so it was shorter than normal

9:00 am
 I loaded up Cooper and Lily in the car and took her for her vet appointment.  She goes every 6 months for a check up, heartworm protection and vaccines.  They do drop off between 7 and 9, and we got there around 8:50 :)

Lily's vet is right next door to Target, so Coop and I went in for a few quick groceries.  I did my bigger grocery trip earlier this month so we just needed a few things to round out this week.  We were in and out in less than 20 minutes!

10:00 am 
 Nap time for my sweet boy.  We are working on some sleep training now that Cooper can't be swaddled and he is doing really well with it.  Our nap time routine (before all his naps) is: turn on his lamp, turn on his clock that turns blue and makes white noise, put on a sleep sack. Then I rock him and sing 2 songs: This Little Light of Mine and the Chorus of JJ Heller's I Dream of You.  We rock for a few minutes and then I lay him down.  He goes to sleep within about 5-10 minutes of being put down for naps.
 Cooper almost always naps for 30 minutes.  Almost on the dot.  Some naps it's 29, some it's 32.  But it's rarely longer than 35 minutes.  So since we'd been on the go this morning, I decided I'd take it easy for this nap time.  So I sat down with a snack and the baby monitor and checked email and Facebook.  I also did a few exercises-- I didn't work out as much as I need to, but I am trying to at least do a few core exercises every day.  My core is pretty weak from my c-section and I feel it in my lower back by the end of the day, so I'm trying to focus more on that.  But otherwise, I was pretty lazy for this hour.

11:00 am
 Cooper was still asleep an hour after he went down.  He had stirred a little, but kept going back to sleep.  I assumed that he would wake up at any moment so I didn't want to start doing something only to get interrupted.  So I turned on the NASA coverage of the solar eclipse and got sucked in to that.  Cooper ended up sleeping 2 hours and didn't wake up until 12:15.  So I ended up pretty much wasting my long stretch of free time.  But that truly is life with a baby--the unpredictability of our schedule is one of the themes of our lives these days!  And the complete eclipse only happens so often, so it was interesting to watch some of the coverage

12:00 pm
 After Cooper woke up, he spent the rest of this hour eating.  Sometimes we listen to music while he eats, but I typically listen to podcasts.  I have a whole list that I am working my way through and today we were listening to an episode of Extraordinary Moms Podcast.

1:00 pm
After Cooper ate, we finally changes him out of his pajamas and into some other clothes for the day!  Since we were in a hurry after he ate breakfast I didn't change him then.  Good thing his pajamas are cute and he can get away with wearing them out in public.  But he seems more comfortable in something a little cooler!
We headed out to the living room just in time to catch the dimmer sky from the partial eclipse here.  Cooper played while I ate lunch and then we played together and sang some songs.

2:00 pm 
 Cooper started getting fussy a little before 2:00 and it wasn't quite time for a nap {He usually falls asleep and sleeps best when he's been up for 2 hours between naps and he had only been up about 1 hour and 40 minutes at this point}.  So we went to his room and read a few books.  Once we were done, it was time for the naptime routine again.  Cooper went to sleep pretty quickly after I laid him down this time too!

My current free-time project is our 4 year photo book.  I've made one for each year since we've been married.  Usually I have it done right around the time of our anniversary, but this year I've got a few extra distractions.  So I sat down to work on our photo book and my blog while Coop napped.

3:00 pm
Cooper ended up taking another long (for him) nap and slept until about 3:45.  So I worked on our photo book until he woke up and then I got him up.  He ate and we did a diaper change and then we got in the car to go pick up Lily.  They had called during his 12:30 feeding to say that Lily would be ready after 2:00, but this was the earliest we could get to her and not mess with Cooper's naps.

4:00 pm 
It was so good to have our puppy back!  She got a clean bill of health and they cut her nails and gave her a heartworm medicine injection to last for the next 6 months.  We brought her home where she promptly fell asleep.

5:00 pm

I fed Cooper again since his last feeding was (again) cut short by having to go pick up Lily.  Most days we are home and there is no problem with him taking forever to eat, but today we happened to have a little bit more rigid schedule, so we cut short a few feedings and offered a few extras to make up for it.  He was acting pretty tired, so I put him down for a short nap around 5:30.  I grabbed a quick shower and when I got out, Cooper was still awake and playing in his crib.  So I went ahead and got him up around 6:00 so he didn't nap too late and mess up his bedtime.  He was happy and ready to keep playing!

6:00 pm
David got home right around 6:00 and we were all happy to see him!  He played with Cooper for a few minutes while I got dinner together.  I've been trying to do more meal prep on the weekends or one weekday to make evening easier.  So it only took about 10 minutes to reheat a few things and get dinner on the table!

6:30 pm
We were at the dinner table.  David and I had BBQ beef, macaroni and and cheese and some rolls.  Cooper sits in his high chair during dinner so we can have a family dinner time.  Right now he just babbles and smiles with us.  Probably soon I'll start giving him a spoon, bowl, and/or cup to play with while we eat.  We'll probably introduce some foods around the time he turns 6 months--when we went to his 4 month check up, the pediatrician recommended waiting and that works fine for us!

7:00 pm
We give Cooper a bottle (of pumped breastmilk) around 7:00 and that helps fill his tummy so he sleeps better and also helps us make sure he's getting enough ounces of milk.  After his bottle we play for a few more minutes and then we start bedtime routine around 7:30.  Bedtime routine is a little longer than naptime.  We change diaper and put on pajamas and a sleep sack.  Then one of us holds him and the other one reads a book (this night he was pretty tired since he skipped his last nap, so he was getting upset during the book and we cut it short), then we say prayers and I rock him and sing to him.  We put him down right around 7:45.  It usually takes less than 15 minutes and he is asleep for the night!  If he cries or is upset, we'll do a few check ins on him until he goes to sleep.

8:00 pm
 Cooper is asleep and we usually sit down to talk or watch TV.  This night we had just sat down to watch American Ninja Warrior (one of the shows David and I both enjoy) when they cut in with a speech from the President.  So we watched that and then finished the American Ninja Warrior Episode.
 We also indulged in some ice cream.  I picked up a pint of Bluebell's Cookie Two Step last week and we liked it so much that David said we needed a gallon, so I got that and we are thoroughly enjoying it!

9:00 pm
I usually am in bed pretty close to 9:00 or 9:30.  This night I stayed up a little later to finish American Ninja Warrior.  I got in bed around 9:45 and read for a little while-- I got an advanced copy of Melanie Shankle's new book so I've been reading through that and loving it {blog post coming soon with my review!}.  I only got a little reading done before I was too tired, and I was asleep before 10:00.

And that was my day!