Books I Read in 2015

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Every year, I compile a list of books I've read. My goal is always to read more books than I did the previous year, but seeing as I've had a baby this year, my goal was only to read a few. Any completed books would be considered an accomplishment to a new mother. And as a reminder to those who may have forgotten, if you click on the book images, you will be taken to their listings on Amazon so you can purchase them for your very own! So without further adieu, here's my list! 

1. Completed on January 3rd. I definitely started this book in 2014 and finished it before the birth of my maybe you'd consider this cheating...but it goes on this year's book list nonetheless. Great book! Convicting, but in a way that encourages a change, not in a way that only leaves you feeling guilty. I would definitely recommend this book.

"Crazy Busy" by Kevin DeYoung


2. Completed on January 7th. This is another book I started last year. I wanted to read a pregnancy book that was written by Christians that wasn't just another how-to or what-to-expect book. This book was that very book! Some parts weren't entirely applicable to me, but the format this book is written in made it easy for me to just skim over those sections. Pregnant women, I recommend this book to you whether it be your first pregnancy or not! 

"Birthed in Prayer" by Kim Barker, Linda De Meillon, and Leigh Harrison  


3. Completed on January 13th. My parents sent me and Craig this book early on in my pregnancy and we decided we'd read it aloud together. Great book! It is filled with lots of encouragement for people who are already parents or for those who are soon-to-be parents like we are! 

"Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord" by Dave Stone


4. Completed on January 27th. I love reading Warren Wiersbe's commentaries on books of the Bible. I learn so much from them!

"Be Strong (Joshua): Putting God's Power to Work in Your Life" by Warren Wiersbe


5. Completed on June 18th. I learned so much from this book and would definitely recommend it to any parent! I'm definitely planning on re-reading the chapter about raising daughters if I ever have a daughter in the future! 

"Hopeful Parenting" by David Jeremiah


6. Completed on October 24th. This is such an encouraging book to all mothers, especially new mothers like me! It's a quick and easy read so if you're a mom, definitely check this book out!

"Mom Enough" - A compilation from Desiring God


7. Completed on December 4th. A friend of mine lent this book to me and I was both convicted and encouraged as I read through it. Although it is more directed to pastors' wives, I feel like it is an encouraging read to the wife of any man in any sort of leadership! 

"The Ministry of a Messy House" by Amanda Robbie

Blogger Tricks

Hand Lettering—My First Attempt!

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After an unintentional hiatus from blogging, I have returned—and with freebies!

I've always wanted to try my hand at hand lettering (ha!) and I gave it my first shot today! I was pretty pleased with the results (am I allowed to compliment my own work?) so I decided to share it with you all.

Enjoy these free computer and iPhone (and iPad) wallpapers!

Watercolor Background:

Yellow Background:

9 Tips For 9 Months

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Every little girl dreams of being a mother one day. It's in our nature to nurture—we dress our dolls, comb their hair, and pretend to feed them. But even with years of "practice," you don't know what you have in for yourself til you see that life-changing pee stick. And it's crazy how much your life changes even before your little baby makes its grand entrance.

So now I bring you 9 tips for 9 months:

1. Make some time for sleep! 

I know eeeeveryone says that once the baby is born, you should nap when the baby naps. But let's be serious; that doesn't happen. You'll probably be showering, stuffing you face, and conquering mountains of dishes and laundry when your baby is napping!

2. Don't waste your time reading baby books. 

I did this. And I ended up just making myself feel depressed. Everything I was planning to do I found out was "wrong" and then even after my baby was born, I felt like the authors of these books were judging me and yelling at me. Every baby is different and it's better to just learn your own baby as you go along. (If you are really interested in learning information about babies, just look up specific topics online. The info you'll find online is much more concise than a 200+ page book by one single author.)

3. Learn to filter through advice. Because man, oh man, will you receive a plethora of it! 

From feeding, bathing, and changing your baby to nursery decor, people think they are a part of your household from the moment you inform them you are expecting! Some advice is good, and some is far from it. But what I've learned is to not argue. I just listen and nod and go home and make my own decisions. 

4. Borrow some staple maternity clothing items from a friend. 

Maternity clothing can get pricey. And if they are only going to be worn for a short period of time, they aren't worth spending a fortune on! I borrowed a few shirts from a friend and only bought a couple belly bands, a couple pairs of jeans, one pair of leggings, and a couple plain layering shirts!

5. Take a tour of the delivery ward you are going to have your baby in. 

I am SOOOO glad I did this. It gave me a sense of being at home and made me feel comfortable when the time came for me to go in.

6. Make time to eat. 

Although "eating for two" is a myth, if you're anything like me, you'll struggle to hold anything down. Being pregnant already makes you low on energy and if you aren't eating well, you'll have even less energy! Therefore, if you can hold it down, eat it! (Everything in moderation, of course!) But also, if you can't hold it down, don't fret! You won't be throwing up forever—I promise! Just let it out and avoid taking anti-nausea meds; they aren't worth the risks

7. Drink plenty of water. 

It's important to stay hydrated when pregnant. But it's also important to the develop the habit nice and early so it can become second nature when breastfeeding. A woman who doesn't stay hydrated wont produce sufficient breastmilk for her baby! And that'll be the start of a nasty cycle. Carry a water bottle around with you and make sure to drink before you even feel thirsty!

8. DON'T ignore those kegels! 

I definitely didn't recognize the importance of these til about a week after my baby was born. And as embarrassing as this is to admit, it is nearly impossible to hold it til you make it to the toilet. Crazy to think that a simple, little, pelvic floor exercise can prevent this embarrassment. Ten of them every hour isn't really THAT hard.

9. Lastly, enjoy every moment! 

Document your pregnancy! I took weekly bump pictures and I'm so glad I did! (That's me in the photo above!) Pregnancy comes and goes before it even really sinks in! And when your baby arrives, it'll be nice to look back on the memories of the journey that brought him or her here! 

In Review: Apple Music

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Apple has finally realized that audiobooks aren't music. 

This morning, I wanted to continue listening to my audiobook of "The Book Thief" but I couldn't seem to figure out how to access it with the new Apple Music app. I finally found it hidden in plain sight—in the iBooks app where it rightfully belongs. But even though this change has me praising Apple, I have found more cons than pros when it comes to the new Apple Music app. But let's start with the pros.

What I like about Apple Music:
  • The iTunes app logo! Beautiful colors!
  • The ability to browse different genres (I do have my favorites, but I occaisonally like to listen to other types of music!)
  • For You - pretty cool!
  • Some cool Playlists, sorted by producer (Behind the Boards), sounds like, etc.

What I dislike about Apple Music:

1. Value for money - Considering it isn't as exhaustive as they make it seem, it isn't worth the price they are charging

While the free trial period is 3 months long (longer than most free trials), the service doesn't appear to be worth the money.

This service is supposed to let you listen to all music sold on iTunes, but I've found that a lot of albums I want to listen to have half the songs greyed out! And there have also been some albums that I am unable to find on Apple Music that ARE on iTunes! For the single membership cost of $9.99/month, I think I'd rather go with Spotify Premium which is the same price!

2. iOS app - The iOS app has MANY flaws. These are the ones I've found so far:

  • When I click the plus sign to add songs or albums to My Music, it removes what I've added within seconds.
  • When connected to my car with a USB cable or with bluetooth, albums just keep playing the same song rather than playing the next song. (This is because up next is apparently not compatible with my car.) BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY.
  • "Up Next" seems to have problems remembering what has been added to it at times! It forgets often
  • Radio stations (not Beats 1) aren't working with my UK Apple ID, but the option is still given... (UPDATE - NOW WORKING!)
  • The ability to add music to My Music without using iCloud Music Library (which seems to delete playlists I've added)
3. Too many apps - iTunes, Apple Music, iTunes Store, App get the picture!

Why can't everything be consolidated to the new Apple Music app? Why do I need a separate iTunes Store iOS app and iTunes OSX app? (And WHY do I purchase audiobooks from the iTunes OSX app, manage them with the iTunes OSX app, but then find them in the iBooks iOS app but not in the iBooks OSX app? WAY TOO CONFUSING.)

4. Consistency between OSX and iOS - What you do on your iPhone doesn't seem to copy over to your Mac, even if you are logged into the same iCloud account on both devices

You'd think this feature would be seamless, especially since Apple is constantly improving it for other apps (example: Messages, Continuity, etc.) but it definitely is NOT. None of the music that I've added to "My Music" on iTunes on my mac has shown in My Music on my iPhone. 

Disclaimer: If you've found a solution to any of these problems, please let me know. Everything listed above is just the opinion of a disappointed Apple fan.

What I want to see:
  • A shuffle feature for My Music and for Artists
  • See a list of artists/songs/albums/playlists I have <3 d="" li="" loved="">
  • The release date (day, month and year) for every album, song—I want to know what's new
  • Search charts from previous years/months (time travel!)
  • A better way to search for music videos - there is a wealth of videos, but they're hard to find if you don't know the name of the song!

Sleep Training My 4 Month Old


(This photo is blurry cuz it's a baby monitor screen shot, fyi.)

There were those who said it couldn't be done. "He's too young," they said. "When babies under 6 months cry, they actually need you." I received much more discouragement than encouragement. After posting a status on Facebook asking fellow moms when their babies learned to self-soothe, most moms responded that their babies learned between 8 and 11 months. Still, I decided to give it a shot.

We went through a rough week. Ethan started teething (for real this time) and wanted nothing more than to feed (constantly) and to be held (constantly). I was unable to bathe, use the toilet, or even eat. I was drained, both physically and emotionally. I decided to give sleep training a shot. After all, Ethan sleeps SO WELL at night, nap time shouldn't be any different. 

I did a lot of research online and to my dismay, there wasn't very much about sleep training for naps. So after my 5-day success story, I decided to do my part to help out other moms who might want to sleep train their babies for naps. 

This is an exhaustive log of our 5-day sleep training process:
Sleep Training: Day 1 (Friday, June 5th)
Finished 210 ml of formula at 2:30 then changed poopy nappy
Put down at 2:45
Started crying at 2:52
Went up at 3:02 and picked him up
Put him down at 3:05 and he immediately started crying
Went up at 3:15 and picked him up
Put him down at 3:15 and he immediately started crying
Stopped crying at 3:22
Slept til we woke him at 6:22

Sleep Training: Day 2 (Saturday, June 6th)
Put down at 9:43
Started crying at 9:46
Went up at 9:56 and picked him up
Put him down at 9:58 and he immediately started crying
Went up at 10:08 and picked him up
Put him down at 10:09 and he immediately started crying
Went up at 10:19 and picked him up
Cried nonstop til 10:28
Put him down at 10:28 and he continued crying
Went up at 10:38 and picked him up
Put him down at 10:39 and he immediately started crying
Went up at 10:49 and picked him up
Put him down at 10:50 and he immediately started crying
Went up at 11:00 and picked him up
Put him down at 11:03 and he immediately started crying
Went up at 11:33 and picked him up, changed his poopy nappy, and decided to feed him and try again later  
Attempt 2:
Put down at 12:21
Started crying at 12:27
Went up at 12:37 and picked him up
Put him down at 12:40 and he immediately started crying
Went up at 12:55 and picked him up
Decided to try again later 
Attempt 3:
Finished 210 ml of formula at 1:33 and changed poopy nappy
Put down at 1:39
Asleep by 1:43
Woke up at 5:08

Sleep Training: Day 3 (Sunday, June 7th)
Put down him at 3:30 and he immediately started crying
Cried til 3:35, stopped, started again at 3:47
Went up at 3:47 and picked him up
Put him down at 3:50 and he immediately started crying
Stopped crying at 3:56 but continued fussing til 4:13
Started crying again at 4:30. Guess he wasn't sleepy!

Sleep Training: Day 4 (Monday, June 8th)
Fed for 21 minutes and kept falling asleep on the breast
Put down at 9:06 and immediately started crying
Went up at 9:16 and picked him up
Cried consistently, put down at 9:18, and he continued crying
Went up at 9:30 and picked him up
Cried consistently, put down at 9:32, and he continued crying
Went up at 9:47
Drank 140ml of formula from 9:50 to 10:05
Changed poopy nappy at 10:10
Put down at 10:18
Fussed til 10:21 then fell asleep

Sleep Training: Day 5 (Tuesday, June 9th)
Finished 210 ml of formula at 9:34
Put down at 9:35
Asleep by 9:55
So there you have it, folks! It IS possible! The common denominator between the successful times was that he was fed a bottle beforehand. At first, this was frustrating me. Was he not getting enough to satisfy from breastfeeding? Is this going to be the start of a bad habit we struggle to break when he is older? I did some more research (I love information on babies!) and learned that breastmilk and formula metabolize differently in a baby [source]. Since Ethan is somewhat used to having bottles of formula, he is used to having more in quantity. What he gets from breastfeeding, though enough to keep him healthy and full, isn't quite enough to keep him satisfied enough to self-soothe, just because it isn't as much as he would get from a bottle of formula. And THAT'S OKAY. (I'm repeatedly telling myself that....It makes me feel better.) Who cares that he needs a bottle to fall asleep on his own? It works. My baby is growing and he is fed and he is loved. That's all that matters. 

Ethan - 4 months old

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I'm improving! Only 6 days late this time! Ha!

I'm 4 months old today and getting a lot more mobile. 
This past month, I've started scooting, both on my tummy and on my back. Mommy always has to pull me closer when I scoot away while she's changing me. 
My favorite songs are Jesus Loves Me and Row Row Row Your Boat.
I learned how to blow raspberries and how to scream and I do it lots and lots. 
I think it's funny when people close their eyes, so it makes me laugh when Mommy and Daddy pray with me before bed! 
I've discovered that I can control my hands and even learned to throw! 
I started teething, but I've discovered that the best medicine is extra cuddles from Mommy and Daddy.

Motherhood and My Prayer Life

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Do you ever feel so desperate and helpless where the only words that come to mind are "Lord, help!"—when you know there's nothing you can do on your own strength?

Motherhood often brings me to the most humbling position—on my knees. (I say that only figuratively. I mean, let's be honest, I'm usually sitting on the sofa breastfeeding.) Life is new, life is different, life is exciting! A new baby brings in many new joys but also many new challenges. I've realized, now more than ever, that I am terrible at balancing my time, that I have no clue what I should prioritize, and that I often end up neglecting my own needs so I can coddle my baby. I don't want to spoil him, but I'm not exactly motivated to bathe when my baby is screaming from teething pain and just wanting to be held. There goes my shower, there goes my chance to eat, and there goes any hopes of making my house look liveable (at the very least).

I've also realized how much of a Martha I am. How I'm always on the go and can't seem to just sit still and hear from the Lord. God, please change that character flaw of mine. I feel like God keeps nudging me to make the most of my [very frequent] times of breastfeeding. Those times where I can't really do much else, I could spend reading His word or praying. But let's be real; when do I actually spend that time reading His word or even talking to Him? Often, that time is wasted. I browse social media on my phone for a bit, lose interest, and then proceed to playing games. Not that anything is wrong with those things in and of themselves, but they definitely aren't uplifting. 

And that's when I usually cry out to the Lord out of desperation. I hate feeling a lack in my spiritual life. I hate feeling that all the neglecting of my own needs has been done in vain and my baby is still overtired, hungry, and teething. 

Lord, help! Take me out of this dry place.
Lord, help! I don't know what I'm doing as a mother. 

Lord, help! Multiply my time so I can bathe, eat, cook, and clean!

Lord, help! Keep household duties from being such a burden so I can spend quality time with my husband when he is home. 

Lord, help! Cause me to cherish this season of life and not miss the special moments You bless me with every day. 

And thank You, Lord, for using my baby to remind me to come to You. 

Ethan - 3 Months

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Of course I'm late again. 10 days late. Oh well!

I'm 3 months old today!
This past month, I rolled over for the first time! 
I love cooing and babbling. I can do it for hours on end!
I think gripe water is yummy. 
I can tolerate tummy time, but I prefer playing on my back!
I love playing with rattles.
I don't like taking naps, but if I have to nap, I’d rather be on my tummy!
I now sleep about 10 hours in the night without waking up. Mommy and Daddy love that!
Mommy thinks I’m an early teether because I chew on everything!
I like having my feet tickled and my tummy massaged.

Anti-Napping Baby

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For the past week, my baby boy has decided he is an anti-napping baby. His last decent nap was 6 days ago and I can't seem to get him to sleep longer than 40 minutes at a time during the day. Up until yesterday, this was maaaajorly stressing me out. It's nearly impossible to get anything done when you have a 3 month old that's constantly awake. My momma friends kept trying to reassure me and let me know that this is just a phase and I shouldn't worry about housework and things like that, but their advice was going in one ear and out the other...until yesterday.

I don't know what it was that did it yesterday, probably the grace of God, but it all finally clicked yesterday. So what that my baby needs to be fed to sleep. So what that he needs to be held to remain asleep. This is just a phase, and I'll probably miss it when it is gone. So I'm gonna cherish these moments with my baby boy. I'll hold him, I'll cuddle him. All day if that's what he wants. The housework can wait.

Why I Choose Not To Read Books About Caring For Babies

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Today, something strange happened. I finally opened up two of the baby-raising books I was given as gifts before my baby was born. All of a sudden, my 11 weeks of hands-on experience felt completely wrong. I felt like a failure of a mother. Here I was spoiling my precious baby boy and doing everything the books said not to do. He naps on the sofa, he feeds on demand (even if it's every hour), he gets rocked to sleep, and he breastfeeds for comfort. SO WHAT.

Hundreds of years ago, no one had these books. When a baby was born, the mother had to use trial and error to fend for herself. I wanna go out on a limb and say that I think God meant it that way. If there was truly a step-by-step guide for parenting a newborn, you'd think that God would have included it somewhere in the Bible. Why do certain people think they are the authority on parenting when every baby is different?

Googling my parenting "issues", I found that I'm not the only mommy who feels this way. Someone posted this question on How can I get my baby to nap? After reading through the answers, I came across this post that was SUPER encouraging to me.

No more stressing myself out, no more driving myself crazy. My baby is happy and healthy and that's all that matters!

Goodbye baby books!