Review and Giveaway: In Due Time

If you’ve been around this blog for any time at all, you know I can’t resist a good book.

So when my friend Caroline from In Due Time was looking for bloggers to do a review and giveaway of her devotional book, I couldn’t say no.

And I’m so glad I didn’t resist!

Four years ago, Caroline and her husband were told by doctors that they would never have children. Instead of accepting defeat, the Harries have stepped out in faith that the Lord will give them a child in due time.

If you don’t follow this amazing woman on her social media channels, you must. She is beautiful, encouraging and open about her struggles. I love how she doesn’t hold back from admitting discouragement on some days, but that she also doesn’t live life tied down or wallowing in despair. She is truly an amazing example of a woman who is steadfast and godly, even if the circumstances are not her ideal.

The devotional itself is beautiful, even from the cover. As a believer, I want to be careful about the devotionals that I immerse myself in. Sometimes devotionals can lead us away from the truth of the Bible and our need to spend direct time with God. I’m always a little wary of which devotional I want to use in my times with the Lord because I don’t want to add to his Scriptures. In fact, the Bible has everything we need for life and godliness.

However, as I began reading one devotional a day, I was incredibly encouraged by the genuine way that the Holy Spirit clearly led Caroline to write this book. As I’m reading along, I can tell that she has not just written from her mind, but also her heart.

The 60 day devotional is all about hope and encouragement in the waiting. Although Caroline does write it from her perspective of infertility, it is not a devotional just for women struggling with infertility. It is for anyone who is waiting. And you know what? As Christians we are all hoping and waiting for the better things to come, namely eternity with Christ. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I grow weary of waiting for the promised better days. Some days are just plain hard, guys. And each devotional in this book has been pointing me towards the promises of Christ and believing in him during the waiting.

Each of the 60 day devotionals contain a short passage focusing on a Scripture verse. At the end Caroline poses several deep and relevant questions, spurring me to dive further into the passage and reflect on it.

As you can see, I highly recommend this devotional for you!

You can buy it through Caroline’s website (with a 10% discount!), or you can order it from Amazon.

You also have a chance to win a copy!!!!!

 

All you have to do is comment on this blog post with what you are doing in your devotions right now. You can also head over to Instagram to earn some bonus entries there! This giveaway will run until Thursday, January 19th and will close at 7 pm EST.

And don’t forget to follow along with Caroline!

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Love & Blues: How to Survive a 24 Hour Shift

I’m over at Love and Blues today with my first guest post!

I will be posting there monthly on the second Friday of every month, and I’m SO EXCITED!

Please head on over to check it out!

If you know any police or first responder wives, please share Love & Blues with them.

Hezekiah James: 3 Months

Hezekiah will be three months old on Saturday! Our tiny man, although still technically “failure to thrive”, is doing just the opposite: Thriving. He was born only a week early, which in medical terms is not early at all, but Theo and I have noticed that he seems to do everything about a week or two later than Tera did. I know that every kid is different and I really have to work on not comparing my children to each other (this is a whole new struggle of motherhood…and I thought I had it all mastered!). Theo reminded me that in a year or two or five it really won’t matter at what week he first rolled over, as long as he does it. I’m reminding myself of that and celebrating every victory we have with Kiah!

We love our sweet, content little man and are so thankful that he is up for rolling with the punches.

 

Weight: 10 pounds, 10 ounces. We are ALMOST on the charts, but not quite. Which still drives me crazy. I’m just so thankful that we didn’t have to go the pediatrician this month.

Eating: Kiah is high maintenance in his eating! He still eats every.two.hours. Exhausting. He will drink 3-4 ounces at each feeding, which is just about where he “should” be. However, he only likes his milk heated up nice and warm and he has to be burped after every two ounces. Sometimes we have to feed him a two ounce bottle, then warm up a new bottle and feed him some more ounces. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. I’m still pumping pretty much every three hours and we are just bottle feeding him all his milk. One day I’ll look back on this time and wonder HOW I survived. Right now, I’m just doing it.

Sleeping: Kiah is an excellent sleeper. He sleeps from 11-5ish, and I’m so thankful for that. He is starting to show signs of 2-3 distinct naps during the day as well. I haven’t gotten around to trying to lay him down for a nap yet, so for now he just kind of chills in his bouncy seat during his naps. Poor third child.

Clothing/Diapers: We have officially moved out of newborn and into 0-3 month clothes! Today I put away the newborn cloth diapers and sized all Tera’s diapers down to the smallest size.

Personality: Kiah is just the sweetest, happiest, most chill baby. I cannot believe how smiley and giggly and content he is. We are enjoying this kid so, so much. He loves to be within eyesight of all of us, but is content to just watch me cook or watch Tera play. He absolutely LOVES to be talked to.

Notable Firsts This Month:

  • first trip Up North
  • First Christmas & New Year’s
  • First time in Indiana
  • First funeral (great-grandpa’s)

Loves:

  •  A nice, warm bottle
  • Tera
  • Daddy
  • Bath time
  • Singing and Talking

Dislikes:

  • Tummy time (so much hatred for it)
  • Dirty Diaper

(How can someone crying be so stinkin’ cute???)

Milestones Reached:

  • Starting to move his body to roll onto his side
  • Reaching for toys hanging above him/following the toys with his eyes
  • Giggling
  • Can sit in the bumbo seat

What we are Loving at this Stage: Oh, King Kiah, we sure do love you! You are so happy all the time and it makes us delighted! We love how content you are and how you are not bothered by much! You are just sweet and content and snuggling you is my favorite.

What we are struggling with at this stage: Still working on gaining weight and getting him to actually participate in lifting his head off the ground during tummy time. It’s not that he can’t, it’s that he just doesn’t want to. He just lays his head down and coos at us.

Daddy, Mommy and Tera: The New Year has brought lots of new things into our lives! Tera has dived into the terrible twos with no reservations, and Theo and I are having many conversations about how and why we discipline. Fun stuff! Besides exercising her newly discovered free will, Tera is talking up a storm and getting smarter by the minute. She plays excellently by herself by organizing and stacking and packing up all her toys into purses and containers.

Theo is excited for a potential new job next month and is working hard on our basement and other building hobbies.

I am settling into the routine of two and just trying to catch my breath from all the chaos of the last few months.

 

Tera at 3 months (my kids are twins)

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Put Down the Phone: Learning to be Present

 

“Turn your head, Mommy! Turn your head!”

This is Tera’s newest phrase. Unfortunately, she is not saying it in reference to playing peek-a-boo or brushing my hair.

She’s asking me to look at her.

To look away from my phone/computer/distraction, and look at her.

I confess: we spend way too much time on our phones/laptops. Do you every feel the tension of that struggle? I don’t think it’s just us, so I wanted to share a little bit about what we have decided to do about it.

It will probably affect my blogging, although I hope to simply become more intentional with my time and continue on with this blog.

But I’m choosing to prioritize, and if something in the blog world doesn’t get done within the parameters I have set, then it doesn’t get done. End of story.

Together, Theo and I have decided to do something about the constant pulling out of our phones/laptops. We have done similar things off and on over the years, but we really wanted to buckle down and be intentional about putting down our phones starting right now.

Our basic household rule is this: When Tera is awake, there is to be no technology on.

Of course, sometimes we have a family movie night and every so often we will put on a show for Tera. Trust me…we have those days in the Hines household. We have the days where we cannot get anything done at all unless the toddler can sit down and be completely occupied by a screen. We also have seasons of life that require a little more or less “entertainment” from outside sources. Seasons like pregnancy or even winter are a little more difficult to manage and on those days/seasons, we are incredibly thankful for  screens! However, “those days”, start to become more and more common and the excuses start to build up more and more until day after day my child is being babysat by a screen while I mindlessly scroll through my phone, stating that “I really need to do this for my blog!”

Anybody else? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

And please tell me I’m not the only one who hates it but doesn’t know what to do about it.

Theo and I spent an hour or so on our long drive yesterday brainstorming ways that we can be more intentional and put down our phones.

  • Turn off notifications. I got a new phone a month or so ago and when I downloaded my apps, I set them all to turn off notifications. This has made such a HUGE difference for me.

Image result for two types of people phone notifications

I am the person on the left. I have to check every single app over and over again until there are no little red numbers. Do you know how much time I would spend on my phone just trying to get those numbers to go away? Too much. Way too much. So I just changed the phone so that there are never any notifications sent my way. As you can see, I still have a few apps that have the notifications on. Things like Skype (how I communicate with my parents), phone, and paypal all still have the notifications on. I have found that this prevents me from obsessively checking every single app all.the.time.

Here’s how: Go to Settings > Notifications > Click on each individual app to turn off or set specific alerts

  • Accountability.  Phones are everywhere, and they can be dangerous. I think that too often we are giving our phones far too much power over our lives. As Christians, I believe that we need to be striving more to live as      people that are sharpening one another. So often it’s easy to give many excuses as to why we MUST have our phones. But let’s step back and take another approach. Let’s agree to keep each other accountable. One awesome way that I found to do this is to take a screenshot of your battery usage. Here’s mine:

Ouch. 58% of my battery on Facebook? That sounds like a waste of battery (and time).

Here’s how: Go to Settings > Battery

I would highly recommend finding someone who will mutually keep you accountable and send them this screenshot at the end of every day.

*If you are interested in being buddied up, please let me know and I would love to facilitate that. Just shoot me an email and I’ll just pair you up with a someone who goes to our church, a random internet stranger or a fellow blogger whom you can email or text daily. I would be glad to send some deeper accountability questions, too.

  • A docking station.  Out of sight, out of mind. I have found that when I plug my phone into the wall and leave it there, I have a much easier time not being on it. If I leave my phone on the kitchen counter, it’s not with me while I sit on the couch and feed Kiah. If it’s plugged into my speaker, playing music, I don’t want to interrupt the music just to scroll through IG. Ok, let’s be honest…I do want to, but it makes me pause and think “do I really NEED to be on my phone right now?” 98% of the time, the answer is no.
  • Set times.  In our discussion, Theo and I agreed that we would have set times where the phones can be on. For us, these times are 6-8am, naptime, and 8-10pm. As we talked, we agreed that there is nothing that needs to be happening on our phones or laptops between those times.
  • Wifi off/Airplane Mode/Do not Disturb. I’m not really sure why this never occurred to us before, but we have decided to turn our wifi off if it is not during set times. There is nothing online that is more important that spending time with my children. I am realizing that I do have to be creative when the wifi is turned off, though. I will want to google something or email someone “real quick”, and then I just go down the rabbit hole of Instagram. Now, I have started two lists in my planner: one is daily chores and things that do not require technology or internet, and the other one is things to do that require internet. This way I can be much more intentional with my time when I am online. First, email Grandpa. Then, work on my blog post.

Maybe you don’t struggle with the rabbit hole of social media or random apps, but struggle more with texting all your friends. You could put your phone in airplane mode during set hours of the day. In airplane mode, no one can text you or call you, but as soon as you turn the mode off, you will be able to receive their calls.

Here’s how: Settings > Airplane Mode > On

As Theo and I discussed that one, I brought up the issue of being able to take “emergency” calls. I don’t really want my phone turned off all day making me completely unreachable. I then recalled another trick that one of my friends had taught me: Do Not Disturb mode. By setting the phone on Do Not Disturb, no calls or texts will come in. We can set specific hours on it, and you can also go in and adjust who do you receive calls from. So if I am worried about emergency calls, I can still set it to receive calls/texts from Theo, my sisters, my brother, and my Mom/MIL. Pretty cool!

Here’s how: Settings > Do Not Disturb > Scheduled > Time > Allow Calls From….

 

I already mentioned in this post that I’m not an expert. The reason that I am writing this post is because we are struggling with it. I’d love to hear from you- what your family does to limit constant phone/computer/TV usage. I would love to hear some tips and tricks! Just leave them below in the comments, or shoot me an email!

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Dayton Moms Blog: Babywearing 101

Over on the Dayton Moms Blog today, I’m sharing a crash course in babywearing!

 

I’m no expert, but I share a little bit about the different types of carriers, the pros and cons of each and the brands of each that I recommend!

Please like, comment and share with a friend who might enjoy learning about this!

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2017: A New Year

It’s so hard to believe that we are already three days into a new year!

I know that it probably gets boring to hear, but I wanted to record some of my goals for 2017.

Here are my goals for 2016.

Honestly, I don’t think I accomplished a single one, so I’m hesitant to make big, lofty goals this year. 2016 kind of knocked me down. And I’m not getting back up again and brushing myself off and having a warrior mentality. Instead, I’m humbled and deeply thankful to the Lord for bringing us through this past year. I’m forging ahead knowing that God is good all the time and I cannot do it without His strength.

However, I love a good chance to make some goals and reflect on the past and dream about the future.

First, in my personal life:

  • Read through the Bible in a year (I’m going to do a chronological reading this year and I’m SO EXCITED about it!)
  • Read 26 books (should be doable since I read 62 this year!)
  • Accept another foster placement (scared out of my mind and will have another post on this shortly)
  • Run a half marathon (both times I’ve signed up for a half marathon I’ve gotten pregnant, so maybe this year will be the year I actually run one- no plans to get pregnant!)
  • Do not let our income stop me from living generously
  • Technology off when kids are awake
  • Weekly game nights as a family or with guests
  • Monthly date nights
  • Cook through a cookbook
  • Do a daily activity with Tera/Kiah

I actually have a journal that I journal in every day, and I think I will be adding to this list as the days and weeks pass by. One of my greatest accomplishments of 2016 might have been that I finished one journal on Dec 31! Haha! So I started my current journal with 2017 goals, and I LOVE IT!

I also have some blogging goals, and these are some things that I have really been thinking about. While I would really like to make an income from blogging, I have been burnt out by the hustle and bustle of blogging the last few months and I would actually like to step back. I would like to write less posts, but with better content, instead of just spitting out posts every day. I would like to do better at promoting and encouraging people to share my posts. I would like to make some money and increase my followers, but this will not be my focus. Instead, I would like to focus more on creating a community that is real and authentic and can be an encouragement in other women and Mom’s lives. I would love to be published on other big sites and will be focusing some of my time on writing for other sites, not just my own.

Every year, I try to pick a theme word for the year. Last year, I chose a word that terrified me: Sacrifice. I was doing my devotions one day and it came over me that my 2016 would be full of sacrifice. And indeed, it was. As I’ve mentioned, 2016 seemed to knock me flat. It had so many wonderful moments, but it was a difficult year.

I will write more about why I chose this word later, but my word for 2017 is….

I have spent too long this year living as a slave to fear, and during the year 2017 I want to change that.

What about you? Did you pick a word for 2017? Do you have goals for 2017? I’d love to hear them!

Shop Feature: Oh, Bowsies!

I’m so excited to kick off 2017 on this here blog!

I am going to continue to dedicate Mondays to featuring shops and small businesses, and I have some AMAZING ones planned for this upcoming year!

Today’s shop is a special one to me, and you’ll find out why in just a minute!!

Hi, I’m Talya!
Some of you may remember me from a guest post I did about Suzanne’s first foster daughter, Little Miss! That’s because I am her new mama! For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, let me tell you a bit about myself and my little shop, Oh Bowsies! I am 29 years old and have been married for 8 1/2 years and currently live in Georgia with my husband, Joe, our dog Noa, and of course, Little Miss, who is now 15 months old! (HOW?!) She has been home with us now for almost 6 months.
I grew up in a very crafty family, so I like to think being a maker is in my DNA! Before we brought Little Miss home this past June, I had always worked full time as a Medical Assistant in various busy doctor’s offices, so it didn’t take long after bringing sassy pants home and becoming a stay-at-home-mom to realize that I desperately needed to be doing SOMETHING productive to help ease into this new life of mine. Those that know me know that I am a huge fan of shopping small, especially for bows and headbands…I had quite the collection when Little Miss came home! I decided to try my hand at making some bows for her and my 2 nieces to wear. It very quickly became my creative outlet during nap time and after bedtime, and I shared them with some friends who have baby girls. One night, I decided I would start an Etsy shop to see if anyone liked my bows enough to buy them and turns out, they did! It was a no-brainer that I decided to put my shop earnings toward our pending adoption of Little Miss, because although we will hopefully be receiving adoption benefits through foster care, it still is a good chunk of money to complete!
I’ve only had the shop since the beginning of October, but it has grown fairly quickly in a short time! My shop offers fabric bows and faux leather bows on soft nylon headbands or alligator clips, so they work for babies AND bigger girls! I recently started making bowties for all the little fellas I know, too! I love making matching sets of bows and bowties for siblings…there is nothing sweeter! Especially during the Christmas season! Here are a few of the best-sellers and favorites in the shop!
Head over to my Etsy shop to check out all of my designs! www.etsy.com/shop/OhBowsies
You can also follow me on Instagram (@oh_bowsies) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/ohbowsies)
Just for the readers of The Glorious Mundane, I’ve created a special coupon code! Use TGM20 for 20% off of any purchase!
Ok, how much do you guys LOVE these bows??? And just in case you weren’t sold on them yet, here are some of the most adorable bow/bowtie models that you ever did see!
 
Head on over now, and don’t forget to use that discount code!

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The Christmas Unlike All Other Christmases

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the house
not a Christmas tradition had occurred, not even a carol.
The stockings were not hung by the chimney with care,
and Theo was working and working and working.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
because the stomach bug visited, their stomach and their heads.
And Mama was about to lose her mind, you see,
she hadn’t wrapped a single present or taken any pictures of kids with glee.

When early the morning of Christmas did come,
We flurried around and packed up the car.
Away to Michigan we drove, not in a flash,
for baby Kiah needed to eat very often.

The white Christmas we wanted was soon to be had!
and the Hines family we saw were so, so glad!
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but Christmas! and presents! And cousins galore!

With a friendly, happy Grandpa, and Grandma so sweet

We knew we were home and good food we could eat.

Opening presents was fun and all the cousins had a blast!

Avrie and Ian! Kyrin and Ade! Corah and Avia! Emma and Evie! Tera and Kiah! Josie and Jamie and Uncle Seth, too!

Then onto dinner and games and spending time with family,
and loving every moment to finally rest.
Until midnight came and what to our wondering eyes did appear,
but a puking toddler, oh, how that struck Mommy with fear!

We packed up our car and away did we go,
in fear of all the cousins coming down with it so.
Mommy cried and Daddy had a migraine
and finally home did we arrive…much later than we wanted.

 

 

 

 

Ok, so that didn’t rhyme as well as I would have liked, but that was our Christmas!

To be honest, Christmas was pretty rough for me this year. Going into December I didn’t have very high expectations, but even with that we didn’t do anything that our culture deems Christmassy. And not because I didn’t want to. But because it just didn’t happen. The week before Christmas, Theo worked 84 hours. No, not away on business. He actually clocked 84 hours on the job. Tera threw up Thursday evening and I got it Thursday night, but we were both 100% fine by Friday afternoon. We decided to head up to Michigan on Sunday (Christmas) morning. Theo worked until 7 am, and then we hit the road. It’s normally a 6 hour drive, but it ended up taking us longer because we had to stop and feed Kiah so often. All of Theo’s family was Up North and we were SO excited to see them. We knew that we could only stay 24 hours, so we wanted to cram in as much fun as possible!

As soon as we got there, we fed Kiah, refreshed ourselves from the long road trip and then all gathered together to open presents.

Grandpa told the Christmas story with the help of all the grandkids. There are 12 grandkids, with another one on the way!

Tera is a pretty quiet girl and gets fairly overwhelmed in large groups, so she was just sitting back and taking it all in. Thankfully she is warming up to everyone and knows all their names. I wouldn’t exactly call her shy, but she is very reserved.

Some of the cousins eager to start handing out presents!

Isaiah and Sarah flew all the way from the West Coast with Jamie, their 3 month old! I didn’t even get to hold Jamie and I am so bummed! I am also so bummed I didn’t get to spend more time with them!

We went around and opened gifts in family units.

We make super attractive faces when we open our gifts.

As you can imagine with 25 people, it gets a little chaotic.

Someone got ahold of my camera and I have some stellar pictures of some of the brothers.

 

 

Opening more gifts!

More gifts being opened! There are seven brothers and it’s so much fun when everyone gets together!

Here I am all snuggled in an armchair with my two little loves, talking to a sister in love across the room filled with tons of children and chaotic present opening. That about sums up Christmas!

Grandpa has a little mini pug named Pug-Z.

King Kiah just chilling.

Daddy and Tera.

And thats a wrap on all the pictures I took. We ate a delicious Christmas dinner and then put all the kids to bed. The boys usually play some hardcore strategy games while the ladies sit around and talk birth stories, baby rearing and all sorts of things in between. Those evenings with the Hines family are my favorite. We enjoyed our one evening, but Theo and I were so exhausted that we headed to bed around 10. Shortly after midnight, Tera woke up and started throwing up. It was the strangest thing because she had been sick four days earlier, but had had three completely normal days. She threw up once and Theo cleaned up everything and then slept on the floor with her and a bucket. I stayed in the bed with Kiah and fed him through the night. We decided that we should pack up and leave right away instead of exposing all the cousins to whatever Tera apparently had. By morning she was perfectly fine, but Theo and I were exhausted and deeply discouraged about having to cut our brief 24 hours even shorter. Theo was so exhausted and sore from sleeping on the floor that he came down with a migraine, so I had to do the majority of the driving home. We had traffic, construction, horrible weather and needing to stop every few hours to feed Kiah on the way back. It was the longest trip home EVER, and I will admit that I cried for a good portion of it. I just wanted that family time so badly, and it seemed so incredibly unfair that all this would happen to us.

On that long drive I had a lot of time to reflect on Christmas and how hard it had been for me. I know it’s selfish to complain about something as minuscule as the stomach bug when there are so many worse things that could happen in the world.

Theo and I have talked about how we didn’t love Christmas this year, but we did actually love how we didn’t do any of the “traditional” things like presents and stockings and making a big deal out of the day itself. It made the day more sacred. More outer-focused. More about Christ, and his humble beginnings. Christmas isn’t about big presents or even family time. It’s about reflecting on Christ and how God himself came to the earth in the most humble way and at the most humble time. It wasn’t a “perfect Christmas”- in fact, it was probably the opposite of that in so many ways. I have never felt more understanding of the true meaning of Christmas until I went through this Christmas.

And now we are closing out this year and I am reflecting on all the things that I have gone through this year, and how much I have learned about God and His greatness. I’m weary and exhausted and not quite sure that I’m ready to tackle 2017 head-on, but here we are…He gives great grace and sustains us even when we aren’t sure how to keep on keeping on.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.