Jan 31, 2014

Saturday Snippets

When I take a week off from posting Snippets, my phone is practically bursting with open browser pages for an extra seven days. See the explosion below... :)


These both went a bit viral last week, but just in case you missed them... Never has a day at home with the kids been described so well and five more questions for husbands to ask their wives...

This week's inspiring post on motherhood...

Love fashion post on quality over quantity...

Our country has a ridiculous aversion to large families...

The girl behind the grin. This pretty much sums up me up. It's both convicting and hopeful...

As someone trying to read more often just for the fun of it, I appreciated this post on how to become a reader...

Love this prayer journal...

I appreciated this post on dealing with a difficult child... and the encouragement to pray first and foremost.

Throwing away 100 things? This must be one of my love languages.

Three tips for better Bible reading...

And check out this chart for how long it takes to read each book of the Bible. Totally do-able! {Click on graph to enlarge.}

Jan 29, 2014

Paper Galore

It's no joke that I have a thing for paper. If I'm helping host a party, I'll always offer to design invites or address envelopes, because stationery, pens, calligraphy, and postage stamps are my jam. If I am embarking on a new project or starting a new class, you can bet I'm going to snatch up a new notebook or two. And Christmas cards? You bet I send them, with an old-fashioned letter included, nonetheless.

I thought it would be fun to re-cap some of my favorite paper products of 2013 and talk about my paper-goal for this new year.

nesting baby shower - Invite by Paper Clever

A vintage airplane baby shower - Invite by Kate's Printables

My book baby shower - Invite by Tiny Prints

Zianne's birth announcements - Minted

Our Christmas Card - Design by Blossom and Vine

New Year's Eve Fiesta Invites - c/o Tiny Prints

So now you get it... I love paper! But while it's exciting to send out cute paper products for parties and holidays, it's also fun to give {and receive} handwritten notes from time to time - for no other reason than to love and encourage someone else. Every year I have had a goal to write more notes of encouragement to others, but most years I've failed to do so. One year I made it all the way until May, writing two handwritten cards per month, and then I totally flopped the rest of the year. I want 2014 to be the year I complete my goal - at least one note every single month. It seriously takes no more than ten minutes to write a short card that could uplift a friend when they need it most. Micah put some really cute stationery in my stocking to get my started on my goal, and I'm eyeing a few other fun cards to keep me motivated for the rest of the year {See them here... 1 // 2 // 3}. Maybe I will surpass my one-card-a-month goal with paper products as cute as these!

Finish This

This game is called "Finish This," and all you have to do is finish the following prompts and link up your post below! You can also visit the other hosts of this party on their fun blogs: Nicole {Three 31} Lisa {Coastlined}, and Becky {The Java Mama}.

I use my "green thumb" to... keep my little Ikea houseplants alive. I can't say they are thriving, but they are not dead at least. I can't say the same for my succulents or basil.

The secret to life is... Jesus. The Bible says Jesus was God's great mystery, but now he's been revealed and you can know who he is by reading or hearing God's Word.

I get my money's worth by... researching every single purchase I make on Amazon first. I'm slightly obsessed with online shopping and hunting down deals.

On a scale of 1 to 10, my level of organization is... an 8. I think a 10 is probably OCD-needs-medication level and a 9 would be a normal person with absolutely no messy drawers or piles around the house. I would say I'm super organized but I have spots of controlled chaos here and there.

Handwritten notes are... one of my goals for 2014. I want to write more of them to encourage friends and family!

Prompts for next week
1. I will never outgrow...

2. I splurge on...
3. My worst habit is...
4. My passport represents...
5. My most ridiculous fear is...
6. My favorite thing to give is...

Jan 21, 2014

Finish This

This game is called "Finish This," and all you have to do is finish the following prompts and link up your post below! You can also visit the other hosts of this party on their fun blogs: Nicole {Three 31} Lisa {The Coastal Chicster}, and Becky {The Java Mama}.

My daughter's face when I belt T.Swift in the kitchen...

1. A typical day in my life... now includes breastfeeding, nap training, diaper changes, and dancing or singing like an idiot when Zianne is fussy.

2. You'll never see me... wearing polyester. The feeling of the fabric gives me the creeps.

3. If I could buy one thing right now, it would be... coconut oil for the baby. In fact, it's currently sitting in my Amazon cart, waiting for me to make my purchase.

4. I have high expectations for... myself AND others. It's one of the traits of my ESTJ personality. It's my nature to work really hard, set lofty goals, attain them, and get frustrated when others don't operate the same way. Clearly, this becomes problematic from time to time.

The prompts for next week are:
1. I use my "green thumb" to...
2. The secret to life is...
3. I get my money's worth by...
4. On a scale of 1 to 10, my level of organization is...
5. A gentleman always...
6. Handwritten notes are...

Jan 17, 2014

Saturday Snippets


A short piece of inspiration about a player on my favorite NFL team...

Instagram is, by far, my favorite social media. Although I've never really tried to grow my following, I liked this post nonetheless.

This seems like a really great video service. I might have to make one of these films to recap Zianne's first year.

Another dreamy white kitchen...

A super interesting article about baby name trends. As a victim of Category #4 (fad names), my child got stuck in Category #2 (really weird name).

As we settle back into life after the holidays, I enjoyed this post about making peace with family systems.

Although I've already bought my planner for this year, I'm tempted to go with a dateless planner like this one in the future. That way I won't waste pages when I write down NOTHING all summer long!

When God forces you to give yourself the kind of grace He gives abundantly...

Tips for organizing and storing photos. I've got to get better about this...

The myth of Tamiflu. Because I get a little more granola each and every day...

Jan 15, 2014

Three Months

Growing // This is the first month Zianne hasn't had a well-check, so I have no idea how much she weighs.... except I know it's a LOT. At first, I was thinking she probably weighed 17 or 18 pounds, but now I'm sure it's much more. She is so tall and dense that I wouldn't be surprised if she's pushing 20 pounds by the time her four month appointment rolls around.

Eating // We finally transitioned from 8 to 7 feedings a day, which provides a tiny bit of relief for this mama. I probably crammed 8 feedings in for far too long, but I was so intent on getting her to sleep through the night that is was worth it to me to feed her ALL day long in hopes she would sleep ALL night long.

Wearing // Zianne is fully in 9 month clothes, although my sister and I put her in a 6 month dress for the three month pictures you see here. She hadn't worn it yet, and it was too cute to let it go neglected. Obviously, she had to wear it as a tunic...

Doing // Sleeping through the night! After Zianne reached about eight weeks, I started feeling like it was time to move her out of our room. It was getting so stressful with her in there, because she would go to bed at 9pm and we would come in an hour or two later, trying to whisper while getting ready for bed in the dark. I got mad at Micah more than once for dropping the toilet seat too loudly {but at least he always puts it down, right?}. However, we had so many guests staying with us in November that it never felt like a good time to transition her. Some nights she was sleeping six hours, but other nights it was the usual three-four hour stretch, and I didn't want to stumble down the hallway half-dressed in the middle of the night to soothe a crying baby if visitors were staying directly across from her room. When Micah's mom left the Saturday after Thanksgiving, on the day she turned 10 weeks old, Zianne spent the night in her crib for the first time. That same night, I started fully swaddling her again {we were doing one arm out, but I watched her hit herself in the face throughout a whole nap, so I decided to go back to the full swaddle}, and she slept through the night like a champion.... and has pretty much slept 8-10 hours every night since. Apparently, she wanted her own room. In other news, Zianne is smiling more often and recognizing more people, such as Micah's sister and my parents. Sometimes, she will give us a huge grin and then thrust her head to the side, as if she's bashful about how happy she is.

Loving // Her Baby Einstein music toy and Sassy Wonder Wheel. These are the first toys she's shown interest in. She smiles when we play the music toy for her, and Micah taught her how to reach out and spin her wheel.

Loathing // It's hard to say that our sweet, happy girl loathes anything, but she still is not a fan of being set down when she's tired and she dislikes any kind of rough fabric, zippers, or buttons in her face when being held. She also hates the process of strapping up the Ergo, but once I have everything clicked into place and walk around for a minute, she loves being carried.

Nicknames // Besides the usual... Baby Z, Z Baby, Zeeter... I have added "Pretty Little Giant" to the mix.

Daddy's girl // Micah was the first to introduce Z to the toys mentioned above. When she was only about 8 or 9 weeks old, he taught her how to spin her little wheel toy. At first, I though it was just a fluke, because she seemed way too young to reach out with such coordination, but she did it repeatedly the whole evening. Over the next few weeks, she did it more consistently and with more precision. Daddy, who is always trying to teach her new skills, was very proud.

Mishaps and milestones // Besides learning to sleep through the night, which must be one of the biggest milestones in all of life, Zianne sadly got her first little cold. Thankfully, it was very mild. After a day of coughing and a couple days with the best Snot Snucker of all time, she was back to normal. And she smiled the whole time she was sick, which was convicting to me because I tend to get grumpy when I'm not feeling well.

Jan 12, 2014

Dear Zianne {three months}

Dear Zianne,

Your dad described you perfectly the other day. He reflected on the time we put you in your new swing on Christmas Eve, and you rocked back-and-forth on the back patio in the afternoon sunshine. You weren't quite sure what to think, so you loosely held the tray in front of you with one hand while your other hand sat comfortably by your side. You looked around, just slightly cautious but also curious. Your dad later explained to me how your actions on the swing capture your personality so well, and I must say I agree. You aren't so carefree that you were smiling with both hands in the air during your first go on your new Fisher Price toy, but you weren't so nervous or fearful that you cried or even thought to clutch the swing with both hands. You're the perfect balance of laid-back but careful. Friendly but reserved. Sweet but brave. I love this about you.

You are the girl who didn't even cry when her foot got pricked for her PKU test. You are the girl that will examine a stranger for just a few seconds before bursting into a smile. You are the girl that experienced her first first bath and first swim lesson with a tentative look that quickly turned into playful splashes.

If you were coffee, my dear, you'd be a lovely blend. The perfect mix of mama's small nose and mouth and daddy's dreamer eyes. The perfect mix of daring and restraint. The perfect mix of playful and pensive.

I'm so excited to watch your personality brew in the coming weeks, months, and years


Jan 9, 2014

Goal-setting {Part III}

This is the final portion of my goal setting series... the part where I actually, FINALLY, state my goals for the year. You can read Part I and Part II to catch up.

Finally, after reflecting on everything in the past two posts, I set my goals. Most of them are focused on creating healthy rhythms in areas of my life that need structure {school!} or setting boundaries in areas of my life that are out of control {shopping! social media!}. Here is it goes...

Goal #1: Begin and end each day by resting in the Lord, and work my tail off in between...
What I think this looks like: I am a huge advocate for starting every day in Scripture first thing in the morning. I think it's the most important, life-changing decision any Christian makes... simply the choice to wake up and commune with God before the day's events transpire. However, since Zianne arrived, my quiet times have become sporadic. When she was a newborn, I would sometimes start my reading for the day on my phone at 4am while she nursed and finish it at 1pm when I finally had time to sit down for five minutes with my Bible and some coffee. Now that she is on a more consistent sleeping schedule, I need to re-prioritize my time in the Word, so it happens FIRST thing in the morning. This will mean waking up an hour before Zianne every day, which ideally means I will get up at 7am and she will wake up at 8am. The other half of this plan is to try to read for fun before bed most nights of the week, knowing that some nights I'll be too tired or we'll have a late event and it just won't happen. I love reading for fun, and find it very restful for me, but it's something that's been neglected since I started graduate school almost four years ago. So this is my current plan to begin each day in the rest that comes from feasting on God's Word and to end it with a restful activity that helps me wind down and relax.

Goal #2: Write for school most days of the week...
What I think this looks like: I have a LOT of writing to do. In the next year and a half of my life {roughly}, I have a portfolio paper to revise, another one to write, reading exams to study and take notes for, and a whole dissertation to finish. The only problem is that none of these projects have an official deadline, until I determine one with my chair at least, and I have no one sitting in my house with me everyday telling me to get my work done. I'm on my own, so I must find a way to make writing happen. Ideally, I would write in the early AM, but with a baby and trying to put God's Word first, I doubt I can make this happen. Instead, I plan to start using nap times very strategically. Zianne is just starting to transition to taking longer naps each day {Praise the Lord! The 25-45 minute newborn naps almost killed me when I was trying to finish up school last semester!}, and hopefully within a few weeks she will have a consistent morning nap and a longer afternoon nap. My plan is to use one of these naps for writing time {probably the morning nap} and the other to deal with housework, bills, email, etc.

Goal #3: Establish space in my life to blog consistently...
What I think this looks like: For me, consistent blogging used to mean at least five times a week. Those times were crazy, and I doubt I will ever keep that kind of schedule again, unless someone is paying me a million dollars to keep this place up and running. However, I have been affirmed and convicted time and time again that my blog is a serious ministry given me by the Lord. Between the emails I've sent and received, the questions I've answered, the words of truth I've been able to speak here, and the friendships I've made through blogging, I have no doubt that I am supposed to keep at it. And the good news is, I truly love it. I have never once, since starting this blog, felt tired or bored by it. However, I can't just blog the day away, although it sometimes sounds fun. My main job, other than loving and caring for my family and running our home, is to finish my PhD, so I have to somehow fit blogging into the mix carefully. Since it's fun for me, I am perfectly comfortable blogging on Sundays. It's restful and enjoyable and I love coming home from church and blogging my heart out on a Sunday afternoon. However, to actually maintain my blog, I will need a few more hours than Sunday afternoon can provide, so I'm thinking if I am able to write for school four times in a week, I will reward myself by blogging during my writing-nap on that fifth day of the week. I might also consider devoting one weekday evening to blogging as well, and then adjust my schedule as needed from there. I am also really convicted that my blog is to share my love of God's Word and to encourage other women in their faith. This means I will probably blog less about other topics and really focus on how I can share Christ in this space.

Goal #4: Set boundaries with the busy...
What I think this looks like: No matter how much or little I accomplish in a day, I always feel busy all day long. Whether I plan too many social events in a week or stay home in sweats all day trying to clean and nap train and catch up on emails, I always feel overwhelmed with things to do. I often feel like a slave to my to do list and I hate it. I am realizing I need to set some boundaries to help eliminate this bondage to busy that's been weighing down on me lately. I'm not entirely sure how this will play out this year, but I'm starting with a few things... 1) I am going to try eliminating social media on the weekends. I deleted Instagram and Twitter from my phone this weekend, and I loved it. I missed Instagram from time to time, but overall, I got more done on Saturday, rested better on Sunday, and got to read for fun a bit more since I wasn't scrolling through pictures all day long. 2) I am unsubscribing from all sale and discount emails and un-following certain shopping Instagram feeds I follow. Not only can shopping turn into an idol for me, but it also keeps me busy. Whether I'm buying, returning, or debating whether or not to buy, consuming is simply taking up too much of my time and brain space. 3) Saying no to housework... sometimes. I know most people resolve to keep their houses cleaner, but I can be OCD when it comes to keeping my house clean {and I'm not throwing that term around loosely; I often wonder if a doctor would diagnose me, because I can truly be controlling nut-job about my house}. I need to face reality. My house is decently clean at all times, because I have good rhythms with housework. My closets and cupboards are mostly organized. I pick up my house every day, and I even stay mostly caught up on laundry, even with an infant. I need this to be enough. I need to be okay with a few piles here and there, or waiting until the afternoon to pick up the house, so I can prioritize writing in the morning. It's so easy for me to slip into picking up my house ALL day long, and suddenly the sun goes down and I feel annoyed and unproductive and bitter that there is STILL one more basket of laundry to fold. I am hoping that devoting afternoon naps {only!} to cleaning will help me get this under control.

Goal #5: Build a family archive...
What I think this looks like: I am a historian by nature. I am a diary-keeper, calendar saver, picture taker. I like history, legacy, and artifacts. I love museums and lineage and history. I have my family tree traced out to my great-great grandparents in a box somewhere. I have complete scrapbooks from high school and college. But since getting married and starting the wild ride of graduate school, I've fallen a bit behind. I made a photo book for Micah to document our first year of marriage and since then I've done nothing. Now that we have a child, I feel like it's even more important to document life, find ways to preserve memories and even create new traditions and celebrations. This year I hope to catch up on my yearly Russum family photo books, complete Zianne's baby book to document her first year, continue to keep a prayer journal devoted to Zianne, and also start a journal Bible that I will write prayers and study notes in to pass down to my children someday. I also want to continue to invest in my marriage by planning fun dates night and writing encouraging notes to Micah from time to time. Hopefully, my goal to encourage, document, and create fun memories will spill over and I'll be able to celebrate with and uplift other family and friends more often as well.

Goal #6: Polish the silver...
What I think this looks like: By "polish the silver," I mean touch up and improve the areas of my life where I've already established a good rhythm. Again, I'm not entirely sure what this will look like over the course of a year, but I have a few small goals in mind that I want to start now. 1) Establish a consistent workout routine and get my abs back. I've been working out since Zianne was six weeks old {I literally left my postpartum visit and went directly to the gym.}, but it's definitely more complicated with an infant to juggle. Now that school is starting back up, and Z is old enough to go to childcare at the gym, I want to establish a routine where I am working out 3-4 days a week again. And although my post-baby body has been surprisingly good to me, I am on a mission to get my abs back to what they were. I am also hoping to run an organized race of some sort {5K, 10K, or sprint-tri} during the year. 2) I want to go DEEP in the Word. For the past four-ish years, I have read the Bible broadly. I've read it all the way through at least twice, and I've read most of the New Testament and Psalms and Proverbs three or four times. This is the year to dig in. I want to focus on a few power chapters or books of the Bible and study them like crazy. Word meanings. Commentaries. Memorizing. Listening to sermons on certain passages by pastors I respect and admire. I'm still working out my exact plan, but I'm super excited for something new. 3) Improve lunches. Overall, my meal planning, cooking and grocery shopping go pretty smoothly from week to week. We have easy breakfasts in the house at all times, and I generally cook dinner at least three nights a week. However, when it comes to lunch, I really struggle. I pack Micah's lunch most days, and I always send him with the same boring things... typically a sandwich, fruit, and some processed junk like fruit snacks or chips. And when I'm at home during the day, I never know what to eat. Some days I will eat a Lean Cuisine from the freezer, but I try to save those for days I'm at school. If I'm feeling really ambitious, I will cut up an apple, throw some crackers on a plate, and dip both into a glob of peanut butter. The worst case scenario, which happens all too often, is that I never really eat lunch but go from eating cereal and finishing my coffee at 11am to scrounging the pantry for junk food at 3pm. This plan is not good for anyone, but especially not for a breastfeeding mom. I need to figure out some creative, healthy, easy lunch plans ASAP.

That's it for now. Six big goals with many small steps. I've sketched out here what I think achieving my goals looks like right now. As the year progresses, I'm sure I will add to, delete, and modify my methods, but my overall hope is that the six outcomes above will happen to some degree by the time 2014 comes to a close. What about you? Do you have goals this year? Please share them below. Thanks for letting me ramble and reflect on my goals this week. I hope this little series has helped you get a grasp on your own goals and plans for this new year!

Jan 8, 2014

Goal-setting {Part II}

This week, I am sharing a three-part goal-setting series. You can read Part I here. Below is Part II...

My next step was to spend some time reflecting on the things I'm most passionate about or the experiences that bring me the most happiness or energy...

What FIRES me up?
-The WORD of God
-Teaching other women to read, love, and obey God's Word
-Writing in general {for both professional and personal reasons}
-Encouraging others
-A long, slow quiet time in the morning {with coffee}
-Date nights
-Capturing moments on camera
-Traveling {both to familiar and unknown places}
-Exploring new cities, neighborhoods, restaurants, and shops
-Home decor and design {but NOT DIY}
-Reaching a new pace or distance when running
-Quality time with girlfriends, both in groups and one-on-one
-Hosting parties
-Working/writing in a coffee shop
-Finding the best product or a good deal
-Having a clean house
-A flattering, modest, stylish and affordable outfit/wardrobe

What is my overall vision for 2014?
My vision is to establish new, healthy daily and weekly rhythms that allow me to work hard and rest well, without constantly feeling like a slave to burdens, tasks, and to-do lists. The hope is these new rhythms will help me work with excellence, use my gifts for God's glory, and love others well.

What I'm saying NO to in 2014?
-house projects that Micah can do better or more easily that I can
-extra social events that make me feel busy and overwhelmed instead of allowing me to invest in important friendships
-discount emails and sale Instagram feeds
-buying stuff I don't need
-using a harsh tongue
-using social media without any boundaries in place

What I'm saying YES to in 2014?
-blogging and some of the busy work that will inevitably come along with it {with boundaries set in place}
-getting more involved at our new-ish church
-making date nights with Micah happen consistently
-gentle words filled with patience, grace, and joy
-stating what I'm thankful for more often
-revamping the necessities in my closet {camisoles and tanks, black jeans, high heels, etc.}
-creating special memories and traditions for Zianne
-memorizing Scripture

I'll be back with PART III tomorrow... the part where I actually articulate my goals. :)

Jan 7, 2014

Goal-Setting {Part I}

As a natural goal-setter, I've always set New Year's goals or resolutions in some fashion. I used to divide my life into a few different categories {mental, spiritual, physical, relational, financial, etc.}, and make a goal or two for each area. For the past couple of years, I've been trying to scale back and just aim for a few big goals each year.

A few months ago I began jotting down a list of goals for 2014 on a little note in my phone. I picked five goals and was all ready to publish them when the new year arrived. Then I began reading this goal-setting series by Lara Casey, and was suddenly challenged. I realized the goals I had set for this year didn't really matter. They weren't directly tied to my gifts or my passions and they were really just a checklist that I could either complete to feel good about myself or completely ignore and not really feel bad about it. So over the past two weeks, I started a completely new goal list, thinking about what areas in my life are going well, what areas need improvement, and how God has been shaping me and preparing me to use my gifts for Him this year and throughout my life. In Lara's words, I've been "slow cooking" my goals instead of "microwaving" a to-do list.

Here's what I've come up with... I'm going to share each step with you over the next three days. This is a scaled down version of the Lara's approach, so if you want to see the whole thing, head over to her blog. But if you are struggling to define your 2014 resolutions and feel like you are running out of time {you're not!}... these abbreviated steps might be just what you need to create meaningful goals in this new year.

What worked for me in 2013?
-Bible reading and increased time spent meditating on Scripture and in prayer.
-cleaning and general home organization and management
-exercising consistently and experiencing a super healthy pregnancy
-socializing and staying in touch with various friends near and far
-meal planning, cooking, and packing lunches
-transitioning to motherhood and all that comes with my new lifestyle... breastfeeding, sleep schedules, etc.

What did NOT work for me in 2013?
-efficiency and productivity with school. I usually felt overwhelmed and scattered, repeating bad habits from undergrad, such as procrastinating and pulling all-nighters.... habits that really don't cut it if I'm actually going to write a dissertation in the somewhat near future.
-really engaging in and enjoying Sabbath rest. The Russums are huge proponents of accepting the Lord's gift of rest every Sunday, but since Zianne's birth we've fallen off the bandwagon a bit. I want to find ways to weave both rest and efficient, hard work into my week, so that when Sunday rolls around, I am ready to fully engage both my heart and mind in rest, instead of faking rest while my mind is in a million other places.
-blogging. It did not happen consistently, and I missed it greatly.
-shopping/consuming. I need to cut back and figure out how to engage in something that is necessary, but quickly becomes an idol for me.
-my sleep schedule is often surrendered to getting stuff done with school or around the house.

After reviewing the two lists above, I looked for takeaways, themes, or overall lessons...

Major takeaways...
1 // If I can find a healthy, moderate rhythm for something, I can usually persevere with it for the long-haul {i.e. cleaning my bathroom weekly, working out 3-4 days a week, etc.}

2 // Doing something "most" days of the week {at least 4} is healthy and attainable for me.

3 // I am called to write for the glory of God.

4 // Studying the Bible, teaching Zianne to read the Bible, and writing about the Bible for other women are core priorities for me.

I'll be back tomorrow to talk more about my passions and gifts, and how they coincide with my plans for 2014.

Jan 6, 2014

Finish This...

Hey y'all! I'm re-emerging from my holiday blogging break {which, let's be honest, was more of a in-the-year-of-2013-I-barely-had-time-to-blog break} by participating in a fun and funny link-up. This game is called "Finish This," and all you have to do is finish the following prompts and link up your post below {the link up will go live tonight or tomorrow morning}. You can also visit the other hosts of this party on their fun blogs: Nicole {Three 31} Lisa {The Coastal Chicster}and Becky {The Java Mama}.

Meet my new retainer...

Let's get started...

1. I first felt like a grown-up… when I got my driver's license. Even to this day, over 15 years later, I must admit that getting a driver's license and having the ability to drive oneself around is one of the most important, altering, liberating events in life.

2. I am one-of-a-kind because… I still wear my retainer at age 31. Seriously, not many people do this. I might not be the ONLY one, but I had an orthodontist confirm that I am a rarity. Until about a month ago, my retainer was the same one I had worn since 8th grade. It was moldy and disgusting, but I still wore it every night religiously. Thankfully, it's finally been replaced with a bacteria-free specimen that fits my adult sized mouth.

3. Spanx is… the product I willfully and humbly borrowed from my mom last Christmas to suck my post-Australia, post-Christmas {and unknowingly three week pregnant} body into a bridesmaid dress for my sister in law's wedding. I should probably just face reality and get my own Spanx.

4. My favorite family tradition… is celebrating our wedding anniversary each year, which we've committed to doing, even if life gets crazy or we have a zillion kids or whatnot.

5. The last thing I do before bed is… read for fun. At least, it's my 2014 goal to read for fun before bed. So far, so good. I love reading, but my PhD program has distracted me from reading for pure enjoyment, so I'm trying to work novels back into my life.

6. Happiness is… Coffee dates with girlfriends. Making time to blog. Hearing your baby giggle for the first time. Weddings. Wearing sweats and staying home all day. Trying new restaurants. Eating ice cream by the beach. A weekend getaway to a cabin in the woods. Floating the river. Being tan. Birthdays.

Jan 5, 2014

January Goals

Hey friends. I'm finding that publishing my monthly goals on the blog is actually working to hold me accountable. Even if I don't get all my goals accomplished, I usually bust my butt to get at least two or three of them done right away each month. Below you will find a quick re-cap of my December goals as well as an overview of my January goals.



My new retainers... I have them! And it's glorious. I finally made myself buck up and make the call to the dentist recommended to me. Within a week I was at my appointment getting that nasty mold plaster crammed down my throat, and a week later I went back to the office to pick up my new retainers. They are far superior to my old ones because they are designed better and fit my 31 year old mouth as opposed to my 14 year old mouth. Sadly, they aren't blue with silver sparkles to mimic the sky ceiling in Juliet's room in the 1996 Baz Luhrmann {aka Leonardo DiCaprio} Romeo and Juliet, but I had to make some sacrifices to get mouth apparatuses without scum and mold on them.

Advent reflections... I spent a few minutes every day of December leading up to Christmas reflecting on Jesus - who he is, what he promises, what he commands, and why he should be praised. It's my favorite thing I've ever done during the Christmas season and something I want to try to do in some variation every year. I posted my first few days on Instagram and many women seemed encouraged by it or asked me to share more, so I posted every single day. I hope it blessed you if you followed along, and if you want to catch up, you can find the reflections over on @jenrussum.

Finish the nursery... The room is DONE except for the wall decor. The closet and drawers are organized. Newborn through six month clothes have been stowed away. Everything is in its place. I started the gallery wall, but realized it will take longer than I anticipated, and I need a few more non-picture frame items for it. I also misplaced two prints I had blown up to 11x14 size. Where the heck are they? Getting everything organized was supposed to reveal them, but it did not.

Finishing the decal wall in the family room and getting books gathered for my portfolio paper... These two tasks were WAY too ambitious for December. With writing my final paper for my class, finishing grades for my students, mailing out Christmas cards, Christmas shopping and packing for Zianne's first big trip {on a plane!}, there was zero time for these projects. I need to readdress these projects this  month.


Finish gallery wall in Zianne's room... For now this will mean having the space completely filled in, even if I plan to make a few changes down the road. This also means finding or re-ordering the prints I need to finish filling her big frames.

Finish the decal wall in the family room... It is time, my friends. It is time. This is the last big project to make my house feel finished for now.

Email committee about portfolio papers... I find that if I am struggling to complete a goal, it's probably too big for the current time or resources I have available. Or it simply overwhelms me to the point where I avoid it. I think this is how I feel about finishing my portfolio papers, which is my next big hurdle in finishing my PhD. I've needed to get into contact with my faculty committee members for months to talk about my papers and next steps in general. My single goal this month is to email them. Perhaps from that point, I will get other related tasks accomplished{like how my goal to call about my retainer resulted in getting said retainer within the next three weeks}, but for now, I simply want to send these emails as a first step to confront this lingering project in front of me.

Write one note of encouragement... This relates to a larger year-long goal that I will share more about later this week.

Read Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham {yes... Lorelie Gilmore!}... This also relates to a year-long goal, so I'll share more later.

Jan 3, 2014

Saturday Snippets

Dads, Write in Your Bible

I've been using this fantastic series to help me set goals for 2014. I also liked this post about setting big goals.

Helping host this fun{ny} link-up next week...

Dads, write in your Bible {and moms, too}...

How I wish the homosexuality debate would go...

Nursing mamas... write off your pads, pumps, and creams on your taxes.

It matters whom you marry. I want every girl ever born to read this.

Recipe to try... Soft-Baked Monster Cookies.

Tempted to go back to an old-fashioned recipe box instead of the mess of binders, magazines, Pinterest, and bookmarked web-pages that makes up my recipe collection currently.

Loving these buckled booties...
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