Jan 31, 2015

Saturday Snippets

Become one with nature at The Seattle Arboretum.

Still on a leggings kick...

Etsy to go public...

How to write a good bio...

An interesting twist to the Brittany Maynard story...

20 secret tips to shopping on Amazon...

I've heard so many people rave about this soup. I must try it...

TLC {yes, as in Waterfalls} is on Kickstarter...

And check out this NKOTB/TLC/Nelly mashup video. So many great 90s band acronyms right there...

19 crazy facts about Bill Gates' house...

28 things to do in Seattle...

I hate the book Goodnight Moon, so I found this post particularly funny...

Why being a mom is so exhausting...

Enjoyed this post on why it's important for athletes to play multiple sports...

I love a good marriage post written by a man...

Encouraging motherhood post of the week...

Jan 24, 2015

Saturday Snippets

On getting rid of toys...

Some fun free fonts...

A really helpful article about talking with children about sexual abuse...

You just had a baby. Remind me to read this in six months.

The cutest crossbody satchel {in gravel color}...

How to make time to write...

These fleece booties are on Baby #2's registry...

An interesting study on falling in love...

I love this rug. Great reviews and a great price for a large area rug.

I finally found new sheets, y'all! I've been looking for ages. {I also like these ones...}

Two thought-provoking articles about common core testing {here and here}...

I can't handle people tattling on parents. I used to walk a mile home from the bus stop every day when I was 11, only a year older than the kid in this article...

I kind of tear up at everything these days, but this post was exceptionally beautiful...

Jan 22, 2015

January Goals

I know it's nearly the end of the month, but since I spent so long reflecting on my long-term goals for this year, it's taken me a while to get these listed. I have been working on this list behind the scenes though. :)

This is how I'm breaking my BIG YEARLY GOALS {honor, prayer, family, rest, write, home} into small steps each month:

Note to Micah {honor}
Monthly encouragement note {honor}
Date with Zianne {honor/family}
Pray to the Spirit to show honor {honor}
Make prayer journal {prayer}
Write in prayer journal {prayer}
Record prayer answers {prayer}
Prayer for Zianne and Baby #2 {prayer}
Sentence prayers in car {prayer}
Memorize Romans 8:9-11 {honor/prayer}
Make list of date ideas {family}
Date night with Micah {family}
Clean out recipe binder {family}
Read one book for fun {rest}
Weekly social event with a girlfriend {rest}
Pray about rest {rest}
Enroll Zianne in school {write}
One hour/300 words per day of dissertation writing {write}
Four hour/1000 word writing day each week {write}
Blog at least once a week {rest/write}
Clean out living room {home}
Clean out toys {home}
Organize Zianne's 18 month clothing {home}

Jan 21, 2015

Goal Setting 2015

And finally the time has come to share six big goals I have for 2015. If you thought we'd never actually get to this point, neither did I. I spent almost the first three weeks of January trying to get through my Power Sheets, while juggling a sick baby, my sick self, a pregnancy, and school starting up again. But finally, we are here! Usually my goals wouldn't be this broad, but I am realizing that it actually makes sense to make BIG, meaningful goals, as long as you are willing to break them down into baby steps day by day, week by week, month by month.

Goal #1: Outdo others in showing HONOR {"Honor" is my word for the year... Romans 12:10}
Why: This is a focused way to tangibly show the love of Christ to others.
Write notes frequently to thank and encourage Micah
Spend focused, one on one time with Zianne to encourage her gifts and show her love
Send monthly notes of encouragement to friends and family
In heated, frustrating conversations, pause and pray for the Spirit to help me show honor

Goal #2: Make prayer a part of my daily lifestyle
Why: This is an area where my spiritual discipline is seriously lacking. This lack of prayer prevents me from knowing the Father more deeply and trusting Him to meet my needs.
Write structured prayers 4+ days per week
Continue to use prayer journal
Record answers to prayers
Practice sentence prayers throughout the day {while prepping meals, doing housework, in the car, etc. until it becomes a habit}
Memorize Scripture as an act of prayer

Goal #3: Create meaningful family memories
Why: I want to use my time with Micah and my children well and create a godly legacy for future generations
Date nights with Micah once a month {make a list of ideas}
Intentional one-on-one outings with Zianne
Start journal Bible for children
Continue prayer journals for both kids
Write monthly letters to Baby #2
Organize and archive family recipes

Goal #4: Rest well
Why: Rest is a gift from God and an essential part of the Christian life. I'm still figuring out what rest looks like for me, both on the Sabbath and throughout daily life.
Continue reading for fun at bedtime {one book per month}
Plan one social event with a girlfriend each week
Pray about rest - ask God to reveal how to rest and to teach me to protect the times of rest He gives me

Goal #5: Prioritize writing in my daily schedule
Why: I need to make writing an {almost} daily habit/priority and get a draft of my dissertation done by June.
Write dissertation for one hour/300 words on weekday mornings before Zianne wakes up
Dissertation writing day on Tuesdays {4 hours/1000 words}
Blog at least once a week

Goal #6: Purge and prepare home
Why: This summer we are either going to sell our house or bring another baby into it, so it needs to be streamlined for space and efficiency either way.
Clean out every room/space
Reactivate real estate license
Buy or receive minimal quality items for Baby #2
Prepare guest room as nursery
Get roof repaired
Organize Zianne's clothes

There they are... my six BIG goals for 2015, which will require hundreds of tiny, steadfast steps. I'll be back tomorrow to show you my goals for January and how my small monthly goals align with the big yearly goals listed above.

Jan 20, 2015

Goal Setting 2015

It's easy to look back on a year and see the gaps. To see goals still unfulfilled and assess areas in your life that need fixing. I'm all for honest reflection and making changes, but I don't want to let a year go by where I forget to stop and look back on all God has done in me and through me. In order to praise God for all the good He did last year, I wrote down a Record of Good for 2014. I just spent about ten minutes listing every blessing and praise I could think of. This list was so fun to write. God is so faithful.

Record of Good:
-Wrote {and passed} two portfolio papers
-Got a high pass on my comprehensive exam!
-Passed my dissertation prospectus and became ABD {"All But Dissertation"}
-Finished one chapter of dissertation
-Taught a summer school course for the first time and it went really well
-Attended RSA conference in San Antonio on a travel grant
-Fun dates with Micah: Blake Shelton/The Band Perry concert, Valley Ho anniversary, Old Town overnight
-Zianne learned to crawl, walk, and talk
-Zianne had a year of great health and sleep habits
-Zianne loves going to childcare at the gym and church
-Micah and I turned 32 and had fun celebrations
-Memorized Romans 8:1-9
-Shared homiletic method on the blog
-Became members at church
-Became a Scripture reader at church
-Got new AC unit, pool motor, front door, and cement fixed in yard
-Had a huge house purge and a successful garage sale
-Many dear friends came to visit {Sarah + Bekah, Camille} and family too
-My cousin started going to church with us!
-Minimized my wardrobe and cut back on shopping
-Ran two 5Ks {while pregnant... ha!} and Pat's Run {and surpassed by 40 minute goal with a 37:12!}
-Completed my goal to breastfeed for a year!
-Got long-awaited skin check at dermatologist and biopsies came back clear
-Finished some big financial tasks {getting life insurance, merging my 401Ks, etc.}
-Read 12 books for fun!
-Wrote monthly notes of encouragement to friends and family
-Studied the Bible almost every morning

And to head into 2015 with a positive, hopeful perspective, here is a list of what FIRES me up. These are passions and desires I hope to fulfill in new ways in this new year:
-Studying the Bible and teaching it to other women
-Reading for fun
-Date nights
-Quality time with loved ones, 1-on-1 or in small groups
-Finding affordable, well-constructed, flattering clothes that mesh well with my current wardrobe
-Working out consistently and beating running goals
-Organized spaces and clear plans for big projects
-Hanging out at a coffee shop with a friend or my computer
-Exploring new neighborhoods {houses and shops}
-Trying new restaurants
-Lounging by the pool and reading magazines

And finally, here are my NO and YES lists for 2015!
What I'm saying NO to:
-Stuff {Accumulating it. Cleaning it. Storing it.}
-A harsh tongue
-Anxiety over housekeeping and my daily schedule
-Wasting dissertation writing time
-Staying up late

What I'm saying YES to:
-Prayer {both structured, written prayers and sentence prayers throughout the day}
-Showing honor with my words
-Buying a few planned, quality items for wardrobe, home, and baby
-Prioritizing dissertation writing
-Getting up early
-Date nights {and day dates with Zianne}

Jan 19, 2015

Goal Setting 2015

I am still working through my goals for this new year. We had twenty consecutive days of visitors over Christmas and New Years, and Zianne and I have been sick on and off {mostly on} since early December, so my goal-setting process has been slower than I would have liked. However, I am learning more and more that thoughtful, meaningful goals take time. And just because I haven't written all mine out yet doesn't mean they don't exist. I've already started working towards some of my goals as I formulate my overall game plan for the year. 

Last year, I started using Lara Casey's goal setting method to help me cast vision for 2014. I cannot tell you how helpful her insight is when planning goals. This year I ordered her Power Sheets and I'm working my way through them, but I thought I would share some of her big goal-setting steps on the blog. 

To start with, here are some of my BIG ideas for the year. These aren't measurable goals but big things I am working toward in life. 

-Write/finish dissertation
-Raise Zianne in gospel love and godliness
-Welcome baby #2 with love, joy, and peace
-Invest in my marriage in ways that please the Lord
-Prepare to sell house this summer or streamline it to fit one more human being 
-Apply for jobs and trust the Lord with the outcome
-Redesign blog and write more frequently
-Commit to ways of serving our church and our neighbors as a family
-Deepen friendships in Phoenix and make a few new friends as well

And then I took the time to reflect on what did and did not work in 2014.

What worked well:
-Regular exercise
-Bible reading
-House cleaning
-Meal planning and cooking
-Progress with school {portfolio papers, exam, ABD, first chapter of dissertation}
-Serving at church {9:30am service team and Scripture reader}
-Reading for fun {12 books this year!}
-Encouragement notes {finally wrote at least one per month after attempting this goal for three years!}
-Shopping less {and better}

What I learned from what DID work:
-Rhythms work for me. Giving tasks daily, weekly, or monthly time slots is productive.
-If I persist in practicing daily/monthly goals {reading for fun, encouragement notes}, they will become habits.
-I almost always get my top priorities completed. I just need to shift what they are or make room for more.

What didn't work:
-Not enough sleep {would sacrifice sleep schedule to get things done}
-Haven't figured out consistent writing time for dissertation
-Didn't blog as much as I would have liked
-Still want to find new ways to serve in church and community
-Still trying to figure out Sabbath rest
-Not intentional enough about Zianne's spiritual and mental development

What I learned from what didn't work:
-My sleep schedule will anchor my schedule for the rest of the day. It's important!
-I must make dissertation writing one of my daily habits {in the same realm as Bible, exercise, and cleaning}.
-Reward systems work for me. Link productive writing with incentives such as blogging time and social events.

That's it for now. I will be back in the next few days with my goals for this coming year!

Jan 14, 2015

Our sweet second baby...

Were we trying for baby #2? Kind of.

16 week bump

Without sharing too many details of our intimate life around here, we felt comfortable having a baby once Zianne reached nine months and we knew there would be at least an 18 month gap between kids. {Granted, if it had happened earlier, we would have been uncomfortable and perfectly fine and blessed}. However, I had always pictured having at least a two year gap, so I was in no rush to start trying again. Micah, on the other hand, got this crazy notion of having a baby in early May. To make a boring story short, there was a chance my personal health insurance would run out in mid-May of this year {it turns out it won't} and its prenatal benefits are awesome. Micah concocted a plan where I would finish my dissertation in late April and pop out a baby precisely 1-2 weeks later, right before my contract with ASU ended. It was a funny, ridiculous plan, especially considering my cycle had just come back and I was still nursing, but I agreed to try. When it didn't work, I quickly reverted back to the idea of delaying pregnancy a little longer. I had a list of reasons a mile long on how I couldn't and wouldn't get pregnant for a few more months, including... the fact that I was still breastfeeding. My cycle was irregular. I didn't want a summer baby because then you have to make annoying decisions about when to start your kid in school. A 2+ year gap would be better for our family. Etc. Etc. I presented this list of reasons to Micah {and all my closest girlfriends} and figured we would start trying for a second baby around Thanksgiving or Christmas...

A few weeks later I was standing on my driveway running a garage sale when I realized my cycle had reached a point beyond "irregular." If my calculations were correct, I was a full week late. I made a mental note to pick up a pregnancy test when I went grocery shopping on Monday.

As I was making my grocery list two days later, I thought, "What if I am pregnant? How should I tell Micah?" I decided I would pick up a baby doll for Zianne, since she didn't have one yet, and do something with that to announce the news. Then I thought, "But what if I'm not?" I determined I would just put the doll in the closet for a few months until I actually was pregnant. Zianne would never know the difference.

After returning from the store that day, I put Zianne down for a nap and made my way into the bathroom. I really had no inclination up until that point, but as soon as I peed on that plastic stick I knew with certainty that it would read "Pregnant" in approximately two minutes. I put it face down on the back of the toilet and went to brush my teeth. I came back and my instincts were confirmed. I instantly thought, "Okay. Here we go. Summer baby it is." I was incredibly happy and inwardly laughing at my list of reasons I had made about not getting pregnant.

When Micah came home from work that evening, he found Zianne playing in the living room with her new doll. He picked it up to look at it, and I said casually, "Look at the inside of that doll. It's so weird." He unzipped the doll's onesie unknowingly and read a note that said, "Mommy got me this new doll so I can practice taking care of my new baby brother or sister." He looked up at me with disbelief. "But I thought you said you couldn't get pregnant because you were nursing... and the timing was off.. and you didn't want a summer baby... and..." To which I replied, "Yep, I said all those things, but we're having a baby in June!" 

And it's true. We're having a baby in June. And we are thrilled. Now it feels like the most natural thing in the world and like the perfect timing. Our children will be 21 months apart, and I will have almost the whole summer to cuddle our newborn before going back to work in the fall.

***And for those of you wondering, our anatomy ultrasound was earlier this week and NO we did not find out the sex of the baby. :)

Jan 12, 2015

The First Trimester

Now that I'm 18 weeks pregnant, I'm finally getting around to documenting the first trimester of this pregnancy...

I took ZERO bump pics during the first trimester, but here is our family of four when I was 13 weeks.

Overall, it was a fairly easy trimester compared to what some women experience at the start of pregnancy. However, it was definitely not as smooth as with Zianne. I felt nauseated for weeks 6-9 and really struggled to find food that sounded appetizing. One night I finally made this honey garlic chicken recipe that I had pinned ages ago, but by the time I had it on the table I could barely bring myself to look at it, much less eat it. As Micah and Kayla were raving about the recipe, I got up suddenly, spit my current bite into the trash can, and went to lie down on my bed in the dark. I have never thrown up during pregnancy, but I got very close to breaking the streak that night. I also struggled a bit more with fatigue this pregnancy. I didn't really feel tired throughout the day like many women do, but I would fade so quickly in the evening. Zianne goes to bed around 8pm, and many nights I would put her down and then have to coax myself to stay up past 9pm. I am a night owl by nature, so this was a strange feeling for me.

I also hilariously ran two 5Ks during my first trimester. I ran the first one with all the girls in my community group when I was four weeks. I had no idea I was pregnant and was annoyed that I ran about a minute slower than I usually do. I immediately signed up for another race the following month to "beat" my slow time. Joke was on me. I found out I was pregnant a few days later, and then had to mentally and physically prepare myself for another race at 9 weeks since I had already paid for it and roped a few friends into running with me. I did NOT beat my time, but I was only two seconds slower which I was actually kind of impressed by.

The other strange thing that happened during the first trimester was that my hip started hurting me the DAY AFTER I found out I was pregnant. I had significant hip problems at the end of my pregnancy with Zianne, and at five and a half weeks pregnant I started experiencing the same type of pain this time. I went to the chiropractor and I've been feeling better, but it's official that the relaxin hormone and my hips do not get along. I'm hoping regular chiropractic appointments throughout this pregnancy prevent me from running into major hip pain later on.

So that is how my first trimester went down. It wasn't as easy as last time, but overall I seem to be blessed with really smooth pregnancies. {Although my second trimester has been throwing me for a loop... but more on that later!}

Jan 10, 2015

Saturday Snippets

Bible Reading Is an Art

Lay aside irritability and fretting this year...

How to curate your digital identity. This article pertains to academics, but I think most of it relates to anyone with a professional presence online.

I missed the memo on this possibly exciting news. Lorelai fans unite.

An awesome post about how undergrads should approach their college years...

Since a richer prayer life is one of my goals for this year, I found this post especially helpful...

I found this article on women with the gift of teaching super compelling...

Love this post about gathering around the dinner table...

Two posts here and here to encourage your Bible reading in the new year...

Apparently, I'm on a black leggings kick and these velvet ones are super comfortable! And I also liked these ones!

Good, thought-provoking read on why homosexuality is different from other sins...

Jan 7, 2015

Baby #2

It's true! In case you missed my post on Instagram back in early December, the Russums are joyfully expecting a second baby due in mid June. I had high aims of posting a cutesy announcement on the blog... perhaps with some phrasing such as "two are better than one" or "adding another arrow to our quiver" or something like that, but as all seasoned moms will tell you {and as I'm quickly experiencing firsthand}, second-time pregnancy doesn't allow much time or energy for cute or creative announcements.

On the day I posted our news on Instagram, Zianne and I were both sick. I threw a baby doll in her arms {the same one I used to tell Micah the news weeks earlier}, hoped Z would smile, and used a photo filter to hide the snot dripping out of her nose. I had already surpassed the 13 week mark, and I needed to announce the news before my slowly protruding bump spread the word for me. I didn't even get to personally tell all the friends I hoped to beforehand and if you are one of them... I'm sorry. That is second-time motherhood, y'all.

Although pregnancy is not as novel and all-consuming this time around, it is still incredibly special and I don't take it for granted one bit. I am truly in awe that God would give us another baby, and I still take a few minutes now and then to marvel at the mystery that a human being is growing inside me! I know there won't be as many bump pictures this time around and OB appointments feel more like a chore than an exhilarating outing, but I still hope to cherish this pregnancy and prepare my heart for this baby's arrival. That being said, I have a few commitments I'd like to make to this second child of mine...

1. Bump pics. They definitely won't be weekly, but I hope to take one every few weeks or so as this pregnancy progresses.

2. Prayer. I started writing down prayers in a journal for Zianne when I was pregnant with her. I've started a second journal for this baby, and although the volume of written prayers might be less, the book exists and I plan to add to it diligently.

3. A letter a month. During Zianne's first year of life, I wrote her a monthly Dear Zianne letter. I truly hope to accomplish the same thing with this second baby. It was such a beautiful way to capture the hazy baby days.

That's it. Those are my commitments to sweet Baby #2 as far as documenting first year or two of life. I can't wait to meet this little one.

Jan 3, 2015

Saturday Snippets

gift guide: quality over quantity | reading my tea leaves

I know Christmas is over, but I'm saving these gift-giving tips for next year...

Love this slightly quirky home decor...

The story behind MailKimp...

I can't wait to start doing this with Zianne...

Hilarious account of living according to the Pinterest popular page...

An interesting view on hospital gowns during labor...

Love this view on children and coming to the end of ourselves...

I don't care if you want to give out goody bags, but I agree there is a problem with the prevalent view that babies {or children in general} are a burden or an inconvenience in society.
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