Sep 29, 2015

Zianne's ABC Splash Bash

Well, our sweet Z is officially two. I have come to realize that the 1st birthday is for the parents... We did it! We survived our first year of parenthood. Let's buy all the cupcakes and balloons to celebrate! And the second birthday is for the child. They are finally old enough to have some preferences and can share in the glee of cake, candles, and presents.

Little Zianne Eileen, bookworm that she is, requested an ABC birthday party. I decided a 10am birthday might work best for all our 1-3 year old friends who still take naps, and booked a ramada at our local splash pad. Zianne requested coffee cake, which worked perfectly with an easy brunch spread of fruit, juice, and water.

{Invite by Abby Reese Design}




After searching on Amazon and Etsy for an hour for just the right alphabet cake toppers {I was getting in over my head considering silicon candy molds and icing stencils}, I suddenly remembered that Trader Joe's sells alphabet cookies. Done and done. I used the alphabet cookies to top the coffee cake muffins.

I found a pack of die-cut letters at Hobby Lobby in the clearance section {which I discovered later was missing the capital "L" page... upside down 7 to the rescue!}, and strung them together to make a banner. We used some of the extra letters to decorate the table cloths. My sweet neighbor lent me their chalkboard for fun birthday greeting. It was my first time using a chalk marker and it was so fun!




Although the splash pad was the main activity on the nearly 100 degree morning, I also brought all Z's favorite ABC books {Alphaprints // Dr. Seuss // Chicka Boom} for kids to look at as they hung out around the tables. For the favor, each family got to take home a pack of alphabet flash cards.

The whole morning was super fun. We are so thankful all Z's friends and their gracious parents braved the heat to celebrate with us!

+ Zianne's swim suit

Sep 26, 2015

Saturday Snippets

Word nerds unite...

This furniture swapping website is my new jam...

The Holy Spirit hovers over the Word of God...

Another fun artist to check out...

When your child's personality annoys you...

I have similar thoughts about cutting higher education enrollment...

Developing the discipline of reading...

Anthro is giving an extra 30% off sale this weekend, so I'm eyeing... this tee // this blouse // this short sleeved sweatshirt // this embroidered tank

And I just got two of these tanks and they are amazing quality...

Sep 23, 2015

Dear Talitha {Three Months}

Dear Talitha,

I want to let you in on a little secret...

Your sister thinks you're pretty cool.


For your whole childhood, you are going to look up to Zianne. You are going to want to be like her. Wear her clothes. Act like her. Play with her.

And for her whole childhood, she is going to be reminded that she's the leader. That she needs to be a good example. That her sister looks up to her.

And all these things are true. I have a little sister. I always had "to be the leader." She stole my clothes. We are still the best of friends.

Even though she's the big sister and you are the little sister, doesn't mean she doesn't admire you. I love my own sister and am so proud of her. I have things to learn from her compassionate spirit and her sense of fun and adventure. And for all the things you will learn from Zianne, you have things to teach her too.


Already you have taught her one thing... that it's fun to wear headbands. She has ripped every cute, fluffy headband off her head for the past year of her life. But all of a sudden you came along, wearing all your cute bows and flowers in your hair, and Zianne is suddenly all about wearing a headband again. She says "Wear headband. Wear headband. Like sissy."

I pray your relationship with your sister is a sweet one. May you learn from one another and love each other. May you lead and follow one another in friendship, service, and godliness. May you spur one another on to love and good deeds always. And may you always wear headbands and cute matching outfits.


Sep 21, 2015

Dear Zianne {Two Years}

Dear Zianne,

Today you turn two years old. I have loved you since before I laid eyes on you, when you were a silent, shifting babe deep in my womb, transforming my body in brand new ways and bringing about a hope and expectancy that I had never known.

And then I first laid eyes on you, the firstborn daughter your dad and I had always dreamed of and I loved you in a new tangible way that included clutching you to my chest and changing your diapers.

And then came the next 18 months. We fell into the mother-daughter relationship so easily. You slept well. You nursed well. You smiled. You laughed. You learned to crawl {finally}. You learned to walk {finally}. I had heard stories of tough transitions to motherhood, but our experience was the exact opposite. I prepared for every difficult thing - nursing creams, lactation consultants, rigid sleep training methods - all in place if needed. I prayed my guts out to overcome any possible challenges, and then everything fell into place so smoothly. I loved you. You loved me. Everything was great.

Don't get me wrong. There have been hard moments, of course. There are days your nap feels too short. There are times you whine for no reason, and I take a deep breath to pray for patience when I really want to yell. There was also the time you had a seizure in the middle of the night and your dad and I have never been so scared. Motherhood is not easy all the time, but you make it easier than I ever though it could be.

I always hear moms talk about the bursting love they have for their child. How they never knew they could love someone so deeply until their baby was laid in their eyes. And to be honest, those descriptions never resonated with me. Did I love you? Of course. And I always will. But it came so naturally that I never thought of it as bursting or profound or life altering. It just seemed right.

But in the last five or six months, my love for you has become the bursting kind of love. As I've watched your personality develop, I have fallen in love with you more deeply than I thought possible. Your words, your jokes, your little antics are my absolute favorite. You have a keen sense of humor for someone so young and an uncanny ability to string words together. Just today at breakfast, mimicking one of your favorite books, you said to me, "Elmo, Elmo, what do you see? I see Cookie Monster looking at me." Your dad and I instantly burst out laughing at our smart, hilarious daughter. You are also playful, friendly, and kind. You are rarely shy and greet everyone you see with amiable "hellos" and "goodbyes." You give hugs and high fives and pretend to call your favorite friends and family members on the phone. You are merciful and always attentive if another child is crying, pausing to see what is wrong and if you can help ease their pain.

You are also very aware of God and the Bible. Yesterday morning I went to get you out of your crib, a bit nostalgic that it was your last day as a one year old. You were lying on your back awake, just sucking your thumb as you always do, and I noticed your little Bible lay open at your feet. I asked you,"Were you reading your Bible, sweet girl?" And you looked up at me and replied softly, "Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so." He does, He does! May you know that truth more deeply every day of your life.

My love for you is bursting and profound, my child. The past two years have been full of great joy. I am amazed at the ways you've grown and changed, and I will delight in watching you grow and change for years to come.

You're my girl {"I your girl"}and I love you {I" luh you"},

Sep 19, 2015

Saturday Snippets

A dose of truth...

How to pray like the New Testament Church {and part II here}

How to help Syrian refugees...

Celebrating God's creativity in how he has gifted women...

Trying this soup as soon as the temp drops below 90...

The coolest art...

Sale items I'm eyeing... neutral but fun top // who can say "no" to a striped tee? // tunic tank

What we got Z for her 2nd birthday... a phonics toy and a toddler game!

Sep 12, 2015

Saturday Snippets

I am due for a new phone considering mine took a trip through the washing machine this summer...

A fun little journaling book...

Ladies, do you know there are great little journals to help you get in the Word like this one and this one?

Two bedtime prayers for weary parents... so good!

Nerdy article about Google's new logo...

Pretty cool new biz to preserve your iPhone photos...

An awesome new book to help talk with your kids about abuse...

An interesting read about teachers sharing lesson plans...

I am so into these maps lately - the signature food of each state...

Putting marvelous mini meatloaves on the menu...

I found this $100+ swimsuit at Ross for $30 and it's the best thing ever. Hunt the racks, people.

When you've seen the risen Christ...

Sep 10, 2015

To Fargo, I love you.

This past weekend we took both girls up to North Dakota to Micah's family reunion. The flights felt long. The girls were heavy. The Fargo air was humid. We ate way too many carbs. We came home exhausted. And it was pretty much the best weekend ever.

Family reunions get a bad rap with their casseroles and matching t-shirts. But after our weekend spent in the Midwest, I've decided there is really nothing sweeter in life than wearing matching shirts with your entire extended family, playing games, eating secret sloppy joe recipes from old, and challenging cousins to pop-a-shot and ping pong.

As I watched ten little children stand in front of their great-grandparents' church singing "Jesus Loves Me" on Sunday morning, I thought to myself "this is it." This is truly the meaning of life. Fancy vacations really don't compare to this. Carefree Labor Day weekends at the lake can't compete with the sight of four generations joined together with a legacy of faith and prayer binding the past to the future. People matter. We can spend our lives chasing money, fame, and comfort, but they are all so fleeting. What matters is people and their souls. When each generation pours into the next with love and grace and the good news that Jesus loves us and died for us and lives for us, that matters more than anything. Every conversation seasoned with the salt of grace, every laugh and tear shared, every burden shouldered, every dollar given out of generosity, every hurt covered with love and forgiveness, every meal shared and diaper changed with love and humility. Those are the moments that build a legacy.



Micah's great-great grandparents moved to barren and cold North Dakota in the 1850s to build a better life. They homesteaded on some of the world's richest soil, facing brutal winters while living in sod huts. A hundred years later the Russums had a thriving farm which still remains in the family. While the family history is astounding, the most interesting highlight is how each generation prayed for the next. And this weekend Micah's grandparents saw the answers to those prayers as they were honored and celebrated by their five children, almost all of their 17 grandchildren, and 21 of their great-grandchildren. I hope to someday witness such a sight in our own family. The days are hard right now. The laundry and the errands and the toys scattered on the floor combined with whiny voices and runny noises are enough to make me feel insane some days. But I know what to do... pray, laugh, forgive, preach the gospel to myself and others. Someday the whiny voices will be no more and instead I'll join my family in singing "It is Well with My Soul" so loudly that even my nearly-deaf ears can hear it.

Sep 5, 2015

Saturday Snippets

A productivity hack I seriously need to implement...

And early morning hacks for busy moms...

Essential reading for college students...

If every state had an official slang word...

A nerdy {but fascinating} article about AirBnB's pricing algorithm if you're into that sort of thing...

Loving these leather cuffs...

Just love your spouse...

When you fast...

This maxi dress is tempting...

This article is a little political at the end, but the new findings on breast milk are fascinating...

When public life makes you weary, turn to your private life with Christ...

A Newsies remix? Always, yes.

To oil or not to oil? Grace upon grace.

Because YOU can't keep your kids pure...

Throw the first stone...

Cute stuff from the Anthro sale: hooded tunic // scoop tee // colordrop tunic // charmeuse tank

Sep 3, 2015

Talitha Joy {2 months}

Growing // Talitha weighed 13 pounds, 7 ounces at her two month well check. Compared to Z, she is a wee little thing. Compared to other infants, she's in the 90-95th percentile. Russums make big babies.

Eating // Talitha has finally figured out how to nurse without choking and with far less squeaking. The sad part about this is we don't get to use her "Squeaky T" nickname very often. The good part is that nursing in public is far less awkward now that she's quieter.

Wearing // Baby girl is officially in 3-6 month clothing and will probably move to 6-9 month soon, since I'm pretty sure she's at least 15 pounds by now.  Her wardrobe is a perfect mix of sister's hand-me-downs and a few new items as well.

Doing // Making lots of eye contact. smiling with glee after every {short} nap, sleeping through the night, trying to roll over, crawl, and sit up on her own. She is super strong, so if she doesn't like her position, she will try to grunt, wiggle, and push her way out of it.

Loving // Being held, baths, watching sissy's antics, the ceiling fan {still}, and better yet... the ceiling fan reflection in the mirror, her playmat for short stints

Loathing // Going to bed after 8:30pm, taking long naps, when sister yanks her feet

Nicknames // Talitha Bean or T-Bean {this has become the dominant nickname around the house}

Mishaps // No significant mishaps this month, except for the ups and downs of sleep training. Z was perfectly content with a later (9pm-12am) bedtime at this age, but Talitha likes to conk out at 8:30pm on the dot. I was trying to dream feed her at 10-11pm for awhile, but she would barely eat. Now she simply goes to bed at 8:30pm and sleeps like a champ all night. Her downfall is naps. For the most part, they are only about 40 minutes long during the day, and they make mama's work/school life very difficult.

Milestones // Talitha had a busy month. She took her first plane ride to Washington and met her great-grandparents, plus lots of uncles, aunts, and cousins. She went camping at seven weeks old and was a pro at sleeping in a tent and lounging around our campsite by day, even though it was 100 degrees outside. She also started swim lessons this month! Hoping both our girls are safe and confident in the water...

Sep 2, 2015

In the Kitchen: Hatch Chile Queso

Hatch chiles y'all. They are so good, but only in season for a few weeks a year. However, that season happens to be right NOW, so go get some hatch chiles from your local grocer. Step one: buy all the hatch chiles you can. Step two: Roast all of them and throw some in your freezer so you can have hatch chiles in your life for months to come. Step three: Make this queso recipe right this second, because it's so quick and so delicious.

What you need:
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 hatch chiles, roasted, seeded, and chopped
4-6 Tbsp milk
8 oz white American cheese, shredded
4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

What you do:
*** To roast chiles, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees. Chiles should brown slightly. You can do a bunch at once and freeze some for later use.

1. Heat oil in small sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Saute onion until translucent, 3-5 minutes.
3. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
4. Add chiles {remember to remove seeds} and 4 TBSP milk, stirring until heated.
5. Add grated cheese one handful at a time, stirring occasionally to mix cheese and milk. 
6. additional milk by the tablespoon, if necessary, to reach desired consistency.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Serve warm with chips. Eat until it hurts!

*** Dip will thicken as it cools but it can easily be thinned with a short trip through the microwave. 
*** To re-heat the following day, add a tablespoon of milk and reheat on the stove or in the microwave. Heat partially, stir, and then continue to heat until you reach desired temperature. 

Sep 1, 2015

September Goals

Sharing a few achievable goals on my blog each month has been incredibly beneficial for me. I feel extra accountable to get things done when I know I will report back to my readers in this space. I don't always get everything accomplished on my monthly list, but I'm usually able to knock out the majority of my goals, and I consider that a very good thing. You can see my BIG 2015 goals here.

Last month's goals:
Encouragement notes to Micah and a friend
Date with Micah
Date with Zianne
Weekly girlfriend visit
Order pics for Z's baby book
Talitha's two month letter and two month update
Finish Glitter and Glue
Read Girls Like Us
Memorize Romans 8:12
Write down prayers for Micah, Zianne, and Talitha

This month's goals:
Encouragement notes to Micah and a friend
Date with Micah
Date with Zianne
Talitha's three month letter and update
Read a book for fun {Currently working on Girls Like Us}
Write Romans 8:12 on a note card and memorize while nursing
Write down prayers for each family member
Weekly girlfriend visit
Set up an academic website
Revise one chapter of my dissertation
Send out one chapter for publication
Clean out and organize baby clothes
Newer Posts Older Posts Home