Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September's Favorite Finds + a GIVEAWAY (another one!)

Yes, just to be clear, there are TWO giveaways going on this week!

The first one is an Amazon gift card that you can enter to win here, and the second one is at the bottom of this post! 

Why? Because

Today, Elizabeth and I are sharing our Favorite Finds for the month and we're giving away one of our favorites because we both just went crazy over it. And because we love giveaways. :)

Be sure to check out Elizabeth's Favorite Finds for the month here!

1. Gap Bathing Suit
(found here)
I love this swimsuit from Gap! It's not maternity, but works for the early stages of pregnancy and will be great post-pregnancy for times when I don't really want to be in a two-piece. I love the back- just a little extra cuteness to make it less one-piece-ish. Unfortunately, only the black color is on sale right now, but surely they'll run a sale again soon?! If not, $59 still isn't bad for a one piece.

2. One Line a Day Journal (found here)
I have loved taking a minute to jot down something sweet or funny or memorable from each day. I so wish I had this sooner but am glad I am able to start it now! I think this may be my new new-mom gift. It's such a manageable way to keep track of the everyday moments you don't want to forget.

3. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (found here)
And speaking of great new-mom gifts- this book needs to be put in the hands of every single woman and mother. It is SO good. You can read my full review of it here.

4. Sketcher's BOBS slip-on flats (found here)
These shoes are SO comfortable! I wear them around the house, on walks, when I'm running errands. They are perfect for so many things and feel great the minute you put them on. They come in lots of fun colors that you can check out here, and they're honestly much cuter on than they look in the picture online.

5. Gansevoort Hotel Promotion

The resort where we stayed for our first family vacation is offering the same 5th night free promotion that we used when we stayed. The promotion runs through December 18th of this year. Or if you can make a trip to Turks & Caicos work before October 31st, you can get the 4th night free. Ahhh, DO IT! I would go back, and I'm not one to repeat vacation spots. Such an amazing place that was.

6. Publix Chocolate Lovers Delight Cake (found here)
People. I am not playing with this. This cake. Good gracious. It's been in my dreams. Matt's mom got this for my birthday celebration at their house and I don't even want to tell you how much was left for me to take home and how much is left now. I'm not typically a fan of store-bought cakes (I feel like I should hold my nose in the air as I type that), and when I'm not pregnant, I don't dislike chocolate, but I don't really crave it either. I could take it or leave it. BUT WHEN I AM PREGNANT... hide your brownies and M&M's because chocolate becomes one of my favorite food groups. And this cake with this icing- Mmmm. All I'm saying is if you have a birthday or a dinner or you just need to eat some cake because it's been one of those weeks, this is it right here. You will thank me. And you're welcome.

And now

Want to win a copy of Jen Hatmaker's book For the Love - one of both mine and Elizabeth's favorites this month? Simply follow us both (@samandscout and @hmnelsen) on Instagram and like the photo of the book on both of our accounts. That's it!! We'll pick a random winner and announce it on Friday. Who knows, maybe one of you will start your weekend off with an Amazon gift card AND a new book! Both winners will be announced Friday!


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review: For the Love

I've been setting monthly goals to read at least one book, and this month, I was able to read two. This accomplish feels huge- let me tell you.

I'll touch on the first book I read in Friday's goals post, because the second book I read deserves an entire post all to itself.

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker was SUCH a good read.

As women, we unfortunately have this natural tendency to compare ourselves to others and feel like we are not measuring up in some way or another.

In her book, Jen banishes the idea that the perfect mom, wife, student, business exec (fill in the blank here) exists and encourages us crazy women to figure out what our passions are and do them WELL. And forget about the rest.

"We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise" -pg. 7

She also talked about how each season of life brings new demands and how we sometimes need to shift the expectations we place on ourselves to match the season we are in. We can't do it all, have it all, and be it all all the time.

"Operate in the right now. What does this season require of you? Unsure? Ask God." -pg. 7

She also touched on an area that I feel like women especially (myself included) struggle with- and that is minimizing our strengths in the face of compliments.

It's funny because I've never thought that when I compliment someone and they just say, "thank you" that they are being arrogant. That would be ridiculous! Yet I often find myself deflecting words that other people say toward me to minimize what they are saying. Why do we do this?! Are we trying to be humble? Does the attention just feel uncomfortable?

Whatever the reason, Jen (we're friends now in my head, so I'll just call her Jen) lovingly slams this response and made me realize a thing or two about what I am projecting when I handle compliments or praise in this way:

"I don't like when people minimize their gifts. There is a difference between humility and insecurity, and self-effacement does no one any favors. We teach our watching children to doubt and excuse and diminish themselves. (whoa) Do we want our kids to reflect on their mothers and have absolutely no idea what we loved? What we were good at? What got our pulses racing and minds spinning? Don't we want them to see us doing what we do best? ....There are no throwaway qualities. In fact, those qualities might point you in just the right direction. Nothing is wasted: not a characteristic, preference, experience, tragedy, quirk, nothing. It is all you and it is all purposed and it can all be used for great and glorious good." pg. 31-32

I need to embrace and appreciate and just say, "thank you" when people compliment me. And more than that, I need to think about the things I am good at and do enjoy and focus on doing them well.

She had this one section where she talked about adding things to her plate that she loved and knew she could do well, and taking things off (or just plain saying "no") to things that didn't fall into these categories.

I laughed when she talked about throwing her kids birthday parties and how this did not fall into her wheelhouse of gifts so she didn't put her energy there- off her plate.

But she loved cooking and preparing healthy, tasty meals for her family and made a point to do this well- on her plate.

In this age of social media, comparison has reached an all-new high. And it is insane. When our parents were raising us, they had no idea what so-in-so's mother was doing for her birthday party unless they were besties and discussed all of the pre-party details.

Matt says all of the time that social media is the highlight real of a person's life, but since that's all we tend to see, we think that that's all there is and we measure ourselves up to this unattainable (and unrealistic) goal.

So during this season of motherhood that I am currently in, I want to really focus on what matters most. I want to ask God to show me what I am best at, and how he wants to use those qualities to help lead my family and be a good friend to others. And to just say thank you and be quiet when people say, "Good job."

A few more thoughts from this book before I end this post and you go buy your own copy to enjoy:

On raising school-age kids and letting them fail:
"Any child who expects every authority figure and system to be geared toward his happiness is in for a shock. ....We should not cushion every blow. This is life. Learning to deal with struggle and develop responsibility is crucial. A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child. ....They don't need every advantage skewed their way and every discomfort fluffed with pillows. ....Let's not engineer our entire lives around their entertainment and manufactured success. If our kids only expect blessings and exemptions, they will be terrible grown-ups. These are not the adults we want to launch, nor are they the Snowflakes we want our kids to marry. ....We can still demonstrate gentle and attached parenting without raising children who melt on a warm day." pg. 66-67

On giving our kids Jesus:
"The best parents can have children who self-destruct, and the worst parents can have kids who thrive. The best we can do is give them Jesus. Not rules, not behaviors, not entertainment, not shame. ...Jesus is the only thing that will endure. He trumps parenting techniques, church culture, tight boundaries, and best-laid plans. Jesus can lead our children long after they've left our homes." -pg. 93

You guys, this is not even remotely covering all of the take-aways I learned and ah-ha moments I experienced while reading this book.

Even if reading is not your thing and one of those areas you have taken off of your plate for now ;) buy this book anyway and read just a little bit at a time. I guarantee you will be thankful you did!

You can purchase your copy here.

To read my other book reviews, click here.

And there's still time to enter the Amazon gift card giveaway! Winner will be announced Friday morning. Enter here.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Seagrove Beach Vacation Days 1-2

What a week we had at the beach! It was so nice to all be together under one roof and not have any home-related responsibilities to worry about for a week. Here's a look at our first couple of days together... and the getting-ready-to-leave and car trip leading up to those first couple of days too, because at this stage, these parts are worth documenting. ;)

The morning we left, Ryan and Tally played in the backyard while Matt and I loaded everything up. And I do mean ev-er-y-thing.
At one point, while Matt and I were both grabbing bags from the house, Ryan found the food bag with the bananas and started peeling them all back to eat- haha. Oops! You can't tell in this picture, but he has a big bite in his mouth.
Almost ready!

Ryan: "I really do love my new suitcase from my Mimi and Papa- I just did this thing that my mom calls hitting a wall."
He recovered quickly...
...and passed out two minutes into our drive. The little love.

And then about 30 minutes into our drive, Tal decided he wanted to snuggle. In the front seat. With his pregnant mama. Might I remind you he is 75lbs on a good day.
I eventually let Tal ride solo up front and moved to the back with Ryan. Tally gave us a big grin from the front seat like he had the whole thing planned.
He rides like a person. I've often considered buckling him.

Our first stop once we arrived was the popsicle shop, the "Pop Shop," where we met my sister and her boys.
Ryan liked his a little :)

Our house for the week! 

Believe it or not, this was totally not staged. The big boys wanted to show us their moves and requested the "Watch Me Whip" song that they apparently warm up to in P.E. 
Ryan, who loves a good dance move, climbed up the stairs and quickly joined them. And then we all died and whipped out the cameras. haha "whipped"... didn't even do that one on purpose

My favorite part might be Papa in the background calling Ryan's floor move the "Rump Bump"

The dancing (or "rump bump" continued inside with some "Dance too much booty in your pants" ...we only play quality music for our kids. ;)

Getting ready for bed

Night one snuggles

Day 2:
Our first full day started early. The week before we left, Ryan had started waking up anywhere between 5:15-5:45. So with the time change, this turned into 4:15-4:45. Needless to say, our days were FULL!
We walked down to the beach and caught the sunrise on our first morning.
And Tal LOVED his first time in the sand.

Love these two together
These two pictures are a little deceiving in that Tally was actually afraid of the "waves" (ripples could work here) and happened to lay in the water and play for about 3 seconds. 
This bottom picture is him most likely running for his life from the next "crashing" wave. Oh Tal.

This video is a better picture of Tal's feelings toward the ocean.

Each morning we rode bikes, walked, or ran along the main strip. We had the ocean breeze blowing and a whole day at the beach/pool ahead of us. This little morning exercise time was one of my favorite parts of the trip. And this is also where Ryan took his morning nap.
Sweet love.

We made a big breakfast each morning before heading out to the beach

Crazy to think we'll have a little lady with us next year! Eeek!!
This boy dances to the music in his head :)

Just walking around wearing a frisby

Love the way Noah is looking at Ryan in this pic :)

More pics to come later this week!

And if you missed Friday's post, I'm giving away a $31 Amazon gift card. You can enter here!
Winner will be announced Friday morning.