Friday, March 27, 2015

Wait.

Early in the day yesterday, I looked at my blog calendar to see what was on tap. I somehow managed to skip Wednesday's post and I had a "flash-back Friday" lined up for today. Something about that didn't feel quite right.

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Later in the afternoon, I had a spare minute and decided to grab a quick moment in the Word. My process for daily devotion is different every day. Sometimes I get up early in the morning and have an hour of journaling time before work. Some days, I bring my Bible and a small bag of supplies to work and I fit it into my lunch hour or an afternoon break. Other times, it is squeezed in between dinner and bath time, just in time for bed. The method is different sometimes, too. I fluctuate between She Reads Truth and Jesus Calling, with a few random devotions in between. Sometimes I rework a passage that I'm not happy with. Song lyrics speak to me on my morning commute and inspire me to find a corresponding verse. Yesterday, I spent time in Luke pretty early in the day -- it was one of my favorite SRT Lenten days so far. Since I had time to double up, I looked to the Jesus Calling app the second time I opened my Bible. The title was "Waiting on Me". 

Waiting on me means directing your attention to Me in hopeful anticipation of what I will do. It entails trusting Me with ever fiber of your being, instead of trying to figure things out yourself. Waiting on Me is the way I designed you to live: all day, every day. I created you to stay conscious of Me as you go about your daily duties. 

I have promised many blessings to those who wait on Me: renewed strength, living above one's circumstances, resurgence of hope, awareness of My continual Presence. Waiting on Me enables you to glorify Me by living in deep dependence on Me, ready to do My will. It also helps you to enjoy Me; in My Presence is fullness of joy.

When I opened my Bible to Lamentations 3:24, I realized that I had already journaled that page earlier this month. The ESV translation says "The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him." The version I read in Jesus Calling yesterday said "therefore I will WAIT for Him." 

It is no coincidence that I've now read these passages twice in a matter of months. If you've been reading for long, you'll know we have been in a bit of a holding pattern regarding our home and where we felt like God was leading us to settle {we think permanently, but we'll leave that up to God}. It has been a year of fits and starts. We have looked at countless homes, drawn up our own house plans and talked long into the night about our dreams and where we hope to find ourselves. Every time I felt like a real possibility was within our grasp, I heard the word WAIT.

Waiting is hard. Patience has never been my strong suit; I'm an instant-gratification kind of girl. I don't save my money, I don't ponder over decisions, I cut off all my hair on a whim and I am quick to fall in love with ideas. I like things on my schedule and I find it difficult to be still and be led. This isn't the first time God has tried to teach me this lesson. We waited for two long years on Ella and another two for Sophie. God has always been in the business of halting my steps. Why am I so surprised that he's done it again?

I'm hesitant to tell you that we have it all figured out, because I know where that has gotten me in the past. What I will tell you is that I hear Him saying, "You won't be waiting much longer." We are making progress and figuring things out and it's exciting and nerve-wracking and some days I just like to avoid thinking about it altogether. But I know that His plan is coming together. Slowly, but surely. 

There is a house -- a home -- that He means for us to grow old and grey in. A place to rock on the front porch and celebrate holidays and decorate and renovate. I'm pretty sure I know exactly where it sits, but I'm going to do a little more waiting for now.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Trunk Club

Josh has always been a good sport when it comes to blog appearances and participation, but since he started writing articles for a man-site (and meeting friends from the interweb?!), he's become even more agreeable. He called me at work a few weeks ago to tell me that he had signed up for "the man-version of StitchFix" and I pretty much died. He decided to order a box and write a review post on his own, but I figured we could all benefit from his investigation, right?

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Although it IS a mail-order clothing service, after reading up a little bit I realized there are a few marked differences: (1) there are no charges for ordering a box - it ships free both ways; (2) you actually get to speak with your stylist on the phone and tell her all about what you do and don't like or want in each shipment; (3) you get to preview the selection of items they are preparing to send and can veto anything that falls outside of your comfort zone; (4) you have zero control over the budget; (5) they send you TONS of clothes - Josh got fifteen pieces in the first shipment; and most importantly (6) it all comes in this amazing little box!

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How cute are all of these items all packaged up and ready to try on? He had already "taken a few photos" by the time I saw everything and, of course, he had dismantled this whole stylishly packaged situation. I found myself folding and tying and generally trying to make it look like this again for your viewing pleasure.

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It came with a nice little package full of packing instructions & supplies, a note from his stylist and a list of items included & their prices (!!!).

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Let's take a look at these shoes -- The Stallworth Captoe Boot. Are these not the most beautiful boots you've ever seen? Agreed. Josh was pretty much in love with them, but before you get too excited, let me tell you that they were $450. For man shoes. The moral of this story is that you pretty much have to be a bazillionaire to afford anything in the box. Now before you start telling me all about cost per wear and quality clothes, let me assure you that I enjoy my Tory Burch flats just as much as the next girl and I pretty much wear them every day, so we're talking pennies per wear. BUT, this sweet man works from home (in his sweats), then coaches baseball and *maybe* puts on real clothes once or twice a week unless we're traveling. There is nothing inherently wrong with spending money on nice things, but we have to be practical about it. Okay?

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But just for a moment, let's suspend real life and talk about what he loved and would have kept if money weren't an option for a random Saturday evening date. This anchor print button down, blue chinos and boots were pretty much his favorite outfit ever. I'll be the first to admit that I seriously considered how I could afford to spend almost $200 on those pants because they are mighty cute on this man.

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Again with the boots.

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And how cute are these tiny anchors?!

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He ended up keeping the anchor print button down and a pair of boxer briefs. He might would have kept another shirt (or two, if I had any say) but they weren't quite broad enough in the shoulder for him. While we will never be able to afford a box of clothes for $1800 (are you kidding me?), I understand that the service is probably a necessary one for many and that some of you might find these prices entirely reasonable for your lifestyle. We would certainly consider keeping a few pieces from time to time, especially considering that Josh rarely ever shops for himself. All in all? A fun experiment on an otherwise lazy morning. When else can I convince him to stand still for the camera?!

You can see all of the details from his box below or visit Trunk Club to sign up for a box of your own! This post was not sponsored in any way and the items we kept were purchased just because we loved them.


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  1. The Perfect Sportshirt, J.Press, $88 -- Initially, this was my favorite thing in the box. Hello Hipster, meet Lumberjack. I loved it a lot and thought the price was good, but it was too snug across the shoulders and chest.
  2. Pinpoint Oxford Shirt, Ralph Lauren, $98 -- This shirt was a whole lot of pink. Even Sophie remarked on the color. I don't think Josh even tried this one on.
  3. Solid Contrast Bank Sock, ADL, $14 -- Just socks. I'm sure they are fine, but he has plenty of good socks and prefers crazy prints and patterns.
  4. Boxer Brief, Bread & Boxers, $18 -- These are good and they sent both black and grey. They are typical boxer briefs, but a little shorter length. You should get some for your man!
  5. Brightstone Shirt, Rodd & Gunn, $145 - This was a flannel button down, which I'm not necessarily opposed to, but the colors were just meh. Too much brown for me.
  6. Button Down Dark Ground Check Shirt, RVYC, $88 -- My opinion on this shirt is pretty similar to that of item number one. I love the look and the price, but the fit was off.
  7. Bandana Shirt, Life After Denim, $128 -- This was a keeper. It's more than we would normally spend on a casual button down, but it's fun and different and Josh looked mighty adorable wearing it to see Houndmouth last weekend!
  8. 3/4 Sleeve Raglan Henley, Alternative Apparel, $40 -- This was the most reasonable buy in the box and I absolutely LOVED it. Josh liked it in concept, but wasn't crazy about the fit. For $40, I tried to get him to keep it around, but it was a no-go for him. The photo doesn't do it justice -- it was a perfect cornflower blue!
  9. Tournament Crew Sweater, Life After Denim, $98 -- Neither of us were impressed with this one. It was a very simple crew neck sweater and neither of us felt like it was worth the money. There wasn't anything wrong with it, it just didn't wow us.
  10. Shawl Collar Cardigan, Ben Sherman, $179 - I loved this sweater in theory. Josh can definitely rock a shawl collar, but something was off with the fit on this one. Everything else in the box was snug, but I felt like this was too frumpy and lazy looking on him. Maybe in a smaller size, we would have considered it, but a $200 sweater right before spring seemed silly.
  11. Fit #3 Five Pocket Chino, Rag & Bone, $195 -- I liked these pants, but I'm not sure they would have gotten enough wear to justify them. They fit great and I liked the color, they just aren't in our price range.
  12. Normandie Japanese Twill Pant, Paige Denim, $179 -- These are THE pants. I've already told you how much we loved these, but he wasn't willing to spend that much money on them. I'll tell you that I've already found them on-line and I'm hoping to swipe them up once they go on sale. The length needed to be altered, but the color and fabric were on point!
  13. Impala Jeans, Fidelity, $179 -- These jeans were amazing. He said they were the best pair he had ever tried on, but again with the price tag. I just couldn't convince him that $179 was a decent price to invest on jeans. If he hadn't kept the anchor print shirt, maybe, but he was looking to spend less than $200 total this go around.
Well, what do you think? Is there anything you would have done differently? Hate the anchors and love the plaid? Do tell. And you can click here to go read what Josh had to say!

Friday, March 20, 2015

THE TALK

I've debated for weeks whether or not to share this story and after some encouragement from Josh, I decided it was a go. My reasons for sharing are three-fold: 
  1. It's a great story and I'm hoping you'll find it as funny as we did.
  2. I want to remember it for all time, not just that it happened, but the details that made it so funny.
  3. If you are out there reading, wondering how you'll handle this conversation at some point in the (hopefully) distant future, you can know that although we stumbled our way through it, we survived.
I've often wondered how I would approach THE TALK with my children -- when it would occur, who would bring it up, how I would navigate tricky questions when the world so clearly teaches them the opposite of everything I want them to know. I tried to think back on my childhood and when I had that same talk with my mom and it isn't clear. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but I also remember all sorts of information that I gathered from television and from friends in the bathroom at school and in books and I wish those weren't the loudest voices on the topic. I read an article several years ago about eight being the optimal age to talk about sex and I literally laughed out loud. "Why in the world would you have that conversation so soon!?", I said to myself. Little did I know I would be forced into doing that very thing and find out that mother was absolutely, one hundred percent correct.

It's been several weeks now, so I can finally recall the story without turning red in the face or stuttering over my speech, but that first few days post-conversation was hard. I was in a constant state of discomfort and every time I looked at Josh we started giggling. I was driving home from school on a random Tuesday afternoon when my mom called. She told me that I needed to brace myself because Ella had some big questions for me when I got home. She was distraught about some things that "absolutely could NOT be true" and needed her mom to confirm that her worst fears weren't reality. I texted Josh (who was at baseball practice) and he asked me to please wait until he got home to talk with her. I fully expected a typical, fatherly "Good luck with that!" and I know that I am blessed beyond measure that he was not only willing to be a part of the conversation, but that he wanted to lead it.

Fortunately, she had calmed down quite a bit when I got home and she didn't immediately bring it up. I was honestly hoping for a one-day reprieve so that Josh and I could formulate a plan before we sat down with her. She was just stepping out of the shower when she called for me. I cracked the door and she looked at me with the most serious of faces and said, "We need to talk." She told me that she heard some things at school about S-E-X (I later told her that it wasn't a bad word and she didn't have to spell it). She was sure these things couldn't be true, but she really needed to talk with me about it. She went from serious to hysterical and was laughing so hard that I could barely look at her without joining in. Josh and I managed a quick head to head while we were cooking dinner and I felt as prepared as I could be when we called her into our room later that night.

It turns out that someone in her reading group overheard someone else in their class use the word sex. That child didn't know what the word meant either, but a third party volunteered to give them all the details. She told us that her classmate said, "it means the mommy and daddy take off all their clothes, and lay on top of each other and the mommy puts her hands on the daddy's butt and the daddy puts his hands on the mommy's boobs and they kiss each other." She immediately followed that up with, "PLEASE TELL ME THAT IS NOT TRUE! TELL ME YOU DO NOT DO THAT!" {insert all the wide-eyed, laughing, shock-faced emojis here} Let me say that my kids are well-versed in the language of affection. We are very respectful of our children's age, but it is also very important to me that they see a healthy marital relationship from a very early age. We do kiss and hug in front of them. We do talk to them about how we have a relationship with each other and that it's the most important relationship in our home. We spend lots of one on one time together and limit the amount of time they are allowed to spend in our room after 8 o'clock. We snuggle and cuddle them and tell them we love them and are generally as affectionate as they want to be. But the thought of us doing these things together HORRIFIED her. I don't know how I expected the conversation to start, but that wasn't it. I sat wide-eyed, staring at my husband until he said, "Yes, we do that. Now, get me a piece of paper and a pen."

Y'all, I was sure he was about to draw some sort of embarrassing diagram and I was sweating bullets. Instead, he began talking about how babies grow inside their mother's tummy. He talked about how the cell divides and divides and divides until there is a big baby ready for this world. At that moment, I could not have loved him more. He continued drawing cells and babies and eventually asked her if she knew how that baby got into a woman's tummy. He talked to her about how when we bake in the kitchen that we have to have ingredients and without all the right ingredients, our cake won't taste good. He told her that babies needed two ingredients and that the mommy had one and the daddy had one. Of course, that begs the question of how those ingredients get together, so this is where the story gets good. She looked back and forth between us and just stared. Josh and I had already discussed that we would only answer the questions she asked us and that we would give her age-appropriate answers and wouldn't go into too much detail unless she pressed us. I didn't want to give her "baby answers", but I was hoping that at some point she would have gathered enough information to satisfy her curiosity and we could all move on. Notsomuch.

Josh explained that God made mommies and daddies in a special way that they fit together to make a baby. She, of course, followed that up with questions about how EXACTLY that worked. I explained that we were sort of like a puzzle piece - designed in just the right way to fit together. That wasn't exact enough for her. Eventually, he asked her to think about how girl and boy bodies were different and it was like you could see the light bulb go off in her head. Her head swiveled back and forth between our faces and she asked if she could just have a few minutes. She put her face in her hands and just giggled until she got herself back under control. We ended up talking about all sorts of related topics and her questions got funnier and funnier.

The hardest part of the whole conversation might have been knowing when to stop answering questions and when the information we armed her with was enough. For all his faults and humor and down-right inappropriateness sometimes, I married a good one. He handled all of this so well and seemed to know exactly what to say at any given moment to make her comfortable in this situation. One of my favorite parts of their chat went something like this:

J: How many things about this world do you know more than Sophie?
E: A lot.
J: How many things about this world do you think we know more than you?
E: A lot.
J: Well, some of those things aren't for an 8 year old to learn, but are for a 10 year old or a 13 year old or a 20 year old.

We had to explain that although we would answer every question truthfully, that at some point the answer might be "you aren't old enough for any more details right now" and she would need to trust us and know that we would give her more details when the time was right. Ultimately, she began asking questions about frequency and positions and we explained that none of that information was relevant to the actual making of a baby and we would save those questions for a later day.

After we stopped laughing, we decided that we were strangely relieved. As weird as it is to think about having that conversation with her so young, I can also breath a sigh of relief that it's done. I know it will be an ongoing topic, but we've laid all of the groundwork for future questions. I can't help but feel a little more prepared now and I think I'll handle subsequent conversations with more grace and less fear. We did talk to her and explain that this part of a relationship was for married adults to enjoy -- this wasn't anything she needed to worry about any time soon. We talked about it being awkward and weird and unknown because of her age, but as an adult, with the person God had picked out for her, it wouldn't seem quite so strange. We talked about how she was going to hear things at school that didn't quite make sense or that were confusing and that we always wanted her to come to us with those questions. We explained that her classmates might be mistaken or that they might be confused and we always wanted an opportunity for her to know the truth. We approached it like a big, exciting secret. We advised her not to share with her sister or her friends, that parents need to be able to determine when their children are old enough to understand. I think she appreciated being treated like she was an adult, like she was let in on something big. Once she was satisfied with our answers, she got up to leave our room, but not without a parting shot. She looked over her shoulder and said, "You better lock the door when you do that!"​

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chattanooga Bound

The first competition of the year is always the hardest, but this year it was also an enormous amount of fun. The girls were dancing in Chattanooga and since Josh had a double-header on Saturday, my mom decided to ride with us so that I could take Sophie. The thought of managing her backstage while I worked to get Ella ready was a little more than terrifying.

We left on Saturday morning and made the three hour drive, arriving just before lunch. We had time to get checked in and walk to lunch at Panera (three cheers from my girls and a bearclaw for mama) before we had to get dressed. The girls have to wear their hair in a sock-bun for both dances this year, which means Ella's bun is crazy out of control. Not only is it almost down to her waist, but it's crazy thick and wavy and it isn't easy to tame!

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Their jazz costumes are mime-inspired and they dance to Queen's "Body Language". I'm not kidding you when I say this is one of my favorite costumes to date - even after six years. They were easy to manage backstage, super comfortable for the dancers and adorable on. We used eyeliner to draw on mime faces and we were ready to go!

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Ella asked to bring her Instax camera at the last minute and I'm so glad she did. We only took this one photo, but she loves it and I'm going to have it framed for her room. Of course, I had to ask her pose with the camera, too!

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She also grabbed the selfie stick on the way out the door and these girls had a BLAST playing with it backstage. The other studios kept asking us about it and I know of a few girls who might be getting one in their Easter baskets. The number of selfies on my phone after the weekend was a little ridiculous.

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Wanna see?

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After their jazz routine, we had about 17 minutes to wash their faces, reapply stage makeup, move their bun to the top of their head, change shoes and costumes and feed as many grapes and strawberries into their mouths as possible. What that means is, I got virtually zero photos of them in the yellow raincoats.

They were the last number on stage before awards, so they didn't have time to get their practice uniforms back on before they were called on stage again. They got High-Gold and first in their category for both dances, but didn't place overall. I thought they were amazing (of course), but Ella was a little bummed that they didn't get a trophy. The first competition of the season is always hard and I have a feeling they will make leaps and bounds in the next three weeks, before they get to do it all over again.

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After we got back to the hotel, a group of moms took about ten of the dancers on a walk to a local restaurant for dinner. We might have had an almost two hour wait, but the selfie stick and a nearby cupcake shop kept them plenty busy in the meantime. They might even have convinced some restaurant patrons that they were the girls on the reality TV show "Dance Moms"

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On Sunday, we got up bright and early for breakfast, followed up with a few hours in the pool with some of our favorite girls. This little Taz right here was so thrilled to be included and Ella's friends took such good care of her the entire weekend. She felt like a part of the team and only got teary eyed about getting left out of a photo once or twice.

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Since we were already in a fabulous city (I seriously told Josh if we ever had to move away that Chattanooga would be near the top of my list!), mom and I decided to take the girls to the Tennessee Aquarium on Sunday before we headed back home. Ella had been once a few years ago, but she was excited to go back and experience it all again with Sophie.

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The butterfly house was super cool, even though right after this Sophie said it tickled her and threw it on the ground?! Thankfully, no butterflies were harmed in the making of this blog post.

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The jellyfish room was my favorite spot of the entire day and I'm so glad I snapped this picture of the girls. They stood here mesmerized for the longest time.

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Of course, you can't leave a museum without a pressed penny, so Sophie grabbed one on our way out the door. We ate at the aquarium food court which was very food-truck-esque and the nachos were pretty fabulous. The girls weren't quite ready to make the drive home, so we let them run around the park and walk down to the river while we waited.

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It was the most beautiful day and the weather was amazing! We weren't sure what to do with sunshine and 75* after so many consecutive cold and rainy days. We were not ready to come home from our little getaway, but even the drive was nice. Gran and I devoured a insane number of chocolate chip cookies, answered one billion questions, planned Sophie's birthday party and solved all of the world's problems. I rarely get uninterrupted conversation time with my mom, so it was much appreciated. Now it's time for a nap and a quick recovery before we do it all over again in a few more weeks!

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Monday, March 16, 2015

My FAVORITE Bible Journaling Supplies

Some of the most asked questions on my Bible Journaling posts are "Where did you get your Bible?", "What supplies are you using?" and "How did you make it look like that!?" I've been working on a supply list for some time, but I decided the best possible way to share these things with you was with yet ANOTHER vlog. Aren't you excited? I'm sharing my favorite pens, pencils, markers and other supplies in the video, along with how I use them most. If you aren't into torturing yourself (for SEVENTEEN minutes) while I say "um" and "so" a lot and randomly bounce my hands in the air, you can scroll down below and click the images for the supplies I talk about in the video (or the most similar products currently available). But I'm warning you... you'll be missing out on a pretty cute time lapse video!


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I am really enjoying this video thing, even though it still needs major work and I need to invest in a real tripod. If you could only see my phone mounted on the selfie stick, mounted on the laundry basket, sitting on the dining room table. The level of professionalism around here is staggering. I'm hoping to share a video (or two) each month with some tutorials or process videos -- is there anything specific you'd like to see?!

This post will forever be linked in the sidebar (see that nifty little button up there?), so that it's easy to find in the future! Happy journaling, friends.

This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on the images above will result in a small percentage on the sale of these items. All proceeds from these purchases help keep Taz + Belly up and running. I'm sending out a HUGE thank you for all of your support! The Bible I've linked above appears to be currently out of stock. You can click \\ HERE // to view other Journaling Bibles currently available on Amazon's website. Another great option can be found \\ HERE // and is available to ship within a few days! This one is slightly smaller, but is BEAUTIFUL in person.