{Mommy Journal} Tips For 1 Bedroom Apartment Living

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Today I thought I would share a few things we have learned about sharing a one bedroom apartment space with a new baby. It’s actually quite manageable and has a lot to do with mindset. Therefore, my first point is…

1. Recognize that you will give up your ideal tidy living room/bedroom scenario and turn every room into a bit of nursery.

DSC_0349-001At first it was really frustrating having so much baby stuff everywhere with nowhere to store it away when it wasn’t being used. But now when I look at the activity mat, baby swing, car seat, diaper bag, and boppy that dwell in our small apartment living room 24/7 and get in the way of our book case and TV, they don’t look like a mess anymore, they look like they belong. Because they do, and that’s just how it is.

2. Use a travel sleeper until the baby outgrows it. DSC_0340-001

We didn’t think of this until Caleb was about 8 weeks old, and it made such a difference! Previously we’d been taking the pack n play up and down and moving it back and forth between the bedroom and living room, or ended up having him sleep in our room at night to avoid the hassle. (But then we didn’t sleep as well.) Now, put Caleb down in his little sleeper in our room and when we are ready to go to bed, we lift the whole thing and move it out to the living room without disturbing him. He also takes his naps in our room, and we can take the sleeper other places, which has been great for naps when we are out. I highly recommend this!

3. Get a changing table that doubles as a dresser for storage. 

DSC_0337-001I love our changing table, which we found on Craigslist. I use the three baskets for onesies, bath towels and cloths, and accessories (shoes, socks, and hats.) The two drawers hold all his current sizes. (The basket on the ground has bibs and burp rags.) Don’t waste space on a changing table without drawers, you really can’t afford to in a small apartment. The ones with open shelves won’t work nearly as well for keeping folded clothes organized.

4. Get creative in where you keep your other stuff to make room for the baby stuff.DSC_0342-001

For example, I wouldn’t normally want a big all-in-one printer in our bedroom, but using the top of one of my dressers frees up space elsewhere for baby equipment.

5. Pick a corner or wall in one room to treat as a nursery. 

You shouldn’t have to give up all the fun of decorating for baby just because he doesn’t have his own room. We had fun making the wall above the changing table the “nursery area”. We even squeezed a glider rocker into our bedroom, and when my sister-in-law gave us an adorable handmade pillow, our nursery corner was officially complete.

6. Consider storing some things in the trunk or back seat of your car.

DSC_0343-001Our stroller stays in the hatchback exclusively, and I usually keep the Ergo carrier in the car as well. I also have an old “spare” pack n play that we plan to use when Caleb outgrows his , and we store that in the trunk of our other car.

To Make You More Like Christ

DSC_0603It was 11 PM and I was in bed but far from asleep.

I had just finished complaining to Andrew about some apartment management frustration and worries over how the following day would go in terms of coordinating my responsibilities with Caleb’s schedule.

After about five minutes of silence, I blurted out, “I’m really mad and it’s making me mad that I’m mad!” (Two-year-old reasoning, anyone?)

We talked some more and I said, “But why do these things always happen on the days when you’re gone?”

Andrew’s answer: “To make you more like Christ.”

Ouch. I knew he was right, and as I sat there trying to surrender my heart to God’s sovereign provision of irritating circumstances, I replied in a humorous tone, “Congratulations. You’ve successfully shut me up.”

We have a running joke about one time when I was upset about another situation and Andrew gave me wise advice. My response in the moment had been, “I don’t need to be Biblical counseled right now, I just need you to listen!” (Excuse the poor grammar. I know the nerds out there are dying to add an “ly” to the end of “Biblical”.) Now, when these sorts of conversations start, Andrew likes to mimic me in an annoying, squeaky voice, “I don’t need to be biblical counseled!” I don’t know about you, but in our experience, humor is often a great way to diffuse tension.

But I digress.

Andrew’s answer was spot on, and I knew it.

This small frustration was just one of many tools that God uses to refine me and transform me more and more into His image. As Andrew also pointed out, I could either have a bad attitude about it, or I could choose to let it drive me to the cross and make me more like Christ. Either way, I wasn’t getting out of it, so I might as well grow through it!

Are you dealing with something difficult, big or small, today? God wants to use that situation to make you more like His Son. Don’t waste that opportunity. Don’t fight God’s hand.

{Marriage Journal} Why Can’t He Just Remember?

Towel_Rack_1This morning, Caleb was napping and I was working on apartment management items, when Andrew called to me from the other room, “Hey Hon, could you grab me a towel?”

I sighed as I set my laptop aside and got up to retrieve the item that I seemed to deliver quite often. Why can’t he just remember to grab a towel before he gets in the shower? I grumbled in my head.

The thought was barely finished when I realized how many dozens of times I’ve sat down to nurse Caleb and then realized I forgot to pour myself a tall glass of water first. (I am always parched during feedings!) “Hey Babe, could you bring me some water?” Andrew never complains that I don’t prepare better for nursing sessions.

It’s funny how easy it is to notice my husband’s quirks and minor shortcomings without ever stopping to look at my own. If we both picked at each little mistake or got annoyed every time the other’s forgetfulness made a little extra work for us, we’d be at each other constantly. This is everyday life together. This is being married. It means smiling when Andrew forgets the towel or I forget the water. It means laughing when I pick up the dirty laundry that ended up exactly next to the hamper instead of inside it. It means Andrew kissing me on the cheek when he discovers that his earbuds have grown legs and wound up in my nightstand. Sometimes it is in a million of these tiny decisions that a happy or frustrating marriage is made. (There are plenty of bigger factors, too…but small things often become the big things!)

Next time I hear the Towel Summons, I hope I smile instead of grumbling. I hope I say something sweet as I toss it to him. I hope I thank God that He gave me a husband.

And hey–I should be grateful to be married to a guy who showers! ;)

Photo taken from imgkid.com.

Loving Sacrificially as Jesus Loved Us

loveOn Monday night I shared this simple little devotional at our monthly Bible study Ladies Night. Posting it was easier than writing something new…so here ya go. =) 

Tonight I want to share a few thoughts about one aspect of Biblical love. In John 13:34 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Since Jesus commands us to love each other just as He loves us, I started thinking about what that looks like. One of the most obvious aspects of His love for us is that it is a sacrificial love.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus loved us so much that He sacrificed more than we could ever imagine for us. He left His home in Heaven, where everything was perfect. There was no sin, no sadness, no broken relationships, no suffering, no misery, no sickness, no hunger and thirst, and no pain. He came to earth and was born into a modest family in a stable. He went from the glory of Heaven, where everyone recognized Him as the King that He is, to growing up surrounded by sinners, most of whom did not know He was God, or refused to believe. He experienced 40 days of hunger and thirst, He fought temptation, and He spent His time ministering to unlovely, sick, disgraced, and poor people. He invested years of love into a man who betrayed Him for money. And finally, He suffered unbelievable physical pain and the emotional torment of separation from His Father, ultimately giving up His very life, all so that we could be reconciled to God and have our sins forgiven. He sacrificed in all these ways so that we could be saved.

“He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)

In Jesus, we have an example of the kind of love we are called to show to one another.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn 3:16-18)

The world tries to tell us that love is about romance and feelings. Even worse, our culture emphasizes the importance of loving ourselves and seeking our own happiness. Relationships according to the world are about what makes us feel good.

But the kind of love that Jesus calls us to is a sacrificial love that puts others’ needs and interests above our own.

Think about one of the relationships in your life. Perhaps someone hard to love, or someone you interact with regularly like your husband, parent, sibling, roommate, or friend. Take a moment to evaluate your love toward that person. Do you show more or less love to them depending on what they can do for you or how they make you feel? Does your behavior toward them change depending on theirs? Are you characterized by willingly and joyfully making sacrifices for them with no expectation of thanks or acknowledgement in return? Are you motivated to love because of what you will receive back?

I was asking myself these questions about my marriage it hit me that often the “sacrifices” I make for Andrew are done with unspoken stipulations. For example, I will be joyful in my sacrifice provided he acknowledges what I have done. If I do not receive thanks in return, I may pout and wonder why I bothered going out of my way for him. Because my husband is a thankful guy, I do not often have a chance to practice sacrificing for him without acknowledgement, but I think often I just subconsciously expect and feel like I deserve his praise.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love “it does not seek its own”.

If I am sacrificing in order to enjoy the praise or thanks of another, or to get some favor in return, or because it makes me look good of feel good about myself, it is not truly sacrificing at all. It is doing something with my best in mind, not that of the other person. That is not the love with which Jesus loves us. 

John Piper writes, “The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving. That’s what God did. At the loss of His Son’s life to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift – the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” 

It’s so easy to go through life with an entitlement mindset. It does not come naturally to us to love others sacrificially without thought for our own well being. But this sacrificial love is what we see modeled in our Savior, and it is the kind of love we are to practice.

Ironically, when we unselfishly sacrifice for others with Jesus’ love and in His strength, we are rewarded with the pleasure that comes from obeying and serving God. The satisfaction we might find in receiving praise or acknowledgement from people is fleeting. But there is lasting joy in pleasing the Lord!

This week, meditate on the sacrificial love that Jesus has shown to you. Thank Him for loving you with no consideration of what you could give back to Him, and ask Him to enable you to show that kind of love to the people in your life.

Image taken from fortalezadoguincho.com. 

{Mommy Journal} My 10-Week-Old Love Bug


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Caleb turned 10 weeks old on Saturday! He weighed 14.5 pounds at his appointment last Wednesday. No wonder we both groan when we have to lug his carseat around! He’s a happy little chunk.

Caleb is my little buddy. We do almost everything together. Now that I’m feeling fully recovered from labor, I’m up for going out with him and having “adventures”. We like running errands, such as making returns, going to the post office, or getting odds and ends at Target or Costco. Sometimes I use his Ergo carrier, other times I put his carseat into the stroller and we go cruisin’.

IMG_0157It’s a lot of work loading and unloading Caleb, and we usually have to stop and nurse in the car somewhere before we are done with the trip, but it is a fun way to spend the morning or afternoon. I’m trying to switch gears from thinking about how quickly I accomplished these things “before”. There is no “before”, we are in “now” and slow trips are the new normal. Caleb is always happy in the Ergo and usually falls asleep after he’s spent some time taking everything in, wide-eyed. He’s not loving his carseat these days, but in the stroller we can look at each other and chat while we walk, and he stays content.IMG_0133

Caleb loves his gym activity mat from Uncle Jeff and Aunt Glee, especially if I play classical music while he uses it. And he enjoys the wonderful infant swing we are borrowing.

We’re just starting out with his jumper from Popsie and Nannie, which I can tell is going to be a big hit as he gets a little bigger. I’m awaiting a Bumbo-like floor seat (one with bigger thigh openings for my chunky monkey). I think he will really like sitting up in that and watching me work around the apartment.

IMG_0156Caleb still enjoys bath time (although it is usually quite a serious matter) and he loves to talk and interact with Andrew and me. Every time he breaks into his big grin it melts my heart, especially when he pushes his tongue in and out of his smiling little mouth while he coos and grunts.

Caleb has had a few 7-8 hour stretches at night so we are moving toward a full night of uninterrupted sleep for me. I am excited for this transition but also sad to be saying goodbye to the middle-of-the-night feedings. They were a special time to bond with Monkey and I will never have them back.

10393678_10153089505713109_8869462410456753733_nThanks to a Wunderlist reminder on my phone, I am endeavoring to pray for Caleb, specifically his salvation, at least once every day. It is humbling to know that his little soul rests in our Savior’s hands. I am excited to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with him as he gets a older and can begin to comprehend these precious truths.

Being a mom to Caleb Mark is an absolute joy that I am so grateful for!

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{Homemaking Journal} Favorite New GF Dinner Recipes

I am loving this new season of life, with the bulk of my time and energy being devoted to home life! Andrew and I are still apartment managers, but because we currently have no vacancies, that job is only requiring a few hours a week on average. I am also back to reading books and writing reviews four hours a week, another fun job that I can cater to my schedule. With this new schedule, I have enjoyed getting to put more energy into cooking and trying new recipes! Here are a few recent favorites, all gluten free. My disclaimer is that I rarely follow a recipe and often toss instead of measure. Also, I add minced garlic or garlic powder to nearly everything I cook. =)

Honey Balsamic Meatballs – I love that these meatballs use cooked quinoa instead of bread crumbs. They were really easy to make and tasted great with brown rice.

image1Kale Caesar Salad With Crispy Garbanzo Bean Croutons – A friend made this at a recent baby shower and I couldn’t wait to try it myself. The homemade dressing is to die for! Making the “croutons” is a bit time intensive. I might opt to skip them next time, although they do add a lovely crunch.

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken – Sadly, another delicious recipe that has sugar. But it can’t kill you once in awhile, can it? I’d actually like to try subbing honey and see what happens. This is in the oven right now…Andrew immediately requested a repeat when we enjoyed it last week.

IMG_4669Southwest Salad – I recently learned that this kind of salad is one of Andrew’s favorites. I cheated and started with store-bought Ranch dressing, then threw in chili powder, cayenne, etc. And I used corn chips from Trader Joe’s instead of making my own.

Chuck Roast With Balsamic and Dijon – Except I didn’t use dijon, I used regular mustard, as I always do. This was delicious.

Tasty Chicken Hot Pot – This came out a little bland, but was better after some Frank’s hot sauce. I’m still saving it because it’s fast, simple, and doesn’t require unusual ingredients. We ate it over brown rice.