-  five days into the new year, i miscarried for the second time. my heart was broken, but i felt the comfort of the Lord so much on that saturday morning. i was five weeks along.

-  i discovered leslie coffee co + have frequented this coffee shop almost every week since.

-  i was featured on wichita life ICT.

-  jared + i took a short overnight trip to OKC. we drank lots of coffee + visited TJs for the first time.

-  jared + i celebrated four years of marriage.

-  in mid april, i miscarried for the third time in eighteen months. i was 10 weeks along. it was the hardest. the lowest. the most heart broken i've ever been. my faith was shaken to the core. it took months for me to start healing. as i surveyed my life after our third miscarriage, it was scorched earth. every part of my life was different. but . . . in a good way. for the first time in too long, i realized i had been living with surface-level faith.

-  we bought our home!

-  jared built a beautiful pergola.

-  i visited my family in oklahoma on memorial weekend. i learned a very, very valuable lesson: never, ever drive in a severe thunderstorm. ever, ever.

-  we celebrated jackson's second birthday!

-  i created a fun instagram called wichita collective to highlight my city.

-  i turned thirty-three.

-  i found my doc martens from twenty years ago!

-  we took a trip to branson. it was my first time + we had a blast.

-  two words: TRADER JOE'S.

-  we bought a camper!

-  i chopped off 6+ inches of hair.

-  this was the year i discovered the delight that is veronica mars. i binged all the seasons, the movie, the books, + the hulu series. i'm a firm believer that books/movies/tv shows somehow find us at the right moment sometimes, and this was definitely one of them.

-  one of my favorite memories from this year will be sitting down at applebee's to eat dinner and realizing we were in the wrong restaurant AFTER we got our menus.

-  i read 15 books! here is a recap of each book.

BEST ADVENTURE/TRAVEL/TRIP:  our weekend trip to branson. we went with my sister-in-law + her family, and it was my first time visiting. i think the best part was the last-minute decision to take jackson with us. [no joke- thirty minutes before we were slated to leave, i told jared that i was having doubts about leaving him behind + jared agreed.] we had so much fun!

BEST BOOK:  recursion by blake crouch. that book took me on A RIDE. [a couple of honorable mentions would definitely be the mother-in-law + ask again, yes.]

BEST MOVIE:  avengers: end game. so epic.

BEST ALBUM OR SONG:  fill this place by red rocks worship (song) + basically anything by elevation worship.

BEST PODCAST:  it is absolutely impossible for me to pick just one. i listen to multiple podcasts weekly, but if i had  to choose one, i'd choose these five, LOL: what should i read next?, the popcast, coffee + crumbstoday by the way, + crime junkie. (i also liked the dropout, but it was a short series as opposed to a weekly show.)

BEST FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM:  phylicia masonheimer. she has taught me so much about discernment, theology, faith, + knowing what you believe. she calls out teachings that don't line up with scripture in a way that is concise + backed with biblical truth.

BEST DATE:  in mid-december, jared + i ate at bella luna. we both ordered the chicken schwarma, and it was so good. we had uninterrupted conversation + laughed. it was so wonderful. and then we shopped at target afterwards for all of jackson's christmas presents. we sipped coffee + strolled through each aisle + i loved every minute.

BEST KIDDO MILESTONE:  jackson's vocabulary has exploded. we started the year with all the basic words- mama, dada, etc. and now, we have full conversations with him. it simultaneously blows my mind + makes me want to cry. my baby boy is becoming a big boy, and i always say that he's teaching me just as much as i'm teaching him.

BEST FAITH GROWER:  having a third miscarriage. we all have moments in our lives that we can point to as pivotal moments, and that was one of mine. i am not the same person i was before april 18th, 2019. and i can confidently say because of the Lord + Him alone, it's a good thing. it's a God thing. as i surveyed my life after that day, it was like looking at scorched earth. but He came in + made it new. and He's continuing to do so. i still have questions + doubts + hurts, but i know i can take it all to Him. nothing is too much for Him.

BEST TREND YOU TRIED:  impress press-on nails. i can have a chip-free manicure for a week!

BEST BEAUTY PURCHASE:  this dry shampoo.

BEST FAMILY MEMORY:  halloween night + jackson's first camping trip in our new camper + our family coffee dates

BEST HABIT YOU CREATED:  posting a recap of my week on the blog. i started on my birthday week + have been consistent, minus a couple weeks. it's fun to have these moments in a space for me to reflect back on.

FAVORITE BLOG POST WRITTEN:  the scars we carry. i have been open about my struggles with jackson's birth, and this post shows how the Lord can heal even our deepest wounds.

BEST NEW RECIPE:  sweet potatoes with bbq chicken.

BEST LIFE OR MOM HACK:  grocery pick up. whoever had the idea should win a nobel peace prize.

BEST MAMA MOMENT:  there are too many to list. when he reaches up to hold my hand. his excitement when we go to the "toppee top" (coffee shop). halloween. and then there was the day in early spring when jackson had a very high fever + spent most of the day curled up on me. i never, ever want him to be sick, but he slept all day on my chest + i watched tv + sipped coffee + it was nice.

BEST HOME IMPROVEMENT:  jared built this beautiful pergola + we have made so many memories.

BEST LITTLE LUXURY YOU'VE ENJOYED:  slow saturday mornings. i'm probably supposed to say a face mask or chocolate, but honestly- having a time to just relax with zero plans is good for my soul. jackson usually sleeps in + then i sip coffee while he plays for awhile. i will write or start some laundry or just chill.

this idea came from em for marvelous. i thought it was a fun way to highlight some of my favorite things from 2019. 
also- there are affiliate links throughout the post. no cost to you; just pennies in my pocket. [that takes me years to accumulate. LOL.]

 b l o o m s

 c o f f e e

 j a c k s o n

 f a m i l y

 s e l f i e s

p o l a r o i d s

r a n d o m s 

there are affiliate links in this post. no cost to you, and basically just pennies to me.

-  THE WONDERING YEARS - know mccoy

i have listened to knox + jamie's podcast - the popcast - for two years. i enjoyed this book a lot. i have always been interested in pop culture. knox has the perfect brand of humor. this isn't a typical "christian book". you won't find christianese or quippy phrases to slap on a t-shirt. he thoughtfully explores the intersection of faith + pop culture.


hmm. another books about a drunk woman who suffered some sort of trauma. this book was okay. it kept my interest enough that i finished it. and that's all i really have to say about it.

-  HE SAID/SHE SAID - erin kelly

this book made me so angry. i was hooked until about 80% of the way through. and then. THEN. a "plot twist" happened, and gahhhhhhhhh. i was borderline livid. (i know this is fiction, but it unnerved me so much.) i finished this book, set my kindle down, and breathed out a frustrated sigh. the way it ended made me dislike the book so much. UGH. just... ugh. i thought about this book for months + months after i finished it. i came to this conclusion: i didn't hate the book, just the decisions that one of the characters made in the book.


i saw someone talking about judy blume on one of the socials. i had never read one of her books, so i chose this one. it was fine. i probably read it way too late in life to really appreciate it.

-  THE MAGIC OF MOTHERHOOD - ashlee gadd

this book made me cry the most out of all the books i read this year. in case the title didn't give it away, this is a book of motherhood essays that are thoughtful + beautiful + heartbreaking in the best way.

-  STATION ELEVEN - emily st. john mandel

this book has been everywhere, on every list. and i get why. it was so good. the writing, AH. emily is gifted, + i'm delighted i get to read her books.

-  EDUCATED - tara westover

this book is bananas. it reads like fiction, but it's a recollection of tara's life growing up in a survivalist home. quite frankly, there are parts of the story i find hard to believe. BUT i think it's because the stories she recounts are just insane. her parents didn't trust the government or the education system or doctors or hardly anyone but themselves. it was wild.


this was a popular release this year, and i have an unpopular opinion. i did not like the ending. it took me months to figure out why. i came to this conclusion:  i need more details on the OMG moment at the end of the book. i don't want to give spoilers, so i'll just leave it there. the rest of the story was really good, but i think if i had a detailed account of that moment (not the why- i get that part) then i could form a concrete opinion.

-  THE MOTHER-IN-LAW - sally hepworth

this book surprised me. it was on anne bogel's summer reading guide, so of course i added it to my TBR list. this book so brilliantly encompasses the complexities of how we perceive the world around us, especially with those we interact with. this book still makes me think, even six months later. it also made me really grateful for such a welcoming mother-in-law.

-  ASK AGAIN, YES - mary beth keane

this was another good one! the characters were delightful. the family dynamics were so well written. i kept turning the pages + staying up late for "just one more chapter".

-  RECURSION - blake crouch

DANG. best book of 2019, for sure. i am so amazed that someone can come up with a story so unique, so compelling, + so complex.

-  THE THOUSAND-DOLLAR TAN LINE (veronica mars #1) - rob thomas

this was the year i fell in love with veronica mars. first i binged the tv show, then the movie, the hulu series, and then the books. eeeekk, this series is so, so good. her wit + sass are my favorite. i wish they would write more books or another season or something.

- MR. KISS AND TELL (veronica mars #2) - rob thomas

i have nothing but good things to say about this book as well. if you love veronica mars, you will like the books. period.

-  THE LAST TIME I LIED - riley sager

this was another good thriller. kept me turning the pages + guessing until the end. i really liked the twist!


my goal for this year was 12 books. i exclusively read on my kindle paperwhite. i used to scoff at e-readers, and then i became a mom. these days, reading usually happens after everyone goes to bed.

if you're interested, here is my goodreads profile. it has bookshelves for all the books i've read in recent years as well as books i want to read. i also have a bookstagram account. this is not something i keep up with or am trying to gain followers or anything of that nature. it totally stems from this great idea i had to combine two of my favorite things: books + blooms. i also wanted to show a different side of the bookstagram world. you mostly see actual, physical books that people share about, but i wanted to offer a look at the other side of the spectrum: e-books! i use my local library to check out books on my kindle, and it is so wonderful + free!

-  we started the week with snow. i usually hate it with a fierce passion, but this time was different. it made me giddy, even . . . happy. i don't know why because i had to drive in all that mess to work.

-  jared + i started a tradition this week. date night + christmas shopping for jackson + coffee. our life has been so dang busy lately. we needed a night to ourselves, and it was lovely.

-  my department at work met at red rock canyon grill for our christmas party this week. it's still crazy that i've been back at the credit union for a year now.

-  i have been working on my yearly recap post recently. normally i would list a few happenings from each month, but for this year, it's just a big list of things that happened. i also have a book recap post in the works. and now i'm trying to decide if i want to write another post similar to this 'best of' post that emily wrote?

- someone on insta mentioned vogue's what's in my bag vlog series with celebs, and i spent wayyyy too much time watching those videos this week. i didn't really care about the celebs in the videos, but it was so interesting to see what other people carry in their purses. i actually carry a backpack with my purse inside. it might seems weird, but there's a method to the madness.

-  this cat in a santa hat had me rolling with laughter.

-  i really love getting newsletters in my inbox. i'm very picky about who i will subscribe to, but here are a few of my favs:
     »  erin moon (she has a thread on each one where we can share our favorite things, and it gives me so much joy!)
     »  rachael a. dawson (she always has wonderful reccs - especially books!)
     »  indiana adams (i can't stop talking about her new podcast on the blog lately. i just love it so much!)

-  i discovered this granola at target, + i'm already on my second bag, guys. it's almost too  good.

-  finally- i just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads these posts/this blog. i really enjoy recapping each week + sharing my finds + thoughts. i have lots of new ideas i am working on for this space. (hello, makeover!) so, thank you for reading. it means so much.

-  this was a busy week. i usually write little notes on my phone throughout the day for this recap post, but when i sat down to write them out, i only had two things from the last seven days. oops. that's just par for the course this time of year. jared has also been working a crazy amount of overtime. i think he'll clock in 20 hours of OT. this week was good though. we went grocery shopping + ate chickfila + drove around to look at christmas lights + i started planning for 2020.

-  does anyone actually ever go to the grocery store only  once a week?

-  the chocolate mint perfect bar (exclusive to whole foods) is so legit.

-  we are in search of a toddler bed for jackson, and i think we are going with a race car bed.

-  i started reading the second book in the inspector gamache series.

-  the cinnamon roll latte from leslie's coffee co is so good that it almost made me cry happy tears.

-  this recap post is coming at you late because i fell asleep last night.

-  i made my first amount of income from affiliate links! [there are some throughout this post, FYI.] this means i'm an influencer now, right? negative, ghost rider. i've been a part of amazon's affiliate program for five years, and i just now hit the minimum payout amount for $10. yep, that's right. i only made $10. LOL.

-  i was slicing open an avocado, and the knife slipped. i stabbed my hand, forcefully. i am okay. no stitches were needed. but it is quite sore. i couldn't even clap my hands at church on sunday.

-  for years - decades! - i have washed my hair daily. but after i went to the salon a couple weeks ago, i wanted to start training it to only need washing a few days a week. i was skeptical, but it's actually working! last week, i only washed it twice. i use this dry shampoo from amok. [i know $25 seems like a lot, but i'm now a firm believer that washing my hair less only works if i have great dry shampoo. this is the best i've found!]

-  i started reading in the woods by tana french. i'm set to finish 16 books this year. tell me the best book you read this year!

-  my work hosted a gala this weekend + it was so fun! the theme was the roaring 20s.

-  there is a new podcast out by indiana adams called today by the way. it is so delightful + funny + laid-back.

-  we had a family date night on friday. we ate bbq + then treated ourselves to lattes at milkfloat. we walked around towne west, and it was sad to see how deserted it's become. we ended the night with a drive to look at christmas lights.


- christmas is in less than three weeks, so basically tomorrow, right?

-  i was walking down an aisle at walmart + noticed a couple teenage girls being silly + giggling. i walked their way, and the girl looked up at me and said, "oh, we need to move. she looks like she's buying classy things." LOL. guys, i was in office supply aisle. HA. i'm still laughing about it. [side note: i have been searching for pastel highlighters for awhile + finally found some at walmart. here they are on amazon.]

-  dad joke of the week: what time did the man go to the dentist? tooth hurt-y.

-  my soul sistah is having a baby, and i am overjoyed and slightly emotional. [okay- that last part is a lie. i'm never slightly emotional.] i am so grateful for the time we had before we met our husbands-  our friday nights + falls creek + her leading worship + all the long talks we had. love you, riz!

-  i chopped over six inches of hair off this week. it feels so good. i also covered up my white-trash roots, so ya girl is really feeling fabulous.

-  i ate my weight in cheesy potatoes this week + i am not regretful in the least.

-  we took jackson to see the lights at botanica, and when we told him where we were going, he said, "i'm going to bananica!"

-  how am i just now realizing how amazing sweet potatoes are? i made them last week + i could eat them every day. tell me your favorite ways to eat them.

-  i tried black friday this year, but only lasted five minutes. it just wasn't worth it.

-  i finished white collar this week. now i need something else to binge before bed.

-  i'm brainstorming ideas + goals for next year. i use a goal workbook called powersheets. it is nerdy + i love it.

-  can i have a baby yoda for christmas?

-  in case you are under the impression that i have my life together, i went to the store tonight specifically for one thing. i ended up buying all of our groceries while i was there instead of using grocery pickup. and i forgot the ONE THING we really, really needed. ughhhhhhh. that was just how today went.

-  i discovered i am famous this week. last year, i tweeted about khloe kardashian opening up regarding her experience of supplementing with formula. i may not watch their tv show, but i can respect someone with her status to be so open about a topic that can often be shameful. WELL. i was googling something and realized some news outlets ("news" lol) wrote articles about how she felt. SO I AM FAMOUS NOW. here is one article + here is another. this won't change me guys. i'm still me.

-  we bought our christmas tree this week! i totally would have already had it up on november first, but they just put out the real trees this week. there's something magical about a twinkling tree.

-  i started taking these probiotic shots every day.

-  i also made my own elderberry syrup! i bought some local elderberry concentrate and used their recipe.

-  i finished the last time i lied. totally unputdownable! i then started reading the lola quartet.

-  i made sweet potatoes topped with bbq chicken this week, and DANG - it was so good!

-  the recap is a little short this week. it was a busy one. but i am grateful. this time of year gives me all the big feelings. [who am i kidding? i get all those feelings on a random tuesday in february.] it's no secret that this year has been full of pain + heartbreak. but i am thankful that God is who He says He is.

there are affiliate links in this post. no cost to you + basically no cost to me because i've never made any money from it.

-after weeks of unsuccessfully trying to catch up, i finally decided to quit my polaroid project for 2019. many reasons kept me from giving up, but in the end- my heart just wasn't in it anymore. if i'm being transparent, i didn't want to look like a quitter. but once i made the decision, i felt so much lighter.

-  jackson now asks me to kiss his booboos, and my heart explodes every time.

-  i took a short social media break this week. it was nice to unplug for a bit. i read a lot + absentmindedly reached for my phone. i know breaks from our phones are beneficial. other people i know have used words like "refreshed" + "rejuvenated" when describing their time away from social media. i felt that a little, but what was most convicting was my average time per day. before the break: 3+ hours per day. during the break: 30 minutes per day. yikes. i think in the future, i will probably just try to limit my daily usage as opposed to taking long breaks.

-  the chocolate chip cookie dough perfect bar at TJs is so dang good.

-  i am currently going room by room + cleaning/purging/reorganizing. i came across some of my old journals, once which had a list of to-dos from the weeks after jared + i eloped. i was hit with a wave of emotion. tears formed in my eyes as i heard my boys in the next room, laughing about something. this. this right here is what i hoped for. and i have it. sometimes everyday life gets in the way, and i get caught up in all the things i need/have to do. it was a gentle reminder of what's important in life. (and that i will make a list for just about any occasion.)

-  i read everything i never told you this week, and it was just okay.

-  i am close to cashing out on my ibotta app this week! all i have to do is add the items i purchased (in the app) and then scan my receipt, and i get free money. here is an affiliate link if you're interested. (does anyone use other rebate apps? i'm all about that free money.)

-  when i turn on praise music, jackson likes to stand next to me and dance with the music. i was worshipping + i had stopped for a moment. he grabbed my arm and said, "mommy, raise hands again and close your eyes like you do." HA! i had no idea he was actually watching me.

-  i love card games + board games. this time of year is perfect for playing games, and it just gives me all the feels.

-  i have started writing my end-of-year post for 2019. it's one of my favorite posts to write.
past years in review - 2013  //  2014  //  2015  //  2016  //  2017  //  2018

-  if you pass a vehicle that is towing something behind it (like maybe a camper), and they are driving extreeeeeeeemely slow, just think to yourself that maybe it's possible that it's that driver's first time ever pulling something. maybe that person volunteered to drive because her husband was getting sleepy, and she wanted to make it home safely. but that meant pulling a camper - in the dark - for the first time in her (hypothetical) thirty years of life. (it's me. i was the driver.)

-  oh, we bought a camper! jared came home from work (hence why he was so tired on the drive back to kansas) and asked if we could go on a spontaneous road trip down to tulsa. i said i didn't want to go, but i would go anyway. (i know there's another wife out there who gets me here!) so we loaded into his truck quickly + dropped jackson off with my parents + headed to tulsa. i knew when jared said he was "looking" at campers that it meant we would be buying one soon.

-  the best thing i discovered this week was "dark mode" on the new IOS update.

-  i enjoy having a nice manicure. (one that i do myself because i am not paying $25 for something i can do myself!). but sometimes painting my nails is annoying. and then they chip a few days later. recently i have come across impress nails from a few instagram friends. i tried them out this week. well... i'm not that impressed. (see what i did there?) they are nice, don't get me wrong. but it uses adhesive instead of glue, and the nails definitely aren't solid on my actual nails. BUT i will still wear them because they're cheap + as long as i'm careful enough, they are fine. it beats the alternative though. (i have also heard about these kiss nails that use glue. i will report back with a review of them soon).

-  how is it already november?!

-  my instagram handle has been joyfulamber for eight years, but lately i really have this urge to change it.

-  one of my friends shared this meme, and it slays me. if you're thinking to yourself, "but amber- you use essential oils. you even sold them, right?" correct + correct. but after being on both sides of the spectrum, i have strong opinions. i diffuse EOs all the time. but it's everything else that goes along with an MLM that i can't get on board with. the "classes" i took for the "business" side was . . . interesting. i'm going to leave it there. mostly because my opinion about MLMs doesn't really matter. let people do what they do, i suppose.

-  also- my one of my love languages is memes, so if you send/tag me in one, we're BFFs.

-  i made this PB pumpkin bread twice this week, and it is so dang good!

there are affiliate links througout this post. it costs you nothing, and honestly i haven't made anything from it in five years. so yeah.

-  we took jackson on his first camping trip this weekend. he loved it! we sat by the fire + admired the stars, but he really wasn't interested in that. he just wanted to be IN the camper. we took a nature walk the next morning, and it was all he could talk about for an hour. we started our walk, and five minutes into it, he wanted to be held. #kids - but we all had a lot of fun + made some great memories.

-  on monday night, as i was cooking dinner + writing, we watched frozen. i'm pretty sure jared started it with zero intent of actually watching the movie. by the end of the night, he was singing the songs. it made me laugh so hard because he was so adamant about having no interest whatsoever.

-  i tried celery juice this week. and it tasted like . . . celery? i'm not quite sure what i was expecting. maybe other ingredients to make it sweet or taste not like celery. file that under "things i tried because everyone was talking about it, and it was gross".

-  i ordered the risen motherhood book this week. if it's anything like the magic of motherhood, i'll be crying on each page.

-  i have been listening to the office ladies podcast, and it is a fun listen. i am not one of those huuuuge office fans. i haven't technically finished the series. (i stopped watching after steve carrell left). but it is interesting to hear their perspectives + inside information about the show.

-  i was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and started unloading the dishwasher. jackson came in + wanted to help. at first, i was not thrilled about it, but decided to change my attitude because he needs to learn these things. i smiled as he handed me plate after plate because his excitement was adorable.

-  we took jackson to our church's trunk or treat, and he dressed at spider-man. he was quite shy, but i completely expected that. when we got home, he stripped off his costume + ate candy in his underwear. he's clearly living his best life.

i walked into the waiting room of my doctor's office last week. as i made my way to the check-in desk, a photo on a cork board caught my attention. i blinked + inched closer to the photo. the nurse was waiting for me to tell her my name, but all i said was "MY BABY!"

when jackson was a few days old, i went in for that first post-birth checkup. i remember it so vividly, as if it happened yesterday instead of over two years prior. the lack of sleep, learning to breastfeed, the struggle (mental + physical) from an unplanned, emergency c-section, the intense baby blues- all of it. i remember sitting down with the doctor, and exactly one second after he asked me how we were, i burst into tears. after talking about the insanity of those past few days, our doctor asked if he could take a photo with jackson.

and that's the photo i saw on the cork board in his waiting room. it was as if my eyes had these mother-instinctual magnets and knew exactly which baby was mine on a display of over twenty babies.

i stood there for a few seconds too long, seeing the nurse shift on her feet out of my peripheral. i snapped out of that daze-like stare and gave her my name. i recounted that moment + that day to my doctor a few minutes later, and he just laughed because i know he remembers me on that day, too.


i shared this podcast episode about body after baby from risen motherhood on my weekly recap post. i took the long way home from work one day last week and listened to that episode as the sun sat over downtown wichita. when betsy talked about how Jesus, in his His glorified body, didn't take away His scars, it was as if all the heaviness i carried since jackson' birth lifted. i felt lighter. her words were like Light to that darkness.

after i had jackson, people would comment on how great i looked. i dropped the weight faster than i expected because of my dairy-free diet. but when i looked in the mirror, all i saw was a c-section scar- a constant reminder of the shame + disappointment + sadness i carried after what felt like failing at being a woman.

i know that God is mending my heart because the other day, i was talking with someone about childbirth, and she said, "isn't it amazing how God designed our bodies to do that?" she was referring to pushing a baby out of your body. normally that sentence would have crushed me + sent me into a tear-filled tailspin for days.

but i just smiled. because God did design our bodies for childbirth, no matter how that may look. no one gets a medal for an unmedicated delivery just as a woman still gives birth via c-section.

God has used that experience in many beautiful ways. i don't know if i will ever be able to birth another baby, but i do know that my worth is in Christ alone.

-  i listened to this episode of the risen motherhood podcast, and i'm not trying to be dramatic, but it changed me. when betsy talked about how Jesus, his His glorified body, didn't get rid of His scars, the darkness that has clouded over me regarding my c-section lifted. the Light poured in, and i can see how the Lord is working in my life + my heart.

- i had the day off on monday. jackson + i spent the day together, and it was wonderful. when jared got home, we made a fire in the backyard. we all sat together on the swing + talked + watched the sunset. definitely a much needed day off.

-  what started as typing out a short instagram caption turned into a blog post about motherhood.

-  my parents + brother came up for the day on saturday, so we took them to the zoo. we all had so much fun!

-  remember back in the blogging days when people would post their monthly goals? i came across some of my old posts this week, and it made me chuckle a little.

-  jackson randomly started singing "Jesus loves me" one night, and it slayed me.

the photo on the left is from two years ago. i posted it to instagram + opened up about my struggles in motherhood.

earlier this week, jackson asked for a piggyback ride. as i walked by the bathroom mirror, i caught a glimpse of us - him holding on tight to my neck + me, laughing. it was a stark contrast to those two short years ago.

i realize that the biggest difference in then-amber and present-amber is my confidence in motherhood. more specifically, the choices i make regarding my family. as a new mom, i was bombarded with opinions + suggestions about each new milestone with my baby. i would see other moms doing things a certain way, so i thought that i had to mimic them to be a good parent. i had to lay down a lot of expectations + notions of how i thought things HAD to be.

but over time - with lots of prayer - i have come to find this quiet confidence in the choices i make. i no longer feel the need to justify every step i make. mommy bloggers + facebook moms are really, really loud about the way they raise their children. they make you question everything. i'm all for learning from different perspectives, but it becomes harmful when a certain choice is proclaimed as "the best". what's best for my child is different for the mom down the street, and THAT IS OKAY.

i really want to go on a rant about child birth, but i'll save that for another day.

looking at the photo from this week reminds me that when i give every single part of my life to the Lord, i am free. but when i bound myself up in the world's expectations of my abilities as a mother, nobody benefits except the enemy.

i'm not a perfect mother, and i don't strive to be anymore. i still struggle with certain aspects of motherhood, mostly with being a working mom. but prayer has been the mostly powerful force when those feelings start to creep in and steal my joy.

if you're a mom, just know that you're doing a good job.

-  trader joe's opened this week! i didn't plan to go until my day off on monday, but i couldn't resist driving through the parking lot after work. just as i had decided it wasn't worth it, a spot near the entrance opened up. IT WAS MEANT TO BE. it was also insanely crowded, but totally worth it!

-  i started reading the second veronica mars book.

-  the weather cooled down a lot this week, and it was so nice! fall has finally arrived. (just in time for our heater to go out, but such if the life of a home owner.)

-  i binged the blacklist this week, and now i'm looking for something new to watch.

i don't really have many musings this week. i had a semi-stressful week at work. most of the evenings were spent just hanging out at home. (except for thursday night when we went to menard's + target. we got jackson a "babyccino" and he thought it was the coolest thing. i loved our family target coffee date!) so yeah- not much to really write about. some weeks are, well... "uneventful" doesn't seem like the right word. each week - each day - has its good. i am trying to be more mindful of those moments. i feel a shift happening. i can't quite explain it, but it's a good thing. ok, i'm rambling. byeeee.

-  well kansas finally feels like fall! we had our first fire of the season with our neighbors + it as glorious.

-  i'm seriously considering buying an instant pot.

-  there is a new hunger games book (prequel) coming out. i will read it for sure because i loved the trilogy. i read those books right as they were becoming popular, and it brings back some nostalgia. i remember going to the first three movies by myself, which i did a lot before i met jared.

-  i surprised jackson with new dinosaur socks. the next morning, i asked him to put his shoes on. it was chilly outside (finally!) so i meant actual shoes. he walked in to show me he put his dinosaur socks on with sandals. i laughed about it all day.

-  i bought a book of crossword puzzles this week. for fun. ya know, as one does.

-  31 signs you were an early 2000s VSCO girl.  //  i relate to 95% of these.

-  i kinda went on a mini twitter rant about motherhood.

-  the reverie transformed into luke's diner three years ago this week. what a magical morning that was.

-  we ventured over to a little area near our house to show jackson what fishing is. he liked when jared caught the fish - he waved + said hi to each one - but he did not want to be close to them. we had fun watching daddy fish, and then we took a walk. it was a random, last-minute plan, but those are always the best kind.

-  whenever i ask for a leftover box at a restaurant, i always, always, ALWAYS forget it on the table! i did it again today, and i don't understand why i do this, but gahhhhh. i'm hopeless. (jared has learned to look at the table after i walk away. he saved the day - and my pasta.)

-  hilarie burton is out here makin' me alllllll emotional with her OTH tweet. i love that tv shows/movies/book/music can bring the strongest nostalgic feelings from specific times in our lives. i watched OTH during my early twenties, and i remember watching it while i would blog (when blogging was at its peak - before it was all about numbers + ads + selling crap) or after a breakup or just whenever. that intro song hits me riiiiiiight in my feels.

-  we took friday off and headed to branson for the weekend. it was my first time there, and i had a lot of fun! we spent saturday at silver dollar city as well. at the last minute - literally 30 minutes - we decided to take jackson with us. i can't really explain why. i just knew he would have a lot of fun, even if he won't remember it. (i was right. that kid was so happy, except for a couple of gnarly meltdowns.)

-  this article about random 2010s fads made me laugh, especially the 'crackle nail polish'. i found this old photo on my IG from 2012. man- what a trip to look back at my old photos.

-  i found a transformer in branson, so naturally i had to vacay pose with him.

-  jackson slept in our bed during the trip. i was not sure how it would work because i typically never sleep well when he sleeps with us, but it was fine. (i did wake up to find that i had somehow stolen his blanket during the night. i felt so bad and quickly covered him up. LOL. this brings me to my next musing-

-  jared + i do not share a big comforter/duvet when we sleep. i have my own blanket(s) + he has his. i am not sure if other couples are able to sleep under the same covers, but we cannot.

-  i retired #notpolethursdays this week on instagram. it was fun for a season. i had a random idea last week for a different poll series. i'm still working on a name, but it will mostly be polls about different things that give us all the feels. like last week, i asked everyone their opinions on the new 'saved by the bell' re-make. (me? no zach morris = no bueno.)

-  i finished recursion and DANG. best book of 2019!

-  i was so stressed at work earlier this week. i felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest, and i was short of breath. i was letting the stress eat away at me so much that my body was reacting. i sat back + realized what was happening. (i'm not really one to get stressed a lot, by the way) and i saw it for what it was - the enemy was trying to steal my joy. he's been doing it for so long, in the most subtle of ways. it's something i realized recently and have been praying about a lot. john 10:10 says he wants to kill + destroy me. his tactics aren't sword-like weapons, but whispers here + there. i have to hold it up to Scripture + remember the Truth.

-  i started a new bullet journal this week. [see previous bu-jo here] this is the journal i'm using because moleskine just does it right when it comes to quality.

-  i always forget that i have a FB page for this blog. here is the link if you're interested.

-  trader joe's opens in three weeks, and I AM SO EXCITED.

-  my e-book library hold came in for the first veronica mars book. i like it so far.

-  i will be making this PB pumpkin bread soon!

-  on saturday evening, we ventured down to watson park for a pre-dinner stroll. jackson had so much fun, although the train scared him a lot. the next morning, he woke up and all he could talk about was riding the train. so we went back to the park after church, and he had a blast! he was brave + it made my heart happy.

-  we also went to open streets ICT for a little bit. next time, we know to start further down douglas where more of the food trucks are.

-  i don't talk about oils very much anymore. mostly because people don't really want to hear about it. i started using oils a year ago, and while i looooove the oils themselves, the "business" side has me more like mehhhh. i tried to sell them, but it's so oversaturated that it didn't seem realistic. (there were other things that turned me off as well). i just ordered more oils this week (my OG, lavender + new-to-me, northern lights black spruce) and my mom ordered a started kit. so i'm at the point where i just wanna keep it fun.

-  i really want to try thrifting. i know some people who are so skilled at this. i need someone to teach me their ways.

-  the week back to work after vacation is roooooooough. mostly the first two days.

-  i started reading recursion by blake crouch, and OMG. this book! it's gooooood.

-  when the weather decides to not be a blazing inferno, i am going to make this harry potter pumpkin juice!

-  the duchess + mary berry are the duo we never knew we needed!

-  speaking of the royals- i follow elizabeth holmes on instagram because her posts about their fashion just makes me so happy. i'm not particularly obsessed with the royal family, but i enjoy her take on a lot of their happenings.

-  i recently started following phylicia masonheimer on IG. she has challenged me + encouraged me in my faith. mostly in the area of scripture + knowing what i believe, but also exposing myself to other viewpoints so that i can defend/discuss my side effectively. i really resonated with this post she wrote on IG this week.

-  why do all of my holds for library e-books come in all at once every. single. time?!

-  milkfloat has a butter beer cake that is LEGIT.

-  i drive by this place every morning and never knew what it was. when i saw there were a bajillion sunflowers, i knew we had to go on an adventure. so on friday night, we loaded in the car with my sister-in-law + nephew and went exploring. turns out, it's a wetlands park!

-  i was reading a post on IG where a woman was listing things about herself, and she mentioned that she's a "full-time mom". i'm sorry. are there part-time moms out there? how does one become demoted? i so wish we could change the language + stigmas + comparisons around motherhood. our moms may have dealt with this on some level, but for us- social media makes mothering so dang hard sometimes. everyone is trying to prove how great of a mother they are, and it's exhausting.

-  lest you think that i have all of my life together, i just ordered jackson's birth certificate this week. he's two. oops.

-  jared + i were on vacation this week. it was nice + relaxing. we never slept in, but we made some money from a garage sale + bought a new table + chairs for our dining room + took lots of naps. it was seriously the best to spend all week with my boys.

-  we drove down to my parents' house on monday to pick up jackson. i found my doc martens from twenty years ago. two decades. i remember driving to tulsa with my mom to buy them. she always did things like that when i was growing up. i wanted something, and she made it happen. mom, i know you're reading this. thank you. you are seriously the best.

-  yet again, i think i've mis-typed my enneagram number.

-  i watched you've got mail  for the first time ever this week. it was . . . good. i think i watched it too late to really appreciate the awesomeness of 90s chick flicks. i did  like it though.

-  my parents celebrated 38 years of marriage this week.

-  we had a date night on thursday + tried a local mediterranean restaurant. it was delish!

-  jared's 'instagram husband' skills are improving. [here is proof.]

-  i tried this dark chocolate bar from dillon's (kroger) this week, and now i'm obsessed with all things toffee.

-  i made these banana cookies this week, and they were legit.

-  our internet froze one night, and the tv stopped working. jackson said, "what happened?" and it made us laugh because he is learning + talking so much more as the days progress.

-  jackson is staying with my parents this weekend. jared + i woke up at 7am on sunday, so that means we are officially old. but we've had good rest these couple days.

-  speaking of getting older, i turned thirty-three this weekend. every single plan we tried to make failed. we had originally wanted to go on a tropical vacay, but then a big house repair happened. (our plans would have been thwarted by the hurricane, so it's for the best that it didn't pan out.) then we decided colorado would be out next best option, and another house repair took that trip out of the picture. we finally settled on OKC, and then jared came down with a gnarly case of poison ivy. so we cancelled everything, and jackson went to my parents' house. it was a super low-key birthday, but that's fine by me.

-  ugly halloween sweaters are a thing, and i am here for it.

-  i finally binged all seasons of veronica mars + the movie + the season on hulu. and THEN i found out that there were also two books written by the creators of v-mars, so now i have both of them on hold at the library for my kindle.

-  jared + i were talking about myspace the other day. i kinda miss it. i was always tweaking my profile + changing the song to match my mood + taking surveys.

1.  no matter what tomorrow brings, whether heartache or happiness, Jesus is still better.

2.  i took lots of photos of flowers. no one is surprised by this. not in the least.

3.  we lost our second + third babies via miscarriage.

4.  one of my favorite memories from this year will be us going into applebee's to eat dinner and realizing we were in wrong restaurant AFTER we got our menus. still so dang funny.

5.  i learned that motherhood is hard, but hard doesn't mean something is wrong; it's just hard.

6.  my faith was rocked. (see #3). there are questions i never thought i would ask God. but healing is happening. i have been a believer for over a decade, but when i had my third miscarriage, everything i thought knew came into question. i never once questioned if He is real or anything along those lines. but i had an awakening. despite the incredibly difficult circumstances, there has been good come from it.

7.  when i'm having a crappy day (or even a great one) - i make a list of what i'm grateful for. whether it's big or small, naming the good forces me to look outside of my circumstances and if i'm being honest, away from my self-centeredness.

8.  i left my job at the accounting office. i never, ever thought it would happen. after some unfortunate happenings, i knew i wouldn't be there long term. then a position opened up at a local credit union, and i knew it was time to move on. i have really enjoyed my new job. great people, great company.

9.  our childcare changed a couple times this year, and i was always so worried how it was all going to work out. but God answered every single time, usually before i had a chance to ask.

10.  i learned to check the weather before driving to oklahoma. i got caught in a severe thunderstorm for three hours, and it was terrifying.

11.  i was featured on wichita life ICT.

12.  i learned that it's okay to not finish a book. and it's okay to only read books that i want to read, but just what's popular on bookstagram.

13.  jared + i celebrated four years of marriage.

14.  after jared's grandma died, we heard story after story of how she loved spending time with everyone. it made us all realize that family get-togethers matter to someone.

15.  i got to pet a penguin, and it was one of the highlights of my year for sure!

16.  i fell in love with cooking + baking. i'm definitely not a pro, but i enjoy finding new recipes.

17.  jared + i sometimes have "couch dates" where he plays video games + i read a book/blog/etc. this may not sound like much of a date, but we actually still have meaningful conversations. (we are having a couch date at i type this blog post!)

18.  we bought our home - officially! it has been fun (most of the time) making this space ours.

19.  veronica mars officially became my favorite tv show ever.

20.  i received my first summons for jury duty, but ended up not having to serve.

21.  we celebrated jackson's second birthday.

22.  lot of time was spent on the pergola that jared built.

23.  i learned that just because people are loud about stuff on social media doesn't mean that they are the majority. loud sometimes means you're just loud. that's it.

24.  after years of talking about it, i finally launched wichita collective on instagram. it has been so fun to connect with others in our community + support local businesses.

25.  communication is key, in any relationship - marriage, work, friendship, etc.

26.  essential oils are cool. i like using them. but that's as far as it goes for me.

27.  experienced some firsts:  gave jackson his first haircut. visited my first food truck + trader joe's.

28.  i love podcasts so much. i almost want to start one of my own. but i won't. but i wanna.

29.  i have successfully kept plants alive all year.

30.  it's okay to grieve. it's also okay to grieve while doing things i love. healing comes in many forms.

31.  learned/learning - "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." [colossians 1:17]

32.  Jesus is where the joy is.

-  i keep tossing around the idea of documenting each week on the blog. but then life gets in the way, and it doesn't happen. this is my attempt to at least try. yesterday i thought about making this space private, but i'm still not sure. it's not like i'm an influencer, guys. i also thought about switching to squarespace, but those are all lofty goals that i'm not sure will pan out very well.

-  we went out to dinner friday night to applebee's. as we walked into the restaurant, we were surprised at all the renovations they had done. when we sat down, we realized there were no renovations; we just weren't actually in applebee's! how we didn't realize it until we sat down continues to baffle us to laughter. we ended up staying, and it turned out to be a fun family date night.

-  we then went to a store called "at home". as i walked in, memories flooded me like crashing waves. i was overcome with tears because this store reminded me of one i used to shop at with my mom + g-ma called "garden ridge". we would frequent that store on our girls' shopping trips, and it was the sweetest reminder of those days.

-  i purchased a give me Jesus journal this week. i have wanted one for years. the last year of my life has been one of the hardest seasons i've walked through. as i was reading scripture (for the first time in a long while, admittedly), i came across isaiah 58:11. it speaks of a satisfied desire in scorched places, and my life - after three miscarriages in nine months - is a scorched place. but i know the Lord has been with me through it all, and in the afterglow of the embers, i see Him rebuilding my faith in a beautiful way.

-  i have been binging veronica mars, and it is officially my new favorite tv show.

-  i am working on a little fall to-do list this week. nothing extravagant. mostly things we would be doing regardless if i made a fancy list or not. taking jackson to the pumpkin patch is one of my favorite little adventures to do. i hope he loves it, but i also have very low expectations when it comes to his excitement level on everything. he's a kid, after all. he thinks walking around target instead of sitting in the cart is like being at disneyland.


it's been a minute since i've posted on this little corner of the internets. sitting down to write a blog post is basically not an option in this season of life. i mean- i suppose if i reeeeally wanted to blog, i could. but honestly, having an active toddler doesn't allow that. also- i'm binging veronica mars right now, so the free time i have after jackson goes to bed is solely dedicated to a tv show that brings me so much joy. (the clothes, the sass, all of it!)

jackson turned two a couple of months ago. that kid. he is all boy. he jumps on everything, loves trucks + dinosaurs, and would stay outside all day if he could.

i've had a stack of outgrown baby clothes sitting on a chair for months. every time i go through them, i get so emotional. i started going through everything in our home (for sanity reasons + for garage sale reasons). i sat on the floor and cried as i sorted the baby clothes because i honestly don't know if i should even keep them. what's the point? i don't know if we can actually have another baby, but jared has a lot more hope than i do, so he makes me keep it all. i agree, for now.

this month marks one year of finishing the renovation + moving into our home. i truly love it here. we have worked on so many projects in the last few months. once fall comes, we will start working on the landscaping. you know i will be planting all the blooms!

i sat down to write this post thinking i had a lot to say. but i guess i don't now that i'm here. i want to write a post of my favorite podcast episodes and one for my favorite links around the internet and one about my current favorites, so maybe i should go write one of those. i also have been throwing around the idea of starting up my weekly musings posts again. i liked those because it forced me to be very intentional about documenting my daily life. i can go days without doing anything creative, and that's no bueno. maybe it could be a 2020 goal.

2020 is basically tomorrow, right? once september get here, it's going to flyyyyyyyy. but i'm ready for fall.

ok- that's all i have to say for now. i can hear jackson causing chaos in the other room. story of my life!

  S N A P S H O T S  

-  this kid loves being outside
-  my favorite coffee shop + my favorite flowers
-  pastel skies
-  flowers to plant from our neighbor

   M O M E N T S  +  H A P P E N I N G S   

i haven't blogged lately because life has been full. not busy. i don't like that term. but full, yes. lots of evenings spent outside on our pergola. (except for the week it rained forrrrrever.) work has been crazy and will stay that way for another month or so. jackson is growing + learning + talking.

summer is here, and i'm happy. the last two summers were BANANAS. we had a newborn in 2017 and last summer was completely dedicated to our home renovation. now we are settled and jackson is almost two. that saying - the days are long, but the years are short - is so true.

several people have asked how i am lately after the miscarriage in april. i can honestly say that i am good. i am so, so grateful for everyone who has lifted me up to the feet of Jesus. i felt your prayers when i was at my lowest. He is good. i know this to be true. i don't know what the future holds, but i know that He is where true joy is. He is why i wake up every day and live.

jared celebrated his birthday on saturday. we went out to dinner and shopped afterward. it was a low-key day, but still nice.

i have been reading a lot lately. i finished station eleven + really enjoyed it! i am now reading educated, and wow, what an insane story.

   L E S S O N S  +  R E A L I Z A T I O N S   

-  i started planning jackson's second birthday this week. if i think about it too much, i tear up. that little boy brings so much laughter + joy to our lives. he is a typical toddler, but oh mylanta, he is the sweetest.

-  the only good thing about winter is that there are no mosquitos.

-  it's time for a hair change. i'm totally set on cutting it short-ish, but i'm not sure about the color yet.

  S N A P S H O T S  

-  celebratory latte
-  current read
-  bubbles
-  storming

   M O M E N T S  +  H A P P E N I N G S   

- we officially closed on our home! last summer, we renovated 95% of this house. it was a huge project, but so worth every bit of blood, sweat, & tears.

-  i accepted a new position at work. i'm still in the accounting department, but my job duties have changed.

-  my family came up from oklahoma for a quick visit on saturday. jackson loves his nana!

- finally started reading station eleven. i was on the wait list at the library for months.

   L E S S O N S  +  R E A L I Z A T I O N S   

-   i have a tendency to hold people at arm's length for fear that they will find out that i'm not perfect. it's almost laughable to me as i read those words, but after a lengthy conversation with jared, it all makes sense. since my last miscarriage, i have had a major awakening- in my self-awareness, my marriage, my outlook, my mothering, basically my whole life. it's wild + humbling + overwhelming.

zee elephant in the room. //  i cried at my desk after reading this article.

+  if the books of the bible were GIFs.  //  this twitter thread is everything.

+  i make these protein balls legit twice a week. they are rullll good. eating one (four) as i type this post.

+  when satan steals your motherhood.  //  this article also made me cry at my desk.

+  i'm in a major book rut. i think book two of the inspector gamache series is up next for me.

  S N A P S H O T S  

-  my love
-  avengerssssss
-  morning light
-  peace

   M O M E N T S  +  H A P P E N I N G S   

i took monday off work because i needed one more day to recover. i mostly spent the day watching NCIS, but it was much needed. i went back to work on tuesday, and it was hard, but i did it.

we have been spending the majority of our evenings outside. jackson runs around + we sit on the swing. it's delightful.

on friday, we went to the lake to see jared's parents. jackson was not interested in fishing, but he liked throwing rocks.

we watched the new avengers movie, and all i have to say is OH, MYLANTA.

   L E S S O N S  +  R E A L I Z A T I O N S   

-  i realized that some of the anger i had at God was actually disappointment. my due date would have been my grandma gracie's birthday. there was this wonderful story that led up to this pregnancy, and i just thought it would be this big redemption story that i could share as a testimony. and then it wasn't. and i was so disappointed.

-  internet friends are so wonderful.

-  it's okay to grieve. and it's also okay to do the things i love (blogging, reading, etc) while grieving.

-  "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." [colossians 1:17]

it has been a week since we lost out third baby via miscarriage.

i was mentally/physically/spiritually at one of the lowest points of my life. i shut everyone out except jared + my mom. people told me they were praying for me, and i secretly wanted to tell them that it didn't matter. the grief i felt was so heavy. i didn't want to leave the house ever again.

but i did. i went back to work on tuesday. i had a lot of anxiety about it, but i did okay. a co-worker fumbled through a "sorry for your loss" and finally stopped and said, "i don't honestly know what to say." neither do i, really. throughout this entire loss, (all three really, but the most recent even more so) the most comforting words are ones that don't try to explain it away. no compartmentalizing or giving a quippy answer like "there is a reason for everything" or some christianize statement to gloss over the pain.

on friday, we went to the lake for a few hours to see jared's parents + introduce jackson to fishing. (spoiler alert: he was only interested in throwing rocks into the water.) on the drive out there, we talked about my day, and jared commented on how i seemed a little more like myself. i agreed. in the first few days after our loss, i was so despondent that i wondered if i would ever move on from the immense grief + pain that seemed to infect every cell of my body.

while i haven't "moved on" - i have made an effort to still live my life. this looks like treating myself to sheet masks from target, reading my bible, going outside to soak in the sun, listening to t-swift's song too many times, and putting my phone down to soak in the little bits of beauty around me.

so many people have reached out, and i am overwhelmingly grateful. to those who have lifted me up to the feet of Jesus, thank you. He is where the joy is, even in the pain + grief.