1.   christmas in oklahoma.  my parents rented an airbnb for a few days the weekend before christmas. it was SO fun! we visited the aquarium + a few coffee shops + a few other places. lots of memories made!

2.  spiderman: no way home.  on christmas eve, we went with my brother-in-law to see the new spiderman movie. it was so good! i know some people are over super hero movies, but i am just happy to be going to the movies again. other than that feeling of leaving another dimension after you walk out of the theater, my other favorite thing is when a scene makes everyone in the room audibly gasp. it happened during the spiderman movie + my serotonin spiked hard core. 

3.  impress nails.  i wore a few sets of these nails throughout the month. they are easy to apply + last about a week. it’s nice because they don’t chip like polish does. 

4.  laurannae espresso + pastry bar.  i will not stop posting allllll the photos i took when we visited this adorable spot in tulsa. when i tell you i am OBSESSED. the ambiance, the decor, the coffee, the EVERYTHING. it's what my coffee shop dreams are made of.

5.  reflecting on 2021.  writing my end-of-the year recaps is always so cathartic. i like to document my life, so it's fun to remember the daily happenings of the last twelve months. i reflect to remember. the days can run together sometimes, but i choose to document my daily life (is some way or another) so that i can look back and remember His faithfulness is those seasons.



 



-  eat breakfast with protein. do NOT drink coffee before having some food.

+  i started the year with brunette hair + i’m ending with blonde. [if i ever say i want to go back to brunette, feel free to yell at me.] 

-  it's okay to change your mind.

+  i read 28 books.

-  ask questions. ask follow-up questions. just ask. 

+  we took a trip with my family in late fall to broken bow and again at christmas to tulsa.

-  take a long walk. it does wonders. 

+  i turned thirty-five.

-  am i parenting from pride or with purpose?

+  jackson finished preschool in the spring + started pre-k in the fall.

-  emergency room physicians bill separately from the hospital. and if they misspell your street name (even by just ONE lettter), you will not receive it. but what you will receive is a phone call from a debt collector. and THEN it will drag out with the insurance company for weeks + months. 

+  i started taking magnesium every day.

-  create, even if it’s just for five minutes. 

+  we lost our fifth baby via miscarriage.

-  bullet journal  >  planners 

+  i finally trained my hair to only need one wash per week!

-  when an area of my life feels off, i can almost always trace it back to too much social media. i started a new habit of no social media before work and my phone goes on my nightstand at 9 pm. it’s been so helpful. 

+  when i think of this summer, i will remember cold brew + pinterest.

-  i reflect to remember. these recaps i post are not for anyone but myself. it's a reminder of His faithfulness.

+  in a big act of faith, jared quit his job. he now stays home with jackson, but he also does the cooking + cleaning + all the grocery shopping (PRAISE). i thought it would be a big adjustment, but we have eased into it nicely. 

-  it was a good year. it was a hard year. He was faithful. He is faithful. He will be faithful. 





BEST ADVENTURE/TRAVEL/TRIP:   broken bow + christmas in oklahoma 


BEST KIDDO MILESTONE:  jackson is doing so well in pre-k! with a little help, he can count to 100 + can write his name. 


BEST FAITH GROWER:  recognizing the bitterness that was growing in my heart. jared + i had a long heart-to-heart about some struggles i was having. it broke the dam of long-held hurts i had toward someone, which in turn opened my eyes to what the bitterness was doing in my heart + in my everyday life. 


BEST TREND YOU TRIED:  biker shorts. i lived in them during the summer! (and high-waisted underwear. AMAZING.)


BEST BEAUTY PURCHASE:  i didn’t really change any makeup i use, but i did start using this shampoo + conditioner + this dry shampoo, all by kristin ess. 


BEST HABIT YOU CREATED:   i stopped looking at all the socials before work. i also made the decision to put my phone away after 9 pm. these were great habits to implement + i foresee trying out a “social media sabbath” in the coming year. 


FAVORITE BLOG POST WRITTEN:  things i love. this started as an instagram post, but i was limited on characters, so i shared the full list. i already have a list going for another post. 


BEST NEW RECIPE:   this hashbrown casserole is my favorite! [and since we're talking about food: my favorite new (to me) restaurants in ICT were district taqueria + sabor. SO GOOD!]


BEST LIFE OR MOM HACK:   i still do one load of laundry per day. it keeps the whole process manageable from start to finish. it’s rare that i have a load sitting in the dryer waiting to be folded because i can tackle it the same day due to this simple daily practice. 


BEST MAMA MOMENT:   how much my confidence has grown in motherhood. it’s not necessarily a “mama moment”, but what i have learned is this: jackson needs his mom; not a mixture of everyone else’s mom’s opinions. i find myself no longer looking at what other moms are doing. i make prayerful decisions regarding my son. it has been so freeing to break the chains of comparison when it comes to my mothering abilities.


BEST HOME IMPROVEMENT:  we added a concrete pad to our driveway. jared had been asking me about it for over a year, and i finally said yes. it is so nice to step out of the car and not get all muddy.


BEST LITTLE LUXURY YOU'VE ENJOYED:  this barefoot dreams blanket. it’s so bougie, but worth every penny.


BEST BOOK:  "into the drowning deep" - mira grant. (i also posted a list of my fav reads from 2021.


BEST MOVIE(S):  spider-man: no way home  •  raya & the last dragon  •  air force one (an oldie, but i watched it for the first time + LOVED it!)  •  spirit untamed (this was not necessarily my favorite, but it was the first movie jackson saw in a theater, so i have a sentimental attachment to it.)


BEST TV SHOW:  i watched a few good shows:  the crown, yellowstone, and wandavision. 


BEST ALBUM OR SONG:   fav songs: “love you like that” dagny, “graves into gardens” - elevation, “fighting for me” - riley clemmons, “know You will” - hillsong.


BEST PODCAST:  murder with my husband + drama queens (OTH recaps)


BEST NEWSLETTER:  i am subscribed to several really good ones! my favs include: ashlee gadd, laura wifler, kristen lavalley (especially her wintering series!), + phylicia masonheimer. i really love sitting down with my ipad + a hot cup of something + reading what these ladies share. it's a little luxury in my day. 


BEST FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM:  jessica kraus (houseinhabit). from her deep dives to how coverage of the maxwell trial, she is the epitome of good journalism. 


BEST DATE:  the saturday before my birthday, jared came home early from work and said he wanted to take me downtown for a little celebration. we went to the art market, ate at sabor, went to my favorite plant shop, + stopped by the cutest shop in clifton square. it was such a fun morning with my boys.


BEST FAMILY MEMORY:   our christmas in oklahoma was so fun + many memories were made. 




*this idea came from em for marvelous  
** affiliate links throughout post 


 


-  "into the drowning deep"  -  mira grant

when i first learned of this book, it was described as "mermaid horror". i was intrigued, although slightly confused. i think what made this book so good for me is its uniqueness- i hadn't yet read a book about mermaids (not at all like ariel from the little mermaid!). i am a firm believer that the atmosphere in which a book is read can add to the reading experience. that was definitely the case with this book- i read it as the days slowly shifted from winter to springtime. this one stuck with me for weeks! 


-  "the little book of hygge"  -  meik wiking

i am on a quest to enjoy the coming winter season instead of just trying to survive it. this was a look into why denmark is the happiest country in the world + how the danish culture embraces their everyday lives through the practice of hygge. [pronounced “hyoo-guh“] jared + i discussed this book so much that one night- as i sat by the christmas tree while sipping coffee + reading a book- jackson asked me, “mommy, are you practicing your hygge?” 😂😂 [i was, indeed!]


-  "gently + lowly"  -  dane c. ortlund 

i don't really know if a review could do this book justice. what a beautiful reminder (or for some: a
revelation) of the heart of Jesus for us. this is one i
will be re-reading over + over.


-  "daisy jones + the six"  -  taylor jenkins reid

i was late to this book, but i completely understand the hype. i listened to it on audio, and they had different people read for the different characters, which added a wonderful layer to the reading experience. regardless of the presentation, the book was just so good. i finished it in two days! 


-  "the cheerleaders"  -  kara thomas

i finished this book with just a few days left in the year, and i knew it had to make this list of favorites. i really enjoyed it! it's a cross of riverdale + veronica mars (my fav tv show). i kept thinking about wanting to read this book, even while at work, so i knew it was a good one. i didn't see the twist coming, which is always nice. (i will say, the main character does something in the beginning of the book that i was like, really?? it did not add to the story, so i was a little annoyed by that.) 



honorable mentions-

-  “gay girl, good God”  -  jackie hill perry  (review here)
-  “no filter: the inside story of instagram”  -  sarah frier  (fascinating!) 
-  "the maidens"  -  alex michaelides 



*affiliate links throughout post 
 


-  i started working on my end-of-the-year recaps. they are my favorite posts to write. 

-  we went to the theater + saw the new spiderman movie. it was so good! i love when a scene makes everyone gasp. 

-  with a little bit of help, jackson counted to 100 this week. 

-  my rapping skills  >  my wrapping skills

-  i was brainstorming ideas for 2022 this week. i had the thought to only post photos on IG; no captions, no words, no emojis. just photos. i don't think i'll end up doing it, but i'm still considering it.

-  "joy is a function of gratitude, and gratitude is a function of perspective. you only begin to change your life when you begin to change the way you see." ann voskamp, the greatest gift.

-  something i am going to try in the new year is microblogging. it's blogging, but with shorter posts (like instagram captions). 

-  tiktok makes me cry one second and laugh until i cry the next.

-  i cannot resist a maple donut. 

-  chick-fil-a employees are on a different level. a couple weeks ago, we had some gnarly wind. gusts up to fifty mph! and wouldn't you know it- the chick-fil-a employee greeted me with a smile as the wind was blowing half her face off. 

-  i shared photos from our christmas in oklahoma.



* affiliate links thoughout post 








///////

TRIP FAVORITES:

laurannae  //  it was almost serendipitous how i stumbled across this coffee shop; just minutes from where we had dinner. from the decor to the coffee, it was so lovely. i absolutely fell in love with this coffee shop! (we also visited their other location near our airbnb) 

oklahoma aquarium  //  so fascinating! i could watch the jellyfish for hours. 

rhema lights  //  over three million lights donned the bible college campus. we arrived a little early, so we waited by the duck pond. and then- in such a magical way- all the lights turned on. it was so lovely to experience. 

other favs  //  topeca coffee shop, bass pro, nordaggio’s coffee shop, the view of keystone lake from our airbnb, when jackson wanted to play checkers + called them “chiggers”, the tulsa zoo, shopping with my mama, the sauna at the airbnb, + opening presents with my family.








 
we are just a little under two weeks until christmas. jared + i have most of our shopping done. nothing is wrapped, but whatever. i should just hire a t-rex to do the job because that's what my skills amount to when it comes to gift wrapping. 

anyway.

i used to love when people posted gift guides. and then i didn't. but this year- i kinda like it again. but only from certain people. some are really thoughtful with their picks while others just want you to buy through their link so they can make that commission. 

i will tell you up front, most of these are affiliate links through amazon. i do not care if you buy with my link or not; i just genuinely like + use each product listed, so i wanted to share it in case someone needs a last-minute gift idea. 


-  THE AMAZON COAT. [affiliate link] i was searching the internet in early autumn for a new winter coat. i stumbled upon an entire instagram account dedicated to "the amazon coat". after researching + reading reviews, i finally decided to get it (thanks, mom!). i understand the hype now. it is warm, has tons of pockets, and is also super cute + cozy (comes in several colors too!). 


-  BAREFOOT DREAMS BLANKET.  [affiliate link] this is the most bougie thing i own. yes, the price tag is . . . a lot. full disclosure- mine was a gift. but it is so luxurious + worth the money.


-  BIDET[affiliate link] if you think it's weird to gift a bidet to someone, think again because we gifted one to a family member this year, and they absolutely love it! we are on our second bidet and will always have one on a toilet in our home.  


-  INSTAX[affiliate link] if you've been here for a minute, you know i love instax polaroids. this is a great gift for everyone. 


-  WEIGHTED BLANKET[affiliate link] this blanket is like a big hug. i have convinced several people to buy one! 


-  MILDLINER PASTEL HIGHLIGHTERS[affiliate link] i love these so much that i have a pack at home + a pack at work. great for bullet journaling, but also just great for everyday use.


-  SCRIBD SUBSCRIPTION. it's no secret that i love audiobooks. i really like the scribd app. you can also read books (like an e-reader, but on your phone). i can always find a book on the app, and for $10 a month, it's a great deal.


-  JCREW SLIPPERS. i have raved about these on instagram. they are so comfortable; it's like walking on clouds. i am on my second pair for this winter. highly recommend! 



 



-  this week was hard. i limped my way through, weary + raw from such intense emotions. i didn't record a lot of musings, but that's okay.  

-  i started working on my powersheets prep. i have used this goal setting tool for years. i skipped 2021 because my 2020 powersheets were untouched after march. (no elaboration needed, right?) as i reflected on this year + looked forward to 2022, i knew it was time to incorporate them back into my daily routine. i am not a super goal-oriented person, but i like having a little bit of structure. 

-  i had an idea to share some of my favorite things on the blog in case anyone is needing a last-minute gift idea. that is coming to the blog + ig stories later today.

-  jared + jackson came to visit me at work one afternoon. i showed them around our new headquarters + then we ventured over to our favorite coffee shop. the weather was beautiful, so we sat outside. it was so lovely.

-  “worry is belief gone wrong. because you don't believe that God will get it right. peace is belief that exhales. because you believe that God's provision
is everywhere--like air.” [ann voskamp]

-  i really want to get some red aspen nail dashes, but it's an MLM + i don’t know if i can do that. 



 


-  it is a christmas miracle: i have finished TWO physical books in two weeks. LOL. but seriously, i am really starting to like the slowness of sitting down with hot tea, next to our floral christmas tree, + reading a book in my hands. i will not quit audiobooks, but this is a quiet rhythm i have enjoyed lately.

-  normally i recap the month on the blog, but i just wasn't feeling it for november. instead- i listed the 10 things that i loved. i may or may not continue this for the coming months. i liked changing it up a bit, so we'll see.

-  i started a new bullet journal this week! i have switched to seasonal journals, so this one will go from december to february (winter). i opted for a smaller moleskine journal (affiliate link) this time, and i am enjoying it. 


-  on friday night, my coworkers + i headed over to river city brewery for some delicious food to celebrate our year + our departments' accomplishments. it was so fun to see them outside of our cubicles. after stuffing ourselves, we ventured over to an escape room. i had never experienced it before, so i was very excited. with just seconds left, my team made it out! i may have almost broken my foot in the process, but i took one for the team to win, lol.

-  christmas lights are so magical. 

-  i started reading ann voskamp's advent book. i haven't taken time to slow down + observe advent in years. i felt it a necessity for this season. so often, we get distracted by all the things (even good things!) and we forget to remember Jesus. my one hope, my biggest prayer this christmas season is one thing: Jesus. that my eyes would focus on His coming; that i would remember Him; that He is who i long for. only Jesus. 

-  "the only thing that will satisfy our hunger for more is to hunger for the One who comes down to bethlehem, house of bread, the One who comes after us and offers Himself as Bread for our starved souls." ann voskamp, the greatest gift (affiliate link)