Women Are Scary: A Review

"Too many of us women are frazzled and lonely, isolated in our minivans, schlepping bags, strollers, and munchkins to and fro across town. It doesn't have to be this way. In this guide to "momlationships," I use a dating analogy to take us "around the bases" to our home-run friendships, the ones that last a lifetime, not just a soccer season. This is our journey to each other, to finding our people and being other people's people, to learning how to bless each other and not destroy each other." 

I was instantly interested in Dale's book as I have experienced first hand the beauty and importance of female friendships. I have two small kids, and I'm home most days, and I still find it hard to connect with other women. But it is so vital. This book is funny, but also gives super practical ideas on how to foster relationships with other women [mom or not], and even goes so far as to give specific ideas for things to do together. I appreciated that Dale goes beyond the typical "coffee date".

In the chapter where she discussed "The Group Date" and having other moms and kids over to your home, she quoted the book A Life That Says Welcome [by Karen Ehman]: Entertaining puts the emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs to that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home. Dale then talked about how that shift in her mentality made it easier to have other women over to her house, and "flipped the purpose of [her] gatherings." Isn't that awesome? Doesn't that make you breathe a little deeper when you think about having someone over?

I don't think it's a secret that women tend to be judgy. I think we all judge from different places, about different things, and for different reasons. I appreciate how Dale addresses this and encourages women to acknowledge that we do things differently, and that's okay. Don't focus on those things. She said, "Instead of disagreeing with each other about our parenting choices, what if we celebrated that we have a choice? What if we used our freedom to stop fighting each other and start fighting extreme poverty together?... Let's fight human trafficking. Let's fight for the kids who don't have families. Let's fight anything but each other when we have so much work to do in the world."

She talked about our real, deep friendships as "fourth base" friends. [As a softball coach just, ya know, whatever about the whole fourth base thing ;)]. I absolutely loved that she shared the why of these friendships--that we need these deep friends to walk into our "trenches" with us. But more than that I love that she said, "They are not our Jesus. But he can use them to speak truth into our lives and hold us together when we're falling apart. My friends aren't my Savior, but sometimes he uses them to point me to him when I can't find my way." Amen. Just, amen. Right? Those sentences alone make me want to step out more and deeper with more women in my life to gain even more of these friends because, if you've had one and they've done this for you, you know just how important it is.

She shares practical ways, with examples, of what it looks like to be humble. And wrong. And to not talk badly of other women. [Why are we so bad at these things, ladies?!] She writes, "There's freedom in learning to be wrong. You give the people around  you permission to be right. You become approachable. If I think about the people I  admire most, they're the humble ones, the truly teachable people who are not afraid to admit when they're wrong or don't know something." [And Brent is reading this right now and thinking, "Oh Kels, I'm so glad you read this book!"]

Dale does a great job of not speaking to one "category" of moms in her book. She addresses "working" moms and "stay at home" moms, and I put those in quotes because she does, because she says she knows that all moms do more than what we put in front of the word 'mom'.

Things I didn't like:
/The term "momlationships." You know me and weird/meshing words: Pinterest and Webinar make me shudder.
/ The layout of the book is really busy. It does this thing that I really don't like in books and magazine articles where you read a sentence and then the next thing you know you're reading the same sentence again in offset big type. Why? There are also occasional snippet from other mom's stories that they have sent in to Dale via her blog that she includes in the book. I really just skimmed them but mainly skipped them. And then there are also little tweets from Dale's Twitter account here and there. I did read those because they were generally pretty funny and I didn't feel like they detracted from the book.

Several reviewers have said her humor is too forced or over the top, but I actually enjoyed it and laughed out loud several times. I thought her humor was relatable and more natural than the last book I reviewed. An example: I'm pretty lax about germs. You have to be if you have more than one kid and ever want to leave the house and see other humans. You have a cold? Fine, we just won't mouth kiss. Your kid has a low-grade fever? Meh, let's risk it and just lube up with hand sanitizer. Your baby barfed last week? Ugh, let's give it another three weeks just to be safe. Don't breathe on me. Full body shudder.... Heck, I don't even like the idea that we're connected through the internet if you've just puked." And that, my friends, sums up my thoughts exactly.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book. It made me thank some of the women in my life that I am lucky enough to call friends. It made me finally call my college roommate on the phone [we both hate the phone and play phone tag way too much because it's never the right time for one of us]. It made me want to invite some other women over that I don't know very well yet. And it just made me deep down thankful that God created us to thrive in relationships.

I was provided a copy of this book by BookLook Bloggers and Zondervan publishing but all opinions are my own. 

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If you don't know my Blythe, here are a few words I would use to describe her: spunky. conversational. kind hearted. thoughtful. and goofy.

Brent and I have been cracking up lately at what a combination she is of the two of us, though. I am thankful there is something internally calm and at peace about her, like Brent. I am thankful she is social, more like me. And Brent said, "Let's hope she never gets my nose!" [I love that man, his nose included, but I concur.]

The other day though we witnessed a thirty second span of time that showed us a few distinct parts of her personality that we could contribute to one or the other. Here is how the scene unfolded:

We pulled into my parents' driveway and were unloading the girls and all of their paraphernalia. We got Blythe out first and told her she could go to the door. She walked over to the steps while carrying her doll ["Kelsey Baby"], and abruptly stopped. She chuckled and said, "I can't do that!" and waited for us. Brent grabbed her free hand and she tried to step up and spun around in nearly a full circle, her hand in Brent's the axis point. "Woah!! I did a spinny step!!" And then she was on her way.

Brent and I looked at each other and just shook our heads.
The fact that she walked to the step, took one look at it, and wouldn't even try? Oh that's all me. Lazy. 
The fact that she waited patiently for someone to come help her? Brent. Total patience. 
The fact that she still couldn't manage to really take a step even with help? Ahem. Me again. Clumsy. 
The fact that she named the and laughed at the weird spin move? That has Brent all over it. He names different kisses he gives her ["The drive by." "The ambush."].

This little creature has our handprints all over her. It's crazy. And funny. Slightly scary.  We can't wait to see which traits Becks picks up. [And did you notice that all the BEST traits in this little scene were Brent's. Sigh.]

Blythe is a nut. And I'm afraid we only have to look in the mirror to see where she gets it.

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because Spring colds and stuffy noses are the worst: A Crane Review

Once upon a time, I was pregnant with my first child. People told me I should get a humidifier for the nursery, and I saw this cute elephant guy and threw him on my registery. Brent and I occasionally used a humidifier, but I wasn't a mom and I did not yet know how awesome these things are. 

When Blythe was a teeny tiny newborn and shedding her beautiful black hair all over her white crib sheet, I only used this when she had a cold. Wrong. Now that I have Becks, I turn this sucker on every night and every nap. Basically all the live long day. And I think it helps. 

I liked my first Elephant from Crane Humidifiers   so much, that I register for the same exact one when I was pregnant with number two. Also, when Blythe started talking [at about 8 days, or something like that...], she called it "El-leaf" and I knew he would be joining her in her new room. So I needed another one. I looked at all the "adorable" humidifier options on Crane's website:

A couple friends had told me that they had had a few different ones, and that they felt the elephant produced/dispersed/did it's thing a little better than the others, so I just stuck with it. But how cute would that DUCK be? or BEE? Or that TRAIN?! What? These are awesome. The best thing about Crane's humidifiers, in my opinion, is that they don't require filters. Ain't nobody got time to be making sure their dang filter isn't moldy or needing replaced. Been there. Done that. Threw that humidifier away when we moved. These work without a filter, and if you drain them daily...ish... they stay pretty clean. About once a week I wipe mine up with a clorox wipe, and every month or two I do the full cleaning instructions to be the thorough, OCD neat freak I have become. 

Cold or not, I run these suckers daily for my girls. They are quiet. They keep their noses from crusting which in turn keeps me from having to get up at two in the morning when Blythe is cry-screaming in her sleep-awake-state saying, "I have boogies!" [<< this has really happened before I was faithful with the humidifiers.]  A doctor could probably tell you the benefits of having proper moisture in the air, but a doctor I am not, so I will just say: It's good! 

Unfortunately Blythe's "El-leaf" started making a terrifying grinding sound when we would turn it on. It would stop after a few minutes and run normally after that, but I figured I would check with Crane and see what they could do. 

The ONE YEAR warranty [which is pretty awesome, isn't it?!] was up, but they were so great to work with and said they would send me another one so I could share it with you all on this blog. 

A part of me wanted to get the elephant again because we love that guy, but Blythe's big girl room just needed a punch of turquoise, her favorite color my favorite color, so I went with this: 

you can only buy this color at buybuyBaby or Bed Bath & Beyond, or on Crane's website

Again, there were a million options to choose from among the Drop Humidifiers, which are their best seller: 

 We've been using it for about a month and a half  now, and it is even quieter than the elephant. My only complaint about both humidifiers is that the light on it is bright. When you turn it on there is a green light, and when it runs out of water it turns red. On the elephant I just covered it with a bit of electric tape and problem solved, but on Blythe's the light is inside the little bubble and I can't get to it. Which is fine because it doesn't really bother her because she's in that I-want-all-the-lights-on-when-I-sleep-phase, but it would bother me in my room at night. Maybe you're not this touchy.

If you need a humidifier, or a great baby gift, check out Crane's selection. I really think it has helped to keep these puppies flowing all winter for my girls. And their customer service is phenomenal.
[And I was going to post pictures of how cute these look in their actual rooms, but every time I think to do it they are asleep. So instead here is an adorable picture of Becks from this morning:

Crane supplied me with the second humidifier in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own. 
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a NEMO third birthday

Sunday evening was absolutely beautiful, just like the day we brought Blythe home from the hospital. This was the first time I've done a "theme" party, as Blythe had mentioned a "Nemo party" and my sister urged me to try the theme thing. I didn't go overboard [< jokes!] and have themed food, but the look in Blythe's eyes when she saw all the decorations was pretty great.

Also, before I show you pictures I will remind you that Finding Nemo came out my Senior year of High School: eleven years ago. Which means the only Nemo items I could actually purchase in the store were fruit snacks. So we just kind of went with colors and Blythe helped me make a lot. 
Now-- pictures! 

Blythe was born during March Madness-- actually, she was born the night the Jayhawks clenched their ticket to the Elite 8, and later went on to play for [and lose :(] the National Championship. It was fitting that her 3rd birthday party fell on the day they played in the tournament again. Brent recorded the game, informed all our guests he didn't want to know the score, turned off his phone, and managed to not find out until he watched later.
He helped get things ready for the party and occasionally had to stop and check scores. 

the only legit Nemo at our party

When Kali and I were younger, we always woke up to a poster on our birthday, courtesy of my dad. I asked him to make one for Blythe and he delivered!

Blythe helped make these Nemos/Marlins! 

I even had some M&Ms left over from the cupcakes ;) Thanks for your support on yesterday's post; I'm glad I'm not alone.
By the way, I feel like I could also write a post about how I felt like it was such a splurge to buy that number candle. 

Caroline and Ellie mailed Blythe some pictures for her party!

My mom let us borrow her Keurig and we had an awesome coffee bar
One of my favorite things about moving back "home" was knowing that my kids would get to have family birthday parties. I love it for them because that is exactly what I had growing up. Blythe was totally in her element because she knew and loved everyone, and was known and loved by them all in return. As much fun as it would be to have some of her friends/our friends come celebrate with us, being surrounded by family is the best.

praying before eating

I absolutely love the look that little kids have when everyone is singing them "Happy Birthday." It's part excitement and wonder, part terror and humiliation. Do we ever grow out of this? 

Oh and this girl? Just happened to strike a girl out for the last out of the game in DIVISION freaking TWO softball earlier that day. Dangerous South Paw pitcher by day, Nemo party by night. [Also, this is one of Blythe's namesakes :)] 

One of our favorites, Nini Pat

I made sure Blythe only had ONE cupcake and a little ice cream, as a lot proved to be a poor decision last year [scroll to bottom of THIS post for that story]. 

Becks maybe thought the party was also for her, and made sure to use her wily charms to get as much of the good stuff as she good. We'll be celebrating her big ONE year in another month. 

By the way, Brent's family doesn't mess around with feeding children: they want a bite of your dessert? You give them a real bite! :) 

My sister made this baby carrier for Blythe. Everyone ooohhed and awwwwed and talked about how talented she is and my dad maybe even threw out the term "Peale Scholar", and I was like, "But I made BLUE PUNCH!!" 

Since before Christmas Blythe has said she wanted a BLUE bike. I almost gave up looking for a girl blue bike, but finally found one :) 

Pat has a knack for sitting in the perfect lighting for pictures

I'm always so happy when I see her with her namesake: PopPop Beck. 

Blythe got a sandbox from Nini and PopPop but was willing to share with her sister

We finished the evening by returning inside for a big performance from Elsa. Even with 15 people watching, she did not miss a beat and hammed it up. 

As my mom's uncle used to always say at the end of the day, "What a birthday!"

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