Monday, February 29, 2016

Nine Reasons I'm Afraid to Have a Baby

It's the million dollar question: When are you having a baby? People have great intentions in asking it, but it's so awkward at the same time. Let me be clear from the start: I want to have kids. I hope I'll be able to someday. I'm excited for those I know who have kiddos, or are pregnant or trying. And if I'm honest, there are times when my heart swells with the thought of being a mommy. There are times when I snuggle a sweet newborn and totally think I could be ready to give it a go. But then there are moments when I stop and really think about what having one of our own would mean. And if I'm honest? There are things that scare the heck out of me. Though I know I'll be ready at some point, here are nine reasons I'm not ready (and am a little afraid) to have a baby right now.

Nine Reasons I'm Afraid to Have a Baby

1. The Loss of Our Carefree Lifestyle 

The biggest thing that scares me about having a baby right now is just the fact that it changes everything. Everything. I know the change will be good, just different. I've gotten use to our "normal", and really like my sleep. We have literally nothing (no plants, no dogs) to keep alive right now other than ourselves, so going out to eat late, sleeping in late, or going on spontaneous trips isn't unheard of. I've just really enjoyed our almost-three years of carefree young married life, and I'm scared to give it up.

2. The Shift in Our Marriage

Just when I think I'm doing okay at this wifey thing, let's go ahead and throw a baby into the mix. I know it will be oh so worth it someday, but it makes me a little nervous to think about the shift that will take place in our marriage- the stress that will be added from a little one and sleepless nights, and the things that will have to change. I worry that our treasured date nights will be hard to come by, or maybe we won't have energy for the same things we enjoy doing together now.

3. The Fear of Labor and Delivery

I don't have a fabulous history with anything health, hospital, or blood-related, so my nerves in this area are very justifiable. I know that I'll suck it up and do what I have to in order to have a happy, healthy baby when the time comes. But for now, every time I get my finger pricked I have to give myself a pep talk about not getting dizzy. If you'd like to start praying for me in this area now (pre-baby readiness) that would be great. It's also scary to think about how the baby has to come out of me at some point...though I do think that if women constantly do it more than one time than, surely I can do it too, right?

4. The Shift in My Identity and Body

I struggled a lot in college with my weight and body image. Just when I've reached a point where I'm confident in a healthy, strong body and I'm decently okay with my own appearance- let's go ahead and change everything with a pregnancy. Although I know my sweet hubby will always think I'm beautiful, I'm scared about gaining weight, shifting it around, and trying to take it back off. I'm afraid that my valued and treasured workout time will go by the wayside, and that I'll lose a little piece of myself and who I am.

5. The Shift in Our Ministry

YoungLife ministry has been such a huge, huge part of my life and our marriage. I'm scared to think about giving up that time in order to make time for a baby. It makes me sad to think about throwing in the towel on something that has arguably been our "baby" from the start. But I also don't know how we could be involved at the same level that we are right now...especially with an infant. I know that the Lord has a huge plan in this, and that He will reveal it to us when the time comes, but I still struggle with knowing that the ministry that gives eternal purpose to our teaching jobs would have to become a lesser focus.

6. The Fear of Fertility Problems

I know some couples that sneeze and get pregnant, and I know others where it takes years. I'm sometimes afraid that it will take a really long time, or that I won't ever be able to get pregnant. I'm scared of having to answer the "When are you having a baby?" question if we'd been trying for months and months with no success. If that was the case, I know it would be part of God's plan, and that He would use me in others ways that He sees fit. I do feel called to have kids though, so it scares me to think about the heartache of not being able to get pregnant, or the pain of miscarriage (with is much more common than people think).

7. The Loss of Travel Freedom

Okay, this one's totally selfish, I know. If you've been around for a while, you know that Aaron and I have huge hearts for travel and that we've been adventuring around the world and the US together since the day we said "I do." While travel doesn't have to be over forever with kids, I do recognize that it will be much harder to do an overseas 16 day adventure or see the world on crazy road trips where you stay in different hotels each night. It makes me excited to think about taking kiddos along to see the world some day, but there is a bit of travel freedom that will have to go, at least for a while.

8. The Fear That Something Will Go Wrong with the Baby 

Assuming I can get pregnant and carry a child to term, there's that fear buried deep within my mind that something could go wrong with the baby. I know that, no matter what, my child would be beautiful and loved in my eyes. That we would do whatever we had to. But I know myself, and it makes me nervous to think about all of the bajillion things that could go wrong with a little one (especially over the course of their life and infancy). But I know that's no way to live life, so I talk about this fear now in order to help myself process and find peace here, long before a baby is actually on the way.

9. The Fear of Raising a Child in This World 

As a high school teacher, I can tell you with the utmost confidence: this world is changing....and I'm not sure it's for the better. I spend my days with kids who are dealing with so much more than we dealt with when we were growing up. The world is more broken than ever, and filled with so much sadness, violence, heartache, and filth that it just hurts me to think about helping a kid navigate through life. Sometimes it's downright scary to think about bringing a kid into this world. But then I remember the call to be a light in the darkness, and to go and make disciples: and it's pretty cool to think about the way the Lord could use our kids to further his kingdom. And it will be such a joy to watch that someday.

Why I'm Sharing this in a Real and Vulnerable Way:

 It's not to talk me or anyone else out of having a kid. On the contrary, it's to help me and others who feel the same to realize that being afraid isn't something to hide; that it's okay, and something that can be talked about. Admitting our fears helps us process these things, and acknowledge what will change. It helps us appreciate and enjoy the season we are in right now. It helps us recognize the struggle and heartache of the women around us whose heart may fall every time they're asked the "baby" question: forced to answer while they hide and wrestle with miscarriages or fertility struggles. While there is definitely a time and place for protecting our hearts from oversharing with just anyone, it is my hope that my vulnerability will empower other women of all ages to support and encourage each other within meaningful friendships, to be real about what motherhood or other areas of fear look like, and to share how they've met these fears head on. To be sincere and authentic.

And while I'm admitting these fears to you, they are not deal breakers for me. Though I'm not a momma yet, and don't plan to be for a little while longer, I trust in a plan much greater than my own: and that is what gives me hope and peace in the midst of fears. I recognize that these fears may not go away, even when I'm "baby ready". I trust in God's perfect timing. I trust that the nine months of pregnancy will give me time to feel confident about having a baby someday. I know that all my fears will be worth it in the end. So very worth it.


"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 

Here's a fun little update for you! In June of 2016 (not quite four months after this post, I got pregnant! Eli joined us on February 23rd, 2017. If you're wondering about my heart change and journey between this post and being ready for pregnancy, check out How I Knew I Was Ready for a Baby. I also wrote a reflection on how all of these fears actually turned out and what being a mom is really like. Check it out!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Five on Friday: Love, Laughter, and Long Walks

You know it's been a good week when the top three things that come to your mind are love, laughter, and long walks. Even though I've actually had to work all five weekdays, it's been a great week full of some of my very favorite things and people. I am thankful for each and every day in this phase of my life as a post-college, young-married, pre-baby kinda gal. I look forward to the future with excitement and hope, but I'm making the most of things right where I'm at. Here's what we've been up to this week! 

1. Game Nights and Friend Dinners

Aaron and I have gone through many seasons of friendships- some that have been very hard and some that have made us extremely grateful. Just this last week, we've been really living out our 2016 dreams to "play more, sing more, go on more walks, and spend less time on our phones". We've enjoyed hours of Gotcha, Rook, tennis in the dark, and just sharing life and meals together with some cherished friends and couples that we just "click" with. Thankful for them!

2. Bachelor Watch Parties

I never watched a single season of The Bachelor until my farmer friend Chris Soules came along....and now it has become a weekly social event for us and several of our friends. I fell in love with Becca on Chris's season (and so did he, but he picked the wrong girl). Then of course we had to watch Kaitlyn's season where I just adored Ben H. So of course, we're watching this season too. While I do not at all condone the idea of dating multiple people at once, and I totally get that we only see what the TV producers want us to, I do think that some good relationships (insert Sean and Catherine here) have come out of the show. We don't let The Bachelor dictate our lives: we usually watch it the next night on Hulu. More than anything, it's mindless background and a reason for us to get together, share laughs and cookies, and have interesting discussions about what true love looks like.

3. The Other (Tamer) Side of Vegas

Since my last true personal "five on Friday" update, we returned from an amazing long weekend in Vegas. I mentioned the other day that I legitimately felt semi-judged by others when I told them that we went to Vegas for vacation. In the case that you've got a stereotype of Vegas in your brain, or if you're just looking for a way to experience another side of "sin city", check out this post for travel tips and ideas for the perfect trip on a budget. It may just convince you to hop on a plane- which is never a bad idea!

4. Getting "Wyld"

On Sunday, we hosted our annual YoungLife banquet where we shared more about this year in YoungLife and how we have seen the Lord at work. There are lots of exciting things going on in the ministry, particularly the fact that WyldLife is starting- which is the middle school version of YoungLife. Their club is unique in the fact that it meets after school, at the school. We couldn't be more thrilled about the opportunity to step into kids' lives during their middle school years: a time when they haven't necessarily gotten involved in all of the yuck just yet. If we can help them feel known and loved as just a small glimpse of how much they are known and loved by a Savior who desires a relationship with them, then we will be doing okay. My hubby is heading up this ministry, alongside some wonderful teachers, and I couldn't be more proud as I cheer them on!

5.  Long Walks and Beautiful Weather

Last weekend was just gorgeous with a capital G here in Missouri. I mean seriously, the warm weather must have followed us here from Las Vegas! (It was so nice I even washed my car, Bella, which I named before Twilight was a thing.) I said no to anything school-related, didn't do much for this blog, and instead spent hours and hours outside on patio lunch dates and long walks full of great conversation. I love running when I'm looking to burn lots of calories, but there is something so wonderful and about getting some steps in on a walk while also talking about life, love, and goals without being totally out of breath. I'm looking forward to a whole summer full of wonderful walk weather with my hubby, friends, and mom.

Happy weekend, y'all! I hope it's full of a whole lot of laugher and love. Thanks for stopping by!


I'm linking up with A. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeUniquely UnfoldedGrace and Love Blog,  Running for Cupcakesand Life in Leggings.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Adding Light to Your Home Decor: A Guest Post

Today, I'm excited to be sharing the words of my friend Anna on the blog. When Aaron and I first bought our home, we loved the cabin-like feel of things, but we also realized that the oak trim meant that we needed to find some ways to bring more light into the room. Thanks, Anna, for these home interior tips! 

Adding Light to Your Home Decor

No home interior looks its best unless it is properly lit. Light is an important factor that shouldn't be underestimated. If you are looking for more ways to add light to your rooms, we suggest you follow our tips and tricks down below. Happy reading!

Adding Light to Your Home Decor

Brighten up your carpets. If you have carpets, make sure they come in nice, light colors. Heavy fabrics can make your rooms appear a little overwhelming, not to mention dark. Go with cotton and linen. Steer clear of brocades and velvets.

Lighten up those walls. It goes without saying that you should paint your walls light colors if you want your living space to appear brighter. Choose white, pink, pale blue, light yellow, etc. Common knowledge tells us that light colors reflect natural light. On that note, metallic finishes, blue-grays and cool tones will be your best choice. Use reflective paints for your ceilings.

Buy bright furniture. Aside from your walls, your furniture should also be bright. Get love seats, sofas and armchairs in light tones. Feel free to use dark colors for smaller pieces, such as ottomans and stools. When it comes to pillows, cushions and wall hangings, opt for cheerful colors and designs.

Add mirrors. Mirrors are powerful tools that serve a greater purpose than just cluing us in on how we look today. In Feng Shui, mirrors are irreplaceable gadgets that serve to bring abundance and even double your happiness, health and wealth. Don't underestimate the power of mirrors. Add a few large pieces on the wall that is opposite your windows to add more light to your room. As you know, mirrors reflect light, which makes them perfect additions for any living space, big or small.

Use a single drapery. Even if you have big windows, your curtains may be blocking sunlight. Avoid using double sets because they will darken your room. Instead go with a single drapery. Use light colors or go for sheer curtains.

Choose blinds over curtains. A huge advantage of blinds is that they let you control how much light comes in during the day. Your best bet is Venetian blinds, but you get ones that best fit your budget and needs. It is important to choose the right fixtures. Inadequate window treatments can negatively affect your room.

Add skylights. Leave this as your last resort. Adding a skylight is a costly improvement. Yet it can significantly brighten up the living space. Furthermore, it will reduce electricity costs. Because you don't want to spend a fortune on skylights, make sure to install only a few. Areas you want to focus on are your bathroom, living room and kitchen, that is, the rooms you use most often. There is no need to add a skylight to your bedroom. Since you use it mostly to catch some Z's at night, there is no need to provide extra light.

Keep things clean. Some light fixtures show dirt more easily. That can only make your room unappealing and uninviting. Make it a habit to keep your things neat and clean. Also, don't let clutter overpower your interior. The fewer things you keep out on display, the more spacious your room will seem.

Use bedside lamps. If there are dark corners in your living space that need brightening up, just place a lamp. There is no need to keep the lamp on all day long. Turn it on in the evenings.

Use these little tips and hints from AfterTheBuilders SW14 to lighten up your home interior like a pro. You will be astonished by the results.

Thanks for your words, Anna! Home decor is much fun, and light makes a huge difference. These are amazing tips, and I plan to keep this in mind while doing our decorating. Check out Anna's decorating service if you're in the UK


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #18

Hey there, friends! Welcome back to another week of The Alder Collective! As I mentioned last Tuesday, I was actually sitting on a plane when this link up went live last week. We had a glorious time on our trip to Vegas. In case you missed it, here's my most post on the trip: The Other Side of Vegas: A Travel Guide. I really do think the city has a lot more to offer than people think. We've got the travel bug, and are already planning the finishing details on our Spring Break trip, which is coming up soon! In non-travel news, it's almost time to think about prettying up the backyard. Here are some photos from what we did last year, as well as some tips for bringing beauty to your own backyard! Have a great week!


Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:

Clockwise from top left:

Each week, we'll pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Other Side of Vegas: A Travel Guide

This post contains affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. All opinions are my own! 
For more info, check out my disclosure policy.

If you'd like to have a GPS-Guided version of this article, check out the app on GPSmyCity.

Let's face it, Vegas can get kind of a bad rap. Mention that you're going on a trip there and people automatically assume you'll be carelessly gambling away thousands and partying drunk until dawn. While you could definitely do these things if you'd like, that's not necessarily everyone's scene. I've been to Vegas about five times now, once as a little kid, once as senior in high school, and then three times since I've been 21. If you're like me, and are looking for a slightly different Vegas experience, here are some reasons you should still visit (and things to do while you're there). Vegas can be an excellent, budget friendly travel destination!

Why You Should Visit

The Weather: 

We just returned from a late February visit to Vegas, and it was 75 and sunny every day we were there. If you're looking for a great place to soak up some sun poolside, Vegas is a great choice. You don't have to worry about rain, and though it can get really hot in the summer, it's a dry heat. So if you're from Missouri or any other super humid place, Vegas's 100 degree temps feel like nothing. Fall and early spring are also great times to visit.

The Affordability: 

We used our Southwest points to fly to Vegas, partly because it was so dang cheap to fly there from Kansas City. If you're looking for a warmer getaway, Vegas is a great option because they are always having good flight deals (even if you aren't booking with points). It is substantially cheaper than a Florida flight if you're midwesterners like us. Once you actually get to Vegas, hotels are always really cheap- mainly because they want you to stay and gamble. But that's not a requirement- so book those $30 a night rooms. If you book with a player's card (even if you really never gamble), you can get even cheaper deals!

The Freedom: 

Everything is open all of the time. Want to go eat something at midnight? No problem. Want to go play the slots for a few minutes? You can 24 hours a day. Feel like going shopping? Shops don't close until midnight. And if you're an early riser, there's always something to do then too. There is a little bit of something for everyone.

The High Roller

Things to Do

Red Rock Canyon

We didn't actually go here on this trip, but I am friends with some Vegas locals who say Red Rock Canyon is absolutely amazing and breathtaking. There are lots of hiking options (and we already discussed how the weather is perfect). You just pay a flat fee to drive your car through the loop, and it could make for a family friendly trip to get a little exercise and see some breathtaking views of the mountains and the city!

The Link and High Roller

The Link is an area of the strip that has been redone. It's very clean and well-kept, and there are no panhandlers allowed. There are several reasonably priced restaurants and shopping areas within this chunk of the strip, which is located in connection with the Flamingo and Link Casinos and Hotels. Send the gamblers off to the casinos, and then enjoy a Sprinkles Cupcake or buy some new clothes in this area. (Also, a 24 hr Cupcake ATM is a thing in there's that!)
Las Vegas High Roller
The View of the Strip from the High Roller! Our Valentine's Day Date. 
You can also ride the High Roller up to get a pretty awesome view of the strip. It's less than two years old and is the the highest Ferris Wheel in the world. If you go during the day time, it's cheaper, though I'm sure the night view is amazing. They also offer a local's discount, so if you know someone who lives in Las Vegas (who want to befriend someone who is), you can get an extra 50% off your ticket price!

The Hoover Dam

Throw the kids in the rental car and head to Hoover Dam for a little history lesson and some incredible views. Hard to believe that the construction began in 1931! There are lots of options for tours and different Hoover Dam experiences. We just pulled over and parked in one of the free parking areas long enough to walk around and see things, but you can make it a longer experience if you'd like!

Lake Mead

Located about 24 miles off of the Vegas Strip, Lake Mead is the place to go for some fun on the water. You can rent boats, waterski, jetski, or just enjoy cruising around on the largest water reservoir in the US (when it's full). This reservoir is created by the Hoover Dam.

Bellagio Fountains at Night

Bellagio Fountains

No matter how many times I visit Vegas, there is always something about the Bellagio Fountains that just mesmerizes me. I'm always so impressed with the choreographed dancing fountains with lights, and there's nothing quite like standing in front of them on a cooler evening once the sun has gone down. I could seriously sit and watch them all day...and the shows are free entertainment every 15 minutes from 8pm- midnight. There are also shows during the day at less frequent intervals.

Fremont Street and Old Vegas

If you'd still like to do a little bit of gambling, I would recommend taking a rental car (which I'd recommend getting) or hopping on a bus or shuttle (which are often free with certain hotels) down to "Old Vegas". In the Fremont area, there is a lot to see, and the gambling is considerably cheaper. We went down a couple of times to find penny and nickel video poker, as well as $3 Blackjack. I don't mind gambling just a little bit for entertainment, and I could happily put in $20 and play all night on some nickel poker. Also, they serve you free drinks while you are playing, so you can take advantage of that if you'd like.
I was getting gutsy and actually playing five in on my nickel poker. I won $12 and was pretty happy! 


I haven't actually gone to a Las Vegas show, because I'm happy enough just walking the strip and hanging out by the pool. But there are many people who live and die by Las Vegas shows and the gambling alternative they offer. You can go to everything from Cirque du Soleil to Magic to Comedy or just concerts in general. You may even want to plan your Vegas visit around a certain show or artist! If you're looking to book shows at a discount without breaking the bank, look into Tix4Tonight, which can save you a considerable amount! Save over $39 on single tickets to select Cirque du Soleil shows. Save Over 40% on 4 ticket packages to select shows.

The Food and Buffets

Tix4Tonight also has discounts on the big name Vegas buffets, which are my favorite because I like to sample basically every dessert they have (and there are a lot!) Vegas buffets can be pricey, but they are worth it if you like sampling lots of different types of food and enjoying seafood and high quality meats. You can also eat once and be set for the entire day if you time it right. Brunch and lunch buffets are cheaper than dinner, and weeknights are cheaper than weekends (just like most anything you do in Vegas is cheaper on weeknights). We enjoyed the Bellagio Buffet while we were there, and I've also had the Spice Market (Planet Hollywood) and Aria Buffets. So good!

Exploring the Strip

Honestly, one of my absolute favorite things to do in Vegas is just to walk up and down the Strip (which is actually Las Vegas Boulevard, but it's hard to miss). Every casino has a different theme and decor, from Paris, to New York, to Rome, to Egypt and more- you feel like you're honestly traveling the world in a matter of blocks. It's a very pedestrian friendly area, and there are lots of people pushing strollers around. Good shopping areas are the Forum Shops, the shops across from Bally's, and the Planet Hollywood Shops. Stay as close as you can to the Strip, and you'll never be farther than walking distance from plenty of places to walk and explore. Also, it's AMAZING in the morning. Empty and beautiful and peaceful- the perfect place for a morning run.

Fremont Casino

General Recommendations

1. Rent a car.

If it's at all possible, rent a car. It can be pricey to take a taxi to and from the airport. Parking is free, and having a car gives you the ability to eat and gamble off the strip, which saves you money! Plus, having a car means you can go explore Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and even the Grand Canyon if you feel up for the four hour drive!

2. Stay as close to the Strip as you can.

Though you'll love having the freedom of the rental car, it's nice to be able to walk anywhere you may want to, especially if everyone if your party is going to be doing some drinking.

3. Visit during the week if you can.

Food, hotels, and flights will all be cheaper.

4. Visiting in any season is nice, but it's especially nice during the late spring and fall. 

Check your hotel website to see when their pools are open. Ours was open year round and heated at the Holiday Inn Desert Club Resort (which we stayed in for free because of an IHG promotion!).

5. Set a gambling/entertainment budget.

If you do plan to gamble, bring only the amount of cash you want to spend. When it's gambled away, you're done. If you win a little, you can play more, or treat yourself to a new purse or nice dinner. Don't expect to win, just let it be a fun surprise if you do.

6. If you come from the east, stay on your normal time zone sleep schedule.

If you do this, you'll be an hour or two or three ahead of the rest of the Vegas crowd, which makes for peaceful, less crowded mornings with cheaper prices!

If you'd like to have a GPS-Guided version of this article, check out the app on GPSmyCity.

There's a little something for everyone in Vegas. You can make it fun with kids, with a whole family, with a couple, or with really anyone- and it can be a really affordable travel destination. Figure out what you'd most like to do, and then relax and enjoy the freedom of a fun vacation! If you've got questions, let me know! 

Here are some other travel posts you may like: 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Five Things I Love About Traveling

Out of the many things I've loved doing with my husband these last few years, one of my very favorites has been traveling all over the place on lots of budget friendly trips. From our sixteen day adventure to Europe with backpacks to our Spring Break Road Trips and fully point-paid trips, travel has been a huge (and incredibly fun) part of our marriage. If you follow along on Instagram, you got a few glimpses of the four days we spent in Vegas this week, and I'll be sharing more of them next week when I share some of the sides of Vegas that you may not know about. After reflecting on our trip, and taking a moment to send up a little hallelujah for the short week of school this week, I'm giving traveling a little shout out today on the blog, along with a collection of some of my best travel tips. Here are five things I truly love about traveling (and why I think you'd love it too!)

Reasons to Love Travel. Las Vegas Strip

1. The Chance to See the World

It's crazy to think about how many people haven't even been out of their state, much less seen the rest of the United States. I was blessed as a child to grow up going on lots of vacations to places like Washington DC, DisneyWorld, and the ocean, but I know that's not always the norm. I love the opportunity that travel brings to explore and to realize that there is so much out there that is different than all I've known. I hadn't been out of the country until our Honeymoon to Cancun, and now I have a major travel bug with lots of foreign countries still on my list. Excited to knock Greece off the list this summer!

2. The Perfect (Much-Needed) Getaway

I love my job, my home, and the vast majority of my life right now...but let's be real: everyone needs a little escape sometimes. Traveling is the perfect way to put down the papers, turn off the computer, and simply take some time to unwind, read a book, lay by a beach, or just step away from the reality of everyday life. I mean seriously, how beautiful is this place where we rung in 2015?

3. The Element of Adventure

While I definitely do my share of planning before our trips, there is something so fun about the spontaneity and adventure that trips bring. Some of my very favorite travel moments have been ones that weren't planned, or necessary even desired- but they quickly become wonderful memories full of laughter and fun. From hacking into Hulu to watch the Bachelorette finale overseas, to finding a DSLR camera on the side of the road during a bathroom pitstop, our vacations have never been boring!

4. The Life-long Memories

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I would rather have a lifetime full of travel memories and seeing the world than a big house full of lots of stuff. I would much rather spend money on travel than pretty much anything else, and I truly treasure all of the memories that we've had thus far. To us, travel is something worth budgeting for and investing in....with a lot of travel points thrown in the mix to make things nice and cheap!

What better way to track your travels across the nation than with a travel photo map? Here's how to make your own

5. The Chance to Appreciate What I Take for Granted

One of the very first posts I wrote after returning home from Europe was this post on Five Things I Took for Granted. Traveling helps me to remember just how great things really are at home, and how blessed I am to have running free water and a car that I can hop in and drive whenever I want. Oh, and free parking and bathrooms are great too, am I right? I loved seeing the culture in all of the different countries that  we visited, and I honestly feel like I'm a better, more understanding and appreciative person because of our journeys.

I'm slightly obsessed with travel research and planning, especially when it comes to doing so with points and a limited budget. If you'd like some help or travel advice, let me know. I'd love to help!


Here are some other posts on travel (and how we make it cheap) that you may like:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #17

We just got home from an amazing trip to Las Vegas. I got some much needed relaxation, soaked up some rays, and even had to time to play with my favorite baby while we were there. I hope your long weekend was just as wonderful! Looking forward to a short week this week, and a lot more free time than our last few weeks at school have had. Thanks for joining us! I can't wait to see all of your amazing posts.


Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:

Each week, we'll pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Five on Friday: Parents, Planes, and Party Time!

I'm not going to sugar coat it....this week could quite possibly have been the busiest week of my life. And I'll admit it- I sort of did it to myself. I just can't help my overeager, gotta make it all work, live it to the fullest approach to life. And parent teacher conferences aren't exactly optional. Let's just say that being out of town, throwing a Superbowl party, two nights of conferences,  a YoungLife Club, and meetings can make five nights in a row seem pretty full. But it's all good...because now we have a glorious five day weekend ahead! Read on to see the highlights of the last week, complete with some funny photos and videos!

The Teacher Bball Squad. (Photo and Photo Idea Cred: jordanenglishkc )

1. Courtwarming Movin' and Groovin'

One of the things I love most about teaching high school is getting to celebrate some really wonderful, fun weeks with kiddos. Homecoming and Courtwarming are my favorite, as we celebrate awesome students, cheer them on in sports, and of course have some really crazy dress up days. If you follow me on Instagram, you got to see a few fun 80s outfits and tropical apparel. Courtwarming is probably my favorite, as I take part in both the Teacher/Senior Basketball Game and the Staffires staff dance. Check out this video for a good laugh! (I'm on the right side of the video once we leave the circle and actually start dancing.)

2. Softball Conference

I literally ran out of the assembly on Friday (and sadly missed the Staffire picture) to jump in a car and head to Columbia. I spent Friday and Saturday enjoying time with the other coaches and learning lots and lots about the best ways to approach coaching a crew of freshman girls. I'm excited to put some of the things I learned into practice, especially the team-building side after my not-so-drama-free crew of freshman girls this year. It was also fun to spend time with my high school softball coach, who is still coaching and was also at the conference!

Mizzou Softball Practice

3. Vegas Getaway

The best part of this crazy week was looking forward to our Vegas trip with friends. I know Vegas gets a bad rap, but I honestly think that it's a lot of fun...even if you aren't a big drinker or gambler. Set a budget, and don't be willing to spend or play with more than that, and you're good! Also, it's going to be 75 degrees there, so I'll take it! We haven't been on a plane since August when we came home from Europe, so I'm more than ready to be taking off for an adventure! It doesn't hurt that I've got two books I'm going to read FOR FUN this break. That never happens, people. I can't wait.

Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas
Bellagio Fountains for the Win! Our last visit was a part of our Southwest Spring Break Trip

4. Blogging Breaks

If you keep up with the blog, you know that I usually run a post on Monday, and then do the Alder Collective Link Party on Tuesday and a "Five on Friday" post, like today's, on Friday. I also have a Moments guest post here or there as well to shake up the schedule. But here lately, I haven't done Monday posts. This is a result of a busy few weeks, and the awareness that sometimes I just need to put away my computer and be present. If I can pre-plan, I do, but the world isn't going to stop turning just because I can't post, and I've had to teach and give myself grace in that. I'm so thankful you're here and I love sharing this space with you, so I'll try to be as consistent as I can. Just know that if I don't show up it's because I need a little unplugged break or that I've been busy enjoying the moment. This helps me feel recharged and ready to share more the next time!

With the so, so snuggly Bandit! 

5. YoungLife is Back!

Another part of our crazy week was kicking off this semester of YoungLife Club. It takes some work, but it is oh so worth it to see the way that the Lord shows up and always uses us crazy people for His will. This week, I had the honor of sharing the 10 minute or so talk at the end of club. Though we start our evening with songs like Shut Up and Dance and Thinking Out Loud, we put thought and symbolism into all that we do. As we transition to the end of the night, we pray, sing a worship song, and then have a short talk. This week, I shared with kids that they were fully known and fully loved by Jesus. After club, a girl tweeted one of my quotes from the talk, and also reached out to me to let me know that she really connected with some things I had to say. I'm so thankful that God shows up to speak through me and affect others, even when I'm worried that I'll mess it up.
I hope this weekend brings you lots of wonderful time to be present with others- to laugh and to love and to feel fully known in the best kind of way. Thanks for stopping by! 


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This picture showed up on my timehop today. Three years ago we were taking engagement pictures- young and naive with no...
Posted by Currently, Kelsie on Thursday, February 11, 2016

I'm linking up with A. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeUniquely UnfoldedGrace and Love Blog,  Running for CupcakesMomfessionals, and Life in Leggings.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Moment with Rubi: When Independence is Lonely

My friend, Rubi, is a 20 something looking to share her stories about figuring out this whole "adult" thing (and aren't we all trying to figure out "adulting"?). I met Rubi online through some blogging groups, and I love the way she shares her heart about careers, college, relationships, and adulthood on her blog: When Life Gives You Rubi. I'm so excited to have her sharing her words in today's Moments post! 

This past August marked one year of me living in Washington DC, and five years since I have lived in the place I once called home. At eighteen years old I did what was always expected of me, I moved away from everything I knew to attend college and get away from the small town where nothing ever changes.

Living 400 miles away from home quickly led to me feeling comfortable with being on my own, and although I wasn’t financially independent, emotionally I had figured out a method to not miss those that I left behind. My junior year of college was spent studying in an English university, which is what ultimately led me to equate success and happiness with how much space I could put between myself and the place I grew up.

Now twenty three years old, my life is less about school rallies and study sessions and much more focused on banking overtime hours while still worrying if I’ll be able to cover my expenses. Having moved to Washington DC, a city known to be just as expensive as New York, with nothing more than one thousand dollars, I’m grateful everyday for all the opportunities I’ve stumbled upon. Now past my one year anniversary here, I find myself in my dream apartment, with a job that pays relatively well, all while working towards earning my masters. The only problem is that despite all my success, I find myself incredibly lonely at times.

Lately I’ve been refocusing my blog’s purpose, realizing that my audience is women age 18-24. Women in their most defining years are checking into my blog daily, which caused me to realize that I wanted my website to be nothing like anyone else’s. While other bloggers photographed their picture perfect apartments and handed out relationship advice, I wanted to focus on all the things that make our twenties so damn hard. At the top of that list? How freaking lonely independence can be!

While everyone agrees that our twenties are the time to find ourselves, make mistakes and experience as much as we can, there’s an undercover pressure to keep up with the accomplishments of everyone around us. Nobody congratulates you for saving enough money to travel the world, at least nobody I know. Milestones in adulthood equate graduating college, then maybe graduating again, moving away from home, transitioning into living without roommates, until eventually you reach the ultimate goal, finding one person to love.

It’s ironic that what everyone really wants is a person to complete them, while also being bombarded with messages that we need to be strong, independent women. Last year made the mistake of following the crowd and pouring all my energy into one person. My first year in DC was spent forming memories and bonds with a man, and while I’m not sure if I regret it, it definitely played a part into where I stand today.

My advice for other women who find themselves in a new city, or even the one they’ve always lived in, is to focus less on forming one bond and more on forming a community.

Although I’m not proposing we go back in time and live with our parents for all eternity, more efforts need to be paid to those people in our life who risk it all in order to be conventionally successful. Reach out to your college bestie who moved to the city. Call your friend who always looks to be so busy with earning their second degree. Chances are behind those motivational quotes they post on Instagram are women who feel like giving up at times, yet don’t speak up because how could they possibly complain when they are living the dream?

During one of my not so out of the ordinary pep talks to myself, I discovered exactly how to describe having it all really feels like. Yes I’m appreciative for my job and amazing masters programs I am a part of. Yes I am thankful everyday for the experiences I have thanks to this city. But how do I explain to those who see my life as ideal that living the dream feels a lot more like surviving?

This post has no miracle cure for having it all and being able to enjoy every moment of it. I really do have it all, everything except a group of amazing local friends to enjoy the small moments with. If you’re reading this in your lonely apartment somewhere, know that it doesn’t have to be that way. As scary it as seems, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do for yourself.

If you’re like me, you’ve entered 2016 with a list of goals. As you might see on my blog, creating a space for twenty somethings to find relatable, nonjudgemental content is at the top of my list. Close in second place is building a community around myself, because while being independent is important, sometimes you just need a shoulder to lean on. If you’re lucky enough to have a group of friends around you, remind them how much they mean to you and reach out during the busiest moments in their life.

For those of us who are still working on finding our Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, have faith in knowing that based on what you’ve accomplished thus far, you are worthy and capable of forming lasting relationships with people who will push you to strive your best and comfort you when you feel your worst. Today may feel like I’m you’re surviving my dream, but at least you have the gift of living it.

Thanks for sharing such truth, Rubi! It is definitely hard to feel lost in the world of "post-college" as a 20 something who is mixed in with the rest of the working world. For more from Rubi, check her out on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook

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