The Beginnings of Our Busy (And 3 Things I’m Into)

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The plaid! Father-son time! I can’t handle all the cuteness!

I wrote Monday’s post about ADHD and DORE last Friday and was feeling all the good feelings about where we were with the adoption transition.  Well, that couldn’t last too long, could it?

I’m not a fan of a super busy lifestyle.  In fact, did you know there’s a thing called Busy Lifestyle Syndrome? You start having memory lapses, feel overwhelmed and can’t handle stress. It’s not something to aspire to.

But we all have those weeks, right? Well, mine went sort of like this.

Friday was Halloween so I got all 3 kids ready and carted them around for a few hours (yes, I know, all of you other parents did this too.  Gold star, everyone!). I helped organize a coffee event for our church on Sunday so I organized a bunch of that on Saturday, did some laundry and got the kids to my niece’s birthday party Saturday night.

Sunday morning we attended two services, set up the church for the event, ate lunch, finished setting up for the event, attended and helped host the coffee event. I dumped all the decorations back at my mom’s and did a quick grocery store run while my sister and her husband (!) agreed to watch the kids a little longer.  I think I finally stopped about 8pm after a full day of running around. Did I mention that Scott worked 36 hours over the weekend while all this was happening?

Monday was Lexi’s birthday so I had to get cupcakes to her lunch and then host the family for dinner Monday night.

Tuesday I was gone at the office from 7am to 6pm (thank you Charlotte traffic for continually getting worse), grabbed some food at Moe’s, did an hour of algebra with Emma and then crashed.

I’m not bemoaning any of that. I love, love, love to do all of those things (OK, not laundry or traffic. And yes, even algebra.). I’m just saying all of that in 5 days was a lot.  All of that meant I was short on patience and hurrying through everything.

Monday evening I thought all of the progress we had made with the adoption transition must have went out the door.  By Monday night, Lexi was crying in her room asking why we ever adopted and Jac0b was talking about leaving as soon as he was 18.  Not the kind of soul-nourishing conversations I wanted to be having during a busy few days. (We’re fine. Really.)

I’m exhausted this week and it’s only Wednesday.

I know the past few posts have been super positive and it seems like things are going well, and they are.  But let’s be clear, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  And this is not even adoption related, really. We all have busy seasons and November is always, always ours.

So, I suppose this is simply a confessional post, but I thought I’d share 3 (super unspiritual) things that I’m into right now that are helping to lighten the load.

The Mindy Project

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Scott and I have been blowing through this show on Hulu.  Admittedly, it’s crass at times, but it’s funny. Really funny. Mindy + Danny 4EVA

Has anyone read Mindy’s book? I’m wondering if it’s worth the time. As much as I enjoy the show, it seems like I would like it.

Taylor Swift’s 1989

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Taylor Swift’s new album is on repeat everywhere I go. I’m obsessed with “Blank”. What’s your favorite?

Relay App

I saw Jen Hatmaker post about this new app Relay that has animated gifs you can text your friends. I had Lexi download it and we’re having a blast on it together. Look me up as @amyjbennett if you’d like to have some nonsensical fun.

 

So, there. I’m keeping sane by silly things and thought I’d share.  Happy Hump Day, folks!

What I’m Into – November 2013

November was a busy month of birthday parties capped off with Thanksgiving.  I read a lot and watched Netflix with the family to decompress.  I don’t have a ton of stuff to share but let’s get to it!

Online Shopping

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I know this might be an odd thing to say I’m into, but I’ve definitely been into online shopping.  Given today is Cyber Monday, I thought it worth mentioning.  I bought all the girls birthday presents online and the only Black Friday shopping I did was some poinsettias from Lowe’s.  The rest was done from the comfort of my office chair.  Even when we did go out for a few presents this weekend, we found that there were better deals online.  And who doesn’t love to have a bunch of boxes show up on your front porch?

If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account, we’ve found it pays for itself easily.  Also, did you see they’re testing 30 minute deliveries with drones.  I’d be into that.

A serious footnote: I’ve been wrestling with all of this consumerism this holiday season given this post I wrote about Catching Fire. I can’t seem to find my way through it yet and life marches on—we’re crossing our Christmas list off the only way we know for now. Maybe I’ll write more tomorrow on Fair Trade Tuesday.

 

Earthpaste Toothpaste

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Soo…I never thought I’d be including this, but I really am into this natural toothpaste called Earthpaste.  I got it as a free gift on one of the eBook bundles.  It’s made out of clay and has no foaming agents.  At first, I was completely turned off.  But honestly, the more I use it, the more I prefer it to traditional toothpaste. 

I don’t feel like my mouth gets as icky in between brushes, I feel like my breath is better and my friend Becky that uses it too said it’s really helped her teeth unlike any others she’d tried.  I have it in the lemon flavor but it also comes in peppermint, wintergreen, cinnamon, and spearmint.

 

Mocha Brownies

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Now let me give you a good reason to need toothpaste…Pioneer Woman’s mocha brownies.  I’ve made these several times in the past, but again for Emma’s birthday this month after we were caked-out.  It always gets rave reviews, but be ready for a serious sugar rush!  As you can see, they’re more icing than brownies!

 

Christmas Music

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We started decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving so I’ve already been into Christmas music.  I’m not one of those crazed Christmas music fans, but it doesn’t bother me to hear it early either.  I found a few good lists on Spotify (FREE music!) that are perfect background music for the season.

 

Books

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I didn’t read a ton, but I did manage to complete a few books.  I admit, this month’s books are a little unfair.  I read a few Advanced Reader’s Copies I got from Allume. 

Restless – Jennie Allen’s book coming out in January is a next step from her book Anything.  It’s an answer to those calls you have way down deep that there’s something more.  I was underlining this one like crazy—something I only do when a book is one of my favorites.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode – Crystal Paine’s book is another January release.  If you’ve read Money Saving Mom for long, you know Crystal is like a productivity ninja.  This book is all of her productivity secrets rolled together.  I’ve learned so much from her over the years and I can’t imagine this wouldn’t motivate someone.  She aims to stress less, sleep more and restore your passion.  I highly recommend it.

If You Find Me – I read this YA fiction after reading a passing social media comment about it.  It was ok but nothing to rave over.  It had some sensitive subjects in it, but I was drawn to the theme of adoption.  It wasn’t terrible, but I can’t say I highly recommend it either.

Speaking of books, I’m reading through Ann Voskamp’s Advent book The Greatest Gift his month and posting about it on the Facebook page.  Join me there!

 

What have YOU been into this month?


Check out more What I’m Into posts over at Hopeful Leigh

The Suite Life of Emma and Lexi

One place you should know that I come from is a big youth group from the 90’s.  And one result of that is I have loved DCTalk for oh, about 20 years. More importantly, I have come to love TobyMac who has since gone solo—quite successfully, I might add.

My girls have caught the bug for TobyMac’s music because *ahem* I might play it a lot at my desk. The cool thing about Toby is that he really, really loves Jesus.  In fact, one of lyrics that still follows him around is from DCTalk’s “Jesus Freak”

Several years back another Christian band NewSong started The Winter Jam Tour, a Christian concert targeted at all those youth groups. For as long as I can remember, TobyMac has been involved and often as the headliner. 

Winter Jam was scheduled for Charlotte this past weekend.  I really, really wanted to go myself and Lexi really, really wanted to go hear TobyMac. She has a special affinity for his latest radio hit, “Me Without You”.  It’s a fantastic upbeat song with great lyrics.

The problem with going to Winter Jam is that they don’t sell tickets.  You have to wait in line all day outside the arena.  If you manage to get in, it’s just $10 at the door.  Youth groups from all over the Carolinas come and sit outside together.  I’m talking 20,000 people.

Once you get in, it’s another hour until the show starts and THEN the whole show is over 4 hours long.  TobyMac is the last one to sing.  Add in parking logistics and cost and you can see why I decided taking Emma and Lexi was just not feasible. 

 

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I probably could have forced the issue but it really wouldn’t have been pleasant.  I could have gone myself and gotten a babysitter but really, I wanted to go more for Lexi than myself.  Although, trust me, I wanted to go too.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon of the concert about 2pm—you know, when all those 20,000 people are already in line—and my sister and I both get a message from a friend we’ve known since grade school, but haven’t seen in YEARS, saying her company owns a suite and they have several unused tickets—with a parking pass–do we want them? 

Sign. me. up.

The only hiccup to the plan was that I had to get Lexi early from a birthday party scheduled to end at 8pm and we were late but ya’ll…every single worry about going was solved. 

I didn’t have to worry about parking because we had the pass. 

I didn’t have to worry about being late because they were reserved seats.  

We didn’t have to wait AT ALL with the kids. 

I didn’t have to pay for a ton of snacks over all those hours because they were provided in the suite. 

We had a large, comfortable space in case the kids got sleepy—which they did. 

It was just the best. ever. 

I’ve gone to a concert in a suite before but I don’t know, I just didn’t appreciate it as much as I did with kids this time.  As you can see, the kids settled in just fine.

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Poor thing, Lexi just about fell asleep during TobyMac’s set but you better believe when we heard the beginning of “Me Without You”, we were up dancing and singing along.  Turns out it was the very. last. song. of the night.  Being in the same room with TobyMac singing, a beat that you can feel, not just hear, 20,000 people singing along and your little girl in your arms singing with you?  The best ever.

I’ve heard that upwards of 2,000 people didn’t get in.  I honestly feel like crap I couldn’t invite the ones I knew into our suite.  All I know is to be SO GRATEFUL for what was given to us.  I can’t help but think once again God saw the desires of not just my heart, but Lexi’s little heart (and probably my sister’s too), and made it happen.  Jenny, thank you again so much for being part of that.  Great memories and SO THANKFUL.

Taylor Swift Concert

We’ve been planning this TS concert since the summer but then Taylor got sick and postponed.  My girls super-duper love Taylor but I got an extra bonus when I found out Danny Gokey was her first opening act in Charlotte.  Last minute, though, Lexi decided not to go.  I still cannot explain why.  She has yet to give any kind of explanation.  So my niece happily stepped in her place and we were off.

The meet and greet with Danny was before the concert and it was odd because we were the only four there.  We were in a small room.  And to be honest it was fast and a little awkward.  Normally Danny is super outgoing and talkative.  I’m not sure if it was the kids or that his manager was in the room or he could sense that I got totally nervous.  I’ve met Danny more times than I can count now and I really wasn’t nervous beforehand but I got super nervous when I saw him.  I just know he was either nervous or something because he wasn’t quite as bubbly as he has been in the past.  Anyway, he was still super gracious and took pictures with us and signed some stuff for us. DSC01759

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Remind me to burn that shirt and all it’s fluffiness, please.  I promise my waist line is in there somewhere.

Danny opened and was superb.  He sounded really solid but unfortunately was only given time for four songs.  NeedtoBreathe was next.  I saw them at Knights Castle after a baseball game a few years ago and that didn’t even compare to hearing them live in an arena.  They sang all my favorite songs and were just a joy to listen to.

When Taylor came out, it was already passed the girls’ bedtime.  They were slouching further and further down their chairs.  But when she came out, they were beside themselves.  Emma kept holding her arms close to her and smiling and alternately giving me hugs.  You could see the pure joy on her face and it was a great moment.

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Taylor is unbelievable in concert.  The only other person I’ve seen that compares is Reba McEntire.  Superb performer.  Amazing sets.  Amazing costumes.  And really?  Taylor sounded amazing. 

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A great, great night for us.

Spotify Review: So Good it Makes You Feel Bad

What in the world is Spotify?  That was my first though upon seeing it and probably your question right now too. I am super pumped about it and let me tell you why.  Well, let me tell you WHAT first.

When you think of Spotify, think of iTunes.  Now instead of there being an iTunes store, think of all your favorite music available for FREE.  Yes, FREE.  And not even a download is needed.

Just a quick search of Adele and all her albums show up:

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And…and…you can add almost any of them to any of your playlists.  WITHOUT BUYING THEM.

And…and…you have friends!  And you can subscribe to THEIR playlists.  For those of us that are playlist challenged, it’s fantastic…you get their playlist AND the music.  Below is my friend Sarah’s profile.  She published a “Let’s Dance” playlist.  I can see all the songs PLUS play them and PLUS add them as a playlist in my sidebar if I choose to subscribe to it.

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Is anyone getting how cool this is yet?  So what’s the catch?

Well, the free version has advertisements that play in between songs (which I have not found intrusive yet and I hate ads), a limited number of hours you can play it and no, not all the record labels have jumped on board so some songs are grayed out and you can’t play them.

There are 2 upgrade options.  The first is the Unlimited plan at $4.99 a month which removes the number of hours.  Then the Premium at $9.99 allows not only unlimited time but you can also listen to all these songs offline (you don’t have to be connected to WIFI) AND it will wirelessly sync your music from your computer in their mobile app.  No longer do you have to plug your iPod/iPhone up to your computer and sync the whole darn thing.

I can’t imagjne you’re not sold on this yet if you’re an iTunes user. They have some stiff competition here!  Now.  Spotify is invite only right now but I have great news!  I have some invites through my Klout perks I get.  You sign up for Klout (simply measures your online “worth”) and get an invite to Spotify as well.  If 5 of you happen to sign up, I get the Premium upgrade of Spotify.  Win-win.  Use THIS LINK to sign up.

Seriously, I was just telling (a different) Sarah this morning that I love it so much that I feel sneaky that I’m using it!  It’s been so engrained in our brains over the last 10 years to BUY YOUR MUSIC that playing music for FREE seems oh so wrong. But trust me, it’s all legit.  This has been around in Europe for years and it was just released in the US this week.

So go on, sign up and make some playlists.  Playlists challenged folks like me are counting on it!