Vaca with a Bab-ay!

Zach and I promised each other that no matter what this year we were going to take a family vacation. We haven't been on a real vacation that didn't include visiting family since we have been married- which will be FOUR years next month! *gasp* That paired with being a stay at home mom, Zach's full time job, seminary and new ministries we were LONG overdue. We ended up getting a killer deal at a resort in Myrtle Beach, SC and we packed up and headed there for a glorious week. Such a blast! People have been asking us what we did while we were there to which we replied "Uhhh, pretty much just lay on the beach or in the pool." No regrets. And, we got to see my sissy and her family and some long time friends too so win, win, win.

I decided to write down my thoughts/tips on family vacations with a little one as it is new territory for me and may come in handy for other young moms out there! Emmalynn just turned the big 1 and she is very mobile right now which presented some interesting challenges. Hope this blog can be helpful to you if you are in a similar boat! If you think it is too hard to vacation with a baby I hope this encourages you to try- the memories and family time are worth it.


We were traveling a long way- 17 hours- by car. We decided to travel by car to save some money and to allow us to have transportation during our week long stay in SC. Also, a car allowed us freedom to get a little comfy during our travel, sleep and stop when needed. We got to see some neat things along the way as well as make stops to get out and play in new cities.

Because we had such a long trip Zach and I chose to split the drive into two days. The first leg we started in the middle of the night while Emmy was asleep. We got a few hours of shut eye before we took off and by the time she woke up we had already accomplished around 8 hours of our trip. This allowed us to stop for breakfast once she was awake, play and get her changed before finishing out the remainder of leg one. We stopped in Knoxville, TN for the day around 1pm and had all day and night to rest and play at our hotel and a local park before finishing our drive the next morning! We purposely planned leg two to be the shorter of the two days so that it would feel more like a vacation day than just a travel day.

For entertainment during the drive we brought some kid DVDs to play on our laptop which helped to keep her attention and keep her happy. We also tried to pack a few newer toys or toys that she hadn't played with for a while as well. Also SNACKS are a life saver!


These are inevitable especially with kids. Something that I failed to do and will plan to do on our next trip is plan out where we plan to stop for lunch or dinner in advance. For little ones the park or a play place at a mall would be great. They need to get our their energy and this is a great way to do that. We ended up scrambling to find places to stop and I wished I had done some more planning. If you choose to stop at a park plan to pack a small cooler and a blanket for picnics and keep them easily accessible in the car. This was a huge money and time saver for us! This way we didn't also have to waste time looking for food options as it was already packed up in the car.


As you plan your travel and think about your actual time on vacation is is SO important for kids to try and stick to their regular schedule. We did our best to plan meals and stops around the times that Emmalynn is used to eating and napping. If you choose to stop at a park to play I would recommend setting your kids up for nap time as soon as you load back into the car if they still take afternoon naps. For Emmalynn this meant making sure she was dry, fed and didn't have any distractions around her so she could get a solid nap in. She is at the stage where she wants to constantly move so being strapped in her car seat is not ideal for her. Making the most of nap times was imperative to having a smooth drive time.


We booked an AWESOME deal at a beach resort through Groupon. I highly recommend this site and my family uses it often for various things. We booked our vacation during the "off season" and ended up getting a suite with a kitchen, living room and beach view balcony for under 1/3 of the original cost. Not only did we save on cost but we also had an awesome week with hardly any crowds of people at the pools and beach. Totally worth it! If you can try to plan your vacation during the off season that would be my recommendation.

In the future our family will aim to book a room that has access to a kitchen and living room space if possible. The kitchen was a HUGE money saver and made things a lot easier with our little one. By having an extra "hang out" space in the hotel room we were able to put Emmy down for her naps and bed time and still had the freedom to be active and not disturb her. Again- try your hardest to keep them on a schedule. Doing this made a ton of difference for us and we had little to no issues coming back home and adjusting to a post vacation schedule. Some days it was tempting to blow off her schedule to stay in the water longer but in the long run she was happier and we all had more fun when we stuck to a schedule. Worth it!

Also- check with your hotel about early check in times. Our hotel allowed us to check in a couple hours early and we got to head down to the beach once we checked in making a travel day feel like a partial vacation day!


Staying at a resort may not be something we are able to do always especially if we don't get such a killer deal. However, it was awesome being at one. In addition to being an elevator ride down to the ocean they also had multiple pools, a kiddie water park, free putt putt golf, a coffee shop and a couple of restaurants that would be an awesome choice for dinner if you didn't want to get back out.

We decided to check out other things to do in Myrtle Beach that were baby friendly. I ended up stumbling across another Groupon deal (I seriously love them) for a Children's Museum just minutes from our hotel. The babies LOVED it and it provided a couple of sand free hours of entertainment for us. Try to explore the area around you and look for deals and events through city websites!

Sorry this was long- I am sure there are tons of other tips but this was some of our experience. We had such an amazing time and I can't wait to travel even more in the future.



Sitting in a Starbucks tonight enjoying some much needed alone me time. Even though I am home full time now "me" time doesn't come often. I am blessed to have a husband who recognizes my need for alone time and pushes me out the door to get some. As I sit here tonight my heart and mind are just FULL. My thoughts seem jumbled. There has been so much going on lately and it makes it so hard to focus at times. Some things consuming my thoughts tonight are:

How do  I become a better mom? How do we raise Emmy and point her to the Cross each day- even though she is still so small?

Thankful for the awesome family pictures we were able to take this weekend!

Preparing in my mind a million to-do lists before our Thanksgiving trip to Vegas NEXT week

Feeling joyful that I will get to spend a whole week with my family and get to finally meet my niece. 

Thinking on the recent acts of terror worldwide and what our role as Christians is when it comes to refugees. Particularly the  Bible telling us to care for the least of these and not saying that the least of these are always the most safe people.

Amazed that next month is Christmas. My baby girl's first Christmas. And she will be 8 months old. Cue weeping. 

Asking continually God to show my family the next right step. Job. Place to live. Ministry. Life change. The next right thing in a list that seems a mile long. There seem to be so many options. Choosing the option that is most pleasing to the Lord can seem hard at times. 

Pondering my strengths and goals and desires and how they  need to be used more effectively for the Kingdom, my family and myself. 

Picturing my baby sleeping in her crib for a week today and how I took her pack and play out of our room this afternoon. How empty the room feels. But also how exciting it is that shes growing! Parenthood is full of so much emotion! Basically every other day is another new moment and emotion and experience. 

Looking forward to 2016 and all that it may bring. Many question marks. Many exciting things to come. 

Man.... being a woman sometimes is tough with this spaghetti brain. So many thoughts all the time. Thankful for them.


October Goals

A fresh new month means some fresh new goals! I am gonna keep this list short because 1) being a mom means you never know what could happen 2) it has been quite a while, sadly, that I have set monthly goals so starting small feels a little less overwhelming.

  • Walk 100 miles- we have been working on our health and love taking walks! And I have been particularly obsessed with the pedometer on my phone. Looking forward to taking advantage of the awesome fall weather that finally arrived today by getting moving outside! 
  • Transition Emmalynn to her crib for naps. This will be great preparation for our trip to Vegas next month for Thanksgiving! And, she is outgrowing her swing and the move needs to happen for both mommy and Emmy. Pray for us. 
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day and no soda! The soda part should hopefully be easy as it is more of a treat now than anything. But, water consumption is hard for me for some reason. Usually I look up and its mid-afternoon and I haven't had anything to drink. Terrible!
3 goals, easy peasy right? We will see! 


Look at this beautiful girl that I get to call my daughter! I am so beyond blessed to be her mommy and to stay home with her every day. As I am typing this I am watching my FIVE MONTH old play in her big girl bouncy seat. I can not believe how fast time goes! Everyone tells you that it will fly by, but experiencing that is a whole other story. Everyday she changes, grows and seems to learn something new. It is all so exciting and at the same time heart breaking in a way. As much as I long for her to grow I also long for time to stand still. The other night I almost had a break down thinking that one day soon we will see her LAST toothless grin. Trying my best to cherish and savor every moment, every smile, every cuddle and even every late night cry (and also praying that those late night cries are going to end soon!) 

After 5 months of staying home I feel like I have almost finally hit a groove and this whole thing isn't as overwhelming as it once was. I remember after she was first born worrying how I would get her in and out of the car to run an errand. You learn quick when you are a mom! I've also discovered just how much grace you need to give yourself each day. Grace to make mistakes and grace that says you are still learning. And when you allow yourself grace you can more easily give grace. Grace to your spouse and your child each day. Because, sometimes this parenting thing is HARD work. And by sometimes I mean a lot of the times. And we haven't even got to the hard stuff yet! But Jesus is so good and He tells me that in Him I am enough and through Him I can give grace and love even in those hard it's-3am-and-no-one-wants-to-be-awake-but-here-we-are moments. This has also given me such a different lens to view other moms by! I see them in the grocery store or at the park or wrestling to get their kids into the car and I want to say "You are doing so good!! Don't give up mama! Jesus sees you right here and even if no one else does, He does." 
We all need more grace.

I am so blessed. If you would have ever asked me if I would be a stay at home mom I would have probably said no. By God's grace here I am. He has provided for me to stay home for this season. And I am so lucky. 


One month

I cannot believe that I am the mom of an almost 6 week old little girl. They always tell you that time flies once you have a baby and I am learning how true that is every day. I have loved being a mom. It certainly has its challenges as Zach and I navigate what our new life looks like with me being a full time stay at home mommy. On days that are harder than others and Emmy just doesn't want to be put down or when her acid re-flux causes her pain and tears are her only consolation I remind myself how fleeting time is. How you blink and 6 weeks have already flown by. Those reminders help me to slow down and try not to worry about the dirty floor and the mountain of laundry and just cuddle her close and be her comfort. To snuggle her and pray for her little mind, heart and soul. To dream about her future and our life home together as mommy and daughter. Every day is a precious gift and as a friend once said "Little doesn't last forever". 
In this season of stay at home mommy hood I have so many hopes and dreams for our time. 
I want to be a memory maker and fill our home with laughter, creativity and fun. 
I want to set our family up for success with priorities that matter like time with the Lord and each other.
I desire to set examples that will help shape Emmalynn's character in years to come. 
I want to carve out time for other people in our life and serving them whenever we can. 
What a blessing it is to stay home and raise this treasure.  To be honest, I don't know that I thought the day would ever come that I could stay home to raise a family. 
The Lord has been our Portion and Provision. 

One Month 
 I love to growl like a bear when I eat, listen to music, go on car rides 
and stretch my long legs and arms out after I nap.
 I'm super strong and love to lift my head to explore and I want to roll over. 
I'm getting better at sleeping at night but
 my favorite way to sleep is curled up on mom and dad's chests.


Becoming a Mommy

Today is my last known day of being pregnant. Unless Miss Emmalynn, who seems to be full of surprises, decides to come on her own today I will be induced tomorrow. It is a strange feeling knowing exactly when pregnancy is coming to a close and a new chapter of being a mom is starting. The anticipation and anxious excitement in our house is at an all time high. We are so excited about this new chapter and also battling some anxiety of "Are we REALLY ready to be parents?" "Are we capable and able?" "Do we have ANY idea at all what in the world we are doing!?" The answer to these questions is no. On our own we are unable to do this task set before us. We have no idea what we are doing or how to be a mom or a dad. And, can anyone actually be ready to do something they have never done before? 

But, in the last few days of my maternity leave I have been resting in the peace of knowing that God is good. And that He has chosen Zach and I, unworthy as we are, to parent our daughter. He has hand picked us for this task and in that He has given us what we need moment by moment, day by day. On our own we are not capable of doing this, but with Him we are. We are so honored to have been chosen to parent this precious little girl that has been growing inside me for the last ten months. 

I can't believe she is almost here. The wiggles and squirms that we watch dance across my belly every night are going to come to life in our arms in just a few short hours. The face that we have seen on many ultrasounds is going to be looking at us so soon. I am so excited to smother your face with kisses little girl and to finally hold you in my arms! We can't wait to start this adventure of being a family of 3. 

With pregnancy coming to a close and knowing that every facet of our life is getting ready to change it has caused me to do a lot of reflection and spend a lot of time mulling over memories. Zach and I will have been married 3 years this June. While I am so excited to begin this new chapter I am also forever thankful for the one that is coming to a close- life as 2. Zach, I have come to love you in a deeper way than I thought possible almost 3 years ago when I said "I do". I have loved every second of my life with you- from the hard things that I wish we didn't have to experience to loving this awesome life God has blessed us with. In the last 10 months of my pregnancy you have been my biggest supporter and greatest friend I could ever want. Pregnancy has been quite the journey and you have never left my side. To bringing me water and holding me as I cried when I got sick nearly every single day for 3 months, to rubbing my back and hips (which is often now!), sitting up with me when I can't sleep at night, picking up extra chores around the house, cooking dinner and forcing me to start maternity leave early because you knew I needed to- you are my prince charming. Thank you for all the things you have done that have gone unnoticed by others as all the attention has been on my growing belly. You love me the way Christ loves the Church. When our daughter looks at you she will see the greatest example of a Godly man and you are setting the bar high for whoever steals her heart one day. Thank you for all you do for our family. I love you forever. I cherish all the memories we have made during this season as 2 and I can't wait for the many, many more memories that are yet to come as we become a mom and dad!

Tomorrow life as we know it changes forever, and I can't wait! Emmalynn, hurry on up little girl, you have a lot of people ready to meet you and love on you! 



We finally got a new laptop! As Zach starts his masters program... tomorrow!!!... we figured it is about time to invest in a newer computer that doesn't run the risk of crashing at any moment. Tax free weekend was a great time for us to take advantage of this and we got a stellar deal on our new 17" HP.

It always amazes me how much technology changes throughout the years and how electronics are smaller, thinner, faster and more advanced.

Have fun writing your papers Mr. Haffecke! 

P.S. I am typing this on my OLD computer. Old habits die hard.