100-calorie Greek yogurt: Yoplait Greek vs. Chobani

Part of my mission to be more healthy has involved a whole lot of substituting better things for the bad things I used to gobble down without regard. I noticed how much sugar was in my favorite yogurt. And realized I was eating two serving sizes at each sitting. A yogurt substitute was needed, and we’ve tried many kinds in the past few months.

When I was given the opportunity to be part of the Yoplait Taste-Off. I used my husband, Dan, for a blind taste-off between Yoplait Greek 100 Strawberry and Chobani Simply 100 Strawberry. (So, yes, this is a sponsored post. But, we truly had a lot of fun with it, and we’ve already been on a taste-testing spree!)

Yoplait Greek 100 vs. Chobani Simply 100

I prepared the bowls, making note of which was which. I presented them to Dan, and he thoroughly tasted each. He also drank water between each, just as we’ve seen done during “Top Chef” taste-offs. We seriously are obsessed with “Top Chef” these days.

Yoplait Greek 100 vs. Chobani Simply 100

Having previously tried Chobani Simply 100 in a different flavor, he admitted he knew which was which. He said, though, he definitely preferred Yoplait Greek 100.

His reasons:
+ stronger flavor
+ more enjoyable consistency

The Chobani was good, for sure, but the flavor was just too weak. I tasted both and sided with Dan and Yoplait. We agreed that if you want strawberry Greek yogurt, you want the strawberry flavor to come through strong. 

Yoplait Greek vs. Chobani? We chose Yoplait Greek! Participate in the taste-off and weigh in yourself! 

Yoplait Greek 100 vs. Chobani Simply 100

Disclosure: Yoplait is compensating me with payment for talking about the Yoplait Greek 100 Taste-Off in this blog post. I was given freedom to choose my honest favorite. But like I said: We’ve truly been searching out the best 100-calorie Greek yogurt! Read about sponsors and why I use them

lower expectations, part 3: our adoption

lower expectations: our adoption

The second big area of life where I need to continually lower expectations? Our adoption. 

The process: Over and over again I chose dates in my mind by which my sons would be in our home. Over and over again they passed. I moped. I cried. And I set a new date. Somewhere along the way I’ve gone from expecting them to be here by a certain day to hoping they’ll be here at all. It’s hard to explain, because so much of it is deep in my mindset. But I think you other high expectation holders know what I’m talking about.

Early on, I studied the process guidebook our agency provided. I recorded the months specific steps took us alongside the months our agency suggested we anticipate. We were always ahead of schedule. Loving life; flying along. Then, about three steps from the end, the process totally changed. “Anticipated timelines” grew. The paperwork was revised. We completed and notarized the same form three different times.

Our adoption process looks so different from when we began nearly two years ago. At that time, families were seeing their children come home in under a year. I could go on and on about the people we know who were “behind” us in the process whose sweet kids are now running around their houses.

But I won’t. In adoption, there are Hague countries and non-Hague countries. I should have never expected our non-Hague country’s adoption process to stay the same.

Our children: Another big takeaway from Created for Care was to lower expectations for our life post-adoption. I’m certain it will be an even bigger adjustment for me and Dan as first-time parents (though our great Safe Families experiences have helped). Two years ago? I had the most romantic plans for our little family that was to include a sweet brown baby under the age of one. There’s the first expectation that is so totally not reality.

We will be (overjoyed to be) parenting two children at least one and a half years older than we expected. Beyond this, there are other aspects of life I’ve been working to slide from high expectation to low expectation.

We don’t expect T + E to like us right away. We don’t expect them to immediately bond to us. We don’t expect them to be 100% healthy. We don’t expect their development to be on track. We don’t expect they’ll sleep well. And we don’t expect the good sleeping habits we at long last establish will stick around.

We don’t expect to be able to keep the number of commitments we currently have. We don’t expect to feel confident leaving them with a babysitter for quite a while. We don’t expect to go on as many dates. Or eat out as much. Or be as spontaneous.

But also? We don’t expect our experiences to perfectly mirror anyone we know. And we do expect to work hard to establish good habits and secure connections with and for these sweet boys. 

And, Lord, I pray we have the opportunity to experience anything with them. The good and the bad. High expectations met or low expectations surpassed. It’s all a privilege.

lower expectations, part 1: intro
lower expectations, part 2: my husband

lower expectations, part 2: my husband

lower expectations for husband

Dan and I dated for six months before he proposed. A most common question when others learn of our short dating and engagement is whether or not we felt we really got to know each other. I feel we did, because of the friendship that preceded our dating. And because of the depth and frequency of our conversations. It worked well for us, and it may not work well for others under other circumstances.

The one way our short pre-marriage relationship did not work well for us was that I never let my ugly expectations come out. So, the wedding happened, and bam, Dan was hit with several (unreasonable) expectations he had never experienced before being married to me. What a treat, right?

The biggest expectation? The one that most frequently left me disappointed and Dan confused? That my new husband would plan and execute fun, unique dates on a regular basis. (Goodness gracious, I know how silly that sounds.)

While dating, we had both frequently planned fun, unique dates. They started tapering off during engagement, though. We just couldn’t uphold that level of pre-planned fun (and money spending) with wedding planning, med school, and a social worker Master’s program.

We’ve always hoped to be the couple that regularly dates each other. That was an expectation we agreed on. And wouldn’t you know, Dan views the actualities of that differently than I do. We went through a few months of lots of arguments over what we would do with our time. Watching TV at home or going to events and parties planned by friends quickly became the norm. I got frustrated and missed our fun, romantic adventures around St. Louis. But what came out was frustration with Dan that I couldn’t put a name to. 

It took too long before I realized why I was frustrated. I think Dan had figured it out a long time ago, though. I begrudgingly came to Dan to tell him what I thought was going on. (This has happened over and over again. He truly knows me better than I know myself.) I missed the fun dates he had planned to surprise me. I was tired of hoping he’d plan a date.

Are we going on frequent fun, unique dates now? No. But three important things happened. I learned to communicate to Dan when I’m really aching for a fun date. I learned to encourage him and lower expectations regarding the date instead of nitpicking each detail of his plans. And I relearned the importance of planning some dates on my own.

It’s working well for us. And sitting at home watching TV has never been more enjoyable.

lower expectations, part 1

Dirty Chevron by by Matthew Taylor Wilson

Dirty Chevron by by Matthew Taylor Wilson

Marriage and the adoption process have slowly made me more aware of the level to which I hold expectations. I just really need to lower expectations. At a conference I recently attended, the speaker said this:

Expectations are premeditated disappointments.

So true, so true. That has not left my mind.

Get this: Leading up to any non-routine social event, I am playing through the scenarios in my mind. Who will be there, who I’ll talk with, what I’ll say, how enjoyable or not enjoyable it will be, how delicious or not delicious the food will be, and whether or not I’ll regret attending.

Then, the whole time I’m there, I’m comparing reality with my expectations. And after I get home, I’m playing through who should have been there, who I should have talked with, what I should have said, and whether or not I’ll go to a similar event again.

It’s killer. Not only are these thoughts and scenarios a waste of my time, but they set me up to be checked out the whole time and disappointed each step of the way. I set my expectations so high for beautiful settings and thought-provoking conversation and James Beard-worthy food. Possibly exaggerating, but even the expectations I set to have really good conversation and eat really good food are sometimes a letdown. 

I’ve gotten the tiniest bit better at just saying to myself, Okay, let’s go to this. I won’t play through scenarios. I’m just going to show up and give my best attempt to enjoy myself. 

Late in dating and early in marriage, Dan and I — no, probably just I — struggled with expectations in one certain area of our relationship. I’ll share that in part two. And throughout our adoption process, I have learned a lot about expectations for right now and for after T+E are here. I’ll share that in part three.

Fun? Maybe? Not really? Whatever it is, I hope this is encouraging and eye-opening for you. 

one month later


One month ago yesterday I had brain surgery to remove a meningioma (brain tumor).  I have felt 100% normal for about the past two weeks. And I have felt so fortunate and so loved throughout the entire experience.

I had an appointment on Friday with a “radiation therapist.” The surgeon recommended it to be safe and to lean on this other doctor’s expertise.

I have to be honest: The anxiety crept in big time as I waited for the appointment. I didn’t want to accept that I wasn’t home free. I asked Dan over and over again why I would have to go to this appointment, even if it was “just to be safe.” Those nervous feelings about stepping foot into the hospital aren’t gone. God’s still working, I guess.

I was nervous even to tell the doctor I’d experienced a few headaches in the past month, certain it meant radiology was a must. I was so relieved when he told me that even with the elevated rate of duplication the tumor cells exhibited, he did not feel radiation was at all necessary. And I almost hugged him when he told me he didn’t think we needed to nervously wait and see what would happen. He said he expected the tumor would never come back!

I‘ll go back for MRIs every three months for the first year. And a little less often — but still often — for several years after that. My brain will never look normal or symmetrical again. Even as a non-medical person, I could see significant difference on the post-surgery MRI images. This first follow-up MRI in June will act as a standard to which to compare all MRIs after.

Yesterday was wonderful, and I didn’t even realize I was at the one-month mark until after noon. I think I’m a little tired of thinking about brain tumors.

week in photos: 4.6.14


A sweet friend from our St. Louis church (and wonderful illustrator!) sent me some of her headscarves, along with this letter and portrait. 


It’s warm, and we need some life on our front porch and in our backyard. These three guys were purchased. I don’t know much about plants, but I do understand the rule of thirds.


With the warmth (and some time off for Dan), we’ve taken more frequent walks. Oscar comes home tired and finds strange sleeping positions.


Through Instagram, I volunteered Dan and I to model for a photographer from Louisville in a nearby town for a few days. It was great to get spiffied up to have her document our 2.5-year marriage. Photos to come!

stories tend to follow

Watercolor Series 301 limited edition print by Petite Papier

Watercolor Series 301 limited edition print by Petite Papier

When one begins to make claims about life and its storyness, one should be careful. Stories tend to follow, and stories involve unpleasantness. God calls bluffs, and makes narrative hypocrites of us all.

[from Death By Living, N.D. Wilson]

Found in this well-worth-a-read post from our wedding photographer.

Disclosure: Affiliate link used

my Stitch Fix clothes and prices

I’m not a Stitch Fix “regular” like many I know. I don’t need the service they offer at this point in my life. But it is so stinkin’ fun to get a surprise box of clothes and accessories. I got a little note in my box that my stylist had definitely look at my Pinterest clothing board this time, and I appreciate that!

I’m including pictures of myself in my Stitch Fix clothes and prices this time. I think, unfortunately, Stitch Fix is not feasible for some women because of the prices. And seriously, some people are just really, really good at bargain shopping.

Stitch Fix clothes and prices: Pomelo Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress, $68

Pomelo Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress, $68

I loved this dress! I initially told Dan I was keeping it, then I glanced in my closet and saw two very similar dresses. And I have mixed feelings on chevrons. I’m tired of them, but these really were a new take on chevrons. This is one of my favorite colors, so that was a huge bonus in my book. Also, though not pictured, the length was perfect — hitting right above my knee. It just came down to this dress not adding anything new to my wardrobe and being a little above what I felt comfortable spending on it. 

Stitch Fix clothes and prices: Under Skies Grayson V-Neck Pointelle Knit Sweater, $58

Under Skies Grayson V-Neck Pointelle Knit Sweater, $58

I also loved this sweater! It’s super lightweight, and the material is soft and seemingly high quality. I think it will work well for most seasons! I have so much gray in my wardrobe, and I don’t hate it. Gray makes it so easy to pair accessories of many colors. I plan to try it with different colored tanks with different width straps underneath. Though kind of wrinkly in the picture, I like how this fits. Keeping it! (Hello and thank you, store credit.) 

Stitch Fix clothes and prices: Pomelo Lydia Faceted Stones Long Necklace, $36

Pomelo Lydia Faceted Stones Long Necklace, $36

And this necklace. I was okay with it, but not crazy about it. Similar to the wrap dress, I already have several pieces like this in my closet. And goodness knows I don’t wear those often enough to justify getting another. I have been loving purple lately, so that was a nice choice by the stylist.

Stitch Fix clothes and prices: 41Hawthorn Berkeley Lightweight Aztec Print Infinity Scarf, $32

41Hawthorn Berkeley Lightweight Aztec Print Infinity Scarf, $32

Pretty, isn’t it? I have been drawn to Aztec prints lately, so I was happy to get to try this! It’s also lightweight and appropriate for spring and summer. Because of its lightweight nature, I again doubted that the quality was worth the price. It seems with a little looking I could find something really similar for quite a bit less. (I don’t know who this money-saver is. She has only appeared since marrying Dan!) I sent it back, but I’m still a tiny bit sad about it.

Stitch Fix clothes and prices: TCEC Roxanna Chevron Open Knit Cardigan, $58

TCEC Roxanna Chevron Open Knit Cardigan, $58

This was my least favorite. So bold, but also kind of grandpa-looking. I love this shade of blue, but I don’t care for the off-white/taupe color at all. I also really love cardigans, so this was not too far off. It has a chunky open weave, which I don’t have in my closet. It was a little too bulky, though, especially as the temperatures start to warm up. I sent it back without too much hesitation.

So, I kept one thing and sent back four. My reasons were mostly around duplicating pieces I already own and not being able to justify spending what some of it cost. That being said, my boxes are getting very close to things I actually like! I’ve also noticed that the wait times for a “fix” have decreased, and the range of sizes carried has increased. These are things I had previously disliked about Stitch Fix.

And I don’t remember getting this before… A little note and photos of how to style my items. I appreciated it!


I still have some store credit, so I’ll be back, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a monthly fix kind of girl.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? Would you like to?

Disclosure: Referral links used

five ideas for successfully working from home

5 ideas for successfully working from hoome

I threw up my hands in defeat and searched out a flexible part-time job in October. (I thought T + E would be here in May or so, and I wanted to stay home with them. They weren’t home. And they still aren’t.)

I was really happy to learn my position could be done mostly from home. And my supervisor recommended I come into the office as little as possible? Well, okay! Then I was given my first assignments. And I got nervous.

I love jumping from task to task. I love doing lots of little things for a short amount of time as opposed to one big project all day long. It was fairly easy to focus in an office staring at a wall. It was harder to focus at home looking out the window. 

I asked other work-from-home friends for advice, and I’ve picked up a few things along the way. It’s April now, so go ahead and calculate… Yes, it took me about six months to hit my stride. So hang in there! Here are five ideas for successfully working from home. 

1. Schedule the time you intend to work. Though my day is fairly fluid, it generally looks the same. Exercise, errands, and lunch in the morning. Work in the afternoon until my husband gets home. This changes depending on the amount of work I have, of course. I set a mental goal to sit down at my desk by a certain time each day. By doing this, I don’t find myself starting projects or going places I hadn’t planned.

2. Play non-distracting music. I have always listened to music when I wrote in college, and it’s carried over to writing for work. I didn’t feel comfortable playing music when I worked in an office, and I missed it terribly. I really do believe it helps my focus. But the trick is to choose music that’s not distracting. So, for me, no to One Direction and yes to instrumental music. (A post with my recommendations is to come!) Keep yourself from constantly changing the song on whatever player — iTunes, Pandora, Spotify — you choose.

3. Drink lots of water. I drink water, because otherwise I’d be snacking. But really, water increases your energy, reduces your tiredness, prevents headaches, and keeps off hunger. I’ve been prone to all of these when working. Staying hydrated has truly helped.

4. Use Toggl. I’m an hourly employee now, as opposed to salaried, so the time sheet is my friend. My agency requires me to record when I started working each day and when I stopped, taking note of the “breaks” I took. I had scraps of paper with times all over my desk until a friend told me about Toggl, a free mobile and/or desktop stopwatch to track your hours and clients. I’ve only started using it this month, and it’s been great!

5. Buy attractive, appropriate home office supplies. I enjoy my work more if I have pretty things to use. And I work longer if I have the supplies I need. Target’s one dollar section is key for this, since no one is giving me money to buy office supplies. I’ve found myself using page flags, sticky notes, a stapler, white out, notepads, a notebook, file folders, and highlighters most often. My page flags, sticky notes, notepads, notebooks, and file folders are all from the one dollar section!

Now, what ideas to you have to share? I think I still have a ways to go before I’m ultra productive!

Disclosure: Affiliate links used