Life lately…(Fall edition)

Life lately has been…busy. (Isn’t it always?)

Della joined the soccer scene this season, and it’s as cute as you might imagine.

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She pretty much flits around the field without much of a clue, miles of ponytail streaming behind her (she calls it her “shaky hair”) and a HUGE grin on her face. If she ever gets her foot on the ball, she can actually dribble a bit and came thisclose to scoring due to pure inertia (darn that whole need to kick the ball and look/aim where you’re going).

Of course, while the kids are playing 3 games in a row, I’m keeping up my energy with these.

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(I threw some Andes mint chips in place of Heath crumbles in my favorite cookie recipe, and the results were highly edible, to say the least).

Speaking of edible, I made this hearty white bean chicken chili, and it was beyond delish. Of course, I totally pulled that thing I was talking about of declaring a recipe to be great even though I made a “few tweaks” that included: canned corn instead of fresh, chili verde instead of tomatillos, Rotel, and a dash of chili powder…

chicken chili

I also made Mandy’s homemade salsa, which was the perfect spicy complement to my leftover chili at lunchtime. Yes, my nose was running, but this Texas girl can take it! (Sometimes).

This week has been full of exercise (I’ve been to the gym every day this week to the tune of 2 hours a day; oh, my aching back!).

Between teaching my regular classes, subbing, and BODYCOMBAT launch, I’m looking forward to a weekend of relaxing on the couch (okay, so that’s unlikely to actually happen, but it sounds good in theory).

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In case, you’re wondering…this is my version of multitasking these days: answering math questions while snacking on sugar snap peas (oh my, yum!), painting my nails for Combat launch (because apparently, I want to punch like a girl) and studying/watching Combat choreography in the background (because just sitting down to study notes never happens anymore).

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(The back of our shirts were the best part)

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This is far from my favorite picture of all time (because what girl really wants to be the only puffy-faced pregnant chick up there with all her fit teammates?), but, even though I might have had a snotty, hiccupy meltdown right in front of my husband after I saw these pics from launch, I am trying my best to just be thankful for the fact that I can still kick and punch and move and generally be as normal as a 32-week-pregnant girl could expect.

Also?

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I’m trying to be true to what I wrote on my canisters earlier this week. Snotty meltdowns and wonky hormones aside, I can always find something to be thankful for. (P.S. Those canisters reside in my kitchen, which I aaaaaalmost have ready to show you. Al-most. Pinky promise).

Of course, it’s easy to be grateful when you get to hold your day old niece for the first time.

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Meet Lorelei. She’s the sweetest, snuggliest, most perfect little 8 lb. 8 oz. bundle of baby goodness.

And she’s got me even more excited than ever to meet the little wiggle-worm in my own belly.

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(I got a lot of compliments/questions about that skirt, which is on sale right now if you want to snap it up; super comfy and totally great for non-maternity wear too).

And last but not least, because there was a picture of Della, and you saw the boys on Wednesday, and I can’t very well end a good photo-dump post without treating you to a pic of the twins…

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This is what the girls looked like this morning after we got home late last night and just dumped them in bed with their clothes still on. Apparently, at some point, they traded out half their outfits and redressed themselves (inside out, of course). As cute as this picture is, I have to admit that I am mighty tired of locking every door in the house that contains any articles of clothing. Both girls are equally obsessed with changing clothes no fewer than 20 times a day if they can find anything new to wear (if they can’t, obviously they can just swap; how convenient!). If I don’t watch out, I spend a significant portion of my day picking up a clean clothes trail from the kitchen all the way upstairs into our big room.

Oh, girls! Somehow, it’s just in us to love clothes!

P.S. Most of these pics are from Instagram. I’m @misformama if you want to join in on the daily fun.

What have you guys been up to lately?

Are your kids playing any sports? Having 3 in soccer is working out for us so far, mainly because the boys play on the same team, and they all play at the same field, but it’s giving me a teensy little taste of what life with lots of kids in sports/activities will be like, and I have to admit that I’m tired just thinking about it.

 

 

“No Bake Makery” Fun

I’m not really a cookbook kind of girl. It’s not that I have anything against them. But I do tend to make the same 20 meals for our family over and over in a varied rotation. And when I want to make something specific, I pretty much always look it up on the trusty internets.

Why?

Because REVIEWS! You can find out how people liked the recipe, what they did to make it better (my faves are the ones who gush about how great the recipe is and then list no fewer than 7 fundamentally recipe-altering things that they did to “tweak it just a little.” Dude, you didn’t even follow the recipe. How would you know if it’s any good or not?).

But if I run across a fun-looking cookbook on sale, I go for it. And since I’m a sucker for cute packaging, if it looks good on the outside and has pretty pictures throughout, I’m all the more likely to take the plunge. (Shallow, much?)

Such was the case when I spotted this adorableness in the clearance section of–weirdly enough–Urbanoutfitters.com.

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See? Cute cover. Even cuter tagline: “More than 80 bite-sized treats made with lovin’, not oven.”

I did a little poking around (see above reference to my love of reviews) and discovered that 1) the price on UO was really good [it has since sold out...sorry!] and 2) No Bake Makery had great reviews on Amazon.

So, I ordered it on a whim after way too much deliberation, and I’m so glad I did!

Not only is the cover pretty, but the inside is chock full of more gorgeous shots of creative recipes like these: nomake

{These “Pecamel Fudgey Bars” are on my holiday hit-list} nomake2

See the little paragraphs at the top of each page? The author (who started out as a blogger) writes short little introductions to each recipe that are, by turns, informative, funny, and sweet. She has a great writing voice, so if you get this book, make sure you don’t just skip over the intros! nomake3-001 nomake6

The best part of all is that the recipes are really fun (if somewhat time-consuming on the first go-round) to make, and they’re perfect for getting kids involved, since there’s no oven, and most of the steps simply require smearing gooey stuff on other already made, slightly less gooey stuff.

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My boys (and even Della!) had fun getting in on the action. boys dipping2

{Give a couple of little boys jars of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, and fingers will be licked, messes will be made, and maybe, just maybe, something edible will emerge).

No Bake Makery is actually what inspired me to put some effort out for the twins’ 2nd birthday party. The boys and I ended up making two separate recipes from the book–”Minty” and “Fluffy Cracker Cookies”–and then using the no bake theme as an inspiration for the rest of our homemade treats (which included blue-dipped pretzels and caramel corn).

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As a side note, if you’ve never done much with chocolate-dipped desserts (not that every recipe in the book involves them, but many do), there’s a bit of a learning curve. (Code for: you might have to redo some of your treats, and it might take a while).

I’ve done a bit of dipping before, but I must confess that Cristina (the author) does give you some tips at the beginning of the book for dipping techniques that…I didn’t read. Whoops!

Ultimately, though, the recipes were clear and easy to follow/execute, and the results were ridiculously cute.

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(These are the “Minty” balls attached to paper straws with a little melting chocolate; they contain [off-brand] thin mints, Andes mint crumbles, AND York Peppermint Patties!!!!!!)

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{My doubled-dipped “Fluffy Cookie Crackers” weren’t as perfect as hers, but they made for good eatin’!}

Of course, there’s nothing much more disappointing than biting into something that looks delicious only to immediately be on the hunt for a napkin to spit it out in.

Definitely not the case here. Both treats we made were super yummy and big hits with everyone at the party.

I plan on revisiting No Bake Makery when the holiday treat season rolls around (I’m thinking that several of the recipes will freeze well so I could get started even sooner if I end up with just tons of free time and motivation in the next several weeks. Yeah. That seems likely).

So, what about you guys? Are you cookbook junkies? Total recipe free spirits? Or somewhere in between? I would LOVE to hear any suggestions for must-have cookbooks. I’m certainly not averse to them. But I don’t tend to seek them out unless they come highly recommended.

Any great ideas for make-ahead/freeze recipes for the holidays? I love the idea of homemade treats as additions to gifts, but I know if it comes down to the wire, they just won’t get made, so I would love to be able to spread them out over the next several months.

 

 

 

The Parisian Lady Tee

On my birthday weekend, the last stop on our “way” back from Houston was actually a bit of detour to an outlet mall.

I had grand plans of getting some Christmas shopping done, since the idea of buying for myself at 30 + weeks pregnant was far from alluring. IMG_5235

But the sales at all the kids’ stores were less than stellar, so we basically walked the entire loop of the mall, stopping into a few stores here and there, and then vamoosed.    IMG_5237-001

If that sounds like a rather lackluster shopping trip…I suppose it was…although I’ll take an excuse to wander around, sifting through sales racks and holding my husband’s hand any day.

The one notable exception was the Parisian Lady tee.

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I spotted this fun graphic tee on jcrewfactory.com (the online version of the outlet store) a while back for $17.99 and really loved its cheerful, cheeky style. But, with shipping being $5 and my having no idea about the quality or fit, I wasn’t quite willing to shell out $20+ for a t-shirt I couldn’t easily return.

Turns out, they had one Parisian Lady left in the J. Crew outlet at this mall, and it was my size (or close enough, given the belly). It was $29.99, though, and the store guy I talked to said they didn’t match online pricing.

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HOWEVER. The outlet store had an extra 50% off of sale prices dealio going, so I decided to take the plunge. Even better, they had one other shirt that I had been eyeing in just my size–also on sale with the extra 50% off (and this one had been over $30 online, so there was no way I was going for it without being able to try it on). That one ended up being a winner too, and we even threw some shorts for Shaun into the mix, which brought our total to a whopping 3 items.

When we got to the register, somehow it came up that it was my birthday (Shaun said it, not me), and the guy ringing up our purchases congratulated me. And then I mentioned to him that I’d signed up for the J. Crew Factory birthday rewards (which was supposed to give you an extra 20% off your entire purchase during your birthday month) but had never received the promised email. I just kind of trailed off because he had already made a point that they were a separate entity from the online store. I figured he would probably say there was nothing he could do.

But no. Instead, he said, “Tell you what–I’ll give an extra 30% off on top of your extra 50% off. How does that sound?”

To which I replied by doing cartwheels around the bin of striped ties next to me. No small feat with this belly, I tell you.

Just kidding.

I haven’t been able to do a cartwheel since 4th grade.

I did thank him profusely for his kindness, though.

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And then I wore my Parisian Lady tee with polka dot skinnies (from Old Navy a while back), striped wedges (from Target last spring), and a smile almost as smug as the Parisian lady’s herself.

I think we all know the moral of this story.

Never do cartwheels while pregnant.

Always, ALWAYS ask for a better price if there’s any justifiable reason to do so. (I’m not quite brazen enough to wander up with a full-priced dress and ask if I can have it for 50% off just because. But I’m close).

Ever gotten special treatment (doesn’t have to be shopping related) just because it was your birthday? I feel like there have been other instances of this that I can’t remember at the moment. But getting two shirts I’d been wanting on my birthday for way less than the price of one online made this bargain-loving chick quite happy.

 

31 Week Pregnancy Check-in {Baby #6}

On the one hand, it seems strange that I’m already in the 30′s of this pregnancy. On the other, it feels like I’ve been pregnant for at least a year already.  31 weeks

Pretty sure I’ve felt this way for the last 3 pregnancies, although the twins’ was different enough that each new stage was a bit of an adventure.

And, should the Lord bless us with any more kids, I have a feeling I will start feeling “done” with being pregnant earlier and earlier. And that, right there, folks, is how I really feel. Gimme all the babies! Just, could we hurry this pregnancy business along, please?

Of course, the second I think, “Man, oh man, I would have this kid rightthisverysecond if he were actually fully cooked”…

I remember labor.

And then, I’m all: hope you’re comfy in there, little dude, because Mama can’t deal with that yet. In fact, after 4 natural deliveries (which produced 5 kids because of the twins, obviously), I literally can’t think about the details of labor with any level of objectivity at all. It makes me queasy. And panicky.

In fact, I find it absolutely fascinating that God designed us so that, by the time we get to the end, we are so genuinely done, desperate to see our little sweetie, and full of “get-this-kid-out-of-me-NOW-I-don’t-care-what-it-takes” angst that we’re spazzing out, Cuba-Gooding-Jr.-style, hollering, “Show. me. the. PAIN!”

I posted something similar to this sentiment to Instagram/Facebook a while back (somewhere around 24 weeks, which was the first week that I started getting that whole: “Urgh. Can I please be done, already?” feeling).

I got some amens, some “you should not be wishing for a preemie baby” (totally not what I was saying), and perhaps most surprisingly of all, some: “I would give birth again in a heartbeat. It was AWESOME!”

(For some reason, I keep hearing Inigo Montoya saying: “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means”).

Now, don’t get me wrong. My labors aren’t bad. They’re long. And frustrating. (Have you read the twins’ birth story?). But the really, truly excruciating part is “only” about 5 hours long, and I’ve yet to have any complications.

Those 5 hours, though. Those are the ones I have to mentally avoid.

Praise Jesus for squishy little babes that make it all worth it in the end, amen?

ANYWAY, so I guess that gives you a bit of an overview about my current mental state, which is a not-so-straightforward: ready (if he were ready)/not ready (even if he were).

As far as the rest…

Cravings: Other than carbonation, I really don’t have any of these.Not consistently. My food definitely develops a traffic jam somewhere in the region of my ribcage when I eat. Which, of course, means that I fill up quickly, only to feel hungry 20 minutes later. Which, of course, means that I’m munching on something small practically all day long.

Weight gain: No clue. I haven’t stepped on the scale since 27 weeks, and I don’t plan to (so grateful for a midwife who doesn’t make me a long as I’m growing). But I do feel like things have leveled out a bit after a big jump back in the early 20′s.

Exercise: I feel SO much better than I did a month ago. My round ligament pain (that searing burn that runs from your obliques down to your inner thighs on both sides) has eased up considerably, and I can pretty much pop right up from my bench when I’m doing chest press for BODYPUMP, even though my belly is bigger. I even tried some jump-moves in BODYCOMBAT last week and discovered that, outside of a sudden inspiration to invent Depends–the Exercise Version, I could actually get some air, and it felt fine (and looked absolutely ridiculously, I’m sure).

Pregnancy Side Effects: Midday exhaustion is my nemesis. Also, I’ve been battling more moodiness and “down-ness” than usual, but over all, the hormones are relatively tame. (Although…this is the first pregnancy that I’ve cried over spilled salad). I know I already said this, but the Collinsonia Root and MK-2 supplement I’m taking for the varicose veins in my right leg really do seem to make a difference. I didn’t take them for 3 straight days because I forgot to take them to Houston with us for my birthday, and by day 3, my leg was aching. Within two days of resuming the supplements, though, I felt great.

Energy: Totally depends on the day. But I wouldn’t mind having more than I do, pretty much all the time. (Not sure this has as much to do with pregnancy as homeschooling and chasing 2 toddlers who think that life is not worth living unless they change into a different outfit–doesn’t matter whose–14 times an hour).

And now we get to the part where I discuss pregnancy math: I’ve run into a whole rash of folks lately who do not understand the correlation between months and weeks in pregnancy. (Which, admittedly, can be a bit confusing). For example, I have an acquaintance who is due only a few days before I am. And yet, at 22 weeks, she called herself 6-months-pregnant. And then a few weeks ago, she mentioned being “almost 8 months.” Which was a real head-scratcher for me since we’re due at the same time, and I knew I had a few weeks to go until I even made it to 7 months.

Basically, the common misconception is that a month = 4 weeks. But that’s actually only true for the month of February (which is 28 days), which means that the other 11 months give you 2-3 “extra” days per month. Sounds like a throw-away, right? But when you multiply 2 X 9 (months of pregnancy), you get 18. Throw in January, March, May, August, July, October, and December, and you’ve potentially got another 7 “extra” days.  That’s 3 1/2 weeks of “extra” time you’re not even counting.

So, if you consider yourself 8 months pregnant when you’re 32 weeks along (because 32 weeks divided by 4 = 8), then you’re in for a bit of a surprise when 4 weeks later, you’ve still got 4 weeks to go!

No, you’re not pregnant for 10 months. Months just don’t generally happen to be exactly 28 weeks long, and those “extra” days add up in a sneaky way.

If you’ve made it this far into our math lesson today and are just burning to know (hi, all two of you that are still here!), since pregnancy is 9 full months, that makes each trimester right at 13 weeks and 3 days long. So…

13 weeks + 3 days = 3 months pregnant

26 weeks + 6 days = 6 months pregnant

31 weeks + 3 days = 7 months pregnant

35 weeks + 4 days = 8 months pregnant

40 weeks = 9 months

I could go into how, for 2 of those 40 weeks, you’re not even technically pregnant, but I think I’ve geeked out on you guys for long enough, so I’ll quit.

ANYhoo, the long and the short of it is that this little guy (and CHRISTMAS!) will be here before I even have time to process either, I’m sure, so I’m just trying to take this pregnancy/life one day at a time with Jesus by my side.

Which, yes, should be my plan all the time, pregnant or not.

Do you guys dread labor too? Do you go the epidural route? Home birth? Hospital all the way? C-section? While I go the home birth route and love it, I’m all for any choice that is the safest/best for each woman that is birthing her own baby. I have friends who want the epidural waiting in the parking lot of the hospital, some who do natural births in the hospital, some who do home-births, some who have planned C-sections. I even know a few folks who get a little bit of back pain and barely realize what’s going on before–hello!–the baby is crowning!(These folks and I cannot truly be friends; my jealousy is way too strong :) ).

Do you count by weeks or months? Or just not worry about it all? In a completely myopic episode of everyone-must-think-like-I-do, I was genuinely shocked one day when I discovered that some people don’t have much of a clue how far along they are and don’t bother about it. (Seems smart, in a lot of ways, but I can’t seem to turn my mental weeks-pregnant calculator off).

Ain’t gonna Anthro-pologize

I posted the following to Facebook a while ago when my husband and I were on our way to Houston for my birthday weekend.

Shaun: “The Woodlands Mall is the next two exits.”
Me, staring blankly: “So?”
Shaun: “They have an Anthropologie there.”

That there is true love, folks.

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It got a fair number of likes, presumably because a) y’all like Anthro too or b) y’all like husbands who are nice enough not only to look up the location of their wives’ favorite store but to then point it out instead of just cruising right by. (I’m guessing it was a bit of both).

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{Oh, and did I mention that we went to not one but two Anthros during the course of the weekend?}

Seriously, y’all, my husband gets me. I mean, having a wife that loves Anthro as much as I do could be a very scary thing for a man. Or, more specifically, for his pocketbook. But my thing for Anthro really has nothing do with whether I actually buy anything there or not. Because the truth is, that even as seldom as I go, I usually don’t buy much at all. And if I do, it’s the cheapest thing I can find that I actually want.     anthrobday11

{See that coral lace dress that that has a similar vibe to the one my friend, Lindsay, bought for my birthday? Yeah, the Anthro version cost $190. Choke).

It’s just that there are so few stores that qualify, not just as a destination, but as an experience–and a unique one at that, since each store gets its own decor.

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Yes, their prices are ridiculous. As are some of their clothes and furnishings. But it’s all combined so artistically and with such an eye for that illusive boho-chic style that only Anthro does quite that well, that even the most bargain-minded girl (that would be me) sometimes finds herself staring at a tag and thinking, “Hmm…this ruffled tank is only $29.99 on sale. That’s not too bad.” anthro collage Fortunately for me, the haze that all of those yummy smelling candles casts over my mind usually fades before I get to the register, and I realize that–oh yeah–I would never even consider paying $30 for a tissue thin, ruffly cream-colored tank top (never mind that it was originally $79) if it weren’t nestled amongst so many other pretty, perfectly styled pieces that make it look so much better than it really is.

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{Mugs for daaaaaaays}

And then I go back to perusing the wall displays along the store’s periphery (I completely ignore practically the entire center section because it’s comprised of full-priced outfits that I will never buy), content to be inspired by the kind of creativity that apparently snookered convinced the girl in line in front of me to drop $238 on a hat and maybe one other item (I didn’t see what else she bought, but the bag she left with was far from large).

Me? I was happy to use my 15% off birthday discount to buy a $12 mug + an $11 set of ceramic measuring spoons that I’m going to try to keep my kids from breaking.

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But mostly, I was just happy to have completely guilt-free time to wander, peruse, and admire without any intention of buying.

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Two things about this picture: a) that bag of clothes from GAP was pretty much entirely for him, since the man refuses to buy clothes unless I’m with him or get them for him, and b) this is my husband happily reading a gardening book from the sale section at Anthropologie. And you thought it was just a store for women.

Of course, the Anthro in the Woodlands did have one thing going for it that made the whole experience just a bit sweeter.

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Literally.

That would be a loaded cup of chocolate hazelnut fro-yo from Pinkberry that I split with Shaun and then wished that I’d had all to myself (s’okay, we got more before the weekend was over).

Ohmuhgoodness, y’all. If every Anthropologie had a Pinkberry nearby, that would be a lethal combination.

Because at Pinkberry, one does not simply browse. Oh no. One samples (and samples) and then buys a very large cup of sugary goodness.

Amen, and bless it.

So, what about you guys? Are you Anthro admirers too? I know it’s not everybody’s (initial-embossed) cup of tea, and, as Shaun pointed out, how I actually decorate/dress is considerably different than the overall vibe of the store. But aren’t we always drawn to things that are maybe just a little bit of an escape from our normal, everyday life?

What about Pinkberry? I used to think that TCBY’s chocolate yogurt in a waffle cone was pretty much the zenith of all frozen yogurt experiences. But then all the locations near me shut down, and when they reemerged years later in their new, self-serve format, they had completely changed their chocolate formula, and, as a result, I’ve been off of fro-yo for years. Pinkberry’s chocolate hazelnut, though. Oh man. That was enough to resurrect my love and even converted my non-chocolate-ice-cream-loving husband.

 

 

 

Kindred spirits

Turning 32 has been one of the more joyful and relaxing birthday experiences I’ve had in a while…mostly because I came into it with very few expectations.

I love birthdays and look forward to mine each year as it approaches. But this one seemed to sneak up on me out of all of the busyness of homeschooling and projects and soccer seasons starting. Oh yeah, and growing a tiny human in my belly.

And let’s face it–32 isn’t exactly momentous in the grand scheme of “important” birthday years.

But between my family and Shaun, I felt very loved and celebrated, despite the mundanity of the number.

And then, as a cherry on top of it all, I got the chance to go out for dinner with some of my best girls this past weekend (I’m a big fan of stretching birthdays out over at least a week; way more festive than blowing all your fun on one day :) ).

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{Here we all are outside one of my favorite local restaurants}

We spent the evening eating really good food and laughing really hard at silly things like when my friend Lindsay’s husband sent her this Hey Girl meme after she told him she wouldn’t be bringing him home any leftovers.

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But we also talked about more important things like motherhood and the way it forces us to face a lot of our insecurities as it strips away any facades we try to present to the public. (We all agreed that our kids are not in the least bit fooled when we attempt to pretend to the rest of the world that we’re nice mama or have it all together all the time).

We talked about the ways Jesus is working in our lives and forcing us to dig deeper or fall even flatter on our faces than we do on an average Monday.

And I came away from that dinner just so very grateful to have a core group of girls who will encourage me when I need it and, more importantly, will speak truth–even the hard kind–and pray for me when I need it more. IMG_5212

Friends who totally nail it when they buy you coral eyelet dresses that you can wear with your 30-week bump and beyond. IMG_5215

And friends who notice when you get really excited about a pretty leather Fossil bag at Ross and then make sure your husband knows about it in time for your birthday. IMG_5219

And friends who give you a whole bag of pretty utensils and dishes that match your kitchen redo perfectly because they totally get your style and know that stirring with a fun, aqua spoon can make even the most run-of-the-meal dinner prep way cheerier.

In other words, friends who get why celebrating 32 is a worthwhile thing to do and go out of their way to do it well.

I don’t have a lot of breathing room in my life right now for lots of close friends. I don’t say that snobbishly. I’m always up for meeting new people, and I definitely wish there were more hours in the day to spend getting to know cool chicks.

But since that’s not a luxury I have right now, I am doubly grateful for these fellow women, wives, mothers, sinners, and sisters in Christ (some of whom weren’t there that night)–in a phrase that my beloved Anne so aptly coined: “kindred spirits”–who, in their own unique ways, convict and compel me to be more like Jesus, whether or not they know they’re doing it.

In fact, I would say that I have zero complaints whatsoever, except that–really—if they were 100% perfect, they wouldn’t have let me forget to grab my to-go box with the half-burrito that wouldn’t fit past my ribcage (I mean, you gotta help the lady with the preggo brain out!).

But I’ll admit, if missing out on leftovers is my #1 complaint (especially when–ahem–I suppose a grown woman should take responsibility for her own doggie bag)  I’ve got it pretty darn good.

What about you guys? Any kindred spirits you’d like to give a shout out? She wasn’t there because she was helping watch my kids, but my sweet Mama is definitely a kindred spirit too, and I’m so glad I get to call her friend.

Linking up with Lindsey.

Fall decorating + the back story…

Confession: I read all of these other bloggers’ posts who just can’t wait to get their “cozy this” and “pumpkin that” out (you could also insert the appropriate accoutrement for any other season), and, quite frankly, it’s a bit puzzling (not to mention a lot intimidating) to me.

Don’t get me wrong–I love Fall. And Christmas. And Spring. And I even love sprucing my house in accordance with a holiday/weather change (not that we’ve actually had one of those here or will get one before–say–Thanksgiving).

But it’s a lot of work, y’all! And none of those bloggers seem to feel any of the dread that I do mixed in with their anticipation of seasonal decor changes.

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That said, every time I overcome the dread to arrange something pretty, I feel a) happy and b) frazzled. Happy because it usually forces me to clean/organize something I’ve been ignoring for a while, and it feels really good to have that space “done” (for a little while). (Also, happy because arranging things makes me so).

(Lest you accuse me of describing my mess and then only showing you the pretty pictures, this is what my table looked like before I got after it this morning).

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(You can never doubt my love for you after I showed you that picture)

(And you can NEVER doubt my love of parentheses after reading the last few sentences).

And frazzled because, between the cleaning/organizing/arranging/photographing, there are a whole lot of requests for milk, little hands tugging on my pants, wiping of stinky bottoms, breaking up of squabbles, etc., etc., etc., etc. (add a few more, and you get the idea).

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It’s all the stuff that pushes that seasonal decor business to the back burner in the first place. (And rightly so!) And all the stuff that makes the putting up of the seasonal decor a royal pain in the tushy.

Anyway, I say that to assure you that–if you end up looking at these pictures and thinking, “HOW did she have time to do this with 5 kids running around and not lose her sanity?”–you pretty much answered your own question. I did it with 5 kids running around. And lots of distractions. And about halfway through, I thought, “For the love of Martha Stewart, forget it!” And the slim thread holding my sanity that is always threatening to snap in two, just about did for good. But then they all ran upstairs to put on a dance party in Della’s room, and while the ceiling above me shuddered with the thunder of ten small but apparently disproportionately heavy feet and light jazz filtered down from the electric piano (their dance party instrument of choice), I hustled to get everything done.

So, now that you know the truth, feel free to picture a half-dressed, somewhat inconsolable (her mismatched shoes wouldn’t stay on–cue World War III) toddler just outside these calm and composed shots of my breakfast nook table decked out with some easy Fallish decor I had lying around (code for: piled up randomly on my unused breakfast nook table…you saw the proof).   IMG_5180

As far as particulars, the white pumpkins were less than $4 each from my local Walmart.

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The apothecary jars were 50% off at Hobby Lobby (you already saw them in the twins’ party spread). And I filled them with the world’s cheapest Fall decor = more pine cones from my driveway. IMG_5197

But this time, I took 5 extra minutes to spray paint some of them Rustoleum Gold.

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Not gonna lie: I love the gold contrast with all of the somber, natural gray-browns of the dry cones. It’s a bit like a lady in a too-loud sequined gown showing up to a party full of little black dresses.

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The table runner is just two Target burlap runners ($3 each from the Dollar Spot) overlapping in the center of the table and held in place by a pumpkin.

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If I were fancy (the plates are from the Dollar Store, so we already know I’m not), or the least bit concerned about such things, I would have thrown those fabulous polka dot Anthro napkins (which I scored on major sale a couple of months ago…I looked but they appear to be sold out) in the dryer to get some of the wrinkles out. (Please tell me you didn’t seriously think I was going to say: “iron them”).

But, alas, I was too busy trying to balance a two-year-old on one hip while sort of, kind of laying out the napkins in some semblance of order and straightness to care.

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Oh, and if you’re wondering why I haven’t implemented my planned changes to the breakfast nook, see 1) the above description of what happens when I attempt to do house projects with kids around (and I pretty much always have at least two little “helpers” close by) and 2) the fact that the jute rug I wanted to use ended up being too tall for my bench legs, and I haven’t managed to find anything thin enough to replace it, which has thrown a major mental monkey wrench (say that five times fast) into the rest of “the plan.”

Also…in case you’re wondering, this is the ONLY space in my house that is remotely decorated for Fall.

I may or may not get to adding anything else.

And that’s just fine by me.

Do you decorate seasonally? Obviously, I do…to a small extent…depending on how much it affects the delicate balance of my mental well-being.

PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one who has to do basic things, like clean off her breakfast nook table, in shifts! If you guys manage to get it all done in half an hour with zero distractions, then I don’t want to hear about it. ;)

P.S. If anyone somehow manages to get out of this post that I think of my children as merely distractions or hindrances to my ability to decorate to my heart’s content…nothing could be further from the truth. They are the primary joy and responsibility of my home, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just didn’t want to show you a bunch of pretty pictures without a little bit of back story to balance them out.

A painted pantry door…

First things first…

After receiving multiple comments (and even a text from a friend!) about the “lady on my shoulder” in Monday’s post, I wanted to make sure that all of you got the chance to meet my new little friend.  (Zero in on my left shoulder if you’re still confused).

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Quite the optical illusion, eh? I laughed so hard when I first saw it.

Aaaaaand now back to the business at hand…which would, apparently, be asking for recommendations on the best place to send my 4th child for Poser’s Anonymous meetings.

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I was getting all set up to take pictures of our pantry door, and when I looked up, I discovered that this adorable little urchin (who dressed herself, by the way) had dragged a stool right into the middle of my shot and was doing some hardcore cheesing.

Of course, I cooperated by snapping a pic or 50 and then scooted her cute little bottom out of the way so I could show you guys what I was actually trying to shoot.

If you recall, this is what our pantry door looked like before.

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It played nicely off of the rug, mixer, island (which you can’t actually see in this pic), and various other red elements in the kitchen.

But we’ve had a bit of a shake up in the kitchen over the last few months (I am going to try SO hard to do a complete reveal next week, but nobody hold me to that too closely, m’kay?), and the red just didn’t jive as well as it used it.

I thought about all sorts of other statement colors–canary yellow, coral, aqua…and so on and so forth.

But, shockingly enough for my color-loving self, I kept coming back to the idea of black. And I figured if I were going to paint it black, I might as well paint it a useful black. And by “useful,” of course I mean “chalkboard.”

So, the morning of the twins’ party (because, why not add one more thing to the list?), I plopped my pantry door on my island and started slapping paint on it (while my children ate Raisin Bran at the very same island about two feet away).

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The plan is to let the kiddos go to town on the lower portion of it and then to use the upper part for menu-planning (Ezra, who is a pretty typical firstborn, was very excited about the prospect of knowing what was on the docket for dinner each day…and holding me to it. “But, Mama, the first one says, ‘Turkey Lasagna,’ and Monday is first, so today should be Turkey Lasagna!” Ever heard of the words “not set in stone,” kid?)

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I’m certainly no chalkboard artist, but I do like to play around with fonts and such, so one night, I stayed up way too late writing all of this out, and now that I’ve got it to my liking, I’ll simply erase the specific menu items and replace those each week as we go.

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The one thing I do want to do to jazz things up a bit is to spray paint the knob a fun pop of color. I’m leaning toward my beloved blue/green, and I’ve even got the perfect color…if I can just find it. Grrr.

Also, it might be fun to paint that little alcove something other than white to make the white trim around the door really stand out…but I’m not completely sold on this idea, simply because that hallway flows into two other rooms, and the paint transition would probably be awkward.

Thoughts?

Oh! And, in case you’re wondering about my “technique” for painting (other than the plopping and the slapping I mentioned earlier), I first lightly sanded the existing paint, and then used a foam roller on everything but the grooves (those I brushed) to apply very thin coats of chalkboard paint. It took about 4 coats, but they went on very quickly, and dried crazy fast, so the whole project didn’t take but about an hour.

Also, I made sure to “season” the whole thing with chalk to make it both quicker to take anything we write on it and easier to erase.

And my “I,” I mean these two handsome fellas.

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(If you’re not familiar with the concept of seasoning chalkboard paint, all you do is rub the chalk on, using the length or sides of the chalk piece, then wipe/wash it off with a damp cloth, and you’re good to go!).

So, there you have it! A pantry door that hides the often messy shelves within and gives my firstborn yet another way to keep his mama in line.

Win! (?)

Any suggestions for wall colors and/or knob options?

 

 

32

Hey there, folks!

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Today is birthday # 32 for me, and Shaun and I are enjoying a fun little weekend getaway (if you can figure out where we are just from the photo above, I will be mondo-impressed), but I’ll be back soon to chat.

Happy Monday!

Maxi-mum Wear

A while back, I spotted a smokin’ hot deal on Old Navy’s website for a soft, jersey maxi dress which was pretty much  universally well-reviewed as flattering and comfortable for–wait for it–$7 shipped. (it’s currently $10, but they pretty much always have a coupon code to stack with that).

I mean, my Goodwill generally slaps a $6 price tag across the board on pretty much anything–be it a denim jumper, 80′s mumu, or designer frock–that could remotely be skewed as something resembling a dress.

So, $7 for a brand new maxi that’s supposed to be decently well-made is pretty much a no-brainer. Especially when I don’t have to leave my house to buy it, and I can return it for free to the store if it doesn’t work.

In fact, it was such a “duh” moment for me that I bought it in three different colors. And, after I posted the deal to my FB page, several of you let me know that you’d bought it too. Heck, even my mom bought it! (Albeit as a gift for my sis-in-law).

I’ve worn all three version of it already, and I’m happy to report that it’s just as comfy as the reviews say.

As far as flattering, I really love the unconventional neckline, which looks like a halter from the front, but is actually a yoke style that connects in the back as well. It shows off your shoulders without being revealing, and, even though it requires a strapless bra, I still would rate the over all comfort level of the dress at an 8. (The material is sooooooo soft, and has a nice, heavy drape).

And, while it’s not technically a maternity dress, the tie is just high enough to work with my belly, and there’s tons of stretch to accommodate the bump.

The only complaint I have, really, is the inconsistency in the sizing.

I wore the navy version with a tie from another skirt on a date night with the hubs with flip-flops and was thrilled with the length, which just grazed the floor.

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Pardon a) the weird shiny thing happening with my eyes (I tried to hide behind a pole to avoid the direct glare but clearly was only partially successful) b) the speckles on my top (you can stop wiping your screen now; they’re not going away). I think it’s toothpaste. But really, as a mama to five small humans, I can never be sure.

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But then, there was the teal version, which I didn’t get a great picture of (this would be a cell phone shot snapped by Ezra).

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It was considerably roomier all-around, but a good 3-4 inches shorter, even though it was supposed to be exactly the same size. I would have loved it a lot more if it had had the extra length, but I’ll probably stick to wearing it with flats in the future, which should help.

And finally, I channeled a bumblebee when I wore this ditzy-print black/white version to church last week.

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It’s a size smaller than the other two and was definitely clingier overall and not as long as the first one (though a smidge more so than the second…I think).    IMG_4719-001

So, was I happy with my 3 maxis for under $25 (including tax)?

Yup!

I’ll be putting away the smaller size until after pregnancy, but I can see getting plenty more wear out of the other two (especially the navy version) this fall.

Sadly, the navy is the only one left and only in a size large, but if you stumble across it for a steal in stores, or if they decide to restock, it would totally be worth a $7 “splurge,” in my humble opinion–whether you’re pregnant or not.

Scored any great deals (thrifted or new) lately? It’s so rare to score such an amazing price on something online that I was pretty stoked. As much as I love the thrill of the hunt at Goodwill or even an occasional run to the mall, there’s just something extra-special awesome about getting a steal on something from the comfort of your own couch.