This is a bad joke

So, if my title gave you anxiety that this post was going to be negative, let me just clear that up right away by assuring you that this post is, indeed, actually about bad jokes. Specifically the ones perpetuated by my hilariously unhilarious children.

But first!

A quick PSA: if you read this post and wanted to get your hands on some wraps but didn’t win the giveaway or want to shell out full-price (or even wholesale price!), then you might want to take advantage of a really good special my friend, Lindsay, (whom you met in that post) is running through tonight.

Anyone who signs up to be a distributor (you don’t actually have to distribute anything; I’m technically a “distributor” because I thought, “Hey! Since I already order the products, I might as well get the discount PLUS bonuses,” but I’m about as clueless about the business part of it as they come) gets a FREE box of wraps (usually $99) with their usual sign-up kit.

You can text/call Lindsay at: 9 zero 3-three 6 3- 5 nine zero 1 OR email her at: jiminy7798{at}aol{dot}com

And if you’re on Facebook or Instagram (click either of those links to enter), you can enter to win a free facial or body wrap (your choice!) just by finding out more info from Lindsay.

And THAT’S no joke!

Neither, it turns out, is this…even though it’s Evy’s (age 2 1/2) favorite in the whole wide world.

Evy: Knock knock

Me: Who’s there

Evy: Dragon

Me: Dragon who?

Evy: DRAGON!!!! (Cackles maniacally)

Me:

twins

{So, the real questions is: is Evy crying because of her own horrible joke-telling or because Nola’s letting something even stinkier than her Knock Knock Jokes fly?}

Seriously, people. She would keep at this winner, using the exact same wording and tone of voice, until the breath left her body if I didn’t eventually crack and hide in the bathroom after the 42nd repetition.

But she’s not the only Knock Knock Joke Offender.

About a month ago, my kids and I were in the kitchen finishing breakfast when Simon (7 1/2) let this one slip:

S: Knock knock

Me: Who’s there?

S: Fire

Me: Fire who?

S: Fire that’s gonna burn your house down!

Me:

poser

{Della says: “I may not be able to tell a joke, but I sure can smolder!” Heaven, help us. I’m not even sure where this is coming from, but it worries me}

After surveying the other kids, I discovered that not one of them had even an inkling of how to formulate a decent, or even coherent, Knock Knock Joke. Not even Ezra (9 in two days), who is (and this is not just motherly pride talking) really bright and perceptive. He gets allegory and metaphor, for crying out loud. But Knock Knock Jokes?

Fuhgedduhboutit.

So, right then and there, we had a Knock Knock Joke boot camp. I did my best to explain the concept of “play on words.”

And mostly got a lot of this:

Evy and Nola:

Simon:

Della:

Ezra: Uuuuuummm (as he wrinkled his forehead in obvious pain of concentration and attempted comprehension)

Theo: Goo goo ga ga (Pretty sure he nailed it. If only I spoke baby)

dazed

{I know, Theo. That’s exactly how I feel about their jokes too! #justsmileandnod}

My abstract methodology was a total bust, so we got down and dirty with actual examples and then tried making up some of our own…like this one:

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Theo

Theo who?

Theo gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.

Slaps knee.

Or

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Buddha

Buddha, who?

Buddha my bread for me, would you?

Badum-bum

ANYhoo, after about 20 minutes of painfully bad Knock Knock Jokes interspersed with 2 or 3 sort-of-kind-of correct ones…

Ezra more or less got it. Yes, just Ezra. Well, and Theo, obviously.

Seriously, I’ve always assumed that Knock Knock Jokes were way down there at the bottom of the joke pile. But no. Apparently they’re more intricate, nuanced, and sophisticated that I could have even imagined.

So, now I have to know. Are your kids bad at Knock Knock Jokes too? Obviously, mine are…although I have to admit that Evy tells her “joke” with such enthusiasm and personality that I genuinely crack up every single time.

Care to share your foolproof Knock Knock Jokes? I’m determined to get these kids of mine to understand the concept eventually, and I need lots of examples! My made-up ones are pretty bad.

At what age do you feel like your kids finally start actually “getting” the concept of humor? Ezra likes to say, “You’re being sarcastic!” and feeling super proud of himself for noticing if I say something like: “Now, that’s a greeeeeat idea,” when they climb up on a tall object to jump off or something (I know. Nominate me for Mom of the Year). But, even though he can be clever, his humor is still very literal. Which is kind of completely not the point.

Kiss your mascara goodbye (And say HELLO to eyelash extensions)

Here’s the thing: when I get asked to review something, if it doesn’t appeal to me, I just politely decline.

And, every now and then, if I agree to try something out, it just doesn’t work for me, in which case I don’t review it at all.

Which, as you might have already deduced, is why, anytime you see a review of something on this here blog, it’s positive. If I take the time to tell y’all about it, it’s because I really like something and feel like it’s worth sharing.

But then, every now and then, there are things that I actually seek out, breath held in hope that they will be as great as I’ve heard, and what I’m going to tell you about today definitely falls into that category.

Several years ago, Emily posted about her experience with eyelash extensions (all positive), and ever since, I’ve been pretty intrigued with the concept…but majorly turned off by the price (about $200 for the initial application).

So, when I saw a friend post about her experience with lash extensions on Facebook with a friend of hers who was looking to expand her part time business, I decided to seek her out and see if we could come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Code for: she’d do my eyelashes, and if I loved them, I’d tell you guys to go get your eyelashes done with her.

Y’ALL.

To say I l.o.v.e.d them would be such faint praise that it’s a little embarrassing.

(In other words: this not just a review. It’s a rave).

But more than anything, I loved Makenzie.

People, she comes to your HOUSE.

(Let me try that again)

YOUR house.

As in, you don’t have to find childcare for your children (assuming your husband’s around to watch them, or you can schedule a time when they’re all in bed, of course).

And then, she proceeds to play with your children, since you got home later than you hoped and are still running around getting dinner ready. I don’t think that’s technically part of her job description, but, considering that Evy (my shyest child) crawled up in her lap and started babbling away her life’s story in her ear within .03 seconds of Makenzie’s sitting down in my living room, I think she should probably add “Toddler Whisperer” to her business cards. Oh, and “Patient-as-all-get-out.”

And then she sets up all her gear and gets you all situated on this comfy table with an even comfier pillow and tells you, “I don’t mind if you fall asleep. You can even snore. I have people that do that. Doesn’t bother me at all.”

makenzie

Note: I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t have snored had I fallen asleep, but…I didn’t. Because Makenzie is such an easygoing sweetheart that you feel like you’re just chatting away with a friend you’ve known for ages. And the time flies.

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I got my first round of extensions done about a month ago in anticipation of family pictures that we had scheduled. Sadly, “rain” has been the predominant theme of our weather this spring (with a heavy side of tornados…yikes!), and our pictures have been canceled so many times that I’ve lost count.

The lashes last about 3-4 weeks, so just this last Monday, she came back to make sure they were perfect for pictures (even though they got canceled again)…AND she brought her husband with her to hold Theo (Shaun was out of town), claiming that he wanted to ride along (pretty sure he could have found a football game to watch or something, but I wasn’t complaining).

Her husband, who was just as easygoing and friendly as Makenzie, proceeded to hold Theo for over an hour, y’all. And T loved him!

Again, probably not technically part of her usual job description, but I was just so impressed with her thoughtfulness and how she went the extra mile to make sure I was comfortable.

Another thing I love? Her rates. She charges $95 for the initial application, which is less than half of what salons cost, not even factoring in the fact that she comes to you. And she’s only $30 for refills (when I told my husband that, his eyebrows shot up, and he said, “She’s going to pay that in GAS coming to our house!” :) ).

When I asked her why she charged so much less, she said, “I just really love helping moms out, and I looooove doing lash extensions and making mamas feel pretty while simplifying their days, so I want it to be as accessible as possible, while still worth my time. And charging more just seems dishonest.”

The first time she comes, it takes between 1 1/2-2 hours as she meticulously glues either silk or mink individual eyelashes on top of your own eyelashes to take them from this…

eyelashes3

{Believe it or not, I have the exact same amount of mascara/liner on my left and right eyes, but the light coming in from the left makes it look totally lopsided; Also, for some reason the only thing I can think upon seeing this picture is: “Selfie of a camel.” Apparently, I shouldn’t take pics straight up my nose}

…to THIS

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That would be lash extensions with ZERO mascara. Zero eyeliner. Zero anything. And I still look awake. (Also, between the automatic “beauty filter” on the reverse setting of my phone camera and good lighting, I have the skin of a 12-year-old in this pic. Don’t be fooled).

eyelashes

And the best part? They’re completely weightless. I remember sitting up after the first application, expecting to feel the weight of the extra lashes or for them to be tangling with my lower lashes, and I felt…nothing.

Makenzie just smiled and said, “That’s how they’re supposed to feel.”

Mission accomplished.

I’ve had so many people compliment me on my lashes in the past month, and pretty much nobody could believe it when I told them they weren’t real. One lady even told me how pretty and awake I looked when I walked in to teach a 9 AM BODYPUMP class and how unfair it was that I looked so good in the morning, and I thanked her but walked off truly confused.

Because the truth is that I don’t look good in the mornings. I have major puffy-eyes, and even when I wake up with a lot of energy, it takes a long time for my face to get that telegram.

I was puzzling over her words the whole time I set up my weights, until, suddenly it occurred to me–duh!–it’s the lash extensions. They just make my eyes look awake, which translates into a much better morning look, even though I haven’t changed anything else in my routine.

I ran back to tell her why I had made such a good impression that morning and that she should have Makenzie come over to her house ASAP.

Seriously, in case you can’t already tell, I’m Makenzie’s biggest fan. I can’t recommend her highly enough.

Of course, even though $95 is waaaaaay cheaper than you can get it done anywhere else (and did I mention she comes to your HOUSE??! Still blows my mind), it’s still a chunk of change on something that I certainly would not label a “life essential.” I get that. And totally agree.

You know me. I’m the cheap girl. The thrifter. The extra 60% off the sale rack shopper. And I’m usually very low maintenance. I don’t get facials or have my eyebrows plucked. And I can go months upon months without a pedicure or a manicure (I think I’ve had 3 in the last 8 months, and that’s higher than average). I get my hair cut about twice a year.

But this is different.

I would gladly scrape my pennies together for months or have this be my sole birthday gift, if that’s what it took. I can’t even fully articulate why being able to walk out the door with zero eye makeup on is so freeing and enjoyable. But it is. That much I can say for certain.

I would even go so far as to call this a #mamalifehacks post!

So! If you’re in the East Texas area (Makenzie lives in Tyler) and have ever even had an inkling of getting lash extensions, Makenzie’s your girl. All the way. I can’t imagine getting better service or results no matter where you go.

You can contact her at 3 zero 7-7 five 1-9 two 1 zero. (Just replace the words with the numbers they represent. I’m trying to protect her from getting tons of spam calls).

You an also email her for an appointment at: lashesbymakenzie{at}gmail{dot}com

Just tell her Abbie sent ya!

Mama Life Hacks {Tip #8}: The Sunglass Rack

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty bad about keeping a pair of sunglasses for longer than a few weeks.

Either one of the twins decides to “try them on,” which, of course, is code for “break them.” Or I drop them one too many times while trying to juggle toddlers + baby + stroller + bag + keys, etc. etc. Or I set them down in a store to look at something and then get distracted by some sentence or other than starts with the Four Letter Word, “Mama”…and walk off and leave them there.

Whatever their demise, I have long since learned to buy cheap (CHEAP) sunglasses. Of course, you might argue that if I bought pricier shades that I would then be compelled to take better care of them, but at least 1/2 of the reasons that they bite the dust are fairly out of my control, so I’m gonna stick with buying $5 shades from Ross every other month or so, thankyouverymuch.

Of course, no matter how fancy or humble (yes, humble, always) the origins of my glasses, they don’t do a smidge of good if a) I can’t find them (thank you, baby brain) or b) they’re so out of sight that I don’t remember to grab them on my way out the door.

Enter: this brilliant idea from my friend, Lindsay.

sunglasses

She has this cute little rack + hooks hanging RIGHT next to her front door, but instead of the usual stuff like keys or wristlets hanging from it, she has her sunglasses. I mean, you could add the other stuff as well, but I was just so struck by the ingenious simplicity of this little organizational tip that I had to share.

Because even scatterbrained, distracted mamas might at least have a chance of remembering to take their glasses off and hang them just as they came in the door. And especially scatterbrained, distracted mamas would have the best chance they’re ever going to get of remembering to actually grab their sunglasses for the road when they leave.

So simple. So helpful. And cute to boot!

Just the way we like it with #mamalifehacks.

What about you guys? Do you buy pricey shades or stick with the cheap-o, easily replaceable variety? I bought my husband a pair of Ray Bans for Christmas, and, while I am the one who scored a REALLY great deal, I can’t really claim any credit for the fact that they haven’t been lost yet, seeing as how I only wear them when he’s out of town, and I filch them on the sly. (And then, I’m anal about returning them to their rightful owner…so maybe THAT’S the secret to forcing myself to keep up with them!).

Do you lose/break yours often? I try not to make it a habit of buying the same item over and over on any kind of regular basis when I could just keep up with the one I have. But sunglasses are my Kryptonite.

Any easy/clever organizational tips to share this week? You can share here or tag them, along with any other #mamalifehacks you have on social media. Who knows? I just might feature YOU!

Still in love with ThredUP

First up, I want to say a great big Thank YOU and MMMMWAH to y’all. Because you’re fully awesome (to quote Rhino, the Hamster, whom I consider one of the fully awesomest cartoon characters ever).

I always hesitate to write posts like the “Kids Have Big Ears” one, simply because I don’t want to come across as complaining. I mean, so what if people are nosy or maybe a little too free with their comments/opinions? Big deal. I’m hardly going to be truly hurt/offended by what a complete stranger has to say about the size of my family, and if I am, that’s my fault not theirs. Which was entirely my point. I can’t control others’ actions/words. Only my own reactions and what my children get from them.

And y’all totally got that and responded with grace and understanding and encouragement. So…thanks! Fully. AWESOME!!!! (If you haven’t seen Bolt yet, you totally need to. I laugh so much harder at it than my kids do because they don’t get a lot of the jokes, but it’s because they’re dry/clever, not because they’re too “adult” in a bad way).

ANYhoo, moving on…

I thought I’d give you an update on my love affair with ThredUP (read this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

I’ve had multiple people ask me if I still enjoy them, and the short answer is definitely yes.

In fact, ThredUP items are starting to take over my closet. I’ve been selling quite a few of my clothes that I don’t wear as much anymore and then using those proceeds to revamp my closet by buying judiciously/carefully, with a less-is-more approach.

I don’t think I’m ever going to be a capsule closet girl, but I am working on paring things down to only stuff I LOVE and will wear over and over.

Apparently, you guys were excited about ThredUP too because I’ve gotten credits from y’all using your $10 credit off your first purchase (THANK YOU!), and, while I was tempted one time when I had $60 of credit to “get as much bang for my buck” as possible and buy 10 different shirts from the clearance section, instead I bought this gray wool jacket with brass buttons from J. Crew…

thredup

And you know what? I wore it all. winter. long. And got tons of compliments on it. Totally worth it.

Of course, I’ve also bought several $5 clearance shirts as well, along with $8 dresses, $15 wedges, and most recently, a $12 pair of Rich & Skinny denim shorts that I can already tell I’m going to wear all summer long.

thredup2

I love the length, and they are so comfy and have distressing in the all the right places. Oh, and actually, both my Vince Camuto gold wedges and that boutique top are from ThredUP too.

And then, there was this fun Anthro top that I scored for less than $10.

thredup3

Here’s a shot with closer detail.

thredup1

Honestly, I could throw several more pictures up here of ThredUP items I’ve worn in the past several months, but I don’t always remember to document them. Maybe I’ll do a ThredUP fashion show post one day, so you can see more of my fun finds. Betcha just can’t WAIT for that one.

Here’s the thing. I love thrifting. I LOVE Goodwill. But, with six little kids (and nasty weather all spring), it just hasn’t been worth my time to brave it very often.

Which is why I’m so excited to have found a comparable source of cute, cheap clothes that I can peruse without ever getting off my couch. Couple that with the fact that I can browse by price, category, color, size, etc. etc. etc., and it’s pretty much this bargain-hunter’s dream come true. (Example: I knew I wanted mid-length distressed denim shorts for the summer, and so I used all of my search filters to find those designer ones from the pic above. SCORE!).

Of course, ThredUP prices tend to be a little (to a LOT) higher than Goodwill’s. But in the clearance section, it really is only a teensy bit. (And, depending on your Goodwill, maybe not at all).

And OF COURSE it’s a little scary to buy clothes without trying them on, which is why I typically stick to silhouettes that I know work for my body in brands which I am familiar with (example: GAP, J. Crew, and LOFT all run large…LOFT usually something like 2 sizes off). The cool thing is that ThredUP lets you return most of their items…although mine rarely qualify, since I tend to look for the absolute best deal (and final sale items are non-returnable). Out of the 20 or so items I’ve bought from ThredUP, every single one has fit so far, amazingly enough.

So! There you have it. My super-enthusiastic, totally-not-sponsored endorsement for online thrifting.

I will always love Goodwill. But being a couch-potato thrifter is all right with me too!

If you’re interested in trying out ThredUP with a free $10 credit for yourself, you can use this link. (If you have any glitches, email me at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and I’ll get it sorted out). Full disclosure: that link also gives me $10 credit if you buy…so we both win!

 

Kids have big ears

There was a time, when the twins were babies, that going anywhere with all the kids–outside of the obvious difficulties–was an, ahem, adventure simply because of the comments, looks, and not-so-subtle whispers directed our way.

I don’t think they were unkindly meant. Or if they were, I didn’t know it. Some were really encouraging. Others were highly inappropriate and thoughtless. Still others were downright silly (because, no, people, one of the identical twins outfitted in pink dresses, bows, blankets, and riding in matching pink car seats is NOT a boy. Also, yes, they are identical. And, no, not boy-girl identical twins. That’s impossible).

kids2

I can’t say that I was too surprised, though, because, quite honestly, a woman out alone with 5 small children (especially with two in infant car seats at one time) is a pretty rare (and comical) sight.

I can distinctly remember an abuelita (Spanish for “grandma”) delivering a kindly lecture in the checkout line at Target on the dangers of having your infant’s head cockeyed in her car seat (Nola’s head, which wouldn’t stay put, even with the newborn insert, had just slid sideways before the lady spotted me, and she assumed that she had been riding around like that the whole time). The thing that makes that memory stick was not the lecture itself but the fact that she gave it in Spanish. Now, I speak Spanish fluently, and I understood her perfectly. But there was no way this sweet little old lady could have known that, considering that I look like a total gringa (white girl) and had never met her in my life.

But her assuming manner was pretty indicative of the way everyone treated us when we were out and about. Apparently, we were public property. And for someone who would much rather just get her shopping done without ever talking to anyone, it took some effort to perfect the gracious nod and smile. Believe me: I tried the intense tunnel-vision plus purposeful cart-pushing approach…but to no avail. A truly motivated “commenter” would inevitably imperil her own life by jumping in front of my charging cart with a chirpy, “Are they TWINS???” (Good thing I had also perfected the screech-halt).

When I found out I was pregnant with Theo, I kind of thought, “Welp. That’s it. We’re never going in public again.”

I mean, six? That’s kind of pushing it for outings in public, don’t you think?

But, in reality, our routine hasn’t changed much. I still do errands all over town with a (slightly larger) gaggle of small children with me.  But the weird thing is that I feel like we haven’t gotten as many comments lately.

kids4

Part of that is because I now avoid going to Walmart as much as humanly possible. :) Part of that is because my boys are older and tall for their age, and you get fewer comments if your children aren’t all tiny. But I really think that the novelty of twin girls in car seats drew a large part of the attention before, and now that they are toddlers, out of their car seats, and not as obviously identical (when they’re not dressed alike), we’re not quite as fascinating.

Whatever the reason, I’ve enjoyed the respite from the attention…until the past week. At Chick-fil-a last week, I overheard a guy from the gym telling his friend as we walked by them that he “always felt so sorry for that lady.” And then there was the lady at the gym who absolutely refused to believe that I didn’t have a nanny because how could I possibly be expected to cook and clean and grocery-shop for such a horde all by myself? (I didn’t dare tell her that we home-school for fear that her brain might explode).

kids5

And then, most notably, was the employee at Chick-fil-a (yes, again…Shaun’s been traveling a lot, and Tuesday night Kids-Eat-Free is our big chance to go a little cuh-razy at the local play place). When she spotted my crew all crammed into one table with barely enough seats for us all, she came over and asked how many I had. When I told her, she said, “Oh my, SIX! I have a cousin who had six. And you know what? She wanted all of them.”

I glanced at Ezra, saw his forehead crinkle a little, and said brightly, “Oh, me too! I wanted all of mine too.”

I guess she didn’t hear me because she continued with: “Yes, she was actually happy every time she found out another one was coming.”

I smiled and said, “Me too!”

The honest-to-goodness truth is that my feelings upon finding out that I’m pregnant are usually a bit mixed. I’m mostly thrilled (with this time being the notable exception), but I’m also a pragmatic sort, and I understand fully what adding a new little life will mean for our family. Or, should I say, more particularly, what it will mean to me. More work. Less sleep.

But also? More love. More fun. More chances to die to myself. More sanctification. More patience. More Jesus.

kids3

And so, I answered truthfully when I told the lady that I was excited for each of my babies. Because, regardless of any naturally hesitant emotions at the thought of more responsibility, I’m excited to see how the Lord will work in my heart and give me a new and different, yet equally intense, love for each little life that he entrusts me with.

kids

Always in the past, when I got the comments, I had my go-to responses like, “Oh, it’s a lot of work, but we also have a lot of fun,” or, “We’re really blessed and grateful that we get to have them.” I was determined to be realistic and truthful but unflaggingly positive. Initially, when my kids were really little, my motivation was to give motherhood a good name. And to give the glory to God. (My usual answer to “HOW do you do it?” is: “One day at a time, and lots of Jesus”).

But, a few years ago, I read something that my friend Kristy (who has 5, including twins) wrote about preaching the gospel to her children when they heard disparaging or belittling comments in public (she lived in the Pacific NW and got much harsher comments than I typically do here in East Texas). And my perspective shifted from that of “putting on a good face” to “how does all of this attention make my children feel?”

Now, I respond even more enthusiastically than ever because my children are listening. Oh-so-closely. Apparently, very few other people have this perspective. I can only assume they don’t, or they wouldn’t say some of the things they do in front of them. Things like: “Can you imagine being excited about all of them?,” or “I feel so sorry for you.”

kids1

If they thought about their children’s listening ears, I have to think that surely mothers wouldn’t say things like, “I only have two, and they drive me absolutely nuts,” while their “only two” stand at their elbows and drink those words in.

So, here is my encouragement to you: wherever you are in your journey with children, whether you have 1 or 12, whether they were planned or complete surprises, whether you’ve just had a total disaster of a shopping trip or they’ve been quiet as church-mice…

Choose to speak truth in front of your children. And that truth is this: “Children are a gift from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Maybe you “only” have one, and that “only” makes you feel like less of a mom than you know you are. Maybe you have all girls and are just. so. tired of everyone assuming that you’re only pregnant again because you’re “trying for your boy.” Maybe you have 8 and think that if you get asked, “Do you know how this keeps happening” one more time, you will lose your ever-loving mind.

We all have our pet peeves.

But we owe it to our children to model graciousness and thankfulness, regardless of how many pieces of our own tongues we have to chew up and swallow to get the kind words out.

Because our kids have big ears. They are listening. They will ask you about what others say (and how you respond). They will mimic your mannerisms and your expressions.

And they need to hear you say to their faces and to the world they are wanted, loved, and worth it.

Because they are.

P.S. All of these images are from Instagram, if you care to follow along with @misformama.

Hey look! I made my bed! (New Comforters will make you do the craziest things)

I don’t know about you, but there’s something about spring that just makes me want to start fresh. I know this feeling is probably supposed to hit at the beginning of the year, but it just doesn’t for me. Especially not this past New Year’s, considering that, when 2015 rolled in, I had a 2-day-old newborn and hadn’t slept in about as many as hours as he’d been alive.

But when the sun starts showing his smiling face on a regular basis and the flowers begin to unfold, it just feels like the time to change things up, clean things out, and get everything all ship-shape.

I do believe they have a name for this? Spring cleaning, or something?

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Anyhoo, I was thrilled when Maple Harbour contacted me about trying out some of their bedding because the white comforter in our master bedroom was looking a little dingy and needed a break (i.e. a trip to the washing machine). I love white, but, let’s face it: with a couple of 2-year-olds making regular pilgrimages into our bed each morning to lovingly whisper, “I HUNG-EY,” in my ear or climbing up to “keep me company” while I put away laundry, the white was needing a refresher.

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So, I took a look around their site and was immediately drawn to the Elyse 5 Piece Comforter Set. I love the look of gathers on bedding, and this one has gathers galore. Plus, I hoped the gray would complement the mushroom-hued walls in our bedroom.

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When the set arrived (in record time, I might add), I was really, really thrilled to discover that the gray had slightly warm undertones rather than being completely cool, which works so well to ground all of the bright colors I tend to gravitate toward as accents.

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Not only did I love the color, but I was really pleased with the quality of the bedding itself. The stitching is really sturdy, AND, perhaps most importantly, it’s machine washable (a dry-clean only comforter would never do in our house).

bedroom2

The set comes with two small accent pillows and two large matching sham pillow cases, but I’m more of a mix n’ match sort, so I plan to use the large shams in the guest bedroom and scatter the accent pillows around the house. As you might have noticed, I grabbed quite the assortment of other pillows from the house to complement the gray comforter.

bedroom6

In case you can’t tell, I’m pretty jazzed about the new addition to  our bedroom. I snagged that colorful “throw” at the end of the bed (it’s actually a tablecloth) from Anthropologie on MAJOR sale during a girls’ trip the weekend before last, and I feel like, between it and the comforter, I finally have the inspiration I need to put the finishing details on the rest of our bedroom.

And now I leave you to run off and check out the selection over at Maple Harbour for yourself.

I think the reversible geometric + floral prints on the Calista 5 Piece Set are really fun. And the simplicity of this Tree Leaves 3 Piece Quilt Set really appeals to me for a calming space like a guest room.

So, tell me…are you a “Spring Cleaner?” Does the sunshine make you want to scrub things and change out your linens too?

Anybody still trying to fight off the last lingering clutches of winter? I’m so sorry. We’ve had tons of storms + rain + tornado warnings, but even with all of that, I can’t complain about the warm (though not yet searing) temps.

Mama Life Hacks {Tip #7}: The Onesie Roll-down Tabs

I feel like such a doofus admitting that it took me 8 1/2 years and 5 kids to learn this simple little Mama Life Hack, but there it is. I’m just slow sometimes, I guess.

Of course, I feel a little better, considering that I was tipped off by my midwife, who, by nature of her job, is around newborns all. the. time and still had only learned the trick recently before telling me.

So, what is this momentous discovery?

onesiewatermark

Say what?

Oooooooh, you mean theeeeeese….

rolldown tabs

Yup. Those mysterious (at least to me) little notches at the neck of almost every single newborn onesie. I always wondered why they made them that way and always assumed it was to make it easier to get your baby’s head through without hurting her.

Yes. That.

AND…

onesie3

The best, most ingenious purpose of all?

Those tabs make it ridiculously easy to roll the onesie DOWN your precious little’s body when he has done something less-than-precious (i.e. exploded like Mt. Vesuvius) in his diaper.

For years, I’ve done the awkward “roll-under-then-lift” as I attempted to corral diaper explosions in the bottom half of the onesie whilst wrestling it up and over my baby’s head, hoping (always in vain) to avoid spreading the mess up his back and in his hair.

Did I mention I can be slow sometimes?

onesie1

{Good thing he’s okay with having a mama that’s not super quick on the uptake}

ANYhoo, once my midwife shared her good tidings of great joy, I found myself almost looking forward to the next blowout, eager and curious to see how well the trick would work.

I didn’t have to wait long (Theo was a champion diaper-exploder in months one and two), and you know what?

It totally WORKED!

The mustard-poop stayed contained. None got in the hair. Huzzah!

So…just in case you’ve never had this particular little mama nugget shared with you, I felt compelled to pass it along.

And now that I have…

Fess up. Did you already know what the tabs were for? Am I the only clueless Mama out there? Please say no. Or at least lie a little to save my vanity, m’kay?

P.S. Don’t forget to share your own #mamalifehacks using that hashtag on social media so I can feature YOU! (And don’t worry if I haven’t featured you yet. I’m making a list, I promise). .

Cleanse Recipes + What now?

I’m guessing that most of you have heard of a little something called Whole30? If not, all you need to do is a tiny little Google search, and you’ll immediately have SCADS of detailed summaries, explanations, and recipes at your eyeball-tips (weird mental image). In other words, it’s kind of a big deal right  now.

Basically, it’s an eating plan that involves consuming only “clean” foods, with an emphasis on unprocessed ingredients and avoiding wheat, gluten, dairy, and sugar for 30 days (if you’re a Whole30 aficionado, and this explanation sounds too simplistic, I apologize; I’m hardly an expert).

But even with all of that info readily available, I’ve always balked at trying it, simply because the mere thought of attempting to conjure something creative and clean and yummy every single day on top of all the usual stuff I have on my–ahem–plate was a little overwhelming. And conversely, assuming a total lack of creativity, the thought of eating scrambled eggs and salad for a whole month made me want to take a nosedive into the nearest gallon of Rocky Road.

So, when I decided to try even a 10 day cleanse, my #1 apprehension was not that I wouldn’t be able to cut it going cold turkey with no sugar (I’ve done it before and was fine) but that I would get bored and frustrated and feel deprived.

Turns out, I was waaaaay off on that one.

I mean, sure, within the first 24 hours, I felt pretty much like, “Duuuuuuh. Okay, I’ve eaten about 3 dozen eggs. Now what?”

But after that, everything started to feel a bit more organic (even if it wasn’t actually; more on that in a second), and it started to feel almost like a fun game to come up with different delicious combos of easy, healthy foods that I had on hand.

So, what did I eat? Well, lots of this. cleanse food

My main staples for this cleanse were: eggs, ground turkey, chicken, black beans, corn, strawberries, apples, bananas, salad greens, kale, quinoa, avocados, tomatoes, onions, steel cut oats, raw almonds, and peanut or almond butter.

Almost every single meal I ate had one or more of these elements in it. But the combinations are pretty much endless, so other than one sad Sunday lunch when I felt like anything BUT a salad with hummus and rotisserie chicken, every meal felt like a great big party in my mouth. And because I made sure to keep things flavorful and fresh, I never even missed my normal sprinkling of cheese or croutons or side of crusty bread.

My husband didn’t participate, strictly speaking, but if there was extra of what I was having, he always ate it, and loved every bit of it. He literally spoke the words, “Man, you always make good stuff, but you’re hitting it out of the PARK ever since you started this cleanse!” So, if you’re worried about doing this and how it will affect the rest of your family…I wouldn’t.

The particular cleanse that I participated in was supposed to focus on foods with a very low glycemic index, so technically, bananas, sweet potatoes, corn, and several other fine-for-you but naturally sweet/starchy things weren’t allowed.

However, I made a conscious choice to deviate from the plan in cases when it would have been more difficult to find a replacement food rather than just eat the good thing that was already in my kitchen.

Which brings me to another point: I didn’t go out of my way to be super hardcore about this cleanse.

My black beans came from a can. I didn’t make my own taco seasoning. I used a tablespoon of white flour in my sweet potato and zucchini latkes. My peanut butter was organic but only because it was the only kind I could find without added sugar. I ate a cookie–gasp!– one night when we had company.

I wanted to be true to the challenge, but mostly, I wanted to focus on making better choices. Because the truth is that I didn’t eat so very terribly before. I just knew I could make improvements. And this cleanse definitely represented that.

So, for all who have asked for exact, detailed, cleanse guidelines, I actually am not allowed to share them with you because it was created by an ItWorks! distributor and would require several of their supplementary products to be followed to the letter. I, myself, only had a few of them at my disposal and certainly did not adhere strictly to that aspect of the plan. (If you’re serious about doing this particular cleanse, including the ItWorks resources, you can shoot me an email at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and I can get you more info). I’m sure I would have gotten even better results with the supplements, but I was okay with just seeing what the clean eating produced.

If you’re interested in doing what I did, well, then avoid sugar, processed foods (this means: cereal, fast food, canned soups, TV dinners, chips, etc. etc. etc.) dairy, gluten, and simple carbs (white rice, bread, traditional oatmeal, etc.), and load up on veggies, meat, fruit, and water, and you’ll just about have it.

More specifically, here are some of my favorite recipes that I used.

My Black Bean Salsa

My Taco Soup

My Chicken Tortilla Soup

Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal

Mandy’s Restaurant Style Salsa

Whole30 Chicken Lettuce Wraps (I used soy sauce and minced chicken breast because I’m not a huge fan of ground chicken)

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Latkes (Oh. my. word. HEAVEN)

Paleo Banana Pancakes

Cilantro Lime Quinoa (recipe below)

Saute 1 small onion + 2 cloves of garlic + 1 cup of quinoa in a TBS of olive oil for several minutes over medium heat (don’t burn the garlic). Add 1 can of low sodium chicken broth, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid has cooked off. Add juice of half a lime, and a large handful of chopped cilantro.

Stir to combine and serve warm. SOOOOOOOO GOOOD.

(One of my favorite meals was a Chipotle style bowl with this cilantro lime quinoa as its base, plus black bean salsa, chicken, tomatoes, and guacamole. My mouth is watering just thinking about it).

Guacamole (recipe below)

2 mashed avocados

Juice of half a lime

Generous sprinkle of salt

Smaller sprinkles of garlic powder, cayenne, and cumin (sorry about the fuzzy quantity descriptions; I always just do it to taste)

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 Roma tomato, chopped

1 small handful of cilantro, minced

Stir it all together and go to town!

My snacks consisted of:

Sugar snap peas, cucumbers, celery, and any other kind of crunchy, fresh veggie I could come up with

Apples with almond or peanut butter (no sugar added)

Smoothies (I used unsweetened almond milk + frozen fruit + 1 banana + kale + chia seeds, and it was divine!)

Dried fruit (apricots, cherries, apples, etc.)

Raw almonds

Fresh fruit

Oh, and in case you need more inspiration, I’ve started a clean eating Pinterest board.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

As far as how I felt, I was surprised at how full/satisfied I was pretty much all the time. I kept loose mental calculations of my caloric intake most days, and sometimes, it added up to less than my normal numbers, even with all of the avocado and nuts. But I rarely felt hungry, which is a huge deal for a girl who’s been in the throes of pregnancy + nursing induced “hanger” for almost 10 years.

Obviously, the fact that I wasn’t eating empty calories made a huge difference.

I didn’t notice any decrease in my milk supply, mostly due, I’m sure, to all the protein + good fats + water that I was consuming.

And apparently, this Texas girl has a high tolerance for gassy foods, and so do her children because I never noticed any particular digestive issues for either me or Theo, even after days of beans and onions and salad and garlic and broccoli even.

So…what now?

Well, mostly, I’m going to continue with more of the same. My goal is to eat 90% clean. A great example of that would be yesterday, which consisted of: eggs with veggies, homemade salsa, and avocado for breakfast, dried fruit + almonds for snacks, taco soup, guacamole and (literally) 4 corn chips for lunch, and then Chick-fil-a for dinner. I got a salad, but I didn’t take the cheese off, and I used a tiny drizzle of the packaged salad dressing. I even had a bite of one of the twin’s sandwich and a spoonful of her ice cream when she didn’t finish it all. And I’m totally fine with that.

Again, the goal is not absolute strict adherence, but…better. I’m going to actually start using the dehydrator my husband got me for Mother’s Day (a year ago) and making my own granola and bread. But I plan to move slowly at a sure and steady pace towards cleaner eating, rather than attempting to dive in all at once, which is a surefire way for me to fail.

So, what about you guys? Is this something that you’ve always wanted to try? What do you feel like are your biggest hang-ups to getting started?

Any questions for me that I didn’t answer? I’m no expert, but I’ll certainly do my best to answer anything you ask.

10 Day Cleanse BEFORE + AFTER Results

I told y’all two weeks ago that I was embarking on a 10 day clean-eating “skinny cleanse” (the girl who came up with it called it that, not me) and that I would keep you updated. Well, if you followed along on Instagram (@misformama), then you probably got more than your fill of my daily meal updates (think: LOTS of colorful plates of yumminess), but, now that it’s over, I wanted to do an official results blog post.

Honestly, I pretty much don’t weigh myself anymore. I haven’t for several years now. In fact, the only two times I have weighed myself in the past year before this cleanse were at 27 weeks pregnant with Theo and then a couple of times postpartum.

However, with a definite change in my eating habits, I was curious to know how my body would respond, so I did weigh and measure before and then immediately after the cleanse.

And here’s what I discovered:

Over the course of 10 days of eating almost exclusively proteins + fruits + veggies + good fats and drinking only water, I lost 5 pounds and 9 inches from my upper arms, thighs, and waist.

To say that I was pleased with those numbers is quite the understatement, but it wasn’t until I saw the before and after pictures that I really understood the full extent of what a mere 10 days could do to my body composition.

{In all three of the pics below, the BEFORE is on the left, and the AFTER is on the right. The only editing I did was to lighten them because they were taken in a dark gym locker-room}

cleanse

cleanse1

cleanse3 I was honestly surprised that 5 pounds made that much of a difference. I could definitely feel it in the way my clothes were fitting, so I knew it wasn’t water weight, but seeing that last pic with the difference in my–ahem–caboose really made me excited for the progress I’d made on losing my last 10-12ish pounds of baby weight. I think the loss that surprised me the most was 1 1/4″ off of each bicep, but looking at the second pic, I can definitely see where it came from.

I didn’t take any before and after pics of this because I didn’t anticipate it, but I could tell a difference in my skin as well. It looked more even, with fewer of the tiny, ever-present red splotches that make BB cream so necessary to smooth everything out.

If you’re curious about exactly what I ate and how it made me feel, never fear. I’ll be sharing all of those gory details (with recipes!) tomorrow.

But the short version is: I felt great on the cleanse. I never experienced any withdrawals. I had very few cravings. I ate some of the best food I’ve had in months. And my milk supply was great, thanks to lots of good fats and an average of 90 ounces of water a day.

I actually went on a girls’ weekend with my friend, Lindsay (who did the cleanse with me), and some other girls last weekend, and ate “normal” for 2 days. And, while, I enjoyed the treats (Fro-yo! Icees! Fried rice! Pizza), I definitely noticed that I felt more sluggish and bloated after meals in which I indulged.

Which is why I’m back on the clean-eating wagon, with some modifications to allow for occasional treats, some dairy, and some carbs that weren’t allowed for the 10 days.

In fact, I’m off to make my eggs with veggies now. :)

Amazon Mother’s Day Gift Guide {Under $50}

With Mother’s Day just a little over a week away, I thought it might be fun to do a round-up of gift ideas from Amazon again a la my Christmas guides from the last two years (you can find them here, here, here, and here, and MOST of the items from those lists are still available and would also make great Mother’s Day gifts).

While a lot of these items are practical, I always find myself drawn to the colorful, the quirky, and the unique, so if you’re anything like me, but your mom’s not, then you can just buy yourself a Mother’s Day present. (I won’t tell anybody).

Of course, these would also make great graduation or end-of-year teacher gifts, so your recipient demographic is pretty varied, I’d say.

ANYhoo, without further ado, here are my picks for Mother’s Day gifts.

motherdaygiftguide

1.

I’m a big fan of cutting boards. Now, mine aren’t very pretty, mind you, but I still use them all. the. time. This bamboo set is a top-rated, best-selling item on Amazon and looks like the perfect surface for cutting or even as a cheeseboard.

2.

Honestly, these knives are a little bit funky, even for me, but they would definitely make dinner prep more fun.

3.

On the completely opposite end of the chopping spectrum, this is a decently priced, well-reviewed, very neutral knife set.

4.

A good friend gave me this book, and I love how Lisa Jo Baker (whom I’ve met in real life) conveys her mothering experiences with humor and empathy.

5.

These candles are amazing. Yes, they’re kind of pricey, but the pretty packaging + yummy scents + a decently long burn time definitely make them stand out.

6.

These little woodland creature thank you cards are SO stinkin’ cute. I love the pastel colors and chic pattern combos.

7.

This light, quilted throw is so bright and cheerful that it makes me want to wrap up in it with a mug of hot tea, even if the forecast for the weekend is 85 degrees and sunny.

8.

I love Tocca perfume. I wear Florence, and it hits all the right notes of sweetness, musk, and spice. I’ve had my mini-bottle for over a year now, and even though I use it often, a little goes a long way, and I have lots left. I’ve sampled several other scents and liked them all.

9.

This tea towel just makes me happy. Actually pretty much everything by Sarah Watts does. Her designs are so pretty and whimsical.

10.

I’ll be honest, these timers don’t have the greatest reviews, but they are so adorable that I might be okay if they didn’t always work perfectly.

11.

This one’s another Sarah Watts design and would be a great gift if you’ve got a sewing-lover in your life.

12.

This tea set is pretty and has multiple color options, so if you like the look but don’t love the color of this one, be sure to check out the others.

13.

I don’t know too many women who don’t love good nail polish, and the following three sets all have great colors for any skin tone at reeeeeally good prices. It would be super-easy to buy a set and split it up among multiple teachers/grads/mamas as a fun add-on to a larger gift.

14.

I wouldn’t normally recommend a $40 recipe box, but then again, I’ve never seen such a beautiful recipe box. Honestly, I love pretty much everything Rifle Paper Co. makes, and this is no exception.

15.

I know I’ve recommended this necklace several times, but I really do love it. Mine has an “M” on it for “Mama,” which would be an appropriate gift for any mother, in my humble opinion. But you could also just choose the initial of whomever you’re gifting it to, or even her children’s initials if you want to add multiple discs.

Disclosure: these are affiliate links and, should you purchase any of these items, I will receive a small percentage of the cost at no extra expense to you.